How I spend my Friday Night

I am sitting in the dressing room right now at the Village Theatre. The men’s dressing room to be exact because they have  wifi reception, while the ladies dressing room does not. Also honestly, its fun hangin out with the boys, like sitting in a room full of singing and dancing brothers. So what happens when I am not on stage?  I get ready for my next entrance, read, try to knit socks, watch from the wings and laugh (very quietly). The actors of The Full Monty are a funny entertaining bunch.

While in the dressing room, the show is piped in  over the intercom system, so we are always connected to what’s going on. We get to hear it all, our lead Dane Stokinger who plays Jerry rock a song or Ellen McClain, who plays Jeanette  become a breathing and walking lesson in comedic timing. Both of these veterens are a delight to watch and hear. Honestly, all of the cast is quite fine. It is really is an honor to share the stage with them.

Another Opening…

This past Thursday was the opening of The Full Monty, and what a week it has been. Prior to opening night, I have spent several nights in technical rehearsal. Technical rehearsal or  otherwise known as Tech Week is likened to a first date.The actors who have been working in a plain, relatively empty room for two weeks under the careful eye of the director are introduced to the set, costumes, lights, sound.  Like a first date, it is an exciting, awkward, flirtatious moment, causing much giddiness. However for all of the excitement and newness, the unlimited patience and focus of marriage is what is required for sanity and necessity. Tech week is the time for the cast and crew to figure out how everything works: When do the lights go off? What lights go on? When the stage needs to move, how do you move it without running over the actors while they are musically pontificating? You get the idea.
And then, before you know it, it is opening night! All of a sudden the  jokes that have gone unrecognized or dry due to repitition and overfamiliarity  are funny in the presence of an audience. The audience is the missing link, the catalyst that makes the evening magical. Village Theater has a tradition of previewing the show before opening night called Friends and Family Night. The audience is made up of …well friends and family of the cast.  This being my first Village Theatre experience, I asked a Village veteran about what to expect. She dryly  said, ” You can poo on stage and they would love you anyway.”.  Thankfully, the “poo” factor was low that evening and she was right, the audience hooted and hollered with joy, the whole evening. Everyone on the cast was high as a kite with happiness.
The Full Monty is a fun show, great music, great story and did I mention the stripping? Well it is called The Full Monty after all!  Tickets are available now, go to: http://www.villagetheatre.org/full_monty.php

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New Playground…

Yesterday was our first day on the set of the The Full Monty.

Everybody was a little giddy with excitement. Up to this point we have

been rehearsing  in a rehearsal  space with the stage dimensions

and levels defined with various colors of tape on the floor; a lot of

imagination was required to make our surroundings real. Going to a

larger space and more exciting playing field makes the Monty

experience more real. What becomes more real? The fast approaching

opening night date September 17th. Yikes! As well as making  the world

of The Full Monty, Buffalo New York, 1992, a living breathing place to

be.

While we have been rehearsing, the crew have built this amazing set

that has a spiral staircase, stage components that move, and so much

more!  (I don’t want to give too much away. )  Opening night, the actors

may get the applause, but the real respect  goes to the crew and the

director, stage managers and all the folks that coordinate thiswonderful playground for the actors!

Link, Ethel Merman, There\’s No Business Like Show Business

In the eyes of…

There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it.

Mark Twain

I was feeling good.I had an audition in Seattle, I was

rested,  my clothing all matched, no holes in stockings or underwear.
And to top it off, the I-5 commute was especially kind, giving me
plenty of time to park, sit and breathe,  walk to the building and sit
and breath again, before my audition. Giddy with the intoxication of
being in the zone.I  gathered my things from the car to walk to the
Seattle Center. Before locking the door, I saw my glasses sitting in
the cup holder.
I knew, as soon as I saw  them that I should take them with
me and  I even had a brief visit  from common sense with the very
audible thought, “you should take these with you.”
I should have suspected that there was trouble in my mental
ranks because there was  an immediate counter that made all the sense
in the world in the moment but in hindsight reveals the kind of crazy
that causes  those who truly love us to roll their eyes, mouth a few
words of disbelief and walk away.
“Nah,  they’ll mess with my line.”
For those who are bewildered by this line of thought-no pun
intended.  Line is the silhouette that an outfit gives. Good line
flatters the form and give one the ability to walk into a new
situation feeling James Brown good. Gentleman, this is why your wife
or girlfriend  will demand that you carry her wallet  when you go out
for a night on the town. She doesn’t want her line to have unnatural
bumps or bulges. She has worked very to get  all the bulges to go in
the right direction and stay in place-hence that is why you have become the
designated wallet lackey. You are going a great service.
I know. This logic in the big picture come off, well…vain
and crazy. Se la vie.

