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News of Midnight Insanity and the Art Theater of Long Beach, CA - RHPS.org News — LiveJournal

Aug. 10th, 2006

11:04 am - News of Midnight Insanity and the Art Theater of Long Beach, CA

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From Mark Tomaino:

Dear friends in the RHPS community.

I really want you all to know that we as a cast, and I personally, appreciate all of the good vibes and warm thoughts on our departure from the Art theater. Most cast do not return from this kind of departure and we had done it once already leaving the Balboa in 92.

A few years ago I approached the owner of the Art about the possibility of him selling the theater, since I knew a new owner might have his own ideas. I asked him to sell me the theater and let me rent the building. Unfortunately, he wanted to sell it together as one, and that made it a little out of reach, though he assured me that any sale would include RHPS. It did. Except that the pending sale (if it goes through) would have only included us until the prospective owner got zoning for a concert venue.

As there are apartments next door, as well as no parking, that is not likely but in the process of making the sale he asked me to move our props out, and told us that we could not store them. This means we would have had to rent a 26 foot truck weekly, and break the backs of our cast loading in and out stuff that CAN NOT go in and out, so we would have had to sacrifice some of our main props. In addition, he wanted us to get our own insurance policy. He talked of raising ticket prices, and if that did not cover the insurance we would have to foot the bill. So, we were faced with having a watered down show, charging more money and the possibility of being homeless if he got his zoning change. We had to decide; keep performing and deal with it? Just close the show and hope for the best?

Well, regardless of that we had to move stuff out that weekend, so we did. Some of the stuff we had to destroy, and we did not have enough storage for some of the things we need. We saved the props, though some had to be disassembled to get them out...but things like the sleds that we use to move props on and off the stage had to be destroyed. Some things could not go back into the theater.

What a night. We had our last show at the Art on a Thursday night with only three days notice. We drew almost 300 people. Some from our old Balboa cast and some from other casts (Thanks for being there Sins and AZ that meant so much to us).

After the show, we worked and some audience members stayed until 7AM watching and helping us tear down the 16x18 four foot high stage we built in 1992…no permits, no architects, just cast members. Still, that thing stood for almost 15 years, went through many resurfacings and repaints, and we had to keep shimming underneath as the theater floor kept sinking. We gave pieces of the stage away, and the audience started having people sign their own little piece.

I was so disgusted at the amount of work it took to get our stuff out that I spoke to the cast and they agreed that it's better to have no home than jack up the price on a watered down show. I told them I would rent the ballroom at the Seaport Marina when it was available and we would have some shows there while we searched for another venue. I felt we had to do something to keep the audience entertained, or risk losing them altogether, so I made a deal for the rights to the film, as the Art gave up their print, bought a digital projector and into the ballroom we went.

We didn't have all of our props, but at least we were doing the show on our own terms. We did not lose the Art as much as the Art lost us. I visited a theater in the local mall...one at the promenade in downtown Long Beach, met with Regal Edwards and called high school and junior high auditoriums. Some I would have to wait until school came back in session to speak to the people in charge. AUGUST 5 was our first night at the Marina Seaport, and the question was: will the experiment work?

I did not know if we would get 35 people or what, or how much of a difference it would make to move to a hotel. How hard was it going to be to sell tickets ourselves as well as run concessions selling candy and soda and merchandise? How hot would it be? How about crowd control while there is a dance club just downstairs with a bunch of drinking going on? Well we got the room set up, made a makeshift dressing area, (thank god the projector did the job) our people unloaded my van and Suburban which still sits full of stuff. Other cast members arrived with our regular show stuff stowed in cars and trucks.

Colleen made a new monitor board to get us by that looked like something out of Caligari, and we let everyone in. We allowed extra time for dancing (since it is Club Rocky) and we started the show. We filled every seat and then some. Our audience was about ten percent larger than we have been averaging this past year at the Art, and it has been going well there. We did a little better than break even which I consider a miracle, taking into account the hall rental, security and fees for film rights.

The consensus was that the place worked really well. There is a balcony overlooking the yachts at the back of the house where people could go smoke...it was ample and people hung out and played cards and talked. The audience inside was lively and lots of virgins came. We had wall to wall virgins. Everyone had the greatest time. Many people said it felt like a mini convention. So, we consider stage one of wandering in the wilderness a success. Again...thank you to all who had so many kind things to say and words of support. This Saturday we are doing a club night at the hotel without the film...just dancing, weird videos, and a three dollar cover to help offset the cost of the room.

Unfortunately, on August 19th the hall is reserved, so we are dark. August 26th we have the hall reserved, and we were scheduled to do another show at the Seaport...but our plans...are to be changed..................

The Grunion Gazette, a local newspaper circulated in downtown Long Beach, as well as various other newspapers, ran articles on their front page. A man saw the article in the Grunion, and contacted the reporter who gave him my information, and he called me for a meeting last Saturday morning. He showed me a room with a professional stage that is big enough to hold our normal audience. It has a beautiful proscenium that arcs over the stage, and lovely velvet curtains and coliseum style seats. He spoke of wondrous things, like concessions that include hot food like pizza and hot dogs. He said we could do two shows a week, or two shows a night, and that he would bring in more eople for the early show. He hinted at a beer and wine reception before the show (we will still not allow drunks). He took me to another nearby place that looks like a football stadium and showed me where there is a company building a huge arena type theater, with a monster rear projection screen that we could use for our shows, sometimes or all the time. He showed me indoor storage...acres and acres of indoor storage. And he mentioned free parking, as far as the eye could see. It was a place with cool breezes and breathtaking views, with freeway signs that take you directly there, where there is so much to do and so much to see. And all without ever leaving Long Beach.

On August 26th 2006 at midnight, Midnight Insanity will be opening their new home. From now on every Saturday we will be performing in the Royal Theater aboard the Queen Mary.

See our website for directions, details and more. This is rapidly unfolding on Wednesday afternoon. We should have all details up by Friday if they are not there yet.

Thanks Bernie for betting on me. Taking you to Vegas with me : ) You said on the ng that you took the under on 30 days and the 25th will be 29 days. Amy thanks for believing we would end up in a better place. We could not have hoped for a better resolution than this.

God Save the Queen!
(Free MI T Shirt to best AP Queen line sent to mark@midnightinsanity.com)

Thanks for listening
Mark Tomaino

http://www.midnightinsanity.com/