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September 16, 2018:

THE STUFFING OF THE GAPING, HUNGRY MAW

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much fish after a day of eating too much food and paying the price ($8.43).  If I don’t start on a diet soon I will shortly be able to play Marryin’ Sam and other Stubby Kaye roles.  But during times of stress one does tend to stuff one’s gaping, hungry maw. Unfortunately, there’s been a little too much stress lately and a lot of stuffing of the maw.  The Stuffing of the Maw – that’s the title of my next novel.

Yesterday was a day where the time passed between bouts of stuffing my gaping, hungry maw.  I got seven hours of sleep, got up, answered e-mails, then went to the garage to search for stuff for new perks.  I didn’t really find what I was looking for, but did find some fun stuff – a grouping of A Chorus Line memorabilia – an early draft of the script that is quite different from the show we know and love – it came from my agent back then, Frank Levy at CMA (now ICM).  I had it bound and it’s quite a handsome thing.  So, I made a perk of that and a bunch of programs – from the original company in New York, to a couple of subsequent early cast changes, the original LA program AND souvenir program – that company featured many of the original cast – a program from the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a Hawaiian tour, an LA Actor’s Fund benefit program form the original run here – it’s quite a nice lot and priced to move.  The script alone is worth more than what we have it up for.

The second grouping is fun, too – a mish-mash of programs from New York and LA – an original Follies Playbill from Broadway, an original Sweeney Todd playbill from Broadway, several LA programs, a program from Snoopy from the premiere run in San Francisco, which I saw when I was shooting the Tabitha pilot, an incredible press package from the original LA run of Dreamgirls – lots of photos, cast list, a poster – it’s really great – an LA Side by Side by Sondheim program (Hermoine Gingold, Larry Kert, Millicent Martin), a Peter Allen Up in One program (those two programs have a section with the complete show history of the Biltmore, the Huntington Hartford and Greek Theatres, which is invaluable – Pippin with Michael Rupert and Betty Buckley (Mr. Rupert’s understudy was Dean Pitchford – I saw him, too), Pippin tour in Chicago, original Broadway A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the Rex Harrison revival of My Fair Lady (program and souvenir program), and more.

You can find those and much, much more by clicking on the direct link below.  We’re in our final three days and we really need to puuuuuuuuush, cover the rest of our fees, and then hopefully go up from there, because our budget is just too tight for comfort.  So, check it out, share with your nearest and dearest on Facebook and we can DO this.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-carol-christmas-a-new-musical-needs-your-help/x/9165600#/

I picked up one little package and no important envelope, then I rustled up a batch of Wacky Noodles – a bit less than usual – and ate them all up.  Then I went back out to the garage in hopes of finding more stuff, but alas, it’s just too difficult out there.  I always do find interesting stuff, though – back when I saw the very first reading of Wicked (2002, I think, at Universal), Stephen Schwartz had asked me to write my thoughts down, which I did and which I sent to him.  His response sometime later was that he didn’t really disagree with any of the comments, and I know that he probably heard similar things from many others and I know many things we all said were ultimately addressed in one way or the other. A couple of numbers I raved about were subsequently cut – but it was clear in my notes that I didn’t think Elphaba’s I Want song was strong enough – and it wasn’t.  I think it took him two more tries to get to the right one, The Wizard and I.  My biggest issue was with the character of Nessarose, which I felt was very underdeveloped and not that interesting.  I know they fixed it a bit, although it’s still my least favorite thing in the show. I rave on about Popular and I’m Not That Girl and One Short Day.  And For Good. And that I felt Act Two had lots of fun stuff in it, and that act one could use a little more fun stuff.  And I ended the four pages with: “It’s so nice to hear a Schwartz theater score again – and the two of you (meaning he and Winnie Holzman) really compliment each other in wonderful ways.  And I really do think you’re on the yellow brick road to success.”  And I was right and it’s still going strong all these years later.

I chose a couple more songs, but I really kind of have to wait until we get confirmation of our final cast member.  Then I sat on my couch like so much fish.

Whilst in the garage I saw a DVD sitting there that I’d never gotten around to watching, one of those Warner Archive DVD print on demand things – Mary, Mary, starring Debbie Reynolds and Barry Nelson.  I remember seeing it at the Paramount Theater at a sneak preview – I’m pretty sure that memory is accurate – that would have been in 1963 – the film opened in October so it had to be a few months ahead of that and if it was it probably previewed with Bye Bye Birdie, which had quite a long run there. Anyway, I remember it getting some laughs, but I just really didn’t like Debbie Reynolds in it.  I found her forced and unfunny – the character is a wiseacre who can’t keep silent with her funny, barbed comments that were the ruination of her marriage.  And if you don’t have someone who can deliver that kind of comedy (she always looks like she’s about to cry – which ruins the moment when she finally does), and Mervyn Le Roy, whatever his talents may have been back in the early days, was the most dreadful director – stodgy and boring – his direction of the Gypsy film was dreadful, although that film still worked fine.  But this is a mess.  Barry Nelson, a wonderful actor who created his role on Broadway, is a little too Broad in his way.  Michael Rennie also recreates his role and he’s delightful, as is Hiram Sherman, who was a replacement on Broadway.  The film was a huge flop and I put that squarely on the director and leading lady. The play was a huge hit and I mean HUGE, one of the longest-running plays of the entire decade – three years and over 1500 performances, plus a national tour with Teresa Wright and Scott McKay.  But I can guarantee you the thing that made the play work was that it had a real director (Joseph Anthony) and a star turn in Barbara Bel Geddes who, I can assure you, knew how to make with the zingers.

Then I went to Trader Joe’s, something I never do.  I find the clientele at all Valley Trader Joe’s really irritating, these supposed health nuts who look anything but healthy – emaciated, pallid, and off in some land I’ve never visited.  I looked around, got a few things, including their excellent chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.  I came home and immediately ate two of them because they were so yummilicious.  Then I put up the new perks, had a couple of telephonic conversations, and that was Saturday for you.

Today, I really must sleep in.  Once up, I’ll do a few things, eat something light so I have room for an ice cream sandwich, and then I really must relax.

Tomorrow I have a morning meeting with my set designer, then the week is filled with meetings and meals, more auditions, and hopefully surviving.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, sleep in, do things, eat, and relax.  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 hit the road to dreamland, as I hopefully begin to cut back on the stuffing of the gaping, hungry maw.

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