Friday, March 24, 2006

Thoroughly modern?

"Everything today is thoroughly modern"...except for my sisters and I. We're not Amish or anything...we just have different tastes than a lot of society. Why are we kind of stuck in the past? I'll tell you. I don't know.

The main thing that separates us from modern culture is the type of movies that fall into our "favorites" category. We love old movies. Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye, Don Knotts, and Bing Crosby are some favorite actors of ours. I think the reason why we hold onto these movies is probably because the humor is just so...pure. I don't really know how to explain it. It's not crude, and it's genuinely funny.

A lot of the movies that we love come from my Grandpa Murray's house, so I'm sure there are good memories associated with them. Spending quality time with my family and grandparents, laughing together, and growing closer together are memories that come with watching old movies.

So, that's why my sisters and I like older movies. They just have a good feeling about them. I don't have to worry about my sisters hearing or seeing any thing that they shouldn't while we're watching movies together. We like new movies too, some of them even make our 'favorites' list, but old movies are the best! And if any one needs a list of good old movies, we've got a few. Movie party!!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Blasny, blasny.

I love all my grandpa's shows, but "The Foreigner" was especially memorable. Trevor was adorable and lovable as Charlie, the "foreigner", Casey was just a freaky KKK leader, and the rest of the cast was simply hilarious! There was this bond that you could feel with the whole cast.

The intamacy of the Little Theater definitely lends a hand in making shows an enjoyable experience. Being so close to the actors allows you to see every expression from sadness to joy to confusion. There was a part in the play where Charlie and Ellard lay on the ground to read a book, and as they got down on their stomachs, the whole audience stood up to see what was happening better. It was great! The small space made it so that you could hear everything, and the laughter of the audience made it so much more fun. We could hear my grandpa laughing the whole time, and it was hilarious. He is such a jovial cheeseball.

The show is just a funny, well written show, and the actors did a really good job interpreting who their character was. They were so believable. I even found myself forgetting that Trevor did, in fact, speak english and that Casey was a normal guy. Connie was just like an old woman. This cast was amazing.

CHARLIE "La la. Blasny, blasny."
ELLARD "What's 'at mean?"
FROGGY "Wot, 'Blasny, blasny?' I might be wrong, but I think it means, 'Enjoy it while yer've got it.' Am I right, Charlie?"
CHARLIE "No. 'Blasny, blasny'? Eet mean-'Ain't dees nice?'"

It certainly was nice.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A selfish profession

I am referring here to acting. Now before I get people mad at me, let me just say that I'm not trying to say acting is evil. That's not it at all. I mean, I love the theater, and I've done a bit of acting in my life. What I am trying to say is that acting is all about appearances. That makes it selfish. As an actor, you're constantly worrying about how you came across, how you sounded, and how you looked.

Think about auditions. You generally don't go into an audition thinking, 'Wow, that girl who auditioned for the same part as I did is really good. I hope she gets the part of Laurie!' No. Usually you are thinking, 'I hope I sing my best and do my cold read the best so I can get the part of Laurie.' Is there anything wrong with this? We need to decide where to draw the line. You, as an actor, need to decide just how diva-esque you are going to be.

If you're going to make it as an actor, you need to be a little selfish. No one is going to cast someone who doesn't care how they come across, how they read their lines, or how they sing. When you go to auditions, you can't just give your part away to other people because you are being unselfish. Perhaps this shouldn't be called selfish, but it kinda is.

Sometimes, actors start getting so selfish that they will do anything for that solo or that monologue, or do anything to have more lines because they are the best. This is when selfish starts getting too selfish. So it's up to us. Where will we as a theater community draw the line?

The other night my grandpa was hurt because of a selfish actor. During one of their shows, Tony was trying so hard to act distraught about Maria's death that he was shaking poor old Doc more violently than he should have. My grandpa fell down because of that. Despite frequent pleas to shake him softly, Tony forgot about the person who he was playing opposite and became too immersed in his own character. (By the way, I'm being selfish about acting right now because I'm mad at Tony for hurting my grandpa.)

