Monday, June 29, 2009

Showtunes in the key of PANTS: Volume 2

PANTS! a singular sensation, every little step you take
PANTS! covering your legs, every move that you make
One try and suddenly no other PANTS will do
You know you'll never be naked with you-know-who

One day wrapped in her comfort and you can forget the rest
For the PANTS are second best to none, son
Oooh! Sigh! Perfect through the inseam
Oooh! My! The answer to my dream! They're the PANTS!

What good is sitting alone in your PANTS?
Invite a friend to play.
Life is a pair of PANTS, old chum,
Come to my pair of PANTS

O....Oklahoma, where the wind comes and sweeps you out your PANTS...
And the wavin' breeze blows right past your knees
And you hope you're wearing clean underpants

You work real hard
And the pay's real low
And ev'ry hour
Goes oh, so slow
And at the end of the day
There's no where to go
But home to Avenue PANTS!
You live on Avenue PANTS!
Your friends don't dance.
You own twenty PANTS
And you live on Avenue PANTS!
You live on Avenue PANTS
You live on Avenue PANTS

Come on babe why don't you wear the PANTS
and all that jazz
We're gonna hide those knees
under some stylin' PANTS
and all that jazz
Zip them up I know the perfect pair
that hide all your flaws
and your long leg hair
You'll look lean and tall
They make your waist look small
And all that jazz!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Poisoning the Soup: Theatre Thursday

I've understudied roles several times... a few times knowing I would get to perform, and twice with the assumption that I would never go on. Unless something terrible happened to the actress I was understudying.

The first understudying gig I had was for a fabulous professional production of The Cherry Orchard. I understudied Varya, a role I'd love to play for real. I played a servant in the show otherwise. It was my first experience wearing a real corset, and let me tell you, now I truly understand why those ladies were passing out all the time. You cannot breathe when you are bound up in one of those horrible things!
Here I am with the very nice actress who got to play the part. And the dog. And Keir Dullea, of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame, who played Lopakhin. I cut it out of this picture, but on the table in front of us was a box of donuts, which reminded me that our cast rule was that if you were late for a calltime, the next day you had to bring the whole cast donuts (one time the gal playing Dunyasha was so late for a call time - her flight was delayed- that we thought her understudy might have to go on. The next day she brought donuts for everyone and wine for her understudy.)

It's a hard and thankless job, understudying. I take the responsibility very seriously, and work hard to know all the lines and all the blocking (stage movement) should I ever get the opportunity to go on. But I don't get the benefit of rehearsing. I have to be ready to do mybest replica of someone else's character, without discovering any of it for myself. Still, I certainly don't ever want to be in the position of saying "oh, I'm not ready."

Beedle dee, dee dee dee...
two ladies

When I understudied the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret there were two times I thought I might have to go on. After the first weekend of performances the director called me and told me the actress might not be able to finish the run of the show. We scheduled a tentative rehearsal for me and the actor playing Cliff, and I started feverishly going over the lines (again. Honestly, I did know them, but nothing like a little nerves to make you work some more!) He called back and told me not to worry. But then the following weekend she was very late for a call, which was highly unusual, and the stage manager came in and asked if I could go on if necessary. "Of course," I said. She stopped dead in her tracks. "Really?" "Yes, that's my job. I'll probably fake half the choreography and Cliff might have to cover up a few of my line flubs, but I know the show." She gaped at me for a minute. "OK then. Great." The real Sally showed up shortly after, and I went on as Frenchie, as usual.

I've never been in the position to go on without notice (for a part I was understudying... I did get thrown into a role with no warning once... I'll have to cover that in another post!). And frankly I hope from here on out I'm doing roles, not understudying them.

But let me just say that if I do understudy again, the actress had better take a cue from these lovely ladies and be nice to me. Because I'm not entirely sure that I'm above poisoning soup.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


A few months ago a store was having a sale - buy one get one free. Hair dye. They only had one box of my usual color, so I timidly picked up a box of Auburn Brown. I looked at. I thought about how when I wore this wig, everyone said I looked great as a red head. I thought it might be kind of fun this summer, when I wasn't in a show and didn't have to answer to a director, to dye my hair a different color. I shook my head. Put both boxes back. Thought I'd check back later in the week to see if they had two of MY color.

Then I picked it up again. Why not? I bought it.

Well, here I am. I'm not in a show. It will be at least 2 1/2 weeks before I can audition for anything. And that box of dye was the only one under the sink.

I pulled it out. I looked at it. I compared it to my regular color.


I put it down.

I'll go buy my regular color tomorrow.

