Friday, November 30, 2007

A Coupla Shots

The Phoenix - Stage 4

Last night was the time set aside to add flame colors to the Phoenix on my right arm. Henry studied it and decided to set it off in black instead before adding colors at another, later time.

It's awesome. I hope to have pictures of it soon.

In the meantime, it's sore.

I feel good.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It Was Inevitable

Someone from my distant, murky past has tracked me down. Damn Google, that tool of the devil.

We were in the Theatre Department together back at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, long before it became the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

He reminded me of our late-night, philosophical/artistic conversations over coffee and endless Marlboro's at the local Pitt Grill.

Hmm, I still do that - only now it's over rum and Benson and Hedges Menthol Lights at the neighborhood dive.

He tells me he's doing well, had lived in Boston (small world, eh?) for twenty-four years, but now he's in Boca Raton.

He has a website showcasing his photography. His name is David.

David. I've known a handful of Davids in my life. They are usually loyal and true, strong and stalwart. Even when they are little and puny, short and fat, or tall and scrawny.

Now I wonder whatever became of Marilyn Stanzel. She was beautiful - like Joan Baez - one of our classmates, David's and mine, a lovely actor. But she went in for the scruffy, bad boys back then. So I never got a piece.

I hope she's well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Say What?

Finally, my first review on StageClique. I quote it in its entirety since it isn't posted there yet.
The architect of Disney’s fairytale castle, King Ludwig of Bavaria (Shannon Williams), came to life in a campy, anachronistic play, Valhalla, by Paul Rudnick. The clever script was skillfully executed by an outrageous band of players who deftly transformed from one character to another, changing gender, sexuality, class and era. The rundown cabaret setting actually supported the possibility of finding the mythical Shangri-la in contemporary society, if only one values one’s people and surroundings.

From the first several scenes, the paradox of time and space is clear. Boys are coming of age as gay men, albeit with differences in nationalities and statuses. In rural Texas and in Germany, the mysteries of life are revealed through image and experience. The sheltered Ludwig learns through wrestling; the exploration of two-dimensional pictures leads to a 3-D close encounter between James Avery (Keith Launey) and Henry Lee (Chris Weaver). Given the exigencies of closet life, the pubescent boys are propelled away from their desires as their families encourage them to seek societal acceptance.

The settings are vividly drawn as characters waltz (sometimes literally, as choreographed by Kevin Champagne) from one period costume to another. The red hair of Queen Marie of Bavaria (Cammie West) was beautifully offset by her baby blue dress. Ludwig flounced in a gold and burgundy brocade frockcoat, a white ruffled blouse and white tights. In sharp contrast, Henry and James wore blue-collar jeans and T-shirts of the pre-WWII era. At times, the 40s costumes seem slightly contemporary; for example, the red and black plaid wool dress of Sally Mortimer (Liz Mills) looked marvelous with her hair, but updated the period ever so slightly. Still, the detailed military uniforms, especially that of duplicity [sic], yet faithful, Pfeiffer (Carlos Gonzalez), christened the periods with a slightly frothy realism. Further defining the locale, Director and Set Designer Glenn Meche’s scenic details gave a sense of place, such as wedding toile draped over the proscenium or the shadowy gobos that cast imaginary prison bars on James in jail. Such was the tiny touches of artistry that served as springboards for the actors’ craft.

This play hinges on the actor’s [sic] abilities to play multiple roles, jumping from one culture to another, at the drop of a hat; Director Glenn Meche navigated the actors through the changes with sharp clarity. Shannon Williams’ precise and studied period gesture anchored the show. Liz Mills retained a natural, believable quality as the sweet, but tough Sally in the 1940s and the gracious, hump-backed Princess Sophie of the 19th century. Cammie West delighted the crowd in her over-the-top characterizations not only of European royalty but also as a New York Jewish tour operator ironically guiding groups amid the murals of operas by the notable anti-Semite Richard Wagner. The antics of James Avery, who tattooed Henry Lee’s name on his arm, then stole Lee’s bride upon his release, threatened to derail love’s potential. Having realized King Ludwig’s proclivities for Wagnerian opera stars, Princess Sophie declined to marry the King. As the worlds began to collide, Ludwig reacted to war by embarking on a fantastical building frenzy culminating in ethereal underground grotto in Valhalla. Keith Launey’s oddly touching fidelity in the midst of love and war promoted a disneyfied, yet gay, happily ever after; however, in the spirit of the German hero who dies trying, Henry Lee’s unshakeable innocence broke hearts as he died tragically coming out as he admitted "I love you" in the arms of his beloved.

