Sunday, December 14, 2014

You Jane? Me Mozart!


Purchase SUNY's Performing Arts Center has a magnificent modern theater.  I say that because I was an audience member for the TV series Mozart In The Jungle, which was shooting there.  Based on an expose book by a former concert oboist, Blair Tindall (entitled Sex, Drugs and Classical Music), and with whom I got a chance to speak with during my wait in holding.

My car was in the shop so I had to take the courtesy van from the West-side pickup location.  This time, the van driver found me... and several others, who were real musicians cast for this concert scene that we were all a part of (in one form or another).  The person I sat next to during this upstate trip was a silver-bearded man whose generosity in sharing all things musical was amazingly educational and kept the ride's time passing without notice.  We discussed Brubeck's jazz and clubs associated with that genre -lots of good suggestions for jazz clubs both from him and his friends in the front of the van.

After de-vaning, the musicians were given special treatment and escorted to the building.  I was just kind of ignored so I looked around my new-found unfamiliar surroundings and eventually followed the "To Holding" signs... alone.  But I was ok with that because as it turned out the holding area was huge and the table I was moving towards to settle into, was the band of musicians from the van.  They were friendly and invited me to sit with them.  They were funny and the conversation flowed easily... until the local pseudo-sophisticated PA decided to do a reading of the upcoming script.

As he read the script about how this concert was going on and that it was composed by a man named "BY-ZET"... our table started to roll in laughter -as did some of the more astute members of the extras' gathering who were more attuned to pronouncing Bizet's name. Of course, no one corrected him until he got off his podium with an inflated imago.  Then suddenly we heard:

"Oh NO!.... It's pronounced 'Bee-Zay'...and you guys let me go on??  Ohhhh jeesh!"

But the fun got better when we were placed into the audience as members listening to an interrupted performance between the pretty first-violinist and the quirky young conductor.  I was placed randomly next to two people with tags on their shirts.  They were stand-ins (aka: "Second-team").  And when it came time for the "First-team" to replace them, I realized that I was now sitting next to Jason Schwartzman. Somehow I knew there would be banter. And sure enough we did have short nondescript exchanges.  The scene called for a young lady to be coming into the row and stopping by my knees, telling Schwatzman's character that he was in the wrong seat.  The two of them would then do a bit of pre-dating conversational dialogue -some of it improvisational.  At one point, Schwartzman's dialogue referenced me to her as "the old guy next to you"! But I doubt that it will get put into the final cut.  They were a cute couple and it was a real charge to be next to them.

We were broken for lunch and when we returned, I was told to go down the long-end of my row to get to my seat.  As I clambered my but-end in the narrow foot space, I was going past all my plushly dressed extra buddies as well as some unfamiliar faces.  A few more seats and I was in my place.  As I looked back at everyone my but-end had passed, I noticed that only a couple of seats away from me were Malcolm McDowell and Bernadette Peters sitting together.  Whoa... how embarrassing not to have noticed them.  But it didn't matter because Malcolm's role had to but-pass me later on in the scene.  So it was kind of a "touche" (pun intended).

Malcolm was a real showman.  He liked to interact with the audience and has a very youthful attitude. I had always wondered how he would turn out after the Stanley Kubrick mega hit, "A Clockwork Orange"! It was satisfying to know that he was now a good humored actor (despite his evil character in a Star Trek movie being responsible for Capt. Kirk's death).

I did two days on this scene and enjoyed every classical note of it! On the first night of wrapping, my friend Sam offered to give me a ride to the train station -which I quickly accepted.  It was a slow but very conversational ride.  He had two GPS contraptions going and at times it looked like an argument would ensue between them -mostly because one GPS spoke mainly French.  Suffice it to say that I was glad to get my car back for the second night's trip home.

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