Thursday, September 04, 2008

Part 2 of the Romeo and Juliet North Shore Tour Extravaganzapalooza wrap-up, where a Ross by any other name smells as Henry.

Oh good friends, thank you for bearing with me as I write and record the memories of the past couple of weeks... I doubt that I'll ever forget anything, because it was so memorable, but just recording these events for myself for posterity, I'll feel so much better. And after all, isn't that what a stupid personal blog is for? yeah. It is.

Here we go with continued recaps of the Romeo and Juliet tour.

Fifth Show: Lynn Woods Reservation Rose Garden. Photos are here.
LynnWoods 65Sunday's first show was held at the Lynn Woods Reservation Rose Garden. I booked it sight unseen at the suggestion of my girl C from the office. She said it was amazing.

It was funny, because when we GOT there, none of us could even FIND it.

Talk about a hidden jewel!

We eventually figured it out, found it, and it was indeed amazing. The place was indeed amazing, and the garden was perfect for the production. Perfect size for the small crowd. There were several people there who weren't parents, which was awesome. A beautiful family and their baby came out for the show, and the baby was amazingly sweet and quiet for the whole thing.

We had Henry as Juliet and Grace as Romeo. Jessica was the nurse, and Frazier was Mercrutio. Once again we had our Evangelvist, and he decided to be blind on top of being Elvis. Which was bizarre and amazing.

The show moved quickly, and the balcony scene was adorable with Henry hiding behind the black eyed susans. My favorite Juliet with my favorite flower. They came in handy as he gestured that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and got a good laugh from the crowd. There were awesome uses of props, with Romeo hiding behind and umbrella at the party scene and Jessica and Frazier both using this bizarre heart shaped lion for very different purposes.

It was a really nice show, and I loved the location. I just wish more people had come to that show other than parents. It was truly lovely. I'd rebook there again.

Sixth Show: Derby Square, Town Hall, Salem MA. Photos are here.
Derby Square 94This one is probably my favorite show of the run. We had an aural conflict with my favorite little restaurant in Klop Alley, right across the street, because they had a band playing that night.

Note to self -- always remember to find out what is going on around the show on the date of production. I had no idea they'd have a band playing, and they knew we'd be there... but forgot. Oops. The band played soft but didn't quit. At times it drowned out the action, but it wasn't a show stopper. In fact, the Grateful Dead pickin' and grinnin' style of tunes they were playing gave the show a real interesting feeling at times.

Madeline was the nurse and was INSANE with energy. She was a drop dead riot and a pleasure to watch. Jess' Peter to her nurse was a yo-yo flippin, book reading aloof jerk, which made for a nice comedic pairing. Ross was Romeo and Emma Juliet, and it was by far the most intense performance yet.

Derby Square 42 Derby Square 44 Derby Square 41 Derby Square 40

Emma's Juliet had a serious dose of the crazy after finding out Ross' Romeo was "banish'ed." She actually had me worried for her mental health. Wow. The death scenes were astonishing, with Ross killing Jamie's Paris most violently, and his drinking of an entire bottle of Ginger Ale as his poison from the Apothacary almost brought me and the girl I was sitting with to chant "chug! chug! chug!"

In fact, I made an LOLCat, or should I say, and LOLspeare of the shot, just for fun.

Oh, I'm so funny.

Anyway... Derby Square was very well attended, a huge crowd, and the buzz was going around about more shows, awesome shows, other shows for other age groups.

Rebel was taking over the North Shore. Excellent.

The kids had Monday off. A well deserved break... but I think it took the wind out of their sails for Tuesday. Sunday was such a blasted amazing show, that it was hard to come back after a day of rest and kick more ass...

Show Seven: Salem Senior Center, Salem MA. Photos are here.
SSS 29When I was working with the city of Salem, planning where to stage the shows, and I shared the idea of bringing theatre to the people who normally wouldn't be able to go see theatre, the park and rec director suggested the Senior Center.

It is a "hang out" kind of for the oldsters in town. They get snack and hang around and play cards and do stuff. Most towns have them, or at least have a county Senior Center.

I was really worried that there would be no one at the show, but it was incredibly well attended, and not just by parents. There were large round tables set up, and all the Seniors sitting around them with their friends were really cute.

