Several months ago I got the opportunity to take part in a fundraiser variety show for the Unreliable Narrator group (of "2010: Our Hideous Future" fame), where I got my first shot at doing on-stage storytelling.

They've just put the video up, so here it is for those who are interested but missed it the first time around:

Stay tuned for video from the Stranger Ways / Sassafrass joint concerts at Arisia!
The new lineup of Stranger Ways is going to be debuting at PiCon at the end of the month. In the hopes of getting some pre-show feedback on our new set, and to play for those who would like to see it but can't make it to PiCon, we'll be doing a run-through of our PiCon set on Sunday, 8/21 at BCOS. We haven't set an official time, but I'm thinking some time in the mid afternoon, like 4pm or so.

I'll post the exact time when we have it. For now, mark your calendars if you're interested! The set will be about evenly split between new songs and new takes on older material.

If you plan on attending, I'd appreciate a reply so we know about how many to make room for.
It occurs to me that I never actually posted any videos of the Anarchist Society of Shakespeareans production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which I got to play hippie!Lysander. There's supposedly a video of the whole show being worked on, but I have no idea what state it's in. In the mean-time, our costumer took some videos of individual scenes from the front row with her flip.

I really love how well the dialog in Midsummer lends its self (at least IMO) to the... novel characterizations in our production, and this scene shows both hippie!Lysander and post-faerie-meddling crazybeastman!Lysander.

Of course, the vid had to have been from a night where I stumbled on one of my lines, so it's hard (for me, at least) to watch that one part without wincing a bit, but other than that I'm pretty happy with it.

And now, back to madly trying to memorize As You Like It! :)
I've finally gotten around to ripping some videos of recent performances for friends and family outside of MA to see. I hope posting these doesn't come off as terribly egotistical, but getting back into doing musical theater has been a a big, big deal for me personally and, I admit, I'm rather proud of these performances. I've been fortunate enough recently to get to play two roles that I've wanted to play for years, have gotten back into vocal training... and there's only more on the horizon, I hope. :)

First up, "Good Old Reliable Jake" from Evil Dead: The Musical. If you've been following my lj, then you know how obsessed I've been with this show since I first saw it in NYC, so I'll spare you the personal background.

I think the only thing I need to preface this with is that the stage direction on "double bypass surgery" was NOT my idea. *blush*

Since the show, people have actually recognized me around town as "Jake", and even once wanted a photo with me. It's a(n ego) trip. :)

After Evil Dead, I didn't have any immediate plans to do more shows, but then I found out that the next show the MIT Musical Theater Guild was putting on was Jesus Christ Superstar, which I've been in love with since college. "Trial Before Pilate" is, IMO, the climax of the show, and one of my favorite scenes. Pilate is an unusual and challenging character because he's only in three scenes in the entire show, and yet if the actor playing him doesn't completely own those three scenes, and make people leave seeing Pilate as one of the major roles, then he's failed at the character, I think. This scene also has what I consider to be the most inspired bit of direction in the whole production, which was only added during the final dress rehearsal. The ensemble had their hands covered in blood from the flogging part of the scene, but had to run off for a quick change immediately afterward, so the question of how they could get the blood off of their hands quickly was raised. I think the way the director answered this was a brilliant mix of stage practicality and effective symbolism, but I won't spoil it for you. See for yourself. :)

I think maybe I could make a career out of playing The Intimidating Guy. There are certainly enough of them in musical theater. Anybody need a Javert? :)

I'm starting to worry about the number of embeds in this post, so I'll switch to links, but there is also video of Stranger Ways, the band with which I've been singing and drumming, performing at the big party I mentioned previously. Here are two of my favorites:

If you've ever been curious what a middle-eastern doumbek drum sounds like accompanying a Ghaelic traditional (hey, I use the drums I have), here is Fhear a Bhata

If you've ever wanted proof that "English folk tune" does not mean a song doesn't have extremely creepy lyrics, check out Boys of Bedlam.
(originally posted at about 4:30am last night, but had it filtered so no one could see it. post-dating it to now)

Today I...

