Friday, October 31, 2008

Oh, and because today was Halloween and all...

    I thought I would mention that while I was standing on the line during the show tonight, I looked out at the audience and I couldn't help but notice this: a man, sitting in the third row, looking like a respectable theater goer in (almost) every sense of the word, with his glasses and his nicely pressed button down shirt and um, a pair of long, pointy elf ears framing his face.  

   Yes, elf ears.

     But, he was just as serious as can be, watching us dance and sing for our lives, wondering who would get the job in the end, all while sporting some elf ears that were about as big as his head.  

    It was all I could do not to crack up laughing.

    I loved it.  

TGIF doesn't really exist for people in theater...

    Okay, this is something my friend PJ brought to my attention and I just had to share it, because I find it so funny...

    Does anybody else really think that I "blasted" Cleveland?!?!  The truth is that I don't want to blast anything, necessarily; I just want to write.  About life, and namely how it pertains to me.

   I suppose it really is true that the pen is mightier than the sword--case in point being the strong emotions that my statements describing my experience in Cleveland evoked...And the fact that my "honorable mention" award at a Halloween party is considered newsworthy is both flattering and um, kind of funny to me, as well.  But I will agree with them when they say that Toronto is treating me well.  It is. I actually really love it here; it's like New York City and London each gave the best of themselves and landed here.  

   And it's another melting pot; just step onto the subway and you will hear English, sure, but with a nice counterpoint of other accents and languages layering it.  And speaking of stepping onto the subway, you can do so without too much attention to where you are stepping because this city--yes, even the subway--is clean!  

   Nope, I don't mind staying here for five weeks, not one bit.  

  Now, onto some more news.  Clyde Alves, who wonderfully portrays Mike in ACL, is a singer/song-writer like myself and he has put together a gig for us here in Toronto.  It's another benefit for Equity Fights Aids, which I am really excited about, and is slated as An Intimate Night with a Few of the cast of A Chorus Line (or something like that).

   I saw the poster design today, which we will be distributing throughout the city, and it looks fierce (to borrow a word that we have been overusing in the cast lately).  

  It is officially slated for Monday, November 24th, and I will notify you of the place and time as soon as I know it.  I am psyched about this, though, and if you happen to read this and live in Toronto or nearby, then come! It's for a great cause and you get to listen to some music, too, so really it's a win-win situation.

  Clyde will be playing with a band, we will be collaborating some, and I will be doing some solo stuff, just me and the piano...The only sad thing for me is that my friends and family are so far away that they won't be able to come see me play.  At least at my last gig in L.A., my brother Jase could come and support and share a last name with me and everything... 

  And now you might be saying to yourselves, But Jessica, how are you doing? Or maybe you aren't, but either way, I am going to let you know.

  I am tired. This week has been nonstop for us because we are doing double duty while rehearsing with the replacements during the day as well as performing our regular eight show week. 

  It's emotionally overwhelming to think about how this is the last weekend I have with this exact group of very special people forever.  The brevity of the situation makes me feel like I need to make every moment count, every word weighted and well-chosen, and once again I feel overwhelmed.  Because sometimes moments just tick by and all you have done is eaten a sandwich or applied some lipstick or done one more kick in a kick line and that has to be okay too.   Sometimes you have to realize that it isn't just these last few days that count; they are poignant, sure, because it our nature as humans to count the days left to us, the few more moments that we have, and see before all else the deadline looming larger than life that is irrevocably set before us, even as we still hold desperately to the sands of time and try to stay the clock; but really, it is the sum of all the days spent together that matter, really matter. They are the building blocks, the steady bricks of make-up-less travel days, of sweating together, of water parks and shabbats and conversations about God and how He might be, that have laid this foundation of friendship.  And nobody and nothing can take that away--not even Sunday and the immovable power it holds as we perform our last show together.  

  But still, this whole leaving thing sucks.  

   I don't cry too much for sentimental reasons, but the other night I got teary-eyed during What I Did for Love, just thinking about that stupid and huge good-bye we have to say.  

  But it really is going to be okay.   

  Oh, and also my feet hurt.  Right before our 8 o'clock show tonight I asked Emily, Is it a bad sign if my feet are aching in my socks?  I mean, that probably doesn't bode well for me for the next two hours of my life. I said this right before I put on my heels.  And I was right. Kristine was a little shifty in her weight tonight; you would have been too if your feet felt like mine did. Just be grateful they don't, I guess.

  Okay, that about sums up what I wanted to say tonight.  Except, as promised, I needed to let you know if I wore that fleece I won as a prize last night.  Well, no, I didn't.  This is because it is actually a fleece vest and it is big as a house. But now I guess if I ever double in size and go hiking in Colorado I have just the thing to wear.  I mean, you do need to be prepared for every scenario, right?!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

batman and robin...girl

         Batman and Robin. Uh, Robin-Girl, that is...
               Right, so the casts of A Chorus Line (obviously...), Dirty Dancing, We Will Rock You, the Sound of Music, and Jersey Boys converged for a rocking costume party on Halloween Eve.  

               And so Jay and I had the bright idea to go as Batman and Robin (girl).  And here's the exciting/funny part:

                 I won honorable mention in the category of Sexiest Female!!!

                 Funny stuff, right?  And as my prize, I received a lovely light blue fleece sweatshirt that I might just flaunt at our final dress rehearsal with the replacements tomorrow.  We'll see. I'll be sure to keep you updated because I am just positive that all day tomorrow at your respective places of work or school you will just be beside yourself with curiosity as to whether or not I am indeed wearing that fleece...So don't worry, I'll tell you...

                 At one point during the party, I went to the bathroom (don't worry, the story does get a little better.  Actually, it would probably make it better if I told you that I first went into the men's bathroom...which, uh, I did, and promptly walked right back out).  A woman dressed as Lucy from I Love Lucy walked in to powder her nose and we exchanged compliments on each other's costumes.  She asked me what show I was in, and after telling her ACL, she said, Why, you're Kristine (it turns out she saw our matinee yesterday)!

               Giving myself a once-over in my Robin-Girl get up, complete with an eye mask, I told her how surprised I was that she recognized me.  Oh, why it's your hair!

               Fair enough.  I guess having really short dark hair is distinctive (if you're a girl, that is; if you're a boy, then that is about parr for the course).

             Anyway, it was fun but I am really tired and my feet hurt so much because I had the bright idea of wearing stiletto heeled boots after I wore my heels in the show and after I had a five hour rehearsal this afternoon...

            But now I have a nice fleece to show for it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just so we're clear (so says the twit...)

    Hi. Welcome to my writing space.  Maybe I should make this clear: this is my blog.  A dear friend of mine, Anthony, usually says one word when asked, say, what kind of sandwich he is eating: mine. Or you might say, What kind of jacket is that? And he is quick to say, mine. We get a good laugh at this, since he is joking, but the truth is that sometimes you do have to be clear about ownership, certain about boundaries.  

   So right, this blog is mine; a place where I air my thoughts, tell my stories, and relate life as I see it.  I am not a politician trying to smooth talk her way to the polls; I will not be asking for your vote now or anytime soon.  Nor am I a scientist. Most of the time I have not researched much of anything very extensively; I have not taken a census nor have I averaged out anything to find the mean.  I do hypothesize, sure, but I do not usually present my hypothesis as a conclusive fact. Or at least I try not to. 

   I simply relate my experiences, the way I see them.  

