Saturday, November 19, 2005

"She Loves Me" - Woodland Opera House

Andrea St. Clair (who plays Ilona Ritter in 'She Loves Me'). Clever, unexpected lyrics in her songs (e.g., "I must stop thinking with my skin: I will not be a mandolin"). I've never even thought about thinking with my skin before (...this is your brain ...this is your brain on hand lotion)

Went up to the Woodland Opera House last night to see "She Loves Me." Met people I half-expected to see (J.P. Villa, light board operator; Meg and Tom Stallard, longtime WOH supporters; actors Matt and Chris Taloff), but also people I did not expect to see (Peter William Wagner, Davis bicycle maker and fellow player in WOH's 1997 "Fiddler..."; Jason McDowell and Kelly Daniells, and her parents), and also failed to meet others in the cast I wanted to say hello to (isn't that how it always seems to go in the chaotic post-show rush?)

Nice production. Fine set and costumes. I found the show itself to be a bit puzzling, which made me wish I understood its genesis better. For example, the characters have Hungarian names, which suggests an urban, ethnic origin (think, say, Chicago), but then locating the show in a high-class parfumerie, catering to the well-to-do, just opens more questions, like, did I miss a Jewish subcurrent that was supposed to be there (these aren't Catholics, are they?). My head is full of wool - I had trouble following several patter-type songs (particularly 'A Trip to The Library')- so I know I was missing valuable clues to helping my understanding. I guess I should investigate the show and the lyrics further, or even see the show again, tonight or tomorrow.

According to Wikipedia, the origin is European - Budapest - not American at all, which begins to make more sense. But then, why don't we have more central European musicals in the Anglo-American musical theater repertoire? I also found it strange that Ilona Ritter's love interest, the optometrist, never even arrives on stage, when Mr. Kodaly is already available and apparently underemployed: kind of a 'Waiting for Guffman' quality there.

Nevertheless, it was fun to see everyone perform. I had tended to forget just how well Beth Monet Nilsen is as an actress and a singer: just fabulous! Andrea St. Clair and Tony Ruiz also put in excellent performances, but I felt they needed to be used even more (bring on that optometrist!) Tony is a wonderful singer, and I love watching Andrea perform and sing: she has a lapidary quality that I like: precise, swift-flowing movements; an economy of movement and expression.

Most of the men I hadn't seen perform before. Don Draughon was a fine singer. Jeff Nauer, who played Ladislav Lipos, was excellent throughout. Bob Cooner, the fellow who played Georg Nowack, is a real find - a superb performer and singer (he did 'She Loves Me' justice). The only problem he had is that, early on in the show, he is supposed to be something of a martinet, but that didn't quite come across. He's a very amiable fellow, and early-on martinet-ness was sacrificed for later-on amiability. Which is fine with me!

Someone, nearby in the audience, was wearing perfume, and that olfactory sensation added to the parfumery ambience. Scents are underemployed in the theater, in general. Perhaps the air-conditioning systems of theaters can be rigged to suit: pine-scents for forests, a parfumery for this show, etc. Wait: ("Guys and Dolls" 'Luck Be A Lady' - ah, maybe that's a bad idea after all....)
Choice Sophie

My bad: I misspoke when I said Kelly Daniells would arrive in town NEXT weekend! Here she is, with family and Jason, at the Woodland Opera House last night.

Researchers at Yolo County's leading institution for applied neurochemical research (aka, the Capay Valley Institute for Osmotic Analysis; aka the Cache Creek Casino & Resort) believe they have unlocked the key to understanding human motivation, impulse and desire. Synaptic electrochemical potentials appear to be most implicated. Film at 11.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Survival Of The Thinnest Possible Rationale

The evolution of creationism, under selection pressures generated by the Supreme Court.
A Triumph For Kelly Daniells!

Talented, long-time Sacramento community-theater performer Kelly Daniells hits the big time (and by age 20 no less!) It's hard to overemphasize the impact such a high-visibility role will have on her career. A thousand congratulations to her!

Kelly will play 'Sophie' (the lead) in "Mamma Mia," at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (rehearsals begin in January, and she assumes the role in February).

Kelly's first musical theater experience was as 'Fatima, The Dancing Doll,' in DMTC's Young Performer's Theater production of "Aladdin," in April-May 1994.

My understanding is that Kelly will be in the Sacramento area next weekend, and she's supposed to come out and see the New Theater.

