Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Terrific Teams

Last weekend, I filmed a sketch with the fabulous Wayne Henry, whom I've worked with for several years. He brought me on board with this wonderful cast, all of whom were deliciously talented. We spent most of the shoot cracking each other up! And afterwards, we were all abuzz with ideas and stories about Art and The Biz.


This is something I just LOVE, the energy that bubbles up amongst artists when they're in the groove and creating something as a team.

I've been so lucky to do a tremendous amount of that this year, working with terrific teams to create wonderful productions for the stage and on various screens.

It started with Steel Magnolias at Stomping Ground Theatre Company:


The co-founders, Angela Shultz and Melissa Harlow, the crew, the team spirit of SGT was simply amazing! It was everything theatre should be.


Then I re-teamed with Darg and Rayne for The Pound at the Signature Theatre. SO excited to have had my debut at this amazing Off Broadway theatre!


We also managed to record my big Park Ranger song from Sasquatched The Musical


Then I joined my Pageant Princess creators, Lorelei McKenzie and Kristen Penner, for a reading of the new pop musical, Pieces:


I went back to Stomping Ground Theatre Company to sing for their cabaret, Perspectives:


And I just wrapped filming with the incredible team behind Human Telegraphs:

 What a crew!

I feel so thankful to have worked with so many talented people this year, and I'm grateful they've invited me into their wonderful worlds, telling unique stories with heart and humor!

Happy Thanksgiving!




Thursday, November 09, 2017

Human Telegraphs

A few weeks ago, I guest-starred on this delightful new web series called, Human Telegraphs.


It's a charming show about 3 friends who decide to create an in-person messaging service, and they find themselves conveying very personal messages: everything from "I'm leaving you" to "You shoulda put a ring on it!" The humor is delicious, and the thing that really gets me is the HEART behind each story. 

Created by Three Bright Lights Productions - Kayla Conroy, Rachel Kay Barclay, and Fern Lim - these ladies are GO-GETTERS! I met them in May when they had me in to read for a few characters,  and then they contacted me in October to play "Joey," a whacky real estate gal from Brooklyn.


I had so much fun, working and playing with these gals! I'm in episode 4: "H Team vs. the Pemberlies"

The crew was mainly women - Samantha Pyra was the Cinematographer - but there were some marvelous men on set as well, particularly Michael Parker Kozak on Sound.



As our Script Supervisor, Alia Azamat said, "Professionalism has no gender."



"Only got a New York minute?" Check out the trailer here: http://humantelegraphs.com/watch

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!!!!

I've always loved Halloween! Playing dress-up has always been one of my favorite things. When I was a kid, I'd dive into my mother's closet, which held all sorts of treasures from the '70s like silver sandals, metallic belts with chunky turquoise, flowy nighties, and fun falls (hair extensions), and I'd emerge looking like a mini diva! At least, I felt fabulous! :)

My mom was awesome about making Halloween outfits. One of my favorites was Princess Leia. Observe the previously mentioned metal belt!


And of course, there was Wonder Woman, whom I emulated last year too :)


No wonder I became an actor! I get to dress up and play every day! :)

And I'm so lucky, because my husband is right with me!


Gotta fly! Have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Honor your playful, magical side. You're super!



Friday, October 06, 2017

Stomping Ground Theatre Company's Cabaret

Last weekend was LUSH!

I got to sing for Stomping Ground Theatre Company's cabaret, celebrating their 1st Anniversary in New York City! What an incredible amount of work this company has done in a year, and they're zooming into the next one!

They focus not only on new musicals, but on productions that empower people and tell stories from the heart. Thus, they got the rights to and produced Steel Magnolias last Spring, and I had the good fortune of playing Truvy! What an honor!


Then they did the new musical, Strike, based on the true story of Barbara Johns, a high school junior show led the entire student body of Robert Russa Moto high School to walk out in protest of their school's conditions.


And now they're producing "Christmas Letters," a musical they did a reading of last Fall. It'll be in full production for this Christmas :)


A song from that show was featured in the cabaret SGT hosted last weekend, and, to quote my husband, "The cabaret blew me away! Every single performer was unique and brimming with talent!"

