Theatre

Talley’s Folly A Success!


Talley’s Folly at SummerStage just opened last night, but the positive reviews are already pouring in!

“Better than Phantom!”

– My grandma, who had just seen the Marcus Center’s production with my mom the night before

“That was really good honey. We’re so proud of you.”

– My mom, who suspiciously did not reference the show’s quality in comparison to Phantom

“This is my favorite part!”

– Random guy during a silent, tender moment one minute from the end of the show

A giant, heartfelt THANK YOU!!! to all who joined us on opening night!

Performance #2 begins tonight at 7:30 pm on the SummerStage grounds at Lapham Peak State Park in Delafield, WI (1 mile south on Hwy C off exit 285 on I-94). It drizzled a bit this afternoon, so if you’re coming to tonight’s show, plan on bringing lawn chairs, or if you’re planning on sitting on a picnic blanket, you may want to bring along a tarp to lay down beneath it.

Click here for full details.

Talley’s Folly Opens TONIGHT at SummerStage!


It’s finally here! Opening weekend of Talley’s Folly at SummerStage!

As long as I’ve known our director, Dustin Martin, he’s been talking about wanting to direct this show. After years spent hearing him praise the piece, there was part of me that started to feel like it was my dream too – even when I didn’t know a thing about it except how much he loved it.

Then I read the script in college, and that was all it took: I was officially hooked. Fast forward *mumble mumble* years and here we are — opening weekend at last!

Talley's Folly

I’m especially excited to be sharing the stage with Phil Stepanski for the first time. Somehow in our making the rounds through various local theatres we had yet to ever work together. Finding ourselves  now in a two-person show we’ve surely made up for lost time!

Area theatre-goers may remember most recently seeing Phil as Gary in WCT‘s Spring production of Noises Off!, and Soulstice Theatre‘s Follies earlier this Summer. He will be appearing as Max in WCT’s Lend Me A Tenor later this Fall. Congratulations on your continued success this season Phil!

Some things to know before you go:

About the show: “Set in July 1944, TALLEY’s FOLLY is the story of one evening in the courtship between two unlikely lovers. Matt Friedman (Phil Stepanski) is an accountant from St. Louis and has come to rural Missouri to woo Sally Talley (Ruth Arnell) in her family’s dilapidated Victorian boathouse. Through persistence, charm, and humor, he courts her despite her fears that her family would never accept him. But for romance to bloom, each must work through their innermost secrets together. TALLEY’s FOLLY won both the Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best play of the season in 1980.”

Dates/Times: Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm;  July 24 through August 9, 2014

Location/Directions: Lapham Peak Unit – Kettle Moraine State Forest, W329 N846 County Highway C, Delafield, WI 53018

  • Take I-94 to exit 285 in Delafield, WI (20 min west of Milwaukee); there will be a brown state park sign on I-94 signaling your exit.
  • Turn right (south) off the exit ramp onto Hwy C.
  • Follow Hwy C straight for about a mile.
  • The entrance to the park will be on your left.

Tickets: $17, $15 for Seniors and Students, $7 Youth. Can be purchased online, or at the park starting one hour before the show.

(The park requires a $5-per-vehicle entrance fee (normally $7) for all vehicles without a WI state park sticker.)

About the space:

  • The park sprays the stage area for mosquitoes every Thursday during the run, but bring your own bug spray too just in case!
  • The seating space is an open, grassy area, so bring a chair or blanket to sit on.
  • Arrive early and bring a picnic to enjoy on the lawn or at the tables under the SummerStage pavilion tent! There will also be a food truck on site.
  • Guests are free to bring in wine and beer, and additional beverages (including wine and beer) are available at the concession stand.
  • There is a bathroom in the building by the parking lot, and port-o-potties at the stage area.
  • The walk from the parking lot to the stage is a short one, however a shuttle will be available to transport anyone unable to make the walk.
  • If recent weather has left you cool in the evenings, don’t forget to bring along a jacket or lap blanket!
  • If it should begin to drizzle, the show will continue. So if it looks like the sky may turn, bring along a jacket/hat/enchanted cloak just in case.
Welcome to SummerStage!

Welcome to SummerStage!

How To Fill A Winter


I’m having one of those “so much has happened since my last update that I feel too overwhelmed to even try to cover any of it, let alone all of it, so I’d rather just not even try” moments.

D’oh.

So here’s my list-y attempt at sharing some of what’s been important in my life since my last post:

Sunset Playhouse - Murder on the Nile

Sunset Playhouse – Murder on the Nile

1. I closed a play. Murder on the Nile at Sunset Playhouse. Gosh what a swell group. I’ll be working with one of my MotN castmates in my next show, I Hate Hamlet

2. I auditioned for a play. I Hate Hamlet, also at Sunset Playhouse. I was cast as Deirdre. I’ll (hopefully) post something or other about it here. At some point. Maybe.

Oh God I’m such a failure at this blogging thing lately oh oh…

3. I auditioned for another play. Talley’s Folly at SummerStage, an outdoor theatre in Delafield. I was cast as Sally. I plan on Instagramming the crap out of the rehearsal and run process. The practice hall and performance space are just so cool.

If you don't watch the show, this will mean nothing to you. Feel free to ignore it; I promise I won't mind.

Meaningless if you don’t watch Hannibal. Feel free to ignore it; I promise I won’t mind…

4. I watched Hannibal an unhealthy number of times. I didn’t start watching Hannibal since my last update, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before so here I am. Mentioning it.

Basically: It’s lovely. I mean – it’s kind of horrifying, yes, in that it centers around a guy who eats people… – but don’t let that fool you. It is truly one of the most beautiful shows on television right now. The writing, the visual aesthetic of it all (from the cinematography to the set decoration to the costuming (!!!) to the way the food is displayed (no kidding)), the directing, the performances — it’s an incredible piece of work.

They’re three episodes into Season 2 right now, but for it to really mean anything you’d have to watch Season 1 first. It’s available through Amazon Prime, and then the three most recent eps are available to watch through NBC.com.

