Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Adventure at the Hollywood Show (April Edition)

Tommy Kirk & Me

I'm back from the Hollywood Show in Burbank and IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME!!!!

Main Ballroom at the Hollywood Show
The main ballroom

I got there around 11:15am and determined to not let shyness get the better of me, I steeled myself for the day ahead. My main quest was to meet the one, the only, Tommy Kirk. Tommy was the very first actor I ever had a crush on, and if you look at all the men I've ever been attracted to or loved that came after him, he sort of set the mold for the type of man (physically, at least) that would catch my eye.

I had read on his wiki page that Tommy was discovered at the Pasadena Playhouse, which doubly thrilled me, because as anyone who is a frequent reader of this lj knows, I love Pasadena and I love live theatre! So I had a little "in," I hoped, to talk to him, and ask him how he got his start.

When I got into the main hall, it was already jumping. I took a cursory glance around and found the Mickey Mouse Club area pretty fast. I considered waiting, or maybe just looking around a bit first, but then I realized this is my downfall. Procrastinating would only make my anxiety and shyness worse. So I steeled myself forward and walked right up to Tommy's table.

"Mr. Kirk, it is an honor to meet you," I said, holding out my hand. "You were the first actor I ever had a crush on as a girl."

"Oh, thank you!" he said warmly and shook my hand.

I then asked him about the Pasadena Playhouse and how he got his start and he told me that his brother was an actor, and they needed a little boy to play a part in Ah, Wilderness! (one of my absolute favorite coming-of-age boy plays), so although his brother didn't get the part, he did! A talent agent was in the audience one of the nights ("A real talent agent," Tommy told me.) and then he was just whisked on to the big screen, doing 5 movies back to back! We then talked about the sad demise of the P'dena Playhouse and he was pretty upset about it. I do hope they find the money to reopen it sometime in the future.

Then - and this made me giggle inwardly as I was doing it, because I did it almost unconsciously - I asked him, "Have you been to the Boston Court Theatre?" I was pimping the Boston Court to Tommy Kirk!!! LMFAO! I think I love that theatre. :)

Tommy then asked if I was an actress, which tickled me, but I keep getting asked that, so maybe I give off some actorly vibe? *shrugs* I'm also young and in the right place, but still, it's funny and I love it.

By that time, I was antsy to get a photo, and was worried I was taking up too much of his time, so I asked and he was totally agreeable. As I was sitting down behind the table, he said something that made me almost faint:

"Oh, I get to sit beside a pretty girl."

GAHHH!!! *swoons*

And here's the photo:

Tommy Kirk & Me

*sighs again*

I will admit to getting lost in those huge blue eyes a few times while he was talking to me, too. I know he's older now, but he still has that adorable sparkle he did back when he was Merlin Jones and Travis Coates in Old Yeller and a Hardy boy. Although I rarely do this, I also got an autograph and he personalized it to me:

*sighs again* Bless you, Tommy Kirk, for making a celebrity meeting so positive and amazing. You have healed my heart a little. :)

After that, I was pretty much goo on the floor and couldn't stop grinning. I haven't felt all fun and happy and fangirly like that in...well, quite awhile, so it was great to feel that again. :)

I ran back to the car and carefully placed my autographed photo on the passenger seat before dashing back inside again.

After the TK encounter, I was pretty much flying, so the rest of the con, I was chatting up celebs like no one's business!

As I passed this guy's table:

Robert Rusler at the Hollywood Show

He said, "Hi, I'm Robert" all sexy-like, and shook my hand. He's Robert Rusler from Weird Science and a bunch of other stuff. I introduced myself and then took his photo and without thinking, I winked at him and said, "Thank you, Robert," all sexy back. LOL!!! I'm flirting with celebrities!!! WTF!!!

I also talked to Diane Franklin from Better Off Dead, (who was totally sweet) because she had this cool trading card from the movie on her table amongst her other glossies.

