Volume 1 Book 9 Episode 12
of Living In The Bonus Round
the online diary of Steve Schalchlin
Life's a Beach (and then you open).

Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20

A group of RENT fans from bennytour.com with Steve.

A group of RENT fans from my Cliquey Bitches newsgroup with Bob and Joey.

An Online Diary of the
1998 Laguna Playhouse Production

featuring Jim Brochu, Amy Coleman, P.M. Howard, Michele Mais, Bob Stillman, Joey Traywick, Positoids, NuBiHes and lavish amounts of love.

Part 12: More good stuff...

Laguna Beach & Melbourne Australia.
Monday after the first week of the run.

As I have mentioned -- and as you can see from the photos above, the fans of RENT out here have discovered our show and have turned up in droves. All of us are really enjoying this because we love getting hugged, but even more, we know that TLS will only live on if the fans clamor and cry for it!

Jimmy and I got to spend some time with Gabi and her entourage today. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we'll be at a gathering of most of our original net family (called "NuBiHe's" which is short for NuBiHeOnBiHe's which stands for Numerous Big Hearts and One Big Head -- Shawn Decker and I fight for the position of "Big Head") in Laguna. I even caught up on a few emails and mailings today.

If you read the producer's version of the TLS reading in Australia yesterday, you might enjoy this from Geoffrey Baird who played and sang the role of Gideon:


Dear Steve, well we did it! THE LAST SESSION has finally migrated south! Very well received by two packed houses. I have a couple of "snapshots" of the day:

One was a tremendous feeling of power and elation as I took the cue from the stage manager to walk on to the stage and sit at the piano and get into "save me a seat", the sounds of those first chords ringing out on the piano. (we ended up using a grand piano for the workshop which looked and sounded fabulous!)

To walk out there as Gideon was a real thrill. I have been getting to know him very well and there is so much of me in him and we share very similar histories. The other wonderful memory I have is that, because we were doing the workshops in an arts centre here in a fairly informal way, there was a moment in the middle of "Preacher" when I looked across at Maureen, Jackie, and Ryan (our Vickie, Jackie, and Buddy respectively) and right in my eye-line behind them was an open door off stage with about 15 faces all crowded in the space clapping and dancing along to the song! People at another event in the building had heard the music and come running. It was such a lovely spontaneous display of enthusiasm I almost lost my place in the score.

Speaking of scores, I was trying to keep a count of how many people who were my friends, who found themselves howling during the show, and lost count! This is more significant than you may realise. A lot of my friends in the "business" were there and are not the sort of people to be easily moved, as I said once to you before, there is something in the typical Australian character that makes us hesitant to be very emotional in our responses, but certainly not at the Kingston Arts Centre on Friday and Sunday!

I must say using a real piano was heaven. During rehearsals, I found my self feeling emotional the minute I heard the various chords of some of the songs played on a real piano, such a beautiful sound. I have not been living with a real piano for quite a few years, and I forgot just how powerful the sound is.

I think there will be a lot of thinking about whether we can use a real baby grand on stage instead of the electric one. Certainly, our audiences preferred the real piano. It obviously presents various staging, sightline problems but I think we will all be trying very hard to solve those challenges!

Mark sent me a copy of your recent Diary, and I notice you have already received some enthusiastic feedback about our reading from someone who was there, that was very touching for me to see. It was a pretty scary process, I don't mind telling you. Playing keyboards, playing the lead, and acting while also performing as musical director, a pretty unrehearsed read - through, with scripts in hand was pretty scary!

Anyway, I could rave for hours, but I won't. Thank you again for writing this wonderful piece!

Lots of love,
Geoffrey in Australia

Thanks, Geoffrey. And here are some quotes from the Orange County Register review...

These are selected quotes from the Orange County Register. It's not online and I thank Karen C. for typing this up for me. (Was that last sentence in a rap song somewhere?) There were so many good quotes, it's practically the whole review.

A "Last Session" to Remember

By Paul Hodgins
The Orange County Register

...superb cast and...solidly crafted, exceptionally enjoyable songs.

...These musician-actors deliver a feel-good musical with barbs -- a life-affirming celebration that never (well, almost never) sugarcoats its message.

...Bob Stillman's Gideon anchors the show, and his familiarity with the role translates into just the right emotional mix. A sardonic, withering wit is deftly combined with self-pity and anger at the universe; imagine James Taylor doing Oscar Wilde. Gideon is a complex man, and, fortunately, it's all channeled into his songs, which Stillman delivers beautifully. He's a formidable talent.

