Inside Andy's Brain ( A Scary Place)
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Wednesday, August 29thNearly three months without a post. A new record I think. I've thought abour writing fairly frequently and just haven't out of a combination of business, cussedness and sheer tiredness. It's been a busy summer and I'm just starting to come out of a crazed state of too much work and too much rehearsal time. June and the first part of July were devoted to '42nd Street', my first directorial project in some years. I can't say that it's the most interesting show in the world as it's a collage of backstage musical cliches, tap numbers and improbable situations so there's not a ton of meat on the bones and significant directorial stuff. I toyed with a few ideas like having Peggy Sawyer be a hard little chippy who ends up with Abner, the lecherous old backer but decided that might be a little much for the intended audience and went fairly traditional. My only real novel moment was staging the overture as the theater coming to life with the stage hands, artistic staff and auditioners all converging to bring the audience into the world of the show. I think it worked OK. I was very proud of my cast. As is usual with musical theater, I had a number of people with minimal experience and certainly no where near enough tappers to make the show work. The 25 folk I ended up with though learned to tap, developed stage presence, sang well together and in general worked there butts off to create a relatively well balanced show that audiences thoroughly enjoyed. That we were able to pull it off in 6 1/2 weeks was a bit of a minor miracle, but everything was there in the end, thanks to Tommy's production manager style of cracking the whip and keeping everything moving. (He even did the costumes and wigs as we could find no one else to do them on our miniscule budget). The staff on this one worked well together and we want to work together again, hopefully with a few more resources. I'd like to do a smaller show, though. I'm thinking 'She Loves Me'. '42nd Street' is huge in terms of production numbers - 175 costumes for a cast of 25 for instance. Tommy and I went directy from '42nd Street' into the cast of 'Oklahoma!', playing two of the farmers (as opposed to the cowmen who were all teenagers who could handle the dancing). Another show that came together relatively well. Can't say I am fond of the space it was done in as the stage is too small and the climate control on stage is subpar so we were all dripping with sweat after every number. Still, fun to be able to do that title number with the mass movements downstage and feel the audience getting caught up in it. With two large musicals, not a lot of time to do other things the past couple of months. Trying to keep my head above water at work. The new paperless computer system is here wreaking havoc on all of our staff and clinic systems as we try to learn how to use it properly. We're running on about 60% schedule at the moment and are trying to get back to 100% by the first of October. Lots of financial stresses and strains at UAB these days. But I don't think it's any better anywhere else. We're supposed to go to NOLA this weekend but there's a hurricaine parked on top of it at the moment and who knows what will happen? We will not be going if there's no power or if the city is full of water. I'll try to keep it from being three months before I stick something else in this space.
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Wednesday, June 6thI haven't decided if I am incredibly busy or incredibly lazy, but one way or another six or so weeks have gone by and I haven't written anything here. It's not that things aren't happening. It's more like the speed with which things are happening is becoming somewhat unbearable. One of the best definitions of aging is the loss of adaptibility to change, whether that be internal or external and that certainly seems to be happening on the external front. On the work side of things, I was faced with a bit of a perdicament after UAB found a large hole in my salary support. Either return back to an assistant professor's salary, or return to my asstistant professor's clinical work load which I had spent years reducing in favor of more academic pursuits. Having bills to pay and things to support, I chose the latter so I am now busier than ever at work and many of my educational endeavors and more academic work is now history. Needless to say, I am not very happy. We shall see what comes next. It's not really UAB's fault. The state of Alabama is so broke that there are no longer dollars to defray the cost of clinicians being faculty. Tommy and I did get two weeks in Seattle with the family. They are all well. My 50th birthday fell during that time so we had a small party with them and a few old friends who turned up as well. We are all getting older together but I seem to be holding together fairly well. Good genes I suppose. Thanks mom and dad. We also got a few days away in Asheville at Biltmore and in Columbia SC with friends. We now have season passes to the Biltmore giving us an excuse to go for the holiday season sometime. If anyone wants to go, we can get them discounts. The massive project for the moment is, of course, 42nd Street which I am directing and Tommy is producing. We're about two weeks into a six week rehearsal period. The cast is progressing nicely in terms of song and dance but we seem to have something in the water when it comes to ensemble. We've lost five since we cast and are running around like crazy trying to find more people to put on stage. At the moment, the requirements are be able to match pitch slightly and be free of major neurologic movement disorders. I think the end result of the show is going to be fine.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Wednesday, April 18thThings have been relatively quiet around the homestead the last couple of weeks. Tommy and I are in the throes of pre-production of 'Forty Second Street' which will audition in mid May and rehearse from Memorial day until mid July when it shall appear for three fabulous performances. We're still looking for a costume designer and a rehearsal pianist if anyone has leads. I'm pretty sure we'll be able to get a decent cast as it's one of those shows in which the ensemble has more fun than the principals.
