Friday, July 22, 2005

(Not) Singin' In The Rain Part II

Last night I was nearly killed by torrential rain and lightning yet again. Only this time I was outside for the majority of it.

See, it seemed like a good idea a few months ago to buy tickets to the Black Crowes/Tom Petty show at Deer Creek. Two great bands for $33 was a no brainer. But then I began rehearsing A Harvest of Hits and realized that the concert conflicted with our final dress rehearsal. Already having purchased the tickets, I couldn't back out, so Ellie allowed me to miss rehearsal. I felt terrible but I'm not going on this weekend and my final dress will be our brush-up rehearsal next week. Still, I should have been there to support everyone else.

My friend Jeff and I were late to the concert because of traffic and a extremely long line to get into the venue. At least we were able to hear the songs the Crowes were playing, one of which was a cover ("Don't Do It") and the other of which was a great song from their second album ("Black Moon Creeping"). When we finally did sit down the Crowes decided to suck. Seriously, they were terrible. I'm not a fan of jam bands - jamming is fun to do when you're playing an instrument but it's boring as hell to listen to - and the Crowes decided to turn each song into a long extended jam. "Thorn In My Pride" was about 25 minutes long. They also managed to perform every mellow song in their catalog, some worthwhile ("Good Friday") and some horrid ("Soul Singing"). The only song that I truly enjoyed was "Twice As Hard", but even that had a languid pace to it.

All through their set it sporadically rained. Nothing major, but enough to get everyone in the lawn wet. Because of the rain, the temperature cooled down. And when Petty started, there was a nice breeze and some lightning way off in the distance.

As the show continued, though, the lightning got closer and closer and closer. Petty ran through all his great songs, chatted with the crowd and had a great time. This was my third time seeing him and it was easily my favorite - and most memorable - concert of his.

About 10:00 lightning began striking about two miles from the venue. This is when it started to become frightening. At 10:15 we decided to leave if it got closer. We didn't have to wait long. About ten minutes later a bolt of lightning struck very near the venue and we grabbed the blanket and ran.

On the way back to the car, Petty started an acoustic version of "Learning To Fly". Midway through the song, right as we were leaving, another bolt struck, this time knocking out the power to the entire venue. Total darkness. Power came back on immediately and Petty finished the song. As we were walking the mile to my car, the band began "Don't Come Around Here No More". Then the torrential rain started. We began to run, but I was wearing sandals and couldn't really find my footing. Plus I didn't want to trip and break something. I'd look pretty funny onstage using crutches. Now, as it was raining, lightning was striking everywhere. The power went out in the venue again only to come back on pretty quickly. Jeff and I made it back to the car, drenched, our feet covered in mud. We weren't very pretty to look at. We were miraculously parked right next to the exit, so our wait time to get out of the parking lot was minimal. However, the rain picked up, the lightning continued, and the storm raged. It was chaos.

According to the fan reviews I've read on the Internet today, the concert didn't go on much longer. Petty and band started one more song - "Refugee" - when the power went out yet again, this time for about thirty seconds. When it came back on, a lot of the equipment began to fail thanks to the wind blowing rain into the pavillion and onto the stage. The mics for the drums were gone, the lighting was all messed up and Petty had to finish the song alone. After that he called the concert, probably because he was terrified he was about to be electrocuted. Because of the storms, it took everyone a lot longer to get out of the venue. According to the message boards, some people waited upwards of three hours before they even put their car into drive. We made the right decision to leave early.

Hopefully tonight I will not find myself trapped in yet another life and death situation involving rain, lightning and wind. If I do, I'm going to wonder just what in the hell is going on. I must be going through a strange karma cycle.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

(Not) Singin' In The Rain

I nearly died last night.

Coming home from rehearsal I drove through the worst rain storm of my life. It was raining so hard that I couldn't see the road. Add into that the bolts of lightning striking all around me, the wind tossing my car all over the road, and the semi trucks, all of whom decided to keep driving 90, not caring if they nearly ran my Jetta off the road. It was terrifying.

