Why Musical Theatre? Pt. 1

Why musical theatre?

I get asked the question, “So when are you going to move to L.A.?” a lot.  I guess it makes sense; the obvious place to a non-theatre person to go to be an actor would be Hollywood.  Because if you’re pursuing a career as an actor, you must be pursuing fame and money.  Right?

And then people get confused when I tell them, “No, actually, I really have no desire to be a film actor at this point in my life.”

(which inevitable leads to: “So then New York?  Broadway?”

“No, I’m actually really happy doing musical theatre here in Seattle.”  Props to people who move to NYC and love it, but I just don’t know that that life is for me.)

“But you can’t become famous acting in live theatre.  You can’t get rich acting in live theatre.  And why else would you go into acting?  You want money and fame, DON’T YOU?!?!”

And at this point in the conversation, I usually just shake my head, shrug, and walk off, because GAH IT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.

I always loved performing; musicals and singing were a big part of my life growing up, and it seemed like a natural choice to attend college for musical theatre when the time came around to decide what I was going to do.  I went to the University of Idaho, had some amazing professors for five years, made some unbelievable friends, and then was spit out into the real world to fend for myself.

Seattle has been amazingly welcoming, and I consider myself to be lucky enough to have gotten decent work thus far.  But still…why musical theatre?

About a year ago, I was talking to my parents about musical theatre and Audra McDonald came up in the conversation.  They didn’t know who I was talking about, so I immediately dragged them to a computer to watch one of my favorite Audra videos: the Jeff Blumenkrantz song “I Won’t Mind”:

I had heard this song in college and, and in my mind (not sure of the context of the song), this song was sung by a nanny who was unable to have children of her own.  A beautiful piece sung by a stunning voice, and I was excited to share it with my parents.

Barely a verse into the song, my mom was weeping.  I asked if she wanted me to turn it off, but she signaled to let me know it was ok.  We got to the end of the song, she was still weeping, and when she finally was able to take a breath, she said, “All I can think about is your Gamma.”

My dad’s mom, my Gamma Naomi, passed away at 93 years old in 2004, my sophomore year of high school.  My dad was an only child, as my Gamma had had him when she was 40 years old.  My dad moved her north to live closer when I was in middle school, but by that point, a series of mini strokes had taken away most of her ability to remember things.  I was unfortunately never super close with Gamma, but I do remember her loving and joyful spirit.

My junior year of college, I received a phone call from my parents explaining they had just been contacted by my dad’s half niece; apparently, my Gamma had gotten pregnant out of wedlock around the age of 21 (1930’s) and given the baby up for adoption.  She had been allowed to visit the baby up until the girl was two years old, when the adoptive parents explained that she was getting confused and they felt it would be better if Gamma stopped visiting; she never saw or contacted her daughter again.  The only other people who knew about the child were her sisters.  She never talked about it to my grandpa or my dad, and we had no idea until we received that phone call.

Where I’m going with this story, in regards to musical theatre, is that my mom and I heard the same song, but we heard two completely different stories.  One was singing to a baby she’d never have, the other was singing to her own baby she couldn’t keep.  Both are legitimate, truthful interpretations of the song.  I have to wonder…maybe hearing that song would have helped my Gamma feel more comfortable telling her story, and helped her feel less alone.

Another story:  In 2012, I was cast in the 5th Avenue Theatre’s Adventure Musical Theatre’s production of “Klondike!”.  The story, written by Bill Berry and David Austin, is a touring, 50-minute musical that follows two families’ journeys north to find gold.  About two-thirds of the way through the show, the uncle/caregiver of Katherine and Nicholas passes away on stage.  Heavy subject matter for K-8 kids, but death happened on the Klondike trail, and the writers did a lovely job honoring real-life journeys with fictional story lines.

We had the opportunity to take the show to my mom’s elementary school late in our tour.  Apparently, only a week or two previously, a student who didn’t really fit in with her classmates had lost her mother.  My mom, who had seen the show, was fully prepared to help get the student out of there if necessary during the death scene.  Instead, my mom said that when she looked back at the girl, there were tears silently streaming down her face, and the classmate sitting next to her had their arm around her; the rest of the class was leaning in and comforting her in a way to let her know they were there.  For that moment, this girl who didn’t really fit in, who was having a really hard time, got the opportunity to really KNOW that she wasn’t alone.

And that’s what I believe is the true beauty of musical theatre: you never know who’s story you’re telling, and you never know who needs to hear what you’re saying.  Musical theatre reminds us that no matter how hard it gets, we are not alone.  We as actors are blessed with the opportunity to create those personal connections from the stage, and to approach those hard subjects in the medium of live theatre.

I live for those moments; those moments of truthfulness, of vulnerability, told by means of song or dance, that are fewer and further between in today’s over-sung contemporary musicals or overdone classical musicals (those are broad generalizations, I know, and a whole other blog post).  As a performer and as an audience member, those are the moments that give a sense of oneness, of community.  Regardless of how sad the topic, there is pure joy in knowing that you are truly not alone.

And for that, for my own personal reasons, that is why I have no desire to ever move to L.A. and attempt to recreate that truthfulness behind a camera lens; while some actors have those skills (and are AMAZING), that just doesn’t call to me.  Nothing can compare to the thrill and personal-ness of live theatre.

*A quick note: I wrote this post specifically about musical theatre because that’s what I have experience in; I stand behind everything I say in regards to “straight theatre”, or even musical concerts, as well.  Just something about performing live, or being in the audience at a theatre…that’s magical to me.

