Friday, February 15, 2019

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Nat King Cole


NAT
Twas the night before Christmas and through the big house,
Not a creature was stirring, ‘they’d just hung little grey mouse.
He stops and looks at SAMMY. SAMMY smiles with his big fat white teeth.
SAMMY
You’re the one who wrote it. What happened to little grey mouse, Nat?
NAT continues:
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
Little Mouse thought he saw his good name sparkling there.
Santa’s table’d been set and he’d taken a nibble
Thinking cookies were his right or some such foul dribble.
Daddy heard a crumb drop and stormed down with a thud,
DADDY (PRODUCER) & NAT
No one touches what’s mine and now I want blood!
NAT & MOUSE
But I thought they were mine too, in the stars and stripes it was written
DADDY
Written when you didn’t have words now its your ass that’s been bitten.
BETTY AND STAGE MANAGER AS CHILDREN
But Little Grey’s our favorite!
NAT
The children pleaded trying to stop it.

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Mommy tried to calm daddy’s nerves with a lap sit.
But Daddy’d been mad, gave everyone a stern pinch,
DADDY
It’s what we must do.
DADDY & NAT
They’ll take it all if we inch!
NAT
And with sullen resolve, daddy handed a string
To Tim, his too timid son,
NAT & DADDY
Tis YOU, must do him in.
Dad hands Tim a string shaped like a noose.
NAT
For daddy was wise and could spot a soft heart
And softness was about as good to a man as a fart.
Tim timidly tiptoed, cup in hand trying to trap him
When out from the corner, a thick hand turned to slap him.
DADDY & NAT
Too slow, he’ll escape and he’ll tell the others at that,
The truth is he’s not a mouse, but a rat.
He’s a rat-rabid dog-monkey-beast you’ll soon see son,
To steal your fear of him don’t use cups, but a gun
NAT
Under creaky floorboards lived great granddaddy’s Winchester.
He’d been waiting for the day where he could finally test her.
The gun loaded, daddy gloated,
DADDY
Now here’s where we have fun.
NAT
Fully expecting little grey to turn and run, run, run.

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But little grey turned, defying dad’s expectation,
And offered this somewhat puzzling explanation.
MOUSE (YOUNG NAT)
I’m not scared of you.
MOUSE
It’s the other way around, this house is mine not yours, that truth shall be found.
You’re hell bent on settling some half-cocked score
but if you kill me now, there will be ten more.
COMPANY (Pulling up masks and whispers)
Don’t bother to answer the knock at the door,
Cause if you kill me now, there will be ten more.
Company puts masks back on. Physicality and look becomes more sinister. Music
begins to change to Kurt Weill style.
NAT
You could hear a pin drop as little grey looked in the man’s one good eye.
NAT AND MOUSE
We could all live in peace if you weren’t such a greedy guy.
NAT
Daddy saw red, red, red blurted.
DADDY
Insolent Nigger!!!
NAT
His ears were ringing “Ave Maria” as he pulled the steel trigger.
Sharp as teeth of the devil, bullet out of barrel tore,
And little grey’s great Glorious head was no more.
Mommy let out a shriek and tried to cover their eyes
But sweet Sally saw and got presciently wise.
DADDY
I’ll hang him by his tale so rebels won’t nibble or peep.

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Santa can come, eat his cookies, and leave presents as you sleep
NAT
Timid Tim rushed upstairs followed by Mommy in tow,
But Sally walked a little more stumbly and slow.
She wanted a fairy tale ending where she could stand on her pedestal with ease
SALLY
But in Santa and Daddy, she no longer believed.
NAT
Daddy sat for a moment after cleaning the wall with bleach
Thinking of the old days when life tasted more like a peach.
He then dragged his club foot up the stairs with a clump
Tucked the gun under the bed when thought he heard a bump.
He perked up his ears, felt his tremble begin.
Mother smoothed his wide brow.
CANDY (MOMMY)
Hush, it’s just the wind.
NAT
Daddy offered mommy a sip from his bedside flask,
Mommy’s eyes sparkled like sugarplums behind her mask.
They groped and grunted, fell asleep, Daddy snored,
Feeling peaceful that the old order they helped to restore.
Beautifully, music has resolved.
SAMMY
Flip It Over
NAT
But that’s how it ends.
SAMMY
The Coda. There is always a coda. Do it the way you wrote it. Show them what’s
behind door number three.

