Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New bed

New flower bed, that is. Yesterday the Chief spent a few hours working on the impatiens bed, installing a new tier to dress it up a little:

Unfortunately, it's been cold enough the past several days (overnight temps below the freezing mark) that I don't want to plant anything in that bed just yet, lest it freeze. The Chief transplanted the 2 hellebores that were already in there, but so far that's the only thing in the bed.

I'm hoping it warms up enough this weekend that I can make my annual pilgrimage to the nursery for impatiens. This year I'm also planning to put in some summer ice, and maybe try upside-down tomatoes on the deck and a few herbs (rosemary, basil, parsley, oregano?) in the kitchen.


I just learned that one of the local high schools has a few fitness classes open to the community, so Monday I had my first-ever Zumba class. It was a struggle to get through the hour, but I did it. Surprisingly, even though my legs felt like overcooked spaghetti afterwards, I didn't really hurt - none of that "hurting in muscles I'd forgotten" business. I did take it easy - we were in the cafeteria (hard on arthritic knees), and I knew I needed to baby my arthritic joints and sedentary self - but still was left in NO doubt that I'd had a work-out! The only problem was that I didn't baby my bad shoulder enough - just steering to get out of my parking space after class was painful. I'll know better for next time.

I was thinking I'd just do this once a week initially, while I ease out of my sedentary life, but the Chief told me last night to go ahead & take the Thursday class as well, after which we would go to the Chinese place near my rehearsal site (we rehearse Mon/Tue/Thu). So maybe I'll get back into shape more quickly than I'd anticipated, which is not a bad thing at all.

The instructor told us she also teaches an aqua-zumba class; I'll have to find out more.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Very interesting rehearsal

This is my first show with this company, first non-singing chorus (Greek chorus), first tragedy. Last night was another first - we had our first rehearsal with the choreographer who set one of the choral odes in its entirety and most of a second, out of 4. Very interesting when the text is the music. The first one she set has me just standing in one place while everyone else moves around me, with all the movement cued from a word or phrase in the text in lieu of music. I quickly saw that the speaker (the lines are divvied up among the women in the chorus) can help the "dancers" by slowing or speeding up her delivery to accommodate the movement.

So far I have just one bit I'll want to work on: at one point the women fall to the ground. No big deal, except I'll be wearing a skirt and we'll be performing with audience on 3 sides of us. I'll need to find out what kind and length of skirt I'll be wearing so I can practice doing that move without flashing the audience.

The further along we get in this process, the more I like it. It was obvious almost immediately last night why our Director wanted us off book last week, before we started choreography or blocking. Much easier to do without a book in one hand and pencil in the other. Now I understand why our Creon told me he "loves" working with this guy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"The Meaning of Community Theater"

I stumbled across this guy's blog. He's an actor who usually blogs about whatever production he's in at the time, but frequently writes more general pieces. This one is gonna get a lot of "amen, brother!"s from a lot of people.

And this one does an even better job of explaining why so many of us continue to do community theater, and why you even see whole families working together (I've seen 3 generations working on a single production). At its best, it's family in the best possible sense of the word. Warning: have a tissue or two handy.

"They're dancing!"

I called the Chief this afternoon about something and he told me that when he brought the recycling bin in from the curb, he checked out my crocuses "And they're dancing!" Highs finally got into the 70s today; I'm sure that's the reason they look so very happy. The first brave crocuses of the swaths I planted last fall are just starting to come up, with 3 or 4 finally blooming today. I still don't see as many shoots as there should be; I hope it's only that I planted the bulbs a little too deep, not that some varmint ate them.

I was also pleased to see that the hellebores on the side of the house are finally blooming! Until today I only saw one lone white bloom; today that plant has a few more buds getting ready to open, a second plant looks like it'll bloom white as well, and a 3rd has a magenta flower on it, with a couple of buds promising more flowers. Those plants must have been brand new when I planted them, that it took 2-1/2 years for them to mature enough to bloom. And the one in the front bed hasn't bloomed yet. However, it took rather a beating this winter, so maybe it'll need another year to recover, poor thing.

