Saturday, September 30, 2006

Viva la Brick

Having been alerted to something significant in this week's issue, I picked up a Brick today (no grunting required) and was delighted at the interview with Shon Stacey, director of "Sordid Lives," and the inclusion of Judi Crenshaw's letter. Clearly, "thick as a Brick" does not equate to "deaf as a post" -- the new weekly has heard the call and will apparently be covering both the visual and performance arts. I hadn't heard of Stefanie Fontanez before but I love both her mellifluous name and her breezy reporting style. As well as the insinuation that she had been to Fielden's when it wasn't so quiet...! Kudos to Pete and Brick; I look forward to more.

Oh, also, great piece on Michael Herring, Commonwealth's Attorney, who is a neighbor of mine and a friend of a friend. Theater coverage as well as compelling local reportage?!?! Now you're scaring me, Brick!

I went to see "The Constant Wife" last night and will be posting more extensively on that experience as soon as I finish the review which won't be tonight because the kids are asleep and the wife and I have a date with Season 5 of "Six Feet Under." (One of the great things about blogging is no finicky editor cuts your ridiculously long run-on sentences...) But I ran into Jodi Strickler there who is one of the nicest people on the face of the earth and who is stage managing the show. I think of Jodi whenever I refer to my brood of kids as "chillren" ('Quilters' joke, sorry). Whenever I hear 'show-biz' people dismissed as crazy or egotistical or backstabbing or whatever, I think about all the people I know like Jodi who are just, like, normal and friendly and personable. Frankly, I've met more people in the computer biz who were whack-jobs than in the theater biz. And they couldn't carry a tune, either.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Richmond Marquee

If you are on Robyn’s list, you have already heard about Lisa Kotula’s new project, “Richmond Marquee,” a tabloid-size monthly that she has been working on with admirable commitment and perseverance. This is an ambitious project but one that I hope and expect will be successful. She’s enlisted "the nicest guy on the planet” Joe Inscoe for some help with graphics and many of the local theaters seem to be playing along, so here’s hoping things continue to roll along well.

For those of you who haven’t heard all the details, I’ve included them below. And below that is Lisa’s contact info; if you want to help out, I’m sure Lisa could use assistance.

“Richmond Marquee” will celebrate accomplishments, highlight opportunities, lament losses and showcase news that is specific to the theater community in the form of a monthly publication (with hopes of moving quickly to bi-weekly and eventually weekly). Subscribers will be given the option of receiving time-sensitive e-newsletters between issues (so no one misses an audition). "Richmond Marquee" will provide a forum for collaborations of ideas and submissions of opinions. It will highlight what to see and where to see it; and allot more than a quarter page of space to do so. It will be supported through individual subscriptions and ad sales. The projected accompanying website will provide a page for actors to post headshots and bios.

Included will be:
· A section called “On the Boards” – effectively, the theater calendar of ongoing productions
· A section called “I Hope I Get It” – listings of upcoming auditions submitted by various local theaters, professional and community
· A section called “Lights Up!” – highlights of productions opening soon
· A section called “Footlights and Footnotes” – stories about actors, theaters, local news that directly affects US
· A section called “Cue the Spotlight…” – profiles of various members of the theater community
· Occasionally, an opinion page – letters to and from the editor
· The “Call Board” – individual classified ads
· Space for purchased weekly display ads – theaters, individuals, related businesses

It will not contain theater reviews. It is intended to be a tool for working the local theater scene – one that uplifts the individual parts and celebrates accomplishments, encourages individual ambitions.

Subscription info:
3 mo-$6.00
6 mo - $12.00

Subscriptions for longer than that are not being offered because of the possibility of changing the frequency of the publication. When it changes, the subscription rates will be adjusted. Also, anyone who pre-orders a subscription prior to November 1st (Premiere date), will receive the Premiere Issue in the mail free of charge in addition to their subscription term.

Lisa Kotula
Managing Editor
Richmond Marquee
(804) 272-2688

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Beneficial "Wife"

Well, after much wrangling of schedules, it looks like the folks at the
Firehouse have been able to find a night for a special performance of "I Am
My Own Wife," mostly to accommodate other theater artists who can't make the
regularly scheduled shows. Mr. Wichmann will work his magic on Tuesday, Oct.
10th at 8pm (at the Firehouse, of course) and the proceeds from the
performance will benefit the RAPT Theatre Artists Fund. Tickets for RAPTers
will be $10. If you've been frustrated because you haven't been able to see
Scotty shine, here's your chance!

