New Year, New Me… Wait! NO!!

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🎉 Happy New Year, Gentle Reader!

Every new year finds articles and lists of the same old cliché of “new year, new me.” Ugh!😞😴 I get it. All the resolutions and fresh starts and what not. It makes sense. It really does.  Do I really need a “new” me?

I used to fall into that same sort of pit of quicksand every year.  

2017 was different though.  

Yes, I know last year was a political poop show for America for we are now “‘Merica; Inc.🇺🇸” No longer the land of the free and home of the brave that we used to be since we are losing freedoms quicker than a tapper can shuffle off to Buffalo. But that is not what I want to talk about.😶

2017 allowed me the opportunity to check off a bucket list role that I didn’t ever think I would get to play AND one that was a little lower on my list than the top 10 but still just as incredible.  In addition to Paul (A Chorus Line)✨ and Hysterium (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)🃏, I got to add Carl Hanratty (Catch Me if You Can) and Cheech (Bullets Over Broadway)✍ to my resume. All of which I am incredibly grateful for and proud of and it just happened that I had received pretty good reviews for.😄😄😄

Now to the point, Dear Reader, because that last paragraph sounded super braggadocios. In all four shows, I followed my tried and true methods of preparation and instinct to build my roles. That process has gotten me into some wonderful patterns and discoveries of myself and my character choices. I also was lucky enough to work two of those shows with another actor that is on her own journey of discovery. 👍

One day during rehearsals for Bullets, she told me that she was inspired by me because I live honestly and fully in my passions. 🙀I was floored.  What can you say to something like that? It is one of those moments that made me look at the way I live. I love who I am.  💖Some people may not, but I do.  So why in the world would I need a “new” me?  What I would like, however, is a better me.  One may ask, well isn’t that the same thing? No. It isn’t. A new me would imply that I don’t like enough of myself and that I want to overhaul most of what makes me me. I just want upgrades to certain things.  There are times I get too comfortable in my methods and routines that when things get a little shaken up, it turns my world wackadoo. I don’t know about you, Kind Reader, but when that happens, I stress out and worry that my whole way of prepping is going to fail. That is SO not a good mindset to be in.  It just so happened that I had that experience twice last year.  In the end, it was a wonderful learning tool for myself, but if I can get out of my “usual” I think I would be more effective and efficient for projects that have a different pattern than what I am used to. I am planning to head back into study mode for 2018. Because I want to be sure that I am learning and growing, I decided that it would be beneficial to stay off of the boards while getting my system upgrades. I want to be as open to this new information as possible.  I feel that jumping from show to show like I have done the past 6 years would divide my attention too much to accomplish my task as fully as I would like. So not new, just better. 

So forget all that new year, new me, Gentle Reader.  I am sure You are a pretty amazing person already.  👏👏 So what do you think about the “New Me” madness that media tries to shove on us? If you would like to, which one of your “files” would you like to upgrade? 

Until next time, Dear Reader…

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This is, perhaps, my most favorite picture taken of me. This is wholly and fully everything about me in one shot. Thank you to the amazing Rhona McFayden!

Dear Gentle Reader,

Hello!  How have you spent the last few weeks? I have been working through the closing of one show 😞, starting a new job 💵, and beginning rehearsals for a new show😄, so life has been a hurricane of madness!  But it is all working out in the right direction, so I shan’t complain about it. How can I, when there are worse things in the world?

🎭A Chorus Line ended three weeks ago, and still this week, I am reminded of the show by people who happened to have seen it. I am grateful for the many very kind words of the show and my portrayal of Paul.  It means the world to me.  The thing is that they don’t mean so much because it may be validation of whether or not I am good at acting, but that the approach that I took with the big monologue to make it my very own while keeping true to the show’s legacy, and as powerful as it should be, worked. I am a very physical actor.  I gesture.  I use all of my body for everything and not just my face to tell a story.  This means that to do the monologue the same way it is traditionally done would totally ring false in me, which could show in the performance.  It was a chance I really didn’t want to take, especially since this was such a personal role to play. So, I set it up the way that felt good to me and when I rehearsed it for the first time the director, Bill Starr, loved it. There were, of course, tweaks made and suggestions, but what we were able to wring out of each sentence felt like truth. And it felt right. For me. The hope was that the audience wouldn’t be pushed away in this version.

