Thursday, August 15, 2013

This Beautiful Life

While checking an ancient hotmail account I never use anymore, I came across a draft of an email I wrote as sort of a journal entry that was such a downer that I didn't even want to write it in my actual journal. It was from 5 years ago, just a few days after my birthday, expressing how depressed I was. I vaguely remember writing this, but as I read it again today I actually started feeling really good because I realized that the girl that wrote it is a far cry from the woman I am now. This is what it said:

"everything depresses me. i watch movies and i'm depressed that i've pretty much given up on acting altogether. i listen to the radio and am depressed that i don't sing anymore. i go on myspace and read about other people doing things they love and making things happen. i'm depressed that i don't have the drive to make things happen. i'm depressed that i can't make up my mind about what i want to do instead. nursing? how depressing. i read the stupid gossip magazines at work and am depressed. i read a book, and i'm depressed that i feel i have no creativity left in me. like i can't create anything other than a meal. i have a hard enough time trying to fully develop an idea. i don't even try to improve at anything i was ever good at. guitar, piano, singing, acting, anything i though would help me grow into my future is pretty much gone from my life. i'm at a complete standstill, and it's depressing. the economy is depressing. the fact that i know nothing other than what i'm told is depressing. i have a hard time listening to my favorite musicals anymore because i feel like i'm going to cry all the time - not only because they're so moving, but because i once believed it was my destiny to be in them at some point in my life and at this point that seems impossible. and depressing. any time i realize i actually feel happy, it's short lived because it reminds me of all the things that depress me. the realization of happiness reminds me of being depressed, what's more depressing than that?"

What's funny is within the past few weeks I've actually realized and acknowledged how happy I've been lately. I have an abundance of good and supportive people in my life, from my family to my friends to my boyfriend to the people I work with (who I also consider friends). Just months after I drafted this email that wasn't ever meant to be sent I started acting again and never looked back. A year after drafting it I achieved one of my dreams and was cast as Mimi in Rent, and then again cast in the same role just months later. I got a manager the following year, continued singing, acting, began auditioning for film and television, got cast in American Idiot and joined AEA and travelled the country, I'm in class for acting, I'm taking dance classes... Such a huge turn-around on my life in the span of 5 years.

And what caused it? It could have been any number of things. At some point in 2008, with the encouragement and financial support of my mom, I actually did several sessions of hypnotherapy to help with drive and focus. I got a breast reduction that fall which made me finally feel like a normal, proportional person. I was getting ready to go to nursing school that coming January, but when I saw Spring Awakening in December of '08 I remember thinking "that is it, that is what I have to be doing." Even when I told my dad - who was going to pay my student loans - that I decided not to go to nursing school, all I got was support.

I also recently got another wake-up call. Last year I was shocked to find out that a classmate of mine from college died. It was declared that he died of natural causes at the age of 32. If you ask me, it's not natural to die at the age of 32. And just two weeks ago another college classmate died. She was my age, too, and I don't even know how she died. It was bad enough to hear about one death but another one? Just a year later? It effected me more that I would have imagined. But I also think it made me remember that I only have one life, and really it's flying by, so I have to do everything in my power to get what I want out of it.

There's an ebb and flow to life. I think it's especially apparent in the entertainment business: pilot season happens in spring, everything is sooo slow during the summer, things pick up again for episodic season, and there's theatre auditions here and there but always at the same time. This week in particular has been one pleasant surprise after the other, almost to the point of being overwhelming! Three auditions and two callbacks between Tuesday and this coming Friday (and one I had to turn down because I'll be away when the play opens), plus being invited to participate in a reading of a show that I love at a theatre company I've always wanted to work with by a friend who is one of the most talented people I know. All of my coworkers have been huge rockstars helping me rearrange the schedule to be able to fit all this stuff in. It's all crazy and amazing and... whoa I just got another callback. And another audition. I'm not even joking.

As I said on my facebook, it's amazing to see and experience what can happen when you choose to be happy and open your arms to the world. I know this was all very existential, thank you for getting this far. Now go and live every moment of the beautiful life you have.

Rest in peace, Inocente "Chente" Cervantes: Mar. 18, 1980-Aug. 13, 2012 
and Jhade Peralta: Jan. 21, 1985-Jul. 28, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Well well well, look who it is...... me. It's me, writing on my own blog. What the hell am I doing back here? Seeing as it's been over a year since my last post, I thought it might be time for a little visit.

