Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Archive for the tag “theatre”

The Woman in Black — My Review


That’s really all that needs to be said.  I never finished the book.  I did see the play when I was in London.  A friend of mine sent me a copy of the radio show.  Now I’ve finally gotten around to seeing the movie and I loved it.

Daniel Radcliffe was very good.  He’s always had that haunted look in his eyes, even in his first production.  He played the lead as young David Copperfield in BBC One’s television movie.  I’ve seen him in that, My Boy Jack, The December Boys, and of course the Harry Potter series.  He’s also been on Broadway and in the West End.  I was worried they’d try to take this ghost/horror story and try to “jazz” it up by getting the young Radcliffe so a younger audience would attend.  And when I saw that it was rated PG-13, I really feared the producers would try to play to a much younger audience (okay, specifically, teenage girls with a crush on “The Chosen One”).

They didn’t.  The movie does not disappoint.  Even Husband jumped a few times during it.

If I have to rate the productions I’ve seen/experienced, I still have to give the play top honors.  In the play, there are only two men onstage and in the program’s notes.  They never say that there’s a female who also appears and you never know if/when she’ll show up.  The skin-crawling creepiness of the play was excellent.  I would have to place the movie and the radio play as a tie because with the radio play you still use your imagination and can be genuinely scared.  With the movie, you get the great visuals and an expanded cast that helps make it more dramatic.

So, there it is.  Didn’t see anything worth watching on television so I figured I’d see the movie on Blu-Ray.  Now I’m watching Waiting for Guffman.  Yeah….I have weird tastes.


End of the Junior High Era

Today was Youngest Son’s last day in junior high.  Next year he’ll be a freshman.  Lord help us all.

I’m incredibly proud of him and am very, very happy that he’s had some great experiences and made new friends since we moved to this town three years ago.  He’s been in three school theatre productions; he’s participated in All-District Honors Band (was first-chair trumpet, too); attended the State Band Contest; has made the honor roll; and has a gang of friends that he really enjoys hanging-out with and who enjoy having him with them.  As a kid who moved from school-to-school, I know it can be hard to fit-in when you’re the new kid on the block.  Youngest Son learned a lot more at a faster pace when he was homeschooled, but I agree with him that his past three years in public school have helped him grow in many different ways.

I’m especially proud of him as he has received the President’s Education Awards Program Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence.  To qualify for it, he had to have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more over his junior high career and test above the average and rank in the top of the State’s Assessment Program that’s given every year.  He received a very nice certificate and a lapel pin that he can put on his jacket when he goes to high school.  He pointed out the “autograph” of President Obama on the certificate and I told him that an auto-pen did that.  He said he was surprised they just didn’t Xerox it and is not impressed by it.  He was actually disappointed because he didn’t receive a plaque for best brass student in band and was awarded for his academics.  I reminded him that it will be his academics that helps him get into the college he wants and will follow him through life.  A plaque won by your “nemesis” whose parents can afford for him to take private lessons in order to be better than Youngest Son will only someday be an unwieldy paperweight that your children won’t even be able to get rid of in a yard sale.

I think he feels a lot better now.  And he enjoyed his last day there.  No, he didn’t participate with one group that wore the colorful Morph Suits that everyone was buying around Halloween and at least he wasn’t dared like one of his other friends to come dressed like a princess today.  He made sure he had phone/text numbers for his friends so they can get together over the summer before high school band camp starts in July.

Eldest Son texted me today that he’s learned how to weld in his sculpture class in college.  I told him I was proud and that the welding experience can also be used in other jobs as well.  He hopes to finish his classes soon so that he can graduate in the next semester or two.

One going into high school and one leaving college soon….where does the time go?

Can we stop with the Titanic stuff now?

Yes, yes, yes….I know it’s the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.  I would have known that without all of the televised fanfare and the re-release of James Cameron’s movie in 3D.  You know how I would have known that?  Because I read!  Because I studied in history class!  Because my life isn’t so shallow that I only believe things shown to me on Twitter or Facebook as so many people over the past week have shown in their posts that they didn’t know the movie “Titanic” (1997) was based on an actual historical event!

