Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So Many Openings, So Little Time

Posted by Bruce Miller
I’m in crazy time crunch mode this month. Practically every breathing minute is spent in a theatre, a rehearsal hall, or an administrative office. I’m directing Sanders Family Christmas for Barksdale Hanover Tavern, which means evening rehearsals Monday through Thursday, and daytime rehearsals in three-hour slots on Saturday and Sunday. When I’m not in rehearsal I’m trying to raise money, honor my community and family obligations, and/or plan for Barksdale and Theatre IV’s future.

I like all of it, so I can’t complain about what I’m doing. My complaint is about what I’m not doing—specifically, going to see the shows my friends are in. Even more specifically, I’m really upset with myself for missing Side Show at the Mill. I’m Robyn O’Neill’s biggest fan, and I let her performance (which everyone said was wonderful) slip by unseen, at least by me. (I love your work on stage too, Angie; we don’t go back as far.)

As if missing Side Show were not enough, I’m also about to miss Hamlet at Richmond Shakespeare (I really wanted to see my buddy Jeff Cole); Starting Here, Starting Now with my longtime pals Dee Lynch and Ed Polich at St. Michael’s; and The Music Man at Henrico Theatre Company, directed by brother-in-arms Joe Pabst. Shoot!

I missed young chum Elliot Lau (sounds like a Chinese dish, doesn’t it?) in that play about the Hawaiian shirts at Triangle, but I may be able to catch him in Bite Me. I’ve promised good friend Matt Hackman that I’d make it out to The Nerd at Chamberlayne Actors Theatre. God willing and the crick don’t raise, I’ll be able to honor that promise this coming weekend.

I did make it out to three must-see productions last week – one on Friday night (the annual cabaret at Trinity Episcopal School), one on Saturday night (Shadow Play at Theatre VCU), and one on Sunday afternoon (tick; tick … boom! at Stage 1).

The Trinity cabaret was a one-night affair and my daughter Hannah sang Green Finch and Linnet Bird, performing at this annual songfest for her fifth and final time. She was GREAT, and I couldn’t be more proud. Brian Phillips (who includes theatre director among his many jobs at Trinity) and Brian Rollins (music director extraordinaire) do amazing jobs every day inspiring Trinity students to love the performing arts with not just passion but also intelligence and grace. Every high school should be so lucky as to have teachers like these two.

Shadow Play was the world premiere of a bold, savvy and frequently hilarious performance piece developed over the last several years by David Leong, Gary Hopper and Leland Faulkner. It’s a mind-bending montage of shadow and light, movement and music, comedy and magic—90 or so minutes of tremendous fun. It runs through Nov 23. If you have the chance, you should really go see it.

tick, tick … boom! marks the world premiere not of a particular show, but of a theatre company itself—Chase Kniffen and Peggy Thibodeau’s remarkable Stage 1 Theatre Company. There are those who like their theatre raw and those who prefer a little professional polish. I’ve been known to enjoy both. But I say without hyperbole that tick, tick … boom! is the most impressive, professional, fully realized opening of a new theatre company that I’ve seen in Greater Richmond … ever.

Chase and Peggy have dotted all the i’s and crossed their t’s. They’ve recruited a top notch cast made up of Brett Ambler, Audra Honaker and Durron Tyre—three of the most talented musical theatre performers of their generation. Let’s just face it; Audra Honaker is a phenomenon that Richmond can barely contain.

They have hired a fantastic pit band led by the inimitable Sandy Dacus, and coaxed terrific design work out of three exemplary professionals: Mercedes Schaum (set), Sarah Grady (costumes), and Kenny Mullens (lights). Chase’s direction is first rate. Anyone who would like to see Richmond theatre grow and prosper should go see tick, tick … boom! and support this new and vibrant company.

Well, it’s time to rush off to this morning’s Coffee & Conversations. Hope to see you there. If not, hope to see you in a Richmond theatre soon!

--Bruce Miller

Photo notes: top left: Brett and Durron flying high in tick tick; mid right: Brett and Audra having fun with the green dress; bottom left: all right, it's not from Shadow Play, but rabbit hand puppets appear in Shadow Play, so it's close.


amyberlin said...

Looks like you've missed The Nerd, too! It closed this past weekend, selling out its last three shows. But you can see Matt in CAT's next show, All My Sons, also featuring Jackie Jones, Dean Knight, and a whole bunch of other talented folks!

Frank Creasy said...

It's a common complaint for those of us in the theatre Bruce - the cobbler's children are barefoot, right? And if we're lucky enough to work regularly in this business (or full time and more, in your case), the opportunities to SEE shows pass us by all too often.

I was so glad to get to see THE CLEAN HOUSE, which was an absolutely wonderful show, and I look forward to seeing more shows at Barksdale and other theatres in the weeks to come. Good luck in getting out to see more shows yourself!

Bruce Miller said...

I'm sorry Matt.

JKD said...

I'm very happy The Barksdale has a blog Bruce. I miss your sunny sense of community a lot! It gives me a quick fix.

P.S. I'm in a play directed by Jere Hodgin where I play a closet case and run around nearly nude having intimate moments with another man... its deaper than that, but you get the jist :)

Some things never change!


Bruce Miller said...

Hey John,

It's great to hear from you. I'm glad you're doing well in the frozen north. I miss you. Give Jere my best.

To satisfy my need for a JKD fix, I watch Worst Week, which isn't a very good TV series (so I don't watch it much), but it features an actor, Kyle Bornheimer, who really reminds me of you. And he runs around nearly naked a lot too. Hmmm.