albadger: (Hitchcock)
There's a Sainsbury's in Euston Station, and after I get back from the theater it's more convenient (and cheaper!) to buy dinner there & carry it back to the hotel. So of course I need to get a new bag for 5p every time. I know they will be of good use!

Today I took a little detour that I've been dreaming of for years, and rode out to the Leytonstone station on the Central line to see the Hitchcock Mosaics... I took pictures of course, and they're horrible, other people have documented these better than I did, but it was great to see them in person.

Matinee was "the Master Builder" at the Old Vic, with Ralph Fiennes in the lead, solidly translated and performed, and, even better, my seat was next to a pillar AGAIN! They make the best seatmates, though the lady on the other side of the pillar engaged me in conversation and was quite interesting. She approves of my plan to eat haggis in Scotland but warned me that "there's good haggis and there's bad haggis."

Evening show was Hangmen from aging infant terrible Martin McDonagh. Enjoyable enough from moment to moment, but it failed to build and repeated a lot of the writer's go-to tropes. More to the point, if anybody gives you a free ticket for Balcony A-26 in the Royal Court Theater, DO NOT GO. Don't go even if they offer you money, up to $750. It's not really a seat, it's a little angled bench tucked off the side of the stairs, with barely room to side facing sideways, and you have to turn at a painful angle to see the stage properly. Only 20 £, which by my count is 558.38 £ overpriced. Happily, Sainsbury's has aspirin. And I have another Sainsbury bag!

Tomorrow, Shakespeare in the indoor theater at the Reconstructed Globe, and then the Caledonian Sleeper! Very excited by that.
albadger: (Named Death the Streetcar Is)
Did I not post in Amsterdam? No reason to, a very brief trip, nothing much happened. I actually turned the TV on to Comedy Central and just knitted. Comedy Central in the Netherlands, as it seems to be in Germany, is just repeats of American sitcoms, mostly the animated ones. In Germany they dub them all, in the Netherlands it's all in English with subtitles. Bob's Burgers and Archer are the best in either case.
Then the ride from Hoek van Holland to Harwich, a "ferry" that approaches a cruise liner in ambience, including two decks of very nice cabins. Those cost a pile for the night crossings, but in the daytime they give them away for peanuts, so I grabbed one and had a very refreshing nap. Perfectly calm seas, and we were part of a HUGE convoy, so it seemed -- in reality it's such an incredibly busy shipping lane there will always be a bevy of ships out your window. Also passed an offshore wind farm, very dramatic. The bus ride from Harwich to London, a bit less so.
Now at a hotel next to Euston Station (pronounced "Houston," and a flash back to the Netherlands here, Gouda is pronounced "Howda"). Tuesday through Thursday are about going to theater, and it's total conicidence that every one of the shows I'm going to is right on the Northern line of the Underground, which goes through Euston (actually here because the sleeper train to Edinburgh leaves out of this station).
Tuesday being over I can talk about the first two shows. I hadn't bought a Tuesday matinee ticket ahead of time, assuming I'd be spending all day getting laundry done, but laundry only took an hour, and the St. Martin's Theater being nearby, I tubed over and bought a cheap same-day ticket to <a href="https://www.the-mousetrap.co.uk/Online/" target=new>the Mousetrap</a>, world's longest running play. Meh, it's okay, serviceable content-free clockwork in the Christie style, and the lead role was played with a great deal less subtlety than the community theater in Castro Valley managed a few years back. But the theater itself more than worth the price, a delightful 1916 jewel-box, so I had a good time. A short refreshing nap during Act II did NOT mean I didn't enjoy the show. Just that I found it restful.
Evening show was much better, Jeff Wayne's concept album <a href="http://www.dominiontheatre.com/theatre/war-worlds/" target=new>War of the Worlds</a> is being staged, with Wayne himself conducting. Kind of a must-see, though I was a bit worried when the publicity material played up Liam Neeson, who pre-filmed segments. Was it all going to be canned, I fretted. No need to worry. Live (if heavily amped) 13-piece string section and 11-piece rock-style band, chorus of oodles, all the sung parts done live. The theater's been rigged up for fancy lights, fire effects, projection screens, and surprise giant props. Actually came off more like a rock concert than musical theater, and was great fun. But this will NEVER get brought across the pond, I'm afraid. Oh, extra points for the understudy who went on for the Artilleryman, and was both Fabulous and Boffable.
Trying to keep the theater to things that WON'T cross -- tomorrow matinee is an Ibsen at the Old Vic with Ralph Fiennes, so probably not transferring to Broadway. And that's also on the Northern Line!
albadger: (Badger's Bad Mood)
One of the worst theatrical experiences of my life was the production of La Bête in 1992. 22 and a half years later and I still shudder when I think of that afternoon. I left the theater shaken and disgusted, swearing to myself that I would never again buy a ticket for a comedy composed entirely of rhymed iambic pentameter, set in the French Ancien Régime.

