Sunday, May 21, 2006

Erik Sitbon and Myself

Chris George and Erik Sitbon in the dressing rooms for "Jack--The Musical" -- note the red eye -- so many sleepless nights, ha ha!

My songwriting partner Erik had an astute comment when we met in Charlotte for the U.S. premiere of our show, "Jack--The Musical: The Ripper Pursued." Erik came over from France and I flew down from Baltimore for the special weekend. Erik remarked, "You know, most writers of musicals are dead, so this is special for the cast to have the composer and the lyricist here. They can't talk to someone like Jerome Kern or Cole Porter. So this is unusual for the performers. They are able to meet us and discuss the show with us."

I felt privileged to be able to witness the exceptional acting performance by Bryan Long as Thomas Dolan aka Jack the Ripper.

As noted by Thomas Fortenberry on his blog, "Center of the storm was lead actor Bryan Long (as Tom Dolan). Physically and psychologically he inhabited his character like few actors ever do. He commanded the stage and gave an outstanding and truly haunting performance." Read Thomas's full comments on his blog, link through the title of my last posting below.

And here is a photograph of the incredible Mister Long. This photograph and the above photo courtesy of Matt Kenyon, who played police divisional surgeon Dr. George Bagster Phillips (great name that! thanks, Matt!)

I Am Jack!

Tom/Jack to Betsy:

Like a knife turning in a lock
My life changed, I could not turn back
Evil became my mistress, truth an enemy
A sudden darkness divided you from me

Sin and corruption took me over
Embraced me like a sinister lover
Satan knew me: became my brother.

As the blood stained my hands
Time was an hourglass with racing sands
The stamp of policemen on my trail
The incessant beating of a hammer on a nail

Bloodhounds sniff at my trail, in a lather
Suddenly my life seems to be over
A death shroud falls over me — I smother

Blood coffins me, I begin to choke
Everyday life’s receded, become a joke
Existence has turned sour, I am on a rack
Betsy, there can be no going back:
I am Jack!

From "Jack--The Musical: The Ripper Pursued" Copyright © 2000–2002 by Christopher T. George and Erik Sitbon. Read an excerpt from the show published in the May issue of Fireweed -- link through the title above.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ripping it up in Charlotte

Photographs of the weekend of "Jack" in Charlotte follow soon but meanwhile you can get an idea of how my weekend went by following the link above that will take you to Thomas Fortenberry's blog. Thank you, Thomas for writing up your impressions of our show! Yes it was a great weekend. Bryan Long who plays Jack gives a bravura performance. As with any new production, obviously we have some things to work on but for the show never having had a full-scale production until now it performed well.

A poem on the fly as it were--

Leaving Charlotte

In a black limo like a Mafia staff car,
I am swept past Fat Boy's Lube Shop
and the Love of God Ministry:
playwright on the wing

memorialized in triumphant
tableau in backstage stairwell
with my Victorian cast, each actor armed
with digital camera, my visit officially sanctified.

Now AirTran crams me into a last row windowseat
without a window, the whining jet engine bores
into my brain. I nibble baby pretzels,
suck on a miniature Tanqueray gin.

Christopher T. George

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tap Dancing to Charlotte

No, I don't play and that isn't my handbag back there. Chris in the Charlotte studio of Actors Scene Unseen last month. Photograph by James Vita.

Tap Dancing to Charlotte

The shoe-repairer taps on heel-savers
front and back on my Cole-Haan loafers,
now I can tap-dance my way to Charlotte
for the opening of my musical on "Jack."

In the airport, a handicapped lady taps
the floor with her black cane like a doc
with a stethoscope, a blind man uses white
stick to probe the air with a thermometer.

A dust bunny dances across the mosaic floor
then a maintenance man taps it into a dustpan.
And there's a dandelion parasol cozying up to me,
brushing against me like a cat, then gets caught

in the updraft of the ceiling fans, rising higher higher,
and my mind is going with it, soaring toward the heavens:
absolutely no upper limit, nothing for me to do except
keep dancing, keep moving, never stop my feet dancing.

Christopher T. George

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cutting the Pages of a Hundred-year-old Text

I slip the knife between another sleeve of pages
to cut where no blade has cut and reveal
secrets hidden from all eyes.

I feel the gold inlaid title on the green leather spine,
the text's crisp fine linen paper, sharp handset letters,
and woodblock engravings. Mmmmmm,

Bach's "Air on a G String" plays
on the turntable. Now! I have a poetry contest to judge,
a book to write. Yes, yet another book to write! Ah,

I know it, the world awaits breathless.

Christopher T. George

As an explanation, apart from my full-time work as a medical editor in Washington, D.C., my upcoming musical, etc., I am working on the Bicentennial History of the St. Andrew's Society of Baltimore so I am knee-deep in men with kilts. Hope though to wrap up the final draft of the work shortly as the Society wishes to have the book out this year, their Bicentennial year. The organization was founded by immigrant Scotsmen at the Fountain Inn in Baltimore City on November 26, 1806, the founding president being Robert Gilmor I, born in Paisley, Scotland, and a leading merchant and banker.

Fuldrum Contest Winner

Hi everyone

Many congratulations to Lisa Cohen who is the winner of the fuldrum contest just ended on this blog.

Lisa's winning poem is as follows:

Stephen Biko;
Hope is a Lazarus, your murder
a resurrection, hatred's reflection.
You live.

Lisa explains, "I introduced my kids to Peter Gabriel's song 'Biko' and they wanted to know what it was about. It's hard to believe it's been nearly 20 years since his murder."

Congratulations also to the other entrants in the contest who write some very interesting fuldrums making my decision a very hard one.

As promised, Lisa has won a signed copy of the promo CD of the musical by songwriting partner, Erik Sitbon and myself, "Jack--The Musical" being performed in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 13 and 14 next (link through the title above).

Incidentally, the CD of the Charlotte production will be available shortly and details are below.

Photography by Rita AmirAhmadi

U.S.A. Premiere
Jack – The Musical
The Ripper Pursued

USA Premiere Cast Album to be released and on-sale the day of the first show (May 13, 2006)

Featuring the All-Star Cast of

Bryan Long as Thomas Dolan
Lauren Konen as Betsy Dolan
Jason Barney as Alfred Corner
Brooke Boling as Mary Kelly
Robert W. Haulbrook as “The Boss”
Micah McDade as George Lusk
Tara Farrar as Annie Chapman
John Troutman as Inspector Abberline
James Lane as Sir Charles Warren
Stefany Northcutt as Polly Nichols
Louis Webster as Young Thomas Dolan


Inga Draper, Matt Kenyon,
Jonathan McDonald, Melissa McRae,
and Caleb Newman

Book and Lyrics by

Christopher T. George and Erik Sitbon

Music by Eric Sitbon

Music Direction by Lauren Konen

Stage Direction by Elizabeth Peterson-Vita
Lighting Design by Rita AmirAhmadi

May 13 & 14, 2006

2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Duke Power Theatre, Spirit Square
345 N. College Street, Charlotte, NC

On Sale Now!

Actors Scene Unseen (SEEN) presents its fully costumed and staged production of Jack – The Musical. In the autumn of 1888, the city of London was gripped with terror by a serial killer whose deeds have become legendary. Jack - The Musical tells the story of one possible conclusion to the enduring mystery of this most famous of unsolved cases. Jack - The Musical features the haunting music of Erik Sitbon and the evocative lyrics of Christopher T. George. After the Saturday performances (May 13, 2006), stay for a talk–back with the author and composer who will be attending the performances from Baltimore, Maryland, and France, respectively. These performances are live only and will not be broadcast.