Volume 3 Book 1 Part 9 of
Living in the Bonus Round

The stylish entrance to LA City College Theatre.

[ Book 2-10 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] - [ Book 3-2 ]

October 11, 2002.
LACC & Zephyr Marquee.
"We don't really write plays 'the right way,'" Jimmy said to the hundred or so theatre department students at LA City College.

The occasion was us doing a program for the entire assembled department. Take a half hour and talk about The Big Voice, do some "scenes," discuss the process (along with bits of Jimmy's long theatrical career that led to his having his caricature on the wall of Sardi's...

...interjection. Friends were in New York last week. They called us on a cell, "Hey, we're eating under your face...
...) ending with another half hour of questions and answers from the students. One of the first questions was, "What's the process you use in writing a new piece?"

I answered, "I become obsessed with something and I just start writing about it. One song leads to another and to another. Then I think, "What haven't I said yet?" and I continue, each one filling in the blanks. When they're done, there isn't a storyline, but there is an emotional arc. I'm kinda like Tom Sawyer. I start painting a fence. Then he comes along and grabs the brush out of my hand and finishes the fence."

Yesterday at rehearsal Jimmy outlined our plan, "Let's do this. We'll do the opening number, then make a big cut to where I met Merman and finish through the end of Act One. That should be about a half hour. They'll get a big sample of the play itself and hear the New York stories all in one."

The big question, though, was this: Would these young people understand a show written by two guys at least 30 years their senior?

Well, we needn't have worried. They were with us from the first word. And it was so envigorating to be doing the show on such a large stage! The energy of an audience in a huge arena when they're just so WITH you, is astonishing. They applauded, laughed, applauded, laughed, and then when we finished, stood at once in a standing ovation. Jimmy said to me later, "This was the most inspirational part of this whole process, to see these young people just energized by what they saw -- and to be energized by them!"

(Click on image for larger version).
I promised the students I'd show their faces. Now mom and dad can see them!

And I want to say a word about LACC. Jim Moody, a faculty member, took us around and explained how the "kids" start before 8 in the morning with dance and exercises and work long through the day. They have the chance to learn every aspect of theatre -- and the faculty takes a hands-on approach. You could see it in their faces as they eagerly asked intelligent and probing questions.

"Is it strange to play yourselves in a play?" One boy asked.

Jimmy replied, "Well, we found in the process that we were creating characters based on us but now I think of 'Jim' as just another character."

I added, "I remember in rehearsal one time I was doing something or made a suggestion -- and both Anthony and Jim turned to me and said, 'Steve would never do that!' So for, me, I'm actually learning things about myself, seeing myself through the eyes of others."

This is one of those times I wished I could split myself in two. I could easily spend the rest of my life as a teacher. That is, if anyone would have me.

After our little show there, it was on to the Zephyr to finish our tech. As we rounded the corner we saw two things we dearly love:

Our name up in lights and Jeramy Peay our stage manager.

The Zephyr Theatre is right next to Hollywood Neon,
the best neon light creators in town.

"Hi, Jeramy! Are we late?"

[ Book 2-10 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] - [ Book 3-2 ]
© 1996-2002 by Steve Schalchlin.
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