One Big Union

one big union.jpg

So excited to see this show today! Joe Hill was a labor activist and musician who was executed 100 years ago for a murder he may or may not have committed. This Plan-B Theatre original play contains Hill’s own songs, recently released to the public domain, and also highlights his work with Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who visited him in jail here in Salt Lake, and went on to co-found the ACLU.

rebel-girl

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was the inspiration for this 1915 battle hymn.

Plan-B is the only theater in the United States that produces entire seasons of original works by local playwrights, with emphasis on socially conscious themes and issues. It’s owned by one of my dearest friends and his husband. http://planbtheatre.org/

It’s a relevant stage experience, following a week that has seen boys at a local football game chanting, “Grab her by the p*ssy!” and a white van trolling Rose Park, a Salt Lake City neighborhood rich with immigrants, screaming, “Trump is President! Build the wall!”

Don’t mourn… ORGANIZE!
joe-hill

*****

It was amazing! Very emotional at times, as they were describing precisely what we’ve been living with this week and for the last 18 months.

I have to go to more shows at Plan-B! I’m so cheap. I always say, “Next time,” and next time never comes. If nothing else, I should be supporting my friends. The real reason, of course, is that theater transforms us! It makes us think, laugh. It gives us a break from everyday and all that that entails, but it can also light the fire of our own creativity. Above all, theater connects us. This was wonderful.organize

9 to 5, The Musical

Remember last year when I wanted to play a dancing secretary, then got cast in a completely non-dancing supporting lead? Well, now I’m a dancing secretary! I just accepted a position in “9 – 5, The Musical.” I’m in the ensemble, which sings every number but 4, and I get to dance to that glorious 80s anthem! What could be more fun and funky? I may not work 9 – 5, but I’ll be in a musical about it!

It was a real honor, because I didn’t even audition. Maurie, who directed me last year in How To Succeed, called and invited me personally. It’s such a compliment to have your work ethic recognized. I feel like I earned it, and that’s not something I could have said in my twenties. I worked hard, but was unable to enjoy it and made myself (and others) miserable. Falling short in my performance made me endlessly unsatisfied. Not anymore! Don’t think for a moment that there aren’t things I wish I’d done with Hedy LaRue – I’m still thinking about her a year later – but I’m happy with my performance. I like the Hedy that I created. I’m proud of myself, and I’m so excited!

Already, I’m thinking of external things I want to do to distinguish my ensemble character from my small speaking role. For one thing, I need a wig. The only redhead in the show won’t blend. And I’m changing bras, haha! For regular stage life I have an industrial, padded costume bra, looks great from stage and I don’t appear… inverted, if not the promised C on the tag. I’m wearing a regular, padding-free brassiere to play Hart’s wife (Dabney Coleman, you know, the worm). What better way to juxtapose his lust for Doralee? (Our Dolly Parton character is equally busty, bam! and gorgeous.) From there, I immediately saw Missy as this fussy mother-type he goes home to every night, while Doralee is the bombshell he spends his days and dreams with. I’m going to spit-clean his face in our scene together!

I love the creative process! Give me any part, and I immediately begin sculpting her, feeling her, envisioning her, becoming her. I haven’t even seen the script! I love theatre. There’s something about the stage that’s different from all of my other creative pursuits.

I’m so excited for this show! It wasn’t on my radar at all, and it feels like a gift.

______

Here’s how Missy and Frank ended up:mr and mrs franklin hart jr
In the program, I was described as “the bubble-headed wife of Franklin Hart, Jr.” I’m starting to notice a trend. Do I think I’m smart, but everyone else sees a ding dong?

War Horse

war horseAn acquaintance is in the National Touring Company of War Horse and got me a ticket the week they were in Salt Lake. Last week, my birthday. It was a great present. I still can hardly speak about the impact this production had on me. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. Just amazing! It’s truly unbelievable what they accomplished on that stage. I’m still thinking about what I saw and felt.

Since I am yet monosyllabic about the fact that puppets were breathing, I will talk about a life-altering moment I had regarding munitions. In one scene, the English cavalry gallops into enemy lines and is mowed down by machine gun fire. In WWI this was new technology! I’d never thought of that. It never once occurred to me what it meant the day the military advanced that way and, worse, the day it was introduced in battle. Horses and men with swords charged a fortified wall of automatic weaponry! There was a moment that I was completely transported from the present day. “Oh my god, the world just changed.” Right before my eyes.

Not Bad

Not bad at all!

Marko and I pulled into Millcreek Bar and Grill, and I freaked out. “Why is it packed on a Thursday night?!”

It’s strange how the nerves never lessen.

Thankfully, by the time I sang I’d had two beers and the main dinner crowd had gone home. The remainder was a room full of mainly gratis musicians and their friends, and they beamed at me. What a wonderful place to push through fear. This is the best audition practice I could have hoped for! (March 22nd, “Children of Eden”… Wish me luck!)

