Other Peoples’ Kids

When I told Husband I wanted to get back into acting, I don’t think he (or even I, really) realized that would lead to 2014 being The Year of the Neverending Rehearsals. I was cast in a show early on in the year, beginning rehearsals in February, and damned if I haven’t actually had a break from rehearsals since then (three shows later, and no, there haven’t been breaks for performances because all three shows have overlapped because life). I begin new rehearsals at the end of this month, only two weeks after my current shows closes.

Because choosing the arts means a lifestyle change. Because artists are passionate and fickle and obsessive and so self-conscious that it would make even a tween cringe inside.

And it’s been crazy and fun and so anxiety-inducing that I’ve forgotten how to sleep or frankly what sleep is, instead opting to lay in bed, with the puppy snoring at my side, wondering just how we’re going to get ten clown characters in and out and back into their clown makeup with five minute breaks between scenes, one makeup palette between the entire group, and the utter idiocy of some certified makeup artist insisting upon basic corrective otherwise (oh wait, that would be me, and I’m mad at myself). [It’s my blog, I’ll run-on sentence if I want to.]

Community theatre is a weird animal. I’m just going to go ahead and say that with no segue because it’s a standalone statement that will forever and ever be true, amen. First of all, it’s entirely volunteer-based, and if it’s a city, chances are the money for set builders and stage crew and painters are extremely low, which leads to a bunch of artsy fartsy people getting together and trying to use tools and, like, measure stuff.

Barnum stage

Laughable, by the way.

But it’s rewarding in a way that semi-professional or professional theatre simply is not; you build this rapport with your fellow castmates you couldn’t have otherwise because you were hunched over a platform for several hours in the blistering heat painting everything black, because you hauled props from literally every random place props could possibly be to an outdoor theatre space,  because one night at rehearsal things were abruptly ended because the rare but indomitable Utah monsoon hit and your lights and mics went out. You went through stuff.

Because I am Lucy IRL.

Because I am Lucy IRL.

It also carries with it challenges that make you want to gouge your eyes out. See also: other peoples’ kids.

Having done two shows thus far that involved only adults and being cast in another that’s the same, I’d kind of forgotten what it was like to perform with a bunch of little humans who 1. you can’t swear in front of and 2. want to know why you’re doing what you’re doing and 3. occasionally carry with them stinky attitudes.

Scratch that — who always carry with them stinky attitudes.

The thing about theatre of any kind is that no one’s really above it. And if someone thinks he/she is above it, then either he/she is Idina Menzel or hasn’t bothered auditioning for any shows or roles deemed unworthy because ain’t nobody got time for that. And yet you get those brilliant kidlets who, for whatever reason, determine at some point during the rehearsal process that they have somehow been duped into the whole ordeal. That their initial decision (by their own volition) to audition was actually forced upon them because NO WAY would they stoop so low as to perform in the ensemble of a community theatre production.

Or maybe that’s not what they think. Maybe they think something entirely different but lack the human capabilities to express anything other than that sentiment because they’re like puppies or babies, unable to intimate their feelings, so instead they whine and cry.

My current director tells us all the time that we’re “always auditioning,” even through the rehearsal and performance process. The kidlets remain unphased. She calls them out during scenes because they’re talking or giggling or touching their hair or breaking character. They smile and keep on keeping on. They even decide to make snide comments to those around them (including me, which, go ahead honey because I can be snide all day erry day, and if you ask me “Is your cat dead yet?” one more time I WILL CUT YOU, and for pete’s sakes leave the other kids alone when their faces get red during the dance numbers because sometimes faces get red during dance numbers), and the littles take note of it. It’s like we’re breeding a generation of Regina Georges in the theatre community.

Regina George

And it gets tricky for a person like me who is child-free but still a full-fledged adult. Because do you say something? Do you just let it go? What about the underdogs who can’t stand up for themselves against kids like that? Do you just stand back and watch it happen and feel bad about the world? I know some parents who say, “I’d want to know if my child were acting like that,” but would you really, guys? I don’t think you actually would, especially from a person who refers to her cat and puppy as her children.

Other peoples’ kids, man. Other peoples’ kids.

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Hey Remember How I Used to Blog?

Here’s what happened.

