TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOURSELF-PART 3

As we left you from our thrilling cliffhanger, this writer (aka “me”) was just offered a job interview to possibly become involved in a new start up cable TV channel that would feature nothing but movie news. The interview, should I accept it, would be held in a small office space located in the heart of Hollywood, USA, home of those moving picture stars–or at least not too far off from where those same stars found on the big and little screen tend to hang their designer hats.

To recap where we left off, I just got off the phone from the interview guy telling the man that I would accept his offer to head on over to his office in order to be the one to fit the vacancy that they were attempting to fill. That time would be two weeks away, so I had some moments to get myself ready for the big day. However, the place where this moment would occur was located some 1800 miles to the west. My assignment, should I still accept it, would be to get myself out there in order to meet up with these folks face to face.

Of course, I could fly out there. I could get there in a day, sit through the interview, and head back home perhaps the next day. I would only be gone for a three day period. The backside to this method would be the fact that I wouldn’t have any time to see any of the local sights, yet alone to the fact that I would need some kind of transportation to get from to and fro either by way of a car rental, or through public transportation.

Or I could drive, taking about two days to get there. However, once I’m in the city, I have a way to get from to and fro, and if I wanted, I would see whatever there was to see as I could get around and I wouldn’t be necessarily working against the clock. I didn’t have to come and go at a specific time slot. I would become at ease schedule wise.

About five years before, I took as a vacation a trip to the west coast, driving from Minneapolis (where I was living at the time), to the San Francisco area, traveling down the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles, and taking the trip back by way of the old Route 66 highway. Although this was a different trip and route, I still have the confidence to motor west for that length, as well as still owning the same car that provide my transportation back before!

So about less that a week before my interview would take place, I began my journey driving out to sunny LA for my interview to end all interviews. I hope LA would be sunny as to the day I left, I would be driving in a rainstorm! But that would be the least of my worries for the moment.

About two days later, I arrived at the City of Angles via the 10 freeway. The area, for what I remembered from my trip five years beforehand, didn’t change much. It was still as big and bustling as before. Downtown was downtown, while the rest of the area was just that as well. But my real concern was to find out where the job interview was going to take place. So with trusty map in hand–a street map I obtained from the local office of the AAA, I looked for the place in Hollywood on the map, based upon the address given to me.

In today’s post modern world, in order to find a place to go, one would whip out their smart phone machine, open a Google map app, type in the address(es) sought, and with a tap of the screen, one would know how to get from point “A” to point “B” within seconds with no real effort on the user’s part. But this episode being written took place some twenty five years before when phones were hard wired and maps existed on paper. Those car and wireless phones available were big, clunky, offered service that was just so-so, and was rather pricey for what was offered. Besides, those phones only sent calls and received calls. After all, a phone was suppose to just do that–right?

Anyway, the big day arrived. I was supposed to have my interview start at 1:00 PM. (They selected the time, not me!) I figured out how to get to the location as I had already mapped out the way to get there. Now all I had to do was to show up, answered a few questions interrogation style making sure that I would answer all of their inquiries the way they wanted, and in no time, I would snag that job-! Or so I hoped!

I arrived there about a quarter to one. The weather that afternoon was sunny, but very windy. Gusts of wind was blowing stray newspaper sheets across Santa Monica Blvd. It was rather chilly as well with temps around the upper 50’s. For what I was used to weather wise for middle February, this was rather warm. (Where I lived, temps hovered around the 30’s or 40’s!) But since I was wearing a business suit jacket, I would keep a bit of heat upon myself, although suit jackets were not meant to keep one warm.

The location was a small brick single story building located on SM Blvd’s north side, right next door to a lumber yard and across the street from a few low slung bland looking buildings. Obviously, this was not the prettiest street in Hollywood (and Hollywood Blvd itself didn’t look any better), but that didn’t matter for the moment. I wasn’t there for the view!

I entered the building that was right behind a metal fence. The lobby was a brick facade room that consisted from a front desk, a few chairs set aside as a waiting area that also sported a coffee table type furniture piece set between the two chairs that had back issues of The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety placed in a messy looking pile. Affixed upon the wall right behind the desk was a neon light that resembled a kind of sculpture pattern, making this sign more of a piece of art than a piece of advertising.

