Monday, December 10, 2007

California Road Trip

I lived in Los Angeles, off and on but mostly on, for 20 years before heading east to grad school. I've returned to the scene of all those crimes many times since leaving, but this has been the longest stretch between visits.

The problem seems to be that when I am out of work, I can't seem to justify to myself the expense of a vacation. And what if an audition pops up while I'm out of town? And when I AM working, well, there is no time to travel.

So, four years have slipped by.

I was lucky enough to snag a cheapo flight from National Airport to Burbank, rather than LAX, which is convenient to NOTHING except traffic getting to wherever you are going. I was UN-lucky enough, however, to be seated next to a gigantic woman in the middle seat who never relinquished the armrest. Not once, in five hours.

I picked up my bags from the baggage claim carousel, which is located OUTSIDE. Only in LA.

My hosts for my fortnight's stay are dear friends who kindly let me take over their guest bedroom and bath (Alternately known as "the west wing" and "Skipper's Guest Bedroom," after Barbie's little sister. Don't ask). I came and went as I pleased. I lined up some teaching at Notre Dame High School from my best friend Judy, who runs the theatre program there. Three days of my trip were spent running movement workshops for 40 energetic teen agers.

I also spent some time driving around the Valley, looking up some old haunts. Get a load of these swanky digs, where I worked several times during those formative years:

This is actually the Granada Hills Woman's Club, from which the Granada Theatre sprang, like snakes from Medusa.

This little hut housed some of my early and probably most eye-rolling performances. Sadly, my debut performance at Granada, as Motel the Tailor in "Fiddler on the Roof," seems to have gone undocumented (at least in photos; I write about the experience here). I admit I am most proud of my performance as Pseudolus in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum:

After "...Forum," I appeared as the neurotic drunk Dr. Einstein in "Arsenic and Old Lace:"

That's me overacting on the left. Note the hair, similar to Suzanne Pleshette on a bad day...

(I described my experiences in ...Forum and Arsenic here.)

I also attempted, and mostly failed, to play that tap-dancing ego-maniac "George M" during this period:

Ah, youth...

After a while, Granada Theatre gave up sharing their space with the Woman's Club, and moved into their own little theatre, where I appeared several more times. TWICE I played Prince John in original musical versions of Robin Hood:

I was also in an embarrassing original Christmas musical called "Winter's Magic." It was really just a cheap fund raiser for the theatre, which was always on the cusp of bankruptcy:

I'm sure the most fun I had during this period was as part of "Perfectly Frank," a musical revue of Frank Loesser's work:

The truth is, Granada was not an easy place to work, and I eventually outgrew the place. There was little chance of "being seen" by important industry people, and since I was waiting tables at the time, I usually lost money by being in the shows. And the pay? A single glass of wine after the show.

Still, I drove down to check out this second Granada space. I didn't take a picture. It's now a Korean grocery store.