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May 4, 2008:

TICKLED PINK

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, The Brain From Planet X has had its official opening night at the Chance Theater and we are here to tell the tale or, at the very least, the tail. I spent a leisurely day doing leisurely things. I wrote out Break a Brain cards for the cast (they all got copies of Evening Primrose with their cards). I did a few errands. I did this and that and also that and this. And then it was time to be on my way to the Heim of Ana, first for a small meal at the Cheesecake Factory, and then to our opening night. It was completely sold out with no empty chairs. This was the third opening night for The Brain From Planet X and of the three productions this was the best and most fun opening night. As some of you will remember, the opening night in New York at NYMF was frought with problems, including a terrible mark in The Brain Tap, a fairly unresponsive audience, and, most importantly, a production that didn’t look good and wasn’t well lit. It was also the first time in the theater and therefore everything was just weird and rough. We found our footing on the second show. The opening at LACC was very good for the most part, but not as good as the preview the night before opening. The laughs were occasionally long and loud, but the pacing was off that night, although we did have a great mark in The Brain Tap. Last night’s opening went very smoothly with only a couple of hiccups – a couple of fumfered lines and the like, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with the pace, and the music tempos were much better and much more accurate, which was very helpful. The audience was just swell. They were very vocal and the laughs were pretty consistent and very long and loud, which is our favorite kind of laughs. The musical numbers landed well and I just was tickled pink with the reaction. And, as the added cherry on the sundae, the Brain Tap mark was wonderful.

At the end, the show received a pretty instant standing ovation, a first for this show. I’d forgotten that they were going to introduce me at the end, which they did, and then I remembered that they’d asked me to make a little speech. I was completely unprepared to do so, but I basically said how wonderful it was working with this cast, and I thanked the Chance profusely. I probably should have said more, but as I said, I’d forgotten all about it. Then the audience adjourned to the lobby where there was quite a spread of food from South Of The Border. Many people came up to me telling me how much they’d loved the show and how much fun they’d had. People schmoozed and ate and drank, and then I took my leave, since I had an hour drive home. All in all, I was tickled pink. Not tickled yellow, mind you, or even tickled green, no, I was tickled pink with the whole evening. It really is fun to just sit back and watch everyone do a great job and hear the audience laughing at one’s labors – it’s just very gratifying.

I have to say, the cast is really a fine one. Bob Simpson, who plays Fred, has brought so much to the part – he’s very different from our two other Freds – much quirkier – he’s really mined this character and found wonderful little nooks and crannies, some of which I would never have thought of – which is why I love good actors. Allison Appleby plays Joyce, and she, too, is terrific, making the two sides of the character really fun – the 50s housewife, and the alienized Joyce. In her blonde wig, she’s rather like Doris Day, and I just love watching her work. Our Zubrick and Yoni are also different from the two actors who created the roles. The Zubrick (Daniel Berlin) couldn’t be more different, but what he’s doing really works well – it took a while to find it, but he’s got it now and the audience response is really fun. Emily Clark is Yoni, and she’s not only VERY funny, she’s VERY sexy, sings terrifically, and has found lots of fun stuff – she, too, is really fun to watch and the audience ate her up. One of the things we’ve done in this production that’s different is give Yoni a whole slew of different outfits, and boy does that help the look of the show. Our costume designer, Deb Millison did an amazing job with almost no budget. Of course, my pal Mark Rothman is the Brain and I think it’s been quite a journey for him, since he hasn’t acted in a very, very long time. But, in the end, he’s really come through and he’s very funny, very droll, and getting better with every performance. Our Donna (Shannon Cudd) is really good – cute as a button, perky, and funny and has a terrific voice. Our Rod (Dimas Diaz) is the first Rod we’ve had that has “gotten” the part – he just figured out what made the character tick and he’s just great. Our General Mills (Warren Draper) is very funny and gets better and better as we go. And then there’s Michael Irish as the Narrator/Professor Leder. He’s absolutely magical in both roles and I would take him with this show if it were to go anywhere else. He’s incredibly funny, has a great, wiry body that can do anything, and his Professor Leder just makes me laugh out loud. Our mighty ensemble is mighty indeed – Marlana Filannino, Jenna Romano, Patrick Robert Kelly, Jamie Lee Baker, Cody Anderson, and Dan Flapper. Dan also plays Private Partz and he’s great. Our tech crew is also excellent and they keep things running smoothly, especially our set designer and tech overseer, Masako Tobaru. Kudos, too, to our band of three – Bill Strongin on piano, Lonn Hayes on drums, and Ross Craton on reeds.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because it is late and while I am tickled pink I’m also tired blue.

Today, I shall be sleeping late (I hope), and then attending the first matinee performance of the Brain. I gather there’s at least half-a-house, so that’s good. I still have a couple of things to tighten. One thing I tightened right before we did our performance last night, really worked like gangbusters. So, I’m sure I’ll tinker every now and then. After the matinee, I shall return to the home environment where I shall blissfully sit on my couch like so much fish and watch a DVD or three.

This week will be both relaxing and busy, with many things to attend to. Our very own Jose will be coming into town, and has graciously offered to sit in with our band, which means that for this coming weekend we’ll have almost our full sound, with only the bass missing. It will be lovely to hear all of elmore’s wonderful second keyboard sounds again.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, get a good night’s sleep, attend a matinee, and then blissfully sit on my couch like so much fish, watching a DVD or three. 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, shall we, whilst I go from tickled pink to dreamland.

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