Monday, July 7, 2008

Goodbye, HiFi

I had to wait until today to post my final entry to this blog, because it's taken me a while to collect my thoughts about this experience. I know that the recurring theme for many of the cast members has been the Top 5 list, but it's too hard to list just 5 things that I will take away from this. How does one summarize a life-changing experience? That is what this has been for me.

HiFi was my first theatrical performance. It pushed me way beyond my comfort zone as an artist. I was very comfortable onstage singing and playing the violin, but I have never acted onstage outside of high school. I wasn't sure at all if I could do it. I was very afraid, very nervous about learning lines and blocking and choreography, especially coming in as the third person cast in the part. I just knew that I wouldn't be able to remember my lines, or where to go, or when. I am still a little amazed that I was able to do well because I know that artistically, I am my own worst enemy. I fell in love with theatre from just this one show, though. I cannot say enough about what a fantastically strong cast, band and crew we had for this production. If you missed it, you really missed a great experience!

I have to agree with Jeff, who said in his blog that he thought that we all stepped things up a notch for the last weekend of performances. I think that everyone wanted to really do their utmost to kick it in the ass, and they did. Scott mentioned that everything ran like clockwork on this show and I agree. Everyone knew exactly what to do at all times and we knew the show so well that when there were little bobbles we could recover with no panic whatsoever. The audiences for the last three days were wonderful, and seemed so engaged with what we were doing. It is such a gratifying experience to look out at the audience during curtain call and see them smiling and clapping, clearly appreciative of our hard work.

I have to say that the least fun part was strike, which is kind of the wrong word to use for a lot of hard work -- isn't a strike refusing to work at all? Anyway, I pitched in as best I could, helping to disassemble the risers, and climbing a 900-ft ladder to take down lights because nobody else seemed excited to do so. I can't imagine why. I thought that I was afraid of heights, but I guess I'm not now. I also got to break in my new truck's storage capacity when I provided moving services to Aaron and Zak, who took Rob's couch for their own apartment. Good to know to know that I can fit a loveseat in the back of my new ride. I think that we finally made it to Kimi's for the cast party after 1:30 am.

Kimi had some of the best food I have ever had at her party, and her house is just lovely! I spent most of my time outside as I brought 2 cigars to enjoy. The cigars were fantastic and really helped me unwind, and they make me a little..umm...mellow too. The best moment of the party for me was singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" with everyone just before we went home for the evening (morning), and seeing Zak and Aaron show us the scene they did behind the funeral flat during the argument that Rob & Liz have towards the end of the 2nd act. I have never quite laughed so hard in my life. Jeff and I did the lines and they had this very, very hilarious, over the top pantomime that would not have been out of place in the WWE.

I am going to try and figure out how to post my slide show on this blog. I took some pics of cast members backstage and when we were just hanging out. I don't want this post to just go on and on, so let me just say that I am so grateful that I got to do this and it was definitely one of the Top 5 best experiences of my life so far. I got to meet very cool and interesting people and make some new friends, and, I also was privileged to perform with some very fine actor/singers (singer/actors?) and create a piece of art that people wanted to see, repeatedly. Scott Miller, you are a genius and thanks for letting me a part of this! I wish the very best to everyone who was involved in this production and I really hope to stay in touch with as many cast members who still want to talk to me ;) In closing, I want to share my Top 5 favorite quotes from my High Fidelity experience (you knew I had to put at least one top 5 list together!)

  1. "Don't change anything! Don't add anything new, just keep doing the same show you have been doing."
  2. "Remember -- be fierce, and always tell the truth." (or some variant of that)
  3. "Are you on crack or just retarded?" (heh heh)
  4. "It was the Indigo Girls, Rob, you should have seen it coming."
  5. "All I know is 'ball'..and 'good'...and 'rape'." (Hand Banana lives!)
Thank you for taking the time to read my postings. It has been great putting my thoughts out on the Web for the whole world to see. I have been fortunate to be cast in New Line's production of "Hair" and I think we get to blog for that too, so please look for that coming soon. This is Liz 3.0, signing off. Buona notte.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Final Show for Liz 3.0

I simply cannot believe that the end of our run is here. I swear it seems like I was just saying to myself, "How the hell am I going to do this? I've never done this before! I am so freaked out!", and now it's over! I have said it a million times and I know I must sound like I'm on some awards show, but this has been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I hope you have some free time because this is going to be one long post.

Where do I start? I would love to be clever and have some sort of "Top 5" List, but I'm not feeling that creative right now, probably due to the fact that I have only had about 4 hours of sleep, since I left the cast party this MORNING at about 4:30. Can I just say that there is a big difference between staying up all night when you are in your 20s versus your 30s? Anyhow, let's start with how this week has been so far.

Wednesday was absolutely one of the best birthdays that I have had. Aaron and Zak cooked dinner and Scott came over as well. The meal was delicious, the company even better. I am just so happy to meet interesting people that are fun to hang out with. As I have mentioned before, my husband and I have been together for about 13 years, and he was really my only friend for much of that time. So, it's really, really cool to get out and meet folks! I think I haven't stopped thanking Aaron and Zak yet. I'm sure they don't think it's a really big deal, but I just don't take stuff like that for granted. I have about two really close friends and we don't get to hang out a lot so for someone to open their home to me virtually any hours of the day is huge as far as I'm concerned.

