Friday, November 30, 2007

A Book Report

Last week, as I was organizing my nightstand drawer, I ran across True Believer. I had totally forgotten I even had it. Since the premise was intriguing, I decided to go ahead and read it. I've read a few books by Nicholas Sparks and knew that I was in for a really good read. Well...I guess my expectations were a bit too high. I usually use a half box of Kleenex while reading a Sparks novel. Or perhaps the title is a bit misleading.

Jeremy Marsh is a New York City journalist who specializes in debunking myths and other supernatural phenomenon. His reputation has earned him an invitation to Boone Creek, a small town in North Carolina, to investigate a haunted cemetery. Based on the book title, I thought he would come to believe that some phenomenon simply can't be explained away. Nope. He did discover the real cause for the lights that appeared during foggy nights in the sinking cementary.

While in town, Jeremy fell in love with Lexie, the local librarian. Unfortunately their relationship ended by the end of the week as Jeremy had no desire to move to Boone Creek and Lexie didn't want to live in NYC. The only "true believer" was Doris, Lexie's grandmother, who flew to NY in the midst of a snowstorm to talk sense into Jeremy. What followed was a predictible and Kleenex-free ending.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, Birddog, Redux

I was two days ahead of myself. I couldn't remember whether it was the 27th or the 29th. He turns 43 today.

Rehearsal, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Last night was the first night we had a full run-thru without stopping. The show ran pretty smoothly. The scene changes went much better. For the most part, my light cues were tighter. The sound operator got a little flustered, but even if there had been an audience I don't think anyone would have noticed.

I was really proud of the kids. They all nailed their lines. Sarah almost went up on one of her mini-monologues. As soon as she opened her mouth her eyes conveyed a look of uh-oh. Still, she managed to get a sentence out and complete her speech.

Kelly cracks me up at times (especially during a long winded phone call with Mrs. Armstrong) and other times she's this side of overacting. Still, the fact that she can ad-lib without thinking twice is a huge benefit to the show. All the other actors should feel very safe when they are onstage with Kelly. (I know I always did.)

Tonight is final dress and we will have an invited audience. I'm looking forward to this rehearsal, as I'm interested to see what happens when the kids realize there is a "real" audience watching them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Arrow, Part 2

Arrow's follow up appointment was 10am this morning. As soon as I walked in the door Arrow started whining. I guess now he associates me with visits to the vet.

During the drive to the vet, Arrow's whining increased. I kept trying to calm him but he was clearly not happy. I practically had to drag him into the office. We had to wait a few minutes, since I arrived 10 minutes early for the appointment. Arrow sat right in front of the door, waiting for a potential chance at freedom. (Although he wouldn't have gotten far. The e-collar would have inhibited a quick get-away.)

Arrow was finally taken back and less than 10 minutes later the bandages and e-collar were removed. The e-collar was returned to me with verbal instructions to put it back on Arrow if he scratched at his ear. He got a rabies shot, a couple of doggie treats and we were on our way back home.

I placed the lampshade on the floor in the kitchen. I figured the reminder would be enough of a deterrent for Arrow. I think it worked. I didn't see Arrow scratch at his ear once.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Birthday, Birddog!


Sunday evening Ken mentioned that Arrow, one of his beloved dogs, was missing part of his ear. He wasn't sure if Bo, Arrow's bigger brother, bit it off or whether Arrow fought with a neighbor's dog or caught his ear on a fence. Worrying Ken further was the fact that Monday was the first day back to work after having 4 days off so he wasn't sure he'd be able to take Arrow to the vet before Tuesday. Since Arrow and I get along pretty well, I offered to take him to the vet. Arrow's appointment was at 3:30pm yesterday.

Once in the examination room, I was asked questions I couldn't really answer. After all, Arrow wasn't my dog. I had no clue about his ear other than it looked slightly chewed. I hadn't looked for the missing ear piece. (Ewwwwww!) And I didn't know if he had this shot or that shot. I felt like a bad pet owner, yet all I was doing was bringing in my friend's dog.

