My Writings. My Thoughts.

Now, Kansas City…

// July 27th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog, News

Dear Kansas City,

We are conflicted about you.

You are a lovely city. You contain some fantastic people. You’ve got all of this beautiful outdoor space designed for hanging out. You have as many fountains as Rome (actual statistic). We would love to love you.

However, we have some questions.

Where is everybody?

Why did the Rent-a-Cops tell us to go home last night at 11 PM when we were just sitting outside?

Why do all your stores and restaurants close at 6 or 7 on a week night?

Why can’t under-21s even sit in an outdoor area in the hippest district after 11 PM?

Who in Frank Olmsted’s name designed your streets?

Please address all answers to:

The cast of Grind: The Musical

Various locations around KC

America, the planet Earth

The Living Room

// July 26th, 2010 // No Comments » // News, Video

Here’s some sneak footage of the Living Room at the Pearl:

A Living Room Tour

The Cast and Crew Set Up

Nice, innit?

Don’t You Know Me, Kansas City?

// July 26th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, News

Well, we made it. Kansas City, MO…slash Kansas City, KS. We’ve been to both, thanks to the utterly confusing roads and exits of the Kansas City area. We’re convinced that multiple universes inhabit this space. Going in the same direction in a straight line, you can be “leaving Kansas City limits” about seven times in a row, without any hint that you’ve re-entered the city limits.

We ate barbeque last night, of course, and found our lovely host families. Daisuke and I are with Stacey, the mother of a fellow Carleton student, and she’s spoiling us rotten. Plus we share bunkbeds. It’s like a slumber party every night, complete with chocolate-chip-cookie-dough ice cream.

This morning we loaded into the Living Room at the Pearl, our venue. It’s a really interesting and cool space–decorated in a mismatched, thrift-store style, with a platform stage and seats on tiered platforms. We spent a good chunk of time figuring out how to adapt our blocking the the space, and then did a remarkably smooth run-through. When pressed (ok, so it was a leading question) our theatre rep said it looked great. He sounded sincere, I promise!

I bought a snappy hat at a local garage sale, and we explored the Power and Light District. Then, at 6PM, we made our way to Fringe Central to hang out with all of the other performers. Everyone was guaranteed a slot to perform, but the order was to be drawn from a basket. Daisuke and I arrived twenty minutes before anyone else, so we hung out with phillip andrew bennett low and Tim Mooney, a fellow Midwest Circuiter who happened to be dressed in full Elizabethan garb.

So here’s what went down next: D and I were in line for food, and they drew the first five performers. I turned to D and said, “If we’re called, which I hope to God we’re not, you and I have to perform something by ourselves.” (We’re both Chorus members.) They proceed to call our show as the third to perform. We get out of line. We try to swap spots. We frantically call the other cars. Maia, Jenny, Siri, and Cari roll in with three minutes to go. We change the plan from “Minneapolis” to “Pick Me Up.” Our accompanist isn’t here. They call our names.

So (to switch tenses) I hopped on stage, told the crowd we were new to Kansas City, being a part of the Circuit, and that Kansas had swallowed our accompanist. But, trusting in the magic of theatre, we were going to perform anyway, a cappella, so please be kind. Maia took the mic and began to sing. The crowd stopped breathing. Have you listened to that woman sing? Well, a cappella she can bring a hundred people to breathless silence. Cari, Daisuke and I joined her. We stopped, thanked them…and the room broke into cheers. We worked our way to the back of the room to see that our final car had arrived just in time to catch the performance.

So once more, perseverance triumphed over lack of accompaniment. We spent the rest of the party chatting with people, handing out postcards, and eventually jamming on the street, playing guitar, mandolin, melodica, and djembe and singing songs from the show as well as Lady Gaga and the like. We made some friends, I met a new suitor who’s about 72, and we had a fantastic time singing and watching the Death Star-like moon rise.

Tomorrow we hit the streets preaching (slightly psychotically) and singing. Kansas City, whatever universe you’re in is never going to be the same.


Twin Cities Theater Connection Podcast!

// July 23rd, 2010 // No Comments » // Audio, News

The wonderful Joshua Humphrey has posted the audio from the fringecast he interviewed us on:

Grind Fringecast

Don’t we sound like we know what we’re doing?

Moving In, Moving Out

// July 23rd, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Blog

We fit all of our set into my minivan! Jenny and I had a running bet about this one, and I won, so this afternoon I collected my waffle cone from her after proving that I’ve inherited my mother’s spatial reasoning.

We spent the afternoon moving our set in and out of the black box theater at Carleton, and performing in that space. Which was interesting, as we blocked the show in the half-round, and Nourse is a proscenium with a dual-level stage. I think we acquitted ourselves rather well, all considered. And we definitely got a work-out.

Tonight, those of us who are eligible are doing a drink-through. Every time we get “coffee,” we get a beer. The world is not ready for the amount of fun about to happen.


We’ve got audio!

// July 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Audio, Media

And we’ll give it to you, sloooooowly.

Here’s a fully-audible recording of “Coffee for Two,” complete with a new and improved final pun: Coffee for Two.

Spoke Easy

// July 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog

Shout-out to everyone we (briefly) hung out with at the Fringe Speakeasy at Bedlam today! Especially Andrew Watkins, who’s younger than we are–I know, right?–and still rocking his Beckettian show, “Digging a Hole” (tickets here). ¬†We had postcards! Finally! But Jenny and I didn’t get the beer and cookies that everyone else had, because we could only be there for half an hour. And we still ended up an hour late to rehearsal. Seriously, people on 35W should be more considerate of my time.

