For the fourth straight year, Disneyland stayed open 24 hours this weekend when park guests could enjoy the park from 6am Friday morning through 6am Saturday morning. The first time they did it at Disneyland this was in 2012 on Leap Year Day. They called it “One More Disney Day” and I blogged about my experience being there during the last six hours of it. The next year, they did it again, this time holding it on Memorial Day weekend and adding sister park Disney California Adventure to the festivities. Cross-marketing it with that year’s Disney-Pixar sequel “Monsters University”, it was promoted as a kick off to a "Monstrous Summer" (my blog). Since then, they’ve continued to schedule it every year on Memorial Day weekend, with “Rock Your Disney Side” in 2014 and yesterday’s “Diamond Celebration.”.
I've been to Disneyland every time they held it. The first time three times, I’d wake up whenever I did and arrive later in the day or evening, just so I could honestly say “I was there”. But yesterday I was there for the entire 24 hours, from before the start through to the very end. I posted to Instagram and Twitter throughout the day. Here’s a lengthy recap, expanding on what I shared in those earlier posts.
HOW IT BEGAN
First off, I’d never been to any of the previous 24-hour events when they started right at 6am. That would mean having to wake up in the dark to join a line of fans who’d started the line the day before. That didn't really sound appealing. I like sleeping in too much. But this year, I decided I’d make the effort to be at the start, just to experience something different about going to one more Disneyland 24-hour event.
I’d gotten three and a half hours of sleep when my alarm went off at 2:30am. From following the Disney Parks Blog, I knew the Pumbaa Lot was open at that time and that the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure would open at 4am. By the time I was finally out the door, I realized I'd just park as I normally do, in the parking structure, and head to the park my regular way rather than figure out navigating some new way to learn how to get there from Pumbaa. Less stress and drama I figured.
When I got to Disneyland Drive from the southbound I-5, it was 3:50am, and I was surprised to find the ramp to take you directly into the parking structure was still closed. I continued to the stop light at Ball Road and found the entrance ahead from Disneyland Drive to the parking structure was also still closed and now, cars were lined up there waiting for it to open. As a matter of fact, when the light turned green for me to cross Ball, I couldn’t. The line of cars waiting to enter the parking structure had reached Ball, so unless I wanted to block the intersection like one of those annoyingly self-centered, arrogant drivers, I was stuck. Fortunately, Disney opened the ramp by 3:55am and the line started to move. I crossed the intersection, got through the pay booths, and parked in the Pinocchio lot within ten minutes.
I got a text earlier in the morning from a friend to let me know she was already in line near Harbor Boulevard and that I could join her when I got there. I texted her updates from the time I parked to when I was on the tram to passing through security and arriving in the Esplanade plaza between Disneyland and DCA, thinking I was grateful to have a much shorter wait in that god awful long line that had started since the day before.
Crossing the esplanade, I saw to my right folks waiting and lined up in front of the DCA main entrance. To my left I noticed a plain courtyard with no lines but cast members stationed at most of the turnstiles of the Disneyland Main Entrance. I then noticed a trickle of guests entering the esplanade from the Harbor Blvd. side towards the closest turnstile to them. It was then that I noticed that there were people milling around inside the main entrance who weren’t cast members. It was around 4:15am so my brain wasn’t quite clicking on all cylinders yet and didn’t immediately figure out what all I was seeing, because I knew my friend had been in line since midnight waiting to enter the park at 6am with thousands of others in the line. And I was supposed to join her. But I also realized there were people already inside the park. And that those cast members at the turnstiles seemed really, really lonely.
In my rush to loyally join my friend in line, I decided to hold up and turn left towards the Disneyland entrance. Approaching the nearest turnstile, I pulled out my wallet and decided I’d hand my cast member my annual pass when I got there to see what would happen. What happened was at 4:20am, I entered Disneyland. And I didn’t have to get there any earlier than I had to and lose any more sleep to wait in a long line overnight in order to simply walk in when I arrived.
