Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sweet Halloween Wishes

Thanks to my great graphic guy, Rob, at whatsyoursigndesign.biz for this fun Halloween card. Have a marvelously magical harvest celebration!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How to Help CA Wildfire Survivors

With the horrors of the CA wildfires emblazoned on TV and computer screens and newspapers, I cannot help but feel a terrible disquiet and desperate need to help the state I grew up in. My adopted Grandma Leta used to live in Escondido where tons of homes were destroyed. I have friends and family in San Diego, San Bernadino and Riverside Counties, and my brother lives in Santa Clarita above Magic Mountain where fires raged as well. Miraculously, all of these people were unharmed, but I doubt that any of us were unaffected.

If someone you know has been affected, or if you just want to help, please investigate the many Red Cross stations or donate to Red Cross directly and there's also America's Second Harvest. I wish I could fly out there right now to wrap them all in a big hug.

Thank you to the brave firefighters, volunteer firemen, National Guard, Marines and other military officers who have fought these fires, and thank you to the incredible volunteers who have been striving to comfort the evacuees. An abundance of blessings, love and support to you all!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Remembering Benny Reehl

I was sad to learn that the "father of the new vaudeville," Benny Reehl, passed away a few years ago. He was one of my directors at the PA Renaissance Faire when the Faire still had a strong Shakespearean improv troupe, and he directed me in the original show, "Bumble, Rough and Tumble."

Benny was a master at physical comedy and was great at inspiring the cast to explore our characters' full range of physical expression. A great teacher, I still remember him painstakingly teaching me to juggle beanbags, and I LOVED our trampoline work. I remember doing a somersault off the trampoline, and as he spotted me, I accidentally nicked him with my nails, and he said, "Those have to go!" But he was very patient, fun-loving and kind-hearted. He touched my life forever.

Kudos and great respect to a master craftsman:


Monday, October 22, 2007

Attitude of Gratitude

It's not Thanksgiving yet, but I had to blog about this today: the attitude of gratitude. Bonnie Gillespie started it with her "I'd like to Thank the Academy" column this week, and I had to accept her challenge. There are so many people who inspire me and rock my world with their kindness, love, friendship, and wisdom. First, there's my guy, Rob, who has been with me on this wild ride since we met in the Shakespeare troupe for the PA Renaissance Faire many moons ago. To quote Jessica Rabbit, "He makes me laugh," and that is one of the greatest gifts ever! There are my soul sisters, the ever essential Tina on the East Coast and Lisa and her family in the West; my real-life couldn't wait until he was born brother, Sean (drummer man for SMUG and Hippie Cream); my "book brothers" and NY family, Carl and Michael and shaman Ataman; my Mom, who always taught me to live life to the fullest; Dad, Lani and John and Johnny Rocket; the Catawissa crew, Mark Sikes and his Casting Corner (actors take heed!), my Singing Nun and Lucky Stiff (MSW and APAC) peeps, all casts and crews actually, Wendy-bird, classmates, teachers like VP Boyle and Marcia Cloyd; writers who make me thrill to read their works, casting directors who've been kind and encouraging in auditions, directors who've helmed projects magnificently and the producers who've produced them; and to all those folks who inspire with kindness, strength of spirit, empowerment and compassion. Thank you for your gifts of friendship, love and insight.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

My friend Tina is so informed. Since she's an online business owner of The Essential Herbal, she is so up-to-date with whats going on in cyberspace. Today in blogland is Blog Action Day: working to protect and save our environment. Tina's blog captures this beautifully, so please check it out. Thank you!

Friday, October 12, 2007

To Everything... Turn, Turn, Turn

"There is a season.... turn, turn, turn...."
I love this time of year! Autumn has finally hit the East Coast, and as many New Yorkers have been saying, "It's about time!" Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed the extended summer - it takes me back to my Southern CA roots - but there's something about the crisp Fall air that really gets my blood pumping with excitement and anticipation.

Last night, I met up with an old friend from NYU who was production manager of a really lovely 30 minute film I did called Sincerely Yours, which earned me the NYU Craft Award (and which I hope to post online soon). Anyway, we caught up on our adventures while watching the Dbacks play the Rockies, and it was very cool, sipping ale while sharing stories about art, life, and baseball. Jonathan's production company, Myriad Arts, has blossomed beautifully. Definitely check them out!

So many of my friends have been echoing the same sentiment about transformation, feeling a need to refocus, reconnect and create anew. I always feel that way this time of year, and I can't help but wonder if its spawned by the natural changes around us.

There's something about seeing the harvest pumpkins lined up on stands near the small grocery stores and the stalks of corn festooning these stands that just makes me want to celebrate! :) Change is in the air!

For me some of these changes include joining the community of writers for The Essential Herbal. I had written a short story for The Fairy Home Companion a few years ago, and my friend, Tina, has always encouraged me to keep writing. So writing a column for a magazine that just celebrated its 6th year in circulation is a nice challenge.

This is also spurring me on to write my next one woman show. I've written two pieces prior: the serio-comic 10 minute short, CHEER, and the cabaret with a story (or the story with a song list), Love in 35 Minutes. Both received great response and allowed me to bounce around Off Off Broadway. My next piece is noodling around in my head so we'll see what takes shape.

In the meantime, I'm reading lots of plays, getting wonderfully inspired, listening to lots of new music... Speaking of which, I have to share the appropiately Halloween-ish song, Cuddles the Vampire, written and performed by the band Hippie Cream, which my brother Sean plays the drums for. They are truly unique, and one of my FAVORTIE songs of theirs is called 76 Years Young.... about agelessness. :)

"Spreading our beautiful wings...76 years young." Rock on!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

New Music

In the musical Ragtime there is a glorious song about "New Music" and how music can inspire us, change us, bring us to life in ways we never dreamed of... And there is something about NY in the Autumn that simply hums with that same kind of energy.

There is a pulse, a heartbeat to the city, that everyone seems to tune into. And though we've been having a bit of a heatwave lately (cue Marilyn Monroe singing, "We're having a heatwave... a tropical heatwave....") I've been enjoying that Fall frenzy that fills the air.

Since most of my auditions are around Times Square, I've been racing about, dodging taxi cabs and tourists as I make my way to the audition studios that are scattered throughout town. I usually walk by the Broadway theatres on my way to these auditions, and I've been delighted to see trucks parked outside the stage doors where stagehands are unloading set pieces for the new shows. The stage doors are wide open, and it's so cool to get glimses of the blackened Broadway stages. They're almost like clean chalkboard slates, waiting to be filled.

So back to this "new music" I was talking about. On Monday I sang in a BMI presentation of new composers' works. My Singing Nun composer, Andy Monroe, had written a song for me and my Singing Nun co-star, Tracey Gilbert, to sing for the presentation, and it was from his new musical, The Kid. It was such a blast, because not only did I get to rock out to Andy's new tune, but I got to hear some of the other composers as well, and what an absolute treat! Each composer has such a unique sense of style, and it's thrilling to partake of such excellent work, to be hearing it and performing this new music for the first time. Incredible!

What I especially love about Andy's music is that its a great mix of today's pop sound with really strong musical theatre roots. It's part of that pulse I was talking about earlier. And to be able to sing that, to make people laugh and feel and be inspired by this new music, it's an absolute delight!