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Sunday, February 14, 2010

That time I did that thing that I did

Someone just recently reminded me of the time I did cues for a read-through of a Sonja Henie musical.

Uhm. Stick with me. I'm trying to think of the best way to describe the whole thing.

A friend of a friend called me one day to ask me to do a favor for his friend. So that's three friends removed--the friend of a friend of a friend. Right. So I asked what the favor was because if he wanted me to help move a couch or something, I wasn't interested. The friend of a friend (we'll call him FOF) explained: "I have a friend who has written a musical about Sonja Henie, and he's giving a reading of it for potential investors. He needs someone to operate a DVD player."

"Why does he need someone to operate a DVD player if he's having people read a script?"

"He has some clips from Sonja's movies that he thinks might offer a good visual to let the investors--potential investors--understand the show he envisions."

"And he needs someone to press the play button on the remote?"

"Yes."

"Okay."

So. Yeah. Sonja Henie, for those of you not born 70 years ago, was a figure skating dynamo, and competed in three winter Olympics ('28, '32, 36). Very famous. The Kerrigan/Harding of her time. Did a lot of movies, and was at some point the most well-paid actress in Hollywood, which isn't saying too terribly much since actresses made shit until Julia Roberts played a whore.

What a great idea for a musical, right? Funny Girl on Ice. A Star is Born to Skate. My Fair Ice Woman. Great. I told FOF I'd be happy to sit in a room with actors and potential investors and push the pause/play button on a DVD remote. Why not.

So.

The night of the read-thru was also the night 'De-Lovely' premiered. And I know this because I wandered into the middle of the premiere while going to the apartment for the read-thru. Seriously. I was walking along, listening to the music coming out of my ear buds, not expecting anything, and suddenly found myself on a red carpet, surrounded by photographers. Flash bulbs were exploding in my face. There was a limo to my right, and a small line of gawkers to my left. I froze, and took a moment to appreciate the only time I'd ever be on the fabled red carpet, then moved off and out of the way because from the limo Ashley Judd was emerging, and I didn't want to ruin her photo op.

Now. So. I arrived at the apartment building, was ushered in by the doorman, directed to the elevators, and shot up 14 or 15 floors. I emerged from the elevator less gracefully than Ms. Judd emerged from the limo, and stumbled down the hallway to the apartment door (I stumbled because one of my shoestrings got stuck in the gap between the elevator and the floor).

Nice apartment. Amazing view. Lots of windows appreciating the view. Large livingroom, with a couch, a tv, a DVD player, and some folding chairs off to the side for the actors. Snacks in the kitchen. A balcony. Several people more interested in the snacks than in anything else. Pleasantries exchanged, the author beaming, FOF introducing everyone to everyone else. Actors sitting down, scripts in hand, and me with a DVD remote at the ready.

The actors read from their scripts, and I followed along, and paused/unpaused when appropriate.

There was an intermission. I fled to the balcony for a smoke, and a guy about my age followed me. We stood on the balcony, in the balmy summer air, and smoked, and talked.

The Actor was working on a script of his own. "Don't tell anyone," he told me, which is New-Yorkeese for 'Tell anyone.'

"Okay."

"I'm adapting 'The Hungry Caterpillar' into a film. We're talking to Jack Nicholson's people."

I stared at The Actor. Then I looked out at the view, which was of Manhattan, still going, with lights in other apartments in buildings across a chasm, and an Empire State Building burning the sky.

"I'm working on a script too," I lied.

"Oh. Really? What's it about?"

"It's based on the works of Garry Larson."

"Awesome." The Actor then flicked his cigarette off the balcony. Really. He was standing on a balcony 14-15 stories above Broadway--a crowded street, with a lot of people walking below--and he flicked a burning cigarette out into the air as if the people passing below needed one more thing to deal with on their way thru life. A clump of chewing gum, a homeless guy, a taxi running a red light, and oh look a falling cigarette, how nice.

"Is Garry Larson dead?" The Actor asked.

"Not sure." He isn't.

"Find out. If he's dead, it's easier to adapt his stuff."

In the kitchen, after my smoke on the balcony, I loaded up on olives and cheese. Paper plates were provided, but the snacks were the kind that didn't require plates. And FOF came up to me, thanked me for my ability to work a DVD remote, and told me that things weren't going well for the author of the Sonja Henie musical.

"It's only intermission," FOF said, "and everyone wants to leave."

"It's not like Sonja Henie is Eva Peron," I replied.

FOF stared at an olive that had fallen onto the floor. "She could have been," he said.

My part in the read-thru was to hit cues. The actors, off to the side in their folding chairs, scripts in hand, would read their parts, and then BOOM I'd hit the 'play' button to show how Sonja Henie skated on her tip-toes, or BOOM I'd hit the 'play' button to show how Sonja Henie hung out with Hitler. Whatever. A newsreel from the 1920s. A clip of a film. During the second half of the read-thru, I got bored, and thought about the red carpet of 'De-Lovely', and missed a cue. I forgot to unpause.

The Author yelled at me. FOF yelled at me, then apologized for yelling at me, then yelled at me again. And I wanted to yell at the olive still on the floor of the kitchen. The actors, by the way, did the professional thing. They kept reading their scripts.

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