Monday, July 31, 2006

Opening Night Report: Annie nearly pops a squirrel for supper!

Here's an eyewitness report from Opening Night that proves once again that live theatre is nothing if not unpredictable:
On Annie's first entrance early in Act I, she tries to sell the game she has shot. Asked what she has to sell, by hotel owner Wilson, she responds, "Quails, ducks, pheasants, geese squirrels, possums, wild turkeys, rabbits..." If she had been sitting in the eighth row center, she might have noticed a squirrel which dropped from the theatre lighting position above, into the audience, before scurrying out of sight. Apparently so intent on Annie's performance, there was barely a flutter in the audience.

A few minutes later, however, while Annie was singing "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun," if she had been looking upstage, she might well have gotten a squirrel, as our friend (We're naming him - only a guess at the true gender - "Irving," after our composer, Irving Berlin), scampered onto the stage, darted upstage and crossed from left to right, jumping ("squirrel choreography" of course) a couple of times to be silhouetted against the orange sky.

Other audience members reported our stage-struck Irving dashing down the full length of the theatre aisle.

After the performance, Foothill veteran (The Most Happy Fella, The Music Man) Hank Lawson, who with his wife Marcia were in the opening night audience, along with director Jay Manley, managed to corner Irving and then scoot him outside and into the night.

Which all just goes to prove that even in the animal kingdom, "there's no business like show business!"

I'm just glad the squirrel had a happy and unharmed ending!

Final Dress Rehearsal report #1

We had our final dress last night with an audience. Wow, was that awesome to finally have an audience!

Annie had a wardrobe malfunction during "Sun In The Morning". During the song her ball gown bodice progressivelly got unzipped in the back. "Charlie" and "Sitting Bull" watched as the zipper went progressively down her back.

Charlie presumed that Sitting Bull would try to zip her back up when he met up with her at the end of the song. Well, Sitting Bull was so mesmerized by her performance that it went in one eye and out the other. In the wings Charlie and SB confabbed about what to do. Charlie was the next to go on and interact with Annie. He tried to zip her back up and failed.

Meanwhile, Sitting Bull was in the wings trying to figure out what he could do to help her out. In the course of trying to figure it out he missed his cue to come back on stage (fortunately no dialogue.)

Annie finished her scenes, didn't lose her composure, and got kudos from us for dealing with the whole thing without breaking character.

Finally, during the curtain call, Sitting Bull lost his headdress. His last costume change is extremely quick, and he forgot to slip off his wig from the previous scene. So, in the Fianl Shooting Match he entered with 4 pigtails, not 2. When he went to make his bow his headdress slid off his head.

I hate to admit it, but that's the beauty of live theatre - you never know what to expect!

Luckily it is Sitting Bull Steve Completo himself exposing his own missed entrances and more above. Having had a wardrobe malfunction or two in my of which concluded with me just tearing the damn skirt off, throwing it off stage and finishing the number in my crinoline...I can certainly sympathize with Jessica/Annie.

The show most definitely goes on, no matter how improperly clothed we may be!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The "New" Annie Get Your Gun

Last we heard from director Jay Manley he told us stories about the original Annie Get Your Gun and how it made its way to the Broadway stage. And he promised us more information about this version of Annie (the recent revival version) and what exactly is different about it. So here is that info:
The “New” Annie Get Your Gun, “Political Correctness,” and What Changed
By Jay Manley

When Annie Get Your Gun first bowed on Broadway in 1946, the notion of “political correctness” was unknown. As a nation, we have become more conscious of our pluralism as a people with the rise of “liberation movements” - African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Gay, Senior, disabled… well, the list goes on and on!

“Political correctness” has become something of a joke, and sadly, in my opinion, it is now even fair game for it to be virtually discounted. While it has certainly seen plenty of silly excesses, at its best, political correctness for me means a respect for others, their traditions and history, and a conscious attempt to continually educate oneself about others. In that way, I think we stand the best chance of honoring and not stupidly offending others.


So what does all this have to do with Annie…?

Annie, in its initial presentation, is a potential “P.C. Felon” on two counts: I have talked to many women who are turned off by Annie’s mindless adoration of Frank (an estimation very much bolstered by the awful film version). Then there’s the depiction of Native Americans (in 1946, we just called them “Indians”) which is pretty hard to stomach in 2006.