    Which is what happened in Cleveland. My experience was a tough one and I am sorry if that offends you.  My friends' lives were threatened.  I felt unsafe. I saw drug deals out in the open. We had to be shepherded by an armed security guard from the theater to our respective hotels at night. 

    This is not to say that someone else might go to Cleveland and not have a wonderful time--I have heard the Rock N Roll hall of Fame is awesome, the Art Museum one of the best.  

    But my time in Cleveland was rough and I hope that the city gets safer and fills its abandoned buildings with good things.  

   With that said, I will say that rude anonymous commentors do not hold much weight with me.  I liken them to a terrorist sniper who simply shoots from the shadows but does not have the courage to reveal themselves or let their words be given the strength of their name.  

    Sure, I find them interesting. But I also find them cowardly.  

   Right, so now that we're clear...Thanks so much for stopping by and I really mean that.  I love the fact that you find what I write about my life to be interesting at all; it means a lot to me.  But please realize that I will be frank in describing my life the way that I see it.  Because, remember?

   This is my blog.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

a blended family

          Tonight while I was walking home from the subway, it started to snow.  As in winter time, as in winter wonderland, as in the earth starts over with a nice clean white slate.  Or something like that.  

          I was walking home with two South Texans who do not appreciate snow or frigid temperatures to say the least, but not me; I was loving it.  

           Canada is cold, but I really enjoy it.  It means I get to bundle up in my new coat Drew got me for Christmas last year; that I get to wear this really cute white knit headband with a big rosette on the side; that I layer everything, of all different colors; that I can wear my thickest, tallest socks underneath my 80's boots, or cowboy boots, or knee-high get the point; I like boots.

            I met the replacements today.  That's right, we have the remainder of this week--just 7 more shows--with our dear, original cast--and then the new class steps in.  When they were introducing themselves to us, it kind of felt like we were becoming a blended family.  Like our step brothers and sisters were just there, moving in, whether we wanted them to or not.  

           Don't get me wrong, they seem so nice, and the best part is that they are so excited to be here--their energy alone will be like a shot in the arm for our show, I am sure.  But still. I have to say good-bye to some really dear friends on Sunday and I hate to say good-bye and have never been what one would call a huge fan of change, either, now that I think about it.  

         The nice thing about this business is that the theater community is very small; you always end up seeing people again.  At least, I keep telling myself this.

           Another reminder of the inevitable: I walk into the theater today for orientation, and I see that I am assigned to share a dressing room with my dear friend, Emily, which is awesome--it being her last week, and all--but that's not it.  Since the cast replacements step in after just the first week of Toronto, and we are here for five, the assignment says:

                             Dressing Room #2: Jessica Latshaw/Emily Fletcher/Shannon Lewis

            So again, it made it all real.  Emily is leaving, and I will be sharing a dressing room with someone who is very cool, I am sure, but not the person that I have become friends with in the space of a very special six month period.  

          It'll be okay, it's just sad.

          My phone is now a very expensive paper weight that I carry around with me. Sometimes it tells me the time, but since it is roaming most of the time on some foreign Rogers Network, I mostly keep it turned off.  I had grown so used to getting my email on my phone, sending and receiving texts, and of course, ah, calling people.  

         Oh well, this is probably good for me.  It's kind of like camping, right?

       This is a really busy week for me.  We previewed tonight, have two shows tomorrow, rehearse with the replacements on thursday afternoon then have a show (followed by a Halloween party with the casts of Dirty Dancing and Jersey Boys), have a dress rehearsal with the replacements on Friday then a show, two shows on Saturday, one matinee on Sunday...And then we say good-bye to those leaving...

       And on Tuesday, the blended family is complete.  The replacements open with us and the show goes on...And I make new friends. 


       But thankfully, there are some very special people staying on with the show...

Monday, October 27, 2008


   I am exhausted.  And I now have funny money that is colorful and single coins that equal 2 whole dollars.  Oh, I also cannot text or talk on the phone so much...For five. whole. weeks. Yikes. 

   But despite all that, I just wanted to say that Toronto is really cool.  European in feel, actually--with lots of people sporting skinny jeans and the guys wearing their hair longer and shaggier and the ladies wearing their hair however the heck they want.

     I have a feeling I am going to like this town.  Especially when I get some more sleep under my belt...

     Just a quick note about yesterday's show.  Well, I was a little bored and wanting to try something new, so I decided to give Kristine an up do.  Sort of.  At least, as up as someone whose hair is a couple inches long can be.  So, I took the sides and clipped them back.  That's all I did, promise.

    The girls were really supportive of it, thought it looked cute and funny and to be honest, I really wasn't being so serious about it.  Like, I wouldn't have worn it that way out. I just thought it'd be fun to do something different for a change.  Something slightly different, mind you.

    But, when I walked downstairs and saw some of the boys in the cast, you would have thought that I had shaved my head bald by their reactions.

       You look hideous! was maybe one of my favorites.

        Or how about, You're joking...right?!

        Actually, I especially enjoyed it when they told me that it looked like I had grown a mullet, that I had shaved the sides of my head, that I had walked right out of the 80's, etc... 

          Needless to say, I lost my fleeting-at-best confidence in the new do and simply had to take the tiny clips out.  Once I did, those guys breathed a collective sigh of relief because Kristine's hair was down once again. As it should be, apparently.

          It honestly did not hurt my feelings; maybe my *OSA meetings have really been helping, after all.  I guess it's good to know that I have friends who will tell me the truth--or at least, the truth as they see it--without fail.  

*overly sensitive anonymous

          Okay, feeling a desperate pull towards sleep now. Especially since I will be attending Baayork Lee's famous warm-up class tomorrow morning. That's right, I said morning in a reference to me actually being somewhere other than my bed.  And yes, I will take a gold star...

           One more quick thing: I went and saw High School Musical 3 tonight and truly had a good laugh. Not necessarily because it was funny, per se, but because the writing was so bad at points, the segue's into musical numbers almost nonexistent, and the cheesy factor was astronomical.  But with that said, I truly enjoyed myself...And Martha Cox was definitely not legal...;-) 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

leaving cleveland and I won't look back

                 We are leaving Cleveland. Finally.  I don't mean to offend any of you who might read this blog and be from Cleveland, but honestly, it has been the most difficult stop so far.  

                 And after three cast members being held at gun point by a thug on the street, we are all a little stressed and relieved to not be walking these streets after tonight.  

                 This is the only city where our company has had to hire armed security guards to walk us home. The other night we had a sassy lady security guard, who, before leaving the safety of the theater and braving the streets, said, "If anything goes down, you guys drop.  I am much better with a clear shot."

                 And she was not kidding.  

                Just last night my friend Ian was walking home from dinner with his fiance and they happened to pass a man, standing alone on the sidewalk.  Just as they got close he started rummaging in his pockets and drew something out really quick...Ian jumped and screamed just a little...The man proceeded to bring his just-found tissue up to his nose and blow.

              So yeah, like I said, we're all a little tightly wound.  

               There are just so many abandoned buildings and so few people downtown that you really have to watch your back.  It's a sad town and I hope it gets better soon.

             But tomorrow we're heading north, up to Canada!  Toronto is going to be sweet and fun even though we will not be celebrating Thanksgiving at all because that is a very American holiday and we will be very much in Canada. And very much working.  

            Actually, knowing our cast, we will find a way to celebrate Thanksgiving; we find a way to celebrate almost anything.  

