30 July, 2010

A Weekend of Solitude

Warm greetings friends.

I write to you from a idyllically quaint cabin in Princeton, West Virginia.

And ok, the cabin to the left isn't exactly the one I'm staying in but listen-it's not a a far cry. This place is enchanting. I thought the picture was pretty. And when I googled West Virginia that's what I found.

This cabin is on loan to me for the weekend.

I’m using the time and inspiringly beautiful surroundings to pray, think, and write.

And funny, without other people and much in the way of distractions I’m quite ready for bed at 10:26 pm. ☺

Since I last checked in I’ve been in Lynchburg with a 2-day jaunt to Raleigh. There I met Andrea McArdle who is hilariously living across the breezeway from my recently-relocated Grandma. Andrea is a Broadway star who originated that little ditty “Tomorrow.” (Yes, she was the original ‘Annie’ in 1977.) Because she is being considered to play the role of Miss Hannigan in next year's revival of 'Annie' on the Bway she's doing a little 2 week test run of the part at North Carolina Theatre. (Lucky little regional theatre!) On my way (literally) out of town I actually got to meet her and found her quite lovely. She signed a cd for me “love and luck, andrea.” She indeed was lovely and I indeed felt lucky to meet her. It was cool. See the Today show piece on Andrea here.

This past week I’ve been transcribing a textbook my dad is writing and I’ve spent a good deal of time reconnecting with friends who cycle in and out of Lynchburg. There is no more transient town than this one. Kind of an odd place to live.

I finally bought a domain name so I’ve been working perfectionist-like hours trying to make it look somewhat appealing.

I’ve also been reading a lot about writing. And I just bought a biography of a most fascinating 20th century travel writer named Freya Stark. Freya was a single British woman in the 1950’s who spent her life discovering Middle Eastern culture and receiving the ever-present raised-eyebrow at her audacity. I love that!

This weekend my focus is on solitude and the clarity that can be generated from it. I can’t help but feel a little Walden-esque here so I leave with you a Thoreau quote of course:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” –Henry David Thoreau

20 July, 2010

A few pics from XOXO Gossip Girl

The only photos I got were of my wardrobe/hair/makeup, etc. I guess you'll have to tune in to the new season to see more!

18 July, 2010

I went to New York and ended up on Gossip Girl.

What. A. Week.

Where to start?

I arrived in New York on Sunday and then I promptly ran into Zach Braff. I wanted to tell him how much I appreciate his film “Garden State” and how it encapsulates a year of college for me but we passed briefly in Union Square and in that moment all I could do was gasp. No words really. Maybe he’ll google himself and find this post.

Moving on…

Monday: I attended 2 auditions. They went well even though I feel a little audition-rusty. That first audition after a job ends is always a little depressing. Back to this again. Oh that’s how the accompaniment goes. Oh yeah. Oy.

Tuesday: I already told you about wandering around and the deep thoughts and the William Zinnser quote.

Wednesday: I attended another audition-this time for Phantom of the Opera. I basically auditioned for the company that produces the Broadway production and the touring production. As I was waiting in line to get into the Equity building at 7 AM I had a flashback to my Junior year of college when my boyfriend at the time and I were on the internet and happened across an audition for the Broadway production of Phantom. I remember talking about how awesome it would be to ever actually go to an audition like that. 4 years later I was there. Standing in the rain. It was kinda full circle and kinda cool.

Thursday: I was an extra (background actor) on Gossip Girl! Not a joke! We filmed a party scene on the sidewalk outside of the Diane Von Furstenberg store in Chelsea on 14th Street and 9th Avenue. It was a pretty thrilling and fascinating experience. So interesting and SO boring simultaneously. From around 11 PM until 1 AM I was going bonkers a bit since I was merely standing around. The first few hours of filming were interesting as I was watching the production assistants control the crowds, the director choose shots, the stand-ins pose for camera angles, Diane Von Furstenberg appear for less than 5 minutes for a cameo. It was amazing seeing the hair and wardrobe the stars wore. It was hilarious to be fussed over by hair and wardrobe people myself. I was standing on set at one point and a hair stylist was brushing my hair—as if I was SOMEONE! (hilarious.)

One of the craziest aspects of the experience was that we were filming on a street in Chelsea so paparazzi and fans clamored at the barriers. At one point there was a mad frenzy of photographers attempting to snap pictures of Ed Westwick. I was on set standing opposite them so I saw the entire scene from the celebrity’s point of view. It was mind-boggling. What is it like to get THAT much attention? Strangers screaming your name and trying to take pictures of you? I can barely imagine. It’s not the kind of attention I would ever ask for. Weird, weird, weird.

