Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Show Must Go On

Maria Friedman, the star of the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, "The Woman in White," stood at the center of the stage of the Marquis Theater on Thursday night, accepting a sustained standing ovation for her performance as the show's plucky Victorian heroine.

While the applause was no doubt for her performance, the fact that she was onstage at all was more remarkable. Just 10 days before, breast cancer had been diagnosed in Ms. Friedman, 45. Since then she had undergone surgery to remove a malignant lump the size of a marble from her left breast.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Gabe has been reading Plato's 'Republic' lately, and has taken to waylaying me with aphorisms (called 'dichos' in Spanish) expressing timeless, eternal verities; e.g., "a stitch in time saves nine" (whatever that means).

"Into The Woods" (now showing at DMTC) has two sections, called 'Midnights', where Stephen Sondheim's various characters also express aphorisms, some eternal, some contingent (Gabe, isn't the last one straight from Plato?):
First Midnight

No knot unties itself.
Sometimes the things you most wish for are not to be touched.
The harder to get, the better to have.
Never wear mauve at a Ball...Or pink...Or open your mouth.
The difference between a cow and a bean is a bean can begin an adventure.
Slotted spoons don't hold much soup.
The prettier the flower, the farther from the path.
The closer to the family, the closer to the wine.
The mouth of a wolf's not the end of the world.
A servant is not just a dog, to a Prince.
Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.
You may know what you need, but to get what you want, better to see you keep what you have.

Second Midnight

Wanting a Ball is not wanting a Prince.
Near may be better than far, but it still isn't there.
You can never love somebody else's child the way you love your own.
The greatest prize can often lie at the end of the thorniest path.
"Victor/Victoria" - Friday

We're into our last weekend now. 'Le Jazz Hot' was my weakest number: the suspenders sprung in multiple places and distracted me, to the point that I did the 'ass slap' facing the wrong way. Brad also had suspender issues going on in the same number, and felt dissatisfied. The rest of the evening seemed to go OK, though. Bob Roe was back after last weekend's cold, at about 85% full volume.

Pam Kay Lourentzos was in the audience (I need to get back to her class). She's so much fun! Amy Salmon and Robin Weiner were having a girl's night out, and it was good to see them.

Two more shows!
Preview Night

Nice company! Excellent floral arrangements from K & M Florists in Woodland. Fine smoked salmon (Ryan and friends' choice). Superb production of "Into The Woods!" Opens tonight!

Oh yes, and don't forget Marcus Crowder's excellent article in today's Sac Bee Ticket section (including a little bit of zing):
Though the Isaacsons won't say so publicly, they might not have ever started on this journey if the city of Davis had shown them a little more love and appreciation. The DMTC produced more than 120 shows over 12 years at the downtown Davis Varsity Theatre, which the city operated.

When in 2002 it became clear that the Palms Playhouse, a Davis landmark and a revered live-music venue (despite the name), would have to relocate, the city expressed interest in hosting the Palms at the Varsity. Bringing the Palms to the Varsity would have had the domino effect of displacing the DMTC, and the Isaacsons realized how shaky their standing was.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The World Nods...

Courtesy of Bev Sykes (via Jean Henderson), here is the official ribbon-cutting picture!

Bev also has a real nice blog post regarding last night. She also put together a video of her tour of the new Hoblit Performing Arts Center.

Then there was Beth Curda's recent article ("What would be more nerve-wracking than opening night of a stage performance?": available for a fee) in The Davis Enterprise (I missed the hard copy because I live in Sacramento, but I'll go check their back copies office):
Much work is under way this week, but by this time next week, Steve and Jan Isaacson, DMTC's founders, expect to celebrate the completion of their long-awaited playhouse.

"I am so thrilled that everything is in one place," Jan Isaacson said Tuesday.

That has been seen as one of the biggest advantages since the project began a few years ago. For 12 years, the local theater group has been renting the Varsity Theater, the city-operated stage downtown.

It has been dividing rehearsals and auditions, set and prop building, costume creation, storage and performances into various sites throughout town. Once the new theater — which is one tenant in a new building at 607 Peña Drive — is finished, all operations will move under one roof.

