Sunday, May 10, 2009


Upon this little stage on Friday, May 8th arrived the premiere of our original musical "A Little Bit of Broadway". By its second performance the following day, it was finally good, but that opening night was a bit disastrous. Not exactly a train wreck, you understand, but "technical difficulties" over the sound made it pretty bad. We had recorded all the tracks from SONIC files and some were WAV files. Warning: you simply can not mix the two on one CD--it will not play. What seemed like a sure cancellation of the show was averted only by God Himself. Now to set this up properly, this theatre simply will NOT spend any money on itself except at its once a year improvement drive. We had two huge old speakers in which we were getting monaural sound out of at best. It crackled and hissed and spat if you raised the volume and from certain parts of the theatre, you simply could not hear the actors on stage and when you lowered it, the actors couldn't hear the music to sing with. So I knew that I had to take matters in my own hands. This theatre charges each actor $285.00 to be in show unless you "earn a membership" by being a stage manager once a year and an audition monitor six times in one year and a "house manager" six times in one year and attend a weekend cleanup, twice a year. After that you qualify to be in any play for free. Well that winds up (when you add up all the hours in those projects) being about 4 months of hard work in one calendar year. A big investment. However you are allowed to bring in as many industry comps as you want for free (instead of the usual two to three comps per actor) . This theatre makes big bucks whether or not an audience shows up at the door. Well, I knew by the morning of "opening night" that the sound was going to be a VERY big problem. I went out with a guy whom I had cast in the show, but ended up not being able to attend rehearsals. Now, here is a lesson to be learned by all. Because God indeed "draws straight with crooked lines"-- if I had simply fired this man because I got tired of hearing "I have to attend this gig, because I need the money!", the show would have simply been the entire train wreck that seemed coming. But something (the Dear Lord whispering in my ears) "Don't judge a man's inability to help you NOW, when he might be able to help you a LOT more later." Everyone in the cast was laughing at this man who wants to act and perform more than anything else in the world, had committed to a part, didn't have to pay the fee because he was replacing another actor who had (no money back if you quit a show) and yet was not able to show up for an entire nine days of rehearsals to earn some income. So I wrote him a nice note when anyone else would have sent a Dear John letter to and ladies and gentlemen reading this blog, Joey Vitale saved the day. First he tried to get the theatre owner to buy something to replace the sound with-- absolutely no go. When a guy is CHEAP-- dear God-- get out of the way! So I could close the show and have zero credibility for the future or do something. So Joey and I went shopping -- I knew I couldn't buy anything new. But again, the Good Lord came through and planted a word in my brain-- that word was "Pawn Shop". I can not even begin to remember the last time that I bought ANYTHING in a pawn shop. The first one on La Cienga had NOTHING. The second on Santa Monica Blvd had a great receiver for $160.00 plus tax. Now what I know about electronic gear you could not fill a thimble with. But then again, there was God-send Joey Vitale. He examined this device from top to bottom and sideways-- and when it would connect up to a woofer, but was okay for our purposes, we got it reduced to to $120.00 plus tax. Then dear Joey brought his own speakers from home and made a surround sound set up in that theatre that you simply had to hear to believe. Then he fixed the non operative DVD player in the sound booth. Another hidden blessing on its way. Okay, I thought, we are ALL SET. But be careful please of over confidence, because these actors save TWO and three quarters of another were simply not ready line wise. Then the CDS would not play on the CD player. The only solution was to play them on the DVD player-- (which you will recall Joey fixed as well) which was okay for what we recorded, but not for commercial tracks-- and of course a DVD player will skip over any track that has an interference path in it of any kind. So the sound was a true disaster with the wrong tracks playing at the wrong time. That really spooked the actors. Who says horses are the only creatures who spook easily? And then the show was too long-- a problem that has visited me before. Okay -- opening night was pretty bad-- the show with sound delays went three hours with intermission and of course since this theatre books rehearsals and auditions around the clock we ran into a scheduled rehearsal for a director who had won three Emmys-- OMG-- We thought it was over. But again with God's help, we transferred everything over to an I POD and we cut the show significantly by at least three scenes and one song and we did much better on the second night. By not having anyone move things off stage during breaks , we shaved off twenty minutes. Then the song was three minutes and the scenes were a total of eleven minutes-- big difference. We still need to cut one song and perhaps the opening which features an EMCEE. But at least the CAST was happy and we had a great cast party last night at Micelli's- who gave us 25% off all our food. Micellis' is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year and in honor of that every Monday and Tuesday in May and June, they are offering one entree at regular price and a second at equal or lesser value at sixty cents. Not too bad. So today we have performance number three at 7PM and all fingers are crossed. Today is also the birthday of Fred Astaire and auspiciously enough the birthday of John Wilkes Booth. Did you know the last role that Booth played before he assassinated Lincoln in April of 1865 was to play Marc Anthony In the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar in November of 1864 with his other world famous brother Edwin. Fascinating. The lesson-- choose a cast more carefully and TRUST GOD-- He will ALWAYS come through eventually. He might need to teach you a lesson, first, but He is always there before you CRASH. More later. God Bless us TONIGHT.


Tony Westbrook said...

God bless Joey Vitale and all the actors. That's what the process and learning.
Keep at it and smoother sailing!

Anonymous said...

Bravo, seems to me, is a brilliant phrase