Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Taffy Apple Time

Some of the details of this story escape me, but the basics include the Taffetas and a nun. Somehow, while rehearsing our first production several years ago at UW-Manitowoc, we connected up with one of the good Franciscan Sisters. I think she wanted to come to see the show but was unable to. We invited her to a rehearsal, but she couldn't attend that either; nor could she get to a dress rehearsal. From there, I'm foggy on the details, but here's the end of the story. One night we received a special delivery at rehearsal - a bag filled with hand knit mittens, slippers, and a card addressed to "The Taffy Apples." Of course, everything was made with black yarn - quite stylish for theatre folk.

Kristin Gresl, one of Manitowoc's finest artists, did the rendering of the set for "A Taffeta Christmas" that you see at the top. The bubble panels are actually photo drops of huge Christmas ornaments, and the squiggly doodads represent aluminum Christmas trees. By the way, we are still looking for a few more trees for the set, so if you have one, we'd love to display it on stage...and there's a free ticket for you to boot! Kristin designed and constructed the orbs hanging in the entrance at Holy Family Memorial Hospital.
The show is coming along nicely. As a matter of fact, we are ahead of schedule, which always puts everyone at ease. Because of the complexity of the music, I figured it would be good to learn all of that first. With that behind us soon, we will begin to work on dance and stage movement. Lisa Hagenow is our choreographer, and I will do the blocking. Shelly Kanzelberger, and Kim Gauer have been coordinating music rehearsals. Working with them has been a gift! Of course, the cast is superb...Terri Temme, Sheila Hansen, Jamie Strutz, Jen Glowaski, Kathy Palmer, and Rick Oswald. They have set the bar pretty high for me, and, next week, when I start blocking work, we will see if I am up to their level.

Nothing compares to walking through the performance wing at UW-Manitowoc. Our rehearsal room is filled with the bright sounds of Christmas carols. Across the hall, "The Rocky Horror Show" cast belts our their gritty songs. On Tuesday nights we can hear the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble's powerful offerings, and on Wednesday we're treated to dance music compliments of Mike Arndt's big band. In the shop behind us, there are sounds of power tools, hammers, a few theatrical interjections...but always, there are the sounds of good, hard work, and laughter. There is no better place to be than in a working theatre.

So, with all this going on, I haven't been reading much. Page by page, I am moving through The Gargoyle, trying not to get too frightened. Despite the high degree of creepiness, I am hooked by the plot's intricacies. It spans time and place - totally fascinating. Michael Perry stories entertain me on my way to and from work, and around town. Hearing an author read his/her own work adds an extra layer, and Mike's delivery is impeccable. This pre-haircut photo of Mike makes me laugh almost as much as his essays.

Speaking of essays, last week I was the lucky recipient of a perfect gift from my friend, Rhonda. What was it? An autographed copy of Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris!

Did you know that Manitowoc photographers Julie Lindemann and John Shimon currently have a show at the Milwaukee Art Museum? I got a chance to see it on Saturday. Of all the visual arts, I am most drawn to real-life portrait photography, and if I had a talent, that is the one I would choose. An unmanipulated, photograph, depicting the honesty of an individual at a moment in time overwhelms me. Photographs are historical storytelling tools, with the pages of life captured in the person's features, and physical context. Julie and John's works are displayed among pieces by photographers who have gained recognition as eminent artists such as Arbus and Stieglitz. Doing so clearly shows the common threads uniting humanity. Julie and John are responsible for putting Manitowoc in the headlines with their book paying tribute the the aluminum Christmas tree, Season's Gleamings.

How about that weekend weather, huh? If I knew anything about football, I'd be asking that same question about the Packers instead , hey?