June 29, 2009
I received a sweet surprise yesterday at Tempe Little Theatre’s end-of-season party – an award with a guy on it who looks like he might have a bad tummyache, but actually he’s taking a bow. My name is engraved on it and everything! I even had to make a speech! I thought about thanking Herbie, but after all we were in a small community room, not the Shrine Auditorium, and I thought people might roll their eyes. I won the award for best actress in a featured role, for my little role as the crazed stage manager in “Kiss Me Kate” last fall.
To drop the ironic detachment for just a moment – it’s just so incredible to me that for so many years, I believed the theatre world was as impenetrable as, oh…the UCLA Medical Center last Thursday? Complete with angry guards ready to beat me down upon approach. I have found the opposite – theatre groups that have welcomed me, encouraged me, and even given me awards to boot. I’m trying not to think about all the years I wasted sitting at home thinking it was such a scary world. I’ll just enjoy my little tummyache man instead.
Looking ahead, Herbie says that I should audition for as many shows as I like and not worry about him and Moo. (Herbie is a pretty wonderful guy.) But I feel like I should try to get myself on some sort path that would lead to making money, not that my hazy plan (writing?? oh yeah, big moneymaker) is a surefire hit. I’ve been struggling the last few months, missing the security of having a quest, knowing my purpose and even having a handy-dandy set of rules to follow. Now I’m twisting – enjoying Mommyhood but feeling a whole lot of blankness all around me. What’s next, little tummyache man? Do tell, do tell.
February 18, 2009
Highlights of Last Night’s Rehearsal:
* Costume Fitting! Buh-bye tiny shorts, hello fringe skirt. I practically squealed when they said the word “fringe.” Oh, the fringe and I have a long-standing love affair. I would wear fringe every day if I could, but I think I’d get my food stuck in it all the time. And nobody wants yogurt-caked fringe. Other costume news: Shiny satin! Sparkly jackets! Sparkly sparkles, and glittery glitter! Roller skates with pom-poms, strappy silver shoes, and french-cut leotards! (Must schedule bikini wax…)
* Wireless Mics! (mikes?) This place is the real deal. Everyone in the cast (including the college sophomore) nodded knowingly when the costume designer mentioned she’d include “mic packs” in our leotards, and I’m thinking, “Whaaaa?” I guess that means this time everyone in the audience will be able to hear us, and I should not swear under my breath. Does that mean I can’t swear in the wings, either?
* Rehearsal Space! Although the theatre’s budget is big enough for custom french-cut leotards with built-in mic packs, we will be rehearsing in an “unfinished” building. I hope “unfinished” means “we’re just finishing up the paint job,” and not “please try not to disturb the homeless squatters.” We were told to dress warmly. Perhaps I’d better bring some blankets for the homeless, as well. I hope they like my singing.
* Quick Intro of the Cast! Duckie – the veteran character actor. Looks like Jon Cryer, which the director pointed out repeatedly. Don’t know if this drives him crazy or not. Ricky – theatre major at ASU. This is his second show, just like me, you know, the 34-year-old. Sigh. Julie, with the voice of an angel, who has two boys in grade school and who, like me, started visibly twitching to get home when the director made noises about ending our pow-wow. And last, Blaze, the jazz singer who is about 7 feet tall, always dressed to the nines and always wearing a funky hat. I feel like such a schlub around her that yesterday, I spent a bunch of money on clothes at Target (what a splurge!) during a quick stop for bananas. I miss having time to shop.
* As we left the meeting and walked to our cars, Duckie said he recognized me from “Kiss Me Kate.” According to Duckie, I was very “expressive” and also, it “looked like you were really into it.” Um. Is that a compliment?
Have a very expressive evening, everyone.
January 18, 2009
Hey! That actually went a little better than “I didn’t die!”
In fact, that audition may have actually gone pretty well!
I was a complete mess beforehand, pacing back and forth in the hall, tap dancing nervously – and then I remembered Kate Winslet – “Gather.” So I mentally grabbed the fragments of my mind that were flying all out of control and reined them in. I took a deep breath, and then they called my name.