Thursday night I was very anxious because for some reason I was feeling very disconnected from my characters and my lines, everything was for some reason. I had this real fear that I was going to drop out whole sections of dialogue for no reason. I think my anxiety was definitely amplified by hearing Scott say "Don't change anything, keep doing the same show" every FREAKING night. It was like some kind of reverse psychology for me -- I kept thinking, "here's the night where he is going to come tell me that I screwed the entire show up for everybody". So, Thursday I was frantically going over my lines prior to the show like it was the 1st week! Of course, it went fine once I got onstage, so all of that drama was for nothing anyway. We were sold out for Thursday and I saw many repeat attendees so that's saying something about the basic quality of the show -- most people are just fine with seeing something one time. We are also sold out tonight, yay!

Friday night we had a kind of rowdy house, which I thought was cool. People were laughing uproariously and cheering for us. I think that they really enjoyed it. It's nice to have an audience that shares energy with us, it just makes it so much fun. I spent a good part of my afternoon prior to the show hanging out with Trish -- she hosted the cast party last night that was off the chizzle for shizzle (not sure if that is the right Snoop Dogg grammatical structure). I went grocery shopping with her as she bought a truly prodigious amount of food, a veritable cornucopia of gastronomic celebrations (okay, sorry, I love big words used in ridiculous ways). The pary was just so much fun! Trish and Mike have this very hip, cute apartment and it was the perfect size for the cast and friends to hang out. With some wood (thoughtfully provided by Amanda) in the firepit, the atmosphere was wonderful. Zak was the BBQ king, grilling without cease, leaving no piece of rendered animal flesh uncharred. Everyone was just so relazed and comfortable, it was great to just wind down after the show.

I have to put a special note in here for my buddy Jeff, who I kept giving so much crap to over the course of the night. I want to put it here in writing: Jeff Wright is not a punk-ass bitch and I will personally beat up anyone who says so. Except me, ha ha hah!! I could not resist teasing him because he got this great indignant look every time I would call him a name. I love the fact that we can all joke around and laugh together. This is just such a funny group of people. Anyway, Jeff, for what it's worth, it's your side, I'm on your side. I will miss your subtle sarcasm and dry mockery greatly when this is all over, and it has been a huge pleasure working with you.

So, one of the highlights of the part for me was watching new people get introduced to "Hand Banana". Google it if you don't know. I have to thank Zak and Aaron for my new addiction to Aqua Teen Hunger Force. And the lines just get funnier every time I hear them. I have to go now, I thought I had more time to chat. I promise that I will wrap this up later on tonight after strike and the cast party. Hopefully I'll have time to do a few Top 5 lists too. Ciao for now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Okay, so today is my birthday and I have to say that I'm pretty happy about that. In a few minutes I will be going to hang out at Aaron's for a bit, so I wanted to give that update that I promised. But first, I must state that I am very pleased to be 35 years old and I feel good about where I am at. I definitely feel like I am starting to really become the artist that I always wanted to be. As I go into this last weekend of performances of HiFi, I feel like things are just falling into place. I have so enjoyed this experience, I just can't say enough good about all of it. The show is fantastic, the cast is just so talented and I have to say Scott is every bit as brilliant as he thinks he is ;) I feel so privileged to have been a part of this, I couldn't have asked for a better experience my first time.

So, to recap, last weekend lyricist Amanda Green and phenomenal original Avenue Q cast member Ann Harada came out to dinner with us at the Cheesecake Factory, after our show. I was just so relieved that Ms. Green enjoyed the show. I mean, if she didn't really like it, I don't think she would have come out to eat with us. I really debated about being a complete nerd and asking to take a picture but Charles gave me so much crap about it I had to go ask them I could take a picture. Here it is and yes, my name is Nikki Glenn and I am a nerd and apparently even more of a flaming theatre geek gushpot than even I thought as evidenced by my "isn't this cool" double thumbs up.

Luckily I withdrew to my corner so as to not frighten them any further, heh heh. Anyhow, the show has been going great. I am sorry that it will be ending but I have to say that I am excited for the next one.

I just got the call today that I will be a member of the tribe for "Hair" and I can't wait! I am hoping that it will be more fun and scary and more transformative than I can even envision at this point.

I think I will get to the theatre early tomorrow so that I can run through my lines because I want to put the same effort into these last 3 performances as I have been trying to do all along. I think that we really validated (vindicated?) High Fidelity the Musical and proved that the show itself was not the reason it didn't work on Broadway. Scott's vision of the story plays wonderfully in the intimate space that we are in and I would like to think that all of its range of emotion has more impact in this smaller space as well.

Sorry if this post is all over the place (welcome to how my brain works), but I have a bunch of pics that I want to post for your entertainment. So, last weekend we had billions of bouncing ballerinas backstage (I could use additional alliteration but I can't think of any more nice words that begin with the letter "b" and I think you know what I mean). I think that we managed as well as we could considering that all the areas that we would normally use to prepare for our show were covered in tutus or commandeered by Craft Services. To the best of my knowledge we were all pros about it, and Margeau even warmed up with them!

I took a lot of pics backstage last weekend and I am going to try and make them into a slide show with captions that I can post on this blog later on tonight. I have to go now, but thank you for reading and ciao for now!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More to come later!!!

Just a really quick post to let you I just had an unforgettable evening last night!!! I am going to spill everything to you really soon. I have pictures! I met celebrities and they were COOL!! I'm still very geeked out about it. Anyhow, more later.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Just a little post, for now

I thought I was going to have a chance to do some in-depth post about my Tony awards experience, but I just ran out of time. Charles is dropping me off at the theatre fairly early so I'll try to do something else then. Basically I spent a fair amount of the show either crying or cheering. It's funny, whether the shows were weak or strong, I was just as affected.

