Oh the weather outside is helpful…

Believe it or not, just last Monday, we had snow. Not the”come hither” gentle Christmas snow, but the the snow that makes you realize that you are not and  have never been the Controller. The snow that says, “phooey” to your personal time line , “pshaw” to your four wheel drive and “nanny nanny boo boo”… just because it has the power to make everything look so picture perfect beautiful.

snow day

Ok, well maybe in the country…

Anyway, today, a week later, all evidence of natures blow is almost non existent here, except for the non deciduous vegetation sporting blackened leaves,  burnt by the cold,  and a few tenacious bits of ice and sprinklings of  road salt.
The winter season  has begun.
As the weather ushers in the many holidays of December: Solstice, Christmas,Hanukkah, Kwanzaa,National Lemon Cupcake Day, ( really, December 15th, but that’s  another post for another time) this  season while typically busy with holiday preparations also begs for quiet reflection and stillness. That’s what snow days are: imposed “time-outs” for adults.

Here in the Northwest we may not consistently get Mama snow putting us in “time out”, but we get  plenty  of gray, rainy days that can push us inward or at least drive us to a coffee shop for a hot cup of quiet. After The Monty run, or any period of intense work I realize that I am truly an American. If I am not careful, I become motivated and defined by a  constant “doing” mentality, sometimes a little resistant to that rest and stillness perhaps you are too?
I welcome the weather “time-outs” that remind me that slowing down and looking within is necessary preparation for the next flurry of activity.
Let us both slow down a bit in the weeks ahead and reflect by counting blessings, closing doors that no longer serve positive purposes,  refueling and integrating a few of the lessons learned this year. This time is built into the schedule, why not use it? Even music has rests.

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Happy trails…

Well, The Full Monty has ended and what a wonderful ride it has been! I got a chance to work with some talented folks, the show was well received and I  got paid for doing what I love to do! The show closed to an enthusiastic  standing ovation this last Sunday, which was a lovely way to finish this project; but it was the Saturday evening show that was most memorable.  The  Monty Men ( the final 6 men who strip  at the end of the show) were rewarded for their efforts  with  deafening hooting and hollering from female fans throughout the evening as well as a total of $54.00 in crumpled bills  thrown upon the stage during  the last “exposing” moments . Needless to say, all of us in the cast in the last scene were giddy with the audiences excitement.  It was a blast! The Monty boys felt like rock stars!
Thanks to everyone who came out to support this wonderful show!

Dang, Nike was right…Just do it!

The other day, my husband had a client who wanted new pictures of her latest jewelry creations for an upcoming print feature. Arms loaded with boxes of high end designs for brides, she entered the studio breathless. She had just returned from her first big bridal show in New York and was dizzy with the positive response that she received from peers and buyers.I should have gotten these pictures done a while ago, she said rolling her eyes, but I kept putting it off, I don’t know why I do that..”

My husband and I made eye contact as she said that, because we have both asked ourself that same question. You probably know the one that I’m talking about. You have a dream or goal that is just begging, screaming to be realized. Opportunities marches happily away with time in tow and then finally you find the strength, inspiration or just plain chutzpah to make a step toward your dream. The intimidating “TO DO” list item that has been there for 5 days or 5 years is finally cross off followed by the question, “ Why didn’t I do this sooner?” “What took me so long?”


Sometimes the answer to that question is that the timing was not or is not right. However it is often because that “TO DO” list item is a step that means owning our desires. That acknowledgment takes us out of the comfort zone and puts us in new territory called risk. Risk is the opposite of habit. Habit is comfy, fleecy and uber-hospitable. Habit says, “ take a load off and have some hot cocoa for 5 or 10 years.” Habit encourages us by saying that we are fine with the way things are, and oh by the way, have another cookie to fill up that gnawing something is missing feeling inside.