The vet took Arrow into the back to give him updated shots and bandage his ear. When she brought him back I started laughing. It wasn't a jovial laugh but more of a pity laugh. Arrow's entire head, save one ear, was bandaged. Arrow immediately sat down and started to scratch off the bandage. After a brief discussion, the vet and I decided to put Arrow in an e-collar. Arrow was none too happy.

On the drive back to Arrow's house, he sat, uncomfortably, in the front seat giving me the most pitiful eyes I've ever seen. He not only lost part of his ear, he was lamenting the loss his dignity too. Luckily it won't be for long. We go back to the vet on Wednesday to have the e-collar and bandages removed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Love and Support

Ken, Myla, Bill and Kathy, Dick and Carolyn, Kelly and Meghan, Ally, Mimi, Dad and Kelly, Don and Sherri, Frank, Cathy, Mom, Michael, Jim and Peggy, Allan and Barbara, April and Jacob, Mike, and Craig Dixon...

Thank you all for coming to see Steel Magnolias. Since Clemmons Community Theatre is relatively new, your attendance was very important and your support meant the world to me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Performance, Steel Magnolias

Since I do my make-up and wig at home, I've got plenty of time backstage, once I get into costume. We were chatting and I was admitting that I wasn't feeling very M'Lynnish. I mean, I knew (well, prayed) that I would give a good performance, I just didn't feel like M'Lynn. That is, until Mallorie came back to tell me that Barbara and Allan were in the audience.

Hearing that two people I knew were seeing the show (especially Barbara and Allan) caused my sleeping butterflies to awaken. I was very nervous as I step onto the stage and uttered my first few lines. I could hear Barbara laughing and from there, I was fine. And I was able to get back into character.

After our curtain call, I yanked off my mic and went into the house to see Barbara and Allan. They weren't there. I asked Mallorie if they had already left, and she said she wasn't sure they were there for the second act. I was afraid they were offended at one of my lines and left during intermission. You see, Barbara is Italian. During the opening scene I explain that we were served "Dago Pie" for dessert during the wedding rehearsal dinner. I must admit that knowing Barbara was in the audience I seriously thought about changing that reference. But, as an actress, I have to remain true to the playwright's script. I quickly decided to downplay it.

The rest of the show went well. We are really rocking, having found a very nice pace. If you haven't seen the show, we have a 2pm matinee and an 8pm performance tomorrow.

Performance, Steel Magnolias

Last night we began our second weekend run of Steel Magnolias. Because I was in Charlotte, we did not have a brush-up rehearsal. Still, I did spend some time yesterday going back over my script.

While I didn't feel like I was completely channeling M'Lynn, I felt my performance was much better than a typical Thursday night show. The show flowed very well and there were only minor line concerns.

I heard that Stan, a director I'm dying to work with, came to see Charis and me. He left during intermission, which was a shame. Charis and I have much better character scenes during the final scene. Still, I think Stan will be pleased with what he saw. I was pleased with the show.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Evening at the Theatre

Ken, Emily S. and I travelled to Charlotte to see the touring of The Drowsy Chaperone at Belk Theater. It was a cute show.

The story centers around Man in Chair (Jonathan Crombie, who was wonderful!) who is feeling a bit "blue". To combat his depression he plays musical soundtracks. On this particular day, he chooses the soundtrack to the 1928 musical The Drowsy Chaperone. As the record plays, the musical comes to life in his apartment. I loved this concept, but wasn't very impressed with the actual musical within a musical. The costumes were the best thing about it. There weren't really any big dance numbers and the songs weren't very memorable. In truth, outside of the Man in Chair and the twin gangsters (Paul and Peter Riopelle) I wasn't impressed with the cast. The guy who played Feldzieg looked exactly like Dick Butkus!

Ken thought the show would have made a better comedy than a musical. I totally agreed. Still, we all had an enjoyable evening watching a very entertaining show.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Book Report

I love it when my show finally opens, because this usually means I can read something other than my script. I've had The Night Before by Lisa Jackson since March when I went on a book buying spree at Costco as an early birthday present. I've been wanting to read this book ever since it appeared as a monthly selection for Literary Guild, 4 years ago. I finally finished it today. I wish I could tell you that it was worth the wait. It wasn't.

