August 24th, 2009


HMB, Tommy Midnite Show and stuff

Let me just say that Half Moon Bay on a Saturday night is not one of the nation's hot spots. The only things open after 10 pm are Safeway, CVS and one hotel bar which was jam packed with wedding party guests.

Coastal Rep's midnight show of Tommy was sold out, after a mostly sold out run. I won't make too many digs at it because the cast , orchestra and crew had just had a full weekend of shows, including one which let out at about 10:45 that night. Considering all that, the energy level was way high, everyone in the cast and orchestra gave 110%, and so did the audience. It was an Event.

So let me get the one slam out first. Tech was horrible. Time and time again booming bass-frequency feedback drowned out the performers. Looking at the speakers at intermission, the pair of big-boy woofers on stage right were facing into the stage, not into the audience. That could have been a large part of the problem. There were also multiple times when singers' mikes weren't turned on until they were half a line into the song. Light cues also were messed up here and there - except for the opening number, the aerialist's performance was mostly in the dark. That was not only annoying but also dangerous.

Before the start of the show, the director read a note from the tech crew demanding that all cell phones be turned off, not just silenced, because the handshaking between the phone and the cell tower interfered with the theater's communication system. I have two things to say about that - first, "airplane mode" solves that issue, and most cell phones have that feature. And second, if your system is so lame that it gets munged by the minuscule keep-alive signal from a cell phone, you need a new system. One with wires.

And one mild dig - Bobby Conte Thornton, who plays the title role, is not as hot as he thinks he is. He was very good, it's a challenging part and he'd already done one performance that night, but I think his fans have gone to his head a little bit. I've seen better, yes, even at his age (the program says he's a high school Junior).

Moving onto the good news. There was a lot of outstanding talent in the cast. Robert Coverdell, who played The Lover, sang in the chorus, and was resurrected several times as a featured dancer, was outstanding. Anna Robertson did a breathtaking job as the aerialist, both on a large ring and also on a pair of cloth streamers suspended from the ceiling. Jordan Shepherd, who played 10-year-old Tommy was amazing - I hope being abused, beaten and whirled around on a pinball machine in the wee hours of the morning doesn't kill his theater bug. He had several tough entrances to make, and he was spot on. Also impressive was Brendan Quirk as evil cousin Kevin. The actress playing Kevin's moll, listed in the program as "Patty O'Furniture", also showed a deep understanding of the dark side.

There were lots of interesting costumes, including lots of choir robes, and the two older Tommys' white suits, various uniforms, kabuki masks and hippie dance outfits. Costume designer Lisa Claybaugh did a good job. Huge kudos go to co-set designers Rich Allen and Alice Engelmore who built a very basic pair of ramps up to a long narrow platform with dance poles, put the orchestra up there behind a scrim , and used minimalist rolling set pieces and the occasional love seat, which cast and crew (but mostly cast) wheeled in and out with clockwork precision. I'm not sure whose job it was to choreograph the set changes, but give that person a medal because they were many and they were flawless. I do have to say I was bothered by the lack of flipper buttons on the faux pinball machine.

Choreography was somewhat frenetic, but everyone on stage knew what they were supposed to be doing, and there was a lot of dancing. Kimberly Krol choreographed the show.

One of the features was a projection system which used the orchestra scrim as a screen. It provided a constant background for most of the show, and I have mixed feelings about it. The good news is the projection program was cleverly done, added to the feel of the scenes, and obviously a huge amount of editing work went into putting it together. The bad news is because it was so well done it distracted me big-time from the show itself.

The orchestra, under the direction of Ken Crowell, played their hearts out. After the show was over they kept going and going and going for the spontaneous on-stage partying. I love the French Horn part in this score and it sounded great. The program lists Katie Sablinsky and Nina Levine on horn. Guitarists Ross Dakin and Michael LaGuardia wailed and riffed and took it to another level.

Director Michael Lederman put together a phenomenon. So many things had to be coordinated for this show to not be a train wreck, and he did it. A standing ovation from 200 glowstick-waving audience members proved that.

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    French Horn solo from Tommy
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Spanish Rose

From time to time I buy some CDs from Thailand which are of the "various artists" type. The big recording houses use them to hype several singers' work, sometimes to push a bunch of new single-artist albums, sometimes to introduce a singer who doesn't have enough songs recorded for an album but maybe has a lounge act or a TV show.

So I'm in the car pulling out of the Costco parking lot when a particularly lovely women's voice starts singing in Thai about how it's hard to hold hands with a lover who is far away, and I look to see what track it is (7) because I want to look up this singer and see if she has a CD out. And just as I am thinking this I hear her sing the word "corazon". There is no possible combination of words in Thai which could possibly make that sound. Not even remotely. So I hit the reverse button, and back up to the beginning of the phrase, and she goes seamlessly from Thai into something that sounds like Portuguese. Something about time and heart. And then it goes back into Thai, except for a quick "yo no sé" at the end of a line.

Back home, I look at the playlist for track 7, and it says the song is A Tu Corazon (Spanish, not Portuguese, for "To Your Heart") and in Thai สู่กลางใจเธอ which means something like "share the center of your heart". A web search on the singer's name, โรส ศิรินทิพย์ (Rose Sirintip) and I find lots of songs by her in English, but only this one with any Spanish in it. Her English is flawless, but her Spanish - not so much. Her bio says she grew up in Hong Kong, which explains the English fluency. says she has a few CDs and VCDs out. I played some of her Youtube clips, and they are very good. Someone to listen for, definitely.

My Doctor Is Out For Blood

So last night my last ingestion of non-water was at about 8:30,  because I was planning on being at the lab 12 hours later for my routine fasting bodily fluids tests. But I stayed up late writing on LJ and The Book of Face, and slept in past both alarms and Domino curling up next to my face with her industrial strength purr attachment on full force. Long story short, 10:30 am I finally strolled into the lab. It wasn't too busy, I was out before 11.

On the way home I made an emergency stop because I was all out of mint chocolate chip, and running low on bananas.

Home, made myself a brunch from my boyhood, smoked white fish, hard boiled eggs, cheese, and a croissant (aka Bagel Helper). The cats yelled at me a lot for not sharing.

With nothing on the agenda for today, I popped King Kong into the DVD player. This is not your father's King Kong, and I used the fast forward button a lot. Casting was done by the B team, nobody really fit their characters. Naomi Watts is no Fay Wray, Jack Black doesn't even approach Robert Armstrong - he made the last line of the movie sound like the most trite cliché evar. There was maybe twice as much back story as we needed, at least four times as much oversized animal violence, and enough compu-gen brontosaurus stampede action to provide stock footage for every museum of natural history on the planet twice over. And it took forever to kill the beast. There was some good work - close-up cinematography was excellent, set dressing and the 1930 NYC repro was incredibly detailed. The "Sunrise with Kong and The Blonde" scenes were beautifully done.

Now that the laptop is charged again, I think I'll go home and pick the best of the model photos from Saturday to post on Flickr. BASFA tonight, I think.