And then, I started doing all the requests. :)

From what I can remember, there were two requests for Mr. Gary Busey. I dared not speak to him, but here's the photo:

Gary Busey(!) at the Hollywood Show

Across the way, I looked at his son Jake's photos from The Frighteners. No one was at the table, but I heard a voice behind me say, "Hey, get away from there! Stop that," all silly-like. It was Jake Busey. Jake and I talked momentarily and I told him, "So you're the photo bomb king!" because Jake loves to get into other peoples' photos at cons when they're with other celebs. He said it was because people get free photos and that he has to spend his gas money and possibly risk getting H1N1 shaking all these hands, so I get what he was saying. The way he said it was totally hilarious and he's actually pretty cute in person. I obviously didn't dare take his photo, though! :P

I had a request for Rose Marie, and she was charming! I told her about and how much she liked RM in The Monkees and she was all appreciative. The photo turned out fantastically, too:

Rose Marie at the Hollywood Show

Peter Fonda had a room all to himself and a massive line to boot! The man is super popular. Ryan and Tatum O'Neal were in the main hall and never had that much of a line, but Peter's line snaked all the way through the back part of the convention hall! Wow! The staff woman allowed me to take a photo from the doorway:

Peter Fonda at the Hollywood Show

They were a little stickier about photos this time, and some of the lesser celebs were charging for photos, which I thought was dumb (and which is why there aren't photos of the Riptide cast in this report. Ahem.) You pay to get in, you pay for autographs, the celebs get paid for being there, shouldn't "spontaneous" (i.e., not professional photos, which were being offered for a fee) be free? What if they don't turn out? Then you're out $10. But I'll shut up about that now.

The layout was even better this time. People were complaining about how crowded the "autograph alley" was last time and that there was a bunch of black "tenting" material over all the celebs' booths, so no one could see anything that well. This time, it was just loooong tables with celebs lined up at them. This was the ideal setup and Weekend of Horrors (when it was still run by Fango) did this and it worked out pretty well.

It took me awhile to find the Karate Kid peeps, as they were hidden against a far wall, but I finally found them, and snapped a pic of Ralph Macchio for Catherine:

Ralph Macchio at the Hollywood Show

That man must have a photo of himself aging somewhere in a closet, because he looks exactly the same! It was a little surreal! I wanted to take pics of the rest of the cast, but again, there was a bit of stickiness about "casual" photos for the "higher" celebs, so I just played it safe.

Walked around a bit more, talked to a few more celebs, (kinda wanted to talk to Traci Lords, but didn't know quite what to say, so I didn't!) and got some other pics with my camera that I think turned out supremely well!

Kelly LeBrock at the Hollywood Show

Kelly LeBrock, from Weird Science (They should've had Anthony Michael Hall there and had a reunion!)

Elizabeth Rohm at the Hollywood Show

Elizabeth Rohm from Law and Order, who was very nice and utterly stunning! She was one of my favorites on the show and I will admit to having a bit of a girl crush on her.

Sean Young at the Hollywood Show

And Sean Young looking snazzy in purple.

I took a good look around at the vendors and one guy really tried to sell me something, but I wouldn't budge. I couldn't have afforded it anyway, I only had $10 in my pocket left for parking! LOL! Ogled over some lovely stills of Orson Welles and Peter Lorre, but decided against buying anything. I had already got my $20 worth meeting Tommy Kirk.

Overall, this Hollywood Show was just as well-run as the past one, although it was a little more disorganized as to how the celebs were laid out and the photo thing, but that might not even be the con's fault, more the celebs themselves. Anyway, a totally fun time was had by all and I'm still swooning over meeting Tommy Kirk! Thank you, Hollywood Show! :D

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Thoughts on Monsterpalooza in Burbank

Back from Monsterpalooza in Burbank and it was pretty darned fun. :)

Got there around 11:30am and there was a line already down the full length of the convention center and around the corner! Someone must've blabbed, 'cause Monsterpalooza was three times as popular as it was its first year! It was busy last year, but this was ridiculous! Thankfully, I spotted my friend Erik and his dad in line already, so we were didn't have to wait that long to get inside.

