Monday, May 7, 2012

If I Could Be Any Cereal? ... Crunch Barries!...No, wait!... Barry Kix!!!

We've finished blocking the show. This is the point during the process where the show really starts to take shape. Like Dr. Frankenstein's creature, all the motley peices have been stitched into place and over the next few weeks, we'll be zapping the hell out of it with lightning in the hopes it'll be able to stand and walk on it's own. It's been fun seeing the differences in characterizations this time around (from the slight to the major). Last week, Todd (TMPMITW) asked if my portrayal of Barry in this production would be the same as last time. My response was "Meh, about fifty-fifty." As an actor, I personally relish the opportunity to play the same part again because (and I'm probably not alone on this) it's a chance to redevelop. It happens with about every show I do. In the ensuing weeks between the end of one show and the beginning of the next set of rehearsals, I review the character I just played and inevitably come up with better jokes or character ideas that would've brought a different view of that character to an audience. The same is definitely true with Barry.
Barry is a character built on reaction, both his reactions to others and their reactions to him. With new actors in the cast come new opportunities for Barry to change. The new Barry is funnier and maybe a little more clearly defined in my head. The first go-round was me consciously trying not to fall into any of Jack Black's cadence. It's one of my favorite movies and one that I can quote word-for-word. Focusing on distancing Barry from Jack worked out well, but it was misguided. I wasnt concerning myself with making Barry a human being whose words and actions came from someplace real. Even characters who are there solely to be comic relief must be taken seriously. A joke isnt funny if the actor playing it is only playing for a laugh (I envision some Paul Lynde/Charles Nelson Riley constantly winking and waggling his glasses at the audience). Taking a joke seriously makes the joke ten times funnier. For example, I occasionally teach acting classes for kids and at the beginning and end of each class we play improv games. I devised a game based on a single line: "My Butt Is Made Of Gummy Bears." The kids tend to love the game for it's absurd nature, but I love the game because each kid has to say the line differently. For some it's a question, for others an exclamation, but everyone does it differently and because of that, wonderfully hilarious things happen. I try to bring that element to each character I play, Some are serious characters, but the principal remains the same. With almost every line, I try to come up with as many deliveries as possible and work at finding one that is neither typical nor way the hell off.
So now before us lies the task of bringing this machine to screaming life. I have a great deal of faith in this cast (Except Jeff, Todd, Nick, Mike, Ryan, Keith, Aaron, Terrie, Kimi, Talicia, Margeau, Sarah, Chrissy,  andTrailer (AKA Muff Booger))

"Fuck this shit, I'm goin to Denny's"
      -Jesus Christ

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Business of Being Barry

So tonite is our last nite of music rehearsals. It's been more fun for me than usual since i'm not trying to memorize lyrics or vocal parts. Our musical rehearsals have thus far been (for me at least) more of a refresher course because i still know all the music with a couple places mixed in that I need to relearn.  I don't know about the rest of the cast members who were in the previous production, but Hi-Fi was a show that I continued to listen to after we closed. Usually once the show is done I put the cast album back into the cd folder in my car where it remains until a passenger fishes it out and goes "What the fuck is Urinetown?!"
But that wasnt the case with Hi-Fi. Part of what I think makes the music of this show so great is that literally every song is based off of others that we all know and many love. In our first run (as with this one) Scott supplied the cast with a cast album and an accompanying "Source-Rock" album of the myriad pop songs the show's musical numbers are derived from. Not only does a source-rock album help to illustrate the moods and general ideas behind the songs, but it gives the actors a place from which they can relate to the songs they perform in the show. Everybody has at least one song (I know for me it's every third song on the radio) that has the ability to transport them years, even decades, into the past. With something like that backing the music of the show, it provides each actor with an opportunity to connect individually to this music in a way that gives each of us our own personal view and approach.