Speaking of musical theatre, a friend from “How to Succeed” came to see me! I had posted on Facebook, of course, mostly just to congratulate myself on being brave and awesome, and Keith, who played Biggley in the other cast, showed up! Biggley was my “romantic” (wealthy) lead. (Hedy was a gold-digger with a heart of gold. 🙂 ) Keith and I performed together twice, my opening night and his closing. I was touched beyond words. I didn’t expect (or really even want) anyone to show up (yet), and I certainly wouldn’t have expected someone I only met in a show months and months ago. How kind!

It was a great night. I was calm up there! I remember thinking at one point, “Wow, my arms aren’t giving me any fits at all.” Haha! I seemed self-assured and very comfortable. My voice quivered a time or two and I hit one sour note, but it was a quick one and disappeared nicely behind the ending crescendo, which we nailed before bursting out laughing to great applause.

I have walked into something rare, indeed.

See you next week!

Careful What You Wish For

I literally prayed, “You can lay me down for a week after we close, but don’t let me get sick during the run.” I woke up Sunday morning practically immobilized. I felt like I was getting sick several times, and I told my angels again, “Not ’til the show closes!” I was amazed that I didn’t get sick. (I get everything that comes around. I’m sick in bed for days at least twice a year.) We had a girl with walking pneumonia in the cast, two girls with bronchitis that led to sinus infection, and the old woman at my work had laryngitis. I never got sick! ‘Til I said I would.

I don’t care. I closed that baby, and it was awesome!

Image

“Her name is LaRue… Hedy LaRue.”favorite dress

That’s A Wrap!

I’m ready for the show to close. It was at its best, in my opinion, about a week and a half ago. Some of our liberties and characterizations have begun to affect the timing of the show and our chemistry was officially off last night. That being said, let me again sing the praises of my experience at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre and publicly express gratitude for my amazing reintroduction to theatre. It was everything I wanted from coming back.

I love this company! It is without question the nicest facility I’ve ever performed in. For heaven’s sake, we have a Green Room! I’ve never been in a show with a full crew of techs running around managing our choas linked to each other by headset. They applaud us and cheer every night as we exit! My director, Maurie, took a chance on a girl who didn’t fit the bill (body) of Hedy LaRue, but had “something so immediate and likeable [she] knew she had to have [me].” That is humbling, indeed, and she was wonderful to work with. It was always a fun, uplifting, inspiring experience to rehearse with her. I guess I still have the dissatisfied perfectionist in me because she reminded me several times to trust myself. “You have great instincts onstage,” she said more than once. (I was unaware that I continue to be so hard on myself, because I truly enjoyed the experience of developing this character and “growing” a show, and was never short with my co-workers or sick with my own incompetence.) Above all, my cast has been such a joyful, beautiful bunch o’ good folk. I was blessed to spend a summer with them. It was a different experience than those I’ve had before. I’ve only done summer stock, where we live, eat, breathe (kill, puke, suffocate) each other. I didn’t expect to become so emotionally invested in people I simply spent time with for a few hours after work each night. I came to love them.

Our family started to really gel after the show went into production. The ladies dressing room was a place of laughter, support, a little wickedness, and a lot of love. We saw each other through some amazing things: a brand new best-friendship between our 2 darling high school girls, 2 new love affairs (including mine), freaking out in relationships (only mine), the loss of a grandchild, and an adoption approval! When our sweet friend lost her grandbaby, another woman in the cast came in on Monday and hugged her after a weekend apart, as we all did, but when she said, “Please tell your daughter she’s been in my prayers,” I actually felt her praying and began to cry. It’s common in this community to hear people say to one another, “I’m praying for you.” I think all expressions of concern and prayerfulness are unifying, healing, and holy, but never have I “seen” someone kneeling in her home pleading with the Lord to comfort this young mother and all of her family.

The men took longer to bond with but, then, we didn’t get naked together every other night. Of course, the usual backstage pranks and hijinks did their work and cemented the whole lot of us into one. And now I’m ready to be rid of them. 🙂

How I have loved this experience. A true blessing.

Three things have changed since I last performed 2 decades ago: Stage make-up looks a LOT better on twenty year-old skin! Back then, we sat in the dressing room and chatted with each other, not with absentees via text. And social media didn’t exist to draw the crowds. In a month, there have been only two shows in which I knew no one in the audience. I feel so supported and humbled, and so very grateful.

Oh, and one more thing: My mom came. mom and meAnd my sissy, but there’s nothing new about that. Meet the only person who’s come to every show I’ve done. That’s just the kind of girl she is, to everyone. mel and me

I only got one sister. The best one.

Red Hedy

Since our show is divided into 2 casts (I perform Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday), my crew has taken to calling me Red Hedy. The originator rather sheepishly asked during Hell Week if that was okay with me. I couldn’t be more delighted! I learned that she’d named me before we even knew which cast was which, when she expressed to friends, “I hope we get Red Hedy!” That’s a huge compliment and a great laugh! Only a ginger can call another ginger ginger! 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVN_0qvuhhw

And here I am. And here he is. I have a huge chin and cheesy-ass grin, but every girl deserves to have a boy look at her like that. dave n me