Monday, December 26, 2011

Tis The Season to Write.

Yup. It's been over a month, almost two months, since I posted last. Frankly, not much has happened... I've been catering like a mad-man this holiday season which while tiring I am ever grateful for. I'm looking so forward to the upcoming months to refocus. This past month I have been adding to what I've been calling "The January/February List". These are all of the activities, tasks, and journeys I want to tackle while catering season is slow to further my artistic understanding and experience here in the city. Come the 1st of the month, my list will be posted in my room to check items off as they are achieved. I am looking so forward to a productive and artistically fulfilling January and February.

I thought I'd share my holiday letter with you all here. I am so grateful for everyone in my life this year who has made this (almost) first year in the city so special. Your presence in my life is so cherished, and I look forward to future fun, merriment, and joy together. Know that your love and support has made this year one of the most inspiring, productive, and creative years of my life. You all have helped me clear paths and open doors to uncharted destinies of possibilities for my life here.

I love you. Happy reading!


Happy Holidays from an “On the Road to Becoming a Real-Life New Yorker.” :-)
As I am getting closer and closer to my one year anniversary of moving from Guilford to the Big Apple (Valentine’s Day), I cannot believe how much has happened in such a short amount of time. 
Now, has my concocted dream of life in New York City unfolded in grand splendor? 

Definitely not. 

BUT, this dream-like reality that has come to fruition opened up so many doors to wonderful places in my heart. With this opening comes the amazing rekindling of friendships through the post-college/city-life, along with new friends from different worlds of the greatest city on Earth. The experiences created and made here have made this small year feel like three great big ones. Time is jam packed to the brim with activities, work, and ideas for the future. And I couldn’t be happier. 
So... What’s happened? Let’s start from the top...
I performed my first cabaret, “Another Staged Experience” two more times, first up at Middlebury College for my professors and friends (while I was there choreographing their Winter Musical, “Urinetown”), and then back in Guilford as a part of the Congregational Church’s “Joyful Noise” series. This newfound love of sharing my stories and voice with others all of a sudden sparked thousands of new ideas for future cabarets. 
For the months to follow, I was auditioning and catering to pay the bills. It’s said that an actor’s career is 90% auditioning and 10% performing. So, I was going to as many auditions as I could and sometimes waiting hours to be seen. I then landed my first show from a NYC audition! In April, I played Chip Tolentino in Westchester Sandbox Theater’s main-stage production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”. With a powerhouse cast to perform with, we brought the theater’s ticket sales to record heights. I had a ball belting high G’s and A’s with the opener of Act Two, “My Unfortunate Erection”. Priceless.
I had the opportunity of a lifetime to perform in a workshop of a brand new musical by Jay Alan Zimmerman entitled, “Smokin!” with the fantastic director, Anthony J. Cantalupo. Jay saw me perform at a benefit concert for mutual friends of ours, and a couple weeks later I was cast. I have always wanted to work on a piece at its ground level and this was the perfect experience to fulfill those specific dreams. It was a direct eye-line into the creative process of a musical theatre writer, proving not only educational but also artistically fulfilling on a completely different and incredible level. 
After this, I headed back to The Ivoryton Playhouse at the end of June for their production of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers”, playing the delightfully playful and joyous role of Carmen Ghia. Just imagine me with a pompadour standing 4 inches tall while I flitzed around the stage with the flamer barometer bursting over 100%. It was pure joy to be a part of this masterpiece of musical theatre, plus with this role came my Equity Card! Aka, now I am in the actors’ union and receive benefits for performing (more audition opportunities as well as health care, pensions, etc.). It was a stupidly exciting show and I loved my time back in Ivoryton with friends and family coming from all over to join me for this monumental step forward in my career. 
Then it was back to the city for more catering and auditioning. Alongside work, I started volunteering for Opening Act, an amazing non-profit here in the city that brings free after school theatre programs to the boroughs hardest hit schools. I’m now on their Social Board, helping organize events in order to raise awareness about these public schools with little to no funding for arts. Students at the end of each semester put on a show that they have written and created completely on their own with Teaching Artists' aid and support. The performances are some of the most inspiring works I have seen, and I am so lucky to be working with such a wonderful organization that puts the kids first above anything else. Be sure to check them out:
With no shows on the horizon and feeling stuck in a rut, I decided to put together a new cabaret for myself. I had recently taken a workshop called “Produce Your Own Work”, which is taught by Molly Pearson, one of the Executive Producers of the movie I worked on the summer before (which is now available! Check it out: “The Green”). Now equipped with a tool-belt of Producing 101 skills, I leapt into putting on my own New York City show. Friends and family helped out by donating to my account, which allowed me to fund not only the performance space, but also the fantastic work of my director, Martin Peacock, and accompanist, Shannon Collins. “Braver. Stronger. Smarter.”, a piece that chronicled my first love, my relationship with my father, and the auditioning world of commercial musical theatre debuted at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre down in the village this past October with the most amazing audiences of family and friends from High School, Middlebury, and New York. With a great response and a good review in Cabaret Scenes (the cabaret world’s magazine and online site), I saw something completely new within me: I feel the strongest onstage when I’m there with my own stories and voice. 

Having this newfound joy bubbling inside me, my goal now is to bring autobiographical cabarets to high schools, colleges, and LGBT conferences to be that gay man I never had right in front of me, clearly being able to see that it truly does gets better. I’ve seen through storytelling and songs that people of all ages, backgrounds, and sexual orientation can be given light to see that what they have to give the world is a gift for everyone.  
Since then, I’m back to (you guessed it) more auditioning and catering, leading me up to right now. As for 2012, I’ve learned that New York City will lead me in the right direction with my own dreams grounding me. Those dreams will be fulfilled in due time, and this amazing city, even though hard at times, is supporting me every step of the way.
Love to you,

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Miss Saigon" & Next Steps...

It has taken me a week to actually sit down and write this entry. Lots has happened (or at least felt like it has happened) and weeks’ schedules only seem to continue to fill up with activities, work, and steps to be taken. 
Last week I was in my mom’s Honda CRV, driving myself up to see my boyfriend’s last performance of “Miss Saigon” that he was performing in up at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. I had the great pleasure of seeing the show its first weekend with my mom and was blown away by the quality of the production. The talent within this production was absolutely astonishing. I was amazed by all aspects: the direction, all design components, and all of the performances. 
Then I got to see it again! I was looking so forward to a second chance to experience the strength and conviction of this musical theatre piece; this production blasted me into the genius ways in which musical theatre can inform historical instances. This second time though, there was a depth that I connected with, bringing me to utter tears at the end. 
What was different this time around? Was it just that they had found more throughout their run? Were they giving it 150% for their final performance? I’m sure these were some reasons, but I think what I was tapping into along with all of this was the sense of community and family that they as an ensemble had created. Kavin would tell me stories about all the fun they were having, all the crazy things that would happen during rehearsals and shows, as well as how they all came together for the depth and honor this show specifically requires. In a weird, twisted way I felt a part of their process, somewhat secretly able to hear first account everything that was happening. 
But I wasn’t. I’m not officially a part of their show, their ensemble, their family. At first, bubbles of jealousy came into my chest, wishing I was there to partake in all the fun a production brings, the friends made, and the staged experiences to be remembered. But I knew this jealousy wasn’t going to do anyone any good, especially me. 
What I was seeing and experiencing through the “Miss Saigon” backstage stories, along with this last performance, was a beautiful expression of harmony and joy unfolding in front of me, instances in which I was able to reminisce with my own theatre memories and bask in the warmth of what theatre brings to me as an individual. Theatre allows us to partake in collaborative opportunities to not only create artistic endeavors and unique expressions, but be together with other like minded beings to learn and growth within our own individual lives. 
This is so beautiful to me, and I am so grateful for the entire cast and crew of Ogunquit Playhouse’s production of “Miss Saigon” whom reminded me of yet another reason why I love this creative work. 
In having Kavin back in the city, I was excited to have him watch the video of “Braver. Stronger. Smarter.” as he was up in Maine for the actual performance. 
I turned on the video and immediately tensed up for the entire 40 minutes. Kavin kept saying, “Relax”, but I couldn’t until it finished. Finally, Kavin was here to watch it and I was able to hear what he had to say about this piece. I knew he would be honest and I wanted him to like it. He had so many wonderful things to say as well as some really great constructive criticism. But with these constructive ideas for change I froze, thoughts swirling around, falling off the deep end into a panic fury. 
Am I actually cut out for this? Was what I did actually good, or were my friends just being nice? Can I even sing? What if this isn’t the path I should be on? Have I always sucked and everyone haven’t had the heart to crush my dream?
I went through the entire gamut...
Being slapped out of this deer in headlights mode finally by Kavin, I was able to see that it’s okay that there is still room to grow, to change things. There is ALWAYS this room. I had to remind myself that this was the point of this piece; I wanted people to be here to join me in a brand new piece that is still under construction. 
There is work to be done to truly allow all that I want to say and wish to say to come out in a constructive, professional, beautiful piece. This requires time and patient finesse to put together, and that very process is so exciting to me. I am seeing the positive aspects of both cabaret styles I’ve tried out, and now it’s a matter of joining the two.  Something here is inside me and ready to burst out into a creative force to be reckoned with. 
Once again, as it has always been, it’s about sitting down and and taking that time to create. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Hello World. Here I come; get ready!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Start of Something New.

