Tuesday, May 24, 2011

O Lilac Time

Glorious scents! Our Spring is slow moving this year. Cooler weather and rain has kept many blossoms in their prime.

Does it bother anyone when an author references a plant, animal, mineral in the wrong time of year? It really makes me unhappy. I get fussy and stuck on it.

There are several poems in What the Living Do by Marie Howe that place magnolias and lilacs in the wrong time of year in Rochester NY. Whenever I see the blooms, I think maybe it was a really cool year and Marie saw this, but even in our coolest seasons, it's never June. Makes me wonder about truth and image. I can see the reasoning of saying pop bottle over pop can, if it makes the music of the line~ But, inserting nature when it can't possible be bothers me. Gawd, I'm such a purist.

Although, there was a day in my teenage past with Marie, it was April, a rainy, sullen day and we went into a florist shop on East Avenue and there were daffodils everywhere-- all that yellow made us giddy.We bought bouquets. I can't remember who we gave them to, but we place them on the dashboard of her car called "Pedals." The sun was shining on the inside. The music was blasting. We were happy in spite of everything.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Phase: Summer Cometh Slowly

Task: to create a writing manifesto that will unfold like a state map-- full of wonder and two lane highways, places I've been to before, but will see with a sense of renewal-- perhaps this summer will be my immersion into "the uncluttered." I think my life has a lot of clutter-- physically, mentally, which really messes with spirituality. The clutter comes in degrees of busyness. Busyness begets paper, piles upon piles of paper. Small thoughts, large thoughts, thoughts to build an empire. Thoughts that may inspire a change or maybe encourage a new set of muscles (I'm so polite-- drop and give me twenty is what's really going on in my head). I don't care if the muscle is mental or a full press workout. To think I may celebrate my birthday in September with a new outlook. This is the plan. Take a deep breath and don't hold it, just breathe and get back to the natural cadence.

Thus far:

Drinking 100 oz of H2O a day. Giving new meaning to float the boat.

Have started the daily cycling or better known as "spying on the neighborhood."

Re-discovering a sense of wonder. 100 days of reading, writing and drawing.


This past weekend went to a poetry reading at Brockport's newest art gallery: A Different Path located on 27 Market Street. If you want to buy a one-of-a-kind gift for someone you love, this is a place to visit.

This was my first visit to the gallery. Just Poets Kitty Jospe and John Roche read a selection of their newest poems in a call and response-- braiding their voices into a hour set by switching themes on the last poem offered by one and picked up by the other.

Poet Tom Holmes (editor of Redactions) is the curator of this new series. Next reading will be in August to celebrate the I-90 Poetry Revolution based on a manifesto that he and Sean Thomas Dougherty put out as a challenge to all who believe . . .

Here's the manifesto: http://redactions.com/I-90_Manifesto.pdf

I enjoyed this reading very much. It's a lovely space. So glad I was able to attend.


Publishing News:

My poem "Waking, all the same" included in the recently released issue of The Meadowland Review www.themeadowlandreview.com It's an incredible issue. So pleased to be included.

Received the hard copy issue of The Prose Poem Project. Having this collection is such a gift.
Tony Leuzzi's "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart," and Janet Kaplan's "Chronicle: series of poems, and Karla Linn Merrifield's "The Talisman Artifact" and "Summer Morning in Muir Park" and many others-- all worthy of mention. This is a remarkable collection of prose poems.
I'm so pleased "Goldfish, Swimming" is included here.

Ah, onward!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Producers

The review says it all. This play is hilarious! They've added on shows, but seats are selling out.
Act now if you want to see the show!

City Newspaper Review of "The Producers"

THEATER REVIEW: Mel Brooks' "The Producers"

It takes enormous matzo balls to stage a show at the Jewish Community Center that features frolicking Nazi storm troopers literally singing the praises of the Third Reich. Granted, it's satire, tongue planted firmly in tuchus, and conceived by Mel Brooks, one of the most chosen of the chosen people. But I still held my breath for a good chunk of the jaw-dropping "Springtime for Hitler" sequence, waiting to see if anyone from the packed audience on opening night would walk out, boo, or spit at the flamboyant Fuhrer prancing about the stage belting, "Heil myself!" Thankfully, everyone was too busy laughing - as they should have been. JCC CenterStage's production of Brooks' "The Producers" is outrageously entertaining, a smart production featuring a solid cast that throws itself fully into the show.

"The Producers" debuted as a 1968 film with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder that told the story of loser theater producer Max Bialystock and his sniveling young accountant, Leo Bloom, who inadvertently discovers that a producer can make more money off of a flop than a successful show. So the pair sets out to find the worst play ever written, hire the worst director in the world, and offend all of New York before leaving for Rio with their ill-gotten old-lady money. Brooks re-envisioned the story as a Broadway musical in 2001, and it became a commercial and critical smash, winning 12 Tony Awards and packing houses for years. The stars from that show - Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick - reunited in 2005 for a film version of the musical, which was something of a flop. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere.

The current production at the JCC is directed by Danny Hoskins, who does a good job translating a big Broadway show to a mid-sized local stage. He's aided by strong work by choreographer Meggins Kelley, vocal director Sarah Mattison (not a bad voice in the show), a great orchestra led by Terrence E. Bacon, and some absolutely tremendous costumes courtesy of Gail Argetsinger (the quartet of Bavarian beauties decked out in giant pretzels, sausages, and beer steins are show stoppers alone). Of course, it helps that the show itself is a riot, with some catchy songs, outrageous characters, and that mind-blowing show-within-a-show in Act II.

