Tag Archives: musicals

You’ve Got Hate, Mate

Part of the torture being in the “public eye” (and I use that term loosely) … is responding or not responding to feedback. I choose to respond. I’m like a Baldwin.

Here are a series of emails I recently (today) received from a person I do not know who’s unhappy with my show. Enjoy.

Dear Peter,
Please refrain from making any references in your so-called ‘entertainment’ Desperately Seeking The Exit to my wonderfully talented friend Angus Jackson.
He last directed Frank Langella in King Lear. You are wasting your time with your dull circus act on your dreadful show which closed seven years ago. Everybody else has- you should try this concept sometime- MOVED ON,

Best,
XXX (name withheld)

*******
Hello XXX,
Thank you for writing to me. I understand and appreciate you standing up for your friend. I am telling a story. I do not portray Angus or anyone involved in the production in a negative way. I look like the biggest fool in the bunch. We ALL were working in different ways. The original London producers have seen the show and had no complaints and only praise. Angus’ friends have seen the show (even in Australia) and have all told me that Angus would enjoy the show. We both went through a lot during that process and after. I am a storyteller and I am telling my story about mounting a show. It has touched many artists around the world who strive to create and collaborate. I have no bad feelings about Angus and have championed his work ever since the show closed.
Sincerely,
Pete

*******
Dear Peter,
Angus is exceptionally talented

*******
I agree. We all just had a different show in mind. I admire Angus’ success post-Susan! He has proven himself to be a talented director and he has moved on, as have I. My show about the show is one of many things I do as an artist.
Pete

*******
Peter
A v.classy response to what I must confess was an outburst but DSTE is only thing you do as an artist, not one of many things you do as an artist.

*******
That is incorrect. And I honestly don’t feel like I need to fill you in on what I do, unless you plan to hire me, but a visit to my website should make it clear.

*******
Still unclear.
Andy Blankenbuehler is also very talented

********
Have you seen my show? Why is this all coming up now? I performed the show for a month in London, and for two seasons in Edinburgh. Why now? Why the griping now? Why are you questioning me (to quote Patsy Stone from Ab Fab)?

*******
I did have the misfortune to see the show. It gave me a headache and my expression remained stern throughout.The level of disrespect to Andy and Angus was breathtaking.

It is the hallmark of the bad artist to get paranoid

*******
Sorry you felt that way. I haven’t gotten that feedback from anyone else who has seen it…including those who actually worked on the show. Andy and Angus are enjoying great successes and I am happy for them. I am proud to have worked with great artists. I relate stories of what happened and what was said and done during the process based on a detailed blog. I don’t give my opinion, I give the facts of what happened. I do wonder why all of a sudden you are trying to get an irate response when I assume you saw EXIT over a year ago in the UK.

NOW HERE IS WHERE IT GETS WEIRD, PEOPLE …

Changing the subject, am about to try get a project funded on Kickstarter.
Any advice?
Thanks

*******

That’s how I raised money for my EXIT show that you disapprove of – but with a different crowd sourcing company. I think you have to let your potential donors know what you plan to do with the future of the project, so they are investing in a long term goal and not just the NOW. You have to make a detailed schedule for rolling out the campaign and offer some sort of rewards. You have to stay in touch with people. I still write to all of my funders with updates on the success of EXIT. If you have no money for rewards, offer dinner or house cleaning. Planning a crowd sourcing project will also help you define what YOU want to achieve with the project. Most of all, be honest and clear. Set deadlines. Be on top of things. And by all means, don’t take things too seriously and keep in mind that all human beings have their own problems and issues that might be greater than you know. Best of luck with it!
Pete

*******

It’s an immensely funky documentary that if people find out about, they will want to fund…

******

This documentary sounds intriguing already. I am glad I could provide some help; even with the way you introduced yourself to me. I take great pride and responsibility with my work and I hope you do the same. If you treat people like you would like to be treated, you can reap some great rewards simply because you are doing it – honestly – and not alone, but with a community of supporters who want you to succeed.
Pete

