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I dig jazz and single-malt scotch.  I write plays; I direct them too. I love STAR WARS more than is healthy. I walk my dogs every day, unless it's raining or terribly cold.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The puppets from Seussical

this is Tyler Menard singing and operating one of the puppets he created for Seussical the Musical @ The Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich -- the show runs until February 12th -- so there's still time to see Tyler in action. www.spiritofbroadway.org

Here's more of the hand puppets -- they are part of the Who community -- on the small planet of Who that has been found floating on a dust speck by Horton the Elephant.

Tyler, the guy in the first photo, designed and constructed the puppets. he is studying puppetry at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and has been performing with the SoBT for many years -- I remember him as a duckling a few years back in a production of HONK! Now he's a puppet-master. Kudos, Tyler!

I heard from Tyler today, and sent him copies of the pix with the puppets...so I thought I'd post them here to share with lots o' folks.

Seussical the Musical January 5 thru February 12, 2006
Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Music by Stephen Flaherty
Co-Conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty & Eric Idle
Based on the works of Dr. Seuss
Co-Directed by Brett A. Bernardini & Lisa Foss
at The Spirit of Broadway Theater 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich
on the web at www.spiritofbroadway.org

Wendy Wasserstein, Chronicler of Women's Identity Crises, Dies

From the NYTimes---

Wendy Wasserstein, who spoke for a generation of smart, driven but sometimes unsatisfied women in a series of popular plays that included the long-running Pulitzer Prize winner "The Heidi Chronicles," died today after a bout with lymphoma, Lincoln Center Theater announced. She was 55.
From me---

I had listened to Wendy Wasserstein speak a few times at various playwright events. The story that really stuck was from her early career. She said that while studying playwriting @ Yale, she had a vision of seeing a curtain call that was a line of women. She had never seen a large cast show that was exclusively female, and she felt that should be seen in a theater. From that vision of the curtain call, she worked backwards and came up with Uncommon Women and Others.

I love that story.

When i worked at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford (I was there for seven years all together), I would pass a poster of Uncommon Women that hung on the wall near the kitchen. It was signed by the first cast and held a place on the wall where everyone passed while waiting to pick-up some lunch. That play had been selected by Lloyd Richards to be developed as part of the National Playwrights Conference way-back-when-in-the-day.

It was important for me to have that poster at my shoulder every day, alongside the other reminders of the playwrights who had passed through that hallway, that diningroom, that place.

It was good for the American Theater that a young Wendy Wassertsein had a place to go with a rough-around-the-edges play and have a place to grow as an artist invested in the theater. I'm glad she continued to write plays.

It's unfortunate that she was taken from us so early in life. I hope her young daughter will grow to understand her mother through the wonderful, rich plays that are her legacy.

God bless, Wendy Wasserstein.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Arts Caravan

I'm getting ready to launch the ARTS CARAVAN. It's a project I will run that will connect people living around the New London area with other folks attending shows and arts events around Connecticut and Rhode Island. This way people can connect before or after a show, have someone to share the experience with out side of their regular sphere. Kinda like why fitness programs tell you to hook up with a work-out partner. This is getting connected to an "Art-Out" bunch of folks. That could be a cool thing.

I've created an MSN Group that will be the on-line hub for information and conversation threads. I have a little more work to do on the look and organization of the site, but it should be ready to go in about a week -- maybe sooner.

I'd also like to put together a once-a-month meeting of people who want to talk about the arts. We'd have a topic and agenda of other items. We could even discuss new plays or theater or art books that we select to read -- like a reader's theater sort of deal. I'm sure I could find a space around town (for free) to host the meetings.

This is along my Artist as Ambassador philosophy. It's the responsibility of artsts to be a conduit between themselves and the art -- an ambassador -- able to speak both languages -- and be willing to invite folks from the outside into their world and help them understand what it's about.

More on this later...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Current Reading -- Brockett/Findley

This was on Paula's reading list for us playwrights at the ACA -- and it turns out I had a copy that was given to me by David Jaffe at the O'Neill -- so I'm-a-reading it.

Actually, even though it's a text book, and I do find myself needing a nap after an hour or so -- it is fascinating stuff.

But --

-- before I realized that this book that Paula said to read was the SAME book as the one given to me by DBJ -- I looked it up at Amazon (and e-bay). My GOD! The price of textbooks is INSANE! Completely out of sinc with reality. WHAT A FRICKIN' RACKET the TEXTBOOK industry in AMERICA is! Sheesh.

