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The People In My Imaginary TeeVee

You've probably seen this meme around. I wasn't going to do it, but caved under the influence of melyanna's awesome title, No Sheep For You. And she gave me "An underfunded, disaster-prone theater company."

That was a week ago. Fast-forward through holiday fun and the back burner of the brain simmering up something that would be (a) not too much of a Slings & Arrows clone and (b) not too autobiographical.

The meme:

1. Ask and I'll assign you the basis of some show idea.
2. Create the characters you need, including the actors who'd play them. Photos optional but recommended.
3. Come up with a general synopsis of the premise.

My pretend TV show:

Upon the Wicked Stage

[You knew I had to call it that...]

An hourlong drama with plenty of room for snark and heart, chronicling the triumphs, tragedies, and general misadventures of a struggling theatre in the not-so-trendy Lake Michigan resort town of Silver Falls.

Silver Falls Repertory Theatre has been a fixture at the Jenny Lind Opera House for nearly fifty years. (Jenny Lind never actually performed in the current structure, built in 1928. Or even in the one it replaced, which was was a great triumph for the coalition of townspeople who raised enough money to build it but not to convince P.T. Barnum to actually make it a stop on her tour. Over a century later, their planning hasn't improved much.)

For over half its existence, the Rep was run by the eccentric and much-beloved Dr. Jim Hargrove during summer breaks from nearby Milton College, where he was a senior professor in the theatre department. When "Doc" suffered a fatal stroke during the season kickoff party two summers ago, it seemed for a while that the Rep would die with him. Audiences had been greying and dwindling for years, and nobody was clamoring to step into his shoes.

Then the alumni showed up for his funeral, and, fueled by nostalgia and martinis, resolved that the Rep could not be allowed to go gently into that good night. And, in a thoroughly impressive show of mature and rational decision-making, they drew straws.

Theresa Finley lost. Or won. She's still not totally sure which.

Regulars:



Theresa Finley (Kate Hodge)

Two decades ago, Theresa spent three summers at the Rep, the starting point of a very respectable stage career that carried her through several seasons at Steppenwolf, half a dozen national tours and a memorable six months off-Broadway that involved fake blood in unexpected places, the best physical condition of her life, and a scrapbook full of glowing reviews. When she drew the short straw at Duffy's Bar, nobody expected her to take the vow seriously in the morning - least of all herself.

Then she walked out on stage and looked up into the old house, and saw the kids from the current season gathered around Doc's grave. The next day, she was in front of the board of trustees, convincing them to give her the reins. Two years later, she's still here, hanging onto sanity by teeth and toenails.

She wouldn't have it any other way. Mostly.




Jeff Pak (Will Yun Lee)

Bank manager by day, theatre buff by night, Jeff just might be the Rep's hero. The hero they didn't know they needed until Jeff transferred to Silver Falls, got drafted onto the board three weeks after volunteering as an usher, and took a gander at the company's books.

Even though he'd love to give all these crazy creative people free rein (and heck, maybe even run with them), he's cast himself as the heavy. They'll thank him next season when they (hopefully) haven't had to close their doors. Or maybe they won't. If being the party pooper everyone hates is what it takes, that's what he'll do.

If the theatre folds, there'll be nothing to hold Theresa in Silver Falls. And Jeff's starting to get an inkling that it's not just their mutual passion for keeping the old place alive that's got him hanging out in her office every chance he gets.




Erica Finley (Gina Holden)

This summer, for the first time in six years, the town has ponied up enough budget for a musical. Which means the Rep needs a choreographer... and it just so happens that Theresa's little sister needs a job. It's a bit of an adjustment from her last gig, as muse to her genius choreographer ex-boyfriend and star of the company he started... and then drove into the ground. All after they had both broken their contracts with a major ballet company in a spectactularly bridge-burning manner.

