Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Oliver Chronicles: Installment Seven - Hell-week's a-comin'...

Well, yesterday was our last official "rehearsing" rehearsal. Since hell-week starts Monday, all of our rehearsals will be to run the show with tech stuff, meaning we really can't stop to fix things like blocking/lines/music/whatever, because we will already be stopping over and over to fix things like lighting/sound effects/props/whatever. So, in short, hell-week is going to literally be a week from hell.

However, our last rehearsal gave me a little bit of hope. I know on Monday HDT basically told us we sucked. However, he clarified on Tuesday that he still believed we could pull it off with a LOT of hard work. Then, Tuesday's rehearsal was marginally better than Monday's and then Wednesday's rehearsal was a lot better than Tuesday's. HDT said he definitely saw a huge turn-around in our commitment and energy, etc. and he actually gave us props for that. Yay! Props rock! (And by props, I mean compliments, not objects on stage. Although they rock too...)

So then on Friday, he gave us our notes, which is a good sign. Generally he doesn't start giving notes (which are basically comments and criticisms and suggestions for improvement) until the point when we can actually get through a run in a decent amount of time. Also, he waits to give notes until there are only finishing touches that need to be fixed, because other wise our notes would just be a gigantic waste of a rainforest. The official reading of notes is actually somewhat hilarious, because while he watches the run, instead of writing the notes himself, he tells the assistant to the director to write down an abbriviated version of the notes. Then, when he reads them aloud to the cast and is giving us directions like "Bumble-Do you have to pee?" or "Nancy-Don't be a velociraptor," it's up to us to translate that into "Mr. Bumble keeps shifting his weight and needs to stand still" or "Nancy is doing something weird with her hands that makes her look like a velociraptor." One of my favorite notes of the night was given to me: "Corney-Angle. Put box next to her. Stand." I'm still not quite sure what it means, but I'm taking a wild guess and saying it's a problem with the way I am standing during one of the scenes and I need to do something to fix it so I'm not blocking one of the other actresses. Or it could mean I'm being a velociraptor. There's no way to know.

Then, Friday's rehearsal was also a pretty big improvement. However, we didn't manage to get through a whole run in three hours (which we did do on Wednesday.) This was due partially to the fact that we had notes at the beginning and partially because in the middle of the show, there was a scene that literally everyone forgot the blocking for and it had to be re-blocked. I have to say, blocking scenes a week before opening night is a very bad sign...

Then, at the end of rehearsal, HDT's final opinion was that we deserved props for the huge improvement, but we still have a long way to go before he actually starts inviting people to come see the show. However, considering how previous shows have gone, I really think we can pull it together just fine. "Cabaret," "Footloose" and "Les Miserables" all went through the same thing and didn't come together until the final dress rehearsal. And they were A-FREAKIN'-MAZING shows! So, There is hope for us.

I think. And hope.

Wish us broken legs! (Because I probably won't have time to blog again until after the show's over...)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oliver Panic/Oscars/An amazing play...

HDT had his flip-out a week early.

The show is a week from this Friday. Hell-week starts a week from today. And we are soooooo not ready.

Today's rehearsal was scheduled from 3:30-5:30, Run of Act I. In two hours, we got through 5 scenes. When we should have gotten through 8. We started at the top of Act I, and, surprise surprise, Mr. Bumble was not there again (although he wasn't in school so there's a chance he may have been sick...) and HDT was pissed. I have only done those scenes with Mr. Bumble about 3 times, so it is really bad that we didn't get to do it today. Also, before that, "Food, Glorious Food" was apparently a disaster (I couldn't watch from backstage.)

Then, after the funeral-home scenes (which went pretty well) we did "Consider Yourself." It was a catastrophe. We forgot our blocking, our music, we weren't acting at all because we were panicking about our blocking and music. We did the entire thing three times and it never got any better. But HDT didn't officially flip-out until the next scene: "Pick A Pocket Or Two."

