19 November 2010

From the fangirl files....

OK, so a few people have asked how do I get so lucky and meet actors during their stints in Chicago and get pics and autographs with them. So here it is..... Well, it is not like I go out for beers with them after a show, so there is not real technique other than politeness and good luck but here it is...Maria's guide to meeting performers, actors and occasionally musicians that breeze through Chicago or "How to be a good fangirl/boy"

The theater setup is pretty standard. There is a stage door, locate it before the play starts. Usually opens to an alley around the corner from the main entrance. In some instances actors leave fairly quickly so you might have a narrow window of time to meet someone if they are the kind that leave soon. The amount of security varies from play to play and who is performing. Nathan Lane had a limo waiting for him like, two feet from the stage door and he always made a quick getaway after the show, while another limo was always there for Bebe Neuwirth but she always made a point of meeting fans after the show, apologizing once for being too late coming out. Either way it was OK, I consider it a privilege, not a right to meet an actor/musician that I admire. OK, go to the stage door as soon as the play ends, there is usually one security guard and maybe a few stagehands out for smokes. Don't pester them, usually they can't/won't tell you if your favorite actor is still in the building. Be nice, quiet and don't get in the way of people getting out. When the person you wish to talk to comes out address them as Miss X or Mr Y. Don't be tacky and ask for autographs from people you have no idea who they are... at least look at the cast pics (if they are on the playbill) and try to remember their names. I am fairly good at recognizing actors out of costume/makeup and I always have my playbill on the cast roster to make sure I don't mistake one person for another (not happened yet), if it is not someone well known (ie, Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuwirth, Terrence Mann, Constantine etal.).  Never chase anyone down the alley (again, TACKY!!!) if they don't stop, the simply are not in the mood to do meet and greets or they have plans for the evening. If they are getting in a car..... don't go stick your head in the window, you only come across as desperate and creepy (yes, I have seen people do this). I never just ask for an autograph, I make a point to tell the person I am speaking with why I like their performance. They might or might not care but in my book, not doing so makes you come across as just an autograph collector. If that is what you are after, be my guest, but since I only speak to people whose performance had touched or impressed me, not telling them would cheapen the experience. That way I have had short, fun conversations with cast members of several plays and a more personal experience that way. Always thank them for stopping to chat!

So there, no big science or mystery, just luck and persistence ;-)

See ya by the stage door!

05 November 2010

Manners, people! (Based on personal experiences)

OK, so I am going to get a bit preachy but some people annoy me in the theater in a bad, bad way.
  • Children less than 4 years old should not be brought into the theater under any circumstances! I got stuck in front of a screaming kid of no more than two and the dumb parents just sat there like it was not with them
  • If you don't like the play get up and walk out. It is a free country, after all. Don't sit there and grumble about it or worse yet, play on the phone/NintendoDS
  • People around you don't want the details of your latest colonoscopy or your hysterectomy. Keep personal stuff personal
  • Don't text during the play, especially if you feel the need to hold the phone at eye level.
  • Don't sing along out loud. No matter how good a singer you think you are, the people onstage sing better
  • Don't grumble if people need to crawl over you to get to their seats, as long as they do it before the play starts
  • Don't move up to an empty seat until after intermission, before that it is likely than the rightful owner of the seat will be coming in late
  • DON'T TAKE PICTURES!! You will be swiftly asked to erase them, or, if Patti Lupone is onstage she will stop the show to scream at you and you will be dragged out by the ushers (I did not witness this but the audio was on you tube, search for it)
  • Research the play you are going to see. A lady seating beside us during August:Osage County huffed every time the actors cussed onstage, she left after second intermission....
  • If your family does not get along, seat separately. The overture is not the place to have a fight with your mother over who will seat by your bratty teenage son and keep him from playing with his Nintendo DS
  • The overture is not the time to catch up with old friends that you run into at the theater. Sit down and shut up!
Enjoy the show :-)

12 September 2010

Pre-sales and other "necessary" evils of concert going…

Note: This is not in any way shape or form a bitchy rant against "Weird Al", his management or any member of his band or staff. Just my personal experiences with the presale during the 2010 tour.


    So, Weird Al wrapped the summer portion of his tour. I went to 5 concerts in 4 different states. Actually if you read this and don't know my obsession with "Weird Al" Yankovic, you would find this excessive. Actually five concerts is a low number for me. Usually it is between 10-12 concerts per tour. But, the kids are getting older (my children, not Al or TBITB) and I have to chauffeur them all over creation for their own activities, so, this year it was less concerts than usual. No less fun, mind you.

Well, this year they did something different. An outside company (Artist Arena) was contracted to handle the pre-sales. I planned on getting tickets through the pre-sale just one time for me and a friend during our "California Adventure" this summer. Well, AA calls me and tells me they had a problem with my original tickets and they offered same seats for the next night or similar tix for the original date. I told them that I still wanted to go to the Friday concert so go ahead and change the seats…. That was the last I heard from them. Shortly afterwards, another company took over (Paid.com) and when I contacted them, they assured me they would honor all AA transactions. As the weeks went on, I started to wonder where the tickets were, after contacting Paid several times and getting people that seemed to know very little about the AA snafu, I got the tickets and everything was resolved (at least for me, I know of at least one person that never got their ticket).

