Oh my, y’all, what a crazy couple of days. I’ll try to start from the beginning. So we were a little late getting out of Toronto on Monday, which horrified me a little bit after my Saturday’ missed plane’ incident. But all was fine. We were about a half hour late getting into New York (about 1:20) which was great because it meant I could still meet Dathan, my friend who had organized the place for me. He had the keys and everything I needed to know (garbage, which key opens what, laundry, etc.) I guess this is a good place to say that the apartment I’m staying in is AMAZING. It’s so near everything. I’m literally 2 subway stops from going to work. The subway is 1 block from my apartment and work is 1 block from the subway on the other end. Come on!!! Amazing.
Anyway, Dathan shows me the place and then he has to go more or less to the same area I do, so he “escorts” me to my wig fitting which was at 3:30. It’s a studio they are using for hair and costume fittings and measurements, etc. It’s all sort of happening in the same room. I walk in and meet the designer, Tim Chappel, and he is a sweetheart, and his associates – totally friendly. It’s just a passby for them as I’m just going to see the hair designer, Richard Mawbey, who also turns out to be completely funny and warm and a great time. He doesn’t actually have wigs there, which is what I figured. He had to make a mold of my head so he can make the wigs fit. I’ve had it done several times before. What they do is put some clear plastic on your head, then take strips of scotch tape and cover the whole head (down to the hairline) so it forms a firm mold of your head. Then they take if off. They can then put this on a wooden wig stand and fill it with tissue or paper of some kind to fill it out. That way, they have a perfect shape of your head to make sure your wigs fit. It’s more about when they make you a wig just for you.
Then we started talking about the sort of stuff I’d be wearing. He looked at the sheet that had all of the information of who is what in what scene and smiled and said that I have a “fun” costume track. WHEEEEEE Apparently everyone plays male and female (drag) at some point in the show but he said I almost literally go from male to female from scene to scene. What??!! Bring it. Then he called the designer, Tim, over to talk about when I go on for Bernadette (heehee) because in the design, Bernadette is blond. Now, I was blond for 4 years and it’s a cool color on me (notice my American spelling of “blond” and “color” – when in Rome). Tim said, he didn’t see why I couldn’t still be blond. Just change the shade of blond to something more appropriate like a honey blond. Woohoo I’ll be all Crocodile Mary J. Blige.
Now I must mention here that while I’m doing this session, we are sitting in the same room as a fitting that is going on. A young (well, younger than me – as most of the cast seems to be from the pictures I’ve seen) performer in the show is there having a fitting. He is quite tall and he is being fitted for the “Les Girls” number. It’s a number where most of the ensemble men play showgirls. (There’s more to it than that but this blog is already going to be longer than my career.) It’s this incredible pink ‘little’ sort of bathing suit looking number with a bustle and will eventually have a huge headpiece. So this young dancer singer and, I will assume, actor, who’s name I won’t share yet since I have asked him, is basically in several states of undress. Okay, . . . . let me just say that I have rarely seen a body like that up close. There is something I’m noticing about these Broadway dancer/singer kids. They don’t just have dancers bodies. Seriously, it’s like an incredible dancer’s body and a body builder’s body had a dirty, sex-filled weekend together and these boys are the offspring. Amazing. Ripped, hard, big, yet long, lithe and supple. It’s insane. And it looks like most of the male ensemble has an average body fat content of about 4%. God give me strength.
After my wig meeting, I went back to the apartment and got groceries then met my friend, Danielle – fantastic singer and actress – for sushi. We could not have laughed harder. She happened to be in the neighborhood rehearsing a workshop of a new musical. Then to bed. Not with Danielle, just by . . alone . . . in different . . you know what I mean.