Saturday, October 25, 2008


    A recent conversation between me and Drew (via phone, of course...):

                        Me: So, how was Jenna's birthday lunch?

                       Drew: Really fun. Afterwards, we went to Alliance for Jenna to get her nose pierced.  She wasn't able to, though, for some reason, so I got my other ear pierced instead (one of his ears already having been pierced).

                        Me: So, you got your ear pierced on Jenna's birthday? And where was Jenna at that point?

                        Drew: Waiting in the parking lot, with mom.

                        Me: On her birthday. 
                        Drew: Yep. 
                        Me: Well, can I see a picture?
                        Drew: Of what?

                        Me: Of your ear, silly!

                        Drew: Sure, just a sec.

                  I wait a moment and receive this on my computer: 

         Me: Uh, babe? Nice pic of you and Tally's...ears...but I was hoping for a shot that included both your ears, you know, for the full effect.

         Drew: Hold on...

        And then I get this:

   Me: Huh. Interesting psychopath impersonation there, but I still cannot see both piercings!
   Drew: (getting just a tad bit exasperated at this point) Alright, lemme try again...

   And then I receive this:
          And I proceed to laugh for a good 30 seconds.  

          Me: Baby, that picture is so crazy!  You look like some kind of...monkey-man or something...!

         Drew: Jess, it's the only way I could get one picture of both my piercings, which is what you wanted.  My face is too big or my ears are not the right angle or something, but this is the only way to show you my new peircing with the old piercing so that you do indeed get the full effect...

         Me: (still giggling) Well, it's perfect. Don't change a thing!

         If I need to laugh I just look at that picture. Aside from the obvious, make sure you look at his hands, too. They almost look like alien hands--or at least hands that are from someone else--and then the picture takes a creepy turn for the worse because why would two other people be pulling at Drew's ears?  Oh and one more thing: his left wrist looks especially skinny, which makes it even funnier for some reason.  Or maybe it's just me.

         Anyway, just wanted to share this.

Friday, October 24, 2008

the day I met Josh from the West Wing

           There he is, folks.  Bradley Whitford, aka Josh from the West Wing.  And let me just admit this now, I have a bit of a crush on him. Sigh.  And I met him!!!

           Okay, so this didn't exactly happen yesterday, per se, but the point is it happened. 

            To me.

           About six months ago, in New York City, that land of opportunity and sweet, sweet happenstance.  

           But first, let me give you a little history.  While doing the national tour of the Will Rogers Follies, a small group of us became hooked on just a little show that changes lives called The West Wing. At some point during the day or even during a show one of us would give each other the sign--a W made with our fingers and flashed twice, nice and quick--and it would be on.  

           Me, Zaller, and Betsy would watch The West Wing after the show.  

           And my crush on Josh would grow.  Sigh again.

            Fast forward to me rehearsing ACL at the New 42nd Street studios on well, 42nd street.  We are on our lunch break and I run down to Pax, the restaurant that is right next door and conveniently offers us a discount.  I stroll in just like any other day, prepared to order my usual salad and I stop dead in my tracks with that salad completely forgotten.

            Because Josh from The West Wing is standing in line, about to buy his food.  Like he's a normal person, like he's not the most amazing advisor that has ever worked in the White House.  

          I just stand there and stare at him for a while, making sure that it is indeed him.  But there it is, the facts of his close proximity right in front of me--same height, same build, same receding hairline yet wonderfully fluffy hair and intelligent face...Wow, it's really really him!

          Now he's walking towards the door and he's about to walk out of my life--probably forever--unless I do something.  So I stop him as he gets to the door with a question,

           Excuse me, but you're Josh from the West Wing (in case he didn't know...), and well, I just love you...(okay, so maybe that wasn't a question, exactly...)...

          Josh simply says, Yes, I am.  Hi, my name is Brad.  And then proceeds to shake my hand(!).

          I am mentally kicking myself while calmly shaking his hand because of course I know his name is Brad!!! Unfortunately any ideas I have for our conversation trailed off after my admittance of love for him, because see, I really hadn't planned anything else to say. At all.  But I wasn't going anywhere...  

         Noticing this, he kindly takes the reigns of conversation from my star-struck hands and, probably noticing my jazz pants and sweatshirt, asks, So, are you a dancer? 

       Grabbing onto that thread that will perpetuate our verbal back-and-forth like a lifeline for a drowning man, I excitedly say, Yes! Yes, I am a dancer! I am rehearsing for the 1st national tour of A Chorus Line at New 42nd Street!

        I am rehearsing there too, for a new play, he tells me. Like it's totally normal that we are rehearsing at the same place!!! 

         That's so cool, I say, Well, I just wanted you to know that I love your work, and well, I love you...

         Thank you so much, He kindly responds, I appreciate that. 

          We smile and he walks out the door, lunch in hand.  So yes, I did meet Bradley Whitford (but well, I just call him Brad cause you know, we're like that now) and I did tell him that I love him. Twice.  

          After he walks out the door I refrain from pinching myself to make sure that the exchange did in fact occur while the lady sitting at a nearby table turns to me in a conspiratorial manner and says, I absolutely LOVE him too; I just didn't have the balls to go up and talk to him like you did!
           We share a look and both bask in the glow of being in the same room with Josh from The West Wing.  But my glow is a little brighter, see, because I actually got to talk to him.

           And that is the account of the day I met Josh from The West Wing. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

for jenna, with love

   Today is a very special day. What, you didn't realize?  Well, duh, it's my sister, Jenna's, BIRTHDAY!!!!!! (what kind of calendar do you guys have, anyway?)

   Isn't she so pretty?
   And she used to look like this...
   Back when my mom bathed her in sinks, that is.  My mom doesn't do that anymore though...Too bad.  

   Anyway, I sent her this picture, since I couldn't take part in the family lunch this afternoon or the ladies' dinner out tonight--all in honor of her birthday, of course...
            See, Jenna is a very special gift for my family.  In fact, she is to date the most amazing party favor anybody has ever received in the history of party favors.  

            And no, I am not really kidding.

             Twenty years ago (sounds like I am starting a speech, but I can assure you I am not) my brother got invited to a birthday party for a kid from church.  Jason did not necessarily want to go to this party, but well, being a pastor's kid, you don't always have a choice.

             So, my mom dropped him off at the party.  This party-kid's family just happened to have recently taken in a 17 year old pregnant girl who was also an illegal alien from El Salvador.  They took her in because she had already had a little girl 2 years before and her father had threatened to throw her out on the street if she got herself pregnant again.  This pregnant girl's name was Maria; she was beautiful.  And she was scared.

            As Someone who knows what He's doing would have it, Maria went into labor and gave birth to a little girl during this birthday party.  Maria had bound her belly during most of her pregnancy, successfully hiding it from her father, and also successfully causing this brand new baby to be pretty small.  But her hair! Wow, she had a ton of black hair; her bangs went all the way down to her eyes, making it look like she was born with a little skull cap on.  

          So right, when my mom went to pick Jason up from this birthday party, the birthday kid's mom asked all the people there,  Will anybody take this baby home? 

           And what'd my mom say? I will.

           Just like that. No phone call to her husband, no checking in with her 4 kids, just a quick assent to a monumental shift in our family.  

           So Jason and mom drove home with a tiny brown baby.  And well, we were surprised, to say the least.  I mean, she was adorable, so she had that going for her...

