Thursday, September 12, 2019

Music Makers and Dreamers of Dreams

I've done a lot of recordings this year, and it's been very satisfying to get paid for singing songs! :)

I am so thankful to be working with my coach, Andrew Wheeler, who's helped me grow as a singer and performer.

Here's a little taste of a country-western-pop-rock musical I'm working on with Clare Cooper, whom I worked with on Jaws the Musical. This is from Black Crook:

Friday, July 19, 2019

A Company of Players

I've been working for 16th Note Productions since I crashed one of their auditions a few years ago. It was an invited crash, actually, because I submitted online, and they wrote back that all slots were filled, but I was welcome to come by and try to get in if anyone didn't show up. Well, somehow I got in, made the callback, and then booked the gig! That show was Pageant Princess.


Then they asked me to sing in a reading of their musical, Pieces, and that show has a special place in my heart. That's my first psychologist role. Really interesting and incredibly intimate in the vein of Next To Normal.


And last year we did a reading of the script for Starcrossed, a new musical in the world of Romeo and Juliet. Kristen Penner and Lorelei Mackenzie, the writers, grew that piece to become the staged reading of the musical we did this week.


It's a really good show with a pop sound like Wicked or Frozen. I played The Big Bad Lady Capulet who held more than a tinge of Lady MacB. Daggers and all! It was SO fun!


And as I look over this body of work I'm doing with Kristen and Lorelei, these two actress-writer-composers and the incredibly talented people they assemble for their projects, it occurred to me: This is what was called in Shakespeare's time, A Company of Players!


And I'm so thankful to be working and playing with them! :)

Friday, February 22, 2019

Recording at the Film Center

It felt like Spring last night. An early Spring in New York. In February.

As I dashed down the street to the Film Center where I was going to be recording a song for the new musical, "Pieces," I thanked my lucky stars for all the creatively lush times I'd had there. I was part of the international recording for Jerome Kern's Roberta which was done at the Film Center and in Dublin. And I booked the short film Tick Tock at the Film Center. There's a lot of good energy there for me, and I smile every time I walk by the place.


Last night I was there to record a song for these amazing musical-makers, Kristen Penner and Lorelei MacKenzie.


They've written several musicals, and I met them a few years ago when I crashed an audition for their musical, Pageant Princess and I booked the role of Miss Clarabelle, a cat lover who finds herself the judge of a toddlers and tiaras type pageant. VERY fun and I got to belt to a high E which is always a thrill.

Last night, we recorded a song for "Pieces," which is a show about secrets and coming to terms with different parts of ourselves. The score is wonderfully contemporary,  and every time I work on it, my spirit soars.


Kristen sang first, and then I added my voice. Then Sarah Ann Vail who was in from LA sang. And I'm hoping they finished with Lorelei last night. The song includes all of the characters of the show so they'll be adding the other voices at another time. I can't wait to hear how it all comes together!

Kristen, me, Lorelei and Sarah Ann (far left)






I Hear A Theme

When I started my web series, Laura Loves NY, I wondered how and where music would fit in.

Jody Diamond, one of my guests on the Bali episode (below with director Livi Zheng), noted that I sing a little bit in every episode. That's just me. I'll sing phrases as I talk, because I'm always hearing music and some words just come out of me in a musical way. :)


I love that other people hear music all the time too.

When I interviewed award-winning composer singer-songwriter Andy Monroe he told me he'd been creating songs since he was 3. He just sat down at the piano and started singing.

I met Andy a few years ago at the NY Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) when I played The Singing Nun for a musical he composed. I won the NYMF award and fell in love with Andy's style.

While I was working on my web series, I kept thinking it'd be cool to have a theme song as a way to introduce the show, and since I love Andy's music and knew he'd get my vibe, I asked if he'd be interested in creating a theme song Laura Loves NY. He did, and we recorded it earlier this month!


I also interviewed Andy for my show, which is all about shining the light on artists who love NY as much as I do! :) Stay tuned for the upcoming episode. It's gonna be fun!



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Laura Loves NY kicks off Season 2 with Tanya Perez in Wonderland

I can't believe we're in the middle of January 2019 already! Zoom!

At the end of last year, I interviewed actress-writer-director Tanya Perez, whom I met via Bonnie Gillespie's Self Management for Actors (The NY Ninjas). Tanya's a trailblazer, and when I met her, she'd already been on hit shows like Orange Is the New Black, Marvel's Jessica Jones, Law and Order and Blue Bloods. And last year she started making her own movies.



She shared the screenplay for Veronica with me earlier in the year, so I had an idea of what the film was about, and it was exciting to see how the film transformed on film! Such an incredible story about a woman trying to find a sense of identity.

All year we were trying to get together to film our interview for my web series, Laura Loves NY, but we've both been so busy! It took all year to make it happen, but it was well worth the wait. We sang and danced our way through Central Park on our way to the Alice In Wonderland statue which had special meaning for us both. Such a playful, wonderful day!

It was a joy to edit this piece to kick off Season 2 of my show. What a great way to start the New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2018

The 1st Anniversary of Laura Loves NY

This has been a year of good growth! 3 readings of new musicals bound for Broadway, 3 rich and wonderful characters! 2 sketch comedies with hilarious casts, and then... the creation of my own web series, Laura Loves NY.