Not unlike Voltaire’s message in Candide, Vahalla inspires living in the moment, content in one’s own community. Even as the character [sic] traveled from land to land and time to time, the play offers a glimpse of happiness in the earthly plane. The young war hero, who also doubled as Lohengrin, climbs the yellow-painted stairs to Valhalla; the daughter of Sally has journeyed to Germany to return the heart of Ludwig to the grotto where he had committed suicide. Just so, if one follows one’s heart’s desire, one love may achieve paradise in the vaulted heavens.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Remember "Valhalla"?

Only one week after we closed, there comes a new review, this one from Gambit Weekly. Here is the gist:
It's hard to give an adequate idea of how funny all this mayhem is. Under [the director's] direction, a remarkable cast moved easily through the zigzags of the story from poignant moment to total, surreal nonsense. If the cast had been less inspired, this epic comedy could have become a tedious conundrum. But as it was, Valhalla delights even when one gets lost.
Not "one", Dalt, you.

The rest of the hack's work is here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

WTF Is a Retrosexual?

Ya gotta go here to find out. It's some righteous shit.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How I Spent My Saturday

First, I woke up. Then I went downstairs, turned on the television and fell asleep. A phone call woke me at 9:55. It was Louie. He had arrived on time to meet with me and audition an actor for his next play in the Cobalt Blue Trilogy.

Unfortunately, the actor had overslept longer than I had and was running late. He eventually arrived and we started the reading.

Did I mention the part calls for an actor in his forties, grizzled and a sea captain - and that this actor is 19 years old with a face like a baby's bottom?

But I'd worked with him before and Louie has seen his work. So I was able to convince Louie that if we rethought the role, the kid could manage it. After all, I had already convinced Louie to rethink one of the major roles sufficiently to change it from a male to a female - with electrifying results.

Well, maybe not electrifying, but really cool anyway.

Now all we need is a black actor. And I don't want Louie to have to rethink that.

Louie left us to drive over to Pensacola Beach where he planned to swim in the chilly Gulf, which scandalized Bobby. The kid hung out with us while I force-fed him Tivo'ed episodes of Ghost Whisperer instead of letting him watch football.

Eventually I left to head into the Marigny for a photo shoot.


















This is Elizabeth.

That done, I came home and started working on the photos. Bobby headed off to the Latrine. After about another hour's work, I took a break and went to join him. We were having a pleasant time until the Sloppy Slut arrived to announce she'd just quit her job at the restaurant where she worked because her supervisor had told her she would be waiting on a party of Hip Hoppers. No way was she going to do that.

The Garden Gnome, who'd gotten her the job, proceeded to loudly brand her a racist. She in turn proceeded to scream that she wasn't a racist, she just hated kids. Then Sharon, who is black, jumped in and said Sloppy Slut had to be a racist if she wouldn't wait on black kids. Lance, the bartender, couldn't hold them down.

Bobby and I decided to do what any self-respecting liberals would do when finding themselves caught in the middle of what promised to be a drunken, racial cat fight.

We cut out.

Besides, Bobby had his mind on burgers and fries. So we went down Saint Claude to Rally's and bought a couple of Big Bufford meals.

Imagine our surprise upon coming back to find that the police had barricaded our neighborhood and there was no way into the Quarter anywhere near our home.

They do that on the night of the Bayou Classic. I don't really know why, but I'm sure it's not racist.

The only thing to do was to find one of NOLA's finest and beg to be allowed in. After producing our drivers' licenses and submitting to body-cavity searches (not as unpleasant as it may sound), the nice little police man let us in.

Once ensconced in our living room and while snarfing down our Buffords and fries, the phones began to ring. It seems many of our friends suddenly wanted to visit us. They must have smelled the charbroil.

After explaining to one and all that there was no way here from there - wherever their "there" happened to be - we were left in peace with our heartburns, a final episode of Ghost Whisperer, and a long night of well-earned sleep.

Puzzling Decision

Puzzling decision: Commission's view that New Orleans is not ready to host a presidential debate doesn't make sense | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle
The 11-member Commission on Presidential Debates must know something about New Orleans' ability to host major media events that the NCAA and National Basketball Association don't.

In rejecting a bid for one of three presidential debates next year, sponsored by four Crescent City universities and the advocacy group Women of the Storm, commission officials claimed the Louisiana city was not ready to host the event. That will come as a shock to the organizers of the upcoming BCS college football championship and the NBA All-Star Game, events that draw many times more attendees and media members than a presidential debate.

