If my creative-life bucket list existed, it would include (among other things) performing on stage again and learning more about musical theatre. Et voila 2016 is off to a running start with both of those at the top, which is remarkable considering I’ve really done nothing actively to make either happen.
My last experience with musical theatre, wherein I wasn’t an audience member, was in high school when I was the dresser for the title character in the school’s production of Gypsy. I primarily remember getting a feather boa in my eye, having the band hate me as I demanded they return Gypsy’s gloves and various clothing items from the strip tease number, and have had the slower version of Let Me Entertain You stuck in my head for almost 30 years – including exactly how many seconds are required for each costume change in that sequence. So I was surprised and flattered and nervous when Jerome Joseph Gentes (one of the co-producers for Sheherezade’s Last Tales) asked if I’d be interested in directing the concert reading of excerpts from a new musical he and collaborator/composer Rice Majors are writing, THE RIGHT NOTE. Imagine American Idol meets Twelfth Night and you’ve got the right idea.
As we are already a couple rehearsals in and the reading is on January 25th & January 30th, I feel a little bit like a sponge absorbing as much information as I possibly can. I’m relieved to realize that with some adjustment, the process from a directing standpoint for a reading of this kind is actually quite familiar and not intimidating. It helps that the material is good and engaging and fun, and the cast is lovely. Jerome and Rice are great to work with. Like with most of the readings I’ve directed I am only hampered by the desire to dig in and do it “for reals” and big – which just means I’m really into it. I hear the January 30th performance is already almost completely sold out. THE RIGHT NOTE will be one of four musical excerpts being showcased at PianoFight. For tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/musical-cafe-showcase-tickets-19958467313?aff=pfcal
I was pleasantly surprised – it appears to be the year of pleasant surprises – to get a phone call out of the blue from Stephen Drewes asking if I’d be interested in taking on a part in his March production of TALKING HEADS by Alan Bennett. It was an unsought for boon and one that I – without any shame in admitting – jumped at. I mean really, do bees make honey? Yes, I’d love to do it. Stephen has directed over 80 plays, taught theatre at Boston University, Middlebury College , and Colgate University, was the artistic director of the Publik in Cambridge, Resident Stage Director for the Pocket Opera, and not to mention he helped me survive – by giving me a safe haven and performing outlet – some of the darkest days of my life and taught me everything I know and love about subtlety, timing, and craft on stage. The part, Celia from The Hand of God monologue, is nothing like anything I’ve played before and completely delicious. I can’t wait to gobble her up and only hope I can do it justice.
In addition to the above there are three projects I have my eye on – one acting, one directing, and one (hopefully) writing – but can’t discuss just yet.
As I mentioned in the wrap-up for 2015 it was an incredibly busy year, and because the year had supposed to have been a quiet one of rest and contemplation, most of it was unplanned and a bit fly-by-the-seat. This turned out to be a good thing, if a little crazy-making at times. I’m entering 2016 energized, focused, and much more confident than at any other point in recent memory.