The Show in Particular

The commute to the theater turned out to be a 71 mile round trip, which I began to make six days out of seven. One snag is that it was only 71 miles if I used a toll road, which totaled nine bucks per day in tolls. Texas Rep did provide a weekly travel stipend, which almost took care of the tolls.

But here’s the other thing which was amazing about the Texas Rep: in stark contrast to other small pro theaters I’ve worked with in the area, I was paid for the rehearsals, as well as for the performances. All told, with tolls and rising gasoline prices, I probably broke even – and when you’re playing Van Helsing, breaking even is certainly good enough.

Though grueling – leaving the Hated Job to go straight to rehearsal or performance for over a month – the overall experience of Dracula was so overwhelmingly positive, I would love to work there again as soon as possible… or at least once I was was feeling halfway rested again.

The professionalism on display at the Texas Rep was impressive. I was likely the oldest member of a young cast – I passed the half-century mark during final dress – and I never had the experience (which I’ve had so many times) of looking at one of my fellow actors and thinking, “What the hell is that person doing on stage?”

Actually, the actor playing Renfield, Jeff Lane, lags only a few years behind me. He, along with the director, Steven Fenley, were members with me in the Main Street Theater company back in the late 80s, early 90s. And Jeff was one of the ill-fated actors in a move called Forever Evil. And yet, with over 20 years of knowing each other, we had never acted in a show together.

The Show in General

So there I was in September; things were fairly on-track for once. I had actually started updating The Bad Movie Report (two months in a row – woo!), kept up 50 Foot DVD, was entering into a new writing contract for a video game, so naturally, something had to come along and disrupt things.

In this case, it was a phone call one Saturday afternoon, from a fellow named Steve Fenley. I had worked in the Main Street Theater company with Steve back in the 90s, and I knew he had started a new theater in Northwest Houston. Now, I had pretty much absented myself from the stage for several years, albeit filling in at the eleventh hour for an old friend who’d had to fire an actor, and web project that I am assured will see the light of day “soon” – but I had, more or less, retired myself. Though I pondered returning, off and on.

The phone call concerned their upcoming production of Dracula, for which they looking for someone old enough and possessing – this is Steve’s wording – the gravitas to pull off the role.

Now, I had been contacted well over a year before by the same theater for a peach of a role in The Fantasticks; I had begged off citing the distance I’d have to commute each day.

This time they got smarter. They offered me Van Helsing.

Every actor has a list of roles they want to play. Van Helsing has been high on my list for… well, ever. So long that back when I was in college in the late ’70s, and the drama department produced the Hamilton Deane version, I was crestfallen when the director decided Van Helsing should be played by a woman.

Texas Rep was doing a newer stage version, one written by Steven Dietz, who is, according to sources, the “most produced playwright in America”. Given I’ve only done three shows this year, and two were by Dietz, I believe this might actually be correct.

So, I waited a few seconds, to pretend to be thinking about it, and said “Yes.”

More later. For now I inflict upon you a photo of Van Helsing’s opening scene, in which he reads the letter from Dr. Seward begging him to come to London to treat Lucy Westenra, a letter containing phrases such as “You have an absolutely open mind, an iron nerve, a temper of ice, an indomitable resolution, and the kindest and noblest heart that beats. These things provide the equipment for the noble work which you are doing for the good of mankind.” The photo is taken as Van Helsing turns to audience and says, “I, for one, would love to meet the man young Dr. Seward describes.”

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Now playing: Ray Wylie Hubbard – Screw You, We’re from Texas
via FoxyTunes

Thin Edge of the Wedge Dept.

Yes, I’ve been gone. Yes, I’ve been excoriated for same. Yes, I have a doctor’s excuse. (Mine)

I come to you now while the boss’ back is turned to point out this troublesome news item:

Police to Search for Guns in Homes.

Warrantless searches. In “high crime areas”. If there is not a hue and cry about this idea, I quit. The terrorists won. Actually, they won quite some time ago, but people need to be reminded of that fact.

More later, including why I’ve been gone.
Now playing: Project Pitchfork – A Cell
via FoxyTunes