Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

March 25, 2011 at 10:37am


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I recently read a piece by Volcano and News Tribune critic Alec Clayton in which he thanked his wife Gabi for help with his columns. I also have an able assistant, my fiancee, Amanda Stevens. While I can justly claim intimate knowledge of and insight into a wide variety of theatrical genres, I must admit to deficiencies with regard to American-style musical theater. I've performed in over a dozen musicals through the years, including solo singing; yet I've never directed a musical, nor can I read music. I can't play a single musical instrument, despite classes in trumpet, clarinet, piano and guitar. I wouldn't say I have a tin ear--I can carry a tune well enough--but it's often hard for me to pinpoint which instrumental soloist sounds slushy or whether a vocal issue is caused by the singer, the sound system, or poor acoustics. I've been busted fairly for giving orchestras short shrift in my reviews, and now you know why.

Amanda has no such deficiencies. She conducts and composes music, and she won intercollegiate tournaments for opera singers. The first time I heard a recording of her singing the Habanera, I thought I was being punk'd. She's also performed well in national tap dancing tournaments. So while I greatly respect Amanda's opinion about any show, I'm especially indebted to her for her expertise in musical theater. If I criticize your singing, it's a fair bet that a woman far more knowledgeable than I heard the same flaws.

Only very, very rarely do Amanda and I disagree about any element of a show, though we may differ in our valuation of a given strength or flaw. For example, she's less patient with shows over two and a half hours long, mostly because she gets up at 6:45 a.m. for her day job. I have the luxury of sleeping in. (Often, around the two-hour mark, I'll look over at her, and she'll give me the "snoozy" face.) I think directors often favor acceleration over cutting to fix time issues, but that's not our preference. I realize there are legal issues involved, but generally, if a script is too long, it's not the actors' fault--and racing through dialogue never helps. I like old musicals less than she; she finds Shakespearean tragedy more "actor-batory" than I do.

Anyway, meet Amanda. She's a genius. I don't just cart her around for her good looks, although that would certainly be reason enough.

Filed under: Arts, Tacoma, Olympia, Theater,

Comments for "CARV’S WEEKLY BLOG: My plus-one" (2)

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alec said on Mar. 25, 2011 at 12:44pm

Thanks for the props, Carv.

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Scott Evans said on Mar. 25, 2011 at 2:54pm

"and racing through dialogue never helps"

Unless you're in something by Sorkin. Or maybe Mamet.

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