Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: What a trip!

It's been a really weird year, seeing people go through incredibly traumatic times, doing what I can to help. I am hopeful that each day brings people closer together, hopeful that people will let go of hate and really let love light the way.

Not to get heavy. I just care.

My husband always says that laughter is the best medicine, and I found in 2012 that my artistic adventures were indeed more skewed towards comedy. It was cool to hear many a casting director discover, "Oh! You're funny!" ;)

Most of my work was Off-Off Broadway, and I took part in several readings. At the Manhattan Theatre Club, I played Judy Garland and Janis Joplin in the musical, Hell's Belles, which has a Forbidden Broadway vibe. I've been involved with this show since 2008, and the audiences are incredibly loyal. Many folks have come up to me after each presentation, telling me that I remind them so strongly of Judy Garland, that they can see and hear her entire career in my performance. I'm always moved by how people respond to my take on Judy, and I'm thrilled to take them down memory lane.

Wayne Henry, a friend of mine from the Off Broadway play Johnny on a Spot, caught me in Hell's Belles at HA! Comedy Club, and asked if I'd be interested in playing Sally, the quirky female lead in JAWS: The Musical! Wayne wrote the book, music and lyrics; took the basic premise of JAWS and made it entirely his own, focusing on a love story between the shark and a woman while finding plenty of humor for all the characters that inhabit "Amity Island." It was one of the most joyous experiences of the summer and ran from June to September at the Broadway Comedy Club.

Wayne is working on extending the 40 minute show into a full length musical for 2013, and I'm hoping we record some of the tunes, because they ROCK!

I also got to work on the new musical, "How to Marry a Divorced Man," reprising the role of Glenda, a punk rock mom going through a divorce, trying to find love and reboot her punk rock career. It was a lot fun! We did the reading at an art gallery in Manhattan, and as one of the producers said, I was the art! :)

I also found fulfillment, preparing for auditions and callbacks this year. I was called back for Martha in "The Secret Garden," received great response in my audition for Clarice in "Silence! The Musical," and was called in for leading roles in "Educating Rita" and "Urinetown."

Studying with LA acting teacher Tim Phillips was life-changing. I also took a 5 week commercial workshop with Brette Goldstein and video game voice overs with Kim Graham.

It was a good year, and I look forward to many more adventures in 2013. Hope your New Year is very happy!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Twinter Wonderland

Last week I had the pleasure of entertaining the masses via 360i's snowglobe cam at

Every time someone tweets about this project, 360i donates $5 towards Hurricane Sandy Relief.

360i is one of the online ad agencies I work for at my support job. They're a great company and have worked around my theatre schedule for the past 8 years. Since the main company I work for is global, I've been able to juggle hours successfully around both this job and my acting projects. They even gave me time off for a gig in Michigan!

So playing in the snowglobe last week was a real treat. I joined fellow comedian and improv clarinetist, Allison Hein. And Stephen Dauwalter alternated as Santa then a penguin. We even paid tribute to the Rockettes with the tiniest kickline ever!

I am very thankful to have a good support job, surrounded by other artists, innovators, techies, movers and shakers.

Here's to bringing some holiday cheer to everyone out there! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Blessing is in the "Break"

I don't know if it's the holidays or what, but this month in particular has me meeting up with old friends whom I haven't seen in years. Three in particular are actresses whom I loved working with, and it's a delight to share past adventures and learn from each other.

While I've stayed in NY, working on new plays and musicals Off and Off-Off Broadway, one friend has done the same thing and just closed a great play. Another friend went to grad school and was doing delicious work there. Another has been playing stellar roles in musicals throughout the country.

While we've all been very lucky, surviving the hurricane, one friend mentioned something about how "the blessing is in the break," and she equated it to the story Jesus breaking bread, miraculously building loaf upon loaf to feed the masses.

This made me think of all the ways artists view "the break." We're all looking for our "big break," and that seems to come about through discipline, persistence, patience, positivity, passion, and connecting with others.

My friend who went to grad school mentioned breaking bad habits as part of her acting process, and it makes me think of "tempered steel," how metal must be heated in order to be shaped.