So in the best interest of line, I left my glasses in the car
cup holder.  Feeling certain that the current condition of my eyeballs
that required the use of such spectacles would step aside for the sake
of art.
This was not the case.
My audition was no longer an exploration of character and job
interview-it was a music lesson. More specifically a trombone concert.
The script I was reading became the visible slide to my invisible
trombone. I shifted  the paper away and toward my face in the hope
that the words would stop swimming or at least stop breaking up on the
page.
My audition became a performance piece entitled, “Humility, destroys
line.” I would like to think that the director and the person that I
was reading with did not notice my little silent concert.
As I returned to the car and saw my glasses still sitting in
the cup holder, I laughed to myself at the thoroughness of this lesson
learned. Like a good line, there was optical illusion.
Line is good, but be sure to take the glasses.

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I’ve got a brand new pair of….shhhhh

Publicité de 1908 vendant des patins à roulett...
Image via Wikipedia

Recently, guitarist Vince Brown and I  had a chance to make a music together and as usual, had a grand ole time.

We had a chance to share our musical alter egos, Red and Ruby,  filling a couple evenings with  tunes from the 20’s and 30’s with a few contemporary  tunes thrown in.  With Red, it’s always new, the arrangements, well, they are never the same twice, which always keeps it fresh.

You know what else keeps gigs fresh?  The audiences. A song sparks a memory in a listeners mind which bubbles up from some deep recess  of the past and it has to be shared.   Songs for many people are aural journal entries, marking time, the sweetness and the sour.

At one gig, a  woman, whose name I didn’t catch, related how she loved to dance, but her dad wouldn’t let her go to dances because there was an army base near by and well, you know how soldiers are. Vince and I nodded. She then got a sparkle in her eye, ” But my father couldn’t stop me from dancing,” she paused dramatically. ” I got a medal for artistic roller skating.”

Honestly, she lost me. A who, huh, huh huh wha?  “Artistic roller skating.” She  repeated these words, probably  because my mouth was slightly ajar as the Google in my mind returned “no search results.”

“Yeah, artistic roller skating was real popular,”  she said.  And maybe I had been  reading too many Weekly World News headlines while waiting in line at the supermarket, but I could have sworn that she looked over her shoulder and lowered her voice a little before adding “until the ice people shut us down”.

You can do what  I did and go on line to learn more about ice skating’s  secret sibling. Who knew?

I must admit, my mind enjoys chewing on a conspiracy theory with this new knowledge. Ice skaters,  shrouded by the darkness of an empty locker room, hacking off the wheel frame with a newly sharpened ice skating blade, separating it cleanly from the boot, laughing a little maniacally  minutes before  the  big rollerskating competition begins.

Ball bearings swimming with the fishes.

It was at that moment, I realized that it was time to sing. This thinking stuff can get dangerous.

Did I mention? It was a good gig.

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Oh so true, Mr Wilde…

Oscar Wilde in 1882.
Image via Wikipedia

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.
Oscar Wilde

What a great quote. Oscar captures the gravitational pull of what keeps a performer performing and keeps an audience, coming back and wanting more. It’s curiosity, it’s a search for affirmation of what it means to be human.
Not all forms of entertainment (theater, movies, live music etc.) affirm our humanity, Lord knows, but occasionally, just occasionally, an audience gets to see a work that subtly educates and opens mind as well as hearts. I recently went to Lynn Nottage’s latest offering, Ruined at the Intiman Theatre in Seattle. Our story begins and ends in a small town in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, where Mama Nandi runs a bar and brothel. With live music, a powerful story and down to earth characters the audience gets a glimpse of what happens to human beings when they are stressed by the realities of war.

I am sure I could Google and find lots of information about the effects of war on women and men in Democratic Republic of Congo, or grill the local reference librarian for books and articles about this tragedy; however books and search engines would give me the linguistic description of violence and rape only. Theatre, can tamely bring the eyes of one’s heart to the doorstep of any part of the world.

Needless to say, it was a heart stirring evening. My heart went to a place that I knew little about geographically or emotionally; and although it is no substitute for the real situation, I got a sketch of what another human being’s walk might be. I watched fellow audience members cry, gasp, hold their breath as they went through a roller coaster of emotions.