    I see all the problems people had as growing pains………. I had similar problems with Broadway in Chicago when they started out (of course, the year they forgot to process my subscription, I got tickets on the 5th row dead center at the balcony prices…..YAY!) Something new was tried and while the system still seems to have a few kinks, I hope they iron them out before the next tour (whenever that might be). The people I spoke to were never short or impolite, they just seemed a bit lost… like they haven't been doing this for too long. One big complain I have with the presales is that I don't get to select my seat. For theater, if I go to the box office to select seats they tell me not only the seat I'll be seating at, but also they tell me if I will miss a specific part of a play, so I am a bit spoiled with that (adjusting tiara). Since I like to take pictures during concerts, I have very specific areas I like to seat at, so that I am not sitting almost under the chin of anyone (happened once) and the microphone stands are not in the way. A bit "princessy" of me but, hey, I am a creature of habit, so whatever.

    So, there I exorcised my complaints about presales and will move on to better things. I have five concerts to blog about! (Coming soon!)


07 September 2010

Freedom of expression misinterpreted


Pastor Jones....Your "protest" will do nothing more than portray Christians as intolerant and narrow minded. You do not represent me or any other sane Christian in this country. How could you burn something that is sacred to so many in this country? How would you feel if someone decided to "protest" by burning Bibles. Thanks to delusional idiots like you, this country is becoming more divided by the day. Do you REALLY think that is what God wants????? That we blow each other to bits?

Like I said before, freedom of expression allows you to be an ass but it also grants me and pretty much everyone else that is sane in the US to call you on it!!!!


31 July 2010

The Last Airbender

TLA was a disappointment, I am sad to say. I was expecting too much, I guess. If you have never seen the cartoon, then it might be OK, but as my 11 year old daughter said, it deserves only 1/3 of a star. Too serious, too fast. I was like here's Aang.... lets go fight the fire nation and learn waterbending STAT! I saw more restraint on ER while they were working or multiple GSW with the patient bleeding out. Oh, and the 3D was the more worthless extra 5 bucks I have ever paid... Funny thing is that after the first couple of weeks only one showing of the movie was in 2D, maybe trying to milk as much money as possible since they are not really going to make much on this one. I say fire M. Night, get a new director and try again. But, again, I am not the one fronting millions of dollars on this. Pity, I was really looking forward to this one.


22 February 2010

101 Dalmatians or How much do I hate stilts...

I am truly sad to write this review. I *wanted* to like this show. In a way I do. There are dogs that do tricks and a group of children that are fantastic performers.... but that is it. They could have done a better job adapting this to the stage.

Let me start by saying this, little ones will love it....... mine did. But for us adults there are some really serious problems with this show. I can't see having them fixed without shutting down and re-doing the whole thing.

Let's dissect, shall we?

First mistake, the "human" characters on the show are on stilts. Why, you may ask... so that you get the idea that they are bigger than the human actors portraying the dogs. The stilts are covered by gigantic bell bottom pants or beyond ample skirts (think circus tent here) that look extremely uncomfortable to wear. From the moment they come out on stage they seem unsteady and stiff when walking. Yes, I know that with practice they might get better, but the stilts are a bad idea, you have to see it to get how wrong it looks. Cruella is on stilts, too, making what could be a deliciously evil character that you would love to hate into too much of a caricature. The actress that plays Cruella, Sara Gettelfinger, does what she can with her character but unfortunately she cannot compensate for the odd look. She is a great singer and when she is evil she is great but like I say everything looks so awkward........

Second mistake, set designer needs to be fired. It is trying to look cartoonish and it is just as awkward as the stupid stilts (can you tell I really hate them?). It looks out of proportion with the players. Elongated flimsy figures that worked well for El Greco, but he was painting 2 dimensional paintings and this is supposed to look tri-dimensional! There is a silly chase that is done with puppets and there is this gigantic gap between the panels that make up the base of it, that you can probably fit a 777 through it! There is also a brick wall made out of painted fabric that just seemed to sway in the breeze, will it be so difficult to stretch it over a frame?

Unfortunately, the above things kill the show. The kids that portray the pups are truly adorable and the most energetic players I have seen on stage since Wicked closed in Chicago. Some of the songs are catchy and cute, not necessarily the kind that you go home humming them, but pleasant enough to enjoy at the show. Most of the players are good and try to make the best out of the material they were handed but, they look so damn uncomfortable!

12 February 2010

August: Osage County-A VERY Dark Comedy

Went to see August: Osage County Thursday night. First and foremost.... leave the young ones at home for this one! This is not a play for children, or even most teens. Having said that, I had a blast watching the most dysfunctional/toxic family is America go at each other's throats for 3+ hours.

The Gist:

Beverly Weston is missing and his family gets together for the somber occasion. Mom is addicted to drugs (prescription ones). Dan is chronically unhappy, hence his disappearance and subsequent death. They have three daughters, each more toxic than the other than the other. This family openly hates and belittles each other mercilessly. Old grudges are rebooted and new ones are created until there is only one person standing... sort of...

Why I loved it:

This play is funny because what is going on onstage is so wrong, you cannot help but laugh because otherwise, you would be plain horrified. The Mother is brilliantly played by Estelle Parsons (she also played Roseanne's mom on Roseanne). This woman will one minute scare the crap out of you and the next you will wish she was dead. She does not speak her lines, she stabs the other people on stage with her words. She generates absolutely no sympathy even when she gets what she deserves at the very end of the play. The rest of the cast is equally fantastic. They all look so drained at the end of the play! The play is long, it has two 10 minute intermissions, but time seems to fly by as fast as the insults. If you like intensity in a play and don't mind profanity or are easily offended, you need to go see this one!

Rate: 5/5