Tag Archives: musicals

A Letter To Friends In The Audience

16 Oct

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You know how I have really high expectations of myself as a performer? And, you know how I am my worst critic and get really pissed off when I feel I have not been able to give the best performance I can for whatever random reason might have just occured?

…And you know how you mostly say, “I couldn’t even tell, what the hell are you even talking about?”

…And we sorta debate/argue a bit back and forth over it? And you roll your eyes at me, and I still feel I’ve failed, and then we all go out for a beer afterwards, under the stipulation we talk about anything at all but what you’ve just seen?

In good conscience, I can’t do that with this show.

…First of all, because it’s delightful and hilarious and populated by totally talented people…and second of all, because it’s a brand spanking new company, and we need all the word-of-mouth we can get.

This, however, doesn’t change the wall of anxiety I am facing every night to do this thing, I don’t have self confidence to be doing. You cannot reason with it, dismiss it, beef it up…I’ve tried…none of that seems to work. And though I am absolutely doing my job out there, to the best of my particular ability in this field, it is not a wheelhouse that any amount of exhausted rehearsals have managed to make me feel, “oh, hell yeah…I’ve got this.”

…In short, I will know most of the people in every audience of this show…because I’ve worked in this town for 15 years now, and have super supportive kick-ass friends. And I guess what it comes down to is:

1) Thanks for coming and being here for all of us, I know you’ll laugh lots and enjoy the hell out of this dork-fest of theatre love.

2) Please, dear God, can you spread the word on the streets to get some butts in the seats.

3) Fuck the beer, after…I’ll need a whiskey. Same table-rules apply.

Signed,

~ Perpetually-Freaked-Out-Susan

…And Then Some Vampires Charlie-Angel’d Me

29 Sep

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This show? Is fucking ridiculous.

…Seriously. How I am getting paid to do this is like one of those jobs people get that we’d all kill for. Like house sitting in the Hamptons, or travel writing, or video game testing, or secret shopping, or flavor-tasting Ben & Jerry ice cream. All these jobs pay you to do them…like its some sort of weird convergence Bermuda-Triangle-mix-up of stuff you’d do for free anyway, (or even pay someone else to let you do)…but somehow real-life hasn’t caught up, yet.

…I’d fear for the karmic “audit” to come, if it weren’t so goddamn difficult to do this show. But be that as it may…we are talkin’ some serious performance bang-for-your-buck.

….With the final completion of staging this weekend, not only do I getta fly around on office rolley chairs, and mime-shine flashlights up my butt, we’ve also got chip-eating product-placement, girl-on-girl action, a slideshow with monkeys driving speedboats, a conversation about being rice krispy treats, gollem and hobbits, flash-dancing, half naked actors, air guitars, multiple dream sequences, The Supremes, Vogue fashion pic spreads, and vampires Charlie’s-Angeling me.

In a one-act.

…That’s right, all that and so very much more, in a buck thirty.

…Seem a little mind blowing? Now add singing and dancing. Yeah, that face you just made? I am living it.

…Meanwhile, we are bonding through this wacky shift of insanity, into a strange little family who feel uber safe trying every single kind of physical, and verbal experimentation we can possibly come up with. Apparently, this makes us hilarious and so “fucking adorable” that our queen of choreography would like to “squeeze us to death.”

In a good way.

…I think.

…And with that, our sister-in-Rep show takes the lead next week for their opening, as we keep plugging away on our end, trying to corral all the duck-pigs into the play pen. Which is not now, (nor ever will be), easy.

It’s not that kinda show.

C-learly…

~D

A Wish For The Having Of Funness

8 Sep

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This is a formal request I am putting in.

….Because apparently everyone else in the world considers doing a musical as a hella good time, while my anxiety-brain has been a little-lot in Hell for the last three days in prep for both the first read yesterday, and tonight’s first music work.

I want to have a good time. I want to be excited and challenged, in the good and positive, “learn lots and get gooder” way, instead of the “truly gut-wrenching, terrifying, I haven’t slept in x-days,” way. Wish there was a damn switch to make that happen.

