Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Good Times & Bum Times, I've Seen 'Em All..."

"Good Times..."

The reviews are in!

Actually, the review is in. That's singular. As in "one."

But after reading Mr. J. Scott Hill's generous and kind words about my performance on the Chicago Stage Review, one critique is all I need to read.

According to Mr. Hill...

"Rader plays Paul Bearer, the most comical of the choir of cabaret cadavers. As an actor, Rader is a fantastic active listener, without stealing focus. In doing so, he accentuates the strengths within others’ performances. Rader is delightfully goofy twanging through a country music parody, and is absolutely chilling when performing a poem about werewolves."

Mr. Hill's review praises the entire show, each actor, the direction, the lighting, the musical direction, everything, which can mean only one thing...

J. Scott Hill is Chicago's brightest and most gifted theatre critic. Wise beyond his years (whatever they are), Hill possesses a keen eye for talent, for star power, for that "it." I, of course, am humbled that this great, learned man would write such a glowing tribute to me and this business I call "show."

I know what you're thinking and the answer is no. If Mr. Hill had hated my performance and written the the exact opposite version of the paragraph above (whatever that would be), I would be telling Mr. Hill where to go, what to take with him and what to shove in his ass when he got there. And I wouldn't tell tell him how to get it out either!

But he didn't write that, so his ass is safe. I admire him, he admires me. We are a mutual admiration society. At least until he reviews another one of my plays.

"Bum Times..."

It's a good thing that Mr. Hill came to our performance on Thursday night. If he had waited until last night, he would have watched as I forgot all the lyrics to the first verse of one of my songs. I lost them. All those words. And I never found them.

It was The Actor's Nightmare as a musical. Sort of like Liza Minnelli singing "Try to Remember," starting the song with those same three words and then forgetting every single syllable after that.

"'TRY TO REMEMBER...' Ummm...
Oh... Mama... Mama!
What's the lyric?
Lorna, put down the pizza
and tell me what the damn lyric is!!!"

It wasn't as bad as that (because Lorna wasn't there), but I did stop the show. Literally.

I went up on the words, screamed "Stop!," walked back to the piano, looked at the musical director's book and neither of us could find the lyric that started the first verse. So, with my fellow cast members looking at me in terror, I basically walked stage right to stage left. And then stage left to stage right. While growling.

And to add insult to stupidity, one of the composers was in the audience last night, sitting second row, center. Close enough to hear me whisper, "We who are about to die salute you."

I was a little worried about performing these songs in front of the composer because they're all still so new. They haven't settled into my voice and brain. So, since I was the most unsure of the second verse lyrics for this particular song, I sang them over and over. Most of the day. Which is why they were all I could think of as the first verse began. So, I stopped the show, we dove back in and I grunted. To the composer. Yeah...

I recovered at the chorus, nailed the second verse (of course) and got most of the audience back by the ending. Then, I let it go. I just kept repeating something my college theatre adviser said to me when something went wrong in the production of a play...

"What Mother Teresa does is important. We do skits."

Very funny and incredibly true. That advice, coupled by a little something I came up with to say to the audience during the curtain speech ("One of the actors, I don't want to say who, has lost a verse. So, please, if you find it, return it to the stage manager and we'll make sure it finds its way back into the show.") and topped off with the extravagant, very sweet Godiva chocolates that Bryant sent backstage for me made dealing with my latest theatrical "senior moment" a breeze.


Java said...

What a lovely review! I suspect Mr. Hill would say, if he had seen the second show, that Mr. Rader lost the lyric but made such a fine show of finding it that the entire show was improved, amazingly enough.

I'm particularly fond of your advisor's wisdom. It's all in the perspective, isn't it?

hugs and kisses, darling.

Prospero said...

Congrats. And I know and loathe that feeling of being completely lost - happened to me in "The Iceman Cometh." I stood rocking back and forth on my heels for what seemed like an hour saying "Yup, yup... yup."

Stephen said...

I have not been on stage in 7 years...& I still dream about loosing that verse. Really.
Congrats on your kudos.

Scott said...

Mr. Rader,

Thank YOU for YOUR kind words.

I hope you are completing the run to packed houses.