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As the world knows, the incredible artist known as Prince died on April 21. Like everyone else, I was a fan.  It was a very sad day when this news was released. 

During the past weekend’s performances of Boy From Oz in San Francisco, there was a sadness that came over me as the cast stood in the wings waiting for the final number of the show “I Go To Rio.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, BFO is essentially the life of Peter Allen. ¬†Mostly known for writing the songs “The Best That You Can Do” (AKA Theme Song from the movie, Arthur, which starred Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli) and “I Honestly Love You” sung by Olivia Newton John. ¬†He is also known for being the first husband of Liza Minelli, who has had the tragic luck of picking gay men to marry. ¬†

The show covers not only his meeting of Liza, but first, her mother, the amazing Judy Garland. It progresses through his parting ways with Liza and falling in love with Greg Connell, who, like Allen died from AIDS.

But back to the show…

The song just before the finale is “Once Before I Go” in which Peter sings a beautiful good bye to the audience. ¬†The song was actually written for Allen’s friend, Ann Margaret, when her husband had passed away, but I am sure that once Greg died the song became even more personal. As our Peter, played by the incredible Dan Seda, was performing the hell out of this song, it made me think of some of¬†the other musicians that have passed away. Not only that they had passed, but that they had a chance to in a sense “finish” their work. ¬†I know that isn’t the right word for it, but they did get the opportunity to say goodbye in a way.¬†

  1. David Bowie released one final album, Blackstar. This work feels very much like a goodbye, in my opinion. ¬†Sure, there are some upbeat tunes on this record, like “Tis A Pity She Was A Whore,” but that one has me wondering if he was talking about a person or cancer or even life. There is a John Ford story of the same name that is of incestuous siblings that ends in one’s death. ¬†It may be that he is singing about it. ¬†Personally, I think it is just a coincidence.
  2. Freddie Mercury recorded one last song called “Mother Love.” ¬†It was released on the Made in Heaven¬†album after his passing. ¬†In it, he sings bits about what may be himself: “My body’s aching, but I can’t sleep/My dreams are all the company I keep/¬†Got such a feeling as the sun goes down/I’m coming home to my sweet/Mother love.” Even in his final video, (These Are The Days of Our Lives) it is easy to see that he wasn’t well. ¬†
  3. Howard Ashman, of Disney fame and the Little Shop Of Horrors musical, was able to give the world incredible songs for not only a beauty called Belle but a scrappy diamond in the rough named Aladdin. Both films were released posthumously and the world accepted these bright and shining gifts from the talented lyricist. 

But what about the people that left us unexpectedly?

What would they have created if they knew their lives would be taking that big final curtain call soon? People like Micheal Jackson, who was in the midst of planning his comeback concert.  I love MJ, but would it have worked? Did he have some new tricks up his sleeve?  Or how about Aaliyah and Notorious B.I.G?  What would be the last thing they want the fans or family to know?  

I seriously would love to know…

What would the Artist known as Prince have done

 

 

The Love Of Money

HI Gentle Reader!

Can you believe this is the first post of 2016? Would you believe it if I told you I am working on completing 4 different shows in the next 5 months? ¬†It’s true. ¬†I will get to some of that in a second.

Going back to the question at hand… are they paying you?

I have had a number of people ask me this question in regards to my next project. ¬†My current project is just a little dance number in “She Loves Me” at Foothill Musical Theatre, which is playing its last weekend beginning Thursday. ¬†The next project in the works requires that I commute to Hollister which is about an hour outside of the San Jose area, if the traffic is not too bad. ¬†I don’t mind the drive at all. I enjoy any car ride as long as I have something to shamelessly sing to/with. ¬†Currently, it is a toss up between Hamilton and Something Rotten.

While I do need to take some time away from the survival jobs to make it to rehearsals on time and pay for plenty of fuel, it isn’t an unreasonable question to ask. When I tell them the answer is no, I am given the “oh damn!” look. ¬†You know the one. ¬†It looks kind of like a combination of smelling something bad and sucking on a lemon.

I am glad my friends are looking out for me, but I do have my reasons on this project.

