28 January, 2008

"If you do what's right God will show you what to do next." --Dad

25 January, 2008

22 January, 2008

It is 8:06 on Saturday night and I’m sitting on a plane flying somewhere over the east coast between Orlando, Florida and Baltimore, Maryland. I don’t really want to go to Baltimore but it was the only way I could get to Washington DC tonight. I’m meeting 4 of my best friends there to have a girls weekend. Leslie, who is one of the 6 most important people in my life, is there and I haven’t seen her since we graduated May of last year. I can’t adequately articulate how excited I am to see her. I missed the original flight I was going to take into DC tonight so I caught a flight (that left a full hour and a half late) that will take me to Baltimore where I’ll hop on a 10:45 train to DC. And I’m tired.

* * *

This past week my friend Patric and I have both been in Orlando. I planned this little excursion before I had even moved away in December. In November at the monthly open call for equity roles at Disney, one of the casting directors told me I would be a good fit for the High School Musical show. The show consists of highlights of the music from the 2nd movie. It’s upbeat, fun, pays well, and is an awesome opportunity to perform. Yes, I said “awesome.” Before I began taking voice lessons from Alexis Kramer I wouldn’t have dreamed of being cast in this show. The style sung is thoroughly pop with riffs and belting. But with a teacher who helped me to unlock things with my voice I never knew were possible came an assortment of new performing possibilities. Discovering untapped potential is one of the coolest things in the world. For reals. ☺

Yesterday, specific auditions were held at Disney to fill roles in the show. Presently they’re looking for immediate replacements. The show consists of 1 girl and 2 guy singers who host/star in the show. About 15 character performers fill the rest of the show—what you might call “Ensemble” and serve as dancers. What they do is similar to what I did in the summer of 2006 in “Fixin 2 Rain.” Lots of movement and lots of lip synching. Fun—but not my passion. If you keep up with me in real life, you know that in just a couple weeks I’m going to fulfill a contract I signed almost a year ago with Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, VA. (Google it.) So, even if they were to offer me a contract right now (which could be) I couldn’t take it. In my contract with Mill Mountain I agreed to give them one month’s notice to fill my spot on the Mill Mountain Players. And even if it wasn’t in the contract, it’s just common courtesy. Why would I want to put them up a creek like that? It’s not a nice thing to do. I do know however, that casting directors at Disney have brains and memory. So why not knock their socks off and reappear at auditions next summer or fall with 4 more professional credits under my belt and 5 months of performing experience? I have a friend who auditioned last year in January and left Orlando for an out of town contract and received a call in May to begin rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast in June. I think I left them with a good memory of me. Mission. Accomplished.

To make the trip back to Orlando to audition more practical I decided to go back to job-o-loathe I did twice a week over the summer at then-MGM now “Disney’s Hollywood Studios” (though nobody calls it that) selling Disney merchandise.

The first day I was back I had to trapse about the park with a tray of toys (how’s that for alliteration?) strapped to my shoulders. Picture the guy at the baseball game selling beer or hotdogs. Now make him have curly red hair, tip the scales at a buck fifteen, and unhappily lugging around toys that could cause an early onset of arthritis…or a slipped disc…something unfortunate.
At the very same time that I was forced to mill around MGM with the tourists and hope they would trade me money for the toys, the precise show that I came to audition for was being performed only yards away. I barely escaped seeing people I knew who were dancing in it. Nobody needs to see me in my demoralized “Yes, the Mickey spinner is $15. No I can’t swipe your credit card” state. It’s just not necessary.
I probably sound like I was hating my life selling toys when I saw people living my hopes and dreams only feet away. And yes, I certainly felt pangs of “Don’t I have a degree? And self-respect? And talent? WHY am I doing this?” But even in the nonsense and the embarrassment I was thoroughly inspired.

Wouldn’t it be cool to start off as the little red head toy pusher and end up the star of the show?

