I’m a fan Fridays!

doctor-who-christmas-carol-movie-image-matt-smith-01In honor of Sunday’s opening of “A Christmas Carol” at The Media Theatre and tomorrow night’s “Doctor Who” 50th Anniversary celebration, I’m bringing you something very special for this edition of I’m a fan Fridays!

A few years ago, the “Doctor Who Christmas Special” was an adaptation of my favorite holiday story.  What a treat it was to have two of my favorite things mash-up together!  You should treat yourself and find the entire episode this holiday season!  Enjoy!

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I dreamed a dream of times gone crazy

The_Scream_by_nalissisThere’s a bit of anxiety inherent in what I do for a living.

I prepare for a significant amount of time to be able to put on costumes, get up in front of people (the more the better!) and pretend to be someone else (or multiple people, sometimes) for about an average of two hours at a stretch, depending on the job.

It’s the preparation time that gives me the anxiety, especially if it’s a one-person piece like my adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” which, coincidentally, I’m opening at The Media Theatre in Media, PA on Sunday evening.

When I get this close to an opening of a show, things get a little hairy, and I’m really no good to anyone.  I don’t sleep well, so I disturb my wife; I sometimes completely forget about appointments even though I have them in my calendar, so I upset my friends, my kids, and people I do business with; and I sort of wander around, lost in thought like Norstadt in “The Man Without A Face.”

I also have weird dreams like the one I had this morning…

It’s this coming Sunday, and it’s less than a half an hour before curtain on the opening performance of “A Christmas Carol.”  I’ve decided that I need to go out and get something I forgot that I desperately need for the show.  The thing is, I’m not sure what I’ve forgotten, I’m not sure where I’m going, and I’m riding around town peddling my guts out on a tiny tricycle I don’t recognize.  It’s not even my color.  I should have a red tricycle and this thing’s blue!

So I’m peddling around when I get a call from the stage manager.

“Scott?”

“Hi!  Yes. What’s up?”

“Well, it’s time.”

“Time for what?”

“Time for the show to start.  You need to go on.  There are people here and they’re getting restless.”

“Oh, jeeze, right!  Yes!  Uh, okay, I’ll be right there!”

“Where are you?”

“I’m not exactly sure.  But I’m on a tricycle, so I’ll be just a few minutes. I’m on my way!”

And then I woke up.

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I’m a fan Fridays!

vertigoWell, it’s been quite a week!  We closed “Spamalot” at The Media Theatre on Sunday, and now I’m in full on preparation/panic mode for my one-man “A Christmas Carol” that goes up in two weeks at the same theater.

I’m a bit bummed because I’m going to have to withdrawal from this year’s Philadelphia Marathon.  I’m sad about that because I’ve really worked hard.  Unfortunately, I’ve been suffering from BVVP (aka Vertigo!), and I haven’t been able to put in the miles over the last couple of weeks that I’ve needed.

It’s been more than a little scary the past few weeks, as this condition is no respecter of where you might be and/or what you might be doing when it comes on you like “a bad lobster in a dark cellar” (not exactly sure what that means, but it’s my favorite line from “A Christmas Carol!” Suffice it to say, vertigo happens very suddenly and with very little warning).

It came on me twice while I was on stage and, needless to say, it freaked me out.  The first time it happened, I almost fell into the orchestra pit.  Luckily, I was headed off stage at the time and made it to the wings. Believe me, nobody wants to fall on top of the brass section!  They get upset about stuff like that!

I’ve got some medication and we’ll see what happens, but let me tell you, it’s no fun at all.

So, in honor of this condition that has me spinning, I give you a scene from a classic film, with a classic score and one of my favorite actors.  Enjoy!

I’m a fan Fridays!

dannykayeEvery night, during every performance of “Spamalot” at The Media Theatre, I find myself thinking about and trying desperately to channel the spirit of the great, Danny Kaye.

This show is full of brilliantly written comedic moments as well as several opportunities to play with the audience, making it just a little bit different every time.

I think of Danny Kaye for several reasons, but the main one takes me all the way back to graduate school.  As a vocal music major at Oklahoma City University in the mid 1990s, I spent a good deal of time in the library in the music school listening to records, cassettes and CDs (remember any of those ancient things?) and watching videos of great performances.

My first day there, I came across this VHS cassette (did he just say VHS?) of Danny Kaye conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.  It looked interesting, so I popped it in the player and put on the headphones.  After about the first five minutes, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  When I turned around I saw the librarian with a very stern look on her face.  Apparently, I had been laughing so loudly I was disturbing the other students!

