🎼 Tell Me A Piece Of Your History That You’re Proud To Call Your Own… πŸŽΆ

My dad and his brothers and someone that one is dating

Hello Gentle Reader!

I hope you had a really fun Halloween!

It is my most favorite time of the year! Rehearsal time! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I am sorta kidding.

I know it has been a while, but I wanted to write a post tying in my recent trip to see family with my latest project. First though, I had to make sure that my day job was staying on track and we had a lot to do! I am learning a TON of stuff and sometimes my head swims with all the information but then my brain dries out and I have to refill it again. LOL. It is a pretty great problem to have.

Early October, I took my dad to go and see his siblings. It was a really fun road trip! I hadn’t seen him so animated and smiley in a really long time. His memory is going and he is totally aware of it. I think that makes it harder when you know you aren’t going to remember what you used to know. I stress about that all the time. Seriously, I worry because I forget stuff more often than I think I should. If it happens to be important, it will stick. Everything else? Slides away like it was on a non-stick pan.

My dad was worried that he wouldn’t get to see his brothers and sisters before he couldn’t remember them anymore. I had the time and I haven’t seen them myself in over 35+ years so I planned it out with my mom; and off we went!

My Dear Reader, I cannot express how incredible the transformation in him was. His walking pace quickened and he used his cane a little less. His speech was less halted. He literally brightened. I don’t know if it was because he was smiling all the time or what, but it was contagious. He still fumbled on his words because sometimes he forgets what things are called, or he can’t get the word to travel from his brain to his mouth.

One of the things that I noticed was that he had a lot of stories to share and he was a Talkie Thomas (I hate that only women’s names were used for talkative people.) Even when he couldn’t get right words out or he repeated phrases, my aunts and uncles paid attention. He is a natural born story teller, and to be honest, my whole family is. I learned so many things in that one weekend that I never knew. It wasn’t because I had forgotten them, which was shocking. I laughed so much hearing about parties they had while they were young. I was saddened learning about those that have passed not only recently, due to Covid-19 but in the past.

It wasn’t just the stories they told, but how they told them. The pitch in the voice when something funny was supposed to land. The sighs that broke through sentences that showed how deeply they still hurt or the senselessness for the loss. The excitement they had sharing something that was unbelievable.

I think that is a lot of what my dad is missing now. With everyone working and him being stuck at home because he might get lost or have a seizure or something, he doesn’t have someone to talk to or do things with. I try to go over when I can but I forgot how much time you surrender to rehearsals and research for shows.

The other thing I noticed was how similar the communication dynamics are at my immediate family functions as well as extended. Did my siblings and I learn this from our parents and their siblings?

In my current project, A Nice family Christmas by Phil Olson, this family unit is all about avoiding emotions, and their communication skills are pretty terrible. Is it a learned thing handed down from parents to children? I don’t think it is just about them wanting to avoid issues, but the complexities of life and time that prevents them from communicating and bonding more.

My character is the oldest and favorite son, a doctor, self sabotages, loves his mother but keeps her at an arm’s length so she doesn’t see his faults, has an addictive personality, 5 months sober after 2 stints in rehab, prone to emotional outbursts, in the middle of a separation and may or may not have OCD.

He’s has a lot going on, AND this is a comedy, so finding out how to bring all of that together has been challenging! It is a great challenge but I am struggling to find that perfect balance of being able to be funny while maintaining all of those other layers bubbling under just enough to show through. So, as you can imagine, writing this all out had to sit on the back burner for a hot week or six. 😳😳

So, My Lovely Reader, I look back on that family visit and try to recall all that my dad was working through. Joy, camaraderie, excitement, sadness, forgetfulness, hope, love, avoidance, and anger. He went through so many feelings but it always came back to that happiness and contentment.

Our opening night is the Friday after Thanksgiving! I just hope I found the right formula for this character by then. He is the most complicated character whose story I have the privilege of sharing. I don’t want to look back at him and say, “sorry buddy, you were not as fully realized as I wanted to make you.” That would make me really stop and question my skills as a storyteller…πŸ˜”I would wonder if it was just because this was the first show back after so long. Or could it be that there were issues of my own that I haven’t resolved yet, so it is preventing me from accessing those feelings out of self preservation.

But to dwell on that now may only solidify the future and bring that to fruition. So I banish those thoughts and say bring me my challenge!

Until the next time, Kind Reader, stay safe and alert. Treat your self and other with kindness… AND WISH ME LUCK!!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

🎼Just Let Go, Let It Flow, Let It Flow, Let It Flow, Just Let It Go…🎢

Hello Gentle Reader!!