* Went to my first rehearsal for the mini-opera that is being staged at the Ig Nobel prizes, in which I am in the ensemble, playing a singing bacterium (no, really!).

* ...where the lead soprano, a professional whose next gig is going to Florida to play Madame Butterfly, complimented me on my voice and offered to get together with me to work on my opera repertoire.

* Went to the Somerville Fluffer Festival (like a smaller ArtBeat with more candy) where I ran into more friends and zomgsomanyawesomedoggiesIpettedthemall!!!

* Went to the release party for my friend Stever's new book! I'd never seen him speak before, and the guy is good! I can't wait for his one-man musical version of the book (I'm totally not kidding).

* Went to a magical-as-always Jason Webley show

* ...where at one point he picked me as a volunteer to play drums for one of his songs! It was just a schticky audience participation thing, playing a simple beat while two other people played one note repeatedly on the piano and he sang and played accordion, but when it was done he was convinced enough that I actually knew what I was doing that he asked me to stay on stage and accompany him and the Violist from The Army of Broken Toys (another favorite live band of mine) on 11 Saints! This was huge for me on so many levels. I've been saying to myself more and more lately that I reeeally want to get some equipment and start playing kit again, and that I would dearly love to play drums on stage again... and then not only do I do all that (well, I didn't get to keep the kit), but I got to do it with one of my favorite musicians! Also, I am told that I did not suck! Woo!

* After the show a bunch of us went out to dinner, which involved me giving Webley a ride there, and afterward to the party he was going to next. In addition to it being nice to chat with him and a bunch of the other swell folks who were at the show, when we got to the party he invited [ profile] fontia and I along. The thing looked pretty classy-- lots of older people dressed very nicely, so it was a bit intimidating, but we decided "heck, it's an adventure" and dove in anyway. Turns out it was indeed a full on artsy "society" sort of deal, the kind of thing we thought only existed in movies. It was a birthday for a local software entrepreneur turned hotshot photographer, held at his "studio", which is actually a giant converted mill full of funky little sculptures, big, artsy photos he's done of The Dresden Dolls and the like (apparently we'd just missed AFP and her entourage), and lots of Very Impressive Looking People.

* ...and yet, the highlight of the whole thing for me was a drum I found. The host had a bunch of hand drums in one of the main rooms, and I found a reeeeally nifty mid-sized goblet drum kind that, instead of having a skin or synthetic head, had a head was made of solid wood. This made for a gorgeous mellow sound and a broad range of sounds, because you have all the normal drum sounds you can make by striking it hard enough to resonate, plus many different sounds you can make by tapping more lightly. Really fun! The host even invited me to join them the next time they have a drumming event.

So yeah, a pretty darn good day. Years ago now I decided that I was going to make "why not?" my new motto. I've had varying degrees of success at living that motto, or even remembering it at times, but lately I've been having pretty good luck with it, finding little adventures like that party and saying yes to them.

Here's to more little adventures! Now if I can only figure out how to fit sleep in with all this awesome, I'm set. *yaaaawn*

Edit: after some research, I found out that the drum I found is called a "djembe cajon" (beware auto-playing music), which is basically the djembe version of a south american drum called a cajon, which means "crate". It's a fascinating instrument, as it is the evolution of slaves literally banging on old crates to make music, but it's been cleverly modified to have rattles along the top edge to provide distinct bass and snare sounds. Apparently the cajon is a staple in a lot of south american music, but I'd never heard of it. So now I find myself wanting, in addition to a kit, both the djembe cajon and a regular cajon. Am I developing a drum problem? Right now, the only thing keeping me from buying one, other than not wanting to spend all my money and/or drown in Stuff, is the fact that just watching dudes like this makes my fingers hurt (from what I've seen this guy's technique seems unusual, but still-- damn impressive).

Tomorrow at 4pm, I will be drumming and singing with Stranger Ways at the massive End of Summer party in Melrose. Show up early and check us out, then stay for a ton of awesome people! I'll be jealous about the latter, as I have to head directly to JCS after the performance (though rides can be provided if anyone wants to hit both). Message me if you need an invite to the party.