In other benefit news, I received confirmation a couple of days ago that the
Commonwealth Coalition benefit will indeed be happening on Sunday, October
15th at the Barksdale. Wine and refreshments will be available beginning at
6:30 p.m., followed by a 7:30 curtain time. According to Kimberly Jones
Clark: "The show will feature diverse talents from many facets of arts and
theater in the Richmond community."

The show will feature vignettes from various Richmond-area productions and
will provide an eclectic experience as these artists come together in
support of The Commonwealth Coalition. Just as a reminder: this is the
organization that is working to defeat the Marshall/Newman Amendment or
so-called "marriage amendment." Please plan to come, join in the fun and
support this effort.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

“Wife” Full Text and Sycamore Scary Stuff

Well, for some reason my “I Am My Own Wife” review is not on the Style website today, though it is in the magazine (really, honest it is!). For those who only peruse Style online, I’ve included the full text below.

But first, here’s a little announcement on behalf of Sycamore Rouge in Petersburg for all you theatrical folks who really get into the Halloween spirit (for more info, call Jonathan Elliot):

“We're looking for creative individuals with a sense of humor, mirth, and enjoyment of the Halloween spirit to help transform Sycamore Rouge into the ultimate haunted house. If you're ghoulishly talented at fiendishly decorating your own home every October, we invite you to use Sycamore Rouge's twelve thousand square foot facility as your canvas this year! We'll be hosting a brainstorming session at Sycamore Rouge this Sunday, October 1, from 1 to 3 pm. Light refreshments will be served, as we wander the dark corners of the facilities and plan all sorts of fun, spooky, and scary happenings.

The Haunted House will run from October 26-31, and will be available in two versions: "Kiddie"(ooooh! This spaghetti is really BRAINS!!!!) and "Adult"(masked men with chainsaws jumping out from dark corners). We need actors, designers, planners, hosts, builders for both versions--whether you want to be a kooky witch or design the perfect fright, we'd love to have your help!

If interested, please RSVP by responding to this email, or call Jonathan Elliott, Sycamore Rouge managing director, at (804) 957-5707, ext. 104.”

OK, and now here’s the review:

Wonder “Wife”
Portraying 35 characters, Wichmann is a one-man wonder in the Firehouse’s “I Am My Own Wife”
By David Timberline (409 words)

The first time Scott Wichmann changes character in the mesmerizing one-man show “I Am My Own Wife,” now playing at the Firehouse Theatre, the effect is as dramatic as a slap in the face. The remarkable actor does such an astounding job at embodying the aging, fussy, and slightly fey German transvestite Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf that it feels like waking up from a spell when he suddenly transforms into a very masculine American journalist about a dozen minutes into the play. But this is only the first of countless captivating moments as Wichmann goes on to portray 34 additional characters in order to tell the story of Von Mahlsdorf’s complex and seemingly impossible life.

Born Lothar Berfelde in 1928, Von Mahlsdorf discovered her predilection for girl’s clothes as a boy living in Berlin. It was her misfortune to live under two of the most repressive regimes of history, the Nazis and the Communists of East Germany, and yet somehow she survived, all the time pursuing an abiding love for antique furniture, clocks, and phonographs. Her dramatic story includes a stint in a German youth prison, close calls with soldiers during the fall of Berlin, and the clandestine support of the city’s underground gay movement. But how much of it is true? Playwright Doug Wright confronts this question by making himself a character in the show and portraying the creative crisis he faced when aspects of Charlotte’s account seemed to conflict with the facts.

It is breathtaking to watch Wichmann switch between characters, each drawn with impeccable clarity. But Charlotte is his masterpiece. Speaking in a hypnotic sing-songy lilt and armed with a knowing smile that is warm but also a bit sly, the actor makes Von Mahlsdorf empathetic, compelling and maddeningly elusive. Director Morrie Piersol supports Wichmann with occasionally inspired blocking and key lighting and sound effects (lighting design by Michael Mauren, sound by Ryan Corbett and Trey Pollard).

The show is not perfect; the “play about writing a play” conceit is a little too self-conscious and does not quite pay off in terms of dramatic tension. Edwin Slipek Jr.’s scenic design is dominated by the simple beauty of a few pieces of antique furniture but they contrast jarringly with an indistinct, angular backdrop (a map of Berlin, perhaps?) Still, fueled by Wichmann’s bravura performance and capped off by one last treat as you walk out of the theater, this is a production that shouldn’t be missed.

