Monday, March 31, 2008

Open a New Window

Well, many of you folks whom I call friends got a glimpse of my command (urk!) performance in Godspell last year. The production was put on by the great folks of The Stage Hands, our local community theater company here in little ol' King City (pop. ~11,000.)

Well, being the control freak plus theater nut that I am, when the opportunity came around I took the big leap. I'm directing our next production this summer, MAME.

Not to be confused with the stupid computer arcade simulator that dominates the stupid search results when you're trying to find a pic for your stupid blogpost...

Anyway, I have never seen the movie, and don't plan to, at least until after the production closes. I had never listened to the music, never seen any production, and only knew that it was Angela Lansbury's signature role.

One of the other Stage Hands members had a file copy of the script that she gave to me to read to decide if I wanted to direct.

That reading was a real revelation. Some of you, my friends, know that my personal philosophy includes the idea that life is an adventure, and there is nothing but to live it all the way.

That is exactly what Mame is about! So I downloaded the Original Broadway Cast recording from iTunes, which includes Lansbury and the inimitable Bea Arthur. The music was by Jerry Herman, of Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles fame. It is catchy, lush, standard mid-century Broadway fare that really gets under the skin. A delight all around.

So we're heavy into preproduction right now, designing, budgeting, prepping for auditions at the end of April.

Watch this space for updates, photos, and whatever else I can kluge together!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sounds of the Past

Okay, I thought this was really cool.

It seems researchers have found the *real* first recording of sound, scratched in soot on waxpaper... written in smoke. This recording predates Edison's legendary "Mary Had a Little Lamb" recording by several years. At the end of the linked article is a link to the actual sound itself. It doesn't sound like much. In fact it isn't clear at all. Still you can hear that it's a human voice, at least, sort of like hearing sound through water, or in this case, smoke.

Here's the thing that is surreal to me. This lady's voice is one of the myriad sounds of the year 1860. Eighteen-Sixty. Abraham Lincoln won't be elected president for the first time until the end of the year. Martin Van Buren, the 8th President of the United States, is still alive (and still will be for two more years.) Victoria is Queen of Great Britain. Napoleon III is Emperor of France. The Pony Express has just begun. The Second Opium War is ending in China. Charles Dickens will publish the first installment of the now classic GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Anton Chekhov, Lizzie Borden, Annie Oakley, General John Pershing, and Billy the Kid have all just been born. Charles Goodyear and Arthur Schopenhauer have just died.

And this young lady is singing Au Clair de la Lune in the smoke, the sounds of her voice captured for us to hear, however rough and faint, nearly 150 years later.

Truly awe-inspiring.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Give My Regards to Broadway

Well, we've done movie quotes, and we've done song lyrics. Time to take it to another level.

Some of you know I'm a bit of a theater buff, a trained actor and singer, and very involved in my local community theater group (more on that in a later post.)

So here's what I decided to do for fun. Below you'll find a lyric from a major Broadway musical (or perhaps a very popular off-Broadway musical or two!) For full credit, give us the following: Song Title, Show Title, and composer/lyricist. Partials are allowed! A few of these are easy, but I think most will require some regular intake of Broadway entertainment.

I confess that I'm doing this for a couple reasons. One, I love musicals. Two, I kinda want to find out who amongst my buds knows anything about Broadway or the West End.

Time to find out:

UPDATE: It's HINT time. I'll put hints on the ones nobody's been able to crack at all and we'll see how that goes!

UPDATE #2: The hints have been updated to make it almost impossible to get them wrong. Another day or two and I'll fill in the missing spaces. Too funny to see what others are familiar with in musicals!

UPDATE #3: Okay, I give in. In bold you'll find the answers nobody was able to get. In the end, though, it was cool to see how many of these were answered correctly. Part II someday :-)

1. "Ever since puberty everybody stares at me; boys, girls I can't help it, baby."
Take Me or Leave Me - Rent - Jonathan Larson Jodie K

2. "Talk about the moon floatin' in the sky, lookin' at a lily on the lake."
Happy Talk - South Pacific - Rodgers and Hammerstein Jane - JodieK - JodieK

3. "Dear kindly Judge, your Honor, my parents treat me rough. With all their marijuana, they won't give me a puff."
Officer Krupke - West Side Story - Bernstein/Sondheim Joe the Troll - Joe again - Teacake

4. "The earth says hello. You twinkle above us, we twinkle below."
Good Morning Starshine - Hair - McDermott & Rado/Ragni UV

5. "Don't sigh and gaze at me, your sighs are so like mine."
People Will Say We're in Love - Oklahoma! - Rodgers and Hammerstein JodieK

6. "Simply wrap it round your assailant's neck and pull till he turns blue!"
HINT: A Reese Witherspoon hit adapted for Broadway.
Whipped Into Shape - Legally Blonde - Benjamin & O'Keefe

7. "Will I ever know the sweet 'hello' that's only meant for me?"
Where is Love - Oliver - Lionel Bart Don

8. "What a coarse enterprise, popping pussies into pies!"
The Worst Pies in London - Sweeney Todd - Stephen Sondheim Erin

9. "Here comes a prince. There goes a Jew. This one's a queer but what can you do?"
Beggar at the Feast - Les Miserables - Schonberg & Boublil Gekko - Eden - Eden

10. "I've been a sinner, I've been a scamp, but now I'm willin' to trim my lamp."
Blow Gabriel Blow - Anything Goes - Cole Porter Eden

11. "Earth might be fair and all men glad and wise. Age after age their tragic empires rise."
HINT: From a show I was in, from which I posted a YouTube video of me singing...
Turn Back O Man - Godspell - Stephen Schwartz Gekko