*******

Wonderful.
Thanks. Cocktails on me!!
xx

*****

Next time I am in London? This fall. Count on it.
I drink the expensive stuff when I am over there.
PMM

*****

UPDATE: After posting this on my Facebook wall (to friends only, not public) and getting over 100 responses, our hater sent me this email:

Facebook is beneath me but I am told your stage army of stooges have been assaulting my character in regards to what I had assumed was private correspondence. Charming…

I seem to have struck a nerve with my original thoughts on your posturing skit. Your cyber-boat people are laughing with you but when it comes to the show, evidently they’re with me

However I do not need their following. I am not bipolar nor insane nor schizo. Apart from failing to convince my partner that we should have children, all is well in my world.

Best,
XXX (name withheld)

*****

No worries, XXX. I did not mention your name. Your character is safe.
It made for a good read on how to respond to irate strangers.
PMM

*****

So anybody who does not sprint into the Marino boudoir bearing petals and kisses for that underwhelming act of desperation is an ‘irate stranger?’

I don’t do namedropping but as my former neighbour Harold Pinter used to say ‘F*** them all!” (BTW I would have asked Harold Pinter to narrate my documentary.)

Will tell you all about doc over cocktails which, thanks to your misbehavior on Mark Zuckerberg’s toy, are now ON YOU. Till dawn.

Best.
XXX

*****

Darling,
I know that Facebook is beneath you, but if you are going to do a Kickstarter campaign for your documentary, you can reach a much wider audience to help fund your project. Just engage in conversation, have a story, and tell it!
xoPMM
P.S. – You managed to drop two names in that email! Naughty girl.

DESPERATELY SEEKING THE EXIT will be performed on March 22 & 23 at the Triple Crown Underground at 8PM. Pay-what-you-can.

Please visit www.SeekingTheExit.com for more details.

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EXIT 2013. ENTER 2014.

2013 was a dandy year for me and Desperately Seeking the Exit. Here are 13 reasons why:

  1. EXIT debuts in Ft. Myers at Theatre Conspiracy. This was the first time the show played in an actual theater and was met with large houses and a fabulous review. It was also very nice to do the show with a tan.
  2. EXIT debuts in Australia at the Adelaide Fringe. While the houses weren’t huge (but they were hot and I was tan) the show went on to receive two 5-star reviews and was named Best Comedy by The Advertiser. Many new friends were made and it was a blast to see fellow performers from other festivals doing their thing. I also determined that I wasn’t a fan of kangaroo meat.
  3. Did a few more “pop-up” performances of the show at the Triple Crown which regularly had standing room only … and many drinks afterward with good people. And got a new rave here.
  4. LONDON! The show made its way back to where it all (sort of) began with a month-long run at the Leicester Square Theatre in the West End and two performances at the Brighton Fringe. Producer Kat Portman picked the show up after seeing it at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe and produced the marathon London run that was met with great houses, lots of press, and me learning how to spell the word “Leicester.” We had weekly talk-backs with the original Desperately Seeking Susan cast and crew members and many fond memories were shared.
  5. I had the great pleasure of bringing my Flying Solo classes to The Actor’s Centre in London during the run and helped a dozen students create the beginnings of new solo shows … a few of which will be making their debut at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe.
  6. Had brunch at Sir Ian McKellen’s house and enjoyed conversations with Ian, Ruby Wax, Alan Rickman, Martin Sherman, and other British notables. ‘Nuf said.
  7. Directed and developed Eva Andersen & Joan Estep’s original musical-comedy-variety-bio-show My Sax Life is All Fached Up which played to a sold out house in Ars Nova’s ANTFEST.
  8. Opened Amy Albert’s Delilah Dix: America’s Showgirl at the Hollywood Fringe, which I had originally directed and developed at Ars Nova. Sold out run and great times with my LA peeps. And a mandatory trip to Universal Studios.
  9. Emceed the Long Lake Bed Races on July 4 weekend. Yes. These are races where costumed teams race decorated beds as I interrogate bewildered travelers passing through the town.
  10. Back to the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe with EXIT for 24 performances in a different venue with standing-room only crowds. The show was named Top 5 Solo shows by Fringe Review and received a bunch of new raves.
  11. Created and hosted the Critical Mass Tomato Toss in Edinburgh where scorned performers gleefully threw tomatoes at a wall of critics … for charity of course!
  12. Brought EXIT to Buffalo (where the first reading of the show happened almost 2 years ago) and got some great press and full, fabulous houses.
  13. Co-produced and created SOLOCOM at The PIT with my new pal Toby Knops. This exciting event packed two theaters over two days with 60 solo comedies making their world premier. Many of these shows are now heading toward full productions and runs in 2014.

