Bitchy Actress

New York, Acting, and Attitude: Believe These Stories Or Don't - But I Betcha They're True.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fringe Can Be A Good Thing: MTWorks' Look After You

Since my shoot in L.A. was canceled for another month while a couple of producers try to pull their heads out of their collective asses, I found myself still in NYC while The NY Fringe Festival was going on. On the recommendation of a friend, and due to its overwhelming popularity as the one of the few "real plays" amongst the campy horseshit that Fringe has become, I decided to go see Look After You produced by the up-and-coming new Steppenwolf, MTWorks. The play, by Louise Flory and directed by David Stallings, caused me to be very pleasantly surprised. It actually exceeded my expectations, since most Fringe shows are mildly humorous or shocking at best (with the exception of this company's Anais Nin Goes To Hell in Fringe last year - that was fantastic).

Okay, so it's a play about a young woman, Hannah (Flory) who suffers a brain aneurysm and is trying to deal with her memory loss, her knowledge that she could drop dead any minute despite having survived the surgery and is doing well at home post op. It also takes a look at the relationships around her - with her boyfriend Jake (Jason Altman) who loves her but can't seem to decide if he wants to be with a woman who could die in an instant; her older sister (masterfully and wonderfully played by Adi Kurtchik) who is a business world diva whose personal life is a wreck - but she adores her baby sister and is determined to make sure that she is getting the best care.

Another wonderful role is Altman's buddy Paul (naturally and believably played by Lowell Byers) who is the angel on Altman's shoulder, encouraging him to get the balls to ask Hannah to marry him again (since Altman hid the ring when she didn't remember after it was taken off during surgery). One of the most poignant parts of the show for me was the speech Byers makes telling Altman to "...make a choice, because the world will make one for you." Another scene between him and Flory is fluid, and I often wonder why actors can't simply talk to each other like was seen in this show. A very simple thing in theory, but most plays manage to screw it up. Well done, here.

Overall, I thought the acting was good. Stallings, an award-winning playwright who made the leap again to directing, did a great job staging the show and getting the actors to communicate. I had issues with Altman through various parts of the show - I didn't feel that there was enough at stake with him - and that he wasn't following through with character choices that made sense. However, there were moments of diamonds in the rough that made me really feel for his character's plight. Kurchik was delightful as she told her story about her love life to her little sister - and small moments when she sees Flory's scar for the first time made me cry.

Ultimately, Flory had the most difficult role of all, as both actress, playwright, and the focus of the show. Although there were times that the actress was wrapped up in playing to herself, those moments were few and far between. She was able to maintain a light-heartedness that kept the play from being "a movie of the week" (something that I've noticed a couple of reviews saying, which just goes to show that the moment you bring up illness, people's own personal fears come in between the art and the ability to review it properly - this is anything but a Lifetime special) and she truly dove into the part with all of herself.

This is one of a few good shows that are playing in Fringe this year, actually. Viral, Eli & Cheryl Jump, and Mr. Sensitivity are some fun, emotional, and surprisingly enjoyable productions. I'm sure there are a few more, but I just don't have time to go watch a show that gets out at 11pm...even people like myself need sleep.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cleopatra Hits the Stage - And Trips.

One of my favorite online theatre review sites, The Fab Marquee, just reviewed Cleopatra: A Life Unparalleled put on by the Planet Connections Festival going on right now.

Let me start off by saying that the Festival is a wonderful thing, as are all off-off festivals, but this one is special because it focuses on giving back to the community.

However, I literally laughed my ass off at the brilliance of David Stallings' review of this play...a play which quite literally was so bad that I had to bite the back of my hand several times when I went to see it to keep from screaming.

I would review it, but I can't touch the beauty of Mr. Stallings' take on if you would like a review from one of NYC's freshest minds (David Stallings is a playwright who is winning awards left and right, and with good reason) I suggest stopping over to The Fab Marquee and getting a gander for yourself.

Friday, April 17, 2009

MTWorks: The Oath Opens April 23rd!

MTWorks will be presenting The Oath, by Jacqueline Goldfinger (I just think that is the coolest name) opening next week, April 23rd and running through May 10th.