Oh man. Just thinking about that show makes me smile. And that’s saying a lot given that it’s, you know, about a people-eating serial killer, right? I’ve watched all of Season 1 six times now, and have no doubt Season 2 will fare much the same for me.

Plus: It stars Mads Mikkelsen. I’m sorry, but there’s just no topping that guy. Like — jumping between stuff like After the Wedding to Valhalla Rising to The Hunt to Hannibal? That’s just — naw dude. You’ve got to like this guy’s approach to the craft of acting. You can’t not.

5. VIKINGS! Speaking of shows I’ve recently started watching, I’m also really digging the History Channel’s show Vikings. It’s worth checking out as well before they get too much farther into their second season.

6. I attended WMSE‘s Rockabilly Chili Cook-Off Fundraiser. Wow, dudes. I ate so much amazing chili that day. No future chili-eating experience could ever compare. I went with some of the kids from Radio WHT, which of course made it extra fab.

My birthday gift from my friend Bob. My friends know me so well.

My birthday gift from my friend Bob. My friends know me so well.

7. It was my birthday on Wednesday! Oh gosh, you guys – this year was just– it was The Birthday That Kept On Giving.

The Saturday before my birthday, my friend Jenny hosted a Supernatural themed party at her house, complete with show-themed decor, and a dinner of burgers, fries, onion rings, and beer. There were games (SPN trivia, and “Pin the Demon In the Devil’s Trap“), episode viewings, and most of the gifts were SPN (or Hannibal! woohoo!) themed.

The Friday after, a bunch of other friends met up at my buddy Spence’s house for games and pizza and couch-sleeping and it was a blast I’mma just tell you.

Then today, my sibs came over with their families (minus my sister-in-law, boo :\) for mom’s homemade pulled pork sandwiches, par broiled ribs, and a homemade ice cream cake. It was *sniffle* magical

8. We got a nice list of roofs to bid on at work. This makes me happy. Not the way that homemade ice cream cake or Supernatural themed birthday parties make me happy, but certainly a kind that is still very much worth feeling. I’m spending the week helping put together bid packages (something that always takes longer than I estimate it will take; you’d think I’d’ve figured that out by now), and daydreaming about road-tripping to the farther job locations if the proposals come through. *dreamy sigh*

9. I went to the gym. I went an embarrassingly small number of times so far this winter, but I did go – and that’s crazy hard for me (because that is the breed of doofus that I am) – so I’m kinda happy about that.

So yeah, man – all told it’s been a pretty sweet coupl’a months.

Time to get in some reading and then hit the sack. Up bright and early tomorrow to spend the day with friends. Yeah – on a Monday. So stoked.

Happy Spring everybody! :D

Philip Seymour Hoffman


He will always be Philip Seymour Hoffman to me.

My various dashboards are currently filled with Tweets and excerpts from interviews with people who worked with the man, who knew him personally, who called him Phil.

Phil Hoffman.

And I don’t know what to do with that.

Phil Hoffman sounds like he should be a branch manager for an inter-state credit union. He should be the person in charge of scheduling equipment deliveries to construction sites. He should be the consulting accountant brought in by the local zoo as a temporary addition during tax season, his final paycheck mailed in an envelope thick with parking passes and free admittance lanyards for his kids.

A guy named Phil Hoffman would definitely have kids.

Philip Seymour Hoffman had kids. Three of them. Had a long time partner, a woman named Mimi O’Donnell. He was an actor, a director. He was loved, he was respected. He seemed happy, excited about his work. He was passionate about what he’d found to do with his life. He was an artist. He won awards. It was inspiring.

I hope eventually I will remember him only for those things. They are worth remembering. They are worth lauding. They hold up to the status and the weight of being an all-three-names celebrity.

But I’m not there yet. I acknowledge those things, I am in awe of them, but I cannot divorce them from the subject of today’s tweets and interviews: Today, February 2, 2014, Philip Seymour Hoffman died alone in the bathroom of his Manhattan apartment of a heroin overdose; a partner, a father, and an artist known to his fans by all three names.

I can’t believe he’s really gone.

And I don’t know what to do.

Thoughts From Backstage


Updating from the women’s dressing room at Sunset Playhouse, mid-Act II for Murder on the Nile.

The ladies of "Murder on the Nile," L to R: Carrie (Louise), Paula (ff), Me (Kay), Deanna (Christina), Julia (Jackie)

The ladies of “Murder on the Nile,” L to R: Carrie G. (Louise), Paula G. (ff), Me (Kay), Deanna S. (Christina), Julia S. (Jackie)

What a happy, fabulous, funny, friendly, delightful group of women. I’m so pleased! I’M SO PLEASED!

I can’t imagine a life that does not involve spending months at a time with friends and strangers-who-become-friends, all directing our focus on solving the murder of a fictional socialite. Would I cruise the Nile circa 1936 with these ladies? You bet your Baedeker I would.

Sunset Playhouse Q&A


Sunset Playhouse‘s annual Event I Can Never Remember the Name Of is coming up this Saturday. I’ve turned in my ballot for Best [___], and chosen which dress I shall wear (grandma’s cast-off), leaving naught else to do save answer the following questions that arrived with my invitation:

“Tell us something about you… your favorite story from the season, how you found Sunset, why you volunteer, what you love about Sunset, funniest backstage antic….”

“Tell us something about you…”

Well for starters I’m a Pisces, Year of the Dog. I don’t put any stock into that sort of thing, mind you. I just thought you should know those things about me in case they mean anything to you. When I was three years old a dog bit me in the face, leaving a row of short scars from my eyebrow to my chin. One day I’d like to rent a cottage in the Appalachian Mountains for a few weeks and just write. I like my pizzas deep dish, my theatre community, my screwdrivers sonic, and my sagas set in space.

Also: Ferrets.

