thetunnelDear Gentle Reader,

Last night, towards the end of rehearsal, I finally had the opportunity to listen to Rachelle Abbey sing “Fly, Fly Away” from Catch Me If You Can. Now, look, I think Kerry Butler is great, but I what I heard last night blew the cast recording out of the water. I can’t stop thinking about it to this very minute. I am so excited to hear this at every show.  I got chills and everything. This is one thing. The other thing, not so good.

But then, Dear Reader, I got home and I heard about the terrible news from Manchester. It is just so utterly heart-wrenching. Of course, to feel bad for the victims is natural, but I also feel terribly for the artists that were performing.  What a weight that must be! I know it isn’t the artists’ fault in the least, but if it were me in that situation, I would be devastated. Such a cruel act and for what purpose? The average age of Ariana Grande’s fanbase is estimated at 18-23.  What is the purpose of targeting young innocent people? A group has taken credit for the attack, of course. If it is them, ( like King Cheetoh, I refuse to say the name as I do not want to contribute to their self glorifying ways) I suppose the idea of a strong self assured woman really terrifies them. And for that same woman to be a beacon for younger people must really shake their manliness to nothing.

All I can think about today is the loss of life, the unrealized potential of the victims.  It truly is a sad situation to realize that the possible ideas and lives of the victims could have advanced our world to peace, or not (I mean, I have to be realistic. However, I am ALWAYS hopeful of the positive.) The other think I am also dreading is how politicians will use this.  It is a terrible thought, I know, but again with the realism here. Why is it that those few awful people can bring millions and millions of good people to their knees in sorrow.  Why don’t the acts of kindness change the world in the same fashion?

In this situation, Kind Reader, these two things just seem to hold hands in my mind now.  Most notably for lyrics like this:

We didn’t get to say goodbye,    

Goodbye  

No need to tell me why, my baby

Maybe it’s because you’ll fly back home to me one day

Baby when you’re in the clouds

Please keep a lookout

Maybe, darling, find a hideaway

For you and I          

I know that this song is sung by a someone in love to her fiancé, but when I think about the kids at that show, I also think about the pain of the parents.  It is such a heavy, heavy situation but I can’t stop thinking about it.

Dear Reader, I hope you are safe where you are.  I hope you follow what makes you happy. I hope you remain strong in spirit and hope.

Until next time,

Exhausted-tired-weary-exhausted-smiley-emoticon-000757-huge

Oh Gentle Reader,

Last night we had dance rehearsal for my big dance number “Don’t Break The Rules.” OH. MY. STARS!

Since A Chorus Line ended, I have been really lax on getting some cardio done. I love to run, like I LOOOOOOOOVE to run.  On an elliptical.  I should specify.  With all the crazy things I have done over the years in these shows, my knees don’t like the impact that jogging or using a treadmill cause. Any way, I love to spend at least an hour running when I stop at the gym and for the last three and a half weeks, I haven’t stepped on one.

One of the things that we are playing with for Hanratty is that he is not particularly fit. Having just come off a dance heavy show, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not be able to get down with the boogie.  That’s what the kids say, right?

Well, Dear Reader, I found out last night what it could be like.  Oh! Boy, did my gym vacation come back and bite me.  Bit me gooooood!! We made it through all 20 pages of the song and not only did I stumble on some sections of the dance, but I couldn’t spit out the words fast enough! Oh man, it was kind of a mess, I am ashamed to admit. LOL! But it was fun and I think we all had a good time.

All in all, it is gonna be a friggin’ great number.  I can’t wait for the Charleston at the end! I was given the chance to just park and bark (that’s the “official” term when one stands and sings) but HELL to the NAH! I am going full out dance and vocals on this number cuz that’s what it calls for!

So, Kind Reader, y’all know what this calls for right? I’ll get back to ya, I gotta go for a run… 😀 But first, have YOU ever accomplished something purely on accident?  Has laziness ever given you an opportunity to see something that you wouldn’t have done otherwise? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, Gentle Reader! Gotta go catch my breath. Hahahahahahahaha…

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This is, perhaps, my most favorite picture taken of me. This is wholly and fully everything about me in one shot. Thank you to the amazing Rhona McFayden!

Dear Gentle Reader,

Hello!  How have you spent the last few weeks? I have been working through the closing of one show 😞, starting a new job 💵, and beginning rehearsals for a new show😄, so life has been a hurricane of madness!  But it is all working out in the right direction, so I shan’t complain about it. How can I, when there are worse things in the world?

