Friday, October 30, 2009

A Look Behind Bottleneck: Destry Rehearsals

When Connie Champagne takes the stage at 42nd Street Moon, she transports us to the Wild West, to the small town of Bottleneck where the bad guys is bad, and the good guys is good. And Connie should know from bad guys and good guys of the Wild West, she shares a birthday with Billy the Kid

(Connie Champagne and Steve Rhyne)

One of the great perks of writing this blog is that I get to go into rehearsal and see the show taking shape.  I get to see the bad guys and good guys forming their characters and their relationships.  As we enter our last preview, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what I saw.

Many of you have probably already seen my footage of "Are You Ready, Gyp Watson?"  It was a really interesting experience to watch the actors just practicing around the piano. It felt like a good ol' fashioned piano sing-along.  More like friends coming together and have fun than a "rehearsal". 

If you didn't get a chance to see the video, well here ya go!

I also took some snapshots of various moments.  Below the boys are having a barbershop-sextet moment with "Not Guilty."

(Clockwise: Ernie Tovar, Wendell H. Wilson, Michael Cassidy, Jeremy Vik, Tom Orr, Coley Grundman)

Moon productions don't get weeks of rehearsals, so whenever possible, double duty is done! While most of the cast is rehearsing the second act, Robbie Cowan and Louise Jarmilowicz work on costuming in back.

From This....

(Robbie Cowan and Louise Jarmilowicz)

To this...

(Robbie Cowan)

Pretty snazzy Louise!

Come check out all the hard work the Destry company has done! Destry Rides Again opens tomorrow, October 31st and runs through November 15th. Opening Night Champagne and hors d'oeuvres reception included with your Opening Night ticket. Come in costume and get a coupon good for a half-off ticket for our next show Jubilee! For Tickets click here or call (415) 255-8207.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Destry Rides Where the Buffalo Rome

Gershwin, Kern, Porter, and Berlin, these are some of the best-known contributors to the Great American Songbook canon and of Broadway's history. However this season's fifth composer, Harold Rome (b. 1908), may not be as familiar.

Although you'll soon be familiar with Destry Rides Again, you may not know that, coincidental to our just completed production, one of his early successes was entitled Call Me Mister (1946) about service men returning home from war.

Rome had a number of hit shows however, with I Can Get It For You Wholesale (1962), Pins and Needles (1934), and of course Fanny (1954) - the hit show starring Florence Henderson and Ezio Pinza that would debut David Merrick's talents as a Broadway producer.

Rome also introduced the world to a new ingĂ©nue in Wholesale, it’s such a shame she was lost to obscurity. I doubt any of you have ever heard of her, Barbra Streisand?

But I digress.

Rome was actually a Yale-educated architect who showed promise as a painter as well. He said, "I was an architect with no buildings to build, a painter with no patrons." So of course, he felt musical theatre would be an easier life.

Rome's music career was highlighted by truly satirical songs. He often used his musical talents to campaign against social injustice; one critic of the 1930's hailed him "Noel Coward, with a social conscience." An example is "Four Angels of Peace", which was written as a quartet for Neville Chamberlin, Tojo, Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler to sing in Pins and Needles. It seems the relevance of his lyrics has not been lost to time:
Four little angels of peace are we
Loving our neighbors so peacefully
There's really no harm if we do not disarm
For we always in close harmony

He was also fond of singing "Sing Me a Song With Social Significance" when he made public appearances throughout his life:

Sing me a song with social significance
Or you can sing 'til you're blue
Let meaning shine from ev'ry line
Or I won't love you

Rome left us relatively recently, in 1993, but his vibrant music and wonderful adaption of the western comedy spoof, Destry Rides Again will live on at the Eureka Theatre beginning October 28th.  For tickets click here or call (415) 255-8207.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Show Must Go On

Wow!  What excitement last night.  There is nothing like live theatre, you never know when something is going to happen.

And something certainly did happen!

A truck jack-kniffed on the Bay Bridge and trapped three of our actors on the other side!

What to do?  What to do?

Do we cancel the show?  Has Moon ever cancelled a show before?

Of course not!  Sure we might have started a *wee* bit late.  But we did go on!

For a few minutes there, it looked like 42nd Street Moon Board President J. Patterson McBaine was going to fill in for one of the actors. He even got on stage, but just to assure all the lovely Moonies in attendance that the show would go on!

Sarah Kathleen Farrell (pictured left) stepped into the role of Sebastian Sebastian and we were short one part of our trio for the opening number, and some of the lines were going to be divied up amongst some of the other actors.

But our fearless company started the show to a very appreciative crowd; a crowd that included our guest host from I Feel a Song Coming On, Tony-winner Cady Huffman (pictured below right).

