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March 16, 2008:

A 110-YEAR-OLD TIBETAN MONK

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, once again, I must write these here notes in a hurry because I have another early morning rehearsal, which will take place in the early morning, which is when early morning rehearsals usually take place. But let me take a moment and just say that this month is speeding by, like a gazelle in a loincloth. Speaking of a loincloth, yesterday was a pretty nice day. For example, I woke up. That was pretty nice. Then I was on my way to the early morning rehearsal of yesterday. This time, we checked our route on the Internet via the city’s traffic site, and, according to them, there was absolutely no work being done anywhere on any freeway we were taking. So, imagine my surprise when I passed Vermont zooming along, and then reached the next off-ramp at Benton Way and came to a complete stop. Yes, Virginia, a complete stop. We then inched along for three miles until we were almost to downtown. And what was the problem? Why, they had two lanes closed and a crane was doing some work and blocking said two lanes. Say what? You mean, these fatheads who put out the information as to where work and delays will be lied? I do believe those fatheads lied. Just like that. And why? Because no one does anything about it and they just don’t give a crap about anyone or anything. Once past that stupidity, we pretty much flew down to the theater, but because of the ten minutes lost, I was a few minutes late. In our three-hour rehearsal, we actually did an amazing amount of work, blocking several big scenes and three musical numbers. We’re basically recreating the staging we’ve used twice, but every time I do the show again, I find new things, or the actors find new things, so there were some fun little changes we made, including one very helpful bit of business at the top of one of the scenes. The cast seems to be having lots of fun, and I am, too. After rehearsal, I drove back home, encountering a lot of pointless slowing on the freeway for absolutely no reason at all – no accidents, nothing to gawk at, no cars off to the side of the road, just plain old stupidity hard at work on a Saturday. I finally got home and then did some work on the computers, caught up with e-mails, did some work at the piano, and all of a sudden it was four-thirty. I got Popeye’s chicken for my meal o’ the day and it was quite good. I had two breasts and their little biscuit thing. I also ordered a small side of cole slaw, which I saw them put in the container, but the girl packing up the order, who was preoccupied with the earring in her nose, forgot to put it in my package. I paid for it, of course, but didn’t realize until I got home. I got very annoyed, but not annoyed enough to get back in my motor car and go give that gal wha’ fo’. After my meal, I then sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched two count them two motion pictures on DVD. The first motion picture on DVD was entitled The Member Of The Wedding, starring Miss Julie Harris, Miss Ethel Waters, and Mr. Brandon de Wilde, all of whom had done the show on Broadway. The film was directed by the excellent Fred Zinneman, and while the performance of Miss Harris is pitched very high, it’s still a wonderful job and the film moves right along and is very affecting. Mr. de Wilde was an extraordinary child actor and he’s just terrific in this film. And then there is Miss Waters, who just radiates warmth and goodness and kindness, and she’s a presence to be reckoned with. Her closeup at the end of the film is heartbreaking. The film has an excellent score by Alex North, and the transfer is top-notch. There are the usual puff piece extras as with the other films in the Stanley Kramer Collection (he produced Member), and I must say there is a complete howler from Mr. Kramer’s widow, who comes off on these extras not very well, and she states how important the music was and how Mr. Kramer worked with Alex North on another film he produced in the 60s, Pressure Point. Only Mr. North did not score Pressure Point, Kramer’s favorite 60s composer did – Mr. Ernest Gold (who also did Inherit The Wind, Judgment At Nuremburg, and It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World). How did nobody catch that silly mistake and remove it? There’s also a short written note from Miss Harris, in which she basically just says she did the Broadway play with Miss Waters and Mr. de Wilde and that they were the only ones in the cast. Say what? What about the other ten or more cast members? It’s surprising that The Member Of The Wedding has only had one Broadway revival, in 1975, said revival only running a handful of performances. Interestingly, Miss Harris was twenty-six when she did the film of Wedding – she really does look like a thirteen-year-old for most of the film. I then watched the second motion picture on DVD, which was entitled Blonde Venus, my favorite of the von Sternberg/Dietrich films. I’ve written about the film before, so I won’t repeat myself other than to say it’s a sublime work of unique cinema, with von Sternberg’s usual incredible direction and visual flair, and great performances from Miss Dietrich (her drunk scene when she hits rock bottom and gives all her money to another down-at-the-heels woman, repeating Herbert Marshall’s line, “In this envelope are fifteen hundred dollars. They represent the sum total of my life’s work,” is one of the best things she’s ever done), Mr. Marshall (never better), Cary Grant, Sidney Toler, and many others. And, of course, it contains one of the great musical numbers in all of film, Hot Voodoo – there’s never been anything quite like Miss Dietrich’s removal of the ape suit she wears for the beginning of the number. For some reason, I’d remembered the transfer being better than it is – it’s acceptable and looks okay, but it could be much, much better with a little TLC.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I must get to bed and get my beauty sleep, because frankly I’m beginning to look like a 110- year-old Tibetan monk.

Today I shall have another three-hour rehearsal, first teaching music to our new Zubrick and Yoni, reviewing the Brain’s music, and then doing whatever blocking we can in the time remaining. After that, I have no further plans, so I’ll just try to relax for the rest of the day.

As mentioned in the posts yesterday, the biggest of the hurdles to our good news is fine and now I think there’s just one more little thing to do, and I’m hoping we can do it by mid-week and then wrap it all up in a pretty pink ribbon and then I can tell you all what it’s all about. And you dear readers will be the first to know.

This coming week there will be four evening rehearsals, and I have a few meetings and meals during the weekdays, and also an opening night to attend on Friday, the new musical of the film Mask at the Pasadena Playhouse. So, it will be a very busy week indeed.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, have a rehearsal, come home and relax, eat something fun, and then watch a DVD or there. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to make with the topics and we all get to post about them. So, let’s have loads of lovely topics and loads of lovely postings, and do send most excellent vibes and xylophones for the happy completion of what we hope will be good news. And now, I shall get my beauty sleep so that I do not look like a 110-year-old Tibetan monk.

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