I Dream of Genie (lift).

Well - I have whole bunches of fun pics to share with you guys. The Wine Tasting was a humungo-normous success. Sure, that word is in the dictionary. Rich and Debbie and Ann did a spectacular job and Cindy and Margaret and Janice were a huge help with in the vittles department too. The theatre was PACKED. I mean jam packed. We had over 250 people in the building... it was fantastic and crazy and nuts and great. Like i told you before - a huge section of the auditorium was competely cleared out for the event - auditorium-cleared.jpg

so people were everywhere.

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We had framed things around the auditorium explaining the Arts Initiative as well as the new logo I designed for the Opera House building...

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and the renderings for the auditorium. And this was the first time people had been in there since we bought it really - so they hadn't seen all the old seats out or the screen removed - it looks huge.

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The guy from 'Wine Time' the company that was providing the wine, said they had never been to an event nearly so successful. And, to be honest, I think they were a little bit overwhelmed there, for a while. At the very end they ran out of wine... simply cuz I don't think they really believed we had as many tickets sold as we did! They were really nice to work with...

THE HIGHS AND THE MERLOTS. tasting.jpg

We learned a couple lessons for next time... with all those people we just needed to make sure there were several more food and wine stations. Even though we had munchies being passed by five servers and two food tables, traffic flow would have been helped probably if we'd also had food in the auditorium, not just the lobby.

We had two wine stations - but we probably could have used FIVE!

THE AUDITORIUM ALREADY HAS TWO NEW 'WALLS'. wall-wine.jpg

The food was just beautiful. I would say it was delicous too...but i was sequestered in the bar the whole time undergoing the most insane two hours of my life (we'll get there in a minute!), so I never really got to taste much. But I heard everything was super-delicious. And please, with Ann and Debbie in the kitchen... how could it not be?? The presentation was also just fabulous. We had sooo much food. Like enough food that even Po would have been full!

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Since Rich had to mingle and tell people about the project... all these people...

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it was decided that I would tend the bar. jojo-bar.jpg Now, since it was a wine tasting, and people were coming to taste THE WINE, Rich naturally figured there were be very little demand for the bar. So he was sure I'd be safe. I mean, maybe a couple of sodas, right? A beer or two? Sure. I can handle that. He gave me a crash course in the touch screen cash register thingy - and that was that. HOWEVER... Rich's calculations were slightly off the mark. Like saying that Kirsty Alley has fallen slightly off her ideal weight. With just little old me and Janice trying to scoop me off the floor (there actually was a point where I thought I was going to pass out) we had the biggest bar night in the history of the theatre. In only three hours. There were some things I just couldn't even begin to try and make ("Can you make a chocolate martini?" "Sorry, play again".) and it took me half the time to FIND a bottle of anything... and where to punch it in on the screen (J and B is a different button than Jim Bean but they both say JB - fun, right?). If people were able to walk me through it I was able to make some stuff. The highlight of my evening was when a former nun taught me how to make a Manhattan...

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE MANHATTAN? manhattan-instructions.jpg

By the way - you're saying to yourself... "Jo Jo... if you were so busy in the bar, how did you have time to take all these pictures. ELEMENTERY my dear Blog Buddy. I didn't take them! Paul Siegfried was bouncing around like Peter Parker... apparently even hanging from the ceiling...

TASTY BITE VIEWED BY SATELLITE? munchies1.jpg

And Debbie and Rich and Ann thanked everyone for coming and supporting the event and gave a brief overview of our hopes for the Initiative and for the Opera House... rich-and-crowd.jpg

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And, even though we won't know the exact amount raised until our meeting this Wednesday, I'm pretty excited to let you know that we think the event met is goal! It looks like we raised enough money to pay for the new roof on definitely one and probably both of the Studio buildings... which is just spectacular. People were so supportive and excited not only about the Initiative but the event itself... so we figure it will become an annual event to look forward to.

there were also some great pictures posted on the Huntington Free Press which I've lifted to share with you...

