DONNABLOG #16

Oh my God, kids, craziness. All is going really well but, wow, our theater (yes, I’m spelling it “er” instead of “re” since I’m here and it’s their theater.) has so little space for our show backstage. But I’m happy to say our incredible backstage crews (costume, hair/makeup, stagehands) have taken every little bit of space and found a way to use it.  But it’s been a juggling act.  There are moments its a minefield.  Set pieces flying in from above, costume pieces flying in from above.  You would not believe the organized chaos that is going on.  The poor hair/makeup department.  They have had a hell of a time trying to organize where to be and where to put mirrors and makeup for us and where to get people’s wigs on so they’re not going to be trampled by a herd of paint-brushes.   They’re show has changed almost every day and it’s so different for them.  Especially since there is no way to cross over from stage-right to stage lift at the stage level.  You have to go down a spiral staircase on either side and run underneath.  And there are only four of them with a show that has something like 12o wigs.

Everyone is working so hard.  The dressers have had a better time though not easy.  And they are also doing an amazing job.  With the space the way it is, there are some costume changes that they can’t set up for until just before someone is running offstage to do the change.  The space is at a premium.  But as for the cast, we are sooooooooo ready for an audience.

There have been some changes made to the show other than the opening number.  But it’s a lot of housekeeping sort of small bits here and there.  Although, there have been a lot of little changes to the book.  A word here, a joke there, which makes it a bit of a nightmare for my understudy.  Tony has a lot of little changes that I’m going to have to force into my head.  New jokes, new words, new bits of choreography.    Yikes.  But it’ll be fine.  It keeps it exciting.

I’m still not quite over going to work in Times Square everyday. I know that eventually the crowds and the pushing and the noise may get to me but for now, it’s pretty thrilling.   And I’m loving New York.  I feel so at home so soon.   I really feel like this is the right thing at the right time.

As for the apartment, the universe is playing games with me.  I keep having all these little set backs.  I opened the box for the large wardrobe I had ordered and saw that one of the huge sides was crack right through in two places, as well as one of the top or bottom pieces. But first, when the furniture I ordered had come, I realized I had forgotten to pay for my bed frame and headboard at Ikea so . . . naturally . . . they didn’t come.  So that’ll be another 2 weeks.  Grrr.  And there have been other things but each time it ended up giving me time for putting together other bits or getting some cleaning done.   There is always a silver lining.

Now as for New Yorkers, so funny and pleasant and friendly.  There is one thing that I find odd.  Trying to get someone to move out of the way when you’re trying to get by, even with a very polite “excuse me” is like trying to pry the last piece of Oreo cookie cheesecake out of Kirstie Alley’s mouth.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  And if they do move, it’s a millimetre when they have 5 feet on the other side of them.  I just don’t understand.  It is the oddest thing.  Bless your hearts – move your asses!

Day off today and then tomorrow,  FIRST PREVIEW!!!   WHAT???!!!  How exciting.  I’m so curious to see what this does for American audiences.  I hope the show does really well.  Not just for me but for the company and cast.

I’m going to try to stay way more on top of the blogs, everyone.  I want to keep you guys in the loop.

Advertisements
Published in: on February 27, 2011 at 4:00 pm  Comments (1)  

DONNABLOG #15

Okay so this is long overdue.  Where to start.  Well, I guess we start with the move.  Packing went really well in Toronto.  I ended up having the last four days with lots of time to see a few people, pack up everything and not feel rushed or frazzled.  So we get to moving day and my friend, Micah, is going to do the driving to New York.  We go to U-haul where Micah has rented the van and notice there are 3 trucks in the only entranceway and we’re thinking how it will be pain for them to have to move them so we can get out, unless one of those is ours.  Well it turns out that that morning, someone stole a truck and also stole THE KEYS TO THE OTHER 3 TRUCKS IN THE DRIVEWAY.   But “Sue” who was helping us (one of those great “broads” who sounds like she was weaned on Wild Turkey) was on top of it and had already worked out the same deal with another U-haul that was not far away.  So we just hopped over there and picked up the van.  We had to do two stops – one to my place and the other to my storage locker.  Luckily my friend, Scott, was free to come and help so with three pairs of hands, it went pretty quickly.