                                     (Russian woman blacksmith in Siberia)

This also makes me think of the film, "The Life of Pi," which I saw last night (I'm now reading the book). I love the main character's view of religion since as a child he was initiaed in Hinduism, "met" Christ as a boy in a Christian church, and later discovered Allah. He viewed spirituality as different rooms in the same house. Not to get all preachy, but I love that sentiment, and the story of "The Life of Pi" sees a young man whose spirit is constantly tested when he's lost at sea in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.

Just when you think he's broken, something appears to lift him up. It's like the book The Alchemist, another fabulous spiritual adventure story.

So where does this put me and "breaks"? I feel like I'm excavating, digging for buried treasure within myself. There are classes I want to take to strengthen my acting and singing. My writing side is also calling to me, and there are projects I'm working on with friends. I can see the need to break bad habits, or to release old ways of thinking. It is time to change, to let go, stretch and grow, be persistent but flexible.

I am open to the ride.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Privilege to Act

I took a chance and hit two auditions today that were not my usual fare. One was playing an uptight homophobe in the new Off Bway play called "Hit the Wall." The other was for an old fashioned play from the 1930s-50s. I do a monologue by Paddy Chayefsky that's a passionate declaration of love, and it was such a treat to go from playing such a closed person in "Wall" to a woman making a stand for love in the other play. It really was a rush, and each audition room felt so full of possibility, alive with potential because of my commitment to these characters and their needs. It was an absolute blast and reminded me of why I love acting in the first place, that feeling of being creative and unfettered, playing and discovering. I love it!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Q&A after "Les Miz"

After the debut screening of "Les Miserables," director Tom Hooper (center) and cast members Samantha Barks (Eponine), Eddie Redmayne (Marius), Amanda Seyfried, and Anne Hathaway, joined Lincoln Center monitor Annette Insdorf (not seen here) for some Q and A with the audience. It was incredibly cool. The actors were asked about how they prepared for their roles, and Tom Hooper cited Victor Hugo's novel as the main source they all went back to. Anne Hathaway said she investigated the lives of sex slaves, which was heart-breaking, and they all talked about the stamina needed for singing through this musical.

I was impressed by Tom Hooper's decision to keep the musical sung-through. It's pretty much operatic in that vein, but I thought it worked. He said he had consulted Baz Luhrmann on this topic, and I was glad he did, because Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" is one of my favorite movie musicals.

Another question that was asked was about everyone's first experience with the stage musical and how it affected them. I thought that was a great question, and I want to pose it to you:

Where were you when you first heard about or saw Les Miz?

I was 19, and I was at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Upon hearing me sing, one of my classmates said I had to sing "On My Own" from Les Miz, and she shared the music with me. I ended up singing the song in a talent showcase where I met my future husband, so it has special significance to me.

I later worked with Gina Milo, who had understudied Eponine and got to perform the role on Broadway. She and I became close in Lucky Stiff at Mason Street Warehouse. She was the quirky ingenue, and I was the big belty bad girl, so of course we had a blast together.

I recently did a musical theatre round table with some cast members from the Les Miz tour and Broadway production, so I got to see first-hand rehearsals of "Stars" an "Empty Charis and Empty Tables." It was really incredible work!

Seeing the film version of Les Miz yesterday made me think of these talented performers I have been fortunate to play with, and I'm inspired to keep working in the field. As Tom Hooper said in last night's Q and A, there is something extra emotional that comes out of an actor when they sing. It's like they access another part of themselves and bring something else to the table.

Les Miz

I was incredibly fortunate to see an advanced screening of the film, Les Miserables, at Lincoln Center yesterday. Tom Hooper, the director, welcomed the massive crowd, saying he had just completed the film at 2 AM, so we were the first audience to see the movie in its completed form. You can imagine how special that made us feel.

The film, as one friend put it, was EPIC. The opening scene was amazing, and I don't want to spoil it, because it was so powerful. People should see it for themselves.

Hooper said he looked to Victor Hugo's novel to guide him through the musical, and I was very impressed at the references to the novel. Granted, I don't remember much of it since my last reading in high school, but ValJean's strength was something that was highlighted, and through Hooper's interpretation, I realize this was physical as well as inner strength of spirit.