Today's mild weather had me itching to swing by the nursery on the way home to load up on impatiens and perhaps a few other things. However, the Chief plans to build a tier in the front bed; no point in buying anything for that bed until the "construction" is finished. It should be pretty; I can plant one thing in the upper tier and something different in the lower tier, or all impatiens but in different colors or color schemes, or... Now that spring seems to be here to stay, I really want to get that bed populated!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My first gold star!

I check my weight on Sundays and today found that I've now lost 5 lb. since I started Weight Watchers a few weeks ago. When I logged the reading on line, the tracker actually gave me a gold star! Pretty funny - makes me feel like I'm back in kindergarten. :)

More important than the gold star is the proof of progress - that weighing and measuring and eating more mindfully is paying off. It's slow, but it's happening; at this rate, even if I get lazy or decide to indulge in a great big milkshake (which my lactose intolerance wouldn't like), I should be where I want to be by fall.

Favorites and 2 new recipes

More cooking for the week today - a big vat of mushroom sauce (3 jars of Classico and 1.5 lbs. of sauteed fresh mushrooms) and the usual vat o' salad for lunch during the week. I also cooked my first spaghetti squash and tried 2 new recipes: Peach Cobbler Oatmeal (oatmeal made in the crockpot, w/ canned peaches and a little cinnamon & brown sugar) and Lemon Chicken w/ Broccoli. I'll try the oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow and we had the chicken for dinner tonight. Pretty good, though I let the broccoli cook too long, so it got a bit mushy. The Chief suggested trying it with lime; will notate the recipe accordingly and try that next time.

My back is tired from so much standing, but the house smells great and we've got meals ready for most of the rest of the week. We'll get 2 more meals out of the chicken and I'll use some of the sauce in lasagne, with the rest going over pasta or the spaghetti squash.

Spring is starting to get serious

The crocuses are starting to really come into their own, and I noticed one lone little snowdrop in the front yard this morning. Still not all that warm - only into the 50s today - but we've moved to DST, so I guess that means it must be spring, right?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Major League Baseball try-out

I woke up about 1/2 hour later than planned this morning. Not good, as I wanted the extra time to wake up my voice and work out the morning crud. Ah well, no help for it; I picked up NA, my voice teacher, as planned and we went down and got in line with the other national anthem hopefuls. I immediately spotted 2 people I knew, and others arrived later. (The final tally of people I knew - 10.) It was chilly and the breeze was occasionally quite brrrrisk, but as we kept reminding each other, it could have been worse - it wasn't raining, sleeting or snowing, after all.

Eventually they opened the gates and let us in, leading us to a check-in table, where they checked our names off their list, then instructed us to take a seat. As we waited, someone asked about rest rooms; when our guide told us which ones "might" be open, you saw several people making a beeline in that direction to relieve cold, nervous bladders. Once they got everyone checked in, they shepherded us over to another section of seats behind and slightly left of home plate. (Great seats! One of the hopefuls who had once gotten to sit there said they were quite pricey and included a pre-game buffet and all your concessions, delivered.) They told us we'd be singing over the stadium sound system, warned us not to listen to the delay, wished us luck and got down to business.

We sat & shivered as we waited. We were out of the wind, but it had clouded up so no sunshine to relieve the chill so we kept repeating that "it could be worse" mantra. There was someone with one of those huge TV-type cameras whom I first noticed when he got within only a foot or so of one of the singers. He managed to keep singing (very nicely) without batting an eyelash; good for him. The cameraman then started filming the next batch of people to be heard, then moved into the seats. When he got to our section, he chided us that "This is supposed to be fun!" which got us chuckling if not laughing. When I waved to the camera, he said "Those gloves will make it for you!" so I waved some more. I'll have to wear Mom's leopard-print gloves the next time I have an outdoor audition! :D

NA went just ahead of me. She's a coloratura soprano and a seasoned pro so she did quite nicely. I sang in a slightly lower key than we'd rehearsed - my voice always sits lower in the morning - but it felt pretty good. I was able to hear myself well enough that the delay didn't bother me, my tempo felt good, and best of all - I managed to get through the whole thing without clearing my throat, let alone coughing (which I hadn't managed when I ran thru the anthem several times before leaving the house).

