Sunday, December 16, 2012

5:08 and I'm still sane

It was a little disconcerting this morning to realize that there was no place any of us had to be today. No rehearsals, no holiday parties. It was almost akin to that weird panic you get when the Internet is out. I may or may not be addicted to going and doing.

It's now nearly 5pm and I've not yet lost my mind, so it's all good, probably.  Laundry is going, kitchen is clean, bathrooms are clean-ish. Vacuumed, ate, emailed. So far a productive day, and I'm still in my jammies.

Norseman did get cast in Sound of Music, though there was a bit of hubbub surrounding that. He killed auditions, did fabulously. He nailed his song and the German accent, and received great feedback that night from the directors. He watched his phone like a hawk on the appointed call day and even the day after, but received no invitation to callbacks. He found out later that he was in fact called back, but for some reason never received the voicemail left by the stage manager. He also learned that only significant roles were called back, so he was more than a little bummed to have missed the opportunity to at least compete for a good role. Instead, he was cast in the male chorus, and will be a solid vocal contribution.

Cash on Delivery is shaping up to be a hilarious show, and I am giddy-thrilled to be a part of it. Now that I'm more familiar with the script, I have to say that even though the role of Brenda Dixon is the smallest, it's the most fun. If I'd known more about the play when I auditioned, I'd have asked specifically for this part.  Brenda is a special mess of crazy, and in my barely ten minutes on stage I get to run the gamut from annoyed, concerned, angry, hysterical, seething, worried, crushed, sad, devastated, tipsy, anguished, surprised, relieved, excited, and lovestruck. I got a 'Bravo!' from a castmate at yesterday's rehearsal. I love this role! And she's a far cry from Ethel McCormack.

A Christmas Carol is heading into its final week. Shows every night this week, closing on Saturday night. I'm already bummed that in one week it will be over, and I won't be playing with any of my Carol peeps any time in the near future. I miss 'em already. :-(

Soon we'll be attending the wedding of two of my Annie castmates (one of whom I bragged about here), which will undoubtedly be a reunion of many shows, as both have been busy Plaza actors for a while. I'm excited for them--they are adorable together.

I am so blessed to know the people and have the opportunities I do.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ready, set...

The Saturday shows were a little easier. I think most of us at least managed not to cry at all by the evening show. The Tiny Tim grave scene is the hardest.

One good thing: I snagged my script for Cash on Delivery at Granbury Theatre Company. Yep, that's a bit of news I've not found time to blog. I shared my dilemma, but not the outcome.

I did manage to scoot across the street that Saturday to audition for See How They Run. It went very well; I read for all three female parts and even the usually-male Sergeant. They had very few people audition, and I think I did as well as I could have, so I was encouraged.

Cash on Delivery auditions were changed to one-and-done (no callbacks) on that same Saturday. I'd arranged with Luke, the director, to audition for him before the matinee of Ragtime, but when he heard about the sparse Run auditions, I think he figured I'd be cast there, so we didn't take the time to read for Cash.

On Tuesday, one of the producers pulled me aside at Carol rehearsal and said they were very impressed with my Run audition, and really tried to figure out some creative casting options for me, but since the three female roles were all pretty big parts, my Carol performance schedule conflicting so much with rehearsal schedule was just an insurmountable obstacle. Which I totally understand. I' sort of forgotten... that we had four additional weekday performances... which would obviously necessitate my missing rehearsal.

The next day, I messaged Luke and let him know that if he needed people (he also had slim pickin's as far as auditioners) and could work with my schedule, I was available. He sent me some audition sides, I read for him before our Thursday performance of Ragtime. Then the following Sunday evening, he called to offer me the role of Brenda Dixon, the fiancee of one of the main characters who doesn't show up until half-way through Act II. Of course I accepted. Those rehearsals start next weekend for me.

I'm excited to add another theatre to my résumé, and this is a fun, small-but-juicy comedic role. Miss Dixon is the center of attention nearly every minute she's on stage.

Norseman will audition for The Sound of Music at Plaza on Tuesday, so between costuming Run, Cash rehearsals for me and possibly Music rehearsals for him, we may be running silly for a while.
What a blessing :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Every good parent has them, I think. Those worst-case-scenario dreams where you wake up sobbing, then have to get out of bed and go check on your sleeping babies to make sure they're still with you. Even when the babies are teenagers. Oh how I wish Mark and Debra could wake up, go check on him, and find him snoring peacefully.

Driving back from Oklahoma yesterday, we were still nearly 90 minutes from home when we received word that a family dear to us had lost one of its own. They were on their way to dress rehearsal for Casa Manana's Twas the Night Before Christmas when, out of the blue, 13-year-old Caleb's heart stopped beating during an apparent seizure (he had no history of seizures).

The rest of the day can be summed up in two words: Shock. Tears.

All three of us have shared the stage with Caleb. He was in Footloose, an animated, goofy part of the core dance crew, who delighted in the fact that he could sing the bass part in Mama Says. He and his brother were the boys Yente brings to Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. "They are wonderful boys, Golde, from good families. Each of them a prize, a jewel." He let me pretend to spit-smooth his hair and straighten his vest every show. He was silly and gracious, exuberant and nearly always grinning, and had a snappy, intelligent sense of humor far beyond his years. This pic is from closing day of Footloose.

Last night we opened A Christmas Carol. Nearly every person in the cast has worked with Caleb. It was probably the hardest show most of us have ever done.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Hug your babies every day, and live as though it's your last.

My prayers, my breaking heart, and my tears are with the Midkiff family today and months to come.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

A very cool dilemma when I think about it

It's only been a month since I last posted, yet I feel as though I've been neglecting this blog. It's not like many people read it--I guess I blog more for my own benefit.

Trying to think of non-theatre news, and have none, really. I've now worked long enough at my job to be able to take PTO time. Um... Norseman got his class shirt and is scheduled for yearbook pics... Sunshine got contacts.  Oh, and I realized it was daylight savings and set my clocks back this morning.

Yeah. That's about it.

Theatre news? Why yes! I do have theatre news.

Ragtime is simply amazing. (Stellar review here.)  (Another one here.) We only have two weekends left, which is kind of sad. It is SUCH a good show, and I imagine will receive multiple award nominations. It's THAT good. We have an equity actor in the cast, so the show will be considered in the Equity category for Column Awards, a first for Plaza.  After last night's show, a man shook my hand and said "You have such a beautiful voice." Which is kind of cool, since I'm a chorus member and have no solo songs. But I am usually the only alto around and sing loud to be heard in a sea of sopranos.

Sunshine's Footloose double, NM, is in A Christmas Carol. She had a double, but said double had to quit the show. So Sunshine agreed to take the role, and double with NM again.  Yes, despite being very mature and deciding against auditioning, she got sucked into the show anyway. :) Tech week for that show is Thanksgiving week, which the kids have off from school. And since I can now take PTO time, I'm already planning to work half days that week.

I mentioned that I'm costuming See How They Run, and that I might have to audition. Granbury Theatre Company is doing Cash on Delivery in the same time slot. Both shows are directed by men who were single-cast in Guys and Dolls at Plaza. I'd love to do both shows, but as I'm costuming Run and it's only 9 miles away, that would be my preference. However, Cash is a great show, too, and I would love to work with GTC. My original plan was to audition for Run on Monday night, and I'd at least know if I was called back before Cash auditions on Saturday. I thought I'd hit a snag when Run auditions were moved to Saturday, no appointment required, auditions and callbacks rolled into one. At the same time that I'm to be in Carol rehearsal. At the same time as Cash auditions.

But I messaged with the Run director, who agreed to let me audition after rehearsal if I couldn't slip away. Yay! Though I suspect he already has people (who are not me) in mind for roles. And I also talked to the Cash director, who invited me to crash callbacks next Tuesday! (!!) *blink* UmWhat? Can you repeat that?  Just come directly to callbacks? Me? *blink* Yep. So I'm really excited about that. Except that Carol rehearsals will be buckling down by then and I hate missing ANY rehearsal and I'm single cast and my absence would be an annoyance for everybody. But I'm not sure how I can pass this up. It's an honor, and speaks to the director's confidence in me. I need to take advantage of this opportunity.

I've consulted my Carol stage manager, and will talk to the director, too. If I'm cast in Run (hah!), it's a moot point. If not (probable), it's a dilemma.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Here we come a Caroling

It appears I have neglected to chronicle an audition/callback/casting! Seems I have a lot less blogging time between working full time and rehearsing Ragtime. And we get to add rehearsing A Christmas Carol to the hecticness... hecticosity... bedlam.

