Posts Tagged ‘theatre

27
Feb
12

“Wow, Blake, you’ve been quiet lately…”

Why yes. Yes, anonymous commenter on the internet who has somehow managed to usurp the title of a blog post, I have. But it’s not because I’ve gone into hibernation or anything. As many of you know, last week was the annual party/Bacchanalia we here in the great state of Louisiana call Mardi Gras, and Erin came down for one of her legendary visits during that week. It was a wonderful time and I’ll try to find the time to write more about it later in the week, for those of you who don’t just follow us on Facebook.

But now that things have gotten back to normal, I find myself busier than ever. I’m continuing work on the first draft of a new novel (I’m at 63k words at the moment, and I’m guessing I’ll have about another 20 or 30k to go before the story is finished). I’m prepping my next fiction release, which I hope to have out to you guys in the next few months. And starting… oh, about three hours ago… I’m directing the next show for the Thibodaux Playhouse, Alan Ball’s comedy Five Women Wearing the Same Dress. The first night of auditions was tonight, so now I’m going to be working in all of my usual stuff around that.

So I’m still here, and I’m still working. I just wanted you all to know that.

I love you too.

26
Mar
11

This looks familiar… vaguely familiar…

I’m at my school today. Not where I teach, but where I went to college. I’m a judge for the district drama rally in the same theatre where I performed in my first play and most of my first dozen. I’ve been here since. I’ve seen other shows, concerts. I was here last week.

Today feels different.

Today I had the time to walk around. To look at everything. To see the paintings that have been hanging I’m these halls for at least 16 years, and probably many more. The giant sign for the campus radio station I used to look at through the booth window when Jason and I hosted our show. Collages of photographs from so many plays that feature my stunningly youthful face smiling back at me. I remember being that kid. I remember how I thought everything I did then was so important.

I remember flecks of paint, the grains of the wood, rust spots on the green room refrigerator. The fold of the curtain, the “break in case of fire” station just offstage, the rickety metal ladder that I was always terrified to climb, but I did over and over again.

I feel a little overwhelmed.

I forgot what this place means to me. How much I love it. How responsible it is for the man I am today. I want to step into those pictures with 19 year old Blake so I can warn him about the mistakes, but also so I could thank him for all the things he did right.

They say you can’t go home again. And they’re usually right. But that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to visit.

14
Jan
11

Faster Updates

I’ve got less time to post tonight than I did yesterday. Darted to Best Buy after school, got my hands on DCU Online, the massive install is happening now. Woot.

Going to Thibodaux tonight to work the door for our newest production, Crimes of the Heart, starring several friends of mine and directed by the inimitable Daniel Ruiz. Go to ThibodauxPlayhouse.org for more info.

I’ll do a full review soon, but if you want a different kind of zombie novel, look for Feed by Mira Grant. Friggin’ great.

Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. I think we should bring back the name Langhorne. Do you know how many kids I’ve taught named Dylan, Cody, Mason, or some alternative spelling thereof? I have never taught a Langhorne.

I’m just sayin’.

27
Sep
10

Counting down…

Friday is our opening night. Thursday we go before an audience for our dress rehearsal preview night. Tonight we had almost all of our props and costumes, plus lighting and sound cues for the first time. Utter chaos, but in a great way.

All the Great Books (Abridged) is going to be a fantastic show, folks. Reserve your tickets if you’re in town, and forgive my sporadic posting this week if you’re not!

22
Sep
10

Sherlock Blake!

If you’re waiting for this week’s Everything But Imaginary, I’m hoping to have it online tomorrow. The play opens next week, and rehearsals and preparations have eaten up an awful lot of time. I appreciate your understanding. If you understand. If you don’t understand, then screw you.

Anyway! How about a quick preview of the show? Sherlock Blake!

20
Sep
10

The set evolves…

Tonight was our first rehearsal in the theatre. We used all the props and costumes we have so far, which is more than 50 percent of them. It was the most exhausting rehearsal I’ve ever had. It was glorious. Also, I’m pretty damn certain that the photographer from the newspaper is going to use the picture of me wearing a bucket on my head and with a mop between my legs. Probably on the front page.

Glorious.

The set is looking great:

18
Sep
10

Why do I do it?

I’m spending today in Thibodaux, working on the set and props for our upcoming production of “All the Great Books Abridged.” Some may ask, given the fact that I do work a full-time job and I start most days on Twitter complaining that I woke up too early, why I devote so much of my time to theatre productions like this one – community theatre productions at that, shows where any “payment” for your work comes in the form of the Playhouse providing the sodas at the pot luck cast party.

And the truth is, more than anything else (except Erin), it makes me feel ALIVE.

When I’m on stage, my aching back stops aching for a while. I stop feeling tired. I have more energy and vigor than I do anyplace else in the world. Maybe it’s adrenaline, maybe it’s the fact that I can lose myself in someone else, maybe it’s all psychosomatic. I don’t know. But the fact is when I’m on stage I feel better than I do almost any other time. I may never win an Oscar, but I don’t care.