Which, in retrospect, makes it odd that I bought a ticket for another comedy composed entirely of rhymed iambic pentameter, set in the French Ancien Régime.

This was a little different; the Metromaniacs is an adaptation of an actual French play, not a pastiche like La Bête... and the costumes on this one didn't make me want to retch. But still, something about this combo pushes all my buttons. I found myself trapped in my seat (oh how I love aisle seats & grieve when I don't have one), squirming, filled with a sense of existential revulsion. First act was less than an hour, but I couldn't make it that far; I begged pardon of the two women between me and escape, and cut out. I'm still a little shaken.

I hate that this happened. And it's entirely me, not a reflection on the quality of the work; everybody else there was having a great time. And it's not a reflection on the French, either, whom I love as a people and consider more polite on average than the English, even though the third worst theatrical experience of my life was Pelléas et Mélisande.
albadger: (Fabulous Ones)
I'm in Washington DC, or close to it -- staying at the Hyatt in Arlington, and here's the view from my room:
IMG_20150227_085119
Here for theater, with 2 opera performances as the centerpiece, but I'm filling in with random non-singing stuff, starting with Synetic Theater's Much Ado about Nothing, which isn't not non-singing, it's non-speaking, not actually Shakespeare but a dance-movement piece based on the Shakespeare play. Great fun, and, more importantly, right on a Metro stop, you don't have to go outside!

Because it's cold.
albadger: (Disneyland 2011)
Hello again from NYC -- now in the lobby of the Milford Haven(sic) and logging on one of the iMacs they have available for free use of patrons... which contrasts mightily with the $14.95 a DAY for WiFi if you want to use your Windows or Linux machine. So I'm now required to learn the details of an alien OS, and could use your help, Apple-user readers. To change the little icon picture for the post, what the HELL do you do? There must be a way but I can't figure it out.

Today, took in the 9/11 Memorial -- LOTS of walking, because they've got the fountains open, but the rest of the area is a dirty construction zone; the visitor line snakes hither and yon to avoid falling-debris areas. The fountains are beautiful, but just piss me off & get me depressed. Watching the falling water made me think of the people who fell out of those buildings... and their lives are being memorialized here, but the shits who committed the crime, and the shits who deliberately let it happen, thought no more of those human beings than they would a drop of water.

The shits who did it are all dead. Good. The shits who enabled it still live in luxury and privilege, get interviewed on TV daily, and command large speaking fees. One of them is listed as being on the Board of Directors for the Memorial. Which pisses me off & depresses me.

Oh, I also got to see the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse, which fortunately did not list Ince as being on the board.

On to MOMA, one of my favorite museums ever -- Starry Night in one room, Picasso's Chicks of Avignon in another, Monet's giant water lilies, sleeping gypsies, one treasure after another. Saw an artist named something like Ensol, and the paintings looked shocking and new for 1940 -- but they were from 1887! I gotta learn more about this guy. There was also a film installation from the 1960s, with a naked man & woman throwing a beach ball back & forth in a small apartment living room. Reminded me of the Star Trek blooper reel for some reason. I can't imagine the stern museum guard thought much of my guffaws.

Tonight I'm going to see a show I didn't even know existed yesterday morning -- the Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. Got the ticket at the TKTS half-price booth. The story is Kind Hearts and Coronets, and they've got one guy playing all the aristocratic characters who were played by Alec Guinness in the movie. So, why the change in title? Why haven't I heard of it? Am I about to fulfill one of my lifetime goals and see a Broadway flop on Broadway? (I've seen any number of them in San Francisco previews, but never ON Broadway).

It's stars Liza Minnelli and Mickey Roarke.

