Category Archives: Art & Entertainment

Dracula Performances!

Dracula Halloween 2010

Come one! Come all! Dracula is being performed by the Swamp Meadow Community Theatre starting this weekend with yours truly as the blood sucking fiend himself!

Be frightened at the blood curdling horror!

Be amazed by the fantastic action!

Be floored by my hair-dye job!

Details:
Oct 30 at 2:00PM and 7:00PM
Oct. 31 Halloween at  8:00 pm
Nov 5, 6, at 7:00 PM
And Nov 7 at 2:00 PM

Captain Isaac Paine Auditorium
160 Foster Center Rd. Foster RI
(At the intersection of Rt 6 and Rt 94)

$10 Adults $5 Students  &  Seniors (Family pricing $30 max)

Box Office 401-397-6671 or @ swampmeadow.org

See the official web page for more details.

 

Dracula

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I auditioned for the next Swamp Meadow Community Theater production, Dracula, last Friday. I read for Dracula, Van Helsing, Jack Seward, and thought about reading for Quincy Morris or possibly Renfield. I decided to avoid Renfield as I was concerned about getting locked into being a character actor. Henry was a blast in The Fantasticks but I am more interested in playing a fully formed character rather than someone who is more caricature than character. I figured I was best for Van Helsing given my physique and that I have dutch relatives I could call on the phone to get the accent down. I read Dracula on a lark but not really expecting to get it.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call that I was cast as Dracula. I have been getting more excited by the day since I found out. Dracula is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Henry. While both demand attention, they do is in completely different ways. Henry demands people look at him, demands the spotlight (literally), and goes out of his way to emphasize his age or frailty to get attention. Dracula commands attention by sheer power of personality. He has a palpable strength, an underlying malice, and radiates power. When he is in a room (or on the stage) all eyes are on him because you can’t help but look at him. He does nothing specific to call attention to himself and yet he gets that attention. He is also, in the words of the director, a thug. He’s a warrior, a strategist and tactician, and conniving. He takes what he wants but can be subtle when necessary. He’s going to be a fascinating character to get to know and I can’t wait to start rehearsals and get to know the rest of the cast.

Until then, I am reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula (for the first time!) and getting to know Dracula through his words. The play is inspired by the book rather than being an adaptation and the character will not necessarily be the same. But it’s a good place to start. I also want to re-read The HIstorian though not for character research so much as because it was just such a great book. And I am walking every day now. While the director doesn’t need or want the thin-as-a-rail stereotype and prefers a broader-shouldered figure, I am feel that I have some work to do to get my body where I want it for this role.

This all reminds me of when I was in High School. I had had a long run of playing comic relief parts. When Oklahoma came up my junior year, I read for Will Parker assuming that that was the role I would be getting. The director asked me to read Jud Fry and I did to humor her. But she cast me in that role saying that there was something chilling in the way I read it. It ended up being one of the best experiences I had as a young actor (the best being playing Matt in the Fantasticks at about the same time).

The show goes up around Halloween. The next four months are going to be a lot of fun!

Doctor Who

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Without spoilers, let me just say that this last season of Doctor Who with Matt Smith as the Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond has been utterly fantastic. I have loved nearly every moment of it and was so glad to see that the ending was… well, not Russel T. Daviesesque. Stephen Moffat is doing an amazing job and I hope he continues it for many seasons to come. Well done!

(Images from Springfield Punx by Dean Fraser)

Laurie Anderson: Homeland

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Anyone who knows me knows that I have long been a huge fan of Laurie Anderson’s work (dating back to High School when Paul made me listen to O Superman (For Massenet). In college I studied a lot of experimental and modern music and spent endless hours locked in the Bregman Electronic Music Studio composing strange things, much of which was deeply inspired by Anderson’s music. When Strange Angels came out, I remember after I finished DJing a dance party at my Co-Ed Fraternity, I put the new CD on and I pulled a small couch to the middle of the empty living room and listened to the whole thing at 2 in the morning on the sound system. To this day, my friend JIm and I are likely to start a conversation by quoting Hansel and Gretel in The Dream Before: “Hansel and Gretel are alive and well and they’re living in Berlin. She says, ‘Hansel, you’re really bringing me down.’ And he says, ‘Gretel? You can really be a bitch.'”

When I learned a few weeks ago that she had a new CD coming out based on a few years of live shows she’s done around the world, I was beside myself. I listened to it on NPR’s website, streamed up until the album’s release yesterday.

