Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Toy Theatre Salon

Painting by Jill Hoy

Jill Hoy created an extraordinary painting of a real-life event.  It shows a toy theatre performance that took place in a private home to a group of invited guests.  In fact, it was a full-blown dinner theatre.  A quite rare event, so a very special occasion to all those in attendance.

I recently spoke to Jill to ask her how the painting came to be.  She shared with me how "...the salons are a very rich environment for everyone - the diverse mix of people, including professors and artists who are friends of the family and invited to a dinner theatre in their home."  A dinner theatre of the small.  "It's total magic!  All the different voices for all the play's characters, all the songs sung, all done by David."

That would be David Lewis Worobec, the man behind it all.

Jill Hoy wanted to create a painting that captured the camaraderie of one of these events, all held in David's home.  The focal point of the painting is David.  He is in mid-performance far right in the back, the lights from the stage illuminating him from below.  Joy herself can be seen doing some sketching of the scene before her - sketches that she would later paint - just below the figure of David.  "The owl is a symbol of David's mother," Jill added.

I asked David to share what the salons have meant to him.

"The salons mean a lot to me. The only way that they've changed, is we are now in Portland, ME. We started doing these toy theater dinner salons in Chestnut Hill in Brookline, MA. Doing the voices of the characters just comes naturally I guess. I've been doing it for a very long time."

How long? "About five years."  I then asked what he's learned by doing toy theatre performance:
"Learned? Well, if I have it's this:  In live theatre anything can happen. Even when dealing with toy theater. There was one instance during an old production of SOUTH PACIFIC. I couldn't find one of Emile's children. So I improvised a line: 'I don't know what happened to your sister.'  But in the new production of SOUTH PACIFIC, the characters are taller, and the two children are stuck together so it's easy to find them! 
"Behind the scenes, there was the time when preparing the last show I did at my old house in Chestnut Hill, where the painting was done, and my friend Anne Maguire and I did SWEENEY TODD in a week. During the final rehearsal, we just kept laughing because we were so tired. 
"I mean, all the shows I do are exhausting. Even if I'm doing the show with someone else. Especially shows that have no spoken dialogue like Les Miserables or Jesus Christ Superstar."
I told him I was amazed that he could do it, but he does!  "I shock myself sometimes," he laughed, "that I can do this.  But it's a lot of fun, exhausting though it may be."

He said the next show at their home will be JEKYLL & HYDE on November 15, 2014, "...which is fast approaching and seats are going fast! It'll be a my toy theater revival production. I haven't done it in years! I was having trouble deciding, for the title role, should he be played by two figures or one?"  He decided to have Jekyll & Hyde played by one figure.  I told him I liked that idea of portraying the horror, the evil coming from within, versus the physical change as some have done it.

He explained, "Mom and I just need to add a wig on the Jekyll figure - That's how it is done in the musical; he has his hair back when he's Jekyll, then forward and crazy when he's Hyde."

While we all cannot attend these salons, the next best thing is to check out David's SoundCloud.

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