I eventually pulled off the Interstate because I wanted to live. Ellie and Katie - who were about a mile behind me suffering through the storm as well - had already decided to do the same thing. And that is how I found myself at a truck stop late last night with good company, waiting out a storm while eating a piece of lemon meringue pie. I figured I earned the pie by nearly giving my life for the theatre.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

It's Time To Get Things Started

Damn, I could use some sleep. I got home at 12:30 last night and didn't get to bed until well after 1. Needless to say, I'm draggin'. And I get to do it again tonight!

I read on the Internet a few days ago that they're making both a sequel and a prequel to The Dark Crystal. Um, why? I don't think that film has the audience necessary to create two new chapters for it. It's 23 years old and is remembered mostly as a bizarre footnote to the Muppets legacy. I remember the film because it was the first time Jim Henson let me down. I've never been a huge sci-fi fan, and trying to care about weird looking characters as they trekked through the forest towards a big jewel just didn't do a thing for me. I guess from a truly technical aspect the film was excellent - all those puppets! - but in the end I just didn't care.

It saddens me, but I think the Muppets should be retired. The classic Muppet Show had five puppeteers, four of which are not involved with the Henson organization anymore. (Two are dead, one has retired, and one - Frank Oz, Jim Henson's creative partner - quit after a falling out with Henson's son over the direction of the company.) The only person left from the company's heyday is Dave Goelz, who performs Gonzo. I think the Henson Corporation or Disney or whoever owns those characters should make Gonzo the new Kermit - the "mascot", if you will - and create a show with him as the centerpiece, surrounded by all new characters. Gonzo's likeable, he'll pull in the classic Muppet fans who remember the character, and he's brilliantly performed by Goelz. And then the old characters could exist solely in our Muppet Show DVDs and movies. (The Muppet Movie? One of the coolest films ever made.) But instead they're going to milk the characters for all they're worth, and in the process cheapen our memories of them and tarnish Henson's legacy. Leave those characters alone! We don't want to see them in any more lame made-for-TV movies! Plus, the new voices sound weird! Stop the madness!

And, if you're wondering, I have the authority to comment. I was, at one point in my life, a member of The Muppet Show Fan Club. Of course, I was seven at the time, but it still counts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Confusion

There was some misunderstanding regarding the showdates I listed yesterday for A Harvest of Hits. The days in that post are the dates I will be in the show. We are doing many more performances, but I didn't give you those because a) it would have made the post too long and b) I'm not in them.

Last night's rehearsal was spent on costume fittings. Or, as I redubbed it, costume non-fittings. Everything I tried on was either too small or too large. I felt like I was trapped in some warped version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Nothing was just right.

Sorry I keep writing about the show. It's consuming a large portion of my life right now and is all I have going on. Seriously, in the past 24 hours I've spent nine hours at home, seven of which were spent sleeping. (And one of which was spent showering and getting ready for work this morning.) There's not much else to report, unless you want to hear about my lovely time reading the newspaper last night at midnight. You don't? Too bad, because it's some exciting stuff.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Show Information

Alright, as requested, here's more information about A Harvest of Hits:

Tickets are $29. I don't think that price is terrible, since you would easily pay that for dinner and a show in Indy. Of course, it'll take you over an hour to get to the theatre and about $6,000 in gas since they'll probably be gouging us for over $3 a gallon by that time, the bastards.

My performance schedule:

Saturday, July 30
Friday, August 5
Saturday, August 6
Friday, August 12
Saturday, August 13
Friday, August 19
Saturday, August 20
Friday, September 2
Saturday, September 3
Friday, September 30
Saturday, October 1
Friday, October 14
Saturday, October 15

If you can, I would prefer you wait until the September/October shows. I'll be subbing for the lead at that time, which means you'll get to hear me sing five songs instead of three. (Plus you'll get to see my impressions of The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, and George Burns.) Also, you might want to wait as long as possible because our rehearsal yesterday was pretty painful, not a good thing since we open Friday. By September we should be able to do the show in our sleep.

Curtain is at 8:00. I have no idea when the dinner portion of the show begins, but I would guess the doors open around 7:00. As for menu choices, the food I've eaten there so far has been comparable to MCL. In other words, good home cooking geared towards an older crowd. Lots of chicken dishes and casseroles. I've been told the average age of an audience member is about 70, which explains why they're aping MCL. It's good, but you vegetarians might be out of luck. It's a small town. They put meat in everything.