12. "A dream that will need all the love you can give, every day of your life for as long as you live."
Climb Every Mountain - The Sound of Music - Rodgers & Hammerstein Eden

13. "I'm through accepting limits 'cause someone says they're so."
Defying Gravity - Wicked - Stephen Schwartz JodieK

14. "She'll try to teach the things I taught her and end up selling flowers instead."
I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face - My Fair Lady - Lerner & Loewe Joe the Troll - UV -

15. "A lady doesn't wander all over the room and blow on some other guy's dice."
Luck Be a Lady Tonight - Guys and Dolls - Frank Loesser UV - Joe

16. "Step in the river! Wade in the river! Soak in the river through and through!"
HINT: A show that's all about a place to pee and the right to use it!
I See a River - Urinetown - Hollman & Kotis

17. "Who'd think this Miss Prim would have opened a window as far as her whim would allow?"
HINT: This show was Angela Lansbury's signature role (though this lyric is not from one of her songs.)
Gooch's Song - Mame - Jerry Herman

18. "Prove to me that you're no fool; walk across my swimming pool."
Herod's Song - Jesus Christ Superstar - Webber/Rice Joe the Troll

19. "They padded their cups, but I screwed the judges."
Miss Baltimore Crabs - Hairspray - Shaiman & Wittman JodieK

20. "We're marching to a faster pace. Look out! Here comes the master race!"
Springtime for Hitler - The Producers - Mel Brooks Joe the Troll

21. "I will paint your houses. I'll milk your cows at dawn."
HINT: Adapted from a frequent cover character from the Weekly World News tabloid.
Let Me Walk Among You - Bat Boy: The Musical - Laurence O'Keefe

22. "And a woman who'll kiss on the second time out is anything but fussy."
Shipoopi - The Music Man - Meredith Wilson Erin - Erin - Gekko

23. "Dreaming of you won't help me to do all that you dreamed I could."
Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again - Phantom of the Opera - Andrew Lloyd Webber Eden

24. "Gee I'd like a Harley machine, toolin' around like I was James Dean."
Get It! - Little Shop of Horrors - Mencken & Ashman Eden

25. "Soon I'll be a stranger in a strange new place, searching for an old familiar face."
Anatevka - Fiddler on the Roof - Bock & Harnick Jane

Okay, there they are. Hope you have fun where the neon lights are bright.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever

Oh me, oh my, strawberry season is certainly here.

I'll still be blogging, and I'll still be visiting y'all, and I'm trying to keep up with March Madness (Jefe's of course, as well as NCAA) and all. Please don't mistake a lack a communication for anything other than me being busier than a three-legged cat trying to bury turds on a frozen pond.

Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Nerds in Mourning

Most of you what know me know that I'm an irrepressible nerd. The signs are everywhere.

I like showtunes.

In school I was in Drama

" " " " " Band

" " " " " Choir

I still do all three at one time or another.

I've read the Lord of the Rings more than once.

I'm good at math.

I love to play chess.

I stood in line to see Star Wars.

And the Empire Strikes Back.

And the Return of the Jedi.

I own an expensive, official, lightsaber that lights and has authentic movie sounds.

Given time I could come up with dozens more, I'm sure.

But there is one more I'll add to the list: I've played Dungeons & Dragons off and on since 1979. And I make no apologies. I love Role Playing Games (RPG's) and have played many differnt types besides the standard fantasy. Military, Post-apocalyptic, Spy-Thriller, Horror, etc.

But it all started with Dungeons & Dragons.

I was first fascinated by the fancy little dice, shaped in Pythagoras's solids (plus the d10, but I digress...) They looked mystical, like magic crystals providing access to some arcane art. Books on the table in the library at lunch, papers everywhere, and nerds sitting about taking on the roles of doughty fighters, sneaky thieves, mystical wizards, and pious clerics, all with strange names, odd powers, and a particular lack of fear of the unknown.

They creeped and crawled through dark, dank, slimy tunnels lined with secret doors and lethal traps. Around any corner, beyond any door, they might be pounced upon by strange and vicious monsters intent on ending their exploration and keeping safe the secrets of the ancient dragon dwelling in the depths of the mountain.

Of course, you couldn't see any of this. It was all in the imagination, and mine was fired up. It wasn't long before I talked grandma into buying me the basic set with an incredible illustration by the legendary Erol Otus.

On the books inside the author was identified as one E. Gary Gygax.

Gary Gygax, along with his friend Dave Arneson, were avid players of table-top battle simulations, with miniatures. At some point, they took it a step further, creating a fantasy world inspired by the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien, Fritz Lieber, and Michael Moorcock, among others, for their minature figures. Rather than faceless figures in battle, they became characters searching for treasure and magic in dungeons and haunted castles.

As D&D caught fire and gave pimply teenage nerds a means of isolating themselves from brainless jocks for hours at a time, Gygax became the icon for this new, captivating hobby. Over the years, even though the game evolved, it never outgrew the palpable, tense excitement of the unknown, of imminent danger. The godfather of RPG's was never far from the hobby.

His life was not without conflict and controversy, as is usually the case with visionaries when money is involved. Yet through it all, despite his faults, there was always an almost universal affection for the man who had brought so much fun and excitement to so many.

In the wee hours Tuesday, right around midnight, Gary rolled his last die.

For those of you who don't understand this weird, stupid game, well, a eulogy such as this one is probably meaningless. But for those of us who grew up and found great impetus for our imaginations in this arcane game, his passing brings both sadness and a sense of gratitude for creating Dungeons & Dragons.

Fare thee well, Gary. May all your hits be crits.


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