"This way, you get to hear if the actors are loud enough," Jan Isaacson said of having auditions and rehearsals on the performance stage. In the past, it has been difficult to tell sometimes how performances would sound once the rehearsals were moved onto the Varsity stage, she said.

In July 2002, the city told the Isaacsons it needed to explore other uses for the Varsity Theater. The Isaacsons saw no other workable space for their performances and began a campaign to build a theater of their own, long a dream of the couple and of DMTC.
Then, Jeff Hudson at the Sacramento News and Review took note (with a minor error):
The opening of a new theatrical venue is an uncommon event, but that’s just what the Davis Musical Theatre Company (DMTC) has planned for this weekend. The new Hoblit Performing Arts Center is a 10,000-square-foot facility with a stage, an orchestra pit and 240 seats. That’s about 100 more than the B Street Theatre and almost as many as the Sacramento Theatre Company.

DMTC is leasing the space under a long-term agreement. Its old venue was the city-owned Varsity Theater, which was primarily designed for movies and later retrofitted to accommodate live performances. Backstage facilities at the Varsity are minimal, so DMTC’s rehearsals, costume shop, office operations and other activities were spread over other locations around Davis.

The new theater will bring everything together in one place, which is a huge logistical advantage. Because the DMTC isn’t sharing the new theater with other groups, it also will be able to leave its sets and gear on the stage between weekend performances, instead of clearing out and locking up (which was necessary at the Varsity).

The new venue has a total cost of about $1.3 million and has taken about three years to complete. DMTC received many donations but also took out a loan to finish the building. The theater’s name, the Hoblit Performing Arts Center, reflects a donation for naming rights by the Hoblit auto dealerships.
Plus, The Sacramento Bee has a brief blurb today in their "Scene" section.
Motel Seis, Y Mas

Have you ever stayed in any of these motels? I have. Sporadically, ever since I was a teenager. Amazing places. They've come down a lot from their heyday in the 50's, though:
Thirteen motel operators in suburban Mesa have been indicted on charges they rented rooms to federal agents posing as immigrant smugglers and coached them on how to conceal their activities, authorities said Thursday.
"Star Wars" Trivia

Just one bit of jetsam:
The word "Jedi" is derived from the Japanese words "Jidai Geki" which translate as "period drama." A period drama is a Japanese TV soap opera program set in the samurai days. George Lucas mentioned in an interview that he saw a "Jidai Geki" program on TV while in Japan a year or so before the movie was made and liked the word.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Cutting The Ribbon

There was a low-key ribbon-cutting ceremony today (Cut A Yellow Ribbon For D-M-T-C), featuring several representatives of the Davis Chamber of Commerce, and also The Davis Enterprise (including editor Debbie Davis, reporter Beth Curda, and reviewer Bev Sykes). The big scissors were a treat, and we wanted to keep them as a prop, but we all remembered what our mothers told us about running with scissors.

Is it a 30's-era microphone with a fancy grill, or is it the 'Millenium Falcon' from Star Wars sporting a parasail? No! It's a light fixture on the warm-colored walls (saffron in this picture) of the Hoblit Performing Arts Center.

Prior to rehearsal, "Into the Wood's" 'Milky White' was in the backstage women's restroom. That reminded me of an event in my childhood.

One hot late-summer's afternoon when I was a kid (about 1963), my mother left the French Doors to the living room wide open, in order to get some circulation. At the time, Corrales, NM was quickly morphing from a rural community with real farmers and actual animals, into a pretentious, expensive suburb where everyone felt they had to raise horses on postage-stamp pieces of land just in order to keep up appearances. Still, real animals sometimes escaped from their pens and pastures, and this particular summer day, I entered the living room to find a bull standing quietly there.

The kids on the school bus had said that if you made faces at a bull, it would charge, so I made faces at it, but nothing happened: the animal was not provoked. I eventually tired of the game and alerted my mother to the presence of the bull, and she chased it out of the house with a broom. My mother blamed the summer heat for making the bull want to escape the sun, if only for awhile.

'Milky White' in the restroom reminded me of that long-ago day, but instead of a real, overheated 20th-Century bull, she is a cool, sleek 21st-Century styrofoam bovine. I made faces at her, but same as 42 years ago, nothing happened.

Jason Hammond found a key to the Giant's Castle. Jason asked, "now, where is that hen?"