🎭A Chorus Line ended three weeks ago, and still this week, I am reminded of the show by people who happened to have seen it. I am grateful for the many very kind words of the show and my portrayal of Paul.  It means the world to me.  The thing is that they don’t mean so much because it may be validation of whether or not I am good at acting, but that the approach that I took with the big monologue to make it my very own while keeping true to the show’s legacy, and as powerful as it should be, worked. I am a very physical actor.  I gesture.  I use all of my body for everything and not just my face to tell a story.  This means that to do the monologue the same way it is traditionally done would totally ring false in me, which could show in the performance.  It was a chance I really didn’t want to take, especially since this was such a personal role to play. So, I set it up the way that felt good to me and when I rehearsed it for the first time the director, Bill Starr, loved it. There were, of course, tweaks made and suggestions, but what we were able to wring out of each sentence felt like truth. And it felt right. For me. The hope was that the audience wouldn’t be pushed away in this version.

Then, something remarkable happened. People began telling me that as the monologue went on (the first few times I rehearsed it, it felt like it went on and on and on…) people said they began to lean in; they wanted to know more about Paul’s story! ❤️ I am certain that there were people that wanted it to be traditional, and I get it, but they didn’t dislike what they saw. What at first seems like a wonderful dauntingly incredible challenge became a piece that I am extremely proud of.  I have loved ALL of the amazing opportunities that I have had but to say I am proud (which I almost never do) of a piece of work is rare. There are literally a handful of pieces that would qualify.

And that being said wraps up my second run of A Chorus Line. I loved the show the first time I was in it and I loved it this time around too. So many wonderful new people that I can now cheer on and be a fan of. ❤️ That’s one of my favorite things about theatre.

Dear Reader, last month, I made mention of job interviews and the need for adjusting my financial course 💵.  As I hinted at in the beginning of this post, I got the job! I am excited for all of the new challenges and security this will bring, but first I have to play catch up with the two and a half months of work that has been left behind while this position was vacant. 😜BUT this is not a blog about working stiffs, so let us carry on!👍

Two weeks ago, we began the process for Catch Me If You Can. Kind Reader, if you have seen this show, please tell me, did you find it strange that nearly every song has to have a scene in the middle of it?  While going through the script, I found myself wondering what Terrance McNally, Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman were thinking. There is incredible music throughout this show and it feels like it abruptly stops the number to add the scene.  Maybe that was just because I was reading through and making notes and whatnot.  I shall keep you posted on the findings of this query. The other thing that struck me was that even though the script is only 120 pages, if FEELS longer. I am curious if that is because of the song scenes. Only time shall tell.

Good Reader, if you have input on the Catch Me question, I beg you, let me know in the comments below!  Am I the only one in thinking this script setup is awkward? Does the show feel like it has a Lord of the Rings-esque ending? Do you get what I mean by that reference? GAH!! The questions seem to never end…

Until I find my sanity, Dear Reader… 💖

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LaChanze in The Color Purple.  Photo from Broadwayworld.com

Hello Gentle Reader,

Do you remember hearing your favorite vocalist for the first time? I remember the first time I ever heard the amazing voice of LaChanze.  Her voice was strong and clear as a bell. So much emotion behind it. And I fell in love with that voice. I mean, how could you NOT!?

The musical that introduced me to this stellar vocalist was an incredible show written by Ahrens and Flaherty.  This is the same team that brought other great shows like “Ragtime”, “Seussical”, “Lucky Stiff” and “Rocky: The Musical”  and are currently on Broadway with “Anastasia.”  The show that I am speaking of, Dear Reader, is none other than the wonderful and charming, “Once on This Island.”

A beautiful and uplifting story of “the power of love against the power of death”  set in a mythical island where racial tensions run high between the different classes of people. LaChanze played the character Ti Moune, an orphan saved from a devastating storm by a couple who found her in a tree. As she grows, she longs for something more than her simple life in the village. “And the Gods heard her prayers.”

As I watched this year’s Tony Awards, I was wondering to myself why there hasn’t been a revival done of “Once on This Island” yet. Little did I know that there were people already working on this very thing!

After 27 years away, it will be returning to Broadway THIS FALL!!!!!! Gentle Reader, if I could grab your hands and jump up and down with you, I TOTALLY WOULD!!!  What is even more amazing is that there is an international open casting call for the role of Ti Moune!!  In Haiti, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and Atlanta at the beginning of April, YOU have a chance to be the next Ti Moune.  Check out this link for all the deets!

