Tag Archives: musical theater

Such good things!

Only a ten-day absence this time! Pretty good! (Of course, it’s still nothing like the years & years & years where I blogged every single solitary day, including Sundays & holidays! But onward!)

Okay! Remember that great news I couldn’t discuss in my last post? Well, it is now official and so I can share it.  And I am so happy about it.

Sandra Caldwell, the actress in New York City that I write with/for, has just landed the leading role in Charm, a play by Philip Dawkins. It will be having its Off-Broadway debut as the fall season opener at Manhattan’s MCC Theater beginning Labor Day weekend.

(I’m planning on attending opening night and I’ve already bought a new dress for the occasion — one of those Calvin Klein floral fit & flare dresses that everyone is wearing these days.) (Although I might change my mind at the last minute, since I am usually a plain black sheath-wearing sort of gal… We’ll see if I ultimately opt once more for living in the past, or taking a bold leap into being like everybody else!)

I’m excited about this show for many reasons. One being that Sandra is my friend and this is her return to the New York stage after a long hiatus.  Another reason being that her decision to focus again on stage work was made a couple years ago, wherein she hired me to not only help her with her one-woman musical, but also to be the head writer for her production company, with a focus on theater.

Charm was very well received in Chicago and promises to be a real winner in New York, as well, and it looks additionally promising that the one-woman musical Sandra and I have been working on for several years will get produced and find an off-Broadway stage in New York in the near future.

Even though I was a singer-songwriter for many, many years — in my halcyon days in New York, before switching to full-time fiction writing in the 1990s — theater was always my first love, ever since I was a wee bonnie lassie.

I love all kinds of theater: Jr. High and High School theater; college theater, Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway theater; and even the occasional “go down these dank ancient stairs and enter a clammy, dark, hell-hole abyss theater space” to watch stupifyingly experimental theater where none of the actors even get paid. I love it all.

And even while I’m really excited with the progress I’ve made the last several years with my TV Pilot scripts and TV MOW scripts, theater still excites me, probably even more. So with Sandra’s upcoming success (I know she is going to be superb), will come more and more opportunities to write theater projects for her.

Dare I say that I couldn’t be happier?? (Let us return briefly to the unbridled joy of the American Housewife! If my soul could project onto a screen or perhaps a hologram, it would look like her!)

Well, all righty, gang!!

And in terms of re-writes for my TV Pilot/MOW script, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge — I have made great progress in re-thinking the story. Not the plot, not the characters, not the setting; but the story itself and how it gets told. I’ve been re-watching tons of old Midsomer Murders episodes and getting delightfully re-inspired.  Even though graphically violent & angry police procedurals are all “the rage” now (excuse the pun) (and even the more recent Midsomer Murders have gone more in that direction), the older shows, with their intensely quirky characters interest me a lot more and that’s more in keeping with how I envision the Tea Cozy Murder Club characters. So off we go!

Okay, thanks for visiting, gang. And have a wonderful weekend, whatever you wind up doing! I leave you with this little ditty from Mame, it’s a song that I’ve pretty much lived my life by since childhood, come what may!

See ya!

Better late than never!

I know! How many weeks has it been since I last posted here??? (It’s been so long, that I actually don’t know how many weeks it’s been since I last posted here!)

Yes, it’s all about more & more re-writes over here. Some of the best news ever, though, is that the “final” draft of the one-woman musical I’ve been working on with the NYC-based actress, Sandra Caldwell, is finally complete!! After how many years??? (About 3 or 4.)

I put “final” in quotes because this means it is only the final version of the draft we are willing to send out and let other industry people read. I’m sure it will see other drafts before it finally hits the stage. We are extremely excited about this script/play/musical, and even more-better news is on its way, but I can’t discuss it publicly yet.

Stay tuned to this oft-unposted-to blog for all the current news on that un-discussable topic!! Yay! (Seriously, though, it is GREAT news.)

I think I mentioned (many moons ago, when I last posted here), that I am currently taking the Shonda Rhimes TV Writing Masterclass, while I begin the revisions of my TV pilot, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge. That’s partly why I haven’t had much free time to post here. The other part is that I also began re-writing my memoirs for upcoming publication by the gang at  SomethingDark.eu. Too many things needing my complete attention. But it’s all good! For a change…

And to those of you who are loyal readers of this lofty blog — may I say that I actually remembered to make a copy of the first draft of the Tea Cozy Murder Club script BEFORE I began re-writing it!! You have no idea how smart this makes me feel!

In non-writing but extremely exhausting news, I also finally managed (with the help of friends & family) to clear out my self-storage unit over the past weekend, and so now all 95% of my life that was in storage 30 miles away, is now here with me, packed in a quite unwieldy manner in the basement.