Local stage veteran Steven Marsocci plays the lead role of Max Bialystock. Marsocci possesses a strong voice, a commanding stage presence, and some understated comic chops. He is good, but arguably too good: Marsocci occasionally comes off as too likable, and Max is, to be blunt, kind of a scumbag. Marsocci often nails the charming but shameless shyster - Brooks specializes in those kinds of characters - but at other times seems like a nice guy stuck in a bad situation. It's a delicate balance that's not consistently executed, but there's no denying his many talents, especially during his tour de force, "Betrayed."

Sharing the spotlight is Zachary Brown as Leo Bloom. Bloom's tics at first overwhelmed Brown's portrayal, leaving him more of a caricature than a character. But by the time the "I Wanna Be a Producer" number came around he seemed more comfortable in the role, and he went on to deliver a funny, believable, and beautifully sung performance.

The tragedy for the leads in a show like "The Producers" is that the cast of colorful supporting characters can sometimes overshadow them, and that happens to an extent in this production. Kristin Hopwood takes over the stage as soon as Ulla enters late in Act I, and when she's on it she's pretty much impossible to ignore. Hopwood is hilarious, a great singer and dancer, and utterly ravishing. Ulla dance again? Ulla can dance any time she wants, as far I'm concerned.

Ed Popil plays relentlessly gay director Roger De Bris, and later, in the musical within the musical, Adolf Elizabeth Hitler. His performances are big, bold, and polished, and Popil is completely committed to the giddy lunacy going on around him. He is well complemented by Christopher Tyler as Roger's partner-major domo-sidekick, and the two of them make a great comedic pair. I was disappointed whenever they left the stage.

But arguably stealing the whole show is Jeffrey Andrews as Franz Liebkind, the former Nazi turned aspiring playwright behind "Springtime for Hitler." Andrews has a background in comedy, and is a member of both Unleashed! and Broken Couch improv troupes. Here he uses those comedic skills to take an already ridiculous character and make him even more outrageous, nailing every opportunity for a laugh, from his accent to his singing and dancing to his impressive physical comedy. Andrews does not waste a single second on that stage.

Many members of the ensemble also get a chance to shine in smaller roles. Big laughs were generated by Meghan Rose Tonery as both Hold Me, Touch Me and the pitiable would-be chorus girl, Michael Ciaccia as one of the little old ladies, Douglas Dohr as the Nazi soloist, Brian J. Maxwell as the actor with the speech impediment, Michelle Brown as a sassy chorus girl, and Steve Levins as the gruff CPA.

Hoskins and his cast and crew clearly put a great deal of effort into the show's nearly two dozen musical numbers, and all of them are executed beautifully, from the swish-filled "Keep it Gay" to the choreographed walker-wielding grannies in "Along Came Bialy." The show does have some pacing issues in the non-musical parts, especially early in Act I. And while most of the comedy is hits big, one recurring gag with the characters repeatedly interacting with something on the floor of the stage did not translate at all.

Mel Brooks' "The Producers"

Through May 22

Jewish Community Center, 1200 Edgewood Ave.

$16-$24 | 461-2000 x235, jcccenterstage.com

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ultimate Dog Tease

Weekend Updates

From the nursery: another duckling arrives! Considerably smaller than its nearly week-old sibling.They grow so quickly. At first, the older duckling was picking on the little one (ugh! siblings) But it stopped and now they're glad to be side by side.

From the podium: Nick crossed the threshold and took his diploma. Ta-da! This was a long awaited day--such a thrill for Peter and me. All of our children have degrees that were accomplished in a timely way. Let's see, George was on time (He also has a law degree and is a practicing lawyer); Meghan Rose graduated a whole year ahead(She's a practicing actress and doing well), and Nick added a year to complete a second major(soon he'll be off to Europe). I'm basking in a feeling of completion. It won't last for very long, because there is always more to do. But, for this weekend, I'm so happy. This is the best Mother's Day gift!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Since I Last Spoke to You . . .

Despite chilly, rainy weather, the days of April clicked by on tiny heels . . .The semester came to a surprising end. Finals week began on Easter Monday. The whole week spent reading and grading. I was finished by Friday April 29. This is a most satisfied feeling.

Now it's Senior week. My son Nick is graduating on Saturday. It's going to be a thrill watching him receive his diploma. Another threshold crossed. Hurray! We're all so happy for him. Meghan's in the musical The Producers at JCC and it's opening this weekend. Peter's one act play My Best Friend is one of the Regional Writers Showcase winners. There will be a staged reading on May 9th at GeVa Theatre Center. His play is just stunning. The staged readings are well-attended, so if you're going to come to the event. Plan on getting there early. It's in the Next Stage at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are free, but you have to call GeVa: 232-GEVA to reserve your tickets.

Went to NYC , Sunday until late Tuesday night. Spring is there in high gear. Warm weather, sunny skies, people sharing meals outside under awnings. Love in the air. Springtime in NYC. Didn't get enough time to enjoy the city. Spent most of it inside at an appointed duty. Nevertheless, was glad to be there for those few days. Came back to cold weather ( a drastic difference). Hopefully today will be a bit warmer. At least the sun is shining. We have had so much rain. Everything is so soggy. Still, we have to move forward, making plans for our vegetable gardens.

Yesterday, went to my office at St. John Fisher to do some program work. Accomplished a lot. Then had a wonderful time at the English department's Senior dinner. The turn out was exceptional. So wonderful to see how happy all the graduates were. The talk was both a looking forward and a looking back. Good moods all around.

Our first two duck eggs hatched. These eggs are being cared for by our broody hen, who has been diligent. One duckling survived its birth and is thriving. Now living under a warm lamp and eating and drinking on its own. We're waiting for the others to arrive. Hopefully soon, because that little duck is growing by leaps and bounds.

Think SUN!! We need to warm up and dry out here on the farm. Will keep you posted on our nursery news.