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The Dog Days of Summer

Ruby and Georgia, July 2015, in 90+ degree heat.

Ruby and Georgia, July 2015, in 90+ degree heat.

We try very hard not to be offended by the term “Dog Days of Summer.” After all, we ARE dogs. But sometimes you just have to give in and let things happen. Right?

So, what exactly are the Dog Days of Summer? Well, supposedly Dog Days refers to that short – but HOT – period of time between July 3 to August 11. Named by those witty Mediterraneans, this period of time was thought of as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star, get it?) and the sun. (BTW – “conjunction” is a fancy astrological word for the alignment of two celestial bodies as seen from the earth, got it?) In any case, we find it deeply offensive – most of the time.

Ruby and Georgia paying strict attention at a recent MMSC rehearsal.

Ruby and Georgia paying strict attention at a recent MMSC rehearsal.

But the last week of July 2015 brought out the beast in us. Normally we are very refined young ladies (and one of us is very young – dare we say it, a mere puppy.) We can usually be found passively enjoying MMSC rehearsals; we are great listeners. We enjoy greeting each actor as he/she arrives at the MMSC rehearsal studio (frankly, sometimes Ruby can be a little overly enthusiastic), making sure that everyone knows where the rehearsal refreshments are located (just in case some little tidbit should fall on the ground), and then settling in for a really good “listen.”

We had a really great time this summer because the good folks of MMSC were rehearsing for three separate performances during our debut in a special 3-day Readers Theatre Weekend over in Wappingers Falls at the County Players at the Falls Theatre. Actually, we were rehearsing 13 different plays because the Sunday afternoon performance – SUMMER SHORTS – consisted of 10 different short 10 minute plays. So, lots of our very favorite people were coming and going for rehearsals all summer long. We loved it and had a blast until we were sent upstairs for that aforementioned overly enthusiastic behavior.

The cast of MMSC's Readers Theatre Weekend shows - July 2015

The cast of MMSC’s Readers Theatre Weekend shows – July 2015

 

Here’s some of the crew from the Readers Theatre Weekend shows. Recognize some familiar faces? A couple might be missing from the photo because they might have been MIA on the day this was taken. We asked if we could stand in for them, but Bob said “no.”

 

Anyway, now it’s on to the next big thing for this summer, Liz’s wedding. Our beautiful girl, Liz, is getting  married this summer and even though we are deeply offended (again) that we were not asked to be in the Bridal Party (because we love a good party!) as Bride’s Dogs, we wish her well. She lives out on the West Coast now in Santa Monica  but we still periodically patrol her old bedroom here just in case she decides to come home unexpectedly.And we are very happy to welcome Evan Silver to our pack; he is a great guy who doesn’t seem to mind dog hair on his black sweaters!

Liz and one of her guests (and an MMSC reader from our old days at The Painted Word), Barbara Schade.

Liz and one of her guests (and an MMSC reader from our old days at The Painted Word), Barbara Schade.

Here is Liz – laughing it up at her Bridal Shower (to which we were also NOT invited – can you imagine???). We guess they must have some pretty valuable furniture over there at the Inn at Kettleboro and they don’t seem to appreciate dogs on their couches. After all, what are couches for if not to make life more comfortable for dogs. At least that’s what we think.

So, we are waiting for these Dog Days of Summer 2015 to turn into cooler temperatures which will mean that the Fall of 2015 can’t be far behind.

And that means that our MMSC Fall Season can’t be far behind! We have already booked four weekends over with our good friends at Woodland Pond at New Paltz and who knows what else we will be up to? We are looking for new performance opportunities for our fabulous MMSC actors and actresses; so, if you know of a great place for us, let Bob and Christine know, OK? That will mean more rehearsals which also means more great actors coming to visit us AND more great rehearsal snacks!

Gotta go. We’ve got lots to do to prepare for the Big Wedding and then the MMSC Fall Season. Keep checking back on the beautiful (and brand new!) MMSC web site for all the most recent news and announcements. Thanks to Bob and Christine for letting us make this Bark Entry. Oh wait, we mean Blog Entry.

And thanks for being part of the MMSC “pack.”

Happy Summer!

Ruby and Georgia
The Official MMSC Mascots

Christine, Bob, Ruby and Miss Georgia at the Finish Line of the recent Walkin The Dog event, a fundraiser for Elting Memorial Library.

Christine, Bob, Ruby and Miss Georgia at the Finish Line of the recent Walkin The Dog event, a fundraiser for Elting Memorial Library.

