Category Archives: Actors

The Kids Are Alright

I turned nine in 1972. The early seventies were a traumatic time for my family, so I’ve never been particularly nostalgic about those years. The fashions, decor, and hairstyles were mostly awful. Brown, orange, and avocado are still my least favorite colors. With some trepidation, I checked out the pilot to new ABC sitcom The Kids Are Alright. I’m happy to say, I really love this show and encourage everyone to check it out.

The Kids Are Alright is a 1965 song by The Who, as well as the 1979 documentary that followed. Set in the summer of 1972, the sitcom is about a working class Irish-Catholic family with 8 boys. Show creator Tim Doyle narrates, and the series is centered on middle boy Timmy Cleary (Jack Gore), a redhead with dreams of stardom. All the boys are distinct enough that, after only three episodes, I have a grasp of their personalities.

The oldest son is Lawrence (Sam Straley), a long-haired liberal soon-to-be ex-seminarian. Eddie (Caleb Foote) gets no respect at the second oldest, and he’s usually fighting Frank (Sawyer Barth), an eavesdropping tattletale. Joey (Christopher Paul Richards) is precocious, cunning, and probably amoral; an old soul in an adolescent body with raging hormones. Sweet, smart William (Andy Walken) is a bookworm and the kid I relate to the most. Little Pat (Santino Barnard), in glasses, is timid with a questionable grasp on reality. Baby Andy (Sawyer and Jax Laucius)…well, hopefully we’ll be with the Cleary family long enough for him to walk and talk.

Mary McCormack plays the mom to perfection. Peggy Cleary is tough, acerbic, and an expert at economizing. Dad Mike (Michael Cudlitz) works for a defense contractor and literally brings home the bacon; he’s in charge of the grocery shopping. He wants better things for his boys, even if that doesn’t include fresh vegetables.

The seventies references are fun for us older viewers. These include The Partridge Family, Sonny & Cher, Bob Hope TV specials, the Nixon administration, grape and lettuce boycotts, film developing, and Jiffy Pop. I won’t mind if the heavier stuff from that summer is left out, like the Munich Olympics massacre. So far, the older boys aren’t fretting about the draft versus college, and that’s fine with me.

William is usually reading a book, and he’s clearly a fan of science fiction. I enjoy checking out the titles.

Dune by Frank Herbert

High Vacuum by Charles Eric Maine

Anybody’s guess!

Are there enough people who remember the seventies to keep this show on the air? I have a friend in his 30s who says, “It’s SO GOOD.” I guess you don’t have to understand all the references. Besides, we have Google now. ABC has ordered more episodes, according to Tim Doyle on Twitter, so that’s encouraging. Hopefully The Kids Are Alright will be around long enough for the Bicentennial, dittos pants, satin jackets, clackers, pop rocks, pet rocks, Roots, A Chorus Line, and Star Wars. Oh, geez, even disco.

You can watch the first three episodes streaming online, and new episodes air on Tuesday nights at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Television

Ramin Karimloo & Seth Rudetsky at The Herbst

The Herbst: Ramin Karimloo with Seth Rudetsky

Last night I spent a terrific evening with theatre fans at the Herbst Theatre. It was my first time at this intimate venue in the War Memorial, located on Van Ness Avenue across from City Hall. I read reviews on Yelp that said the balcony was either steamy hot or downright chilly, so I dressed in layers. From my excellent seat in the second row center of the Dress Circle, everything was just right.

I arrived early and caught the last part of the ‘No One Is Above The Law’ protest in front of City Hall, just before protesters started a march to Mission Street. City Hall was all lit up in blue lights. Once I arrived in the lobby of the War Memorial, I had time to study the banners commemorating WWI. The Herbst opened at 7pm, so I spent the next half hour chatting with the folks sitting around me. I laughed with a woman in the first row who loves Phantom of the Opera but can’t stand Les Mis, because I’m the exact opposite. We were happy to agree to disagree. The nice fellow sitting on my left helped me during the concert with songs from shows I didn’t recognize. He also gave me his take on the local production of The Boy From Oz that I’m seeing next week.

