29 November, 2007

A bad night in the theatre...

What DOES a bad night consist of?

A ticket to a West End show costs £55-60, well over a hundred dollars. I think for that amount of money, you should be guaranteed a flawless performance with the entire original company. (In fact, I think for that amount of money, you should get to go home with the ensemble member of your choice, but that's ... not up for discussion...) The fact is, however, that you're not guaranteed much, other than a hopefully-not-too-uncomfortable amount of legroom, and in London, you don't even get a free program. 

The Leading Man might be off, a piece of scenery might get stuck, lighting cues might get missed, Fruma Sarah may not fly, the principal (or in our case, ONLY) violinist might get stuck in a scooter accident on his way to the theater. You still spent over 50 quid, but you are not getting what you paid for.

That being said, most of the shows that I do, and most of the shows I attend, go off without a hitch (or at least, without a hitch that I notice), but this post is about the inevitable night when things go very, very wrong.

* * *

In the run of Fiddler the following things have gone terribly wrong:

1. horrendous lighting cue mic ups, resulting in the wedding being lit by the the dream lighting state. Bad.

2. The revolve BROKE. No plan B. Show cancelled.

3. As a result of there only being ONE understudy for the three leading daughters, we had to cancel two saturday performances due to myself and Tzeitel being unable to perform (Franny was bedridden, I had an allergic reaction to a face lotion I put on my eyes: see picture, above...)

4. Fyedka (the new kid on the block, 21-year-old Welschman Michael) responds to Chava
Fyedka: Would you like to borrow this book? It's very good.
Chava: No, thank you.
Fyedka: Why? because I am JEWISH? [stunned horror on everyone's face. Michael has just ruined this entire plotline in one foul swoop.] Um... do you feel about...[scrambles] non-jews, they way... they feel about YOU?
Chava: [Exhasperated Natasha voice] I don't think we should be talking this way.
Fyedka: You're quite right. [totally humiliated expression.]

5. Chava basically forgot to put her microphone on... it was funny...

6. We had to begin a performance without THE FIDDLER (who, if you do not know, plays the very first line of the show as an unaccompanied solo... so that was great...). We had to put a capo on the cello and press on. It was already 7:45.

7. Understudy Tevye and 3rd conductor both on for the first time... it was a real low.

8. Another beautiful Fyedka Foil was the following:
Fyedka: We cannot stay amound people who do such things to others.
Chava: We wanted you to know that. Goodbye Papa.... mama....
Fyedka: Yes we are also leaving. [Michael TOTALLY BLANKS... and then makes it up...badly...] Some go.... because of others.... Us.... [points dramatically... perhaps to make up for the severity of the blunder] by...you....

I mean, Oh my God.

But nothing quite compared to WiW; the five magical times the electronic background video stalled, and eventually turned into a Microsoft™ screen, with moving mouse arrow and eeeeeeverything... Fantastic.

* * *

As I said, most of the time, it all goes smoothly. Actors are amazing at covering themselves; even when things are completely insane, most actors won't show it, they'll just start instinctively modifying what they're doing to solve the problems. Musicians are equally brilliant at adjusting on the spot; jumping, or adding beats, or transposing on a dime if something starts to go off. AND, if I may say so, it is to all-of-those-people-exposed-on-the-stage-every-night's credit, that most audiences have no idea how much goes wrong during even an unexceptional, normal performance. Enjoy.

PS) Any other good stories out there?

25 November, 2007

Condensed Film Scripts: Catwoman

Ostensibly based on the DC Comics character and starring Halle Berry, the film resembles next to nothing of its source material ("Catwoman In Name Only"), which is most definitely not for the best.

In this "piece," Catwoman has super duper cat-person powers, (which she lacks in the comics), and her lycra catsuit is replaced (though sparingly) with slashed leather trousers, a bra, and a mask-cap---thingy. She leaps from rooftop to rooftop in stiletto heels, and we watch on (in simultaneous wonder and disgust) as her costumes get skimpier as the movie progresses.

One of the choice fighting scenes makes use of a face beauty cream that when applied gives the wearer invincibility.

There are so few words, but the most apt would be: “ Me-ouch! ”

* * *

Part One

Patience: Hi, I'm Patience Phillips-- a shy, sensitive artist woman who can't seem to stop apologizing for my own existence. I work as a graphic designer for a mammoth cosmetics company on the verge of releasing a revolutionary anti-aging product run by two evil people. Sorry if that was long. Sorry. Really sorry.

