The roundup

It turns out that July has been a pretty good month. All of the effort (and there was a lot of it) paid off and I’m feeling pretty good.

So let’s start with Bards in the Shell, since many of you have been asking about it.

After a week of excellent forecasting, the weather analysts turned against me on Friday the 21st. Suddenly, the ‘mainly sunny’ forecast turned to ‘thunderstorms’. Turning to the hourly forecast on Saturday morning, I discovered that thunderstorms were specifically predicted for 2-5pm.

And lest we forget, Bards in the Shell was scheduled from 1-5pm.

Yeesh.

We soldiered on. We got to the park, set up, and just kept going. We got everything set up, and when 1pm rolled around, we started the show. Okay, we were a little late getting started, but close enough.

And you know what? We made it. A few drops here or there, but no thunderstorms to speak of.

Darn weather forecasts.

Our audience ended up being around 70 people, and I’m both elated and disappointed about that. Elated because we had 70 people in spite of the bad weather predictions. Disappointed because I know the audience would have been so much bigger if only the forecast had been ‘cloudy’. But such is life.

The show itself was great, with some excellent performances. Our band started the show and, over the course of the day, played about 20 songs. Oh yeah, we picked up a name along the way, and are now known as “Enough with the Monkey”. That was Mike’s response to the other guys continuing to throw out names that involved monkeys.

Sometimes, things just feel right.

For the most part, things went smoothly, and I invite anyone who came out to chime in with your memorable moments. For me, there were three in particular.

The first was when I knocked over my saxophone stand. Yeah, not a great moment. I dented up my tenor a little and bent a post, but managed to get it working again in time for the show. Caught the baritone in time so that it only got scratched up a little. So memorable, yes. Memorable in a good way? Arguably, yes. I can tell you I won’t do that again.

Second memory was when I placed a long-distance phone call to England. Midway through the show, I called John, who founded Bards and broadcast his call over the sound system, so that everyone could hear him. That was a lot of fun, and worth the five bucks it cost me for the little speakerphone attachment for my cell phone. And the long-distance cost. Heck, it was worth it, just cuz I know he appreciated it.

Third memory was when I forgot the lyrics to “I Will Survive”. Actually, I didn’t forget them so much as I confused myself. I sang the first half of the first verse, then the second half of the second verse. Realized this during the chorus, and tried to fix it by combining the first half of the second verse with the second half of the first verse.

Yeah, that didn’t work.

I ended up fumbling somewhere in there while trying to wrap my head around it. And since the rest of the guys kept playing, I just kept singing about how I didn’t know where I was in the song. Apparently it was quite amusing, and you’ll be able to judge for yourself, soon enough. One of my tech guys taped everything on his DAT recorder.

How cool is that?

So yeah, good day. Great day. Tiring day.

With Bards in the Shell out of the way, I turned my attention to KWLT’s July One Acts. Built a set, had some dress rehearsals, and then got to the opening night.

The play I was in was written and directed by a guy I’ve worked with a few times at KWLT. He’s got a great sense of humour, and it really came through in this production. Rather than telling you about it, I think I’ll let The Record speak for me:

Hilarious whirlwind history lesson

LIANNE ELLIOTT

ST. JACOBS (Jul 29, 2006)

Imagine trying to summarize the entire history of the human race.

In just 30 minutes.

Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Not for Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre.

The theatre is staging a hilarious one-act play that attempts to chronicles every moment of life on earth, from the days of dinosaurs, to the fall of the Roman Empire, to the war in Iraq.

The play, written and directed by actor Michael Kearns, is one of three short plays the amateur theatre company is presenting back-to-back at the St. Jacobs Church Theatre this weekend .

While the other two plays didn’t dazzle me at opening night on Thursday, Kearns’ Ode to Humanity, or the History of the Human Race Abridged was a lot of fun.

Four actors — Kearns, Russ Wong, Adam Sanderson and Anthony Lajoie — re-enact the history of the world using the most ridiculous props, the ugliest costumes and the most over-the-top scenarios.

