Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina's Aftermath: How to Help

GM is offering to match donations made to the Red Cross by GM employees. Info is in their blog of course.

For the rest of us non-GM employees here are some handy links:

Red Cross

America's Second Harvest

HUmane Society of the US


Foothill Alum out in the world: Austin Ku

Austin Ku, Anthony in last Winter's Sweeney Todd, writes to tell us:

"I'm performing in "Much Ado About Nothing" with the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival (Shakespeare in the Park) this summer--and it's FREE!!!

In case you are not familiar with the show, it's a witty comedy about 2 couples and their love/hate relationships, throw in a lot of misunderstandings and scheming on the part of the half-brother villain. I play Balthasar, the messenger/minstrel--a supporting part who has a couple of scenes and also sings a couple of songs over the course of the play.

We're in the SF Presidio all 4 weekends of September (Sat's at 7:30, Sun's at 2:30, special Labor Day performance at 2:30).

It's outdoors, so bring whatever food (and drink!) you like along with your lawn chairs/blankets and layers (in case it gets chilly--esp. the Sat. evenings in SF); have a nice picnic dinner and booze it up while watching a show!

Booze it up? Moi? Well, actually no, because I developed an allergy to alcohol about 4 years ago...terrible right? Thank God for good theatre to ease the pain!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Cross-post from 42nd St. Moon: Ellen Greene at Martuni's

Saw Ellen Greene in the extremely intimate surroundings of Martuni's back room yesterday afternoon. My first time seeing her live although I've seen her on screen and heard her recordings many many times. I have her latest CD and recommend it too.

Here's my review of her performance.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

New Blog in Blog Roll: Cool as Hell Theatre Podcast

There aren't too many Bay Area theatre folks out there blogging, but meet a new one on the scene and new one on our Blog Roll.

Michael Rice conducts his own Bay Area Internet Radio Talk Show in the modestly titled Cool as Hell Theatre Podcast blog. He's been doing it for less than 2 months and already has posted 14 podcasts. He does reviews and interviews, focusing on our local theatre scene.

Check him out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Brigadoon is over...where can you go see theatre now?

Well, I happen to have some suggestions of course:

If you missed the combination gospel musical/oral history piece, Crowns, at TheatreWorks (well, even if you already saw it and loved it) you are in luck! The show has been moved up to the City to the Marines Memorial Theatre.

And you can get $10 off every ticket for every performance with the promotion code "HatsOff." The show is currently set to run through 9/18. Full details can be found here

If your musical taste runs toward swing, our even retro lounge, then you might just have to make your way to the Post Street Theatre in SF to see The Tribute: to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean. Yes it is what you think: a tribute to the Ratpack. You can get a very helpful 40% off every ticket for every performance through September 4th. The promotion code is "Ratpack", and full details can be found here

Lastly, 42nd St. Moon's season opener is Cole Porter's Red, Hot & Blue. Get 20% off all performances (excluding Sunday Matinees) by using the promotion code "Red Hot" either on the phone at 415-978-2787 or b walking up to the window at the Yerba Buena Center Box Office before the show date. The sow starts previews on 9/22 and runs for four weekends. This is a limited availability offer.

So, there you go..plenty of theatre-viewing opportunities out there.

And remember if you're a Foothill alum, I'll post yours here too.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Now they need a chica

I wrote last week about a couple of local theatre companies in desperate need of men. No comment from the peanut gallery, please.

Now it seems one still needs a woman. Here's the plea from the producer of STOC's production of Godspell:

"We actually had a full cast for one brief shining moment. Then someone realized that she has a family reunion or something opening weekend. So, we're looking for a "Robin", the character that sings Day by Day.

The director is looking for a second soprano -- with a sweet and innocent type of look, preferably (but not necessarily) lithe -- should be energetic, but not forceful or demanding -- eager to volunteer and first to take a leap of faith. The first one to commit and the last to leave.