The prologue was promising. The murder of Josh Bandeaux was cold-blooded and chilling. I read on to Chapter One and became aggravated. I absolutely hate dumb heroines. And the central character, Caitlyn, was as dumb as a brick. Caitlyn wakes up in her bedroom covered in blood. Large amounts of blood are all over her bedroom - on the carpet, on the walls, bloody handprint trails to the bathroom, etc. She, of course, doesn't remember a thing about the previous night and has no idea how the blood got in her bedroom. Since she is not wounded, she simply chalks it up to, wait for it, a bloody nose. Yep. The funny thing is, she even admits that there's more blood all over her room than a bloody nose could possibly produce. Fiddle de de, no matter, she decides to clean up all the blood.

Within the next few chapters, Caitlyn goes on and on about lost time, not being able to recall events and/or experiencing bits of memory of Josh's murder. I'm no psychologist, but it's obvious Caitlyn suffers multiple personality disorder. Well, not plural personalities, just one, and it didn't take long to figure it out. Thirty more chapters to go.

There was a "twist" to the story, but by that time I didn't care. I almost threw the book out, but my personal policy is to finish whatever book I start. I accomplished the task, and what a task it was. Four hundred friggin' pages. It was awful.

Don't waste you time with this one. Or, visit Edwin McKay's in a few weeks. I'll have been the one to have traded it in.

Monday, November 12, 2007

No Rest for the Weary

Since we don't have Steel Magnolias performances until Thursday, tonight I will begin my "official" duties as stage manager for Kernersville Little Theatre's production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I'm not overly excited about doing this. There are almost 50 people in the cast. Ten or so of them are adults. The rest are kids, and most of the kids are in elementary school.

If you've got any Valium, please share.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Performance, Steel Magnolias

I usually don't get nervous unless I know someone in the audience. Ken and I have actually discussed this. He seems to get a little nervous before every show. I just don't. I can't totally chalk up a lack of nerves to being confident with my lines and in the character I've created, although that is part of it. Ken suggested I had a slight case of apathy when it comes to an audience of strangers. In a sense I agree with him. Because I don't know them I probably won't be seeing them again. So it's more about entertaining them than impressing them. People I know usually have an expectation to be impressed, or maybe it's more of my desire to want to knock their socks off. I don't know.

I knew my dad and his new girlfriend and Ken were coming to the show last night. So I was a bit nervous before the show. At about 15 til curtain, Mallorie, God love her, comes back to tell me that a bunch of people from KLT were there. I stopped her after she started giving me names. My butterflies increased. I made my first entrance and immediately saw Kelly and her daughter Meghan sitting in the front row. Thankfully I didn't have time to dwell on my butterflies.

Our costume change between 1.1 and 1.2 had been getting better. I taught Lee Ann to underdress her sweater and Kay and Jodi helped her with the baby's breath and bobby pins. She and I were ready as soon as the crew exited. Carole went up on her lines and Lee Ann was the one who got the scene back on track. I was so proud of Lee Ann and I think she finally felt that she had redeemed herself. In the midst of my tender monologue, I happened to look into the audience and I saw Meghan wiping at her eyes. My brain sent up a silent YES!!

After the show, I came out to greet the audience. The KLTers were first in line. Kelly gave me a huge hug and told me how proud of me she was. I could tell she had being doing some good crying. Bill and Kathy were also there, and Kathy had red rimmed eyes. She said she was also impressed with my performance. That was a huge compliment as she stepped in to play M'Lynn when KLT produced the show a couple of years ago. My dad was very proud and his new girlfriend was equally impressed.

Mallorie and I met Ally, Mimi and Ken over at Big Shotz Tavern. (The service was a bit better, but not by much.) We chatted about the show and lots of other things. As I drove home I really felt good about my performance. I know that I have done my job as an actress when I can take words from a script and convey the emotion that affects the audience. For this show, it's not the applause that lets me know I'm hitting my mark. It's the red eyes and all the sniffling.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Performance, Steel Magnolias

Last night was our second performance of Steel Magnolias. Overall it went very well. I think Lee Ann let yesterday's page jump affect her. She exits during 1.2 to get some "clothes" from her "car" and a few lines later, she re-enters. She had totally forgotten she was supposed to come back on and was standing backstage with her wig off! She quickly pulled it on and made her entrance, so again, the audience was none the wiser. In the second act, Lee Ann zoned out on her lines and it took all of us covering to try to get her back on track. She did and the rest of the show went well.

