the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Theater (Page 1 of 2)

A Little Night Music

the original Playbill from the 70’s

Yesterday, Sophia and I went to the South Coast Rep in Orange County to see Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.”  The musical, one of Sondheim’s more popular shows,  is based on “Smiles of a Summer Night” by Ingmar Bergman, who just died in July.   This was a first class theater production, something that usually doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the term “Orange County,” home of the Country Bear Jamboree and Medieval Times. “  We really liked it and would recommend seeing it.

“A Little Night Music” is a beautiful musical from the 1970s, more of an operetta than a traditional song-and-dance show, and it is most famous for the song “Send in the Clowns.”  I really love Sondheim’s musicals.  I remember seeing “Sweeney Todd” when I was younger, and it still is the best Broadway show I ever saw.  Mamma Mia doesn’t deserve to appear on the same stage.  (read Billy Mernit’s take on Sondheim)

Before the show, Sophia and I met up with the super-talented Secret Agent Josephine and  her cute daughter, Baby Bug at a hipster vegetarian restaurant.   I had met SAJ at her recent art show, but Sophia couldn’t make it to the show, so I promised to introduce her eventually —

“You Must Meet My Wife” from A Little Night Music

There was another matter at our hand.  I had bought a print of SAJ’s work and she had promised to sign it for me.  


She even went one step further — she wrote a personal poem on the back of the picture frame. 

My Ode to Neilochka

To my dear Neilochka
What would I do without cha!
You IM’ed with speed
In my time of need
You said, “Don’t be scared!
Who cares about dog hair?!”
And you were right
The show was outta sight!
I’m glad you were there
Even if you just wanted to touch Whoorl‘s hair
I can’t think of no other I’d want my art to go to
So, thank you, THANK YOU!

Cute, huh? 

SAJ and Sophia (photo completely stolen from SAJ’s site)

It was amazing watching a mother writing, eating, and entertaining her child all without missing a beat.   What a juggling act.  How do you new mothers find five minutes to even blog?   SAJ did ask me at one point to take a “walk” with her child while she finished writing her poem.   Baby Bug and I walked to the front counter together.  I have very little experience with young children, and I was terrified that I was going to do something wrong, like accidentally lose the baby in some soup vat.  Instead, Baby Bug pretty much ignored me until I leaned over and made a funny face at her, which immediately caused her to run over to her mother, crying.

All in all, it was a great day — meeting a blogger and baby AND seeing some theater.  There was only one bump in the road.  During intermission, Sophia and I had a heated discussion over an important piece of theater etiquette.  I open it for discussion:

Imagine your theater seats are in the middle of the row.  The row is filled with theater-goers at their seats.  You say, “Excuse me,” and start making your way to the center of the row.  Is it better to walk in facing the stage, with your ASS facing everyone in the row, or should you slide in, facing the row, sticking your groin under the nose of each seated patron?   Which is the proper etiquette? 

Tonight’s Performance of Mamma Mia


(As judged by Debbie Allen and Mary Murphy of “So You Think You Can Dance?” and Neilochka)

Debbie Allen


“Can I just say that this performance was perfection personified. Everyone in the cast deserves a standing ovation. My Debbie Allen Dance Academy is open to every single one of you. Mamma Mia was intense and emotional. I felt the spirt from within. Thank you. Thank you everyone who worked on this show. You have inspired a whole new generation of musical theater lovers. You have inspired ME. The vocabulary of your souls touched us today. Thank you.”

Mary Murphy


“All I can say is that after watching this performance of Mamma Mia is — WOO-HOO — GET me TWO TICKETs to the freakin’ hot tamale train and drive it through the tunnel of Abbalicious love!”



“Imagine there’s a popular song that you really like. It speaks to you. The lyrics are about love and loss and when you listen to this song, it feels as if was written especially for you. Now, make believe you hear this song… in a commercial for Viagra.

That is how I felt at Mamma Mia. Like it was one big Viagra commercial. This show truly sucked. For once, I wish I never heard the drums, Fernando. I’m surprised more ABBA fans aren’t insulted by this lame musical. The story is inane, and the entire script seems to be constructed around excuses to use ABBA songs, most of which make no sense in the context of the story. I really love musical theater, and Mamma Mia is probably one of the worst musicals I have seen.