Homeland harkens back to her earlier works reminding me more of United States or Big Science than the more recent works such as Bright Red. Anderson talks about how the music is far more improvisational, that she went on the road without anything being complete or settled and worked with different musicians and spaces and ideas and how the music evolved over time. It has a spontaneous feel to it while still being deeply grounded in what I easily recognize as Anderson’s style of sound (though I couldn’t begin to properly describe it, and I’ve tried!)

The music is also more political than I remember her being in previous works and I like it very much. The song Only an Expert, easily my favorite so far, pokes good fun (though with an undercurrent of anger) at the modern sound machine that politics, news, and discourse has devolved into.

I actually went to a Fye and purchased the physical album rather than getting it on Amazon or iTunes as is my usual M.O. music in part because it comes with a DVD that I would not have otherwise gotten and in part because there are a few artists that I still prefer to have physical media than pure digital files.

An album release like this is one of those rare events that I love. I don’t often get to completely lose myself both in music and the memories the previous releases bring out in me. It’s been too long since her last album. I hope I don’t have to wait so long for the next one.

Fantastic

The Fantasticks Rehearsals

We’ve completed the first of two weekends of The Fantasticks and the show has been going very well! I was worried in the middle of last week — our Wednesday rehearsal wasn’t confidence building — but by Thursday it all fell together and the subsequent three performances were really good! Come on out and see us this weekend, our final weekend!

The Fantasticks!

FantasticksLg10-239x300.jpgAfter 25 years, I have finally fulfilled a longtime dream of mine: to get back on the stage and do a play again! In a few short weeks I will be appearing in the Swamp Meadow Community Theater’s production of The Fantasticks. This is one of my all time favorite shows. I performed in it in high school as Matt, the male lead. Now I am playing Henry Albertson, an old actor, quite theatrical and vainglorious for his supposed glory days and lost youth. Every time I have seen this show (and I have seen it many times over the years) Henry has always stolen the show so, as you would expect, I am having a ball with the part. You can reserve your tickets at the Swamp Meadow Box Office and show dates are May 21, 22, 28 and 29 @ 7:00 pm and May 23 and 30 @ 2:00pm at the Isaac Paine School in Foster, RI.

I have been regularly photographing rehearsals (any that I am in are courtesy of my son who came to a rehearsal) and just having so much fun. The cast is great and the show promises to be, if you forgive the pun, fantastic.

Why I Get Annoyed at NBC’s Olympics Coverage

Ok, so a friend of mine is pinging me on Facebook for my disparaging comments on Bob Costas and wonders why I am so down on him. So, this is my attempt to explain my feelings on this vital-to-our-lives matter. First, let me preface this by saying that I am not a sports guy. I’m a big Red Sox fan and I love watching the Olympics. But I do not live and breathe baseball or Olympics statistics. I cannot name any athletes competing aside from those few famous names that everyone knows. I know a lot about the Red Sox but any dyed-in-the-wool fan can stat circles around me. I just enjoy what I enjoy and don’t really care to delve much deeper than that. I am not that guy in the bar who will go on for 45 minutes about some arcane subject while your eyes glaze over. Well, at least not about sports at any rate. So, that’s me. Casual fan. Continue reading Why I Get Annoyed at NBC’s Olympics Coverage

Recent Music

It’s been some time since I’ve written anything (here, lots of writing elsewhere) and my friend Carla suggested I review some recent music purchases (which may be her way of getting me to stop IMming her these reviews as I listen…) So, without further ado, I’ll start working through the last few months of new music.

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Death Cab for Cutie: Narrow Stairs This album came out just this week and I’ve listened to it maybe 3 or 4 times (not including the songs stuck in my head on infinite repeat!) and I am enjoying it a lot.

They start out their first track, “Bixby Canyon Bridge” with a much harder sound than I’ve heard from them before, lots of cacaphony and noise but offset by the lead singer’s high and comparatively thin voice, which gives it an overall interesting effect.

The track getting all the airplay is “I will Possess Your Heart” and is either an insightful song about how hard relationships are to start or a song about a really creepy stalker. My take was the former. The latter was my wife’s take (Jack’s too, actually). Either way, the song is an interesting one (and the bonus video is really intriguing – a woman traveling the world looking pensive). We have mixed reviews on the slow, long buildup of the instrumentation at the start of the song. I rather like it but then I’ve always been a fan of minimalism (which this is not, but it’s analogous) whereas my wife felt they should get on with it already.

