Friday, March 31, 2006
Moonie out in the World: David Curley in the other Gypsy
Moonie out in the World: Austin Ku
Just wanted to let you know that I'm playing Tulsa (the young male lead) in Town Hall Theatre Company's production of the musical GYPSY in Lafayette. The musical is actually all about Mama Rose (the ultimate stage mom) and her two daughters trying to make it in Vaudeville as performers, so the rest of us are only in a few scenes--but, I do get a scene-stealing solo song and dance number.
If you're interested, please visit www.thtc.org for all the info.
If you're a fan of the show, you might also want to check out the lavish production of GYPSY going on right now as well at American Musical Theatre of San Jose. I saw it last night and enjoyed it a lot--so different from our teeny intimate production!
Good to know, since I'm going next week.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
42nd St. Moon auditions
PARDON MY ENGLISH (Gershwin/Ives), 8m, 6f. All roles are open.
Rehearsals in September with performances October 19th - November 5th
FLORA THE RED MENACE (Kander/Ebb/Thompson), 5m, 4f. All roles open except for Flora and Harry.
Auditions will be held late May. All ethnicities are encouraged to apply. AEA (BAT, Tier 1) & non-AEA (Stipend). Send headshots and resumés to Casting, 42nd Street Moon, 601 Van Ness Avenue, #E3-621, San Francisco, CA 94102. Info (415) 255-8207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Golden Apple Production Shot #2
Actually this is a great shot all the way around. I love the framing of the dancing men, and they are all in synch very well...kudos to them.
I'm waiting for a report back from Opening Weekend, which I did not get to attend. I'm heading off to NYC this morning (no time to see theatre probably, oh so sadly.) So, I had a lot of stuff to get done all weekend. Hopefully I'll haul myself up to the City next weekend.
Anyone out there see a performance this weekend? What did you think?
My review of TheatreWorks' latest
Saturday, March 25, 2006
First Golden Apple performance shot sends me off on an odd tangent!
I'm doing my best to not objectify the poor guy, but how often do you get to see a shot of a fully clothed woman with a half-naked guy? Usually it's more like the recent Vanity Fair cover featuring a clothed Tom Ford (who?) with supposed mega-stars, but definitely naked, Scarlett Johanson and Keira Knightly. You can take a peek here. (And yes, I know who Tom Ford is. My point is that you'd think the women would be the ones with the power, being movie stars and all, but who do you think looks powerful in that photo?)
This trend of scantily clad women isn't just a modern convention (despite hip-hop video taking it to the next level. Nope, it dates back pretty far:
Friday, March 24, 2006
Moonie Out in the World: And getting great reviews
Sample quote from the rave review:
Russ is an elegant performer who has faultless musical taste and vocal phrasing. He has a voice that is reminiscent of some of the great singers like Tony Bennett, Chet Baker and a little of Mel Torme.
We better keep teasing Russ about his Russtache, or we'll never keep his head to a normal size! Way to go Russ! (And check out his web site for all the scoop on what Russ is up to with his CD, his cabaret show and his theatrical performances.)
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The Russ-man responds about his Russ-stache
For everyone's information, this was not the first appearance of the so-called "Russtache" on the 42nd Street Moon stage. It was last seen on my character of Sandow the Great, during the run of "Minnie's Boys" and was wildly popular during it's run. Attached is a photo of the "Russtache" in action, backstage at the Eureka.
As for upsetting others in the cast by making a bold character choice, my feelings can best be summed up by quoting from the libretto of our show: "Despair cuts through me like a knife, what is the meaning of my life?"
OK, so I don't feel THAT bad, but I was aware enough of the strong reaction to the 'stache that I got rid of it by the next number! :)
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Priscilla Gillette, original Golden Apple star, dies
Priscilla Gillette, the Broadway soprano who appeared in the musicals Brigadoon, The Golden Apple, Regina and Out of This World, died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York Feb. 2 following a period of declining health, according to a published notice from her family. Priscilla Gillette Perrone was 80, and was a native of Tenafly, NJ.
So big it has its own cameo role
But sometimes the first attempts are, well, not exactly as intended. Sounds like it was that way last night, at least according to this dispatch form Golden Apple cast member Carly:
"With all of the craziness of getting everything in order, Russ Lorenson tried to add something to his...costume...last night in Act 2 which was...a...mustache. He came out on stage and we all fell over in our chairs...his entire good looking face had been distorted by this...thing. I whispered unprofessionally to my left to Caroline Altman who plays Penelope that it was the new style dubbed "The Russtache" and now "The Russtache" has been born, and it lives on!! The Russtache made it's one night debut last night, and caused great amusement for us all."
