Saturday, January 28, 2012

Marvin's Music: Goyte

I am currently slightly obsessed with a new album by New Zealand artist Goyte. On his new album, Making Mirrors, there's a song that's totally Marvin's Room, and it blows me away that it was made in 2011. Because I love this album so much, you get a Saturday Goyte twofer.

"I Feel Better"

"Somebody That I Used to Know" (featuring Kimbra)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Marvin's Music: Etta James

We had talked about wanting to select music that Bessie and Marvin might be familiar with, and since neither of them is exactly current, we talked about artists like Etta James. Etta, sadly, just passed away after a long battle with leukemia, making the addition of her music extra poignant for us. There's an excellent interview with Etta here.

Here's "My Dearest Darling" by the always fabulous Etta James.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Music of Marvin's Room

One thing Laura Jane Bailey (the director) and Jeffrey Lo (the sound designer) talked a lot about when coming up with the concepts for Marvin's Room was the music to play before, during, and after the show. With the wall rotations we knew early on that we'd need to fill some time in blue light with some music, and that the music in these scene transitions would really be instrumental to setting the tone of the show. Laura Jane had some requests and generally thought that the show should be influenced by the music of the 1960/1970s - upbeat but with some occasionally darker lyrics. She shouted out artists like The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, Sonny and Cher, and the like as examples. Jeffrey did an amazing job of coming up with some songs that really captured the flavor of the show. We'll highlight a few songs and artists over the next few weeks - some that we used in discussion to really shape the show.

First off is a song by singer Diane Birch called "Rise Up" that we all really dig. This girl can SING.

One thing I love about doing a show with Jeffrey is that I always learn about some female vocalist that I'd never heard of - for Private Eyes last year it was Adele - right before she blew up with her monster hit "Rolling in the Deep." So far everything I've heard from Ms. Birch makes me want to go run and buy her stuff. I did enjoy a comment on iTunes though as I was researching her: "Diane Birch is to Carol King as Oasis is to the Beatles." This is hilarious as we referenced both Oasis and the Beatles for this show, but more on that later. Enjoy the bluesy voice of Ms. Birch!

See you at the theatre!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fun Facts About Disney World

Part of Marvin's Room takes place in Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We wanted to know more about the happiest place on Earth and here's what we dug up:

It's Not a Small World, After All . . . Covering 40 square miles, Walt Disney World Resort is about the size of San Francisco. Of the more than 25,000 acres, less than 35 percent has been developed with a quarter designated as a wilderness preserve.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, which encompasses approximately 107 acres, is itself larger than Disneyland, which only covers 80 acres in Anaheim, California.

Approximately 46 million people visit Walt Disney World – including Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Downtown Disney Area – annually.

The 60-foot-tall Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland weighs approximately 200 tons and is made of concrete and thousands of polyethylene leaves.

A Cast of Thousands . . . around 62,000 to be more precise. That’s how many people it takes to create the magic at the Vacation Kingdom. Not surprisingly, Walt Disney World Resort is the largest single-site employer in the United States.

If you were to wash and dry one load of laundry every day for 52 years, you’d clean as much as the folks at Walt Disney World Laundry do in a single day. The cast members there launder an average of 285,000 pounds each day. In addition, between 30,000 and 32,000 garments are dry-cleaned daily.

More than 75 million Cokes are consumed each year at Walt Disney World Resort along with 13 million bottles of water. Guests also gobble 10 million hamburgers, 6 million hot dogs, 9 million pounds of French fries and more than 300,000 pounds of popcorn.

When laid end to end, there are enough of the famous “Mouse Ear” hats sold each year to stretch 175 miles or cover the head of every man, woman and child in Orange County, Fla. There are also enough Disney character T-shirts sold to put Mickey Mouse’s smiling face on the chest of every resident of Montana.

The Hall of Presidents had its origins as an audio-animatronic exhibition called “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,” which premiered at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Could Save a Life

Dragon Productions Theatre, in cooperation with Be the Match, is pleased to announce a marrow drive at the Dragon Theatre on Sunday, January 22nd following the play, Marvin’s Room.

Every day, thousands of patients with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases hope for a marrow donor who can make their transplant possible. 70% of patients don’t have a match in their family and depend on people in the registry.

You could be that match. You have the power to heal, the power to save a life.

Take the first step and join the registry!

Registering is simple, and involves completing a health history form and swabbing your cheek. To join you must be between the ages of 18 and 60, be willing to help any patient in need, and meet the health guidelines.

Please give what you can. Every $100 raised helps us to add one more person to the registry.

To make a donation without registering, go to:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Playwright Speaks

Here's a reprint of a 1990 interview with Marvin's Room playwright Scott McPherson.


