Thursday, January 29, 2009

Graduating Seniors, here's a chance for $500 for college

Got the following little note from Jay Sternin from the West Valley Light Opera Association.

WHAT: The 7th annual Gene Pincus Memorial Theater Arts Scholarship for 2009.
HOW MUCH: $500
DETAILS: The scholarship will be awarded, on a competitive basis, to a Santa Clara County graduating high school senior who intends to pursue a career in Theater Arts and who has demonstrated a high degree of involvement in the performing arts throughout his/her high school career. The applicant must be a graduating high school senior going on to a 2 or 4 year college; their intended college major must be in the Theater Arts; this includes Acting, Music (vocal), Dance, or Stage Production; they must be a Santa Clara County resident.

DEADLINE: Application materials must be postmarked no later than Tuesday March 10, 2009. For application details please see Or email questions to

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Going to see staging of a new musical tonight

Tonight a friend and I are going to see a staged reading of Shadows of Pompeii, a new "dramatic musical" from the Broadway composer Keith Hermann (Romance, Romance).

Tonight the show will be performed with actors holding scripts, and they'll be looking for feedback, but the show will be presented in a fully staged workshop production in April at the Eureka Theater, and there are plans to submit to a major new works festival in NYC. Tonight's reading is booked beyond capacity, but I've got an in because 42nd Street Moon is helping with backing.

Led by Director Dianna Shuster, former artistic director of American Musical Theatre of San Jose, "Shadows of Pompeii" features nine local actors (see cast list below). The show features a score by the afore-mentioned Tony-nominated composer Herrmann and libretto by Bay Area playwright R.C. Staab.

STORY: Shadows of Pompeii is a full-length, fully-staged workshop production of a dramatic new musical that that tells a story of a young female artist's desire to express herself and to live life to the fullest in the shadow of the male-dominated Roman Empire in Pompeii 79AD. Lila is a young woman fervent about painting, despite Roman society restrictions. She paints a mural of Pompeii's governor, Tiberius, who is furious at the artist's treatment and imprisons her. Yet, he is enticed by her fervor and passion. When Lila paints his portrait in prison to appease Tiberius' wife, they slowly discover their attraction for each other. Will Lila and Tiberius' love be fulfilled? The musical echoes our fast-paced world where tragedy can happen at any moment or the eruption of a volcano can alter lives forever in an idyllic seaside town.

Juliet Heller
Russ Lorenson*
Lane McKenna*
Sean Patrick Murtagh
Lillian Askew
Alex Rodriguez
Mike Figueira
Mauricio Villa-Lobos*
Stephen Vaught

*Actors indicated with an asterisk are members of ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION, the union of professional actors in the United States.

I'll let you know what I think after I see tonight's production.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

In case you were wondering what's up with the Magic Theatre

Per my earlier post the Magic Theatre joined other local theatres in being in dire straits.

They are very very close to their $350K goal (only $39,500 away), and if they reach it an anonymous donor will give them another $100K.

But KCBS is reporting that it is far from a done deal that they'll raise that last remaining piece.

They've gone into rehearsal on their next play assuming they will make it.

I've given a bit, how about you?


Sunday, January 04, 2009

January 2009: Reports of Broadway's death no longer seem greatly exaggerated?

Hard to read this article from the NY Times, by Christopher Isherwood, and not feel like Broadway is suffering a decline from which it may be hard to recover.

Talk about depressing:

"...more than a dozen plays and musicals — almost half of the current lineup, incredible though it may seem — get ready to close by the end of the month."

So, there were only little more than 24 shows running (musical and plays) in the first place? Yikes.

I remember seeing the final performance of Song and Dance on Broadway. Betty Buckley had taken over the role from Bernadette Peters (who I also saw). Song and Dance is by no means a great show, and is written by my least favorite wildly successful composer. But it is a tour-de-force opportunity for any great singer/interpreter...which both Peters and Buckley most certainly are.

The thrill was in watching those two perform, not in the show itself.

Isherwood is right that final performances have a certain extra bond between performer and audience. More people out there in the dark are likely to know the people on stage more intimately. Either because they actually really know them, or because they're diehard fans.

Betty brought her dog out on stage for her curtain call with her, and stayed out there a good long time soaking up the adulation. People around me shouted out to Betty...and her name.

Every night in the theatre is unique, is its own, not just the closing night. I saw the closing performance of Song and Dance. I also saw the 5000th performance of A Chorus Line (when "One" was performed by lottery winners who had performed in regional, summer stock and community productions of A Chorus Line). I saw the first post-9/11 performance of The Producers...when the cast and audience stood together at the end and sang "God Bless America". I got up on stage with Ian McKellan during his limited run of Acting Shakespeare.

Looks like it's going to be a grim winter on Broadway, but I can only hope, fervently, that the singular magic of live theatre brings the audiences back...the minute they can afford to do so.


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