๐ŸŽผIs This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? ๐ŸŽถ

Happy Holiday Season, Gentle Reader!

Oooooooowwweeeeee!

I hope your Turkey Day was wonderful, if you celebrate. If you are one of amazing Readers outside of the US, I hope your week was magnificent. But to be clear, this post isn’t about the recent holiday.

As we head into the weekend, and I return to grown up Ralph Parker, I wanted to share why I am enjoying this production so much. And it isn’t because it is Christmas themed. LOL. I don’t really celebrate it as I had mentioned before despite the fact that I worked on a Christmas show last year and in White Christmas many years ago.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to be a part of this production was the shear fact that I have never had the opportunity to work with this many youngsters before. I wanted to have this experience because it was not only new, but the energy that they bring is incomparable. My past experiences were as a choreographer of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a youth production and the shows where I was cast that did have younger persons, really only had one or two. To share a stage with 10 of them is a wholly different experience and I am enjoying it immensely.

Another reason I have cherished this process is because of the director. Allie Bailey is one of my favorite people and director to collaborate with during the process. The first time I met her was at auditions for her production of Pippin. What a blast that was! This is my 3rd time working with her. I have absolute trust in her. I appreciate that I can offer my ideas on the character and she asks questions to force me to dive even deeper than what I thought was deep enough. Sometimes instead of confirming my ideas, she counters knowing that it can do one of two things, guide me into a different point of view OR ensure that my view as the character has an answer in their backstory for every potential question that the script may present. I trust that if I am not presenting anything clearly, she will catch it and let me know so that I can make stronger choices. I also like to think that she trusts me and is fully ok with the time I take to work through building my character. She also knows how much I change delivery of lines to try and find my truth in the moment. Sometimes, directors have wanted me to make my choices and stick to them midway through the rehearsal process so the scene is “set” but that stresses me out because if a line gets delivered differently on accident and I give my response like we had “set” then the truth of the moment is lost and will be seen as forced by the audience.

It has been so incredible to take this journey, Dear Reader. The A Christmas Story movie is brilliant in its mix of realism and hyper camp thanks largely to the filming style by director Bob Clark. Not to detract from the acting because I thought all of that was well done too with special nod to Darren McGavin. But aside from the lamp, the filming visual are what stick with me. Like the zoomed in perspective of the kids on Santa and the elves when they are angry or the over dramatic grading by Miss Shields. That is hard to replicate on a stage. Yet, our director had the solution.

When I step back and take a macro look at the staged version, I can see at least 3 levels of style, for lack of a better term. In the first ring, this is the most true to life. My version of Ralph lives here. Yeah, he gets caught up in explaining some of the moments of his memories, but think about when you are recounting something to others. It is a normal reaction. Not only can you get caught up in the storytelling, but those emotions can well up within you again. Like the bullying scene. It is sad to recall, but man, those are some of the easiest feelings to recall from my past. It is painful and scary and embarrassing but the mix is easy to find when I need them.

In the next ring, the memory is stored there. I know that the potential for expanding upon your story is highly likely, Sweet Reader. While Ralph recalls this Christmas memory, obviously some parts are over the top. This is the ring that Mother, The Old Man and Randy, Santa as well as Ralphie’s classmates and Teacher live. Slightly larger than life yet rooted in complete truth but a little more exaggerated than Ring One.

In the final ring, Raphie’s imaginative fantasies reside. This is the overblown moments in the show. This is the home of Black Bart and his gang, Shakespeare and the fan girling Miss Shields, and Red Ryder.

The real trick was knowing where to blur the lines and have those rings bleed into one another and I think our director must be a fricking magician because she has managed to do that very thing spectacularly.

I say it every day in real life, I am a lucky duck. I cannot tell you enough what a wonderful time I am having getting to know these little artists as well as making friends with peers that I had not worked with before. And now, it is off to the theater!