After my friend cursed at me by text when I told her what had just happened, I took a selfie with the clock on the Main Street Train Station behind me, posted it to Instagram as a way to tell my unsuspecting friends and followers “Good morning from Disneyland”, and then headed onto Main Street, USA where I found hundreds of guests already there. There was a long line for the Emporium where folks told me it was so they’d have first dibs to buy collectible 60th anniversary merchandise, and the rest of the people had bottlenecked themselves on the Main Street, USA straightaway, the hub area naturally stopped because the rest of the park wasn’t open yet. An emcee somewhere at the hub area could be heard over the area speakers deejaying music (Toni Basil’s “Mickey” was among the songs played) to keep the crowd pumped and excited while waiting for the official opening at 6am into the rest of the park.
My friend and her friends joined me in that crowd only about twenty minutes later, and together we strategized what we’d do as soon as the park opened. My only significant goal of the day was to snag myself one of the limited edition Disneyland 60th Anniversary commemorative Star Wars figures, R2-D60, from the Star Trader store in Tomorrowland. My friends? They wanted to find a restroom without a long line. So our plan was made. We’d go together to Tomorrowland, but I'd split off to get in the anticipated long line at the store while they continuing on to the restrooms back by Autopia. Then, we’d meet up whenever I’d (hopefully) get my hands on my action figure.
After a countdown to 5:55am (yeah, five minutes early), the park was officially open. By the time I got my R2-D60 figure, I was waiting for them at one of the tables at Tomorrowland Terrace when they got out of the restrooms. Ha! There was no line at the Star Trader; it definitely paid for me to get there early. Thus the rest of my day was cake! A great start to a pretty fun and rather drama-free day at the 2015 Disneyland Diamond Celebration event.
OBSERVATIONS FROM MY FIRST 12 HOURS AT DISNEYLAND
From where we were at Tomorrowland Terrace, we thought the line for the Matterhorn Bobsleds was short and moving pretty fast. It was the attraction’s first day of public operation since closing for a few months to receive some enhancements. So we decided that would be the first ride we’d do there. We went in search of the end of the line. We discovered it was at it’s a small world. Nope, Matterhorn Bobsleds would not be our first ride of the day.
I’d stopped by Carl’s Jr. on the way to Disneyland that morning where I was disappointed to learn that breakfast menu items weren’t served until 6am. So it was a Famous Star combo for breakfast for me earlier, while I just kept my friends company as they enjoyed their breakfast at Tomorrowland Terrace. It was a good decision on their part to have breakfast now. When they ordered breakfast, the lines were short. Over the next few hours walking throughout the park, we noticed uncommonly long lines were commonplace today for any place that sold new merchandise and food.
Popcorn stands had long lines because debuting this week were new popcorn buckets shaped as Mickey Mouse head-shaped balloons, gold-filled mine train chests, and Han Solo in carbonite. New plastic Disneyland steins also debuted, at Edelweiss Snacks and Village Haus that we'd heard. Never mind that these were not limited edition items and would continue to be sold after today. Fans and collectors wanted them today, including pathetically me as I joined my fellow Disneyland annual passholder friends in line to have our own new Disneyland stein.
And besides being a place to have breakfast, restaurants also offered new food items just for the day. The most surprising line was found at the Jolly Holiday Bakery which extended all the way to the entrance of the Enchanted Tiki Room! We’re guessing part of the reason for that were the new Disneyland 60th commemorative cupcakes only available during the 24-hour event, while supplies lasted.
For the next several hours traveling throughout most of the park, we never really encountered major crowding. We did notice the crowds grow as the day progressed, but even by 3pm, it was bustling but not as bad as we regular park visitors had seen it on other days where it could be shoulder-to-shoulder over the summer or the holidays. It was around that time that a friend I’d planned to meet later that day texted me to let me know she was on the road and on her way. She was taking her son and his friends to DCA for the day but hadn’t gotten their tickets yet. Coincidentally I’d also learned then from inside the park that Disneyland had already closed their entrance because it had reached capacity. This was expected, as it had happened every other time they’d held a 24-hour event. But this year's closing happened earlier than ever that I could recall.