Lee Ann was beating herself up quite a bit. I was telling her stories of my jumps, drops, late entrances, etc. I also reminded her that I was the only one to go up on my lines during our live TV spot. It happens to everyone. And, for me, that's the beauty of live theatre. Dealing with things as they happen.

Our cast party was at Big Shotz Tavern. Once again they were a bit slow on the service. They were warned well in advance that we would be coming at 10:30p so there should not have been any excuse for the slow service. I ordered the nachos, and later wished I hadn't. Still, it was nice to sit and chat.

We've 5 more performances to go. Our Saturday matinee is pretty full; about 150 reservations on the books. You still have plenty of time to get some tickets.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Opening Night, Steel Magnolias

Last night we opened Steel Magnolias, the third production for Clemmons Community Theatre. We had about 50 or so for our first audience. And for an opening Thursday audience they were very responsive.

Our first scene went very well. I was able to remember all my lines, and even added a few extra words to some of my dialogue. (i.e. "Jackson's a good ole Southern boy from a good ole Southern family with good ole Southern values....")

The scene change from 1.1 to 1.2 took forever. I'm dealing with a complete costume change, while Lee Ann is changing and digging baby's breath and bobby pins out of her hair. We nailed our "I'm pregnant" scene, which is one of my favorite scenes. Further on into the scene I'm on the couch reading a magazine when Lee Ann delivers a line and I suddenly realize I'm not usually on the couch at that point. As I moved to the chair, I was trying to figure where I got off on my blocking. Lee Ann had actually jumped about a page and a half. As she made her exit, we realized that she hadn't announced her pregnancy to the group and our remaining dialogue centered around that theme. I could feel all of us thinking of how to cover. Finally Carole said her next line and I covered by asking "Truvy" if she'd overheard our earlier conversation. It worked fine; the audience never realized the jump.

Act Two went off without any major blunders. Charis and I had the audience crying with both of our monologues. At the height of my tender monologue, just as I was taking a breath, one of the ladies sitting in the front row dropped her program. It made a loud noise and almost broke the moment. Still I heard a few sniffles and was pleased that I had accomplished my task as an actress.

I was extremely proud of Mallorie. She was so very nervous at the top of the show, since this show marks her debut as stage manager. She gave time warnings and called places. The light and sound cues were on time. She did an outstanding job. I think this is the beginning of a long career for her.

We've 6 more performances so you've plenty of time to get your tickets!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Something Worth Bragging About

For the last two years "Report Card Day" was not an especially good day for me or Mallorie. I've always tried to instill the importance of the effort, and not necessarily the sole importance of the grade. I mean, I've worked my tush off before just to earn a D. I'm okay if Mallorie "earned" a D. I'm not okay with "getting" a D because you haven't turned in homework or studied for tests.

Mallorie's high school principal had called to remind all parents that Tuesday, November 6 was "Report Card Day". From the moment Mallorie left in the morning, I was dreading her return.

She got in and immediately came down to see me. I looked at her poker face and as my stomach flipped I held out my hand. She gave me her report card. Two A's (PE and Theatre Arts), four B's (Algebra, Civics, Honors English and French) and one C (Chemistry). I was elated! No D's or F's! "Look at the second page," she instructed. I turned the page and almost fell on the floor! She made the Honor Roll.

Mallorie stood before me just beaming. Honor Roll had been a complete shock to her as well. I congratulated her and gave her a big hug. I told her I was absolutely proud of her. And for the first time in too long a time, I also saw pride on her own face.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Radio Interview, Steel Magnolias

We continued our press tour this morning. All six of us showed up for a radio interview with WBFJ 89.3. I've seen pictures of radio stations, even watched WKRP in Cincinnati regularly, but this was the first time I'd actually been in one. I was absolutely fascinated!