I became obsessed with Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser back in 2010, when they appeared as Enjolras and Grantaire in the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert, which aired here on PBS. For many months after, my blog here was taken over by West End guest posts and Les Mis/Phantom screen caps. Ultimately, blogging about West End actors from afar proved more frustrating than entertaining. Fast forward eight years, and Ramin Karimloo finally came to San Francisco. I had to be there for his first ever performance in my city, and he didn’t disappoint.

Seth Rudetsky played host, interviewer, pianist, and sparring partner. Rudetsky and Karimloo sat in chairs and chatted about Karimloo’s life story and career. They’d get up to perform a song, then sit down again for more chat. There were plenty of laughs, especially at Rudetsky’s numerous attempts to get a Valjean/Javert duet going. The women in the audience sang the Sandy part to Summer Loving (Grease), while Karimloo and Rudetsky struggled (and argued) over the lyrics to Danny’s part. Karimloo’s “She went down in the sand” was wrong but awesome.

It was fun to hear Karimloo discuss his life and career, even though I was familiar with most of his bio already. Folks down in the orchestra were calling out comments during the interview, and we couldn’t hear much of what they said from the balcony. It was the only frustrating part of the evening. Rudetsky must have thought everyone could hear, because he kept asking those folks if they were wearing microphones. I was hoping for some mention of Karimloo’s friendship with Hadley Fraser, Sheytoons (Karimloo and Fraser’s bluegrass band), and Anastasia, but they didn’t come up. Karimloo discussed his bet with a teenage friend that he’d one day play the Phantom, his admiration for and friendship with Colm Wilkinson, meeting his wife during an audition for a cruise ship, his brief stint in Sunset Boulevard, and how he was cast in Love Never Dies. He also talked about his initial reluctance to play Valjean (Les Mis).

Here’s the set list, not in strict order, since I was too busy enjoying myself to take notes:

Moving Too Fast (The First Five Years)

Summer Loving (Grease)

It All Fades Away (The Bridges of Madison County) with Ramin on guitar

Sunset Boulevard

Anthem (Chess)

The Pirate King (Pirates of Penzance)

Bring Him Home (Les Misérables)

Music of The Night (Phantom of the Opera)

Til I Hear You Sing (Love Never Dies)

Muddy Water (Big River)

Make Them Hear You (Ragtime)

Ol Man River (Show Boat) with Ramin on guitar

The Confrontation (Les Misérables) with Rudetsky singing Javert

After the concert, I went to the stage door, where a few folks with paid Meet & Greet tickets waited in line. I stayed further back and had a great time chatting to several fans. Eliza was at my Aaron Tveit concert in September, and Elena from Bath told us she was in the audience at the 25th anniversary Phantom at the Royal Albert Hall. Seth Rudetsky stopped to say hello to us. The last fellow in the Meet & Greet line showed us his photos with Karimloo, and we discovered a shared passion for Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis. I was still chatting with Eliza and Elena when Karimloo came out with several others, so we got to thank him for the show. We didn’t ask for photos and autographs; just seeing him up close was enough. When I came out of the building, Karimloo was taking photos of the blue City Hall. I told him to come back soon, then rushed off to catch my late night bus.

Okay, so now it’s time for Hadley Fraser. Come perform in San Francisco, please!

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Music, Real Life, Theatre

Aaron Tveit, Neil Patrick Harris, and the Generosity of Moms

Last week, my attention was focused on the Supreme Court nomination and the hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh. Thankfully, I had two terrific events on my calendar to lift my spirits.

Thursday night I went to Marines’ Memorial Theatre to see Aaron Tveit in concert. I’ve been a fan since seeing him as Enjolras in the Les Misérables film (good performance, bad hair). I love his rendition of Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, and I also enjoyed the first season of Graceland on USA. The BrainDead Partridge Family salami sex scene with Tveit and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is insanely funny. I’ve seen some of the Broadway bootlegs of Next to Normal and Catch Me If You Can on YouTube, but Thursday was my first time seeing Tveit live.