As soon as I walked in the door to the audition room, I felt fine. Sure, I still didn’t know if I was going to be able to hit the right notes, but I remembered something important as the director and musical director greeted me: People are generally nice. These folks are not setting me up for failure, and they really don’t want to laugh and point fingers at me. They want me to do well.
So I handed over my headshot and resume (“Nice headshot!” said the director - Thanks Rosalind!) and gave my music to the pianist. The director looked over my resume for a minute, commenting on AMDA and my numerous dance classes. “Gather, gather, gather!” I thought. I decided not to include 15-year-old theatre credits on my resume. Instead, I put a little sentence at the top about how I was giving this whole ding-darn theatre thang (no, that’s not what I wrote) another shot, and included just “Kiss Me Kate.” The director skipped down to the “Special Skills” section on my resume and laughed out loud. “Listen to her special skills,” she said. “Dancing in high heels, staying far away from backstage drama, making my 2-year-old laugh, rocky road brownies.” They all laughed. Whew! I thought maybe that was too cutesy, but I’ll take a laugh anyway I can get it.
Finally, I sang. I was doing pretty well, and then the keyboard shorted out right before my big money notes. They spent a few minutes fixing the keyboard, and then asked me to sing the song again. Then they asked me to sing another song. And then the director said she’d like to hear me sing yet another song.
“One from the show?” I said hopefully. “I’m pretty familiar with ‘Cabaret,’ or ‘Colored Lights.’”
They picked “Colored Lights,” which thank God I had downloaded just yesterday and listened to over and over again. It’s a lovely song and in the sweet spot for my voice – I think I sounded – well, not bad.
“So what else do you do?” asked the director.
“I’m a mom,” I said. “And…I write. And take dance classes whenever I can fit them in,” I answered. Pretty boring. I should have said something witty. Or I should have gushed about how I would be so excited to work with her (this is the woman that choreographed the movie Mary Poppins! The chimney sweeps, for God’s sake!!). But I just smiled and felt like I was 12 years old, and she asked if I was available for callbacks tomorrow night.
“YES,” I said, dripping saliva.
And for a moment, I really thought she was going to tell me to come to callbacks right then. But instead, she kicked me out, “So we can talk about you.”
Unlike the last time I left an audition, I did not feel the immediate need to stuff my face with jelly donuts.
That’s got to be a big improvement, right?
Off to Audition #2!
December 3, 2008
As we sat in the Green Room eating pizza pre-show one night, the General paused between bites of pepperoni to tell me he enjoyed my blog. (I wonder how he’ll like it now that I’m talking about him?) The General found my blog during an innocent search on Google, and very kindly complimented me on undertaking this quest.
“I admire you for doing this while your daughter is still so young,” he said. He himself gave up theatre to devote himself to his children, and jumped back on stage after they were all grown up. Now he does three or four shows a year. He wasn’t so sure, he told me, that he made the right decision. He wanted to be there completely for his kids, but he has some regrets about his choice.
It’s kind of an loaded question – if you give up something you love to be with your children, are you helping or hurting them? Or should the question be, are you helping or hurting yourself? I have no idea. On one hand, Moo loved going to my show (three times!), talking about my costumes, and playing “mommy’s show” with her toys. She even has some new dance moves as a result of all this show biz business.
But on the other hand, there’s bedtime tantrum baby, all-night screaming, and cries of, “No, Mommy, Nooo!” when I left for rehearsal. I’m missing things – she’s turning into a toddler in fits and bursts, and there were times when I’d leave my baby at 6 in the evening and find a little girl in her bed the next morning. My baby is growing, and I’m loathe to miss a moment.
But I am more whole. Herbie has noticed that I’m more confident. I’m dancing again. I tell more jokes. I follow my instincts. I no longer feel ashamed. I no longer feel such great regret. I am hopeful and excited for the adventures that lay ahead. And that’s a woman I think my daughter could look up to.
December 1, 2008
Tools of the trade. Hey! There’s my ugly green hat! (Moo loved it.)
My stretching buddy, Molly:
Standing around, hoping people tell us we’re awesome:
I don’t believe it! It’s General Harrison Howell! (And my Shakespearean couch dress.)
