Monday, February 28, 2005

Summer musical auditions scheduled

The dates have been set for auditions for Brigadoon, this summer's musical.

And it's less than two weeks away.

So check out all the details here.

A Chours Line at AMTSJ

Saw A Chorus Line last night. Review here.

Bottom line: I really liked it. It's hard not to like this show to be honest, but they do a fine job.

Despite the fact that this was supposed to be one of the "home-produced" shows on AMT's stage this season, most of the principals are from out of town. At least their next show, Tapestry, actually does feature a slew of locals, including our very own Sweeney Todd, James Iglehart.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Sweeney Reviews start coming in...

Here's a rave from Inside Bay

It's not quite a review, but it makes the "What's Hot" list on

I'll keep you posted.

PS-If you don't like spoilers then don't read this review...the guy gives away a major plot point. I know there aren't too many of you out there who haven't seen it, but if you're one of them...consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Foothill Folks Blog

Just discovered that a couple of "Sweeney" cast members blog themselves.

Found out because Ray Renati linked to this blog.

Ray's had the blog for a while, but hadn't posted in quite some time...until inspired by his "Sweeney" activities, judging by appearances.

Then Ray also points us to Martin Rogas-Dietrich's blog. martin also seemed to be on a bit of a blog break until Sweeney opened, but now he's posting pretty often.

Check out both these actor blogs.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Great First Take from Talkin' Broadway's Regional Reviewer

Richard Conneman, the regional reviewer for Talkin' Broadway, posted his initial thoughts on yesterday's matinee of "Sweeney.

Can you say glowing?

His full review is coming, but with an intro like this I think it's safe to say it's going to get the full complement of stars.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

What you can find when you ego-surf

Ego-surfing: the practice of regularly using Google, Technorati and other tools to track what people are saying about you, your clients, your company on the web.

Today I found a blogger who has a connection to Foothill. In fact she did the dialect coaching for "Sweeney".

And she was quite impressed with everyone. Check it out.

Friday, February 18, 2005

First review from last night's Preview

Got a report back from a little bird who went to see last night's free Preview of "Sweeney":

"I liked it (what I could see and hear of it, anyway). It was a packed house (lots of students and cheapskates like me), and I didn't arrive until just a few minutes before curtain. Hence, I ended up with a bad seat in the front row way house right. [snip] The voices were great, the acting good, and the trick barber chair worked every time! My only big complaint (and I had this with "Candide" too) is that these scores demand full orchestras, not combos."

So, it sounds like the lesson here is to buy your tickets early enough to have good seats. Remember this is being played in the small Foothill Playhouse, so a) not that many seats and b) when the full cast is on stage you might not have full visibility from the front row, since there's no rise.

The comment about orchestras is a valid one. Actually with "Candide" Foothill used a recorded track for the Overture only, since there's no singing, it's just staged business. The tough part of trying to use a recording for the rest of the show is that it really removes some of the spontaneity and doesn't allow singers to be as individual with their songs as they might like to be.

It's a problem not just for little spaces like Foothill. Many, many tours that go out on the road can't afford to do with the big, full orchestras you have on Broadway. You do often end up with synthesized strings rather than the real deal, even for National Tours.

I look at this as the essential give and take when you take works and give them a new spin in a more intimate space. You may lose on having a big orchestra or some really extravagant stage craft. But you win in other ways...certainly you are more a part of the action, more involved than when you've got that distancing proscenium between you and the story.

Well, we'll see if I agree or disagree with my Preview reviewer when I see the show in 2 weeks.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Can't Believe It: Preview is Tonight!

OK, time really does fly, and the older you get, the faster.

It has crept up on me and is therefore quite shocking for me to realize that "Sweeney" opens tomorrow night, and tonight is the free preview!

So if you love great theatre, but are on a tight budget, tonight is a great way to go.

Remember you can go to the Foothill Musicals site for all the details.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Foothill's Diane Milo in "The Taffetas"

She's sounding as lovely as ever, and there's some tight 4-part harmony on ample display in Tabard Theatre's production of the Taffetas. It's now playing at the Bella Mia restaurant, where you can see the show, or make it a dinner package.

My full review is here.

I hear Bella Mia is looking to bring in theatrical productions to their upstairs banquet room on a more regular basis, and I also hear Foothill alum CJ Blankenship will be bringing a show there in the near future.

As long as you're reading all about what I've seen lately, I went to see the original Mother in "Ragtime", Marin Mazzie, up in Marin last weekend. Here's my recap of that.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Relishing the chance to play "mean"!