Week of Wins!

Seriously. This was a week of wins. Food, fun, fitness…super stoked. So I made a Week of Win scrapbook below (with recipe link ups, stories, and pics of the cute boy FINALLY)! Check it out!

Steak Salad with Cilantro Jalapeño Pesto

This salad was AMAZING.  Please please PLEASE check out the original recipe from The Wicked Noodle.  Also, her pictures are bomb.  And I might have taken a bite before I took a picture because I forgot.  Haha.

But the pesto is GREAT on other stuff, too!!  At work, we had some extra pizza crust, so I made gorgonzola-garlic-buffalo sauce-parmesan breadsticks that we dipped in the pesto.  AMAZING.  I’m going to be doing more experimenting with this pesto.

I was inspired by Iowa Girl Eats, and I decided to make a Turkey Wrap with a classic favorite, the Epicurious Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Spread.  I love the spread, it’s great on wraps, on steak, on chicken…I bet it would be great on the quinoa cakes to replace the Red Pepper Eggplant Spread.  SO YUMMY!

Also, as you will see, I have discovered a new iPhone app.  Phonto.  Get it.  You can add awesome fonts to your pictures and open them directly into Instagram.  And it’s FREE!

8/16: Did a 7:30am run to the Greenlake Starbucks so I could talk to Ari on the way back! Perfect!!!
8/21: Did the same run so I could talk to my mommy on the way home, but got hooooorrrrible cramps halfway through. Took a minute to just curl up/stretch, then did a couple minutes of walking, I was able to run them off in a few minutes. But can I just say, this 25 minutes of running is getting easier??? I used to find it *REALLY* difficult to get started again when I took a quick walk break (I could run for another few minutes, but then I’d be pooped because I couldn’t mentally get past it), but recently I’ve been finding it easier to keep going.  Seriously, this is kind of a big deal for me.  I’m really excited with how far I’ve come as a runner!!!  I haven’t run over two miles since junior year of high school in Fitness for Life.  Next, I have to bump it up to 28 minutes, although I may try to jump the gun and just attempt a full 3 mile run.

From the menu: Breast of Chicken Parmigiana “The Believer”
Breaded and pan-fried, served with cream sauce, melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

This week, I got to have a late dinner with my AMT family, Danny & Heath! We went to 13 Coins downtown, a 24 hour restaurant with the (2nd) most amazing chicken dish in the world (2nd only to the Black Cypress, Pullman WA, chicken dish).  It was a lot of fun to catch up with some of my favorite boys in Seattle.  But I’m still missing my other favorite AMT boys: Colin, Mike, and Daniel!!

And I got to spend a couple days with the gentleman friend, and he took me to my first Seattle resident Mariner’s game!!!  We started the day at the food trucks outside the stadium, and he had been raving about the tacos de lengua from El Camion…they tasted bomb, but to be honest, I couldn’t get past the whole tongue thing.  Seriously, they looked like tongue.  And the whole mental thing.  This is the girl that’s eaten brains, and I couldn’t handle tongue.  Fail.  But seriously delicious.

Eating his tacos.

Meet Brent.  I finally got a few pictures of him for my mom the bloggy blog.

We had super close seats in the outfield!  YES!!!  C’mon Seattle!!!!

My first beer at a baseball game.  So American.  BLUE MOON!

WIN! 3-1 MARINERS!!

One of the best days I’ve had in a long time.  I love watching live sports, and I get really excited cheering on my Washington/Seattle teams!!!  I can’t wait to go to a Seahawks game for the first time later this year.  Maybe even hopefully a Sounders game too!

We got Indian food that night after he closed (that’s right, he still had to work after the game!  Crazy) and woke up the next morning to go to Costco.  I was so excited to pick out my new toy (below).  After Costco, we stopped by the brand new Haggens in Shoreline, decided we’d have to go back ASAP (so much great beer!), but also came across this awesome piece of art…a piano with an octopus!  I’d love to go up and play it for a while; I miss playing a real piano.

Buuuuut…*drumroll*

MEET MY NEW BABY, CROCKER!!!!!

My new baby for the Fall!!

I cannot WAIT to make stews, pulled pork, roasts, LOTS OF AWESOME FOOD in this.  (If you’re wondering about the name, Betty is the name of the Kitchenaid…Crocker seemed fitting, yeah!?)  I had some chicken wings in my freezer that had been there since Thanksgiving, I threw them in Crocker tonight with some corn syrup-free teriyaki sauce for a couple hours, and they came out perfect.  Falling off the bone.  Going to go buy more wings ASAP and throw them in with some buffalo sauce, gorgonzola, and cilantro.

And meet Crockette!

My new baby’s baby.

She was free.  Not really 100% sure what to do with her.

Recently, I’ve been crafting.  The big craft will be featured on the blog as soon as I’m done.  I’m so excited!  A really fun project that will be very helpful in my healthy journey, I think.  But I painted these pots to match said project, and I planted basil, chives, and grape tomatoes.

Then I found herbs at Trader Joe’s.  Because I still wanted to see what I could actually grow, I decided to *just* buy the rosemary and toss the tomatoes.  Also, tomatoes are out of season apparently.

My thumb is bright orange.  No green on this thumb.  I’ll be keeping y’all posted with pics on Instagram for sure!

Any recipe suggestions for Crocker, Crockette, or my hopefully soon new fresh herbs??