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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I contributed songs to a series of 10 new one act plays called "Love Bites" which ran at the Neighborhood Playhouse tonight, Tuesday, May 17th, and last night. At first I thought the title referred to computer bytes because I remembered going to the Neighborhood Playhouse to see a reading of a musical about the love affairs of the computer dependent, among whom I count myself. No. These are hickeys, plain and simple, and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed introducing each one with a song.

Patricia Watt produced the series and Steve Ditmyer directed it. Steve picked out the songs from a collection I assembled for the occasion. We chose "Absotively Posilutely (Through with Love)" to open and close the evening. That's the Keely Smith/Louie Prima style song that Owen Kalt and I wrote for our musical adaptation of "Next Stop Greenwich Village" in 1993.

On the first night, the show opened with the one man dream play, "Hymie's Angel" written and performed by Jamie Lorenzo. You could see him grow from his experiences in Hell's Kitchen as he relived them with us.

Dan Calloway sang "Never Too Sure," (1980) a kind of catch-all song about distant memory recognition relationships... "Haven't I seen you somewhere? Haven't we met before?" That introduced Craig Pospisil's devastatingly blunt inner monologues of four people misreading one another. Basically, although they yearn elsewhere, the two men give into the wills of their women companions. It establishes hell on earth for all, and in addition was a great acting vehicle for Jamie Bennett, Danny Cleary, Jane Petrov and Darcie Siciliano.

The play that promised to make the whole evening superficially obscene turned out to difuse itself into a subject worthy of awareness; and if you already examined the subject (I believe John Giorno has...), then this play would be a compendium of redundancy, since everthing anyone could imagine was imagined and/or assembled for us from modern art history by playwright David Brandon Harris. The characters were likeable, especially the bad Russian painter who spoke the word as a multispectrum woof: "Piss." I played incidental music (Doomy, Colonial Williamsburg and an instrumental Mountain Casino) during that. Dan introduced "Piss" with an excerpt from the aptly titled song "Golden Age," (1997) which includes the lines, "That stream is mine." and "Please put it away!" Stephanie Rose directed with all her heart. It featured Colette Bryce, Dan Callaway, Ben Hersey, Gregory Korostishevsky and Marina Kotovnikov.

The transfiguring "Almond Eyes" introduced "Rewind," a play by Renee Flemings about gameplaying childhood sweethearts who grow up to be parting lovers. Given that there is a real gun in the boy's house, it confirms the black girl's mother's quote that white people are scary. Erica Ash and Michale McEachran shared chemistry in the roles.

Darcy Siciliano sang the early song, a last minute inclusion, "Resume" (1979) to open the young man/older woman conversational exchange of hopes and dreams called "The Keeper of My Dignity." It could indeed be called The Keeper of My House, because the boy's family occupies the older woman's home and learns, and is nearly sucked into, all the past curses therein.

The next night opened with Craig Pospisil's "Whatever." He described it as a spinoff of Poe's Raven, but it seems to be about a needy, dependent woman (perhaps Megan Bryne) exerting her dominance over her inquisitive reality-checking friend (perhaps Cassandra Seidenfeld). They both recently lost boyfriends. They both stay in for the night.

Darcy sang an ominous "I Love You Much," (1979) introducing the monologue "Rebound" by Georgia Metz, performed by Helen Lantry which had attributed celebrity status to a descendent of Calvin Coolidge. The casual sex convincingly degenerates into anger.

"Never Too Sure," as a duet this time between Darcy and David Macaluso, opened Con Chapman's "Welcome to Endive." There's a long standing mountain restaurant in Danbury Connecticut called Ondine. Same restaurant? It was a full meal for three couples without the food featuring Margot Avery, God Engle, Barbara Halas, Christine Pedi and Joseph Schommer.

"Good Way to Be" opened Father Figure. Make no mistake, the truth can make you damned (A well-adjusted husband admits to his wife his approval of his childhood abuse by his father.). However, the instinctive protection a mother affords to her unborn child is what keeps us, the human race, alive over time. Thanks, mom. Michael Patterson and Colette Bryce played the husband and wife.

We used the "I've Come to Know Them" part of the song "Love them Both" (1997), changing the line "I've come to love them both," to "I've come to know the truth" as the opener for Bruce Jay Friedman's economical play The Trial, a powerful confrontation showing the triumph of the pure at heart. (His characterization of God in his play, "Steambath," made a lasting impression on me. ) Stephen Bradbury and Paul Haller saw themselves as interchangable in playing the two roles.

Singer David Macaluso's opera training allowed me to play a big piano accompaniment to the last song.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I did go out this weekend. I saw on Saturday "Music from a Sparkling Planet." It had a poignant production beautifully acted and staged at The Amateur Comedy Club, directed with all the non-sequitor challenges surmounted by Scott Glascock, whom I know as a fellow Lamb. This play explains why playwright Douglas Carter Beane wrote the screenplay for the upcoming Bewitched. It also alerts us to the volatility of the late baby boomers who had their deepest relationships with television. The bursting optimism of fictitious TV personality Tamara Tomorrow is stimulating. What will the future bring? There's a Manhattan public access guy who always says what Tamara says in the play, "I'll see You in the Future!" Anyway, as we learn about her past in the play, we observe three mid-life crisis fellows uncover her present whereabouts.

Oh Brave New World!

I didn't live in Phillie where Mr. Beane's fabulous construct is set. The days of neighborhood networks are past; well, we have Manhattan Neighborhood Network, but not those cartoons in syndication... I'm sure we do somewhere.

Do I regret that the highlight of my youth was the films or TV shows that I saw?

I currently also demand unrestricted access to foreign broadcasts.

The other highlight on Sunday was a film that followed the Arlene Grocery Picture Show Screening of "Songs from Prepare to Meet Your Maker #10." What followed was a film called "Farming with Stanley." It's an impressively paced family documentary about a fascinating topic, tobacco, a sticky big leaf plant with tar residue. I want to buy a pack of camels.

There is a feeling of Deja Vu about this film. I spoke with someone about this, perhaps the filmmaker, once before, probably at Anthology during the Dolemite event, and basically repeated the exact questions I asked today. Anyway, I'm glad David Hollander scheduled the two films back to back because it reminds me, I should really considered going to Philip Morris for PTMYM funding.

There was a Camel cigarette photograph, backlit for barroom placement, of a woman, complexion blue as death, with smoke escaping from her face, which caught my eye during our performances at SideWalk.

My noticing and remembering this ad better than a conversation I might have had two months ago is an indication of my late baby boomer status, where an artistic represention, even a Camel Cigarette poster, competes for the sum total of my human experience.

So the farming film is a reminder of how people commerce in the miracles of nature outside of the big cities. Obsessive drudgery is a trap for all, is all I have to say.

Please note, I'm feeling particularly self-centered and down on myself of late because of my abject failure as a husband.