Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sorry ... Bad Taste and All ...

Well, it is The Onion, you know.

After a three-year absence spent wallowing in guilt for killing several hundred Louisiana residents and leaving the city in shambles, Hurricane Katrina returned to New Orleans Tuesday to beg the Crescent City for forgiveness, destroying everything in its path and killing hundreds.

"I've had a long time to think about what I've done to you all, and I realize now that it was wrong," Hurricane Katrina reportedly told residents. "I knew I shouldn't have been coming in so fast, but I guess I didn't know my own strength. A lot of people have blamed the levees, but if I'm truly honest, I knew they wouldn't hold. It was stupid of me, and for that, I apologize."

"Can you ever forgive me?" continued Hurricane Katrina, wiping out the city's electrical grid with its devastating force.

According to witnesses, the extremely remorseful 120-mile-wide storm was initially sighted off the Louisiana coast nervously rotating in circles and emitting long sighs that reached 115 mph. After several abandoned attempts to head inland, Hurricane Katrina reportedly gained enough strength and confidence to journey to the center of New Orleans to deliver a statement acknowledging its shame.

There's more, of course.

More Pics from the Closing Night Party

Our musical director gittin' down.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Too Little Too Late?

I picked up the current issue of Gambit Weekly on my way home last night from the final performance of Thrill Me. Our last review was in it, and I was kind of stunned by it. It's the first review of Dalt Wonk's that isn't purely synopsis. Apparently the play put some thoughts into his head that he was able to transcribe into coherent prose.


Of course, it won't put any butts into the seats since the play is history now, but I appreciate it anyway.

Final tally: a critical and popular hit.

Portrait of Trenton

Thrill Me: The Closing-Night Party

The rest of the photos I'm keeping close to my chest to help supplement my pension.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ennui and Morpheus

I can't figure out what's wrong with me. I sit on my ass all day long and catnap off and on while Bobby watches Tivo'ed coverage of the OJ-Vegas trial incessantly.

He's doing pretty well healthwise. I even got him across the river one day this week and into a Chinese buffet where he ate me under the table. Not an easy feat, but a welcome one.

Thrill Me closes this Sunday after an acclaimed run ("acclaimed run": that's showbiz talk for "Hardly anybody saw it, but the ones who did ate it up"). I'm still hearing from people who have nice things to say to me about it. Just yesterday I got an email from one of the better real actors in the city who mentioned that the show "was nothing short of remarkable. Congrats on a terrific show. Our theatre brethren should see it just to learn what the word 'simplicity' means and how powerful it can be." Earlier in the week, I'd run into another person, this one a writer-director and a formidable force in the local (mise en) scene, and he had lovely things to tell me, too. In fact, I just noticed he wrote them down.

Even the reviewer from the T-P! I had thought he was being nice to me ever since Valhalla only because he was being nice to everybody since he's supposedly due to retire soon and must want a big splashy party and some kind of appreciation prize from the Big Easy Awards. But then this morning I read his reviews in the newspaper of some of the newly-opened shows in the city, and it was vintage slash and burn. I can imagine him thrumming through his thesaurus late into the night looking for cruel barbs with relish (mustard and onion on the side).

Maybe I am succeeding in what I'm trying to do. So I guess I should just let myself go and enjoy it. And I do, but then I lean back into that damn easy chair and doze.

I have auditions for my next show this coming Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just Call Me "Paw Paw"

... But I find this ... unseemly.
This Saturday night is the NOLAssassins Party! To make it a little more accessible for all you Paw-Paws out there, we're kicking off at 9 PM, earlier than previously scheduled. It would mean THE WORLD to us if you can make it.

Just so we're clear, this party is not exclusive to actors! Even if you have no theatre background you are more than welcome to play Assassins with us! Just bring any old picture you have of yourself laying around. Bring your friends, bring your enemies! The more, the bloodier!

Just a few reasons you should attend:
  • To play a city-wide game of Assassins with the entire New Orleans theatre community!
  • To drink!
  • To support New Orleans theatre!
  • To support all your friends at the [name withheld because it doesn't deserve any friends]!
Wanna Play? Come to the party and register for the game between 9:00 and 11:30. BRING A HEADSHOT OR PHOTO OF YOURSELF. Registration ends at 11:30.

