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Monday, November 09, 2009

~Holy. Cabooses.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Holy. Cabooses.

(Previously: Matchmaker)

so, this is more perfect than I could possibly have expected.

Forty minutes after writing the last post, I left for Jerusalem and the first rehearsal of The Matchmaker, in which I will be playing the part of Barnaby.

Barnaby is a sidekick character. He's 17, has never left home before, and gets pulled along on a wacky adventure in the big city. His catch phrase is "Holy cabooses!". I do him with a nasal voice and hunched shoulders. I basically knew that I was getting the part before I even wrote that other post, because at one point in the callbacks the director slipped up: When telling us how to read a new scene, she meant to say "..and Barnaby will be played by Mory...", but instead said "..and Barnaby will be played by Barnaby...". So I had a good hunch that she wanted me for that part.

And reading through the play at that callback, I was a bit conflicted. Because on the one hand, Barnaby was a really good part. It'll especially have a lot of fun physical comedy. But y'know, I heard how some of the other parts were being played, and I felt like I could do them better. I'm told that all actors feel like that when watching other actors. And it's probably not any more true in my case than it is with other actors. I should have learned from watching that 1776 DVD that I'm not the actor I think I am. But still, I wanted to get a turn doing the other parts, just that once. So after the other male actors had all left, I stuck around and read for all three young male roles: Barnaby, Ambrose (the other one I'd tried at the auditions) and Cornelius.

Cornelius is the one that gets all the funny lines, he's one of the three leads (along with Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergelder). Ambrose is a romantic artist who wants to elope with his girlfriend but has a hard time getting her to go along with the idea. For a few, glorious minutes, I got to play both of them and Barnaby, even though I knew I would only be getting Barnaby. (Who, granted, is a better character than Ambrose. So there's that.) Sometimes I'd be talking to myself, doing two voices. When we stopped for the night, Tanya said that she wished she could split me in three and have me play all the roles, and of course I understood perfectly well that that was just flattery. But still -that was so much fun.

I was surprised at this first rehearsal to see that some people from the callback who I thought had done a good job weren't in the play. Or at least, they're not doing the parts I thought they were. An old and experienced actor did a fabulous job with the part of old man Vandergelder, but he's apparently been given Vandergelder's assistant instead. Vandergelder was given to a younger actor (Actually, the father of the actor who's playing Cornelius, who's the same guy who walked into the audition with me.), I assume because Dolly was given to a young actress. So one thing you can say about Tanya: she uses what she has in creative ways. At the very last minute she might change her mind about something huge, but she'll change it to something interesting. For instance, that lady with the accents that I mentioned before (Sorry, I don't remember her name.) is supposed to kiss me at one point in the play, but she raised an objection on religious grounds and almost at once Tanya came up with a solution: just as she comes to kiss me, I faint. In the context of that scene, that's a great idea. So I guess the unconventional casting is part of that out-of-the-box approach.

Oh, and by the way: she's decided that our version of the play is set in the 1960s. And she's making very significant edits and rewrites to keep it under two hours. So this isn't a straight rendition of the material by any means. Which is good, because it'll help us distinguish ourselves from.. you know what, there's a funny story here, but it has nothing to do with anything. So left-click here if you're interested.

On Friday night, I was next door at Avri and Lorien's house, and a friend of theirs came by from the Aviv neighborhood. This is someone who I recognize from Games Nights, but not someone I know well. I asked him what he was up to, and he said that while attending Bar-Ilan University he's been involved with a play they're putting on. "Oh?", I asked, "What play is that?", and he said "The Matchmaker". Yeah. So I asked him, "Who are you playing?", and he said "Barnaby". Think about the odds there for a second. They started rehearsing a week ago, and they're performing in January. At our rehearsal today I told Tanya about this (She'd been unaware.), and she immediately came up with some creative but dubious ideas of how we could use this to our advantage. Aaaaanyway..

I got to the rehearsal a few minutes late, and that was after taking a taxi rather than a bus. There was just so much traffic, we would have needed to leave a half hour earlier (That's two hours transportation time.) to get there on time. Oh, yeah, I said "we". It turns out, all of JEST's shows are rehearsed in the same place at the same time. So I might sometimes be going to Jerusalem with Dena, who has a small but important part in "Another Antigone". I don't think I would have thought to take a taxi. I got to the rehearsal way before Barnaby's first line, and someone was reading Ambrose who wasn't actually the actor for Ambrose. After Act 1, we took a little break and Tanya mentioned that if we ever get there late, we're fired. (No pressure.) A long time after we started, a guy who smelled like cigarettes but seemed pretty friendly walked in and sat next to me. That was our Ambrose. He didn't do a very good job, but that bothered me less now that I knew officially which part I was getting.

What did bother me was that Tanya's planned cuts (mentioned earlier) take out a lot of good material for Barnaby. So when we stopped for the night, I was feeling like maybe this wasn't going to be quite as great as I'd hoped, though of course it'd be much more fun than my previous roles. And then Tanya said that she'd like to talk to me for a second.

She said to me that she might be firing the guy she had for Ambrose, in which case I'd be playing two parts.

And let me be clear: these are both good parts. I'd be happy to play either one. But both! Switching back and forth! And it's not even my birthday!

Apparently, there's only one point in the whole play where both Ambrose and Barnaby are on stage. And Barnaby doesn't talk there. So Tanya's idea is that at that one point, we'll replace Barnaby with a doll dressed in his clothes. I don't know if something quite that drastic is necessary (Surely he can just go to the bathroom?), but that is funny. Apparently Tanya would really trust me with playing two parts. She wasn't lying.

So I'm there 100%. Whatever it takes to get this to work, I'll do it. There would be no less than seven costume changes, each of them a rush. So I'd just have to practice speed. Hey, I've beaten one of the F-Zero GX cups on Master. I can do speed. Doing two different voices with distinct speech patterns? Hey, I read the Megillah. That's eight voices. Keeping in my head the way two different characters think, and switching back and forth between them on the fly? Hi.

Okay, I admit it. This will be friggin' hard. But this is my kind of hard.



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