Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Time To Get Ill

I woke up Monday night/Tuesday morning feeling extremely sick. I ran to the bathroom and...I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say, I spent yesterday in bed. I don't think it was the flu; I believe it had something to do with the hot dog I had for dinner Monday night. Whatever it was, it knocked me on my ass. At least I feel better today.

Gas is $3.19 a gallon here, and I've read that it might go as high as $4. Which is ridiculous. At $3.19, it would cost me nearly $40 to fill my tank. I'm about to the point where I'm going to have to make some serious budget cutbacks, at least until A Harvest of Hits closes. Eating out will be the first thing to go. I don't do it very often - twice a week, three times tops - but that'll save me at least $25. And I'd rather give up eating a hamburger than buying a CD. CDs don't give you food poisoning. Unless they're served at room temperature.

To all of you who are coming to Plaza Suite next Friday or Saturday: We are quickly running out of tickets for both night's performances. If you are coming, let me know ASAP and I'll make sure you have seats before we sell out. If everyone who bought a ticket comes to the show, we'll have at least 200 people there each night. That's about 150 more than we expected. And I've said it before, so I'll say it again: It's going to be a good show, it's only $8, support us! Come on, man, everyone loves Neil Simon!

I bet everyone who reads this will be glad when both Plaza Suite and A Harvest of Hits close so they can stop reading about them. Sorry about that. Warning: I'll be doing many more shows in the future, starting with The Lebanon Follies in a few weeks. I guess what I'm trying to say is, "Get used to it."

Oh, and I probably should have visited New Orleans a few years ago when I was thinking about it, huh? Whoops.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Good and the Bad

I feel like I'm experiencing the highs and lows of theatre right now.

On the positive side, there's Plaza Suite. I've had an absolute blast working with this group of people, and it's amazing the progress we've made on the show since rehearsals began in June. Seriously, some of the actors have come light years with their characters. I have no idea how the show will look to an audience who has never seen it before, but I'm very proud of what we've accomplished, and I would jump at the chance to work with this group again. Everyone better come see it. Besides, it's a bargain at $8.

On the other side of the coin, there's A Harvest of Hits. Now, I think the show itself is a lot of fun. Put the decent actors in the show, and it works like a charm. (Thankfully my family saw it on a good night.) Put the wrong combination of actors onstage and it's a disaster. Unfortunately, the wrong actors are the ones doing the show for the majority of the run. And these people are really horrible to work with. One still doesn't know his lyrics and dosen't understand the feel of the show, yet claims he's the best actor ever to grace our stage. The other takes an "I Can't Do That" attitude to everything and refuses to learn and grow. Consequently, some of our shows have been disastrous, culminating in our first-ever walkouts last weekend. Not only that, but I've had a lot of issues with management - no one calling me when a show has been cancelled, our food being served to us at room tempertature, new costumes thrown at us two minutes before we go onstage, the owner of the theatre yelling at the cast minutes after a show ended even though audience members are within hearing range, the same owner coming backstage during performances and passive-aggressively telling us to pick up the energy level, etc. - and you can see why I am beginning to dread going to Hillsboro. Two weeks ago we had a rehearsal that was downright disastrous and ended with me wondering if it was even worth continuing to work there. I will stick it out, but I don't think I'm going to do another show there again. And that's too bad, because it's a cute venue and the audiences - when they haven't left mid-performance - have liked us. But I'm at the end of my rope. And I have two more months to go...

I don't want to disuade anyone from seeing A Harvest of Hits, because I think it's a fun show. Not only that, but it gives me a chance to show off my comedic and singing talents. Just let me know in advance when you're thinking about coming, so I can let you know if it's a good time or not.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Plaza Suite Foxtrot

Anyone want to see Wilco? Information:

WILCO
Murat Theatre
Thursday, October 13, 2005
$32.50

It's a benefit concert for Riley Hospital, so not only will you get to see a great band but you'll also be helping a great cause! You can't beat that! E-mail me or post in the comments if you want to go.

