Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I'm Not Stopping This Party

If I could make that true...I would. Heading into the 3rd weekend of performance, and so far the only thing that sucks is that we only get to perform this show 3 times a week. I think most of us would be glad to have more performance days than days off...

What makes it all so special, I think, is the deep connection the cast, musicians, artistic and technical staffs all have with each other. I've really never experienced anything like this outside of my own company. There is something about this show that fosters a closeness--perhaps it is the difficultly of the music; perhaps the nature of the story; perhaps it is just that I've found myself among people with whom I feel particularly comfortable. Whatever it is, it makes performing an absolute joy.

We've been really fortunate to have some terrific audiences thus far, and I can only imagine that we will continue to have more and more bodies in the house as we barrel towards closing weekend. I just can't stand the thought of putting this show away, though...right now it feels like we are just getting started, but there are only 6 performances left.

What I've found most interesting is that there is not one moment that I dread or one moment or song or scene that I wish we could just get through...I love them all! It is such fun to do every night, and I honestly look forward to each and every moment I spend on stage. Letting go of this show is going to be rough.

Of course, it isn't for everyone; I can't think of one show that is. I know we've lost a handful of audience members for whatever reason--but that's fine! Theatre is subjective, and this particular show is probably a more acquired taste, and certainly isn't for the faint of heart or easily offended/embarrassed.

I can say that this is one of the all-time highlights of my career. I am so proud of this work and of this cast and of this production. I am grateful for all that I have learned and for all of the support I have received from each and every person involved. What an honor to be a part of THE WILD PARTY...and to have found Queenie. I think I did find her...I am pretty sure that she and I have come to an understanding, and I adore her. She breaks my heart every night, and I am moved to have given her life in my body.

I can't wait for Thursday to arrive...I miss my party people.

No limits. No boundaries. No compromise.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Theatre Hero: The Way It Is

Working on THE WILD PARTY has been an amazing experience in every way. First of all, this is an intense show (to say the least). Second of all, this is some of the most difficult music I have ever had to perform. And then, on top of everything else, the cast has had to deal with injuries and illnesses. A couple of weeks ago, Jeffrey Pruett (Burrs) suffered a bloody nose during a dance rehearsal (a collision). Earlier this week Nikki Glenn (Madalaine True) had to get a steroid shot because she had lost her voice almost entirely! And last week, I wound up in the hospital after rehearsal because I split my eyebrow open in the 2nd scene of the show during rehearsal! To my credit, I performed the entire show. Luckily we have a cast member who is part of the medical community, so she was able to bandage me up pretty well, although I did manage to bust it open again later in the evening when I was REALLY singing out...

My point, though, is not that I am something special because I continued on despite a potentially serious injury, but that carrying on is just the way it is in theatre. The show really must go on--there literally isn't anyone else there who can fill in on a moment's notice (not with what small, professional theatres are able to pay), and we all truly depend on each other. I think that a few people thought it was impressive that I went on...and, in retrospect (considering how I felt the next day), I suppose it was impressive...but I have a theatre hero who will always be my inspiration to go on, and I think the story deserves to be told here.

Back in December I had the esteemed honor of playing Sister Mary Ignatius to my son Adam's Thomas (he turned 11 during the run of the show) in the Stray Dog Theatre production of SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU. I'll tell you what, I learned more working with my son than I ever learned in an acting class at university. There is nothing quite as honest as a child actor--every moment is real and new. It was an experience I will forever cherish, and one from which I continue to draw wisdom.

The biggest lesson my son taught me, though, was that the show ALWAYS goes on, and that's just the way it is.

On Tuesday, December 1--of Tech Week--at about 5:15 p.m. our most precious little dog Bridget was run over by a car in front of our house...pretty much in front of Adam. It was HORRIFYING to say the least, and both of us were a HUGE mess. Seriously, I have never experienced anything quite so devastatingly awful, and certainly this was the most agonizing tragedy Adam had ever faced.

I managed to get a hold of our director at about 5:45 from the vet's office, and we decided that Adam and I would get to the theatre whenever we could (a stranger had driven me and Bridget to the vet...and I was waiting for my husband to pick me up). Adam was at home trying desperately to pull himself together with my father (who lives with us) and his sister, Madge. When Dan and I walked in the door, my father was sitting in the kitchen crying, Madge was waiting at the door to dissolve into her daddy's arms, and we could hear Adam crying in the shower...

Somehow Dan got us all to the theatre by 7:15...the whole family came to the dress rehearsal because we couldn't think of anything else but to be together.

