Love / Reason / Belief
Volume 4 Book 1 Part 8 of
Living in the Bonus Round

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

August 25, 2004.
The Gladiator Pit & A Voice Rings Out.
The scene now is us in the new theatre space for The Big Voice--NYMY. We are rather stunned. The Belt Theatre is one of those ultra-cool new theatre spaces that have been carved out of a building in the old garment district. "Ultra-cool," though also means "challenge." (It's next to The Zipper where Bebe Neuwirth is doing a show).

Not exactly Broadway. But close!
Picture a rectangular narrow room. On the right side is a stage facing
the wall on your left. In fact, it almost reaches the other side. In front of that stage is one row of chairs.

This is the stage. The wall is immediately to your left.

This is a reverse shot of man sitting in chair in front of stage.

Just above that one row of chairs is a balcony which leans out almost over the stage itself. On that balcony are two and three rows of church pews (with cushions), sharply raked. The top row is near the ceiling.

This is where the audience sits.

Looking down at stage from row two.

Looking at balcony from stage.

I've never seen anything quite like it. At first our hearts literally sank and we just stared at each other. What is this? The Old Globe? I grabbed Kris Stewart, the director of NYMF and I don't know what I told him. I just kept saying it was crazy. That this was an insane space. That it was the worst possible choice for a show like ours.

He smiled sweetly and said that even though it looks weird, there has been some very powerful and interesting theatre done there.

Well, I'll say this, there won't be much space between the audience and performer. I hope people like their shows delivered literally in their laps cuz that's where we'll be playing.

We met our lighting designer, Traci. She was really gracious and seemed really smart. I have to send her a script. And we met two women associated with another musical sharing The Belt with us called [name of show] -- a musical about people writing a musical for a festival. (And yes, "[name of show]" in brackets is the name of the show.)

One good thing about having the audience above us is that my googly eye will look less googly since it's always kind of looking up all the time anyway (thus giving me my angelic look).

We are thinking, also, of doing the show without body mics. The space is small. The acoustics seemed "alive." (I'll still need to use an electronic keyboard for staging reasons).

So, it was a bit shocking at first to see the space. But we can make it work. Who knows? It's so unusual it might start a new trend! It's like we're in a gladiator pit. I guess I'll have to get my Russell Crowe impersonation going.

Anyway, we were recovering from the initial shock when Jimmy suggested we visit his old church, St. Malachi's, the "church for actors" which is nestled right in the middle of the theatre district.

That's when it happened.

A sign from above.

I swear this actually happened. And when it happened, we stopped dead in our tracks, thinking we were going absolutely insane, but clearly we were being sent a message.

We round the corner of 49th Street, we see St. Malachy's...

...suddenly the church bells starting ringing through the evening air. How lovely the church bells.

What's that they're playing? Hm. Sounds familiar.


It cannot be.

We both looked at each other at the same time. A shiver went down our spines.

The church bells were ringing "There's No Business Like Show Business."

Ethel Merman was calling to us from beyond telling us to just have faith. Thank you, Ethel. We hear the Big Voice.

Loud and clear.

August 26, 2004.
Visit To An Exclusive Club.
We were invited to luncheon at the LOTOS Club. Now, I never heard of the LOTOS Club but when we mentioned it to some other friends here, they all responded with, "Ooooo," so we knew it had to be some kind of fancy, shmancy place. And sure enough, the address was just off Fifth Avenue and Central Park. The friends who brought us were Stanley and Ivy Relkin, the rabbi and his wife.

Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Outside the LOTOS Club. That's their flag.

Jim with Ivy.


Has that man been there all along?

The bar in that upper picture is in the dining room located in the basement. They have very distinguished guests of arts and literature and politics. Each of them is represented by their framed picture on the wall. The frames cover the walls. Names from Dwight Eisenhower to Kander & Ebb, Beverly Sills to Rogers & Hammerstein. It's very impressive. And you knew it was a fancy place because club "guests" had menus without prices on them. Only the host can pay. (Thank god).

After lunch we cruised along Fifth Avenue.

Here's what I look like, googly eye and all.

Harry Winston display case of diamonds.

Right next to a guy raising catfood money.

The Plaza. No matter how famous you get, the pidgeons have the last word.

New York was on alert today because of the Republican convention. At the Plaza, some people rapelled down the side and put anti-Bush banners up.

St. Patrick's cathedral.

Inside the cathedral.
So, that's our little tour of Fifth Ave.

Next: Our amazing weekend in Connecticut.

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

© 1996-2004 by Steve Schalchlin.
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