The Marines’ Memorial Theatre is intimate (564 seats), with a very nice foyer that features comfy chairs and and a bar. I got there early, so I sat down and noticed that several ladies had autographed Aaron Tveit posters. I asked the two ladies nearest me where they got them. They told me their ticket package included a meet & greet earlier that night. A few moments later, the younger woman got my attention and said, “My mom wants you to have her poster.” Oohhh! I turned to her mom and told her, “That’s so nice, but you might change your mind after you see him live!” She replied, “I met him and got a hug. I’m happy.” We had a nice chat about Tveit’s work and traveling to London and Scotland.

Once the auditorium opened, I went up to my seat in the balcony with my new poster. I was in the second to the last row on the left side, but the balcony only has seven rows, so it wasn’t a bad seat. There’s not much leg room at all, but it’s still better than the Curran! The fellow on my left was nice and friendly, and the folks on my right moved as soon as the lights went down. This gave me some extra leg room, so I stretched out and relaxed.

Aaron Tveit posterThe shallow stage had a piano, a stool, a microphone stand, and a music stand. Tveit’s pianist is also his music director, and he joined in on some of the songs and the banter in between. Tveit began with In Living Color from Catch Me If You Can, followed by Fight The Dragons from Big Fish. Other songs included a Sandy/Heart and Soul mash up, I Miss The Mountains (from Next to Normal), One Song Glory (Rent) and an Italian aria from La Boheme, Shut Up And Dance, Every Breath You Take, Thunder Road (Springsteen), Dancing On My Own, Irish Girls (The Last 5 Years), and Being Alive from Company. His encore was Come What May from Moulin Rouge, his most recent stage musical. I didn’t keep notes on his set list, but that’s what I remember. The theatre has lovely acoustics and Tveit sounded great. There were lots of hardcore fans in the small audience, because many folks clapped when he asked if any of them had seen Moulin Rouge in Boston over the summer. He told us his last trip to San Francisco was in 2006, which was well before I started following his career. The concert started a little after 8pm and was finished not long after 9pm, so short but sweet and well worth the effort

& & & & & & & & &

Friday night I walked over to the JCCSF (Jewish Community Center of San Francisco) for Neil Patrick Harris at Kanbar Hall. NPH is on tour to promote The Magic Misfits: The Second Story, his second book in a series for middle grade readers. Our ticket included a pre-signed copy of the book and a raffle ticket. Five lucky winners and their plus ones were getting a VIP Meet & Greet with NPH at the end. My seat was in the front row, and on my left was an excited young woman in a vibrant red dress. We introduced ourselves, and I told Elisa that if won the raffle, she could be my plus one. Then I assured her that she didn’t have to reciprocate, since she was with her mom. She told me she was giving her mom’s copy of the book to a friend who also love NPH.

Kanbar Hall seats 460, and the event was sold out. There were kids in the audience but far more adults. Neil Patrick Harris sat on stage and answered questions from the young interviewer, then took questions from the audience. He was in the chair closer to me but angled away, so I appreciated how he regularly turned in our direction when speaking. He said his last trip to San Francisco was in 2012. Before that, he used to come up from LA often to see David Burtka when he was in The Opposite of Sex at the Magic Theatre here.

NPH is a man of many talents, but since he was promoting his book, the interviewer focused on his writing. When he asked how many in the audience hadn’t read the The Magic Misfits, lots of us raised our hands. (I’ve only read his Choose Your Own Autobiography.) There will be four books in the series, one for each suit in a deck of cards, and he’s currently busy writing the fourth one. Each book focuses on a different kid in the Misfits group. The kids do different kinds of practical magic (card tricks, illusions, sleight of hand, etc) since that’s the magic NPH is passionate and knowledgeable about. He talked about visiting a magic shop in the Albuquerque mall and watching Doug Henning’s yearly magic specials on TV when he was growing up. A friend from Theory11.com is currently helping him with card tricks, and the cards he used later were from the online shop.

