Friday, November 25, 2011

GetUp! Australia: A Moving Video to 'End Marriage Discrimination'

I don't think there is anything I could possibly say that would prepare you for the story you're about to embark. It's really something you need to see.

I can't stop crying, this will stay with me for a long time.  I just need to do my part to get as many people as possible to see this video.  You can share this video below on Facebook or Twitter.

BMT Youth Troupe: 'Steal Your Rock n' Roll' Piano Accompaniment

Alright, kids.  I'm talking to you.

Technology sucks, especially when you need it to work really badly.  Albeit, the piano accompaniment for your performance is finished and ready to go!  Many thanks to Josh Priess, music director extraordinaire, for the beautiful playing on such an epic song.

Find the lyrics after the video!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Know Thyself: Fear

I've always wanted to write characters and stories, and the writer's cliche of 'writing what you know' does hold true.  I think the reason why I don't write as often anymore is because I'm afraid of what I know.  I've had some interesting experiences in life - both pleasant and never-to-be-repeated - that culminate to who I am today and what I have to offer.  I've got loads of anecdotes and stories I can turn into monologues and characters with depth, but it's a personal fear that holds me back.  I'm comfortable with what's in my past.  I'm not too sure if I'm comfortable with sharing.

It goes without saying that time has a way of healing certain wounds.  You don't forget completely, but you don't consistently dwell on it.  These are events to be reflected on, culminating into the person you are today and will shape out to be.  I've rarely met a person without regret, and I know I have a few of my own.  My regrets shape out into situations in my mind like 20/20 hindsight, finally thinking of those right words that would fix everything, choosing the left fork in the road instead of the right, taking a chance instead of passing.

There's much more that holds me back instead of fear, these invisible shackles that hold me back inches from the keys to unlock me.  I can only wish some days I have the stones to dislocate my shoulder and give that push to reach.  Metaphorically, that could be as slight as just getting out of bed in the morning.  Days where your past comes to haunt you, fear and anxiety rising that you've failed before, and you're barely prepared, despite everything you've done to steady yourself and your self-esteem for a new challenge.  It's a tightrope walk without the net, it seems.  There's no way I'm going out there, I can't risk it.  I'll fall, I'll die, or I'll make it and I'll have to do it all over again.

It's a raging battle.  To appear confident in the face of a past that has shaped most into worst conditions at any point in time.  To keep a strong mind and body, diligently keeping discipline over your thoughts so they won't stray into darker territory.  Even more frustrating is the existence of these dark thoughts themselves, how they overwhelm and accuse you of not succumbing to the grief of past mistakes.  It's hard to ignore, like a mosquito in the room at night.

How to cope with all this?  I use the mosquito's buzz and turn it into a sonnet.  The only force that makes me stronger is creation.  It's where I feel the strongest, where I feel I can make a difference.  It's also where I feel I can tell my own story in a safe way; characters representing ideas, fears and hopes.

First, let's get rid of these vampires.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flashback: Brampton Music Society's 'Evita', Fall 1991

Company: Brampton Musical Society (currently Brampton Music Theatre)
Production: Evita, Fall 1991

This was my very first musical at the impressionable age of eleven - and what subject matter!  This community theatre production ran a full two weeks, if I remember correctly, at the Lester B. Pearson Theatre in Brampton - this was pre-Rose Theatre days, before the idea was even conceived at the time.  My father - in the General's Chorus, to the left of the nun - managed to get us auditions for the orphaned children's chorus that sing to Evita in thanks for her charity and goodness and all that good stuff orphans appreciate.  My brother, D'Arcy - he's inspecting his toes, front row left - was the smallest of the group, earning him the opportunity to present 'Santa Evita' with a bouquet of flowers.  I remember one performance him turning to the audience and waving, 'hello!'.  He was only six or so at the time, so it's forgivable, I guess.  Adds to the cute factor, no?

Evita Comes Back To Broadway!

Forgive me while I do a little Broadway geek-out for a moment.

Evita was my first exposure to performing musical theatre.  My father had a part in the Generals Chorus in a community theatre production when I was eleven, and had managed to score my brother and I auditions for the childrens chorus.  We were excited to learn we had received parts, not just because it was just a big cast and we met so many new friends, mainly because we'd be sharing the stage with our father.  Oh boy, were we little hams on stage.