In this same production, an audience member's nice leather cowboy hat and coat were ruined because the actors wanted to come across as real as possible, so they used fake blood. Unfortunately, it got out of hand and into the audience. That man was so mad!

So, acting is selfish. But it can be two different kinds of selfish: selfish for the benefit of the show itself, or selfish for the benefit of one's self.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

What an honor...

"The Ragan Theater Showcase Award: an opportunity for UVSC to acknowledge and highlight the talents and accomplishmets of college, community, and high school achievments in the arts." Syd Riggs is a previous recipient of this award. This year, the award's recipient was my grandfather. But the award turned out to be more work than recognition.

Last August when my grandpa first told me he was going to receive this award, I was so excited! I was thinking, They're finally going to recognize the person who makes the most difference in fine arts. That's what we all were thinking. My grandpa, being the type of person he is, wasn't very thrilled. He was flattered, I'm sure, but he's not the type who needs to be recognized. He'd rather not be in the spotlight. That's why he directs: to give others a chance. My excitement just increased when my grandpa told me they asked him to direct Little Mary Sunshine, our favorite show, for the award showcase. My grandpa wasn't sure he'd be able to do it because he was directing A Christmas Carol at the time that rehearsals for Little Mary would start, but he accepted anyway.

And then the work began.

The first step was casting the show. Auditions are really hard, so my grandpa hand picked his cast. He chose the people who he thought would be the best in the various roles. After he had it all cast, we had to start having rehearsals.

We couldn't rehearse at UVSC until one week before opening, so it was up to my grandpa to find somewhere else to practice. Another aspect of rehearsals was finding a music director, a choreographer, and rehearsal accompanists. Usually, you have to pay these people, even for community theater. But, my grandpa didn't have any sort of a budget for these things. He was doing all this volunteer work for his own award, after all. Luckily, there are people who love my grandpa enough to help him, even without pay. I got to be the rehearsal accompanist.

The set needed to be built. So, my grandpa built the set. T came and helped us. She's an amazing set designer and a wonderful painter. T and my grandpa make a good team. Together, and with a little help from the cast and Orem's stage craft classes, they built a beautiful set. It took a long time though, and my grandpa isn't as spry as he once was, but somehow he kept up. He also found costumes for the whole cast.

My mom and my aunt volunteered to play the piano for Little Mary. The score was originally written for two pianos, and then later was transcribed for performance with an orchestra. My aunt and my mom have played for Little Mary before, and they did it again. It sounds better with two pianos then with an orchestra.

Somehow, my grandpa managed to keep going through all of this. He was directing two shows at once, teaching classes at Orem High, building sets for his two shows and for Orem's shows, but he never wavered. He's an amazing person. He got bronchitis, but he always gets sick right after a show opens. All the stress gets his immune system down, I guess.

So, he did all this work. And for what? Nothing really. Every night before the show started, this weird guy would get on stage and give a little speech about things, but his little speech did more harm than good. It was insulting at times, and it even poked fun at Syd's death, something everyone was trying to get over. Friday night was the night they were going to give him "the award". It was a nice little glass thing and a gift certificate for him and my grandma to go to dinner.

My grandpa is a very nice person. He is not selfish at all. That's why he does all this volunteer directing. Even so, his thoughts on the matter were "Next time you're going to give someone an award, make a show for them. Don't make them do the show for their own award."

I just don't understand how this experience constitutes an award. Especially since UVSC just announced they are going to be doing Little Mary Sunshine this spring semester. That's like a slap in the face. Why did they ask my grandpa to do all that work for that specific show if they're just going to do it themselves? But anyway...

The Ragan Theater Showcase Award: an opportunity for UVSC to get free publicity using people who the community loves and appreciates.

*On a happier note, the SCERA just gave my grandpa the "star of the year" award. Now that is an award he deserves and was presented in a very nice manner. It still embarrasses him a little, but that's because he doesn't like attention. I love my grandpa!!