Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts on "Drag Me to Hell"

In the field that it’s set for itself, it works flawlessly. Sam Raimi digs deep into his bag of horror movie tricks and he doesn’t give a damn about character, psychology, depth, or any panty-waist notion of 'logic.' He wants to scare the crap out of you. It’s a movie that is absolutely single-minded in pursuit of that goal. There’s not a detail that doesn’t support the director’s intent of making sure you have a ball. Raimi works in the conventions of the horror movie, and pushes them as far as they can go. (In short - that means 'bodily fluids.')

It’s a film that has been engineered as methodically as any ride at Universal Studios - a piece of mass entertainment, so lovingly crafted and technically brilliant that it touches art.

See it in a movie theatre if you can. There is a communal aspect to screaming your lungs out at something scary which DVD just can't touch.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

"It's more valuable to have absorbed while there. You let it roll around, undergo a chemical change, and then seep out onto paper in the form that will suit the musicians who are going to play it. But it really takes quite a bit of doing to decide what to do and what not to do, particularly when you have that big, wonderful, and beautiful world over there as a subject. You don't want to underestimate or understate it." - Duke Ellington, "Orientations," March 1964, describing the writing of "Far East Suite," with Billy Strayhorn. (Thanks to Dave for getting me the CD of FES.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last Call for NYC PAS Survey

Hey folks. If you are a performing artist or work in the performing arts in NYC - or if you run a facility used for rehearsals or performances in NYC - follow this link to our blog and take a survey. It closes Friday June 12 and we'd love to get more responses. It'll take about five minutes.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Glee Club at The Brick

OK. I'm not impartial here. Playwright Matthew Freeman is a good friend of mine and in his new show at the Brick, out of the eight cast members, I counted six who had either acted in or directed one of my shows. Go read something else for cold-blooded objectivity. But I've seen a lot of Freeman's work, and "Glee Club," part of the Antidepressant Festival, may be my favorite. "Glee Club" is a hilariously nasty piece of work, a bunch of losers in an amateur singing group prepping for a concert for the terminally ill. The star soloist has joined AA and no longer has the pipes he had when on the sauce. Then things get weird. All the characters are venal, neurotic and unbelievably selfish. The whole thing quickly devolves into a men-only "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson, only funnier. What's remarkable (and enviable) about the piece is how much Matt is able to sustain the comedy while going deep into very disturbing territory.

The whole cast is great but I have to say my favorite performance was my friend (and frequent director/collaborator) Stephen Speights as the obsessed and passive-aggressive music director. His meltdown near the end while breaking up a fight is one of the funniest things I've seen on a stage in a long time. There are only three more performances at odd times and I'm looking over my calendar to see when if I can get to it again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Help NYTE Win 5K

Details here at Martin Denton's blog.

Blue Coyote's Glee Club at the Brick

Matthew Freeman's "Glee Club" opens this weekend at the Brick, as part of the Antidepressant Festival. Get your tickets here. Matt's entries at the Brick Festival include "Interview with the Author" two years ago, where David DelGrosso, Matt Trumbull, Matt Freeman and I all played...Matt Freeman. And "Trayf" a year and a half ago is one of the only plays I know where the writer started with the idea, "Hmm...here's a lobster suit...how can I make one of my best friends wear it onstage?"

Pictured: (from the bottom clockwise) Tom Staggs, Matthew Trumbull, Gary Shrader, David DelGrosso, Robert Buckwalter, Stephen Speights, and Carter Jackson. Not pictured is cast member Bruce Barton.)

Sam French Blogspot Interview

First installment of the Sam French blog interviews for the July Festival is up. That lovely photo you see of me is by none other than Mr. Stephen Mosher. (Same as the photo off on the side.)

In this interview, I speak of some of my proudest moments in the theatre - like killing a bat made of balsa wood and black dress socks in full view of an audience.