Monday, February 28, 2005

Hee Hee...Greg responds to my heinous accusation that he is "messing with me"

So, as I predicted, Greg read my last post and responded:

First of all, we actually are still waiting for the rights on the "eyebrow-raising" show. Although everyone involved can't imagine there'd be a problem, the bottom line is that the dotted line has not been signed. Not only that, but one of those special Gala guests that I wanted to blab about is also mid-negotiation. And believe me there are jokes I want to make about monochromatic M&M requests or something like that, but I'd best keep my blog mouth shut.

So, the printing of the brochure has now become a calculated risk...is it better to go to print with something you're 99% sure will happen, or with a glaring 'TBA' slot in your season. We're betting on the former.

So I didn't have the whole, entire story wholly, entirely correct. And as it turns out, hard to believe I'm sure, but Greg has more important things on his mind than messing with me! It's always a shock when the world doesn't revolve around me, isn't it? Well, okay, shocking to me. Shocking to you? Not so much.

But to quote Greg:

"See -- there’s just too much going on with rights, problems, etc, for me to be "messing" with you!  I’m too busy messing with the same kind of %$&@ I have to mess with all the time -- and none of this is out of the norm for running a theatre company, even the long delay on (show to be revealed later)."

Again, I think I have to file this window I've had into the 2005/2006 season announcement process under "you learn something new about walking a mile in someone else's shoes every day."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

OK, I think Greg is just messing with me now!

So, the season is finalized...we got the rights we were waiting for. The brochure is going to the printers on Monday.

And Greg tells me...just wait until i give you the sign to publish it on the blog. Only he told me that on Wednesday!

I have been patient, and I have been good. But really it's less fun than you'd think having some exciting good news all to yourself.

Like the fact that yes, we did get the rights to the Number One request audience show. Like we are also doing a show that I'm sure some folks are going to raise their eyebrows at.

Oh, and like there's one more person confirmed to perform in our gala that will raise eyebrows too...in addition to Lea and Brent Barrett, whose performances I already divulged.

But here I sit, in possession of all this great info, bound not to reveal it. And in about 10 minutes I'm leaving to have brunch with two Moonies. How will I contain myself?

Actually, I know Greg reads this blog religiously, so I'm hoping he'll read this and take pity on me...giving me the green light to blab away.

Greg?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Heads Up: Minnie's Boys Discount will be a good one!

We're still working on logistics, but thought I'd give you the heads up: we're looking at offering a 20% discount on all tickets for Minnie's Boys (excluding our ever-popular Sunday matinees.)

That's a nice discount, and will be exclusively offered to online folks. Yay! Reading blogs really does pay :)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Business Behind the Show

Usually I talk about what goes on to get productions to the stage, and Greg chimes in on a regular basis to comment on that. What you hear about a lot less often is what goes backstage to let Greg put the shows onstage. And this time I don't mean the production staff of a show, or the technical staff...I mean the money!

I know I've said before season tickets only account for about 25% of those sold at 42nd St. Moon. And it's also true that all ticket sales only account for about 60% percentage of income for the theatre. The rest comes from donations...and from grants.

Without those grants 42nd St. Moon wouldn't be bringing in high caliber performers, wouldn't be able to devote time to restoring lost works, and certainly wouldn't be able to continue putting on more little-known gems than old war horses.

And who is the rarely-sung hero that helps 42nd St. Moon bring in those grants? Managing Director Lauren Hewitt.

So when Lauren emailed me, full of excitement, about a grant proposal she had turned in, I thought, "OK, we don't normally talk about this side of the business, but without it...where would the other side of the business be?" So, this is something Lauren worked really hard on and should give you a new appreciation for what it takes to keep a theatre going year after year:

"I should tell you about one of the huge grant proposals we submitted.  It's actually very exciting.  We have been cultivating the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for a number of years now.  Of course the California economy has been in the dumps, so getting Hewlett's attention has been very competitive.  We submitted a LOI (Letter of Intent) in December as all potential fundees do, and out of the sea of performing arts applicants, we were one of two organizations invited to submit a full proposal.  I screamed when I got the word.   It is fantastic, just fantastic for 42nd Street Moon to be offered this opportunity.  I don't know if you know Bay Area Foundations, but Hewlett is one of few that offers ongoing operational support for performing arts organizations. They are very generous to their grantees and being recognized by Hewlett holds a lot of clout with other funders.  
 
