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!