Oh also, Ed Westwick looked great and was in a gorgeous suit. Maybe he was just in character or maybe he’s really tired of Gossip Girl but he was brooding nonstop. I stood near him during one shot and the only thing I heard him say was (in his ridiculously delicious British accent) “It’s hot as f*%!”

It must be so hard being him.

Friday: I shopped around town and bought some incredible earrings at a market in Soho. I also got to see Bernadette Peters star in “A Little Night Music.” Is it too dramatic to say her performance changed my life? It might have. I WEPT as she sang “Send in the Clowns.” If you have an opportunity to go to New York before December and see a beautiful piece of theatre GO SEE “A Little Night Music.” If you’re not into the art of theatre it may not be for you. It’s really a brilliant piece of commentary on relationships and it’s sung and acted ravishingly. I wish you’d go.

A very poignant line from the play is said by Frederik to Desiree when he chooses not to be with her against his better judgment:

“I’m sorry. I never should have come. To flirt with rescue when one has no intention of being saved…Do try to forgive me.”

How heartbreaking.

* * *

New York weeks are infinitely MORE than weeks other places. MORE exciting, MORE wonderful, MORE terrible, MORE fascinating, MORE intense. This week (luckily) was primarily MORE fantastic. While getting back into the grind of auditioning can be a bit overwhelming, I found myself inspired to live life with more vigor just by walking along the sidewalks of that city. Getting to observe the goings-on of filming a scene of “Gossip Girl” was fascinating and witnessing a paramount performance by Bernadette Peters was inspiring to the point that I couldn’t shout my applause for her during the curtain call because I was too moved. What a wonderful week in a wonderful city. What a wonderful life.

17 July, 2010

13 July, 2010

Having Faith in One's Own Sense of Direction

Today has been a glorious day of solitude in Manhattan. I slept in and was forced to stay in hibernation until the rain let up around 2 pm. I ventured down to Starbucks on 16th and 1st and enjoyed a bagel and coffee and perusing the (now free!) internet. After that I wandered over to Union Square and pawed through all the fashions at Forever 21 while simultaneously making mental notes of the fashions on the bodies around me. I worked my way over the square to Barnes and Noble and continued to people watch and look at books. I picked up 2 on writing and decided to investigate their prices on Amazon.com before purchasing. I saved $10 by doing that bit of research. Yeah! I ventured on to Sephora, Chipotle, Strand Bookstore and then finally Crumbs. Talk about some of my favorite establishments.

Bookstores always remind me of how much I don't know. And remind me how much knowledge there is that I'm dying to learn. I want to read about starting my own business, cooking, travel writing, new media, memoirs, Shakespeare, foreign languages, classics that I missed out on during school. There is so much more to know, yall.

And I'm reminded when I'm in this city that there is a great big world out there that I don't know anything about. There are languages to learn. Continents to visit. People to meet. I have this insatiable desire to explore.

I am currently reading this book "Writing About Your Life" (which I know sounds narcissistic) by William Zinnser (but really! here's the justification) 1. My favorite books are memoirs. 2. Zinnser's other book "On Writing Well" is one of my faves! Anyway this is a portion of an essay reprinted in "Writing About Your Life" that Zinnser wrote for a column in 1967 pleading for the right to fail--'one of the few freedoms America doesn't grant its citizens, especially its young people':

"We need mavericks and dreamers and dissenters far more than we need junior vice presidents, but we paralyze them by insisting that every step be a step up to the next rung of the ladder. Yet often the only way for boys and girls to find their proper road is to take a hundred side trips, poking out in different directions, faltering, pulling back and starting again.
'But what if we fail?' they ask, whispering the dreaded word across the generation gap to their parents, back in the Establishment. The parents whisper back, 'Don't!'
What they should say is: 'Don't be afraid to fail.' Failure isn't the end of the world. Countless people have had a bout of failure and come out stronger as a result. Many have even come out famous. History is strewn with eminent dropouts, loners who followed their own trail, not worrying about its unexpected twists and turns because they had faith in their own sense of direction. To read their biographies is exhilarating, not only because they beat the system but because their system was better than the one they beat."

Long live side trips.