Wow! June and half of July flew by and I didn’t realize how intense it would be. Between the last post and now, I got offered an incredible new job, had a family vacation for the first time EVER, and had a birthday. Then I saw In The Heights three times. πŸ˜‚. That gave me all sorts of feels and things to think about that I froze up from writing because it was a lot of personal things that I realized I wasn’t dealing with or hadn’t admit that I haven’t dealt with.

But this particular post is a review of the Celadon published book, Love People Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works. I love books that talk about creativity, like where it comes from and such.

What intrigued me was that this was a book about “minimalizism” not creativity. However, it did have a chapter on how it can influence creativity and it did not disappoint.

This book immediately drew me in. For something that seems like such a dry topic, the book is filled with not only useful information, but shared the emotional and psychological attachments that come with letting go of things that clutter up not only your home but your mind. It even talks about the not so obvious clutter distractions, like technology. There were so many nuggets of gold that I mined from these pages.

The minimizing of the clutter itself is obviously a big part of the book but the other chapters speak to the different aspects that get freed up if we were to remove all of those distractions, like our relationships with others, our perception of what we value, money, and facing our personal truths (no matter how hard it can be.) The experience is never quite the same for people because we are “… three dimensional beings living in a world of two dimensional expectations.”

What I loved about the book was that it challenged my idea of what creativity was. To me, creativity is the making of something new out of something that already exists or out of nothing at all. They propose that creativity is the asking and answering of questions presented by a problem or concern that needs to be addressed. Up until this point, I would have only considered that problem solving. But, what do you need to solve problems? Ideas!

It also made me rethink about the types/amount of work I do. I tend to try and do a little bit of everything and make little progress on each of them, which makes me discouraged and eventually end up creating things that are way, WAY below the quality that I had hoped they would be. “It is not enough to be busy; so is everyone else. What are you focused on?”* I would take on different work projects in addition to all the theatre stuff I would do and find that I would say ‘I’m too busy’ to friends or family inviting me to do stuff. I love the notion that I can say no to stuff and focus on only what makes me super happy to work on. This would allow for a more healthy work/life balance as well.

While the main reason I was interested this book was the creativity aspect, I took away so much from each of the different sections. Someday, I would LOVE to do the project where you pack up your entire home like you are moving and only unpack the things you need as you need them (including furniture) for a month then donate the rest of the stuff. I don’t think that Perry would let me. πŸ˜‚

Anyone that feels like they can/want simplify their lives more will definitely find this book useful. I hesitate to say to go minimalist because that isn’t quite necessary. But hey if you want to give it a shot, by all means… I know I will still have a lot of things as I get rid of stuff but I am prepared to toss or donate a lot of things that I was keeping because I thought I could repurpose them. To jump back to that busy versus focus point the book made, I know I won’t be doing any repurposing anytime soon, so I can focus on doing other projects. So all that repurpose stuff is just clutter. Thanks to the authors, collectively known as “The Minimalists”, I am looking forward to this project and all the great things that will be a by product of it.

Have you ever wanted to declutter your home? Or have you decluttered already? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below! Give the projects in this book a try! Once I get to actually do the projects, I will definitely post about the whole process.

Big thank you’s to Celadon Books for sending me this book!

*Millburn & Nicodemus. p. 228

🎼I Will Be Right Here Waiting For You🎢…

Hello Gentle Reader!

The other day I was driving home from work. Usually I have my music on my phone playing on random for all the tracks on the device and I have about 30 gigs of just music downloaded onto the SD card. Imagine my surprise when a non-song begins to play.

By non-song, I mean something that is not played on the radio, an audiobook chapter, or even a YouTube video. What began playing was the first run through of music from our production of Little Shop of Horrors last year, (technically, 2 years ago because we premiered on NYE 2019 before the chime of midnight, I guess.) For those that are unfamiliar, when you work on a musical, there comes a point when you try to sing through all of the music for the show in one rehearsal to see what needs some fine tuning or clarification.

Anywho, it made me really miss the cast and the theatre something fierce. Then my eyes decided that it was the perfect time to start burning so I had to blink a lot to make the burning go away. I happened to catch some lady staring at me while we were waiting for the light to turn green. Her face read as “WTF?” so I can only imagine the faces I was making. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

As the country continues our tortoise-like pace to herd-immunity (I really don’t like that term,) I can’t help but to be so excited for all the projects that I am seeing audition notices for. Even the shows that I know I am not interested in doing, I am just thrilled that the show is happening. It’s like me being excited for you to eat a delicious dinner that I am not invited to. I am just being a cheerleader on the side.

