The photo was taken by William Cohen, father of the baby who is barely visible on the table, and the label is in his own hand. Maternal grandfather Meyer Morritz is on the left and the Mohel is on the right. Quite frankly, and fortunately, I have no memory of the occasion.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Last night was the last rehearsal of Much Ado About Nothing before we move into Carlson Park in Culver City for the beginning of tech rehearsals leading up to the opening of Culver City Public Theatre's (CCPT) 2007 season on July 14. Both Much Ado and the Popcorn Children's Theatre production of King Midas will hold rehearsals in the park the next 2 Saturdays and Sundays. Some of the local residents enjoy watching these rehearsals to see how the play develops in the performance space.
Most everybody is now off book (unfortunately, that does not yet include The Ancient One) and developing their characters and on-stage relationships. Most of it looks good although some of us still have a long way to go. But we all will be ready for opening day.
Below are some pictures from last night's rehearsal. Thanks to friend and cast member Rex Hoss for taking the shots in which The Ancient One appears.
Ancient One (Dogberry) with Sharon Savene (Seacoal) [L] & Milton Chen (Oatcake) [R]
Jim R. Felton (Benedick) with Susan Odom (Margaret) [L] & Tanya Gorlow (Beatrice) [R]
And now back to running lines. . . .
Okay, I promise, from now on there will be no more moon shots.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
It always seems to add excitement to the preparation of a production when the actors see the first costume pieces. Often, the final costume ends up very different from the first that is tried on but the initial fitting brings the play closer to be a reality. At last night's rehearsal of CCPT's
King Midas, we had our first encounter with the costumes that Andi Toaso is putting together for us. Below are a few pictures of characters in costume pieces. It will be interesting to see how they develop between now and our July 14 opening.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
On June 18, after leaving rehearsals for CCPT's Much Ado About Nothing, Director Ken MacFarlane was in conversation with a couple of cast members in the parking lot outside the Veterans Memorial Building in Culver City. He stopped mid-sentence and exclaimed (something like), "Look at that moon." Now that is an unusual statement in an urban setting. So, out came my camera and I tried to capture the crescent moon that appeared that evening. Here, in Ken's honor, is the result.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
We returned from San Diego this afternoon where we celebrated the 85th birthday of Sy Brenner and the 58th anniversary of his marriage to Resa. What a weekend, that was full of surprises for Sy.
The least of Sy's achievements is that he is my father-in-law. More important is that he is husband to Resa; father to Donna, Ron and Mo; Zaidi (grandfather) to Bill, Alicia, Seth, Megan, Sara and Dylan; great-grandfather to Jolee and Shayna.
Most of his adult life, Sy was a salesman, carrying several lines of children's clothing and selling to stores throughout the Southwest. When I met him in the early '70s, he wasn't on the road any more but was located in downtown Los Angeles at the Mart. When I married Donna in 1981, he welcomed me into the family as if I had always been a member (which isn't too far from the truth. . . but that is for another time).
In the last 15+ years, Sy's life has been dominated by use of his experience as a POW in World War II as a means to personalize history to young people in classrooms in both the LA and San Diego areas, helping educate military trainees on the prisoner experience, and the writing of a book on his life as a POW which eventually will be published and shared with all who might care.
For me, Sy has been as much a friend as a father-in-law, after all he is only 15½ years my senior. What Sy has meant to his grandchildren was reflected in "Instant Zaidi" which was written by my son Bill (aka on the net as BillyBlog) [Maybe Bill will post it on his blog.]
Below, I add some pictures from the party last night at Jamacha Junction in the San Diego/El Cajon area.
Grandchildren (from left) Alicia, Sara, Megan, Seth & Dylan
From left: Marilyn and Nephew Alan Simon, Resa, Sy and Rev. Bill Mahaedy
The whole party
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
It's just 3 weeks until the opening of Culver City Public Theatre's 2007 season. I am usually off-book by this point in the rehearsal process. . .but I am not usually facing the challenge that this summer presents. I've done 2 plays at the same before but not with the lead in one of them. And, as I've mentioned in earlier posts, this is my first venture into Shakespeare.
I really love both King Midas and Dogberry. They are such wonderful characters. I am delighted to be part of 2 truly outstanding ensemble casts. I am confident that I will be ready for opening day. But, for me, this coming week is crunch time. With a lot of work and a good dose of luck, I should be ready to leave the script backstage when we do our first rehearsals at the performance site, Carlson Park in Culver City, the weekend of June 30-July 1.
