Thursday, March 27, 2008

In the works

I had two auditions the past two days that just had that magic feel to them, and regardless of what happens, I wanted to blog about them, because there's something special about these two shows.

The first is the new musical Angels, slated to hit Broadway this year, and the show looks and sounds INCREDIBLE. Download the video preview to get a glimpse of the angels and demons in flight. So cool!

The entire creative team was at this audition, which was an astounding experience! At an Equity Principal (AEA) call, usually just the casting director is there, but Angels had the producer, director, composer, music director, music superviser, associate producer and assistant directors there, and they were a lovely bunch! It was such a pleasure to get to sing my song for them, to share in that connection that music provides.

Before going into the audition, I'd read about the 2 students from Sydney who wrote this "little show that could." And since I had also performed in the 2006 New York Musical Theatre Festival with The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun, where Angels got its NY start, I couldn't help but feel an affinity for this beautiful show. I wish them great success!

Then today I went into the chorus call for the new musical of Little House on the Prairie, a story I grew up and always loved as a girl, and I just had a blast, doing my thing, singing what I needed to sing today.

Glenn Close once said that "you bring your day with you (onto the stage)," which I believe is from Harold Guskin's guidance on How to Stop Acting, and I feel like I've been doing that lately. Going from where I am, bringing what I have to the table, trying to stay out of my way, and letting the energy flow. It doesn't always happen. As actors our heads often get in the way and we get overly-critical of ourselves or feel we have to put on some sort of air. But I am learning I am enough. And when I let go and go with the flow.... it is a blast! :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hey Buds!

I have this song in my head from On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, sung by the character Daisy, as she encourages the flowers to bloom:

"Hey buds below ...
up is where to grow...
Up with which below can't compare with.... Hurry! It's lovely up here!"
(lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Burton Lane)

There is something so thrilling about this time of year. Yes, it seems like Winter is still trying to chill us all here in New York, but as my sweetheart and I walked about the city this weekend, I was delighted to see almost all of the trees dotted with these little green leaf-buds. And I felt this kinship those little leaf-lings, for we are all growing each day, stretching, reaching out to the blue sky and turning towards the sun. It's exhilirating!

I'm working on a bunch of new music for a cabaret with my partner in crime from Hell's Belles, Deb Radloff. And the incredible Robby Stamper, my music director from The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun, is guiding us through tunes. Man, he is amazing! And so is Deb! It's a pleasure working with them both.

I'm also reading new plays, gearing up for auditions and classes in the next few days/months. I'm particularly excited to be diving into my artistry, getting a boost that comes with this rush of Spring, this energy to take to new and old tasks with unbridled joy.

"Wake up, bestir yourself,
It's time that you disinter yourself
You've got a spot to fill - a pot to fill
And what a gift package of shower, sun and love
You'll be met above everywhere with...
Come up and see the hoot we're giving!
Come up and see the grounds for living!
Come poke your head out!
Open up and spread out!
Hurry it's lovely here!"
(Alan Jay Lerner)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hark! Hear the Belles!

A few weeks ago I did a recording for the devilish new musical that pays tribute to many famous and infamous ladies, Hell's Belles. It was such a blast being in the recording studio with our music director Elaina Cope and writer Bryan D. Leys, singing along with my cohorts, Omri Schein and Deborah Radloff. We sang a few group numbers and then did the solo numbers. Here are some of mine:

Sex Drugs Booze and Rock n Roll

These songs are also up on my website:

These are the complete songs, which I'm in the process of editing down to smaller previews. Godiva is fine because it's a 30 second song, but Judy and Janis' songs are all about 3 minutes. So if you have time, please groove along. :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Kid

My good friend, Andy Monroe, has been working with the lovely lyricist and producer Jack Lechner on a new musical based on Dan Savage's book, The Kid. I was fortunate to sing one of the songs from the show at BMI's Smoker, and it looks like the show is definitely on its way!

Andy and Jack did a podcast on Friday at Four, talking about the show, and Cheyenne Jackson sang the title number.

Check it out!

Bravo, guys! :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday and Finding Freedom

I know I've been blog-happy this week. It's just been a wild and wooly ride, but as my sweetheart and all of my friends and family have been saying, "It's about the ride and enjoying it."

Ok, I hear ya loud and clear. :) And usually I'm right on track with that, but every once and a while we stumble and fall and get in our own way.

Then I saw this article by Bonnie Gillespie and it all just clicked: The Power of "Eh."

Letting go and going with the flow, finding ways to free myself up and let my art/song out... enjoying the ride.

I had two auditions today and almost all the actors who went in before me were screaming their lungs out. It was bizarre, and I thought, "The casting people must be deaf after a day of this." But there were some absolute standouts and people who inspired me as well, and I realized the "screamers" were just desperate to be heard.

One of my coaches, VP Boyle, is a master at helping an artist remember and find dynamics, and I LOVE doing that in my songs. And hey! I got to audition for a Broadway show today. How many people can say that?

I LOVE that I get to do that, that I get to put myself out there and learn from the whole process and connect with people in such a fascinating way. And then getting to share it all with my friends and family and my honeypie, delighting in that home base and enjoying their stories and adventures just as much I enjoy getting to share mine.

"Energy is currency. How do you wish to spend it?"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Broadway Home Movies

Oh my gosh! I just had to share this link with you:

There are clips to all sorts of old and current musicals! This is nothing short of an absolute treasure! To see young and "old" stars in their heyday... what a gift!

