March 27, 2012

-image-“i hope i get my raisins from fresno!”

We went to see Original Banshee in The Music Man on Saturday night. Now, last year, she was Gretl in The Sound of Music and this year she was a River City Kid — basically the chorus — and that was a bit hard for her, initially, going from a bigger part to a smaller part. Then again, that’s the nature of the game. You don’t always get the big part. There’s not always even a big part FOR you. There are really only 2 small non-chorus parts for little kids in The Music Man — one is for a little boy and one is for a girl, about 11 or 12 years old. Original Banshee is an 8-year-old girl. So wrong gender, wrong age. But what are you gonna do? You want to be in the show, you play the part they give you. That’s the way it works.

And she did, that girl. She played it to the bone. She did so well in rehearsals, the director ended up giving her a few extra lines, a few extra “bits,” and a tiny solo in “The Wells Fargo Wagon” — which she belted to the rafters — “I hope I get my raisins from Fresno!!!”

Which is clearly why she looks so manic here. She is hoping for her raisins from Fresno, pippa! No one could possibly be calm in the face of such anticipation!

She jumped up and belted out that solo and the audience laughed and laughed, I think because she’s just so little and just so LOUD.

We did catch her, once, scanning the audience, looking for us it turns out. (I mean, she is only 8, after all.) But that one glance was all it took. She went backstage and announced to her dad/my brother, “Tee Tee and Uncle Beloved are 4th row center.” And we were. She’s a smart little stinker.

But, you know, it’s good for her to learn at this early age that the theatre world is fraught with joys and disappointments, highs and lows, and what you think should obviously come to you may not actually come to you and that you sometimes have to make the most of something less than hoped for or something less than what you had the last time. You will be passed over for valid reasons or stupid reasons. You won’t always get what you believe you deserve.

Just play it to the bone, leave nothing in the green room, and you will shine; big light or small light, you will shine.

With or without your raisins from Fresno.

That’s what ol’ Tee Tee will tell her.

February 22, 2012

-image-realizing i’m posting these mostly for sheila ……

(Apologies to anyone who may find these tedious. I’m being very theatre-y.)

More from “The Fantasticks”:

Soon It’s Gonna Rain ……

Soon it’s gonna rain
I can feel it
Soon it’s gonna rain
I can tell
Soon it’s gonna rain
What’ll we do with you?

1) Matt and Luisa waltz and sing in honor of ….. love and impending rain, I guess. Because they’re in love so who cares about rain?

This photo is still in the theatre department’s “Hall of Fame” (so to speak). Still hanging, so that makes me happy. I’ve always thought it was a very sweet photo. My leading man here recently wrote a musical for the Seattle Children’s Theatre. Very talented fellow.


2) Still singing and dancing. Uhm, I am mixed about this next photo. Wanna know why? The reason is petty and shallow. It really is.

Okay. Here goes: My elbows. The dimples in my elbows, which my mom always told me to cover, are glowing neon to me in this photo. That was part of why I hated this costume. It showed my apocalyptic elbow dimples. Retarded, yes, but there it is.


Soon it’s gonna rain
Pool in your elbows
Soon it’s gonna rain
Good luck with that
Soon it’s gonna rain
Let’s get you some nice sand bags

February 19, 2012

-image-“the fantasticks” — eons ago

Sixteen-year-old Luisa, dreamer and slight psychotic, bursts into song mere moments after twirling onto the stage at the top of the show. (Well, at least I had to twirl anyway.)


I’d like to swim in a clear blue stream
Where the water is icy cold
Then go to town in a golden gown
And have my fortune told.

Sure, whatevs, Luisa. Calm down.

Please, God, please! Don’t let me be NORMAL! she pleads at one point.

Luisa’s mom finds her. OMG, Luisa, please just come inside and be normal with me, okay?


But Luisa clearly cannot be tamed.

Or normal either.

Not in those shoes anyhow.

December 21, 2010

-image-“a christmas story” — the musical

How did I miss this? How did I not know this was going on?

