A FEW SCREEN SHOTS OF ME PLAYING “MOTHER” IN 3-D THEATRICALS’ PRODUCTION OF RAGTIME
Essentially, I can’t be a good blogger when I’m distracted by good things around me.
Although, there’s much to talk about. So here I sit, drinking my freshly ground and brewed vanilla-coconut coffee, burning a vanilla-peppermint candle, and my vanilla-colored dog snuggled on my running pants behind me, forcing myself to focus and write.
So, first off, 2013 ended pretty busy after most of a year going by with nothing. I played Christine Colgate in the ARTS production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which was followed by Bruce Kimmel’s Pure Imagination musical review and then got cast in Musical Theatre West’s production of The Music Man.
But this is the story of how I ended up doing Pure Imagination.
So I got a Facebook message from Karen, someone who I worked with my first year in California and hadn’t seen since, and she asked me if I could cover one of the sopranos in Bruce Kimmel’s show Pure Imagination for Pacific Resident Theatre. Karen thought of me through another girl named Jen, who I hadn’t seen in four years either. A truly small world, the acting biz is. The show was a musical review of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse songs, so I knew I could handle the style.
I had two full weeks of memorizing 70 pages of music and movement and one rough rehearsal. No problem, right? I’m a fast memorizer. And Newley & Bricusse songs, let me TELL you, are extremely wordy. I mean, lyrics that don’t repeat themselves…as in you can’t just fall back and relax into the “chorus” of the song…because there ISN’T one. Very Stephen Sondheim-esque. Not to mention one of the most stressful songs was “Typically English” where I had to switch from English to German to Russian to American and back to English again, fast and furious-like with words that a tongue could easily trip and fall on. The kind of song where IF you did mess up, there would be no time to stop and fix and cover or fake. You would just have to mumble your way until you grabbed back on. A very fun song. Two weeks of learning and one rough rehearsal made for a very nerve-wracking song.
But was I gonna let anyone know how nervous I was? HELL no. I said yes to this understudying experience and I wasn’t going to even blink a nervous glint!
But oh was I…oh man was I.
Ever since I had a nightmare audition come true, where I started singing a song I had had memorized since 4th grade, but somehow horribly forgot all the words to, I’ve been shakily uncertain of my brain memory capacity.
So, I guess you could say this show was my ticket to personal redemption. If I can remember ALL of this, I can fly again so to speak.
I had my rehearsal, the Tuesday before my Thursday opening performance. I had slip ups and mild mistakes, but that was okay. I wanted to go blank on this day. If there was ever a mess up, it needed to be during rehearsal.
I should also mention that I’m a really bad perfectionist. The kind that will rip myself apart before anyone has the blinking chance to. Like the it’s okay you don’t need to tell me that sucked…I already know it…trying to fix now… While the other person says I didn’t realize it did…oh wait, maybe that one part… And I go YEAH I KNOW…I TOLD YOU!
So Thursday comes around and I have a callback for The Music Man which I can’t get to because I have to be at the theater for Pure Imagination and I’m bummed because it was my FIRST callback for a production company that I’d been trying to get into for 4 years. How I finagled my callback situation is another bloggery to be told…
I’m at the theater quickly going through every song and movement in my head an hour before “curtain.” This was a make it or break situation. If you mess up you die moment. There’s no turning back. You can’t cry to mommy. Can’t run and hide behind the curtains. This is a true Understudy feeling and my first Understudy experience. I’ve had people understudy ME before, and now I get how they’ve felt.
Thank God everyone I was working with was super nice and supporting. Even the soprano I was covering for had left me an encouraging little note on the dressing table which made me feel a little better. Nobody knew, mind you, just HOW sick to my stomach I was. I was either going to throw up or shat my pants…either way, I was bad-gassy. Being that I’ve never been nervous before a performance, ‘twas a new feeling indeed.
Then it was time.
Stage Manager announces “places,” lights go out, we move to our positions on stage, lights go up and the singing begins.
