Monday, December 20, 2010

Singin' in the Choir... (plus a little more)

Let me explain why it has been so long since I’ve put up a new post. Both my laptop and the home computer crashed, leaving me with nothing to update with. For weeks I was checking emails on my phone and sneaking into my mom’s work to use the computers there. We now have a new home computer, so I can finally take some time to catch up…
There is way too much to update in one entry, so I’m gonna split it up a bit. So check back regularly ‘cause there is going to be a few more entries coming.
I wasn’t selected for the Scott Alan Master Classes which I had written the essay for. L Oh well. Like I had said, the experience of writing that essay was just as important to me in my own process of becoming a professional actor, singer, dancer, and choreographer. I learned about how much theatre truly is to me, and how I cannot live without it in my life. Sure, it would have been amazing to have these master classes as I entered the city, but I don’t, and that’s just fine. I’m still gonna make it, just in my own way now.
As you know from older posts, I have been singing in a bunch of choirs in the Connecticut area these past few weeks. They have all been an absolute blast to be a part of. There was the Shoreline Soul concert in early December. What a joy it was to sing in that choir. Everyone was so happy singing and loving being there. Not to mention Angela Clemmons, the choir director, is a pure genius. She has the art in her teaching/choir directing of being able to get to the point, requiring excellence, while also being joyful and fun. I hope to emulate her leadership talents in my own endeavors with choreographing and directing; she’s knows how to get it done and have fun doing it. For this concert, I had a solo: “When the Battle is Over”. Now, this was an alto solo, which I sang in the alto range… K I hit the notes, and people really enjoyed it, but when I heard the recording, I couldn’t help but cringe. I’ve been told that you have to wait a full year after a performance to truly separate yourself from the piece and hear the recording with a fresh ear. So maybe that’s it, but all I know is that I didn’t like what I heard coming from my mouth. It sounded shriek-y and strained. I’ll listen again in a year…
The next concert I sang in was the Guilford Congregational Church’s “Lessons and Carols” concert. I was asked by my good friend Stuart to come and be an extra first tenor with them, to add a bit more voice to the complex songs they were singing. See, my church doesn’t have a choir for services, so it was so fun to be singing church music, in a church, for church. J There was that basis of truth and joy that underlined all of the work we did on each song. The messages for each song were to express in fullness all the qualities in which we as singers could express, reaching all those in the congregation. This experience reminded me how to sing from the heart, and with heart, in the music we sang to express in full harmony.
My last choir experience this holiday season was with Rob Mathes’ Christmas concert at the Palace Theater in Stamford. After having sung in Rob’s encore performance of “At Night A Song Is With Me” I was so excited to be singing again in his annual Christmas concert. It’s all original arrangements, plus some original songs, for a truly entertaining night of holiday songs. This concert went from solid rock, to funky jazz, to sweet ballad, blending perfectly together with the Christmas spirit. Being the end of my sudden stint with choir work, I was seeing how much better my sight-reading skills had become over these past few weeks. I’ve been able to sight-read music before, but never this well, and it was so cool to see and feel that transformation. I’m now seeing music in a whole new light, being able to see intervals and make connections from previous measures, all the while fitting in with the tenor section as well as the rest of the choir. I hope that I can continue to sing with Rob in his Christmas concert for years to come. It truly was a blessing to be up on stage singing and really got me into the Christmas spirit with his truly moving music.
And then I was done. After weeks and weeks of rehearsals, each choir only had one performance. Only one performance to show what we had created together, what we made as a collective group of individuals that feel pure happiness while we are singing. I hope I can continue this work as I now realize after having four years away from it in college, I love singin’ in the choir.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Trees, Leaves, Choirs, and a Cabaret. Real Life.

December 15th is when the list of the accepted students for Scott Alan’s Master Classes comes out. A full month. And there is plenty to do between now and then…

I am officially working at the Christmas Tree Place on Route 1 in Guilford. In fact, I’ve been working there for the past week and a half now getting it all ready for the way too fast approaching holiday season. Picture me, with my grundgy clothes on, with one of these on my back:
Oh yeah… I am the master of leaf blowing now. Among this newfound talent, I’ve been helping my new boss, Dale, get everything set up, nailed together, screwed in, and placed around the property. Every single spec of square footage is taken up by a display area or walkway; nothing is wasted. I’m at the point now though where I just want it all to be up and put together. It’s hilarious, Dale will sometimes just assume that I am an expert at using a screw gun or wrench, aka that I’m competent straight man. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am competent and can hammer a nail in when need be, but let’s just say I’d rather have a needle and thread. I’m definitely not as polished as this hardy, burly man’s man I’m working with.

I am learning so much from him though. And Dale is so patient with me, seeing that I’m willing, just not as skilled as others.

Soon I will be learning the trade/art of sales… I think it’s going to be one of those experiences that I’ll just have to learn with time. All I’m going to do is go in with the knowledge Dale provides about certain types of trees and greens, a big smile, and a little song in my heart. So come start your Christmas season with me down at the Christmas Tree Place, right across from Big Y and WalMart on Route 1 in Guilford and we’ll have a grand old time. I’ll sing you a song. J

November and December have all of a sudden been filled with choir work for me. I sang with Rob Mathes’ encore performance of “At Night A Song Is With Me” a few weeks ago, I just got a solo in Shoreline Soul’s Fall/Winter concert coming up on December 5th, I’m singing with Guilford’s Congregational Church choir on December 12th for their “Lessons and Carols” service as an extra first tenor, and then finally with Rob Mathes’ again in his Christmas concert on December 18th. It is SO MUCH fun to be singing again in a choir. The workout I get from sitting down with a piece of music, learning the tenor part among all the other parts is so refreshing for me. I love the puzzle work of it all, fitting my voice into the tenor line as well as into the specific choir I’m singing with. I’ve learned that all choir singing is not the same. I’m required to sing differently between Shoreline Soul, a much brighter and louder sound, and the Congregational Church choir; a more covered and classical feel. Learning how to change my voice while also still needing to blend from group to group has been a fun challenge and I cannot wait for the concerts to come this next month!

Along with all these choirs, I have been working a lot on my cabaret that I plan on doing here in Connecticut before Christmas as well as another showing up at Middlebury during JTerm. The process to find songs has been difficult only because there is so much that I want to sing. I kept saying, “Oh yeah, and that one - Ooooo, I want to sing that too - That would be great for me!”

My overall goal in putting this piece together is to bring in concert a mixture of musical theatre styles, honoring the old and the new, and using this compilation to see - through song - where I’ve come from and where I’m headed.

I wrote all the songs I would ever want to sing down and separated them into traditional (anything before 1960), contemporary (anything after 1960), and modern (mainly the musical theatre composers I’m finding on YouTube like Scott Alan and Pasek & Paul). This complete list of all styles totaled to 29 songs… WAY too many for a single cabaret. But I didn’t cull any out yet. I separated these 29 into four more categories: guy, gal, gay, gray. I did a little arts n’ crafts and cut pieces of blue, pink, green, and gray paper into thirds. I then took these colorful papers and organized the songs by who they were sung by: guys got blue, gals got pink, gays got green, and the “other/any” got gray. Each song title was written with its style respectfully. THEN I went to YouTube and listened to each song a couple of times and linked them to me, sometimes very specifically to my life experiences, sometimes not, and wrote my explanations on each specific slip. A lot of the songs told my exact story while others I just wanted to sing because I love the song itself. AND THEN, I laid them all out in the hallway outside my room according to style of song. It looked like some sort of rainbow vomited all over that rug. From there, I would sit amongst the vomit-like slips and switch things around, organize them into different groups pertaining to my life or to the show, continuing to see my relationships with each song. Through this I made cuts, seeing where certain songs said the same thing or signified a similar experience, then choosing my favorite of the two. All of a sudden from 29, I’m down to 13, which I think is a good number. There may still be a few cuts, but I’m going to go with this for now.