There’s something to be said for the humility that comes with doing things you don’t like. I’ve noticed in my own life that I have difficulty doing things I don’t like or things I don’t prefer. I don’t like to get out of bed when it’s cold. I don’t like to change my plans. I don’t like this kid whining and screaming 2 rows behind me…right now.

But can we really appreciate the joys and successes without previously experiencing the pain and embarrassing failures?

How much more deeply satisfying will godly unselfish love be in my life after experiencing the backlash of disappointment?

How much more satisfying is it that I will be in a nationally esteemed theatre’s performance of “Into the Woods” after the still palpable sting of not being cast in the LU production?

How much more will I value having the economic means to buy my own house and car and insurance after a year of adulthood where I was lucky to make rent?

We must go to the depths to wholly experience the heights. And recognizing that truth while in the depths is merely the beginning of the ascension. So bring on the embarrassing pitfalls. I know spring comes after winter. And I think I’m about ready for it. It’s cold in Tennessee!

10 January, 2008

Things Learned in 2007

1. People can be blessed by you simply being an amazing roommate. Spring of 2007 I had the best roommate possible. Now don't get me wrong, I've had lots and lots and lots of roommates--many of which I would count as great friends but Dara Lyons rose above all in her ability to be an amazing roommate. Not only was she respectful of my things, my space, and every space we shared she was also extremely giving and unselfish. Any time she would cook she would be ready to share. She wrote me notes and left me small thoughtful gifts that she thought would brighten my day. She never kept a record of whose turn it was to clean the kitchen or take out the trash. If it needed doing and she was able to do it, she would. Her way of roommate-ing blessed me in a million ways. In Dara's life, actions really do speak louder than words. Her life truly speaks.
2. So many college or amateur performers are afraid of the "rejection" they fear they will experience in professional theatre. For the talented, this fear is completely unfounded. With a bigger pond comes more opportunity! In college each semester there are limited opportunities to perform--maybe 2 or 3 at the most. But in the real world, auditions and cast lists don't have near as much weight or importance because there is always another opportunity. There is always another audition. Actors have to be confident yet humble enough to handle rejection.
3. Lizards are EVERYWHERE in Florida. Who knew?
4. Leaving college isn't so bad. Facebook helps.
5. Asians leave fitting rooms a hot mess. I'm not trying to racial profile--but seriously. I worked at a high end retail store in Orlando, FL where I encountered international tourists on virtually a daily basis. Maybe in the far east they have different etiquette regarding dressing rooms. Here in the US it's NOT ok to try 25 items on and leave the $2000 worth of clothing in a pile on the floor. NOT ok.
6. British people are the nicest, most polite on earth. I've never encountered a rude brit. We could all take a cue from their people skills. Cheers!
7. Thick skin is an incredible asset gained from having to deal with ridiculous superiors.
8. I care about politics--when I feel like it makes a difference. Hooray for election years. And go Ron Paul. Donate!
9. I can get by on not much of an income, but $10 an hour is waayyyyy less than I thought it was.
10. If you think a guy might be gay, he really might be.
11. Having your script memorized before rehearsals begin is not only impressive, it's a necessity in displaying professionalism.
12. I would really like a job with 5 digits and benefits.
13. What you hear about people--when their reputations preceed them--may not be entirely true, but it's probably mostly true.
14. Nobody can or should tell you what you CAN'T do until your potential is TRULY tapped into.
15. Sometimes people will surprise you--but sometimes they won't.
16. The end is always the beginning of something else. And it may not be precisely what you were hoping for, but it's still most likely great--it's probably all in your perspective.
17. I don't buy in wholeheartedly to "The Secret" but I DO think people can sense if you're a "yes" person or a "no" person. "Yes" people are positive, optimistic, doers. They make things happen. "No" people always find a reason/excuse that something can't be done. They're watchers. Yes people experience more positive things in life. Everyone in life is either in the audience or on the stage. And everyone DESERVES to be on the stage of their own life! Hello! I've had so many people this year tell me how much they admire that I'm "making it happen" for myself. If I can, you can too!