Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Minnesota Memories Pt II

On Thursday we dawdle awake. It's weird not to be with Lilo, but I have to admit I enjoyed sleeping in for four days!
It is Opening night! We are put to work after a long Kaffeclatcsh on the porch, where we admired the lake views. We walk over to Gail's house laden with show related goodies for the cast party that night, Tiger Sundae fixings, gummy worms and buns for our Tendermaids. Yep, it's that kind of a party.
I am slicing the buns when E, the director walks in, she ignores me completely, and tells Joan, Gail and Tom that she is going home due to extreme exhaustion... did I mention this was opening night? Joan is floored. E cheerily walks out... on the show. There is now a damper on our party prep. We wonder what the problem is. She is a bit of a Jeckyll-y Hyde, as she is cheery and sweet to her cast, but a raving meanie to Joan. We decide she's either panicky or nuts.
We decide to go to lunch at the Elbow Room, i.e. Garrison Keillor's Chatterbox Cafe, then we stop at the Salvation Army for a treasure hunt. T and J run into a pair of fans of the show, one of whom turn's out to be Marion Ross' sister!
WE drop Joan off to get ready and T and I continue to go thrifting until he is felled by the overweening smell of scented candles.
We have a pre-show dinner at The Green Mill, with Tom B. We are terribly overdressed, but we hoist a cocktail and a cheer for opening.
"Tales of Two Counties" opened at The Marion Ross Performing Arts center October 16th 2008. The place is packed.
T has to give the pre show pep talk, extempore, since the director isn't there to do it.
The stories are all familiar to the audience members and there are a lot of nods and whispers and comments about the stories. The show is very site-specific, but the stories and the songs are universal..
Some of the singing is great, some is sincere. It works in the context of them being "Real" people. I find the staging a little silly, grown men and women making gestures that belong in a second grade recital. The director didn't trust the script to be compelling enough, which was a mistake, but luckily they mostly speak normally and that really works. And there is no first act blackout which leaves the audience in their seats not knowing that it's over.
T gets praised in a taciturn way, since no one is effusive in Albert Lea, but we eventually suss out that the crowd really liked it.
We retire to Gail's for celebratory ice cream Tiger Sundaes. (I don't know if I've mentioned the cold yet.)
Feels like a quiet success.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Minnesota Memories Pt 1

We left Wednesday, and landed in Minneapolis at 5pm. There was a slight annoyance at the Enterprise Rental Car counter as the sales girl informed us, the economy cars (Which I had reserved) were all gone, but we could get into a gas guzzling van for the same price or a smaller car for $6 a day more. Ick, bad customer service, especially since I had spent the better part of an afternoon looking for the best price on rental cars since NO ONE has a shuttle or bus to Albert Lea (!).
Stop on the way at Ellen's Cafe in Elko/New Market, wanting authentic food, and avoiding chains at all cost. The cafe was small and neat with a shrine to Elvis. T had fried chicken, I had fried fish. We both realized that our diet, which had to then been working splendidly for both of us would be put on hold for our Minnesota sojourn. There was one guy behind the counter and it turned out he was also the cook. There was a table full of regulars having "Taco Nite." and one of the guys kept filling our coffee cups, just to help the lone employee out.
We listened to the final Obama/McCain debate on our radio, my brother kept breaking in with "Tweets" about the debate, I felt a part of something big, looking at the moon over the plains, and living history.
We arrived at the theatre, "The Marion Ross Performing Arts Center." Which is a big name for a sweet but smallish theatre, around 9:30pm. We run into an older lady with a pearl accordion slung over her shoulder, who tells us that rehearsal has just let out, (the night before opening? So early??) and who turns out to be one of the members of the cast. She later buttonholes T, once she finds out he is the composer as says, "How many two octave songs ya got?" in a slightly irritated but affectionate manner. She solos on one of the hardest, prettiest songs in the show.
We meet Joan Graham, the writer and T's contact for the show and Tom B from Disney, California and a VERY fancy designer for such a small show. We meet the musical director, Gail and take a tour of the space. We are invited to Gail's for pie and ice cream, a super friendly gesture, considering everyone must be exhausted.
We drop our bags off in Joan's 100 Y.O house, a lakeside marvel with character and charm and stuffed to the brim with dolls! She also has three fluffy cats who are enthusiastic for our company.
We walk in the Bitter! Cold! to Gail's apartment which is in a converted woman's college, The two' T's Joan and myself, Gail and a cast member, Sarah (a VERY quirky N. Dakotan) eat loads of crustless pie. Turns out the director is there in the apartment but does not come out to say hello or eat. Apparently she keeps to herself A LOT. This will be important later.
We get back to Joan's, enjoy a nice chat, then sleep under 5 quilts in our sweaters and scarves. T dreams he is in a cave in. Bitter! Cold!, but we are very happy to be there and WILL eventually acclimate.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It's been a quiet week in Albert Lea and Austin

I am so excited! We are heading to Minnesota! T's new musical, " A Tale of Two Counties" Opens there next week and we have been invited to go. T is doing a radio interview about the piece on Monday. I can't wait to visit the place after doing so much research. I am curious why no one bothered to mention the Spam Museum, but I guess once you have been immortalized by Monty Python, there's no use in trying to top it with a competing Spam song.
Did you know, on Hawaii they make Spam sushi? Funny how a place teeming with fresh fish and fruits would be so attracted to strange meats.
I am most interested to see how the actors interpret the songs. I must confess, I feel proprietary. I am after all, the muse, and as such feel I own a part of the piece. I kid, but I also feel so protective of T's work. Plus I KNOW how hard they are to sing. he writes really rangy music. No one better get wimpy on those high notes...
T is doing really well in the moving forward dept. Me not so much. I've been occupying my time being on a low carb diet and belly dancing. I can't believe that I have been eating meat and losing so much weight. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. T thinks I should take up belly dancing as a career, but I can't even respond to some random guy who says "hey, baby" without wanting to smack him upside the head. I hate being ogled. I do love to belly dance, tho'. Hard to feel homely when you are tinkling your coins.
We are teaching an acting class this saturday at the Newport Beach Main Library, 2pm. It's for kids, but everyone is welcome. I think we are going to do a lot of singing this week. Come by and say hi!