Sunday, January 28, 2007

Another audition under my belt.

Today's audition was for the company doing a Condensed Mikado overlapping with Merry Widow. I thought I sang pretty well, especially given that I'd been having a lot of crud problems when I first started singing this morning, but I hit a first with this audition: when I finished, the director (or maybe the MD; they didn't introduce themselves) asked me to sing it again but louder. He said "the acting was fine" but I seemed to be holding back; he wanted me to give him both barrels! I had sorta dialed it down, both for dramatic reasons and because it was a low-ceilinged room w/ cinderblock walls, but I did as I was told. The director even gave me an occasional "gimme all ya got" gesture as I was singing. Felt funny, but fortunately the singing still felt good.

The dance part of the audition went pretty well, too, though one movement gave me trouble because it depended on the use of a muscle I'd pulled during yesterday's rehearsal. The muscle hadn't bothered me at all today until we got to that point in the combination. Now it hurts to try to raise my right leg, which is gonna be problematic stepping into and out of trousers and climbing stairs.

I was there quite a bit longer than I'd expected. I was in the first batch of 10; each of us sang our bit, then they herded us off to church's social hall to learn the dance combination. After spending about half an hour on that, the directors, accompanist and board president came in to watch us dance. The choreographer had us split into 2 groups and each group got to do the combination twice. All told, it probably took at least an hour and a half from the time the first person sang to the time they released us after the dance piece. I think that's the first time I've auditioned for this company that I didn't just sing my bit and leave. The fact that they're including dance gives me hope for how much dance will be in Merry Widow. (Now to hope that they cast me....)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

This week in theater

It's been a busy week: I was going to audition for Birdie Sunday night but the neighborhood streets were so slick that I decided it wasn't worth the risk and instead asked if I could audition at callbacks. Monday night was voice lesson and Ruddigore rehearsal.

Tuesday I auditioned for Thoroughly Modern Millie. The only thing really open to me is Mrs. Meers; the other mezzo role, Muzzy van Hossmere (sp?), is specifically described as African-American, and the ensemble has to tap. After doing things like folk-dancing barefoot on a concrete slab back when I was young and ignorant of such matters, my knees won't put up w/ the punishment of tap, so ensemble's out. As I'd expected based on my merely adequate singing that night, I didn't get called back, so I expect to get a "thanks but no thanks" in another week or so. Which is OK now that I'm doing Birdie.

My Birdie audition Wednesday night was kinda funny; I'm not at all sure how well my singing went (I got cut off at both auditions, using the same piece), but I thought I read well. The director apparently agreed, as he had me and another auditionee stay for callbacks, and ended up giving me the only part he had me read for. Mae is going to be fun to do, but I'm a little disappointed that the role calls for no dancing and only a few ensemble songs. Ah well, working on her accent will be good exercise; the director wants her played as a "quintessential New York Jewish mother". At callbacks I read it with what I thought was rather a cartoony accent, but I got compliments on it from two people - one a self-identified NY Jew; the other, one of the women also up for the part.

We're working Ruddigore choreography fixes today, which will be fun. It'd be more fun if I had more dancing than just a tiny piece of the one number, though. Unlike a lot of singers I've shared a stage with (especially most of the guys), I actually look forward to the dancing. The more dancing there is in a show, the better I like it! (Which is another reason I really want to do Merry Widow!) Yet in Ruddigore and Birdie, I end up doing little or none.

Tonight I'm off to adjudicate A Moon for the Misbegotten. A friend recommended an Irish pub near the theater; after checking out the menu online, I decided to make an evening of it.

Tomorrow I'll audition for Condensed Mikado and Merry Widow. I do hope the company will be willing to let me play with them despite my as-yet-unknown Birdie rehearsal schedule. I'd be delighted to do either show: Mikado would mean a lead (which would be exciting!), Widow would only be chorus but presumably I'd get to dance. Either way, I'd be very pleased.

Someone might need to arrange an intervention...

OK, so I was just cast in Bye Bye, Birdie, which runs the 1st 3 weekends in May. Because Mae Peterson is a relatively small (but choice!) part in terms of stage time, I'm hoping that'll mean a light rehearsal schedule, so I'm still going to audition on Sunday for the company doing Condensed Mikado and Merry Widow (I do so love Lehar's music!), which run in March and April, in hopes that I can get the 2 rehearsal skeds to mesh. The company, of course, may have other ideas about that.