For the Q&A with the audience, they had two portable microphones on either side of the auditorium. NPH asked that the lights be brought up partway so he could see out. I think he directed the staff to choose kids, which made a lot of sense as he was promoting a children’s book. No complaints from me, because the kids were cute and funny and their questions were better than mine. One boy at the beginning was given a black envelope for having such a good question, but NPH told him to hold on to it, don’t open it, and “don’t leave!” One of his longest answers was about the 2013 Tony Awards; he described rehearsing the opening number and learning the closing recap on the fly as it was written backstage throughout the show. NPH was adorable interacting with the kids, and he was funny as well.

NPH did one card trick, involving the three of hearts and the envelope he gave the boy during the Q&A. The woman sitting on my right criticized his card shuffling (“It’s not so fancy”) so she got most of the deck thrown at her, as well as a lot of grumbles and scowls.

At the end, NPH and a little boy pulled red tickets out of a fishbowl for the raffle. Elisa next to me was the fifth and final winner. The way she said “Yep” when her number was read was matter-of-fact, but I was stunned. Elisa assured me that I was her plus one, so we got red wristbands from a staff member before being led backstage. I thought all ten of us would do the meet & greet as a group, but instead we were taken in to the green room in pairs. Elisa and I got to go first, which was nice because her mom had to wait in the lobby/atrium. The green room was small and crowded, with lights and a blue background for the photos, a couch and coffee table with a cheese plate, several staff members, and of course, Neil Patrick Harris himself. A photographer was shooting us as we interacted with NPH, while another fellow took photos on our phones when we posed against the background. Elisa was the winner, so I stayed near the door and let her talk to Neil Patrick Harris first. They discussed her tattoos, and he looked genuinely interested as she described their significance.

Then NPH moved over to me. I awkwardly shook his hand, then told him I saw his Sweeney Todd with the San Francisco Symphony (summer 2001). He grinned and said he’d forgotten about that—a temporary lapse, I’m sure, not a Full Kavanaugh! I started to gush, saying back then we didn’t know he could sing and his song Not While I’m Around with PATTI…LuPone. He was looking at me with an expression that might have been “Um, yeah, I know; I was there.” I was trying to convey that his performance as Tobias stayed with me all these years, but yeah, not very coherent. I switched subjects to ask him why there were six kids on the book cover. We were on firmer ground again. He was adorably enthusiastic, explaining that the extra two were the twins Izzy and Olly. He held up the book, took off the dust jacket, and showed how the spines of the four books will have Magic Misfits spelled across them. (The Second Story has ICM.) Izzy and Olly are comic relief in the series, but they don’t get their own book. Since jokers aren’t part of the four card suits, there could be a fifth book in the series, but hey, that’s for NPH to decide!

Next, we had our photos taken with NPH. I went after Elisa; she told everyone that we’d only just met that night,Neil Patrick Harris and me probably to explain why we wanted separate pictures. After NPH put his arm around me (gently), I put mine around him (very gently) because the photo would be that much more awkward if my arm was down between us. I think Elisa and I both were pretty dazed after that, because NPH had to remind us that he’d personalize our pre-signed books. I told Elisa to have my copy signed to her friend, and I would take the one her mom had in the lobby. It was only fair, since Elisa and her mom were so generous with me. Elisa also had a playing card from the magic trick, and NPH kindly signed that as well.

When we came out of the green room, it seemed like there were more than eight people waiting to go in, but I didn’t count. A fellow with clipboard asked for our contact info and signatures to allow the JCCSF to use any of the photos taken for their social media. He also said they might send us some of the good ones, but so far that hasn’t happened. Many of the JCCSF events are available to watch online later, but I didn’t see any cameras, so I don’t think one will be shared.

So, thanks to Aaron Tveit, Neil Patrick Harris, and two generous moms and their daughters, I have a new poster, a new book, a new screensaver, and another awkward “stage door” story.

