Friday, February 17, 2012

This is all so new to me...

Two weeks and then we open folks! Here's what's up:

On Tuesday we had photo call, where we got to see pretty much what we're all gonna look like. I must say, ya'll look amazing. Teardrops...damn, ladies. Amy, our costumer, brought a wig for me to try, and the second I put that thing on...I FOUND ALLISON! Finally! The Tuesday run through was a good warm up, but last night I felt like so many things suddenly clicked. Scott even told me he really liked where I went with her last night. And I'm finally having fun with the role and just living in every single moment. Took me awhile, but I think I've got it...

As I've been struggling to figure out what my deal is and why I was having a hard time connecting to the character, I suddenly realized that in high school, I strongly disliked girls like Allison. Pretty, popular, got whatever and whoever they wanted, sickeningly sweet, perky, peppy, the list goes on...but now that I've really started to dig in, I really like her! It's actually fun being that optimistic and full of life. At first I thought of Allison as sort of a boring ingenue, but she's so not! She's so much more than a rule-follower. She's gutsy and adventurous and terribly excited by the world around her, which is really fun now that I'm living in the moments. I know something as simple as a costume piece shouldn't make that much difference, but it really did. Now, I don't feel like Allison without that hair. That long, pretty, teenage dream girl hair that I will never's like CB with his leather jacket and Pepper with her pregnant just doesn't seem right without those elements. A few of my cast mates have even mentioned that once I really got the "look" of Allison, it's weird seeing me with my real hair again. Yay for breakthroughs!

And now, for the moment that everyone's been waiting for...the baton.

That fucking baton.

I got it for the first time last night and I have two weeks to learn how to use it. For some reason, people assumed that it was something I'd already had experience with, but that could not be further from the truth. I have no idea what I'm doing. And what really sucks is that somehow, almost every person in the cast has either been a drummer or in drum corps, or some crazy shit like that and they're all great at the baton. What the hell? They each just picked it up and started doing tricks and were just generally awesome at it. Even Zak. WHAT THE HELL?! I suppose at least I'll have lots of people who can help me with it when they're not busy laughing at how much I suck at it.

Now, I know that Allison isn't supposed to be freakin great at it. In fact, in the scene where she really uses it, she's supposed to be less than enthused about it. So I figure, a few figure 8's should cover it, right? The problem is, that whole, me being a perfectionist thing, and the fact that I don't do anything half-assed. If I have to twirl a baton, I want to rock at it. The other problem is that I'm left handed, but my right hand is really the dominant one and I'm not sure which hand to use. I'm probably equally bad at it in both hands. Between last night and this morning I've already become engrossed in watching videos about it, and they all use their right hand so I guess that's what I'll do. The knuckle on my index finger is now purple and a little swollen, but we must suffer for our art, mustn't we? I will get you, baton, make no mistake about that. Although, it really would have been easier if Allison was a tap dancer...

I also feel like now that I'm out of my head and into the material, I'm really connecting to my fellow actors on a whole different level, which is a great feeling. Sorry it took me so long folks...I feel like we are in such a great place right now, and we still have plenty of time. I can't wait to see where we go from here.

Until next time...


Monday, February 13, 2012

And now for something completely different...

Okay, I feel like I've been a little...negative lately, so now that's it bright and early and I'm awake, I'm going to quickly focus on the things I love about my character and the show...

1. I love that Allison is adventurous. She fights to win "the boy" which is something I never would have done in high school. That's pretty badass of her.
2. I love that she speaks her mind. Again, not something I do a lot, but should do more of...
3. I love that she giggles (or she will, when I remember to do it). That to me is a sign that she's really living in and enjoying each moment and new adventure.
4. I love that her favorite color is pink.
5. I love that she twirls a baton, because, who does that? Although, since I don't have the baton yet, I've been having a great time miming guys know what I'm talking about. Maybe I can find a way to incorporate both...
6. I love that she's not afraid of anything or anyone.
7. I love that she's also a little bit dorky, like myself.
8. I WOULD love it if she had a lateral lisp...but alas, I've never been allowed to use that for a character...maybe in the next show.
9. I love that she sees the best in people, even Baldwin.
10. I love that she is really proud of kicking a cop in the nuts.

We got to move into the theater a little early this time around, and I love this space! It definitely presents some challenges, but I've been doing shows here since high school when it was still CBC, so it's pretty special. I have a lot of memories in this place, so I'm really glad that New Line uses it. I've also seen the model of the set, and it's really fun and colorful. I can't wait until it's finished!

