February 24, 2010
So I got a message from Tempe Little Theatre yesterday, asking if I would like to join the cast of Sweet Charity, like NOW. Apparently three girls have had to drop out due to medical reasons and so they’re a tiny bit frantic, trying to fill out the cast before they open in about a month.
They’d heard that the director had some reservations about my pregnancy (so is THAT why? it’s not that I suck?), but if I felt I was up to it…
I said no. No, thank you, because even though Katy Choreographer’s involved, I’m not feeling the vibe with this show. And because I am getting big quickly, and my back hurts. And I’m tired. Oh, and I’m having a BABY. And I should probably get ready for that. Say, dive into that office/disaster and turn it into a baby’s room, which will definitely take every last minute of the next few months (especially because I would so much rather watch Lost and ice dancing than wade through piles of…. I don’t even KNOW what’s in there).
But OH I miss theatre. I miss being on a stage, memorizing lines, learning dance steps. I miss being me, and not Mommy all the time. I love being a mother more than anything, but now that it’s been almost a year since I’ve been in a show (sigh), I feel my identity being swallowed up by this little daughter of mine, so hungry for me and my attention all the time. I’m a good mother, but I think I was an even better mother when I was more…filled with myself. And now there’s another little hungry one on the way, and in a few short months I will be swallowed whole. Willingly, of course. Happily consumed by motherhood – but counting the days (weeks, months), until I can audition again.
October 7, 2009
(That’s the “you lose!” sound, not the sound of me crying.)
I know, I know, I’m going to have to get used to rejection, take my medicine, it’s good for me blah blah but it still BLOWS THE BIG ONE. It’s possible that I may have been a little high on my horse – riding high on all my good feedback, my Zoni nomination – so high that I forgot I only have two credits on my resume. That’s not terribly impressive to a director. And maybe I just didn’t audition very well, I don’t know. I’m sure I could use a lot more practice.
I just hope this rejection doesn’t portend a coming trend.
Getting in the car right after I got the “sorry, sucka” email, I decided to tell Moo the news, because I think it’s good for her to see that we all have to deal with disappointments and frustrations:
Mama: “I’m a little sad, Moo. I found out I’m not going to be in that doggie show.”
Moo: “Your audition, Mommy?”
Mama: “Yep, everybody auditioned, and they decided they didn’t want me to be in the show.”
Moo: “Ohhhh, Mommy.”
Mama: “It’s okay! I’ll be in another show. It’s somebody else’s turn this time.”
Moo: “Maybe a real doggy, Mommy!”
Damn. I should have gone full-dog.
October 7, 2009
Haven’t heard anything yet, but there was a second round of auditions Tuesday night, so I would guess the director wouldn’t let people know until Wednesday – actually, she said Wednesday afternoon at the latest. And for a nice change, she contacts everybody by email, telling them yay or nay. That’s nice! I much prefer obsessively checking my email over constant silence from my taunting phone.
Between visits to my in-box, I spent possibly the most awesome afternoon of my life watching Michael Jackson videos with the choreographer of “Mary Poppins.” Even that sentence is awesome. I visited my former director Mary because she was gifting me a copy of “Mary Poppins” (after I told her that Moo loves the music and we don’t have a copy). Her house is plastered with pictures of the amazings things she’s done and people she’s met – she was even on the cover of Life Magazine! (That one hangs in the bathroom – hee!) There was also a picture of the 1993 Superbowl halftime show with Michael Jackson, which she choreographed. !!!!! Oh, I love this woman. So we started talking about Michael Jackson, and then there we were on her couch watching Beat It, Thriller, Bad, and even the unedited version of Black and White. But she saved the best for last – a performance from the 1993 American Music Awards which I’d never seen before. We watched it three times.
Seems like performers these days cram every damn thing into their live shows – circus acts, giant blow-up clown puppets, gymnastic equipment – but maybe all you really need is talent like that, choreography like that, and some cool lighting. I think I’m just going to keep watching that until my email arrives.
*P.S. – If you can dance like that, I don’t give a shit if you lip-synch.
October 6, 2009
Well – dare I say, that almost went…rather smoothly?