“I Am My Own Wife” runs Thursday – Saturday nights at 8pm, with Sunday matinees at 4pm, through October 7th at the Firehouse Theatre, 1609 W. Broad Street. Tickets are $10-20 and can be purchased by calling 355-2001.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My Hope and Dream

A shout-out to Chris Bopst who was kind enough to post a pro-Brick comment in response to my not-so-pro rant below. I appreciate your insight, Chris, and as I hope I implied clearly enough, I’ve always been fond of Pete’s sense of humor (and yours too! Glad to see you in print again within the pages of Brick.) It’s good to hear that Media General isn’t planning to be a controlling patron, though I’m still a bit wary since, in one somewhat paranoid view, Brick’s ultimate goal would be to dilute (at least) or completely capture (at most) Style’s audience. Since I don’t praise my pals at Style that frequently, I'll take this opportunity to point out that one thing it does better than anyone in town is report on the Times-Dispatch. And, given the recent changes at the T-D, it’s a story that deserves some exposure.

My hope and dream, when I first heard about Brick, was that it might be able to give some coverage (finally) to the college theater scene and some of the more fringey theater stuff that happens here. I (and by extension, Style) can barely cover the mainline companies in town and have basically abandoned even a couple of the second-tiers (sorry, RTP and CAT). My fear with Brick is that it’ll end up covering a lot of the same ground that the T-D and Style (and Entertainment Weekly and a half-dozen other regional and national publications) already have pretty thoroughly shellacked, i.e., movies and TV and music. I hope that Pete can find someone that can cover the theater beat and, while I’m mentioning it, I should say that Style could also use someone to assist in theater coverage. If anyone else out there has some interest, E-mail me and I’ll pass your credentials up the line at the home office.

Oh, and I am still withholding any final judgment on Brick. I’ll still pick it up and read it over and ponder Free Will Astrology, if nothing else. And clearly, I’m not shy about giving it free publicity on my blog (for whatever that's worth!)

The World on a String

Tuesday night Barksdale’s Cabaret series kicks off and finally true fans will have a chance to hear the unique stylings of Julie Fulcher on the drums as she performs some old standards in an intimate setting. For some reason, Barksdale has chosen to highlight the singer associated with this show (a chick named Debra – like she’s ever done anything in this town…). But me, I’m going for the drums.

Of course, if you have read my review of Ms. Wagoner’s CD (scroll to the bottom), you know that I kid because I love. Debra has always been a spectacular vocalist and a personal favorite of mine. The opportunity to hear just her sing for an evening is a supreme treat. And just for the record, Julie is no slouch on the drums either and a pretty darn good singer/actress herself.

There will be a blurb in Style on the Cabaret series but not until next Wednesday, unfortunately. In the meantime, I hope the piece in the T-D helps generate a significant audience for this show. Tell your friends!

Also, since I relish any opportunity I can find to praise my wife in a public forum, here’s an anecdote from ancient history: fourteen years ago (yikes!), Holly and I traveled to Australia on our delayed honeymoon. We did a scuba diving excursion there and, when it was over, a bunch of folks went to an Aussie nightclub that was having a karaoke contest. With a little encouragement of the alcoholic kind, Holly entered and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Due mostly to the wildly enthusiastic response of our fellow scuba divers, she ended up winning second place, nearly beating out the local favorite. So, long before Katherine McPhee, Harold Arlen was helping beautiful brunettes come in second place in competitive singing events...

Monday, September 25, 2006

More Media

Amy notes in a comment to Saturday’s post that someone from Brick took pictures at “Sordid Lives;” one can only hope this means there will be some theater coverage in the new weekly. I caught John Porter’s rave on “Sordid Lives” on the radio some time over the weekend. Does anyone know if there’s a schedule to when his reviews are played?

A brief aside appropo of nothing: Part of Mr. Porter’s commentary mentioned last season’s “Southern Baptist Sissies” at RTP. I happened to speak to him a few days after he saw that show and he had many positive things to say about it. Earlier that same day, I spoke to someone else whose opinion I also respect who said the production was “on the level of bad community theater.” Having not seen the show, I didn’t know how to respond to either of them. As much as I love to have an opinion about things, sometimes I’m kind of forced not to.