“Your favorite story from the season”

I was only involved in one show at Sunset this past season- 6 Degrees of Separation- so I hope you’re up for tales with a limited scope.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much fancy-pants candy as I did during rehearsals for 6 Degrees. Every day we’d show up to a decadent sugar buffet courtesy of Jim Santelle and Sendick’s, and every day we’d clean that sucker out. And then there were the people there like Donna Daniels, man. They wear their little khaki pants, you know? And their little cardigans? And they drink their tea and they eat their veggie snacks and you think they’d never belly up to a processed sugar smorgasbord. But wouldn’t you know she totally did every time? Admittedly she wasn’t matching the rest of us bite-for-bite, but I will say this: Girl is not afraid to put away a few sweets. Admirably so.
  • And then there were the nights when it was time to go home, but it wasn’t time to go home. It was time to congregate outside the door to the back parking lot to shoot the breeze for an hour over bottles of Red Stripe while the bad kids smoked and the short kids had their pictures taken next to the tall kids.
  • The good times weren’t restricted to post-practice rolling, much to our collective great fortune. I can’t tell you how many times I pulled into the parking lot before rehearsal to find our director, Jim Farrell, sitting out in the grass with Spence Mather, the two of them swapping stories and guitars. As our 7pm start time ticked closer and more cast members arrived, the number of lawn hippies would increase. The stories that went around the circle are theirs to share, but I will offer you a prompt: Track down Joan End some time and ask her how not to dispose of a cigarette while traveling. Bad to the bone, that one.
  • And then there was the party at Jim Santelle’s. Oh Jim Santelle, sender of eloquent emails and hero of high-school smokers everywhere: You are great! And your stove is great! And your books are great! And I love your taste in fruit trays and cheesecake decorations!
  • Then there was the time after we opened when I dreamed my mom and I gave JFare and his non-existent elementary school-age daughters a ride back home to their Tuscan villa in a community of theatre folks, all tucked away past miles of farms and fields and hills. The girls wanted to show me their room and their books, then wanted to share their cake. I’m more of a brownie person, but that was some mighty fine cake.
  • Plus we acted in a play, which was pretty cool. (This’un is mighty good for monologue mining for anybody with auditions coming up.)

“How you found Sunset”

Turned left at Greenland.

I’ll be here all week.

But seriously, folks…

I graduated from Carroll University- though we called it Carroll College in those days- back in aught-four. Toward the end of the school year an event was held honoring department chair Dave Molthen, complete with a snack table and places to sit, so naturally plenty of Carroll theatre alumni came to call. Among them was Mark Salentine, the fella who’d directed me in The Nerd my second semester at Carroll. A bit of a nerd himself, I quite liked the man. One of those sorts you can’t help but smile about. So when I learned he’d be directing Cabaret at Sunset that summer I decided to have a go at auditions, in spite of my being neither a singer nor a dancer. And wouldn’t you know the fool cast me?

And that was it. One show was all it took. Cabaret came and went and left me hooked, and I’ve been going back ever since. Occasionally racing head over heels toward my own disaster. Ask me some time where it still hurts from Noises Off!

“Why you volunteer”

Yeah, I mean… I’m gonna keep doing it, I’m just sayin’ if they offered me a paycheck I wouldn’t turn it down, kapeesh?

“What you love about Sunset”

There’s nothing quite like having a hobby where the Venn Diagram of the cool kids and the weird kids is a circle, and Sunset has its fair share of both.

Thank God.

For me, Sunset has had a “home base” feel ever since the first time I crept off-key, and off-beat, through “The Telephone Song” for Donna Kummer, my heart in my throat, my throat in my sinuses, my brain long since flown into hiding so I’d never be able to fully reconstruct my memories of that particular part of the rehearsal experience. The rest of it, though? Not nearly as scary. Brilliantly fun, even. I’d never have believed you if you’d told me I could have such a blast doing so many new, difficult things in front of hundreds of people at a time for weeks on end. But then I did it. And it was wonderful.

It was all wonderful. Every show. There hasn’t been a single one that hasn’t fulfilled some acting dream, or given me a reason to spend countless hours plugging away at exciting work with lovely people, or proven to me that yes I can memorize a stupidly large number of lines. Shows like:

  • Bedroom Farce, where I got to run around in a nightie while talking with a British accent
  • Rehearsal for Murder, where I got to run around in a robe while married to Ken Smith
  • The Seven Year Itch, where I got to run around in a nightie while haunting Brian Zelinski
  • Jake’s Women, where I got to run around in flats while my boyfriend was haunted by Coleen Tutton
  • Noises Off!, where I got to run around in a nightie while talking with a British accent
  • It’s A Wonderful Life, where I got to run around in wigs while my husband was haunted by himself
  • 6 Degrees of Separation, where I got to SUFFER OUTRAGEOUS EMOTIONAL TORMENT AS THE ONLY TRULY INNOCENT VICTIM

Themes. I’m sensing themes…

Really it’s the people, though, that made those experiences so memorable for me. The directors, the designers, the crews, the other actors, the beautiful, beautiful audiences. I forget all my lines within two weeks of a show closing, but the people I keep with me forever, tucked away in random brain folds, smiling and laughing and shining.

I love how you all shine.

“Funniest backstage antic”

I– I mean I can’t… Aw geez.

I can’t even begin to think of how to answer this one. Randall Anderson’s slot machine anecdote comes to mind, and Jim Bloomingdale and Mark Salentine with sleeves full of shaving cream are floating around up there too. But as with most great “backstage” stories, the element that made the moment truly magical is lost in the retelling, especially if the tale can’t be acted out since most of the hilarity occurs in silence.

That is, you hope it occurs in silence.

I’ll tell you what: I’ll see what stories come up at Saturday’s Annual Theatre Volunteer Annual Event for Theatre, and if there are any that can stand on their own without the aid of miming and the quaking laughter of onlookers, I’ll post one or two of them here. ‘S’good?

‘S’good.

*Read about 2009’s Annual Theatre Thingy here: The Jello Covered Grapes Annual Volunteer Choice Awards

Wayward Sunsets


I’m not entirely sure why people searching* for reviews of Prelude to a Kiss at Sunset Playhouse are being brought here since (until now, of course) the title of that show hasn’t been mentioned on this blog.

