Dance Captain Reporting For Duty…

thetunnel

And a part of me just wants to hide out in a cave until the idea passes.  LOL!

Whenever I choreograph a show, I usually assign the dancer that asks the most specific questions about details the task of being the dance captain.  The main reason I do this is because I know that they are dedicated to making the movements as close as possible to what I am asking for.  Usually this person is also technically sound and picks up steps fairly quickly… even when I don’t use counts and “boom kak whoosh” my way through a step.  I do try to use counts as much as possible but sometimes I will focus on particular sounds in the middle of the number just to confuse the heck out of my dancers.

That being said, I think that being asked to take on the title Dance Captain is a great compliment for a dancer.

You can bet your boo-tay that I am gonna be up late these next couple of days making some serious notes and possibly spreadsheets breaking down steps to counts.  But mind you, I did say POSSIBLY…  I just gotta find some time.

Anyone got any extra time that they can spare?  I need like 27 hours per day.  24 just ain’t cuttin’ it.

Welp, this has to be short, cuz… well… this kid is a Dance Captain!  Hahahaha

Until next time,

I salute you!

Confession…

Clutch the pearls!

I probably would have a lot of people complain about this, and I think there may be some hurt feelings…

BUT

I do not like the musicals of yore.

Music Man, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Kiss Me Kate, Showboat, Camelot and Finian’s Rainbow are just some of the musicals that I don’t need to ever hear again. I understand the importance that some had on society and on the Art Form itself. I am not sure what it is about them, but I just don’t connect with those shows.  I tried, TRUST, I tried.   I have even performed in some of those show and STILL those songs and stories just bore me to death.

Once upon a time, Guys and Dolls was on that list.

However, I am actually working on this show for the second time.  The first time was as a production assistant. I really enjoyed working on that show because the cast was so fun.  Now, it didn’t mean that I wanted to hear those tunes on my free time, but I had a good experience.

This time around is a bit different.  This time around, I actually CANNOT wait for people to come and check out this show!  I had a brief conversation with our amazing choreographer, Lee Ann Payne, in which I pretty much gushed about how much fun I am having.  I adore the numbers in this show.  Our vocal director, Diana Torres Koss, has been brilliant in breaking down the songs.  I feel a sense of joy while I am doing these dances and I love the challenge of these harmonies.  I like building a character that has a vice, gambling, and a story of his own that the audience knows nothing about.  That is what makes it so much more fulfilling. I have a brilliant partner to dance with and great people to share the stage with, thanks to the vision of our fearless leader, Linda Piccone.

Yes, these rehearsals have kicked. my. ass!

Yes, I love every single minute of it.

And even more yes, this is an old show that I would probably do again BUT it would have a lot to live up to.

Come and see Jewel Theater’s Guys And Dolls opening on November 13!!!!

Get your tickets here!!!  Or use this shortcut

Word of advice, Jewel Theater has a history of selling out their shows, so…   

WHAT? The Year Is Halfway Done??…

Last October, at my BFF Sarah’s birthday/dance party, I got a tarot card reading.

For those of you that have never had one, I would equate it with getting unbiased advice from a deck of cards.

I was given a deck of cards to shuffle and as I did so I was asked to think to myself a question that I would like help with.  So as shuffled, my mind raced because there are a million questions that I would like help with. My guess is that my subconscious knew the real question that was in my heart.

Here’s the draw that I got

IMG_20121028_003430

The bottom row (what I remember anyway, after all it was nearly a year ago) is my foundation.  The first card, Chariot, I was told means that I am really good at controlling things that I have control over. Just as in a chariot you have to control the horses and which roads you take all the while you have to make sure you don’t fall off the cart yourself. The second card, Illumination, means that I have a good grasp of the knowledge that I need in my “field of work,” if you will. The third, Trust, means that I am secure in what “path” is.

Here’s where I freaked the hell out.

The second level of this is about your passion.  The first card is who you are. And this, THIS is what I drew…

I REALLY want this as a tattoo!
I REALLY want this as a tattoo!

She said this is what you are at the core of your being.  And out loud I have never proclaimed or embraced or spouted it to people that I meet.  I say I enjoy doing it, but never outright say I am an actor.  But to draw this card from on top of a pile of 50 other cards and for it to land where it did, tells me that I need to follow my path.  The card after, Guardian, describes the will I “have” to fulfill my need to become the “I AM” card.

The top and final card that was drawn was Compassion.  I was told this is the missing piece to what I need to make it all come together.  I need compassion for myself.  Like most creative types, I am Über-Critical of myself and anything that I am involved with.  I drill it into myself that I am not as good as so and so, or not as talented as so and so.  What I forget is that I am NOT so and so.  And as such can only do what I can do and to know that I am potentially someone else’s “so and so” to which I say, “You, my friend, ARE better than So and So! Now go and show them how good YOU are!”