Only time will tell.
albadger: (B. J. Lang presents)
Went last night to see Falstaff at the SF Opera, in the company of [livejournal.com profile] progbear. A great performance, with a nifty production, marred slightly by the soubrette's illness (she couldn't continue after the break, so we all waited 90 minutes while they trucked in another soprano, who sang from brook on the side while the original performer mimed the part), and my own ails (left leg spent the last act screaming in agony & drowning out the singers, at least for me). Which has nothing to do with the rant. Here's the rant.

2013 is the 200th anniversary of Verdi's birth, and is also the 200th anniversary of Wagner's birth (also Benjamin Britten's 100th but that's off-topic). SF Opera is doing Falstaff this year, and also the Flying Dutchman, and they say that this is "in celebration of the 200th birthday of our operatic geniuses." And I'm all like, no, it's not, you cows. These are central rep operas that you would be doing in any case. Now, if you were to do Giovanna d'Arco, like Chicago Opera Theater did, or die Feen like Leipzig, now that would be in celebration... but chestnuts? When all you do lately is chestnuts. To quote Jon Stewart, don't fart and point at the dog.

Rant complete. Return to regular programming. Tonight I usher at a play!
albadger: (Brendon is a pretty lady)
First thing I've done that I've done before -- riding Eurostar from Paris to London. We were 45 minutes late because somebody got sick & had to be taken off the train, so if I'd left 30 minutes later I would arrived 15 minutes sooner, I guess. Finally, back in a country whose language I am no worse at than I was 20 years ago! Well, a little worse. Though for some reason the very nice hotel still only has WiFi in the lobby. No pictures again, thanks, Holiday Inn Express! But the hotel is perfectly located for the weekend's activities, just a short walk to the riverfront, a right turn to Shakespeare's Globe, a left turn to the South Bank Centre.

Tonight, the Tempest at the reconstructed Globe. I've been to London several times since the theatre was finished, but only in Winter, so this was my first opportunity to see a show here. And sold out! I had the seat farthest on the circle, second level, so I saw a lot of actor butt. It is a great theater, wonderful acoustics; if I get to come back someday I will brave the standing room "groundling" section. I say that but I like sitting down.

Show was superb, unsurprisingly; they even found the comic rhythm for Act 1 Scene 2, which can be awfully dry, and the masque in 4.1 actually got vigorous applause. Alas, the Clump'o'Nobles in 2.1 couldn't be brought to life, but I've seen billions of Tempests and I've never seen that scene work, so okay.

I should admit that I panicked and thought I was late, and ran to get to the theatre, only to find I was an hour ahead of time; still on France time apparently. I took the extra time to walk across the Millenium Bridge, which gives you a nifty mid-river view of Tower Bridge, and doesn't trigger my acrophobia at all.

Which doesn't mean I'll agree to ride the London Eye. But that's tomorrow.
albadger: (Brendon is a pretty lady)
...but it happened too fast.

Yesterday was our big rehearsal for Arcadia, the first time (!) we've run through the whole play, and less than a week before opening, and I get there a little early, in time to chat with leading man Paul S (he's brilliant as Septimus Hodge btw). "So what did they ask you to bring?" he asks. "You know, in the email?" I haven't looked at my email since Friday. All Praise to Apple, I can pull up my email right there. "Noakes (that's me) - please shave off mustache," says the email, which arrived at 1:00AM. Great. They're doing publicity photos.

You see, what I'd planned was, I'd videotape the shaving of the mustache and post it to YouTube. It'd go viral, I just know it would. No time for that, I take the few minutes before we began the run to walk down to the CVS and get shaving supplies (this would have taken less time if the strange woman I assumed was homeless and was actually an employee hadn't been noisily restocking the section while mumbling to herself about political conspiracies). Back to the theater, and in the dressing room there is much bloodletting and pain. Also, Magnificent Costume Lady gives me a pair of boots I can actually fit into (I learn later in the evening that I cannot take them off). Fully in costume and appropriately shorn, I find myself greeted with delight by cast and crew. "You can do Ben Franklin for your next play!" they cheer. Oh Holy Effing Satan how I hate being clean-shaven. Esp. with long hair. It's so Effing wrong.