“A Christmas Story,” the musical, at the gorgeous 5th Avenue theater in my beloved Seattle.

(Years ago, I saw Katharine Hepburn and Dorothy Loudon in “West Side Waltz” in the 5th Avenue theater. Our seats were in the very back row of the balcony. You could not be farther away and still be in the building. I watched the entire show through binoculars and I thought my arms were going to fall off. Totally worth it, though. Totally worth it.)

But a musical version of Ralphie and Randy? Scott Farkas? The Bumpus hounds? Black Bart? A musical number featuring the “electric sex” lamp? Brilliant! Broadway bound, I’m sure.

The “major award.” Fra-jeel-aay– must be Italian!

The gift from Aunt Clara.

And … the aftermath of the Bumpus hounds. This photo kills me. Defeat.

Can’t wait for it to make its way here!

November 18, 2010

-image-“finishing the hat”

By Stephen Sondheim.

I spent a good chunk of my Saturday morning reading this in the bookstore. We didn’t go all the way or anything but I still feel bad, like I led it on, got what I wanted, and then walked away. There must have been skintight jeans involved. Subliminal skintight jeans that made me do things.

So I need to go make an honest book of it. I need to commit. I miss it. I need it in my life.


I love the subtitle:

“With attendant comment, principles, heresies, grudges, whines, and anecdotes.”

Hahaha. And what I was able to read of those was fantastic. Funny. Insightful. Self-deprecating.

Ah, Stephen Sondheim. My Broadway boyfriend.

April 22, 2010

-image-sondheim teaches “sweeney”

Okay. Who knows how much time I have before the horrible blackness happens again?? We’re working on solutions, so thank you to those of you who have sent me emails with ideas/possible solutions. I’ll be around when I can — at the whim of this whole dealio — for the next week or so.

Recently, I stumbled across a bunch of YouTube videos featuring Stephen Sondheim teaching a variety of his songs at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. This clip features “My Friends” from Sweeney Todd. (Circa mid-80s, I think.) This is like CRACK to me. Brilliant. What I think of the young guy’s performance here is not the point. He’s in school and, therefore, I assume he WANTS to be educated. (Oh, okay: He looks completely wrong for Sweeney, and he has no passion. But — BUT — I’m assuming they are simply working this as a scene and not necessarily rehearsing for an actual production. That’s the sense I get anyway. So, yes, his looks are moot. Who cares? Reeeeeer, Trace.)

I’m just loving Sondheim’s comments: “Address the razor.” “Make love to the razor.” “The man is crazy.” “Don’t be so sane.” Hahahahaha. I mean, it’s brilliant. It’s simple. It’s usable and accessible to the performers. This kid got a chance to be seriously schooled, however briefly, by one of the true greats in musical theater, the composer himself. I mean, what a gift, what a moment. Standing feet away from Sondheim himself while he watches you, shares his insights, his thoughts behind what he wrote, how that applies to you as a performer, I’d be quaking in my boots, personally, but what a thrill!

To the young man’s credit, I do think he improves with each critique from Sondheim. He progresses. He’s moving forward. No, it’s not great, but he’s moving forward. He’s listening and learning. He can sing, definitely, and his acting inches forward here. The girl playing Lovett is quite good, I think. Or at least in contrast. Notice how her performance elevates and energizes his. He needs her to do this scene with him. She’s pushing him. Watch how Sondheim is just SO enthusiastic. I love his note to her: “That was terrific. The banality of her emotions is what makes the contrast work.” YES! Exactly! What a great, helpful insight. His comments are full, rich, there’s so MUCH in them that they can use. And I love his expressions watching them. He’s supportive and …. well, just thrilled to see them performing his work. There’s this crazy glee in his eyes at some moments that just makes me laugh out loud.

He’s proud, I think. Just proud. I’m rambling and writing too fast and without thinking — uhm, because of my newfound fear of the looming blackness, but I just LOVE this.

