Monday, October 27, 2014

10 things I learned in high school

And just like that, the world premiere of Million Dollar Meatballs is over.

As described earlier, the Discovery Canyon High School production of my play was the first time I got to sit in on rehearsals from auditions to final preview. And although I'm sad to see it end, I have to say it was a wonderful experience all around. Director Amy Keating did a fabulous job, encouraging the students to play with the script while remaining completely respectful of my intent. And the students themselves were amazing, making the characters come to life in ways I never expected.

The houses were smaller than I would have liked, with about 100 people on our biggest night. But the audiences made up for it through sheer enthusiasm. From the moment hotheaded chef Gordon Ramrod angrily tore off his aprons (yes, he was wearing more than one) to the final frenzied search for the diamonds, the auditorium was filled with that most beautiful of sounds: laughter.

Amy originally offered to produce the play because she felt it would be an educational experience for her students. What surprised me is how many things I learned as well.

Here are the top ten:

1. High school actors are absolutely fearless. You can ask them to do anything--eat food off the floor, slam into walls, have a pitcher of water poured into their lap--and they will throw themselves completely into it.

2. High school theatre directors are way underpaid.

3. If you make people laugh, no one will complain that your play is only 60 minutes long.

4. Don't ever, EVER have two things happening in a scene at the same time. While it may look exciting on the page, it's a confusing mess on the stage.

5. No matter how much you promote your play, it'll never outdraw the school's football game.

6. The amount of laughter a joke gets has no correlation to the amount of effort it took to think of the joke.

7. Shaving cream makes an excellent beard.

8. Given freedom to experiment, the actors will come up with better lines than you ever could.

9. Given freedom to experiment, the actors will also come up with much worse lines. As playwright, it's your job to know the difference.

10. Nothing gets a bigger laugh than a bad French accent.

And an extra one:

11. Theatre kids are some of the brightest, politest, nicest people you'll ever meet.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Meatballs on the air -- again

Million Dollar Meatballs will again be coming to your radio. This weekend, director Amy Keating, two student actors and myself will appear on the KCME Culture Zone, an in-depth arts program hosted by Keith Simon.

We didn't get to do a scene from the show, but the young actors do a great job describing what it means to appear in a world premiere play.

The show airs at 5pm on Sunday, October 19 and 7pm on Monday, October 20. KCME can be found at 88.7 FM.

Update: To listen to the broadcast, click here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rumpelstiltskin, Private Eye to be published

Just got word from Pioneer Drama Service that they'll be publishing my fourth play, Rumpelstiltskin, Private Eye.

The synopsis:
Fairy Tale Land has been hit by a crime wave. The Three Bears had their home broken into. The Three Little Pigs had their homes destroyed. Now Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother is missing. The crimes seem unrelated, at least if you listen to those shady Grimm brothers. Could an evil mastermind be behind them all? Only hard-boiled detective Rumpelstiltskin can crack this case.
As a film noir fan, I had a ball writing this one, and I know that students will have a ball doing it. The play is 60 minutes long, and with 29 roles (5M/12F/12U), it truly has a part for everyone.

Look for it in Pioneer's spring supplement in December.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meatballs on the air

Want to hear a scene from the upcoming premiere of Million Dollar Meatballs? Then tune in tomorrow as director Amy Keating, two student actors and myself appear on The Ticket, a local arts program. The show airs at 2pm on KVOR 740 AM.

The Ticket is normally hosted by the illustrious Warren Epstein, but this weekend Jim Jackson of the Millibo Art Theatre will be filling in for him. I wish him good luck and an eloquent tongue.

Update: To listen to the broadcast, click here. Our piece starts just after the 30-minute mark.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Million Dollar Meatballs premieres Oct 23-25

The world premiere of Million Dollar Meatballs is just two weeks from today. I had a ball sitting in on rehearsal the first couple of weeks, but now that I've given the director my final revisions to the script, my work there is finished.

Now comes the most important job any playwright can perform: staying home. Actors need room to breathe, to experiment, to play, and that's not easy to do under the watchful and ever critical eye of the author.

Not that it seemed to bother this cast. From day one, the young actors took ownership of their roles, and it's been a joy watching the characters come to life on the stage.

Of course, a large part of that is due to their wonderful director, Amy Keating. She's respectful of the text, but has encouraged her actors to shake things up if the script isn't working as written.

So if you're in the area in two weeks, I'd be thrilled if you could join us. It's truly a labor of love for everyone involved, and I guarantee you'll have a good time.

Performances are 7pm on Thursday, October 23 through Saturday, October 25 at Discovery Canyon Campus, 1810 North Gate Blvd. in Colorado Springs. To order your tickets, visit