Monday, June 30, 2008

Eddie Izzard

In the midst of rehearsing a new musical and pouring over scripts for auditions this week, I had the immense pleasure of seeing Eddie Izzard perform at Radio City Music Hall last night. It was a treat that my sweetheart and I had planned with some friends a few months ago and I was so glad not to miss it.

Eddie was INCREDIBLE! For those of you who don't know this very funny British comedian, he is what Mel Brooks would call "a stand-up philosopher." I can't recall how I discovered him but if I could plant a flag on him and shout, "I've discovered Eddie Izzard," I would! I have a feeling many of his fans feel the same way. :)

This was my first time seeing Eddie perform live. I'd seen some of his taped performances like "Dress to Kill" and "Glorious," and was immediately charmed by this witty, brilliantly funny and intelligent transvestite comic. Yes, I said transvestite. And what a role model for transvestites! Seriously! Funny, sexy, smart and successful? Why, YES!

For this show, "Stripped," Eddie wasn't in a glittering gown and platform heels, but he was still marvelously stylin' in jeans and a black tailcoat with hot pink lining. Love it! And I almost feel like "Stripped" was him sans the trans-attire, very bare and just casually cool. The audience would've loved him no matter what he was wearing.

My crew and I were in the front mezzanine which was pretty far back, but we had a great view, and my friend Michael and I reminisced about the Tonys which had just been in the Hall 2 weeks ago. We felt we could still feel that Tony vibe.

Deanna Dunagan wasn't kidding when she said how huge Radio City Music Hall is! But you know, Eddie Izzard filled that space completely! His presence reached out to the back balcony and everyone felt included. That was such a great thing to see because it's an essential you need as a performer. That's why people go to live performances and that's why we actors love doing theatre. Its that visceral connection between the audience and the entertainer that is so magical.

If you want to try to catch Eddie, his Stripped tour is still kicking around the country. Don't miss this brilliant comic!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I seem to be doing a lot of readings this year, and I absolutely love it! Getting to take part in a new work or a new vision for an old piece like last month's reading for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is very exciting stuff!

Next Monday I'll be playing Martha Freud, Sigmund Freud's wife in the new musical, Vienna. The writers behind this are my Hell's Belles creaters, Bryan D. Leys and composer Steve Liebman. Bryan had come to see me in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and mentioned Vienna to me after the show.

It sounds fascinating! A turn of the century piece that showcases various personalities of the time, it has great depth and charm and even has a startling sense of comparison to today's world. Very interesting stuff!

Since I'm a research nut, I've already been combing the web, reading about Freud and Martha. He called her "Marty" and she called him "Sigi." Their engagement lasted 4 years while he worked to establish himself, and there are gorgeous love letters from that time period. It reminds me greatly of my own sweetheart and myself, so I definitely can relate to that great passion.

But something that boggles me is that some researchers report that Martha didn't seem to care about psychoanalysis, which was Sigmund Freud's life work. Instead she was a great reader of literature and "made it her duty to facilitate Freud's professional work with a supportive daily routine." Running a proper household seemed to be her goal, which was the Victorian way of thinking. But there must have been some sense of rebellion in her because she defied her parents and married in a civil union as opposed to having a true Jewish wedding. She seems intensely supportive of Freud and while it is said she did not believe in psychoanalysis, she believed in him. She also outlived him and maintained her hardy independence til she died at the age of 90 in 1951.

takes place in 1888 in the midst of the Freud's marriage and the changing political climate of the world. So it'll be up to me to fill in the blanks.

Gotta love acting! :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Essence of Family

This has been a funky week because my father-in-law, lovingly dubbed "Big Bob," went into the hospital on Father's Day. It turned out he has staph infection from a recent hip surgery, and it just sucks to know he is in distress, but he seems to be plugging along and the doctors believe he's going to be ok.