As my astrological sign begins its rule over the heavens, I look back on these last 9 months and I smile.  And to be honest, I have cried in gratitude as well.  I feel like I have accomplished a lot!  I can feel it in my body.  I wake up tired and achy, but in my heart, I am so happy.

The funny thing of it is, as I look back at the last half of the year, I am thinking to myself “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, folks!”

 

 

Me? Embarrassed? What?

With fellow Actors: Sean Carson-Hull, Amanda Garley, Shawn Bender

The other day while out at a holiday dinner party, I was introduced as “An Ac-tor” with an exaggerated British comedy voice and a grand arm gesture.  I am not sure why, but I felt myself blush…no that’s not quite what I felt.  It was more like an electrical charge that began at the top of my crown and shot down my entire body in a hot second.  I immediately looked down and said “No.  I am  more of a performer.”

What the frack?!?

While I may not come off as a shy person, when it comes to this one subject, I tiptoe around it like it’s some sort of horrible secret.  I tried to justify it to myself last night that I was just giving the old “Oh, stop..” kind of deal.  But that didn’t sit well and when I woke up this morning, I was well and truly pissed off at myself.

Am I ashamed of owning the title?  Is it because I am not getting a paycheck for most of my work yet?  No, that doesn’t seem right.  I think it may be because one of the first things people want to know is “Have I seen you in anything?” and “What have you done?”  First, I don’t know if you’ve seen me, I have better things to do than spy on you.  Second, I’ve done a ton of stuff and we both have better things to do than for me to try and recount them all.   Also, people seem to think that if your an actor you only do dramas or other serio-social plays.  I love to do it all.  Singing, dancing, and creating character choices are what make me incredibly happy.  I love to make people laugh.  I like to think I am pretty good at it.  Not good enough to be a comic, but good enough to portray some thing that someone else has written.  I can carry a tune.  Yes, occasionally a note drops out of my bucket, but the majority of the tune is there. And while I may not have the ideal “dancer build” I can’t help but to move.  I also like to think that I have great rhythm so dancing is just one of those lucky things I found out I can do.

But the one thing that ties all 3 things together is that you are still “acting” if you are really into it.  When I sing a song, I begin to live in that little world I am singing about.  Sometimes, I can actually see details in it.  That’s always fleeting though.  When I dance, I lead with my heart, because that’s all I know how to do.   It’s one thing to dance an upbeat number with a big cheesy grin, but if you were to dance to a piece to the melancholy music of the Schindler’s List score that big grin would be inappropriate.

In closing, I’d like to apologize to myself.  I am so sorry for not openly accepting the title.  I promise that going forward, I will happily wrap my arms around it.

Hello.  My name is Jery.

And I am an Actor.

 

Have a comment?  Leave it in the designated space below, and maybe I’ll learn something new today.

 

There’s a switch to The Switch…

Wally realizes that he's just poured his BFF's dreams down the drain.

I went to see a sneak peak for Jennifer Aniston’s new flick “The Switch.”  I was all set for the typical chatty girl talk type of movie about love and relationships, and the difficulties that are being felt by Aniston’s character.  It turns out that this movie really isn’t so much about her as it is about Jason Bateman.  What an absolutely wonderful surprise!  I have been a fan of his since his work on the 80’s television show “The Hogan Family.”  He’s been in a few movies recently in minor roles, but this is a great role to bring him back into the spotlight.

The Plot: Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) wants to have a baby.  She’s been in and out of bad relationships and decides that it’s time to finally do it.  As her BFF, Wally (Jason Bateman) is the first person she shares her decision with.  It’s clear from the outset that Wally is in love with her, so you already know how the movie is going to end.  Her good friend Debbie (played by the deliciously hilarious Juliette Lewis) convinces Kassie to have a party to celebrate the insemination because it’s “what everyone is doing nowadays.”   At the party is Roland, the charming-turns-kinda-creepy donor (Patrick Wilson) who whips up a batch of baby sauce in one room while the guests party it up in the rest of the house.  After having not only too much to drink but also a pill from Debbie, Wally is as high as a kite and on a trip to the bathroom, he finds Roland’s contribution to Kassie’s goal.  After some funny bits of playing with the stuff, Wally actually ruins the batch and in a last minute decision “creates” a replacement contribution.  Once Kassie becomes pregnant, she moves away because New York isn’t her ideal place to raise a child. The movie reunites them back in NY seven years after the incident and Uncle Wally now gets to meet this adorable child, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson) who is just as nutty as he is.