I have to give a (reluctant) nod to the T-D for all of its theater coverage on Sunday, with a front-pager on Scott/”IAMOW”, an announcement (a bit late perhaps) of the Richmond Shakespeare indoor season/name change, and even a little piece on Debra’s Cabaret show at the Barksdale. Maybe they ARE trying?

Ms. Haubenstock’s review of “The Constant Wife” was apparently somewhere in the Sunday paper, but I had more luck finding it online than in print. It is an intriguing review: it’s certainly positive but it stops short of a rave. It also has at least one interesting turn of phrase: “larded with witticisms.” Never heard that one before.

And finally, a minor vent: one of the frustrations of writing for a weekly is having a review wrapped up a full 10 days before it gets into print. By the time my review of “IAMOW” shows up on Wednesday, just about everyone (except Brick) will have weighed in on Scott’s performance, making me old news. Oh, the sad life of theater reviewer…

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Just have a second but wanted to correct myself: I got the word this morning that Bruce Miller took over from Steve at the helm of "The Constant Wife" so I was off the mark with that "director directing himself" comment. It's hard to keep up with things around here! Thanks for keeping me honest, Jackie.

Also, picked up this past week's Brick. Its direction hasn't changed: still no theater. Fewer chuckles, as well.

Happy holidays and happy Fall (my favorite season)!

The Constant Wife

Sorry to be late getting this post um, you know, posted. Ironically enough, I'm late at least in part because my (not-so-constant) wife is out of town on a birthday trip with our eldest, leaving me to hold down the fort. Fort has not floated away yet but the weekend is young.

I've heard this play compared to an Aaron Sorkin TV show, which is also a bit ironic given my recent mention of Studio 60 on Sunset Strip. Which, because it's late and my mind wanders, reminds me that there was an episode of Picket Fences that I saw years ago while I was traveling -- it was totally out of context because I never really watched the show -- that featured just four of the show's characters and it was so tightly plotted and the dialogue was so great and it all took place in one house in two rooms that I thought it would have made a killer play. But I never found out what the name of the specific episode was so I guess that's one piece of potential theater lost for the ages.

Anyway, did you know that W. Somerset Maugham wrote more than 20 plays between 1907 and 1933, and at one point had four running simultaneously in London? But that he turned away from theater after the 1933 flop Sheppey, and although he lived until 1965, he never lifted his pen as a playwright again. What a shame.

This play ran on Broadway last year and from what I remember, got fair to pretty good reviews. I'm not sure why it only ran for three months. The Richmond production is getting a somewhat last minute addition of Steve Perigard to the cast. I have never witnessed the process of a director directing himself as an actor. It seems to be the kind of thing that could make you schizophrenic. Or something. Is it really 1am? Man, gotta go to bed. Night, night, Richmond.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


For the past several days I’ve been meaning to mention ‘Brick,’ or, as I like to call it: ‘Punchline Plus’ – the plus of course being the corporate backing of Media General and all of the money that implies. If you hadn’t heard, this magazine is the new “alternative” weekly that hit the streets a couple of weeks ago. My reaction to it so far has varied between tepid appreciation and distinct disappointment.

- Cartoons. I love Tom Tomorrow and Ted Rall, in particular.
- Snarky side comments. Editor-in-chief/Punchline vet Peter Humes has a nice way with the funny aside and will stick one just about anywhere. Tucked at the bottom of last week’s banner: “Once you are finished reading Brick, you may choose to create funny hats or origami swans.”
- Interesting interviews. In last week’s edition, I enjoyed the interview with VCU History Prof. Emilie Raymond on Charton Heston, a fave of mine since “Bowling for Columbine.”

- Bashing of Style (and all other weeklies). I know I write for Style but even so, I am very well aware of some of Style’s limitations and problems. So I welcome a new free weekly as much as the next guy. But Brick printing a letter that fawns all over the new mag (after only one issue) and says, “finally a REAL weekly publication for Richmond” is a slam against all sorts of people, not to mention people who could actually end up big Brick fans. Is it really necessary to “go negative” so early in the game?
- Disingenuousness at who they are. “Richmond’s PLUCKY weekly”? How plucky are they going to be with a $900 million corporation behind them?
- No website. Yet? Ever?
- Not quite as funny as they think they are. I laugh out loud at Jon Stewart and The Onion and this particularly hilarious post from Eliza Skinner. I chuckled a couple of times reading through Brick.

