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

It Is Finished…

Cast and Crew of SUPERSTAR being goofy!  Photo by Edmond Kwong
Cast and Crew of SUPERSTAR being goofy! Photo by Edmond Kwong

I have been pussyfooting around the acknowledgement that this show that I have lived with for the last 13.5 months has finally come to an end.  On my last two days off of work I was expecting to get hit with a blast of depression that comes with ending a show.  One of this magnitude, I was sure would take me out of the game for a while. But it never came.

When we started this show, I said I see this show as a fight for love.  Instead of the show being a simple Judas wronged Jesus, it was accidental.  There was no one to “blame.”  Everything was supposed to happen.  Like Jesus sings, “You’re far too keen on where and how but not so hot on why.”   I wanted a positive spin on the show.  I also wanted Jesus to be as human as everyone else.  My hope was that people would be moved to see a fellow human being treated so horribly during act 2.  To see that he was afraid and sad but still willing to go through this for his love of the people.  I had the white out at the end to ask the audience to look inside and find your love for your fellow man and for hope that this world can be a better place in doing so.

Then I was lucky enough to get this amazing, supportive cast! But my luck didn’t run out there.  One of the very first things I fought for was an amazing sound department which was an incredible 3 man team.  So John, Dan, and Brett: Thank you for an outstanding job with this difficult show!  The crew was small but mighty and headed by an amazing Stage Manager, Ms. Pye! I am grateful to the amazing producers Nancy and Liz, who worked so tirelessly to ensure that the vocal director, Judy, and music director, Jean, and I had everything we needed.

I have realized that there is a reason for the non-depression.  As I disassemble the Blooming Wall, I have the chance to read all the beautiful paper “flowers” with things that people love.  Simple things.  And I understand that we did exactly what we set out to do.  We did share the love.

And so did they.  With that in mind, what is there to be depressed about?

To ALL of you, I cannot say thank you enough.

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When You Get To Hear It For The First Time…

As I spent the last few days worrying over JCS, that little voice in the back of my head began to whisper to me. Just ever so slightly.  Kind of like seeing something out of the corner of your eye.

After a week of rehearsals, the cast got to sing through all ov Act 1 witb minimal stopping.  To get them into the spirit of the night, we kicked off rehearsal with some vocal warm ups.  After a couple of standards, we threw in something goofy just for kicks. Once they fully comitted to the exercise, I threw emotions at them as they sang “do you want fries with that?” I wanted them to build from a “it’s a great day” to “if you don’t get out of my face i will kill you!” It was fun to see them take this group exercise and make it into mini scenes.  Some were more believable than others and when I came across those, I would say that I don’t believe it and I could see the shift in their intensity.  It was a lot of fun.  I hope they enjoyed the experience.

From there, the cast did a mini sit and sing of Act 1. It went really well and totally made my night to see the cast react to hearing the leads for the first time.  It was great to see them really get into it with everyone being in the same room and enjoying the music.

After a small break, we cleared the chairs and told the cast the move around the room in the spirit of a character.  It was like watching a show in itself.

To watch the characters begin to take shape,  to see the reactions of the rest of the cast, and to know that we are on the up slopes of this process made for an incredible night!
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Cut to 3 weeks later…

We’ve managed to get all but 6 or 7 numbers staged and begin stumbling thru acts this week. Every day I am excited to see what is in store and what is inside these actors.  Every day I am grateful that they work so hard.  I feel so unbelievably lucky that this particular group of people accepted parts in this show.

I hope that they are still enjoying themselves, even inspite of my frantically worded explanations.  As I watch them laugh and chat, I know they are enjoying each others’ friendships.  That gives me hope. Hahahaha!!

In all honesty, this incredible group of actors and I cannot wait to share this show with y’all!!!

And We Begin In Three Days…

just a dream

I have always wanted to try my hand at directing.  Partly for the experience, partly because it would be different, but mostly because I wanted to see if I could tell a story in a different way.

