Archive for In the Wings

I Know Things Now

So, I’ve been a little cranky about cancer, lately.
I know that sounds strange, but that’s pretty much the only way I can explain it.

In June, I lost a friend to cancer. Cas was… “The loud, pushy Italian mother” I always wanted. Not saying that my mother isn’t pushy, I’m just saying.
Cas was the type of guy who, had I ever stormed his house, weeping over some crisis… I could just picture him, comforting me while all the time rolling his eyes, going, “Sit down. I’ll make ya something.”

Then, just this past week, another person I knew lost her battle. I only knew her from across the room at our mutually favored haunts. A couple of piano bars downtown we used to frequent. She had a big smile, no hair and she loved singing along at Marie’s Crisis, and The Duplex. I couldn’t mistake her for anyone else. I imagine she’d been fighting cancer since before I knew her.

Cancer is a miserable thing. And, it hit a little too close to home, recently.

I had a mammogram, a sonogram and then came the call.
“You’re going to need to schedule a biopsy.”

It slams you in the gut, when that happens. My husband and I had had a fight the night before.
A petty, petty fight.
The word “biopsy”? pretty much settles all arguments.

Do we have your attention now?

The Peacemaker

 

But, after 2 weeks of agony and 20 minutes of pinching, you know what?
I’ve found that my new favorite word… is “benign.”

It was a gigantic exhale. For about a minute. Then, I found out that one of my aunts has just been diagnosed. Yup. with cancer.

See why I say it sucks?

Thing is, I’m now finding out that people I’ve known for years have gone through their own trials with it. People who have had leukemia, breast cancer, lymphoma, etc. have all faced it one way or another. Through their parents, relatives, close friends, even themselves. It affects everyone.

So, don’ t think you’re immune. Get checked. I put it off, and got the scare of my life.
Before you find yourself on a table, gritting your teeth, wondering if there will be more time for family, more time with your kids, more time to finish what you started, just do it.

Okay, I’m off my soap box now. Time for cat video therapy.

Because kitties make everything better.

Because kitties make everything better.

There’s No Business Like Show Business

So, for a couple of days, I was out of contact with most people.
Heck, I was even out of Facebook range.
I was.. busy.
Like, really busy.

Okay, I’ll tell you! Quit badgering me!
I just shot an episode of a tv series.
Now, for the most part, this would normally not be a big deal because virtually everyone I know has done tv. Everyone except… well, me. Seriously, not even a Law & Order, which is like that college math requirement. Everyone’s done it, and you feel like a FOOL, if you risk graduation because you didn’t get THAT one already!

But, this is a bit of a big deal, because the entire episode was about my character. From beginning to end. So, I discovered what it’s like to be the star of the show.

You know what it’s like?
It’s like being a mom, with seventeen kids wanting your attention for 10 different projects in 12 different directions, all at the same time. And you can’t forget what’s just been thrown at you, because it all gets used in the next few minutes and… it’s for posterity. So, it had better be good. Oh yeah, and and it’s all gotta be done… in 2 days. Not much sleep, I can tell you that.

Am I complaining? Hell, no!
Are you kidding?! Most of this year has been spent looking for work. My acting endeavors this year have been mostly… fruitless. And then, in the midst of a drought in the desert… a miracle occurs.
Basically, it’s a show about survivors of attacks. I don’t know if I can say very much about it. But, I can tell you it was like my own mini horror movie. My character, who is a real woman and basically a badass, gets put through the ringer and lives. I just had to simulate it. It may not be a great performance. It may not even air! But, I did it. And it’s SO going on my resume!

If it ever airs, I WILL be announcing it here. And on my email list. And on the roof of my apartment building, with the assistance of a bullhorn. Believe me, you’ll hear about it.

I have to thank Kevin Kuffa for recommending me, Gulp Pictures for hiring me, and Christian Faber for directing me. The entire cast & crew for guiding the rookie through her first real TV shoot.

It will take a day for my body to recover and a week to come down from the high.

But right now, the only thing I really need to focus on, as always, is the next job.

