Hi Ho the Glamorous Life (Celebrating 40 “Happy” Years in the Theatre)

This weekend, as I sat in rehearsal for Shrek, the musical that I am currently music directing for Christian Youth Theatre of Fredericksburg, it occurred to me that, with the opening of this production, I will be celebrating forty years of involvement in show business. My first play was at the age of six around Christmastime. I played Santa Claus, and the play revolved around Santa considering putting jet packs on his sleigh to replace the reindeer. I remember almost nothing of the experience, save for the fact that it ended with me (pack over back) walking off the stage, stage left, to the cafeteria door and uttering before I exited, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” A star was born. Oh, well, that and throwing up all over my beard once, due to only having eaten a mayonnaise sandwich for lunch before rehearsal.

Me as Santa

Me as Santa, with Karen Zimmerman as Mrs. Claus, in our first-grade play.

Forty years later, I’m on “the opposite side of the table,” just as much as acting, i.e. directing, music directing, composing, and the like, but after forty years I can honestly say that I still love the grand old pursuit or the Fabulous Invalid, but it goes without saying that there are lengthy periods where I hate the business just as much, wish I’d never gotten involved in the first place, and, without question, strongly dislike many of the negative and narcissistic personality types the business attracts. But with that aside, I want to focus on the good times, the special memories, and the unique experiences that being involved in Theatre has given me.

So in celebration of forty years of memories, here are a few of the most…uh…memorable. Almost every one of the following anecdotes is a blog post unto itself, but needless to say, after a forty year run, I’ve seen a few things. Here are a few selected highlights from the long strange trip, all good. I’ll save the not so good, bad, and bitchy memories for another day.

  1. Thanks to the now defunct American Family Theatre, I had the chance to tour parts of our grand country four times. I was to New Orleans before and after Mardi Gras in 1999, put my feet in the Gulf of Mexico, saw Addams Family in Chicago, visited lots of the southern Midwest, and went up and down the East Coast numerous times. With several cast mates from these tours I’m celebrating almost twenty years of friendship. How time flies.
  1. I have performed alongside or worked with a few Broadway veterans, some as acquaintances, others as friends. I have been blessed to work with Sally Struthers, Jonathan Groff, James Lane, Forrest McClendon, Milton Craig Nealy, and Celeste Holm, as well as a few lesser known luminaries. All have taught me something, and I couldn’t be prouder of my time spent with them. And I promise no more name-dropping.
  1. During my high school’s rehearsal period and run of Oklahoma! in 1986, both myself (playing Curly), and the boy playing Jud carried real guns to school in our backpacks, loaded with blanks made in our basement by our parents. The principal knew, and trusted us, and it was a non-issue. My how times have changed.
  1. I have played a Jewish father (Tevye in Fiddler), a woman (Edna in Hairspray), several priests, a movie mogul, a major-general, and lots of “loud-mouthed little guys.” I have been in not one but two productions of Dreamgirls, The Wiz, and Purlie, all with amazingly talented African-American casts. I was the youngest pit conductor to ever make his debut at the Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, PA and once had a production of Annie I directed reviewed favorably by Greenwich Village’s newspaper, The Village Voice.
  1. I choked once on stage while drinking and stopped the show for nearly five minutes while I recovered my voice. Another time, while shooting trap onstage the gun fell apart in my hands. On another occasion my cast of pranksters Vaseline-d all my props so that I couldn’t pick any of them up. Theatre is unpredictable.
  1. When my father played in the onstage pit for Cabaret, a pit done entirely in drag, I had to take him shopping! I can still remember his ugly black sack dress, old lady earrings, and gray wig, all worn while playing his sax. Somewhere there’s a picture. Someday I’ll find it and post it.
  1. I have been in productions where “showmances” escalated into both on and offstage public displays of affection that skirted the boundaries of propriety and decency. And that said, I’m not telling you about any of them, but at the time they were scandalous and fun.
  1. I’ve had a song I wrote sung back to me with affection ten years later by an actor who didn’t realize I was the composer of the song he was singing. That led to my contributing songs to a New York fringe festival musical.
  1. I can name all the Signers of the Declaration of Independence thanks to my love of the musical 1776, and I know the names of more passengers on the Titanic than most people. My general knowledge of world history, cultures and customs, dates and events, has been greatly enhanced by all the plays and theatre history I’ve had to read over many years.
  1. Lastly, and most importantly, my wife Nancy and I met in an acting class at Villanova University. We were paired up for a scene from David Mamet’s Oleanna. I threw a chair at her, and said some horrible things I would never otherwise say to anyone…and she fell in love with me! Life is funny and wonderful that way.