Also a catastrophe. HDT actually said the words "You Suck! This is the worst I group I have seen in eight years!" I am honestly not sure whether that was true or just a scare tactic. I mean, don't get me wrong, we were awful, but still. We always pull it together at the last minute. But it's never been this bad. Plus, I have to say, my friends and I think that HDT is partially to blame in this case. Normally, we start rehearsing during December and we have our scripts so we can study lines over Christmas Break. But this time, we just started in January, meaning we were trying to pull of this entire show in two months. Plus, we had an entire week off of school last week, and that was valuble rehearsal time just going out the window.

So, my friends and I are going to try to organize some rehearsals outside of school. Just because we need them sooooo much!

In much happier news, the Oscars were amazing last night. I was so happy about all of the "Slumdog Millionaire" awards (BEST PICTURE!!!! WOOO-HOOO!!!!) and I was thrilled for Heath Ledger's Best Supporting Actor Award. Also, I was sobbing during the acceptance speech of Dustin Lance Black for Best Original Screenplay. Please observe:

I'm so glad this movie did so well, and congratulations Sean Penn!

It was a great night (and who saw Hugh Jackman's "Oscars of The Recession" musical number??? Hi-fricking-larious)

And, finally, I would like to include a very brief anecdote of something I forgot to mention over the past few weeks. On Saturday, I saw a local production of the play "Bent." For those of you who aren't familiar with the play, it tells a tragic story that hilights the horrible persecution of gay people during the holocaust. I went to see it because my best friend Troy was a violinist in it (all original music by a local student musician) and he was amazing. But, as a whole, the play was extremely difficult to watch. There were some very intense, heart-breaking moments, but production wise, it was a beautiful show.

Saturday was my third time seeing it. I think I'm in need of some therapy...

So, on those many notes, I ask you only this: Wish the cast of "Oliver!" luck that HDT doesn't murder all of us before the end of this week...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

To Do List (MUST BE DONE SOON!!!):

1) Finish Reading Assignment for English Paper BEFORE End of Break:
Well, I'm half-way there! My next English paper (from the AP English Class from HELL) is about the wealthy class. You see, my teacher is trying to raise an army of young socialists, so all of our reading/writing assignments this year have been about money and class structures and other political topics. (Okay, I was exaggerating about the socialist thing, but she is extremely liberal and not afraid to show it!!!) Our first big assignment was to read and annotate a 60+ page packet made up of New York Times articles about money.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that my English teacher has chemical sensitivity issues that cause her to have big reactions to perfumes, colognes, hair-products, paint, citrus, engine exhaust, air, nature and pretty much anything else that has a scent. Because of this, she is out of school for long periods of time. When this happened at the beginning of the school year and our substitute neglected to give us our homework assignments, Devil-Teacher decided to solve this problem by assigning 30 pages of annotations in ONE NIGHT. Worst night ever.
So, right now I'm reading "The Sky's the Limit" by Steven Gaines, which is about wealthy people and expensive apartments in Manhattan. It's not quite as tedious to read as some of the other assignments I've had (The only reading assignment in this class that I have actually legitimately enjoyed was "How Starbucks Saved My Life") but it's not exactly a page turner.
One other fun little tidbit about this assignment: The paper on this book is due during hell-week. So I have firmly decided to at the very least finish reading the book before next Monday, so that I can write the paper the following weekend. *Crosses fingers in hopes of this goal actually being accomplished.*

2) Get Completely Off-Book for "Oliver!" BEFORE End Of Break:
Check! Well, sort of check. All of my actual lines are memorized, I just need to learn the music a bit better. Plus, due to a lack of a Mr. Bumble at rehearsals, it's quite difficult to remember the blocking when I'm not used to doing it with another person. Plus, HDT finally gave us the ultimatum of "get off-book before next week so we can make sure this show doesn't suck." And I think that I am closer to that goal than several people in the cast are (namely Fagin, Mr. Bumble and The Artful Doger.) So this coming rehearsal week will be very interesting, I'm sure...