I call this a “gotta do it” project. Think of it like facing your fear. ¬†My next project is with the San Benito Stage Company’s Sidecar production. ¬†It is a cabaret style show in a quaint little bar in a building called The Vault. The show itself is called “The Subject is Love.”

I have always loved to sing, dance, and act. My preferences of the three disciplines are in the exact opposite order than what I just listed them. ¬†For some reason that I didn’t understand, I would always get in the most trouble for¬†singing.

Both my parents were big popular music lovers. So of course, I grew up listening and loving the radio’s top 40. ¬†Once I was introduced to musicals (Thanks, Tawni!), my interest in the regular music that the rest of¬†the people around me listened to waned. I began to collect as many cast recordings as I could get my hands on via the local libraries. ¬†I loved to sing along with these magnificent songs that held so much story and emotion. ¬†I didn’t just sing though, I belted out these songs. ¬†I was constantly told by my family to shut up. I was a terrible singer. ¬†I could never do something like that (be in a musical).

This negativity was around me every day for years, because I couldn’t help it that I loved these songs so much. ¬†Subconsciously, it made me believe that I couldn’t sing and that I would never get to be a part of something so incredible. Now I could be bitter at this mental block I have been given by my family, but I realized, oddly from watching America’s Funniest Videos*, that it wasn’t because I was bad at it. ¬†It was because I was maybe a tad loud, but mostly because it wasn’t the style of music that my family was used to. Since they weren’t, they believed it was terrible music and wouldn’t stop to really listen to it.

To this day, I have this anxiety of singing in front of others, especially at auditions. ¬†It is one thing to be in a role and embodying a character as one sings, but it is a whole different show when it is just you as yourself singing a song for a group of strangers. ¬†‘But there’s the whole karaoke thing, you can’t forget that!’ one dear reader exclaims. I reply, “Yes, but there’s the whole alcohol thing , you can’t forget about that.” ¬†I think somewhere in the back of my mind there is that cluster of voices from long ago echoing those negative phrases still. For those that have known me a long time, they could mention Smokey Joe’s Cafe, but even then our director created a story arc for the show which¬†gave way to creating characters.

Yet, I have this crazy idea that I would love to perform a solo cabaret show sprinkled with a couple of friends ¬†and with this mental block I don’t see how I can make that a reality. I have had the opening number all staged for the last 5 years. ¬†Maybe it is 6. By facing down this insecurity of mine, maybe I will finally scale this seemingly insurmountable wall that I put up when it comes to singing and get my ass in gear to complete this goal. ¬†And who knows, maybe my other auditions will level up! Let’s keep our collective fingers crossed. Until then, I shall continue to sing with whichever great cast recordings I have on the road with me.

Do you have any favorite songs that you like to sing along to when you are driving down the road?  If you were only allowed to belt out one really good number, what would you choose? Let me know! Maybe we can post videos of us doing just that.

Take care, Gentle Reader.

*I tried to find the video but finally gave up. In it, there is a young boy singing a show tune. ¬†I can’t remember if it is from Cats or Annie but his older sister is screaming for him to be quiet. ¬†The boy was actually on pitch and singing pretty well. ¬†So the video brought back a lot of memories.

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Dear gentle reader,

It has been 10 days since the final curtain was brought down on Guys and Dolls.

I have been struggling with a way to reflect on my experience with the Jewel Theatre Company. ¬†As of late, being able to sit down to write has been a bit difficult as time does not always allow for such simple requests. However, when I got a little Facebook notice that it was a particular person’s birthday and¬†that same day I opened my mailbox to find a card from that very same person, then the stars are¬†saying I have¬†to do it now!

This is gonna be a bit nuts, but bear with me, k? This post is gonna be wonky…

The Thursday night of our closing weekend, I had a dream. At the time it made no sense, but once I started organizing my thoughts for this post, the lightbulb finally went on.

