Sunday, December 28, 2008

'Man of La Mancha' Author Dies at 94

PHOENIX – Dale Wasserman, author of the book for the Tony-winning musical "Man of La Mancha" as well as the stage adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," has died. He was 94.

Wasserman died Dec. 21 of congestive heart failure at his home in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley, his wife, Martha, said Saturday.

"Man of La Mancha," the tale of the intrepid, ever idealistic Don Quixote, was one of Broadway's biggest hits in the 1960s. The show, which starred Richard Kiley and Joan Diener, opened in 1965 and won the Tony for best musical. It ran for more than 2,300 performances.

Its best known song, "The Impossible Dream," written by composer Mitch Leigh and lyricist Joe Darion, became a popular hit, particularly in a version by Jack Jones. The show has had several Broadway revivals since the '60s, with the latest in 2002 starring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

Wasserman's adaptation of "Cuckoo's Nest," Kesey's novel about a renegade mental hospital inmate, opened on Broadway in 1963. The production, which starred Kirk Douglas and Joan Tetzel, only ran for a little over two months but later became a fixture in community theaters. It was revived on Broadway in 2001 with Gary Sinise and Amy Morton in the lead roles.

Although most people are familiar with the 1975 Oscar-winning film adaptation of "Cuckoo's Nest," which starred Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, Kesey told The Associated Press shortly before his death in 2001 that he was more grateful for Wasserman's work on the play version, which has been published in 27 languages.

"Without the play, the novel would have made a little bubble," Kesey said.

Wasserman began writing television dramas in the 1950s, then went on to pen screenplays, including 1958's "The Vikings" starring Douglas and Tony Curtis, and "Mister Buddwing" starring James Garner in 1966.

Born in Rhinelander, Wis., as one of 14 children of Russian immigrants, he was orphaned at age 10 and sent to live with uncles and aunts. Wasserman wrote on his Web site that he left home and spent years "jumping freight trains, graduating as a Hobo cum laude," eventually ending up with a career in theater.

Author of more than 75 scripts, Wasserman continued to work until his death, making revisions to a play based on his early hobo life called "Burning in the Night," his wife said. His latest finished play, "Premiere!" is set to open in a suburban Phoenix theater next month.

Ever the forward-thinking writer, he gave his wife instructions for his obituary months ago: "'The only thing I would want the newspaper to say is this: He invented the phrase 'The Impossible Dream' — and lived it,'" Martha Wasserman recalled.

Wasserman is survived by his wife.


On the Net:

Dale Wasserman:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2009 Christmas CD

Get a head start on next Christmas. Only 374 Days away. . .


IT! will be selling a Christmas CD (12-16 songs) for next year and will be holding auditions Saturday, February 7 from 1 to 4 pm.

Please bring a CD or sheet music to audition. An accompanist will be available. Christmas music only for the audition. Ages: 8 years of age and older.

Christmas Vacation Time Waster

This game is especially for those on The Wizard of Oz cast who may feel the after-the-play-blues next week. This game might be a way to handle the sudden amount of free time following the strike. It is from a 6th grade math teacher at Gold Trail School. My 5th grader has made it to level 21 (as of this morning). Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

BLOX game

Sunday, December 14, 2008

All The World's A Stage

This past week, Mr. Insider and I attended a dinner party at a nice restaurant. I couldn't help but notice how much reminded me of a theater performance. Not every restaurant feels like live theater. However, the next time you dine out, take a moment to notice the elements that create the scene. What color are the walls? What kind of pictures or items are placed along them? Are the lights dim? Any candles or flowers on the table? Or is it bright and lively? How are the servers dressed? Did the costume designer make the server a part of the background or take a lead role. Does the server know his or her lines well enough so that they come out naturally and perhaps persuade you to order that second glass of wine? Or does it sound like more rehearsals are necessary? During our meal, the producer and director were close at hand and ensuring that every part of the production went smoothly. The mid size audience was appreciative and their positive response "Wow! that was delicious!" made the show that much better. There was drama, a little humor and a chance for me to be an Elly judge for a night.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Need to See a Play?

