Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: A Great Year of Gigs!

It's been a really great year. I went from auditioning steadily to performing steadily. And I got to work in all these great spaces like the Jerry Orbach Theatre at the Snapple Center, The Mint Theater, the June Havoc Theatre at Abingdon, the gorgeous theatre at 80 St. Marks, and the Midtown Theatre at HA Comedy Club. I also performed in staged readings and mini concerts at Ripley Grier and Pearl Studios. And I wrote a sketch for and performed at The People's Improv Theatre.  

These are all places where I've auditioned for gigs since my arrival in NY, so it was an accomplishment to be hired to perform in these theatres, to completely claim the space and fill it with such wonderful characters.

And the characters! Wow! I feel so fortunate to have played Judy Garland and Janis Joplin in "Hell's Bells," a Bette Midler impersonator in "Maybe This Time," the patient, upbeat wife in "Steve Cohen and the Sweet Spot," and a punk rock mom in the musical, "How to Marry a Divorced Man."

I also had the pleasure of revisiting "The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun" in Andy Monroe's birthday concert for The Trevor Project, and got to sing one of his other songs from "Garbo Talks."

I had 2 films come out this year. One was a short I made a few years ago, playing a New York laundress in "Laundry." It was shown in various "Women in Film" festivals throughout New York, thanks to director Julia Suo.

I also played Marty's Dream Mom in Hippie Cream's independent feature film musical, "Marty's Magnificent Day-Glo Dreamathon."

Thank you to all the great directors, writers, casting directors and producers for inviting me on these wonderfully wild and creatively fulfilling rides!

In the midst of it all, I've shared great adventures with my husband and partner of countless years, Rob. We went to Vegas last year for his job and are looking forward to visiting again this year.

I have also learned a lot from my support job in the business world. It's funny because my Committed Impulse teacher, Josh Pais, had recommended a few years ago to treat each job we do as if preparing for a role, to be completely present in each circumstance. My brother, who's a drummer for Hippie Cream, has also recommended this. And you know what's happened? I've found I'm able to apply the business skills I'm learning from my day job into my acting gigs, and I'm able to apply my acting skills to my business gig. I'll even be teaching improv and role-play workshops there in 2012!

It's really fascinating how opportunities present themselves when we're open to them.

So what have I learned this year? A sense of focus and trust, of being driven and putting my foot on the gas coupled with being open and letting go.

It's a wild ride, this life, and I can't wait to see what's around the next corner!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tale of a Tribute Artist: "Maybe This Time"

I've been so busy! I haven't had a chance to write about the staged reading of the screenplay for "Maybe This Time." It was a few weeks ago, and it was such a blast!

Written by Marco Kujovic and Richard DeFonzo, it's a lovely romantic comedy about a Liza Minnelli impersonator and his quest to find true love.

I was going to say this was my first show working with a tribute artist, but looking at the shows I've done, that's not entirely true!

In The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun, I played Jeanine, the Singing Nun, and the story was told by Sister Coco, a drag queen nun. As wild as that sounds, Sister Coco was a great fictitious voice to shed light on the Singing Nun's true story.

In Hell's Belles, I worked with 2 ladies who were marvelous impersonators of everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Ma Barker with shades of Ethel Merman. :) It was my incredible pleasure to take on Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, and a host of other iconic women.

For "Maybe This Time," I played a Bette Midler impersonator and the best friend of the lead character.

We didn't wear any costumes for the reading, but it was incredible to watch the men transform with their voices and bodies, "becoming" Liza, Cher, Joan Rivers. And I felt the same way as Bette.What a blast to play such a larger than life lady!

It was such a privilege to work with such talented folks!

Ooh! I must amend the costume comment! There was one costume piece that Richard brought: a white hat he wears when he plays Liza in his solo show. In the screenplay, there's a moment in the movie where the lead character goes to great pains to prepare for his entrance onstage as Liza, and the final moment is donning that fabulous white hat.

When Richard put that hat on.... I got chills.

