Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Resurgence of the 60s

Is it just me or is there a resurgence of the '60s going on?

This past week, I've had 3 projects come up that are all based on people, music, and/or books from the 60s. It's really fascinating to me, and I'm wondering what it all means. Perhaps a spirit of revolution and expansion... or new beginnings... Either way, I'm enjoying it! :)

I have an audition tomorrow for a new musical based on the '60s girl group The Shaggs. Their story and their music is so fascinating. My brother, the drummer for Hippie Cream, would probably dig it because it's so raw.

As Susan Orlean wrote, "The music is winsome but raggedly discordant pop."

My favorite review, just for the humor of it, is from Rolling Stone, which said they sounded like "lobotomized Trapp Family singers." But RS later called the girl group "priceless and timeless" in 1980, and re-introduced The Shaggs to the world. In fact, 2 of the members were still rocking in 2003.

I understand why some folks saw/see them as revolutionary. Their lyrics, all songs written by Dorothy (Dot) Wiggin, are filled with '60s teen angst:

"It doesn't matter what you do, it doesn't matter what you say, there will always be one who wants things the other way."

And speaking of '60s teen angst, I'll be recording a song from The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun, a musical I performed in at the New York Musical Theatre Festival a few years ago. The show won quite a few awards, including the NYMF Award of Excellence for Outstanding Individual Performance for me. That was such an honor!

I'm thrilled to revisit this role and record one of the songs from the show, beautifully written by Andy Monroe.

And my last piece of '60s stuff comes from a book that was suggested to me. I can't divulge too much about it because it's the basis for a new play, so I don't want to trespass on the playwright's privacy. But I have to say, I'm blown away by some of the beautiful words, thoughts, and ideas that came out of the '60s.

So I'll leave you with this thought from The Beatles:

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We'd all love to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution

Well you know
We'd all love to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
Don't you know it's gonna be alright

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Time Winners

Last night, the EMMY's were filled with big stars, some of whom had received the award before like Edie Falco, one of my favorite actresses, who had won years before for her portrayal of Carmela Soprano. I was thrilled that she was recognized for the excellent work she's been doing on Nurse Jackie. She is such a great actress to learn from just watching!

And The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won for the seventh year in a row! Way to go!

But the thing that really warms my spirit are first time winners like David Strathairn for his sensitive portrayal of Professor Carlock in HBO's movie Temple Grandin.

He plays a science teacher who recognizes a young woman's keen insights into math and science despite her autism, and he mentors her along the way.

As I've said before, a great teacher can make all the difference in helping a person overcome the odds.

Strathairn has always been an incredible character actor, easily disappearing into roles from villians to heroes. I believe he's most well known for his portrayal of Edward R. Morrow in Good Night, and Good Luck.

HBO's movie about Temple Grandin also received awards for Best Made for TV movie, Best Direction of a movie/miniseries, Best Actress (Claire Danes) and Best Supporting Actress (Julia Ormond, another first time Emmy Winner, whom I've always loved on the big screen). I saw this show in the winter and was absolutely bowled over by this terrific production about the real-life Temple Grandin and how she came up with a more humane treatment of animals and livestock. It's a must-see!

Congrats to both Temple Grandin and Claire Danes and all the EMMY winners! :)

And I have to give a nod to one of my favorite comic actresses: Jane Lynch for playing the acid-tongued Sue Sylvester on Glee.

I've enjoyed Jane's work since I first caught her on Christopher Guest's Best in Show, and her turn as an "adult entertainer" turned folk singer in A Mighty Wind is a must-see! She's also wonderfully moving as Julia Childs' sister, Dorothy, in Julie and Julia.

Congrats again to all the winners and nominees. Great work, everyone!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Sookie Stackhouse series

I must confess... I'm a True Blood fan.

My friend, Lisa, first tipped me off to the "Dead" books by Charlaine Harris a few years ago. I loved the notion of a telepathic waitress in Louisiana, surrounded by vampires who were "out" in society. They're delicious books, and I heartily recommend them!

I had already read most of the Sookie Stackhouse books by 2008  when I started to see True Blood posters all around Manhattan.

At first I thought some savvy drink company had bought the rights to TruBlood, Ms. Harris' marvelous concept drink in the book. But then when I found out HBO was making the books into a series, I was delighted!

Like any fan of the novels, I was particularly protective of my vision of the characters, but once I let go of that and just had fun with Alan Ball's concept of the story, I really enjoyed the show.

This season has got to be my favorite!

The mounting sexual tension between Bill, Sookie and Eric (played with great passion by Stephen Moyer, Anna Paquin, and Alexander Skarsgard) is a yummy triangle.

 And I love characters like Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), who is unique to the TV show and is not found anywhere in the books.

Her love story with Hoyt (Jim Parrack) is so Romeo and Juliet. Just lovely!

All the characters are a treat!

