May 29th, 2008

Plane Stamp

Opening/Closing Night

As I write this, it’s been just a couple hours since we completed the one and only performance of the latest incarnation of Song-Poems Wanted! – The Musical. I can honestly say that it went better than I thought it would. That happened for several reasons:

First, the script is clearly better now than it was for our readings in February and March. Larry Carpenter, our playwright, made a lot of smart choices based on feedback received from those readings and produced a play that flowed far better and was much more accessible for the audience. Second, we had a lot of awfully talented performers in the cast – some terrific singers, dancers, and actors, and a couple of pretty fine guitar pickers among them. Next we have our choreographer Jennifer Cupani, who accomplished a great deal in just a few rehearsals. Her work added some great fun to the show, and her eye for movement was also a help even in scenes in which choreography was minimal. As always, our musical director, Kat Tahiri, was there with her nimble fingers on the keyboards and her sterling ear to guide our voices onto the right track. Also very large bouquets to Natalja and Christian, who did a thousand little things to help the show run smoothly.

For me as an actor, it was a joy to do good work with good people. When you’re trying to act with someone whose head isn’t in the game – well, it’s the sound of one hand clapping. But tonight, we had some genuine fun out there playing together. Part of that fun was doing it for an audience for the first time and finding out where the laughs were (and weren’t).

That’s the final piece in tonight’s puzzle I want to acknowledge: the audience. There were quite a few familiar faces out there, and I think they genuinely enjoyed the show, which made all of us feel good. Thanks to all of you who made it out for the show!

I’m not planning on looking for anything in the near future in the way of performing opportunities. Frankly, I have personal things to attend to that are long overdue to be addressed, so a part of me is happy that this show is off my schedule now. At the same time, I’m sorry the show is over. Tonight felt like the kind of run-through one does a week before a show opens – except tonight was closing night. Ah well. Such is the nature of a project like this one. I’m very glad I did it. Thanks again to FP for putting Larry and me in touch with one another back in January and getting me involved with these folks!
  • Current Music
    She Brings Out the Devil in Me - from Song-Poems Wanted! – The Musical

The Power of Words

We Chicagoans are spoiled. I, as a non-native of this town, am probably more aware of this fact than most native Chicagoans. I want to focus today on one particular aspect of our, well, spoilage. One of the benefits of living here is being able to regularly read the writing of Roger Ebert. Yes, everyone knows him from his movie reviews on TV, but his real gift is the art of writing. He possesses a rare talent for awakening one’s mind and emotions through the clarity and eloquence of his prose. It came as no surprise when I found out that Ebert was the first person to win a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism as a film critic.

As I learned when I moved here, though, Ebert writes about a lot more than just movies. He periodically writes essays and commentaries that appear on the editorial pages of the Sun-Times, ranging from current politics to sociology to philosophy, and he does it all with an air of intellectual integrity and honesty. I am moved to write these words because of an essay that appeared in today’s Sun-Times. Ebert wrote a piece titled “How Studs inspires me to carry on.” The reference is to another great Chicago writer, Studs Terkel, who turned 96 a few weeks ago and is still going strong. I have been unable to find the text of the article online, but I have found it in a somewhat longer form right here. I heartily commend it to your attention!

FYI – In case you didn’t know, Ebert has had a succession of health problems over the last several years, which have kept him off TV and have forced him to spend a lot of time in hospitals and rehab centers.
  • Current Music
    Everyone's Gone to the Movies - Steely Dan