Theater Masks

Theater Masks

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Follies on a special day

First, the business: my contract came in the mail today! I signed it, and am as of now an officially "agented" writer. (Well, maybe not until it gets mailed back, but still). WOOHOO!!!!

We went to see Follies on Broadway today to celebrate. I chose this show because, as any of you who knows me at all knows, I'm a total Sondhead. Is that a term? Sondheim freak? How about super-duper-uber Sondheim fan? Anyway, Follies has been at the top of my list of "want to see" shows for a very long time as it's one of the few of Sondheim's I hadn't seen yet. Also on the list: A Little Night Music - didn't get to the revival for several reasons, Pacific Overtures, Sunday (though I've seen the video, of course), and Passion (again, seen the video). Yes, I've even seen a production of Do I Hear a Waltz, for any keeping track.

On to the Follies: it was well worth the wait. The show was stunning - the music (which I knew already would be) was exquisite and the performances were universally strong. I was surprised to find Jan Maxwell (Phyllis) and Danny Burstein (Buddy) to be even better than Bernadette Peters (Sally).

Much has been said about the show, of course, but I want to comment on two elements. First, I'd heard much about "Who's That Woman" in the past. Peter Filichia, a theater critic I've corresponded with for many years, has said often it is his favorite number in any show (forgive me, Peter, if I'm not 100% accurate on that - but he's definitely sung its praises many times). Musically, the song is good, but doesn't reach the heights of some of the other numbers in the show like "Losing My Mind" "Could I Leave You" or my personal favorite, "Too Many Mornings". The staging and choreography are what make the number work, though. As aging chorus girls relive their glory days by performing an old "mirror number" the ghosts of their former selves drift into the dance and become the mirror images of each woman. It's gorgeous, but what makes it so brilliant are the details. The older women aren't perfect - the dance isn't QUITE right, so you get to see what it was, and what their memory and older bodies can do now. It's difficult to put into words, but it truly was one of the most joyful and moving numbers I think I've ever seen on stage. I agree wholeheartedly with Peter's assessment.

The other moment I want to touch on comes right before the "Loveland" sequence. As our four main characters' marriages are breaking apart they begin arguing. The argument is then augmented as ghosts of their past selves come on and we see the couples when they were starting and an early conflict that directly led to the fight in the present. As the older couples fight, their words are echoed by their past selves, or reflected upon by old words. They interact across 30 years by living the whole thing over again, making the same mistakes their younger selves did, but with the twist of thirty more years on them. The writing here was mind-blowing. Seriously, how do you write EIGHT characters in a scene, four of whom are ghostly presences of the other four, have the dialogue resonate perfectly across the decades, and still have the whole thing make complete sense for the audience? Usually I can say "I could do that" with regards to writing -- maybe not exactly like it was done, but I could certainly tackle the problem in a creative way. I honestly don't know that I could have handled this - the control and perfection of the scene was fascinating. I don't know how much of this was due to the staging (which was brilliant) over the writing, but either way, this is now my second favorite non-musical sequence in any show (the first, for the record, is the debate scene in 1776).

If you can get to the Marquis before the show closes, go. Go see Follies and revel in it. The only Sondheim show I can truly say is better is Sweeney Todd - and that's saying something.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Girl

We watched Zooey Deschanel's new show tonight and were pleasantly surprised. We laughed several times through the pilot, and Zooey is very entertaining. We'll definitely be tuning in next week.

Similarly, and in line with my book, Glee returned tonight. I was so happy to see the show back to BROADWAY. Hairspray, Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun, Wizard of Oz - West Side Story jokes...that's what makes Glee the show I wanted to watch in the first place! Let's hope they keep it up!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Big, Huge, Gigantic, Mega, Super Uber awesome news

It happened.

It finally happened.

I can't believe it.

I've been trying and trying and trying for more than two years.

I've written five books.

I've written more drafts of query letters than probably all the pages in one of my shorter books (maybe not, but it's got to be close).

On Friday, I got an email.

Today, I made a phone call.

Later this week, I'll be signing a contract and sending it back to my NEW AGENT!!!!

I'm not ready to say WHO just yet (haven't signed the contract YET) but I'm SO excited.

It's taken so much work, so much talking to other writers, using what I've learned from Writeoncon, editing, revising, and, most importantly, support from my family, friends, and above all, Caitie.

I'll be writing on here tracking my progress, for sure.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

127 Hours

I know I'm a little late on this one, but I just caught the movie on HBO. I was hesitant to watch because of "that scene," but in reality "that scene" is only a small percentage of the screen time. It's easy enough to look away if you're really grossed out (I made myself watch).