The Dream: ¬†I woke up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep. ¬†I pulled up my Facebook account and immediately I get an IM from the one and only Lee Ann Payne, the choreographer for Guys and Dolls. The curious thing was that the message was a video message. ¬†She was so excited because she was the proud owner of a violin. Not only that but she can actually play something on it. ¬†She says, I am going to send you a video! Then she is gone. ¬†I get a link for a video that is titled “I Just Want It To Quack.” I hit play, and sure enough there is Ms. Payne playing her violin and literally making it quack. ¬†Like a duck. The video consists of many jump cuts as she joyfully plays her mallard fiddle and everything is lit with purple lights. (Think 80’s dance video if the description isn’t working for you.) This goes on for a brief chunk of time. Even though it is just quacks, I get a ¬†complete story; beginning, middle, and end. ¬†Then the dream is over. ¬†So random! So nonsensical, but very very joyful.

I recall waking up and being full of smiles because it was such a kooky dream. Not only that, it had one of my favorite theatre people of all time in it!

I am sure that I have mentioned this a million times, but it is because of Ms. Payne that I was lucky enough to be a part of the G&D family.

This past year, I have been focused on trying to work with as many new theatre companies as possible and I can say happily that I got to work with 3 plus an independent production team that put on a world premiere opera.  Along with new theatre companies, I have harbored the secret wish of actually learning to play the violin which is my favorite instrument.

So now this is how the dream begins to morph into meaning for me. ¬†A brilliant choreographer has in her hands something that I want, but don’t own and yet is familiar because of my love for the object which I¬†¬†interpretation as that she hands me a wonderful opportunity doing something I love with with something new (people and places)!

The jump cuts seem to resemble how those 9 weeks of my life were. ¬†Flashes of the things I needed to do at the time; work at job 1, go to rehearsal, work job 2, work job 1, go to rehearsal, etc…

I know that purple is the color of royalty, but I also associate it with magic.  There is nothing more magical to me than theatre and books.  Both take you on journeys that others have imagined, and to be  lucky enough to be able to bring those characters to life? Fuhgetaboutit!

The quacking I don’t quite get, I will admit. ¬†I’d like to believe that it is for the phrase “lucky duck.” I always consider getting gigs like this to be sheer luck. ¬†As I seem to have mentioned above… It could even mean something like “like a duck to water,” because from that very first rehearsal, everyone was friendly and helpful and it was just fun¬†to be around them. ¬†So yeah, maybe it does stand for lucky duck.

As this was a whole new group of people that I was going to work with, I was much quieter during this process than my usual self. ¬†I had never worked with Linda Piccone, our sassy and funny, but unknown to me, director. ¬†I couldn’t tell at first a lot of the time if she was joking or not because she has a really good poker face. Once we moved into the theatre, I finally realized that she was joking the whole time. LOL!

Taking the image of a happy lady playing a violin that literally sounds like a duck quacking automatically puts a laugh in my heart and a smile on my soul.  That, dear reader, is what the cast of G&D for Jewel Theatre did for me.  Through all the hard work, there were so many laughs.  So many times that I had tears in my eyes from all the funny that was happening.

If I were to name all the good things about the show, I could easily write a post this size for every day for the rest of the year and still not touch all of them. So I will tell you every bad thing… you ready?

 

Nothing
There was not a single thing that I would ask to change or do different. ¬†Does that mean I never had a mistake during the show? ¬†Oh, I did. ¬†Plenty. Someone accidentally made me break character during the sewer scene after Sky Masterson says “… the air in the mission smells better than the air down here.” To which in the background mumbling was heard “Oh that’s my cologne, uh, my colon.” ¬† I know! I know! I am still a 10 year old when people make poop jokes. But there was nothing bad; no divas, no drama, no problems. Just a wonderful group of hard working actors that I respect so much.

I will, however, say there are things that I will miss more:

