Every now and then, I’m impressed by the bravery and personal integrity of a human being and want to share it. Tonex is a young, very well-known gospel singer who has just come out of the closet. This is a link to an article he wrote after appearing on a talk show. Whether you agree with him or not, it’s so thoughtfully, humbly written. Such eloquence in his search for answers. I wanted to share. I was so moved by his humanity. (As as many of you know, I’m on a “humanity” kick lately)
Okay I’m not even beating around the bush. Yesterday, Don McKellar – ridiculously talented Canadian star, writer, actor, WRITER OF THE DROWSY CHAPERONE – came to see our matinee here in Edmonton. I had heard he may be coming but I didn’t want to know when. About half an hour before the show, one of my castmates innocently made a comment about the fact that some of the cast was upstairs listening to “Don’s” pre-show talk with the audience. Not thinking, I said, “Don who”. He looks at me like I’m an idiot and says, “Don McKellar”. I almost threw up. Not only is he one of the Tony Award-winning writers of the show I’m doing right now (which I may also mention is the first Canadian regional “non-Broadway template” production of the show), but he PLAYED MY PART IN THE ORIGINAL CANADIAN PRODUCTIONS. Oh my God. That’s when the praying started. Thank god for The Secret in my life right now. “Thank you for letting me stay relaxed. Thank you for letting me listen to my scene partners. THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME BE FUNNY!!!” That’s right, people, thank the universe in advance. My God.
Well, Hallelujah, the universe listened. The crowd was totally into the show. A couple of things happened before the show to remind me how much I love doing this show and how much I love this cast. That relaxed me. Plus I knew I had a friend in the audience that afternoon who I knew would be so happy and supportive. That calmed me more. So by the time I went out for my entrance, I was ready to play and listen and have fun. And that’s what happened. The audience got me, I had fun, I was trying new things, I got my laughs. It was a great show.
Afterwards, he came backstage and took a picture with us. I was so thrilled and proud when he said some really lovely, complimentary things to me. What those are, I won’t say but it’s safe to say I got his blessing. I didn’t realize he had seen me do other things. He said when he heard it was me playing the part, he wasn’t sure I was a good choice, but after he saw me, he thought my friends and fans should see me do this part as they wouldn’t believe it. (He did mean that in a good way – I hope).
Anyway, he loved the whole production. He actually came back after our second show and went for drinks with us. In fact, he wrote the cast this beautiful card (again sayings amazing things that I shan’t repeat) and brought us champagne (the good stuff) to toast us. And we all stayed there for hours. It was a really fun, exciting, satisfying day, y’all.
I do wish people could see me do this. My long-time friends know I do these sorts of parts. I grew up playing wacky roles because I was fat. hahaha Okay, the bluntness of that sentence made me laugh out loud. But most people in Toronto don’t know I can do outrageous physical comedy. So if any of you have time, come on down to Ottawa and see the show. Not just for me. But because the show is really good.
I know I’ve sort of talked about this before but I’m finding it a fascinating lesson working on this leg of the Drowsy “World Tour” as we like to call it. The audience was so warm and into the show last night. Then I went out to do my Aldolpho which is usually a “shoe-in” with an already effusive audience. They suddenly got very quiet. They didn’t seem hostile at all but more confused or something. Which always makes me firstly consider my own performance. Was a too aggressive and not relaxed enough? I find when I push him too hard to get the laugh, the audience pulls away. It’s a finer balance this time around which can be frustrating but also kind of fun. I find I’m learning a lot about comedy and pacing and relaxation working on this leg of the “tour”. I’m also wondering if they hear/get that he’s a former silent film star. The Man In Chair tells them early on but if they don’t hear that, it makes sense that it takes them a while to figure out what the hell I’m doing. That’s such a big part of the choices I’ve made with the character; his huge physicality, vocal choices, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I do win them over, (I hope, I think) but the few times that it’s happened where they start off slow, they do eventually get on the Aldolpho train. Thank God. But wow, what a cool journey of understanding how I work as an actor and understanding pacing and timing and trust and play. Informative and fun. I won’t lie, there have been a couple of times I lost the will to live because I knew I would have to drag them up my hill for a couple of scenes. But for the most part, it’s just been informative. It has been a challenge too, I’m not superhuman. My feelings get hurt, my ego gets hurt but you have to suck it up and get on with it. Take the lesson and move on. I’m getting better at that.