Luckily, two of the actors were able to make it about 10 min after curtain and slipped seamlessly back into their roles. And by the second act, our cast was once again complete.

I can't tell you how proud I am of this cast.  They had no intention of letting the audience go home empty handed, and the standing ovation at the end proved that the audience had a ride they won't soon forget!

Kudos to all the cast and crew last night, and to Director Dyan McBride and Artistic Director Greg MacKellan for their leadership;  they took the reins and directed us into a harried, but successful evening.

Showbiz, there's nothin' like it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Six Reasons to See I FEEL A SONG COMING ON

So I have a few people here who would like to tell you why you should join us for our first salon, I Feel a Song Coming On.  Here they are... in their own words.

So there ya have it, do you have your tickets yet?  If not purchase them by clicking here.  Or call us at the Box Office at (415) 255 - 8207.  Any don't forget you can meet ALL these guys PLUS Tony Award-winner Cady Huffman by joining us for the "Sweet Treat" reception after the show.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Donna - Donna McKechnie to Host Ira Gershwin Salon

There are Stars among the Moon this season.

Internationally renowned cabaret sensation and MAC-award winning Klea Blackhurst begins the second half of Moon's Call Me Madam this week, while our own home town star and chanteuse Connie Champagne begins rehearsal's of Destry Rides Again.

(Klea Blackhurst and Connie Champagne)

Megan Cavanagh, star of hit films A League of Their Own and Robin Hood: Men in Tights -- not to mention the voice of Jimmy Neutron's mom -- will be joining us this holiday season for Cole Porter's Jubilee.

(Megan Cavanagh)

As if that wasn't enough Tony-winner Cady Huffman just sent us a note telling us how much she loves the script for I Feel a Song Coming On: A Dorothy Fields Salon (which is this Tuesday, Oct 13th).

(Cady Huffman as Ulla in The Producers)

How could this season get better?

How about Donna McKechnie joining us for the Ira Gershwin Salon this January? (Thursday, January 28th at 7:00PM to be exact.)

(Donna McKechnie)

Yes, once again all my devoted Moon Blog readers you get the scoop.  Donnie McKechnie who changed Broadway forever by helping shape A Chorus Line and then went on to win the Tony-award with her role as Cassie will be hosting the Ira Gershwin Salon. 

We are so excited here at Moon we've decided to re-introduce the Salon Series pricing.  See Cady Huffman and Donna McKechnie for only $100 dollars. Click Here for the special rate.  Hurry, this is a limited time offer.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Like Ike - Call Me Madam and the Election of 1952

Right after opening night I overheard two Moonies talking about the election of 1952.  Not all that odd considering one of the great comedic songs of Call Me Madam is entitled, "They Like Ike."

But I realized I too had no idea who had actually won that particular election. 

Had Harry S. Truman bested Eisenhower who would come back later to win the Presidency?  I could have sworn it was Adlai Stevenson that lost to Eisenhower.

I would say this is one of those times where my public education failed me.

For those of you, who like me, are a little fuzzy on the details... here they are.
Truman took over the post of the Presidency when FDR passed away.  He then won re-election (just barely) against Thomas Dewey in 1948 leading to this now famous picture ---------------->

He was a good two years into his second term when Irving Berlin wrote "They Like Ike" for Call Me Madam.  Madam's Democratic Senators Brockbank and Gallagher (played by DC Scarpelli and John-Elliot Kirk) could not have known how unpopular Truman would become shortly after the Korean War began to escalate toward the end of 1950.

(DC Scarpelli and John-Elliott Kirk)

So unpopular in fact, that he lost the New Hampshire primary to Senator Estes Kefauver.  A loss that surely would have made Madam's Congresswoman Betsey "I'm the Republican" Wilkins (played by Scarlett Hepworth) very happy indeed.

(Scarlett Hepworth)

Truman bowed out of the election.  Adlai Stevenson received the democratic nomination and lost to Dwight "I Like Ike" D. Eisenhower.  Berlin, a life long conservative, lent his song to Ike.  It would become a fixture in the campaign.

Eisenhower recalled Perle Mesta for political reasons in the spring of 1953.  There is a lovely letter from Mesta to Eisenhower currently on display at the Eureka Theatre.  Make sure to look it over when you come to see Call Me Madam, now playing through Oct. 18th.

Tell us your recollections of the Election of 1952.  Who did you, or your family vote for and why?  Do you think history looked more kindly upon Truman than his contemporaries did?  Leave a comment and let us Moonies what you think about this time in our past.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Movie in My Mind - Call Me Madam Promotional Video

What lies before you is my first attempt at creating a "best of" clip for all you Moonies. I hope you enjoy it and leave plenty of comments.