Then I picked it up again. Why not?

I tore open the box and quickly began before I could rethink it.

While working it through my hair I began to get terrified by the blood colored solution. I reminded myself of a time nearly 8 years ago when I dyed my hair auburn. Again, I was in a rare "between shows" time... this time a forced break so I could go visit my bestest friend in NYC. Wouldn't it be fun to be a redhead in NYC? I dyed it. No one noticed the change. Not even me.

Maybe this time will be like that?

After letting my hair soak the appointed time I hopped in the shower. MAROON colored water flowed from my head.

I freaked out a little.

I WASHED my hair.

I don't think it came out.

It's air drying now. I'm a little afraid. I'm a lot afraid.

I'm hoping it will be like last time, and no one will notice. I dyed my hair a different color thinking it would be fun and now I'm hoping no one will notice. Crazy.

It's just hair, right? In four weeks I can dye it back.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Name that Maypole

Last night the May Queen and I were reading bedtime stories, when she pointed at this picture and said "Look, a maypole!"Indeed. Can you guess which book it's from? (It's a detail of a larger illustration)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

They say it's my birthday

But no one asked me what theme I wanted my birthday party to be.

I certainly would not have picked "shopping at WalMart and discovering that my car's air conditioner is STILL not working (after paying to have it fixed on Wednesday)."

At least I got lots of homemade cards.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

On the Road: Theatre Thursday

Before I had a child, I did quite lot of children's theatre. Now that I have a child it seems I do almost exclusively plays that are inappropriate for kids. It seems backwards, but I did a lot of touring to schools with shows... and the daytime schedule isn't friendly to mothers. There also hasn't been much of this type of theatre in the places I've lived since The May Queen was born.

Less than a year out of college I got my first honest to goodness, regular paycheck acting job. It was a show that toured to middle schools and touted the evils of cigarettes. I played the oddball friend to the lead character... the bad influence girl who smoked and dropped out of track.
the bad girl with the cigarettes in her smiley face backpack. beware
I ended up doing two tours of this show, and have many memories of early morning call times as 7 of us (6 actors and one stage manager) piled into the large white van and drove off to cafetoriums throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Much talking, laughing, game playing and crossword puzzle solving happened in that van, but we all quickly learned the truth behind our stage manager's sage advice: van stories never translate to the uninitiated. Oh, we tried. We'd go home and regale our loved ones and roommates with the hilarity that ensued in the van that day...the bad directions from the school that got us lost, or the way we'd count the stoplights like the count from Sesame Street or the ransom note we had left for the stage manager's Xmen toy. If we were lucky we'd get a polite smile and a nod. Usually we got a blank stare. So we learned to keep the van stories to ourselves.

(I have van pictures, but I can't share them.
What happens in the van, stays in the van)
When we arrived at our destination we'd haul the set, lights and sound equipment out of the back of the van. The theatre prided itself in being professional, and we came with the stuff to prove it. We each had our job (mine was lights) and once everything was inside we set to task setting up. We could load in, set up and get ready to perform in less than an hour. We had to be flexible, because each stage was different. Sometimes the stage would be too small and we'd have to adjust and use less of the set. It was great practice in making it work.
One of the smallest stages we ever performed on. To get to this room we had to haul everything up 2 flights of stairs. We were grateful that everything wouldn't fit and therefore could stay in the parking lot! Notice that I am holding a blue Wolverine figure... I believe he had been returned by his kidnappers in exchange for some Dunkin' Donuts.

I went on to do yet another show with them, a show for elementary students that centered around Native American folklore. I played the mischievous Coyote. At one show at a small private school we performed on a raked (slanted) stage. We set up telegraphing poles to hang the backdrops from, and then we had this pulley system that went over the backdrops to raise and lower a pair of eyeballs (just go with it...) from a circular set piece. When the actor behind the scenes pulled the rope at the appointed time it threw off the delicate balance of the whole thing, and the set fell onto the two of us on stage, revealing the actor backstage frozen in a fabulous pose of arms stretched out in a futile gesture, eyes wide. There was nothing to do but stop the show and enlist the help of some teachers to get it back up and functional. Then we started again.
The eyeballs!!
We did one, two or sometimes three shows a day... often at two different schools. They were long exhausting days of physical labor and thinking on our feet. And, of course, performing.

I loved it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Showtunes in the key of PANTS

Hello PANTS!
Well, Hello
It's so nice to have you back where you belong
My @ss looks swell,
I can tell,
You still fit me, you're not stained
You're still goin' strong.