As I've said before, the choreography is awesome, and I think as time goes by we're all getting more and more out of our heads and starting to just have fun with it. Tonight we'll be reviewing and cleaning all of it, which is one of my favorite rehearsals because I love working with Robin!

The first run through we did in the space for me was...interesting, but I think overall pretty good. Tomorrow we start running again. I think after a week, we've all had more time for it to soak in, so I'm really anxious to start those runs. Once we do, so much more will fall into place and it will really start to feel natural. I can't wait for that...

Until next time...


Sunday, February 12, 2012

I just hope I can fit you think I have what it takes?

I really don't even know where to begin on this one...

I guess I should start with the fact that at this point in the game, I still don't quite feel comfortable in my own skin (well, Allison's skin, actually...) It has NEVER taken me this long to feel at ease with a character. Which makes me wonder, what the hell am I doing wrong?

Scott mentioned in his blog this week that in many ways, I am essentially playing myself in a world full of characters with very big, exaggerated personalities, which is why I am having a hard time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to sound whiny and ungrateful here. I wanted Allison, and I'm glad I got the role. She just isn't quite what I expected...

Scott keeps telling me I'm on the right track and going good work, so I think what I need to do is just trust that. Easier said than done though. I look around at all these amazing character actors that I share the stage with and I wonder if I fit in and if I'm doing enough. That's so me, though. I'm still in my head right now, wondering if I'm loud enough, or funny enough, or bubbly enough. But as long as it's honest and genuine, who cares, right?

I'm also quite the perfectionist, which can be both good and bad. I get pissed at myself for missing lines and blocking that I should know by now. Plus, at this point in the game, I'm usually really good at blocking out all of the distracting but hilarious things that my cast mates are doing. It's mostly Zak and Dowdy, but that's what they do and I wouldn't have it any other way. I wish I could be equally as clever and witty. However, I find that I'm breaking all over the place. I can't seem to keep my focus. I don't think I've made it through "Girl Can I Kiss You" or "Nobody Gets Me" once without screwing those scenes up. I've got to get my shit together.

Another aspect that I think will help is when I get all of the "elements" of Allison together. The wig, the clothes, the shoes...I think those details will definitely help me shape her better. It's hard to feel sweet, innocent and giggly when I'm standing around in black converse and jeans. I know that I should be able to dig into character without those things, but to me, little ballet flats and a pink 50's dress can make all the difference. Even when I tried on pieces of my costumes, I immediately felt different because I looked so different. And I think the look of Allison will help me step further away from playing myself.

Ok, enough with the bitching, I'm still having a wonderful time. I love these people, they're like my family, and even when I fuck up, they're still supportive. I'm really proud of this cast, they're all freaking amazing. Sometimes I find myself enjoying what they're doing so much that I forget I have lines too. The other great thing about this process is that no matter how crappy I might feel about what I'm doing, it's still New Line and it's still my second home, essentially. I still feel like I have the most freedom of creative expression here than I do anywhere else. And speaking of anywhere else...

Over the past few weeks, I've gone on a few auditions that didn't go as well as I'd planned. Basically, I didn't fit into the mold they were looking for and they asked me to change some things about myself. At first I was super down about it, thinking that I had to try to change things around in order to "be accepted," if you will. But then it finally hit me: the hell with those people. I don't fit the mold, and I'm proud of that. I DO have what it takes, just not in the cookie cutter way. It's time to stop trying to be what I'm not, and just accept the talent I have and the way that I am and run with it. Wow, that was incredibly optimistic of me...and if you know me, that's rare...

One of my favorite things about the process right now is how much fun we're having together, both in rehearsal and outside of it. Another cast trip to Jon Donut is in order very soon!

Until next time...


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Somebody Gets Me

If you haven't read Scott's latest blog about the letters of support for New Line, go check it out and then come back to this.

I was talking with a friend recently about what I've been doing the past few years and about the current show I'm working on with New Line. He seemed really intrigued and said how he'd like to work at a place like that. Somewhere where the integrity of the art is really the most important element, not the glitz and glamour. A place where storytelling is more important than a huge budget. I had to agree, that is pretty nice. Unfortunately for him, he can't because he's equity...

The problem is, places like New Line are few and far between. Because they do things that most other companies won't touch, they don't always get as much funding as other places, and therefore can't pay as much. As I've said in previous posts though, we don't do New Line for the money, we do it for the art. Before I started doing shows with Scott, I was considered by most people (including myself) as only a dancer. I'm a 5'7 brunette who can kick high, and that unfortunately makes me replaceable. I thought of myself as a chorus girl, and there are a lot of other girls out there who look just like me who can do what I do. And I got pretty sick of that notion. I was just so sick and tired of being pigeonholed into this one type. I knew that there was way more to me than just smiling and dancing in the back, but no one would take me seriously and for some reason I couldn't get anyone who had any power or position to notice me.