So, wish me luck. . . AND . . . plan to join us in the park starting July 14. Admission is free. The full summer schedule can be seen by clicking on the CCPT name in the first paragraph above.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
The King Midas shots below, although on my camera, were actually shot by Milcah Matos and Maria Turnmeyer.
And from the Much Ado rehearsals:
From Left: Rex Hoss (Balthazar), Matt Van Winkle (Prince), John Glass (Claudio) and Jim R. Felton (Benedick)
From Left: Barb Ross (Antonia), Tanya Gorlow (Beatrice), Kat Bylska (Ursula), Teresa Waxer (Verges & Attendant) and Shannon Pritchard (Hero)
Tanya Gorlow (Beatrice) and Jim R. Felton (Benedick)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Younger son Seth returned yesterday from a driving trip to Northern California. With him came a Father's Day Gift I assume he picked up along the way. I picture it below at the risk of exposing some of my deepest political feelings and biases. . .but all in good fun.
The package contains a set of refrigerator (or side-of-file-cabinet) magnets which allows the recipient to dress W as the mood of the day sees fit. Ah, what fun! As the package indicates, this and other magnet sets comes from a company called Reefer Magnets located in Mount Vernon, Washington. The package also announces on the back: "Now, the toy for that special Democrat in your life. Have your own Regime change every day of the year!!!" Well, time to open the package and start dressing up (down) ole W.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Last night was a tiring one as we worked on selected scenes for both King Midas and Much Ado About Nothing. For me it was a rewarding night. I was off-book (sort of) on one of the Midas scenes and, while rough, it finally gave me a sense of making some progress. No pictures of that rehearsal but I expect that will change now that we finally have a stage manager, Milcah Matos.
In Much Ado, for me it was a thorough working of the first of the "Watch" scenes and it felt good. Clearly the session I had with Director Ken MacFarlane last Saturday was a big help. I am beginning to feel comfortable as the often-befuddled Dogberry. And, thanks to Stage Manager Suze Campagna, I can offer the below pictures which include images of The Ancient One.
From Left: Milton Chen (Oatcake); Sharon Savene (Seacoal); Teresa Waxer (Verges)
From Left: Milton Chen (Oatcake); The Ancient One (Dogberry); and Sharon Savene (Seacoal)
And a couple of photos I took before The Watch occupied the space:
John Glass (Claudio)
Matt Van Winkle (Prince) and Tanya Gorlow (Beatrice)
Sunday, June 17, 2007
My Mother's Day gift to Donna was the promise of tickets to see Jersey Boys while it was here in L.A. for it's run at the Ahmanson Theatre. The gift was delivered today, Father's Day. It was, as expected, an incredible production. And, for us, very nostalgic. After all, Frankie Valli was a major part of our musical upbringing.
I don't have a picture, but there was a warning sign in the lobby that bears mentioning. It read: "The use of strobe lights, gun shots, and native New Jersey language are among the special effects in this production." The sign was very accurate! And the afternoon was very enjoyable!
My oldest son Bill, better known in these circles as BillyBlog, today posted something he wrote in 1998 about a cross-country trip we took in 1977 when he was 10 years old. It brought back a flood of good memories and tears to my eyes. You can view his post here.
Thanks Bill for such a great Father's Day gift!
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thursday night's rehearsals were rather notable. The King Midas cast was working in a large room with a mirrored wall that allowed us to view ourselves as we went through the one dance number in the production. Progress was surely made although the king certainly remains dance-challenged. But several of the scenes are beginning to feel good and should look that way once people are off-book.
The Much Ado About Nothing cast, on the other hand, had to work in a much smaller, hotter space than they had been used to. I was there for the Act 3 run through and it seemed to go fairly well considering the challenge of fitting 17 actors in what felt (to me) like a small sauna.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get pictures of the Midas rehearsals because I am usually on stage. (Maybe I should have taken advantage of the mirrors and shot reflections as I went through my own lines and blocking.) But I do have some pictures of the Much Ado cast making do with tight places.