 

Posted in Dogs, rehearsal, Rhodesian Ridgebacks Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

And now for something completely new…

Dear Gentle Readers,

The Future road sign

We are following the signs!

We welcome you back to our highly informative, always thoughtful MMSC blog. We have not made an entry here since our trip out to Oregon in the summer of smoke in 2013. (You can check out that trip in previous blog entries.) We are following the signs, and wanted to return to this digital diary as a way to keep you all up-to-date on our MMSC “doings.” (For the actors among you, we are “doing our doings.”) Hope that you will join us on the journey as we begin to travel down different roads and experiences.

The summer of 2015 looms as one of great change for MMSC and its founders, Bob Miller & Christine Crawfis. We are venturing  into new venues (including Woodland Pond in New Paltz & County Players Falls Theatre in Wappingers Falls), dabbling in new formats (including an entire weekend festival of Readers Theatre programs in July), welcoming family to The Great Gathering in June, hosting a Bridal Shower for our daughter in June (with the subsequent WEDDING in August), watching Bob as he (finally) retires (for real) in September, culling 26+ years of living from the home that we have known in New Paltz, and (take a deep breath) selling the aforesaid home, and moving (to who-knows-where). Big Change. More on all of these (and more) in future posts.

Christine, Bob, Ruby and Miss Georgia at the Finish Line of the recent Walkin The Dog event, a fundraiser for Elting Memorial Library.

Christine, Bob, Ruby and Miss Georgia at the Finish Line of the recent Walkin The Dog event, a fundraiser for Elting Memorial Library.

And oh, back in November we welcomed a new member of the MMSC mascot family – our sweet Ruby, an eight month old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. Ruby joins Miss Georgia as the official MMSC rehearsal mascots. They welcome the actors into our rehearsal studio and make certain that everyone is on task and patiently listen in on our rehearsals. They are a great audience. They never make comments or rustle candy papers. More on this in future posts.

Our rehearsals for the Big Summer Project (a full three-day Readers Theatre weekend at the County Players Falls Theatre in Wappingers Falls) begin next week with a table-read of The Language Archive. Back in the saddle. Or in the case of our lovely mascots – back on the couch. Can’t wait to get started. More on our rehearsals in future posts.

Next weekend – May 15 & 16 – we will be performing at The Lady With All The Answers at Woodland Pond. Even though the play is about Ann Landers, Bob likes to tease that the part was written especially for Christine to play because, after all, she does have all the answers. We’ll post photos from the performances.

There is much to think and talk about. Glad to be back. Happy you could join us. Stay tuned.

And we’re off and running…

Posted in General

And in the meantime…

Crater Lake

This year every day out here in Ashland has been filled – to some some extent – with smoke. The wildfires in the hills which surround the Rogue River Valley continue to burn and the smoke levels rise and fall daily based on the prevailing winds and the temperature.

But the time has also been filled with family, friends, and theatre. Let’s do a recap of the past several days, shall we?

Bob finally arrived in Ashland on Thursday evening, having the spent the night on an unplanned detour into Detroit. He arrived too late to see King Lear. So, only one half of the MMSC contingent was in the audience on August 1 when Jack Willis took the stage as Lear in the Thomas Theatre on the OSF campus. OSF’s contemporary staging of the Shakespeare tragedy features two different actors in the role at alternating performances. The production is very “in your face.” By staging Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in the intimate, in-the-round Thomas Theatre and setting it in a contemporary time frame, OSF has certainly provided the play with immediacy and a clear visceral impact. Sometimes it’s too close. Fortunately I was on the opposite side of this very small house during the blinding of Gloucester, but the woman in the front row was obviously uncomfortable with the proceedings. Me? I was just glad to be hearing that wonderful language.

Jack Willis as King Lear

Jack Willis as King Lear

 

Then on Friday afternoon we were treated to a matinee performance of OSF’s wonderful production of Streetcar Named Desire. Excellent performances. Terrific set. And – for the most part – nicely staged. Again – some of the most beautiful language. It was lovely to once again hear that “sometimes – there’s God – so quickly.”

We’ve also seen a new play – The Unfortunates – and an old favorite – My Fair Lady – with an old friend, actor Anthony Heald – in the role of Doolittle. And of course, our favorite sound technician on the mixing board at the back of the theatre.

Still to come is a performance of still another new play – The Liquid Plain.

