Monday, May 14, 2012

Jack Sullivan, 1939-2012

This is a post long in the making, I feel rather ashamed for not posting this sooner.  I'm hoping you'll understand why.

I remember that rehearsal quite vividly, not just for obvious reasons.  The Hot Box Girls were out at a local lingerie shop choosing our 'Take Back Your Mink' costumes and running into scheduled rehearsal time.  We were concerned we were late, but more concerned about the costume at the immediate moment.  I was in a foul mood and tried not to show it; having an arranged time to meet, I had skipped dinner to make sure I was on time, only to have the rest of the girls an hour late.  I tried not to let tension seep out of me, I enjoy spending time with my castmates, especially these girls.  This is my escape from the week, my second family.  Three nights a week for a few hours at a time, you get to know people quite quickly in an atmosphere of trust.

The more time we took, the more anxious I was getting.  I had noticed a couple of the other girls were sitting in a different frequency of tension, so I pushed my own down for the sake of not adding fuel to a fire I didn't build.  I bit my tongue as we headed for rehearsal, looking forward in losing myself in tonight's work.

Which would be futile, to say the least.

We were greeted by our producer in the rehearsal hall's green room to inform us that one of our cast members, Jack Sullivan, had passed away that afternoon, in his sleep, from a heart attack.  Our Arvide Abernathy, our sweet grandfather, the man with the smile for everyone, one of the warmest and most welcoming souls I'd ever had the pleasure to meet, had left us.

It put so much more into perspective.

I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I try not to, but it seeps out of me before I can contain it.  I tend to associate myself with a similar breed, and theatre folk tend to tune into that same frequency at times.  I had only met Jack during Guys & Dolls and had heard nothing but wonderful things about him and his performance ethic, his friendliness, his open sense of trust.  With all the tension pushed down from before, and the sudden impact of mortality, it was just all too much to take.  I had no idea of whatever strain was put upon him, he never seemed to show.  His energy seemed to be boundless, especially for a man in his wiser years.  I understood this to be his third or fourth show in a row; Annie, Ann of Green Gables, Joseph, Wizard of Oz ... it's difficult to pull a man away from doing what he loves, and he certainly seemed to love what he was doing with us.  We loved him.  We adored him, he was the perfect 'grandfather Arvide', and embodied that protective patriarch rather perfectly.  He was that for all of us.  I didn't know how I was going to go through with this.

Our producer had said we would still be going through with rehearsal, and obviously understandable to emotional states, it would be a subdued evening.  The announcement was made to the cast and crew in attendance at the start of rehearsal, so everyone was in a state of grieving in their own way.  Jack would have come tonight for rehearsal, so we would still have one.

I had completely lost my appetite at that point, not rather caring about my own needs but more of the collective comfort.  Although a good cry in the bathroom alone got most of it out, I'm not too sure if I could have held up the rest of the night if it wasn't for a particular cast member who reached his arms out to me as soon as he saw me when I quietly snuck into wardrobe.  I didn't hesitate, I knew I'd be safe there.  He had been a bit of an emotional crutch for me that night; I'm not too sure if he understands how much I appreciated him, how much I still do.  If anything that Jack's sense of precious time taught me, is to let those people know how much they're loved and appreciated.

We all banded together that night, and the energy shifted.  We all felt vulnerable; raw and tender in grief that held its mist over our heads.  We tried not to let it cloud our eyes that night.  We knew going through with rehearsal was the best thing we could do for Jack's legacy.  We knew it was best, most of all, that being together - this family that Jack helped build - was the best thing we could do for each other.

The show has since drawn its final curtain, with our director stepping into Jack's role.  It was the right decision, we agreed in some unspoken way, to keep the role 'in the family'.  Our music director had also said at one point she didn't have it in her heart to teach the song to someone else after Jack.  Jack's wife, Carolyn, and a substantial number of his family were in attendance at our final show.  We had received such overwhelming support from the Sullivan family in regards to this show, we were and continue to be so grateful.  I only wish there was such a way I could personally express the loss I feel in not getting to know Jack better. 

Out of this, I keep precious the things around me.  I take the time to remember the genuine people around me, the new lights in life that keep me warm and safe, to take the time to acknowledge their kindness and let them know how much their loved.  Jack did the same for all of us in his own way.  We, the cast and crew of Guys & Dolls, try to continue that spirit, even after the show has drawn its curtain and the last note is sung.  We remember the precious time we have and to not take it for granted, but to also not waste it and fill it with as much life as possible.

I had the opportunity to design and create the show programme, which included a page dedicated to Jack's memory.  I had included a quote from Alexander Pope's "Essays on Man": "Act well your part; there all the honour lies."  It was something that struck me as reflective of Jack's character, that he put so much dedication to his work, and his legacy will always remain with us his dedication and love for the magic we created on stage and the respect he showed for all those who met him.

I was lucky to have an audio recording of Jack in rehearsal singing "More I Cannot Wish You" from a late January rehearsal.  I've created a tribute video featuring this recording, with the help of Jack's cast mates from previous shows.  Hopefully a fitting tribute to Jack, something we can continue to remember.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Synergy Theatre Arts: ANNIE Class Photo!