So many things are happening right now in my head, it’s extremely difficult to put fingers to keys to write this entry. I’ve been thinking about this entry for a long time now, wanting to chat about my time with this new cabaret I have been working on since May. 

Now, all of a sudden, my show is done with a 40 minute performance. It just went by so fast and there is so much to process about the actual evening at The Duplex plus “the beyond”. 
The performance was perfection for myself. I was actually surprised about how good I felt throughout my entire time onstage. I felt happy, secure, and comfortable in my piece with the rehearsal I had had with my directors. That rehearsal time gave me confidence to fall into this piece and cohesively share this performance with the audience. There was this strength that filled my being unlike any other time that I’ve been onstage. It felt so right to be there.
To accompany this pure joy of performing this piece, I was joined by the most loving and amazing audience I will probably ever perform for in my life. The family and friends that were able to make it out will always hold the most special place in my heart. Along with this super audience, all of the people who weren’t able to be there sent their love either through beautiful notes or Kickstarter donations. The support I received from everyone in creating this piece astounded me. I will be forever grateful for everyone’s love in this journey.
What have I learned from this voyage into another cabaret experience? 
I learned that I have something to say. 
I learned that I want to be the one to create opportunities in order to share these ideas. 
I learned that my venue is the cabaret stage.
This is where I belong, and I am ready to continue on in this cabaret medium. The ideas that are coming with this new home on the cabaret stage are endless at this point. So, how do I bring these to the table in a compelling, original, and entertaining format?
I need to learn more. Learning doesn’t only come through these opportunities to try out shows in front of audiences, which has been how I’ve been learning about cabaret since I started last December. It’s time to expand my vocabulary and understanding of the performing arts in general (something my roommate Jayson has been stressing for months now). I’m now seeing that I have to learn more about what has happened, what paths have been paved, and paying respect to the geniuses who have graced the stage. Everything from one-person shows, to recording artists’ live shows, to musicals, it’s time to immerse myself and really learn the history of my art.
So this is my idea to start this educational journey: Listen to a musical soundtrack everyday. I’m going to start with what I have and then go to the Lincoln Center library to find more. Luckily, Jayson’s knowledge and library is super extensive, so I’ll be in good hands. :-)
Tonight, I’m going to kick off my new endeavors with a medium Dominos Meat Lovers’ Pizza and “Liza With A Z”. 
I’m ready for this new adventure and dedication to creation in the cabaret world. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So Close to the Start of Something New.

