🎼 Won’t Let A Stranger Give Me A Social Disease 🎶…

Hello Dear Reader!

Forgive my absence for the last few weeks. I ended up contracting coronavirus at the end of January. It was so hard! I have never been so sick that I couldn’t do anything. I wanted nothing more than just to be sleeping. I didn’t want to eat or look at any sort of social media. I didn’t want to read. It just felt best when I was lying down and alone. At one point, during the first week, I had terrible back pain. It was so bad that I couldn’t get comfortable and get any rest. As long as I was lying down, I was ok, but as soon as I needed to talk or move, I had a hard time catching my breath. It felt like it took forever just to get the simplest sentence out. Finally, I called the advice nurse and she urged me to go to the ER because my breathing was more labored than it should be. So it was off to the emergency room where I spent a good seven or eight hours.

It was a little scary because they took me outside to this tent structure that was used for covid patients. The doctors there were very kind and really upbeat. There weren’t many other people when I arrived but after they got what seemed like 20 vials of blood from me, four other patients came in. The doctor gave me two bags of fluids to curb my dehydration and injected me with something that was to help with the back pain. After about 15 minutes, the pain subsided and I was finally able to lay comfortably so I tried to get some sleep, but with all that was going on, I couldn’t. They wheeled me to another part of the tent and did a chest X-ray. The doctor came back after a couple of hours and said that it looks like I had pneumonia. His final assessment was that I had Covid induced pneumonia.

Even when I had regular pneumonia, I still was able to go to rehearsals and get through the three or four hour block of time. This was something way more painful than the regular illness. It made me question everything. I wondered what I was doing with my life. I couldn’t find anything enjoyable to focus on except for a sweet little note from my friends, Nancy and Riley. I put it next to my bed so I could see it all the time. About four days after the ER visit, I began to feel like a fog was clearing. At one point, I felt like I was time traveling and was in random places that didn’t feel like dreams. I know what dreams are like, I remember them pretty well. These felt like different times and foreign lands. Usually when I dream, when the “scene changed” it would just morph and suddenly the setting would be different. In this “dream time” I was literally whisked away through a kind of portal to the new setting. It was the most fascinating and unnerving thing I have ever experienced.

I know, I know, Gentle Reader. It sounds so bizarre.

In the last week, as I got better, I began to want to sing. I know I couldn’t yet because I didn’t have any diaphramatical support since the coughing made breathing difficult. I started by just trying to hum along with the songs from Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Breathing and humming along in the same phrases that the singer would use. I gradually had made it to actually singing. I still have some coughing fits and my range isn’t what it was, but I can feel the strength coming back. I continue to use musicals to help with my breathing and I wonder if anyone else has used singing to try and “get back to normal.”

So, Kind Reader, have you found ever used any of the Arts to help heal you? I feel like having that little hand written note helped me to begin to heal. I traced the letters and hearts. Then, with all that love I felt in that note, I turned to things that I loved to help me continue to heal. Call me crazy, but I honestly think without that small note of love and kindness, I would have taken a lot longer to heal. I even completed a 45 minute online workout and only had to stop once.

I don’t know where I am going with this, but I needed to get this out. I thank you once again, Dear Reader for letting me bend your ear. Until next time, stay safe and aware. Let me know if you have ever used something you love to get better from an illness in the comments.

🎼There’s Something Due Any Day…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!!

Happy New Year! Well, close to it anyway. 😉

I recently came upon a meme or maybe it was just a few sentences in a colorful box… in any case, it inspired me to work on a project that is still causing me to quake.

I have this dislike, pretty much an irrational fear, of being on videos and pictures. If I don’t see the camera, or they are far away, then I am fine, but I freeze up with a camera all up in muh face, ya know?

This idea came to me about 2 weeks ago. It has me REALLY excited because I get to do things that I don’t think have been done yet. Here’s the thing, I always get what I think are really cool ideas, but then I freak out because they aren’t turning out as good as I would like so they get put in the “Finish Later” pile. Next thing I know, the idea is out in the world from the mind of someone else. And people like it. It’s great because it validates the idea, but I get bummed out because I didn’t finish hatching the idea into its fullest form.

I had listened to an audio book a million years ago, at least that’s what it feels like, about creativity and the life of it. It posits that an idea is a small “living” thing. It connects with someone that could bring it to life and you make an agreement to do it so it sticks with you. However, if you don’t complete your end of the agreement, it will go off and find another person that could bring it into fruition.