And I make sure to put the year 1997 behind the title of the movie because, yes, there is more than one movie named “Titanic.”  In 1943 the Third Reich attempted to make a propaganda film espousing the positive reasons to invade Britain by using the Titanic disaster as the backstory.  “Titanic” (1943) showed Bruce Ismay, owner of the White Star Line, as an evil capitalist and all of the British as greedy while a lone German crew member who seemed to know that something bad was going to happen tried to warn everyone but was ignored.  This German officer was later the hero of the movie — even though “Titanic” (1943) never played in Germany until the 1950s.  It was deemed too controversial because of the passengers in Second and Third Class areas trying to scramble for safety and being locked-out or denied passage was too reminiscent of the Holocaust.  With Germany beginning to lose the war, no one in the Third Reich wanted anyone to recognize similar goings-on happening in Germany and other occupied areas where concentration camps were in operation.  A lot of that type of footage was removed before the movie ever played in Germany.

But “Titanic” (1943) wasn’t completely lost to history.  There were many scenes of the ship and people running to the lifeboats that came from “Titanic” (1943) and were used in “A Night to Remember” (1958).  “A Night to Remember” was considered one of the most accurate depictions of the sinking of the Titanic because a lot of the information used to write the movie came from interviews with survivors in the book by the same name.  It was the most accurate at that time because it did not show the Titanic breaking apart because no one had ever confirmed it and there were different memories of what exactly happened that night.

Not until Robert Ballard discovered the RMS Titanic on the ocean floor in 1985 was it confirmed that the ship had broken apart before it sank.  After his discovery, more movies were made.  “Titanica” (1995), narrated by Leonard Nimoy, was shown in IMAX theatres.  “Titanic” (1996), a two-part miniseries, was made for television and got a lot of facts wrong but somehow still pulled out an Emmy win.

Finally in 1997 the world was “graced” (and I use that term sarcastically here) with James Cameron’s version which was fictional but based on historical fact and recent discovery.  Even now he has said that there are parts he got wrong but he’s not going back to fix them all because “when would you know where to stop?”  And Celine Dion’s song and chest-thumping visage on every awards show and commercial hawking “authentic Titanic reproductions” became embedded in everyone’s subconscious.  And I do apologize to all of my readers who are now tortured with it running through their heads at the moment — I feel your pain ’cause it’s stuck in mine, too.

By the way, those “authentic Titanic reproductions” were usually of the blue diamond necklace Rose (not a real person on the RMS Titanic) wore while in the nude being sketched by Jack (another non-real person on the RMS Titanic).  The necklace never existed.  Actually, there is historical reference to a blue sapphire necklace similar to the one depicted in the movie, but it would have only been an inspiration for the one in the movie.  And, sadly, I’ve been seeing more and more replicas of the necklace, the gemstone, etc. being advertised late at night in “honor” of the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

The latest incantation of the story is “Titanic” (2012) and is a four-part television drama based on the sinking.  As if we needed another re-telling of the story.

And movies weren’t the only things created about the RMS Titanic!  Even if you don’t count all of the books and memoirs written or related by survivors and their relatives, along with historical accounts and fictional dramatizations, there’s still tons of stuff out there!  In 1997 there was a Broadway musical about the sinking — and it WON five Tony Awards!!

So, now that you’ve had your history lesson for today, can we please stop all the hoopla?

Don’t get me wrong, though.  It was an important event in history.  Seafaring changed forever after the RMS Titanic sank and the International Ice Patrol was created from this disaster.  Also, there now has to be 24-hour monitoring of communications channels, something that had the Marconi operators on the Californian not gone to bed, they would have received the Titanic’s distress signal and been able to render assistance.  And there are many who spent the last moments of their lives doing their jobs in the belly of the ship in order to keep it level and keep the lights on in order to help others escape, even though they knew they would be no way out for them.

Yes, remember and honor the memories of those who perished, etc., etc., etc.  But now that the official time and date of the sinking 100 years ago has passed, can I please stop being bashed about the head with shows, movies, posts, and documentaries about it all?  Just for a little while??