In revising Annie, writer Peter Stone (“1776,” “Titanic,” “Woman of the Year,” “My One and Only,” etc.), uses much of the original book, but does a very deft job of inserting a sly, contemporary take on both of these troublesome issues. In his ‘92 Broadway revision, Annie emerges as a competent, competitive force of nature who is every inch Frank’s equal and requires him to meet her more than half way. The presence of Chief Sitting Bull (who did, indeed, appear with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show) has been adjusted, successfully, as well.

But what else changed in the revision? Peter Stone made the entire new show a flashback, in which Buffalo Bill recalls his heyday. He takes us backwards to recall the story of Annie and Frank. The show no longer begins with a pageant-like opening number about Buffalo Bill, but with the show that is the signature piece of Annie, and perhaps the American musical, as well, “There’s No Business Like Show Business!” Interestingly, this song was added to the original show, when a cover for scene changes was necessary; no one dreamed it would become a virtual anthem for the theatre.

Stone adds two new characters, the bi-racial (Native American/Irish) Tommy, and his love interest, Winnie. The matronly Dolly has been transformed into a much younger, comic character, who longs for Frank, always unsuccessfully. Her presence lends a nice tension to Annie’s relationship with Frank.

Three new songs appear: “Old Fashioned Wedding,” written by Berlin for a post-1946 revival, and two comic/dance numbers for Tommy and Winnie, both of which were written by Berlin for the original production, but never used. Apart from the old “Buffalo Bill” opening number, two other songs have been deleted: “I’m An Indian, Too,” now a rather embarrassing piece of hokum, full of imagined “Indian” words (think of Eulalie Shinn in “The Music Man,”: “I will now count to ten in the Indian tongue,” intending to be taken as authentic) and Frank’s “I’m A Bad, Bad Man.” He was already bad enough! No loss to lose any of these songs, in my opinion.

To my mind, Stone’s revision was a welcome one, which hopefully rescues this classic gem from the musical graveyard. I’ll be interested to see what audiences, and particularly those who loved the original, think about our “new” Annie Get Your Gun.” Feel free to share your thoughts with me - <>

I could swear that when I was in Annie... in 1978 (as a very young person, I assure you) that Old Fashioned Wedding was in there. And because the Internet is a marvelous thing I was able to do a little Googling and discover that after it was added for the 1966 revival version at Lincoln Center, that 1966 version became the most commonly produced version.

I'm glad to hear that "I'm an Indian Too" was cut. That was embarrassing back in 1978!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sometimes things don't go quite as planned...

I have a report form Annie Get Your Gun's first dress rehearsal, and it sounds like a typical first dress to me. A little birdie tells me:
Here's a fun one from last night. Monday was our first night with costumes. As we are all aware, the first night can be hectic as we adjust to the costume changes and how it affects our timing, etc. Late in Act II while Annie and Frank were onstage, everyone was busy changing costumes for the last scenes. Well, the scene went quicker than usual, so when it came time for the scene change (for this show the cast is performing most of the changes) one of the cast members got caught (literally) with his pants down. He made his scene change to much hilarity, and finally got to finish his costume change. The show must go on!

Indeed it must! But who new Annie was blue!

SPECIAL LIMITED OFFER: See Opening Weekend for half-price!

OK, everyone, we know you've been itching for something more than the small discounts Foothill offers via the blog or via its postcard mailer. You asked for it, you got it: Half price tickets for opening weekend!

Here are the deets:
Red Hot Last Minute Offer! BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE!

Due to a glitch in our giddyup, we find ourselves with a whole mess of extra tickets for this Friday and Saturday night's performances. And we want to have a nice raucous crowd for the cast and for the critics! So grab yer pardner and take advantage of a great offer!

Foothill Music Theatre can offer you a fantastic deal on tickets to Irving Berlin's smash hit musical, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN
With full orchestra and cast of 40!

"There's No Business Like Show Business!" So, bring the whole family - corral some friends - and remember it's nice and cool in our air conditioned theatre!

Regular prices:
Adults: $24, Seniors $22, Students: $18, Children: $10 (under 12)

SPECIAL OFFER: purchase two or more tickets and all tickets in your order are HALF PRICE!