….Also, though am touched at the like inherent confidence everyone seems to have in me, I wish just one time when I voice my total abject terror at the moment, people would stop saying, “Pffft, you’ve got this.”

….Because, yuh know what? I really don’t. And saying that is just making me feel worse…belittling the actual real terror I am feeling.

….Cuz there is: ” going outside comfort zones,” and there’s, “facing past memories of the last time this went down,” that are flashing back with only the horrible parts, pretty much constantly.

What I want, is to super-real-time enjoy this super fun role, with these totally fun nerds, in this hilarious show. But my entire being is so fucking destroyed by the very real knowledge that this could completely be a set-up lesson in humility so righteous, that self-humiliation is only a tiny part of the possible after-effect.

…What I’m explaining here is: this isn’t just learning lines and choreography. This is playing a musical fucking instrument. My voice. A thing not played, or trained…it can’t even read the notes of what it’s trying to do, and the last time it had to “hold a part” in anything was ten years ago, as part of a giant chorus. Now I’m supposed to jump up and magically figure out how to tight-harmony as one of four, in frankly a super complicated “not your average 50’s musical” structure.

…I literally cannot think of a single goddamn thing more terrifying to me right now.

…I’d rather spread-eagle, naked, in front of an audience in a show-and-tell gynecological exam, than face even tonight’s first musical rehearsal.

Seriously.

No. Fucking: seriously.

This, is a whole new “overwhelm.” It’s the six-feet- under kind.

….And what I WANT, is for that not to be. What I WANT is to be free to embrace the laughter from last night’s read, and the screw-ups we all made in first pass at the music. I want to know, to TRUST that my team can trust me. I’m very big on that. And I cannot say, with any self-faith at all, that “I’ve got this.”

…So, maybe like just saying it in print, will help a little, in dispelling the puking-bad-horror I am feeling right now.

…Cuz even singing literal songs about just that, ain’t cuttin’ it.

…Type-casting has just never been more ironic than this. Like, ever.

~D

Fatal Comedy

28 Aug

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A joke:

A chick steps off stage after her final number of a final performance, and suddenly silently bursts into tears. From equal parts joy, pain, and unfathomable relief, she crumples against the wall in the theatre wings as the final scene plays out onstage, and makes a promise to herself.

…”I’m never doing another fucking musical for the rest of my life. So help me God.”

…And she totally kept that promise. For four years.

…Then, one day (early this week) a Union house says, ” Hey yeah…we wanna pay you to do this musical.”

…So the chick totally undergoes a severe flashback musical trauma PTSD instantly, and fires back a response doing damn near everything to talk them outta it.

“I’m super rusty,” she says. “It’s been four years since I’ve sung a note! I didn’t audition for the musical on purpose…you really prob’ly don’t want me in this.”

….And then they say, “Um, yeah, no…we really do. This is like a legit paying gig offer, for our premier show, in our first season, with extension option. So…you wanna join us or what?”

…And the chick, who is still freaking out from the first time it was offered, realizes that shit just got real. There in no real choice here if she wants to move forward. This is that thing she’s been fucking waiting for, it’s here, it’s now. It’s that “time” and “place” and “opportunity” she has been working her ass off for: A pro Rep company, in her own town, blocks from her doorstep. And they want her.

…It’s here. All the things…are right here.

…So she fashions a response, and presses “send,” trying not to puke from terror and the insane truth that: getting what you want can sometimes be supremely overwhelming.

…And the punch line is:

She loses the bet, but wins all the things. Just one day…from outta nowhere.

…Which is all to say: hey guys, I’m doin’ a mutherfucking musical! And by some wink of fate, it happens to be this one:

https://youtu.be/9DDdM66_nSI

Who’duv thought…

I mean: really.

~D

Miserable Joy

21 Sep

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By now, prob’ly EVERYONE has seen this sneak-peek trailer of Les Mis…but in case you’re the one guy who hasn’t: here it is.