So for all the above reasons and more I say, “Thanks, World of Theatre, for forty wonderful, terrible, illuminating, frustrating years. Here’s to many more together.”

Namaste,

Jason

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The next project – come see it!

Seeing America

I drove fourteen hours one way, each way, to Orlando, FL this week. I left from Fredericksburg, VA in a little Hertz rental on Weds around noon to arrive at the Quality Inn, where I was staying, on International Drive around 4 AM. On Saturday, I left the Doubletree Hilton, where the conference was held, in Orlando and arrived back to my wife and my bed around 4 AM Sunday morning. I went to the Comparative Drama Conference to present a paper on tracing the tragic rhythm in the major musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein. And, no, that is not the subject of this blog. No worries.

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After the conference, getting ready to drive home.

Driving alone gives you lots of time to think, to listen, to observe. I’m an avid podcast listener and almost never put on music in the car; it puts me to sleep. My business is often music, so listening to music can sometimes feel like work. No, I like the spoken word: podcasts, NPR, even talk radio in a pinch. Down and back I listened to several episodes of The Thomas Jefferson Hour (my favorite podcast) as well as podcast episodes of The Charged Life, Star Talk, Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyer, The Tolkien Professor, Ben Franklin’s World, Back Story and NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t tell Me. I like to listen, I like to learn, I like to engage my mind. I recommend them all.

Most of my time was spent on I-95. It was congested in the southern middle states. It was often calm and clear from South Carolina downward. I was struck by how beautiful America’s landscape truly is; the trees changed, their beauty didn’t. I was dismayed by how many chain restaurants and fast food stops absorb the horizon. Mom and Pop stores, restaurants and the like, make up a very small percentage of the advertised businesses, and their signs often seem old, weathered, or downright archaic compared to the slickness that is the Whopper, the Arches, the Wal-Whathaveyou. I ate at a struggling Mom and Pop buffet called the Robbin’s Nest in mid-North Carolina. The food was amazing, and the price was dirt cheap: $8.75. The place was 9/10s empty, and the wait staff polite if rurally despairing. Once I got to Orlando, the prospects of eating simply and outside of chains practically dried up, and those that were there were largely out of my price range.

I-95, when you get away from the exit ramps, is littered with barns, silos, busted-up car garages, impound lots, go go bars, and lots of flat space in between. Don’t get me wrong, the landscaping is pretty and often custom-tailored to the weary traveler ‘just passing through’, but I was struck by how, well, poor hundreds and hundreds of miles of our great country looks, and along the scenic route no less! To see America, away from the clusters of chain shops by the exits, is to see a country wrestling with poverty, poor wages, and limited opportunities. It reminded me of the almost euphoric fervor people seemed to have around King George when the Wal-Mart started to go up. Now, five years later, over half of the existing family businesses pre-Wal-Mart have closed around town. What have we gained? What have we lost? I can’t imagine how I would feel if my highest aspiration for my son would be as a cashier at KFC, but I could sense that for many folks as I passed through, that would be ‘living the dream.’ Not really.

