Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Birth of a Show

When I first moved to New York, I had never heard of the wonderful realm of "readings." All of the work I'd done prior had been in regional theatre with well-known works like Educating Rita, or Little Shop of Horrors, or it was improv-based.

Then I came to NY, did a few showcases, and even won the NYMF award for my work in The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun.

After that I met with "Acting As a Business" guru, Brian O'Neill, who suggested I get involved with more shows at the "ground level," and do readings.

Now, for those of you who've never been to a reading, it's a performance where the actors have the script in hand, and are often sitting, simply reading from it. Sometimes people are invited to these things, sometimes it's just for the writers and producers to hear how it's taking shape. And sometimes the readings are staged - hence "staged readings." Audiences are definitely in demand for this latter kind of performance.

Ironically, since Mr. O'Neill gave me that advice a few years ago, readings have miraculously come my way. People I worked with before began working on new projects and asked if I could help. Well, sure!

It's incredibly cool to be part of a show in its early stages. I've done demo recordings for plenty of new musicals, including Lilly's Big Day, Hell's Belles, Vienna, Argentina Rumpus. I even recorded the first demo and performed a song at BMI for the new musical The Kid.

And in the dramatic realm, I performed with Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham in the staged reading of the tragic-comedy, Sin, and last Fall I worked with Tony nominee Heather Laws on the staged reading of the dark comedy, Got You.

Not only were these incredible opportunities to work with super talented people, these projects were so diverse and new... We all were making discoveries as we went along!

So last night I was asked to perform in a reading hosted by the Hell's Belles creative team. They're working on a new musical called How to Marry a Divorce Man, loosely based on the novel, and it's really cute. It reminded me of my one woman show, Love in 35 Minutes, which I may have to revisit some day.

For How to Marry a Divorced Man, I played a vintage boutique owner named Glenda, and let me tell you, this character was a HOOT! Breezy and fun with a dash of punk rock. It was a blast!

And the cherry on the cake was being reunited with a bunch of folks I'd already worked with! From another staged reading, there was my Vienna castmate, Richard Binder, to whom I played Mrs. Sigmund Freud. There was Babs Winn, whom I supported on a crazy country sketch for The Onion. And I got to meet their friends and spouses, very talented folks who played other roles in our Divorced Man reading.

It was such fun and made me think of other shows that have "made it" like I love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. You just never know what show will strike a chord with today's audiences and really take off, and I admire the heck out of all artists who take the chance to put their work "out there" for all to see and hear. You have to take that chance, because you never know what might create your "Big Break," and it's a great chance to keep to grow!

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