By about 1:00, Micah and I were on our way.  Micah had heard about going across the border at Kingston instead of  . . . oh I can’t think of the other American city that is the usual border crossing. . . . it starts with a “B”.   Hmmm. Oh well, it’ll come to me.  Anyway, he had heard that Kingston was friendlier and less travelled so it would mean less hassle.  Also, way more picturesque   It was a really nice day.  Not really sunny but still bright.  We got to Kingston in about 4 hours or so and there was hardly anyone there.  And basically after a brief misunderstanding (the guard, who was not particularly smart, thought I was bringing equipment in for the show – yes, my list which included things like a “kitchen-aid mixer” and “7 piece comforter set” and “Wonder Woman cake pan” and “28 bins of books” are for a show) we were on our way in only about 15 minutes.   Once we were in the States, it was time for  some food.  We just hit a Denny’s – quick easy, middle-of-the-roady.  Then were were on our way.

I don’t know exactly what time it started but at some point it started to gently snow.  And we drove and it snowed.  Taking the route we did, you basically end up driving through the Adirondacks.  We didn’t see much of them before it got dark but what we did see was beautiful.  What was not so beautiful was the fact that the tires on these U-hauls are not really made for snow which I didn’t appreciate when they are sending you off on a long distance journey in the middle of winter without snow tires.  What??!!!  Weeeelllllll, there where not many people on the road after about 9:00pm and around 10:30ish we found ourselves behind a sander/salter truck.  These are cumbersome and out of porportion.  A part juts out low on the right side and a part juts out high on the left side.  He was creeping along and flinging up snow and crap so Micah tried to get around him.  Though Micah took a really wide berth (and at the time, we didn’t know were were on a bridge) but because of the snow and the fact that the left-hand jutting-out thing had no lights, we didn’t get wide enough.  It took off the right side mirror and crunched the top right side corner of our truck overhang.  Not to mention, we got caught on it at the same time for a second or two until Micah managed to maneuver us off of it.  No one was hurt but the truck sustained the damage and Micah was a bit shaken. Cut to an hour later when we had done all of the paperwork with the very nice State Troopers and found out there is only one little motel about 20 minutes away and then nothing for another hour.  So we decided it was definitely time to call it a night. So we did.

It was a  . . . quaint little room and it was fine.  We had a good sleep then took off in the morning.  I thought we may be in trouble without a mirror so, necessity being the mother of invention and all that, I had Micah stop off at a drug store and I bought a hand mirror with which I would then put out the window and tell him when it was safe.  Needless to say that was an adventure.  But we got to the apartment safely where my friend, Mike, from Priscilla was waiting to help us unload.  Bless.  So we took about 2 hours or so to unload and then said bye to Mike, and off we went to get paint.  It just never ends, y’all.

I won’t give you all the details but we got paint and went to Ikea and I picked out some furniture to be delivered as . . . I have none anymore.  In fact, I’m waiting for my furniture to be delivered right  now.  Yes, that would be 2 weeks later.  I didn’t know that at the time. Thank God for the two foldable, camping chairs I bought for $15 each, years ago and brought with me.  And as for the apartment, I LOVE IT!!   I couldn’t be happier.  It’s all painted now – although I do need to do some touch-ups.  And I’ve washed everything – cupboards, dishes, fridge, freezer, floors.  I’ve put away everything I can put away without the incoming furniture.  Many bins of books and clothes to put away – I don’t even have a dresser anymore.  I gave all of my stuff away over the years.  So hopefully my furniture will all arrive today (well the stuff I’ve bought for now – I will be buying in sections as funds appear) and I can slowly put stuff together over the next few days.