THEATER: At the Hartford CT Stage, "Marvin's Room"
By Alvin Klein, The New York Times
© November 18, 1990

Ask Scott McPherson why people laugh during his play "Marvin's Room," which concerns illness - lingering and terminal, physical and mental - as well as such incidental details as drowning, child abuse, arson and overall desperation, and he briskly answers, "Why not?"

In all seriousness, the first scene of "Marvin's Room," which opened at Hartford Stage Company on Friday and is to run through Dec. 15, is meant to be funny, he said. "It tells people it's O.K. to laugh," Mr. McPherson said before a recent rehearsal.

Conceived as a vaudeville-style doctor's sketch, the scene involves the fumbling, absent-minded Dr. Wally and his selfless patient, Bessie, who has come in for a checkup. She has devoted herself to the care of her father who has been dying for 20 years, the victim of a stroke and of cancer. He is the mysterious Marvin who "collects diseases as a hobby," the playwright said, and who remains a shadow throughout the play - bedridden behind a wall of 1,624 glass bricks.

After the comical visit to the inept physician, Bessie learns that she has leukemia. The play's other characters, who have been described as quirky, eccentric and loony, include the paralyzed Ruth, Bessie's aunt, and Lee, her estranged, hard-hearted sister. Ruth has three collapsed vertebrae and wears an electronic anesthetizer that is implanted in her brain. When she turns the dial, her pain is alleviated - and the garage door goes up. Lee has two teen-age sons, one of whom was confined to a mental institution after he burned down the family house.

To those accustomed to standard "disease of the week" television movies, "Marvin's Room" may well sound like a "diseases for all seasons" play. But it had a well-received premiere last February at the Goodman Theater Studio in Chicago, where such major works as "Hurlyburly," by David Rabe, and "Glengarry Glen Ross," by David Mamet, were first seen.

David Petrarca, the 28-year-old resident director of the Goodman Theater, staged Mr. McPherson's play, which has been praised by Chicago theater critics as a "deeply moving drama about dying and a very funny comedy about life."

On the play's shifting styles, the director commented: "Those changes are abrupt. The play can turn on a dime, from farce to realistic, brutal honesty, and one can undercut the other, but Scott always grounds it. It takes a while to commit to both - the bizarre and the poignant - and to find just the tone. Once it gets in its groove, it goes along on its own volition and doesn't fall off the track.

"It has to be recognizable. Everyone will find a family member on that stage and relate to the need to care for an aging parent or the fear of illness and the anxiety produced by that."

The 31-year-old Mr. McPherson, a former actor who has written one previous play, " 'Til the Fat Lady Sings," and is currently working on the screenplay for "Marvin's Room," which has been sold to Paramount Pictures, recalled the play's genesis:

"I was in a nice, warm Christmas play in Chicago three or four years ago, and I remembered how my Christmases were never like that when I was a kid. My family would go to St. Petersburg, Fla., to visit old, sick relatives I have fragmented memories of. I thought of Christmastime - the forced mood of the season and the reality of the situation. I don't think that's really the way it happened, but it sounds good."

"I thought of getting that into a play, and at the same time, I was working on a one-act play about an AIDS testing clinic, and somehow the two got fused. Although AIDS does not figure into 'Marvin's Room,' it covers the same emotional terrain. But I found I could not maintain a singular tone. I didn't sit down and consciously aim to make it funny, but it is all pretty absurd, and you have to deal with that. You can't ignore it.

"So I let the play go wherever it wanted to go. A world where both joy and sorrow exist was created, instead of two separate worlds. They both have to be played full out. The play isn't about disease, but about choosing to care for other people, or not. And how love creates transcendence. But that wasn't preplanned. I discovered it in the writing. And it is mainly funny."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Well 2012 is still all shiny and new, but for the cast of Marvin's Room, our first show of 2012, this week has been a chance to see how close we are to having a really fine show. The good news is that everyone came back energized, refreshed, solid on lines, and running a fabulously sharp, funny, poignant play that we're excited to show off on January 20th.

I snapped a quick (lousy) photo from last night's rehearsal.

One of my favorite lines from the show happens right here "My feelings for you, Hank, are like a big bowl of fish hooks. I can't just pick them up one at a time. I pick up one, they all come. So I tend to just leave them alone."

That's Ronald Feichtmeier as Hank, and Meredith Hagedorn as his mother Lee, by the way.

This cast is doing some incredible work. On Friday we do our first full run of the show in front of the design team so they can see the shape of the show and get some final ideas for the technical aspects of the show. I can't wait to see this come together as a whole!

Tickets for Marvin's Room by Scott McPherson are now on sale. You can buy them online or, better yet, get set up for a season's worth of shows - you save money and make sure you get seats at our tiny little house. We have three pack and full season (5 show) subscriptions available.

See you at the theatre!