And of course, my biggest peeve about Brick is NO THEATER! What’s up with that? Granted, I haven’t seen this week’s issue so maybe this point is already moot, but in the two issues I’ve seen there’s no mention of live theater, no calendar of shows, nada. Instead, we get articles on Zach Branff and “The Wire.” That’s plucky?

Theater is an integral part of this town from Theatre-VCU to Theatre IV’s kid’s shows to Bifocals Theater Company. You aren’t covering Richmond, Brick, if you aren’t covering theater.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The universe at work

Literally within two hours of me putting up my post on the Marriage Amendment (technically, the Marshall/Newman Amendment), I heard word that there is going to be a fundraiser at the Barksdale Theatre in support of the Commmonwealth Coalition on Sunday, October 15th at 7pm (To be clear: this is NOT an event hosted or sponsored by the Barksdale Theatre or Theatre IV; they are simply renting out the space).

This is one of the main organizations fighting the Amendment. PLEASE mark this date on your calendar and plan to come. I think some of the finer details are still being put in place but, from what I've heard already, it's going to be an awesome time in support of a great cause (with several theater-type folks involved). For more info. on the Coalition, you can check out this website.

Sordid Lives

So this is not meant to be a political kind of site. There’re plenty of those around so there’s no need for me to add my rants to the general maelstrom. But I guess all politics (or any of the politics that matters) is personal and this Marriage Amendment thing hits me close to home and has got me pretty peeved. It offends me for two reasons:

1. It has the potential to cause real harm to people I love (or at the very least, cause them additional legal fees or anxiety over how current legal arrangements are set up) and it benefits ABSOLUTELY NO ONE.

2. It deliberately writes prejudice into the Virginia Constitution, which is bad public policy at the least and an affront to American values at the most. I spent several hours over this past summer studying Thomas Jefferson for a paper I had to do for school and, his somewhat compromised stand on slavery notwithstanding, I have to think this is the kind of thing that, beyond causing him to spin in his grave, might compel him to actual rise up from the ground and cause physical injury to several prominent Virginia politicians.

If you care at all about the psychic state of the world, please vote against this amendment and call all of your friends and neighbors and encourage them to vote against it as well. Thank you.

By the way, I don’t really know anything about the play “Sordid Lives” that RTP is opening tonight but I expect it’ll be a a hoot, particularly with folks like Amy Berlin and Jennifer Frank in it. Though it’s a farce, the title got me thinking about how so many people, ranging from ill informed to criminally ignorant, think that homosexuals by default lead sordid lives. Yeah, all of those middle-aged gay mothers and fathers I know are leaving the kids at home to play with Drano while they go cruise the public toilets. Get real.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Reviews, Resources, Reading

OK, I promise that all my posts are not going to be so alliterative.

First, my review of “I Am My Own Wife” will be in Style next Wednesday. Guess they couldn’t squeeze it in by the deadline this week. Sorry about that. Rest assured, I liked it a lot and have already started urging friends, relatives and strangers on the street to go see it. Scott W. has the Times-Dispatch review on his website.

Here’s a mini-review: I thought last night’s premiere episode of Aaron Sorkin’s new TV show, “Studio 60 on Sunset Strip,” was pretty excellent. What’s that got to do with theater? Part of what’s cool about the show is the view into what happens backstage. I think people are always fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes (part of the appeal of the movie “Prairie Home Companion” over the summer); I know I am. I don’t know if the show will remain interesting over the long-haul but the premiere was pretty compelling. There's already a blog about it if you are interested.

I’ve added links in the “All in this together” section to the Virginia Actor’s Forum and to the Richmond VA Theater websites. I’m particularly fond of the RVA Theater's calendar. It’s not all the way complete (Triangle Players?) but I love seeing the shows laid out on a calendar. Well done!

Also, if you want some interesting reading, it’s worth checking out once in a while. I liked the recap of the British reality show that culminated in the selection of a new Maria for London production of "The Sound of Music" as well as the interview with Eric Bogosian. The production of his “subUrbia” (directed by Rick St. Peter) was one of the most bracing and intriguing shows I’ve seen in Richmond.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Coffee, conversation canceled

There has been some facilities-related problem at the Barksdale at Willow Lawn that forces the cancellation of their “Coffee and Conversation” session that was scheduled for tomorrow (Tues., Sept. 19th) at 9am. The wonderful Judi C. apologizes for any inconveniences or disappointments this may cause.