Things really changed for me once I started at New Line again though. I was actually being challenged as an actor, and I loved it. It was terrifying at first, because I felt like I had no clue what I was doing. But it was also new and fresh and exciting, and I felt like I was actually growing as an artist for the first time in a long time. I finally felt like people understood me and really saw what I was capable of. People will say that they feel like a family, but that's really how it is at New Line. I feel like people actually get me. Scott, as well as my fellow actors, pushed me to places that I had never been before and it was really liberating. Also, I had never worked anywhere where reviews took notice of me (because they don't usually mention the tall one 2nd from the end) and I was terrified about actually being critiqued for the first time. I know people say not to take them too personally, but I felt like I was up to bat and I could either hit my first home run, or strike out. Three years later, I guess I'm doing just fine.

Now that I've had a taste of the kinds of characters I can play and what I'm capable of, I don't really want to go back to doing what I used to do. I don't want to be a chorus girl anymore (not that there's anything wrong with that at all) it's just that I sort of live for a challenge now. I also feel like this is the place where I can explore and make mistakes as an actor and I'm not being judged.

I always talk to my students about being fearless and taking risks, even at the risk of "looking stupid." Sometimes it's hard for me to take my own advice though. Lately in rehearsal I've been asking myself "what the hell am I supposed to be doing at this moment?" And of course, whenever I can't figure that out or I'm too chicken shit to just try something on my own, Scott is always there with advice and suggestions and a push in the right direction. It's also nice because he will never tell me what to do or how exactly to deliver dialogue, just the logical reasoning behind why my character is doing or saying what she is.

Moving right along...

I'm sad to say we've lost Joel due to injury, and we'll miss him!

I really like this cast. As I said before, I feel like these people actually get me and I don't have to fight to feel like I belong. We have a lot of fun. I'm creating, and they're all creating, and it's a great process. Sometimes though, I still feel intimidated by all of the talent in the room....there is seriously a lot.

This coming week we finish blocking the show! Maybe by then I will have my shit together...but I'm not making any promises.

Until next time...


Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm a Good Girl...

So, I'm a little late to the Cry-Baby blogs, but I thought I'd join in anyway!

For those who don't know me, I came back to doing New Line shows in 2009 and was hooked. I teach dance, voice and piano to support my artstic habits. The Newliners call me Trailer, and you can too...

A quick recap of what has happened so far:

1. We learned all of the music, which is surprisingly a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. Lots of picking notes out of the air, very tight harmony, etc. But it's awesome and I love singing it.
2. We had our read through/sing through. I hate these. I know they're necessary, but I always feel super uncomfortable and awkward...but maybe that's just me.
3. We had a few choreography rehearsals with Robin and the numbers are really fun. I've been working with Robin since I was 9 or 10, and her work is always outstanding. Fun, energetic, and always very fitting to the show and style. The guys did an amazing job on "A Little Upset." I'm actually a little jealous I can't be in that one...

I'm also really excited about this cast. I'm working with friends, but also a lot of amazing new people. I feel like everyone is already meshing really well. Ryan, our Cry-Baby, is one of the newbies, but he fits right in at New Line, and he couldn't be more perfect for CB. He's got an awesome rocker voice and his delivery I think is spot on. Those who love the movie will probably be expecting a lot, and he won't disappoint.

Marcy, Chrissy and Sarah are great as The Teardrops. They have already totally embraced their characters, and their blend is awesome. Ari Scott is also perfect as Dupree, CB's best friend. I first saw him as Seaweed in "Hairspray" at WashU, and I was super impressed. His voice is as smooth as butter and he's got great moves too...the audience will love him. Terri as Lenora is of course going to bring down the house on "Screw Loose." Although, I will miss her mustache and Elvis wig. Zak and Dowdy, New Line staples, are as hilarious as always. Sometimes it's difficult to not break in rehearsal with the two of them around.

This week we started blocking the first act. We block very quickly at New Line, but the nice thing is that because of this, we have a chance to do a lot of runs, which I think is a nice pay off. I tend to memorize very quickly, but then I get nervous and decide to keep the book in my hand, which gets in the way of a lot of the physical stuff, which in turn makes me frustrated and then I think that I'm not doing a good job...again, maybe that's just me. I know once I'm confident on the material I'll be fine.

