Keys To The Animal Room

My next project is a staged reading of Peta Murray’s Keys to the Animal Room at The Beacon Theatre. Directed by Christine Vittorini, it takes a hard look at domestic violence and how the signs of abuse so often go ignored. I play the role of the battered wife, Julie. After our first read thru last night, we talked about how interesting it was that there are so few scripted works by American writers that tackle this delicate subject. As an actor, it is my job to delve wholly into the character and the circumstances surrounding her. It was so hard to let myself go there because the subject matter is so dark, so scary…having no personal experience in physical abuse, I feel like I have a responsibility to those who have suffered and are still suffering.

Performances are scheduled for one weekend only. For more information, go HERE.

Presently…

Can you believe it’s almost the end of September? Where did all the glorious warm weather go? It’s been such a busy past few months. I’ve been working a lot, and next week I start rehearsals for a new project I’m working on. On the go as always, and even though I just returned from a week long vacation in Mississippi visiting family, I’m already in dire need for another one!

Watching: Married With Children. I never get tired of this show. Ever. I’ve been watching it since I was a kid, even though I shouldn’t have been, haha! The jokes went over my head back then, thankfully.

Preparing: I’m getting ready to do two giveaways! One with a sponsor and one with a friend of mine. Details to come!

Writing: Another article on the real lives of actors. This one is going to be focused on actors who have moved to the United States for their career.

Reminiscing: Miss Saigon celebrated her 25th Anniversary, and watching the trailer for the new production in London brings back so many memories. Like the time I threw up in the middle of a dance number, or the time I was dropped on my head, or the time I had to leave my pants onstage because they got caught on an immoveable set piece and I needed to exit…oh yes, all true! LOL, oh the stories I have to tell!!

Organizing: My office has been in a state of madness for a few months. I took everything out to sort, and I’m in the process of FINALLY setting up my sewing machine. Pajamas for all!

That’s it! What are YOU doing?

Happy 25th Birthday to Miss Saigon!

Twenty-five years ago today, the first production of Miss Saigon opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane starring Lea Salonga. In 1994, I saw the show in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre starring Jennifer Paz (Melinda Chua alt.) as Kim. I remember thinking to myself “That’s what I want to do when I grow up.” My dreams came true full circle almost 10 years later when I was cast in the North American Tour with Jennifer. I lived that dream for a year and a half in the ensemble, covering the roles of Gigi and Kim.

It was such a wonderful time in my life. This show made me believe that there was room for me in the musical theatre world, and since then I’ve played many roles that both support and challenge my type. The friends I made because of this show are forever, and I have Miss Saigon to thank.

Here is a video of the musical farewell that my tour roommate Kyle Bruich and I recorded with the two kids who alternated the role of Tam (Jonathan Wade and Brianna Laxson). These kids are both taller than me now, and have been for awhile!

Please excuse the messy room in the video, haha!

Happy Birthday to Miss Saigon!

Behind the Scenes of The Pawffice!


Pet360 Free Shipping The web series I worked on earlier this summer with Pet360 went LIVE today! Check out ALL the episodes of “The Pawffice” HERE! Here is one of our blooper reels! The other actors Joie and Brett were great to work with, but the most professional actor of all was little Noodle. He walked into the office and sat down in front of our director Tim as if to say “I’m ready for my closeup!” Louis (the dog eating the lunch) was a hoot! He patrols the office of Pet360, making sure everyone is where they should be. I asked him to fetch me a coffee on his next round, but he said he couldn’t run personal errands while he was on duty. Busy busy!

Watch all episodes of The Pawffice now!

Throwback Thursday : The Secret Garden


A few days ago, an old friend and colleague of mine Gregory Cooke posted this video! I found it about a month or so ago while writing reflections on past blog entries. Being in rehearsals for The Secret Garden concert (a one-night performance this coming Saturday!) have brought back so many happy memories! These voices, this music…ahhh!! Glorious.

