🎼Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? 🎶

Happy Holiday Season, Gentle Reader!

Oooooooowwweeeeee!

I hope your Turkey Day was wonderful, if you celebrate. If you are one of amazing Readers outside of the US, I hope your week was magnificent. But to be clear, this post isn’t about the recent holiday.

As we head into the weekend, and I return to grown up Ralph Parker, I wanted to share why I am enjoying this production so much. And it isn’t because it is Christmas themed. LOL. I don’t really celebrate it as I had mentioned before despite the fact that I worked on a Christmas show last year and in White Christmas many years ago.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to be a part of this production was the shear fact that I have never had the opportunity to work with this many youngsters before. I wanted to have this experience because it was not only new, but the energy that they bring is incomparable. My past experiences were as a choreographer of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a youth production and the shows where I was cast that did have younger persons, really only had one or two. To share a stage with 10 of them is a wholly different experience and I am enjoying it immensely.

Another reason I have cherished this process is because of the director. Allie Bailey is one of my favorite people and director to collaborate with during the process. The first time I met her was at auditions for her production of Pippin. What a blast that was! This is my 3rd time working with her. I have absolute trust in her. I appreciate that I can offer my ideas on the character and she asks questions to force me to dive even deeper than what I thought was deep enough. Sometimes instead of confirming my ideas, she counters knowing that it can do one of two things, guide me into a different point of view OR ensure that my view as the character has an answer in their backstory for every potential question that the script may present. I trust that if I am not presenting anything clearly, she will catch it and let me know so that I can make stronger choices. I also like to think that she trusts me and is fully ok with the time I take to work through building my character. She also knows how much I change delivery of lines to try and find my truth in the moment. Sometimes, directors have wanted me to make my choices and stick to them midway through the rehearsal process so the scene is “set” but that stresses me out because if a line gets delivered differently on accident and I give my response like we had “set” then the truth of the moment is lost and will be seen as forced by the audience.

It has been so incredible to take this journey, Dear Reader. The A Christmas Story movie is brilliant in its mix of realism and hyper camp thanks largely to the filming style by director Bob Clark. Not to detract from the acting because I thought all of that was well done too with special nod to Darren McGavin. But aside from the lamp, the filming visual are what stick with me. Like the zoomed in perspective of the kids on Santa and the elves when they are angry or the over dramatic grading by Miss Shields. That is hard to replicate on a stage. Yet, our director had the solution.

When I step back and take a macro look at the staged version, I can see at least 3 levels of style, for lack of a better term. In the first ring, this is the most true to life. My version of Ralph lives here. Yeah, he gets caught up in explaining some of the moments of his memories, but think about when you are recounting something to others. It is a normal reaction. Not only can you get caught up in the storytelling, but those emotions can well up within you again. Like the bullying scene. It is sad to recall, but man, those are some of the easiest feelings to recall from my past. It is painful and scary and embarrassing but the mix is easy to find when I need them.

In the next ring, the memory is stored there. I know that the potential for expanding upon your story is highly likely, Sweet Reader. While Ralph recalls this Christmas memory, obviously some parts are over the top. This is the ring that Mother, The Old Man and Randy, Santa as well as Ralphie’s classmates and Teacher live. Slightly larger than life yet rooted in complete truth but a little more exaggerated than Ring One.

In the final ring, Raphie’s imaginative fantasies reside. This is the overblown moments in the show. This is the home of Black Bart and his gang, Shakespeare and the fan girling Miss Shields, and Red Ryder.

The real trick was knowing where to blur the lines and have those rings bleed into one another and I think our director must be a fricking magician because she has managed to do that very thing spectacularly.

I say it every day in real life, I am a lucky duck. I cannot tell you enough what a wonderful time I am having getting to know these little artists as well as making friends with peers that I had not worked with before. And now, it is off to the theater!

Thank you for once again taking a moment out of your lives, Gentle Reader, to read the musings of a vagabond actor just looking for new ways to explore emotion and view life through the stories of others.

Until the next time our paths cross, Dear Reader, stay safe and alert. Be sure to care for yourself and those around you.

❤️

🎼Looks Good, Sounds Good, Feels Good Too…🎶

Heeeeeeelllllloooooo Gentle Reader!

My many apologies for my long time away. First came the attempt at learning candle making, then I got cast in a production and now work is all kinds of wonky! BUT the important thing is now the show has begun with last night being the start of a spectacular run.

Yes, you Gorgeous Readers, I have opened another show! I kept meaning to post about it here, but time was just too poorly managed on my part. I can say that with complete honesty. I slept like crap these last 8 weeks and it just got worse 3 weeks ago thanks to work looking into cutting back on it spending. At first it wasn’t about stress. At first. It was more the fact that traffic in the Bay Area has returned to PreCovid Times and people drive worse now than they did back then. My drive to get to rehearsal can take anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, I think was my record, thanks to an accident. By the time it was the return trip home, the last thing on my mind was writing because I was trying to figure out what meetings I had to prepare for at work the next day.

So writing was put on the back burner. My sincere apologies. I’ve missed y’all.

I hope that you are all well and healthy and you are looking forward to the holiday season!

Speaking of the holiday season, let’s chat about my current project…

No doubt, Lovely Reader, that you have seen this 1986 holiday classic that is played on repeat every single year for 24 hours on Christmas Day.

If you happened to have missed it, somehow. It is the memory of the main character’s Christmas from when he was 8 years old. Filled with moments of hilarity and relatability, this film has something for everyone

Check out this newspaper article featuring Keith Larson. Keith does an outstanding job as The Old Man! I swear sometimes it sounds like the O.G. dad, Darren McGavin. He talks about how as he has gotten older and a family of his own, his relationship with this film has also grown.