I mean, I do talk about Sunset Playhouse from time to time, and I did write about auditioning for that show, and the word “review” appears all over the place. But I don’t think I ever mentioned the title of that particular show anywhere here. I did a site search and everything and it came up empty… Did I miss it somewhere?

Regardless: Who am I not to give the people what they want?!**

People of the World! Wandering Searchers!
I am here to serve as your Google-go-between
when the Mighty Goog fails you!

I saw the show myself this past Thursday and wish Susan Loveridge had gotten a nod in the ExpMke review (it’s the only one out at the moment) because she was a lot of fun in it too. But then- that’s Susan for you. The show itself was quite enjoyable with some excellent performances, particularly from the show’s three leads. Stop out if you can.

*One of WordPress’s cooler features is that it provides statistics on what pages readers are viewing, what links they’re clicking on when they arrive, what links they clicked on to bring them to the blog in the first place, and what search engine terms they looked up that brought them by. Don’t worry, though- it’s not totally creepy. I can’t see who is doing the searching, or even their IP address.

**LMGTFY

Twerpshire Hathaway


I love me some community theatre. I’ve been acting in it, and loving it, for seven years this July. Sometimes it’s (amazingly, movingly) great, and sometimes it’s (agonizingly, painfully) terrible.

But so are kids and that doesn’t stop people from having ’em.

From time to time I run into folks who aren’t as fond of community theatre as I am. Folks who aren’t as fond of it, and who like to share that lack of fondness verbally. Dissing the interests of others is, I mean– that’s kind of weird, right?

Sometimes these- and other- people ask me why I do community theatre instead of “real theatre,” as they so charmingly put it. And they don’t know it, but more often than not this question makes me want to shake them by the face.

See, it’s kind of like this:

An image you may find amusing if you like your numbers aggravating.

Let’s say you’re somebody who digs numbers. You dig numbers, so you go to college and major in Seven or Avogadro or Counting or something. You graduate, maybe even with a 4.0. (See? I know some numbers too.) Then you go out and apply for a job at companies that like people who like numbers- insurance companies, accounting firms, grocery stores (cash registers, duh)- and then you sit back and wait for the interview requests to start pouring in.

In the meantime, people you know- well meaning idiots who love you- say things like:

“Berkshire Hathaway employees make tons of money using numbers. You should go work there.”

Oh? I should, huh? Okay, well I’ll do that then. Throw on the ol’ Willy Fioravanti, walk in through the front door, and sit down at the first desk that strikes my fancy.

Ah, but you know it doesn’t really work that way. You don’t work places that are great simply because they’re great and you want to work there.

So you snap back to reality. You snap back to the interview calls tying up your phone. Except that they’re not tying up your phone. The real calls are few and far between, and often non-existent from the Big Guys. Maybe it’s because you’re good at pi but bad at 11. Maybe it’s because your plus signs lack professional polish. Or maybe it’s because they’re just not looking for someone right now who does what you do.

So you gratefully accept the position at Mom and Pop’s Bean Counters, even after a friend (read: “friend”) let’s fly some doozie like:

“Mom and Pop’s Bean Counters? I hear they’ll take anybody. You should at least be working at Aunt and Uncle’s Legume Talliers. Their receptionist’s phone has way more buttons.”

Numbers made relatable.
© We Sign

But you don’t let it get to you because you’ve met Mom and Pop. You’ve interviewed with them over burgers on the grill. They are awesome and chill and professional and dependable and the commute is practically walkable.

So you don your Kohl’s shirt-and-tie-combo-pack, head on in to work, and enjoy the fact that the day ends at 5 pm no matter what, that you are awesome at using numbers in order, and that Pop brings the basset hound in on Fridays.

It’s not that you no longer want the Berkshire Hathaway paycheck or prestige. It’s just that those things don’t appear to be in the cards for you, no matter how many times you apply.

But!- and here’s the important part: You can still be a totally rockin’ counter of things someplace else.

Aw yeah. Look at you all countin’ up in there. Right on, right on.

So, back to theatre where those kinds of assumptions and statements are just as absurd as they are in the “working” world. Back to:

“The Rep is a great theatre. You should act there.”

(Responses to which are almost always followed by “It can’t be that hard to get in,” and “You must not be trying hard enough,” all, incidentally, based on the totally erroneous premises that 1) this is the only theatre in town where one could possibly want to act, and 2) once again all you need to get into a place is the desire to get into it.)

And back to:

“XYZ Community Theatre? I hear they’ll take anybody. You should at least be acting at ABC Community Theatre. Their ushers have nicer name tags.”

But you don’t let it get to you, because screw them anyway. You’re fine. It’s fine. It’s all fine. And a lot of fun. And the source of some of your greatest memories and friendships and experiences. And you make people laugh there. And you make them cry. And you get to play parts you’d never be considered for at places that offer direct deposit. And you get recognized at places like the Vitamin Shoppe and it weirds you out. And you get reviewed in the paper and that weirds you out too.

And even though it doesn’t pay, and even though the hours are long, and even though you still get asked condescending questions in an unintentionally insulting fashion– you still love it. You wonder why you feel like you’re always being asked to justify your participation in it, but that’s fine too because by now you’ve gotten pretty good at that. You’re still fine. It’s all still fine.

And then?

And then you blow a community theatre audition.

That.

And then you fear that friends who don’t respect community theatre will make some well-intentioned but totally humiliating comment about the situation and mid-blush you’ll have to come up with some kind of response because they’re your friend after all and you can’t just ignore them even though it’s so awkward blowing it for something they look down on, while not really being totally awkward because you were there and you know the other auditioners were solid, and yeah you mind that you weren’t cast but you also kind of don’t because sometimes that’s just how it goes so it’s fine and all but still upsetting and at least now your weekends will be free, though really that just gives you more time to worry that you’re getting too fat for the parts you want to play which doesn’t really matter too much yet because at least you’re still in your 20s even if only for a few more months but even that is all good because “30 is the new 20” and you love how that sounds because… it’s got numbers in it and… you know I always… wanted to pretend… I was a mathematician…

I forgot where I was going with this.

In conclusion: If you’re going to ask a question, try not to be an jerk about it because you never know how many run-on-sentences you’re up against.