Personally, I found that the majority of the film focused on the relationship between fathers and sons or rather the relationships between father figures and sons.  Throughout the film you can see Wally falling in love with this quirky kid, who believes Wally is just an uncle, and the struggle of revealing to his BFF the truth of what happened on the night of her party 7 years ago.  The struggle that Wally goes through once he realizes that he’s Sebastian’s father is a fantastic display of heart that reminds me why I have such respect for the actor.

I have to also mention the outstanding performance by Jeff Goldblum as Wally’s coworker, Leonard.  I don’t know if it’s just great casting that is playing off of Jeff’s real personality, or if it’s his go-to character quirk, but in this role, he shines.

One of my favorite scenes is when Wally first gets into the bathroom where the “incident” takes place.  Having been in that position where you have to hold onto the walls to keep from melting, Wally was perfection, and I could only laugh and laugh remembering exactly what he was feeling like at that moment.  Once you see it, you’ll understand.

While the major focus in advertising is being focused on Jen Aniston, Jason Bateman is really what this movie is about. Him and the kid.

Public Health and Safety vs. Greed…

San Francisco Free Civic Theatre presents an incredibly relevant play for the times.  Last weekend, I took a drive up to S.F. to watch my first actual Ibsen play.  I’ve read his plays before, but this was one that I hadn’t heard of:  An Enemy of the People.

HENRIK IBSEN (1828-1906) was born into prosperity in the Norwegian village of Skien but sadly that fortune didn’t last long.  He was a very intelligent man who was a cynic and an atheist.  His plays are dark and often force the audience to really look at the ugly underbelly of humanity.  He believed that in order to fix all the dark parts of human nature, a light should must be shone into those deep recesses that dwell within man.  Like most, his first plays weren’t well received.  He traveled to Rome, and it was there where he began to make a name for himself.  It seems as though all of his plays are a form of protest. This particular play happens to be corporate greed and hypocrisy versus public health.  Considering the Health Care Bill that got signed into law, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to present this masterpiece.

The play consists of three acts separated by two intermissions.  When I saw this in the program, I wondered what the running time of the show would be.  As it turns out, it’s just ten minutes over the two hour mark with the intermissions included.  What was more shocking to me than that, was that it never felt like the show was 130 minutes.  I have been to movies and performances (and have been in some of them) where it feels like time is dragging.

The plot of the play is that the town has built a new spa and is looking forward to the tourist boom that will accompany it.  The hero and villain, it totally depends on which side you agree with, are a pair of brothers.  One is a scientist (Thomas Stockmann)and the other (Peter Stockmann) is the mayor of the town.  The scientist discovers that the water is full of harmful bacteria which caused several cases of illness during the first few months that the spa was open.  He gets confirmation of this and when he presents his findings to his brother, the debate begins.  The board of directors of the spa built it downstream of a cannery (which belongs to the father of Thomas’ wife) even though Thomas had recommended that it wasn’t the ideal spot.  When Thomas discovers the bacteria, he begins a campaign to have the spa rebuilt on the previously recommended site and an overhaul of the town’s water delivery system.  Peter sees things differently. As a mayor, he is more concerned about the money and time the whole project will take and the toll it will take on town.  Even though the overhaul would benefit the entire town and the tourists that would visit the spa, they would have to wait not only for two years before the spa and the water system would be completed but also for the revenue and tourists from the spa.  When Thomas gets word that Peter will not move the spa he decides to take the matter to the people, who would be outraged at this news.  His friends at the local independent newspaper, The People’s Daily Messenger, offer to write his story so that the public knows about the spa and the Board’s decision on the matter. The publisher, Aslaksen, ensures Thomas that the people will be behind him 100% and offers to help as much as he can “in moderation”.   To counter his brother, Peter makes it known to the editors and Aslaksen that should the project be approved, he will enforce a tax on the public that many people cannot afford thus ensuring that Thomas’s attempt at a public outcry for change be effectively stifled.

Robert Cooper (Peter)  and Eric Nelson (Thomas), do a great job making this classic text feel as though it were written recently.  While the dialogue was snappy, it was accompanied by some weak movements while they would be standing face to face.  At one point, while having an argument, Thomas was making a case in which he has a solidly valid point and yet he physically takes an awkward stumble back.  When you see this kind of argument in person, the debater with the point doesn’t back up in this situation.  There are two movement that I have seen happen, s/he either a.) holds their ground or b.) moves in “for the kill”.   That backward step negates the power of the point that he is making.  However, both men give supreme performances.