Back into the salt mines, kids.

Mary Catherine Gallagher is my spirit animal.

Mary Catherine Gallagher is my spirit animal.

UPDATE: Umm… It aired.

Like, almost a month ago. It’s on ID, or you can check it out OnDemand.

(Cut me a break! I haven’t been on here in a while!)

There’s Always a Woman

So, a friend of mine just posted this on her FB page.

The problem with Black “It” Girls

It focuses a bit on Lupita N’Yongo being the girl of the hour, as Oscar Night approaches. I mean, why not? I haven’t even seen “12 Years a Slave” yet, and I STILL know who she is. Why? Because, Sista is FLAWLESS in public!
From her voice to her carriage to her fashion to her skin (LUMINOUS!) She has done NO WRONG in this awards season! And she’s doing it all without the assistance of a net (weave, that is.)

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Seriously. She is just… FIERCE!!

But the main question of the article kind of irked me. The author asked, point blank, does Hollywood only allow one Black actress to shine at a time?
Yes.
Next question?

Look, this ain’t news, but the thing is, when ANY actress is labeled an “It” girl, she’s got an expiration date stamped on her. And if her next 2 movies don’t live up to the hype, the audience will sour on her like bad milk, and she’s gone. And, as in most cases of well, everything, a Black actress’ span of time with the crown lasts, roughly, until the release date of her next project. And if it doesn’t “wow” the audience or the critics, it’s back to the salt mines of featured day players, with some infomercials on the side, for a lot of them.

Is Hollywood fickle? Duh!
But we can’t discount the general public’s hand in this, either. Because, what we love to do, as a celebrity gossip-hungry society is build up and then tear down. Like toddlers with wooden blocks, who patiently wait for someone to build a tower of popularity and good press, just so they can kick the foundation and gleefully watch the devastation afterwards.
We build up a particular person in the public eye until they are THE BIGGEST STAR IN THE WORLD. And that’s when we start looking for ways (rumors, relationships, drugs, conjecture) to bring the whole thing crashing down on our little social guinea pig. And there is ALWAYS some hungry little starlet, just waiting to take her place.

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Or push her down the metaphorical elevator shaft.

White or Black, an actress in this enviable, and yet treacherous position will start to feel the heat in no time at all. Remember Megan Fox? Can anyone name a movie she did after the Transformers gigs, where she was a standout? Anyone?

Anyone?

And as much as Anne Hathaway was lauded for her performance in “Les Mis,” she was simultaneously ripped apart online and in the papers, by random people who found her annoying and insincere. Her greatest triumph, completely undermined by public opinion that she’s “too polished”. They hate her, they’re just not sure why.

And hell, if there IS a Black “It” girl out there everyone’s talking about, it’s a step up. But sadly, the article makes the point that no matter how much chatter goes on about these women (a lot of whom are, in fact, phenomenal actors), it NEVER translates into more doors opening for Black actors in general. Why?

Honey, please don’t ask me. I’m still stalking Actors Access, looking for some featured day work.

Another Op’ning…

Four of the most glorious word in the English language: First day of rehearsal!
Well, they’re glorious to me.
I’ve spent the past three days working on a new show I’m in.
Well, this production is new. The show itself is OLD.

In three weeks’ time, I’ll be featured in a Shakespeare on the Sound production of:

As You Like It!

It’s my first show with this company and I can’t tell you how excited I am!
I’m playing Audrey, the dim but sweet goat shepherdess.
It’s my first try at being a Shakespeare clown and we’ve spent days, analyzing the script, questioning the motives of the characters, debating whether or not we really NEED goats (FYI: we do).

The rehearsals have been long. All day long.
I come home most times, exhausted and happy. And I couldn’t do it without my family. They are the greatest support system ever. Thanks to them, mommy can chase The Dream.

Keep watching here for updates!

Quick Update

So, tonight I went with a friend of mine to go see “Cock,” the off-Broadway play by Mike Bartlett.

Yes, “Cock.” Stop giggling.