To make sure my friend’s drive there wouldn't turn out to be a mistake, I checked with several cast members on how busy DCA was and if tickets were still sold for that park. At that time, I really couldn’t get a confident answer, so I went to Disneyland’s entrance to look through the gates and see what was happening in the esplanade plaza. Ropes were set up around the entrance to Disneyland, with cast members and security (with dogs) stationed around them to keep park guests away from approaching the turnstiles. Disneyland was closed and no one appeared to be allowed to come in. Meanwhile, the lines into DCA were pretty long. Obviously folks coming in at that time had no other choice of park to enter but that one when they got there. It was between 4:00 and 4:30 when I heard a cast member tell another cast member I was questioning that “DCA never reaches level 1”, which from the tone suggested I shouldn’t worry about DCA ever closing today because of crowds or reaching capacity.
Boy, was that guy wrong.
OBSERVATIONS FROM MY LAST 12 HOURS AT DISNEYLAND. ACTUALLY AT DCA
A consequence I always encounter when I’m at the park and it’s reached capacity is that the cellphone signal sucks. So getting texts and phone calls from my friend who was on her way were intermittent or static-y. When I finally got texts and was able to figure out she’d actually gotten to park and was on her way to getting in line to buy their tickets, the lines into DCA were much shorter while Disneyland was finally letting guests who’d already been in the park re-enter, with a long line of first-timers to the resort waiting outside the esplanade for their chance whenever it came. (I think I'd learned later on that Disneyland didn't open for those folks until some time around midnight.)
I met my new arrival friends near the Tower of Terror around 4:30p which coincidentally meant I’d been on Disneyland property for over 12 hours by then. We watched the Pixar Play Parade before heading to get bread bowls for dinner at Pacific Wharf.
My original plan for the day was to leave the parks that evening to join another friend for drinks in Culver City. And I hadn’t seriously considered the option available to me of returning to the parks afterward and be back inside the parks before they closed at 6am Saturday morning. I’d already experienced being in the parks - well, in Disneyland - on past 24-hour events when it ended. So today’s unique experience to be there at opening had been accomplished. There was nothing else on my checklist for the day to check off.
But long story short, I promised my friend at DCA that I would return later to the parks from Culver City to keep her company. They also hadn't planned to stay through to 6am, so their driver (it wasn't my friend) wasn't able to commit to staying that long either. So my promise to return was also a guarantee to be their ride too just in case. I subsequently received texts from my other friend and her plans weren’t working out as she had planned either. And our plans to get together consequently diminished.
Little did I realize that starting my day at Disneyland would lead to spending my entire day there – all 24 hours of it, and then some - after all.
After dinner, my friend and I exited the park to the Grand Californian Hotel while her son and his friends enjoyed DCA on their own. My friend wanted to hang out at the hotel to discretely “rest up” there for an hour or two in preparation for potentially staying through to 6am. So I left her there and returned to DCA to do some exploring on my own. I’d never been to DCA at all on my previous 24-hour visits, so this was the perfect opportunity to see what it was like at this park.
It was around 7:30pm and I texted to see if my other friends were still inside Disneyland. They were and Disneyland was still closed to new guests. Shortly after texting them, they texted back saying they’d heard that now DCA was closed. I had just re-entered DCA so I was originally skeptical when I heard that. I decide to walk to DCA’s main entrance and check it out for myself. At 8pm, DCA was still letting guests in. But at 9:30pm, I got a text from my friend at the Grand Cal saying she wasn’t allowed re-entry into the park.
DCA had reached capacity. For the first time that I had ever heard of. Wow. And now, both parks were closed off during operating hours for the first time too.
My midnight, she was finally allowed to re-enter. It was at that time that I realized how crowded the park had suddenly gotten. I went back to the main entrance and saw they were finally letting people in. Pour in actually! So I texted my friend at the Grand Cal about it, and she was allowed back into DCA shortly thereafter.
