June 2008 Archives
"It's not how long you make it, it's how you make it long!"
Wow. I simply could not believe it when I heard the news that George Carlin had died. You just think some people are going to live forever. There have been some great tributes to him on the net, and rewatching old videos of George Carlin, you really realize just how much he influenced other comedians, like Jerry Seinfeld, with his "observational" humor -- taking existing ordinary words or situations and revealing the humor, or stupidity, or both!
My dad was a huge fan of George Carlin and I remember listening to his routines with my dad when I was young. I didn't always quite "get" everything when I was ten, but I did understand his comment on bad breath -- "Marge you could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon" -- which became a part of our family's vernacular! The Hippie Dippie weatherman (so don't sweat the thundershowers!) and for some reason I remember a routine where he talks about putting bay leaves under his arms instead of using antiperspirant (I'm bean with bacon!). I really loved his use of words and his poem "Hair" has always been a favorite of mine:
I'm aware some stare at my hair.
In fact, to be fair,
Some really despair of my hair.
But I don't care,
Cause they're not aware,
Nor are they debonair.
In fact, they're just square.
They see hair down to there, Say, "Beware" and go off on a tear!
I say, "No fair!"
A head that's bare is really nowhere.
So be like a bear, be fair with your hair!
Show it you care.
Wear it to there. Or to there. Or to there, if you dare!
My wife bought some hair at a fair, to use as a spare.
Did I care? Au contraire!
Spare hair is fair!
In fact, hair can be rare.
Fred Astaire got no hair,
Nor does a chair, Nor nor a chocolate eclair,
And where is the hair on a pear?
Nowhere, mon frere!
So now that I've shared this affair of the hair,
I'm going to repair to my lair and use Nair,
do you care?
Here's my beard.
Ain't it weird?
Don't be sceered,
It's just a beard
Although he was very angry and critical of the political system and society in general, for some reason he always seemed very accessible, and not prickly or scary. Maybe it was the cuddly tone of his voice, but he always seemed really friendly to me. Maybe that's why he was the narrative voice of the American version of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, and played Mr. Conductor on Shining Time Station!
From his obituary on the World Socialist Website:
"Swept up by the radicalized times, Carlin changed his image and the contents of his act in 1970, and never looked back. After some career setbacks as a result of his new material, he developed a wide following with his album “FM & AM” in 1972. A portion of his longer routine, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” i.e., ‘obscene’ words, appeared on that album. Carlin was arrested in Milwaukee in 1972 for performing the routine, which is an extended and sometimes lyrical consideration of “filthy words.”
When the routine was broadcast on WBAI in New York in 1973, the radio station was cited by the Federal Communications Commission. The US Supreme Court eventually ruled that the material was “indecent but not obscene,” and that the government could ban such broadcasts during hours when children were likely to be listening.
The scatological element in Carlin’s routines could be overdone, and often was, but there was more to his comedy than that.
To give him credit, the comedian had an extraordinary command of words and a serious attitude toward language and its misuse, especially by those with power and money. He is one of those comics, and there are not too many around at present, whose material can be read and appreciated.
Carlin expressed nothing but contempt for official political life and religion. His humor had a Swiftian, mordant quality at its best. For example, in the routine, “Legal Murder Once a Month,” in which he suggests that killing is not one of those things that should be left up to the state. “I believe the killing of human beings is just one more function of government that needs to be privatized.”
After outlining his “Legal Murder Once a Month” plan, he continues: “I want you to know there’s nothing in the Constitution to prevent any of this. The state doesn’t actually oppose murder, it simply objects to those who go into business for themselves. When it comes to the taking of human life, the federal government doesn’t want free-lance competition.”
Or consider “The American Businessman’s Ten Steps to Product Development”: “1. Can I cut corners in the design? 2. Can it be shoddily built? 3. Can I use cheap materials? 4. Will it create hazards for my workers? 5. Will it harm the environment? 6. Can I evade the safety laws? 7. Will children die from it? 8. Can I overprice it? 9. Can it be falsely advertised? 10. Will it force smaller competitors out of business?
“Excellent. Let’s get busy.”