There were 17 songs and 1 stand-up piece, the latter of which was done by Katie Donnelly, who played Annelle in Steel Magnolias (below left). She is off-the-charts funny, and I'm so honored I got to share the stage with her! More Magnolias lent their talents, including Anna Laura Strider, the gorgeous redhead below, who played our Shelby and hosted the evening. Our director, Angela Shultz, (bottom right), brought the house down with her rendition of "Not Getting Married Today," and our Oiser, Rebecca Hoodwin (top right below), gave us a sweet taste of "Georgia (on my mind)."


I sang, "Yes," by Cabaret masters, Kander and Ebb.



Then I sang the duet, "Move On" with Scott Koonce from Sunday in the Park With George.


Since the cabaret was called, "Perspectives," this song fit so beautifully since it's about an artist trying to find his own way of making "something new."

As Sondheim wrote, "Anything you do, let it come from you. Then it will be new. Give us more to see."

Stomping Ground is conducting a fundraiser to get some headset mics for their space, so if you can, please help them MAKE SOME NOISE! Thank you!



Friday, September 29, 2017

Perspectives

I've been working on my songs for Stomping Ground Theatre Company's cabaret, Perspectives. There are a bunch of talented people performing, honoring SGT's work for the past year, and it's a joy to be on the bill with them! Scott Koonce is directing and Brett Kristofferson is our marvelous piano man. There are even a few songs of Brett’s which are being sung.


It's also a mini reunion with 4 of the Steel Magnolias, including Katie Donnelly, who rocked the house as Annelle; Rebecca Hoodwin (far right below as Oiser); our director, Angela Shultz (below right); and our Shelby, Anna Laura Strider, the gorgeous redhead in the middle, is the emcee for the cabaret.


I'm singing 2 songs for the show, and one of the things I love about singing is the homework that goes with it: practicing the music, finding how it feels to sing it, where it moves in my voice, which places need strengthening, how to let it flow. And then there's the acting part of character creation, script analysis, understanding where the song fits into the story, and how can it stand alone for a cabaret?

It's FUN! I love all that stuff! And since I have a very busy life, I'm singing wherever I can, whenever I can. Sometimes it's in a rehearsal studio with my coach. Sometimes it's at home in my bedroom. When my husband and I traveled last weekend, I was singing in the hotel room. And I'm almost always singing on the street when I walk to my support job, or classes, callbacks and auditions. It's Manhattan! I WALK! :) And I rehearse where I can! Learn where I can! Enjoy it all where I can! That's my Perspective. :)


Fittingly, I'm singing "Yes" by Kander and Ebb, which is pretty much my anthem. And I'm doing the duet, "Move On," by Stephen Sondheim.

Years ago, I posed near a replica of George Seurat's painting in Saugutuck, MI, and I dreamed of playing Dot in "Sunday in the Park with George."


Tomorrow, I get to do just that!

Isn't it marvelous how the roads we travel loop back around to something we wanted to do. It's like everything's in bloom!

Tomorrow night's performance is at 8 PM at 410 West 40th Street "behind the red door!" Tix are available at the door, and are a suggested donation of $15.

Hope to see you there!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Singing in September

It has been a busy MUSICAL month! Cue Something Rotten's "It's.... a... musical!"

I kicked off September with a reading of a beautiful new musical called, Pieces. I don't know how much I can say about it, because it's so unique, and I want to respect the writers' decision of when, where and how to promote it. Suffice it to say, I fell in love with this cast in 3 days. It was incredibly special, and I was honored to be a part of it.


In the midst of "Pieces," I was called back for another musical, and got a callback for a commercial. Then received another callback for the same commercial. Woo! Now I'm hold (in the midst of "first refusal"), so I'll know next week what's what. Either way, it's been a blast!


I'm also in rehearsals for "Perspectives," a cabaret celebrating the first year of fabulousness (and next year's lineup) at Stomping Ground Theatre Company. I was fortunate to be hired by this fantastic company as Truvy in Steel Magnolias, and I'm beyond delighted to be part of the cabaret. I'm singing the joyous anthem, "Yes" by Kander and Ebb, and the duet from Sunday in the Park with George, "Move On," by Stephen Sondheim. Scott Koonce is my George :) And I'm loving every minute of it!


