January 28, 2012
Four people in the last month have proclaimed that I look just like Jane Fonda. Three of those people prefaced their comment with, “I’m sure you hear this ALL the time, but…” The other person whispered it loudly in the middle of the show. For the record, I do NOT hear that all the time, and as long as it’s the young Jane Fonda we’re talking about, I’m quite thrilled.
I think it’s an improvement over Ally Sheedy, who people used to tell me I look like:
No offense Ally Sheedy, but you’re kind of morose.
…And that one drunk guy I waited on who told me I look like Monica Lewinsky.
I would assume that the Fonda comparisons are because of my shiny leotard and teased-to-the-clouds coif in the show, but the first man who declared me Fonda-esque said it to me before I’d adopted my “Cassie” look.
So I think I’ll stick with the hair-teasing thing, buy some legwarmers, and maybe look into becoming a global exercise maven-slash-Oscar winner.
January 20, 2012
Whenever I get really down on a performance, Herbie rubs my sore muscles and reminds me to “Orbach it,” referring to a piece I read a while ago by Jerry Orbach (not only a police detective but also a long-revered Broadway song-and-dance man), in which he talks about the challenges of performing the same show over and over and never being satisfied. He finally came to the conclusion that he should view each performance as a chance to do better than the last, and that’s the view I’ve tried to adopt as well (it applies to every new day of parenting, too).
I was watching one of Moo’s shows this morning (“Superheroes!” starring Moo as Wonder Woman), and as I watched her dance, complete with sound effects – “Whoosh! Wah-ha!” – I saw in her performance what my performance is missing: total abandon. When Moo dances, she is completely lost in the joy of spinning and leaping, and being completely lost in the joy of dancing is what my dance is supposed to be about. But I haven’t quite allowed myself to do that. I can tell I’m still holding back, for many perfectly valid reasons – strained hamstring, my feet hurt, I hate dancing in character shoes, ohmygodthisdanceissoexhaustingI’mgoingtodie…
But basically, I think I just need to suck it up, let go, and dance like Moo.
January 19, 2012
I didn’t mean to stop writing. It just happened, and then the not-writing kept happening until I seemed to have simply abandoned my blog. But I didn’t mean to. I wanted to re-focus, re-design, and be a little less public…but the re-design hasn’t happened (no money), the re-focus hasn’t happened (too tired for quiet contemplation), and I’m currently dancing and singing on stage in the midst of a four-week run of A Chorus Line, so…not public? Not really.
Since October, I’ve been dieting, exercising, rehearsing and preparing for a dream come true – playing Cassie in A Chorus Line. It’s the postage-stamp-size version of A Chorus Line, but it’s still fuckin’ 5678, music and the mirror, singular sensation, mm-kay? Our stage is so small we can barely fit across it in a straight line, but we’re still dancing our hearts out and high-kicking with the best of them. We’re kind of awesome, really.
…And I get to be Cassie. It’s a funny thing, having a dream come true. It’s not like getting married, where you float along indefinitely on a cloud of euphoria until the first credit card bill comes along, but it is a little like having children, because it’s so very physical, often painfully so, and I am plagued with self-doubt even as I’m filled with joy. I get to dance on stage like I haven’t in such a long time…or maybe ever, really – and that’s heavenly, but it also means lots of strained muscles, and constant striving for a personal standard I don’t think I’ll ever reach.
So I remember what my friend Mary Frances said when I told her I didn’t know if I’d ever be satisfied with my performance: “You won’t. Every night, you’ll wish you could have done it just a little bit better. But at least you’ll be happy you had the opportunity to try.”
Right now, Moo is coughing in bed (she seems to always have a cough or stuffy nose, thanks preschool). She’s planning her 5th birthday party, learning to ride a bike, and she puts on a new show every day. Just as much time goes into setting up the audience of stuffed animals as putting on the actual show. She’s finally, finally going to start ballet class next week, and she adores her little brother, although she hates how he’s always messing up her carefully arranged toys.