Then, something remarkable happened. People began telling me that as the monologue went on (the first few times I rehearsed it, it felt like it went on and on and on…) people said they began to lean in; they wanted to know more about Paul’s story! ❤️ I am certain that there were people that wanted it to be traditional, and I get it, but they didn’t dislike what they saw. What at first seems like a wonderful dauntingly incredible challenge became a piece that I am extremely proud of.  I have loved ALL of the amazing opportunities that I have had but to say I am proud (which I almost never do) of a piece of work is rare. There are literally a handful of pieces that would qualify.

And that being said wraps up my second run of A Chorus Line. I loved the show the first time I was in it and I loved it this time around too. So many wonderful new people that I can now cheer on and be a fan of. ❤️ That’s one of my favorite things about theatre.

Dear Reader, last month, I made mention of job interviews and the need for adjusting my financial course 💵.  As I hinted at in the beginning of this post, I got the job! I am excited for all of the new challenges and security this will bring, but first I have to play catch up with the two and a half months of work that has been left behind while this position was vacant. 😜BUT this is not a blog about working stiffs, so let us carry on!👍

Two weeks ago, we began the process for Catch Me If You Can. Kind Reader, if you have seen this show, please tell me, did you find it strange that nearly every song has to have a scene in the middle of it?  While going through the script, I found myself wondering what Terrance McNally, Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman were thinking. There is incredible music throughout this show and it feels like it abruptly stops the number to add the scene.  Maybe that was just because I was reading through and making notes and whatnot.  I shall keep you posted on the findings of this query. The other thing that struck me was that even though the script is only 120 pages, if FEELS longer. I am curious if that is because of the song scenes. Only time shall tell.

Good Reader, if you have input on the Catch Me question, I beg you, let me know in the comments below!  Am I the only one in thinking this script setup is awkward? Does the show feel like it has a Lord of the Rings-esque ending? Do you get what I mean by that reference? GAH!! The questions seem to never end…

Until I find my sanity, Dear Reader… 💖

A Lot Can Happen in 14 Days…

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Dear Gentle Reader,

My how the last two weeks have flown by!

The Ghost Light Project was kicked off…    It was announced that there are plans to cut funding to the National Endowments of the Arts and of Humanities…    The circus is going to pack up the tent for the last time…  A Chorus Line rehearsals have started to get intense… Went out dancing at the local Goth club… They call today super bowl Sunday (but I like to think of it as mini Gaga concert day)…  welllll maybe the circus thing was a little longer than two weeks.  I actually believe it happened before the Ghost Light Project.

I am not a big sports fan, so I watch “the big game” for the commercials because, well, they are like mini-mini movies and some of them are VERY clever, well done, or even moving. And when I say watch, I totally mean that I fast forward the game on DVR. 😀Then of course, there is my Gaga rocking out the halftime show! I was shocked that there was no Doritos commercial.  Usually they have one of the best spots so it made me a wee bit disappointed. Maybe they aired it during the pregame time, but all that stuff doesn’t need any extra real estate on the DVR.

For the brief time that I have this evening, I just want to take a moment to talk about the GLP. Then later in the week I will write about some of the other things I mentioned.

Aaaannnd moving on…

Well, as I was doing my errands on January 19th, I just happened to find myself near the downtown San Jose area around the 5 o’clock hour, so I joined the party at the Hammer Theater.  I was so jazzed because I thought this was going to be a big event based on the message it was sending. When I arrived, honestly, I was taken aback that the gathering was rather small. However, that being said, I do have to mention that the publicity was a bit on the down low.