Am-Dram: Junior Edition — It’s Over!!!

Tonight was the last performance by Youngest Son’s theatre group.  They did a really good job and no one forgot too many lines or had to ad-lib much.  Everything ran very well and I’m very proud of my little thespian.

I’m also incredibly proud of Youngest Son today because he had been selected months ago by his band instructor to attend the District Band Contest and perform a solo and in a sextet.  He’s been really nervous about it and today was contest day.  The scoring scale they use is from 1 to 10 with 1 being the best.  You can earn a 1+ if you’re really, really good.  Youngest Son received a 2+ on his trumpet solo, just barely missing the 1-level score.  He also received a 1 on his brass sextet’s performance.  The only criticism given by the judge to the sextet was for the baritone player to remember to not overplay the French horn.  They did an awesome job!

Then in the afternoon, the rest of the band arrived to join those who were there for solos and ensembles and the entire concert band played two songs.  The group received a 1 rating for their performance.  Pretty good for a group that has never been to a big contest like that before!

At the moment, Youngest Son and Husband are at the Cast Party for the play.  I would go but I don’t know the family well and am not sure how they’d feel about having Celeste at their house.  I have no problems going to public places because she’s a service dog, but I don’t like to just invite my shedding partner into someone’s private home and there wasn’t time to coordinate with them on whether or not they have pets, allergies, etc.

But that’s okay — I couldn’t wait to get home to make this post!  I’m so very, very proud of Youngest Son.  It’s been a really big day for him!

Am-Dram: Junior Edition — Ad-libbing Addiction

The second production of The Borrowers is over and the kids did very well tonight.  The crowd wasn’t as large and there were the rude ones who wanted to talk all through the performance, but the actors and crew did a great job of keeping everything going as smoothly as they could.

Youngest Son, however, did get a talking-to on the way home.  He did a really good job and is one of the few actors who doesn’t have a microphone but you can hear him throughout the theatre.  Sadly, he’s got too much of Husband and me in him.  We both get bored easily when things are too easy and we both have a very dark and dry sense of humor.  That being said, Youngest Son almost doesn’t stand a chance.  He has friends at school and hangs out with some as much as possible.  Most of them are in band and/or theatre as well.  But he is known for being annoying.  I even saw a post on his Facebook page that said she thought he was nice but that he’s too annoying and too much of a smart aleck in band class.  And some teachers report that he can be irritating in class when he gets bored.  I tell them to keep him busy and they won’t have a problem with it but they never listen to me.

One bad habit he’s picked up is ad-libbing when something isn’t working right.  He doesn’t go way off on a tangent that isn’t related to what’s going on, but he’s quick with a response or, especially onstage, ready to grab the spotlight until whatever is causing the problem can be remedied.  For example, in class one day his teacher was upset at the amount of noise the students were making.  She asked, “Why do I hear talking?” and Youngest Son, without missing a beat, said, “Because you have ears!”  (For the record, he didn’t get in trouble for that — just told to “shut up.”)  During the performance tonight, I could see the wheels of his mind turning when one character skipped a section in which Youngest Son was supposed to exit the stage.  He stayed out there trying to look like he belonged in the scene until he finally heard a pause long enough for him to yell, “Yes!  I’ll be running away, and with this wooden spoon I don’t know where it came from!” as he grabbed a prop another actor had dropped and made his way off the stage.

During a scene change, he and another actor were bringing out one of those wooden cable spools that they decorated to look like a spool of thread.  The other boy started arguing over which side went up when, a little to loudly, Youngest Son said, “It really doesn’t matter what side goes up!  No one can tell.  Now make yourself useful,” as he handed the boy a basket to put onstage.  I was embarrassed.  Husband was laughing himself silly.  The audience thought it was funny, too.  Great.  That’s all he needs — positive reinforcement from total strangers.