Goodbye, Tempe Center for the Arts…
…Gotta get back to my Moo.
December 1, 2008
I got home last night around 11 after a long day with two shows to find that Moo was waking up screaming about every hour. Herbie and I crossed our fingers and started watching Saturday Night Live, and then at about 1:30, it all went to hell. Moo woke up screaming and adamantly refused to go back to bed. Yes, she has ANOTHER cold. I am resigned to the fact that we must either be germ magnets, or terrible parents, or both. Herbie and I each took turns rocking her and singing, and she’d fall sweetly asleep, only to kick, writhe and SCREAM the second we put her back in bed. By 4 a.m., I was ready to throw in the towel and let her sleep with us in our bed. But Herbie refused to give in – he is so much better than I in these situations – I am quick to fall into utter despair, whereas he can just keep rocking and rocking her all night long. Moo finally slept for a couple hours while we tossed and turned, and she woke up at 7:30.
And not only did Herbie bear most of the decidedly un-fun parenting weight during the night, he then insisted that I sleep a couple more hours since I had a show to do.
How did I find such a kind man?
So we all recovered somewhat, Moo settled down to play robots with a box of Kleenex stationed next to her, and I zoomed out the door rather late (after my hairdryer broke, gah!) for our final matinee performance.
I was a few miles down the road when I noticed a little piece of paper flapping under my windshield. I pulled over and yanked it off, expecting an ad for lawn service. Instead, I read, “Your right rear tire is very low.” I took a glance – oh no. VERY low. I-give-up-rolling-my-rubber-in-circles-for-you-lady low.
15 minutes later, Herbie and Moo picked me up, and we raced to the Tempe Center for the Arts. I stumbled into the dressing room, spackled on some makeup and was singing in front of the audience before you could even say “VUNDERBAH!” But then, wonder of wonders, we actually had a pretty great show. The Stoli Vanilla in my flask may have helped…
I couldn’t believe how fast it was all over. Kate wept through most of her songs, and I was rather bemused by her emotionality until the end of “Too Darn Hot,” when I suddenly got choked up between “yip’s” and “woo’s.” No more dancing? Alas.
Then, suddenly, we took our last bow. And about an hour later, after striking the set (is that what you call it?) and learning all about c-clamps and how to attach a safety cable to a very heavy stage light onto the rail of a catwalk (yikes!), I trudged out the door for the last time. And I admit, I turned around, gazed down the long backstage hallway and allowed myself a moment of utter sap, and of pride. I think I did good work there. And I hope it’s not another 14 years until I’m back.
I was halfway down the path outside when a mother and her daughter flagged me down. They had attended Childsplay’s performance of the Velveteen Rabbit earlier and had left the little girl’s book in the bathroom. Did I know if there was someone who could look for it? I led them through the stage door and related their plight to the security guard. The lobby was all locked up, he told her, and he couldn’t leave his post. What if I went and looked? I asked. He gave me the go-ahead, and I spent 10 minutes searching through all the bathroom stalls. Sadly, I returned empty-handed, but they took it in stride. The mother thanked me again and again, effusing, “That was SO SO nice of you!”
She didn’t guess how much I understood her plight – how much I understand the desperate need to retrieve your daughter’s beloved book, or bunny, or wind-up chicken. She didn’t know - I’m a mommy first. Everything else comes second. Everything.
Which means that I should probably wash off this makeup, and go check on my (FINALLY!) sleeping child.
November 30, 2008
Oh, by the way, I have an audition next week.
I thought I’d take the month of December off, but although the idea of baking cookies every week, flipping through catalogs, and watching and re-watching “Elf” sounds divine, I started to feel a little guilty at the idea. I mean, I’m on a friggin’ QUEST, right? Er, right. So I’m auditioning for a Neil Simon play (no singing? no dancing? eep!), “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” for Desert Foothills Theatre.
What does this mean?
1. I don’t have a headshot yet, so I have to bring a snapshot of myself instead. “Hey, do we have any pictures of my head lying around?” I asked Herbie. “Uhh, probably not. Do you want me to take a picture of your head?” he asked. So sweet.
