♫ Opportunity Is NOT A Lengthy Visitor ♬♩

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For anyone that loves fairy tales, Disney-esque stories, or just Sondheim’s music, this is a MUST SEE!!!!

Theatre In The Mountains presents INTO THE WOODS

“Into the Woods,”  for those not familiar, is a brilliant weaving of several fairy tales into one complex narrative about what it takes to get what you want and the consequences that follow.  Act 1 is a light, positive and funny chapter, for lack of a better word, that shows the main characters struggling to make their dreams a reality.  From the childless Baker to the poverty stricken Jack, each character wishes that their situations could be fixed.  Then, thanks to some magic beans from the Witch’s garden, opportunity strikes.  Act 2 is the chapter when the lessons are learned.  The songs are a little less jovial, but much more touching and still just as clever.

In this production, director Ian Leonard, has created not just another show, but an experience that is brilliant.

The use of this space and the space around this space and the atmosphere lend themselves fully to the characters who traverse the woods in search of their wishes.  The actors stayed in character as they walked from behind the set and into the actual woods around the audience.  To watch them as they explored the woods just added that extra layer of complexity.  Not only do you get the main focal point of the story which is happening on stage, but you get some of the side story as you watch the actors that are off stage.

The usual way that the show begins is with an older gentleman, known as The Narrator.  As I said, that is the usual way. Mr. Leonard changed the dynamic of the story by placing the Narrator position in the hands of a child.  The show now becomes a product of imagination rather than a series of events, which I feel draws the audience in even more.  It also makes songs like “Witch’s Lament” and “Children Will Listen” that much more moving.  Let me tell you, there were several tears to be shed by the end.

But the good things about this show aren’t only the direction and the set, no.  They are also the actors themselves.  This is one of the strongest casts I’ve seen recently.  And that’s including the Faustus cast at the SJRep.  But “that’s another story. Never mind – Anyway,”   yes, the cast was great!  The Princes in their smug yet charming demeanor.  The feisty little granny who can skin a wolf.

But let’s break this down a little further.  Jeremy Goel, as the Narrator made it so believable that this was just him playing with his toys.  At first he was wide eyed and excited as he unpacked his backpack with the toy representation of the characters, but later realizing that even in make believe there are consequences.

Alison Koch, as Cinderella, was wonderful!  Her voice just soars in that open space and our hearts break with hers as she realizes that her Prince isn’t as charming as she had hoped.

The naive lad, Jack, played by Stefan Montana had line delivery that was perfection.  So hopeful, yet so clueless.

Shawn Bender makes you laugh, hope, cry, then hope again in his turn as the Baker.  Fantastic role for him!

Cindy Powell, as the Baker’s Wife, has one of my favorite songs in the show “Moments In The Woods.”  She added little subtleties in the delivery and facial expressions that I LOVE to see actors do especially if it hasn’t been done by other people.

Speaking of… That leads me to The Witch.  She was amazing! Kristen Hermosillo delivers in this role!  As I was saying with Ms. Powell, Ms. Hermosillo interpreted her role uniquely as well.  My favorite moment of the play, and there were a lot of them, but absolute fave is when she sings “And then bang! Crash! And the lightning flash! And – Well, that’s another story. Never mind – Anyway,” most people I’ve seen sing this song with fear about the flashes and the noise, but it looked like Ms. Hermosillo, was reveling  in it.  And then she laughed off the never mind,  get back to business – anyway.  Sheer magic!

Samantha Stidham and Elizabeth McClelland as Florinda and Lucinda were hilarious!!  They combine sass, conceit, haughty into a single diva-licious element and work that stage!

Not to be outdone, as the Stepmother, Kimberly Kay is just as haughty and sassy, but add a gallon of conniving and you have the Mutha of all divas!  Just watching her get the shoe onto her daughters’ feet is worth the price of the ticket!  Just saying!

Then, there is Brett Carlson that pulls double duty as the Wolf and the Steward. I cannot describe this in a way that doesn’t sound weird.  But here goes.  Ya know how people get sympathy pains or feel empathy for others? Well, his wolf is SO focused on the deliciousness that will be Little Red Riding Hood that my mouth started to water.  Think of it was a mind meld.  I know I am weird.  Then to see him take the Steward into what I think of as an over-exaggeration of an over-exaggeration of himself.   It was brilliant!  I hope he doesn’t get mad that I say that.

