BEA ARTHUR = LAUGH, JOY, ENTERTAINMENT . . . LOSS

I am in full mourning today, my friends.  Bea Arthur – actress, singer, comedienne, boundary pusher – has passed away.   She brought so much joy and laughter to soooooo many people, including me.  An iconic figure.  Her portayal of Maude in the 70’s empowered women to make choices that didn’t depend on a man or what society deems “appropriate”.  And then in the Golden Girls as Dorothy Zbornak, she made the world laugh all over again, with that dry dead pan delivery.  Just hearing “No, Rose . . . . ” would make you giggle with anticipation of the oncoming fecitious (sp?)  zinger.  In a world where we need more and more laughter, this great lady will be sorely and deeply missed.  I raise a glass to an comic icon.

Enjoy this little tribute.

Published in: on April 26, 2009 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

SOUND OF SILENCE

So I’m sitting here in Toronto post-performance of Sound of Silence.  It was amazing, y’all.  What a fun night.  I love being able to see friends and collegues who I adore and respect interpret these Paul Simon songs.  And Reza Jacobs’ arrangements were so spectacular.  I wanted to steal a couple of them.  And by steal, I mean . . . . . well  . . . steal them.  No but they were seriously great (I’m stealing them).

I won’t single out any one person as that leads to bad feelings and I don’t need to do that.  But I will tell a funny incident.  At the end of the second act (and that was the last act) I was supposed to sing the second last song and then Blythe Wilson (Baroness Schrader in the Mirvish’s THE SOUND OF MUSIC) was to sing the last song.  Well Blythe mistook a cue and went out for what was to be my turn.  I saw Reza Jacobs, who was also the musical director, look very puzzled. So I walked to her and put my hand on her shoulder.  She looked at me, realized she had screwed up, scrunched up her face, turned back to the microphone, and said “Excuse me.”  Then she walked offstage amid much laughing, particularly from me but quite frankly, it set my number up perfectly.  My song was Loves Me Like A Rock and because of lack of time, I knew it wouldn’t be really clean (with a 12 person student back-up choir) so I had, at the last minute, decided to make it into a comic turn.  Well that incident with Blythe put it into the perfect place.  The audience was already laughing and bubbling.

My other song  was Still Crazy After All These Years.  I loved doing that one. It was just me and piano and all melancholy and slightly depressive.  I love interpretting songs.  That’s what I think I derive the most joy from.  Storytelling in song.  I love what music can do but being trained as an actor, I love creating little mini-plays with a song even more.

More, more, more!!!!!

Published in: on April 21, 2009 at 6:10 am  Leave a Comment  

THAT EXTRA MILE

I keep forgetting to write about this and I really wanted to.  This is just a shout out to the wonderful people who work at the Grand Theatre here in London, Ontario where I’m doing Dreamgirls.  The show looks so great.  Our designer Bill Layton has done an incredible job and the cutters, sewers, painters, builders, props department, crew and wardrobe department have created an incredible looking show.   In the craziness of putting it all together, my costumes – which are certainly the most understated in the show – were understandibly left till later as they were going to be pulled from stock.  What they ended up being were very nice, though a little casual;  a little showier than I imagined him looking.  Now I want to be clear that I know why Bill went there.  The rest of the costumes are so showy (as they should be) and he didn’t want me to disappear.  I didn’t mind them and if I really didn’t like them or see Curtis (my character) in them, I would have said so.  But I wore them for the tech dress and the final dress rehearsal.  Then I get a call on the day off asking if I would come in early on the day of our first preview (we had a rehearsal that day anyway) because they wanted to change some of my costumes.  As it turns out, all of our wonderful wardrobe ladies and our director and even the technical director went to bat for me and said they thought I could look better as Curtis.  But what made it even more touching is they didn’t have to “convince” our wonderful designer Bill at all.  He had already had the thought, once he had the chance to really see the show all together and he was thinking the same thing.