At least last night and tonight another actor made his entrance on-time.  Youngest Son told me that if he’d have had to wait a while he was trying to think of something to do to fill the quiet space and all he could think of was reciting Eddie Izzard’s “Bees and Wasps” bit from his stand-up act.  I told husband this and he, of course, laughed hysterically as he imagined our 13-year-old onstage reciting a monologue asking questions like, “Do earwigs make chutney?  Do spiders make gravy?”  And, yes, in a way I’m glad he was thinking of something to do — but this is a kid who once he gets started has a hard time stopping.  He loves the limelight and isn’t afraid of too much when trying to get it.

So, I can’t say that all of this comes as a surprise, but after the ad-lib last night and the continuation tonight, I’m almost afraid of what will happen tomorrow night on their last performance.

Almost….but I’m still going to watch.

Am-Dram: Junior Edition — Opening Night

Youngest Son is performing this weekend in his junior high’s production of The Borrowers.  He and most of his friends are all in the show and tonight was opening night.  One of the actors had been sick during the day and missed school.  School policy says that if you don’t show up to school, you can’t participate in any after-school activities (games, dances, performances, etc.).  Poor guy wasn’t feeling too great when I saw him this evening and another actor took over the part.  He had to come out with the script in his hands because he didn’t know the lines but did a really good job as a last-minute stand-in.

I was asked by the drama teacher/director to do some old-age makeup on one of the girls so that she’d look like the mean old lady she’s supposed to play.  I agreed (in exchange for free tickets) and enjoyed showing the kids how I could take one of their friends from a fresh-faced young lady and make her look old and grouchy.  I wasn’t as pleased with the makeup once I got out into the audience and I discussed with the director about changing it and making it more noticeable for the last two nights.  She agreed and I’m looking forward to seeing the look on her face tomorrow night when she’s made-up.  She was shocked tonight — so tomorrow could be horrifying for her.  But, I made sure to give her a good pep talk before the show because she was so nervous.  She’d played the Genie in last semester’s production of Aladdin and was worried she’d set the bar too high for herself since this is a drama and not a musical.  I told her not to worry and to remember that the audience may have read the book or seen the movies but they don’t know the lines for the play.  All she’d have to remember is to get out there and have fun with her part and she’d be just fine.

And she was.  Actually, they all were.  Oh sure, there were forgotten lines and cues and props that went missing.  That happens in any show.  What I was worried about was Youngest Son.  He has a habit of ad-libbing when something’s not quite right or if he sees something wrong.  Did he do it tonight?  You betcha he did!

It was funny that Husband, one of the other actor’s father, and the junior high assistant principal were there for the performance tonight.  They were all major characters in our recent Am-Dram production of Arsenic and Old Lace.  When one of the Borrowers suggested reviving Mr. Clock with some elderberry wine, we all thought it was kind of ironic since that’s what killed the 12 men in the cellar in our play.  I was praying that Youngest Son wouldn’t say something like, “No!  Not that!  It’s from the Brewsters’ house!” and, fortunately, he didn’t.  But, when the Borrowers left a “sugar cube” onstage during the scene change to Youngest Son’s scene, I could hear Husband laughing because we both knew he’d never let it just sit there.

And he didn’t.  Youngest Son is playing Gypsy Boy, a Romanie Traveller, and is decked-out in a horribly mis-matched outfit which is perfect for his character.  Mid-scene, he walks over to his “caravan” to get a boot and stops to pick up the “sugar cube” asking, “‘Ow the ‘eck did this get out ‘ere?”  After going to get the boot and not finding it, he comes back out and says, “Well, there’s supposed to be a boot but I canna’ find it and it’s supposed to be in me caravan but it’s not so why don’ ya’ sit down an’ I’ll tell ya’ about it?”  I heard from him after the show that some of the kids were thinking about throwing the boot over the set and hitting him with it.  I’m glad they didn’t — it would have just made him improv even more.  Fortunately, the other actor onstage remembered his lines and kept the scene going so that Youngest Son could recite all of his lines and didn’t have to ad-lib anymore.

It was a little rough in places, but all-in-all the kids did a great job.  Looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow night!