Sure, the stomach cramps appeared about 40 minutes before I had to leave, but Moo gave me three magic marbles for good luck, which she insisted I put in my pocket. And I think those little good-luck marbles did the trick, because once I got in the car, I felt nervous, sure, but not where’s-the-barf-bag nervous.
I mean, yes, I think my hands were visibly shaking during the audition (which consisted of pairing up with fellow-auditionees to read scenes from the script), but I don’t think my acting was bad. Maybe it wasn’t good, but I don’t think anyone was shaking their head at me pityingly. I hope.
And after all that worry, no improv! (Even though I studied doggy videos on YouTube all afternoon!) Maybe the director is saving it for the callbacks.
I have no idea if I’ll get called back or not. The director said she doesn’t usually call back more than three people per role, and even though there were only three other women auditioning for the “Sylvia” role, there will probably be many more at tonight’s auditions. I prefer to go on the first night and just get it over with.
It was interesting to see the different approaches we auditionees took to interpreting Sylvia the dog. One woman went full-dog, with her hair in poodly pigtails, even growling and whimpering. Two others went, I’d say, about half-dog, and then I was probably about one-third dog. What’s the director looking for? Full-dog, half-dog, who knows? What height, what color hair? (We all wore our hair curly, of course – Sylvia is a poodle mix). But it seemed clearer to me than ever before that at auditions, the director has something specific in mind - a look, a personality, a hairstyle – and I either fit what she’s looking for or I don’t. Nuthin’ personal.
I felt so relatively normal afterwards that I didn’t even have to stop on the way home for a doughnut!
Although I kind of wish I had…
September 26, 2009
The quest continues!
October 5 and 6, Tempe Little Theatre is holding auditions for “Sylvia,” a play by A.R. Gurney about a pair of empty-nesters and the dog that comes between them. That’s right, a non-musical! And since I’m a bit young for the empty-nester wife, I’ll be shooting for the role of the dog, a poodly mutt originally played by Sarah Jessica Parker on Broadway. (A production, incidentally, that I saw while living in NY – Matthew Broderick was sitting in the row in front of me! It’s good to have a roommate who works at the theatre putting on the play.) SJP was delightful, and I have always remembered the line where she looks adoringly at her master and says, “I think you’re God, if you want to know.” The key to Sylvia is that Sylvia isn’t played as a dog running around on four legs. She IS a dog, but she mostly keeps the doggie behavior to a minimum. Instead, she represents the frisky new lady in her master’s life, creating a rather loony and fraught love triangle.
Of course, there’s the small problem that I am NOT a fan of dogs. I mean, I can appreciate the idea of dogs, and I always cry during that scene in “Armageddon” where the mom and son are hiding in the little nook in the freeway tunnel and the dog comes leaping to safety over like five cars while a fireball explodes behind him. Sniff.
But in fact, there are only two dogs I have ever liked. One, Che, my childhood friend’s Doberman who must have been about 80-years-old and was the sweetest, most well-behaved dog I’ve ever known. Two, Peekie, my Grammie’s little black poodle, also old and sweet. I like old, sweet dogs who do not jump on me, slobber on me, growl at me, JUMP ON ME, or live next door and bark all the freaking time.
Confession: I am a bird person. So I guess my audition may be a little avian-based. But as long as I remember not to flap my wings, I think I could capture a basic sort of petsy whimsy. Right?
But here’s my real dilemma – the audition notice says that the audition will consist of cold readings from the script (I have the script in my hand and plan to read it at least three more times, so I’m not too worried about that) and… improvisation. !!!! The horror! I HATE improv…almost more than dogs. No, definitely more than dogs. My crazy husband is so good at improvising that he was actually part of two successful improv troupes in Seattle – but me – I freeze. I do not possess that just-let-go gene, which allows you to dismiss any cares about what people think of you and say and do whatever your instincts tell you. Argh. Right or wrong, I really do care deeply what people think of me, want them to like me, and tend to cower under a table whimpering when I think I’ve disappointed someone…just… like…a DOG?? HEY! Hey hey! There may be hope for me after all.
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.
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!