I think because I have still never seen a Broadway show on Broadway, it has such a great impact to get a "tasting menu" at the Tonys. I absolutely love, love, love live theatre and it is just such a gift to get to see it, so I don't think I can give a good critical analysis of the show. For me it was the whole experience, from the pageantry of getting really dressed up, to the incredible visual stimuli of seeing the elephants from the "Lion King" process up to the stage, to getting to hear one of my favorite singers (Patti Lupone) sing from one of my favorite musicals (Gypsy), to just being wrung out at the end of the night, and having my ears ring with all of this great music (yes, even South Pacific).

When I spoke with other actors about my experiences, some of them mentioned that this musical or that one was good or bad, and that it wasn't a good year for musicals, etc. To a certain extent I agree -- how many more movies are going to be made into musicals that suck? But I am still in my infatuation stage with musicals, I am easily seduced by the bright lights and the orchestra, and the choreography, and the costumes, and the sets, yes yes I am running on and on, but this is the way I get just so GEEKED OUT about it! Okay, taking a breath...Anyhow, I don't know if any of this makes sense to anyone but me, but all I am capable of feeling about any of the shows that I got just a glimpse of is love, pure and simple. Maybe in a few years it will be old hat for us to go, and we can be so bored with it all, but I hope not. I am clinging to my childlike innocence and enthusiasm as long as I can.

So here are just a few more pics that I took with the camera that my husband graciously smuggled in for me and also that I took towards the end of our trip. No, I didn't take pictures during the broadcast or any of the performances because that's just rude and tacky. Also, I had to take a picture of the Weehawken exit, Jackie wouldn't let me leave NYC without doing it.

I'll try to chat with you in just a bit once I get settled at the theater.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Tony Awards YAY!

Okay, I have dropped Charles off at his gig and I am now sitting in the Bread Company being unfaithful -- to my diet that is. I am having a nice cup of hot ginger peach tea and a chocolate chip cookie and OMG is it good!! Anyway, now I have a little time before I go over to Hotch to get ready for HiFi.

(Sorry, I had to go back for seconds. I got more tea, and a Cinnamon Crunch bagel to munch on while I chat with you. Mmmm..)

Our trip to New York actually started after the cast party on Saturday night. We decided it would be better to stay up all night since the flight was at 6:00 a.m. and we would have to be at the airport by 4:30 anyway. The only problem? Neither one of us thought to pack prior to our respective gigs so we rushed home from the cast party just to do laundry so we'd have something to wear on the plane. Since my husband still doesn't understand that each pair of jeans in a dryer multiplies the dry time by like, 5 hours, some of our stuff was a little, erm, damp. But no matter because we were jet setting to NYC! We made it to the airport by 4:30 exactly and were in the terminal by 5:00 a.m. I then walked roughly a mile to the nearest open kiosk serving some kind of food. I was a little too excited to eat, but I knew it was going to be a long day.

We made our connection in Atlanta with no event and touched down in Newark on time. I had meticulously researched how to take the trains into Manhattan, thus saving us $100. But, Charles had other ideas, namely us just standing around looking like poor innocent tourists until one of the shuttle hustlers wrangled us up. Luckily, we were immediately accosted by a very fast-talking gentleman who gave us an incredibly discounted rate and was parked right outside the baggage claim area! He was chock full of information and was familiar with the hotel where we were staying. After a hair-raising ride into the city (which I actually videotaped on our return to the airport), we made it to our hotel, the Iroquois, which I highly recommend. The rooms were beautiful and had the most comfortable beds, and what a lovely bathroom! Anyhow, at this point, Charles got settled in the room and I went to get us some food and also search for some dress shoes for the Tonys (maybe I didn't look that hard when I was in STL, sorry!).

I walked around for about 1.5 hours before I figured out that I could just go to Macy's and get some. However, I forgot that this being New York, Macy's was like 7 floors and just crammed with shoppers. Just when I was about to despair of ever being waited on, a very helpful salesperson found me some lovely pointed toe pumps. Success! I stopped at deli that had a huge buffet to get stuff for Charles as I was just too excited to eat. Both Charles and I spent extra time getting ready and you can see that in our pictures below. Since we were close enough to walk to Radio City, we promenaded down the street in full regalia and people on the street were so complimentary to us! I am telling you we were frigging superstars just walking down the sidewalk. It was just such a big deal for us to even return for a second year to the Tonys, you would think we were nominated. In the pictures below, you will see that we stopped to pose with New York's Finest, and also got to wait in this 2-block long line just to get in the theater!

OK, it's time for me to get ready for tonight's performance. I have more pics and deets to give you on the Tony Awards show when I talk to you later!

Weekend recap, really quick like

I don't have much time because I have to leave for the theater soon. I will try to finish this later on tonight, but for now I wanted to tell you how I felt about our opening weekend performances. I thought we did a great job! The show is really coming together well and I feel certain that it's only going to get better as we continue. Thursday night after the show, the cast went to Joannie's Pizzeria, which was just fantastic. I could only have a little salad and some bread because I was trying to make my goal weight for the week (which I missed by 1 lb). But I have to say the pizza and calzones smelled so good that I was asking cast members to just describe how it felt to eat the food. I know, that's a little odd. It's funny how you don't crave things until you can't have them.