After some opening remarks, there was some mingling, and sadly I use that term loosely, it was more like people keeping close to those that they knew.  I was trying to find representatives of the other companies that are near the area but was having a really hard time.  I was curious to know what plans the companies had for the GLP. I was surprised that this task was proving so difficult. Surprised and a little saddened. However, Dear Reader, I do have to have to say that one of the representatives for the Hammer Theater was a great host.  I feel terrible that I lost the paper on which I had written her name. She was  great at checking in with the guests that were there and making sure that everyone had a chance to fill out the GLP “I Am” pages, making small talk and offering up refreshments.

I did love all the “I Am” pages.  It was a beautiful sight.

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All of the pictures I took of the “I Am” pages had the same effect thanks to that doggone wonderful disco ball’s reflections, so the top is all wonky. So bummed about that. Sadly, the above is the best one that I can share. My “I Am” page said “I Am a son, brother, and husband.  I Fight for the Arts, all of those that can’t fight, and Equality for ALL” (and based on that sentence, the Oxford comma. LOL)

There was a great little jazz combo from San Jose State University that was jamming in the corner. They were fantastic.  On the first landing of the stairs that lead up to the balcony there was a ghost light and people could snap a shot of themselves with it, but I didn’t see many people taking up that offer. I did like the visual though.

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Gentle reader, I so wish that I had been nearer to the Saratoga Theater so that I could attend the event with my friends there. I still have designs on finding out what the theaters in downtown are planning for the project.  I also still want to talk about the circus and the NEA but those will have to wait for another time.

Did you celebrate the Ghost Light Project? If you were to fill out one of the “I Am”  pages, what would you write? Oh, not sure what the “I Am” page is… well..

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Now that you know, what are you gonna write?  Who do you fight for? Let me know in the comments below.

And until next time, Gentle Reader, I wish you a good night. I need to get to bed, I think learning the bows for A Chorus Line has left my personal tank on E.

 

Walking Into 2015 With Nothing But Optimism…

Image from SunSigns.com
Image from SunSigns.com

So far everything that I have read for the Chinese Zodiac Dragon and for the astrological sign of Cancer have been about 85% positive! There are some things to heed during the later part of the year, but isn’t that always the case?

I am truly looking forward to the upcoming year, but you can’t look forward without looking back.

Thank you to the many, many people that helped to make 2014 so incredible.

First, thank you to the amazing cast and fellow staff for Jesus Christ Superstar!!  You were so wonderful to work for.  You thought me so much about myself and what I still need to learn.  You were fun and I loved watching you shine on stage.

Thank you to my WVLOMT family that always makes me feel welcome whether it is as a staff or cast member.

Thank you to Bill Starr.  You are such a great person to work with.  I adore you and thank you for all of your encouragement, advice, and friendship.  Thank you for the opportunity to bring your vision of Bobby Child to life.

Thank you to the cast and staff of Crazy for You! When I felt like it was too much for me, watching you all work so hard made me dig deeper because I didn’t want to let you down.  I hope to work with all of you again and again and again.

Thank you to Jen Maggio and Myra Diamond for allowing me to be a part of A Chorus Line even though I missed auditions. It was another fantastic experience working for both of you.

Thank you to the cast of A Chorus Line! You are such beautiful wonderful souls and I was very lucky to share the stage with you.  I am so glad no one actually got a case of the sexy ebola.

Thank you to James Kopp and the cast of Super Villain! I have never laughed so hard during the process of putting a show on its feet.  It was a joy to get to do another play.  I hope I get to do more.  Like James is always saying, “I ain’t in my 20’s anymore.”  To you young’uns like, Haley and Gaby, thank you for always pretending I am! hahahahahaha!!

Special Thank You’s to Aaron Weisberg, Kevin Brownstein, Valerie Valenzuela-Misra, Ronnie Misra, Judy Steinle, Mike Brothers, Andrea Furtado, Michelle Elrick, Ms. Rhona McFayden, David Lamcke, Amanda Vogel, Emily Goes, Gabby Au, Susanna Wagner, Elizabeth Lawrence, Nancy Kwong, Cameron Kwong, Riley Kwong, Emily Pye  Christine Ormseth, Amy Root, Samantha Carson, and Tammy Mackenzie.  You have all offered help and support throughout the year and it meant the world to me.  There’s no particular order, so don’t read into it. LOL!