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At South of the Border, in South Carolina, just off I-95

I don’t mean to be dour or a downer in my post this week, but I do mean to suggest that as a country we need to do better…by everyone. State legislatures across the country over the last several weeks have announced plans to fund education or healthcare or both for their in-state residents. This is in response to what they see as a national government not tending to the needs of all citizens. If this trend continues, I predict we’ll see a flight from states that don’t adopt similar policies to aid their constituents, effectively making some of the poorest states even poorer and the richer states richer. As one Virginia friend said to me this week, after the announcement that New York was going to start offering free tuition to its state universities for residents, “It’s time to move home.” I understand and sympathize with her position. But in a larger sense, the problem is contained within the statement. Too many Americans (not my friend) have been weaned on state’s rights rhetoric – the kind that nearly destroyed our country 150 years ago and is verged to do so again – and it’s time to put that failed ideology behind us. We are all Americans and together, not separate, we can all do better: better healthcare, better education, better opportunities, better infrastructure, better as human beings.

We just have to start caring about each other, and start seeing America both for what it has become, and what it can be.

Respectfully Submitted,

Jason

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Bink and I (I’m on the left) poolside at the Quality Inn

One Crazy Week/You’ll Never Walk Alone

After the Philadelphia Flower Show last weekend (see Bicycles, Bridges, and Bulbs. Oh, My), John Adams stayed in Upper Darby to be with his grandparents. He occupied his week by helping Pop Pop with his physical therapy exercises, playing with his new glow in the dark racetrack, and going to his favorite place: The Strasburg Railroad. When he finally came home this past Sunday he was wiped out. Nancy and I know how he feels.

This past week for us was no less jam-packed and, for she and I, life changing. With the little guy up north we availed ourselves of a little ‘adult time’ by taking in a movie, watching two additional ones at home, and going out to eat as a couple, quietly and without diaper bag, antsy child, or small entourage of stuffed cats in tow. She passed a milestone this week, and I started two other jobs. We closed the weekend out with a magnificent set of choral performances in church and a wraparound trip to Maryland House on I-95 to reclaim our son. Yes, it was a busy week for all of us.

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Inferno movie poster

On Monday evening, I cooked and we watched Dan Brown’s Inferno on DVD from the Redbox. It was – as you might guess from the reviews – nowhere near as good as the book. Three films in, Angels and Demons still remains the best. The book, Inferno, was a fun read with lots of back story on Dante, the creation of the Divine Comedy, and the art and concepts of hell it inspired. The film gives precious little of this, just what is needed to get from plot point to plot point. It’s worth a watch for the scenes of Europe, but otherwise read the book. You’ll get far more from it.

On Tuesday, Nancy found out that her dissertation proposal had passed the English Department at Catholic University without any revisions. This is nearly unheard of. Revisions are almost always required, and it is a testament to her writing and to her faculty mentors that it went through without incident. The Dean and an outside reader still need to pass on it, but she’s nearly home free. When it’s finally approved she can begin to write her dissertation: one step closer to her doctorate.

On Wednesday, I solidified details to join the artistic team of Christian Youth Theatre (CYT) Fredericksburg to be the music director for their production of Shrek. The production opens in June, I start rehearsals in April, but the agreement is in place. It’s been a year since I MDd a show, let alone for a new company, and on a show I’ve never done before. The gig came through a friend, Todd P., who is directing the show. He requested me, and so they hired me. Such an honor.

Thursday, I taught a voice lesson, cooked, and crammed like the devil for the show I was performing in on St. Paddy’s Day…Friday!

When Irish Eyes

The St. Patrick’s Day 2017 cast of Murder Mysteries Will Travel’s production of When Irish Eyes Are Crying

On Friday, I spent much of the morning and afternoon reviewing the script for When Irish Eyes Are Crying, a murder mystery in which I was playing the detective that night! I was recommended by my sister-in-law, Mary Anne, to join the company of Murder Mysteries Will Travel, and, after a meeting a few weeks ago, I was hired on.  So Friday, late afternoon, I trucked it up to the Bristow Country Club in Manassas to perform in my first show with the company. I was nervous – I had a lot of lines and improv – but the company of actors was amazing, professional, and empathetic to work with. The country club put out an scrumptious buffet of corned beef, cabbage, bangers, mash, and rum cake that we dined on between acts. The show itself came off well, and the company was already invited back for the summer. And I only blew a few lines toward the end that the others actors covered for me. Success.