The Stepsisters (Stacia Truesdale and Dannette Bell-Vassar) are presented with the glass slipper, as the Stepmother (Monique McKisson) tries to help out. Jason Hammond looks on, and Cinderella's Prince (Bob Olson) waits.

People are coming out to help and convey support: Rich Kulmann, Michael Elfant, Andee Thorpe, two-and-a-half-month-old Brian Richard Sullivan, etc.

Young YPT veteran Rachel Pinto was running light board tonight. She said she hadn't entered the theater at all until two days ago, but already, she looked completely in charge up there in the light booth. Like everyone else, she's just amazed at the place.

Liberal church approaches, but doesn't cross over, a bright line. Doesn't matter: IRS goes after them anyway.
Tuesday At The New Theater

On Tuesday, I half-listened to "Into The Woods" rehearsal as I dug hidden dust from behind the seats, and worked with Dian to clean bathrooms. Yesterday, the workers power-washed the concrete portions of the floor, helping a lot regarding dust, but still, there's a considerable amount left where the power-washer either didn't dally, or couldn't get.

Note: Regarding yesterday's blog post, Jan wanted me to make clear that Monique hurt her ankle on a stool she brought from home, and that Steve banged his foot on escape stairs for the show, and that neither incident reflected on safety in the New Theater. I'm sure this is true, but as in any theater, there is always the chance for accidents. Steve, in particular, has a penchant for finding the improbable accident - he could get splinters while sitting in a rubber room - and after the recent carnage regarding toes in Sacramento, I just get worried about us running loose in a new, unfamiliar building.

In any event, today at 5:30 p.m. is Ribbon Cutting!
Propositions Defeated

Arnold's pet measures crashed in flames! Even the least-badly defeated measure (parental notification for abortions) lost decisively. The great pendulum of American politics is swinging left again, and not a moment too soon!

I voted for Proposition 79, because the Democratic Party seemed to view it as a measure of party strength. I also voted for suburban-grassroots, Republican-backed Proposition 77, because, although its effect on Democratic dominance in California would likely be minimal, we still need to do something about high-tech gerrymandering, and the way it leads to an unresponsive legislature.

I can't say I'm disappointed about the election results in general, though. Bodes well for 2006! Hooray for democracy!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Into The Woods" Tech Week Begins

Caption: Monday night at the New Theater. Performers on stage, orchestra in the pit, dust on the floor, and expectation in the air! On the extreme right, Robert maneuvers our (my precious!) brand-new 'Little Giant' ladder, in the company of Lauren Miller and Michael McElroy. On the extreme left, the 'Narrator' (Steve Isaacson) narrates. In the middle, only God and Stephen Sondheim understands what is going on.

Tonight, I went over to the New Theater: Steve said they needed a bit of help there. "Into The Woods" tech week started on Sunday, and I knew they would be rehearsing there.

With "Victor/Victoria" going, I hadn't had a chance to get over to the New Theater for the last couple of weeks. Instead, I was worried whether I could muscle the Chez Lui bar on and off the 24th Street stage without spilling gel-laden drinks, or whether I would get entombed by the stage wagons instead, and, if so, what my epitaph should be.

What a bizarre sight there in Davis! On one side of the orchestra pit, costumed people wandered through the seats, and on the other side people sang eerie Sondheim tunes, with music filling the hall from the depths below! People I didn't recognize at first came up and said hello. I didn't recognize smiling Jason Hammond at first, given his lush and ornate costume, and I didn't recognize Steve in costume either, with his beard, at least, until he said "the contractor needs a check for $35,000" (this theater doesn't come cheap, and, as Treasurer, I need to keep the cash moving)!

After hellos, I busied myself with trying to do some cleaning - there is a prodigious amount of construction dust in the place. Tonight, the theater is still only half a theater: the other half is still a construction zone. As befits a construction zone AND a stage, people have been twisting ankles and banging feet: Steve and Monique both suffered tonight.

They've been putting on some sort of gypsum-based interior wall finish that leaves spots on the floor - spots that will crumble, in time, into gypsum dust. Hercules and the Augean Stables come to mind when I think of the dust, or Sisyphus and his boulder. Supposedly there will be carpet on the seating risers soon.

