Friday, July 15, 2011

Converting All Your Sounds of Woe Into Hey, Nonny Nonny

No matter what - no matter what pain my body or voice may be in, no matter what I may be upset or flustered or anxious over, no matter what someone may have thoughtlessly said earlier in the day that my hypersensitive self may still be reacting to - everything is always better on stage. Intermission will come, and I'll be back to reality, and once the show is over, there is an entire night and day ahead of me before I do it again, but while I am on stage, I am the luckiest, the happiest, the most blessed, and the most contented girl in the world. I've been on stage or in rehearsal more days than not this year, and, obviously, not every day is a good day, or a day in which you feel like going out there and making people laugh, or putting yourself in an emotional state you know you're going to have difficulty shaking later. Those days, however, are the days when I am most grateful to be able to go out there and be completely and entirely at home, dead center stage. It's really difficult to feel lonely when you're transparent in front of your fellow actors and an entire audience of witnesses.

This last time through BOEING BOEING, I woke up one morning to an incredibly personally upsetting email. I joke about how much I cry, but honestly, I mainly cry (or used to, anyway) at the theatre or on someone else's behalf. This email...I ugly cried for four hours. When I stopped crying, I was a zombie, and could barely focus on speaking to my castmates without losing it. That night at the show...I cried as I was about to enter, I cried immediately after exiting, I cried doing my quick changes...but on stage...It was reaffirmed for me that once I was on stage, I was in the safest place in the world. For me. I had to go out there and make people laugh when I was in the closest thing to emotional agony I have ever experienced, but it was glorious, and helped me to begin to heal, right there. Luckily, Gretchen is an incredibly volatile, passionate woman, and so I thanked myself for the years I've spent working on my technique (so that I could let myself feel that deeply in front of people without losing control of my voice, or crying when it was inappropriate, etc), and threw myself into her. A couple of the actors I spent the most time on stage with said that my performance wasn't markedly different, but that I had a fire behind my eyes like NEVER before (and I am usually described as a pretty intense performer). I was so humbled to be granted the gift of being on stage that night, of having to go outside myself and my little problems.

I've been a bit sad the last week or so. It makes sense - I lost a wonderful friend to cancer on Monday, which was devastating, and I'm hitting the point in the contract when all of my shows are open, but everyone else is still rehearsing (or at least busier), and I'm feeling a bit lost, like I have to find things to productively fill the time. For some reason, this vague melancholy is pestering me for a couple of hours every day (perhaps the epic Russian novel I'm working my way through is adding to that...though I'm pretty sure reading Tolstoy has only the opposite affect on me). I was feeling a little down before the show tonight, and realized, about two numbers in, that I was happy - joyful, in fact, and it was purely because I was on stage, playing, invested in GODSPELL and what we were all creating together. It is such a relief to be able to step on stage, see the audience, and live in that world for a few hours. I think it every day, and I will say it here: I love, love, love, LOVE my job.

Art. It's good for what ails ya.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Little Pick-Me-Up

It's been a long week of GODSPELL tech. On days such as today, I like to remind myself of things that make me happy in order to counteract the exhaustion and any frustration I might feel (my voice is tired - I get frustrated when it doesn't do exactly what I want it ta do). Because when I like something, I want everyone to know about it, I shall link and share these things with you.

Alfie Boe singing just about anything. I find this video stunning and charming. Obviously, watch all of his Val Jean stuff as well. Unreal.

Hipster Animals - This tumblr is AMAZING. I have been following it since Day 1, and am addicted to it. Dyna Moe, who also did the art for MAD MEN YOURSELF, started it in March or so. Get into it.

Murder, She Wrote - It streams on Netflix. All of it. Obsessed. Angela Lansbury has been a personal hero of mine for many years. I want to play Mame and Mrs. Lovett so desperately! I wish that JB would occasionally be incorrect, but really, Jessica Fletcher can do no wrong.

WHAT THE BUCK SHOW - Michael Buckley is the greatest of all YouTubers. I'm not really into celebrity gossip, but I love Buck's videos. He is hilarious in every post, and a great Twitter follow as well. I watch him regularly, but if ever I am sad, I absolutely make sure to watch something of his.

My beautiful, darling friend Nikka is going on as Velma Kelly in the Broadway production of CHICAGO in less than a week. That thought pretty much makes me want to explode with happiness.

This pig.

Regina Spektor - She is more wonderful than words can express.

I have recently become a WORDS WITH FRIENDS addict. I'm okay with this. My castmate Michael (with whom I am playing three to five games at any given moment) has informed me that I have a problem. We were playing WORDS WITH FRIENDS with each other on our phones whilst simultaneously playing an actual game of Scrabble with some other castmates last night. Just sayin' here...I don't think I'm the only one with a problem...

Eddie Izzard - Was obsessed. Am obsessed. Don't see this trend stopping any time soon. Many of his shows also stream on Netflix.

My friend Al Silber's delightful blog.

Jeff Buckley's perfect album GRACE.

