Friday, June 25, 2010

All Set


"One moment life is slow ...
Fate shows up
And hands you a show
And hello!
You're going up!"
Lynn Ahrens

DAY 259:  Three weeks from tonight!!  It's getting close.  We took a big step this week and finally moved into the theatre after the closing of the previous show.  Thanks to the folks at the theatre, our massive 2-story set is already well underway.  The scene above is from the trial of Leo Frank ... a lengthy, complex sequence nearly 30 minutes in length and including more than a half-dozen songs in succession as characters share their testimonies.  The show's in particularly good shape this far out, though we do have a way to go before we are officialy "going up!"  It's been exciting but also a bit frustrating in the new space, adjusting, adding music, and all.

I'm also grateful for a lovely message I received on Facebook from one of my cast members after a particularly annoying rehearsal last night, someone with whom I've done MANY shows.  It was a REALLY welcome message after a slightly trying evening.

"I wanted to take a minute and step back and be serious and tell you how much I'm enjoying working with you on this show. You seem to approach the musical as a complete piece as opposed to a series of musical numbers loosely tied together by dialogue (maybe that's just the nature of this show...but I don't think so).

I like what you are doing, I like how you are doing it and I'm having a good time. I have been in musicals in the past where the acting wasn't even addressed until tech week. I know you have, too...because we were in one together.

Here's to a great show. Cheers."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Forevermore


"This life was a life
And not a thing more ..."
Michael Lipp

DAY 258:  I have finished a first draft of the lyrics to my first complete song for the original musical Aaron and I are writing!  The song is called "Forevermore" and just a couple of the lines are quoted above.  The song's title is a SLIGHT hint at the subject of the musical, but it's definitely not a giveaway.  The song also contains quite a few words that aren't EXACTLY mine (as will many other songs in the show) ... but I can't elaborate on THAT, or it WOULD give it away!

I'm meeting with Aaron tomorrow morning for our first real WORK session.  She's got some musical ideas to run by me, too ... this could be EXCITING!  I'm so grateful to be collaborating with such a talented musician and songwriter.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch


"Let's hear it for the ladies who lunch ...
Everybody rise!"
Stephen Sondheim

DAY 257:  One of the joys of summer vacation is having the time during the day to have lunch and catch up with people that I don't get the chance to see during the school year when I'm typically too busy running from work, to home, and then to rehearsal.  Yesterday and today, I had the pleasure of sitting down with two of my "newest" favorite women ... Susan and MaryBeth. 

There could not be two more different ladies, but I love them both and felt nearly an instant connection when I started working with them on different theatre projects - Susan in Into the Woods, and MaryBeth in Our Leading Lady.  Susan, like me, is grounded, solid, and gently but firmly salt-of-the-earth.  MaryBeth is a "diva" in the best sense of the word - larger-than-life, wildly theatrical, and a bit high maintenance (and she'd admit that herself!).  Both, however, have indomitable spirits and an amazing passion for life, the people in it, their work, and the theatre.  Most of all, they are remarkably supportive and understanding friends ...

I hope it goes without saying that I'm incredibly grateful for the time to share with both of them and their invaluable friendship ...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Here Comes the Rain


"Here comes the rain again,
Falling on my head like a memory.
Falling on my head like a new emotion ..."
Annie Lennox and David Stewart

DAY 256:  It's summertime ... the heat is on, and BOY is it on!  So, I am grateful for the "set-your-clock-by-them" late afternoon thunderstorms that have started rolling through regularly every day, courtesy of the Florida coastline summer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Retail Therapy


"If you happen
To be rich,
And you feel like a
Night's enetertainment ..."
Fred Ebb

DAY 255:  OK ... so I was in a little bit of a funk today.  I had a choice ... stay in the house and EAT (my usual response to being "blue") or get out and get some RETAIL THERAPY!  My usual stops along the way are Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, and Target (or, as we "in the know" are wont to call it ... "Tar-jay"). 