Also, there's a great chance that some of the shows listed above will be cancelled. From what I've gathered, the Saturday shows are pretty safe and the Friday shows are kind of shaky.

Want more information about the show? Here's the theatre's website. Also feel free to contact me with any other questions.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Little Brain Lapse

Let's see, what's happened since yesterday?

Well, I went to rehearsal last night. I was listening to a Beatles CD (Anthology 1, Disc 2, for those interested) in the car and when it finished I put in our rehearsal CD to teach myself "Little Brown Jug". Hopefully no one heard me singing "Ha ha ha, you and me, little brown jug, don't I love thee!" over and over again. If they did, they probably thought I was psycho. I must have listened to it about 20 times and had it down cold by the time I reached the theatre. So you know what happened as soon as I hit the stage. I went to sing it and POOF! The lyrics disappeared from my brain. Damn you Little Brown Jug!

I stopped by Kroger on my way home. Shopping for groceries at 11:00 p.m. rules. The only people in the store were me, 15 stock boys, 1 cashier and a scary looking woman buying a large bottle of vodka. It was great. No people clogging the aisles, no weird old ladies offering me free samples of ketchup, and no long lines at the checkout. If I wasn't normally sleeping on the couch at that time, I would do all my shopping at that time.

Speaking of that, I fell asleep last night listening to Pink Floyd on the iPod. The Floyd is currently the band of the moment thanks to their excellent performance at Live 8. My new favorite song of theirs is "Brain Damage/Eclipse". The guitar work is phenomenal in that song. That's one thing everyone forgets when they think of Pink Floyd: They were excellent musicians. All they remember are the lasers and the floating pigs and the marching hammers. But the music is incredible.

I always wanted to see if it was true that if you synched up the Dark Side of the Moon album to The Wizard of Oz that the lyrics commented on what was happening on screen. More than likely that's just a bizarre urban legend, but it still would be fun to try. I wonder what song is playing when the flying monkeys are on screen. Anyone ever try it?

Went to Fazoli's for lunch. Breadstick Lady only came around once, but, to be fair, we weren't there very long. Fazoli's breadsticks aren't what they used to be in my youth. It's like they cut back on the breadstick budget so they could introduce those crappy panini things. Bring back the good breadsticks, Fazoli's!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tradition

I still don't know when I'll be performing A Harvest of Hits, but I do know how much tickets will cost: $35. I did a double-take on that one, too. I know they feed everyone, but come on! It's dinner theatre! Small town home cookin' can't possibly cost that much! Unless the price of biscuits and gravy has skyrocketed because of the war.

Of course, it's a relative bargain when you consider the amount of talent that will be onstage...

I was told to research the Lone Ranger's speaking voice. Apparantly I have the "Heigh Ho Silver" part down, but the rest of it sounds wrong. This is what I get to do this weekend: Check out tapes from the library and learn how the Lone Ranger spoke when he was having a casual conversation. How, exactly, did he sound when ordering something from the Sears catalog? Or when he was talking shop with Zorro?

Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof is in the Tech Center right now. Seriously, the guy looks just like him. He's even dressed like him. (The fanny pack doesn't fit the character, unless they're staging it modern.) Here's what makes the whole Tevye-citing even cooler: He wanted to print something, but he couldn't because he didn't have enough money. I half expected him to break into "If I Were a Rich Man".

And someone in this room just passed gas. I don't know if it was Tevye, but someone sure as hell stinks.

Working in the Tech Center is not my favorite aspect of this job.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Random Old Lady

I had another movie waiting for me in my mailbox when I came to work this morning. This time it's Hidalgo. I really need to weed my hold list. I know what's going to happen: I'll check it out, take it home, sit it on a shelf, and then, one week from today, I'll return it, having never removed it from its case. What's weird is I don't even really have that strong of a desire to see Hidalgo. I put it on hold because it was free.

Rehearsal last night for the dinner theatre show was a surreal experience. The theatre is situated in a very small town and has that kind of atmosphere. For example, random people like to pop in, shout, "Howdy, y'all!", sit in the back and watch us rehearse. I have no idea who they are. And last night there was this dog running around that either belonged to the owners or was a stray that snuck in. Whatever his ownership situation, I kept having to remove half-chewed pieces of electrical tape from his mouth because I didn't want him to choke.