I took a lead role in a community theater production over the summer, and then I basically had no free time. I worked a half-time job (I know, I’m a total wuss because I wasn’t even working full-time) and spent dozens and dozens of hours rehearsing and performing and whenever I was on the computer, I didn’t really feel like blogging.

*Because sometimes I’m just a bad person.*

And then I quit my job and went to Disney World and got sick and started makeup artistry school, and I realized my blog wasn’t going to write itself (last colloquialism of the post, I promise) and I was probably losing followers, and the last thing I need in my life is for fewer people to like me. I just really like being liked.

So.

Let me tell you about the time I auditioned for a lead role in a professional theater company because I didn’t really know what exactly a professional theater company entailed and figured it would be more or less the same as community theater, except paying (which, I mean, is sort of accurate except NOT EVEN AT ALL, I AM SUCH A MORON). So I put on a dress and did up my makeup and worked with both voice teachers on my 16-bar cut (yeah, I have two voice teachers now, no big deal) and met my best friend, K, at the theater to razzle dazzle a bunch of strangers who would either receive me well or look at me, stone-faced, and say “thank you” after I sang. And to be honest, I figured this was just my foot in the door for the production staff to start getting used to my mug.

Husband + iPhone = best headshots I've ever had. Seriously.

Husband + iPhone = best headshots I’ve ever had. Seriously.

As it turns out, they liked me well enough (see also: I’m Asian-American in Utah — but seriously the director laughed several times in all the right places, so I think they did actually like me, and it’s just an added bonus that I’m, like, the one Asian actor in the entire state) and told me, upon finishing my audition, that they’d like to see me back the following day FOR A LEAD ROLE. This was baffling to me. I thought perhaps they were confused. I left before they could change their minds.

But here’s the thing. I realized in high school, after a brief stint thinking I might end up on Broadway, that I’m a great singer, a mediocre actor (this has improved thanks to my most recent director, Andrew Hunsaker, to whom I am eternally indebted), and a bad dancer. So I changed my plans because a lot of people on Broadway dance. It’s just kind of a thing, although why I have no idea because I think singing and acting SHOULD JUST BE ENOUGH, thankyouverymuch.

And I’d auditioned for a dance-heavy show.

WHICH I realized the day of callbacks, when almost every single woman was donning a leotard and the world’s shortest skirts and dance tights and character shoes and tap shoes, and I was walking around in my H&M leggings and then sitting in the corner eating glue, waiting for my turn. And then I kind of blew it. I was funny enough and charming enough and I sang really well under the circumstances of getting over a nasty head cold I picked up in Disney World (yeah, I got sick in Disney World, how lame is that). But dancing.

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com

To be honest, if I’m at a dance or a mixer (I don’t even think those exist any more, and I don’t really have a lot of opportunity to dance these days unless I make it so, see also: the dance party I threw together post-Aida when we were breaking down the set, and by “we,” I mean the rest of the cast while I danced around holding an electric screwdriver so it looked like I was participating — I kid, I kid … that was more or less how it happened, but no one ever had anything for me to do, or perhaps they realized I’d be ultimately worthless in their attempts to go fast and just had me be guardian of the tools) then I’m not too bad. I’ve got a good sense of rhythm and I’m very bendy and limber and I can get down. But if I’m given choreography, particularly that of the fast variety, and I’m surrounded by people who know what they’re doing, I kind of freeze up and forget how to move my feet at the same time as my … everything else. And that’s what happened. I shuffled my feet around and stared very intently at the feet of the man to my left, which almost led to a collision, and I walked away feeling rather dejected.

But we’ve got the race card. And I was called back for a principal role at a professional theater on my first go around, so every once in awhile, I am struck with a false sense of hope like maybe, just maybe, I’ll make it into the show. As a set changer or something.

Something you should know and might already know if you’ve been following my blog or are my friend: I’m ridiculously impatient. Ridiculously so.

I just found out tonight that casting won’t occur for another 2-4 weeks. WEEKS. As in I will probably see at least 4 more photos of baby bumps from a couple friends. As in I could go on the Special K Challenge and lose 6 lbs. As in I could grow my hair out almost an inch. Things just HAPPEN in 2-4 weeks.

Ugh. Gross. Put me in a medically induced coma. Cryogenically freeze me. Anything to make the time pass.

