Friday, September 24, 2010

A Reason for a Prick

Rick Moranis in the 1986 film version.

Back in college we had to do an "audition" as our Musical Theatre final exam.  It wasn't for a show, just a practice audition to prepare us for the "real world."  I sang "Grow for Me" from Little Shop of Horrors.  Jimmy was playing the piano while Richard (the then MT professor/choreographer) sat cross-legged on a stool with his clipboard, questioning our talents.

At the point in the song where Seymour nips his finger on the Audrey II's thorns I skipped any physical indication of injuring myself and continued on with the song.  When it was over they both just stared at me. 

"What?  Was it awful?" I asked, desperate for some sort of praise.

Richard shifted on his stool, tapped his pencil against the clipboard and looked at Jimmy.  Jimmy, with glasses shifted down on his nose, glances half at me, half at nothing, and says "I can't believe this."

At this point I'm sweating.  Was I that bad?  CRAP!

"I don't think I can say this," Richard sighed, staring at his clipboard.  

"WHAT?" Exasperation was setting in.

"I just," pause for drama, "I just..." WHAT? "I just think you need a good prick."

Stunned silence.  Jimmy, with lips pinched, trying not to smile, returns to the piano as if he's on the hunt for some long lost key that was lost eons ago.

Gay humor by my professor.  And not the last time it would happen.

My Best Friend's Gay Wedding... and other adventures

Last weekend I was honored to be an attendant in my best friend's wedding (not the movie, although that too would have been delightful).  Steve was marrying Jay and it would be my first gay wedding.  Of course, politics what they are and since the Berkshires are beautiful this time of year, the wedding was held in Massachusetts.

The wedding was held on the grounds of The Inn at Laurel Lake, a quaint B&B, overlooking the lake near The Mount.  As if by magic the weather was beautiful, as were the grooms... the wedding party wasn't so bad either if I do say so myself.

Stephanie, Steve and I (pictured) were inseparable in college.  We were in shows together, partied together, got into zany adventures together... it goes on and on.  In one such moment of foolishness we decided to begin working out together.  This usually meant that Stephanie and I would wander around the gym gossiping about the other members while Steve wandered around the gym offering to spot would-be athletes.  What always followed was ravenous hunger and we would race across the street to one of the campus cafeterias and eat our weight in Chick-fil-A waffles fries.  One evening we were just stepping out of the Bubble (as the gym was called at UT) and as we began across the street Stephanie went flying face first onto Andy Holt Avenue.  A trip to the ER followed in which Steve and I watched an awards show on the waiting room television while waiting for Steph to be bandaged and released.

But that was umpteen years ago and the wedding was the first time the three of us were together since our school days.  It's amazing how time passes so quickly and if you're not careful it can zip right past you.  Thankfully, regardless of how many miles are between us, we three have stayed close and had the chance to share this amazing day.  In a way I feel like we renewed our vows as best friends.  So, a second toast to the blushing grooms and a new toast to future mishaps together.  Cheers Steve and Steph!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Heathers: The Musical" or "Why I Love a Moviecal"

I had the best time last night at Joe's Pub.  Months ago I heard that a team of creatives including Tony Award nominee Laurence O'Keefe (Legally Blonde) and Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness) were putting together Heathers: The Musical, based on the 1989 film, and immediately got on the horn (in this case, Facebook) and declared that everyone in my circle was going to go with me.

With the kind of expectations I had set for the event it was entirely possible that I was going to be disappointed.  But this amazing cast, which featured Annaleigh Ashford (Legally Blonde, Wicked) as Veronica and Jeremy Jordan (West Side Story) as J.D. along with an amazing trio of Heathers played by Jenna Leigh Green (Wicked) as Heather Chandler, Corri English as Heather McNamara and Christine Lakin (Reefer Madness) as Heather Duke, totally lived up to everything I had hoped for. And while Director Andy Fickman (Reefer Madness) wasn't part of the cast per se, he did provide biting and witty stage directions while periodically reminding the audience that "it will look awesome in a fully-staged Equity production."

Fully-staged or not, the show was a blast.

Several friends scoffed at the prospect of seeing "another movie turned musical" and complained that "there's no new stories" and "I don't want to see what I've already seen... done poorly".  Well friends, I scoff at that notion.