4 Comments

Filed under Actors, Literature, Music, Theatre

Best Tweets: April 2018

Okay, so I cheated this month. The first five tweets are from me, the rest were collected by my good friend, Katelyn. I’m still taking a twitter break while working on a big project for a reunion this summer. So, in no particular order, here are our favorite April tweets. As usual, the Swear Trek tweets give this a PG rating.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Actors, The Internet

Best Tweets: March 2018

March started out strong, with lots of great tweets. Then I began a huge project for my San Diego Junior Theatre reunion this summer, and I mostly disappeared from twitter. It was a nice break from negativity and bad news.

A few of these are screen captures instead of links, to make them easier to read. Sometimes I don’t see tweets until they’ve been retweeted by others, so the first of these are dated the end of February.

ttps://twitter.com/RobertMaguire_/status/969286630833098752

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Television

Throckmorton Theatre: In The Heights

This afternoon we drove over to Mill Valley to see the youth production of In The Heights at the Throckmorton Theatre. I’ve never been to this theatre before, but I’m definitely going back. I found out about the show when I saw an instagram post by a young actor I’ve seen twice now at A.C.T.’s Strand. I love supporting the teens, especially now as I prepare for the 70th anniversary of my youth theatre group.

When we booked our tickets, I forgot to check my calendar. I had planned to do the March for Our Lives in San Francisco. We didn’t change the date, because I felt the kids deserved a good audience. The performance dates were set before the march was organized, and the show must go on! When I placed my ticket order on the theatre website, I requested aisle seats but then noticed the seating was general admission. At Will Call, we discovered that they had reserved seats for us on the aisle in the front row, facing the step unit where some of nicest moments in the show were staged. We couldn’t have asked for better customer service. The theatre itself is adorable; I especially like the painted ceiling over the seats.

This was my first time seeing In The Heights. I’ve been listening to the cast album, so I was familiar with the songs and some of the storylines. Because the theatre is intimate, I appreciated the decision not to use heavy age makeup on the teens playing older roles. The talented performers like Jasmyne Brice as Abuela Claudia conveyed the age of their characters just fine without it. The role of Kevin Rosario is the perhaps the most challenging for a teen to play, and Javier Vicuna Kevin was excellent. Some of the lead roles were double cast for different performances. We had the delightful John Diaz as Usnavi. Both Anna Vorperian ( Vanessa) and Chloe Rodrigues (Nina) were lovely. Sassy Asal Takesh rocked as Daniela, while Gia Asher-Lagleva (Carla) was winsome and soulful. I would love to see the other cast perform these roles, but the show closes tomorrow. Fergus Campbell was both funny and touching as Benny, and feisty Anaya Smith-Orr shone as Camila Rosario. Sleiman Elahmadieh made the most of his role as Piragua Guy, as did Sam Yolles as Graffiti Pete. Kavi Subramanyan, the actor from the A.C.T. Young Conservatory, was a live-wire as Sonny. We enjoyed his cocky energy and his cheeky grin. The ensemble was diverse and spirited and thoroughly entertaining.

I was very impressed with the storefront set designed by Steve Coleman. The choreography by Stacey Printz made the most of the different levels and the relatively small stage for such a large ensemble of dancers. Director Kevin Allen did an excellent job staging the show and bringing out the best from his cast. I got to talk to him during the intermission, and his enthusiasm was infectious. And, after the performance, I finally got to meet Kavi!

As soon as we got home, I put myself on the Throckmorton mailing list. I’m looking forward to another musical at the Throck!

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Theatre

Best Tweets: February 2018

February was a hard month. The Parkland school shooting and the unrelenting bizarre news from the White House made my twitter feed more serious than usual. I’m now following some of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas student activists, as well as the US Olympic figure skaters and a few more authors. I’m still relying on Swear Trek for laughs, which gives this post a PG rating. These begin after the “continue reading” link.

Note: several of these are screen captures instead of links to the tweets, to make them easier to read.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Movies, Real Life, The Internet