Monday, May 7, 2012

Make It Work

Rehearsals have been wonderful--it is such a joy to be working with such talented actors, and musicians. We finished blocking the show last week, and by Thursday night, I was already transported to another dimension watching the other actors discover new and amazing layers to their characters. What an experience! It's amazing to me what four years can do to expand an actor's tool box. 

Interestingly, a couple of us have been battling allergies and illnesses for the past couple of weeks...and last week, my illness took a turn for the worse. I'd ignored the fact that I have developed allergies and allowed myself to get sick, which turned into bronchitis--and I wound up in Urgent Care needing a breathing treatment (the first I've ever had), and then wound up back in Urgent Care over the weekend with a fractured rib. PAINFUL!!! Now, this is probably my 5th rib injury in the past 4 years--I seem to have something going on in that area, but this is the most painful injury I've ever had. I have cracked a rib in the middle of my back, and there is just nothing I can do to escape the excruciating pain. I keep getting stuck in position and cannot move. If it weren't so painful, it would be funny. But, of course, it hurts worse when I laugh, so I try to just ignore myself.

Thankfully the bronchitis is all but cleared up (finished my very first ever round of "Z-pack", yesterday, along with a round of prednisone), so that's great...but this rib injury seems to get worse by the minute. A dear friend took me for a treatment at The St. Louis Salt Room in Maplewood during my lunch hour, today...and I was actually pain free for 30 whole minutes--the first pain free time I've had in 4 days. I will go back tomorrow and Wednesday to continue treatment and am still waiting for my doctor (who has been out-of-town) to return my call.

This could be a whole new dimension for Marie LaSalle--LOL! She is 4 years older, and apparently a mess. Somehow, I will find a way to make it work, because that is what we do. Period. I've performed with pneumonia; I've performed hours after the tragic death of a beloved pet; I've performed immediately after having my eye split open on stage; we take what we have, and we create something new with it. It's a lot like life...but better!

Tonight we run Act 1 off-book. That may well be as painful as my broken rib...we'll see. Whatever it is, we will make it work. We always do. Not only that, but we make it work better--and therein lies the reward.

Love and Light!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Front Row Seat

One of the coolest things about being Marie LaSalle in New Line Theatre's 2008 production of High Fidelity was that I got to watch 90% of the show through the audience bleachers--so every night, I essentially had the best front row seat in the house! Marie was very much a "walk-on" character in that production, and my bonus was that I got to watch an incredibly cool show every night.

This time 'round, I have been invited into the beginning number (in addition to Marie's songs Ready to Settle and Terrible Things, her foray into Rob's mind as one of "The Bitches" in Conflict Resolution, and the final number Turn the World Off), so I'll have a bit more stage time...which really means that I'll have less time to admire the production from afar, as I will be participating in it. Therefore, I am savoring every moment that I am in rehearsal, because I have the esteemed privilege of listening to some of St. Louis's finest voices, while watching some of St. Louis's finest actors, and will soon get to observe some incredible choreography, as well! It's easy to get lost in the coolness...

I sometimes feel giddy listening to the group numbers that I am not a part of--hearing the incredible harmonies, getting lost in the outstanding solo work, knowing all the while that these have just been rehearsals to learn the music--the REAL knock-out performances haven't even begun, yet, and I'm already blown away.

I've been fighting a cold (or whatever) for the past several days (JUST DISCOVERED MUCINEX DM--OMG, why have I not taken this stuff before now???), so my voice has been for shit...but even so, when surrounded by so many wonderful voices, my own sick and healing voice has been so thrilled to even try to blend with the others. I'm at times completely stunned by the quality of the sounds I am hearing. Really good stuff!

One thing I love about New Line is that the bar is always being raised. Every. Show. The 2008 production was amazing (I have mentioned that we sold out all but one performance, right? Which included selling out a 4th of July show...just sayin')--but once again, the bar has been raised, and I find myself amidst a cast of stellar performers who just blow me away!

And I get to sit there and listen to them sing all night. AMAZING! I love what I do. Every day, whether it is at the bookstore from 10:00 - 6:00 or at rehearsal from 6:30 - 10:00...I am exactly where I want to be: in the best Front Row Seat imaginable!