The plucky sarcasm and attitude that is Little Red Riding Hood was not lost by Lisa Meehan.  She had the audience laughing throughout the show and cheering for her after “I Know Things Now.”

I could go on with this for the entire cast, but alas the entry would be too long and I would rather you click the link below to get tickets and see for yourself this fantastic show.  It only has 3 more performances: Thursday 7/18, Friday 7/19 and Saturday 7/20 all shows begin at 7PM.  Get your tickets here: Theatre In The Mountains

Congrats to Jillian Cummings, the cast and staff of Into The Woods!! You have yourself a true gem!

As Stephen Sondheim says: “Opportunity is NOT a lengthy visitor”  Get your tickets now.  You only have 3 chances to see the show.

Thanks Universe; Lesson learned…

This picture says it all…

I am sure that I’ve mentioned that I am going to be the choreographer for Aladdin Jr. at Theatre in the Mountains.  Well, at least I was…

I am a pretty trusting fella.  I like to believe that the best of people is what’s the most seen, even if sadly, if the best of a person acts like a jerk.  But this story is about more than just a single person.

Back in August, I was brought on board as part of the staff and I was emailing the producer, Gina F. with questions and such.  I was told that my commitment to the show was one day a week and to see the performances.  Okay, cool.  I can do that.  I asked if I could come in on Thursdays as that is my regular day off from work.  Gina said sure, but can you be there for auditions and at least two of the tech week days.  My response was of course I could, and I can even be there every day of tech week.  The next email I got included “Just asking… Tuesdsay, Sept 27th – the director is unavailable for rehearsals 3:00-5:00. Any chance we could make that a dance day? (I’m guessing it’s no, but had to ask).”  I can switch, it wouldn’t be an issue.  Tadah!!

I’ve done nothing but bend over backward and take the additional time off to work on auditions and callbacks and tech and the 27th.  All I wanted was for the one day that I worked to be Thursday.  Sounds pretty reasonable, I thought.  And according to an email I got from Gina, the producers were okay with it too.

I was so excited when my contract got dropped off at work.  The only problem was that I was at work, so I couldn’t read it in front of her and sign it (and get a photocopy of it) for her to take it back to the company.  There was a date set for our first production meeting and I was jazzed.   Hands and all!!  The meeting gets cancelled and no one tells me why.  A week later I get an email that says:  “We lost our Director so things are a little on hold at the moment. We are making calls and trying to find staffing for Director and Musical Director. Hang tight, we’ll get there. I’ll let you know when things are rescheduled.”

A few days ago, I got a call from Gina and she basically said that  because of the new director, all of the things that we worked out before he arrived are now not enough.  Of course, I also have to state as I did in the call that neither herself nor any of the other producers attempted to contact me to see if there was a way to rework the scheduling.  She wouldn’t give me any true details.  Everything she told me was so vague and that the producers didn’t know any more than they were telling me. This of course was a lie.  Luckily, my connection on the inside was able to give me a lot of details and it makes me a little sad that they don’t understand how a theatre company is supposed to be run.  Yeah, I said it.   So I basically worked on this show for several hours for absolutely nothing.  What’s really the most annoying is that the company didn’t sign the contract first, LIKE THEY SHOULD HAVE.  I was an admin assistant for American Musical Theatre of San Jose, so I know a thing or two about this sort of stuff.  Of course, waiting to read the contract until I got home was a big amateur move.  So I called some people that I know that know how a professional company should be run and some of the things I heard were a little eye opening.  I also contacted the former director and got his perspective as well.  Boy, oh boy, the next time I am offered something by this company I am going to have to make sure that those producers are not involved in any way shape or form.

I want to also make it very clear that I lay the complete blame with the producers and the director.  The new Artistic Director had invited myself and the former director to the company to shake it up and give the company a new energy.  I respect her desire to build a company so I don’t fault her at all.  I wish her the absolute best of luck on achieving that goal even if her employees are fighting her tooth and nail.

What I hope that you, dear reader, take from this story is to make sure that you have the power signature (Artistic director, major producer) of the theatre company before you sign it AND that you have an extra copy for yourself.  Be sure there is a clause in the contract that speaks to the issue of unfinished work or failure to provide services.  Read the contract thoroughly and be sure that there are hard dates  for when things are expected.  After you return the contract (if by mail), I would follow up to make sure that someone received it.  Save all emails and if a new item is worked in make sure you have a proper addendum added to your contract.

