Category Archives: Performing

Was that July?

Holy Crow People!

Is it just me, or did July fly by like a bat outta hell?? Granted, for the most part this summer has felt like an extended fall, but is it really August already!?! YEESH! I felt like it was just last week that I woke up and looked at what my July had in store and thought, “Bring It.”

Let me tell you, July heard my challenge and Brought. It.

The month started off with 3 days on the set of a major motion picture that was filming in town.  Let me just say that film sets are not the place to be when you are an extra on a special needs diet.  Thankfully I thought ahead and brought food, for the most part.  While lunch was covered, the first day I discovered there was no hot water for oatmeal, so that made for an extra long day.  I also failed in the bringing of enough snacks.  Thankfully there was lots and lots of fresh fruit available for me to nosh on.

If this means something, you know what I worked on.

If this means something, you know what I worked on.

It was a fun couple of days where I got to see, but not interact, with some pretty famous people.  I have no clue if I will make it into the finished film, but I will know I was there and a part of something magical that ignited a spark that had been a bit dormant.

After that, rehearsals started picking up for my summer show.  This year I was thrilled to be a part of the Chicago Community Theatre premier of SHREK: THE MUSICAL.  Now, before you get all eye-rollie with me, the script is by the same gentleman who brought us the brilliantly touching RABBIT HOLE.  Shrek is actually one of my favorite newer musicals because the story is one I relate to and there are several songs that I absolutely adore!  But it also involved 2 weeks of rehearsal every night with no internet connection to fill the time between.  This is when my amazing cast shone.  This was probably one of the closest casts I have worked with, and there was so little internal drama that it was heavenly.

The Queen of Hearts and Shrek having a staring contest.  The Queen had to shrink a bit.

The Queen of Hearts and Shrek having a staring contest. The Queen had to shrink a bit.

So those two events filled a bunch of time.  One Saturday of the month saw me attending both an open background call for TRANSFORMERS 4 and then doing background work on an Exxon commercial.  I was paid to look at the Chicago skyline and get color on what was the hottest day of the year.  Granted, if you have been in Chicago you know that it is not too hot and we have had very, very few warm days, so it actually got me a little bit of color!

This month also saw Brandy Wendler returning to Chicago for the 2013 Mrs. International Pageant.   When she got into town we met at the headquarters of ENJOY LIFE FOODS for a tour.  This was a fantastic visit a) because they sponsored Brandy in her pageant, and  b) they are an awesome company that is free of the top 8 allergens.  If you have not tried their food, I highly recommend you pick something up.  Brandy and I have a fondness for the Plentils, and I am also a big fan of the Decadent bars.  After some talking and getting us suited up in our white coats and pretty pink hairnets, it was time for the tour.  All I am going to say is “WOW.”  Wow that this company still packages things by hand, wow that they do so much in so little space, wow at the steps they take to ensure the food is safe, wow, wow, wow.  The Marketing Manager, Kasey, was an absolute joy to have as a tour guide and somewhere she has a picture of Brandy and I climbing Mount Plentil.

With the Enjoy Life sign

With the Enjoy Life sign

Brandy and I are ready to tour the Enjoy Life facilities.  We make the red hair nets look GOOD!

Brandy and I are ready to tour the Enjoy Life facilities. We make the red hair nets look GOOD!

I have bad posture, but with the frabjulous Kasey of Enjoy Life.

I have bad posture, but with the frabjulous Kasey of Enjoy Life.

Brandy was in town to compete in the Mrs. International pageant.   While I could not afford a ticket, I was dying to see her in her finery and bring her some celebratory cupcakes, as I was that confident she would do well.  So, on Friday I got in touch with the fantastic FrannyCakes and we decided that it would be fun and go “crash” the pageant.  Ok, I should probably define that.  By crash we meant go hang out in the lobby, get the results, see Brandy and her handsome hubby after the show.  So…we met up for dinner of a cupcake each at Swirlz Cupcakes before heading up to Skokie to hang out at the mall before it was time to hang out in the lobby.  Granted, by hang out at the mall, I really mean go to Barnes & Noble, get tea, read magazines.