Kinda crazy to think that my show is in two days. 
In two days it will be over. Done. Finished. 
And then what? A next performance of this piece? A brand new one? A version of this?
I don’t know, and that’s what is so riveting about this job. 
I couldn’t be happier about where I am with this creation. I had my final rehearsal today before our tech rehearsal on Friday right before the actual show. It was great. I feel great. I know it can be great. It will be great when I let go and let this piece release from me. 
There are so many words to remember. Just so many words. But, I think I’m good when it comes to memorization of this one-man show. I’m so ready to get it up on its feet in front of my family and friends. It’s time.
This piece has made me look at my whole spectrum of dreams and do a bit of re-evaluation of it all: What is it that I want to be doing in this world of theatre? What do I truly want to be doing with this art? What road should I be traveling down?
All I know is that I love this work I’m doing with my cabaret. Kinda obsessed with it actually. 
I can make a difference with this kind of creation. I feel strong in this format, stronger than I have felt in an artistic mode, and that’s exciting to me.
More to come on all of this. There’s gonna be some searching of the soul after this performance. Different paths are to be taken and I am excited. I’m excited.
Here we go! It’s time to take off and soar.   

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What happened to September?

What actually happened to September? Like, seriously though.... 
It’s finally becoming sweater weather and I have a night to sit and write a catch-up blog. I’m gonna push through and get to everything in a “short and concise” way. September was insane, full of ups and downs in all directions and on all levels. 
My brand new cabaret, “Braver. Stronger. Smarter.” has been coming together in so many amazing ways, and I am so proud of what it is becoming. Working with Martin and Shannon on this piece has been absolutely perfect. Their team-work in creating a compelling and intricate piece on all levels has set me in a beautiful state of pure joy and peace for this process. The stories are strong, the songs are just-right, and the combination of these two story-telling techniques brings my life to a whole new place. 
With less than two weeks till my performance date, I am in memorization mode. This isn’t like my first cabaret where I had my little cheat sheet on a music stand in front of me. Nope, not this time. Now it’s more of an hour-long autobiographical one-man musical. So I really have to know it backwards and forwards. I have a feeling I know it better than I feel I do, but tomorrow is my day to get the rest of the fuzzy spots sharp and toned for performance mode. 
Here’s my poster for the show with all the information for the performance. If you’re in the area and can make it out, be sure to make a reservation so you can get a discounted ticket at the door!

