Monday, September 29, 2008

Portraits of Artists

"To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life!"

I love in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway how John Cusack's struggling writer keeps going back to the question, "Do you love the art in the man or the man in the artist?"

That sense of integrity was never clearer than in Paul Newman's works as an actor and humanitarian. He and his wife Joanne Woodward always made me think of me and my longtime sweetheart, especially with the sentiment, "I have steak at home. Why go out for hamburger?"
Paul Newman will certainly be missed. His work lives on.

It makes me appreciate the people around me. I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people who happen to be artists. :) And the internet makes it that much easier to connect with folks from all over the world. That never ceases to amaze me!

My childhood friend, Kara Herold, who is taking the documentary film to a whole new level, will be showing her piece, Bachelorette 34 at the Mill Valley Film Festival. I can't wait til she brings this film from San Fran to the Big Apple. Rock on, Kara!The Herb Sisters, Tina and Maryanne, are in the midst of a wholesale fair in PA - kind of like the major wholesale events that are held at the Javitz Center, but this is in Lebanon, PA. The Sisters are showcasing their incredible soapworks. I am so proud of them!

And this week is the closing week for Johnny On A Spot. Gosh, I'm gonna miss that crew! It has been so magical to do this show, to be growing as an actor, listening to my fellow actors and going with the ebb and flow of the audience's responses. Whether it's laughter or a gasp - one audience member even said, "Uh oh" when my feisty character is told "no" - everyone has responded to it very strongly.
(Pictured with Carter Roy)

One of the things I've loved about this show is the length of the run - 5 weeks! Some Broadway shows don't even last that long! But The Peccadillo Theatre Company has really given us the chance to spread our wings. It's been lovely!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Pleasures of PA

I woke up this morning to my favorite classical radio station, WQXR and heard an ad for That made me smile because Pennsylvania is truly one of my favorite places to be!

I grew up in the desert between Los Angeles and San Diego, so when I was hired for the Shakespeare troupe for the PA Renaissance Faire, I had no idea I'd be going into a world so lush and green! It was so very different from my little tumbleweed town of Hemet, CA, but I immediately fell in love, not only with the place but with the people.
I met my fiance, Rob, at the PA Ren Faire. He was cast the comic villain, Cardinal Synne (the handsome fellow center in the pic above), and we performed in many of the stage shows, not to mention the interactive "street work" (think improvisational Shakespeare). I also met my soul sister, Tina (tada girl on the left), who was working with her sister, Maryanne (far right) at the Faire's herb shoppe. These two wild women were quickly dubbed The Twisted Sisters because of their hysterical sense of humors.

We all left the Faire after a few seasons. Rob and I moved to NY, and the Sisters started their own businesses, evolving into The Sibling Group.

I recently got to visit Tina in her woodsy paradise, and it was such a thrill to see her at work. I'm a big fan of her magazine, The Essential Herbal, and it was so cool to be right where it all happens!
Tina was showing me around, taking time to literally stop and smell the roses and caress the leaves. She even did some quick harvesting of some St. Basil on the fly.Maryanne lives right down the road from Tina, and I got to see where she makes her incredible handmade jewelry for her Torchsong Studio.The jewelry is really exceptional and each piece is unique. I HAD to get a bracelet and came home with a piece that looks like her "Blue Nebula."
It was such an immense pleasure to be around the Sisters, laughing and talking about all sorts of stuff, from old times to world events. These gals are such incredibly BIG small business owners and their works are treasures indeed!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Period Piece

I'm in week 3 of performances for Johnny on a Spot Off Broadway at the Theatre at St. Clement's and this is such a neat time because everyone has started to let loose and play. When a show is "going up," starting previews and those first few performances, there is so much everyone onstage is thinking about: lines, movement, costume changes, getting a feel for the audience. And in a physical comedy like this one, all manner of things can happen! The stage gets wet in Act 2 and that leads to some interesting foot work! I try to jump over a desk to start a catfight with the hero's secretary, and the other night I almost fell! Thank the gods for Mark Manley (the mustached fellow in the picture), who plays my uncle. He has a ton of dance training and I immediately felt his hands grab my waist, supporting me in a dancer's lift. What a man!

