Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Show #120 July 5, 2014

This one's for Melinda... and the cast of The Full Monty!

Melinda- The Connection Let It Rock 
I Want You Back- The Plimsouls The Plimsouls... Plus 
Out of the Blue- Buzzcocks The Way 
Little Runaway- Radio City Class of '77 
Motel Girl- The Greatest Liar The Girl With The Chestnut Eyes 
I Don't Know You Anymore- Bob Mould Beauty and Ruin 
Hold On To The Night- Starz Attention Shoppers! 
Make It Happen- The Chevelles Girl God 
^I Want You Back- Hoodoo Gurus Stoneage Romeos 
The Joke's On You- Shoes Ignition 
Wait A While- The Hold Steady Teeth Dreams 
When Your Eyes Meet Mine- Warm Soda Young Reckless Hearts 
We Vibrate- The Vibrators Pure Mania 
Don't You Want It- The Quick Mondo Deco 
*I Want You Back- The Leftovers Eager to Please 
*I Want You Back- The School Let It Slip EP 
*I Want You Back- The Shivers More 
*I Want You Back- The Hot Rocks The Hot Rocks 
*I Want You Back- City Thrills City Thrills EP 
*I Want You Back- Chad VanGaalen and Xiu Xiu The Green Corridor II 
Smirk- The CRY! Dangerous Game 
Animal Instinct- The Twisteroos Twisted! 
If Only Alan Won The Pools/Seven Years In These Boots- Denzil Pub 
>I Want You Back- Graham Parker Local Girls 45 
Take a Chance- The Late Show Portable Pop 
Crime Scene- Kevin K Band Rule The Heart 
Get It Moving- Raspberries Raspberries 
Open Wide- Chris Von Sneidern Sight and Sound 
Ain't That Beat- The Nice Boys The Nice Boys 
I Want You Back- The Kooks Inside In Inside Out

^Power Pop Peak:  #3 College Radio Charts 7/15/84

*SacroSet:  Songs Called "I Want You Back"

>Power Pop Prototype:  1979

If you've been following along on facebook, you know that the main reason for the dearth of new ALL KINDSA GIRLS episodes in the last month or so is that I was cast as Harold Nichols in eTc!'s production of The Full Monty in this year's Sonoma Theatre Alliance Festival.  One of the things that made this show different is that Cat the director and James the producer decided to cast a wide net for actors, hiring several professionals.  I got to work with people from across the country (New York, Connecticut, Virginia) and the Bay Area (Sacramento, Oakland, Santa Rosa, Napa) along with some local Sonoma actors and crew I've known for years.   

The cast also included a young woman named Brooke who appeared on Broadway in both Hairspray and Beauty and The Beast.  My daughter Nica is a huge Hairspray fan and was quite impressed when I told her I was in a show with the girl who played Penny, as in "Penny Pingleton is positively, permanently, punished!"  Even more impressive Brooke played the lead role Belle in Beauty and The Beast.  Not only talented, she is a genuinely nice person- during a six hour rehearsal one night she bought pizza for the cast and crew.  And I'll never forget the cast party at our house a few weeks later watching Nica and her friends beam with joy as Brooke and Jim (who was Ethan in Monty and had auditioned for the Hairspray touring company) performed the dance from "The Nicest Kids In Town" in our living room.

eTc!'s Rocky Horror Show 2011
I'm used to a pretty grueling eight week rehearsal schedule for musicals and during tech week (the last week before opening night) you pretty much put the rest of your life on hold.  Before Rocky Horror Show went up, we had rehearsed twenty days straight, with one mammoth twelve hour rehearsal the Sunday before we opened!   

etc!'s The Full Monty 2014 song "Scrap"
The Full Monty was a completely different experience.  Needless to say, assembling such a geographically diverse group of actors made for a very chaotic rehearsal schedule. The locals started work in mid-April but the full cast wasn't assembled until May 18th, less than two weeks before our May 31st opening!  Moira the stage manager's calendar must have looked like a quantum physicist's blackboard trying to schedule those rehearsals.   
For more than a month we had stand-ins for the out of town
actors but as each of them arrived, within a day or so they had seam- lessly melded into the production.  (Four of the six Monty men had played their roles before, so that certainly helped.) Even after three times as many rehearsals, I was struggling to keep up with them- the way they were able to instantly memorize difficult vocal harmonies and complex choreography was awesome to behold.  Myself, I'm in more of the "grind it out" school.  Kevin the music director had me record all my vocal parts on my iPhone and I went over them about a thousand times before getting them down.  

"Michael Jordan's Ball"
The dancing is even tougher for me.  Again I used my iPhone, this time to make videos of Amy the Choreographer, Jim the Dance Captain and James, another pro who had done the show before, recording them from behind so I could break down all the steps.  Unfortunately, the videos take up so much space on the phone I can only record about a minute at a time.  Between the songs "Michael Jordan's Ball" and "Let It Go" I must have ten choreo videos on the phone (Jaime made fun of me every time I used the abbreviation "choreo" but that's what
"You Rule My World"
everyone else called it).  The good news is that my big Act One number- "You Rule My World," Harold's duet with Dave- is a ballad so I didn't have any steps to learn.  One of the things I love about this song is that Harold is singing to his wife and Dave is singing to.... his stomach!

