Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
howeird

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What this country needs is a 5-cent scar

I did the scar last night, and a couple of the cast members told me it worked for them. I wasn't sure if it would "read" on stage, it didn't look too impressive in the makeup mirror. During the course of the show the rigid colloidal pulled the skin tighter, and when I looked in the mirror to take it off it was pretty nasty looking - which is what I was going for. I thought it would come off with spirit gum remover, but it needed nail polish remover for whatever I couldn't just peel off.

Rehearsal last night was a notch better in several ways, but my song was not so good. All I need is a drum cadence, and I'm not getting it. It's coming in late, and the drummer is losing the rhythm about 8 bars into the number. Okay, so I have been hearing this cadence since I was five, and the drummer is just learning it. But it's not that hard. I can play that beat and stay on it, and I'm just a hack as a drummer. The orchestra is out of sight in the wings on the other side of the stage, so we don't have a conductor we can look to for the beat. I wish it was not too late for us to ditch the stage extension and put the orchestra where it belongs, at the foot of the stage. All of us are suffering from not being able to see the conductor, and the fact that the accompaniment usually doesn't give us the tune or the beat.

I've done two other shows with the orchestra out of sight, and it worked because the orchestrations were straightforward, Bells Are Ringing at Foothill College. Simple 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures and the melody line was always somewhere in the instrumental score and it was a tiny stage with the musicians only a foot or two away. Anything Goes with Northwest Savoyards in Everett, WA - it was a small swing band, and they were up above the main stage, between two long staircases at the back of the set. Again, easy rhythms, melody everywhere. There's a clip from that show here which shows the orchestra in its crow's nest, about a minute into the song.

All in all, though, I am having fun. There are no prima donnas, the cliques are not obnoxious or closed, they just stem from having worked together a lot in the past, and/or being related to each other. The ASM and props person are both going above and beyond backstage, the opposite of the "it's not my job" attitude. The last-minute fill-in conductor is working her tush off to try to make things right, and although we have lots of talented musicians in the orchestra it's a moving target - every night there's a different mix of personnel, due to the usual conflicts. That's a major challenge for a conductor. And it's difficult music printed poorly.

I asked the question about power blackouts, reminded when the traffic signal at the nearest corner - Saratoga & Fruitvale - was out (it was still out leaving rehearsals). The protocol is to freeze, wait for the emergency lights to come on, and follow whatever instructions come from the SM. Works for me. I've done a couple of shows by flashlight, and one in total darkness (Under Milkwood was more of a staged reading than a full theater production anyway). Sancho tells me they have never lost power at this theater, but they've also never had this kind of heat this early in the year.

I am so looking forward to tonight. It's preview, we will have an audience for the first time. Last night the six or seven people in the seats tried real hard to applaud and laugh but it needs about 40 in that theater before the actors can start to feel it.


"What this country needs is a good 5-cent cigar" was a popular political line when my father was a lad, or so he told us. According to bartleby.com it was originated by Vice President Thomas Marshall in a remark reportedly made to Henry M. Rose, the assistant secretary of the Senate, while Marshall was presiding as president of the Senate. The episode is detailed in the New York Tribune, January 4, 1920, part 7, p. 1. There are numerous other sources, including Marshall’s autobiography, Recollections of Thomas R. Marshall, caption facing p. 244 (1925), and Charles M. Thomas, Thomas Riley Marshall, p. 175 (1939).

Tags: theater
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