Now New York.   Wow, my people.  I won’t lie, the feeling of having my life in boxes made me anxious for the first week.  I often felt lost.  I hadn’t started work yet, I couldn’t unpack stuff because everything needed to be cleaned so that would be several days. I didn’t know my way around.  I doubted my choice of area to live in. I’m not normally like that but for some reason, I felt unsettled and scared.  Thankfully, Micah had stuck around to help with stuff that week.  But he left on the following Sunday and once I had to be on my own, I settled.  I got the hang of the subway, got the vibe of the area, I felt at home.  Then we started work on the Tuesday so I had something to anchor me.  Now . . . LOVE IT!  I feel completely at home in New York, in my neighborhood, in my apartment.  And work is surreal.  I get off either of the couple of train choices I have and I walk through Times Square to get to work.  I go in the stage door of the legendary Palace theater and walk downstairs into my dressing room.   I love the guys in my dressing room.  We’re having a ball already.  Love the dressers and crew – we’re starting to have fun with them as we get to know them.  Lots of laughs.

Yesterday and today were long days as we started at the top of the show in costumes and we’re fine tuning things so we are stopping a lot and re-doing some lighting things and, in fact, Andy, our choreographer, is re-choreographing some things to make the story-telling clearer.  So we spent about an hour yesterday changing Les Girls, the show-girl number.

Yes, an hour in this.  Heels and a waist cincher that was so tight, I couldn’t feel my legs after 5 minutes in it.  After the hour, I was so numb, I didn’t even realize my pancreas was hanging out of my anus.  Luckily the “poof” on the back of the outfit hid it.

All in all though, things are going pretty smoothly and when they don’t, something has happened to make it perfectly clear that there was a good reason and it ends up being better in the end.  The rest of the week is just polishing and running the show. We have to finish fine-tuning this afternoon and then we are in make-up for the first time tonight for a run-through.  Cross your fingers.

Just a note – I won’t take so long between posts.  I want to make them more immediate as interesting things are happening.

Off we go.  Ohhhh  Buffalo, New York, that’s the other border crossing I couldn’t think of off the top.  Ta-dum.   (I know, at this point, I’m sure you don’t give a turd but never let it me said I don’t come up with the goods . . . . eventually)

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm  Comments (4)  

DONNABLOG #14 – THE FULL RETURN

This is just a quick snip.  I will write more later. . . about this photo and other adventures.

This pic is me as a cupcake.  The producers asked me if I’d be the solo cupcake (ie anyone dressed in a costume) for the preview press event we did on our first day (Tuesday, Feb. 15).  So here is a pic.  There all are kinds of them all over the web.

 

priscilla-rehearsal-thom-allison

Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 6:11 am  Leave a Comment  

POST TORONTO PRISCILLA

I’ve been wanting to write this for a while but I haven’t had the time to sit down to do it.  And now I find myself with a few quiet moments and I have something to talk about; something I’ve observed in myself doing Priscilla here in Toronto that we can file under the “human beings are complicated” category.

It’s something I have to forgive myself for and I hope that others who had to put up with it will forgive me for.  It happens to many people but it’s something no one wants to admit to.  I knew that doing ensemble in a show in Toronto would be challenging but I wasn’t quite ready for it and I let it do crappy things to my psyche.  It made me into the a bit of the guy I never want to be.  The guy who is always subtly reminding other people or pointing out how “actually, I’m very important”.   GROSS!   And I feel like I became that guy.  I hope not in a huge, grotesque way but I know I did, at least too much for my own taste.  The human ego is so complicated and it was harder than I thought to not even have a feature role in a show in Canada.  I felt like I was being judged but the only one judging me was myself.

I told myself to just breathe and not feel self-conscious but I let it get to me.  I found things coming out of my mouth that came from a place of neediness and fear.  Fear of not being seen, fear of not being good, fear of not being talented, fear of going backwards, fear of not being liked.  Those fears can be very powerful.  There were people I respect that I wanted to like me who already did.  I worked so hard to make them think I was important when I didn’t need to and, I think, pushed them away, even if slightly.

It became a real exercise in humility.   One that I don’t think I passed with flying colours.  I mean, I hope I wasn’t obnoxious about it but there were a couple of times I heard things come out of my mouth and I remember thinking , “Why did you say that?  That was self-aggrandizing.  Now they think you’re a poser.”  It takes so much energy trying to prove how “important” one is.  It’s exhausting and a waste of time. Just show up, do your damn job, and spread good energy.  That’s what I usually try to do.