I was in line at Award Wieners when I found out she was back inside. Just as it was at Disneyland earlier, the lines for food in DCA were long all evening too, and it took me twenty minutes in my line to reach the counter and order “The Insomniac”, a bacon, egg and sausage dog crafted just for tonight. I took it and a cup of black coffee (one of four cups I used that morning to help me stay awake) with me to Corn Dog Castle where I found my friend in an even longer line to buy herself a corn dog.
It was almost 2am when we both finished our midnight snacks. We planned to hit some rides before viewing the 3am World of Color – Celebrate! water show, another attraction making its public debut today. The new fireworks show Disneyland Forever was the third new show, and it was debuting in Disneyland. But on our way to Cars Land, I checked with a cast member about line up for World of Color and he informed me that Fastpasses were needed. When I checked earlier, the World of Color Fastpass machines were down for the evening, so I assumed the first and final show of the night would just be completely standby. But he told me Fastpasses were all dispensed that morning. Wow!
He pointed out where the non-Fastpass holder sections were, and we decided to skip Radiator Springs Racers (which closed at 3am that night, so seeing World of Color meant sacrificing doing that ride) and instead squated for an hour in front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure to see the new show.
The show is wonderful!!! I’ve seen past versions of World of Color, which seemed to me like a lot of individual vignettes showcasing a Disney movie or Disney theme and stringing them one right after another. This time it seems they took what they’ve learned technically to produce the magic here, added some more technical magic, and crafted a story and experience that flowed organically from one to the next using the effects available to them. The show was also more nuanced and restrained from past shows, not always having each part of the story ending with a dramatic, earth-shattering crescendo. My friend and I both loved it!
It was around 3:30am by now and I’d like to make one comment about the weather for the day. In my haste to join my friend in line the morning before, I forgot to grab my light jacket from my car. As it turned out, I didn’t need it (much). The weather the entire time was in the mid 50’s to mid 60s, often cloudy, briefly sunny at times, but for the most part never cold enough that I “needed” to buy a sweatshirt or jacket from the park in order to survive the overnight comfortably. (Sorry, Disney.)
Sitting on concrete before the World of Color – Celebrate! show for twenty minutes and deciding to stand for another forty took its toll on our aging bodies, so after the show we rested for a while at Paradise Gardens. We didn’t leave there until 4:30a, deciding all that remained on our checklist for the night was a ride on Soarin’, a visit to Ghirardelli, and a stop in a shop on Buena Vista Street for some final shopping.
Ah, the best laid plans. The wait time for Soarin’ was one hour. Pass. And walking to Soarin’ meant we’d walked ourselves way too far to enjoy the walk all the way back to where Ghirardelli was at the Pacific Wharf area. Pass number two. Instead with just another hour left in our day (and thoughts of going to bed becoming a prized idea), we spent the rest of our time at Buena Vista Street, where we’d be close to the exit when it was time to leave.
THE HAPPY ENDING
Sitting at a table outside the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café, where it wasn’t very crowded at all, we watched the morning sky behind the Carthay Circle Restaurant slowly then dramatically change from a dark grey to a beautiful morning blue obscured by white clouds.
At nearly 6am, Chip ‘n’ Dale arrived on the scene, dressed in their PJs, at the water fountain escorted by a cast member. In previous years, I’d witnessed how Disneyland ended their 24-hour day by bringing out Mickey and his friends at Main Street Train Station wearing their pajamas too to wave us all goodbye as we left the park. So this pair’s arrival in the same fashion was no less thrilling, to me and the crowds in the area. Them waving goodbye at us from a short distance (a low planter and the cast member escort kept us from walking right up to them) dramatically signaled the end of the event.
Not only that, but after a brief, recorded announcement played right at 6am congratulating us for making it to that point, whoops and hollers and cheers erupted from the guests all there! Then, we discovered a line of DCA’s cast members, most wearing various versions of Mickey gloves, standing near the exit waiting to high five us on our way out. My friend and I immediately joined the line of other guests that formed, and we each high fived every cast member there as we passed them, a really fun and for this smaller park with less employees there, more intimate conclusion to reaching the end of my full day at the resort.
