23 June 2008

Happy As a Clam (Dinner)

Fred's Shantyis conveniently located down the road from my dorm. It was brought to my attention when a kind associate offered to show me and a coupla interns around town, just to give us a sense of what else was out there, besides the well traveled path between our dorm building, and The O'Neill Proper. Due to it's close proximity, it was the first attraction mentioned by the guide. Once he said the words "deep fried" "seafood" and "delicious", the rest of the tour became hominahominahomina as I imagined what wonders this potential local treasure held in store...that is, until we stopped at an Amazing Ice Cream Place, and I ate a scoop of banana as big as my head.

Throughout the week, visions of deep fried clams ran through my head. I don't have a lifelong history of loving deep fried clams, but something in my gut told me Fred would do right by me, and fried clams. And Oprah always says "trust your gut". Now, 4 hours after eating, my gut has not betrayed its confidence, and look at all it led me to:

It was perfect. The chowder has the perfect texture and consistency--not too heavy, not too watery--with perfectly sized ingredients (shout out to the potato chopper) and a touch of sweetness. The clam strips themselves are tender, hot, never chewy. So good I didn't mind being handed Kraft Tartar Sauce tubs. (Seriously, they couldn't at least put it in a little paper ramekin so I could believe they make their own?) Th fries were thin, crispy and well seasoned. The generous drop of cole slaw was also delicious, if twice as much as any one person would ever need. Even their fountain soda was fizzy and delicious (and at a place like that, you expect flat, warm, and miserable...so much so that I almost didn't bother to order it).

Well done Fred. You can expect me the next three Mondays. And, as much as I am enjoying myself here, and the people I'm working with and the projects I'm working on, when I board that train/bus/whatever on July 20th, I think I will miss Fred most of all.

21 June 2008

Video Tour of the O'Neill (of sorts)

So Layhoon, the Production Manager, apparently took this video of me explaining Bluetooth technology to Bud, one of the shuttle-van drivers. It is a good introduction to Bud (who makes me look quiet), as well as the O'Neill "campus". There's a log cabin-like building that passes on our left. That's the pub where I spend more than I make. It's called "The Blue Gene". At the end you see "The Mansion" which houses writers, administrative offices, and the kitchen/cafeteria. And for those of you confused by Bluetooth, it's probably...well, still confusing.

Watch This Before It Goes Away

When I was looking up YouTube videos of "June Is Busting Out All Over", I came accross of number of response videos/parodies to this, but the actual clip could not be found...because it was taken down. Well, a comrade here at the O'Neill discovered it again, so I suggest you watch Leslie Uggams murder "June is Busting Out All Over" before it goes away again. This video shows the murder once, then again with subtitles, then again with lame sound effects. The 3rd pass is unnecessary. But seriously, watch this while you can.

Worst Product Ever

19 June 2008

Post Tony Closings and some HEIGHTS Love

Now that the Tonys are over, and the losers have to pack up now. A Catered Affair has announced it is closing at the end of the month. Cry-Baby (which was bloody awful, truly), has been even more pro-active, closing on Sunday, one week after getting shut out from awards it largely didn't deserve nominations for, especially compared to the bleak but well crafted Catered). I wonder if the Tony telecast did anything to help Xanadu. Methinks showing America Cheyenne Jackson in cut-off shorts couldn't hurt. But it seems that In the Heights out-performed just about everything (though South Pacific sounded ravishing). Could Passing Strange be next on the chopping block? I felt their Tony performance probably did more harm than good, opting to show 2 minutes of running around screaming "yeah it's all right" instead of singing any of the beautiful, innovative music that makes the show great. It's had a hard time finding an audience, and I don't think last Sunday's show is going to help.

Here is a clip of In the Heights from Good Morning America. It will make you HATE Good Morning America, but that's beside the point. They perform "It Won't Be Long Now", which is mainly a showcase for Vanessa (played by the fabulous Karen Olivo). I find this character fascinating. She has the kind of chip on her shoulder usually reserved for men in musicals. She's bitter, angry, confused, confusing, but entirely sympathetic, largely due to this song (which also features leading man and composer/lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda in addition to Robin de Jesus). She's a new kind of assertive musical dame, and felt very "real" to me in a musical world that often didn't.