“My I help You?” asked the secretary seated behind the desk to find out the reason of me showing up that afternoon.

“I’m here for my appointment with Mr. ______ at 1:00 PM” I said, give or take a few words.

The secretary glanced at a schedule book located on her left side of the desk placed next to the multiline phone. She saw my named penciled in, and told me to take a seat off to the side. Once Mr. “X” was ready to see me, she would let me know.

“Thanks” I said, and took that seat the good secretary offered to me just a few seconds before.

I waited for what seemed to be five minutes. While seated, I glanced at the pile of THRs and DVs that were scattered about on the table. I picked up a copy of THR, noting that it was that day’s issue! It would be the first time that I held a copy of The Hollywood Reporter published for the same date that it was–not finding a “new” edition that was nearly a week old! Looking at that little miracle, I knew I was at the right place at the right time!

Just then, I heard my name called by the secretary.

“Mr. _____ is ready to see you now.”

I thanked the secretary, and headed toward a office space located down a back hallway. Once arrived, I noticed that the office had the same brick wall facade as the reception area. The office itself was dressed with a line of bookshelves along one side full of books (‘natch) along with a number of plaques that resembles awards of some kind. The furniture in this cozy yet large room consisted of a mix of classic modern (Eames design) and post modern (Eames knock off design). There was an oriental rug placed in the center of the room. And along one side of the same room was a large desk that had lots of desk items (phone, lamp, staple device, etc.) with a load of paper scattered about. Seated behind this desk was Mr. X. and seated in a chair right next to the chair that would be mine was another person whose purpose was never explained to me. I realized that this interview wasn’t going to consist of me vs. Mr. X. It was going to be a tag team affair between me, Mr. X, and Mr. Y. To be precise, Misters. X and Y were the tag team, and I was going solo. Perhaps I should have brought a second party along, making this other person my personal entourage? After all, this was Hollywood. However, I didn’t quite yet understand the rules and protocol.

“Have a seat” said Mr. X after a hearty handshake. I did was I was told, not really knowing how to react with this mystery person seated next to me.

“How was your trip here?” asked Mr. X, attempting to use this small talk as an icebreaker of sorts.

“It was good” I said. “I had no trouble getting to this location today.”

From there, we got into the interview process. Mr. X presented details to what this job expects from each candidate. He did ask about a bit about myself and what I did–the usual job interview questions. While I was seated down answering the questions in the correct way (or so I hoped), I glanced to the right of me, noting that Mr. Y had a note pad in his hand, jotting down bits to what I was saying. He was doing this while not speaking a word. I assumed that this was a secretary of sorts, making notations to what I was saying in reply to the many questions I was answering.

After what seemed to be a good while (Five minutes? Ten minutes? An hour?), Mr. Y finally spoke.

“I’m______., and I am the one that puts out fires.”

“Put out fires?” I thought. I assumed this was a job interview. What does this interview have to do with dousing flames? Was this building going to go up in smoke, or was this man speaking Hollywood-ese? It appeared that I needed to learn a lot if I was going to make a name for myself in this berg.

Then Mr. Y asked his questions, based upon the notes he jotted down. I can’t necessarily recall what those questions were or how I answered them, but I did my damnedest to get all of the facts right.

So after being interviewed by two people, Mr. X (the lead man) did inform me that there were others that were going to be interviewed (I assumed that), and that the final decision was going to be decided by the end of the month.

After saying I was pleased to be part of this interview and meeting these two, I shook Misters X and Y’s hands, got up, and walked out, nearly sprinting out to the lobby, out of the building, and off to my car placed along Santa Monica Blvd just a quarter block away.

After spending a day or so looking around town (Hey! I wanted to play tourist too, y’know), I made my trip back home, just being away for only a week’s time. It was to that point where I would have to play the game of hurry-up-and-wait. I would either receive a phone call or a letter in the mail with the final decision. Once I received that reply, I would either pack up and head out west as a eager young man, or I would just chalk up another interview down the tubes with the better-luck-next-year way to do things.