To compare, here are Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter performing the song in the recent movie version. Yes, it’s the movie and not the stage musical — different forms, I know — but I include it here because I think what Depp does here proves Sondheim’s points. The razor is the girl. The RAZOR is the partner. It’s almost an erotic moment he’s having with this razor. I could have posted George Hearn’s version, but I’ve never been a huge fan of it. Great singer. GREAT. But he doesn’t find that seductive edge to this song. He does the crazy well, and he can sing the pants off of Depp, but Depp’s performance here is a blazing triumph of acting over vocal power. Depp makes you fear the razor and wish you were the razor at the same time. Yamahama. It’s sick. And, yes, it’s sexy, too.

The razor is the partner.

Watch and see how many of Sondheim’s insights in the clip above — from what? 25 years ago? — Depp uses in this song. Hey, if it works, it WORKS, and watch Depp make it work. Genius.

Also, I’m adding this random bit because I really did miss the presence of the chorus — the “company” — in the movie version. I understand how that wouldn’t have worked, but these are the lyrics at the end here, after Sweeney declares his arm complete again, and the song swells:

Lift your razor high, Sweeney!
Hear it singing Yes!
Sink it in the rosy skin of righteousness!

Quite thrilling with a full menacing chorus.

I’m scared now just thinking of it.

June 12, 2009

-image-i love barbara harris

Here’s an old classic clip of theater great Barbara Harris in a somewhat obscure little musical called “The Apple Tree.” (It was revived a few years ago on Broadway starring Kristen Chenoweth, whom I love, but you can’t beat Barbara Harris.)

I first encountered this musical when our drama department performed it in high school. It’s an odd little piece, uneven, but totally endearing to me.

It’s a musical in three acts — the same male and female playing the leads in all three acts. That’s usually how it’s done, although, to utilize more people and to limit pouting and hissy fits, our director cast different people in each act. I suppose that was smart given the rampant immaturity he was dealing with. (I was Ella/Passionella. Oh, you’re about to meet her.)

The first act is “The Diary of Adam and Eve” based on Twain’s short story. The second is “The Lady or the Tiger?” based on the short story by — honestly, I had to look this up — Frank Stockton. And the third act, from which this clip is taken, is called “Passionella,” a re-imagining of the Cinderella tale — written by Jules Feiffer — with a Marilyn Monroe twist.

In this clip — from, oh, 1967? I think? — we meet Ella, a chimney sweep who has the universal dream of all chimney sweeps — to be a movie star.

Barbara Harris is a genius. Just …. a genius. The clip is old, as I said, but she, SHE is magic. Her voice, her body — she is a total goof and I adore her. She moos; she howls. It’s hilarious. She lip-syncs a high note at one point. She just quits the stage at the end. It all feels like an old musical variety show and I love that it’s so of-an-era. It’s a longer clip, yes, but I hope you’ll watch it all. I guarantee this will cheer up the bluest of blues. I’m thrilled that I even found it. She won the Tony for “The Apple Tree” that year.

A true gem.

May 22, 2009

-image-the wig and the glasses

Well, I have stumbled upon something truly disturbing. Something I did not think it was possible to find because it’s something I didn’t even know existed.

Last week, I was clicking around on the website of a local ensemble theater with whom I used to work. They’re a big deal around here, lots of kudos and accolades.

Hm. But not really while I was there.

Oh, now, pshaw! I’m sure that’s a mere coincidence.

Anyhoo. They have an in-house playwright who has, over the years, written an annual show for the Christmas season. So this is a picture of me, from, oh, several moons ago, in one of these shows. A picture I never knew existed, much less would ever have thought would be on their website.


I’m on the right with the codfish mouth and the precious hands. My character’s name is Rosemary and I am a little dreamer nerd full of little dreamer nerd ideas who develops a hopeless crush on a mysterious sailor who comes to stay at my uncle’s seaside inn. That’s my Uncle Nicholas being kissed by my snippy sister Charlotte, who is much less interesting than I am, to be completely forthcoming with you.