Risk is less coddling. Risk holds the dream in front of you on the other side of a road of glass shards, poisonous snakes (or bunnies depending on your personal list of fears) and says. “ if you want it, come and get it and for heaven’s sake stop ignoring it or complaining about it”. Risk expects you to– *gasp* change. Change your attitude, actions, position, mind, etc. Risk feels that the only person who has to be flexible is you.

That’s the fear and that’s why for me (and others) stepping into my life as I am meant to live it is so often postponed. Like my husband’s client, I am grateful for the little bit of progress that I am experiencing in this department, I  am getting better at just showing up and working toward my dreams… step by step.. Each time I cross something off my “TO DO and TO BE” list, I am able to sit down and have a civilized meal with Risk rather than running in the other direction screaming.

Why doing it over and over again never gets dull…

A couple of years ago,  my father in law,  after seeing me in a play  gave me  appropriate compliments and then asked, as if embarrassed, , ” Doesn’t it get dull doing the same thing every night?” I was honestly surprised by his question. Now I won’t lie , I’m no different from any other working stiff: sometimes I just don’t feel like leaving my bed or my house and a quart of maple walnut ice cream and a stack of movies feels like a perfectly acceptable way to contribute to society. But ultimately, I do leave my house and go to the theater for the umteenth performance and remarkably… it’s never dull. It may be comfortable but certainly not dull.  One of the big factors is the audience. Their response can differ wildly from performance to performance and this  fuels the actors delivery and timing.

We recently moved Monty to a new theater. Both the cast and crew are re-learning how to do the show in the new space. The set fits in the space differently and  this affects our movements off and on stage. The dressing rooms are farther away from the stage so we have to add extra time to get to our places.

And then there are those times when there is no good reason why and when things happen the way they do and this is called the “stuff  happens” factor.  Sometimes after 20 or 30 shows something important or at least necessary  breaks, rips, stops, or falls down. It just does. It is generally hoped and appreciated by management that it is not an actor participating in any of the above activities. For example a couple of nights ago, just before I was ready to walk out on stage, I bent down to tighten the buckle of my shoe.  The strap holding the buckle ripped, and  came off in my hand. One of the wonderful dressers ( folks who assist actors with costume changes) quickly taped me into the shoe with gaffers tape seconds before I had to go onstage and dance. Last night, for a second time, I touched a set piece and it promptly broke and rolled downstage. Needless to say, the stage manager at the end of the evening asked me to kindly stop doing that. I told her that I would see what I could do.

Ask any actor, musician why what they do  never gets dull and they will come up with plenty of stories. The tales will run the gamut, describing how the lights didn’t work, a mic pooped out,  an actor had a “brain fart” and forgot a line or lyric. Yep, stuff happens. Doing the show over and over again  may get comfortable and rote but it’s never dull.

Goodbyes…

Sunday marked the end of the run for The Full Monty in Issaquah. Don’t worry, read on, there is a happy ending. After being at the Village Theater for four weeks of rehearsal that started in mid August; and six weeks of performances at 8 shows per week, it was starting to feel like home. My station in the dressing room was gathering show related tchatchkes and lint. The routine of pre-show prep was a relaxing practice of repetition and sit-com hilarity. Just for the record, the Monty dames are funny bunch. Nuff on that though, as the commercial says, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

I had also found the perfect places for naps on two show days. Personally, that’s one of the most important features of a theatre for me.  After a great show, a great organization, super director and crew, a beautiful theatre,  next and final on my list is  plenty of secret and not so secret nap places. Biggest lesson during this run? A blanket and a pillow are a performers best friend.

So I was feeling a little sad packing up my make-up kit and clearing my station. But as promised, this entry has a happy ending. This Thursday, the show moves to Everett Performing Arts Center for a three week run. On a new stage , we will rehearse the show and we open on Friday.

Ahead is a whole new learning curve for the next three weeks. That takes the edge off goodbye. So adieu Issaquah, you been good. On to Everett, and I hope dear reader to see you there.