I had a really good time! And I benefited greatly by having two sets of friends to share the time with, over two different "shifts", to keep it fun and always interesting. Thanks to Jessica, Kathy, Wayne, Scott, Celia, Kyle, Alex, Melissa and Helena.
I think I may actually try to do all 24 hours again if Disneyland tries this again next year!
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed this.
I've been involved in community theatre as an actor, producer, prop maker and graphic artist for several years. And every time I'm invited to join the cast of a play, it's not just another chance to act and perform for audiences. It's also another opportunity to exercise my designer muscles and do something clever, creative, and crafty for my new castmates and crew for opening night.
Sometimes, I fail. An idea that wows me just doesn't come to mind or what does can't be executed in time for opening night (I always blame those pesky rehearsals getting in the way). So sometimes, I come up with nothing to give the cast when we open a show. On those occasions, I hope that in the weeks while the show's up and running, I'll get an idea and use the time to have something clever and personalized done to hand out by closing night.
I'm in a show now, The Curious Savage. We opened two weeks ago, and this time, I had something for the cast and crew on opening night.
In the show, I play a doctor, Dr. Emmett. Brainstorming ideas for what gifts I could do, I came up with "medical bag"..."stethoscope"..."prescriptions". Prescriptions seemed like a no-brainer, a sheet of paper designed like a prescription slip that I could write a message on, like "Here's your prescription for a great show - Break a leg!" from the doctor. They'd be way easy to do too. Design it, print it, stuff it in an envelope - done!
Then, I figured it was TOO easy and wondered if there was something else I could do to plus them out a little bit and make them more memorable. That's when medical file folders popped into my brain. Why not make each person's card their patient file folder?
Next step? I visited my local JoAnn store (I like Michaels too, but it's farther away from my place, and like Michaels, I still used an online coupon to get a discount) and found a stationery set with cards that are the right color and texture as file folders. It'd be easy to trim them down to look like mini file folders. Add a label with the "patient's name" on each of them, tack the prescription on the inside, and we're done. Time to get started.
Buying enough for the cast and crew, my first task was to create a trimming template of a file folder shape that I could lay over the cards and transfer lines onto them in order to cut them out perfectly and fairly consistently. Drawing the template in Adobe Illustrator was easy. Then, I made printouts and scribbled dark pencil lead across the backs of the printouts, only in the areas where the lines were that I needed for cutting. I then layed a sheet, pencil lead side down, on each card and then drew over the printed lines using a burnisher stylus to transfer the lead onto the cards. Old school trick, easy peasy!
Once I transferred the lines to the number of cards I needed, I trimmed them and they looked awesome! Next, I pulled out a pack of Avery file folder labels I already had, opened a template and typed out labels for every patient - I mean, cast and crew member - and printed them out to put onto the mini folders. The label size I had was twice as tall as I needed, so I had to do some additional trimming to each label to look proportionally correct on these 5" x 7" cards/file folders.
For the prescription slips, I designed very simple stationery for my character Dr. Emmett, including the name of the facility he operates in the play - The Cloisters - at the top and a quote from Lord Byron he (I) recites in the show at the bottom. I did them four to a page. After printing them out, I cut them apart and then hand-wrote my "prescriptions," or personal messages, on them personalizing each one.
So I had all my elements figured out. But then I thought only having one sheet of paper inside each file folder seemed chintzy and lame. There should be a few more sheets inside each patient's record, to add some life to this mini prop. What would be appropriate "medical records" of the cast and crew of a play?
I scanned several pages from my script and scaled them down and printed enough to include a couple more pages per folder. Having some spare sheets of colored paper, I printed script pages in different colors. As luck would have it, I have scenes with everyone in the cast. So I made sure I had at least one script page of a scene we had together in each actor's folder. That way their files would actually have information relevant to their character and of us working together on stage. My script is a working script, so my pages are filled with blocking and acting notes all over them written in during rehearsals. Rather than erase them, I left all those scribbles in.
