Saturday, December 31, 2016

Your Badass Self

I've been reminded twice this December to bring out my Badass self. 

For my husband's birthday, some friends and I went in on The Bad-Ass Bitches Museum Tour at The Met, designed by the folks at Museum Hack.

My husband had gone on a corporate tour and raved about how much he wanted to go with our friends, so we made it happen! I even designed the poster (above).

It was a BLAST! Our tour guides were two fabulously funny women who were passionate about art, Lily and Bex:

The tour focused on female artists. One of my new favorites is Rosa Bonheur, who's the portrait in the above left pic with Lily. She painted herself into her masterpiece, The Horse Fair (below). She's the "lad" in blue with the cap (center), facing the audience. She petitioned for and won a permit in 19th century Paris to wear pants since it was against the law for women to be in anything but dresses.

I also was riveted by Artemisia Gentileschi's paintings. She had been raped, and in her work she showed women like Judith, taking back their power:

She turned a tragedy into a triumph.

So what do I want to take into the New Year?

As Bonnie Gillespie tweeted, 

"There's a future version of me out there who’s a badass at this. I don’t get to meet her if I stop showing up.”

For me, that means keeping strong with acting classes and practicing on-camera work. I also want to write. I see so much of this world cinematically, and I have stories to tell.

Matt Newton gave us homework to write a scene this summer, and he liked my piece so much, he said I should send it to ABC/NBC's diversity contest next year. Well, that's tomorrow, so here I go! 

Last night, I worked on my business plan from Bonnie's free program called "Get In Gear for the New Year. The program is AWESOME! Seriously, every actor should check it out because it will change your life! The homework cultivates a sense of self-awareness and community, as you're sharing your tools and knowledge with other actors in #SMFANinjas.
So I've got daily tasks to do to help me create momentum.

My badass self is strong, fearlessly funny and focused, so it's time to bring that to the table.

Hope you all have a kickass New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2016


I was already thinking about this year in review when Bonnie Gillespie inspired me with the idea of "firsts."

This year, I booked my first role in an independent feature film. I played a Suze Orman-type motivational speaker in 39 and a half.

The director, Kara Herold, asked if I could improvise mid-way through, so I started playing with the audience, asking them questions about what motivated them and then riffing off of their answers. Kara said, "I think we have type-casting here!"

I got my first tweet as the "facebook celebrity" of the day by PPI Recording Studio. I've been fortunate to do a lot of delicious recordings there for new musicals.

This year was my first exposure to the musical, "Do Re Mi," which ran on Broadway in 1960. I played Kay in the Off Broadway revival by Musicals Tonight, and re-teamed with my Sasquatched director Donald Brenner and co-star Patrick John Moran.

Marc Miller of NY Theatre Guide wrote, "One doubts even the great (Nancy) Walker, for whom the part was written, could have done much better... (Laura) Daniel, expertly mixing the affection and skepticism in Kay also has a huge Act Two Number, 'Adventure.' She belts it out of the park!"

I was photographed at the New Filmmakers Festival. Even though I won the Craft Award for Sincerely Yours and had been to a film fest for Laundry, it was my first time being photographed, which was fun! 

                                                        At the screening of  "Tick Tock."

I played my first few "ladies of indeterminate age" or strange wise women. One was a Minnesotan cat lady in Pageant Princess the Musical. And the other was the narrator in Joe Gulla's play, "Sleeping with the Fish."

It's also the first year I became politically active. I never knew I had it in me, but there have been such disturbing events this year, we have to take a stand and help each other out. 

Here's hoping 2017 allows us all to bloom and grow beautifully. As Shonda Rhimes said, it can be the "Year of YES!

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Superhero Within

I remember when I first saw the Supergirl poster on a skyscraper, looming over 8th Avenue...

I was impressed.

How could you not be? Especially when she's 20 feet tall on the side of a skyscraper!

And every time I'd audition at Ripley Grier, I'd look up at her when I came out of the building, and I'd feel a little boost of Girl Power! :)

When I noticed myself slouching one day, I saw her poster on a phone booth on 59th street, and I found myself standing taller, emulating her strength, and it was amazing how strong I felt. It was like I was transformed! Like Kara ready to toss off her glasses and fly, baby, fly!

