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October 31, 2008:

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, it is late, it is Friday, it is scary on account of it’s Halloween and I must write these here notes in a hurry because there are ghoulies and beasties and hobgoblins and things that go bump in the night. Speaking of things that go bump in the night, yesterday was one of the weirdest days ever. I got up early. That was weird. Then I “awoke” my computer, only to find it wouldn’t do much of anything. I shut it down and restarted it only to find a blank gray screen with no Apple logo. I shut it down and restarted again – same thing. This happened about six months ago, so I called Apple Care, and they had me unplug everything, remove the battery, then put the battery back and plug everything back in. I was then given instructions on a special way of starting the computer – I did it and I finally got the Apple logo and everything was fine, but I find that sort of weirdness very nerve-wracking. I then had a ton of e-mails to respond to, and then I did the long jog, then I had to gas up the car, then I had to hurry to a four-hour rehearsal. We began at the beginning and did a complete run-through of the act. It was hugely better, with only a few problematic sections, forgotten lyrics and forgotten patter. As we were working through those sections, we had some real stuff to deal with, so I spent the rest of the rehearsal dealing with it. I then picked up a friend of Barry Pearl’s and we drove together out to La Mirada. As I knew it would be, the traffic was miserable, and what should have been a twenty-five minute ride took an hour and fifteen minutes. I hadn’t had time to eat anything, so by the time we got to the theater I was dying of hunger. Happily, there was a Wendy’s right next door, so we went there and I got a cheeseburger and a tiny Caesar salad. I hadn’t had a Wendy’s cheeseburger in over twenty years and I’d completely forgotten how good they are. That satisfied my hunger pangs, and then we went into the theater at seven. They didn’t open the doors until seven-twenty (for a seven-thirty curtain). Garry Marshall was there, as was composer Paul Williams. The first ten rows were not used, because there was a huge camera crew there along with a huge camera crane to shoot the show so they could edit their commercial. It was their first show in front of an audience, and the audience seemed to be filled with friends and family.

Last night, I saw a show entitled Happy Days – The Musical. I’ll begin by saying these sorts of “brand” shows are not my cup of tea. There’s no real reason Happy Days needed to be a musical, other than the creators know they have a built-in audience from the TV show. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, other than to say that the story is too thin, the songs are not Mr. Williams at his best, and there’s one major central problem – obviously the creators don’t think it’s a problem, but I, as an audience member and fan of the TV show think it’s not only a major problem but a disastrous problem. And the problem is that there is a big hole in the center of the show. Fonzie and Pinky Tuscadero were not what gave Happy Days its heart and soul. What gave Happy Days its heart and soul was a character named Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard. He grounded the show. He was lovable and we cared about him. Yes, Fonzie had the crazed fans, but there would have been no show without Richie and his family. In this show, the leads are Fonzie and Pinky. Richie, who opens the show talking to the audience, has virtually nothing to do in the show – in fact, he disappears for most of act one. Why establish this talking to the audience device if you’re only going to use it at the beginning and end of the show? And they try to cram in so many characters and songs for them it just has no clarity. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Marshall but way too many of the jokes in the show don’t land. Yes, there are occasional laughs, occasional fun, but I happen to think that with some work this show could work better than most of these types of things. But Fonzie and Pinky can’t motor the show – it just can’t work. The cast is very good and our own Barry Pearl did a great job as Arnold. The direction was adequate, the choreography was certainly energetic, but the show seemed long and could benefit from a few songs being cut. None of that matters one or even two whits, because the cities they’ll play will see the name Happy Days and they’ll go and they’ll enjoy it.

What am I, Ben Brantley all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because it’s quite scary around here right now, what with all the ghoulies and the beasties and the hobgoblins and the things that go bump in the night.

Today, I must get up early, do the long jog and then have one final rehearsal with the singer, from twelve to three-thirty, after which I’ll need to hie myself to a quick meeting at LACC, after which I’ll need to hie myself home to give out lots of candy to lots of trick or treaters.

Tomorrow will, of course, be November, and I’m hoping for a good and wonderful November for one and all and also all and one. We’ll do our sound check in the afternoon, and then I’ll be back at seven to sup and see the show.

Sunday I’ll be seeing a play at the El Portal, but other than that, have no plans. But the week ahead is very busy indeed.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, have a rehearsal, attend a meeting, and hand out candy. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/video player? I’ll start – CD, a two-fer by pianist Don Shirley. DVD, next up is Up The Junction. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and do be careful of things that go bump in the night.

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