With The Secret Garden director Michael Osburn
With The Secret Garden director Michael Osburn. This was before I learned how to put on stage makeup, yikes!!

Coming down the home stretch with this show! I’m looking forward to a little bit of normalcy for awhile afterwards. My husband goes to bed before I get home and he’s gone to work before I wake up. It’s definitely hard, but he understands and supports me in my career.

In non-theatrical news, I’m writing a couple of articles, working on a giveaway with a friend of mine which should go up in a few weeks, new jewelry will be added to my shop, and this blog will get a facelift. My professional site got a revamp yesterday, so now it’s the blog’s turn!

One day, I will sleep again.

What To Keep In Your Rehearsal Bag

I’m currently in rehearsals for a concert performance of The Secret Garden with Just Off Broadway, Inc. Having performed this show before, I am so happy to revisit this absolutely beautiful score. This concert is a benefit for the Orange County Arboretum in Montgomery, NY. I am reprising the role of “Ayah” alongside Broadway veterans Marni Raab as “Lily” and Craig Schulman as “Archibald Craven.” Playing “Mary” is a young and extremely talented performer named Alex Thurtle who played “Annie” in my last show Annie Warbucks. I had forgotten how difficult this music is to learn, but it’s a welcome challenge. I also have no excuse for screwing up since I learned the show already once before!

Canvas Lace Striped Bag c/o Chicastic

Anyway, juggling a full time job and a show can be difficult. Last week, I prepared several crock pot recipes to freeze for the next several days (which worked out better and more delicious than I had originally thought!) and I packed my rehearsal bag. I like to use a tote, just because you can fit more inside. This Chevron Lace and Straw Crochet Tote Bag from Chicastic has seen me through this summer’s adventures beautifully. I took it to Alaska with me, and then straight to Annie Warbucks rehearsals. Here’s a list of what I like to keep handy in my rehearsal bag.

1. Rehearsal Shoes (character shoes, sneakers, whatever you need to have)

2. Toe Stretchers (see #1, yup)

3. Script and/or music (duh)

4. Water bottle (I like the ones that have built in filters, then you can refill them wherever you are)

5. Snacks or a packed lunch

6. Tablet / Cell Phone / Charger

7. Throat lozenges

8. Gum (you know, in case you gotta kiss someone hehe)

9. Shawl, Scarf or Sweater (rehearsal halls can get cold, especially if you’re sitting around for awhile)

10. Pencil pouch, pencils and highlighters – I like the Erasable Highlighters to use in the librettos since any sort of permanent markings will result in a fine.

11.Travel tooth brush and toothpaste

12. Book (if you’re not a tablet person)

13. Recording device (or phone) to record music

14. Flask (just kidding!!) Ibuprofen or aspirin

15. Notepad for rehearsal notes

16. Wallet

17. Keys (so you can go home and relax after a long day!)

The concert runs for one night on September 6th, 2014. The evening will begin with a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception at 6:00 p.m. and will be followed by the performance at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $40 per person and advanced reservations are required. To reserve seats, please call 845-615-3828

Hope to see you there!

Friday Favorite – Lucille Ball

When I was a kid, I Love Lucy used to come on after the morning cartoons. I’d watch TV in the mornings until about 10am. Because the show was in black and white, I wasn’t intrigued by the opening song and never really gave the show a chance.

Then one day I was too lazy to change the channel or couldn’t find the remote or whatever (nothing much has changed, really), but who cares. I sat through the opening credits and my life was changed forever. All of a sudden I was making that face. You know the face.

I wanted to wear little hats with veils like her, and I even tried to sew a bunch of lace and flowers to an old sundress to make it into a ballgown just like the one she and Ethel wore while singing “Friendship.” This is the closest I’ve found to a real one, but no flowers or sashes. I love love LOVE her wardrobe on the show!!

Speaking of, I want this!!

When Lucy died, I was only just a little girl, and I was really sad about it. I had only been a fan for a few months, but she’s one of the few performers I wish I’d met while still alive.