         But anyway, it didn't take long for us to fall completely head over heels in love with her.  My parents got the adoption process started almost immediately, and a year later, it was official: she was (and is) Jenna Veronica Latshaw, a wholly intrinsic part of our family and valued beyond all words.    

         She is my sister, in every sense of the word.

        It's funny, I forget that technically, she is adopted.  So when I introduce her to people, I am always surprised to see a look of confusion on their faces as they are mentally trying to work out how it happened that we are sisters (was it the milkman?  a surprisingly diverse gene that finally showed up?)

         When I went for my first fitting for ACL in NYC (enough acronyms for you?) Jenna accompanied me.  And when I met our head of wardrobe, Rory, I simply said, This is my sister, Jenna.

        Rory stood there for a second, looking back and forth between the two of us, before I finally said, I know, we don't look that much alike...

        He jumped in, No, I can see the resemblance in the nose!

         Jenna and I burst out laughing and I finally explained to him that Jenna is adopted. Though I will always appreciate what he said about our noses; I have long been a fan of Jenna's nose.  

       So, that is the story of how we got Jenna.  And if you've ever had a party favor half as good as her, well I won't believe it, I'll think you're lying.  

       Happy birthday, Jenna!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

three cheers for paying it forward!

     Sometimes you meet a person who helps restore your hope for humanity. 

     Like Laureen, for instance.

     But let me back up a bit.  After the show tonight there was a swanky party in the President's Club (though I saw no presidents there. And I looked, too) at the theater.  The highest theater donors were invited--as well as the cast.  It was nice. Drinks, desserts, people.  Actually, I was at the bar with my friend, Jay, and overheard somebody say, "Wow. They look much better on stage..."

    Well, I turned around and politely said, Excuse me? And the lady repeated herself, making me realize that I had misheard her the first time, saying, I only commented on the fact that you guys look better off stage.  

   Huh.  Either way, not the best compliment in the world.  Either we look not great on stage or not great in person...But that wasn't the part that redeemed humanity for me (no, duh).

    I got to talking to a certain lady, Laureen. Very sweet, very interested in theater, loved the show, has a granddaughter who dances and all that.  She asked me what the buzz was on Broadway...I told her people are anticipating Shrek the Musical, that there is also a revival of Guys and Dolls in the works, but that some shows are getting pulled before they could even start--like the revival of Fosse's Dancing--because of this economy.  

   Things are probably going to get worse before they get better, unfortunately, she said.  I know, since I am in the mortgage business.   

   This sparked even more questions on my end; we talked about the bailout, the faulty loans that banks gave out, the fear that they are now in because of those.  She mentioned that there is just nobody smart enough in congress to really solve this problem, the bailout was the best they could come up with and it really wasn't good enough. 

   Well, shoot.  We need a change folks, but that is another post.

   So anyway, long story short, I mentioned how Drew and I currently have a mortgage and are looking to refinance and blah blah blah.  She told me that she not only is a mortgage broker, but also hold a masters in financial planning (this is when I almost started to worship her. almost.  I didn't, though, because that would be way wrong).  I explained that Drew and I are two artists and don't always know exactly what to do with our money; she told me that she knows exactly what I mean and would love to help us (then I started falling a little in love). But our house is in DE and you are in Cleveland...I said.  Doesn't matter, she assured me, I work nationally. She asked me how high our interest rate is and upon finding out, told me that she is pretty sure she can get me a lower one.  We exchanged information. We hugged.  We will be in touch, she said.  

   What a kind, helpful, smart woman.   Before I left I told her, Betcha didn't know you were going to help Kristine Urich with her mortgage when you were watching her on stage tonight!

   Anyway, I am a big fan of Laureen.  Not sure what will come of it, exactly, but just the fact that she is so willing to help and to share her expertise shows what a generous spirit she has. 

   Way to pay it forward, Laureen!

   You know who didn't pay it forward, not one bit, not at all?  

   The guy who held up three of my friends in the cast at gun point tonight while they walked home from the theater.  He stole one of their phones, too.  How terrible...

    Cleveland is dangerous.  I saw a drug deal the other day. Crazy.  We make sure to walk in groups--and try, when we can, to have a man in the group...   

   But back to the positive, right?  I, along with Ian and Colin who are also in the cast, taught a master class at the Imagine Center in conjunction with Broadway Across America.  There were probably about 40 high school and college students, and it was a pleasure to work with them.

   What wasn't such a pleasure, however, was the amount of times I had to demonstrate that opening jazz combination from the show.  

   IT. IS. HARD.

   It really is.  I was glad to get to the theater tonight and realize that I only had to do it twice more once the show actually started.  I actually took comfort in that. All those lunges and jumps and squats are no joke--not to mention when they are at warp speed and you are wearing heels. 

    But it was fun to share such a historic, iconic piece of choreography with dance hopefuls.  

    So in a way, both me and Laureen paid it forward today.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

good news, a thank you, and a disclaimer--in that order

            Okay, it's official, I have another gig.

             That's right, I have another gig!!!

             And for many of you who read this blog, it will be just a drive away, right in the city of brotherly love.  I booked a gig at the Tritone Bar which is slated as a Cool bar. Great food. The most diverse music venue in Philly.

              And that's not all, my esteemed and accomplished older brother, Josh, of boysetsfire fame, is going to be lending me some of his rocking skills as a guitarist.  His job is to dirty up my songs with the guitar, as he puts it.  And Drew (you may recognize him from The Look Machine, which has sadly been on hiatus for a while now), my husband, and a fantastic musician in his own right, will be lending his sound to my set as well.  

            The date is 12/28, starting around 9:30 and I'd love it if you guys were there.  It is a bar, so if you are under 21 you have to be accompanied by a parent or someone who will at least claim you as their child for the night. 

           Kidding. I don't promote lying unless it is for the greater good, as in I tell my stage manager that I have a hamstring issue in order to let my understudy on so her family can see her.  So, yeah--if you are not as yet 21 then bring your parents along--I might just play something that they will like!

           I know this is way early to be telling you about it, but I am excited and don't worry if you forget, because I will remind you when it gets closer...


          On another note, I was pleasantly surprised to meet someone who has been reading my blog outside the stage door tonight.  He even came bearing gifts; I got to leave with a bottle of sweet tea.  And one of his party was wearing a rocking boysetsfire sweatshirt; I have the same one in red and it is a lovely garment, indeed.  

          So, thank you! It was lovely to meet you and thank you for supporting my show! The fact that you drove three hours each way to see it means so much;-)

         One more note, please.  I would like to give as a disclaimer that when I doubted on my blog whether or not Bill Belichick, the coach of the Patriots, has a soul, I was truly and absolutely using sarcasm.  I am a staunch believer that every human being has a soul, even the likes of Bill Belichick.  And though one might be a cheater, wear an incredibly old and probably stinky sweatshirt on national television, and be a poor sport, that does not preclude one from having a soul.  

          So for the record, I do believe that Bill Belichick has a soul and may God have mercy on it. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

hmmm. Straight Night.

   It's funny how so many people sort of hate Mondays and what they usually stand for--back to work, the end of a free weekend--while I LOVE Mondays.  They are my one free, totally-up-to-me day of the week.  Sometimes I think I might like Sunday nights even better; the anticipation of a great thing weighing even stronger with me than the thing itself, but still Mondays are pretty darn near lovely.  

   Today was a great day.  I did so much.  Really.

   I voted (absentee-style. And DE is kind enough to send me an already-addressed-envelope, now that's what I call service!).