In Media news, had lunch with [livejournal.com profile] bestbear_icanbe and was treated to Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde, a recommended lightweight delight, little knowledge of the orginal film/book required (a little would help). Premise: Perky Blonde Lawyer goes to DC to fight against animal testing. Not real DC, of course, but an alternate reality where every good deed is rewarded, no adversary cannot be won over, and no good person ever has a goal unmet. A fairy tale, and a very funny one indeed. Beautifully cast from tiny bits for Octavia Spencer and Jackie Hoffman up to star Reese Witherspoon, who in the Golden Age would have had a special unit at Paramount just to make vehicles for her. Scott thinks it didn't do well financially because it's just too gay, but that didn't stop Rambo: First Blood Part 2 from raking in the bucks, so who knows.
albadger: (Carol Channing!)
Last night took Beloved Tenant to see Xanadu at NCTC, my first live theater excursion of the year and a complete hoot (don't get too excited, I think it's totally sold out). Yeah, the leading lady sang sharp, and the leading man sang flat, and the musical accompaniment was canned, and the unison high notes in "I'm Alive" were truly painful, but you know what? All of this just contributed to the joy. Hell, it's camp, that's half the fun. We were both especially taken with Nikki Arias, who played villainess Melpomene (not present in the movie, and correcting one of the movie's flaws by supplying an actual adversary - not as important as correcting the MAIN flaw of the movie, which the musical also does by not featuring Michael Beck). So I'd say, go, but I think it's sold out. So, go when somebody else produces it.
Other news is exclusively work (new database, inadequate training for new team launch, no surprises) and rehearsal. My part in Arcadia is tiny - 27 lines. Which is fine with me because I'm lazy so it's less work. I'm really appreciating Stoppard for one thing -- a number of the parts in the play are small, but every one of them is interesting and gives the actor fun choices. Yeah, half my lines are "Thank you, your ladyship," but it's how it's said that matters. Also fun is the costume, which for me will emphasize my girth. You really need to come see this.
albadger: (Brendon is a pretty lady)
Everybody needs a day like yesterday every now and then, if only to confirm to oneself that one prefers campy movies with pre-show drag comedy to ballet.
albadger: (Brendon is a pretty lady)
Everybody needs a day like yesterday every now and then, if only to confirm to oneself that one prefers campy movies with pre-show drag comedy to ballet.
albadger: (Hank on the phone)
I first read "Macbeth" when I was 12. Barely a year hasn't gone by that I haven't read it again. I've seen dozens of productions of it. And yet...

...only tonight did it dawn on me that the porter says, "Knock, knock. Who's there?"

Yet another thing Shakespeare invented that he doesn't get credit for. Or blame.
albadger: (Hank on the phone)
I first read "Macbeth" when I was 12. Barely a year hasn't gone by that I haven't read it again. I've seen dozens of productions of it. And yet...

...only tonight did it dawn on me that the porter says, "Knock, knock. Who's there?"

Yet another thing Shakespeare invented that he doesn't get credit for. Or blame.
albadger: (Default)
Today was the afternoon of staged readings of short comedy plays, starring me & 6 other actors at the Live Oak Theater in Berkeley. I was Drunk Santa in a a nicely written piece (Santa and the elves get right-sized by Jesus); I'd done the piece before at a table reading and had been asked to reprise my Drunk Santa. Quite the honor! Getting to know the hugely talented director was great -- we only had a few minutes to go over each piece, but she hit all the points and made the process seem smooth. I enjoyed meeting the other actors as well, great people.

One performer in particular, name of Janice, had the first of the short pieces with me (we played an eldery computer-challenged married couple), so we had time to chat. She was from San Diego, and had been in shows at the Old Globe... at least one of which I saw. She was Mistress Quickly in the 1965 production of Merry Wives! Kinda cool stuff.
And tomorrow San Diego is where I'll be, going to spend about a month there to help out while my Mom recuperates from surgery. Last semi-staged reading for me for a while.
Update: Good friends [livejournal.com profile] progbear and [livejournal.com profile] bigjohnsf were in attendance. Thanks, guys!
albadger: (Default)
Today was the afternoon of staged readings of short comedy plays, starring me & 6 other actors at the Live Oak Theater in Berkeley. I was Drunk Santa in a a nicely written piece (Santa and the elves get right-sized by Jesus); I'd done the piece before at a table reading and had been asked to reprise my Drunk Santa. Quite the honor! Getting to know the hugely talented director was great -- we only had a few minutes to go over each piece, but she hit all the points and made the process seem smooth. I enjoyed meeting the other actors as well, great people.