Electronic gadgets definitely catch my eye. I've avoided electronic book readers SO FAR (Kindle, Nook, etc.), but this set of Bose home theatre speakers lit my fire.  I feel MUCH better now and I'm grateful for how incredible these speakers make my TV, DVD, and Blu-Ray shows and movies sound!  Ahhhhhh ...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tell My Father


"Tell my father that his son
Didn't run, or surrender.
That I bore his name with pride
As I tried to remember -
You are judged by what you do
While passing through ..."
Jack Murphy

DAY 254:  My father passed away in 1985, a day before Thanksgiving, at the much too early age of 48.  Not too long ago I passed him in years ... in fact, I'll be turning 50 in about six months.  It's been 25 years since he's been gone, and I still get a twinge when I pass the Father's Day section of the greeting cards leading up to the holiday and particularly on Father's Day itself.  We were not especially close, though we were not distant - in fact, as I've posted here before, there was probably a GREAT deal we had in common.  I have been told time and time again that I am my father's son, and I am CERTAINLY grateful for everything in me and everything that I am that he helped to create.

PS ... I also used this photo back in March, on my Dad's birthday, but it's the only one I've got.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Attention Must Be Paid


"I don't say he's a great man.
Willie Loman never made a lot of money.
His name was never in the paper.
He's not the finest character that ever lived.
But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him.
So attention must be paid.
He's not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog.
Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person."
Arthur Miller

DAY 253: I'm grateful for a WONDERFUL evening in St. Augustine with six terrific friends ... including a hysterical ride down and back with Lee, Josh, and Staci, a DELICIOUS curry chicken wrap dinner at Flavors, and a marvelous production of Death of a Salesman at Limelight.  What could be better than that?

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Company Way


"I play it the company way.
Executive policy is, by me, okay ..."
Frank Loesser

DAY 252:  We had our first full non-stop run-through of Parade last night.  This is a difficult show to rehearse a cappella (my Music Director is currently playing for another show), but it's in GREAT shape with three weeks of rehearsal still to go prior to Production Week.  I'm particularly grateful because the Executive Director of the theatre, Joe, watched the entire rehearsal last night and he was VERY pleased with what he saw.  LOOKING GOOD!  I really think it's going to be an astonishing production and I'm very eager (but not anxious) to start seeing the missing production elements (set, props, costumes, lights, orchestra) breathe REAL life into the show.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where There's a Will


"But there's a little saying,
And it's apropos:
Where there's a will,
There's a way."
Lynn Ahrens

DAY 251: Denny's ... 10:30 p.m. ... surrounded on all sides by yummy "pancake puppies" (fried balls of pancake batter), hamburgers smothered in cheese, french fries, onion rings, fried cheese, quesadillas, burritos, apple pie a la mode ... I had a small $2.00 GARDEN SALAD with BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE dressing. 

It's been clear to me that my late-night eating habits, particularly after rehearsals, have contributed in a BIG way to my weight creeping back up slowly.  Plus, I feel downright AWFUL the next morning after an evening junk-food fest (I felt GREAT getting up this morning!).  So ... I'm grateful that my will power is still INTACT!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Plenty of Nothing


"I got plenty o' nuttin'
And nuttin's plenty for me." 
Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward

DAY 250: Ahhhhh ... the first full day of summer vacation with NO meetings, NO appointments, and NO rehearsal tonight!  I wish I could say I was completely idle, but I did a few things JUST to make it look like I got something done today.  After staying in bed OBSCENELY late, I vacuumed, paid some bills and balanced my checkbook, did some laundry, and sent out e-mails to the casts of BOTH shows I'm now directing.  Tonight, I might write some lyrics, read a book, watch some TV or a Netflix movie ... haven't quite decided yet ... but I'm in no rush ... yawn ... stretch ...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

26 Years


"Out for summer,
Out till fall,
We might not go back at all ..."
Alice Cooper

DAY 249:  Thus ends my 26th year of teaching ... today was the last day of work and the last day of the 2009-2010 school year!  It's been a decent year, certainly MUCH better than 2008-2009, which was really quite terrible due primarily to teaching BOTH AP Calculus and AP Biology and a lot of rocky personal stuff.  Even this year STARTED a little rough with some unexpected heartbreak and a very trying and frustrating theatre project (though that one turned out fine once we got into performance).

