Friday, February 27, 2009

Vote For Wayne!

My friend and funny buddy Wayne Henry needs your vote to make it to the next round on The Big Gay Sketch Show! Can ya help?

You can vote every 24 hours, so if you can, put Wayne on your daily "to do" list.

Thank you! :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blessed in Friendship

These past few days have brought me an influx of friends. It's just such a treat when you get time to connect with people you care about and who care about you.

I saw my friend, Deb Radloff, for lunch yesterday. We had worked together a year ago on Hell's Belles, and we've done a few readings together (SIN, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Vienna) and recently recorded a demo of the new musical Argentina Rumpus. Deb is an amazing woman, phenomenal friend, incredible actress and singer, and she's also training to be a yoga instructor. Talk a Renaissance gal! I'm just so proud of her and very excited to be working on a cabaret with her.

Since she's going through intense training to be a yoga instructor, she shared with me one of the sutras, which is something akin to "Change your mind and you change your world." Ironically, this has been something I've been exploring as well, realizing how perspective - and a positive one at that - has such an incredible bearing on our life experiences.

My brother confirmed this with his college course on Hindu studies and how he's realizing that what he focuses his thoughts on grows, whether its good or bad, so why not focus on the good stuff and increase the good in our lives?

I totally dig it.

And speaking of good stuff, check out my friend Wayne Henry on Logo's Big Gay Sketch Show contest produced by Rosie O'Donnell:

Wayne needs over 4,000 votes to get to the next round, so please cast your vote! You can do so every 24 hours, and believe me, this funny man is worth every second!
Wayne and I worked together on Johnny on a Spot, though we actually didn't get any stage time together. When he was on, my character was up to mischief offstage and vice versa. But we had such a blast backstage and in rehearsals that we swore our characters should come together for their own show! Hmmmm - perhaps we really should give those characters their due. I have no doubt hilarity would abound!

I love how all these people inspire me - artistically, professionally and personally. I am surrounded by really wonderful folks and that makes "the ride" so much fun!

Happy trails!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Art and Life

My friend, Michael, and I were talking about art yesterday, and how important it is for us as human beings. It allows us to express ourselves in such fascinating ways, to tell our stories... stories that are important to us. Whether it is the written word or film or photography or a painting, there is this sense of necessary expressive experience. Michael was very game in going to the MoMA with me to take in my friend, Kara's film, Bachelorette 34 (detailed in the post below), and he also took pictures with me of The Essential Herbal magazine. It was my goal to get the magazine in a few photos around town, because, to me, this is art that, like Kara's film, TEACHES. My friend, Tina, created this magazine as a newsletter to bring together people who are into herbs for health and crafts and finding natural remedies towards making our world a better place. The newsletter grew into this wonderful multi-page magazine that is made from recycled materials and contains a wealth of info and ideas. As Tina says, "Some tiny little herb shop in the hidden hills might harbor some powerful knowledge... and how are we to know? Its an opportunity to put that herb shop on the map. It is a chance for the home herbalist to be published right alongside someone everyone has heard of."

And I love that!

Art brings people together, stirs the imagination...

My brother always says, "Don't judge your art. There are enough people who will do that anyway. It's all perspective." And we all have unique perspectives. Some art we dig, some we don't, but it's all about what moves you.

I dig how art can bring people together from all over the world.
Penelope Cruz mentioned this in her Academy Award acceptance speech last night: "I grew up in a place called Alcobendas, where this was not a very realistic dream. And I, always on the night of the Academy Awards, I stay up to watch the show and I always felt that this was, this ceremony was a moment of unity for the world because art, in any form, is and has been and will always be our universal language and we should do everything we can, everything we can, to protect its survival."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Seasons In The Sun

It's cool when you get to see a friend have a big moment.

