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.

The Facebook Ideal (and how I finally embraced being a Single Lady)

I’m sure you’ve heard that Facebook got themselves into a little hot water recently. Apparently it was manipulating newsfeeds of a pool of users, showing them friends’ posts that contained “positive” buzzwords, and then seeing how that pool of users was affected based on their subsequent status updates & posts. It was an unethical psychological experiment on unaware subjects.

Yet I’m intrigued as to if they actually found out anything more than what they’re sharing (which is it had “minimal” effects).

Because I, for one, really am so happy and excited for all my friends who are getting married and having babies.  Truthfully, I am!  (I promise!!)

And yet I’m exhausted.

From following all the relationship status updates, looking at photos, reading sweet posts to each other, clicking through links to their registries, to their Huffington Post articles about how marriage is so awesome, lists on how to be a better wife, or comparing different breast pumps.

NO ACTUAL, PHYSICAL INTERACTION WHATSOEVER ON MY PART. I have literally attended five weddings in my life and only held one baby in the last three years.

So why, at 26, do I feel like I’m falling behind?

I consider myself to be a successful person thus far. I have two college degrees.  I lived in Europe for four months.  I enjoy my job waiting tables (seriously!), I pay my bills without much hassle and/or worry, and I am so unbelievably grateful for the professional musical theatre opportunities I have already experienced and that I have coming up. I personally am not ready to trade or compromise where I am in life for a family right now.

Yet I bawled like a baby reading this birth story on Carrots N Cake. There’s nothing sad or even out of the ordinary about it, but just the beautiful simplicity of her story was so moving; how she was so excited to meet the little guy who’d been growing inside her for nine months.

And that’s what gets me. You grow a PERSON for NINE MONTHS inSIDE of you, and yet you don’t know anything about them. A WHOLE HUMAN BEING. That you are in charge of 100%. You will shape them, and help them create their morals, their memories, their whole lives. You get to watch them grow up and have personalities and experiences and skinned knees and pride in their every accomplishment.  And that moment of finally getting to meet them must be one of the most amazing things a woman can experience.

I JUST THINK THAT’S SO COOL AND BEAUTIFUL AND IT MAKES ME FEEL SO FULL OF ALL THE EMOTIONS AAAAAND I WANT ONE.

And I know, at 26, that it’s perfectly natural to feel that way about babies because my uterus is totally like “GIRL. Get it toGETHER. You need a BABY all up inside you YESTERDAY!”

But then, it all comes back to this question: how much of that feeling is actually natural, and how much of it is perpetuated by Facebook?

I was talking with the roomie about this a while ago, about how we feel outside pressure that marriage and a family are what we are expected to strive for. How those are the Ultimate Goal. The Facebook Ideal. As soon as we obtain a handsome husband, pop out an adorable tiny human, and have a picturesque, matching sweater Christmas Card (/Facebook Profile Pic!), we’ve succeeded at all things. But is that it?

And yes, I’m sure people had those feelings in the pre-Facebook days. But I strongly believe that Facebook helps to sustain those feelings, and magnifies them tenfold.  Same with Twitter! And Instagram! And blogs! And Pinterest! (Let’s be honest, what girl *doesn’t* have a wedding Pinterest board?)

I admit, I find myself feeling down about it too often; it honestly makes me feel like I’m behind.  But when I really sit and think about it though, I am NOT sad to be single. I have even done the online dating thing, and have met & dated enough guys to realize it’s just not worth settling for someone who doesn’t fit or who’s too low to round up to my ONE. (<–Dan Savage video link!)
(Also his Price of Admission video is great, too, on a similar “there is no The One” idea…and on we go…)

Since Fall 2006, I have always been either:
-In a relationship
-Rebounding from a relationship
-Dating
-Pursuing someone to date
-In an unhealthy FWB situation with whom I usually wanted to be dating…awkward.

September 2013-March 2014, I didn’t go on any dates. Totally abstinent. And it surprised me how FREEING it was.

My Friday nights? I could go out with friends OR watch Netflix until 2am…I didn’t have to check in with anyone. That 3 mile run? I started doing it for ME, not because I wanted to look better naked for someone else. That super cute dress I bought? I didn’t need anyone to tell me I looked good in it, because I felt great in it. That third beer and 5th Christmas cookie? Fuck off, I do what I want!

I, all of a sudden, was not defining myself by my relationships. I was just defining myself, and I was allowing myself to just BE. Happy. Sad. Excited. Loud. Joyful. Angry. And I felt glorious.

While the “I don’t need anyone else” realization happened years ago (another story), this was the first time I’d truly been alone in seven years. And this is not to discredit or put down any kind of relationship I have ever had; I am still on good terms with many of them, close friends with a few, and learned a lot from the ones who are no longer a part of my life. But having a chance to sit back and be alone, I saw that I was so often getting completely sucked into that other person; my moods mirrored theirs, I was so affected by the little things, and I would start to question everything I said or did.  I would start to question myself.  And it would escalate (comedically) quickly.

