Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I was sore last week. I've been bruised almost every day. I've gone through Lorin Latarro's and Steven Hoggett's warm-ups. But today was the first real day of fatigue.

I think it was pretty much across the board a rough day for everyone. As Talia put it, a kryptonite day. I could tell by the end of the warm up that my body wanted to say "no" already. Just absolute fatigue, and all we had done were some sit ups, stretches, and galloping across the floor.

Luckily we started by blocking We Are The Waiting which is pretty low key. Phew. But being so low key, it didn't take long until it was in our bodies and we moved on to Novocaine. What a song. There's definitely a lot going on in different story lines, but this is where a group of us had to throw our bodies around the stage, flopping like very precise fish all over the ground. We're supplied with knee pads for whenever we want to use them, but by the end of the day my knees were still stinging.

And it wasn't just because of Novocaine but because right after that we did St. Jimmy. That's a lot of flopping around in a different drug-crazed-like way, more being on our hands and knees. I love the choreo/staging/whatever you want to call it. It's precise and hard hitting and looks great but man oh man... it's a beast! I get the feeling it can only get better from here though. I'm definitely not feeling the soreness that I was last week, and through I'm getting more bruises the big ones are fading and I'm figuring out ways to try and prevent getting more. I really would love to get my hands on a measuring tape or scale and see what awesome damage these rehearsals have done :)

Although it's not written on our schedule for tomorrow, I get the feeling we're going to do a run of everything we've learned so far tomorrow. That means from the top of the show through... Give Me Novocaine. That means we've learned half of the show in a week, plus bits of other things we'll string together later. I'd say that's pretty good! And I couldn't ask for a better group of people to be spending every day with learning this stuff. I had a good feeling about what I was getting into during fly week - the five other people were so easy to be around and ready to help each other. That was definitely a preview of what everyone else would be like. I could gush about everyone but you'll learn soon enough how amazing they all are.

Two final things: One, if you haven't already you should check out Kelvin's blog. He cracks me up and speaks the truth!

And two: BJA's email to the cast. I'm keeping the "Ps" a secret.... for now

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Say, Hey!

Yesterday the AI productions company graciously offered everyone in the cast two free tickets to see a preview of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. Yup, the one I auditioned for this summer. We had some time to kill before show time so a few of us got some food and a couple drinks. Aside from flying week and lunch time, this was the first "bonding" time we had. I am so pleased with our cast, everyone is so cool and nice and friggin talented.

The show was really lovely. I took my sister's (nee) roommate Brianna and I couldn't have asked for a better date. It was cool for me to see what direction they chose for the role of Melinda. The actress, Jessie Mueller, had an amazing 1940's quality to her voice. It's nice when you can know you did your very best bet they were just looking for something different, something very specific. The whole show was very enjoyable and I loved how they played with the story line to make one of the main characters, Davey, a gay man instead of a woman (the character's name was originally Daisy).

I decided to take it upon myself to try and find a quicker way home. It was unsuccessful. I got off the express train at my stop and decided to hop on the local train to go up one more stop so instead of walking six streets and and avenue, I'd only have to walk two streets and an avenue. As soon as I got onto the sidewalk I knew I was wrong. Turns out there's a pig park between that stop and my destination, and I wasn't about to walk through a park by myself at 11:30 pm in Harlem. And by the way, it was raining. I first had to walk a ways to get my bearings - a couple streets and a couple avenues - and what would have normally taken less than ten minutes (and about five minutes on the route in my mind) took over 25 minutes. But I made it home alive and learned my lesson: trust the people that live here, they know better. Or just study those subway maps.

The real physical work started yesterday. For our warm up we did some obstacle sprints and a lot of arm work. That's not something I'm accustomed to working out. I'll do some tricep dips once in a while or a push up here and there, but nothing like this. Steven said he'd rather us do one push up with perfect form than ten that were shit, so with some of the harder positions I only got to five or six. I plan on eventually becoming strong enough to do it all but... one step at a time.