It was sort of a last minute thing--we were all on the fence about auditioning for A Christmas Carol. I had sort of decided against auditioning when Tina asked me to costume See How They Run. However, on the Monday evening of Monday/Tuesday auditions, we all talked it over. Sunshine very maturely and wisely decided that her grades might suffer if she were cast in consecutive shows, so she opted not to audition. Norseman and I... well... we found a backing track for Silent Night and auditioned with it the next evening. We were then called back, and cast! Norseman is Ensemble, I am Georgina/Ensemble. Sunshine has already volunteered to work backstage during performances, but will not have to attend rehearsals after Ragtime opens.

Yesterday we had Ragtime rehearsal in the morning, our first Carol rehearsal in the afternoon, then went to see Arsenic and Old Lace in the evening. In other words, it was kind of an awesome day.

Today was also a pretty awesome day, largely because I never had to get out of my jammies.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Costuming again

Woot! I'll have more to add to my 'Adventures in Costuming' saga! Plaza's Eminent Costumer asked me if I'd like to costume January's production of See How They Run! Of course I said yes! What is particularly exciting is that this is a period piece, set in the late 40's, one of my favorite eras. And now that I've been at Plaza for nearly a year and helped in the costuming of many other shows, I have a better feel for the job, and I have a little bit more lead time than I did with The Foreigner.

I'm re-reading the script this morning, making notes. Such a funny, funny script. I'm giggling and snorting as I read. I might even have to audition.

Excited. :) I love theatre.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Welcome mat mystery

Just a quick follow-up on my previous post. The welcome mat was in the yard when I got home from picking up Norseman at 10:20 last night. But... it was gone when I left for work this morning at 7:20. It was dark for eight of those nine hours. Flat scrollwork mat not highly visible in the grass. Only four people knew it was there (the three of us and Mr. UnNeighborly).


Thursday, September 06, 2012

True story of a day's demise...

I got off work early today, and had the pleasure of picking up the kids up from school. We encountered no traffic, got home before 4:20, and figured we'd have twenty minutes before we needed to head back out to go to Plaza. It was shaping up to be a great day!

Walking up the front walk, I see a brown pile on the black doormat. "Good Lord, what IS that?"

Why yes, it is poo. Poo #5. The next door neighbor's Yorkie leaves passive-aggressive presents for us. Still. Despite my asking her owners three times to either clean it up or keep her in their own yard.

Poo #1 was 8/22

Poo #3 was 8/29
So I was already grumbling as I unlocked the front door, and walked into my house to see...



Just.... Wow.

And the culprit?


As I surveyed the mess again, I noticed a few things.

--Staggering amount of slobber and snot on the window. Staggering. It was gross.

--Mountain of shredded blind slats behind the couch. Shredded slats all over the living room, under the couch behind the television stand.

--Stack of frames scattered across the living room, one of which has been broken, the glass in dozens of pieces.

--Dog hair ALL over the couch, which is off limits to dogs.


Something on the other side of that window (i.e. in the side yard) clearly had my border collie riled up. And being riled up, she got tangled in the blinds. And then she panicked.

My memory tickled, aided in part by the pile of poo still on my doormat, and I remembered that the #$%@ Yorkie was in my side yard as I left for work this morning, while her owner worked under his truck, completely oblivious.


I stopped by Lowe's and picked up another pair of blinds, cleaned up the inside mess and hung the new blinds. Totally did not want to deal with the poo, so I honestly just dragged the whole doormat to the driveway. It's a duplex, and by the time I got home, my doormat was in my side yard with remnants of poo still on it. That's where it rests still, and will stay until I get home from work tomorrow.

I'm at a loss. Passive aggressive Yorkie with un-neighborly owners. A bored border collie. I have not the energy to deal with this stuff after a long day at work. And who the heck photographs poo?!?

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Footloose pics

Siblings playing siblings. Love these guys.

Ren can't stand still. And he apparently gets his style from his mother. :D

Ethel. "Noticing my hands start to shake; contemplating taking up smoking..."

Ethel. "While my mind takes a small vacation. La la la, la la la..."

Vi, Ethel, and Ariel. "I'm becoming a mime..."

Ethel. "Ren, if I don't say something I'm going to burst!"

Ethel and Ren. "You didn't speak from your heart."

Finale (and one of my most favorite photos ever!)

Commence new normal

I have Footloose pictures to share, so I thought I'd post an update, too.  Will put the pics in a separate post, though.

School started this past Monday, as did Plaza Academy, and as expected it was a crazy week. It'll take a few more weeks for us to get into the groove of the new schedule, but we're getting there. Finding time for homework is going to be a challenge, especially for the AP and Pre-AP classes both kiddos are taking.

It was also my first full week on the job. I did have two mornings of training (I'm now CPR certified), but spent the rest of the week doing my real job. And had a fairly productive week! I do like my job, and I think I'll be good at it. I plan to front-load my week so I can take off early on Thursdays--our craziest day.

And as though we didn't have enough going on, Ragtime rehearsals started this week! What a wonderful cast!  Only music rehearsals thus far, but holy nugget we sound amazing. I'm excited because I get to be a hoity-toity resident of New Rochelle. Which means I get to wear a hat. And not just any hat. A fabulously over the top turn of the century ladies' hat. Such as those I was so envious of and didn't get to wear in Millionaire.

It's good to be busy, though I think the dogs would prefer us to be less so. The border collie is having some issues with me working all day and then us going to class and/or rehearsal. Need to find her some better toys and chew-things.

Next weekend is the last weekend of Forever Plaid, so we'll have a few weekends of no shows before Ragtime opens. We'll see Arsenic and Old Lace a few times, of course. And we'll have to continue our Fab Friday ritual of getting small ice cream cones at Braums, which started opening weekend after the Friday show. Five Fridays so far, dozens of flavors from which to choose, but each week it's been a frozen yogurt twist, a peppermint scoop, and a caramel apple scoop. We don't stray too far from our favorite things. :)

Also in the pipes: It was nearly a year ago that Mom handed me that stack of papers she'd printed from the Plaza website, and we plan to celebrate with a Woot Day Soirée in a couple of weeks. Woot! One year at Plaza!! It'll be after I get a paycheck, so we might even be able to have some real furniture in time for friends to sit on it!

That's it for now. Will post Footloose pics next.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ragtime family affair

Much to all of our surprise, we were all called and offered parts in Ragtime :) Norseman will be a newsboy, Sunshine a person of New Rochelle, and I will be Kathleen, the Irish maid. What did I say about my ease with accents? And I've already twice proven I can be a terrific maid. I'm very excited to be doing another show with both my kiddos.

I can't lie, though. I'm still disappointed. But ever since Annie callbacks, I've known without a shred of doubt there's a Higher Plan. I needed Plaza this past year more than I possibly could have known I would. And thus far, the hardest disappointment paved the way for the biggest blessing. Not getting Adelaide was brutal, but now I see that if I'd gotten Adelaide, I wouldn't have gotten Ethel. And it turns out that I really needed Ethel. So I will trust that Higher Plan, trust the producers and directors, and play the best danged Irish maid I can.

With my amazing kids by my side. Yes, this will be a great show.

Is 'Update' too boring a title?

Work. Still on the fence about this. My boss and coworkers are wonderful people, and I'm eager/anxious to become more familiar with my job and gain the confidence I need to do it effectively. This week I spent three days in training, learning Satori Alternatives to Managing Aggression (SAMA) and more standard stuff that every MHMRTC employee needs to know. Friday I was actually in the office for the first time. And somehow Friday was much more exhausting than the three days of often very physically challenging SAMA. Right now I'm still a little overwhelmed.

At least I was able to get the first few days out of the way without also having to worry about getting kids to school. But alas, school starts tomorrow. For the first time in my memory NO ONE is excited about it, not even Sunshine. At one time school was the center of their social universe, but they now have a much wider circle of friends. So we're all sort of stressing about this coming week.

Also this week: Classes start at Plaza Academy. Both kids are on scholarship as interns, and are taking Ballet for Teens AND Audition Prep. I'm excited for them! We couldn't afford classes this semester, so the intern scholarships are hugely appreciated.

Related news: We all auditioned for Ragtime, and were all very disappointed. Which happens in theatre. There is always stiff competition for roles, and in good theatres that's especially so. Plaza is a stellar theatre. Sunshine and Norseman sang beautifully at their auditions (it was Norseman's very first audition ever), and felt they did well on the cold read. Both were complimented on their voices, but neither was called back. I was crazy nervous as usual at the audition, but thought I did very well--better than usual. I was called back for 'various female roles', but didn't understand until I got there that that meant the female roles that were not Mother, Emma, or Evelyn. That I was deemed unworthy of a main role without being given the opportunity to read for it was... really tough. In this case it wasn't actually a surprise, per se, I didn't truly expect to get one of those parts, but I did think I'd be given the opportunity to at least read. Anyway, as a result of my trying not to cry/throw up/scream, I didn't do so wonderful on the stuff I WAS asked to read. Lots of other very talented ladies there did much much better and deserve the opportunity, and new/prodigal faces are never a bad thing, so I don't expect to get cast. Pretty much the only thing I have in my favor is my ease with accents.