2. I need a resume. I have no idea how to write a resume with one item (Kiss Me Kate) on it. Maybe I could use really big font. I just googled “theatre resume no experience” and found some advice from good ol’ Yahoo Answers: “Put on ur resume your acting classes if u dont even have that then u better take some classes and get some experience cause lots of places dont want to deal with u unless u have experience. P.S. I am a casting agent in Nevada.” Lemme guess, in Reno? Very helpful.
3. I have to prepare myself for another potential nervous breakdown at the audition. No singing at this audition, though (whew), just “cold reads,” which means reading from the script. Not a whole lot of preparation I can do for that, beyond reading the script.
4. I can ask more experienced theatre professionals about dealing with auditions. Let’s ask Kate, the star of our show! Kate, what’s the key to getting the part? Kate: “Here’s what you do – after your song, you pump your chest… just push out your boobs for a moment. Always works.” Well! I won’t be singing a song, but I just may try that trick anyway!
November 26, 2008
Every night right around pajama time, Moo usually starts digging into the (giantic, overflowing, couch-eating) pile of books in the playroom and picks out some favorites. Last night was no different, except that she eschewed her usual selections of Froggy’s Best Christmas and Goodnight Moon for some more mature material:
Don’t you want to read Fairy Colors?
“No! I read this!”
Apparently, in Moo’s world, The Vagina Monologues is a book about “Mommy’s show.” I have no idea why. She insisted we read it before bed, so I flipped awkwardly through (there aren’t even any pictures! Er, thank God), rambling nonsense about my show while my eyes scanned explicit phrases. So it went like this:
Me, fake-reading to Moo: “And then Mommy put on her funny costume so she could do her show!”
Eyes scanning: “Be my clitoris. Be my clitoris.”
Me: “And Mommy danced and sang, ‘too darn hot! too darn hot!’
Eyes scanning: “And we sang the vulva song, and danced the vulva dance…”
Me: “And then everybody clapped and said, ‘Yay!’ and Mommy took off her vagina, uhhh funny costume so she could come out and give Moo a big big hug!”
Eyes scanning: “Thong underwear. Who thought that up? Moves around all the time, gets stuck in the back of your vagina, real crusty butt.”
ACK! Me: “Theeee End.”
Moo: Again! Again!
Ohhh no, my crazy daughter. I mean, you have to at least be able to correctly identify your own bellybutton before I start teaching you about vaginas.
November 25, 2008
Last Time I Washed My Hair: I don’t remember.
Approximate Amount of Accumulate Hairspray in Hair, in Grams: ….72? How much is a gram?
Cause of Bruises: 2 bruises due to exuberant dancing, 1 bruise due to walking into bed, 1 bruise due to Moo using me as a jungle gym
Things Left Behind: Old Bianca’s character shoes. I’m guessing she won’t be coming back for those.
Guilt Level Over Dissing Old Bianca On Blog: ….about a 7.5
State of the House: In mad disarray, but cheerfully so, with Christmas boxes and jingle bells strewn aboot.
Moo’s Current Obsession: Robots (Herbie is thrilled!)
According to Moo, What Do You Call that Heavenly Creature with Wings and a Halo?: Angel Robot
What’s the Best Cure-All for Sore Muscles and Theatre Exhaustion?: At night, Haagen-Dazs and a foot rub from Herbie. In the morning, Bailey’s and mini powdered donuts.
Older Gentleman in Front Row at Sunday Matinee: VERY alarmed at how much I kept sipping on my flask during the show. It’s just water, sir! Well, for now…heh heh heh.
November 24, 2008
Me to Fred, right before I ran on stage following a quick costume change: “Does my hair look stupid?”
Fred: “…Does it matter?”
Me: *Shock! Outrage!*
Minutes later, after our scene:
Me: “Does it ‘matter?!’”
Fred: “What? You’re Rosie, the craaazy stage manager!”
Me: “I’m still a WOMAN!”
Backstage, waiting for my “showgirl” entrance. The General harrumphing and coughing up a small kitten in the corner.
Me: Are you okay?
The General: This is what you have to look forward to as you get older.
Me: Oh great.
The General: It’s only going to get worse, my dear. Eventually, it’s all about phlegm management.