PS. I also said goodbye to the Department of Informational Services in Olympia. They were a state agency that offered government offices, high quality media for marketing, promotional and educational purposes. They closed their doors recently and it is a sad day. Sad because they were one of my employers, but sad because many of the folks in that office have become mentors and friends to me. Big hug and thanks go to Derek, Les, Gary and Shwandra who taught me oodles about voice over and being on camera and just being. Good sailing to you all.


How I spend my Friday Night

I am sitting in the dressing room right now at the Village Theatre. The men’s dressing room to be exact because they have  wifi reception, while the ladies dressing room does not. Also honestly, its fun hangin out with the boys, like sitting in a room full of singing and dancing brothers. So what happens when I am not on stage?  I get ready for my next entrance, read, try to knit socks, watch from the wings and laugh (very quietly). The actors of The Full Monty are a funny entertaining bunch.

While in the dressing room, the show is piped in  over the intercom system, so we are always connected to what’s going on. We get to hear it all, our lead Dane Stokinger who plays Jerry rock a song or Ellen McClain, who plays Jeanette  become a breathing and walking lesson in comedic timing. Both of these veterens are a delight to watch and hear. Honestly, all of the cast is quite fine. It is really is an honor to share the stage with them.

Another Opening…

This past Thursday was the opening of The Full Monty, and what a week it has been. Prior to opening night, I have spent several nights in technical rehearsal. Technical rehearsal or  otherwise known as Tech Week is likened to a first date.The actors who have been working in a plain, relatively empty room for two weeks under the careful eye of the director are introduced to the set, costumes, lights, sound.  Like a first date, it is an exciting, awkward, flirtatious moment, causing much giddiness. However for all of the excitement and newness, the unlimited patience and focus of marriage is what is required for sanity and necessity. Tech week is the time for the cast and crew to figure out how everything works: When do the lights go off? What lights go on? When the stage needs to move, how do you move it without running over the actors while they are musically pontificating? You get the idea.
And then, before you know it, it is opening night! All of a sudden the  jokes that have gone unrecognized or dry due to repitition and overfamiliarity  are funny in the presence of an audience. The audience is the missing link, the catalyst that makes the evening magical. Village Theater has a tradition of previewing the show before opening night called Friends and Family Night. The audience is made up of …well friends and family of the cast.  This being my first Village Theatre experience, I asked a Village veteran about what to expect. She dryly  said, ” You can poo on stage and they would love you anyway.”.  Thankfully, the “poo” factor was low that evening and she was right, the audience hooted and hollered with joy, the whole evening. Everyone on the cast was high as a kite with happiness.
The Full Monty is a fun show, great music, great story and did I mention the stripping? Well it is called The Full Monty after all!  Tickets are available now, go to: http://www.villagetheatre.org/full_monty.php

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New Playground…

Yesterday was our first day on the set of the The Full Monty.

Everybody was a little giddy with excitement. Up to this point we have

been rehearsing  in a rehearsal  space with the stage dimensions

and levels defined with various colors of tape on the floor; a lot of

imagination was required to make our surroundings real. Going to a

larger space and more exciting playing field makes the Monty

experience more real. What becomes more real? The fast approaching

opening night date September 17th. Yikes! As well as making  the world

of The Full Monty, Buffalo New York, 1992, a living breathing place to

be.

While we have been rehearsing, the crew have built this amazing set

that has a spiral staircase, stage components that move, and so much

more!  (I don’t want to give too much away. )  Opening night, the actors

may get the applause, but the real respect  goes to the crew and the

director, stage managers and all the folks that coordinate thiswonderful playground for the actors!

Link, Ethel Merman, There\’s No Business Like Show Business

In the eyes of…

There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it.

