Wednesday, August 30, 2006

King of All Media

OK, maybe I’m not ready to take on Howard Stern – who would even want to do that? – but I have been tuning into theater news in all sorts of different media lately. First, of course, is print. I hope everyone saw the work of Style’s new theater reviewer, Joseph Quam, in last week’s edition, and his veritable rave for “Beehive.” I’m hoping Mr. Quam will be a more frequent contributor to Style to fill in the substantial gaps in theater coverage my lame-itude creates.

Also, Newsweek came out with their Fall Arts preview. In kind of an interesting strategy, the magazine lumps Museum and Theater events into a “Spectacles” section (versus just “Movies” or “Books”). I can imagine that was an interesting conversation around the Arts Editor’s desk – “Is there anything we can call these things that will justify us cramming them all on to one page?”

Anyway, Newsweek highlights “A Chorus Line” understandably, but also mentions something I’m most curious about, “The Pirate Queen,” which is being developed by the folks behind my favorite musical of all time, “Les Miserables.” Please, oh please, strike gold again, guys!

Finally, I’ve been enjoying news about theater on radio lately, too. Last night, there was a very interesting story on “Black Watch,” the new play showing at the Edinburgh Festival about Scottish soldiers in Afghanistan. It’s supposed to be awesome. Me, I could just listen to those Scottish accents all day long.

Then, earlier in the week, there was a piece about “The Fantasticks” and its revival. I didn’t realize that so much concern had been (appropriately) given to the “rape” lyrics in that show.

Everywhere you turn around – Theater! You’d think there’d be some way to turn coverage of it into a full time job… Any ideas, please let me know.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I’m back. Nothing like a vacation to remind you of all the ways you’d rather be spending your time other than sitting in an office pounding away at the keyboard. Sigh.

Maybe to shake off these end-o-summer blues, I need to go see a show?

According to the TD, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is pretty darn good. (Of course, as is becoming typical, you had to hunt around a bit to find the darn review.) A trip to this show could be just the ticket out of the doldrums.

I was thinking about dropping by the RAPT meeting last night but events (mostly work-related) conspired against me. How was it? Everyone have a good time?

And did anyone talk about how many Richmond theater-related websites there suddenly seems to be? Jackie J. alerted me to Looks good – and impressive for a one-woman operation! I particularly like the Events Calendar section, though many shows need to be added – there’s 5 or 6 shows opening in the next several weeks. There might be possibilities for pooling effort here. I guess we’ll see.

Finally, if you have any doubts about how theater permeates the culture: did you see the Emmy Awards on Sunday? Conan O’Brian did a hilarious musical number, a take-off of “We’ve Got Trouble” from “Music Man.” It was a great reminder that theater still forms the cultural foundation that TV and movies build upon. I can't imagine Meredith Wilson ever would have imagined Prof. Harold Hill saying "Gee, we're screwed!" -- so the times have changed!

Friday, August 18, 2006


I'm leaving today to go on vacation for 10 days - yippee! So things will be pretty slow here at the blog. But please check back in a week or so. I promise to be full of fresh news, witty insights, revealing commentary, and amusing tid-bits.

Well.......I should at least have some news...

A Weekend of Theater

Nothing ever quite turns out how you expect. I went into last weekend expecting to be hanging out with my whole family on Saturday and watching “Follies.” As it turned out, I was there solo and, due to a work situation, had to leave at intermission. I hated to miss the whole show.

What I saw was pretty fun, maybe more so for a Richmond “old-timer” – I was pretty easily swept up in the nostalgia being dramatized on stage due to my own nostalgic memories. I still remember meeting Lynn West with the amazing green eyes for the first time about 20 years ago. It was great to hear her voice again. And Jenny Fralin was saucy and sexy and lots of fun. I can’t remember when I last saw her onstage. Jason Marks’s big solo was when I realized this was really going to be a high-quality production – that boy can sing!

I am a bit hampered in commenting on the show because they had run out of programs by the time I got there but I believe it was Terri Moore who sang “I’m Still Here” and man, what a stunning delivery of a knock-out song. All of the four older leads were excellent – I loved the dynamics between the couples, particularly Fern’s and Lauren’s characters. What fun to see Mrs. Leinhass-Cook really dig into a bitchy character! You go girl!

The younger set of couples were also very good but frankly I didn’t get to see much of them before I had to split. And probably the single performance that impressed me the most was Jodi Rentz (I think) as the second female older lead (can't remember character's name). Interesting character played very well. I hope to see her in something else soon.

I’ll reserve judgment on the show itself until I see a complete production. It’s a very interesting premise but the bits and pieces of plot stuck in between mostly disconnected musical numbers seems like a setup for a somewhat unsatisfying show. But it certainly was a great production, downright astounding given that it’s a totally volunteer operation.

I saw Luther Memorial’s Arts Program production of “Annie” out at the Glen Allen Cultural Center last Sunday. What’s great about these educational program shows is that you always see some kids that clearly have that mysterious, wonderous quality that makes them positively shine on stage. There are always a couple of moments where you see someone miss a cue or drop a line, too. Those are the most revealing situations; they are interesting in the same way minor league baseball games are. The way the players handle those little mishaps is a good indicator of whether they’ll make it in the big leagues or not.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

I’m not finding much time to write this week, getting ready to go off on vacation this weekend. Luckily, I did some writing a couple of weeks ago – here’s my piece on Janine Russo who will be one of the stars of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” starting in previews at the Mill this weekend.

