Saturday, June 28, 2008

Washington Week in Review

It's been over a week since I completed my contract with the Madness of Shear. I had assumed life would now slow to a crawl, but this week, not so much. It's been an action-packed period, about which I suspect you are craving to know.

I have already mentioned seeing Julius Caesar at The Shakespeare Theatre Company on Saturday. The rest of the weekend, I was occupied with a staged reading for the Washington Stage Guild, who are launching a summer season of readings, similar to the spring season in which I participated. First up was a ghostly tale called Mary Rose, written by JM Barrie (of Peter Pan fame). I played Mary's father, who is spooked by Mary's habit of disappearing for days, or years, at a time, then reappearing as if nothing had happened. I always enjoy these readings for the Guild, which are low-keyed and fun. In fact, I'm scheduled to participate in another one this Sunday, but this one will have a twist. Due to scheduling problems, we will be reading the play absolutely cold, with no rehearsal. The pressure quotient just went up.

Monday was a quiet day, but Tuesday launched more activity. I had a costume fitting for my teeny tiny role in My One and Only, for which I was required to schlep to Baltimore. You can always tell when a role is really small: the screenwriter doesn't bother to name it. As a result, I was slated to play "Radford Teacher #2." At least it's a speaking role, which surprised the woman who greeted me at the production's offices on Tuesday. She mistook me for an extra. Ah, well. I was ultimately outfitted with a conservative brown blazer and slacks, and was directed downstairs to have my hair cut. The film takes place in the '50s, so all the men were being shorn and Brylcreemed. There was more confusion at this stage, as the hairstylist had been instructed to get specific direction from the costume designer before cutting the hair of any principal player. (I admit I rolled my eyes at that moniker; "Radford Teacher #2" has one lousy line, but because of it, I was being elevated above the level of the common actor, and being treated special.).

The hairstylist was actually quite good, and gave me a cut with which I can live, though she expressed consternation about my hair color. I had removed the gray from my hair for Shear Madness, and things were starting to grow back in. She got on the cellphone to the hair team "on set," to alert them that, when I showed up to shoot my scene the next day, they would be facing a "roots issue."
I was glad to get back in the car and escape this Hollywood-like atmosphere, and enter a world in which I was much more comfortable: Live Theatre. I was driving out to rural Pennsylvania to catch a weekday matinee at the venerable Totem Pole Playhouse. Several friends were appearing in their current production of Lying in State. The show was a very light-weight piece of fluff, the kind of thing upon which summer stock theatres like this thrive. My buddies Barbara Pinolini, Helen Hedman, Dustin Loomis, and Ray Ficca helped tremendously in covering up the holes in the script (which were many). Ray, who has been a member of the acting company out there for several years, is assuming the artistic directorship of the theatre next season, and I couldn't be happier for him. (This is a pic of Ray-Dude and Barbara.)

After the show, four of us shared a cozy meal at a local bistro, dining and dishing. Actors who travel away from home, and spend time in regional spots such as this, become a close-knit group. It is one of the joys of the itinerant actor, a pleasure I have enjoyed many times.

After our meal, I drove back to DC (about a two hour drive) to hit the hay for more fun on Wednesday. I had received word that my call time to show up for the filming would be 3:30 PM, which was an absolute blessing. It is not unusual for a film's call time to be 6 AM. The late afternoon schedule allowed me to attend a general audition in the morning for a theatre located in North Carolina. For some reason, this theatre had come to DC to see actors, and I was glad to get the chance to audition for them. I'm sure the auditors are still talking about my monologue from Equus.

After the audition, I returned home, changed my clothes, and hit the road again: back to Baltimore for my Big Budget Movie Gig...