Finally, I had to come up with a way to permanently attach the medical records into the folders. Rather than simply stapling them in, I reused the scrap pieces I'd trimmed from the cards, colored half of them black with a Sharpie, and turned them into an accent piece that would conceal the staples holding the papers together. Then, I glued the stapled assembly onto the folders.
Design-wise and assembly-wise, I was pretty much done. But for one final touch, I decided to add a date to the cards, putting our opening night date to the bottom of the theatre's promotional art and printing them out onto label paper, trimming them apart, and sticking one onto the backs of each card.
Taking my time, it took a couple of days to get these all designed, printed, cut, stapled, glued and assembled. They're not as elaborate as ones I've done for past shows. But every show is different. And getting a distinct medical file from "your doctor" seems pretty on-the-mark. (Here is when Frank modestly pats himself on the back.)
In the middle of making these, it also dawned on me that every patient should also get a lollipop! Duh again. Ironically, of all the things I had to do to get everything done, finding slim lollipops like you'd get at the doctor's office that could fit inside the folders before putting them into their envelopes took more time to complete than any other step of this project! I traveled all over town, hitting several stores I thought would have them, passing over piles and piles of bags of Charms Blow Pops and Tootsie Roll Pops before finally finding the lollipops I needed.
I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out, and it was nice to see and hear the reactions from the cast as they opened their cards.
Now what the hell am I gonna do for closing night?!
I play "Dr. Emmett" amongst the very talented cast in The Curious Savage now playing at Torrance Theatre Company.
Back in January as I was reading the script before auditions, I immediately found the story charming and originally considered not auditioning. I wanted to see this as an audience member! I auditioned anyway, primarily for the chance to briefly exercise those acting and auditioning muscles.
Then, I was invited to join the cast. Oh, well.
But I'm not complaining. Joining the cast of The Curious Savage was like reunion time, like lotta of these shows tend to be when you do more and more of them. One of the very great things about doing community theatre!
Amanda Webb, Gary Kresca, Jennifer Lough Faneuff and I had recently performed together in TTC's season opener Run For Your Wife, and now we were back together again in The Curious Savage. I last worked with Daryl Hogue France on stage many years ago, and now we get to play in scenes opposite each other with her as in the title role of Mrs. Savage. I also have a scene with Diana Mann, another long-time friend in theatre and in Relay for Life fundraisers. She is also costume designer for many South Bay theatres, and for our show, we're lucky that she's wearing two hats instead of just one. And the show is directed by Mark Torreso. Mark cast me two years ago in the musical Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, and I had a fun time in the role. With the more meaningful material present in this script, being directed by him this time was a lot like going to acting class again. I knew I'd enjoy working with him again; I never expected to learn so much about the craft as I did from him on this show.
There were, of course, new actors I got to work with too. I've seen Chris Mock in a number TTC shows and was always entertained by his work, while Frank McCay, Charlotte Williams, Justine DeAngelo, and Iyan Evans had never done a show at the theatre. But over the course of our six weeks of rehearsals together, the entire cast bonded so well together. Entering "hell week" (the final week of rehearsals leading into opening night), we realized Mark could not have cast a more perfect ensemble of actors so well-suited to each of our roles.
We opened Saturday evening March 14. Under Mark's direction, I've rarely ever felt as well-prepared for opening night as I - and I think the rest of the cast too - felt as we did that night. We sailed confidently through the show, with an audience that gave us all the laughs and the tears where the story asked for them. It was a great opening show. We had a reviewer in the audience, and she gave us a glowing review!
We just started our second weekend of shows this weekend, with audience continuing to enjoy our work. We'll be performing for three more weekends, hopping over Easter weekend when we'll be dark, to close on Sunday April 19. I hope you can join us!
