Tag Archives: sondheim

Into the Woods: So Happy

We went and saw an early screening of Into the Woods the other day. When did we start hearing about this movie being made? A couple years ago? The first whisperings. Then you start hearing casting and concepts. What songs will they cut? What plot lines will they change? I remember there was rumor of one big change – which then apparently “fell through” because of “public outrage.” (I still think it was a publicity stunt.)

This show is so personal, to both Drew and me. Here’s the background: back in college, my two best friends and I decided we wanted to produce the show. We were young and reckless, and there was this student “production” group on campus, Studio 301, that at the time, was basically a campus organization that anyone could just jump on and do whatever show they wanted. (I actually think it was through Studio 301 that had presented Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb!)

So to make a long story short, we got together, got some early funding, got the royalties, got a production team, got a faculty advisor, got a space, got a cast, got some business cards to pass out to promote the show…and put on Into the Woods in the spring of 2005. I directed, and my friends played Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.

Here’s the set – this is Wyatt Pavilion, the cattle show ring turned thrust stage.

woods set

 

I literally still have a piece of the story book writing from the wall.

When we were doing auditions in the fall of 2004, Drew (then just a friend of mine) came in to audition for the part of Milky White, the cow. We hadn’t planned on casting a person – it just hadn’t occurred to any of us – and I think we were just going to use a plaster cow that we were pretty sure was in prop storage underneath the theatre department. But he’s a genius and so the musical director and I went with it. He played Milky White, and also Little Red’s Granny, which I actually still think was hilarious, because the costume designer really made no attempt to make him look old, or like a woman.

Drew is very creative, and he makes a lot of choices. I think having the cow be more a character and less of a prop actually adds a lot to the show. In our case, the cow did things like eat flowers, eat Cinderella’s hair at one point, and offer to play Clue with his bff, Jack.

milky white

(On a completely unrelated note, here’s a tumblr of Low Budget Milky Whites. Completely unrelated.)

(Also – I so wish that cameras were better quality back then, that long long nine years ago. I took all these pictures with my digital camera, but it just didn’t capture movement well without the flash, and so most of the pictures are super blurry, and also far away, since I was running around in the house while taking these. I treasure them anyway.)

Anyway, by the time we started rehearsals, Drew and I were dating, which I think is partly why I thought all his choices were hilarious. So yeah, this show has a lot of emotion and memory attached to it for both of us.

Which is why we were both excited and scared to go see the screening. I mean, this movie could have gone really wrong.

But it didn’t! I am happy to say that we both liked it and I think that Rob Marshall and Disney did a good job of adapting it. I miss some of the songs they cut out – but I get why they did. I think the edits are good, and the Baker’s story is fleshed out in an interesting way you don’t really get onstage. It’s funny, poignant, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. The parenting themes hit me harder than they have in the past, maybe because I haven’t seen a production in awhile, just listened to it, and it’s not the same. At any rate, I’m a big fan, and can’t wait to watch it again.

Happy now, happy hence, happy ever after!

(Oh, and yes, Tug was a decent Milky White, but I mean, she was no Drew…)

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The First Meeting of JASP

This is a shout out to one of my besties. We’ve worked together for the last few years, and we’ve been through the ringer together. We even have a celebrity couple name: JASP. (It’s just our initials. No big deal.) We’ve technically only known each other for about 4 years, but here’s a fun fact about us.

Back when we were both still in college, 6 years before we officially met and became coworkers and cohorts, we attended the same production of Into the Woods at the theatre company we would eventually work for. November 30, 2005: we both sat in the Lucie Stern Theatre and watched it snow onstage after intermission. (As our Artistic Director says, “It all makes perfect sense when you realize it’s snowing in the second half.”)

Much has changed since 2005 – much has even changed since our official meeting in 2011. But I just wanted to say that I’m so happy I know you, Jonathan! #tbt to that time we both saw Into the Woods on the same date without knowing it!

(But we are way cooler now than we were back then.)

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(To be clear, these are both pictures from the cooler “now.”)

 

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tbt: Theatre Obsessions

I remember this one time, in my sophomore year of college, there was this production of Falsettos. I wasn’t working on the show but I had seen it a couple times – I don’t think we ever ran a show longer than two weekends, but I had to go to a tech rehearsal for a class. I had become obsessed with the show…an obsession that’s lasted for the next decade.

It was a Sunday night, closing night of Falsettos. I wanted to go see it one more time. But there was another show closing that weekend – a one-man show by another student. I’ll call him Ivan. The show was called Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb! Good gravy.

I had promised the stage manager of the show, a friend of mine and someone I looked up to, that I would come see his show that night. But by late afternoon I was just lying on the floor of our apartment, tormented because I wanted to take my very last opportunity to see Falsettos. I was completely torn. I was a little over-dramatic.

