Saturday, April 05, 2014

Quarterly Business Review

Like many actors in the city, I have a support job. Luckily, my day job is flexible enough that it works fairly well with my acting gigs, and it provides me with some business sense as well. For example, I never would've thought of doing a Quarterly Business Review (QBR) before, but I've been hearing the term so much lately, and it made sense to look at my acting career with that business perspective.

I just did my taxes and realized I made a nice profit within acting gigs in 2013. Looking at the QBR for this year,  I've already surpassed 2013's profit with various gigs in 2014's first quarter! That feels fabulous! I hope I can keep growing! :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

"Roberta" Recording Completed

Had a blast this week, recording songs and scenes for Jerome Kern's "Roberta." It was treated as a radio play with the emphasis on a historical sound and feel of the 1930s. I played Sophie Teale, a devious debutante who makes the leading man's life hell and thus drives him into the arms of the demure heroine.

Patrick Cummings (above right) played the all-American football hero who inherits his Aunt Minnie's (aka Madame Roberta) French fashion boutique. His best friend, Huckleberry Haines (don't you love these names?), was played by the hilarious Jason Graae (above left), who helps steer him away from my naughty little villainess.

The divine Jeanne Lehman (below), who played Mrs. Potts on Broadway, was my mother, Mrs. Teale, and I used a trick from the August Osage County actresses, who listented to Meryle Streep's cadence and observed her mannerisms to ensure they had that "family" feel. I did the same thing with Jeanne, and Larry Moore, our fabulous factotum, was delighted because we had that in-sync sound. I just sounded higher and more like a spoiled brat! :)

Larry and I worked together on the NYMF show, "The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun," so it was a blast to collaborate again!

We recorded at John Kilgore's Studios, which were quite nice! The incredible Judy Sherman was our recording producer, and Rob Berman was our fabulous conductor.

Here's the full Cast List:

Billy Boyden, the band’s manager . . . . . . . . Tally Sessions
Sophie Teale, the debutante . . . . . . . . . . . . Laura Daniel
John Kent, the fullback . . . . . . . . . . . . Patrick Cummings
Huckleberry Haines, the crooner . . . . . . . . . . Jason Graae
Mrs Teale, the mother . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jeanne Lehman
Aunt Minnie, Madame Roberta . . . . . . . . Diana Montague
Ladislaw, the doorman . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eamonn Mulhall
Stephanie, her assistant . . . . . . . . . . . Annalene Beechey
Lord Henry Delves, friend of Madame Roberta . . . John Molloy
Scharwenka, the cabaret star . . . . . . . . . . Kim Criswell
Anna, the fitter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aine Mulvey
Luella LaVerne, the model . . . . . . . . . . Michele McKenzie
Marie, the cutter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christina Whyte
Sidonie, the presser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary O'Sullivan
Buyer, Bartender, Cafe Russe Owner . . . . . . . Stephen Cole
The Collegians: Adam Alexander, Kyle Guglielmo, Justin Keyes,
Michael Marcotte, Tim McDevitt, Patrick Mellen, Kevin Vortmann

Orchestra of Ireland
Conducted by Rob Berman

The CD will be released on New World Records. I'll let you know when! :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recording "Roberta"

This week I go into rehearsals for the international recording of  Jerome Kern's "Roberta." This project is quite special, as it's being done as a radio play with a focus on the authentic sounds of the 1930s.

The European cast recorded in Dublin. Below Larry Moore, our fabulous factotum, with Diana Montague as Madame Roberta. :)

Larry and I worked together years ago on the NYMF production of "The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun." He's such a doll and shared some of the pix from the Dublin recording.

Below is Annalene Beechey, who played Roberta's assistant, Stephanie (and Russian princess in disguise!). She sings the famous number, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."

I'm with the American cast, who start recording next week. I play Sophie Teale, a "devastating" debutante who makes the all-American football hero, John, suffer quite a bit. She reminds me of a mix of Scarlet O'Hara, Veruca Salt, and my character, Barbara, from "Johnny On a Spot."

Great fun to dive into this devious debutante! ;)

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Janis and Judy

I've been involved with the musical, Hell's Belles, for quite a few years now, and it's a treat to see how audiences respond to the piece. 3 women play a total of 21 infamous women, performing in a cabaret in "hell," led by a devilish master of ceremonies named Lester.

I've played Salome, Eva Braun, Lizzie Borden, Queen Guenevere, Alice B. Toklas, Joan Crawford, Lady Godiva, Janis Joplin, and Judy Garland.

Of all these, it never ceases to amaze me how audiences fall in love Janis and Judy. One gent last week told me he had gone to college with Janis, so she was his favorite. Another fellow told me I took him through Judy's entire career with one song! It's incredibly cool, and I feel fortunate to play homage to such fabulous women!

"Let's sing 'em all!"

Script Juggling

I've been juggling a lot of scripts lately. I had 4 last week: 1 was for a callback for an independent film, another was a mini musical version of "Hell's Belles," and 2 were for acting classes (stage and screen.

This week I've got 3: one is for a reading of an independent film, another is the libretto for the international recording of "Roberta," and the last is "Crimes of the Heart" for acting class.

All these characters are so delicious, and it's a treat to research, character build and act them.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Off with a Bang!

Everyone I know is starting this year with a huge surge of energy, and it's exciting! There's a lot going on!

