Saturday, July 11, 2009

Latest Honor Roll Inductees, Liam Update, The Straw Hat Circuit and Running on the Cape

Hello, everyone!

We begin, of course, with the latest and greatest members of the Fred's Team Honor Roll:




(where all the cool people rehearse!!)

bringing the total going to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in honor of Liam Witt to


which is a terrific amount, but we've got a ways to go.

Don't you want to be the one who brings me over the $2000 mark? A prize to that person! I say, a prize!! Just click here, or on the links to the side and bottom of the page.

Let me just say that any amount you can donate to my marathon effort is amazing. Even if it's only $5, that's more than they had before. That $5 could buy the test tube that the medication that finally eradicates neuroblastoma is mixed in. Or it could buy decorations for the MSKCC pediatric prom. Over 80 percent of your donation goes directly to research and patient care. That $5 adds up in more ways than one.

Liam update -- he's been in MSKCC for the last couple of weeks with a fever that finally broke as of today, the writing of this entry, so he's on his way home! Hooray! For those who don't know, when you're in chemo and develop a fever, you have to go to the hospital, because chances are it could be something other than the flu.

Here are some pix from mom Gretchen's Facebook page:

His hair may be gone, but not his spirit. The second picture is him making snow in a throw-up bucket, which they then stuffed into latex gloves and passed around to people who, as Gretchen put it, "needed a hand."

Is it any wonder why I run the marathon in his honor? Please, once again, I ask you to click here and make a donation, whatever you can, in honor of this brave little guy.

Onto the what-the-heck-have-I-been-up-to portion of the show.

Firstly, my annual stint with Broadway Bares, the theater community's annual strip show for charity. The link will take you to the site, where there are a LOT of pictures to look at, like this one:

This is from the Living Art of Armando, a Las Vegas act that comes every year to perform in Bares. Bares is both beautiful and naughty, a really fun evening of dance and striptease, all to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the organization founded by the theatrical community that provides both grants for AIDS organizations and direct assistance to PWAs worldwide. There's a little something for everyone in the show. And I have a lot of fun working it -- it's my 8th year, I think. This year we raised over $800,000.

Can you see me in that photo? Hope not. I'm behind the panel to the far left of the photo.

After that (literally, the next day, or in my case, four hours later) I began rehearsals for SLEUTH, one of the productions for the Cape Playhouse. Even though I have somewhat bowed out of theater for the moment to concentrate on my steno, the Cape is something I love to do. Alas, no, we don't get to rehearse at the Cape, we rehearse in NYC.

The Cape Playhouse is literally the last remnant of the "straw hat circuit," where there used to be tons of theaters across the US that shared shows. In a nutshell, it went something like this: All the shows had a stage manager, who was responsible for the maintenance of the show, and each theater had its own stage manager, who was responsible for the running of the show. All the shows would rehearse at the same time, then fan out to their respective first stops on a Friday, and add all the technical elements (lights, sound, props, etc.) on Saturday and Sunday. The show would open on Monday. The show's SM, called the "advance" would take all of the information about the show, including how the show is run (the "calling script," which has all the sound and light cues, and the crew's sheets -- how the props are set, what the crew does during the show, etc.) and travels to the show's next stop. See, the only things that traveled with the show -- besides the actors -- are the costumes, the sound tapes, and any specialty props that would be hard to replicate at other venues. While Show A is playing at Theater 1, the advance is at Theater 2, looking at the set they're building, picking the props for the show,teaching the theater's SM how to call the new show, etc. On Saturday night, all the shows do their last performance. All the theaters strike the show Saturday night. Sunday, the actors all travel to their new locale, as the theaters install the new sets. Sunday night, the advance techs through the show with the crew. Monday afternoon, the actors tech through the show in the new locale, and Monday night, the show opens in its new locale. Repeat until every show has played in every theater.

When I first started SMing on the circuit, there were still three theaters doing this -- the Cape Playhouse, the Ogunquit Playhouse (in Maine) and the Westport Playhouse (in CT.) I was the resident at the Ogunquit Playhouse for four years, before switching over to advancing for the Cape. Now, the only theater still on this contract is the Cape, and they still use the advance/resident SM system.