Juice is sleeping soundly in his crib, using Boofa his Ugly Doll as a pillow, a pacifier clutched in each hand and one in his mouth. When he wakes up in the morning, he will cry out for us until we set him free, and he will immediately greet his beloved trains. Within 30 seconds, he will destroy the brilliant track set-up that Herbie so lovingly created. OH does this boy love trains. He also loves cuddles, kisses, hugs, making funny faces during dinner, running down hills, and NOT sitting on his bottom on the couch.
I’ve been home the last three nights in a row, which hasn’t happened since Christmas. Being home and putting my kiddos to bed has been wonderful, except that it’s been three straight days to doubt everything about myself, and wait in vain for my muscles to stop hurting, and wonder whether the joy of performing will continue to outweigh the side effects of self-doubt?
March 25, 2011
Yesterday, I was in tears, boo-hooing over costumes and messed up staging and missed lyrics and notes, and – well, mostly I was crying because I am so damn exhausted.
As we stood behind the curtain waiting for it to open that night, I felt my brain struggling to connect the dots and all my emotions brimming in my eyes. And then my pre-sleep-deprived self knocked on my head. And I remembered – Hey! I love this! I’m not doing this because I have to – I’m doing it because it makes my toes and fingertips tingle – because it makes me feel like I’m about to burst with joy – because I fucking LOVE it!
So I kept reminding myself – you love this. You love this. You love this!
It only kinda worked last night. I messed up…a lot.
But then my dear sweet darling baby boy Juice slept through the night (LAAAAAAA CHORUS OF ANGELS!!!), and I woke up glowing from six straight hours of sleep. (I remember when I could hardly survive without 10.)
I reminded myself again that I love this before tonight’s show - our first with an audience – and it went SO much better. A few hiccups – but we got laughs, and applause, and had FUN.
I would like some more of that, please! Official opening night tomorrow night. Tomorrow! My Moo’s birthday. We have a big day of donuts, lunch with Daddy, and cupcake baking planned.
…Does anybody know how to get lipstick out of an evening gown?
November 24, 2010
I dreamed about scorpions all night last night.
I’m a Phoenix native, and I’ve never seen a scorpion. I know – crazy! But I didn’t know it was crazy – I mean, scorpions are supposed to live in the desert, not in the backyard. However, recently I’ve been hearing lots of stories about people’s close encounters of the scorpion kind, including one male friend who got stung on the…yeah. Ouch.
So I’ve been feeling doomed. Doomed by scorpions. It’s like they’re slowly surrounding the house, just waiting until I’m barefoot to attack. But I hate being barefoot, so Ha! Joke’s on you, scorpions.
In the dressing room on Sunday, as I was freshening my lipstick, one of the 8th-grade cast members pointed at something on the ground and said, “That looks like a scorpion.” I SHRIEKED! and practically leaped into her arms, shoving her and her friend away from the
scorpion piece of fuzz in the process and into the wall.
After they stopped laughing at me, they hailed my innate sense of protectiveness. Surely it was due to my fantastic Motherness that I attempted to save them from the evil scorpion.
But I wasn’t trying to save them. I was mowing them down in my attempt at escape. If a wall and a giant costume rack hadn’t been in my way, I would have left them as fresh, ripe scorpion bait and run like hell.
Just like the Skunk Incident of ’99 (ask Rosalind).
In the last couple days, I’ve been worrying that this selfishness is carrying over into real motherhood. I’m feeling grumpy because I’m not enjoying being a mommy as much as I used to – it’s a LOT of work right now, and I’m not having very much fun. Of course, my personal Fun Meter should not be on the top of my priority list when it comes to raising my children.
Playing with Moo used to be Priority #1. But now I’ll take advantage of her easy-going nature to spend more time with my laptop. And sometimes I find myself wishing Juice could just be a cute, cozy prop, instead of requiring actual motherly interaction.
And when we’re trying to get out the door, and Juice is crying in his car seat while Moo is flopping all over me, acting crazy instead of helping me get her shoes on - sometimes I snap. I don’t exactly yell, but it’s close. I use a tone that, when I would hear other mothers use it with their kids at Target, made me shake my head and tell myself, “I would NEVER talk to my children that way.”
And when I see the look on Moo’s face after I snap, well - I feel a little like a scorpion that’s just stung the things I love most in the world.
