Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lights up!

Back after a too-too long hiatus. The nasty thing about stopping blogging is that you lose the knack.

Tonight, I saw "Tremors: Edited for Television" at the ever-reliable Neo-Futurarium. One night only- you missed it, suckers. There are, I believe, two more weekends of bad film scripts in concert readings. Worth catching, for sure, but that was the last taste till Autumn of delicious House-flavored theatre.*

This weekend will be packed full of show. Check back and back again.

*A bit like strawberry... inventive and damn good-looking.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Why does the phrase "Delusions of Grandeur" keep coming to mind?

Just got back from my first main-stage show at the Athenaeum, which is everything a well-appointed high school theatre ought to be. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's what it used to be. The Athenaeum- former girls school, yes? I'll look it up later. It's about the size of my own high school's rather exceptional theatre... meaning way way way bigger than anything I normally see plays in.

The show, "City of Angels," was kind of hoping to be a big Broadway style production. The hired spotlight car and the 40s autos outside for opening night were great touches, even if the spots were on for several hours of total daylight. Also, opening on a Monday...a day that's a particular bugaboo for one of the show's characters. Cute!* Lots of publicity effort there. There was even a revolving stage. Just like in Les Miz!

Nevertheless, there was a veneer of amateurism over the whole darn thing. Not really a thin veneer either. The revolving stage squeaked. Bits fell off of the set. The voiceover bits were sometimes unintelligible. People bumped into each other. There was a moment when a male/female pair of characters did a sloppy, flubbed, it-was-never-gonna-happen-anyway jump lift. I felt the moment was emblematic. It struck me as an above average community theatre production, but because of it's obvious pretensions, it didn't get the sympathy from me that AmDram** usually gets.

The cast had uniformally good voices, and a lot of them had very impressive credits. I'm not entirely sure why the whole thing seemed so inert, so overlong, so awkwardly staged, so much as if the actors were phoning it in long distance and making up for it by talking really loudly. I think only one actress turned in a cohesively good performance from beginning to end. I'm not thrilled with the music in this show, but the book is full of good lines. Why weren't any of them funny?

I had a conversation recently with Phil from the House, about the weird experience of sitting way too close to the stage at "Wicked," and wanting to tell the chorus members to calm down, honey. Ok, Phil felt that way about the whole cast. I felt that many of the leads pulled it off some of the time. The point is, playing big without looking like an idiot can be tricky. If you're out there having fun, if the space is small, if you can take yourself seriously and not seriously at the same time, and if you have the chops, a few technical fluffles won't phase you. I don't know. That could have been part of the problem.

But it was not torturous. The unnamed play that I still haven't gotten around to reviewing because it was just that bad*** was torturous. This could have perhaps been enjoyable if it was a lot shorter.

*And strange. I was able to nip out during intermission and audition for Gypsy.**** Ah, Mondays.

**As they say in Britain.

***Ok, that was "The Movie Game." Don't worry, it's over now, and it can't hurt you.

****Ok, so I actually didn't audition for Gypsy. Critical license. Made a good story, right? I did, however, finally get to meet Kris of and TOC. Nice guy.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Mmmm.... Delicious Jews....

Tonight's show was Amerikafka at Trap Door. Lots of good, funky stuff- puns, songs, nudity, puppets, puppets engaging in songs and nudity. Maybe too much stuff? It's two plus hours long, and the first act especially spent too much time circling about.

It's about Kafka's love of the Yiddish theatre, with a bit of biographical portrait. Also, it's a Yiddish style staging of Kafka's unfinished novel, Amerika, with Kafka as audience member and occasional interlocuter. Also, Kafka is dead, and the play is an attempt to exorcise his dybbuk from a world that has moved on into the sort of tragedies he can imagine only too easily. Also, Kafka is naked.

Great, weird staging tricks are all over. The jokes, irreverent and foul, are also great, but there should have been more of them. Better jokes to weirdness ratio. This is practically a vaudeville tradition, after all. The amount of nudity, however, was pretty good! Full marks. Also, at least one song that I want a copy of.

This kid they've got playing Kafka is fantastic... haunted eyes, gaunt frame, intensely baby bird. The cast is very huge though, and a little uneven. One actor was really solid, but didn't have quite enough oomph for his ultra-demanding part. And a couple of actresses who can't project or enunciate managed to sneak in. I mean, I'm five feet away from you. It shouldn't be difficult for me to hear what you are saying.

I think the venue is one of my favorites so far. Storefronts are for punks! This one is actually behind a restaurant- the very lovely Jane's. The Leopard Lounge is right next dooranges, and there's plenty of time to nip over there during intermission for a martini special. Not that I would do that. But you could!
The theatre itself is small, of course, but newly renovated, with a decent tech set-up. Their bathroom is shockingly lovely. Yes, shockingly. I've been to a lot of storefront theatre bathrooms. Their backstage is...well... after bows the actors filed off and were seen pulling a curtain closed behind them. The curtain bulged out. Awww.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Burlesque is the new awesome

Blew back in from the Lavender Cabaret's 80's Night. My god! So much fun! I am making this a monthly trip, and you should too.

I also recently enjoyed the Belmont Bombshells. Great shows, for different reasons and also some same reasons. The Sugarbabies (of Lavender Cabaret) are dancery dancers, with high kicks and all kinds of posterior muscles. The Bombshells are, by their own admission, actors...adorable normal girls with goofy smiles.. their vibe is very old time vaudeville. You get to sit and watch in seats. Their MC, Jack Midnight, works the boozy, mildly depressed lounge-hound thing to perfection. The Lavender girls are far more amped up- they perform in a club setting. One stands and woots. One marvels at the thing that girl does with a hula hoop.

One does NOT, as a female, feel grossed out or threatened by either burlesque group. There is no male-pandering strip-club vibe. Don't worry, and don't hesitate to show up. *

Finally, both shows featured the Amazing Tomas, an itty-bitty bespectacled magician of whom I am an official groupie. Whether he's twitchily performing card tricks, doing shocking things with balloons and cigarettes, or inducing us to chant his name, I (heart) the Amazing Tomas.

*For the BB's show up with a bottle. It is BYOB. Score!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Back! With a new raffle!

Want a voucher for free theatre tickets? Email wayoffloop at gmail dot com with the subject line "Take me to the Theatre!"

Caveats: You only get one ticket per show, choices are limited to what I happen to be reviewing. But I see good stuff.

You don't have to re-enter if you've entered already.