I'm missing a lot of concerts in the next few months thanks to my shows. The White Stripes will be in town on September 9th, a Plaza Suite showdate. On October 14, Ben Folds will be at Clowes, which conflicts with A Harvest of Hits. And, of course, one of my favorites, Elvis Costello, will be at Clowes on October 15, another Harvest of Hits showdate. Hopefully we won't sell any tickets that weekend and both shows will be cancelled, freeing me up to see the concerts. I'm out of luck on the White Stripes, though. Too bad, because their new album is excellent and I'd love to see them live.

However, Son Volt! The Vogue! Friday, October 28! $20! Again, e-mail or comment if interested.

Maybe it's a good thing I'm doing all these shows. At least I'm saving money on concerts. But Elvis Costello, man! Damn, that smarts!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Pure Imagination

So I was working on this post about yardwork - what can I say, it's a slow news day - when I went to lunch. When I came back my post was gone, replaced by an error message. Some kind of Internet Explorer lunacy occured during my trip to the bank. I don't want to type all that again, so you'll have to wait for another slow news day until I go into detail about mowing the grass. Yeah, I know, it'll be hard to wait.

I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this weekend. Feel free to skip it. Or, better yet, watch the original 1971 film. Obviously both are very similar, but the earlier one has more fun with the story. The kids are actual kids in that film, not over-the-top caricatures. Also, the music is better. (Yes, there is music in the new film, but it's not very memorable. Sorry, Danny Elfman, you let me down.) And Johnny Depp tries, but he's no Gene Wilder. The movie doesn't totally suck; the production design is easily better than the first - this time the chocolate river actually looks like chocolate as opposed to water dyed brown - and some of the actors nail their roles. I especially liked the guy who played Mike Teevee's dad, who came up with the perfect middle-aged loser. But there was too much CGI and all that stuff about Willy Wonka's dad just felt out of place. Warning: If you see the movie, don't do so on an empty stomach. Because all that chocolate will make you hungry. Trust me.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Cell Imprisonment

As many of you know, I did not buy a cell phone until recently. I'm not the kind of person who enjoys talking on the phone while driving, nor do I like the idea of being tracked down at all times. But I jumped on the bandwagon when my Mom said I could piggyback onto her family plan and get a phone for cheap. And I have to admit, since I bought one I've really enjoyed having it. It's come in handy many times, although I've had to teach myself to always take it with me when leaving the house. (Or else there'll be a meeting place mix-up, right, Jenn?)

This morning I was reminded why I can't stand cell phones. Strike that. This morning I was reminded why I can't stand people who use cell phones for no apparent reason. I had to get my oil changed before work (or else my car was going to grind to a very expensive halt) and, while waiting for the job to be completed, found myself crammed into a tiny room with two other people, a businessman and an older woman. The businessman's phone rang first and he answered it using one of those fancy headset things that makes everyone look like they work at a mobile call center. Anyway, he was spouting off to someone about the 1020s and the 740s and the legal ramifications of each and why they were important and don't screw it up and blah blah blah. Neither myself nor the old woman cared, yet there he was, shouting his business into a tiny microphone. Midway through the conversation the Valvoline guys told him his car was ready, and he continued his conversation while paying. Rude bastard. After he left, Old Lady realized that now she could talk on her phone, so she called...someone. I don't know if it was her husband or her child or her friend, but this is what she had to say to the person on the other end of the line:

"I just wanted to call and let you know that I forgot to feed the dog last night. Yes, I did! Yes! He ate this morning. I just forgot! Isn't that funny? Poor dog! Well, I'll let you go! Yes, he's fine. He's full now. Hah hah hah! I left him outside. I'm at the Valvoline place. Yes, in the waiting room. Yes. Yes. Goodbye!"

Now, I don't know about you, but if I received a phone call like that at 8:15 in the morning I'd be pretty pissed. Who freaking cares if the dog didn't eat until this morning? The only person she should be talking to about this is her dog, and the only thing she should be saying is, "Sorry I forgot your dinner, Fluffy." And I seriously doubt she was speaking with her dog on the other end of the phone. Unless she was insane.

I tried my best not to pay attention to either of these conversations, but it was kind of hard not to when each person was yelling. I would have joined the party and called someone, too, but my phone was in my car and, besides, who in the hell was I going to talk to at 8:15? I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bart the Bear Can Kiss My Ass

Plaza Suite rehearsal last night. It's really coming together and should be a good show. If you're going to come see it, please let me know ASAP. The show needs some cash, which means any and all advance ticket sales are welcome. ($8 to see me as a bellhop? That's a can't miss deal!) Please e-mail me or post in the comments and we'll figure something out.

Last night I had a dream that I was joining the cast of Six Feet Under. A party was held in my honor at Actor-Who-Plays-David's house, and we were hanging out, drinking beer and getting to know each other. All was going well until everyone began asking Actor-Who-Plays-David where his pet was. "In the other room," Actor-Who-Plays-David said. "Marcus, do you want to meet him?" Thinking he was about to bring out a dog or a cat, I said sure, why not. Imagine my surprise when he revealed his pet grizzly bear. Imagine my further surprise when his pet took a prompt disliking to me and began doing that grizzly bear thing where he raised up on his hind legs, lunging at me while growling and clawing at the air. All the other actors in attendence - Peter Krauss, Rachel Griffiths, Lauren Ambrose, etc. - were yelling at me to be calm, that the bear would only attack if it sensed a lot of fear. All the screaming did not calm the bear's nerves, and he became even angrier than he already was. I began running from room to room - not a smart idea, I admit - and the bear followed chase. Thankfully Actor-Who-Plays-David had a leash on his pet and was pulling on it, slowing him down just enough that he couldn't get to me. Of course I was terrified, but was relieved that everyone was so nice. "It will be nice to work with this cast," I thought, "if I survive the mauling of Actor-Who-Plays-David's pet grizzly bear."

That is the last time I read Entertainment Weekly before I go to bed. The only reason I can give for this dream is that two mentions in the magazine - a blurb about the final episode of Six Feet Under and another about a recently released grizzly bear documentary - combined in my mind for one of the strangest dreams ever. Either that or I have a lot of issues.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Wasted Time

The weekend:

Friday
I busted my ass to get to Hillsboro for the 7:00 call time, driving 85-90 miles an hour down I-74. Dangerous stuff, but they dock your pay if you're late. (I was late because they inexplicably closed the road I normally take, stranding me out in the middle of nowhere with no clue how to get back to the Interstate.) When I turned onto the theatre's street I discovered no one there. It was empty. Deserted. A ghost town. I went to the stage door. Locked. I went to the front door. Locked. I went to the soda shop next door. "Nah, there ain't no show tonight." I called Katie and Ellie, both of whom knew nothing about the show being cancelled. The owner of the theatre was gone. I had no other choice but to turn around and go home.

There's nothing like a pointless round-trip drive to Hillsboro to begin your weekend on a good note.

When I finally made it home, I ate dinner - Tuna Helper! - and watched I Heart Huckabees. Great movie, but be warned: You'll either love it or hate it.


Saturday
Another trip to Hillsboro, this time with an actual show to perform.

The show went well. My entire family was there to celebrate my Grandmother's birthday. The cast had a lot of fun and the crowd seemed to get a kick out of it, but I wasn't pleased with my vocal performance. I had trouble hitting the low notes for some reason. Comedically, though, I was on fire.


Sunday
Lunch at Papa's with a friend from high school. I had heard they served Greek food, but they only had one Greek thing on the menu. Which, of course, I ordered. Gyros are awesome.

That afternoon I took a nap. About an hour after I began sleeping, the phone rang. I couldn't understand the person on the other end when she introduced herself; I thought she said her name was Jenn. So at first I thought it was Superstar Jenn, although it sounded nothing like her. Oddly enough, this person wanted to know where Greek restaurants were in Fishers. After my disappointment with Papa's earlier in the day, I told her there were none and that she'd have better luck going to Broad Ripple. The response to that was, "Broad Ripple. No. Broad Ripple? Nooooo!" At this point, I thought Jenn was either a) having a psychotic meltdown, or b) under the influence of something mind-altering. The more I talked to this person, I realized it wasn't Superstar Jenn, but someone else. Who? I don't know any other Jenns. I used to have a physical trainer named Jen, but she moved to Chicago, and if she called me out of the blue I hope she would have more on her mind than where she could eat some Greek food in Fishers. Near the end of the conversation Mystery Jenn told me that "Justin's in the car, too, but he can't talk." Justin? Jenn? Who the hell are these people? I kept waiting for a clue that would indicate who they were, but it never came. Then she asked me how my show went the night before. Ah-ha! Someone who knows I'm performing! They want to come see the show. I said that would be great, not knowing who I just invited to Hillsboro. At this point I began wondering if I was in fact asleep and dreaming, but I never went back to sleep, so that's not possbile. (Unless everything since then - including this blog entry - is part of a really long dream.) I chatted with Jenn about Justin, who wants to get together soon for dinner and will call me. Mystery Jenn and I chatted for about three more minutes before we hung up. That is when I dialed *69.