Almost exactly a year ago, I had asked the producer of “Sugar” about apprentice opportunities for directing and she said “I will put your name on our contacts list just in case something comes up.”  I was totally satisfied with that and happily continued the rehearsal when they were ready for me to pop back into the scene.  I had asked another company the same thing and got the same answer so it wasn’t unexpected.

Little did I know that three weeks later I would be asked to present an idea to sit IN the director’s seat of Jesus Christ Superstar.  Ever since I found out it was in the season, all I thought about was auditioning to play Judas one more time.  At first, I didn’t know what to say.  Do I jump at the chance knowing that I have never done anything like this and have no training for it?  I had a little dilemma. After taking a few days to think about it, I decided “Why not?”  Sure this could mean that if this goes horribly wrong, I may never get the chance to do this again.  But if it goes right…

Rehearsals are right around the corner, and to say that I am excited is an understatement.  I have been thinking about the show for the last 8 months! Regardless of my nerves, I really think that this is going to be the best learning experience of my life.  Not only is it a chance to try something new  and in the realm of theatre, but it will allow me to strengthen skills that I can use anywhere and in any job.

Listening:  I like to think that I do a pretty darn good job of listening to people.  In any theatrical endeavor, collaborating with everyone is essential, and that means listening to everyone’s concerns, ideas, and criticisms.

Problem Solving: Taking all that information and making it useful or addressing why the information can’t be used.

Decision Making:  I never knew how much planning and questions I would have to answer even BEFORE auditions.  I am usually a “feely” kind of decider.  So if something feels right or not is how I usually decide.  With a project like this, I had to learn to look ahead and see if the decision would affect anything else in the show.

Time Management:  Once the ball gets rolling, there isn’t much time to waste  getting all the ducks in a row.  I really need to be wary on how I use every minute of rehearsal time so that the actors aren’t sitting around. It’s not fair to them to make them spend their time waiting if I can help it.   Also, I have to make sure that all the pieces are put together well in advance of tech week.  My goal is to have the show running two weeks before tech.

I can bet that the management at the nursery will love this.  It’s amazing at how many skills one can acquire and/or develop in the Arts and yet the educational system deems them less than “academics.”  It’s a real damn shame.

Like I said, I never thought I would have this kind of chance this quickly, so I am nervous about this but once we get into the swing of things, I feel like it will be SUPER!!

I Survived Day 1…

Superstar

Disclaimer 1: I wrote this part while having breakfast before auditions.

Even in spite of all the meetings and thoughts and numerous ideas I have committed to my trusty notebook for this, TODAY really feels like the day when I am beginning this brand new adventure in theatre.

In previous meetings, we have discussed the personalities of all the main characters, what their motivations are, what we are listening for, what the set looks like, what the costumes are going to be like, where the orchestra is going to be situated, contingency plans if our audition turn out is less than desirable, and which songs will be “danced.”

Along with the meetings, the numerous spins of those disks in my car and repeated plays in itunes, and the time that I took to make a 30 second dance combination for the people who audition, I cannot wrap my head around the fact that I am going to be responsible for this show.

The thought not only makes me giddy with excitement, but it, in a very small way, terrifies me.  People have constantly asked me “What’s your concept for the show?” They stand there waiting, wide eyed and truly interested.  And to be honest, I had thought of a number of different ones, but my favorite was having JFK or MLK “as” Jesus and setting everything around that.  There are different conspiracy theories surrounding JFK and Dr. King is such a good example for nonviolence and equality of his time; I thought it would make for a very new spin on the show.  Feel free to use the idea if you would like.

Then, I thought about the venue.  I know the patrons and subscribers and they enjoy the traditional tellings of shows.  And I thought, as a new director, would the idea be too big to pull off in a clear way, as in would I get to bogged down in the idea that I lost focus of my true characters.  I remember a wonderful man telling me, in a cafe many months ago, keep things clear and simple. So with that in mind, I decided I will keep the traditional look, but let’s play with the way things are being said. Once I began to dig into the lyrics, there are a number of times that if you merely change the person that a lyric gets sung to, new possibilities open up.  All you need is a door to walk through to get into a new room.