Mark Twain

I was feeling good.I had an audition in Seattle, I was

rested,  my clothing all matched, no holes in stockings or underwear.
And to top it off, the I-5 commute was especially kind, giving me
plenty of time to park, sit and breathe,  walk to the building and sit
and breath again, before my audition. Giddy with the intoxication of
being in the zone.I  gathered my things from the car to walk to the
Seattle Center. Before locking the door, I saw my glasses sitting in
the cup holder.
I knew, as soon as I saw  them that I should take them with
me and  I even had a brief visit  from common sense with the very
audible thought, “you should take these with you.”
I should have suspected that there was trouble in my mental
ranks because there was  an immediate counter that made all the sense
in the world in the moment but in hindsight reveals the kind of crazy
that causes  those who truly love us to roll their eyes, mouth a few
words of disbelief and walk away.
“Nah,  they’ll mess with my line.”
For those who are bewildered by this line of thought-no pun
intended.  Line is the silhouette that an outfit gives. Good line
flatters the form and give one the ability to walk into a new
situation feeling James Brown good. Gentleman, this is why your wife
or girlfriend  will demand that you carry her wallet  when you go out
for a night on the town. She doesn’t want her line to have unnatural
bumps or bulges. She has worked very to get  all the bulges to go in
the right direction and stay in place-hence that is why you have become the
designated wallet lackey. You are going a great service.
I know. This logic in the big picture come off, well…vain
and crazy. Se la vie.

So in the best interest of line, I left my glasses in the car
cup holder.  Feeling certain that the current condition of my eyeballs
that required the use of such spectacles would step aside for the sake
of art.
This was not the case.
My audition was no longer an exploration of character and job
interview-it was a music lesson. More specifically a trombone concert.
The script I was reading became the visible slide to my invisible
trombone. I shifted  the paper away and toward my face in the hope
that the words would stop swimming or at least stop breaking up on the
page.
My audition became a performance piece entitled, “Humility, destroys
line.” I would like to think that the director and the person that I
was reading with did not notice my little silent concert.
As I returned to the car and saw my glasses still sitting in
the cup holder, I laughed to myself at the thoroughness of this lesson
learned. Like a good line, there was optical illusion.
Line is good, but be sure to take the glasses.

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I’ve got a brand new pair of….shhhhh

Publicité de 1908 vendant des patins à roulett...
Image via Wikipedia

Recently, guitarist Vince Brown and I  had a chance to make a music together and as usual, had a grand ole time.

We had a chance to share our musical alter egos, Red and Ruby,  filling a couple evenings with  tunes from the 20’s and 30’s with a few contemporary  tunes thrown in.  With Red, it’s always new, the arrangements, well, they are never the same twice, which always keeps it fresh.

You know what else keeps gigs fresh?  The audiences. A song sparks a memory in a listeners mind which bubbles up from some deep recess  of the past and it has to be shared.   Songs for many people are aural journal entries, marking time, the sweetness and the sour.

At one gig, a  woman, whose name I didn’t catch, related how she loved to dance, but her dad wouldn’t let her go to dances because there was an army base near by and well, you know how soldiers are. Vince and I nodded. She then got a sparkle in her eye, ” But my father couldn’t stop me from dancing,” she paused dramatically. ” I got a medal for artistic roller skating.”

Honestly, she lost me. A who, huh, huh huh wha?  “Artistic roller skating.” She  repeated these words, probably  because my mouth was slightly ajar as the Google in my mind returned “no search results.”

“Yeah, artistic roller skating was real popular,”  she said.  And maybe I had been  reading too many Weekly World News headlines while waiting in line at the supermarket, but I could have sworn that she looked over her shoulder and lowered her voice a little before adding “until the ice people shut us down”.

You can do what  I did and go on line to learn more about ice skating’s  secret sibling. Who knew?

I must admit, my mind enjoys chewing on a conspiracy theory with this new knowledge. Ice skaters,  shrouded by the darkness of an empty locker room, hacking off the wheel frame with a newly sharpened ice skating blade, separating it cleanly from the boot, laughing a little maniacally  minutes before  the  big rollerskating competition begins.

Ball bearings swimming with the fishes.

It was at that moment, I realized that it was time to sing. This thinking stuff can get dangerous.

Did I mention? It was a good gig.

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