In his “Golf Courses for the Homeless,” Carlin commented: “When the United States is not invading some sovereign nation—or setting it on fire from the air, which is more fun for our simple-minded pilots—we’re usually busy ‘declaring war’ on something here at home,” i.e. “a war on crime, a war on poverty, a war on litter, a war on cancer.” There’s no war on homelessness, “because there’s no money in it.”
Carlin proposes: “I know just the place to build housing for the homeless: golf courses. It’s perfect. Plenty of good land in nice neighborhoods that is currently being squandered on a mindless activity engaged in by white, well-to-do business criminals who use the game to get together so they can make deals to carve this country up a little finer among themselves.”
The comedian declares his own war in particular on euphemisms: “I don’t like euphemistic language, words that shade the truth. American English is packed with euphemism, because Americans have trouble dealing with reality, and in order to shield themselves from it they use soft language. And it gets worse with every generation.”
As an example, Carlin describes the evolution of that “condition in combat that occurs when a soldier is completely stressed out and is on the verge of nervous collapse.” In World War I, he points out, the condition was known as “shell shock. Simple, honest direct language. Two syllables.”
By the time of World War II, it was called “battle fatigue.” “Doesn’t seem to hurt as much. ‘Fatigue’ is a nicer word than ‘shock.’” During the Korean War, the authorities came up with the expression, “operational exhaustion.” Carlin comments: “The phrase was up to eight syllables now, and any last traces of humanity had been completely squeezed out of it. It was absolutely sterile: operational exhaustion. Like something that could happen to your car.”
Then, he says, “we got into Vietnam, and thanks to the deceptions surrounding that war, it’s no surprise that the very same condition was referred to as ‘post-traumatic stress disorder.’ ... I’ll bet if they had still been calling it ‘shell shock,’ some of those Vietnam veterans might have received the attention they needed.” The comic describes the ‘New Language’ as the ‘language that takes the life out of life.’
Carlin lists some of the other euphemisms that have entered the language during his lifetime, among them: “false teeth=dental appliances,” “used cars=previously owned vehicles,” “riot=civil disorder,” “strike=job action,” “drug addiction=substance abuse,” “gambling joint=gaming resort,” “wife beating=domestic violence” and so on.
He has a lovely time with language in general, and its oddities. For example, in this routine on the lingo used in airport announcements. “To begin their boarding process, the airline announces they will preboard certain passengers. And I wonder, How can that be? How can people board before they board?” Later: “I’m told to get on the plane. ... And I think for a moment: ‘On the plane? No, my friends, not me. I’m not getting on the plane; I’m getting in the plane. Let Evil Knievel get on the plane, I’ll be sitting inside one of those little chairs. It seems less windy to me.’
“Then they mention it’s a nonstop flight. Well, I must say I don’t care for that sort of thing. Call me old-fashioned, but I insist that my flight stop. Preferably at an airport.”
And then there’s the inevitable safety lecture, which contains this phrase, “In the unlikely event of a water landing...’ A water landing! Am I mistaken, or does this sound somewhat similar to ‘crashing into the ocean’?”
Carlin takes a look at expressions “we take for granted. We use them all the time, yet never examine them carefully.”
For example, “Legally drunk. Well, if it’s legal what’s the problem? ‘Leave me alone, officer, I’m legally drunk.’”
George Carlin will be missed.
W00H00! This made me extremely happy. An article on Playbill.com says that Ashley Spencer and Derek Keeling will probably be the replacement Danny and Sandy in Grease on Broadway after Max Crumm and Laura Osnes have run their course! Now, all four of these actors were a part of the reality TV show "Grease: You're the One that I Want!" and Laura and Max were the winners. Spencer came in second place, and Keeling was a runner-up. However, they had been my favorites all along! Apparently, they will begin performances July 22.
Now, this information hasn't been officially announced by the producers of the Grease Broadway revival, but The Repository reported the happy news today. Ashley is already on Broadway currently, playing Amber in Hairspray, and Derek was featured in the pre-Broadway tryout of A Tale of Two Cities.
Sooo, check it out! It's going to be awesome.
