Joy and Payne…


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?


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.