"Justin" was actually "Dustin" and "Jenn" was actually "Kim". Dustin is another old friend from high school and Kim is his wife. It all makes sense to me now. Maybe I shouldn't answer the phone when I'm sleeping.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Catch a Falling Star

Let me first say that I've been pretty incommunicado for the past few weeks, so if I owe you an e-mail or a phone call, I apologize. My free time has been stretched pretty thin between rehearsals and work.

The shows are going well. A Harvest of Hits opened a few weeks ago and there's still a lot of backstage drama going on. One person in the cast - not me - feels he is better than everyone else and tries to show it by forgetting his lines, lyrics and props. This guy has somehow accumulated 50+ shows on his resume without learning a thing. He didn't even know what the parts of the stage were called. (Upstage, downstage, etc.) Warning: He'll be directing a show in Crawfordsville next season. My favorite line from last weekend, uttered by another cast member, after he had gone home:

"Well, I know what show I won't be trying out for. It starts with an "O" and ends with "-klahoma."

I played the secondary role last weekend with him in the lead and he managed to suck the life out of the show. It was like I was in the cockpit of a crashing airplane; I kept trying to pull us up, but I knew we were all going to die. The 30 people in the audience were not terribly happy with us during the meet-and-greet afterward. They were barely out the door before the owner of the theatre began yelling at us. Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

There's been a lot of schedule shuffling going on, and, as it turns out, I shouldn't have to perform with him again. Meaning that when you come see it, you'll see me in the lead. An e-mail will be sent out shortly with more details about the show. I know I said I would do that weeks ago, but I mean it now. (I meant it then, too, but it never happened.)

Plaza Suite, meanwhile, is a blast. I was wrong about ticket prices on that one - it's a mere $8. That's a bargain when you consider you'll see a great show and have the opportunity to see me in a bellhop uniform. Again, an e-mail about it will be sent out shortly.

In other news, I have to wonder just what in the hell is going on with the brains of popular cartoonists. Over at For Better or For Worse, Liz is currently under attack by a creepy co-worker/stalker. At Funky Winkerbean, one of the characters stepped on a land mine and is about to be blown to smithereens. I don't know about you, but those are two topics that always make me laugh, especially over my morning cereal. I guess if I wanted predictability, I could always read Garfield. See, he loves lasagna! And he's overweight! Oh, the hilarity!

I had to weed the songs on my iPod. I pushed it up to 5400 songs and had no room to add any more. Since I finished using the iTunes gift card my Mom bought me for my birthday - thanks, Mom! - I had to make some space. I went crazy, deleting about 500 songs. I've gotten in the habit of dumping entire discs that I check out from work into the 'pod so I can keep them forever. And while this is an interesting idea in theory, it doesn't really work when you're at the gym and it randomly selects an operatic track sung entirely in Italian from The Light in the Piazza. So I trimmed a lot of those down, as well as got rid of a lot of songs that should never have made the cut in the first place. (Can anyone explain why in the hell I had "You Crack Me Up" by Huey Lewis and the News on there? Yeah, didn't think so.)

Oh, and one last thing, but this is mainly for my sister: One of the songs I bought off iTunes? "Miss Amanda Jones" by the Rolling Stones.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Hiatus

The blog is not dead. I just haven't had the time to write anything lately. Never fear, we will return to our regularly scheduled writings tomorrow. Promise.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Plaza Suite Information

I had a Plaza Suite rehearsal tonight and was given more definitive information on when we will be performing the show. Our dates are:

Friday, September 9
Saturday, September 10
Sunday, September 11

I don't have exact showtimes yet, but I do know the Friday and Saturday shows are in the evening and the Sunday show is in the afternoon. Also, I was an idiot and left without getting the ticket price, but I know it isn't more than $15. I will send everyone a mass e-mail sometime later this week or early next week with more specific information on both this show and A Harvest of Hits.