I also taught my award winning Flying Solo classes and was presented with the Teacher of the Year Award at The PIT. The Orlando Fringe picked up EXIT where it will be presented in May 2014. Had a chilly blast emceeing the Polar Bear Plunge in Long Lake, and I did indeed plunge into the frigid waters with the rest of the lunatics. And, I began work developing two new solo shows that I’m directing this coming winter and spring: Mark Demayo’s retired NYPD cop comedy 20 & Out, and Amy Marcs’ gripping cancer comedy NICE T*TS.

Finally, it looks like Hollywood Nurses (the lesbian pulp novel homage I co-wrote with Sheila Head) will be making its NYC debut sometime next fall. Don’t fret – you’ll know all about it when the time comes.

Everyone has been so supportive of EXIT and many of the other projects these past two years, and I cannot thank you enough. I hope that 2014 brings you all great happiness and fulfillment and I hope to continue to challenge myself and my audiences with innovative, universal, fun and entertaining work that illuminates a bit more of this condition we call being human.

Much Love,

Pete

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EXIT EDINBURGH 2013

We’re baaaaack! Yes, “Desperately Seeking the Exit” is back on US soil after kicking arse at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. With great press, sold out houses, special events and a slew of 4-star reviews, it was even better than last year. Whew!

I really didn’t know how EXIT would do in its second round in Edinburgh. After all, this years’ festival was officially the largest Arts festival in the world to date – hosting 45,000 performances of 2,871 shows in 273 venues across the city. Uhm, that is A LOT! But somehow, EXIT managed to find its way and audience. 75% of the 21 performances were standing room only and we often had to turn people away (which is a good problem to have). Most of the attendees were there from word-of-mouth … not only from last year’s run, but from hearing about the London run this past winter. Many people simply stumbled upon it due to the venue I was in with comedy-seekers literally just popping in to check out the show.

The Counting House

The Counting House is a large bar complex made up of four venues, connected to a beer garden and another popular pub. I would gladly return to it, even though I fought with the sounds of the band and clicking bottles in the beer garden below the window of my very hot venue.

It was great to meet up with so many fellow performers from last years’ Fringe, as well as new friends I made in London and at the Adelaide and Brighton Fringes where I performed the show this past year. Everyone is so supportive of each other and we don’t even blink when asked to see the same show again and again because some important reviewer is in the audience that day. I think one of the best things about doing the Fringe, is seeing others’ work. I am almost always moved to tears at the sheer creativity that goes into these kinds of shows. Most shows are an hour long, so I squeezed in about 2-3 shows a day starting at 10AM and going until 2AM. Plus, doing my show every day at 6:15PM. I lost some weight, crediting the “Fringe Diet” and the many hills of Edinburgh. I highly recommend it!

Alan's Yard

I stayed with my old pals Alan and Victor who live in Edinburgh and treat their guests like hotel guests. The flat is only a 30 minute walk to my venue, but I did learn to master the bus system to save my energy. It was nice to come home to some paella cooking on the stove every so often and I treated them to a proper Yankee BBQ on my last day.

