365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

T-shirt #125: Hair and the Barn Theatre

T-shirt #125: Hair and the Barn Theatre... no wait, TARZAN

Photo Courtesy Laura Girolami
I review theatrical productions for the Battle Creek Enquirer. In ancient times (as in long ago), I wrote for the Kalamazoo Gazette, also, and before that, The Western Herald and The Kalamazoo College Index. But my longest tenure has been with the Battle Creek Enquirer, which is a Gannett company, meaning that it is owned by the same company that owns USA Today.

I am updating (1307.25) now that my review has come out. Though Gannett may have a limited number of views widget.


As of next year (2014), I will have been writing for the Enquirer for 20 years. Though I have done some hard news here and there for them, mostly I do reviews of theatrical productions at local theaters, such as The Barn Theatre, The Marshall Civic Players, What A Do Theatre, Cornwell's Turkeyville Dinner Theatre, the Great Escape Theatre, and up until recently, The Tibbits Summer Theatre, though I have now begged off due to the long drive.

I first explored the topic of theatre and my favourite musicals in T-shirt #91 and Jesus Christ Superstar. Another musical in my top five is Hair as seen here, though I do not know it so well that when executive producer Brendan Ragotzy quoted from it last night upon seeing my shirt I did not recognize it right away. So shameful.

I only have one Barn T-shirt (though I also own a polo shirt with the Barn logo), which is the one featured here promoting the Barn's 2005 production of Hair, which is Brendan Ragotzy's favorite musical of all time. I wore my shirt last night to the theatre when I was sent by the paper to review the Barn's latest production, Tarzan. And though this is Disney's Tarzan adapted from the animated movie and featuring music by Phil Collins, for some odd reason, the Barn is not allowed to call it "Disney's Tarzan," even though they produced Aida, which had to be called Disney's Aida and Beauty and the Beast, among others, likewise named.

The Barn Theatre has been around since 1946, when it opened in Richland's Village Hall as the Richland Village Players. Once the Ragotzys managed to buy an old barn and renovate it, the theater moved to Augusta in 1949 where it has been ever since, offering summer stock theater for local residents and others who make the drive to visit this historic landmark. In the old days (say 1960), the summer season could consist of as many as ten shows! These days the Barn offers six-seven shows, with one every two weeks, and sometimes a late add-on final show for a short run of one week only.

The Barn uses professional actors and is considered an Equity Theatre, the trade union for thespians, in which candidates need so many hours to receive their official Equity Card, and so the larger company is often filled with Equity Candidates, usually college students or recent grads working to earn their cards.

Photo Courtesy Laura Girolami
The Barn has a history of tackling productions few (or no) regional theatres have yet to tackle, such as last season's Monty Python's Spamalot and Legally Blonde as well as original productions, such as Ragotzy and Troy Benson's Raunch and Roll. The Barn also has productions that are perennial returners and favorites of its patrons, such as The Rocky Horror Show, Escanaba in da Moonlight, and farces (both British and American), such as those written by Brit Ray Cooney or American playwrights Larry Shue and Ken Ludwig. This season the Barn is tackling three productions not yet produced by regional theaters or produced by only a few, including Tarzan, Shrek, and Young Frankenstein.

It was not that long ago that the Barn Theatre packed in so many patrons that it had to extend its run on popular shows, often ones starring famous actors who have gone on to greater success in TV and film, such as Robert Newman, Kim Zimmer, Tom Wopat, Jessica Joy Kemock, Melissa Gilbert, Marin Mazzie, Stephen Lynch, Barbara Marineau, and many others, now, also including Eric Peterson, who returned to the Barn in 2005 for this production of Hair, who toured nationally with Shrek and has recently been cast in a TV Land network situation comedy called Kirstie with Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman. Other celebrities who had their start at the Barn Theatre include Jennifer Garner and Lauren Graham.

In recent years, it has been more of a struggle to fill the seats despite the high quality entertainment offered at the Barn both on its mainstage and in its Rehearsal Shed Lounge in the three-set cabaret show that follows each mainstage performance (where they serve drinks, nachos, wings, and ICE CREAM). The Barn Theatre provides a night or afternoon of entertainment for the whole family, especially for this, 2013, season in which the theater has a lineup of family-friendly shows aimed at pleasing area audiences.

I have had the pleasure of seeing many great productions at the Barn and meeting many wonderful performers, some of whom I count as Facebook friends, such as Roy Brown, Brendan Ragotzy, Fred Gillette, Emily Fleming, Eric Parker (who did a wonderful job directing Tarzan), Jamey Grisham (wonderful as Tarzan), Penelope Alex Ragotzy (wonderful as Tarzan's mom), Troy Benton, and the aforementioned Eric Peterson. All of these folks are wonderful, but I only annotated those with a major role in Tarzan, last night's show.

I am proud to be a reviewer for a paper that sends me to see live, professional theatre in southwest Michigan.

What's the hidden message of this blog entry? The subtitle? GO SEE THE LIVE THEATRE.

Any live theatre will do, but this place, the Barn Theatre, is special.

- chris tower - 1307.24 - 11:39