Saturday, August 19, 2006

DMTC Summer Workshop - "Peter Pan" - Friday Night's Cast

(Left) Peter Pan (Emily Jo Seminoff)

Tiger Lily (Lauren Hamilton) and Company. Uggawugga Meatball!

Never Never Land. Liza (Meg King) and the various animals.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Alberto II?

Weather forecasts are showing the possibility of a tropical storm blowing up quite rapidly out of the Caribbean on Monday, and passing just west of Tampa on Wednesday, on a path nearly-identical to Tropical Storm Alberto in June, crossing the Florida coast north of Tampa, not far from Tallahassee, and moving inland over Georgia and South Carolina. Keep your eyes open!
Number One On The Polish Charts!

And soon to be number one here too, as well:
Paris, Hilton's leap into the recording industry, hits the streets today.

The first single, Stars Are Blind, entered the US Billboard Hot 100 at No.18, the fourth-highest debut on the chart, and reached No.1 on charts in Canada, Hungary and Poland.

..."In an odd way she is the best representation of masterful manipulation of the entertainment-industrial complex."

...Her reality television show with "celebutante" Nicole Richie (daughter of singer Lionel Richie), The Simple Life, was a runaway hit, and is entering its fourth season. She has appeared in low-budget horror films and made commercials for burgers wearing a skimpy bathing suit.

A Hilton-centred animated series is in the works, Paris the nightclub opened in two Florida cities recently, and she has talked of launching her own chain of boutique hotels, starting in Las Vegas.

The heiress-cum-singer has cowritten an autobiography with an entire chapter devoted to her own fashion mistakes, and published a diary entitled Your Heiress Diary: Confess It All to Me, a collection of blank pages studded with photos of Hilton. Fans can also purchase a "diary" from the perspective of her pet chihuahua, Tinkerbell, entitled My Life Tailing Paris Hilton.

The spotlight has yet to tire of Hilton. Whether it is an announcement of a year of celibacy, or the news that she has been bitten by her pet kinkajou, the camera flashes and celebrity press follow.

"Here we are in the middle of a war and global unrest, and every time another of these stories breaks, you just have to take your hat off to her," said Thompson. "Business schools should take her as a model and teach semesters devoted to her."

Thompson likens Hilton to the dusty outposts of the early American West, towns whose growth into real cities relied on big-talking boosters.

"She is a fascinating cultural experiment, a house of cards built on a very finite list of accomplishments," said Thompson.
Exactly When Is That Elly Season, And Whassup With John Hancock?

Juan Ramos E-Mailed regarding the cutoff dates of the Elly Awards:

Hi Marc,

I'm somewhat blog challenged and for whatever reason was unable to send a comment to Andrea St. Clair's post on this year's Elly nominations. You and Ray Fisher shared her sentiments, so I'm passing this message onto you to pass on to them as a comment:

"Do keep in mind that the Elly nominations and awards (like the Oscars) are for shows produced in the previous year i.e. 2005. Weren't "Sweeney Todd" and "Man of La Mancha" 2006 productions? If so, they will be considered for 2006 nominations to be announced accordingly in August of 2007. I know there is a cutoff date for consideration (May or June). Performances after that time are rolled over to the next year for consideration. Check with SARTA for specifics. "

Thank you Marc.

Juan Ramos
Hi Juan:

I wondered about this question, so I looked at the Elly Award judging form for 2006-2007, and they say:

The Elly season begins July 1 and ends June 30.
Presumably this is their standard season, applicable to 2005-2006 as well.

Shows that straddle the line are treated in an irregular manner. For example, DMTC's "The King & I", which straddled the line in 2005, is nominated for awards this year. My understanding is that DMTC's "Oklahoma!", which straddles the line this year, was also eligible for nominations this year. Inconsistent!

Thus, both RSP's "Sweeney Todd" (Jan. '06) and WOH's "Man Of La Mancha" (Mar. '06) were eligible for nominations this year. And both Ray and Andrea are unhappy their shows didn't get any more nominations than they did (Costumes - Laurie Everly-Klassen; and Musical Direction - Dan Pool; for 'La Mancha,' and that's it). Alas!

Well, like Mel Brooks says, it's "good to be the King!"


(P.S.: Sorry I haven't been able to get over to visit John. It's just the normal busy-ness of the summer, but it's vital to get over there soon).