That's the cool thing with this cast: There are 16 of us and we utterly support each other! Every night I give Kevin Kolack a giant hug after he carries me offstage in Act 2, slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes! Kevin was a firefighter in Indiana for about 10 years and here he is in NY, making films and working onstage, making his dreams come true just like we all are! It is so wonderful to be part of this community!(left to right: Robert O'Gorman, Carter Roy, Christian Rummel, Michael Lopez, Mark Manley, and me)

There are moments backstage when I wish I had a camera. It is so incredible to be performing this period piece from 1942 in an establishment that was probably around during that time! Brick walls surround us, emphasized for Joe Spirito's gorgeous set design, and as I look at us all in our costumes, the guys in hats and 3 piece suits, the girls in the stylish frocks, I can't help but marvel at the magic of theatre and the opportunity we all have to be transported!

I've noticed so many smiling faces in the audience when we take our bows and I want to say thanks to each and everyone who has taken this ride with us and have expressed their joy. Boogie woogie on! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A giant leap!

There's a story my Dad passed onto me, and where he heard it from, I can't recall, but it's a good one and I have to share it with you:

There's a frog who's hopping along and falls down a hole. He ribbets and calls out to other frogs who come to look down at him. They shout at him, but he can't hear what they're saying, so he takes it as encouragement and starts hopping, aiming to jump out of the hole. The other frogs get more and more emphatic with each jump he attempts, and it spurs the little frog to keep leaping towards his goal until he finally bounds out into the open.

When he gets to the top, the other frogs say to him, "We can't believe you did it. We kept telling you to stop!"

"Stop?" the little frog says. "I thought you were telling me to HOP... to keep trying... so I did!"

And I love this story, because it teaches that we are the power in our world. We can leap beyond all limitations! We just have to keep trying and look beyond 'em. :)

In my life, I'm actually blessed with an abundance of cheerleaders, and I am so thankful for the ease of communication that makes this possible. Whether it's daily phone calls from my sweetheart, Rob, as either of us bounce about Manhattan, or weekly talks with my little bro, Sean (imaging him in the bright sunshine of CA), or daily IM's with Tina, thinking of her in the wild woods of PA, or IMing with my Big Apple soul-sibling, Carl, I am so grateful for this loving community. Rock on, y'all! :) Much love and many blessings! :)

We're all taking steps every day that will lead to leaps and bounds.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Art and life - 100 years in the making

It was 1920 when women were given the right to vote, though it was 1848 when votes for women were first seriously proposed in the U.S. Can you believe it took over 70 years before this was finally legalized?

As a young woman, I wish I'd been more conscious of this fight. I can't believe it's not taught in schools! It took the HBO film Iron Jawed Angels to make me realize what the women of this country went through to get the right to vote and that their protests of picketing the White House and staging marches and demonstrations were considered "radical." I pay tribute to these fighting spirits and to all people who work for a better present and future.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Funny Food for Thought

A few years ago my coach, VP Boyle, told me to dive into comedy and watch everything I could on this art form since I seemed to have a knack for it. This came as somewhat a surprise because I'd come from a strong dramatic background, having played everything from Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker to Agnes of God. But I also played Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors and Gooch in MAME, so the fire was always there.

Now I feel like a comedy archeologist! Delighting in that great freedom of spirit, that fearless sense of "going for it," the bouyancy, the timing and quick-thinking, enjoying the work that has been coming my way.

The last show I did, Kaboom, was a fast-paced physical farce, and it was so cool to talk with my director, BT McNicholl, about some of the founding fathers of physical comedy like Buster Keaton and The Marx Brothers. Can you just imagine them signing the Declaration of Indepence?

Now I'm in the midst of Johnny On a Spot Off Broadway, which crackles with that 1940's fire. And I'm keeping my eyes open, devouring everything I can, enjoying the music of comedy.

I saw the 1939 film, The Women last night on the Turner Classic Movie channel and was amazed at the diversity of the piece. From Rosalind Russell's His Girl Friday firecracker delivery to Paulette Goddard's winking bad girl who aids Norma Shearer's heart-breaking phoenix.... what great stuff!