The kids all seemed a little sluggish that morning, and I think they tried really hard to make the speech and language clear and understandable to the audience, and also toned down the naughty.

Emma2's Mercrutio wasn't as crotch-grabby, with just one or two really good "boner" kinds of jokes (using a toy dinosaur skeleton bone to gesture at the nurse a couple times). Consequentially, the energy just fizzed out and the show was not as good.

Grace was Juliet and Henry Romeo. Henry told me after the show that he has had a problem having a great first half but then completely falling apart after intermission, forgetting his lines, not really playing to the audience right. He really beat himself up and I felt horrible for him.

The thing is, he knew, and the cast knew, but that audience didn't know. Not because they're old and stupid... but because they were just engrossed in the story. They didn't realize a page of dialog was skipped over. They weren't really aware of that because they were following the story.

Jamie's portrayal of Lord Capulet saved the day. When he attacked Juliet because of her refusal to marry Paris, the audience was completely engrossed. When he stormed out of the room, a round of applause followed him, causing Juliet to have to wait to deliver her lines, begging her "honey sweet mother" for help in postponing the wedding. Jamie was on fire, and was the star of the show.

Jess' nurse gleaned very few laughs, because she didn't slow things down very much. She just did things as frenetically as she'd been doing them. Madeline's Peter was more like a playful puppy than ever before. She found a ball and played with it, and used a troll and Shakespeare doll to dance along on the floor. It was quite funny.

Maeve played Friar Laurence, and she plays it without a costume but with a tough, Catholic School Priest kind of vibe. A simple cross around her neck and rosary beads were her only costume. My father in law commented that he liked her acting but had no idea what her role was, until he saw the Evangelvist do the same role the next day. Her utterances of "holy Saint Francis" while shaking her head side to side were like a soft, incredulous swear, whereas Luke's screaming cries of "hoooooollllllllly Saint FRANcis-ah!" were a righteous cry to the heavens.

The look on Grace's face when she was whining about the nurse, griping "But old folks, many feign as they were dead; Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead..." was amazing. She looked around the room filled with ... old folks. Yikes! I think she was on autopilot and was just doing her lines, and then something clicked and I saw her blanch a bit right before she said it. But she got through it. Another funny thing was the introduction of a toy unicorn head/hat into the prop mixture.

Maeve did an amazing job by using the audience and doing her scenes inside the table area. She did a fantastic job of that, where everyone else was reluctant to get in that tight. Her entrances through the back door of the room worked amazingly well. I'm proud of her for taking that angle instead of using the easier option and staying out of the tables.

That was the major problem with this show. The kids didn't work the audience as well, and hid behind the folding screens, didn't bring the action as close upstage as was hoped for. Alex and Chris tried to force them into a center circle with chairs but they still stayed behind them. Hiding is not good in theatre. The use of props was minimal... and the show just really dragged. Intermission was amazingly long because the Senior Center staff brought slushies in for everyone and it took forever.

SSS 49All of my pictures have a chair in the middle of them, so my flickr set is like "A chair with some play happening all around it." The show was indoors, and it had almost an antiseptic feel, kind of institutional. The fairy lights along the top of the wall were a lovely touch though, and the light pouring in the window made the balcony scene really sweet. Grace sat on the windowsill/heater and just bathed in the glorious light... so the "east and Juliet the sun" was ... rather touching. The use of the two folding screens worked well here, as they were hiding from one another. I liked it so much I had to use it as my horizontal banner, as you can see.

Doug heard some "old folks" behind him talking. "I think that's poison she's drinking." "Oh... now she's awake... and he's dead." "Oh, that's so sad." So they were following along and knew the story. The props threw them off a little bit, but the kids used empty cups as props for the items they were supposed to be drinking... except Juliet who used a yellow highlighter as her suicide device and she scribbled all up and down her left arm and then died. But they got it... they saw it as a "happy dagger" and it worked.

The audience totally loved it. As they were leaving, a lot of the "old folks" were praising the kids and saying it was the best play they'd seen in a long, long time. And that was the goal.

Three shows to go, dear heart. Hang in there. I have to get ready for work now. More later.

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