40 YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP

It’s hard to believe we all met 40 years ago!!! 1979 at the University of Lowell, which is now University of Massachusetts at Lowell. I was a freshman and searching for “my tribe” and I knew where to find them.

I was an accounting major, although I wanted to be an acting major and my parents response to that request was “not on our dime”. Maybe in hindsight they did me a favor and as I write this from my 7th floor office in Times Square where I am a CPA as my survival job. But I am posting this blog entry on my actor’s website so……….

But that Spring of 1979 were the auditions for the theater department’s production of “Pippin” and I was determined to get cast. Armed with more enthusiasm than talent I wasn’t going to let a pitch problem stand in my way. Launching into an unsuccessful rendition of “Patchin’ the Roof” I was politely stopped and asked to sing “Happy Birthday” In the key of C please. Like I said I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way.

SO, I was cast as a Player and got to meet this crew who 40 years later have assembled themselves in Upstate New York at my and my husbands country house for the weekend. We’ve all been through losses, spouses, homes, jobs, kids, break-ups, weddings, funerals but through it all we’ve stayed in touch, somehow.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to still have these people in my life. Friends who know you, love you (sometimes unconditionally) and can and will put up with you. The inside jokes are endless, as are the fights when we play games. But we make up, laugh at ourselves and each other.

I can’t post a notice about the Upstate Weekend with the Theater Gang without thanking my husband Tom who continues to support me in life, living and laughing. Helped me put this weekend together and welcomed all these crazy, lovely people into our home.

FROZEN THEATER REVIEW……………….

OOOPS THEY DID IT AGAIN!! Or should I say, they’re at it again. It is painfully obvious, and I do mean painfully, that the magicians at Disney pulled out all the stops to literally recreate every trick, spin, flake and icicle that was in the animated film. If I wanted that I would go and see the movie. Hey Disney! take a page from Tina Landau’s directing manual and go see Sponge Bob – The Musical, they did not use one costumed character but still created the life and energy of Bikini Bottom on stage.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t sung well. That it was. Belting to the rafters, and beautifully. But why was Elsa wearing “rock star” ear pieces during her 2 mega hit numbers. Let It Go, which closes act one, and where the audience erupts in applause at the first 3 notes of the song, and then again during her new 11 o’clock number Monster. Could it be she needed constant stage direction as her entire queen costume is tethered to the rafters for the BIG REVEAL into her Victoria Secret Ice Queen prom gown. Or as my husband put it “she has pitch problems” Either way the ear pieces were a HUGE distraction to me. Elsa the pit is right at your feet.
One adaptation that did work were the trolls from the film were now wilding creatures half human half beast, like sexy singing centaurs. And sit in the first few rows because the King of the centaurs was this bare chested beefcake with abs for days (if you like that sort of thing)
Olaf was straight out of the the Lion King with an actor singing and voicing the puppet he controlled via multiple wires and strings attached to his waist and feet. But here’s the thing the actor that brought Olaf to life was SO much more interesting that I never really focused on the puppet. And don’t get me started on the 21st century reindeer that would blink and twitch his ears all controlled by a man inside a reindeer costume painfully contorted on stilts and extensions. I would have rather had Caroline from Gypsy. Moo-moo-moo-moo.
If you do go, be prepared to share the aisles with the multitude of 6 year old girls in their own personal Elsa princess dresses complete with diaphanous sequenced capes. And don’t get me started on the merchandise for sale in the lobby.
Shouldn’t a musical have a book? There wasn’t one. They simply repeated the lyrics from the songs without accompaniment. It’s cold, I get it.
This is not the next Wicked but I think it will run so that every little girl who knows ALL the songs will get their fill.
Oh and thank you Disney for putting that song back in my head, I thought I finally got it out back in 2013. And the next time Broadway comes calling to have you stage another one of your blockbuster animated films, just let it go.

“COMMANDER” – HRC SHOWCASE THEATER

COMMANDER CAST

 

HRC Showcase Theater has been doing staged reading of new plays for the past 25 years and I have been lucky to be a part of their season for close to 15 of those 25 years! Their season consists of 5 new plays ending with the play that is awarded the W. Keith Hedrick award. Check out their season and past seasons on their website: HRC Season

Under the direction of Artistic Director Barbara Waldinger, they assemble a group of first rate actors for each reading. And what is unique about their process is that most, if not all, of these actors have never worked together before. We all head up to Hudson for the weekend and spend all day Saturday reading, blocking, stumbling and discussing our way through the play and then we’re up on our feet for the evening’s performance. Every reading I’ve done with HRC has been extremely well attended, a bit of a pleasant surprise my first go round. But what is even more astounding is that after the reading there is a lovely reception with the author, actors and director and then a talk back with the audience. And these HRC audiences LISTEN!!! They ask extremely well thought out questions and share how the play made them feel.

“Commander” by Mario Correa explores the idea “Is America ready for its first gay president” NOT a very unlikely question in this political season where we have candidates ranging from the extremely qualified, Hillary, to a billionaire buffoon, Trump! I was cast as the homophobic, foul mouthed campaign manger, Frank Desantis, pulling out all the stops to get his candidate on the ticket. I didn’t count them but I must have had hundreds of F-Bombs and enjoyed every one of them!

What is really at the heart of HRC Showcase Theater is that they are bringing these new works to a willing and wanting audience, in addition to serving the playwright allowing him (her) to hear their play and discover additional nuances in the process. As an actor it gives me the opportunity to stretch my wings, play and work all at the same time.

BRAVO! HRC Showcase Theater, here’s to another 25 years!!