What nobody has told the board is that the "artistic temperament" demonstrated in said bridge-burning was largely cocaine-inspired. Unlike the mostly blue-haired board, however, the mostly college-age company hangs out on message boards and knows how to use Google. Erica's walking a tightrope and she knows it, and some days she just wants to hide in the bathtub. Most days, though, she's determined to prove she can be a grownup for a change, especially to Theresa.

She might not be that good at it -- just ask anyone who heard that shriek of "I was NEVER a crack whore!!" from the dance studio -- but she's trying.




Marci Kaplansky (Ali Liebert)

Growing up in Silver Falls, while all her friends were spending their summers at the beach and itching to get away to the big city, Marci went with her grandmother to every single show at the Rep and dreamed of starring on its stage. She apprenticed every year of high school, painting sets and mending curtains. (They gave her a needle and thread without asking her if she knew how to use them, so she's literally put a bit of her blood into the old place.) This summer, after her junior year at Milton, that dream has finally been realized in spades. Now comes the reality of learning three lead roles on an express schedule, avoiding falling into the orchestra pit (do it once in high school, and people never let you forget), and giving the lie to the people whispering that her leading-lady status is due more to Grandma being president of the board than to Marci's own ability.

The whispers are wrong -- she's a little rough around the edges, but the most talented kid Theresa's seen in years -- but Marci's going to be working her butt off to prove it. Cheerful and energetic, if a little klutzy and sometimes overexuberant, she's up to the challenge.




Trent Grady (Michael Welch)

This summer's leading man is a Milton student, but he's pre-med, not theatre. Headed into his senior year, he figures this is his last chance at a lark before med school and residency devour the better part of the next decade. Much to everyone's annoyance, a lark is exactly what he's treating it like -- late for rehearsals, hung over, and generally not taking the work seriously. Unfortunately, guys are at a premium, and while he has an understudy, actually using him will require some painful reshuffling. Theresa's hoping she can whip him into shape before that has to happen.

That hope isn't entirely unfounded. The arrogance is mostly fear -- that the future he's planned for as long as he can remember isn't the right one, and that he's not good enough to do this job right if he does take it seriously.

Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Maybe Theresa has made a mistake. Nobody will know until he tries.




Grace Kalani (Miracle Laurie)

Five years after graduating from Milton, while her classmates are moving on to either bigger and better things or other careers entirely, Grace is back at the Rep for another summer. She's still young; her back can still take the battered boarding-house mattress. And the latest blonde young thing still needs an onstage sidekick. Grace is sure she can even be nice to her offstage.

This'll be the year. This fall, she'll get hired for something besides her mom's hula show at a slightly shabby Polynesian restaurant in Pontiac. Blonde young things come and go. Grace is one of a kind. There has to be somebody out there other than Theresa who values that. She professes outwardly to be sure of that, but her self-esteem is quietly taking a beating.


Recurring:



Tyrrell Gillespie (Shemar Moore)

Erica's ex. Brilliant, creative, hot like burning, and hopelessly selfish and immature. Genuinely cares about Erica and wants her to succeed, but has yet to figure out that their relationship is toxic to an epic degree. Claims to be sober, probably isn't, with confirmation reserved for an "event" episode (probably during sweeps, around Moore's Criminal Minds schedule).




Ruth Kaplansky (Barbara Barrie)

President of the board for over fifteen years. Marci's very proud grandmother. Knows more about the history of the Jenny Lind Opera House than anyone alive. Better than anyone at buttonholing patrons and getting contributions. Completely hopeless with numbers and money. Scares the bejeebers out of each year's new crop of apprentices and young actors by popping out of the secret door in the green room.




Albert Stotz (Dan Castellaneta)

Tech director, stage manager and handyman-by-default. Doesn't say much. What he does say is either completely practical or a headscratchy non-sequitur.

So... I suspect that, like lyssie, I will find that the hardest part is coming up with premises for others. But I'll give it a shot if you're game.