Last night, I met up with my childhood friend, Kara Herold, and we hadn't seen each other since high school! She's in NY, showcasing her documentary Bachelorette 34 which is playing at the Museum of Modern Art, and it's screening tomorrow (Sunday) at 1:30 PM if you're in the city and want to catch a really fun, innovative film.

For the past few weeks, I've been seeing Kara's poster in subways around the city, and it's such a thrill! It reminds me of when my sweetheart, Rob, designed a billboard for Swatch in Times Square.When you get to see people you care about get their big moment, it's such a joy!

I also got to visit with Kara's mom and dad at the MoMA last night, and that was such a trip. These people were a pretty big part of my childhood since our families all grew up together on the same street. Kara was the first person to introduce me to the Helen Keller story, and we both shared a love of drama and musicals. We played the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music, breaking the rules and performing in a high school musical before we were in high school.

It's funny - Kara's dad said last night, "I remember you and Kara putting on shows as kids, and you're both still doing that!"

I love that we're making our dreams come true.

It was so cool to see Kara's film. It was so innovation and interesting, mixing animation with old footage from the 50s and 60s, and addressing the important issue of a woman's sense of fulfillment in this day and age.

Kara's mom, Alice, is a big star of the show, searching for a marriageable man for her daughter, but what stands out in the film is the idea of the “quirkyalone, ” a name given to happy singletons, written about by in a now-famous essay by Kara's close friend, Sasha Cagen. I believe the focus here is on women, but this term also makes me think of many marvelous men I know who are also choosing to nurture themselves on their own while they seek fulfillment in the midst of seeking a mate to share the ride with them.

“I think women want more options," Kara says. "They realize it’s better to be single than it is to be in a relationship for the sake of it.”

Again, I believe this holds true for men and women. I have seen both sides of the coin.

What I loved most about this film is what it says about generations past and present, and how, whether we like it or not, we are all intertwined.

I like it. I think there's much to learn from those who've come before us, and we can also learn from ourselves, by listening to and loving ourselves, paving the way for future generations.

"Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face." - Helen Keller

Friday, February 20, 2009

Terrific Teachers

There are classes and teachers that change our lives. My kindgarten teacher, Mrs. Borden, made school feel safe for me. My first music teacher, Pat Wear, created a venue where I could sing to my heart's content. My first voice teacher, Winnie Hammond, took me to my first professional audition at the San Bernadino CLO - first for Peter Pan and then for Annie, which I booked. Tom Hatten was the top billing for that show, and my Dad was a big fan of his and the Popeye / Family Film Festival shows that would play on the weekend.

My 8th grade teacher, Marcia Cloyd (pictured left), was a huge influence on me, encouraging me as a writer and an actress. She introduced me to her mother, Marguerette, who was a local celebrity from The Ramona Pageant, which is a gorgeous outdoor play based on Helen Hunt Jackon's novel, Ramona about the Spanish/Indian conflict in Southern CA in the late 1800s. Both Margie and Marcia took me under their wings, and Margie kept her eye on me, offering me the role of Rita in Educating Rita at her Palace West Playhouse (local theatre) when I turned 21. I ended up winning the Inland Theatre League Award for that role and that show, and that was pretty darned cool!

Then I was off to NYC... "three bucks, two bags, one me." I went to AMDA, booked work at the PA Renaissance Faire and learned tons from my directors and castmates! Fell in love, and continue to learn from my sweet Robbie, who is a master at comedy.

Back in NY, I booked gigs here and there and got my Equity card, but you know when you plateau? You need a guide to the next level.
It was VP Boyle (above) who rocked my world and opened the door for me with his Musical Theatre Forum. One of the biggest lessons I learned was that it's not about "them" and what "they" think. It's about working to my own satisfaction. And one of the questions VP would often ask was, "If today was your last day on earth and you had the chance to sing, what would you sing?"

My Mom (below) always talked about that when I was a kid: "Live each day as if it's your last." And to me that translates to, "Live life to the fullest!"
To quote Auntie Mame, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

Life's too short to not "go for it," ya know? And I'm in the business of making my dreams come true!