Most importantly, Thank you to my munster and my BFF’s (the T.P.B. and J.S.)  for never making me feel worse that I never had time to hang out.  You are the other half of my life that keeps me going.  So much of my heart belongs to you all for keeping me sane and grounded and well rounded. Without you fabulous people, I would be lost. I love you.

So 2015, bring on Life! I have my arms open ready to hug the hell out of you.  I am excited for what’s to come.  I don’t make resolutions.  I feel like when I need to change something about myself, I don’t need to wait til the beginning of a new year.  I just want to continue carrying on like I have the past three years.  Theatre and friends! That is all I need.

May you all have SAFE and fun and wonderful New Year celebrations.

For the world, I shall still wish for peace and coexistence. It is the same wish every year. I will still hope that mankind will finally open its eyes and hearts to one another.

I wish you everything you want in 2015.

Now let’s go get it!

Image courtesy of Sunsigns.com
Image courtesy of Sunsigns.com

🎼 I’m Gonna Be A Part Of B.A…

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So this afternoon is the closing performance of my first show at the Pear Avenue Theatre Company, Super Villain.  It has been a blast for sure.  It was incredible to work on something that was totally nerdy and way edgier that anything that I have ever worked on in the past.  Also, to do it with a company that I never had worked with before makes it that much more memorable. We had some audiences that were just average but we had two nights where the viewers were just catching every reference that was being thrown out there and in turn, we the cast, had a blast.  We did have a night where the laughs were few and far between, but most were appreciative of the show.  I am apprehensive/anxious about how the show will go over on today’s audience.  I know, I know!  I can’t control that issue, but I really want this show to close on a high note.  So I have my fingers crossed that the average age of the viewer is closer to me than to my grandmother.

After my realization/breakdown with A Chorus Line, I, in earnest, began to seek out different theatre companies and opportunities to work with.  I sought advice from my dear friend, Bill Starr, and ran with it. While it scares the ever-loving bejeezus out of me, I forced myself to try those places.  I am really glad I did.

While I have had only a handful of auditions at other places (okay, okay! It was only three auditions in total) one of them has extended it’s hand out to me and offered me a role that I have had on the ol’ bucket list.

I don’t know if I am at liberty to tell, but after waiting a week and getting no response if I can or cannot, I am just gonna spill the proverbial beans…

I get to sing this!!
I get to sing this!!

Next May, down in Gilroy, I will be performing the role of Che in Evita!

Evita is the Cinderella story of Eva Peron, who tragically died of cancer at the age of 33.  She went from rags to riches, using not just her sexuality, but also her brains.  She knew that being smart wouldn’t be enough to get her what she wanted so she used her body as a short cut. I know there is more to it, but that is the Evita for Dummies version. I know there are some Andrew Lloyd Webber haters out there, but what care I?  I have loved this show for decades and now I get to be a part of it.  I thought that I would never get to do this show because it is so rarely performed and most recently it was done in the Northern Bay Area, but I already had commitments to another show.  I thought my chance was long gone.

I am so friggin’ happy that I was wrong! I am past excited to start rehearsals in February that I wanna skip over Christmas and New Year’s and just get to work.  He may not know it yet, but my good friend Kevin, offered to help me with music stuffs, so he’s going to be a busy guy! That’s what I love about him, the blind offers.  Of course, I have to make it through the opera first.

Oh!

Yes, dear reader, you have read that correctly. I am going to be in an opera.  Not singing, no.  Are you kidding?  I can’t do that.  No, my dance teacher is going to be choreographing an opera called Carlotta that takes place in the 1800’s in Spain, I believe.  I will be strictly dancing.  What I am really looking forward to is that her pieces are always great, but they differ than what she teaches in classes, so it will be fabulous to really dance the heck out of her work.  I mean, it’s kind of hard to do it in a class that is full of people.  Here there will only be 6.