For me, gig-wise, I'm doing a producer reading of Hell's Belles. I got a callback for Kara Herold's independent film, 39 and 1/2. I'm preparing for the international recording of Jerome Kern's Roberta. It's being done as a  radio play, and I play the devious debutante, Sophie Teale. I'm also going into rehearsals for an improv-based musical called "Petunia's Coffee House." Think Pee Wee's Playhouse with lesbians. :)

I'm back in acting class with Susan Aston, and I started a film class with Paul Schnee. Both are brilliant!

Google Paul, and you'll see he offers a ton of great advice about "the (audition) room," and I especially liked the article on how he and Kerry Barden cast The Dallas Buyer's Club.

I also have to give a huge shout-out to Heidi Marshall and Tim Phillips, whose on-camera classes have made a major impact on how I approach and prepare for auditions and casting director workshops.

I am thankful to be working with such great people!

Rock n roll! :)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back with Love and Thanks

As I prepare to step into the New Year, my friend, Tina, reminds me to look back at the strides I made the year before. I am so thankful for friends like Tina, my family, and especially my awesome husband, Rob, who joyously share The Ride with me and encourage me to make my dreams come true!

Thanks to David Gerard, my former Singing Nun producer who called me in to audition for a radio spot for Toyota. I booked the gig and recorded a spot with Laurel Coppock, who's the fabulously funny spokesperson, "Jan."

Thanks to Donald Brenner, who directed me in "Sasquatched! The Musical," and asked me to sing the opening number for the Abingdon Theatre Company gala, Swinging On A Star. That was an incredible night! Meeting Cherry Jones was the cherry on the cake! :)

Thanks to Phil and Jules Darg who brought me on board as "Pat the Park Ranger" for the New York Musical Theatre Festival production of "Sasquatched! The Musical." That was one of the highlights of my summer, working at The Pearl Theatre Company, including a special performance at 54 Below.

Thanks to great composer-lyricists like Andy Monroe and Wayne Henry, who asked me to perform demos of their material for BMI and The Dramatists Guild. Thanks also to Bryan D. Leys, James Campodonico and Matthew Gurren for inviting me to play lead roles in readings of their musicals at The Abingdon and York Theatre Companies.

Great gratitude to the awesome casts and crews I've worked with this year. Incredibly talented people! And let me tell you, an exceptional Stage Manager is worth their weight in gold! :) David S. Keaton-Cohen, I'm talking about you! ;)

I am thankful to have reconnected with childhood friends like Kara Herold, who is a fascinating filmmaker. I got to work with her one day on her new film, 39 and 1/2, and it was a blast from the past mixed with the Gift of the Present. Good growth! :)

Huge thanks to the terrific teachers I've worked with this year: Susan Aston (acting), Heidi Marshall (film), Tim Phillips (on-camera), Scott Wojcik (commercials), Ali Farahnakian (Writing for SNL) and Seth Weinstein (voice). I've realized this year more than any other how incredibly important it is to keep studying!

"It takes a village" to mount any production, and it's been my pleasure to be part of so many great teams!

January is already filling up with rehearsals and classes. I can't wait to see what the New Year brings!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Watch, Listen and Learn

I have been so fortunate to study with some amazing teachers this year: Heidi Marshall for film & TV, Scott Wojcik and Brette Goldstein for commercials, Seth Weinstein for musical theatre, and I am currently studying with acting coach Susan Aston. Most of them have offered the same advice to all their students: to watch the medium you're trying to break into. For example, with commercials, which commercials do you think you'd be cast in? What's your type and what do you bring to the table that's so utterly uniquely you?

That's applicable to film, TV and theatre as well. By watching performers who are working,  I've gained extra insight.

And doing it - working on scenes, songs and sides - exploring and finding my way in, it's been a blast! I feel stronger with every piece I work on, and auditions have become a welcome experience! 

I've also seen some incredible productions this year which have definitely informed my work.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike ignited a passion for Christopher Durang's plays and Anton Chekov! ;)  The acting, writing, direction, the set! Talk about a master class in comedy!

Musical theatre has been my main genre - I recently played Pat the Park Ranger in Sasquatched! The Musical - so I've always got my ear to the ground, so to speak. ;) I saw a lot of new musicals this year and really enjoyed Hands on a Hardbody, though it didn't last long on Broadway. The music, the acting, the story: I was really invested in the characters and their journeys. And the music was a BLAST!

I also saw Pippin, which was everything a Broadway show should be! Andrea Martin. WOW. Her performance HAD to be experienced!

Kinky Boots, Big Fish, Once... It's all been a delicious musical ride! ;)

The last production I saw was Twelfth Night, and it was truly exceptional! All of the actors were such masters of their craft! Mark Rylance earned laughs by simply walking! He has this little jaunty tip toe as Olivia when she was trying to take control of a situation. It was brilliant! But his Olivia was not a clown. She was a very passionate woman, mourning the death of her father and brother, and finding herself falling in love with Cesario / Viola, whose love she needed like a tonic. It was mesmerizing.

I couldn't believe it was Stephen Fry's Broadway debut. He owned the stage as Malvolio and even played with the audience when a woman gasped during his speech.

And Samuel Barnett's Voila (below left) was so gorgeously heartfelt. The way he held himself as this character - I truly saw her!

I am so thankful to live in NY, to be surrounded by master craftsmen and women who are so inspiring! And I am so thankful to my friends and family who encourage me to keep living the dream! I've had so many moments this year that have made me feel like my dreams are coming true, and it's thrilling!