Friday was another good run, in my opinion. Everyone had great timing and energy, and the audience seemed to really enjoy it. Afterwards we went to the Cheesecake Factory, where my husband saved me from myself by ordering for me. I did order a slice of plain cheesecake with strawberries to go, though. Again, great times were had by all. We looked liked the world's most diverse extended family as we took over a good portion of the bar area of the restaurant.

Saturday was as consistently good as the other runs. The fun started after the performance when Aaron and Zak hosted a cast party in U City. I think we got a little too loud because the cops showed up and chastised us. All I remember thinking was, "God, did I pay that parking ticket before it turned into a warrant? I'm too fragile for jail!". Anyhow, it was definitely a nice party to me, with my limited social experience :)

It is so great to be a part of a cast that actually wants to hang out when we are not on stage. I thought everyone would go their separate ways and really only see each other on the gig nights. However, I have hung out with many of the cast members outside of performances and that is SO COOL! I like getting to know these people, they are just so interesting. Sometimes I do really feel my age though, especially when it's getting late in the evening and they are still going strong partying. I also went with some of the gang to see a very cool band called Elsinore. Although I only got to catch their last 2 songs, they were a tight, very musical band. I was surprised to hear that they were not signed. I guess it's only a matter of time.

Okay, I have to get my stuff together for the show tonight. I promise to post pictures and play-by-play from Sunday night at the Tony Awards later on. Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I have to get this off of my chest....

Sorry I couldn't post an entry sooner, but I have had one heck of a weekend! But, before I can tell you about my fantastic weekend, I have to express how I'm feeling right now.

I am sitting out on my patio, drinking wine (for therapeutical reasons) and snacking on grilled salmon sushi (surprisingly good, I've never had it before). I have spent most of this day in a funk because of comments made by a reviewer regarding my performance this past weekend. Note: I am overly sensitive and vulnerable because this is my first ever musical production and I really, really want it to be great. I'm not going into any further detail -- you have no idea how many times I have hit the backspace button typing this entry! But I have to say that it really messed with me. How can it not? When you put your heart and soul into something and someone comes along and basically says "not good enough", it's hard not to take it personally. Scott was ferocious in reassuring me that it was all good, but I am the kind of person who likes to make sure everyone is happy with the art I am providing.

Charles has told me not to fret over it, and honestly, in order to be a successful actor you have to be able to take the good and the bad, and know that everyone may not necessarily care for what you do. I already feel better just having said how I really feel anyway; by the time we start up the show this week this criticism will just be a tool for improvement. I know in my heart that I am absolutely doing the best that I can and that I will continue to do so, but ego is a funny thing. The hardest thing to learn is when to put it aside so that it won't distract you from what is important: the Truth, as Scott likes to say.

Anyhow, I have so much more to tell you about this past weekend, I'm going to make it a separate post from this whiny one. I want to tell you about what Thursday, Friday and Saturday were like, and I am going to tell you EVERYTHING! Also, I'm going to tell you about Sunday when I went to the freaking TONY AWARDS! Yeah!! Give me just a bit to finish this bottle of wine, and I will be back atcha!

Ciao for now!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I am trying hard not to be nervous, but...

Never have I felt such a mix of dread and excitement as we go into our opening week. We have been working our butts off and I am sure that it is going to show in our performances, but this is truly uncharted territory for me. I am so used to going up on stage and singing with a band, but doing this musical is more like: "Ok, Nikki, get onstage and sing this song with a band, while juggling flaming knives, playing a kazoo, tap dancing, and by the way, sing it backwards". I don't mean this literally, of course, just that it is taking a lot more brainpower and focusing than just selling a song. We have to sell our characters and our stories.

Scott has been constantly talking about searching for the truth in our parts, and I think that we are really trying to find that every night. I'm just afraid of what having other people, strangers, in the midst is going to do to that. We have to be so vulnerable as actors, and we have spent the last three months in a kind of incubator as we have explored what works and what doesn't. Now, we're letting people into this world and I'm really wondering what they will think. I suppose that some will get it, some won't.

I have not gotten to work with "The Artist's Way" as much as I have wanted to in the last few weeks, but it is never far from my mind. One of the first concepts introduced, as I have probably stated here before, is this idea that we have to heal the damage done to our inner artist in order to really access our creative energies. Many times the damage has occurred long ago and we have buried it. It could have been something as simple as a picture that we drew as a very young child, with all of the enthusiasm and wonder in our hearts, that someone called stupid or ugly. It could have been a parent who told us to give up our art because we'd never make any money. Every time that we do something creative is a chance for the inner artist to flourish or wither. I did not realize until now just how much courage and bravery that one has to possess in order to act onstage, and I am both determined and unsure, if that is possible.

Anyway, I will post more after this first performance. I am going to find my "happy place" until show time. Ciao for now.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

And so it begins...

My apologies for this long post, but I want to bring you up to date.

Thursday night after rehearsal, Lori (who plays the ex-GF Sarah) invited everyone out to hear this DJ at the Gramophone club. Only a few folks took her up on the offer, so it was just Lori, Lori’s friend from France -- I think his name was Hensley, Mary (who plays ex-GF Charlie), Jeff (who plays Rob) and myself. It was great to hang out with folks from the show because I really don’t have that much of a social life so it’s cool to get out of the house and like, talk to other people. Anyhow, there were actually two DJ’s that do a show together and they were off the chain! I danced for almost 2 straight hours. They played such an eclectic mix of material, it was never boring and I really didn’t want to leave. Plus the place had this very cool vibe, with couches and comfy chairs to just chill out and listen to the music. Also, they had these really neat drink menus that were made from album covers that they had cut in half. Jeff watched the DJ’s as they were spinning, I think he got some insight into his character. I really enjoyed the evening because I got to dance until I couldn’t dance anymore, which is really something that I wanted to do for quite a while. Life is too short not to dance through as much of it as you can. I went home about midnight with my ears full of this great mix of music.