Bli ayin hara!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Ready to Settle

It's been 2 years since I was last on stage (The Wild Party, also with New Line Theatre)--and I must admit, even though Marie LaSalle's one big number is a favorite of mine...I spent the better part of the day, yesterday, freaking out about having to sing it again in front of people I absolutely believe are some of the most talented artists in town.

Everyone always says, "It's just like riding a bike!" The fact of the matter is, though, that the first time I got back on a bike after having not ridden one in awhile, I managed to propel myself head-first over the handle-bars on a very busy Saturday morning on Delmar in The Loop. Had to walk the bike home, bloodied and bruised (while surely the wall of freaks--most of whom were my friends at the time--were laughing heartily at my expense). This is, perhaps, not the best metaphor to use when trying to convince me to do something...

As Dick would say, however, "It's no problem."

Over the past 3 years I have been learning a lot about what's real and what is not...and becoming certain that uncomfortable situations are actually opportunities to uncover incredible blessings, and this was no different.

I have the esteemed honor of having the sensational Sarah Porter as my back-up singer (last time around it was the amazing Lori White), and our voices just seem to have been created to blend together. And, she is absolutely hilarious, which is something I appreciate almost more than anything else! We both had our moments of struggle, but in the end, it was clear that not only is this a beautiful ballad, but its humor sneaks up on the audience to help form a wonderful blend of beautiful and silly, accented nicely with a fairly large dose of neurotically scary. These two women will be familiar in the most disturbing way...and I LOVE that!

What I think shocked me the most, though, was when Scott gave us a "Pop Quiz" on the first song we'd learned Monday night--and I actually knew my part! I mean, it was familiar, and I could actually follow along, and had a pretty good idea of what the sound of the whole things was supposed to be. Honestly? My music education was long enough ago that I'm not even going to use a number to define the time period (I'm sure you can guess), and it has not been something that I've kept up with in any sort of serious way. There are times when I look at the score with all of those notes and the 3 different lines of lyrics, and I'm not even sure which section I'm supposed to be using. I am much better at hearing the music than reading it, which (when surrounded by so many hugely talented musicians) can be very intimidating!

BUT!!! During New Line's first production of High Fidelity, I didn't come on stage until my own song--so I would watch the show from behind the audience, and the opening number was always one of my very favorites (you'll hear me say that about almost every song in this show, actually; whatever song is being performed at the moment is my favorite song). I loved to watch the energy on stage and listen to the incredible harmonies...and I guess maybe it paid off. Last night as we went over the opening number a couple of times, I found myself going back to that place in my brain when I had watched/listened to that opening number in 2008 (probably about 18 times)--and I knew it in my bones.

It was pretty cool.

In any case, I have a healthy dose of humility, combined with an incredible passion for this show and these people--and I am not Ready to Settle for anything less than giving 100% of myself to this production. It is so good to be back in the rehearsal process, and I cannot think of another situation I would rather be in, right now, than this one!

Love and Light,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

High Fidelity 2.O

And...we're back.

Thank God!

I loved being a part of New Line Theatre's production of High Fidelity as Marie LaSalle back in 2008....and am even more excited to be a part of New Line Theatre's 2012 production!

Marie is so fuckingly neurotic and fabulous--how could I NOT want to revisit her? We were able to find some really funky nuances the first time 'round, but this time I intend (with the help of Scott Miller) to truly tap into her neurosis and funky-life-style.

Marie is essentially a 'walk-on' character in this musical, which is such a dream-come-true for an actress who has (for all intents and purposes) abandoned her day-to-day life in the theatre (having recently resigned as Artistic Director of Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (moving to a role on the Board of Directors). 'Walk-on' roles are a dream-come-true for artists like me...

I find myself in the company of a truly talented and dedicated cast and hope only to rise to the occasion. It is a lofty goal, I am sure, but one I am confident I can achieve. Everyone is completely supportive and enthusiastic---and I have so much source material and support--I can only have certainty in a most wonderful outcome.

Thursday night I have the opportunity to reconnect with Marie (and her back-up singer, Sarah Porter--re-inventing this role for New Line)--and I have every confidence that we will have an absolutely amazing time!

Love and Light!