Oct 312007
 

Just an FYI to my CoH playing friends – I’ve reactivated my account.  Not really planning on playing it all that much, to be honest.  I only did so because I wanted to let A. run around with J. in game for a few hours and wasn’t going to waste it re-activating his account.

So I might be in game a bit.  Who knows?

Global Chat is @Gangbustah

Oct 272007
 

Yes, I am lame.

I really wanted to go to the party, but when faced with the prospect of having to drive home 40 minutes on top of Guavaeen traffic and the knowledge that we have a matinee tomorrow, I just didn’t have the gumption to make it.

I suck.

Hope you all had a blast.

One of the many signs that my 35th birthday is in just over a week. Heh.

Oct 242007
 

A Bit Too Gorey : A little goes a long way in these macabre, if well-performed, tales. Mark Leib (Creative Loafing.  October 24th, 2007)

 

The best moment of Gorey Stories is its very first, when the lights come up on one of the most visually stunning group of creeps ever to wander onto a Tampa Bay area stage. Nine ghoulish humans, all dressed in elaborate, black-and-white 19th-century outfits out of Kipling by way of Poe, stare out at us from their whited faces with the bemused expressions of aliens suddenly beamed down onto an unknown planet.

On Brian Smallheer’s spooky gray set, these ghostly creatures, brilliantly costumed by Katrina Stevenson, are more than characters about to inhabit a play: They’re a work of art themselves, a mesmerizing, tantalizing visual experience, the likes of which Bay area theater, with its incessant realism, has seldom — perhaps never before — offered.

So even before the first word is spoken, we’re prepared for something special. Jobsite Theater has over the last few years become one of the most exciting, innovative companies anywhere in Florida. Is Gorey Stories going to take its artists — and us — to yet another height?

Then the play begins — and for 20 minutes or so we’re delighted. The macabre Edward Gorey tales that it illustrates — about murder, kidnapping, enslavement and other agonies — are funny in their hyper-gloomy way, so fraught with distress, pain and woe that we have to laugh as people do in really good haunted houses. Healthy minds don’t dwell on morbid subjects, right? But here’s Gorey and his pack of sufferers to tell us that the world is a torture chamber with a cemetery out back, that most lives end badly, that little Charlotte Sofia was just run over by her father, who didn’t recognize her and drove away. Macabre, yes, but fun — for about 20 minutes.

And then it starts to repeat itself.

No, it’s not that we see the same tale over and over; the problem is the subtext, the implied message about human reality. Gorey’s stories, as they first appeared decades ago in the New Yorker and elsewhere, were always uncomfortably enjoyable for a good three or four minutes, and then you could move on to that serious profile of Willy Brandt. But now we’re asked to sit in the Shimberg Playhouse for almost two hours, to watch 18 or so anecdotes, one after the other, with virtually no character development, just one improbably dreadful plot after the next.

And what was at first fresh and entertaining becomes more than a little tedious. “The Wuggly Ump” was fun at the start: “How uninviting areits claws!/ And even more so are its jaws.” But by the time of “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” — “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs/ B is for Basil assaulted by bears” — we’ve gotten the joke, more times than we can remember. Even the fine acting of the nine-member crew, and the splendid direction by David M. Jenkins, can’t rescue us from the feeling that we’re running in place.

Some of the sketches are more memorable than others, of course. For example: “The Hapless Child,” in which Summer Bohnenkamp-Jenkins plays Charlotte Sophia, whose parents die young, and who is placed in a school “where she was punished for things she hadn’t done.” She escapes this unjust institution only to be sold to “a drunken brute” who feeds her scraps and tap water. Charlotte nearly goes blind and, after her captor dies, runs into the street and is killed by a car. Sound dismal? Yes and no: All these tales are narrated tongue-in-cheek, with silly, exaggerated poses by both the victims and the perps. And in fact, Bohnenkamp-Jenkins is hilarious as Charlotte Sophia, wearing an eloquent frown from misfortune to misfortune and making it plain all the while that she’s not in any real distress. What’s true of “The Hapless Child” is true also of all the other sketches — it’s cleverly stylized and, in itself, a success. The problem, once again, isn’t quality but quantity.

And then there’s the most uncharacteristic of the stories, “The Curious Sofa.” This is Gorey’s take on old-fashioned pornography, and it’s ridiculously suggestive without ever becoming explicit. The heroine this time is Alice, who’s led by a series of strangers to engage in sexual acts repeatedly represented by euphemisms (and shown in silhouette behind a screen). So in a taxi cab “they did something Alice had never done before” and then Lady Celia “requested the girl to perform a rather surprising service.” Alice is helped to bed by a French maid “whom she found delightfully sympathetic” and next morning is “wakened in a novel fashion.” Meanwhile, we keep meeting men who are “extremely well-endowed,” “unusually well-formed” and “exceptionally well-made.” The star of this segment is Michael C. McGreevy who, as Albert the Butler, seems to have walked into the play from some Hall of Victorian Smut, and who apparently knows better than anyone that depravity is serious business. But Katrina Stevenson is very funny as Lady Celia, and if we never quite figure out what “terrible thing” Gerald did with a saucepan, it’s still refreshing to watch a Gorey tale that’s not ultimately about mortality.

