Saturday, October 29, 2011


It was sort of a strange thing today.  I went to see a stage performance ("Crazy for You" at Plaza Theatre) and did not yabber on endlessly on the way home about how I wish I could do theatre again. Instead I was thinking "This is a really fabulous show, and in less than three weeks, that's gonna be me on stage! Ohmygoshthat'snotalotoftime!"

I sat by the Crazy for You director's mom, who's 80+ but was still proud as punch.  "That's my son!" she told me, pointing to his name in the playbill.  A neat lady, who definitely plans to come see Annie.  Will have to keep an eye out for her.  Her baby boy (Jay Lewis) will be playing Daddy Warbucks in my cast of Annie, and Mr. Bundles/Hull/Drake on the other cast.  I think her [really very subtle] perfume might be what triggered my allergies, though.

Had costume fittings today, and I left there rather excited because two of my four costumes were really wonderful: an evening gown for the NYC scene that fit almost just right, was long enough and not too chesty; and a suit for the cabinet scene that wasn't actually very Perkinsy, but was very cute and made me look like I have some curves. (The other two costumes are intended to be understated and bland: homeless person and housekeeper.) However, after the CFY performance, Tina, one of our producers and the costume goddess, regretfully informed me that she needed to reassign my two 'pretty' costumes to one of the actresses playing Grace.  Since Grace needs to be in them longer, and is, you know, a principal character, I will be content with a slightly less wonderful evening gown that's on the snug side and is only calf-length on me (I'll be in it for five whole minutes with a fur coat over) and a much more Perkinsy suit.  I am excited to be wearing a costume at all! Woot!

My project this week (besides processing photos) is sewing bloomers for orphans for under Christmas dresses.  And doing the fit alterations for my Mrs. Greer uniform.

It's coming together! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The story of Mrs. Greer

Our Annie director, Taffy Geisel, encouraged us to find out WHO our characters are.  Frances Perkins is a little easier because she was a real person.  From written histories and photos of her, you can get a feel for who she was.  Mrs. Greer, however, is perhaps more difficult.  She's the head housekeeper in the employ of a billionaire in the midst of an economic depression.  Who is she?

So, being a fiction writer accustomed to finding and fleshing out characters, this actually kept me awake last night. Thinking about Mrs. Greer.  What's her first name?  She's a Mrs, so what's the story with the Mr.? How did she come to work for Warbucks?  Where is she from?  What made her who she is now, a woman clearly capable of managing the household of a billionaire?  This is what I found:

Adele MacKay Greer in 1933

Of Scottish descent, originally from Dunmore, PA, near Scranton.   She has seen much tragedy, but has kept her chin up and become a better person for it.

Widowed 17 years ago; husband Edward was killed in a railroad accident where they lived in western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh.  She was left with two young boys, Sylvester, 3, and Alexander, four months. Alexander was very sickly (what we would now know is a heart defect).  Broken and homeless, Adele returned to her parents' home with her boys, took work as a housekeeper for the much-aged-but-rich Mr. and Mrs. Earl and Caroline Fairchild.  Wages paid doctors who really couldn’t do much for her son.  Even the Fairchilds' own doctor couldn't help.  Alexander died before he was 18 months old.

Adele is perhaps a little OCD in her household duties, but it serves her well. After three years in their employ, Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild decided to move to Yonkers to be near their children in their advanced years. They invited/insisted Adele accompany them, which she did reluctantly, leaving Sylvester in the care of her parents.  By that time Sylvester was nearly seven years old and proving to be a big help in his grandfather's repair shop.  Within a year in NY, however, it became apparent that Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild needed more care than what Adele could provide, as their mental capabilities deteriorated markedly with the change of environment.  The Fairchild children, themselves in their 50's, decided to put their parents in a full-time care facility.  Belinda Fairchild Hurst then recommended Adele to a friend of her own housekeeper, Mrs. Rumsford, who was at that time head housekeeper of the Oliver Warbucks household.  Adele struggled with the decision on whether or not to return home to her son and parents, or stay in NY to earn enough money to support them.  Coal mining was the largest industry in NE Pennsylvania, and she didn't want her father or son to have to take mining jobs as the economy declined.  So she elected to stay on in NY, started as a laundry maid and worked her way up over the span of the next eight years, and took over as head housekeeper when Mrs. Rumsford retired four years ago at age 83.