We'll all have to make a trek to Mandalay Bay early next year! That's one strange (but interesting) place!
Sprung Floor

The anti-crack crusaders: Robert Coverdell, Steve Isaacson, Ryan Favorite, *fellow in a green shirt*, and Molly Olson.

Last night, installation of the sprung floor commenced at the New Theater. A sprung floor yields better to impacts than a conventional floor, gives a little return spring, and thus is easier on dancers' knees, ankles, etc. Last night, installation was getting bogged down due to alignment problems - the plates have to fit almost-seamlessly together, and there were seams. Since "Into The Woods" performs tonight, these issues have to be resolved today.

It's time we had a better floor for dance rehearsals. If we had such a thing in the past, a few problems could have been mitigated: that time, for example, when Kyle Hadley hit his head on the concrete floor ("Tommy," 2001), or when Dian mashed her toe during recent "Cabaret" rehearsals.

I remember when I was nearly rendered a vegetable during the first "Grease" rehearsal, in 2003. David "Turtle" Akona and I stood back-to-back, and we interlocked arms. Turtle then tried to flip me over his back, but I didn't tuck properly, and so then we were stuck, me on his back, both our heads pointing downwards to the concrete floor, with Turtle staggering around under the weight, trying to regain his balance. That was close!

Speaking of Kyle Hadley, Jan recently gave him a tour of the New Theater. I was cleaning bathrooms, but I'm not sure what it looked like to Kyle. When he first saw me, I was coming out of the backstage women's restroom. Then, when Jan showed him the main women's restroom, she opened the door, and bingo!, there I was, apparently just idling. I think Kyle thought this - strange.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Policeman Down

Uh, oh - west of Woodland. I wonder if this is collateral damage from the impulsive casino crowd heading into the hills, or if it's something else altogether.
A California Highway Patrol officer was fatally shot Thursday during what is believed to have been a traffic stop west of Woodland at about 2:30 p.m. on County Road 96 near State Route 16, CHP officials said.

... John Christy of the Yolo sheriff's Department said there were several witnesses to the crime, and that hundreds of officers from several agencies have fanned out in the area in search of what is believed to be a single suspect.
Reviews of DMTC's "Into The Woods"

For the first time in two-and-a-half years, the Sacramento Bee (Jim Carnes) came out to review "Into The Woods" (wish we could open a new theater every month, just to catch the Bee's attention!)

In addition, The Davis Enterprise (Bev Sykes) also reviewed the show.

Here are those reviews....
The Sacramento Bee

Review: 'Woods' needs work, but off to a good start
By Jim Carnes -- Bee Staff Writer

Construction isn't complete - walls haven't been painted, the wood has no finish, the floor is bare concrete, and the water fountain isn't in place - but the Davis Musical Theatre Company couldn't wait any longer and, on Friday night, opened its Hoblit Performing Arts Center with the dark and challenging James Lapine-Stephen Sondheim collaboration, "Into the Woods."

Truth be told, it seemed - a lot like the building itself - still a work in progress, but one with potential. The orchestra, playing in a real sunken pit beneath the stage, sometimes overpowered the frailer voices onstage. A couple of false starts and sour notes by singers didn't help, but, gosh, some of those Sondheim lyrics are complicated and not that easy to sing. The acting was generally very good, though, and the costumes (by Jeannie Henderson) were fairy-tale perfect in looks.

The theater has a contemporary, industrial look. Its 240 seats rise in rows that start at stage level. A metal and wire railing frames the staircase down to the orchestra pit and separates the audience from the stage. It takes a little getting used to. When the action is down front, you look through the railing at the actors' lower extremities. High above the audience hangs the lighting, and exposed ducts carry the heating and air conditioning. During Friday's opening performance, it seemed a little loud when it kicked on.

"Into the Woods" is an intriguing musical that does for fairy tales what others - Anne Sexton in poetry, Della Davidson in dance, among them - have done, and that is interpret them for adults, exploring their cautionary nature through their gruesome, scary, ambiguous elements. These are Grimm fairy tales at their grimmest.

Whereas fairy tales, being for children, end with "happily ever after," these tales - of Cinderella (Rosie Babich) and her prince (Bob Olson); Little Red Riding Hood (Jocelyn Price) and the wolf (Olson again); Rapunzel (Jessica Hammon) and her prince (Ryan Favorite); Jack, of the beanstalk fame (Steven Ross); and a childless baker (Ryan Adame) and his wife (Kristen Wagner) - hit "happily" before intermission. "Ever after" is another matter entirely.

