From a Loyal Admirer

Aunt Pearl and Vera Carp

When Kim came home sometime last year and announced he was going to perform Tuna Does Vegas (written by Jason Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard) with his buddy, Jim, at the New Year’s Eve celebration, I sighed. Still reeling from the summer of ’09 and the agonizing task of helping Kim learn a multitude of English verbiage for My Fair Lady, I was not looking forward to that process again. Although, Henry Higgins did survive community theater and Kim lived to play another role on the American stage. In 2012 he was cast in our son Ryan’s directorial debut of Twelfth Night at the Baytown Little Theater (BLT). However, muddling through that swamp of Shakespearean language, Kim once again emerged triumphantly from the pages of old English he recited on stage. After Twelfth Night it was my hope that my talented husband would take a breather and let the younger actors tackle the pages and pages of memorization that one endures in a leading role. What was I thinking? Have I not learned a thing from the 42 years I have known that man?!  “Here we go again,” I thought as a cloud of angst seemed to slowly drift overhead.

The one redeeming factor about the Tuna Does Vegas script is that the English spoken is more of the American sort with a southern kick to the accent as opposed to the King’s English. I was confident that Kim could handle the characters’ different speech patterns. Our theater patrons would love watching he and Jim come out in the 18 different costumes and characters they would depict. Having a person like Jim on stage with you can work to your advantage when you are stuck for a line. Kim can ad lib pretty well until that magic word or phrase is delivered in character by Jim. Then, the line pops into his head and the scene moves on. Kim and Jim took on the many parts of Tuna and the play took shape.

By the end of the run, everyone was having fun. During one performance Kim, also known as Inita, was in a playful mood and began to dance around in character during a scene with Jim, aka Helen. Jim began to break character, Carol Burnett style and laugh. As Jim attempted to mask his urge to laugh at Kim’s antics, the audience responded with uproarious laughter.  When actors are comfortable in their role well enough to truly be that character onstage, it transmits to the audience and a whole aura of theatrical magic is cast. It was at that moment I thought, “this is great!”

Although, I approached this show with some dread, I have to admit working on Tuna was a lot of fun. Not long into Act One audience members began to forget it was Kim and Jim and enjoyed getting to know the citizens of fictional Tuna, TX. I was one of the seven dressers backstage stripping and redressing Kim pushing him back out on stage throughout the course of the play. Quick backstage changes can really get the adrenaline pumping be exciting fun. Our number one question as we prepared for the next costume change was, “boobs or no boobs?” When my team had fully dressed Kim as Bertha, Joe Bob, Inita, Shot, Elvis, Leonard, or Pearl and sent him back out on stage, we smiled at each other as we felt the thrill of theater. From radio announcers to waitresses, old women to Vegas showgirls, Kim and Jim hilariously brought down the house as they strutted their stuff across the BLT stage at every performance.

In the end I was glad that Kim chose to perform with Jim in this funny, silly play. They brought a lot of laughter and joy to our patrons. The men were great and I had a good time dressing and undressing my husband even if it was with two other women. Kim is a real artist. Learning lines may not come as easily for him as it once did, but he perseveres through the hard work and worry. Seeing it all come together on opening night makes all the labor worth it.

After Tuna closed, Kim alluded to finally stepping back from leading roles, passing those to younger actors with sharper memories. It has been my privilege and delight to assist my husband on several productions he has directed, as well as performing beside him onstage. Whether it be on or off stage, I will look forward to working with him again on another production. I’m proud of Kim’s ability to portray a wide range of characters over the last 40+ years. He is a talented person who can pass his theater knowledge on to the next generation of actors. Now, don’t misread my words here, he is not giving up the stage to observe from the wings. No, he will be on stage again, you can highlight my words. He has not given up the lights, greasepaint, and applause of live theater. Kim is merely taking fewer lines in future plays enjoying his part amongst the leading characters and perhaps directing more plays than performing in them.

As a Drama-wife I may not always play the part of the doting wife, but I hope Kim knows that I am a loyal admirer of what he does and for doing it so well. Good show, Kim!

Elivs #11

Elivs #11

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The Drama Never Stops

Kim, John & Travers in a scene from Twelfth Night

Just because I have not posted here since last February after the BLT’s production of A Chorus Line, does not mean we have not been busy on and off stage.  After Chorus Line closed, Kim began work with our son, Ryan on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Ryan, pictured in my previous Chorus Line post, chose the Shakespearean play as his first BLT directing project. Faced with a bit of a challenge, Ryan was not daunted and envisioned this tale of misconception set in 1920’s New Orleans during the celebration of Mardi Gras. The BLT production was a great success and the audiences left their theater experience more cultured and enlighten about the world of Shakespeare. Yours truly got involved in this production through heading up our box office volunteers, selling tickets.