So now I can say that I am 100% completely living in the Hinterlands. And still loving it, gang.

But on that happy note, I have to get back to work here. I have one more hour left of my daily writing time, so I need to get back at it.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday wherever it finds you and with whatever you’re doing. (Oh, I also want to go ON RECORD that I firmly support Johnny Depp‘s right to buy 15,000 cotton balls a day.  He earned it, folks.)

Okay! See ya!

(Honestly. You can find everything on the Internet!!)

 

 

 

What a relief!

Finally, last night — just mere moments before the airing of the newest episode of Riverdale on the CW — I finished my revisions of Act One of Cleveland’s Burning.

I think I’m happy with it, but I’ll know better once I go over it again here this morning. Last night, however, I was extremely happy with it.

As an aside, I want to say that I really loved how, at least for now, they’ve done away with the pesky problem of pedophilia in Riverdale [Spoiler Aert!!] by simply forcing Miss Grundy to leave town… I guess we’ll see how that pans out. (And, you know, back in the day when I was in high school, they never asked heterosexual teachers to leave town; they basically just told the teenagers who were sleeping with their teachers to “knock it off.”  Ah, the 70s! Gotta love ’em!) (If you were a gay teacher, however, your life was essentially over and they would have put you on the front page of the newspaper.)

Anyway. Back to the topic of re-writes. It is a strange phenomenon, and one I go through with every single project I write — I know exactly what I want to say, yet getting it onto the page can take, literally, forever. At first, I go merrily along, typing, typing… And then suddenly, I hit an impasse and wonder how on earth to get words onto the page. I don’t know why that happens, but it always does. It’s not as if I suddenly lose my vocabulary, or my sense of how grammar is structured. I can see what the characters are doing. Yet I just can’t get the words out!

It makes me INSANE.

However, I can look at all my completed, published projects (of which I have many), and see the proof there that the condition is always temporary, so I stick with it, grueling as it is.

What tripped me up yesterday was having my character go into a diner and order a cup of coffee at the counter. It felt wrong. At first, I thought it was the counter attendant’s age — so I changed him from a teenager to a 50-year-old. Then I had my character pay for the coffee with a dime. (In 1963, a cup of coffee cost a dime.) Then I had him leave a tip. Then I deleted the tip because it was taking up precious screen time. But then the neighbor girl puts a nickel in the jukebox! Suddenly all this screen time is being “spent,” as it were, on dimes and nickels.  It was really just ridiculous. So I stopped everything and walked away. I flopped down on the bed and read several chapters of Peril At End House, c -1932 by Agatha Christie and all was right with the world again.

So back to the desk I went and I realized that the character is simply at the counter drinking a cup of coffee! For heaven’s sake, just get rid of the counter attendant altogether, along with all the dimes and nickels. And finally, the rest of the scenes came and the act was over! Commercial break time!! Yay.

And last night was a great feeling — to finally finish Act One.

Act One in a one-hour TV drama is the longest chunk. Everything else after this gets shorter and shorter, so I really do feel a great sense of relief. Especially since, this coming Tuesday, a mere 5 days away, the notes for Tea Cozy Murder Club will be coming my way… And the final, final, FINAL edits for the one-woman musical I’m working on with Sandra Caldwell in New York are sitting atop my desk, awaiting my attention…

It’s no wonder I wake-up tired.

Okay!! Have a happy Friday, gang, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing! And, as always, thanks for visiting! See ya!

No trick left unturned!! Gotta love it!
No trick left unturned!! Gotta love it!

 

 

Nothing pithy or enlightening today

Just saying hi and letting everyone know I’m adjusting to the new house and to the loss of Bunny, so close on the heels of the loss of Fluffy.

The other cats have adjusted just fine and enjoy gamboling across the wide hardwood floors…(at all hours) (but particularly in the middle of the night)

I love living out here in the bucolic rolling tree-filled hills of non-urban, non-suburban Ohio. I’m not sure my beloved 2001 Mercury Sable LS Premium Sedan is as happy as I am, though. I’ve already had about $1500 worth of work done on the car in 2 weeks and also need to invest this coming week in a set of brand new tires… But I’m hoping that will be that for a while and that the car will be around for a lot longer. I’m racking up hundreds of miles  on this poor car, really quickly.  It wasn’t really meant for this kind of tootling around. But so far, so good.

I’m trying to get back on track with my various writing projects. The one-woman musical (Hiding in Plain Sight) with the actress in NY  (Sandra Caldwell) is going superbly!! We are both verging on getting giddy about it. I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again — man, these revisions and re-writes and re-focusing stuff takes FOREVER. But… it is worth it.