Your target dossier and water pistol will be ready by midnight, pick them up before you leave the party.

The NOLAssassin with the most kills or the last assassin standing will be awarded a ...
And on it goes.

This in a city that lays claim to 210 homicides in the year of 2007. That's a rate of 76.8 per 100,00 citizens. Apparently, if you elect to "play", you stalk your prey and "assassinate" the target with your water pistol.

What does this water pistol look like. I hope and pray it doesn't look like the real thing. I wouldn't brandish one of those in public in the City of New Orleans. Not even if I were a five-year-old child.

This sponsoring bunch of pampered children of privilege reveals itself as lacking both conscience and any sort of moral compass.

They should just stick to fraternity row.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

About Last Night

From a letter I just wrote to Stephen Dolginoff:
After last night's performance, Jim Walpole called Eric (our Nathan) out front to meet someone Jim knew. The first thing this gentleman said when he saw Eric was, "I knew Nathan Leopold, young man, and you are no Nathan Leopold."

He meant it as a compliment.

It turns out he had lived in Puerto Rico while Leopold was still alive and living there and had known him. He described him as the most arrogant and narcissistic person he had ever met - to this day. He described Mrs. Leopold as a bald widow-woman and insisted that, although Leopold certainly knew many languages, he spoke Spanish poorly. Our audience member said Leopold always surrounded himself with "beautiful people" and told Eric that - if, in fact, he had never committed another murder - he seemed perfectly capable of willingly doing it again.

I thought you might like to hear about that.


Saturday, September 20, 2008


Sometimes, you have to wonder why.
I had read the headline in the Times-Picayune and went on to the next without giving it the full attention I probably should have. Up until a phone call last night, I hadn’t thought of it again. The phone call helped put that headline into perspective…personal perspective. The headline read: "5-month-old baby killed in clothes dryer in Harvey". ...

So, why does this matter enough to me to write about it? Of all the tragedies to write about in this city, why do I pick this one? Well, my friends, it boils down to that phone call I mentioned earlier about Baby Dozier. One of my old friends called me to tell me about his cousin’s baby being murdered…

As you might imagine, the parents of Baby Dozier have made little headway into getting back to normal. Their road is going to be a long and painful one and they still have another child to care for. Idiots on Nola.com have already started posting inappropriate comments without realzing the gravity of what they say and how it hurts. Thus, it comes to this. What can I do and what can I encourage or ask others to do? ...

The couple lives check to check like so many of us and they haven’t been able to get back to work. Just this week, they buried their son and are still trying to make sense of why. The family has set up an account at Gulf South Bank (Acct# 100308980) to help the couple, so if you have the means, every little bit counts.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Stained-Glass Blue Butterfly

Thanks. I needed that.

It's Not Cause I Wouldn't ...

... It's not 'cause I shouldn't,
And, Lord knows, it's not 'cause I couldn't ...

The phone hasn't stopped ringing all morning. Everyone, it seems, wants me to direct their next show.

People, people, thank you, but I'm only one guy, and a pretty simple one at that.

Up your offers.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Make or Break Time

This is the review that will appear tomorrow in the Times-Picayune's "Lagniappe" section:
Thrill Me, Surprisingly, Does

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from Stephen Dolginoff's "Thrill Me," a musical about 1920s "thrill killers" Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. The premise sounds like parody and, indeed, the musical teeters on the brink of satire. There are a few intended, darkly ironic laughs in the lyrics and dialogue, but there also were times when I was the only one laughing.

What revelation can there be in a tale already told to death in countless books, plays, movies and TV shows? ("Rope," "Compulsion," "Swoon," even "Law & Order"). Well, the surprise was mine, because composer/lyricist/book-writer Dolginoff delves into the sado-masochistic psychology of the teenage law student slayers, using song as interior monologues and to heighten emotionally charged, confrontational scenes.

