April 20, 2007

Art Imitating Life

Tulip_house_union_street_players Rehearsals are going well for Tulip House. Less than two weeks to curtain. It's been a lot of fun to be on stage with both Wendy and Madison. As an actor, there's safety in being on stage with family. When Wendy and I play intimate moments and arguments (both verbal and non-verbal) on stage, we have a deep well from which to draw and there isn't any of the awkwardness and boundary issues that you face when playing opposite a stranger.

The same is true with Madison. While Madison's character is very different than Madison - there is another deep well of parent/child and parent/teen relationship to draw from. With Madison I find that it helps to find the little moments that happen between parent child like "the dad look" or glances at each other at certain moments on stage. With a stranger they take a lot more time to find and develop. When you're on stage with your own teen-ager they just seem to happen naturally.

I certainly hope that it makes for a better performance - that the natural relationship that I feel on stage translates to the audience and heightens the experience.

Photo: Wendy and Madison having an on-stage argument

April 06, 2007

Tulip Time Rehearsals in Full Swing

I've had several family members asking about our latest production. Wendy, Madison and I are in rehearsals for USP's 2007 Tulip Time production of Tulip House. It's the premiere production of a one-act play (50 minutes long or so) about a California family who agree to take part in a reality TV series (a la PBS' 1900 House ) in which they must live as a Pella family in 1935 (the year of the first Tulip Time). As they experience, first hand, the life of the family they are portraying they are forced to face their own family issues.

Performances will be:
May 2 @ 7 p.m
May 3,4,5 @ 4:30 p.m. (during Tulip Time; between parades)

March 15, 2007

Here We Go Again!

It was announced this week that Wendy, Madison and I will be performing in Union Street Player's Tulip Time production of Tulip House. We play a family who agrees to take part in a reality t.v. series in which we must live an authentic 1930's existence. Wendy and I were sort of hoping to take a break, but Madison really wanted to audition and we thought it would be fun to do as a family. So...here we go again :)

February 25, 2007

"What a Depressing Weekend"

We survived the weekend storm, though not without a few disappointments. The weather put a damper on the play that we've worked so hard to produce. We had good crowds Thursday (95) and Friday (115) but Saturday night we only had 30 people come out in the snow and ice. Sunday we had one of our actors unable to get out of her driveway and were forced to cancel the final performance. We considered rescheduling for next weekend, but there were too many conflicts. As one of the actors wrote me in an e-mail - "what a depressing weekend". It was. These people worked so hard and the show received such acclaim from the audiences that witnessed it. I wish we could have gotten it in front of more people.

Then the snow and ice split one of the trees in our backyard, sending it crashing into our roof and our neighbor's garage roof. A large limb from our big oak in the front yard fell on another neighbor's house, clipping the roof and doing damage to their gutters.
Tree1lrTree2lr_1 Tree3lr

February 21, 2007

Letting Go...

Mornings_at_seven_cast I just wrote in my post yesterday that "faith requires leaving". Interestingly enough, last night was the final dress rehearsal for Morning's at Seven. I've learned, in directing theatre, that there's a point at which you have to let go and let a show be. The point may be at different places for different shows, but for this show it was last night.

At the end of rehearsal I gave the handful of notes I'd written during rehearsal, and then told the cast that I was done. I handed the show to them. No more notes. No more nagging about lines, projection, concentration or opening up (for which, I know they're all grateful!). It's all on them. Time for them to spread their wings and make this show fly.

Community theatre is a funny thing. You work with an all volunteer cast and crew. These amazing people are doing this because they love to do it. As a director you get actors and crew from all levels of experience and knowledge. Of course, I want to put a good show on stage for the audience - but my real goal as a director is to help actors and crew to go above and beyond what they thought they could do. I want the crew to walk away feeling proud that they were a part of making something special happen on stage. I want the actors to walk away saying, "I think that was my best performance, and I'm a better actor for having been in this show".

I don't know if they will all say that, but I was overjoyed at the dress rehearsal last night. I saw performances that I would have scarce thought possible six weeks ago when I assembled the cast list. This incredible group of actors did a lot of work, they took their roles seriously, and the audience will be blessed to experience the results.

So, while the show opens tomorrow night - I've got no nerves - my stomach will do no flip-flops - I will sleep easy. I'll let the actors and the crew have the nerves.

Faith requires leaving...and so I'll leave this show to them - I know that they'll put on a great show.

February 19, 2007

"We'll Hit the Heights!"

"Overture...curtain lights...this is it...we'll hit the heights!"

Hitting the heights is quite literal as it applies to this week's production of Morning's at Seven. The set for the play includes two houses that extend well into the rafters of the auditorium. Wendy and I spent all day Saturday working on the set. I'll put the YouTube video on this post so you can catch a glimpse of the set.

Sounds like nice weather this weekend - perfect for a night out - a little jaunt to Pella for dinner and a show. The play is this Thu-Sat @ 7:00 p.m. and Sun @ 2:00 p.m.. Click here for more info. If you need me to reserve you some tickets - just e-mail me or give me a call!

February 02, 2007

The Next Production

Mornings_at_sevenFriends and family members have been asking Wendy and me about the latest production we're involved in. I'm currently directing a show called Morning's at Seven for Pella's Union Street Players.