Monsterpalooza 2010
This dude was outside entertaining the crowd and this little girl's expression was just priceless!

Monsterpalooza 2010
The front of the dude.

We got into the main hall and that was packed, too! The Burbank Marriott convention center isn't really that big and this con will probably have to move to a bigger venue next year. This same con center used to hold what was then Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors, but it seems all cons (except the fantastic and perfectly-sized Hollywood Show) outgrow its modest-sized walls.

One of my favorite parts of Monsterpalooza is this really cool museum area that houses a lot of amazing props from various films. Last year's was pretty good, but this year was even better! Since I had my hella awesome Nikon D40 this year, I was able to take some really good photos of the stuff. I was astounded at my little camera's ability, especially since this room is shrouded in near-darkness! Here are a few highlights:

Monsterpalooza 2010

Even with this rather hilarious sign, morons were still touching the poor dude!

Monsterpalooza 2010

This is apparently from a Clive Barker movie? Whatever it is, it certainly looked cool.

Monsterpalooza 2010

Monsterpalooza 2010

These props were part of a stunning setup from Bill Malone's film, Parasomnia, which I keep forgetting is not on DVD yet here in the U.S. (although I own a R2 from the UK already), but will be sometime in July. Worth checking out.

Monsterpalooza 2010

Slimer! *squee*

Monsterpalooza 2010

As this con is mostly geared towards makeup people (but not limited to them), this guy was getting made up to show this studio's work and then walked around trying to scare people for the rest of the day.

After going through the museum, we headed off to the first panel, which was a talk given by half of KNB EFX (the B - Howard Berger, as Greg Nicotero was ill and couldn't make the show) and it was highly entertaining. Mr. Berger is a do I say this...catty and didn't mince words about a certain Bride of Re-Animator director being a total douchebag. My mouth pretty much fell open as I've heard a few small stories about Mr. Y, but nothing this hilariously Hollywood. Opened my eyes, it did. Quite fun.

We went back into the dealer's room where all the celebs were and I fulfilled a little wish/bet.

Here's the background:

One of our Plan Nine from Cyberspace podcast listeners, known fondly as Metal Mikey, asked me if I would get photos of the whole cast of Return of the Living Dead. He also made a special (albeit strange!) request for me to specifically get my photo taken with the actor who portrayed the Tarman in the film, Allan Trautman. In exchange, Mikey would phone into the podcast and sing a song of my choosing. Well, I couldn't say no to that, could I?

Here are the results:

Monsterpalooza 2010

Don Calfa (who played Ernst "Ernie" Kaltenbrunner, the mortician) was my absolute favorite pic I took of the day. He's also my favorite character in the film.

Monsterpalooza 2010

Wish fulfilled! Me with Tarman! The things I do for our podcast listeners! LOL! Many thanks to Allan for being so sweet. :)

Monsterpalooza 2010

Linnea Quigley (who played Trash)

Monsterpalooza 2010

Erik and his dad with the lovely Beverly Randolph (who played Tina)

Monsterpalooza 2010

(Pretty cute) Thom Matthews (who played dimwitted Freddy)

Monsterpalooza 2010

John Philbin (who played Chuck). Incidentally, John asked me if I was with a publication!!! LOL! I said, "No, I just have a nice camera." XD

Monsterpalooza 2010

And (the very posed) Jewel Shepard (who played Casey)

Although I've only seen ROTLD once, I remember enjoying it, even though I didn't remember all the actors/characters that clearly. And damn, don't my camera take some nice-ass photos?! :D

Then it was time for the next panel, which was with Michael Westmore, who comes from a family of prestigious makeup artists. Westmore did a lot of the makeup for Star Trek - Deep Space Nine and Voyager as well as dozens of films, including Mask and Raging Bull. Westmore's daughter (who was the star of the bizarre, yet somewhat awesome soap, Passions) was there too, so she got up on stage for a little chat. This is the slightly strange yet cool thing about L.A. - everyone and their family lives out here who's in "the biz," so random people showing up at cons is commonplace. Ken Foree just decided to show up halfway through today to sign autographs at Fangoria's booth!

