Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Shall Scream

I learned today in rehearsal that I can scream. I'm a pretty good screamer. I've never had to scream, and I don't recall ever just screaming in real life. I watched a behind the scenes on one of the Indiana Jones movies, where the actress COULDN'T scream, but Stephen Spielberg didn't know that until AFTER he hired her and found out she was an AWFUL screamer. Couldn't scream worth a hoot. And it just so happened that this Indiana Jones movie required her to scream alot. So they had to have her mouth the screams, and then go in and dub over someone else's prerecorded scream into every screaming scene.

And ever since I saw that behind the scenes, I've wondered if I'd be any good at screaming. But I never considered any moment of my life appropriate to just try out a scream.

Well, that moment came today.

My character, Bet, finds Nancy dead at the end of the musical. (Sorry if I ruined it for any of you.) And the director and choreographer had this "brilliant" idea that I should scream when I see Nancy dead.

I got a little nervous about it. Went up to the choreographer while the director worked with the other actors and said, I have NO idea if I can scream. I've never really done it before. And he told me to just go ahead. Try it out. Right then and there.

So I mustered up the courage, opened my mouth, drew in a deep breath, and let it RIP.

Everyone in the whole room jumped or gasped and looked over at me, frozen in fear. It was dead quiet. The choreographer just nodded and said, yeah, you can scream.

I said, sure I can, but I don't think my character would do that.

So he said OK, and I don't have to scream.

I feel better now that I know I can scream. Not that there's anything wrong with NOT being able to scream. I mean, Stephen Spielberg ended up marrying the actress that couldn't scream, so he musta liked her anyways. Not that I want my director to marry me...Oh you know what I mean.

Number of times I wrote the word "scream" in this post: anyone?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wow. I am TIRED tonight. Rehearsals are getting longer and more intense. We've been rehearsing from 10 - 6 here in the city every day, but it goes to 12 hours out in Northport starting Friday. We open the day after Thanksgiving.

My head may even hit the pillow before midnight tonight. Gasp.

I have a hard time blogging during a show because my life becomes so...routine. I'm literally doing the same thing every single day. Same songs, same dance, same lines, same actions. I think actors crave the extreme repetition of a show, because usually, so much else in an actor's life is so inconsistent. Clarity in an imaginary life is consoling. I think that's also why there's an element of sadness when a show closes. That consoling sameness and the community that comes with it is yanked out from underneath you.

So if I'm boring you'll have to forgive me. I'll do my best to find something worth telling.

See I've even stopped titling my blogs. They just don't seem worthy of titles.

Ahhhh well. I'm off to bed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Did I tell you guys that I saw Julianne Moore at Starbucks the other day? She's real pretty.

I don't have much to talk about. I'm about to go to another voice lesson, but I don't really want to talk about that.

Rehearsals are great, but I don't really want to talk about that either.

I had a matzah ball soup that I liked today! There's something to talk about. It was at a real Jewish deli owned by real Jewish people instead of a silly Manhattan deli owned by silly non-Jewish people. Matzah ball soup tastes just like chicken noodle soup! Except for those two big mushy dumpling like things in the center that don't taste like much of anything. It was good. Not sure why people get crazy about it, but it was good. And cheap. Maybe that's why people love it so much.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nanny Diaries

A conversation with the 7-yr-old boy I babysit as we're watching the end of a New York Rangers hockey game on T.V:

7 YR OLD: I'm actually kind of glad Obama won.

ME: You are?

7 YR OLD: I mean, I'm SAD that McCain lost because I was for him. But I'm actually kind of glad Obama won.

ME: Really. Why's that?

7 YR OLD: Because he's our PRESIDENT!

ME: Well...not yet if you want to be precise.

7 YR OLD: People should really be glad for their president.

ME: Well that's true. Did you guys have a mock election in your class at school or something?

7 YR OLD: (confused) mock?

ME: Oh. I mean a pretend election at school?

7 YR OLD: No.

ME: Oh.

7 YR OLD: Anyways, it's not like the president can tell us what to do or anything. He can't force us to do things.

ME: Hmmm, it's true that we're a free society, and we make our own choices.

7 YR OLD: Right! We make our own choices!

ME: The president can tell our military what to do, though.

7 YR OLD: We're not at war right now.

ME: We are actually. In Iraq.

7 YR OLD: Oh. But not anywhere around here, right?

ME: Right.

7 YR OLD: I hate wars! Wars are stupid. Fighting each other with knives and stuff.

ME: Well, the United States only goes to war if it's to fight for what's help people. (???) it's always better to try to work it out, though. You're right.

7 YR OLD: Yeah! Work it out! Work it out with YOUR WORDS! Geesh.

ME: That's right. Work it out with your words...... Sometimes countries have a harder time working it out with words.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How Not To Think

After a grueling lesson with my voice teacher yesterday, and after a 24 hour period of THINKING how NOT to think, I THINK I've got what he means.

