Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Styles: Fairview Park Public Library

When all is said and done, I have to go back and read this novel again. I want to know how Hastings comes across to me now, how much of my impression of his is influenced by the adaptation I made, how much by James' performance, how much is pure Christie.

As received in both Styles and Curtain (the only two Hastings novels I have read) Hastings may come off as slow off the mark, but more stiff than he is in this production. Perhaps his age is supposed to be in his mid-to-late twenties. Here he is early twenties. And James has been encouraged to be energetic and engaging, in a way that may not match the book.

Hastings is excited by the prospect of solving a crime. James is visibly excited. Hastings does attempt flirtations with both Cynthia and Mary in the novel, here they happen virtually one right after the other that it seems perhaps thoughtless ... but he is a young man! This is all very romantic to him. And his romantic nature is a point of description in the stories. In Curtain, as an old man, he is particularly dreary and wistful. In our production, he is the eternal optimist.

He also changes things up a lot. In his absence, if there were some way that Poirot were introduced to the case without Hastings there (it is Hastings who brings Poirot into the proceedings, and immediately after the crime) things would not have been nearly as interesting. He's not just a person that Poirot can confide in, to share this information with the audience, even if I thought at first he might be only that. There is a generous back and forth, and it shapes Poirot's thoughts and actions.

In spite of his upbringing, Hastings is a catalyst for change. Poirot, on the other hand, is a stickler for the status quo. The "happiness between one man and one woman" Poirot speaks of before departing, I think Michael summed it up best just as I stepped off-stage tonight.

"Well," he whispered to me, "... happiness for the one man, anyway."

We performed at Fairview Park Public Library tonight, another capacity crowd with a lively discussion following. Kristy Lee was present, she of last year's Decameron tour, and with her Brian who is one of our actor-teachers. There were a lot of family and friends, too.

One gentleman pointed out, correctly, that if Hastings were always in uniform, everyone would be calling him Captain Hastings, and not Mister. My explanation is that this is a memory play, framed by the confidence in which Hastings takes his audience. He is remembering himself at that time, from what he later reveals to be decades later. No doubt he was not in uniform at Styles Court, he was vacationing. But in his mind, he was. I don't know if that was Esther's idea or not in choosing that costume, but it's the one I have kept with me and I like it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Styles: Akron Public Library - Northwest

The Shatto Avenue branch of the Akron Public Library visit is always an interesting one. A mid-afternoon stop, the crowd an eclectic mix of those who have time to enjoy a play in the middle of the afternoon and couple classes of high school students who walk over from nearby Firestone High School. Great crowd, great afternoon.

Following each performance, Daniel likes to ask if they figured the mystery, and then he asks those who did not (which is most of them) who they suspected. Now ... it's difficult to provide any details of these discussions without giving up the game, but I will say audiences responses are key indicators of 1) the kind of performances we have been providing and more importantly 2) how successful my script is.

It doesn't bother me that most can't figure it out, that's good, isn't? That was Christie's game, it appears a clear enough case, as Cavendish puts it, but she does provide a great deal of obfuscation. One student today said he suspected Hastings, but added that that didn't make any sense because he was the narrator. It's a shame Agatha Christie never wrote a Poriot mystery where that happens.

Tomorrow we perform at the Fairview Park Public Library at 7 PM. This performance is free and open to the public, please come and join us.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Styles: Workshop Players

Looks like a nice place for a MYSTERY.

Amherst was not incorporated as a "city" until 1962. Long before that Amherst Village had this adorable one-room schoolhouse, which is today the home of Workshop Players.

Class of 1948
We performed in this room tonight.

Can't say enough about this space. Director Dave Cotton and his staff of extremely kind and dedicated volunteers look after the outreach tour like we are visiting relatives.

The space is traditionally "in the round" with one hundred seats on four sides. For the tour they lose a bank of seats on one end, sacrificing ten seats. They take reservations for our touring appearance or they would not be able to meet the demand, and there may be chaos. There's absolutely no standing room.