I dare you to do it! Throw your chest out, your shoulders back, and see how it makes you feel.

Good, right?

In these tumultuous times, we need to call on our inner strength, on our innate goodness, on The Superhero Within.

Stand up to bullies, protect people, speak out against injustice. Lead with love. Open your hearts and minds, and see how important it is to have each other's backs.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." And like they say in Hamilton - boom! - we gotta get em "to include women in the sequel! Work!"

Good luck out there!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Girls Who Wear Glasses

I've noticed a trend in some of the characters I've been playing lately. They tend to be bespectacled!

Most recently I played Clarabelle, the eccentric cat lady who judges Pageant Princess:

There's The Singing Nun, and though her life was Tragic and Horrible, as per the musical, I'm eternally grateful to the writers and producers for giving me the chance to play her.

I was blessed with a NYMF award for that performance. As you can see, I was in good company!

In two productions (NY and Michigan), I played Rita from Lucky Stiff, a mob mistress who refuses to wear her glasses and thusly mistakes a dead man for her lover. I'd only wear these goggles while going undercover as a maid in a high-end hotel:

And as Janis Joplin in Hell's Belles, I got to view the world through rose-colored glasses:

This makes me think of one of my favorite movies, "How to Marry a Millionaire." Marilyn Monroe plays a "dumb blonde" who bumps into furniture and goes off with the "wrong" man because she refuses to wear her glasses. David Wayne calls her out on this, and encouraged her to wear her glasses.

Once she sees that he sees her completely and accepts her with her glasses, she leans back in this moment of pure satisfaction.

She literally can SEE, and everything opens up in her world!

I can't wait to see what happens next! ;)

Monday, October 03, 2016

Busy as a Bee!

I've always loved bees. When I was a kid I was fascinated by them! I'd sit in the clover of my backyard and watch them buzz about me.

As these sweet fuzzy insects make their way to the endangered species list, I feel very protective of them. Whenever I see them "in the wild," in the park or in friends' and family's gardens, I celebrate their flight from flower to flower.

So when I say I've been as busy as a bee, you know I have!

I had a blast playing Clarabelle, the crazy cat lady in Pageant Princess the Musical. We made it to semi-finals in the New York New Works Theatre Fest, and some producers seemed interested, which is encouraging.

I love this cast and crew! They are a pleasure to sing with! :)

I also attended a screening of the short film, Tick Tock, which I worked on in 2015.

The film was part of the New Filmmakers NY Festival at Anthology Film Archives, which is a GREAT space. It was thrilling to see our film on the big screen.

And I recorded some new songs with the super talented Charles Osborne.

It was fun to go back to PPI Recording Studios and lay down some tracks!

Now I'm off to the next flower! ;) Bzzzzzz!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When I Met Gene Wilder

I was so sad to hear about Gene Wilder's passing. He had a big impact on me as a kid, and I was so honored to meet him as an adult.

While other girls lusted after Tom Cruise, I had a major crush on Gene Wilder. His acting and his movies represented the height of humor and passion to me. My parents practically raised me on Mel Brooks' movies, so I learned all about Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein ("It's pronounced, 'Frahnkensteen.'") But some of my favorite Gene Wilder movies were the ones he wrote and directed like "The World's Greatest Lover," in which Wilder played an actor named Ruddy Valentine who's hoping to impress his wife, the young Carol Kane (LOVE her in "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), into believing he can be the next Valentino:

"I am unique!!!"

And Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother ("That's SHEER LUCK!"):

I also loved "The Woman in Red" where he worked with his wife (and one of my comedy idols) Gilda Radner:

So when I met Gene Wilder a few years ago, it was magical! I was at an audition at Chelsea Studios, and I'd heard he was there, rehearsing a play. I saw him in the halls, followed about by a troupe of young men. His cast, I presume. But I didn't want to bother him, so I focused on my work, and when it was time, I got into line to go into the audition. I had set my music book down by the wall, and bent to retrieve it. When I stood up, there I was: face to face with Gene Wilder.

