Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An Early Spring?

This morning, with the rain drizzling throughout Manhattan, it felt so much like Spring! Of course, once the rain subsided, a cool breeze swept in to remind us all its still Winter in the Big Apple! And this leads me to today's post: yummy reading to tide us all over until Spring! :)

My friend, Tina, an awesome soul sister from PA, created this groovy magazine called The Essential Herbal. In these times of going green, Tina was ahead of it all with focusing on natural soaps, herb gardens, essential oils, etc. Her upcoming mag focuses on the importance of home-grown goods, and to get a taste of it all, she's offering a free download of last Spring's magazine:

It's an awesome magazine, and I actually started writing for it a few months ago. My article is called "Deep Within the Core." Hope you dig it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

For whom the Belles toll...

Ah, it's always sad when a show ends. You've poured your heart and soul into a project for however long it lasts and then it's over and you're onto the next project!

Hell's Belles
went out with a blast! The last set of shows were full of surprises. On Thursday about 10 of my office-mates from my supplemental job came to see the show, and that was so cool. It's great when people get to see what you really do, ya know? Then on Friday, the audience went absolutely WILD for my portrayal of Judy Garland. They just kept breaking into applause in the middle of the song or after a speech, and it felt so transcendent. Just me in the spotlight, warmly embraced by the audience and the music... It was amazing!

Saturday matinee had us on the edge of our seats! The music director, the lovely Elaina Cope, was trapped on a train in Brooklyn. And our light operator, Barb, was delayed as well. The cast was afraid the audience would be restless or disappointed, but when we finally were able to go on, they were such a joy! Every song was greeted with great applause and joyous laughter.

Saturday night we sold out. My friend, Babs, suprised me and came to the show. I actually was very blessed with support from friends and must give shout-outs to Rob, Michael, Carl, Ataman, Jayne, Richard, George, Andy, Tracey, Lani, Bob & Carol, Steve, Dimitri, Lindsay, Tina, and to all the friends and family who wanted to come but couldn't make the trip from afar: THANK YOU ALL!

Sunday afternoon was our last show and it ended sweetly. Such a great crowd and such a fun show.

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to perform in a new musical and to play such amazing women like Judy Garland and Janis Joplin. Just the research alone was worth it, getting to see them do their thing, captured on film, availble to the masses thanks to YouTube, and then getting to bring them to life in my own way. Wow! What an incredible opportunity!

Thanks to Tweiss Productions, our marvelous director John Znidarsic, and our tremendously talented cast: (left to right): Elaina Cope (our amazing musical director), Deb Radloff, Omri Schein, Alicia Sable, John Znidarsic, and me. :)

Happy Trails!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Week 2 of Hell's Belles

Finally! I got the chance to get some pics backstage during the midst of our fast and furious 85 minute run of Hell's Belles. I tell you, it's like running a marathon! But it's wonderfully fun. :)

The West End Theatre is a lovely little theatre in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew on the Upper West Side. It's on the 2nd floor and has red velvet seats, curtains, even a little chandelier!

This "infernal musical revue" starts with the devil of musical theatre (Omri Schein) and his 3 showghouls (pictured in an earlier post).

We 3 girls turn into all sorts of characters throughout the show. I go right from Lady Godiva to the temptress Salome. Eleanor Roosevelt, played by the incredibly talented Deborah Radloff (below left) busts in on my song and we end up trying to get ahead of each other (pun intended):
A miscellaneous pop star (Alicia Sable) gets stuck in Hell but she gets to groove with Janis Joplin:

Left: Alicia Sable and me as Janis Joplin

Right: Me with our delightful wardrobe mistress, Kat Martin.

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford bust out of their dressing rooms and battle it out (Deb Radloff as Bette and me as Joan):
Fortunately, Judy Garland shows up to save the day. I get the 11 o'clock number as Judy Garland, and it is a thrill to look out at the audience and see these huge smiles of delight on their faces:

Then we close the show with a rousing gospel number, so there's something for everyone! :)
(Left: me, our incredible musical director Elaina Cope, Omri Schein, Deborah Radloff, and Alicia Sable)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Growing and Growing

Our opening weekend for Hell's Belles feels like a nice start. We had delightful audiences with a different vibe each night. Saturday's matinee was a very intellectual crowd - they got all the literary and highbrow jokes - while the Friday and Saturday evening shows were wonderfully raucous. Some audiences have cheered for us Belles the moment we take the stage, and that always sets such a cool tone. We come out as "showghouls" and then transform into various historical "wicked women" throughout the evening. Each character has a story to tell and a song to sing. It's a lot of fun.