I'm reading a used copy (spent about an hour erasing underlines passages yesterday -- pencil -- and today my dog made off with my eraser). Sheesh.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mobster Lobster

This is such a cool idea for a fundraiser. Yea-ra-ra Actors Theatre of Louisville! It's sure not to be your typical gala, that's fer sure...

go to: www.actorstheatre.org/lobster.htm for the whole story.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Seussical the Musical -- think a big THINK!

Horton (George Lombardo) hears a Who

The cast of Seussical the Musical singing the opening number "Oh the Thinks You Can Think!"

Like a fizzy, mixed tonic after a long day, Seussical the Musical at The Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich really hit the spot last Saturday night. This fast-paced, plucky little show was a delight, and the small, black-box performance area enhanced its effect, making us (the audience) part of its fun in a way that would not have been possible in a larger space.

The play opens with a light bulb, the bare kind, called a “ghost light”, used to ensure that the last person leaving and the first person arriving a theater won’t fall into the pit. A boy enters, played by Norwich resident Julian Miyata (making his SOBT debut). In the light cast by the lamp he notices a hat, a large peculiar hat, and he begins to imagine what sort of being might wear such a striped hat? He decides that a cat, a large cat, would wear a hat such as that…and so he conjures the Cat in the Hat, played by stage veteran Maureen Pollard.

And so the world of Seussical is let loose through the imagination of this boy, with some meddling by the Cat in the Hat of course, and an ensemble of players totaling seventeen in all, an astounding number when you consider that they all dance while singing on the very small stage.

The story touches on many Seussian favorites who make cameos, like Yurtle the Turtle, the creatures from McElligot’s Pool, and even the Grinch, but the primary story revolves around the travails of Horton the Elephant, played with sincerity to spare by George Lombardo. Through Horton hearing the Whos who inhabit the smallest planet (so small it floats on a dust-speck), we are transported to Whoville, where the boy who thought the whole place up in the first place becomes JoJo, the mayor’s troublesome son. Why troublesome? Because all of his magical “thinks” turn into true beings that tend to cause a ruckus.

In the larger world the dust-speck carrying the Who’s is in peril, and Horton becomes sidetracked when he agrees to hatch an egg for the free-wheeling Mayzie, played with show-stopping gusto by Stacey Michaud.

The Who’s in this production are a mix of actors and puppets, a delightful contrivance that immediately doubles the population of Whoville for our enjoyment. Simple, colorful costuming and some straight-forward hand-held props make this production a feast for our imagination as much as a dazzle for the eye and a whir for the ear. This hometown, black-box production, a space that does not allow for razzle-dazzle production values, does allow the audience to bring their mind-eye into the room, and that is this production’s strength.

Did I mention the voices? Of course the Whos do make their famous call “We are here, we are here, we are here!” , and the monkeys shout “Bowl that dust-speck!” and even “I do not like green eggs and ham…!” works its way in, but I mean the sound of the ensemble working with the strong musical score.

Remember America Rock and Grammar Rock, singing things like, “A noun is a person place or thing, deedadeedadee…!” and, “Elbow room, elbow room, got to got to get us some elbow room…”? Those were the lyrics of Lynn Ahrens, who along with Stephen Flaherty has created a lively book and score for Seassical.

Of course, the best music in the world means nothing if you don’t have the performers to sing it. This production has those performers.

With a great sounding cast, dynamic staging, and a fun book and score, Seussiacl the Musical at the Spirit of Broadway is a great reason to bring the whole family out to enjoy an evening of theater.

Seuesical the Musical January 5 thru February 12, 2006
Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Music by Stephen Flaherty
Co-Conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty & Eric Idle
Based on the works of Dr. Seuss
Co-Directed by Brett A. Bernardini & Lisa Foss
at The Spirit of Broadway Theater 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich
on the web at www.spiritofbroadway.org

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Going to Seusical Gala tonight

Last week I attended a rehearsal for Seusical the Musical at Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich and took some pictures for the archives and marketing. In return, Brett Bernardini, the Artistic Director of the place offered me a pair of tickets for tonights gala.

The reherasal i saw was a lot of fun. I could only stay thru Act I, but I really enjoyed the enesemble nature of the production and thought the sound of the group was great.

I'm looking forward to seeing the whole show together. It should be a fun night out (as long as the heavy rain and thunder holds off a few more hours.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Reading in the New Year

Sooooooooooooooooooooo. Bunches of books and plays were given to me for Christmas. Yea! Now. Time to hunker down and read some of them.

This is one of the books that i received. I'll be starting here. Away from the computer...and into a book of plays.