Our Sweeney, James Iglehart, was one of the performers at the TheatreWorks gala last week.

After the show a little bird I know approached her friend James and teased him that the publicity shots for "Sweeney" made him look like the "nicest Sweeney ever." [See, James has a bit of a reputation as one of the nicest guys on Earth.] The little bird might have been citing this photo:

Of course, those of you who saw James in "Ragtime" know he can show a dark's not like Coalhouse is a big ol' teddy bear in Act II, you know?

James told the little bird that he was relishing the opportunity to play someone who is unabashedly mean. And if you at this publicity shot, I'd say he looks pretty scary. Maybe it's the big knife:

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I review a local production...and admit how bias affects reviews

Fellow Foothill alum Robin and I have often discussed local shows we've seen. He always complains when reviewers review the piece, not the production.

In other words, he'd rather read about how a particular group of actors/performers did with a given piece of work, rather than lengthy dramaturgy about the piece itself.

I can argue that when it's a new work, giving some frame of reference about the piece itself is necessary, but I can agree that when someone is reviewing the umpteenth production of R&H's "South Pacific", one hardly needs to go on at length about the work's strengths and weaknesses. But even if one doesn't go on about it, I would argue that it impacts your review.

So, I recently saw several Foothill alums in SDG's South Pacific, and posted my review here.

But most of the review is really just me explaining how my dislike of "South Pacific" does impact what I think of the production.

Thought y'all might find it interesting.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Some folks don't get blogging

So I had dinner with a dear friend of mine this weekend who also happens to be in the ensemble of "Sweeney."

With the blog in the back of my mind I asked him: "So, how's it going?"

Him: "It's going really good."

Me: "How are James & Diana [Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett] doing?"

Him: "They're doing really good."

Me: "How's Keite [Johanna] doing?"

Him: "Really good."

Me: "Hmmm...any good rehearsal stories?"

Him: "Hmmm, can't think of any."

And so on.

I did learn from him how they're managing to handle one of the signature set pieces of any production of "Sweeney", the barbershop and extra, special barber chair. But I don't even want to give that away, since if you don't know the show it's quite a turning point when that chair shows up!


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Speaking of's one for TheatreWorks...which reminds me of a story

Saw the TheatreWorks production of Ken Ludwig's "Shakespeare in Hollywood" last weekend. Here's my review.

The production features Foothill Conservatory alumni Noel Wood among others. It also features local star Gerry Hiken in a pivotal role.

Just to prove that the world is very connected I'm going to tell a little story:

25 years ago I went with a high school group to New York and had an incredible theatre week, including the original production of "Sweeney" as I've already discussed, the original production of "Evita" and others.

Of course there were also a couple of other shows we saw that we were perhaps not mature enough to really get (or, who knows, maybe they were just not that good.)

One was Lillian Hellman's "Watch on the Rhine", starring Madge the dishwashing liquid lady. Unbeknownst to many Jan Miner was actually a respected theatre actress while she was busy raking in the residuals as Madge. But we found it deadly dull.

Then there was "Strider." Now in today's world of "The Lion King" perhaps "Strider" would not seem like such an anomaly. A bunch of grown people walking around pretending to be horses would be no big deal. I guess "Equus" had already opened 2 years prior. But I certainly hadn't seen that (mature content and all.) So suffice to say we high school students couldn't quite get past the horsey sounds (which we had great fun making for the rest of our trip.)

"Strider" starred Gerry Hiken. He got a Tony Award nomination for it even. And it's one of only a handful of shows he mentions in his bio.

So, 1979...I saw "Sweeney" and saw local actor Hiken.

But that's not all: 10 years ago Foothill did "Assassins." "Assassins" is a controversial show and one that some think requires "bravery" to put on. I'd agree if we had done it in the big 1000-seat theatre. Doing it in the studio theatre meant we could fill it up with Sondheim freaks alone!

But who should write a letter to Jay praising the show? Gerry Hiken. I remember Jay reading it to us!

Yes, we should sing Kumbayah now, because we are truly all connected in mysterious ways.

"Ragtime"'s Mother is now Nellie

I've been remiss. I should have mentioned long ago that Mary Melnick, the lovely Mother in last summer's production of "Ragtime" has a new gig running.

She's playing Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific" at the Saratoga Drama Group through February 19th.

Quite a range of roles, wouldn't you say?

I'm seeing it this Saturday myself. Review will surely follow.

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