As current President of the Lewis Carroll Society, I occasionally receive requests for interviews or expert answers to various Carrollian questions. I recently gave an interview to Glance magazine, and now this month I gave another to the Wall Street Journal in conjunction with the upcoming spate of adult-oriented movies based on children’s books, including Tim Burton’s upcoming riff on Alice in Wonderland, which opens 3/5/2010. The WSJ journalist and I spoke for 90 minutes, and one sentence made it into the article. That’s showbiz! I also answered an expertise question for the staff of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? They wanted to know whether Lewis Carroll had coined the word “snark.” Answer: To the best of our knowledge, yes! I told them he also came up with the term “portmanteau word” to describe a word that in today’s lingo would be called a “mash-up” of two words. Example: his word “slithy” could be a combination of “lithe” and “slimy”. Carroll’s works, including the famous poem Jabberwocky, are full of portmanteau words. Speaking of game shows, there’s a Carrollian question on Jeopardy and a clue/answer in the New York Times crossword puzzle about once a week. His works are that much a part of our popular culture.
Sometimes really neat things happen really fast. I just filmed a quick comedy sketch with John Lithgow as part of his introduction at the November 2, 2009 Lions Gala at the New York Public Library. Mr. Lithgow could not have been nicer or more fun. The entire production staff and crew was also composed of incredibly nice people. It was all over much too soon, but everyone was very pleased with the end result, which played for an invited audience of literary and Hollywood icons at the Library’s major fundraising event for 2009. I was delighted to be cast (thank you to my agent, Renée Glicker, and to producer Tim Miller!), and I had a great time. I didn’t mention to Mr. Lithgow that he was playing opposite a fellow Harvard alumnus! Tim Miller kindly invited my partner and me to come back that night and watch the clip being played out in front of the celebrity audience. It was a blast, and the room was filled with a real who’s who of literary and film stars.
CLICK THE IMAGE TO SEE THE FULL VIDEO; IT WILL TAKE A FEW SECONDS TO LOAD, BUT IT’S WORTH IT!
I hosted the fall meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America on 10/17. The focus was on early film versions of the Alice stories, and the meeting included a screening of the rare “Bud” Pollard version — the first “talkie” Alice in Wonderland — filmed in the early 1930’s right there in Fort Lee, NJ! Who knew Fort Lee was an early film capitol? A fascinating meeting, and a great children’s reading at nearby Elementary School #4.
Vermont Stage Company invited me to take part in their 10th Anniversary Gala. I was honored. I presented scenes from our huge VSC hit productions of The Foreigner and King Lear, and helped narrate the entire evening, alongside Artistic Director Mark Nash, and his wife and Associate Artistic Director, Kathryn Blume. I also read a scene from the sweet play Souvenir. The audience of about 800 was fantastic, and at the end of the evening, alumni from VSC’s many years of productions filled the stage. It was a wonderful evening, a lot of money was raised for a terrific theatre company, and it was great to see so many of my Vermont actor friends again.
The outdoor NYC parks production of King Lear was a great success in June and July, despite the record rainfalls. The audiences at both Central Park and Battery Park were brave and wonderful. The cast and crew were as nice a bunch of people as I could ever hope to meet. And I’ve just received word that the film Free Man is nearing completion.
I’ve been cast as the Fool in my second production of King Lear with my friend Donald Grody as the titular monarch. This time, it’s for the New York Classical Theatre Company here in NYC, whose mission is to provide free professional classical theatre to audiences in NYC parks. We’ll be performing in June near West 103rd Street in Central Park, then an encore of two weeks down at Battery Park. It’s been a long time since I’ve done outdoor theatre, and this promises to be an exciting production! Please visit http://www.newyorkclassical.org/ for information.
I was also hired for a role in a beautifully written NYU thesis film called Free Man by author/director Katie Rotondo. The shoot will be early May in the NYC area. I’m very excited about the message of this film, and about the quality of the script.
I’m thrilled that our production of King Lear at Vermont Stage was a massive hit with both critics and audience members. The production starred Broadway veteran Donald Grody as the tragic title character. The entire production was beautifully cast, designed and directed, and the live percussion soundscape took the production to a whole new level. Playing the Fool was a liberating, eye-opening experience I won’t soon forget. For reviews, pictures and interviews, please click here.
Inspecting Carol at Vermont Stage was shameless fun.
Getting to play a really, really bad actor is one of those treats any actor relishes, and I had a high old time with it. High point: imagine me playing Dickens’ Tiny Tim while channeling Richard III, add a bad wig and — well, you get the idea. The plot loosely sets Gogol’s The Inspector General in a struggling regional theater mounting a horribly threadbare production of A Christmas Carol. The audience laughed themselves silly at this warped valentine to the acting profession, and we performers had just as good a time. For reviews and a picture, please click here.
I performed in my 11th consecutive season at the Vermont Young Playwrights Festival.
As always, the students scripts represented an amazing array of styles and topics, and my roles ranged from ultra-realism to far-out fantasy. Due to financial resource limitations at the theatre, this was my last season with the festival; it’s been a great 11-year run for me!