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Friday, March 16, 2007

My Dad

I've been thinking about this post for a little while, and I think I'll tell this story across a few posts.

My father was a very cool guy. Not perfect -- who the heck is? -- but cool. When he died (and this is getting a little ahead of the story), the funeral home was packed, as was the service itself. I've never seen that many people at a funeral, but then I've known few that were as liked as he was.

One of the brightest guys I've known, although thanks to World War II, he never went to college. Frankly, he probably wouldn't have gone anyway....he was a guy for figuring things out for himself. He was brilliant mechanically -- take a car apart blindfolded, so forth (one of the (many) reasons I probably disappointed him -- I can barely change a wiper blade, and only do so when I absolutely can't see through the smeary glass at all ); but he was more than that. He loved to learn, loved to prowl museums or read about things that interested him.

At the age of 63, when most people of any generation (much less the raised-during-the-depression generation) have shut down the learning center in their brains, my dad decided to teach himself computer programming. Not simply using a word processor or handling a mouse -- designing and writing computer programs. And so, being the guy he was, he did. He wrote programs in BASIC, and they may not have been exactly "Vista", but they were functional and they worked. And he taught himself.

He bought himself his first motorcycle at the age of 60 or so, and of course quickly became a beloved member of a motorcycle touring group. He called them his "gang", but they really did become his friends, and he went on rallies with them. What he did, whatever he did, he did with passion and full-out joy.

Which is why he didn't simply ride his bike to the store or on a 15 mile jaunt through the parkway...he toured the country. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky....which is where he crashed his bike in 1996......

Getcher Updates.....

The show began rehearsal this week....not a bad -- in fact, in most ways, an auspicious -- start. This is a talented cast. They can sing, they can act, they take direction very well and seem to trust me....and they bring their own bits and energy and synergy to the process in a remarkable way.

So far, things are just clicking on all cylinders (mixed metaphor though that may be (as the bicycle said to the fish)).

Couple of concerns, though....I still need two more men to fill out the chorus, and I'm not entirely sure where we're gonna get 'em. We're not behind the eight ball about it, yet, but I'd really love to put that concern to rest.

Here's the bigger bother, though....

I cast a young lady named Ashley in the role of the minstrel (a man's part), and she's wonderful....and she has a remarkable voice. Really amazing. The show opens with the minstrel, alone, singing a lovely solo while three dancers move in the shadows behind her....really a wonderful opening, and what sells it so completely is her voice and talent.

So, of course, the other shoe always seems to drop.

She just found out on Wednesday that she may -- she may! -- have to bow out of the production. She has to attend some stupid Bachfest on our opening night (and the night after). Obviously, I can't have her miss those dates....and she may not be able to get out of the Bachthing.....and jeez, I dont even like Bach. Neither did his children. the first place, if we would have to replace her it will be a challenge to get anyone even competent in the role. More to the immediate point, though, it will be almost impossible to recreate the lovely opening we were going to have. It was going to be so incredibly nice -- the audience woulda been sucked in from the very get-go.

Still, maybe she'll be able to work it out -- I'm not optimistic, but it's not a for-sure loss I'm just holding and choosing not to think about it yet.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

'tweren't easy

We finished auditions last night. Very difficult -- I had way more powerful and talented women than I had good parts....which means I'm going to offer some pretty small parts to some pretty excellent singers and actors. I wouldn't blame them a bit -- not one bit -- if they turn them down.....but if they accept them, I'm going to have an excellent cast.

The worst is that one of my best friends auditioned, and she read and sang dazzlingly well, yet I'm only offering her a small part, too. I hope she accepts it, though...she's so good, and it would be such an enjoyable experience to work with her.

I'm not going to worry, though....what will be is what, you know, will be. At the risk of sounding like Doris Day.

I'm still, of course, hearing that little voice reminding me of how inadequate I am, how foolish I am to take on a task of this magnitude with my minimal talent, so forth.

That voice will subside once (or soon after) rehearsals begin (next Monday), but it's barking now.

I won't let that voice actually echo, though.....


Friday, March 02, 2007


Auditions for "Once Upon a Mattress" are this Sunday and Monday. There's a part of me -- that nasty troll that sits on my shoulder and reminds me constantly of how inadequate I am and how self-overrated I can be -- that is feeling great trepidation about directing this show. What if I can't find the right actors? What if the right actors show up, but I cast badly? What if I am terribly short on new clever ideas, and all the ideas I've aready formulated are pedestrian and cliched and and and not clever?

I'm not at all sure I can put together a good rehearsal schedule, even...I mean, how much time is the proper amount for each of the scenes? How much music rehearsal; dance rehearsal; acting rehearsals should I schedule? And how much time is the right amount between repeating scene rehearsals?

It's (mostly) performer's anxiety, but at this moment I have, well, close-to-zero confidence that I can actually do this right; pull this off.

And I had hoped to finish both of the next passes on my novel before beginning rehearsals, but that ain't gonna happen. Still, at least the novel is progressing, and I will (try to) keep it moving even as rehearsals progress.