The Pictures: The ineffable Michael Silverblatt of Bookworm at KCRW-FM; rehearsal at Royce Hall; Kathy Kurinsky and some of her decorations; the Powers behind the Scenes: Denise Leader Stoeber, Phoebe Larmore, Kathy Kurinsky, Jennifer Porzio (who works with Phoebe); Celeste Cuilla, “Toby;” Katie McNichol, “Ren;” Mark Bramhall, “Adam One” – and Katie; Mark, me, Celeste; The SONOS singers; Ted Perlman, me, Nelson Bragg; Peggy Blue and Ted; the three Mole-A-Teers; The Sign of the Mole.
Orville, Nelson, Ted, and SONOS will all be in New York at Symphony Space on October 27.
October 8: I tottered off the plane from Seattle and was driven immediately to Michael Silverblatt’s KCRW-FM Bookworm underground enclave at Santa Monica College. After reminiscing about the Santa Monica Earthquake and catching up on changes – Michael’s show is now national, and he’s even been O Magazined – we did the always –pleasurable show. (Http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/…/excerpt-from-the-year-of-the-flood.) Then we did a phone interview with WIRED Magazine, one of my regular reads, (www.wired.com/underwire/tag/margaret-atwood) and then a stop at Mahalo with Marc Jeffrey and Bibliotech (Hint: the library you see in the background isn’t real). For more on Marc and Mahalo, see the Glone and Mail West Coast Tech blog at (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/atwood-on-tour).
Then, tottering even more, I was deposited at my literary agent Phoebe Larmore’s house in Venice. Phoebe had not only produced the CD of the Gardener Hymns, but had been assembling the bits & pieces for the Los Angeles Event, with the help of Jennifer Porzio, Denise Leader Stoeber—who’s been helping with CD distribution – and Kathy Kurinsky, Orville’s sister, who flew down from Chicago to put together the onstage visuals. The actors were assembled for a read-through: Katie McNichol (Ren) and Mark Bramhall (Adam One), who are two of the voices on the Random Audiobook, and Celeste Cuilla, who with Katie had just been doing Shakespeare at the Old Globe in San Diego. As for Mark, he’d just finished reading a sword-and-sorcery for audio, in which he’d played all the voices – dragons too, and even the ghost of a dragon. Now how do they do that?
Phoebe took one look at my tottery state and filled me full of Vitamin B12, and after the read-through Kathy dished up some nourishing vegetable soup. Then I got deposited at the Orlando Hotel. There was a bus parked outside with the slogan: I HOPE THEY SERVE BEER IN HELL.
What made us all think that this is a hotel frequented by rock bands? Almost everyone I met in the elevator looked that way, even though they weren’t.
The next day was less stressful: lunch with my long-standing ICM agent, Ron Bernstein, elegantly dressed as always in not only vintage, but Vintage vintage (“Darling, there is a difference!”) How did I miss taking a picture of him? Dunno. Too tottery.
Then rehearsals, with singer Peggy Blue – Ted Perlman’s partner – helping with the stage placement and general morale. The Royce Hall lighting and sound techs were brilliant: sound was finely adjusted, and the light changed colours subtly to match the mood onstage.
Then came the show. Celese as Toby was warm, strong, and intense, Katie –looking eerily like Bette Davis – a convincingly half-naif Ren, and Mark a fervent but also eldritch Adam One. The a capella Sonos Singers –three men, three women, all recent UCLA grads, just back from a tour and with a CD of their own, gave it their melodious all, with Orville Stoeber playing and singing too.
The two musicians on the CD – Ted Perlman on base guitar and Nelson Bragg on percussion – added a whole new dimension. They admitted they hadn’t grasped the concept when Orville first layed the music on them – hadn’t read the book yet. “What’s all this Mole stuff?” they’d asked. “Why are you singing about weeds?” But they’ve got it now, and a secret Mole-A-Teer Society appears to be forming around them. In the last picture, you can see them making The Sign of the Mole.