On another front. Last night, my cousin who I haven’t seen in about 20 years came to the show with his wife who, obviously, hadn’t met. They loved the show which is great but what was amazing was just getting to see him again. He was my favourite cousin when I was really young. He lives here in Edmonton and by fluke, he got my e-mail and got in touch. The three of us went for a late dinner and we talked and laughed and caught up I haven’t seen his brothers and sister for years either so we caught up on them a bit too. It was a bit surreal but cool. We share family history and I could see/hear family traits in him as he was talking. Yet he’s a grown man I don’t know. But the boy I remember is in there too. It was a great time. we may get together again before I go. And his wife is a totally cool chick. She’s tall too. Oh that may seem oddly irrelevant but I didn’t mention that my cousin is about 6′ 5”/6′ 6″ so it was cool to see that he found this tall goddess as a partner. haha Anyway, Edmonton has been really good to me.
8 more days then home. And the Sondheim evening. Oh yeah, if you guys haven’t gotten your tickets, get on it. Apparently the first show was a huge hit. The second installment is on Monday and the I do the third installment, the one I’m doing, is on Oct. 5. Wooohoo
Honestly, how hard is it to be civil to other human beings? I’ve seen and heard some things in the last little while that make me despair. There is not a lot we can ask of/from people – ie. strangers or even friends. Simple human decency. No rudeness, disrespect. Just civility. That’s not too much to ask. And respect for people doing their job. This is not spurred on by something that has happened to me. It’s a reaction to what I’ve witnessed. More detail is unnecessary. What’s more important is my point. What makes some people think that treating people like they’re children or idiots is going to get any better work out of them than treating them with respect. Abuse of power makes me crazy when it’s mean. When you hold all the cards and you still go out of your way to make someone else feel small and insignificant, it’s absolutely unforgivable and quite frankly – shitty behaviour.
I become more and more aware that we have multiple opportunities every day to make the choice of generosity and I firmly believe that every time we make the opposite decision, we slice off a piece of our humanity and through it away. And over time, if you keep lopping off pieces, you eventually become the heartless monsters we see in the news every day – abusing people, spreading hate, running oppressive governments.
I’ve been trying to be a lot more aware of the “yes” factor lately. Things that I would not normally say yes to, I’m starting to see what happens if I say yes. “Yes, I’ll meet this new person for lunch.” “Yes, I’ll go to that gallery.” “Yes, I’ll give that food another chance.” And I’ve been finding these new treats and, okay I’ll say it “blessings” from doing that very thing. It’s so easy to change your life. Just make a different choice.
So try it, my people. If you’re feeling like you need your life to transform a bit or a lot, make just one different choice today and see what happens. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised. (And don’t be jerks about holding onto your previous choice and expect failure and then when it happens go, “see”. That doesn’t count) Joyfully welcome the change and see what ride awaits. Each choice makes the next one easier.
Yes, you read correctly. Carrie Fisher – of Star Wars, Postcards From the Edge fame. A friend sent this to me yesterday. It’s an excerpt from a recent blog by Carrie Fisher on her blogsite. I had to share it with you.
Weight AND Wisdom!
I thought that I’d forgotten one of the things I was thinking of writing about, but now I remember………at least I think I do…… One thing is that I foolishly Googled myself last nite—–because the Enquirer has been trying to get me to confirm some asinine thing I said as a bad joke AGES ago, & I wanted to see if had shown up somewhere—- which it hadn’t—– until now, when I stupidly call attention to this non event here——- ANYWAY—–in the process of searching, I found that someone had posted that I USED to be hot, but that now I looked like Elton John. As much as I attempted to place myself above the reach of this observation……
I must admit that…..yup……. This ended up hurting my feelings—–all 7 of them.
You see, I was hot when most people are hot—- in my fucking 20’s & part of my 30’s……THEN, in an effort to imitate humans, I had a child &, to further maintain my life like disguise, I took medications for about 9 thousand years, &, despite all my efforts, I continued to get older & older——inadvertently, I assure you———-I tried to arrest my development physically as WELL as emotionally, but unfortunately without as much success. I also must confess that I ate food. I’m sorry….. I realize that I promised never to eat anything but lettuce & sun flower seeds, but tragically, I was unable to keep my promise.
Yes, I realize…..I KNOW that I vowed to exercise for 3 hours a day—-aerobics, pilates AND yoga, but alas, I admit with a large quota of shame, that I failed to fulfill this other important commitment.
NO, I shouldn’t look as if 30 years have passed. I understand completely if you can’t find it in your heart to forgive me for looking like 3 decades have passed…….Of COURSE you should mock & belittle me for being so large!! What else could you POSSIBLY do?????!? I’ve let you down by treating my body as though it were just some giant sad sack that I use to haul my personality around. You have every right to compare me to Yoda or Elton or Kirstie…….I’ve brought it on myself.
