MY 5TH YEAR

I just realized I haven’t written anything in a LONG time. I have decided it’s a lot harder to blog when you have a boyfriend whom you spend A LOT of time with. He is not home right now, and LOOK, I’m writing something. It also happens to be a special day for me. My five year anniversary.Photo by Jennifer Ward

It’s been five years since I’ve lived in California, in the same house, with the same roommate. This may very well be the longest relationship I’ve ever had. If I last one more year in this house and in  this state, I will have officially surpassed the amount of years I’ve lived in one place with my parents.

I can’t tell you how crazy-fast these five years have gone! Seriously, I feel like I STILL don’t know my way around. STILL feel like I just got here. But I definitely know the rules and regulations of the “actor’s life” now. Definitely know how actors’ unions work. Definitely know how agents work and managers, casting directors and producers and production companies, make up artists, prop masters, directors, 2nd assistant directors (although that one still boggles me), wardrobe, set designers, lighting designers, stunt coordinators, stunt performers, gaffers, riggers, dancers, choreographers, zombies, headshots, resumes, websites, photographers, and holy-crap-if-I’ve-missed-something-it’s-cause-I’m-stopping-here. I feel better about my career as an actress, although I haven’t been able to even touch indie films or the like. I do keep getting musicals. Which is ironic considering it’s something I’m trying to steer away from. But this year, I finally got in a Musical Theatre West show, which helped me get my Equity Membership Candidate card (EMC). Then I was cast as Rapunzel in Into The Woods with 3-D Theatricals. I had also done another show in Simi Valley playing Christine Colgate and covered for a soprano in a Bruce Kimmel show called Pure Imagination. Not bad, but still a starving actor. Actually it was all pretty awesome. But my bank account disappeared to dust. Being a non-union actor is VERY expensive. But we all gotta pay our dues somehow.

It’s been 5 years and people say if nothing happens in 5 years, then change careers. I don’t know if I can say that NOTHING has happened, but career-wise it’s been slow. Which is to be  expected, I know that. Growing up in a house full of artists, directors, and producers, I know how it ALL works. But that doesn’t change the feeling of uncertainty. If this is where I belong. And how long it will take before I know where I belong. Should there even be time limits? I’m almost thirty years old and where have I gone? Five years have all been crunched into one and all I see are the wrinkles on my face.

I think I’m happy still despite all the things I battle. I have a patient and caring boyfriend/bestfriend named Number 1 who is always making sure I’m still here. He now lives with me and my roommate, which is crazy for me because I always said I’d never move in with a “boyfriend” unless I was married to him. Somehow it just seemed normal. He has a daughter who says she wants to be an actress like me. I told her, “No you don’t….unless you’re crazy.” She always says, “You’re pretty silly,” and I always say, “You mean crazy,” and she laughs, “Yeah, silly AND crazy.” She is my little angel. And so is her father.

Well, I’m not giving up yet on my career as an actor. I’m trying out a long term relationship for the first time with a ten year old daughter in the mix and doing my hardest not to run from complete-panic. Number 1 says, “You always like to have your foot just one step out the door.” I shrug and say, “Well, it’s a race. Are you gonna beat me to the finish or am I gonna leave you in my dust?”

He is a patient man.

And I am a crazy girl.

With dreams of being left in space, alone on the Moon, or building a home on Mars. Knowing there is more out there than on this one little world we live in. Knowing there has to be.

This is why I’m an actor. So I can pretend…and keep on pretending.

I get to pretend again very soon. For an incredible story and play an incredible character. My biggest one yet. And I CAN’T WAIT! A good way start my fifth year.

 

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"

An Actor’s Nightmare

 

Here is an article I wrote for the VC On Stage website:

John Adams & Abigail Adams

One of my most favorite musicals I was blessed enough to perform in was the historically based 1776. I remember when I was prepping for auditions how closely related I felt to the character Abigail Adams. Although my peers said I was a perfect Martha Jefferson, I wanted Abigail. She was a woman of strength and compassion and independence. In a way, one could say she represented the soon-to-be country’s independence John Adams was fighting for.