My favorite person I've met so far is Random Old Lady. I believe she cooks the actual dinner part of the dinner theatre, but I could be wrong about that. Anyway, Random Old Lady likes to come up to you and just start talking about...well, about nothing, really. For example, we were rehearsing a dance number for the ladies and I was sitting in the house. Random Old Lady came up to me and said, "I really liked Tommy Dorsey. And I could do the Lindy Hop, which is kinda like what you guys are calling 'The Jitterbug' but I can't do anything anymore 'cause my joints hurt. I have tapes of music from that era." And then she walked away. Good thing, because I wouldn't have known how to even respond to that. Later in the evening I learned she was part Irish, part English and part Indian (Cherokee). Oh, what I could do with that information!

As I was leaving, Random Old Lady came up to me and said, "You got a beautiful voice, but you got to sing louder! Sing louder! Sing!" Now, Random Old Lady probably has no idea that anyone (except the director) telling me this is a pet peeve of mine. Nor did she take into account the fact that one week ago I didn't even know half the songs I'm singing - and the half I did know I knew only by title - and am still in the learning process, concentrating more on rhythm and phrasing than projection. She's lucky I didn't kick her in the shin. "Let's see ya do the Lindy Hop now!!!"

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Weekend, In A Nutshell

Want to know what I did this weekend? Alright. Here you go:

FRIDAY - Nothing. I had to stay late at work and do the backup, which killed my interest in doing anything else. I wanted to mow the yard when I got home but decided against it for reasons that made sense at the time. I watched The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, which featured my favorite actress of all-time, Emily Watson. Alright, maybe she's not my favorite of all-time, but she's up there. Plus I think she's beautiful. If she and Diane Lane were in a movie together I'd be in heaven.

SATURDAY - Haircut at 11:00. After that I went to my parent's to celebrate my birthday. My mother thought I didn't want a cake because of my blog post a few days ago. (See, the blog can influence people! But obviously in negative ways.) We settled on a lemon meringue pie from the store. While I was there I watched VH1's make-good rebroadcast of Live 8, where the music was played in its entirity and without commercial interruption. In the (modified) words of Pink Floyd, "How I wish, how I wish I was there."

SUNDAY - Rehearsal in Hillsboro for A Harvest of Hits. I was 30 minutes late thanks to something on the Interstate. I don't know what caused my delay, but whatever it was, it snaked traffic back to I-465. There was no sign of a wreck and no road construction; I blame the Sunday drivers, just because I can. We accomplished a lot in rehearsal. I learned the lyrics to "Accentuate the Positive" in case anyone wants to quiz me on it. Oh, and in addition to playing the Lone Ranger in the show, I now also get to portray George Burns. Say goodnight, Gracie.

Friday, July 08, 2005

What's In The Box?

Another year, another birthday. Thank you all for the notes, cards, kind words, phone calls, lunches (Gettysburg) and beers (Jenn). You made it a great beginning for the next year of my life.

After getting yelled at because I didn't let her know when my birthday was, Jenn and I went out last night and celebrated. We closed two bars, the Nickel Plate and the Claddagh. Jenn gave my blog address to our waitress at the Claddagh, so if you're reading this, hello Claddagh waitress. Sorry I nearly broke the umbrella stand at our table.

In two years my birthday will be on 07/07/07. That'll be a great day for those who believe the number seven is lucky. It'll also be a great day to watch Seven. Although, really, what day isn't a great day to watch Seven?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

#33, Here I Come

Today is my 32nd birthday. I don't feel 32. I feel younger than that, say around 25. Which I guess is good, because I felt like I was 40 when I was 25. (Thank God for the gym.) There are times I forget I'm 32 and run around acting like the 25 year-old I think I am, but my lovely body always reminds me of my true age the next day. "See? You think you can stay out late and work the next day without any consequences? Prepare to feel tired for the next 72 hours! Oh, and for good measure, here's some gray hair!"