For a glimpse at the cast, set, and info on tickets - please visit their website and also this Photo Flash announcement HERE

Directed by Cristina Alicea, this little blurb sounds like fun:
In this Southern Gothic tale, a wandering preacher is embroiled in the passions and politics of a swampy Florida outpost ruled with a macabre sense of justice by two rival sisters. The Oath is a darkly comic look at balancing ambition and ideals in a time of crisis.

I have a friend in the show and another in on the production end - go check out what looks like will be another fantastic show by the folks who brought Anais Nin Goes to Hell to the Fringe last year.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Abingdon Theatre: Final Days to See Love Drunk

The Abingdon Theatre's play Love Drunk, starring Austin Pendleton is in it's final weekend.

WORLD PREMIERE: An older man picks up a much younger woman in a cafe and brings her to his retreat, an Appalachian palace. Her littered past collides with his need and what follows is an inspired dance of sexual tension.

Sounds juicy, huh?

You can catch this fascinating show at The Abingdon's Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, in the Abingdon Complex - 312 W. 36th Street 1st Floor (between 8th and 9th Avenues)

Tickets are $20 Call SmartTix 212.868.4444 or go to

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Note About Reviews On Here

Look, I don't claim to be "a reviewer". I'm an actress who is lucky enough to actually be able to live as an actor, affording a studio apartment on the Upper East Side in the city she grew up in, who has family in California and has a place to crash when she goes on a shoot, if the producers are broke (often the case). I see a lot of theatre and film when I have the time in between work, and I have opinions. I am very picky about what I enjoy but only because I believe that actors need to really work up there - not just show up and wait for their cue.

I have several pals in shows right now. Two friends in particular, who are on stage, one in a showcase, one in a bdwy gig in NYC; both of them got reviews. One got both good and bad; one got mostly bad - but they were both damn good. Both of them said to me: "When you have your little blog and call yourself Bitchy Actress, and you write reviews about things, do you have to be so mean? Don't be such a bitch!" etc etc - of course this was after they recently received bad reviews themselves and were sensitive. Beforehand they thought what I wrote was absolutely hilarious. They still do, but one just emailed a little while ago all bent out of shape from a review received from another idiot like myself who happened to also put her down for her physical appearance. If she really reads the review, she should take it for what it is: nothing more than an audience member with access to a computer and a few people who allowed him space on their site to say something. My other friend got panned by several people - but hell, let's face it; very few reviewers out there are actual writers themselves; and most of them are people who wanted to be actors, SUCKED, and so they started critiquing theatre instead. I mean, hell - does their opinion really matter? Does mine?


So yes, I get a kick out of being a "Bitchy Actress" - fun schtick. But I'll tell you what: I'll never, ever trash an actor/actress for what they look like. I'll talk about their acting...because that's something that I do know...something that I care about. Too many actors get work because they are pretty or because they are blowing someone behind the right desk - NOT because of their talent. I write it as I see it...but not to hurt people. Maybe to open their eyes that they need to take an extra acting class or perhaps deal with their fellow actor...and maybe I say it in a way to be humorous to everyone. Especially if I see other actors getting nothing from that actor. Nothing is more infuriating than that for an actor...or to recognize it happening in front of you as an audience member who happens to make their living as an actor.

Take the young Claudio I talked about, below. He's a handsome young man - he can say the words easily and well; but it's the character development behind the good look that makes me cringe. So I'll talk about that. Or last year's train wrecks for the same company with a few of the actors who really were more of a detriment to the shows. Why? Because they were not dealing with their fellow actors they way they should (and because I heard that one of them was such a diva backstage, with so many actors complaining that he was telling them how to act; that is such nonsense! someone like that NEEDS to be slapped - verbally, if necessary).

But when it comes down to it, nothing that any blogger, reviewer, or...well, take your pick, really means a thing.

Christ, they said about Katherine Hepburn once: "Ms. Hepburn's emotional range goes from A to B." WTF???
About Liza Minelli: in the 70's a lovely reviewer compared her to an ugly dog.
About Marlo Thomas: also in the 70's one "reviewer" spent so much time talking about her plastic surgery (some New Yorker reviewer who probably had more than Marlo) that she left about three sentences for the actual review.

Some of us up here write as tongue-in-cheek; some write with that but also with the intention of opening the eyes of people to how ridiculous the industry is - or if a particular production sucks to high heaven.