Some of these are FrannyCakes, some are mine.  Can you guess which is which?

Some of these are FrannyCakes, some are mine. Can you guess which is which?

After a bit of light reading, we headed over to the venue to hang out in the lobby and see how she did.  Sadly, we forgot that the first night they only announced who won Most Photogenic and not the Top 10.  Oh well.  We still got to see Brandy and JR, as well as Andrea and her new beau who had come in to cheer.

Yup, we went to a beauty pageant.

Yup, we went to a beauty pageant.

What else did I do??  New headshots were taken, I worked on a commercial for Exxon by lying around a park all day, stood in line for an extra cattle call for the next Transformers movie, attended a holiday party, and I got together with friends to feed our SYTYCD addiction.  It was a crazy busy month, but boy, did I have a LOT of fun!

In other news, it is now mid-August and I am late posting this because I have been cast in yet ANOTHER show.  My goal is to get at least one post up a week, as I juggle rehearsal, work, exercise, lessons, and all the other craziness that is my life.  If I miss, please bear with me, I am not done with y’all yet!

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Ev’rybody Has a Happy Place

I have about 3 blog posts in the works, but lately I have been in such a funk that I cannot focus on the content they are about.

There is a confession to make here.  I am a former Disney Cast Member.  Being one was a badge of honor, performing the roles I had the opportunity to was a gift I cannot even begin to explain, and the joy I had on a daily basis almost outweighed the pain that my body was developing.

When I left, it was because I had limits and expectations on what my life should be that were completely based on what other people thought and what I thought it should be.  Not because leaving would make me happy, but because I needed to “grow up.”

There were blessings in leaving:  being close to the members of my family who were already diagnosed with Celiac when my diagnosis happened, being able to spend 8 hours with my Grandmother the day before she passed, getting to perform in a variety of productions in the Chicago area while meeting some incredible people, and only being 3 hours from my family.  There have been some bad things as well, but that is another tale.

Except, I never really let it go.  Every year like clockwork, from 2007-2012, I flew back to work for a week as a seasonal cast member, to recharge my batteries with the love and happiness that I had doing the job I did there, to see friends, to make new ones, and to soak it all in.

Just a bit Goofy.

Just a bit Goofy.

April 14, 2012 was my last day as a cast member.  I donned my blacks for the last time, took my voyage, and then said “goodbye.”  Not because I wanted to, but because the rules on being seasonal had changed, and there was no way I could make it work while living in Chicago.

I miss it.  People tell me I need to do what makes me happy and what I am good at, but to be honest with you, I am not sure what that is.  I know the things that I enjoy doing, but I know my happiest time was when I was going into work every day and performing.  I could be in the grumpiest mood, not feeing well, swear that I was living in a sauna, but as soon as the music started and I stepped onto whatever stage it was, it was like my world receded and for however long I was on stage, there was only that.

If this does not make sense, I apologize.  Tonite was a night where I just needed to put thoughts down and get them out.  If you want to read about my adventures eating GF as a guest as WDW try this.

And I am going to leave you with the last thing I do on every trip to my happy place:

 

Audition Decisions

Normally, my audition routine is audition for everything.  Sometimes there is a show that I am really passionate about, that I will devote more time to, but I will still audition for other shows around it because, hey, you never know if you are going to be the right show.  But then, comes “The Show.”  The show that does not get done very often for whatever reason, that for whatever reason, you need to do on a personal level.  For me, that show is THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

I know, I know.  It is sugar on top of cotton candy on top of saccharine.  It is the last Rogers and Hammerstein musical and people like to poo poo it.  But for as long as I can remember, the movie has been the top of my favorite list.  Growing up, I watched that movied EVERY time it was on, and when my family got a laser disc player, I rented that all the time.  I honestly do not remember if my mom ended up buying it or not, but I know I chose it as my rental often.

How do you solve a problem like the Tower??

