🎼You Gotta Get It Right While You Got The Time, Cuz When You Close Your Heart, Then You Close Your Mind…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

This a post that isn’t as fully formed as I was hoping as I rushed to get my thoughts in place. The post that was supposed to be uploaded had references to the Golden Globes and with the passing of Lisa Marie Presley, I felt like it wasn’t the right time to post it.💔

I am currently in rehearsal for a staged reading of a new play called La Lechuza or The Owl Witch. It is a really neat opportunity to see a play evolve and morph into a more matured version of itself. I am loving the conversation we are having during our time together.

In a previous post, I had expressed a want to figure out myself to try and find that elusive self love that we are always hearing about. One of the biggest blank spaces I have in regards to my sense of self is culture 🇲🇽 and what it means for me and how I can embrace it and be more comfortable in my milk chocolatey colored outer candy shell.

Last spring/summer, while I was involved with The Pear Theatre’s Pear Slices performances, I had a back and forth email conversation with one of the playwrights, Linda Amayo-Hassan who is writing my current project.

Growing up, I had always known where I should be. The silly tests like “what job would you be suited for” and the like all said the same thing and it was what I had already known. Entertainment. Yet, when I think back at all the shows that I watched, I didn’t see people like me in the roles that weren’t thugs or criminals of some kind, if they were in the show or movie at all. There were a handful of Latinx people on TV, but those were in dramas and I wasn’t keen on those as a kid. I stopped associating with anything that was culturally focused. I thought that I would be looked at as lesser than by theatre directors if I was more proud of it. 

In my neighborhood and in schools I attended, so many of the mocha colored kids, like myself, were a part of gangs or misbehaving in some other way. Of course, that just isn’t my personality, Dear Reader. Eventually, I just made it through life believing that culture and race didn’t matter, that you just had to be a good person. 

In an old job at Nordstrom, I used to work with this amazing lady name Mebrat. She was from Eritrea, a small country in Northern Africa. I swear that every day, as she watched people coming or going, she would say at least once “I wonder where s/he is from?” Finally, after weeks of this, I asked her why is that so important? Isn’t it more important that the person is kind and compassionate? I didn’t yell this or anything, mind you, Kind Reader, I respected her so much and we had some of my favorite conversations. I was truly curious because that was how my perspective was focused. She told me that she wanted to know what similarities were shared, what did they enjoy about their lives, did they emigrate here, were they second or third or more generation “American.” She was a lot like me, full of curiosity. Where we differed was that she was curious about people and I was curious about things and creating things. Her questions were “who are they?” and mine were “how did they do that?” While she did teach me to be curious about people, it wasn’t to the point that I needed to know where they were from and how that informed their view of the world. 🌍

It wasn’t until as recently as 3 or 4 years when I began to appreciate more movies from other cultures that shared their traditions and joys, and of course the terrible racist events around the country, that are still happening TO THIS DAY, that I began to want to know more about my own. And it sort of showed me a hole that had been falsely covered like some sort of hunting trap that one falls in because they weren’t looking where they were going.

Ms. Amayo-Hassan’s piece in the Pear Slices was about a Puerto Rican family who had lost their home on the island due to Hurricane Katrina, and the lack of help that followed. It was a beautiful piece because even while surrounded by this profound amount of death and loss, the parents still had hope and still were able to make one another smile. In it, the father questions if the government would have stepped in faster if this happened on the mainland. While Puerto Ricans are considered U.S. citizens, this government dragged their feet getting any sort of assistance to the island to help rescue and rebuild. So he wondered if they are really citizens and asks why would they let “their people”suffer? Why would the government not help as it should? While I worked on this short play, I was finding all of these little questions in his motivations, his reactions and his silence. When I first started the play, I took it rather fairly straightforward with the upbeat parts being upbeat and the serious parts being more reserved. Then, as we got to walk through the piece more and more, I was finding things that felt like little betrayals, or small prayers for the dead, or at one point just fury.

Gentle Reader, I slowly began to realize that I had more in common with this character than I thought. I noticed that I was really hitting on some inner hurts that I had inflicted on myself thinking I was merely “American.” Finding all these gems of pain and sadness and betrayal even that Ricardo, the father character, felt helped to fill that hole I was feeling a little. 

This new play, La Lechuza, is helping me learn a little more about the culture from my cast mates and I am doing my best to absorb everything that they are saying. It is also helping my pronunciation of the language. I would say this is a pretty good start on the self discovery path. This project is a staged reading for More Más Marami Arts in March, I believe. I will keep you posted as details get finalized.