So, Russ: did you realize the impact you had on your poor fellow cast members with the "Russtache"?
Monday, March 20, 2006
Golden Apple opens this week
Don't forget to jump on The Golden Apple tickets. The show starts previews on Thursday March 23rd, opens on Saturday the 25th, and runs only three weekends through Sunday April 9th.
All the performance information, and the promotion code to get your 20% off can be found here.
Don't miss it!
My two worlds collide: theatre and technology
Seems that new compensation models are in order for union actors who do advertisements, because we've moved beyond radio spot and TV commercials. Now we need to take into account the use of such spots on mobile phones and other media channels (can you say iPod?)
Key excerpt form this article (which is behind a firewall.)
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As its contract with the actors unions nears expiration, the ad industry has launched a search for an independent consultant to help develop new compensation models for actors whose work in TV and radio is also used on mobile phones and other growing media channels.
As the old contract expires, actors unions and the advertising business must hammer out new concepts to cover images and audio used across new media platforms like cellphones, iPods and Internet channels.
The industry's negotiating committee said it has issued a request for qualifications to identify consultants with backgrounds in TV, radio and labor relations to come up with alternative compensation schemes that could be used this fall in the industry's collective bargaining process with the two unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The contract expires Oct. 29.
Any proposals that are developed are not meant to be binding, but instead are to be presented as possible alternatives.
Stuck in the 1950s
"The payment structures in the current collective bargaining agreement with SAG/AFTRA were originally developed to meet the needs and problems of the early 1950s," said Douglas Wood, the lead negotiator for the Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Union Relations, which is composed of appointees from American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers.
"We need a new, equitable approach to talent payment -- one that recognizes that consumers are viewing commercials on cellphones and iPods, and advertisers are using digital editing to customize messages for narrow audiences," he said.
The talent unions have also expressed concern over the creative community being left out of discussions concerning brand integration in programming, an increasingly popular marketing practice.
A SAG spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
It's fun, but rare, when my two world of theatre and technology collide.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Cross-post from FMT Blog: Interpreting Oklahoma
Ann Althouse is a well-known blogger, who happens to be a law professor and a rational conservative :) She is also on the Advisory Board for BlogHer Conference '06, over in my other life. That being said I've never met Ann, nor read her extensively until I saw that she too (let me bow my head in shame) writes about American Idol. Yes, it piqued my interest that Ann writes about law, politics and American Idol.
So being a new subscriber to Ann's blog rather than an occasional topical reader, I read this morning that she saw a production of R&H's Oklahoma! last night...and rolled out her expectations for the never-see show vs. the reality.
But I had no idea what the story was, other than that it took place in Oklahoma. Based on the songs, I assumed it was a clean-cut love story. I was surprised to learn it was all about sexuality. There was one young woman who withheld her sexuality and another who gave it away freely. Each of these women had one man who loved her in a worthy way and another who loved her in a dark and slimy way. The sexually withholding woman's story was played for drama, and the sexually free woman's story was played for comedy. The characters' stories interweave through the many long scenes, until the predictable ending eventually arrives. The high point is a surrealistic ballet, the drug-induced dream of the sexually withholding woman, whose fears of rape are elaborately dramatized.
Oklahoma! is my favorite R&H (I'm not generally a huge fan of R&H) specifically because it doesn't just hint at the dark side, like most of their other works, but delves in deeply. Yes, I know that Sound of Music has its threatening Nazis and South Pacific its underlying racism, and King and I its hints gender domination themes.
But in those shows the dark side is much less a part of the plot, or the show happily perpetuates some sterotypes even as they bemoan others.
South Pacific is an example. It comes closes to achieving something very critical that Oklahoma! does: it has the dark, uncomfortable stuff coming out of the mouths of "one of us." Nellie Forbush is the All-American girl, and she is the one who must battle her own not-so-latent racism to find true happiness. Excellent. Except this same piece has a character that doesn't just border on offensive, but runs right over into appalling, Bloody Mary. Speaking pidgin English and willing to essentially sell her teenage daughter to an American serviceman, doesn't the very presence of her take the heat off those racists in the show? Speaking of the daughter, she is the model of a silent submissive Asian woman. So, sorry, I know the show may have been revolutionary for its time, but it doesn't stand up too well.