Here's they are - my little orphans!  Here's the Wednesday class for their 'cast photo' taken today.  I'm so proud of these guys, I had to show them off.  :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dress Rehearsal Photos from BMT's "Guys & Dolls"!

The dress rehearsal photos are up!  Photographer extraordinaire Paul Roy was kind enough to donate some time to us - and add work to his most excellent portfolio - by snapping our dress rehearsal performance.  Oh my goodness, if I weren't in this show, I would want to see it based on this work!  Our opening night is tonight, so feast your eyes on the excitement that you're bound to witness with BMT's Guys and Dolls at the Rose Theatre in Brampton!

What great photos - and what an exciting show!  After you check out Paul's website here, go over to the Rose Theatre website to get your tickets - remember, opening night is TONIGHT!

Costumes: BMT's "Guys & Dolls"

I love dress rehearsals.  It's a blink away from opening night, and it's a chance to see where all this work for the past few months has taken us to.  It also give us ensemble a chance to run through the marathon of costume changes we'll be going through.  Here are a few snaps of my costumes for the production!

Please meet Sherry "Two Fingers" Temple, Runyonland's Bag Lady!  Joe and I had created this character from scratch (she's not in the original script) and managed to make her a supporting player of sorts.  We had determined that she would have had a good life in her early years, but had made the wrong decisions that lead her to her drinking-and-street-wandering ways.  Her costume would be layers of out-of-date mismatched fashions that don't fit her quite right, complete with oversized purse that carries her favourite item - a mickey of vodka!  (Really, it's water!)  The hat and scarf are meant to hide the 'Hot Box' hair for my other character, and it really made the costume.  I had found it in the wardrobe room, it had this terrible mustard yellow and brown pattern to it.  I held it in place with a kerchief knotted under my chin and a few bobby pins.  Flattering, no?  I wear this costume most of the show and I do a lot of physical acting, so there may be a few tweaks to the mobility of the costume, so to speak.  I'll probably add some sort of pin to the front of the sweater to keep it closed and from dropping down my arms.  The dress is big for me, but it hangs just right to give me a shrunken posture.  I'll most likely belt the dress to hike up the hem so that I don't trip when I have to run across the stage to warn the crapshooters about the cops. :)  It's a lot to put on at once, so thankfully I could get away with wearing other costumes underneath if need be.

And here's my other character, Margie Jones, dancer at the Hot Box Club with Miss Adelaide!  I had named her after my grandmother, Marguerite, when I found a picture of her in the fourties looking rather stylish.  This stylish costume is from Georgetown's Globe Theatre wardrobe department, the polka dot shirt is my own, and the pearl necklace makes another appearance in another dance number, 'Take Back Your Mink'.  The hair is curled down the back with rolled bangs pinned to the side.  I may add a brooch to the jacket - I have the perfect one my grandmother gave me!  I also have a small cream-coloured clutch purse that I use as a personal prop - I pay for a magazine at the newsstand at some point.  I wear this costume all of three times just to walk straight across the stage and exit again.  Thankfully, this one is a quick one to change in and out of.

Here's comes Margie, ready to dance!  This costume is for the first Hot Box Club number, 'Bushel and a Peck.'  The script calls for 'Miss Adelaide and her Farmerettes', but we had come up with this costume concept thanks to the dance parents who had graciously let us borrow these beautiful shorts with black and green crinoline fanning across the ... fanny, I guess!  We wore black bodysuits underneath and fishnet stockings, and included the yellow feather boa detail (thanks to Roxanne for sewing them on!) on the crinoline and the front of the bodysuit.  We were constantly molting whenever we rehearsed the number, but still plenty of tailfeathers left to shake!  Our other costume for 'Take Back Your Mink' is a quick change, so I didn't get a chance to snap a picture.  Mind you, that one is a little risque ... you'll see what I mean later.

Bienvenidos a Cuba!  This costume is for the Havana scene, when Sky whisks Sarah away on an exotic dinner date and become enamoured with the colourful sights and sounds of this Latin paradise.  Joe had wanted bright, bold colours in this particular scene, where the ensemble are the Havana locals welcoming these two particular tourists in their own special way.  The skirt was provided by wardrobe - my fellow castmate Joanna is wearing the same skirt - and the green top and pink scarf are my own.  They're a great match for the skirt!  I had the pink scarf in my hand, tossing it around in the air during the number, but I had decided to tie it in my hair instead for a different look.  The skirt was long enough to hold up slightly, like in the picture above and flail it about while I was dancing, which made for good visuals.  Joe had also said not to be shy about the jewelry, just make big, shiny and colourful!  I had gone for a slight touch of silver; a multi-layered thin chain necklace, a stack of silver bangles and a pair of large silver earrings I still need to repair.  The scene concludes with a bar fight between Sky, Sarah, a young temptress and her dancer partner as they compete for each other's affections.  Thank goodness it's a roomy skirt with lots of room to run in - I just need to make sure I hold it up from my heels!  Even though she's only out for one scene, I named her Mariposa because Joanne was wearing almost the exact same costume as me and was always blocked on the opposite side of the stage during the scene.

