Wednesday, January 04, 2017

John Waters' Artsy Wonderful World

A few weeks ago, I heard from this fabulous gent named Matt, who contacted me about a blog I had written years ago about the one and only John Waters.

Matt works at Artsy, and they have a John Waters page, which provides visitors with JW's bio, over 30 of his works, exclusive articles and more! I was really honored that Matt asked me to include a link from my blog to their site!

My own John Waters story began a long time ago in a shire far far away in the woodland realms of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I was offered a role in the Shakespearean troupe for The PA Ren Faire, so I packed my bags and left little ol' Hemet, CA for my first paid acting gig in PA! The directors were from LA that year, so they wanted a cast from both the West and East Coasts. It was a BLAST! I met some of the funniest, most fabulous people who have become lifelong friends. I even married one!

(My husband Rob and me with the Twisted Sisters of The Essential Herbal)

On our days off, some cast members would get together and watch movies, and what better way to take a break from the Renaissance than with John Waters?

The original Hairspray movie blew me away! What other movie had Ricki Lake, Divine, Debbie Harry, and Sonny Bono starring and boppin away?

And it was edgy and political. I love when Tracy irons her hair and becomes a beatnik! ;)

Later, we dove into "Lust in the Dust," and "Serial Mom" was my husband's fave.

Then all the musicals came into play. I was called back for "Hairspray" to understudy Velma and Tracy, but I'm not much of a dancer. Alas! We still enjoyed seeing Harvey Fierstein in the show!

And then came the short-lived "Crybaby," which was MARVELOUS! They tap-danced on license plates!

It was such a fun show, and I still think about the quirky Alli Mauzey who played the love-lorn Lenora, whose love for Crybaby is never returned. She sang a song in the vein of Patsy Cline's "Crazy" that was indeed mental! She said, "Whenever I'm thinking of new things to try, I go, What would John Waters do?"

Having just finished an improv class at UCB, I can TOTALLY agree!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Your Badass Self

I've been reminded twice this December to bring out my Badass self. 

For my husband's birthday, some friends and I went in on The Bad-Ass Bitches Museum Tour at The Met, designed by the folks at Museum Hack.

My husband had gone on a corporate tour and raved about how much he wanted to go with our friends, so we made it happen! I even designed the poster (above).

It was a BLAST! Our tour guides were two fabulously funny women who were passionate about art, Lily and Bex:

The tour focused on female artists. One of my new favorites is Rosa Bonheur, who's the portrait in the above left pic with Lily. She painted herself into her masterpiece, The Horse Fair (below). She's the "lad" in blue with the cap (center), facing the audience. She petitioned for and won a permit in 19th century Paris to wear pants since it was against the law for women to be in anything but dresses.

I also was riveted by Artemisia Gentileschi's paintings. She had been raped, and in her work she showed women like Judith, taking back their power:

She turned a tragedy into a triumph.

So what do I want to take into the New Year?

As Bonnie Gillespie tweeted, 

"There's a future version of me out there who’s a badass at this. I don’t get to meet her if I stop showing up.”

For me, that means keeping strong with acting classes and practicing on-camera work. I also want to write. I see so much of this world cinematically, and I have stories to tell.

Matt Newton gave us homework to write a scene this summer, and he liked my piece so much, he said I should send it to ABC/NBC's diversity contest next year. Well, that's tomorrow, so here I go! 

Last night, I worked on my business plan from Bonnie's free program called "Get In Gear for the New Year. The program is AWESOME! Seriously, every actor should check it out because it will change your life! The homework cultivates a sense of self-awareness and community, as you're sharing your tools and knowledge with other actors in #SMFANinjas.
So I've got daily tasks to do to help me create momentum.

My badass self is strong, fearlessly funny and focused, so it's time to bring that to the table.

Hope you all have a kickass New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2016


I was already thinking about this year in review when Bonnie Gillespie inspired me with the idea of "firsts."

This year, I booked my first role in an independent feature film. I played a Suze Orman-type motivational speaker in 39 and a half.

The director, Kara Herold, asked if I could improvise mid-way through, so I started playing with the audience, asking them questions about what motivated them and then riffing off of their answers. Kara said, "I think we have type-casting here!"

I got my first tweet as the "facebook celebrity" of the day by PPI Recording Studio. I've been fortunate to do a lot of delicious recordings there for new musicals.

This year was my first exposure to the musical, "Do Re Mi," which ran on Broadway in 1960. I played Kay in the Off Broadway revival by Musicals Tonight, and re-teamed with my Sasquatched director Donald Brenner and co-star Patrick John Moran.

Marc Miller of NY Theatre Guide wrote, "One doubts even the great (Nancy) Walker, for whom the part was written, could have done much better... (Laura) Daniel, expertly mixing the affection and skepticism in Kay also has a huge Act Two Number, 'Adventure.' She belts it out of the park!"

I was photographed at the New Filmmakers Festival. Even though I won the Craft Award for Sincerely Yours and had been to a film fest for Laundry, it was my first time being photographed, which was fun! 

                                                        At the screening of  "Tick Tock."

I played my first few "ladies of indeterminate age" or strange wise women. One was a Minnesotan cat lady in Pageant Princess the Musical. And the other was the narrator in Joe Gulla's play, "Sleeping with the Fish."

It's also the first year I became politically active. I never knew I had it in me, but there have been such disturbing events this year, we have to take a stand and help each other out. 

