Wednesday Mar 12, 2008

ATC needs a few good men...

So rehearsals for Best Little Whorehouse in Texas are going quite well. I'm finally starting to "get" some of the harmonies and we're really diving into the choreography.  I love how Nancy choreographs - she breaks things down so simply, even a non dancer like me can follow along.  This weekend, we're going to start working on the bigger group numbers, which means we need some more men! We need guys that can "move" and sing as Texas Aggie football players coming to visit the "Chicken Ranch" and two leading men as well: CJ Scrubs and Mayor Rufus Poindexter.  Let me know if you're interested!

Tuesday Jan 29, 2008

Yay! Audition paid off!

I'm so excited! I just found out I was cast as Shy in the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with the Actor's Theatre Center. And the icing on the cake? Two of my very good friends were also cast, one of which I haven't done a show with since midway through my career at the Gaslighter.  The auditions were fun because my two friends came with me, "Mom" Reynolds was on the piano and Nancy Kwong was our choreographer.  "Mom" is always a reliable player, and the fact that she gives you a hug before you sing really helps calm the nerves (yes, one of the many reasons we all just call her "Mom").  Nancy teaches by calling out names of steps, which makes it so much easier for me to follow & learn.

Anyways, I'd better cancel my appointment at the Dragon Theatre, since these two shows conflict with each other.


Monday Jan 28, 2008

Audition fun!

It must be that time of year, because I've been auditioning like crazy.  Last week, I had my auditions for Fame at SCP and the TheatreWorks general auditions.  The Fame auditions started out well, but for some reason, the pianist did not play the last line of my song (my first time using Stormy Weather). The piano playing stopped a bit unexpectedly, but she played very well, so I can't possibly blame her for my lack of callbacks.  Perhaps it was my bad dancing. \*sigh\* I'm actually not a bad dancer, but I'm not a true dancer, so I take longer to learn the steps.  I've actually done some very complicated dancing in many of the shows I've been in (and friends say they've been impressed), but I did not do so well in the Fame audition. For me, the instruction was a bit too quick, and only the count was called out when we were on our own (as opposed to "what step is next").  The other two women I danced with seemed to pick up the steps much faster, so it must've just been me.

My TheaterWorks general audition went better, starting with the familiar face of long time Stanford Savoyard Jonathan Erman behind the piano.  I did my "standard" audition piece of Turn Back O' Man from Godspell (for which I got to practice a lot when I played the role of Sonia with STOC's production a couple years back), and performed my first monologue since I was in high school.

Tonight I'm auditioning for ATC's Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I'll do my standard piece again, and try to really focus on the dance portion of the audition. I really can dance - I'm just need practice, practice, practice!

Saturday, I'll be auditioning for Dragon Production Theatre Company's The Country Club in Palo Alto & Saratoga Drama Group for their fall production of Ragtime (which I'm not even sure I can do, with all the events I already have planned for the fall).  I have to learn another monologue for the Dragon audition, since the souther accent one I used for TheatreWorks will not be at all appropriate.

In more interesting news, I filmed my first Sun Headlines segment last week. It was so cool working with a crew - even a makeup guy to powder my nose!  The teleprompter was fascinating!  Look for my web TV debut on sun.com on February 1 as I tell you all about Project Blackbox!

Friday Dec 14, 2007

Melodrama returns to the Bay Area!

It was with great excitement a large group of us trekked down to Scotts Valley two weeks ago - Daniel Dye has brought back melodrama to the Bay Area with the premier of his Merry Christmas Brent Spudley -or- Yuletide Hijinks.  As you might guess, it is a holiday themed story, about the kind hearted Ms Cuddly who gives out toys to disadvantaged children every Christmas - and, well, any other day they need them. Her generosity has greatly impacted her "bottom line", and she finds on the eve of the Christmas holiday that the bank is going to foreclose on her mortgage.  The dastardly Victor Von Sprout is found waiting in the wings (okay, behind a Christmas tree!) to take over the mortgage and turn the toy factory into a brussel sprout processing factory, with the help of his dastardly assistant, Diamond Visage.  Will the kind hearted Spudley family be able to save the day, and help Ms Cuddly save her toy factory?  You'll just have to watch the show and find out!

The Golden Crow Theater has done an excellent job of putting together this production, with a beautiful set and fun sound effects.  They even have all the popcorn you can eat or throw!  It was so much fun getting to boo the villian, hiss at the villianess and cheer the hero (who, like always, is just a little thick headed, but as sweet as apple pie).

All of the performers did a really good job, but I was especially impressed with the energy of Geneva Holloman, who played Molly Spudley.  My only disappointment was that we didn't get to see more of Daniel, who only popped in at the begining and end as the narrator.   I'm sure not being on stage gave him better flexibility to direct, and the resultant product was so good that I couldn't possibly hold this against him. I was really impressed with the Golden Crow and the overall production of the show.  There is one weekend left, and I can't recommend enough that you try to catch this show before it closes.