Did I say the wrong thing? Does he think I’m mad? Is he mad?? Why isn’t he responding immediately to my text???

Is he judging me for eating that second cookie? What if he feels my pudgy stomach during sex, and remembers that second cookie, and judges me for it THEN, when I’m already naked and can’t hide it?? Does he even find me sexually attractive???

Will he hate me if I don’t go out with him and his friends? Will he think I’m lazy if I don’t feel like putting on a bra & make-up, and just want to watch Netflix by myself tonight?  Can I have a bottle of wine??  Will he think I’m a lazy alcoholic if I tell him I’m drinking a bottle of wine by myself tonight while I sit around and watch Netflix???

I probably shouldn’t have even told him I mentioned our date to my parents…now he thinks that I think he’s The One…now he’s gonna go running for the hills just like all the rest of them…

THOSE ARE ALL SUCH STUPID THINGS THAT I NEVER WORRY ABOUT WHEN I’M SINGLE.  I rarely think those things about my friends.  So why should I worry about them when I’m in a relationship??

Yet I have absolutely thought all of these sorts of thoughts with EVERY.SINGLE.GUY.  These thoughts are all red flags that I often overlook and suppress until there’s a sea of red and I’m forced to come to terms with the fact that he is, in fact, not someone I’d want to spend the rest of my life with.  Normally that realization happens after a box of tissues and a lot of ice cream, as I’ve already been dumped by him, usually because I held out for waaaaay too long, hoping that it would all work out.

So why do I get into the habit of forcing something that obviously isn’t working?  I really believe it all comes back to the Facebook Ideal.  I start to think that maybe this is it for me; maybe this guy is the guy I should end up with, that I should settle for.  The idea that I should want, that I should need, that perfect Facebook Profile Picture with a Stud Muffin, a Big-Ass Diamond Ring, and a Fucking Adorable Tiny Version of the Two of Us (and maybe even A Dog) to feel good about where I am in my life.  Because Facebook shows me that marriage and relationships are easy and fun and perfect and the ultimate WIN.  That that’s what I should be striving for.  That, yes, I am successful if I land a great role in a dream show, but I am MORE successful (& worthy of a $20,000 celebration) if I’m walking down the aisle in a white (ha!) gown.

I want that.  Someday.  I know so many great people (younger, older, my age) in truly happy marriages & relationships, some with beautiful children, being kickass parents & partners, WHO MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER PEOPLE, and they’re still doing what they love.  Their relationships are strong, but hard work, and while everyone hits rocks occasionally, they deal with the rocks and keep on sailing.  That’s love, and it’s just not worth settling for anything less than that.

Am I ready for a serious relationship with someone that I could eventually have that with?  I think so.  And I am so excited to someday decide to spend the rest of my life with someone, and to someday hold MY adorably tiny human for the first time.  But I’m really gonna try to stop letting the outside world make me feel that I am not successful until I have those things.  Because I AM happy AND fulfilled AND worthy AND successful.  And it took me a long time to realize, accept, and relish that.

So now I’m off to spin class so I can enjoy checking out my own butt in the mirror later.  😉

 

The cost of eating healthy

This NPR article was making the rounds on Facebook last week, and I just wanted to share it and my thoughts with you.

What Separates A Healthy And An Unhealthy Diet?  Just $1.50 A Day

My first response to this was YES.  This is awesome, spot on, totally true.  I have absolutely made the excuse before that a box of Kraft mac & cheese is cheaper than a full dinner of a protein, veggie, and starch, so I eat the unhealthy option instead of actually thinking about the fact that I usually end up throwing half a bag of shredded cheddar into said mac & cheese, maybe some lil smokies, and dipping it into my side of applesauce (hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it), which adds $$$ and calories and nasty processed crap.

Overall, the article raises a good point.  But the *one* part that I found to be frustrating was this suggestion:
“Another key tip: When comparing two items, focus on the price per unit rather than the total price.”

Truth be told, this is the first time in my life I have had to actually sit down and create a budget.  The thing is, sometimes I have enough in my budget to buy that $10 value pack of chicken parts.  But there have definitely been times where I’ve had to look at what I have and settle on the fact that I can only afford a $3 pack of two.  I GET that it is ultimately cheaper to buy the value pack.  I absolutely get that, and I will always buy in bulk when I can.  But it’s just sometimes not possible, especially when I am only cooking for one person and I have limited freezer and fridge space.

For some reason, that tip really rubbed me the wrong way.  Maybe because I hate budgeting and it makes me cranky.  Maybe because things like Mario Batali’s food stamp experiment prove that surviving on a tight budget can make eating healthy seem like a luxury or an inconvenience.  Regardless, the overall point that is made is good.  But an extra $45 a month is a lot, especially for people working minimum wage jobs.