It was magnificent, and I wish these gentlemen the very best as they work to get their film made. It was a pleasure to be part of the process of having it seen and heard.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Next Up: Playing Bette

Tomorrow, Dec. 5th, I'm playing a Bette Midler impersonator in the staged reading of the independent feature film, "Maybe This Time."

It's a delicious romantic comedy about a Liza Minnelli impersonator named Robert who's looking for love "in all the wrong places."

The film chronicles his adventures in and out of love, and I play his best friend, Mona, who's also a bit of a matchmaker. I have some really fun scenes, and am having a blast with the cast.

The reading is Dec. 5 at 7 PM at Ripley Grier Studio "L" on 520 Eighth Ave.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Tickled Pink

I recently played a punk rock mom in the staged reading of the new musical, "How To Marry a Divorced Man," and I have to tell you, Pink is my new favorite color.

When you're doing a reading, it's often a bare bones production. No set. The actors read from the script for an audience of industry people. And costuming is incredibly minimal.

But for Glenda, the character I played in "How To..." the writers said, "Go for it!"

For the first reading, I sprayed pieces of my hair pink, pulled out my black leather motor cycle jacket and chained belt that I had first bought when I moved to New York, put on some hot red pumps, and went to town!

For this second reading at the Mint Theatre, I decided to go even  further. Since I had more time, I was able to explore what kind of punk rocker Glenda would be. I had recently read about Mara Rooney's transformation into Lisbeth Salander for David Fincher's upcoming film of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and it was helpful to hear about the process.

Lisbeth is an incredibly edgy punk, so costume designer, Trish Summerville focused on her dark porcupine aspect. As David Fincher said, Lisbeth is not a "look at me" kind of punk, which that made realize that Glenda (for "How To....") IS, so I went even more colorful with her.

I put my hair up into a faux Mohawk, sprayed it pink, pulled out a red plaid skirt and piled on the spangles and bangles. I felt like a peacock, which was perfect for Glenda!

I also let loose with her vocally, finding more of a raspy speaking voice coupled with a rockin screech for her song when she tries to make a comeback in a punk rock club.

Interestingly enough, I also got to sing this delicious love ballad in the first act, which you wouldn't think would come out of this rough-n-tumble character, but I love that the writers took her there, to a deeper place of lost love. It was a great moment.

The reading seemed to go well. It's fun to be part of a show in its early stages, rolling with the script changes and finding more nuances every time it's done.

I had a blast! And I'm looking forward to the next colorful character I'll be pulling out of myself and my closet. ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rehearsal, Rehearsal, Rehearsal and Part 2 of "How To Marry a Divorced Man"

It's been a really busy time with lots of rehearsals and performing in a new gig every other week or so.

I feel fortunate to have been working consistently since August. It's a rarity in NY, and I'm jazzed and thankful to have reached that level of consistency.

Today I perform in the staged reading of  the pop rock musical "How to Marry a Divorced Man" at the Mint Theatre. Presented by The Show Goes On and Tweiss Productions, it's a modern musical about a woman looking for love. Composed by Clare Cooper, who worked on Memphis and The Toxic Avenger, the music is so fun to sing, and it stays with you. It's hard to get Clare's songs out of my head! :)

Christine Marie Heath and me

Based on the book by Leslie Fram, adapted by Bryan D. Leys, I play the ex-wife of the title character, and she's a hoot. Her name's Glenda, and she's an ex-punk rocker who gave up her career to be a wife and mother, and now she's trying to revive it. My 2nd act number, "Work" is a "punk ballad" which is more like a rollercoaster ride. Love love LOVE it!

The show today is an industry reading, but if you're interested it's at 4:30 at The Mint Theatre Company 311 West 43rd on the 3rd floor. Here's the link to RSVP:!__homepage/rock-musical-reading-series

Rock n roll!!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Maybe This Time

I start rehearsals this week for a staged reading of new play called, Maybe This Time. It's a romantic comedy about a Liza Minnelli impersonator on a quest to find true love. I play his best friend, Mona, who's a Bette Midler impersonator, and she is full of sass - just like the real Miss M!