There is one more costume that is a little risque and also a quick change of sorts from the number 'Take Back Your Mink', I didn't have much time to snap a picture of it.  I've been told there was a photographer in the house during our dress rehearsal taking pictures, so I hope to see those soon and post a few for you!

There you have it!  Costume changes have been interesting; some were much quicker than anticipated, I was late for two of them.  Figuring out what side of the stage your costume needs to be on to make a quick change for your next entrance as an entirely different character needs a little 'test run' first, the whole purpose of dress rehearsals.  When finally performing with all the elements in play - the set, the costumes, the props, the band, everything - the focus is a little more intense because it's finally become a real production.  The costumes especially were a big help to me.  I had primarily used an 'Outside-In' Method when it came to developing these characters - different strides in the walk, facial expression, posture and just about anything else physical that came across my brain.  The costumes really helped solidify the physical traits of my characters, of course the costumes were also considered based on the physical traits I had developed through rehearsals.  (I'll be breaking down the characters in a different post based on this method.)  Once they were on, the fit, the look and the feel helped put the character in place.  I shuffled with short, quick steps as the Bag Lady because of the many layers and long, oversized dress I was wearing.  (It also didn't help the fact that she was 'drunk' most of the time!)  Margie lifted her heels and knees a bit higher and held her shoulders back when she walked, more of a dancer's strut in a way since she's a Hot Box Girl.  Mariposa has a wide stride, almost a cross between a dancer's leap and a sprint when she's excited, although her colourful attire says she requires consistent attention.  Each costume had its way of cementing the character, reminding the actor's awareness of movements and traits that were built during the rehearsal process.

So my question to you would be - what's your favourite costume you've worn on Halloween, cosplay, theatre production, just about any reason you've had to wear a costume?  Did you find yourself creating a character with that costume - walking and talking slightly differently, creating mannerisms you wouldn't normally do?  That, my friends, is the 'Outside-In' Method!  Share in the comments below!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

BMT's 'Guys & Dolls' on Rogers Daytime!

We're on television!

Cecily Restivo-Petroff (Miss Adelaide) and Noel Fernandes (Benny Southstreet) were interviewed on Rogers Daytime about our show!  You can check it out by clicking here and you'll find them about five minutes into the show itself.  You might even catch a photo of the Hot Box Girls in rehearsal!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stuff from Pinterest: Hot Box Looks for "Guys & Dolls!"

Here are the choice looks I had found on Pinterest that I'll be printing out for my 'Hot Box Look Book' - even complete with tutorials on the perfect cats eye and vintage curls from Lauren Conrad!

I think I might try that hairstyle after the show ... if I don't cut my hair. :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stage Makeup: The Pin-Up Look for BMT's "Guys & Dolls"

BMT's "Guys and Dolls" - Cosmetics for the Pin-Up Look!
Time to experiment with my look for Guys and Dolls!

Since the musical doesn't necessarily have a definitive time stamp on the setting, it's been pretty flexible with the period look and fashions, so as long as everyone has a unified look.  With our production loosely set in the 1940s era, Mandy Meisner, our makeup and hair consultant for the production, has done some fantastic research for us in regards to getting the right look for the period - glamour, sophistication and some slick fashion!  Lucky for me, I get to dress up as a 'pin up' for my role as a Hot Box Girl!

Makeup for women in the 1940s was subtle, but glamourous.  The skin had a matte cream finish for a 'flawless' complexion, with plump lashes and lips and just a touch of rouge on the cheekbones.  Nails were manicured and painted red, hair was curled into 'victory rolls', the popular style of the time.  Seems like a lot of maintenance for women then.  I don't do half of that now!

Mandy was so kind enough to give us photo references of popular styles; the one above is the photo I'll be using for myself.  I had even found a great website that has a step-by-step process on the victory roll hairstyle.  Let's see how easy this is!

It's important to experiment with the makeup look before you get into the dressing room.  Find pictures from the internet or video tutorials like the one above to help pull off the look successfully.  A great source is Pinterest - it's also an addiction, so be careful.  I've found some pretty cool stuff that has helped me immensely, all organized onto one tidy pinboard for easy access.  It's also important to remember that stage makeup is applied with a much heavier hand than your day-to-day makeup.  Since your features will be drowned out by bright stage lights, it's important to draw them out as much as you can with contouring and shading certain angles and features.  So, although blush was an 'afterthought' when it came to everyday makeup wear in the '40s, it still needs to be applied in a fashion that still gives definition to your face to make it not look like a round, flat plate with a mouth.

If you're not certain of your routine beforehand, you may end up taking much more time than necessary when you get to the theatre.  My major issues were the cats eye makeup and false eyelashes.  Anything around my eyes I get fidgety about and sometimes my hands aren't the most steady.  I've been practicing when I can with the eyeliner and getting used to the lashes and glue, but if you've got someone backstage that you're comfortable with to put them on for you, I'd advise for that.  Much steadier hands than your own, most likely.  I'm told there will be ladies backstage to help with hair and makeup, thank goodness.  I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my hair.

