Wednesday, April 1, 2009

a year and counting

Happy Anniversary to me.

As of yesterday, I have now been doing A Chorus Line for a year.
A Year.
Who'd have thought?

I know with most careers, doing one job consecutively for a year does not seem like such a big deal--but, in this business it is. It's kind of like dog years to people years, I guess; Musical theater being the former and other jobs that don't involve leotards on a regular basis being the latter.

Last year at this time I was living on Broadway and Dyckman, in Manhattan. I basically lived off of yogurt, cereal, fruit snacks, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, toast, fried egg sandwiches, and Ben and Jerry's ice cream--all of which I found in the corner grocery store in Inwood. I couldn't get much more since I had to carry it the five or six blocks back to the apartment. Oh--I also lived off of plenty of water and water is heavy.

Which is why I may have been a little dehydrated--not wanting to carry as much as I probably should have.

I remember Drew spending the night with me before my rehearsals started at the New 42nd Street Studios; and especially the cold and scared feeling that gripped me as I forced myself to walk away from him and towards the subway in order to catch the A train express that next morning.

Our head of wardrobe had just contacted me to tell me to go to the shoemaker's before our first rehearsal. This scared me since, not only was I going to a new place to do a brand new thing--I now had to navigate through the city to squeeze in another new place before I got to the new place I had already been anticipating.

Turns out my sense of direction gets no better in a big city. I got lost, and rather than be late for my first day of work, I skipped the shoemaker altogether and booked it to 42nd street.

At which point I jumped into the elevator and, arriving at the right floor, ran around the corner straight into someone who looked oddly familiar...After almost knocking him over with all the grace and subtlety of a newborn colt, I stuck my hand out and said, Hi, I'm Jessica. To which he replied, I'm Mario.

Oh right. Mario Lopez. Of course he looked familiar; I had only spent hours and hours watching he, Zack, Screech, and the gang do their thing on Saved By the Bell.

Stupid, stupid.

I quickly told him it was nice to meet him and got out of there.

The first thing we had to do was fill out some forms while listening to our union rep drone on and on about 401 k's and percentages and other such mind-numbing topics. Yes, these things are important and I am grateful that they do, as of this past year, apply to me.

But they tend to bore the heck out of me.

And I tend to be very good at going somewhere else in my mind and missing the lecture completely.

Then we sat in a large circle (which included the whole creative team, our producer, the general manager, the press reps, the head of wardrobe, the company managers, the stage managers, etc.) and went around one at a time introducing ourselves as well as naming our roles.

I sat there counting the people until my turn, not being so good at listening to them since I was so darned nervous about what I was going to say.
I know, I know--I literally had to say all of two sentences: My name is Jessica Latshaw. I will be playing the role of Kristine.

But judging from the way my heart was wildly beating, you'd think that I had to give an inaugural speech. Or at least recite a little of what I had learned from the 401k speech I had not listened to. And if that were the case, it would have been even shorter than the aforementioned two sentences I was already preparing.

But I said my bit and it was fine. I think I may have even smiled as a bonus. I stared around the room, not knowing a soul, not knowing the people with whom I would build this show and ultimately become friends with.

Goodness, what a difference a year can make.


beingawesome said...

this made me smile.

peaj said...


I've always hated the "go around the room and introduce yourself" thing at meetings. Who has the time to listen to other people when you have that pressure?

Joe said...

Good post. I can't believe you have been doing this for a year now. Congratulations! It is funny to think you get nervous speaking up in front of the circle of people when you are performing in front of so many more. It does make sense though. I know I get the same way. I am sure most of the people in the room where counting heads to see when their turn was coming and reciting in their head what they were going to say.

It is like when I was in elementary school and the teacher would have us read aloud through a book, each taking a paragraph following our seating rows. Everyone would count ahead and not even care what was being read. Just reading your own section in your head until it was your turn.

Nowadays teachers get tricky, they call on people randomly at random times.

Mom said...

And THIS was the girl who cried before she went to school each day until I decided to homeschool her! Wow! You've come a long way......

Jessica Latshaw said...

haha, well you can't really do "home-musical theater" can you? at least, I am pretty sure there is no salary in that!

and I thought the circle introductions made me so nervous because, being home-schooled, I basically missed paying my dues with them growing up--but I guess they have that effect on others too.

and it's funny, when professor's needed volunteers to read aloud for something in college, my hand would always shoot up right away. I literally loved it. Probably nerdy, but that was always very different feeling from the circle introduction for some reason.

Nina said...

Thanks for sharing your first-day jitters...and congratulations on your anniversary. Are your feet demanding a day off in honor of the occasion?

Jessica Latshaw said...

My feet are demanding a lifetime off!

But I am trying to explain to them that that would mean no money to buy shoes for them...;-)

kathiek said...

Congratulations on your year anniversary! Thanks for sharing all your adventures with us!

"But I am trying t explain to them that that would mean no money to buy shoes for them..." Very funny! Every thing's a trade off, isn't it? ;-]

John said...

This post made me happy. It made me remember such AMAZING times and brought on a flood of memories and emotions! What an amazing time. It was a dream come true. going into the show not knowing any of you and growing to love ALL of you...what a blessing.

Jessica Latshaw said...

John--YOU are a blessing!!! I miss you and love you much much much. Anthony and I always say to each other, "John would have loved this..." as if you had died or something.

Thank God you are alive and well--just wish you were alive and well HERE, is all;-)