If you follow this link, you’ll be transported to my YouTube channel where the playlist of “My Cabaret” is so you can listen to and see what I’m hoping to sing. I wonder if you can see the trajectory I’m going for without the little dialogue I’m planning on writing to link them and tell my story.

Now I’m just looking for accompanists for both the Connecticut and Middlebury versions of this. I have feelers out, but it’s always hard to get people’s schedules to work in sync. Hopefully things will come through. Once I get the accompanists, I’ll then look for spaces. I’m thinking about my church for here in Connecticut (amazing acoustics) and really wherever there is a piano at Middlebury. That all needs to be happening soon, I just want to make sure I have someone to play for me before that all comes together. Luckily my parents agreed to helping me pay for a pianist when I was planning on doing my cabaret my last semester at Middlebury. So I’m just hoping they will still help me out. J If not, this is an investment in my career, one that I’ve wanted to do for a really long time, so I’ll make it happen however I can.

This space before Christmas is definitely chuck full of opportunities and things that need to get done. It’s amazing though; this is one of the first times in my life when I actually feel I have the time to get done what I really want to do. This is ironically terrifying for me being a person who is used to being so busy that I can barely breathe in between activities. I’m now learning how to schedule my life, schedule what I need and want to get done, and make my very own busy-ness.

Being a real person in the real world is fun. Scary, but fun.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Essay.

So today is the day my Scott Alan Master-Class essay is due, and I just sent it in. I am hoping for the best and be chosen to participate in Alan's free master classes over the next year, but I'm sure there are many others that have put their heart and soul into their essay about how they can't live without theatre. If anything comes from this, it will be the experience of writing this essay. It was such a joy to write it and really put out why theatre is so important to me. It brought my understanding of my connection with theatre to a whole new level.

And here it is! I hope you enjoy it.

Why I couldn’t live without theatre.

an essay by
Schuyler Beeman
Actor – Singer – Dancer – Choreographer

I love the essence of “blank”.

As an adjective, it can be seen as, “having no mark - not filled in” while as a noun it serves as, “a space to be filled in - the object toward which anything is directed; aim; target.”

Everything connected with theatre starts from this fundamental ideal. Even when a story is already provided, or a concept previously thought, or a feeling felt before, theatre allows a blank space for all ideas and desires to be founded on and seen in a creative way. That blank space allocates endless options and opportunities in which to find a connection with an audience member to that story, concept, feeling… to that idea that is be given on stage. The search for this connecting factor between the stage and audience is why I perform, why I create theatre. It’s how I exchange my deepest desires, my inner thoughts, and my daring dreams. I don’t know how I could speak without it. Theatre has given me the blank space, drive, and correct amount of pressure to see myself in my own true light through another’s story. I am the secure, joyful, harmonious person I am today because of the stage and all that it has given me.

I also really like the idea of “perform”.

It’s active: “to carry into effect – to fulfill – to accomplish – to complete – to execute – to yield a profit.”

All of those definitions truly bring together what I love to do when I perform. Not only do I want to honor the ideas of the piece I’m creating with, I want that fulfillment to naturally bring across a profit for the audience, something they can bring away with them into their own lives, thoughts, and experiences. That connection, the bridge of communication, is what I cherish; it is what I want to give back to the World for all the experiences it has provided for me.

I’ve been performing every since kindergarten. My first time onstage was with the Teddy Bear Rhythms, a children’s art program, where we danced in the elementary school talent show. Every talent show after that, I was there on that stage. Whether I was dancing my mother’s choreography, playing the piano ending with a “cartwheel straight into a full straddle split bow”, sitting on a table draped with my parent’s living room rug singing “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin (I could go on and on), I lived to perform. This soon morphed into joining as many school choirs as I could.

Coming into middle school I decided that I wanted to begin taking dance lessons after hearing my guy friend Steven recently enrolled. I soon was amidst endless girls with tightly knotted buns, colorful leotards, and my own black tights and fitted white tee. I enjoyed learning my basics and essentials on the ballet barre to then apply them into the more expressive jazz, tap, modern and hip hop classes I continually added to my schedule. Soon, dance recitals joined the endless other concerts I already had from the three choruses I was in. My parents went to everything and couldn’t ever imagine missing one of my performances. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have had such supportive parents. They saw my passion and dedication and did they all they could to help me continue in my happiness.

The summer before freshman year of high school, my jazz teacher asked me to audition for a community theatre production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair. I was cast as a dancer/chorus member, and was immediately bitten by the musical theatre bug. Here was where all of my performing loves came together in a wonderfully wound creation. I was in heaven. All of sudden, the next four years were determined by the theatre I was doing; there was the fall drama, the spring musical and summer community theatre.

As I started the college application process, I looked into schools’ biology programs as I wanted to be a zoo habitat designer. I believed theatre to be an impractical choice as a career path; I mean, who actually ever made it? I did however look into schools that had ample opportunities to sing, dance, and act even with a vastly different major. Middlebury College in Vermont was that school, and I got in. Within the first week I was in an a cappella group. A few of the senior members of the group were theatre majors, so I got to hear about their experiences and how much they loved it. It was halfway through my first semester when I saw my first show at Midd and realized my true calling. I thought, “If a student can create that, I want to be doing what they’re doing.” I quickly dropped my biology books and never looked back. Once having left the biology track, I realized how much theatre meant to me and how it was going to be my life’s work to be a part of it. It was my calling and I was terrified and excited beyond belief.  

My college experience was chuck full of a cappella concerts, dance performances, and theatre productions. Once again, my parents never missed one. Even though I was four and a half hours away from home, they still came to support my new-found career path. In turn, my mother became one of the proudest and biggest “stage moms” known to man. She’s no Mama Rose, but Mary Beeman could give her a run for her money, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. She provided the honesty I needed to become that better performer. Along with her, I had the best group of theatre friends who not only encouraged me in my theatrical endeavors, but pushed me, giving me the needed criticism through acknowledging my strongest points of a creation. Up in the hills of Vermont, I experienced all kinds of theatre, which only expanded my depth at which I was able to create a character and story. Physical theatre work informed my body, drama informed my thought, all the while infusing me with the tools to publish more credible people within a musical piece. I was being given foundations I had never felt, which in turn grounded me in more ways than I had ever expected.

Now I’m a graduate, one of thousands making steps to that New York City stage. So what makes me different from everyone else? Why is it that I do theatre? What do I actually love about this kind of creative work? Sure, (like everyone else is probably saying) I love the rush of being on stage in front of a live audience for whom an alive, connecting transfer is built. I love the comradeship of theatre, working together to fulfill that goal of expressing a truth. I love seeing something come from so little and then become so much. I love hearing what people have to say about the piece and in turn learn even more about what I am saying from the people I just said it to.

But what I love the most are the challenges of the process and how they are met and conquered. How these challenges were met with questions, trials, errors, and changes ultimately take the production’s performance to a whole new level. All of the hardships and frustrations of creating a piece that help find the specific message are what give the actual performance the depth that is needed to validly reach audiences’ souls.

This larger point is linked to my own search of how I do and don’t relate to the character I’m living. Through tug and release, I am able to see where I understand the character’s struggles and desires, their secrets and purposes in life, while also seeing what I don’t relate to. This brings up paths to be taken and obstacles to move through, learning more about the character but also about me. In learning about how someone else thinks and is fundamentally, I am given the amazing opportunity to better understand humanity, and find ways to live peacefully, deliberately, and judgment free. In turn, I hope I can shed some of the light of my own discoveries onto the audiences. By being the character, I wish to create opportunities for audience members to also learn a little more about our true reasons for being here together in this lifetime. I hope to best allow my character, through me, to illustrate his good attributes as well as his personal flaws in which audience members can relate to and inadvertently be linked into the story, feeling the message being played.