If you have dreams of playing this role, I encourage you to go and audition.  And break some legs, if you do!!!

What is your favorite song from OoTI?  Mine is easy. Check it out! Still gives me the chills to hear her sing this song.  Are you excited for this revival? Let me know in the comments below!!

Until next time, Gentle Reader…

0007656_seminar_300 Dear Gentle Reader,

Today I actually had an opportunity to go and watch a show at the Susan Hammer Theater.

Imagine my joy as I finally got to be in a theater but off stage!  So the show for today is “Seminar” by Theresa Rebeck.  What a phenomenal script! Witty, insightful, funny and powerful.

The synopsis: Four aspiring fiction writers (Kate, Martin, Douglas, Izzy) sign up for private classes with a renowned writer/editor (Leonard). They find that this hardened internationally known author isn’t just cruel in his criticisms of their work for pleasure.  Who makes it? Who gives up? Who breaks all the rules to get what they want? Inexperience is exposed to harsh reality.

The setting is a large New York apartment for almost 3/4 of the play.  A couch, two chairs, a cabinet, and a coffee table take up much of the stage while a very little used booze cart I was coveting was upstage right. There were two doorways.  One led to the kitchen and the other to bedrooms and the front door.  I don’t know why that bothered me so much, but logically to me, I don’t know of any homes where the front door would be closer to the bedrooms than the living room. But, Dear Reader, that did not diminish the feel of this set.  It did feel lavish in it’s color and size and textures of furniture. The kitchen was very well dressed even though you didn’t see inside it very much.  My friend, Kevin, would have been impressed.

Lights were pretty simple as it was mostly a single setting, so lights up and lights down. One thing I was curious about was that while it is a single setting there were a lot of blackouts that didn’t need to be as long as they were. But, Dear Reader, as with all reviews, that opinion is merely subjective.

The acting for the most part was good.  The cast called for is small; five people in total (3B, 2G). Because of this, you really get a chance to see what the people can do. This, however, can be a double edge sword.  If there is a nervous habit that one has, this become obvious to me.  There was one show, which I am not naming, that is an amazing show but the lead had a habit and I was ruined for the whole show. That being said, it is a strong cast with stand out performances offered by David Prete (Leonard) and Sarah Hass (Kate).  Prete, a guest artist, commands the stage from every point he lands on.  The moment we first meet Leonard, Prete draws you in. Excellent performance throughout and with two big moments toward the end of the show, it makes me want to add this role to my bucket list for plays! As Kate, Hass performs with the complexity of an old pro. Her delivery is well executed and strong. Kaythi Win (Izzy) and Matthew Kropschot (Douglas) are both likable and offer up great characterization.  One thing I noticed in Win’s  performance that gave me pause was her nearly juvenile portrayal of seduction.  I just didn’t believe this point of her performance.  Izzy is a character that strikes me as someone who has used sex to her advantage many times, so she should be more convincing.  In Kropschot’s performance, my only criticism was that there were some lines that he just seemed to throw away, as in they just faded out. So more projection all the way through the line.  I am sure Rebeck didn’t write some of these lines just to be mumbled. Now, Jacob Soss (Martin) arguably had the most difficult role.  He plays the defensive, insecure author that clearly loves the craft, but is too afraid to be judged by Leonard to offer any writings. Is it the fear of success he is afraid of? Maybe that insecurity is right and he truly is no good at writing? (Another role I am adding to my bucket list!) He is a good looking and likable enough actor, but his delivery of lines felt way too similar.  There wasn’t much variation in his lilt or volume.  He responds as though everything sounded incredulous to him. His hand gestures were almost too much. You know how if you are going to say “I don’t know” with just your hands, you would bring them up so that the elbows bend almost 90 degrees?  He did that for almost every single line.  It wasn’t always both hands.

The direction is probably the toughest thing for me.  I know there are times when it seems too static on stage so someone should move, but the crosses have to make sense.  The actors have to have a reason for the move, and several times they did not.  To me, that stuck out like a sore thumb. So there was that but also why not try and pull out that seduction level from the Izzy character? Don’t get me wrong, this is a solid show with great pacing and lasts just past the 2 hour mark but I just thought it could be tweaked a little bit.

Oh, Gentle Reader, who is your favorite fiction writer? Is it a man or a woman?  Have you never given this a thought? There is a moment in the script that does make you ponder on the difference in how women are respected in this genre of writing than men.

Let me know in the comments below, your thoughts. Maybe you saw the show and disagree with what I saw.  Let me know that too.

Until next time, Dear Reader…