Monday, March 14, 2011

Last Tango in Los Angeles: RED, Inception and Adding Machine.

Last Tango in Los Angeles: RED, Inception and Adding Machine.: "Haven't blogged for a bit because, once again, I just got too darned busy. And that's always a good thing. Irons are in the fire. One or ..."

RED, Inception and Adding Machine.

Haven't blogged for a bit because, once again, I just got too darned busy. And that's always a good thing. Irons are in the fire. One or more may actually heat up.

We've got two more performances, add-ons, of Adding Machine this upcoming Friday and Saturday nights. And then this long, difficult, pot-hole- ridden experience comes to an end. It's a very arduous show for me. In the middle of the run some health issues surfaced and I've never quite recovered. Even now, after five months or so of working on this piece, I get very, very anxious every night as I'm about to launch a song called 'Zero's Confession.' It's a ten minute song that ends in a nervous breakdown. It's a tough ten minutes for me. Never really mastered it. I did my best with it. Wasn't quite enough, I think. Wish I'd done it better. Oh, well. Move on.

Angie and I have an old and very dear friend coming to stay with us next week. I've known Jeff Wood since my NY days. He's coming out for four or five days with his wife and two little girls. Disneyland being the key destination.

I'm looking forward to it. Jeff is a former theatre director (one of the best I've ever known, in fact) turned novelist. We shared our youth back in the eighties in New York City. Best of times, worst of times...

I can't really blog about the irons in the fire. Suffice to say a couple of them are pretty big deals. I'm hopeful. This week, one way or another, I'll have answers.

Angie and I Netflixed 'RED' the other night with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren. It was, as I suspected, sort of fun watching the old pros ham it up, but good god, what a lousy script. I'm appalled sometimes at the words in this town that get the 'green light.' My imagination runs wild. Did some suit at a studio actually read that and leap to his feet thinking, "My God, we've GOT to make this movie!?" It's mind-boggling. Yes, it ended up being watchable, but mostly because of the pros involved. But even they were taxed to their limit. Malkovich, bless his heart, one of the finest actors alive on the planet earth, was milking his stuff to the point of saturation. All of them were, really, with the exception of Willis, who is an underrated actor anyway, but in this piece had the presence of mind to just say the words and get on with it.

Natually, it was just filled with gunfights and explosions and car chases and badly plotted intrigue, so maybe that was what the guy in the suit got excited about. In any event, I'm just stymied. Or maybe the original screenplay was stellar, just terrific stuff and by the time the money guys got done with it it was just another shoot-em-up with some names attached. Who knows.

I'm so very often disappointed with Hollywood films these days. It's truly, and I suppose this has been the case since the dawn of film, a lowest common denominator market. I'm not saying anything the least bit new here or anything that hasn't been said by a ton of other people before me. Nonetheless, it's frustrating.

And yet, at the same time, I'm not a big fan of ultra slow, low budget, artsy-fartsy independent films, either. There is the odd exception, of course. I think 'Winter's Bone' was extraordinary. I was mesmerized from start to finish. And that's a pretty slow film, really.

This is why, much to our friends puzzlement, Angie and I go back and watch old episodes of 'The West Wing' all the time. We honestly get more viewing pleasure from watching an hour of that show, an hour we've no doubt seen a few times before, than Netflixing the newest hot thing in the theatres...REDS being a case in point.

And last night we attempted to watch 'Inception.' Maybe it was my frame of mind (I'd just finished a matinee of Adding Machine and was pretty much toast) but I was bored within ten minutes and had no desire whatsoever to stick around for the obligatory exposition scene which experience has taught me usually comes about an hour into a movie of this sort..." the needle is filled with TRUTH GAS that makes the red-headed girl see visions of an apocalyptic future...NOW it makes sense!" I just don't have the patience anymore.

Anyway, a badly needed day of no stress following a long group of back to back shows. This thing, this Adding Machine, is such a bombardment on my psyche that around noon on show days, I start getting stressed out. I know that in only eight and half hours I'll be standing center stage, chained to a pedastal, roaring my brains out, counting measures, trying to hit high F's.

Of course there are always people that don't like your work. This role had a number of directions I could have gone with it. I made a decision to attack it every night and grapple and flail at the role. A 'Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing' approach. Acting choices that I made and then stuck with. I don't regret them. But I know others think I was wrong. That's okay. It's a very subjective thing. If I had to do it again, I'd make the same choices.

Someone might say, "Well, you don't sing it very well." In fact, someone did say that. They're right. I don't. Never set out to. I'm not now nor have I ever been the least bit interested in singing a song pretty. Bores me. A song, every single song ever written, is a monologue to me, a plot point, a chance to forward the theme, an opportunity to elevate the spoken word to poetic drama. If they wanted a guy that could sing a pretty song there are thousands out there. Josh Groban, I'm not.

I've taken some heat over the roaring, growling and stupidly spiteful performance I ended up with. And that's cool. It really is. They were all thoughtful choices and I stand by them. There is not an accidental moment in the show for me. It was all a carefully plotted roadmap. I know what I do well as an actor and what I don't. It's a valuable thing to know for an actor.

Still, as usual, I'm a Monday morning quarterback after each and every performance. I play moments over and over. 'Could have done that better.' 'That moment didn't work.' 'I was too big there.' 'Should have pulled way back for that moment.' On and on.

I guess in the final analysis this one wasn't really fun for me. 'Fun' in the sense that I never really just let go and see what happens next out there. For one thing I'm simply not, nor will I ever be, a good enough musician to allow that. So every night I found myself trudging out to do battle, rather than eagerly taking my place in the darkness before the lights come up, anticipating a couple hours of sometimes magical exploration. It has been like the difference between going to work as an air traffic controller and going to work as a dance instructor.

Fortutunately, I have been surrounded by astonishing talent. Whatever moments in which I personally didn't ring the bell, they did. Rob Herring, Christine Horn, Kelly Lester and of course, our amazing ensemble of future stars...they are all, quite simply, the best this business has to offer. They just doesn't get any better. Rob, Christine and Kelly touch me to my core every single night. Incandescent work.

So...two more performances. Twice more unto the breach. And then the process starts all over with another project and somebody else's words can keep me up at night.

See you tomorrow.