Today we did more sprinting and some cardio stuff, a lot of stretching, and then worked on glutes. It was difficult but I definitely felt the good kind of burn. This show is going to whip us all into shape in no time. And if the warm ups weren't convincing me, the dancing we did today would have. We started to put our "8 counts" together for what I believe will be the choreography for She's A Rebel. What's tricky is that all of us are doing the same thing only about half of the time. The other half of the time we're doing the same thing as maybe 3 other groups are different things. And on top of this, our little similar groups are going to be all intermingled on stage so it's not like you can look to anyone else to figure out where you are.

So that part was tricky because of the brains part. After that the boys were taken to the music room to work on some boy song while the girls started to learn out part for the opening. A lot of it was similar to what we did at the audition, but there were a few more things added to it and it was about twice as long. This is where it became tricky because of the endurance part. If you haven't seen the show, the girls start off by running onto stage, stopping abruptly, running more, nearly falling, running more, smashing imaginary televisions, running more, and doing it all over again just on the opposite side of the stage. I'd say once we probably ran it twelve times or more. On our last go I was almost afraid that my legs would give out. Luckily, they didn't.

Instead of taking a water break, we went straight on to learning the Letterbomb choreo. That one combines brains and stamina. It's a lot of sharp shoulder movements and jerking out bodies around. I'm kind of glad I have a lower vocal part on this and some of the other songs because it takes a lot of breath support to be belting these things out, and I'm going to need all the breath I can get! Needless to say I was all kindsa' rosy by the time our lunch hour came around.

Our afternoons have been dedicated to music. We plan to have covered all of the music by the end of Friday and do a full sing-through of the show on Saturday. It's really incredible, the music. I've heard the recordings and seen the performances, but when you can hear how everything breaks down with harmonies and dynamics and why we're singing what we're singing, it's really spectacular. Especially with such spectacular voices. You know you're working with professionals when during ensemble parts of songs there isn't one person that stands out (unless of course they have a solo over us), all the voices blend together perfectly. All of you musical theater people know that there's always those one or two people in music rehearsals that like to sing a bit louder or hold a note longer than everyone else. It's such an amazing thing when everyone can trust the music and the direction and know that it will sound beautiful as a whole when we're all doing what we're supposed to be doing. Ahhh. Heavenly sounds.

Tonight after a nice chat with the bf I took a long hot bath to soothe these aching muscles, and I plan on sleeping in to my heart's content tomorrow. Although, knowing there's going to be turkey and all the trimmings, the excitement may just kick my body clock into gear. Have a great holiday everyone!

If you like my blogs about the AI behind the scenes stuff, check out Krystina's and Kelvin's blogs. And I have a facebook fan page. Shameless self promotion. Ok maybe there's a little shame.

Also, if anyone has suggestions of places to eat or things to do... or places to eat.... let me know! I don't have that much time off but when I do I'd like to experience as much of the city (and the food here) as possible!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Remember that time when I wrote a blog about High Fidelity and tried to catch the attention of Tom Kitt and Amanda Green? Well, tom didn't see the blog but he was aware that I performed in High Fidelity this summer. I'll take it.

Today was the first day of rehearsal! It's been four months and ten days since I got the call and now it has begun. I stayed up much later than I should have last night watching the show. I'd never seen it before, so I thought it would have been a good idea to familiarize myself with more than just what's available from bootleg clips on youtube. What a cool show. The visuals are pretty incredible and the vocal arrangements are stunning. I can't wait to really get into it and feel it for myself.

We started off the day by having an equity meeting. I'm on my way, ladies and gents! In just a few months I'll be an official member of the Actors Equity Association. There were four other people in the cast who were also non-equity, so I imagine it was an especially exciting day for the five of us. When that was all taken care of our choreographer, Steven, led us in an exercise that helped us to learn and remember each others names as well as warm up our bodies. After that we did some core work, crunches and things like that. I had forgotten to put my rehearsal clothes in my bag this morning so I had to do it all in my jeans, boots, and long sleeve shirt. Luckily it wasn't as intense as I was mentally prepared for. I assure you it will get crazy, but it's nice that we had today to kind of ease us into it. We were also given about five minutes to listen to a song and come up with an 8-count, then were put into groups of four and put our moves together. We think some of these moves may be incorporated into the choreography, that's how they came up with some of the original stuff. I guess we'll see.