It's a very funny comedy about four elderly sisters who've all lived in the same town their whole lives. One of the sister is a spinster whose lived with - and gotten between - one of the other sisters and her husband (see photo). Another sister has a 40 year-old son whose never left home and has never once brought his girlfriend of 12 years home. The eldest sister lives up on the hill and is married to a pompous, educated snob who refuses to let her see her family - whom he considers "morons". Their disfunctional, enmeshed family provides for some hilarious moments that allow us to laugh at ourselves and own crazy family systems.

You know, a trip to Pella, an overnight at the Royal Amsterdam Hotel or the Strawtown Inn, a dinner out and an evening of laughter at the theater...sounds like a good Valentine's Day present!! (Hey guys, I'm talking to you here!)

Production dates are February 22, 23, & 24 at 7:00 p.m. with a matinee on Feb 25 at 2:00 p.m. All the other information you need to know you can found on the sidebar here. If you need me to score you some tickets, I can hook you up...I know a guy.

December 18, 2006

2nd Place

It was a strange weekend - strange for its' roller coaster of emotions. Friday night we hosted our 2nd "Starving Artists' Dinner". We invited some Theatre students from Central over for dinner as well as our good friend Ann who teaches Theatre at  Central. We had a wonderful dinner before going over to the Pella Community Center for the announcement of USP's playwriting contest winners. I was really excited to have Taylor and Madison there. Afterwards, we had a big group of friends come back to our house for a party. It was a blast. What wonderful people.

My play was awarded 2nd prize in the contest, which is great. The staged reading of the first few minutes of my script went really well and the audience loved it. As I read the judges comments it became clear that I was hosed by one of the three judges who didn't like it and dismissed it with terrible ratings that were neither explained or justified. I won't lie to you - I was disappointed. I wanted to win. C'est la vie.

To add insult to injury, Wendy and I went out to rake leaves on Saturday morning to find that someone had written "LOSERS" in bright pink chalk across our driveway. Great.

I know that 2nd place is something to be proud of. I know that everyone in the audience liked my play. I know I won $300 for 2nd and it's better than nothing. I know that USP still wants to produce the play sometime in the future. I know that this is a great learning and character building experience - yada, yada, yada - blah, blah, blah. I know all that.

Sometimes character building sucks.

December 08, 2006

I'm a Grandpa!

01_preggo Okay family - control yourselves - I'm not a grandpa literally. I just thought I'd share Taylor's hilarious turn in The Christmas Post for those who haven't seen it.

Taylor plays a "shopper" in the play, and is on stage much of the show singing in the chorus. Taylor came late to the production because she was in another play at school. That meant she got the leftovers from the costume department. The coat they put her in was huge, and she complained: the only way I would fit in this coat was if I was pregnant.

Then Peg Moriarity mentioned that the costume shop had one of those "sympathy pillows" to make you look pregnant. Taylor, always one to seize the opportunity for a good gag, arranged to get the pillow before dress rehearsal and - voila'! - she was the pregnant shopper.

At Saturday night's performance, Taylor was thinking about the "chase" scene. It's a musical interlude in the show where chaos and pandemonium ensues on stage among all of the frenzied Christmas shoppers. She thought it would be funny if, in the midst of the chaos on stage, she went into labor. Once again, Peg Moriarity was there to spur her on - and as the craziness broke out there was Taylor in the throes of labor pains with Peg fanning her off. It was absolutely hilarious. But that's not all.

After "the chase" was over, everyone was sitting back stage in the green room. Someone walked in and said "Oh - you haven't had your baby yet?" - to which Taylor said - "wouldn't it be funny if I walked out for the curtain call holding a baby?" With that, she ripped off the pillow and the cast started scrounging for a doll (baby Jesus was on stage in the manger - we couldn't use him) - and a makeshift baby blanket.

Taylor's "delivery" has now become part of every Christmas Post performance and it's one of those stories that I know will become part of Union Street Players legend - recounted at numerous cast parties for years to come.

Our Taylor-made is one of a kind.

Photo: Pregnant Taylor and her mid-wife, Peg Moriarity

December 06, 2006

Playwriting and Final Performances

Xp01 I wrote a play last Spring for the Tulip Time Playwriting contest. Last I updated you, it was one of the three finalists. I made my revisions and sent it back in for the final round at the end of October. Blind copies (author identities hidden - in fact, at this point only one person knows the identity of all the playwrites) of the three plays were sent to three different judges. From what I hear, these are some respectable judges. Members of the Scriptwriters Association and one of the judges has authored what has become major motion pictures - sheesh!

Anyway, the winner will be announced December 15th. Union Street Players is going to have a staged reading of the first 15-20 minutes of each of the three plays and then announce the winner with a reception following. The winning play will be produced next May for the 2007 Tulip Time. The staged reading and reception will be at the Joan Farver Kuyper Auditorium in the Pella Community Center (712 Union St. - Pella) and is open to the public. Anyone who wants to attend is welcome.

Speaking of theatre, It's been great to have a few days of rest from our run of "The Christmas Post". My voice and energy level were pretty well shot by Sunday night. We had a quick 90 minute rehearsal last night to run the lines. My voice is still ragged, and I'm glad I have a couple more days before Thursday night's performance.

If you haven't seen it, there are two more shows to catch! Thursday and Friday at 7:00.