Just as Kim was closing Twelfth Night, his students at Deer Park High School North along with some students from South Campus were preparing a production of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, which is a collage of short plays; 30 plays in 60 minutes. Immediately following the production closing, Kim traveled with the DP South Campus UIL students to State UIL competition in Austin, TX.  The UIL Region winners and their directors advanced to the state level where their One Act production of The Rimers of Eldritch took a respectful 4th place.

Kim & Mary Lou

Somewhere in between productions, Kim and I managed to attend the Texas Nonprofit Theaters (TNT) conference in Tyler, TX. It was fun to perform an original piece, Dream Date, with Kim for the conference. Kim was honored with the Ovation Award from TNT. The three day conference is always fun to attend and with it set in Tyler, the Rose capital of the state, made it a nice get away for both of us.

Award presented to Kim.

With summer in full swing, so is the Baytown Little Theater’s fund-raising campaign for the new building.  Kim continues to attend committee meetings with individual prospective donors, civic groups, and the hired fund-raising company who are advising the BLT building committee members.

Another BLT committee I am chairing this summer is in full swing reading scripts for the new 2013 season.  My task as committee chair is to lead a team to read, review and present a list of potential plays to the BLT board of directors.  I have really enjoyed reading the plays this summer and meeting with my committee to discuss the scripts we are reading. Although the turnaround for submitting our list has been short, fast and challenging, the dive into artistic script reading has been gratifying.

The next BLT production will be Urinetown, the Musical and the Martin in this production will be our son, Ryan Martin playing the role of Officer Lockstock. The production opens Friday, August 3 at the BLT and will run for three consecutive weekends closing August 19.  Up next opening August 24 in a sister community theater, Pasadena Little Theater, will be the musical production of Gypsy, starring our oldest son, Jason Martin in the male lead, Herbie and our grandchildren Regan and Aidan Martin as part of the children’s chorus. That production will close September 16 and school will have started again.

The new school year will bring another theater son, Kyle Martin, into a new teaching position in Abilene ISD. Kyle was very pleased to tell us that he will once again be teaching high school theater this year at Cooper High School.  Last year he was at Abilene High School where he monitored credit recovery in a computer lab. A pretty boring job for an active theater guy like Kyle. While he did participate in productions at the local community theater, Abilene Community Theater; it did not satisfy his artistic desire involving him in the excitement, stress and delight that is high school theater.

The Martins are ever on stage whether it is in community theater or high school theater. We enjoy live art and hope that many of you will also participate in some form of art this year whether as an active participate or a patron.  Your support, donations and enjoyment of the arts will ensure a future for The Arts.

A Chorus Line at the BLT

A Chorus Line

Ryan & Amy in finale costume

We watched the newest play at the Baytown Little Theater last night. Ryan plays, Zac, the director and Amy the dancer, Cassie, in A Chorus Line. The play opened last weekend, Feb. 17 and runs another weekend through Sunday, March 4, 2012.

I’m really proud of our kids and their performances.  It isn’t Broadway, but it is Hugh Echols Blvd in Baytown, TX.  Our community theater puts on quality shows for a friendly price at $15.00 per ticket.

I’d love to help you with tickets. Go online to baytown.littletheater.org or leave a message for tickets on 281-424-7617.  Tickets available for the last 5 performances remain.

How proud is this mom?  Very proud!!

The Return of The Buzz

Recently, I consented to once again write articles for our community theater’s newsletter, The Buzz. It wasn’t difficult coming up with articles about the awesome shows, exciting auditions and latest buzz about our new building.

Our theater is currently in the throes of a campaign to raise funds for a new theater in historic downtown Baytown. The property acquired and a sign proclaiming The Future Home of the Baytown Little Theater has even been erected on the corner of Texas and Main should you want to drive by for a look. The architect renderings are drawn up and the contractor hired. With the present economy like it is, some of our beloved backers are holding their money in their tight little fists until they are more comfortable to let go of it. Hopefully, the government can get their act together and balance the country’s budget for us soon. Until that happens, our executive board of directors faithfully continue to invite the arts-loving community of theater-goers to contribute any extra funding they have to our new venue. With that in mind, you are also invited to contribute to our growing capital by clicking this link . On the website, scroll past memberships (unless you’d like to join our merry band of actors) to the step 2. where you may donate to our building fund.