Well, Dear Reader, I am tired of breaking my “contracts.” The only way for me to get past that is to face my dislikes/fears and get my big ass in gear. I need to talk myself down when I start to freak out. This always seems to happen when I begin the actual “building” of the project. My process always has me write out what the whole project should be. It helps to create the game plan and I am always jazzed about this part. Next, I get the tools or equipment, and once those start to accumulate, I start the freaking out. I don’t know why… I am lying, I do know. What if people hate it? What if it doesn’t work? What if it just isn’t a good idea? Like drinking Clorox to kill the Covid-19 virus. (DON’T DO THAT BY THE WAY!!!)

So, I posted my first video on Instagram in an effort to take that first step. It was kind of rushed and I should have really warmed up my voice since I haven’t really sang like this all year. And my Covid hair is all wackadoo. Well, not too bad, it is just so unruly. I wake up in the mornings with Einstein’s crazy hair. 😂😂This was also a great way to figure out how I can set up for video auditions. It was satisfying to figure that out and to know that I have this information in my back pocket so if I need to do an audition with little prep time, I can pop this out quick and not have to think about it.

The passage that I had mentioned at the top of the post went something to the effect of: (I can’t recall the exact numbers, so that will probably be off). “In his life, Van Gogh painted thousands of works. From that, only about 100 are famous. From that, only half are masterpieces. The object should not be to create a masterpiece with every work but to create pieces that others may see regardless if they were brilliant.”

With that in mind, I will never complete anything if I try to make everything exactly like I see it in my head. (Even though that is way cooler than what the real thing becomes.) I will have to try frickin’ hard to let go of that mentality, but I am hoping that by writing about it and putting in the universe that it will be easier. 🤞for me.

To you, Kind Reader, I wish you the most amazing 2021. May you follow your passions, conquer your fears, and love with your whole heart. I thank you for allowing me to vent/rant/ramble and what not. I look forward to connecting with you all better in the coming months.

Happy New Year, you lovely people.

Lend Me Your Ear👂…ANY Ear👂. Seriously!

Hello Gentle Reader!

I cannot believe how fast September arrived. For the last month, I have been in a pretty consistent back and forth with Kaiser regarding an infection or something with my left ear!

I had video calls that was 3 minuted and 4 questions that ended with “I’m sorry I can’t help you.” But let me tell you that MF’er helped himself to $80 for that BS. I have never been so mad! 😡

I know that the hospitals are trying to limit incoming patients as much as they can due to COVID. That being said, I honestly feel that there are some things that you absolutely cannot resolve on a video call so why even try.

Finally, after the third email I sent directly to my doctor, he agreed to see me in person. The first two emails were asking about the ear and seeing if I should talk to an otolaryngologist or if he could help. He thought it would be great to try them first but to wait a few days to see if the issue cleared up on its own as most ear aches do. I was a little nervous because everything I read said if the issue lasts more than a week it could result in hearing loss. Losing my hearing or sight are two of my biggest fears, right up there with losing my memory and astraphobia.⚡️⚡️

After the video call, I opted for a local urgent care that had me in the very next day, but I don’t think they gave me the right info. I was prescribed antibiotic ear drops that worked for a day or two.

At this point, my paranoia began keeping me up at night. It brought up a very old memory from one of the gazillion hospital shows where a kid was leaking spinal fluid out of their ear and they almost didn’t catch what it was.

Oh, I may have forgotten to mention that I had fluid coming out of my ear. It was easy to soak up with a cotton swab and shocking at how fast my ear would fill back up. What sucked was when I would get to sleep, eventually the fluid would start to come out and it would feel like a bug crawling around my ear. Of course, me being me, I would freak out. 😩 So I haven’t been sleeping all that well either. It has really only felt like August was about 2 weeks long.

Here’s the thing though, Dear Reader, the more frustrating part about the whole thing is that it has greatly affected the joy I take in singing. Everything sounds like it is underwater and kind of quiet. When I first tried to sing along with something, I actually stopped because it didn’t feel like it sounded right at all. I don’t quite know how to explain that. 🙈

Have you ever sang something that you felt good about singing because you know you were right in the pocket of the song? By pocket I mean, you are singing the right notes and words and you can even find harmonies that work. Yes? Ok, what do you do when you don’t feel like you are in the pocket? You got either stop and take a breath and get back to it, or you slide up or down to the right pitch to adjust. I still don’t think I am explaining this right, but in any case, I tried all of that, and it just didn’t feel right. Later that same day, I was talking to my brother on the phone and he said I didn’t sound normal either. When I spoke louder, he said it sounded better, so now I feel like I am shouting all the time. I think the biggest thing that happened was when my hubs made mention of it. One night while he was watching TV, the Living Spaces commercial came on and I always kind of mock the jingle tag at the end and this time he said, “Oh that was off.” This was something that I have done several times a day in the last few months so for this one to stand out really made me stop and wonder how much of an issue this ear thing is.