Yesterday was a trip to Crater Lake. Crater Lake is a caldera lake in the western United States, located in south-central Oregon. It is the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and is famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot (655 m)-deep caldera[1] that was formed around 7,700 (± 150) years ago[2] by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. Human interaction is traceable back to the indigenous Native Americans witnessing the eruption of Mount Mazama. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake; the evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall at a rate such that the total amount of water is replaced every 250 years. At 1,943 feet (592 m), it is the deepest lake in the United States, and the seventh deepest in the world. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Today was lunch with our friends Tony and Robin, and a private viewing of the OSF production of Pirates of Penzance (which we had missed a couple of years ago.)

Not much time left out here and then it is back to New York. Stay tuned for the final entries.

Posted in Ashland, Crater Lake, Family, OSF, Reservoir, Wildfires

The Saga of our AQI

oregon-wildfire-ashlandjpg-e2739d4bf2c85e9c_large

Here’s the simple explanation: As a result of the numerous wildfires burning in Southern Oregon, air quality in the Rogue Valley has become extremely unhealthy. In short, the AQI (Air Quality Index) in Ashland has gone from 150 (USI – Unhealthy for Sensitive Individuals) to 200 (Unhealthy) to today’s AQI of 291 (Very Unhealthy). We are well on our way to Hazardous.

For those of you who are actually interested: here is a link on the current AQI in the Ashland area – http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_city&mapcenter=1&cityid=617

And perfecting our collection of indoor activities.

The performances on the outdoor stage have been cancelled for the past two nights and will probably be cancelled again tonight … and tomorrow night … and…Fortunately for us, most of our plans were to see performances in the other two (indoor) theatres. Hoping to see King Lear to night, but we will have to see if Mr. Bob arrives in town tonight.

The original plan was for Bob to arrive last night at 11 pm; HOWEVER when the trip involves a perfect transition between three separate (and scheduled-too-close-together) flights, schedule screw ups are inevitable, right? So, the details notwithstanding, Bob spent last night in a beautiful Holiday Inn suite (complete with two widescreen TVs and a jacuzzi) in – wait for it – Detroit. As of this writing, he is on the ground in Minneapolis and waiting to board a flight for Portland and then Medford and then…stay tuned.

In the meantime, we are hanging indoors, enjoying good food and wine, and especially enjoying the ability to simply be together.

Really – stay tuned.

Posted in Ashland, Family, General, Wildfires

Smoke actually does get in your eyes

The view on Sunday morning.

Well, here it is Tuesday morning and one half of the MMSC team has been in Ashland since Saturday afternoon. (The second half of the team arrives late on Wednesday night.) We have been enjoying the time to enjoy family and friends, eat delicious food, drink delicious wine, and sit around and have those kind of conversations that you can only have when you have lots of time with those aforementioned family and friends.

The RunDown

Saturday – a middle-of-the-night departure from NY and three scheduled-too-close-together flights later, I find myself at the Medford Oregon airport, being greeted by the beautiful Jacqui Alvarez. Short drive to Ashland and our 2013 trip has begun! Saturday is all about “hellos.” Hello to Jacqui, and our sons Noah and Josh. Hello to Ashland and the familiar “bricks” in front of the OSF campus. Josh is working a matinee of Taming of the Shrew  (he is shadowing the sound technician for that show because he will have to fill-in later this week) and Noah is off being certified to ride motorcycles in the state of Oregon. Lots of time for Jacqui and me to shop for dinner, sit and drink wine, and then enjoy dinner once the boys (I can call them that; I am their mother after all) are back. Dinner was a fabulous salad with white beans, grilled veggies, goat cheese, and fresh tuna. Strawberries for dessert. Thank you Jacqui for being such a great cook! Great first day back on the west coast

The view on Sunday morning.

The view on Sunday morning.

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Sunday – am on the front porch of Josh and Jacqui’s apartment. Here is the view on Sunday morning. Notice the mountains in the background. We will get back to that view later on in this post. Sunday is another matinee for Josh – this time he is mixing the sound for My Fair Lady. Noah is in his final day of Motorcycle School, and Jacqui and I choose to hang out at the Grizzley Peak Winery (not a bad assignment.) Also mid-morning coffee with a very dear friend – Michael Maag – who is the Lighting Supervisor for OSF. [polldaddy poll=7287072]Dinner and a movie. And what a movie. 20 Feet From Stardom. A wonderful documentary about back-up singers.  See it if you have the opportunity. Another day filled with conversations and memories.

Monday – If you are in the theatre, then you know that Mondays are the day off. Lots of coffee, front porch sitting, conversations, and another delicious Jacqui dinner – this time Fettucini Alfredo with fresh spinach and tomatoes and – wait for it – mocha cheesecake and strawberries. AND we watched the smoke roll in over the mountains from the Douglas Complex fires. (That means that there are multiple wildfires – hence “complex” – all started by lighting strikes and very dry brush.) Crazy and more than a little weird. By evening the view was completely obstructed by the smoke. And yes, everything and everywhere smells like a big backyard bar-be-que.