Work continues to drive me crazy between being short staffed, in terms of nursing, administrative support and providers in the clinic - this happening at a time when the demands are accelerating as the aging boomers are dealing with their really aging parents and want them fixed pronto. The average boomer generally doesn't want to hear that there's not a lot of fixing that can happen at 85 or 90 and certainly doesn't want to be told about all the things Medicare does not pay for. Just to make matters interesting, Alabama is looking at a 20-30% cut in Medicaid next fiscal year which will have all sorts of unpleasant ripple effects on the system. Oh to be twenty years older so that I could just retire.
Tommy and I will be in Seattle May 1-12 for a combination of business meetings for me and to see the family. Looking forward to some time away from here.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Wednesday, March 28thMuch of the last month was about 'Carmen' with the opera. Three weeks of fairly intensive rehearsal to get it up and on stage for two glorious performances before being packed away for eternity. I must say I enjoyed singing it. How could you not have fun singing The Toreador song or the Habanera or the bullfight parade music, all pieces that have reached far beyond the world of opera to become part of the soundtrack of western civilization. The production - well, it was not without problems.
The principal roles were all well song, if not necessarily well cast and everyone got along well and were nice to us peons in the chorus and there were a few that were old friends from prior productions and a number that I hope I will have a chance to work with again in the future. The maestro was very laid back, which was refreshing and I think we sang well for him. The stage director was young, energetic and had good ideas. The physical production... Well the set, rented from another opera company turned out to be too big for the stage and came mixed in with pieces from another set entirely and without the expertise needed to assemble it in a timely fashion. The first tech had to be canceled while the crew wrestled with it and eventually, huge swaths of it were cut and pieces of what was supposed to be a mobile set were plunked down on stage and just stayed for all four acts. This required the entire opera to be restaged second tech. We had two dresses to get it all down before performance and the cast rose to the occasion, headed by a very able stage management team. The costumes were old and not terribly attractive and smelled very strange. I wore a rather tatty wig that made me look entirely too much like Alan Rickman as Severus Snape. I kept saying 'Potter or is it Weasley' in a very slow drawl for my on stage ad libs. There are a couple of photos over at facebook and I will try to put them here as well.
Now that that is over, I am trying to get caught up on various work projects. Things are a bit insane in geriatrics land with all of the changes roiling the health care system. Whether or not Obamacare survives the supremes, demography is changing and those pressures are putting pressure on the system to move towards a more chronic care based system and I and my specialty are at ground zero for all of that. Now if we could just get the dollars to flow with the workload.
Tommy and I are starting into pre-production for 42nd Street which I am directing and he is production manager for. Three smashing performances this July in beautiful downtown Gardendale, Alabama for anyone in the mood. Should be fun. Still in need of a good stage manager, a costumer and a rehearsal pianist.
Going to be in Seattle in early May for nearly two weeks. Geriatrics meetings are there and will be able to spend some time with family as well. Just maybe I'll be able to relax for the first time in about a year and a half.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Tuesday, February 28thIt's leap year and so tomorrow, we have a 29th of February. Something that is of little interest to most other than Savoyards with a deep interest in the future of Fredric with the pirates. The last few weeks have been fairly uneventful. Tommy and I had a week in WV and KY with my usual circuit with the mine workers. The weather in the mountains was fine and the whole thing was fairly uneventful.
The major project of the moment is the Opera, Carmen which is currently in rehearsal. Both Tommy and I are in the chorus. It opens on the 16th so we have just over two more weeks with this puppy. The principals are all in town and in good voice. Nothing too complex with the staging yet but we've only done Act I where the men are all bored soldiers hanging around the town square.
I'm doing a panel on LGBT people in academic medicine for the med students at noon today. Things have come a long way over the last 25 years. Let's keep the ball rolling.
I'm starting pre-production on the show I am directing this summer '42nd Street'. It should be fun. The more I look at it, the more it seems like 'Kiss Me Kate', the sequel...
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Tuesday, February 7th
Where did the last month go? Into the Whorehouse, that's where. We put 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' up in about three and a half weeks and had a highly successful two week run. The reviews were great, the performances superb and we essentially sold out the run. It was a lot of fun to be part of and I learned a good deal about timing and scene work just being on stage with a bunch of old pros. I must have held my own as I got some very nice compliments from folk who don't dish them out very often.
Tommy got drafted into doing wardrobe and wigs for the production and everyone looked great on stage, even in the horrific fashions of the early 1970s. I cannot say that I will miss my powder blue polyester leisure suit. (See photo).
The next thing on deck is Carmen which is in music rehearsal now and goes into staging rehearsals in two weeks. The music is a lot of fun but my sung French diction leaves a lot to be desired and I will have to pound at the lyrics some next week when I am off in West Virginia with the mineworkers.
Work continues to drive me crazy. The less said about it, the better at this point. All I can do is white knuckle it and hang on while whatever happens, happens. Perhaps more details later.