My brain had never been more aware of every movement and key change and lyric and tempo and emotional expression I think ever in my life. There were times where it felt like my legs were as stiff as a robot. I really hoped that I was the only one that noticed that. I kept telling myself, remember or die, remember or die. I would look out into the audience, but I didn’t see anything except the script in my head. It was “Typically English” time, and I prayed to God that I could somehow remember everything, at the same time the memory of my nightmare audition pushing itself into my head trying to sabotage my courage. Amazingly I did remember, without one stumble or stutter. I swear that’s a miracle in of itself. And then the next song and the next came and went without a fumble. Before I knew it, the show was over, I was bowing, smiling, and thanking God that I lived through it all.
Number 1, my boyfriend, took me out for drinks that night. I felt so elated I could barely have one. I think I continued to shake all night…considering the amount of energy I just utilized to survive the show.
It was one of those experiences that was awesome…but you wouldn’t want to do again. Cuz I don’t know if I COULD do it again. I’m still amazed that I lived through it. I’m writing this shaking inside just thinking about it.
I think it’s a testament to the human brain. Man, the things it can do when you put your mind to it…
Anyhow, you actors who understudy all the time…my hat’s off to you!
To see what Bruce Kimmel thought of all this, follow this link here http://christannarowader.com/news/
Hey guys! I’m understudying Jane Noseworthy in the musical review Pure Imagination featuring the music of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Come see me if you can! Performances are down in Venice Beach. The dates I’ll be singing are Dec 12th – 15th, 20th, 22nd & Jan 10th, 12th
Follow link for ticket and date info: http://www.pacificresidenttheatre.com/pure-imagination/
How fitting it is the older I get, the more I can finally understand the lyrics to songs and truly relate in ways I never imagined I would.
For the Salute to Valor concert, which took place in Oahu, Hawaii on Fourth of July weekend, my dad gave me a solo to do for one of the performances.
“Great,” I grumbled, “so you’re gonna make me learn a new song on top of all the other music I’m working on for the concert PLUS the musical I’m in after that.”
“You’ll be fine,” Dad said with his usual persuasion. “You’re a fast learner.”
“Yeah, but I wanted to be stress-free and completely lazy on my first trip to Hawaii,” I argued.
“It’s really easy, Baby,” he said. “Besides, I need someone to fill the spot. You’re the only one who can do it.”
That’s the usual persuasion: you’re the only one.
“Fine, what it is?” I said.
Dad gave me the solo “Wade in the Water” which, after I quickly downloaded it off of iTunes, attained the music, the song WAS easy to learn and a lot of fun to sing. It was upbeat and had a lot of belting rifts I could throw in there just for fun. A real great gospel type.
As soon as I got the song down and memorized, Mom called.
“Hey, Baby?” she said, all calm and charming-like. “We’re going to have you sing ‘Red, Red Rose’ instead.”
“What?! That’s Dad’s song. I thought he was doing it?” I said.
“He can’t. After doing Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, your Dad can’t get back his high notes so soon before the Salute to Valor concert. And you know ‘Red, Red Rose’ is all about floaty high notes,” Mom said.
“Yeah he can. He can do it,” I argued.
“No, Baby. Trust me, your dad’s not too happy about it either,” she said. “But you’re the only one who can do it right, other than him.”
“It’ll be great! You’ll do it beautifully,” she said.
I agreed, grudgingly of course. I didn’t want to mess around with Dad’s song. A singer always has THEIR song, and “Red Rose” was Dad’s. I have a few that I’ve claimed for myself.
So I quickly downloaded the song, got the music and learned it as fast as I could. Wasn’t too hard, considering I had heard Dad sing it plenty throughout my childhood.
Once we arrived in Hawaii, we had one day of rehearsal for the small A-capella group run by my father. I had decided to make the song my own. I abandoned the classical technique normally used for folk songs like ‘Red Rose’ because I wanted people to really understand what I was saying. I realized, after I had learned the music, how much I could relate to the lyrics. Of course, Dad wanted me to soften the consonants
But I didn’t. I’m that stubborn. This is what I sang.