(Discount only good for performances July 28 and 29. All sales are final, no exchanges or refunds. We're sorry, this offer is not valid with other discounts and does not apply to previously purchased tickets. But if you have already bought tickets, why not order some more? You must have some friends and family who would love to see this exuberant musical! Or pass this offer on to someone you love!)

To order your tickets, call our 24 hour box office line at 650-949-7414 You must mention the"TWO FOR ONE OFFER" when placing your order.


Yes, we're trying to get this offer online too, and I'll update this if we get it done, but in the meantime I'd act quickly and order via phone! (Shudder...real people interaction!! I truly have become an Internet Geek.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Meet two Annie Get Your Gun cast members...and Foothill newbies

Today we're talking to a couple more AGYG cast members who are making their Foothill debut in this show: Nikki Murgo and Angeline Navarro.

Nikki has been to Foothill productions before and been impressed with the quality, so she was finally motivated to audition. Meanwhile Angeline simply got an audition notice via Bay Area Theatre Bums and thought it sounded like something different. [Side note: it is kinda weird, isn't it, that Annie Get Your Gun was this huge hit filled with songs that are still standards today, and yet is relatively rarely-performed?]

I often wax poetic about how it is often those performances where something goes wrong that become most memorable. When a cast goes through a problem and recovers, it gets the audience on their we're all on the same team. And it reminds everyone that seeing live theatre is a completely one-time-only experience. Anything can and often does happen.

It's no wonder then, that cast members also often pick out mistakes or snafus as the most memorable moments in rehearsal or shows. I always ask cast members for those funny, memorable rehearsal moments, and Nikki and Angie pick what nearly everyone picks: when something goes wrong, and how everyone reacts to it.

In this case Nikki and Angie picked on our two leads, Jessica as Annie and Byron as Frank. One of them secretly cracks up every time Byron botches a lyric in the opening number because he "still kind of grumbles/hums the vocal line." The other swears that Jessica once mangled a lyric so badly in rehearsal that it came out sounding like she has just sung about a "butt mansion."

[Another side note: I really wish I knew the score well enough to even imagine what lyric that was supposed to be! Everybody's got their favorite botched lyric story. Mine involved Little Shop of Horrors, Mr. Mushnik and the line "...all of this great sex coming out of the blue..."]

Angie is a girl after my own heart because she loves " throughs because I get to see what everyone has been working on. It's fun to see the puzzle pieces being put together."

Nikki, meanwhile, is the first person I've ever seen answer the question about their favorite part of the theatrical process this way: "I love the challenge of the first vocal rehearsal with all of the sight reading."

After Annie Angie heads back to UC Irvine to continue pursuing her BA in theatre, meanwhile sounds like Nikki is off to get married...and to a guy she met while doing a show, no less! brings good things to life!

Welcome to Foothill Angie and Nikki!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Foothill Alum out in the World: Wendell Wilson

Wendell Wilson has discerning taste, so he has kindly waited to send out his current performance info until he felt confident that they've "finally got it."!

The "it" in question are these two pieces by David Rouda:
WHAT: Sperm WARFARE and Pomp and Circumstance
WHERE: Shelton Theatre on Union Square, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco
WHEN: Running now.
Thu/Sat 8:00 p.m.; Fri/Sun 7:00 p.m.
Closes Sunday July 30 @ 7:00 p.m.
Running time: 2 hours fifteen minutes plus intermission.

HOW MUCH: $20.00 general admission
HOW TO GET TICKETS: Tickets available at or by calling 1-800-838-3006 anytime.


Set in the sperm sample room of an in-vitro fertility clinic, Sperm WARFARE takes a hard look at how the biological clock impacts male-female relationships in sometimes role-reversing ways. As a 39-year-old determined wife rubs her frustrated husband the wrong way and a sensuous young nurse makes matters worse, husband and wife are forced to define themselves anew.

Set in a law firm and a courtroom, Pomp and Circumstance is about the personal trial of a talented yet suppressed young attorney coming to terms with his father, a famous and reluctantly retiring criminal defense lawyer, as they handle their first, and last, court trials. It explores the boundaries between sex and love, religious law and civil law, acting and reality, and parents and their children.

Produced by Shtickle Productions & Dana Harrison

Now, in case you're unable to tell from the name of the piece itself, Wendell offers this warning that Sperm Warfare is "R" rated.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Meet the cast member: Nina Vyedin

After hearing from these grizzled Foothill veterans, I thought it might be nice to talk to another Foothill newbie, like Nina.