With the help of a narrator (Steve Isaacson, who also portrays the Mysterious Man), "Into the Woods" intertwines all these stories. A witch (Marguerite Morris) who has cursed the baker and his wife with infertility because his father had stolen from her garden years earlier, offers the pair a chance at parenthood - if they can complete a scavenger hunt for items that will remove a curse she is under. They must bring her a cow as white as snow, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper pure as gold.

The pair gathers the items and everyone's wish is granted at the conclusion of Act 1. In Act 2, the admonition of "be careful what you wish for" really comes into play. Sondheim's songs are quite specific to character and plot (which may explain why there are no breakout "hits" from this play), but they are intelligent and often ironic and funny.

This production's best singers, Olson and Favorite, also have one of the best songs, "Agony." "It Takes Two" features a nice duet between Wagner and Adame, who is the most engaging actor among the cast. "No One Is Alone," sung by Babich, Price, Adame and Ross is lovely, as is most of the ensemble work.

About the writer:
The Bee's Jim Carnes can be reached at (916) 321-1130 or
The Davis Enterprise

'Woods' enchants in its new theater
By Bev Sykes

Enterprise drama critic
Published: November 15, 2005

The smell of fresh paint hovered throughout the building, and places still needed to be painted, stained or carpeted. The curtains had been hung just the night before, and the wrinkles still were falling out of the grand drape. The acoustic designer won't get to work until everything is in place ... but the show must go on, and go on it did.

The Davis Musical Theatre Company selected "Into the Woods" to open its new theater at 607 Pena Drive. Steven Sondheim shows aren't necessarily easy under the best of circumstances, and I fully expected lots of glitches during this particular opening night performance.

I was pleasantly surprised. If glitches occurred, other than a couple of faulty light cues, I was unaware of them. The set, designed by Woodrow & IvyMoss — with its stark, spiky trees for the forest and the traditional wagon sets for Cinderella's home (later the palace); the home of Jack (of Beanstalk fame); and the bakery, where the baker and his wife long for a child — are perfect for the Hoblit stage. And the scene changes from houses to forest are great!

The DMTC orchestra, under the direction of Erik Daniells, now has its own pit; the difference is amazing. I've never heard the music sound better.

Some adjustments will need to be made, as performers learn how to project out over an orchestra, rather than one that was backstage on a platform, as it was for years. Some of the actors handle this change better than others, but most could use a bit more oomph in their delivery.

That said, this is a good production.

Act I weaves together the stories of many familiar tales from our childhood. Cinderella (Rosie Babich) sits at home with her stepmother (Monique McKisson) and two stepsisters (Dannette Vassar and Stacia Truesdale), longing to attend the Prince's ball. Next door, Jack (Steven Ross) and his mother (Jannette Kragen) argue over selling Jack's beloved cow, Milky White (playing herself).

The Baker (Ryan Adame) and his wife (Kristen Wagner) are disappointed that they have not yet conceived a child. Little Red (Jocelyn Price) appears, on her way with goodies for Granny (Melissa Tolley).

DMTC has a solid cast with few weak performers. Those who rise above the rest are Price, whose Little Red is energetic and cute as a button. Babich gives an outstanding performance as Cinderella, as do Adame and Wagner, as the Baker and his wife.

Morris gives her usual first-rate performance. She's at her best while singing, although she needs to project more with her spoken lines.

Melissa Tolley is the offstage voice of the wife of the giant that Jack killed. Sadly, this voice required amplification; it should have sounded more scary.

In Act II we discover that there really is no "happily ever after." Many characters meet horrible ends ... although, for the purposes of this production, they all die gloriously.

Director Jan Isaacson beamed in the lobby after the show ended, saying, "I just can't believe we're finally here." After all this time, she must feel like she's living her own fairy tale.

I fondly hope that DMTC finally has found its "happily ever after": one that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Call 756-3682 for show information.
Copyright, 2005, The Davis Enterprise. All Rights Reserved.
Dave Lack's Blog

I shouldn't fail to mention Dave Lack's blog over on MySpace. He has a slide show of "Victor/Victoria" pictures that looks really interesting (I'm most evident on slides 1 and 14). Somehow, when you're up there on stage, in the rush of activity, you tend to forget that what really counts is how the audience sees it, and it's fun to see their view!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The Dutch take their sports too seriously:
A sparrow knocked over 23,000 dominoes in the Netherlands, nearly ruining a world record attempt before it was shot to death Monday, the state news agency reported.
Cloud Nine

Watch that fog!
A teenager driving a stolen car died early yesterday after he jumped into a dense fog from a Rancho Bernardo freeway bridge in an attempt to flee from police. He fell more than 10 stories.