From a story telling perspective, I was truly blown away. I HATED Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle's last movie. I thought it was obvious, contrived, and not that interesting visually. 127 Hours was the exact opposite. The movie was riveting, filled with great imagery, symbolism, and even some deep philosophical thoughts. Really, it was about as close to a visual novel as I've seen in a long time. I don't want to get into the details of that - it's best if you experience it for yourself if you haven't already, but it truly is well done and smart.

Franco's performance has been much discussed and I have nothing to add except I'm no longer so sure Colin Firth should have won that Oscar for best actor. He was exceptional.

The movie is similar to Castaway, but eliminated what I thought was the fatal flaw of that movie - the opening in the Tome Hanks movie was too long - it took him a quarter of the film to get to the island. With 127 Hours, after a brief prologue that resonates symbolically throughout the film, it gets right into his trauma.

I highly recommend the movie. If you are squeamish, you'll have to close your eyes for about three minutes, but don't let that deter you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ringer review

Last night started the new TV season. Caitie and I watched "Ringer" and we were both pleasantly surprised.
I'll admit, I have no idea where this show is heading. The premise is bizarre to say the least. If I can put together what happened in the premiere: Bridget (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the only witness to a murder. She was offered immunity from some crime she committed - something about prostitution and beating a cop I think - but is scared. She goes to visit her twin sister, Siobhan (also played by Gellar). It was clear there was some kind of problem between them that Bridget hopes they can get past. They go out on a boat and Siobhan disappears. Bridget, thinking her sister is dead, takes her place -- in her marriage, with her best friend etc. Apparently Siobhan wasn't as innocent as Bridget thought: she was having an affair with her best friend's husband and is pregnant (probably by the affair). There was something else going on with her stepdaughter, but it seemed a side plot at most. I'm sure that will be expanded upon in future episodes. Anyway, the killers are after Bridget, the police are after her to testify - and the final twist - apparently Siobhan sent a killer to get Bridget out of the way...for some reason.

As you can see - complicated plot and I'm not entirely sure I made sense out of it. But you know what? That's okay. In the TV landscape of reality shows, procedurals, and many unfunny sitcoms (oh, Modern Family, I can't WAIT for your return), some mystery and intrigue are good things. I like being a little off balance and wondering just what the heck is going on. The caveat: they BETTER resolve mysteries! There are a couple of other shows coming out this season (Once Upon a Time, Person of Interest) that seem to have that serial vibe - there are only so many serials one can keep track of at a time.

As of right now, I'll be tuning in next week for Ringer.

Plot: A-
Characters: B (need more depth as of now, but it's only episode one)
Acting: B+ (so great to see SMG back on TV, and Richard Alpert!)

Am I coming back for more? Definitely.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Start of a new year

An "update" post:

School started this week - new unit, new teachers, new everything for me. So far I'm liking the other side of my school building all right. It's a change, certainly. The kids seem to be pretty good, and I like the people I work with.

I finished the first draft of "The Tinchild." I like the way it turned out. It was different than I expected, but that's one of the best parts of writing. I have two beta readers looking at it as I'm revising, so I'm getting quite a bit done with it when I have time. I'm also working on a new idea - a MG Roald Dahl-ish horror novel. It's a little strange (as it should be, I suppose), but so far I'm having a lot of fun with the idea.

I just finished reading book two of the Song of Ice and Fire, and began book three. What an incredibly rich world Martin has created! He gets a little carried away with descriptions sometimes (I don't need to know EVERYTHING on a dinner table), but his dialogue and characterization is amongst the best I've ever read.

I've also started rereading the first book in The Chronicles of Amber series. I read the whole series when I was a teenager, and I've forgotten just how well written the books are. It's much faster paced than the Martin books, but the characters are no less vivid.

I'm looking forward to the new TV season starting. Caitie has suggested I write reviews of the new shows as they come on in this space, and if I have time I may try that. Something to look forward to!

In other news, Caitie and I just bought our first piece of furniture together (yeah, I know, we've been married two years). There was a deal at a local furniture store on couches that we simply couldn't pass up (by reducing my Gamefly subscription, selling our old couch, and counting what I've won in poker lately, it was practically free - I know that sounds crazy, but we got a REALLY good deal). The couch we have is functional, but not very comfortable and too big for the space we have. This couch has two recliners and is just the right size for us. Looking forward to getting that later this week!

That's about it for now. Hope everyone's doing well!