The show received three 4-star reviews and was named Top Five Solo Shows by Fringe Review. I did an interview with the BBC, spoke on a panel about World Fringe festivals (having now participated in five) and learned about the American college touring circuit which is the next phase for EXIT. Not only can I perform the show at these colleges and universities, but I can also teach. And this means an income doing something I love to do. I’m doing the show in Buffalo the weekend of October 18 on the same weekend as the National Association for College Activities is having a big convention. Here I plan to land a booking agent, and it’s also going to be fun to bring the show “back” to Buffalo. I actually did the first workshop/reading of EXIT in Buffalo about 18 months ago! So much has happened since then. Kind of shocking to think that EXIT has now played on three continents in 10 cities in about one year. Oh! And I just added a performance of EXIT in NYC at the Triple Crown on Sunday Oct 13 at 8PM. Pay what you may, as always!

Madonna’s birthday landed on the third weekend of the show, so I threw a spontaneous birthday bash in the middle of the three shows – complete with cake, candles, balloons and streamers that magically appeared; getting 50 people to sing “Happy Birthday” to the Material Girl. If I do EXIT again next year, it will only be for that weekend and will absolutely have a Madge party. There is also talk of showing the DVD of the musical in Edinburgh one night, and a pop-up-drive-in theater where I might show the original film. We will see!

The Wee Stage

The good news is that EXIT has reinvigorated an interest in the musical Desperately Seeking Susan which my lawyer and I are working hard to get published and licensed by 2014. We hope the show will then be performed by regional theaters, UK tours, colleges and high schools. It has taken a long time to get this far with the musical. Working with pop stars is not easy.

One of the highlights of the Fest for me was the crazy event I created called the Critical Mass Tomato Toss.

Set up in a large park in Edinburgh, performers who received rotten reviews were encourage to throw rotten tomatoes at the poster-sized faces of 33 critics. It was a hoot! Most of the supplies and printing were donated and we collected money from the roughly 40 onlookers and participants which went to the local homeless charity Streetwork. “Making something good from something bad” was the slogan…and it was a total blast; ending with me dumping a HUGE bucket of tomato-goo over my head (think CARRIE). The event got some great press and will definitely be back next year. And maybe  every year. Ironically, The Scotsman (who gave EXIT a 1-star review last year) asked me to write a piece about the Toss for them!

The 2013 Edinburgh Fringe was one of the highlights of the year, and I cannot wait to go back. I’ve been asked to direct and develop three shows – one from the US and two from London. I’m not sure if I will be doing a new show next year, but there is some talk of Hollywood Nurses (the play I cowrote with Sheila Head) making its way to the Fringe in 2015 direct from Manchester. This. Would. Be. Awesome.

In the meantime, I’m back in NYC working hard on the novel version of the show, which a publisher in London is keen on publishing. I will be running my Edinburgh Fringe Starter Kit workshops this winter to help folks get ready for next summer’s Fringe and I hope to perform the show a few more times in NYC and hopefully get chosen for the Orlando Fringe in May. If you haven’t already “liked” the EXIT Facebook page, please swing by and give it a click. This way you’ll get updates that are a lot shorter than this. To date, over 1,700 people have seen the show on three continents, and we hope to double that this year – alas, one or two continents will suffice. : )

Finally, thank you gentle reader for your support and encouragement these past 18 months. It might be a solo show, but it’s nothing without an audience and readers like you. The tide is high … let’s get into the groove!

xo Pete

EDINBURGH

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G’day, Australia! Cheerio, London!

Just finished a 2-week run of the show at the Adelaide Fringe, which is the largest Fringe festival in the Southern hemisphere – hosting over 900 shows from all over the world. It was hot as hell (average temp 103) and the city was bustling with a number of other festivals. Getting the word out seemed easy at first, as I did several radio interviews from the States at the ungodly hour of 6AM (time difference is 27.5 hours ahead in Oz). But getting the word out there was more of a challenge as there was just so much going on in Adelaide. It’s a busy city in the summertime. And did I mention HOT? But such a beautiful part of the world – even if it takes about 28 hours to fly there. Don’t get me started.

Austral Hotel where the show was.

