Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Road Ahead and Happy Thanksgiving

To all Calhoun students, staff,  friends, and their relatives and families. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

The coming production will be a challenge . We have a short time and many conflicts but we can do it if we all focus and try to keep to deadlines. To those in the cast especially the ensemble, we depend on your extreme cooperation and highest level of discipline and self control. Many people did not make the production and in some cases it was very close. Some will accept the situation and move on, others will watch for each mistake that those in the cast make and take every opportunity to point it out to officers,staff,  students and even me. They will keep track of all the weaknesses,weak efforts, poor attendance and bad behavior that may emerge. To those cast I say- Don't give them that opportunity, prove them wrong. Learn your lines, learn your lyrics and music and learn them fast, create a truly intense character and we will have an amazing experience. To those not cast, join in and make a major  contribution behind the scenes, help Mallory with the Props, Adam with tech, Amy with paint, Lydia with costumes, Marc with mailings etc. Make a name for yourself by making a major contribution and be a part of the show in that way. The same goes for Annie Get Your Gun.

To those who are disappointed, remember, there are many reasons why and it is impossible to second guess unless you ask. Sometimes it is seniority, other times, audition quality, other times dance skills, vocal ability or vocal range. Most often, it is sheer juggling of numbers. If you are in a show and did not get the part you wanted, maybe you are not at the right level yet or one of the other variables occurred but you are still in the show while many are not. Be thankful and continue to do as good a job as the one that put you in the show.

For the moment, take time to reflect over this weekend about how much we have to be thankful for. Most of us do not have loved ones, miles away in harms way fighting an unpopular war, most have good  health and families and friends that care, a good home to live in and good food on the table( even our take out is high quality). We have in the On Tour Program an extraordinary blessing with a school, a district , an administration and parent support along with good funding that gives us all a wonderful opportunity to present and participate in a unique, high quality Performing  Arts program that has few equals in the county , the Island and the State.

We have much to be thankful for and should be extremely grateful.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving,


Saturday, September 22, 2007

New iPod selection

Well, Steve Jobs just unveiled a complete new line of iPods to complement the iPhone. Much ado occurred when the iPhone price dropped drastically, alarming and alienating early adopters like me, Mr. Sardo, Mr. Hendler, Mike Weissman and some other friends of mine. Alarm was short lived, however, as Jobs apologized and gave everyone a $100 credit. Still many reviews have been emerging about the newest iPod the iPod Touch which is basically the iPhone without the phone. Reviews have criticized it for very selfish reasons of wanting it to be the be all and end all iPod. They overlook most of the reasons why it can't be. I took the time to answer one such article at Engadget, a great site for information, reviews and announcements of new and emerging products. Here is what I said.
You Engadget folks always neglect the marketing aspects. You focus on the greedy, "gimme , gimme" consumer. The iPod Touch was designed and planned with a two fold mission.- 1- Sell more iPhones, 2- Make Apple more profits outside of the iPhone. The iPod classic is no longer in this equation because it's appeal is only mass storage and competes outside the flash memory paradigm. Here is how the shopping scenario plays out. There are several types of consumers after gadget freaks and early adopters. They are: Low budget- They are choosing between a shuffle and a 4 GB Nano- they ask themselves "should I spend the extra and get more space and value? The wallet often decides. If they splurge, Apple makes more money. If they don't and buy a shuffle, Apple still makes money. The Hi budget group - who want an iPhone and AT & T. They buy the iPhone and are very happy. Hi Budget who are "undecided".- They look at the 16 GB Touch and say "wow cool but compare it to the iPhone and say- hey for another $100, I can get a new cool cell phone. I have to switch to At& T, OK no big deal". Capacity looses. Apple sells another iPhone, makes more money. Hi Budget undecided who hate AT& T. They approach with the same reasoning but choose the 16GB Touch because they like their carrier and feel accomplished because they get an extra 8 GB of space. Apple increases non iPhone profits.Medium budget looking at 8Gb Nano, they see the Touch and say" Hey for $100 more I almost get an iPhone and all that wi Fi internet stuff". Again, both win and Apple wins more profits for Apple. It is not about the feature set at present it; is about selling more iPhones. Eventually, as sales level off, some of the requested features will be include. Software features will probably be added to the Touch same as the iPhone, which will make the Touch owners really happy. I expect weather and note pad myself and maybe calendar as well. They will never give us the ultimate iPod unless we pay the ultimate price. Money wins out. The new iPod family is about Apple making money all the way around. Regardless of iPod choice, it is a win win for both Apple and consumers.