Juan replies:

Hi Marc,

Thank you for the thorough research. Go figure. By the way, John is now at home. The dining room area now houses his hospital bed, etc. He is healing well. His external hardware is scheduled to be removed in a couple of weeks, to be replaced by some sort of casts he is able to deal with. His arm fractures have healed and he is able to transfer himself from bed to wheelchair, etc. He is telecommunicating to his job which helps pass the time and confinement heebee jeebees. If you do have time to visit, give him a call.
Music In Casinos

The soundtracks are many, but the thoughts are few:
At least, though, John Lennon's "Imagine" isn't in there. But it's not because Taylor's sparing anyone's sensibilities.

"I don't see why we wouldn't play it," he says.

Well, but an anthem of peace and idealism and tolerance in a casino? Wouldn't it be a bit crass? And do you really want gamblers to "imagine no possessions"?

(It's easy, if you try.)

"Huh," Taylor says. "I've never thought of it that way."
Krispy Kreme Closes First West Coast Store

And not a arteriosclerotic moment too soon:
Whatever the reasons, James Glass, an analyst with CIBC World Markets in Boston, put it bluntly: "People just won't line up for doughnuts forever and ever."

The store that started the local craze gradually became unprofitable, with sales falling to about a third of their original level, one employee said.

Krispy Kreme was in some sense a victim of its own success. The quick proliferation of stores — seemingly opening by the dozen — made it harder for individual locations to get by. The La Habra store closed as part of a retrenchment in the last year that has left Great Circle with 17 Krispy Kremes, down from a peak of 31.
Manly Protection

Here is the B3ta Question Of The Week:
Have you ever done anything that made strangers think you were a pervert?
Here is my submission, from college days:
One evening, my neighbor started screaming. A Peeping Tom was observing her from the bushes in the alley outside her bedroom window. In a panic, she came over to my apartment for manly protection. I locked her in, she called the police, and I went out into the alley to locate and confront the pervert.

So, who was the only one in the alley when the police helicopter and the canine units arrived?
Step One Get Fit Jam

Some evenings are better than others. Last night was pretty good: I only got stepped on once, and I didn't flag until near the end. And looking around, all I could think was, 'am I the only one here who never was a cheerleader?'
Second Best

I've been wondering for some time why the U.S. doesn't just give up trying to police the large population centers of Iraq, and instead withdraw to the much-friendlier, more-easily-defensible precincts of northern Iraq, to Iraqi Kurdistan, where we have actual allies - people who would be happy to have us there, and have been trying to find ways to make us welcome there for some time. Apparently, a few conservatives are beginning to think along the same lines (David Frum at NRO).

Really, it's the only way out of the Iraqi trap sprung for us by George Bush and Company, short of a bloody, Saigon-embassy style of rout.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Upcoming Landmark

OK, so where's the progress? (a useful comparison with World War II, via Left Coaster):
Our war against Germany lasted 1,245 days, from Dec. 11, 1941, (when both nations declared war) until May 8, 1945.

Our war against Japan from Dec. 7, 1941, until Aug. 15, 1945, lasted somewhat longer--1,348 days.

So one cannot yet say that the war in Iraq has been longer than World War II. Nov. 25, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, will mark the 1,348th day of American involvement in the Iraqi conflict. It is not a date to celebrate.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Flooding In Hatch, N.M.

Makes one pause....How did that arroyo break its banks? And what about Hatch's famous chili? Maybe not this year?

Here's the Weather Channel video.

Not a theft, mind you. Just making sure the money is safe:
AN Australian woman working as the chief purser on a luxury cruise ship has been charged in the United States with stealing $521,274 from the ship's safe and hiding it in her cabin.

Elisha Cuffe, 32, was arrested and escorted off the luxury liner Sapphire Princess in front of passengers after the ship docked at the Alaskan port city of Ketchikan last week.

...Alaskan state troopers allege Ms Cuffe, a 10-year veteran of the cruise line, hid the cash in a cardboard box at the end of her bed.

The ship's security personnel became suspicious during their voyage from Vancouver, Canada, to Whittier, Alaska, when money from the safe, which Ms Cuffe had access to, began disappearing, police said.

..."As part of the onboard investigation they asked to search her room and at that point they discovered the money in a cardboard box at the foot of her bed."

...Ms Cuffe, however, said she was not planning to flee with the cash, he said.

"She said she had taken the money because the ship's computer was showing less money than was actually on hand in the safe," he said.

"She said she didn't have any plans on removing the money from the ship."
Step One Showcase and Team Auditions

Step One Dance & Fitness is having a showcase at 2 p.m., Saturday August 19th at Sheldon High School Performing Arts Center (Hwy 99, Calvine Rd. exit east to Kingbridge, then left 2 blocks to 8333 Kingsbridge Dr.) for all summer classes. Tickets are $12.

