Wednesday, November 03, 2004

It's The Thea-tah, Dahling

I love showtunes! I love musicals! I love Hollywood!


(I'm listening to "Showtunes" on Radio AOL and Antonio Banderas is singing about being God and Buddha from the musical "Nine" -- WOW!)

I was catching up with Wil Wheaton's blog today and found out he was going to be a panelist on a live, non-scripted show based on the old TV game show What's My Line? in Hollywood, and if we printed out the blog entry we'd get 2-for-1 tickets -- only six bucks a pop, my kind of date. Then finding out Troy McClain from The Apprentice was another of the four panelists -- fuhgettaboutit, I'm there!

Called up Jeffrey (of non-judgmental, suburban Newark fame and who I've known since jr. high) at 5:00, and said "Wil" and "Troy" are going to be down the street, let's go! When I picked him up we giggled -- we really live in L.A., don't we? I told him about Answer Girl's blog and her relocating to Maine and how I was thinking maybe it's getting to be that time. He and Alan are planning to move to Vermont in a few years, so when I bitched that it took 40 minutes to get over the hill from my house to his -- 7.31 miles -- he said they don't have traffic that in Vermont. Then we drove 2.13 miles down La Brea and I had to valet park the car -- well, they don't have that in Vermont either.

The show was terrific! The Acme Theater is one of the finer, classier 99-seat spaces in L.A., with a lobby that opens right smack into the fabu Amalfi restaurant and bar. As we sat down, a wonderful pianist, Adam Chester, played cooler-than-Muzak versions of Queen and "Supercalifragilistic." I was thinking (as I always do at these things) "This is SO Hollywood!" because I was flanked by Tall Beautiful People in the lobby and audience... but, heck, I had blowdried hair and lipstick on tonight, so I felt like I could stand as tall as my 5'4" would allow. :)

I looked around to see how many Wil fans were out there too -- when I calmed down a bit, I could almost tell the difference -- intuition? experience? -- hell no, We're Geeks! :) I wondered silently if they felt as "signaled to" as I did when he shot that double goat throw out at the end of plate spinning portion -- THAT was the Wil we knew, he was just masquerading for the evening in a smashing black pinstripe suit and red tie. OOH! (I'm such a fan, I gotta stop that.) He also got to plug his books, a book-signing in Huntington Beach, the Richard Burns character in San Andreas (his friends ask if they can kill him now), a character he's playing on Teen Something (sorry!) and that he'll be at The Acme in a show from December-February. How cool!

So Jeffrey and I howled at the Clever, taking-notes-all-night, quick-with-the-comebacks and even-communicating-with-his-hands-while-blindfolded Wil, The Voice of "Brainy Smurf" Danny Golden and the refreshingly NON-Hollywood Troy (non-suited and in a plaid flannel shirt and cowboy boots, of course). We also gave the elegant Ann Magnuson in her knee-length black dress and red Nike slip-ons a big laugh when she said she was playing a cemetery owner, "Martha Stewart -- with a twist" on CSI Miami episode "when the tsunami hits."

The first contestant was a Comedy Traffic School instructor "Kenny Morse: Mr. Traffic" -- the panel guessed right. For those of you from Idaho like Troy or who don't have Traffic School, it's an 8-hour day of school you can go to if you've gotten a ticket so you can get the ticket dismissed and you don't have to hassle the insurance and ding on your DMV record. The comedy part is that usually Traffic School is as dry as a popcorn fart, but in L.A. comedians/actors/etc. will teach it to support their performing habit and it's whole day of laughin' and learnin'. Take it from me -- if you're allowed to go to traffic school, make sure it's a comedy one -- and some of those even serve you free pizza for lunch as a bonus!

Richard Green, a Bluegrass Fiddler, was the second contestant -- and I guess since he was wearing a bolo tie, Troy just came out (first question!) and said, "Are you in the music industry?" Right on, Troy -- they guessed his profession too. He was a bit of a trip -- when asked if he played with a band, he said yes. "What band?" "Richard Green." "No, do you play with other people in a band?" "Yes." "What's the band?" "Richard Green." I guess that's like "Van Halen" or "Bon Jovi" but you don't picture that from a hippie-dippie type (I was gonna guess he was an acupuncturist)! He did treat us to a nice little fiddle interlude though, and was quite impressed when the pianist gave him exit music in the exact style and key of the original composition he'd just played.

Contestant Three, Miss Julia Something-or-Other (sorry) came out in a loud, only-in-Hollywood-pink, pretty sequency short thing and high heels -- she was from England and self-employed. Of course the panelists went down the route of "model" and "stripper." They got close when they thought she "demonstrated something" but she stumped them -- she was a Plate Spinner! She also gave us a demonstration, then got Wil, Troy and Ann up there spinnin' too. (Funny moment -- to us anyway -- when Troy dropped his plate someone said, "You're fired!" He shot back with "Oh, it's been awhile since I've heard that!" Well, what a good-natured fella he is because I'm sure he hears that ALL THE TIME.)

Mystery Challenger (when the panelists are blindfolded) was Rose Marie from The Dick Van Dyke Show. Boy... uh, well, she hasn't aged very gracefully. :( But she was as funny as a stitch, and played off the host, Mr. J. Keith van Strattan perfectly. He, BTW, was as sharp as button (why do they say that, buttons aren't sharp!) and one of the quickest wits I've ever heard or seen!

At the end, there was one Stupid Lady who started taking flash pictures -- but the host said go ahead? GO AHEAD? Oooooh... I started to get annoyed because I can be a theater snob too: "Why didn't they have the usual warning before the show about cell phones and flash photography? And if they were allowing it, why didn't they mention that somewhere so we coulda brought a frickin' camera?!" Natch, I told you I could be critical... I don't like to be shaky on stuff like this... someone be clear about your show policies, please!

But Stupid (or Apparently-Not-So-Stupid) Lady didn't change my experience of the whole night -- there were so many darn good 'n' hardy laughs, and time just flew in those experts' hands! I love when that happens, when you're RIGHT THERE, second by second with the folks upstage, everybody winging it, wild and crazy, even the funky Rose Marie. A spontaneous theater experience and show biz at its best!

Oh, no. They don't have this in Vermont.