Saturday, February 21, 2015

In the Groove

I feel like I'm in a really good place in my life. Every day, I get to dive into a script - whether it's a working on a monologue for auditions, rehearsing a scene for acting class (I work with the sensational Susan Aston), or crafting a scene for a film. I love it! It's all part of my daily routine.

Today I'm working on songs for upcoming auditions, and I find the prep work is very similar to crafting a scene or monologue. It's all about communication (as well as the sustained notes, but you now what I mean). What does the character need in that moment? What are the circumstances? And all of that deep-diving stuff that comes with researching a play, screenplay or musical. It's all about the story, bringing what I can bring to the character, and letting it flow through me. I love getting into the groove of it all!

To "get in the groove " means to enter into the spirit of the situation or circumstance of the moment. The groove is really the track on an old record in which the needle of the record player had to ride in order to reproduce the music--so the meaning is figurative. Gorgeous pic below by James Woody.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Day in the Life of a NY Actress

Something I've discovered about acting in NY is that it feels like you're part of a community. Everyone you meet is doing something to make their dreams come true, and I've been so lucky to meet people who, as Bonnie Gillespie says, "share their toys."

I recently took a seminar with Bonnie about Self Management for Actors, and through that workshop, I met some incredibly motivated people who formed a Facebook group and have been sharing knowledge, experiences, and other "toys." :)

One such actor is Tanya Perez (pictured below right), who recently penned this awesome article for "Ms. in the Miz." In it, she chronicles her day in the life as a film actor in NYC.

This reminded me of friends and family who've asked me what my daily life as an actor is like, so here's a glimpse into my daily groove:

It usually starts with visiting Actors Equity and Actors Access to see which auditions are happening when. This gives me prep time, so I can work on songs, scenes, or monologues for each audition. Preparation is key. Even if I'm going in for the cold reading of a new script, I research the author's previous works or find reviews about a previous productions/readings, so I have a sense of the style of the piece.

Now, as Tanya pointed out for film / TV, we usually don't get the script until the day or night before the audition, so then it's time to cram and jam!

This happened for me a few weeks ago when I was called in for the role of a News Anchor in the independent film, Child's Play. I got one page of a script and had to "fill in the blanks" for the character, so I could fill her shoes. It was a blast, and I got the gig!

With plays and musicals, if I don't get an appointment ahead of time, I go to the "open" Equity call. That means getting up at 6 am to go wait in line at whatever studio is hosting the audition. Aasif Mandvi recently talked about this in an interview with NY1 about his book, "No Lands Man."

You wait in line with a ton of other actors and hope to get a timeslot to audition later in the day. I have this down to a science:

6-something AM: get up, shower, pack breakfast and lunch and audition materials, including clothes, shoes, makeup, hair tools, music or monologue, headshot and resume.
7-something AM: take the train or walk to the audition studio. If it's a major open call, move everything up by an hour and get there EARLY!
Hang out and wait until 8:30 or 9 AM when the sign-up begins. Hopefully get a slot around lunch time.
9-9:30 AM: go work at my support job
Anywhere from 11:50 - 4:30: get hair and makeup done, go back to the audition location and wait to go on.
Audition time = about 2 minutes.

If it's possible to hit more than one audition, I do.

As Tanya wrote, it can take about 10 hours (or more) to prep for  a 2 minute performance, but if you book the gig, it's worth it!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

What's Your News?

A few weeks ago, I was called in to audition for the news anchor role in an independent film, and I booked it! :)

Being a research nut, I looked at the different styles of reporting the news, and brought in some options to the director. Did she want a news anchor in the style of MSNBC, Fox, CBS, or (my favorite) PBS? This seemed to delight the production team, and gave me room to show different possibilities. However, in addition to each style, I realized the goal for my character in the scene was to get the truth, and that helped me drive it.

We film this week, and I'm very excited. The script is really good, and I get to improvise at the end of my scene. Gotta love when a section is set aside for improv!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Madcap Musical Review

Last week was non-stop musicals for me!

On Monday, I performed in the concert reading of  the new musical, "Merton of the Movies." It's about a young man in the silent film era, who dreams of making it as a "serious" actor in Hollywood, only to discover he's a born comedian! AJ Shively, the recent lead in Steve Martin's and Edie Brickell's new musical, "Bright Star," was our amazing Merton. He cracked us all up! As one audience member said afterwards, "I'll never look at eyebrows the same way again!

I played one of Merton's buddies, Edna, a jazzy comedienne who stars in one of the old pie fight films. My big song was "The Chase," and though we had no props or set, so many audience members said they loved when I pantomimed getting stuck in a trunk, trying to evade the Keystone Cops. It was a BLAST!

"Merton" was composed by the dynamic Doug Katsaros, who also wrote the lyrics, and the book was by my "Sasquatched the Musical" director, Donald Brenner. In fact, the reading was a mini Sasquatched reunion, as I got to play with my old "sweetheart," Patrick John Moran....

And the incredibly versatile Jonathan Randell Silver, who played Harpo Marx in "The Most Ridiculous Thing You Ever Hoid," had a pivotal role as Merton's friend, Elmer, from his smalltown beginnings.