One of my favorite things about this show is getting to re-remember lines, lyrics, or moments between the actors from what I like to think of as the first "Real" producttion of Hi-Fi. For instance, during rehearsals Jeff Wright (our Rob) got a little too rough during a scene where Rob grabs Barry by his collar and jerks him forward until they are face to face..........Perhaps Jeff hadn't yet made the switch to Decaf or maybe there was some underlying sexual tension he perceived between us. At any rate, when Jeff yanked me forward our lips touched (I fuckin know, right?!) in a brief, unexpected man-kiss. (And if he's reading this, he may well be shitting his pants. Hell yeah, I done posted this shit to the interwebs, Jeff!)

Here's exactly what happened:

It was like a Lifetime movie, I went home and sobbed while cowering in the shower....

In the next few days we'll be blocking the show and once again our characters will live and breathe again (Like Solomon Grundy, but not so angry) and like old, familiar friends will impose themselves in our lives like they belong there. This being the first time I've done a show for a second time, I find it a little surreal. Like stepping into an alternate universe where many things are exactly the same but a lot of things are very different (like Stephen King's Dark Tower series). It's almost like replacing a person in your memories with someone else...Or maybe it's the PCP.

I sign off again with a famous quotation:

                                                                 "I want Patty Duke to play me in the movie."
                                                                                                        -Helen Keller

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Call Me Barry...Or don't

If there were a movie about my life (and there goddam should be) the opening scene would find our hero (me) climbing off his post-apocalyptic battle-chopper and striding purposefully across a dusty parking lot through the double-doors of Insidious Max's End-Of-The-World Saloon. The bartender, Banjo Lou, immediately pours the hero his drink of choice for fear of incurring his considerable wrath. Our hero downs his Fruitopia-and-whiskey-on-the-rocks-but-in-a-dirty-glass-so-i-dont-look-like-a-bitch in one long swallow and sets down his glass.
      "Where's Max," the hero inquires in a gruff whisper.
      Silence decends uopn Insidious Max's End-Of-The-World Saloon.
       "He don't wanna see ya, Barry," replies Banjo Lou, an obvious quaver in his voice. "Not after last time..."
       Suddenly sensing the four enourmous thugs carrying machetes sneaking up behind him, Barry explodes from his barstool. Moving with lightning quickness, he draws his weapons of choice: two handaxes made out of dragon bone because everybody in the wasteland knows dragons have extra tough bones. And without a moment's hesitation, our hero lays waste to every last motherfucker in the vicinity.....

But onto my blog...

A few years ago, I recieved the great honor of playing a character that I had loved since the moment Jack Black exclaimed "Holy Shiite! What the fuck is that?!" And being one of my Top 5 favorite movies, High Fidelity was a show I was eager to be a part of. Now I get to revisit one of my favorite characters and live in their skin again.

Call me Zak...or Barry. Many New-Liners will tell you that the line between Zak and Barry is incredibly thin or even blurred, but in all honesty I just doesnt exist. I get the extreme pleasure of playing a character that I know inside and out because we're basically the same person... with miniscule differences.

The main difference between Barry and I lies in our obsessions. I love movies and Barry loves music. While those two aren't mutually exclusive (I love music and Barry makes film references in both the book and movie), you can see where a night in would differ between the two of us (Barry listening to "The Wall" while I watch the dvd). Here's a brief glimpse of what that coversation would go like:

ZAK: What'd you do last nite?

BARRY: Listened to "The Wall" for like the billionth time. Shit never gets old.

ZAK: No shit?! I was watching the film!

BARRY: Dude, fuck you. That shit's not a "film" it's not high art, it's an overlong music video that was made simply because most idiots can't just sit and fucking listen to a goddam album anymore. Think about that shit, dude. An artist goes to the trouble of writing an album- NOT A FUCKING SCREENPLAY- and they make fucking "Tommy 2" outta that shit!

ZAK: Yeah, sequels are usually diappointing...

In the words of Lavar Burton:
                                                    -"I'll see ya next time, Kunta Kinte."