Uncommon Ground
Volume 4 Book 3 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(Part 11)
Steve Schalchlin
Steve Schalchlin rehearsing.

[ Book 4-2 ] --  [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ]  [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ]
[ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ] -- [ Book 4-4 ]

April 16-21, 2005.
The Big Voice in NoHo.
Catching up, I got a phone call from my doctor with my lab test results. He said, "Your tests were beautiful. Your t-cells are up to 501 and your viral load remains undetectable. Good work. Keep up the great diet and we'll see you again in a couple of months."

YAY! One of the reasons we were crossing our fingers on this was that, because of problems with peripheral neuropathy in my toes and fingers, we had dropped one of my anti-virals. So the question was whether the three remaning anti-virals could handle the load.

The purpose of this past weekend was to get The Big Voice back up on its feet after several months off. It was also to give Anthony Barnao, our director, a chance to look at it with fresh eyes to see how it and we have evolved over the past two and a half years, and to invite new industry people in to see it so that we could begin planning its future.

Unlike a more formal production, we didn't really spend any money on publicity, nor did we take out ads. We basically made up a few flyers, sent out emails, announced the show from our website and crossed our fingers that people would show up so that we could have a nice audience for us to do the work in front of.

The Avery Schreiber Theatre is a modest, beautifully maintained little storefront black box theatre in North Hollywood near our house. Assisting us in producing this little showcase we were joined by the Blue Sphere Alliance (a non-profit theatre group that would benefit from the ticket sales) and our friends Paul Kreppel & Murphy Cross, who are considering jumping onboard as official producers to take us to New York. Last year, they had a very successful production off-Broadway with ventriloquist Jay Johnson's one-man, multi-puppet show "My Two and Only."

Avery Schreiber Theatre
Avery Schreiber Theatre.

Avery Schreiber patio mural.
Avery Schreiber Theatre patio mural.

Avery Schreiber Theatre interior
Avery Schreiber Theatre interior.

Anthony Barnao, Nick McCord (lighting designer), Jim Brochu.
Anthony Barnao, Nick McCord (lighting designer), Jim Brochu.

Murphy Cross, Paul Kreppel.
Murphy Cross, Paul Kreppel.

Murphy is a longtime Broadway performer, dancer and choreographer and Paul is a well-known comedian and actor whose best-known TV appearances were on the sitcom "It's A Living" and the game show "$100,000 Pyramid."

Program featuring us jumping out of a wedding cake.

Cate Conner
Cate Conner, stage manager.

Murphy Cross, Jim Brochu.
Murphy Cross, Jim Brochu goofing around.

This time around, Anthony spent a little more time with me, focusing in on my acting. When we first began this project, it was pretty much all I could do to just say the words and not fall down trying to find my way around the stage. After all, I've had zero training as an actor. With someone who doesn't have acting "tools" at their disposal there's really not much you can do in terms of really creating a character until they get really comfortable on stage. Luckily, since the character is "me," I managed to pull it off. But still, there have been many times I've felt "lost" during certain moments.

Steve Schalchlin.
Steve Schalchlin rehearsing The Big Voice.
But over the past two and a half years, as I've grown more confident in speaking dialogue and feeling comfortable on stage, Anthony felt that, this time around, he could give me some more specific character direction.

It might seem silly to think that I might need "character work" since I'm playing "myself," but, in fact, in order for Jimmy and me to find balance on the stage, we have to draw on certain aspects of my personality that don't mirror his. We don't need TWO big, loud characters up there.

Steve Schalchlin.
What Anthony said was for me to tap into that more innocent side of myself so that he and I start to become a more carefuly defined comedy team. Picture Laurel and Hardy or, more specifically, they felt I should find my "inner Tommy Smothers." It's the contrast that makes a great team. So, having nothing to lose, that's what I tried. It wasn't so much about me changing my performance as much as it was me honing what was already there.
Steve Schalchlin
And it worked. It worked magnificently. After each show, people who had seen the show before, kept talking about how good my "acting" was, how it had taken a quantum leap. Inside, I didn't feel any different. Much of what I was given to do were things I had done sporadically during the past few years. But I was kind of making it up as I went along and I wasn't sure what was working and what wasn't. Plus, I was inconsistent.

It felt so GOOD to really feel "directed." And I know I have a long way to go before it's anything near a "great" performance. I'm not kidding myself, but the difference was that I felt more confident, that I finally had grown enough to earn being guided by a strong hand.

Anyway, getting past all that internal stuff, the weekend was a remarkable success. We all but sold out every performance thanks to our friends and fans here in Los Angeles. Also, we had big time producers show up. People like producer Aaron Russo who used to manage Bette Midler, LA Times Executive Editor Alvin Shuster, Times critic Don Shirley (who called us and just wanted to see the show on his night off), a couple of movie producers who said they wanted to talk to us about possibly taking an option, and more. It was really something amazing to experience and it feels like we're back on track again.

Jim Durkin, Aaron Russo, Steve Schalchlin.
Jim Durkin, Mrs. and Mr. Aaron Russo, Steve Schalchlin.

Our after-show party.

And, of course, just after our show, Jimmy flew to Rome to vote for the new Pope:

Jim Brochu as Bishop.

[ Book 4-2 ] --  [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ]  [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ]
[ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ] -- [ Book 4-4 ]
© 1996-2005 by Steve Schalchlin.
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