I think what I'm struggling with right now is the style. Scott talks a lot about the "musical comedy" style, and I just don't think I'm good at it yet. I realize that I've never really had much practice at this particular style. I know it's sort of "larger than life" but at the same time, it has to be real and come from a place of honesty. Sometimes we are asked to do things that might not make much sense or might not feel quite right. But, that's the style. It's also set in 1954, which plays a huge role in the style. As Scott says, it's a fine line for an actor. A fine line indeed. I'm pretty sure right now I'm wobbling all over that line...

Also, I'm not sure how I feel about my character at this point. She's pretty, she's popular, and she's well-off so she pretty much gets whatever she wants. She's a good girl. In fact, she actually states that at one point. She's genuinely a nice person who wants to do the right thing. She's proper because that's what she's been told is acceptable. She's a rule follower, but she has this feeling deep down that she wants something more. She's doesn't really want to marry the nice square boy, but she doesn't know anything different until she meets CB, who lights a fire in her. Of course she falls for him and realizes that she has a "bad side" but I think underneath she's still a "good girl,"

I think my problem right now is that I haven't had to play the sweet, innocent type in quite some time. Years ago, I was playing the typical ingenue. Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Carrie in Carousel, etc. But in the past few years with New Line I have played wildly different characters. My first show back with New Line was in 2009 with Love Kills. I played a 14 year spree murderer who was extremely damaged. But she was also very angry, tough and frightening at times. She was in love with a 19 year old sociopath, and their love was quite volatile. Even though that show was an emotional roller coaster, it is one of my favorite roles I've ever played. Then I played Eva Peron in Evita. You can scroll down to my Evita blog for that very lengthy character analysis if you wish. Last year I played Sylvia in "Two Gentlemen of Verona." Man was she fun. She was sassy and fierce and quite demanding. She was a girl who knew how to get what she wanted and she went for it. Strong, independent and feisty.

Allison is...nothing like any of those. I still haven't quite figured her out. I just haven't had to dig into that "good girl" thing in forever, and I'm having a hard time. I usually find the sweet and innocent roles to be a bit boring, and I guess that's my challenge. Allison is not a boring person at all, she just needs some help in finding herself. She can't be boring, otherwise CB would never go for her. So, how does one portray sweet and innocent, but not boring? I'll work on it...

Another issue is that I'm naturally kind of a quiet person. Coincidentally, the first New Line show I did I played a girl named Shy. I really need to get away from that! I have to get comfortable enough in my own skin to let go. It hasn't happened yet, but I trust what we're doing and I'll get it eventually.

Okay, that was a lot of information...sorry. This is going to be a great show and I'm very grateful to be a part of it. Until next time...


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Two More Days

I don't have anything new and profound to add today, just my thoughts as they ramble around. The band sounds great, and I'm really happy to have them. We've had 2 rehearsals so far with the band and I think it's going pretty smoothly. Still a few kinks to work out, but I know it will be solid after tonight.

We open in 2 days, and I think after these next 2 evenings of rehearsal that I will be more than ready. More often than not, actors get to a place where they are ready for an audience, they need the audience to fulfill the last chapter of the process, and I think we've all reached that point. We're ready for the crowd.

I always joke with my friends about making sure not to suck on the night that they attend the show, but it's really true. I want to give my best for every audience. Sometimes when I have family or friends in the audience and I don't feel that I've done my best, I can't help but feel a little disappointed in myself. Actors are always told not to let the performance get stale. As actors, we have to find ways of keeping the material as fresh and exciting as it is on opening night throughout the whole run. After all, it's a different audience every performance and every audience deserves our very best. That's why I generally encourage people (if they can) to come to the show on opening weekend and then again towards the end. For me, even though I've done so much preparation and work and rehearsal, I still tend to grow and go further with every performance. I bet that I'm not the only person like that either. Having an audience thrills me and drives me even further in my performance of a role. That's why I think each show is slightly different, and I like showing people how I've grown throughout the run.

I know that I'm not supposed to think about this, but I am definitely thinking about reviews. I don't hate reviews, they just make me nervous. Everyone always says not to read reviews or not to take them too personally if they're aren't so positive. But that is way easier said than done. I guess I should just realize that some people will love the show and others will not, and that's ok. Some people will think I performed well and others may not, and that's ok too. You can't always please everyone.

I'm really proud of this show and very grateful to have been given the opportunity to play Eva. Every member of the cast is 100% invested and I think that sort of dedication and fearlessness of the material has really paid off.

Until next time!


Friday, July 2, 2010

It's Almost Here...