As if that weren't enough, I finally agreed last night to design costumes for a show being produced & directed by a couple of theater friends. Both of them have done lots of costuming; I only agreed because they can be my safety net. They tell me the show's set in the 50s or 60s and has a cast of 13, so this should be comparatively easy; not like trying to costume a viennese operetta, with a cast of thousands, from scratch. I'm nervous, but also looking forward to this.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Just call me "Mae Peterson"

The Bye Bye, Birdie director called this afternoon (only about 15 hours after they sent us all home after callbacks last night - that was fast!) - they want me to play Mae Peterson, mother of Conrad Birdie's manager. More later; I gotta get some sleep...

Sunday, January 21, 2007


After an eerily mild January, it finally turned seasonably cold a few days ago, and this afternoon it started to snow! The forecast is for only an inch or so, so no snow day tomorrow, but I'm just glad January is finally behaving like January.

The Midwest has had it worse. Kansas City got several inches of snow, and my sister in Tulsa reports 4 inches of ice! After being out of school all week, the kids were getting so cabin-feverish that they drew some lines with food coloring, pulled out the pool noodles and a wheel off a toy, and played hockey in the back yard.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I get a new costume!

In the course of discussing whether I could lend one of my foundation garments to one of the other Ruddigore choristers, I learned I'll need it myself because I'm getting a new costume, made just for me! This is happy news because usually I get a costume from the company's stock, adjusted to fit (or sometimes not). I always need alterations for any costume the least bit fitted, and because standard sewing construction doesn't usually leave as much seam allowance as I'd need, I'm used to either providing some of my own costume pieces or resigning myself to something that doesn't really fit very well. Getting something that will actually be made to my measure is very good news indeed!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Enough, already!

Managed all of about 3 hours at work today before the migraine got so bad I couldn't concentrate (but before the nausea started). This is the 3rd in 4 days, but today was worse because Monday's migraine took my last Imitrex (the refill didn't arrive until this afternoon). So to help the mega-motrin along, I downed 20 oz. of Mt. Dew and two 20-oz cups of coffee. Even with all the milk I put in my coffee (alright, all the coffee I put in my milk), that's still a LOT of caffeine in the space of a few hours. So I wasn't sure if my stomach was upset because of the caffeine or the migraine. It did eventually back off, but not until late afternoon. So much for everything I wanted to get done at work. Or at home, for that matter.

OD'ing on theater stuff?

I'm heading into a theater-intense period. Saw my first of 3 Saturdays' worth of shows the other night (and won a great raffle prize - a headshot package), 2 voice lessons this week to prep for 3 auditions (and, if I'm lucky, one callback) next week, and will be adjudicating my first show this coming Saturday. This is on top of Ruddigore rehearsals, of course. Oh, and I keep looking around at the unfolded laundry and a dishwasher in need of emptying, wondering when that'll happen. I had hoped to get a lot of that done Monday, but a migraine rather put paid to that scheme - I did manage to finish the Christmas cards at long last (now that it's past even Orthodox Christmas!), but that was all.

Between performing in Ruddigore, adjudicating my assigned shows and seeing friends in their shows, my schedule is packed solid through the end of February and March is filling up fast. Yes, I did have every intention of using "theater therapy" to keep me from feeling sorry for myself while TW is deployed, but I also need to be sure I leave myself time to sleep. Might have to start scheduling that, too...

Monday, January 15, 2007

A goodie from my e-mail

And if anyone knows who came up with this gem, please let me know so I can credit it properly.


"Order the signal, Hardy."

"Aye, aye sir."

"Hold on, that's not what I dictated to the signal officer. What's the meaning of this?"

"Sorry, sir?"

" 'England expects every person to do their duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability.' What gobbledygook is this?!"

"Admiralty policy, I'm afraid, sir. We're an equal opportunities employer now. We had the devil's own job getting 'England' past the censors, lest it be considered racist."

"Gadzooks, Hardy. Hand me my pipe and tobacco."

"Sorry, sir. All naval vessels have been designated smoke-free working environments."

"In that case, break open the rum ration. Let us splice the main brace to steel the men before battle."

"The rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. It's part of the Government's policy on binge drinking."

"Good heavens, Hardy. I suppose we'd better get on with it. Full speed ahead."

"I think you'll find that there's a 4-knot speed limit in this stretch of water."