But here’s this thing that I found myself wondering………what the fuck do YOU look like??!
I know i don’t really have the right to ask……I’m a public figure——Ive made an unspoken contract to keep that figure slim…….but still, I find myself wondering…….See, I think the folks that insult & mock celebrities who DARE to pack on ten pounds or—–God forbid——MORE than ten!…..I would think it only fair that they post a photo of themselves along with their poisonous observations! And you know what else would be SUPER cool??? Their IQ! ALL the numbers! An approximate count of Weight AND wisdom!
And as a teeny aside—–my show on Broadway is not about my appearance. Oh sure, I’m killing myself trying to lose weight before I open so I won’t offend any theater goers eyes while attempting to entertain them via their ears…… But just in case I don’t achieve my goal of keeping my promise to look 25 & instead manage to remind you of bulbous slugs or gay, iconic musicians……..
I’d like to take this opportunity to offer this quasi poignant explanation & to say to those of you I’ve visually offended…… from the bottom of my heart encased in fat——-
BLOW MY BIG BOVINE tiny dancer COCK!
We now return to our regular programing……
Okay people. I just had the most amazing thing happen last night. You just never know where rescue is going to come from. Those of you who’ve been reading since Christmas when I was in Vancouver may recall the issues I had with blocked eyelash follicles. Those of you who weren’t around, I’ll recap.
While I was doing The Drowsy Chaperone in Vancouver at Christmas, I started to get these blocked eyelash follicles. What that is is make up or something gets into the eyelash follicle and it can get infected and/or cause a sty (lump) to form. Then you have to get antibiotics and use hot cloth compresses for 20 minutes 4 – 5 times a day to shrink it. And the sooner you can get to it, the better. Well I wear a lot of make-up as Aldolpho and about 2 weeks into the show. I felt one start in my right eye. I had had one before so I knew what to do. I started compressing but it got worse and worse. It was right in the middle of my right eye, underneath the lid. Eventually it grew and came to the outside of my lid. It was so large (and painful) that the upper part of the lid wouldn’t fold over the bottom part and the eye couldn’t even open all the way. It got so large, it altered my eyesight and the vision changed to the point where I could no longer read with both eyes open and would sometimes loose my balance. Here is a shot I took of it back in December.
So now I’ll power through the rest. Another one developed on the left eye, then another one started on the inside of the right eye. It was horrible. I went to three doctors, and we tried drops, ointment and pills. I had gotten into the habit of cleaning all of my brushes and make-up every night after the show. I thought maybe It was my make-up but I had always used MAC. I got rid of any old pencils, mascara, etc.
Anyway, once the show finished, they eventually went away except I still have a lump in my right eye that no one can actually see except me. And you can feel it if you touch it. And the vision eventually returned to normal. But it was a nightmare and I was thinking “what happens with the rest of my career? How can I work in the theatre if I can’t wear make-up?” Plus I knew I would be doing Drowsy again 85 times.
So cut to this production, we start the run here in Edmonton and everything seems fine so I’m thinking good, it was a fluke. Then about 3 days ago, I take off my make-up and head home. At home, I’m in the bathroom and I look in the mirror and see the my left eye is a little puffy and red at the lash line. OH GOD!!!. I feel it and it’s tender. Off we go. Over the next two days, it’s getting puffier and I can feel the lump forming at the inside (close to my nose) at the lash-line. I’m trying to tell myself I can handle it but I’m envisioning the next month ahead of doctor’s and compresses and blindness. Getting pretty down. So I go in to work last night and before I put my make-up on, I decide to just do a compress. As I’m compressing, the head of wardrobe, who is already awesome in my books, comes in to get my pants that she has to preset. She sees me compressing and asks what’s up. I give her the reader’s digest of this in 5 sentences, and without missing a beat, she starts to pick up every piece of my make-up, then putting my hand on her hand (that’s holding the make-up piece), she tells me whether my body is reacting to it or not. Apparently she has honed that skill, which I’ve seen before, of being able to be the conduit to feel whether someone is sensitive or allergic to something through energy. She went through all of my make-up and assessed that it’s none of the make-up. Then we went to the cleansers. The spirit gum remover was not great but was not the cause (for all you laymen, spirit gum is what we use to glue on wigs, moustaches, etc.), the soap I was using was fine. Then she picks up the mineral oil which I use before the cleanser. It’s a great make-up remover. I’ve used it for years. You just put some in your hand, rub it all over your face and it dissolves all of the make-up, plus it’s natural. Then you use a gentle cleanser and voila. So she picks it up and does the touch test and immediately goes, “Whoa!!” She puts it down, opens it up and dips a finger in, then does the test again. She almost fell over from the imbalance. All this time, it was the very thing that I was using to get the make-up off, the stuff I would rub harder into my eyes to get the make-up out of the follicles and it, THE MINERAL OIL, was the very thing that my body was trying so desperately to tell me I was allergic to and purge from my body. She said my body was trying to get rid of the mineral oil and tell me that it’s toxic to me and I didn’t know it. All the time in Vancouver, I rubbed and rubbed and rubbed it in.