What a difference a year makes, though.  A rather satisfying school year all-in-all, with a manageable teaching schedule (with NO AP classes), a focus on self-improvement, gratitude, awareness, and contentment with my "singledom," and a number of enjoyable and fulfilling theatre projects to add balance to my work life.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Not Trivial


"Da, da, da,
Da-da, da, da, da,
Da, da, da, da,
DA!
Da, da-da-da-da.
Da, da, da,
Da-da, da, da, da,
Da, da-da-da,
Da ... da ... da ...
Boom, boom!"
That Final Jeopardy Tune (no lyrics ;-)

DAY 248:  Another great night of Trivia with my teacher friends at Mellow Mushroom ... a new venue for us ... and we like it a lot better than our old one!  We had a perfect second round and came CLOSE with the final answer, but it's really not about winning.  Just a fun time ... and probably one of the last times we'll get to play with Joe and Chris on our team ...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Very Nice Beginning


"At the 25th Annual
Putnam County Spelling Bee,
My parents keep on telling me
Just being here is winning,
Although
It know it isn't so.
But it's a very nice
Very very nice ...
Very nice beginning."
William Finn

DAY 247:  Another set of auditions finished and another terrific cast assembled for my NEXT produciton of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee!  Although the turnout wasn't quite as large as I would've liked (or expected), it's an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G group of some of the best musical theatre performers in Jacksonville - they will blow the windows out of the small ABET theatre come September.  I look forward to working with them on this delightful and hysterical show once Parade opens in a number of weeks!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What Friends Are For


"Keep smilin' ...
Keep shinin' ...
Knowin' you can always count on me
For sure.
That's what friends are for ..."
Carole Bayer Sager

DAY 246:  Tonight we had a surprise going-away party for my dear friend and co-worker, Chris (the tall guy in the picture above along with his other half, Joe).  Chris and I knew each other in passing for many years through school activities (Teacher of the Year, Magnet Program), common friends, and also through some theatre connections (though we never actually did a show together).  It was only when I returned to Douglas Anderson about six years ago that we reconnected as we became co-workers.

Despite the "obvious" thing we share in common, Chris and I are both math teachers, both have a love of musicals (though his taste sometimes departs a bit from mine ... Joe's even farther), and though his is quite a bit more fanatic, a love for Disney as well.  I always felt like I had a "kindred spirit" while eating lunch or partying with the Math Department, and I have to admit I'm afraid there's a part of me that will now feel a little lost and alone in the lunchroom.

Chris is moving to Boston, where his other half, Joe, recently got a job with the Boston Globe.  I admire his brave "new start" and (though I've never actually told him this) I have incredible respect and, to be honest, TREMENDOUS envy for the strength and love in his relationship ... a level of commitment that is very hard to find in "our community."

I'll miss his energy, positive attitude, and friendship ... but I know we'll stay connected over the web and I'm sure we'll be seeing him now and again.  I'm grateful to call him my friend.  And, who knows?  Maybe a trip to Boston will be called for in the future - to see him, Joe, and my other friend "Cutie," I mean Jenn.

Friday, June 11, 2010

See Ya!


"Summertime ...
And the livin' is easy."
Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward

DAY 245:  Friday, June 11, 2010 ... noon ... the LAST set of students for the school year have left my room!  I've already cleaned the room, the walls are stripped, and just about everything is put away.  We have a couple of work days on Monday and Tuesday next week - mostly "wrapping-up" paperwork - but as far as we're concerned ... SUMMER VACATION HAS BEGUN!!  GRATEFUL ... GRATEFUL ... GRATEFUL!