Thank you for once again taking a moment out of your lives, Gentle Reader, to read the musings of a vagabond actor just looking for new ways to explore emotion and view life through the stories of others.

Until the next time our paths cross, Dear Reader, stay safe and alert. Be sure to care for yourself and those around you.

โค๏ธ

๐ŸŽผLooks Good, Sounds Good, Feels Good Too…๐ŸŽถ

Heeeeeeelllllloooooo Gentle Reader!

My many apologies for my long time away. First came the attempt at learning candle making, then I got cast in a production and now work is all kinds of wonky! BUT the important thing is now the show has begun with last night being the start of a spectacular run.

Yes, you Gorgeous Readers, I have opened another show! I kept meaning to post about it here, but time was just too poorly managed on my part. I can say that with complete honesty. I slept like crap these last 8 weeks and it just got worse 3 weeks ago thanks to work looking into cutting back on it spending. At first it wasn’t about stress. At first. It was more the fact that traffic in the Bay Area has returned to PreCovid Times and people drive worse now than they did back then. My drive to get to rehearsal can take anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, I think was my record, thanks to an accident. By the time it was the return trip home, the last thing on my mind was writing because I was trying to figure out what meetings I had to prepare for at work the next day.

So writing was put on the back burner. My sincere apologies. I’ve missed y’all.

I hope that you are all well and healthy and you are looking forward to the holiday season!

Speaking of the holiday season, let’s chat about my current project…

No doubt, Lovely Reader, that you have seen this 1986 holiday classic that is played on repeat every single year for 24 hours on Christmas Day.

If you happened to have missed it, somehow. It is the memory of the main character’s Christmas from when he was 8 years old. Filled with moments of hilarity and relatability, this film has something for everyone

Check out this newspaper article featuring Keith Larson. Keith does an outstanding job as The Old Man! I swear sometimes it sounds like the O.G. dad, Darren McGavin. He talks about how as he has gotten older and a family of his own, his relationship with this film has also grown.

If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It takes place in the 1940’s and it is just a simpler time so there are no cell phones, no distractions from screens. It is all about the human connections.

The script for the play version highlights all the best parts of the movie and delivers such heart.

For my experience with this show, it was pure pleasure. In the movie, you never see my “role.” You definitely hear it though. He is little Ralphie all growed up. (Yes, I know that isn’t a real word) and just like the movie, the play is told through the “memories” he shares, moving the story along.

For me the great challenge was getting the style of the syntax correct because while all my lines weren’t quite run-on sentences, they most certainly felt like it. There would be a paragraph of 7 lines that was only 2 actual sentences and some of the grammatical markings weren’t where one would think they should be. So really digging in and trying to sort all of that out was my biggest issue. Not to mention ALL THE LINES!! The sheer amount of them had gotten so that at a point in the early stages of rehearsals, that I began to question my casting. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

I was sick of hearing myself speak because it felt like I was ALWAYS monologuing. I began to wonder if I would turn out like some of the presenters I see during work functions, droning on and on and losing audience members like a comet loses pieces of itself as it hurtles through space. Sometimes I had pages of things to say and they didn’t really connect to one another so trying to shift the energy so it felt like it was a “scene change” was such an incredible exercise. There is still one that I feel a bit sticky on.

Here is an example: After one of the fantasy scenes with all the kids, Kind Reader, I reenter and talk about how having the Red Ryder BB gun was a must. Then I am supposed to set the tone for a scene about the sexy leg lamp. After a fantastical scene where Ralphie uses his rifle and the built in tools to save his classmates they all run off. The script says: “RALPH: No question about it. I had to have that air rifle. It was an absolute necessity. Meanwhile, night after night, the soft sinuous radiation of the Old Man’s major award lit up Cleveland Street, attracting cruising prides of adolescents.” Logically, I know there is a light shift, but I can’t see it as I am in a follow spot whenever I am on stage. So all I see is that light. I drop the register and volume of my voice and hope that I wait long enough that the light change happens before I go into the light part of the line. At the beginning I am in one frame of mind, caught up in the ideas of what could happen with that rifle and then I have to shift over to sexy time talk with a flip of the dime. ๐Ÿ˜‚ It just feels funky to me. I am sure it looks great, but I, personally, find it feeling funky. It is totally a me thing and I completely trust my director, the amazing Allie Bailey. If it looked off or sounded odd in any way, she would straight up tell me.