When I arrived at the show’s venue The Austral Hotel, the show posters and flyers were all over the place. Note: A “hotel” in Oz is simply a bar with more than one floor. No one stays there unless they pass out in the bathroom. Which is entirely possible at this very popular bar on the main drag of the city called the Rundle Mall. I thought with all of the foot traffic and posters that EXIT would be packed every night. And it was. For the first 5 nights. Then the 4 & 5 star reviews started coming out, and less people came in. Weird! Sometimes I played for 6 people; sometimes 50. But mostly, under 10. Which was a disappointment. Then when the festival was over, the show was named BEST COMEDY by the big paper there, The Advertiser. WTF?!

BEST COMEDY ADL FRINGE!

I met some amazing artists and saw brilliant work. Every show was a chance to refine the material as I readied EXIT for the next stop – LONDON. I discovered new bits, new moments, and new ways to connect with the audience to keep the show fresh, fun, and conversational. The feedback was fantastic and I am definitely glad I did this festival. But, I doubt I will be coming back to Adelaide. As lovely a city as it is with its Botanical Park and Gardens and rowdy people, the audience for a show about a musical is pretty small there as they don’t really “do” musicals in this part of the world. Maybe that’s a good thing?

The show will be playing at the Leicester Square Theatre in the heart of Theatreland every night for 3.5 weeks starting April 24. On my two “off” nights, I will be doing the show at the Brighton Fringe, which is an hour train ride south of London. It’s sure to be quite a workout – not to mention that I will also be teaching my Flying Solo workshops twice a week at the Actor’s Centre in London. But I am looking forward to being produced (by Kat Portman who picked up the show after seeing it in Edinburgh) and to seeing how it goes over there … and of course seeing all my mates.

I’m also doing a special “Be My Little Britain” performance of the show on April 14 at 7PM at the Triple Crown. At this show, the audience will be transported to London (and become my “Brits”) so I can try out the London version of the show which is somewhat new – opening with a video montage from the musical plus about 10 minutes of new material. Tickets are the usual “pay-what-you-can” and if you cannot make it and would like to support the show with a completely tax-deductible donation, please go to my Fractured Atlas page. Any amount is greatly appreciated and will be thoughtfully utilized as we take this little show to new heights.

The show has not even been running a year and yet it seems like forever – but the good kind of forever! Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement. I  hope to make you proud in the coming months. : )

xo Pete

DSE LONDON POSTER

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Buffalo Rocks!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to perform two semi-staged readings of the show in Buffalo in two different venues for two very different audiences. First for students (many from my simultaneous Writing for Actors workshops) at Buffalo State College and then at the hip Alt Theatre.

All I can say is, “Bring back the out-of-town-tryout!”

It was so exciting to give the show a whirl in front of an audience. You can rehearse all day long, but without an audience, you really have no idea if your show is working or not. In a solo show, the audience is the second character. What do they respond to? What do they like? What are they confused by? What do they want more (or less) of? These questions were all answered by very eager and supportive audiences.

What did I learn? Well, the show is funny. And that was a pretty important goal for me. So funny that holding for laughs probably adds about 2 minutes to the show. But the human aspect – the personal journey within the story also affected people very much. Awesome! But, this is where it gets tricky. The show needs to be 60-minutes in Edinburgh due to a tight schedule – not only for the venue, but for the audience who makes great efforts to see as many shows as they can. The show can be 65-minutes for the May run in NYC, but I need to cut about 10 full minutes of material. This is also called “murdering your babies.” Where is that merciless red pen?

Thanks to the feedback in Buffalo, I have a good idea of what to cut; but also, what to add or clarify. I learned that diction is vital. Water is a must. And the silences in the show are just as important as the rants. Also, throwing bags of British crisps at the audience creates a feeding frenzy that adds a whole minute to the running time. CUT!

In the next four weeks before opening, I’ll work with my director John Clancy on editing the show down and finding all the beats and moments. In addition to that, 500 postcards have been ordered, interviews with press are on the way, plans for my Rockethub crowd-funding campaign are moving forward and this writer has to put down the pen and become the performer.

If you are doing a new show, try the thing out. Small clubs, in front of a friend, anywhere you can before you open. Funny, this is exactly what we didn’t do with Desperately Seeking Susan. Next time, we must try out a new show in Buffalo! xo PMM

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