Also, USA Today has been doing a surprising amount of theater coverage lately. Monday had a story on regional theater and today there was a somewhat dispiriting review of the new Broadway show “Kiki & Herb.”

I’ve also discovered some very interesting Internet spaces lately that I want to create a whole new set of links around but that may have to wait until after vacation. I hope that’s tantalizing enough to keep you checking back here for more!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Boom boom, out go the lights

This weekend, three of the four main stage shows in town -- a couple of them long-runners -- dropped off the "Now Showing" roster. All of a sudden, there's only one big show buzzing around the boards (yuk yuk). This lull won't last for long with "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" starting previews this weekend and opening next week at Swift Creek Mill. After that, it'll be hard to catch a breath as about 7 big shows open in 5 weeks.

As we gear up for that, Style is putting together their semi-annual Arts issue. I'll be highlighting a few upcoming shows for that and have put in a couple pitches for feature articles down the road. If you have any ideas for an interesting theater-related story (that might just coincidentally highlight your favorite theater company), now is the time to send it over to me.

This past weekend's theater adventures didn't quite go as planned but still managed to catch 1 1/2 good shows. More details to come after I get over the Monday morning hump...

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Sigh. Another fun show that I'm going to have to miss. The first music that I ever remember listening to when I was a kid was the 60s girl-group hits. I had two older sisters who were big Supremes fans.

But here's a good thing: a new theater critic will be checking out "Beehive" this weekend. I hope he/she does a good job because I'd really like him/her to work out. If there's another critic in the rotation, hopefully Style will have more reviews.

Even without "Beehive," it will be a big theater weekend for me. It's supposed to be gorgeous on Saturday so we're packing up the fam and seeing "Follies." Then Luther Memorial's "Annie" will be our Sunday show. My wife was like a total "Annie" geek when she was a teen. I'd tell you more but I don't want to embarrass her in public (too much...)

A "Steel" at any price

I can’t believe the run of “Steel Magnolias” is almost over! The wonderful all-women cast makes me think back to my introduction to Richmond-area theater – the original Theatre IV run of “Quilters” back in 1986 – that also had a knock-out cast of talented actresses. Anyway, tonight and tomorrow you can get half-price tickets to the show. Details are as follows:

“Box Office Manager Rene McCoull welcomes you and your friends to discounted tickets to STEEL MAGNOLIAS on both Thursday Night, August 10 and Friday Night, August 11.

1/2 price theatre-only tickets = $14.75 (normally $29.50)

STEEL MAGNOLIAS with Jolene Carroll, Audra Honaker, Jacqueline Jones, Vicki McLeod, Joy Williams, Stephanie Zabner-Hodgkiss

Call the box office for reservations: 748-5203 and mention Rene's 1/2 Price Offer”

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Grease is apparently the word

So what’s up with the popularity of “Grease” all of a sudden? First, there’s the recently closed show out at the Steward School and the American Idol also-rans singing a regrettable version of “You’re the One that I Want.” Then today I see in USA Today that there’s going to be a reality show centered on the casting of a new Broadway revival of the show.

The reality show craze seems to be perculating right along so this is probably a genius idea for drawing some of that luster (such as it is) over into the Broadway arena. I could be snarky about it but, given that I have a weakness for at least one reality show (‘Survivor’ – what can I say?), I’ll just wish for the best. Anything that draws attention to the stage can’t be a bad thing. Or at least, not TOO bad a thing…

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Brushing Up

Have you checked out the venue for Richmond Shakespeare’s indoor season? I think what’s coolest about it is that it’s a perfect match for their summer home at Agecroft. The hall is one of the sanctuaries in the Second Presbyterian Church and it’s decked out with beautiful stained glass and wrought-iron fixtures (at least I think they’re wrought iron), all very majestic and Middle English looking. And you can’t beat the off-street parking.

I’m looking forward to the “Julius Caesar” because I’ve never seen it before. Richmond Shakes also seems to have a knack for casting great sidekicks (Ryan Capps as Macbeth’s Banquo, Robin Pierce as Othello’s Iago, Scott Wichmann as just about every character he’s played for them, etc.) so I’m hoping their Brutus does better than Denzel Washington apparently did on Broadway. And in keeping with Grant Mudge’s ongoing attention to keeping Shakespeare relevant in the modern world, the show has a great tagline too: “Think this election year’s a killer?”

I’ve never seen “Doctor Faustus” before either, though I’ve read many versions and variations. “Twelfth Night” is a favorite because of its silliness but even more so because of its darkness. It has always been a play that makes you laugh but in the end, you should be at least a little uncomfortable about some of the things you are laughing about.

Say what you will (yuk yuk), but it looks like some good choices with the potential for some great shows.