Some enchanted evening
You may see some PANTS,
you may see some PANTS
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know,
You know even then
That someday you'll wear them
Again and again.

At the end of the day you're a little bit stretched out
And that's all you can say for the life of the PANTS

You get spilled on, maybe torn

Then they throw you right into the corner

One more day lying about, what is it for?

One day closer to cut-offs.

Sing once again with me
Our strange duet
Two legs inside of me
look leaner yet
And though you turn in the mirror
to check your behind
The Phantom of the PANTS is there
Inside your mind

Who must know the way to fall across the hip,
and down the leg, and cross your bum?
Who has pockets so that you can cart your stuff,
Your license, credit cards and your phone?

The PANTS, the PANTS! Tradition!
The PANTS, the PANTS! Tradition!

Into the PANTS,
It's time to go,
I hate to leave,
I have to, though.
Into the PANTS-
It's time, and so
I must return to my house.

Into the PANTS
And from this bed
Though it's been fun,
Its must be said.
Into the PANTS,
and please don't tell
My very jealous spouse.

When you are PANTS,
You are PANTS all the way

From the first time you're worn

To your last dyin' day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I have been melancholy of late, as you know, floundering about without a show. I joked with a friend the other day that I don't know who I am when I'm not working on a play. And in a sad way I find that to be true.

I've been thinking a lot lately, even before this time, about what my theatrical dreams have been. What I have always longed for was to be part of a true repertory company. To have a home theatre. To be challenged with roles and called out for my bad habits and trusted to try new things. To have a community with whom I work again and again. To develop a language of working together and to inspire each other to think of things in a new way. To struggle and laugh and party and CREATE ART together.

When I greedily watched 3 seasons worth of Slings and Arrows in 2 weeks, all while in rehearsals and performances, I found that one of the things that attracted me most was that it was a show about a repertory theatre company. A show about what I long to do, with all the highs and lows of that.

There are very few true repertory companies left. There are some summer repertory companies. But most theatres that call themselves repertory companies do not truly have a COMPANY.

The theatre community in NOLA isn't terribly large. I have worked with many of the same people over and over.

But it's not the same. There is not something here that fits the bill.

I struggle with just accepting that and making the best of what IS here. Which is what I do, I suppose. But I wonder, sometimes, if there is a way to make it happen. You know, other than winning the lottery and then building a fabulous facility and inviting a few of my favoritist actors and directors and friends from across the country to come and make my dream come true. I've thought about trying to make it happen here for me, on a smaller scale. But I'm not sure I know who I would want to make it happen with, here. I know that I've never wanted to run a theatre. But it's still the dream. I don't think the opportunity is going to fall in my lap, and I'm not in the position to audition for rep companies and move where the job is. I have a family and I have a husband who can't just get a job anywhere. So I am here. And if this is going to remain the dream, then I need to think about how to make it work. Can I make it work?

I'm not expecting to find answers to this any time soon. But it is what is percolating in my melancholy brain these days.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Falling in Love with the Bard: Theatre Thursday

It seems only appropriate that I keep up the Shakespearean theme this week for Theatre Thursday.

In college, I wasn't so big on Shakespeare. I didn't dislike him, but I didn't love him. All acting students spend an entire quarter their junior year doing nothing but Shakespeare. I honestly cannot tell you what scenes I did... I have a vague memory of doing a scene from Hamlet. I think I was Rosencrantz. Or maybe Guildenstern. I don't recall. At the same time I chose to take a class on Shakespeare's plays through the English Department (because I am a geek like that. I also took a class on Greek Tragedies from the Classics Department when we were doing Greek plays in acting class.)

At the time, I didn't love Shakespeare. I wasn't the greatest at acting it, nor was I terribly inspired by it.

But apparently, I learned something.

The second show I was cast in outside of college was Much Ado about Nothing. I played Margaret. I remember being a bit surprised to be cast in a Shakespeare play, because I never thought of it as my strong suit. But I soon realized that few people have training in Shakespeare at all. I really had learned something about scansion and the use of rhyme and understanding the plays in those classes back at school.
Gotta love scanners. Not a great pic, though. That's me on the right, in the green.

