Friday, August 26, 2016

Pageant Princess the Musical

A few weeks ago, I saw a post for an audition about a new musical that looked hysterical! "What if Christopher Guest's classic Waiting for Guffman and the reality TV show Toddlers and Tiaras had a musical love child in Texas? Pageant Princess the Musical, that's what!"


Unfortunately, the audition slots were all taken, but the creative team wrote back to me and asked if I could come anyway, because they'd love to try to fit me in. Well, they sure did, and we had a blast! I made it through all the callbacks and got the gig!


Fast forward to this week and last week where we've been in rehearsals for the truncated version of the show. Each musical has to be cut to 23 minutes to fit into New York New Works Theatre Festival, which is hosting 49 mini musicals in 9 days.

We perform Wed. Aug, 31st at 7 PM at The Elektra Theatre, where I last played Judy Garland and Janis Joplin, and Lady Godiva in Hell's Belles

This time I'm Miss Clarabelle, the judge of the pageant:


My brother says I look like our great-aunt Gladys, who was quite a lady, so I'm going to take that as a compliment. :)

Tickets are $23, and the address is 300 W. 43rd Street on the 2nd floor.

The show has some improv elements, so if anyone wants to enroll as a prince or princess, we'll be taking submissions at the door. I can't wait to see your glamour and glitz!

See ya at the Pageant!





Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dick Cavett's Watergate

Last night I caught "Dick Cavett's Watergate" on PBS, and it was fascinating!


I knew Cavett from my research on Janis Joplin. They had lovely interviews together - very charming and funny! - which I used as reference when I played her in Hell's Belles the Musical.


I also got to meet Dick Cavett when I sang for The Abingdon Theatre Company's annual gala a few years ago. He hosted the gala, which was in honor of actress Frances Sternhagen, and the two were very cute, clowning around:


Being in that same room with him, Frances, Cherry Jones, Nancy Opel... and getting to sing the opening song, "Swingin On a Star" as a solo... well, it was a magical night!


So coming back to last night, watching Dick Cavett dig into the Watergate scandal, it felt so important to understand this piece of history, especially as we navigate these tumultuous times.

Be tenacious in your quest for the truth.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Love and Pride

This is Pride Week, and I will be performing in a reading of Joe Gulla's play, "Sleeping With The Fish" at the LGBT Community Center on Wed. June 22 at 8 PM. It's a charming play about 2 mobsters in love. Directed by Brian Rardin, I play an observer of the tale (pun intended). :)


With everything that's happened in Orlando, it's important to bring gay characters' stories to life, and I have been fortunate to do that over the years.

I was honored to play Jeanine, The Singing Nun in the NYMF production of "The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun," composed by Obie winner Andy Monroe based on the play by Blair Fell.


She wrote the 60's hit "Dominique," and then left the convent to be with her lover, Annie Pecher (the real couple below).


They might have lived a happy life together had the Belgium government not hounded her for $63,000 of back taxes, owing to the success of "Dominique." She had taken a vow of poverty as a nun, and when she left, she had nothing. The church didn't help her, and after years of decline, she and Annie sadly took their lives in a suicide pact.


Tracey Gilbert was my Annie (on left above and below), and we "ended" with a kiss.


I wonder if their story would've changed today with support from the LGBT community.

I also recently played Darlene, a rock n roll ex-lover of the title character in Petunia's Coffee House, an improv-based lesbian love triangle with karaoke. Dar was one of my favorite creations, a no-holds-barred, live-out-loud motorocycle mama with a penchant for Melissa Ethridge, Stevie Nicks, and tequila.


She's partially based on the amazing brigade of Dykes on Bikes, whom I first saw at my first Pride Parade in NYC. They usually open the parade, many of them bare-chested, and they are AWESOME!


Hoping to visit Dar and Petunia again at a comedy club near you. ;)

Wherever you are during Pride Week, be loud and proud and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!




Orlando

The shooting in Orlando still has me rattled. It was such a horrible event, and I keep thinking of  everyone marked by this tragedy.



I think of  Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, who was "the mom of Pulse," dancing there with her son and then shielding him with her body. She died protecting him.

And so many others. it's heart-breaking!