I was so intrigued by the story of this woman at such a young age and remembered doing research on my own about Eva Perón, wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón and champion of the labour movement, women's rights and the salvation of the poor.  Her story is told in this lyrical opera written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, also known for his works on Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Cats.   (I don't care what you say, he's one of my favourites.  Mr. Webber is an acquired taste for some, but I doubt there's anyone who doesn't know at least a portion of the duet between Christine Daae and the Phantom on the river.  I didn't care for Cats, though.)

My awesome Broadway-bestie Jenna and I had a chance to see Evita play in the Princess of Wales in Toronto, but after being part of so many community theatre productions and knowing this music nearly inside and out, we felt a little weird being so judgmental about it. 

I think the only way to redeem myself is another trip to New York City to see this one.  Evita returns to Broadway in an incredible all-star cast featuring Ricky Martin as Che, Michael Cerveris as Juan Perón and Elena Roger in her Broadway debut as Eva Perón, a small-town girl who became one of Argentina's most celebrated icons for the people.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Congrats to BMT's 'Sound of Music'!

I'm so very proud of my boyfriend!  Nick has just finished wrapping up playing classical guitar and mandolin for Brampton Music Theatre's The Sound of Music on November 12, and he played magically.  Nick comes from a progressive rock background with his guitar playing, so tackling something like Rodgers and Hammerstein is no small feat.  He did so well!

I also had the chance to see a few of my BMT Youth Troupe students on stage as members of the chorus, consisting mainly of nuns, Nazis and Austrian nobility.  I had audibly gasped at the opening number of the nuns singing "Preludium" in beautiful harmonious a cappella.  I think, without obvious bias, the nuns had to be my favourite part of the show.

A heart-felt congrats, as well, to my dearest friend and music mentor Josh Priess for an incredible job as music director!  As mentioned before, Rodgers and Hammerstein ain't easy - but the man sure did make it look that way!

To all the cast, crew and musicians - congratulations on your vision of a family classic!  It was enjoyed immensely!

(Nick had snapped a couple of photos from backstage I thought I'd post, as well.  Enjoy!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inception: The App

So, I need to geek out about something.  So, everyone reading this with an iPhone or iTouch, get it now.  You'll thank me later.  This app is genius.

I'm a huge appreciator of Christopher Nolan's work, and the idea of Inception intrigued me: a sci-fi action heist film based on the concept of dreams-within-dreams and planting original ideas into someone else's subconscious.

In a world where 'shared dreaming' technology exists, Dom Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is an expert 'corporate extractor'; a man who can enter into your subconscious through your dreams and steal your secrets - for a price.  Wrongly accused of his wife's murder and separated from his children, his most recent target, a wealthy Japanese businessman, gives Cobb an opportunity to be reunited with them - for a price of his own: perform the act of 'inception' to convince the son of an ailing wealthy tycoon to break up his vast energy conglomerate at his inheritance.

It's not as easy as you think.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Arthur, Cobb's right-hand man, explaining the difficult concept to Ken Watanabe playing Mr. Saito, the Japanese business man proposing 'inception'.  He's got a great moment that clarifies the difficulty:

Betcha you'll be thinking about elephants for a while.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

BMT Youth Troupe Sings 'Seasons of Love'

I'm a lucky lady, y'know.  It's not every day you get to work with awesome kids who are dedicated to their work like this.

I've been teaching kids on Saturday mornings for Brampton Musical Theatre's Youth Troupe.  This particular group has the honour of singing 'Seasons of Love' from the popular rock opera Rent.  Since everybody and their monkey's uncle knows this song, I had put on the backing track to see what the kids could do, where they felt comfortable vocally, who would break out in dance and all that.  The kids are also working with Melissa, a dance teacher and choreographer, for some fancy footwork to go with the song.

We'll be performing in a couple of weeks, and the kids are sounding amazing.  Check it out for yourself in the video here, taken by Brittany, one of the students in this group.  (I'm in the green scarf and the black 'STAFF' shirt.) I'd like to point out this is all before I had officially taught them the harmonies - they all gravitated towards what they felt comfortable, which helped me out immensely.  Kudos to Madison and Leah for taking on the solos!

(To quote Hermione Granger, "Does my hair really look like that from the back?!")

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