Part Two

(Later, at THE MAKEUP FACTORY, Patience is delivering her artwork. She stops suddenly! Accidentally overhearing the following...)

Health Inspector: this anti-aging product is UNSAFE!

Sharon Stone Evil Makeup Corporate Person: What do you mean?

Her Evil Husband: This is a very very dark secret indeed Health Inspector. No one must know! WAIT!! WHO IS THAT LURKING IN THE CORNER?!! PATIENCE PHILLIPS?! That shy, sensitive artist woman who can't seem to stop apologizing for her own existence? GET HER!

Sharon Stone Evil Makeup Corporate Person: PATIENCE PHILLIPS MUST DIE.

Patience: Oh no! I am in the middle of a corporate conspiracy!

(Patience runs into a large waste water pipe, where she is trapped, and they flush her into the river, where she drowns. This is where we all hope the movie is over but then...)

Part Three

Egyptian Mau Cat: I have been watching you for DAYS Patience Phillips, and for some unexplained reason, I coincidentally knew that you were about to die and luckily made it here just in the nick. I have "special" powers that are given only to a few deserving potentially sexy women after they die... most of these woman are more confident and successful that you, but you will look great in the outfit.

(Patience is reborn with new sexy catlike powers.)

Part Four

Catwoman: What a mystical twist of fate! I now have the strength, speed, agility and ultra-keen sexy senses of a cat.

Egyptian Mau Cat: Yes. That is the idea. You see, I am a cat... so... hence, the powers... right.

Catwoman: Patience and Catwoman are two completely different people, yet WE ARE ONE.

Egyptian Mau Cat: How confusing...

Catwoman: I seek sexy sexy REVENGE for those who murdered Patience. Meow! Hiss!

Egyptian Mau Cat: Steady there.

(With her newfound prowess and feline intuition, Patience becomes Catwoman, a sleek and stealthy creature balancing on the thin SEXY and yet again SEXYTHIN line between good and bad...very bad...)

Part Five

(Her adventures are temporarily and shallowly complicated by a burgeoning relationship with Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt), a police detective who has fallen for Patience but cannot shake his fascination with the mysterious (and highly sexy) Catwoman, who appears to be responsible for a string of crime sprees plaguing the city.)

Patience: Catwoman's wild side is beginning to have more influence over me!
Catwoman: Now I will begin to follow my own sexy rules.

(Look out world, sexiness has never acted so badly.)

18 November, 2007

Injured Bad...

I don't even know how to begin to articulate the joy and pleasure I and so many others have received from this brilliant clip.

Yep. Well I just got out the shower, have 20 minutes to get readyl, and I've now watched it 7 times! It's the look of death on his face as he says it... beautiful...

17 November, 2007

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
I love it.
Love it love it.

The food is a feast, and all of it easy to cook (in general, I am stove and grill lady. Everything on the stoveTOP is usually a disaster of some description...). It is a day shared with friends, family, and "chosen family." It lacks the pressures of Christmas, and it's sole purpose is to reflect upon and remember the things we have to be grateful for. It's our time to express gratitude, feel comforted by the simple joys the world has to offer us, to literally give thanks... From easy-to-cook turkey/stuffing/gravy, to the thousands of fortunate moments, the multitude of blessings that we receive each year.

I have had a Thanksgiving of some description every year I have lived in the UK...
2002: Murano Street Student Village pot luck held in a hired conference room with florescent lights. We were still thankful. This was also the beginning of JNF's delightful recounting of The Story of Thanksgiving. "Tradition!"
2003: We hired the Chandler Studio Theatre in Glasgow, it looked like a Pilgrim Nightclub, and grew in numbers!
2004: JNF and I host The Day at the beautiful 29 Westbourne Gardens (our cozy flat), The numbers tripled and even our South African upstairs neighbors joined us. Saying our "thanks" took over an hour. We ate on the floor, there were children who squashed stuffing into the carpet. Brilliant.
2005: Ellie organizes the decor and Zoe cooks THE WORKS. The entire company of WIW sing America's National Anthem... in English accents, and feast during the interval.
2006: Turkey Day in Sheffield. Fiddler cast gather at Henry's digs for a full on festive feast. This was my best turkey, and there was much game playing and cast bonding in the middle of what felt like nowhere.
2007: A quiet, intimate dinner and giving of thanks with loved ones, in a place that finally, after all this time, feels like home.