This chamber musical clocks in at 80 intermissionless minutes, with an accumulative hour that is filled either with songs or underscoring, providing a relentless momentum. Apart from some big melodic moments, the music is Sondheim-influenced sprechstimme, with some Kurt Weill overtones. There is also an aberrant little tickle of a theme running throughout, declarative "wanting" arias and a great neurotic waltz-song at the end.

Besides the novelty of musicalizing the story, there's another trick up Dolginoff's sleeve: a startling, fictionalized ending that turns the boys' accepted slave-master relationship into a topsy-turvy folie à deux that is unexpectedly potent.

In Glenn Meche's excellent staging at the Marigny Theatre, the two-character show has been cast with unfamiliar -- but not for long -- singing actors, who complement each other in every way.

As Nathan Leopold, Eric Michael Liddick is the smart little boy who grew up to be a brilliant nebbish. A bespectacled bird-watcher, a college grad at 19 and already in law school, he has a secret life in which he is in thrall to 18-year-old smart-ass sociopath Richard Loeb. Leopold sings, "Everybody wants Richard, but not the way that I do." The force and power of Liddick's singing indicates that this need moves beyond the sexual to serious obsession.

Joshua Peterson's Loeb is Lucifer as the self-infatuated golden boy. He has looks, intellect, money and, in Peterson's performance, exudes a contemptuous charisma as he doles out sexual favors to Leopold to keep him as both accomplice and witness to his Nietzschean superiority. His "Roadster" song, laden with innuendo as he entices their 14-year-old victim into his car, rivals Sondheim's Wolf singing "Hello, Little Girl" in "Into the Woods."

Jim Walpole's nonstop piano artistry and fervent musical direction give a visceral pull to the uneven score, providing a strong foundation of support for the voices.

Ultimately, "Thrill Me" is not the supplicant's plea, but a command, and one fulfilled at the Marigny Theatre.
It's only taken me two years and countless productions to have finally arrived (although Valhalla and Gertrude Stein and a Companion paved the way). Thank you.

I must admit, I shed a tear or two when I first read this.

Let's hope it puts a few butts in the seats.

Ya Gotta Be Crazy to Skinny-Dip?

Jeez. What have we come to?
SHREVEPORT, La. -- Police said they would seek a mental health evaluation for a man they coaxed out of the Red River after receiving calls that he was swimming with no clothes on.

The naked man was spotted under the Texas Street bridge by someone at a casino Wednesday night. More than a dozen firefighters and at least six police officers rushed to help the man but he didn't want to be helped.

He repeatedly told police he was out for a swim. However he eventually scrambled out of the water - and was taken into custody - after District Fire Chief Mitch O'Neal and fire Captain John Davis told him to watch out for alligators.
But what do I know?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Whiny Post

My right knee hurts. It's been hurting for at least a month now. (I really need to start marking my calendar when new aches start to appear. They don't fade away anymore like they used to.) I know you're going to say I should see a doctor. Well, I have my regular checkup coming along on the 29th of this month, and I figure I can wait till then.

In the meantime, I get to wear a cool black Ace bandage on my knee, pop Celebrex and Aleve, and look to all the world like I probably pulled a muscle playing football.

In heels.

In other news, I have to confess that my production of Thrill Me is not doing great boffo at the box office. It can't possibly be because of me or anything I've said, so I can only chalk it up to the Gustav depression. Not the mental kind of depression. We're all used to that from Katrina, and we've been dealing with it for years now. No, I mean the money kind of depression. You see, the sort of people who actively support my kind of theatre enterprise wound up blowing their disposable wads evacuating the city for that last blow job. Now they just don't seem to have the bucks to spend on entertainment other than booze or God knows what they sniff or snort or shoot.

I admit, I'm kind of demoralized. The seven people who have seen the show seemed to really love it. Well, five of the seven. Two of those were reviewers who thought they were better than the material. But even they liked the performers and the staging. Why, even just this past Saturday night, the editor of American Theatre Magazine, who was in town for the weekend, saw the play, came up to me afterwards, and told me, "As my mother always said, 'Simplicity is a mark of elegance.'" Which is a lovely way of saying, "Okay, you blew the budget on that baby grand, but the rest of it ain't half-bad."