O my love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June.
O my love is like a melody that’s sweetly played in tune.
As fair thou art, my bonnie lass, so deep in love am I. And I will love thee still, my dear, till all the seas gang dry.
Till all the seas gang dry, my dear, till all the seas gang dry.
And I will love thee still, my dear, till all the seas gang dry.
Till all the seas gang dry, my dear, and the rocks melt with the sun. And I will love thee still, my dear, while the sands of life shall run.
But fair thee well, my only love, oh fair thee well a while. And I will come again, my love. Tho ‘twere ten thousand mile.
Tho ‘twere ten thousand mile, my love. Tho ‘twere ten thousand mile.
And I will come again, my love, tho ‘twere ten thousand mile.
Anyone who’s lost a love, or is far away from their love, can really feel this song. I know I did. That’s what was so fun about it. Knowing what I was saying, feeling it come from inside, and letting it out in one pure sound.
So I’m thinking of claiming this song too…as long as Dad let’s me borrow it.
It’s been a wild two weeks. With fall coming around and a handful of auditions piling up, an actress can take her pick. I had been planning on auditioning for the musical Annie at Cabrillo Music Theatre for the part of Lily, Rooster’s girlfriend. A fun part, silly and slutty. And then I got sick. The coughing-up-a-lung type of sick.
Screw it, I said. A cold isn’t gonna stop me! So I went in full of cough drops and drowning in bottles of water. I also had decided to sing a new song, which meant I had just learned it in two days. Not the smartest of things to do, but that’s my style.
So I sang, remembered my words, and managed to keep the cough down. Left the room with positive feedback, and let loose a hacking cough down the hallway.
Got called back for Lily and a Boylan sister a few days later.
AND a few days later, still sick and feeling like my lungs were crushing themselves, I decided to throw in another audition: Stephen Sondheim’s Company at CLO of South Bay. I had nothing else to do that day, so I said, why not!
Walked in, sang a song I hadn’t done in a long time. They asked me to sing another piece, which is always a good sign. I frantically flipped through pages in my music folder and found a more upbeat song. After I finished, they asked me to come in the next day for callbacks. That was the quickest callback I had ever gotten in my life. Kinda threw me off for a second.
And left the room again hacking.
The callback for Company went really well and so did the Annie callback. Although, the Annie callback was much more interesting. I ended up singing, reading, and dancing for Lily, THEN stayed to sing for one of the Boylan sisters and dance again, THEN ended up staying till the end with one other girl to sing a random song we didn’t even know. We learned it quickly, sang it, and then I got asked to come back the next day to read for Grace Farrell, a character I thought I had no chance at. Grace, if you remember the 1980s film version of Annie, is the secretary of Warbucks who takes Annie from the orphanage. A large role and one they were looking to cast an Equity actress in. And I’m just a lowly non-union-er.
So, needless to say, I was shocked. Just the fact they had me read for her is surprising.
And that’s where I’m at. Three callbacks in and I’m now in waiting for both of these amazing shows. I’ll know by Friday what decisions have been made.
Funny Girl has closed and I’ve already jumped into rehearsals for Sound of Music at Cabrillo Music Theater. It’s nice to be able to do a show so close to home! Going from Polly, a sexy but stupid showgirl, to a reverent nun is the way it is in showbiz!
Ooh! and Hawaii is coming up in a little over a week. It’ll be my first trip and I am stoked! I’ll be doing two concerts there: one mini concert on the 3rd of July, where I’ll have the Irish solo “My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose,” and the big “Salute to Valor” concert on the 4th.