12:25 ... the final school bell has rung ... lots of screaming ... SEE YA, kids!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Matter of Timing


"April, May, June, July, August, September ...
Six months out of every year!"
Richard Adler and Jerry Ross

DAY 244:  I knew I was asking a lot of myself.  I'm not the young 20-something who used to do one show right after another, while working at the same time!  But I had the opportunity in 2010 to direct three shows (at three different theatres) that I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to do.  Our Leading Lady was a wonderful experience for me, for the actors, and for the audience.  At the same time, I was juggling the Gilbert and Sullivan program for the Orange Park Chorale.  NOW, I have one show going into auditions while the current one still has another month-plus of rehearsal before opening in mid-July.  BUT, I'm grateful that all the timing seems to be managing itself WONDERFULLY!  Just as I'm about to hold auditions for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the school year is finished and Parade is fully on its feet (meaning no more directorial "homework" for THAT show).  It's all a matter of timing ... and this timing has worked out VERY VERY well!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance


"Behold the hills of tomorrow,
Behold the limitless sky.
Swing wide the gates
To a world that waits.
As our journey starts,
Behold our hearts are high."
Stephen Sondheim

DAY 243:  Graduation ... a pretty dull affair unless you're a graduate or a family member.  But it's one more sign that the end of the school year is at hand!!  And I'm particularly grateful because we teachers are typically released early from school to get ready for our 5:45 p.m. duty. It was great to be home by 1:30 in the afternoon ... of course, this time next week, I'll be home ALL DAY!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Square Pegs


"Strangers waiting,
Up and down the boulevard,
Their shadows searching in the night.
Streetlight people
Living just to find emotion,
Hiding somewhere in the night ..."
Journey

DAY 242:  When the pilot of Glee aired just over a year ago, I LOVED it.  My romance with the series has waned A LOT over the past year, but my gratitude for the show remains.  This story about the tribulations and triumphs of high school outcasts and misfits featured some of the most blisteringly jaw-dropping satirical humor I'd heard on TV in quite some time.  Interspersed with the hilariously non-PC barbs were BRIEF moments of totally unexpected and quiet sincerity and tenderness.

Particularly since the return of the show after a "mid-season hiatus," the show's focus and edge have been seriously dulled.  Now the show is less about the biting satire and it has become more a program of unabashed sentimentality.  Gone are those surprisingly soft and sensitive moments of heart, and the sharp humor has all but disappeared, too, hidden under layer upon layer of "warm fuzzy."

But this is a positive blog, so I'll come back to my point ... although I'm disappointed that Glee has lost what made it so wonderful for me in the beginning, I'm still grateful for what it has tried to do.  I appreciate its focus on the "square pegs" ... a role many of us experienced, especially in high school, and ESPECIALLY if you were one of "those" band and chorus kids who were never recognized by the popular cliques.  I'm also grateful for what I hope will be an increased appreciation for arts education and MAYBE even the perception by young people that singing and performing are "cool."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hodge Podge


"A little bit of this, a little bit of that.
A pot, a pan, a broom, a hat."
Sheldon Harnick

DAYS 235-241:  Tsk tsk tsk ... I've been seriously falling down on the job.  So, it's been a full week since my last post and, BOY, what a week!  Between work and finishing off the school year, along with rehearsals for Parade EVERY day, I've had very little time at home other than walking Annabelle and sleeping.  Instead of trying to create seven separate back-dated blog entries, I'm presenting a hodge podge, a medley, a potpourri, a mishmash, a grab bag, a melange, a miscellany of short expressions of gratitude in a single post that will hopefully cover my week of delinquency!  Here goes nuthin' ...