Tickets are $25. Information to buy tickets are on TTC's website and TTC's Facebook page. Photo collages taken from my Instagram account using publicity shots from the photo gallery on TTC's The Curious Savage Facebook photo album.
To any friends who were wondering, to the left is the freebie APs got as we left the Wednesdays with Walt presentation yesterday at the Main Street Opera House in Disneyland. Are these Rice Krispies treats leftover from Mickey's Halloween Party?
When I first learned about the Wednesdays with Walt series happening at Disneyland, I was very eager to check them out. Scheduled to run weekly through July, the series would offer Annual Passholders an exclusive opportunity to “...get a unique glimpse into the creative genius of Walt while enjoying highlights from the ‘Disneyland’ Television Series.”
The series announcement coincides with the 60th anniversary of the debut of Walt Disney's "Disneyland" television series. In the subsequent nine months of the first episode's telecast, Walt would use the series to update his viewing audience of what they would expect to experience inside his park once Disneyland opened. From the description of the Wednesday with Walt series, it sounds like Disney wants to somewhat emulate the experience by presenting The Walt Disney Company milestones supplemented with footage from Walt's TV series. I couldn't make it
to the first week's presentation, but this week I was there. And here's what I experienced.
Arriving at the Main Street Opera House around 1:30p, I found a podium there surrounded by cast members. I requested to attend the 5pm screening, and they scanned my pass before putting an orange wristband on me. There were different colors for the other two show times. The CMs recommended I arrive about twenty minutes before 5 for check-in. On the sign nearby, I noticed the evening's theme was the Mickey Mouse shorts.
My friends and I returned to Main Street Town Center just before 4p and enjoyed the Flag Lowering Ceremony at 4:15p. After that ended, we noticed a line had formed outside the Opera House, so we joined it. We were let in at 5p, with CMs checking wristbands and passes (but not scanning them). Once inside, we crowded outside the closed theatre for a little bit before they finally opened the doors for us to take our seats. It was a fairly full house for this showing.
The first ten minutes of the presentation itself was the most interesting. The Senior VP of Character Voices Rick Dempsey came out and essentially did a PowerPoint presentation of the four actors who have officially voiced Mickey Mouse. Beginning, of course, with Walt Disney, we were treated to some very entertaining archival video of Walt recording his lines for the short, "Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip". Walt's footage was then showed picture-in-picture style with footage from the Mickey short. It was fun and the audience enjoyed it! After that, archival video was shown of Jimmy MacDonald (Mickey Mouse #2) and Wayne Allwine (Mickey Mouse #3) each discussing how they subsequently got the job of voicing Mickey. It ended with the current voice of Mickey, Bret Iwan, stepping onto the stage, describing how he auditioned for the part and then taking a few questions from the audience. That concluded the presentation but we weren't asked to leave. Bret, in Mickey's voice, formally concluded the presentation and introduced the start of the shorts. The cartoons that were screened were:
Steamboat Willie (1928)
Mickey’s Trailer (1938)
The Band Concert (1935)
Clock Cleaners (1937)
The Brave Little Tailor (1938)
While these shorts played, there was a fairly steady stream of guests who sidled down the rows in the darkened theatre to leave. They'd seen what they wanted to see of the presentation already and of course, could see these all online (click the links above) or on DVD. While I enjoyed them, I will say it was kind of annoying not knowing when they would the last one was over, since nothing was provided to let us know which or how many shorts would be screened. Sitting in that opera house is comfy but my eyelids always tend to get heavy if I'm inside there too long. But they looked great, especially keeping in mind something Rick said at the top of the evening.
At the very start of the presentation, he'd shared the story of meeting a park guest outside. When the guest learned that the evening would include screenings of Mickey Mouse shorts, the guest said "I'll skip this. I could just see those on the internet." But Rick made the casual distinction that we would be seeing them tonight "in high def".