The Buzz is a collection of newsworthy articles about the Baytown Little Theater which might just show up in your mailbox in October. It is the hope of the news staff that most of our members will prefer reading the newsletter online and save some trees. However, to get the news-ball rolling again, this comeback issue will be sent to our entire mailing list. Yep, you read that correctly and yep, that’s a lot of licky-sticky envelopes to sort for bulk mailing. The envelope will be needed in order to enclose a free BLT brochure chock full of 2012 season information at no extra cost to our readers. That by Hamlet, is a great deal!

It will be especially exciting see the revamped Buzz with its brand-spanking new logo atop page 1 of the tabloid. Our theater held a contest earlier in the season for a new theater logo and a talented person named Amy K. Shipley won. Including prizes awarded to Ms Shipley, her artwork has already blazed the sides of BLT coffee mugs, travel mugs, decals and show posters. The new BLT 2012 season Playbill will likely display her creative talents on the covers, too!

Next up at the BLT is a detective spoof called, Three Murders and its Only Monday!, written by Houston playwright, Pat Cook and directed by charter member and theater veteran, Joy Woods.  Three murders? Wow! That’s more murders than Leroy Jethro Gibbs has to solve on Tuesday nights for NCIS. I wonder who done it? I guess we’ll all just have to wait until opening night, November 4th to find out. The play runs for three consecutive weekends through November 20th. Tickets will soon be for sell online at baytown.littletheater.org for $15.00 each. If you bring a group of at least 15 people, a free ticket will be included for an extra person to drive you all down to the theater. Sounds like a good time to me!

Well, I guess I should have given a spoiler alert at the start of this post, but you haven’t read all the great information in The Buzz.There’s a lot more coming to a mailbox of website near you. Be on the lookout and tell all your friends to watch out for The Buzz!

The BLT Sign

BLT sign at TX Ave. & N. Main St.

“The Lost Tribe” World Premiere

On Sunday, June 5, 2011, another  Baytown Little Theater (BLT) production closed during this 50th Anniversary Season.  Kim,  director, our son, Ryan, assistant director and yours truly “production secretary”, (Definition: costumes, props, coffee maker,budget keeper & general flunky) were satisfied with the outcome of this world premiere production.

The Lost Tribe centered around two elderly Holocaust survivors and the one who came into the aging barber’s shop one day resurrecting feelings of revenge in the barber’s wife. New playwright, Jeff Stolzer, from the “Big Apple”, wrote his first play project as an assignment for a playwriting class several years ago. Noting difficulty getting his play on stage, Stozler chose to enter his script in the Texas Non-profit Theatre (TNT) POPS festival for new playwrights where his play earned the opportunity to be produced by one of its member community theaters. The BLT added The Lost Tribe to its regular six-play season for 2010-2011.

Delighted that Jeff decided to fly down from New York for the play’s premiere, May 20, 2011 at the BLT; the usual champagne reception was particularly festive. The TNT association was well represented by its director, Linda Lee, and other TNT members. With anxious anticipation, the show opened to a moderate crowd of regular patrons along with a handful of new faces.  As curtain came down on opening night, we sensed an acceptance of the play and the message to remember the atrocious events of the Holocaust.

Jeff Stolzer joined our cast and crew afterwards at the opening night cast/crew party.  Pleased by what he had seen on stage that evening,  Stolzer said it was “just like he had imagined it in his head.”  His comments made us feel that the play was a success.

As Kim and I relax back into our summer routine, we are happy it does not include the theater’s summer musical.  However, we will do our part to help with box office work, house managing and other peripheral production tasks.

Next up at the BLT: Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd

PRODUCTION DATES
July 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31, 2011

Spring Theater

(Pictured: Ryan Martin & Julie Bailey) February was the month our daughter in law, Amy, made her directing debut at the Baytown Little Theater. She and her co-director, Sam Estrada, put together a very talented cast and designed a beautifully authentic country kitchen on stage. As the run progressed so did the audiences. Word got out about the show at the BLT and more people were reserving seats to see, Crimes of the Heart. Our son, Ryan, played the neighbor, Doc. In the picture shown here, Doc is has just told Lenny (Julie Bailey) that her old horse has died. The whole cast & crew of Crimes of the Heart were awesome. We thoroughly enjoyed the performances of everyone on stage. If you missed the show, surely it was because you lived too far away. Good show, Amy & Sam!