Friday, September 21, 2007

To the On Tour Class of 2007

Greetings from Calhoun,

I know some of you have emailed me and I did not respond that was because I wanted to write you this group letter first. I will probably put this on my blog to accommodate those that I don’t have correct or current email like dean and Alana. I hope that your first weeks of College and university life are going well. Things at Calhoun are now in full swing with our first full week at a close and Back to School Night having come and gone last night. As some of you may have heard, I went to London the last week of August( Quell surprise`!) and beyond the aggravation of a delayed departure flight( read last blog for details) I had a nice relaxing time for the most part. Well , with the exception of dealing with aggravating a foot that I hurt when I went to Baltimore for the Weissman wedding that is. I have a tear of some sort just like Jason Giambi of the Yankees and the only cure is resting it and taking Advil. It is getting better. I also had a test that my doctor suggested when asking me about my weight. It was a sleep test. Perhaps you found me asleep in my chair on many occassions last year? I was sleeping quite a bit but thought it was overwork. No in fact, it is sleep apnea. There is a treatment with a sleep machine but the only cure is too loose weight.To help accomplish that goal I have taken drastic measures and have joined a gym and I am going twice a week- Monday and Wednesday Evenings during Show Choir!. I must say even though it has only been a couple of times, I feel great. Hopefully, I will continue and things will start to change.

Romeo and Juliet has begun and is proceeding nicely, Dinner theatre plans are underway and royalties for The Beggar’s Opera have been ordered. Improv Night is fast approaching. The 10th graders are working hard. The freshmen look promising and the Seniors and Juniors in coordination with the new officers are working extremely well together.

Yesterday, however, was very special. Mr. Seinfeld and Mrs. Kurtz held a special meeting to address all students in the Drama program. He decided to do this because he does it with other large groups but had never done so with Drama. He acknowledged that Drama being so large, a microcosm of the school and one of the few organizations that has cooperative involvement by all grade levels and as such should be properly included . Their address went on to complement and praise On Tour for its over all success last year in the performance and participation areas and how very pleased they were with our extremely successful efforts in mentoring. He went on to encourage continued success in all past accomplishments.

I must say, I was pleased to say the least. More important, however, was the continued pride that I felt about all the work your class did in this accomplishment. I was your efforts as a group that made this succeed. As some of you may have guessed, I bought an iPhone. Like video iPods, it has a feature to store and show photos. Most people put photos of their kids and family on them and while I do have some family pictures, I put on pictures of “ my kids”- you guys. I have pictures of all of last years season, which I think you know I have stated that I was very pleased with. Having them, on the iPhone, I have looked at them often when showing off that feature. On one occasion, I took the time to go through them and really study the ones that I had put on. I want you to know that in looking at pictures like this after the fact always helps me to better appreciate and enjoy the work that was done. One thing that really impressed me, though, that I wanted to make sure to tell you was my feelings about Once in A Lifetime. I know we had a difficult time to get it open especially technically but , my God, you all gave such great performances. Each part was so well executed that it was truly a culmination of four fine years of work. As you now enter into a new chapter in your lives, it my wish that you have continued success in your new endeavors. You will experience new freedoms, new passions, new friends, new relationships,new problems,- for which you must find new solutions, new work, hard work, new fun and new pleasures. As you undergo these changes, it is my wish and hope that you can apply some of the same qualities and types of effort that made your last four years a success and make your next four even more successful. You all started On tour at the bottom of the ladder and came out on top, only you have reached another floor where you find yourselves once again on the bottom. I am sure with time and patience you will once again come out on top. I miss you all not as the students you were but as the friends that you became.

Be healthy, be safe. Enjoy.

All the best,


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

UK Greetings

Greetings from London. I booked a last minute getaway at a great price only difference was Hotel location(closer to Covent Garden and Shaftsbury Ave ( Theatreland)- nice Radisson with free WiFi and A/C and flying American not Virgin or BA. I was to leave yesterday at 11:35 at night and arrive at 11:30 in the Morning. I got to the airport at 7:45 expecting crowds and delays. Then the dream began. It was all like a dream. I checked my bag at the curb, walked into the airport and went through customs in under 5 minutes. Hung out had something to eat. Boarded the plane at 11:15, at 11:35 we were ready for takeoff- but the plane wasn't.Computer screen malfunction and error messages and then the nightmare began. They tried multiple repair options. But they let us watch the touch screen TV's in the seat back. Unfortunately, it is still fed by the tape driven system. So, no pausing and you have to watch at specific times. Three and one half hours later we disembarked to change planes. Estimated boarding time was 3:20 AM. Finally, took off at 4:15AM. And when we did takeoff, they served dinner at about 4:45 AM or later and then “breakfast” at 3PM. Arrived in London about 4:00PM, Hotel after 5:00PM. 
Lost a day pretty much but the weather is good and looks to stay. No firm plans yet except to see friends and try to see a Globe Touring Production of R & J , being done in a South London park on Friday or Saturday.