Emily and Michael discuss how to fit our set onto this small stage.
(Or "your caption goes here.")

We take the Workshop Players space into account when designing the tour. Terry made the set so that the "wings" could be abandoned, if necessary. This turned out to work very well.

Tasty, hot soup.

Because there is no lobby, they open the building, and the house, at 7:15 prompt. So we were all early to knock the set up and get downstairs for fresh, hot soup, and chicken salad sandwiches. I really love the Workshop Players stop.

Full house!

The full house was wildly appreciative. Having a deeply thrust stage was unique, and gave us the opportunity to play around with the blocking, moving in circles, putting our backs to different parts of the house, facing each other directly across the stage. It brought out some wonderful new discoveries. Our audience was in a mood to laugh, but were also up for a great mystery. Some revelations produced previously unheard murmurs of realization.

In addition to a deeply devoted number of Workshop Players volunteers, we were again this year joined by a contingent from Amherst High School. They were very sympathetic towards Hastings, and didn't like this feckless Cynthia person one bit. At least, this was true of the girls.

Drama students from Amherst Steele High School

Post-Show Discussion
Notice the shortened set?

The post-show discussion was hilarious, it was more like a rap session. A very warm feeling. It's strange to think tonight's performance marked the end of our gigs in Lorain County. From now on its just a few in Cuyahoga and six more performances in Summit County. Tomorrow we will perform at 1 PM at the Northwest Branch of the Akron Public Library. This performance is free and open to the public.

But first, let's have some of Dave Cotton's homemade vanilla and strawberry ice cream!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Styles: CH-UH Main Public Library


I live here. This stop is very important to me. If I write a play and I cannot fill up the Cleveland Heights University Heights Main Public Library on Lee Road, I take that very personally.

First, let me say that the folks at CH-UH Main were dynamite, very helpful in preparing the space and making our access to the space extremely easy and hassle-free. Normally we arrive ninety minutes prior to performance, take an hour to set up and spend a half-hour getting ourselves dress and mentally prepared. Thanks to Sammy and Josh, we had the set knocked up in 30 minutes ... and then had an hour to relax.

This was good, because people were arriving as soon as the library opened at 1 PM, a full hour prior to curtain. Once more, thanks to Dame Christie, we did not have an available seat in the house, and I spotted many of our generous young men who had surrendered seats to those more elderly and female then they standing in the back.

Perhaps as a result of this full house and our chance to get our heads together prior to performance that this was the cleanest show we had presented to date. Everyone was on top of their game, we were confident enough to have stop slamming the doors (thanks guys!) and even slight bobbles in line delivery were so confidently moved through no one even noticed we had messed up ... and I think everyone did today, except Anne, she was miraculous today. She even tried to convinced us that her Evie accent had at one point crept into her Dorcas, but no one believes her.

The talkback was what you might expect from a Cleveland Heights crowd, very wise and critical. We started talking about literature in the public domain, and a fight broke out in the aisle. This nice old ethnic lady even threw a chair.

You can ignore that last paragraph. I jest. Seriously, however, a great discussion about the adaptation, some serious, professional praise for the set design (that's for you, Terry) and a lot of admiration for the speed and polish of our fast-paced performance. Michael, Anne and Emily really deserve all the compliments they got to day for their numerous characters, and the professional way they tackle them. Also, James' aunt was inna house.

I want to thank to folks at CH-UH Main, and our audience, for giving us a really enjoyable Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow night we will appear at Workshop Players in Amherst. However, if you have not made reservations, do not bother. It is a free performance, but this community theater powerhouse has such a devoted following and such a small space that they must take reservations in order to make sure they do not have to turn people into the cold, and they filled their quota for this show weeks ago.

