Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This just in!

I had to post this! It's from The Producer's Perspective, an awesome blog by Broadway and Off Broadway producer, Ken Davenport.

Top 10 tips for Actors

Absolutely brilliant!

I especially like #10: Always audition.

"The best way to master auditioning is just like everything else. Do it over and over. You'll get numb to the nerves. You'll be able to be yourself. And you'll get free practice! I used to go to dance calls, because learning a dance combination at an audition is a free dance class (and I needed them). Actors who get to work on sides with directors at an audition get a free coaching." - Ken Davenport

I have to laugh because that's something I was just telling my friend, Tina. She had advised when I first came to the city to audition for everything for practice, which I didn't understand because I was like, "Shouldn't I be going for the job?"

But now I realize it's so much more than that. There are so many things we can't control about the multi-layered aspect of an audition, BUT we get to perform for 2 minutes, we get to show our work, and I tell ya, every time I do a song or monologue or read side from the script, I learn. I learn more about the characters I'm working on, more about myself, and more about the process, and it is an absolute BLAST! :)

Hope you're enjoying your process as well. :)

Spring in the City

I love this time of year! Every time I look at the trees, it seems their buds are unfurling a little further each day. The birds are singing, flower stalks are starting to appear. Some plants are beginning to flower. It is so beautiful!

My friend, Tina, put it best: With everything beginning to "green up, the same thing is happening in a certain way to me. Everything quickens and the pace picks up. Winter is over. A new year begins."

I've been feeling that way with each audition I've been hitting. Lately, I've been so blessed to receive incredible responses after each audition. Directors, casting directors, artistic directors, everyone has been saying, "That was GREAT," and then they'll talk with me further about my audition piece or a show they saw me in. One casting director even remembered me from The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun, which I did a few years ago. And some directors are taking time to give me notes or encouragement on my audition pieces. It's really cool, because I feel like I'm getting through.

Like the little leaf-buds on the trees, I'm growing further each day and soon I'll be unfurling! :)

If you're a city-dweller like me and would like to take in some luscious sights of Spring in the woodsy countryside, check out my friend, Tina's blog: http://theessentialherbal.blogspot.com/

She's the editor and chief behind the magazine, The Essential Herbal, and if you'd like an in-depth glimpse of this delicious compilation of recipes, remedies, and delightful stories, check out the free download of last year's issue, The Victory Garden: www.essentialherbal.com/MarchApril2008forweb.pdf

Tina always rocks my world because she's a self-starter who brings people together. She's almost always all-inclusive and that's such an amazing thing for a small business owner. She always inspires me.

Here we grow! :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Great Gradations!

gradation - noun - any process or change taking place through a series of stages, by degrees, or in a gradual manner.

I feel like I've graduated in a way, and yet it seems too early to talk about caps and gowns, especially since I have a bunch of classes on the horizon.

This just feels like such an incredible time of great change for me. Yesterday I went to an audition for the play, Speech and Debate by Stephen Karam. Because I am a petite actress, I've often played young adults for what feels like forever. And I'm not knocking this. Hey! I made it to final callbacks for Sally Brown in Snoopy, so obviously, it's a niche! And for this play, I'm probably a "tweener" (in-between the ages of the characters, and could be cast either way), so I decided to embrace my full-grown womanhood and read for The Teacher. It was a bold choice but felt... FULL. And I received great response from the director on my audition, which was wonderfully encouraging.

It was just such a cool feeling, working to my satisfaction, making bold choices for the character in the short amount of time I got to know her (we were cold-reading scenes from the script). I truly felt like I graduated from "student" to "teacher" in that moment. It was so empowering!

And yet this year I have immersed myself in my studies. It started with the Monologue Audition workshop with Karen Kohlhaas at The Atlantic Theatre School. I wanted to take more classes at ATS but our schedules weren't in sync, so I contacted one of Karen's recommendations, Deloss Brown, a former Juilliard teacher, and will be diving into his 7-week Shakespeare workshop. As one of my favorite actors from Slings and Arrows once said (and I'm paraphrasing), "If you can do Shakespeare, you can do anything." His work is timeless, and I love it!

So as I continue to "walk my talk" and put my work out there, learning from each audition, and working on new material, I have this feeling of "lift-off," of incredible growth, and it is indeed worth celebrating.

"You've got to build your foundation and get out there, because no class is going to teach you what auditioning and performing will teach you." - Karen Kohlhaas

4.........3......... 2........ 1...