In the meantime, I'm going to go play with my makeup!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Synergy Theatre Arts: ANNIE Script for Class Recital

The recital for Synergy Performing Arts Academy is fast approaching (May 5!), and I think I might be more nervous than the kids.  This entire experience has been jarring, rewarding, stressful and full of valuable lessons about my own creative process.  The most rewarding part for me is seeing the kids really enjoy themselves and trusting the process together.  Although I've had to go through rewrites, dropped students and changes in lineups, I've managed to come up with a couple of scenes for the kids to lead up to the songs.

Without futher ado, here's the script for the kids for ANNIE!  The orphans are named after the kids in the class to keep the script simple.  This skit was actually a compilation of excellent audition monologues I had found and had arranged them into a scene that would lead into their performance of the number "Hard Knock Life."  Enjoy!

The orphans are all asleep in makeshift beds around the stage.  A few make soft, muffled sounds in their sleep while shifting positions.  DRYDEN and her sidekick, TIFFANY, snore in unison rather loudly from their sleeping positions.  Suddenly, MYA starts to stir from a nightmare and starts to talk in her sleep.
MYA (in her sleep):
Mama!  Mama!  Mommy!  Wait, Mommy!  Mama!

MYA continues to toss and turn in bed, waking KHANDACE, KEYANNA and SOMER from their beds, noticing MYA’s dreaming condition and begin to worry.  KHANDACE rushes over to MYA’s bedside.

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!  Molly’s talking in her sleep.  Her eyes are still closed.  She don’t know how loud or soft her voice is when she’s asleep.

At least she’s not snoring, like those two.  (She gestures with annoyance over to DRYDEN and TIFFANY, still asleep and snoring.)

MYA awakes with a start and a yell, which startles the other girls awake.  They all stretch from their slumber and look around to see where the noise came from, finally focusing on MYA.

Oh, no!  I was dreamin’ ‘bout my Mama.  We were on the merry-go-round and she was smiling and holding my hand, and then she was gone!  I couldn’t stop the merry-go-round and I couldn’t find her no more.

Shut up, MYA!  Can’t anyone get some sleep around here?

Yeah, can’t anyone sleep?

THE ORPHANS try to shush DRYDEN and TIFFANY silently.

Pipe down, or Ms. Hannigan will hear you!

What?  You’re telling me to pipe down?  You’re beggin’ for a black eye, pal!

Yeah, you’re beggin’ for it!

DRYDEN and TIFFANY both ‘put their dukes up’, ready to take on the crowd.  AALIYAH jumps in the middle of everyone to try to break the tension.

Pipe down, all of you!  Do you want Hannigan to hear you?  (She goes to MYA.)  Shhhh, MYA, it’s alright, we’re here for you.  (She pulls a hankercheif out and holds it in front of MYA’s face.)  Here, blow.  (MYA blows her nose rather noisily.  THE ORPHANS react in disgust and worry it was too loud.)  It was only a dream, you know, but it’s after 3am and we’ve all gotta get back to sleep.

ANNIE, why don’t you read us your note again?  It always makes us feel better.  Then we’ll all promise to go back to sleep, yes?

THE ORPHANS all nod in agreement.  DRYDEN and TIFFANY snicker.

Alright then, if you’d like … (She pulls out a folded piece of paper from her makeshift mattress and sits beside Molly.  THE ORPHANS gather round and make themselves comfortable, with DRYDEN and TIFFANY hanging back and making fun of the rest of them.  TAYLOR clears her throat and begins to read.)  “Please take care of our little darling.  We’ve named her Annie.  She was born on October 28 …”

DRYDEN and TIFFANY let out a loud, mocking laugh.  THE ORPHANS turn to look at them with daggers in their eyes.

So, you’re laughing, are you?  You wanna sleep with your teeth inside your mouth or not?

DRYDEN, TIFFANY and MARTYNA start what becomes an all-out pillowfight brawl all around the stage, until they hear the shrill voice of MS. HANNIGAN.

What is all this!!?!?!???!!!!

THE ORPHANS run into their ‘soldier lines’ and stand at attention at MS. HANNIGAN’S entrance.  She is in a loud and colourful dress with terrible makeup and curlers in her hair.  MARTYNA and DRYDEN are still picking on each other when MS. HANNIGAN isn’t looking while she marches up and down, scowling at THE ORPHANS, who don’t move an inch and follow her with their eyes.

You want to be up in the middle of the night?  FINE! You’ll stay up all night until this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler Building!  Now say it!  Say it!!

(Not really meaning it, but fearing her wrath if they don't say it:) We love you, Miss Hannigan.

 (She turns to the audience with a knowing look and mumbles:)  ‘Little girls!’

THE ORPHANS remain in their soldier line positions until MS. HANNIGAN exits.  They turn in her direction and make the silliest, most ridiculous faces and gestures of extreme dislike in her direction.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Stage Beauty: Necessities for Backstage Prep

With three weeks to go before Guys and Dolls' opening curtain, it's time to run down the checklist of necessities for the backstage survival kit - stage cosmetics, toiletries and everything to make you comfortable and ready for just about any personal and esthetic emergency you can think of.  For women, it's simply an expansion of your normal cosmetics bag.  For men, take your shaving kit and steal a few ideas from the women.