I spent about 40 hours on the proposal that includes some fairly heady stuff based on what they call a Causal Model.  The whole proposal was based on the 42nd St. Moon's recently completed and board approved long-range plan.  And the timing couldn't be better because Hewlett requires all their fundees to have long-range plans.  It took us a full year to go through a facilitated process to flush out a plan and another six months of editing and rewriting before it was passed - just in time for the Hewlett proposal.  It's really a big deal for us - institutionally anyway.  I guess it might be boring to people interested in musicals, to me - well, it's music to my ears, better than an opening night!
"

The way Lauren describes it, it gets me excited too!

Oh, and BTW: I was talking to a friend of mine who's the artistic director for a theatre in Los Altos. She said they get funding from Hewlett through their grants to "local" organizations, and she considers herself very lucky they're "local" because getting one for the arts grants is much more competitive.

We'll have to keep you posted. But knowing how much work went into the proposal and long-range plan, I have a feeling it's going to come through.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Must share: A Broadway Blog!

Thanks to BoingBoing I just found a blog, cleverly entitled Blogway Baby. This blog near as I can tell is just one woman's love affair with theatre and Broadway in particular. So far, must say I love it.

Current posts include a peek at Encores! 2006 season, so there even something 42nd St. Moon-relevant there.

Check it out!

Groucho Marx on "Minnie's Boys"

Back in 1970 Roger Ebert interviewed Groucho Marx in advance of the Broadway Opening of Minnie's Boys. Marx does sound a bit like the world-weary comedian...with flashes of wit and doses of ennui. I wonder if this is what Robin Williams will sound like when he's 74 or so?

Read the entire interview here.

He talks about the show, but he also comments on modern comedy and movies...and doesn't seem filled with admiration or respect for either!

A few excerpts:

How do you feel about Shelley Winters playing Minnie?

A wicked grin. "I've never felt about Shelley Winters. I'd LIKE to some time. Never got the opportunity . . ."


Does "Minnie's Boys" more or less follow real life?

"More," he said. "It's an interesting story. At least, it's interesting to me. My father was a tailor and a very bad one. His contribution to the sartorial world was about as large as his contribution to the Marx Brothers. We got into show business because our mother's brother was Al Shean, of Gallagher and Shean, and he was pulling down $150 a week. Mother knew a good thing when she saw one."


"The Marx Brothers pictures were pretty simple, they had rudimentary plots. But that 'Midnight Cowboy' . . . I went to see it and you know what it's about? It's about a stud and a pimp, that's what it's about. I'll take the Marx Brothers pictures any day of the week. I HATED that movie. Those were DETESTABLE characters."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sneak Peek: New Season Brochure

OK, not the best resolution in the world, but here's a sneak peek at the cover of the brochure coming out for the 2005/2006 season:


Friday, February 18, 2005

Some Spring Show Casting Info

Thought you might want to get a glimpse at the cast lists for the two spring shows, Minnie's Boys and The Boys from Syracuse:

On Minnie’s Boys, Greg is the director, Dave Dobrusky is musical director and Tom Segal is choreographer.

The Cast:
MINNIE MARX                     Darlene Popovic
JULIE (Groucho)                  Michael Austin
LEONARD (Chico)               Anil Margsahayam
HERBIE  (Zeppo)                 Douglas Giorgis
ADOLPH (Harpo)                Kalon Thibodeaux
AL SHEAN                          David Curley
MAXIE /E.F. ALBEE             Brian Yates Sharber
MRS. McNISH                     Chris Macomber
MRS. KRUPNICK                Amy Cole
MRS. FLANAGAN               Christa Boggs

From Greg: Two roles are still not cast.   David Curley’s role, Al Shean the vaudeville star of the team Gallagher and Shean, is the Marx Bros. uncle (who knew?)  Maxie, one of Brian Yates Sharber’s two roles, is a female impersonator whose act is ruined by the brothers in their first foray into vaudeville.  Later, Brian plays E.F. Albee, the famous vaudeville impresario (and father to Edward Albee.)

From me: Wow, from vaudeville to absurdist theatre...that's quite a leap the Albee family made in just one generation!

On Boys From Syracuse,  Dennis Lickteig is the director, Dave D again is musical director, and Jayne Zaban is the choreographer.  

