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January 26, 2020:

MUSIC AND LAUGHTER

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, the Elmer Bernstein concert is done and the second performance, yesterday’s matinee, was even better than Friday night – in fact, as good as Friday night was it was not a patch on the butt cheeks of the matinee.  I wasn’t at all sure how it would go, actually, because an hour before the show I’d had to get really tough with our producer and I do mean I went into full out BK mode that makes people flee if they’re witnessing it.  It all had to do with the previous night’s introductory remarks, which ran almost twenty-four minutes, which I was not about to have a repeat of.  I reminded him that this is what I do and after years of doing these that he should trust me and that we did not have this problem last year.  He calmed down, and I then went back into positive mode and he did indeed do the introductory remarks and it was much better and while it was long at eight minutes, it was so much better than twenty-four.  He introduced me, and I went up and said, “I want to thank Henry for keeping it short,” with one of my looks, and it got a huge laugh and the band also laughed loudly and we were off and running.  I knew instantly the audience was great and ready for anything and I have to say that I was off the script as much as I was on it, just reacting or riffing on everything.  In the ten years since I began hosting the Kritzerland shows, and for all the stuff I’ve hosted since, I have never been as funny as I was yesterday.  And that’s what sets these concerts apart and why people love them. You get all this incredible music and then you get humor.  The drummer and I had some really funny back-and-forth, too.  But the whole show was great – the band was fantastic, Robert Yacko and Maegan McConnell were grand, and so was the So-Cal Chorale.  And my favorite bits were all unscripted.  Coming out after the opening of act two, which was Step to the Rear from How Now, Dow Jones, I said, “Welcome back to the second half of the show, or as I like to call it, Long Day’s Journey into Night.”  And I’d had an idea in the back of my head since Friday night’s show and I just didn’t quite know how to do it, but I figured it out literally ten seconds before I got up to do the thank yous that lead into the final number.

The one patter that I kept completely straight was the introduction for To Kill a Mockingbird and during that patter I go on and on how unlike today’s film composers who write pad or stuff that’s more like sound design than music, Elmer truly understood what film music should do – underscore the story, get under the skin of the characters, and provide subtext.  I said that Mockingbird was a score filled to the brim with incredible and memorable themes and was a textbook example of how film and music work hand in hand in terms of storytelling.  Then they played it and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – the suite had all the memorable themes in it.

After they were done and the audience was done cheering, I said, “You see?  Are those not incredible themes?”  Then, with a twinkle in my eye I said, “Would you like to hear an example of a theme from one of the Oscar-nominated scores from this year?”  Everyone said, “Yes!”  Without turning to the cellist in back of me, I said, “Circe, play any low note for four beats.  She did, one long cello note in the low register.  I turned back to the audience and said, “Joker.”  And they roared – it was so much fun.  But the whole day was like that.  We did Robot Monster, which is a lot of atonal clanging and really funny and after it was done, I said, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve been humming that for days.”  And there was one bit of patter that just goes off on a funny tangent that makes no sense and I finally said, “Does anyone know what the hell I’m talking about?” Then followed with, “This is why you don’t let an old Jew do these things during the day when they should be home having acid reflux.”  I had the best time.

Prior to the concert, I was up early after maybe seven hours of sleep, shaved and showered, moseyed on over to the theater, which I realized I didn’t really need to do and shouldn’t have because there was nothing to really do.  I did adjust the positioning of a desk – my fourth attempt, and this one finally worked.  But after that, there was nothing to do but a line-through, so I hung out downstairs for a bit (we had to be upstairs because it was a set building day), and then moseyed on over to the Autry, getting there way earlier than needed.  We’d been warned that parking was going to be nutty because yesterday was “free museum day” everywhere and it was indeed jammed.  I lucked out and got the one good space left.  The conductor had also gotten there early, so we chatted, and then went into the café and ran into Marshall Harvey and the videographer, so we all sat together until they finally opened the theater.  Then we just had to wait until it was show time.  It was another sold out show.  Oh, one other funny off-the-cuff thing: They’d just finished two songs from the film Where’s Jack?  I went up and said, “Where is Jack?” and at that moment, some guy came down to the first row and sat down.  I said, “Nice of you to join us – Jack’s here.” That got a big laugh and I said, “Henry come up here and do your opening remarks again, he missed them.”  And I played off that guy several more times.  He came up to me after and told me how much fun he had.

Then they had a dinner for us at a nearby eatery, the same place as last year.  And it was the same deal – too noisy, forever to get food, and I got a headache there.  I had a bacon cheeseburger that was okay, along with some fries, and then I came right home.  Once home, I relaxed, listened to music, proofed about twenty pages, and relaxed some more.

Today, I have to be up at eight-thirty again, then we have our full cast again and we’ll do a run-through, but upstairs, since it’s another set building day downstairs. I’ll probably let everyone go unless we need to fix or run anything.  Then I have to be back at five to record some random voices.  Not sure if we’ll do the other pre-records then or if we’ll wait until mid-week, which may be the better bet.  After that, I’m coming home and relaxing and proofing.

Tomorrow is a ME day.  I’ll only proof and do some work at the piano.  I had to come up with one other bit of incidental music for the play and I did and I’ll get that recorded.  Then on Tuesday we begin run-throughs again and that goes on until Sunday, which is a dress/tech.  I have some meetings during the day, and one huge miracle is really needed or I’m not certain how exactly I’ll survive the next week.  It would be so nice if things could just be easy every now and then, but alas… We begin tech Friday and that’s the weekend.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up at eight-thirty, do a run-through, eat, hopefully pick up packages, record, and then come home 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, so happy to have had such a wonderful last performance of the concert, filled with music and laughter.

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