Jonathan's heartfelt performance actually made me cry! He was so sweet!

Our marvelous music director was Jeffrey Lodin (above top L). Patrick and Jonathan are also above, followed by the fabulous Martin Van Treuren, who was hysterical as the madcap film director of the Buckeye Comedies.

The rest of the cast was completed by gorgeous voiced Tony Castellanos, the lovely Loni Ackerman (former Broadway Evita and Grizabella - she had the BEST stories!), Janine Divita as Merton's love-to-be (who also recently played Evita) and Lara Hayhurst, a former Elle from "Legally Blonde."

Everyone was so wonderful, and it was such a charming show! I hope we go somewhere with it! :)

Last but not least, I ended the week with a turn as Blanca Vacuous, a maid of dubious origin in "The House in Beverly Hills." I also recorded demos for "The House in Beverly Hills" on the weekend.

For my next trick, I'm back to the writer's table with Wayne Henry and Roberto Cambeiro, fleshing out "Petunia's Coffee House."

Monday, December 01, 2014

A double-take: Merton of the Movies

One of the first plays I read when I moved to NY was George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly's Merton of the Movies. It's a charming play about a young man who moves to Hollywood to become a serious actor in the Silent Film era. The funny thing is, he's SO dramatic, it's funny!

Jim Parsons (Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory) is doing a reading of the play tonight at Roundabout Theatre's Studio 54, and I wish I could be there!

Parsons hand-picked the play and gave a great interview about why he was drawn to the piece.

Ironically, Next Monday I'm doing a reading of the new musical version of Merton of the Movies based on Kaufman and Connelly's play. It's by Donald Brenner and Doug Kastaros, and it benefits the Abingdon Theatre Company, who's hosting the concert.

It is such a charming show, and the music is so fun! I'd love for the folks going to the Roundabout tonight to come see our show next week! It's like a Double Feature a week later. :)

There are a few seats left! Come join the adventure! :) Tix are $20-30 and are available through Abingdon's website at

Thursday, November 27, 2014

So Thankful!

It's been an amazing year, and I'm blown away by how quickly it's zoomed by!

I'm thankful for my family and friends, that everyone is healthy and happy. There's definitely been some health scares for our dads, so I'm glad they're staying strong.

 (my little bro and me with our Dad - love you both!)

I'm thankful for my husband, Robbie, who keeps me laughing and looking for "the funny." You are my best friend, and I'm so glad to be sharing this ride with you!

I'm thankful for my friends who keep me laughing as well, and who've supported all my artistic adventures. I have a core group of 4 friends who've seen every show I've ever done, and I'm so thankful for you: Michael and Carl, Ataman and Jayne! Love you guys!

                                Michael, Carl and me clowning on the beach. :)

A special shout-out to Tina Sams from "The Essential Herbal" who gives me a kick in the pants when I'm feeling blue and reminds me to look back and see everything I've accomplished. She and her sister, Maryanne Schwartz, who makes incredible jewelry in her Torchsong Studio, keep me inspired!

I'm thankful for all the incredible people I've worked with on so many fun artistic adventures! The year started with the international recording of "Roberta." Larry Moore had seen me as a tempestuous spitfire in the Off Broadway revival of "Johnny on a Spot," and asked if I'd like to play a devious debutante, or "debutramp," as Larry called her. Well, who wouldn't want to play that kind of character? ;)

I got the best review on Amazon: "Laura Daniel deserves a special award for bitchiest bitch this side of the Bitchissippi." And I love being on the album cover!

Huge thanks to Andy Monroe for asking me sing his great song, "The Grand Gesture" for the NY Theatre Barn, which was taped for YouTube.

Thanks to Tweiss Productions for keeping the fires of Hell's Belles burning!

Thanks to my Petunia cast and writing team: Wayne Henry, Roberto Cambiero and Elizabeth Bell. Looking forward to seeing what we develop in 2015!

Thanks to my "Sasquatched the Musical" director, Donald Brenner, for offering me the role of Edna in the new musical, "Merton of the Movies." We are going to have a BLAST!

Thank you to my fabulous acting coach, Susan Aston, for challenging me with larger than life characters like Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," and Alexa Vere de Vere in "As Bees in Honey Drown." What a treat to work with you every week!

And to other great teachers, Heidi Marshall, Tim Phillips, and Bonnie Gillespie: you all enrich my world and make think outside of the box! Thank you!

Thankful to everyone who boosts my day in a wonderful way! Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Merton of the Movies

There must be something in the air about silent movies. A few weeks ago I played silent film star Phyllis Fontaine in Kaufman and Hart's "Once in a Lifetime." Next month, I play Edna, a comic film actress of the silent film era in the concert reading of the new musical, "Merton of the Movies."

I get to work with the my Sasquatched the Musical director, Donald Brenner, as well as some of my fabulous Sasquatched cast members: Patrick John Moran and Jonathan Randell Silver!

And hello! We're featured in Broadway World!

VERY excited! :)