Apparently they have a potential person, but someone who also has a bunch of conflicts, so a) that might fall through anyway, and b) directors hate conflicts :)

So, if you've ever wanted to sing the bit-hit song from Godspell (one of the first 45s I ever bought if you can believe it) then contact:

Kevin or Claire Cormier

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Briga-cast knows how to party

Post-strike Cast Party: I'm not sure what precipitated this moment, but it does look like they're having fun:

Hat tip to Ray Renati for the pic.

More audience comments...the cute edition

Mike Rhone reports on the best compliment he's heard about Brigadoon:

"I couldn't resist passing on one comment from last weekend. After the show, I was chatting with some friends of mine, when I noticed two small girls standing behind me. I turned to them, and one of them said in a shy voice, "you were really good in the movie."

I smiled at them and didn't respond right away (trying to keep from laughing), and she caught on and said "I mean in the *play*!"

I'm pretty sure that's the cutest comment I'll get.

Monday, August 15, 2005

My blogging worlds collide

I write both theatre blogs and other blogs, including a blog about health care. It's not very often that the same story would be appropriate for both my theatre blogs and my health care blog, but today that happened.

Over at HealthyConcerns, I link to and discuss an article from a New York doctor giving Ten Tips to Singers.

Check it out.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

My Brigadoon Review

Well, I'm a little late to send droves of people to the theatre with my review, given that the show closes today. But I did finally see the show Friday night and have posted my Top 5 Things I Liked About Brigadoon over at my Personal Blog.

Couple of notes on why I do that:

1. Because usually I review earlier in a run, and I don't like to put spoilers here in the show blog.

2. Because some of the actors read this blog, and some of them don't like to see reviews, even good ones.

3. Because that's where I put all my reviews of everything else I read, see or listen to, so that's where Foothill reviews go too.

4. And why "The Top 5 Things I Like"? Well, because let's face it, I'm biased. I work for Foothill Music Theatre; I know the people involved. So I just do my Top 5 list for every theatre I work for and leave it at that.

Today is Closing Day...and Strike. Everyone starts moving on now...and we'll let you know where they're off to nexta s the news comes in.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Last weekend starts tonight

Hard to believe. This is the way it always is.

When you come to Day One of rehearsal Opening Night seems like eons away. Plenty of time. Nothin' to worry about.

At about the 2-weeks-prior mark you get hit with a bit of a shock. You open next week. Tech and all its joys start within a few days. Wait a minute. You're pretty sure you had forever to get this together originally!

The last week before Opening seems to go by in a flash, even as the more tedious rehearsals where all the technical elements come together seem to last for days.

Then you open.

And before you know it, it's Closing Weekend.

Now I will tell you my dirty, little secret: many of we theatre people are rather peripatetic in nature...going from show to show to show. A bunch of the cast already knows the next show they're in, and some of them have already started rehearsal, overlapping with Brigadoon performances. That being in our nature, many of us are secretly ready for the next show to go through the same cycle.

So, along with the melancholy feeling that you're about to be separated from your new family (and director Jay Manly often talks movingly about the theatre as extended family) there's that excitement and anticipation about the next project and the next family you're joining.

Closing Weekends are filled with mixed emotion such as that. Which often makes the performances only richer.

I guess I'll find out because I'm seeing it tomorrow night. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I don't mean to bug you, but...

...have you seen the show yet?

I ask becuse I care, and I just got an update that Brigadoon is selling extremely well:

"Brigadoon is setting ticket sales records! Apparently the closing show is as close to sold out as the Smithwick Theatre gets, and we're expecting good crowds all weekend. So any slackers out there had better get their tickets now!"

Not that I'm calling you a slacker of course. I mean, I'm not even seeing it until Friday.

But if you were planning to, you might want to get on it, that's all.

And don't forget to get the code to get $3 off per ticket.

Keeping it fresh

I asked the cast what, if anything, is changing about the show.