This life stuff happens every day and we must move through it. It shapes us, just like the people in our lives shape us. And I want to pay tribute to this mighty giant of a man whom I've known almost half my life. He's always been a big supporter of the arts and comes to the city every time I'm doing a show. It's not easy for him because he can't handle stairs or walking for too long, but he loves coming to the city to see all the different folks running about. Whether its going to Central Park to watch a local baseball game or catching a show on Broadway, he definitely gets a kick out of this town. He even drove Rob (his son, my sweetheart) and me by the big Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center this year, because it was the easiest way for him to see it.

Someone once said they admired my tenacity in show business, and I feel like I owe a lot of that to my family and friends like Big Bob who inspire me with their own tenacious spirits

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tony, Tony, Tony

Last night I had the rare treat of watching the Tony Awards with my honeypie. He's not always up to the task because he's a former performer who has really high standards of what he finds entertaining, but last night he gave it a go, and we enjoyed pretty much everything.

It seemed like an extra special Tony year because 3 performers I've worked with recently have all made their Broadway debuts in Tony nominated (and award-winning) shows. Janet Dacal (left pic) who performed in last night's piece from In the Heights took VP Boyle's Musical Theatre Forum with me. Kristine Zbornik, who played my Mother Superior in The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun, is sharing the laughs and the love in A Catered Affair. And Alicia Sable, who rocked out with me (pictured right) in Hell's Belles this winter, is playing one of the Hollywood Blondes in Gypsy. I am so thrilled for all of these talented ladies! Congratulations!

Also, I felt a special connection to In The Heights because I had seen the composer/performer/writer (and now Tony Award Winner) Lin-Manuel Miranda perform a song from the show at NYMF Awards Gala 2 years ago. I was at the gala to receive a NYMF Award for The Singing Nun, and in the midst of the ceremony (just like the Tonys) there were performances from other shows in-the-works. Lin-Maunel Miranda's performance brought the house down! I don't think I'd ever seen anything so innovation and ground-breaking in musical theatre. It was so cool!

I still look back on that Gala with a sense of awe. I mean, there I was right next to Chris Fitzgerald (now playing Igor in Young Frankenstein) and Christian Campbell, getting recognized for my work too! Being surrounded by so many incredible artists, writers, directors, producers. It was thrilling!

And I am greatly encouraged by last night's Tonys, seeing people recognized for years of hard work. Even Patti Lupone winning her 2nd Tony 28 years after winning for Evita! That's still hard work and dedication and putting yourself out there, growing as an artist.

I especially loved Deanna Dunagan, who won for the pill-popping matriarch in the play August Oasage County. When she won the Tony last night, she brought such grace to the stage with her honesty and gratitude, saying, "After 34 years in regional theatre, I never even... dreamed we'd be here... Ever since I was a little girl, all I wanted to do was to get people together and put on plays and now I get to do it on Broadway. Thank you so much."

There was so much joy last night and I am so happy for all of the artists who received accolades last night. Bravo!

Friday, June 13, 2008


I know, I already posted today, but I had to share this link with my fellow artists:

It's Bonnie Gillespie's Actors Access article, and if you're an actor and you haven't signed up on this free website, get on it! Bonnie's weekly column and Mark Sike's Casting Corner are just some of the bonuses on this website. But I digress...

Bonnie's article this week about "Power" made me absolutely want to roar with pride! "Be A Lion" indeed!

It just made me all the more aware of something I discovered this week about being proud of my work and my own uniqueness and not allowing myself to get head-tripped by what I think "they" want. It's about sharing our gifts as artists, doing work that satisfies us (and that includes auditions, kids!), standing up for ourselves, taking the time we need to do what we have to do for ourselves. Not getting hung up on the desperation of trying to get a gig. Getting OUT of that feeling altogether and taking joy in my work, knowing I'm doing my best daily, and that I am enough! :)

Have an awesome weekend!

In a New York Minute

I love New York! Even in the summer when the city can smell like an old shoe on trash day, there still is something so remarkable about this Big Apple I call home. I've been here since I was out of high school and I still find myself charmed by this tantalizing town.

Yesterday I saw this little girl in a sparkly white gown walking with her mom. My guess was that she was going to an elementary graduation or wedding or who knows what? But she looked like a princess, and I thought, "How cool! There is magic every where!" It's all perspective.