There are Tap Team auditions (ages 7-16) at 3 p.m. on Sunday, August 20, at Step One. There are Jazz Team auditions (ages 7-16) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 27, at Step One. And lastly, there are Hip Hop Competition Team auditions at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 26 (ages 6-11), and 3:30 p.m. (ages 12-17; age 17 still in high school), at Step One.
Children's Theater In Yolo County

A link to Bev Syke's photo shoot, done as part of a feature story in the Davis Enterprise (post date, August 3rd).
Send In The Plutons!

Kevin Drum is not impressed by the resolution of the debate concerning whether Pluto is a planet or not. The solution is to classify Pluto as the largest of a new class of planets called Plutons (fancy ice ball planets), and to upgrade other fancy iceballs, like Ceres and Xena, and make them planets too.
So, in a compromise worthy of the UN Security Council, a recently formed committee has proposed the creation of a new category of objects called "plutons." It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!

"[Richard] Binzel and other committee members stressed that categorizing Pluto as a pluton was in no way meant to downgrade its longtime status as the ninth planet.

'We might be demoting it from the list of eight classical planets, but we're promoting it by making it the head of its own special class,' said Owen Gingerich of Harvard University, who chaired the panel."

Am I the only one who thinks this sounds like something even a second grader wouldn't fall for? Even a dumb second grader? "No, you won't be going to regular third grade with the rest of your friends next year, Billy. You'll be going to second grade again. A special second grade!"
To me, it sounds like a great way to resolve this debate! Would that all debates were so easily resolved! Welcome the Plutons!
TNR's Just Bad

This time, defending Ann Coulter.... What a despicable bunch TNR has turned into over the years. Once proud liberals, now just lickspittles of the Bush Administration.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Protest

Jackie Schultz at the R Street Theatre is planning a march to the Sacramento Bee at 3 p.m. on Friday, August 18th, to protest several interrelated issues concerning what sometimes feels like the tyrannical dominance of the Sacramento Bee over reviews and other information regarding Sacramento theater. One bad or middling SacBee review is sometimes enough to single-handedly torpedo a struggling community theater's finances and future outlook.

I certainly empathize with her protest, but feel that the effort is misdirected to some degree. Especially in the era of the Web Log, there are channels to answer back to particularly egregious reviews. As an example, in 2001, many DMTC aficionados answered back to a Davis Enterprise 'West Side Story' review with a letter-writing campaign. In that case, it appeared the reviewer had seriously misconstrued the purpose of the 'Romeo and Juliet'-derived story, and some response was called for. It is also important, however, not to curtail the reviewer's freedom to make judgements, whether fair or foul.

Another issue is the Sacramento Bee's general neglect of the community theater scene. The Sacramento Bee is not alone in this regard: despite their own hoopla, the Sacramento News and Review also neglects the local scene. In fact, if a newspaper is run for profit, it will almost be bound to neglect the local scene. The reasons are many. The Sacramento Bee is THE major newspaper for record, not only for Sacramento, but for all northern California. They are bound to first cover a wide variety of professional venues - Sacramento, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Clear Lake, etc., because these venues pay - a lot! - for advertising and other services. Unfortunately, community theater falls second. Community theaters like DMTC are often neglected even more, because they are outside the Sacramento city limits, but over the years, DMTC has been able to build up a loyal audience that will attend shows no matter how rabid a theater reviewer might get, thus giving DMTC some immunity. Would that all community theaters were so lucky!

I'm not sure everyone is aware just how rapidly the theater community has expanded in Sacramento in just the last ten years, nor how few reviewers the Bee has on its staff (fewer than ten years ago). Every year, when I attend the Elly Awards ceremony, I'm always dumbstruck by the vast number of people I've never heard of before. All actors are united on the proposition that the world needs to pay more attention to the groups to which they belong, but no daily newspaper could possibly keep up with every theater group in Sacramento short of perilous overstaffing. That's why I say, thank goodness for blogs!

It may be that there is a shakeout of the theater scene underway in Sacramento. Last year, when attending 'Nunsense' at Woodland Opera House, I overheard one couple talking about their plans to create a new community theater in the Natomas area, and all I could think was "NOOOO! There are many community theatres here already, and at some point, the audience pool won't be able to keep up!"

These sentiments aside, consider protesting anyway. Nothing like a squeaky wheel to get the grease. Maybe I'll go down and take some photos. But it has got to be a friendly protest, because Sacramento Bee is not our enemy in any regard - they are probably doing what they can within their means.