Monday Nov 19, 2007

Kari's entry for the Little Mermaid contest

I am so excited that they are making a Little Mermaid musical! I can't wait to see the Disney magic come alive on stage - so many ocean creatures (not to mention water!)  Anyways, my friend Kari is trying to win a contest so she can go see the Little Mermaid on Broadway and also attend the recording session of the show's original cast recording.  That would be so cool - an excellent experience for her, since acting is what she wants to do for a living.  I was really impressed with her dynamics. She has such a beautiful voice, which comes off fantastically considering this isn't anywhere near a professional recording!  It's too bad she couldn't get a real piano player, but her voice more than makes up for the tinny backup music. give her a listen - if you like her, vote for her. Thanks!

Sunday Nov 11, 2007

A Day in Hollywood/A Night in The Ukraine

A big group of us made it to Sunnyvale Community Player's outstanding production this Friday - and we were all so glad to be there!  The entire thing was very "Gaslighter" like, making me very envious of the folks having such a fantastic time on stage

The show starts out with ushers at the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, introducing us to the life of an usher and big hits from the 1930s, winding up with an introduction to the the second act, a Marx Brothers Comedy, A Night in The Ukraine.

We were greeted by the entire cast in the opening number, full of energy and great spirits. I thought their usher costumers were very cute, but found myself a bit perplexed by the subtle differences as Act I progressed. Why did Mike Rhone have a gold strap hanging over his shoulder? Head usher, I guessed, but they all had a different number of bands between their brass buttons on their chest, which I couldn't figure out.  Personally, I would've loved to have seen actual costume changes during Act I to better fit the song each person was singing.  Yes, it would've meant quick changes - but my years at the Gaslighter say it would've been possible.  I suppose remaining in their usher costumes is probably how the show is typically done.

The sets were really neat, with rotating doors and a clever "ankle stage" (thanks to John Whenger for explaining this all to me during intermission!)

We were all very impressed by the amazingly talented cast, as they all spread their wings during Act I. In particular, we were very impressed with Aaron Weisberg on the saxophone! Wow! Bariton, Alto and Tenor saxes! Teri Weitze was a wonderful hoot when she sang "Nelson", and Molly Gazay was mesmerizing with her rendition of "The Best in the World". Keith  Pennings never ceased to amaze us with his piano playing \*and\* ukelale playing!  Kristin Brownstone did a delightful job with "Too Marvelous for Words", as well.

Geri Carlson Sauls did it again, with a fantastically choreographed "Famous Feet", and a bringing down the house "Doin' The Production Code".

One of my favorite numbers was "Japanese Sandman" featuring Mike, Anna & Molly. 

If musical reviews are not your thing, you are sure to enjoy the second act, A Night in the Ukraine!  This is where Teri Weitze really comes alive as Mrs Pavlenko, a wealthy widow. She did a masterful job of being thoroughly disgusted with her staff and visitors, putting on a wonderful sour puss whenever it was needed.  Keith Pennings, as Carlo, played wonderfully off of Kristin Brownstone, as Gino (the silent Marx brother). These two lit up the stage with their constant joviality and horsing around. "Gino's Harp Solo" was incredibly funny!

Mike Rhone did a wonderfully sappy "hero" as Constantine, who falls in love with Nina Pavlenko, played by Anna Traina. They were both perfectly syrupy sweet as they fell in love over some dropped papers. Of course, foibles led to heartbreak, which brought us to the delightfully silly "Again" sung by Mike & Anna.

Aaron Weisberg did steal the show as Samovar (Groucho Marx), with clever appropriate come backs to the audiences  occasional groans, bouncing around with unbounded energy and an excellent sense of comic timing.

This was such a fun show - everyone in our group had a wonderful time.  We found ourselves singing songs from the show when many of us got together again on Saturday night. We had a blast! There's just one more weekend for this show - and I can't recommend enough to get out there and see it!
 

Wednesday Oct 24, 2007

Miss Molly Bell's class

I've been taking a 10 week intensive acting class in Menlo Park on Monday nights - it's been great so far! Molly's been dancing our behinds off, and we've been getting exposure to more contemporary work than I've ever seen before in my years of doing community theater!  She's very direct, and is getting a lot out of each of us. I'm still stuck in some of my personal classic ruts (like trying to belt notes that really should be sung in my head voice), but she's given me some exercises to help with that.  I just need to take time at the piano this week to try to work through them. She also gave us each two monologues to prepare for next week. We don't have to have them memorized, but still, a lot of work to do!