Callbacks were yesterday, so the day started out on a rough note, but ended nicely! My sister and mom wanted to go see Forever Plaid, so I got us all tickets. Saturday night shows are always great, especially because that's the night more Plaza alum attend.  Got to see lots of former castmates and give/get lots of hugs. Which I really really needed yesterday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Internet access!

Buahahahahah! It's ALIIIIIIVVE! (The computer, I mean).

We were without Internet access for nearly a month! Okay, when I say 'without Internet access', I'm speaking of REAL internet. We had our phones, which I guess count--we could facebook and browse reddit and whatnot. But it sure is nice to be able to type with ALL my fingers on a full-size keyboard!

Update on the job: I went for my pre-employment testing yesterday. Had my very first breathalyzer test, on which I scored a .000. Shocker. She even gave me an escape clause... I'd been sitting in the waiting room for more than 35 minutes, but she asked if I'd used any cough syrup or mouthwash in the last 15 minutes. Um, no. I think hair gel/spray is the most alcohol I've been in contact with in the last six months. She laughed at me 'cause I was just a wee bit excited--I'd only ever seen breathalyzers on television! Now I have first-hand, hands-on experience!

I had to be able to lift 25 lbs with only my arms, measured with a spring gauge. I got to 72 lbs before she stopped me. Had to step up and down the stairs at a specified pace for three minutes. I don't even think my heart rate elevated. What is sad is that there are young, so-called 'able-bodied' people who would not be able to meet these requirements.

Got a TB skin test, which I have to go get checked tomorrow. Right now it looks like a teeny needle stick.

Also tomorrow! Going to see Urinetown at ICT in Irving. My friends Caroline (Annie and Fiddler) and Jerry (Foreigner and Fiddler) are in it. I'll be taking Sunshine, another theatre kid, and my Ethel double Heather with me! (Norseman will be Plaiding). Very excited!

And yeah, still apprehensive and a little melancholy, but I choose happy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kinda freaky

Just a smidgen freaked out. One month before my house sold, I had a dream, detailed in this post: Celebrity Dream Oddities. In that dream "Rod Stewart showed up at our house, except it wasn't THIS house, you know what I mean? He drove a little blue Mini Cooper."

A month after that post, almost to the day, I learned that we'd be moving to another house. Our new landlord, Mike, sort of resembles a manly, bald Rod Stewart. And, get this... HE DRIVES A LITTLE BLUE MINI COOPER.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Little did I know...

I've been without Internet access for a while, and so much has happened since I last blogged, that I'm a little bit at a loss where to start. In my last post I said life was calming down. Ha. HahahahahahahaHA!

Little did I know that my house had been sold in foreclosure that very morning (but I wouldn't find out for another week). I won't go into gory details, but suffice to say life was NOT anywhere near a calming-down point.  Within three weeks I found a new place for the three of us to live, picked up, and moved. So easy to type, but really a STRESSSFUUULLL thing to do.

Our saving grace throughout the whole ordeal was Footloose and our amazing castmates. The fact that all three of us had that escape, where we could take the stage together, become other people, struggle as our characters and triumph every single time... It was precious.  I had no idea when Footloose opened just how much closer to Ethel's life mine would become. I had no idea what stress she would see me through. I had no idea how much those 'I love you, Mom' hugs from JB, my terrific stage son, would mean.

So after Saturday's closing show, all day Sunday, and into Monday, I was a hot mess. The show, and our saving grace, has ended, even though life's craziness goes on. The people that we've grown so accustomed to seeing over the last twelve weeks are headed back to their regular lives, many to college in other cities. We miss them already. A lot.

And a new chapter of life begins for us, too. I've got a new job, with Tarrant County Mental Health and Mental Retardation services as an employment specialist. My official first day is August 21st, but I've got pre-employment appointments next week. I haven't worked full time for someone besides me in a very long time; I've never worked full time as a single parent. It's going to be a huge adjustment for all of us, and I'm honestly a little scared. (What? Stacey scared?)

Tonight I went to preview night of Forever Plaid at Plaza. We helped with the changeover on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Norseman was asked to Assistant Stage Manage... It is such a cute show. Not as high-energy as Footloose, but quite entertaining nonetheless. It was still sad for me, though. One week ago, I was Ethel on that stage. I'm not sure if it helped or not to know the eyes I painted for Footloose are still there, visible if you know to look for them, under the cheesy Fuselounge wall fringe.

I did have a hard time letting go of Annie, largely because it was my first show. But at the time, I was already cast as Yente and had something to jump directly into. Millionaire's close was sad because it was such a small tight-knit cast, but I had no emotional attachment to Emma (frankly she annoyed me), and I had Guys and Dolls immediately after. Footloose, though... *sigh* This one has been especially hard to let go of. Ethel was me, and I was Ethel. She wore my clothes, now I'm wearing hers. She struggled and nurtured and danced victorious. I'm struggling and nurturing, and I hope someday to dance victorious. And I have nothing to jump directly into. Ragtime auditions are the evening of my first day of work. I may get cast, I may not. Even if I do, Ragtime is a big heavy show like Fiddler, not high-spirited and fun.

Until work/Ragtime, we're getting settled into the new place. Unpacking, moving in, adjusting. Trying not to think too much about upcoming changes. Missing our stage family (Sunshine and JB would argue about whose mom I was. "She's MY mom." "No, she's MY mom.").

God never gives you more than you can handle. Right about now I'm clinging to that promise.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Life's calming down, really it is

Wow! It's Tuesday already!

Saturday's show was amazing! I thought I would be more nervous than I was, and I hope I haven't just jinxed myself by saying so. Regardless, I got LOTS of wonderful comments after the show, which honestly surprised me. While this is a featured role, it is by no means a starring role, and for the most part, casual theatre-goers don't much notice anyone but the main principals. Especially in a cast with SO MANY crazy talented people. Needless to say, I can hardly wait for Thursday.

Sunday morning, we hopped out of bed and into the car to drive to Altus, where we thoroughly enjoyed a few days of doing absolutely nothing. After two weeks of chaos, it was nice to not have to do anything at all. Finished up about 20 more hexagons for two different afghans, watched television, rented The Muppets. And spent time with David and Rosaleen!

This morning we drove home, got some groceries (the poor fridge was almost bare after two weeks of camp), and took paperwork to the theatre for Sunshine and Norseman to be considered as counselors for the younger kids' camp in a few weeks.

And tomorrow! We'll need to find some projects to keep us busy tomorrow while we await the arrival of my sister and her family!

It's gonna be a good week! <3

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Somebody's eyes...

My brain kicked on two hours early today, so I have time for a short update. The insomnia and teen-reminiscent acne are probably indicative of stress, but it's a good stress.

Tonight is the final rehearsal for Footloose, in which I get to play Ethel McCormack. Tomorrow night I get to sit home and think good thoughts for the other cast as they open the show. Then on Saturday evening I play for the first time!

Norseman and Sunshine have been attending Footloose camp during the day (and having a great time!), so I've been helping around the theatre however I can. Guys and Dolls closed Saturday, and Footloose opens tomorrow, so there's no shortage of stuff to do! I was super excited when one of the producer/directors asked if I could paint eyes. I said "Heck yeah!"  When I got there on Tuesday, he handed me some jars of black-light paint.  I painted one pair of huge feature eyes, then more than a dozen smaller, lower contrast eyes.

Last night I got to see them all under black light (during the song Somebody's Eyes) and it was a-may-zing (if I do say so myself!).  We agreed that the walls still seem... unfinished, so today I'll figure out how to add some texture without detracting from the spookiness of the eyes watching.  I'll also make some Bomont Police patches for the cop's uniform. And shorten the sleeves of the Ethels' Cubs shirts. And... a few dozen other things before camp is done. See? Good stress. But still stress.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Celebrity dream oddities

I jumped out of bed this morning with the intent of tackling yard work before it gets hot. Last week I left the back yard half mowed after using the last dribble of gasoline in the fuel can.  Since then I've filled up both the mower and the fuel can, and purchased a snazzy new weed eater.  I went with the $29 one instead of the $25 one, and I admit I'm a little eager to use it.