Hugh Jackman was fantastic as Jean Valjean, a man who serves 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread and trying to escape the harsh confines of prison. He was brilliant.

The whole cast did an incredible job, particularly Anne Hathaway, as Fantine, a woman struggling to make ends meet for her daughter, Cosette. I have heard many renditions of "I Dreamed a Dream," and Anne's is completely new, raw and real. There was not a dry eye in the house!

I heard one audience member say he felt the film filled in gaps in the musical, because the story-telling was so strong. It was clear why every character was doing what they were doing.

One thing I missed from the stage play was seeing the whole body of the actor particularly in the solos. There were some intense close-ups that made me uncomfortable, but left me in tears, so I guess something was working! :) But I do feel the film will still drive people to the stage musical, because both have something different to offer audiences.

Something I loved about the film was the environment. Everything was so visceral. I felt like I was in this world with the characters.

The ensemble piece "One Day More" was particularly well done, and I loved seeing the personal journey of each character as they raced to get to tomorrow while trying to grapple with the present.

I'll leave the rest of the critiques to other reviewers. Suffice it to say that the film and music have stayed with me, and I'm sure everyone who sees the film will have a very personal reaction.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Kindness and Compassion

It's been a weird couple of weeks, and that's putting it mildly. As "life goes on" here on the East Coast, I can tell many of us New Yorkers are still trying to "find our feet" after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. We're trudging to work, thankful to have jobs to go, but we're all exhausted.

I have two jobs. I'm an actress and I work with an online advertising company below Canal Street. We just got access to the building this week. Everything looks "normal," but you can tell people are still devastated. So many people are still without power, or power is intermittent.

I was called into some auditions this week, and it's been interesting getting to and from places. Thanks to the MTA workers for making things happen so quickly with the subways and trains!

I keep thinking of what Judi Dench said about "acting is a job" and sometimes you don't want to go "out there," but that's your job: to go "out there."And boy, have people been putting themselves out there in amazing ways, donating time, food, clothes, power sources...

Facebook has been helpful because friends and "friends of friends" are shouting out for help or providing it, and we all are sharing the info. There is a definite sense of community.

In Manhattan, people seem to be speaking kinder to each other. I ask everyone I run into - absolutely everyone - if they're ok, how they were affected by the storm, and they look at me in shock, but then we share that "where were you when" moment, and there's a sense of comfort and connection. A little kindness goes a long way!

We all were affected by this terrible disaster, and I am thankful for so much. May we all share kindness and compassion at this time. Every day would be great!

If you or someone you know needs help, has a ton of links and helpful info.

Take care!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Finding the Funny

As a kid, my parents dubbed me, Dramatic. I must've watched "Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz" too many times, so my response to things was either as Dorothy or Scarlet O'Hara. :)

Luckily my Dad had a penchant for Mel Brooks' movies, so I was exposed to Blazing Saddles, History of the World, Space Balls, and my favorite, Young Frankenstein.

At school, I threw myself into drama, but my funny bone must've been showing, because I landed some comic roles. Even my first professional acting gig - in the Shakespeare troupe for the PA Renaissance Faire - focused on comedy. Juliet, I wasn't.

So here in NY, I continue to "find the funny." It's actually a game my husband came up with. How can you take something ordinary and find it funny?

I'm also nurturing my funny factor in my film and TV classes. Luckily my coaches are helping me to hone my craft. In my current commercial class with Brette Goldstein, she showed me how "the comedy is in the switch (of intention)." All I have to do is commit to it.

Preparing for my audition for Silence! The Musical, I let my imagination run wild! I took a standard musical theatre song and tailored it to the show and the character I wanted to play. It was a risk, but I'm realizing comedy is all about taking risks. And luckily, the risk paid off. I got great feedback from the casting director about how to go even further with my piece for a callback.

So for my next trick, I'm working on a script for a YouTube sketch with my JAWS friend and fellow writer, Wayne Henry. It's fun letting the ideas fly in, putting them to paper, and seeing what comes up. I was going to say, The sky's the limit, but there is no limit! We are only limited by thinking we are.

So here I go!