A passenger who jumped with him was critically injured, Escondido police Lt. David Mankin said.

The fog was so heavy on the bridge that the two likely didn't know the danger that jumping posed, said Mankin, who looked over the side of the freeway a short time later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Is That You, Ted?

On Wednesday, October 5th, there was a special Board of Director's meeting at DMTC's rehearsal space, which unfortunately coincided with a rehearsal of "Victor/Victoria" at Runaway Stage Productions. Forced to choose between the private humiliation of not knowing what was happening at DMTC with the public humiliation of not knowing the words of the songs in "Victor/Victoria," I chose the private humiliation, and remained in Sacramento, at RSP, for vocal practice. Afterwards, I raced over to Davis, and found the Board meeting had adjourned, but several of us regrouped at Applebee's, where we relaxed, and told risque stories.

This strange story from my college days seemed unusually popular with the folks at both DMTC and RSP, and so I thought it was time to write it down.

In the spring of 1978, I was living on the second floor of Coronado Hall, a large, multi-winged dormitory on the campus of the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque. Early in the semester, I had a roommate named Ted, but round around midterms, Ted got an off-campus apartment with some friends and moved out, leaving me with two beds in the dorm room: one bed mine, and the other, formerly Ted's, now completely bare.

One random day, about two weeks after Ted moved out, I took out a hunting knife and used it for some purpose. I left the knife in the middle of Ted's empty bed. I went out in the evening and eventually returned. I lay down on my bed and immediately fell into a deep sleep, but unaccountably, I had failed to lock the door of my dorm room.

About twenty minutes after I fell asleep, the door of my dorm room opened. Fluorescent light from the hallway spilled in. Confused, and struggling to wake up, I said, "Is that you, Ted?" The stranger said, "What?" Squinting against the light, I could see the stranger was thin and had curly hair, much like one of Ted's best friends. I addressed the stranger as if he was Ted's friend, even though, at some sleepy level, I KNEW he couldn't be the same person:
"Ted's not here anymore. He's gone, he moved out."
The stranger responded:

"I'll be Ted if you want me to."
With every incentive, I sat up and struggled to awaken. The stranger closed the door and walked decisively over to my bed and sat beside me. I could smell alcohol on his breath. The stranger grabbed the covers on my lap and with a single motion, swooped the covers down to my ankles. I reached to my ankles and pulled the covers back to my lap. Again, the stranger grabbed the covers on my lap and swooped them down to my ankles, and again I reached down to my ankles and pulled the covers back to my lap. I asked the stranger, "OK, what do you want?" He said, "What if I told you I was a flaming faggot looking to get &*%$#@?" I said, "Then I'd say you are in the wrong place."

What to do? I was worried about the hunting knife, left out on Ted's bed. Did the stranger see the knife? Apparently not: with darkness restored when he closed the door, even a big knife was hard to see. Could I get to the knife first? Very risky. Not only would I have to jump over the stranger, from sitting in bed (a position of weakness if there ever was one), but there was no reason he couldn't get to the knife first, or wrestle it away from me even if I managed the feat. Violence wasn't the answer for this problem. The fellow was clearly living out a fantasy of some sort. I had to pop his fantasy bubble, and fast. But how?

So, I began talking to the fellow in a dull, drab monotone, about all manners of tedious, picayune things. I can't remember my dull monologue anymore, but I can imagine - U.S. Gross National Product under the Nixon Administration, the importance of well-written car repair manuals, the recent spread of standardized testing into the high schools, the advent of new computer-card-punch machines - you get the picture. After a while, I noticed the stranger's shoulders slump in drunken fatigue, his stubbly jaw slacken, the tension slowly disappear. Suddenly, the stranger stood up, went to the door, opened it, and left.

A dullard needs friends. Maybe I should have pressed my luck, and invited him to be my special pen pal. We could have recited the telephone book to each other, or the classified ads, or perhaps read deconstructionist literature together.

I don't often fight, but when I do, I fight dirty.
Auditions - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

And so, the process begins again!