However, I looked at the grass as I let the dogs out and thought... you know it's not really that bad. I feel like writing today.

So I turned on the computer.

Which, ultimately, is a bad idea if I want to be any sort of productive today. I felt guilty about typing that last sentence, so dug out the heavy-duty extension cord and the hedge trimmer; set 'em by the front door.

So on another note, I wonder what random celebrities popping into dreams means? Earlier this week Rod Stewart showed up at our house, except it wasn't THIS house, you know what I mean? He drove a little blue Mini Cooper.  If you didn't look directly at him, you could tell it was Rod Stewart. But if you looked directly at him, it was tough to tell if he was a man or a woman for all the hair-teasing and face-lifting and lip-plumping. (Disclaimer: Apologies to Mr. Stewart. I have no idea if you have actually indulged in surgical 'maintenance', or why it was you in my dream and not, say, Barry Manilow or Dee Snyder. The dreaming brain is a... well... a dreaming brain.)

And in my dream last night a young Lenny Kravitz showed up to work at a copy shop I was in. I guess I worked there at one time because I was behind the counter at first, since I was the only one in the shop, customer or otherwise. Then Young Lenny arrives with a friend, and I tell him what I need-- a calendar of some sort.  I'm trying to be smooth and intelligent, so of course I can't find the specific paper I need in my notebook.

Very strange. I did see a Woody Harrelson movie about six months ago that had a Rod Steward impersonator in it. And Lenny. I guess I heard someone mention a few weeks ago that he's in a current movie--Hunger Games maybe? Curious what the subconscious mind does while in recharge mode.

Okay. I guess I'll go rouse some teenagers to help with yard work. We'll make it a par-tay. They'll love it.

**11:30 UPDATE: Before heading out to mow the back yard, I woke the teenagers and warned that if they didn't get up and help, I would make them feel guilty.  So by the time I came back in to sit in front of a fan, both kids were up and putting shoes on. Sunshine conquered low-hanging tree wispies and stubborn weeds, Norseman mowed the front yard, and I made good use of the new weed eater and old hedge trimmer. Gotta admit: a nicely edged sidewalk makes me smile.  We are now half-way through a well-earned one-hour break before jumping on other tasks, like handprints around light switches and nose prints on the storm doors.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I need a t-shirt that says I survived...

...the opening weekend of Guys and Dolls!  My double and I switched Friday and Saturday evenings, so I got to do both shows on Saturday. My choreography wasn't perfect, but it was close,  the best I've ever done it.  

Perhaps because this has been so much of a challenge that I've managed to conquer, this is shaping up to be one of my favorite roles, even though I have no real lines. The other Hot Boxers are a joy to work with, and I'm really having fun with this!  That feeling of triumph when I come off stage after having held my own during the dance numbers is quite nice!

Thought I'd share a few photos. The first two are courtesy my friend Michael Durington, who plays an amazing Benny Southstreet in this production. The third was taken by Hannah with my phone. (Have you noticed that the quality of phone camera pics gets steadily worse and worse the longer you have your phone?)

Me and Rachel Hunt, the two oldest Hot Boxers (she's older than me!). She, however, owns a dance studio, so can really shake it like she means it!

Rehearsing Bushel and a Peck. The original script calls us Farmerettes. Our version calls us Chickies. Thank goodness we're not called Peckers :)

The Hot Box Chickies, Friday PM and Saturday Matinee cast.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Moxiepants activate!

I love doing multiple shows with the same actors, because I have the opportunity to build a rapport with some really wonderful people. I'm amazed by how many theatre folks tend to be on the shy side. It seems counter-intuitive, I know. After the second or third show, you get to see some of the humor and silliness that lurks in these quieter actors. I love that!

I also love being able to work with new people.  By and large, theatre folks are just wonderfully kind, caring, humble people, and one can never have too many of those around.  There are about a dozen actors in Guys and Dolls with whom I've never before worked or shared the stage, so it's been very cool to rehearse with these folks, and I look forward to back stage time with most of them.  Two in particular stand out in my mind, though, for different reasons.

One seems to be disparaged by many other cast members, but I've found this person to be encouraging and helpful. Yes, sometimes a little annoying, but not overly so.

Another is beloved by most other cast members, but I've found this person to be... well... kind of a poop.  At last night's rehearsal, my respect for this person dropped significantly.

Regardless, I'm very excited for opening weekend!  My double is graduating on Saturday, so we switched Friday and Saturday nights, so I'm not playing opening night. But I'm okay with that.

Today is our last audience-less rehearsal, and my stress about stealing focus or losing my balance officially gets kicked to the curb. I've mastered enough of the choreography to not look totally inept, so today I embrace a dorky, saucy and sassy Hot Box Girl.

Moxiepants activate! (*grin*)

Monday, May 07, 2012

I think it's Emma's fault

Not sure what exactly sparked this epiphany. Perhaps it was my use in Real Life a hand movement I created for the character of Yente.  She didn't use a cane, but needed another identifiable 'tick' that the girls could mimic in 'Matchmaker.'

Fact: I honestly had no trouble with the choreography at Dolls callbacks in March.
Fact: I can't nail the choreography for my life now, in May, and it's SO frustrating!!
Question: What happened in the intervening weeks?
Answer: Emma.

At the time of my auditions, Fiddler had been over for more than a week, and The Happiest Millionaire had rehearsed just twice. There had not yet been any character development. I'd not even really begun to find Emma, to figure out how she fit into the family, what character traits she needed in order to stay reasonably sane in the Biddle household dealing with prize fighters and alligators and teenagers on a daily basis.  So it was ME at auditions, with minuscule blips of Yente.

Weeks later, after I'd gotten a good handle on Emma, I remember telling Taffy, our director, that it took me a long time after each rehearsal to unwind from being Emma. She's very high-strung, quite excitable, and even more dorky than I am.  I'm single cast, so now Emma MUST be 'on' for nearly half of my week. I don't truly unwind from weekend to weekend.

Dolls rehearsals are also held in the theatre, on the Millionaire set. On that stage, essentially in the Biddle living room, Emma leaks profusely into my Hot Box Girl (minus the British accent). So my Hot Box Girl has been high-strung, excitable, and even more dorky than I am.

Characters leak. Tragic example: Heath Ledger, very talented actor, couldn't shake the Joker, and died likely as an indirect result. He was filming Dr. Parnassus at the time, months after The Dark Knight had wrapped, but the Joker hung on.

I'm still practicing choreography relentlessly, but will also take time to figure out who my Hot Box Girl is inside, what character traits she needs to be a burlesque dancer in 1949 NYC, friends with Miss Adelaide.

Let's hope some combination of these tactics provides some graceful results...

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Old dog, new tricks

True story: I was 15 years old when I tried out for Raiderettes, the dance squad that performed at football halftime shows and pep rallies. I was 5'6" of long flailing limbs, but I wanted so much to be that dancer, to have that graceful control over my body. I lacked any sort of refined gross motor skills, so not surprisingly, I didn't make the team. I was disappointed, but focused my attention on other things where I wouldn't make a fool of myself. Like art, newspaper, and drama.

Over the next 20+ years, that lack of refined gross motor skills never posed any sort of hurdle for me. I could  keep a beat and dance when out with friends, I could gradually move away from the very back of the class in step or zumba classes. In the real world, most adults don't need the grace and coordination of a dancer.

Unless they want to do musical theatre.

When they discover that their brains are even less capable now of piloting those long flailing limbs than they were at age 15.

Which is utterly ridiculous and unfair, when I think about it. When I was 15, I'd had only two or three years' experience being 5'6". It makes sense that I might not have mastered the skills needed for finer movement. I did grow another two inches some time over the next 15 years, but for heaven sake, I've been this tall for a long time, stayed fit and mostly trim, and I can do the electric slide and the macarena!

But rather than time-earned mastery of physical movement, I honestly feel like I have some sort of learning disability. Equating dance steps to spoken words, I can get the little words, like 'and' and 'go' and 'the', and with practice, words like 'bank', 'truck', and perhaps even 'recliner.' But as much as I desperately want it to, my brain just cannot form sentences with them because when they occur a bunch at a time, they make no sense to me: Go the and truck recliner to the and bank bank go the recliner bank refrigerato-shoot and the the cat tree go the the. I get the 'words' switched around or stumble over them completely.  And the more I stumble, the more flustered I get.

Last night I decided that I'm a Hot Box Girl because my daddy owns the club.  But even if a cutesy dork dancer is funny and would garner laughs, Adelaide is the focus of the Hot Box numbers. And I feel that drawing attention away from her is a disservice to both that actress and the authors of the show.