Norm was supposed to be there and at the last minute wasn't able to make it. Our castmates nominated Carole and me to be the spokespersons. So she and I stood directly in front of the mics in the on-air room. Carole and I both decided not to wear the headsets. (I might have gone a bit crazy - my inner radio personality was threatening to come out. I was worried I'd start affecting my voice like some radio announcers.) I took the question about the movie - was the play or movie first? How does the movie/play differ. Carole discussed Clemmons Community Theatre and solicited actors and volunteers.

It was only a 2 minute interview, but I had a good time. I hated our TV spot. Perhaps radio is where I need to be. People can't see me, but they do have to listen!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday Funny - "Puppy Size"

This is sure to make you smile.

”Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again. We’ve been back to this animal shelter at least five times. It has been weeks now since we started all of this,” the mother told the volunteer.

“What is it she keeps asking for?” the volunteer asked.

“Puppy size!” replied the mother.

“Well, we have plenty of puppies, if that’s what she’s looking for.”

“I know...we have seen most of them,” the mom said in frustration. Just then Danielle came walking into the office. “Well, did you find one?”

“No, not this time,” Danielle said with sadness in her voice. “Can we come back on the weekend?” The two women looked at each other, shook their heads and laughed.

“You never know when we will get more dogs. Unfortunately, there’s always a supply,” the volunteer said. Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. “Don’t
worry, I’ll find one this weekend,” she said.

Over the next few days both mom and dad had long conversations with her. They both felt she was being too particular. “It’s this weekend or we’re not looking any more,” Dad finally said in frustration.

“We don’t want to hear anything more about puppy size either,” Mom added.

Sure enough, they were the first ones in the shelter on Saturday morning. By now Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the section that housed the smaller dogs. Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to take a closer look. One by one, the dogs were brought out and she held each one. One by one she said, “Sorry, you’re not the one.”

It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect pup. The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up the dog and held it closely. This time she took a little longer.

“Mom, that’s it! I found the right puppy! He’s the one! I know it!” she screamed with joy. “It’s the puppy size!”

“But it’s the same size as all the other puppies you held over the last few weeks,” Mom said.

“No, not size... the sighs. When I held him in my arms, he sighed,” she said. “Don’t you remember? When I asked you one day what love is, you told me love depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!”

The two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. As she stooped down to hug her daughter, she did a little of both.

“Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home from work and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the right puppy if it sighed when I held it in my arms,” she said. Then holding the puppy up close to her face she said, “Mom, he loves me. I heard the sighs of his heart!”

Saturday, November 03, 2007

TV Interview, Steel Magnolias

This morning the cast of Steel Magnolias began our promo tour. We had a TV interview scheduled for 7:30a with WXII.

I headed over to the studio with plenty of time before our 7:15am call time. I pulled in and pressed the buzzer, as we had been instructed to do. All I needed to do was identify myself as a cast member and I'd be permitted through the automatic gate. Well, I pressed the buzzer and waited. I pressed again and waited. And waited. Lee Ann pulled in behind me. I kept pressing the buzzer and we kept having to wait. I know we were out there for ten minutes! A group of ladies exited the studio and were headed to their cars. They informed Lee Ann that WXII was short staffed this morning and no one was manning the gate. So as the gate opened to let them out, Lee Ann and I snuck in. We were the last ones to arrive and Norm and the cast had been worried.

The morning producer came to advise that Norm would do most of the talking, and they wanted a 30 second scene from the show. We decided to use the closing dialogue of Act 1, scene 1 since all 6 of us are on stage and have lines. The scene starts with Shelby's line and Lee Ann was a bit nervous to be starting. We practiced and it went fine.

At about 7:40a the anchor came in to the room and quickly said hello. The camera person set up and the boom mic was lowered. We could see Norm on the TV in the corner. The anchor asked a couple of questions which Norm answered beautifully. Then came our scene.

The scene went fine. I went up on my last line but covered it pretty well. Well, at least the viewing audience won't know I flubbed. I walked up to Lee Ann and laughed as I told her that even seasoned actresses screw up. I hope knowing that helps her feel less pressured.

Next stop on the promo tour - WFBJ radio station on Tuesday.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Guilty Pleasure - Boy Bands