We will next appear on Tuesday at 1 PM at the Northwest/Shatto Avenue Branch of the Akron Public Library. It is always a great time there, a big space, plenty of room, though when we are lucky, students from Firestone High walk to the space to join us, making for a big, full house. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Radio Golf @ Cleveland Play House

Last fall I wrote this entry about the Penumbra Theatre's production of Two Trains Running. I was in St. Paul to celebrate my brother's 50th birthday, and my sister-in-law got us tickets to see a show together. It was a marvelous production, and I sheepishly add it was the first time I had ever seen anything by August Wilson.

However, there are several of Wilson's works being produced right here in Cleveland over the next several months, and I was thrilled to learn that not only was the Cleveland Play House producing his last work, Radio Golf, but that they were more or less bringing the Penumbra to Cleveland to create it.

Directed by Penumbra's founding artistic director, Lou Bellamy, this production also features two of the actors I saw last Fall in Minneapolis, James Craven and Abdul Salaam El Razzac.

Craven & El Razzac

Speaking out of pure ignorance of how the rest of Wilson's Century Cycle plays out (I did read Fences a few years back, as well) I found much in common between Two Trains and Radio Golf. That is not to suggest anything unoriginal in the later work, instead I felt I was engaged in the repetition of a theme, like a musical variation. This was in part due to the fact that in each production, El Ra and Craven played familiar roles. However, though El Ra stands out once more as the supporting character you cannot take your eyes off of, experiencing the differences in Craven's interpretation of Wilks (Radio Golf) as compared to his Memphis (Two Trains Running.) Each play revolves around and eventually culminates in life-altering moments for both men, and what is at stake is as important to each, in their respective stations in life.

His Memphis is the tightly wound owner and operator of a Hill District diner in 1969. Sporting period horn-rimmed glasses, a neatly-trimmed mustache and a fedora indoors, the man rarely smiles. Unhappy with the world around him, his livelihood threatened by "urban renewal" Memphis is holding out for the right price for his property. To state whether or not he comes out on top would give away the ending. So I will just show this picture:

Memphis, unwound.

I barely recognized the clean-shaven, constantly smiling real estate developer and mayoral-hopeful Harmond Wilks in Radio Golf (which takes place in 1997) and though Craven's voice is unmistakeable, unlike the mightily controlled Memphis, his Wilks' voice betrays his feelings at every moment, wildly pitching high when excited or to a low gravel depending on the situation.

Before departing for the evening, the parents of our babysitter mentioned in passing that the play is a little long at almost three hours. I have to say I disagree. I mean, if I had my druthers I would venture back to Minneapolis to see every part of the Century Cycle produced by Penumbra (they are doing that, by the way) as I have been twice impressed by the way Lou Bellamy and his company handles the material. Wilson was, at heart, a poet, and his characters come and go and take the time to tell beautifully told stories, and no one stops them. Well played, I have no problem with that at all.

My dates for the evening insisted that the side-mounted flip-phones sported by two of the characters were anachronistic for 1997. This is a Motorola StarTAC, released in January 1996. You lose.

After the show I was fortunate enough to spot El Razzac on his way across the lobby of the Allen Theatre. I'd waited four months to tell him personally how much I admired his work.

"Oh!" he said, "You're the guy who wrote the article."

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Mysterious Affair at Styles @ Lorain High School

Another non-public performance, today at Lorain High. Our contact, Greg Antus, found several very helpful student volunteers to help us get the set up. Greg has been a valuable asset at Lorain High (formerly Lorain Admiral King) for years, and works very hard to ensure the tour runs smoothly.

Years ago when I was an actor-teacher, my first Death of a Salesman residency was at Lorain Admiral King. Part of the lesson plan includes an improvisation where it was necessary for me to be entirely irrational with my teenage child, played by one of the students. I remember the very first class of the day, I was supposed to be entirely unyielding and unsympathetic while this high school junior girl told me she was pregnant. She began to cry and I entirely folded. It was hilarious to witness.

Don't the colors look lovely?

While Greg had prepared his students for the performance they were about to see today, as often is the case a larger number of students were added to our audience by emptying out the study hall. While I approve of exposing as many students as possible to the fine arts, especially when arts programs have been eliminated in so many of our public school systems, it can be challenging to hold the attention of students who have not been told why they are there, or anything at all about what they are about to see.