From Left: Susan Odom (Margaret); Shannon Pritchard (Hero); Matt Van Winkle (Prince); Kat Bylska (Ursula); Sharon Savene (Attendant); and Eric Billitzer (Leonato)
Watching the actors, seated from left: Director Ken MacFarlane; Stage Manager Suze Campagna; Teresa Waxer (Verges); and Rex Hoss (Balthasar)
In preparation for his own role of Dogberry, the Ancient One is meeting with Director Ken MacFarlane tomorrow (Saturday) to get a lot of questions answered about language, meaning and blocking. It should be interesting, enjoyable and intense. Hopefully, the results will be noticed next Monday evening when all the members of The Watch will be together to run their scenes; possibly the only time they will all be together before tech rehearsal start in Carlson Park in 2 weeks.
I did get a couple of workarounds so that I can access my own site and a couple of others. But, for the first time in many years I have begun to consider the possibility of changing my ISP. My loyalty to Earthlink is about to wear out.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
It's hard for me to realize that the CCPT 2007 season opens one month from today. I am feeling some anxiety at this point because I have so far to go in my preparation. This is the first time I have been preparing for 2 major roles at the same time. Usually, I get nice character roles and Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing certainly falls in that category. Actually, it's more than "nice," it's a "wonderful" role and I hope I live up to director Ken MacFarlane's expectations. Right now I am still learning lines (which includes language and meaning) and blocking.
Meanwhile, I am trying to get used to having the lead in King Midas. Heidi Dotson has written a delightful script but I am still trying to define my character as I learn my lines. Fortunately, the king is a bit of a bumbling soul which makes my movement in "the dance" truly in character.
Both plays have incredible, talented casts and that helps a lot in the preparation. Below are some photos from the June 12 & 13 rehearsals of Much Ado. . . (Not much time at the moment so I will try to add captions later.)
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Then it was on to Earthlink's chat line where, after 30+ minutes, the tech messaged me that they were getting enough complaints that they were kicking it up to a "higher level" to find a solution. This morning. . .still no access. I then did both virus and spyware scans (which revealed nothing bad). BUT. . .when I returned to the computer after the scanning process. . .voila!. . .I could get to those favorite sites I like to visit on a regular basis. Tonight or tomorrow morning, I will try to get caught up on my own posting.
It is so good to no longer feel disconnected!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Sunday night was the close of the Habimah production of Prophets Need Not Apply. What a night!! What a day!! It began at 11:45 a.m. when we gathered at Congregation Ner Tamid and Director Morgan Land put us through a full run-through before the 2:30 p.m. performance. Then we returned at 6:00 p.m. where Morgan, true to form, had selected scenes run through for fine tuning. And then the 7:30 p.m. performance to another full house.
As I have come to expect the kids were phenomenal and the adults did a pretty good job too! I focus on the kids because I saw them "grow up" during the production just as my own children did when performing with Curtains Up! Theatre in Palos Verdes starting when they were in elementary school. It is such a joy to see the development of self-confidence, discipline and sense of teamwork in the young people. They are learning life skills which will serve them and the community well in the decades ahead. Since I saw what children's theatre experience did for Alicia and Seth, I have advocated theater experience as a major builder of self-esteem in children. I have continued to see it in the 3 Habimah productions in which I was fortunate to perform.
The emotion of the evening resulted from this being Morgan's last production at Ner Tamid; he is not returning for 2007-2008. Cast members (past and present) and the entire audience expressed their support for Morgan and all that he has done for the congregation both as a teacher and as the writer/director of Habimah productions. There was a lot of love, laughter and tears. It was overwhelming!
Again, I thank Morgan for all he has done for the congregation. He is truly a Mensch!!
(I had hoped to post some pictures here compliments of Bernie Schaefer but I have been having some technology problems. I hope I can add some later.)
Monday, June 11, 2007
For some reason unbeknownst to me, I have not been able to access BlogSpot since yesterday afternoon. I thought that maybe they were down but BillyBlog confirmed for me this morning that he was viewing this site from New York. So. . . I guess I have been given a timeout until the problem is fixed. If you actually see this, then there is hope because it means I can still post items from Word2007. I'll be back ASAP.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
The best way I can express my feelings about Morgan is to include part of the tribute I wrote for the memory book that was presented to him this afternoon:
Obviously, I want to thank you for making Habimah one of the very best synagogue programs around. . .and not just at Ner Tamid. I thank you personally for the opportunity to perform in wonderfully creative plays and to learn from a delightful cross-generational experience with so many wonderful young people. . . .