Okay, that is the best pun I have heard in a very long time. And "Damn Those Damnable Yankees" is a fabulously funny number in IRON CURTAIN, a hilarious new show with book by Susan DiLallo, music by Stephen Weiner, and lyrics by Peter Mills. I saw IRON CURTAIN (guys, the show deserves a better name!) at First Stage as part of the Village Theatre Originals series -- two weeks of rehearsals and the actors are on book. However, IRON CURTAIN was pretty much blocked and choreographed, so you really got a good feel for the show's potential.
From the Village Theatre website:
"This side-splitting musical comedy takes place during the Cold War era. Meet Yengenyi Onanov and Sergei Schmearnov who work for the Ministry of Musical Persuasion in the Soviet Union. When the Soviets set out to create a great Broadway musical, they decide that they'll need to bring in some real New York writers — by force, if necessary. Enter Howard and Murray, two aspiring musical theatre writers, who have just had another musical rejected and are on the brink of throwing in the towel. Kidnapped, taken to Moscow, and forced to fix what could possibly be the worst musical ever written, these two characters suddenly find themselves working under the gun, literally!"
The book is hilarious with the puns and physical comedy coming fast and furious, and the music and lyrics take full advantage of the brilliant premise. I mean, what is funnier than Russians trying to do musical theatre? And of course, as always, the Village Theatre puts together an A list cast of actors who really deliver the goods. As a writer, it is very satisfying to workshop your material with really good, experienced and talented performers.
Next stop for IRON CURTAIN is the prestigious O'Neill National Musical Theatre Conference in Connecticut in July.
After that? I wouldn't be surprised to see those Reds on the Great White Way!
Note: By Suzy Conn
"You ask my advice about acting? Speak clearly, don't bump into the furniture and if you must have motivation, think of your pay packet on Friday".
I had the best time on Friday night! I went to see A MARVELOUS PARTY: THE NOEL COWARD CELEBRATION at ACT. And even if there hadn't been a free rare beer tasting and free snacks before the show, I'm sure I would have still enjoyed the show as much as I did! However, it was a really nice touch! I think my favorite was an Italian beer from Turin that had Cassis in it! But I digress…
A MARVELOUS PARTY: THE NOEL COWARD CELEBRATION (words and music by Noel Coward of course) was devised by David Ira Goldstein, Carl Danielsen, Anna Lauris, Mark Anders, and Patricia Wilcox. It was directed by David Ira Goldstein and musical directed by Richard Gray, and the ACT production stars Anna Lauris, Mark Anders, Richard Gray, and David Silverman.
Richard Gray directed the AMT show, Northwest Bookshelf 2 for The 5th Avenue Theatre (I had two pieces in that show, LARRY GETS LOST IN SEATTLE, and DAISY THE FIRECOW). I loved working with Rich as a director, and he wrote a bunch of great pieces for that AMT show, so I knew he was also an awesome writer, but I had no idea what a great performer and piano player he was! Is there anything he can't do? His rendition of "A Bar on the Piccola Marina" was incredible!
The whole cast was marvelous. They had great voices, and could really hoof it, but it was more than that. They were really great performers. I know that sounds "obvious", but it's been a long time since I've felt so completely engrossed in a piece, and so completely relaxed watching performers.
From "ACT Backstage"
"We created this new show as a treasure box of our favorite Noel Coward songs - both familiar and some that you probably have never heard before -- infused with the particular musical genius of a supremely talented cast of performers," said Co-creater and Director David Ira Goldstein. "We chose and arranged the material to highlight the many facets of their talents: Mark Anders facility with language and his abundant musical talents; Anna Lauris' outrageously wonderful comic sensibilities and triple threat acting, singing, and dancing abilities; and the extraordinarily versatile talents of David Silverman and Rich Gray"
I've been a fan of Noel Coward a long time, since my mother introduced me to "Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out in the Mid Day Sun" when I was little. So I loved Mark Anders brilliant version of that number. Other highlights for me included "A Bar on the Piccola Marina", "The Coconut Girl" medley and "There are Bad Times Just Around the Corner". There are so many extraordinary numbers in the show, all I can say is go out and buy tickets before it closes (July 13)!