By studying the character through historical accounts from a history major and the letters she wrote to her husband, memorizing songs and scenes from the show itself, I walked into the auditions as Abigail. And was lucky enough to convince the director, Nick DeGruccio, and musical director, Steven Applegate, to believe that I was too. So when my agent called to tell me I got the part, you can imagine how ecstatic I was.

Where is the nightmare? Just wait…

To read more, please click the link: An Actor’s Nightmare: VC On Stage

2013…Let’s see if “third time” really is a charm

 

Spit flew from my lips as I gasped for air. It was cold and the wind didn’t help. Other than a small top and thin leggings, the only thing coating me was sweat. I couldn’t breathe except from my mouth, and that, in of itself, was a struggle. I dodged to the left, clumsily landing on the rugged dirt path. Stones and rock tried to trip me, but I couldn’t slow down. I wouldn’t.

My younger brother was just up ahead, just above the steep hill in front of me. They were taking him. And they were going to kill him. The only person around to stop them was me. I heard him scream out my name. I called back with as much strength as I could spare. I came to the bottom of the hill and sprinted up. Digging my shoes into the soft dirt wasn’t enough. They were faster. I saw them drag my baby brother past the horizon and heard the shot. By the time I reached the top of the hill, they were gone and so was my brother. I returned home, defeated.

But tomorrow, they wouldn’t be so lucky.

This is how I motivated myself to run every day. Imagination is a whole-nother world for me. I had never been a runner up until 2012. My friend Pablo said to me one day, after long hours of lazing around, “Let’s go for a run.”

“I don’t run,” I said. “I’m terrible at it and it hurts my knees.” Excuses are always the way to go with Pablo, since he uses them so frequently it’s almost a second language for him.

“Aw come on!” he said.

Before I knew it, we were off, running up and down steep hills around my neighborhood. And that’s all it took. From then on, I started running every day (or night) and usually had an adventurous time with it too, hence my story above.

2012 happened to be quite an eventful year this time around. Just as I’d hoped. My last New Year’s blog was rather depressing, 2011 being rather a drag. I ended up spending New Year’s home alone watching Star Trek and writing my blog. I promised myself that 2012 would be different. That I’d go on more whims, make better friends, and fall in love, and, as per every year, somehow leave my serving job.

Well, folks, I did make all of it happen!

Getting More Agents

At the start of 2012, I added onto my resume another agent, Brady, Brannon, and Rich. They were to be my commercial agent. So instead of being only submitted for theater projects, I was finally able to go out on non-union commercial projects. I got lots of auditions, landed a few callbacks, but no bookings. Better than nothing, I think. It seemed as if my acting life was finally getting interesting. Let me tell you about commercial auditions….EASIEST THINGS EVER! In theater, you have to be prepared on multiple levels—monologues, 16-32 bar cut music, dancing, cold readings—but commercials? Man, it’s like you don’t have to do anything but show up and look the part!

Tipsy Tuesdays!

This year I finally clicked with a group of people I like to call The Rejects. I found myself suddenly with a best friend, Pablo. It seemed after I spent New Year’s eve alone, 2012 decided I wouldn’t spend any more of them like that. So that’s how Tipsy Tuesday was formed. One night, I decided to show up at my work on half-off-wine Tuesday and have a bottle of wine. There I saw Pablo sitting by himself on the other side of the bar. I called him over and we immediately started a long conversation on Metroid and Star Wars. Then others would join in—not the conversation necessarily, but the wine-ing. Katie, Samantha, Stephanie, Justin, and many others would become apart of the tradition known as Tipsy Tuesday. We would start at work, then make our way to Sunset Terrace, a lounge/bar of the neighborhood, and play Shuffle Board, King’s Kup, you name it! It was awesome. And then, one fateful night, I decided to change the name of the game, waste myself on a bottle and a half of wine, plus three whiskey shots, take a dull knife and go at it to my leg again.