Yesterday, I had someone call wanting to see The Wizard of Oz. The family had to see it before next Tuesday because that was when the assignment was due for a class! Unfortunately (for her), our shows for this weekend are sold out. The caller's sense of despair set in until I mentioned As I viewed the calendar on the website, I shared with her other suitable shows playing throughout the Sacramento Valley and foothill communities. The caller had a certain type of show in mind. I felt a little bit like the Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street sending someone to Gimbels to get what they needed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Local Arts Look for Ticket to Survival

This weekend, the IT! Insider stepped away from the theater and froze in the fog in Woodland at a swim meet. As I waited between races, I read this article in the Sacramento Bee and reflected on what the sources had to say about how the economy is affecting the arts in the Sacramento area. One of the comments I could have said myself:

"In a crisis, people regroup and think about family," said Kathy Daigle, associate director of the railroad museum's foundation. "Instead of buying another game for the PlayStation, they're looking for things to do together with their children that they can all value."

As the IT! Insider, I talk to many, many people each day. I'm happy because people want to talk to me (compared to their health insurance company, call center person in another country, or tax accountant). People are excited about bringing their children or grandchildren to see The Wizard of Oz. We are local, affordably priced, quality entertainment. Don't miss out on what is in your own backyard--and above the fog!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Home Again

I hope that you have enjoyed time with loved ones this past Thanksgiving. The IT! Insider's family drove up to Washington. It was a relaxing time away, though cold and foggy during our stay. Driving back into California was like returning to Oz--warm and colorful. We brought home a souvenier from our trip--a tall noble fir. This is by far the largest and "nicest" tree we have enjoyed--ever. It is so pretty that it almost looks fake! We received a number of comments when we stopped along our route home. We had it baled and strapped down tight. Periodically would check to see if it was still there. After 625+ miles, it arrived in great condition.

The gentleman who owned the tree farm gave us an education about the types of trees and how they are shaped for different markets. Apparently in California, we prefer our trees very full with not a lot of spacing. In the Northwest, the trees that sell better have more spacing between the branches. This place had 45 acres of trees with quite a variety of trees (including some I had never heard of). Despite the selection, it was not hard to find the "perfect" tree. I stepped away briefly with one of my daughters and upon our return we were asked to guess which tree had been selected. I immediately picked it out and agreed that it really was the "perfect" tree.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ghost Stories - Preston Castle Part 3

Photo from website

The Amador Ledger Dispatch wrote a very informative article when Ghost Trackers were first invited to the Preston Castle. This also includes more of the history of those who lived and died at the castle. Whatever opinion you may hold on such things, it is fascinating to read.

It is also easy to imagine Dracula lurking in these halls. . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dracula Project Fundraising Reception

On Thursday, October 30, a fundraising reception for the Dracula Project will be held at Imagination Theater from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Come learn more about the production that is slated for October 2009. Those in attendance will be treated to costume drawings and storyboards for the film and theatrical presentation. A short, live auction will be held for a small, but vital role in the film. Those interested in sponsoring Dracula should contact Joshua Porter at 530-748-9279 or Lanny Langston at 530-642-0404.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dracula Project - Preston Castle, Part 2

Now that you know a little bit of history about the Preston Castle, it probably wouldn't surprise you that people believe ghosts reside there. In June, the Preston Castle Foundation began allowing Ghost Trackers, the paranormal research group, to coordinate overnight stays.

Here is an account of one experience entitled the Preston Castle Slumber Party and some photographs taken during the visit.

For those who want to discover the castle in daylight may do so on the regular historical tours that are offered the first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.. Tours resume in March 2009.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dracula Project - Preston Castle

This past weekend, I drove through Ione returning from the Central Valley. I had not taken this route for quite some time and it was a real feast for the eyes to see Preston Castle looming in front of me heading east. It is quite impressive in size and appearance. Next year, Imagination Theater in partnership with Porter Media Group plans to present Bram Stoker's Dracula in October 2009. Parts of the production will be filmed at Preston Castle and will be integrated into the stage production. Below is a picture and history of the castle from the Preston Castle Foundation website.

In 1890, the 230 acre parcel of land where the Preston Castle stands was purchased from the Ione Coal & Iron Company for $30 per acre with 100 acres donated. The land was purchased to house the Preston School of Industry, established by the State Legislature as a progressive action toward rehabilitating, rather than simply imprisoning, juvenile offenders.

Building of the Preston School of Industry started right away. The bricks for the building were made at San Quentin and Folsom prisons using sandstone that was quarried six miles from Ione. The bricks were then delivered by rail at 6,000 bricks per car. The cornerstone was laid on December 23, 1890 with 2,500 people in attendance.

