Friday, May 7, 2010

The most important people in your lives

I know I am not the first person to ever say this, but the most important people in theater are behind the scenes. I know I can always find someone to replace me on stage. We can have arguments over how well a certain show is with certain performers but there is never a shortage of attention getters in the form of singers actors dancers comics etc.

But the true heroes of the theater are those that are just as passionate or even more so with out the applause. They work harder for longer hours for little to no recognition. From designers to the builders to the electricians to the folks with you every night behind the scenes running sets, props, lights and sound. The most valuable player of any team is the stage manager. I have rarely scene a show fail with a good one at the helm. A good stage manager can motivate and lead the worst rag tag bunch into success.

SO I want to say thanks to all that have helped at the show shows I perform in. And even bigger thanks to those where I teach. We did a show tonight at the Queens HS. This is teh first year this school has even had a program. We put up about 35 minutes of Improv alternating four Broadway numbers directed by another teacher. The whole night I was blown away by the work the crew did with very little actual instruction from us. But I also saw the value and need to develop that department next. Mostly at the end of the night when it was time for clean up. In the past I had experienced crew that just knew they are the last to leave. No worries - baby steps!!!

But over all this was a great day.... We had call backs with amazing talent - leaving us with a very difficult process to decide what to do next. We are not as cut & dry as regular show casting. If you were at auditions, we loved you all and really need to nit-pick about schedule etc at this point.

The Queens HS cast (actual grades 6-12) blew me away. This was the first show I did not MC. While green, I turned the helm over to very capable hands. Making the decision to do so was scary for me and them on Wednesday. Even at 6pm tonight I debated stepping in. But I am very glad I did not. It is educational theater and they learned so much but having to step up to the plate and far surpassing expectations, as the group has done time and time again the past 10 months.

A word to the seniors. This is just the beginning. In 8 week you will be done with High School - well most of you will anyway. Remember the skills you learned no matter what you do. Good speakers will always land on their feet.

To the underclasses and middle schoolers.... THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING. I do not exactly what is coming but you and the program will continue to grow. Many o f you should seriously investigate youth acting auditions for TV and commercials. More fun than any scholarship application for college funding. But you all have grown and as new leaders emerge for next year, it will be your job to help teach the new students. Stay out of trouble. Don't be bullied into doing wrong. You are way to talented for that. I believe in you. I hope you share in that. Find the strength in the calm times so you can rock it more and more when it is time to do so on stage.

For all of you, don't let tonight be the end. Get together and practice/rehearse improv games. Write some jokes. Write a play. Write poetry. Write a song. Rap. Paint. Draw. Sculpt. (Adam i expect to see a full comic book fro you next year LMAO) All of you are truly ARTISTS now. So remember your ABCs....


Thursday, May 6, 2010

So Walter How is the diet going?!@?

In a word or two - IT'S NOT!!!

Just to catch up those that are new here and to apologize to the two or three that actually read these regularly (THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT BTW!!!) I always go bad during HELL WEEK. Worse when I am serving in director/producer capacity. I am so busy this week, I came home to find 38 messages on my machine, and I have actually been trying to keep up this week.

Tomorrow night is the performance showcase for my High School residency program in Queens. I know they will do well. More nervous about transitions as we have interspersed Improv with staged Broadway numbers with very little true tech rehearsal. Always afraid to step on toes I probably should have been a little more assertive and trained the tech folks better. But they are not my students. Plus it is a new program. I have been spoiled in the past by inheriting great programs with real TECHIES and DIVAS a plenty and able to focus on the art etc. We have taken a school with very little in the way of anything - program, theater / music background, sounds, lights etc - and developed the beginnings of a stellar situation. Thanks to the tremendous resource of raw talent and the inspiring drive of a few great teachers, dean, principal and the Comedy Hall of Fame.

The best part, this is a 7-year program - 6th - 12th grade. Can you imagine these 6-8th grades in 3-5 years. They will be running the show. I think - I HOPE - all the other parties involved see the potential. And not just the students. They have a decent theater space, but year of neglect left them with mostly a shell. 90% of the front lights don't work - depending on 2 OK spots for front light. They had almost nothing in the way of sound. They bought a great headset wireless system. I figure if they buy 1-2/year, they will be ready for IN THE HEIGHTS when the rights come available.

But it was most exciting to see the kids finally work together like a theater group. Before the dress rehearsal, students stretched out on the stage making posters to advertise tickets sales. Small groups practiced their steps. A couple asking advise o how to survive strained and tired voices with so many solos to sing. This was probably the first day I felt like a theater director and not just a teacher in that building. A role I feel will pass on many more important life lessons.

I actually had THE TALK with two students. OK not THE TALK parents have to give. But the TALK someone needs to have with many of these students. Many have read my twitter/FB rants about drugs and other personal abuses by our artist colleagues. Anger surges at every death or stupid outbreak by those flirting with disaster (Britney, Lindsey etc). Coming from the neighborhood we are working, I lay it out this way.... The stars and the F@#$-ups are almost the same people. Withe rare exception, the stars with long careers handle their need for attention, drugs, booze etc. The Eff-ups are very talend folks that in one way or another let their insecurities get in their way and self destruction sets in. Some as simply as having a bad attitude. Many it comes form drugs and/or alcohol. Either way, true stars may be rare, but talent is a dime a dozen. No one is irreplaceable.

I learned that most while on tour with Scarlet Pimpernel. We were in Canada. Our bus driver had fallen asleep (we think thanks to alcohol) and almost ran us into Lake Superior on the way to the border. If you ever see our show and I reference "I ALMOST DIED IN MINNESOTA" this is what comes next. We have a meeting backstage after the show in Thunder Bay. We are to head back to the States the next morning. The company manager said a new bus driver would be waiting for us in Indiana 24-48 hours later. Until then, we are till get back on the bus. A few of us tried to mount a protest. We had three options. 1) Get on the bus. 2) Pay our own way to the next location. 3) Pay our own way home and be replaced.

Boy am I babbling....

Back to my original thought....LMAO THE DIET.... I am not doing well today or this week. Lot of fast food. Tonight I prepared FRESH DIRECT dirty blondies. Basically ready to bake layer of brownie and chocolate chip cookie dough in a pan giving you 8 2x2 squares. I had half the pan already. I then prepare a huge BONE IN RIB STEAK - almost 2 inches thick the steak weighed 18-20 oz with the bone. I did trim the fat and ate the meat over 2 sittings i will call early dinner and the sequel 5 hours later.

I need to back on track. I have yet to buy a scale. I really should go back to weight watchers or try OA - don't get me started - and get back to the gym.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

LMAO THE DIET - Apr 30-May 2

Week 3 Wrap-Up


I had some drama - no comment for now - but I could not sleep for a few nights. So of course I binged. That being said, I have been much worse. I am getting organized, creating new online calendar helping clients and cast can see the future SGF better.

More house hunting. Debating how Ghetto we want to go to get the deals. Loud and Ethnic is OK. Gang ridden block too scary. We are used to loud music and young people acting stupid at 3am in the Heights. But parts of Jersey City are out right dangerous. Other parts are wonderful.

OMG - Thank God we did not have show in Times Square Saturday. I think I really get worked up about these things. More than I realize on the surface. We did a Bar Mitzvah and then headed farther upstate to the Chumas homestead. Came home to the news reports and I just tensed up.

I will try to get back on track with the journaling this week.

LMAO returns Saturday.