Now lets talk for a second about the main reason this brings me so much joy. (And beware…cuz I’m gonna get super passionate about it.)

…It isn’t so much the cast (though I am so happy right now about the choices made, that I could throw a party and pop champagne corks all over the place.)

…It isn’t the fact they have a 70 piece orchestra that will totally go to town until my ears bleed (though you’d think it would be.)

…It isn’t even the intense attention to details in costume and general hardship-grime-ickiness (though, it is a major contender.)

Why it wins the Miserable Joy Award today, is because Cameron Mackintosh (unarguably, this generation’s King of West End Musical Theatre Production), has reconfirmed my total trust: that informed acting SHOULD be the key to musical presentation, REGARDLESS of how pretty (or not) it may sound. Acting FIRST, and the rest that follows will be an honest interpretation. As. It. Should. Be.

…If Cameron Mackintosh, is willing to back that and put it on celluloid for all of time, to the extent of allowing his actors to do their work LIVE and in the moment…if HE is willing to say, “pretty ain’t the purpose, people…what you FEEL is”…then I gotta greet that man with a whole slew of virtual high fives and “fuck yeahs!”

Ripping an audience out of an emotional moment in order to deliver note-for-note perfection, should not be how we do things in theatre performance, people. Lets leave “pre-recording” in the studio, where it belongs. Lets leave that to the Opera, where the entire PERFORMANCE is based around the music itself.

…”Musical Theatre” is another animal entirely…and it should be…that’s why it has a different name.

…The importance should be on the characters and their journeys. Sometimes, yes, it is just based on a strawberry-shortcake kind of plot with hearts and roses and not much else. So sure, that’s not gonna be the greatest acting challenge…and the musical intent will pretty much follow suit and take the lead.

…But when you have a guts and glory kind of musical…where people are in WARS, they are HOMELESS, they are STARVING, they’ve been BEATEN, and TERRORIZED…they live in a form of HELL and are AT THE END OF THEIR ROPE…PLEASE don’t stop everything and sing your soliloquy like your million dollar musical training coach has reamed into you, with note-by-note perfection. I wanna FEEL what you are FEELING right now…I don’t give a SHIT if your voice rasps with anger, or cracks from emotion…I don’t CARE if you run out of air and can’t hold the note for the full extended 26 measures. If your sobs make you drool, if you can’t even barely squeak out in SPOKEN WORD, what we already know are specific notes, painstakingly composed by one musical genius or another.

…That is okay by me.

In fact, I PREFER it.

BRING ME WITH YOU ON YOUR JOURNEY. The whole messy, painful, heartsick part of it. And leave those “musical perfections” for another day.

…What Annie Hathaway said in that interview is IT, entirely. As a performer, you should have a responsibility to service the role as it was written…and it is meant to be played. It is a disservice to throw that all out the window for vanity’s sake because it might not be the most beautiful thing to witness…and might not be the best version that you are musically capable of truly achieving. As an actor, you should be willing to make this sacrifice, equal to smearing dirt on your face, shearing your hair off, and losing 20 pounds, in order to achieve it. Or get the hell off the stage.

…If you can’t deal with these necessary details of live performance, get yourself a recording contract, and become the next concert-touring super star. Own it! I will prob’ly even buy your record and love the HELL out of it! Seriously. Because that is art TOO, and I envy and appreciate the HELL out of it. Within it’s own world of existence.

…But if you are in this thing called “theatre”…with all your GUTS, then BE IN IT. Please. Please. Please.

And, “Thank you.”

…Because, believe it or not…there are a LOT of performers out there who actually do this, and do it astonishingly well.

As for the rest, I can only hope they will become utterly infected by this film, and bring a renewed energy into the entire genre of performance, making it a new universal “norm.”

…God, I am just so exited about it all, I could just sob with relief. Really.

Thank you, Mr. Mackintosh.

Again.

…For like the forty-billionth time this decade.

~D

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