Tags:

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
brainiacfive
Jan. 1st, 2010 07:10 am (UTC)
No, not too autobiographical! Just a little from column A, and a little from column B... :)

Inspired casting with Kate, btw.
wiliqueen
Jan. 1st, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
There's so much I could have put in and didn't! And most of it really is whole cloth.

Kate needs a lead again!
driftingatdusk
Jan. 1st, 2010 11:39 am (UTC)
Oh my, I didn't recognise Michael Welch at first - he's grown up! And I'd totally watch this, too.

I'm game for a go!
wiliqueen
Jan. 1st, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC)
He has indeed! That was probably the one I had the most trouble with -- my viewing diet has lots of awesome young actresses, but interesting young guys are a little thin on the ground or possibly I just don't notice them.

Hmmm... A superstar Wall Street trader walks away from the floor and opens a doggie daycare.
(no subject) - driftingatdusk - Jan. 1st, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Jan. 1st, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - maiac - Jan. 3rd, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
wiliqueen
Jan. 1st, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Early season commentary
I love you a lot.

Wanna play, or are you just being clever and entertaining here?
(Deleted comment)
Re: Early season commentary - wiliqueen - Jan. 1st, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Early season commentary - irish_horse - Jan. 1st, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: Early season commentary - wiliqueen - Jan. 19th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
mari4212
Jan. 1st, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
Ooh, this is nice!
wiliqueen
Jan. 1st, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :-D
freifraufischer
Jan. 1st, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
I don't know most of the actors you've chosen, but I like the way you've handled the concept. And I started giggling inappropriately at "I was NEVER a crack whore!!"
wiliqueen
Jan. 1st, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
Most of them are people I adore who need better gigs soonest.

I was going to do a "most memorable line" for each person, but that was the only one ringing indignantly in my head. I started with "Gina needs a role that finally uses her dance background," and then it went places I didn't expect. Which I suspect is true of this meme for most of us, and what makes it fun. :-D
(no subject) - freifraufischer - Jan. 1st, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Jan. 1st, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
shadowmaat
Jan. 1st, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
Iiiiiiinteresting. And I wanna give it a try! *bounces* Of course you did set the bar a bit on the high side, but hey, no pressure, right? LOL!
wiliqueen
Jan. 1st, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
If you think that, you haven't seen some of the others!

Hmmm... Tabloid-fodder Hollywood party kids are secretly a superhero team.
irish_horse
Jan. 1st, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
Hmm... portions of this sound rather familiar... ;D

I'd watch it. You should totally pitch it to Bravo or HBO.
wiliqueen
Jan. 1st, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
Don't think I'm not tempted. If I had a Time-Turner... *wry g*
ivan23
Jan. 1st, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)
This is great! Loved going through it.
wiliqueen
Jan. 2nd, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks! This is the most fun meme to come along in ages, though of course it's also a timesuck...
ariestess
Jan. 2nd, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
*heh* This sounds like my kind of show!
wiliqueen
Jan. 2nd, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
If only we could make all of these!
(no subject) - ariestess - Jan. 2nd, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
maiac
Jan. 3rd, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
I immediately thought of Slings and Arrows, too.

"Jenny Lind Opera House" is an inspired name, and I love the story behind it.

Anything with Barbara Barrie will be wonderful.
wiliqueen
Jan. 3rd, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
"Jenny Lind Opera House" is an inspired name, and I love the story behind it.

The random information floating around in my head has the oddest uses. There really were/are a number of theatres and concert halls across the country built on spec when she did the Barnum tour.

The S&A comparison would be inevitable, I think. :-D
tricksterquinn
Jan. 3rd, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
Oh man, this meme is a bit of brilliant! Very cool. :D

I'd love a premise, if you're still handing them out.
wiliqueen
Jan. 3rd, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
Absolutely!

For you... um... Leadership program for troubled teens. In space.
(no subject) - tricksterquinn - Jan. 3rd, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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