So I went into the fitting and they literally changed my entire wardrobe for the show.  And it’s fantastic and perfect and exactly how I saw Curtis dressing.  It went a long way towards helping me figure out who this man is.  So a big thank you and shout out to the extraordinary people at the Grand, and our director, Tim French, for looking out for me and especially our designer, Bill Layton, for being open and ready to say “nope, not quite right yet”.

It’s people like this that make doing theatre a joy.  When it matters as much to the folks backstage as it does the folks onstage, it means that much more to the people watching.

Good times, y’all, good times.

Published in: on April 19, 2009 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

DREAMGIRLS OPENING NIGHT

Well, it happened.  We opened last night and it went pretty smoothly.  I think it’s actually a really good production of a hard show to do.   The audiences in London can be rather reserved so I wasn’t sure how it would go over but they were so vocal throughout.  I was admittedly shocked.  They were totally along for the ride and were on their feet at the end -which I’ve not known the London audiences to be.

Now as for my own performance.  Ummmm  well, I’m not totally unhappy with it but I do still feel effects of not quite having enough time.  I would have liked a few more days to get the material into my body and explore all of the possibilities of Curtis.  He’s a complicated man.  I hope I was able to get some of his complications and even though he does some things in the show that can label him a “bad guy”, he has so many qualities that make him a great guy or at least, certainly, a visionary.  My goal is that, even though people will dislike him, they will feel sorry for him a little at the end.  Hmmmm We’ll see.  I don’t think I was bad but I feel like my performance got a little overwrought at times.  What I mean by that is that I think I was working a little too hard for the emotion in trying to keep him human.  We’ll see.  I do love this company and to any of you who are thinking of coming to see it – do, by all means.

And now we have a two-show day.  (Bad planning)  But that’s okay.  Two shows today, one tomorrow and then off to Toronto to do the Paul Simon benefit on monday.  If any of you are around, come.  It should be a great night.

soundofsilence

More info at

http://actingupstage.com/index2.html

Published in: on April 18, 2009 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

DREAMGIRLS AND PERSPECTIVE

Hmmmm . . . . I’m not sure what I want to say today but I felt the need to write something. It’s the day off today.  We had our final dress rehearsal for Dreamgirls last night.  It actually went well.  Quite well actually.  I found myself able to breathe through most of it.  I had moments where I was a bit hesitant but they were managable.  I did have two moments where I completely dried* which can be horrifying.  But as long as you keep breathing, it will come to you.  And eventually after a few flop-sweat-inducing seconds, they came.  But compared to how I’ve been feeling up until now, that was a pretty good night for me.  And it will get better, I know it will.

But what has been interesting and prompted me to write something is I talked to my parents today and found out my aunt died yesterday.  She had cancer and had been fighting it for a little while and they thought she was better but then she took a turn. She was an amazing woman; full of fire and faith and humour and she had no regrets.  She was in her 80’s but certainly not old.  I’m sad that she’s gone but at the same time, we all realize that she’s better off as I understand she was in a fair bit of pain in the end.  Now I realize that this is a little dark to put in a blog but I don’t mean it to be.  My point and impetus for this entry today is my need to acknowledge perspective.  My Aunt Lil and her zest for life and, now, her death are what life is.  Dreamgirls – though it is what is taking up my time and energy these days – is just a show.  What truly counts is/are the people around you.  The relationships you create, foster, nurture, choose.  How we connect to each other in the world and the energy we send out into it.  I know I will get this show under my belt.  It’s happening.   But what I’ve been inspired to realize by Aunt Lil’s passing is that the people I get to share my art, my craft with everynight, the people I share my life with every day, the people I share my heart with every moment . . THAT is where the heartbeat of life truly lies.

So I’m going to free myself of the anxiety and fill myself with the joy and laughter that’s around me and at my fingertips everyday.   Reach out and touch it, my friends.

Live your lives, kids, and screw the stuff that doesn’t matter.

*DRIED – in theatre, it’s what we call it when you suddenly can’t remember the next line

Published in: on April 13, 2009 at 5:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

EASTER AND DREAMGIRLS #2

Hey all,

First of all, HAPPY EASTER Y’ALL!!!!