In the meantime, I'm tired and cranky. I'm going to vegetate today and try to sleep.

I'll think about all of this tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day. Oh, fiddle-dee-dee.

Oh, shit.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Taking a Break from Thrill Me

Friday night, following our reopening-after-coming-back-to-town-from-the-Gustav-evacuation-debacle, I took a little time to photograph a trio of local entertainers. To give you some idea of how involved I am in the "local scene", I have to tell you I don't know who the hell they are, but they do pay good. Herewith, three songstresses of sync:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gimme a Cigarette 'n One fo' Latuh

Ruthie the Duck Girl is gone.

Not Much of a Man

You're the governor, fool. You now possess certain inherent powers and authority of office. Grow up.
Gov. Bobby Jindal said Friday that members of his own administration misled him about preparations for shelters and a food stamp program.

Jindal said he was told that showers were in place when they were not in place at shelters, that contracts were activated earlier than they were activated and that food stamp distribution sites were being used when they were not being used.

The governor said the state Department of Social Services should have been more proactive and competent. He refused to say whether he will replace Social Services Secretary Ann Silverberg Williamson. Jindal said he is waiting until the threat from Hurricane Ike subsides. But he said he will swiftly react.

“I said before that there will be consequences. There will be significant changes made at the department,” he said.

Two of the biggest problems in the Jindal administration’s response to Gustav trace to DSS. Showers were not in place for three days at shelters in Shreveport, Bastrop and Monroe. Disaster food stamp distribution was marred by long lines in the September sun as the department scrambled to train more workers to process applications.

The contractor who brought in the showers said DSS waited until the day the storm hit to order them.

Jindal said he is frustrated that the problems arose.

He said he expects results and not excuses.

Jindal retained Williamson when he took office in January. She also served as DSS secretary under former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

The governor said he is having problems getting to the truth behind the root of the problems.

Either stand up like a man or take your marbles and run home to momma.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Boys Are Back in Town

And back onstage tonight, tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday at the Marigny Theatre, 1030 Marigny Street.

The Edge of the Storm

Ike is trailing his tresses across the city's skies this morning. The rain is seeping through the joints of our front door. Upstairs, it's cool and comfortable.

I like the sound the wind makes as it thrums against old shutters.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Heartless Bitches

This afternoon, I ran Bobby back up to the Touro Emergency Room. He had started to dehydrate again.

When we got there, a car was parked in the driveway to the door of the ER, so I pulled up into a loading zone and carried him into the hospital. I put him into the chair at the Registration Desk and went back out to move the car into the parking garage.

I found a parking ticket on my windshield.

The meter maid was sauntering down the street.

It all happened so quickly, the woman had to have seen me lugging him in.

Sometimes you just want to break something, you know.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Reviews Are Beginning to Deluge Us

Okay, so they're really just trickling in. Forgive me for getting caught up in the zeitgeist of New Orleans' hurricane season. But, hey, if the mayor can go all operatic, so can I.

So far, the "critics" have been kind to us and obscenely condescending to the writer, composer, lyricist. That's right, the guy who made it all up to begin with.

After several years of being allowed to work in New Orleans theatre, I've noticed a change between what my coworkers and I do and the perception of the reviewers to what that work is. For instance,
  • When did my productions stop being "low-budget" and become "minimalist"?
  • When did my direction go from being "virtually non-existent" to being "unobtrusive"?
  • Why don't musicians review musical theatre? The ones who've looked in on our show have loved the score.
These are all things to hold in my heart and ponder in the lonely late hours of my nights.

Like shit, I'm gonna ponder! I'm having fun.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"Your Friend, Gar"

We got mail today.

Now this may not be a big thing to you wherever you might happen to live, but in post-Katrina New Orleans, we only ever get mail nowadays whenever the coach rolls in. And this afternoon, that team of dusty horses made it past the barricades and into my neighborhood.

