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.