The creation of this piece couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Recently I’ve been going through those “actor crises”, aka, “Am I good enough to be in this commercial musical theatre world?”, “Why am I putting myself through this all?”, “Is this really what I want to be doing with my life?”. There’s a lot of business that people talked about that I didn’t initially pay attention to, but am now facing from time to time. This commercial musical theatre world (a term I got from my auditioning workshop) has the option of being EXTREMELY picky. The fact that I possibly didn’t get a role because I was too tall, that I may smile too much during one audition and then not enough for another, or that I’m gay (yes, even in this gay world there is fear about casting a gay man in certain roles) just makes my skin squirm. 
But this is where I am for now. I’m going to continue to audition for these big regional shows as well as Broadway because that was and still is an aspect of my dream. However, I am going to be spending more time on creating more of this work that I’m doing with my cabaret, whether it is touring this piece, creating new ones, or another dream of mine, creating a company dedicated to creating and spreading this kind of truthful, musical, theatrical story-telling. Obviously that is all up in the air now, but my cabaret has definitely opened my eyes to the kind of work that I truly want to do and the opportunities that have started to open up with that drive. 
In that “actor crisis” moment, I got super sick. Sicker than I’ve been in years. I was out for a week with a scary throat thing. With a lot of scared friends telling me I should “go get it checked out” I turned back to my Christian Science roots and had a beautiful healing. While they are supportive, I know a lot of my non-Christian Science friends think I’m crazy for not going to the doctor, especially when “my body is my career”. But I didn’t get to almost 24-years-old as healthy as I am without Christian Science. 
“But medicine is reliable. Why not rely on medicine to keep your body, your instrument in this business, in top shape to succeed?” 
Christian Science and its scientific healing methods have proved just as reliable as any medicine in my life as well as thousands of others. Sure, I definitely thought about going to the doctor a few weeks ago, afraid of never being able to sing again. But I stayed with Christian Science to eliminate the fear of any material substance being able to take my joy of performing away. And here I am today, no pills or shots and singing just as I was before. 
I’m continuing on with Christian Science now in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time. After not being allowed to go back to the Christian Science camps because of being openly gay, I definitely took a step back from my faith. Now I am seeing clearer than ever that I can be whoever I am as well as believe and practice whatever faith that centers me to live a fruitful life. Christian Science is right for me now. Sure, there are still questions that I have, but this is truly a science, providing the methods and tools to live a happy, centered, and joy-filled life everyday. So this is where I’m starting from. 
Catering has been getting really old recently. Like really old. I feel like those older school horses for horseback riding classes/camps that just get bitter and pissy when they’re ridden so much with inexperienced riders. I find myself getting continually more and more snappy and pissed when I get back from working, and sometimes even while at work. So I’m staying open to other options for work if they come along. I still can’t beat the flexibility and pay that catering has to offer. Thus I’m going to stick it out for a little longer. Let’s just hope I don’t kick or bite someone like those school horses do... 
Amidst these little dips and bumps along the way, I have been the happiest I have been in a really long time. I met the most wonderful man who has brought not only so much light into my life, but continually stretches me to think, grow, and learn. You hear how the happiest couples explain that they are best friends. I never understood that until now. I can tell him ANYTHING I’m thinking about or dealing with. I’ve even been able to be really honest and open talking about Christian Science; the subject of faith in my past relationships wasn’t ever really talked about. But with us, both being spiritual people, we definitely talk about it, and I can’t explain how grateful I am for that. 
What’s even more amazing is that my parents like him. Yes, my boyfriend came to see me in “The Producers” this summer and stayed at my house for four days, hanging out with my parents and I. It’s crazy to think that just a few years ago I wouldn’t even dream about actually bringing someone home to introduce to my parents. We as a family just weren’t there yet. When I look back actually though, I think it was more my fear than my parents’, but it is what it is. To add to that, Mom and I took a day trip up to the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine last weekend to see my boyfriend in their production of “Miss Saigon” (which was INSANELY FABULOUS). 
Everything feels sorta surreal right now, everything from how accepting my parents are and how open I can be with them about who I truly am, along with having this wonderful man in my life. I am so blessed. 
On another completely different note, I just figured out how to get some of my choreography up onto YouTube. So be sure to check it out! You can follow this link to my channel and see all of the videos I uploaded:
It has been a busy and eventful September to say the least. I am looking so forward to this October with my cabaret coming up as well as lot of auditions for shows I feel I’m right for. 
So here’s a big fall welcome to all! May the changing of seasons meet you well with lots of fresh apple cider, a new sweater, and the beautiful autumnal leaves.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The "Dry-Spell"

There is this alleged “dry-spell” when one receives the Equity Card. Everyone is excited to finally get the recognition that a simple piece of oaktag provides, but there is also the fear of the period of time right after. Who knows what actually “causes” this, the time in which we as actors don’t book gigs even though we’ve just proved that we have something in us that puts us on the same page as all other professional actors. The “dry-spell” is accepted. People just deal. 
I don’t like this, and I refuse to buy it.
Life is and should always be full with artistic intention whether cast in a show or not. I believe that this outlook can only bring good things. By staying open with an assured sense of beautiful things to come just around the riverbend, -  