All of the future sessions are planned to go on as scheduled. Judi says there has been upwards of 100 people attending! Gosh, if only there were some interest in theater in this town… (can you feel the sarcasm?)

Unwrap Your Candy

I think some people don’t get “reader’s theater.” I know I didn’t understand it until I was a sophomore in college. One weekend on a whim, some friends of mine and I started reading “Waiting for Godot” aloud together. I can neither confirm not deny any of the circumstances or substances that were involved leading us to take up this activity. Though I had read “Godot” in high school, I hadn’t seen a production and it wasn’t until I heard the words spoken that I realized just how hilarious (and peculiar and intriguing) a show it was. Years later, my lovely wife did a reader’s theater production of “Dancing at Lughnasa” that was downright transcendent.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that “Unwrap Your Candy” at the Firehouse tomorrow night (Tues., Sept. 19 at 7:00pm, admission $5), with its great cast including Jackie Jones, Jacquie O'Connor and Granville Scott, should be an excellent introduction to this format if you haven’t been exposed to it before. And if you have seen, or plan to see “I Am My Own Wife,” it’ll serve as a nice compliment. My former brother-in-arms Mr. Proctor is directing, adding another layer of interest to the show. If you’ve been critiqued by Roy before, go to the show and you can enjoy some time on the other side of the fence. Post YOUR review of him right here!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Gotta have faith

Too many choices tonight. There’s the preview of the third annual Acts of Faith Festival starting at 7pm at Second Pres. downtown on Fifth Street. A good excuse to check out the indoor digs for Richmond Shakespeare as well as find out what interesting theater might be in store for us during the cold winter months. Interestingly enough, American Theatre magazine just happens to have an article called “Articles of Faith” in the latest issue, talking about Christian theater. (Here’s a link to the blurb – for the whole article, you gotta get the print edition.)

I’ll be attending “I Am My Own Wife” but also trying to squeeze in a swing by the Anderson Gallery for the opening of the “Artificial Light” exhibit which also starts at 7pm. Pretty regularly these days the Anderson is coming up with unique installations that capture the imagination of even a visual arts novice like myself. In everything I’ve read about this one, it just sounds really cool.

Y’all have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


First off, my review of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" showed up in this week's Style. It's only a few hundred words but I hope it conveys my enjoyment of the show, which was considerable.

Second off, even though I thought I had scanned everywhere I could scan to find the review of "The Mousetrap" in Sunday's paper (and Saturday's and Monday's), it showed up when I searched the website, I think in the "Area/State" section. Great example of how well the T-D is covering the arts. I had to read between the lines here a little bit, but I don't think Ms. Haubenstock particularly appreciated the production. What do you think?

And third off, I appreciate Joe Pabst's post with a brief recap of the T-D roundtable meeting. I wish I could have been there (girls had a field hockey game). It sounds like it was a bit frustrating. Though they invited the input, they seemed a bit defensive about getting it. I find the comment about a Visual Arts critic to be absolutely confounding. If people don't want to read about it, why have they invited Roy Proctor back at least twice in the past month to write above-the-fold stories about visual art??? Richmond is a nationally recognized visual art center, what with the VMA and VCU's various programs. It's a big part of what's happening here -- isn't that what they are supposed to be reporting on, what's happening?

The comment on selling papers points to the heart of their coverage. If they perceive it doesn't "sell," they aren't going to cover it. Of course, the reality of the burgeoning theater scene here doesn't register on that radar and so I guess they won't be covering that. Duh!

I Am My Own Wife

I read some very interesting background on this play but I can't remember exactly where. What I do remember is that Doug Wright initially just wanted Charlotte to be a sympathetic figure. Her story was so amazing and she seemed so noble. He also became a good friend of hers while researching the story, so at first he really just wanted to lay out the events of her life.

But while he was still early in development, maybe when he was workshopping the play with Moises Kaufman, these maddening inconsistencies kept coming up and Charlotte I guess was not exactly forthcoming with details (whether out of forgetfulness or out of shame or maybe because the accusations against her were false, he never could tell...). So the result is an inspiring but elusive character who is much more intriguing. I gotta say, I can't wait to see Scott dig into this one!