One of the reasons I love working at the Cape -- and ultimately the reason I left the OP -- are traditions. It's corny and hokey, but I love it. For example, Gertrude Lawrence was a great friend of the Playhouse's, appearing numerous times on the stage and eventually settling in Dennis. Her ghost lives at the theater, and has been known to create havoc when disrespected. July 3rd is her birthday, and as her favorite flowers are hydrangeas, it's imperative that they are delivered to the Playhouse and put in "her" dressing room, under her picture. This year, the flowers were coming from the driveway of her house, which was extra-special, and everyone was hyped up about the flower delivery. It's stuff like that. I love that deference to tradition. When the Ogunquit traditions were paved over -- literally (long and dull story) -- I left.

Anyways, SLEUTH, the comedy murder mystery. Starring Malcolm Gets and Peter Frechette, two of the nicest and finest actors one could ever hope to work with. Go see them!!

One of my other favorite things about the Cape Playhouse is getting to run on Cape Cod. They actually brought us up to the Cape a few days early to rehearse on the set, which was erected in the shop, because there's so much action on the stairs and the second level, neither of which we had in the rehearsal hall. That gave me the chance to get in both a short run and a long run in the five days we had there (normally I'm only there three days, and only get the chance for a long run.)

For the short run, my favorite destination -- Chapin Beach. I tried taking some pictures with my phone, but it just doesn't do it justice. It's just so darn blue and gorgeous. It's about a six-mile trip from either the motel I stay in, or the theater, perfect for an outing. The only thing that's a problem is the complete lack of sidewalks, and the shoulder of the road is graded, to allow for run-off from storms. There's no safe place to run along route 6A except on the road itself, which is the major route to get from wherever one is to wherever one wants to go (if that makes sense.) And as for Massachusetts drivers, they don't call them "Massholes" for nothing.

Rant -- why are there no sidewalks anywhere? We lament about how fat America is getting, but how can they exercise if there are no sidewalks for them to walk on safely? No wonder we've become a car culture.

Once off 6A, it's onto smaller local roads to get down to the beach area. No sidewalks, but much safer. Chapin and Mayflower Beaches are right next to each other, with Corporation Beach just a little further south. I love all three, but Chapin is also next to some protected greenland, and there's a winding path from one end of the beach to about the middle that has dunes on one side and the preserve on the other that's such a treat to be on.

As for my long run, I decided to play it safe, especially as it was the 4th of July weekend, and stick to the one sidewalk I know -- Setucket Road. It's about a mile up to Setucket, then I stuck to the sidewalk all the way down to Rte 134, then up 134 until Bob Crowell Road, then up that until Old Bass River Road. I didn't follow that to its length, as I was only doing 12, and did it by time rather than distance -- turned around at the 1 hour mark, knowing I was doing about 9:30s, so finished a little more than 12 by the time I got back. Not as scenic a route, but there's a lot of good house porn. I love these gorgeous houses. I wish I could own one. Sigh.

The other thing I notice on these runs: I like to be hydrated. And for a long run, I need a sports drink. There are no water fountains on these roads, and the one time I tried to leave water bottles -- since they're all on private property and everyone at the Cape apparently wakes up at 5am -- they were all thrown away. So when I do a long run at the Cape, I wear my knockoff Camelbak with water AND a Feul Belt with sports drink (PowerAde rules! Hey, watch the commercial on the right side of my blog. It don't cost you anything, and it makes the Coca-Cola people -- Fred's Team sponsors -- happy!) I basically look like a friggin' astronaut instead of a distance runner. And there are other runners out there, and yet NONE of them have any water on them. None. Am I a wimp? Are Massachusetts runners made of hardier stock, or are they camels, or just fools? What's going on?

Twelve good miles and change, in just under two hours. Felt good.

I'll repeat that run next time I'm up there, probably adding a few miles.

Tomorrow's the first NYRR Marathon Long Training Run. Don't know how many miles we're supposed to do. Guess I'll find out in the AM. The longest Team run we've done is 12 miles, but I've already done two half marathons. The loops are 6-5-5-4. So are we doing 11, or 16? Hmm...

Lastly, because this is running quite long, I've taken the next podcast step, by getting hosting space at godaddy. The good folks from the second NYC Runners Who Blog and Podcast meetup, some of whom both blog and podcast, gave me some great advice at our last outing. I've got some transcripts to do this weekend, but I'm also going to try to put together podcast #1(!) and get it out there by the end of the week. Eek! I hate the way my voice sounds, and I'm a rotten interviewer, but I'm trying to be Zen about it. It will be what it will be. That's the main reason I haven't put one out yet -- I try writing it and recording it and I'm just too picky. I tried for the better part of two months just to put together a five-minute thing. No dice. This time -- damn the torpedoes!!

Okay, 'nuff chat. Out for a short something before tomorrow's long something.

Talk soon!!

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