If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It takes place in the 1940’s and it is just a simpler time so there are no cell phones, no distractions from screens. It is all about the human connections.

The script for the play version highlights all the best parts of the movie and delivers such heart.

For my experience with this show, it was pure pleasure. In the movie, you never see my “role.” You definitely hear it though. He is little Ralphie all growed up. (Yes, I know that isn’t a real word) and just like the movie, the play is told through the “memories” he shares, moving the story along.

For me the great challenge was getting the style of the syntax correct because while all my lines weren’t quite run-on sentences, they most certainly felt like it. There would be a paragraph of 7 lines that was only 2 actual sentences and some of the grammatical markings weren’t where one would think they should be. So really digging in and trying to sort all of that out was my biggest issue. Not to mention ALL THE LINES!! The sheer amount of them had gotten so that at a point in the early stages of rehearsals, that I began to question my casting. 😂😂

I was sick of hearing myself speak because it felt like I was ALWAYS monologuing. I began to wonder if I would turn out like some of the presenters I see during work functions, droning on and on and losing audience members like a comet loses pieces of itself as it hurtles through space. Sometimes I had pages of things to say and they didn’t really connect to one another so trying to shift the energy so it felt like it was a “scene change” was such an incredible exercise. There is still one that I feel a bit sticky on.

Here is an example: After one of the fantasy scenes with all the kids, Kind Reader, I reenter and talk about how having the Red Ryder BB gun was a must. Then I am supposed to set the tone for a scene about the sexy leg lamp. After a fantastical scene where Ralphie uses his rifle and the built in tools to save his classmates they all run off. The script says: “RALPH: No question about it. I had to have that air rifle. It was an absolute necessity. Meanwhile, night after night, the soft sinuous radiation of the Old Man’s major award lit up Cleveland Street, attracting cruising prides of adolescents.” Logically, I know there is a light shift, but I can’t see it as I am in a follow spot whenever I am on stage. So all I see is that light. I drop the register and volume of my voice and hope that I wait long enough that the light change happens before I go into the light part of the line. At the beginning I am in one frame of mind, caught up in the ideas of what could happen with that rifle and then I have to shift over to sexy time talk with a flip of the dime. 😂 It just feels funky to me. I am sure it looks great, but I, personally, find it feeling funky. It is totally a me thing and I completely trust my director, the amazing Allie Bailey. If it looked off or sounded odd in any way, she would straight up tell me.

Now with this beast of a show open, I can relax and enjoy the holidays myself. Since my family has suffered a lot of hardships with losses over the last few years, I know I need to enjoy our time together now.

Sometimes during the penultimate and the final scenes, I get a little choked up because of how I built the backstory for my character. But that is for another post.

I hope that you are able to come on down and check out this cult Christmas classic presented on a stage with over the top silliness and about a planet sized amount of heart. Besides, look at that little face! Don’t you wanna see the shenanigans this lil fella gets into?

Program Image: Shawna Gonzales as Mother and Matthew Horta as Ralphie Parker

Until next time, Dear Reader, I hope you stay safe, healthy and aware. Make sure to take care of yourself and those around you. I adore you all and look forward to the next time. Thanks for letting me bend your ear.

❤️

From Pippin’s Summer of AMAZING to Zombie Prom’s Fall of FUN…

This summer’s experience in “Pippin” was phenomenal.  I find myself constantly looking back at it to glean as much out of it as I possibly can.  I so utterly enjoyed working  closely with director, Allie Bailey, on character and movement choices.  I plan to use this type of method when it comes to JCS (which auditions in two and a half weeks!!!)  I loved talking through little moments in the show to see if there was something we could try to make the moment stick more, for example,  switching the gun in Pippin’s (Sven) hand from holding the barrel back to the butt at a critical moment in the finale was Sven’s brilliant idea.  It was a spectacularly collaborative effort that just made the experience burrow itself deep, deep into my heart with such tender loving fondness.

Photo courtesy of SunnyvalePlayers.org's Facebook page
Photo courtesy of SunnyvalePlayers.org’s Facebook page

But there was no time to truly mourn the end of this show because there was more theatre to be had!

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This came in the way of the, completely unknown to me, campy little piece called  “Zombie Prom.”  The moral of the story, don’t judge a book by its cover.  The music in this show is so freakin’ crazy hard and WORDY!!  Lawrd, it this show wordy!  There are still lyrics that I can’t quite say.  One would be “What’s your answer? Please speak clearly…”

Now that we have come to my favorite holiday of the year, Halloween, it’s only fitting that we have our first audience for the “Prom.”  We have our final dress rehearsal tonight!  It is so crazy to think just under a month ago, I was finishing up one show and already this one is standing up ready to begin walking.  I know it sounds like I am equating it to children, and in a small, very small, way it is.  The shape of the show and all the elements are there, so it is upright.  To begin performing it, we need an audience, so it would be like taking first steps.  Then, come Opening Night, the show will be running.  Just like a child.  It may even run away from us due to a fire alarm or something.  With all of the funny and all of the cuteness, the story and music are just freakin’ FUN!  I am constantly getting pieces of songs stuck in my head and it drives me bonkers!  My favorite is “There’s nothing like a true blue eh-smoke!” and Kerie does such an amazing job at it!  The cast is so fun and Nate Moss gives such a great performance as Eddie Flagrante.  Jennifer Medeiros plays my favorite character, the cold Miss Strict.   I have to add that character to my bucket list! hahaha.  If RuPaul can play her…

Again, this show is so much fun.  We open officially tomorrow, so I gotta go and practice that lyric!

Get out and see some theatre, will ya?  If you can’t do it because you already have plans,  how about making a donation to this fundrazr campaign.

Until next time,  thanks for reading aaaannnnnnndddd

 

Happy-Halloween