One of the favorite pix of Bette

I'm so excited to take on the role! Ever since I got the job, I've been watching YouTube clips of the Divine Miss M's work, and now I'm gonna gauge her on the big screen. I've downloaded a bunch of her movies on Netflix, and I'll catch the HBO presentation again of her fabulous show, "The Showgirl Must Go On."

I'd love to see her live! My friend, Michael, and I often talk about going to Vegas to see her, because she puts on an incredible show!

In the meantime, thank goodness for technology! It definitely makes my homework of watching her work much easier. :)

So while I get Miss M's vocal and physical charms down, I'm also working on the script which is really fun! A lot of humor and heart, and the characters are so well drawn.

I'm looking forward to meeting the rest of the cast. It should be a blast!

The staged reading of Maybe This Time will be held Dec. 5th at 7 PM at a TBD theatre in midtown. Details to come!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Next Adventure

I had such a great time, performing in the musical, "Hell's Belles" at the Abingdon Theatre this past weekend. What a great space!

Since our show was a one night benefit, we performed on a set that was built for another show, and it definitely increased my admiration for set designers, because this set was built with levels of all depths and heights, and completely added an extra sense of dimension. It felt like a whole new show!

When I moved from a 3 foot tall platform on one side of the stage to a 5 foot tall platform on the other side of the stage, I felt like I was "flying" as Judy Garland, which was appropriate since she's supposed to be visiting from Heaven. :)

It was so fun!

Now, I'm going into rehearsals for the staged reading of "Maybe This Time," a play about a Liza Minnelli impersonator who's looking for love. I play his best friend and Bette Midler impersonator, so I definitely have my homework cut out for me, but what great homework!

I feel so honored to play these larger than life ladies. They're so inspiring! And I feel like they're saying, "Come on out and play!"

I really get to let loose, and yet I feel more grounded in my work than ever, because I'm constantly working, utilizing my acting and singing skills, honing my craft.

It's so incredibly cool, and I'm thoroughly enjoying this time of my life.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Hell's Belles at the Abingdon Theatre Sunday Nov. 13 at 7 PM

I'm so excited to be performing at the Abingdon Theatre this Sunday night, Nov. 13th, at 7 PM.

I'm a big fan of the theatre company and have auditioned for quite a few shows there, so it's a dream come true to be doing the musical Hell's Belles there as part of their Sunday Series.

Hell's Belles is a musical about a nightclub in hell where famous women from history and pop culture perform. I have the honor of playing Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Lady Godiva, Salome, Guenevere, Joan Crawford, and Alice. B Toklas.

I'm joined onstage by a tremendously talented cast: Omri Schein as Lester, the master of ceremonies; the awesome Oakley Boycott as Marilyn Monroe, Evita, Calamity Jane, Princess Di, and a pop star ala Lady Gaga; and the hilarious Kristen Menglekoch as Eleanor Roosevelt, Ma Barker, Eva Braun, Bette Davis, Gertrude Stein, and Lizzie Borden.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through the Abingdon website:

It's gonna be a fun night! Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Adventures in The Room

I recently saw a post on an actorsite about auditioning, called Adventures in the Room, and I love the notion of treating an audition like an adventure! Why not? It's far more fun that way!

Actually I've been so busy with gigs for the past few months that I haven't had time to attend an open audition for anything since August. All of my work has been coming from folks I've worked with in the past, and that's such a great feeling.

This week I go into rehearsals to revisit the musical, "Hell's Belles," performing next Sunday Nov. 13th at the Abingdon Theatre at 7 PM, and later this month I get to punk out again for "How To Marry a Divorced Man," a staged reading at The Mint Theatre Nov. 29th. Both of these shows are fun playgrounds, filled with wonderfully diverse characters.

(as Glenda in "How to Marry...")

It's funny how small the theatre world is - even in New York, which brings me to last week's theatrical adventure:

I was requested to audition for a new play called "Maybe This Time," playing a Bette Midler-type: the brassy, fun, big-hearted best friend of the male lead, a Liza Minelli impersonator.

