Monday, May 19, 2008

The Journey

My brother and I often talk about making sure to enjoy the journey of being an artist. He's a drummer and he rocks out with some very cool bands like Hippie Cream and SMUG. I also have a feeling something big is about to happen for him, and it just jazzes me, thrills me to no end.

A bunch of people in my world seem to be making their dreams come true this year, and I just have to salute them. There's Kristine Zbornik who's making her Broadway debut in A Catered Affair. I remember watching her incredible cabaret last year where she cried to the heavens, "When's it gonna happen?" And heck man! She'd already done a Broadway tour and created some awesome musical art! And her cabaret was FIERCE!

I actually met Kristine during The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun when she played my Mother Superior. She was one hot mama and her Mother Helen was a mix of Peggy Lee, Ethel Merman and Godzilla (as one reviewer said). At that time she was still aiming for her big break. Well, she sure got it! And I know she's gonna take the world by storm! Rock on, Kristine! Rock on!

Then there's my PA soul sister, Tina Sams, who just released her book, Under the Sun, The First 5 Years of her experience working on and creating the awesome magazine, The Essential Herbal. I've had the pleasure of knowing Tina back when we were both working at the PA Renaisance Faire. I was in the Shakespearean acting troupe (and actually got my Equity eligibilty from it) and Tina was a vendor with her sister, Maryanne, where they nurtured an herb shop filled with handmade soaps, essential oils and other natural delights! The cast and crew would often retreat to The Herb Sisters' shop where it was always warm and welcoming and laughter could be found in great abundance.

With everyone finally going green, I can't think of a better time for Under the Sun to make a splash, guiding folks with all sorts of recipes, remedies, and delicious tales of the PA woods.

Then there's me. As Tina would say, "Look back and see your progress." I think it's her way of saying, "Stop and smell the roses." Well, there have been a lot of roses this past year and a half! Getting paid for my acting, working with incredible people who have inspired me like crazy and who have been generous enough to request me for other projects.

Looking back, it's almost like looking at a map and it all seemed to start with VP Boyle's Musical Theatre Forum. From there I created my one woman show, "Love in 35 Minutes." Right after that, I booked The Singing Nun, won the NYMF Award, rocked out with VP's Pop/Rock Workshop, booked Lucky Stiff at Mason Street Warehouse, sang some songs for the new musical The Kid, reprised The Singing Nun at the Times' Center's Bound for Broadway concert, met the marvelous John Znidarsic who brought me in for Hell's Belles... Irene Stockton who saw Hell's Belles called me in for the new play, SIN, and my lovely Hell's Belles' stage manager, DC Rosenberg, recommended me for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I just performed last week with Emily Skinner and Stephen R. Buntrock!

What happens next?

Stay tuned!

And enjoy the ride! :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Love is the Reason for it All

We had our first performance of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn yesterday at the Theatre at St. Clements, and the audience was very responsive to the revised script for this beautiful old show.

The music is so gorgeous! You can't help but be swept away on a tide of memories that hearken back to another age.

My father-in-law is going to love this show if it gets to Broadway. It's rife with rich harmonies and barbershop quartets and trios. Even the women get to mix it up a bit! And it's so well-balanced with luscious ballads and rowdy uptempo tunes laced throughout.

One of my friends who saw the show yesterday and is involved in A Catered Affair on Broadway said how much she loved the heartfelt intimacy of Tree's characters and how touching their relationships were.

This show is definitely all about family, and you can't help but think of your own as you take the ride with Katie and Johnny and their daughter Francie.

Who doesn't have a crazy aunt or uncle that makes you laugh? Or a parent you don't understand but would like to? It's all about people trying to "break through the concrete" like a mighty tree that won't stop growing, to reach out and connect, to live and laugh and love and make dreams come true... And it takes place in the early 1900s! Just goes to show how little has changed.

This show is all about love, really, and it really is an incredible pleasure to be involved with it!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Tree Grows on 46th Street

On Monday I bounced into rehearsals for the next phase of production for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The script was revised by Elinor Renfield with further revisions by Susan DiLallo to reflect the story from Betty Smith's original novel, which had been tweaked in the 1951 musical to suit Shirley Booth's comedic talents. Emily Skinner is playing the role of Aunt Cissy for our reading and Stephen R. Buntrock stars as Johnny, and they are incredible performers!

I play Jill, a brothel girl who makes a pass at Johnny though he's married to Cissy's sister, Katie, played by the beautiful Pamela Brumley. What a gorgeous soprano! The sensational Sara Wordsworth plays Meg, a fellow brothel girl, and Diane J. Findlay is our fesity madame, Nellie. Mick Bleyer, Jeff Brooks, Kathy Calahan, Kenneth Cavett, Tom Flagg, Andy Gale, Susan Jeffries, J. Maxwell Miller, Deborah Radloff, Tom Alan Robbins, Ashley Robinson, the lovely Emma Rowley (currently Baby Louise in GYPSY and our "tree," Francie), Steve Sterner, Kevin Vortmann and Darcy Yellin complete the cast.

I can't say enough about the entire cast except how brilliant they are. Everyone is immensely talented.

We had music rehearsals on Monday with music director, Mark Janas, and boy, is this music gorgeous!!! Arthur Schwartz's music immediately transports the listener back to the early 1900s and Dorothy Fields' lyrics are lovely! It is such an incredible pleasure to be singing this material.

Tomorrow our director Dan Wackerman will be guiding us through the show with blocking. We also have rehearsals on Friday and then we perform this staged reading on Monday. Wow!

It is so cool to be performing at the Theatre at St. Clement's again. I had played The Singing Nun there a year and a half ago, and this little theatre is such a welcoming space.