No less impressive are the three singer-actors who form the band. Michele Mais' Tryshia humanizes a potentially tedious stereotype: the black diva with an attitude. Mais never lets you forget that her holier-than-thouness is a protective shell surrounding an affectionate, wounded soul. And her voice is Aretha Franklin-big.

Amy Coleman's Vicki is a funny-sad character, a woman who refuses to forsake her straight-to-hell lifestyle, even though it will probably kill her. Coleman's fascinating mix of defiance and self-hatred -- and her tortured bourbon-and-cigarettes voice-- will remind you of Janis Joplin.

As Buddy, Joel Traywick manages to inject humor and credibility into a part that's a mere catalyst to force "The Last Session's" issues onto the table. Traywick gives his character a nice arc, too. Buddy grows from a narrow-minded variety of Christian conservative into a wiser, more tolerant person without giving up his belief system.

P.M. Howard's Jim is the smallest role, but he has fun with the sound techie's quasi-omniscient point of view. Jim enjoys his Wizard of Oz status, yet sometimes you get the feeling he hides in the control booth to avoid dealing with Gideon's crisis.

Brochu directs his material with assurance, always knowing when the story needs to take a breath and how to understate a punchline for maximum results. Don Gruber's set looks like the real thing -- a converted bomb shelter that's been redone in cold, '80s postmodern style, all gray concrete and glass-brick walls.

Special kudos go to sound designer David Edwards, who has somehow achieved one of the best sound mixes I've heard at the acoustically problematic playhouse. This production sounds like a million bucks -- and with songs this good, that's a crucial achievement.

And this is a special package deal on souvenirs of the show, including some GREAT t-shirts, both CDs (the NY cast album & my Bonus Round CD plus the vocal selections book and the script.


Our Best Value!
"Groupie" Package -- Save $23
Includes T-shirt, Both CDs,
vocal selections book & script
$54 [a $77 value]

"Fan" Package -- Save $15
Includes T-shirt & Both CDs
$36 [a $51 value]

"Performer's" Package -- Save $14
Includes original cast CD,
vocal selections book & script
$30 [a $44 value]

Add $5 for postage and handling.

Send an email to boxoffice@lagunaplayhouse.com for information about ordering through the mail.

Many people have criticized the fact that I have called the Christian Coalition "un-Christian." (I said they were neither Christian nor a coalition -- discuss). But today on one of my lists, someone went to the Christian Coalition meeting and found a brochure that is packed with nothing but absolute lies. Here's one section:
3 - While attending an evening bash for Gary Bauer, I stumbled across Scott Lively, author of the book, "7 ways to Recruit Proof Your Child: a parents guide to protect children from homosexuality and the "gay" movement". He gave me an autographed free copy. There is a special section on "non-gay" homosexual activists.

Heading: Recruitment also occurs through non-"gay" homosexualists. Quote, page 8-9: "Not all champions of the gay movement are homosexuals...(We use the word, homosexualist to refer to anyone, homosexual or not, who works to legitimize homosexuality in our society...).

"Often, the non-gay homosexualists are more effective than gay activists in promotiong homosexuality to young people because they appear to be impartial observers not affected by gay self-interest. It is likely that many homosexualists are actually "in the closet" homosexuals (a great many active homosexuals, even political proponenets of homosexuality, are not open about their involvement in the gay lifestyle.)

Many others are relatives or friends of gay activists who have been emotionally coerced or otherwise persuaded to the gay viewpoint. 'Whatever their motive, non-gay homosexualists play a big part in recruiting children into homosexuality, even though they themselves are not homosexual.

"Recruiting??" "Emotionally coerced???" "HOMOSEXUALISTS???"

These "Christian" people are deliberately lying. Their implication is that straight people are so insecure in their sexuality -- that it is such a hideous thing -- that anyone who thinks a single kind thought about a homosexual, WILL TURN INTO ONE. Oh, pleeeze.

What makes it sad is that honest trusting Christians who follow these leaders are being deceived by this. Luckily, though, each day I meet more and more conservative Christians who realize how sad it is when people like this speak ignorantly. It makes all conservative Christians look bad.
I don't mean to end on a downer, here's one more picture. This is Joey with Marie Cain. Joey sings "Friendly Fire" for which Marie wrote the lyrics. She loved his performance and this was Marie's first time to see the full production of THE LAST SESSION.

Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20

The official stills by Still Productions | Pics by Steve | Cast pics by Steve | Fun pics
LA Times Review | TLS fan club page with pictures | L.A. critics quotes page
"From Hate To Humanity" | TLS Fan Chat Room | BennyTour fan pics

All photos and text are © 1998 by Steve Schalchlin.