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.