  I made reservations for a birthday soiree for my friend Ian at a, or rather the only downtown restaurant that stays open past our show here in Cleveland.

   I went and picked out one of those huge birthday cards for him so that the whole cast could sign it.  I had a whopping five to choose from and believe me when I say that none of them really had Ian written all over it. Heck, none of them had Ian written anywhere on it.

  So I settled for the puppy-dog card.  I figured most people likes puppies, especially the kind that are on a card and will not have an accident on your carpet or be inappropriate with your friend's leg.  

   The puppy-dog was the better choice, especially when the other cards had either a cartoon drawing of a butt on it or some sort of lame joke about getting older.  

   But the card store did have a special: buy three, get three for free.  I figured since I already bought one...I might as well just pick out two more, and then I can pick out three more!  I mean, it made sense at the time.  

   So thirty minutes later, I left the store with six cards in tow--including the huge one with a puppy-dog on it, but you already know about that, I guess.

   I also went online and picked out a birthday present for a very special person in my life (that's all I will say about that, though, because that person reads this blog).

   And I bought two pair of leggings that ended up being way too short for my legs.  Great. Now I have to make a trip back to the depressing mall where I found the puppy-dog card.  

   And you thought I was being sarcastic when I first stated that I did so much today...But wait--there's even more...Some of the guys were hosting (I kid you not) Straight Night. The plan was to watch football and play poker.  And I got invited...

   So I went.  It was pretty fun; for a while I was the only girl in attendance, but nobody seemed to hold that against me.  We talked, we watched football, I glared at Bill Belichick whenever I got the chance (I know he couldn't see me, necessarily, but I bet he felt my glare somewhere down deep in his soul.  That's assuming he even has a soul).  I did draw the line at playing Bloody Knuckles, however.  Hitting another person over and over again is not my idea of a good time (and don't even try to bring up that monster. I only hit him once!). 

   So all in all, it was a good day. Quiet. Restful.  And there was a nice to-do list that I got to mentally check off.  Oh, but I didn't end up playing poker, which is probably a good thing because I've never played poker. When the guys asked me if I wanted to attend Straight Night and play poker, I said, Poker's like Yatzee, right? They just looked at me with a big old question mark written all over their faces. You know, full house, three of a kind, four of a kind, large straight...I totally got it. They were like, Sure Jess, I guess it's kinda like yatzee, if that's how you like to think about it...). My roommate is out for the night so I went back to my hotel to take advantage of a room all to myself for the evening.  

   And to fill out the six cards I bought on impulse this afternoon...


Saturday, October 18, 2008

scatting? REALLY?

         While standing on the line tonight, I literally thought to myself, Not so much is going on right now, maybe I will take a night off from blogging.

          Well, first let me say that I don't usually think about blogging too much while doing my show and I don't necessarily condone letting my mind wander while on the job.  With that said, I will mention that there are a few spots in the show that it is possible for me to let my mind wander and not hinder the show...

       But truly, the aforementioned thought struck me a moment too soon.  

        Because then Zack said, Okay. Kristine.  And I was on.  The monologue went well, the beginning of the song went well, the middle of the song went well, and then the last verse hit.  I know I have mentioned this before, but I will just recap it for the purpose of this story.  Al (my husband) finishes every one of my sentences in our song.  Every one.  So tonight I sang, 

      I'm a birdie on the...

     And dear Al was supposed to sing ...wing!

    But my wonderful show husband could not, for the life of him, remember that dang word.  So what does he do?  He mimes it.  Yes, he puts his hands together and motions two wings flying through space but does not sing a word.  

    I am looking in the opposite direction at that point, so I don't see the game of charades going on; I simply hear the deafening silence.  

   And I lose it.  Lose it! I guess I caught whatever he had, because I can't remember my lyric that follows his.

    My next lines go something like this,

    doo be doo be da ba, la dee do doo dum dum...

      Yep, not one word of English in the whole mix.  Kristine is just scatting her little brains out on stage, not making sense, and (according to Clyde, who informed me of this later) waving her arms around wildly with eyes open wide in terror.  Later, my dance captain mentioned the terror in my eyes to me, as well, and he was sitting in the 6th row.  Just perfect.

     After what feels like an age and a half, I finally remember the thread of lyrics and catch up with a sentence that makes actual sense. Imagine that.  Singing a song that makes sense. What a novel idea for a musical.  

      We finish the song and I cannot believe what transpired.  Colt and I hold hands just as tight as can be, both silently commiserating with the other over the train wreck that was our song.  The audience cheers loudly and I can't tell if it's because they felt sorry for us, were impressed by my impromptu scatting, or actually thought the number was good.  

     I guess I'll never know.  

    Anyway, I had to share this gem with you.  It was awful, but hey, it happens. Especially in live theater.  I just hope it doesn't ever happen again to me.


Friday, October 17, 2008

tonight I punched a monster in the face

     I didn't mean to.  Honest.

     A group of us went to a haunted house tonight--actually, more like a haunted structure.  Or rather, structures. It was called The 7 levels of Hell, though I do believe that hell would be tons worse than what I saw tonight.  

     I mean, really, if you can buy a corn dog in hell than well, it's definitely not hell.  

     Oh, and tonight I had my first corn dog ever!  It was absolutely delicious.  So delicious, in fact, that I got another one before the end of the night. Don't judge...

      Anyway, we were going through one of the structures--this one was a corn maze, I believe--and I was clutching on to Ian's arm with all the strength and determination of a woman anticipating a monster to jump out at her at any moment (though, I did notice that Ian was just as happy to clutch my arm right back), when I saw this fake face peeking out at me through the fence.  

    Well, I am not sure what, exactly, came over me because it is generally not my style to just punch inanimate objects in their inanimate faces, but maybe I will toss it up to the corn dog, or rather, corn dogs because when  I saw it's ugly little weedy face, I just punched it.  

    And then, horror of all horrors, it came to life!

     IT. CAME. TO. LIFE.

     And started growling and moving and being altogether NOT inanimate at all.  I screamed and jumped back (making sure to not let go of Ian's arm, mind you).  As soon as I was at a safe distance away from the monster I apologized to it profusely because I really do not want to promote violence--even if it is towards a monster that you think is inanimate.  

    People in my group started informing me that I would have to go to jail because there was a sign at the ticket booth that stated: Punch a monster, go to jail.  

   Oh crap, I thought, I hope they serve corn dogs in jail, I hoped.  

    Turns out that was an empty threat, though, because well, I am blogging now and obviously not in jail. But yeah, I punched a monster in the face.  How many people can say that, I wonder?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

some pics, some text, for your viewing pleasure...

   I thought I'd share some pics with you--some from tour, some from other shows.

   Here we are, grooving, with Anthony jumping over our heads like it ain't no thang.

   And you can't very well be in A Chorus Line, without showing this, right? And (she tries to act all nonchalant, but is actually very excited...) you might have seen this same photo on a billboard.  You know, one of those really big advertisement things that are hovering over highways...? Oh, you're familiar with the concept of a billboard? Right, of course.
  This is from the National Tour of the Will Rogers Follies.  I am dead center, on the top stair.  Did I mention that I did a show for almost a year on stairs?!  Yeah...And for any of you who are country music fans, Larry Gatlin is shown here downstage center as our Will:
Quick story about that show: At our opening in TX we were enthusiastically giving it during the seemingly endless tap extravaganza that was the top of our show.  We were all on the stairs tapping and singing when, in the space of about a minute, three of us went down.  Either from our chaps getting caught on the stairs or just from plain falling, we lost some of the ensemble.  From the audience's perspective it must have looked like there was a sniper in the house.  I wouldn't have been surprised if they had taken cover, too.  