*twitch… twitch…*


Two things which are currently ticking me off:

Oh oh oh wait! The ferrets just did cute, wriggly, ferret stuff! :D Slightly less ticked off now, but I’m sure I’ll work my way back up there as I write; no worries!

1) My (fading, happily) memory of the Danny Gokey look-alike in the silver sedan by the Goodwill in Waukesha this afternoon.

So I’m at a stop light, right? And it’s just me and this other car in front of me and we’re in the left turn lane, right? So the left turn arrow comes on and I can see the guy in front of me is just kinda lookin’ around, taking in the sights, whatever. It’s a gorgeous fall day so I totally understand. Lost in his Autumnal reverie he doesn’t realize the light has now been green for three seconds. (I counted.)

So I give ‘im a little “Beep!” on my horn. A “Beep!” so short and high pitched it sounds like I’ve traded in my Toyota for a Tonka. The kind of “Beep!” people give when the light has turned green, several seconds have passed, and the person at the front of the line hasn’t moved. I didn’t invent this particular beep, folks. It’s been around since before my time.

So I beep, dude looks up at the light, and makes the turn. I follow suit.

We’re driving along and he gets into the right lane while I stay in the left, and he starts to slow down. We’re both still a few miles over the speed limit though, so I figure he’s just a speed-limit-conscious driver.

We’re nearing my turn to get to my apartment so I put on my turn signal and slow way down as I enter the left turn lane. At this point punk ass Danny Gokey wannabe LAYS ON HIS HORN AND PULLS IN BEHIND ME, TAILING ME- HORN STILL BLARING- UNTIL I MAKE MY TURN, AT WHICH TIME HE SWERVES OUT TO MY RIGHT, COMES ALMOST TO A STOP TO MATCH MY SPEED, AND GIVES ME A GRIN AND A TWINKLE-FINGERS WAVE BEFORE SPEEDING AWAY.

What. An. Aaaaaass.

I don’t know why that got to me as much as it did. I kind of hope he’s like that all the time so he has more opportunities for it to come back to bite him.

Ass.

2) Directors.

The following didn’t happen to me. It’s just my delayed reaction to a conversation I had with a friend a long time ago about something that happened to them with a director I’ve never worked with. It only ticks me off when I think about it. And right now I’m thinking about it. Except I’m thinking about it with a lot of run-on-sentences and excessive back and forth between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, so um– sorry for any confusion. :S

**********************************************

"Pompous Bastard" by Tanner Morrow (Click to see his other stuff; very cool)

If you act… well… and a lot… and a director pats your head with platitudes suggesting you ‘keep auditioning’ and not let it ‘get you down’ when they don’t cast you in a part you didn’t want but which they continually insisted upon you, it is both annoying and insulting.

Didn’t they listen when you said (repeatedly) you weren’t interested in the part? Didn’t they figure maybe you know better than they do about what you like enough to make it worth the commute, the rehearsal time, and giving up a month of weekends? (Particularly if it’s a part you’re not getting paid for: you’d sure better at least enjoy it.)

And– they have your resume! They can see you’ve been acting for years. So maybe by now you’re used to the “sometimes you’re cast, sometimes you’re not” dynamic. Right? Maybe by now you’re adult enough to not throw in the towel after their rejection, even if they don’t encourage you to ‘buck up little soldier’ as though you were some pouting middle schooler. I mean– just guessing here.

*pffft* Based on how many people are like this I sure do!

Don’t directors  realize how pompous it sounds when (in the absence of the right kind of relationship) they try to coach actors in things like the golden morality of ‘branching out’ in the roles we’re willing to play? Surely the fact we’ve been doing this for years gives us some insight into what parts we are and are not interested in, no? Or into what kind of parts are worth branching out for?

And I’m not talking about actors who just don’t know what they’re capable of, or what they enjoy. I’m talking about experienced actors who can say with total certainty “I am in no way, shape, or form interested in playing this particular part,” and about the kind of directors who can’t accept a “No.”

You will not woo me with “top billing.” You will not entice me with reassurances about how it’s “The Lead.” Do you think I don’t know these things already? And do you honestly believe all that matters to every actor is having the most lines?? It doesn’t matter if I’d totally rock at a role if playing it would make me regret getting involved in the first place. Are souls really so cheap?

And maybe the director is right; maybe the nay-saying actor would be ideal for the role in question. But once an actor has to beg or insist about it, then casting becomes more about the director’s ego than about getting the right person into the role.

Actors! Stop playing parts you hate out of some misguided sense that it is a sign of artistic maturity! (Enormous, totally respectable exception: Paying gigs for working actors. Y’all dudes are kinda stuck taking whatever comes up in that regard, but it’s an admirable kind of stuck. I applaud your commitment and your flexibility.)

“The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” James Baldwin

**********************************************

Wesley in his favorite sleeping position

Hm. Guess I’m more philosophically peeved about that second one than I’d realized…

Okay, that was it. Those were my two lousy, stinkin’ things. And I’m already feeling much better.

Isn’t writing therapy great?? We should all have blogs.

Blogs, broccoli and granola in our bellies, and ferrets fast asleep upside down in giant, homey cages in our living rooms while the final episode of Xena plays on our TVs.

Wesley just woke up to scratch. Okay: Full un-ticked. ;)

One week to go!



Hair stuff, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, tooth brushes, Tylenol, Neosporin, floss

A week from today my mom and I will be driving to my grandma’s (Mimi’s) house in Chicago before Mim’s and my flight on Saturday to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Excited as I am about the trip, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when I think about how much I have left to do before we leave. I’ve gotten a lot of things done already, except that so much of it is stuff y’can’t see, so sometimes it feels like I’ve accomplished approximately zilch. But I can live with that. ;)

Among the things I’ve gotten done so far that you can’t see are attending a new church here in Waukesha, El Buen Samaritano, to work on my Spanish. My comprehension is SO much better than I had hoped it would be seeing as I haven’t used it in 6 years nor studied it in 9. Whoops! But speaking? Wharbargl… It is hard… and I am le tired… I first learned about the church when Aaron and I met the pastor, Rosa, at an event in Frame Park about a month ago. I’d hoped to attend every Sunday until our departure, but missed one week for a wedding, and another week to attend Elmbrook to hear Jill Briscoe speak. It’s been great to go when I’ve been able, though. Such a warm congregation.