3) See More Oscar Nominated Films BEFORE Oscars:
Um, not gonna happen. I've only seen a few of them so far. I'm so excited that the Oscars are coming up and I usually want to see the big nominees so I can legitimately cheer for my favorites, but so far I've only seen a few.
By the way, is anyone else totally SHOCKED that Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the film TROPIC THUNDER???? I mean, don't get me wrong, he is one of my favorite actors, and I thought he was amazing in Tropic Thunder, but.... OH MY GOD! If he was going to be nominated for anything, I assumed it would have been Iron Man. Apparently I was wrong...

4) Get Hell-Week Assignments From Teachers BEFORE Hell-Week:
Okay, this one is going to have to be done once I'm back in school, but it's still vitally important. The schedule of rehearsals for hell-week is all 6:00-9:00 or 7:00-10:00. And one of the great traditions for this point in rehearsals is to stay through from the end of the school day until rehearsal. That way, we can do our homework at the school (while teachers are there for assistance if necessary) and get dinner with the cast. This is really the more time-efficient solution because most of us have other after-school activities anyways, so it's easier just to stay. We also had a tradition last year of getting cake from the local bakery for the long dress rehearsals, but recently said bakery closed. :'(
So, because of the difficult hell-week coming up (March 2-6) I have promised myself that the week before hell-week, I will see my teachers, get any big assignments and do them early. *Keeps fingers crossed from earlier paragraph* This will probably be mainly for AP English assignments (because of all the heavy reading) and Chemistry (because of the lab reports.) My homework for Math, French and Global is generally just problems from a textbook or a worksheet, so it won't be too hard. And my Music Theory teacher has given us homework exactly twice this whole year, and both times it was also a simple worksheet.

So. These upcoming weeks will be very difficult. But still tons of fun.
I hope...
*Crossed fingers starting to turn purple*

(How does one type with crossed fingers you may ask? Well, I've been blessed with many unusual, useless talents... You know, like Demetri Martin...)

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Well, I feel like I haven't posted anything in a very long time, so I thought for Valentine's Day I would do a big double post made up of two parts: An "Oliver!" installment, and a fun theater survey meme thingy (no one ever makes theater surveys! I was so excited to see it!)

Okay. Here goes...

Last week's rehearsals were somewhat hectic. And with the fact that we only have TWO rehearsal weeks left (that's including hell-week) has been looming over our heads. Since we have blocked the entire show, HDT used this past week as a "polishing week" so to speak. Instead of running through the acts or the show, he just scheduled three scene's per day and we would just work through the problems of those scenes, one at a time.

However, even though ideally this sounds like an incredibly convenient idea, it only works effectively if the people who are in those scenes show up when they are supposed to. And it just so happens that Dickon (who you may remember is playing Mr. Bumble) was absent from rehearsal two days this past week, both of which being days that we were doing scenes he is in. Pas bon, tres tres pas bon. On Wednesday at our last official music rehearsal, Maestra mentioned that the next time we will be doing music will be during the Run of Act I on the Monday we get back from our week-long vacation. I asked Dickon if he would be there that day and he said he had work on Mondays and Thursdays, so no. I asked him if there was any way he could get around it and he said "I already asked my boss for hell-week off, and he agreed to that, so I don't think he would be too happy about me asking for that week off too." In my head, my next response would have been "Well, how badly do you want to keep your job right now?" but I decided to refrain from saying this out loud.

However, HDT said to him on Friday "Oh, by the way, Dickon? When we come back this week, I need you here. All the time." Dickon then went over to talk to him privately. No one knows what was said or whether he will be there when we have our next rehearsal. We'll see...

I have to say, Dickon has not been the only one with poor attendance these past few weeks. Especially with the music rehearsals. There were so many days when Maestra would want to run through a certain piece but couldn't because none of the people in that piece were there. Aussi pas bon. Mostly because we have no more music rehearsals. At all. Once we get back from the break, it's "Run Act I," "Run Act II," "Run Show" for one week, and then hell-week is all runs of the show (some with costume!)

