DONNABLOG #26 – NOMINATIONS AND GENEROSITY

This blog is going to be covering a few things.  First of all, we are in award season and two Broadway organizations have announced their nominations and Priscilla has, indeed been in the mix.  The first was the Drama League nominations:  DISTINGUISHED PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL; DISTINGUISHED PERFORMANCE: Tony Sheldon, Will Swenson.  Awards to be given out on May 20. I’ll keep you posted.

The second organization is the Outer Critic’s Circle.  The nominations included: OUTSTANDING NEW MUSICAL; OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER: Ross Coleman; OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN: Tim Chappel and Lizzie Gardiner; and OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL: Tony Sheldon. 

I feel I have to say here that Andy, our choreographer, has been the most generous of human beings and allowed Ross Coleman (who was his mentor)’s name to stay at the forefront as the choreographer.  Even though  Mr. Coleman passed away before we even started rehearsals and because of how much of the music changed in the show, Andy had to re-choreograph most of the show himself.  I could not have more respect for him for that but I still feel he is being robbed of, at the very least, a co-nomination. So since it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want, I am saying here that we have a nomination for OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER: Ross Coleman and Andy Hallsworth. Winners will be announced on May 16.  Very exciting.

There are several others to be heard yet.  Not the least of which will be the Tony nominations which will be announced on May 3 – only 6 days away.  Woohoo.

Now speaking of generosity, I went to see the Easter Bonnet competition at the Theater that the Lion King is in, on Sunday. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a charity event that started 25 years ago by the original La Cage Aux Folles company in ’87 to support Equity fights AIDS.  It was when everyone was getting sick and dying and the company decided it needed an event to spread awareness instead of fear and to raise money to help the many men and women who we were losing to this horrible disease.   It was such a fun show.  Any Broadway show that wants to  creates a bonnet that represents their show and then a number that introduces their bonnet.

What it made me realize is the power of the theatre community and of generosity.  Generosity of money, time, energy,  and love.  And how much we take that for granted.   It has also made me realize how frustrated and angry I become when a performing artist – actor, singer, dancer – is ungenerous with the “holy” trinity of time, energy and love.    We have the ability to change the world with what we do.  When we perform and share the live experience with an audience, they leave enlightened, enlivened, inspired, happy, giddy, mentally healthier.  Not every person and not every time but most of the people and most of the time.  And they carry that energy with them. And pay it forward.

So when a performer or performers are ungenerous, either because of personality or youth , it makes me crazy.  We have a gift that can literally keep on giving but when performers make it just about being ‘seen’ and/or adored and/or worshipped for their looks, it’s cheap and ugly and gross and it makes me sad and a little pissed off. So many people would love to do what we’re doing and would be so grateful.  There is always someone who sings louder, higher, prettier, sweeter; who dances better, kicks higher, is a better, stronger, simpler actor.  But humanity lifts all talent to a magical place.  Being wonderful to work with and talented and generous becomes legendary (for the good reasons).  So whoever is reading this, whether you’re a performer or not, please, please, PLEASE . . . reach higher.

P.S. ADDENDUM TO THIS POST:

Since I wrote this post – but before I had the chance to post it, The Drama Desk nominations and the Tony nominations came out.  For the Drama Desk, the show was nominated for Best Musical, Tony Sheldon was nominated for BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL and Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner for BEST COSTUMES.  We didn’t get a nod for Best Musical but we did get a nod for Tony Sheldon as BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL and for Tim and Lizzy for BEST COSTUMES IN A MUSICAL.  Woohoo. 

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Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

DONNABLOG #25 NUMBER 1 AND DREAMS

Okay so first of all, get this:

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That’s right, we are in the number one spot on the Billboard Broadway Album chart.  What??!!!  So fantastic.  The show shot out of the gate and now it seems to just be building momentum.  That bodes well for all of us.

The other thing I wanted to chat about tonight (it’s about 3 in the morning) is the nature of dreams.  Not the ones you have at night while your sleeping but the ones you have for your life.  Dreams, goals, ambitions. And I would actually really like to hear from people on this one so please feel free to comment and start a bit of a dialogue about this.  (Just click on the comments below)  What is the nature of our dreams, our desires?  What do they require of us?  I find myself in that wonderful/terrifying position of living three of my many dreams.  I’m living in New York, I’m doing a show on Broadway and I’m on the cast recording.   And now, a part I didn’t even dream of – the recording is #1 on the Billboard charts.  What does that mean to me?  What happens now?

It makes me realize how possible our dreams are if we work toward them but how fluid they are.   They change and expand and mutate.  What’s to want next?  Well, truly, anything.  Is it about clarity?  (Be specific about the dream) Is it about expansiveness?  (Dream big and see what parts of it come true)  There is a song I love from a musical called Flora, The Red Menace (which starred Liza Minnelli) called A Quiet Thing.  And the lyric goes,

“When it all comes true,

Just the way you planned,

It’s funny but the bells don’t ring,

It’s a quiet thing”  Etc.