They move at lightning speed, from one snippet of history to the next.

You’ve got an effeminate Charlemagne, the great European ruler, wearing what appears to be a paper Burger King hat and boasting about his collection of bejewelled crowns.

Then there’s Cleopatra, Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar hitting each other with metal chairs on the Jerry Springer Show.

Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison go on Survivor to figure out who’s the best inventor and who should be kicked off the island.

The play pokes fun at everyone and spares no one, regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation.

Even the Pope can’t escape ridicule. He shows up with a Fed Ex box on his head and declares that it’s time to launch a good, old-fashioned crusade.

…Ode to Humanity is fast-paced, entertaining and well-acted.

Pretty cool, eh? Unfortunately, the reviews of the other two plays weren’t as positive. And that actually makes this a little tough, because I’m inclined to care more about the overall show–and the theatre company–than our individual production. Which puts me in the position of being proud of our show’s accomplishment, but a little down at the same time.

As it stands, our play just kept getting better every night. We started out with a strong show on Thursday, and our final performance was amazing. So Saturday was a really good day for me.

I actually started out Saturday evening’s show by giving the cell-phone speech. For the last KWLT production, I wrote a song parody of The Teddy Bears Picnic, in which I reminded people to turn off their cell phones, told them that there were two intermissions, and reminded them of our fundraising efforts to rebuild the theatre. It was pretty good.

Anyway, the house manager wanted me to do it again, so I wrote a new song on Friday and got one of my castmates to back me up on guitar. The song?

Secret Agent Man.

It was great fun. A lot of people knew we were going to do it, but a good-sized portion of the audience didn’t know what was up. We walked up front, my buddy sat down to play, and we went. It turns out that Secret Agent Man is in the perfect key for me to get a full projection. Here are the lyrics:

Once upon a time I saw a movie

An action comedy that was pretty groovy

But as the heroes went to kiss

A sound broke through the bliss

A cell phone ring set to the macarena

 

Turn your…cell phones off

Turn your…cell phones off

At least set them to vibrate

And don’t forget your pagers too

 

Tonight we’re showing three separate one acts

With two intermissions when you can go buy snacks

And don’t forget to use

The washrooms if you choose

Or else when you laugh you’ll ruin the church pews

 

Let’s go to the…lobby

Let’s go to the…lobby

Buy a chocolate bar some liquorice

 And a drink to wash it down

 

Our theatre burnt down back in 2001

Rebuild efforts haven’t been that much fun

So from eight to five next week

Come join us on Princess Street

For a barbecue, an auction, and a yard sale

 

We need…money

We need…money

To install a sprinkler system

Cuz it costs a lot of dough

 

We need…money

We need…money

Thank you all for your attention

We hope you enjoy the show

We only rehearsed it once quietly beforehand, but managed to pull it off perfectly for the audience…although I started laughing when I got to the first “We need…money” chorus. The audience loved it and we got a lot of applause.

So yeah, this is becoming a thing for me…and y’know, I don’t mind. I love doing things like this, because it starts the evening off so well and warms up the crowd. I’ve been joking that it’ll keep getting a little bigger each time. Add a bass player for the next show, then a keyboardist (someone already offered), then a drummer. Before you know it, the cell-phone speech will be a production unto itself.

Nah, I wouldn’t do that. The challenge is to start the show off with energy, but not steal focus from the actual performance. I won’t do that.

So yeah, the One Acts were great. Really worth all the time and effort that went in over the past two months, which is such a satisfying feeling. And that pretty much brings us today. Or yesterday, as the case may be.

Woke up a little after noon. Washed up, and went to the office around 1:30pm. Stayed there till just after 10pm.

Yep, like I said, I’ve been busy. And it called for a full day in the office prepping for a major presentation tomorrow. Didn’t bother me, though, since I knew earlier in the week that this would be the case. I only find it difficult to be in the office late or on a weekend when it’s unexpected.

That being said, I have to get up and be in the office at 7:30am…so maybe I should call this scatterthought what it is.

Long, drawn out, and complete.

Russ