Omg - time is flying soooo quickly. It's only a month until the actors arrive for the summer shows and only three weeks until our stage manager gets here to help me start prep work. Aaaaaaa. Even though I've worked really had to keep myself on a schedule, I still feel like I'm behind and I have a zillion things to get done. But - good news - today I moved on from research to actually writing my scripts… so far I've got four Neil Diamond songs checked off the list. Seriously kids, when we start doing shows that actually have a PLOT my life is gonna be a breeze. Oh yeah… except for that whole scenery thing.
Luckily I'm done with teaching for the semester… last class yesterday and finals next week. Any of you blog friends who are teachers - I cannot recommend an app called 'grade book pro' ENOUGH… this thing is amazing and streamlined my grade/attendance stuff in an incredible way. Anyway, after a LOT of thought, Rich and I decided that this would be my last semester teaching for a while. There are number of reasons… but the main one is that the auditorium renovations are coming along quickly enough that we hope it's going to keep me very, very busy through the fall. For the past four years (since the lobby renovation) my contribution to the construction work has been on the periphery - but soon there is gonna be a pile of aesthetic stuff to be done in that room. The tricky thing about working as an adjunct professor is that you are locked into a full-time teaching commitment but you still only have a part time job. It's a big step… it's a little scary…but it's time to take the leap. I can certainly say that I have made an impact in some student's lives, changed their perceptions, and in some cases given them confidence they never had. I'll really miss that part of the gig. There are also parts I won't miss. I think teaching a Gen Ed class allows you to reach people in a unique way - but it also means that you start the semester with 24 people who are only in the room at 9am because their advisor told them they had to be there. And sometimes that's an uphill climb. Especially for 9am if you're the JoJo.
Despite the fact that I make Mr. Magoo seem like a stunt man on Fast and Furious, I actually really enjoyed the commute. Once I discovered 'audible' audio books I revealed in the hour and a half of escape the drive allowed. The down side of that was, in order to get to class and find a place to park I had to be out the door at 7:30. BUT in the past two months certain weiner dogs have decided that 6:00 am is party time. So I reached a point where I left for school at 6:30, got there an hour early, eating my cereal in a red solo cup when I hit stop lights, and then slept an hour in the University parking lot. One thing Rich will not miss is the truck was gradually become my second apartment… I was a truck squatter. Anyhoo...
If you are connected to us on Facebook (and if you aren't, whyyyyyyyy not??) you'll know that the restaurant is re-opening. The launch is scheduled for the end of the month so, in addition to all auditorium work, Rich has been making some great plans for ThEatery space. The entire operation is going to be headed by the amazing Chef Jimmy Houser.
Jimmy did the food for us over the holidays and it was fantastic. It's a very big step for us to feel confident embracing the responsibility of the restaurant again - and without Jimmy's passion for the project we wouldn't have even considered the idea. It's going to be an Italian Bistro… which is what we always dreamed it would be. The menu looks amazing - and there isn't an Italian restaurant anywhere in the surrounding area. There are some fantastic pizza places…but for pasta etc. folks have to drive half an hour away. And they do. And he's also going to seriously step up the catering part of the business. I'm sure we're going to book a lot of weddings… after all we're gonna serve marry-nara sauce.
Sorry bout that.
Rich is working on some really fun things for the space… one thing we wanted to do is break up the floor plan a little… Last time it lacked intimacy (the simultaneous blessing and curse of the amazing high tin ceiling). We are even further embracing the 'theatre' part of the name and adding features that really play on the backstage world. So we're gonna use old-school looking painted scenery backdrops as dividers. We found some on ebay that look vaguely mediterranean and, after they get framed and distressed, they will be a really fun feature. Here they are suspended in the auditorium (so we can get a better sense of how to trim and mount them).
Once Rich had them suspended up in the air, apparently Janice walked in, looked up and said…"So why don't we just get a bunch of these ten feet longer… hang 'em up and open the theatre?". Not so much.
Part of the rebranding of the restaurant involved a new look at the logo. Last time we went for a real retro diner look - and this time we want to evoke a much more sophisticated, metropolitan feel. Chef Jimmy wanted to keep the original name… and since I had spent a zillion hours painting it as a giant mural across the brick wall in the middle of the space - I was in full support! But we wanted to make sure people knew it was something new and different. So I went back to the logo and retooled it. So here's the original...
And here's the new version… Which has a sexier edge…hopefully folks like it.
And - note the new 'motto' - "The Big Taste of Little Italy" which, hopefully, couples the Italian with the metropolitan.
I guess i might at well finally try and answer the question of "How the hell do you say that restaurant name". The answer is… pretty much however you want, as long as you come. But, if ya wanna know how WE say it… off our tongues it sounds like "Thuh-ih-htery"… Basically say 'The Eatery" slurred like you've spent Cinco Di Mayo partying with Lindsay Lohan - and you'll nail it.
That's not the ONLY logo I played with this week… and this next one was kind of a big deal for us. See, the thing about our Supper Club shows is that we announce them months and months in advance. We have an idea of the content - but the songs are not set in stone. Rich really wanted us to do another war show - the first one had been fantastic and a really great seller. I knew the show would involve various wartime periods… in December I thought we would hit civil war tunes all the way through some 9/11 stuff. We had a hard time coming up with a name… and I hit on "Whistle While you War" - thinking it was a play on 'Whistle While You Work" - a nod to the musical influences in wartime. And… i created a logo that was heavy on the nostalgia and patriotism...
And i thought it was pretty darn charming. I really liked the bugle dude a lot.
But… as time went on, a few things happened. I started sifting through song options. Very quickly I realized that there WERE some really great WWII tunes we hadn't done the first time round, BUT we had never done any of the Vietnam stuff. The sixties and seventies shows were two of our biggest sellers - and these songs were absolutely incredible. By far there was way more juicy material in that period. THEN we cast the shows and the talent suited that material really well. We also realized that in the past five years our audience base has changed. There's been a very clear change of generations and now our main patrons are Baby Boomers. So now we had a logo that said "WWII cute" that we realized didn't really appeal to our current crowd.
Having now picked the music I knew this show was going to be amazing AND I knew the Baby Boomers would love it, and it was almost all 60's-70's. There was some upbeat 40's swing like the Bette Midler version of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy - but the show was a lot more "Rumble in the Jungle" than "It's a long way to tipperary". And people weren't buying tickets. So… for the first time ever… I revamped the branding.
Now - we felt like we couldn't change the name. Which is a little bit of a bummer. Because 'Whistle While You War" is a cute title - it's Andrews Sistersy and has about as much rock edge as a mash mellow peep. BUT people had already purchased season passes and we didn't want to cause mass confusion by making people think we had added a fourth show. So we came up with a kind of compromise and added a tag line… 'The Beat that was Blowing in the Wind.'
I retooled the graphic to be a lot more rock n' roll, and went for camouflage rather than than 'stars and stripes'. To push the Vietnam feel even more I threw in little jungle palm tree silhouette in the background. And hopefully - we have a "Good Morning Vietnaaaaaaam" vibe that is way more in keeping with the song lineup and our audience...
Let me know what you think, guys. :)
So - that's it for now… I"m gonna get back to my fun facts-finding mission.