Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Carol Blog - from Mike Lawler (Marley's Ghost)

I have a Springer Spaniel named Obie. Best Springer Spaniel in the world. She is a humane society dog. I was lucky to get her. She was 1 ½ when I first did Christmas Carol in 1995 (the old version). After some time away from the show Matthew cast me as Jacob Marley in 2005. Now Obie is 15, this is my 5th year of playing Marley, and yesterday was our first day of rehearsal for the 2009 Christmas Carol. I’m so excited. I love this show.
So, I have the night off from rehearsal. And I’m at home sitting at my dining room table trying to write this blog. I’m trying to figure out how to start. I’m sitting, sitting. And I hear Obie, my Springer, making all this noise. I look over and my 15-year-old dog is walking in circles in the middle of my sofa. Making circles around the same cushion on the sofa figuring out where to sit. I’m thinking: “What are you doing”? She keeps circling, circling. She sees me looking at her and her look back says: “What are you looking at- I’ll know it’s right when I find it”.
That was it! I could identify. That made sense! That’s what Christmas Carol rehearsal feels like to me. Once again going back to this story most of us know so well - and looking, poking, pushing, exploring until it is alive and feels right. And it’s a great story (with a great adaptation). I love rehearsal. I love the discovery, the laughter, and the sorrow. I never get tired of it. We have a great cast. Many of us are returning but we have 9 new members this year. Matthew is a fabulous director - I love watching him break down a scene. Alan Ruch’s music is terrific. I’m proud to be a part of this show and thrilled to be back.
I guarantee you this show will be right and feel right on Dec. 12 opening night. If you have seen it before, come again. Your experience of the show will be new. If you haven’t seen it - just come. You’ll believe like we do.
O.K. Obie has had enough of this blog. She wants some attention. Really she wants a walk. So I gotta run. See you at the theatre!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Impressions from the first day of rehearsal – A Christmas Carol 2009 by Matthew Wiener

1. It’s kind of like Groundhog Day (the movie) - I’ve done this day over and over again. This is my 15th year of directing Xmas Carol, and about the 10th or 11th of this adaptation. Every year it’s the same (I mean we know how it ends) and every year it’s a bit different. The story is the same – but the voices are different – cast changes and all. And I suppose I am different too – just not sure how.

2. This show works like a well oiled machine. And the first day is no different. Name tags. Introductions. Housekeeping. The bathrooms are out the door and to the left. Talking about safety. Talking about health – this year we gave everyone their very own bottle of hand sanitizer! There will be no H1N1 in this cast! Talking about Dickens. Talking about this adaptation. Trying to say something profound. Trotting out the old lines: “This play is about reminding us we all have the ability to change our own lives and in doing so; change the lives of those around us”. Yeah. Sounds good. That’s it.

3. And then the read/sing through. It starts tentatively, timidly. The returning cast members try to find the groove. The new cast members (especially the younger performers) have no idea what’s going on. Kim Bennett, our Scrooge for the past many years, starts off-book and quickly picks up his script, scrambling for his glasses. The opening number is kind of quite – “What part do I sing?” and “How does that go again?” and “Oh, that’s where we do the sotto voce thing!”

4. The Ghost of Xmas Past is a metaphor for the entire moment. “Marley is dead” – yeah, we know. Dead as a doornail. And like Marley we bring this story back from the dead with every page of the script.

5. The music starts to bring us together. The score, by Alan Ruch, is very special. Difficult but special. As each number goes by the musical motifs for the show start to re-accumulate in our collective memories. And our muscle memories. Oh yes, I remember that. The Crow’s Nest number – which we all think is goofy – has everyone tapping their feet, bopping their heads – and smiling. And then The Travels – the most striking trio. We thrill to the memory of what that number can be. We can’t help but applaud – a little. And Silent Night. A carol sung in the key of JOY. The moment that on stage can stop an audience from breathing – or so it seems.

6. Lines start to jump out. “If they would rather die, they had better do it! And decrease the surplus population!” “Bah! Humbug” “Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” “Ghost of the Future, I fear you more than any spectre I have seen.” “I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!” Dickens really did know how to write.

7. Jot notes to myself. Rehearse the Joy. Lean Forward. Athletic Acting. Double up on Echinacea. Smile. Believe. Make a Joyful Noise. Wash your hands. Hit the Verbs.

8. 92 minutes. And we’re done. And we’re just starting. Again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's not a disaster flick...

End of the world, doomsday scenarios are nothing new.
Especially when the stock market collapses as it did recently.
It’s no wonder boom is the most produced show regionally this season.
It’s something that’s on people’s minds for sure…
“What if everything I thought I could count on…was wrong? And I can’t?”
Fortunately for us, boom doesn’t wallow in the seriousness of all that.
Fortunately for us, it’s told by an insanely inventive and hilariously funny playwright.
And not by the people who brought the world Deep Impact.
My apologies to anyone who actually dug this movie…
But if there’s one question I’ve been asked more than any other after people hear the
synopsis…it’s invariably “OH! So it’s like Deep Impact! But funny?!?”
We have lots of booze…and Cathy Dresbach.
Deep Impact has Ensure (you know what I’m talking about if you saw it)…and Tea Leoni.
We soooooo win.
Seriously…I know the end of the world doesn’t exactly sound like fodder for a laugh riot.
But if you still think that…
You probably just haven’t seen boom yet.
So what are you waiting for?
It’s the perfect solution for your “My boyfriend dressed up as a pregnant Heidi Klum for Halloween and it didn’t go over well and how will I ever find happiness again?” conundrum.
Plus there’s a timpani.
Seriously…how bad can that be?
Hope to see you at the theatre!
p.s. the only significance of the picture i used is because it makes me happy. it will make you happy, too...if you come see :)