Next, I get back on track with The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport, illustrated by my friend, Val, in Brooklyn. There have really been a lot of intense challenges in both our lives this whole year, but we are finally feeling able to tackle this project again. I will work on that while I await revision suggestions on the two TV projects I’m tackling with folks in L.A.

Yes, life is good.

Okay, I leave you with what Ive been listening to in my car lately!! Remember Lou Bega? He’s still around. I love Lou Bega. And I love this old song of his from the 90s: I’ve Got A Girlfriend Everywhere. Give it a listen — preferably at top volume, while you’re driving around! And, as always, thanks for visiting, gang!!

See ya!!

Yep! You know what that happy driving dog means!

It means that I’m going to regale you with what I’m currently listening to at top volume while driving along in my prized 2001 Mercury Sable LS Premium Sedan with the killer sound system!

It’s one of my all-time favorite big band numbers, Begin the Beguine, as played by the BBC Big Band Orchestra.

It’s a very upbeat little Cole Porter tune, with surprisingly bittersweet, not so upbeat, lyrics. It often reminds me of my marriage as well as the ending of said marriage. Even though we were not married on a tropical island. Nor were we married under the stars while palm trees were swaying. Not even close. Still, it reminds me…

That said, though, most of the time, when I listen to this song, I recall exceedingly fondly the 5 years I worked with Gus Van Sant Sr. in the business office of Gus Van Sant Jr.’s movie production company. Gus Sr. is probably the most endearing, compassionate, generous, interesting, and kindest man I ever met, let alone worked for.  And while we worked together in his office, he always played big band and swing music on the cable tv radio channel.  Begin the Beguine would often play (that, and Skylark!!) and since it was a favorite song of mine, it made for an even more memorable  & delightful atmosphere. For me, anyway.

Gus Sr.’s wife died last year and he moved back to Seattle to be closer to his kids. I miss him a lot. I miss that job! I miss a lot of things. And though life does indeed go on, I occasionally get nostalgic for the life I used to have, on so many levels.

But there are  some really cool things happening with my writing career right now, gang, so I’m not feeling entirely bittersweet! Sandra Caldwell, the actress that I’ve been working with on that one-woman musical in NYC, recently read my TV script for The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge and she is extremely interested in playing one of the lead roles — the role of Mona Bell. So she has sent my script, along with my script for Tell My Bones: The Helen LaFrance Story, to her new agent in Toronto. (She and I have actually been trying to get that Helen LaFrance project off the ground for a couple years now.  Plus, it’s a script that has a lot to do with my relationship with Gus Sr., so we have come full circle, gang.)

Anyway! All’s good here, if only a tad bittersweet. I now regale you with the BBC Big Band Orchestra’s rendition of Begin the Beguine, followed by the lyrics, in case you’re interested in reading them.  Play the song at full volume!!!! And have a super-duper day, folks, wherever you are! Thanks for visiting. See ya.

When they begin the beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender,
It brings back a night of tropical splendour,
It brings back a memory evergreen.

I’m with you once more under the stars,
And down by the shore an orchestra’s playing
And even the palms seem to be swaying
When they begin the beguine.

To live it again is past all endeavour,
Except when that tune clutches my heart,
And there we are, swearing to love forever,
And promising never, never to part.

What moments divine, what rapture serene,
Till clouds came along to disperse the joys we had tasted,
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted,
I know but too well what they mean;

So don’t let them begin the beguine
Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember;
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember
When they begin the beguine.

Oh yes, let them begin the beguine, make them play
Till the stars that were there before return above you,
Till you whisper to me once more,
“Darling, I love you!”
And we suddenly know, what heaven we’re in,
When they begin the beguine

Written by Cole Porter • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

When it rains, it pours!

Yes, I am up to my eyeballs with projects.

First and foremost, I have made a chore chart  for everyone who lives here and I’ve posted it prominently in the kitchen! I’m trying to get everyone to take on their fair share of the cleaning duties around here because I do not have enough time to do everything. So I’ve made the kind of chart where you give each person a little colored foil sticky star that indicates how they are doing as far as accomplishing their chores goes. You know, sort of like this:

Chore Chart
Chore Chart

Then I stick a little star in the “day of the week” column. Gold, of course, means “excellent”. Silver means “showing improvement”. Green means “needs improvement”. Blue means “lacking initiative”. Red means “poor”.

YES, I do realize that everyone who lives here, besides me, is a cat! But that shouldn’t be an excuse for getting a free ride! So far, Fluffy, who, albeit is dying from cancer, has the difficult chore of “sleeping at all times” and she, even in her poor, fragile condition, is the ONLY ONE who consistently gets a gold star. EVERYONE ELSE hovers in the “lacking initiative” and “needs improvement” zones…

When I try to point this out to them, they insist on regarding me blankly. Some even have the audacity to look at me and then glance at the fridge, as if treats might  be coming! (Have you ever known “lacking initiative” or “needs improvement” to equal treats?? I have not.)