I went to the lovely wedding of alumna Elissa Weissman in Baltimore on the weekend of August 17th. It was a great time in a really unique place. I will be posting Web Galleries when I get back to New York.

Two great movies that I highly recommend: Chuck and Larry and A Death at a Funeral- both will make you laugh till it hurts. Chuck and Larry is not as dumb as the premise suggests. It has a heart and the second film is amazing farce with relatively unknown Brits but directed by Muppet director and voice of Yoda Frank OZ. Check them out if you get a chance.
More as the week goes on.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Well Steve Jobs has done something this week to equal the magic and  wonder of the iPhone and its name is Ratatouille. Wow! What an amazing and delightful film.
Pixar has done it again. It is a truly wonderful and important story ( more on why later),with breathtaking animation of Paris and the French countryside, as well as the usual terrific character animations. The score is truly infectious; a wonderful blend of styles, old movies and Jazz. The story is reminiscent of grand old  MGM musical (but this is not a musical). The film has all the great qualities expected like Toy Story or Monsters Inc yet breaks new ground in several areas. Continuing the development of how to represent the human figure in a cartoon. They have created character and caricature yet maintained the essence of realism.The character animations are truly unique. They have concocted a brilliant blend of styles in representing humans: an ounce of Disney, a heaping cup of Warner Brothers, and a big pinch of JayWard (ask your parents)- yet it is all pure Pixar in the end. 
It is the story that is most important and here is why. This may mean something to all of you more than others. you see the story of this film is about being an artist. It is about what being an artist means, being true to yourself, making sacrifices, creating like crazy and having fun when you do it. It brings home a very important point over and over-" Not everyone can be a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere". 
As theatre artists, we can look at the film and realize that many different types of individuals are present in creating great art, whether it is cooking, film or theatre. In each of these collaborative arts, there are different levels of people all contributing toward the success of the art form. In a restaurants, we have chefs, sous chefs, dishwashers, waiters and even "garbage" boys, in film, grips, mixers, cinematographers, accountants, caterers etc ( read the credits- they all work very hard it's the least you can do). In theatre, we have actors, crew, ushers, techs etc. In all these arts, there are different levels of people with different backgrounds and abilities all working toward a unified goal. When all the parts put forth their best efforts towards a common goal, whatever their ability, we have ensemble. And when we have ensemble, we often achieve a masterpiece or at least a quality product.
See this picture if you can and remember it when you see someone you think is " not as good as YOU think they should be". Think before you criticize and remember that not every one is on the same level but as long as they are contributing as best they can then maybe they need encouragement rather than criticism.
Anyway, see the film and enjoy it. i think it will surprise you.

2006-2007 Season

Well gang, here it is "the summer".  One week out of Calhoun. Scripts for R & J have been copied and will be mailed over the next two weeks. They will not go at once because the office has to conserve postage. So far, some nice graduation parties, and some time to see some films (more on that in the next post) and some continued pain at the dentist-mostly in my wallet. The biggest news will probably surprise no one. Yes, you could have bet on it- I bought an iPhone. So did Sardo, as I'm sure many of you know. It is really amazing. Not perfect yet, but by September I predict major additional features.
Anyway, while setting the phone up, I decided to include some photos from previous seasons. That's why this title of this post.I was looking at the photos and was quite impressed by your work. It at once triggered in my mind the scenes and the moments from shows and how they were executed and I am very proud of what I saw. Folks, you really did a splendid job on all the shows this year... and last year too for that matter. I know that I am a harsh critic when we are in the middle of things, so is every good coach in sports. Theatre requires the same discipline and and a professional edge. If I praised you like a fan you would loose the edge and it would definitely go to your heads. And let's face it, some heads are way too big already. There is enough back patting and friend praising friend  to power a battleship. I try to speak about the show when it closes but sometimes time prevents it. I know I cover things during the dinner but I am never sure if the video and impending season announcement allows you to hear all the comments. 
So,please, remember this: I am always proud of your efforts and the On Tour Company in general. Why else would I put your photos in my iPhone. It is only natural that with the metaphor of family, that people bandy about so much, that I show off your photos like any proud parent would do. 

Friday, February 09, 2007

Evita on BBC telethon

This is the London Buenos Aires with most of the dancers but is the complete number slightly edied for numbers of people. In the show there were multiple soldiers dancing with her at times instead of one.