(It should be noted that even though I’m having to budget, I’m doing fine.  I have been extremely blessed in the past to have a fluffy enough bank account to get me through minimal-work-hour times.  And I am extremely blessed and thankful to have a job doing what I love that does pay the bills plus a little extra.  This is what I signed up for, and I could be a lot worse off.  So just me doing my strong feelings soapbox thing.)

Workouts 6/17-6/23

I know, I know…so late posting this! Had it halfway done and then spaced on actually finishing/posting. My bad!

The Workouts
Moment of honesty: last week was rough.  A completely packed rehearsal schedule, still adjusting to LST, and other stuff going on that needed to be taken care of.  I did not exercise nearly enough last week OR this week.  We open Sound of Music next week however, which I think will help.  I did bike a lot, though!

Monday, 6/17 – We choreographed Footloose.  Like, the opening number.  Dance-tastic.

Tuesday, 6/18 – Rest

Wednesday, 6/19 – GYM!  Strength Training
Warm-up: 50 Jumping Jacks, 1-min plank, 30 burpees, 30 push-ups, 30 squats, 30 1-legged squats
(Sets/Reps/Weight)
Chest Press: 3/15/8
Chest Flies: 3/15/8
Step-up with Curl (on Bosu): 2es/10/8
Shoulder Press: 2/10/8
Rows: 3/15/8
Tricep: 3/15/8
Abs: 90 bicycles, 20 mountain climbers (with Bosu), 30 side lifts, 15 butt-ups, 15 windmills, 30 Russian twists
*I definitely make up names for ab exercises…I probably should find out what they’re actually called…

Thursday, 6/20 – Rest

Friday, 6/21 – 2 mile run!  Did it in 18 minutes because I ran the first mile, then the two half miles with breaks in between.  I forgot to use my inhaler before going on the run.  Still learning with that thing!!
Then we preceded to choreograph Go Go Go Joseph.  You know.  THE dance number.  FML if I’ve ever regretted a workout, it was this one. 20130627-142038.jpgLook how pretty the mountains are!!!

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Saturday, 6/22 – Rest

Sunday, 6/23 – Rest

The Playlist
When I’m Gone (Cups) – Pitch Perfect soundtrack.
I’m actually really looking forward to seeing her as Cathy in the L5Y movie.  Not so much Jeremy Jordans (sorry, dude, you’re talented, but you’re not a Jamie in my brain), but I’ve been obsessed with Anna since Up in the Air.  And then her performance of “Ladies Who Lunch” in Camp?  Brilliance.

The New Thing I Tried This Week:
Asking for feedback on life.  Sometimes the truth is harsh but needs to be heard.

The Rant:
*cue Heather Strong Feelings back-up singers*
This SIGN.
This sign is seriously hanging in a middle school lunch room advertising an educational travel company.  Awesome, except for THEIR ADVERTISING.
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“ur totally rite. ❤ DC!”
“told u DC is awesome see the president yet?”
“nope just his house! :)”
“im gonna live there someday :)”
No, middle schooler, you’re not.  Not if you can’t learn to capitalize, punctuate, and SPELL.
World Strides.  http://www.Worldstrides.org.  I am publicly shaming you.  This is completely appalling and unacceptable to be validating a bastardized, lazy version of the English language in an advertisement geared towards young students.  Middle schoolers are impressionable, and we should be setting a better example for how to communicate with one another, even just our own friends.  My grammar isn’t perfect, my punctuation isn’t perfect, and sometimes I shorten things to make it easier (wtf, etc).  But I refuse to spell things incorrectly when it is literally a letter longer.  This is becoming a common trend with students…essays being turned in with “ur”, “rite”, etc, and it has started to carry over into the professional world.  Find a better way to advertise, your program sounds legitimately cool.  You don’t need to stoop to misspelling and grammar mistakes in order to be accessible to 12 year olds.

The Meal Prep
Turkey Provolone wraps with GoGo applesauce
Zucchinis, Carrots, and hummus
Salad fixings
Greek Salad with Chickpeas
Roasted Sweet potatoes, zucchinis, and black beans for tacos
Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Asparagus
Asian Tuna
Teriyaki Tuna
Hard boiled eggs, mangos, blueberries, PB cheerios, plums, and Babybel
I didn’t go hungry at all last week, obviously.  And a lot of this carried into this week.

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The Taco Tuesday:
So we’ve decided to implement a permanent Taco Tuesday night which took off like a rocket last week.  We had normal beef tacos, but we’re gonna start livening things up over the next few weeks and make it a “Taco” (ie Mexican) Tuesday.  I’ll try to get pictures next time!!

The Favorite Meal:
The sweet potato black bean tacos were bomb.  I added some Tapatio & cheese, and that was it.  Great to just bring the container and my tortillas to rehearsal.