Well, I hope this wasn’t too much of a jumbled mess of a post. As I mentioned before, it was a bit of a rush job to get this idea mostly formulated. I didn’t know how it was going to go because I know I had to give you a lot of backstory to get to the point. I just hope I got to it. 😂

Thank you, Dear Reader, for joining along in my rambles as I try to figure out my messy brain and all around self so that I can be my best when I step on to the stage. I always appreciate the chance to bend your ear. 

Until next time, stay safe and alert. Be kind and take care of yourself and those you care about. 

❤️

🎼 Thought I Heard Your Voice Yesterday, Then I Turned Around To Say… 🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

Can you believe that my current show A Christmas Story is in its fourth and final week? Too soon, I say! 😂 But as I say in the show “Finally, all good things must come to an end. There were no more presents to be opened, just empty boxes and paper around the tree.”

While this is bittersweet, it isn’t what I wanted to write about. There is something that has been bothering? No, that isn’t the right word… weighing on my mind is a better way to put it.

This week has been a roller coaster of emotions. Amazing highs from the show and seeing some adored friends in the audience after to lows and valleys of sadness because work has had some terrible news for colleagues and friends of mine. Yet in the middle of all that was this encounter that I had after the matinee last Sunday.

After the show, I had gone into the lobby because I was hoping to snag a hot chocolate, it may or may not have been spiked🤭 and while I was out there, this gentleman approaches me. But he has this really weird energy and my paranoia went into red alert. I checked my surroundings to see what and who was around me.

Being out in public always puts me on edge anyway because of all these mass shootings. But now add all the hate crimes that seem to be popping up all over the country, and that just makes my fight or flight response even more active. My Dear Reader, I totally know that women live this life everyday and THAT is a tragedy because when do they get the chance to not have tension in their lives? I feel for them. It makes my soul weep that our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and friends have to live with the fear always lingering.

At this point, he is standing next to me and I say “hi” but he just has this sad smile on his face. After a group passes by, he says that he really enjoyed the show. I tell him “that’s fantastic. Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome audience.” Then he starts to say something, but his voice catches so he clears his throat, the way guys do when they don’t want to give away that they are experiencing an emotion, and says “you remind me of my best friend that I had.” He told me the friend’s name, I want to say it was Eddie, but I am only partially listening because my brain is wondering if this guy was ok. He goes on to tell me that his friend used to love “doing drama” but that while it wasn’t his particular thing, but he would go and support his friend when he did perform. He said he almost thought I was actually him. Voice, appearance and mannerisms all lined up according to this man. The thing was that his friend had died when he was 30.

I could see that he was still feeling the sorrow of that loss and I extended my condolences. This man was a little younger than I but I couldn’t tell how much so I wasn’t sure how recent this was.

This experience has been in my thoughts since then. Did he need closure? Did he truly just miss his friend that much? What was the rest of the story? I didn’t know how to respond and I am disappointed in myself that I didn’t say something more than just vague condolences. After a few minutes, the guy left and I wandered back to the stage in a daze, confused by what just happened. It felt like an hour but it was really only moments, I rushed back to the lobby to find the guy. My intent was to offer to go grab a cup of coffee or even a drink and just toast the memory of his friend. He seemed like he needed it.

However, I was so thrown off by this encounter, I couldn’t even recall what he was wearing. I could have been looking right at him and I wouldn’t know it. Well, I do remember he had on a black beanie that was pulled low on his forehead.

I just wish that I had caught him in time. His sadness was palpable and it just seemed that this little gesture could have been of some comfort to him. Or should I have offered him a hug? I just feel like some compassion was needed and I failed miserably to offer it.

For the life of me, Kind Reader, I cannot get it out of my head that I didn’t act in alignment with my personal ethics. Logically, I understand that I don’t have to do anything, but my heart just keeps saying, “I’m not mad, just disappointed.”

It is exhausting to have your brain and your heart disagreeing. I am trying hard to put this to bed so that it doesn’t affect the show. One thing I would like to put into the Universe is that if that fella happens to be reading this; I hope he will send me an email and let’s go have a toast to your friend and you can tell me some of your favorite memories.

Thanks for letting me bend your ear, Good Reader! I hope you know how much I appreciate you. What would you do in my situation? Let me know because I feel like I am falling down the ladder of human virtue.

Until next time, stay safe and alert. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

❤️

🎼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…

❤️

Altos!! I feel you!! Whew, child…

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Hellllloooooo, Dear Reader!!!

What a weekend it has been! Our little production has been a MASSIVE hit and the audiences have been NUTS this weekend. LOL!