I went in, wanting to just do my job and be good at it.  I lost track of that sometimes.  It was great lesson.  One that I will take with me to New York and beyond.  The great thing about NYC is there I can be anonymous and just allow that.  They don’t know who I am . . . yet.  But I can just enjoy that.  I’m freer to surprise them and more importantly, surprise myself.  It’s a bit of a second, though different, chance.  I want to make it count.

I don’t like coming from a place of fear.  I makes you stop breathing and believing in magic.  Fear can suck it.  I won’t be that guy anymore.

Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 4:14 am  Comments (15)  

DONNABLOGS REBORN

This is the appetite whetting, folks.  I leave on Monday for New York.  Very excited.  But I wanted to just touch base about an event that happened two weekends ago (ish) that meant a great deal to me.   Well, there were two events and I’ll start with the one that was just cool and get to the one that was cool and deeply meaningful.

The first event was the costume fittings for my understudy of Bernadette on Jan. 24.  It was amazing and I’ve got a few shots.  I couldn’t resist giving a little look.  They are not totally done.  ie, hems aren’t finished and edges aren’t finished and some thing are just basted or pinned  but you’ll get the basic idea.  Here is the gorgeous funeral outfit with and without the jacket.

And here is the Colour My World outfit.  They’ve very smartly changed the colour of it on me because under the lights, well, . . .  I was the same colour as the original.  Not so helpful.

And that’s it, y’all.  Just a taste. But I am ready to give you a little Crocodile Diahann Carroll.  It was a great afternoon.  We went through everything.  Plus a dress for Miss Understanding which I forgot to photograph.  But it’s great.  Very different from Nathan’s but really fun.  And I will, hopefully, have a shot soon of my new costume for the revamped opening number which is still It’s Raining Men but it’s retooled and lengthened.  It’s going to be fun . . . I hope I remember it from the three days we put it together . . . 2 months ago . . . and then were told to forget about it until New York  (and then I pooed a little bit).

Okay, so on to the more exciting point.  On Jan. 25, we went into the studio to make the Original Cast Recording of Priscilla.  It was so thrilling.  Here’s the thing.  I was that kid who would take my allowance or work money every week and buy one cassette of a show (yes, cassette, shut up!) and listen and listen and get lost in the world of these stories in song.  I didn’t want to be a singer at all but I was fascinated.  It is what made me fall in love with theatre, the live experience.  Nothing is as real as a live voice telling a story in song.  Sustained sound/vibration/energy in breath – it lifts you and wraps you in emotion and mood.  Those original cast recordings were magic for/to me.  And the fact that I was going to be on one that some young man or woman is going to hear and decide, yes, I want to be part of that is so . . . hmmm . . . blessed to me.   And I don’t use that word often but that’s really how I feel.  There is something so sacred in that kind of “paying it forward”.  That’s when you realize that the choices we make can directly affect the next generation.  A bit of the divine, my dears.

Anyway, I wanted to be able to share the day with all of you so here are some highlights.  I didn’t get a lot of shots of the girls as they were on the other side of the room and we were moving through stuff quickly.  But here are the boys just as we were getting ourselves together to start. Oh and the principles were not here for this.  It was just the ensemble this day.

Tad cannot resist a camera as you can see above . . . oh, and below with my boi, Eric.

Speaking of Eric, this is one of my favourite poses he does for me all the time.  I can’t really explain how it started, but it makes me laugh every time.

Now to our ladies.   This is Ellyn, Stacy, and Ashley.

Jackie.

And our Keala,

Here is our fearless leader, Musical Director, keyboardist and conductor, Jeff.

And finally, my favourite shot.  Me and two of my homeys (I’m coming over all gh’tto) Mike and Gavin.

And that’s about it, y’all.  It went really smoothly and by the time we open (possibly by previews)  we’ll have a the final product.  I’ll keep you posted.  Thanks for reading, everyone.

Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment