Monday, August 04, 2008

Old School Style Sunday Top Ten: Let me Entertain You

If you're reading this, then you already know: the latest episode of "Flirt! With Haviland Stillwell" is [supposed to] LAUNCH into the WEBOSPHERE at some point on TUESDAY on Broadway World dot com and you should go watch it, 'cause I edited it myself! That's right, all by myself, like Zarathustra. I didn't go outdoors or speak to other humans for like three days. I've also developed a medley in my head which includes 2- second clips of various showy tunes, here's how it goes: "Memorieeeeees look at me look at me oh no now go walk out that door and all that jazz all she cares about is love all he cares about is LOVE! he ran into my knife ten times! take me outttt tonight! yeah! but it ain't last call for you and me! awhoaha whooooaahh and iiiii want my baby back enough is enough is enough"

It's a good thing I actually like musical theater somewhat, otherwise I would've drilled my eyes out with animal-themed vibrators while editing this thing. I just think that'd be a funny way to go blind, like Oedipus but sparkly and with a g-spot.

Anyhow last week I did real meaningful writing type things and now I will compensate by switching over to another primary topic: frivolity.

In honor of FLIRT! and Andrea McArdle in drag; today I'll indulge my lifelong romance with the theater with a Top Ten of Theatrical Experiences.

I'm not doing this to suck the asses of the minions who may travel here hunting for haviland photos, I mean, Hav doesn't even like musical theater as much as I do and I'm not gay so why would I suck on someone's ass, that'd be boring. This Top Ten is part of a thematic series of Simple Top Tens, brought to you by Totally Simple Magazine. Previous issues have included Top Ten Sport, Top Ten Dream Jobs, "Top Ten Worst Holidays, Top Twenty Love Songs, Top Ten People from "Full House" that I'd Sleep With, Top Ten Musical Memories.

Secretly I was once into theater more than I've ever been into anything ever. If it wasn't for the intense pressure and limited financial security of my super grown-up life, I still would be. I'd see anything: musicals at public high schools, operettas in rural Southeastern Michigan, any ol' tour that rambled through Detroit -- hell -- I'd watch dinner theater with rapture. When we traveled, we saw theater, and sometimes its landmarks, or traveled specifically to see theater in Stratford (Canada), Oregon, and Spring Green (Wisconsin). I went to a boarding school that teemed with incredible theater, did the theater "beat" for my college paper (U of M did some good stuff -- even smaller shows like Closer and 4.49 Psychosis), omg!

So I've always had a lot of actor friends or boyfriends or girlfriends. I like to be the person who works on the words, then I match up with someone who can handle the external things, like images and movement.

I wanted to write "My So Called life: The Musical" but Haviland told me that wasn't a good investment plan.

I wanna see Six Degrees of Separation (John Guare) and I'm confused why I've never been able to find anyone doing it anywhere ever in my whole life.


10. Spring Awakening (Broadway):
If you've ever emailed me the day of -- then you know. I never say yes to anything the day of. When I get up, I've got a good idea about how the day's gonna go from there and I change plans for two things: people I want to bang, and theater. So when I said "yes!" to Lainy's query: "I found two front row seats for $50, wanna go tonight?," her reply was was "really?!!" 'cause I'd just made a day-of plan, the first of our friendship.