This is Nina's first Foothill show, and she comes to Foothill via musical director Cathy Snider, who also directs choir at Nina's school. Cathy shares stories from rehearsals with her class, and apparently she's a pretty good raconteur because she motivated NIna to see for herself. It didn't hurt that Nina had seen Brigadoon last summer and was much impressed. Nina's favorite quote from Annie Get Your Gun musical director (and her choir director): "There's no breathing in musical theatre!"

Nina may be new to Foothill, but she's already hoping to return:

I'd like to return. I love the people. You don't find such a nice dynamic in many of the usual summer shows high school kids audition for. The last show I did outside of Harker had great direction and taught me a lot, but the other kids in it were so cliquey I never really felt a part of it. From day one at Foothill I knew I was part of a show.

Nina's favorite part of the production process is very similar to mine, actually:
I like the time right before a show opens the most. I love the polishing process, the excitement, the full committment of everyone to the cast to the show. For a week or so, you live and breathe and eat and sleep the show--it's fantastic.

With that kind of passion it's not surprising that Nina has high hopes to keep doing theatre, particular musical theatre, for life!
Theatre keeps me sane! I've always had this need to be a part of something, some project or something that challenges my energy and focus. It gives me confidence to know I am a part of a team, to be able to say to my friends "Come see my show! We've been working so hard and we have a great cast and it's going to be amazing!" Theatre's always been
there for me during the happiest as well as the most difficult moments of my life--I can always rely on there being another rehearsal or another production to look forward to. Theatre has taught me a lot--for example, I've always been a little bit of a scatterbrain, but theatre's forced me to work on arranging my schedule and being on time and all that stuff--I like to think it's been helping me to grow up. Either way, I don't think I'd be the same person if not for the shows I've done or the people I've worked with along the way.

In terms of future plans...I will definitely be auditioning for college programs in the fall, and trying to find a place with a solid
balance of academics and performing arts to allow me to continue doing all the things I love to do. I just can't imagine not being involved in theatre, especially music, in the future, and I'm definitely hoping to fashion my future career around it.

I wouldn't be surprised if the grizzled veterans can learn as much from Nina as she learns from them...that kind of passion is contagious!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Many Foothillians out in the world: The Gilded

Reynaldi Lolong from The Encore Theatre Company kindly informs me that many a Foothill alum is involved in his next project:
The Gilded is a completely, 100%, no-source-material original musical about a nomadic troupe of actors, their reluctant yet controlling leader Lisette, and Tobias, an adventurous young writer they meet who becomes caught up in their world.

Lisette and Tobias are played Heather Orth (formerly a member of the Foothill Conservatory, and also seen as Nurse Schott in Urinetown), and Tobias is played by Sean O'Connor (who played another Tobias in Sweeney Todd, also the ensemble of Brigadoon and Annie Get Your Gun).

The reading is being developed and directed by Jaime Martinez, a graduate of Foothill, who has been Jay's assistant director on Sweeney Todd, Urinetown, and Brigadoon. He's also the artistic mind behind the bunnies of Urinetown, the caricature of Bobby at the end of Urinetown, and he's drawing the show posters that are being used in the set of AGYG.

A full cast list, synopsis, and sound clips can be found at - and there's even a blog, charting the adventure of building a new musical from scratch. Readings will be held August 7 and 9, we'll take audience feedback, do rewrites, and do a revised version on September 10 and 11. Admission is free, but space is limited - contact if you'd like to attend.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Meet the cast member: Sitting Bull himself, Steve Completo

Steve Completo is on his fourth show with Foothill, counting among his favorites Ragtime "for the grandeur", and Urinetown "for the zaniness".

Now he's adding Annie Get Your Gun to that list "for the realness!"

Steve has a most interesting comment about why he has started being a regular part of the Foothill crowd:
"I look forward to working at FMT because of the way that the actors are treated. We are treated as assets that are utilized, not used (big difference)."

I noticed that myself over the nine years during which I was in Foothill shows. Jay and his staff got more and more efficient, and more and more respectful of their actors' time. I've done my time being called and then sitting around for hours. I've done my time being cast in a role but finding the director wanted to show me exactly how to do it, rather than letting me, oh, I don't know, act...what a concept! So, to work somewhere where actors are respected and tends to mean a lot.