Commission Co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., the top Republican organizer of the 1988 GOP presidential convention in New Orleans, rejected claims that politics influenced the decision. He said, "It just came down to that there were better bids." However, the Deep South site that was chosen, the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., has only 650 hotel rooms in the area, when the commission's stated requirement was 3,000. By contrast, New Orleans has 24,000.

To accommodate the Oxford debate, media and others will have to be bussed in from Tupelo, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn. The other presidential debate sites are Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Washington University in St. Louis will be the site of the only vice presidential debate. ...

According to commission member Mike McCurry, the former press secretary for President Bill Clinton, there were concerns about whether New Orleans could afford to pay security costs for the event.

Commission staffers reportedly questioned whether New Orleans media facilities were up to the task. Bid supporters countered that the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is one of the five top facilities in the country, and that the city had met or exceeded every requirement specified by the commission. In the past year the city has hosted several megaconventions without any problems. ...

What is clear is that the commission's stated reasons for bypassing New Orleans don't wash. Civic leaders sought the event, the city is demonstrably capable of hosting it and would have been a logical choice to highlight environmental as well as domestic security issues.

What better location could have been chosen for the presidential nominees to explain how to protect our nation from disaster than the site of the federal government's egregious failure?

By voting to come to New Orleans, the commission would have boosted the city's courageous comeback from devastation. Instead, they have delivered a stinging snub.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Hate Thanksgiving

I hate all holidays, including my birthday, because nobody ever remembers it and nobody ever gives me any presents. Holidays are good for only one thing, and that's getting a day off from work.

Since I don't work, I don't give a damn.

However ...

It's called Thanks-Giving.

I've been thinking about something a lot over the last several days, and it's this: there must have been a good fairy at my christening who blessed me with a special gift that has grown each day I've lived.

She gave me the gift of love.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I'm lovable. I'm not saying people care deeply about me. In fact, I don't believe I'm particularly lovable; and I have no idea if there are any people who care one whit about me.

Well, no, wait, there is Bobby.

But I never thought that was important anyway, being lovable or cared about.

No, the gift she dumped on me was a capacity to love.

And what I love are the people who've allowed me into their orbits. They're a remarkable tribe, the people I love. Endlessly fascinating. Sometimes inscrutable. Creative. Wounded. Joyous. Alive.

It is better to love than to be loved. And I'm happy.

I'm thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What the Hell Is Wrong with Me?

So Monday, I grieved. Yesterday, I chilled - until Bobby spilled a cup of Espresso on my lap - in front of witnesses! Today, I'm bored to tears. What do I do?

I sign my ass up on MySpace.

Why? I mean, why did I do that? I go and look at it, and what do I see?

"Glenn has 1 friend." And he's the guy who welcomes the members. (Do you call "us" members? I don't know.)

Wha' up wi' dat? Isn't that pathetic?

What is MySpace for anyway?

Okay, so I did get hit on by some chick named Shameka. Three times.

That was scary.

But what does MySpace do?

Anybody?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lightning Strike Victim

Dave, if this ever happens to me, and you're there to save me, let me go.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Getting Downright Mean

Nah, not my style.

Valhalla is done. Put to bed in a reasonably nice way. Coulda been better, but you take what you get. One day I hope to see a physical performance equal the performance I see in my mind. There were nights when this one came close.

Lyla Hay Owen, who reviewed us in the T-P, came three times to see the show, the last time on Saturday night, accompanied by Jim O'Quinn, the editor of American Theatre magazine(!).

He didn't walk out.

They were joined - late - during the masturbation scene (you had to be there) - by the nameless one from the T-P, who stumbled over chairs and knocked over my tripod trying to get to Mr. O'Quinn.

The starfucker has no shame.

But he did enjoy the show, in spite of my association with it.

Later today, I meet with Louie Crowder to start mapping out a production schedule for his next play. Wish I had made arrangements to do this tomorrow instead. Maybe I'll call him to reschedule. I want a little time to grieve.

Hey, endings are final, you know.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And on Another Note

StageClique.com clearly exists for the benefit and personal edification of a few local chorus boys and soubrettes. Since I am neither and do not care for either, I do not believe its link belongs any longer on this page.

So there.

Steppin' Up with "Steppin' Out"

Last night's episode of Steppin' Out on our local PBS channel had All Shea being all cuddly, kind, and wonderful about Valhalla.
I have to say, I loved this production. It's called Valhalla. ...

Brilliantly constructed ...

I defy you not to weep. I wept. ...