The Cutting Returns

I hadn’t had a cutting episode since 2009 when I was miserable living in Arizona, finishing up my bachelor’s degree. That episode was the start of Whimming Lessons and this blog, come to think of it.

Anyhow, during another Tipsy Tuesday night, I had removed myself from my friends to cut in solitude. The drunk part was not the reason to it either. Cutting is a very fascinating reaction to depression and buried emotions. Getting drunk was on purpose to see if it would deaden the pain. Cutting is the release of that pain, when the drunk part doesn’t work. It’s an embarrassing habit that I somehow stumbled upon during my “crazy days” in 2009. Now it remains in my memory as a type of “way out.” A stupid “way out,” but one none the less. I spent months afterwards trying to heal up my leg. It took longer this time than before and got infected. But it didn’t stop me again. Number 1 had to clean me up the second time.

Number 1

This year was particularly interesting when concerning men. I had The Bartender, Blue Shirt, Mr. Big, and if there were any others, I hate to say I can’t remember them. Oh yeah! The Old Boss. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t “getting some” with all these guys. I happen to be old fashioned in the way I handle my dating relations with men. Or more simply put: I don’t enjoy sex unless I FEEL something for that person. So I don’t have sex for the hell of it.

I’m quite sure The Bartender and The Old Boss weren’t too happy with me because of this.

The Old Boss was an older man I had been highly sexually attracted to for years. But I make it a point not to get involved with bosses. That is…until they aren’t my boss anymore. So, on a daring and very nerve-wracking whim, I made out with The Old Boss, narrowly escaping being lured into his bed. By that, I mean, it had been a while for me and, boy, were my hormones flying! But there was something quite disturbing about kissing my old boss. It was as if my brain was still in “employee mode” and all I could think of was “obeying” his orders…while he was kissing me….uck! I decided to get out of there as soon as I could. I call it the Boss Whim. Never need to whim that one again, that’s for sure!

Next was The Bartender from Bogie’s. I was totally into him! But he turned out exactly as everyone else said he would, a completely man whore…aka, “bartender.” Three dates were enough for me.

Then there was The Boy, Blue Shirt and Mr. Big both at the same time. These relationships happened at a strange time in my life. I was at a point where I thought relationships were annoying, troublesome, and a waste of my time. Dating was still fun though. But Blue Shirt reminded of someone I had lost a long time ago, someone I had loved. The Boy was a side of attraction and youth I’d never experienced. And Big was the best friend I thought I’d never have. So I had a very intimate relationship with them, trying to decide for myself if either of them would grow into something deeper.

And then it happened one day in my dressing room, fighting off a bad sinus cold, and getting ready for opening night of 1776. I had received flowers from Mr. Big and his eight year old daughter. There was a little note from her as well. My dressing roommate said to me that my eyes were so bright and my face was glowing. It was then I realized who I wanted. I named him Number 1 shortly after that.

The Starving Actor

Whenever anyone asked me what my profession was this year, I said, “Oh, I’m an actor…the starving kind.” But it really wasn’t all the bad. I had become apart of a sketch comedy group called The Movie Guys which kept me busy every month. Then I started doing little promotional events for Cabrillo Music Theatre, the first theater company I worked for since I moved out to California. During the summer, I ended up playing Marian Paroo in The Music Man and in the fall, Abigail Adams in 1776. That’s two leads in a row! I was beyond thrilled.

New Year’s Eve

As I’m sitting here writing this, my friends are laughing, eating and drinking in the kitchen outside my room. I can’t tell you how different this is. California is now home for me. I’ve never written a blog where my friends were yelling at me to get off the computer because we have to go whimming!!!

“Hey, let’s go, I’m starving,” Pablo just said, bursting into my room.

“I’m almost done,” I say, typing as quickly as I can.

2012 was awesome! Despite the cutting returning resulting in birth control being denied to me, and Prozac being apart of my life forever, this year was pretty epic. We went skinny-whimming on a private beach! I whimmed with an old boss! We created Tipsy Tuesdays! I got promoted at work. I have the bestest friends I could ever wish for. I got hired at Marmalade resulting in, hopefully, my ultimate exit from The Restaurant. I got to work with renowned director Nick DeGruccio. And I found Number 1, who is more than a friend, more than a boy, and definitely more than a boy-friend.