And then, there are some people that make my little gimmicky name of Bitchy Actress seem like a compliment; they are truly mean, mean people, with no reason behind what they do except to hurt...and perhaps tear down because their favorite actor or actress did not get good reviews or there is a vendetta...or they are jealous. This industry is made up primarily of those kind of people; have no illusions of "the kindness of strangers" in this business.

So - for future knowledge to my friends who know who I am who read this, and to those who think of me as a cunt who has a penchant for witty banter, (or an illiterate fool, take your pick but keep the cunt part in there since it's fun) - I say this: I give credit where I honestly think credit is due, and I will pick someone's acting apart if I think they suck and especially if they suck and also try to hurt other actors...I have an ear to the ground for gossip and I hate evil people; especially those who can't act but who somehow get work despite the fact that they are backstabbers - they will get my poisoned pen faster than you can say "fuck me". But I will never tear someone up for physical features, or if their acting is so-so. I may suggest they take lessons...but never tear to shreds.

I save the shredder for those well-deserving, who are either making lots of money for giving us (and their fellow actors) so little; or who are really bad people who also suck.

Hey, Brando was a PRICK - but one of the best actors ever. And you can't argue that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shakespeare Must Be Pleased: Much Ado About Nothing at Theatre Row

Let me start off by saying that I was seeing this play as a favor for a friend. She is not in the show, but asked that I go see it to support people she knows and works with. She knows that I have seen so many productions of this fabulous comedy by Shakespeare that I told myself I would wait another decade before going again; that, or perhaps unless it was done by midgets in drag in Transylvania - anything to make it unique.

That said - I had a MARVELOUS time seeing Oberon Theatre Ensemble's production of Much Ado in the Beckett theatre at the Theatre Row complex. It was fresh, entertaining, funny, and heart-warming. From the very beginning of the show until the end, although I knew what was going to to happen from the number of times I've seen - and even performed - the show myself, I was still with most of the actors every step of the way.

Mark Karafin has artfully taken a production, which in my opinion is done to DEATH, and breathed life into it again. Stand-out performances include Benedick (Mac Brydon), Don Pedro (Walter Brandes), Verges (Bill Green), Dogberry (Brad Fryman), Hero (Cotton Wright) and Beatrice (Elizabeth Zins).

Brydon's work was simply amazing. There is really no other way to put it. He was natural in everything he did - made an already lovably frustrating character into such an adorably "in love" man - who also is as serious as a heart attack when he decides to take Beatrice up on challenging Claudio and putting both him and Don Pedro in their place. During the scene when he is being set up for the bait to fall for Beatrice, his almost Chevy-Chase/John Ritter-like physicality was reminiscent of the simple beauty of Dudley Moore hiding behind the flowers in the chapel in "10" - hilarious, believable, entertaining and FUN. I wondered how much was found in improv and moved into staging...because it seemed so natural, yet not... Because so many productions forget that this is a play to have FUN with - and hats off to director Karafin for giving the actors the green light to run with the fun.

Brandes was true in his work and a joy to watch. His ending, the small aspect of sadness in the joy of everyone else working out while he is still alone was poignant and lovely, in contrast to the light-hearted simplicity he gave his character - who was also easy to hate briefly as a co-conspirator to Hero's downfall. Green reminded me of a young Peter Sellers as Verges - and even as the Friar - and his ability to go back and forth was admirable. The glasses on Verges were...genius.

Complimenting him was Fryman's Dogberry, a role that can either be a joy to watch or painful. It was SUCH a joy to go along on the ride with this inept character and Fryman, much to our delight, made the most out of reminding us that he was an ass - and we loved every moment. I think this year is a great year for Fryman - he seems to have grown in the last year as an actor, as visible in this play and the other Oberon play in rep that he is also cast in (American Rapture).

Wright and Zins were lovely in their own right. I especially enjoyed Wright's gentle sadness accepting her fate and dealing with her disgrace. Zins was entertaining many times throughout the play, working the Shakespearean witty banter well; however, for some reason I had trouble buying her love for never really worked for me as much as I would have liked - but I was willing to go along for the ride because I believed his for her.