  • The improv moments that happened nearly every night in the dressing room between two of the funniest men ever, Kurt and Chris!
  • The men’s dressing room in unity¬†meowing Star Wars music and the exit music for G&D
  • DTK mic check performances, especially the joke about the bell!
  • Jordan’s incredible song library brain
  • Bryan’s silly funny corny jokes
  • Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat!!!!
  • The impromptu backstage interpretive dance performance by Lucas and Kurt during Adelaide’s Lament
  • Corie’s drunken stumble at the end of the “If I Were A Bell” scene. It is one of my favorite perfect moments of the show.
  • Domonic, DTK, and Lucas’ ending of the fugue. ¬†Another perfect moment in the show.
  • David singing “Luck Be A Lady”
  • The amazing ladies performing “Take Back Your Mink”
  • Phil serving FACE during the song above. ¬†Like serving it UP!
  • Domonic and Lucas’ nightly bantering which was always oddly inappropriate (more like naughty) but innocent in a way as only BFF’s can be and hilarious
  • Chris as Nathan Detroit!
  • Julie’s rendition of Adelaide’s Lament Reprise
  • Judith’s movie star entrance at the top of the show. ¬†Another perfect moment, IMHO.

Speaking of Julie, when describing the owner of Jewel Theatre Company, inspiring is the word that comes to mind when you have the chance to work with her. She works so incredibly hard and at 100% 100% of the time. ¬†How she balanced moving her company into a brand spanking new theater as well as performing such a big role at the same time, all while maintaining her sanity and her kindness, I will never know. Her drive to push Jewel forward reminds me a lot of another theatre owner down in Gilroy that I know…

Just like the name implies, Jewel Theatre Company was a gem to work for and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  To Julie James and the rest of the JTC family, thank you for the experience. It will always be a precious memory for me.

 

orchestra

Oh, gentle reader…

Last night, the cast of Jewel Theatre’s Guys and Dolls¬†had our sitzprobe!! ¬†Can I just say… don’t forget to buy your tickets!

For those who have never heard the term, it is a German word used in Opera and Musical Theatre which literally translates to “seated rehearsal.” When I first began to perform in musicals I could never remember this word so I called it by its less elegant street name, “Sit and sing” or “Sit/Sing.”

The sitzprobe is often the first time the cast gets the chance to hear the orchestra and vice versa.  Apparently, there used to be a beautiful tradition that went along with this wonderful night of the rehearsal process, which you can read about here. The way Opera singer, David Cangelosi, describes it makes me want to be in that community in those days because it just sounds so amazing.

This has always been my favorite moment of putting together a show.  Yes, even more than having an audience.  Even more than choreography rehearsals. Sorry to all my choreographer friends that I just got the side eye from.  Definitely more than auditions. Tee hee.

The orchestra brings so much fun and energy to a show, which is why I adore all those wonderful musicians that I have met while performing.  Not to mention, outside of the show, every one that I am lucky enough to call friend are kind and incredible folks.

Of course, the actors work hard at creating a world for the audience to lose themselves in. When you add that live music, though, it makes the dancers leap a little higher and the singers emote a little deeper.

That mighty little band of musicians really blew our socks off last night.

This show keeps getting closer and closer to opening and already I am feeling a bit of the sads knowing that in just a few short weeks we will all move on to the next project.

But for now, I am gonna love every minute of this process!

LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN…

9 Days until Opening Night!!

Come and help us celebrate the opening of the Colligan Theater in the Tannery Arts Center, buy your tickets now!!!

Dance Captain Reporting For Duty…

Posted: October 31, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

thetunnel

And a part of me just wants to hide out in a cave until the idea passes.  LOL!

Whenever I choreograph a show, I usually assign the dancer that asks the most specific questions about details the task of being the dance captain. ¬†The¬†main reason I do this is because¬†I know that they are dedicated to making the movements as close as possible to what I am asking for. ¬†Usually this person is also technically sound and picks up steps fairly quickly… even when I don’t use counts and “boom kak whoosh” my way through a step. ¬†I do try to use counts as much as possible but sometimes I will focus on particular sounds in the middle of the number just to confuse the heck out of my dancers.

That being said, I think that being asked to take on the title Dance Captain is a great compliment for a dancer.

You can bet your boo-tay that I am gonna be up late these next couple of days making some serious notes and possibly spreadsheets breaking down steps to counts. ¬†But mind you, I did say POSSIBLY… ¬†I just gotta find some time.

Anyone got any extra time that they can spare? ¬†I need like 27 hours per day. ¬†24 just ain’t cuttin’ it.

Welp, this has to be short, cuz… well… this kid is a Dance Captain! ¬†Hahahaha

Until next time,

I salute you!