The best thing about the theatrical process is learning how to not show the beliefs of the character - how not to show his positive and negative qualities, but rather to plainly be them all. It’s when I forget about performing and fall face first into a character, and can just be, that I reach an audience. I lose myself, giving into the values and features of this being. That is the moment I cherish.

I am also a firm believer that theatre should be entertaining. Sondheim’s words ring true for every production I am a part of: “Let me entertain you.” Entertainment isn’t just about being happy; it’s about being moved from your soul. I personally think the circus does this amazingly well. You see an act and you are completely mesmerized, fixated on what is going on around you. A lot of it is fun (cute dogs spinning around doing flips) but it can also be daring (lions and tigers jumping through rings of fire), weird (contortionists), and dazzling (processionals of huge elephants and flashy horses). My goal in creating theatre is making an experience that is truly entertaining, pushing and pulling audiences in all directions, causing them feel everything I can, and having them leave with a sense of “Whoa-”.

As Middlebury exposed me to a variety of types of theatre, it also expanded my interests to different parts of the field other than performing. All of a sudden I was writing for the stage, directing a show, and choreographing a musical, things I have never done before yet somehow threw myself blindly into, willing to learn on the go. I love this dabble effect; it has informed me on where the other creators of theatre are coming from, how they work, and what they need from their actors. Since Middlebury, I have already performed in as well as choreographed two musicals and am hired to choreograph again this upcoming January. I love choreographing and creating these rhythmic illustrations. While performing is still my primary focus, this little choreography bug has definitely bitten me and I’m really interested to see where that could take me.

You have asked, “So why should I pick you?”

Pick me because I know that there are other people out there that love theatre as much as I do, who can’t live without it.

Pick me because I want to meet all of these people and create with them, the artists that take their work as whole-heartedly as I do.

Pick me because I wish to create with others who can’t communicate without theatre, who want to share ideas with audiences from all backgrounds, races, sexualities, genders, and ideals to better humanity.

Pick me so I can take what this blank space has to offer so I may produce theatre that provides some sort of understanding, or at least opportunities for questioning and discussion, to help make the world a more harmonious place.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Decision. Concert. Workshop. 2 Months...

Wow... So much has happened since my last entry, and it hasn't even been a week!

Well, I made the decision to step out of Essex Steam Train's production of "The North Pole Express". After much thought, chatting with family and friends both in and out of the production, and really stepping back and listening for that true answer. I was talking with my grandmother about it and she put it so great when it came to hearing that true and right answer; "How will I know it's the right answer?". "It'll feel like an elephant stamped on your foot," she said. And it did, a big ol' elephant foot right on my toesies. It came that I need to be working on some other stuff now to continue getting me ready for my big move. At this point in my life, when I am about to make a major change that will in turn affect the rest of my life, the commitment of the Essex Steam Train production just did not seem plausible anymore.

I was very worried about how this would come across when I officially pulled myself out. The last thing I wanted was to look like I was quitting. I personally feel it is quite the opposite. With where I am now, I know that I will not be able to give 100% of myself to this piece, fulfilling the integrity of the production as well as be at the best level as I can. Over and over I expressed my apologies to the creator about how late this news was coming, but that I really had to do a lot of soul searching and that I wanted to talk with him in person about it. Luckily, he took it really well plus there will be someone who can fill my place.

Thank you Essex Steam Train's Fright Train for teaching me that sometimes it's better to step away when it feels you need to be somewhere else, even if it's a paid gig.

Jeez... I seem to always start these entries with the more serious topics... Sorry, I guess I just want to get it all out so I can focus on the fun stuff. :-)

I got to go to Cheyenne Jackson's concert at Carnegie Hall with Michael Feinstein this past Friday. I went with my mother and we had such a blast! The concert was absolutely beautiful, and Cheyenne was phenomenal. The ease at which he sings astounds me. I was SO happy that he sang my favorite song off of his album, "Someone to Watch Over Me". I can literally have that on repeat in my stereo for hours. I will definitely be singing that in my cabaret, there is no doubt about that.

I also got to wait backstage in the reception room to say hi after the show [I made the list!! :-)]. Due to my giant self, I stood heads above others naturally, and as Cheyenne was making his way over, he caught my eye and smiled. It was so great to see him and be able to congratulate him in person on such a wonderful concert. My mom wanted to take a picture, so Cheyenne and I got ready, but of course the camera wasn't working, and I immediately started sweating. He went to sign someone else's CDs as I got my Blackberry out for my mom to use. I was SO embarrassed. But the picture turned out well.

While we were chatting, Cheyenne asked, "Did you get my email???" Immediately I thanked him and went into how much it meant to me to get that from him. I felt weird cause you know you never send a thank you for a thank you. I did follow up the weekend with a quick email to Cheyenne congratulating him again on the concert, that I'm looking forward to his next work on "Glee", plus how much him email truly meant to me and how I use his advice daily. It was a great night!

My mom sent me an email a while ago about a workshop for auditioning led by two of the current company members of Goodspeed's production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", which my parents and I saw a few weeks ago. The production was phenomenal and so professionally done. The talent was top notch, but what I found even more impressive was the execution of the beautiful direction and inventively precise choreography.

The workshop was advertised as a place for high school students to get feedback for their college auditions... Hmmm... I signed up anyway. I thought, why not? Feedback in any format from professional actors is great. So there I was, 23-year-old Schuyler among ten other high school girls. :-)

The workshop itself though was amazing. I learned so much about what a great audition consists of. I saw the audition in two sections all of a sudden: Schuyler's part and (Character's Name)'s part. Here are some of the notes I took...

Schuyler's Part -
  • Don't try to be perfect. Be Schuyler.
  • Present who you are, your essence.
  • "Here's what I can offer... This is what I have for you."
  • You can't communicate without this work, this art.
  • Every audition creates a lasting impression, so somewhere down the line it will pay off.
  • It's not the job of the auditioners to fulfill my dreams.
  • I am my own "brand": How do I present myself?; Know my brand and don't try to be different than that.; Be specific and know that I change and thus does my brand.
  • Have a grounded sense. Be just the right amount of confident, be harmonious, be joyful.
  • Cultivate charm.
(Character's Name)'s Part:
  • Be the role when the song starts, not when I come in the room.
  • Auditioners want you to turn it on, but they don't want to see you turn it on.
  • Just be the character. The vocal performance will be so much better when you stop listening to yourself sing and let the story come out.
  • Relax the arms.
  • Have the focus above the auditioners' heads, but don't feel the need to stare there the entire time.
  • Give the auditioners a human experience they can relate to. Present both the positive and negative qualities of a a person.
  • Be prepared, but not too prepared. Do the vocal coaching work before, have it be the foundation, and then allow the character to influence the song.
The two guys leading the workshop, James Beaman and Richard Vida, were so great and gave me awesome critique on my performance of "Old Devil Moon". I found out that I don't need to add flourishes to show my range; people are able to hear that I have higher notes just by my vocal quality. Those flourishes can actually sometimes be seen as cocky... EEEEEE.... I definitely did that in my singer audition for La Cage. But, there's nothing I can do about it now except not do it again. Jamie and Richard completely reworked "Old Devil Moon" for the better and I can't wait to use it again. Big thanks for Richard and Jamie for all their help!

So where am I now...? It's November. I go to Florida to be the sprint coach for the Middlebury Swim Team's training trip right after Christmas, come back and go right up to Middlebury to choreograph Urintetown: The Musical. After a month there, I come back to move into the city officially.