November 21, 2010
Last show today!
I’m relieved: sweet sleep on the horizon! More time with my family! A chance to eat dinner with my family! All those episodes of 30 Rock on Tivo!
I’m depressed: I’ll miss my cast, and my new friends. I’ll miss standing in the wings, waiting for my entrance. I’ll miss being in a damn SHOW, being an actress, shaking my booty during my one dance scene.
Friday’s show was a bit of a fumble. We were rusty, and as soon as someone uttered, “I have a feeling something’s going to go wrong tonight,” we knew we were doomed. One girl fell off a styrofoam block (in retrospect, perhaps not the the best design decision) and hurt her foot. Another girl whammed her shin during curtain call. And my little pretend daughter got slammed by the stage door.
But yesterday, after the injured had iced their bruises, we put on a hell of a show. It actually took me a while to catch up – I felt exhausted, and maybe a little prematurely bummed that the show was over. But, according to my pretend-husband, I finally perked up, and we pulled off the show - bad review be damned! At the end, we were rewarded with our first full standing ovation. Surprising, since the audience seemed more politely amused than excited, but hey – wanna stand up for us? Stand indeed, good people of Cave Creek/Scottsdale/Carefree!
Then we celebrated at the cast party, where I impressed the kiddos with my Roger Rabbit and we all danced until 1 a.m., when a polite cop who looked straight out of The Andy Griffith Show politely requested we keep it down. Partying with teenagers – always a good time. Not that we adults didn’t hold our own – my pretend husband even broke out the worm! It’s never a real party until somebody does the worm.
Countdown to the last curtain call…
November 18, 2010
Driving over to my mom’s house for dinner this evening, I had a sudden moment of panic: “Good God! Is there a show tonight? Am I supposed to be at the theater?? WHAT DAY IS IT?!”
It’s 10:15 – I think someone would have called me by now if I’d missed the show.
But tomorrow – yes, tomorrow is definitely Friday, and we definitely have a show…hmm, let me just check…YES. Tomorrow at 7:30. Must not be late. Must not forget new eyelashes. Must not forget what day it is! Must not forget lines I haven’t said in five days…
Jude’s Prince Charming is coming to the show tomorrow night with Rosalind, and I’m feeling strangely nervous. He’s going to roll his eyes if he reads this, but I can’t help it. I don’t know why I feel nervous. Maybe not nervous, just – jittery. He’s never seen me perform. Jude never saw me back on stage. She was supposed to get better and come see me with her Prince. But now she’s gone, and he’s going to come see a show and sit there while we’re all, “HA HA HA HA HA! FA LA LA LA LA! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” ??? It feels rude.
Shoot, now he’s probably going to change his mind.
In other news…
* Juice is semi-sleeping through the night. I refuse to admit that 5:30 is morning. Herbie and I decided to switch off nights being on-duty, and so far, he’s slept through the night every time I’m on duty. Herbie hasn’t been so lucky.
* Apparently, Moo is going to fall in love tomorrow with a boy named Jack and get married. The wedding will take place in a very big building downtown and they will serve chocolate cake with caramel inside. Hop will be the flower girl. If Herbie and I aren’t busy, we’re allowed to come, too. No word on the wedding dress yet.
* Late last night while listening to Juice toss and turn on the monitor, I got an idea for a new blog – a second blog, actually. I’m pretty excited. I thought I even had a name for it – The Vom – after that little area in a theater that connects a backstage door to an auditorium door. But it turns out “vom” is short for “vomitory,” so I guess I’ll have to keep brainstorming.
November 17, 2010
We got a bad review.
I don’t think I’ll link to it, to protect the names of the innocent. But here’s the headline: “Bye Bye Birdie has drama-club feel.”
The critic adored our leading lady, found Mrs. Peterson hilarious, and begrudgingly admitted that Albert was good, too. But she put all that in a tiny sidebar that’s barely noticeable.
In the main article, there are accusations of blandness and lack of creativity. She claims that one joke was followed by silence, even though I’m standing right there every time that joke is delivered, and that joke always gets a laugh.
Meanwhile, I’m not sure whether to be bummed or relieved that I’m not mentioned. I don’t like to feel invisible, but I’m glad I escaped her wrath.
