No One Is An Island…

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Hello Gentle Reader!

I have two very strong beliefs that I like to live by.  The first is that I believe that the most important thing worth fighting for is love. I don’t mean physical love exclusively.  I mean, anything that you love with your entire being. ANYTHING.

The second is a more recent belief that hit me about five or six years ago. I believe that a life worth living is made up of the connections you create.

Something happened last week that reaffirmed that belief. I was working the #survivaljob when I happened to greet a very kind older Middle Eastern Indian woman. She was absolutely lovely and she spoke of India as though she were homesick. I could see the tears welling up in her eyes as she told me how she missed the custom of welcoming all visitors into the home to talk as that doesn’t happen here in America. We chatted for about 20 minutes and I could tell she was needing to talk to someone other than her family. That conversation affected me the whole day and I couldn’t get that image of her eyes out of my head. I felt like I needed that interaction to happen too, as a reminder that I needed to put the work into strengthening my connections and bonds to something more than just passing hellos or sporadic meet ups.

Then, on Sunday, a friend of mine lost her year long fight with cancer. She wasn’t a very touchy feely person, but we spoke about how she felt about it. The last time we spoke she said that the latest round of treatment was tough but she was tougher and she wasn’t ready to stop fighting. I wouldn’t expect anything else from her. She didn’t suffer fools and put up with no nonsense, and even as this was in her personality, we had some amazing and wonderful bouts of laughter.  The kinds that make you feel like you spent 4 hours in the gym working on your abs. People would walk into the museum and we would just wave them in because we didn’t have the breath to say hi.

My Dear Reader, these connections are important, I think, because they build a person into someone sympathetic and empathetic and more humane to others. The impact you leave on this world can be bigger than you know.

The thing about those connections, though, is that they don’t just move forward.  They move in all directions.  Music that you listen to can connect you backward through memories. Sharing a group experience (maybe like good theatre or concert or movie) can create a connection that spiderwebs out like a crack on a mirror.

No one is an island.  Even a deserted island is altered by the sea and wind and sun. I really hope Smokey Joe’s Cafe has an effect on the viewer to help them recall things that happened in their lives and I hope with all my heart that they are all good things.

Monday night, the full cast was together again and I got to hear “Stand By Me” and I almost broke down.  I did keep it together but I really just wanted to go home and knit (which is something my friend and I would talk about.)

Anyway, I am SO happy to report that #smojos is going REALLY well. I have 3 numbers to stage which are just ballads, but other than that, we are cleaning up numbers for the next two weeks.  After that, it is all run thru for nearly 4 weeks before we open.  We will be ready.

Oh, Kindest Reader, I look forward to connecting with you. What do you believe about connecting with others?

Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time!

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🎼 And I Believe I Got It Made…🎶

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Dear Gentle Reader,

Last night was the first night of #Smojos rehearsals that we worked on staging and I have to tell you, I was crazy nervous. My words were falling out of my head and leaving my mouth struggling to explain what I wanted. THEN, I would try and say a number and my hands show the wrong number.  For example, I was saying that I wanted 4 steps but was holding up 3 fingers. LOL.

I know I am putting way more pressure on myself than anything I have ever worked on before. I just want so badly for this production to read the way I see it in my head. I feel that if I can pull it off, people of all ages will connect with this amazing musical revue on an emotional level. The younger audience goers will find the messages in the music as relatable and the older audience members will revisit these songs and all the memories that come with it.

My Dear Reader, this hope I hold on to has been keeping me up at night but not in the way that makes me anxious.

😯Shocker, right?!

I am excited about the ideas and the transitions that are popping up in my dreams or as I begin to fall asleep. So much so that I make notes of them so that I can focus on sleeping, but the idea just continues to blossom and my excitement grows with it.

I mentioned it before, but I will say it again, I am very humbled to have this opportunity with this team with this cast. I may not be D.W. Washburn, but like him, “I believe I got it made.”

I don’t know how familiar you are with the song D.W. Washburn. The song is about a down on his luck man that a few well intentioned people try to help. He, however, doesn’t want any help because he finds comfort with alcohol and he is okay with that.

Here’s a fun fact, Kind Reader.

The first version of the song was actually released by The Monkees! The Monkees! The television comedy group released the song one month before it was released by The Coasters, who were regular singers of Leiber and Stoller songs.  The Coasters recorded the song nearly a year earlier but The Monkees put their version out first

Wanna hear?  The Monkees                 The Coasters

I do think that the best version is the one that is in the Smokey Joe’s Cafe show.  The orchestrations seem to be fuller and the addition of more voice ranges give it a richer sound, which makes it my favorite.

If you want to hear how good our version is, you’ll have to get tickets! 😜 Seriously, get those tickets!

 

 

 

 

Haven’t Done This In Five Years…

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Dear Gentle Reader,

I never thought I would want to have a seat in this position again. The amount of detailed organization that was needed for a large cast show was sheer madness. 😜 For me. I am a non linear thinker as I have mentioned a few times here. I bounce back and forth on things in my head, on paper, in projects, when I speak, pretty much in every way. It took a lot out of me.  I loved that show so much as it is one of my favorites of all times, which is why I wanted to try my hand at the director gig.