He smiled at me like he recognized me, which seemed impossible, and he said, "Well, hello!"

I smiled back, and said, "Hello!"

Then he was jostled off by his troupe.

I wish I could have said more.

I would've thanked him for all his great work, for inspiring me and countless others to bring their heart and humor to the table. I would've told him that he set the bar - HIGH - for any man who came into my life: Not only would they have to be passionate, they would have to be FUNNY.

I love a man who makes me laugh, and I am so fortunate to have found that in my husband, Rob.

So thank you, Gene Wilder. As Goldie Hawn wrote, "You are free to grace the heavens with your light that lifted us all."

Thank you.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pageant Princess the Musical

A few weeks ago, I saw a post for an audition about a new musical that looked hysterical! "What if Christopher Guest's classic Waiting for Guffman and the reality TV show Toddlers and Tiaras had a musical love child in Texas? Pageant Princess the Musical, that's what!"

Unfortunately, the audition slots were all taken, but the creative team wrote back to me and asked if I could come anyway, because they'd love to try to fit me in. Well, they sure did, and we had a blast! I made it through all the callbacks and got the gig!

Fast forward to this week and last week where we've been in rehearsals for the truncated version of the show. Each musical has to be cut to 23 minutes to fit into New York New Works Theatre Festival, which is hosting 49 mini musicals in 9 days.

We perform Wed. Aug, 31st at 7 PM at The Elektra Theatre, where I last played Judy Garland and Janis Joplin, and Lady Godiva in Hell's Belles

This time I'm Miss Clarabelle, the judge of the pageant:

My brother says I look like our great-aunt Gladys, who was quite a lady, so I'm going to take that as a compliment. :)

Tickets are $23, and the address is 300 W. 43rd Street on the 2nd floor.

The show has some improv elements, so if anyone wants to enroll as a prince or princess, we'll be taking submissions at the door. I can't wait to see your glamour and glitz!

See ya at the Pageant!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dick Cavett's Watergate

Last night I caught "Dick Cavett's Watergate" on PBS, and it was fascinating!

I knew Cavett from my research on Janis Joplin. They had lovely interviews together - very charming and funny! - which I used as reference when I played her in Hell's Belles the Musical.

I also got to meet Dick Cavett when I sang for The Abingdon Theatre Company's annual gala a few years ago. He hosted the gala, which was in honor of actress Frances Sternhagen, and the two were very cute, clowning around:

Being in that same room with him, Frances, Cherry Jones, Nancy Opel... and getting to sing the opening song, "Swingin On a Star" as a solo... well, it was a magical night!

So coming back to last night, watching Dick Cavett dig into the Watergate scandal, it felt so important to understand this piece of history, especially as we navigate these tumultuous times.

Be tenacious in your quest for the truth.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Love and Pride

This is Pride Week, and I will be performing in a reading of Joe Gulla's play, "Sleeping With The Fish" at the LGBT Community Center on Wed. June 22 at 8 PM. It's a charming play about 2 mobsters in love. Directed by Brian Rardin, I play an observer of the tale (pun intended). :)

With everything that's happened in Orlando, it's important to bring gay characters' stories to life, and I have been fortunate to do that over the years.

I was honored to play Jeanine, The Singing Nun in the NYMF production of "The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun," composed by Obie winner Andy Monroe based on the play by Blair Fell.

She wrote the 60's hit "Dominique," and then left the convent to be with her lover, Annie Pecher (the real couple below).

They might have lived a happy life together had the Belgium government not hounded her for $63,000 of back taxes, owing to the success of "Dominique." She had taken a vow of poverty as a nun, and when she left, she had nothing. The church didn't help her, and after years of decline, she and Annie sadly took their lives in a suicide pact.

Tracey Gilbert was my Annie (on left above and below), and we "ended" with a kiss.

I wonder if their story would've changed today with support from the LGBT community.

I also recently played Darlene, a rock n roll ex-lover of the title character in Petunia's Coffee House, an improv-based lesbian love triangle with karaoke. Dar was one of my favorite creations, a no-holds-barred, live-out-loud motorocycle mama with a penchant for Melissa Ethridge, Stevie Nicks, and tequila.