WAITING SUCKS ... I received my Blu-Ray editions of the first two seasons of True Blood this past weekend (with some of the bonus money that I'll mention just below)!  Along with Nurse Jackie, Mad Men, and Brothers and Sisters, it is one of my favorite shows on TV and I'm grateful to get the chance to relive my introduction to the eccentric, wicked, and often dangerous residents of Bon Temps, Lousiana.  The show was created by Alan Ball, who also penned the original Six Feet Under (another incredible HBO series).  OK ... so it's a series about vampires in Louisiana, but it's delightfully dark, sardonically hysterical, frightening, gory, and, yes, I'll admit it ... EXTRAORDINARILY sexy.  I can't get enough of it, and the NEW season also starts in less than a week!!

CHA-CHING! ... Six years ago, I became a National Board Certified Teacher in High School Science (with a focus in Physics).  It was a long, demanding process resulting in a huge self-assessment portfolio of writing entries evaluating our own teaching style.  The certification comes with bonus money both from our School District and from the State of Florida.  The District money is apportioned by paycheck, but the State money comes in a lump sum sometime during the year.  It used to arrive in a timely fashion right before Christmas, but it's gotten later and later each year.  Well, it finally arrived this past week and it will more than pay for my trip to Ireland this summer, PLUS SOME!

THE COUNTDOWN CONTINUES ... We are in the FINAL WEEK of classes!  We have five half-days with students this week as we administer final exams.  Although the teachers have to stay for a full day, there's nothing like shuffling the kids out the doors just after noon and having the rest of the day in the peace and quiet.  We teachers have two final "post-planning" days next Monday and Tuesday, but with the students GONE, even those two days seem like the official start of summer vacation.  It was a much better year this year than last, though I'm anxious to see what courses I'll be teaching next year.  Unfortunately, it may be quite some time (as usual) to find out what they are.

ON THE MARCH ... The most time-consuming project this past week was definitely my production of Parade, but I'm happy and GRATEFUL to report that the largest part of my task (and the job that requires the most out-of-rehearsal time) is completed.  The show is COMPLETELY staged.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the show, although incredibly complex in structure and size (not to mention a cast of THIRTY), was not as difficult to "put on its feet" as I at first thought it might be.  We've got a wonderfully workable set design (which I blogged about some time ago) and a hard-working, cooperative, and committed cast that have made the work much simpler.  It's been mostly a matter of placement, stage pictures, and traffic control, and I'm VERY HAPPY with the product so far!!

EARLY TO BED ... Because the tedious task of blocking the musical is finished, we are now in the "review" phase of rehearsals.  Fortunately this doesn't take as long as the initial staging, so we've been able to spend about an hour less each night in rehearsal.  I've been asking a lot of my cast recently, particularly the number of consecutive nights I've had to call them in, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to let them out a little early each evening.

SUNDAY FUNDAY! ... After yesterday's rehearsal, a group of about 20-25 theatre friends went out to celebrate my friend Staci's birthday and we had a BLAST ... as we always do when this wild, carefree, outspoken, naughty group of people get together.  I love these people and the joy, friendship, and companionship they bring to my life.  We spent a couple of hours at Mellow Mushroom (one of my FAVORITE places to eat) and then a number of us went to an outdoors beachside bar right on the water.  What a great afternoon and evening!

TIME AND MUSIC ... Some time ago in this blog, I mentioned that my friend, Aaron, and I were beginning work on a new, original musical.  Somewhere along the way, we both got really busy with our lives and the project went by the wayside.  My folder of research and my rhyming dictionary have been here on my desk at the ready, however, for the time when life became a little less hectic and I could start writing.  With school almost over and my Parade "homework" completed, it's time to get to work ... and Aaron's ready to do the same!!  We've reconnected and hope to get working on the project SOON ... our ultimate goal is to have a workable stage production ready for a local "Fringe Festival" to be presented at Players by-the-Sea this time next year!  And I'm still not telling you what it's about ... but I'm certain it will be WORTH THE WAIT ...