As a Blu-ray geek, that phrase rang loudly in my ears. Has Disney quietly started to remaster their golden age library in high def? I think they have! I attended another Disney function earlier this year, D23's Fanniversary event, in Burbank. Included in that presentation at the theatre on the Walt Disney Studios lot was footage from the "Disneyland" episode "Disney Goes to the World's Fair". When I saw it, it had obviously been remastered and it looked glorious! It's a smart move to start getting material prepared to use in screenings such as this. But when's their home video release? It would be so awesome to have stuff like this on Blu-ray!!
Yesterday we closed our five-week run of this British farce by Ray Cooney at the Torrance Theatre Company. I played the lead character, John Smith, a taxi driver trying to get "...away with having two wives in different areas of London because of his irregular working schedule." Despite receiving one lukewarm review with one rave one, it was a welcome gift to hear all the laughter we received from our audiences throughout our run as we mugged, ran, fell and leap into each other's arms and couches, and otherwise performed with wild abandon the story of this insane plot.
But probably the best thing about being a part of this production was getting to work with this group of actors. Some were friends I'd already done shows with while a few others were folks I'd known well but we'd never worked on stage together before. Over two and a half months of rehearsals and then performances, we wined and dined together, karaoked together, went to the movies, toasted after shows with scotch whiskey, Jose Cuervo and dark chocolate, bickered, and even helped move two in to their new home. We became that neat thing that you hope happens when you get cast in a new show: a family.
To help promote our show, I designed a logo (the Union Jack-styled one at the top) and some web banners and collages that I shared on social media including Instagram (and included in my Portfolio). As I designed these elements, the back of my brain also started percolating ideas for what to do creatively for opening and/or closing night.
I try to do something special for each play I'm cast in if I can, something unique and unexpected to hand out to the cast and crew to help buoy our enthusiasm opening a show or to thank them for the experience as I've enjoyed sharing those past several weeks laughing and working together. Past pieces have ranged from compilation CDs to illustrated note cards to elaborate custom pop-up cards. Some recent examples can be seen by scrolling to the bottom of my Portfolio page.
Having been cast as the lead and thus tasked with memorizing a bulk of lines for the show, I didn't have a generous amount of time to come up with anything more elaborate for opening night than graphics for a card. Fortunately, in the course of a couple of afternoons working on it, playing off one of my character's lines in the play, I felt like I'd come up with something suitably punny and worthwhile.
Then, after we opened our show, my weeknights were no longer filled with rehearsals and during that free time, an idea for a closing night gift started to gel inside my brain.
I'd been cast as the lead in a British farce once before. I played Dr. Prentice in Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw for Palos Verdes Players. For that production, I'd created artwork (shown at left) that was used for publicity and on cast and crew tee-shirts.
That's when the idea to do a similar illustration came about. Only this time, rather than a line drawing of caricatures of the cast of characters, I challenged myself with doing a fully-rendered illustration featuring likenesses of this cast. It's something that I really hadn't done much before to the degree I aimed for. And because I'd obviously want to do them justice, moving forward it sort of stressed me out! But that's a good thing.
Working on it over several days, I was really happy with the way the Run for Your Wife cast poster turned out. I kept it a secret until I finally handed each one of the cast and crew their rolled up poster. It was fun - and a relief - to see their surprised, happy faces as they set their eyes upon the finished piece. The poster art's below, the cast illustrated by hand in pencil before scanning the art to finish in Photoshop and Illustrator. The quotes scattered about each head are from the play, said by our characters and that got amongst the most laughs from our audiences. They were another way to remember the fun we had performing Run.
I've been fortunate to have been cast in scores of theatre shows for many, many years now, each time appreciating the chance to flex those creative muscles that I wouldn't normally exercise just sitting in front of my iMac or at my drafting table being Mr. Designer Guy. Working in theatre also allows me the chance to meet and work with so many talented and generous people, in most cases volunteering their time and talent to the community for the love of the art. This group and this experience on TTC's Run for Your Wife was among the very best I've ever enjoyed! Thanks, Gary R., Gary K., Amanda, Jennifer, Geoff, Tim, Danny, Rachel, Linda, Lisa, Cary and Gia!
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!