And, when we got to the theatre, the director gave us the option of just doing a line-through (no costumes, no movement...just speaking the lines), but Adam chose to do the full dress rehearsal. We decided that the best thing for us to do was to get onstage and do our job...and I just followed Adam's lead.

There were some poignant moments that night; probably more so than on any night during the run. Bitter moments were more bitter. Funny moments were more ironic. Sad moments were, well...tragic.

The most amazing performance imaginable came from my son, though. You see, he spent nearly the entire run of the show alone in a little room just off stage. He sat in there by himself, almost in the dark, listening for his cues--there was no one to send him on stage, he just did his job (and, just so we're clear, he NEVER missed an entrance. Ever). And that night, the night that his favorite little dog, Bridget, was killed, my son made every one of his entrances as Thomas, and he was funny, and he was charming, and he was dead-balls-on with his lines...

But I spent most of the evening alone on stage as Sister Mary...and I could hear him. We all could. My sweet, precious, professional actor/son spent his time off-stage, that night, sobbing alone in the dark. Wailing sometimes. The thought of it haunts me still...what he was going through...the pain he was feeling...and the fact that each entrance he made was flawless and with no sign of the tears he had been shedding back stage.

I come from a theatre family. My father's parents were Vaudevillians; my parents met in a summer stock company (of which my mother was the Artistic Director and ran with my Godmother for 15 years) and spent their winters working in NYC until I was born...my father is still active in professional theatre--so we function in a certain way that other families probably wouldn't understand. I spent some time in the NIH several years ago and my father couldn't come to visit me because he was in a show (it was out of state for both of us)--but I wouldn't have had it any other way! The show MUST go on...

That is just the way it is.

But of all my heroes in every area of my life, my son Adam showed me a living example of what it means to have a life in the theatre. There is no excuse for me to not be present and accounted for while I am in a show. Unless I am contagious or mortally wounded...my place is on the stage doing my job. I did nothing heroic; I did nothing extraordinary; I did not go above the call of duty. I did my job.

My son became my theatre hero that night. He will always be my hero for so many reasons and in so many ways, but professionally, he is the standard to which I hold myself as an actor.

...and that is just the way it is.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This Is What I Was Born To Do...

So, tonight was the first run-through (off-book) of Act I.

I must admit, when I first arrived at the rehearsal space, I was so nervous that I thought I was going to be sick. Literally. In my first song (which sets up the show and tells the audience who Queenie is), I sang that I was a singer in Vaudeville instead of a dancer. It could have seriously tanked from there, but I am in the midst of such a supportive cast and creative team that it didn't tank at all...and, as a matter of fact, it went better than I ever would have imagined. I left the rehearsal space utterly exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally, but also exhilarated and excited about next week in the theatre space.

As I've mentioned before, I am an actor who sings and moves, not (necessarily) a singer/dancer who acts. Musical theatre is not what I'm "known" for (if I'm known for anything at all), but I've always aspired to work in musicals. And now I'm getting my chance--and then some! I keep telling people, "I never shut up," and it's true; I sing in 21 of the 33 songs. Someone give me an "OY!" I'm not sure that I would call what I'm doing dancing, yet, but I'm working on it!

I absolutely adore every minute of it, though. I am having the time of my life--and I am learning SO much that I would never have been able to learn anywhere else. It helps that I am surrounded by some top-notch musical theatre performers; they are so good to me, and I really feel like everyone's got my back. Considering the talent in the room, it could be filled with a bunch of pills, but it's not; the cast is filled with talented, supportive, friendly, funny, wonderful people, and I think that is why I am falling so in love with this work.

Tonight gave me a vision of where we are going...and we are heading down an incredibly interesting, cool, fabulous path. This party is absolutely wild, and the people in it are interesting, scary, funny, endearing, sad, lovely, sexy and gorgeous.

Next week we move into the theatre space to begin running the whole show--and I cannot wait! Next week cannot get here soon enough for me. Unfortunately, I've got to cool my heels until Monday because I'm not called until then. I will spend my time learning lines and music and dancing around my house (each of the kids had a comment about me being in my dancing shoes when they came home from school, and I was thinking, "You should have seen me earlier!")

Right now there is no place I'd rather be than with these people, in this show, getting ready to move into the theatre. At this moment in time, I feel so confident in Queenie's shoes, and just like her I feel like, "This is what I was born to do!"

No limits. No boundaries. No compromise.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Maybe I Like It This Way...

Generally I am a "straight play" actress, which means that the work I do is primarily in dramas and comedies, as opposed to being an actress who works primarily in musicals. I can sing and I am a good mover, but...