Okay, they’re bugging me to get off the computer now, so I have to go. I don’t even have any time to proofread or edit this, so it’s kinda wonky, I apologize. I wanted to put pictures even, but it seems I’m out of time.

2012 rocked, but I got a really good feeling three times a charm! So bring it, 2013!!! BRING IT!

Blue Shirt

 

So many things can happen in one summer. If we could all remember every little detail we experience, maybe we would finally realize how exciting and interesting our lives really are. We all are living an adventure deserved to be written about. This is why I write. This is why I nag my grandmother, whom I call Mana, to write her story. This is why it saddens me that my grandfather, Papa, never wrote his before he passed away. And this is why I write about the people in my life, because they have an adventure deserved to be documented too.

This summer, I made friends. Good friends. The closely-knit kind I’d been wanting badly. Samantha, Pablo, Katie, Helena, Monique, and many more. They will always be apart of my life story.A drawing of me as Marian by Joseph Lusker

This summer, I got to play Marian Paroo in the The Music Man. Of course, I got a horrendous chest cold during the callback. Somehow survived it, but was out from work the following days. Still got the part. Weird how that works. Anyhow, she was one of my dream roles. I grew up with The Music Man. My family grew up with it too. The musical felt more apart of me than usual. It felt like being home. During the run, I met some wonderful people that I’ll never forget. And, of course, I am madly in love with my opposite, Kristopher Kyer, who played Harold Hill. One of my favorite people ever, truly.

This summer, I got to be apart of The Movie Guys, a comedy group that previews and reviews movies every month. I specialize in the sci-fi stuff, of course. Winking smile I love working with Paul Preston, Karen Volpe, Lee Kias, Adam Witt, and many others. I’ve The Movie Guysmet some very wonderfully funny and interesting people throughout the months.

This summer, I got to sing with the Prescott Pops Symphony orchestra once again, conducted by my father. A year ago, he wanted to book me to sing as one of his soloist, and I kept telling him I couldn’t commit because I didn’t know if I’d have a better gig by then. As the months passed, things worsened for my father at the Prescott college. He was disrespectfully, and without warning, fired through an emailDad conducting by the newest head of the music department at the college, reason being simply a difficulty in communication. And then other soloists were dropping out at the last second for the concert my father was putting on in July. I decided to commit to the concert, not only because I couldn’t abandon my dad, but because I wanted him to know he still had the respect and the support of other singers.

This summer, I developed an unexpected but fully embraced sense of love and support from my aunt and uncle who live in California. There was always love within my family members, but now I feel a sudden closeness to them that I only rarely feel for a handful of people. This feeling is hard for Familyme to describe, but to put it simply, it is the feeling one might feel for their own child…they would kill for them, or die. I’ve felt this way about my parents and my Mana and Papa. There are just a few others I’ve had this feeling for, but now my aunt and uncle have joined this circle in my heart. Sometimes I laugh and brush this emotion off as a fault of my “artistic” side. But it’s there, nonetheless. Now my uncle is leaving for Afghanistan…I can only hope it’ll be boring.

This summer, I also met someone. The man with the blonde hair and the blue eyes. I caught a glimpse of him in the audience during my show. The blue shirt is what drew my attention. And I thought, “he’s cute.” Then I saw him again at dinner with a friend. Coincidence? I don’t know. But I thought it was cool. Because I remember details like that. Just like in a movie. And then he asked me out.

But that’s all I’m gonna say. This story deserves a separate blog.

There’s a little story in all of this, but I think the most important thing to understand is that this was a happy time. I want to remember it well. That’s why I’m writing it now. Because I know when there’s an up, there’s always another down. And the dark side of my brain likes to take over during those downs.

So I hope for the happy times like now to last a long time, and I write to keep it real.

There’s an adventure in all of us, so don’t take it for granted, and remember all the details down to the last blue shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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