Well, tomorrow we start the tech process. Cue to cue is Saturday and then the band arrives on Sunday. This is usually the most stressful part of the process because this is where we add elements we've never had before. New sound, costumes, props, etc. Even though there's a lot going on, it's my favorite part of the rehearsal process. Sometimes when a particular part or moment hasn't quite come together yet, all you need is a costume and an electric guitar wailing in background to make it all suddenly come together.

I'm almost finished reading Eva's biography. If Evita (the show, or the person) was ever of any interest to anyone reading this, I strongly recommend reading the book. It's a fast read, so don't worry. When I was younger (and perhaps either more naive or less attentive to detail,) I never worried too much about background research. With this show though, I've really had a great time diving into the real life of Eva Peron and the time period in which it all took place. Right now, we're all trying to get that Argentinian vibe going. Even though we're not using accents, Scott is emphasizing how important it is that we understand and perform the material from the correct cultural perspective. We've not American or British or Canadian, we are Argentinian. I've never been outside the country (lame, I know) but I've heard people talk about culture shock. Since I've never experienced it, I can't say how it feels, but I'd love to be able to find out someday. It amazes me how quickly some people dismiss cultural differences as either "bad" or "weird." In some countries, men are much more open about their emotions, even in public. Here, when a man cries in public he's automatically labeled as a pansy. In some cultures, both genders display their emotions much more publicly and passionately than in other countries. And what's so wrong with that? We don't want to approach this from an American viewpoint, we want to approach it from an Argentinian viewpoint. I hope we can convey that to the fullest extent.

I was going over lyrics last week and I suddenly had a thought about one line in particular. In the Lament, Evita says:

"I could burn with the splendor of the brightest fire, or else, or else I could choose time."

What she is basically saying here is that she could have had a "normal" life. She could have gone off to Paraguay with Peron and lived simply and happily with the man she loved for the rest of her days. Maybe it wouldn't have been as glamorous. There would have been no parties, no rallies, no crowds of people screaming her name, no power. Still, it might have been nice. Instead, she chose a much more difficult path. She chose to fight for Peron, for power, for the politics. Through her work as first lady, she literally worked herself to death. In the book it talks about 16+ hour days she would work, dedicating her life to the working class, her people. She traveled Europe without rest to spread the word of Peron and of the glory of Argentina. As previously discussed, some of her practices as she climbed the ladder weren't always the nicest, but she really was proud of her country and of her people. She wanted the world to know of Argentine glory. This kind of work is really what killed her. Well, that and the cancer. But Evita didn't even know what she had that made her so ill. But the years of working herself to the bone made her body incredibly weak and frail. Even though her life was cut short, she did indeed burn with the splendor of the brightest fire. And this is where that thought comes in...

At the end of Pippin, Pippin is faced with this exact same choice.

Let me back up for a moment for anyone not super familiar with the show Pippin. Pippin (the character) basically tells the audience at the beginning of the show that he is an extraordinary human being who is meant to do extraordinary things. The Leading Player sets him up on various adventures so he can do extraordinary things and find happiness. However, nothing ends up working out. Nothing works out for Pippin until he falls in love. After all of his various quests, Pippin discovers that even though there is nothing extraordinary about it, a simple life on a farm with a family is what makes him the happiest. In the end, Pippin is faced with a choice by the Leading Player and the rest of the ensemble. He could choose "time," meaning living the rest of his days relatively simply, but happy with Katherine and Theo. Or, he could literally burn like the sun in one last blaze of glory. The Leading Player explains to Pippin that it was all leading up to this one moment, the Grand Finale. He tells Pippin that he can step up onto the platform and they'll light him on fire and he'll go out with the biggest bang of all, shining like the sun. (He also explains that he obviously wouldn't be returning after such a stunt.) Despite the intense peer pressure, Pippin decides that he doesn't want to burn up in a blaze of glory like the sun, he wants time. Time, again, meaning a long, quiet, simple life with his family. No glamour, no glory, just time. Pippin wanted to do extraordinary things, but didn't. Eva Peron was thrust into the spotlight at a young age and became almost a like goddess to the people of Argentina. Pippin chose time, and lived. Eva didn't.

Obviously, Pippin is a made up character, and Eva Peron really did have cancer. But one has to wonder, if her body hadn't been so weak, could she have survived? If she had taken time off or not been so beaten down, could she have lived even a little bit longer? No one really knows...

My main focus right now is to continue to dig deep and find the right balance for Eva. I want the audience to relate to her and to understand why the people loved her. Today, I look at some celebrities and wonder why the world is so fascinated by them. I want to make sure that no one wonders that about Eva.

Well, I suppose I've rambled long enough. Until next time!