I love playing these larger than life ladies!

When I arrived at the audition, I was the only woman there. All of the other characters are men, so there were a lot of fellas! ;) And one I had met before at the reading of "How To Marry a Divorced Man." He's a friend of the author and had approached me afterward to compliment me on my work. It was cool to see him at this audition.

And the other guys in line were just as lovely. I ended up chatting with a young man who's studying character work with Charles Busch, and I love that! I'm a big fan of Mr. Busch's work, and so it was cool to talk with one of his students.

We talked about "going to the source," reviewing actors before us who've paved the way, especially in comedy. And it's not just parodying these performers, it's finding your own way through the foundation they've set.

That made me think of Billy Crystal and Steve Martin, two of my faves, who talk about learning other comedians' routines when they were little kids, so they could repeat it word for word, getting the rhythm of it all. And of course this informed their work as adults.

I feel like I'm getting the chance to study with the greats, learning from Judy Garland and Janis Joplin and all the iconic women for for "Hell's Belles..."

...studying Deborah Harry and other punk rock ladies for "How To Marry a Divorced Man," and now, getting to play a Bette Midler impersonator for "Maybe This Time."

Yup, I got the job! ;)

And of course, I'm onto the next Adventure! ;)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I've always loved Halloween. It's one of my favorite holidays.

You can be anything! A princess, a witch, a black cat, a gypsy!

Growing up in the 'burbs of Southern CA, trick or treating was always a funfest. My parents took me out when I was little and always accompanied my brother and me and our friends when we went out.

There's something so magical about this night. There's excitement in the air! Makes me want to fly!

My husband and I have always enjoyed Halloween. We were often performing on this night in the Edgar Allan Poe festival at Mount Hope Theatre. And when we moved to NY, we'd still dress up.

He's my favorite matey. ;)

As I get older, I still feel like a big kid on this holiday. The air is full of magic and there's a sense of great potential, that crisp Fall feel of transformation. The year hasn't wound down yet. In fact, there's a great sense of celebration.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Performing tonight at Theater 80 St. Marks Place

I'm really excited to be performing tonight at the historic Theater 80 St. Marks Place.

This East Village theatre was once a speakeasy. Then it became an Off Broadway theatre in the 60s. "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" premiered there. It was turned into a movie theatre for a while, then it was the residence of The Pearl Theatre Company.

Now, it's hosting HOWLfest, a major arts project, which is where "Steve Cohen and the Sweet Spot" comes in.

It's a new one act play by Michael Small, and it's a very fun ride! I'm the only woman in this all-male cast, and I play the lead character's wife as well as his friends and neighbors and therapist. It's a lot of fun!

The show starts at 7 PM and Tickets at $10. Proceeds go to the Actors Fund.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coming Up: a staged reading of the new comedy, "Steve Cohen and The Sweet Spot"

I've been so fortunate to be working steadily as an actress this summer and now into the Fall. Every week seems to hold a new adventure, and best yet, I'm getting paid for every gig! Woo hoo!

Last week's staged reading of the new pop musical, "How To Marry a Divorced Man" went very well. We received great feedback, and there are plans to do the reading again for pop-rock festival in November.

This week, I'm in rehearsals for a staged reading of the new play by Michael Small called "Steve Cohen and The Sweet Spot." It's a really fun piece about one man's quest to find the perfect stereo speakers. I play the lead character's wife and all the other women in his life. I'm actually the only woman in the piece, and it's neat to be surrounded by such fascinating men!