One major problem I had was the choice for Claudio. From the moment you are in the lobby looking at this young man's headshot you have to wonder if he is trying to market himself as the next possible vampire for the next installment of Twilight - and then when he was on stage I just felt that although he obviously had a mastery of the dialogue, there was nothing behind it. The choices that were made were not filled. The character is one that has to have a sense of humility to him, because after everything he puts Hero through, the audience still has to like him afterwards...and I didn't feel that he was played with any true humility...just he seemed more a frat boy than a young soldier in love. I didn't believe him before any of the chapel scene happened, and when she took him back at the end of the play, I wanted to smack her and ask why him? Indeed Brown is an attractive young actor, but I did not believe his character at all.

The same can be said for Borachio - I feel that that character could have been played more simply and truthfully...allowing the audience to really see what his character is all about. He is more complex than just a drunkard womanizer - and that is all we got to see.

That said - and it could be because I simply always thought that Claudio was a bastard anyway - I was not affected by my love for this production. I'm delighted that I saw it for all the wonderful performances in the show. If you see a Shakespeare production this winter, I suggest you make it this one.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

American Rapture: An Evening of William Saroyan and Alex Dinelaris

I suggest you run out to see this - it opens February 14th. There are some great actors in Oberon's Rep series (Which also includes Much Ado About Nothing on alternate days) and Alex Dinelaris is a playwright/director to keep your eye on.

An Evening of Short Plays
Featuring Hello Out There by William Saroyan
and World-Premiere Plays by Alex Dinelaris

Directed by Alex Dinelaris


Gabe Bettio*
Jane Cortney*
Max Darwin*
Brad Fryman*
Vince Gatton*
William Laney*
Dianna Martin
Donovan Patton*
Laura Siner*
Christine Verleny
Stewart Walker*

*Appearing courtesy of Actors Equity Association

An evening of short plays, some humorous, some tragic, explore the unique mixture of loneliness and hope, which make up the American Experience. Playwright/director Alex Dinelaris, who was nominated for a Lucille Lortel (Best Musical) and two Drama Desk Awards (Book & Lyrics) for his work on the off-Broadway hit, ZANNA DON’T!, weaves his way through modern relationships, religious hypocrisy, love, loss and the endless cycle of violence that threatens to swallow our society whole. The evening culminates with William Saroyan’s Hello Out There, the powerful tale of two outcasts who find love at the most unlikely of times, in the most unlikely of places.

Performance Dates: February 14 - March 1
Tickets: $20.00

TALKBACK after performance Monday, Feb 23

Buy Tickets Online from Ticket Central.

The Beckett Theatre @ Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenues

You can also buy tickets Theatre Row daily 12-8pm.

For more info, go to

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Oath: MTWorks Spring Fabulousness; In Other News, I Am Done With the Casting Couch

MTWorks will be presenting The Oath in April. I suggest you cyber-march your way to their website and buy your tickets NOW...this is going to be an amazing show. I was sent the script by a friend who is in the play to read...and I cried just reading it. Me! Cried!

I'm mean c'mon...I'm a bitch. I usually only cry when I don't oust some other stupid actress out of a role that I want.

A birdie has told me that the show is reminiscent of Tennessee Williams - or, as much as any modern-day playwright can muster (may Ol' Tennessee not turn over on MY account!) - and that the cast is incredible.


In other news: I think my sex life, as we know it, is done. Well, at least in regards to sleeping with co-stars...and directors...and producers...and - well, anyway...

My recent foray into schtupping a cast member on the set of something I just came back from Toronto on turned into a disaster. Mind you - I only sleep with them AFTER I get the part. I mean...let's face it...I really don't have to sleep with anyone to get a role. You don't know me - but, I have been making my bread and butter by acting for nearly 18 years. I don't need to do that.

However, getting involved with co-stars (I was just kidding about the is just something that sometimes happens. Well - not anymore.

Picture, if you will: an extremely HOT man who is actually a good actor. We have love scenes together. I actually got a decent honeywagon this time AND good food. Life is good.

And we hit it off one night after a shoot and go for drinks. One thing turns into another...
And I wake up the next morning and his WIFE is knocking on the door - the poor thing came up to visit him! We pretended we weren't in the room and she went off to the lobby...and I snuck out and went to my room across the hall.

Needless to say things were bizarre after that...since she was there for a week, which was about all we had left of the shoot that we were in.

What sucks here is that I didn't even know the bastard was married. Seriously...I didn't. I have certain standards...for God's sake, yes, they are low - but c'mon...what a fucking nightmare.