 Oh, and here is me as Belle! I mean, what girl doesn't want to be Belle? It was a dream. Truly.
  And here is the gang, during the 4th montage, about to go into our nervous breakdown on stage.  Most of us really like this part of the show because we get to yell whatever we want and have temper tantrums, respectively, on stage.  Awesome, right? And this is my job!!!
  And here we are in our backyard at my L.A. digs.  I would like to point out that I am really helping these spindly-armed, out of shape, weak excuses of men that happen to be friends of mine in the cast.  It's a very good thing I was there...
  In addition, I will say that Jay (the one directly in front of me) is helping maybe just a tad bit more than I am.  But not by much, not by much.

   And here we are in L.A.--John, Kevin, Jay, and me.  Oh, and it's my birthday!  I like these guys a lot. Okay, so I love these guys.  So much...  
Making the face that pretty much only I can make.  It's a way I have of plugging my nostrils with my lips.  And get this--I swim that way! I never need to hold my nose or wear nose plugs or nothin!  It might be very strange looking, but hey, it gets the job done.
Wine Country, USA.  Riding in style outside San Fran, and I am rocking albino-white skin for some reason. Jealous?!?!
  In the back of the corvette I surprised Drew with in San Diego.  I am wearing Drew's pin-striped jacket and Anthony is showing you a dangerously low-cut shirt.  Gabi is to my left and John is giving you face over Anthony's shoulder like he's on the cover of a magazine (maybe because he has been on the cover of a magazine!),
One more thing: Today I found myself lost at the bottom of my friend Derek's apartment complex here in Cleveland.  Contributing factors to my wandering was that the  bottom of the apartment complex is a strip mall as well as being adjacent to a college, with connecting hallways and everything.  I mean, sure I had been there just last night, up in one of the apartments, but come on--that was like 12 hours ago!  

 It's not like my mind is a computer! Or a GPS, for that matter...

  So, I was wandering around, trying to figure out how I was gonna find Derek in his apartment when three ladies walked up to me.

  Are you Kristine? asked one of the ladies.

  Not Are you in A Chorus Line? or even Do you play Kristine? but Are you Kristine? Just like that, as if she just happened to watch the real me audition for a show, along with my husband and about 16 other people.   

  I thought about it for a second, took in the fact that I was lost at the bottom of a building that I knew housed the apartment I needed to get to, was intimidated by my confusing surroundings, and really could use Al's help right about now (if you haven't seen the show, Kristine is truly dependent upon her husband Al), and could only smile as I replied,

   Yes. I definitely am Kristine.  

   She went on to say some very kind things, for which I am grateful. I went on to ask a security guard how the heck I get to Derek's apartment and did, eventually, find it.   

isn't it ironic?

     Sorry I couldn't post last night; sometimes blogger doesn't believe that it's me--even though I use the same exact password and user name--and so won't allow me to post.

     I guess it's just doing it's job.  But still, I find it very irritating. 

     Anyway, just wanted to give one more addition to my travel day story, though it has transpired in the days since Monday.

      After our first difficult day at the Wyndham, a few of us visited the Radisson down the street, asking for availability and rates.  They were delighted to have us, sympathized over our staying in a hotel that was currently under construction, and let us know they would match those rates and do whatever else they could to make our stay with them comfortable.

   The only issue for us was that our company had already hired the Teamsters (which is a rather tough union that pretty much is on parr with the mafia here in Cleveland) to move our extremely heavy trunks that travel with us.

   Seriously, these trunks are probably about 200 lbs each.

   We didn't know how we were going to move them from one hotel to the next.  And we weren't about to try to contact the Teamsters...

   But we wanted out of our current hotel and the tap-tap-tapping on the walls.

    Anyway, an angel in the form of Gina the Italian (and no, she is not a Teamster) heard of our plight at our opening night party here.  She is the VP of the Playhouse Theater and owns the Wyndham (where we were staying, albeit somewhat unhappily).  She was sad to find out that the construction was bothering us and told us that she would do anything she could to help us move to a better-suited location.


   So, we called Gina the Italian the next day and she sent over the maintenance men from the theater, complete with dollies and a large white van.  They were gracious enough to move our trunks for us and we checked into the Radisson with no further problems.  We were even pleasantly surprised to find that they put us up in a spacious suite and we had tons of room (plus sleep number beds!).

   We went to lunch and on the way back passed a parking structure that was under construction.  We couldn't help but notice it was practically adjacent to the Radisson.  I said, Wouldn't it be ironic if we got into our room and could hear the drilling from the parking garage?!

  We all had a good laugh at that and shook our heads at the improbability of it.

   Famous last words, right?

    Me and Gabi got into our room that was conveniently situated on the side of the building that practically shares space with the parking garage.  And we heard drilling.

   But this time it was louder than we'd ever heard it in the Wyndham.  We laughed, but just a little because it meant we had to pack up everything again and move those blasted trunks again.  

   We called the front desk and explained to them that we couldn't stay in this room due to the loud drilling noises coming through the walls.  They understood and moved us.  

  We didn't get a suite again, but it was a fine trade for peace and quiet.  Hopefully we will stay here at least until we go to Toronto in a week and a half.  

   And anybody who can create a silent drill would have my vote for president. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

thank God for comfortable pants

     I think yesterday may have been my worst travel day ever.

      Even worse than when I went all the way to Africa and then freaked out when I got off the plane because I suddenly remembered how many dangerous animals reside there.

      Even worse than when I went all the way to Korea, boarding the plane with a whole slew of people that made up a cast I had yet to know and could only hope held a few friends for me.  

     It all started with my anxiety over having to wake up early for my flight from Greenville to Cleveland.  I am such a night owl, that going to bed earlier than say, 2 am--even when I know I need to because of an early morning--proves generally difficult.  I end up laying in bed, lights off, eyes closed, willing myself to drift into sleep.  But the harder I try to force it, the further it fleets from me.  

   Combine that with the large amounts of midol I took on Sunday (which turns out has tons of caffeine in it. oops), and well, I just couldn't sleep.  After it seemed like an endless amount of tossing and turning (that cliche really is true. believe me), the clock finally struck 6 am and since my alarm was set for 6:15 anyway, I gave up the charade of sleep and just got up.  

   I got on the bus en route to the airport and was in a great mood, even despite my lack of sleep.  I was joking with my friends, wearing comfortable pants with an elastic waistband, and overall feeling good.   

   Even standing in line to check my luggage was no problem.  Again, I was with friends, we were making fun of each other and laughing, I hadn't slept, was still wearing those comfortable pants with the elastic waistband...Still good.

   I didn't even mind when, for some reason, one of our company managers started calling up people from behind me in line to get in front of me and check their bags.

   I figured that we were all getting on the same plane, so no big deal.

   I mean, sure, I noticed that somehow I had started out in the middle of the line and then ended up as one of the last to check my bag...But I was rolling with the punches, barely even feeling them at that point.

   We board the plane.  The, ah, tiny, plane. All but 4 people in the plane are part of the company of ACL.  The stewardess grabs the microphone and apologetically explains that though they tried their darnedest to get all of our luggage on the plane, some just didn't make it.  Of course they would do everything they could to get the luggage that didn't make the cut back to us as soon as possible.  