BLAST OFF!!!!! :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life and Death

With the sudden loss of Natasha Richardson, I find this such a keen reminder how utterly slim the line is between life and death. Not to be morose... some of my friends have been facing this "fine line" daily.

My dear friend, Lisa (below), is a nurse who works in the intensive care unit (ICU), and she sees this life and death struggle daily. My Mom is also a nurse, and she works with cardio patients, and has had some heart-pounding experiences, to be sure. I love these ladies and their ability to help people in their true life-n-death battles.

Then there's my friend, Tina, who's been going through "the fight for life" with her brother, John, as he waits for a liver transplant. She actually has the incredible mindset to realize this time is precious and will someday be looked back on as The Good Old Days.

They're all incredible people.

And what does this have to do with Natasha Richardson? Well, like many folks, I was greatly saddened and shocked by her sudden death, and my heart goes out to her family.

I remember first seeing her in the film The Handmaid's Tale. I had just finished reading Margaret Atwood's novel, and was very interested to see the film. Natasha Richardson was luminous and perfectly cast as Offred, the fertile Handmaid. She was so intriguing and I kept an eye open for her other films, enjoying her work as Mary Shelley in Gothic, as Dr. Paula Olsen (pictured below with her husband Liam Neeson) with Jodie Foster's wild-child Nell, Disney's remake of The Parent Trap, and as one of the ugly step-sisters in the modern Cinderella tale with Jennifer Lopez, Maid in Manhattan. She was so brilliant at moving from drama to comedy, absolutely seamless, and I'm glad her work has been capured on film.

I didn't get to see her work on Broadway, and man, I wish I could have. I remember watching the Tony Awards and being mesmerized by her brief appearances as Anna Christie (with her husband Liam Neeson), her saucy Sally Bowles in Cabaret, and as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire. I'm inspired by her growth and work as an actress, going from Ibsen ingenues to Williams' tragic willow. Her range was obviously incredible.

Her passion for acting was "rivalled only by cooking," and she was quoted as saying (of acting), "The best feeling in the world is when you don't know what will happen next but you're in control... It's like flying."

I've been finding that feeling as well.

She was heralded as a "brave, tenacious, wonderful woman" and I salute her spirit. I am grateful for her inspiration as an artist and how she has made me think of all the brave and beautiful women in my life.

I pray her family will find comfort and healing during this challenging time.

Blessed be.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Well, I got my voice over demos on my Media page:

Clairol Nice 'N Easy

Citi Identity Theft Solutions (Valley Girl)

These are ads from the UK with the appropriate British accent:

New Lux

Bodyfrom (working class)

Hope you dig it! :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Begin Where You Are

I met a young artist recently who asked me, "How do you get started (in acting)?"

After I gave him this huge laundry list of basics like checking Backstage.com and Actors Access and Actors Equity for auditions, the Ross Reports for agent and casting director info, reading and researching the biz and the art (Karen Kohlhaas has a great recommended reading list - maybe I should make one too!), I was reminded of something my friend, Tina, always tells me: "Look back on your progress. See where you've come from and where you've been." It helps give encouragement to know where you're going.

And I heard this message today: "Begin where you are."

To me that represents starting with a clean slate, being in the present moment, accepting yourself as you are right now and using that as your springboard to grow where you want to be.

Begin where you are. Look around at your surroundings, at yourself, and nurture yourself where you are right now.

And enjoy the ride! :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Look what's sprouting!

My title makes me think of this song from the musical Mack and Mabel called "Look What Happened to Mabel." It's the supposed story of Mabel Normand, who, in the musical starts as a waitress, is "discovered" by Mack, and becomes the "Queen of Comedy." Her song happens when she sees herself on the big movie screen, and cries out, "Oh Jumpin' St. Jude, Look What Happened to Mabel!"

I remember having that same feeling when I first saw myself in the NYU film, Sincerely Yours. That was a lovely 30 minute film about an unusual WWII romance conducted through letters, and the entire experience from beginning to end (auditions, callbacks, filming at 3 in the morning in an old diner in PA... walking across a bridge at dawn for a spontaneous shot, and then seeing the film 9 months later) was exquisite!

That wasn't the original reason for my post, but it might as well be. I was just marveling at how a "seed" I sowed somewhere around ten years ago just sprouted.