It's so good being home again - I'm still just unwinding my head from the Grace Hopper conference. That was so intense, too! I was up every day by 7:30AM EST, and generally busy with conference related activities until 11:30 or midnight. Now, just to get caught up on my missed work, and act on all the cool things I learned here. 

Friday Oct 12, 2007

Last chance to see Beauty & The Beast!

We had another sold out production last night, and now we're down to our last two shows. There are still tickets left for both tonight & tomorrow night, so please come on down and catch our show before it just becomes a distant and pleasant memory.  All the details on purchasing tickets and where the theater is located can be found at the Saratoga Drama Group's website.  Don't forget to tell the Box Office that you're coming to see me! :-)

Friday Oct 05, 2007

Music Man from Sunnyvale Community Players

A group from Saratoga Drama Group went to check out Sunnyvale's The Music Man last night, since we had a night off from Beauty and the Beast.  The show was a lot of fun, with simple yet beautiful sets, gorgeous costumes and beautiful voices.  My friend, Steve Anthony, was really outstanding as Marcellus - stealing every scene he was in, with his hilarious antics and incredible facial expressions that really brought each scene he was in alive.

The opening scene on the train was very catchy and enjoyable - the movement of the cast perfectly recreating the motion of a train, so you could really believe they were moving... except for Kevin Cornelius (Harold Hill) who for some reason remained still on the suitcase he was  sitting on.  It was an odd choice, as it drew attention to him when we were all still supposed to be wondering who this Harold Hill Character was they were so wound up about.

The quartet was delightful, starting out seemingly "rough" then really coming together as the show developed and their characters became friends instead of rivals. It was an interesting character arc for all of them, that added a nice subplot to underscore the main characters.

Krystin Skidmore, who played Marian, was amazing. Her voice swelling above the orchestra, easily heard even in her softer moments. Good diction, I'm sure, helped with that.  I never quite felt the romantic connection with Harold Hill, as she seemed to retain her wariness through much of the show... until she quite clearly resolved that she'd allow this conman into her life.

Kevin Cornelius was an outstanding Harold Hill - his height greatly contributing to his stage presence, as he seemingly towered over the residents of River City.  Other standout performances were seen from Alex Martin as Tommy and Eulalie's dancing ladies.

There were a few "zombie chorus" moments (non smiling, slightly terrified dancers) and a few times when the ensemble forgot to watch the music director, but overall the group numbers were fun and enjoyable! I particularly liked Shipoopee. Some of the younger girls were unbearably cute and were so much fun to watch (particularly with an oversized trombone!)

I really enjoy seeing a show where microphones are not used. It is a much richer sound, with no risk of technical glitches or  popping from the microphone. Since Sunnyvale has a proper pit for the orchestra, they can do this and achieve a really beautiful sound.

The show is closing this weekend, but I can't recommend going to see this show enough. It was a lot of fun!

That is... if you can't get tickets to see me at Saratoga Drama Group's Beauty & the Beast. :-)
 


Wednesday Sep 26, 2007

The Plate!

Our cast photographer was generous enough to provide me with a picture of me in my plate costume wearing the COOL hat I made! Never mind my awkward expression - I'm sure I was in the middle of some word like... "word". I'm normally very good at smiling and dancing at the same time, but not so sure about smiling, dancing AND singing. ;-)

Valerie as a Plate!

Don't you just love my Princess Leia wig I'm wearing? 

Opening weekend was great! We performed to two essentially sold out houses! Folks walking out of the theater said things like "This is the best show I've ever seen on this stage" and "Wow!"  Reviews on Artsopolis are raves as well.  Please book your tickets now for the remaining three weekends.  Just call: (408) 266-4734 and tell them you're coming to see Valerie!

Monday Sep 17, 2007

15 tickets left for opening night!

Beauty and the Beast will be opening this Saturday at Saratoga Civic Theater, and our opening night gala is nearly sold out. This Sunday's matinee is selling fast! Rehearsals have been going really well, so we are ready for an audience.

A few of you have asked... why am I a plate?  Well, the basic premise to this story is that a cruel and evil prince  is rude to an old beggar woman... who turns out to be an enchantress. She gets really ticked off and puts a curse on the prince and everyone who lives in his castle. He becomes a beast, while his staff become objects loosely related to their prior profession: candles sticks, clock,  tea pot, knapkins, whisk, cutlery, cheese grater, rug and ... plates.  I'm one of 6 and our costumes are really cool. It's a 4 foot, 13 pound, wooden plate mounted on a harness on our backs. The plates spin, which is neat - but makes them a bit more dangerous while in motion, so I'll have to be much more careful with crossing through the orchestra going forward.

I'm working on making "Gaslighter" hats for all of the plates - they should be finished tonight, and I'll hopefully get a picture I can share.  I'm getting a lot of help from Linda, which is fantastic. She really is a great seamstress.

Anyways, get your tickets & come see the show!

