Picking the Play Within the Play

hero-edwardSomeone asked me recently why I had the drama club in Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers pick Twilight to turn into their school musical. The answer is more than simply piggy-backing on what, at the time, was a huge tween/YA phenomenon. Stephenie Meyer’s theme in Twilight was a classic and probably universal teenage girl fantasy: The plain girl gets the hot guy.  I knew that theme hit home with millions of teens – I was there once too – and it tied in with my theme in which Sadie, who thinks she’s a plain girl, gets her once-plain-now-hot boyfriend. So the “reality” in my book mirrored the fiction of the Twilight story.

Plus, Twilight is just good plain fun. Adapting songs for a musical of Twilight was a blast. (If you haven’t checked them out yet, here’s a video sample of one of them.)

hero-heathcliffSo why go from blood-sucking modern vampires in BP1 to Wuthering Heights in Bit Players, Bullies and Righteous Rebels? If you’ve read WH, you know Heathcliff is a monster in his own way, even if mortal. But my reasons for choosing WH were: (1) It fit with the story – retiring English teacher picks one of his favorite classics for the school musical; (2) I loved the idea of “contemporizing” Heathcliff and Cathy’s story, and (3) it’s another timeless theme: you always hurt the one you love.

hero-hortonFinally, for Bit Players, Bird Girls and Fake Break-Ups, why Seussical? You guessed it – timeless theme; in this case, wanting to be heard. And the music from Seussical just rocks. But most of all, Seussical begs to be satirized…enter Whossical, the student-written play within their play within their play. Sort of. If you read the book, you’ll know what I mean.

On other topics, someone also asked me recently why I haven’t been blogging. Simple answer: Life got in the way. But I’m still here, and the Bit Players books are still here, and eventually I’ll be blogging more, so stay tuned – there should be another act coming. :-)

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A “Comforting” Review

Paige at the blog Comfort Books is reviewing the Bit Players series, starting with – of course – the first: Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers. (Now you understand the title of this post. I know – I am sooo funny.)

She gives it a general thumbs up in this Read Your Bookshelf-a-Thon video update, (start about 1:15 in) and is posting a full blog review soon. In the meantime, here’s her goodreads review if you’re interested. Thanks for the support, Paige!

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LeBlonde Blog – The Final Chapter

Well, it took me two weeks to write this post, because the news is so depressing. The show is cancelled. So ends the shortest-lived blog within a blog in history.

More important, so end the musical theatre hopes and dreams of a really dedicated group of seniors, who wanted one last show more than anything. Kinda sucks, but what can you do? It’s like Post-Show Letdown without the show. Call it No-Show Letdown.

Just like with Post-Show Letdown, the best cure is a new show. So I hope all the seniors find their way into college or community theatre in the future, to get that theatre fix they need so badly.

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Book Giveaway Winner Announced

Congrats to Riley from New York, who won the series of Bit Players books in my recent blog contest. Riley loves music, theatre and horses, so the novels are right up her alley! (OK, so far I haven’t put any horses into the books, but I do love them, so maybe in the fourth and final book, if I write one more.)

Check out Riley’s own blog here. Called Little Miss Sealz, it’s about her adventures in high school. Yup, Riley is only 14, and writing a cool little blog, so have a look. As she writes on her About page:

My life isn’t exactly exciting, or miraculous.  I’m not overcoming any huge obstacles (unless high school counts), but I’m probably not the only person who feels that way, so this is where I can write all my random thoughts of an average teenage girl.

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LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 11 – Time to Pull a Rabbit from a Hat

rabbit hatWe’re on the brink. If we fall one way, we painstakingly pull together enough students to put on Legally Blonde: The Musical. If we fall the other, we don’t, and the whole show is off.

Auditions were held a few days ago for the kids from Cunningham High, and any other Smalltown students who suddenly got the theatre bug since the first auditions were held. The five Cunningham students we thought were coming turned into one, and as for the theatre bug? Not catching at all. No Smalltown students came.