It has been such a treat to work on this production. When I was asked to join the cast, I was thinking it would be for Mushnik or ensemble. Secretly, I was hoping it would be the dentist and the 3 people that offer Seymour contracts in “Meek Shall Inherit.”

And then, Gentle Reader, THEN director, Whitney, says “we are thinking you will be a great Ronnette.” SAY WHAT!!?? Of course, immediately I said “I’m in!!”

I didn’t realize the implication of what this role would take. I LOVED IT!!!

It has been one of the most challenging roles to date. As a tenor, I automatically go for the higher notes in harmonies and the melody lines in songs. I know there is a tenor joke in there somewhere. (How many tenors does it take…)

Singing the alto line was SO much harder than I expected. It wasn’t the fact that it was higher than I usually sing, it was the fact that I kept trying to jump up to the soprano’s notes.  It was so hard for me to maintain my vocal line. I know, I KNOW, singing isn’t my strong suit and this is my first major vocal role in almost 2 years. So I tried not to get too upset when I couldn’t get things right immediately.

To say that I leveled up my patience is an understatement. I know I had a crap ton of work to do.  It wasn’t just because I was missing nearly half of the rehearsal time, but because the revival music is so much more complicated than the original.

My Dear Reader, let me tell you that the stress levels were high. Not only were the songs something to focus on, but I had to find my way through playing one of these roles in a gender bent versus a drag performance. I am so glad that the director wanted to try the gender bend because it gave me more of a chance to find ways to bring something a little bit different than what is already in the bones of the show.  I kept thinking how can I, as a male counterpart to the two other ladies in the the trio, react to things in the script. For example, in Act 2, the Shoppettes, fawn over Seymour in Scene 3, which is right after Mushnik’s last scene (just to keep the details vague in case of spoilers, LOL) and I felt like that it wasn’t the right move for me to also make. Instead, I used the line that one of the other Shoppettes says “You’re going to be so rich,” into the start of my character arc building. I then went back through the script and used “Somewhere That’s Green” (we are on stage at this point) as my motivation to get out of Skid Row. Everything from that point on, all my choices are driven to be sure that #RonnettemakesitoutofSkidRow.

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Oh, Kind Reader, with only 2 more performances to go, it feels like we are still finding more and more joy each time we step on those boards at Pintello Comedy Theater and I am going to be so sad to see this production end.

Be sure you catch this show while you can! What’s your favorite song from this show? Mine has to be the title track. I am bummed that I only get to slip on my mermaid sequin green/black jacket two more times. That’s right.  You’ll have to see it. Is there a moment in the show that you love? That would be mine. LOL! Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Until next time, Gentle Reader!

Closing time…

The last thing that I saw just before strike.

Now that “Shakespeare 3 Ways” has played it’s final performance, and the set has been taken apart and stowed away, and the theatre has been dark for a day or two.  I am getting a little anxious at the thought of the coming weekend arriving and me without a show to perform, or even any rehearsals to ease the withdrawal I tend to feel during those first two weeks away from a show.  I got so used to seeing the people that I was working with that it’s almost the same as “coming home.”  I guess it’s that sense of familiar that I crave.  I know that at a certain time, I would be on the road to the venue, and then I will have odd things to wear, whispered conversations behind the curtain as the audience files into the house.   This weekend instead of the above mentioned scenario,  I’m gonna be either at home watching a movie, or hanging out with friends which is always fun, or maybe reading, or writing.  But I know that it won’t be performing, and that makes me a wee bit blue.

At the end of the show last Sunday, Craig asked for a few minutes to get some closure on his work being brought to life “officially.”  As he began walking the stage, in one archway and out another, around the back of the main curtain, at the far end of the stage nearest the emergency exit and up onto his kingly throne once more, I wondered what was happening in his head.  He first steps on that stage at that particular time had so much of “something” in them that I felt compelled enough to grab my camera and shoot some pictures.  I couldn’t say what that “something” was, but it felt major.  So much so that now that I’ve seen the images I’ve gotten, I almost feel embarrassed for taking them.  The moments seem to private that I don’t feel like I should share them.  On the other hand, I can’t delete them.  So they shall sit in my computer as a memory for me.  A memory about the time when a group of people took a chance and cast me in two roles that originally called for someone quite the opposite of, well, me.  And when I see those pictures, I will wonder “What is going through his mind?” Is it happiness that a new theatre company that you’ve helped to create is up and running?  Is it panic, regarding the turn out of the audience?  Is it sadness that the show has come to an end?   Is it regret that the show was different than what you intended? Is it a combination of all of the above?  Maybe it’s similar to the withdrawals that I will have this weekend, but he’s just solving that problem with true closure.  Maybe one day, years from now, I’ll ask him.