The moral twin of my Gemini sensibility must have been on duty that night, because I went to Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb! But I regretted it almost immediately. I mean, it was just ridiculous. At intermission, I left and went down the street to Falsettos, where I snuck into the back. Man, that’s a good show.

The thing about theatre is that if you love something, there really isn’t a way to just save it and rewatch it. Even a bootleg version of something isn’t the same as being there. And I know there’s bad theatre. I have seen bad theatre. I have peeked at my phone to see how much longer this act could possibly be. I have left things at intermission (not often, but I’ve done it). I’ve seen things out of an obligation and not necessarily out of joy.

But then there are the things that you can’t get enough of. When I saw Wicked for the first time (cheesy example, I know), it was the first time in years and years of shows that the curtain call ended, the lights came up, and I was like, “Okay, reset everything, I will watch this all again from the beginning RIGHT NOW.”

I went years without having that feeling about a show. But I am having it again. Right now. (This is not a marketing ploy.)

My work is currently presenting Sweeney Todd. I love Sweeney Todd. It’s one of my favorite musicals. This particular production has something extra. It’s addictive. I can’t stop watching it. It has been running for the last three weeks, and closes this Sunday. I have seen it five times so far, which is already two times more than I have seen any other work show. I saw it yesterday and again today. I am sitting here debating whether I should go back for the closing performance on Sunday night. The only reason I’m not sprawled out on the carpet, conflicted over my decision, is that I have a couple days to work it out. If I don’t go, I will never see this particular production, with this particular cast and set and direction again. But maybe the five times I’ve gone should be enough.

This time, instead of missing out on a student-written one-man show, I would be missing out on precious weekend time with my family. I would be driving all the way down the peninsula a whole extra time. But I would be helping out by filling a seat, and I would be getting one more chance to bask in the pure joy that I experience while watching a show about an insane guy who kills people, and his girlfriend who bakes them into pies. “God That’s Good.”

I think I might have my answer.

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Connecticut & New York City, October 2011

So, Drew and I are back from our East Coast extravaganza. We had a great time, and I’m so happy we went, but I was also totally ready to come home. Which is just about the perfect balance, I guess.

I’m going to start with a Dear Diary overview of the whole thing, then fill in specifics after. I just can’t bring myself to start one, long, DD post of the entire week.

So: last Tuesday night I flew out of SFO on the red-eye to JFK. I got in Wednesday morning, and dropped by my old work to say hi to the people I know who are still working there (there aren’t many left!).

Wednesday afternoon I took a Metro North train to Waterbury, CT, where Megan (the bride), Dawn (the maid of honor) and Toni (the mother of the groom) picked me (the matron of honor) up. We did wedding party things, checked into our hotel, and then Toni and Ken (the father of the groom) took us girls out for dinner.

On Thursday, we had Megan’s bachelorette party in NYC. That deserves, and will get, an entire post.

On Friday, Drew drove up from NYC, where he had arrived late the night before. That afternoon, I had to call in to work for 90 minutes for an interview that I was missing, being out of the office. Friday night – rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

Saturday was the wedding! Yay for the happy couple!

On Sunday, Drew and I drove back to NYC. We saw an off-Broadway show at Roundabout called Sons of the Prophet, and hung out with Joe and his bf. We had dinner at 5 Napkin Burger, which is always good. We stayed at their Hell’s Kitchen apartment, a luxury and VERY convenient!, and watched Bridesmaids.

On Monday we did some touristy stuff – Wall Street and the protestors, walked along the Hudson, saw the bull at Bowling Green, etc. Then we took our luggage and checked into our Queens hotel, which was in the same neighborhood where we used to live. We had lunch with Jared, our old roommate, and saw our old apartment. That might have been the weirdest part of the whole trip for me. Then in the evening we went to see Sleep No More in the meatpacking district (?).

On Tuesday, we went into Chelsea and I had lunch with Sara, an old coworker who promises me she’s going to come visit San Francisco next summer. I saw the people I didn’t see in the office on my first pass. Then Drew and I did Union Square, The Strand (18 miles of books!), etc, and walked up 5th Avenue. We intended to walk all the way to Central Park (40ish blocks) but couldn’t handle it, so we took the train. We did more 5th Ave, then Rockefeller Center, back through Times Square to the Marquis Theatre to see Follies. Then a late dinner with Kaitlin and Joe on 9th Avenue (at Whym).

Today we checked out of the hotel and took the train to Penn Station, where we got chopped salads for lunch (I miss them so!) and then took the train to JFK, where we were hideously early for our flight. Drew read The Hunger Games, and I called in for a second interview at work. Then a 6 1/2 hour flight and we’re home!

Our apartment is bigger than I remember. And I missed it. It’s really nice to be back.

Okay. I promise to be more interesting in the details. A whirlwind week! But everything went as well as can be hoped, thank God.

I miss things about new York. Other things I don’t miss at all. Bad smells, crazy crowds, the humidity. I definitely am happy that my home is in California. But I hope we can visit NYC again soon!

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