Having said that, I believe our mystery was successfully mysterious to them, as they were a very good audience, into what was going on, entertained, amused and impressed. We had a great talkback following, though brief, as their school day was about to end.

"The Mysterious Affair at Styles" is now available from Playscripts, Inc.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Styles: Lake Ridge Academy

This morning included a non-public performance of Styles at Lake Ridge Academy in North Ridgeville. We were joined by Vivian Goodman, reporter and producer for WKSU 89.7 FM. Goodman is producing a story that will air early next week on the Great Lakes Theater "Surround" program, and interviewed Lisa and myself, recorded scenes from the production, and remained for the brief Q&A with students that followed.

James, Michael, me, Dustin, Emily & Anne

Goodman also spoke with Dustin, a senior at Lake Ridge who I first met two years ago when he was of invaluable assistance helping us put together and strike the set for Dark Side. This is third year he has joined us early to set up, and stayed after to help load out. I have also run into his a couple times at student matinees at the Hanna. He is graduating this spring, and will matriculate at Baldwin-Wallace (University!) this fall. Thanks for all the heavy lifting, Dustin, and best wishes in your future academic endeavors!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Styles: Cuyahoga Valley Art Center

Okay, this is a first. The folks at Cuyahoga Valley Art Center were so inspired by our choice of outreach tour, that for the month of February they have featured an installation of original works inspired by mystery, and mysterious tales.

Sparkling Cyanide
Lynda Lyons

Mrs. Katie's Ghost
Hilary Skeeter

Gardner Boone

One section of the gallery was for works inspired by Agatha Christie in particular.

Agatha Christie's Murder Mystery Box
Karen McCrady

4 & 20 Blackbirds
Susan Mencini

Miss Marple Investigates
Lucy Redick

CVAC is not a large place, in fact this small gallery and art studio is perhaps the smallest space the tour visits ... except, maybe Workshop Players, but that is an actual theater. Here we have an open space, a hardwood floor, fluorescent lights, and a lot of mismatched chairs.

Backstage is where the magic happens.

Last year was our first visit to CVAC, and we attracted perhaps 40 dedicated members of the Center, and a few odd, interested parties. This year there were 70, including I believe just one teenager.

Can you spot the teenager?

The performance went off very well, and was very well received. At this venue, as with others, we had attracted a large number of Christie fans, and people who were quite familiar with Poirot.

"One of my very best hats once ...

One gentleman told us he came to see the show because he saw Decameron last year, and would have come to see a Great Lakes Theater touring show again, no matter what the title! It was a fun night all around -- special thanks to Marcus for helping us load out! Ditto, Lynda, Dorothy and everyone at CVAC. See you next year!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Styles: Olde Town Hall Theatre

Michael last performed the outreach tour in 2009, three years ago, but remembered correctly that it is 26 steps up from the ground floor to the auditorium at Olde Town Hall Theatre in North Ridgeville.

It is however, worth the climb (and they now have an ADA compliant chair lift) to visit this intimate hall for a performance, and always one of my favorite stops on the tour because of it. There were more pleasant surprises, as they have expanded the width of their stage and the entire set of The Bells Are Ringing -- now playing -- had been packed away for our performance.

Turnout, again, was very high, much higher than we expect at this venue, and plenty stayed afterward for the talkback. Dame Agatha has fans everywhere, it seems, and Olde Town Hall was full of them tonight. The show went very well, the audience was quite vocal in their appreciation and the post-show discussion felt very relaxed and comfortable. Tonight seemed to be the first night the discussion was largely about Christie, Poirot, issues relating to the stagecraft involved in a mystery play, and differences between this adaptation and the original book.

Students who already saw the show at Elyria Catholic brought friends who had not, and many young people were on hand to help us load the set back down those 26 steps. It was another highly enjoyable evening in Lorain County.

