Sunday, September 30, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
For those of you who know anything about Buffalo Theatre and the multitude of venues the city has to offer, you know that a grand season opener is a big deal (for the theatres and theatre-goers at least.) Well, this past Friday was the official Curtain Up! here in the Queen City and I have to tell you that I'm happy it's over.
Although we theatre-trash consider Curtain Up! the official "new year", it does get a bit tedious in preparation. Ideally (and usually) each participating theatre officially opens their season the night of CU. All curtains rise at 8:30 (preceded by a huge gala dinner on the stage of Shea's Performing Arts Center) and the evening is concluded with a big street party in the theatre district. As you may imagine, it's a stressful time.
Now, on a personal level, those who work full-time in a professional theatre AND choose to star in a production have an even more stressful experience. You see...it's not the best decision. Especially taking into consideration that one can not be in two places at one time. Let me demonstrate how my CU went: I woke up, picked up my Grandmother and drove her to work with me. We worked until 3ish and then I drove her back home. After a brief nap, I got up, showered, shaved, and drove back into the city to pick up my co-star and the musical director for my show. Then, after performing, dropped my co-star and musical director off at their desired locations, drove back to my workplace (The Kavinoky Theatre), changed into my tuxedo, and joined the cast at their opening night party. Immediately afterwards, Jamie, Geoffrey and I drove to Studio Arena Theatre for Artvoice's "King and Queen of Curtain Up!" celebration. I played the question and answer game to see if (once again) I would be crowned King (or Queen). I wasn't. We had a drink or two and then drove home. This sort of scenario has been and will continue to play out for the next three weeks...(without the whole King and Queen thingy, of course!)
Now...this doesn't sound too bad, right? I mean, everybody has a job and if they're in a show it does add significant strife to their psyche. Perhaps I just wanted to vent. Perhaps I feel guilty that I'm not exclusively at my theatre. Perhaps I just want sympathy. It's ridiculous.
The most important thing...and the reason that we all do what we do...is that the curtain is finally up and Buffalo's Theatre season is, once again, officially underway!
Posted by Uncle Joey at 9/16/2007 11:00:00 AM
Sunday, September 09, 2007
I am, indeed, still alive. It's just been a very busy few weeks for me.
THRILL ME: THE LEOPOLD & LOEB STORY by Stephen Dolginoff just opened at The New Phoenix Theatre this past Friday and we only had seven days to put it all together! It was a grueling, hot, voice-losing process but it all paid off!
If you don't already know, The Phoenix chose to mount this phenomenally dark musical with me and the playwright/composer, Stephen Dolginoff. Michael Hake serves as musical director and accompanist and Bob Waterhouse directed.
It runs through September 29th...every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. (except for the "Curtain Up!" performance on the 14th which begins at 8:30.)
Mary Loftus saw the show last night and had this to say about the show:
THRILL ME? OH YEAH!!!!!I hope you can check it out too! Let me know what you think...
WHAT A WEEKEND FOR THEATRE DOWNTOWN!!!!!!
I knew Manny Fried's production would be terrific. I was less sure about Phoenix Theatre's production of the story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, not only because it was the "Crime of the Century" back in 1924 (and still resounded in the years in which I was growing up) - but because the author dared to make it a "musical"!!!! Yeah, that's right - a musical. OK, I said to myself, what chance could this thing have? Well, hell, let's go see. I persuaded my friend, Jill Beck, to go with me, poor innocent that she is.
Well, let me tell you (and I will whether you let me or not) THRILL ME is one very compelling production. You cannot take your eyes off the two actors up there, whether they are just talking or going off into a totally generic musical piece. There are no big intros to any of the songs - which just insinuate themselves into the action and are entirely in keeping with the action. No disturbing or disrupting the action.
And Joe Demerly works completely against type or anything I have ever seen him do - and makes the most of it!! He's terrific as one of the most skanky guys you might ever meet outside of an asylum. Somehow he makes his insanity seem just outside normal. Great job Joe!!! And nice suit!!!!
The author of the book, music and lyrics of this improbable show, Stephen Dolginoff, superbly brings to life the poor schlemiel so in love with Richard Loeb that he has no will of his own. I have to wonder about the mind that could dream up such a "musical", but he is an utterly charming and apparently sane individual. And a wonderful actor and singer. He also deserves applause for writing music and lyrics that add to and carry along the book. No huge crescendoes for Mr. Dolginoff. Simple melodies that hold you and underline motivations.
If you don't know the story of Leopold/Loeb, I don't know where you have been, because there have been at least two movies and many books about it. In light of local murderers like our very own Bike Path Strangler, their crime might not seem like so much today; but in 1924, it was as though the doors of hell had opened and earned a defense from no one less than the legendary Clarence Darrow.
Dolginoff does not spin off into the court proceedings, wisely keeping us mesmerized with the two characters and their tangled minds.
Director: Phoenix stalwart, Robert Waterhouse, assisted by Dechen Dolkar. Wonderful job.
Very simple but atmospheric set by David Butler. How wise of him to keep the set to a minimum. But we all know he is a genius.
The great Michael Hake on keyboard provided the accompaniment. Sound, Tom Makar. Lighting and stage managing, Kurt Schneiderman, backed up by Aubrey Zich; Art and Graphics by Mike Klemm.
So, should you see this show? ABSOLUTELY! It is a wonderful production. You'll be sorry if you miss it.
But visit the comfort station before the show because it is without intermission.
Posted by Uncle Joey at 9/09/2007 12:43:00 PM