Volume 1 Book 9 Episode 14
of Living In The Bonus Round
the online diary of Steve Schalchlin
Life's a Beach (and then you open).
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Rick Stein, Executive Director Laguna Playhouse
An Online Diary of the
1998 Laguna Playhouse Production
of THE LAST SESSION
featuring Jim Brochu, Amy Coleman, P.M. Howard, Michele Mais, Bob Stillman, Joey Traywick, Positoids, NuBiHes and lavish amounts of love.
Laguna Beach. Late September.
When Daddy's Away...
I tell you. You take two days off and the whole place falls apart. Jimmy and I took Wednesday and Thursday off completely. We shut the doors, turned off the phone machines, bought enough food for the four of us (two humans, two cats) and slept for two days. Jimmy was particularly exhausted. He slept almost the whole day Wednesday piled up in bed, feeling like he was getting a cold or something.
We thought, "Okay, the show is set, the actors are fine, everybody knows what they're supposed to do, they should have a couple days to run the show without mommy and daddy looking over their shoulders..." and what happens?
Amy has throat trouble, Joey gets too hyper on stage, Bob gets all stressed out -- thank God for P.M. and Maisey. Everybody was calling Jim... who just wanted to just be left alone. I'm over in the corner laughing at him trying to juggle all this nonsense.
Jimmy thinking about actors.
So, Friday night we decided to go check things out and it was a picture perfect performance. It's so nice being needed. :-)
And tonight was the standing ovation at the end of the show was explosive. So far, we've had 12 performances and 12 enthusiastic standing ovations. (Just in case you're keeping count.)
BURSTING WITH FEELING
But poor Andy Barnicle, the Artistic Director. He'd been having some stomach problems and tonight Rick Stein told us his appendix burst on him! Poor guy!! He's in the hospital recuperating so everyone say a little prayer for Andy.
During intermission last night, a little old lady came up to me with tears in her eyes and asked if I was the guy who wrote the music. She threw her arms around me and said, "My husband died of AIDS. Thank you so much for writing this..."
Then another elderly group hunted me down and said TLS was the best show they'd ever seen at the Laguna Playhouse. They said, "You have to meet Natalie. She's a pianist and a composer and has perfect pitch. She LOVED your music!"
I turned and there Natalie came at me. She was diminutive, at least 70 if she was a day wearing a small gold necklace and a beaming smile. When they introduced her, she practically fell on me. "This was SO WONDERFUL!" she said. And when I told her there was a music score available, I thought she was gonna faint.
One of the gentlemen with her said to Jim, "You know, just when I was getting angry at you for getting me so emotional, you made me laugh."
Another group of four, maybe late 20s or early 30s told me they were amazed at the show and only had tickets because a friend of theirs was a season subscriber had given away her tickets. They said, "She is a Christian and she thought this play would be a lot of Christian bashing. Now we're gonna have to buy her some tickets and make her come and see that it isn't."
It was also fun to see our Renthead groupies hanging outside waiting for Joey. I'm really proud of him. He takes time to speak with every single person and never rushes off. Well, all of the cast members enjoy meeting audience members, but most of the Rent fans are more Joey's age so they relate to him.
THE REVIEWS KEEP RAVING
This week several more reviews came out about the production. The LA WEEKLY's Neal Weaver wrote,"...The premise is simple, but the characters are rich, the script crackles with humor, the songs are stirring and the cast is terrific. Composer-lyricist Steve Schalchlin, himself living with AIDS, provides soaring anthems and stinging satire, and writer-director Jim Brochu keeps evergy hig and laughs frequent. Stillman acts with conviction, sings with passion and plays mean keyboards. Both Mais and Coleman are savvy comedians and potent belters, and Traywick ably captures the humor in a humorless boy..." The review also praised Barry Fasman's musical supervision, Don Gruber's "...handsome, high-tech concrete-and-glass-brick set..." and Paulie Jenkins' "...atmospheric and visually varied lighting design."BOX OFFICE EXPLODING
I want to warn anyone reading this who plans to see the show, Rick Stein told us last night that the past two days have seen an explosion in box office receipts. One fan told me she tried to get tickets on two different nights but they were sold out. I guess people are finally past the Jewish holidays and looking at the paper. As I said, the reviews have been OFF THE CHART positive without a single pan.
And OCTOBER 11 is ABSOLUTELY the closing date. No chance of extension. None. Zero. Nada. So, I firmly urge readers of this diary to make your reservations now or it will be too late.
THE LAST SESSION
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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
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All photos and text are © 1998 by Steve Schalchlin.