I just finished The Monoluge Audition Workshop with Karen Kohlhaas, and this has been one of those life-changing, restoring confidence, stir-the-imagination kind of classes. I wish I would've taken this class years ago! It is a boon to any actor!

For our last night of class we did mock auditions, and since this class is at The Atlantic Theatre School, there were other classes and sessions going on. While I was waiting in the hall for one of the "mock" auditions, a very famous TV star happened to pass by, and she asked what we were doing. When we told her about the "mock" audition, she gave a knowing look and said, "Whew! I was afraid it was a REAL audition!" It made me laugh because you hear all the time how no one likes to audition, big stars included, yet we all do it, we all go through the trial by fire to get what we want!

And now I've got these great tools to propel me forward. :)

If you're not in NY and can't study with Karen, I highly recommend her books, The Monologue Audition and How To Choose A Monologue. Seriously, they're right up there with the infamous Audition books we've all been schooled in. But these are current, chock full of info, and incredibly inspiring.

"Once more unto the breech, dear friends!"

Hope you're making your dreams come true too! :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Passionate People

Tonight is my last class for the Monologue Workshop at the Atlantic Theatre School, and I feel this bittersweet mix of sadness and excitement. Sad because it's the last class, even though I know many more classes are out there, and I'm excited to partake of those, but still, I'll miss this class. It's been one of those life-changing classes. And it makes me think of that great line from the movie, Yentl (lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman)....

There are moments you remember all your life
There are moments you wait for and dream of all your life

This is one of those moments.

Tonight, I'll be performing 4 monologues for my teacher and classmates, and it's such a thrill, knowing I can do this, that I have built this repertoire of 4 solid pieces in 5 short weeks, and that I can keep going, that I have more to add to my arsenal. I have more to bring to the party, and I love what I have to offer. It's unique.

Going back to Yentl, it's the 25th (really 26th) Anniversary of the film, and I remember watching it as a kid, being inspired by it. What tomboy and musical theatre lover didn't feel the same way?It was on over the weekend, and as I watched it, I noticed things as a woman that I hadn't noticed as a child, and I was especially caught up by how Barbra Streisand directed the film. Her choices of lighting and where she placed the camera for far away shots vs. close-ups. And she acted in it, co-wrote the screenplay and produced it! Talk about wearing many hats! Rock on, Babs!

As I watched the film, I was also struck by the realization that I got to work with the director of the original Broadway production, Robert Kalfin. Bob directed me last year in two staged readings of the play SIN, one of which was with F. Murray Abraham (wow) as Satan! Both SIN and Yentl were short stories written by Isaac Bashevis Singer, which were adapted and turned into plays.

It's easy to imagine a young Barbra Streisand being inspired by the play. In fact, as early as 1968, Ms. Streisand began to work on acquiring the the rights to the story. So for her to get the film out in 1983... talk about a labor of love!

One of my friends from NYU, Jonathan Betzler, a filmmaker in his own right, has been doing video-blogs about the movies from 1983 and Yentl was among his discussions. It's a great review, so check it out on YouTube.
What's wrong with wanting more?
If you can fly - then soar!

With all there is - why settle for

just a piece of sky?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca

"Success is where preparation and opportunity meet." - Bobby Unser

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Exciting time

Man, time is flying! It's been so jam-packed with joy and life lessons. I'm still taking it all in.

I've certainly learned to multi-task!

While prepping for my callback for Snoopy (2 week Off Broadway gig), I'm also working on new monologues for my monologue class with Karen Kohlhaas at the Atlantic Theatre School, and I've been prepping for the annual regional theatre auditions. Theatres from all over the country come to the city this time of year to hold their seasonal auditions, and I usually shy away from the monologue auditions, but not this time, baby! Since I booked 2 Off Broadway plays last year via "cold readings," I figured I could expand my horizons. And boy, am I glad I have been!