When we finished, they directed us to the visitor's dug-out - very cool! I'm sorry I didn't think to grab my camera; I would've loved a picture of me in an actual, official MLB dug-out! Someone then escorted us around the 3rd-base side of the field, through an employees-only area under the outfield seats past their little electric carts and the Control Room and outside.

NA and I had nice chats with several of our fellow hopefuls and I ended up sending a list of area theater links to two of them, who were new in town. I think I may have recruited one person (lovely baritone voice) to audition for the Mikado production I'm going for, and one of the new-in-town people is an architect who does small projects and work on older homes - the Chief will want to learn more about him!

It was cold enough that my toes went quite numb, and we got down there around 9 but didn't actually sing until 11 or later, but it was fun chatting with the others and getting to see a major-league stadium from the field. I just wish they'd said something about how soon we can expect to hear, and whether they'll contact us only if they want to use us. A couple of friends got pictures for me which they promised to send and which I'll try to remember to post.

Now that I've got this one behind me, time to start learning Burial at Thebes lines and prepping for next week's audition for The Mikado...

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Another audition

I just signed up for another audition, which will probably be my last for this season. This is for another production of The Mikado, which will run in June. I'm going to ask for Katisha or nothing; I'm a bit long in the tooth to get Pitti-Sing again (unless the director wants us in a LOT of make-up, which would hide my crow's feet) and chorus isn't worth spending so many summer weekends in rehearsal instead of at the cabin or otherwise hanging out with my honey.

Now to decide what to use for an audition piece.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

That MLB audition

Spent about half of yesterday's voice lesson working on The Star-Spangled Banner. First thing I realized was that singing it with a chorus at work is NOT the same as doing it solo! You've gotta start low enough that you don't strangle on the high notes at the end, yet not so low that you have little or no volume on the low notes, all while making both the bottom & top registers sound equally full.

Other things I learned I need to work on: some of my vowels are a bit off, I need to keep the energy up from first note to last, plan every single breath, focus the sound. Oh, and I have to tell the story. Yep, this is one tough song to sing - lotsa hard work involved!

I even had a Christina Aguilera moment. My teacher (who also has an audition) was woodshedding a particular phrase with me, then had me go back to the previous phrase to start singing. Starting in the middle like that, I lost track of where I was and either skipped or repeated a phrase; had us both laughing.

First Thebes rehearsal

Had my first rehearsal last night for Burial at Thebes. Quite different from La Belle Helene! The director said there'll be some underscoring (i.e., music under some of the action) at the beginning and end, and possibly somewhere in the middle, but in general this is a straight play - no music, no singing, no dancing.

Another difference is that this play has long chunks of speeches more than dialogue. The chorus has several "choral odes" (that's what the director is calling them), which have been divvied up among those of us in the chorus - some solo lines, some lines spoken by 2 or more of us.

I learned that the director wants me onstage as Eurydice the whole time - no starting as a member of the chorus, then going off to change costume/hair/make-up to become Eurydice. I enter w/ Creon, my husband, stay on stage through much of the action, leave w/ Creon, then come back later by myself to hear horrible news, then exit to kill myself. While I'm on stage the first time, I have a few solo lines in the choruses and join in some of the "all" sections, but don't really have a lot of lines to learn. The challenge will be figuring out how Eurydice feels about what's going on, what she thinks of Creon's decision not to let Antigone's brother be buried, and so on. Mostly silent acting, which can be the hardest kind. That means homework - reading up on the Oedipus cycle to learn Eurydice's history, to give me a better idea of how she'd react to all this.

Which brings me to another point. The script says near the end that "the body of Eurydice is revealed." The director said he may have someone bring me on; should be interesting! If they carry me, I'll have to work at staying limp, and then playing dead for however long the director decides to leave me there.

Counting up all the firsts: first tragedy, first non-singing chorus, first time to be dead on stage (though I don't actually die on stage), first tole I've had to do any research for. It's all good!