Thursday, October 31, 2019

Making Moira

As one of my friends said, "Laura takes Halloween to a whole different level."

What can I say? I like to make a statement.

Last year I was RBG, and this year, I decided to be Moira Rose from Schitts Creek.

I have long admired Catherine O'Hara's work from the days of Beetlejuice to A Mighty Wind. When Schitts Creek came out, I watched it for her, and then I fell in love with the whole cast.

So this year, in honor of the woman who lost her wealth but has found so much more in Schitts Creek... I present... Moira Rose.

To turn myself into this fabulous icon, I had to find the right outfit. Moira is a fashionista and I wanted to do her right! I found that most of her clothes are black and white, which is a statement unto itself and how she sees the world, but there are some episodes where she'll stray. Her feathery champagne gown for The Crowening premiere was such a departure for this stark fashion maven, and I love seeing how Dan Levy reveals this character through her clothes:

So I dove into my closet, looking at all my black and white accoutrements. After trying several options, the one that called to me was black leather pants, patent leather platform heels, a black and white tiger striped blouse, tons of jewelry,  black nails, a sequin jacket, and a feather hat to honor The Crowening.

I even brought some glasses for her day-wear look:

I discovered so many little details: like how she wears bracelets on TOP of her clothes:

She also never wears low-cut tops. Almost everything is close to her neck.

My friends insisted I wear a broach, but the only one I had belonged to my husband, which he wore at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire as the Lord Governor Malice. I decided at the last minute that a splash of red would still work, and it's a nice way to honor my husband's character work as well. :)

My mom insisted on the red lips. OF COURSE! And the big thing that came with "becoming Moira" today was that I discovered this tenacious confidence of the character that comes from a combo of dressing boldly and simply putting yourself out there. Moira's humble beginnings have often been hinted at, but one of my favorite episodes is when she tells the director of The Crowening that the film can be much more than a paycheck. She puts her all into everything she does, and the results are wondrous!

Happy Halloween, dear hearts! Be brave, bold, and "Rock onwards and upwards!"


Monday, September 23, 2019

Make Some Noise

I've been working on songs for a concert tonight of the new musical, Starcrossed, and I've had some yummy epiphanies:

1) If you find yourself getting in your head about some challenging music, go back to basics and Make Some Noise!

My nieces just turned one, and they LOVE using their voices! Even though they don't have words yet, they really love to holler in joy. They could teach a rock n roller how to let loose with awesome high notes that go from a screech to a trill!

And it reminded me, just have FUN making sounds!

2) Take is slow.

I have a song that's very wordy and it sits on my break (where my voice changes from low to high registers), so it's a lot to tackle. My voice coach, Andrew Wheeler (below with his adorable French bulldog, Oscar), advised, "Slow the song down and feel the vibrato on each note."

Slowing things down gives you a chance to find the placement of the note in your voice and can help you learn a fast song much easier than speeding through it.

3) Savor the words.

Speak the song out like a monologue to gauge, "What am I trying to say?" That's also helpful in gauging your character want and how they're using the song to achieve that desire.

I've noticed how Patti LuPone savors each word, and that's always fun to explore!

I also realized that no matter how much we prepare, we're never as ready as we wish we were. That's why Bonnie Gillespie's anthem of "Launch at 85%" is so helpful. There's no "perfect moment" to perform. You have to go from where you are right now, using the tools you have, knowing you've practiced as much as you can.

Just go out there, have fun, and know that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Make some noise, babe!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Music Makers and Dreamers of Dreams

I've done a lot of recordings this year, and it's been very satisfying to get paid for singing songs! :)

I am so thankful to be working with my coach, Andrew Wheeler, who's helped me grow as a singer and performer.

Here's a little taste of a country-western-pop-rock musical I'm working on with Clare Cooper, whom I worked with on Jaws the Musical. This is from Black Crook:

Friday, July 19, 2019

A Company of Players

I've been working for 16th Note Productions since I crashed one of their auditions a few years ago. It was an invited crash, actually, because I submitted online, and they wrote back that all slots were filled, but I was welcome to come by and try to get in if anyone didn't show up. Well, somehow I got in, made the callback, and then booked the gig! That show was Pageant Princess.