The song starts about 50 seconds in. WARNING: Ms. Olivo is not in top form, in fact she's borderline busted at points (it's before 9am and they are literally in the middle of Times Square), but her acting (and hair) are fierce, even when she falters on the vocals.

17 June 2008

I'm Here

So it seems like this internet thing might be a good forum for sharing some misadventures at The O'Neill (especially since the experience may prove too all-consuming to allow for other wit and wisdom). Of course, I just had to sign a waiver saying I won't comment on any of the shows or the performances on the internets. Also, I'm not allowed to bang an intern. Actors, writers, and staff are, apparently, fair game. Maybe I have to sign that waiver tomorrow. I have a feeling "Dallas 1" (because I met 2 guys named Dallas within 30 minutes of arriving) did not give me all the information about being here I should've. For example, he dropped me off at my building, said i was on the 3rd floor. Neglected a big one: the bathrooms. I found one--and only one--bathroom on my floor. It had showers...with glass doors. Am I to presume it's a co-ed bathroom? There is no marking to indicate otherwise, and the floor is co-ed. In any case, I peed, but put the seat down. I should probably find out about the shower thing, lest some unsuspecting female get a recreation of that Kevin Bacon scene in Wild Things

Here is a picture of my room:

Yes. It is a dorm. I have my laptop hooked up to an internet cable. I have ugly, boxy furniture. I opened up iTunes and saw shared music from 3 people I've never seen before (2 of whom are named Katie).

As I finish this post, I realize making it a "what I did on a summer vacation" could become a one-way-trip to EmilyGouldtown.
Fear not. In all honesty, I probably will spend most of the summer talking about Mad Men. But every now and then I might post a picture of the dorm room I am living in (which is currently twice as big as my Brooklyn bedroom).

Journey On

In commemeration of my going to adult summer camp for five weeks, I thought it would be a good chance to look at two amature performances of "Journey On" from the musical Ragtime. (Because I'm "journeying", get it? Also, I already showed you clips of a song from a bus.) Still have shit to pack, so won't say much. One is Laguardia High School in NYC, ther other is stummer stock somewhere in middle-America. the High School as the bigger budget. Their Tateh is dressed in Che's costume from Evita, whereas the stock's Tateh has to pull the Tevye rags out of storage.

12 June 2008

Cher is WEST SIDE STORY As...Everyone

I wish the above title was some bit of cleverness on my part, but never in my wildest dreams could I have conceived of anything like what you are about to see. Cher does indeed perform all the parts in an epic medley of West Side Story's best songs, preceded by a framing device where she plays a young girl who doesn't feel special and ishttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif borrowing her mother's West Side Story album to put on West Side Story for her school. Again, I reiterate, I am not making this up. So here, in 2 parts, courtesy of The Internets, is Cher in West Side Story

11 June 2008

A New Reidel Report!


My Man Reidel comments on the ongoing battle between Passing Strange and In The Heights for top honors this Sunday (that's when the Tony's are...watch them with me).

My take on the "grudge" match:

In terms of writing, Strange is clearly the better show. It's innovative, moving, and thought provoking, exploring the relationship between race, family and identity in a way that is both pointedly personable and universal. It also has a great score that is not only unique as theater music, but unlike anything else out there in the "normal people" music scene. And Stew really is fucking cool. But I can see it coming off as perhaps a bit chilly to some audience members.

Heights also has a great score, unlike anything else on Broadway, very much like what one hears on the Top 20 with lots of rap and hip hop and what not. It is tuneful and interesting with an appealing and talented cast and an infectious energy that is undeniable and invigorating. But one has a sense that the world of the play has been sanitized to cast a wider-net: an urban landscape more Plaza Sesamo than El Barrio. Not to say that In The Heights is a "sell out", or in some way untrue to itself, but it does seem quaint compared to Passing Strange's frank, uncomprimising approach. But sitting in the audience for Heights, there is no denying from the minute the house lights fade (if not before then) that you are watching an exciting hit musical, the kind of musical that will make people "go into the theater".

