Joy and Payne…

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Dear gentle reader,

It has been 10 days since the final curtain was brought down on Guys and Dolls.

I have been struggling with a way to reflect on my experience with the Jewel Theatre Company.  As of late, being able to sit down to write has been a bit difficult as time does not always allow for such simple requests. However, when I got a little Facebook notice that it was a particular person’s birthday and that same day I opened my mailbox to find a card from that very same person, then the stars are saying I have to do it now!

This is gonna be a bit nuts, but bear with me, k? This post is gonna be wonky…

The Thursday night of our closing weekend, I had a dream. At the time it made no sense, but once I started organizing my thoughts for this post, the lightbulb finally went on.

The Dream:  I woke up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep.  I pulled up my Facebook account and immediately I get an IM from the one and only Lee Ann Payne, the choreographer for Guys and Dolls. The curious thing was that the message was a video message.  She was so excited because she was the proud owner of a violin. Not only that but she can actually play something on it.  She says, I am going to send you a video! Then she is gone.  I get a link for a video that is titled “I Just Want It To Quack.” I hit play, and sure enough there is Ms. Payne playing her violin and literally making it quack.  Like a duck. The video consists of many jump cuts as she joyfully plays her mallard fiddle and everything is lit with purple lights. (Think 80’s dance video if the description isn’t working for you.) This goes on for a brief chunk of time. Even though it is just quacks, I get a  complete story; beginning, middle, and end.  Then the dream is over.  So random! So nonsensical, but very very joyful.

I recall waking up and being full of smiles because it was such a kooky dream. Not only that, it had one of my favorite theatre people of all time in it!

I am sure that I have mentioned this a million times, but it is because of Ms. Payne that I was lucky enough to be a part of the G&D family.

This past year, I have been focused on trying to work with as many new theatre companies as possible and I can say happily that I got to work with 3 plus an independent production team that put on a world premiere opera.  Along with new theatre companies, I have harbored the secret wish of actually learning to play the violin which is my favorite instrument.

So now this is how the dream begins to morph into meaning for me.  A brilliant choreographer has in her hands something that I want, but don’t own and yet is familiar because of my love for the object which I  interpretation as that she hands me a wonderful opportunity doing something I love with with something new (people and places)!

The jump cuts seem to resemble how those 9 weeks of my life were.  Flashes of the things I needed to do at the time; work at job 1, go to rehearsal, work job 2, work job 1, go to rehearsal, etc…

I know that purple is the color of royalty, but I also associate it with magic.  There is nothing more magical to me than theatre and books.  Both take you on journeys that others have imagined, and to be  lucky enough to be able to bring those characters to life? Fuhgetaboutit!

The quacking I don’t quite get, I will admit.  I’d like to believe that it is for the phrase “lucky duck.” I always consider getting gigs like this to be sheer luck.  As I seem to have mentioned above… It could even mean something like “like a duck to water,” because from that very first rehearsal, everyone was friendly and helpful and it was just fun to be around them.  So yeah, maybe it does stand for lucky duck.

As this was a whole new group of people that I was going to work with, I was much quieter during this process than my usual self.  I had never worked with Linda Piccone, our sassy and funny, but unknown to me, director.  I couldn’t tell at first a lot of the time if she was joking or not because she has a really good poker face. Once we moved into the theatre, I finally realized that she was joking the whole time. LOL!

Taking the image of a happy lady playing a violin that literally sounds like a duck quacking automatically puts a laugh in my heart and a smile on my soul.  That, dear reader, is what the cast of G&D for Jewel Theatre did for me.  Through all the hard work, there were so many laughs.  So many times that I had tears in my eyes from all the funny that was happening.

If I were to name all the good things about the show, I could easily write a post this size for every day for the rest of the year and still not touch all of them. So I will tell you every bad thing… you ready?

 

Nothing
There was not a single thing that I would ask to change or do different.  Does that mean I never had a mistake during the show?  Oh, I did.  Plenty. Someone accidentally made me break character during the sewer scene after Sky Masterson says “… the air in the mission smells better than the air down here.” To which in the background mumbling was heard “Oh that’s my cologne, uh, my colon.”   I know! I know! I am still a 10 year old when people make poop jokes. But there was nothing bad; no divas, no drama, no problems. Just a wonderful group of hard working actors that I respect so much.