Not sure if I can really summarize the past year in a nutshell, but - tour ended and was INCREDIBLE every step of the way, came back to LA to my boyfriend and my cat and dog and my friends, booked a few lines on a couple TV shows, auditioned a lot, booked some shows, and decided to write a blog post. Yep, that's what's up.

It was so bittersweet to close American Idiot. As I said the other day on my facebook page, each and every Idiot changed my life. The cast and crew became another new family, people I know I can feel at home with any time I see them. Every single person that come to the show and enjoyed it or didn't enjoy it or came to the stage door to say hey or get photos or just be weird with us were so so cool. My family, sorry guys but you became Idiots too and I love you for it. There was one show in San Francisco that my dad brought I think 16 people to come see it and I gave them all a backstage tour afterword. I'm not even sure I was allowed to do it but who cares, it was awesome. I really hope it doesn't bother people around me too much when I reminisce about the show because it's probably never going to leave my bloodstream.

And what else? Well I was someones #WomanCrushWednesday on twitter a while ago so that was new and fun. The play I'm understudying in - The Boomerang Effect - closes next weekend and if all goes according to plan I should have one more performance. It's been great working on a straight play for the first time since probably when I did A Midsummer Night's Dream, I must have been about 15 or 16. Summer has been slow and relaxing but it seems as if the auditions are starting to pick up again for episodic season as well as a bunch of musical projects I'm excited about. As a matter of fact I have a callback for one this Monday! When I went in for the audition a few days ago I chatted with the casting director about American Idiot a little first, then sang for about 10 seconds before he stopped me and said that he was going to call me back. It's not often that that happens, I've only had that happen to me a couple times before, but when it does it's a huge boost of confidence! I'm so thrilled to go in for the creative team on Monday.

I think that was a pretty good recap, yeah? In closing I'll leave you with this video of me and my best friend Katherine. It's called Song Time, but it's less about the songs and more about how weird we are together, about an hour of us condensed into 7 minutes of the good stuff. You'll find a little bit of singing in there, and even some sound relationship advice. Enjoy. I love you.

Song Time with Katherine And Nicci

Monday, June 4, 2012

4 Drinks In And Happy

It was the night we were all waiting for and it took us by surprise. Ever since the "p.s. See you in Toronto" that unfortunately wasn't possible, and the hopes that it would come true in other cities, we were finally surprised by the presence of Billie Joe Armsrong at our final show in Costa Mesa.

It would be so easy to pretend that I wasn't as excited as I was when I found out he was there. "Billie's here, did you know" Leslie said as we were walking downstairs to the dressing rooms after the show. "Yeah, he got here just as 'Novocaine' started". Whaaaa? Of course I didn't know... I was doing a show at the time.

This whole process has been dream come true after dream come true for me. Becoming a member of Actors Equity, not only meeting but having the chance to work with Michael Mayer and Tom Kitt and all the other amazing creatives behind the scenes, playing the Ahmanson in Los Angeles, travelling the country and calling a stage my "office". We had the pleasure of meeting Mike Dirnt, the bassist of Green Day, when he came to see the show in Los Angeles. Several celebrities came to see the show, and a ton of my friends and family (maybe most important of all) were able to see this show that I'm so proud of.

And then the man who started it all, the face of Green Day, the man who's words touched the angsty hearts and minds of millions, comes for a surprise visit. How can I even pretend to contain my excitement? No, I wasn't that fangirl who couldn't speak around him, or the one who wanted to ask questions about his career and fame and family life. To me, people are people no matter who they are or what they've done. But I was the person who was thrilled when he said that we did the show justice. There's not much more that we could have hoped for. All the hours that Michael and Johanna and Loren and Steven have spent showing us what this show is about have all been worth it. All the work we've put in has been worth it. This all may sound quite sentimental, and maybe it is, but there's no point in pretending you don't feel proud when you've done your job right.

And not only did he come see the show and meet all of us after, but he also came out to the dive bar we've been enjoying for the past week to chill out for a bit. What a lucky bunch we are.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I meant to post this weeks ago but for some reason blogger won't let me embed the actual video on the blog... weird. But here's a link to a little behind the scenes thing I threw together. I have another one in the works with more shots of everyone, but enjoy this one for now and hopefully soon I'll have another real update!!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Your Questions Answered...

Ladies at our opening night in Minneapolis

Has it truly been nearly two months since I last blogged? I felt like I had made a promise to myself  - maybe even to my readers - that I'd blog more, and now I've gone and done the opposite. Or maybe I didn't make that promise. It's been so long, I can't even remember.