I so get that more and more.  (Wow, that was a terribly crafted sentence. Ah well, it’s my blog.) I find when these wonderful things happen, they are not earth-shattering when you’re inside them.  They’re just the thing you’re doing at the time.  You’re just in it trying to make everything work.  But what is really comforting about that is that it makes you realize how much is possible when you stop thinking that it’s impossible.

Now I find myself with the idea of “if I can pull this off, how many other things can I pull off as well?” That is THRILLING AND HORRIFYING!!!!    To think of having no ceiling means you can just keep rising.  Yes, it’s work; yes, it’s planning; yes, it’s diligence.  But as you refine what you think you are meant to do and and realize the path you are supposed do be on, it’s not actually hard.  It just demands your love and attention.

The other thought I have about this is that the people who are successful are willing to go the extra mile.  To give up the dead weight that is holding them back, whatever it is.  It’s not really about sacrifice, it’s more about dedication to the cleanest running version of yourself.  I read a quote recently that roughly goes, “Everyone is giving ‘enough’. It’s those that give the extra that achieve the success.”  That doesn’t really put it as well as the quote did (don’t judge me.) but the idea is that mediocrity is the minimum effort; go the extra inch and gain a mile.

There is also the idea of commitment.  I’ve come to realize that so few people, comparatively, are willing to commit to their own worth.  Does that make sense?  I mean to truly believe you are worth that extra inch/mile.  How many people actually pursue an opportunity – period?  Let alone pursue it believing they have goods to back it up?

I challenge everyone reading this to make that phone call or send that e-mail that commits you to having to step up to a task for which you feel you may not be up to.  Then trust that when, not if, but when asked to produce, you can deliver.  Give yourself the chance to come through. I’m about to do that very thing with an issue I can’t talk about right now.  Perhaps in the future, if it happens.

And then let me (and my readers – bless you all) know how it turns out – if you can.  Let us hear (read) your story. Click on “Comments” below.  Even just a a quick paragraph.

Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in general.

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 7:35 am  Comments (8)  

DONNABLOG #24

I just had to share with you all.  I haven’t laugh that hard in . . . minutes.  Okay maybe hours.  But FUN-NY

Published in: on April 8, 2011 at 6:24 am  Leave a Comment  

DONNABLOG # 23 – WHAT THE HELL??!!!! X2

Okay so there is so much to talk about.  There are two things to discuss today.  And all I can say is WOW!!  So the first event actually happened on Tuesday night, our last day of our work week.  We’re already tired and so happy to come the last day of the week.   We had an understudy rehearsal at 1:00 but that’s okay, those are fun.   But just as we were starting the rehearsal, our stage manager, David, was on the phone.  It turned out he was on the phone with Nick Adams who plays Adam/Felicia in Priscilla.  Nick had food poisoning and may not be able to go on that night.  Now let me start by pointing out that Bryan, who is the understudy for Nick who has had the majority of rehearsal, was in Toronto that day doing a publicity event for Priscilla.  Steve Schepis who has only had a minimal amount of rehearsal was stepping in that afternoon so we could go through the second act.  Needless to say the day quickly turned into “let’s get Steve ready to go on in case Nick can’t do it.”  So we went through the show for him and then off he went to be fitted for costumes.  Oh, did I mention that Steve hadn’t really been fitted for costumes yet since he wasn’t expected to go on before Bryan.  Ah, well there it is. So they had to see what would fit him and what wouldn’t.

At about 4:30, we found out Nick was NOT going to make it as he was exploding from . . . . well, everywhere.   By this time, we found out that Kyle Brown was also out with “food poisoning” and so was Ashley Spencer (one of our divas).  At this point, it became obvious that this was not food poisoning but a bug or virus.  How is everyone  else?  Well, Tad was at rehearsal and already not feeling well in his tummy.  Mike McGowan had called out and was told (begged) he had to come in as we were down too many people.  So here is the toll so far, Ashley, Kyle and Nick are out with stomach issues, Bryan is in Toronto and Steve is on for Nick.  So that is essentially 4 people out, one person on for someone else. So that is 4 of our 5 swings on.  OH WAIT!! Just before half hour, Stacy (second of three divas) is puking in her dressing room – she’s out.  That’s all 5 swings on.  Jeff Metzler covers Steve as Farrah (the drag queen at the top of the show) and Young Bernadette (in Les Girls) so someone is going to do some split tracks.   OH WAIT.  Tad is so nauseous, he can not quite stand up.  He will try to do his featured bits – priest in Funeral, Errol in Broken Hill and lead singer in Country Boy but he’s not sure he can do the rest.  So now the male swings are going to have to do split tracks – more than one person in the same number.