Friday, October 12, 2012

"At Night He Swims Home to Me" on YouTube

I finally got a chance to post a clip from JAWS the Musical on YouTube.

Part 1:
Part 2: The Big Finish:

In JAWS the Musical, I played Sally, the big-hearted, big-voiced heroine who falls in love with the Great White shark. In the song, "At Night He Swims Home to Me," Sally uses some macabre methods to bring her sweetheart back to her.

Hope you dig it! :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Life in a suitcase

This past week makes me think of Judy Garland's song, "Born in a Trunk" from a "Star is Born," because I've been living out of my suitcase. Not only that, but I had 3 separate bags for 3 specific events.
One was for the closing show for JAWS the Musical, filled with my costume, props and gifts for the cast. We had a blast of a last show. Thanks to everyone who came and caught that wave! ;)

The 2nd bag was for a quick trip to PA to celebrate my father-on-law's 70th birthday. I had sent pictures to my sister-in-law for a slideshow of his life, and I tell ya, that was something to see! 70 years in pictures! Amazing! I hope I live so long! :)

The 3rd bag was filled with my "punk" gear for a sold out invite-only concert of the new pop musical, "How To Marry a Divorced Man."I played Glenda, a punk rocker juggling motherhood and trying to revive her career. It was incredibly fun! We performed at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, and I felt a little bit like Lisbeth Salander, walking around this very rich museum, dressed as a punk rocker.

At last I'm home again, very happy from my travels, looking forward to the next adventure! :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Saying Good-bye to the Great White Shark

Tomorrow is our final performance of JAWS the Musical. This show has been such a blast to do this summer, so it seems fitting that the "beach" is closing right before the first day of Autumn.

We've received some great notices, and I hope we'll keep working on the show to take it to a full-length production. Right now, it's a 40 minute pop rock funfest that is leaving people asking for more!

Our last interview this year was conducted by Molly Equality Dykeman. She posted a hysterical interview with JAWS the Musical's writer, Wayne Henry, and I believe she'll be posting a cast interview soon.

Here were some of my silly answers:

Weirdest thing that happened backstage: When the staff at the comedy club took our "dressing room" apart while we were changing right after the show. The audience got a whole new view of the cast as they left the club.

Least favorite cast member and why: The severed leg. He just lays there! ;)

Any Showmances? The whole cast is a lovefest! I adore each and every one of them! Gonna miss them like crazy!

Do you have a fear of sharks? Ironically, YES! When I was a kid, I had a terrible fear of sharks. I still do! The JAWS theme would send me running from the room! Now it makes me run onstage!

What's it like to work with a real live shark? I love it! John Flynn makes me fall in love with his Great White every time! ;)

Best audience responses? I love when people say they want to see the show again! It's also a blast to share my big number, with them: "At Night He Swims Home To Me." It's a fabulous pop ballad with some big belty fireworks at the end, and I feel so thankful to get to sing that song. It is a thrill every time! And the audience is right with me! Feels like a rock concert!

This show has been a blast, and I will truly miss playing with our fabulously fun group! Hope to see you all next summer!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Busy Weeks Ahead!

I thought last week was busy with 2 shows, an audition for Educating Rita for Florida Rep, a voice over class and juggling work.

This week and next will be just as full! I've got a video game voice over class with Kim Graham at Judy Henderson Casting. SO MUCH FUN! I have to edit the clips before posting, but I've played everything from a sassy southern waitress to a perky tennis player and a hard-core German DJ named Helga. ;)

JAWS the Musical swims off into the sunset this Friday at 6:30 at the Broadway Comedy Club. While Amity Island closes up for the winter, we're hoping to expand this show's running time and horizons. I'm planning on recording my big power ballad from the show sometime this Fall / Winter.

Over the weekend, I'm celebrating my father-in-law's 70th birthday. I keep thinking of 70 years, ya know? Living one's life. He has great kids, amazing grandkids, and has helped to shape all our lives through his quiet strength and boisterous humor. I'm looking forward to celebrating with him!

Then on Monday, I play Glenda, an ex-punk rocker trying to revive her career while juggling motherhood in the new musical by Clare Cooper and Bryan D. Leys, "How to Marry a Divorced Man."