Oh, and for you former Jesus Christ Superstar cast members, we're using the same platforms. They're extending the stage and are partially set up. When I got there this evening, I noticed some of them had this funky red stuff splattered all over them.

"What is that?" I asked the director.

"I don't know. We borrowed them from the Milk Building in Lebanon. My guess is it's something from the last show they were used in."

If you read back a few months, you'll remember that Gettysburg and I loaded black platforms back into the Milk Building the day after Superstar closed. These have got to be the same ones, I'm sure of it. Because you know what that red gunk has to be? Jesus blood.

Just for old time's sake I got on the platform and began to sing "Trial Before Pilate." And then, also for old time's sake, I forgot the words.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Vacation Lessons

Things I Learned While On Vacation Last Week:
  • When I'm not at work, the blog doesn't get updated. That should not be the case, yet it is.
  • Duran Duran's audience is primarily made up of squealing 35 year-old women. I happened to see them last week for free thanks to a friend of mine who had a spare ticket. I like their hit songs from the 80's, so I figured I may as well go. However, my ears were hurting for days afterward thanks to all the high-pitched screams emanating from the crowd. The band's "Let's Turn It Up To 11" attitude towards sound design didn't help things, either. Andie counts Duran Duran as her favorite group, but they've always been a singles band for me. And even some of those songs - "Wild Boys", anyone? - have aged terribly. Still, they had a lot of fun and being part of all that excitement was memorable.
  • Mowing the yard in 105 degree heat is not the best way to approach yard work. I had no choice. It was either that or face my angry neighbors, all of whom I'm sure were about ready to kill me. But the weeds are (mostly) gone, the grass is (mostly) short and the garden is (mostly) under control. I've spared my life for another week or so.
  • Trying to sing "Hot Diggity" while making my way through a crowd does not work. Who in the hell wrote that song? Do they not believe in allowing singers to breathe?
  • And singing "Round and Round" is like taking a trip through key change hell. The composers of that lovely tune should be shot. Or forced to mow my yard in 105 degree heat, which is pretty much the same thing.
  • Staying Alive is a bad, bad movie. Of course, this is precisely why Andie and I watched it. Because any movie directed by Sylvester Stallone and featuring a stage musical called "Satan's Alley" just has to fall into that so-bad-it's-good category. And it did.
  • Six Feet Under is one of my favorite television series of all-time. I spent a lot of time last week watching the third season, which was just as great as the first two. And last night at my parent's house, I caught the end of a new episode and saw a pretty big spoiler. Which leads me to the next lesson learned on vacation:
  • Never watch a later episode of a series you love if you don't want to know what's going to happen.
  • Hearing an actor you admire lauging in the audience at something you're doing onstage is a tremendously rewarding experience.
  • Hearing dead silence coming from the audience when you're doing something you think is funny onstage is not a rewarding experience.
  • Watching a fellow cast member as they break character and laugh, mess up their lyrics and screw up their dance steps is not cool. Especially when they're getting paid for it.
  • Plaza Suite is currently being treated like a red-headed stepchild. Lines for it will be learned tonight.
  • Beginning to watch highlights from Live Aid at 1:00 in the morning leads to three hours of musical nostaliga.
  • Did you know that the sun comes up not too much longer after 4:00 in the morning?
  • Being called to work because of dead catalog computers five hours after watching the sun rise does not make me happy. Not feeling well because of lack of sleep does not help my troubleshooting skills. But at least I was able to get everything fixed.
  • When you're not at work, you don't tend to check e-mail as often nor do you remember what day of the week it is. Which means you might totally miss your deadline for, say, an article you're supposed to write for the Lebanon paper. Sorry about that, Gettysburg.
  • And, finally, being in Indiana on vacation while other friends are on vacation in Hawaii at the same time can make you jealous.
And now back to our regularly scheduled blog.