Friday I went to work and cut out early so I could get some rest. I have been having some kind of sore throat/head cold off and on for the past few weeks, I think due to not sleeping as much as I should be. I puttered around the house and ended up staying up till 3 AM reading a new book by one of my favorite authors.

Saturday we had “cue to cue” rehearsal where we basically are there so that the lighting designer can make sure that all the lighting cues are correct and that we stand where we are supposed to when we are supposed to. I had heard that it can take a really long time, it only took a few hours and I got the chance to hang out with Aaron, Zak and Amanda. We were going to meet up at the Renaissance fair in Tower Grove Park but it was over by the time I caught up with them. We ended up at Mekong, a Vietnamese restaurant on Grand. I actually had a very bad first experience with Vietnamese food so I was thinking that this would be a good night to just have soda. But I thought, maybe it won’t be so bad, and know what? It was really good. Then we walked it off a little bit and ended up back at Aaron & Zak’s to watch MST3K shorts until my husband called me to get picked up from the gig. Once again I got to spend some quality time with some cast members, which I really appreciated.

So, today was kinda hellish. I had a very early performance (7 AM) with orchestra for a church anniversary service, and also the 2nd service at 10 AM. My ride showed up just in time for me to get to the 1 PM rehearsal. Right now we are in the middle of our "sitz probe", which is just a fancy word for "running through songs with the band". I had heard that Scott can be a little, um, high-strung when we get close to the first show, and I have to say that he lives up to the hype. We have just started on the 2nd act material and it is about 3:40. I am actually waiting for Scott’s head to explode off his shoulders and I’m sure that what I am seeing is really mild compared to what it will be. I know that we actors cannot take it personally but wow is it hard! I feel like I’m back in high school and the teacher is yelling at me for some minor infraction. I can completely empathize with him being totally stressed out at this point.

We had a little delay getting started as there were some sound issues to work out, but once Steve (our sound man) got it going, it was great! This is the first time that we have played with the full band and they are getting used to us just like we are getting used to them. But I have to say that this show is going to ROCK once we get a little more comfortable. Already today I have seen how having live mics and a live band have transformed the other actors. I knew that this would be the case for me as I am way more comfortable in front of a band with a mic anyway. But Rob (who is playing Ian) and Jeff both got this gleam in their eyes when they stepped onstage. I have a great deal of trepidation going into Hell Week because not only do we have to get used to the band in three days, but also all of our costume changes, remembering choreography, dialogue, any last minute blocking tweaks, and on top of that, have 110% energy at all times. Yikes.

I feel bad for Rob who has had to use the bathroom since before we rehearsed “Crying in the Rain”. He is such a trooper, a real pro. I would have lost it by now (or soiled myself). We have two more songs and then we are done. I intend to find some kind of drink, maybe mildly alcoholic.

(note: I stopped typing here because I had to do the finale with the rest of the cast. The rest of this post is after going out with some of the other cast members after rehearsal.)

I am so stuffed! I am off of my meal plan, big time. I had salmon (OK), but then I had fries (not OK) and now I’m eating a chocolate chip cookie at BreadCo in the Loop (not OK). I really wanted a cigar, but HSB is closed today. Charles is coming to get me soon so I am just really passing time and I just thought about how neat the Loop area really is. Just walking down the street here, there are so many different shops and foods and sounds! Right across the street from BreadCo there is some sort of drumming circle going on. There’s really no place else in town where you would get this kind of vibe. It’s just such a fun place to watch people.

I am concerned that tomorrow is going to be a rough rehearsal, it’s really on my mind. I feel a lot of pressure since we open on Thursday so everything really needs to be in place by then. My main concern is really making the costume changes in a timely fashion and really nailing my lines. I am trying not to paraphrase at all costs, but it is so easy to slip up when thinking of the 900 other things that we have to do. Not that I am bitching (well maybe a little bit, waah waahh..), this is actually a very cool experience. I just don’t want to choke. That would be bad.
My main goal for this show is to not be that actor that Scott talks about to everyone else because she’s just that awful. I don’t think I ever realized why actors are so insecure until now. When you invest so much time into a role and you make it a part of yourself, it is very difficult to expose that part of you to an unfamiliar and possibly very critical audience. Nobody wants to be the one that sucks, it’s just too painful. It’s funny that someone’s opinions about a completely fictitious character could actually damage one’s psyche.

I am really trying to make these characters real, not just some caricature and I am feeling a fair amount of anxiety about how they will be received. It’s hard for me to really differentiate Jackie from Liz because to a certain extent, Jackie is really a construct of Rob’s and not based on a real person but rather created for Rob’s own devices. Is there a possibility that her aggressive words and attitude towards Rob are rooted in Liz’s character? I mean, “Number 5 With a Bullet” occurs after he has been reamed by Liz. As his BFF she is his truth-speaker and definitely has a strong impact on his thought processes. I only have one real scene to define Jackie and today I really tried to experiment with giving her more of an edge. Scott has been asking for us to make our GF’s more psychologically terrifying, so I am ramping up the bully factor. We’ll see how this develops in the next few days.