When we moved to Los Angeles in 1999 the first show I did there was The Merry Wives of Windsor. Actually, I auditioned for that show before I even moved there... we were out for my husband's interview and I went to a general audition for a summer Shakespeare Rep company at a beautiful outdoor theatre in the hills outside of LA. When we arrived in town a month or so later I sent a postcard with my new local phone number. They called and cast me immediately... they had had someone drop out of a production currently in rehearsal. I began rehearsals the day our moving truck arrived with our stuff (and my car broke down on a winding mountain road as I drove to that first rehearsal). I was a mere servant, lugging around the buskbasket with a very large Falstaff hidden within, but I also had a part in Shaw's St. Joan and played Queen Elizabeth in a living history program for school groups. I have no pictures of ME in this show, but you can see the Falstaff I had to haul around. And yes, Heroes fans, our Falstaff is the same man who played Maury Parkman.

I learned a lot from watching the professionals in that show, and although I never had the chance to work with that company again, I went on to do The Merchant of Venice at a hole in the wall theatre in the valley, and the following summer played Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream with a different summer Shakespeare group... and then all was lost. I was in love with Shakespeare and his language. As an actor there is so much to work with, from his use of rhythm and rhyme to the emotional clues embedded in the sounds of the words.

I'm no Shakespeare expert. But I'm a Shakespeare lover.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

more of Willy's Pants

"...From ancient grudge break to new nudity, Where civil pants makes civil pants unclean."

Oh, we laughed. I thought that Rosie was going to have a spazattack.

Miss Wilson was yelling, "Girls, girls, stop this silliness. Saying pants all the time is not funny."

It is, though.

- Stop in the Name of Pants, by Louise Rennison
pp. 237-238

When Mad left me a comment with a pants quote from "Much Ado about PANTS," well, I just couldn't pass up the chance to look at an incomplete list of the Bard's Pantsy Titles:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

President Shakespeare?

from Shakespeare's Den. My two kitties... maybe they'll run again in 2016 (you know, when Obama's done with his second term)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Shakespeare's Pants

I'm reading a little book called Stop in the Name of Pants and there's a Romeo and Juliet Pants reference, and so, in honor of everyone's favorite Pants Superstar, Alejna, I give you the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night:

Shakespeare's Pants

What PANTS through yonder window breaks?
-Romeo and Juliet

How low am I, thou painted maypole? speak;
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine PANTS.
-A Midsummer Night's Dream

To PANTS or not to PANTS, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The PANTS and KNICKERS of outrageous fortune,
Or to take LEGS against a sea of troubles,

Out, damned PANTS! out, I say

Once more unto the PANTS, dear friends, once more
-Henry V

All the world is PANTS
-As You Like It

If PANTS be the food of love, WEAR on
-Twelfth Night

If you PANTS us do we not BLUSH?
-Merchant of Venice

Lord, what PANTS these mortals be!
-A Midsummer Night's Dream

Two PANTS both alike in dignity
-Romeo and Juliet

Ay, now am I in PANTS; the more fool I
-As You Like It

-Richard III

Et tu, PANTS?
-Julius Caesar

If we PANTS have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended
-A Midsummer Night's Dream

What are your favorite Shakespearean Pants?

(by the way, in England pants are not the things that cover your legs, but rather, your underwear)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Smoke screen

Well, crap.

I had ordered these fun personalized pencils with different Shakespeare quotes, and I was going to use some of them as my little bloggy birthday gifts, but it turns out that I had to order 80 million of them, which I didn't do, and so they canceled my order without telling me, and now I don't know what to give out as a little surprise. I was going to announce MANY winners, but now that I'm not sure what I'm giving away anymore I will have to not only think of a new prize, but think of a new top secret method of choosing someone to win.

So.... no white smoke from the chimney yet.

The best laid plans, and all that jazz...


(This also ruined a little something I was trying to do for my cast and crew of my latest show, so it's a double crap)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Acting and Nursing: Theatre Thursday

When the May Queen was 6 weeks old I began rehearsals as Agnes in Dancing at Lughnasa. During the day I would learn my lines while nursing The May Queen. We joked that when she began talking it would be with an Irish Brogue. In the evenings I would leave her, mostly with my husband or with adult friends from our church, and the occasional very responsible teenager.

Rehearsals typically lasted 3 hours, and we would take a break about half way through. I knew that our break was later than usual if my milk started to leak. During our break I would hide out in the (thankfully very clean) bathroom and pump. The director, a single woman in her 50s, was fortunately very understanding, and told me to take as long as I needed. She also encouraged me to bring The May Queen to rehearsals on the nights we couldn't find someone to watch her, and so the director would pace back and forth in the rehearsal hall with a baby on her arm while we rehearsed. The other actors took turns when they were off stage. The gal playing Rosie liked to entertain her with the gloves we were knitting (I had to learn how to knit for this show. Gloves, no less. Even though the director gifted me with the needles I used in the show and I thought I might knit something else, I never have). On our break I would sit in the lobby and nurse. During the run of the show I pumped in our dressing room at intermission.