- further inspiration for the positive steps to take can only be taken with grace and confidence. It’s with this mentality that we are immediately open to meet new and eager talent in this surprisingly small city who come together to create great work in the times when the commercial theatre industry may not need us. 
When I’ve been open to the joy and harmony that art brings, new artistic adventures and opportunities spring forward into view of any shape or size, all being equally beautiful and important in my life. That is what I will hold onto, not to the fear of the “dry-spell”. 
I am committing to staying open, to listening. 
It is time to break that spell before it even begins; I will be the one who does not let that supposed possibility hold me back. The “dry-spell” is quite simply a human creation from times that, yes, have happened before, but never 100% of the time. People who are affected by the “dry-spell” are the ones who let themselves be a part of the depressed, fearful, stressed percentage in this timing bracket. 
CHOOSE HAPPINESS (as Ms. Cassidy Boyd would say). 
Does this mean I feel I’m going to be cast in a show within the week? 
No. (If I do though, fabulous!)
What I’m trying to get at in this blunt manner is that whether I am cast in a show or not, that doesn’t mean that my life will ever be void of my artistic endeavors and jubilation. My art is my life and my life is my art. No one will ever be able to be take my artistic-living life away from me.
Instead of a “dry-spell”, I am entering an “art-filled-spell”. Here I am World! I’m ready!
To start this “art-filled-spell”, I have great news. I have just locked down on a place and time for a performance of my brand new cabaret, “Braver. Stronger. Smarter”: An evening with me as I recount moments of my first love, my father, and the auditioning world of commercial musical theatre through an unconventional combination of stories and show tunes. I have paired up with my awesome director, Martin Peacock, and my amazingly talented musical director, Shannon Collins, all pulling together some stories of mine for a new, edgier view of what cabaret can be. 
We will be at The Duplex Friday, October 14th at 7:00 PM. So mark it in your calendars now for a fun night of songs and stories!
This performance is only the beginning. With only one night, my hope is to have family and friends come out and share this experience with me: my first ever solo show in NYC. From this night, we hope to expand, find what was intriguing within the piece in performance, and continue to create more cabarets to be marketed to a wider audience, including cabaret fanatics as well as high school and college communities around the country. 
I am so happy with where we are going with this project. Please stay up to date on my Facebook profile about how to reserve tickets as well as how to donate to the creation of this piece. 
Here’s to an art-filled life for everyone! 
Whether it’s your career or not, commit to doing at least one artistic action a day simply for yourself. Sketch a tree, sing a little louder in church or the shower, go out to see a show or movie, or even write a journal entry or blog post. :-) 
It’s a beautiful way to live.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Week 2 of Audition Workshop: At the Edge of the Diving Board

And in a flash, my workshop has ended. So much has happened in these two weeks that I am grateful for, and they all started with the addition of this workshop in my life. Not only did I get that kick in the butt to finally go out and get new headshots, but also my resume has been revamped and rendered down into a clear, clean, classy, and professional format. Along with these technical yet absolutely necessary aspects of the business, I was re-introduced to those basic acting necessities that accompany a good, strong audition like salt and pepper partners scrambled eggs. 
What more can I ask for? 
Well, of course coming into this class, my big dream was that on the last day of our class, when we auditioned in front of Duncan Stewart (casting director), Jesse Vargas (musical director), and Jen Namoff (talent manager/producer), that one of them would see the spark of talent inside of me and offer me some sort of job. I mean, who doesn’t want that? “Oh, you would be so great as ______. Here’s your contract; you start next week.”  
And that didn’t happen. 
With performances that vocally felt great, a few spot on acting beats, and a lot of spastic, nervous energy coming out through my hands, I had a decent audition. Definitely not my best, but I took what I had learned and how I was directed through the class and just had fun, not worrying about having to impress or perform for everyone behind the table. And I had fun. I did. I was really happy with those acting aspects I honed in on and know that they can only get stronger with the continued work through the steps I revisited in this class:
  • Find the scenario that works for you. It may not relate exactly with the actual story of the show, but that doesn’t matter. The scenario of the song must have super high stakes to allow the growth of the story to soar without the aid of all other theatrical devices (lights, costumes, book, other actors, etc.). Have the scenario and then find the truth of that situation through each lyric, rhythm, and pitch.
  • Understand that you are only talking to your imaginary scene partner. One person. Pick that person and simply talk to them. 
  • Ask this: What am I saying? Don’t just tell what the song is doing, what the song goes through. Just do it. 
  • Create a journey: beginning, middle, and end. Create realizations. Create beats. There is an A to Z path that should be taken with hills and valleys, ups and downs, all ending with a positive “Z”. 
What resonated with me was that my intended choices don’t need to be, and frankly shouldn’t be, heady or complicated. Simplicity is relatable, easy to grasp, possible to understand. What I was feeling, working through my songs with Jimmy and Benton was that when you just say it, you are able to “act on the line, not around it”. So, instead of using all of my intention in weird, useless motion and eye choreography that leave my words plain and boring, focus all of that acting foundation onto the actual words, which will in turn infuse my words with an amazing essence of beautiful emotion. With that, I fell into my scene, into my character, into myself and just was there, present in the moment of the story, of my journey through the song. Truly enchanting. 
Now I’m at the edge of the diving board. Before, I was climbing the steps, then walking the gravely runway towards the crystal blue water. My toes are curled over the edge, ready for a few bounces and a final spring into the refreshing opportunities of new artistic endeavors. Will it be a splash-less entrance? Will I have to get out and climb those stairs again? Maybe. Probably. But at least I have the tools now to get back to the edge of the diving board again.
Am I all of a sudden the perfect auditioner? Will I book the next thing I go out for because all the tricks are in the bag? 
Hell no. 
BUT, I have come a long way through simple steps that may seem small, but are so important. When these are fully taken, only huge progress can come. Without this workshop, I don’t know if I would have been able to take that catwalk to the edge of my diving board and feel confident to jump in. 
Thank you to Jimmy and Benton for getting me up on that board and grounded to know where to go next. I am so grateful for what you both have done for my confidence in this field, in turn aiding me in the continuous understanding of who I am, where I am going, and what I wish to become not only as  performer, but as a person. I will always look back on this time as a hard - sometimes spiraling - but definitely positive time in my life that has only helped me in my further growth through this artistic career I have set out towards. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Week 1 of Audition Workshop: Tears Creating a Blog Entry.