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NAT
No, Sammy. No.
SAMMY
They’ve got to know we’ve got a breaking point.
NAT
But I don’t know if I could put back the pieces.
SAMMY
Brother, I’ll catch you if you fall.
THE COMPANY
We all will.
Nat takes a moment, trying to decide what to do. Perlina sings.
LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING
PERLINA
LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING,
TILL EARTH AND HEAVEN RING,
RING WITH THE HARMONIES OF LIBERTY
NAT
Twas the night before Christmas and things were quiet mostly,
Till you began to listen keenly and closely.
Anthem continues under Nat.
LET OUR REJOICING RISE
HIGH AS THE LIST’NING SKIES,
LET IT RESOUND LOUD AS THE ROLLING SEA.
SING A SONG FULL OF THE FAITH THAT THE DARK PAST HAS TAUGHT US,
SING A SONG FULL OF THE HOPE THAT THE PRESENT HAS BROUGHT US;
FACING THE RISING SUN OF OUR NEW DAY BEGUN,
LET US MARCH ON TILL VICTORY IS WON.
It has been a long time coming, but you began to hear a drum
The soil was tired of drinking black blood, a change was going to come
While grey mouse lay rotting and his family did wail
A new generation had another end to the tale.

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And then slowly a scratch turned into a crackle
The walls started to glow and melt all the spackle.
Silent grey smoke swirled like a dancer
Tim woke up ‘cause he thought it was,
TIM
Prancer?
NAT
And what he saw was a fright but he could not scream
The blaze gobbled them all up, as hungry as a dream.
All that was left, ashes that formed the pattern of “Free.”
And the sound of chanting - From where? …Well You’ll see.
PERLINA
LET US MARCH ON
TILL VICTORY IS WON.
COMPANY (Except for Nat)
LET US MARCH ON TILL VICTORY IS WON.
NAT
Don’t bother to answer the knock at the door
Cause if you kill me now, there will be ten more.
MOUSE
Ten more.
The company whispers this last phrase again and again as the lights dim on our entire
company of actors except for a pin spot on NAT. The wind takes them away with a whistle.
SAMMY whistles the intro of “The Christmas Song.” Nat is alone.
THE CHRISTMAS SONG
NAT
CHESTNUTS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE
JACK FROST NIPPING AT YOUR NOSE.
YULETIDE CAROLS BEING SUNG BY A CHOIR AND
FOLKS DRESSED UP LIKE ESKIMOS.
EVERYBODY KNOWS A TURKEY AND SOME MISTLETOE
HELP TO MAKE THE SEASON BRIGHT.
TINY TOTS WITH THEIR EYES ALL AGLOW WILL
FIND IT HARD TO SLEEP TONIGHT.

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PEGGY/BETTY
THEY KNOW THAT SANTA'S ON HIS WAY.
STAGE MANAGER (Knocks on the door)
Fifteen minutes.
STAGE MANAGER
Still no sign of the broad. Did you hear me
Mr. Cole?
NAT
First, Peggy Lee is not a broad she’s an icon.
Second, she is my friend and she would not
let me down today.
EARTHA
HE


Thursday, November 29, 2018

review - Come From Away

CRITIC's PICK
Come From Away
Book, Lyrics and Music by Irene Sankoff and David Hein
directed by Christopher Ashley
musical staging by Kelly Devine
music supervison by Ian Eisendrath
Ahmanson Theatre
through January 6

It's hardly ordinary for a musical to have it all. Come From Away is one of these extraordinary musical ventures that has a heartpounding score, dynamic true story, brilliant direction by Christopher Ashley and an incredible 12 member ensemble who give new meaning to ensemble playing. Now onstage at the Ahmanson through January 6, 2019, Come From Away should be at the very top of your must see list.