If you'd like to come to the cabaret, old chum, it's on Saturday September 30th at 8 PM at 410 West 40th Street (bet. 9th and 10th Ave). Suggested donation $15. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Trek

When I was on vacation a few weeks ago, there were a TON of caterpillars, and they were so delightful! These fuzzy little creatures were orange and black, and had unique variations of those two colors. They were all trekking across this dirt road to get to a field of trees, where my husband said they would build their cocoons.


Then I got back to Manhattan, and I've been seeing butterflies everywhere, even on people!


So I asked myself, Which stage are you in? Are you making the trek to create your cocoon, or is it time to acknowledge your wings, to open them and FLY? Right now, it's that last one, and I feel like I'm just opening my wings, testing them, knowing I have to take a leap and trust that I can fly!



There are many stages of life in which I'll go through The Trek, The Cocoon, and The Flight, and I want to celebrate it ALL!

Hope you are too! :)






Monday, September 11, 2017

Remembering 9/11/01

It's hard to believe that the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center fell 16 years ago because of a terrorist attack. But I was here. And I remember all too well.


Do you remember where you were?

I was on my way to my corporate support job in midtown. I had just gotten back from CA, and didn't have any auditions that day, so I didn't have to run around Manhattan as I usually do. I was walking across town, and I remember chatting with a friend on the phone. Suddenly, fire trucks were flying by, and when I looked down Broadway, I could see smoke coming from one of the towers. We didn't know what had happened at that point. It seemed like a terrible accident, and I remember thinking, as the FDNY zoomed downtown, "Our boys will be able to take care of it." I've known folks in the fire department, and know how incredibly well trained they are, and I have immense respect for them. None of us knew they'd be driving headlong into this:


By the time I got to work at 9:26 AM, the 2nd plane had struck, and my boss told me it was a terrorist attack. He sent us home shortly thereafter, and by then, the first tower had collapsed.

The city was covered in ash, and everyone was walking around like a zombie. Cell phones didn't work. That was the one time a landline came in handy, so we could talk to family and friends when we got to a landline.

It was such a horrible day, and I think of all those who lost their lives, all of those people so terribly affected by the tragedy. The attacks caused the deaths of nearly 3,000 people and injured 6000 others. Nearly 80,000 people have registered health issues - cancer, respiratory ailments, and more - 16 years later.

We have to look out for each other. Take care of each other. And be aware.

#NeverForget


Thursday, September 07, 2017

All At Once

My friend and fellow actress, Polly McKie, posted this recently:


Ain't that the truth? Auditions and gigs seem to come all at once!

This week, I was called in for a commercial, and had a BLAST! I got to share one of my secret passions onscreen: I'm a Gamer Girl! :)


Then I went into rehearsals for a reading of a new musical called, "Pieces." I'm not sure how much I can share about it, because it's a really special piece, so I'll just say it's been a thrill to work on this intricate music and beautiful story. I'm thrilled to be a part of it!

I perform in "Pieces" tonight as part of a reading for producers, so I have my outfit, my music and script. I also have an audition today for a musical comedy, which requires a completely different outfit, script and music, so I'm wearing both theatre masks today!


And it's such a joy to say, I'm a working actor in NYC! :) Woo!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Old Friends, New Projects

It's been a warm and wonderful summer with lots of gigs that have allowed me to reconnect with artists I've worked with over the years. And how delicious is that, to work with people I just ADORE!

It started with a trip back to The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun where I got to re-team with the divine Tracey Gilbert in a concert for producer George DeMarco.



Then I got to groove with Darg and Rayne, whom I had worked with on Sasquatched, which premiered at the NY Musical Theatre Festival. They asked me to record my big Park Ranger song, which was such a delight!


Then I made my debut at Signature Theatre, a fabulous Off Broadway house, in The Pound (another Darg and Rayne musical) with these puppies! ;)


I got to stretch my dramedy muscles in a non-musical reading about long-time mistresses called "Other Women" by Bryan D. Leys. I worked with Bryan Off Broadway on Hell's Belles, produced by the tenacious Weiss sisters of Tweiss Productions. That's me an Eileen Weiss below after a concert at the Abingdon Theatre.


And I got to work with Ellen Z. Wright, whom I also worked with Off Broadway in Johnny On A Spot. It was a blast working with Ellen, because we'd played adversaries in Johnny, but secret lovers in Other Women.