"Damn it man! We are on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history. We must advance with all dispatch. Report from the crow's nest, please."

"That won't be possible, sir."


"Health and Safety have closed the crow's nest, sir. No harness. And they said that rope ladder doesn't meet regulations. They won't let anyone up there until a proper scaffolding can be erected."

"Then get me the ship's carpenter without delay, Hardy."

"He's busy knocking up a wheelchair access to the fo'c'sle, Admiral."

"Wheelchair access? I've never heard anything so absurd."

"Health and Safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free environment for the differently abled."

" 'Differently abled'? I've only one arm and one eye and I refuse even to hear mention of the word. I didn't rise to the rank of admiral by playing the disability card."

"Actually, sir, you did. The Royal Navy is under-represented in the areas of visual impairment and limb deficiency."

"Whatever next? Give me full sail. The salt spray beckons."

"A couple of problems there too, sir. Health and Safety won't let the crew up the rigging without crash helmets. And they don't want anyone breathing in too much salt - haven't you seen the adverts?"

"I've never heard such infamy. Break out the cannon and tell the men to stand by to engage the enemy."

"The men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral."

"What? This is mutiny!"

"It's not that, sir. It's just that they're afraid of being charged with murder if they actually kill anyone. There's a couple of legal aid lawyers on board, watching everyone like hawks."

"Then how are we to sink the Frenchies and the Spanish?"

"Actually, sir, we're not."

"We're not?!"

"No, sir. The Frenchies and the Spanish are our European partners now. According to the Common Fisheries Policy, we shouldn't even be in this stretch of water. We could get hit with a claim for compensation."

"But you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil."

"I wouldn't let the ship's diversity co-coordinator hear you saying that, sir. You'll be up on disciplinary."

"You must consider every man an enemy who speaks ill of your King."

"Not any more, sir. We must be inclusive in this multicultural age. Now, put on your Kevlar vest; it's the rules."

"Don't tell me - Health and Safety. Whatever happened to rum, sodomy and the lash?"

"As I explained, sir, rum is off the menu. And there's a ban on corporal punishment."

"What about sodomy?"

"I believe it's to be encouraged, sir."

"In that case... kiss me, Hardy."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I survived my Carmen audition.

I arrived just before the woman I'd done Pinafore with started singing. As soon as she opened her mouth, I was tempted to slink away with my tail between my legs, but figured I'd gotten that far, might as well go through with it. So I sat there and enjoyed her singing, thinking "these are real opera singers!"

It helped my confidence that when the next woman arrived, the director had us do a "movement exercise". Fun little game, that: He took a music stand, pulled the tray up as far as it would go, told us this was an incredibly gorgeous man, and the 3 of us were to vie for his attention. While the MD played the Carmen Habanera, the director had us positioned around the stand, initially in place, while he called out changes: "now the man is looking at A; now Maureen has his attention; now he's looking at B; now he's just looking down the hall..." I had fun, of course - I always enjoy moving to music - and it helped me relax before I had to sing.

The MD decided he wanted to hear my Christmas carol, "Il est ne", first, so that's what I did. Thank God for adrenaline! I'd been having trouble with this song at home. Maybe my throat was still recovering from the funeral earlier, but even though the highest note was only an E, my voice didn't want to cooperate. But with the music, it was easy, especially with the dancing tempo the MD gave me.

Next up was Margaret's aria from Ruddigore. I stumbled over a coupla words in one place but was able to get back on track. Not my best, but I don't think I did badly, especially as this was the first time I'd auditioned using both verses.

But there's no way they're going to cast me, even if I didn't have a show that eats up much of my February availability. Listening to B, and knowing that "Lady Jane" was also auditioning, I was very much aware of just how out of my league I was. The directors were very polite about it, though - they all said how much they liked Margaret's aria, but I don't recall any comment about my voice. Which is probably just as well, under the circumstances. I figure they'd only cast me if they needed a "gypsy dancer", and they can probably get all the dancers they need from the choreographer's Spanish dance company.

Still, I'm glad I did it. Gave me a reality check - at my age, I'll never make even chorus in an opera by a straight opera company. And it was interesting to see that A and B did much, much longer pieces than I've ever heard at any other audition - 2, 3 or more verses of each of their two arias! (And theirs really were arias.)

And TW just called a little bit ago to ask me how it went. What a sweetie!