The Cast:
ANTIPHOLUS  OF SYRACUSE             John Patrick Moore          
ANTIPHOLUS OF EPHESUS           William Giammona
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE                 Michael Austin        
DROMIO OF EPHESUS                    Ron Lytle                           
ADRIANA                                        Stephanie Rhoads                       
LUCE                                              Katie Dederian       
POLICE SERGEANT                     Curt Denham        
AEGEAN                                         Mike Figueira                     
LUCIANA                                        Tielle Baker              
COURTESAN                                   Alexandra Kaprielian     
SEERESS/LADY OF EVENING            Nancy Dobbs Owen
DUKE OF EPHESUS                          Timothy Kuster       
SORCERER                                      Anil Margsahayam        
ANGELO                                          Austin Ku
LADY OF EVENING                           Brandy Collazo       

That's a big cast, and they're still missing one Lady of the Evening! Here's a little trivia: I played Adriana at Foothill Music Theatre fourteen years ago...sigh...when I was but a toddler! Seriously.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Moonie opens this weekend as Anthony Hope in "Sweeney Todd"

Moon regular, Austin Ku is previewing tonight, opening tomorrow in Foothill Music Theatre's production of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. He plays the romantic lead, sailor Anthony Hope.

Tonight's preview is even free if you're on a tight budget! I'm going on March 5th myself. Since I saw both the original Broadway production of Sweeney, and the infamous "Teeny Sweeney" done in the late 80s, I consider myself quite the Sweeney aficianado. Diana Torres-Koss performed Mrs. Lovett back when TheatreWorks did the show, so I can vouch for her excellence in the role.

Austin is going to be in Boys From Syracuse later this season at the Moon, so here's your chance to catch him in a quite significant principal role now.

Here's the info from Austin:

FREE PREVIEW tonight (Thursday) @ 8 pm of Foothill Music Theatre's production of Sweeney Todd, in which I play Anthony, the young romantic lead! If you can, please just show up! Make sure you read the directions below, and bring $3 for parking in the theater lot.

If you can't catch it tonight, we open this weekend and run February 18-March 13th at the Foothill Playhouse (Room 1301) attached to Foothill College/Conservatory, 12345 El Monte Rd in the Los Altos Hills, CA.

SCHEDULE:
Free Preview: Thursday, February 17
Opens: Friday, February 18
Press Opening: Saturday, February 19
Closes: Sunday, March 13

PERFORMANCES:
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm
PLUS Saturday, March 12 at 2pm
Sundays at 2pm.

TICKETS:
$24 general
$22 seniors
$18 students
$10 children under 12 (parental guidance strongly suggested).

DIRECTIONS:
Exit El Monte Road off 280 (first right onto El Monte if coming from SF, continue straight and turn left onto El Monte if coming from the South Bay), Los Altos Hills. Stay/get in the right lane and veer right into the campus, follow the road right and curve into Lot #1. Park ($3 permit from machine must be purchased separately on free preview night only...parking is free for regular performances), go back out lot entrance and up the stairs across the street. At the top of the second set of stairs turn right, go alongside the building and then continue along the path to the playhouse.

THE SHOW
Stephen Sondheim's musical Sweeney Todd is a dark Count of Monte Cristo-like story of revenge. The story starts as Sweeney Todd, who was falsely imprisoned many years ago, escapes and returns to his hometown of London to seek revenge on all those who wronged him in the past. He is unwittingly rescued by the innocent young sailor Anthony (me!) and subsequently assisted by the twisted Mrs. Lovett as he tries to find his wife Lucy and his beautiful daughter Johanna, who falls in love with Anthony.

THE CAST
Starring local A-listers James Monroe Iglehart as the title character, Sweeney Todd, and Diana Torres Koss as Mrs. Lovett.

Also starring Austin Ku (me!) as Anthony, Keite Davis as Johanna, Sean Patrick O'Connor as Toby, Mike Padilla as Judge Turpin, Lane McKenna as the Beggar Woman, and Martin Rojas-Dietrich as the Beadle.

So here's a big 2005/2006 Season Announcement

I can now reveal one of the reasons this upcoming season planning was thrown into a bit of disarray.

Sometime close to when Greg and Stephanie thought they had settled on a season, they were approached by the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization about doing an Irving Berlin show to coincide with the arrival of a huge Irving Berlin exhibit at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum.

The lavish exhibit will be in residence at PALM for six moths and marks the publication of a new art book on Berlin's career. After its stay at the PALm the exhibit will make its way to the venerable NY Public Library!