Since I have really been very verbose in this post (nice alliteration and rhyme, yes?) I probably will be short and sweet for the next few days since Hell Week begins tomorrow. Thanks for reading, though this is probably better for me than it is for you! Buona notte for now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ready to Settle..

..I am definitely ready to settle into performing these roles. Okay, so we had our second run-through in the performance space. I thought that it went fairly well, I can definitely see things coming together. I am still not fully comfortable with all the things I have to do -- singing, dancing, acting -- simultaneously, but I'm getting there. If I had to rate where I'm at, I'd say about 85%. Jeff and Kimi are really doing a great job with developing Rob and Laura -- they are making them more complex and real each time we run through the show. There were some moments that were just so GOOD that I had to stop and just watch them. Also I have to give it up for Margeau -- she has this restrained dementia to her character that is chilling and funny at the same time. Everyone is working so hard, I think we all want this to go really well.

Plus, I still have to shop for my Jackie and Liz clothing. I went out shopping a few weeks ago and just didn't find things that were screaming "Liz" or "Jackie". Charles has graciously agreed to look for some stuff for me tomorrow. I also need to get some shoes that don't make me sound like a Clydesdale coming to the stage. There are so many little things that go into producing a musical, I just had no idea. It is definitely a lot more to handle than I imagined, but I absolutely love it. I don't know that I will love "Hell Week" (next week) so much, my posts will probably just be monosyllabic grunts or something. I know I have got to find a way to get more rest than I'm getting now.

I promise I will blog more tomorrow, I'm starting to doze between paragraphs. Talk to you tomorrow. Buona notte.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Sunday Evening Post

OK. I have officially done too much today. I feel like my workload is doubled because we are sharing a car, so basically whatever Charles has on his schedule is on my schedule. Check it out:

  • 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Load-in for "A Taste of Clayton". Charles had a band performing so we had to set up the "big" PA, including our monster speakers, regular speakers (for side fills), keyboard, mixer, and of course our 900-ton power amp. I had a great time figuring out how to fit all this in the car since we've never actually tried this before. Then of course there was a considerable amount of time spent trying to get to the performance site since it was in Shaw Park and there were many other vendors who were also trying to do so. Oh yeah, and it was about two thousand degrees Fahrenheit outside, too. I was drenched in sweat inside of half an hour. Also, I had thought I was dressing for church when I left this morning but I ended up hauling equipment through the mud. So much for looking cute.
  • 1:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m Load-in at the Black Box. More manual labor. (Sorry about bumping your keyboard, Scott!) I thought we would be bringing in boxes of stuff. I didn't realize we would be playing with a life-sized Erector set. I have actually never had to put together risers before and it was really kind of neat to see once they were done. We also got to see the flats and the record stacks that will be onstage. They look fantastic, I can't wait to rehearse with the scenery!
  • 2:50 ? Zak, Aaron, Lori and I go to the Loop for lunch. We end up at Blueberry Hill and since I'm going to a nutritionist and have to record every single thing I eat, I choose the dinner salad. The small, incredibly boring, healthy dinner salad. Of course, Lori, Zak and Aaron all share a huge basket of the loveliest looking fries I have ever seen. But I stay strong, dammit.
  • 4:00 ? Vintage Vinyl with Zak et. al. I haven't been here in years! I was really curious to see what everyone else was into because they are all way more hip than me. Zak picks up a bunch of cool-looking flyers for the counter at Championship Vinyl. One thing that I always remembered about Vintage Vinyl is the way the counter was just plastered with posters and stuff, so I think the stuff that Zak got will look very cool.
  • 5:?? HSB Tobacconist. I love cigars and just really had an urge to get a smoke. I wanted a smooth (read wuss) cigar that I could smoke in a short amount of time. The clerk directed me to the "Heaven" cigar, which is a brand of seriously flavored cigars. I thought I chose the Rum flavor, but actually ended up with Chocolate. It wasn't bad at all.
  • 6:?? Back at Shaw Park to catch Charles's last set and get ready to take all the gear down.
  • 7:30 Charles completes the gig to much acclaim, and I dismantle the gear in preparation for load out. Get this -- when I go get the car, we are not allowed back in the park the way we loaded in and we spend many minutes finding an alternate route. Two policemen guide us through the park (on the grass!!!) back to the tent so we can load out.
  • 9:00 Still at the park. One of the vendors has the road blocked so we can't leave. But, the fireworks make it worth the wait. Incredible show, synchronized to music.
  • 10:15 p.m. Depart the park for a visit to some of Charles's family in North County.
  • 12:00 a.m. Depart Charles's family's home
  • 12:30 a.m. Dinner at QuikTrip
  • 1:00 a.m. Load-out at our house. We leave no gear in the car since we were broken into a few months ago and lost everything. We have learned our lesson, but I can't tell you how much it sucks to have to carry this gear any distance at this point.

Definitely, lunch was the high point of my day. I am so glad that I got to hang out with some of the other actors, I was getting tired of not being able to! Anyhow, I'm listening to my husband snore in his easy chair. I'm going to go wake him up so we can go to bed. Buona notte.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The genius of Michael Daft

I had my photo shoot last night, and I have to say it was a FANTASTIC experience! Michael Daft is the photographer that is shooting all of the cast "rock and roll" pics and I have to tell you that he is just talented, period. I had some ideas coming into the shoot and, just as he said would happen, the ideas evolved as the shoot progressed. I think that the shots really captured the personality of Liz, and Jackie.