“No Sunlight” is stuck in my head more than the others even though it is a somewhat dark song talking about how as a child the skies were all clear and there was always sunlight (warmth, protection, safety) and as one ages, the sunlight goes away. Pessimistic to say the least but, like all of their songs with darker content, still excellent and catchy.

The rest of the album is similarly excellent though I am not as familiar with it enough to comment on each and every track (nor did I really intend to, it just so happens that the three I liked the best start off the album). (Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon MP3 Download | iTunes)

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The Weepies: Hideaway. Somehow The Weepies have eluded me until recently. I just happened to find this one via Amie St and fell in love with the sample clips (1:30 vs. iTunes :30). Every single track on this album has, at one time or another, grabbed me and pulled me in. Their sound is both simple and yet, at the same time, lush and I just love every ounce of it. Of all the tracks, “Wish I Could Forget” is by far my favorite.

There is not a single track on this album I would skip and there are many standouts. What I like the most is how diverse their sound is. They take turns leading in vocals so some songs are lead by Steve Tannen and some are lead by Deb Talan which varies their sound wonderfully. Together they harmonize beautifully and I just love listening to them sing. (Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon MP3 Download | iTunes)

Crowded House, Fish & Chips, Foxwoods, and Cigarettes

Crowded House released their first CD in nearly a decade a few weeks back and it has been in heavy rotation at our house since. I thought it would be fun to take Ann to see them in concert and found out last week that they were playing at Foxwoods in just a week’s time. That sealed it. I got on the phone, got tickets and made reservations to stay overnight in the Great Cedars hotel (I figured we wouldn’t want to drive back so late after the concert was over).

We had a complete blast. Crowded House is absolutely wonderful live and lead singer Neil Finn is quite funny as well. Somehow he got on the subject of bassist Nick Seymour being hungry and needing fish and chips as well as how all of the band could use mojitos or, at the very least, tequila. Shortly after, tequila shots and limes were delivered to the front of the stage and at least Neil and Nick partook. A few songs later, a nicely dressed room service cart with fish and chips was rolled out on stage and Nick ate the fish and had a few chips. Neil then took the plate, had a few himself and then began walking along the front of the stage passing out chips to whoever wanted them.

I managed this picture with my iPhone during the concert:

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All in all, the concert was wonderful and it ended far too soon. And while they played a nice mix of old and new favorites (and a few songs I never remembered having heard before), they didn’t play Into Temptation, my all time favorite song. Ah well, as Ann pointed out, they could have played for four hours and have left us not having heard all of our favorites.

It was also our first visit to Foxwoods itself. That was a trip. We ended up not bothering to play any games in any of the casinos. It was just too smoky. Cigarettes were everywhere and smoke was everywere. It got pretty gross. But this morning we went to the Grand Spa and Ann got a massage while I “read” (listened to an audio book) and then took a dip in the whirlpool and swimming pool. I even sat in the steam room for a bit. By the end I didn’t want to leave the spa and have become addicted to the whole idea of the place. I haven’t been that relaxed in I don’t know how long.

Alas, we had to head home again and I am dog-tired now. But it was a wonderful way to start the weekend.

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Fantastic

We just got home from the final production of The Fantasticks at the Trinity Rep Company in Providence RI. The Fantasticks has long been my favorite musical play far beyond anything else I have ever seen. I was in it my junior year of high school and I have seen no less than 4 other times (once in Woodstock, VT, twice at the Sullivan St. Playhouse where it ran for 42 years, and once in Boston) and this was, without a doubt, my favorite of all of these productions.

The idea of the play is that the first half is a fantasy. A love story set in moonlight, soft focus, and romance. There is a heroic struggle and a happy ending. The second act is set in sunlight and is harsh reality. Hearts are broken, walls built, and, finally, a happy ending but one through true understanding, not childish fantasy. This production used magic (actual sleight-of-hand and people vanishing in a box magic) as the shifts and it worked splendidly. The parts of El Gallo/The Narrator and the Mute were so perfectly cast. Both had a wonderfully energetic, emotive style that was so engaging. You saw how much El Gallo cared about these four people and how it hurt him to hurt them when he had to. The Mute was a perfect reflection of the emotions on the stage. The blocking and choreography was just wonderful. The only downside for me was the fact that the Boy (Matt) was played by someone of lesser vocal ability which stood out like a sore thumb among the other more accomplished singers. Other than that, it was a truly marvelous production.

It’s been years since I’ve been to see a show anywhere and I hadn’t realized just how much I missed it.

What a wonderful evening.

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