But that’s not what I’m REALLY excited for. I just can’t WAIT to lay at the beach with a Mai Tai in my right and a Pina Colada in my left, watching all the hot Navy Seals go by. Would it be uncouth of me to say, “I plan on getting laid in Hawaii.” And by “laid” I mean…flowers…
So I have successfully scored two auditions at the beginning of this year. One for Cabrillo Music Theater’s production of Little Shop of Horrors and one for an Industrial commercial for Canon. The music theater audition I got through myself through a simple phone call. The second, I got from my “sort of” manager (even though I’m not technically signed with her; used to be her intern).
My music theater audition was at night, and as I leave early feeling all the while very prepared and proud of myself, my car decides at that very moment to stop dead right off the freeway. Thankfully only a couple of blocks away from my destination, I call my friend Corey Donovan, who is the fastest driver I know, to come rescue me and bring me the rest of the way. At this time, I have twenty minutes before my in-time. It takes him ten. Five to push my car to a safe place and another five to whisk me to my audition. I get there right in time and sign in. I sing for the panel of directors, producers, and assistants. The pianist was slow on the rhythm of Gimme Gimme, but half way through he finally picked it up to the pace I originally wanted it.
I left happy with my audition; I did the best I thought I could do. Then I returned to my dead car, called AAA and waited an hour for help before I could go back home. My car will be the death of me, I just know it!
Audition #1: nearly late, did well, no callback.
My second audition was for the camera company, Canon. This was a much easier and stress-free audition. All I had to do was improv three different emotions/scenes focusing purely on expressions. Getting to the audition, however, was NOT stress-free. Let me just start out with Los Angeles sucks when it comes to directions and locations. I don’t have a GPS, so I rely on my Viking instincts and Google maps. In the past, I’ve had no trouble whatsoever finding places. But let me tell you! Los Angeles is definitely giving me a tough time!
Apparently as I exited the freeway, my destination was right around the corner. Google Maps tells me I need to turn right onto a street named La Cienega Pl. I am, however, on La Cienega Blvd., which is where I need to be, but I couldn’t seem to find the next street. After driving fifteen minutes further from the I-10, I finally call the Terminator (not the governor, but my manfriend), and ask him to plug in the directions into his GPS. Lo and behold, I need to turn back around. Mind you, I had left an hour early for my audition. At this point in turning around, I have twenty minutes to get to my audition.
As I make a Uee, I get stuck in some random road blockage called bumper-to-bumper traffic. OF COURSE!!! This takes me twenty minutes to get through and another five to find the warehouse/studio which is tucked down an unnamed alley behind a bunch of other unnamed warehouses. The only way I found it was making a calculated guess, the old-fashioned way of watching street numbers.
I walk in, dressed subtly as my role, a 1940’s farmer’s housewife, and sign in, apologizing for my nearly thirty minutes late to my viewing.
“You’re not the first,” the young man says. And at this point I didn’t really care. I just wanted to get it over with. Five minutes later, he ushers me in to an office room where two ladies were waiting. Both were extremely nice and encouraging, explaining to me the three scenes they wanted me to act out. The three scenes were: sitting in chair, upset about not having anything to cook for my husband and son and trying very hard not to show it; second, working hard and then noticing a beautiful sunset outside; third, just giving birth to my son and I am very happy about it.
All in all, this audition was a lot of fun because it was different from what I was used to. Albeit, a nice change of pace.
Audition #2: late, did well, got callback.
That’s it for auditions. In other news, I helped out with the premiere of Scott L. Schwartz’s Changing Hands (review coming soon), and I am also helping out with the gifting suites for the Oscar weekend. The most exciting part of that is being able to get a loan-dress. Saaahweet!
TIP: For headshots, make sure you have personality in your eyes and smile (or even your frown). You want different looks so that you can be submitted by your agent or manager having convincing different appearances. You do NOT want your expressions to be bland, plain, or boring. This is very important and many people make this mistake. It does NOT represent you well. These rules are mainly for commercial and theatrical. For print and modeling, it is okay to have the more glamorous shots (i.e. less expressive facial expressions).