Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary Joel & Sabrina!

Here's a blog from 6 years ago!  WHAT?  That can't possibilty be right. 

Happy Anniversary Joel & Sabrina!

Jun. 30th, 2005

So Joel and Sabrina got married…again.

These fine people were married in Berlin last Christmas in front of many German speaking folk. And Sunday they were married in front of many English speaking folk. I can only imagine next year it will be done in pig Latin.

“I oh dey.”

I could attempt to recount the entire day, but when there is an open bar…well that ain’t going to happen. The wedding reception was at the Columbia Station in Phoenixville and took on a train theme. The bar had a luge cut like a train. A tube from the top dumped the alcohol out of the bottom, icing it along the way. It was supposed to be part of the Appletini station, but my winning smile and $20 turned it into a rather unsanitary shot glass. I have many, many pictures, but my favorite one is of the bride. If you can find something better then a foxy lady in a wedding dress doing a shot from a block of ice that has been transformed by a chainsaw in to a locomotive…well then buster, you’re a better man then I.

After the evening Julie and I headed home because she had to work the next day. I went back to casa de Rickenbach to help keep the festivities going. The night ended with some drunken Americans and some drunken Germans sitting around a table having a good time even if communication was a bit fuzzy.

When I was in high school I was extremely shy. My voice immediately started to change my first day during role.

Teacher: “Regan, Kevin?”

Me: “h ER e.”

I decided not to talk again until I was a sophomore. My father was even called into a teacher conference because of my lack of communication. He realized what this educator of pubescent teens couldn’t…I felt like a dick.

When I was a sophomore I auditioned for the musical Guys and Dolls. I was petrified at the idea of being on stage, but I wanted to be an actor so bad I overcame it. I had an okay singing voice (which has long since said, “See ya.”) but I hated hearing my speaking voice. I sat in a room where every fella read the part of Nathan Detroit against a gal reading Adelaide. The director, Terry Dillon, would keep ushering everyone along. 1 guy reads 1 doll reads. “Next.” So finally it got to me. I was nervous as hell and figured I’d botch it, but what the hell right? I was here what was the worst that could happen?

So I read against my Adelaide. When I finished I expected Terry to say, “Next.” And move on through life never talking again…but that’s not what happened.

“Thank you Jane. Kevin I’d like you to read again.”

I don’t really think her name was Jane. But I wasn’t sure what had happened. Did I not read loud enough? Maybe my mumbling voice had somehow gone unheard. Or maybe Terry couldn’t believe a male could sound so goofy. Whatever the case I read a second time.

“Thank you Jill. Kevin, stay a second longer.”

This was weird. Was this guy fucking with my delicate psyche? I started to think, “What if they actually like me. What if they want me to be Nathan Detroit. Hell I like Sky Masterson, but Nathan freakin’ rocks…it’s the closest thing in High School one can get to being Sinatra without killing someone.”

I thought I might be on the right track. That was my first problem. I thought.

On my third reading I completely blew it. I tried to do it without looking at the script and got flustered and lost. I had hoped to here “Thank you Tina, Kevin hang around a bit...want a drink or something?” but instead what I heard was a bubble popping, “Next.”

I was cast, but only as the proprietor of the “Hot Box.” Adelaide’s dancers worked for me, but her psychosomatic sneeze was caused by someone else.

At about this same time I had applied for a job at Suncoast. Yep, about 12 years ago. I went on the interview and waited to hear whether I got the job or not. The call came in one night and I found I in fact had acquired a job in retail…and I turned it down. I told the manager that I had been cast in my school play and wouldn’t have much free time to work.

“We’ll work around your schedule,” was his response.

Had someone told me this on the phone, that they wouldn’t have much free time I would have wished them well in life and hung up the phone. But instead I was going to work a part time job that would turn into a full time hell (mostly because of Kristen and Belinda).

So this shy kid who wouldn’t say peep to anyone was cast in a play and working retail. This would work out.

My brother Brain will tell you I was loud and obnoxious all of my life. And he’s partially right. I was completely at ease with my family and friends in the neighborhood, but the idea of talking to people in the real world scared me. I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about making friends. Jim McCabe was my friend because he got sent to the back of the room in first grade and I happened to be sitting there.

But somehow a combination of theater and retail opened me up. I can talk to anybody with little or no reservations. I cold call when we shoot our shorts. I cast Aimee Kerrigan in Anniversary after having her come off the street and read for the part. Sounds like more work on her behalf, but I just had an open audition in Jim’s living room.

