BTW -- Sold out house. Standing ovation. Busses pulling up outside dropping off sections full of enthusiastic patrons. One bus load came all the way from Dayton, Ohio, to see this show on Thursday, a performance of "A Christmas Carol" at Civic on Friday, and attend classes at Civic on theater arts. Tell me this is the New Normal for local theater.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I say shoes, not pairs of shoes because they're all facing the same direction, though I don't think they'd fit right or left feet. They're cookies. A kitchen counter full of red cookie shoes. They're all for my Sneak Peek Book Release Party tonight at Grandville Library. (6:30-8 p.m.) The cookies celebrate the publication of my new book, One Shoe Off.
It's about a newspaper editor that disappeared in 1956 leaving just a shoe behind.
Believe me, I have a lot more respect for the shoemaker now ... and the cookie baker too! The dough kept sticking and twisting. Sometimes it would stretch out so the cookie cutout looked more like a snake. And sometimes the thin pointed toe would get brown in the oven way before the rest of the cookie was done.
And I've been playing Lady Macbeth all afternoon, washing my hands and repeating "Out, out drat spot," because my hands are stained with red food coloring!
Posted by Sue Merrell at 3:01 PM
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
She uses one cup of flour, 1/3 cup Crisco, and 3 tablespoons of water for each crust. Today we were making three crusts, one for the pumpkin pie and two for the fruit pie, so she started off with three cups of flour and one cup of shortening.
Secret #1: sift the flour. We've become lazy about that over the years but Mom always sifts the flour. Otherwise you get too much she said.
Secret #2: Use cold shortening. Cold. Mom put it into the measuring cup and put it into the fridge. Then when she decided that wasn't cold enough she set it in the freezer for a few minutes.
Secret #4: Use cold water. Mom used water from the dispenser on the fridge. And she's a little stingy on the water. Her mixture looked too crumbly to me to roll out on the pastry cloth, and I would have been tempted to add more water but she said to do so would make it tough.
Of course, the best part comes tomorrow, after dinner, when we get to eat pie!
Posted by Sue Merrell at 3:56 PM
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Just as the first act is really heating up, when Scrooge's long dead partner Jacob Marley calls upon his chums in chains from the netherworld to really scare Scrooge, billows of fog fill the stage. Chains are clanging. Marley is flying and skeletons are popping out of the closet. It's sheer bedlam. So on opening night when a pair of strobe lights started flashing in the auditorium, at first it seemed like part of the special effects. Except for that ear-piercing squeal on the decibel level of something from the sound system of today's overly enthusiastic rock bands. We put our fingers in our ears, the required pose for many of today's "music" performances. As the on-stage singing continued in spite of the squeal, we soon realized this wasn't a special effect. This was a malfunctioning fire alarm. The horrible sound continued for what seemed like forever, but was probably less than a minute. For the rest of the show, house manager Mary Jo DeNolf was stationed at the alarm controls in the lobby just in case it went off by mistake again.
But the next mishap was on stage. Near the end of the second act, when the Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge his own grave. His tombstone, with his name inscribed in bright red lights, opened up from a stage platform, and from the brief glimpse we saw it was an impressive marvel indeed. But no sooner had the stone showed its face but something snapped and BOOM! it was lying face down again. The show continued with Scrooge bemoaning the hidden grave, while backstage and under the stage someone managed to make sure the stone had slipped back into its place in the stage platform just in time to become a floor again for a chorus of singing citizens.
As is the theater tradition, the show went on. I laughed on the way home to write my review, which gave only a brief, necessary mention of the mishaps. And I thanked my lucky stars that at least we had avoided the problems of the sick patron which beset a Broadway show earlier in the week. You gotta laugh!
Posted by Sue Merrell at 12:22 PM
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
When my journalist friends spotted the picture, the jig was up. Newspaper people recognize this as a spike. Back in the days before computers, a lot of paper piled up in a newsroom, especially on an editor's desk. All those stories typed on all that copy paper needed to be corralled. When an editor was finished with a story, he would put it on the spike.Evidently some must have used the spike to hold rejects... ie the phrase to "spike a story." But the editors I worked with used it as a way to file used copy, a sort of purgatory before the waste can where copy could be retrieved if there was a question later.
I remember spikes standing straight up and sharp, like a very long nail. And more than one person got nicked when they slapped a piece of paper on the spike. The spike in this photo -- which I inherited from David Nicolette's junk drawer at The Press -- has been bent over to avoid such accidents, possibly in response to OSHA regulations.
The spike on the back of One Shoe Off represents that dangerous, lethal aspect of journalism. A spike figures into one of the scenes in the book when a reputed mobster confronts a crime-fighting editor. "Too bad she has to see blood before she regrets the damage she's done. Some people are like that. Blood's the only language they understand."
Posted by Sue Merrell at 10:12 PM
Friday, November 9, 2012
But one of the fun things about being in the theater before opening night was seeing the backstage preparations without all the sets and costumes. And at this time of year those backstage preparations spill over into the lobby where boxes of ornaments are lined up waiting to be hung on the Christmas tree. Wreaths lean against the wall and garland stretches across the floor. And up on the staircase, executive director Bruce Tinker is stringing lights.
And who is that posing for pictures over by the Christmas tree? Why it's Scrooge (Steve Place) and Tiny Tim. (William Mathias). I even got my picture taken with a rather cheerful Scrooge.
That's just a hint of the festivity that awaits when Civic opens "A Christmas Carol" on Nov. 16. Never let it be said that Civic doesn't know how to celebrate Christmas.
Posted by Sue Merrell at 3:16 PM