Monday, August 07, 2006

One More

It's a good thing there are so many talented actors in town because this additional audition notice just came in:

Director/Choreographer K Strong seeks 10 women and 10 men, ages 20 to 60, for the Barksdale Theatre production of "Mame." All roles are open. For the auditions, please prepare a song (accompanist provided) and come prepared to dance. Auditions are by appointment only and will be held from 6 until 10 pm, Monday, August 14th and Tuesday, August 15th at Barksdale Theatre’s Willow Lawn location.

Rehearsals for “Mame” are scheduled to begin on October 16th. To schedule an appointment or for additional information please call 804-344-8052 x4.

Audition Madness

Thanks to the real networking czar of Richmond theater (Miss O’Neill), I’ve seen notifications about all sorts of audition opportunities in recent weeks. If you are already on Robyn’s email list, the following will just be a compilation of things you’ve already seen. I’m only going to list bullet points; let me know if you want me to send you additional details (such as I have them).

Richmond Shakespeare Theatre will be holding auditions for its 2006-2007 season, which will include Julius Caesar, A Christmas Carol, Doctor Faustus and Twelfth Night. Auditions will be held on August 7 and 8, 2006 from 7:00-9:00 PM at Second Presbyterian Church (5 N. 5th Street, Richmond, VA 23219). Callbacks will be held on August 9 at 7:00 PM. The audition will consist of a one-minute Elizabethan monologue and may also include cold readings from the texts. You do NOT necessarily need to have extensive Shakespearean experience to audition! All positions are PAID and NON-UNION. Contact Director of Training Andrew Hamm at 804-232-4000 or

The Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond announces open auditions for its upcoming dramatic reading of "Nickel and Dimed" by Joan Holden, based on the book "Nickel and Dimed, On (Not) Getting By in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich. Auditions are Saturday, August 11, 2006 from 1:00-4:00 pm in Cousins Studio Theatre. Director Benjamin Mosse seeks one man (ages 20-60) and five women (ages 20-60). Auditions are by appointment only. Open to Equity and non-Equity actors. All performers paid. Prepared monologue welcome but not required. Rehearsals for the reading are October 21, 22, and 23, 2006 with one public performance in Alice Jepson Theatre on October 23 at 7:30 pm. To schedule an appointment, call (804) 484-1599.

Richmond Triangle Players director Shon M. Stacy will be seeing actors for the following role in Sordid Lives: G. W. Nethercott, 40's, distraught Vietnam vet, larger build is a plus (role played by Beau Bridges in the film version of "Sordid Lives"). Sordid Lives runs at Fielden's Cabaret Theater Sept 20- Oct 14 plus 2 weeks extension possible. Actor is PAID, non-AEA. Contact Shon at 804-484-0190 for appointment or more information. Rehearsals begin immediately.

THE MAKING OF LAURA JEAN TRICK--a short film about a high schooler struggling with a same-sex crush--is coming to Richmond! The filmmakers--Blake Martin (director) and Lauren Wolkstein (writer/ producer)--are looking for CAST and CREW. Please send all messages to and mention your area of expertise in the subject line.

Auditions will be held in Western Henrico County in early-mid August. Characters are 15-16 years of age; Director is open to seeing any interested players regardless of background or experience; please send headshot or recent picture to Dates: August 20-26 (three or four days therein)

We will shoot in the suburbs of Henrico County. Lodging for out-of-towners is possible. All meals will be home-cooked. Small budget. Compensation: Transportation, meals, comfortable housing, hospitality and respect, exposure to other Columbia filmmakers, copy of tape, possible Festival exposure.

Friday, August 04, 2006


I had a nice talk with Janine Russo earlier this week (who was in “The Full Monty” and is set to star in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at the Mill), which caused me to reflect on how many theater couples there are in Richmond. There’s Janine and David Bridgewater, Scott Wichmann and Jen Meharg, Joy and Eric Williams, Richard Koch and Vicki MacLoed, etc. etc. The list goes on forever. (And that’s not even mentioning the recently absconded duo, Susan Sanford and Foster Solomon.)

“Follies” at the Dell features two halves of a couple of familiar theater couples in town: it’s directed by Joe Pabst (whose better half is Debra Waggoner) and stars Lauren Leinhaas-Cook, whose hubby Larry Cook was recently chased around the Hanover Tavern stage in “No Sex Please, We’re British” by Jan Guarino, wife of playwright/actor Bo Wilson. It boggles the mind a little when you start to connect all of the dots…

The “Follies” cast also includes two of my most favorite local stage veterans: Fernando Rivadeniera and Lynn West. They may be just enough of an inspiration to get me to bear the heat and check this one out…

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Amazing Resource

In my tireless efforts to link to as much Richmond-related, theater-related content as possible, I came across Dorothy Holland’s site yesterday. She’s the high-energy professor/director of many a production at University of Richmond. Her site includes an astonishing websites page that links to just about every imaginable theater-related piece of Internet effluvium you could ever hope to pull up in the old browser, from theater journals to theater companies to sites on specific eras of theater to today’s theater news. It’s really an amazing resource and so I’ve added it to the “We’re All in This Together” section. This is a site worth bookmarking if I’ve ever seen one!

And by the way, my efforts are far from tireless. I get tired pretty often. I was just being dramatic.