Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Pleasant Valley Tuesday.

My agent was in a flurry of activity yesterday.  He set up 4 or 5 auditions in about six hours.  Everytime I'd hang the phone up, he'd call back with another time-slot for me.  . A rare and wonderful day, really.  Wish they were all like that.  Of course, the rest is up to me now.  When it rains, it pours, as they say. 

I had the opportunity, speaking of auditions, to sing a bit for the highly regarded Blank Theatre Company yesterday, too.  Finally got to meet the driving force behind that group, Daniel Henning.  Very nice guy.  They're remounting a milestone play from the 30's, first done by the legendary Group Theatre, if I have my facts correct, called The Cradle Will Rock.  Not sure I'm exactly right for anything in that show, but it was fun to sing for them in any event.

Sunday's staged reading of Bachelor's Graveyard was enthusiastically received, to put it mildly.  My five wonderful actors, Rob Arbogast, Benjamin Burt, Adam Silver, Carmine Dibenedetto and Otniel Henig all came through with flying colors.  In the middle of that play, there is a ten to fifteen minute monologue about Muhammad Ali that is sort of the centerpiece of that writing.  Rob Arbogast tore into it with relish.  Tremendously exciting work from Rob.  The monologue builds to a fever pitch with jungle drums and vocal reaction from the other actors and just when the audience thinks it can't go any further, it does.  Just stellar work all around.  I was very, very pleased. 

The comments and reactions following the evening were all satisfyingly positive.  In the final analysis the entire night was a complete success.  A small step for our fledgling company, theGathering.  But an important one.  Our first public exposure.  Such a very, very long ways to go.  So many possibilities ahead of us.  But a great first step.  We'll take a break, of sorts, through the end of the year and then rev back up to full speed in January with another reading of a new play of mine called The Promise.  It's already cast and the very talented Larry Cedar will be directing.  Same bat-time, same bat-channel, same bat-theater.

Today I'm doing another little bit of singing for another stage production coming up.  A couple of contrasting songs and a monologue.  I haven't had to do a monologue for auditons in many a moon.  Sort of looking forward to it, actually. 

It has gotten delightfully chilly in Los Angeles over the past few days. It won't stay that way long, but I'm enjoying the hell out of it while it lasts.

Next week I've been asked to come in for a reading of Oscar in The Odd Couple, a role that has somehow escaped me over the years. It's a decent Equity Contract in a theatre that's a little far away for my taste, but do-able. Neil Simon, a playwright that has been unfairly maligned over the years, mostly in academia, is one of my favorites. I've done four or five Simon plays over the years and always enjoy myself a great deal saying his words. It's funny, when actors talk about 'timing' and 'pacing' they're usually referring to people like Mamet or Sorkin. But Simon, in my opinion, is the king of that sort of thing. There's usually only one or two ways to say a Simon line, he doesn't leave a lot of room for error. His work, at its best, is a textbook example of timing and pacing. And he makes me laugh, most importantly. Even his dumb stuff, like FOOLS, a play I did a few years back, is out loud funny in spots. And I vividly remember reading his play, Rumors, some years ago and literally putting it down now and then as I convulsed in laughter. I'm a huge fan of Neil Simon.

I've done The Good Doctor, Plaza Suite, They're Playing Our Song, Lost in Yonkers (6 times) and Fools. I've probably left a couple out, in fact. But the upshot is, every single time I've had a really, really great time doing his stuff. And of course, there's a reason he's the most successful of all modern playwrights: he's funny. The audience eats him up. He's just funny. And The Odd Couple, arguably, may be his funniest.

Also up for Tennessee Williams' last play, A House Not Meant to Stand. I haven't read it yet. Somehow it's that rare Williams piece I never got around to reading. But even bad Williams is usually better than most other plays.

So about to start a whirlwind period of auditioning. When I first came to LA I sort of rolled my eyes, figuratively speaking, at having to do all this auditioning again. I had reached a place in NY and Chicago in my career where I didn't have to audition any more. Not the case here. Now, however, I'm beginning to enjoy it, strangely enough.

And finally, an amusing thing happened a couple days ago.  My wife, Angie, has been a casting director in this town for over twenty years.  Without going into too much detail, she has hobnobbed and become close friends with the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Richard Dreyfuss, Hal Holbrook and many, many others.  Now, we're talking 'come over for dinner and hang out' type friends.  Unlike myself, celebrity doesn't really give her even a moment's pause.  Me, I'll always be a small-town guy from Missouri deep down and every time I see someone recognizable I always get a little thrill.  Angie could care less about that stuff.  So we're driving through West Hollywood a couple days ago and all of a sudden Angie nearly runs the car off the road.  She yells in my ear, "OH MY GOD LOOK!"  She's pointing at the sidewalk.  I sit up quick and start looking around.  I'm thinking maybe Obama is walking down the street.  Maybe Jimmy Hoffa.  Possibly O.J. has escaped and is running down the side of the road.  Back story: Angie, inexplicably, is hooked on Dancing With The Stars.  I hear it droning in the background every Monday and Tuesday as I work in my office, getting occasional updates on the performances of Jennifer Grey or Gary Coleman or Andy Griffith or Fatty Arbuckle or Mark Spitz or whoever happens to be dancing this season.  So the car is veering from one side of the street to the other as she cranes her neck to see.  It's Derek Hough from that show.  Uneventfully traipsing down the street carrying a bag of yogurt.  Me, I wouldn't know him if I were locked in a jail cell with him.  Angie has been breathing heavily now for two days. 

And there you have it.  Los Angeles in a nutshell.

See you tomorrow.