What is the world coming to when no one wants to be in an awesome show like Legally Blonde? Honestly, this school sucks sometimes. The seniors are committed to the drama program, and a bunch of middle school kids look promising, but in between? Three grades of losers, at least when it comes to drama, school spirit or basically getting involved in anything. Except maybe sports.

It looked for sure like the show would be cancelled when basically no one showed for the second audition, but our fearless director and intrepid seniors refuse to give up. Three stage crew members were talked into taking bit parts. One girl is doing a show at a nearby boys school, and she thinks she can pull five boys from there. And maybe someone else can pull some other rabbit out of some other hat.

Mr. D. is away next week so we have that time to see who else we can scrape up. If it’s not enough, we may not have the show!!!!!!!!! :-(

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LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 10 – Holey Cast List, Batman!

Holey Cast ListThe cast list is out — sort of…Mr. D. filled as many roles as he could with the small group of people who tried out for Legally Blonde. But that’s barely half the roles. The good news is, Smalltown High’s principal talked to Cunningham High’s principal who talked to his Drama teacher who talked to her students all while the Smalltown kids were talking to their friends at Cunningham and guess what? It worked. Cunningham is going to take part in Smalltown’s production of Legally Blonde. Pfshew. Not exactly the kind of neat, tidy, well-planned inter-school collaboration you read about, but it gets the job done.

Auditions for Cunningham are next week, and then the show will, hopefully, be fully cast. Mr. D. has already held one rehearsal, with four of the leads, so at least it feels like this show will actually happen, although I suppose we won’t know for sure until after the Cunningham audition. I mean, if only three more people try out, will that be enough?

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LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 9 – Audition Angst, Casting Confusion

So auditions for Legally Blonde were a week ago, and the cast list isn’t out yet. The principals of our Smalltown High and neighboring Cunningham High did talk, and agreed that Cunningham kids could try out for the show to beef up our skeletal cast. Hopefully, they’re auditioning soon since they finished their performances of Anything Goes a week ago. But the director Mr. D. said he wasn’t going to wait for those auditions to announce parts for the Smalltown people who already tried out. What’s the hold up? Who knows. Clearly none of the adult directors remember the agony of being suspended in waiting-for-casting limbo.

croppedMr. D. said he’ll send the cast list around by email or post it on Facebook. That’s today’s way, but the old-fashioned way of posting a list in the school had its merits. The act of approaching the fluttering piece of paper, stomach twisting at the prospect of another bit part — or would it be a meaty role this time? — is pretty dramatic in itself. Then the torture of scanning the list for your name, which takes seconds but feels like hours. Finally, the walk of shame or the walk of fame as you leave the list. You don’t even need to hear what people are saying to know who got good parts — you can tell by their body language as they turn away from the list and walk down the hall to their lockers.

Then there are those directors who like to announce the casting in person. That can be dramatic, too. I know someone who auditioned for Mayzie in Seussical but the director forgot to announce who got that role so my friend was left hanging, wondering if she got no part at all while everyone stole awkward glances at each other. (I stole that story and used it in Bit Players, Bird Girls and Fake Break-Ups.)

But we don’t have a cast list for Legally Blonde yet, so let’s go back to auditions for a minute. Everyone has their own level of angst going into an audition. Here’s what Sadie in the Bit Players novels was thinking before her audition for Twilight: The Musical in Bit Players, Has Been Actors and Other Posers. (For those of you who don’t know Sadie yet, she is your average, sometimes awkward and usually self-conscious teenager, but she feels at home on the stage.)

I hated auditions because I wasn’t in charge. I was one of many, and I had nothing special to recommend me. But I wasn’t nervous. I’d auditioned enough times to have conquered the butterflies long ago. I was excited.

Walking onstage, the curtains swaying ever so slightly at the sides, various props from previous shows cluttering the wings, I was at home. Looking out at the judges, I buzzed with anticipation. And as I started to sing the first notes of my audition song, I tasted opportunity.

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