If the dictionary played music, it'd play the SA soundtrack under "yearning." See: prefect, sexy, full, jumping. Also, it's hot to see the Original Broadway Cast of something that you know'll be around for a while.
9. Poona the Fuck Dog and Other Stories for Children (Off-Off Broadway): This is the show we saw the night that me and Ingrid and Meg put the white tabs on our tongues and then ate our cookies and then each other's hearts and then went all the way uptown. I don't remember what it was about but it must've been glorious. That title! And it inspired us to do hallucinogenics.
8. The Laramie Project (Off- Broadway): A masterpiece for real.
7. The View From Tall (reading, the East Village somewhere):
Just a reading of a new play but it was the first time I saw Haviland act. She played a 15-year-old. And I remember thinking; "good, she's really fucking good." 'Cause I can't be besties with an artist who's bad at their art, it gets awkward. So once I knew that every compliment I'd ever give her would be true, we were good to go.
6. Grease (Broadway Tour) starring Rosie O'Donnell, Detroit: I still have my ticket. I was a wee lass and kept thinking "I am in the same room as my favorite famous person!" and wondering if my life would change after sharing walls and relatively -- oxygen -- with her. It didn't. And by the time I actually spoke to her person-to-person, I was older and saw famous people as real people, not as "famous people." I thought the show was fun, but wondered what happened to "You're the One That I Want."
5. Collected Stories (Donald Marguiles) starring Uta Hagen, Off-Broadway: One of my first trips to the city, Ryan saw the tkts listing and said OMG, it's Uta Hagen, whatever she's doing we're seeing it. And it was this wonderful thing; this story about writers. And the acting was so perfect.
4. No Exit, Pioneer High School (Ann Arbor, MI): I was stage managing this play when my Dad passed away. I dropped out as part of my "change everything about my life to make it unrecognizable" plan but my desire to see it overpowered my desire to avoid my former friends. The set was tacky, the acting mediocre, but it was good enough. It's just such an incredible script. Someone surprised me -- the boy with a third nipple, I think -- he played mean so good. We had t-shirts for Midsummer's Night Dream (which I'd been in) that said "Dream" on the front. For No Exit, our t-shirts read; "Hell is Other People."
3. RENT, Broadway
: I saw it in Detroit on tour and was underwhelmed. But I'd love the soundtrack so much and so -- in another unprecedented move inspired by theater -- I made a day-of plan to see it in NYC on Broadway. After an afternoon team meeting at Olive Garden, Ricky pulled me aside and said "we're going to go wait in line to get those last-minute $10 standing-room-only tickets for Rent wanna come Elizabeth has never seen it," and I said, "Okay," and I did and it was beautiful, even though I was sick then and my limbs throbbed when I stood still for long stretches of time. I still stood; captivated and painless, you know? I guess as lame as this sounds, Rent encapsulates a lot of how I feel. Like, about my life.

(sidenote; did you know you can watch the press reels of the original cast on youtube?)

(Got tickets for In the Heights, Passing Strange, August: Osage County, Avenue Q, Chicago, Wicked, Rent, Spring Awakening, Xanadu, or [title of show] any time? I'll make it happen.)

2. Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff? Broadway (revival w/Kathleen Turner)
: It was a Wednesday matinee or something. Me and the senior citizens, which's just how I like it, we had a soft food buffet afterwards. I suspect Kathleen Turner was a stunning villain in her prior life, which took place in graphic novels. Now she's just like a superhuman.

1. Familyland by guess who, ok. It's me you guys! memememee! (Interlochen Arts Academy Senior One-Acts): There's nothing that gratifies the soul of a monkey who tries very hard to be funny sometimes (jk, totally effortless, second nature, my fukù is funny fukù) more than an entire room of peoples captivated by a group of peoples reading your words out loud.

Honorable Mentions:
a) The Shane Reading:
Lainy and I skipped work to go see this one 'cause Haviland was reading stage directions for Susan Miller's play about writing a lesbian teevee show (Susan wrote for the first season of TLW) and she'd snagged actors like Sarah Paulson and SHANE to do it. It changed my life forever I am now not a monkey but Godot.
b) Our Town (my Middle School, Ann Arbor, Michigan): I played Stage Manager. During the monologue about love, I looked @my boyfriend with deep love of all shapes and sizes. My costume; blazer & a t-shirt. Bad sign. I've said it before; Our Town's one of my favorite plays, though it's popularly disliked by people not smart like me and Thornton.
c) All plays I ever saw that involved children dressed up as objects like trees, sailboats or fruits/vegetables.
d) late add : Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Caitlin likes it a lot. I was in it. In the interest of adolescent fairness, we had a different Joseph in each act. It was better when I saw it in Detroit with Donny Osmond, who I was already curious about in general 'cause I was very into the 70's then (it was my Brady Bunch phase), he had a little spat with Rosie O'Donnell culminating in a musical event on her show and he has a sister named Marie. My name is also Marie, and I wrote this blog. Toodles! Also it's on the short list of "scores I have memorized from start to finish."