Observation: going to a funeral the same day I have an audition is probably not a great idea, but I can hardly ask either party to rearrange their schedule to suit me, now can I? A friend buried her mother this morning. My daughter would have been 20 a few weeks ago; for some reason her anniversaries were harder this year, so attending this funeral just brought all that back. And for some reason this time I find myself fearing that TW won't come back from his deployment. I didn't have this problem the last 2 times; no idea why this time is different.

But I'll look smashing tonight! Found a rich red knit skirt with a matching mock-turtleneck top. Add a striking gold necklace TW brought back from Kuwait, "Gulf gold" earrings, and an embroidered shawl on my hips, and I'll look elegant but definitely ready to do Carmen!

Starting to get nervous now that it's time to start getting ready - wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Well, s**t!

I just learned, less than 24 hours before my audition tomorrow for that "concept Carmen", that the company wants people to sing one piece in French or Spanish in addition to a contrasting piece in English or Italian! =:0 This may be standard practice for opera auditions; I have no clue, having heretofore only done operettas and musicals. So now I find myself rummaging through every scrap of music I have in the house, hoping to find something familiar in French that contrasts with what I had planned to sing tomorrow night. Thank goodness I already know French and am comfortable singing in it (thanks in no small part to a very solid French education 'way back in high school), but to go in with a piece I've never worked on? Yikes!

And I know at least 2 mezzos will be auditioning who can sing rings around me; one was Buttercup when I was in the chorus of Pinafore a few years ago, the other sang Jane (the role I was also called back for) in the Patience I just did in November. I doubt either of them has the dance resume I do, but I'm inclined to think they're going to be more interested in casting a singer than a dancer. Not to mention someone who can actually make most of their February rehearsals.

Right now I'm debating whether to make a panicked call to my voice teacher to see if she can squeeze me in for an emergency lesson tomorrow. I was already starting to get a bit nervous about this; I didn't need any more pressure!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Random observations

Saw an odd thing on the way home from work yesterday: not one, not two, but three identical Rolls Royces traveling down the road. Somehow, I doubt that convoy was communicating on CB radios.

Learned from one of the folks from my church choir that our pianist's mother died yesterday. I packed up the rest of the vat of soup I'd made the day before to take over there, but wanted to get sthg to go with it, as well as sthg else for my own dinner. Because I had rehearsal today, I figured I'd better get to the grocery store early so I actually set my alarm. (Which I almost never do on Saturdays.) Well, I set the wrong one - the one that goes off at 5:30 to wake me up for work, not the "Sunday alarm" that doesn't go off until 7. I didn't think anything of my grogginess, and figured it was so dark just because the weather's been gloomy. It wasn't until I noticed the clock read 6:30 that I realized my mistake. I'm definitely off my game - I've never made this kind of alarm clock mistake before! Sleeping too late, yes; but getting up too early?!?

Gorgeous spring day today - sunny, breezy, highs in the 70s. Only thing is, this is supposed to be winter. Either they're right about global warming, or we're gonna pay for this in another month with a 2' blizzard and 3 days without power.

Spent a fair bit of time today sorting out my theatrical schedule: 2 shows I'm supposed to adjudicate, 3 that friends are in, one I want to see before I audition for another company's production of it, the Duquesne Tamburitzans, and of course the show I'm performing in next month. After figuring out how to get all these overlapping runs to mesh, I realized that tonight is my last Saturday night at home until at least March 10th!

TW just called again. So far he's managed to call every day, and twice today! The 8-hour time difference makes things a little weird. Tonight I was talking about going nowhere but to church tomorrow. His initial reaction was, "But tomorrow's Monday!" Because for him it's Sunday, while it's still Saturday night here. I might hafta send him one of those watches with 2 faces so he can set one to my time zone and one to his. Come to think of it, maybe I should look for one w/ a 24-hour digital display so he doesn't call me at 1 in the morning...

And I just learned that a total stranger has a link to my blog! Until about an hour ago, the only link I was aware of was from one of the two friends who pushed me to start blogging. Then blueblanket posted a comment to something I posted earlier this week. This is cool - people are actually reading this stuff! :D

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

He's landed safe & sound

TW just called to say he's landed safely and is now in temporary quarters. He stayed on the phone just long enough to let me know he was in and was about to crash and to ask me to call his family & mine to let them know he'd arrived safely. No local contact info yet; he expects to get that tomorrow (which is already today there).