So, of course 42nd St. was pleased and honored to be asked to participate in the Irving Berlin city-wide celebration.

We will be producing Berlin's follow-up to "Annie Get Your Gun", "Miss Liberty."

According to Greg: "the score is utterly charming, with some gorgeous vocal arrangements."

So let's recap what we know about Season 2005/2006:

September/October: opening with Red, Hot & Blue, starring Klea Blackhurst.

October/November: Miss Liberty

November/December: I can't tell you yet, but it's going to be a marked departure from 42nd St. Moon's usual fare!

March/April 2006: The Golden Apple

April/May: Can't tell you this one either. We're still hung up waiting for rights, and it's got everyone on tenterhooks, since this is the number one 42nd St. Moon audience-requested show .

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

In case you care: my review of Marin in Marin

Yes, I saw Broadway star Marin Mazzie perform at the Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael.

Full review is here.

But here's a pic of me and Marin. Why did I get a pic with her, you ask? Because 20 years ago we did summer stock together, and Marin is a classy dame.


Photos from "Minnie's Boys"

There's a slew of publicity shots from Minnie's Boys up on the Carla Befera web site.

You can check them all out here.

But I'll tease you with this fantastic Groucho shot:



PS-That's Michael Austin as Groucho...should have mentioned that before.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Benefit for a former Moonie, Scrumbly Koldewyn

Scrumbly Koldewyn was an occasional musical director for 42nd St. Moon back in the early days. I was lucky enough to work with him on "Something For the Boys.

I remember that he wanted to start working with the Banner Sisters trio (me, Dyan McBride and Moon co-founder Stephanie Rhoades) ahead of the official rehearsal start, so we met up at his home in Berkeley. One of those charming homes filled with memorabilia from a well-lived life.

But Scrumbly has had quite the life outside the Moon. Here's his brief, official bio:

Richard "Scrumbly" Koldewyn, a founding member of the Cockettes, recently celebrated in the documentary of that name, Scrumbly also founded The Distractions, one of the first a capella new wave groups. In 1984, Scrumbly helped found The Jesters Vocal Trio. For 14 years, the trio has faithfully recreated the glorious harmonies of the 1920's and 1930's. A winner of the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle award, several San Francisco Bay Area Gold Awards, and a Dean Goodman Choice award, Scrumbly also had the honor of having a city holiday named for him on the occasion of his 50th birthday.

Anyway, last month Scrumbly suffered a heart attack and underwent two angioplastys. Artists and performers aren't exactly the most well-insured folks on earth, so a bunch of San Francisco creative icons are coming together to throw Scrumbly a benefit on Monday, February 28th at the New Conservatory Theatre.

There will be a number of performers and lots of festivities, including the Moon's own Meg Mackay.

The cost is only $35/person, but it will mean so much. Benefit details are here.

Since today is Valentine's Day, consider sending some love Scrumbly's way!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Encores! "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"

42nd St. Moon did "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" back in 1998. It was while we were still performing at the New Conservatory Theatre, and it was the last time I performed on stage for the Moon. (Ironically, it was also the last time that Carla Befera, 42nd St. Moon publicist trod the Moon boards on stage as well!)

Anyway, Carla was Cissy (the Shirley Booth role), I was Hildy, and Moon regular Susan Powers was Katie. Lianne Marie Dobbs played Frankie, so every time I see her play such grown-up roles as Anne in TheatreWorks' "Little Night Music" or numerous others...it's still gives me a mental hiccup. Of course, she was already in college when we did the show, but sometimes I remember show details better than life details.

Now Encores! in NYC is doing "Tree." This production is of special note to me because it had impact on us here in the Bay Area. I bought tickets to see Broadway couple Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley in concert up at the Marin JCC tomorrow, and now it is only going to be Marin because Jason is playing the ne'er-do-well Johnny Nolan in the Encores! production.

The NY Times gently glowing review is here.

Friday, February 11, 2005

2005/2006 Season Update

So you may have been wondering where that promised Season Announcement is...well it's still held up in rights acquisition.

No, unfortunately you cannot wave a magic wand and say I want to do this show and that show. There are pesky things called rights. And the holding company will occasionally reject your request. Sometimes it is simply because they feel the show has been done a little too often, especially in your same space, in recent years.

