"I'm off to make a fool of myself," I called upstairs to Walt as I started to go out to the car.
Not surprisingly, he came downstairs to find out what I meant.
In truth, I had already started making a fool of myself five minutes before when I answered the phone and heard a guy named Bill Buchanan asking me if I was still planning to come to his radio station for an interview today. I had completely forgotten about it and was sitting here blythly working on a project on my computer, while Bill and my colleague Jeff Hudson, were sitting across town waiting for me.
As for recording the show: will 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 13, work? We should be done by 2:45 or 3. I will send questions in advance. They'll address the growth of live theater in Davis, how you assess the health and future of live theater in Davis, any trends you see, perhaps some of your experiences as a local theater critic, and so on....
...he had written to me on July 4. I wrote "interview" on this date on my calendar but even though I saw it there, it never processed in my brain that I was supposed to go to an interview this afternoon. I have obviously been spending too much time at Covell Gardens!
I was intimidated about being on a program with Jeff, who has been a reporter since he learned to read, I think, and who knows everything about everything, knows everybody, and I'm sure can recite every Shakespeare play by heart. He attends every Shakespeare festival within driving distance and can't seem to understand why I don't jump at the chance to see a new Shakespeare production, just for the fun of it. (By the same token, he also can't understand how I can bear to review yet another musical theater production.)
I knew that I know a lot about Davis theater. We have been involved on some level since about 1974, I think, when I inadvertently auditioned for the Davis Comic Opera Co. (one of my most embarrassing moments...I thought I was there to talk about helping with publicity, and ended up singing a song I was ill-prepared to sing and couldn't sing anyway!) Over the years we have watched theater groups coming and going and at one point, everybody in the family was involved at some level with at least one or two theater groups. There was a period of time when I was doing publicity for every theater group in town.
But I think I got off on the wrong foot in the interview when he asked why theater is growing in Davis...and I said that I don't think it is. I think there has always been theater and I think that the new theaters opening up in the last couple of years are just a continuation of a trend that has been going on, for me, over the past 40 years. Jeff, however, who has not lived here as long, was able to answer Bill's question to his satisfaction.
It was interesting to listen to the two of us. I was coming at this as a faux critic (with zero credentials), who loves musical theater, who is very supportive of community theater, and who hates Shakespeare. Jeff was coming at it as a "real" critic and seasoned newsman, who doesn't really like musical theater, who doesn't really review much local community theater, who is impressed by equity performers and equity plays, and who loves Shakespeare...and who knows everything.
It will be interesting to hear how it sounds when it airs (I will post a link).
I do think I held my own, though, even answering the very difficult question, for me, "the potential playgoer just wants to know if the show is good enough to be worth the time and cost. When you think a show is weak, how do you convey that message to your readers, in the context of a community theater review."
He had no idea what a difficult question that was for me to answer on the air (though I gave him a complete answer after the interview was over, an answer I won't repeat here for the same reason I wouldn't answer it on the air!)
It was really fun, though, to choose one show that I had seen in the last few years that really stood out for me. I can't remember which one Jeff chose, but it might have been a Shakespeare. For me, it was the recent Davis Musical Theater production of Chicago, hands down the. best. production. I had ever seen at that theater, and truly the production that stood out head and shoulders above most of the local theater productions I have seen in the last few years.
Fortunately he didn't ask for the worst show I had seen. I would have been hard pressed to choose from among a couple of very weird university shows.
The chat we had after the show ended was MUCH more fun and probably would have made a more interesting show, since we all threw caution to the wind and let it all hang out. Turns out Bill has two daughters, both interested in show business (one has graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and wants to be a classical singer). I gave him a little history of our kids in show biz and he remembers Lawsuit and asked if my son's name was Ned. That was kind of cool.