Here are a few recommendations I've put together for your 'starter kit', courtesy of Polyvore!
Stage Beauty: Prepping for Showtime!

H M makeup brush
£2.99 - 
There are a wide array of brushes available for application, I'll be packing at least five: two large blush brushes, one for translucent powder and one for blush/bronzer; one small, thin brush for lips; one rounded and one angled, both small, for the eyes.  A few extra brushes wouldn't hurt to pack just in case you don't want to mix too many cosmetics on one brush.

Laura Mercier makeup
$15 -
I like to apply my foundation on the back of my hand and use my fingers to apply and blend around my face - but we're talking everyday makeup for that.  There's a reason stage foundation is commonly known as 'pancake makeup': it's much thicker than your standard everyday concealer.  Foundation is essential for both men and women on stage because it helps bring dimension to the face for easily-read expression and not have it washed out by the heavy stage lights.  Makeup sponges create a better consistency all over the face, and due to the consistency of the makeup, is easier to apply with than fingertips.  Pack plenty, plenty, plenty - but don't be afraid to reuse!

Le Metier de Beaute eyelash curler
$18 -
Men won't need to pack these, unless they're playing up their feminine features!  Eyelash curlers help with the natural emphasis of upturned eyelashes and also help those falsies stay curled after so many shows.  I'll be wearing falsies for my Hot Box Dancer numbers, but I'll need to tear them off afterwards for other scenes, so this tool will help keep their longevity - at least for this show!

Pencil sharpener
$2.96 -
Everything from lip to eyeliner or anything else that needs a precise edge, you'll be thankful to packed one of these when you're in a pinch.

John Lewis tweezers brow
£4.25 -
Same with the sharpener, tweezers help with the tine maintenance problems, and is a handy tool to have around for any emergencies that could happen.

Eylure false eyelash
$12 -
I'll be wearing these for the show in a few scenes, but I'll be packing a few extra pair just to be sure.  Most falsies come with a tube of adhesive for immediate application, but it never hurts to pick up an extra small tube, in case the adhesive with the pair dries out.

Neutrogena makeup remover
$50 -
A huge favourite of mine, I always make sure I have all-over face makeup remover towelettes in my case.  From reapplication after screwing up the cat-eye liner, to a quick change in makeup looks between scenes, to racing out of the dressing room to meet your friends after curtain, these are a quick fix to get the stuff off in one swipe. 

Clinique face cleanser
$20 -
Of course, makeup remover towlettes don't compare to the ritual of a proper cleanse.  Pack your facial cleanser and moisturizer from home to give your skin a proper scrub from the heavy makeup.

Clinique face moisturizer
$21 -
Still looking after your skin?  Oh, good!  Don't forget to pack that moisturizer - there's nothing worse than having a 'tight face' after all these cleaning products have passed over your face.

Burt s Bees lip treatment
£3.70 -
I'll probably have a few different lip remedies in my case, depending on the lipstick I'll be using.  I like to use lip balm as a base before I apply lipstick, and it also keeps my lips protected from the piles of makeup and consistent singing and projecting on stage.

Travel makeup bag
$595 -
Get yourself a big enough bag to put all this in!  A large shoulder overnight or weekender bag should do you well.  I have a vintage Samsonite train case I use for every show; it's managed to hold everything I need for years.

Trish McEvoy beauty product
$5 -
Cotton pads and Q-Tips, along with your makeup remover towelettes, will be your secret weapons when it comes to makeup application!  These tools are great for removing smudges, adding detail and getting rid of those last traces of makeup around your eyes when you wash it all away.

Clinique beauty product
$10 -
No matter how much deodorant you put on, you will be sweating terribly.  I don't care who you are, it'll happen.  The problem is - when will those costumes get washed again?!  Keep some deodorant in your case to keep yourself as fresh-smelling as possible - even if those costumes don't.  Just be thankful no one else wears it!

NYX makeup travel bag
$20 -
A cosmetics mirror is handy to have for those close-up jobs - anything applied around the eyes, for example.  Depending on your costume changes and where you enter/exit on stage, you could probably have your mirror in the wings to do some 'face checks' after using it in your prep.

Deborah Lippmann nail
$18 -
If you are wearing pantyhose or stockings on stage, keep a bottle of clear nail polish in your case to stop any runs that start.  For men, put a dollop on your shirt buttons to keep them from threading off!

Linen Herringbone Washcloth
£15 -
Bring a bath towel and face towel with you; some dressing rooms are equipped with showers, and you'll need something to dry up your wet, sopping face after you wash off all that makeup.

Here are a few other things to consider throwing in your case:
A few more things ...
  • Throat lozenges or a really strong mint, like Fisherman's Friends or Altoids.  They'll help clear your throat for the performance.
  • Safety pins and a sewing kit for those costume emergencies.  The costumer should have these on hand, but sometimes she's not immediately available for a quick stitch you can take care of yourself.
  • Bobby pins for your hair; you'll never know when it'll get unruly despite hairspray.
  • Shower essentials; shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  Pick up a new loofah sponge, as well - you'll most likely not want to bring it home afterwards.
  • Bandages and ointment - no explanation necessary there, I assume?  Get the clear bandages if you can, in case you need to cover an exposed boo-boo.
Up next - packing up the cosmetics!

