Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Highlights

One of my favorite columnists, casting director Bonnie Gillespie, recently posed this question to her readers: What did you learn in 2008? The responses were all so wonderful and educational, and that's one of the reasons I love that column so much. There's this great sense of community and shared knowledge.

For me, there were so many great strides and a sense of expansion last year. As I assess it all, I have this feeling of "putting things in order" as I get ready for the New Year.

I think the big lesson for me this year was simply to embrace all aspects of myself. Something a friend had told me years ago was to "Embrace the 3 B's: BIG, BOLD, and BEAUTIFUL!" In the theatre, this is such a great mantra, because so many of the characters I have played fully call for the 3 B's.

I got to stretch my wings and play Judy Garland, making an angelic appearance from heaven for the musical revue, Hell's Belles. For weeks, I watched clips of her interviews and performances. It was an incredible gift to immerse myself in Judy, and another gift to have a director who kept urging me to go bigger with my embodiment of her. When you're playing someone that "big," you can't be small. And that was another amazing thing! Judy and I were the same height: 4'11". Just a funky coincidence.

The 3 B's definitely applied to Judy, and it was wonderful to see and hear the audiences' reaction to my portrayal of her.

The 3 B's also applied to Barbara Webster, the tempestuous southern belle in the Off Broadway revival of Charles MacArthur's 1940's play, Johnny on a Spot. I had worked with director Dan Wackerman on the staged reading of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn with Emily Skinner, and when he called me in for Johnny On A Spot, I felt like Jean Harlow. Sassy, sexy... a real firecracker! Getting to play Barbara was such a blast!

Another thing I learned this year is commitment. This was especially true with getting engaged to my sweetheart of many years. We took a very important and absolutely joyous step. And boy, did he give me a sparkly! Wow!

Commitment is also required in one's art. I especially learned this in comedy since great comedy works when the artists are fully committed to the situation, no matter how outlandish it might be. You can see this in the masters like Chaplin, and it was SO apparent in the movie Tropic Thunder. It worked and worked well.

When I booked the modern farce, Kaboom, I had no idea how far I'd stretch! Boy, was it awesome! The script was constantly being retooled, and there was tons of memorization, not to mention mastering the intensely focused energy of a fast-paced farce. Director BT McNicholl was phenomenal with keeping rehearsals positive and focused. He also really helped me understand the speed of such a comedy, and it's a pity we only got to perform 5 shows, because by the 5th show, the entire cast had really found the groove of the piece and it was a delight!

Playing Kandy in Kaboom was like being on a sugar high, and I actually felt a similar energy with Barbara in Johnny On a Spot. These two characters demanded that I put my foot on the gas and go! :)

To be challenged like that, and to hear the reward of the audiences' laughter and applause - both of these characters got "exit applause" on their major exits - was such a blast!

So what did I learn? To get out of my own way - NO LIMITATIONS - and to trust myself.

These are great gifts to take into 2009. It's going to be sublime!

Happy New Year!!!!

No comments: