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November 27, 2008:

TOM TURKEY RAN AWAY BUT HE JUST CAME HOME

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, it’s turkey lurkey time, Tom Turkey ran away but he just came home. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, Tom Turkey is back and just in time for us to eat him. Tom Turkey was visiting Iowa and was, in fact, doing a production of The Music Man, in which he played Professor Harold Hill. Several reviews said he gobbled up the scenery. Marian the Librarian was played by Samantha Sheep. I gather that when Tom Turkey sang Till There Was Ewe to Ms. Sheep there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. In any case, today, as you might have surmised, is Thanksgiving, a day in which we give thanks. So, I’m giving thanks to all the turkeys out there in the dark. And you know who you are. Speaking of turkeys out there in the dark, yesterday was a pretty nice day. For example, I got a good night’s sleep and woke up. That was pretty nice. I then did fifty minutes on the treadmill, going 6.2 miles at a brisk speed, burning 930 calories (whatever that means), and getting quite sweaty. The only downside of the exercise room is that they keep the temperature around forty. After that, I shaved and showered and then was on my way to a production meeting. Said meeting went very well. We went over a whole slew of details, scheduled out the show day from the time we arrive at nine right through the strike of the equipment after the show. I came back to the hotel, answered a lot of e-mails, and then headed over to the West Side. I decided to snag a ticket to a show – I thought about Young Frankenstein or Gypsy, but in the end I walked up to the box-office at the Marquis and got a fifth row center seat for White Christmas. I then moseyed on over to Joe Allen to sup with Miss Jessica Rush. I hadn’t seen her in quite some time and we had a perfectly perfect visit, and we laughed and laughed and just when we thought we could laugh no more, we laughed again. I didn’t want yet another Caesar salad, but they had something new on the menu this week – rigatoni with spicy sausage (ground) in a light tomato sauce. That’s what I had (with a shrimp cocktail) and boy was it ever yummilicious. It wasn’t really all that much food in the scheme of things, and given my workouts this week, I felt no guilt whatsoever about eating it. I then walked Jessica to her stage door, and I went over to the Marquis.

Last night, I saw a Broadway show entitled White Christmas, in for a limited run. In theory, White Christmas strives to be a big, old-fashioned musical comedy, with lots of gags, lots of chorus people, and the usual musical comedy roles for the leads – two men, two women, and two supporting leads, with lots of old-fashioned blackouts, scenes in one, an overture and entr’acte, show curtain, blah, blah, blah. In reality, it’s a big, old-fashioned musical comedy, with lots of gags that don’t land (not one big laugh in the entire show – with mostly mild occasional chuckles, and a couple of laughs that almost land), lots of chorus people doing lots of musical numbers that are okay but lack the spark and excitement of a great choreographer – Randy Skinner does a good job, but there’s just nothing special about any of it. Mr. Skinner worked with Gower Champion, but this show has none of Mr. Champion’s showy glitz and cleverness and genius, and it could have used some. As to the leads, the two gals are okay but don’t have much star wattage. The two supporting players, have less – all four are given no help by a very lame book. It’s too bad they didn’t bring in someone to help the book, because it wouldn’t be that hard to spruce this thing up. Of the two male leads, only Stephen Bogardus has the right stuff – he takes the stage, is a terrific actor, sings well, and knows what he’s doing. He may not be a STAR star, but he knows how to take charge and play a scene. And then there’s his co-star – Jeffrey Denman. I know Mr. Denman has gotten good reviews from some quarters, but I actually could not believe what I was seeing. Yes, he can dance – he does the steps and gets through it, without so much as one iota of personality or excitement or joy or star quality. He’s like a good dancer college performer. He has no idea how to get a laugh, and he’s doing the Danny Kaye role. He’s charmless, unfunny, and a stick. How a person of that kind of limited talent gets to star in a show, let alone a Broadway show is not something I’ll ever understand. You could liken him to Harry Groener in Crazy For You, the difference being that Mr. Groener is not only a good dancer, he’s a fantastic actor, and knows how to get his laughs, even when the book is failing him. And Mr. Denman is no Harry Groener. All that said, the show looks good, and boy, you can’t beat those great Irving Berlin songs, can you? The interpolations, especially one of my all-time favorite Berlin songs, Let Me Sing And I’m Happy, work well, and the twenty-four piece band sounds pretty good (overmiked, as always, but nice to hear all those woodwinds, six strings, three trumpets, trombones, French horn, etc. The orchestrations are by Larry Blank and they’re nice. The sets and costumes are very good, and the audience gets snowed on at the end (really some sort of soap bubbles), and the older people in the audience (mostly older) enjoyed it, although it’s the first Broadway show I’ve seen in years that didn’t have one person stand at the end. It didn’t deserve a standing O and it didn’t get one, amazing in today’s culture. I enjoyed myself, however, despite the faults above, and was never really bored because director Walter Bobbie keeps the show moving along. I’m not sure it’s doing well enough (scattered empty seats everywhere in the house) to become a perennial.

What am I, Ben Brantley all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I must get my beauty sleep and then go visit Tom Turkey.

Today, I shall try to sleep eight hours, then I shall do the treadmill, then shave and shower, do stuff on the computer, then head over to FJL and Skip’s home environment at three to meet Tom Turkey and other guests, some of whom I’m sure I’ll know.

I shall try not to be a pig, but I have designated this Thanksgiving meal as my splurge meal. And I WILL have dessert. I haz spoken.

Tomorrow, I have nothing planned other than doing the entrance and exit diagrams for the performers and hopefully starting work on the lighting script. Then I’m supping with the beautiful and talented Miss Julie Reiber – she’s choosing the jernt.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the treadmill, attend a Thanksgiving do, have a splurge meal, and then come home and plotz. Today’s topic of discussion: What is the most memorable Thanksgiving you ever had – why was it the most memorable? And what is the most you’ve ever eaten on Thanksgiving – what single Thanksgiving meal did you gorge until you thought you were going to explode? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I put on my Sunday best on Thursday to meet and eat Tom Turkey.

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