Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Truvy Talks with SGT NYC

On Friday, I had the idea to interview the co-founders of Stomping Ground Theatre Company, Melissa Harlow and Angela Shultz, as my character Truvy from Steel Magnolias. I figured, if anyone would have a talk show, it would be Truvy!

I spoke with producer and all-around Renaissance man, Chad Miller, and he offered to film and edit the video. God bless him!

Chad turned this around quickly so we could post on Facebook and Twitter last weekend before the show ended, and I thought I'd share it with y'all here in Blogland. Welcome to Truvy Talks!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Men Behind the Magnolias

Working on Steel Magnolias at Stomping Ground Theatre Company has been such a special experience. As our stage manager, Melissa Harlow asked, "Does every cast and crew who does this show feel this much love?" Truly, it's a lovefest, and I adore every single person onstage and off.

That leads me to today's blog. Our entire crew is made up of very talented gents! Yes, we're guided by our divine director, Angela Shultz and stage manager, Melissa Harlow, whom I introduced in my last blog, so come meet the fabulous fellows behind the construction of Steel Magnolias!

The Production designer Dan Henkel (below left) of Design 42 Architecture built the set with Joe Bergquist (middle - he's also our fabulous radio announcer in Truvy's shop) and Steven Bolt (right), who also did the graphic design for this show.

The set really blew us away. From the chekerboard floor...

... to the functioning sink where Annelle accidentally splashes M'Lynn with the hose!

The details are off the charts! One of our producers, Chad Miller, worked with Terence Buckley and Chip Kraemer to create about 20 magazines from the '80s which fill Truvy's shop! "I get McCall's, Family Circle, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Ladies Home Journal, every magazine know to man!"

Jackson Simmonds gave me some professional tips on hair - and even gave Oiser a trim! And Jerry Phelps was our dialect coach since he grew up in that part of Louisiana.

Tony Ponella is our incredible Lighting and Sound Technician (below with Melissa Harlow). Seriously, the gunshots and dog barking in Act 1/scene 1 are a symphony! And the music before-during-and-after the show are such an ode to the '80s. We dance every night!

Dustin Eastwood is our costumer designer, below with Mel.

And the sensational Scott Koonce, whom I've dubbed my son, Poot, is our Production Assistant. He helps us get set up every night, and he's responsible for The Tree of Beauty (below with our director, Angela Shultz).

Seriously, this crew makes every day feel like Christmas!

Of course, the play wouldn't exist without the talents of playwright Robert Harling, who wrote it for his sister, Susan, so her son Robert would know how much his mother fought to have a normal life despite a debilitating struggle with diabetes.

It's a beautiful show, and truly an honor to be a part of it!

We've got 3 more performances, so if you'd like to join us, please do! We're at 410 W. 40th Street. Tickets are $18. Hope to see you in the salon! ;)

Monday, March 06, 2017

Meet the Magnolias!

There's something about "Steel Magnolias" that really moves people. Maybe it's the story of the young woman who fights to "have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special," despite her deadly struggle with diabetes. Maybe it's the generations of women who surround her and worry about her, who strive to keep the world spinning with laughter and love in spite of personal tragedies. Maybe it's all of the above!

Whatever it is, I am so honored to be opening the play by Robert Harling (based on the life of his sister and mother) this Friday at 8 PM in NYC!  This production by Stomping Ground Theatre Company is really magical, and I am amazed at all the work they've put into it. We even have a working sink for the salon! ;)

I don't know if it's the nature of this play, but there is something so wondrous about the women I'm working with! There is just so much love! It's a pleasure to go to work every day! :)

Meet the Magnolias!

Me as Truvy, the fabulously funny Katie Donnelly as Annelle, Rebecca Hoodwin as Hurricane Oiser, Katherine Alt Keener as M'Lynn (her final monologue makes us all reach for tissues), Anna Laura Strider (a former Miss Alabama!) as Shelby, and Joan Valentina as Clairee.

And we would be nowhere without our fearless director, Angela Shultz (below right), and sensational stage manager, Melissa Harlow (below left)

These ladies are the co-founders of Stomping Ground Theatre Company, and they put the power in powerhouses!

Steel Magnolias runs Friday through Sundays March 10-12 and 17-19 at 8 PM at 410 W. 40th Street.

Tickets are $18, a portion of which goes to Living Well, a life skills empowerment program at Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries for women who've experienced trauma. 

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. :)

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!