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A few short hours after the last person left the theatre that night, I had to jump on a plane to go to New York. I was directing a reading of the Nixon/Eisenhower play that I worked on a few years ago. This time we were invited to do a workshop of it at the Actor's Studio (that organization where James Lipton does "Inside the Actor's Studio"). I got to see two shows while I was there - A Little Night Music with Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury (which was good... not amazing...but good. And I LOVE Lansbury). And I got to see my great friend Jake Speck on Broadway in Jersey Boys which was just a thrill. The morning my flight got in I was lucky enough to get a single ticket in the fourth row. Jake is the only person to ever understudy three of the four Jersey Boys... AND he also covers four other roles. So he never knows if he'll be on or not - or what role he'll be playing. But he was on the night i was there...and it was fantastic! I got to go backstage and stand on the set which was fun, too.

The day of the reading was fast and furious. We only rehearsed for three hours - because four of the cast members had done the previous reading - and I didn't want to waste their time (one day readings, believe it or not, are usually unpaid - the playwright was kind enough to fly me down for the reading because he really likes me. The cast was great - including two time Tony Nominee Barbara Walsh and David Garrison (who most people know from Married With Children...but he's been the Wizard in Wicked on Broadway a bunch of times)... plus the guy who played The Grinch on Broadway, Patrick Page (who is married to Paige Davis from "Trading Spaces".) The cast was just wonderful... the reading was a big success and there was a talkback afterwards which was really interesting. I thought it might be rough going - because there were a lot of writers in the audience, but they were really positive. After the talk-back this very sophisticated lady in a fur hat came up to me and said what a wonderful job I had done... and how impressed she was. And then she said "My name is Tammy Grimes". I nearly died. Tammy Grimes is the original Molly Brown from The Unsinkable Molly Brown - that's her on the playbill cover: molly-brown.jpg

- she was a huge Broadway star in the 60's and had her own TV series etc etc. She was one of those fabulous actors that ended up on Murder She Wrote and Love Boat...and all those shows. She was so kind - and it was really cool that she like my work. Plus, for 83, she looks fantastic! tammy-grimes.jpg

So that was a real boost to my week! The lovely lady who runs the Actors Studio, Patricia Bosworth, also wanted all my info so she could suggest me for other projects - which was great!

My trip was super fast - but great fun. And when I got home I discovered we had a new arrival in the family. Or rather, soon would. Rich, on ebay, had managed to snag a 26' reach Genie lift. Which, miraculously, finally solves the 'how the heck are we going to manage to get up to the auditorium ceiling to paint it?' problem. This thing is going to be invaluable for so many aspects of the renovation and running the technical demands of the theatre. Rich and Janice went and picked it up with Larry's trailer about 75 miles away. And then, right after my class got out, I got a call saying the Blazer had died and Grant had come to rescue them. So we managed to get all three vehicles (Grants, the Blazer, and our truck) back to the theatre. And then we had to figure out how to get this 4,000 pound (no, really) genie lift off the trailer and into the theatre. (The guy they bought it from had put it up there with a forklift).

The method by which this thing managed to reach street level was, from my layman's point of view, scarier than Meg Ryan's face. I mean I almost wet my pants. But, with Super Larry on deck, it was achieved using all kinds of MacGuyver amazingness. And then, after I was resuscitated, Larry was happily driving it towards the theatre... much to the amazement of the people inside the nearby storefronts. genie-on-the-street.jpg

Watchiing Larry drive this thing was hilarious. It's like having a giant Droid. SOME MEN COVET SPORTS CARS... larry-drivin.jpg

And watching him drive it through the front doors (with about an inch to spare on each side) was kind of like watching someone use a wii console to control a wrecking ball. in-the-doors.jpg

And before long it was sitting happily in its new home! our-newest-child-i-call-her-barbara-eden.jpg

And it's very fun making it go up and down. Rich just needs to learn the difference between the up/down button and the forward backward button - since he's zoomed forward a couple of times unexpectedly. I'll give him lessons (hee hee.) jojo-genie.jpg

We have to build a big metal rampy thing to keep it on a level working surface (for the slope of the auditorium). But this afternoon Rich had it down at the edge of the stage (which is pretty level) and got it to go all the way up to the ceiling which was really exciting. It's a huge step. And as soon as I find an unlimited supply of valium... and the temperature warms up... I can start scraping paint!

And, by the way - we have named the Genie lift... Barbara Eden. xo jojo