I can't believe I started my web series a year ago! I've been so deep into editing my last 3 episodes that I didn't quite realize a year had passed until people on LinkedIn started sending me congratulations. Astounding!

How did it all happen? My coach, Bonnie Gillespie, is a big proponent of creating your own content, and while I've been tinkering with some scripted ideas, Laura Loves NY was born out of my love for sharing New York with others. I met actress-producer Laura Dowling Shea through Bonnie's 100 Day Get In Gear for the Next Tier program, and Laura knew I was trying to figure out film, so she told me about Ela Thier's 6 day film challenge, and we teamed up for a piece. Working with imovie's editing tool and encouraged by Ela's prompts, my eyes opened even more to the sights and sounds of the city. Then I got curious about other people and what they love about the city, so I started booking interviews.

Liz Days was my first guest, and I'm actually re-editing our interview, because I've learned so much since last December! So be on the lookout for a Liz and Laura upgrade! Coming soon! :)

Then Erin Zapcic joined me this Spring before heading to Hollywood. She'd just done a photoshoot with Vogue as the Queen of Medieval Times!


 
 

Then Deb Unger from Gotham showed me around Fort Tryon Park!



I ended up in Hogsmeade with my former Queen from the PA Ren Faire, Kacey Camp. 



 

And that caught the eye of my producer, Fern Lim, for the upcoming web series, Human Telegraphs, who won tickets to Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, so she took me along with her, and I interviewed her too!



I had no idea my passion for filming, editing and talking to other artists would open my world so much! And yet somehow I was asked to interview filmmaker Livi Zheng at the New York premiere of her documentary, Bali Beats of Paradise! 




And I have to give a nod to my former Off Broadway co-star, John Di Domenico, who let me in on his process of becoming a top Trump impersonator and then let me interview him in character!

 


It's been an incredible year, and I'm editing 3 more episodes to release before the year is out, so I better get back to work!

Pop on by YouTube and let me know which episodes you like!


Big thanks to Laura Dowling Shea for being a guiding light!

 


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bonnie Gillespie

When I moved to New York, like any actor, I took a bunch of temp jobs, which ranged from highly stressful to total boredom. Someone who got me through the tedium of those desk jobs was a casting director from LA named Bonnie Gillespie. She wrote for Backstage and Actors Access, and her down-home vibe combined with a crystal clear knowledge of show biz plus her generous spirit in helping actors fine-tune their tools totally won me over.
Fast forward to a few years ago when I met actress Suzanne Smart who's been on Daredevil, Madoff, and Iron Fist. We were chatting at a casting director workshop, and she told me that Bonnie makes biannual trips to New York to teach the basics of her book, "Self-Management for Actors." So when Bonnie visited next, I was in her class, and it was FANTASTIC!

(Masterclass with Bonnie Gillespie and some NY Ninjas)

I don't want to give away her process. Like they say for the Harry Potter movies/play #keepthesecrets. All I can say is I went in with my headshot and resume, and walked out with a better understanding of how I'm seen as an actor - one paper and in person - and much more! One of the gals in class, Lisa Budwig, created a Facebook forum where we NY ninjas could meet, and from there, I met this entire community of creative artists.

I began coaching with Bonnie, because I wanted to dive deeper. Then I met actress-producer Laura Dowling Shea through Bonnie's Get in Gear for the Next Tier, and Laura gave me a big nudge to start filming my own work, and she connected me to Ela Thier who helped me with some of the "how's" of filmmaking.



Bonnie always says, "Flip out your phone and just DO IT" with regards to self-taping auditions, so I figured, "Let's put on a show!"

I thought about my love for New York, and how I have friends and family who can't get here easily, so I created my web series, Laura Loves NY, as a way of sharing my love of the city with others. An incredibly cool bonus is that I've been able to interview other artists who love this city as much as I do. I always ask them their favorite place in the city, and we usually film there.

Last month, Bonnie was in the city, and I had the immense honor of having her on my show. Dive into the deliciousness!




Monday, November 19, 2018

Laura Loves Bali: Beats of Paradise

One of the things I love about New York is that it's a melting pot of cultures and film festivals. :) So when I was asked to interview director Livi Zheng at the New York premiere for her beautiful documentary, Bali: Beats of Paradise, I was SO psyched!


The film is GORGEOUS! It's about a Balinese performer-dancer-musician, Nyoman Wenten, who teaches gamelan in Southern CA where I grew up! Talk about a wild connection.
The film also shows how Wenten collaborated with Grammy Award winner, Judith Hill, to bring Balinese music and dance into the modern world.


Judith Hill is a fabulous singer-songwriter in her own right, and their collaboration is delicious!

I was fortunate to interview Judith at the New York Premiere as well, and she shared some behind-the-scenes stories on learning the Balinese dance for her music video, Queen of the Hill.

I also met American composer Jody Diamond who's been teaching gamelan and arranging for this ensemble of instruments and artists for almost 50 years! She had awesome stories about Lou Harrison whom she worked with in Joshua Tree, and she told me how the instruments "found" her when she was a college student, and that a chance encounter where the instrument "played her" became a lifelong profession.

Catch all this gorgeousness in my web series, Laura Loves NY:


Bali: Beats of Paradise is currently playing in theatres in New York and LA, and I hope you'll treat yourself to this beautiful film! It'll leave you breathlessly inspired!