And of course I'm watching Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, these ground-breakingly gifted comediennes. Their recent Palin/Clinton parody on Saturday Night Live was brilliant!

Endless food for thought!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Shining City

A few years before 9/11, I remember driving into Manhattan with my sweetheart, Rob, and there was this perfect moment where the afternoon sun simply glinted off the city, making it look golden. The view from NJ was particularly spectacular, and I felt like that moment summed up what Manhattan was to me: the golden city where dreams come true.

I thought I had captured that moment on film, but I can't seem to find the photo, so here's one at sunrise by Joel Altschuler:
9/11 was a horrible day. I could see the smoke from midtown while firetrucks zoomed downtown, none of us ever dreaming the towers would fall. I remember that day with such horror and despair, but there was also an intense "coming together" of the people. We all did what we could to help each other through, and I must pay tribute to the brave men and women who lost so much in that disaster. May we never forget. And may healing and harmony emanate throughout.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Opening Night!!!

Mel Brooks has forever taken over that sentiment for me, because I can't help but think of the song in The Producers whenever I think of the term "Opening Night!" It's a great song and totally captures the excitement and anticipation of opening a show.

We opened Johnny On A Spot last night Off Broadway at the Theatre at St. Clements, and we were blessed with such a lovely audience! Lots of laughs and wonderful warmth! I even got some "exit applause" on 2 of my big exits. Gosh, that was cool! I had had the same experience in Kaboom - where the audience gave me kudos after my first scene - and it's just such a gift! Talk about generous spirits!

After the show, we went to Cascina for the cast party. It's a beautiful Italian restaurant on 9th Avenue. What a blast! I'm still on Cloud 9! And of course the cameras came out! Here's a pic of me, our director Dan Wackerman, and my co-star Ellen Zolezzi:

And my best guy friends, Michael Kane and Carl Einbeck, came to share in the jubilation: It was such a joyous night and it was lovely to share it with the cast and crew and Peccadillo supporters.

As I marvel at my journey, I look to other artists in the field who are making also their dreams come true and I salute you all! 2 artists in particular have caught me eye because of their tenacious spirits: Jill Santoriello (composer, lyricist and book writer of the new Broadway musical, A Tale of Two Cities) and Susan Blackwell of [title of show]. Reading their stories on helps to fuel the fire of making my own dreams come true!

YES, WE CAN!!! :)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The cast and crew of "Johnny on a Spot"

We had our last preview for Johnny On A Spot yesterday, which has given us time for some good growth. Thank the gods for previews because hopefully that lets the audience know it's still a work in progress. With remnants of the hurricane blowing into Manhattan, our Saturday night show was surrounded by buckets of rain, but we still had an audience. God bless 'em! And I'm always reminded of that Bill Murray line from the film Tootsie where he says he wants an audience "who just came out of the worst rainstorm in this city's history. These are people who are alive on the planet until they dry off. " And that was our lovely group. :)

It is so cool when you can feel a show coming together! Everything from the set to the costumes to the pacing and acting... it is definitely a group effort! And this cast and crew have certainly been working hard to make it happen!

It's a large cast - there are 16 of us! - and everyone is a pro!

There's Margery Beddow, who plays the town's madame, Pearl, and she is a hoot! She also has a ton of incredible stories to boot! She came to the city as a ballerina and ended up working with Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon whom she understudied in RedHead and who taught her all of Lola's pieces from Damn Yankees.

Margery also worked with Mark Manley, who plays my Uncle Willie, and she also worked with our lovely costume designer, Gail Copper-Hecht, who was a performer prior to turning her creativity to costuming. Gail played Gloria Upson on tour in the non-muiscal version of Auntie Mame and then Sally Kato in the musical, MAME. She can still do Gloria's "I can't tell you how pleased I am to make your acquaintance" speech which is hilarious!