Pam (Kristin Bauer) and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) are my favorite "wild cards."

Pam's character in particular is wonderfully close to the book, and I love her dry wit: "Blah, blah, vampire emergency, blah!"

And my favorite actor this season has got to be Denis O'Hare as the ego-maniacal vampire King, Russell Edgington.

A versatile theatre actor, this man knows just how far to push the envelope with this psychotic villain. I love his work, and I can't wait to see what he does next!

The whole show is a great big summer beach ball of fun! :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The School of Funny Business

I recently took a TV episodic audition class, which focused on auditions for dramatic and comedic series. It was a cool class, and I learned a lot!

One of my favorite homework assignments has been to watch old sitcoms from the 70s and 80s.

I'd already done a little of that for a show I did Off Broadway called Johnny On A Spot.

My character, Barbara, was a southern girl with lots of sass, so I watched Designing Women, particularly focusing on Suzanne Sugarbaker, brilliantly played by Delta Burke.

This week,  I've been watching stuff like Maude, and wow! I am blown away by how well the show has held up after all these years.  But then, watching a master, or should I say, Mistress of Comedy like Bea Arthur is like taking a master class in comedy anyway! Bea's comic timing was impeccable. I mean, she could say so much with simply a "look" or a shift of her body to get the audience to laugh.

In an interview, she said that "comedy was simply being VERY serious."

And Betty White's work has often been called "funny based on truth."

I think that's what makes the best comedians, or comic actors, "the best." They are so incredibly open and fearless about "going there," going towards the utmost of an emotion or situation, and PLAYING!

I love this stuff! Looking forward to putting it to practice! :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Today's Audition and Manhattan Marvels

Today's audition is brought to you by...The York Theatre Company. This groovy little theatre is known as "the birthplace for new intimate musicals and a place where underappreciated musical gems from the past" can be rediscovered. I'm going in today to audition for their Fall Season.

On the way to and from the theatre, I passed this gorgeous manmade waterfall by the subway, and I just had to take a picture!

The sound of the water was luscious and it was such a pleasant discovery!

That's one of the things I love about Manhattan. Even amidst the skyscrapers, you can still find trees and a waterfall. :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer Reading

This summer has been like a mini play fest for me. As I've prepped for auditions, I've had this voracious appetite for plays, new and old, and I've thoroughly been enjoying each and every one of them!

There have been so many yummy new plays published, and if I couldn't find them at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts...

I'd go to The Drama Book Shop on 250 West 40th Street.

These are two of my favorite places in Manhattan anyway. Both hold a treasure trove of info, and everyone is so helpful!

The library is especially wonderful for having a great musical catalogue. You can find almost any sheet music you need for musical auditions.

There have been some really cool dramatic auditions coming up, and I've been on the lookout for 2 new plays: Indoor /Outdoor by Kenny Finkle and In the Next Room by Sarah Ruhl. I ordered Indoor/Outdoor from The Drama Book Shop and they thanked me for alerting them to it since regional auditions were coming up for the play, and they wanted to have it in stock. I'd done my research and knew the auditions were coming up - hence, my desire to read the play. And it was such a treat! Wonderful play about a cat who is raised indoors and wants to go explore the outside world. Really lovely play!

Now I'm off to the gym, and I'll be bringing along In The Next Room with me.

Always an adventure!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Embracing Curves

Today is my first audition back from vacation, and I'm feeling a little curvy. Usually, this might be cause for alarm, but as I dressed today, I found myself leaning toward's Joan Holloway's (from AMC's Mad Men) school of fashion.

I am so thankful for actresses like Christina Hendricks who prove that curvy girls can rock on TV... or anywhere for that matter! :)

Saturday, August 07, 2010


It's been the most wonderful week of sand and surf, beach and bliss while on vacation with my husband in Rehoboth. Each moment has been such a joy, and it's been a thrill to include my artistic work in such a buoyant atmosphere.
I had packed a few plays to read while on vacation, and when we'd hit the beach, I'd bring along a script to focus on while relaxing in the sand.

The sound of the waves, the call of the seagulls, the cool salty breeze... there's something so rejuvenating about the sea! It encourages a sense of openness and expansion, and it was lovely to approach my acting work from that place.

The sea air, the pull of the tide, being on the beach and in the water with my husband and friends... the days filled with laughter and love... Pure bliss!

As this vacation comes to a close, my husband bought me this gift: A Survival Guide for Land-Locked Mermaids.

I've always had an affinity for mermaids, and when we saw the book in a local store, it was too fitting!

Beautifully crafted with gorgeous illustrations, this charming book speaks so keenly to my inner siren:

"There is a splendor in being true to yourself... If you hide your authentic self from the rest of the world, a unique life will pass you by... So head up, chest out, tail fanned... Dare to bare your heart and and soul... and be true to yourself." - Margot Datz