Michael said that many of the other actors were using their shoots to discover more about their characters and I have to say that I really agree with that. In my mind Jackie and Liz do have things in common, I think that they could actually hang out with one another and have a good time. They are both tough, no-nonsense women who have a very clear sense of who they are and they don't like to be messed with. As I was posing for these shots, I felt that both Liz and Jackie were embodied in the picture.

I have to say once again how incredibly creative and talented everyone is who is involved with this production. I really want to post a link to Michael's web site, but I am going to ask if it is OK first. I also really want to post one of the pictures from the shoot because I am damn proud of it, but I want to ask first. If I get the OK, I'll put it on here tonight after run-through. Ciao for now!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Before I go to bed, I wanted to share my Top Five Musical Performances with you. Please enjoy.

First, Ms. Ruthie Henshall performs "I Want More" from Stephen Sondheim's "Putting It Together". This is hands down, my favorite peformance.

Next, "Fiddler on the Roof" from the Tony Awards. This cast just has so much energy and focus, it gives me the chills.

Okay, I have NEVER seen "Les Miserables" before, but this mini-medley is just so intensely done, and I just love the visual effect at the end where they are marching. It's just cool to me.

I love Linda Eder's performance in this version of "Man of La Mancha". It's taken from "Broadway: The Leading Ladies" and she just kills it. She has such panache and I really enjoy this strong performance.

Last but not least, my most favorite Sondheim tune, "Not Getting Married". I first heard Carol Burnett perform it in "Putting It Together", but I fell in love with Madeline Kahn's version.

Okay, bonus video. This is not one particular musical, but you will see many musicals in it. I just love the song and it's hard not to tap your feet to it.

First Full Run Through....

Tonight was the first full run through of the show. I felt more comfortable with the lines and I am really trying hard to internalize my dialogue so that it feels more like real conversations than just me waiting for the other actors to say their lines. Scott pointed out that I cannot seem to stand still so I will focus on that for tomorrow. It just occurred to me that one of the main reasons why stillness onstage feels so unnatural to me is because when I am performing in front of a band, I cannot just stand there and deliver a song without moving -- that would be boring. Something is always in motion, so I'm thinking that I will really have to concentrate to get this right for the show.

I also tried singing while doing the choreography that we just implemented yesterday (!) for "She Goes". I absolutely love all the moves and that I actually get to dance. Yes, big girls can dance too, although I was definitely sweating like I was on trial. Note to self: I need to buy some hair that can take the heat from my head. I could have wrung out my wig when it was all over. I think that we are going to rock out on so many of the songs in this show, the ex-GFs are just ferociously talented! Katie wasn't at rehearsal tonight (hope you feel better!) and I missed her. I think that out of all of us GF's, Katie is definitely the dance captain! She is just so very confident in her execution of the moves, I hope this will rub off as the production goes on.

I am also enjoying the scenes that I have with Jeff, he is such a pro. I am very interested to see how the relationship of our characters develops as we continue running through the show. As I reflect more on Liz's role in Rob and Laura's relationship, it occurs to me that part of why Liz is so pissy is that Rob really takes her for granted. Maybe the reason why he hasn't worked to make his relationships successful is because he has Liz to fall back on. What I mean is that Rob is not allowing his girlfriends to be complete women for him because Liz is filling in the blanks. Liz is the one who "understands him" and gives him a shoulder to cry on and even nurtures him (she cooks for him every time he breaks up!).

Why should he go whole hog into a relationship when he can select the parts of a relationship that he wants to deal with? I don't know if that makes sense or not, but having been this female friend in my own life, I feel like this resonates. I am thinking that Liz may on some level resent this, not because she wants that relationship with Rob, but because she sees how his dependence on her is in some way causing him to cop out on working things out with Laura. Hmmm, this makes sense as a partial explanation for Liz's growing frustration over the course of the play. Plus, I think Liz really wants Rob & Laura to be happy together.

Anyhow, I think that it went OK for being the first run through. I am definitely beginning to see the full story now that we are putting it together. I need new shoes before the show starts because I have worn these damn heels out! Oh yeah, and my feet are KILLING me. I can't believe I'll have to do all this over again in less than 24 hours.

Since I am still sharing a car with Charles, I had to wait for a bit after rehearsal for him to come pick me up. Kimi, Trish and Scott were very sweet to wait out in the dark with me. I think I value the time that we all spend outside of rehearsal even more, because to me, it is a chance to speak with other artists. I have often spoken with Charles about needing an artists' community because we artists are definitely different from the mundanes and I think it is important to spend time with others of a like mind. For someone like me who has a "day job" that occupies most of my time, any time that I can spend with artistic folk is a blessing.

I have to go, it's time to get some sleep so that I can go function in the "real world". G'night.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I am getting into the swing of things, I think...

I should have posted a long time ago, but WOW did I ever have a learning curve with this stuff! This is the first time that I feel like I am getting comfortable with Liz and Jackie.

Well, I wasn't sure that I was going to make it this far. I have actually been doing okay, I think. I have managed to memorize all my lines in both Act I and II, although I am still not singing as well as I would like for the all the EX-GF's numbers. I think it's because I still have to think about the choreography and the lyrics and the actual notes I am singing. Tonight we don't have rehearsal so I will take the opportunity to read High Fidelity and hopefully get some insights into the characters. I am getting a good vision from my creative self about them, because I do feel that there's a good bit of me in both of the girls. I had fun the other night going shopping in character, just to see what kind of stuff they would wear. I liked the stuff that they picked out. This was a big deal for me as I am really trying to open up my creative self.