Two months before my life changes completely. Two months...

What do I need to do? What do I want to do? Well, I am looking for a job. I may work at a Christmas tree place, I'll be babysitting, and whatever else I can find. I'll be singing in a few choir performances (be sure to check my facebook fan page soon for details...). And I have a long list of theatre related work. I have decided to carve out a few hours everyday, dedicated to my theatre work, no matter what. Here's what I'll be chipping away at:
  1. Choreography for Middlebury's Urinetown: The Musical
  2. Concert form of "Jon and Jen" the musical with Amy Forbes
  3. My own cabaret (versions for a performance at home and and at Middlebury during January)
  4. Start writing some pieces of ideas I have for plays/screenplays
  5. Work on audition pieces
  6. Get my website up and running
  7. Scott Alan essay
  8. Make DVD compilations of my choreography, dancing, and singing
There's probably more, I just can't think of it all now. I'm looking forward though to these two months to really get my butt into gear and get myself prepared in many ways so I can have options in my back pockets when I move to the city.

Friday, October 29, 2010

James and the Giant Peach

I had the distinct pleasure of going to Norma Terris Theater in Chester, CT with my parents to see a new musical rendition of Roald Dahl's story James and the Giant Peach. Let me tell you... It was an absolutely beautiful experience from beginning to end.

With music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, book by Timothy Allen McDonald, and choreography from the physical theatre company Pilobolus, I was obsessed before I even got there. Not only is James and the Giant Peach one of my all-time favorite childhood books, I also love Pasek and Paul's music having had found them on YouTube a few years ago (this is my favorite song of theirs sung by Gavin Creel: plus the addition of physical theatre which I have loved exploring as well as helping others explore my last two years at Middlebury. Frankly, this production was a dream for me; here was a production combining my two loves, my two passions of the theatre world.

As soon as I stepped into the theatre, the minimalistic approach grabbed me immediately. There was a blank stage littered with spike marks. A bare black brick wall at the back of the stage was all curtain I needed, leaving open a place to play. That is just what these performers did, PLAY, and it was beautiful. Amidst the cleanly and creatively directed scenes and songs (Graciela Daniele... Genius) the essence of "play" was never lost. People who have worked with me both in my direction and choreography know I am a stickler for precision. I saw a lot of precision in this production that was obviously influenced and quite seemingly birthed from the sense of play and gave me a whole new idea of what precision truly means and comes from.

In this production, there are two very distinct types of performers: the musical theatre actors/singers/dancers and the Pilobolus company members. This a brand new production, and a type of production that truly has never been done before, which was so great to experience first hand as an audience member in these early performances and workshop runs (I was at the 6th ever performance). There were times that I could see the "two types of performers" in there own worlds as well as times when the lines blurred. I liked both of these moments and wonder what will happen as they play more and continue to explore each others' worlds...

Every aspect of the show had me engaged. There were moments I laughed, moments I cried, moments I was stupefied, and moments where I was allowed to use my imagination. I personally feel we sometimes forget about our imagination as it is now so easy to just make a digital creation of something. That's what I was expecting at this production: big digital images of a growing peach, The Lion King-esque puppetry for the bugs, etc. But it wasn't, and I couldn't have been happier.

One comment did make me think twice though. There was a little girl behind me who blurted out in the beginning of the first act, "Where's the peach?" All of sudden the possibility of the absence of her imagination filled my thought and how sad that could be. Now, she was maybe 6 and I totally understand her wanting to see the peach. I mean, she's grown up in a world where movies have over-run everything, and digital means are in excess creating really mind-blowing effects. This production just isn't that. It made me go back into my imagination, just as I did when I read the book. I was immediately brought back into my childhood, recounting all the pictures I had created for the story in my head, and that is what made this production so special to me. I just hope that we aren't killing imagination for our younger generations, because I don't know how to get it back once it's gone.

We were lucky enough to go on the night that they were having a talk-back with Benj Pasek, Timothy Allen McDonald, and Michael Tracy (the choreographer from Pilobolus). It was so great to hear how this production came together and their visions for how this exploratory run at the Norma Terris Theater was to continue. McDonald explained that a whole 30 new pages were going in for the next performance totally re-vamping the storyline of the bugs. I guess that's what happens when you only have three weeks to create a brand new show; things will change during the performances. The three creators onstage had some wonderful little tidbits about the theatre and this show:
  • Musicals are about extraordinary things that, in our day to day lives, make you who you are.
  • Physical theatre is like pantomime as an Olympic sport. It is story telling through the body.
  • "This piece will tell us where it needs to be."
I really love that last quote from McDonald. When creating a piece and not knowing if it will be meant for Broadway or just a small theatre in the woods of Connecticut, one must trust the work itself and all the good that is coming from it. The good coming from this production, all the amazing qualities being expressed on stage and behind the scenes, that is the true success of this show. And I can see that everyone involved feels the exact same way about this joy onstage, and that alone will bring James and the Giant Peach: A New Musical to new heights! I just know I can't wait to see it again someday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

True Income.

The first weekend of Fright Train definitely had some frightening moments...

Only one other time in my life have I ever been a part of a production that I truly did not want to go up and perform in. The first was a thrown together production for the new freshman class during orientation my senior year at Middlebury and now, it's Fright Train. Unfortunately, as felt by both the other actors and the director/creator of this show, there has not been nearly enough time to put this large idea into practical formation. And frankly, that sucks. It never feels good to know that if there were just two or three more weeks to really pull this brand new idea into fruition that it would rock.
I don't think it's necessary to go play by play of what happened this weekend and recapping every detail about what went wrong and how it made me feel. Re-venting that just doesn't seem right anymore. Basically, the one chance I had to perform out of the six performances was a flop. The whole climatic section of the show where a bunch of zombies come out of the river toward and onto the train just didn't happen around my car. I had only one zombie come on my train during the whole ten minutes. I scrambled, trying to get the passengers to "stay calm" when there was nothing to be afraid of. Running outside and turning off my microphone, I yelled down the tracks, "I NEED ZOMBIES!" But they never came.

Frankly, it's hilarious now when I write it, let's be honest. But at the time, I was legitimately scared. This was improvisation in a whole new light. I had nothing to work off of, no foundation, and I was floundering. Never have I been that unsure while performing and I just felt awful.
On my way home from this tough weekend, my Aunt Morgan happened to call me, having had just talked with my mother about my trials with this production. We talked for an hour about how I just have to let the answer come to me about where to go with this and how I want this production to affect me, also whether or not I wanted to go on and do the next production with this group, The North Pole Express. All I can do is be grateful for what I have. I must know that my true income doesn't come from a paid gig, but from all those around me who support me to create fully and truly according to my own standards.

So, I don't know yet if I'm going to go on with the Essex Steam Train production as I had thought. I haven't signed any contracts for The North Pole Express, so if it is the correct to leave that production before it has started, so be it. It may just not be the correct place for me to be right now, but I'm still listening for that answer to make sure it comes from a place separate from others and separate from my own ego.

How about a lighter note... :-)

I'm going to Cheyenne's concert at Carnegie Hall with my mom on Friday and I can't wait! It'll be so great to hear him sing live again. Everyone should check out his interview in the November issue of "Out" Magazine. He talks about The Green which is so cool!

