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January 12, 2020:

THE MOUSE THAT ROARED

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, once again I must write these here notes in a hurry because, once again, I have a ten o’clock rehearsal for the play.  So, as long as I spent a large amount of my day and evening at the theater, let’s just start there, shall we?

Our rehearsal was productive and excellent.  The cast is terrific to work with and very willing to experiment and see what’s working best.  And they’re very quick, assimilating things instantly.  I let everyone go about twenty minutes early, and I stopped at the mail place to pick up – nothing – and then got three of those Subway slider things, came home, ate them, did a couple of book pages, and then I had our Kritzerland work session, which went very well and lasted just over an hour.

Then I went right to the book.  Truth be told, I have not done any futzing and finessing, as I wanted to keep mushing on – I’ll get back to futzing and finessing come tomorrow.  I somehow got about forty pages done, crossing the 500-page mark.  So, that was good.  I then had to shower and be on my way to the theater for our second to last performance, completely sold out.

I spent thirty minutes with our Miss Preen and gave her some pointers on the business she does.  Then we played our show.  I only knew a couple of people in attendance.  I did the pre-show speech and the house energy was a bit weird, although I did get them to laugh.  Then the play began and within five minutes it became very clear to me that there would be no laughs at all, and basically there weren’t.  It was a deadly audience in that regard, and I went to the lobby and stayed put for the first two acts.  But at the intermissions, everyone was acting like they were having a great time.  It was and will always be a complete enigma to me why audiences do not laugh out loud at that which is funny.  I’m smart enough to know and have certainly been around long enough to know there are quiet audiences, but this play has several sure-fire laugh-lines and gags in the first two acts and the most we got were titters from a few people.  And we were coming off of a VERY vocal audience from Friday night.

But I was proud of the company for not letting it drag them down.  They played their show as they play their show.  I got several texts from backstage asking me if the audience were fresh from the road company of Night of the Living Dead.  I then texted Barry Pearl and told him it was up to him to get these people to react.  And he could certainly hear the lack of it from backstage.  I told him to have Superman energy and to not let go until he had them roaring, whatever it took.  Then I went in and watched act three.

Barry, I’m happy to say, ran with my advice and had this all too quiet audience screaming with laughter within a minute of his entrance and he never let them go, never let them breathe or rest, a master class in zany, anything goes comedy, which I how we’ve built Banjo for this show.  The main gag with the cream puff went on and on and the audience was dying.  One of the other bits I gave Barry to do during the start of the Lorraine Sheldon scene, was to take a bowl of walnuts and crack them as emphasis on certain lines.  It worked okay, but I kept goading him on the have more fun and he did.  A couple of weeks ago, I suggested he put a couple of whole walnuts in his mouth – he did, and that was really funny.  Well, last night he must have had five walnuts in his mouth, and he went to town and I must say it was so funny that even Lorraine and Whiteside were cracking up and trying to hide it, which made it even funnier.  It went on for days.  When Lorraine starts with the mummy case, I have several great physical gags for Barry that always get a laugh – the key one of those was another laugh that went on for days because he embellished the bit with two walnuts in his hands.  Where was this audience for acts one and two, one wondered?  And the laughs continued through Miss Preen’s quitting speech and right through to the end of the play.  And then, most amusingly, the reaction to the curtain call would have led you to believe they’d just seen the greatest comedy ever staged.  The valuable lesson is that if you give ‘em a socko, howlingly funny third act, that’s what they go out with and that’s how they remember the evening. I hung out a bit after, then stopped at In ‘N’ Out for a cheeseburger and fries, as I was starving.

I came home, ate that, and then it was time to write these here notes.

Today, I’ll be up at eight-thirty again, I’ll shave, and then be on my way to the theater for a rehearsal.  I’m showering tonight so that I’ll have one less thing to do in the morning, at least that’s the plan right now.  Then I’ll attend our final show and I’m praying we’ll have a boisterous crowd so the show can go out on a high.  They’re planning to begin striking the set as soon as we come down, so I’ll take my leave, go eat somewhere, then come home and spend four or five hours with the book.

Tomorrow, I can sleep in a little bit, then I’ll spend however many hours it takes, futzing and finessing about 125-pages.  Once that’s done, then I’ll begin writing and I’ll stop around three and get ready and all purdy for the Ovation Awards.  I’ll drive to Doug’s house and Hartley and Dorathy and I will Uber to the ACE Hotel and get there by six at the latest, and hopefully a bit earlier than that.  Send all your most excellent vibes and xylophones on Monday and Monday evening.  Tuesday, I’ll write in the morning and early afternoon, and then we have our first Kritzerland rehearsal.  It was absolute insanity trying to work out the schedule, but it got done and so I’m looking forward to it and all our talented young folks.  On Wednesday, I’m hoping to deliver another large batch of pages to Muse Margaret – in fact, my real hope is that I’ll be either done with the book by then or within spitting distance.  And, of course, we have rehearsals every evening at seven, and one on Saturday morning.  Friday is our second Kritzerland rehearsal, Saturday is our stumble-through, and Sunday is our early brunch show, after which some of us will go downstairs and have some food.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up at eight-thirty, shave, rehearse, see our final performance, eat, and then write.  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, happy that we finally got our very quiet audience to roar with laughter.

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