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!)

video

ZACH:
(spoken) 
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. 

A-FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT!

[DANCE BREAK]

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

BOYS:
How many people does he need?

GIRLS:
God, I hope I get it.

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

GIRLS:
How many boys, how many...?

ALL:
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...?

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

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

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

[DANCE BREAK]

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

BOYS:
How could I do a thing like...

ALL:
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...

[DANCE BREAK]

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

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

ZACH:
(spoken) 
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?

GIRLS:
I can't imagine what he...

ALL:
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.

A FEW VOICES:
My unemployment is gone.

ALL:
Please, God, I need this job.

A FEW VOICES:
I knew I had it from the start.

ALL:
I've got to get this show!

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Here I Go Again" with BMT Youth Troupe!

It's another session with BMT Youth Troupe, and it's packed full of awesomeness like you wouldn't believe!

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 song you'll be performing in May - "Here I Go Again" from the musical Rock of Ages!

Melissa and I wanted to make sure we found you a song that was going to be, first and foremost, fun for everybody.  We are so happy and relieved that y'all are happy with the piece, because we've got some amazing stuff planned for you. 

Rock of Ages is what's called a 'jukebox musical', where the songs themselves are pop songs that are widely recognizable, stuff found on just about everyone's classic rock playlist you can find.  "Here I Go Again" was originally performed by British hair metal band Whitesnake and became a hit single in 1987.  You can still find the song in most karaoke machines and '80s metal compilations.

The music video created iconic imagery for the '80s hair metal era, with vixen Tawny Kitaen prancing on the hood of a Jaguar XJ in scant white lingerie and seducing the lead singer while he's driving.  We also have shots of the band who are performing in what seems to be an empty stadium.  It's a cheese video, but it made it huge.  We can rip on it later.  Check it out below - if you dare!



I also must apologize for the recording that I had played for you, which was a live performance from the original Broadway cast.  After finding the London West End cast performance for a televised fundraising benefit on BBC, I'm rather upset I didn't play that one instead.  If you'd like, check out the Broadway cast, but it's not worth it to post here.  You're better off with this one.  :)



Which brings us to a little video I made for you guys! This is a practice track from the Whitesnake version of the song, which is essentially the same at the musical version, other than some minor differences. This will most likely be the track we perform to, but you'll be warned of any changes, naturally.

And that guitar I was talking about?  Here it is!  One of you lucky people will get a chance to use this beauty in our performance!  I'll bring it in sometime for everyone to check out ...


Enjoy your practice video!  The lyrics are after the video, if you'd like to copy n' paste into a document.

video

SHERRIE:
I don't know where I'm going
But I sure know where I've been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday
An I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time
But, here I go again
Here I go again

DREW:
Though I keep searching for an answer,
I never seem to find what I'm looking for
Oh lord, I pray
You give me strength to carry on
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

SHERRIE/DREW:
Here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road Ive ever known
Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone
And I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time

STACEE:
I'm just another heart in need of rescue
Waiting on love's sweet charity

DENNIS:
And I'm gonna hold on
For the rest of my days

LONNY:
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

COMPANY:
And here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone

REGINA:
And I've made up my mind, oh yeah
I ain't wasting no more time

FRANZ:
But, here I go again

SHERRIE:
Oh, here I go again

DREW:
Here I go, here I go
Here I go again
Oh yeah, here I go

[GUITAR SOLO!]

COMPANY:
And here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone

SHERRIE:
And I've made up my mind

DREW:
Oh yeah, I ain't wasting no more time
Come on!

COMPANY:
And here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams
Here I go again!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

BMT's 'Guys & Dolls' - New & Improved Video!

For your listening - and practicing! - consideration, please enjoy this all-new and improved rehearsal recording with video-note accompaniment for your convenience!

I'm currently editing the most recent tracks and developing them into videos of similar format, which means I'll be PERFECT.  I'd just better remember this stuff when it comes to the actual performance.

Enjoy, lovelies!

video
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