Am-Dram: Junior Edition

Youngest Son has a play in rehearsal this week with performances scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  His school is producing The Borrowers and he’s playing the gypsy boy that comes out near the end of the play to say something prophetic but it’s usually lost on the audience because of the strange Romanie/Cant accent he has to perform so that he doesn’t blend in with the rest of the characters.  However, after listening to him this afternoon, I’m not sure we’ll be hearing much of the accent.

It’s not that he can’t do it.  He and I have practiced and I’ve shown him a lot of information about the Travellers and how to create his character.  It’s just that he said that most of the other actors don’t know their lines or aren’t doing a British accent, so what’s the point of him doing one?  I asked what his teacher said about it and how she likes his performance?  He said that they haven’t gotten to his part in the other rehearsals and when they finally did today, the teacher had left and someone else he didn’t know was in charge of feeding lines to those who couldn’t remember them.

Poor kid.  He really, really wants this to be a good, standout part for him because he’s only been in musicals until now.  He wants to show that he can do drama and be a character actor so that when he moves up to high school and begins the drama classes there, maybe he’ll have an advantage of getting some of the bigger parts and learning more along the way.  He’s already decided that he’s going to major in theatre when he goes to college.  I’m trying to convince him to double-major in acting and technical theatre because there are tons of actors out there waiting for their big breaks but you can always put your technical skills to use even in a small theatre company.

We’ll see how the rehearsals go for the rest of the week.  Fortunately, he’s acting with a lot of his friends (and girls that he likes but won’t tell them, too).  Even though he won’t be onstage much, at least he’ll have fun hanging out in the wings.

Am-Dram: WE DID IT!!!

Congratulations!!!  Our last performance tonight was awesome!  We had a great audience and everyone remembered (most of) their lines!

I got there early (as usual) to help re-set the “stage” and make sure the props were ready for the actors.  I did the speciality makeup for those who needed it and started watching as the audience arrived.  A few at first, which was nice but they also were very early.  We didn’t open our doors for ticket sales until 6:30 p.m. and some were arriving as early as 6 p.m., which is unusual for a small community theatre production.  Then when we opened the doors, more and more people arrived.  And more people.  And then a gentleman brushed past me “backstage” and asked if there were more chairs.  I had no idea who he was or what he was talking about (found out later that it was the husband of one of the Board members).  I looked out from my hiding place and the seats were full!  He and a friend of his added more chairs.  About 15 minutes later, they came back and got more chairs.

I told the director that we were still selling tickets and I’d decided to hold the house (meaning we wouldn’t start the show on-time so more people could get in and seated).  I kept watching the people coming in.  Some didn’t sit in the folding chairs provided — they decided to sit on the small benches built-into the columns.  People were all trying to make sure they had a great view.

The next thing I knew, the actors were taking the stage.  I hadn’t told the director that we were ready yet — he’d just given them their pep-talk and said to “Get out there and do it!”  So they did.  And people were still buying tickets.  But, they’re onstage so we’ve got to get started.  I walked out and thanked everyone for coming and gave the usual spiel about silencing cell phones and keeping conversations to a minimum but encouraging them to laugh and enjoy the show.

And, boy, did they laugh!  The audience got all of the jokes, “oohed” and “aahed” when they realized something was going to happen, and gave the cast a standing ovation at the end.  All of the actors did very well and I was very, very proud to be their technical director/designer/stage manager/prop master/everything else that needed to be done person.  We had a great company and I wish we could have done more shows.  We wanted to do more than two, but next week is Spring Break and most of our cast (either being a teacher or working with the school district) will be gone.  Oh well, our two performances will be remembered for quite a while.

Now we just have to think about what show to do next.  I’ll be helping Youngest Son’s junior high with their production of “The Borrowers” in April.  Maybe we’ll do another show in the fall.  But for now, I’m going to put my black clothes and makeup kit away for a little while.

Yup, brain’s still in there….

Finally home from across the state!!  Had to go there with Husband again to have an ERG and an MRI and the ophthalmologist wanted them done where he was so he’d be sure to get the results quickly.