That’s why I’m willing to spend my Saturday with like-minded people making things like this set and getting ready for two intensive weeks of work that I won’t get famous for, won’t even get PAID for, and which many in the audience will forget by next week. I do it for myself, the rest of my cast and crew, and the awesome few that will remember.

10
Sep
10

Top Five Musicals I’d Love to Be In

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a big theatre nerd. Okay, maybe it’s not exactly “manly” to enjoy getting on stage, singing, acting, performing… but they say that sleeping with a stuffed penguin isn’t manly either. So who the hell are “they” anyway?

Ahem. Anyway, it seems like I wind up involved, in some way or another, in two or three plays every year, which is a pretty good amount for an amateur like myself. I’m not going to Broadway or anything, but I do love my little community theatre, and I love doing shows there. Of course, when you’ve been doing theatre for a long time, you start to get an itch to do specific plays, specific roles, and this afternoon as I was driving home from work, the music that rolled up into my iPod reminded me of that. So I thought it’d be fun to explain for you guys the top five musicals I would love to be in some day. Will I ever get the chance? Who knows. But a boy can dream, right? Here they are, in no particular order:

The Producers. The relatively recent play, based on the Mel Brooks movie, starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick both on stage and in the film adaptation. The story focuses on a Broadway producer desperate for a hit and the meek accountant who figures out a way to make even bigger money if the play flops — even if it isn’t strictly legal. The Nathan Lane (or, if you’re old-school, Zero Mostel) role of Max Biyalistock calls to me. I’ve only gotten to play the sort of sleazy, underhanded characters a few times over the years, but by God, it’s fun to be somebody so against type for a few hours. Plus, his songs are just fantastic. This show, no doubt, would be a total blast.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is another play based on a movie (last one, I swear) and another case where I think it would be a lot of fun to play the sleazeball. The play focuses on two con artists — an old master (played on Broadway by the incredible John Lithgow) and a young upstart (played by Norbert Leo Butz) who make a wager on whether they can scam a fortune out of a young ingenue. This is actually the soundtrack I was listening to when I decided to write this little blog post, because the last few numbers are so damn good that I look like a maniac singing along in the car as I drive. Casting, however, is a little trickier for this one. I’m probably age-appropriate now to play the Norbert Leo Butz character, but the Lithgow character is a lot more appealing. Then again, it’s not like I’m planning to retire from community theatre or anything. Maybe someday.

1776 is perhaps my greatest unrealized theatrical dream. This musical was originally produced on Broadway in 1969, and although they did later make a movie out of it, the stage show came first. Dammit. Anyway, as you may guess from the title, this show is about the writing of the Declaration of Independence. That sounds kind of dry, I know, but it’s anything but. The music is snappy and highly singable, the characters are very funny, and there’s even room for some incredibly deep drama as the protagonists (John Adams, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson) clash with the Southern states over the condemnation of slavery the Declaration included. (Historical fact, peeps, look it up.) I’m a little torn on this one. If I got my pick, I’d play John Adams, but Ben Franklin would be pretty awesome too. Whenever the time comes for my theatre group to vote on the shows for our next season, I get the urge to suggest this one, but I don’t because of practicality. We don’t have a large pool of male actors for our musicals, and this cast is about 25 men and two women. I don’t know how we could ever produce it.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is one I fear I’m going to have to mark down in the “Too Little, Too Late” category. Based, of course, on the legendary Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz, this movie shows an average day in the life of Charlie Brown and his friends. There’s not really a cohesive plot to the show, no real story, it’s more like the creators of the musical picked a few recurring themes from the strip and wrote songs to go with each of them. Schulz himself reportedly wasn’t that happy with the musical, and looking at it from his perspective I can understand why. Several of the scenes don’t really jive with the characters as he created them — Charlie Brown’s baseball team being in the running for the championship, for example, or having Lucy clearly in the same grade as the rest of the kids, including her younger brother Linus. The lesser-known Broadway show Snoopy: The Musical is much closer to the spirit of the characters, but frankly, the music isn’t nearly as good. The children in this play are usually played by adults (the legendary Kristen Chenoweth did a star turn as Sally just a few years before her breakout performance in Wicked), but I can’t help but think the time for me to try this one has passed.

Into the Woods may be the best-known musical by Stephen Sondheim (at least, it was before the movie version of Sweeney Todd), and it’s certainly my favorite. This play is divided into two very different acts. In act one, we see more or less traditional (if very funny) versions of various fairy tales, including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and more, all of which seem to end happily ever after. In act two, though, we watch as the characters converge and learn that “happily ever after” is a myth, the real world has a dark side, and sometimes things don’t work out the way you’d hoped. It’s a brilliantly subversive little show, using some of the most familiar characters in the world to get across very honest, often overlooked realities that we try to shield our children from, and in doing so, really do them a disservice. The only thing about this one, though, is that — unlike the other four shows on this list — I’m not really sure which character I would want to play if I ever had the chance.