There are other outstanding performers (and sketches): Jason Evans does a fine job as the easily distracted novelist C. F. Earbrass, and Steve Garland is superb as opera fan (and asylum escapee) Jasper Ankle. The other actors — Roz Potenza, Jaime Giangrande-Holcom, David J. Valdez and Spencer Meyers — all turn in topnotch work, and the three-piece band, consisting of piano, cello and flute, is about as professional as one could want. There’s also some admirable, if not terribly relevant, singing.

But when playwright Stephen Currens decided to adapt Gorey’s stories for the stage, he must not have realized that, at the core, they were mostly the same: tales of mayhem and star-crossed destiny taken to a ludicrous extreme. The challenge, then, was to keep us interested in this subject for almost two hours. Unfortunately, this challenge wasn’t met.

Overall, Gorey Stories, for all its surface inventiveness is … boring.

 

Yet again, Mark likes everything but the play itself.  Heh.  This guy is hard to please.  Still, I don’t personally see this as a bad review.  I think those who would find two hours of “delicious darkness” could be interested after reading this review. 

And I have to admit….The bit he said about me is 100% pure awesome. 

Depravity IS serious business.  For reals, yo.

I’m just wondering if he’s writing about the character or me?

Oct 242007
 

Production Both Clever And Creepy, Marty Clear (The St. Petersburg Times.  October 24th, 2007)

 

TAMPA – It’s hard to call a singularly monochromatic stage production colorful. But it’s hard to call Gorey Stories anything else.

Jobsite Theater has stripped away any hint of color from its stage design for this anthology of works by Edward Gorey, an author of wry, macabre stories, poems and songs and an illustrator of unsettling pen-and-ink scenes. He’s probably best known for his artwork at the opening of the PBS series Mystery.

The production at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center is amply amusing, full of Gorey’s dry wit and benignly disturbing characterizations. But by far the most striking elements are visual.

Katrina Stevenson’s lush pseudo-Victorian costumes are in black, white, gray and silver. Brian Smallheer’s set – “painted” with felt-tip pens – is gray and black, with slightly off-kilter patterns. The actors are in white-face with black accents, and their hair is glistening white or pitch black.

The effect is ghastly, humorous and strangely beautiful. It’s a collision of Dr. Seuss, Charles Addams and Edvard Munch. Combine that look with Gorey’s morbid but jaunty stories, verse and songs, and you end up with a memorable theater experience.

The idea is that guests at a party take it upon themselves to act out or otherwise relate 18 Gorey works. But it feels like being dropped into an alternate universe populated by perverse humanoids with sensibilities askew.

It’s entertaining and deliciously creepy, and the large cast (mostly Jobsite regulars) is wonderful. But the show is not entirely successful. The stylized delivery sometimes makes the dialogue hard to understand, and that problem is exacerbated during ensemble recitations. If the synchronization is off the tiniest bit, the words become muddled and the odd charm of Gorey’s dense writing is compromised.

Also, some of the longer stories are less compelling. Most of that happens in the first act. The second act, a group of pieces that supposedly make up a novel one of the guests is writing, is fast-paced and engaging, and ends with a wonderful, funny alphabet song in which guests gleefully relate all the horrific ways in which their friends have died.

The Saturday show this weekend is now sold out.  We do, however, anticipate having “rush” tickets available for the performance tomorrow night.  Students, Seniors, and members of the Military can get reduced price tickets 30 minutes prior to curtain with proper identification.  Normally $24.50, these tickets sell for $10.  It’s a great deal if you fall into one of those categories.

Oct 222007
 

You May Die Laughing At ‘Gorey’ Performance, Kathy L. Greenburg (The Tampa Tribune. October 22nd, 2007)

 

Jobsite Theater has evoked the world of Edward Gorey for its 2007-08 season opener — traditionally creepy-crawly for Halloween — and what a delightfully wicked world it is.

”Gorey Stories,” directed by David M. Jenkins, is more fun than a barrel of jellied monkey eyes or waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive.

Picture, if you will, guests gathered for a parlor party on a palette of blacks, whites and grays. For entertainment, the guests, who look as if they’re members of the Addams family, take turns narrating and performing 18 limericks, stories and poems written by Edward Gorey.

True to the illustrator-author’s tongue-in-cheek humor, the vignettes depart from the innocent play of bygone gentility and turn toward the dark side. Nursery rhyme monsters, orphaned children and murderous adults collide in an energetic improvisation of the undead: No child is safe once kidnapped by the mind-altering Insect God. Illiteracy would run rampant if teachers used ”The Gashlycrumb Tinies” to teach the ABCs (”A” is for Amy, who fell down the stairs; ”B” is for Basil, assaulted by bears. …).

Through spoken word, song and dance, the cast portrays willful carnage and debauchery with lively humor. They seem to revel in the chance to perform as unsupervised, naughty children in a ”Lord of the Flies” underworld.