Last night I had my first rehearsal for Shoreline Gospel, which I am so excited to be doing. What's better than singing gospel music with a bunch of community members from the shoreline of Connecticut? :-) The joy and love for coming together and singing was so palpable last night. I just haven't sung in a choir like this since high school and I totally missed it. I'm performing with my friend Stuart, and after he saw how happy I was to sing in this choir, he mentioned that he's performing in a choir production of Rob Mathes work in Greenwich in a couple of weeks and that if I could learn the music I could perform too. "YES!" Stuart was so great, he emailed me all the music, copied the sheet music for me to learn, and I go to a rehearsal in Rye, New York tomorrow with him. The music is absolutely wonderful and I can't wait to be singing along with the tenor part, being apart of this larger group where everyone has their duty to create these songs. Once I get more details about both concerts, I'll be sure to let everyone know.

I also just found this on YouTube...
Scott Alan is an amazing composer/songwriter and openly gay artist. His music is beautiful and I know I will sing some of his work for that cabaret that I will do someday... :-)

If you can't watch the video (which is hilarious) here's Scott Alan's description of his new project...

"At least once a day I get an email from aspiring musical theatre performers wanting to find ways to explore more opportunities to learn about the industry but one major thing is standing in there way - they can't afford it. Many of my contemporaries offer incredible masterclasses with many teaching courses on how to write for musical theatre or teaching on better ways to audition. Well, starting in January, I too will be starting my own masterclass.

Once a month, I will offer a two hour masterclass at a rehearsal space in New York City. Each class will center on something different pertaining to musical theatre and ways to grow in the field. In addition, each month will host a special guest who will be on hand for the 'Q and A' session with a Broadway Personality. I have already started lining up guests. Those joining us will include Tony Award winning actors and actresses; long running featured members of Broadway's hit shows; Award Winning composers and lyricist (both established and up and coming); Award winning Choreographers; set designers; costume designers; casting directors and many many more !!!

So, what's so special about this masterclass ? Well ...

IT'S FREE !!!!

Yes, you heard me right. Absolutely free. I will be taking care of all the costs myself. Why, you may ask, would I do something like that ... well, the answer is simple - I love the arts and I have been fortunate enough to make a living doing what it is I love. When I started producing the 'Monday Nights, New Voices' series, I started realizing how important it is to give back to the community. I make no money off of this series, often losing money, and yet, I am more proud of producing this night of new talent then of anything else I have ever done so far in the industry. What it comes down to is ... I love what I do and it is so rare for people to love what they do. Truthfully, I wouldn't be able to do this without any of you and so, for one year, every month, I will host this masterclass as my way to give back to all of you.

So, why should I pick you ? Great question I don't know the answer to, yet !! It's time for you to tell me. Each person applying will need to write me a short essay about what theatre means to them and why being accepted into this program is important for you. It is as simple as that."

So, by November 15th, I'm going to write my essay about why theatre is so important to me, what it has done for me in my own life, and where I hope to go with it. I also really want to do his "Monday Nights, New Voices", and will be sending in my information and links for that as well very soon.

Right now I'm looking for opportunities that will keep me experiencing my passion, keep me learning more about myself and how I work, and keep me choosing happiness. These experiences and opportunities that allow this growth are not all amazing and glittery, but they are the ones that keep me on the correct path and supply the true income of all that I need at that time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Anxiety. Questions. Steps.

Remember when I thought I was going to sit down and write a week ago? Yeah... consistency right?


February is a definite. I will move into the city as soon as I can after getting home from Middlebury in January. I have to be there. There is no use trying to wait and earn more money because my time here at home is just creating inconsistency with my goals and wishes. So, I'll finish out my jobs and gigs that I have already agreed to, keep my head as level as possible, stay as positive and driven as possible, stay focused, and get ready to move into the Big Apple with whatever I have in February. It'll be time. That's that. Done and done.

This past Tuesday I went to the dancer call for West Side Story on Broadway. Now, here's a dancing show through and through. Everyone knows West Side Story for its iconic steps, jumps, formations, and choreographed battles between Jets and Sharks. So I was taking this audition as a great opportunity to just learn a piece of this legend, to feel somehow, in a small way, a part of it.
It was so hard.
Going from a quick turning jump straight to a big attitude jump into to a quick double pencil turn all within the first 8 counts was so crazy. One could say it had me on my toes, but the choreographer kept urging us to get lower and angrier. As my tall body tried its best to get into that powerful plie in that awfully crowded room, I watched my stapled resume and headshot go into the middle pile of the three piles on the floor.
What was the middle pile!!!
I watched other dancers, picking out the best in each group, and then would try and spot where their headshot landed... I was only able to spot one clearly; the resume of the best dancer of the group went into the far left pile. Okay, I'm in the middle, and his went into the far left.... What does that mean?
As my mind raced, trying to figure out what it meant to be in the middle pile, I kept trying to bring back my thought to the choreography, to continue watching and reviewing the steps. It was a struggle.
Then the choreographer went to the middle pile...
"I would like to see these people again..."
Yes! As always, another opportunity to dance is a good sign. I was put into the second group of the "Try-Again/Middle" pile. I danced and wasn't perfect, but I did my best to hold onto that brooding quality of the West Side Story guy. Be angry, use it in the dance...
Then I was cut. I didn't get to go on and sing my 16 bars with the mainly Hispanic looking dancers who were put through. So who knows, maybe they weren't even looking for Jets...? Or maybe I am just not cut out for this level of dancing right now. It did make me think about how I needed to get my butt back into class and back in dancing shape. But where's the time? The money? I guess I gotta make both happen to be serious.
And, when it comes down to it, at least I wasn't immediately put in that far right pile, so I was proud of myself for that. I had a blast learning this choreography, and hope they have another one soon so I could try again. Good practice.

The Essex Steam Train's production of Fright Train opens this Friday. Ticket sales are not great right now so all the performers are performing only a few times throughout the run. Thus my actual first performance isn't until Sunday night, which I am totally fine with. I'll be able to watch the other performers and learn what works and what doesn't before I go on myself.
This process has brought on a lot of anxiety. It's one of these creations where everyone (including myself I must say) has an idea about how this brand new concept should be taken into the flesh and thus ideas are swirling and bouncing off in all directions. Along with this, we have a six page, single-spaced, story to tell in an interactive way to an audience. That's a lot, and I definitely freaked when I was given that two weeks ago and knew that I had to perform this so soon.
Tonight, I actually had to leave the room because I got so anxious and freaked out, wondering how this was all going to come together, trying to find a way to calm myself with the answer of how to make this all fit together and become the scary and entertaining piece we all want to be a part of. I called Leah on the verge of tears asking for any guidance. After a bit of venting, chatting, and relaxing, Leah told me I had to approach the director and just tell him how I was feeling to give him a heads up and hopefully get any support I could from that outlet. She also brought up how she felt so strongly that this could be part of the effect of my living at home, and what that has always made me be. Whenever I came home for an extended period of time from Middlebury, I would freak. I would always seem to journal more at home than I would at school, feeling so distant and unbalanced in this only now somehow supportive place of my life. My home hadn't changed, but I had, and my new mold didn't fit as well as before.
**Talking about this reminded me of a song written by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk... Have a listen:**
Taking Leah's advice, I went to the director after and explained how I was feeling and wanting to clear up where I was in my process of sharing this story with the audience and where I believed I could go for the actual performances. We talked and agreed on how it was important to get the beats of the story and let the audience experience this ghostly horror within themselves, envisioning all the happenings I share. And thus, if that means not getting every word precisely as written, so be it.
I felt so much better after that on all levels. This conversation also allowed me to just let go of not only the anxiety about the show, but also any confusion, frustration, or depression that would try to enter my thoughts during the day while here in Connecticut. Recently I have found myself in ruts, whirled into these over-analytical processes about everything from money to relationships to what I'm eating. And in turn, I have been stuffing my face with fatty foods late into the night thinking that that will somehow calm me down, when in fact it only makes me more agitated and depressed. I can't remember the last time I had a day where I went to the gym and ate four balanced meals. In turn, I feel unbalanced, scattered. I keep pushing it off: "Oh, I'll eat well tomorrow and just pig out today" or "I'll just go to the gym tomorrow" which never happens. This decline has really affected my mental health and how I am able to accomplish certain goals. The more I put off a healthy life, the farther I feel I get from being on top of my game to actively and effectively pursue this career I have chosen.
In other words, I just need to get my butt in gear and turn around. And I'm going to. I will.

