Monday, May 12, 2014

Can't Sing, Loves to Dance


That's the sound of a non-stop busy week finally letting up. I got home from my day trip to see my Mom, got cleaned up and headed right back out again.

This time, it was to see a showcase of a new musical, "Writers' Weekend," at Richmond Triangle Players.

I stopped to collect my theater-loving girlfriend Pru and we managed to snag last minute tickets in row H, also known as the back row of the theater or eight rows back.

Not only was it the highest point in the theater (perfect for two vertically-challenged women) but we were lucky enough to have a table between us for our beverages.

I love a good phrase as when Pru told a woman who stopped to chat with her how much she liked her gray hair. "I'm embracing my crone years," the woman laughed. Meanwhile, Pru is thinking of going blond, although she's not nearly ditzy enough.

Director B.C. Maupin got things rolling by telling us that the purpose of tonight was for the play's writers (of the book and lyrics and maybe even the music) to finally hear words coming out of actors' mouths.

I know that's what I was there for.

Scripts in hand, a cast of eight acted out and sang the story of a weekend writers' workshop at a rural Virginia B & B while a four-piece band (keys, guitar, bass, drums) provided the musical accompaniment for all the songs.

The six aspiring writers began by singing about why they wanted to become writers.

I want to be a writer
because then my life will turn out right
I want to be a writer
because I have to write

There was the TV action star turned playwright, the newspaper reporter turned detective writer, the technical writer who wanted to branch out into fiction, the self-published sci-fi writer, the suburban slam poet and the published romance writer (with classics such as "Hunky Vampires in Handcuffs") who had writer's block.

It was a terrific cast for a workshop with the actors having achieved far more character nuances than you'd expect for people who'd rehearsed for less than a week.

Clearly that's why they're actors.

The early scenes were funny, with the unpublished writer who was facilitating the group unimpressed with their writing samples after having them each read from a piece they were working on (gems such as "Rickets: The Musical").

All were so badly written that there was nowhere to go but up when she had them break into duos and trade genres to challenge their skill sets.

So the older woman romance writer and younger man technical writer are paired up to bodice-ripping results while the slam poet, an attitude-filled black woman, is paired with the former reporter she describes as a "puffy white man."

And of course the playwright (formerly TV hero "Captain Fabulous") gets paired with the worshipful sci-fi fan.

When the workshop leader tells them she has arranged for a literary agent to attend their final reading in hopes that one of them will get representation, it's an excuse for her to vent about the sleaziness of agents and the ineptitude of editors.

"Agents are the speed bumps in the literary highway!" she says with disgust. "Editors are the sworn enemy of adverbs."

Much of the script was hilarious enough to laugh out loud and not just because I earn my (meager) living as a writer, because I was far from the only one chortling repeatedly.

During intermission, Pru and I digressed, discussing the beauty of recycling books by buying used and how the main library's sales and giveaways make that so easy to do.

I have to admit, I'm always curious about whoever read the book I'm holding before I did and whether we had the same reaction to it. Did they get something I missed?

Then we settled back in for the second act, only to discover that each of the sets of writers who'd been paired up were finding attraction in each other.

At a cocktail party, both the angry slam poet and frustrated reporter found themselves ordering the same thing at the bar.

"There is nothing sexier than a woman drinking whiskey," the reporter purrs. I would argue that a woman drinking tequila is sexier, but it's not my play, so not my dialog.

When the playwright and sci-fi writer begin flirting, he's put off, feeling that she's too young for him.

"Old is sexy," she assures him. "Old is the new black." It's enough to get them dancing, despite that she says she doesn't know how.

"A dance floor is a foreign land where you're who you want to be," he tells her. So true.

The lusty romance writer and geeky, young tech writer are soon embroiled in concocting a steamy train tale with her hand repeatedly "on the throttle," necessitating them both needing cigarettes afterwards.

The song lyrics were creatively catchy and, in many cases, so cleverly funny that you missed the next line by laughing, a great problem to have.

If there was a better way to end a jam-packed week than laughing at a bunch of characters whose main goal is to spend their time writing, I can't imagine what it would be.

Well, maybe at a story about a woman who, no matter how busy she finds herself, somehow makes the time between meeting deadlines and going out every night to blog and over-share her life, feelings and thoughts.

Nah, probably not that funny.


  1. Thanks for coming to Writers Weekend and for this wonderful review! We were blessed to have a wonderful cast and director -- I would work with every single one of them again in a New York minute (and in New York -- can't imagine anyone better there). BTW, I was the gray haired woman -- and I'm still embracing my crone years!

  2. It was a phenomenal cast, hard to imagine anyone fleshing out those roles so satisfyingly. And watching BC react to his actors during the reading made it clear how thrilled he was with their performances. A terrific evening was had by all!