Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sketchy Behavior Makes Merry Masterworks

Posted by Bruce Miller
Do you ever wonder what performers do while they’re waiting in the wings? Here are two answers from the closing night of Home for the Holidays.

While anticipating their entrances at tables off right, our meistersingers were apparently less than riveted by the performances of their fellow songbirds. It was their fifth performance after all, and they had limited view.

From all accounts our vocal Vulcans allowed their eyes and thoughts to wander from the stage, finally finding some errant piece of trash and deciding to draft upon it a graphic storyboard for All Those Christmas Clichés. This beautiful Lynn Ahrens / Stephen Flaherty classic-in-the-making (that's Lynn and Stephen pictured above and to the left) was masterfully performed each night by Janine Serresseque. The Ahrens / Flaherty duo also wrote music and lyrics for Ragtime, Once on this Island, Seussical the Musical, and A Man of No Importance--source of Audra's song, Princess. Last night during the show, the cast created a visual homage to the evocative lyrics of All Those Christmas Clichés. Their artwork is pictured below.

Janine warmly amused the house with her “local” rendition of the song: “I’ve spent Christmas in Mechanicsville, Christmas in Midlothian, Christmas in Varina and Luray.” I don’t believe those noble neighborhoods are depicted in our cast-created artwork, but many of the Christmas clichés mentioned in the song are.
For a fun party game, see if you can locate: “a tree full of toys and tinsel,” a “wreath on the red front door,” “elves in the yard,” a “sentimental card dripping glitter on the floor,” “plywood reindeer,” a “horse-drawn sleigh,” “a turkey with all the trimmings,” “Johnny Mathis,” “perfect skaters,” a “fruitcake with sugar glaze,” “snow,” a “choir,” “candles in the window,” “chestnuts roasting on the fire,” “a house filled with noise and laughter,” “a street bathed in twinkling light,” “bells,” “drums,” “mistletoe,” “sugar plums,” “kids to tuck in tight,” and last but not least, “that guy in the bright red outfit.” I think five or six may be missing, but then I've never been good at these games.

Vigorous debate arose during the closing party as to whether or not Santa was still wearing his fur-trimmed pants. Hmm.

The second masterpiece created by our Michelangelos of melody—actually I think it was a single Michelangelo (or Michelangelette)—is a pen and ink portrait on cocktail napkin entitled “Crabby in the Front Row.”

Yes, dear readers, if you don’t know by now that actors notice each and every facial expression in the audience, then you don’t know actors. Only the purest of artistes—the ones who swear they never read reviews—will deny noticing and reacting to misanthropic pusses spreading gloom and doom down front.

The estimable Robyn O’Neill has long stated that audience members should have to audition for Rows A, B and C. And here’s why. Each singer, one after the other, was literally abuzz last night with chat about the “grouch on the front row.” Unbeknownst to those of us sitting behind her, an apparently discontent woman sat not three feet from our singers, glaring up at them all night long doing her best impression of Grumpy of Seven Dwarfs fame. No wonder her anonymous visage prompted this cocktail napkin characterization.
Time to turn that frown upside down, dontcha think?

So if you’d prefer not to be immortalized on disposable paper by the cast of an upcoming theatrical production, then SMILE next time you’re sitting within fifteen feet of the stage, or anywhere else in the theatre for that matter. At the very least, look vaguely pleasant. I can’t tell you how much we ALL will appreciate it.

And here's a fun fact to recall when trying to summon up that requested good cheer. The preliminary results are in, and it appears that you audience members for Home for the Holidays (99.9% of whom weren’t ill-tempered or cross) swelled the coffers of the Richmond Theatre Artists Fund by approximately $3,400—we’re still doing the final tabulation. That’s enough to make anyone happy, and a wonderful holiday gift to Richmond's theatre community. Many, many thanks to all involved.

Merry Christmas and a belated Happy Hanukkah!

--Bruce Miller

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's hilarious...Happy Holidays all at Theatre IV/ gotta love the audiences...(I think)

Rick St. Peter