In fact, I was telling Mr. Brownlow (my dad, in case you forgot) about how poor the attendence has been, and he came up with a rather brilliant solution: What HDT should do is just tell the people that aren't showing up regularly that they are out of the show (wait for it...) Then, before the performances, HDT will write a breif "framing story" about a group of student putting on a production of "Oliver!" It could open with everyone onstage, and HDT shouting "Why isn't anyone showing up? This is awful! This is the last straw! They are out! Okay, let's try a run with the people we've got... Uh, Moi! You play Fagin! Angela! You'll be Mr. Bumble! And... Troy! You'll be Bill Sykes! Ready? Action!" And then the play would commence with mismatched parts and breif jokes about rehearsal and the production process and things like that. We could even get the audience to participate with songs like "Oom Pah Pah" and "It's A Fine Life." It would be a production unlike anything STHS has ever done. Instead of being called "Oliver!" it would be called "STHS Presents 'Oliver!'"

I plan on pitching the idea to HDT when we return from vacation. I wonder what he'll say... haha...

Well, now I shall present to you a fun survey for those who have done a lot of theater things. It's the first one Ive ever seen, and I have to say. I loved it. Enjoy!


Technically I think that would be Steel Magnolias but currently I am working on Oliver!


"I Get A Kick Out Of You" from Anything Goes

Spring Awakening, Company, Les Miserables, Wonderful Town, and Cabaret

It's a toss-up between Steel Magnolias, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Dining Room.

Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret is probably my favorite (but Truvy in Steel Magnolias takes a close second)

The list is far too long, but I know it includes Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Baker's Wife in Into the Woods and Eponine in Les Miserables.

Saying Macbeth in a theater (don't worry, it's not bad luck now. I'm not in a theater...) and having perfect rehearsals during hell-week. If the rehearsals in hell-week aren't hell-ish, something ain't right...

Either become an Actress (preferably in musical theater) or Playwright.

HDT. No contest.

The first show I was ever in was The Wizard of Oz when I was in third grade, but the first show that got me seriously interested in theater was Ruddigore during the summer before sixth grade.

Waltzing during the Pineapple song in Cabaret (althought that was with Troy, so maybe it wasn't a solo...)

A couple of solos and duets in "Cabaret," and some duets in "Oliver!"

Not yet, but I was fourth-to-last in Cabaret (and you have no idea how excited I was about that...)

Dozens of times.


Waiting for the auditioner that goes in right before you...

Once you get into the groove of it, the audition gets fun. But the first few seconds always scare the crap out of me...

Any of the SmallTown Middle school plays (badly written non-musical versions of "The Secret Garden" and "Beauty and the Beast.")

Cabaret, The Yeomen of the Guard and probably Les Miserables.

H.M.S. Pinafore


Well, right now not terribly, because I've never gotten paid for a show before and I still love doing it. But, I imagine that if I make a career out of this then it would become increasingly more vital...

During Steel Magnolias, I had to wear an absurdly high and uncomfortable pair of heels, and it was terribly obvious while I was onstage that I was not good at walking in them. Also, during the final dress rehearsal for that same production, when the six of us were completely lost with our lines, I tried to get the scene back on track, and then realized I had skipped over a vital piece of information (oops!)

Hmm someone who shall remain nameless, but I truly hope that she is never a director's assistant ever again.

Nope. The closest I've been to naked onstage was in a leotard for a dance recital.


Yes! And it is sooooo much fun! (Master of the House scene in Les Miserables, the country bar scene in Footloose and Oom Pah Pah in Oliver!

"The Kid" in Wonderful Town (my first time having a line in a show: "Hey Waldo, wait for me!")

I was 60-something as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret, 40-something as Truvy in Steel Magnolias, and now I'm 50-something as Widow Corney in Oliver!

Cabaret and a little bit during Steel Magnolias


Nope (?)



Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Blurb: Katy Perry

Okay, this post is going to be made up of my opinions on a very controversial topic that faces the youth of our country today, and has been causing quite a stir. That topic is Katy Perry.