We're doing a private reading at The National Arts Club at 15 Gramercy Park South. If you'd like to inquire about seats, contact Tweiss Productions at 

It's a very fun show about people looking for love. The music is an upbeat RnB rock 'n roll flavor with some delicious pop ballads. I get to do a "punk ballad" called "Work," which is a fast-paced rant about my ex-husband being a workaholic, and then I've got this groovy little number called, "I'm Not You," where my character compares herself to her ex's latest flame.

I have a blast playing Glenda, because I get to bring out my inner punk rocker, pink hair and all. I scoop it up into a faux hawk for the show, but the Katy Perry look works too. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

2 more shows for JAWS the Musical

There are only 2 more shows for JAWS the Musical this month, and though I have a feeling we'll be back, I'm already missing the gang.

We did a promo for the show this past Monday at The PIT, and it was such a blast! Even on the fly, we seem to be able to perform anywhere, and I think that's a testament to how connected our cast is. True, most of these folks have been improvising together for years, but I feel like they took me in! :)

Clare Cooper
is our rockin' musical director. She can play anything, any time, anywhere! She was even playing in the near-dark at The PIT, but she totally rocked the house! She's just amazing! And I'm delighted to get to play with her again in her own musical, "How To Marry a Divorced Man."

Brett Douglas plays my sweetheart Chad, and he steals every show, I swear! I get such a kick out of playing with him!

John Flynn plays the titular shark, and he is so incredibly talented! Such a great voice, and he just owns the stage! He moves as a shark, which means to say he is constantly in motion, because a shark can't stop swimming! As Byrne Harrison from wrote, "How do you make a shark funny and sympathetic?  Ask Flynn because he nailed it."

                            me, John Flynn, Wayne Henry, Jason Salmon, and Suzanne Stein

Wayne Henry, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for the show also plays Hooper, the Richard Dreyfuss role, and I just adore him! He wrote my big number, "At Night He Swims Home to Me," which every audience has just gone nuts for, and I am so thankful for the gift of that song! Such a treat!

Jason Salmon plays Chief Brody, and his dry humor cracks me up every time! Seriously, I think he could be the next Tim Allen! He's off to Vegas our last show (just booked a stand-up gig), so our director, Steven McElroy will be stepping in, and we're all looking forward to giving him a run for his money! ;)

      Suzanne Stein as Quint, Jason Salmon and Brody, and Wayne Henry as Hooper

Last but not least is the incomparable Suzanne Stein as the salty seadog, Quint. She is a mistress of disguise, morphing her face, body and voice into the role made famous by Robert Shaw. ;) People love her faces, and she does a tap-dance at one point that always brings down the house! Such a funny lady!

I love them all! Looking forward to diving into this show a few more times. Hope we continue to grow with it!

If you want to catch JAWS the Musical, we're at the Broadway Comedy Club
318 West 53rd Street bet. 8th and 9th Ave.
Final performances
Saturday, September 15th @ 5:30 pm
Friday, September 21st @ 6:30 pm

$10 tix (cash) at the door plus 1 drink minimum Email to reserve seats. Mention number in your party, performance date. Show runs @ 40 minutes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Educating Rita

I got a call to audition for the title character in "Educating Rita" for Florida Rep, and it's been such a pleasure to revisit this character. I've played Rita before in CA at The Palace West Playhouse and won the Inland Theatre League Award. That was a lovely production, and I'm excited to see how tomorrow's audition goes, to see if I'm on the same page with this company's vision of the play. Of course, I can only control my portrayal of this character, and I have to thank my acting coaches for their reminders about that. As Tim Phillips says in "Audition for Your Career," auditions become much more satisfying when you look at it like, "Look who I get to play today!"

Willy Russell has crafted such a great play about a young woman trying to discover herself through higher learning. To get to play Rita for tomorrow's audition is a treat!

I've reacquainted meself with the Liverpudlian accent, getting the music of it. There's a great documentary on the Scouse accent on YouTube. And of course, Julie Walters and Michael Caine are sublime in the film version. If you're interested, check it out!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Audience

One of the things I love about live theatre is the connection that happens with the audience. They are definitely a partner in any live performance!