So, comes Tuesday (today) and I have to find my way to the studio where they are going to make a mold of my face for the masks in the show. 11:00 is my time. SO COOL! As you guys would know by now, there is a lot of drag in the show, so people are wondering how the makeup changes happen. Well, they came up with a brilliant idea. The make up is done with masks that are molded to our faces and are painted with the make-up and lashes. Just over the eye area. I would imagine we just have to add lipstick. This studio does all kinds of special effects. They do all of the Saturday Night Live stuff and Law and Order bits, etc. So I had to go and have them make a mold of my face. It was so fascinating. The guy (damn, I forget his name, but so nice) mixed up this pink paste then basically after telling me what he was going to do, glopped this stuff all over my face. Everywhere but my nostril holes. Then he left it for about a minute, then he took strips of quick-dry plaster and put it over the mask, then let that dry for about a minute. Then he took the whole thing off. It was wild to see my face in the negative. The added bonus was that my skin felt so smooth when it came off. We were laughing about how I need to tell my agent I need to play a dead body on CSI twice a month so I can get the “face-mold facial”. When I left, he was filling the mold with liquid plaster. Love it.
After that I went to say hi to my New York agents which was nice as I hadn’t seen them in a while. Then I headed for my 1:30 costume fitting. It’s here I have to talk about one of my favorite (once again, note American spelling) things about New York. For those of you who know about this, you know. For those of you who don’t, let me tell you. They have these . . . what would you call them? . . . . corner stores that have these salad and hot food bars. You just pay by the pound. Some are modest, some are enormous. But they are FANTASTIC. You can eat as little or as much as you like. You can have a bunch of great vegetables and salads and sushi with hot foods like mashed, or roasted potatoes, hot vegetable dishes, roasted turkey, baked chicken, meatballs, roast beef, fish – – I LOVE IT. It’s fantastic. So en route to my fitting, I stopped off and got some lunch and just ate it as I walked the 16 blocks. It was so cool.
Now the fitting. GUYS, I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START. We started with my costume for the number “Go West” which is when the three guys leave on the bus and their ‘friends’ send them off. There is a bunch of crazy characters but among them, there is a handful of guys dressed as versions of the Village People. I am the Cop. So they had a mock up of my costume (which means a version of the costume in muslin so they can test the fit before cutting into the material – often done when the material is unforgiving and/or expensive) and they had to do a lot of alterations. Well, they had to do a lot of alterations on everything. As I mentioned in an earlier e-mail, I had some weight I wanted to lose and I lost most of it so they had to do a lot of taking in but they were amazing about it. So they altered that one and told me that it will actually all be . . . are you ready??? Silver Leather. Stop me!
Then they got me into the outfit for the funeral of Bernadette’s young lover near the beginning of the show. How do I even describe this? I call it the “Executive Mermaid”. It’s all black, of course, but it’s a fitted jacket with puffed shoulders and long sleeves. The skirt is fitted over a fake ass and hips and down to the knees, then mermaids out but the bottom part has tool and a hoop under it so it spreads about 2 1/2 – 3 feet in a circle. On the right shoulder and around the neck is a huge floral spray. Then apparently, I will have a wig that will actually be styled into a crucifix on my head. A CRUCIFIX!! hahahahahahahaha I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, LOVE IT.
Then we moved on to the “Les Girls” number that I mentioned earlier. All I can say is full showgirl . . . and pink. Nuff said. It actually really looked amazing, and it wasn’t even done.
There were other small bits but not really worth mentioning right now. Nothing else was that ready. But it looks like I have about 11 costumes. Seriously. Every time I leave the stage, I change. I actually love shows like that. I’d rather be busy. We didn’t even talk about the Bernadette costumes. She has about 11 or 12 costumes as well which will all be made in my sizes too.
After the fitting I had an early dinner with my friend, Jeffrey Kuhn and we laughed and laughed. I’ve known Jeffrey since I did my first professional show at Rainbow Stage in 1988. As we finished eating, I decided I needed to see a show. And what better show to see before starting the biggest drag show to hit Broadway, perhaps ever? La Cage Aux Folles. So I went and got a ticket and saw the show. It was totally the right choice. It was just what I needed. Huge spirit, great costumes, great performances.
So now here I am, (I should have been in bed about and hour ago but hey, I’m in New York) reporting to all of you wonderful people who read my blog. Living it for Donna and her ilk. Tomorrow we start for real and I’m not really nervous. I’m really excited actually. I want to start learning music and hear the creative team talk about how the show works and meet the cast and see how this great energy continues.
Thanks for coming on this life journey with me, y’all.