Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I don't talk about it much, but I do actually love the theatre. Seeing a play right there, performed by amazingly talented actors. I don't get to go as often as I'd like. Practically never, actually. I don't live near a theatre, and transportation is a bitch, and frankly my home situation doesn't allow for the time. Even if I had all that, I can't always afford to go, even to some of the cheap performances at a college or a high school production. Definitely haven't been able to go to a touring company production in years, and while I live Vegas and there's a few Broadway-style productions, they're usually shortened, and even still, I can't afford it. I've been back east a lot, but I haven't seen a show on Broadway either. Those were some of the things I was thinking about as I woke up early and watched the Tony nominees being announced. I try to keep up with all the great new plays and playwrights that are out there. There are days where I try to be one of the young up-and-coming playwrights. I've written some good things actually. Some 10-minute plays, a monologue that got performed and got rave reviews. I've even had my work selected by the Screen Actors Guild for performance at a local gala they had. They didn't actually perform it unfortunately, but they didn't perform any of the others the selected works either. It was a bad idea to organize them to begin with. Wrong setting, wrong place, a lot of other problems.... In better times, I think I'd be going to see as many performances as possible. It's a lot of work, and if it's done well, even if the play sucks, you're gonna be entertained. There's nothing more intimate and engrossing as watching an actor give these great performances right in front of you. If you're in the front row, or in a black box theatre, it's all the better. They're literally, inches away from you sometimes. I went to this great local production of "Hot l Baltimore", awhile back, and at the beginning of the second act, there's a scene where Girl, the main character, lists about two dozen or so American cities all in succession, she's trying to guess where somebody's from, and, me being a geography lover, I thought about, trying to just memorize the exact order in which those cities have to be named, 'cause it's in the script you know. Actors aren't improvising this, they have to be said in the right order, as written, many times it has to be said in a certain way, and it's just that one passage, one scene, and they have to memorize, entire books like that. The entire play for some of them, 'cause their talking in ev-ver-y scene, and I was simply amazed she got the names of the damn cities in the right order. And stayed in character. I've done some acting, mostly some basic scene work stuff. I know how an actor works, but I've never done anything so elaborate, not sure I even could. At least with film, we can cut the tape, go back, take two, reshoot the scene, and go double-check the script...,  if you flub a line or something, live theatre is the ultimate highwire act of the performing arts.

Well, I just, miss it really. That's really the basic thesis of this blog entry actually, I just really miss it. I wish there was something more depthful in this essay than that. I think Andrew Lloyd Webber sucks, how about that? Eh. I mean, he does, but I don't really have my heart into that one, and frankly, if somebody gave me two tickets to "The Phantom of the Opera," right now, I'd probably go and see it anyway. I haven't actually seen a whole helluva a lot of theatre to begin with actually, but what I have seen, I cherish deeply. Maybe, regret, is a better word than miss. Regret that I don't see more, regret that I can't see more. Envious, there's another word, envious of those who do get to experience so much of it. Really, about the majority of the time I get to see what the theatre can do is when I watch the Tonys every year, and they perform all these musical numbers from the shows. Some are better than others, admittedly. It's never, and I mean, never shot well. It's hard to shoot live theatre on camera. I've seen some come really close, but no matter how you do it, it doesn't really get the real impact of how great the performance is live, right in that room. The Tonys can be downright erratic, with cameras shaking, and half the time they can't get the entire performance in the frame, even in widescreen. That's one difference, the camera is it's own spotlight in essence. It focuses on what it wants to focus on. Theatre can use some tricks like lighting cues and other things they do in tech, but many times, especially in musicals, there can be dozens of different things to look at. It's almost as important where you're sitting as it is, what your watching in some cases. Despite all that, the Tonys are actually my favorite Award show. I don't make predictions on it. I can't. I haven't seen any of the things that are nominated. However, that also means that I have no prejudices or biases. I'm not cheering for anyone in particular, other than Neil Patrick Harris to be a good host I guess (And frankly he always does). So basically, I can just sit back and watch the show, and it's a helluva good show. Have fun, enjoy it. See a small glimpse of those performances, that I just can't find anywhere else. Once in a while, I can see a taped performance of a great show on PBS or something like that. That Great Performances where they did "Cyrano de Bergerac," with Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner a couple years back, is one of the most inspiring things I've ever seen actually. Even after seeing something like that though, all I can really think is, "Man, can you imagine how cool it would've been to have seen it live"? The power of theatre, huh.

I do what I can. I watch as many movies based on the big stage plays when they come out, or the ones that already have. I've been watching that "Smash" show a lot. I like it, it's not perfect. Some of the dialogue could use some help. I mean, would a teenage boy whose Mom writes Broadway shows, and has for years, about possibility meeting a movie star? That's either one,  no, two gullable parents, or this kid is written from bad cliches. But hell, considering everything else on Network television right now, it's easily the only drama worth watching on basic TV.  Although my favorite TV show about the behind-the-scenes of the production of a stage show is a Canadian series called "Slings & Arrows". Not a lot of you have probably seen it, you should look it up though. It takes place at this famous, Canadian Shakespeare Festival, and after the sudden death of the festival's director, his former protege has to take over. I guess it helps to know Shakespeare a bit when watching that show, but who doesn't know Shakespeare? (And if you don't, don't admit it.)

It's a lot of hard work that goes into a play, lot more that goes into a Broadway show. And God help you if you worked on "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark", I hope you survived. I swear that Julie Taymor is friggin' nuts, but dammit, after hearing about it, I wanted to see it and I don't even like "Spider-Man". I'm glad that CBS still continues to air these Awards, and make the show as entertaining as possible. For much of the country, that is the only real chance we may ever get to see a Broadway show on a regular basis. Many times, it's the only theatre that we ever get to see during a year, and we still have to see it on a flat screen. Many times, it's all I get to see. It's unfortunate, but all-in-all, I'm actually happy that I get that. I'm looking forward to the Tonys, and as usual, I can't wait. I swear, one of these days, I'm gonna go watch one of these damn shows. I say that every year, and every year I mean it, including this one.

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