Here is the Call To Protest:
Dear theatre supporters, friends and associates,

The Studio Theatre is in trouble and our doors will be closed by the end of this month. A one-two punch delivered by the Sacramento Bee's theatre critic is going to shut us down.... I will not go quietly and I am asking all of you to help me. If you can march with us to the Sacramento Bee this Friday afternoon at 3pm, that would be great. If not, please send out the information below to your audiences. They can help support this grass-roots effort by email, letter or in person....

We will be meeting at The Studio Theatre, 1028 R Street this Friday, Aug 18th at 3pm and walk 10 blocks down Q Street to the corner of 21st and Q. Signs with support for local theatre (your company!!) and are welcomed. Additional suggestions and ideas are also welcomed.

Let's seize this opportunity to make some noise!

We are asking the Bee to consider the following:

1. Theatre in the Sacramento region is suffering dramatically. Audience attendance is down across the board by at least 40 to 50% and in some cases, even more. If we want to see small companies survive this dramatic downturn in business during these difficult times, perhaps it is time for a more active ongoing partnership and line of communication with the Sacramento Bee. The Sacramento Bee has practically a monopoly in town and currently there is one critic, one voice in a one paper town. This should not continue.

2. The Sacramento Bee can provide much needed support for The League of Sacramento Theatres, the non-profit organization that represents over 40 professional and non-professional theatres in the region by supporting

3. October 2006 will be "theatre month". Support, where audiences can go and express their opinion about the plays they see. The League has a grant from SMAC for an outdoor campaign for and we need support from the Bee!

4. The online Bee online, and might help arts organizations have a greater voice. Make the 21Q a blog that could be available to us, "voices from the trenches". 21Q is a blog that is currently a one-way stream (go to How about considering edited response so it becomes a dialogue. This is especially critical at this time, since the Bee staffing in the arts is so limited.

5. Help save The Studio Theatre. We have brought life, love and laughter to the community for the last 12 years, sometimes with only a wing and a prayer to keep us afloat. We will be closed by Aug 31st if we cannot rally support and fill the seats in the theatre.

This march will be covered by TV, radio and the news media alike. We can seize this opportunity and make some NOISE!!! I will not go down quietly! I am speaking for theatre, because that is who I am. The other visual and performing arts are all suffering, but it is up to them to rally support should they choose to join us.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Jackie Schultz
The Studio Theatre
1028 R Street, Sacramento CA 95814

The Studio Theatre produces contemporary works with a female perspective and a healthy dose of liberal humor.
"Peter Pan" - DMTC Summer Workshop Tech Week Starts

Here are some photos:

(Left) "Shhh! Pirates! Kristen Cunningham as Peter Pan. Emily Jo Seminoff is also co-cast in the lead role (but for this rehearsal, she appears in red as an Indian. (The girl playing Tiger Lily, Lauren Hamilton from St. Francis High School, in white right behind Kristen, has a first arabesque penchée to die for.)

Smee (Joey Lemons) and Captain Hook (Kennedy Wenning)

Captain Hook, Smee, and the Pirates.

Wendy (Anna Miles) contemplates the Hook! (Kennedy Wenning as Captain Hook)

Peter Pan the Avenger! Wendy (Anna Miles) and Peter Pan (Kristen Cunningham)
Some People Have The Knack....

And some people don't. This is actually good news, because Madonna doesn't really have the talent to play women far removed the self-willed domainatrix type (e.g., Evita). To succeed in acting, one has to remain vulnerable, in a way that self-willed people find intolerable:
Don't cry for her, Argentina: Madonna says that after giving the world such classics as "Body of Evidence" and "Swept Away," she's giving up acting in movies. "I hate to admit it, but I've decided to give that up," she said recently, on the road for her current "Confessions" tour. "How can any film survive if everyone says it's going to be a flop from the very day the project is even conceived? It's already dead in the water." (

Monday, August 14, 2006

Las Vegas Showgirls

Interesting blog post regarding the endangered Showgirls of Las Vegas, "the youngest, freshest and most beautiful dinosaurs on the planet."

I remember a dance professor at the University of Arizona talking about her Las Vegas Showgirl days. She had one story about trying to elegantly descend a staircase, in stilettoes, carrying a ginormous headdress, but after an ill-advised 'liquid lunch.'

Watch those staircases!
Atlantic Ratcheting Up

Tropical storm activity is beginning to look more likely in the Atlantic. It's mid-summer, and the Atlantic looks like it's beginning to get friskier....

So, will tropical storms nucleate this week, or will they remain typical tropical rains? Quien sabe?
2006 Elly Award Nominations

(Left) SARTA's Leslie Addiego opens the evening's activities.