It's done beautifully. ...

I loved everybody in it. ... They're superb actors. ...

It's wonderful. ...

[So-and-so] directed it within an inch of his life. And. He. Knew. What. He. Was. Doing. ...

The costumes by Donnie Jay are just glamorous and beautiful. ...

A top rating we'll give to Valhalla, which it richly deserves. Don't miss it.
Thank you, Al.

You can read his full written review here.

(The check is in the mail - and I've released your son. You can pick him up at the corner of Burgundy and St. Peter's. The bruises look worse than they are.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Too Much Time on My Hands



Yeah, I don't buy it either. Unless, of course, you are. Geniuses, that is.

I figured it gave the same result for any blog, so I tried a few others. Well ... sorry about that, you guys.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who Do You Have to Do to Get a Review?

Our poor little publicity man is today groveling and begging the folks at StageClique.com to come and review Valhalla this weekend before we close. I don't know if it's worth his effort.

The only show of ours that website has ever reviewed was the dick sow - I mean "show"; and, although they loved that, they never reviewed any of our efforts before and show no inclination of ever reviewing any of our productions again. Whenever I've asked about this, the people in charge have explained that there are only so many reviewers and they cannot get to every show. It's a shame.

No local musical goes unreviewed. No favored performer (usually a tap dancing belter) ever goes unrecognized. You might begin to think it may have something to do with a theatre venue and a producing entity that choose to present queer theatre. "Queer" and "theatre" so seldom stroll down the boulevard hand in hand, so to speak.

So maybe, if it turns out that we have finally begged enough, one of their little scribblers will pay us a visit and deign to publish his or her thoughts. It won't do us any good, though, since we are ending our run this weekend.

That's a shame, because we are one of only a handful of non-profit theatre companies in New Orleans that pays its actors for their performances. We pay each actor $1.00 from every ticket sold. On top of that, we give them comps to pass out to their friends.

It seems a site that calls itself community-driven is doing little to support that community. Sad.

On top of that, more people regularly jump to StageClique through links on this blog than from other external pages, excluding search engines. Bigezbear is consistently at or near the top of their referral list:

Maybe it's time I stopped linking to them and started using them as just an advertising source.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Dart Hustler

" 'Seduction' K L" himself

This Is Serious, Peoples

Conservationists hail Hilton drunk elephants appeal.
Conservationists today hailed the socialite Paris Hilton, who earlier this year was convicted of drink driving, for apparently trying to highlight the problem of binge-drinking elephants in north-eastern India. ...

Last month, six wild elephants that broke into a farm in the state of Meghalaya were electrocuted after discovering and drinking the potent brew and then uprooting an electricity pylon. ...

"The elephants get drunk all the time. It is becoming really dangerous. We need to stop making alcohol available to them," she said, according to a report posted on the World Entertainment News Network website.
Is there such a thing as PR Addiction? We have got to stop enabling these people.

----------------
Now playing: Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording - Schadenfreude
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm Beggin' Here

One more set of performances and Valhalla will be free to waft up to that great sugar-candy castle in the sky. We had a decent weekend, with bigger houses. The audiences are really getting charged by it. I think the review helped - if for no other reason than offering a little digest of the action. If you come into the show cold, it can be hard to follow the story since it jumps back and forth through centuries and from one continent to another.

It was difficult opening in tandem with the way high-profile production of Waiting for Godot. But now that Godot is go-done, we might see a pickup in attendance next weekend.

Anyway, however it turns out, I know that the people who have seen our production have been entertained and moved. With the cast we've got, they can't help it.

So, to all you peoples who haven't been with us yet, you have another three shows to catch. Come on, show a little support for the artists who live here with you and are struggling along with you to bring hope and beauty and dialogue back to this broken city.

There's plenty of parking.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Query for My Boston Buds

What is it with those priests you grow up there?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Finally ...

Audiences Will Be in Heaven at 'Valhalla'.
"Valhalla" is an enormous undertaking of a play for any theater anywhere.

The technical aspects, lighting and sets, wigs and costumes, the quick changes of character and costumes are but a few of the demands. The six-character play, in which four of the actors play multiple roles, requires a strong and remarkably adroit cast.

Marigny Theatre's production is up to the play's challenges...

Ludwig is finely portrayed by Shannon Williams as subtly mad right from the beginning, yet vulnerable to beauty and to love. James Avery, played by Keith Launey, is seduction itself and an equal to Ludwig in his love of beauty.