Despite their reputation as bubble-gum group, I think some of ABBA’s songs are very heart-felt and beautiful. Mamma Mia is just cheesy nostalgic crap.

Bleh. (and I even shelled out for the good seats!) At least, Sophia and I made fun of it all the way home.”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: the infamous Yes, I Am Wearing Women’s Panties!

The White Suit


I stand before you naked. 

I go to my closet and pull out carefully protected suit, wrapped in space-age unflammable plastic.  I remove the suit from the garment bag and start to dress.  The suit is white, pure and innocent, perfectly clean. 

I don a white shirt, leaving the two top buttons undone.  It is sexier that way. 

I adjust my pants, making sure that my bulge of my package can be clearly seen by all who pass. 

The final touch, my high heel shoes.  I am now 6’6″ tall.

I am ready.


Waterloo – I was defeated, you won the war
Waterloo – Promise to love you for ever more
Waterloo – Couldn’t escape if I wanted to
Waterloo – Knowing my fate is to be with you
Waterloo – Finally facing my Waterloo

The is only one event that can bring me out of my recent depression.

Mamma Mia.  The songs of ABBA.  Tonight. 


Twenty-Five Years Later

I don’t like to toot my own horn, but lately, I’ve been living quite a glamorous life.   As a trend-setter, I’m invited to all sorts of openings, events, and theater.   Frankly, I feel a little sorry for your dreary lives, but I hope by telling you about my experiences, you can feel a little bit better about yourselves by just knowing me, and impressing your friends with that information.

Last night I went to the premiere of a new theatrical piece that’s coming over here straight from London.   Most of you are just too "out-of-the-loop" to have heard about this play, but I was given a unique opportunity to see it before the general public.  The piece is quite interesting, as it is a play with music, but rather than a traditional story, it is based on the poetry of a well-known British poet, T. S. Eliot.  The show revolves around a cast of feline characters, so the title is very apt, "Cats."  There are several memorable songs and some surprising special stage effects.  I predict that this play will be quite successful, although I doubt the "Average Joes" who make up my readership will be able to get these exclusive tickets very easily. 

Back to reality —


Yes, hell froze over.  I saw "Cats" because someone gave Sophia two tickets.   Actually, I love musicals, but I always promised myself that I would never see "Cats."  It sounded really boring, even though I like the poetry of the anti-Semitic T.S. Eliot.  I wish I could give you a complete review of the show, but I won’t, mostly because I fell asleep in the middle.   How can this thing be running for 25 years?  What the hell was that about?  Some cats meet up and choose which cat deserves to go to heaven?  Are these cats Mormon cats?  That was one bizarre show!

My seeing such an old show makes me think about another issue.  Who can I talk to about this show?  Everyone I know already saw the show fifteen years ago, and it was 10 years old already.  I notice that this is a growing problem with movies and TV shows as well.   With the growth of DVDs and Tivo, fewer people are watching the same shows at the same time, or even on the same night.   What’s going to happen to watercooler talk if half of the office still hasn’t watched last night’s big "Grey’s Anatomy" episode because it’s still on their Tivo. 

Have you ever rented a movie that you haven’t seen, let’s say Forrest Gump, and you loved it.  You’re busting out of your seams wanting to talk about it, but everyone else saw it years ago.  What can you do?  If you went into work the next day and said, "Hey, I saw Forrest Gump last night.  What did you think of it?," everyone would think you’re an idiot. 

Remember the old days, when millions of viewers all watched M*A*S*H together at the same time, including the commercials.

Anyway, I finally saw "Cats"  25 years after it opened.   What did you think of it?

Today on Blogebrity:  Daddy Blogs   (Rude Cactus and Dadcentric)

My Hit Broadway Musical


On of the most anticipated New York theater pieces this fall is the opening of Dog Sees God:  Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead.

"Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead’ is an "unauthorized parody" that follows the Peanuts gang – all grown up. Set approximately ten years after the events in the fifty-year-running comic strip, ‘Dog Sees God’ begins with Snoopy’s death, and things for the introspective "CB" go downhill from there. Still trying to understand life’s darker meanings, still plagued with his endless identity crisis, CB talks to his gang of friends to find answers to his many questions. Of course, this gives us the chance to laugh at seeing what became of these well-loved and recognizable characters.

Clearly, producers are trying to mirror the success of "Avenue Q," where the characters are modeled after the former-happy-go-lucky creatures of ”Sesame Street.”