I am NOT KIDDING about the chore chart, however, it is only an art project I made for myself in order to remember to laugh when I look around at the regrettable state of the house. No one (me) is dusting. No one (me) has washed the kitchen floor in several weeks. No one (me, again, as it turns out) has vacuumed in about 10 days.  I’m actually up to my eyeballs in writing projects, so that is a really happy thing. Still, I stress when the housework doesn’t get done.

But, on that merry note — the actress in NYC (the one I’ve been working with on the original one-woman musical) came back from the pitch in Toronto with excellent news. The response to the project was incredibly great, so we are almost to the final draft that will be shopped to theatrical producers, etc. It is so exciting. She’s been working on this musical (she wrote the play and all the songs — it is about her staggeringly unexpected life) for about 5 or 6 years. And I’ve been working with her (editing, advising, tweaking) (not implying any use of meth amphetamines when I say “tweaking”) for about 3 years now. But it is a really great show, gang, and I know it is going to get funded.

Anyway, so that is getting ready to go into high gear, while I am also in the throes of writing The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge, the novel.

Remember how — many, many posts ago — I proposed the idea of writing 5 pages a day on the novel in order to have it done by Labor Day? Yeah, well….

I’m trying. It’s now looking more like late September. (Assuming that on your calendar, “late September” actually means October… hahaha.)

It has been a rough summer, gang. An expensive summer. An “every time I turn around, a week has disappeared, where is the time flying to?” summer. Hence, the chore chart, to remember to keep my sense of humor.

All right. Well, it’s a lovely, sunny, ungodly humid, hot Saturday here, gang! Luckily, the central AC is kicking butt this year!! Yay!! My house stays at an always-comfortable 72 degrees!! I’m going to get crackin’ on the novel. (Okay, I’m going to go down to the kitchen and get another cup of coffee, then get crackin’ on the novel.)

Have a great day, wherever you are and whatever you get crackin’ on in your neck of the woods!! Thanks for visiting. See ya!

Me, getting crackin' on the novel! I know, it looks suspiciously like me "tinkering" in the previous post. Trust me, there are shades of nuance when I'm getting crackin' and when I'm tinkering.
Me, getting crackin’ on the novel! I know, it looks suspiciously like me “tinkering” in the previous post. Trust me, there are shades of nuance when I’m getting crackin’ and when I’m tinkering.

Finally! I really do write!

The final revisions were made yesterday to my TV movie script, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder At Parsons Ridge, AND I did the highly implausible: I wrote a logline that the producer said was “excellent”.

That’s a first.

Normally, my loglines suck. I usually marvel in awe at writers who can come up with a decent logline right off the top of their heads — or even right after they tinker with it for several days, laboring slavishly. I thought the one I came up with for Tea Cozy Murder Club was serviceable, at best. I imagined the producer would tinker with it until it was better than serviceable.

When he emailed me back and said it was excellent, I was dumbfounded. (“How can that be?” I wondered. “If I was the one who wrote it?”)

This is the logline (drum roll, please): The members of a small town book club that delights in solving cozy old whodunits suddenly find themselves with a very real not-so-cozy murder to solve.

Yes, you guessed it! The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder At Parsons Ridge is a cozy mystery. (So is The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport — see numerous posts below.) Even though everyone the world over knows me for my super-duper killer award-winning literary erotica, I haven’t written in that genre for nearly 10 years, and I only read it now when I’m hired to edit it. Nowadays, I only read religious tomes (this one is jaw-droppingly awesome and needs to be read by everybody you’ve ever known), or cozy mysteries. (I’m currently reading this one, by Louise Penny.)

So, the great news is that the producer will be taking The Tea Cozy Murder Club to a meeting with a production company in L.A. next week! I will keep you posted on how much they love it.

Yippee-ki-yi-yay!

On the Fluffy front (see post below about how my beloved Fluffy has advanced cancer): she is still with us and that makes it a great day! She is quite frail, though. This morning, at dawn, I scooped her up really gently in my arms and took her over to the screen door so that she could see the beautiful world that was awakening outside. It really was lovely out — and cool! 57 degrees! Fluffy was so alert and entranced by the outside world. The greenery everywhere, the flowers blooming and, most importantly, the happy birds chirping like mad.

I just love Fluffy. I will deal with my grief when I have to. For now, it’s just a perfect day.

Well, okay. On that note…Thanks for visiting, gang! Have a perfect day, too, wherever you are and whatever it finds you doing! See ya!