Tuesday, September 07, 2010
EDGAR ALLEN AND POE
Nothing goes smoothly in my life. There are always so many complications and the preparation to bring our
latest musical to the stage is certainly no exception. After our efforts to run the Hope Thaetre failed because of pure greed by the managers of the church's theatre we are aiming for a much smaller venue at the Actor's Garden Theatre which is a Bohemian style theatre in which the audience sits in living room style furniture to watch a play or musical in a very intimate setting. The theatre has forty-nine seats and is an Equity-Wavier style theatre where LA's longest running play "The Eavesdroppers' has been playing Friday and Saturday nights there for almost four years. Now any play house that can still gather an audience with the same play in the same space and make a profit must be doing something right so we are preparing to bring "Edgar, Alan and Poe" there set to open on November 1st. The first thing we have learned is just how flaky actors have become since we last produced a musical. As difficult as "Little Bit of Broadway" was to pull off last year, the root cause of that was that the theatre we were using was a pro production type theatre in which the actor actually had to pay $440 in order to be cast in a show there. And the owner of that theatre was making a fortune doing ten shows a month there at every hour of the week including midnight shows and making $47.550 a month before he sold a single ticket to the general public We had four actors quit even after paying the required money. He's been doing this for eleven years now! And now, we try to showcase a brand new musical with lots of supporters including ASCAP and Disney and we are finding actors who seem so excited about creating a new role and then they panic. All of a sudden they have "classes' they never told us they had at the audition and they have barely enough to eat and a place to stay but have enough to go to San Francisco for a four day weekend. Maybe they think we don't listen to what they're saying! Actors today want guarantees of money earned without being a member of the Actor's Equity: the union that grants them the privilege of obtaining that in an Equity Wavier production. They can't sell tickets because they "don't know anybody in L.A.!" Are they living on an island? Do they not say hello to anybody? Are they not even trying to make friends? They come out from back east without job connections or adequate savings. You offer them a contract that "guarantees' they will always be a part of a future professional production and they find a way of waffling out of that on the pretense that delaying the production by two weeks has completely changed their availability when they have yet no job and no engagement that has cast them in a paying gig. We even reduce rehearsal time to accomodate their panic! Back when "Skylark" was produced, we had so many people show up for the audition. Our lead in the show, way back then was the late great Carl Packard who gave up an Equity chorus job in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific at $600 a week in 1984 money to take a non paying role in our show. His reasoning was brilliant. Who in the theatre community or Hollywood studio system was going to notice him singing "Bloody Mary' with twelve other guys? Nobody! "If I'm going to be an actor, it can't be just for money--it has to be also to advance my art and give me a chance to move on to bigger and better things. The days of being discovered in a drug store like Lana Turner supposedly was is simply legend. Of course you must pay your bills but if the production that wants you is willing to limit rehearsals to three days a week during the first month of rehearsals so that you can attend your expensive classes and hold a day job --why would you not want to try that? Are you an actor or not? Maybe you're just a wannabe. Dear God, please don't waste people's time. Don't tell people of your passion for the art when your only real passion is making money to exist. Stay home. Don't add to our freeway traffic. If we go on to Broadway, do you really think I could ever consider you again? Never. Because I would remember that all of your passion was like air in a balloon-- all hot air and no substance. I guess I will never understand today's actor. I have been writing for years and refuse to give up. I invest in my talent with the trust that God will always lead to the right destination because at the end, I will need to answer to Him. What did I do with the gifts that He gave me? Did I hide them looking only for guarantees? Did I accept a role and make a commitment and then find an excuse to break my word? What else do you break your word on? Why would you take an expensive acting class for a good deal of money, be there always on time and then not want to take a lead in a role that could bring you to Broadway? Who's going to "discover you' in that class?' The answer is nobody-- you're fooling yourself! Today's actor is simply not yesterday's actor and yesterday actor still had to pay rent, still had to buy food and still had to have a day job. Nothing has changed except the amounts. So if you're not ready, Mr, outside California actor-- stay home with mommy and daddy--don't come out here until you're ready to commit to something. An actor we auditioned had a guaranteed dinner theatre contract. He went out and bought a car and rented a nice apartment. Nineteen days into the rehearsal the playhouse doing the musical burned to the ground and the owner committed suicide. He was forced to move in with a gay friend who had his own agenda for this good looking young man. His choice was surrender or the streets-- which was really no choice. The actor surrendered because he couldn't go home and face his family who had tried to talk him out of an acting career in the first place and he had no courage for the streets. so much for the guarantee. But John and i go on-- we don't quit--any dip shit can do that!