Note: By Suzy Conn
I had heard bad things about the latest Indiana Jones movie. Bad things about Cate Blanchett, the storyline, etc. This made me sad, so I just didn't believe it. However, a little part of me was panicking as we walked into the movie theatre, sat down, and waited for the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series to commence.
I'm going to say that I LOVED IT!!!!!!!! It was CRANTASTIC! OMG I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread! Something that was bugging the majority of the people that I talked to about the movie before I saw it for myself was the alien theme. This didn't bug me at all. I guess the definition of "alien" is different for everyone, because I don't think the presence of aliens in an Indiana Jones movie is any weirder than spirits that melt Nazi faces off...
Cate Blanchett did break her accent MULTIPLE times at the beginning of the film, but I thought she was pretty good for the rest of it. I am not a big Shia LaBeouf fan (sorry) but I didn't think he was unbearable to watch. Harrison Ford, on the other hand, was amazingly spectacular (in my personal opinion), and he was as funny and interesting to watch now as he was back in the days of Raiders. Welcome back, Dr. Jones!
Quick mention of the Lego game -- it's absolutely brilliant. We play it on our Wii, and it's the perfect mixture of teamwork and action-packed fighting. Plus, you're Lego people, so you never run out of lives! I mean, come on, does it get any better than that? *no Myrna, it doesn't!*
Favorite scene would have to be the car chase in the jungle with the vines and the jumping back and forth and the cliff and all that cool stuff! My other favorite part would have to be the end, but I won't spoil it for you! GO OUT AND SEE IT. Trust me, it is DEF worth it. :-)
Oh, I really wanted to like it. You don't understand. I actually auditioned for it back in Toronto, so although I didn't get the part, I felt cool having been a small part of the next big Disney Channel movie! Additionally, the Jonas Brothers were going to be in it, as well as this other girl who sounded pretty good in the commercials. So, I had high hopes and expectations.
I should have known that it would have NOTHING on High School Musical 1 or 2. Actually, this is partly true, because its 8.9 million viewers beat HSM's 7.8 million, but didn't even come close to HSM 2's 17.2 million. But enough about the ratings. This was about the movie itself. I am sad to say that I didn't care for it.
Now, I won't go into detail or be unnecessarily harsh, 'cause that's not what we do here at BlogwayBaby. So instead I'll focus on the positives. For example, the movie was shot at Kilcoo, a boys' camp that I went to with my school (note: I am not a boy) in 7th grade, so it was really cool recognizing all the places that I'd been when I went. To think, I once sat where Joe Jonas sat in the movie!!!!!
Also, I was particularly impressed with and pleasantly surprised at Jasmine Richards' performance. She was by far my favorite in the entire movie, and had a pretty nice voice to boot! It's hard sometimes to play the person sucked into the drama of the popular crowd, but I thought she did a fantastic job of not being too ditsy or wimpy. Bravo!
I will say one thing that upset me. The beauty of the High School Musical movies was that there were lots of book songs. However, in Camp Rock, every single song was "hey look we're singing a song now because that's what the characters would do in real life, get it??". Lots of musical styles were showcased, but the ability that High School Musical had to get kids interested in musical theatre was missing. I get it, I get it, it wasn't about musicals. I'm just saying that I kind of missed that part of it... (if even the Cheetah Girls do it, why can't Camp Rock, you know? Cue the angry hate mail... :S)
All in all, I was slightly disappointed, but I managed to sit through it, preferred it to watching regular TV, and had a fun evening with my sister. Therefore, 'twas a worthwhile experience. :-)
Yes, I enjoyed the Tonys this year. I even did the "who I want to win" and "who I think will win" ballot from Tonyawards.com. It was actually surprising how many of my predictions were correct, even though I hadn't seen any of the shows this season! If you read the trades, you can pretty much guess who is going to win. South Pacific anyone? In the Heights? Yup.
But I still have three lingering questions about this year's show:
2. Why didn't Stephen Sondheim show up to receive his Lifetime Achievement award? (I mean, come on…)
3. How could they possibly think it was the right thing to do to eliminate the "Best Book of a Musical" and "Best Revival of a Play" from the tv show? As a musical book writer who is always being told "the book is the most important thing" in a musical, I was offended. I honestly could have done without quite so many goofy musical bits with Whoopi Goldberg, if it meant we could see those awards as part of the telecast.