Monday evening, November 14th at the New Theater. Michael Miiller (left) leads the dance audition. Various people are evident, or kind-of-evident (left to right): Julia Spangler, Linnea Lampinen, Dian Hoel, Jabriel Shelton - is that Kaylynn Rothleder in the white dress? - Rachel Pinto, J. P. Villa.

Meanwhile, paint hits the lobby's walls.....

Last night, I swept construction dust and lined up dust bunnies and made them do tricks until after midnight. I discovered that the painters had left, and that I was utterly alone in the theater. As the raging winds outside made all kinds of thumping, creepy noises inside, I found I could do anything I pleased on stage, to a wild, sustained, standing ovation (of spirits!)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Victor/Victoria" Final Show and Strike

Marcy Goodnow, as her radiant 'Victoria' alter ego.

We had our final performance of "Victor/Victoria" today! There were a few minor problems (the stunt grand piano toppled over backstage; a mirror wasn't able to be placed properly in the last scene, the setup for second Chez Lui seemed confused, etc.), but the performances were spot-on, and we had lots of fun.

Strike went quite efficiently, considering the amount of set that had to be removed. Dave Lack took the lead in dismantling the set, as he did in building it. Mischievous as ever, and suitably armed, Dave swaggered up to me as I helped coordinate lumber removal from the stage, and stated, "there are two kinds of people here - those with screw guns and those who carry" (echoing two famous lines from Sergio Leone's "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly":
There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.
You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.
So those with guns unscrewed, and those with strong arms (or in the case of Robert, at least one strong arm) carried. I left strike at 9:30 p.m., but those who went with the truck to the warehouse will, no doubt, finish later (maybe 10:30 p.m.), but much sooner than Mike Mac's initial, considered forecast (midnight).

Many thanks to everyone involved: Bob and Lillian Baxter, Dave Lack, Kimberley Negrete, Dave Hushbeck, Nora, etc., etc. I'm reminded of something Bill Trainor said a week ago, as he spoke in admiration of the company and the way it tackles the new and unfamiliar problems presented by any show - something to the effect of: "they're really not afraid of taking risks." For a theater company, the philosophy of play-it-safe is paradoxically the riskiest course of all. Runaway Stage Productions is a vibrant asset to the Sacramento theater scene!

Here is picture gallery from the last show:

Burning with that edgy, Parisian passion: Brett Bachmann, Scott Griffith, Kaitlin Flint, Jason Parsons, Jake Montoya, and Marcy Goodnow pose for pictures.

Anticipating the thrill of the show: Bob Roe ("simply do what you do when you're YOU!") and Lauren Miller ("out of my way, pheasant!").

Jake Montoya, in a moment of reflection....

Not afraid of the bourgeosie, even as they sing 'La Marseillaise': Wendy Young Carey, Scott Griffith and Angela Yee relax prior to 'Louis Seize.'

Disoriented by doppelgangers in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles: Jason Parsons and Wendy Young Carey, backstage, just before 'Louis Seize.'

Chicago moll (Kaitlin Flint) favorably compared Clam (Chris Scarberry) to that famed French ladies' man, Napoleon, and Clam misunderstood....

Chicago doll (Monica Parisi), with her Chicago-inspired solution to bad musical theater....
Chicago, Illinois
Is Like A Shiny Toy
The Prairie State
Is Proud To State
That It's Its Pride An' Joy!

(Pun not intended):
KYLIE Minogue may not make her usual trip home to Melbourne for Christmas this year. But she still plans to tour Australia next year. Industry sources say an announcement on the rescheduling of Minogue's Australian tour is due this month.
Theater Weekend - DMTC and RSP

Friday, November 11, 2005: Opening night of "Into The Woods" at the brand-new Hoblit Performing Arts Center, at 607 Pena, in Davis. Rich and Julia Kulmann prepare the stage (Chis Neff just out of sight, on the lift).

Vision in the dark: Jake Montoya prepares for his flamboyant entrance in 'Paris By Night,' the first number in "Victor/Victoria," Saturday night, November 12th, at Runaway Stage's 24th Street Theater in Sacramento.

Man in motion: Michael McElroy leaps upon the stage shortly after Saturday night's performance of "Victor/Victoria."

Such a beautiful set (and cumbersome at times)! On Sunday evening, it becomes a legend! Long may we remember it!

A few problems on Saturday (Angela got bonked on the head by the 'Le Jazz Hot' sign), but mostly, a fine, excellent show: our best so far!