It is spring in the theater and the Martins are busy on and off stage. For three days in March, Kim and I joined other community theater enthusiast at the Texas Non-profit Theater conference in Ft. Worth. The BLT cast of Rabbit Hole took a one-act cutting of their show to compete with nine other community theaters from across Texas. The theaters were competing for one of two places advancing to Regional in Lewisville, Texas in April. While our cast did not get one of those positions, they did earn 2nd alternate. We couldn’t have been prouder of our Baytown Little Theater friends and their hard work.  In addition to watching 10 one-act plays in 3 days, we attended two mornings of discussions on the artistic insight of the actor and director.  Two of the three judges for the play competition joined the discussions led by Kim.  There was much sharing of ideas and learning that came out of several leading questions and potential answers.

The first weekend in April, Kim will audition actors for an original play he will direct entitled, The Lost Tribe. The play concerns survivors of the Holocaust who made a new life in America. Kim will be assisted on this directing venture by our son, Ryan. The play will open May 20 and run through June 5.

In the meantime, I am on the theater play-reading committee to read and compile a list of plays from which prospective directors will choose to direct in next BLT season. Also, Kim is working with the building committee as they plan for our new theater to be built this year. All of our BLT community anxiously await groundbreaking at the corner of Texas Avenue and Main Street soon.

The Martins continue to be involved with the BLT.  Keep watch on the BLT website for upcoming productions and activities for your pleasure this spring.

“Pippin” the Next Generation

When our son, Ryan, performed in the Stephen Schwartz musical, Pippin, at the Baytown Little Theater last year, it brought back a flood of memories.  In 1984, Kim directed Pippin at the BLT. Reluctantly, he was forced to step into the role of Pippin (a story I’ll recount later in this post) before the show closed. Our son, Jason, played the young son, Theo, and Kim’s sister, Ferryn, played the part of Catherine. Kyle had the small part of young Pippin in the opening scene. Kim invited me into the show late to sing with a trio of women needed for one scene. The Martins often use family members to pad their casts and work their crews; a fun act I have grown to embrace.

Sadly, Kim’s 1984 BLT production of Pippin would turn tragic before the show closed.  Our actor playing the part of Pippin became violently ill after the first weekend, hospitalized and eventually passed away.  It was a dramatic, sad and very dark time in our theater’s history. The young man was such a talented actor, we all wondered what might have been if he had survived to act again. We lament his death and remember Billy each time we see a production of Pippin.

Years removed from that tragic ending of 1984, Baytown’s Lee College produced Pippin in 1993. Almost a decade after the BLT’s production, Kim’s interest revived, his love for Schwartz’s musical enticed him to audition. He was cast as Charles the king, Pippin’s father. He enjoyed the supporting role and the change in venue in which to perform a more mature role than Kim had played in shows of his past.

Fast forward to 2010 and it was not without some nostalgia that we attended a revival of Pippin at the BLT. This time our son, Ryan (only 3 years old in 1984), would now step into the role of Pippin. As the show progressed, we watched with pride as our son sang, danced and became the Pippin of this generation. We couldn’t help but smile and even sing a little under our breath as we observed our very talented son perform the same role his father almost two decades before. To add to the evening’s entertainment, in this production, Amy, Ryan’s wife, portrayed the role of Fastrada, Pippin’s step-mother.  Though a Martin by marriage, Amy is extremely talented in her own right. Her Fastrada was sexy, intriguing as she regaled the audience with her performance.

Then, just a few months later, in the first month of 2011, under our son,  Kyle’s direction produced the same musical, at the high school where he teaches theater arts. Once again a Martin is involved in a production of Pippin, this time played by high school aged students.  Kyle would tone down the erotic dance sequence portraying a disturbed Pippin frolic with women in order to “find” himself. Kyle also cut the bedroom scene between Pippin and Catherine leaving what they did behind closed doors to the audience imaginations. Kyle executed a tasteful cut for that age group, producing a more youth-friendly production of Pippin which in no way detracted from the experience and message of Pippin’s story. With immense joy and pride both Kim and I watched the product of our son’s ambitions unfold on that stage.

Four very different productions of the musical Pippin, directed and performed by different Martin family members, has elevated this show to a cherished place in my heart. Wouldn’t it be something if one day in the future, we could attend yet another showing of Pippin staring, directed or produced by Aidan, Regan or Olivia Martin making it a third generation show?  How cool would that be!