What worries me is that this particular show, while I have a tremendous fondness, it is not a very popular musical.  Many people either A. hate anything that says Andrew Lloyd Webber on it, B. hate the rock music, or C. hate the story.  There are so many great parts and some of them I am really willing to cast nontraditionally, again…door.

But if you were to just forget about who is in the story and the why’s and think about it as a story of loyalty, love, and guilt don’t you think it is intriguing?  What would you do if someone you love asked you to do something that could cause them physical harm?  Could you do it?  Why?  Or better question, why not?  If that person told you it would be a huge benefit to so many people, isn’t your refusal selfish?  There are so many questions to ask and so many answers to find.  I just hope that people will get their tickets and explore this journey with us.

Disclaimer 2: I am writing this after Zombie Prom performance.

Before we began, I thought about something my director for Pippin said to me about auditions.  She told me,  “Don’t set an expectation for particular people to show up. Sometimes life gets in the way and they can’t make it.  Be open to the people that are there and what they bring to the table.”  I tell you, it made all the difference in the world.  I felt more relaxed and enjoyed the process a hell of a lot more emotionally.  Physically, I feel a little worn down, but so thankful to the many talented people that came to audition.  The prospects are looking pretty good even though it was only the first day.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.  Yeah, my body may hurt a little now and I will be stiff as all get out tomorrow, but these first auditionees make it all worth it.

We have another day of auditions tomorrow from 6:30 – 9 at the Saratoga Civic Theater in Saratoga, CA.  Come on down, sing us a song, and dance a little bit.  It’ll be fun!

Labor Day Reminds Me I Need to Work More…

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SOOOOoooo… how ya been?  How ya doin’?

August has come and gone and I didn’t even see it fly by.

Today is the first day of September, first time I got to meet with the JCS team, and is going to be the first time the Pippin cast sings with the orchestra.   If it is a sign of things to come for this month, it may be that I spend another month way from writing.  The sad thing is that I have 5 posts that have been started but by the time I sit down to finish them I had forgotten the point I was trying to get across.    Maybe I will still post them just so that way I don’t get into the habit of leaving things undone.  There’s just not enough time in the day!  Gah!

Pippin has been a wild ride of fun, hard work, and happiness.  I have been intimidated by these amazing people.  When they sing, I can only watch in envy.  But envy in a good way.  It makes me want to work harder at getting this music down.  I am sure I have mentioned a million times before that music is the hardest element for me.  I am so thankful that I have the great Aaron Weisberg and Kevin Brownstein helping me with this.  This cast is filled with not only fun and talented people but they are so giving.    The show is all blocked and we have it run-thru ready and we have two weeks before we open.  I am very excited that we are at this point and can only hope that JCS is in such a place when the time comes.

As for Jesus Christ Superstar, we got some things solidified. I got to empty out my brain and talk about my ideas.  I was so nervous and uncomfortable through the whole thing.   I was kind of waiting for people to tell my flat out “no” to some things and no one did! Color me shocked!!  There were definitely some raised eyebrows when I spoke about some of the things.  Along, with those eyebrows, there were some “ooh’s” and to me they sounded like good ones, so I think I am on the right track.

Oh, hahhahaa  “On the Right Track,”   its a Pippin reference!

I am excited to announce that auditions for Jesus Christ Superstar will be held on November 16th and 17th with callbacks on the 18th and 19th.  We (the staff and I) think that having a Saturday and Sunday audition would allow more people the opportunity to attend.  Saturday will be during the early afternoon and on Sunday will be the evening.  Expect email and facebook announcements to be forthcoming.  Those announcements will have more detailed information so keep your eyes peeled for it!