When I first moved to New York, I was a little girl with long dark hair, not unlike our silent moviestar above. :) I ended up meeting with a reputable Talent Management company that worked with young actors, and while we had a lovely meeting, it ended with them saying, "We'll keep you on file."

Zoom to ten years later. Yesterday, I heard from this same agency, requesting sound files from me for a very big commercial. I've just begun to do recordings for musicals, but do not have a huge voice over demo list. YET. You can BET I'll be remedying that this weekend. And they're waiting for me.

The thing that really hit me is that you never know how some audition/meeting you attended, or whom you might've met years ago, might have an impact on your present and your future.

One of my friends (a big gardener and herbal gal as a matter of fact) always talks about planting seeds and giving everything its chance to grow. You can't force the growth - you can't tug on the plants or you might pull up the roots. But you can nurture your seeds with water and light and love, sunshine and pruning, getting rid of the weeds, and your seeds will grow.

You just never know when. So keep on keeping on. :) And enjoy each day of growth!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Leap

"I've noticed a very interesting phenomenon over the years. The greater risks we take, the greater the rewards. And when we dare to go after our dreams things have a funny way of working out to our advantage. Of course, there are no guarantees. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. But if we don't take the leap, we'll never know." - Mark Sikes, Casting Corner

I started a class last night at One on One Productions called TV Bootcamp by Ross Meyerson and it was a great class. There are many places out there where you pay money to meet and work with a top level casting director and I always sort of chafed at that before. But I tell you, Ross' class made it all make sense, because like he said, if you didn't go to Juilliard or Yale or Carnegie Mellon, then the best way of getting seen by top level casting directors is to take a workshop with them. That way, you get to show your work and to learn "the tools of the trade."

Going from theatrical acting to acting for film and TV is a big change and yet... it's the same. It's the same in that great acting comes from truthful story-telling (in my opinion). From Meisner to Mamet... and like William H. Macy said in a recent interview on NY1 (and pardon my paraphrasing), "If I pursue the action, the words take care of themselves."

It all reminds me to get out of my own way. "Stop waiting to feel comfortable." And take the leap. :)

I feel like an onion, peeling away the layers, or like a rose opening its petals...

It feels fabulous!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Women who watched "The Watchmen"

There have been a lot of critiques about the new film, The Watchmen, and one that caught my eye was, "Will women watch it?" Well, I was there opening weekend with my fanboys and girls, and we all truly enjoyed it. Our group was comprised of small business owners, a literature professor (Jayne in the red), an economist, a chef, a graphic designer, myself the actress, and other movers and shakers. Everyone seemed to really dig the picture, and I would recommend it, though I would NOT recommend taking kids to it.

This is a very adult superhero film where violence reigns and the superheroes have been told, "thanks, but no thanks" since the government has decided it only needs one superhero, Dr. Manhattan, to take care of all the "big" issues like averting nuclear war. So what about the rest of the retired vigilantes? There's still a lot of distress on the streets and in homes, and one subversive hero named Rorschach (played with passionate intensity by the incredible Jackie Earle Haley) refuses to lay low.

When an ex-hero named The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is murdered, the Watchmen inadvertently come together to battle some unknown evil once again.

The thing that's fascinating about this film is the basic premise of good and evil in every person. The Comedian, it turns out, was really more of a hired gun, committing all sorts of atrocities for the government in the name of "good." Very chilling.

The rest of the heroes include Nite Owl played by Patrick Wilson (whom I loved in Angels in America and Little Children), and this character is an obvious nod to Batman; Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), a business mogul considered to be the fastest and smartest man alive, and Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), a martial artist-type hottie whose mother (lusciously played by Carla Gugino, who nearly steals the show in my opinion) was a superhero of the same name. And lastly, there's Dr. Manhattan, beautifully played by Billy Crudup (even when he's glowing blue), a full-fledged superman who can destroy matter (and that includes people) with a thought. Needless to say, this hero's mind is so far-reaching that he's losing his touch with humanity.

And I would say that's partially a danger for the film as well. It tries to cram so much in and reaches for such lofty heights... sometimes it feels like it's trying too hard.

But there are incredible spectacles to see! And I love the major questions that come into play such as, What is "good" and what should be done for the greater good and who truly knows what that is?