In my lessons, during a vocal exercise, he wants me to simply DO what he says, not process what he says and how it corresponds to my own preconceived understanding of the voice. When he asks me "how does that FEEL", he wants to hear a self-aware answer of how that FELT, not a processed THINKING answer about what I THINK my teacher wants to hear.

Two things: He wants me to be self-aware. He wants me to trust him.

Both are very hard for me.

I've been a "singer" all my life, since the 5th grade spring choir concert where I sang my solo, "Tomorrow", with a navy blue and white polka-dotted bow in my hair, while my friend's dad sat in the audience making funny faces and trying to make us all laugh.

I've studied voice since I was 14 years old. All through high school, studying voice was fun. I knew then that I wanted to sing the rest of my life. But in college, the first time I walked into my new voice teacher's studio surrounded by upperclassmen who were confident and comfortable, with classical voices that could burst my eardrums, I felt uneasy, out of place, scared, and insecure.

Maybe it was how all freshmen felt when entering the world of recitals and music hours and practice rooms, but for me, all through college, it never went away. I dreaded my voice lessons. I dreaded practicing. Don't get me wrong, I loved singing. But I loved singing on my own terms. I loved singing in my musical theater touring ensemble. I loved singing in my 4-person gospel group, through which I made a couple of records, my first professional gig, a living for a few years, and friends for life.

But the trained art to singing: I feared.

I felt inadequate. I later realized that it's the things we really love to do that we're most afraid of, because we're afraid of failing if we try.

I really loved to sing, and I was deathly afraid of failing at it. So, I compared myself to everyone around me and found sure ways of finding the negative about myself. I lost a bunch of weight. Too much. And it might have been around this time, or was it part of me my whole life?, that I began to mold myself on account of pleasing others.

In college, I lost myself. It wasn't until I married Seth that I rediscovered my worth in who I was. Seth's love for me reminded me of the love Christ had for me, for who I was at the core, not who I thought I needed to be to make someone else like me. It was and still is a process.

SO, when I walk into a voice lesson with a voice teacher who has successful students on Broadway and internationally renowned opera students, the fears of acceptance and self-worth rush back and there I am, trying to be what and who HE wants me to be instead of just being.

My voice teacher just wants me to be.

That was the lesson I learned in my voice lesson yesterday. That's what "not thinking" means to him. It's a hard lesson to learn, a lesson I haven't quite mastered, one that is a process. But it's a place that, if I can get there, will be a place where mistakes are OK, where perfection is boring, where my feelings are validated and useful, where I am vulnerable and able to trust, not just others, but myself. A place that allows me to be the best artist I can be.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day Off

It's my day off today. Rehearsals are going very well. We added in the children's cast this weekend. They are all EXTREMELY talented and well-behaved. I feel very good about this cast on all accounts. Not only are the actors talented, they are inventive, imaginative, and a joy to be with. But honestly, I find that so many actors are a joy to be with. I've not been a part of one single cast that bums me out. There's always the person that you'll never really get along with, but...that's just life.

I always find myself enjoying the rehearsal process before a show opens, sometimes more than the run of the show itself. It's such an exciting time: Finding your character, discovering relationships between characters, and playing with all sorts of ideas. Freedom within boundaries. Your script provides the boundaries, but the freedom lies between the lines, and in making the black and white on paper become color and movement and meaning. By opening night, hopefully, you've solidified enough to be consistent, and then the challenge becomes finding new moments within repetition. But rehearsal is safe. There's no press, no audience, no standard. A clean slate. Who doesn't love a clean slate?

I have a voice lesson today and honestly, I really don't want to go. Voice lessons. Blah. I'll be spending an hour ooohing and ahhhing and eeeehing up and down the octave. See this must be why so many singers run into trouble acting. (None of my fancied friends here, of course.) Too many rules to singing, too much to think about. My voice teacher keeps telling me not to think, but for the life of me I can't figure out how NOT to think. Any suggestions on how not to think?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nanny Diaries

I babysat tonight after my rehearsal.

FYI: OK, y'all know I'm not a full-time nanny. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that I'm not. But I DO babysit on a consistent basis for the same family, so I guess you could say I'm the Relief Nanny.

You know the four-letter-word? Not the sort of bad one but the REALLY bad one? The one that rhymes with what hockey players hit. SO, the 7-yr-old asks me at dinner tonight what it means. Some kid said it in school. OK now, I get saying "bagina" in 1st grade, but #*&%? 1st grade? Really?

Cuz when I was in first grade, on the second day of first grade to be precise, a kid told me to say the word "Ship," and I did. Then he told me to say it with a "Z" on the end, and I did (?). Then he told me to say it with a "T" on the end, and I did. And he raised his hand and told the teacher that I said a bad word. And I ran over to the teacher in her pretty yellow dress and swore I didn't mean to, over and over again, and she believed me. That kid was a jerk.