When asked to name his favorite Annie moment so far, Steve gets all sappy on us (his word, not mine):
"Every moment with this production is a favorite. I know this sounds kind of sappy, but I'm having a ball, even when I'm just waiting to go on stage. I also find myself envying the dancers. Tyler has created some truly fine dance numbers that everyone will enjoy!"

Well, thanks for narrowing it right down, Steve!

Steve's favorite part of the process is a little different than a lot of folks, who usually pick run-thrus (those rehearsals when you first get it on its feet and run things in order and get a real sense of the personal favorite time) or performances. Steve's pick?
"My favorite part of the process is research, especially when the character is based on an actual person (I posted a comment to your Annie background info from Jay on the blog site the other day). I also enjoy the rehearsal process as I try to create the character I'm portraying. Each day is different as we try to add layers to that character.

Jay spoke with me early on about the character, especially the feedback that he had received from a Native American colleague; who decided that he could not participate in the show because of the stereotypes portrayed. As a consequence, Jay asked me to go over the dialog and remove as many stereotypical references in the dialog as possible (he, of course would have final approval).

I had already started research on Sitting Bull, and found that SB was a remarkably articulate and complex individual. Some of the quotes attributed to him are just awesome.

From a bio at the period of time - A "paleface - Charles Eastman" who knew SB wrote that "He was gifted with the power of sarcasm, and few have used it more artfully than he." Eastman further states "as he talked he seemed to take hold of his hearers more and more." And, "As Sitting Bull spoke, so he felt, and he had the courage to stand by his words."

Some quotes from Sitting Bull:

"The earth has received the embrace of the sun and we shall see the results of that love."
"Each man is good in the sight of the Great Spirit."
"Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am Sioux? Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country?"
"If a man loses anything and goes back and looks carefully for it, he will find it."

Hopefully the research will prove itself in the final portrayal of the character (he's definitely not a caricature)."

Steve has a rather unlikely day job, and theatre is a terrific outlet for him:
"I perform because it takes me out of my "real" world. I'm a corporate tax accountant in real life, and find that theatre is my path to stress relief. My boss (who used to own a theatre group) has told me that he envies me because I have a life. I find that my acting helps to create a balance in my life."

I once did a show with a guy who worked for the I.R.S. What is it about taxes that causes such a need for an outlet? Never mind, I think I know. Lucky for us it does

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Meet the cast member: Bill Erenata

I believe the last show I performed in at Foothill was the first show Bill performed in at Foothill, How to Succeed in Business... in 1999. We ended up married at the end of that show if my fuzzy memory serves :)

Since then Bill has become another Foothill stalwart, appearing in 6 shows in as many years. Actually, as he tells it:

I was actually cast for a 7th show, but a triple by-pass heart operation in January 2000, interfered with my participation in that that show.  Of course the doctor gave me a choice, do nothing and go on with the way I was feeling, and be dead within a year, OR, have the roto-rooter job.  Well, it has been over 6 years now, and probably 15-20 more shows that I have been able to participate in.

Bill actually has a way with words, describing very accurately the tough job the snsemble has in a big-cast show like Annie Get Your Gun. It can actually take a while before the ensemble starts to see the throughline of a piece. They're often working on this dance number or that finale, but not privy to the various connecting scene work:

As you are aware, adding the ensemble into the staging and linking the scenes together to create memorable pictures and to ensure smooth transitions between scenes by effectively moving on and off set pieces is just a lot of work.  And, it continues to change as some of the actual set pieces finally show up out of the shop, and it is found that people, stationary set pieces, and cast locations are now different than originally staged.  It is, as Jay mentioned, a giant Rubik cube puzzle, and we continue to work on it to get it right.  Good thing that we are making notes to our scripts using the old #2 pencil, and that we can bring along extra erasers.  

Bill shares his favorite part of the theatrical process, and like most of us, he probably would like to answer, "I like them all!"