We've made it all the way to State College, Pennsylvania by way of Toronto, Detroit, Boston, Raleigh, Chicago, and Minneapolis. To sum it up briefly: Toronto was cooooold but we had a lot of fun; Detroit was much more friendly than we had expected; Boston was so cool to explore and had great food; Raleigh was nice and relaxing; Chicago was wonderful and I had my first real deep dish pizza there; and Minneapolis was confusing with it's skyway but gave us some of the best audiences yet! Now we're in the  home of Dan Gleason's alma mater. We opened to a pretty big but polite crowd on Tuesday, and last night we had a great, loud audience for closing. That's right, only two shows and now we're off to St. Louis!

To help me get the ball rolling, I asked people on twitter if there was anything they wanted to know, so here we go...

@cgtheatregeek - "What are your fav and least fav parts about being on the road all the time?"
   + I love being able to travel to so many places I've never been before, and I'm a big foodie so I love to see what the local favorites are! Least favorite part would maybe be living out of a suitcase and trying to keep it under 50 lbs. It's also tricky to eat well sometimes, depending on the area we're staying.

@whatsername43 - "favorite things about the tour and playing extraordinary girl :D"
   + The company I keep is one of my favorite things about tour. Cast, crew, everyone... all so cool. My favorite thing about playing Ex Girl is probably that once I "become" her, I get to take a little break backstage! The first half of my show is dance/sweat/sing/sweat more. It's nice to finally take a breather after I fly.

@alyson_leonard - "Have there been any big stand-out moments for you that have happened while on tour? What has been your favorite stop so far?"
   + There have been a couple not so great stand-out moments involving flying... I guess it can get weird  going from city to city, dealing with different power sources and new dressers. There was one time in maybe Boston (?) when Scott's mic fell off his head and I somehow got it back on to a degree, I felt like a hero :) And last week we had a huge fiasco... for anyone who saw the Sunday matinee on the 26th, just know that you didn't see, or hear for that matter, what the flight was intended to be.
   On that note, there have been lots of great stand-out moments as well! On our travel day out of Raleigh, all the girls decided to dress like "elegant ladies". We got some interesting looks at the airport. Being on TV for the new year's eve celebration in Canada as soooo much fun! Looking out over Chicago from the Willis Tower was really incredible. Lots of good moments so far.
   I've liked different thing about each city we've been to, but I'd say that so far Chicago may have been my favorite stop so far because...

@NikkiRandom1 - "how it was being in Chicago & what was your favorite thing being in Chicago for the 2 weeks?"
   + ...One, we were there for more than a week! I actually got to unpack my suitcase and have a whole free day. Also, my boyfriend was able to be there for a few days including Valentines day <3 and we got to explore together. And also, deep dish pizza!

@armedwithlysol - " do you feel about fangirl stalkers at your shows?"
   + Haha, I love talking to fans after the shows! 
@armedwithlysol - "Please also finally confirm the cast vote for best deep dish Chicago pizza. What's the best thing you ate on tour?"
   + I don't know about the whole cast, but I dined at Lou Malnati's and Pizzeria Due (because Pizzeria Uno was too packed) and I'd have to say that while Due was nice, The "Lou" at Lou Malnati's has my vote. Wow. Wow. Like, really.
@armedwithlysol - "Legit: How'd your pilot audition go? How do you find time to audition on the road? Also, how do you guys choose roomies?"
   + The audition went great! My manager in Los Angeles got me the audition, it was just lucky that they happened to have a big casting office in Chicago. Several other people from the cast auditioned for the project as well! 
   As for roommates, most of the cast opts to have their own room, but once in a while Krystina, Jillian and I will choose to room together for a little extra per diem. Sometimes it's every other city, it just kind of happens. 

@IdiotOnTourFan - "So much has happened since your last post, would love to hear some highlights! What's a typical day like?"
   + A typical day... generally most of us sleep in, then get some food. Maybe a trip to the gym for the muscle twins (Vince and Dan), and maybe a little exploring, more eating, often a lot of relaxing. We get to the theatre an hour before showtime (plus 15 mins for whoever is doing flight call) to warm up and get ready, do the show, then have dinner and sometimes go out for drinks.

@evan71788 - "can we get a video please?"
   + As a matter of fact, I'm working on one now, I'll put it up as soon as it's done :)

Well that was fun! I love answering questions you guys have so keep 'em coming. And I mean it this time, I will try to blog more often!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Don't Wanna Be A Canadian Idiot

It's nights like these, when I can't get to sleep and there's no boyfriend to talk to, that I should be blogging or reading the next book in The Hunger Games series. After a day like today, I think the former is the way to go, hopefully I'll get a little of the latter in too...