My coworkers bought me a cake. It's a nice little chocolate affair and I've been doing my best to avoid the damn thing. I have already had a piece, and, as expected, it was excellent. But now it's sitting on my desk, silently tormenting me. My entire area smells like chocolate cake. Do you know how freaking hard it is not to eat a piece? And everytime I turn my head, there it is, sitting there, saying "Hap Birt Mar." (We ate the rest of its message.) I can't move it, that would be rude. Looks like I'll be logging a lot of on-the-floor work time today.

I have absolutely no plans tonight, which is alright. Not too many people in my age bracket want to hang out on a Thursday night. (Although, if anyone is free, I'm game. I'll just be prepared to be tired for the next 72 hours.) I'm not the kind of person who gets all depressed about getting older. It has to happen, so I may as well embrace it. With a piece of cake, of course.

One other thing: I'm doing another show in tandem with Plaza Suite. This one is called A Harvest of Hits and will be performed in the middle of nowhere at a dinner theatre in Hillsboro, IN. I'm the theatrical equivalent of a pinch hitter, going on whenever one of the two male leads cannot. No, I do not have to drive to Hillsboro for every show; I will know in advance when they need me. The best part about it is it's a paid gig, which I guess makes me a "professional actor" now. The pay's not a lot, but enough for gas and maybe a DVD or two when all is said and done. I will be singing entire musical numbers, so if you've ever wanted to see me channel Perry Como and sing "Hot Diggity" or "Catch a Falling Star," well, here's your chance.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

It Was 20 Years Ago Today (In Eight Days)

I took an impromptu vacation the latter part of last week, which explains why the blog hasn't been updated for seven days. Hopefully no one deleted their bookmarks or cursed my name because it went dark for a bit. But I'm back, fully rested and ready to start churning out updates for you all.

Live 8 was this past weekend and I didn't watch a single moment of it as it was being broadcast. I don't have cable, and while I was tempted to travel to my parent's house and spend the entire day in front of the television, I elected instead to see War of the Worlds. (A choice I must dissuade you from making. The movie wasn't that great and it has one of the most improbable and stupid endings I've ever seen.) Even though the film wound up being total crap, I'm glad I didn't plan an entire day to watch the concert; from what I've read, the "coverage" on MTV and VH1 was an exercise in frustration, where more time was spent showing banal VJ's talking about the bands playing instead of actually showing the bands playing. Thank God for AOL. They have the entire concert posted on their site for free, allowing you to cherry-pick which bands you'd like to watch. I, for one, clicked immediately on Pink Floyd and saw a blistering version of "Comfortably Numb". Seeing four of the five original band members - Syd Barrett, unfortunately, is still too mentally unwell to participate - put aside their differences and play music again for a great cause nearly brought a tear to my eye.

And then I watched Paul McCartney and U2 perform "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", which, in true latter-day McCartney fashion, managed to be both cool and cheesy at the same time. Cool because I never thought I'd see Bono and Macca perform together and cheesy because during the horn break four costumed actors dressed as Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles appeared with instruments in hand, pretending to play. It was totally unneccesary, and seeing four boobs mime to the music with their french horns took my attention away from a lively performance of the song.

I don't think the concert eclipsed the original; that July 13, 1985 show is such an icon of the 80's that it would be hard to beat. But it sounds like the new British and U.S. shows fell into a similar pattern as their now 20 year-old counterparts. Just like before, Britain got all the timeless groups while Philidelphia concentrated more on flavor-of-the-month acts that will make the show seem incredibly dated twenty years from now. (If you need an example of what I'm talking about, watch the original Live Aid DVD set. The British show had awesome act after awesome act while the U.S. side featured Simple Minds, Patti LaBelle and a forced duet between Mick Jagger and Tina Turner. Even the supposed coups that Philly had back then went bust, like the Led Zeppelin reunion that was so bad that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant asked for it to be excluded from the DVD set.) The only act from the U.S. concert last Saturday that I have any desire to watch is Dave Matthews Band, and even that's a stretch. I like Dave, but not enough to suffer through low bandwidth to see him.

Damn, I wish I was in London and could have witnessed the show. You know I had the vacation time to do it. (But, unfortunately, not the passport nor the money.) Oh, well. Maybe in 20 years I can fly over for Live Aid 3.