Because I'm usually always in motion, going from auditions to my supplemental job to meetings with friends and classes and the like, the place I get to really enjoy my reading is on the subway. I've been reading Noel Coward's Private Lives which is full of sophisticated humor and old-fashioned things like "tub chairs." And I get such a kick out of reading about these wildly wicked but "classy" people running around Europe while I'm traveling on the dark tunnels of Manhattan. It's just.... ironic. But I love it!

And how awesome is the subway? Watch any tourist get on the train and they're liable to fall down. But people reach for each other to keep each other from falling. And that is very cool.

I've been taking some risks in my auditions this week, just trying new material and singing music that delights me, and I've noticed a definite positive vibe because of it. It's nice to get those encouraging nods and wow-words. Making good strides.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Such an interesting time! I just don't even know where to begin....

Thinking about world issues, changes happening in America, in art, in my family and friends and in myself. It seems like such a time of transformation, and I love it!

I was thinking today as I walked out of the subway, How cool is it that I'm in NY, cultivating my dreams? Having opportunites to audition for incredible new pieces, being in this great Big bountiful Apple where works of art are absolutely everywhere! Being able to do prime research at great facilities like Lincoln Center's New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Being part of the Actors Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild, knowing my unions are looking out for my rights as a performer. Knowing there are incredible teachers all over this city. Getting the chance to see all this great theatre on Broadway! And getting to perform new pieces in lovely little theatres in the city, working my way towards performing on Broadway.

I saw Cry-Baby on Wednesday night with my sweetheart and some of his co-workers from Godiva were there, and we all had a great time! The musical is based on John Waters' film with Johnny Depp, and I had heard such mixed things about that show, but I am happy to report it's a LOT of fun. Any show that has a song titled, "Can I Kiss You (With Tongue)?" is gonna be funny. I laughed and laughed and really enjoyed myself. And it's been a while since I've been that tickled by a Broadway show, so I was greatly encouraged.

A fellow Californian was in the show, Alli Mauzey, and she was an absolute scene-stealer. VERY funny. And I thought.... Yeah! :)

She said in an interview that "Whenever I'm thinking of new things to try, I go, What would John (Waters) do?" And I get such a kick out of that because I've always enjoyed his irreverent sense of humor in his films. I was a fan of the movie "Hairspray" before it was a musical then movie musical. And as an artist myself, seeking to burst out, I love that sense of abandon and non-censorship. Yeah! Let it out!

I'm also reading this really yummy book on The Monologue Audition by Karen Kohlhaas and right off she focuses on what you can and cannot control in an audition and it makes me think so much about life. What can we control and what do we need to let go of? It's awesome to take a look at that stuff! And I love diving into some of my favorite writers, working on new material and old and making marvelous discoveries.

"Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
For the times they are a-changin'."
- Bob Dylan

Monday, June 02, 2008

Between the Swells

When a show is done and that high of performing has subsided, it's time to create anew, to get out to auditions and classes, work on your own pieces, reflect on what you have done and what you want to do. It's what my friend Tina calls "being between the swells."

This reminds me of those old sayings of "getting back on the horse" or being "back in the saddle again." I'm from the West so I dig the horse-riding metaphor. Brings out the cowgirl in me.

But I especially love the idea that tackling show business is a lot like surfing. You grab your surfboard and run from the hot sand into the cresting waves, swimming against the current to get out to a real sweet spot. Then you navigate the waters as best you can and look around to see which wave you can catch for an absolutely fantastic ride. Sometimes you miss it. Sometimes you wipe out. But more often than not, you can catch even a smaller wave and have an exhilirating ride, something that tickles, thrills and delights you to no end. I love that!

But sometimes there is this moment "in between" where you simply sit out there, in the midst of the ocean, riding the swells. And I used to buck it, feeling impatient for the next big wave, but I really dig it now, having this time to assess and survey and take stock. It's very cool.

And we all deserve a chance to catch our breath, to be in that fantastic sway of the rhythm of life. Ebb and flow. And then..... before you know it, it's time to go! :)