While The Full Monty is a musical comedy, Cat the Director had us play the dramatic scenes straight.  Initially this felt like a bizarre mash-up of Chekhov and Sondheim but she was absolutely right.  The drama helped keep the show anchored and relatable, making the lighter moments that much more fun.  Of course the only question folks in town had when I told them I was in show was "well, are you going to go the Full Monty?"  People know the movie much more than the musical so at the outset their questions are all about the wangs.  The standard answer was "buy a ticket and find out" but inside the production I don't think it was clear until tech week.

Vicki and Harold in his Funeral Suit
I couldn't even think about the naked stuff until I'd figured out how to do my quick costume change before the final number.  Playwright Terrence McNally really shafted me on that one- giving me a page and a half of dialog and one verse of the "You Rule My World" Reprise to change from my funeral suit into my security guard uniform for "Let It Go."  That's taking off shoes, pants, plaid boxers, shirt, tie, jacket and a microphone that is taped to my face/body in four places (since you're stripping, someone backstage has to re-set the microphone in your hat for the final number).  I had to put on shoes, belt, white boxers, tearaway pants/shirt/tie and blue windbreaker. 
"You Rule My World" Reprise and Wardrobe Malfunction(s)
I love this photo from our final dress rehearsal:  my glasses are crooked, my tearaway tie is in my pocket, my shirt and jacket collar are a mess, my belt is undone, my pants are unsnapping and though you can't see it, I only have on one shoe.  On top of that I almost made Susan miss her first line in the song.  Nonetheless, this was an improvement over the previous rehearsal where I never made it on stage at all and she had to sing to a mythical Harold.  What a nightmare!  Thank God Kerry, Amber and Connor came to my rescue after that night- they were an amazing team.  Picture me in a NASCAR pit, not as the driver but as the car, and you'll get an idea of what it was like.  By the end of the run Susan and I were getting back on stage before the song even started.

The Costumers Amanda and Deb gave us our red g-strings a few days
Imagine this with LESS fabric!
before opening night.  I tried not to get to upset when they gave me a "small."  When I asked about it Amanda said the size was based on the waist measurement... sure it is (sigh).  Anyway, there was nothing to these g-strings.  It took me ten minutes to get mine on the first time and even when I could get it to stay in place, as soon as I moved- boing! genital slingshot.  Amanda ended up having to add about 100% more red fabric to each g-string which made us all feel much better.  (I still don't know why anyone would wear such a thing.  Several years ago Vice magazine forever ruined g-strings/thongs for me when they pointed out: "men who love girls in thongs think women don't poop."  Nasty but true.)

"Let It Go"
Now that we had our man parts covered, the last thing to figure out was how to get naked without everyone seeing said parts.  On youtube you'll find Full Monty videos where they strip down to black lit thongs or flashlights covering their junk but to the best of my knowledge in our production there was never a conversation about whether we would get naked. Just like our characters in the show, we were fully committed and for me anything less would have been a lame cop out.  That said, outside of drunken 23 year old bachelorette parties and gay nude beaches, most people don't want to see the penis.  Jaime told me a few people said to her "I want to see Full Monty, but I really DON'T want to see Rick's... (uncomfortable pause)."  Understandable- I take no offense.  

So, the question is how do you honor the production without searing the image of six wieners onto your audience's retinas?  The answer, as it so often is in theater, is lighting.  It comes down to brightness and timing.  Like most productions, we had a lit Full Monty sign behind us for the finale but it wasn't going to throw the kind of blinding brightness we needed for proper coverage.  So, the experimentation began.  The final week we probably spent five hours on the half-second light cue that closes the show.  Connor the lighting designer eventually decided to go with less rather than more light and we locked the cue in with our choreography.  

I'd like to say it was smooth sailing from there but at the opening night gala benefit at the 323 seat Sebastiani Theatre... well let's say if people are looking at me funny at the bank or Sonoma Market these days at least I know why.  I'll never forget hearing RJ, who played Dave, yell "NO!" when we turned for the final reveal.  Yet like good soldiers we went for it anyway, despite what was clearly the wrong light cue.  That's live theater for you.  On the plus side, everyone LOVED the show and a lot of people said they didn't see anything.  I figure that if only half the sell-out crowd was close enough to see, that's 161 people and dividing their attention between the six Monty Men means only about 27 people potentially saw my naughty bits that night.  I like those odds!

I'm happy to say the light cue was perfect the remainder of the run at Andrews Hall.  Even the women in the cast, who are right up at the front of the stage, said they couldn't see anything but silhouettes.  Perhaps they're just being polite- but after all we've been through together I believe them.
I'm last guy on the left.
Jaime and the kids came to the third performance and they loved it.  Nica ended up seeing the show a total of five times and has been listening to the cast album ever since. Scott, who played Jerry, had a line in the script he would change every night.  The third or fourth time Nica came to show he went with "Holy Mary Mother of  Nica Love" and she just about died.  The lead actor called her name out on stage!

I am so thankful to have worked with such an amazing cast and crew.  The Full Monty is an experience I will never forget.

(BIG thanks to Peter for taking the pictures for this post and to Susan for burning them all on a disc for the cast and crew-you guys rock!) 

Streaming/download links for this week's All Kindsa Girls are below (to download right click and "Save Link As")
Hour 1
Hour 2

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