Chris Harbur plays the lead character, my husband; Zak Risinger is the titular Steve Cohen, and Jeremy Ellison-Gladstone, whom I worked with in Michael Small's other play, Got You, plays everyone else! :)

(Jeremy Ellison-Gladstone and I in Got You)

Stephen Nachamie is directing us, and we're having such fun! Did I mention it's a comedy? ;)

The playwright, Michael Small, tends to write big comedies that have a message tucked into the midst of the humor, and this piece has a particular poignancy. I'm so thankful to have met Michael a few years ago when I auditioned for his play, Kaboom, which we then performed at Cherry Lane. This is our third collaboration, and it's such a delight to bring his characters to life! :)

Steve Cohen and The Sweet Spot performs Wednesday Oct. 26 at 7 PM at Theatre 80 St. Marks

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Leading Musical Mondays 2011-2012 Season with "How to Marry a Divorced Man" - Thursday at 6:30

It might sound a bit comical, performing in a theatre lab called "Musical Mondays" on a Thursday, but anyone who's mounting a new musical knows that you work on whatever day and time you can!

I've long heard of Musical Mondays, and I'm incredibly thrilled to be performing in the staged reading of the new pop musical "How To Marry a Divorced Man," which leads their 2011-2012 season.

We perform at 6:30 tomorrow, and I'm really excited to be performing in the Jerry Orbach Theater at the Snapple Theater Center across from "Wicked."

It's been a real treat to be a part of a show as it grows. I performed in the table read of "How To Marry a Divorced Man" last year and had a blast with the talented cast and crew.

My character of Glenda is an ex-punk-rocker who gave it all up to be a mom. I play the "ex" of the titular Divorced Man, played by Richard Binder. Babs Winn (top left) plays a fabulous soap opera actress, who is also the mom of the lead character, and she doubles as my daughter! Christine Marie Heath,who starred as Evita in the international and national tours (above center) plays our leading lady, Layla Diamond. Michael Kirk Lane rounds out the cast as various key people, including my son and a romantic possibility for Layla and Glenda.

(L-to-R: me, Babs Winn, Christine Marie Heath, Richard Binder, Michael Kirk Lane)

It's fun stuff and such a thrill to work with these talented people.

Eric James is our music director and absolutely ROCKS!

Clare Cooper, who also worked on Toxic Avenger, wrote the groovy tunes, and they're so wonderfully "sticky," meaning you can't get them out of your head!

It's delicious to be part of something that has such a contemporary R&B feel. And the script, adapted by Bryan D. Leys, based on Leslie Fram's novel, is great fun.

We rehearse tonight and then perform the staged reading (kind of like a concert version of the show where the actors hold scripts) at 6:30 PM tomorrow.

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Honor of the Lady Lorraine Sussex

This weekend I was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Lorraine Sullo, known to thousands at the PA Renaissance Faire as The Duchess of Sussex, or simply "Sussex," to those who dared be "familiar" with her.

I first met Lorraine over 20 years ago when I was cast in the professional Shakespearean troupe for the Faire. Behind the scenes she was the Art Director for the Faire and was responsible for every visual tool used to promote the Faire, inside and out. She also designed some of the costumes and always had a stunning gown to wear every year. She was the Queen's "right hand," and never ceased to amuse with her wickedly razor-sharp wit. She was also a phenomenal archer.

I first met her as a peasant rogue, which I think she liked. Maybe it was because I would grovel at her feet or do some of her sly errands.

The next year, I became part of the Queen's Court as the historical Lady Penelope Devereaux, and I'm sure I gave Sussex a run for her money, because she didn't know what to do with me! I was also a fae-touched grave digger named Ophelia, and ended my run at the Faire as the inn keeper, Frida Synne. I also played Queen Elizabeth for a corporate event, and Lorraine attended upon me, always in character as the quintessential Queen's lady.

We shared so many laughs - on and off the fairgrounds - and she was a dear friend of my husband, Rob, and myself.

(Lorraine and Robbie as Sussex and Cardinal Synne)

She was one of a kind, and definitely had a hand in shaping my world in those early days.

I can't believe she's gone. She seemed like such a constant, but her passing has taught me you can't take life for granted, that you must live each day to the fullest and share it with those you love.

The knights at the Faire said, "She died with her boots on," because she had had a wonderful day performing and then went home, passing away in her sleep. I hope her spirit is at peace and knows how much we all loved her.

Farewell, my friend.