    Synergy Theatre Class: 'Pinball Wizard' Skit for TOMMY

    My biggest challenge yet when it came to my Theatre Arts classes at Synergy Performing Arts Academy was with writing a skit for my class performing 'Pinball Wizard' from the rock musical TOMMY.  Technically, the musical is a rock opera without actual spoken parts, so I wanted to make sure I wrote a scene that would reflect the message of the play; that being yourself, regardless of what makes you different, is the best thing you can offer the world.  I'm really proud of the kids and how they've taken to the material, being such a heavy piece itself, and they took to the message rather with flying colours.

    I had written with script excluding our main character, Tommy, who is deaf, dumb and blind throughout most of the play.  Instead, I had picked out a few characters to focus on in the skit who are celebrating Tommy's achievements as they walk the red carpet before the 'Pinball Wizard Spectacular' begins. 


    SALLY SIMPSON and MRS. WALKER, the red carpet interviewers, are already on stage, amongst the cheer and applause of TOMMY’S fans behind them, behind a ‘velvet rope’ and holding support signs, awaiting to enter the concert.  (Think ‘Entertainment Tonight’ with your delivery!)

    Hi, I’m Sally Simpson, president of the Tommy Fan Club …

    And I’m Mrs. Walker, proud mother to the Bally table champion himself …

    And we’re live at the biggest event of the year – Tommy’s Pinball Wizard Spectacular!  What an incredible feat - this deaf, dumb and blind boy has managed to beat every pinball wizard in the country!

    That’s right, Sally Simpson, and with us tonight to celebrate Tommy’s amazing success are his family, friends, and a few celebrities we’re bound to run into here on the red carpet!  Sally, you look rather dashing, who are you wearing?

    Why, thank you, Mrs. Walker!  I’m wearing … (ad lib)  And tell me a bit about who you’re wearing?

    You’re too kind!  I’m wearing ... (ad lib)

    Hey, look!  I think our first guest is Cousin Kevin, onetime childhood adversary to Tommy.  Tell us how you’re responsible for his success today?

    COUSIN KEVIN enters and struts to the ladies.

    Well, it’s simple, really.   I was trying to make fun of him at first, because what deaf, dumb and blind kid can play pinball, really?  I mean, what are you going to do – smell your way through a game?   Well, he sure showed me!  Those digit counters started falling, and all I could think was “WOOOOW! He sure plays a mean pinball!”

    What message do you have for Tommy tonight?

    Well, Tommy, I’m sorry I picked on you so much all these years, but you’re a big inspiration to all of us, because you show us that we can be ourselves and still be awesome!

    PINBALL WIZARD enters and walks over to the fans to sign some autographs.

    Thank you, Cousin Kevin!  (COUSIN KEVIN exits, waving goodbye.)  And look who else we have – former Pinball Wizard Champion (name here)!  (PINBALL WIZARD struts over to the ladies.) Tell us about the moment you heard that Tommy, a deaf, dumb and blind boy, beat the highest score on the Bally table of all time, yours?

    I’ve been playing in arcades all over this country, and I’ve never met anybody like him.  It’s like he becomes part of the machine!  I’m happy to give up my crown to such an amazing player.

    Any hopes for a rematch?

    Oh, we’ll see!  I’ve got to get a bit more practice in if I’m gonna try to beat him!  But I’ll be playing a special role in tonight’s concert – my band and I will be introducing the new champion!

    Well, we can’t wait to see it!  (TOMMY’S FANS roar with excitement.)  My goodness, let’s say hello to the fans!

    TOMMY’S FANS, mostly young girls, all holding handmade signs and pictures supporting TOMMY, get into mass hysteria and excitement when the ladies approach them.

    Hello, ladies!  You’re all part of Tommy’s fan club, aren’t you?

    TOMMY’S FANS all scream at once, “YES!” and proceed to try and talk over each other about how they proclaim to be TOMMY’S #1 FAN.  They are silenced by SALLY SIMPSON.

    Well, I’m the president and I’ve got a say – you ladies right here are amazing for being here, and I know for a fact that Tommy is so thankful for your support – that’s why you’re all getting front row seats!

    TOMMY’S FANS all scream in surprise and proceed to high-five, hug and congratulate each other.

    I think we might be due for a few more celebrity appearances – wait!  Is that who I think it is?  None other than PAC-MAN himself!

    PAC-MAN enters the stage, and TOMMY’S FANS go absolutely wild!  PAC-MAN approaches the ladies.  PAC-MAN won’t actually talk, but it will be ‘pantomimed’ instead.

    What an honour to have you here, Mr.  … uh, MAN!  As an arcade legend yourself, do you have any inspirational thoughts for Tommy this evening?

    PAC-MAN nods ‘yes’ and goes to say something into the microphone.  Suddenly, a GHOST appears and PAC-MAN is on a mission and chases the GHOST offstage.

    Well, I think I know what I can get from that …

    Practice makes perfect!


    The Pinball Wizard Spectacular is about to start, and you’re in for an event you’ll never forget!  (MUSIC STARTS.  Everyone rushes onstage into position, we can’t wait for the concert to start!)  We’ll see you in there!