As an audience member, Ruined, reminded me why I perform. As an actor I get to explore my own humanity. I am forced to figure out what makes a character tick; which inevitably gives me clarity about what makes me (and other folks) tick. This character exploration makes my world…bigger. I re-learn in a very intimate way that everyone for good or bad does not see the world as I do and I am forced with that knowledge to see how small and dependent, I actually am. If I am doing my job right, I get to make an impact. Being part of an audience absorbed in this “play” about a place more than 8500 miles away made me grateful for my profession. To be part of that sort of power is a marvelous thing.
Sometimes, when I tell people that one of the things that I do is act, they nod and smile in anticipation, hoping that I will stop being so damn dramatic and tell them what I really do. Next time when someone asks me what I do, I’ll say that I am a cardiologist. “Oh I specialize in treating and preventing diseases of the heart. What kind of diseases you ask? oh you know.. hardening of the heart..things like that it’s a serious problem.
Yeah, it really is and that is what I am grateful to have the opportunity to do.

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Have You “Misbehaved”?

Hello all-

Hope this note meet you well, happy and reasonably dry! I have been having a great time in Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Centerstage Theater in Tacoma. This show is good for whatever ails you! It is two hours of shakin’ and shimmying to the music of Fats Waller.

This weekend is your last chance to see this show, tickets are available at http://www.centerstagetheatre.com/.

Hope to see you!
LaVon

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The Bard, Fats, & Red…all coming soon!

Happy Birthday Shakespeare.. you sure do write purty!

In celebration of William Shake sphere’s birthday– April 23rd 1564 to
be exact for those of you who want to send him a congratulatory tweet
–Shakespeare in the Parking Lot in cahoots with the Tacoma Arts
Commission is hosting a Shakespere- a-thon, this Friday and Saturday,
April 23 and 24th. More information is available here: http://www.sitpl.org/ShakespeareathonApril2010.html
.

Yours truly is in the Friday 6:30 show Richard II, appropriately
renamed Regina II, for I get the opportunity to play Queen Regina II.
Regina II will be a moving show, in that the show will be both indoors
at the Speakeasy Arts Collective, 222 Broadway in Tacoma and on
various locations on Broadway! Bring your gortex and fleece and come
out and see Shakespeare in a new light. Read more…

Friday, April 23rd:
THE FIRST 4 PLAYS
6:30pm – Richard 2 (Regina II)
8:30pm – Henry 4 Parts 1 & 2
11:00pm – Henry 5
If you are unable to join in the celebrations, pepper your
conversations with “forsooth” and “anon” and see how good it feels!

Mr Waller I presume…
I am currently in rehearsal for the Fats Waller musical review, Aint
Misbehavin, with Centerstage Theater in Tacoma. Opening night is May
21st! Show times and dates can be found at http://www.centerstagetheatre.com/
. This is wonderful show, two rip-tearin, throw-down hours of Fats
Waller songs. Just try to stay in your seat for this one!

Lions,Tigers and Red and Ruby Lights Oh My!
This weekend is Artwalk!, Procession of the Species, and the gorgeous
Luminary procession It just isn’t spring in Olympia ’til you see a 8
foot dung beetle in the middle of 4th Avenue. Red (Vince Brown) and
Ruby (that’s me, the short one) will be at Swing Wine Bar Saturday
night April 24 at 9:30. Drop by after the Procession; We would love to
see you!

Until next time…be well and be kind.
LaVon

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Jazz (and such) Monday at the Royal Lounge

Greetings everyone and happy spring…uh winter, no spring. Definitely
spring. Almost.

I swear to you that I saw a chickadee at the feeder at our kitchen
window wearing leg warmers. Really! But I digress.

I want to invite you to the Royal Lounge this Monday 9:30-midnight.
Yes, I know it is late but I will be playing with fine dressin’
guitarist Vince “Crazy Fingers” Brown, Syd “Sweet Lips” Potter on
flugelhorn and crazy but calm Carey Black on bass! We will be doing
all manner of things jazzy and jazz related.

The Royal is located at 311 Capitol Way North, Olympia. There is
plenty of parking. Need more info? Call them at (360) 705-0760.

Hope to see you soon, and for those of you who can’t make this gig due
to its late hour, earlier gigs are afoot.

Be well and be happy,
LaVon

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