April 20, 2010

KOLD Radio is Off the Air

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It was great to have a lot of family come to see KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay this past weekend (thanks to Madison for taking lots of pictures for us!). Thanks to everyone who came to the show (and to Uncle Brad who came twice). The crowds weren't as big as we had hoped, but those who did show up left worn out from laughing! We performed four times and finished with a Sunday afternoon matinee. Then the cast and crew tore down the set and gathered one last time for a cast party.

Wendy and I had a ton of fun performing together and loved the little community of Whitefish Bay we established over the past five weeks. Now, we're happy to have our lives back. After rehearsing practically every night and weekend for weeks straight, we turned our eyes back to our messy house, stack of mail and list of to-dos.

Uff-da.

April 16, 2010

Speaking of Opening Night

So it was opening night of KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay last night. We had a small but lively audience who seemed to really enjoy the show and it was great to finally get the show in front of a crowd. There were plenty of small mistakes on stage. Few, if any, would have been noticed by the audience. I always like it when opening night has a few glitches. It means that your best performance is still inside you waiting to come out.

Went out with the cast and crew after the show. What a great group of people.

April 14, 2010

Crack Me Up

KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay rehearsal April 2010
Last night was the first of two dress rehearsals for KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay. The show opens on Thursday. Our friends Kevin and Becky came to the dress rehearsal since they will be out of town this weekend. The entire cast was glad they came. We needed an audience, even if it was a small one.

There is something that happens during the long nights of rehearsal. The jokes which seemed so fresh when you first read the script begin to taste stale as they come out of your mouth. You've said them so many times to an empty auditorium and felt the silence bounce off the back wall. You begin to wonder if the lines were ever funny, and then you begin to question whether anyone will laugh. There is a common statement made towards the end of the rehearsal process: "This show needs an audience" and it was certainly true of this show.

So, as our little audience began to chuckle and guffaw through the first Act last night, you could feel the energy of the entire cast lift. Things started to click. Everyone perked up. Spirits soared. And, everyone began to feel the humor of the show anew.

One of the things I pride myself in is the ability to remain focused on stage, and last night was a humbling moment. There is one line in the play that is so hilarious that it took a long time for Wendy to utter it without cracking up. In the tedium of the last few weeks that was not a problem. It felt so stale that we rolled right through the line without feeling so much as a twitch in our funny bones. Then last night we had an audience out there in the darkness laughing hysterically. The line which had felt so dead to us experienced a sudden resurrection. Wendy uttered the line. I broke concentration for a split second and cracked a tiny smile. Wendy saw the chink in my armor of concentration and proceeded to completely lose her composure. She broke into uncontrollable laughter, and I lost it too. It was like the old Carol Burnett show when Tim Conway had the cast in stitches or a Saturday Night Live sketch when the players can't hold it together.

It took a few lines fighting back the tears of laughter, but we got our groove back. Nevertheless, the rehearsal gave us all some new life as we get ready to perform this weekend. (By the way, there are tickets still available!)

April 09, 2010

Top 10 Reasons You Should See "KOLD Radio"

From the home office at Carl & Lena's Place for Beer in Whitefish Bay, Minnesota:

Lars Knudsen's

TOP TEN REASONS YOU SHOULD SEE "KOLD RADIO" NEXT WEEKEND

10. Lena's bound to bring her famous Hot Dish.
9. Speaking of Hot Dish, did you see that new lady in town with the leopard-skin skirt?
8. Carl might just sing that Camp Wampum song again (though not on key).
7. Ruth will sing jingles to the tune of all your favorite Lutheran hymns (on key).
6. See the biggest sporting event since the Broomball Championship of 1984.
5. Those smut peddlers from Duluth get revealed for the hosebags they are.
4. Johnson's Piggly Wiggly, where the savings will make you "giggly!"
3. Sven Oxtrude learns what you can do with a SPAM sandwich!
2. Learn why the Silver Eagle Spinner (half-inch sport-fly) is the best lure for Crappie.
1. Free tickets to "Ole's Lutheran Hall of Fame!"

Tell all your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers!!

Union Street Players presents KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay April 15-17 at 7:00 p.m. and April 18 at 2:00 p.m. on the stage of the Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium in the Pella Community Center. Tickets are $8.00 in advance and $10.00 at the door. Tickets may be purchased in advance by visiting the Pella Community Services office in the Pella Community Center (712 Union Street) Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased over the phone using a credit card by calling Tom or Wendy at 641-620-9107.

April 07, 2010

"KOLD Radio" Tunes In

Wendy in KOLD Radio 001 LR
For Wendy and me, almost every evening of the past few weeks has been spent on stage at the Pella Community Center rehearsing for USP's production of KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay. Usually, one of our productions has 6-8 weeks of rehearsal between initial read through and performance. KOLD Radio has been an interesting experience becase it was put together in only five weeks which included Spring Break and Easter when most of the cast was busy or missing. Add to that the fact that our twelve-year-old cast member lost her father to cancer in the middle of the rehearsal period, and you can imagine the pressure and emotions everyone has been feeling. The good thing is that the core of the cast and crew are seasoned veterans who have worked together a lot. We open a week from tomorrow, and we'll be ready.

While no one has heard of this play, I think it's the funniest show I've ever been involved in. I want to be sure and invite everyone to try something different for an evening and take in a play. Tickets are only $8.00 in advance, which is a steal for live theater. Click here for more information about the show and getting tickets.