Now with this beast of a show open, I can relax and enjoy the holidays myself. Since my family has suffered a lot of hardships with losses over the last few years, I know I need to enjoy our time together now.

Sometimes during the penultimate and the final scenes, I get a little choked up because of how I built the backstory for my character. But that is for another post.

I hope that you are able to come on down and check out this cult Christmas classic presented on a stage with over the top silliness and about a planet sized amount of heart. Besides, look at that little face! Don’t you wanna see the shenanigans this lil fella gets into?

Program Image: Shawna Gonzales as Mother and Matthew Horta as Ralphie Parker

Until next time, Dear Reader, I hope you stay safe, healthy and aware. Make sure to take care of yourself and those around you. I adore you all and look forward to the next time. Thanks for letting me bend your ear.

โค๏ธ

๐ŸŽผThe Wonderful Part of the Mess That We Made; We Pick Ourselves Undone…๐ŸŽถ

Hello Gentle Reader!

Bear with me, cuz I am about to do a shameless plug. LOL! I figured, I would get this done, because we only have 2 days left to see it.

I am in a show! But duh, you knew that already. ๐Ÿ˜‚ What I wanted to share is that this anthology of short plays, called Pear Slices 2022, is available as a Video On Demand (VOD) option. I was worried when it was filmed because I had shoe malfunctions. LOL!

These plays are moving and timely. It has been a pleasure to get these stories in front of audiences. Including YOU! This link will take you to the Pear Slices 2022 VOD section for The Pear Theatre.

We had an extremely short rehearsal period AND a break as a caution for Covid-19 safety. We tested like crazy just to make sure that our project didn’t fall victim to the Covid Curse even though we did have to push back our opening night a week. This means that we don’t get to do as many shows as we had hoped. So many of the productions around the Bay Area have either had to postpone or cancel production or close early and some, sadly, not open at all. All of the precautions paid off and we are now in the last two performances of the run.

I have to say that working on this project brought some new insights to me that I had a feeling I was holding back, but had to face. It’s too early to write about them because each time we perform, I find something a little bit different, and by now you should know me well enough that I always stew on what I learned from a show for at least a week.

My Dear Reader, I thank you for taking the time to read this self serving post. I appreciate each and every one of you. I invite you to check out Pear Slices 2022. Regardless of what you do, I thank you and…

Until next time, stay safe and healthy and be kind to yourself and to others.

๐Ÿ’š

๐ŸŽผHold On My Heart, Throw Me A Lifeline; I’ll Keep A Place For You Somewhere Deep Inside…๐ŸŽถ

Hello Gentle Reader!

It has been a bit, hasn’t it?

I hope you are well and healthy and had a lovely weekend.

Sadly, I found out about two people passing away. Each dear to me in their own way and neither in the same relation circle so it’s like which ever way I turn to face, I have to look at sadness. ๐Ÿ˜’

On Sunday, I found out that my cousin, Scott, but we always called him Scotty, had passed after he’d been hospitalized and a friend from the theatre, Mike, had passed on Saturday.

If there was one great regret that I have about stepping away from family functions and such it would be because of missing my cousin Scotty. He was fearless. A little reckless, but always willing to try dares, and especially gross food mixing stuff. I remember my aunt always yelling at him for doing something but one of the main things was reaching over and honking the horn while she drove under an overpass near their home. He did it every time, so I don’t know why it always surprised her, but it did.