This monologue class has given me tools I can use in ANY audition, and I am actually having FUN in monologue auditions (and feeling effective with my work) again. No hit or miss. I can totally go for it because I have a strong, structured base and tools for freedom that can work every time I audition. It's amazing, and I'm having a blast with what I can now "bring to the table."

I definitely used my new found knowledge at the Snoopy callback, which resulted in making it to the final round of callbacks yesterday.

The final callbacks were a BLAST! Incredibly fun, funny, and at times intense, I forgot how final callbacks for a musical can sometimes take up half the day or longer. I was there for about 4 hours, dancing, singing, reading the script. It was a blast, and I remembered very quickly how you need to pace yourself to maintain that high level of energy needed for a musical. It's like running a marathon! But wow, what a ride!

Now I'm focused on fulfilling my work for the last class of this monologue workshop (4 monologues in 4 weeks)! Man, I'm going to miss it, that wonderful sense of structure, working on a new monologue to perform in class each week while still nurturing the other monologues and songs I'm working on as well. But that's one of the wonderful things this class has given me: the ability to set goals for myself and keep the momentum going by drilling my current pieces, constantly reading plays, looking for monologues in all sorts of places, and increasing my repertoire with work I enjoy.

One of the things I love about this process is that I'm learning to focus on what I can and cannot control. That's actually what drew me to Karen's book and class in the first place. Her book opens with a checklist of things we can control (being prepared, choice of material, how we "talk" to ourselves before and after an audition) vs. the things we can't control like "what they're looking for?"

It's about working to our own satisfaction. And I love that!

Onto the next adventure! :)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Music, Food for the Soul

"If music be the food of love, play on..." - William Shakespeare

One of my favorite scenes in the movie, Groundhog Day by Harold Ramis, is when Bill Murray decides to learn to play the piano, and because he has all this time (due to a glitch in time), he turns into a consummate pianist and ends up giggin' with a band at the end of the movie. He easily switches from jazz to a more classical sound when the woman he loves walks into the room. And she falls in love with him - just as we the audience have - because he's taken the journey and the time to nurture himself and to realize his potential to really live each day.

What does this have to do with music? Well, music is the language that bridges all gaps - languages, limitation, emotional blockages. It moves us and inspires us.

I was wondering how I'd feel about music since I've been focusing so strongly on non-musical theatre lately (in Karen Kohlhaas' monologue class at The Atlantic Theatre School). But what I've discovered is that the "pull of the tide" is just as strong. I can feel the music of language in plays - from contemporaries like Theresa Rebeck, Adam Bock, and Don Nigro to more classical writers like Henrik Ibsen. And since Karen has been teaching us to create interesting tempos within our monologues, each piece with each student seems to blossom with exuberence and spontaneity and unexpected rhythms.

I know that what I'm learning in this acting class is also something I can apply to my musical theatre repretoire. And I'm reminded keenly of something I'd heard not too long ago about how a pretty voice is nice but if there's great acting behind it, it's even better!

I noticed this with the clip I saw of Liza Minelli on NY1. Liza is a miracle to behold, and boy, can she sell a song. Every inch of her seemed to pulsate with vibrant energy, and while her voice is not what it was in her glory days, she STILL was incredible! I wish I would've seen her recent show, Liza's at the Palace, because it's not every day you get to see a living legend onstage.

I learned so much from watching just that clip of Liza - that utter joyous commitment to her performance.

Music takes us places if we let us.

I've been listening to Snoopy the Musical, because I have a callback for it tomorrow, to play Charlie Brown's little sister, Sally. The music is SO GOOD, and I've heard that the recent London production included even more songs, so I'll definitely check that out. I'll be learning some of the music tomorrow at the callback, and I tell you, I can't wait to sing it! The songs range from absolute FUN to wonderfully moving. Just getting to sing this music at the callback is going to be a very fulfilling experience. Looking forward to it.