I will, however, say there are things that I will miss more:

  • The improv moments that happened nearly every night in the dressing room between two of the funniest men ever, Kurt and Chris!
  • The men’s dressing room in unity meowing Star Wars music and the exit music for G&D
  • DTK mic check performances, especially the joke about the bell!
  • Jordan’s incredible song library brain
  • Bryan’s silly funny corny jokes
  • Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat!!!!
  • The impromptu backstage interpretive dance performance by Lucas and Kurt during Adelaide’s Lament
  • Corie’s drunken stumble at the end of the “If I Were A Bell” scene. It is one of my favorite perfect moments of the show.
  • Domonic, DTK, and Lucas’ ending of the fugue.  Another perfect moment in the show.
  • David singing “Luck Be A Lady”
  • The amazing ladies performing “Take Back Your Mink”
  • Phil serving FACE during the song above.  Like serving it UP!
  • Domonic and Lucas’ nightly bantering which was always oddly inappropriate (more like naughty) but innocent in a way as only BFF’s can be and hilarious
  • Chris as Nathan Detroit!
  • Julie’s rendition of Adelaide’s Lament Reprise
  • Judith’s movie star entrance at the top of the show.  Another perfect moment, IMHO.

Speaking of Julie, when describing the owner of Jewel Theatre Company, inspiring is the word that comes to mind when you have the chance to work with her. She works so incredibly hard and at 100% 100% of the time.  How she balanced moving her company into a brand spanking new theater as well as performing such a big role at the same time, all while maintaining her sanity and her kindness, I will never know. Her drive to push Jewel forward reminds me a lot of another theatre owner down in Gilroy that I know…

Just like the name implies, Jewel Theatre Company was a gem to work for and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  To Julie James and the rest of the JTC family, thank you for the experience. It will always be a precious memory for me.

 

Dance Captain Reporting For Duty…

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And a part of me just wants to hide out in a cave until the idea passes.  LOL!

Whenever I choreograph a show, I usually assign the dancer that asks the most specific questions about details the task of being the dance captain.  The main reason I do this is because I know that they are dedicated to making the movements as close as possible to what I am asking for.  Usually this person is also technically sound and picks up steps fairly quickly… even when I don’t use counts and “boom kak whoosh” my way through a step.  I do try to use counts as much as possible but sometimes I will focus on particular sounds in the middle of the number just to confuse the heck out of my dancers.

That being said, I think that being asked to take on the title Dance Captain is a great compliment for a dancer.

You can bet your boo-tay that I am gonna be up late these next couple of days making some serious notes and possibly spreadsheets breaking down steps to counts.  But mind you, I did say POSSIBLY…  I just gotta find some time.

Anyone got any extra time that they can spare?  I need like 27 hours per day.  24 just ain’t cuttin’ it.

Welp, this has to be short, cuz… well… this kid is a Dance Captain!  Hahahaha

Until next time,

I salute you!

Not Yet. Please Not Yet…

Photo Courtesy of Edmond Kwong at Imagewurx
Photo Courtesy of Edmond Kwong at Imagewurx

If you are really lucky, you get the chance to be in productions where you wish it wouldn’t end. At least once.  I have been crazy for Crazy For You.

The reasons can be for anything; you love the role that you are playing, the show is going to Broadway, or like my case, the cast works so incredibly well together. We have celebrated birthdays for multiple people every single week of performances. We have laughed, been silly, stressed out, and danced ourselves sticky sweaty these last 10 weeks of rehearsals and performances.

It isn’t every show that I truly look forward to seeing every person every day.  I feel a wee bit sad that I won’t get to see them as much. Even though I have left the theatre at the end of the night sometimes with the need to soak in an ice bath or a tub of icy hot and bruised up, I have had a truly wonderful time working alongside such an outstanding group of people from every aspect of this production.

Every drop of sweat, every achy muscle, and every bit of glue has been well spent.  I think this little gem sparkles just right.  But just for two more performances.  Friday and Saturday…

I am going to be a sad mess on Saturday.

Maybe even Sunday.

I am not looking forward to this.

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!!

What Is THIS Feeling?…

With David Lampke, Amanda Vogel, Andrea Furtado, Samantha Stidham,  and Andi Kline
With David Lamcke, Amanda Vogel, Andrea Furtado, Samantha Stidham, and Andi Kline

With “Sugar” now officially open, I have this slight sense of sorrow.

For the last six months, I have been bouncing from one show to the next.  I’ve met so many amazing and fantastic people that have made me laugh, given me the creeps (they were supposed to), or terrified me, and I have enjoyed each moment.  There wasn’t a day were I thought “I don’t want to be here.”  Even on the really REALLY tough days.  I just thought “how can I make it better”

Last night, when I got home from the theatre, I kept walking to random parts of the apartment.  I had no idea what to do with myself.  For the rest of the night the only thing that ran through my head was: What do I do now?