March 15, 2010

The Hope of Spring in Winter's Fading Dreariness

I was gone all of last week on business. I left cold and completely snow-covered Iowa on Monday. I was in San Antonio where it was sunny and 80 degrees. It was glorious. I stood outside my hotel room in the evening and just let the sun wash over me. I returned to Iowa on Wednesday and was surprised by the amount of "green" I saw on the ground as the plane descended into Des Moines. Spring's thaw had begun, though it was still cloudy and chilly. Wendy met me at the airport and, after a wonderful lunch to celebrate Mom Hall's birthday, we immediately drove to the Twin Cities were I had two full days of meetings. The change from sunny San Antonio to dreary, cold and rainy Minneapolis was immense.

Wendy and I were pressured with a lot to do while we were in the Cities (apologies to our friends, whom we didn't have time to hook up with), but were able to treat ourselves by sneaking over to the Guthrie Theater's production of MacBeth. While a wonderful production, Shakespeare's tragedy was as dark, dreary and depressing as the Minneapolis weather.

However, by the time we returned home on Friday evening the only snow left in our yard were a couple of lumps by the end of the driveway where the snowplow and snowblower had made Everest sized mountains of snow this winter. It was wonderful to see our lawn, though the record amounts of snow left the yard a matted, brown, ugly mess. Unfortunately, that was a good metaphor for the weekend which was largely spent catching up on office work that I had to put off while on the road working. Kind of depressing and dreary, I know.

It was, however, wonderful to see the sunshine of Taylor and Madison's faces yesterday evening. Clayton is off on a spring break road trip. so Taylor came over for dinner. We threw burgers on the grill for the first time this year. While we certainly missed Clayton's good humor, there was something warm and familiar to the four of us sitting down together in our old seats at the dining room table. That hasn't happened since before Taylor's wedding last October and we all kind of enjoyed the moment as we joined hands to bless the meal.

Here's to the continual fading of winter's dreariness and the emergence of spring's sunshine and warmth!

March 11, 2010

Baby, it' K.O.L.D. Outside

Kold_poster Yesterday it was announced that Wendy and I will play the lead roles in Union Street Players production of K.O.L.D. Radio, Whitefish Bay in April. K.O.L.D. is the radio station in Whitefish Bay, Minnesota located in the corner of the local tap: Carl & Lena's Place for Beer. I play Lars Knudsen, a local widower with a teen age daughter and a love for Crappie fishing. Lars' radio show, Crappie Talk, has no listeners and so he loses his one and only sponsor, Ole's Bait Shop and Deere Petting Farm. Wendy plays Martha Bjorklund (who beat Lars in a legendary 50 yard dash race in elementary school) whose radio show, Book Beat, has all the listeners and the sponsors. Things do not get any better for Lars with the sudden and mysterious arrival of Brooklyn native Sal Carducci who buys the radio station.

We've got a hectic five weeks of rehearsal until the curtain goes up April 15-18. We're looking forward to being on stage again and the show is hilarious. Put it on your calendar and join us!

March 08, 2010

K.O.L.D. Radio Auditions

Set 001 It is, perhaps, ironic that after one of the worst winters in recorded history the spring production of Union Street Players is K.O.L.D Radio. I auditioned on Saturday for the show and Wendy is auditioning on Tuesday night. It is a hilarious little comedy that I would describe as one part Lake Wobegon, a generous dose of My Cousin Vinny with just a dash of WKRP in Cincinatti mixed in. After the winter we've had, I think everyone could use a good laugh. Wendy and I have kept busy with the administration of our community theater, but it's been a while since we were actually on stage in a show. We'll find out later this week if we have parts in the show.

May 10, 2009

Curtain Falls on Another Tulip Time

Letters from Pella Cast Photo LR

You can tell, by the bright shade of red on my nose and forehead, that the last day of Tulip Time 2009 was a bright & sunny one. Mom Hall & Suzanna spent Friday night with us, but took off for home about noon on Saturday. As they were pulling out, my sister Jody and her kids were pulling in. Not that we saw much of them, mind you. They were off for Jaarsma's before I could finish saying "Welkom."

Wendy and I headed up to have Pella bologna corndogs for lunch, then headed to West Market Park to take in all the vendors, running into plenty of friends and stopping to chat. We found the one food stand that had homemade Dutch letters and bought two just before they ran out. We sat in the sun and watched people for a while (thus, the burn on my face). Then, we headed to the Community Center for the final peformance of "Letters from Pella." The show was very well received, though attendance was down this year compared to previous Tulip Time shows.

After the show, Wendy and I grabbed one more corndog on the walk home. Then, while most folks were headed to the final parade, we headed to our cast party. It was fun, as always, to gather with our compatriots of the stage and laugh together as we put another show behind us.

Frisian cow float 050909 LR 

Pella Mollengracht 050909 LR

May 07, 2009

"Letters from Pella" Opens

Letters from pella promo 06 LR 

Last night was opening night of "Letters from Pella," and we had a good crowd (124) for the show. Because most Pella residents are busy volunteering during Tulip Time, the Wednesday night crowd is usually our residents and patrons who come out to see the show before the usual Tulip Time festivities begin and their scheduled fill up.

The show has gone well. It's interesting to watch something I've written go from my head, to the page, to the stage. Some of the things that director Ann Wilkinson and the actors have brought to the script are better than I ever imagined. There are also pieces that will likely never satisfy me. The vision in my head was too clear and specific. Community Theatre reality will never live up to the vision. But, I knew that going into it and made a pact with myself to accept it. When rehearsals began and I chose to take off my writer's cap and simply be another actor in another show. I think I succeeded, for the most part. And, it's been fun, as always, to be on stage with Wendy. It's nice to let the natural chemistry between us flow into the characters.

It was fun to talk to life-long Pella residents after the show and have them express that they learned something new through the show. There are a lot of lines and jokes that immediately resonate with Pella residents who have some familiarity with the story. It will be interesting to see if other audiences catch it, as well.

Three more matinee shows (4:30 p.m.) during Tulip Time. It will wrap on Saturday afternoon.