Yesterday, my former a cappella group The Middlebury College Bobolinks came down to Guilford on their fall tour to sing at my church. This was the fourth year in a row that they've been down here, and I was so excited to have them all back at my house. We've always done well at my church. Through donations and CD sales we would come out with close to $400-$500 each year which was amazing. This year, we asked back Daniel Hand High School's Encore! choir to sing. They are a very high quality group and we were so excited to have them sing with us again. I only sang with the Bobos on the last song, Boys II Men's "I'll Make Love To You", which my last semester I had the solo on for the bridge section. Before that though, I took a bit of time to sing some contemporary show tunes. They were all ones that were not well known and very new-age with complex accompaniment and even sometimes a more pop sound. I sang:
"Run Away With Me"
"What Is It About Her?"
"How Glory Goes"
I had a blast singing these songs, and I will probably sing them again at this cabaret that I keep saying I'm going to do someday. I want to work them again and see what more I can do with them acting and singing wise.
It was fun and weird all at the same time with the Bobolinks in Guilford after I had graduated. It was amazing to have the Bobos, my first true family at Middlebury, all hanging out again with me at my house. It was as if I never left, and that's what was so great and strange. There were times where I was able to separate myself from them and appreciate how amazing they sounded and meshed without the large class that just graduated. I was a proud parent at that time and I couldn't be happier to be on the outside. But then I would somehow find myself falling back into the mentality that I was still in the group. I was ironing my shirt for the show and was just thinking how I was going to be right back up on stage with them all and be singing the songs as I had done the past three years at this hometown concert. And then I remembered how I had graduated and that wasn't the deal anymore and I was thrown back into that whirlwind of fear and confusion of this present, post-graduation, living at home status I am a part of at the moment.
Then I would think about how I would be at Middlebury all of January, throwing myself into so many more of these opportunities of confusion and strange separation mixed with being present in this environment that I will forever more have a different connection with. While I have no idea what will come of this until I'm actually there, I'll just deal with it then. I can't do anything or know anything about that now, so there is no need to question it now.
Overall, I am so happy that the Bobolinks came and visited me. Sure it was so sad to say goodbye after such a short visit, but I knew I would be seeing them all so soon for J-Term. And while I got to have heart-to-hearts with some, I didn't get to with everyone. The Bobolinks was the best family to be a part of at school. It allowed for so many different yet strong relationships to be formed. When I was a freshman and sophomore, Tim and Scotty were the older brothers I never had. They  were my tenor buddies and made me not only the singer, but the man that I am today. And while I wasn't around as much as I wanted to be with the Bobos due to theatre and swimming,  I tried my best to fill Tim and Scotty's shoes, bringing in my younger tenor brothers like Todd and Sam, and did my best to show them the tenor style and fun attitude Tim and Scotty shared with me.
I look forward to hear about the rest of their fall tour and all the fond memories they are creating. Every year, fall tour was always what I looked forward to the most. I know each of the current Bobos will make memories like I did, and I couldn't ask for anything more than that.

So far, post-graduation has been set in very specific stages through my experiences. There was a) graduation, b) work, c) shows and a movie, d) new york city auditions, and now e), the next step that is still seemingly a little scattered. I'm trying to work, I'm trying to audition, I'm trying to get this show together, and I'm trying to be present. My balance isn't perfect right now, but I'm doing my best to get there and feel secure in knowing that I am taking the correct steps to not only be successful, but more importantly to be happy and to love what I am doing.

Recently, a lot has been going on, flying at me from all angles. Before, I was letting everything hit me where it hurt. Now I'm saying, "Bring it!"

Sunday, October 3, 2010


So I'm realizing that my whole consistency deal with this blog is not really there yet.

Something to look forward to. :-)

The past few weeks have been insane but great. I've been in the city running around, auditioning, and bumming on couches more than at home working. This obviously has its ups and downs. But let's just say that this whole life style of living at home and trying to make a name for myself in New York City has been exciting and strenuous. The past two trips that I've taken have had me there for five days or more. And let me tell you, packing bags that can be mobile and hold enough clothes and stuff for five days isn't that easy for me... But I must say that my packing skills have really exceeded an excellence that I didn't even know possible.

All jokes aside, this lifestyle that I've been leading lead me to a conversation with one of my best friends in the whole world, Leah. I met Leah at Middlebury when she was a senior and I was a freshman. I auditioned for the a cappella group that she was in and immediately became friends. We also both did theatre which made us immediate kindred spirits. Leah was also the first person that I talked to about being gay. We both tell the story differently, but how I remember it is that I said that it was something I was thinking about and she immediately started searching for a boyfriend for me in the show we were about to do together, Cabaret, which was my first show at Middlebury. Little did we know that month before we started rehearsals that she would introduce me to my first boyfriend who played Ernst Ludwig and the rest would be history. :-)

Leah and I chatted about my past month of auditioning and regularly being in and out of the city. Between September 7th and October 3rd, I've gone to 13 auditions and was seen at 11 of them. For those I've been in for two days at a time and sometimes six. And while it has been great to live at home, it has not made everything the easiest as I try to find my own way in the city. The mere factor of not always having a definite place to go back to and sleep or raid the fridge, a place of my own, is hard. And I'm tired. I'm tired. How can I be my best at an audition when I'm tired and trying to make my plans for the next day or where I'm sleeping that night? I can't.

These are all the great points that Leah was able to bring up in her supportful, loving, and caring way of hers that no one else is able to do. She has made it known that she believes I need to be there to do it. I need to officially live there and try. Because if I don't, and I keep trying it this way with this inconsistency, who knows where my future will actually lead me. I need to try, and I can't try if I'm still at home.

The next step that I can take now is making myself a trajectory, a path on which I want to accomplish certain things and be certain places at specific times for the near future. I haven't made this yet, but I hope to in the next few days and post it in my bathroom so I will see it everyday. All I know is I want to be in New York City in February. I'm going to be in New York City in February and will do whatever it takes for me to get there then. Stayed tuned for that...

Okay... now a bit of an update.

Last week I went to the EPAs for Emma the musical, my first audition at Telsey Company. I stayed there for about two hours, with my knitting in my hand, and was then told they weren't seeing any non-equity or EMC auditioners that day. I heard near after that that happens a lot at Telsey... Unfortunately too that was the only audition I had that trip into the city. I was able to see friends and catch up though which was really nice. Kinda of a bust though.

This most recent trip that I got home from today was much better! It was definitely a rocky start though. First off, I realized as I was on the train in that I forgot to bring more copies of my headshot and resume. One copy just wasn't going to cut it for the three auditions that I was planning to go to. Luckily my mother was able to email me with attachments of both, and I was going to have enough time before my catering gig that night to run to a Kinkos and print off some copies. I get there with the perfect amount time. Then it was just a snowball effect downhill from then on:
- Of course only one of the machines was working, and someone was using it for a good 15 minutes.
- The scanner and printer was SO slow! So I decided to just leave the fourth and final copy in the machine because I was cutting it close in needing to get downtown.
- I got lost in the hectic mess of midtown, finally finding the 1 train drenched in sweat having run around in circles with two bags and my catering clothes on a hanger all in hand. As I went for my MetroCard, I realized I left my credit card in that scanner. I freaked. I had ten minutes to get to my gig and ten blocks to walk back to the Kinkos and hopefully find my card.
- I called my boss and explain the situation, and he was great saying just get there as soon as I can. Luckily the card was still there, but I get to my gig 45 minutes late, now sopping wet with sweat. I tried to clean myself up, threw on my clothes, grabbed a platter, and walked around with wild mushroom-sundried tomato flatbreads, mini-burgers (the biggest hit), and fruit tarts for the rest of the night.
I finally ended up at Emily's to crash and get up early the next morning for two auditions the next day. A long day to say the least.