People are scrambling to make sure the theater is ready for opening. Ribbon-cutting is Wednesday, the Preview is Thursday, and the Opening Show is Friday!
"Victor/Victoria" - Third Weekend

We are at our best now: most of the set issues are at least manageable. Interestingly enough, Friday was our best show this weekend.

Several goofs happened on the weekend. On Friday, Jebriel stumbled on the steps in the final 'Victor/Victoria' number, and on Saturday, Jason did likewise. I didn't see either event, no doubt in part due to performer's tunnel vision, but then again, no one I talked to in the audience saw it either, so both of them must have sprung up almost immediately. Still, it kind of shook both of them. The steps have always scared me. I'm paired with Jebriel, and we are both often on the highest step, where it would be laughably easy to topple off the side completely. Sobering! I know it restrains my performance up there. Courage is my watchword, and fear is my companion.

On Sunday, walking backwards in line, on Marcy's second entrance in 'Le Jazz Hot,' I suddenly felt I wasn't moving fast enough: either we were late or Marcy was a couple of seconds early. I'm the last to clear center-stage in that line. I tried to speed up and stepped on Diane's big toe instead (but fortunately, the good toe, not the one ground into hamburger by the set last weekend). Embarrassing! Some day, I know, I'll fall backwards, and all of us will fall like dominoes.

On Saturday, in the final 'Victor/Victoria' number, Bob Roe's beaded headdress fell off, and it landed directly under my feet, but again, due to performer's tunnel vision, I didn't see it happen. All I knew was that I was suddenly getting really bizarre sensations through the paper-thin soles of my shoes. According to Keri, I had plenty of opportunities to kick the headdress into the wings (with the implication that only a moron wouldn't have done so immediately), but in order to do so, I would have had to look at my feet first, which would have violated a fundamental rule of performance dancing, which is: DON'T LOOK AT YOUR FREAKIN' FEET! I am proud to have maintained discipline, never looked at my feet, coped with the slippery beads, and pounded the frilly thing into the stage instead. Kicking the headdress into the wings would have been the coward's way out.

On Sunday, Bob Roe had laryngitis, which was a problem since, as Toddy, he's a major, major character, but he did the best he could under the circumstances. The audience respected his effort.

On Friday, the Kulmann's came and watched the show again. It was a pleasure to meet Mike MacElroy's parents on Sunday (they sometimes read this blog!). Bob DeLucia came on Saturday, as did Amber Jean Moore and Laurent Lazard. Amber teased Jake Montoya for his character (probably just at the start of his Apache dance with Scott Griffith). Jake said, with an ecstatic, breathless gasp audible to the audience: "What a man!" I couldn't tell if Amber admired Jake for effortlessly pulling off such an over-the-top moment, or whether she felt scandalized, and protective of the ears of 9-month-old Juliette, or perhaps some other mix of emotion. After the show on Saturday, Bill, Monica, and I had a nice dinner at Tapa's.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Strangest Day

I apologize for the light blogging this weekend. Not only was "Victor/Victoria" going full-tilt, but there was a crunch at work, and so I basically have gone nuts this weekend just keeping up.

Steve came over to my house on Sunday morning, to pick up the 'Little Giant' ladder for the New Theater. I didn't want to let it go just yet, since I haven't finished repairing the security light ("V/V" having absorbed all my free time for the last month-and-a-half), but the New Theater's needs are urgent, so I had to bid it farewell for the moment.

Steve said "today is the strangest day ever in the history of DMTC!" He was trying to emphasize just how truly strange it was to have a cue-to-cue tech for "Into The Woods" in an absolutely brand-new theater. "Into The Woods" opens this Friday, with a preview on Thursday, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the New Theater, is it, on Wednesday???) Wow!

I know, though, that no matter how strange today might have been, tomorrow will be stranger still. Every day this week will be the strangest day ever in the history of DMTC!

Beyond theater, the strangest thing that happened this weekend was watching a driver trying to negotiate the one-way streets of Sacramento. First, he turned west on "J" St. at 18th, and gummed everything up for everyone. He backed up and headed south on 18th.

Thirty seconds later, I met the same guy again: turning north on 19th St., at "K" St. Two wrong-way turns in the space of two minutes! He was one confused guy! Today was certainly his strangest day!

Downtown Sacramento is really, really scary!