If appeared that after all of that preparation, the dive time to and fro, and all other antics associated with it all, it appeared that I received the latter reply. It seemed that the folks of Movie Time found some other joker that would be a better match as the letter received in the mail stated. They did thank me for dropping in and wished me luck in my job search.

It would be another year and a half until I did finally received a job offer in good ol’ LaLa-Land. It wasn’t in Hollywood, but in Burbank. (It was just as well as that part of Burbank was a lot better looking than the stretch of Hollywood I was interviewed at!) As for Movie Time? The channel was changed into what’s known as E! Entertainment (now part of the Comcast NBCUniversal portfolio) that offers those same movie news, as well as TV, music, and other forms of entertainment related tidbits with hearty doses of celebrity worship. The building itself is now a small recording studio that looks exactly the same as it did when I arrived there. The lumber yard is still there, as to those low slung buildings. At the time, the place looked rather dreary full of dumpy warehouses, Today, it’s bustling with a load of smaller playhouses and theaters that this same writer visits on occasion.

As for Mr. X and Y? Because I no longer recall their names, I can’t report on their current status. Perhaps they are still working in Hollywood. Or maybe they moved on to something else, or they could even be dead! It doesn’t matter much anymore. But this little first break in Hollywood epic tale was one that had to be told, even it it took three issues to fit it all in! But as they say (whoever this “they” is), that’s show biz!

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NEWS AND REVIEWS

     The Sierra Madre Playhouse presents for a limited run, the musical comedy EINSTEIN IS A DUMMY, a tale of a young Albert Einstein who had an idea that later changed the theory of everything that mattered.

This saga takes in account a twelve year boy who attempted to become a budding musical prodigy, playing the classical violin with little success. As a likable yet awkward kid, he didn’t show much musical talent. He’s tormented by a bully in his music class taught by the prim and studious Herr Schloppnoppdinkerdon, as well as having a crush on fellow music lesson classmate Elsa, who never gets Albert’s name correct. His only friend is a stray cat that he consults with. However, Albert receives an understanding. Not of his music nor his beating out his awkwardness, but a theory of time, space, light, and other elements that becomes part of the universe. Does this dummy know of something the other can’t grasp?

This charming musical with book and lyrics by Karen Zacarias and musical score by Deborah Wicks La Puma, is a “what if?” tale of a young Albert that could have been a musical artist, but just had other ideas in mind. This musical numbers are lively, the “book” is refreshing with right doses of humor, and would give the audience a very crash course of physics and related mathematical tech without going overboard on it all! (This is a musical, not a physics lesson!) It’s presented as a very family friendly piece, even ideal for school age kids to appreciate either as musical theater, the theory of relativity, the character of Albert Einstein, or possibly all three combined!

What makes this show a real treat is not only the performances of the cast of five (more on the cast roster in a moment), but the staging itself. Sean T. Cawelti provide the backdrop video effects, consisting of animated pieces that are in sync to the music as well as the action on stage, placed within Sarah Krainin’s set design consisting of a series of progressive arches akin to a “Hollywood Bowl”-type facade. Zakiya Alta Lee provides the choreography, while Deborah Wicks La Puma presents the transcribed musical direction.

This show features a rotating cast of players that are presented within different performances, consisting of Jonathan Brett as Albert Einstein, Molly Gilman as Cat, Thomas Anawalt as Constantin, Conor Lane as Herr Schloppnoppdinkerdon, and Katie Hotchkiss as Elsa–dubbed as “The Proton Cast”. The second ensemble (“The Electron Cast”) consists of Tyler Fromson as Einstein, Tara Bopp as Cat, Matt Severyn as Constantin, Alex Denney as Herr Schloppnoppdinkerdon, and Andrea Arvanigian as Elsa.

Directed by Christian Lebano, EINSTEIN IS A DUMMY is a tight one act show that is great for kids and pleasing for adults. It’s a stage musical that one can learn a thing or two, even if the lesson itself doesn’t require understanding time, space, and figures. As stated beforehand, it’s just fun musical theater!