(And PS: if I have any of this wrong, Scott, if you are out there reading, feel free to correct me!)

(And PPS: How did the forum go last night? Anybody willing to post their thoughts?)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More linkability

I have been meaning to add Sycamore Rouge to the “Producers” list for quite some time. Maybe I’ve been avoiding it since reading about the burlesque show they’ve been doing. There’s just something unseemly about a middle-aged guy being TOO interested in burlesque. But they are doing some interesting things down there in Petersburg and I’m looking forward to checking out a show down there soon. I’ll definitely be there for “Lee’s Miserables” if not something sooner.

I’ve also added the first student link to the “Show People” section. It’d be great if it ends up being the first of many. The young and talented Caroline Sumner is a student at VCU focusing on acting and whom you may have seen in “Follies” this past summer at Dogwood Dell. She also has an exciting project in progress that I hope to be able to report more on early next year. Tune into her blog for tidbits of college life. Could make you envious…or could make you thankful you left college behind however many years ago…

Also, on the recommendation of Jackie J., I am adding Blair Underwood to "Expat" section. I haven't checked with him first so I hope he doesn't mind. This is one of the slickest websites I've ever seen. Mr. Underwood's clips reel is incredibly well-produced with a dramatic development all its own, dramatic parts, action parts, and parts where he takes his shirt off. One thing that you won't read about on the site is that he's signed on for a story arc on the TV show, "The New Adventures of Old Christine." Sure seems like Blair is doing Virginia proud.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Go and talk!

Tomorrow is the roundtable at the Richmond Times Dispatch and I encourage anyone who is reading this right now to attend. As you probably know, I write for Style. So by all rights I should just tell you all to kick the T-D to the curb and just read Style, which has superior arts columnists and is simply more fun to read. But the truth is Style -- being an independent weekly -- doesn't have the immediacy, the resources, or the reach the T-D has and it never will.

One of the main reasons I got into the critic thing was because I support the arts, I love theater and I admire the many talented people who devote their lives to entertaining and challenging people through the arts. Those people -- you people -- deserve first rate arts coverage and I think the only way you are going to get it is to let the T-D know how important you think it is. Richmond has great potential -- but it's had great potential for years and yet it still plays second fiddle to the other burgeoning mid-sized cities across the country, your Raleighs and Cincinnatis and even your Louisville/Lexingtons.

The arts are the key to unlocking Richmond's potential. But they have got to get the support from the press to make it happen. The roundtable may be the best way to lobby for that support. Here's the vitals on the roundtable:

Tuesday, September 12th from 7 – 8:30 pm.
The Roundtable will be held at the Times-Dispatch downtown offices, 300 East Franklin Street in Richmond.
Parking is available in the RTD garage.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Back to the Past

Blogging has so many great elements to it, among them the opportunity to “converse” with people about a wide variety of things without having to actually be face-to-face. But a downside is that someone may chime in on a “conversation” that took place a while back and, unless everyone is regularly cycling back to check old entries, no one else may be aware of that person’s contribution.

To rectify that at least a little, I draw your attention to a recent comment by Amy Berlin on a production that took place at Chamberlayne Actors Theatre a couple of months ago. I’m so glad you took the time to comment, Amy, and I hope you will do so again in the future. I had no idea what all went in to “Epic Proportions” and had nothing to judge the production by except the T-D review. I really appreciate that you put a dissenting opinion out there and I encourage anyone else to do the same about a review of any current or past production, whether it’s a T-D review or even one of mine. Though I don’t think I’ve gone as acerbic as Ms. Haubenstock went in that review in a long time. But who knows…I hear that “Aida” is actually pretty bad so maybe I’ll have a chance to sharpen my poison pen when that show comes to town…

The Mousetrap

The big news about Barksdale’s “The Mousetrap” has been the speed with which tickets have sold to this production. The run was extended weeks before the show even opened. It’s a great thing that these shows are drawing so well at Hanover Tavern. It speaks to the ongoing hunger in Richmonders for quality live theater. And hopefully it will help Theatre IV/Barksdale build and sustain itself so that it can continue to expand its offerings. I don’t know if I’m alone in this but I really miss the Theatre Gym series and would love to see that revived.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Soon to be expat?

If you check out Scott Wichmann's site, he talks about him and Jen contemplating moving away (again)...Can't somebody please find some long-running, well-paying gig that would keep these guys in town? Isn't there a furniture maker or grocery store or health care company that needs a regular spokesperson? Little help, people!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bonus #2 (Turns out not to be...)