Cammie West played four, or was it 400, well-delineated characters. Her Queen, her Princess and her Tour Guide Natalie, and others were memorable, full of energy and aplomb. Liz Mills was keenly right and achingly funny and/or moving as every character she portrayed.

It's easy to see why Chris Weaver's Henry Lee Stafford is attractive to both sexes. He is that appealing and that good an actor. Carlos Gonzalez, playing five different roles, showed the work of an inventive and solid actor....

"Valhalla" will make you laugh, think, cry and maybe wonder why, or think -- why not!

Okay, I don't get that last part, but the fact is the word is finally getting out to those people who did not know anyone who saw us last weekend and were thus deaf to the word of mouth that's been spreading.

Lyla Hay Owen wrote this review for the Times-Picayune. Two years AK, the T-P has finally hired someone to review the local theatre scene ... (My bad.)

(And dear Lyla, if you're reading this - you have always been kind to me about my work. You name the place, the time, the day ... I will so give you a personal tour of my own private Valhalla.)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Dangling Conversation

"So my ex dropped me off for work this morning, and as he was pulling off, the cops stopped him and arrested him. He has this outstanding warrant in California for murder. But it'll never stand. Manslaughter, maybe, but they don't have the evidence to convict him on murder."

If a Play Runs in the Forest ...

... Does it make a sound? I mean, how zen can you get? If you mount a play, doesn't that imply that you want someone to see it?

Last Friday, our opening night, three reviewers came to Valhalla. One review will be broadcast on the local PBS outlet tomorrow night. The second one won't appear until the Tuesday after we close because of the schedule of that particular bi-weekly publication. The third was submitted for publication in the Times-Picayune this past Sunday.

So far, nada from (not the "gray", but) the "peroxided lady". So far, nobody is thinking of coming to the show because, so far, nobody really knows about it. (Even the posters we put up are disappearing.)

Is the T-P holding it's review to hurt us? Am I crazy to feel this paranoid?

Everybody involved worked really hard on this play, and so far there has been no return on our investment. Is it time to give it up, to turn away and tally our losses?

The more I think about it, the more I think it would really be nice to do just that, to surrender all these responsibilities and just live out the rest of my years as the Quarter rat I've always dreamed of being.

No shoes, no socks - well, never shirtless. But no obligations. No cares. No debts.

Nirvana.

----------------
Now playing: Birgit Nilsson, Karl Böhm & Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele - Tristan und Isolde: "Mild und leise wie er lächelt" (Isoldes Liebestod)
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Good Buzz

Just ran into Winston Gray. He liked Valhalla.

Winston never likes anything. We must have done something right.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Valhalla Update

The website for To Do Productions has been updated with information about our production. Check it out. Ya know ya wanna.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

First Weekend Down, Two More to Go

Random jottings after tonight's performance of Valhalla:
  • Excellent opening scene. Feeling a bit under the weather might not be a bad thing for a dynamic actor.
  • A responsive audience beats - hands down - another kind of audience that chats on cellphones while the action is unfolding and then repeats the punchlines.
  • If you are a regisseur trying to undercut the current director, don't show up close to the opening curtain and later exacerbate the (previously courteous and insignificant) competition between the two of you in order to try to sign up a couple of the other fellow's actors for your upcoming production of a Tennessee Williams play no one has ever wanted to be in.
  • And - on top of that - don't make it transparently clear that you've gone beyond Director-Number-One's back to grab a coveted spot for your own agenda and gain.
There are a few other things eating at my gourd tonight, but I can't find the connecting words to make my thoughts clear. I feel like I'm wrapped in barbed wire. I'm angry - wounded and bloody - and all in the middle of what looks to be shaping up to be a substantially successful production of a complex play that has something important to say about the human condition.

Stupid, shallow people really suck. And not in a good way.

And, on top of that, the mother fucker owes me money ...

Ford Does the Big Easy


I'm not too crazy about silver-spoon babies, but something about this commercial warms me.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cue Lights and Sound

We opened Valhalla last night. The audience reaction was better than we'd hoped for.

Seven productions opened last night, including the Classical Theatre of Harlem's production of Waiting for Godot. But three of the four major local reviewers came to see us instead and led a standing ovation at the end of the play.

I believe we may have touched some people with what we've made.

Friday, November 2, 2007

We had Valhalla's preview dress rehearsal last night.

We had a sizable audience made up of people who seemed to get a kick out of the show.

We had a dresser(!) - D-Mac - who totally calmed the cast, since they now knew they wouldn't be missing their cues.

We had a touch of magic on the stage.

I am such a sucker for actors.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

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