   Uh-oh. I have a sinking feeling that I was about to start feeling the punches.
   And then I start to crash. I mean, really crash.  I feel absolutely exhausted and start having fantasies of a bed and me stretched out onto it.  When the usual boarding-a-plane-and-it-could-very-well-go down thought strikes me, it is immediately followed by this thought:
  Well, at least then I would be able to sleep for a very long time...  

    The plane trip is mostly uneventful, save for the one time I find an as-close-to-comfortable-position-possible--I had taken the seat tray table down and was resting my head on it, with my furry jacket for a pillow--and was almost sleeping.  All of the sudden, halfway through the flight, mind you (so I had been lulled into a false sense of security that the seat in front of me was already in its final resting place), the seat in front of me reclines and squishes my head in the process.  I carefully extricate my head from the furry jacket and then contract back into my own seat so as to unstick myself from the newly-reclined seat in front of me.

   And here I thought that passenger wasn't going to recline, not when we'd already been flying for so long. What a tease.  

    We get off the plane and go to baggage claim.  I watch all of my friends gleefully grab their bags off of the conveyor belt; first one and then the other.  I am simply waiting for one bag, since I have downsized to a single suitcase, and that one bag just doesn't come.  

   The few of us who didn't make the cut are directed to the LOSER AREA, and yes that is the official title for it, don't even try to tell me it's not.  We shuffle over to the lost baggage counter like refugees with only the clothes on our bodies and a back pack.  One by one we describe our bags to the kind lady behind the counter and it's finally my turn:

    Well, my bag is a lovely shade of red, big and rolly, has a sea horse on it!

   My friend Clyde cannot help but add some commentary as he says, Of course it has a sea horse on it...

   Clyde seems to think that I am childlike and different, but in a good way.  He is the one who calls me wholesome.  Actually, one day we were discussing some of the choice words that some characters choose to use as add libs on stage; there was a group of us and we mentioned how one actor in particular says f#@** a lot.  Clyde then pointed out that that wasn't all she says, She says worse words than f*#@*, actually.  
  I thought about this for a bit, and then leaned in to ask him, What's worse than a f#@*#?

  Clyde just looked at me and started laughing before finally saying, And that is why you're wholesome.  

  Anyway, when I asked Clyde why he thought it made such sense that I had a sea horse on my suitcase, he simply said, Easy. If you were a magical sea creature, you'd be a sea horse.

  Oh, I replied. That makes sense, I guess.

  Then it was my friend Kevin's turn to describe his suitcase.

   He starts, Well, my one suitcase is named Elphaba and she is big and green and rolls, and then there's Nessarose, and she's smaller and is red, like the shoes she wears that Dorothy steals at the top of Wicked...

   The lady behind the counter is typing all of this quite seriously and we are cracking up.  I love my friends.

   We get on the bus to get dropped off at our hotel.  I don't have my stuff, sure, but at least I will have a bed very soon...We check in at 12 but are told that we won't have a room until 2.  Some of the people in the company have rooms, but me and Gabi do not.  

   I try to remain positive. I remind myself that some people have very bad problems and wear extremely uncomfortable pants, while, if you remember, I am still wearing my very comfortable pants with an elastic waistband.  

  The lobby does smell like vomit, however, and that is somewhat bothersome...It becomes even more bothersome when we are allowed to store our luggage (or my back pack, as the case may be) in their back office/den of throw up. At least that is how it smelled.  I reluctantly leave my back pack there, hoping that it won't become too contaminated from that awful smell in the time it takes for me to find some food.  

   As politely as I can, I do ask the lady behind the counter if she could tell me why the lobby smells like vomit.  I don't think she loves my question, and she certainly makes it clear that she doesn't agree with me, though she does tell me she will check on it and promptly leaves.

   I can't help but wonder what, exactly, she is checking on--the huge vat of vomit that they apparently store in their offices?!?!

   We go to lunch. I am really dragging.  Clyde is sitting next to me and tells me I look a little crazy and that he understands why I can't string together sentences so well. I can cry at any moment. I eat a bacon cheeseburger in three bites, which is due to either my extreme exhaustion or how delicious that burger is.  

  Or maybe it is due to the fact that I am well aware of my comfortable pants and their elastic waistband.

   We call the hotel at 2 pm. Our room is still not ready. I can really cry now.  
    We wait a little longer and decide to just walk back to the hotel anyway.

    By 2:45 I am in my room, even better, in my bed.  I pull the sheets up around me and stretch my body out, so very happy to be laying down. I am anticipating maybe the best nap of my life.  

    And then I hear drilling noise right above me. Really, really loud drilling noise.  And I am not even kidding.

   Apparently the hotel is under construction. Perfect. I call the front desk.

   Hi. Listen, I haven't slept for a very very long time and it's gotten to the point the I need to sleep. Now.  How long will the drilling continue?

  Just until 3:30.  

  Well, I don't think the "just' is justified at all seeing as 3:30 feels like a very long time from now, but try to remain calm as I say,

  And at 3:30 the drilling will stop?  Forever?

   Ah yes, at 3:30 the drilling will stop forever, he promises.

   I thank him and hang up the phone.  I turn over and fall asleep.  Finally. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Not Me Monday, in my own words...

      So, in honor of one of my favorite blogs , I am incorporating something of hers (at least for this week): Not Me Monday!

       It's an honest look at some of our blunders that we did, er, DIDN'T do this (deep breath) here goes!

  • While singing my one big number in A Chorus Line, I did not forget the last word that I have to belt out, bringing the song home.  Although the entire duet is about me singing and is in fact titled Sing, and that one word I had to sing at the end was, well, sing, I most certainly did not just wail out the word La! And right at the button of the number I did not hear a fellow cast member whisper La? to another cast member in complete incredulity.  And I certainly didn't have to stifle laughter at my own faux pas. Nope, not me!
  • I did not fake a "hamstring issue" with stage management in order to allow my understudy to do the show for her family and friends in her hometown.  I also did not loose a little sleep, due to my anxiety over lying, reminding myself over and over again that it was for the greater good--much like the people who lied about hiding Jews during the holocaust.  I didn't go through any of that because it didn't happen.
  • I did not then go to a haunted house the same night of said "hamstring issue," allowing my stage manager to find out about my excursion and even question me about it.  He did not pointedly ask me how I attended the haunted house with my "hamstring issue" and I did not scramble to lamely answer, Ah...I'm pretty sure the adrenaline was good for my hamstring...I mean, it didn't happen--but if it had, I would have come up with a much better reply than that.
  • At that same haunted house, I did not have to cheat by refusing to enter an abandoned school bus and instead jump the ropes, run into the woods and around the bus, and meet all my friends on the other side of it.  I was not absolutely terrified when I saw the supposedly deceased bus driver jump to life and then brandish a chain saw and start chasing my friends.  First of all, I wasn't at the haunted house and second of all it's all make believe.  So no way did I just skip the bus altogether; nope, not me!
  • I did not only take 2 showers this week.  That would be gross.  But if I did (which I didn't), I would have made sure to put deodorant on everyday, thereby marginalizing the grossness.  But it didn't happen, remember?
  • I did not kill a spider and then accidentally allow it to slip out of the tissue paper and fall into my purse. And I do not still have a creeped-out feeling in the pit of my stomach because I never did recover it's body.
  • I did not, upon discovering that my computer was coughing and spluttering, but not quite kicking into gear, lay hands on it and pray as if it were an actual person. And God did not, in turn, heal it.
  • I did not go into a candy store this week and get overly excited at recognizing my favorite, usually-only-seasonal brand of jelly-beans for sale, not even in their trademark bag. I was not able to recognize them right away, turn around and ask the salesman if these were indeed Just Born jellybeans.  He did not look torn somewhere between wanting to hire me because I was that good a candy connoisseur and thinking that I should maybe get out more because I was a little crazy and obsessed with something as trivial as a jelly bean.  And he most certainly did not have to call the owner of the store from the back just to confirm to me that they were what I thought they were before I would commit to buying them.  
    Well, I feel pretty relieved knowing that none of these things actually happened.  It's kind of like that feeling of relief you get right after waking up from a bad dream and realizing that none of it was real...;-)

       Is there anything that you, ah, didn't do this week?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

what not to do at the stage door

          I don't know, there's something about a Sunday matinee in Greenville that brought out the crazies to gather around the stage door today.