Update (09/07/06): What a difference a day makes...I went out and actually picked up a Style and saw that all four theater bits were actually published. They just didn't all make it to the Style website for some reason. Oops -- call me stupid. Just goes to show you should never trust the Internet...that is, except for MY site...except, of course, when I make a mistake...
If you check out Style Weekly this week (and I heartily suggest you do!), you’ll see that the Fall Arts cover story has three little bits about upcoming theater this fall, written by yours truly.

What you wouldn’t know -- unless you read this blog! -- is that there was actually supposed to be 4 items on theater. The fourth was a blurb that I presume was pulled because of space but also probably skirts just on the edge of propriety. Here it is for your enjoyment:

“Night of the Undead!

An unlikely cultural icon, he disappeared into New York’s East River under mysterious circumstances. Now, two years later – he lives! Just when you thought the world was safe from the bizarre, slice-of-life monologues of Spalding Gray, he emerges to ramble on. In “Leftover Stories to Tell,” a one-night tribute at the Firehouse Theatre (Oct. 1), the suicidal actor/storyteller is reanimated with the blood of celebrity guest performers. Funny, poignant, ribald – these leftovers are guaranteed to haunt you long after you leave the theater.”

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Blog Reader Bonus!

I saw “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at the Mill on Saturday – truly a delightful night of theater. The show is a great mix of sketches that run the gamut from silly to serious. Maybe it’s a sign of my advancing age but, even though the slapstick-like skits were funny, the scenes that mixed in slices of reality worked the best for me. The tentative awkwardness of “The Lasagna Incident” and the more brazen awkwardness of the final funeral home scene were my two favorites.

And what a cast! Simply fantastic. Rather than repeat myself, here’s a special preview for you loyal blog readers of the review which will run in Style sometime, probably next week. As the whole review is less than 300 words, this represents more than one-third of the whole thing:

“Can you explore every aspect of male-female interactions in the course of a two-hour stage musical? Not really, but as demonstrated by Swift Creek Mill Theatre’s “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” you can have a rollicking good time trying. Starting with first date jitters and ending with picking up dates at funeral homes, this show uses every stage in the progression of a relationship as a launching point for sketches that are often hilarious, occasionally poignant and always insightful. Thanks to a winning cast of four accomplished stage vets, this is one of those rare shows that you wish would never end.”

Monday, September 04, 2006

Expat #2

Chris Harcum left Richmond many years ago, but I still remember his awesome one-man show, "Some Kind of Pink Breakfast." I saw it in the performance space above what used to be the Main Street Grill. It was one of those transformative moments in theater for me because it was the first time I saw how one person performing on a somewhat ramshackle stage using little more than their voice, face and body could produce something magical. His "Breakfast" still ranks up there with Scott Wichmann's "Jails, Hospitals, and Hip-Hop" and Jill Bari Steinberg's "The Syringa Tree" as the best one-person shows I've ever seen.

Chris has received some great notices on "Breakfast" since and just performed it at the NYC Fringe Festival. Please send hopes for continued good luck to Chris from Richmond!

Friday, September 01, 2006


I’ve been contemplating this for a while, probably since I read about Foster Solomon and Susan Sanford moving out of town. There are a number of theater folks who grew up in Richmond or started their professional theater careers here and then moved on to other places. I’ve either come across or dredged up the websites of a few of these folks. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it interesting to see what others from here are finding in bigger (and presumably better) towns. (It can’t be just me, because the T-D runs a “where they are now” type piece every once in a while. So maybe it’s just me and an editor at the T-D…)

Anyway, I’m checking with these folks to see if they mind me linking to them. As I get confirmation, I’ll post links in the “Expatriates” section over there on the left. Kicking off this new section is Eliza Skinner, little sister of Tony-nominee Emily Skinner and a very busy actress/singer/writer/improv comedian. I spent many delightful hours in the dark with Eliza – no it’s not what you think! We ran props together for a production of “Quilters” at Theater IV about a billion years ago. She was a hip and precociously funny and sarcastic teenager back then and, if I remember correctly, I was a newlywed. Her website is a hoot and has links to Eliza’s many other activities and involvements. Check it out!

More expats will be popping up as I can get their links up. And if there’s anyone else out there that you know of that you think would be a good link, please let me know.