Every year this stuffy old tradition is a hit with the often reticent Brits. It is not that the Brits are thankless or lacking gratefulness. No, no. They are simply a reserved being. A creature of frequently repressed emotion. And emotional expression, I'm afraid, is what Thanksgiving is all about.

But it isn't about the event for me. It's about the ceremony. Stopping. Taking a proverbial breath from the hamster wheel of life and looking around. Seeing the gifts.

...Something has just occurred to me. I feel like I might be Britain's Thanksgiving Fairy. Yes. I am the self-appointed Thanksgiving Fairy of Her Majesty's United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). I spread joy and have a magic wand that not only fills you with the sprit of Thanksgiving, it also blesses you with a momentary whiff of pumpkin pie.

So. Happy Thanksgiving, Reader. I am thankful for many things, but I am also thankful for you...

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
-- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

07 November, 2007


Ahhhh autumn. My favourite season. The colours, the smells, the quality in the air. So often people view autumn in a negative way: the end of long, light-filled days, and the beginning of dark, impending cold.

I see more! Autumn ushers in some of the most glorious, fiery foliage; crisp, brisk air; warm, delicious jumpers, and the heartiest food of the year. Mmm! It is also a time of nostalgia, reflection, and change. Autumn summons tremendous positive emotion within me, and I encourage everyone to bask in it's MAJESTY...
....bask, i said....
...um, are you basking....?

So farewell summer loves. Hello autumn. Hello you!

Autumnal Notes:

  1. Find THE jumper to get you through the winter

  2. Make chicken stock once a week. It's essential cold battling equipment, and the best nutritoius warmer in the world!

  3. Order logs

  4. Love your root-veg! (Remember the basic rule of thumb: anything that grows above ground you cook in boiling water, anything below ground you start from cold water).

  5. Start planning your winter dinner parties (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hogmany, [Robert] Burn's Night)

  6. Dust off the FONDUE SET!

  7. Renew your search for the perfect baked potato. Is it King Edward, Maris Piper, or the Mighty RUSSET? (High starch content is apparently the key to a good baker...)

  8. Try Grouse or pheasant. Why not?

  9. To celebrate autumn, get a chunky jumper on & go and cuddle someone. If you are going to cuddle them for a long time, and they are a work colleague, ask permission first!

  10. Make PUMPKIN PIE! And PECAN! And Chicken and Mushroom! In fact, make all the pies!

  11. Bye bye Museli, hello porridge!

  12. Make the seasonal herb swap. Out with summer herbs (mint, basil, chives) and in with more robust cousins (thyme, rosemary, sage).

  13. Bulk up on beta carotene (pumpkin, squash, sweet potato) to set you up for cold!

  14. Bring on the baking! Nothing like walking in to a warm kitchen smelling of cake.

  15. Make sure you're eating well and your digestion is good, because that's the root of your immune system strength. (Autumn food is hearty: squash, apples, beans, beef, lamb)

  16. Nostalgia often reflects the mood of autumn. I know everyone has their own way of exercising nostalgia trips. I like looking through old letters, albums, music, photographs. The other day the light hit a certain way and a wave of nostalgia hit me reminding me it was autumn. A little bit of "retrospection" does the body and soul good.

And finally a word or two from Keats to his friend Reynolds after enjoying a lovely autumn day…

“How beautiful the season is now--How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste weather--Dian skies--I never lik’d stubble fields so much as now--Aye better than the chilly green of the spring. Somehow a stubble plain looks warm--in the same way that some pictures look warm--this struck me so much in my Sunday’s walk that I composed upon it.”

Have a lovely Autumn...

05 November, 2007

Whatsonstage.com Awards 2008

These are the only awards in London that are voted for by the public. So use your voice! Submit your nominations today!

(Pssst! Don't forget to vote for your favourites in Fiddler!)

"The nominations phase in this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, the only major theatre prize-giving to be decided by the public, opens today, Monday 5 November 2007. The annual Awards, now in their eighth year, have firmly established their place in the theatrical calendar with over 12,000 people voting last year alone.

Throughout November, theatregoers can log on to nominate their favourite performances and productions for Awards consideration across all 24 categories. Amongst these are standards including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best New Musical as well as less conventional fields such as Best Ensemble Performance, Best Off-West End Production and Theatre Event of the Year.

The full Awards shortlists will be announced on Friday 7 December 2007. After that, the race is on to decide the eventual Theatregoers’ Choice Award winners, with voting continuing for two months from Monday 10 December and results announced in mid-February 2008."


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