I haven’t been at a loss for words in about 11 years…until Sunday.

At the wedding reception, Joel’s pop Jack introduced everyone into the room, “Now entering the room, Joel and Sabrina’s good friends Kevin and Julie Regan.” That sort of thing. He did a great job. But before announcing the wedding party and then of course the Bride and Groom, he said something that I would witness sitting around the table in his kitchen about 8 hours from then.

“As you’ll notice many people here speak German,” he started. “And I suspect many of you do not.” Hell Jack, as I proved in my toast, I barely speak English. “But a handshake, a friendly smile and a bit of sign language work wonders.”

As Joel and Sabrina were getting ready that morning I felt like a stranger. I nodded to people, but didn’t say much because I thought I’d embarrass them, or myself. I felt like I was a freshman in High School all over again. Sabrina’s parents are the sweetest people and all I could manage was a toothy grin like I was getting a yearbook picture taken.

Later that evening as Joel and I sat at the kitchen table I watched Jack communicate with his new in-laws (new as of last Christmas mind you) using English and charm. Sure the alcohol helped. It was a sight to see. Hell this guy was Nathan Detroit.

I find language amazing. To watch Sabrina go from English to German and back is mind blowing. She’ll also help her brothers and other family members with their English, but she won’t translate. Like a true teacher, she’ll point them in the right direction, but leave it up to them to actually get their message across…

…I leave you all with a picture that I hope the lovely bride doesn’t mind me sharing. It’s a picture of a charming, charismatic woman doing a shot of an appletini from a loge while wearing a wedding dress… Joel you got a great Doll.

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08:07 pm - Fireball

So after Joel and Sabrina tied the knot…again…we headed back to their abode in Hersey Mills…not the Old People’s part.

As I pulled up, the Nicks were lighting off bottle rockets. The Nicks are the couple Nick and Nickie. I pulled the Saturn up to see Nick running from a bottle which had a sparkling glare coming from it, then a rocket shot into the air and exploded. Awesome! And I almost didn’t come.

So we lit off every firework that was left and then stood around looking at each other.

I have never been there, but I know this group is big on bond fires. And Joel’s buddy Matt is notorious for using a flaming arrow to light the fire. He shoots it from across the yard and it lands in a pit filled with wood and kerosene. WHOOSH! You got fire.

On Sunday night we weren’t up for a bond fire…but we are stupid, so fire itself is always fun. So I picked up a baseball bat and turned to Matt.

“Hey, wanna play Fireball?”

Now Nick is not much of a sports enthusiast, but he was game. Joel, always up for a pick up game of baseball whether the ball is on fire or not, was in. And Matt, well he was bound to light something on fire so…

Matt took a glove, tennis ball and kerosene and went out to the mound. I picked up the bat. Matt lit the ball and threw it. I had problems hitting the ball because I’d step away to make sure I hit the ball straight up the middle instead of on to the roof of one of Joel’s neighbors…also I didn’t want to lose my eyebrows. In essence, Matt struck me out. So Nick came up next. This is when I started taking pictures.

Happily Nick too struck out. Had he hit a homerun I’d have felt like a dick. But then Joel came to the plate.

Julie, Joel and I used to go to the batting cages out on Rt. 202. One day when we were there, Joel stepped into the fast baseball cage. I’d do it once in a while when absolutely no one was around. If I hit a ball foul I’d consider it an accomplishment. Joel was tagging these fuckers. It looked like he was a major leaguer making millions of dollars, the exception was he was actually hitting the ball (get it? The Phillies suck - editors note, they did indeed suck at this time in of course they FUCKING ROCK!). As Joel is hitting the shit out of the ball I am standing behind him watching after I had been winded in the slow pitch little girl cage. Just then two big dudes walked up with their own bats. This is never good. The one was sporting a Union Jack tee shirt and they looked at Joel is awe. So I immediately started giving Joel some pointers. I figured these guys would think I too am a stud of a man. Not that I cared what other guys thought of my manhood, being into chicks and all. But I couldn’t help myself.

So Joel is a good hitter when it comes to baseball, but what happens when you light the fucker? Well not much difference. This is probably the greatest picture I’ve taken to this point in my life. Here’s what happens when you hit a tennis ball completely saturated in kerosene:

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saving Lupin @ The F Harold Festival

This week I have the fun (yet time consuming task) of filming EVERY act in the F. Harold Festival happening at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia.  We are in the black box on the fifth floor (not to be confused with Miss Saigon on the main stage).  One of the “rules” of WST is NO SINGING!  My guess is they are afraid that people will confuse us with the Broadway hit 5 floors below.