Just select the musical you want to see, and you can view a clip of that production. I was just trippin' on Barbara Harris' "Apple Tree" performance right alongside Kristin Chenoweth's recent revival. WOW!

If the shoe fits

It's been such an interesting few weeks. I've had quite a few auditions lately - even callbacks - where I've received great response from the casting people and directors, but it just hasn't been "a fit." For one show, the writer wanted a Carol Burnett type, and I'm more Judy Holliday. For another show, the casting director liked my voice and how I could really rock, but the production team wanted a heavier woman, so... there wasn't much I could do about that. Even if they opted to "pad" me, as I looked at the women at the callback, I knew it just wasn't "a fit."

But the cool thing that came out of the one circumstance was that the director and casting director both called me to say how much they loved my audition and that they would definitely keep me in mind for future work, so that's excellent. And I know I'm making strides just by getting a callback or by having a casting director talk with me after an audition. All good stuff!

Of course, there can be a bit of that frustration factor because you want to book the gig, but it hit me today that it's like trying to fit into a shoe that's too small or too big. Either way it'll be painful or very difficult to navigate. But when the shoe fits - when the show fits - it feels GREAT! And this whole experience has been so useful in helping me embrace my type. So whether you're a hightop sneaker or a stiletto high heel (or a stiletto hightop), embrace who you are and what you have to bring to the table, and work to enchance those skills that make you even better. And most importantly, enjoy the ride! :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The beauty of language

When I was a kid, growing up in the suburban desert of Hemet, CA, one of my greatest joys was to "go adventuring" into books and plays. Thus I started acting at age 5, playing the Big Bad Wolf in my first school play. I still remember hurtling into the pigs' houses, which were made of cardboard, throwing myself fully into these constructs to emphasize blowing them down. What a little whirlwind I was!

This brings me to today's blog about Helen Keller. Some new photos of her and her teacher, Annie Sullivan were recently discovered. AOL is showcasing this rare find, and it brought back all sorts of memories for me.

I had always been fascinated with Miss Keller since my friend Kara Herold gave me a book on this phenomenal woman while we were in elementary school. Helen had been locked in a world of silent darkness when she fell ill at the age of 2 and lost both her sight and hearing. Thus she became a wild child until she was 6 and a half. Then Annie Sullivan, who also suffered poor vision, became Helen's governess and teacher and worked tirelessly with Helen for over a month, finally breaking through the walls of silent darkness by finger-spelling the deaf alphabet into Helen's hand. Helen later recounted this:

“We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honey-suckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten, a thrill of returning thought, and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me.”

Can you imagine? Only a month and Annie was able to get through to Helen! What a break-through!

In high school, I was fortunate to play Helen in "The Miracle Worker" and it was such an intense experience. I will never forget it! Got a lot of bruises in the famous "breakfast scene," and I still remember that feeling of just.... throwing myself out there... imaginging what it must be like to move through a soundless darkness, relying only on touch, taste and feelings. Then finding the breakthrough, that sense of insight and understanding found through human contact.

To find ways of reaching out to each other.... to connect... that is such a gift.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Good Script

I've been so fortunate lately to be working on really good scripts. Praise the writers!

Last week I was juggling 3 scripts actually! In between takes for the short film, Everyday, a nod to Hitchcock, I was working on the farce A Cable to Gibraltar. Then I got to dive into the revision of the old musical A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. And today I read sides in the audition for a new Off Broadway play, Substitution, a beautifully poetic piece about life and death.

As I've been watching my script pile grow at home, I just feel so fortunate to be on the receiving end of these pieces, getting to read these incredible scripts and bring them to life with voice, body and (e)motion. Very cool stuff!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Wonderfully busy!

Just had to celebrate! Every day has been filled with something artistic this week, with me making strides in my craft. And best of all, I'm getting paid for my work, which is such a milestone! Truly, any actor will tell you that to get paid for your acting is an absolute achievement - especially in NY where there is so much theatre and so many actors that most have to start out doing work for free. Since I'm part of the union, I've been compensated for showcases with travel fare, etc, but since last summer, I've been getting nice paychecks for all of my acting work and that just feels so good!

Monday I played Hildy in the reading for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and the music is still swimming about in my head! So beautiful! Tuesday I was called in for the new play, A Cable to Gibraltar. The casting director had seen me in Hell's Belles and was very sweet, saying she was glad to see more of what else I could do, regarding my work for Gibraltar. Two very different shows since Hell's Belles is a musical romp and Gibraltar is a British/French farce. Both very fun! On Wednesday, I had an audition for The Big Show and got a callback. Woo! Wednesday I also went into the recording studio to lay down tracks for a CD for Hell's Belles. It was a blast getting to play Janis Joplin, Judy Garland, and my lovely little Lady Godiva once again. Thursday was the callback for The Big Show, and though that just wasn't a fit (I have a huge voice but not the large physique they were looking for), it was still nice to get the callback. Then Friday was a chance to relax and get ready for my next postcard mailing, because I haven't had time til now to do it! And when I got home, another bit of my work showed up in the new issue of The Essential Herbal. My friend, Tina, who runs the magazine, has been encouraging me to write articles for it, to give an urban view of the herb world, and as I've always loved to write and I love what the magazine stands for, that has been a very satisfying experience. To do quality work in my craft and to work with such wonderful people... what a blessing!