I think maybe I'll just stick to P.A.s.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hooray for Obama! And in Other News, Mark Peikert is an Ass

First off, let me start by saying that I'm thrilled that Obama clinched the presidency. Let's hope we can get some of that change he's talking about as soon as possible. His speech was amazing, and I'm thrilled that we don't have to deal with another four years of mindless bullshit flung at us like monkeys in a zoo. I respect the Republicans who are more sensible and have finally thrown their hands up in protest at their own President - but none of those assholes ran, and none would have given us enough change that we needed. I think Obama's speech - which referred to everyone, including gays and straights, was so beautiful. I just hope he is as good as the packaging looks.

In other news, I recently saw a play, Harm's Way, by Shem Bitterman, produced by Circus Theatricals, due to a recommendation from a friend. It was an amazing piece that dealt with the problems that war has on both those over there and the people back here at home...and had some of the best acting I've seen in off-bdwy theatre in a while. The script could have used some more development; I daresay a third act could have been implemented. Hell, if I can sit through a three hour play of Sheppard, I'll do it as long as the acting is great. And the same applies with this play. However, that said, I think the show was fine.

Backstage, however, disagrees. This has been an ongoing trend for reviewers of Backstage...they never really look at the acting (because none of them really seem to know anything about it) and talk roses and sunshine about plays that are really painful to have to sit through...and trash productions that have some actual value and merit. I've dealt with people over at Backstage for over 20 years...I used to sit in meetings with family and name actors (back when you could take the ad editor out for drinks and discuss business) and it used to be a paper with some integrity shall I put it? Brains? Actual understanding of the arts? Now it is simply a rag where to find auditions, get headshots, and where a few people I know (and almost regret knowing them) post fake auditions to get some sex from women who seem so eager to lift their skirt for a 5 minute part in a short film that will never see the light of day (that's a whole other rant). Oh, yeah, and mixed in there somewhere are these words that are thrown together by somewhat culturally retarded individuals like the author of the review listed above, who obviously was so busy trying to find holes in play that he missed all the good acting that was going on stage. The one actor that he did mention was the one actor that I felt, although she did a great job, had the most problems up there. One wonders if the author of the review simply had it out for the playwright (or the director, Steve Zuckerman)...or the company itself.

Who knows. In this day and age, when The Actor's Studio has kissed the proverbial ass of the dollar bill and let standards go out the window, allowing actors to become members who graduated their "program" although they probably don't even know who Tennessee Williams is; or when reviewers who have no idea what the hell they are talking about but happen to have the right connections and can continue writing trash at a paper that has become as much of an institution of the antithesis of what it's supposed to be about - and in doing so, turn potential audience members away from catching some great theatre.

Great. Perhaps they can go watch a reality tv show or something.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Is 30 the New 20? I Sure Hope So.

So, I've accepted that fact that I'm not going to be a superstar by the age of 25. Partially because I'm already nearly 38, but also because I've gotten to know the industry like the back of my hand already, and find it startling that so much of it is about not just who you know (or who you blow) but also that you actually seem to get ahead if you're younger and less talented...and yes - skinny.

Look. I'm not just bitching because I just lost out on a part to someone else who, if she stands sideways, you might not see her; I wish her the best with keeping her boyish figure. Oh, and also the fact that I'm wondering if she's even old enough to have her period...

I am actually in a good age group, where there are lots of parts for women my age. The problem is that I might actually look too young (YAY!) so I have to compete for younger parts and then lose them to women that are more suitable for that age (NOT YAY!). I mean, it's not THAT bad - I've actually had another good year where between acting work and voice-over work I have been able to live comfortably (as long as I dont buy anything for myself or go on a vacation) I can say that I'm a working actor.

But when I go to an audition and see the sea of ladies that are younger...I try to chant the mantra that "30 is the new 20" in my head...and it just doesn't fly so well. The only thing I have on these other ladies is experience and acting ability (in most cases). Then there are the really talented young ladies that piss me off...because I am not above being jealous. But I'd rather lose the part to someone who can act, than someone who is just eye-candy.

Is that true? The 30-20 thing? Who came up with that? Some crusty old bat who was trying to deal with the same issues that I am? Because I'm approaching 40 and I don't know if they have the same mantra but in a size 30-40.