But can we please discuss the wig? THE WIG!! I’d forgotten that INSANE creation! I wish the shot wasn’t profile because the width of this thing needs to be seen straight on to be truly believed. I mean, I felt like it needed some kind of steel armature to hold it up. Girders. Rebars. Whatever. I needed construction guys with orange cones to stand near me with stop signs just so other people could maneuver around me. There needed to be beeping sounds of warning accompanying the movements of that mountainous thing. It gave me raging headaches and possibly permanent brain damage. It was massive in a neurologically compromising kind of way. Every night of the show, once that thing was cemented to my head, cast members would see me and guffaw helplessly. The wig itself was pure comedy. See that huge riot of curls and ribbon on the side there? Well, there is another matching riot of curls and ribbon on the other side of head, just as huge. Instead of one or two or three little ringlets, there were, oh, six, seven, ten? And as the show went on, I started to believe there was a conspiracy to add more and more ringlets to Rosemary’s wig. And when a girl’s hairdo becomes wider than her hips, there is a big problem.

Oh, and see Uncle Nick’s spectacles? Well, I am wearing a pair of spectacles just like them. A pair of spectacles with a loose lens, that, yes, would fall out onto my cheek from time to time onstage forcing me to improvise ….. something … hold it up to my eye, hold it away from my eye, shove it onto my eye and squinch my eyelids around it, whatever. Once when that happened onstage, the other actress in the scene just started shaking with laughter at the sight of that stupid lens teetering atop my cheekbone. She was visibly quaking. Oh, and this was a small theater in the round so the audience wasrightthere. The poor girl had this big speech and was supposed to look at me, talk to ME all the while, and she simply COULD NOT. Her face was beet red from the effort of simultaneously stifling guffaws and saying her lines. I mean, look, I was just standing there, pippa, minding my own Rosemary beeswax, fiddling about with my loose spectacle lens, trying to make it a character bit. Please calm down everyone! I was probably upstaging her, but, well, FIX MY LENS, I implore you!! I begged the costumers to fix it, but I think the director just preferred to leave the situation as it was and see what I would do with it.

Basically, I looked and acted completely nutso in a dreamy romantic bookwormy nerd kind of way. My own DAD, when he came to the show, turned to my mom and said, “I thought Tracey was in this show. Where is she?” Hahahahaha. I was utterly unrecognizable. I sported a British accent. I was trapped under a giant wig mountain. I was at the mercy of capricious wobbly glasses. It was NUTS.

Some acquaintances who came to the show and then waited for me afterwards, shuffled their feet and said, “So, uh … which one were you? I didn’t see you!”

“Uhm ….. yeah, the crazy nerd girl? With the huge screaming curls? And the glasses? Okay. ‘Member the girl who fell down running onstage tonight? Yeah, that was me. It was an accident. I slipped. I’m a dork.”

“Oh, yeah! That was funny when she fell during the song! That was you??”

“Uhm, yes.”

“Wow. We didn’t recognize you AT ALL. And we just thought that fall was in the script!”

“Uh, nope. I am actually supposed to stay standing while singing ‘Carol of the Bells,’ but it didn’t work out that way tonight.”

“Hahahahaha! We loved that part!”

“Yes, hahahahaha.”

“That wig you wear is crazy.”

“I know.”

They looked at my smushed, de-wigged hair.

“So …. this is your hair now underneath the wig?”

“Uh, yeah, sorry.”

“No, no. Uhmm ….. the color is pretty.”

“Yeah …. well, thanks.”

Ah, yes.

Good ol’ nerdy dreamy crazy-wigged Rosemary who left me with smushed hair for a good six months after the show closed and intermittent headaches and crossed-eyes and permanent brain damage.

I loved her.

June 16, 2008

-image-tony awards

Watch ’em every year. Last night’s broadcast was just kinda eh. Strange-ish. Forced, strained. Maybe it was me.