    SALLY SIMPSON and MRS. WALKER take their positions for the beginning of the music number.

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    BMT's 'Guys & Dolls' - Welcome to the Hot Box Club!

    Rehearsals have now become a sexy time, now that I've joined the Hot Box Posse!  It's been about a month since I had been asked to be part of a fantastic group of girls who have helped me become the best dancer I can be.  I just hope I don't make the rest of 'em look bad, I'm working so hard.

    I remember taking ballet when I was two, and quitting when I was two-and-a-half.  I guess we're finicky at that age when it comes to what we find entertaining.  I don't remember why I didn't want to go back, but for some reason I didn't like it.  Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, because I wish I had stuck with the training.

    I've been in plenty of musicals and know my way around a mean jazz square thanks to many a patient choreographer, but I've never had the pleasure of studying the discipline of dance and movement from a proper teacher.  I'm a great mimic when it comes to things like that, and I'm familiar with how my body moves and looks, thanks to lots of mirror study.  Getting over looking at yourself in the mirror when you potentially look like a fool is the greatest asset any dancer, singer or actor can have - you know what you look like when your body, face and posture are doing things they don't normally do, you can correct yourself accordingly.  The mirror has been my best friend when it comes to this dancing, making sure I've got everything where it should be; kicking the proper leg up, hands in proper position, making sure I'm singing at the same time!

    Stephanie, our choreographer, and April, our dance captain, are so patient with me.  It's probably my unnecessary paranoia that they want to chuck high heels at the back of my head.  I have such high respect for the training dancers endure, the discipline they have for their art.  I'm rather honoured to be a Hot Box Girl, really, and to be able to learn a little more about how to perform as a dancer with proper posture and poise.

    We've got two numbers we're working on for the show, "Bushel and a Peck" and "Take Back Your Mink".  Choreo's all done, now it's just practice, practice, practice - the only way to Carnegie Hall ... or in our case, Rose Theatre!

    Come see the turnout of all that time practicing April 12-14, 2012 at the Rose Theatre in Brampton!  Tickets are on sale online!

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    Photo Shoot for The Black Umbrella Studio's Anti-Abuse Campaign, "Wife Beater"

    I had a photo shoot a couple of weeks ago with my friend Yoko from The Black Umbrella, a photography studio based out of Toronto, Ontario.  The studio currently has an anti-abuse awareness initiative called "Wife Beater," featuring local musicans, actors and other artistic personalities wearing the infamous 'wife beater' tank top in various environments.  Here's a statement from the studio's Facebook page about the campaign:
    "Domestic abuse can exist in many forms, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse.  This cultural phenomenon is visible in every single nation, race, sex and class that resides on this planet.  Wife Beater is a series intent on raising an awareness and healthy discussion based on the concept/reality of domestic abuse."
    There is a train bridge behind my apartment building that used to be covered in gang tags and foul language.  Garbage was strewn everywhere, it was rather filthy.  Across the bridge is a local public school; families use the bridge quite often to get to and from school.  I would imagine looking at swear words painted on cement just outside the playground can make children rather curious in unnecessary ways, so it was wonderful to see the transformation.  The city of Brampton had started a 'neighbourhood beautification' initiative of sorts and commissioned local artists to turn seedy-looking environments like this bridge and cover it with inspirational art. 

    I had sent a few quick shots to Yoko to give him an idea of the place.  It's great to see that someone saw potential in something that seemed so broken.  I guess that's why I chose this spot. 

    You'll see behind Ali there (far right) there's a sunset painted on the inner panel.  That's the background for the shot above.  Yoko had centered my head with the sun, asked me to put my back against the wall and 'take two steps forward'.  We had a few more shots with the Love graffiti as well as long shots on the bridge.  And yes, it was cold.  Jeeeeeesus, was it cold, but I played into it.  I wanted to feel a certain kind of physical uncomfortableness that I could channel into an intense presence.  I had my coat ready to throw on in between shots, and we didn't spend too long outside - I'll suffer for art, but I've got limits. 

    But I'm just the latest model in a beautiful series of moody shots of artists making a stand against domestic abuse, a few of them friends and acquaintances.  You can visit The Black Umbrella on Tumblr and on Facebook and learn more about their anti-abuse campaign. 

    Thank you again, Yoko, for having me in this campaign!

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    BMT Youth Troupe - "I Hope I Get It!"

    Personally, I've been waiting to do this number with somebody.  Even better - I get to teach it.  Boy, is the BMT Youth Troupe senior class gonna have a great time with this one ...

    If you are one of those awesome students Melissa, Antonio and I see on Saturday mornings, welcome!  Very glad to have you, please don't be afraid to browse the blog and hit that 'Follow' button on the right to keep updated on other cool stuff.  (You'll find some posts about the BMT show Guys & Dolls here, as well!)  In the meantime, let's talk about the piece you'll be performing in May - the opening number, "I Hope I Get It" from the rousing Broadway classic A Chorus Line!

