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Category Archives: theatre

Building My Movie Posters Puzzle: Dracula (1931)


In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

When considering the history of any art, craft, or set of knowledge, there will invariably be works which are both hugely important, without which the entire subject may be wholly different, and undeniably flawed. I think it can be argued that Todd Browning’s 1931 version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, fits that general description. The film is undoubtedly iconic in some of its imagery and resulted in an enormous pop culture footprint that still persists today. It also possesses some genuinely fine work in its 74 minute running time. Unfortunately, the movie contains flaws that are hard to ignore. Some of these flaws are a matter of approaches not aging well, while others are simply a matter of poorly executed storytelling, both from a writing and visual point of view.

Come along, and we’ll talk a bit about both the best and worst of Dracula.
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My New Play: Advance Man – Part 1 of the Honeycomb Trilogy


Earth is dying. Humanity has looked to colonize Mars to give itself a chance of survival.
Astronaut Bill Cooke returns from the first manned mission to Mars bearing secrets and illicit cargo. Now his wife and teenage children are all that stand between Bill and a shocking action that will alter not only their lives, but also all of humanity.

Advance Man is the first part of Mac Rogers’ science fiction epic The Honeycomb Trilogy, three standalone plays set in the same universe chronicling a primal conflict – at once intimate and global – that will redefine the nature of the human race.

As some of you know I have an independent theater company called Yellow Lab Productions that puts on some shows here in Central Texas. Right now we are gearing up for our 7th show, and this one is going to be a doozy:

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Building my Movie Posters Puzzle: Frankenstein


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In late June I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Director James Whale’s 1931 production of Frankenstein continues to be one of the most iconic films in the history of cinema and helped to bring Mary Shelly’s creation to the masses in unexpected and perhaps unfortunate ways.The image of the creature animated by Dr. Frankenstein and portrayed by actor Boris Karloff was as famous as Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny more than forty years after the film’s release when I was growing up in the early 1970s. It might have receded a bit in recent years, but is still quite well known. The Whale film that kicked of the mania has its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s discuss.
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How I Became a Director: Detroit


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It’s that time of year again! After the wonderfully rewarding experience we had on “The Actor’s Double Bill” last year, the folks at GASP Theatre Company are back with a new contemporary play to shock and delight audiences in North Carolina’s Triangle area.
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Disney Songs Poll Results! #8 – “Part of Your World”


When I think of the Disney Renaissance which began with their return to the fairy tale musical form with 1989’s The Little Mermaid, this is the song which leaps to mind. If you take the time to watch the movie again it almost seems like the song transforms the company’s animation department mid-film, inspiring proceedings to a whole new level, with more lovingly rendered scenes and a whole different kind of expectations. Up to that point in The Little Mermaid, we are getting an entertaining, but mostly unremarkable tale about an irresponsible teenaged mermaid with a friend named “Flounder” who looks nothing like a flounder. Then, Ariel opens her mouth and her big eyes and sings her heart out and we are all suddenly completely on board.

But things almost didn’t turn out that way…
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Disney Songs Poll Results! #17 – “Circle of Life”


Here’s one that is surprisingly low! I actually did some fiddling around with some statistical adjustments to try to account for the popularity variations of the different groups, but nothing I tried really accomplished much to make the results any better than they naturally were. “Circle of Life” is one of two songs which ended up significantly underrated to my eye and there was one other which seemed unnaturally high. But since none of my statistical adjustments could make a real difference, we’re just going to have to call our outrage part of the fun of this poll.
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Disney Songs Poll Results! #19 – “You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!”


That’s about as iconic a bit of Disney animation you can find right there. It’s the sequence on which the entirety of their 1953 version of Peter Pan hangs. If you buy into the magic of British children taking flight and following a boy who’ll never grow up to a faraway land of enchantment while taking a very unique tour of turn of the century London, then you’ll go ahead and swallow the rest of it. Lucky for Disney they absolutely nailed the scene, communicating the wonder and exhilaration of lifting off the ground based on nothing but your own belief…and a little bit of dust from a fairy’s butt.
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Daffy Stardust Gallery

How I Became a Director: The Actor’s Double Bill


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“Well, what I really want to do is direct!”