Among the things I’ve gotten done so far that you can see are finding some great children’s books to leave with the mission, and picking up a few meds ‘n’ things for distribution. Nowhere near the quantities we’ll ultimately need, but Mimi’s the one fielding that part of the trip, thank goodness. I’m just the nOOb trying to find small OTC medicines to cram into every available space in my suitcase. ;)

(And thank you SO MUCH to everyone who’s donated goods, time, and financial assistance toward this trip. I’ll take as many pics as I can so hopefully you’ll get to see some of those goods in use!)

Wahoo! So many books!

As for the books- sad to say but a few will undoubtedly not make the trip. They’re just so stinkin’ heavy! It’s possible to pay extra for luggage over the weight limit, and for taking extra bags, but with all the medicine Mimi has gathered we’re already at the ultimate baggage limit. While that is actually great news because it means we’re taking along as much medical aid as we’re physically able to carry, it’s also a tough reality for me to face on a personal level.  The need for books, for education in general, is just so great. And as education and reading are so close to my own heart I want so much to be able to get involved in some way in connecting those things with people who need them.

There’s always the mail, though. And donations to existing education-oriented groups. And additional trips… ;)

To give you a taste of what it takes (me, anyway) to get ready to spend a month volunteering with medical clinics in the Western Hemisphere’s 2nd poorest country (after Haiti), here’s a snippet of what’s left on the ol’ To-Do lists…

Tryyyying to write something to share

HONDURAS TO-DO LIST
Write: testimony, 2-3 devotions, update red journal from Mimi
Email: Pastora Rosa, Laurie, Mimi’s peeps at MC (“about me”), Old Dave
Shopping: lightweight tops, capris, dresses (2), shorts, watch, netbook, netbook case and sleeve, heavy-duty sunscreen
Books/Research: Finish “Intermediate Spanish” book, attend EBS for Spanish review, taking blood pressure, field pharmacy organization tips, maps
Pharmacy: pack OTC meds, print 360 labels, downsize packaging on purchased meds
Paperwork: Confirm passport is still good; make copies for mom, Mimi, suitcase
Pack: books; meds; netbook (cord, mouse, case); camera (charger, memory cards); cell (charger); clothes (shorts, capris, dresses, light tops, jeans, swimsuit, scrubs); shoes (walking, dress); toiletries (sunscreen, bug spray)

 

To Do List...s

PERSONAL TO-DO LIST
Write: Blog update about trip (books, meds, basic itinerary), thank you to M.K.
Email: Jerry W. re: health ins, Marcy R. re: SHE IS BEAUTIFUL, Mark S. re: German dialect tapes
Shopping: David’s birthday present, apt keys for mom ‘n’ dad
Ferrets: baths, razor talons snipped, wash cage/misc, transfer to mom & dad’s house, buy more food
Apartment: laundry, clean kitchen & bathrooms
Job Search: reschedule/attend Remployment class; update resume/job site profiles;  resume to dad to submit for me with list of potential employers
Online: Change Facebook password and give to Becca R., cancel Blockbuster, arrange for bill payment
Call: Bank re: using card abroad, Cell carrier re: int’l usage rates
Fax: Student loan deferment forms

Brodie sleeping... somehow

UPCOMING EVENTS PRIOR TO DEPARTURE
7/23: 8 pm “Hair” at Sunset Playhouse
7/25: 11am Church, birthday lunch
7/26: 3 pm RTW audition (1:30 arrive early to read the stinkin’ script first!!)
7/30: 9 am Drive to Chicago with mom
7/31: 5 am Fly to Houston> Tegucigalpa…

I don’t know where I’d be if not for Aaron and the fam. They’ve not only graciously agreed to stop by my place to pick up my mail and check on my apartment while I’m gone (Lord knows the only things of value in it are my netbook and passport and those’re coming with me…), but my folks have also agreed to watch the weasels for the entire duration of the trip. Yippee!! The boys are very excited to stay with their cousin, Patches, and to show their Mimi how good they are at using their litter boxes at least 60% of the time…

And just like that it’s 5:35 pm. Time to get crackin’ on crossing a few more items off the ol’ list before heading to Sunset Playhouse tonight to see their production of Hair. (Pics should be available on their Flickr account soon.) Everybody’s raving about this show, and I’m not surprised in the least!

Beads, flowers, freedom, happiness everyone!

Short-Sleeved Gill Tee


Welcome to my Nothing post. It’s here to remind me to write an *actual* blog post about Waukesha Civic Theatre‘s upcoming production of “Crimes of the Heart,” running February 5-21, 2010, which I am in and about which I have written far too little given how seriously rockin’ it’s going to be.

For shame, little Ruth. For shame. So now every time I see this post– oh the guilt! How it will eat away at me!

Until I write that real post. And delete this one. Ta-da! In the meantime: Vvvvvvlog.

ETA: Waukesha Civic Opens ‘Crimes of the Heart’
Russ Bickerstaff

The last full month of winter opens with a pair of local productions that explore the strange convolutions of human passion and the lengths to which people will go to pursue happiness.

On Feb. 5, Waukesha Civic Theatre opens its production of Beth Henley’s 1980 dramatic comedy, Crimes of the Heart. It’s the story of three adult sisters who reunite in Mississippi and confront the dark paths along which their hearts have led them. A larger-than-usual group auditioned for the show, resulting in a very promising cast. Donna Daniels plays the oldest sister, Lenny, who has been looking after their grandfather. Ruth Arnell plays the middle sister, Meg, who has returned from Los Angeles after a faltering singing career. Jenny Kosek plays the youngest sister, Babe, who shot her husband because she “didn’t like his looks.” Mark Neufang will direct the show.

