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August 30, 2008:

DID CHARO EAT A CHURRO?

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, welcome to the Labor Day weekend, a weekend in which there shall be no labor, at least for me. I shall sit around like so much fish and do whatever I feel like doing and those who might have a problem with that can eat a churro. I wonder if Charo ever ate a churro or, conversely, if churro ever ate a Charo? In any case, it is the long Labor Day weekend and I shan’t be eating a churro. I did once dine with Charo, however – I found her rather delightful, actually. What the HELL am I talking about? I’m not supposed to be laboring and yet here I am writing these here notes. Speaking of these here notes, yesterday was a pretty okay day. I got up early, but didn’t jog right away. Instead, I went to the postal office and shipped a bunch o’ packages, and then did a couple more errands. Then I came home, got in my jogging attire, and then did the long jog, which was really difficult. I then did some other things, although I cannot remember what they were. One thing I know for certain: I did not eat a churro. I went to my mail place and the new Film Score Monthly box set of twenty soundtracks (mostly from things released on United Artists records) on twelve CDs had arrived. So, I came back home and began listening to the set whilst doing some work around the home environment. The sound is quite good, and these are all scores I’ve hoped would see the light of a CD. I listened to The Apartment, The Fortune Cookie, How To Murder Your Wife, Duel At Diablo, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, and The Fugitive Kind. Many more scores to listen to over the long weekend. I then shaved and showered and then was on my way to Pasadena to sup and then see the opening night of Vanities. I supped at the El Portal Mexican restaurant, which is a half-block from the theater. I was a very good boy – I had two beef tacos and a forkful of rice, and a small salad, along with an appetizer of one and one half taquitos. I was quite sated, but I think it was just the right amount of food. I then picked up my ticket, then walked around for a while. Then I returned and hung out outside the theater. I knew several people, and chatted with Mary Jo Catlett, Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, casting director Jeff Greenberg (he appears in The First Nudie Musical), Paramount music exec Dan Glosser, and the composer/lyricist of the show, David Kirshenbaum. Finally, it was time to go in and sit – I had very good second row seats. And then the show began.

Last night, I saw a new musical entitled Vanities. This was produced two years ago at Theaterworks up in Palo Alto. I don’t know what the reaction up there was, but I gather the creators have been working on the show during this past two years. I confess to only having seen the original play via its TV version, which starred my pal Annette O’Toole. Without going on about it, I enjoyed a lot of Vanities. It still occasionally feels like a play with songs, but I don’t really think there’s anything to be done about that. I suspect that a lot of the book of the show IS the play, and we know it’s a good play, so that’s fine. I think I was one of the first, if not THE first, to record a song by David Kirshenbaum, on the second Alice Ripley/Emily Skinner duets album – it was an Alice solo called Losing Track Of Time from David’s musical of Summer of ’42. David is very talented, and his score for this show is very good indeed, with a couple of real standout numbers, especially one called The Same Old Music, which was clearly the audience favorite. There are nice and pretty ballads, and fun up-tempos (with a rock flavor). Interestingly, for me at least, the show worked best after the first long cheerleader scene. Vanities, like any small cast play, sort of lives or dies with the cast, and the cast here is excellent, especially my friend Lauren Kennedy as Mary. Sarah Stiles as Joanne gets the show’s biggest laughs – she’s really terrific in her drunk scene and when singing the show-stopping The Same Old Music. Anneliese van der Pol does well with Kathy. The production is very slick, with sets by Anna Louizos, great costumes by Joseph Aulisi (with whom I worked on the TV version of Forget Me Not Lane), and the very simple lighting design of Paul Miller. Regarding the latter, what a pleasure to see normal lighting again – no fancy and unnecessary moving lights, no spotlights, just simple, effective lighting. Kudos to him. The sound design of Tony Meola is fine – the Playhouse is problematic, sound-wise, but Meola has done a good job of minimizing its problems. The eight piece band sounds excellent (my long-time reed player, Phil Feather, is in the band). There was a low-pitched hum, however, that lasted the entire show – I hope they fix it – very distracting. I liked the simple musical staging by Dan Knechtges, and Judith Ivey did a good job directing the piece. It’s not perfect – the pace is off in several scenes, and some of it, as I said earlier, just feels like a play with songs added. But, it was a very entertaining evening. Afterwards, I met the producers, spoke to Kirshenbaum again, said hey to the artistic director of the Playhouse, Sheldon Epps, and then finally came home. The show is slated for Broadway come January, and I hope they find the right house – the Helen Hayes would be ideal, or the Music Box.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below, because otherwise I might have to eat a churro and listen to Charo.

Today, I shall jog, I shall make a decision on which date I’ll do my book signing (I’m leaning towards October 4th), and I’ll pay a visit to the dealer rooms at Cinecon. I shall eat something amusing at some point, and I shall watch a DVD or three. There’s a show at the Gardenia I should go see – Shelley Markham and friends, but I hear it’s going to be very crowded and I haven’t made a reservation, so I’m just not sure if I’ll go or not – in fact, I doubt I will.

Tomorrow is mine all mine and I shall eat a churro if I damn well feel like it and anyone who tries to stop me will pay the price ($3.56). Monday, as I’ve mentioned, I’ll be attending a Labor Day Do at neighbor Tony Slide and Bob Gitt’s home environment.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, jog, figure out my book signing date, visit the dealer rooms at Cinecon, and then sit on my couch like so much fish. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite recorded tracks of Nat King Cole, Jack Jones, and Steve Lawrence – three of my favorite male singers? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst we all go in search of a churro and listen to our Charo LPs.

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