One performer in particular, name of Janice, had the first of the short pieces with me (we played an eldery computer-challenged married couple), so we had time to chat. She was from San Diego, and had been in shows at the Old Globe... at least one of which I saw. She was Mistress Quickly in the 1965 production of Merry Wives! Kinda cool stuff.
And tomorrow San Diego is where I'll be, going to spend about a month there to help out while my Mom recuperates from surgery. Last semi-staged reading for me for a while.
Update: Good friends [livejournal.com profile] progbear and [livejournal.com profile] bigjohnsf were in attendance. Thanks, guys!
albadger: (Cat at the Birdbath)
Parked at the Hayward Peet's right now with [livejournal.com profile] scottasf; we would have gone to a movie but it's all kinda crap, except for the latest Resident Evil movie, and I promised my sister-in-law that I'd take her to that when I got down there next week.

She was silent for a moment after I made this promise. Then she said, "Uh huh," very slowly.
If you're in the Berkeley area tomorrow afternoon, worse things you can do than go to the Live Oak Theatre and see me (and others) in a staged reading of 8 short plays. It's free, and I play Drunk Santa in the last one. My laptop also has a starring role in one piece, which it earned by having the power cord plug on the left hand side, which will be downstage. The director's laptop' power plug is on the right side, thus upstage and less visible. Of such minutiae are great careers born.
albadger: (Cat at the Birdbath)
Parked at the Hayward Peet's right now with [livejournal.com profile] scottasf; we would have gone to a movie but it's all kinda crap, except for the latest Resident Evil movie, and I promised my sister-in-law that I'd take her to that when I got down there next week.

She was silent for a moment after I made this promise. Then she said, "Uh huh," very slowly.
If you're in the Berkeley area tomorrow afternoon, worse things you can do than go to the Live Oak Theatre and see me (and others) in a staged reading of 8 short plays. It's free, and I play Drunk Santa in the last one. My laptop also has a starring role in one piece, which it earned by having the power cord plug on the left hand side, which will be downstage. The director's laptop' power plug is on the right side, thus upstage and less visible. Of such minutiae are great careers born.
albadger: (B. J. Lang presents)
You go one day without posting, and what happens? Stuff piles up. Stuff like
  1. Macbeth at Cal Shakes in Orinda: My friend [livejournal.com profile] marshlady is surprised to hear me say that this is probably the best Macbeth production I've ever seen. Not a high bar, most Macbeths bite; they make the Witches into lead characters, they strip away the ethical edge of the show, it turns into a Jay-Cee Halloween Haunted House (check the Polanski film for a sad example). CalShakes' did the opposite (and correct imo) tack by contrasting the crimes of the lead couple with other characters who choose to behave decently, even in the face of great danger. I usually don't care for cobbling together the minor characters to make new minor characters, but this worked beautifully (didn't hurt that they had Delia MacDougal, James Carpenter, Stacy Ross & Jud Williford in the cast). The Malcom/Macduff scene still stank, though. Why don't Shakespeare directors ever listen to be about that scene?
  2. In the Wound by Shotgun Players, Dottie Hinkle Park: Highly recommended on style alone -- Shotgun does everything they do with panache and brio. Is "brio" French or Italian? I prefer to couple adjectives from different languages. Uh... back to the play itself, a Trojan War souffle that managed to be repetitive and cryptic at the same time. I've breathed the Trojan War since I was 6 (and yes of course I hated the Brad Pitt movie), so if I can't figure out what's supposed to be going on, who could?
  3. the Clash of the Titans remake in glorious 2-D Blu-Ray: I wasn't expecting to like it, given the reviews; after the scene in the Argos court I was thinkin' "if it stays on this level, we got a camp classic," but it settled down to be entertaining fun, a bit too serious but enjoyable. Scott was surprised I liked it as much as I did. What he didn't know was I'd just watched Galaxy of Terror on the DVD, so nearly anything would be a step up.
  4. Galaxy of Terror on the DVD: Uh... I watched the shit out of it. It was totally a movie.
  5. Sorting through boxes of financial papers in my squalor-filled TV room while watching Galaxy of Terror: I was looking for the papers I need to file my 2008 and 2009 taxes (yeah baby), but I also found some Amazon.com gift receipts from a CoinStar run, a check for 8 bucks from my Dentist from a few years back, and (gulp) a $125 check from when I was Warm Body #5 in the Lafayette Town Hall Theatre production of Miracle on 34th Street. Aw, heck, well, if I can't cash it I can frame it. Proof that somebody was willing to pay me money to act.
Off to SF Shakespeare Festival for their take on Shakespeare's worst comedy. I will bring my own food.

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