The rehearsal process allows the actor a lot of freedom to try to develop the character and help to ensure the integrity of the scene.  We as actors are encouraged to make our "mistakes" at this point, or to try things which we might not have thought of.  So, there is a lot more "fun".  As we get into the run throughs, it becomes more about remembering the specifics which will ensure the smooth flow of the performance and and the seamless transitions which link the scenes.  When we get through these two parts of the process, and add the rest of the magic necessary to bring this story to life (costumes, makeup, scenery, orchestra, lights), it is still the audience which will provide the feeback to generate the spark "energy" to bring this to life.  And, live theatre provides those opportunities to "stay in the here and now" to ensure that each performance is fresh and alive for each new audience.  No time to be complacent, for each performance is a new opportunity to tell the story afresh to a new audience, and have them be touched in a way that will somehow move them.

Ever since Bill jumped, somewhat later than some of us, into the theatre life, he has made up for a later start with a constant flow of performances:

I consider myself a neophyte in this business, taking my first steps onto the stage in 1997.  It is definitely not a career path, but very definitely FUN, COMMUNITY, and most assuredly, keeps me out of trouble!!!  I turn 70 years young this year, and would have never dreamed that I would be doing something like this at this stage of my life.  Schooled as a physicist/mathematician, and then experiencing life in the USMC as a fighter pilot, and then a lengthy career in public service administration as the Deputy Director of the San Jose International Airport, who would have ever guessed, certainly not me, that I would find this creative outlet in live theatre.

Since being a member of Foothill's 2005 summer production of "Brigadoon", I have participated in the Sunnyvale Community Players' productions of "The Sound of Music" and "City of Angels".  That was then followed by West Valley Light Opera's "Once Upon a Mattress", and then "The Haunting of Hill House". And I am already lined up to be a member of the cast of "Bye, Bye Birdie" for the Saratoga Drama Group, which will open in the latter part of September.

Kinda makes me tired just looking at that schedule! But if anyone is a testament to the fact that retirement doesn't have to leave you sitting home bored (are you listening, Mom???) it's Bill!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Meet the cast member: Foothill veteran Doug Brees

Doug Brees is playing Charlie Davenport in Annie Get Your Gun. In Doug's own words, he is the "grizzled veteran" of 17 shows at Foothill; Annie Get Your Gun is  actually number 18.

Doug's first show was The Music Man in 1994 (Annie cast members were also in it...John Musgrave played Mayor Shinn in that show, and both of the Stanford brothers were in the cast- Gary played Tommy Djilas, and Kevin was in the ensemble) so he will have done 18 shows in 12 years, come opening night!

Doug has enjoyed every Foothill production I've been in, although favorites would have to include Ragtime & Into The Woods. And Sweeney Todd and The Most Happy Fella and How to Succeed... and Urinetown; the list could go on and on.

Doug share the following thoughts about why he's such a Foothill regular:

I keep coming back for many reasons, (and no, I don't want to be known as the guy who's always in the Foothill shows) but mostly because it is usually a very satisfying expression of my creative side. I enjoy the social aspect of it as well, and my ego really thrives on being a part of such amazing creations that come from the production team.

I think I do shows mostly for the two reasons I've mentioned before, creative expression & social interaction, but I definitely enjoy stepping out in front of an audience and having the audience react to you (preferably favorably). The adrenaline rush is really addicting, as is the applause. I really thrive on connecting with the audience.

Doug's favorite moment so far

I have to say I enjoy my scene with Dolly (Katie O'Bryon) where Sitting Bull (Steve Completo) and I sneak up on her. Her reactions are great fun to work with. Once we get into performance I'll have to see if I have any other new favorites. In past productions, many of my favorite moments have been backstage: the challenges of multiple quick-changes in "Ragtime", watching a well-oiled crew shift scenery (have I mentioned how fortunate we are to regularly get outstanding crew members?), listening to the overture rev up as you are about to open the show, watching some of the amazing choreography numbers (the "On The Town"ballet), the amazing sets and lighting; it all makes me think how lucky I am to be a part of these productions.

Hey Doug, Foothill is lucky to have you as a Foothill regular too!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Meet the cast: Our very own Annie, Jessica Raaum

Meet Jessica Raaum, our pistol-packing, sharp-shooting Annie Oakley, and the Annie, of course, for whom Annie Get Your Gun is named.

Unlike many a cast member Jessica has never performed at Foothill Music Theatre before. In fact she almost missed the opportunity to do so this time around!