90 minutes, 4 actors, no set, no fancy lighting, just theater in the round and riveting dialogue.
It’s comedic, dramatic and all around tense.
I love watching good actors in a stripped-down production. Nothing to hide behind. Just the script and the performances.
Excellent show.

Oh, and reason #6,409 why I love this city?

On my way to pre-show dinner with my friend, I saw Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson buying a MetroCard and walked past Chazz Palminteri on the way to Ollie’s for some spicy orange beef.

Topped off with a gorgeous moon, it was a fantastic New York night.

 

Excited AND Scared… And Bummed.

So, I’ve been off the radar for some time.

Not because the rampant stupid of people hasn’t fazed me. It has and it hasn’t.

Heck, there was a month there, where the stupid came too fast and furious to comment on it. Just when I thought it couldn’t get more ridiculous…

Regardless, that’s not what this post is about.

I’ve been pretty excited about my new show coming up. Smokey Joe’s Cafe is kind of a big deal for me. We start rehearsals soon and I’m trying to prepare before we start. Reading up about Lieber & Stoller, going over my score, note by note, listening to the cast album over and over and over (BJ Crosby, I am terrified of you now). And in between all this, I’m still rehearsing with the guys for more gigs around the city. We’re doing Kenny’s in a few weeks.

But that’s not what this post is about, either.

I just realized that my rehearsal schedule will conflict with quite a few things. Now, any actress will tell you that’s typical. Comes with the territory, of course.

My Little Man is having his first public performance on a day where I’ll be rehearsing ALL. DAY. I will miss it. There’s no getting around it. His very first show and I won’t be there.

Hence, the Bummed.

I got to watch the dress rehearsal today with the other parents and I tried to drink it all in. I was more nervous more than he, I’m quite sure. I fussed about his costume, his steps, his lunch. He just went through his routine with not even the slightest sign of anxiety. I was very proud. And then, there was a cloud hanging over it, knowing I wouldn’t be there for the actual big night.

Now, I’ve missed things before.

I can’t think of how many times I have had to cancel on people, using the words, “I can’t. I have rehearsal.” I’ve missed family functions, hanging out with friends, special nights, etc. It’s old hat by now.

But this time, it hurts more.

I have to tell my son that I can’t be there, because of my own pursuits.

It sounds so selfish.

And I have to get over it.

So, how do I do that?

Seriously, how?

Merry New Year!!

Well, I just enjoyed a champagne-soaked weekend.

It’s not as glamorous as it sounds.

Fun? yes. Glamorous? Not so much.

‘Cause you see, the whole holiday season was overrun with my show. The Gayest  Christmas Pageant Ever has pretty much been my life for the past three months. Appointments, holiday shopping, plans, friends, everything have taken a back seat to our run. Oh so many apologies to so many people. I’m not used to such a long run, taking me out of commission.

At any rate, I managed to get back in touch with my friends this weekend and finish my show. Friday, I dropped off Little Man at my mother’s to make sure my husband and I could make our shows. With an unscheduled stop at the on-ramp to the Lincoln Tunnel, thanks to some cranky woman who had to try to outrun the bus (brilliant tactical maneuver, by the way), I had time for an early dinner and my show.

We had an awesome crowd and our timing was fierce. A couple of friends saw the show and took me out for a nosh afterwards. Then, we raced uptown to a karaoke birthday party for one of my bandmates. I’m in the room 6 seconds, they shove a mic in my hand, next thing I know, I’m singing “Firework.” Ah, well. It was for a friend. Then cake and champagne were respectively eaten and spilled till one in the morning.  Go home, go sleep.

Next day. New Years’ Eve and closing night of the show. Sigh. Lots of props. Lots of drama. Lots of goodbyes. I’ll reflect on all of that another time.

A sensible woman would have gone home to rest. But I’m an actress. All pretense of sensibility went out the window the day I started chasing footlights.

So, I head waaaaay uptown to a friend’s house, where a quiet, intimate group, my husband and a margarita awaited me. Yeah, I made the right choice. We talked, laughed, shared homemade goodies in the comfort of an abode far from midtown’s madness (I may not be sensible, but I’m no knucklehead). We toasted the new year with champagne, kissed and cuddled till two in the morning. Go home, go sleep.