And speaking of JCS, if you haven't seen the show yet, come check it out! We run Th-Sat this week AND next, and I'm really happy with the production. Tickets here.

If you have seen it, and liked it, and haven't already, please spread the work! Thanks!
First off, Iago and Laurie's wedding has become a meme unto its self. The first thing I saw this morning was a complete stranger ([ profile] theferret, from whence it is sure to spread like wildfire) linking to it and it has over 1k views on youtube as of this posting. Neat. =:)

Second, Karoke was much fun last night. I am convinced that there would be a big market for a geek-oriented karaoke dj to do parties, where the collection was all broadway, tmbj, weird al, Jonathan Coulton and the like.

Third, the Webley show the night before that was also fantastic. He was 45 mins late because of bus issues, which he explained to the audience via a cell phone held up to the mic. The woman whose cell he'd called started trying to organize things to have the audience entertain its self. Earlier I had yelled "open mic!" and she asked who'd said that, with the apparent intent of making that person get up and start the entertainment, but I chickened out and hid.

Then someone dug up a copy of a Ben Johnson play and a copy of Julius Caesar and a few of us, myself included, got on stage and "performed" scenes from them by passing the book from person to person while someone else accompanied us on a Djembe. By the time we'd gotten to the Shakespeare, we'd done away with actually assigning roles and instead just passed the book around, each reading whichever line happened to come next. The idea was that the winner would be the one who got "Et tu, Brute?", but we never got that far. =;)

Eventually it was decided that something a little more interactive for the rest of the audience was in order, so we split into teams and played charades. My team won. Go my team.

Jason showed up in the middle of charades and asked if people wanted to continue playing while he set up. The response was an overwhealming "yes". In fact, when he was set up, he ended up having to count down "ok, two more minutes, then I'm going to start, ok?", finally counting down the last ten seconds as we all scrambled to guess one more charade. I love the crowds at Webley shows.

Then the show started and it was fantastic. Possibly the best Webley show I've attended. The audiences at those shows are always great and he performed some new songs and told me about a new solo album out in October. Wheee!

Oh, and the woman leading the entertainment while we waited turned out to be Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls. Ummm.. wow. I'd heard that she was going to be there to record something with Jason (a live cover of a Baby Dee song, which rocked and will be on an upcoming compliation with all of us doing the sing-along chorus), but had sort of assumed that she would just show up in time to do her thing and then leave. I mean, she's a rock star, right? But there she was hanging out with everyone and organizing impromptu Shakespeare readings (note to self: cross "perform Julius Caesar with Amanda Palmer" off of TODO list). I imagine I'm in the vast minority of people around here in that I discovered the Dresden Dolls through an influx of Australian fans on the Jason Webley forum, who'd discovered Webley when he went on tour with the Dolls. I didn't even know they were from around here until recently. So anyway, I really didn't know what to expect, but I was very pleased with what I found.

In fact, the one down-side of the evening was that I was really beating myself up afterward for chickening out when she was trying to get people up on stage. I mean, I love being on stage. I am an attention whore and I've mostly come to accept this about myself. And yet there I was being invited up on stage to sing or whatever and I hid because I didn't want to look like an attention whore. Only when others started going up to do the Ben Johnson reading did I go because then I wouldn't be the only one. And so, of course, having missed the opportunity to really show off, my brain starts playing out the best-case-scenarion that I made myself miss, wherein, after a stunning rendition of... something, Palmer approaches me about this side project she has planned, for which I would be perfect. Blegh. There are downsides to being an optimist.

Ok, last thing, a treat for those who are interested and are still reading: At the show Amanda said that she's going to be doing an un-announced show, demoing some of her upcoming solo stuff tonight at the Lilly Pad. Admission is a $10 donation to the performance space. The Lilly pad is at 1353 Cambridge St and I believe she said the show is at 5pm. I could be wrong about that, but there's stuff on the pad's schedule from 6:30 on, so 5 sounds about right.



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