I love her! I think she's awesome! She has an awesome voice, her songs are fun and interesting and she is totally cool and unique and I give her props for that. I know her songs are very controversial, but I think she rocks and I don't care who knows it!

One of my favorite songs of hers is "Thinking Of You," and I'm actually a little pissed that it doesn't get as much radio play as "Hot N' Cold" or "I Kissed A Girl." (Even though I love those songs too...) But "Thinking Of You" is a gorgeous song, and the poetry in it is absolutely heart-breaking (but in a good way!)

I also love "Hot N' Cold" and "I Kissed A Girl." For me, they're each just one of those songs that you hear on the radio, and at first you think in your head "I've never heard this before. It's kinda weird," and then the next time you hear it, you think "This song's annoying," then the next time it's "Ugh, I hate this song, why is it played so much???" But then, after you've heard it a million more times in the car on your way home from "Oliver" rehearsal, you catch yourself humming it or realizing you can't get the words out of your head. Then, the next time you hear it, you think "This song is starting to grow on me a little I guess," then by the next time, you're singing along with it and FINALLY, the time after that, you can't help but admit "Okay, I really like this song!" You know what I mean? has anyone else heard songs like that? Anyone? Helloooo?

Of course, there are plenty of people who don't get that reaction from these particular songs, and the transformation ends at "God, why can't they stop playing this f***ing song every f***ing day on every f***ing radio station????????" And I respect that opinion. There are tons of songs that I still find annoying no matter how many times i hear them (*COUGH* Flo-Rida *COUGH*) I just happen to find these ones enjoyable. And, of course, they are the PERFECT dance party songs (both were featured on my play-list for my Sweet 16 party, along with "Livin' La Vida Loca" "Wannabe" "Cha-Cha Slide" and of course "Life Is A Highway." I was going for a "One song from every year of my life" thing, and then added a bunch of new songs...)

And then, of course, there's the other issue with these songs: The "inappropriate" and "homophobic" lyrics. I get it. I totally TOTALLY get it. I also fail to realize why so many men are turned on by two girls making out. And I don't think it's funny when people make jokes about "womanly issues." And, believe me, no one get's madder than I do when someone in my company uses "gay" as an insult.

But do you know what else I do? I can sort of mentally push these things aside for a few minutes while listening to music. I want to listen to the song from an unbiased standpoint and judge it only based on it's musical, poetic and interpretational styles. That's one of the things that Mr. Baker always bugs me about (he hates Katy Perry with a fiery passion.) When he heard "Ur So Gay" for the first time he just called her a homophobe and said that was an awful thing to say about someone, and moved on. But, after listening to it a few more times, I realized what she is really talking about: She is talking to her ex-boyfriend, who she said in interviews was a huge jerk and dumped her in the worst possible way, and who wears guy-liner and spends more time looking in the mirror than she does and talks and acts like a huge emo poser, and and she's telling him "Stop being such a phony, start being a real person and get your effing act together." In a way, it's exactly the same message as Avril Lavigne's hit "Complicated." Now I will admit, the use of the word "gay" wasn't great word choice on her part, but other than that, I really like the style and most of the other lyrics in the song, and if/when I hear it on the radio, I will gladly sing along.

Plus, just a little side note, I asked one of my best friends, Troy what he thinks of the song (because he happens to be gay) and he said that he loves it. When I asked him about the whole "using gay as an insult" thing, he said this: "Well, yeah. I mean, I hate it when people use gay as an insult when their talking about something, but I still think it's a fun song. It's funny and ironic, and... I don't know, I just love it!"

So, that is how I interpret it anyway, but other opinions/interpretations of the song are more than welcome.

Also, for those of you who still aren't convinced (and if you never are convinced, that's fine with me) here's a song that she did a few years ago, that was featured in the movie "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." You can get an idea of what the "Pre-I-Kissed-A-Girl" Katy Perry was like:

So, as I always do with my blurbs, I am welcoming any discussions or debates or constructive criticisms of what I have said (as long as you give it decent justification.)