ewhightower

The Sound of Music at Sierra Repertory Theatre

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I’m spending the Summer of 2014 working at Sierra Repertory Theatre (SRT) in Sonora, CA. If you know my work, you know that there are two roles I would ordinarily play in this show. But I didn’t audition for it, back when they had auditions — I don’t even know when that was. This production was not on my radar. What I did do, was contact the AD about a production of Spelling Bee that they’re doing in the Autumn. Having recently — and successfully, I might add — played Panch in Spelling Bee in Berkeley, I sought to parlay that experience into being cast up here later in the year.

SRT said they’d love to see video of my stuff in the show. I said, absolutely. I asked Berkeley Playhouse if I could get some video of my audience interactions, and they said, essentially, we’ve already got video — what do you need? So I told them, and I got the video. They were lovely about it.

Sadly, my video editing skills are nil. I did not succeed at getting trimmed video clips to SRT in time, and I wrote it off as a sacrifice to the Gods of Timing. Then, some weeks ago, Scott Viets contacted me and asked if I was interested in reading for Herr Zeller in The Sound of Music (SOM).

For those of you who don’t know, Herr Zeller is the Nazi who tries to strong-arm Captain Von Trapp into joining the Nazi Navy. What Scott said he was looking for was, a real German dialect and a genuinely intimidating presence. He also said they needed a video asap — probably remembering that my other video never arrived.

Let me be clear: dialects and presence are my meat and potatoes, my cup of tea, my MO and my MA. I love dialects. I love playing the “bad guy” (I put this phrase in quotes because my villains always believe they are heroes). I love combining all of the above, and I just love playing Nazis. Reason being: is there a more immediately evil character than a Nazi? Nope. So, really, the uniform does all my work for me. All I have to do is pursue my wants with life-or-death stakes, and everything’s superb. No reason to play “evil,” and charm can be chilling.

So, one night after we got home from an A’s game (at which, it should be noted, they kicked the Angels’ collective ass), I threw on some un-summery clothes and created this little gem. I share it for amusement only. I made about ten or fifteen versions, and that’s the one with the fewest fuckups. As you can see, there are some moments when the pauses are too long and I have to fill them with schmacting, the camera angle is wrong and emphasizes my gut. I’m sure there are other problems, not least of which is the hiccup at the end. By the time I shot this one, it was after 1 am and I was tired.

Uploaded the video, submitted it to Viets at SRT, and within an hour of its arrival he called to offer me the job.

A miracle, I tell you. Couldn’t have come at a better time. Long story, there: best saved for another day.

Fast-forward over the following events: paid off outstanding fines from traffic violation, got new license, new car battery, SMOG check one [fail!], oil change, two attempted diagnoses of failed! SMOG check lead to my usual SMOG check place who — SMOG check two — PASSED! my car (they had no explanation for why the other place failed it, everything passed just fine), paid registration at DMV, got insurance and, BOOM: my car is running, insured, registered and splendid.

Sure, right now it leaks oil like a sieve.

Sure, right now it leaks steering fluid like a sieve going over Niagara. In a barrel. Made of sieves.

But it’s a 1988 Honda Accord with 134,000 miles on it. DONE! This is my forever car until I can afford a hybrid bio-diesel Honda campervan. No, those don’t exist.

Yet.

So I drove up here on Tuesday, arriving in Sonora around 10:30 am. Checked into my housing (delightful, more on that later), and attended the my first rehearsal, which was a read-through with the full company.

There is one other actor staying in the same house as me. His name is Drew Boudreau, he plays Max Dettweiler in SOM and he’s hilarious. Hire him, now. We carpooled to and from the first read, and on the way back I had to state the obvious, “You, sir, are hilarious.”

He said, “And you, sir, are fucking terrifying. I’m sitting there, as a Jew, shaking in my shoes.”

Laughing in delight, I said, “You’re Jewish?”

“Yes! And you’re asking them about their electricity and I’m having fight-or-flight reactions to the guy who’s staying in the next room.

Every time I think about this, I chuckle.

So far, things could be worse.

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  1. Coincidentally reading this while looking out a window over Niagara Falls. I believe I saw your sieve.

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