Thursday, December 29, 2011

Uncle Vanya Opens Tonight!

Erin Eva Butcher as Sonya

Uncle Vanya opens tonight at the Apollinaire Theatre in Chelsea!

It's been a very amazing process with a really great group of people!  One of my favorite plays, and my first time performing Chekhov.  I hope you can make it! The entire beautiful Odd Fellows Building is being used as the setting, with the audience following us from room to room.

Good news: they have extended the show already!  We now run until the 22nd of January.

FYI: due to the particular staging, the audience can't go over 30 people (which is one of the reasons the tickets are selling so fast!). 

So if you really want to go, please try to get tickets soon!

Follow the above link for all the info and tickets!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Kringletown!

Lordan Napoli as Twinkle
Merry Xmas To You All!

Tommy and I are both off from rehearsal for today and tomorrow.  Saw Merry Wives today, very fun.  On Monday I go into tech for Uncle Vanya and Tommy opens Red two weeks later (he's playing abstract artist Mark Rothko).  We have both recovered from a violent bout of stomach flu that took us both out of commission for a while.

Tomorrow we have a great gift: REST.  And a chance to spend some time together. 
I hope you all do to! 

Today I was thinking of the Christmas show I wrote almost 10 years ago for the (now defunct) Boston Theatre Works: My Life With The Kringle Kult

I wrote it for myself and my good friends Rick Park and Lordan Napoli to perform.  We had a lot of fun doing it. 

It was about this strange place called Kringletown, on the planet Snarfgone, where Elves and Mermaids and Unicorns live.  Santa-ism is a sort of cult for Elves. 

There's also a talking ball of belly button lint named Linty. 
And a chase scene on reindeer. 
And a food fight with Brussels Sprouts.
And Elvis. 

Here's the opening monologue, where Twinkle, a perky elf, greets the audience.   I thought it might give you a chuckle.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Hi everybody!  My name is Twinkle and welcome to Kringletown, where everyday is Christmas day!   

  You are here because you took a very important step (she takes a step forward): you chose to give up your lives of ordinary Elf worries and woes and material comforts to come here and be one of Santa’s Elves and make toys for the rest of your lives.  You are now officially the envy of every gnome, sprite, pixie, hobgoblin, leprechaun, gremlin, oompah loompah, poltergeist and fairy in Snarfgone!  You have all met the high standards and qualifications required to be a true Santa Elf! 

You have signed a very important contract with us.  This isn’t a contract you can see, but rather a contract written on one’s heart.  Of course, you will also be asked to sign this other contract.  (She reveals a document so long, it rolls out on the floor)  This is just a little formality our lawyers drew up, just to make sure everything is merry and nice between us, that’s it’s OK for you to live here, work here, liquidate your assets, which, of course, will be donated to us…  Oh, there’s also a section on food allergies that you should really fill out.  It’s fun!
Being one of Santa’s elves is hard but rewarding work, and there are many advantages and exciting perks.  For one thing, you get to be closer to Santa himself, who is everyone’s favorite guy!  In fact, this is Santa’s secret chamber right here.  
(She indicates a door stage Left.  On it is a huge sign that says “Santa’s Office.  Private.  Keep Out.  No Visitors, Any Time, for Any Reason.  Merry Xmas.”) 

That’s right.  Behind this very door is Santa!  Who knows what he’s doing in there, right now.  He could be making his list.  Or perhaps checking it twice.  He could be roasting chestnuts over an open fire.  Or perhaps having a light lunch with Jack Frost, his old buddy from college.  If I were to fling this door open right now, we would all see Santa, and be bathed in the glory and wonder of His light, and truly believe that there is happiness and peace in the afterlife!
But I can’t do that.  It’s against the rules. 
Santa is SO very busy, he has no time for visitors, so I’m afraid few of you will ever actually SEE Santa.  He eats and sleeps  for the whole year, so he can save up energy for that big special day.  But know that he is here. 
And that he is watching you. 
He’s watching us all.

You know, modern Elf life is filled with so many complicated questions:  Who am I?  Why am I here?  Why was I born an Elf and not a Fairy?  What the Hell is a Smurf?  Well, here in Kringletown, all those questions are answered FOR you:  You are an Elf.  You are here to make toys.  There is no such thing as Good and Evil.  Only Naughty and Nice. You see, it’s very important that you be Nice.  Niceness means that you do the right thing, that you believe in Santa and his teachings, that you follow the rules of Kringle-ism and all its tenets.  Only by being Nice do you make it to Earth and life hereafter. 

(She pulls down a map of Planet Earth)
Earth is a wonderous place, far, far away. 