You will not be forgotten.
Morgan Land (June 9, 2007)
Morgan in the pool surrounded by some of the kids
Ah yes, this blog has just received its 500th visit since tracking has begun. It's just a minor milestone but somehow it feels significant. For those who are new to the site and wonder about the name, here are links to earlier posts explaining the origins of both The Ancient One, Blessed Be He and ruminations of a cantankerous old curmudgeon. Please do leave comments on any posts you find worthy.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
More blocking tonight! I was only called for the King Midas rehearsal and we got a
lot done. Tonight I had scenes with the Princess, Silenus, Friculous, Fraculous and Verboseous. As more scenes get blocked the play is beginning to take shape. And you can see the actors "trying on" and beginning to inhabit their characters. It is truly an exciting process to watch. The photo below (sorry about the lighting) was taken as the opening of the first scene was being set-up.
From left: Bethany Hilliard (Friculous) and Sharon Savene (Fraculous)
When I finished my work on Midas, I stopped by the Much Ado About Nothing rehearsal and got the below photo.
In case I haven't mentioned it before, CCPT rehearsals are held at the Veterans' Memorial Building in Culver City. Weekend rehearsals in the Carlson Park performance space will start the last weekend of June. We also have a storage area at the park and Saturday will be the load-in; opening the space and sorting everything in preparation for the season.
I exercise daily. Since my coronary bypass surgery (8/30/2004) I go to a cardiac rehabilitation center 3 days a week to use the treadmill and other equipment. It's my health club staffed by cardiac nurses. The other days I walk; mostly in our neighborhood but I always find time to get my walking in when we travel. In unfamiliar areas the walk is used for sightseeing but when following the same route day after day, it can get a bit boring. So, I put my walking time to what I think is good use.
Most of my reading is done on the daily walks. Generally, I have my latest mystery novel in hand as I wend my way through the neighborhood. (When traveling, I do forgo the reading in order to take in the sights and avoid unfamiliar hazards.) Occasionally, I do come into contact with parked cards, but not very often. There's not much traffic in the area and moving vehicles have not yet posed a threat. It has reached the point that some other regular walkers will make comments, e.g. "Is that a good book?" Or, if I happen to not be reading, "Where is your book today?" But, for me at least, walking provides exercise for both body and mind.
But I do more than read along the way. When I am involved in theater, the daily walk is how I learn my lines. So, if I don't have a book, I have a script in hand. My family has never heard me run lines at home. I do that on the streets. In fact, when "off-book" I recite my lines daily when wending my way through the neighborhood. There was at least one time when a neighborhood acquaintance mentioned to Donna that she had seen me walking and asked, "Does Leon always talk to himself?" That had to be a running-the-lines day.
Running lines also gets me through my time on the treadmill. It helps the 30 minute interval pass more quickly. And the nurses notice too; last week one them mentioned that I seemed to be mumbling while working out and assumed I was tuning up for that week's performances. She was right.
I admit that walking with a friend and engaging in lively conversation would probably be more enjoyable and safer. But I generally walk alone and the combination of reading and learning/running lines works for me.
Last night was the 1st blocking rehearsal for King Midas. It started with a scene that used actors who are not also cast in Much Ado About Nothing. That's one of the challenges faced by a theatre company presenting a season of multiple (in this case 3) plays. When actors are double cast, the directors have to coordinate rehearsal schedules. At the moment, there are 5 actors cast in the 2 plays in rehearsal and that will increase later this month when the 3rd play (Neil Simon's) The Good Doctor begins it's rehearsal.
Today's photo is from the beginning of a scene where the gods Pan and Atlas argue about which of them is the best musician. (Note the space in which the rehearsal is being held. It's far different from the park where performances will be held.
From left: Laurie Baron (Pan); Frantz Delsoin (Apollo); Director Heidi Dotson
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
This is the 1st full week of Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) rehearsals for the summer. At the outset, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. As mentioned in an earlier post, I am cast as the lead, title character in King Midas and as Dogberry, a wonderful comic character in Much Ado About Nothing. Both plays open on July 14 which means there is a lot to prepare for in less than 6 weeks.