Next day, brunch with recently married friends. My first real attempt to get back in touch with my friends in what felt like ages. My husband and I traveled to Brooklyn to hang out for a grown-up brunch, with wedding talk and mimosas.

Oy.

Knucklehead? Maybe not. But I sure am a glutton for punishment.

It was like I tried a holiday season’s worth of socializing in two and a half days. Won’t be trying that again for a while.

So now, life returns to semi-normal.  Completely normal is overrated.

New Year, New Chances. Back to school things, family things, auditions, and the pursuit of happiness.

Dance Ten, Looks Three

I am shaking my head right now.

First, Heavy D, now this.
I was in the middle of catching up on my Facebook, like you do, when I noticed a friend posted this link.
Sad, but true.

I mean, the trend is not something shocking. Come on, people. All those reality shows that are so far removed from actual reality. People who are famous for no other reason than the way they look in designer clothes. And they get paid a ridiculous amount of money to be walking commercials for clothes, shoes, perfume, whatever. But the saddest part, at least for crazy acting chicks like me, is that it almost completely dependent on whether or not they’re “hot.” Sorry, but it’s really annoying.

It’s as if all of my reservations about doing film are confirmed in this article. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not giving up what I love and surrendering good roles to the Kardashians of the world. But it’s good to know someone said what most of us actors have suspected all along.

What becomes of the movies that could have been made great, thanks to a stellar performance by a new actor who doesn’t look “perfect”? Turning down a talented actor, so they can be replaced by a lingerie model? Freaking really?!
I get it. The old adage, “Sex sells” is paramount at this point. It seems to be the only guiding star. Well, let me fill you in on something, industry.

I saw RACE last year, and James Spader, in his 50’s, with no discernible body sculpting, was the sexiest thing on that stage.
I’ve attended plays with men who don’t have chiseled bodies, 3% body fat, or what have you. What they have is skill.
For me, personally, there is NOTHING sexier to me than a talented man. And I’m sure there are plenty of women out there who agree with me. You have been taught, you’ve learned, you’ve experienced. The confidence that comes from being absolutely sure, in your heart, in your brain, in your soul that you know what you are doing. I’m sorry, that can’t be substituted with delts.
It is quite ironic that someone who doesn’t want to be judged by their looks is involved in a business where 80% of it depends on how you look. If you look right for the part, if you fit into the costume, if your height complements your co-star. It’s maddening and it’s part of the whole gig. Adjust or quit. Those are your options.

Ah, The Glamorous Life.

A script and a gun

Today, we took on one of the most daunting scenes in the show. It doesn’t seem like much at first, til you realize it’s farce and must be done at breakneck speed. The timing must be impeccable, the cues must be right on top of each other and the delivery must be funny.

So, we had to do the scene over. and over. and over. God bless one of our leading ladies for bringing in “sustenance,” in the form of cookies and crackers. Hey, don’t knock it. It worked.

When the smoke cleared, the blocking was cleaned, the cues were sharpened and we had laughed all the way through it. You can’t ask for more from a rehearsal.

The scene involves several actors auditioning badly, Jesus, a puppet and a gun.

Intrigued, yet?

You will be.

Life upon the wicked stage.

So, I am at the three week checkpoint for rehearsals.
With a fantastic support system, my family is managing to handle two performers working at the same time. oy.
A lot of it involves offering favors and “tagging out.” My husband and I arrange for a time, I bring the child, an exchange is made. A lot of running back and forth before rehearsal even gets started.
But, rehearsals are going great. My cast is beleaguered, but fantastic. By week’s end, we’re exhausted but ready for the next level. It’s going to be big.
Not to mention there’s still a band to worry about. We’ve got a show coming up and we need to get people there. Next week at the Village Lantern. Check the Icky House Club facebook for details. Songs will be sung, costumes will be worn and mayhem will reign. And then, I’ll learn my lines, I swear. : )