So today I'm going to see if I can't use that dance-step vs. word correlation analogy to find words that will assemble into meaningful sentences. At the very least, I want to get the words in the right order. The occasional 'trunk' in place of 'truck' is a little easier to cover than 'go' in place of 'refrigerator.'

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Snagged an Ethel, and other stuff

Yay! This almost makes up for missing out on Adelaide!  I found out last night that I get to be one of the Ethel McCormacks (Ren's mom) in Plaza's summer production of Footloose! My Sunshine (and possibly my Norseman) will be in the ensemble, so we'll actually get to share the stage for the first time! I'm very excited! This is also the first production where I'll get to sing almost-solo. Wooty woot woot!

Through the Footloose audition process, I discovered something interesting. Give me a woman with an accent and a history far removed from me--I got it, no problem. Give me a woman who is essentially ME, and I'm a wreck.  It surprised me how frazzled I was. Even at callbacks, which have been, heretofore, my stronger performance, I was a shaky mess. But it was SO worth it!

In other theatre news, The Happiest Millionaire is going really REALLY well! It's been selling out, which I think is surprising everyone. Sunshine is a fabulous dresser (helps with quick costume changes), and Norseman wrangles the alligator. We got a very nice review from The Column, which gave rare praise for a strong ensemble. Emma is such a small part, comparatively, but I get wonderful comments from patrons.  The best so far: "Great job! You should have had a bigger role."  Also signed an autograph this past weekend. I am so blessed to be involved with this show. I love love love this cast. Eight more shows over the next two weekends, and then it's on to...

Guys and Dolls. Wow. This one has been a blow to my poise-related self esteem. I'm a huge dork; I know; I don't deny it. But the effort involved with making these dork limbs behave in a way that resembles the choreographed dance is... pathetic. My very patient castmates are, at this point, rolling their eyes and (rightly) thinking to themselves (and undoubtedly whispering to each other), "Good Lord, how has she managed to get this far with so little coordination?" And I know they're afraid I won't get it in time for opening night. But I will. The process is a little rough and unrefined, though. Practice, practice, practice. I'll get it, and I'll be better for it. Forging new synapses in my brain that will hopefully stick around until the next time I have to dance in a prescribed routine.

And I'm doing all this as an essentially single mom. D has moved to Oklahoma to take over an old friend's plumbing company--a terrific opportunity for him, too good to pass up. The kids and I are staying here. Norseman has a year left of high school, and Sunshine at this point has no desire whatsoever to move to Oklahoma.  We get together as a family every other weekend, and it's working quite well.

Probably ought to go wash the car. It's currently sporting two states worth of bird poo and bug guts...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Danged doorknobs

Auditions: A first-person narrative by me

So I spend a good 10 minutes in the lobby, adjusting my confidence--it's on frontwards, right? Good. The suspenders aren't too flashy? What? I need 'em to hold my confidence up, duh. It tends to sag in situations like this.

Oh geez, it's my turn already! Wish me luck!

I walk to the audition room with grace and poise. I take a deep calming breath and step inside. "Hello! My name is---herk!" Aack! My suspenders got caught on the doorknob! The consummate professional (*snerk*), I continue on as though nothing is amiss. "My name is Stacey. I'm audtioning for the part of [role] and I'll be singing [song]." As I reach out to hand the director's helper my music, I feel the clips on my suspenders pop away from my confidence. There is a moment of panic, but maybe maybe maybe my confidence will stay up just this once oh please oh please oh please.

The music starts, and I belt out the first line of the song. Yay! I inhale to begin the next line when suddenly my confidence sinks to my knees and I'm exposed. My voice wavers and I try to inconspicuously grab hold of some confidence before it drops completely and puddles on the floor. Ohmygosh! I hope to goodness the director doesn't notice. There! I get a handful of confidence and hold on for dear life! "Lalalalaaaaaa...."

Whew! Song is over! I managed to get through it and even pulled my confidence up a bit. Okay, I can do this. The director hands me an unfamiliar page from the script to read. Without thinking I take it with both hands. Mistake! Mistake! Unsupported, my confidence starts to sag again, lower and lower as I read, until it's around my shins.

"Thank you," the director says. "We'll let you know if we need to see you at callbacks."

And I shuffle out of the room, trying not to trip over the confidence that is now drooped around my ankles, dragging on the floor.


#$%#@ suspenders and @$&% doorknobs.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Three Fiddler pics

I'll admit to being supremely disappointed.

The Fiddler photo CD I ordered before the show closed finally arrived yesterday. (Plaza has an arrangement with a third-party photographer to come in and photograph each show. The photographer then offers photo CDs for sale to the actors toward the end of the show's run.) For nearly four weeks I'd eagerly checked the mailbox, hoping it would come. And when it was there yesterday, I very nearly squealed with glee. I rushed inside and popped it into the computer to pull up the photos...

As my glee deflated and disappeared.

For the Friday/SatMat cast, there were 125+ fabulous photos, including about a dozen of my double CC as Yente.  For the Thurs/Sat cast, there were 46 photos, and many of those near copies of Friday/SatMat photos because they're of single cast people doing what they did every show.  Since nearly all of the principal characters were doubled, there are precious few photos of the people with whom I had the honor of sharing the stage.  And that makes me sad.

The photos were taken opening weekend. If the camera or lens malfunctioned and it was a matter of not being able to get good photos, there were still five more weekends, ten more performances, to get photos.

Now the show is long done, no way to go back and get pictures.

*sigh*  Anyway.  I'll share the two and a half photos that included me.  The first one is from the opening scene, where Yente tells Avram she's found the perfect match for his son.

This second one is from the first scene, where Yente visits Golde to tell her about the match for Tzeitel. I'm stealing a potato.

Finally, the wedding scene, right before intermission. I'm the black-clad one at the bottom. I love the pic, though, because it shows how amazing the set and lighting were...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dolls cast list

And even more excited after seeing the full cast list. Yay!

(And they got my name right on the first try!)

Hot Box girl!

Let me say first that I got a part in Guys and Dolls! I'll be struttin' my stuff as a Hot Box girl, which means I'm part of the female chorus.  I love love love this show, so I am [mostly] thrilled.  The call came later than I thought, so I was actually relieved to get any part at all.  I haven't seen the full cast list yet, but from what I have seen, it's going to be kick-bootay, of course.

It's utterly ridiculous, but I was caught a bit off guard by how hard it hit me. I knew it was gonna happen, have known for about two weeks generally how it would play out, prepared myself for the inevitable, but callbacks went so well that I had ardently hoped to be an unlikely double.  Since 5th or 6th grade, belting out 'Bushel and a Peck' and prancing around my basement 'stage' in hand-kludged costumes, I have wanted to play Adelaide.  So even before I auditioned for Annie, when I saw Guys and Dolls was in the line-up for this season, I knew I would audition.  In the mean time, I gathered as much experience as I could, to earn my stripes, prove my mettle, so I could be a serious contender for the role.

Logically, it's a no-brainer. Here's my long list of reasons I knew I was not going to be cast as Adelaide:
1. Very talented producer auditioning for the same part. And she will indeed knock it out of the park.
2. I'm in the Happiest Millionaire, and will potentially miss two weeks of rehearsal.
3. I'm new still and haven't earned my major role eligibility stripes.
4. Directors need to make nice stage pictures with fairly matched principal characters. I'm nearly 5'8", skinny, and don't match well.
5. In most cases, doubles need to at least resemble each other, and as I said, I'm nearly 5'8", a good six inches taller than the one I knew would get the part.
6. Life is full of disappointment, duh.

So yeah, even though I saw it coming a mile away and was prepared for it, I still cried. But I am happy to be doing the show at all. Maybe next time the opportunity arises to audition for Adelaide, I'll still be young enough to be a serious contender.

10:00 am edit: Wanted to reiterate that I'm excited and grateful to be part of the show! The costumes will be amazing, especially for the ladies, and that thought alone makes me giggle.  I do trust the Bigger Picture, and am grateful to continue to be part of Plaza Theatre Company productions, where the people are loving, Godly, and just ridiculously wonderful.  Where the only expectations of me are to wear cool costumes, to remember some words, so sing and dance with fabulous people, and to be somebody else for a little while. With the other crazy stressful stuff going on right now, Plaza is an integral part of my Sanity Maintenance Plan.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I love callbacks

It's no secret by now that initial auditions totally freak me out.  I'm a mess of stress, and since of course stress makes me ditzy and awkward, I get even more stressed about the stress making me ditzy and awkward. Five initial auditions now, and the singing ones especially haven't gotten any easier. But if I can get past that first audition to callbacks, I relax and... have fun.