So like I said, Thank you to the Universe, I appreciate the lesson and I will be more diligent next time when it comes to crossing T’s and dotting I’s.




Be Careful What You Wish For…

Well, I guess my  “vacation” is ovah!!

Almost a month ago, I put it out there that I would love to live a more creative life.

My first step was accepting the first opportunity with an open heart and to commit to learning from that opportunity.

So, I attended a small seminar that was mainly to learn about a new way of thinking and breaking through personal subconscious barriers.  The four columns that uphold this new line of thinking are quantum physics, Eastern philosophies, neuroscience and a trick or two from theatre.  I am a science nerd at heart and love this sort of stuff, so if it helps with what it says it does, then great! But even if it doesn’t, I would still love to find out what these people are teaching and how these four methods are combined.  There were some interesting stories that were told. My fave was about the natural mind versus the acquired mind.   The natural mind is the “empty” brain that we have when we are born.  The acquired mind is what we have stored in the brain through experience.  They say that the majority of everything you know is learned by the time you are 7 or so.  The hostess spoke of turning down more money when it was offered to her.  The theory is that she had learned that she was only worth so much and wouldn’t know how to handle this new responsibility.  Coincidentally, her sister was also offered a crazy good promotion and turned down the offer as well.  When they finally talked about it, it turned out that both offers were much more than what their mother had made as a nurse when they were growing up.    The seminar hostess made sure to tell us that both offers were made in different places and times and they hadn’t discussed it with one another at all, AND that they both talked themselves out of taking the opportunity.  So the question is: is this somehow a subconscious betrayal that they’ve learned as children and did it truly affect their decision?  I am so incredibly excited to be able to attend this 3day workshop at the end of the month!! What will I learn about myself that I’ve supressed?   Ugh, in some ways, I don’t really want to know.

So that has become opportunity one.

Opportunity dos came in a Facebook message from the gorgeous Jillian Toby-Cummings asking if I would be interested in working on Aladdin Jr. for Theatre in the Mountains.  At first, the thought terrified me.  Then I thought about the seminar, so with a big inhale, I replied back saying I would be happy to do it. For a while I didn’t hear anything so I thought maybe it wasn’t going to happen.  But then, I got more emails, and soon availability was talking and auditions.  So now I can’t wait.

Opportunity three came via email from Nancy Kwong asking if I would be interested in being a part of the performing group at the West Valley Light Opera ERMA Awards.  It’s just a song here and a dance there, so of course I’d be happy to do it.  The rehearsals have been few and far between and the banquet is at the end of the month.  It’s on the last day of the seminar, so I have to RUSH home and change and get to the dinner before the entertainment begins to get all situated.  Boy this one is gonna be tough.

Number four: Was one that was poorly planned on my behalf.  I wanted to audition for WVLO’s How To Succeed partially because I wanted to do another show, but mostly because I want to stop being so fearful at auditions.  There were about a dozen auditions happening within these last two weeks that I wanted to audition for as many as I could.  Turns out that the “Succeed” auditions were first.  I didn’t think I was impressive in the least, but soon after the callbacks, I was being offered Bart Bratt, the Personnel Manager.  Cool, but I said I’d like to get back to them because of the other auditions.  The producer, Sergio Pena,  is such a great guy and I get along well with him, so he made me feel like I was terrible for not doing his show.  He first told me “I totally understand, what you are trying to do as far as creating a career and how it’ll affect shows, but not when it’s my show.”  On top of this, he and I spoke about it over dinner one night when we were hanging out AND he said I should try to audition more outside of my little corner of comfort.  So he talked me into doing the show.  That clever little man!  hahaha

And last but not least, number 5: I’ve been taking classes at Zohar Dance Studios for a couple of months now.  I guess every year during Christmas they have a winter recital.  Now I have NEVER been one to want to join in this, but the teachers are just so nice and fun and enthusiastic about teaching that when they asked me to participate I had to say yes.  The number I am in is called Inner Man.  It’s me and 3 other guys each trying to be the Alpha Male.  The music is tribal and percussive so it’s easy to feel that sort of primal urge, but some of the movements are tricky, tricky.

I told my partner Perry this morning at breakfast: “I know I said I wanted to live this kind of a life, but I didn’t expect it all to just jump right into my lap.”

But I am ever grateful and cherishing every opportunity and moment of it.