Front porch with smoke.

Front porch with smoke.

Tuesday – So, more coffee but no front porch sitting (and here is the view from the front porch this morning. See the difference?) We are making plans to pick up Mr. Bob tomorrow night, settling into our little apartment, and making the schedule for which shows we are going to see at OSF. So far we expect to see” Streetcar Named Desire, King Lear, My Fair Lady, and The Liquid Plain. More detail in the following days.

For now – wanted to get you all up-to-date. And thanks for keeping track of us.

Posted in Ashland, General, Grissly Peek Winery, OSF

Completing The Canon

OSF's production of Cymbeline on the Elizabethan Stage.

OSF’s production of Cymbeline on the Elizabethan Stage.

We do not consider ourselves to be part of that tiny subset of Theatre-Goers known as Shakeseare Canon Completists; those avid Shakespeare fans who seek to see a production of every one of the 38 plays that make up the Bard’s canon of plays. But many of Shakespeare audience members do pride themselves on how close they may be to completing the canon. This is why those plays which are infrequently produced (say, Cymbeline which is playing on OSF’s Elizabethan stage this summer) are certain to sell out.

Nevertheless, as we head out to Ashland we find ourselves contemplating the plays in that famous Canon and hoping to check off one or two.

Maybe you can use this handy guide to keep track of your own “productions seen” list. Here’s our tally. Let us know how you score.

Here’s the COMEDIES:

The Comedy of Errors _X_
Much Ado About Nothing _X_
The Taming of the Shrew _X_
As You Like It _X_
The Two Gentlemen of Verona _X_
Twelfth Night _X_
Love’s Labour’s Lost _X_
Troilus and Cressida _O_
A Midsummer Night’s Dream _X_
All’s Well That Ends Well _X_
The Merchant of Venice _X_
Measure for Measure _X_
The Merry Wives of Windsor _X_

And now the Histories…

King John _O_
Richard II _O_
Henry IV, Part One _X_Henry IV, Part Two _X_
Henry V _X_
Henry VI, Part One _X_
Henry VI, Part Two _O_
Henry VI, Part Three _O_
Richard III _X_
Henry VIII _X_

And the Tragedies…

Titus Andronicus _X_
Romeo and Juliet _X_
Julius Caesar _O_
Hamlet _X_
Othello _X_
King Lear _X_
Macbeth _X_
Antony and Cleopatra _O_
Coriolanus _X_
Timon of Athens _O_

And finally, the Romances…

Pericles _X_
Cymbeline _X_
The Winter’s Tale _X_
The Tempest _X_
The Two Noble Kinsmen _O_

We are at 29 seen with 9 still to go. How’d you do? Where do you need to fill in the gaps? We are delighted to say that we were able to find (and see) a production of Pericles.  If you find a production of The Two Noble Kinsmen, let us know! Or Timon of Athens. Two of the harder ones to find.  Go ahead. Tell us your score.

[polldaddy poll=7272117]

Posted in Ashland, General, OSF, The Canon Tagged with: , , , ,

Back On The Road Again

One of America's oldest Elizabethan theatres, the Elizabethan Stage is named for a queen and the glorious age in which Shakespeare wrote. Beneath a canopy of stars, in the comfort of the Allen Pavilion. Seats 1,190.

In less than a week, we will be packing our bags and heading back out to the West Coast and our annual visit to Ashland, Oregon. Visits with family and friends await. And new productions to see at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Highlights of this year’s visit will include:

Productions of My Fair Lady, Streetcar Named Desire, King Lear, Liquid Plain, and The Unfortunates, and

Lots of time with Noah, Josh, Jacqui, Stella, Zoe, Nellie, Michael, Tony, and on and on…and,

A visit to Crater Lake, and

Time to read and drink coffee and sit out on the deck and look at the stars…

Stay tuned.

Posted in Ashland, Crater Lake, Family, General, OSF

Meanwhile back on the Million Dollar Deck…

Bob and Georgia sharing an ice cream cone.

We have been very busy ever since we returned from our recent trip out to the wilds of the West Coast. It was very tough to say our good byes in Oregon and leave our wonderful little home-away-from-home apartment in Ashland. Good bye to great theatre on a daily basis, good bye to morning coffee with our family and meeting “on the bricks” to decide what adventures we were taking off on for the day.