    The entire show is an audition process, taking place on a bare stage with a a bevvy of dancers auditioning to be chosen for a chorus line in a Broadway show.  We see a glimpse of each character as they describe events in their personal lives that lead them to choose their 'career path'.  Each with a unique background, here are the nineteen main characters of A Chorus Line (source from Wikipedia):
    • Zach, the imperious, successful director running the audition.
    • Larry, his assistant.
    The Auditioners:
    • Don Kerr, a married man who once worked in a strip club.
    • Maggie Winslow, a sweet woman who grew up in a broken home.
    • Mike Costa, an aggressive dancer who learned to tap at an early age.
    • Connie Wong, a petite Chinese-American who seems ageless.
    • Greg Gardner, a sassy Jewish gay man who divulges his first experience with a woman.
    • Cassie Ferguson, a once successful solo dancer down on her luck and a former love of Zach's.
    • Sheila Bryant, a sexy, aging dancer who tells of her unhappy childhood.
    • Bobby Mills, Sheila's best friend who jokes about his conservative upbringing in Buffalo, New York.
    • Bebe Benzenheimer, a young dancer who only feels beautiful when she dances.
    • Judy Turner, a tall, gawky, and quirky dancer.
    • Richie Walters, an enthusiastic black man who once planned to be a kindergarten teacher.
    • Al DeLuca, an Italian-American who takes care of his wife.
    • Kristine Urich (DeLuca), Al's scatter-brained wife who can't sing.
    • Val Clark, a foul-mouthed but excellent dancer who couldn't get performing jobs because of her looks until she had plastic surgery.
    • Mark Anthony, the youngest dancer who recounts the time he told his priest he thought he had gonorrhea.
    • Paul San Marco, a gay Puerto Ricanwho dropped out of high school and survived a troubled childhood.
    • Diana Morales, Paul's friend, another Puerto Rican who was underestimated by her teachers.
    Cut dancers:
    • Tricia, who has a brief vocal solo.
    • Vicki, who never studied ballet.
    • Lois, who dances like a ballerina.
    • Roy, who can't get the arms right ("Wrong arms Roy").
    • Butch, who gives attitude in the audition.
    • Tom, an all-American jock.
    • Frank, who looks at his feet when he dances ("headband").
    Like with most audition processes (or for those who haven't done an audition before, think a job interview that you'd really like to score), it can become a high-tension environment, especially when you're surrounded by your competition.  There's some great character work and 'nightmare audition moments' we'll have some fun with to really bring the authenticity to the piece.

    Check out the original Broadway cast from 1975 perform "I Hope I Get It" on the Tony Awards and check out some of the character work done by the actors.

    The musical has also been made into a movie in 1985 and has quite a cult following. Here is the movie cast (you might catch a glimpse of Michael Douglas!) performing the finale number, One. Watch how the chorus line becomes never-ending through the mirror - watch closely!

    And now that brings us to your practice video - with lyrics! I will be creating a practice track based on the 2006 Broadway Revival cast, to which Melissa will be arranging the choreography. Did you remember the groups she put you into? Okay, try your best to remember, there's a clue in the video what it's for. You can copy n' paste the lyrics after the video to print for yourself, if you like. AND A WARNING - this may be edited for length, dance segments may be changed, as well as spoken dialog! We'll let you know of those changes ...

    In the meantime, enjoy! (I'm rather proud of this one, lemme know what you think!)

    Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch...Again!
    Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch...Again!
    Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch...Again!
    Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch...Right!

    That connects with...
    Turn, turn, out, in, jump, step,
    Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch.
    Got it?... 

    Going on. And...
    Turn, turn, touch, down, back, step,
    Pivot, step, walk, walk, walk.

    Right! Let's do the whole combination,
    Facing away from the mirror.
    From the top. 



    God, I hope I get it.
    I hope I get it.
    How many people does he need?

    How many people does he need?

    God, I hope I get it.

    I hope I get it.
    How many boys, how many girls?

    How many boys, how many...?

    Look at all the people!
    At all the people.
    How many people does he need?
    How many boys, how many girls?
    How many people does he...?

    I really need this job.
    Please God, I need this job.
    I've got to get this job.

    Okay, now the ballet routine …
    (continual dialog TBD)

    And, one-two-three four-five-six!


    God, I really blew it!
    I really blew it!
    How could I do a thing like that?

    How could I do a thing like...

    Now I'll never make it!
    I'll never make it!
    He doesn't like the way I look.
    He doesn't like the way I dance.
    He doesn't like the way I...


    Alright, I’m eliminating down now.
    Girls first row, boys second row …
    (continual dialog TBD)

    GOD, I think I've got it.
    I think I've got it.
    I knew he liked me all the time.

    Alright, I need your pictures and resumes, please.
    (continual dialog TBD)

    ALL:                                                  MAGGIE:
    Still it isn’t over,                                What's coming next?
    It isn't over.                                        MIKE:
    I can’t imagine what he wants           What happens now?

    I can't imagine what he...

    God, I hope I get it!
    I hope I get it.
    I've come this far, but even so
    It could be yes, it could be no,
    How many people does he...?

    I really need this job.

    My unemployment is gone.

    Please, God, I need this job.

    I knew I had it from the start.

    I've got to get this show!
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