Can I just say, Dear Reader, that while I can’t mention the show, I recently just had something offered to me for later this year? I am over the moon to have SOMETHING on the books for 2021. Now, I just have to be practice a little patience and wait for rehearsals to begin in a few months. Hopefully then I can say what I will be working on.

I think what I can say is from reading the script is that no two performances are going to be the same! πŸ˜„ However, one thing that I do know is that even if everyone is vaccinated, some people will continue to stay away from crowded areas and events, so I am really intrigued on how this is all going to work out. Will the show have a live audience or will it be live-streamed? Will an audience even want to come to a theatre to see it? What happens if the ticket sales are hindered by the people that are wary of live events still? I get it. I can’t do it, but I get it. I have so many questions and worries for the theatre companies, but I am still super optimistic about the great return!

I already let anxiety and fear prevent me from doing things I would have loved to do before the pandemic and it has given me a different outlook on what I missed from just that, so I won’t be secluding myself from getting back on that stage or mingling with casts and friends. I am really looking forward to hugging my friends. A LOT! πŸ˜‚

Getting my second dose on Thursday and then I wait. I will sit in the corner of the room and clock watch until the time I can meet my new cast mates and we get to play! Or until I can go out brunching with friends. πŸ₯“πŸ³πŸ₯‚ What? I love to brunch! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

What is something that you can’t wait for once things return to normal-ish? Is it something that is done in big events, or is it something as simple as hugging a friend?

Until next time, Kind Reader, stay safe and alert, check up on your friends, and practice kindness. We are all in this together…

❀️

🎼All Around Me Are Familiar Faces, Worn Out Places, Worn Out Faces🎢…

Hello Gentle Reader,

I hope this finds you well.

Wow, talk about March Madness! I have been trying to wrap my head around the senseless deaths that are plaguing the world. First there was Sarah Everard’s shocking murder. What this brought up was the fact that women are still justifiably living in fear and worry. Hearing an old friend’s confession of how many times men have forced themselves on her was heartbreaking.

Then came the Atlanta hate crime. A terrorist attack on 3 different spas where 8 people were murdered. This world lost Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue, because of the fragile white male ego. Yes, I said Hate Crime and Terrorist.

I have no words on the why’s and who’s. There are plenty of brilliantly put words all over social media by others with a better grasp on the situation.

So, Kind Reader, I would like to ask for your thoughts on this idea…

Arts classes (ANY OF THEM) teach people how to express themselves in a constructive way. This is why I think they are imperative to early education, but not just elementary schools. They should be mandatory throughout an educational career. They should not be electives, or viewed as a throwaway class. They should be held in as high regard as sports.

Dear Reader, why do people argue that sports teaches self esteem, teamwork, and leadership as if that is the only way to learn this? To this I say two things: 1. You have never been a part of a production, huh? 2. Sports has limited chances to teach leadership, usually isn’t it only the captains or star players?

So a big poo poo to that belief.

Music classes have been proven to enhance math and language skills resulting in higher test scores. Photography classes teach one observance and inspires self esteem as well as stress relief. Art classes promote physical and psychological wellbeing. In some, it can help with fine motor skills or improve cognitive functions. Dance class teaches discipline, self expression, boosts cognitive function, physical health, and boosts mood.

Speaking from my own experience in theatre classes, I can say for certain that theatre has taught me empathy for others INCLUDING THOSE OF DIFFERING CULTURES, controlling my own emotions, thinking quickly on my feet, improvising as well as some of the same things the other Arts classes offer. As far as teamwork goes, when you work on a production, any person in the show is a teammate. You are all working together toward a common goal, just like in any sport. When it comes to leadership opportunities, you have a slew of leaders: director, set designer, stage manager, master carpenter, lighting designer, costumer/designer, and producer just for plays. If it is a musical, add choreographer, dance captain, music director, vocal director not to mention the possiblity of assistants. All of those people are leaders in their area that are AGAIN working as a team toward the same goal. The end result of that goal, heck even the smaller tasks completed throughout the process, result in accomplishments that foster self esteem.

With all that being said, I will repeat: Arts classes should be mandatory throughout a person’s educational career. I can’t help but to wonder about my certainty that the world would be a better place already if this were being done. I honestly do not think I am wrong about it. That being said, I am not foolish enough to believe that it would solve all of the world’s problems. But I bet it would help…

Thank you, Gentle Reader, for once again letting me bend your ear. Do you think sports should be more important than the Arts? Can you help me understand why? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time, stay safe and alert as well as kind. Check in on your friends, especially those of AAPI and BIPOC backgrounds.