To add insult to injury, a day or so before that, I had the passing thought, “I wonder if it could be the mineral oil. Naaaahh!!! I’ve used it for years.”. But, my children, better late than never. And as soon as she said it, I knew it was true. I felt instantly relieved. So, needless to say, that shit went right into the garbage. So part of my day today is finding some new cleansers. I will buy several and bring them all in for Lorraine to test on me. Then take back whatever doesn’t work. Hallelujah. Now I just have to let the left eye heal in peace.
Though it was a horror show to live through, thinking my career was going to be screwed in some way, as I play a lot of roles that require make-up, I’m fascinated by the way the universe sends you balm when your ass is truly hurting. Thank you universe. And for the record MAC make-up rocks the universe and I’m so glad I never doubted it.
Posting another video from my July 31 cabaret. It’s a song called SWEET TIME. It’s from the musical RAISIN which is the musical version of Lorraine Hansberry’s RAISIN IN THE SUN. It’s a tune I’ve love for years and final had the chance to sing it. Diane Leah on piano. She’s amazing and I love playing with her. I hope you guys enjoy it.
Here’s a link to a promo for the show at The Citadel in Edmonton.
Whew. Well here I am the morning after. It went really well, y’all. I’ve had better shows but it wasn’t bad. I was pretty relaxed. I mis-timed a couple of laughs. I still got them but they weren’t in the pocket but my number “Aldolpho” went really well. Thank God. It was so much fun and insane. The show overall was really great, I think. I was told Edmonton opening nights can be a bit of a hard sell and I’m sure there were pockets where they may have been more sedate but for the most part, the crowd was pretty vocal and laughing. I did get hoots and screams after my number which was very sweet. I had gone over on my ankle the night before in one of the numbers and so I had wrapped it for last night. And luckily it was fine. Just a slight thing. Nothing serious. It will be nice now to just run the show and have fun. The cast and crew is fantastic so it’s really a good time.
The only not so great thing was I couldn’t get to my personal stuff at the end of the night. A handful of us were hanging out in the green room after the party. There were a couple of security guards hanging out for awhile. When we were getting ready to leave, I went to my dressing room to get my stuff and it was locked. I went to look for the security guards and they were no where to be found. So about 6 of the cast hung out with me and after about an hour of waiting and trying to find the guards anywhere, we finally left. A couple of the cast who are staying at the same place as me vouched for me at the hotel so I could get another key to actually get into my room. Thank goodness. So now I have to run back to the theatre this morning and get my stuff. Literally, my phone, my wallet, my knapsack – PLUS all of the chocolate I got for opening which I was so looking forward to pigging out on last night. hahaa
There you go. But otherwise, a really fun night. Really fun. I hope the show does really well and I hope the crowds continue to love it and come in droves.
Oh my God, ma peeps. Have been having the best time with one of my dearest pals Sharron Matthews who’s been visiting me here in Edmonton. She saw the show on Sunday night and really enjoyed it. So far she’s one of my only close friends who has seen the show. We have been laughing our asses off. Today we chuckled, walked, and ate our way around West Edmonton Mall. It was a hoot.
Weird but cool thing happened. We were having lunch and suddenly this pretty woman walked up to us and stood there. I look over at her and got such a jolt. It was my cousin Candy who I haven’t seen in probably almost 10 years. She’s actually my cousins daughter (whatever that makes her to me which I never quite understand) and lives in Winnipeg and was just visiting for the weekend. We had a great talk and exchanged numbers. How crazy is that that I had to come to Edmonton to see my cousin from Winnipeg. And the weird part is I will probably see her sister when I do to Ottawa, as that’s where she lives.
On the show front, we’ve had 2 previews so far and they’ve gone really well. Great laughs for everyone and enthusiastic standing ovations both nights. We’ll see if that continues. I hope it does. It’s nice to do a show gets such a constant positive response through the entire show. I think I will be able to do this whole run and not get tired of doing this part. Whew!