Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Other Life

The balloon is hanging in there.

Before I started doing the "ballet" thing full time, I used to do much more musical theatre. I still do it as much as possible, when the stars align and the project is interesting. I have two shows coming up in the next couple few months. Both are about young men who captured America's imagination and died young, but in vastly different ways.

First is a production of The Buddy Holly Story that I am co-directing and choreographing with a friend.

All Buddy Holly music! All the time!

There is a lot of music here, but not too much drama. So the show has to kind of create some. It was actually written by some guys in England (where it was a HUGE hit). So it kind of feels like an English idea of what America was like back in 1957. There is even an English reporter who drops in at some point. Although I am not a huge rock fan, I do have a personal attachment to the show. My mom went to high school in Texas at the same time that Buddy (another Texan) was starting his career. I remember looking through her yearbooks with her when I was a kid. A world of Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, Y-Teens, and proms that happen in the high school gym.

Buddy married a girl from Puerto Rico. For those of you who don't know, Texas was a segregated state back then. But it was segregated betweeen "whites" and Mexicans. So for Buddy to marry a Latin American girl was a big thing in Texas. Something I'll talk about in later blogs.

The show finishes with a big concert featuring Buddy, Ritchie Valens (La Bamba) and the Big Bopper (Chantilly Lace). After which we are reminded that they promptly got into a plane and died "the day the music died."

My second project is shaping up to be Most Wanted, a workshop of a show that is being put on by the La Jolla Playhouse.

Most Wanted is based on the story of Andrew Cunanan. Cunanan was a club kid in San Diego and later became infamous for a killing spree across the USA which culminated in the murder of Gianni Versace and a violent ending on a boat. I had my first preliminary meeting today with the composer, Mark Bennett, to pick his brain about musical influences and structure. I think it went well. Later this week I'll be speaking with Michael Greif, the director, about where he sees the movement of the piece heading.

I also have a personal attachment to this piece. I took dance class with Andrew's sister Elena when I started dancing. So I saw her everyday for two years in high school. I haven't kept in contact with her, but I always remembered her as an attractive, talanted dancer. Her cousin, Lori Morin, was someone who I actually did perform with in productions at San Diego Civic Light Opera. So I might have met Andrew when he was just a little kid. But I would be lying if I said that I remembered him.

It is too early yet, but there are alot of intriguing issues about the sense of entitlement, racism and sex that the show can deal with. I do plenty of "kids" shows, it is nice to do shows that try to speak to and challenge mature minds.

Its summer! And one of my favorite things is summer reading.

Don't know why I suddenly get the reading urge when June rolls around, but I do. So i'll be giving a list my faves.

First up is a book that I just read. In one day.

Fun Home is a graphic novel. For the uninitiated, that means a comic BOOK.

Written by Alison Bechdel, it is a memoir of her relationship with her father. In the course of the story, we learn that Alison identified at an early age as being a lesbian. She later finds out that her father (high school english teacher and mortician) was a closeted gay man. Shortly after she learns this, he is killed by a truck in a roadside accident. Throughout the book, she continues returning and reviewing events leading up to the accident.

While this may seem as "not your everyday family" story, the way that it is told and the universal truths of children who try to find some sense of connection with their parents is ultimately very human and touching.

Bechdel's story telling (both literaly and pictorialy) is detailed and humorous. And although the art may seem a bit odd and "not pretty" at first, it quickly draws you into its world of acceptance of that which we view as "imperfect."

Fun Home, which was named as one of the:

100 notable books of the year by the New York Times
Top 10 memoirs of 2006 by The Times of London
The best comic book of 2006 by Publisher's Weekly
The best non-fiction debut of 2006 by Salon
Top ten books of the year and one of the best memoirs of the decade by New York Magazine
Best non-fiction book of the year by Entertainment Weekly
Best book of the year by Time Magazine

was banned by the public library of Marshall, Missouri. Supporters of the book's removal called it "pornography." After 6 months, the library's board of trustees voted to return the book to the library's shelves.

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