She had been told about Foothill doing Annie, and that Foothill was a great place to work, but it was only because she happend to go see a closing weekend performance of last winter's Urinetown that she saw a went the Saturday of closing weekend and saw a sign advertising the Annie auditions- only that very day or the following Monday!! Jessica has somehow thought it was the next week and would have completely missed the auditions had she not seen Urinetown! Jessica QUICKLY went and found an Annie Get Your Gun CD (with Ethyl Merman) before going to the audition. The she had a week before the callbacks to get some more research done! So perhaps it was fated for Jessica to be our Annie, right?

Jessica is a real performing addict, and loves just about every part of it for different reasons:

I love the rehearsals as you discover new stuff and start to see the show take form; the run-throughs help boost my confidence as we get more and more stuff cemented in before we open, and performing- well, that's when all the hard work pays off and you get to play!!

It's certainly nice to have an audience!! There's nothing better than a positive response from the audience, but it's our job as actors to keep going, no matter what the audience does (or doesn't do!). They may be loving it silently, you never know.

I totally agree, Jessica.

Jessica hosts at the Octavia Lounge in San Francisco on Friday nights, which she will continue up until Opening Night and then continue after Closing. And after that? Well, she's got some possibilities in the works. She's definitely looking to pay the bills with performing, so watch out for Jessica!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Now that discount is about a show schedule?

Now that you can go on TicketWeb and get your exclusive blog reader $3/ticket discount (using the ANNIEBLOG promotion code), you might want to figure out what day to go, right?

Here's the show schedule:

Annie Get Your Gun at Foothill Music Theatre

Opens: Friday, July 28 (Yes, that would be three weeks from today!)
Closes: Sunday, August 20

So, it plays for four weekends:

The weekend of Friday July 28th
The weekend of Thursday August 3rd
The weekend of Thursday August 10th and
The weekend of Thursday August 17th

Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm
Sunday at 2pm

Given Foothill's famous hill-top location here is some other info you should know:

PARKING: Parking in lots #1 & #6 only is included in the ticket price.  There is no need to purchase a permit to attend shows if patrons park in either of those two lots only.  Lot #6 provides access without stairs.

Shuttle bus from Lot 1 to Theatre at Sunday Matinee performances only, from one hour before curtain.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Blog Reader Discount is Ready!!

Took a while, but we got the discount for blog readers up and running on TicketWeb, Foothill's online ticket vendor of choice.

Now if you go to purchase your tickets for Annie Get Your Gun online, you can enter the word ANNIEBLOG in the promotion code box, and get $3 off every ticket.

Once you enter the code you'll see a pull-down menu to choose the "flavor" of tickets you need...make sure you pick the ones that indicate there's a promotion and cost $3 less! (I know that sounds silly to tell you, but it can get confusing what with the regular and promotion prices all being available for the choosing.)

So, go to TicketWeb, pick your date, enter the code ANNIEBLOG and get $3 off each ticket.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A little Annie Get Your Gun history

Director Jay Manley took the time to fill me in a bit on the history of the show. Even having done it before (albeit when I was 14 years old) I was completely unaware of most of this:

Annie has an interesting history...the "Rodgers and Hammerstein Connection..."  As just about everyone knows, R & H essentially revolutionized the American musical with their first and second collaborations, Oklahoma! and Carousel, in 1943 and 1945 respectively.  Their principal contribution to the musical's evolution was to insist that the book, or story, be the spine of the show, with songs and dances growing organically from its telling. 

With the success of their early collaborations, R & H decided to become entrepreneurs and producers (Many years later, Stephen Sondheim would satirize Rodger's "confusion" of art and profit with the Franklin Shepard character in his Merrily We Roll Along).  But I digress!

Annie Get Your Gun was the first musical that R& H chose to produce. It had come about as the brainchild of writer Dorothy Fields, lyricist of over 400 theatre songs, including "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "The Sunny Side of the Street", who was looking for a story with a strong woman protagonist.   With her brother Herbert, she was to write the book and lyrics. They chose Jerome Kern, Hammerstein's long-time earlier collaborator (what a different sound it would have had!), to write the music.   But Kern's sudden death scuttled that plan.  Rodgers and Hammerstein cast about for a replacement composer (interestingly, they did not apparently want to take it on themselves), and they determined that Irving Berlin was the natural composer for so American a subject matter as the story of Annie Oakley.  Undoubtedly, they were guided, too, by Jerome Kern's own, oft-quoted maxim, "Irving Berlin has no PLACE in American music.  He IS American music."