The most powerful creatures on Earth are called Children, and we must work night and day to appease them.  If it wasn’t for Children, Santa wouldn’t even exist, and we would all be lost.  That’s why we dedicate our lives to making their favorite thing: toys.  Toys are the key to Earth and eternal bliss, because every year, on a special day called Christmas, Santa packs up all the toys we’ve made and carries them in his flying sleigh to Earth, to give to all the good Children.  To the bad Children, we give lumps of coal, which they seem to enjoy for some reason.  In return, The Children of Earth grant Santa and his followers passage to Earth when we die.  Now, we all know what happens to you when you die if you’re just a regular elf, don’t we?  Your spend eternity stuck in an elevator, with giants who pass wind, while the muzak version of “Muskrat Love” by Captain & Tennille plays over and over.  Some afterlife, Huh?  But if you die as one of SANTAS elves, you go to Earth when you die, where everything is Happy!  On Earth, there are no worries or troubles like we have here on Snarfgone.  The rivers are chocolate and the sky is cotton candy!  And everyone lives there in peace and joy and harmony together.  The mermaids and the pixies don’t fight.  The giant’s and the griffins don’t try to blow each other up.  Gnomes are so relaxed on Earth, they are known to just sit on lawns all day and night.  You’ll also get to meet famous elf heroes of yore on Earth, like Linda Hunt and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
Myself as Karl Kringle
As long as you love Santa, and believe in him, everything will be fine.       Just be nice, follow the tenets of Kringleism and Santa will reward you with a trip to Earth when you die.  Because here, there is only one God: Santa.  And you’re living in His house now.  That is all you need to know!  Santa will take care of the rest, because Santa knows all and sees all.  He sees you when you’re… (she encourages an audience member to say “sleeping”)  He knows when you’re… (She does the same thing for “awake” with a different audience member.)   He knows when you’ve been… (bad or good.)  So what do we do, everyone?  (She conducts the rest of the audience)  Be good, for goodness sake!  Yay!!!!!
Now, there ARE a lot of disbelievers out there.  They don’t believe that Santa is telling his followers the truth.  They don’t believe in Earth, or that Children, or fabled cities like Seattle exist.  There have been a lot of nasty things said about us in the newspapers and on TV, and there have been a lot of nasty lawsuits from the families of some of our Elves, who claim that we have brainwashed and kidnapped them.  Well, I’ll tell you right now.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  No one wants to leave here because we are happy here!  There’s plenty of Brussels Sprouts to eat.  Lots of warm, curdly milk to drink, and great music by Esquivel to listen to while you make toys!

I hope that you will all stay.  We’re your family now, and we care about each and every one of you!

 Later on, if you are truly devoted, and make the correct amount of sacrifices, you may one day hope to achieve the highest honor known to elves: the Infinite Embrace with Santa.  At that time, Santa will summon you to his secret chamber, which is right behind this very door.  No one has ever been inside this room until the day of their Infinite Embrace.  On that day, you will appear before the door, rubbed in special oils of motor and baby, innocent of shame and disbelief, and clothing.  The door will open, by some unseen hand and you will enter.  Alone.  The lights will be lowered, Burl Ives will play gently in the background, and you will lie on Santa’s holy water bed, which I’m told is filled with the life water of a hundred talking snowmen.  You close your eyes.  Soon, Santa will be by your side holding you in his strong, chubby arms.  His ample, over-flowing belly, all pale and blue-veined like some wonderous jelly fish, rubs against your quivering flesh.  You’ll smell the nog and fruitcake on his breath.  Slowly, he’ll pull down your scratchy smelly burlap smock, and you’ll hear him whisper on the pulsing tenderness of your throat: “Ho.  Ho.  Ho.”

Before you know it, you are tangled in a sensual orgy or sweat, cookie crumbs and long white facial hair.  You have never known such joy or happiness, as Santa gives you the biggest present of your life.  Again.  And again.  And Again!

At least, that’s how I would imagine it. 
Rick Park as Mitzi Von Shatzdoodle
  I’m told it’s better than a 100 roller coaster rides, and twice as fast!  Once an elf has achieved the Infinite Embrace with Santa, you are closer to Earth than ever.  Only the brightest, smartest, and most attractive elves attain such a privilege, and I personally pray everyday to the Mistletoe Goddess that I might be granted with the special qualities that Santa Seeks.  For this very reason, sexual relations among elves is strictly forbidden here in Kringletown.  All elves must remain pure and innocent until the Infinite Embrace is achieved, and anyone caught disobeying this rule will be executed. 
Now if no one has any questions... (awkward silence)  Great!  So, we can all repair to the Reindeer Room, for cookies and caroling, contract signing and the group wedding. 

Goodbye for now! 
Santa loves you! 
Merry Xmas! 
Silent Night!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Balcony - Photo Call

We had a Post-Production meeting this week for The Balcony.  The Production Manager called it a "Post Mortem", which is fitting in a way:
it's a production I've been thinking about for well over a year. 
A week of auditions and callbacks. 
Many design and production meetings. 
4 weeks of rehearsal. 
5 days of tech in the theatre. 
4 performances. 
And now, the production is a memory. 
So, it feels like a loss of some sort. 
What we do is very brief and ephemeral. 
It was all over before we all knew it, there is little record of it, and only a handful people were able to see the show. 
But it will still remain one of the best experiences I've had so far, working on a play. 
I feel very grateful.

I was able to procure production photos.

Set Design by Christina Todesco.
Lighting Design by Jeff Adelberg
Costumes by Gail Buckley
Sound by David Reiffel
Video by Jeff Maynard
Prop design by Megan Simmons
Stage Manager: Maura Neff
Asst. Stage Manager: Keith Potts


Nicky Sawyer as Irma
Joe Longthorne as The Chief of Police
Keith White as Roger
Grace Tarves as Carmen
Meredith Myers as Chantal
Grant Wallace as The Bishop
Trey Harrington as The Judge
Jessie Muni as The General
Ryan Halsaver as The Slave
Raleigh Bisbee as Rosine
Sarah Drake as Florence
Sara Mullis as Marlyse
Alison McCartan as Elyane
Bartlett Mather as Arthur
Paul Lang as The Envoy
Peter Romanga as Photographer #1 (Blood)
Riley Brack as Photographer #2 (Tears)
Greg Pike as Photographer #3 (Sperm)

Beautiful Photography by Max Wagenblass.
All photos copyright: The Boston Conservatory, Photo by Max Waxenblass