UCB - Getting to see my brother do improv most Tuesday nights (when I'm in the city, anyway) has been amazingly fun. His team is brilliant, he is ridiculously talented, and I'm glad more people are getting the chance to fall in love with his abilities and appetite. He is the best friend in the world. Also, his dog is adorbs. - Dudes, I spend way too much time and moolah on this website. I love it so.

The number of nerds in this current cast I'm working with is off the hook. We're pretty much all Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings/Musical Theatre/Coloring Book fanatics. I'm so very much at home.

Coaching - I love teaching. I'm definitely working with some of my castmates once this week is over. People want to learn Scottish and RP and such. Happiness.

The fact that Alan Rickman, Paul Gross, and Nina Arianda are all going to be on Broadway within the next few months makes me crazy happy. Let's just get Mark Rylance and Janet McTeer to stick around for awhile, and I'll be all set.

I'm blessed to count a great number of witty, compassionate, warm, soulful people among my friends. That's also a big stress reliever. I'll put out a tweet or a fb update, send a text to a choice pal or two, and I'll probably be laughing sooner rather than later. Lucky. Blessed. And now, tired. Another long day of rehearsal lies ahead.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Call Me When You Need Your Mirrors Smashed

I've been in Colorado for the last few weeks, belting my face at 10,000 feet as Mrs. Walker in TOMMY. We opened last night, and will dive into GODSPELL music rehearsals this afternoon before another evening with our friends The Who. I love working in rep (meaning playing in multiple shows at the same time), which I did a couple of summers ago with Festival 56, when we played the Shakespeare throughout the entire contract. I think it's going to be incredibly beneficial to me this summer especially, because Mrs. Walker spends most of the show guilt-ridden, grief-stricken, and deeply troubled. There is a good deal of power-belting, alternated with crying and silent acting. Joanne, who I'm playing in GODSPELL (she sings BLESS THE LORD), is all joy and silliness, which will be a wonderful contrast.

I'm gonna take an obligatory sentimental moment and say how much I love this company. In the last few years, I have lucked out enormously with the caliber of human beings I've had the good fortune to get to know. There is an incredibly large number of wonderful people in this crazy business, and having that fact constantly reinforced always makes my heart happy. Everyone working out here is a delight, and pretty hilarious. I must also say that the actors I have the pleasure of playing with are generous, kind, and ridiculously talented. I'm gonna link their websites at the end of this post so that you can stalk them and listen to their glorious voices.

Now, news flash - I have a car on this gig. I hadn't driven in probably four or five years, but now I drive half an hour to the theatre every day. In doing this, I have discovered the necessity and the beauty of a playlist, of which I now have several. Some are more mellow, some are really nerdy (I shall spare you my musical theatre-only lists), but mainly, they're designed to wake me up (singing at 9am, helloooooooooooo) and make me happy. Here's the one I play the most often:

F' You - Cee Lo Green
I Want Harry Potter Back - Lily & James (my friend Grace's AWESOME wrock band - they are FAB)
I Believe in a Thing Called Love - The Darkness
Material Girl - Nick Adams; PRISCILLA OBC Album (lovelovelove)
Helter Skelter - The Beatles
Rehab - Amy Winehouse
Bille Jean - Michael Jackson
Rumour Has It - Adele
I Was Made to Love Her - Stevie Wonder
The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga
Everybody's Talkin' - Nilsson (this always reminds me of MIDNIGHT COWBOY)
Cry Baby - Janis Joplin
Rocky Raccoon - The Beatles
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Oh, By Jingo! - Danny Kaye
Mrs. Robinson - Simon & Garfunkel

Here are my castmates' websites:

Garret Bruce on YouTube
Jacque Clydesdale
Erin Edelle
Rhianna Pfannenstiel on YouTube
David Piazza
Michael Walker on Twitter
Brett Michael Wilson on YouTube

You'll have to see Melanie Beck and Josh T. Smith live, I suppose, for they are on fb, but not the wider webs.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Larry Moss, Larry Shannon

I spent last week in Los Angeles, taking Larry Moss' scene study workshop intensive. If it sounds a bit dramatic to fly across the country just to take a was. Hey, that's how I roll. I missed his workshop in NYC in January because I was in Boston doing NINE, and I'm going to miss it in July, as I'll be in Colorado. My longtime scene partner Denis and I decided that it might be a fun challenge to get out of our city and comfort zone by going to shiny, scary LOS ANGELES (it has always seemed shiny and scary to me, anyway) to do this work.

It was fantastic.

This was my fifth time taking this class with Larry, and I always come away recharged, inspired, and focused on issues that need addressing. He assigned us Conor McPhereson's SHINING CITY, which I hadn't read before, but loved like mad. Dublin accents! Anyway, we dug in and got a lot of good work done. We were both excited by the notes we got, especially as they were pretty much the same for both of us, which makes selecting future scenes pretty straightforward. He ended our second work session with one of my favorite phrases: Flee forward.