It has been a long first day of September.  Our sitzprobe for Pippin was insane fun. INSANE!  Come out and see the show which opens on Friday the 13th!!! Get your tickets by clicking this link!  Come see the joyful number “No Time At All” and to hear the glorious “Morning Glow.”   Join us for a super fun show!

Don’t forget, JCS auditions in November and Pippin opens on Friday the 13th!  Until next time…

 

I Just Thought Of Something That Scares Me A Little…

eggswannalive

 

I  spent my 4th of July working on Jesus Christ Superstar and Pippin and a couple of sewing projects while Perry was at work.

I had to make sure to get my concepts on paper, check out when I can interview another person for the Assistant Director position, write out choreography, character, and costume ideas for JCS. I know that if I don’t do this now, I will probably forget what I was thinking.

I’ve been thinking about how I could best go about explaining my directorial debut.  Aside from simply blogging about it, I think I will try and record some of the rehearsals with either audio or video devices.  For now, I think I should get this first while it is in my head…

As I was compiling my notes for JCS, I began to think about the emails and Facebook messages I’ve gotten from people excited about the auditions and the show itself. I am so happy that people are excited for the show and for my first project in this capacity.  I also get just the tiniest bit nervous because that little voice in my smarts-holder starts asking questions.  The big one is “What if you can’t pull this off?”  or worse “what if the people don’t like working with you in this role?” Gah!!!  Shuddup, party-pisser! Its gonna be awesome, because I am Roarsome! I have a shirt to prove it.  So there! Thanks Sarah! Anyway, back on track…

Then I began to breakdown the characters and who sings what and I see that while there are many solos to be had, what happens if I get a TON of people to audition and I don’t have parts for them?  What’s really playing with my head is what if I have way more good people that are friends than I have parts?  How do I tell my friends that I can’t/didn’t cast them? Not only that, what will the backlash be?  I suppose I could just make it a REALLY large cast!  Kidding.  That would be absurd.

Seriously, though.  I very nearly had a panic attack while I was sitting at the table holding a glass of water, thinking of the next thing that I had to write down.

It amazes me how quickly and randomly the brain works.  I was just looking through the perusal script as I was listening to the soundtrack when BAM! my thoughts take a 90 degree turn at 341  mph and I see my glass start to shake in my hand.  For a split second things get a little unfocused because I go in that daydream kind of headspace where I am not really focusing on anything, and I just see all these people being angry with me.  So my breath starts to catch and then I hear one of those screaming firework things and it pulls me right out of it. So… thanks for scaring the shit out of me Mr. Neighbor Guy!

You see those eggs up there ⇡?  Imagine feeling like that…

ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!  

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But let’s think about things I shan’t be stressing over…

I think I have the majority of my staff!! Woot woot!!

So as of this moment, this is the unconfirmed dream team that will help make JCS frakkin’ amazing!

Music Director: Jean Narunsky

Vocal Director: Judy Steinle

Costumes: Sue Howell (I was just kidding with her saying that she had to build all the costumes from scratch.  She didn’t even bat an eye and she said “Oh, I can do that!”)

Stage Manager: Emily Pye!!  (She is all kinds of amazing!)

Set Design: Stephen Wathen

Light Design: Mike Munoz (There will be no smoke machines.)

Still figuring out Sound, AD, and Tech Director, but I shall keep you posted on that.

The next thing that I need to do is to find out what the budgeting looks like for this show.  I think I have some ideas on how to save some dough without compromising everything that I want. So that calls for a meeting with my Producer ladies, Nancy Kwong and Liz Dale.

Well, now that I am super excited again, I think I am going to go back to work on my “stuffs.”

I think I wanna knit now and listen to a podcast.

It’ll be a nice way to wind down!

If you have any advice on how to let a friend down easy so that I am prepared for auditions, I would LOVE to hear it. All suggestions will be helpful.  Even the totally looney ones!  Leave a comment below with your ideas. Cheers!