As scheduled, Gabe was to go on for the role of Johnny tonight so we had a put-in rehearsal in the afternoon to make sure all would go smoothly during the show. We had a couple boys out because of relatively minor-ish injuries, so both of our boy swings were put into the show. It was a bit of a whirlwind because one of the boys disappeared with his injury just as we were finishing notes, so we did the run through while spacing a fixing and figuring out tracks at the same time.

Then... just before the show started, before I was hooked into the chains that take me up for upside down girl, we get word that the rig isn't doing what we'd like it to do. Something about the power source in Toronto is different than how we had teched it in Utica, so we said 'better safe than sorry' and cut it. The great part about that is that I got to do the first number without a harness on! It felt glorious. A little weird to run on stage with the rest of the girls, but I had no idea what fun I was missing backstage while I was hanging out (literally) waiting for them.

We had an ever so quick discussion right before the curtain came up about the possibility of the fly rig not being ready. We were told that they were confident that the issue would be sorted out within the next 35 minutes, but in the off chance that it wasn't we were to basically walk the number. At some point one of the stage managers found some old non-fly contingency plan for bway (that was never put into use because FOY always works) so I got a chance to glance at it for a few seconds here and there during my numerous quick changes. Luckily, our team is so amazing that the rig was unquestionably fixed and we could fly Extraordinary Girl like nothing ever happened.

If I had ever doubted it (and I haven't), I know by what happened today that I am a part of something incredible. So much credit goes to the entire cast who tweaked things here and there to fill in spacing, vocals, and movement, but mostly to Vince and Tommy who combined did the work of three men tonight with only a scant rehearsal this afternoon. Gabe was an incredible Johnny, and we were all so excited to be doing Canadian Idiot for the first time!

What a day. With today's put-in rehearsal, I'd call this a nine and a half show week. I'm not sure that I've ever done more than five shows in one week before this, so it will be quite the personal accomplishment when we get to Sunday night! And then it all starts again on Tuesday...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What A Silly Girl

I'm shaking a little as I'm typing this. I have a phone interview for a radio station in Detroit (WWJ 950AM) in about ten minutes and I'm nervous! It's weird, I don't get nervous about shows or auditions much anymore. Just excited. But I've never done this before! I think what's freaking me out is that it's for a newsradio station. I'm afraid they're going to ask me how this show relates to the current political climate and I won't be able to come up with adequate answers. There's a pad of hotel stationary next to me on which I've scrawled a few notes about the show, the people involved, Green Day, but nothing about politics. Hopefully this will be more like the "All Things Considered" segment on what's-that-station in Los Angeles that has more to do with entertainment or fun stories as opposed to news items. It'll be taped, not live, so maybe they can just cut out the weird/uninformed things I say and make me seem like a bright shining representative of American Idiot. Or maybe I'll do so poorly that they'll decide not to air it at all, or interview someone else instead. I'd be totally ok with that... Yup, still shaking.

. . . . (20 mins later). . . .

What a silly girl I am. It went just fine. The anchor, Greg Bowman, was nothing but pleasant and much to my relief didn't mention anything about politics :) My hands are still a little clammy, but my heart rate is back to normal. Phew.

Now that that's over with.... Hey! We're in Canada!! Have been for a week now. You may be happy to know that my neck is feeling just fine and my back is nearly back to normal. My voice on the other hand... well, it's getting there. It's been one hell of a week... several great previews, opening night with a gala afterword (Adrienne, BJA's wife, was there and seemed very proud of what we did!), more shows, sound check and performance on new year's eve for the giant televised celebration downtown, and an open bar/free food party at a "British pub" to follow!

Saturday morning I woke up and noticed my voice felt a little hoarse. I'm not surprised after the week we had, I think all the excitement and adrenaline caused me to push a little to hard. The NYE party didn't help either, because how can you not loudly celebrate on new years eve?? I decided to put myself on vocal rest for the past two and a half days (we got Sunday AND Monday off!), speaking as little as I could manage. This interview was the second actual conversation I've had in those past 2.5 days, so that's a part of why I was nervous. Luckily all the words came out. Hallelujah.

We're back at it again tonight. So glad I had that time to rest and recuperate, because understudy and put-in rehearsals are already underway. It's gonna be another big week! Alright, another hour or two of Catching Fire before I'm off to fly call....

*Fun fact: even though my pants don't fit anymore, when I went to LA for xmas I found out I gained three pounds. That means I probably gained 5 pounds of solid muscle, baby.*