It's kind of a trick question, coming from me, because I am a firm believer that keeping it fresh does not require making major changes that would throw other people off. You can keep it fresh on the inside, and that's all it takes for the audience to get the full experience.

Let me give you an example of "keeping it fresh" can go horribly awry.

I was in a show about 7 years ago (at Foothill as it happens) and there was a scene where my leading man had to "restrain" me, from which I had to break away. Well, as performances slid by my leading man got more and more enthusiastic in his efforts to restrain me, forgetting that, in fact, it's supposed to be acting. Finally one night I had to struggle so hard to get away that when I finally did the momentum sent me falling right on my butt. Maybe he felt that was fresh. I felt it was painful!

So I was actually pleased to get this response to the question from Ray Renati:

"I think that it really hasn't changed much. I see that as a good thing. Jay and Tyler and Brandon really worked hard to make sure it was ready for an audience on opening night. I think the challenge has been to keep it fresh and alive. Speaking for myself, I have found a few subtleties to things that happen in the play for Jeff (my character) that have kept it new and interesting for me. The one thing that has helped me enormously is the addition of the bagpipes during the funeral scene. All I have to do is sit an listen to the bagpipe music along with the people weeping on stage and I'm ready for my next scene. It really puts me in the right place mentally."

Exactly! Keeping it fresh to yourself mentally will mean it's always fresh to the audience...even if nothing has phsyically changed! Great answer.

More casting woes; more men needed

Foothill seems to have sucked all the male musical theatre actors into the black hole of Brigadoon never to be seen again for 100 years.

First I got the desperate plea from my friends at STOC to post that they needed people for Godspell (and thanks to those of you who responded.)

Now BusBarn Theatre is having a male emergency.

To quote an email I received this morning:

"Last night during our Aida rehearsal at Busbarn, I found out that three men just dropped out of our show the past 3 days due to external circumstances. We need a Pharoah and an Amonoroso (older men) as well as a couple of male ensemble members. This is our last attempt to ask anyone to spread the word and rally up any men who would be willing to be in our show. The show would run from Sept 9-Oct1 in Los Altos.

PLEASE spread the word for us and keep your fingers crossed.

If you or anyone you know is interested, please have them contact:

Barbara J. Cannon

Can anyone lend a hand? Contact Barbara ASAP!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Brigadoon inspires volunteerism!

Just received a great email from a blog reader (hi there!)

It started with a great review: "I took my family to see Brigadoon this afternoon and we all liked it very much."

And ended with an inquiry into whether the reader and his teenage son could volunteer to work behind the scenes on Foothill productions...lights, sets etc.

I forwarded the inquiry along, but I gotta say that Brigadoon is clearly inspiring in more ways than one!

What I really wonder is if anyone will take up the bagpipes after seeing the show?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Urgent casting call...Godspell needs you

The Studio Theatre of California in Sunnyvale needs some principal roles filled in their impending production of Godspell.

If you've ever wanted to be Jesus, Judas, or sing "Turn Back O Man", here is your chance.

They've already held auditions, but are still looking for their special someones. Here's more info on the performances and such.

STOC is a little theatre that could, founded and run by people who loved and did theatre in the area...and wanted to do more. (Don't we all dream of doing this just a little bit.)

I actually love the score of Godspell, and the rehearsal/performance schedule seems pretty reasonable. I'd do it if I could.

So, maybe some of you Foothill-ites can help out?

If you're interested, please contact me and I will pass your info along.

Original audition info was on Artsopolis here.

Friday, August 05, 2005

More compliments from the audience

"As a dancer and ensemble member, I don't expect people to remember me specifically as they leave the theater (although one lovely woman told me the funeral dance I did as Maggie was wonderful, I corrected her and told her I would give Alicia (Teeter) the compliment), however, one couple approached me last weekend and told me, "You sparkled up there! You were the happiest person on stage!" What a fabulous comment!" - Esther Selk

And here's an email I received from someone on Foothill's email mailing list. Can I just tell you how rare it is for anyone on an email mailing list, even if they signed up to be on it, to respond? Very, very rare.