Then they asked me to sing in a reading of their musical, Pieces, and that show has a special place in my heart. That's my first psychologist role. Really interesting and incredibly intimate in the vein of Next To Normal.

And last year we did a reading of the script for Starcrossed, a new musical in the world of Romeo and Juliet. Kristen Penner and Lorelei Mackenzie, the writers, grew that piece to become the staged reading of the musical we did this week.

It's a really good show with a pop sound like Wicked or Frozen. I played The Big Bad Lady Capulet who held more than a tinge of Lady MacB. Daggers and all! It was SO fun!

And as I look over this body of work I'm doing with Kristen and Lorelei, these two actress-writer-composers and the incredibly talented people they assemble for their projects, it occurred to me: This is what was called in Shakespeare's time, A Company of Players!

And I'm so thankful to be working and playing with them! :)

Friday, February 22, 2019

Recording at the Film Center

It felt like Spring last night. An early Spring in New York. In February.

As I dashed down the street to the Film Center where I was going to be recording a song for the new musical, "Pieces," I thanked my lucky stars for all the creatively lush times I'd had there. I was part of the international recording for Jerome Kern's Roberta which was done at the Film Center and in Dublin. And I booked the short film Tick Tock at the Film Center. There's a lot of good energy there for me, and I smile every time I walk by the place.

Last night I was there to record a song for these amazing musical-makers, Kristen Penner and Lorelei MacKenzie.

They've written several musicals, and I met them a few years ago when I crashed an audition for their musical, Pageant Princess and I booked the role of Miss Clarabelle, a cat lover who finds herself the judge of a toddlers and tiaras type pageant. VERY fun and I got to belt to a high E which is always a thrill.

Last night, we recorded a song for "Pieces," which is a show about secrets and coming to terms with different parts of ourselves. The score is wonderfully contemporary,  and every time I work on it, my spirit soars.

Kristen sang first, and then I added my voice. Then Sarah Ann Vail who was in from LA sang. And I'm hoping they finished with Lorelei last night. The song includes all of the characters of the show so they'll be adding the other voices at another time. I can't wait to hear how it all comes together!

Kristen, me, Lorelei and Sarah Ann (far left)

I Hear A Theme

When I started my web series, Laura Loves NY, I wondered how and where music would fit in.

Jody Diamond, one of my guests on the Bali episode (below with director Livi Zheng), noted that I sing a little bit in every episode. That's just me. I'll sing phrases as I talk, because I'm always hearing music and some words just come out of me in a musical way. :)

I love that other people hear music all the time too.

When I interviewed award-winning composer singer-songwriter Andy Monroe he told me he'd been creating songs since he was 3. He just sat down at the piano and started singing.

I met Andy a few years ago at the NY Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) when I played The Singing Nun for a musical he composed. I won the NYMF award and fell in love with Andy's style.

While I was working on my web series, I kept thinking it'd be cool to have a theme song as a way to introduce the show, and since I love Andy's music and knew he'd get my vibe, I asked if he'd be interested in creating a theme song Laura Loves NY. He did, and we recorded it earlier this month!

I also interviewed Andy for my show, which is all about shining the light on artists who love NY as much as I do! :) Stay tuned for the upcoming episode. It's gonna be fun!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Laura Loves NY kicks off Season 2 with Tanya Perez in Wonderland

I can't believe we're in the middle of January 2019 already! Zoom!

At the end of last year, I interviewed actress-writer-director Tanya Perez, whom I met via Bonnie Gillespie's Self Management for Actors (The NY Ninjas). Tanya's a trailblazer, and when I met her, she'd already been on hit shows like Orange Is the New Black, Marvel's Jessica Jones, Law and Order and Blue Bloods. And last year she started making her own movies.

She shared the screenplay for Veronica with me earlier in the year, so I had an idea of what the film was about, and it was exciting to see how the film transformed on film! Such an incredible story about a woman trying to find a sense of identity.

All year we were trying to get together to film our interview for my web series, Laura Loves NY, but we've both been so busy! It took all year to make it happen, but it was well worth the wait. We sang and danced our way through Central Park on our way to the Alice In Wonderland statue which had special meaning for us both. Such a playful, wonderful day!

It was a joy to edit this piece to kick off Season 2 of my show. What a great way to start the New Year!