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Crimes of the Heart runs through Feb. 21. …

ETA: Dark Comedy On The Edge of Milwaukee
Russ Bickerstaff

The trip out to Waukesha is a bit further than I’m used to going for a show. I don’t make it out that far for a show, but as there was nothing else opening this weekend and there were people involved in this production who have done work I’ve seen elsewhere before, I was looking forward to the long journey west. …

Director Mark Neufang introduced the show opening night. The initial feel of it is very reminiscent of the type of fare that wouldn’t be entirely out of place on stage in a suburban theatre with a generally older demographic than one might find attending studio theatres in town. Things progress and we meet playwright Beth Henley’s three Magrath Sisters—the first of three shows to open in the next couple of weeks featuring three sisters.  Ruth Arnell, Donna Daniels and Jenny Kosek play the three sisters… a cast that has developed a really good rapport to connect-up with a very cleverly-paced Beth Henley dialogue. Between the three lead actresses and a really stylish Michael Talaska set, the production quickly becomes one of the best dark comedies to hit local stages this season. There’s Jenny Kosek at the end of the play dragging a lighting fixture behind her. And she’s contemplating the oven. And it’s a really funny, really darkly comic moment. Much of the action leading into that moment was executed really well. It’s not what I expected out of a trip to Waukesha. It’s well worth the trip.

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Crimes of the Heart runs through February 21st. A full review of the show runs in this week’s Shepherd-Express.

ETA: Four Shows With Three Sisters
Russ Bickerstaff

My wife’s two sisters came over yesterday. The three of them were in the kitchen making cookies as I worked on bits of writing that I was attempting to get done. The three sisters motif was particularly strong this weekend, as my wife and I had also attended a show about three sisters the previous night. It’s a motif that’ll be carried out on a number of stages in the next few weeks. …

Now through February 21st, Waukesha Civic Theatre presents Crimes of the Heart— Playwright Beth Henley’s award-winning comic drama about three sisters meeting-up in a small hometown in Mississippi. My wife told me that the dialogue was quite true to what conversations between three adult sisters are like—particularly when the three are all talking at once. The three actresses in question (Ruth Arnell, Donna Daniels and Jenny Kosek) may not have a real strong family resemblance between the three of them, but the rhythm of the rapport between the three of them feels very authentic.

The Jello Covered Grapes Annual Volunteer Choice Awards


Sunset Playhouse‘s Annual Volunteer Choice Awards were last night and everything about them made me feel so proud, so utterly delighted, to be connected with such a fabulous network of people. But before I begin delivering my run-down of the evening’s events I must first share my amazing new culinary discovery from the reception for those of you who can’t abide reading more than a paragraph or two of blogs: Tim Gensler’s much discussed and highly sought after…

Jell-o Powder Covered Grapes

grapesAccording to Gensler, one of Sunset’s resident Jacques-of-All-Trades and chef extraordinaire for the evening’s appetizers, you take the grapes, right? And you get ’em a little wet– not too wet or they get all clumpy– and dust them with Jell-o powder; cherry for the red grapes, lime for the green. Pop ’em in the fridge or the freezer for about an hour to get them to firm up a little, and voilà: A tasty summertime snack guaranteed to get a hundred+ people asking “what those little grape looking things are” and then coming back for seconds, and thirds, of “whatever the heck they are.”

“Let’s go out to the lobby…”

Sunset’s special night officially began at 6pm with a wine/ beer/ soda bar in the lobby, catering to some of the choicest mingling this actress is likely to experience until next year’s awards show. Everywhere you turned was a person, a conversation, a memory which served as a brilliant reminder of why this room was filled with all these people in the first place: We love creating theatre together.

What a place!

(And thank you thank you thank you to Jean J. and Chuck U. for the wonderful conversation and the extremely kind words. You warmed my heart more than you can possibly know!)

The Awards Ceremony…

…got rolling at 7pm with a song from Vasiliki Fafalios, an area high school student participating in Sunset’s “Rising Stars” program. It sounded like no one in the audience realized she was so young until we were told as much after her delightful rendition of “You’re the Top,” at which time the audience was filled with whispers of “She’s in high school?!” I’m fairly certain it’s a good sign when you leave an entire audience shocked by your age in the wake of your obvious talent.

Next on the stage was MC Ken Smith, presumably given the honor because he has the best beard on the Board of Directors. Hey: When you’ve got it, you’ve got it. He introduced Inge Adams who was to present the award for Best Supporting Actor. It went to David Kaye for his performance as Tim Allgood in Noises Off, but unfortunately dude wasn’t there to receive it. I made sure to give him what for on Facebook as soon as I got home, though, so that’s all taken care of.

Cindy Zauner then floated onto the stage in a lovely… in a colorful… in… in– well in just a joltingly godawful mess of a bridesmaid’s dress to sing “Always A Bridesmaid” from I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! As though I didn’t have enough reasons for being terribly disappointed in myself for not seeing that show, I can now add this little number to my list of reasons to kick myself for missing it. Cindy was too stinkin’ funny. The audience ate her up.

The only award one can give when dressed in something so, so, so terribly unattractive is, naturally, the award for Best Costume Design, which went to Sue Fromm for her work on Escanaba in da Moonlight. Rock on, Sue! Besides being one of the sweetest people on Sunset’s volunteer roster, she’s also quite the talented hand at dressin’ folks it would seem. She certainly got my vote.

Social Security: S. Loveridge, B. Krah

Social Security: S. Loveridge, B. Krah

Bryce Lord, director of this Spring’s Social Security, had the opportunity to present the award for Best Supporting Actress to one of his own: Bonnie Krah. I could fill an entire blog entry with praise for Bonnie, but I would no doubt lose the few of you still reading due to the length of it, so I’ll leave it at this: Bonnie Krah was hands down the best choice for this award. She gave a fantastic performance and the voting could not possibly have gone any other way. Bonnie was also not in attendance, much to my dismay, so I shall have to rib her good naturedly for it the next time I see her before proceeding with my usual Bonnie Accolades.

