Archive | August, 2014

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

27 Aug
Mary Poppins and me at Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Mary Poppins and me at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Today is the 50th anniversary of the world premiere of “Mary Poppins.” As I’ve written before, “Mary Poppins” is one of my favorite movies in not only the Disney canon, but of all time, so this is an exciting day for me.

Just a few weeks ago, as I was traveling from Pittsburgh back to New York, I got stuck in Chicago when my connecting flight was cancelled. As luck would have it, the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit, presented by D-23, was at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, so I had to go. Imagine my excitement to find that one of the focal points of the exhibit was “Mary Poppins” memorabilia, including the carpet bag and one of Julie Andrews’ costumes from the film. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I had to take a few deep breaths and just bask in the glory of it all.

Happy Anniversary, “Mary Poppins!” Don’t stay away too long.

Julie Andrews' carpet bag from the movie "Mary Poppins."

Julie Andrews’ carpet bag from the movie “Mary Poppins.”

One of Julie Andrews' costumes and Matthew Garber's Pavement Drawing jacket from the movie "Mary Poppins."

One of Julie Andrews’ costumes and Matthew Garber’s Pavement Drawing jacket from the movie “Mary Poppins.”

The "Feed the Birds" snow globe from the movie "Mary Poppins."

The “Feed the Birds” snow globe from the movie “Mary Poppins.”

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Put Up or Shut Up

22 Aug

Well. It happened. I was challenged yesterday to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Considering my last entry, I felt like it was time to put up or shut up, so I did my challenge in my shower at the hotel here in Des Moines.

Here’s the video. Please watch. Please donate. Please forgive me for muddling the Broadway Cares section of the video – it was all very stream-of-consciousness and I was coming up with things to say on the spot, so I may have left a word or two out here and there. To be honest, I was proud of myself for being as “with it” as I was, considering I planned the whole thing out in less than 5 minutes.

Again, here are the links if you’d like to make a donation:

ALS Association: www.alsa.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255): www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS: www.broadwaycares.org
charity : water: www.charitywater.org

Ice Cubes Keep Falling On My Head

19 Aug

Well, not my head – at least not yet…I keep waiting to be nominated.

As I’m sure many of you have seen or even experienced, there is an internet craze going around of dumping a bucket of iced water on your head to raise awareness and money for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. While I have found the videos to be quite entertaining and funny, apparently a few people are sick of seeing them and fundamentally disagree with what they’re intended to do. Others have taken issue with the wasted water being dumped over people’s heads because of the drought out west and the millions of people without fresh drinking water around the world. I think those people have valid concerns, but I also think this challenge has done a lot of good, as well.

To the others, though, who are just bored with the videos, my response is this: Get over yourselves. If you don’t want to watch the videos, don’t click on them! It’s that simple. Some people have also expressed that this is simply a gimmick for ALS to raise money. To those people I posit this: Isn’t that what Broadway Bares is? (For those of you who don’t know, Broadway Bares is a bunch of Broadway singers and dancers stripping to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS). Ironically (and sadly), many of the dissenters have actually performed in Broadway Bares.

In the defense of the people I know who have taken the ice bucket challenge in California, including many celebrities, I have seen them standing in their gardens or in or near their swimming pools when they douse themselves so that the water at least gets used to water plants or goes back into their pools. (If people are going to be upset about folks dumping a bucket of water on their heads, wouldn’t their outrage be better served focusing on those people in drought-stricken California who have gigantic pools of water in their back yards or the 22 million gallons of water used in the water fountain show in front of the Bellagio in Las Vegas – or, to be completely fair – the 15 million gallons used in Disney’s “World of Color” show? Isn’t that a bigger issue? But I digress…) That being said, I can’t deny that there are many people around the world who need clean water to drink. There is a link at the bottom of this entry if you’d like to donate to charity: water.

When the ice bucket challenge began, my initial understanding of the challenge was that if you were “nominated” to take the challenge, you had 24 hours to either pay $100 to ALSA or videotape yourself dumping a bucket of iced water on your head and post it online. You could then nominate 3 people to do the same. Many people chose to just go with the iced water and I think that’s where so many people were getting upset – if everyone dumped water on their heads, who was actually donating money to the cause? Well, apparently someone was donating – ALSA has raised over $20 million in a month. Many people chose to donate  and do the bucket challenge, including a lot of high-profile celebrities. Jimmy Fallon and his team at the Tonight Show did it. Ty Burrell from “Modern Family” has done it. Ben Affleck, Chris Pratt, Taylor Swift, Ricky Martin, Justin Timberlake, Tyler Perry, Lebron James, Jack Black, Matt Lauer, Gwen Stefani, Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama, James Franco, Michael Bublé, the entire cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” and even Ms. Oprah Winfrey herself have taken the challenge in what is, honestly, one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen.

“But what’s the point of all this tomfoolery?,” you ask? Well…to not only raise money, but also to raise awareness about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or what we Americans call Lou Gehrig’s Disease. According to ASLA’s website, ALS is a “progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.”

In laymen’s terms, what does that mean? According to MDA.org, it means your muscles weaken, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing – basically all of your voluntary muscles. Hearing, vision and your sense of touch is not generally affected, so it means you can see and hear what’s going on around you, but you can’t communicate because the muscles that allow you to speak have atrophied. Some with ALS suffer from uncontrollable twitching and/or painful muscles cramps. Many display changes in character and behavior and a few suffer from pseudobulbar effect, or uncontrollable bouts of laughing or crying which are more associated with the disease than the actual corresponding emotions of happiness or sadness. It can affect anyone of any age, but it tends to show up in middle age (40-70 years) and the life expectancy is 2-5 years after diagnosis.