I’m not one of those people who believe that all critics are bitter hacks (although I do think there are very few good critics). I think critics serve a valuable purpose – providing straightforward feedback, while challenging artists to push themselves toward higher creative heights.
But I must respectfully disagree, Miss Critic. I just don’t think there’s anything bland about our show. And if it has a drama-club feel, well – everyone knows the drama club kids are always the most fun!
November 16, 2010
After a whirlwind week of tech rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and actual shows, I am finally sitting peacefully in our family room. The children are asleep (although Juice will probably not stay that way for long), and OHHHHH my wonderful husband just bought me a glass of wine, and served in the Goblet of Greatness, no less.
Also, I just ate six Oreos.
I live Bye Bye Birdie all day and all night long. I play Bye Bye Birdie with Moo all day (she has solved the show’s main conflict – Kim should just kiss Conrad Birdie and keep it a secret from her boyfriend Hugo, and then everyone will be happy… is this a glimpse of future teenage Moo??). Then I act out Bye Bye Birdie on stage in the evening. And then I dream Bye Bye Birdie all night.
*They added a rail to the Stairs of Doom! Unfortunately, the rail is too short for me to reach. But I have not tumbled down yet. Hurrah!
*Making an audience laugh makes you feel like the most powerful person on Earth.
*The Table of Extreme Confusion: there is a scene in which I clear the table of all its breakfast trappings while prattling on and on. After much back and forth, I was assured that the table would be pre-set by the backstage crew. But up until our first night with an audience, it was never set. That night before the show, I tracked down our one backstage crew member and asked her about it. “Oh, you want it PRE-set?!” she asked. YES. Yes I do, please?? So now the table is always pre-set, tra-la! (although I always crawl onto the set before our scene to check, all sneaky-like), but I still have the task of getting all the things OFF the table while remembering my lines and trying to catch my breath after a dance number. It’s always an adventure, and I love it.
*I also love having a tug-of-war over fake fried eggs with my fake husband Harry. Harry is a fantastic fake-husband, and is turning into a pretty great (not-fake) friend, too. Another reminder that one of the best things about being in a show is the friends you make.
* This show marks my first experience with false eyelashes. I avoided them previously, because, well – eek! But everybody in the cast seemed to be wearing them, and I had a pair that I bought for my last show but was too chicken to wear. So on the evening of our first show, I went into our bathroom to get ready and pulled out the eyelashes. Moo followed me in and climbed up on the stepstool to witness the makeup-spackling process, as she always does. “What are THOSE?” she asked, spying the black squiggles in the pretty pink case. “Fake eyelashes,” I replied. “To make my eyes look bigger on stage.” And because I could not let my daughter think I was a wimp, I picked one up, squeezed on the glue, and squiiiished it onto my eye. “Oooooooooh,” said Moo. At first, I didn’t like them – they made me so aware of blinking. But the next night I couldn’t wait to get them back on. They make me feel like I’m a real actress, and not just a mom with a fun hobby.
But right now, I’m happy to be just-a-mom, with two (still!) sleeping children and a real husband half-asleep on the couch. My hair is clean and conditioned and grateful for a break from the Aqua Net, and my tights and leotard are waiting for a much-needed trip through the washer. I’m counting the hours until our next show on Friday, but I’ve also never been so excited to clean the house.
Would it be weird to sleep in fake eyelashes?
Photos courtesy Vangelis Productions/Jeremy Andorfer
April 14, 2009
So it turns out Guffman – two Guffmans, actually – did show up to our little show, and they published their opinions of our attempt at creating musical theatre magic.
Review #1: A rave! We’re so amazing, Godiva should sell us in chocolate.
Review #2: The critic seemed rather confused by the concept of a musical “revue.” Complained that there was no plot. Um, no. Music revues, by definition, do not have plots, my dear madam. Also, she did not like our tamborines.
Comments about Mama: Ahem. I have, apparently, “pizzazz, spunk, and sparkle.” Also, I am “leggy.”
Personally, I have always felt very pizzazzy. It’s so nice to have this confirmed by an impartial third party.