I don't remember when I learned what it meant.

But THIS four letter word? In 1st grade? Private boys school first grade. Yep.

I told him it was a naughty word and that we don't say it. What was I supposed to say? Seriously, do you TELL a first grader what that MEANS?

Seth swears I'm in training. I'm starting to believe him.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rehearsal: Day One

Election Day!

But on a less stressful note, guess who I'm singing duets with in Oliver?

Her name's Michelle, and she's Roxy in the musical, Chicago on Broadway. Or she was until she took time off to be in this show. Where I'm singing DUETS with her.

How cool is that?

OK, geek moment over.

Our first rehearsal was good today. I'm gettin','ing my Cockney accent on.

Our Oliver and Dodger are the cutest little guys you ever saw with really great voices and really great hair.

I met a guy named Neil, who is our Fagin, and when he introduced himself to me, I didn't know whether he'd been on B'way or not. Since he was Fagin, one of the LEADS, I figured: probably. But when I started to ask him, I thought twice about it because what if I asked, "So what Broadway show did you just finish?" and then what if he said, "Uh...never been on Broadway." I would feel awful for making him say that, so what happened kind of went like this.

Neil: Hello. You're our Bet?

Me: Yes! Hi, I'm Amber.

Neil: Hi. Neil.

Me: So...what...uh...(and here is where I thought twice)...brings..... Uh.

NEIL: What brings me here?

ME: Haha. Probably the same thing that brought me here.... Yeah.

He kind of laughed.

ME: So...wherrrre...arrrre you from, Neil?

NEIL: New York.

ME: Grew up here?

NEIL: Yep. Born and raised.

ME: Great! (And I'm thinking, Dangit. He's probably this big Broadway star and I should know who he is and I don't and I've insulted him. I should have just asked what Broadway show he did. Change the subject, dufus.) I really like your glasses.

Ugh. That was stupidly painful.

But yeah, he's done a few things here or there.

Anyways, rehearsal was fun.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vow to Blog Land

OK. I'm not gonna do this. I'm not gonna drop off the face of the earth when rehearsals start tomorrow.

Not not not gonna do it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Trip to Origins

Last weekend, Mom and I went to Origins to buy some make-up. I needed some new foundation and mascara. (LOVE their foundation and exfoliating creme, and certain other essentials) So I ask the lady about it, she pulls up my info on the computer, and goes to work finding product for me.

But on this certain day, she's not interested in only finding the product I want, she's interested in selling me MORE.

I've worked retail before. I know how to sell. I've also been putting on make-up for half of my life. I know what I want, and if I don't then I'll ask you, and THEN you can sell me something.

She tells me she thinks I should go a shade darker with my foundation. I say, hmmm...ok let's try it.

LADY: How do you apply your foundation?

ME: (I act like I don't care about applying foundation because I can tell she's smelled meat and is after the kill) (shrug) Oh I just use a make-up sponge. I don't even wear foundation every day. (which is true)

LADY: Well! You should really use a Q-tip to first dab it to your face and then a foundation brush to even it out. Your foundation will last you longer that way. The make-up sponge soaks up too much foundation.

ME: Oh yeah, well I use a brush for my heavier foundation for the stage, but I just don't wear this Origins foundation enough to really care....

LADY: Well! Our brush that I'm using here is nicely-

ME: I have a brush.

LADY: Oh! You have one! Oh ok.

So she applies the darker foundation, which I liked, and then moves onto the mascara.

LADY: Now. You use the "Fringe Benefits" mascara? Because I'll tell ya, I'll really like the "Stay All Day" mascara. The "Fringe Benefits" is really a very light texture and-

ME: Yes that's actually why I like the "Fringe Benefits." My eyelashes are on the longer side and they have a tendency to stick together or go crazy if the mascara's too heavy.

LADY: Oh! Well have you tried our "Underwear for Lashes?" It really works well with the "Fringe Benefits" mascara.

ME: Yeah, I have and it makes my eyelashes stick together.

LADY: Would you like to try it again?

ME: (Big sigh) Sure.

I apply one eye with the "Underwear for Lashes" and one eye without.

ME: I can't really see a difference.

LADY: Hm. well. hm. no. i guess not.


LADY: Now. Do you have break-outs?

ME: Uh. No not really. I mean sure a little. Every now and then.

LADY: Like at that time of the month?

ME: ......

LADY: What do you wash your face with?

ME: I use Proactive.

LADY: Hm. Because I'm thinking. You have nice skin. You may not need Proactive.

ME: Well maybe I have nice skin because I use Proactive.

LADY: .....

LADY: Oh. Because I was going to mention: We have a new line of organic skin care you might be interested in.

ME: Nope. NOOOOPE. No thanks! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOO!

I wish. That last line was the "me" screaming inside of me.

Leave me alone, Origins. Leave me be. I'm happy. I'm content.

I don't need you.

So....uh...anyone tried that new organic line at Origins?