The women in the play also play up the duality of an issue in their own right.  Thomas’ wife, played by Gabrielle Mortarjemi, served as the school of thought that women are the homemakers and caregivers of the family and that is the main function they serve.  Thomas’ daughter, Petra as portrayed by Corinne Oprinovich, played Mrs. Stockmann’s opposite.  Petra had opinions and wasn’t ashamed or afraid to make them known.  Both women complimented their respective roles perfectly in both voice and movement.  Mrs. Stockmann moves fluidly, while Petra tended to move in sharp short movements.  Mrs. Stockmann never seemed to want to make any waves o interrupt their way of living. Petra, on the other hand, takes after her father and even offered  help during a “town meeting” citing the appropriate methods to call in order for Thomas to have a chance to speak.  While it would be socially unseemly for a woman to have knowledge or even attend an affair of this issue, Petra walks in stoically while her mother keeps her eyes low and head slightly bowed.

As the Messenger’s fidgety and ever careful publisher, Aslaksen, Mark Romyn was my favorite actor on that stage.  In addition to great line delivery and movement, his character seemed to be so complete that I had a hard time figuring out if the shaky hand movement that he had on stage was a nervous habit, or if it was something that he did off stage as well. Aslaksen punctuated every promise of action with “moderation” throughout the show that by the end Act II it was something of a joke, which he delivered with perfection every time.

Most of the other characters were performed well.  However, having not read the script myself, I say this emphasizing the fact that this is merely my opinion, but there is a character, the junior editor of the Messenger, who needn’t be introduced into the play until Act 2.  The most memorable thing that he did in the opening scene was to call every person on stage a great man, or a great woman.  Of course, I exaggerate this by saying every person, but the character says this three or four times in the course of 10 minutes.  There didn’t seem to be any believability behind it.  So to me it just seemed like he was randomly yelling that phrase which by happenstance coincided with a line that the “great” person just finished.  “A great man!”

Aside from the junior editor in the first scene, this play had so many great attributes that I feel it would truly be a shame if it were missed.  It’s obviously well written, but it has some of the most wonderful lines scattered throughout.  One of my favorites was “Without power, what good is truth?” Thomas questions as he is given word that the people will not be giving their support to him.  Also, in Act II Scene II, Thomas has a great speech in which he tells the public that “the people are never right…at first…Were they right when they crucified Jesus…?” In addition to it being a great show, there’s even an amazing deal: The tickets are FREE!  There’s still one more weekend left to see it.  Click on the link at the beginning of this review or click on the Calendar of Events in my blog roll and you can see the dates and times that you can catch this show.

So it’s the Oscars tonight!!!

Unfortunately, I have to wait until 11:00 pm or so to start watching them.  This means I have to stay away from the web or else I’ll have a headline screaming at me that so and so won this award or whatever.  Luckily, the Razzies have already been given out.  Did anyone see them?  I never actually know when they are given out, but I have to say a huge thanks to Chris Hardwick’s tweet about this gem of a clip.

I have always been a fan of hers.  She’s like my guilty pleasure.  My favorite movie? While You Were Sleeping.  Second fave? It’s a tie between The Proposal and Miss Congeniality. But what I love about her is that, in this clip, Sandra Bullock shows us she doesn’t take herself so seriously and isn’t afraid to laugh at herself.

Let me preface what I am about to say:  This is my personal belief.  Whether or not you agree with me is entirely okay.  What I do ask, is that if you do disagree, tell me why.

But back to the post!  I have worked with actors that are so full of The Serious that their character never seems to become fully believable.  And when it’s a comedy, it’s tragic.  Usually, I can spot them by the way they laugh.  If I never see the person do a let it go-full belly contracting laugh (this is usually the same person that thinks they are doing the “polite” laugh) when something insanely hilarious happens, you know that they are holding back because they take themselves seriously.   Now you may say, but what if that’s just the type of person they are.  I can, with 99% conviction, say that as a kid, everyone has had one of those laughs at least once.  As we grow up, society plays with the mind and makes you think that certain types of behaviors aren’t acceptable. Let me ask you, as a kid did you every really question what was acceptable?  I know I didn’t .  As long as it didn’t hurt anyone (there’s a huge difference between moral compass and insecurity), I was as free as a bird with my actions.  There are some people that are able to maintain that great big laugh, and it’s somewhere in that feeling of letting it all go that, I believe, an actor should go to bring their character to life.  For me, that’s the place of Make Believe.   By the time the actors are ready to perform the show, they have to be confident and believe that their technique and practice has helped them learn their lines, remember when and where to cross, plus grab any props they may need the way it’s supposed to and bring them to performance level.  But to be completely believable, and sweep the viewers away into the world of the play, they have to go to that Make Believe place and simply become.  Just like when you played outside as a kid.  They can’t be inhibited  by their conscious insecurities, like I had ranted about in a previous post or else the stage never hits the brilliance it can shine with, even if all the lights are turned on high.