I thought this official statement from the Dramatists Guild said it very well:
DRAMATISTS GUILD STATEMENT ON THE TONY AWARDS
On Sunday night of June 15, the annual celebration and commendation of this year’s Broadway theatre season was celebrated at the Tony Awards hosted by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League. While we gratefully acknowledge the program time spent on how playwrights construct their dramatic ideas (and the mention of all four playwrights’ names), we are concerned (and have expressed our concern) that the awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Revival of a Play were relegated to pre-televised programming. Council President John Weidman maintains, “The theatre is an art form which is driven by writers. Nothing exists before the script. So when theatre awards are given out, it’s appropriate that the writing awards should take first position. Even acknowledging the enormous time pressures on the producers of the Tony Award broadcast, Best Book of a Musical and Best Revival of a Play belong live, on the air.”
Actually, I do have a fourth question:
4. When will Hugh Jackman host the Tonys again?
Note: By Suzy Conn
Okay, I know that this happened more than one week ago, but I thought that it deserved a mention on BlogwayBaby because it was such a spectacular evening. The 2008 5th Ave High School Musical Awards were held on June 9, 2008, at Benaroya Hall. Usually the awards are held at the 5th Ave Theatre itself, but because of preparations for Shrek (w00t w00t), this was impossible. However, this definitely did not dampen the spirits of the students in the audience, whose screaming was always louder than the orchestra or microphones!
I was there to support my friends who had been nominated and Mercer Island High School's production of Bat Boy the Musical! We were seated in row G so the camera would sometimes pan over us (the awards appeared on television)! That was pretty cool, but my favorite parts of the evening were probably when the leading actor and actress nominees performed a little bit of one of their songs from their show. Mia Yoshida as Kim in Lewis and Clark High School's Miss Saigon, Danny Lindgren as Nobel, et al in Kentridge High School's Little Me, and Devon Uy as Tevye in Stanwood High School's Fiddler on the Roof were the final winners in these two categories, but good job to everyone else who was nominated or had an honorable mention!
The award for Outstanding Overall Musical Production went to Woodinville High School for their production of Good News, but I thought that all of the nominees for this category were worthy. From Mack and Mabel to Miss Saigon to Seussical, the performances of each nominated school got me even more interested in doing a show in high school next year! I'm definitely looking forward to being a part of a show and going to the High School Musical awards! I've been told by some of my friends who were in nominated shows that going to the awards is the best part of doing a high school show! From what I saw that night, most of the students present would agree with that statement. :-)
There's a new reality show in town, but this time, we know one of the judges! Elaine Overholt, my vocal coach and friend for many a year, is on the panel for the CBC series called "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" in which contestants are competing for the role of Maria in the North American premiere of The Sound of Music at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre in October 2008. The first episode aired on Sunday June 15th, and more will come every Sunday and Monday night at 8pm for 6 weeks. So tune in, because it's going to be awesome!!!!!!
On Monday, the musical star Cyd Charisse died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering an apparent heart attack. She sang and danced with legends such as Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain and Fred Astaire in Silk Stockings. Said Fred Astaire, "When we were dancing, we didn't know what time it was." The abundance of talent that she brought to the table was enough to make her an essential part of the golden age of Technicolor musicals.
Charisse was born in 1921 as Tula Ellice Finklea, and started dancing when she was a teenager. She appeared in her first Hollywood film in 1943, as a ballet dancer in the musical Something to Shout About. MGM decided to give her a seven-year contract and change the spelling of her childhood nickname, Sid, to "Cyd."
In addition to Singin' in the Rain and Silk Stockings (her favorite film), Charisse appeared in Brigadoon, The Band Wagon, The Unfinished Dance, Words and Music, It's Always Fair Weather, and Invitation to the Dance. In 1992, at the age of 70, she made her Broadway debut in the musical Grand Hotel, reprising Greta Garbo's role, and continued to appear on screen in small TV roles.
Astaire would later describe Charisse as "beautiful dynamite." Her beauty and exceptional training made her a strong performer in the film, television, and live musical businesses. She will be missed, but always remembered for her considerable contributions to the performing arts.