I also get discouraged because people don't take the work seriously. They just go from talking about what they had for dinner with a fellow auditioner, and then walk in. And sometimes they get the part. I am auditioning for people who were a baby when I was 18. It's a little weird. I applaud people for getting the gumption to try to make films or produce bdwy and off-bdwy shows when they are in their 20's - but I know part of the money is coming from their parent's trust fund - and I question why I'm even there when I would be willing to put money down that they couldn't tell you the difference between Elia Kazan, Tennessee Williams, or Jimmy Stewart.

But I might be just really assuming too much - except that when I try to have conversations with so many of the people I'm competing against and they have never read any Williams or seen a Hitchcock film, I have to ask myself: where is the industry going? Why am I here? And, most importantly, WTF?

David Duchovny: This Makes Me Sad

Celebitchy has some pics of Duchovny looking like death warmed over - and it's really sad because I am SO thrilled with his show Californication - it's really incredibly well-written and he is so amazing - his acting is fantastic.

I loved him on X-Files because I loved the theme of the show, but never really thought he was all that amazing of an actor - but I think his craft has grown SO much.

The whole sex-addict-rehab bit is saddening, like something out of Auto Focus - which, if you haven't seen is amazing - I know a couple of sex's devastating to families and the people themselves.

I just hope that Duchovny gains a little weight, eats some vitamins, and goes home and sleeps with his wife...if she'll still let him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oh, Marcia, You've Been Naughty!

Oh, for Chrissake. Another tell-all.

But this one really blows the mind, 'cause it's juicy as hell. Maureen McCormick, aka Marcia on The Brady Bunch, has decided to spill the beans on what went on during the show and her tumultuous life afterwards. I think it was appropriate after Barry Williams who played Gregg (who any kid in my generation wanted to make out with, too) wrote his tell all - Growing Up Brady, and talked about boinking her. I actually have on tape (audio, yeah, I'm really high-tech) recorded off the radio when he was on the Opie and Anthony show (before it got yanked off the air) his interview with them. It was such a let-down...he sounded like such a schmuck. He was kinda funny, but he seemed to be doing the tell-all without really putting his own life screwups out there as much as just dishing out the dirt on everyone else.

McCormick, on the other hand, I have a little more respect for. She's putting her ass on the line and really telling how she became addicted to drugs and did the whole Tatum O'Neil thing...oh,'s also almost the Dana Plato (RIP) thing...and...well, holy shit, guess what? If you're a child star it's a 7 out of 10 chance that you're going to be seriously screwed up.

But, hey - you know what? I hope her book sells, if only so she can make some money off of what to the rest of us was a fun show to watch as kids, but to her was probably a doorway to both lots of fun...and the end of her childhood very early on. With the exception of the adults who has already established some career before the got on the Good Ship Brady, the kids all faded into oblivion afterwards. It must really suck to be a star for a long period of time, and then...not even be able to get a commercial. Especially for a kid.

They all got to wear really cool clothes, though.

One child actor, who, thank God has not gone down the path of hell, is Haley Joel Osment. Okay, he got busted for a DUI and marijuana posession as an adult, but who hasn't? *smirk*

Actually, I always hoped that he would step away from the industry and be a regular kid for a while. It seems like his parents were good to him and he was brought up well; and when you have a family that is already in the entertainment industry and who are relatively normal when it comes to having a loving environment at home, you might actually turn out all right...even when you get nominated for an oscar at age 11.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Morgan Freeman: Get Well, Get Well, GET WELL!!!

The news is hot off the press, but I'm not waiting to hear from anyplace else: you need to get yourself better and do it quickly, young man! You are one of the only actors left on the planet that has a truthfulness to his acting and can bring an audience into the palm of his hand. Your work speaks for itself and is such a rarity among the celebrity bullshit artists that we are surrounded by at all times.

We love you very, very much.

And this bitch loves you an awful lot.

So, Mr. Morgan Freeman: get well before I have to come down there and talk your ear off...and nobody wants that. Especially the nurses who I'll have to karate chop to get past just to get into your room...and then there's trying to squeeze into a nurse's uniform (I probably have one around here somewhere, but that's from some other kind of thing altogether)!

Bitchy Actress

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Well, At Least I'm Getting Quoted

...In the UK, of all places. I'm going global.