Movies-turned-musicals are a part of the fabric of the American theatre. Take for instance the following:

  • All things Disney - Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid
  • Billy Elliot
  • Catch Me If You Can*
  • Cry Baby
  • High Fidelity
  • Legally Blonde
  • Nine
  • Nine to Five
  • Shrek
  • Sister Act*
  • The Wedding Singer
  • Xanadu
  • Young Frankenstein
  • *planned for Broadway
And of course, many of our Broadway classics were based on other material to start too.
  • Cabaret was based on John Van Druten's play I Am a Camera which was based on Christopher Isherwood's novel Goodbye to Berlin
  • Damn Yankees is Faust
  • Guys and Dolls came from Damon Runyon's short story The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown
  • Hello, Dolly! came from Thornton Wilder's The Merchant of Yonkers which he later retitled The Matchmaker
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying came from a how-to book of the same name
  • Kiss Me, Kate was inspired by and uses the original Shakespeare play The Taming of the Shrew within its own story
  • Man of La Mancha came from Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote
  • My Fair Lady comes from Shaw's Pygmalion which Shaw took from Greek mythology
  • Oklahoma! came from Lynn Riggs's 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs
  • South Pacific came from James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific
  • The Pajama Game came from Richard Bissell's The novel 7 ½ Cents
  • The Wiz came from The Wizard of Oz (with references to both the MGM film and the original Baum stories)
  • West Side Story comes from Romeo and Juliet which Shakespeare himself based on the story of Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid's Metamorphoses
  • and of course, Wicked came from Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
In the end, the old adage may prove true, that there are no "new" stories to tell... just variations on old ones that we revisit, reorder and retell from time to time.  

Aside from the problem of "we already saw that" there is the second issue that many commercial producers have to consider.  If you're piling tens of millions of dollars into a Broadway musical, you want as close to a guarantee as possible that some people will want to see it... and the familiar starts to look like a safe bet.  "Did you like the movie Legally Blonde?  Then you'll love the Broadway musical!"  I believe it is far easier to get people into a show if you're offering them something that they can relate to.

So go buy a ticket to a "moviecal" and enjoy.  I'm pretty sure you will... if you liked it's predecessor.  

Monday, September 06, 2010

"Park"ing Failure - The Governors Island Food Truck Fair

So, we went to "Parked" yesterday on Governors Island, thinking we were in a for a fun Labor Day weekend adventure.

We were wrong.

Starting out we were lucky enough to get to the ferry at the Battery Maritime Building at a decent hour, so the line to get on the boat wasn't atrocious.  However, as the line moved into the terminal the staff was clearly unprepared for the number of people vying for a taste of the food truck fest.  The orderly line soon devolved into a chaotic mess, with the ferry terminal staff arguing over the system and eventually telling the crowd to amass near the door to the boat. People who had been waiting longer, like us, where now just part of the mess and once the doors were opened the stampede pushed us, squeezing through the bottleneck, as though there was gold to be had as you boarded the ferry.

Once on the island we were directed to Colonel’s Row where the trucks were parked, only to discover that some thousand people had already made it there and were corralled into massive lines.

We filed into place in the line for Hallo Berlin and waited some 20+ minutes when, realizing the line wasn't moving, Ren headed to the front to see what was causing the clog.  Turns out only one person was serving under the white tent and so each order was taking several minutes.  We scouted around, considering the other trucks in attendance (Red Hook Lobster Pound, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Hermelinda Mexicana, Kelvin Natural Slush Company, Rickshaw Dumpling and The Cinnamon Snail) but saw that the lines were as long or longer.  In particular, the Red Hook Lobster Pound line spread beyond our own line and far behind the beer stand.  Weighing our options we gave up.  Our 40 minute subway ride plus 20 minute wait at the terminal plus 10 minute ferry ride plus 20+ minutes of waiting for German sausages that were slow coming resulted in over an hour and a half of stomach grumbling hanger.

We cut our losses and decided to explore parts of the island that we'd missed previously... and to search out the regular food carts that we knew were dotted around the island.  After tromping around for a bit we ended up near St. Cornelius Chapel where we found a lovely Greek husband and wife team who were thrilled to have customers who had drifted from the frustration of the "Parked" event.  Handing us our food with a huge smile we then enjoyed our lunch on picnic benches and breather a sigh of relief that we had escaped the crowds.

Getting home though was another matter.

The line for the ferry back to Manhattan wasn't so long, but the wait was.  The larger of the two ferries arrived, deboarded and then sat still at the dock for 20 minutes.  We could see the second and smaller of the two ferries leaving the Manhattan dock and heading our way.  After 10 minutes it too arrived at the island and deboarded.  Then the staff decided it should let the bicycles and pedestrians cross the exit path from side to side and then finally we were allowed to climb on board for the journey home.

