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Monday, January 26, 2009

A Rather Long Hiatus

In my previous post, I described my second-to-last stage acting experience.

"Next month we're going to have Odd CUPPle....." was 40 years ago.

Except for a couple of minor appearances on my sitcoms, my next actual stage performance was last year.

I did the lead, the title role in a musical in Los Angeles called "The Brain From Planet X".

The show is a delight. Funny, tuneful, a blast.

It got unanimously great reviews, as did I (puff, puff).

It came about in a rather flukey manner. I did not pursue this.

I hadn't been in L.A. that often.

I still keep a place in Malibu that overlooks the ocean (puff, puff).

Twice a year, once on my birthday in November, and once on my wife's birthday in February,
we spend a week in Malibu.

Last February, as I usually do when I'm in town, I call up friends and try to arrange to have lunch or dinner with them.

I called up one of my writer friends, and we had lunch.
My wife, trying to soak up the sun in February, something you can't do in Michigan, stayed home.

My friend and I met, at one of our usual haunts, DuPars, in Studio City. Right near where he lives.

He had once tried to get me to do one of the two leads in a movie he was putting together, a comedy, and he invited another actor over to his house, where he and I, upon request, started improvising these two characters.
Now, I'm not a big fan of Improv. I consider it merely to be fast writing.
And I had never done it before. But I took to it very easily.
My writer friend was peeing in his in pants.
The movie never happened.

Okay, back to DuPars. He's already seated.
I approach and sit down opposite him.
The first words to me were "I know you can act, but can you sing?"
I responded "Like a bird."
He told me about "Brain From Planet X", which was his show.
It sounded great.
And he was going to be directing it.
Knowing him to be an extraordinary writer, director, and musician, I knew sight unseen that it WOULD be great.
We ate, and he brought me back to his house.
He handed me a script, and I applied my afore-mentioned cold-reading skills.

Peeing in his pants.

He brought me over to the piano.
He played, while standing (what with his wet pants and all), and sang what would be one of my songs, and said "Sing it back to me."
I did.
He tossed me the script, and said "It's yours if you want it."
Now, I hadn't been asked to this particular kind of dance in quite some time.
I was very flattered to be asked.

There had been other productions of this show.
One in New York.
He told me it was not reviewed well, and that now, in L.A., it would be be part of a major Festival of New Musicals, which would be going on all over town.
It would be his last chance to get really good reviews, and thus get a prestigious firm to buy the amateur rights.
Realizing it was really important to him, I said, reassuringly, while crossing my fingers, "Well, we'll fix that."

So, I went back to the beach, and told my wife that I wasn't returning with her to Michigan on Friday.
I was going to stay out here for the next 4 months and do the lead in a musical.
Of course, her jaw dropped.
All the way to the floor.

If you're at all interested in getting a taste of what me doing a musical is like, go to YouTube, type in my name, and click on "The Brain From Planet X".
That clip is the promo for the show, and I am interviewed in it.
For the morbidly curious, you'll get to see what I look like.
After you look at the promo, stay on that page. On the screen, it will offer a look at "Brain Tap".
Or on the right hand side, there is a column with the heading, Related Videos.
Click on the one that says "Brain Tap".
It's 3 minutes of the show, in performance, with me figuring prominently.
You mostly just see my back, wearing a gaudy cape, with a big brain on top of my head.
You see my face for a brief moment, but you hear me loud and clear.
Much of my stuff in the clip is ad-lib, designed to be that way.
The audience reaction is genuine, consistently responsive, and representative of what the whole show is like.
You don't get to hear me sing.
That's Show Business.

If you want to check out the reviews, e-mail me and I'll tell you how you can.
If you hear that a production of this show is playing in your area, make plans immediately to see it.
You will not regret this decision.

It was a thoroughly delightful experience. I got to bond with some very nice people.
Most of the cast were in their 20's, and I was embraced by them.
I embraced back.

I just wanted to see if I could still hit it out of the park after 40 years, and I found out that I could.

To contradict Thomas Wolfe, you CAN go home again.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."