           Picture this, though really, nothing beats having been there and witnessing it for yourself...

           A few of us walk out of the stage door, eager to try some of the Fall Festival delights that we hadn't yet been able to savor.  It's 4:30. We just finished one show, with another looming in the not-so-far-future.  It's Sunday. We're hungry.  We see many people waiting with programs and pen in hand, so we are gracious as we walk towards them ready to autograph and smile, maybe even pose for a picture.  But we don't expect the Smiths. How could we?  

     Thank God there is safety in numbers.  

      Mrs. Smith quickly converges upon me, Ian, Brandon, and Derek, asking for an autograph for her daughter that is silent beside her.  Her husband waits with a smile hidden behind a rather large mustache.

       The family looks a little like there might be some cousins who married not too far back in their family tree.  I'm not trying to be rude here, folks, just trying to paint a picture.  

       To begin with, Mrs. Smith has a beard.  It is obvious from some of the stubble spots that she did, at one point, attempt to shave it--perhaps for a wedding or a church event, maybe--but she has let it go now for a good three week's growth.  I look at this woman and can't help but wonder at what point you just decided to simply let the beard grow.  Are you combing your hair back from your face, choosing your outfit for the day, and pointedly ignoring the hair on your chin?  Are you relying on the poor eyesight of others?  Do you still push back the facial hair to apply some lipstick, or do you let that go, too?

    It occurred to me that allowing a beard to grow is a point of giving up that I hope to never reach.  


    The first thing that Mrs. Smith sort of shouts to us is, My daughter's gonna be on Broadway!  
    Great, we say, Go for it! we encourage.

     Said daughter is awkwardly shifting back and forth, standing beside her mother.  She is large, with about four inches of roots showing before a bleach blond pony-tail takes over.  She is wearing open-toed low heels with thick stockings underneath, a longish skirt and a blouse.  She can't stand still, but keeps shifting back and forth, as if she can't decide how, exactly, to distribute her weight.  Her hands nervously fix the front of her blouse, over and over again, smoothing out imaginary wrinkles.  

     Mrs. Smith then asks us what schools we went to, but it is apparent that she really isn't listening but is rather waiting till she can tell us something else about her daughter.  Her chance comes quickly, since we quickly rattle off our respective undergrads without commentary.   

   Well my daughter is probably gonna go to Julliard! Though the Princeton Review says it might not be the best match for her...At this, she looks at her daughter, who finally pipes up:

   It's more for people going to the Met, rather than Broadway. She says this still shifting, not quite looking at us, but not quite looking away.  Her hands are still moving, fluttering over the front of her shirt.  

   Ian jumps in and encourages her to look at bunches of schools, try the Midwest, don't overlook the smaller conservatories; they might be just what she needs.  

   Mrs. Smith then starts talking to us about her husband--a large mustachioed man with pants pulled up quite high, thick, square, tinted-glasses that might have been sought-after in the 70's, and a shifty manner that is similar to his daughter.  

    Well, he went to school for music, but more the instrumental-type.  And it's funny, he has been her, she motions to her daughter, only voice teacher so far.  She's won beauty pageants, singing being her talent of course, though she was marked off one-point for her skirt being too short.

   What can you say?  Congrats on the beauty pageant victory--too bad on the skirt being found too short; judges can be so strict...

  Luckily we don't really have to say anything, Mrs. Smith is quite happy to proceed as she then starts to prod her daughter, Sing something for them. Come on, sing for them...

   The daughter continues to shift and pull at her shirt, but is obviously entertaining the idea...

    Sing Popular (this is from Wicked)! Mrs. Smith demands.

    No, no, no, says daughter, I think I should, ah, sing something that is more fitting to my, um,  personality...At this point her hands are moving rapidly, up and down the front of her blouse and she is looking somewhere between eye-level and the ground.
    We stare, realizing that we are now in for a song.  The Festival feels very far away at this point.

     The daughter continues shifting and speaks quietly, under her breath, Remember the lyrics, remember the lyrics! Don't make a fool of yourself now!

     We pretend not to hear her so as not to intrude on this intimate pep talk she is giving herself.  And then she starts, Something has changed within me, something is not the same...

    Yes, we are getting a live performance of Defying Gravity (another song from Wicked, that apparently is more fitting to her personality than Popular is; and sadly, I can kind of see why) right outside the stage door.  Her parents are smiling, basking in the perceived perfection of this impromptu and certainly un-anticipated (on our part, anyway) performance.  

    Honestly, her voice is not bad.  A little breathy, maybe, but still, not bad.  However, the awkwardness of the moment pervades.  I feel like I am at a really sad audition for American Idol; I kind of wish Simon was nearby, just so he can do the dirty work of putting the uncomfortable exchange to rest.  And honestly, I never thought I would wish that. 

    She sings all the way through the lyric, Close my eyes and leap...And we start to clap, signaling that it is over.  But she continues, singing right into the chorus, It's time to try defying gravity...We stop clapping and settle in for some more listening, unable to stop from thinking how we should have been eating pumpkin cheesecake right about now, maybe even sipping on some good southern sweet tea.

   At this point, Mrs. Smith sees some more cast members exiting the stage door and aggressively grabs them for autographs for her daughter's program. She is busy reaching across, speaking quite loudly, even, and all the while her daughter is still just singing.  Though now she starts walking backwards a little, dodging behind her busy-beaver mother, but still singing.

   It is unbelievable.  

    She finally stops. We clap. Again.  We tell her to keep the dream alive. We thank her for singing and walk away--before Mrs. Smith can suggest her daughter perform a dance or something--mentally shaking our heads and making sure to avoid each other's gaze so as not to crack up laughing.    

    We wonder aloud to each other what, exactly, they were trying to accomplish. We are not casting directors; heck, we aren't even beauty pageant judges!  When we tried to give them suggestions on schools, they weren't listening. I suppose they truly just wanted to show off to us.  They were absolutely socially awkward, unable to sense what is appropriate and what is not, and uncomfortable to be around.  

   Perhaps we perpetuated their social misbehavior by being gracious, clapping, and even thanking the daughter for her song.  But in that situation, what else were we going to do?  

   We left there seriously grateful for normal parents who never made us sing for actors outside stage doors.  We were grateful anew for our mothers who were not bearded.  We were thankful that we had voice teachers beyond mustachioed fathers who did something instrumental.  

   And we finally got to the Fall Festival, confident that we had seen it all at the stage door.  
    That is, until the next crazy corners us.