I'm actually rather delighted. I was going to post on his blog to thank him for quoting me, even if in not the most pleasant light (but then again, I think most readers know that my blog is partially written in a humorous, if snarky and nasty, spirit), and to take what I say with a grain of salt, unless I make myself clear that what I'm talking about is very important to me.

But back to my glint of stardom. Stuart Walton, in an article entitled, All Authors Pens Are Poisoned, talks about the backbiting in the writing world; how authors, when reviewing others' works are almost as nasty as actors reviewing other actors: "...Since acting is by all accounts (and from my own distant memory) a famously bitchy profession, we can only shudder at the carnage that would be produced were its members to be given press passes to each other's new productions." ( was linked to the "famously bitchy profession" part, and I was thrilled).

Let's face it...I have a sitemeter on here. I am as much of an attention whore as anyone else...and I'm also nosey. So, I was interested to see why I was getting all these hits from this link.

It's actually a very interesting article, for he also discusses the downside of being a writer; the way writing about others often can force one to almost become a socially retarded individual who can't quite deal with people on a normal level.

The same can be said, I think, though, for many people of various professions, not just writers. Take therapists. I have dated therapists and even people who have majored in Psychology in college or Grad School. For some reason, this seems to make these folks think they have a key into the labyrinth of your mind, and therefore, "understand you more than you understand yourself"...or some such nonsense. Or they think they are above any kind of emotional or mental issue themselves because they passed some classes...or because they treat patients. I'm here to tell you that some of the biggest whack-jobs are therapists and the folks who studied enough in school but who don't have the humility to say "You know what? I think maybe I might have a few issues of my own." I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to throttle people who think that because they have a degree and read a few chapters about Pavlovian response, that suddenly they have the right to tell you what to do or how to deal with your feelings - but that they have no reason in the world to question theirs.

Sigh. Went on a rant...oh well. It's one of those days. That's what I get for schtupping a film editor who is really a tv writer who started out as a Psychology major. Go figure.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Thousand Variations On a Lie Told Once

Oberon Theatre Ensemble's latest show, A Thousand Variations On a Lie Told Once, brings up a subject that I'm very fond of and well-versed in: family dysfunction. A dear friend likes to say, "the play puts the Fun back in dysfunction!" (wish I could steal that line) and I have to admit, she's right.

Three adult daughters come home on Christmas Eve to meet their mother's new fiancé, their father having died when they were very young. It is mentioned in the opening scene between the mother Abby (Linda S. Nelson) and her fiancé, Patrick (William Laney) that the girls hardly ever come to visit; in fact, this is the first time they have all been together in six years. Once the doorbell rings, the proverbial shit hits the fan.

Sure, this isn't August Osage County; we're not talking Long Day's Journey; and there are areas of the script that could be edited or changed - I think a rewrite or two could be seen on the horizon.

However...the script is a damn good script, with moments of hilarity in the middle of angst-filled scenes, so even as one is wiping away a tear, they find themselves laughing. Playwright Stacy Lane has done a fine job portraying how family secrets can often turn around and become much larger than they originally were.

I found myself engrossed in all of the actors' performances.

The eldest daughter, Whitney, (Laura Siner) has possibly the most interesting secret of anyone; so much a secret, in fact, that the character doesn't even know it until the end of the play. Having been an eldest daughter, I appreciated her characterization of protecting her younger siblings and taking charge. I thought she was very "in the moment" with her fellow actors and was a joy to watch. Her playfulness with her middle sister and her scenes with her mother towards the end were beautiful. She adds a strength to the triad of daughters that remains throughout the show. Her stoicism works well in contrast to the "drama queen" quality of her middle sibling (a quote from the play). Whether this was the actress, a direction from Fryman, or a mixture of both, remains to be seen - but who cares, it worked.

Rena, (Dianna Martin) is entertaining as the, as she calls it, "infamous middle child." Both she and her older sister try to verbally tear down their mother's new beau, and both Martin's character and the actress are interesting to watch as she veers from throwing nasty verbal assaults to being a dejected and frustrated child.

Anna, the youngest daughter (Jane Cortney) has possibly the most difficult role in the play; her sisters constantly cut her off throughout the show and almost leave her with no voice of her own - except when she really commands the stage. Cortney does a lovely job as the daughter who has the least animosity towards her mother, and is full of life and energy throughout the play as a character trying relentlessly to keep a struggling family from killing each other. Even during times when she has very little dialogue, she is listening to her fellow actors and an important presence on stage.