Over the years, Sylvester came to visit at least every other month and Adele took him to baseball games at least once per year. They are both avid Yankees fans, and have a tradition of listening to games on the radio when they aren't together, imagining that they're sitting beside each other in Yankee Stadium.  She wrote him letters at least once a week, almost always including a story she made up in installments.  When he was 12, he started adding to the story in return letters.

Sylvester is now 20 and has worked as a mechanic in Alfred Fairchild's personal garage in Yonkers for nearly two years, maintaining the Bentleys.  They see each other about once per month, still go to Yankees games and listen on the radio.  Adele continues to send nearly all of her wages home to her aging parents.  She is well-paid by Warbucks, and has few expenses, so she is able to support her parents quite well.  (She doesn't know it, but her father is putting most of the money away for safe keeping, because they don't need it.)  Mrs. MacKay has kept all the letters with her stories.

Adele is sharp, intelligent, well-mannered, perhaps necessarily a smidge on the stiff side (except at baseball games!).  She has a soft streak for her son; he's generally the only one who gets to see her fanciful side.  She has a firm grip on real life and its struggles.  She works hard, has earned a great deal of trust from her employers, and deserves every bit of it.  Even though she is well employed, she has been destitute and appreciates her job very much.

Favorite flower: wild daisies
Favorite beverage: unsweetened iced tea with lemon
Favorite color: Yankee blue
Favorite food: Frankfurter loaded with ketchup, onions, mustard, and relish
Favorite sport: Ha!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

How does that head voice work again?

So I thought this Annie thing was going to be quite a drive for me, to and from rehearsals and performances.  And it is.  35-40 minutes in moderate traffic is a long commute when you're accustomed to a five-minute drive. But some of these folks are driving from Arlington.  In order to get to 7pm rehearsals, they have to leave by 5:30-ish and fight through rush-hour traffic...  O.o

I won't complain about my measly 35-minute drive.

But this does speak to the fact that A) Plaza Theatre Company is pretty dang special, and B) community theatre in this area is pretty sparse.  That folks would drive 50+ miles as many as five times a week to be involved with an admittedly FABULOUS theatre company is amazing.

Anyway, last night was the first singing rehearsal.  Just learning the songs, being assigned particular notes in harmony splits, etc.  Even with not singing singing for 20-years (radio-singalong and karaoke don't count) I think I held my own.  Definitely need to work on my range, though.  I haven't used my 'head voice' since I was standing on the risers with Red Raider Chorale.

Looks like I'll be in the Friday cast, which means I'll do Friday performances and one of the Saturday performances (not sure which one or if it varies). My 'double', Terrie, will do Thursday performances and the other Saturday performances.  So if you're planning to come see me (*high five*) and want to buy tickets way ahead, Friday is your best bet...

Saturday, October 01, 2011

I think I'm gonna like it here

(That's a song from Annie, but still apropos)

I attended the first rehearsal this morning.  Oh thespians, how greatly I have missed thee.  It was wonderful to be around that many theater enthusiasts!  Mostly it was orientation: expectations, scheduling, costuming, policies, etc.  Some warm-up exercises, some improvisation, and a read-though of the script.  We were told that we cannot cut or color our hair, or get any new tattoos or piercings, without first consulting the director and producers.  She didn't say anything about adding to existing tattoos, so I think I can get away with adding water to the koi on my arm--it's hidden by short sleeves anyway >;-)  But adding turquoise to my blond chunk will have to wait.

Next rehearsal is Monday evening, and I'm eager to really dig in.  I'll have to miss this coming Wednesday and Saturday rehearsals because I will be photographing a wedding in another state, but after that I should be on hand for most rehearsals.

Also today:  Picked up a pair of very nice gray wool felt heels (3.5+ inches).  Might be able to wear them in the play, but even if not, I'm about 5'11" while wearing them.  Tall, lean, and fierce.  And I am embracing that fierceness lately.