Wednesday Sep 12, 2007

Incredibly heavy enchanted plates

Wow, last night was a tough rehearsal! We reworked numbers with our "enchanted" costumes on. I skipped the leotard, knowing I'd be dancing a lot and not wanting to get it sweaty, and donned my harness and plate.  It was heavy, but very cool.  They spin!  After about an hour and a half of going up & down stairs with a giant plate on my back, I felt like I was going to collapse. Fortunately, our choreographer, Geri, gave us a 10 minute break after that.  Then it was back on with the plate for another 40 minutes.  My back was killing me last night.  The only saving grace is that in an actual show we will not be wearing the plates for that long without long breaks.

The dance numbers are cleaning up well, and we haven't had to make too many adjustments for the plates - though they are disconcerting, because when I'm wearing it I can't see behind me at all.  So, I'll apologize up front for any toes I might step on!
 

Monday Sep 10, 2007

Stressful rehearsals

Last night was our first night with the set (which is GIANT! and really cool!), and also our first night with some folks in costume ... and also the first night with the orchestra.

Wow! talk about sensory overload! I feel bad for the orchestra, because it was the first time for the actors on the set, we had to stop and fix a lot, so they had to do a lot of sitting around.  The good news is the orchestra sounds INCREDIBLE! They were a bit loud in a few places, but I believe our rehearsal orchestra is "extra large" (that is, not all musicians will be at all performances).  Besides, I'm sure Dan, our music director, will have us all well balanced by opening night.

It was quite a challenge putting together the set, since not all pieces were labeled - but we eventually got everything asssembled.  It really is a spectacular set with beautiful colours and intricate interlocking pieces.

We also got our costumes, though I don't think any of us know how to attach the GIANT plates to our body harnesses.  I hear it takes an hour, so I'm guessing I'd better show up to rehearsal early on Tuesday!  As of Saturday, though, I couldn't even pull one plate out of the crate they came in. They are incredibly heavy.  I'm not sure why the folks that made the original costumes did not make the plates out of something lighter - like papier mache, balsa wood or Styrofoam.  They seem to be made of plastic or ceramic - with a diameter of 4 feet and thickness of 3 inches.  This will be interesting!

 

Friday Aug 31, 2007

Rehearsing on the stage!

In a very exciting development for SDG's Beauty and the Beast cast, we had our first major rehearsal on the actual performance stage last night - and all of the rest of our rehearsals will be on the actual stage.  We have now moved out of the tiny dance rehearsal room at the Historic Hoover Theater and onto our large stage.... which will be made tiny by the GIANT set pieces we'll have on there.  The tech crew taped out the positions of the farm house and the F.C. (Freakin' Castle), and we discovered that where we thought we could enter, there were now walls.  Most of our big dances had to be reworked last night to accommodate the odd placement of set pieces (which I'm sure will look fantastic from the audience).  I hope I can remember all of the changes for our next rehearsal. At least we're doing these changes now when we still have weeks to get used to the new steps and other changes.

Our vocal director, John, is back in town and reminding us of our harmonies.  We aren't too bad, but will need to refocus on some dynamics and breathing.  Singing isn't all about just having the right notes.

We've had a photographer in catching shots of our rehearsals - it's pretty neat to look and see a show build up from scratch.

Next week's rehearsals should see more of the actual flow - back to what we were doing in Hoover, but now on the proper stage.

Considering how many more weeks we still have, the flow of the show is very good and we're doing well on time, too. These next few weeks will just be polishing, which is a fantastic position to be in.

Monday Aug 27, 2007

Neck deep in rehearsals!

Rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast at Saratoga Drama Group are well underway.  I'm doing a ton of dancing, and while I did have all my music memorized a few weeks ago - the dancing has pushed it from my brain.  We have a night off of rehearsal tonight, so I'll have to sit down with my keyboard & plunk through my harmonies.  That's actually a pretty big recent accomplishment for me - I've learned to read enough music that I can actually do the "one fingered bandit" on the keyboard (or piano - I just don't own one myself!) and plunk out notes.

I can even play a few songs, but nothing complicated like what we're singing in BnB.  Once rehearsals wind down, I'll have to start practicing piano again.  My 6 year old nephew plays way better than me - I'm sure he always will.

I had a few recent callbacks, but haven't been cast in anything beyond Beauty & the Beast. The last show I was called back for the director said I just had too many conflicts for October, since I'm going to the Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference and taking an acting class. That's okay - a break will be good for me, and there will be other shows!  Also, having a break in my acting will give me a chance to see my friends in shows!

Anyways - tickets to Beauty and the Beast are more than 75% sold out for opening night (Sept 22), so call now for tickets or visit the website. Don't forget to say you're coming to see me!
 

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Valerie's former weblog. The new one can be found at http://bubbva.blogspot.com/

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