I feel very fortunate to have had some really magical moments with audiences. When I played Audrey in Little Shop, a little boy begged his mom to meet me at the stage door because he had to "make sure Audrey was ok." :)

When I toured with Theaterworks, we played at the Grand Ole Opry, which was seriously amazing. It felt like a rock concert.

From Hell's Belles, I've had people come up to me after the show, swearing I took them through Judy Garland's entire career. Or they'll call out, "Hey Janis!" ;)

With JAWS the Musical, the crowds have been so awesome, just ready to take the ride!
This weekend I performed a song from the show at the Sharkbite Sideshow, which was an incredibly fun burlesque show. The dancers were very talented and had a great sense of humor, and the host, a magician named Cardone, was excellent!

The crowd was made up of a lot of men and women who'd just gotten out of their corporate jobs, ready to unwind at the very trendy R Bar. The entrance to the Sharkbite Sideshow was through giant shark teeth, so that set the tone!

I came on towards the end of the show, and the crowd was just wonderful! I sang the power ballad from JAWS, "At Night He Swims Home to Me," and they went wild! Definite shark lovers! :) A few folks even put up their phones or hands to sway along with me like it was a rock concert. It was so incredibly cool!

I love what I do. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Shark Lovers at the Sharkbite Sideshow

Performing in JAWS the Musical has brought me into contact with shark lovers from everywhere!

When the show extended in July, we heard from "Joe the Shark," a gentleman who runs a shark-themed burlesque show called Sharkbite Sideshow at the R Bar on the East Side. Burlesque has been making a major comeback in Manhattan, and I know a gal who's a fellow classmate from Josh Pais' acting class, who regularly performs.

The cool thing about the Sharkbite Sideshow is that part of the proceeds go to shark conservation efforts. Also, any scuba divers or shark enthusiasts get in for half price!

Joe contacted Wayne Henry, the writer of JAWS the Musical and asked if he could raffle 2 tickets for our show at this Friday's Sharkbite Sideshow. Wayne agreed and also asked if I could perform a song from the show, so I'm performing in my first burlesque! I feel like Gypsy Rose Lee! ;)

Billed with "the allure of burlesque, the wit and wisdom of a good story, and the mayhem of a circus sideshow," the lineup of performers look fascinating! There's Sasha FireGypsy, story-telling by Princess Sunshine,  Minnie Tonka, Coco Te Amo,  Nelson Lugo,  Kyssy Kocktail, Bunny Buxom, ballerina Aurora Black, and host Cardone. Sounds like a wonderfully wild night!

I'll be singing the powerhouse ballad, "At Night He Swims Home to Me."

Only at R-BAR this Friday August 24th
218 Bowery. 8-10pm. $10 tickets.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shark Week

When I was a kid and the theme to JAWS would come on TV, I would immediately leave the room. I was so afraid of even the thought of that great white shark! And now, I play a woman who falls in love with one in the musical version!

Cue Alanis Morrissette's "Isn't it ironic?" ;)

Sharks have been showing up everywhere for me ever since I started doing this show! People in NY are wearing shark shirts more often than not. There are shark bookmarks! Even while on vacation I saw a landshark someone had carved out of the sand!

It's been really cool actually. My husband has always liked sharks and would try to sneak on Shark Week whenever it was on the Discovery Channel. It's their 25th Anniversary, and it seems fitting that next week, I'll sing "At Night He Swims Home to Me" in honor of a shark. :)

 (JAWS cast: Me, John Flynn, Wayne Henry, Jason Salmon and Suzanne Stein)

Friday, July 20, 2012

JAWS the Musical extends!

This little musical comedy about a great white shark seems to be drawing crowds! 

 The 40 minute pop rock funfest by Wayne Henry will continue its run at the Broadway Comedy Club:

Friday, August 3rd at 6:30pm
Saturday, August 25th at 6:00pm
Saturday, September 15th at 5:30pm
Friday, September 21st at 6:30pm

We had 5 shows this past month, and  audiences have really ridden the wave with us! It's so coo! We're hooked! ;)