All in all, a failed Labor Day weekend adventure.  The ferry system and the "Parked" administrators needed to be better prepared for the crowds.  So much could have been done to make the event fun and spectacular, but in the end it was a terrible bust.  Next time, we'll just go straight to Hallo Berlin's Hell's Kitchen restaurant and skip the madness.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Busted! Sleeping in the Girls' Dorm Room

I was going through some old boxes recently and came across my old student ID from MTSU.  As a senior in high school I had a very important decision to make.  I had to choose between going to The University of Tennessee which was only 40 minutes from home and a world-class leader in education... or going to MTSU which was 3 hours away from home but offered me the enjoyment of two of my best girl friends.


So I obviously went to MTSU.  The only downside to living in my 165 square foot door room was my assigned roommate.  Bubba, as he was called (and I kid you not) was what you don't want in a roommate.  The tallow tuba player (again, kid you not) kept a foot locker near his bed filled with Hostess and Little Debbie snacks... which was more than welcome except that I was forbidden to touch the savory sweets.

Over the course of the first semester I came to understand that Bubba and I were not going to make it.  His love of Speedracer, tuba practice and keeping the A/C at a frigid 40 degrees overnight (which led to several visits to the campus clinic for inflamed lungs) forced a wedge in our could-be friendship until I couldn't take it anymore and moved out at Christmas.

The girls (see above: best girl friends) were rooming together in a dorm across the quad but were looking to get an apartment off campus and we decided that our codependency was working for us and that we should all three move in together.

It would be hard leaving Bubba and his treasure trove behind... but I persevered.

We found an apartment about a mile outside of campus and quickly turned in our rent ($400 total per person for the spring semester in 1993 dollars - $603.49 in 2010 dollars).  The apartment was a dump but it was our first real place as adults and we didn't care.  But that's for another day.  (Stay tuned.)

For now we needed to get all of our stuff out of the dorms and into the apartment so that we could begin our grown up lives.  I stopped into the girls' dorm building and dropped of my student ID at the front desk (that was protocol to ensure that boys didn't stay overnight).

The move went smoothly but I forgot to reclaim my ID from the front desk.  Winter soon passed and the spring semester began... when suddenly I received a letter from the Dean of Students.  I was being put on judicial probation for "sleeping in a girl's dorm room".

I was aghast!  How could anyone think I was sleeping in a girl's dorm room?!  Didn't they know me well enough?  Wasn't it clear from my use of the word "aghast".  I mean, it either means I'm gay or a pirate (or both).  

I mean really... while both of my best friends were beautiful women, neither had the power to convert me to heterosexuality.  Just wasn't going to happen.  I wrote a strongly worded letter to the Dean explaining the misunderstanding and I think I was let off of probation after they saw that I signed my letter with a smiley face. I think.  I'm not sure to this day.  But whatever was done to my permanent record has had no impact on my present situation.  Maybe that little slip even gave me some unintended street cred with the school's administration.  It would explain the thumbs up I would get from unknown men and woman in their mid-50s as I strolled through the University Center.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Puberty 2.0

In the past 24 hours I've suddenly had an attack of puberty all over again.  It seems that acne has come back to haunt me after losing the War of 1993.

Adult acne (which is misleading because it is no more respectful than teenage acne and far more humiliating) is incredibly annoying.  WebMD has a deliciously horrifying definition for what is really just Mother Nature's curse upon the oily-skinned.
"At the heart of acne lies the pimple -- what doctors call a comedo. It's a plug of fat, skin debris, and keratin (the stuff nails, hair, and skin are made of) stuck in a hair duct. When it's open, we call it a blackhead. When it's closed over, we call it a whitehead. Whiteheads often cause the walls of the hair duct to rupture. This leads to redness, infection, and the papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts of acne." — WebMD
They say acne can be caused by stress.  I would love to know exactly what my skin has to be stressed about.  Brain?  Yes, it is stressed.  Body??  Hell yes.  It is also very anxiety-ridden.  But my skin doesn't have to do anything but stick to my muscles and bones and keep things out.  It even does this when I sleep, so the fact that it can be stressed is incredibly taxing... which causes my brain to work overtime, causing my body to work harder to support my brain... which causes my skin to freak out because it has to compensate for everything that my brain and body are doing.


Discovery made.  This body is all interconnected and if one part is having issues everything is goes all out-of-whack.  

Thankfully, because of the Labor Day weekend, I'm off for five straight days and I will be doing my best to de-stress.  Many days of quiet reclusion are just what the doctor have ordered.

Fingers crossed that these plagued pores will be good as new on Tuesday.