And that happened to us with one of our choices. It's been done in concert version already in the not-too-distant past, and our request got turned down flat. I wonder if the rights holders get concerned that people will see a show as only appropriate for concert productions if there are a few such productions close to one another?

Anyway, it's disappointing, and now we're scrambling to replace it with another option.

Not only that, but we are still waiting for a response from one of the other shows.

Meanwhile the season brochure is on hold waiting for this info...sigh.

[I just want to see the brochure because Greg told me they included a nice big blurb about the 42nd St. Moon web site and this blog in it!]

So, next week?

Yes, we hope to have it finalized by next week...heard that one before haven't you?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Some great writing about acting from an unlikely source

Well, unlikely if you're not a follower of the blog and techie world.

You might remember Wil Wheaton. He was the kid on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

But that was a long time ago, and Wil has since constructed a fascinating and varied life, complete with acting, anime voiceovers, and techie writing gigs. How do I know this? Because Wil is a blogger...a really, really well-known and well-regarded blogger.

Well known, perhaps, because of who he is. But well-regarded? Because he writes like a dream.

Lately he has been getting more into writing about acting, and even though he's talking about reading for television and movie producers, and my peak TV experience was extra work on the now-defunct soap, "Loving", I can relate to every word he writes.

Lately he's been dealing with a sick cat (just as I do) and he has posted a simply brilliant story of a big audition coinciding with a sick cat.

It's a must-read, and I hope it's not too much of a spoiler to betray that it even has a happy ending.

Check it out here.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Lost Musicals Across the Pond

42nd St. Moon has a fan from across the pond who recently ordered one of our CDs. [You do know that 42nd St. Moon has recorded several CDs, right? I'm even on one of them!]
 
While exchanging info with the Moon's intrepid Annette, our London fan provided info about an organization in London that is similar, although less prolific than 42nd St. Moon, Ian Marshall Fisher's Lost Musicals series.

 So, if you find yourself over in the UK you might want to check out their schedule:

Fanny, playing March 6,13, 20 and 27th

Silk Stockings, playing May 22, 29 June 5 and 12th

and

Evening Primrose, playing  July 3, 10, 17, and 24th  ( which according to our friend already sold out within the first week tickets were on sale! Apparently Mr Sondheim is more appreciated over there than over here!)
 
Check out their site for more details, and if you head over and see anything there, please provide us your review!

Friday, February 04, 2005

Our Jester Has a New Gig

If you saw "Once Upon a Mattress" you doubtless recall Ron Lytle as the spry and charming Jester.

He's got a new gig, as the writer and director of an original musical, "Oh My Godmother!" You must check out the web site to see the poster graphic. That alone made me laugh out loud!

It plays the final weekend of February at the Altarena Playhouse in Alameda. Details can also be found (along with the graphic) at the web site.

I guess Ron was a medieval man in "Mattress", but he's evolved into a Renaissance man now! Yes, you may groan at the bad joke. I won't be offended at all.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Much nicer review of "Shakespeare in Hollywood"

I reviewed TheatreWorks' current production of Ken Ludwig's "Shakespeare in Hollywood", and I was much, much nicer than the Times was to "Good Vibrations.

Worst. Theatre. Review. Ever.

Brutal, vicious review of the Beach Boys show "Good Vibrations" in the Times yesterday.

I've read my share of vicious NY Times reviews (John Simon in NY Magazine was the king of criticizing people's weight, their race, their looks, you name it.)

But this one takes the cake.

Key excerpt:

"...the sum effect is of a lumbering, brainless Frankenstein's monster, stitched together from stolen body parts and stuffed into a wild bikini."

Ouch.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Getting to Know Greg

Sometimes Artistic Director Greg sends me (and others) random emails, not particularly for the blog, but things he finds funny. I thought I'd share two such emails today. This should give you insight into Greg's fertile mind.

First he sent me a site where you can translate anything into Valley Girl language. (Or Swedish Chef, or Buckwheat, for that matter.) I mean, like seriously, isn't the Valley Girl thingie, like, dude, two decades passe?

But anyway, he took one of my blog posts and had it translated and emailed it to me. Very funny, Greg. No, really! Oh My Gawd!

Try it for yourself.

The yesterday he sent me this gem:
=========================================
The ANNUAL NEOLOGISM CONTEST

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.


And the winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

7. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

===========================================

What does this tell you about Greg?

He likes language. playing with it, manipulating it. Is it any wonder he's the script-king?

There you go, a little analysis free of charge.

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