Westmore mentioned how wonderful it was to work with Teri Farrell, who played Jadzia Dax, probably my favorite character on Ds9. I remember reading he painted on her Trill "spots" every day from scratch with a sharpie marker(!) and that Farrell felt every creation was like a new work of art. Westmore had so many stories, he only managed to get into the early 70s of his career before the hour was up! I could've listened to him for another two! He's supposedly working on his memoirs, which would be highly fun to read.

Monsterpalooza 2010

I really liked this dude's work. He even had a full chest (with chest hair!) done up as a canvas as well. Don't know if I'd like these gracing my apartment walls, but they were sure neato to look at!

The next panel was a really fun trivia contest hosted by THE Vincent Price fan, Luci Chase Williams, whom I had the pleasure of speaking with at the first M'palooza last year. Audience members tested their skills on monster movie questions from the "golden age" of the 1930s-50s. They had people from both sides of the audience and both times I guessed who would win the trivia contest! Both dudes who won the prize, I just felt like they'd be the winners. Surreal. Maybe I should start betting on the ponies or something...or maybe not. :P

After this second panel, I took a break, and went out to sit in my car for awhile. Crowds get to me after a certain point, and I was almost at the end of my rope.

Monsterpalooza 2010

After some PB Puffins and a little rest, I was ready for the last panel of the evening, the Q&A with the cast of Return of the Living Dead. EVERYONE was there, including Clu Gulager and James Karen! As there was an open bar in the lobby, they were all a bit sloshed, which made for an absolutely hilarious panel that was a real treat to watch. Everyone was full of happy stories of their time onset and it really seemed like they all bonded as a "family," as they called it. The panel especially made me want to watch Return of the Living Dead a second time.

The thing that amazed me most about today was that although Monsterpalooza has grown by leaps and bounds from last year, they seem to be suffering minimal (if any!) growing pains. The whole con was run like clockwork, and everyone seemed to really have a blast. I recommend this con to anyone who likes any decade of horror. I don't know much about the "older stuff," but I still had a great time and learned a lot!

For anyone who wants to see the rest of my photos from Monsterpalooza go here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Thoughts on "Oedipus El Rey" at the Boston Court Theatre

Hottie Oedipus (Justin Huen) addresses his audience. Photo by Ed Krieger

Tonight, I was privy to see Oedipus El Rey at the Boston Court Theatre in my beloved Pasadena.

I arrived in good time to the theatre and parked in their wonderfully free parking lot behind the building. Thanks to UnBearded Brian, the marketing/@bostoncourt Twitter dude, my ticket was being held at will call under "Elisa Lilylemony," which tickled me to no end. Hence, I was able to go up to the woman behind the counter and say, "I have a ticket reserved under Elisa...Lilylemony." She laughed and found the ticket, then told me they had put my last name on it just to be on the safe side. Hehe.

Executive director Michael Seel was nearby and stuck out his hand for me to shake, telling me that it was good to see me again. This is what truly makes the Boston Court special, is this very sincere and relaxed way about everyone who works there. It doesn't feel hierarchical or that you're cattle being herded in and out of the theatre begrudgingly by the staff, you truly feel like you're sitting in your friend's very beautiful living room, being entertained by these other people they know.

While we were waiting for the theater to open, I chatted briefly with a couple, whom I asked where the best place to sit was. The man, who had been before, simply answered, "Anywhere" with a smile.

Soon, we were allowed into the theatre proper and I hiked down to the second row of the 99-seat stunner, sitting as close to the middle as I could. This turned out to be highly serendipitous, because the woman I sat next to was wonderful company. Connie (accompanied by her husband Bill) received their original subscription to the Boston Court from one of Connie's students as a present several years ago and they've been renewing their membership ever since. It was delightful to hear her wax poetic about a place I am very quickly falling in love with already, almost like a confirmation of its magical quality, and that it didn't just have an effect on me, but everyone who sets foot inside it.

