Thursday, May 27, 2010

A great day

We had a great show last night for the staged reading of the new script for Hell's Belles. The crowd was lovely and enthusiastic despite the heat. But hey, it's supposed to be a nightclub in hell, so we were sizzling!

Today's show should be cooler. It's a 2 PM reading at Ha! Comedy Club, and I have friends from PA coming to see it: the fabulous Twisted Sisters, Tina and Maryanne, from The Essential Herbal Magazine and Torchsong Studio jewelry.

I've known The Sisters since my days at the PA Renaissance Faire where my husband, Rob, and I met. He and I were cast in the professional acting troupe, doing Shakespeare and madrigals, and Rob actually introduced me to the girls. They ran a cozy little herb shoppe, and were fondly known as "The Twisted Sisters," because they had such a wickedly wonderful sense of humor. They still do as a matter of fact! ;)

As Bogart said, it was "the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

We've kept in touch over the years, and have cheered each other on from afar. They're still going strong in PA with their own home businesses while Rob and I are making our dreams come true in the Big Apple.

Maryanne and Tina were both saying they haven't seen me perform since the Faire, so I'm especially jazzed to share this show with them since I get to rock out as Janis Joplin and then sing my heart out as Judy Garland.

My husband even took the afternoon off to catch the show again!

He was there last night with some of our NY friends, and it was such a blast to see so many smiling faces in the crowd. Hopefully we had some industry folks attend as well since that's what the reading is for. In any case, this has been a great chance to do my thing! :)

Right now, I'm off to an audition. I was called in to read for the lead in a new play, and then I have to jet from there to make the 1:30 call for Hell's Belles. After the show, I get to relax a bit with my husband and friends, then I'm off to an acting class tonight.

It's a full, artistic day, and I can't stop thinking, What a great way to spend the day! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reprising a Role

It is such a rare treat to reprise a role. I've done it once before. When I first arrived in the city, I was cast as Rita LaPorta in the Off Off Broadway revival of the Ahrens and Flaherty musical, Lucky Stiff.

A few years later I was offered the same role in a stellar production at Mason Street Warehouse.

Now, I'm getting ready to reprise the roles of Judy Garland and Janis Joplin in a staged reading of the musical, Hell's Belles.

The show is about a nightclub in Hell, and the entertainers are some of history's most infamous women, including Salome, Ma Barker, Eva Peron, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and more!

(Deb Radloff as Bette Davis and me as Joan Crawford)

Most of the cast is back from the last production, including myself, Deborah Radloff, and Alicia Sable.

Omri Schein (above with Alicia Sable) plays the devilish master of ceremonies, and Clare Cooper absolutely rocks out on the keyboard.

It has been such a pleasure to dive back into these larger than life characters, and I'm certainly glad I kept all my research notes, because it's definitely helped me slip back into their shoes!

I've enjoyed re-watching old interviews on Janis Joplin, Judy Garland and Joan Crawford, making new discoveries about these women I thought I knew. There's always more to discover!

By far, Janis and Judy are my favorites, and ironically, Janis was called "The Judy Garland of Rock." There are so many interesting parallels!

If you're in NY, the show is being done as a free 45 minute presentation at Ha! Comedy Club this Wednesday May 26 at 6 PM and Thursday May 27th at 2 PM.

Contact for more info.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ready... aim....

I'm not a gunslinger, though I've played one onstage. :)

I'm sure my family had some cowboys somewhere in the ancestry. We were definitely pioneers! And both sides of the family married Cherokee women. I'm very proud to be connected to that tribe.

For some reason, my Mom, who is a tiny woman like me, wanted to make sure I was trained in firearms, because she thought I should know how to handle a gun "just in case." In case of what? "I don't know," Mom said, "it's just good to be prepared."

I have to tip my hat to her. Being prepared is definitely one of my jobs as an actor. And ironically, my brief training in firearms has come in handy when I've played gun-toting characters like Rita in Lucky Stiff.

I remember trying out a rifle in firearms training, and it knocked me flat on my butt. I had to laugh.

With auditions and (heck!) with life in general, you can feel a little knocked around, ya know? But lately I feel like I'm "back in the saddle again."

I've entered this neat phase where all I'm focused on is going into an audition room to do good work. That's all I want to do.

Yes, a callback would be great. Yes, a job offer would be awesome! But if I go into an audition with that attitude, it's like going to a banquet hungry. You're starving, you're not thinking straight. And I'd rather be like Annie Oakley right now: Little Sure Shot.

I want to be clear about what I need to do for each audition, doing as much research beforehand, and going in with material that shows what I can do in the best way possible.

I feel like I'm there. I'm discovering that when I go in and just do my job, I am free from all the head-trips and can just enjoy the process.

I had an audition yesterday, reading "cold" from the script, and I was so thankful for the classes I've taken on cold-reading. It really is a skill. And each skill requires practice. The more we practice something, the more we can get out of our own way and let our artistry flow.

Ready... aim... fire!

And ironically, I got some amazing feedback from the casting director about my reading, which was unexpected, but wonderfully welcome.

I'd like to tip my hat and say, "Just doing my job, ma'am. Just doing my job." ;)

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Work in Progress

My brother, the drummer, recently told me about the "unfinished artists" he was studying in Art History class. Apparently some painters would purposely leave pieces of their canvas exposed.

Georges Braque kept "parts of his canvases purposely unpainted... as a textural effect adding to the artistic composition as a whole."

This makes me think of acting, how my work as an actor is a work in progress. I strive to do the best I can always, and as I look back on my career, I see good growth. But I often would like to do something... "more."

I've heard some playwrights mention that each play feels unfinished, that there is always more to tell, and perhaps that's what propels them onto the next play.

We are constantly learning and growing, choosing which "paints" we want to use on the "canvas" of our art.

Mother's Day

I love you, Mama, and celebrate you every day!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Magic Shoes

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to dive into my mother's closet. She had all these great clothes from the 70s, and it was like walking into an enchanted land whenever I ventured into her closet.

Most of her clothes were long flowery dresses, and she had these amazing shoes! My favorite pair were flashy silver sandals with a high heel. When I put my little feet into them, I felt like a combination of Cinderella and a Greek goddess. They were simply Magic Shoes!

When I hit high school, surfer shorts and high-top sneakers were more my style until senior year when I was cast as Dorothy in The Wiz. Then I became known as the "white girl with soul."

As meticulously as I listened to Stephanie Mills' riffs, I also took charge of Dorothy's magic slippers, which were interestingly enough, silver, as per L. Frank Baum's book. I spent many hours reapplying glitter after a show, so those shoes could sparkle for the next time I eased on down the road. :)

Fast forward to my birthday last month. My mom always sends me something fun from CA, and this year she sent me some shiny silvery sandals. I immediately cried, "My magic shoes!"

I wore them to an audition last week and couldn't help but feel sparkly and effervescent. :)

(Me and Mom above - here I'm wearing some fun platform shoes).

The whole thing has made me think about what makes us feel magical.

In Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, Harry tricks Ron into thinking he's taken some luck potion, and so Ron thinks he's lucky and can't lose the big Quidditch match, which he wins successfully.

Or even back to The Wizard of Oz... Glinda tells Dorothy she had the power all along to get where she wanted to go!

I feel like these magical components - magic shoes or luck potion - are simply the magical, lucky parts of ourselves. We need to embrace that every day, nurture that every day! And enjoy the ride! :)