I still can’t believe she kept a “one-take” policy on set. If you got in her way (literally), you got run over (literally!).

Here’s a video of Desi remembering his time with Lucy. Wonderful.

How To Be A True Professional Actor

 

How To Be a True Professional Actor

I’m always on the lookout for articles that offer helpful advice. While this article by Alan Norton mainly talks about careers in the technological field, ALL of these points can be applied to a career in the performing arts. I’ve adapted his advice accordingly.

 

1. Norton’s article says “Put customer satisfaction first.”

For actors, this means “Put audience satisfaction first.” This doesn’t always mean play TO the audience. Dear God, we’ve all shared the stage with an actor who mugs the audience for a reaction rather than forward the story. Sometimes the audience reacts, sometimes it doesn’t. Deal with it. Your job is to tell the story. If you do that with all of your artistic ability, then “audience satisfaction” will come naturally.

 

2. “Make Expertise Your Specialty”

Make it your mission to be an expert in your field. You are never done training or evolving as a performer. I used to tell my former students “All of the really good actors are either old or dead.” I mean no disrespect to the young and gifted, of course! But older actors have had more time to get better in their craft. Remember, you are only as good as your last performance.

 

3. “Do More Than Expected”

Rehearsal is like school. You are there to learn your show. The real work happens at home. Sure, you can spend your time just memorizing your lines, get to rehearsal and let the director do all of your work for you (that’s a great way to never to get cast again), OR you can use your time outside of rehearsal to develop a character and relationships within the parameters of the script with the other characters in the story. Spend some time outside of rehearsal going over lines with your fellow cast members and get off book ahead of schedule. Schedule time with the music director to go over your music so that it’s solid. Try different ways to approach your character. The more you bring to the table at rehearsal, the more your director has to work with.

 

4. Do what you say and say what you can do.

Don’t lie on your resume. Don’t say you can do accents when you can’t. Don’t claim to be a dancer when you are at best a mover. Be realistic with yourself and list only what you do well because when they ask for it, they are going to want you to deliver.

 

5. Communicate effectively.

Go through the proper communications channels. Never give another actor a note. NEVER. That is the NUMBER ONE sin among actors. If you have a problem with another actor, go to your stage manager or company manager and let them handle it. Years ago, I had a problem with a company member saying offensive things to me offstage. Instead of going through the proper channels to solve the problem, I took matters into my own hands. This person received no reprimand for their behavior, and I looked like a huge b*tch. It took a long time for me to repair the damage to my image caused by this incident.

 

6. Follow exceptional guiding principles.

Treat your cast well. Respect your director. Respect the crew. Respect yourself. You are on the same team. Be kind to your fans and those who admire your work. Practice humility, have strong integrity, keep your dignity, and most importantly, treat others the way you would like to be treated.

 

7. Praise your peers, not yourself.

Being an extremely competitive person, this is probably the most difficult one for me to do. I will directly quote Alan Norton here. He says it best: “Respect and acknowledge the talents of your peers. There is nothing more unprofessional and self-serving than telling others how wonderful you are. Professionals are humble and generous in their praise of others.”

Give compliments honestly while being generous. This doesn’t mean just hand out compliments like candy at Halloween. Don’t give a compliment if you don’t mean it, but when you do, give with your whole heart.

 

8. Share your knowledge.

This one is hard to do because we actors are prideful, vain and insecure creatures deep down. We are competitive. We think if we share what we know, it might give our competition a leg up. If someone else books a job because of your help, then that speaks volumes for the kind of person you are. It might suck if you were up for the same job and didn’t get it, but you have to remember that there are no guarantees in this business regardless of how much or who you know. Hopefully your good deed will not be forgotten. Just keep learning, training, preparing, and listening.

 

9. Say thank you.

Be grateful for every opportunity given to you. Give and say thanks to those who help you on your journey, whether it’s your dresser, your agent, your parents, your teachers…the cab driver who drives just a few miles over the speed limit to make sure you get to your audition in time…everyone deserves genuine and meaningful gratitude.