Tomorrow we visit our first venue in Summit County this year, the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center. Last year was our first at this site. CVAC is a small space, which features art instruction and appreciation and its own gallery. When we arrived last year, one class was wrapping up and as we departed another had begun! There were only about forty seats, but they were mostly filled and by a very appreciative audience. I am curious as to how many will be with us this year, now that word has hopefully spread about the Great Lakes outreach tour and this production in particular.

Here's something awesome -- in anticipation of the production, CVAC is featuring a collection of works inspired by mystery titles, which will be on display at the center all this month! The performance at CVAC begins at 5:30 PM tomorrow, Wednesday, February 22 and is free and open to the public. Please join us!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Styles: Kendal at Oberlin

The tour is a week old tonight. Six performances in seven days. Yesterday, prior to the Clague performance I took the opportunity to use touch-up paint provided by Terry to hide dings in the fireplace, and on the wallpaper. The fireplace is made of foam, so when it gets scratched or scarped, the scar is a bright BLUE.

Adding these corrections has to be done before a show, because that is when it the set is available -- all other times it is stacked up in the van -- so it can dry during the show, and not go back into the van wet. Tonight a small chunk of the moulding was chipped off, so I immediately got a bottle of wood glue and some tape so that could dry and be ready for tomorrow.

Tonight was another extremely pleasant visit to Oberlin. They have a relatively shallow stage, but we used our extra pipe to post the drapes to either side of the stage for costumes and props and sound, and leave the space behind the doors entirely bare. And it worked very well! I am very happy to have a company of five that can discuss a production issue like this one and come to an easy consensus. It actually felt like we had more room tonight than we have in several performances.

And once more, there was not an available seat in the house. We went right up to the fire code without going over. A warm, appreciative audience which is what we have come to expect from Kendal at Oberlin.

Tomorrow evening we will present at one of my favorite venues, Olde Town Hall Theatre in North Ridgeville. It is an awesome little space, on the second floor of this charming, historic, former town hall. Holds maybe 150 or so people. Perhaps some of the folks turned away from Clauge will come and join us.

The Olde Town Hall performance will begin at 7 PM, and is free and open to the public. Please join us!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Styles: Clague Playhouse

Clague Playhouse is a charming, little barn that once upon a time was converted into a community theater. I think the first show I ever saw there was The Mikado. Might have been Pinafore. The thing is, the place features a dinky stage with about eighty seats on three sides. And once upon a time they showed my light opera, and I really, really liked it.

My freshman year in high school, they produced You Can't Take It With You. The place is so small, you really couldn't help feeling you were sitting in that absurdly overstuffed living room.

The tour always visits Clague. Most years we are close to full. This year we were at capacity by a quarter 'til curtain and had to turn a large number of folks away. I was excited about playing to a full house. If you are reading this and could not get in, please try to join us at Fairview or Lakewood Public Libraries.

Now most years, they are usually in the middle of a run, or about to open something. Due to the thrust stage, there may be some platforms or other large set items screwed or painted to the floor. We checked with local set design legend Ron Newell (it's always Ron's set) and fortunately they were between productions, and he would make sure the stage were clear.

True to his word, the stage was not only entirely clear, but he had painted the floor! And our magnificent set was just shy of the proscenium arch, and just about as wide. It was the most perfect fit for a tour set I have ever seen at Clague!

Honestly. I wish we could have just left the set there. We could have played all of the rest of our dates there, bussing folks from Summit and Lorain counties to see us. Really, it would have been worth it. They even had an area rug for us.

That rug really tied the room together.

Thank you.

My family was in attendance. My kids are nine and six (going on seven.) They were both intrigued by the show, though it is challenging to get an opinion out of them. The boy found it very interesting that the show had a "main theme." So that's a compliment, Richard, a six year-old noticed your chosen Poirot Theme and thought that was really cool.

The afternoon performance gave me a chance this evening to tint my temples a little, as well as the mustache.