Summer Bohnenkamp-Jenkins (Mona) perfects the grim pout of a ticked-off dead girl, while Steve Garland conjures the spirit of Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat for his part as Jasper Ankle, a fey and fun-loving opera fan. Jason Vaughan Evans is droll as C.F. Earbrass, a decrepit writer who appreciates the vehicular capabilities of rolling desk chairs. The rest of the cast equally embraces the melodrama and hyperexaggeration of their roles, fueling an evening of nonstop laughter, a few inhalations of shock and a standing ovation at the end.

Jenkins’ production presents great contrasts in culture, from the three-piece orchestra (Angela S. Lakin, Christina Chen, Zi Ning) that perform classical music while hatchets are raised to arias and chorals about death and devastation. Even the genteel tradition of oral storytelling is turned on its head with cheeky gestures. These directorial twists only serve to complement Gorey’s penchant for irony, as well as to lure the audience into a false sense of propriety.

Furthering this dark weirdness are costume designs by Katrina Stevenson (who also played Lady Celia) and Brian Smallheer’s set and lighting, which incorporates Gorey’s distinctive illustrations and shadowy imagery. With just a screen, the actors and a change in lighting, Smallheer creates clever, sometimes bawdy, silhouettes. The effect is like turning a page in a book and finding a picture as fantastic as the story being told.

Tickets are still available here.  If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, please consider getting them for our (current) final weekend.  Pre-sales for that weekend are what will determine if we extend an additional week or not.

Oct 192007
 

Went amazingly well.  What a phenomenal audience, including the most precious little girl who came wearing a Gashlycrumb Tinies T-Shirt.  She looked to be around five, and after the performance she was standing out front holding one of the white boa feathers that fell off during the show as if it were some great treasure.  What was really funny is that she was standing there with her family pointing at us and saying making sure they knew who we were (my favorite being “THAT’S LITTLE HENRY!”), but she completely shut down and got shy when we actually went up to talk to her.

Kids rock.

But hey, don’t just take my word on it.  Check out a few of the comments that are sparking up on livejournal already…

I just saw Jobsite’s “Gorey Stories” and it was seriously the best stage performance they have ever done. YOU MUST SEE THIS SHOW! I was absolutely *blown away* by this show. F’ing hilarious and simultaneously exquisite in every way!

, commenting in the

community

LOVED it! My bf and I were obnoxiously quoting lines at each other on the drive back to Orlando. Any plans for putting the soundtrack on CD?

 –

, commenting on a post in my livejournal.

Just found out this morning that a few of my co-workers are coming to see the show, too.  So should you!  (You knew there’d be a shill in here somewhere).  Tickets are still available!

Oct 182007
 

Things that go through my mind as I try not to fall asleep at my desk…

Gorey Stories marks my ninth production with Jobsite.

I have played a father, a robot, a black butler, a gay man, a really sleazy cop, the corpse of that cop possessed by an alien, Frankenstein’s Monster, a corporate yes man, a bumbling sidekick, a mentally retarded man who loves doughnuts, a guy who gambles on dreams, and another butler…a very white one, though.

I have died or been killed on the Jobsite stage nine times, four of those deaths in the same show.  I have killed one person, shot one after a blackout, and had a younger version of myself kill another. 

I have been in two of the three musicals that Jobsite has put on, and I had a solo in one show that was not a musical.

I have never playeda “romantic” role in a Jobsite show, but the relationship between Norman and Shiela in The Boys Next Door was probably, in the grand scheme of things, a much more satisfying type of relationship to portray.  The dance scene and their “kiss” are still two of my favorite on-stage moments ever.

I have eaten approximately 20 cans of cheap, room temperature deviled ham on stage.  

I will never eat deviled ham again.

I have, in the nine shows I’ve done, been partially responsible for one performance having to be canceled.  The lead and I, in different cars, got stuck on the Howard Franklin Bridge after a horrible car accident.  The traffic on the bridge didn’t start moving until 15 minutes after the show had been scheduled to start.

I almost, however, caused a show to start late by somehow convincing myself that a Sunday matinee show started at 5PM and that my call was at 4PM.  For the record, Sunday Matinee shows start at 4 PM.  Fortunately, I was planning to be “early” that day and actually made it in time for the show to start as scheduled.

In order to “get us used to the idea of being lovers” Ami Corley had Shawn Paonessa and I hold hands and walk around together for an entire rehearsal.  I really think she did it because she thought it was funny.

Despite the fact that he didn’t seem to actually like the play, the theater critic for Creative Loafing said that attending a performance of The Boys Next Door was “like participating in a ‘Who’s Who of Bay area theater” and that our work included “some of the best performances of the current theater season.”

I tend to drop that last little tidbit a lot, because it’s one of the nicest things a critic has ever said about me.  It’s a far cry from his mention of my performance in Maxwell : A New Rock Opera by Joe Popp which was limited to complaining that I was not nearly old enough to be playing the main character’s father.

My character in Delusion of Darkness was so vile that I had several people walk out of the show after he showed up.  At least, I’m hoping it was the character. 

Umm…I think that’s all I’ve got for the moment. 

5 PM needs to be here now.