  EINSTEIN IS A DUMMY, presented by and performs at the Sierre Madre Playhouse, 87 West Sierre Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, until April 12th. Showtimes are Sunday afternoons at 2:30 PM. For information and for ticket reservations, call (626) 355-4318, or via online at http://www.SierreMadrePlayhouse.org

     Note: This production performs in repertory with Putting It Together, a musical review featuring the songs of Steven Sondheim, opening on March 13th and runs through March 28th. Showtimes for Putting It Together are Friday nights, March 13th, 20th, and 27th at 8:00 PM, Saturday nights, March 14th, 21st, and 28th at 8:00 PM, Saturday afternoons, March 21st and 28th at 2:30 PM, with Sunday shows on March 15th at 2:30 PM, and on March 22nd at 7:00 PM. Use the above noted phone number and web site for information and ticket reservations.

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Santa Monica’s Morgan-Wixson Theatre presents the Brian Yorkey-Tom Kitt musical NEXT TO NORMAL, a sobering tale of one woman’s struggle between her spouse, her two offspring, and her inner demons.

The setting takes place in a middle class suburban bedroom community located somewhere in the USA. Amy Coles is Diana, the wife of Dan (David Meinke), and mother of teenage daughter Natalie (Zoe D’Andrea), and a son Gabriel (Billy Hicks). Diana suffers from a nonconformity that is linked to a bipolar thinking disorder. Donning a diet of prescription drugs with trade names beginning with an “X” and “Z”, she tries to cope in just getting by within her own domestic life. Her fellow clan also feels the effects of this disarray. Natalie, going through her many school based activities, meets fellow student Henry (Terrence Jegaraj) who feels the effects of Natalie’s mom that eventually morphs toward her. Diana receive treatment from her two doctors, Dr. Madden and Dr. Fine (Matthew Artson in a duo role). The remaining offspring Gabriel shows some effect but in a different method that Diana feels; again, within a unique motion. Will Diana ever regain her state of normalcy? Will Natalie find her personal happiness with Henry. Can Dan cope as much as his wife is attempting? And is son Gabriel a child that is there for his mom, or is he even there physically? These are some questions that one can face in postmodern society that may not have answers, if not holding to stable solutions.

This musical is in a way a direct bipolar opposite to a so-called traditional musical that involves people and situations. Instead of something that is upbeat and lively, this theater piece is just as cheerless and depressing as the lead character. The musical score is swiftly paced, quirky, and holds a method as to a contemporary opera. There isn’t much straight dialogue, so the majority of the vocalization is set to music. The entire cast of six players do possess the talents of keeping their harmonies in check. Although there are musical selections where two characters break out in song (so to speak), they never make any attempt to sing over the other. (There are no real group harmonies presented, because that would be more festive, and that defeats the musical subject matter’s purpose!)  Anne Gesling provides the musical direction that takes the transcribed sounds that syncs up to the character’s delirious demeanors as the plot progressive, if not retracts.

All of this action is set in pace by Nicole Dominguez’s fine stage direction and choreography. Although there is choreography present, there isn’t any dancing per se. Again, any harmonious singing and dancing means that its downbeat persona would become upstaged, defeating the purpose to this musical’s hard meanings!

A special note goes to William Wilday’s set design of the household of Diana that consists of a cutaway set of a two story homestead one can find in nearly any suburban bedroom middle class community, featuring the same suburban middle class people that endure through their own trials and tribulations.

NEXT TO NORMAL holds on to a motto that is extracted from one of the lines stated that “life (is) one f*ck-up from disaster!” This notion is a sad yet true stance that takes place every day in nearly every domestic location where prescription drugs are made easily available. It isn’t often where a stage musical, an element that showcases the fantasy world, can hit home that is something that is real and doesn’t necessarily have a musical soundtrack. This episode can happen down the street, right next door, or to even you! This production as presented by and at The Morgan-Wixson Theatre is worth a good and hard look!

NEXT TO NORMAL, presented by the Morgan-Wixson Theatre Guild, and performs at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, until April 4th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. Special audience talk backs featuring the cast speaking about the production and their characters will take place after the performances of Friday, March 13th and Sunday, March 29th

     For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 828-7519, or visit online at http://www.Morgan-Wixson.org. 

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2015 Linear Cycle Productions.

All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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