The ERG is an electroretinography — they put six or seven different drops in your eyes; put electrodes on your face and a “wire” (feels like a hair) inside your eyelid; and make you sit in a dark room with your eyes shut for 20 minutes before putting your head into a machine and flashing bright lights into your eyes while constantly saying, “Don’t blink!”  Fortunately, the technician I had let me blink every now and then, but I kept wanting to reach up and move the “hair” out of my eye before remembering that it was supposed to be there.  And I asked what I was supposed to be looking at since I felt like my eyes were paralyzed.  She said there was a red dot at the back.  I saw three red dots and asked which one.  She said there was only one in there.  Wondering how this test is going to turn out….

Then I had to go down to have an MRI of my brain and optic nerve.  I’m claustrophobic and was not really happy that I had to be in one of the closed-style MRIs, but they at least put some good music into my headphones so I could listen to it instead of thinking about being a large person in a small tube and hearing the magnet whirl around and around.  It took about an hour and at least they confirmed that my brain is still in there, so I feel better for that.

Now comes the waiting game.  Usually, they said, the results are known within 24 to 48 hours.  With this being a weekend, I have no idea how long it will take.  I’m just gonna relax for the rest of the evening and save my energy for tomorrow night’s last theatre production.

G’nite everybody!!

Am-Dram: It’s opening night!!!

Opening night finally came and went and it was great!  Oh sure, there were parts of scenes that were skipped and people forgetting lines or props, but that happens every opening night.  Fortunately, the audience didn’t notice the errors and the actors kept right on going.  I kept a close eye on the prompt book to make sure I could give cues to people when their “normal” cues were missed so they could get onstage.  We even had one actor stuck “upstairs” because his whole introduction in one part had been omitted.  I found a spot for him to enter and we at least were able to get him where he needed to be.  I’m very, very happy about the production we gave.

There were some non-theatre-related things that happened tonight that drove me insane.  First, the doors weren’t supposed to open to the public until 6:30 p.m.  The place where we were having the play, though, has its doors unlocked until 9 p.m. every night, so people were coming in and sitting down without realizing it was a play.  Once we got them to buy tickets, we were trying to figure out some rough sections but there were people in the audience and we didn’t want them seeing what we were doing.  I also had to get two of the actors’ makeup completed and on the way into the building the shoulder strap of my kit had come undone and it flipped on its side.  When I opened it, everything was mixed-up and it took me a little while to find what I needed.  Being a OCD makeup designer and expecting to find everything “in its place” had me frazzled for a bit.

But the most irritating/stupidest things that happened tonight happened around Celeste.  She was “backstage” (we didn’t really have a stage so we couldn’t have a “back,” just an area where we would hide) and while I was organizing props on one table, one of the other actor’s friends/family came back there and started petting her.  Husband pointed out the “DO NOT PET” signs on her backpack and the people were like, “So?”  He had to tell them to stop and go away before they would.  Then — and this one stunned all of the people standing around me — our assistant director was sitting at the table selling tickets and eating her dinner.  I’d seen her having some rice and something Chinese and trying to keep from making a mess before the audience arrived.  While I was “backstage” again, two older boys came up to me and said, “We spilled some rice up front.  Can we use your service dog to go eat it and clean it up for us?”

I (insert slang word for human excrement) you not.  They really came back and asked to use my service dog as a Hoover to clean their mess.  I was stunned.  Everyone else around me was stunned.  It was all some could do to keep from laughing and I could tell they wanted to but were afraid I’d be angrier if they did.  I gave them a very terse “NO!” and told them to get away from me.  I didn’t care about being polite at that time.  I was counting-down to the beginning of the show and couldn’t believe the stupidity of the question.  Of course, during the play when people would be “backstage” and drop something they’d tease me and ask if she could eat it for them.  It’s kind of funny as I look back on it.  But the funny bit is really overshadowed by the ignorance and rudeness of what happened.

So, at least I survived opening night.  If it was a complete bomb I’d planned to post the opening song from “The Producers” Broadway show (even though I never really thought it would be one).  Fortunately, it was awesome and we’ve got another show Saturday night.  Tomorrow I’ll be having my brains scanned again, so maybe I’ll get a nap.  I’ll let ya’ know how it goes when I get home.

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