Tomorrow night we join the folks at Kendal at Oberlin. Curtain is at 7:15 PM and the performance is free and open to the public.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Styles: East Park Retirement Community

I love bringing the tour to East Park, it's like putting on a play in someone's living room. We've done that, too, in the past, but in this case it looks like someone's rather large living room, on a stage at the far end of a well-appointed dining hall.

They always take good care of us there, those of us who could arrive a little early were treated to supper (thank you!) and this event is annually part of a larger event for the community, so there are speeches and dinner while we set up and then we get to perform for a large appreciative audience who happen to be well-fed and in great spirits.

The public is welcome, and this evening there was a family which included several teenage girls who were excited to see a live performance and had a lot of questions afterward about how you get into theater. We gave them a tour "behind the scenes" after the Q&A -- I warned them, "You will not be impressed!" But of course, they were, seeing all the tricks we use to keep this set together, the big pile of costumes and how simple the sound system is. And so on.

This venue provided the biggest backstage area we have had to-date, which made everything, especially the quick costumes changes, run much more smoothly. In addition, we were all much more aware of diction and taking our time with the lines. We knew there may be folks in the audience who might require careful delivery, and the room was wide and deep and quite full. It added a few minutes to the performance, but seriously, no one minded.

Tomorrow ... a day off! An honest-to-goodness day off! I do not mind saying I am exhausted, and I am not even the guy who does much of the heavy lifting. Michael and James have a very good system going, loading the large wall pieces (seven large wall pieces) into the van without scratching of damaging any of them, I would hate to get in their way. You know?

Sunday is 2 PM at Clague Playhouse in Westlake. We will entirely fill up, I have no doubt about that at all, and the space affords no standing room. So if you are planning to attend, it would be wise to arrive early.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Styles: Elyria Catholic

Tremendous afternoon at Elyria Catholic, perhaps my favorite performance at their school, ever. I don't know what it was, the students have enjoyed our performances in the past. It have have had to do with expectations. This was our first school performance, and I had no idea what to expect. I know how young people can react to period pieces, especially talky ones. Many check out (I am generalizing, of course) and this has been the case for young people, well, forever, right?

And shame on me, I thought some of the humor would fly right over their heads. Do teenagers know what a laxative is? Even if they do not, they are smart enough to figure it out. Yes, shame on me. The performance was warmly received, and the post-show discussion was spirited and interesting. One question we are going to get a lot is about the costumes, and how on earth we change so fast (someone at The Alcazar asked to see who was helping us backstage, and was surprised to learn its just us.) People are also curious about accents.

My favorite moment was when a student rose to ask if the 'stache is real. I am surprised it took three shows for someone to ask! When I said it was, the assembled juniors and seniors practically gave the mustache a standing ovation.

There had been a question during rehearsals if the phrase "queer little Belgian" would make the student audiences squirrely. In this case, it did not. I say we keep it.

Many thanks to the many young people who got out of study hall to help us load in, and those who stayed after school to assist in loading out. It was tremendous help and much appreciated.

Tomorrow evening we will return to the East Park Retirement Community, for the fourth year running. This is a public performance and begins at 6.30 PM.

Styles: Lorain County Community College

Second night, we learned what it was like to load and unload the van entirely on our own, and with a semblance of knowing what we are doing. Didn't take nearly as long as it did Tuesday night ... but it did take a while. Lucky for us,we were joined by LCCC students Mimi and Mariah, and Mariah's younger brother Nathan to assist. Assistance is always gratefully accepted, and as we are visiting a school this morning (not a public performance, sorry, you can't come) I fully intended to request a contingent of strapping, young Catholic boys to help mit all de schleppin.

Only the second performance, and for the second night in a row we have had record-busting attendance. In my seven-year experience we can expect a couple dozen, perhaps, students and other interested parties, last night there were perhaps eighty in attendance, which is near-capacity in a studio space which holds around one hundred. Students can, and often do, appear bored during plays or nod off to sleep before leaving right after and avoiding the talkback. Many, of course, simply pick up a program and leave before the show starts, having obtained proof of attendance for class the next day.