Sunday evening at DMTC. Elly award nominations are announced to an excitable crowd of expectant actors and community theater buffs.

For me, the Elly Award nominations are always quite irrational - good shows get neglected, less-stellar shows get nominated, but in a haphazard manner that defies understanding. Tonight was no exception. For example Runaway Stage Production's Main Stage got few nominations, but their Storybook Theater got a blizzard, even though many of the same people were involved in both ventures. I couldn't be happier that Dave Lack got a Set Design nomination for 'Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Dark Castle,' but the set was actually designed for 'Victor/Victoria,' and hastily pressed into service for the children's show. But at least his hard, hard work was noticed, dammit! So many other people and shows were passed over, as is true every year.....

Everyone's a winner on nominations night!

Here is a link to Bev Syke's brief documentary on the evening. "Good theater only begets good theater," according to Steve Isaacson.

Here is the Sacramento Bee's list of nominees.
"Footloose" - Ron Cisneros' Summer Youth Workshop

Two (not very good) photos:

(Left) Friday night, Beaumont Cast. Opening number. In white skirt, Rusty (Emily Jo Seminoff). On right, Wendy Jo (Anna Miles).

Saturday night, Chicago Cast. Just prior to intermission, in 'Heaven Help Me,' with Sean Nill as Shaw at the front. Julie Soto is in the darkened aisle in the near foreground, but it's hard to make her out in this photo.

Excellent workshop. Better than last year's workshop. I saw the Friday show, but because A. wasn't quite finished with Saturday's backyard work, and I had time to kill, I ambled over to the 24th Street Theater and caught the last half of Act I.

Last Tuesday, I happened to pass by the theater on one of the last dress rehearsal nights, and I gazed in the side stage door of the 24th Street Theater. I did not know who was performing and I did not recognize the music. Later, I discovered it was the penultimate scene, at the Town Meeting, where the students in the audience start singing a kind of 80's-style rap song called 'Dancing Is Not A Crime', making the Town Meeting sound more like a revival. From the music, I gauged that the group must have been a church youth group of some sort, but I was perturbed by the memerizing nature of the music, and I felt the hairs on my neck stand up. I decided it must have been more of a cult than a regular church group. I wondered who the pastor was - Tom Cruise, perhaps?

Later, I discover from Erik Daniell's comments that the group was actually Ron Cisneros' Summer Youth Workshop. Aha! A cult indeed! The Cult of Musical Theater is the most dangerous of all. Ron Cisneros is a veritable Brigham Young of Razzmatazz!

The Friday cast (Beaumont) had some excellent performers. Will Finan as Shaw was just excellent. It was easy to forget that he wasn't a preacher. Julie Soto had a lot of depth as Ariel, particularly in regard to her R&B style of singing.

There is a kind of alertness that stage actors develop, out of sheer necessity. They have to be wide, wide awake. The most awake of all was Emily Jo Seminoff: her stage presence is magnificent. But because this was a workshop, where there were many neophytes on stage as well, there was a laxness among other cast members that was the biggest drawback of the show, for both casts. Well, at least there were some good models to emulate on stage!

The biggest differences in the casts regarded the protagonist, Ren. Casey Bowman (Beaumont) played Ren cool, whereas Elliot Mende (Chicago) played Ren as a cut-up. It seemed as if cool was the best approach, in order to distinguish transplant Ren from the locals, but oddly enough, cutup seemed to be the big audience pleaser.

In the Friday Beaumont cast, Anthony Smith made a fine redneck-type (Willard), and Sean Nill's comic, laconic cowboy mannerisms went over very well during the out-of-town saloon sequence.

As is often common in 24th Street Theater shows, many dance sequences were done in the aisles. On Friday, near me danced one girl, whom I nicknamed 'Prepared Girl,' because she seemed to be an ultra-alert stage sort of person, who sang loud and danced well. Turned out, it was Monika Neal, who played Ariel on Saturday night (Chicago cast). I didn't recognize Monika at first, because she had dyed her hair black, and she's changed appearance a lot during the last couple of years. Monika also did well as Ariel, although she came off as a little more vapid than Julie had been in the same role, which was fine - just a different interpretation. On Saturday, of course, Julie danced in the 'Prepared Girl' slot.

After the Saturday show, I returned to my back yard, and eventually A. and I ended up at Lyons Restaurant, where many of the cast eventually ended up as well. As the evening's festivities came to a close, they started an infectious series of hugs. Soon, it seemed everyone in the restaurant was hugging each other. Clearly, one close-knit theater workshop!