Wednesday, October 30, 2019

I guess it's that time of year again :(

Last night the Chief had to take me back to Urgent Care because my asthma was getting bad again.  It started with Wednesday's rain, and not being able to get the vials for my nebulizer until Saturday.  They had to give me a triple neb dose and 120 mg of prednisone.  Needless to say, I wasn't good for much today.

I gotta get this under control soonest, so I can start practicing in earnest for my Messiah gig; listening to recordings & following along in the score can only take me so far.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Back in the chorus again

Friday night I auditioned for a(nother) production of The Pirates of Penzance, asking for Ruth.  Knowing one of the other women going for that role, I didn't really expect to get it.  However, when I didn't get called back for the role, I realized I was kind of expecting I would at least get a callback.  Not sure why; given how few roles there are for older women, there was bound to be stiff competition, and the woman who auditioned right after me (also going for Ruth) sounded impressive from out in the hallway outside the audition room.  It didn't help that I was working against an asthma flare (which had me in Urgent Care that night).

Ah well, Pirates is one of the best for women's chorus.  I'll go into it already knowing the music, and not having to worry about memorizing lines will make it easier to design the show as well as be in it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Busy theater spring

I really loaded up my theater schedule this year.

First up was The Gondoliers.  Not only did I get to style 4 hedgehog wigs and a man's wig with buckles (those rolls on the sides), plus wigs for a couple of other folks that were set-and-forget, but I was also in the show.  Oh, and I made 7 headdresses for the married contadine of the ensemble and had a heckuva time figuring out how to anchor the *@&$%! things to everyone's heads.  That made tech week and the run even busier than usual, because I had to age one of the men, do final makeup for a few of the men, eyeliner for one or two folks with less-than-steady hands, AND had to keep tweaking that blasted buckle wig.  I dubbed it my "problem child" because I had to take it home and restyle it at least twice, in addition to all the backstage tweaking I had to do.  Still, it was a fun show, and I was happy with how the "hedgehogs" turned out.  Not as big as I'd hoped, but not at all bad for a first attempt.
one buckle wig (L) and 2 hedgehogs (C, R)

What's wrong with "The Play that Goes Wrong" - MAJOR spoiler alert!

The Chief & I found ourselves in NYC over the weekend and managed to find time to see The Play That Goes Wrong.  I knew people who'd seen and loved it, found it very funny.  We didn't; yes, it had its moments, but a "gut-busting" laugh riot?  No.

Warning:  The rest of this post will be full of spoilers.

The premise is a fairly incompetent college/university dramatic society putting on a murder mystery.  Two of the "stagehands" end up getting pulled into the action, at first reluctantly, but then deciding they like it when the audience applauds for them.  The character playing Cecil is your worst ham, smiling at the audience or repeating a bit if they applaud.  Funny the first time or two, but it can get old.

As you can guess from the title, the whole play is full of one mishap or disaster after another.  In fact, the whole "plot" is merely a vehicle to carry as many actor's and tech's nightmares as possible.  This means you find yourself wondering what's going to go wrong next, and when.  As a result, pretty much every performer on stage has to be good at (sometimes very) physical comedy, which probably left most of them with a whole lotta bruises.  The cast we saw did an excellent job at physical comedy, especially Maggie Weston and Matt Walker (Florence and Cecil).  Maggie got dragged upside-down & sideways through a window in Act I, and Matt took pratfalls, executed somersaults, walked into things face first, and generally made it look as though he'd be black and blue from head to toe by the next morning.

The set includes a platform, appropriately furnished, that represents an upstairs study.  Over the course of the play the downstage end drops a few inches two or three times, while there are people standing on it.  My first thought was "Are they OK?!"  Now of course I know that there is no way such a bit of business was allowed without making completely sure they could pull it off safely.  Still, it would be so easy for something unscripted to go wrong that I couldn't relax, for the performers' sake.

There were a few moments when something would happen or someone would say something and the people on stage would pause, or they would draw out a sight gag, milking it for all it was worth.  I know it was done for comic effect, but I felt that in most cases they let it go on too long.

The performers did do a good job, but they were upstaged by the special effects of the disasters.  Those were so well staged (the shifting platform, a trick floorboard, things falling off walls, and so many more) that it's easy to see why the set won a Tony.  The engineering involved in creating those effects so they could be controlled with exquisite timing was impressive!  (We couldn't help but wonder how long it takes the crew to reset everything for the next performance.)

There were a lot of references to actor's nightmares (e.g., an actor redelivering a line, causing everyone else to repeat a scene) and tech's nightmares (a stagelight sparking as its support falls), but a whole play based almost entirely on stringing them together was a lot funnier to the people coming up with the idea than it was to at least these two members of their audience.