 

10. Keep a smile on your face and the right attitude in your heart.

Sometimes you have a bad day and all you want to do is complain, sulk and lash out. If you’re feeling like crap, someone else has to suffer along with you, right? After all, misery loves company.

However, true professionals don’t take others down with them when they are having a hard time. Yes, it is difficult to be keep a good attitude when it seems the whole world is against you, but don’t feel like you are being “fake” by pretending to be happy when you are not. Instead, be mindful that your attitude directly affects those around you. Try not to allow your bad day to ruin that of someone else.

 

Lastly…

Never let anyone tell you that you are only a professional when you attain your Equity card. There are plenty of Equity actors who act a fool on and off the stage. There are professional actors who have chosen not to take their card for many reasons. Remember, professionalism in any setting is not only defined by your skill set, but also your reputation and attitude. All professional actors, Equity or not, practice humility, integrity and accountability onstage and off. They treat their fellow company members with respect, regardless of role, position, or Union status.

Throwback Thursday – The Motherland

Yvonne de Salle from Sing at Home Mom

This photo was from the last time I went to the Philippines, about 7.5 years ago, just a few days after I met my husband. I loved those pants I’m wearing! Perfect for the hot hot weather out there! ! While I was enjoying an 85 degree Christmas, my husband (who had no idea he had just met the love of his life!) was skiing in Colorado! I could only stay in The Philippines for about 5 or 6 days because I was in performances of Peter Pan at the time, and the other actress with whom I shared the role just found out she was pregnant. I don’t think the cast was privy to that information yet but when I found out I was all the more grateful that she was able to fly for me.

It was rough traveling so far for just a few days but it was worth it. I was able to attend the wedding of my Auntie Jasmine, reconnect with a lot of family, and delve deeper into my roots.

What a different world it is out there. It aches inside when I think of the terrible weather that the country has sustained recently. Ondoy was bad, Haiyan was worse…and who knows what is to come next?

The Philippines is such a beautiful country and her people are strong and resilient. I hope to bring my husband there one day. It is important to me that our future children know where they come from. They will not have as much “Filipino-ness” as I do, but they must never forget their heritage. And they must learn to eat balut. Don’t gag, it’s delicious!

I Got A Rocking Chair

As you get older, it's important to have good seating.
As you get older, it’s important to have good seating.

I bought myself a rocking chair a few days ago. For my porch.

Here’s to completing one more trip around the sun! Considering how close I was to not completing the first one, I am thankful for every year. It’s funny how the trip just gets faster and faster and faster and it seems like I’ll wake up one day surrounded by all of my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren! Oh yes, I plan on sticking around for that long. I want to be that crazy old lady that just says what she wants whenever she wants. I do that already but I keep my filter in check. It seems the older you are the crazier you’re allowed to be.

According to Facebook, I share my birthday with 5 other people and a cat! Coincidentally, my friend Jesica and I have the exact same birthday, and her brother and my brother share the same birthday. I never thought I’d meet anyone sharing my birthday, but to know someone with a sibling that shares the same birthday as mine does? Looney tunes, man.

A few nights ago, I started what is already proving to be a daunting task! I am consolidating all of my blogs from across cyberspace into this one. I have blogs that trace all the way back to 2003! Reading through some of those entries brought back so many memories! I’m going to try to keep them as true to the original as I can, but if you think my potty mouth is bad now, back then it was far far worse.

I considered leaving the entries as they are, and for the most part they will be. The curse words will be edited out (mostly), photos and links will be updated (for the sake of making them enjoyable and relevant), and I will be posting a commentary underneath each post. I’ll also be including the e-mail newsletters I sent out while on tour back in 2004-2005. This project is going to be an interesting way to relive the past 10+ years, and it’s a little scary! There was one attempt to bring these back a few years ago, but I scrapped the idea because I was embarrassed at how immature I was back then. Then I look around at some of the goons walking around the earth today and think “Screw it, I wasn’t THAT bad.”

Here’s to many many more trips around the sun!