Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bob's Holiday Office Party.

Christmas is creeping up on us. I have been watching the yearly holiday fare on television - Miracle on 34th Street, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Apocalypse Now...okay, maybe not that last one. White Christmas, although clearly the lesser of the three movies, oddly, is my favorite. Although the song, "What do you do with a General when he's no longer a General?" may be the most awkward title for a song ever written. And poor Rosemary Clooney dances like a shot rabbit. Danny Kaye is decidedly unfunny and the outdoor sets are all obviously indoors. And yet, it's my favorite. Go figure.

Speaking of Holiday fare...Angie and I traveled over to Hollywood Friday night to see our friend, John Bader, in a show called "Bob's Holiday Office Party" at The Hudson Theater. Let me just say right off the bat that I can't remember ever laughing so hard at a stage play. The whole thing is sheer chaos. Complete anarchy up there on the boards. A play that manages to offend everyone in the audience at some point or another. I loved it.

I don't have the program in front of me because Angie went on a cleaning binge yesterday and threw away anything that wasn't bolted to the floor. I'm surprised Franny and Zooey made it though it alive. So I can't give proper credit to the writers and actors.

In any event, it's a great piece of work. Just when you think it can't get any zanier, it does. It builds to jaw-dropping heights of political incorrectness. If that sort of thing disturbs your sensitivities, it's probably not the play for you. Hardly anything or anyone escapes unscathed. I adored it.

It is exactly what it sounds like - a small-town, insurance company holiday party. The narrow-minded, outwardly republican conservative townfolk, all proceed to get rip-roaring drunk throughout the evening until the stage becomes a moving version of a Hieronymus Bosch painting by the end. Every time I thought they couldn't get any more ridiculous, they did. As I was gasping for breath I noticed an elderly couple near us staring, frozen and shocked, at the proceedings on stage. Which of course only made me laugh harder.

John is in the rather thankless role of a 'straight man' throughout, but he's such a fine actor he still manages to get his share of laughs out of it. One of the writers, Joe Keyes, plays the small-town sheriff and is absolute perfection. Mr. Keyes is a very, very funny actor.

The play has been running continually, every Christmas, for fifteen years here in Los Angeles and Angie and I have decided to make it our annual must-see holiday event. I think today is the last performance of it for 2010, but we will be dragging our more open-minded friends to it next year.

One kind of feels like they need a shower after watching it...but in a good way. This is really funny stuff and even more so because it's clear the actors are having the time of their lives up there. The script has been designed in such a way that allows the more versatile actors to adlib at their leisure, most notably the hysterical Mr. Keyes.

Years ago I did a long run of a half-scripted, half-improvised show called Flannigan's Wake on the East Coast. Also a pretty funny show, but nowhere near as funny as this one. In addition, Bob's Holiday Office Party has been slightly updated every year so that it keeps up with the times. There's a scathing section on Obama and Bush early in the play that's just priceless. year about this time, keep it in mind if you live in the LA area. It's worth every penny of the admission price.

Back to rehearsal today for me. Had a full run-thru yesterday for the designers. Everyone on hand did their best, but it's very early in the proceedings and there were, to put it mildly, a few rough spots - specifically from the first moment to the last. To be expected. Nonetheless, daunting. This is hard shit.

Back at it again all day today. We have a ten day break from it coming up...and then we're back in rehearsal on January 2. In a perfect world, I'll be off book by then which, of course, means I'll be singing this stuff ad nauseum back in Missouri over the holidays. So be it. Has to be done.

Los Angeles is in the middle of a Noah's Ark type rain these days. A little depressing. My consolation, however, is knowing that my former home, Chicago, is in the midst of its usual minus 40 degree December and January. Good Lord, I'm glad I don't live there anymore.

See you tomorrow.