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.