Standing O

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…

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The Vom

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.

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.”

Ouch.

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!

Showtime

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.

Highlights:

*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

Good Ol’ Hugo…

November 8, 2010

…took some great pictures at rehearsal last night.

“Telephone Hour:”

Singing praises to Ed Sullivan:

Miss Gloria Rasputin, workin’ what her momma gave her:

© Vangelis Productions, Jeremy Andorfer

Tech Week

November 8, 2010

Yesterday we moved from the rehearsal space to the theater, and we finally got a glimpse of our set.  Um, there are STAIRS.  I mean, I knew, in my brain that there would be stairs.  But these STAIRS reach quite high, and have no rail, and are of rather uneven height, and EEK!  Did I mention I’m supposed to run down them to my shrieking daughter?  Did I mention I’m supposed to run down them while wearing 2-inch heels?  Or are they 3-inch?  They feel four inches high when I try to run down rail-less stairs, in heels, while attempting to act (that part’s not going so well).  Haven’t broken anything yet.  I remain hopeful.

But besides fear-of-stairs, our set is pretty cool.  Our Macafee house, and all its furniture, packs inside its own little box, just like Moo’s Fisher Price playhouse, and as we start to wear our costumes and set lights – well, it’s starting to look like a real show!

Yesterday we rehearsed from 10:30 to 7:30.  (Lots of standing around, being lit, and nervously eyeing STAIRS.)  Tonight we go from 6 to 11, with costumes and makeup.  I shall attempt to tease and spray and curl my hair into something akin to June Cleaver’s hair.

…Why do I suddenly have the urge to bake cookies and make Herbie a cocktail?

Fumbling Along

November 5, 2010

Just like it felt rude to eat cookies at Judy’s funeral reception, it feels rude to switch topics to a discussion of flitting about on stage, dancing and singing.  In fact, it feels rude to flit about on stage, period.  And yet I am able to enjoy myself – have fun, even – and then feel guilty about it later.  The fact that I am able to have fun at all says that I am doing fine, and therefore please redirect any prayers you may be saying for me toward Judy’s husband, and maybe to Rosalind, too, who was even closer to Jude than I.  But from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for all your kind words.

So it feels rude to write about my daily adventures on stage, but then I remember that Jude faithfully read my blog, even though I think sometimes it was painful for her to read about all my family activities as things got more difficult and painful in her own life.  And I also remember that she sent me an email two months before she died, after I auditioned for “Bye Bye Birdie,” which simply said, “Congratulations!  I’m so very proud of you.  Love you.” 

So I’ll keep going.

The show opens in one week.  I felt so strange at the beginning of rehearsals – the regular paralyzing apprehension, of course, with worry about Jude, and worry that the director was unhappy with me piled on top.

Our director has turned out to be this remarkable combination  – nurturing, encouraging, challenging, and demanding at the same time.  She didn’t even blink when I told her what was happening with Jude, saying, “When you have to go, just go.”  She sent me out the door with a big hug the night she died, and didn’t mind when I was missing from rehearsal for a whole week.  She’s a pretty special lady, and a talented director.

In fact, I think we’ve got a pretty great show on our hands.  Great energy, great choreography, and even some Broadway-caliber performances.  Yes, I can be a mature adult and say it – the woman cast in the lead is AMAZING, and a seriously nice person on top it.  She’s perfect in the role.  And she has a very compelling story herself, which I just discovered.  But I shouldn’t share that without asking her first.

We’re heading into tech week, and I’ll definitely write more as the show tumbles toward opening night.

When I started this blog and announced my intention to get back on stage, I think Judy may have been the least-surprised person.  Even back in high school, Jude had unwavering faith in my talent.  It’s like she always knew I’d be back on stage and was just waiting for me to figure that out for myself.  She wasn’t well enough to ever see me back on stage.  The day after my audition for this show, I visited her in the hospital.  I told her about my audition, and she asked me to sing my audition songs for her.  She had other visitors besides me, and I demurred over and over, feeling embarrassed, and finally she gave up asking.  I just felt silly – I didn’t sing songs to Jude – we sang them together.  She had a beautiful voice.

I really should have just sung the damn songs. 

Much later, when I’d already said everything I needed to say to her, I sat next to her and held her hand and sang song after song.  I don’t really know if she heard me. 

I hope so.