View of the stage from the second row

Set in modern day Los Angeles, Oedipus El Rey is a retelling of the Greek myth of "Oedipus Rex" - Oed. kills his dad, marries his mom, and gets cursed to a life of tragedy. Playwright Luis Alfaro weaves the myth into this wonderfully complex storyline that works so well within its updated context.

The whole cast was exceptionally strong. Sometimes, with an ensemble, you have a few "weak links" in the chain that the others have to carry, but everyone pulled their weight and really made the production sing. Especially strong was Marlene Forte, who played Oedipus' mother/lover Jocasta. It was amazing to see so much power and strength come out of such a tiny woman. And she had to cry on cue not once, but three times, and she did it so naturally, it was incredible. The lead, Justin Huen was amazing and very bold in his acting, without being over the top. I absolutely loved the idea of the inmates making up the Greek chorus who led us along in the storyline. Many times throughout the play, I found myself not thinking that the players were acting, but merely that I was watching a scene unfold somewhere in a distant reality. There was a sort of choreography to everyone's movements that created a "dance" onstage, every actor moving fluidly with the other. This is the mark of good theatre. As Hamlet said, acting is "to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature."

Forbidden fruit. Oedipus (Justin Huen) and Jocasta (Marlene Forte) share a tender moment. Photo by Ed Krieger

The lighting and stage direction for the play were absolutely phenomenal. I don't think I've ever seen such creative use of lighting before. As you can see from my above photo, the stage was split in half, representing both the prison world, and the outside world, separated by bars that would open during crucial parts of the play, a symbolic transfer from one world to the other. It also felt as if prison was hell and death and the outside world represented life. During a very intense scene near the end of the play, the two actors perform in a single shaft of light that comes from the side of the stage. There were these wonderful...I'll call them "soundscapes," that faded in and out of one's consciousness as you watched the play. During the scene with Oedipus first meets Jocasta, we hear birds twittering in the background, but it's so soft and subtle, that you're not even sure you've heard it, until you really concentrate, and then it's gone. These little touches really added to the production as a whole and gave it a more realistic feel.

Another wonderful thing about this production was that they utilized not only the stage, but the full theatre. Actors were constantly running up and down the two side aisles and even along the high catwalk to the right of the stage. Several times during the production, the Greek chorus of inmates would sit at the sides of the theatre, giving the play a very rounded and complete feel, as if we were ensconced in the action.

As we were politely warned beforehand, there was mild nudity in this production during a love scene, but it was neither gratuitous nor unnecessary. It was so beautifully done that it was like watching art in motion, the two bodies entwining in forbidden passion.

Being set in modern times and in prison, all of the male actors were scattered with these incredibly cool, ornate tattoos. Throughout the production, I became more and more curious as to whether they were real, or faux, and if faux, how did they do it? I'm guessing henna or semi-permanent ink that they would "press on" before the show, but some of them were so intricate that I'm still not certain. I'm also curious if each tattoo represented a theme in the play, giving it a more visual (and literal) meaning. I became mildly entranced by a tattoo on Oedipus' left arm that looked uncannily like Cthulhu, Lovecraftian monster of the underworld. But that's just how my strange brain functions. XD

After the show, Connie, her husband, and I sat momentarily, discussing the play, the theatre, and our experiences. It was so lovely to speak with her, I do hope I run into her again at another production.

Tonight, my friends, the Boston Court healed the last wounds that had been festering since last summer's fiasco with another theatre's production that shall remain nameless. The BC is night and day from my previous experiences, and it was almost a sort of catharsis to see a production in such a positive space. As Connie so rightly said before the production started, "The Boston Court staff are so nice, but they're sincerely nice, none of this phony stuff like other places."

I wholeheartedly agree.

Oedipus El Rey, one of the BC's most successful productions, has been extended through April 11th. Click here for tickets and more info