The unmarried man and teenage boy probably learned a little bit more about nursing and pumping than they bargained for during this show. I don't think I realized at the time how lucky I was to have such an understanding and accomodating cast and crew. I've later heard such horror stories about people nursing and pumping at work and in public. For me, their "whatever" attitude made it possible for me to do something I loved.

Getting back on the stage after giving birth was a crucial step for me in regaining my identity apart from The May Queen's Mommy. It also helped me find a home in a new city... I was pregnant when we moved and hadn't done any theatre. Getting back on stage and in with the theatre crowd gave me a chance to round out my exclusive new role as mommy, and also helped me step outside of the rather stressful world of the church my husband worked at there. The role of Agnes, even though it wasn't the part I originally wanted, was a real treat to work on. A friend I met and worked with later told me that although Maggie was the flashy one (the part I wanted, naturally) Agnes had always been her favorite, and that whenever she looked at me she could tell there was so much going on. Which was the fun of Agnes, actually. She certainly wasn't flashy. But oh, the depths. I also had to learn Irish step dancing, which probably helped me get back into my pre-pregnancy pants.

I'm hoping to start a mini-series this summer: Theatre Thursdays. I thought about doing it back when I posted a picture from Angels in America. I enjoy the reminiscing, and ya'll seem to enjoy the stories. I know I have several other theatre folk out there reading- if you'd like to play along sometime, let me know, and I'll link you up.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Hey! It's my blog's second anniversary (birthday? blogiversary? whatever you choose to call it) today! It's a full fledged toddler. The terrible twos are upon us.

Leave me a nice little anniversary (birthday? blogiversary? whatever you choose to call it) message and I will choose someone to receive a small little writerly present (I'm giving away something on my own anniversary (birthday? blogiversary? whatever you choose to call it!) It's madness. I know). I won't reveal what it is, but I promise it's not head lice. Shudder. (If you've read that previous post you'll know I could use some uplifting words right about now.)

The process for choosing who will win is top secret, perhaps more complicated than choosing a name for our cats, but probably not as complicated as choosing a new pope. Regardless, you'll know a winner has been chosen when you see white smoke coming from the chimney...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's just been THAT kind of a day

I spent my morning executing my duties as director of a nearly 200 kid Vacation Bible School. It wasn't nearly as harried as yesterday, and last night I finally got more than 4 hours of sleep (as I did the previous 2 nights, due to VBS prep), so it wasn't relaxing or anything, but it was OK.

I came home and after a quick lunch we captured the cat that had taken up residence in our backyard. This usurper was wrecking havoc on the tenuous peace in my home... as Shakespeare has still not adjusted to the new kitten, Marlowe. Shakespeare felt like he had to protect his backyard from this other cat. Through the window. It resulted in a lot of anguished growling, hissing, and pacing. So after about 10 attempts the May Queen and I finally managed to get the yard cat into the cardboard carrier that Marlowe came home in a mere 10 days ago. We loaded into the car. BEFORE WE EVEN TURNED OFF OUR STREET (so we're talking two blocks) the cat had clawed/chewed her way through the carrier and was roaming the car. Fun.

Then, on the way to the shelter we got a FLAT TIRE. Fortunately a very, very nice man saw me on the side of the road and came off his front porch and completely changed my tire for me, and even put more air in my spare, which was pretty deflated itself.

We surrendered the kitty.

Then the May Queen and I went to have our hair cut.

The lady cutting MQ's hair said to me "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but...."


Fortunately we caught it early, we could only see 2 eggs in her light blond hair, so killing them shouldn't be too hard. Even still...

Off to the store for the special shampoo, etc, and now my evening has been full of laundry, shampooing, fine tooth combing, another shampooing, laundry, spraying of upholstery, more laundry, the bundling up of treasured stuffed animals and putting away for 3 weeks to ensure the lice DIE, sanitizing hair brushes, more laundry...

And the realization that tomorrow at VBS I have to inform the parents of nearly 200 kids that we've had a lice problem.

In addition, it turns out that one of my cats (I'm guessing the new kitten, good thing he's cute) has been running around the house peeing on any plastic bag he could find. Which, it turns out, was quite a lot, seeing as how I've been purchasing tons of VBS supplies, plus using old plastic bags to transport stuff to and fro.

Is it any wonder I'm looking forward to a glass of wine?

(and is it just me or do you find the fine tooth comb USELESS?? the two eggs I could see I pulled out with my fingers after several failed attempts with the comb)