On Saturday, Nancy and I went to Logan, the X-Men movie, and the final one for Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman. Nancy and I had totally opposite reactions to the picture. I found it disturbing and depressing, she found it to be a poignant farewell for Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, who are both retiring from the X-Men franchise. I won’t say more about the plot at this time because it’s still running, but I will say it’s well made, beautifully acted, and not, not, NOT for children. Depressed, I asked Nancy if we could rent a movie that night and she agreed. I picked Snowden. Again, we had opposite reactions. I found the movie empowering, she found it disturbing. As you can tell, both pictures have the ability to elicit multiple layers of divergent emotion. Go see both and decide for yourself. They are both thoughtful pieces and worth your time, but I can’t guarantee how you’ll feel about your country afterward.

Logan movie

Logan movie poster

Sunday morning, my Unitarian Universalist Adult Choir gathered to sing “The Impossible Dream” (from Man of La Mancha) and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (from Carousel) at our Sunday service. We were joined by two extraordinary dancers – Kendall M. and Anthony W. – for “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”  The resultant magic is hard to describe, but their choreography and its execution were moving, beautiful, and inspiring, and the congregation greeted our collective efforts with a standing ovation. There were more than a few tears in the eyes of choristers and parishioners alike. After church, I monologue coached a talented young lady for an hour on an upcoming audition, and then Nancy and I headed north to Maryland House to collect our son from his grandparents.

It was a rough, busy week, and those are just the big ticket items, scratching the surface of life. But I am reminded that the two new jobs I started this week came as a result of other dear people looking out for me and thinking of me when I needed help and employment. Logan, Inferno, and Snowden are all at their core about one person making a difference in the lives of others, either one on one, or on a global scale. And “The Impossible Dream” is about one person’s idealism, and doing the right thing by others. The week kinda summed itself up on Sunday morning as Kendall and Anthony danced in the sunlight of our circular church window to one of the greatest songs of all time. Whatever you’re dealing with, struggling with, pained by, missing, or needing, know this, as I had affirmed for me again this week. KNOW THIS:

You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Namaste,

Jason

I’m so glad we Met: Celebrating 10 Years (Almost) Together

Yesterday, April 30th, enjoying the briefest of breaks from our son, John Adams, who is visiting with his lovably zany grandparents in PA, my wife and I went to the opera. Specifically, Nancy and I went to the high definition live performance broadcast of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of Richard Strauss’s one-act opera Elektra. For the better part of two hours (this was a comparably short offering with no intermission) we were swept up in the grandeur and glamour of the NYC opera scene from the comfort of our local Regal Cinema. Introduced by soprano Renée Fleming and prefaced by a short interview with Elektra herself – soprano Nina Stemme – by General Manager Peter Gelb, this performance was the last one in their 10th Anniversary season; that is to say, for ten years the Met has been piping live performances into movie theatres around the world to critical acclaim and financial success. Nancy and I have been fortunate enough to have been partaking in the experience for the last nine years.

MetOpera Live in HD made its debut broadcast on Dec. 30, 2006,with celebrated Broadway director Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Season 1 consisted of six operas, none of which Nancy or I saw. By season 2, the Met had expanded its offerings by two, making that eight separate broadcasts, and we, in a fit of what must have been newfound glee, took in three operas – Macbeth, Manon Lescaut, and Peter Grimes – back to back in the spring of 2008. While we have never rivaled that consecutive track record since then, our selective opera going has been consistent and mostly memorable.

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Nina Stemme in Turandot

Over the last nine years we have been fortunate to take in Anna Netrebko in Lucia di Lammermoor, the late director Anthony Minghella’s visually stunning Madama Butterfly, the newly imagined entire Ring Cycle of Wagner, Puccini’s Turandot, Verdi’s Aida and Rigoletto, and many more.