I sang “Edelweiss” when my Grandmother died.  My great-uncle got me a book that is autographed by Maria von Trapp.  Heck, when I was a youngster (before I remember, but it was one of my favorites), my grandparents took me to see a community theatre production of TSoM.  Right around the time they started singing “Do a Deer….” in a place different from the movie (after several other songs were in a place other than my beloved movie), I stood, in all my curly hair/frilly dress glory, and yelled at the stage; “You’re doing it WRONG!”.  Yeah.  I kind of had the movie version memorized.  But, knowing that all I can play in the show is a nun, and knowing that lightning has been known to hit in the general vicinity of a theatre when I am a nun (ask me about EVITA someday), well……yeah, I still want to do the show.

But here is the dilemma.  I am afraid that if I put all of my eggs in one basket, I will end up without a fall show.  Yes, this show would make my heart happy on SO MANY different levels. BUT.  The actor but.  The BUT that is born out of the knowledge that the possibility is out there that you may, or may not, be the right “fit” for the cast or the directors vision.  And going in, you don’t know what that fit is going to be, many times it depends on the people who are also auditioning.  So, there are 2 other auditions, one that I have written off, primarily because it is Tuesday and I need to get things done.

The other audition is for LA CAGE AUX FOLLES.  It is being put up by a group I have been trying to get into for 3 years.  I know that as a Tower, I have a shot at being a Cagelle, which would be a lot of fun.  But….

And it is that gosh darn “BUT” that is making my life miserable right now.  I think I have figured out what I am going to do, it scares me, but you know what, if it so happens that I don’t get a role, any role, in show A, I know there will be more auditions right around the corner.

ToM

Hi, I’m adding this after the original post:  So, here is part of my quagmire.  La Cage auditions first and will have their first audition that week.  SoM auditions the following weekend.  La Cage runs Nov 9-18.  SoM runs Nov 9-Dec 9.  There is a difference in travel distance, with La Cage being closer.  My heart is still saying SoM, but if I don’t get it, I cold be showless for an extended period of time.

On Fundraising

Or FUNraising, if done right.

I have done a LOT of fundraising in my life.  As a Girl Scout, I sold calenders and cookies.  As a band member I sold World’s Finest Chocolates until people got tired of seeing me.  As a member of various Drum and Bugle corps, I sold various sweets to help offset the cost of my participation and help pay to keep the corps on the road.  I’ve bought and sold candles and popcorn and subs and…yeah.  There is a lot of me going out and doing the door-to-door thing, or sticking a box of something (or a form) on the end of my desk or my mom’s.

But how can a theatre group raise money.  In a world where it seems like the arts are getting the raw end of the deal, and spending money for a night of live entertainment is seen more as a luxury than a necessity, how can they raise funds that they are not getting in ticket sales to keep the building going, get rights to shows, pay the people who get salaries, etc, etc, etc?

One of the groups back home presents an “Audience Choice” show every year.  This voting for this show doubles as a fundraiser and is done online or through their box office.  They present a list of 5 titles for the audience to vote on, and each vote costs $2.00.  I do not remember seeing synopsis of the show, so it was up to the voter to learn more about each production.  This year they are closing their season with last years winner, THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL so it proves that the “trusty dusties” need to be in the mix.  The other shows in the running included:  GODSPELL, WORKING, NUNSENSE, and I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE.

Recently, I was invited to take part in another fund raiser.  For this one, the director picked a group of actors – ones that had appeared at the venue before or that he had always wanted to work with and had not been able to for whatever reason.  For each of the performers he chose 2 songs for them to be featured in.  None of the shows had been produced by the theatre in the last 10 years, if ever.  Tickets were $10.00 at the door and the audience was given a program that featured each song, the show it was from, the performers being featured, and the numbers 1-5.  1 was “I hate it, don’t ever put it in front of me” with 5 being “this better be produced here soon because it was wonderful!”  The difference between the show/song with the highest number of votes and the show/song with the least was 1 percentage point!  One.

So, basically, what does this mean?  To me it says that audiences want to, and are willing to pay, to have a vote in what shows a theatre company produces, and that maybe that input should be valued.  Sure, you can do the same old fundraising dinners and 50/50 raffles (all of which are great ways to raise money), but perhaps you can build your audience by involving them in the process.