✂️Cut to today…

🎼We had orientation for Smokey Joe’s Cafe and we laughed a lot! Always a good sign. This is one of my top three favorite shows of all time. I had to do this.  HAD TO!

I am ecstatic with the cast that we have.  They are all such fun personalities and strong vocalists. My gut tells me there is something so special about this cast and I am sure that every director thinks that about their own cast. Having been in LOTS of casts and many of them were GREAT but, I have only ever felt something like this one other time. That show was Pippin from a couple of years ago.

So, after all the introductions and a rendition of Happy Birthday to one of our Music Directors, Sarah, we took a short break for costume measurements then the cast and our Vocal Director, Jonathan, began working on the opening number “Neighborhood.” 🎶

When the 4 guys in the quartet started singing the opening notes in harmony, I got chills. CHILLS, I tells ya!! As we move further into the song and the ladies come in and we get the group harmonies… I was getting teary eyed and almost cried. There is something magical in this group, and I am looking forward to the rest of the rehearsals!

Oh Dear Reader, I fail to have the words to explain how lucky I feel at this moment and the joy that I had on the drive home.

Have you ever had a moment where you just couldn’t fully explain your emotions? How did you “vent?” Celebratory dance party? Scream of triumph? Quietly sit and enjoy tears of joy? Let me know, so I have a way to get this joy out!

Until next time, Kind Reader. 🎶

 

Well That’s Not What I Wanted…

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Happy New Year, Gentle Reader!

Well, I had tried to upload a post about The Making of the Star Wars Holiday Special, but it didn’t work. I had been writing it for 3 days!

Wah, wah, waaaaahhh!

So, on that note, all I will say is that it was a crazy fun experience that was the first time that I had a chance to work on something that had such a heightened sense of absurdity. I LOVED it!!!

NOTE: When I say absurdity, I literally mean ridiculous, not the style of theatre as known by certain playwrights.

Of course, it helps that the other actors were incredibly talented. Our creative staff was clever and everyone had so many great ideas that took this cute and funny tribute to the holiday special into an experience to be had. There were so many references and inside jokes that I STILL laugh at when thinking about them.

One thing I will admit, I had never seen the special before and we watched it together as a cast before the first read through, Oh, Dear Reader!  What glorious madness it was. Not to be out done, though. Donnie and Marie Osmond did a Star Wars themed skit in first episode of season 3.  Mix up the two and pull out some of those cheesy gooey bits and you have most of the script.

You’ve never seen it, either? Well, it just so happened that someone was kind enough to share here it on Youtube. Just for fun, here is the Osmond skit too.

Sadly, this isn’t quite the post I wanted to make, but I wanted to get something written. Thank you, Kind Reader for your time. I hope that 2019 is full of wonderful and amazing things for you.

Until next time…

Time Goes By, So Slowly…

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Hello Dearest Reader!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving 🍗 holiday, if you celebrate.  

Oh my stars!  😜 It has been a crazy couple of weeks. We held our auditions and callbacks for Smojo’s.  We got the casting done along with phone calls out to potential cast by lunch time by the end of the second day of callbacks! 👍

The amount of talent that we had audition was amazing. We could easily have double cast the show. Possibly even triple cast it.  Saying I am beyond excited to work with this group of people is a massive understatement. 

It was tough to make the final cuts though.  We had such close competition for all roles except our bass for the quartet.  I think I really lucked out with the team that I have for Smojo’s.

We looked at EVERY THING!  👀 We had to. That’s how close it was.  We looked at how they handled their audition songs and/or the callback songs, how they adjusted to direction, interactions on and off the stage with one another, and conflicts. 👀

I just finished a preliminary rehearsal schedule that is crazy aggressive but I fully believe that we can easily get it done.

In other news, Gentle Reader, I have finally had a chance to see the madness that is the Star Wars Christmas Special! OH. MY. STARS!  😱 What madness, indeed… 😂

Tonight begins rehearsals for “The Making of the Star Wars Christmas Special” at Dragon Production Theatre in Redwood City. 💖 I am incredibly excited to be a part of this little bit of “holiday” insanity. 🎄 What makes it even more nerve wracking is that the Mayor of the city is excited to see it. No pressure. Oh, and I am playing Carol Channing for a scene! I am way too excited for that. LOL

In #survivaljob news, I popped into my shop for Black Friday to complete an inventory count because the building was closed and it was kind of nice to complete a massive project under the time limit that I allowed myself. 🕑

I wonder if that is why I figured we can fit our Smojo’s schedule 📆 to what I’ve pitched to my team? Speaking of minimized time, “Star Wars Christmas” is only a 3 week rehearsal period and one weekend of shows. 😓

I heard that time slows down the more you are moving, so I am giving it all to the Universe. My hope is that I can fit in everything I need to do in the next 3 months. 

If you would be so kind, Dear Reader, can you cross your fingers for me? 💖

When I survive this first project, I will write again.  Expect a LOT of images of SWCS on my Insta!