These aren’t the only musicals I’d ever want to do, of course, but they’re my favorites, the ones I like the most. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

20
Aug
10

All the news, none of it fit

Today is the end of the second full week of school since the end of the summer holidays. It is also the second Friday in a row where I got home at about four-ish and fell asleep on the couch until about five-ish. Coincidence?

Also this week, we’ve begun rehearsals for the next show at the Thibodaux Playhouse, All the Great Books Abridged by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. I’m directing this play, in addition to appearing in the cast, along with my good friends Paul Cook and Damon Stentz. This is the third RSC-penned play I’ve been in, having appeared in college productions of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged and The Complete History of America Abridged back in… well… college. The script, of course, is fantastic and funny, but I’d forgotten just how physical these RSC shows are. I was exhausted after rehearsal last night, and my leg has been really sore today after a minor fall I took because I’m a klutz who still has trouble standing up without breaking my own tailbone.

But damn, it’s gonna be a good show.

I promise, those of you who see it on a Friday, I won’t fall asleep.

03
Aug
10

Blake and Erin and the Summer on Stage

I go back to work tomorrow, after a summer that feels like it just started. I’m noticing an interesting phenomenon here — last summer, when I didn’t have a play to do, I was going a bit stir crazy just around the time that school was ready to start again. This time around, I was out three to five nights a week working on the show, and as a result, I feel like I haven’t gotten any time to relax at all. I’ve got to find a balance next summer.

But with school about to kick off, I’m going to end my summer by taking you guys on a short tour of Erin’s recent visit down here to New Orleans. She came down specifically to see the Thibodaux Playhouse production of Annie I was in, having never actually seen me perform on stage before. I was, I’m not ashamed to tell you, more than a little excited that she was finally going to see me. She came down Friday, giving which meant she was going to catch the last three performances of the play, as well as get to join me for the cast party.

100_2749

Let's play "Where's Waldo" -- I'm definitely in there.

This was, by necessity, a little different than our visits usually are. We spent pretty much the first half in dealings with the play, but we managed to have fun regardless. On the Friday night, my group of friends managed to join us after the show at our usual post-pay pizza hangout. It gave Erin a chance to see them again, even Kenny, who I believe arranged the false threat of a tropical storm just so he could come in and hang out with us. On Saturday, she got there just in time for a family reunion. The Robert clan — my grandmother on my father’s side — got together for a potluck lunch, where Erin spent most of the time playing with my cousin Jonathan’s new son Jordan. They both enjoyed it quite a bit.

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He wanted to eat her fingernails. They looked like candy.

100_2707

From left: Erin, me, my father Kerry, mother Debbie, sister Heather, her husband Will, sister-in-law Kayla and brother Kerry Jr.

Sunday was the last night of the show, and after the strike, Erin joined me and my friends at the cast party. It was a good show, a show that sold out every performance, which I’ve never seen happen before at the Thibodaux Playhouse, and it was made even the more special because Erin was there.

With the play over, the last few days of her visit were a bit more normal for us. On Monday, we went to my school where Erin helped me move from my old classroom to the new one I’ll be occupying this year. (I’m teaching 11th grade instead of 9th, so I had to switch hallways). It was nice to have the help in general, as I had a lot of books and papers to move, but it was even nicer to have Erin there. She’s always wanted to see my classroom, and now she got to see them both, even if it was brief. After the move was over, we went out and met Jason and Andrea to see Inception, which by the way, was awesome.

100_2785

Erin recovers from lunch outside the Joint.

On Tuesday we had our most typical tourist-y day, going down to New Orleans for lunch at a barbecue place Erin found called The Joint. It’s small, out of the way, very difficult to find, and had some of the best barbecue we’ve ever tasted. We also spent a little time walking around the city, hitting a used bookstore and a few other locales of note (Southern Candymakers, naturally), before coming home and meeting up with my family for dinner at a local Italian eatery, Fat Greg’s.

100_2783

This is the lunch we had to recover from. The big plate in the foreground? That's HERS.

Wednesday, as always, is my geek day, and Erin was good enough to indulge me on my weekly trip to the comic shop. We also took in Toy Story 3, which she hadn’t seen yet. The second time made me cry pretty much as hard as the first. And on Thursday… sad, sad Thursday, we had lunch at Jaeger’s Seafood and Beer Garden, and Erin went home.

100_2791

So eat your heart out.

This was, as I said, an atypical trip for us. With so much of our time dictated by the play and family obligations, we didn’t have nearly as much time to ourselves as we usually do. And we didn’t even take as many pictures as we usually do, which prompted my idea of hiring a mute photographer to just follow us around, which Erin wasn’t wild about, but we’ll talk through it. Even if we didn’t have as much “us-time,” that’s okay, because it was time together. I don’t care if it was just the two of us or if she had to share me with 200 paying audience members (which I know doesn’t sound quite right, but bear with me here). I was with her, and that’s all that matters.




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