This is really due to a book I am reading titled The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I have to tell you that it is such a powerful book. It is about unblocking your creative pathways. It is a 12-week course that involves a lot of writing and self-examination. I consider myself mostly blocked as an artist because I still have HUGE issues with really freeing up my talents. According to the book, we have incorrect core beliefs that can prevent us from accessing our creativity to the fullest. One of mine is that I cannot be a "real" artist because it doesn't make any money. I also have a very deep fear of being ridiculed for my "real" artistic self. So, this resistance manifests in me not practicing my art as much as I should (violin, voice, etc). And also, I have been very reluctant to actually complete any of the exercises from the book because they are really transformative. I am definitely one of those people that fears success more than failure.

Anyhow, back to the play. I am having so much damn fun! I was really, really afraid of how I would memorize all the lines and blocking, and everything (thanks Margeau for the index card tip!), but it really does fall into place. The show is going to be GOOD. Every time that the guys perform "Nine Percent", I get so excited. If we can have that kind of energy through the whole show, it will be unforgettable. I am really feeling like I am part of something. I didn't really understand how when Charles was doing "Jesus Christ Superstar", it really consumed him.

I find myself hearing the songs underscoring everything during my day and I find myself going over lines when I'm driving, and I find that the characters really do come to life if you let them. I am really striving for a discernible emotional development of Liz over the course of the show. Scott has been really instrumental in explaining how to look for this and I must say that I really respect how clear he is in his direction. It is so cool to see everyone else developing their characters and each time they deliver their lines there is something different there. My goal for this week is to lock everything in so that I will be flawless for run-throughs.

I have my last jazz gig for a while at Cookie's on Friday. My playing will probably not be the best because I really haven't devoted the time to it that I should have, but I absolutely love the guys that I am playing with and we will definitely have a fantastic time. It's funny, but I think that being onstage in this different way just helps add dimension to everything. My hope is that the theatrical work will improve the music-making work and vice versa.

Gotta run for now, I'm going to try and post some more stuff tonight.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Finally, I have created my blog!

Here it is, the first post from Liz 3.0. I don't have any idea what was up with my other two predecessors, but I FREAKING LOVE this experience! Thanks to all the other exes for their support and guidance! I am actually a musical theatre geek, my husband had to bring me out of the closet when we first met, though. I was in major denial...I would say, "I hate musicals, they're dumb.." then totally know all the words to every song.

So anyhow, I joined the cast about a week late and I am still adjusting to this world that is so different from my jazz gigs or orchestra rehearsals or whatever. Oh, yeah -- I guess I could give you some background. I am primarily a violinist, have been so for about 26 years. I have played with orchestras, string quartets, rappers, rock bands, wedding bands and as of late, jazz trios. I took voice lessons all through college, I loved opera. I did one musical in high school and i was "Grace" in Annie. I just remember that I had to wear this hideous wig.. just picture James Brown in a dress.

I didn't start singing any kind of pop music until long after I was out of school and had met my husband and I needed a way to pay rent. He asked me if I sang, I said "I guess", and I ended up singing with a wedding band. He is responsible for any note you hear come out of my mouth because he taught me to sing. There. I've put it in writing. I say it all the time, but he just blows it off. Thanks, Charles, I would not be here without you.

I didn't express my true love for musicals until we started going to ShowTunes at Freddies (now JustJohn's). If you love show tunes, this is great! They play videos and take requests of your favorite performances of classic and current Broadway. I try to go every Sunday night.

Sorry, I really am a talker, even if I am just talking to myself. Anyway, we just ran Act I last night and we were really supposed to be off book but that so did not happen for me. I tried to not be face-down in the book, but it felt a lot like Linus' blanket to me. I have made several realizations after the run through -- I will give you my top 5, in the spirit of the show:

  1. I am really, really out of shape. No really. I am going to the damn gym! I mean, it would be too ridiculous to see one of Rob's hot ex-girlfriends sucking on an asthma inhaler while she was dancing around the stage, right? My pride won't let that happen.
  2. I did not realize that I can neither walk nor talk nor sing simultaneously. This is a lot of stuff to remember -- just the blocking or the songs or the script alone is going to be some serious work.
  3. I really, really like this cast. I have seen other productions of shows where the cast was just weak, you know? This cast has great energy and they are as nice as self-centered artists can be, heh heh.. Please nobody take this the wrong way, but artists are "me" people. After all, there is no "I" in team, but there is an "m" and an "e" ;) I just like how no one really seems to be self-conscious and are really developing their characters. It is so cool to have a front seat to this process.
  4. I like the fact that I can develop the character and channel some of my inner (and outer) bitch. I think that Liz is a fundamentally nice person, but she gets kind of tired of being in the middle of two friends that are fighting. Having done this in real life, it does get old. I really like that I get to be cutting to Rob -- it reminded me of my entire life during high school. I was always the boys' best friend that they came to with all of their troubles. Yeah, that gets old too.
  5. I must, must must must must take better care of myself! With this intense rehearsal schedule, my day job, and gigs I have with Charles, I cannot afford to be sick. I am really trying to modify my diet to support all this activity.

Anyway, once I figure out how to do video, I will be talking at you as well as typing. Thanks for tuning in. I have a lot to say about everything so this will probably be that place. Bye for now.