Ellen Zolezzi plays the "gal Friday" role and definitely brings a lot of spirit to the show! She's pictured above with Robert O'Gorman, Dale Carman, Mark Manley, Jerry Coyle, Carter Roy, driector Dan Wackerman, Marc Ginsberg and Kevin Kolack. Kevin was a fireman for 10 years in his home state of Indiana and he hoists me over his shoulder in Act 3 with ease and grace. He is a super trooper. :)
Backstage with the boys: Marc Ginsberg, Michael Lopez, Dale Carman, Kevin Kolack, and Louis Sacco (who also plays the voice of Johnny).

Michael Lopez (pictured above with Mark Manley) plays our cautious Chief of Police and a very funny salesman from VT. He and I were both doing the Fringe Fest while in the midst of rehearsals for Johnny.
Our cast is rounded out beautifully by Bergin Michaels, Christian Rummel (above center), Wayne Henry (above left), hilarious as an Italian bodyguard who is more buffoon than bodyguard, and the marvelous Raymond Thorne.

Kudos to our incredible sceneic designer, Joseph Spirito, who worked night and day on the set with his lovely wife. Also hats off to lighting designer, Jeffrey E. Salzberg, and our awesome stage managers, Scott Earley (also in charge of sound design) and Liza Baron (pictured below).We have a special performance tonight for subscribers then we run Sept. 11-Oct. 4th. Thurs. - Saturday nights at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets are $20, which is pretty affordable considering how movie tickets are over $10:

Come get a taste of old-fashioned 1940's style and comedy! :)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Johnny On A Spot - In Previews

I can't help beaming: Johnny On A Spot has started previews off Broadway while Equus with Daniel Radcliffe (brilliant in the Harry Potter films) has started previews on Broadway. I actually walked by the Broadhurst Theatre this week on the way to the Theatre at St. Clement's, and it all just made me feel... energized. Times Square can often be a challenge to get through, but lately I feel like I have magic slippers on that allow me to move along The Great White Way with ease. It is an absolute delight!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Inspiring Presences

As I've been zooming around lately, making my dreams come true by donig a great deal of work in the theatre, I must tip my hat to some of the wonderful people who help me make this all possible:

My fiance, Rob, has been on this life ride with me for many moons. We met at the PA Renaissance Faire when we were both cast in the Shakespearean acting troupe, and he immediately caught my attention with his wicked sense of humor. To quote Jessica Rabbit, "He makes me laugh," and that humor has been a huge asset in life as well as art. Though he left the biz years ago to go into graphic design, his understanding of the "music of comedy" has been a great help to me since that's where I've been getting most of my acting work lately, so I must give kudos to my great love who is also my comedy coach. :)

My friend, Tina (pictured with her daughter Molly), whom I also met during my time at the Ren Faire, lives in PA, and we chat everyday on IM, providing much needed "visits." My day just isn't the same if I don't see her online. She's the one who got me blogging in the first place! And she's always an inspiration to me, having created her own business, The Essential Herbal, working to make this world a better place not only by doing work she loves to do, but by going "green" before it was trendy to do so, respecting nature's bounty. Congrats, Tina, on your 7th year of success!

There are also a ton of people who have shaped me through my life: my 8th grade English teacher, Marcia Cloyd, who always believed in me and still keeps in touch with me via email. Gotta love the internet! My friend, Lisa Terrell, from high school, who is an ICU nurse and forever inspires me with her bravery in life and in the ER. My NY friends, Carl and Michael and Ataman, who are just too dear for words! My own brother, Sean, who is an incredible musican (drummer/guitarist/songwriter for SMUG and drummer for Hippie Cream). He always reminds me that art is persepective: all we can do is our best as we put our art out there. My sister-in-law, Lani, who is an incredible working mom and endless fount of love and passion. And my own parents who always made sure to cultivate my artistic energy with dance/gymnastics/voice lessons and came to just about every show I did in CA. They've also made a few guest appearances here in the Big Apple. Hoping they'll be able to catch Johnny On A Spot.

Speaking of which, almost every cast and crew I've worked with have become a 2nd family in the midst of production and rehearsals. That's the amazing thing about theatre and the arts - there's a great sense of bringing people together. It truly is a community!

Much love to all of you "inspiring presences." :)