Last but not least, I'm going into a reading of a new musical called, Pieces, written by Kristen Penner and Lorelei MacKenzie, whom I worked with last year on Pageant Princess.


I look at all of these incredible artists, and I'm so thankful our paths keep winding together.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Stories with PRIDE

When I was a kid, I was a tomboy. Totally rough 'n tumble, getting scraped knees, climbing trees. I was an adventurer! And on the flip side of this, or maybe the perfect complement of this, was my love for the library. I was from a small town, so the one place which held the treasures of The World - and experience outside of my small town - was the library! There was a special section for kids, which was very colorful, and once I'd riffed my way through "Little Women," I went into the more grown-up part of the library. This was where I found my haven: PLAYS!

It was a small section. I don't think it took up an entire rack, but I read what I could, and this is where I found Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour."


This play was terribly distressful, as I'm sure was Ms. Hellmann's intent, but as a kid, I wondered, Why were the kids so nasty? Why did one of the teachers, Martha, feel such shame for loving her friend that she ended up taking drastic measures to end her suffering?

It's something that stayed with me, and when I moved to NYC and was cast as Jeanine, the title character in "The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun," I recognized this same pattern of hiding love because of shame. It was heart-breaking! And while "The Nun" was a musical, it indeed had a tragic love story about two women coming to terms with "the love that dare not speak its name."


(Tracey Gilbert in girlscout-wear above played Annie, Jeanine's partner of many years. We reunited to sing some demos for composer Andy Monroe and his musical The Kid, which was a great, modern love story about real-life-writer and LGBTQ activist, Dan Savage, his partner, and their quest to have a child.)

These stories took place from the 1930s to 1980s, so I hoped the Millennium would find "love triumphant" for men and women with same sex partners. I KNEW these stories existed in real life! I had friends in the 90s who had very loving healthy relationships with same sex partners, and they were some of the best relationships I'd ever seen!

So when I got to play Alice B. Toklas in Hell's Belles the Musical, I was delighted to learn about women from the early 1900s who lived an openly gay life in Paris.


I did two productions of the show Off Broadway, so I had two "Gerties": Rachel O'Malley (brunette on the left) and Deb Radloff (brunette on the right). Both lovely ladies! And it was interesting to see how the production went from having Gert 'n Alice in top hats and tails (very George and Gracie) to a Coupla Swells in comfortable shoes! Either way, it was fabulous fun, and we brought down the house every time!

The turn of the screw for the real Gert and Alice (below) was that when Gertrude Stein died, their union wasn't recognized by the Law, so all of Stein's possessions, including paintings by their famous friend Picasso, were taken by Stein's relatives. Alice died in poverty.


So when Marriage Equality finally came into play, I celebrated BIG TIME with my friends because so many unions could FINALLY be recognized!


There's still a long road to hoe, because many same-sex couples are still turned away from vendors when they want to invest in their weddings, and that blows my mind. One of my favorite playwrights, Bekah Brunstetter is writing a new play about a lesbian couple turned away from a bakery. It's called, The Cake. And my friends, Dwayne Heisler and Chris Defrain (above right) were initially denied their marriage license until the  Supreme Court ruling for Marriage Equality.

Theatrically, I'm happy to say, I'm seeing more LGBTQ love stories coming to the fore. I was part of a lesbian love triangle in the sketch-comedy-with-karoke, "Petunia's Coffee House."


My character DAR, became a bit of a hero for me, because she didn't take shit from anyone! She was based on Melissa Ethridge, the motorcycle mamas that lead the Pride March, Thelma and Louise, Stevie Nicks, and Jim Morrison.


Speaking of heroes, one of my favorite actor-playwrights, Joe Gulla, has performed several of his works at Joe's Pub, including The Bronx Queen, and the upcoming Faggy at 50.


I met Joe a few years ago when he was casting his play, Garbo. I didn't get the gig, but he kept calling me back for other projects, and last summer we did a reading of his play, "Sleeping With The Fish" at the LGBTQ Center.

I was the observer of a love affair between two mobsters, and let me tell you: It was delicious!

So where would we be without these stories, these beautiful stories of love and pride? Love is part of every human experience, and I hope we continue to grow with PRIDE in each other, and recognize that everyone deserves equal rights.


With thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda. :)