Aside from my first AT&T bill in two or three months (yeah, demanding that much money or they'll cut me off), I found a little card addressed to me.

The cover of the card depicts a Harlequin by Paul Cezanne, and the message inside reads:
Dear Glenn (that'll be me),

Just a line to compliment you on your new show's direction.

You did a magnificent job - perfect rhythm and flow - and very, VERY interesting - your best job yet!

Again, congratulations.

As always, your friend,

Isn't that sweet?

This may not seem like anything special to you wherever you might happen to live, but Gar is Somebody in this little town. And, believe you me, when Gar likes something, whatever that something might be - well, that something ... is liked.

Thrill Me Today

Damn. I thought it was about us.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ike Is a Girl?!

From Bob Breck's Blog:
Ike is still 2+ days from reaching the Gulf. Let's hope the mountains of eastern Cuba knock her down some?

Elegant Quote of the Day

Robert Hughes by way of the Telegraph:
A string of brush marks on a lace collar in a Velazquez can be as radical as a shark that an Australian caught for a couple of Englishmen some years ago and is now murkily disintegrating in its tank on the other side of the Thames.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Back to the Grind

Considering I'm retired, I'm awfully damned busy.

This morning I've updated the website for To Do Productions. You can click on the "Now Playing" tab and find an expanded page for Thrill Me, complete with new photos and a slideshow. Enjoy the hell out of it.

I mean it, enjoy.

Like, now. What are you doing still here? I worked hard on that thing.

Go and look at it!

Q & A with Dana Kaplan

Dana Kaplan is the Exectuive Director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. She had some interesting things to say about the evacuation and the return.
What was the local reaction to the mandatory evacuation?
There is a museum called the Back Street Culture Museum, which is kind of a home to a lot of Mardi Gras Indians. On the night Mayor Nagin had the press conference and announced the mandatory evacuation, he emphasized that if people stayed in the city then there would be no help for them. Some of the guys hanging out at the museum were like, “Well, there’s never any help for us. So what’s the difference between that and a regular day? We’re not going anywhere.”
You can read more here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Are We Still Under Curfew?

I asked one nice policeman who said we were.

Later, I asked another nice policeman who said, no, it was over with.

Now, I'm looking for one more nice policeman to beat the shit out of me for asking.

Sorry, But I Need to Hear This Again

Even if Fiorella's is gone ...

Still Raging

After Gustav

Does this mean another Fleur de Lys tattoo? How about one crashing through a barricade?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Don't Ask Questions, Just Follow the Duck in Front of You

This Times-Picayune editorial from James O'Byrne was pulled from NOLA.com.

We're Home

We made it back in less than four hours from Orange Beach. I'm not gonna say how fast we drove, but we were only keeping up with the rest of the traffic. Once back on the ground and in the city, the first place we saw opened was Cowpokes on Saint Claude so we stopped there to check out the Marigny Theatre. Little damage - some, but not too bad. We can reopen once we have electricity back.

Getting home, we found two flower pots broken and a missing American flag. I'm not going to explore that metaphor right now.

Coming in on Interstate-10 from the East, we found no roadblocks once we arrived in the New Orleans vicinity. Apparently, pharaoh's army retreated in the face of the returning hordes. And there were hordes wending their way back.

I'm slightly manic right now, so I won't stay long.

The only drawback to this exodus was that I left my laptop back in Alabama.

I should be able to make a nice art song out of that line (if I change the name of the state to "Alabamy" and write some banjo chords that Dave can play) and earn some royalties, at least enough to supply the funds for a new one.

Catch ya by and by. I'm late for a hurricane party downstairs in my living room.

Stand Back!

I'm goin' in!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm Confused

I'm not good enough to come home today or tomorrow, but I'm expected to be back there by Sunday to cheer the Saints at the Superdome and show the rest of the country how resilient I can be. How happy, how grateful, how secure and content under the watchful gaze and solicitous care of the master. I mean, our city father(s).

Am I getting a mixed message here?

You want me back? Get out of my way.

Gustav from Here

Monday, September 1, 2008

I'll Be Good

Can I come back home now?
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