It made me want to check out Alan Moore's original graphic novel, especially in light of this blog I found that focused on the women of The Watchmen. That was my only complaint (other than the film being a little too long, clocking at 2 hours and 45 minutes): the ladies seemed to be relegated to eye candy. Ass-kicking eye-candy, but still.... I just didn't believe that Silk Spectre II had it in her to be the type of woman that truly inspired great men to do great things... unless it was only based on a sexual charge, because yeah, she exuded sexy innocence, but there wasn't a true sense of soul-searching depth, and that was frustrating, because I could tell from the writing that she was supposed to be that type of ultimate human inspiration. Ya know?

Anyway, because of that missing element, the love story was just sort of "eh" for me.

But the rest of the film worked in a mind-blowing, graphically dazzling, terrifyingly thought-provoking kind of way.

My favorite character was Rorschach (above far right), whose blank mask would shift with inkblots like the famed Rorchach Test. Jackie Earle Haley absolutely captivated me with his intensity. He exuded a bazillion emotions while masked and unmasked and brought this character to full-bodied life. There's a great interview about his process behind the character here.

So if you're in the mood for an especially epic and dark superhero film, give The Watchmen a go.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Return of the Blue Coyotes and The Essential Herbal Blog Contest

Two subjects today. :)

First of all, if you're looking for some interesting downtown theatre in New York, check out the Blue Coyote Theatre Company. My friend, Tracey Gilbert, who was my co-star in The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun, is a member of the company, and I must say, it's always a pleasure to support this innovative group.

Their latest production is Conversations on Russian Literature Plus Three More Plays by David Johnston. Really interesting stuff. Tracey performs in a delightful piece called Mothra is Waiting, about two over-the-hill chanteuses, one of whom is sure that a fictional Japanese monster will rescue them from their dreary lives. Tracey is electrically funny and a joy to watch. I love seeing her work and it's even better getting to work with her! :)

Conversations runs through this weekend only, so if you can, catch it!

My other "nod" is to my friend, Tina, of The Essential Herbal, who's having a Blog Contest. 10 blogs are involved, and you can enter to win simply by posting a comment on one or all ten of the blogs.

I had written for one of Tina's "companion books" The Fairy Home Companion, and the prize for this blog contest are fairyland cookie cutters! Really cute!

I love this "contest" simply because it's a great way to see other blogs that are out there, focused on nature's elements, and the sense of community that is built from promoting these small businesses.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

When is an audition like a Tea Party?

My sweetheart has a fondness for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and we often toss around quotes from that world. A hard day at work can often seem like the Mad Tea Party, don't you find?

But today started beautifully for me. I woke up nice and early to go wait in line for the Equity Principal Actors' call for The Norman Conquests. Most EPAs are like that - you get up early so you can make sure you get an assigned time to audition later in the day. This time of year many auditions are jam-packed and there's a reason they're likened to a "cattle call," because everyone's jammed together and "moo-ing" about something.

This morning, however, was a breath of fresh air! I don't know if it's because the call was so specific, looking for actors to understudy the British cast that's being brought over from the successful run at The Old Vic, but there were only about 15 of us there to start, all ladies (the gents arrived later).

Usually, when I'm waiting in line, I'll put my headphones on and focus on whatever I'm currently reading. As I said, most of the auditions can be noisy and crazed, but the minute I stepped off the elevator today, these ladies were all so lovely and welcoming, even offering me a rocking chair that seemed to be waiting just for me. We all sat and talked lightly about shows, fashion, and the news (one gal had a newspaper and would make little "reports"). There was such an air of congeniality. It made me think very much of English tea parties. Truly, all we needed was the proper setting for tea and the mood would've been complete!I'm hoping the audition itself will be just as lovely. I love Alan Ayckbourn's plays, so getting to read from the script should be a treat indeed!

Monday, March 02, 2009


The message of patience has appeared to me twice today, and when that happens, I realize it's time to pay attention.

My first sighting of this message was on the Actors Voice POV, the March 1st entry:

"When opportunity knocks, you better know what to do... And who knows when that opportunity will come around again? So when you get an audition, make the most of it. It's not that difficult, really. Just be on time, be prepared, and do the best you can... Every audition is a free learning experience and a chance to change your life." - John Schultz, Manager

The British singer, Adele, also encourages patience while pursing an artistic career in her interview with ExploreTalent.com.

I find this gentle nudge helpful as I gear up for auditions and networking events with agents this week. I continue to grow with my monologue repertoire and am looking at new songs for musical auditions. I just want to really cultivate work I enjoy, and that includes working on myself, my instrument, taking classes, going to the gym, being aware, being good to myself as I nurture myself on this artistic path. It's all good.