But here it is:

"This show was Glorious!! ***** for singers, sets, leads - extremely well done! Much enjoyed, J.O."

And no, J.O. isn't masking curses with all those asterices. That's meant to represent five stars!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Some Briga-dudes already have future plans

OK, I'm not calling anyone a theatre addict or anything, but let's just say that some folks can't go very long without their performance-fix.

Here are some folks who already have their next gig lined up:

"I was anxious and nervous last week, as I had nothing scheduled past the August 14th, final performance of "Brigadoon". Too bad I didn't remember, "be careful what you ask for from the universe, you just might get it!". I was cast as Mr. Brownlow in WVLO's production of "Oliver", as Baron Elberfeld in SCP's production of "Sound of Music", and as Lt. Munoz in SCP's production of "City of Angels". As "Oliver" and "City of Angels" run the same dates, I had to choose, and I opted for the one where I would get to sing (that is where my heart is): Lt. Munoz in "City of Angels". So, I now have a full plate until right before Thanksgiving and the holidays. - Bill Ereñata

"I will be performing the part of the Pharaoh in Aida at Bus Barn in September. And then in November, I am playing Lieutenant Schrank in West Side Story at American Musical Theatre of San Jose." - Ray Renati

"For the next year, I'm playing the character of "Bo" in "PEACE Signs," a violence prevention program and one of four shows produced by Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Programs. Look for me in elementary schools throughout Northern California." - Sean Fenton

Cross-post from 42nd St Moon: Have a great theatre story?

From the San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum Newsletter:

"Library researcher Brad Schreiber is an author, screenwriter, literary consultant and playwright living in Los Angeles. He has recently begun writing a book about things going terribly wrong during performances in the live theatre. It's called Stop the Show! A History of Absurd Incidents and Insane Accidents in the Theatre and it will be published next year by Thunder's Mouth Press. The book will be a collection of stories and anecdotes of actual mishaps, both tragic and comedic, that have taken place in the theatre in the past 100 years.

Brad needs your help. If you have a funny or tragic story to tell about an experience in the theatre, Brad would like to hear from you. Stories can be about the lowliest amateur production to Broadway and the West End. Standup comedy. Performance art. Personal anecdote or one gleaned from publication or a story told. United States or the UK, any time in the last 100 years or so. Onstage, backstage, in the audience, in the lobby, in the flies above the stage.

You can share your stories with Brad by e-mailing him at Brad promises that all contributors will be acknowledged, either in the body of the story, if the person is involved, or on an acknowledgments page, if the person is relating a story secondhand.

Now, just imagine if blogs had been around for the last 100 years, and theatre had them like Foothill does. How much easier would Brad's research be?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Nice little piece on Willow Glen-ites

The Willow Glen Times has a nice little article on its two locals in Brigadoon, MIchele Johnston (Fiona) and Brett Carlson (ensemble.)

Michele reports that the article is date-lined on her birthday, August 2nd. Happy belated birthday, Michele!

Michele reports these as the two nicest audience member reviews she has received:

"The most encouraging comments people have made to me after the show were friends and family who said that they forgot it was Michele up on the stage and saw only Fiona. Then, a woman from Scotland said my accent was wonderful...THANK YOU, TOM (our dialect coach)!!! Without him I am afraid Fiona would have sounded like she came from Ireland. :) "

I don't envy them all with the Scottish accents. Accents are funny. You don't always realize how they're connected, and how easy it is to slip from one into another. I once did a monolog in school that was in an uppercrust British accent and one time I actually found myself slipping into a Scarlett O'Hara-type Southern accent. And believe it or not, the two are really closely related!

What the cast is hearing...

The show has been open two weeks and has two weeks to go. You've read the rave reviews, which are great to get.