Last night I had the honor of attending callbacks for Guys and Dolls.  I had a great time, did my best, which is usually my only goal. Didn't do anything stupid, that's always a good thing. And I managed to take one of each foot with me, rather than two left ones!  I didn't butcher the dance routine!!  That in itself is reason for celebration.

But I still mulled all night. Not over my own performance, but something else that startled me: One of the most talented ladies I know, Tina, was really really nervous. I'd never seen her so nervous!  She recently won the Column Award for Best Actress in a Play (non-equity), and she was a bundle of nerves.  I mean, for local theatre, this is akin to Reese Witherspoon suffering from audition nerves.

On one hand, it made me feel much better about my own initial-audition jitters. On the other hand, I felt bad for her. I know well how that feels and hate hate hate it.  I love her, and since we were auditioning for the same part, I felt awful that I might be contributing to her nerves.  Fortunately we all know she's got the Acting Stuff.  She'll knock it out of the park on stage, regardless.

For me perhaps it's backwards.  The single-organism-under-the-microscope aspect of the initial audition is awful. But the presence of other people at callbacks is relaxing, empowering even.  Except for the Annie callbacks where I felt clearly outclassed, I've been pleasantly surprised NOT to feel I'm out of my league.  Plus, callbacks are an opportunity to learn from others because there are always such wonderfully talented people there.  It's a joy to be among all that talent, to be included IN that talent.  I get all warm and fuzzy and want to go home and bake cupcakes for everyone.

Anyway, I should find out this evening if I got a part.  I love this show, and said on my audition resume that I'd even be willing to wear a mustache in the men's ensemble just to be part of it.  Hopeful, but trusting in the Bigger Picture.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Anyone good at interpreting dreams?

Last night I had a very short dream as I was falling asleep--and I woke up thinking, "Wow, that was really profound; I need to remember it."  And then I went back to sleep and forgot about it until this afternoon when Norseman mentioned his dream.

I was sitting in the front row of a small theatre. On stage were two people whom I recognized as ME.  One of me was in a bright red sheath dress, fiery hair, very flamboyant. The other one of me was in a similar dress, but it was grayish greenish aqua-ish in color, understated hair and makeup. The Red Dress Me was trying to pull Aqua Dress Me into the spotlight, for some sort of recognition, as though Aqua had done something noteworthy and Red wanted to give credit where credit was due. But Aqua resisted as Red persisted. As I still watched from the audience.

And that's when I woke up.

I've never had a dream like this before, where it seems like my subconsious brain is clearly trying to tell me something.  I have no clue what it's trying to say, though.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Another blog, many more projects

Yeah, I have a lot of blogs. Genealogy blogs that get updated once every fourth or fifth solar eclipse. Project blogs that I'm leaving up but no longer update, various other blogs that I'm not sure yet whether to leave up or take down...

And a new one to add to the list: Moxiepants

Still in the building stages, but it's for my artsy fartsy crafty design stuff.  And Sunshine's too, I'm thinking. We'll see how it develops.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No consolation tattoo for me

I got the part of Emma, the maid! As this one is a non-musical, I shall have to start an Adventures in Non-Musical Theatre topic label :)  Emma is the smallest adult female role, which is nice. I get to work with Taffy, and I won't feel overwhelmed or stingy when I pray pray pray for Guys and Dolls.

I don't know yet if I'm double cast. Rehearsals start March 3rd. Will append this post with a cast list when it's published!

Yaaaaayyyyyy!  This is gonna be so much fun!

UPDATE: Single cast; official cast list:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's not musical theatre, per se...

The movie was a musical, but that was the Disney-fied version.

I auditioned for The Happiest Millionaire last night, and I was invited to callbacks tonight.  And callbacks were great! That is to say I had a great time, and enjoyed almost every minute of it (except for the part where I *facepalm* asked to start over in an improv, but we'll just pretend that didn't happen, shall we?). I got to read for three different parts, and I think I did well with each, but ALL the women there did well.

My favorite part, though, had nothing to do with my audition. The girls auditioning for Cordy (the scrappy teen daughter) had to grab a volunteer and improv a boxing scene where they knocked their partner out. I volunteered to spar with K, who was an orphan on the other cast of Annie. We had about a minute to put together our scene, and I followed her directions, trusting her to duck 'cause I was swinging! She did great, I pretended to be hit, then she 'walloped' me and I went sprawling to the floor. It was so fun!

The director, Ms. Taffy Geisel (who also directed Annie), has a way of bringing out the very best in everyone--so much so that I'm honestly happy to have spent the two and a half hours there working with her. I may not get cast, but I hate to say it, whoever does get cast is gonna be wonderful!  Which is disconcerting, frustrating, but yet reassuring and maddening, all at the same time.  This play has only 13 roles, and all of the actors playing them have to be top-notch. There aren't any 'growing and nurturing' roles like there were in Annie.  While *I* think I could handle any of the women's roles in the play, I know I'm still new to this. I will totally understand if Taffy chooses not to cast me. I trust her completely.

I think it's safe to say this here--it would seem like kissing up on Facebook, but I'm pretty sure none of the Plaza folks read my blog: Taffy is probably the most amazing woman I've ever met (who is not related to me). She embodies this...calm... enthusiastic... strength. I know, sounds impossible, but if you've met her, you understand. I wrote before that she has physical limitations from muscular dystrophy, yet she's an actor, director, teacher, playwright, mom, wife, and no-excuses kind of lady. And humble and loving, with a heart for Jesus. She just amazes me. So when I say I trust her completely, I mean it. Of course I'll be sad not to get cast, as much sad about not getting to work with her as not getting to play on stage. Maybe Tina and Kara will let me be a costume grunt :)

Oh hey! And it turned out to be a good hair day!  It's still in that in-between stage: too long and too short to really do anything.  HOWEVER, with the help of a handful of bobby pins and some hot sticks, it's a good length for a 1915-ish finger wave and curly-backed updo.  It's too cute, and way too time-consuming, to wear like this every day, though. Unless, you know, it were for a specific role...

I should know by 10pm tomorrow!

(Edit at 7am: sometime in the wee hours when my brain refused sleep, I decided that if I don't get cast, I get a consolation prize with what I would have spent on corset and boots. And I'll get it on Monday.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fiddler reviews

Whaaat?  I have no ADD tendencies, I don't know what you're talking about. Oooh!! Hang on, I just saw a cardinal out the window--can you repeat the question?

Ohhhh, yeah. *grin*

Yeah, so this is one of SEVEN posts that are sitting in draft mode on my blogger dashboard. I'm aiming to go ahead and post it and trim that number down to a mere six.

I have mixed feelings about sharing Fiddler reviews, because they are all specific to only half the cast. The majority of the principal roles are double-cast, and the reviewers all apparently came to the opening Saturday night show, which featured only one set of principals, obviously.  So the fabulous performances of the Saturday matinee cast: Burl Proctor (Tevye), Judy Keller (Golde), Christia Caudle (Yente), Jessica Astorga (Tzeitel), Monica Music (Hodel), and Julianna Keller (Chava), are barely mentioned, if at all. Which to me is a bit unfair because these actors are every bit as much a part of this production as the Saturday evening cast.

But the reviews are kick-booty, I must say. Not always complimentary of me personally (one reviewer clearly expected the elderly movie Yente, which I'm not even attempting to emulate), but resoundingly gushing over the production as a whole. The headlines probably speak for themselves, but follow the links to see the whole review. For the Texas Jewish Post, the review is a PDF scan of the actual newspaper, so I've transcribed the text into this post.

From the Keene Star
Fiddler may be Plaza's best!