Well, Queenie is changing all of that for me. Frankly, there are LOTS of people who still say, "I didn't know you could sing," to which I answer, "In another life, I was actually a music major," although that is not quite the first thing that comes to mind at the moment. Memory is a funny thing.

There is a part of me who likes to think that being comfortable is the preferable way to live, but more and more it is proven to me (by me) that what I really crave is getting outside of my comfort zone and taking a risk. A life lived on the edge is a life worth living--or, at the very least, it is a life worth attempting to live!

This work of THE WILD PARTY is hard work, but it is oh, so worth it. I come home complaining sometimes about how difficult everything is, but then I have to admit that I wouldn't have it any other way. I am WAY outside of my comfort zone, but I don't think I would be happy anywhere else.

Last week was particularly rough for me on several levels, and at one point I knew I was going to cry. I made sure to not cry in rehearsal, because, well, I really just can't stand that kind of self-absorption, but I did *almost* cry in front of someone who, thank God, would not let me get away with that kind of bull-shit.

This week is different. I feel as though I am coming into my own and that I am beginning to really get a grasp on QUEENIE and who I am in that role. I am surrounded by amazing artists who support and encourage, but who also challenge me to kick it all up a notch. I have a music director who really knows where this story is going and how we're going to get there and and assistant director who pays attention to every moment, every word, every note. Sometimes I think that without our stage manager we would have no record of what we have done!

I am in good hands, and I am excited. I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and that I will be going to places I have never been before in this show! I spend a great deal of time crawling out of my skin because it is all so foreign to me...

But just like QUEENIE, maybe I like it this way. No. Just like QUEENIE, I KNOW that I like it this way.

No Limits, No Boundaries, No Compromise,

Friday, February 26, 2010

Feeling Dizzy!

There is something about THE WILD PARTY that simply leaves me dizzy in the most wonderful way. The music has always thrilled me; the story excites me--first because I am a huge fan of Joseph Moncure March's poem--but also because my grandparents were Vaudevillians; and now because I am continually surrounded by such a fabulous group of artists who are about the business of bringing it all to life!

Sure, this is hard work--and scary, too, since I am primarily a "straight" theatre actress--but God, it is so worth it. And, the work is made joyful because everyone involved seems to have a great sense of humor and a willingness to go to the scary places together. One of my own company's tag-lines is: "SATE: A Safe Place to be Dangerous", and I'd have to say that New Line Theatre would certainly be SATE's musical theatre counterpart. Soul sister...or brother, as the case may be. Kindred spirit.

THRILLED to have a costume designer I know will take care of me and who will be true to Queenie's sense of style and authenticity! What a relief that is. Of course, I wouldn't expect anything less from Scott Miller and New Line Theatre...every detail is given 100% attention, and that is such a delight.

More than anything, I can't wait to get "off-book" so that we can begin getting this baby up and running. So grateful I am surrounded by so many brave and talented artists...we're going all the way with this one, and I can't wait!

Dance rehearsal on Sunday. That which does not kill me is bound to make me look sexier...right?

No Limits. No Boundaries. No Compromise.
Queenie (GoGo/Margeau)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I've Got a Good Feeling

What a marvelous cast--not only is everyone supremely talented, but everyone seems to have a great sense of humor, too, which is HUGE! Smiling, talented, good looking...I think this is going to be a really fun journey.

The music is insanely difficult, but the cast is absolutely up to the task! What a relief to be in such good company and to be surrounded by so many capable performers. This is definitely going to be one of those shows--and I am so fortunate to be a part of it all.

I've been watching a documentary on Vaudeville (which is not only research for this show, but has also turned out to be research for an original piece of theatre my own company is devising.) What an amazing period of time in American theatre, and what a shame it ever had to come to an end.

Interestingly, my paternal grandparents were Vaudeville performers (along the New England Seacoast on "the grange circuit".) I imagine myself channeling my grandmother as I investigate the role of Queenie, and I somehow feel more qualified to do the role because being a Vaudevillian is truly in my blood. I can't wait to really put her on and take her for a ride!

More thoughts about rehearsal tomorrow; right now I'm still just riding the high of having the first rehearsal under my belt!

No limits, no boundaries, no compromise!
Queenie (GoGo/Margeau)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Excited To Begin

We begin rehearsals for New Line Theatre's production of The Wild Party this week. I don't think I've been this excited to begin something in a long time. I have lived with Queenie for the past year...and when I was offered the role, I knew it was what I was meant to do.

I know this woman. I am excited to begin.

And nervous.

But mostly excited.

There is lots of work to be done...and I am ready to work.

No limits, no boundaries, no compromise,
Queenie (aka GoGo...aka Margeau)