After about two hours with Steven we went into the adjacent room to work on music with Tom and Jared, the music director. Got through American Idiot, most of 21 Guns, and some of Last Night On Earth. Everyone sounds incredible together, there are so many fantastic voices in the cast. I can't help but smile when we get to the really powerful moments of the songs. Wow.

The day ended with a meet and greet with everyone involved with the show. Fun fact: Tom Hulce, one of our producers, was Mozart in the movie Amadeus. He was also the speaking and singing voice of Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. True story. Billie Joe Armstrong wasn't able to be there but Michael Mayer, our director, said he sends his love and is very excited. He'll meet up with us at some point. Maybe even perform with us? I'm not making any promises, and nothing's been announced but..... I'm just sayin.

Time to work on my music and pack up my bag for tomorrow. I'm an positive that it's going to be intense and I will not be forgetting workout clothes again.

Ps. Here's a clip of us singing Good Riddance and the airport.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week One: Done

Greetings from the Charleston airport! We had a very successful week of rehearsals. It's amazing what we were able to learn and become comfortable with in only three and a half days.

Day two of flying was... painful. We learned a lot and it went great, but man oh man I cannot describe the pain I was in. If you follow me on twitter you can see a picture of the bruises on my arm from banging it against the wire. And that's by far not the worst of the bruises. But we got through it and over the next few days put the whole thing together. The associate choreographer was there to give us details for the rest of the number and we ran it over and over again. It looks really beautiful.

Yesterday the girls practiced what we're doing for the very opening of the show. All we do is hang upside down. I didn't think there's be anything to it, but it's a lot more frightening than you'd think. We're hanging about 40-50 ft above the stage for two and a half minutes. Not only that but for the tour, we'll have the potential to slowly spin around up there. I'm ok (as ok as I can be) when looking at the set or into the wings, but when I see the whole audience and the ceiling is closer to me than the floor, it's pretty crazy. Then we have to do a couple of back flips while descending and then run around and dance like crazy. That's gonna take some getting used to.

Our last day of rehearsal a half an hour later and were finished by around 2:00. That gave us a some time to explore a little bit of Charleston. We walked down to the old slave markets, which is now occupied by various vendors selling jewelry, candles, food, and lots of woven baskets. After a great lunch we headed back to the hotel to catch the shuttle to the airport.

This is where it gets fun... there were six of us scheduled to fly directly to LaGuardia at 7:10, getting in a little after 9. Our boarding time, 6:40, goes by. Then it's 7:15. Then 7:30. No one knows why we haven't boarded yet. They finally tell us that they have a maintenance issue and they don't know how serious it is but they'll let us know as soon as they know. We come to find out that there's an air valve or something in need of repair and there's no mechanic on site, so they have to call someone in. Who do you just call up to fix an airplane? I guess they didn't know either, because whoever showed up couldn't fix it so the flight was cancelled. Instead of lining up at the counter to change our flights we immediately got on the phone and got new flights in the morning. I think I got one of the last seats available because I'm in first class on my connecting flight, and two other people had to get another flight because the one I was on was full by the time they got through. So this will be my first time ever flying first class! I hope the flight from DC to NY will be long enough to enjoy it.

We were put up in a hotel near the airport, and got dinner - paid for by the AI production company. We also get an extra day of per diem for today, which is really nice of production. It's the stage manager's birthday today, I missed my sister's going away party, and a cast member's wife's birthday was yesterday and he missed it. We did make the best of our situation though. We even had a little jam session with another guy on our cancelled flight. He had a ukulele and one of our guys had a guitar, so we sang Good Riddance while waiting for the hotel shuttle.

Now we're back at the airport again. Luckily for me, that means an extra check in on Yelp and Foursquare. I'll be heading straight to my sister's place when I get in, and if all goes to plan we'll go directly to The Meatball Shop from there. Right, Sarah? Right??

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ow. And Wow.

As of today, I know how to fly.