The plans for the school were ambitious with the original plans showing 77 rooms on five floors. The building would be the most significant example of Romanesque Revival architecture in the Mother Lode.

The first floor would house a reception and Director’s room, general office with a walk in vault, reception room, sitting room, a butler's pantry, a dining room, employee lavatory, physician office, pharmacy, clerk’s office plus three additional offices. The first floor annex would include a dining room. The second floor would include a reading room, library, twelve chambers, a school room, coat and hat room, men's water closet and women's lavatory. The second floor annex would hold a dormitory, a locker room, and a linen room.

A mezzanine level was to provide two bathrooms with three bathtubs. The third and fourth floors would remain unfinished. The third floor would contain twelve rooms and the fourth floor was designed to have six rooms. The basement would include a play room, water closet (long urinal and nine toilets), laundry, lavatory with foot bath, shower room and plunge bath, hall, kitchen, pantry, furnace room, fuel storage room, and a water closet with two toilets. The basement annex would hold a bakery, fuel storage room, kitchen, pantry, storeroom, and the employee's laundry and lavatory.

On June 13, 1894, the first wards were accepted at the Preston School of Industry, and the school was proclaimed officially opened on July 1, 1894. The next year, electricity was installed by way of a water wheel powered dynamos for incandescent and arc lights.

The Preston School of Industry remained open until 1960 when new facilities for the school were completed. The building remained vacant and fading into disrepair until September 10, 2001 when The Preston Castle Foundation received a fifty-year lease for the property. The Preston Castle has also been named a California State Historical Landmark (#867) and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NPS-75000422).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

After many twists and turns (like the yellow brick road), the Imagination Theater website is up and running. Check it out and let us know what you think.

It's time to celebrate! Celebrate Good Times! Good Stories! Good Company! IT!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Life at the Fairgrounds

One thing I have learned over the last couple of months is how much is happening at the fairgrounds. I knew that it is used for many other events throughout the year, like last weekend's Rock and Gem Show and the upcoming Home for the Holidays Show, but I have seen first hand quite a number of people walking their dogs, flying model planes, camping in their rv, getting flu shots, holding company meetings, running for a cross country meet, or just simply eating lunch under one of the large, shady trees. The El Dorado County Fairgrounds is an wonderful community resource that is well worth checking out. You might be surprised at what you find (including the location of Imagination Theater in Placerville).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Break a Leg

This past weekend, my daughter's finger was injured. She may have a broken finger, though I am watching and waiting to make the call if we should go an emergency clinic or wait until Monday and see our regular doctor. Thinking about broken bones, caused me to think about the phrase "Break a Leg" that you hear people share before going out on stage. Here is a link to Wikipedia Break a Leg with some ideas as to its origin.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Dracula Project

It's getting to be scary out there--and I'm not talking about what's on the news! I'm starting to see yards being decorated for Halloween. Fake cobwebs (we have the real ones at home), pumpkins, and scarecrows are just a few things I've seen. Yesterday while out on a walk, I saw that someone had used a lifelike wig to make it appear as if someone was crouched behind the bushes. I'm glad that the sun had not set yet!

This reminds me of something new that IT! is doing with a new film company, Porter Media Group. They are planning to produce a multi-media presentation of Bram Stoker's “Dracula” in October 2009. This presentation will be a combination of film and live theater. It should be very interesting. They are planning to film some scenes in Camino and also the Preston Castle in Ione. Maybe in a future blog, I'll post some interesting details about the castle. Here's a link if you want to check it out for yourself:

An event to raise funds for the project is coming up on Thursday, October 30th at the theater from 6-9 p.m. People will be able to view costume drawings and storyboards from the film and theatrical presentation. There will also be a short live auction for a small, but vital role in the movie.

My Favorite Things

I've been listening to the cd's of some musicals these past few weeks. Day in and day out, I select one and see which songs captures my fancy. Surprisingly, I have yet to tire of them. I've discovered the rich and clever words of the songwriter. Words that express the feelings of "yesterday" are just as relevant for today. For example,"When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad." Does this help you? What are some of your favorite things? Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens? Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens? In these uncertain times, when so much is out of our control, take time to reflect on a few of your favorite things. I'm confident that you won't feel so bad.