I am really excited that the first part of the year is shaping up so well.  I really look forward to what the second half will bring.  Especially after the SF TBA General Auditions!

But THAT is a story for another day.

🎶 I’m gonna be a part of B.A, Buenos Aries – Big Apple! 🎶

 

 

I Feel Like Mr. Toad…

Some of the Chorus Line cast
Some of the Chorus Line cast

If you would have told me that Tech Week for A Chorus Line would truly begin one wild ride, I may have rolled my eyes.  It seems like tech weeks have gotten much easier in recent years.  I don’t know why.  I can remember that first decade of shows and the tech weeks truly living up to the name “Hell Week.” This one started out simple enough and as we progressed further into the middle of the week, I could feel the tension rising through the cast.  Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely excitement mixed in there as well, but knowing how exact this show had to be there were repeated clarifications and adjustments.

Then, I got laid off from the nursery.  Oy!  Right smack dab in the middle of tech, I suddenly find myself without my financial stability.  So the practical part of my brain, as small as it is, panics and stresses.  But then the actor in me took over and said, this is probably the sign you need to get off of your ass and really try! So I didn’t even think about that situation until after we opened the show.  What I did do, however was use it to add to my character.  Since all I had was A Chorus Line, it made the determination to make it into that fictitious show all the more real for me.

What I didn’t expect was that because there was so much invested into that “reality” for me, I found this show so much harder to say good-bye to.  When we were in rehearsal mode, I never thought I would be so sad that I wouldn’t be dancing these steps with these people eventually.  I just thought that it was one more really good show that I was a part of and I will work with some of these fabulous people somewhere else down the road.

Yamagami's Family
Yamagami’s Family

Could it be that I now tie the nursery and the show together and I am really mourning the loss of both?  I can’t say for certain.  While I loved working with the people at the nursery, I was feeling like I needed to move on  so I have absolutely no ill will toward those wonderful people. But I will miss them. But because of that little work hiccup, I truly got to experience the out of work actor feeling. It’s one thing to be able to create and pretend the world you need to “live” in for the stage, but to actually really know how “oh shit, how am I going to pay my rent?” feels gave me a link to the physiological changes I experienced.  Like when I get really angry my heart beats faster and stronger,  I can access that whenever I need to for a scene. Now, I have this link to help me when I next have to create this particular feeling.

I am so grateful for the show because it was an incredible feeling to not only represent this character written for the show but to be able to identify with it not because of where they come from or their sexuality or their religion but because they are actors. I know firsthand how those songs like “I Hope I Get It” and “What I Did For Love” live in that character’s soul because I have lived them too.  From the nerves and self doubt at auditions and sometimes even in the rehearsal process to the sacrifices and dedication we give to our time for the theatre.

I don’t know when I will be able to listen to “What I Did For Love” with out bursting into tears. Or looking around to see if I can see those beautiful faces that were on the stage with me.  Or recalling all the missed time with friends and family that I cannot re-do because of rehearsals or performances.  Or remembering the good times and laughs that I had during all those rehearsals.  Or thinking of all the incredible people that I have been lucky enough to call friends over the years. Or being able to help others learn a step or lines at one time or another.  It is the ultimate love song to the theatre in my humble opinion.

To the amazing cast that I was so lucky to play with: I hope you know that even though I may not have been one to join in the social gatherings outside of the show that I love you guys so much.  It was an honor to be able to share the stage and share our vulnerabilities with each other and the audience. I can only hope that our paths cross again.  To our directographer (yes, it is a word… at least I have forced my system to recognize it as one) Jenn Maggio, you are incredible. What a task you had and what you gave us and in turn made us give to the audience was nothing short of magical.  And of course all that other stuff I told you after rehearsals.

So for now, I’ll “kiss today goodbye, the sweetness and the sorrow.”

Wish me luck.

The same to you.