Opera is not for everyone and not all operas are for everybody. But since the beginning each broadcast has included the opera itself, interviews with cast and/or artistic staff, intermission backstage camera work where one gets to watch the mind-boggling scenery shifting between acts as orchestrated by the army of Met stage hands, previews of other operas, and of course the creature comforts of popcorn, soda, and not having to go to NYC or pay in-person prices. This last outing cost us $27/ticket plus popcorn and soda, but the experience of seeing these professionals at the top of their game is worth far more than that.

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The Rainbow Bridge in Wagner’s Das Rheingold

As I said, opera might not be for everyone, but the Met and Peter Gelb have been trying to bring it to a whole new generation of enthusiasts for a decade now and their results have been impressive to say the least. The new season for 2016-2017 has been recently announced. Here’s the link to check it out, see clips of past performances, and plan your opera going year:

http://www.metopera.org/Season/In-Cinemas/?

Here’s hoping we see you in the aisle seat next season.

Bravo! Bravissimo!

Namaste,

Jason

P.S. What did I think of Elektra? Honestly, not my favorite opera. But Stemme’s performance was thrilling, electric, emotionally exhausting. There’s always something worth your time.


 

Could August Be August Time?

Fans of the plays of August Wilson rejoice! Playbill announced recently that on April 22 production began on the long-awaited film version of Wilson’s 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning play Fences. Fueled by the recent Oscar controversy over diversity in nominations, and armed with his own A-list celebrity status, actor Denzel Washington was able to get the project green lit by Hollywood after languishing for decades. Denzel is slated to both act in and direct the film, drawing upon the success of his 2010 Broadway revival in which he starred as the play’s central male figure, Troy Maxson, a frustrated husband and father, and former baseball player in the Negro leagues.

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The show poster from the 2010 Broadway Revival

Fences, set mostly in Pittsburgh of 1957, tells the story of the Maxson family: husband Troy, wife Rose, their athletically promising son Cory, Troy’s mentally impaired brother Gabriel, and their extended family. Its major themes of bitterness over lost opportunities and how, who, and where we choose to invest our love are timeless. Of all the ten plays in Wilson’s Pittsburgh or Century Cycle, Fences is perhaps the most universally relatable and deserves to be produced first. And therein lays the big question.

In 2015, HBO announced that they had cut a deal with August Wilson’s widow (he died in 2005) to produce all ten plays in the cycle, a deal that Denzel Washington was also implicated in. However, this production of Fences seems to be outside the boundaries of that contract, being produced through other sources with no connection to HBO. Could it be that this Fences, which is attempting to be released in 2016, could be the first of two versions of Fences to be released over the next several years? Time will only tell. One thing’s for sure with Wilson’s work: one version is never enough to mine the richness of his lyrical writing.

In part, the decades long delay in bringing August Wilson’s work to the screen (with the sole exception of a gorgeous adaptation of The Piano Lesson, directed by Lloyd Richards for The Hallmark Channel back in 1995) was of his own making. Wilson refused to have any of his work brought to the screen unless it was helmed by an African-American director, and Hollywood in the 1990s and 2000s – with the sole exception of director Spike Lee – had no faith in African-American directors’ abilities to open a film successfully and across racial lines. Wilson wasn’t interested in having Lee direct, so every attempt languished…until now.

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August Wilson

Whatever your feelings on Hollywood’s or Wilson’s stances, that bridge has now been crossed, and this independent Fences is shaping up to be the first in a line of highly anticipated screen adaptations  – both big and small – that may finally bring this genius playwright’s work to a broader audience. I, myself, have been a fan of his work since the early 1990s, and my wife and I have traveled far and wide to catch the right play with the right cast and the right director on more than one occasion. We were proudly there on Opening Night on Broadway of Radio Golf (the 1990s play in the cycle), and we were there for the final preview of Denzel’s Broadway production of Fences, and I have no doubt that when this film debuts in the fall we will be amongst the first in line to see it. His plays and his legacy are just that good.