She's partially based on the amazing brigade of Dykes on Bikes, whom I first saw at my first Pride Parade in NYC. They usually open the parade, many of them bare-chested, and they are AWESOME!

Hoping to visit Dar and Petunia again at a comedy club near you. ;)

Wherever you are during Pride Week, be loud and proud and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!


The shooting in Orlando still has me rattled. It was such a horrible event, and I keep thinking of  everyone marked by this tragedy.

I think of  Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, who was "the mom of Pulse," dancing there with her son and then shielding him with her body. She died protecting him.

And so many others. it's heart-breaking!

Being in the theatre, I've always had gay friends. and we've always celebrated our journeys together. I still get together with my tribe every month at one of our favorite gay clubs. It's a place where we can all be who we really are, who we are meant to be. It's a safe place.

And that's what's so unsettling. The Pulse Nightclub should have been a safe place - just like Sandy Hook Elementary school should have been safe, and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church should have been a safe space.

I didn't grow up in a world where mass shootings were happening all the time. Heck! I didn't grow up in a world where people open-carry their guns at the mall. Why would you need a gun at the mall??? 

This MUST stop. We can't allow this to continue. We must take care of each other.

The Huffington Post wrote an article about "how to help." And while the Senate has voted down measures concerning gun control, I'm not going to stop fighting to make this a better world for our friends, family and children. I hope you will too.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Balancing Act

Two messages this week:


Being an actor, I have to do both, and it's fascinating to navigate the difference.

No matter how big or how small, being truthful is the key.

I had to self-tape an audition for a film this week, and it was fun to play this big character from Brooklyn, discovering what made her feel small. The scene was very well written and allowed me to play with these variances.

As my friends say...


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Laundry and the Art of Improv

I've always loved Christopher Guest's films - A Mighty Wind is my favorite! He and his writing partner, the great Eugene Levy, supposedly write backgrounds for each of the characters and notecards for each specific scene, outlining the plot, and then leave it up to the actors to improvise the dialogue.

"When I meet actors, I talk with them and get a sense... of someone who can listen and has some kind of a spark." Christopher Guest to Charlie Rose 

The improv in his films, "as opposed to what you see in a club," is based on "more real-time behavior," and that's what I love: the heart beneath the humor. 

A few years ago, I got to improvise a short film called, "Laundry," and it was a blast. We filmed late at night in an East Village laundromat. My character, Annie, was the proprietor, and the film was completely improvised.  The director , Jules Suo, was clear on the characters and types of scenes she wanted. We the actors took it from there!

Below is a small taste of this short film, which is also on IMDB.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Playing a Despicable Character

I recently received a lovely review for playing the spoiled little rich girl, Sophie Teale, in the international recording of Jerome Kern's Roberta:

"Laura Daniel rates a bouquet for her purring, creamy-toned, absolutely despicable Sophie."

On Amazon, one reviewer wrote, "Laura Daniel deserves a special award for bitchiest bitch this side of the Bitchississippi." 

As I grow as an actor, I seem to keep playing "naughty girls." In fact, Larry Moore had seen me Off Broadway as the tempestuous Barbara Webster, in the revival of Charles MacArthur's "Johnny On a Spot," and knew he wanted me to play Sophie even then.

In Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's musical, Lucky Stiff, I've played Rita twice, and it's always interesting to wrap my head around the woman who shot her lover for cheating on her:

In the new series, TrendingI play Madeline Lich, a naughty CEO who tries to clean up her image:

Rosalie Tenseth, the director and star of Trendingrecently shared an article about the marvelous  Margot Martindale, and it really resonated with me. In the interview with The Vulture, she says, "If I were a man, would you call me evil? No. These are smart characters." They are good at what they do.

And for my cadre of "bad girls," I know these women feel justified in their actions and do not consider themselves evil. They are simply driven by what they want.

To quote Jessica Rabbit, "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way." 

And as most actors will tell you, it's more fun to play the villain anyway! ;)