Last night a large number of people remained, and when Daniel asked for a show of hands for how many had already read Styles, an impressive number went up, far more than had the night before in Cleveland Heights. As I said, most were die-hard Christie fans, and I am relieved and pleased that those who have commented (to-date) have been extremely complimentary to the adaptation. One was so impressed by how I had "left nothing out" that I had to stop her and ask whether or not she missed Lawrence (a major character I have omitted.) She said she didn't even notice until halfway through the show, and that she didn't really mind.

Another great point of relief is how people have been responding to the relationship between Poirot and Hastings. If that fell flat ... well, they do spend an awful lot of time on stage together. That would have been disastrous. Early I was concerned whether all the banter about clues and theories would be too dry, but apparently I have included enough of the essential relationship, as created by Christie, that it all comes together.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Styles: Opening Night

We opened last night at The Alcazar. I do not have the final number, but it was a very large crowd, a record for that venue, standing room only. We had folks sitting in the window seats that overlook the courtyard. All credit goes to Agatha Christie.

And I believe all went well, but it is hard for me to tell. There were a great many laughs, which surprised the actors but it did not surprise me. When Emily as Mrs. Cavendish enters the inquest, wearing the hat, I hear a wave of admiration sweep the crowd. That also did not surprise me, but it was delightful to experience. It is a beautiful hat, and sits so perfectly on top of Emily's impossible neck.

So the big question is, does it work as a murder mystery? Christie wrote a novel where the reader gets all the same clues as the detective, and should be able to solve the crime. Have I adapted it to accomplish the same thing? Or more to the point, is it too easy for the audience to figure out, or so confusing that they don't even bother trying.

Daniel asked for a show of hands as to who knew, who thought they knew, who suspected others, and who were entirely befuddled. The result was a healthy mix of all of those responses, so I believe we are on a good footing.

It took almost two hours to load out the set last night, but we were attempting it for the first time, with everyone taking my lead as how to pack the van. Tonight, hopefully, it will not take so long. But that is a physical challenge, and I need to be sure to rest up, take my vitamins, and rest up.

Did I mention I am training for a marathon?

Tonight: Lorain County Community College, Stocker Center Theatre. 7:30 PM. Free. Be there!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Styles: Moving Day

Moving out of the rehearsal space.

Terry, Bill and the guys from the scene shop teach us how to take down the set.

Oh Lord, the van is very full.

Pieces parts are laid out at the Alcazar.

Company members negotiate where everything goes.

I blog.

We have a successful run-through.

Lisa gives notes.

We open tonight.
8 PM at the Alcazar, free of charge, no reservations necessary.
Please join us.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Styles: Sound

For years, Richard Ingraham has designed sound for the outreach tour. And every year it makes me so happy when his design is brought into the mix. Just when you are driven to distraction with all of the many, tiny props, the outrageous quick changes, and -- oh, yeah, all those words, music and sound effects come in at just the right time to tie everything together.

What felt like an arduous, lengthy scene change, is suddenly spry and delightful, thanks to some jaunty, period piece. We'd gotten used to hear Diana read the stage direction "door bell rings" until last night when we heard a door bell ring. The sound sets a tone, maybe one you hadn't imagined, but there it is and it is useful and enjoyable; it creates a world all on its own.

A few years ago (on Richard's suggestion) GLT invested in proper, modern sound equipment, which is to say, a computer, and not some kind of disc machine. We have no stage manager for these touring productions, but with kit, anyone can hit the big GO button and start a cue which is set to fade, perhaps, after a few seconds, and fade out entirely on its own. It's like MAGIC.

Tonight, final dress at the Alcazar. We open tomorrow. Won't you join us?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Styles: Company

Previous Great Lakes Theater Outreach Tour Fun!

With Anne in Dark Lady of the Sonnets (2006)

With Michael (and Elizabeth Wood) in The Brute (2009)

With Emily in On the Dark Side of Twilight (2010)