Another musical number to keep things hoppin’? Don’t mind if I do! Kyle Breitzman performed “Luck Be A Lady” because he figured, as Ken Smith shared with us, “It’s short, easy, and relevant.” Smart fellow, that Breitzman. Smart indeed.

Brenda Gravelle, last year’s recipient of the Unsung Hero Award, presented this year’s to Sue Fromm, who you may remember from such awards as Best Costume Design. Way to rake ’em in, Sue. There’s a lot of heart and a lot of drive in that woman. An asset to any company and dearly appreciated by Sunset.

Best Lighting Design went to Marty Wallner for Escanaba, presented via a flip tablet by Erika Navin, winner of the Ruth Arnell’s Annual Best Glasses Award. Marty really pulled off some pretty neat effects in this one that were hopefully as much fun for him to put together as they were for us in the audience to watch.

Escanaba: R. Zimmerman, A. Lien, J. Bloomingdale, M. Patten, G. Villa

Escanaba in da Moonlight: R. Zimmerman, A. Lien, J. Bloomingdale, M. Patten, G. Villa

Mark Salentine’s remarks on the importance of sound design in theatre, a fun little giggle-inducer to remind us all how much we truly depend on ringing phones and Jan Pritzl, was delightfully punctuated by Matthew Patten, the presenter of the Old-Timer Award to Inge Tiberius Adams. Wait- scratch that. Make that the Newcomer Award to Andy Lien. Lien swears up and down he hasn’t acted since high school, but his spot on comic timing and delivery in Escanaba sure do make a body wonder. Terrific actor, friendly guy, can grow a decent beard; Lien’s a gem and Sunset’s all the better for having found him.

More music? Bring it on! The fourth song of the evening was from next season’s Mid-life! The Crisis Musical, with Mark Salentine and Doug Jarecki as Mary DeBattista’s hapless, helpless would-be lovers. There’s something so charming about a woman who can maintain artistic composure and powerful breath support while straddling a park bench…

Jacquelyn Ranallo and Lena Tomaszek went home with the No Small Parts Award from Anne Gorski for their contributions in I Love You… It was kind of a cute award to see given as the adorable Tomaszek had been the one actually handing out all of the evening’s awards. It was nice seeing her finally get to hang on to one!

Doug Jarecki and Jason Powell were up next with a little improv game (the Alphabet Game, for the curious among you) to entertain the troops, who were duly entertained. Incidentally, JASON POWELL’S HILARIOUS ORIGINAL MUSICAL COMEDY INVADER? I HARDLY KNOW HER! OPENS AT THE ALCHEMIST THEATER ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2009, which is cool.

Same Time...: C. Gamino, S. Hughes

Same Time…: C. Gamino, S. Hughes

Doug was also there to present this year’s Best Actress Award to a very talented young woman, Sarah Laak Hughes, for her performance in Same Time Next Year. This was another show I did not get to see, but having seen Sarah’s work elsewhere I can only agree wholeheartedly with the vote on this one as I’m sure she was teriffic in the role. Not to mention the mad props you’re almost duty-bound to give to any actor who survives a two person show with their sanity so graciously intact.

The Best Actor Award, presented by Mary DeBattista, went to Matthew Patten for his performance in Escanaba and I figure there’d’ve been a bona fide mutiny had he not won for his work in that show. You want a brilliant character actor? This guy’s the real deal, and he works flatullance-joke-loving audiences like a charm. And no, they did not let him keep the red long underwear.

An Awards Night tradition I was glad to see continue was that of Mark Salentine delivering a review of the season as a whole to the tune of a well known song from a musical. This year’s review, to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, allowed us to reminisce together about the joys of Sarah Laak Hughes, and the pain of patrons who are shocked at the idea that infidelity might make its way into a plot. Ah theatre.

A Sunset original, the Rudy Award, is presented every year by Rudy Miskowitch to a volunteer who goes above and beyond the call of duty to bring the season’s productions to a whole new level of quality through their hard work and dedication. This year’s recipient was Marty Wallner, a man who embodies the phrase “to know ‘im is to love ‘im.” Congratulations Marty!

Escanaba: J. Bloomingdale, A. Lien, M. Patten, R. Zimmerman

Escanaba in da Moonlight: J. Bloomingdale, A. Lien, M. Patten, R. Zimmerman

The biggest award of the night, Best Show, was presented by Sunset’s new Managing Director Jonathan West, he of bow-ties-and-blogging fame. The top three nominees were Those Crazy Ladies in the House on the Corner, Escanaba in da Moonlight, and Noises Off. And the award goes to: ESCANABA IN DA MOONLIGHT!

I couldn’t see this award going anywhere else. If Sunset could remount one production to present year after year with the same direction, actors, and set, it would have to be this one. Featuring an absolute dream cast under the delightful direction of Mark Salentine (and my God do you see the costumes and the set in these pictures?! Gorgeous!), this was far and away my favorite show of the year and a true testament to the professional quality theatre one finds at Sunset Playhouse.

Another “Rising Star” at Sunset, high school student Allie Babich, brought the awards ceremony to a close with a performance of “Stars and Moon” which I heard one audience member say brought tears to his eyes. When people tell this young lady “You’ll go places, kid!” I sure hope she knows they aren’t just whistlin’ Dixie. Beautiful voice, lovely presentation. Thank you Allie.

Reception

Tosa Jazz, directed by Donna Kummer, serenaded the audience into the studio theatre for a swingin’ reception. One thing for which you can always count on Sunset Playhouse is a delicious, buffet style spread at every event they host. Last night’s was no exception, and yes I went back for thirds. Oh and happy anniversary to Jim and Susan Loveridge! Y’all were so cute out there on the dance floor.

Music, dancing, food, wine, art, friends, laughter. We who had the opportunity to enjoy such things together on a warm, summer night should be thanking our lucky stars. And for those still looking for such a place of their own, well it’s real easy…

You take 94 West from Milwaukee and get off at the Mooreland Rd. North exit over by Brookfield Square Mall. Hang a right on Bluemound, a left on Elm Grove Rd., and a right on Wall St. Sunset Playhouse will be on your right. Shouldn’t miss it. ;)