Wednesday, May 1, 2013

No Business Like It

Six weeks ago I never heard of the guy. I had an appointment to work on my web page, in order to update, and as they say, "optimize" it to build traffic and interest would-be buyers of my books. I knew the name of the company because I had been to a meeting in its office on Main Street in Rosendale, but the meeting was about fund-raising for the impressive Rosendale Theatre Collective.

I didn't even know how to pronounce his name, Doug Motel. ("Mottle"? "Moedle"? Surely not "Motel," like the Holiday Inn.) We spent an hour getting to know each other, with him learning my website and struggling with its host (which, I already knew from other tech experts, is extremely user-UNfriendly), and with me learning even more than I wanted to know about HTML, buttons, clicks, and Google Analytics. At the end of the session I had a grasp of what needed to be done, and was ready to do some more. He mentioned that he was going to do a show as part of the fund-raising for the Theatre Collective.

I thought, "Well, that's nice," but still didn't think of him as an actor. He's very bright, exudes what we now call positive energy, and I looked forward to one more session with him to work out the technical glitches in the website. I got an email from the Theatre Collective informing me that he needed people to cue him on lines for his upcoming fund-raising show. That sounded like a not-bad gig, so I signed up for the first session and the last on his schedule.

This rehearsal session was designed simply to refresh him on lines. He was holding the book and did the show with me as a one-person audience.

His performance, even with him reading most of it, knocked me out. He plays ten people--all of whom are confronting him with stories of a recent tragic incident at the Shiva Arms, a seedy Hollywood apartment-hotel, as he, Doug Motel (and it is pronounced the same as the Holiday Inn) is starting a job there. Motel the actor has a gift for accents and that rare ability to transform himself in an instant, from, say, a snobbish English lady to an Armenian father in an apartment crowded with people and a noisy dog. I swear he was even the noisy dog, even without lines. Each of the characters is three-dimensional and moving as well as fall-off-the-chair funny. There are a lot of them, and there is a point in which all of them are onstage at once.

Those of you who know me from my theatre days know this is right down my alley. It's an original, and Doug Motel is a virtuoso actor with more than his share of charisma and charm. It's going to be a hit in Rosendale and I'm going to be right there in the audience laughing it up with the rest. You'll hear more about the show, which will be May 17-18 at the Rosendale Theatre, here as we get close to the date. If you're thinking about coming, I'd suggest you buy tickets in advance for $15. They'll be $18 at the door.

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