Book writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein show what happened when 38 planes were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland on September 11, 2001. Because of the New York and Washington bombings, no one  could enter the US. 7000 passengers from across the globe who were aboard the 38 planes were put into shelters for 5 days while the leaders of Gander supervised and literally fed, cleaned and tried to comfort them. Sankoff aznd Hein have also written the passionately surging music and lyrics. I have never seen such an even and steady flow of dialogue to song and back in a show. Lyrics and words blend together as if in one continuously smooth monologue/ It is so well coordinated by both writers/composers that you are pulled in, held onto and never allowed to let go.


Director Ashley wondrously moves at ultra fast pace, along with Kelly Divine's musical staging, the 12 actors around the stage with 12 chairs - all completely different from one another - being set up in different configurations to show the interior of one of the planes, the airfield, a local school, shelter, mayoral offices or a local bar. It's amazing to watch the actors one second be the inhabitants of Gander and the next the strangers on a plane who have not slept in over 24 hours and are worried to death about what will happen in their immediate future

All of the ensemble are triple threat performers: Andrew Samonky, Nick Duckart, Julie Johnson, Danielle K. Thomas, Megan McGinnis, Chamblee Ferguson, James Earl Jones II, Kevin Carolan, Harter Clingman, Becky Gulsvig, Christine Toy Johnson and Emily Walton, all of whom play various roles. Each has his or her turn in the spotlight but it is hard to forget especially Gulsvig "Me and the Sky" with her ode to women pilots and to all female role models. Nor is it easy to forget Samonsky as Kevin T and Duckart as Kevin J when they find out that other gays exist in this forsaken place and exclaim one of the funniest passages in the script, "We somehow ended up in the gayest town in Newfoundland...there must be something in the water." And one of the homophobic rednecks replies, "That's why I only drink the beer." Another sad but memorable character is Hannah and Thomas is defintely a standout as she tries to hunt down her firefighter son in NYC. And...as animal rescuer Bonnie McGinnis adds so much care and support.

Let's pay homage to the great creative team: set designer Beowulf Boritt, costume designer Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Howell Binkley and sound by Gareth Owen, all of whom create a wondrous spectacle through artistic simplicity.


If I had only one show to see, it would be Come From Away. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on that fateful day in 2001, but to visualize and feel the impact on 7000 different people in Gander with a real sense of community involvement adds special appreciation. Why Come From Away did not win the Tony for Best Musical boggles my mind!

5 out of 5 stars
www.centertheatregroup.org

(photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

seniors


Seniors often get a bad rap. Once you have passed the age of youth and beauty, you are put out to pasture as useless and unappealing. I beg to differ. Seniors have great value and continue to plant seeds for future generations.

There are many seniors in the public eye who have kept themselves abreast of the latest fads and styles and still appeal to all age groups. Let's talk Betty White, in her nineties and still looking and acting like a pretty fifty year-old. She's funny, loves animals and is absolutely charming. Remember George Burns? He was a great comedian and won an Oscar well into his eighties.

It does not matter if you are not a celebrity. I read in this morning's paper that a seventy-five year-old man saved a kitten from a tree and returned it to its owner. Obviously, in great physical condition, he climbed up and down the tree. And then had the intelligence and stamina to seek out the owner by knocking on every door of every house on the street until he found where little Scottie belonged. He, of course, refused any monetary reward. He believes it is the duty of every citizen to keep up with the concerns of the community and to give of one's self with pride and honor

If you want further proof that seniors are a valuable part of our society, look to your ancestors and see how they had it tough, but through a cautious plan of survival made it through and paved the way for others to follow.