All of the actors are, actually. Mother Abby is heartbreaking as the mother who just gets by telling "white lies" her whole life, never realizing that they are snowballing into an abyss between her and her daughters. Some of the scenes between her and family, albeit broken up by a well-written moment of hilarity, were heart-breaking, and during the performance I was attending, there were quite a few moist eyes in the audience.

Patrick is endearing as the poor, unfortunate soul to walk into this house of family horrors...and although he tries to maintain the peace, when he is asked to do something that goes against his moral fiber in order to make Abby happy...the internal struggle is apparent. His journey from "the really nice guy everyone would like" to the man who looks like he just survived a nuclear holocaust is very well done.

All of the actors are dealing with each other and working really well with each other - and really talking and listening. One can't ask for more. There are some moments that I feel the actors are aware of themselves on stage, and the tendency to go a little over the top occurs now and then, among all of them; however, when you are in a theatre where the audience is practically sitting in your lap and you have people in the front row with their legs halfway in the middle of the stage (those audience members should be shot; it should be part of a given when they enter the theatre), and given some of the humor of the play, its difficult to not want to go in that direction at times. Thankfully, that happens rarely.

Set in the Abingdon Theatre Complex's Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, Director Brad Fryman does a really good job working with a three-quarter thrust stage. It's my understanding that he designed the set, which was perfect (home-spun living room Christmas scene). I felt that sometimes actors seemed to move because they were told to...not because there was a real reason for them to do so, and that is my only real issue with the directing...I have a problem with directors that move an actor for the sake of moving them instead of having it look natural. Other than that, I think he brought together a good ensemble.

I've read two reviews thus far about this play online and I think they were uninformed, written by people who either were in a bad mood when they came to see the show, the piece wasn't their cup of tea, or they simply just missed the whole point altogether (I was going to say they were just plain retarded, but then someone might call me a Bitchy Actress. Oh dear!). Although they really only attacked the play, not the cast or director, I am wondering: do these reviewers come from Beaver Cleaver homes? Does a dysfunctional family mean that you have to pop a bunch of pills, shoot some heroin, and drink a quart of vodka and call it a night? Because one "reviewer" (I use quotes because the person obviously sniffed glue before they walked into the I really can't think of it as a review - but the same could be said about me, but I'm not highlighted on a big Marquee as a "reviewer" so....) mentioned something about "...the actors operating at too elevated a state of alert to convince us these people could have survived 20 years without strangling each other." -- WHAT???

I guess Matthew Murray missed the part about the fact that the family has not gotten together in six years (mentioned several times) or that they never see each other because they fight a lot (mentioned even more)...and I guess Mr. Murray has just never seen a family where people really fight like that and still deal with each other at holidays. Perhaps he lives under a rock? I'd say so. Maybe he should come over to my house during Thanksgiving.

Judith Jarosz, another so-called reviewer who apparently spent most of the show in the bathroom, said, "They make sarcastic reference to Abby and Patrick's age difference, which at a mere eight years seems laughably inconsequential for a play set in this century." -- Again, I have to ask: WHAT? They mention it at the beginning at the play. Then it's done. I'm sorry, but it doesn't seem completely implausible to me that the two daughters would make mention of this issue as something to be snarky about, considering that the idea of their mother re-marrying after all these years is probably very hard to swallow..especially if they are choosing to be nasty. I think that Ms. Jarosz, whose bio says that she is "an actor, producer, director, choreographer, writer, editor, and theater geek" needs to figure out which one it is, because I think all that running around has left little time for her to sit down and think about what she's actually writing about. Or listen to the play she's seeing, for that matter. She also calls the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre at the Abingdon a "...very awkward tight performing space."...which really, I think, sums up where this woman is coming from -- I mean, if she's going to start attacking one of the great theatre complexes in the off/off-off bdwy community...she should focus on full-on Broadway and leave the smaller stuff to the people who are trying to create something. I mean...that's ridiculous. The Abingdon is a fabulous theatre.

Anyway, I was impressed by the show. There are some problems...but they are few and far between, and nothing that a few re-writes and some more work on stage can't fix. I have been seeing a lot of crappy theatre lately, on Broadway, off-broadway, and off-off; this was well worth the time. The show is enjoyable and both I and my two friends walked out of there happy to have seen it.