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.”
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.
Ok, seeing as how I just posted a blog about the good of IOA (minus Harry Potter, which deserves its own post), probably not too much. But before that it has been a while. And the reason for that is because I was in a 20th Anniversary Revue for a theatre company I work with on occasion.
The show had some technical difficulties and struggles, and I admit that I was initially disappointed by what I was asked to do in the show. I know I had a bad attitude during some rehearsals, which is something that I have absolutely NO pride about. My number one goal going into every rehearsal is to be positive, to learn as much as I can from other performers, to be a sponge, and the one guideline that I really try to abide by — BE POSITIVE!!!!! Negative energy brings more negative energy, and I dislike feeling negative!
I did this show because I needed a show that would make me happy. My last show in January was rough and I actually took a break during the spring because I needed to shake the negative juju. But it must have still been a bit stuck on me. So it slightly discolored the experience of sharing the stage with some of my favorite people.
And these really are some of my favorite people. I came to Chicago knowing exactly 1 person. The people I got to know were his friends. When that relationship ended, I was pretty much adrift for a year. Then I started doing theatre. I have 2 groups that I go back to because they are family, even though I try to perform with as many different places I could. And one group has more people that I feel like I can turn to when I need a hand up or to share a laugh.
The Hale Theatre Company is run out of one of Chicago’s many, many parks. The Park District used to have many theatre companies and even performed at the Theatre on the Lake building. Sometime, many years before I moved here, that stopped happening, and with budget cuts, I can only think of 3 park district companies that are still running — Hale, Munroe/Ridge, and Chase. This past season was Hale’s 20th season, and it has been run for those 20 years by Lauren Polenske and her husband, Michael Murphy. Sure, it has its flaws, what theatre company doesn’t, but their joy shines through.
It was here that I sang my first solo in a “Murph Made Musical”, played my first dramatic role, came back to experience GODSPELL, take part in another “Murph Made Musical” after taking a break from going a year and a half straight, then this spring taking part in the show that just closed. Since it was a revue of the musicals they have done over the past 20 years, most of the songs were sung by the person who originated the role. Being new to the theatre group, that meant that I had not originated any roles in shows. But I was still lucky and blessed enough to sing Golde to one of my dearest friends Tevye in “Sunrise, Sunset” from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, even though it aged me about 20 years! I also got to be the “object of desire” (i.e. walk sexily in front of the stage) during 2 numbers from A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.
But the real joy was seeing my friends shine in songs that I never had the opportunity to hear them sing originally. Hearing Thom as Tevye, or Patrick as Fagin, or Robin singing Momma Rose, or hearing Heather sing “Oh Bless the Lord My Soul” again, or the highlight of the entire experience: hearing Thom, Murph, and Patrick singing “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” and bringing down the house.
I really do believe that people are blessed with 2 families. The family that we are born into and the family that we choose. And to the people listed above, and many more — I cannot begin to tell you how much joy I have sharing the stage with you and how you have become my family here in Chicago.
And I hope we get to share the stage again sometime soon. I promise I will keep it positive!!
Now to get ready for my show in August and fall auditions!