Unlike a traditional ear ache or infection, there is no pain. There is a lot of itching and cotton swabs have been such great tools to fix that problem. Then, there is the liquid. The doc doesn’t know where it is coming from because he can’t see the ear drum so now I get an in person appointment to see an otolaryngologist. It only took a month to get this far. Still waiting for them to call and set that appointment.

I am a little worried at how little I can actually hear from my left side now and hope it isn’t going to be permanent. This in turn stresses me out thinking about how this is going to affect auditions and what not. I took a bit of a spiral around the two and half week point, but got it together after the urgent care visit. Fingers crossed that I don’t spin out again before my appointment.

Honestly, it would just feel so good to sing again. I don’t even think I do it well, but I enjoy it and miss it.

My Kind Reader, thank you for letting me bend your ear whilst lamenting the issue I am having with mine. I considering calling the Advice Nurse to advise me on how to file a formal complaint with the hospital. Have you ever had to argue your case just to get some help from your doctor? How long did it take for them to stop and hear you? The US Healthcare system is a joke.

I hope you stay safe and alert! Until next time….

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!

“… A Celebration of Humanity.”

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Vanity Fair September issue

‘Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

 

HELLO Gentle Reader!!!

Christmas time always brings around one of two things.. 1. A Star Wars movie or 2. a feel-good movie. I skipped 1 and went directly to 2. And I don’t regret it.

To say The Greatest Showman is a fantastic movie is barely doing the film justice in my opinion.

The idea of bringing yourself and others up from being held under by circumstances like class or appearance or race weaves a moving story of the start P.T. Barnum’s (Hugh Jackman) career, a dreamer with the belief that he can create a life for his family that is the complete opposite of his childhood. However, focusing on trying to fight your past can create other issues with your present.
Jackman’s performance is spectacular in all facets; the acting was clear and strong, the dancing was amazing (his clarity of movement and lines were mesmerizing), but for me, his singing was the clincher. If you were to listen to his performances in Oklahoma or Les Miserables or Boy From Oz, you know his “sound.” He’s a belter.  Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I want to hear a little variety in a voice. The Showman music has allowed him to show more of his voice in a way that I feel hasn’t been featured much, if at all. I was expecting it for Bring Him Home in Les Mis but never got it. Hearing him use this lower register more was like being given the most wonderfully unexpected surprise. This role could not have been played by anyone else that I can think of with the same power.
The major theme of acceptance runs throughout the film. From Barnum wanting to  elevate his status in society, to the performers in his circus wanting to just be a part of society not just its freak show as well as self acceptance, to Barnum’s wife, Charity (wonderfully played by Michelle Williams) who just wants a simple life with her family, to Zac Efron’s socialite producer, Phillip Carlyle, who is too afraid to lose status in society to find something that makes him happy.  The entire ensemble was fantastic. I was so happy to hear how talented all the actors were.
The script was written by Jenny Bicks (Emmy winner for Sex and the City)  and Bill Condon (Oscar winner for Chicago and Dreamgirls). It is no wonder why this movie feels so polished in its storytelling.
The beautiful and uplifting songs were written by the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, A Christmas Story and the incredible Dear Evan Hansen) and are easily something that can be recorded into a pop song and played on the radio.  I am a wee bit surprised that “This Is Me” “Never Enough” or “Rewrite the Stars” haven’t had that treatment yet. LOL. I found the music energetic and catchy and haven’t stopped listening to the soundtrack since.
Visually, it was a crazy spectacle of color and flash during the circus scenes interspersed with stunningly clear regular life. Some of the shots were just gorgeous. Two that pop in mind right away is during the number “Rewrite the Stars” there is a shot of Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) on the trapeze singing beautifully clear while the rest of the shot spins around her.  Then, in “This is Me” there is a moment where Lettie (Keala Settle) turns around and then everything else around slows down. There are so many great shots but there is also one really bad one. LOL. It happens toward the end of the movie during “From Now On.” With so much great imagery, there is one that is just so jarringly out of place I wanted to flip a table. GRRRRR!!! When you see the movie, I am sure you will see it. Still, director Michael Gracey has made a very well done film.
I was really excited to see this movie and am so glad that I enjoyed it so much. This is like a little love letter to the dreamers.  The people that want to be something more.
Like us.
Gentle reader, I’ve missed you.
I’ll talk to you this weekend.
j.