Won’t you join us?

Namaste,

Jason

The Playbill article upon which this blog post is based can be viewed here:

http://www.playbill.com/article/denzel-washington-39-s-fences-film-begins-shooting-today-com-382902

 

I’m Still Here

In case there’s any doubt, I’m still alive and kicking. The joys and stresses of fatherhood have been keeping me very busy and off the blogosphere for many months, but rest assured. I’m still around.

Here’s a little update on my activities. Since November my children’s book, Daddy Doesn’t Purr, has sold well on Amazon and we are talking about a sequel. Through the Christmas holiday I was performing in It’s a Wonderful Life: The Live Radio Play, and it was one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve had in many a year. After that I music directed 9 to 5, starring Sally Struthers, and that show is running through early May at the Riverside Center Dinner Theatre in Fredericksburg, VA. I’m getting ready to record four choral pieces of mine for possible publication and I’m currently writing music for A Unitarian Christmas Carol for my good friend, Chris Johns. I’m broke but busy, my son is happy, and my wife is slowly working on her doctoral thesis proposal. Life goes on…

Hopefully, I can be back on my blogging game from now on. So enjoy the below haiku as a token of thanks for not forgetting me. Hope to write again soon.

Namaste,

Jason

4101
People will hurt you.
The best you can do: Forgive
And manage your pain.

4102
Oh, to have been born
A young calf in a meadow
With all his troubles.

4103
You bruise easily;
Your heart’s always on your sleeve,
Bleeding and exposed.

4104
On into the dark
We journey swift, uncertain
As to the outcome.

4105
God doesn’t have time
To spell out ev’ry detail
Of your life for you.

4106
No one’s against you
As much as you think they are.
They haven’t the time.

4107
Methodical steps
Toward achieving your dreams
Is a smart, sound route.

4108
Simplify your life,
You slave for your possessions.
You have too much stuff!

4109
I went to the woods
To live deliberately,
But got wet and lost.

4110
Out in wet weather
I contemplate my thoughts
In private silence.

Lots of Nice Things

     Summer has really flown by for me, especially the months of July and August, and I’ve had so many nice things  occur that its scary/awesome. I’ve probably experienced the most creative period of the last fifteen years of my life if not of my life period. I released my first book of poetry, True Haiku for You, on Amazon in both print and kindle formats. My first children’s book, Daddy Doesn’t Purr, is in the final stages of development, is looking super cute, and is set for a November release. The New York fringe musical, Warp Speed, that I was invited to contribute songs to opened and closed successfully, and there is a possibility of future performances. Simultaneous to the above, I was music directing two other shows in Virginia, West Side Story and Spamalot, one which opened and closed well and the other which is poised to do the same. I’ve just been cast in It’s a Wonderful Life, the Radio Play. And, perhaps most telling of my artistic mental state, I’ve returned to writing choral music for the first time in a decade. Somehow in all that mess above we found time to take my wonderful son and wife on a grand vacation to Myrtle Beach for a week. So life is good. Busy, but good.

So enjoy this week’s bunch of new haiku and know that they are coming from a very grateful guy who’s had an amazing summer so far.

Namaste.

3769

It doesn’t matter

Whether you’re lazy or scared,

The result’s the same.

 

3770

There will always be

Tiny little setbacks, but

You must look past them.

 

3771

Don’t allow money

To determine your net worth;

It’s but one factor.

3772

There’s always a way

To achieve what you desire,

But you must find it.

 

3773

There’s no benefit

To being a person who

Doesn’t keep their word.

3777

Remember each day

To show appreciation

For all that you have.

3778

Engulfed in darkness,

Someone is looking to you

To light their way out.

3779

Karma is a bitch.

That which you do to others

Will come back to you.