The first audition of the day I went to with Emily. It was for The Flea's Theater non-equity company, The Bats, which two Middlebury alumni are in. It called for two contrasting monologues, one classical and one contemporary. Now, I can't remember the last time I've done a monologue for an audition and I was super nervous. I first chose to do Arnold from Torch Song Trilogy, which I did for my senior thesis up at school. I knew it, I felt comfortable with it, and how many people come in and do a drag queen monologue for an audition? My second was Oberon from Midsummer, which I did for Acting 2 junior year... So it was in there, somewhere.
When we got there for our time slots we had signed up for before, we heard they were only seeing one monologue each rather than both. So immediately I put all my focus into Arnold. As Emily comes out, she says that they had her do both... Then I was asked to come in.
Arnold went amazingly well. I was shocked at how much the artistic director and other company members in the room were laughing. It was a great feeling! I feel that I had gotten all the beats even with a shortened version of what I did for my thesis. As I was about to leave the room, they asked for my second. Shit.
I started off, and about four lines in I started to be my own Shakespeare... Six lines in I stopped and asked if I could start over.
He said no.
He then proceeded to give me a three minute long lecture about why he doesn't allow people to start over and how ultimately that class attitude shows how I could be to work with in the future. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I was so embarrassed. Sure, I knew my Shakespeare was not as prepared as it should have been. Now I know how important it is to have that extra piece, pristine in your back pocket. But I took it as a good lesson to be learned to really have everything put together in my audition. However, it was cool that I was asked to do my second as Emily pointed out. Something must have went right for the first, and they wanted to see more. Who knows what will happen from that though...

Soon after this bomb, I had to pick myself off the ground and get ready for what I've been looking forward to for weeks now: the La Cage Aux Folles dancer auditions. I saw the production that is on Broadway now in London last summer and was absolutely amazed by the talent of Les Cagelles. I knew immediately I wanted to be one of them, but I feel my dancing is not up to snuff. Really when it comes down to it, I'm not bendy enough; I don't have the full split. Nonetheless, I saw this dancer call and I knew I had to go, try, and see what happens. Really there was nothing to lose.
I was in the second group to go. As I watched the first group come out sweaty and bleary-eyed, I knew I was in for a treat. The associate choreographer who was teaching us was the guy who played Hannah in the West End production I saw as well as Hannah here in the states. It was just an honor to be near him; he is phenomenal. At one point it looked like he just kinda tripped into the most beautiful leap... I was in awe.
The first round was a simple ballet combination. We went in groups of three. I was in the second group in the back of the triangle they put us in. As we started, I immediately realized I had two non-dancers in front of me, getting in my way, and throwing me off. I was furious and petrified. Were these two guys who were throwing me off going to keep me from moving on?
Luckily no. I moved on to the second round! Next we learned the actual choreography from the show. It was not easy, and there were parts that I never really got perfectly. But the choreographer said something that really stuck with me: "All you have to do is focus on yourself in this room. No one else. Perform, indulge, and have fun." Each time I practiced the combination and when I finally went out, I prepared myself and performed to have fun. Sure, I lost it a bit when the difficult parts came, but when I came to a part I knew, I put all that I could into the step. I wasn't thrilled with my first go, but they asked myself and two other guys to try it one more time, which was awesome! The second time was much better, and got me to the next round where I was going to be able to sing my 16 bars! I had gotten through all the dancing for the La Cage Aux Folles auditions and was moving onto a section of my art that i was much more comfortable with... I was on Cloud 9!
The 16 bars were okay. I sang "All I Need Is The Girl" again. The bell tone I got at the beginning was a lot different than I had had before, so I kinda slid to my first note. But after that it was okay. Overall though, I was just so ecstatic that I had gotten that far for a show that I would do anything to be a part of.

The next day I was going to go back for the chorus singer call for La Cage, and hopefully be able to sing another 16 bars for the casting director as well as the musical director. I was wondering if a lot of people did go for both, and was interested if I was going to see some of the same guys from the day before. I saw only a few which was interesting. I personally still don't know if I'm a dancer who sings or a singer who dances. But for now, why not go twice and be seen twice?
I got in to sing my next 16 bars from "Old Devil Moon". After I sang, the casting director said, "Terrific!" I was shocked. Never in my life have I ever had a person auditioning me say that before. It was amazing! Sure, who knows what it actually meant or even if he says that to everyone. All I know is that he remembered me from the day before, he didn't say that the day before, and he seemed like a genuine guy. With all of that, I obviously still have no idea what that could mean for my future in this show if there is any. But, it did give me a boost of confidence that I am at least doing some things right, and that I need to keep on trying. I do have something to offer, now I just have to find a way to be as consistent as I can in showing my talent and that it is meant to be seen by more than a mirror, piano, and casting director.

My next phase is to spend a bit more time at home and work a bit more. I will still go in for some auditions, but maybe not as many as I have been going in for these past 27 days. I want to continue to be seen and to be known as a contender for this business. There's still a long way to go and I lot more to do, but it's all coming in time. Hopefully my trajectory will help. I know it will help.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Essex Steam Train & More...

Well, I was just hired for my next two paid gigs here in Connecticut! I was referred by a friend of mine from my most recent production of ANNIE with Artful Living Productions, Beth. She called me and said that they were looking for more actors for their upcoming shows and that she thought I would be perfect for them. So I contacted the creator and producer, Ira, and set up my audition for yesterday.

The Essex Steam Train joined with Ira put on interactive and fun journeys on the train stemmed by a storyline based on the time of year. So first there is FRIGHT TRAIN, a spooky Halloween ride, and then there is NORTH POLE EXPRESS, a joyful Christmas inspired ride.

The audition was fun. It was low key, but a lot. I was asked to bring two monologues, two songs, and be ready for cold-reading and improv. I was a bit intimidated, especially with the monologues. I haven't done an audition with just monologues that I prepared for a very long time. And all of my monologues that I did up at school didn't really fit for this family style of show that The Essexy Steam Train plays for. I ended up doing only one monologue and one song with a little reading and improv. So I dug out a monologue I did for Acting 3 my junior year at Middlebury from ANNA KARENINA by Helen Edmundson when Levin is talking about living simply in the country. I was going to sing "Being Alive" from COMPANY, but the room was way too small, and I would have blown his ears off with that belt. So I brought it down with good old "Old Devil Moon".

Then I got do do some improv and reading with Ira. What I was noticing during this was how rusty I felt about how to really delve into a text that I'm given not just with my brain but my whole body and all my senses so I could respond on all levels to the words. It made me really think about how to keep myself fresh and on top of that work that I did so often at Middlebury. My best friend from Midd, Cassidy, who was also a theatre major and helped me so much throughout my four years there both on and off the stage, just let me know that she was asked to be a part of a theatre company in LA where they have weekly classes to do just what I wanted: keep fresh. I just want to find a way to do this somehow without having to spend gobs of money for regular classes. 'Cause Lord knows I don't have that kind of money... :-)

Great news, I got gigs for both shows with The Essex Steam Train! Rehearsals for FRIGHT TRAIN start October 5th, and NORTH POLE EXPRESS start November 2nd. So when I thought I was going to have time... Now I don't. But, I'm being paid and getting a great experience under my belt of how to use theatrics, improvisation, and a story to bring joy and fun to all ages.