Monday night was the first read through for King Midas and tonight we had a "dance" rehearsal which was a very good icebreaker for the cast members. Dance is in quotes because. . .well The Ancient One is not the most graceful soul around which, in this case, does fit the character. Director Heidi Dotson was delightful as she introduced us to her choreography which was altered a bit during the session to fit the widely varying levels of dance talent evident among the 9 cast members.
After the read through Monday, I moved over to the Much Ado rehearsal for the initial blocking of Act 5, Scene 1 (which continued tonight) and the first attempts at bringing good Dogberry to life. Ken MacFarlane is a gentle but firm director and at this point has fully lived up to the expectations that have been the basis of my desire for some time to work with him.
I know my confidence will grow as I get to know my characters and learn to put some life into them. The whole rehearsal process is dynamic as it progresses from the cast's initial read through of the script to the final product which reflects the director's vision of how the play should be seen. That's part of the reason I hope to chronicle these rehearsals (occasionally with photos included like the one below taken at the 6/5/2007 Much Ado About Nothing rehearsal) .
Monday, June 4, 2007
Last night was the first performance of the Habimah production of Prophets Need Not Apply at Congregation Ner Tamid in Rancho Palos Verdes. Actually, it was a long and exhilarating Habimah day. It started at noon with a tech rehearsal. Then after a break, there was a 5:30 .m. run through before the 7:30 p.m. performance.
The Kids in the cast are phenomenal. So were the adults, but this program and these productions are all about the kids. Writer/Director Morgan Land outdid himself once again. In addition to his talents in developing a script and creatively presenting it, he is amazing with young people. I think there were about 40 cast members under the age of 17. And then there were about 10 of us "older folk." I marvel at Morgan's ability to work with such a large cast and to help everyone keep focused. Truly amazing!
When I discussed the first tech rehearsal which was held last Thursday night, I included a picture of Moses in costume. Well, Moses got a revamp - totally new costume and new hair (as can be seen below). It was quite a contrast from the original get up, and it worked much better for both the actor and the character.
The production will continue next Sunday. And, if any of you who are reading this have an interest in attending either of the 2 performances (2:30 and 7:30 p.m.), just leave a comment letting me know where to contact you with details. Shalom!
This morning I had a traffic delay that brought a smile to my face. I was on the way to my workout at the Cardiac Rehab Center when traffic on a main artery stopped dead. It finally began to crawl ahead. Then, I saw the problem.
A car had stalled in my lane and was sitting there with its hood up. The first thing I noticed about the car as I inched closer was the license plate. You have to love some of those vanity plates especially one that read: PMS MD. Now, I know it's possible that the plate belonged to someone named P.M. Smith, but I really doubt it. And then I noticed the make of the car. It was a Rolls-Royce. That is what truly caused the smile and, I must admit, it brightened the whole foggy morning. Nearly 7 decades on this earth and this was the first time I saw a Rolls-Royce sitting helplessly on the road blocking traffic.
Perhaps I have a somewhat unbalanced sense of humor, but it was a glorious morning. My only regret is that I was not able to snap pictures of the disabled vehicle to share with those of you happen to land on this page.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Got a text message from #1 son, aka BillyBlog, today informing me that #1 granddaughter Jolee "is continuing the Cohen tradition, she found $5 while at the rollerrink" That's my granddaughter! By finding cash, she is following in her Uncle Seth's footsteps Way to go!
Saturday, June 2, 2007
from my "in the house" perch as the narrator.
I hope writer, director, and (this weekend) young hero Derek Taylor Kent will continue working to bring this script to larger and more accessible venues. And, I hope he keeps writing. While I may not understand all the jokes (there sometimes is a bit of a generation gap), Derek has a wonderfully creative, bizarre mind and the ability to create some memorable songs, lyrics and lines from which most any actor can gain pleasure.
I thank those family and friends who made the trek to see the show. I really enjoyed hearing your reactions both to the production and my closing costume. Hopefully, I will be able to get a print of The Ancient One "in leather" to share with all of you who happen by these ramblings.
Now, it's on to my other "less fishy" theatrical endeavors, all of which have already been mentioned in earlier posts and will reappear in the future.
Friday, June 1, 2007
The two previous posts have photos of the same actor in costume and make-up for two different roles. And they were taken on successive days. It struck me as an interesting contrast that reflects on a couple of the appealing aspects of acting; the ability to become someone else for a brief time and the opportunity to portray very different types of people while maintaining your own identity. Just a random thought that passed through my mind this morning.