Ok, I'm learning to fly. But the six of us who are here learning are catching on pretty quickly, I think! We all got into town yesterday and had a chance to hang out a little bit and get dinner together. Except for Gabe. I guess technically he got in today, 12:30am, because he had to fly from Florida back into Toronto, where he's from, so he could go through customs to then catch a connecting flight into Charleston. Insane.

After breakfast at the hotel this morning we all walked over to the theater where we're learning to fly. We got fitted into our harnesses and were told about how they work and how we aren't going to die (in so many words) and then we went up in the air! The first couple times were to make sure our weight was distributed properly and practice doing front and back somersaults. It was awesome. A bit uncomfortable - your whole weight is basically resting on your groin and pelvis - but really cool. Next we practiced the "Jesus spin", a part in the song when Ex. Girl and Tunny spin up and away from each other. It looks easy enough, you're just spinning yourself, but it's a lot harder than you'd think. For some reason almost everyone's center of balance didn't want to be where it should have been. That's definitely going to take some practice.

We had an hour for lunch and all went to a cafe around the corner that was pretty good. These Southern portions man, they're no joke. Light lunches are the way to go if you're going to be suspended in the air for 7 hours a day. When we got back we started learning the first sequence of the song. According to Krystina, who did the show for a while on Broadway, we've learned the hard stuff. Now it's a matter of perfecting them, learning the rest, and putting it all together.

Our shuttle and cab drivers will be happy to know that when we finished for the day, the six of us went to Jestine's for some soul food. There were about three places in town that were recommended to all of us so we figured we'd see if they measured up. All in all was some meatloaf, fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens, and fried okra, and I think we were all satisfied. We got back to the hotel and the girls watched a bit of Jurassic park while the boys kept up with their fantasy football, then we all watched funny videos of animals on youtube and called it a night. Tomorrow after rehearsal we are going as guests of the production company to see In The Heights! So exciting.

I feel like I still have the harness on.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Last Day Before The Adventure

You have no clue how many times I start writing an entry here and then get busy and it turns into nothing . I apologize. I know you're dying to hear how things are going in my world...

The truth is that things are good but exciting stuff just comes in little bursts. I really should write about them when they happen, because it's mainly emails with bits of information about the tour. I really could put all of my updates into one post - which I will attempt right now:

I've received several emails. Mainly flight itineraries and housing options. I also got an email yesterday about what clothes to wear for the FOY training. The cast list was announced a few days before Halloween and because of it I for a bunch more twitter followers and a couple more fans on my facebook professional page. I'm also friends with a few of my fellow cast members on facebook! As a matter of fact, I found out through one of them that we were responsible for finding our own housing for the rehearsal period in New York, so my dear friend Lauren whom I've mentioned here before has offered up her couch for me to stay on for three weeks.

I'm all packed already. I've actually been packed for a week now - my bff Katherine is subletting my room at my place and her lease was up at the end of October so for the first week of November she stayed with her boyfriend and this past week I've stayed with mine. It's worked out well because I've had a week to figure out what I don't need in my suitcase and I can just drive up the street and drop it off at my place. In total I have about 70 lbs. between my two suitcases. Given, one of the suitcases itself weighs 10 lbs. But that will be a lot to haul around when in New York.

Not sure if I've mentioned it yet, but my sister is moving to Los Angeles the very same week I'm getting to NY. I'll arrive on a Friday and go to her going away party, we'll stuff ourselves with meatballs and lobster rolls on Saturday, and then she's leaving on Sunday for a road trip to California. So there's that.

As for the present, it's my last day in California before the adventure begins. I'm still in bed and I can smell the brisket that's cooking next door - that's my big plans for today. Brisket for dinner. Nils' neighbor is a master at the grill and there's not much more I'd like to do today than spend time with people I like and eat some good food. It's been four long months that I've been waiting to get going on this and it's finally here! I'm mainly excited, a little nervous, but so ready. I'll be sure to blog more often - no really! I will! If you were aware of this blog when I was doing RENT in Alabama you'd know that I was blogging at least once or twice a week. If I'm not completely exhausted, you can expect that again.

So here we go!