I had the great fortune of coming across an audition workshop that started right when I got back into the city. I’ve been wanting to take one of these workshops for a long time now, but it never was working out. Finally this one screamed out my name and I am so happy I took the plunge. I could go on and on about how happy I am about getting the kick in the butt of how to set up my resume properly, to get a new headshot, and to come back to those necessary acting basics that auditioning needs at heightened levels. I could go through my notes and talk about all the little tips I’ve been getting. 
But no. I have something else. 
The people who seemingly don’t work are always the best actors. I’ve seen this time and time again. I thought it was natural talent, just oozing from their pores in perfected pitch, time and rhyme. They couldn’t help it; their souls just needed to let go of all this talent, thus every time is a grand old time. 
Then there was me, the one who had to search, pry, scratch apart, and rip through to find that connecting factor to the natural creativity - that I do believe - we all have. I’ve been through that hell, that work, and have found the results where people applaud me and praise the creation that had happened before their eyes.
Even when I do that strenuous work, the “connection” doesn’t happen 100% of the time, and that sucks balls. Why can’t I have the natural, raw talent that they do? Why can’t I tap into the reality that brings my story across to the people behind the table? Why can’t I do it?!?!?!
What has separated me from those talent-oozing people is that they perform for themselves, not for the people behind the desk. I need to create for myself. 
This realization came today from my dear, wonderfully talented and amazing roommate Jayson, whom I’ve done FINIAN’S RAINBOW and THE PRODUCERS with. I came home tonight in, as I’m going to call it, a “raging-deer in headlights” mode. So, to define that, I was stunned, freaking out, and not knowing where to turn, all the while venting my pains and anger. In that spouting madness, Jayson (about a third of the way through) pulled out a piece of paper. I didn’t know what he was doing, but I didn’t care, I was a raging deer! After about 20 minutes I guess, Jayson picks his head up from the paper and says, “You said the word ‘like’ 13 times in 60 seconds.” 
Now, Jayson has been on my back about over-using the word “like” for some time now. I have been really trying to stop, but it has been hard, especially when this raging deer violently prances out of me. So who knows what it was, whether it was tonight’s class or using “like” too many times, but I started balling. Like (Yes, I used that word. Sue me.) BALLING to the point of not being able to speak. 
Jayson of course came over and started apologizing, but it wasn’t his fault. I needed that release. I can’t remember the last time I cried that much. 
So now I was a crying, savagely bounding deer who was just spastic and didn’t know where to turn. I was freaking out that I couldn’t tap into that work that I had done for the song I was preparing for class. I was just that pretty boy singing with a pretty voice and nothing else to offer. I was unable to make a correct choice. I would never understand how to connect to a song ever again properly. Grrreeeaaaat.
Luckily, Jayson was there to talk through tonight’s class, and this is what he finally realized through my conundrum: I have been performing for others, not for myself. “You have to do it for yourself”, he said to me. “Have pride in what you are creating. Are you proud of the work you did in your performance after working with the teachers?”
Yes, I was. I was happy with the new backstory I created with Jimmy (one of my workshop teachers) and felt I really connected to it in my song; I found so much joy with that change. 
The only thing I was getting caught up on was that I didn’t get the response that I was hoping for, the words that said, “There you go Schuyler, see, you aren’t just a pretty boy who can sing. You have so much to offer and will be cast in so many shows because you have the talent to be always working.” 
That is EXACTLY what I NEVER need to be looking for to feel successful. 
When I start performing for others, all I do is fail to connect to myself, because I’m simply focused on them, not myself. My ego doesn’t need a good pat on the back with a, “You’re so great”; it just isn't necessary. Their (the people behind the table) approval of my joy is totally unrelated to my success in this field, on these stages, in these auditions.   
I am here to share my joy for performing. I love to perform, to create, to emote, to tap in. When I share that joy, I will get those jobs. Simple as that.  
I’m so lucky that my career is one that lets me do what I truly love. What I’m now seeing is that I need to remember that I love this, that the joy of performing, whether in an audition or on the Broadway stage, brings me pure happiness. As long as I can perform, I will be happy.  
So, does this mean I’ll stop working and just say, “I love doing this, and because of that I’ll be good.” Hell no. Part of what I love about performing is the background work that goes into these creations. Lord knows I’ll be working my tushie off for next week, our final week of our workshop. We’ve all been given a character to come in and sing for. I’ve been given Lucas from THE ADDAMS FAMILY and I couldn’t be happier. I really connect with him and know that I am the right type for this role. So, on Tuesday we will work on the sides and songs with our teachers, Jimmy Smagula and Benton Whitley, and on Thursday we will come back in with those same scenes and perform them in front of some members from the industry (casting directors, agents, etc.). It’s a wonderful opportunity to be seen by some major people in the industry, AKA the people who help people like us get jobs. 
Obviously there are nerves, but that’s what my preparatory work will quell, along with my newfound re-realization of how much I love to create and perform.

