Monday, February 13, 2017

Introducing... Truvy!

I've been having a BLAST with the beautiful ladies of "Steel Magnolias." Our director, Angela Shultz, has such a clear vision, and our stage manager, Melissa Harlow, is so on top of everything! They are both fearless and fabulous!

Last night we got our salon chairs - thanks to Mel driving throughout Jersey for 'em - and everyone took a spin!

I'm already in love with this cast! Katie Donnelly is hilarious as Annelle, Joan Valentina is pure class as Clairee, Anna Laura Strider is the perfect Shelby, Katherine Alt Keener is heart-breaking as M'Lynn, and Rebecca Hoodwin is going to steal the show as Oiser! What a talented group of ladies!

Katherine Alt Keener who plays M'Lynn said last night, "This feels so comfortable!" It feels like we've known each for years!

Each actress is being introduced on Facebook on the Stomping Ground Theatre Company page, so y'all come visit, ya hear! ;)

Here's my little bio:


Everyone always asks where I’m from, because I'm “too nice for NY.” I’m from Southern CA but my grandparents were from Texas. My Grandma Millie would be so proud I’m playing Truvy. She was all about beauty and style!

Me? I love NY! I recently performed in back to back shows Off Broadway as the wise-cracking Kay in Do Re Mi and Judy Garland/Janis Joplin in Hell's Belles. I received the NYMF Award for Outstanding Performance in The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun, and was the original Pat the Park Ranger in Sasqatched the Musical! I fell in love with a shark in JAWS the Musical, and earned the title, "Bitchiest Bitch of the Bitchissippi" as Sophie in the international recording of Roberta. Regional Theatre: I played a near-sighted mob mistress in Lucky Stiff and won the Inland Theatre League Award for Educating Rita. Upcoming films include 39 and ½, Tick Tock, and the series, Trending. Thanks to Stomping Ground Theatre Company, Table 5, my friends and family. To my husband, Robbie: You always melt my butter. :)
 
www.lauradaniel.net

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Steel Magnolias" at Stomping Ground Theatre Co.

This month I started rehearsals for "Steel Magnolias," the play by Robert Harling, which was written for his sister. We open one month from today on 410 West 40th Street. Tickets are $18 and the cast is a wonderful group of women with a wealth of theatre experience!


(Left to Right): Joan Valentina as Clairee, Rebecca Hoodwin as Oiser, Katie Donnelly as Annelle, Anna Laura Strider as Shelby, Katherine Alt Keener as M'Lynn, and Laura Daniel (me) as Truvy.
Stomping Ground Theatre Company is making it all happen, and they're a fearless new non-profit company creating "a home away from home for the socially conscious." They are FABULOUS ladies! Angela Shultz is directing (below far right) and Melissa Harlow (center)is our sensational stage manager:


For those who don't know "Steel Magnolias," it was originally done Off Broadway in 1987 and ran until 1990 after 1,126 performances. The Hollywood film was released in 1989, and the play made its Broadway debut in 2005. Lifetime created a TV movie in 2012 with Queen Latifah.

It's a truly beautiful story about 6 women, three generations of resilient Louisiana ladies who live as large as they can in their small town.

In the play, it all takes place in Truvy's Beauty Shop, which is a place of laughter and love and some big secrets! As Truvy, I'm certainly delighted to be making some magic happen! "Let me get my magic wand and some fairy dust! And use as much hairspray as you want!" ;)

Hope to see y'all  next month!


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Why Did You March?

It's been over a week, but more marches are happening, and I'm so thankful that Americans are taking a stand.

It was an incredible honor to take part in the Women's March on New York City. My husband kept saying he hoped someone would capture it from an aerial view, and someone did!


So many friends marched. The Stomping Ground Theatre Company, with whom I'll be working on "Steel Magnolias" in February, marched.


The sense of camaraderie and solidarity was awesome! There were men, women, children, people of all races and religions. We smiled at each other and cheered and sang, and the city was filled with such hope!



When we walked up 5th Avenue, one of churches was ringing bells of encouragement. I heard "The Star Spangled Banner," for "The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave." Other friends heard Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" playing. It was miraculous.

Some fabulous friends marched in DC. I'm so proud of them! They took trains from PA and NJ. One friend from San Francisco flew in especially for the march.


I was happy to see my peeps from Lancaster and Harrisburg, PA representing.


Old friends marched in Riverside, CA.


LA of course.


A friend in Anchorage testified, "It happened!"


And I love the pic of Carole King in Stanley, Idaho.


The big question I kept hearing was, Why did you march and what did it mean to you? I marched for the women who fought for the women's vote almost 100 years ago.


I marched for equal rights, women's rights to choose, Planned Parenthood, equal pay for equal work, marriage equality, affordable health insurance and education for all, environmental protection, religious freedom, and Truth, Justice and the American way. I marched for friends who felt that they didn't have a voice.

Truly, being with all those amazing folks who gathered on Jan, 21st and marched up Fifth Avenue, it encouraged such a sense of love and community. Even the NYPD was fabulously supportive, guiding people to the march, helping everyone out. There wasn't a single arrest. We were in perfect harmony, and that's what it meant to me, being in one of the greatest cities in the world with so many people, sharing love and hope.

There is always hope.







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

Firsts

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!