My friends and I am sure my job would say take a break.  But my head and my heart are saying FIND SOMETHING!!  No, it’s more like they are screaming it! It’s been a blast just letting loose and throwing every idea I have in this last role.  It’s like I’ve been given free reign to do anything that I can think of (within character, of course) to bring life to my version of Daphne.  But now that the rehearsal period is over, I don’t have a new persona to “create” and I am feeling a little saddened by this.  Finding my good boy cop for “Nana’s Naughty Knickers” and my inner lecher for “Promises, Promises” and my cocky masculinity that turns to kind-hearted lady for “Sugar” let me explore my brain and feelings.  It was like exercise for those things.  The things that get missed because they aren’t used the same way our bodies are for dancing or brains for doing crossword puzzles.  I got to play pretend on my quiet by myself times and I saw such great things.

I think the best thing that someone said to me last night, even though I can’t say I agree, was “there were times that I forgot you were a guy!”

That is all thanks to the scenarios I got to play with in my head.  I had to think and feel things like what’s it like to be swept off your feet by someone you just met? Or how do you break the news you need to break without hurting anyone? Or how do you feel happy for your friend that’s happy but jealous and upset with your best friend for that same reason?  All of these from a female and a male perspective.  I hope that some of it comes through in this show and I don’t know for sure if it does because everything is so gosh darn funny.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that this show is FUNNY!!! So ya gotta keep on top of that too!

And I think that’s what made these last six months so incredible… it kept me on my toes emotionally and mentally.  Now I have this fear; what if it doesn’t happen again?

So we’ll see…

I hope you get the chance to see “Sugar” which is “Some Like It Hot” in musical form.  You can get tickets at WVLO.org or by calling 408-268-3777 and leaving a message on the voicemail.  It allows you to actually pic the best seats available this way.

In the meantime, since I have some to spare, I will be out and about looking for mischief and updating the blog a lot more.

Thanks for your patience during these busy but SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME few months.

♥♥

On to the next…

It’s that time again…Yup, you guessed it, 110 shopping days til Christmas!  KIDDING! Kidding!  It’s time to start rehearsing for a new show!

Tonight is our first rehearsal.  I finally get to meet everyone.  There are some people in particular that I am SO excited to see in their roles.  For example, mistress to the big wig, Hedy Le Rue will be played by the adorable Amanda Garley.  She is a faboo performer and I think it was an awesome choice by the staff.

If you haven’t seen the show, a quick summary is an eager young man manipulates his way to the top of a large corporation in various ways. On that path, he must overcome a jealous rival, to be played by Brett Carlson (Yay!), deal with a love sick secretary, and best the other managers of the company.  Will he do it?  Can he do it?  Come and see the show to find out!  However, I don’t recommend the movie.  There’s a lot left out, BUT you should take a peek at the Bob Fosse (my hero) choreographed “Coffee Break”.  I tried to find it on Youtube really quickly, but I have to get to work.

Until next time…

FINALLY…Broadway hits TV!! Sort of…

In light of the phenomenon that Glee has become, NBC decided that it should strike back with it’s own non-reality singing TV show.

SMASH (I think the title is shite) is dramedy about what it takes to make a Broadway show.  It features some heavy hitters not only from television, but also from Broadway.  People like the amazing Debra Messing (Will and Grace), the adorable Christian Borle (Emmet from Legally Blonde), Brian d’Arcy James (Burrs from Lippa’s Wild Party as well as Shrek), the gorgeous Anjelica Huston, and Jack Davenport, who I’ve been a fan of since BBC’s Coupling!

It features American Idol’s Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty as the two girls who are up for the role of playing the Icon Marilyn Monroe.  I haven’t watched AI truly since the very first season, but I heard a lot of things about McPhee and some of them weren’t so good, but it seems that in this role she is going to shine.  I was really impressed with the trailer and gleefully clapped my hands as I recognized the people mentioned above.

Here’s the trailer:

Here’s the downer:  This is supposed to be a midseason replacement, sooooooo there’s going to be a big wait until this actually hits the small screen.  HOWEVER, I do hope that all of you theatre buffs and Gleeks support this show with the same fervor that you reserve for watching Glee.  It’s important to show the big networks that our community should be represented on television.

Have a fabulous day!!!