What makes us ridiculously excited: There are Fringe artist parties every night of the MN Fringe. Every. Night. Karaoke! Dance parties! Something for which we have to wear powder blue! I’m ready to rock.

Just ran through with microphones for the first time. Not sayin’ there weren’t some problems, but we’re really looking like a show.

Oh, and last night Alex, David and I went to Uptown to interview with Joshua Humphrey with his Twin Cities Theater podcast. We had a great time chatting with Joshua in his really sweet apartment, and today we recorded some of our songs to frame the podcast. It should be live in a couple of days, so of course I’ll foist that upon you.

Tomorrow is adventures in spatial reasoning. We’re going to see if we can fit our whole set into the back of my minivan. Please pray for us…



Meet the Cast and Crew

// July 20th, 2010 // No Comments » // Bios, Blog

Cast biographies, as written in the middle of the night by Laura:

Maia Rodriguez, aka “Carolyn (Coco) Graham”:

As she is one of the most laid-back people I know, we naturally cast Maia as our most uptight character. Of course she rocks it–this girl rocks life. Maia is a blonde Mariah Carey, complete with whistle tones. Don’t believe me? Listen to her song, “I Can Fix This,” which she helped conceive only days ago.

Siri Hammond, aka “Libby Wolff”:

Look up “adorable” in the Illustrated OED and you’ll find a picture of Siri (okay, not true…I’m not sure there is an Illustrated OED). She likes to dance around our kitchen and plays guitar far better than she will ever admit to you. And we promise, she’s not a stalker.

David Kornfeld, aka “Dylan Graham,” writer, composer, and musical director:

Look at this guy. Is he not an obvious rock star? Our personal musical savant, David can mentally transpose music, make up complicated orchestrations on the spot, and play keyboard, guitar, key-tar, djembe, mandolin, and probably more. Yet he is one of the sweetest, most genuine people I know. Just wait for Panel 5, when he makes you cry.

Maxwell Collyard, aka “Percival ‘Perk’ Perkins IV”:

Don’t let the suave good looks fool you–Max is a goofy teddy bear of a human being. If I could follow him around with a notepad for the rest of my life, I’d have enough comic gold to retire to Boca by age 30. And somehow, Max manages to pull off some serious cuteness and real poignancy as Perk, “The Rush’s” young barista.

Alec Scott, aka “Daniel”:

Crazy? Wise? A beggar? A prophet? Yeah, Alec could be any of these things. Oh, and so could his character, Daniel, I guess. Around here Alec is best known for climbing everything in sight and enthusiastically hugging people. If I had one third of his energy, I would start training for marathons.

Daisuke Kawachi, aka “Chorus”:

Another one for the “too cute to be real” category. He’s talented, too–Daisuke has some of the funniest characters in the show (watch out for “Darren” and his above hipster especially), and his vibrato makes me want to weep, in the good way. In a past life, I’m pretty sure he was a squirrel. And I mean that with so much love.

Cari Jones, aka “Chorus”:

Cari is a ray of sunshine in human form. She also designed the “Grind” comics and performs the funniest slam poem we’ve ever heard. Oh, and she can beat-box like no one else, make up her own harmonies to songs, and play a mean piano. Swing-dance with her some time; you won’t regret it.

Laura Stratford, aka “Chorus,” writer-in-chief, and sometimes-melodian/musician:

You’ve gotten enough of me in this blog.

Alex Higgin-Houser, aka “Herr Direktor,” writer, producer, graphic designer, etc. :

My brain-twin and our secret mastermind. Alex reveals a new skill every day, and it would be irritating if he weren’t so gosh-darn fun to be around (and so danged smart). He also infects everyone around him with his mannerisms and speech memes, so converse with him at your own risk.

Jenny Fink, aka “Stage Manager Goddess”:

We would not survive this summer or this show without Jenny. She is the glue that holds us together, the surrogate mom who keeps us fed, the authoritarian when we need to focus or clean or make it to places, the giver of awesome hugs, and the brains behind our press release, transportation efforts, and housing. She’s also a ninja. Just look at that picture.

Francesca Chubb-Confer, aka “Shadow-Puppetry Expert,” “Official Biggest Fan,” and “Bestower of Office Supplies”:

Francesca is like the Mafia–secretly influencing everything. She was indispensable during our shadow puppetry workshops, and she provides us a fresh set of ears and eyes, not to mention the magical powers of printing, faxing, and office supplies. If you catch a Hindi-film melody wafting on the breeze, that’s Francesca subtly taking control of you.

Phew. So that’s us. Now what about you? We’d actually love to know.


A Declaration of True Love

// July 19th, 2010 // 6 Comments » // Blog

You had me when you interrupted Robin at the Fringe-For-All.

Yes, I know it was a “bit,” that it was planned in advance. But you called her “Fringe Wench,” and my heart soared. Dear Herald from “Princess Jessica and the Kingdom of Boogers” (tickets here), I don’t even know your name–are you E.J. Subkoviak? Bobby Gardner? Are you single? Straight? It matters not. Your disgust with bugs and Presidential Fitness Tests has won me to you. I know we didn’t even speak at the Fringe Showcase at the library, for I was too shy and quite frankly didn’t really see you until you were onstage. But know, my love, that someday we shall be together. Even if you have no idea who I am.

(Happy, Rob Callahan?)

With sincerest ardor,


(Whispered P.S.: Facebook me, my love!)

(P.P.S.: Ben Thietje! I have no idea how to pronounce your last name!)

(P.P.P.S.: He’s engaged to another…life, you never treat me right!)

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