Here's hoping 2017 allows us all to bloom and grow beautifully. As Shonda Rhimes said, it can be the "Year of YES!

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Superhero Within

I remember when I first saw the Supergirl poster on a skyscraper, looming over 8th Avenue...

I was impressed.

How could you not be? Especially when she's 20 feet tall on the side of a skyscraper!

And every time I'd audition at Ripley Grier, I'd look up at her when I came out of the building, and I'd feel a little boost of Girl Power! :)

When I noticed myself slouching one day, I saw her poster on a phone booth on 59th street, and I found myself standing taller, emulating her strength, and it was amazing how strong I felt. It was like I was transformed! Like Kara ready to toss off her glasses and fly, baby, fly!

I dare you to do it! Throw your chest out, your shoulders back, and see how it makes you feel.

Good, right?

In these tumultuous times, we need to call on our inner strength, on our innate goodness, on The Superhero Within.

Stand up to bullies, protect people, speak out against injustice. Lead with love. Open your hearts and minds, and see how important it is to have each other's backs.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." And like they say in Hamilton - boom! - we gotta get em "to include women in the sequel! Work!"

Good luck out there!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Girls Who Wear Glasses

I've noticed a trend in some of the characters I've been playing lately. They tend to be bespectacled!

Most recently I played Clarabelle, the eccentric cat lady who judges Pageant Princess:

There's The Singing Nun, and though her life was Tragic and Horrible, as per the musical, I'm eternally grateful to the writers and producers for giving me the chance to play her.

I was blessed with a NYMF award for that performance. As you can see, I was in good company!

In two productions (NY and Michigan), I played Rita from Lucky Stiff, a mob mistress who refuses to wear her glasses and thusly mistakes a dead man for her lover. I'd only wear these goggles while going undercover as a maid in a high-end hotel:

And as Janis Joplin in Hell's Belles, I got to view the world through rose-colored glasses:

This makes me think of one of my favorite movies, "How to Marry a Millionaire." Marilyn Monroe plays a "dumb blonde" who bumps into furniture and goes off with the "wrong" man because she refuses to wear her glasses. David Wayne calls her out on this, and encouraged her to wear her glasses.

Once she sees that he sees her completely and accepts her with her glasses, she leans back in this moment of pure satisfaction.

She literally can SEE, and everything opens up in her world!

I can't wait to see what happens next! ;)

Monday, October 03, 2016

Busy as a Bee!

I've always loved bees. When I was a kid I was fascinated by them! I'd sit in the clover of my backyard and watch them buzz about me.

As these sweet fuzzy insects make their way to the endangered species list, I feel very protective of them. Whenever I see them "in the wild," in the park or in friends' and family's gardens, I celebrate their flight from flower to flower.

So when I say I've been as busy as a bee, you know I have!

I had a blast playing Clarabelle, the crazy cat lady in Pageant Princess the Musical. We made it to semi-finals in the New York New Works Theatre Fest, and some producers seemed interested, which is encouraging.

I love this cast and crew! They are a pleasure to sing with! :)

I also attended a screening of the short film, Tick Tock, which I worked on in 2015.

The film was part of the New Filmmakers NY Festival at Anthology Film Archives, which is a GREAT space. It was thrilling to see our film on the big screen.

And I recorded some new songs with the super talented Charles Osborne.

It was fun to go back to PPI Recording Studios and lay down some tracks!

Now I'm off to the next flower! ;) Bzzzzzz!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When I Met Gene Wilder

I was so sad to hear about Gene Wilder's passing. He had a big impact on me as a kid, and I was so honored to meet him as an adult.

While other girls lusted after Tom Cruise, I had a major crush on Gene Wilder. His acting and his movies represented the height of humor and passion to me. My parents practically raised me on Mel Brooks' movies, so I learned all about Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein ("It's pronounced, 'Frahnkensteen.'") But some of my favorite Gene Wilder movies were the ones he wrote and directed like "The World's Greatest Lover," in which Wilder played an actor named Ruddy Valentine who's hoping to impress his wife, the young Carol Kane (LOVE her in "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), into believing he can be the next Valentino:

"I am unique!!!"

And Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother ("That's SHEER LUCK!"):

I also loved "The Woman in Red" where he worked with his wife (and one of my comedy idols) Gilda Radner:

So when I met Gene Wilder a few years ago, it was magical! I was at an audition at Chelsea Studios, and I'd heard he was there, rehearsing a play. I saw him in the halls, followed about by a troupe of young men. His cast, I presume. But I didn't want to bother him, so I focused on my work, and when it was time, I got into line to go into the audition. I had set my music book down by the wall, and bent to retrieve it. When I stood up, there I was: face to face with Gene Wilder.

He smiled at me like he recognized me, which seemed impossible, and he said, "Well, hello!"

I smiled back, and said, "Hello!"

Then he was jostled off by his troupe.

I wish I could have said more.

I would've thanked him for all his great work, for inspiring me and countless others to bring their heart and humor to the table. I would've told him that he set the bar - HIGH - for any man who came into my life: Not only would they have to be passionate, they would have to be FUNNY.

I love a man who makes me laugh, and I am so fortunate to have found that in my husband, Rob.

So thank you, Gene Wilder. As Goldie Hawn wrote, "You are free to grace the heavens with your light that lifted us all."

Thank you.