I have never in my professional life seen the paragon of organization that is our dance captain, Eric Sciotto.  He was amazing.  He kept having to adjust and re-think as people dropped around him.   Add to all of this the fact that the new male and female swings had not yet been taught some of the tracks they were asked to do that day.  So our amazing assistant dance captain, Josh Buscher, was teaching them tracks right up until showtime as wardrobe was grabbing them to fit them into costumes.

Then poor Mike was having moments of nausea that took him out of a couple of numbers which would just add to the chaos as Eric and Josh had to jump into different roles. But here I have to say, Eric won the award.  In Go West and the Finale, he had to play 3 different people in both numbers.  He worked it out and literally would pick what was essential to keep the show and set moving.  In the Finale, he started as Tad for the entrance, switched to Kyle to unhook the centre diva, switched back to Tad to help me move the giant glittering shoe and had to become someone else after that or before, I forget but literally we all just did our tracks and he seamlessly ducked and weaved his way around the stage cleaning up the messes so no one in the audience would notice.  It was outrageous and so impressive.  A big shout out to him and a BRAVO!!!

But we lived and Steve did an amazing job for having so little rehearsal.  Of course, Tony and Will were so generous with him and loving and helped and guided him.  It was actually fun to have it be so alive because you never knew who you were going to turn around and see.  And there are/were so many reasons for switching, it’s mind-boggling – height, size, etc. One of our “Swedish” gentlemen was black that night – complete with blond wig.  It was awesome.  It would literally change from number to number.  It must be said that our swings are incredible.  Eric, Josh, Amaker who we flying by the seat of his pants, Esther who learned a couple of numbers right before going on as well and the dynamo that is Ellyn – jumping into everyone’s track at the last minute through our whole run and being a rock and a joy and a hoot.  Bravo to all of them.

That was Tuesday, now to last night.  Where do I begin???  Okay, at the top of Act 2, we do Country Boy which is an audience participation number where we each bring someone up and then we dance with them.  So a couple of nights ago, I saw a lovely looking woman who looked like she’d be fun.  She was this lovely black woman with a close-cropped hairdo who looked a little like Judith Jamieson. (sp?) – gorgeous. She looked about 50ish. So I got her up and got to the stairs and realized (damn that great black skin) that clearly, she was well into her sixties/seventies.  Shit!  She was a little slow and uneasy on her feet but all was well.  So I thought, okay, I can’t do that again. I need to make sure they’re a little younger and able-bodied, just because the dancing is a little quick.  So last night I saw this younger lady in a black sweater (remember that part for later), who seemed to be enjoying herself.  Awesome, she’s mine.  She seemed game so I brought her up.  It wasn’t until we got up the stairs to the deck that I realized (sigh) that she only had (big breath)   . . . . one arm . . . . . . . what???!!!  You couldn’t tell in the house because of her BLACK LONGSLEEVE SWEATER.  And not the right arm, which would mean I could still lead her in the dancing, but the left one which meant I had no way to lead her.  Dear God.  I was so shocked I couldn’t even cover it up.  “oh, Oh,. . hey, soo okay umm. . .what’s your name?”  “Now give me that ar. . . uh, and a little step, step.”  But I thought I would lose it when I told her to do the chicken and started flapping my arms.  There is a slight pause and she starts to, rather self-consciously and half-heartedly, flap her one “wing”. ” Oh dear God, don’t laugh at how ludicrous this is.”

So now it’s time for the Polka.  Well, it’s clear, this is not going to work as the arm I need to lead her with  . . . well, . . . doesn’t exist.  So I hold her and just do a little hop step with her.  She is looking self-conscious, I don’t know what to say.  Everything in the number is about using that arm and we have to get out of the way. Aaahhh.  So we live through that but now it’s time for everyone to join hands and then in a few moments do-see-do in a circle.  I link her left hand with the person on her left and on the other side, Jessica is trying to link her guy’s hand to my lady. Have to say several times to Jess through gritted teeth – “one arm, one arm, one arm.”  Finally Jess gets it and without flinching, let’s it go and so the circle starts.  I found out the cast was wondering why the circle is broken as we do-see-do around them.  I see each person realize what is  happening and try not to react.  Luckily the cast then do-see-do’s off-stage.  3 of the most uncomfortable minutes of my life.  Only because I put her in such an odd position. . . . well, she agreed to come up and you take your chances. But I couldn’t recover because everything I say and do is about needing her right arm.  HORRIFYING.  She seemed alright ultimately and I hope she was.  She looked so self-conscious and I couldn’t make it better in the moment.  But i have to say, I will never forget that one tentative flapping wing.

Never a dull moment, y’all.

Published in: on April 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm  Comments (3)