In Oklahoma! the light and the dark are all represented by plain old Americans. Althouse is correct that the Persan peddler Ali Hakim is played for laughs, even as he drugs up the young Laurie, meanwhile Jud Frye is just a regular guy gone horribly wrong.
The game-playing between Curly and Laurie, the psychological warfare between Curly and Jud, the political conflicts between the farmers and the cowmen, the triumph of Ado Annie's wanton nature over Will Parker's hypocritical double standards for their couple-dom. These are the constant themes of Oklahoma!, and they actually seem as edgy today as they certainly must have then.
Oklahoma! edgy? I think so.
One last note: given Althouse's readership, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the first comment on her post is this one:
It's refreshing to hear about a play or musical being actually performed, rather than interpreted--i.e. used as a vehicle to express the director's views on contemporary political & social issues.
a) I don't think Althouse really said enough abot the play's production to know whether the show was done with any particular overlay of interpretation.
But more importantly...
b) WTF? Did this person think we were talking about the judiciary? What do artists do but interpret when they perform? Nice way to insert conservative politics into a theatre review.
Anyway, I enjoyed Althouse's review. What do you think? Does Oklahoma, the state, represent female virginity?
Friday, March 17, 2006
Exclusive Blog Interview: Susanna Moross Tarjan, Part III
First I asked if Susanna had an opinion about why The Golden Apple became "lost" in the first place:
It's a difficult show. Musically, it’s difficult. It's completely sung-thru. And it generally calls for large cast, although it is done with smaller cast. People are afraid of it and the demands of the piece. Also, John LaTouche and Jerome Moross are not household names. So when you’re talking about raising a huge sum of money for a major revival, that definitely makes it more difficult. There is a cast album. (See Part II where Tarjan talks about how the soundtrack album had to be abridged.) Several years ago the album was transferred to CD...they did great job! RCA BMG Classics recording. Catalog # is 09026-68934. (Here it is on Amazon.)
I also asked if Susanna appreciated staged concert versions, or was disappointed by them:
The Lyric Theatre in Chicago did a fully-staged full orchestra production in 1995. It had some flaws, but it was wonderful to hear the whole piece. Since then it has been done in concert several times. The 1991 Lost musical series in England did it.(I didn’t know about it until afterwards and couldn’t go.) It was done last summer at upstate NY with full orchestra, but concert version.
I would love to see a fully stage production, and if I wins the lottery I’ll stage it in New York!
But I am thrilled with concert version because people get to hear it. Not only do I love the music but the lyrics are absolutely brilliant. My father thought that John La Touche was one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. A brilliant witty man.
Other productions are in the offing. I feel hopeful that the time for the show has come.
Finally, it's not just about The Golden Apple. Susanna works to keep all of her father's music in the public ear. She filled me in on her activities:
I manage and promote my father’s music. I'm an only child, so I knew it would fall to me to handle everything. My father was never good about promoting himself. He was a shy man. And had no sense of P.R. I’m not a great P.R. person, but I’ve certainly been determined to get the music out there.
The thing that made that possible for me was the CD revolution in the late 80s. I realized the thing for me to do was get recordings made and forget about sending scores to conductors with old tapes. Managed to produce 5 recordings. 2 concert music CDs 2 film music compilation CD, and her favorite...Windflowers, the songs of Jerome Moross on PS Classics label. I'm particularly proud of Windflowers because for many years I had all the songs from shows other than The Golden Apple, but didn’t know how I was going to get them out into the world. Many had never been heard, many heard just very briefly. And the opportunity came when working with Tommy Krasker...we arranged for an evening at Joe’s Pub in NY. Then we recorded that evening. That is the show that became the Windflowers CD...the same song structure and cast. My dream is to do one more of those CDs with another batch of songs that I would love to be able to be heard.
Note: you can purchase all of these CDs from Susanna's site about her father.
If you've enejoyed this 3-part interview with Susanna don't forget she's going to be at the show on Sunday March 26th and will participate in the post-show discussion with the audience. Also, she can be reached via email. She loves to hear what people think about her father's music, and of course welcomes opportunities to get it heard.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
BIG NEWS: 2006/2007 Season is Finally FINAL
Well, the new season is finally set and approved. Phew! And, in fact, there were last-minute rearrangements and changes. Getting 2006-07 set has been a cliffhanger for us, as well as the audiences! They aren't always this complicated. The new, complete season dates are:
(1956, Johnny Mercer, Gene de Paul)
JULY 20th THRU AUGUST 6th
PARDON MY ENGLISH
(1933, George & Ira Gershwin, Book Adaptation by David Ives)
OCTOBER 19th THRU NOVEMBER 5th
FLORA THE RED MENACE
(1965, John Kander, Fred Ebb, Book by David Thompson)
NOVEMBER 16th THRU DECEMBER 10th
(1968, John Kander, Fred Ebb, Joseph Stein)
MARCH 15th THRU APRIL 1st, 2007
(1932, Cole Porter, Dwight Taylor)
APRIL 12th APRIL 29TH, 2007
The surprise, of course, is Gay Divorce. We had been hoping to revive one of our most popular shows ever, Cole Porter and Moss Hart's Jubilee, but once again plans for a guest star performer became complicated, so we are holding off on our Jubilee revival, and instead doing Gay Divorce -- the Fred Astaire vehicle that features "Night and Day" and "After You, Who?" among its many wonderful songs. By the way, when Hollywood filmed Gay Divorce as a Fred and Ginger vehicle, the censors insisted the title be changed to The Gay Divorcée -- because the did not want to promote the idea that a divorce could be happy!
Woo hoo! I've never seen any of these shows, although I can't believe that's true, given that Li'l Abner, Flora and Zorba are all more on the modern side of things. Actually, that'll be the fun side of things, because I'm quite positive I've heard multiple songs from each show, but never seen them in context.
So there you have it. The season has landed!
Golden Apple behind-the-scenes
I immediately bonded with Alex Kaprielian's Helen when I heard her treatment of THE GOLDEN APPLE's 'Lazy Afternoon' in Act One and am I pleased to join her onstage in the second act for my second favorite song 'Picture in the Papers'. The lyrics in this show are genuinely funny and the music interesting, complex and delightful.
My advice is to attend the show to hear the entire classic story and intelligent score. If your only experience of this show is having heard or been exposed to the original Broadway cast album, I urge you to come see this production for yourself and experience how much more dynamic and entertaining this show can be!
Actually, his comment reminds me of something composer Jerome Moross' daughter Susanna told me in our interview. I've been meaning to post it, because it's an interesting little tidbit:
The recording is frustrating because it’s not the full show. At the time RCA would not do a 2-record album. And since it was sung-thru, it was obviously longer.
At the recording session John La Touche had to write couplets to tie together the disparate pieces they chose to record, so it made some sense. But even though it’s truncated, you can hear the talent that’s there.
So, to Kristopher's point, the cast album is just a tasty morsel compared to the meal that is the full score!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
The team behind The Golden Apple...back in 1954
Anyway,here's a picture from Susanna Moross Tarjan's private collection of her dad and Golden Apple collaborator John LaTouche. It's dated the early 50's, so right around when they were writing the show. Moross is the one standing, LaTouche, seated.
Do you think those are binoculars around LaTouche's neck? Think they were bird-watching?
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Exclusive Blog Interview: Susanna Moross Tarjan, Part II
We spent lots of time going back and forth between New York and L.A. In fact, I was born in L.A. We lived in L.A. when he wrote films. When he was writing for films he worked at the studio, but otherwise, he worked at home. The piano was in the living room. There was a card table next to it, with an ash tray and his cigarettes at the side. He had the ability to tune everybody out. We knew when he had his tongue in his cheek he was composing.
I just went about my business, like any other kid's situation. The only thing I couldn’t do was play records. But I had friends over; I talked to mother: I went in and out.
My parents were very very close. Whenever he got idea or come up with a melody he would call mom in to listen to it. She was not a musician, but she was the ultimate audience member and his chief fan. When my mom died, father actually thought and said that he was going to live for another 15 years, but he couldn’t. He died 4 months later. This was in 1983.
My father considered himself a composer - not a film composer or theatre composer or any other kind, but just a composer. He did particularly love writing for theatre...it was his first true love. That's why he didn’t stay out in Hollywood and came back to NY...even after the success of "Big Country." He didn’t want to spend his whole career doing films.
Stay tuned for Part III: How Susanna keeps thelegacy of her father and his music alive...
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Exclusive Blog Interview: Susanna Moross Tarjan, Part I
I spent a wonderful hour takling to Susanna and learned a lot about The Golden Apple, Jerome Moross, and all of her ongoing activities to make sure we continue to be exposed to her father's vast body of work.
In Part I of the interview I asked Susanna about her own memories of The Golden Apple's original production. She was just barely a teenager when it played, but she vividly remembers the wonderful production:
"I remember the show well. Because I was in school I didn’t hang around rehearsals a whole lot, but I saw it many times and have vivid recollections of the set and the amazing cast. I loved the whole show. Kaye Ballard played Helen. Kaye wasn’t a star until Golden Apple…it really made her a star. Steven Douglas, Bibi Osterwald and Portia Nelson were all fantastic. Jack Whiting was a terrific song and dance man.
It was a great artistic success, but unfortunately it moved uptown from the Phoenix Theatre to the Alvin Theatre (now the Eugene O'Neill) in May. Back then theatre didn't run the same during the summer, due to the lack of A/C. The show didn’t survive the summer because of the move. One big problem was that it didn’t have advanced advertising. The producers wouldn't let them advertise or sell advanced sales for the new theatre until all Phoneix seats were sold. Many requests for tickets received at the Phoneix were returned rather than forwarded to the new box office.
The Golden Apple won many Drama Critics Award, but the Music award went to Borodin for Kismet. Father laughed it off, but I’m sure it pained him."
Note: Borodin was a classical composer, long-dead, whose music was used for Kismet.
So, it sounds like politics and short-sighted business decisions are as timeless as the theatre itself!
Stay tuned for the next installments of the interview, where we'll discuss:
-Why Susanna thinks The Golden Apple is rarely-produced
-Her father's working style and habits
-Fully-staged Productions vs. Staged Concerts
-How Susanna keeps the Jerome Moross flame burning
Don't forget Susanna herself will be a part of the Sunday post-show audience talkback on Sunday March 26th.
Susanna is always happy to receive inquiries about her father and his work, and you can contact her directly if you're interested.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Greg really does know everything :)
It was standard practice in the first half of the 20th Century for critics to use what is called "The Editorial 'We'" -- ie, just the same as editorial writers used (and in many cases, still use).
It really wasn't until the late 60s-early 70s that the practice went out of fashion for critics. Clive Barnes, I believe,
was the first NY Times critic to revert to first-person. (Walter Kerr, on the other hand, often used first-person when
he would reference earlier shows in a review -- "I remember on opening night of Oh Oh Oh Nurse! back in 1926, I turned to
my date and said ..."
And yet his knowledge extends past the theatrical to the sartorial (in response to my envious curiosity about Cindy Goldfield's hair):
And yes, that's Cindy's real hair. You'll have to ask her how she got it so curly.
I will. Oh yes! I will.
Excerpt from a glowing review of the original production of Golden Apple
When we went to the Phoenix for the premiere of "The Golden Apple", we were a little apprehensive. From what we had heard it sounded like a noble experiment. We feared that it would be precious and pretentious. Instead it turned out to be an utterly delightful musical satire. It was art without being arty.
OK, I can't help but remark that it's a bit of the pot calling the kettle black for someone who refers to himself as a "we" to call anything pretentious, no? I'm guessing (hoping) that was the standard of the day.
But I'm gonna cut the guy some slack, since he also says:
"The Golden Apple" strikes us as being the most important musical since "Oklahoma!" and No less revolutionary, in our opinion, is "The Golden Apple."
There's more, but I'll whet your appetite with those choice quotes.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
First look at Mack and Mabel cast
Left to right: Steve Rhyne as Frank, Cindy Goldfield as Mabel, Bill Fahrner as Mack, Kalon Thibodeaux as Kessel and Amy Louise Cole as Lottie.
I'm just dying to know if that's Cindy's actual hair. On a good day I achieve the perfect curliness depicted, but most days it's more like frizz and fuzz.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Golden Apple Discount for Blog Readers is Ready!
20% off all tickets for every performance, excluding Sunday matinees.
Available via phone orders or walk-ups to the Box Office at Yerba Buena Center.
Call 415-978-2787 to order all tickets and use the code BLOGAPPLE.
Details are here.
One last note: this discount is available in limited quantities only.
So, get going :)
Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for 42nd St. Moon!
Darlene Popovic for Minnie's Boys, Klea Blackhurst for Red Hot & Blue!, and David Curley for Miss Liberty have all won in the Best Actor/Actress Category. (They do allow multiple winners per category.)
Also, Kalon Thibodeaux was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for Minnie's Boys.
You can see the full list of nominations and winners here.
Congratulations to all our Moonie nominees!