Hey all of you Facebook users! Just wanted to let you know that we now have a group on Facebook for fans of this lovely blog, so if you haven't already, join! And invite your friends too! The group will let you know of any special events or contests related to BlogwayBaby, and will also give you a sense of pride when you successfully get someone to join! Remember, when you help others, you can't help helping yourself! By others, I mean the staff here at BlogwayBaby as well as your theatre deprived friends. :-( SO GET JOINING AND INVITING! Thanks y'all :D
Hey, wait a second! I definitely have not introduced myself yet! I'm Myrna, Suzy's daughter and brand new blogger. You may remember me from this or maybe even this but I thought a formal introduction was needed. I am now going to be an official poster on this wonderful blog, so you can look forward to my insights EVERY DAY for the REST OF THE SUMMER. :-)
I have been involved in theatre for my entire life, because my mother is a writer... Duh. I started being in shows when I was about 9, and haven't looked back ever since! Now that I'm in Seattle, my involvement in theatre has QUADRUPLED, and I love it! I read up on musical theatre, listen to musical theatre, youtube musical theatre, and take part in musical theatre. Therefore, I believe that I am very qualified for this job =D
I also love TV. Here is a short list of the shows that I watch from the top of my head: Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Dancing with the Stars, America's Next Top Model, Brothers & Sisters, THE LIST GOES ON. So don't be surprised when an analysis of the most recent DWTS appears on this blog. It will happen, so I hope you're prepared.
Well, I've kind of run out of things to say about myself. I'm your average teenage theatre dork and I'd like to say that I'm proud of it. >:-) I hope this post has inspired you to check back EVERY DAY for fun and exciting things going on in musical theatre (and other places...). After all, who knows what will happen during Summer '08! Cheers :D
Yay!! The 2008 Tony Awards aired Sunday, June 15th, and I thought enormous improvement had been made from last year's show. Whoopi Goldberg was the host, and I thought she did a pretty good job. However, nobody will ever beat Hugh Jackman, but what can you do? The program was obviously created to be more interesting and user-friendly, with more singing and less of the "boring" awards (I definitely do not consider them boring, but things such as scenic design, costume design, and even play revival were given before the broadcast).
Final Awards Tally:
South Pacific - 7
In the Heights - 4
Gypsy - 3
Boeing-Boeing - 2
The 39 Steps - 2
Passing Strange - 1
The Seafarer - 1
Mad props to South Pacific, which took home Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Paulo Szot), Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Sound Design of a Musical, and Best Direction of a Musical. Bartlett Sher was the award-winning director of this successful revival, and has been the Artistic Director of the Intiman Theatre here in Seattle since 2000. Represent!
Best speeches of the night would have to go to Laura Benanti for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, Mark Rylance for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, Lin-Manuel Miranda for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre, and Patti LuPone for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. These winners, as well as all the others, completely deserved their Tonys and had inspirational, funny, or just plain cool speeches to boot! Great job, guys!
Stephen Sondheim received the Lifetime Achievement Award, but wasn't there to accept it. HUH?!?!? According to a quote from Mandy Patinkin in the Chicago Sun-Times, Sondheim is a "shy man." Really though? Dude, if you're going to be getting an award of this magnitude, at least be there to accept it. Although, I gotta admit that I did enjoy his heartfelt speech, and Patinkin's facial hair. :-)
Have to say that my favorite performance of the evening was Megan Mullally's "Deep Love" from Young Frankenstein. I saw her in that show when it did its pre-Broadway tryout here in Seattle, but I don't think her performance will ever get old for me. She is just so fantastic, with an amazing voice and incredible charisma. I also enjoyed the selection from In The Heights, and loved seeing Cheyenne Jackson in the Xanadu number!
Well, I know that I may be quite alone in this statement, but I did enjoy this year's Tony Awards. Most of the speeches were interesting, and there were some really great performances. I really want to see In the Heights now, because I thought it was pretty fantastic! I also want to see Xanadu, Little Mermaid, Gypsy, and South Pacific! I believe the only appropriate response to this evening would be "Oh, What a Night!" (I know, I know...)