Our trip back – through those same Gateways that took us from New York to Oregon – only in reverse – was uneventful. We even landed ahead of schedule at JFK! And our good friend Don was kind enough to pick us up and deposit us back on Nepale Drive.

Our big news is the recent addition of our newest canine family member, Miss Georgia! She is a beautiful 7 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, a rescue who came to us when she was in need of a forever home. We had been thinking about adding to our little family.  It had been over a year since we lost our beloved Molly Eileen. And here was lovely Georgia, asking to live out her life with us. So, we asked Mia how she felt about it and she said “Oh, ok.”

So here she is. She is anxious to meet everyone, to sit on MMSC rehearsals, and to greet all of our friends when next they visit.

Next up for us? Deciding on the Fall Season for MMSC, the start of classes at SUNY New Paltz for Bob, and the start of a new job at Unison Arts Center for Chris. As for Mia and Georgia, they are starting on a new life as the Girls of Nepale. Come and see them sometime!

Posted in Dogs, General, New Paltz, Rhodesian Ridgebacks Tagged with: , , , , ,

Finding Our Way Back Home

In just a couple of hours, we depart for our trip back to New York. Tough to say good bye to family and friends and two weeks filled with great theatre, good food, and warm memories that will last for many months to come.

As Paul Simon would have us believe, “preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.” So, here is some final photographic documentation of our Ashland Visit in 2012, courtesy of the Chervenak family camera.

Thanks for the memories. Stay tuned. We’ll see you all on the other side of reality, back in New York.

Posted in Ashland, Crater Lake, Family, General, Reservoir Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Winding Down

reservoir14

As we wind down our 2012 visit to Ashland, Oregon, we are once again struck by the notion of Gateways (see Post #3) and the relative swiftness of the passage of time. The anticipation and planning that went into this two-week journey has been eclipsed by the speed with which the actual two weeks have passed. Time is certainly relative, right? How long is a three hour matinee of a play that really excites and moves you? (We are talking about the OSF production of All The Way.) Or how long is a one mile hike UPHILL to the reservoir on a day that the temps are predicted to reach 104? Or how long is the hike back down? How long is a toothache compared to a couple of hours of chatting with a good friend or playing with the cousins and/or granddaughters? How long is two weeks? Depends.

Here’s the activity run-down since our last post:

Thursday, August 9 – evening performance of The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa. An interesting adaptation of The Merry Wives of Windsor, set in Iowa and complete with gay marriage and Mitt Romney.

Friday, August 10: Some of us took the day and went to Crater Lake. (Photos to follow as soon as we can get them from Michael’s flashdrive.) Some of us stayed back in Ashland and attended the matinee of All The Way, probably the very best thing that we have seen at OSF this summer. A wonderful production of a new play by Robert Schenkkan. From the OSF description: “Right out of Shakespeare’s playbook – 1963. An assassin’s bullet catapults Lyndon Baines Johnson into the presidency. A Shakespearean figure of towering ambition and appetite, the charismatic, conflicted Texan hurls himself into Civil Rights legislation, throwing the country into turmoil. Alternately bullying and beguiling, he enacts major social programs, faces down opponents and wins the 1964 election in a landslide. But in faraway Vietnam, a troublesome conflict looms. In the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright’s vivid dramatization of LBJ’s first year in office, means versus ends plays out on a broad stage canvas as politicians and civil rights leaders plot strategy and wage war.” We loved everything about it.

Evening saw us in different places. Some still on the road back from Crater Lake and later at Zoey’s Cafe for ice cream. Some had dinner at DragonFly and then a movie. Some worked at OSF and some saw MMC for the second time – just to make sure that he saw all of the complexities.

Saturday, August 11 – A no theatre day – except for the boys (Noah and Josh) both of whom had to work. We climbed to the reservoir and got (some of) our feet wet in the cold waters there. Another great family dinner. Ice cream at Zoey’s. Drinks with my friend of many years, Michael Maag and the a short chat with Josh on the back deck. (He had stopped by our home-away-from-home on his way home from running an evening performance of Party People. That’s one of the pleasures of this trip – our place is right in town and people just drop by all the time.)

Today is our last day in Ashland and we are spending it in the theatres and with family. And then tomorrow morning (at some horrible hour) we will get on a plane, pass through another set of gateways, and find ourselves back in New York. But for today – there is still more time here in Ashland. We don’t plan to waste it.

OSF’s production of All The Way. Photo by Jenny Graham.

Posted in All The Way, Ashland, Crater Lake, General, OSF, Reservoir Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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