About 2 months ago Jim Burns (co creator of The League and possibly The Flo-be) & I formed an improv duo (by the way, I just added the word “improv” to my outlook dictionary).  We asked our friend Emily, who is an incredible improv’r, to be our coach.  Emily used to be part of our now defunct short form group, The Basement.  We went with the name “Saving Lupin” which refers to the cat Jim found dying on the streets of Wilmington.  Our friend Kerry, Julie & I took this little guy to an emergency vet hospital.  We named him Lupin because Kerry & I both were reading the 6th Potter book at the time.  3 years later, Lupin is healthy & strong, also the terror of our household.   

After a couple rehearsals Jim & I decided to put our name in for the F. Harold Festival F. Harold is an ALL Philly based comedy festival.  Stand up, sketch, short & long form improv created by the genius mind of one, Ricky Horner.  Jim & I kept rehearsing and seemed to get better and better, week after week. 

Last Sunday, Jim and I went to see some shows (along with Billy B & Sweet Julie) at Philly Improv Theater’s Duofest.  We saw two juggernauts in the Philly Improv world.  First “The Amie & Kristen Show” or “The Kristen & Amie Show” depending on who you ask.  Both are incredible artists.  So much so I almost find myself feeling star struck when I’m around them.  I usually say the most idiotic things in conversations to Kristen (“How about this weather, right?”). I assume she thinks I’m retarded, at least partially.  Then there’s Amie, who I don’t believe I have ever been able to say more than “Hey” to, which is weird because I sat across from her at a restaurant table after meeting Tina Fey (“can you pass the butter?”  “ummm…hey?” – she never did get that butter). 

The second group we saw at Duofest was “Horner & Davis.”  I am a huge fan.  Not just of the group, but also its players.  I was lucky enough to see them very early on in their incarnation.  They played a show at Connie’s Ric Rac and then we all went to one of the finest dining establishments in all of Philadelphia, Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar.  It was here that I got to know the great Rick (sometimes “Ricky”) Horner.  I have a photo of Rick lying on the ground outside of the bar’s front door.  A homeless dude walked by and said, “I wouldn’t lay there.  It’s pretty gross.”  Rick then took our entire party on a quest for cheap Philly soft pretzels from the Philly Pretzel Company.  Apparently, according to the lies Rick Horner tells, if you go to the Philly Pretzel Company and knock on the door, they will give you cheap pretzels.  We went.  We knocked.  I am still waiting for my pretzels Mr. Horner.

After their performance at Duofest, Rick asked me how the rehearsing was going for F. Harold.  I told him things were going really well…maybe too well.  I said I was actually hoping to have a bad rehearsal for fear that the “bad” would show up in the actual show.  Well that night, Jim & I had what I thought was a BAD rehearsal.  Jim had to do all the heavy lifting, because I was just weird & awkward (“ummm…hey?”).  Rather than be relieved as I joked I would be earlier to Rick, I was panicked.  FUCK!  “I am going to suck on stage and bring Jim down with me.”  This would be my thought process until 8:00 pm on Wednesday night when we stepped out into the spot lights.

So how were we?  I have no idea.  People laughed.  That’s good right?  We received some very nice compliments from people that we didn’t even know.  Also a potentially positive sign I would wager.  As we walked off stage, I was in a bit of a daze.  I wanted to get to my water bottle I left in the dressing room (and perhaps crawl into it).  I walk into the lobby and there was Kristen.  The heat index was 101 this day, so a perfectly timed awkward comment about the weather would probably have been appropriate.  “Oh hey,” I said as I continued to that water bottle.

Jim & I started dissecting the show when Emily popped in with Chex mix.  She convinced us to enjoy what we had just done.  We did.  And ate Chex mix.

I was a goddamn nervous wreck all week.  So why can’t I wait to get back on stage and so this again?

My thanks to Jim for embarking on this journey with me
My thanks to Emily for her Craig T. Nelson ways
My thanks to Rick for putting F. Harold together in the first place, and allowing us play
My thanks to Julie, Bosco, Ron, Dean, Traci, Bill, Cathy & Katie for coming out to watch us  
My thanks to Jana, Charles, Tom, Mark, Cara and the guy I never saw before in the red shirt for the nice compliments afterwards
My thanks to Jason for the text almost immediately after we stepped off stage
My thanks to Erick & AJ for the Facebook messages
My thanks to Kristen & Amie, for pretending to ignore the awkwardness

Keep an eye out for “Saving Lupin.”