Cheers and until next time… LOL! Get it? Time… (I’m a dork. LOL)

Can’t wait, but…

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Hello Gentle Reader!

As you know, I am stepping into a director role once again for 🎷 Smokey Joe’s Cafe (which I lovingly call SmoJo’s). I didn’t think that I would direct again after Jesus Christ Superstar. 😔 It wasn’t the complete vision that I had and made way too many compromises for it to end up the way that I wanted. It wasn’t my vision, but I loved every person that worked so hard on it.  My only wish is that I didn’t compromise what I wanted. 😉

I had mentioned that I was hesitant to direct to a good friend the other day (even though I have already accepted the position, yes, I know how it sounds) and she had some great advice and said “Don’t be! You learn from every situation, so whatever happened last time, learn from it and don’t let it happen again! You will make mistakes with every show…”

As I sat listening to the talented people 🎤 belt out tunes during the initial auditons, the voice of self doubt kept popping up and asking “are you sure you want to call XYZ back for XYZ role?” or “are you sure you can bring the best out of these people?” 👿 It was hard to shut it down. I am so glad that I have the team that I have. We laughed so much with each other and were all excited by all the people we had come out and sing us a song. The laughter does SO much to help squelch that voice. Something about sharing laughs with people helps me bond and connect them. Do you ever notice how laughing settles nerves and most uncomfortableness? It helps me so much. 👍

My Dear Reader, I was initially worried that we didn’t have people banging down the doors to audition but the number of people that did, had brought a lot of great stuff to the table. When I got home, after the second day of auditions, I KNEW I had a cast in there.

I slept so good that night! LOL. 💤

Oh, Gentle Reader!  Knowing that I have 9 roles that can be filled 3 or 4 times over by these auditionees puts my nerves and heart at ease, but that stupid worry voice, while muffled, is still there. Am I the right person to lead these 9 people to a packed house of spectators that will be blown away?

Yes.

I am. Thank you ❤︎, Jillian, for giving me a different way to look at this! So once the decisions are hashed out, I will happily pour as much of my heart and soul into this show that I am asking the performers to give to the audience.

And I can’t wait for you to see what’s in store!

So my Kind Reader, what do you do to get over that little voice that makes you doubt yourself? Or maybe you don’t have that issue… if you don’t, damn! I would love to be you.  Well, like you. 😉

Until next time, Dear Reader.  I look forward to talking about the callbacks… but that’s another post. Muahahahaha!!!💖💖

 

My Bag of Lemons Rotted…

imagesThey say when life hands you lemons make the situation better by making lemonade. They don’t tell you what to do when the lemons begin to rot because you are taking care of life and time just. will. not. stop!

My Dear Gentle Reader, this summer was a hard few months to get through. I have had ongoing issues with my #survivaljob that makes me want to swat “decision makers” (I use that term Über sarcastically) with a rolled up newspaper in their face. I know, I know.  Violence never helps solve anything.

Then we had a visit from the cancer fairy. Luckily, we had medicine men and women fix THAT issue. Then there was the recovery which took the longest time and made me worry. That was all I did. Night and day. Day and night. Sometimes I still do. That whole mess floored me.  I wasn’t the patient but the caretaker with TONS of help from my mother in law and our incredible, wonderful friends. That level of stress really cuts a big gaping hole in the sails and just left me feeling like all I could do was hope the waves would take me close to land.

I have also had a number of deaths in the family that left me numb and again, unable to process. Just last week, I lost another cousin. I worry about the mental health of my father who seems to be getting a little more and more forgetful. I worry about the health of my mother, who takes care of my father on top of her job and most of the rest of my siblings. It gets SO overwhelming that I just turn it all off. Everything.

When I thought about writing a post, I would sit at a blank screen and just watch the cursor blink. I didn’t even read plays or work on my own show. I kind of abandoned Facebook and Twitter. Only occasionally did I make a post on Instagram.

I think that the worst is over. I still haven’t recovered that missing magic from March.  I don’t know if you recall that post, Dear Reader. That particular event was that I totalled my car in an accident and rolled it down a small hill. We walked away with some cuts and bruises and soreness, but otherwise intact. I don’t think I have still processed that because I still think about what I could have done to prevent it, and then I get worked up and anxious about it all over again. I know I have definitely lost even more magic.

I know that I don’t feel the same emotionally or physically.  I just feel a little “off” but hoping it is just cobwebs creeping into places I haven’t used in the last 10 months.

Things are looking up though! In 9 days, I have auditions for Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and two weeks after that, I begin rehearsals for my return to the stage.  I will be working on a production of the “Making of the Star Wars Christmas Special” at Dragon Theatre Productions. We open in December for one lone weekend.

I have my fingers crossed that the magic will find me again. I am officially excited for theatre to come back into my life as something more than just an observer. I need it.

If you have read this far, Kind Reader, I thank you for letting me bend your ear/eyes for a moment or two.

May the magic bring all your dreams to life.

Until next time, Gentle Reader…