Ok you guys I have to get at least four hours of sleep and watch three more hours of Rent videos. There's all this 10 year anniversary original cast recording stuff too. All our lives I've longed to discover something as true as this is ...


The Brooklyn Boy said...

For the record, if you can pay (often reasonable rates), mi madre can usually get B-way tickets if you give her a date. Yay, connections.

Also, Passing Strange was frakkin' phenomenal.

Sleep easy, kid.

Mercury said...

Yay for being done/rising above the dysfunctions/bugs/etc. Go team.

I was never a big theater buff but I love watching dance performances. And I didn't entirely dislike theater but if the acting AND the writing weren't both really good I didn't have a tendency to really enjoy it. And I haven't really seen any in a while.

I only saw the movie of rent and I wanna keep it that way cos I cannot imagine anyone else in that role, and I can't remember her real name OR her character's name just that her character was On The Drugs and worried about her stash and the actress was also in Clerks 2 and her voice blew me away, the end.

I get you about untalented friends though. Like it's harder to respect them if they're dedicating themselves to, and think they're really good, when you're sitting htere wincing and trying to figure out how to play it off, like in Friends, when they were all coming up with nice things to say to Joey about his plays/shows/milk carton commercials.

Like, you have to. You can't say, "That sucked."

But I think they can tell when it's really genuine.

Adam said...

One time when I was very very young my school did an educational play about food, and I was assigned to the 'dairy' food group. My mother made me an ice cream cone costume, which sounds like a good idea, but when your legs come out of the side of the cone, and it's one of those pointy waffle cones, you get some really amused looks from grownups that you just don't understand until years later.

Bonus irony (sorry...nothing meta about it), I later developed lactose intolerance.

Adam said...


Last night I did my before bed internets check, and I was all "aww, you know what would be really cool, if there were randomly a Sunday Top Ten waiting for me...there hasn't been one of those in forever"

Then I woke up this morning, and you had read my mind.

Hey, thanks.

wordver: fibbgbt

at the risk of annoying Loz by talking about my wordver...cmon, man, it says flibbertygibbit!

caitlin said...

i am disappointed that joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat is not somewhere on this list. i will never feel the same way about you again.

Dave Lozo said...

what happened to kathleen turner? i wouldn't fuck her with your dick.

riese said...

brooklyn boy: OOOOO good to know. I didn't sleep easy but thank you for the vote of confidence. I think probs 3 AM isn't a good time for dinner.

Mercury: I feel like if I lived in Alaska I'd have to not be into theater 'cause I wouldn't have access to everything I wanted to see. And then you come to new york and see mamma mia ..:-)

See my problem with the movie rent was Mimi, 'cause I love Daphne so much and I associate the part with being her part. Although Rosario had a similar look, she didn't have whatever special magic it is that Daphne has. Although I've never seen her do it in the original b'way show, I was too late for the game for that, but I've just seen her do it live in other venues and listened to the CD a million times.

OMG, I just had an amazing flashback related to Joey and that commercial he did about having herpes, which I thought of today when I saw a Valtrex ad on the subway. Sometimes teevee is funny. I also thought a lot about all the bad plays in tv shows, like in Friends and SATC.

I feel like often people who are in things that suck are the same people who think that your compliments are genuine. Sometimes?

Adam: Once for Halloween I wanted to be a tomato and my Mom made me a costume but there were no tomato costumes, only pin-cushin costumes. So she made me a tomato costume from a pin-cushion costume pattern and made me a little cap so I looked sort of like a condom with water in it. Then I made a lot of ridiculous faces, and I'm scarred for life,

AND the bonus of this story is ... I'm actually now allergic to tomato sauce or anything with high levels of citric acid. I bet there's a direct correlation there.

And yay! Glad soemone still expects these things from me.

caitlin: I thought you might say that. 'Cause I actualyl remembered it this morning, I was like, Damn I forgot to put in Caitlin's favorite show, which I was not only in but saw starring Donny Osmond in Detroit. Now I have go go go joseph stuck in my head, and you're mad at me too. OMG.