The crowds have also been lovely after the show, and I've had definite shout-outs for me and my alter egos, "Janis" and "Judy." Everyone asks how hard is it to make my quick changes (especially my many changes into Lady Godiva), and I tell them it's like running a marathon: fast and fun and exhilirating!

We have one more week of performances - Wednesday through Sunday - and it'll be fun to see how this journey continues to roll along. Hope you can join the fun!

Friday, January 18, 2008

There's a great line....

In the movie Tootsie Bill Murray's character is a budding playwright who says that he doesn't want "a full house at the Winter Garden (theatre)." He wants a few people "who've just come out of the worst rainstorm in history.... These are people who are alive on the planet... until they dry off."

That's the audience we had last night.... and they were wonderful!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Hellacious Opening ;)

Hell's Belles opened last night and our hard work seems to have paid off, because the audience graced us with generously loud applause. I was especially thrilled that my portrayal of Judy Garland was so warmly embraced, because as I looked out into the audience, I saw all these smiling faces, just beaming away at me. It was an incredible moment.

I'll have to get more of my character pics, though it's a challenge to do so because this show is like running a marathon. I change into 8 different characters in the span of 85 minutes, going from a devilish chorus girl to Lady Godiva, Salome, Janis Joplin, Alice B. Toklas, Princess Di, Joan Crawford and Judy Garland. Each character has their own song, though Lady Godiva (pictured left) makes the most quick-change appearances throughout the show, and I'm just praying I won't trip on my 5 feet long blonde wig.

Here's a picture of our motley crew right before the opening number, a devil and his "showghouls":

Left to right: Deb Radloff, me, Elaina Cope (our fabulous musical director in front), Omri Schein and Alicia Sable.

We have 11 more shows, running January 16-27, so if you're in the mood for "an infernal musical revue," come on down!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Clothes! Glorious Clothes!

With one week of rehearsals done, and less than a week to go before opening night of Hell's Belles, we had our costume fitting today. It was at the prestigious Starrett-Lehigh Building on 26th and 12th Avenue. I'd never been there before, and boy, was it posh! Executives and designers bustled about while delivery men and women moved shipments in and out. There was this great sense of "chic" that simply oozed out onto the sidewalk. :)

Once inside, I headed to the 3rd floor to Costume Collections where row upon row of costumes greeted me. Gorgeous stuff! I was in heaven! Then I met up with our costume designer, Gail Cooper-Hecht. She is a marvelously refined lady with a great sense of style and humor. I LOVE her vision of this show! Its so incredibly unique and we had a blast trying on all of the costumes that will clothe these famous women I get to play. My favorite was Judy Garland's "Get Happy" look from the movie Summer Stock. To put on that tuxedo jacket and jaunty black hat... well... all I could say was, "Wow!"

When you read a script (or any material for that matter), you get your own ideas about how something should look, but then a master or mistress designer takes the material into their hands, and that's when the magic happens! I noticed that earlier in the week when we first started rehearsing in the theatre. The set designer had begun to transform the space into... well, Hell! :) And it set the mood for sure! Then you add the music and the players and the lights and costumes and the audience....

That's what I love about theatre! We all come to the table with our own unique dishes, working together to create a delicious feast for the senses. Bon apetite!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Starting the New Year with a Bang!

Does anyone else feel like we've simply zoomed into 2008? I celebrated the New Year in CA with my family and friends, rockin out 2007 with one of my brother's bands, Hippie Cream. This was my first time seeing them live, and if you get the chance to see them, DO IT! Seriously, it was one of the wildest and most enjoyable concerts I've been to in a long time. Completely inventive and fun. Reminded me of some of Oingo Boingo's early stuff. I'll have to post pics and expound their virtues further in another post. :)

Right now, I'm deep into rehearsals for Hell's Belles, "an infernal musical revue." I'm playing Lady Godiva, Salome, Alice B. Toklas, Joan Crawford, Princess Di, Janis Joplin and Judy Garland, to name a few. The music is in the style of each of these characters, and it has been such a treat to research these women and bring them to life. Janis Joplin has always been my rock and roll queen, and it is a thrill to play her. Godiva is a hoot - can't wait to see the costume or lack thereof. And who wouldn't want the chance to play Judy Garland? I get a kick out of the fact that Judy and I have the same height in common: 4'11". There is some incredible footage of her on YouTube. One of my favorites is her duet with Sammy Davis. Though Judy wasn't in good voice for the number, her acting in astounding. Watching her performance of "Smile" is mind-blowingly inspirational!

Here's info for the show: January 16-27 at the West End Theatre on 263 W. 86th Street. Wednesdays - Saturdays 8 PM. Matinees Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.
If you're in the Big Apple, come on down!