P.S. As I was writing this, of course I got a text from Jimmy that said this: "You did great tonight!!... I felt like you really let go on the last pass and it was awesome." That made me SO happy, BUT it's not what I need to feel successful though, as I have learned. :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dancin' Again!

I took my first dance class since a year year ago tonight. 
It was amazing.
I had forgotten how much I love dance classes: stretching, sweating, strengthening, and picking up choreography. My good friend Sally Swallow, whom I went to Middlebury with (she was our Sally Bowles in our version of CABARET up there) suggested that we go and take class together then have dinner after to catch up. I am so grateful that she suggested getting back into the studio; I always get nervous going back, knowing that I’ll be out of shape, stiff, and rusty on picking up the steps. 
But this was different somehow.
We were taking the Intermediate/Advanced Musical Theatre Dance class at Broadway Dance Center. Tonight we had a sub, Michael Mindlin, and he was superb! Be sure to check out his BDC faculty bio to know when he is teaching. So talented and grounded in his art.

Our warm-up was definitely a workout, but also so fluid and relaxed, allowing me to center myself and really let my muscles warm-up properly as they came out of hibernation for their solid stretching session. Then we got to learn a routine for the second hour: a Fosse inspired piece to “Don’t Rain On My Parade”. It was subtle yet so powerful in its direction changes, intricate turns, head pops, and arm extensions. Dance heaven.
I was really nervous when it came to do the full combo in our small group of guys, wondering if I would remember the steps with all the other dancers watching along with the instructor (whose dancing was quite literally effortless... pure beauty.). What I told myself though before those first hip hits began the combination was, “Have fun Schuyler. Just have fun.”
Did I get all of it perfectly. No way. But I got a lot more than I ever thought I would with my dusty technique. And more importantly, I had an absolute blast. My goal in the future is to feel confident enough to step up to the front line and perform there without the safety of the other better dancers in front to jog my memory when I go blank. All in good time... 
So, Sally and I now have a weekly date: Mondays, 4-6, BDC, Int./Adv. Musical Theatre Dance. Screw a gym membership; time to get my BDC dance card and get back into class. I had the time of my life tonight PLUS got in shape! What’s better than that? 

If you’re in the area and want to come, dance, and have a smile imprinted on your face, come on down with Sally and I. We all will have a grand old time yessir! We’ll have a grand old time!