One of my most favorite memories was when my dad took us and my little brother to see 101 Dalmatians in the small movie theater in the neighborhood. I remember there weren’t many people in the auditorium but we were up near the front. Then the scene came on where Cruella DeVil is driving furiously to catch the large truck the dogs were in and she has to miss the bridge and drive down an embankment and into a pile of snow. As she is driving the embankment, she is bouncing all around in her car and Scotty lets out his crazy laugh that has a sort of Pee Wee Herman quality to it. It sounds to old to be a child’s laugh if that makes any sense. Think Ricky Ricardo having a belly laugh. Any how, he lets out this big “HA HA” that is so loud it makes us laugh. Then, after Cruella has got back on the road, there is a point where her hair is all crazy and there is a close up on her red eyes and they have that spiral going on in them.

For some reason, that just makes him laugh more. This in turn makes us laugh and all the way through the rest of the scene up to the crash, we are laughing so hard because of his goofy laugh.

I am gonna miss that crazy kid, but so thankful that he showed me what being fearless looked like.

Mike was a different kind of cat. He was an excellent lighting designer. His credits are in the hundreds, easily. Maybe even more but I know he worked on many of the same projects that I did. I do believe that the first show I had met him on was Gypsy. I didn’t really get a chance to know him until I was in Smokey Joe’s Cafe.

We would talk about his love of dance, the shows that he saw in New York, the show he was going to see on his next trip and sometimes about when he had done shows. I used to think that he was a grumpy man, but I came to realize that he just had a very serious face unless he was smiling or laughing.

I had never seen this happen ever, but once, I think it was during the opening weekend or maybe after the Friday night show of a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, somehow, all of the lighting cues were deleted. All of them. There was nothing and Mike came in and overnight recreated the entire show. When the cast came in for our call, we had no idea until the stage manager had mentioned it. Insane!

I think my favorite thing that I will remember with Mike was working on the lighting for my directorial projects. As a cast member to meet and interact with the lighting designer is fun and cool but as a director your interactions are much more intense. I always would give him so much sass about having to use a fog element in his designs and once he explained it to me, I couldn’t unsee how much it helped.

On Jesus Christ Superstar, not the aforementioned, at the start of the 39 lashes, the lights were much less red and you could see the faces of the upstage cast. As the lashes continued, so did the deepening of the red and we thought pulling the light from the incredible upstage cast would make a kind of hellish looking landscape as they would show as silhouettes and could bring more to the contrast in their position as encouraging the punishment versus when they had supported him. I wish I had a picture from the actual production. This is from tech week.

On Smokey Joe’s Cafe, above is probably my most favorite shot I have of the entire process. Not that I didn’t absolutely adore the cast, but sitting side by side and trying to find the most perfect hue of various lights in the different areas was the most unexpectedly fun part of directing. The back record neon isn’t on and this little moment before we added any color felt like making magic.

Thanks for piquing my curiosity in lighting design and teaching me other ways of thinking about how storytelling can be fascinating and wondrous. Thanks for sharing your stories and ideas.

So pull up a chair and until our paths cross again, my friend, I shall always remember you at your “desk”

๐ŸŽผAnd I Have No Concept of Time, Other Than It Is Flying…๐ŸŽถ

Hello Gentle Reader!

Happy March? OMG, why does time move so swiftly when we aren’t looking? ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Since last post, not too much has happened. And what has happened has been large in impact.

Quick list then the break down…

*My father seems to be getting worse with his dementia and needs more care than what we can do now, *considering a side hustle so we can have a little extra income to pay for that care and donate to research regarding the brain and memory loss, *lots of unexpected comedian deaths and *now the conflict in Europe.

I want to say I am surprised. I really do. But, I was expecting some sort of conflict. I didn’t know where or who but I knew something was going to happen. That sounds so vague. LOL! Trust me, I know how it sounds. I think at some point I had heard about this brewing in October or November and my brain just tried to find the end game. That seems to be the obvious answer, but I don’t watch any news. I look up specific topics to learn about the latest things on them and politics is never something that comes to mind when I am looking to learn about the latest things. So… I dunno if I fully believe that is the answer.