Whoopi Goldberg hosted and kept popping up in these Billy Crystal-like clips, inserting herself into various scenes from various musicals. These were obviously pre-filmed and played whenever the show was going to commercial. Weird, they were weird. Didn’t work for me. Here’s Whoopi as Christine in Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom is saying, “Sing! Sing for me, my angel of music!” and Christine’s supposed to start her big, “Ahhhhh-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-AHHHHHHH!” etc., but Whoopi merely sings “Toe-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-NNNNNY!” til she collapses.

Uhm, okay.

Later, here she is as Whoopi Poppins floating in with her umbrella and having problems flying.

Later, she’s The Lady of the Lake from Spamalot. She enters in full suit of armor, takes the helmet off and says, “Tony.”


That was the running “gag.” She’d insert herself into a famous show and say or sing “Tony.”

Even later, in a rendition of “One” from A Chorus Line, all the dancers are Whoopi.


I love Whoopi Goldberg, generally, but she rarely even appeared LIVE onstage last night. The whole evening had a strange, disjointed vibe to me. Just weird.

The high point for me was a completely nonsensical acceptance speech by Mark Rylance, winner of Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for Boeing Boeing. I have not the slightest inkling what it meant. Judging from the bemused and smiling faces in the audience, no one else did either. He was completely dead pan, straight-faced, with a kind of younger Charles Grodin air about him. Here’s his acceptance speech in its entirety:

When you’re in town wearing some kind of a uniform is helpful. Policeman, priest, etc. Driving a tank is very impressive or a car with official lettering on the side. If that isn’t to your taste, you could join the revolution, wear an armband, carry a home-made flag tied to a broom handle or placard bearing an incendiary slogan. At the very least, you should wear a suit and carry a briefcase and a cellphone. Or a team jacket, a baseball cap, and a cell phone. If you’re in the woods, the back country, some place far from any human habitation, it is a good idea to wear orange…and carry a gun and, or depending on the season, a fishing pole or a camera with a big lens. Otherwise…I will wrap it up now very quickly…otherwise it might appear that you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re just wandering the earth, no particular reason for being here, no particular place to go. Thanks very much for this.

Everybody laughed like crazy and nobody had a clue why. Hahahaha.

Oh, and Alec Baldwin? You’re not supposed to say the name “M-a-c-B-e-t-h”! Has nobody told you, man? You’re in timeout.

February 26, 2008

-image-more “fantasticks” photos

Dreamer Luisa, caught up in romance, anywhere, everywhere, wanting “her bandit” (El Gallo) to whisk her away to see the world.



“It’s a far better thing that I do now
Than I have ever done before!”
Isn’t that beautiful? That man was beheaded.

El Gallo:

I’m not surprised.

(Sorry to ruin the moment, but my hair is freakin’ ridiculous. And my comma eyebrows. That’s Leo as El Gallo. He was so OLD, like, 25.)

El Gallo sings of visions of the larger world, seducing her with glories, glossing over horrors. Luisa eats it up.


I seem to see Venice
We’re on a lagoon
A gondolier’s crooning
A gondola tune
The air makes your hair billow blue in the moon

I could swoon!

You’re so blue in the moon!

El Gallo promises to run away with her. She asks for a kiss first and he kisses her on the eyes — her dream come true. (Sheesh, Luisa. Dream big, girl!)


El Gallo:

One word, Luisa, listen:
I want to tell you this –
I promise to remember too
That one particular kiss
… And now hurry; we have a lifetime for kisses.


You’ll wait here?

El Gallo:

I promise.

(Liar! LIAR! Yeah, he’s not there when she gets back so she can learn, you know, a thing or two about the real world. As an aside: I’d forgotten what a great face old man Leo had. And huge hands! Good Lord. Also, I hated that blouse with a white-hot hate. It just fit weird. In the privacy of my dorm room, I sobbed heartfelt odes to my vanity about having to wear it. Good times. Good times.)

More Fantasticks posts here and here and here.

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