Be an ally.

🎼Now I Hear The Music, Close My Eyes, I Am Rhythm🎢…

Hello Kind Reader!

I hope this finds you all well and thriving. (Didn’t that just sound like a Kaiser Permanente commercial?)

Many, MANY years ago, I had told a good friend that I wanted to do a cabaret act or possibly a one person show. I have ideas for both, but was always too afraid to write anything down. Now, I don’t view myself as a singer, so that presented itself as a self sabotaging obstacle. I am glad that I can recognize those when they come up. Do I do anything about it? Ummm, not so much, but I am trying to get better. I consider myself an actor that can move and carry a tune. Sure, I need a bucket to hold all the notes, but that is beside the point. Most casting people see me as the funny sidekick or the goofball in a show. These last few years, I have been trying really hard to stay away from the comedic roles because I want to be seen as more than just the funny fat guy.

After years of playing that part, I started being hyper critical of others that were stuck in that same part and seeing if they were trying to differentiate the parts in some way or just relying on the same old tricks. That is what started my kick to not be the comic relief if I could help it. There were times when the part was just too good to pass up, but I have also been lucky enough to have found the right people that see that I can do more.

So when the chance came to actually do a cabaret show with some friends, I leapt at the chance! And I had a blast!

But that isn’t why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to share with you, my Dear Reader, some of the ideas that I had for that long time dreamed about cabaret show.

I had wanted to open up with the song “What A Party” from one of my favorite shows, Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party to introduce people in the “cast” after a small calm ballad verse and chorus, like “Flashdance (What A Feeling)” or a comedic verse and chorus of “Total Eclipse of the Heart

Then we would all sing a group song or two then they would sprinkle in solos throughout the show. I have always wanted the ending of the first act to be “Saved” from Smokey Joe’s Cafe.

Then to open Act 2, I wanted to have this sort of corset and tux tails combo costume. Think of it as a tuxedo vest that has a corset body rather than the traditional body of a vest and instead of ending like a regular vest or waistcoat would, the back would have tuxedo tails. The neck would be like a sort of medieval pirate shirt ruffle with the sleeves. Ok, do you got that image in your head? If I could draw a straight line, I would totally make a sketch for you. This sounds like a unique piece right?

OK! SO! I would saunter in singing “Paris Original.” This song is about having an original, one of a kind, Parisian dress and looking good for someone. Then another cast mate would come in with the same costume in the middle of a phrase and just take over the song. Then a third would come from back of the audience and take over the song in the same outfit and play with the audience to up the stakes. Next a fourth. And from there the song just becomes about one upping one another, which if done right, could be hilarious! What I really love about this idea is that unlike the production it is from, this will have all genders. I don’t want to say what I actually see happening in the ending just in case I actually get to do this. LOL!

Then I would love to have some short anecdotes from the cast a la A Chorus Line which would then plunge us back into the singing. Then I would love to end the show with a big tap number of some sort because I have yet to see a cabaret with tap dancing in it. Most likely something from 42nd Street because that show is so iconic.

I was also toying with the idea of having a moment of the improve game “scenes from a hat” from the show Whose Line Is It Anyway? Yet another way to get the audience involved.

Well, I said wanted to tell you a few of my ideas, NOT all of them, because one day, I still hope to pull this off. I just don’t know when. But rest assured, I will let you know. The more I think about it, I really like the “Total Eclipse of the Heart” possibilities.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with any of the songs that I have listed, I made sure to make links so you can hear them. I really need to find someone to sketch out that corset tails thing. LOL!

I was supposed to be a part of an upcoming cabaret, but because of my covid recovery, that put me on the sidelines. Pretty bummed about it, but who doesn’t want to be at 100% when performing, right? I love the fact that the opportunity was there and that should another happen, I will be in that line up. Just have to wait a little longer. πŸ‘ The take away is that I am excited to do something that I was afraid of. I can’t wait to support the upcoming event. You can too! It will be on WVLO Musical Theater’s Facebook Live. The event happens February 26 at 7pm Pacific and 4pm Eastern. It is called “From Our Hearts to Your Homes.”

My Darling Reader let me know what you think of those ideas in the comments below. Or if you are handy with a sketch pad and pencil, show me what did my description make you think of for that costume in “Paris Original.” As always stay safe and aware!

Until next time!