This performance, captured forever on video (thank God!!), changed my life!  When I saw this man exude the type of joy that can only come from complete immersion in total bliss, and how he was able to bring everyone along with him on this truly beautiful journey, I knew that I wanted to be as much like him as I could be in my career.

I play a lot of “creepy” characters and villains in my line of work, and I love it, it’s fun and often very challenging.  But, on the whole, I have to say, I prefer making people laugh and bringing them joy.

Some say you can’t teach comic timing.  I disagree completely!

If I have any sense of timing (and my mother says I do, so there!), I owe the vast majority of what I’ve learned to watching Danny Kaye work his magic, particularly in this video.

I present to you, on this very rainy Friday morning here in Philadelphia, one of my rays of brilliant sunshine!  It’s only a clip from the beginning of the evening, so, if you’ve got time later, treat yourself to the entire performance on YouTube.  It’s out of print and can only be found there.

Enjoy!!

We eat ham and jam and spam a lot!

spamaloticonRight now, through November 3rd, I’m having the time of my life playing King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Media Theatre in Media, PA.

Here’s a little, sort of “backstage” look inside the show.  Check it out!

I’m a fan Fridays!…It’s Opening Night!!

spamaloticonIn honor of Opening Night for “Spamalot” at The Media Theatre, where I am playing King Arthur (one of my dream roles), I give you one of my favorite scenes from the movie on which the Broadway musical is based.

Like so many people, I remember quoting lines from this great classic during my high school days.  Watching these grown men be so silly, and make a career doing it, completely sealed my fate.

From the moment I first saw this film in Pappy Parker’s Shakespeare class my junior year, I longed to play scenes like this one for a living.  Now, I’m not only playing scenes like this one, I actually get to play THIS scene seven times a week!

How does life get any better?

Enjoy the clip, and, if you’re in the neighborhood, come on out to my court at Camelot!  The cast is wonderful!!  We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot, so bring your appetite for laughter!

 

The detours can make for a trip worth falling for

roadblockRunning can teach you many things.  At the very least, it can remind you of something you already knew but might have forgotten, an idea or a little tidbit of life philosophy that gets buried beneath the stress and strain of daily life.

I’m currently staying in a small, country town called Kennett Square while rehearsing for a production of “Spamalot” at The Media Theatre in Media, PA.

The area around where I’m staying is some beautiful countryside, with some pretty tight, two-lane roads.  There are plenty of hills, gorgeous views, and the occasional farm animal like my new friend in the pic below.

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It initially took some time with the map but I figured out this really nice 3-mile run that I could also extend to a 5-miler with a simple turn off.  Yesterday morning I set out on the 5-mile course but got only a mile and a half in when I came upon the road closing.  The workers were paving the road.  I could either turn around and head back to the house or turn left where I would normally head straight on.

I was a little nervous about the turn into the “unknown” as it were, but I figured, Hey, let’s do a little exploring!

My phone (which my wife will never let me run without, bless her) has a nice map system, but I wasn’t sure how far this new route would take me.  As I made my way along the unfamiliar roads, I was reminded of how running can be a sort of microcosm of my life.

When I got to the roadblock, I had the choice to turn back or go on.  After I made the choice to go on, I had the choice to get upset about it and maybe even panic, or I could enjoy the new route and take in all of the beauty that I never expected to see.

I love my job. I’ve been blessed and very fortunate to do what I love and squeak out a modest living.  Sometimes, though, things happen that go in the direct opposite direction of the one I had planned.  This happens to everyone in one way or another, I know.   It’s just that yesterday was one of those days when that lesson got very real.

I am so grateful to have been surrounded by such a wonderful group of people.  How co-workers react to difficult situations can make for a beautifully uplifting experience or an absolute hell.

Yesterday, on the whole, I witnessed the best of what people can be: compassionate, caring, uplifting, and loving.  I was reminded that I always have a choice about my attitude and, most times, that’s the only choice I’m going to get.

In a world where we’re under the terrible illusion that we can have certainty and security about anything in our lives, one thing I know for sure: how I treat other people is entirely up to me.  In every moment, in every encounter, I choose, in a split second, to act in a way that uplifts the other or feeds my own ego.

I have never found that doing the latter has ever done anything for me.

All I know is, I want to surround myself with the type of people who remind me daily that loving somebody is never a waste.

Thank you, my fellow cast mates and crew members.  You reminded me that taking the road less traveled can lead to some beautiful scenery!