ALS is known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease because on July 4, 1939, New York Yankee Lou Gehrig, also known as the Iron Horse of Baseball, stood before a crowd of 62,000 people to announce that he would be retiring from baseball because just a few days earlier he’d been diagnosed with ALS, which most people had never heard of at the time. Just two years later he died of the disease. Seventy-five years later, there is still no cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig

I know many people who have taken the challenge. One of the cast members of our show chose not to do the ice bucket challenge, but posted a video of himself chugging a beer and announcing that he’d donated to 4 charities of his choosing, including the ALSA. Many people have chosen to just donate money, as I have, and I haven’t even been nominated to do the ice bucket challenge. I’m not saying this to brag on myself – I couldn’t donate much, and I certainly wish I could donate to more organizations – but the point is that I probably wouldn’t have donated to their organization if I hadn’t seen these videos because I wasn’t really aware of it. Now I am aware, and here I am devoting an entire blog entry to the subject and hopefully now you know a little bit about it, too.

There are many organizations and charities that could use your help. Please consider donating either your money or time to a charitable organization today, whether you choose to dump a bucket of iced water on your head or strip to your skivvies or not. In addition to my donation to ALSA, I have also made a donation to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in memory of Robin Williams. To make a donation to ALSA, click here. To make a donation to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, click here. To donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, click here. To donate to charity: water, click here.

That Woman Made Brazen Overtures With A Gilt Edge Guarantee!

13 Aug

Tonight at the Ordway, they’re hosting a pre-show party and playing classic Broadway overtures as background music.

I’m a huge fan of the overture which, of late, has been a vanishing breed in Broadway shows. So it got me thinking, what are your favorite Broadway overtures? Here are my Top 15, in no particular order…

1. Funny Girl

2. Guys & Dolls

3. Damn Yankees

4. Candide

5. The Phantom of the Opera

6. Gypsy

7. Carousel

8. Oklahoma!

9. Nine

10. Rags

11. West Side Story

12. The Pajama Game

13. The Music Man

14. Thoroughly Modern Millie

15. Merrily We Roll Along

What’s your favorite? Doesn’t have to be a Top 5/10/15 list – just name your favorite(s). GO!

I’m Going To Miss You, Genie or, Oh Captain! My Captain! or, Good Morning Vietnam! or, Nanoo Nanoo

11 Aug

Crying Genie
There are no words that seem adequate to express my shock and sadness over the announcement just a few hours ago that Robin Williams was found dead from an apparent suicide. He was 63 years old – just 3 years older than my Dad.

I’ve written a couple of entries about celebrity deaths that have affected me, but this one has thrown me for a loop, not only because his work has been a part of my life almost since birth – “Mork & Mindy” debuted in 1978 when I was 2 years old and I won’t even tell you how many times I watched “Popeye” as a kid – but also because I want to believe that his death could have been prevented.

Perhaps his death hits closer to home than others because we have a long history of depression in my family. My grandmother has struggled with it since I’ve known her, as has my brother, and I believe almost everyone in my family has, at one time or another, been on an antidepressant. I never went that route, but I have spent many years working with a wonderful therapist to help me learn to cope with my problems. I’m sure my parents, if they read this, won’t appreciate me airing our family’s dirty laundry for the world to see, but that’s kind of the point of me writing this. Depression has such a stigma attached to it – people are ashamed – embarrassed of a legitimate illness that can be treated. Depression is not an illness exclusive to young or old people, rich or poor, clean or dirty, male or female. It is nondiscriminatory. It happens to the best of people.

As I’ve been watching coverage of Mr. Williams’ death, Dr. Drew Pinsky, also known simply as “Dr. Drew,” pointed out that depression is a mental illness that should carry no more stigma than a heart defect or an astigmatism. I don’t generally give much credence to TV doctors, but what he said made sense. You wouldn’t be ashamed to find out that your heart didn’t pump properly or that you inherited a thyroid problem – you’d go to the doctor and get it fixed – but for some reason mental illness is something that society is afraid and ashamed of. If my writing about it somehow helps someone, encourages them or prevents them from doing harm to themselves or someone else, then I feel obligated to talk about it.

I think it was pretty well documented that Mr. Williams’ struggled with depression, alcoholism and drug use and even as recently as June of this year checked himself into rehab to maintain his sobriety. He also had heart surgery in 2009, which, according to Dr. Drew, has been known to intensify feelings of depression in people who already suffer from it. If you or someone you know is suffering from this debilitating illness or might be having suicidal thoughts, please seek help.

Be well, poppets.

Robin Williams Cover Photo
www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm

National Suicide Prevention Helpline
1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Alcoholics Anonymous
www.aa.org

Narcotics Anonymous
www.na.org
 

Edit: The original title of this entry was “Genie, You’re Free or…,” but after reading this article from the Washington Post, I decided to change it. In no way, shape or form would I ever intend to imply that suicide is a viable “out” or a key to emotional freedom as I hope you have gathered from reading the body of this entry.  

American Horror Story: Fantasyland

8 Aug

Have you guys seen this floating around the internet? It’s a collection of photos with some of the creepiest Disney characters in Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s history.

Well, it gave me an idea… What if Ryan Murphy decided to do a season of his television series “American Horror Story” based on these creepy images? My imagination got the best of me and I came up with these pitch ideas. I hope you get as big a kick out of them as I do.

American Horror Story: Fantasyland

American Horror Story: Fantasyland

American Horror Story: Fantasyland

American Horror Story: Fantasyland

American Horror Story: Fantasyland

American Horror Story: Fantasyland

American Horror Story: Fantasyland

American Horror Story: Fantasyland

Haiku For An Uninvited Guest or, I Have A Cold Sore

6 Aug

Cold sore, o cold sore!
Bane of my existence, you.
Leave my lip alone.