More auditions and a scorecard update

And they're coming thick and fast, too - just learned this afternoon of one a week from tomorrow! Lots of reasons I want to try for it, even if I'm knocked out of consideration because it opens a mere week after Ruddigore closes:
  • It's a concept production based on Bizet's Carmen; this may be as close as I'll ever get to doing that opera.
  • The tenor who played Grosvenor in my recent "Patience" is singing Don Jose. (How do I get diacritics, BTW?) Lovely voice and intelligent performer; it'd be a pleasure and an education to do another show with him.
  • The choreographer is with the local semi-pro Spanish dance company. If there's dancing, I wanna play!
  • This group does a lot of innovative, concept productions which usually get good reviews. I'd learn a lot if I could get a chance to work with them.
After that one, I get about 10 days to cram in another voice lesson or two, then comes the pack o' auditions:
- Bye Bye, Birdie the 21st (3 possible roles)
- Thoroughly Modern Millie the 23rd (1 possible role)
- Sweeney Todd the 24th (1 long shot; I might not go for this one, especially as Birdie callbacks are that night - I can dream!)
- Condensed Mikado (1 or 2 roles) and Merry Widow (3 possible roles) the 28th
Oh, and I've got rehearsals that week, too - whole lotta singin' goin' on that week!

2006-07 season scorecard as of Dec 10th:
- 6 auditions
- 3 callbacks (including one for a lead I hadn't considered)
- 2 chorus roles
We'll see how this looks come the end of the month...

They coulda written...

The company I auditioned for over 3 weeks ago has yet to send me so much as a form e-mail saying "thanks, but no thanks". That's the first time I never got so much as a "get lost" after an audition, even when I've been one among as many as 150 auditioning. Yeah, I know, auditions were right before the holidays and all, but it's been 3 1/2 weeks, and I didn't think there were all that many folks who auditioned. Hmmph!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

And so begins my grass widowhood

"He's flown away for 179 days to a land where the palm trees grow." (It only scans if you read the number as "one seven nine".)

I drove TW to the airport tonight, the first leg of a nearly 2-day journey to begin his 6-month deployment. We've done this before, when he was still a reservist and was activated after 9/11, but for some reason it's harder this time. Maybe because this time I know exactly how loud the silence in an empty house can get when I'm used to sharing the house with him. Because the last few days have been kinda tough for me, TW asked a friend to come to the airport with us so I'd have company to distract me on the ride home, bless his heart. It worked a treat, too - our friend kept up a steady stream of chatter on safe topics and distracted me so well that I turned too soon as we were getting close to home! :D

And for those of you wondering about the term "grass widow", here's one definition.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

And it's getting off to a weird start. Yesterday TW and I passed a house w/ a yard blanketed with snowdrops because the weather's been so mild (highs in the 50s and 60s) for most of December. I'm sure other people are seeing their crocuses and other spring bulbs starting to come up, thinking it's February or March. Saddam is dead and we have a new war in Africa, but my newest niece is as healthy as anyone could wish and Mom looked and was feeling much better at Christmas than she did in October.

TW and I watched The Wizard of Oz this afternoon, then finished off the pot roast. Like most such things, it was better after sitting in the fridge for a day or two. No other big plans before he leaves; he goes back to the eye doc tomorrow to find out whether he does indeed have glaucoma (this has me much more worried than his imminent deployment!), but otherwise we'll probably just enjoy the last of our quiet time together before we leave for the airport tomorrow night.

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I do have a few things I'd like to achieve in 2007. Theatrically, I want to continue to make progress vocally, get another principal role (I'm really wishing for Ruth in Pirates of Penzance, but that's long odds), and maybe get back into Middle Eastern dance if I can schedule a class around rehearsals. I'm also slated to train up for my first season as an adjudicator for a local community theater awards organization. That'll mean seeing several shows a season. Tix will be free, but it will probably mean driving all over the place to see this or that company's production. At work I want to climb the ladder a rung or two, maybe by becoming the local go-to person for something or picking up certain responsibilities. And I have lots of plans for the cabin: make curtains for the new bedroom, install the blinds we ordered, hunt down non-ceramic bathroom accessories (much harder than I'd expected), finish getting the furniture back in place, bring over the last couple of rugs, and see if I can't manage to persuade more friends to come visit there.