It’s a perfect formula to appeal to the media obsession and ironic tendencies of the younger generation.   Take some old time childhood comfort and throw in some modern edge.

Was this the same formula that was used to update everyone’s favorite childhood movie, "The Wizard of Oz," into Wicked?

"Wicked," which has won 10 Tony nominations, finds good and evil reversed. Glinda the Good is a ruthless alpha girl, embodied by Kristin Chenoweth as the queen of spiteful, popularity-obsessed perk. Her nemesis, Elphaba (Idina Menzel), the Wicked Witch of the West, is an idealistic do-gooder and social pariah with a scary green complexion, who is fanatically intent on liberating Oz’s caged animals.

Of course, Broadway isn’t as predictable as most Hollywood movies.  There are other ways of capturing nostalgia without destroying our memories of childhood classics.  How about reliving the favorite songs of our past in a musical with no plot?  Let’s see, there have been musicals based on the music of Billy Joel, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Queen, Abba – am I missing anyone?

Today, I sat down and decided to develop a Broadway hit.  What if I could create a show that combines the characters of a childhood favorite (using a edgy gimmick) with a lively musical that features the hit songs of a popular singing group?  And I found it! 


Broadway’s next hit — Alvin and the Chipmunks! What other cartoon characters also have a #1 Billboard album?  Sit back and watch as Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, now middle-aged, deal with divorce, tummy tucks, and Alvin’s pornography addiction (with plenty of their old songs to rock the house!)

(All right you Chipmunks)
(Ready to sing your song)
(I’ll say we are)
(Let’s sing it now)
(Okay, Simon)
(Okay, Theodore)
(Okay, Alvin, Alvin, ALVIN, Where’s ALVIN?)
(He’s online downloading photos of MILFs again!)

When I’m Sixty-Four


Just in case you don’t believe that I’m living the ultimate Hollywood life, I went to a big red-carpet premiere last night.   Yes, Sophia got us free tickets to the opening night of "The Fab Four" at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.  "The Fab Four" are Beatles impersonators.  No, actually, "Beatlemania" was first.  So, they are more accurately impersonators of the impersonators of the Beatles.  Surprisingly, they weren’t half-bad.  It was almost as if I was there seeing the original "Beatlemania." 

I’m pretty tired today and don’t feel much like blogging.   So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to introduce you to my impersonator, who will be taking over my duties today.

Neil Impersonator:  Hello, everyone.

Neil:  They’re all yours.

Neil Impersonator:  What do I write about?

Neil:  Just any shit.  They don’t care.

Neil Impersonator:  Give me a hint.  I’m really a florist by profession.   I don’t write much.

Neil:  Write about the show last night.

Neil Impersonator:  I didn’t even see it.

Neil:  Here’s the Playbill.

Neil Impersonator:  (leafing through the Playbill)  Look at all these ads — AARP, assisted living…

Neil:  Remember it is the Beatles.   Can you believe it’s been 40 years.  Most of the audience was 65 years old.  It was great seeing them screaming to "Revolution."

Neil Impersonator:  What’s this ad for with this smiling white-haired couple?  What’s "Reverse Mortgages?"

Neil:  I didn’t know either.  I had to ask Sophia.   Basically you give up your house to this "mortgage" company and they pay you every month to help you with the essentials. 

Neil Impersonator:  And what happens to the house?

Neil:  Apparently, when you die, they keep it.

Neil Impersonator:  What if you die the next day?

Neil:  Tough.  It’s a gamble.  Sounds pretty stupid to me.  The ad looks like it preys on the fears of older people.

Neil Impersonator:  So, this company is basically waiting for you to die.  Then, they celebrate because they just took your house.

Neil:  Exactly.  You think John Lennon would approve?

Neil Impersonator:  I don’t think a John Lennon impersonator of an impersonator would approve. 

Fiddler on the Goof, Part 2

Now that Rosie O’Donnell has signed up to play Goldie in "Fiddler of the Roof" on Broadway, big-name movie stars are lining up to play several of the other characters. 

Here is Scarlett Johansson auditioning for the role of "Motel the Tailor."


"But of all God’s miracles, large and small,
The most miraculous one of all
Is the one I thought could never be.
God has given you to me."

(from "Miracle of Miracles," ‘Fiddler on the Roof’)

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