This is an old stand-by proclamation you used to hear during interviews with actors to the point that it became a joke. The implication is that the work of an actor is limited in its seriousness, authority, skill, and intellectualism. The actor in question appeared to be attempting to assert that he possessed these qualities, and if someone would just trust him to head up a project everyone would see what a great artist he was and how much he had to say.

It is an attitude that is certainly more prevalent in film than in theatre. It may also be motivated by a wish to have a turn telling other people where to stand and what to do rather than constantly being the one pushed from place to place and forced to fit your artistic expression into somebody else’s vision. It is not a phrase anyone has ever heard pass my lips, mostly because I have too much respect for the work of acting.
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Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: Rupert Holmes


“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” is one of the biggest and most iconic soft rock hits of the late 70’s. Its smooth echo-enhanced jazzy production sent it to a 3-week stay at #1 on the Billboard charts in the U.S. in November of 1979 and made it one of those songs that caused folks who considered themselves fans of real rock ‘n’ roll to retch a little. If I wasn’t a sucker for verse-chorus-verse style songwriting, I’d probably be one of them. As it is, I could only  bear to listen to the song once while writing this article, and that was just to be sure the video I included matched what I was hoping for.

This ode to a pair of lovers who plan on cheating on one another only to find that they’d answered each other’s personals ad somehow caught on with the folks who program the music in dentists’ waiting rooms. I find it hard to believe that a real couple in this situation would find it so hilarious and romantic. It sounds more like a fast track to the end of a relationship to me.

The “Me” Generation easy listening dork with the glasses and beard to match is definitely a 1-hit wonder, right? Right?
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9 Additions for Captain America’s Catch-Up List


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One of the fun details in the new Marvel studios film Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the list he keeps in a little notebook of things acquaintances have recommended to him as necessary for bridging the gap between his dive into the icy waters of the Atlantic in the mid 1940s and his rebirth in 2011.

As you can see in the above picture, poor Steve Rogers’ friends have given him pretty inconsistent advice on the subject. Some of the items are just historical events, while others might help him get a bit of the flavor of their times. The period of time between World War II and Cap’s first movie installment contains quite a bit to digest in American history, society, and pop culture. While his list is different in the movie depending on what country you’re seeing it in, I’m going to focus entirely English-speaking selections (and since this is a pop culture blog, on the entertainments I believe will help tell the story of those 60+ years he was a “Capcicle”)
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My Production of “Equus”


Excuse me while I shamelessly self-promote.

My name is David McGuff, and I’m an actor.

Go go gadget Actor-face

Go go gadget Actor-face

It may surprise some of you to know that I’m actually a real life person with an approximation of a life. Outside of this blog I have a job in which I get paid to teach theater to youth and direct family shows. Also on the side I head up a small independent theater company that produces mature and provocative plays for the community. Yellow Lab Productions (my production company) next show will be Peter Shaffer’s Equus.

The show will be April 24-26, 7:30 PM, at the VK Garage Theater in Kerrville, TX. For more info you can check out the Kickstarter page here (or keep reading the article) where you can also help be a part of the show.

I’m producing this show, but I am an actor first, and so of course I snag myself a juicy role in every show. Read the rest of this entry

Val Kilmer in “Citizen Twain” – Review (And a Dream Come True)


This is from my experience seeing Val Kilmer’s “Citizen Twain” in April of 2013.

So, for those of you who don’t know. I’m the biggest Val Kilmer fan out there. I own his entire filmography on DVD.  Val Kilmer has been my hero since I was about 8 years old. I saw the Ghost and the Darkness and it became my favorite movie, and has remained a personal love. I watched him in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and the gag reel, and thought they looked like they were having so much fun, I had to try that out. And I did. I enrolled in an acting class and the rest is history. I’ve acted in over 15 shows the last 5 years. I’ve starred in several, and produced a couple that I’m very proud of. And I’m not even close to getting started. Acting changed my life. It allowed me to discover who I was as a person, gave my life direction, and finally allowed me to define my identity in a word: Actor. So thanks for that Val.

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