Dave Lozo: I have a dick? Kathleen Turner is a force. I think she's actually possibly an alcoholic in real life but I don't care.

caitlin said...

Go, go, go Joseph you know what they say
Hang on now Joseph you'll make it some day
Sha la la Joseph you're doing fine
You and your dreamcoat ahead of your time

i'm not mad at you, just sad is all.

eric mathew said...

AHHHH Riese, this is FUCKING amazing. I agree Joseph should be on there... I have done the show twice... it is the best 90 minutes of pure ALW (Andrew Lloyd Webber)... I do agree with a lot of what you said. Laramie is amazing. I did it when I was in high school.... it is one of the hardest shows to perform night after night. Grease with Ro was amazing... I was like a wee toddler when I saw it. What else? Oh yes. August Osage is not to be missed... you need like a day to understand everything you saw... very powerful. Seeing [Title of Show] in a few weeks... I hope it lives up to the hype that is around it.

As for RENT, I need to give you the links to the original demos... they are very different from what is on stage today.

I always felt Romy and Michelle would make a good musical... speaking of movie stars...

OMG Heather is getting married! How excting.

Go, Go Joe!

Dave Lozo said...

i don't know. but fucking her with your pussy doesn't carry the same weight, since dicks and pussies have different weights.

mayginbigphun said...

oh man, the joseph megamix lives in my heart and always will.

when caitlin and i were little and our mom wanted to shop at daffy's without us interrupting, she would leave us in the car with the joseph tape. i can't imagine what people must have thought, walking past the honda, with us alternately singing along and beating the shit out of each other.

JD said...

Yeah, I feel the same way. I would see a musical every night if I could afford it, anything. Not to mention that there are so many long-running great ones I've never seen. Just saw Les Miz in Philly, for the first time (thoroughly embarrassed).

And Rent, oh man. Even though I was in college, it was only my second time on Broadway (after Chicago), and I had been listening to the soundtrack since hs. I just sat there with my mouth open the entire time, I think. Yeah- captivated, awed, ecstatic. And I cried.

I have avoided seeing the movie version. I know I'll just compare it to the live one and prob not give it a fair shot.

Stephanie said...

I saw No Exit in college, our drama dept did it, I hated it. Except that line - "Hell is other people." Genius. Totes agree.

I saw Footloose! The Musical at the National Theatre. Love.

Tuna Christmas is a classic, too. I miss seeing it every year.

Haviland Stillwell said...

I can't believe you left off "The Old Maid and the Thief" (saucy maid, hello?!) and "The Little Red Hen" starring 7-yr-old HPS. Wtf, Riese? I realize it was only on video and not in real life, but come ON!

reply all to THAT! :)

Kai said...

riese said...

caitlin: Well, i added joseph just for you, because I want you to be happy.

eric mathew: Wow I didn't realize they were already doing Laramie Project in schools, that's an intense thing to do in high school. I love that we both saw Ro on the grease tour. Romy and michelle would make AN AMAZING musical, and I'd rarely admit that 'cause I tend to scoff publicly at musical theater well, I guess, until now. I saw the original demos of RENT and yeah, very different but very hot.

dave lozo: You know how I feel about the p word.

mayginbigphun: That was really good of your Mom not to take you to Daffy's, 'cause my number one complaint about Daffy's is the crying children and the smell of diaper. I have a few ideas about what people would've thought if they'd seen the two of you in the back of a Honda, probs "I bet that's a lesbian couple about to have a baby" or something. My brother never loved Joseph with the passion that I did. We could've really had something.

jd: I saw Les Miz for the first time 'cause Hav was in it ... I thought Hav was lovely but the show was boring boring boring. I cried when Angel died, I saw the movie the weekend it opened actually -- it was strange at first, but I liked that they used so many original cast members. It was different for sure, and it drives me crazy now when ppl talk about Rent the movie instead of Rent the show but I guess that's how a lot of people are including me about a lot of shows from the old school like My Fair Lady, Dreamgirls, et al.

stephanie: i can't believe more than one high school did no exit. it seemed like such a risky choice, with such a small cast.

haviland stillwell: Look I already included two of your productions in my little top ten! Not that The Little Red Hen wasn't captivating on video or the saucy maid ... can we have "the costume of the day is Little Red Hen" once? ok. love you!
(nice incorporation of reply all terminology)

kai: Oh, that's episode one from like February -- I didn't edit that one. The new one that i took part in and that is awesome from the Ro-boat will be premiering tomorrow!

eric mathew said...