Secondly, I’m in hell.  Sort of.  I love the people involved in the show and people at the Grand Theatre.  But I’ve never had such a hard time learning a show.  Just when I think I have something, it’s gone.  I feel totally unsure of my musical entrances, my lines keep escaping me.  Just when I think I know a scene, the next time we run it, it’s like I’ve never done it before.  I can’t figure out why.  It’s a bit of a nightmare.  Seriously.  I realize a big part of it is time.  It’s a huge show and we’ve put it up in 3 weeks.  Another 3 days would have seriously helped a lot.  We haven’t even had time to tech it all the way through.  And we have an invited dress tonight.  It’s not that it’s anyone’s fault.  I just think it’s bigger than anyone even thought.  Now having said that, it’s going to be quite good, I think.  Tim French is wonderful and it’s been such a joy to work with him.  But as I say, I feel like I’m letting him down as I can’t seem to pull it together and it’s freaky because I can’t seem to figure out why.  I can’t keep the script in my head.  I go over stuff and over it and make sense of it, and then when we get to do it, it falls apart on me.

So unfortunately, this show is not going to be fun for a little while.  I find myself filled with way too much anxiety at this point to really enjoy it.   It will pass as I really feel myself land in it.  Which may not be until week 2.

But having said all of that, I love this whole gang.  The people – cast, crew, team, Grand Theatre staff – are all fantastic and supportive.

And I’ve really realized something on this show.   It makes such a huge difference when the people in charge  (in any field or profession) really want the people working under/for them to be empowered; to really have ownership of their work.  The opposite is when a “boss/manager” wants the world to know that all of the good work of his/her “underlings” is a direct result of the “boss/manager’s” direct hand through the underlings.  ie,  a great manager makes it all about his/her employees (and therefore gets the best work out of them) and a bad manager makes it all about him/her self (and therefore gets the resentment of the employees).    What has really made me realize that is Tim French.  He really strives to give you as much information as he can so you can craft something that you can live and breath in after the show is open and he’s gone.  But he gives you ownership.  He wants you to take his info and combine it with yours and your own instincts and then fly with it.  It makes a huge difference in one’s own performance.  That’s what makes a great director.  Thank God.

Okay, that’s all.  I have to go and walk through my show mentally before rehearsal and try to connect more dots and get this script to stick in my head so I don’t suck in the show.  God help me.

Published in: on April 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm  Comments (1)  

DREAMGIRLS REHEARSALS

I’m so sorry it’s been so long, you guys.  It’s been a bit crazy. I can’t even do a long one right now.  I’ll do details later but the short version is this.  Rehearsals for Dreamgirls are going well.   Great group, great creative team.  The design is fantastic and everyone seems pleased with their costumes so far.  Set is going to be amazing.  Simple in its own way but huge impact.  There is not enough time.  Another week would be amazing, gotta say.  It’s just a big show and I’ve been getting Priscilla callback material ready at the same time which ended up being a distraction I didn’t really need but alas, it’s all tests by the universe.

Had the Priscilla final callback.  Here is the the final look for the callback.  Its me on the left and Troy Adams on the right.

priscilla-final-callbackGod give me strength.  That is a lot of work, y’all.  A lotta work.  But it went well for the most part.  Some parts felt great, some parts felt not as great but not horrible.  So now it’s out of my hands.  I have to say, it’s one of the friendliest rooms I’ve ever been in.  What I mean is the creative team, from the beginning, was so friendly and warm and inviting, it was a pleasure to be seen by them.  Now it’s a waiting game.  I have no idea how long they’ll take to come out with offers but for now, I just move on.

I still have news coming but I still can’t officially say.  There are several things on the horizon.  Hopefully I’ll be able to mention them soon.  Keep checking in.

I’ll try to give more details about Dreamgirls over the weekend.

S’all for now.

Published in: on April 4, 2009 at 3:16 am  Comments (1)