Understudying on the Fly

Okay, so I’ll admit, I’ve been a bad blogger for the past year or so. I’ve definitely been distracted. I blame my boyfriend. I also blame Star Wars…just cuz. And having a cute dog…Toby is cute

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!

Etc.

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/

Me singing Love Has the Longest Memory

Sami and I had an awesome duet in the show called "Where Would You Be Without Me"

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Wait, what year is this?!?!

 

JJ-Abrams-Star-Wars-Episode-7

So I haven’t written a real blog in a long, loooong time. Perhaps it’s been because I’ve been busy. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been lonely. Or maybe my phone has taken more awesome precedence over my computer because it does pretty much anything. Or maybe I’ve just been distracted. Either way, it’s not a very good excuse for a blogger, which obviously makes me a bad blogger.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking, “Gee, maybe I should sit down and take some time to write something,” but could never actually get myself to the computer. I blame my phone for that. Bad, Galaxy S4, bad!

Oh! What’s that?! It’s almost New Year’s Eve? I didn’t even know Christmas came already… Obviously I haven’t been paying much attention this year. You know why?

STAR WARS!

THAT’S why.

You know what’s really bad for someone who has OCD and loves Star Wars a little too much? Announcing that Star Wars Episode VII, VIII, and IX are going to be made. This is not good for someone like me who has been fantasizing about VII, VIII, IX since I was 13. NOT GOOD!!!!

Why, you ask?

Because now I can’t think about anything else except being IN Star Wars VII, VIII, and IX. NOTHING ELSE BUT THAAAAAAAT!!! Oooooh it hurts…

So what did I do this entire year of 2013? Spent a lot of money on headshots and photo shoots with “Star Wars” in mind Christanna243_pp (533x800)

JediGirl

…Spent a lot of money on casting director workshops focusing on attending only the ones that had any connection to April Webster, whom I assumed was going to be the main casting director for the next three Star Wars installments. Sent a ton of headshots and cover letters to Webster. Handwrote two letters to J.J. Abrams asking to be allowed to audition, and if anyone knows me well, my handwriting sucks…also, handwriting sucks. Went running every single day (which is a good thing). Prayed to God (not that Star Wars was the only thing a prayed about, so that’s a good thing too). Wrote a short letter to Mark Hamill and George Lucas (which his assistant wrote a nice letter back to me so that was cool), and sent more headshots to Lawrence Kasden and Disney’s CEO just at the end of it all I could say to myself “I tried EVERYTHING…short of stalking.” Knowing I’m a nobody who’s only done theater and one TV episode and one short film, my chances of an audition are 100,000,000,000,000 to 1, which I would gladly yell “Never tell me the odds!” But…yeah…I had been very positive about it until fall came around and suddenly went into a depression over it. Which you would think would inspire me to write. Nope. I just slept my days away and worked at night. The closer production came for Star Wars VII, the more depressed I became. Reality really sucks sometimes. My problem is I’ve been living in the Star Wars universe since I was 13 years old and that is NOT an exaggeration. Read my short story, Stargirl, if you don’t believe me. Maybe this is one of those “learning” things. A “slap in the face from reality” type of deals. Like trying to get a guy to like you so much that you change yourself and he never ends up wanting you in the end. But I’m too stubborn to give up.

I have one last “trick” tucked under my sleeve which I won’t be able to release until later January, but I’m very excited about it!

So…as you can see 2013 has become all about Star Wars.

There was one point I was getting so upset about the rumors floating around the internet that my boyfriend banned me from IMDb. Wait, HOLD ON! I have a BOYFRIEND???

See, I didn’t even know that happened either. Actually we’ve been dating for about a year and half now, but I haven’t admitted that he’s my boyfriend until recently.564026_4385782776272_1969842581_n He’s a good sport about it.

Come to think of it, a lot of new things happened this year. I bought my first dog, became SAG-AFTRA eligible, did my first TV show called Blood Relatives, tobymy cat started losing weight finally, so those are the good things. The sad? It’s the first year I didn’t do a Cabrillo Music Theatre production since I moved out here four years ago. I auditioned A LOT for characters that were PERFECT for me, but didn’t get cast. I constantly got compared to Jennifer Lawrence which never made ANY sense to me except for the fact that our personalities are pretty much the same (although it’s an awesome compliment, so I guess this isn’t a bad thing). I can’t seem to poop like a normal person, so something is really messed up with my intestines. I got my first two cavities ever! I didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with my parents for the first time also EVER, but, finally, DID get cast in Musical Theatre West’s production of The Music Man which was the first time within the four years that I’ve been auditioning for them that it’s ever happened, so that was cool. Also, I’m pretty sure my cat is slowly dying because he’s not eating normally and keeps throwing up, so that’s NOT cool.

I keep thinking 2013 has been the most unlucky year I’ve had. I’m more broke than ever, my obsession over Star Wars has actually become unhealthy for me, and every decision I’ve made has felt like the wrong one. I dread 2014 because I’m afraid of what might happen to my brain when they finally announce casting for Star Wars VII. I could just picture myself shutting down completely as if Star Wars was my one and only hope. On the other hand, maybe it’ll be good for me, like a guy I’ve been obsessing about finally getting married and so I can finally write him off.

My only bright light this year was Bobby and Toby. My little dog is actually the best little thing for my stress. And Bobby? Well, he’s the first guy I’ve ever been with that can handle me and he actually LIKES it, which is beyond my comprehension. He thinks we’ll get married…MY response? Good luck.

I’m terrible.

At least 2014 will start off nicely with me getting EMC (Equity Membership Candidate) points for the first time while working for Musical Theatre West. It’ll also be my fifth year in California. That’s usually considered a turning point for actors. If nothing happens in five years, move on to something else…so we shall see what 2014 means for me. At this point, I feel like everything I’ve worked for may end up being for naught. But that’s okay. Cause at least I tried my hardest, right? Oh man…why does Star Wars have to be so popular???? If it wasn’t so huge, I could actually have a chance to audition!!! See? My brain sucks right now. Can’t. Stop. Thinking. About. It. Star Wars is like a bad ex-boyfriend. The kind I’ll never get over. “You suck, Star Wars, but I still love you. Also, I hate you. Okay I’m done. NOT!”

Yeah, just like that.

In any case, Happy New Year and may you be the dream you wish to come true.

What’s my resolution for 2014? To let go of Star Wars…NOT!!! What’s yours?