From The Column
Fiddler on the Roof

From the Feb 9th issue of Texas Jewish Post, page 10 (transcribed under link):
Plaza Theatre's 'Fiddler' succeeds in style, song — and authenticity
By Amy Wolff Sorter

Cleburne, Texas, population 29,337, is the seat of Johnson County. It's known for its beautiful state park and authentic and thriving downtown.
Cleburne is not, however, a bastion of Judaism. The nearest synagogues are in Waco (approximately 60 miles to the south) and Fort Worth (approximately 35 miles to the north). There are no hard and fast statistics concerning the number of Jews in Johnson County, but it's safe to say that the number is far less than the 5,000 Jewish souls who inhabit Tarrant County.
As such, it's interesting to watch the Cleburne-based Plaza Theatre Company's production of "Fiddler on the Roof." The show creates a close to three-hour experience during which the audience is immersed in the lives of the characters populating the fictitious Russian village of Anatevka during the turn of the 20th century.
The songs are performed brilliantly--Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava (portrayed by Tabitha Barrus, Katrina Nicholas and Taylor O'Toole respectively) beautifully sing they don't want help from matchmaker Yente in finding their perfect matches. Motel (Jerry Downey), Perchik (Andrew Guzman) and Fyedka (Auston McIntosh) provide the perfect and appealing mates for Tevye's daughters. Samantha Parrish as Golde is the perfect Yiddishe momma, not only nailing the accent to a "T", but thrilling the audience with her pure-as-gold-voice. Meanwhile, Stacey Greenawalt King's portrayal of the constantly complaining but ever optimistic Yente provides a lot of chuckles (not to mention familiarity—we all have Yentes in our lives).
The show is led by the appealing and larger-than-life G. Aaron Siler, who portrays Tevye. For much of the show, Siler's Tevye gives the audience the full range of emotions, from humorous observations, to resigned amusement (living in a household of six women can't be easy); to outright grief a the changes coming his way. Siler's energy in portraying the strong-minded Tevye is matched only be a smooth-as-butter baritone that never falters.
There is no doubt the cast is outstanding. But what is even more striking, is the sheer "Jewishness" of this productions. The costumes, courtesy of Kara Barnes, are as close to authentic as can be (complete with the tzitzit and tallit for the men and head coverings for the women). Certainly the use of modified cowboy hats as head coverings could be considered a stretch. On the other hand (with apologies to Tevye), Anatevka is a poor town, complete with milk cows and horses—it doesn't take much to imagine some of the residents wearing modified Stetsons.
Overall, the focus on the Jewish traditions -- complete with Tevye washing his hands prior to the Shabbat meal, the female head of household moving her hands in a circular motion over the candles to welcome the Shabbat Queen and Tzeitel's circling of Motel during their wedding ceremony, adds wonderful elements.
None of this was an accident. Soni Barrus, who co-directed the show with Jodie Barrus, explained she did a ton of research in preparation. She also grilled her cast throughout rehearsals, showing members Jewish-themed media and giving them Yiddish words to ensure proper pronunciation of certain phrases. "I wanted the cast to understand the characters as real people who understand where they're coming from," Barrus said. "I wanted them to know this wasn't just 'acting,' but sharing an experience with fellow human beings."
Then there are the production's other outstanding attributes. For one thing, the theatre space is in the round--a challenging enough proposition for any play. For this particular production of "Fiddler," during which, at time, there are 45 people on a stage the size of a medium-size living room, the challenges multiply. But Barrus said the cast embraced the challenge of having the audience literally right on top of it. Furthermore, she added, the audience loves it.
"You're sitting 10 feet away from a man who is soulful and expressive about the changes happening to his family," she commented. "He's being asked to change his personal beliefs and, to the audience, it's heart-wrenching as they become emotionally involved."
"Involved" is right; the production doesn't hesitate to break the fourth wall as often as possible. For example, during "Sabbath Prayer," cast members move into the audience to light Shabbat candles. It's a beautiful and moving moment that can't fail to create goose bumps.
Needless to say, "Fiddler" wasn't selected because of its Jewish flavor. The show, by Joseph Stein (the book); Jerry Bock (the composer) and Sheldon Harnick (the lyricist) is based on "Tevye the Milkman and Other Tales" by Sholem Alchiem and has gained a wide following since its Broadway premier in 1964. As such, from a demographic perspective, Barrus said, it's perfect for Plaza Theatre. "There are a lot of older people who come to our shows, and it's a great show for them," she said.
It's also hopeful. Even as the villagers sadly leave Anatevka for unknown realms, there is hope that Tevye will eventually earn his "big, tall house with rooms by the dozen;" hope that Motel and Tzeitel will succeed; hope that Perchik will be freed from his Siberian prison and have a good life with Hodel; hope that Tevye will accept his Chavaleh's marriage to the gentile Fyedka—and hope that Golde and Tevye will live to a ripe, old age in America.
"Though the plot ends tragically, we learn, as we grow older, that we can grow from changes," Barrus said. "There are bad times, but sometimes good can come out of it. That's one of the messages of this show."
"Fiddler on the Roof" will run through March 10 at Plaza Theatre Company, 111 S. Main St., Cleburne. Cost for tickets ranges from $12-$15. Please not the lead roles are double cast. For more information call 817-202-0600 or visit

Annnnd.... down to six draft posts in three, two, one...

Monday, February 13, 2012

I think my brain wants to be a ninja.

In a post a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a dream that included some hand-to-hand combat, in which I prevailed.  The whole dream was very strange, and especially that part, because it was so real. I could feel an adrenaline rush when an attacker lunged at me with a knife, I could feel my body moving, my muscles straining. I could feel my fingers around his wrist, and then his head under my knee after I'd flipped him around and subdued him. I don't know that I'd ever in my life had a dream like that before.

And last night I had a dream wherin I was apparently affiliated with law enforcement. I fended off a thief who was much bigger than me (and who didn't appreciate being caught), but wrestled him face down on the floor, twisted his arms back, and held his hands for another police officer to handcuff. Again it was very real, right down to the feeling of dread that he was just the distraction, being stupid on purpose so an accomplice could get away.

Just so we're clear: in my waking hours I've never truly fought physically with anyone (sisters and flailing temper-tantrum-twelve-year-olds don't count). Zumba is the extent of my fitness training, and even there my coordination is... um... we'll just say 'lacking'... and I would surely go down in flames in a zumba-off.

A lifetime of 'normal' dreams; minimal action, perhaps a few with firearms, mushrooms and merry-go-rounds, weasels, water towers... you know, boring stuff. Most fairly low-key. Then bam, two dreams within three weeks in which I quite vividly kick bootay with my bare hands.  It's just... strange.

"In my sleep it's a sign, right?" --Yente

A sign, perhaps, but what does it mean?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Hat machine

I'm growing my hair out. Which isn't really something to blog about, I suppose. Except that it's making me crazy--wondering WHY and reminding myself not to get the scissors out.  I've cut my own hair for the past five or six years, so when it gets longer than my patience, I remedy the situation post haste.  But I'm wanting a more versatile look lately, which to my dismay means longer hair.

So it's currently too long to be 'easy' and too short to really do anything with. Some days it looks okay for a few hours if I let it dry curly. But then it goes blah and I don't have the patience to do anything but throw a hat over it (yep, almost every day is a hat day).  Until it went missing, my cap of choice had been an old military-style short-brimmed hat (ala Fidel Castro) that's green (except for paint splatters), safety-pinned together (thanks to a border collie), and bears a Corona beer logo.  I keep looking for it--how far could it have gone? But what to do until it turns up again? MAKE a new one with yarn I already have.  I found a pattern online that I modified heavily to my liking (so it's shaped a lot like my missing castro-style hat when it's on my head) and made it using clay-colored yarn, and loved the hat so much that I made Sunshine one, too.  It took only about an hour to make each, so why not make a green/teal one? And how about a red one to match my Forigner tee?  Ooh, a cream-colored one would be nice! And a solid teal one!  Gotta have black... Oh wow....

I need a purple one.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

What a weekend

Yay! Opening weekend of Fiddler on the Roof was terrific!  If you get my blog via a reader, you may have missed the afternoon update on my last post, wherein my day brightened significantly.  That sunburst set the tone for the rest of the weekend, which turned out to be a good one, Thursday's preview included!

My kiddos were needed on the backstage crew for all this weekend's performances, so I had the pleasure of playing Yente for the volunteers during Preview, madly helping put finishing touches on costumes during the Friday opening, then sitting in the audience to watch and enjoy.  And it really is a good show. Funny, poignant, and hopeful--it's wonderful.  I sat in the lobby for the Saturday matinee and got to talk to people before the show and during intermission (and even received some origami birds as a gift from a preteen audience member). And then I rocked Yente on Saturday night. I love love love eliciting emotion from an audience, especially laughter. The show photographer was there, and possibly a reviewer or two, so I should at least have some pics to share soon. Best of all, I received positive feedback about my interpretation of Yente from several people whom I greatly respect, and I think even our former-Yente director is not at all unhappy. Yay!

This morning, I got up and baked brownies for a bake sale, then Norseman and I went and set up and worked said bake sale for a few hours until relief arrived (after I'd already bought a few items for myself!) before heading out to my folks' house for guitar lessons.

I feel like I need a weekend to recover from my weekend!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

That pause at the top of the roller coaster

So tonight is preview night for Fiddler. On Facebook I have to be happy and shiny and enthusiastic, 'cause it really will be a good show and I don't want to cast a shadow for locals. But not many people read this blog, and the only locals who read it are related to me, so I can be honest.