11 July, 2010

The Curious Tale of the Soccer Cheerleaders (and Their Ardant Admirer)

I can picture it vividly. In fact, it may be one of my earliest memories. I remember sitting in the bleachers at the Donelson-Hermitage YMCA in 1988. I was a forced fan of my older sister’s soccer team. (Now the thought of 5-year-olds “playing soccer” sounds kind of hilarious to me.) The team was in large part male-dominated but the Sutton clan believed in learning the value of the “team sport” early—before other girls even started playing I guess. I, being a mere 3-years-old, was no avid sports fan and had no real interest in joining the other kids in either running the field or kicking the ball. I did however light up one day when I heard the announcement that the soccer team would be acquiring a squad of cheerleaders to root on the home team. I have some distant memory that perhaps the parents were just looking for another activity to engage the siblings of the players on the team. Soccer cheerleaders. Now as an adult I realize at that time I had never heard of soccer cheerleaders and I’ve never since heard tell of them but all I wanted in 1988 was to be one. These girls ran out to the fields in beautiful costumes (in sports they’re known as “uniforms”) and got to do a show for the crowd! What’s not to love? To admire? To utterly die to be a part of?
Now it might have been the idiocy of “soccer cheerleaders” or the fact that I was but 3 or that I was never properly invited but I did not become a soccer cheerleader that year.
The snapshot in my brain is of the soccer cheerleaders running by skirt pleats flying in the breeze. One such cheerleader spots the look of longing in my barely non-toddler eyes and exclaims to me “You’re so lucky you’re not wearing this! I’m freezing to death!”
In that moment, all I wanted in my 3-year-old world was to be freezing to death three pleats to the wind.
Not only did those girls get to perform and look cute doing it but they were doing something together! They were all focused on the same goal. They were really a part of something. I’ll never forget longing to be a part of something.
22 years later that same. feeling. crept up in me again!

It was the day of the first dress rehearsal for Grease.


As you may or may not know I spent February-June at the Wohlfhart Haus Dinner Theatre in Wytheville, VA. I originally signed a contract to play “Liesl” in “The Sound of Music.” In those days I was applying for arts marketing internships in Washington D.C. for the summer. I had every intention of playing that amazing role in that amazing show and moving on to start a career off stage. What I didn’t plan on was being turned down flat by the theatre companies to which I applied. (All of them.) So I looked for my next best possible employment. I auditioned for Grease at WHDT—the show next on deck to be produced. After giving (and this is by no means an exaggeration) my WORST audition attempt ever I somehow got lucky and was cast to cover the role of Patty for the 2nd half of the run. So after SOM closed I attended rehearsals for Grease even though I wouldn’t be performing with the cast for an additional month.

Ok back to dress rehearsal. All the women in the cast were getting ready to perform “Beauty School Dropout.” You may know that in this dream sequence the girls wear exaggerated salon gear that is reminiscent of Vegas showgirls: headpieces adorned with curlers that add a foot in height, shiny white capes trimmed with feathers. It’s dramatic and a bit silly.

But what wasn’t silly to me was this strange longing to wear this costume. As I sat in the audience and saw my fellow cast members all looking strangely alike wearing the same thing I had a flashback to the soccer field. I just wanted to be a part of it. I felt like one might run by me and say: “You’re so lucky you’re not wearing this! I’m freezing to death!” Perhaps illogical, I felt transported to 1988. 3 years old. Not cold. And dying to be.

Maybe that’s a really universal sensation. Or maybe it’s that longing that draws the unique and colorful to a life in the theatre. I remember the moment that I actually and finally DID get to put that most disgusting costume on (it was made of shower curtains and I don’t know if you know this—shower curtains do. not. breathe!) and I felt so privileged to do so. I felt like I was a part of something. A team. A cause. A show. I felt grateful to be performing, grateful to be delighting an audience, and grateful to be alive.

09 July, 2010

Heading to the city that never sleeps on Sunday by way of the nation's capital. The anticipation is killing me!!!

To Do List:

Go to some auditions--I've got 4 that I'd like to hit.
Eat Crumbs Cupcake while watching the puppies in the Union Square dog park (never gets old).
Attend Broadway in Bryant Park (free entertainment and free suntan!)
Catch up with a passel of friends--many of my most inspiring friends live in NYC--it attracts those types.
Eat Chipotle and Cosi.
Be stimulated and pushed to be better just by walking down the street.

More later...

01 July, 2010

Casting Little Women? Wanting to know what I did with my days off last week? Neither? Read on!

Last week I had the joy of performing "Some Things Are Meant to Be" with one of my best friends Selah Grace. Little Women is one of my favorite musicals, favorite books and is the story of one of my 2 favorite literary heroines: Jo March (do you know who the other one is?)

I'm ending my time in Wytheville on Sunday and it is bittersweet in a hundred ways. What a joy it's been to perform these shows and to meet people who have made such an impression on my heart. Time is always chugging along and chapters are meant to end so you can get to the next one. As I've mentioned before I feel change so deeply in my soul. It aches in me. This song is a beautiful representation of the sweetness that this experience has been to me.

Life in the theatre is both tragic and joyous. Nothing lights my soul ablaze like a meaningful performance. And the performances always end. Shows close and new shows open. May we never stop telling stories that touch and inspire hearts.