3780

There’s always a way

To turn a situation

To your advantage.

3783

You can’t just sit here

And wait for things to happen.

You must get out there.

Director’s Note for White Christmas

This is an advance draft of my Director’s Note for the upcoming production of White Christmas I have been working on. Enjoy!

May I have your attention please?

This production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas carries a rating of NC-10. That’s “Nice and Christmas-y,” hopefully making you feel like a child of ten again. A word of caution: there is nothing new, edgy, or overly profound in White Christmas. It’s strictly boy meets girl, boy loses girl (Well, I’ll stop there so as to not spoil the ending). Along the way we are introduced to a whole host of colorful characters, pretty girls in pretty costumes, minor misunderstandings, and lots of Irving Berlin standards that have become staples of folksy Americana out of a bygone era. Now, if it sounds like I’m being disrespectful to this stalwart holiday classic, well think again. In the fifty-seven years since White Christmas appeared at the box office, its simplicity, grace, tunefulness, and gentle humor have charmed generations of audiences. Simultaneously, those same qualities have become increasingly scarce in our lives, replaced by complication, harshness of manner and musical style, and comedy that is all too often “in your face” and at someone’s expense. And dare I even mention the commercialization of Christmas or the struggle to share anything as a family anymore?

Well, White Christmas, the new stage musical, with its hit-parade approach to Berlin’s music and its family-friendly romanticized depiction of the 1950s, turns the clock back a moment on all of that, sweeping us into an era of post WW-II optimism, where anything was possible as long as you had love, a barn, lots of passion, and some crazy kids to follow your lead. It reminds us that we as Americans have always been dreamers and optimists, focused more on what should have been and what could be than what really is. White Christmas lets us tweak our past for a moment, wrapping it in a bit of tinsel, showmanship, and falling snow. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Maybe things weren’t perfect back then either. So what? Together if we wish hard enough, right now, today, I bet we can make these few shared moments as simple, as beautiful, and as magical as a white Christmas. And if that happens, who knows what else we can do…

And lest I forget the true magic makers at this theatre, I just want to take a moment to thank Dennis (choreography), Gaye and Nancy (costumes), Phil (lights), Robert (audio), Kylie (props), Dave, Matt and Curtis (set), Sharon and Ben (management), and all their respective staffs. And special consideration to the men who make it all happen, Patrick and Ron, for all their hard work and dedication not only on this production but for all the theatrical magic that occurs here year round.

Happy Holidays and enjoy the show!

Teamwork

Every so often I get a not so gentle reminder that not all people are team players. Today was a double whammy. Due to car trouble, one of the actors in the current production I am in was unable to make it for Act One. Although several well-intentioned suggestions were made as to how to get the curtain up on time minus the unfortunately held up actor, a core of our best paid leads protested all solutions leveling charges of racism and lack of artistic care upon our administrative leadership. The result was a ten minute shouting contest, a delayed curtain for over 90 minutes, lots of hurt feelings and disenfranchised performers and tech hands. Not to mention the 125 people that had come to see the show, only 25 of which ultimately chose to stay. When you are an employee of an organization you have a responsibility to sometimes go along with decisions that are not to your liking. That or quit. While I don’t wish these people who forced a bad call on the organization ill, I do believe that there was no respect shown for the decision-making process at work at this theatre, and I believe they were collectively out of line and perhaps should be censured. And don’t even get me started on the unprepared understudy that also failed to do his job.

Unrelated to this incident, I continue to find that the set designer on the other show I am directing is still dragging his feet on finalizing plans for some aspects of our set. This is an attempt to back us into a corner so that I have to adjust my vision of our production to accommodate his overworked schedule and bullying temperament. Clearly, from these several incidents I needed a reminder that in my line of work not all people are either good or collaborative. I tend to be an optimist and an idealist but constant exposure to this kind of selfish, self-serving and underhanded behavior wears me down and makes me very bitter towards all but a handful of altruistic individuals.