*sigh* Right now I'm weary, eager to get this show on the road already. With Annie I never once considered quitting. I was so excited to be there, I loved every second, and I was kinda sad when the show opened because the process of getting to that point had been so enjoyable and meaningful, and that part of the journey was over. I missed seeing my castmates nearly every day.

With Fiddler I have cried myself to sleep more than once.  I've had to continually remind myself that I LOVE doing this, and that I made a commitment when I auditioned.  And though no one has expressly talked about it, I know without doubt that I'm not the only castmember to feel that way. Which is sort of comforting in a way. To know I'm not the only melodramatic soul.

So, being a proactive person, I'm going to bake yummy mini-muffins or bite-size cookies or something to take to my castmates tonight as a thank you/good will offering.  And I'm gonna do what I can to be a ray of sunshine for a cloudy cast.

***Edited at 3pm to add:
It's very cloudy today.  I mention that because I went to the theatre to help out with changeover however I could. Prayed and went over my lines and prayed and went over my lines and prayed some more on the drive there.  As I got within a few blocks of the theatre, I happened to be asking God to lift my spirits so I could be that ray of sunshine. And at that moment, the sun broke through the clouds and blazed its brilliance right in my face. I had to laugh (and got a little choked up, I admit).  And the sun stayed out, more or less, as I got to the theatre, parked, and walked into the building smiling.  And I had a good day running to get some last minute stuff needed, painting the floor and generally being helpful. And my stress level is markedly reduced! Thanks, Big Guy!

Now I'm about to go pick up my Sunshine from school, then come home and dip some pretzel rods into chocolate and sprinkles to take with me tonight.

It's a good day!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I dream in Yiddish?

My dreaming brain astounds my waking brain on occasion. This is why I have several dozen stories started.  Sometimes I have a dream that is just so vivid, so lifelike, and so interesting that I absolutely have to write it down.  And writing it down engages my waking brain, which is always asking 'why'; answering those whys very frequently creates the bones of a story.

Yesterday, in my effort to be productive without spending money, I worked on various projects at home while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Stuff You Should Know.  I'm really behind on all my podcasts, so I was listening to October and November episodes.  One episode on antimatter got me thinking about a fantasy story I have in progress (on the laptop that is still comatose), and how antimatter might help solve a technical issue in the story--I like even my fantasy stories to be scientifically feasible where possible.

And last night I attended Fiddler rehearsal where we worked on tightening up the wedding scene.

My dream last night was initially intriguing to my waking brain because it was mostly in Yiddish. And I don't speak Yiddish. But the more I thought about it, the more enthralled I became. My brain had incorporated bits and pieces of several different podcasts (none of them having to do with antimatter) into a Jewish wedding scene, added some hand-to-hand combat (I won), a mysterious person named Crispin, and a cryptic message.  It was like I was watching a good movie and woke up just before it got really good.  And now my caffeinated writer's brain is nearly bubbling over with whys and whos and wherefores and wows.

So today I am going to try to get some housework done amidst making notes and sketching structures.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Some theatre lessons are harder than others

Oy! I need to get my laptop up and running and write on stuff other than this blog!  This is ridiculous!  Updating almost daily!  Unheard of!  But writing is apparently part of my sanity-maintenance self-treatment plan.


New theatre experience last night that I need to process (aka write through): I got yelled at by the director.  And most everything she said was valid.  So it was mostly deserved, I guess. We did reach somewhat of an understanding, but I'm still stressing.  Someday I'll have more experience, and I'll know how to avoid situations like this, or at least not take it so much to heart when they arise. But as I'm still very new, still growing that thick skin, it's stressful and disheartening. Which means... I have to write.  Just the act of writing is cathartic, and ordinarily that's all I need, but I'm gonna go ahead and publish this for those who find my blog through google, looking for theatre information. Some lessons are harder than others, and maybe reading about someone else's struggle will help another newbie.

All the things I didn't, couldn't say last night...

Dear Director,
When I first thought about auditioning for Fiddler, and thought about what roles I could write in the "What role are you auditioning for?" spot, I wasn't sure I could even hope to be Yente.  Every production of Fiddler I've ever seen has had a movie Yente.  I figured it was written into the script that Yente was old and hobbling.  So I researched a bit. Google Books has the 1964 script, IBDB has information on the original production. And discovered that the role was originated by a young, able-bodied Bea Arthur and I sang 'Halelujia!'. I could maybe be a younger, brasher Yente!  So I auditioned.

AND I GOT THE PART!  And I sang 'Halelujia!' again because I thought "Hey! The directors are open to a younger Yente! Can I hear a what-what? Woo-hoo!"  I dove into channeling Bea, discovering that young, brash Yente in the 1964 photo. No cane, no age makeup.

And then... before we'd run a single line... you told me I must have a cane.

I was so disappointed.  But I nodded and said okay, and even found a cane to practice with, brought it to rehearsal.  I adjusted the character to accommodate.   Perhaps Yente didn't need a cane, but used it more as a status symbol and sometimes weapon.  Okay, I thought. No big deal.

Then you told me I needed to USE the cane more. Hobble.  And I explained that I thought my Yente didn't need a cane, but used it more as a status symbol and sometimes weapon.  You shook your head and set your jaw. Nope.

So I used the cane more. Hobbled a bit.

You told me I should 'forget' the cane when I stood up.  As directed I 'forgot' the cane when I stood up.  You got frustrated with me and told me I needed to hunch, and grab my back, "Oy, my sciatica!", if I was going to leave the cane behind.  In my head I was thinking, "You TOLD me to leave the cane behind!" as my heart was breaking a little because my Yente, the Yente I had hoped to be, was flushed down the toilet with those words. But what I verbally took issue with was the hunch. Something inane about my height. It was silly, I know. But the hunch was for me the death of a youthful Yente. So I retrieved the cane and tried to at least follow exactly the directions you had given but I was flustered and my lines were shot. You said speak up, I said I'll be miked. And bam. In that moment I could sense that I had just become 'that' castmember. The difficult one. The one who has an excuse for everything, that doesn't want to play well with others.  I choked back a sob when I got off stage. Again, silly, I know.

On Tuesday I did my best to hunch and hobble and incorporate every stage direction you'd given. Then I came off stage and my double relayed to me the message about arriving early on Wednesday to go over Yente stuff. The fact that she told me about it and not you (even though you had opportunity) alarmed me. I stressed the entire drive home. All night long. All morning Wednesday. My thoughts: I'm obviously not hunching and hobbling enough. I can't hunch and hobble and move quickly. I suck at being the 'standard' Yente. I don't want to be the 'movie' Yente!! If people want the movie Yente, they can pull her up on YouTube for free anytime they want!  People come to Plaza to see fresh, innovative live theatre!

So I sent you an email early in the day, asking you to give me the opportunity to play Yente more as I think Bea Arthur did.

And last night you were upset. Upset that I had emailed, rather than talk to you in person. I'm a writer; I communicate best with written words.  Upset that I had thrown history at you. I included some historical information so you would know that I'd done some research into it, and wasn't just asking on a whim or to be difficult, not because I thought you didn't already know.  I apologized rather than explain, because I didn't want to prove right there that I was indeed 'that' castmember.

Yes, I should have talked to you weeks ago, in person.  Should have pulled you aside and fully discussed my view of Yente when it became apparent that our views weren't the same. Instead I tried to meld our views. Because here's the thing: You intimidate me. It's not a usual thing, so I'm a little unsure of how to effectively BE intimidated. You've spent the last 40+ years on stage, running theatres, directing shows, living theatre, and raising amazingly talented theatre kids who in turn are raising amazingly talented theatre kids. You've played Yente!  I've spent most of the last 30 years simply wishing I could be on stage. Wistfully attending plays. Wistfully reading plays. I'm new to this, and still unsure of myself despite outward appearances. And when you yell at others for screwing up, I cower just a smidge inside. Outside of being costumed for Annie and working with your family, I don't know you, what to expect from you. From my view, you have very definite ideas about what you envision and what you expect. End of story. I felt it was my responsibility as an actor to meet your expectations and do my part to make your vision happen. If anything was negotiable, I couldn't tell.

I thank you for allowing me to give a younger Yente a shot, though I can tell through your expressions and body language during rehearsal last night that you are not happy about it. It's not how you envisioned; it's not how you played her. But thank you for letting me try, anyway.  After seeing the daughters mimic Yente in the Matchmaker number, I'm thinking perhaps the cane might be necessary, but more as a scepter for the uncontested Matchmaker rather than a physical crutch. Today I am working on milking the comedy while standing straight and tall. And despite the whiny, high-maintenance tone of this post (I apologize), I'm confident I will succeed, at least for audiences.