There were problems, however.  The first was that Berlin wrote music AND lyrics, and the Fields were to have written the lyrics as well as the book.  Graciously, they agreed to bow out of the lyrics and focus solely on the book.  He also was used to "Irving Berlin's...," not "Rodgers and Hammerstein present..."  Somehow, egos were assuaged, and "Rodgers and Hammerstein present Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun," satisfied everyone.

The second problem centered on Berlin's own self-doubts. He had never written a musical play in the style of R & H, and doubted that he could.  His earlier shows were mainly revues.  He didn't know if he could write plot- and character-specific songs to dramatize a book.  But persuaded to give it a try, he went away to Atlantic City to work.  A week later, he returned and sat down at the piano before a very tough set of critics - Rodgers and Hammerstein, the Fields, and the newly-hired director, Joshua Logan - and sang "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly", "They Say It's Wonderful", "The Girl That I Marry", "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun", and a little ditty for the scene changes called "There's No Business Like Show Business" - all songs that have now become American standards.  R & H were thrilled, and the project went forward, to a hugely successful 1946 opening of Broadway, starring the legendary Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley.

An interesting sidebar, and undoubtedly the source of Berlin's initial discomfort with an association with R & H,  is that because Rodgers and Hammerstein's names appeared above the title as producers in all the professional productions of Annie Get Your Gun, many people carried away the idea that Annie... was their composition, not Berlin's.  And while certainly R & H were key players in the development and presentation of the show, it was indisputably  Berlin and the Fields' triumph.
Coming soon...  "I'm An Indian, Too?"  Even in 1999? Yes, I've asked Jay to comment on the subject of how Annie Get Your Gun handles its Native American, and whether the version Foothill is doing makes any adjustments to account for our more modern sensibilities.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Meet the cast member: Michael Rhone

We will be introducing you to cast members, and here's another: Michael Rhone, most recently Officer Barrel in Foothill's production of Urinetown.

Annie Get Your Gun will be Michael's third Foothill show, and although it's too soon to judge with Annie, Urinetown was his favorite show to date.  He keeps coming back to Foothill for one pretty compelling reason:
There's a level of professionalism at Foothill that I just don't see at a lot of other theaters.  The casts are always talented, of course.  But the creative staff has such a consistent level of excellence - from Jay, Cathy, and Tyler, to the design work from Joe and Kurt, everything is high quality.  I was attending shows at Foothill for several years before I finally auditioned, and I kept coming back because I knew going in that the show was going to be very high quality - I keep auditioning for the same reason.

Michael has actually only recently started doing shows again after doing them in school and then never having "the confidence to pursue it beyond that." But he is making up for lost time!

I have literally been in rehearsals and/or performances for some project or another since January 2.  And the week we start Annie performances, I start rehearsals for Bye Bye Birdie at Saratoga Drama Group (I'll be playing Albert).  After that?  Hopefully a much-needed rest!

When asked what part of the "process" of putting on a show he really likes, Michael shows he's a  performer at heart:

I love performances.  I love working with the "finished" piece, and I love the immediate feedback you get from an audience.  Rehearsals, frankly, can get pretty tedious.  I do love the process, but I'm always itching to get the show in front of an audience.

There's nothing like having a great audience that's enjoying the show.  I have to admit I can get a little ticked off when I feel like the audience isn't enjoying themselves, but that's when I do my best to say "oh yeah?  Well, wait'll you see what's next" and then give the best performance I can give.  It's not always easy to do, but that's what you get with live theater.
Botttom line: Michael is living out a lifelong fantasy doing so much theatre now. When asked what keeps him addicted to doing Community? Career Path? Keeping out of trouble on weekend nights? He answers, basically, all of the above:
It's something I've always wanted to do, and when I was a kid I would fantasize about being on Broadway (OK, I still have that fantasy from time to time).  I'd see a lot of theater, all over the country, and every time I'd leave the show wishing I had been on stage too.  It was only a little over a year ago when I finally told myself that I was never going to be up there if I didn't get over myself and audition.  And now, although it's kind of taken over my life and I have friends that I don't get to spend nearly enough time with, I wouldn't have it any other way.  So yes... fun, community, keeps me out of trouble (and sometimes gets me into trouble, but those are stories for another time).
Um, OK, Michael...lay those stories on us!

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