What will this mean on Sunday?....

07 June 2008

Ambiguously Gay Hipsters Love Disney...

...and the prove it on YouTube. Here's a guy that studied abroad with my friend Liv. He is from San Franciso, is in theater, has more than one video of him singing hipster cover of disney princess anthems (including "Reflection" from Mulan, which was definitely after our "childhood"). Naturally, he is not gay. Fucking hipsters. Good news though, apparently he has gotten a hair-cut since this video was made.

This next guy may be a true blue homogay. He sings "Part of Your World"...both parts. Not at the same time, but, well, you'll see.

05 June 2008

A New Reidel Report

When I saw a playbill article about trouble in a new Gershwin/Harry Connick Jr. musical, I assumed my man Reidel would come forward with the gory details...and he did!


03 June 2008

Risa It's Your Birthday

Okay, so first I apologize that I couldn't find the actual clip from the show. If someone else finds it in an embeddable form, I'd gladly switch it out.

And of course, the song is about Lisa, not Risa (though if Risa were a Simpsons character it would totally be Lisa...or maybe that guy in a bee suit.) Anyway, you could either do a mental find/replace and sub in Risas for the Lisas (or Liza!). Alternately, you could assume that the vocals are doing distasteful imitations of Asian Americans (remember all those "flied lice" scenes in A Cricket in Times Square?)

Anyway, happy birthday L'Risa

02 June 2008

A Catered Affair Was Neither Catered nor an Affair...Discuss

So I saw A Catered Affair on Saturday, and though I'm not all that interested in writing a "review", I do feel inclined to discuss the show, particularly in light of its numerous Tony Snubs and generally bad press. And by generally bad press, I mean Ben Brantley's review in The
, because otherwise, I don't really bother to read it.

Brantley ultimately faults the show for is restrained universe, saying "in musicals there has to be some largesse — of spirit, of style, of originality — to make an audience care about those singing strangers onstage. In 'A Catered Affair' people are seldom big enough to pin your feelings on."

The plot is thin: A working class family receives bereavement check after losing their son in the Korean War and has to choose whether to spend it on their daughter's wedding or ownership of the taxi the father had been driving under another man's supervision. Though there is not much more that happens in terms of incident, this conflict drudges up all sorts of emotional baggage and exposes the tensions which lie underneath all the varied familial bonds. There is very little screaming--be it in anger, euphoria, or the throws of passion. But, even hanging out at the edge of the universe in the last row of the balcony, I felt that I was watching very real, vibrant people going through something that was--the them at least--profound. As an old acting teacher would say, "I felt like I was watching something happen."

Would I have still felt that way if director John Doyle loosened the clamp on the production and allowed for a musical number or two (or even a line reading) that soared in the visceral, swelling way one comes to expect with a musical? Yes. Perhaps even more so. But I found A Catered Affair to be exquisitely executed and deliberate: the creative team envisioned a music-theater universe where music and emotion pulse with an understated, even weary, sense of humanity, resignation, longing, and resentment. It is almost a sort of inverse theatricality, and I found it effective.

A Catered Affair is a worthy experiment in the musical form. And though I can agree to disagree with much of what Mr. Brantley writes, I do take umbrage with the notion that a musical "has to" anything: Agreeing that "in musicals there has to be some largesse" can only be limiting to the form, regardless of whether or not A Catered Affair, as a stand alone example, disproves or supports the notion.

Here's a pleasant song from the show, sung perhaps-not-so-pleasantly by Harvey Firestein. I won't be giving away when I say it is reprized less than fifteen minutes after it in initally sung, by an ensemble shuttled around on platforms moving across conveyor belts. A James Lapine Finale if ere I saw one.