I’m going to try to be brief with yet another MEGABLOG entry of my last week’s exploits. My husband (Pete) and I were wined, dined, and entertained by my in-laws (Pete’s father Bill and step-mother Janet). Bill is a huge musical theater fan, and has more CD’s of original cast albums and more archived Playbills than I!
On Sunday the 11th, after teaching drama at All Soul’s Church, I met Pete, Bill and Janet to see “Sondheim on Sondheim.” This musical review is different from the previous “Putting It Together,” in that big flatscreen televisions (placed together to form movable yet easily watchable screens) show video of interviews and photographs of Sondheim, accompanied by Monty-Python-esque animations. The effect is a Musicology 101 on Sondheim. Some well known music is rearranged, some obscure “cut” music is given new life, and some classic Sondheim works are connected with Sondheim’s own personal history (although he claimed only Merrily We Roll Along was autobiographical in any way). All the performers are great – although Tom Wolpat lacked the gravitas for Sweeney Todd. There were some odd choices in staging (running up and down the set during one number seemed filler), but the general “let’s just learn about Sondheim’s music” was fulfilled. I was particularly brought to tears by Norm Lewis’ rendition of “Being Alive” (Pete can attest to the rivulets of tears pouring down my face) and I LOVED that they sang two songs from Assassins (which Sondheim claimed as the show he wouldn’t change a thing of). There were also some songs I wasn’t familiar with and would like to work on myself – the lyrics to “Good Thing Going” hit me as a song I’d like to sing. After “SonS,” we went out for a sushi dinner, and then we parted ways (the In-Laws to go see another show, and myself to The Salon – read about that event here).
On Monday the 12th, I went to an Equity Chorus Call for The Sound of Music for Atlanta’s Theater Under the Stars. They asked me in the room to come back the next day for a callback (yay!). The next day, Tuesday, the callback prevented me from traveling with the In-Laws to the Cloisters for a visit, but they understood. That night, I took part in two back-to-back online seminars via my computer (it’s getting handier and handier to get information nowadays). The first was one for FracturedAtlas.org – I’m signed up with them as a first-tier member (my member profile here), but want to become a fully-fledged member so I can accept tax-deductible donations for my artistic work (there’s a modest yearly membership price) as an Artistic Entrepreneur. Check out FA online – they seem to be one of the best pro-arts financially-minded non-profit organizations, and I have been recommended by several friends to become a part of it. The second seminar was by Miata Edoga of AbundanceBound.com. I’m *good* with my money, but I’m working on being *awesome* with my money (which, as an actor, is always ebbing and flowing). Miata really seemed to come from an honest place of experience in trying to balance her art and money, and comes at the issue of finances from an attitude of power and understanding of the artistic world. Just the notes I took throughout her free 1 1/2 hour seminar were enlightening – she also offers financial step-by-step programs as well. I’m not fully touting her programs as I haven’t taken them, but she seemed to make sense during the free online seminar.
So, Wednesday came around and I was called for a second callback for The Sound of Music (double yay!) for Thursday. In the morning, Pete & I had breakfast with the In-Laws at Norma’s (the eggs florentine was wonderful), then hopped into a cab to go to the SS Normandy exhibit at the Southstreet Seaport Museum. Bill is a big history buff and collector when it comes to classic ocean liner history, so this was a great exhibit to see with him. Made me ache to grab a show on a modern cruise liner, although I think the artists’ bunks are somewhat less extravagant than those on the first-class of the Normandy! Pete & I saw Bill off so he could go see Million Dollar Quartet on Broadway, and then hung around at the Seaport for a bit. We then met my Uncle Steve and Cousin Elena, who are doing the East Coast College Tour of 2010 in preparation to make a choice for her scholastic future. After hanging out with them for a bit, I brought them down to Pearl Studios to sit in on Marquee Five’s last brush-up rehearsal for our final performance of “We Can Make It: The Songs of Kander & Ebb” the next day. I was happy they were at least able to sit in on the rehearsal, as my uncle & cousin had to see Columbia University the next day and get on the road in the afternoon.
Right at 7:30, I dashed from the rehearsal studio to meet up with Pete & the In-Laws to see The Addams Family. Straight out, I knew this was going to be fluffy fun, like the T.V. show – a combination of simple plot, special effects, lights, costumes, macabre puns and singing and dancing. I was more or less right – it’s not going to change the world but it will entertain the out of town tourists. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the amount of puppetry and black-background special effects that were used. One scene involving a floating Uncle Fester dancing with the moon was particularly cute, as was a short scene involving Cousin It dancing with a curtain tassel. All the performances were good – Nathan Lane was perfect as Gomez, the guy who played Lurch stole a couple of scenes, and Bebe Neuwirth was a fine Morticia. If anything, I thought the book and lyrics were stronger (and darker) than the music. The sets and special effects overshined all the performances, though – I don’t think it would be a successful musical without the star names involved, nor do I think it can survive beyond Broadway on tour or regional unless some names and a lot of money are involved. After Addams, we went for traditional after-performance cocktails at Sardi’s Restaurant, although since I hadn’t eaten all evening, I inhaled some salmon.
Thursday brought the second SOM callback in the afternoon (as of this posting I haven’t heard anything back, but who knows!). I met Pete, Bill & Janet at another of their favorite restaurants, Chez Napoleon, to grab some deliciously authentic French cuisine, then left them early to head over to Don’t Tell Mama for Marquee Five’s final performance of our Kander & Ebb review. It went very well, we had a few Press members in the audience, and Bill & Janet loved the show. Pete’s brother, Don, also saw the show with his girlfriend, and afterwards we went 1/2 a block east to try out a beautiful new brasserie and bar on the corner of 8th Ave & 46th called Brasserie Athenee. I had always seen it on the corner, but never had the time to stop in. We had after-show snacks and desserts and cocktails.
Friday was a normal day – although it was World Voice Day! – until the evening, when we saw Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Unfortunately, Angela Lansbury was not performing that week, but I had never seen a full production of the show so it was good to attend “anyway.” I sort of thought the show (which is full of infidelity and unhappy people) lacked bounce (ironically). I got it intellectually, and the story about upper-class people behaving like clowns was clear, but I didn’t really get into it emotionally. The direction seemed darker than it should have been, and one of the performances felt over the top and unbelievable. It reaffirmed my thought that I can play Petra and sing one of the greek chorus members. Zeta-Jones filled the actress-mother role admirably, but I thought that only Alexander Hanson was able to balance being both likable and being a scoundrel in one character well. After the show we had a few moments in the hotel lobby area where the In-Laws were staying, then Pete & I went home and ca-rashed.
Saturday was nice and uneventful until the evening; I met friends Julie Reyburn, Erin Cronican, and Bill Zeffiro for a rehearsal for our upcoming evening together at The Borcalino Room (I’ll blog about this later, too), then met Pete at our friend Keith’s birthday party. On Sunday, after my job teaching drama yet again at All Soul’s Church (woah, it’s been a week!), I met the In-Laws and Pete for one last performance together, this time introducing them to The Salon. The theme of the evening was “Cafe Society,” so I sang two Irving Berlin songs – “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and “It Only Happens When I Dance With You.” You can read about that entire event here.
This upcoming week *seems* uneventful, but it is full of rehearsals and preparations for a busy weekend and following week. I will blog separately about my three upcoming events shortly.
Until then, cheers,
“I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing” – William James