Let me go back to New Years Eve. The Brunch Club (name to be confirmed. ๐Ÿ˜„) gathered and enjoyed the last one of the year. It was a lot of fun. Until we found out that beloved Betty White had passed away. The lull in the conversation was halted by some friends joining in on the fun. We talked and laughed. I don’t know why, but I decided this was a perfect time to bring down the mood again. LOL! The night before, I was plagued with terrible awful nightmares that I don’t even want to think about. In the middle of this get together, I brought up my feelings about what I dreamed and said something bad is coming. Really bad. I said stock up on supplies… some time during the spring or early summer because I remembered that I had felt really warm. I know it sounds silly and we were all a little loopy so we kind of just giggled about it and went on with chatting and stuff. At some point, before the end of the meal, I threw out a reminder and added a parental finger point to make sure they knew I meant business. Then, someone suggested we move the party to another venue, so off we went.

After NYE, it was all just a bunch of sad news of people passing. But some of these people were comedians that I loved growing up and quoted with my family. Bob Saget was so great to see in the clubs because he wasn’t really limited on what he would talk about like on his tv shows. Even so, I still watched Full House and AFV – one of my faves for sure. Louie Anderson had a crazy funny special on cable at some point in the 90’s that we would watch repeatedly. Meatloaf made with such energetic storytelling, but I loved him in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Spice World. LOL. What? I ain’t scared to say I like that movie! It was silly fun. Include Betty White and it was just a big amount of loss to not want to acknowledge because I loved them as I grew up. They gave me so many laughs. ๐Ÿ˜ญ

And last night, we finally got around to watching the SAG Awards. The “In Memoriam” section hit a little harder this time around. I began to wonder if it would just get worse as the years continue because you are aware of more and more of these people. ๐Ÿ˜”

Speaking of losing people you grew up with… A few weeks ago, I had gone to see my dad. I was hoping that he would want to take a car ride to the ocean. I can’t recall a time that he spoke of going to water that wasn’t a reservoir or creek. I figured a little adventure would be good for him just like our trip to see his sisters had done. He was asleep when I got there and at one point when he did come out of the room, he didn’t recognize me. He later told my mom that he thought I was the landlord of the apartment. This wasn’t the first time that he didn’t recognize me but it was the first time that I could see in his eyes that he didn’t. That is something that you’re never quite prepared for. It is sad and in your head, you know the reason, but in your heart, it still hurts.

He has been having trouble keeping his balance for awhile now as well and my mom thinks he might have to go into an assisted living facility. I know he will be so upset about it. I also know that this is a tough thing to do because it is so expensive.

So I have been researching little side gigs to do that I think would let me have a little fun, but more importantly allow me to raise money to get him that care and to have enough to donate to research for the cures for brain related illnesses that cause dementia. I found one that I think is promising, but the testing and practice takes a little time. I am hoping that by end of April, I will be able to share that with you.

Just so you don’t think that this whole time has been sad or depressing, I have gone to the drive-in several times! There is something that is so much more fun being there than in a regular cinema. The biggest drawback is headlights, but I don’t mind it that much. Tried two new restaurants that had delicious food, saw Margaret Cho at the Improv, had a few Brunch Club meet-ups. Seen some pretty good movies at the regular cinema. If you haven’t seen the latest Spider-Man movie, what are you waiting for!!??? SO FLIPPING GOOD!

You see, Dear Reader, life just made me lose track of time. It has been slightly uneventful, but the events were impactful. On the acting front, I haven’t really auditioned for anything except one and I have a call back to let you know about soon. Off to do some preparation!

I hope you are well and thank you for letting me bend your ear, Kind Reader.

Until next time, stay safe and alert. Be kind to others and yourselves.

โค๏ธ