Being in the theatre, I've always had gay friends. and we've always celebrated our journeys together. I still get together with my tribe every month at one of our favorite gay clubs. It's a place where we can all be who we really are, who we are meant to be. It's a safe place.

And that's what's so unsettling. The Pulse Nightclub should have been a safe place - just like Sandy Hook Elementary school should have been safe, and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church should have been a safe space.

I didn't grow up in a world where mass shootings were happening all the time. Heck! I didn't grow up in a world where people open-carry their guns at the mall. Why would you need a gun at the mall??? 

This MUST stop. We can't allow this to continue. We must take care of each other.

The Huffington Post wrote an article about "how to help." And while the Senate has voted down measures concerning gun control, I'm not going to stop fighting to make this a better world for our friends, family and children. I hope you will too.




Friday, May 20, 2016

Balancing Act

Two messages this week:


and


Being an actor, I have to do both, and it's fascinating to navigate the difference.

No matter how big or how small, being truthful is the key.


I had to self-tape an audition for a film this week, and it was fun to play this big character from Brooklyn, discovering what made her feel small. The scene was very well written and allowed me to play with these variances.

As my friends say...

 


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Laundry and the Art of Improv

I've always loved Christopher Guest's films - A Mighty Wind is my favorite! He and his writing partner, the great Eugene Levy, supposedly write backgrounds for each of the characters and notecards for each specific scene, outlining the plot, and then leave it up to the actors to improvise the dialogue.

"When I meet actors, I talk with them and get a sense... of someone who can listen and has some kind of a spark." Christopher Guest to Charlie Rose 

The improv in his films, "as opposed to what you see in a club," is based on "more real-time behavior," and that's what I love: the heart beneath the humor. 

A few years ago, I got to improvise a short film called, "Laundry," and it was a blast. We filmed late at night in an East Village laundromat. My character, Annie, was the proprietor, and the film was completely improvised.  The director , Jules Suo, was clear on the characters and types of scenes she wanted. We the actors took it from there!

Below is a small taste of this short film, which is also on IMDB.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Playing a Despicable Character

I recently received a lovely review for playing the spoiled little rich girl, Sophie Teale, in the international recording of Jerome Kern's Roberta:

"Laura Daniel rates a bouquet for her purring, creamy-toned, absolutely despicable Sophie."




On Amazon, one reviewer wrote, "Laura Daniel deserves a special award for bitchiest bitch this side of the Bitchississippi." 

As I grow as an actor, I seem to keep playing "naughty girls." In fact, Larry Moore had seen me Off Broadway as the tempestuous Barbara Webster, in the revival of Charles MacArthur's "Johnny On a Spot," and knew he wanted me to play Sophie even then.




In Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's musical, Lucky Stiff, I've played Rita twice, and it's always interesting to wrap my head around the woman who shot her lover for cheating on her:



In the new series, TrendingI play Madeline Lich, a naughty CEO who tries to clean up her image:




Rosalie Tenseth, the director and star of Trendingrecently shared an article about the marvelous  Margot Martindale, and it really resonated with me. In the interview with The Vulture, she says, "If I were a man, would you call me evil? No. These are smart characters." They are good at what they do.


And for my cadre of "bad girls," I know these women feel justified in their actions and do not consider themselves evil. They are simply driven by what they want.

To quote Jessica Rabbit, "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way." 


And as most actors will tell you, it's more fun to play the villain anyway! ;) 


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tweets and Treats

It's been a wild week!

On Sunday, I was asked to do an interview for IndieActivity. My friends, Lisa Budwig and Marzy Hart, have already been interviewed, and it's a deep-dive into acting as well as each artist's process.


 On Tuesday, PPI Recording Studios tweeted that I was their Facebook Celebrity of the day:


I love recording there. My last set was for Hell's Belles the Musical. I received the tracks, and they're luscious! I'll post them soon!


Yesterday (Wednesday), I was quoted for an article in NYCastings.com


 And I got paid for the work I did on the indie feature, 39 and 1/2.  This was an incredibly fun day of filming where I played a motivational speaker. The director, Kara Herold, gave me great license to play, and I ended up improvising the last half of my scene, so she had enough material to work. It was a BLAST!