Larry told me to reread THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, by Tennessee Williams, and to work on both of the female roles in order to stretch myself. I did so (newest obsession, thaaaaanks, Larry!), and have been looking at various interviews and articles online about the play (reviews, production history, what have you). I stumbled across this quote earlier this evening, from an interview Williams gave about the play. I think it's one of the more beautiful things I've ever read:

“The drama in my plays, I think, is nearly
always people trying to reach each other. In
Night of the Iguana each one has his separate
cubicle but they meet on the veranda outside
the cubicles, at least Hannah and Larry
Shannon meet on the veranda outside their
cubicles, which is of course an allegorical
touch of what people must try to do. It’s true
they’re confined inside their own skins, or their
own cubicles, but they must try to get out as
much as — they must try to find a common
ground on which they can meet because the
only truly satisfying moments in life are those
in which you are in contact, and I don’t mean
just physical contact, I mean in deep, a deeper
contact than physical, with some other human

I mean...the man could WRITE!

I leave in a week and two days for my three month adventure in Colorado. I am ridiculously excited. The daily smashing of mirrors and belting of high notes is going to be so satisfying.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Normal Heart

People, go see THE NORMAL HEART. It's beautifully acted, it's moving, and it's important. Plus, when's the next time you'll have an opportunity to see the incredible Joe Mantello on stage? Go. Bring tissues. Not kidding. I was sobbing in the street afterwards. Go.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rainy Saturday

On rainy days like this, I want nothing more than to sit at my favorite table by the window at Cafe Reggio on MacDougal Street, reading a novel and drinking a pot of Blackberry Supreme tea. I also want to scrape the foam off the top of a cappuccino whilst curled up on a couch at Ost, feet tucked up underneath me, surrounded by old books and East Village types. Things being what they are, I suppose I'll lounge on a couch in the green room with my mystery novel and cuppa joe until it's time to go onstage and do the last performance of this contract. I suppose it's a lovely way to while away the evening. I'll camp out at Reggio soon...

Thursday, March 31, 2011


We got a fantastic review from Joanna Greco Rochman at THE REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN, but the website will only allow you access to part of the article without paying for it (ahh, these online times), so I decided to type out the entire article from the paper (an actual newspaper!) so that it could be read in full. Thar she blows!


Need a good laugh? Then head over to Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, where "Boeing Boeing," Marc Camoletti's door-slamming, fast paced face takes center stage.

Semina DeLaurentis directs this production, making it abundantly clear that she is a master when it comes to comedy. Whether she's in a show or directing it, DeLaurentis puts comic timing and wild antics on stage.

The action revolves around sophisticated Bernard, a confirmed bachelor who has come up with the perfect plan to keep three gorgeous women as his lovers without having to marry any of them. He simply selected three flight attendants from airlines without overlapping schedules. Bernard is happy to proclaim to his unsophisticated friend Robert that all three women have been essentially pre-screened by major airlines for personality, beauty, and intelligence. All he has to do is keep close track of flight schedules.

Gil Brady, as the debonair, successful businessman Bernard, is quite the lady's man. He bears a resemblance to Pierce Brosnan, and his performance is every bit as polished. R. Bruce Connelly displays his usual comic genius in his shy-to-sly portrayal of Brady's bachelor friend. Connelly makes it impossible not to laugh out loud when he is seduced or trying to seduce one of the flight attendants. Whether he is checking to see if his teeth are in place after wild passionate kissing or crawling on all fours to go undetected by the ever watchful maid, Connelly is a non-stop flight of laughs.

Had it not been for the powerful performances of the three flight attendants, Sarah Knapp as Bertha might just have been able to steal the show. With her oversized eyeglasses, she is able to keep a close eye on the comings and goings of the many in-and-out visitors to her boss' apartment. With the charm and accent of a French maid and perfect comic timing, Knapp delivers a stellar performance.

One by one, each of the three flight attendants enters the apartment, with one as gorgeous as the next. Wearing skin-tight colorful uniforms, they immediately draw attention. Liz Clark Golson portrays Gloria, a sexually liberated American who is appropriately dressed in a red hot, skin-tight outfit. Her voice and actions balance Southern belle sensuality with aggressive cosmopolitanism. Olivia Gilliatt exudes Italian passion as she moves from jealous and suspicious to a Sophia Loren mystique. Amy Jo Jackson, as Gretchen, is another actor who nearly stole the show. She is a commanding figure on stage, with the tough attitude of a Gestapo agent and the overpowering purr of a very large pussy cat. Perfectly cast in a bigger than life role, Jackson is a joy to watch in action.

Rounding off a pretty flawless cast is the pretty flawless creative design team. Erik D. Diaz's set has provided Seven Angels with one of its best ever sets. An ultra-modern Patis apartment with chrome-trimmed furniture and soft ivory-hued leather chairs grabs your attention. Trenton Spears' crisp, clean sound design is so realistically rendered that you'll know exactly when an airplane is taking off. Jimmy Johansmeyer's costumes couldn't be more perfectly suited for each character. And Matt Guminski's lighting design completes the creative team's well-coordinated vision.

Overall, this is an outstanding Seven Angels' Equity production. It is a fun way to wait for spring. It plays through April 16 and will likely have to add performances. This is one show you don't want to miss if you're looking for a good time.