🎼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. 😂😂

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! 😄 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! 😂

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. 🥓🍳🥂 What? I love to brunch! 😂😂

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. 👍 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!

🎼 Won’t Let A Stranger Give Me A Social Disease 🎶…

Hello Dear Reader!

Forgive my absence for the last few weeks. I ended up contracting coronavirus at the end of January. It was so hard! I have never been so sick that I couldn’t do anything. I wanted nothing more than just to be sleeping. I didn’t want to eat or look at any sort of social media. I didn’t want to read. It just felt best when I was lying down and alone. At one point, during the first week, I had terrible back pain. It was so bad that I couldn’t get comfortable and get any rest. As long as I was lying down, I was ok, but as soon as I needed to talk or move, I had a hard time catching my breath. It felt like it took forever just to get the simplest sentence out. Finally, I called the advice nurse and she urged me to go to the ER because my breathing was more labored than it should be. So it was off to the emergency room where I spent a good seven or eight hours.

It was a little scary because they took me outside to this tent structure that was used for covid patients. The doctors there were very kind and really upbeat. There weren’t many other people when I arrived but after they got what seemed like 20 vials of blood from me, four other patients came in. The doctor gave me two bags of fluids to curb my dehydration and injected me with something that was to help with the back pain. After about 15 minutes, the pain subsided and I was finally able to lay comfortably so I tried to get some sleep, but with all that was going on, I couldn’t. They wheeled me to another part of the tent and did a chest X-ray. The doctor came back after a couple of hours and said that it looks like I had pneumonia. His final assessment was that I had Covid induced pneumonia.

Even when I had regular pneumonia, I still was able to go to rehearsals and get through the three or four hour block of time. This was something way more painful than the regular illness. It made me question everything. I wondered what I was doing with my life. I couldn’t find anything enjoyable to focus on except for a sweet little note from my friends, Nancy and Riley. I put it next to my bed so I could see it all the time. About four days after the ER visit, I began to feel like a fog was clearing. At one point, I felt like I was time traveling and was in random places that didn’t feel like dreams. I know what dreams are like, I remember them pretty well. These felt like different times and foreign lands. Usually when I dream, when the “scene changed” it would just morph and suddenly the setting would be different. In this “dream time” I was literally whisked away through a kind of portal to the new setting. It was the most fascinating and unnerving thing I have ever experienced.

I know, I know, Gentle Reader. It sounds so bizarre.

In the last week, as I got better, I began to want to sing. I know I couldn’t yet because I didn’t have any diaphramatical support since the coughing made breathing difficult. I started by just trying to hum along with the songs from Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Breathing and humming along in the same phrases that the singer would use. I gradually had made it to actually singing. I still have some coughing fits and my range isn’t what it was, but I can feel the strength coming back. I continue to use musicals to help with my breathing and I wonder if anyone else has used singing to try and “get back to normal.”

So, Kind Reader, have you found ever used any of the Arts to help heal you? I feel like having that little hand written note helped me to begin to heal. I traced the letters and hearts. Then, with all that love I felt in that note, I turned to things that I loved to help me continue to heal. Call me crazy, but I honestly think without that small note of love and kindness, I would have taken a lot longer to heal. I even completed a 45 minute online workout and only had to stop once.

I don’t know where I am going with this, but I needed to get this out. I thank you once again, Dear Reader for letting me bend your ear. Until next time, stay safe and aware. Let me know if you have ever used something you love to get better from an illness in the comments.

🎼Heaven Knows I Was Just A Young Boy, Didn’t Know What I Wanted To Be…🎶

Hello Dear Reader!

I trust these last three weeks of the new year have been better than the first, no? I hope they have been. Things around here have been a cavalcade of emotions, I tells ya! What a first week of the year! Not only did we still have regular COVID to worry about, but now there are new strains? We lost 3 members of our family. There was an attempt at preventing the confirmation of a real leader-like president. There were happy moments with yummy dinners. Online visits with friends. Text message conversations with besties. Video messages with besties.

After that first week, things seem to have started looking better. Something that I have come to really enjoy lately, while talking with my longest friend from childhood, is the revelation of things that I had long forgotten.

The first high school that I had attended didn’t really have a theatre department. It was barely a class at best when I first started going there. I believe that the three years that I attended, it had 3 different teachers. But that is something that I can’t stand behind 100%. 😂😂

Each one had their good and bad, but I can only remember that last one had said the words “there’s no reason why you couldn’t be on that stage doing that too.” The day previous we had gone to the school performance of Pippin, which was life changing for me. I had never been able to sit so close to the stage where I felt like I could feel the Leading Player’s energy. I was in awe as I watched him charm his way through the show. I had never wanted to do something so bad. I feel horrible that I can’t remember her name, but I can see her face when I stop and think about her. No WAIT!!! Her name was Mrs. Current!!!! 👍👍 Woot!

I also recall that the first teacher claimed he was a working actor, but he didn’t really teach us anything that I can say was impactful. He definitely gave the impression that he didn’t want to help people become better at acting and I was really mad about that. This was the first time that I was able to take a “class” to learn how to be better at something I was doing since grade school. I couldn’t afford to go to any real acting classes, so I had to wait until high school. The only critiques that I can recall him saying are “You need to know what you’re talking about” or “How much time did you spend on this?” Each of those were usually directed at the other students. To my friends and I, it would be a “that was nice” or the occasional “good job.” I mean, that’s nice and all, but he never broke it down to say what was good, or how he came to the conclusion that the piece was ‘nice.’ Ugh, to say he irked me is an understatement.

Finally, in senior year of high school, I transferred to a school that had a whole department dedicated to performing arts and it was where I met John Healy. I learned so much in that one year than the entire previous three. When I think back on those years, I may not have learned much from those teachers, but I remember being allowed to perform pretty much anything I wanted during the first three years. I did a John Leguizamo piece that was SO not high school appropriate. 😳😳 My friends and I acted out the entire first scene of Hocus Pocus and we were the Sanderson Sisters, harmonies and all. WERK!🤌 I can’t remember any sort of “fun” feelings like that during my final year of high school with those new friends, so I guess that was where the trade-off was.

I used to believe that if I stopped and looked at the past, it wouldn’t do much to help me get ahead, so I rarely looked back. However, I am finding that this abstract portrait of my life that I am painting can’t be really seen or fully enjoyed if I continue to work with my nose pressed up against the canvas focusing on the details of only the right now. What I am learning from this is that while it is nice to have a certain color in one spot of your painting, maybe by adding it to another area of the canvas it can make your work of art all the more beautiful.

When my uncle, aunt and cousin passed away earlier this year from COVID-19, my sister texted me pictures of them and while the memories are super fuzzy, they made me smile. Hold your loved ones close, Gentle Reader, and step back from your paintings every once in a while to see if there are any colors missing from spots.

I hope the start of 2021 is proving to be better than last year. Mine may have started rocky, but things are looking up. Thanks for letting me bend your ear once again.

Until next time, Kind Reader, stay safe and aware. Don’t forget to create. ❤️❤️❤️