Actually what is worse is that a school near my home just did the school edition of RENT. How redic is that? I mean I think a college production would be fine, but I feel like high school is kind of pushing it. On the other hand props to their school board for allowing them to do it.

Chloe said...

My old theater company did The Laramie Project a few years ago...blew my effing mind!

also...Rent...I saw it on Broadway and I cried. And then I was in a regional production, and instead of crying we made sexual innuendos and ate food backstage. And then I saw it on Broadway again, and I cried again. And after typing that I realized that this story is a lot more pointless then I first thought. I should probs be drunk now...

...why aren't I drunk now!?

Vashti said...

OK. i really have nothing to comment about the actual post [i'm not much of a theater person] HOWEVER. i just thought you should know that i've been checking to see if flirt! vid is up basically all day... of course, i now know it's not premiering til tomorrow. i will comment once i see the video that you've been slaving over for the past forever.

eric mathew said...

oh yes... you must hear this. In London they did an awful show called Rent-Remixed... here is a little taste of it.

May I present "Out Tonight" ala a 40's club act.

caitlinmae said...

I stage managed Grease, Joseph AND Annie (also the music man, but that's a shit play so it wasn't on your list.) so my little dramanerd heart went pitterpat when I saw those on your list (not annie, but you mentioned andrea mcardle and she'll always be annie, even in drag.)
And I am SUPER proud of you for teaching yourself final cut and now you have a totes marketable skill for the rest of ever, I'll see you on when we're squabbling over editing jobs.

I agree with you that it's tremendously awkward when your artist friends don't perform up to snuff. There's always the hope that they'll mature into their talent, but it's terrible to have to go see someone's concert/read their poetry/see their play if you're totally underwhelmed and want to run away rather than falsely congratulate them. I'm paranoid that people could think that about my films (or even worse- that they're "decent student work" which is a kiss of death for its accuracy) so I don't show them to my closest friends. Ever. Unless they ask or accidentally find the online link.

@ms. whitmer- we should get together on a team caitlin production of Joseph, because I thought my love for it was unparalleled. Or, we could just go see it in a community theater in NJ.

eric mathew said...

@ caitlins- i am game if you are. i would love to play pharaoh. i am still way bitter that i had a callback and did not get it.

btws i also have a cast recording from one production i did... which is kind of cool... kind of.

Razia said...

like Oedipus but sparkly and with a g-spot made me laugh out loud. I would wear a t-shirt that said that. For real.

Haviland Stillwell said...

the next time one of us gets off the plane we will be little red hens. yes.


ohhhh the foreshadowing...

caitlinmae said...

@ eric mathew (omg this is just like twitter)
Years after we did the show, my SUPERnerd friends and I would sometimes, in conversational lulls, see how much of the show we could sing from memory. Generally this was at rehearsals for other shows, and was not well received. Especially since, as the stage manager, I had a voice for musicals like some people have faces meant for radio.
But if we're doing it, I want to be potiphar.

mayginbigphun said...

the good news for everyone is that bloomfield high school in beautiful bloomfield, new jersey has a performance of joejoejoejoseph this weekend - and i am a ticket holder.

i have a strong feeling that it is not sold out if anyone is interested.

Emily said...

Yay, theatre post! Of course this would force me to end my ways as a non-commenting reader of auto-win.
I love that you're up for [title of show] anytime. If I were closer to NYC I'd be there in a heartbeat.
Have you seen Xanadu? It's seriously the most fun I've ever had at a show. If death by laughter is a legit way to go, that theatre is a high risk area. I just love meta/fourth wall shattering shows in general. In the Heights is also totes fab.

PS That Oedipus line pretty much made my week.