But I thought I'd also ask the cast what the nicest compliments have been that they've received from audience members. I got some nice responses so far:

"The audiences love the show; love the beauty of the show; love it so much that they come back and bring the grandchildren. Personally, my friends said "you REALLY like performing, don't you?" "It was the same in South Pacific, you are so into the moment". Made me feel that maybe I was doing something right. LOL" - Bill Ereñata

"I had a friend (who rarely goes to the shows I’m in because she’s not a real “musicals” person) say that she’d really like to see it TWICE! And my husband has already been twice, and loved it!" - Dee Baily

"How about the most amusing compliment? A lady told me that she liked the fact that I played Jeff as very "nonplus". I had to look it up in the dictionary when I got home. It means "To cause to be at a loss as to what to think, say, or do; to confound; to perplex; to bewilder."" - Ray Renati

"This past weekend an elderly lady and her husband came up to me after the show to congratulate us all on the show. She mentioned that she and her husband saw it on Broadway back when they were courting just after WWII. They are getting close to their 60th wedding anniversary (according to the original run on Broadway, it seems like it would be closer to their 59th or 58th wedding anniversary) so it was nice for them to get to see Brigadoon again. !!! How sweet is that!!!" - James Thompson

Wow, that's pretty sweet!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Brigadoon Outreach

A little bird told me about an annual trip that some Brigadoon cast members took today:

"Today a group of us went to Stanford University to meet with two ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. We discussed how each of us prepared for our roles; demonstrated some dance steps and got them engaged in trying them; had a sing a long of "Almost Like Being In Love"; read some scenes; gave them some tips on choices to make when reading scenes, and then had them read scenes.

Everyone seemed to have a great time, and the teachers said, that without exception, each year the students say that the visit and the subsequent trip to the actual production are the highlight of this summer program. Those from the cast included, John, Scott, Kimberly, Ray, Gavin, and Bill. The classes will be in the front row on Friday night experiencing "Brigadoon", and hopefully, will join the cast in the final reprise of "Almost Like Being in Love".

I don't know about the rest of the cast, but I had a ball. Particularly getting the students from Italy to let go of their inhibitions and "projecting to the people in the back row"; these lovers of Verdi and Puccini know that they don't tolerate miking.

Wow. They didn't do that back when I was performing at Foothill. I wonder how many years they've been doing it. Sounds totally cool. You may think it's somewhat trite to say that music is a universal language, but it totally is.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A nice column in the Mountain View Voice

Not a review, but rather a lengthy look at Brigadoon from the point of view of director Jay Manley and romantic male lead Tim Reynolds.

Another rave review from the Palo Alto Weekly

So far Brigadoon is batting 1.000, as evidenced by yet another rave review.

Some key excerpts:

"Jay Manley is truly a genius at staging huge lavish musicals, as evidenced by the bonny production of "Brigadoon" that Foothill Music Theatre has mounted this summer."

"FMT's reputation is such that it attracts excellent talent from all over the Bay Area. Reynolds as Tommy and Johnston as Fiona seem made for their roles, with gorgeous voices and attractive looks. Their duet on the well-known standard "Almost Like Being In Love" is one of the show's highlights. One of their other duets, "From This Day On," has me humming its haunting melody days afterward."

And I love that reviewer Jeannie Forte brings up what people so often miss about musicals: they are really always about heightened, but real, human emotions. I had a teacher once who used to say that in musicals one bursts into song when so full of emotion that mere spoken words can't convey it. Forte calls out the real, human aspects here:

"Interwoven are a couple of subplots, dealing with very human emotions such as jealousy, revenge, and desire -- Brigadoon may be immune from outside taints, but its denizens are still prey to human faults and foibles. There's even tragedy mixed in with the joy of a wedding, leading to a sequence involving a bagpipe that is moving and beautifully staged."

So, two weekends left. Have you seen Brigadoon yet? Get on it!

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