Here's the website to learn more about The Essex Steam Train shows and how to purchase tickets!

While this is exciting, it is definitely going to keep me from going into the city as much as I was for auditions. But, I do feel like I'm starting to get a grasp around it all now, so whenever I can go in, I will. What I love about those auditions is that I seem to always see people that I know either from past productions or from other auditions. I've also made a lot of friends and people have been so kind and helpful as we sit and wait for our name to be called. Now that my nerves have started to settle about the whole "NYC Auditioning" hoop-la, I'm going to start bringing my knitting... :-)

So, I love YouTube. By surfing, I find so much great stuff concerning musical theatre, new artists, songs that would be great for me to sing, and watch people perform, which I learn so much from. Whether it's watching actions being played in a song or amazing riffs and vocal qualities to try, YouTube, as corny and weird as it sounds, is truly a great resource.

This whole blogging stuff is still weird to me. I don't even know if anyone is reading, so why do I put it up in public? An interesting process to say the least.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


This summer I was greeted with an amazing opportunity kinda by chance...

I was coming home from a 10-6 rehearsal day of FINIAN'S RAINBOW. My mother had informed me of an audition for a movie that was going to be filmed in my town at the local public library. As I drove by, I knew it was just starting, but I really wanted to go home. But something said to go inside; so I obeyed and filed into a really long line.

Little did I know that I would not only be called in as an extra, but as a stand-in for one of my most favorite actors and singers, Cheyenne Jackson. I had just recently seen him in the Broadway revival of FINIAN'S RAINBOW, and had watched all of his YouTube videos, marveling at the control of his voice. Not to mention his dedication to being true to himself as an openly gay actor on the big stage and screen makes me so happy. He is my inspiration. By truly being himself and nothing else, he has succeeded in so many ways.

So, you can see how excited I was to meet him...

The whole process of this production was amazing. I had never worked on a film before, but everyone was so kind and generous with their time to teach me the lingo plus what everything meant and was used for. I made some great friendships, including Jason (the actor playing opposite Cheyenne who is by far one of the most talented actors I have ever had the privilege of watching work) and Cheyenne. I wrote some little thank you cards to both of them as well as the producers and the director to thank them for a wonderful journey and allowing me to take the ride with them all.

I then got an email back from Cheyenne...

Cheyenne wrote some really wonderful things to me, advice that I will take with me forever and wherever I go:
- What I noticed about you is that you were always watching, always listening, always absorbing. That is so important. Keep that up. That's how you learn.
- Stay focused and strong and true to yourself. Your parents will come around fully and your relationship with them will be all the stronger.

Thank you Cheyenne. Can't wait to see you on October 29th at your concert at Carnegie Hall!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Opening...

I never really thought I would create one of these. But here I am, like all other new bloggers, wondering how to not sound cliche, how to create something new, and where to go.

Well, I don't know how to do any of those really.
- I know I'll sound cliche. My gut is full of corn and cheese.
- What is "new"? (See, already cliche...)
- Can one even go anywhere on/in a blog?

I'm guessing that the best way to go about this is to just explain the happenings of a day, of an experience, followed by a clued in format of how I responded.

Alright, here goes nothing...

I live in Guilford, CT, at home. I just finished school so, yeah... Whoopee! How great it is to be back at home after having created my own life away from here for four years now!!....

But, no, it's great, really. I have a flexible job as a gardener's assisstant, I have a lovely home with great parents and a wonderful dog, Jasper, a vegetable garden (which is has seemingly baked in the summer heat) and over 30 egg-laying hens.

The goal is to save money by staying at home. I've been working my tail off, trying to get to certain goals each month with my bank account, and it's been paying off quite nicely. It's been hard. But that's what has got to happen. Who knows how much I'll have when I actually move to the city. But, however much I have, that's how much I'll have and I'll make it work.

What I did this summer:
- Co-Choreographed and was an Ensemble member in Artful Living's production of ANNIE. Great people, amazing production quality and talent for community theatre, and fun memories all around.
- Worked as Cheyenne Jackson's stand-in for a movie that was being filmed in Guilford called THE GREEN... More stories about that later...
- Choreographed and was an Ensemble member in Ivoryton Playhouse's production of FINIAN'S RAINBOW. This was my first time working here after it has been made an Equity Theater, so I got my first 6 Equity Membership Candidate points and excited to get more! A talented cast and really lovely production of a classic filled with beautiful music and clever word-play.

To say the least, it was busy. But so enjoyable. I'm sure stories from those productions will filter in throughout the blog...

At the beginning of the summer, I was planning on moving into NYC in September, aka, now. Then I thought I should wait till after the big school housing rush, thus October. Now, I'm planning on being there in February... How did it get pushed back so far??? Well, I got offered to go back up to Middlebury and choreograph their January musical, "Urinetown". They're housing me, feeding me, and paying me so why not? Even though I'll of course be going during the coldest month of the year to Vermont, it will be nice to be around. It could make my separation from my fours years there that much easier or that much harder.

Now that it is September though, it's time to beat the pavement and go for those jobs in NYC. This afternoon I got back from a two-day trip into the city for my first ever NYC auditions. I've been lucky enough to have lived so close to the city my entire life and am quite familiar with how to get around and feel comfortable navigating my way through the grid. I have a lot of friends who are always so generous to have me stay on their couches whenever I am in the city, so I always have a free place to bunk.

I was given a great piece of advice from the producer of the movie I just worked on (who has become a great friend and mentor). He said that your action for every audition should be: "You can trust me with your most valued possessions." I found that so helpful these past few days. It really gave me a solid grounding to keep my jitters from taking over my body and mind.

So, what I auditioned for...

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

- WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA (EPA. A new show with jazz music. I sang "Old Devil Moon" from FINIAN'S with a little jazz twist as inspired by Cheyenne Jackson's version on his CD. I felt pretty good. I found my smudge on the wall to throw all my acting actions to and I stayed calm. I was nervous, so I wasn't as grounded breath wise as I had wished, but it was my first...)

Wednesday, Septemeber 8th, 2010

- AVENUE Q (Non-Equity Tour. I got there at 7:30, put my name down, #86, waited for two, two and a half hours, and then was typed out. So I ran to Pearl to get into the next auditions for the day.)

- FOLLIES (ECC - Singers who move well. The revival production that is starting at the Kennedy Center and hopefully moving to Broadway soon. I sang 16 bars of  "All  I Need Is The Girl" from GYPSY [one of my most favorite roles I have played]. Once again, not really grounded. But I kept the focus best I could. The musical director was so nice. He went, "Can I give you some advice... Get a new headshot." I do need a new one. The one I have is 3 years old and I have chenged a lot. So that's next on my agenda: NEW HEADSHOT!)

- MARY POPPINS (EPA. The Broadway production... I didn't think I was going to get in because I was at FOLLIES, but they hadn't gotten to my name yet on the EMC list when I came in after my other audition. So I waited a few minutes and was called in to sing. Now, I didn't prepare a contemporary full song for this audition, so I just did "All I Need..." all the way through. It was pushing it seeing that GYPSY was from 1959, and they wanted something post 1960. But I went in confidently and just did my best. It was by far the best audition I have had yet! I was grounded and supported all the way through the song. I kept my movement as small and specific as possible, finding that smudge again and singing directly to it. I think I could have done a bit more with acting, but I was trying to keep myself grounded more than anything and not let movement create an over-acting situation. Note for next time though, always have something ready in every genre for all the auditions that day.)

Two days, four auditions, seen three times. I'm quite happy. :-)

Hey, I'm kinda liking this blogging stuff.