But really, that is just my $.02 worth.

ToM

 

ps–if the ballot idea is duplicated in future years, I don’t think a much longer rehearsal period would do it any good.  the performers all had their music a month in advance to start working on it, and too long might lose some of the ….idk, panic, joy, terror, exhiliration??  And new ideas that involve the audience are always great!

Blowing Dust Off the Old Keyboard

Hi!  How is everyone doing out there??  How is life?  How has your summer been?  Mine has been pretty interesting and pretty low key.  It’s a very interesting mix.  I feel like I should pick up where I left off with the Disney/Universal trip, but that has been so long ago, that I don’t really remember where I left off except that Disney Onstage = Awesome for Glutards, Disney Backstage = Not So Much and that Universal was a blast, but a total food wash.

So, what have I been up to??  Well, near Memorial Day the studio where I was taking Burlesque classes   
had a Graduation Recital and I got to perform with a group of my fellow Beginning/Intermediate students in that while the gradates prepped after their individual numbers for their finale.  I only went down to a bra and my second pair of panties (the routine had us removing the outer pantie), but it was exhilarating.  I felt strong, sexy, and confident, three words that I do not feel that often and rarely at the same time.

Not too long after that, actually ON I went up to Northern Wisconsin for a friends weekend.  It was a fun weekend with friends and I got to see her marry the love of her life.  How can that NOT make you happy??

I think not long after that, I did a 20th anniversary show for a friend’s theatre company.  It was not everything that was promised when I showed up to the first meeting, but in the end, I had a lot of fun with some talented people and got to share the stage with some friends.  And I hope, beyond all hope, that the next time I ever sing “Seasons of Love” is because I am in a production of RENT.  Can I please call for a ban of that song in any and every musical revue show?  It is honestly the entire reason I never saw RENT until about the time the movie came out.

The big highlight of July was cheering on a friend in her international beauty pagent here in the Chicago area.  She rocked out, won “Most Photogenic” and was an amazing advocate for her platform, Celiac Awareness.  I met her at the Gluten Free Cooking Expo that I have been volunteering at for YEARS and I love my “cupcake monsters.”

photo courtesy of Steve Merkel

August started with a bang.  Almost quite literally if you consider the gun that was fired in show.  Anyway, I had been asked by a director I have auditioned for several times to take place in a musical revue that he was putting together as a fundraiser for a local theatre company.  Of course I jumped at the chance to work with him.  Then I saw who else he asked.  EVERY other person in that cast has, at one point in their life or another, played a lead or a main supporting character with solos in a show.  Some of these performers I had seen on stage and just wanted to learn as much as I could from them.  And then there was me.  The tall chorus girl in the back.  But in this show, I wasn’t going to be a chorus girl.  Every single person in the show was featured in at least 2 numbers.  What did that mean for me?  I was going to be singing Magenta in “The Time Warp” from ROCKY HORROR SHOW, and Mazeppa in “Gotta Get a Gimmick” from GYPSY.  Plus ensemble in 4 other numbers.  **GULP**  Nervous.  Scared.  Floored.  Honored.  Determined.  Terrified.  What if I got there and I was the weakest person in the show?  What if I got there and the director realized he made a mistake?  Well, I got the sheet music about a month early and did everything I could to start working on my parts so that when the time came for rehearsals to start, I could be (somewhat) professional and at least know my music.  I knew it would be tweaked as I worked with the director and knew what he wanted, but I could know words and pitches.

11 Rehearsals.  22 people put on a 2 hour show in 11 rehearsals.  We sold out 97% of the house over the run of the show.  I came into the rehearsal process determined to be friendly, but to keep my head down, work hard, learn by observing others, and not let all of my crazy energy out.  And for the most part, I think I succeeded.  I don’t know how my performances went.  I know they felt great, and each night they felt stronger and stronger.  I don’t know how well I succeeded in everything else I wanted to accomplish, or even hope to accomplish.  But I know this.  I came out of it with a bunch of new friends and the knowledge that I got to play with the big boys and I held my own.