Trying to Die

One time my parents were hiking, and a little boy was finishing up the trail with his mom, beleaguered, falling behind the group, when he said, “I’m trying to die, Mom.” That’s kind of become a running thing with our family because, as it turns out, we try to die a lot when it comes to anything physical.

Tonight I began non-music rehearsals, which meant I would be blocked and staged, and that sounded like a lot of fun. Naturally I wore a rayon top and pegged jeans because, I mean, what else would I wear to a rehearsal with the choreographer?

Photo courtesy of eatsleepdenim.com These are clearly not my legs because we all know I'd slip and break my head in shoes like this.

Photo courtesy of eatsleepdenim.com
These are clearly not my legs because we all know I’d slip and break my head in shoes like this.

[A backstory you should know: When I first met the choreographer, a lot of words came out of my mouth like, “If you feel like it’s appropriate to choreograph dance moves for me” and “I took African dance in college” and “I like to dance a lot.” Because … you know.]

As it turns out, the man took me seriously, which led to my learning some very brief choreography (and by brief, I mean, like, eight counts worth, which I imagine takes me about eight seconds) in my rayon top and pegged jeans, led to my being hoisted up on two dudes’ shoulders and digging my fingers into their clavicles so tightly that I imagine they were waiting for them to snap under the pressure, led to my being eternally grateful for a slow part of the song so I could catch my breath. From, you know, those eight seconds and being lifted up. Being lifted up is kind of taxing, is all I’m saying.

Photo courtesy of hancinema.net KOREANS. KOREANS DOING "AIDA".

Photo courtesy of hancinema.net
KOREANS. KOREANS DOING “AIDA”.

I’m trying to die, you guys.

My Plight

Remember that time David Archuleta sang “Imagine”? I think most people liked it, but it mostly made me want to shoot myself in the face because the Beatles are the I Ching, and frankly no one should really be covering them, especially a kid like David Archuleta. Sorry if you were in love with it; I was not.

Photo courtesy of archuletafanscene.com

Photo courtesy of archuletafanscene.com

Or have you ever heard someone cover Christina Aguilera? And you think to yourself, “Wow that person sang pretty well, but it sure wasn’t half as good as Christina” (you may as well know right now that I have a major crush on Christina’s vocal chords, and she essentially can do no wrong aside from butcher the national anthem, and I think she’s the greatest female vocalist to ever live).

Another random factoid that will truly have something to do with the rest of this somewhat muddled post: This one time I was watching an interview with Steve Carell, rather early on in his career, and he was telling whichever talk show host about how he landed the iconic role of Michael Scott. He was really excited that his agent had quite the promising role till he watched a few episodes of the original “Office” with Ricky Gervais, and then suddenly he was petrified and really didn’t want to bother going into the interview.

Photo courtesy of popwatch.ew.com

Photo courtesy of popwatch.ew.com

I mean, the guy was kind of right.

The point is: When someone has perfected something in a way it seems as though no one else can, that’s a lot of pressure on anyone who wants to replicate it. Chances are everyone will be comparing you to the original, despite any differences you may have, despite the fact that you’re performing it with your own interpretation, etc. etc. And as you can probably tell, I’m a little nervous about this whole having the lead part in a musical business because AS IT TURNS OUT, Heather Headley is magnificent.

Photo courtesy of thebroadwayblog.com

Photo courtesy of thebroadwayblog.com

My fellow lead can rest really easy because Adam Pascal was terrible as Radames.

The other issue with which I’m really grappling is that Heather Headley has different vocal chords than I do. But seriously, Black people are biologically different in the voice department than the rest of us, and without boring you with anatomy or science, the bottom line is: they’re more better. They’ll always be more better. There will never be another more better set of vocal chords. This wasn’t really proving to be much of an issue till I listened to the full soundtrack and discovered a really great Gospel/Spiritual style song, sung, of course, by Aida.

*screeching brakes*

To catch you up, I am literally the whitest non-white kid to ever walk the face of the earth. People are regularly baffled if they’ve met me over the phone first because they see me and wonder where the heck Mary is and why this random Asian chick is there in her place. I don’t speak any other languages. I don’t have any sort of distinguishing accent (unless you want to consider the lack of accent of Pacific Northwesterners to be an accent, in which case sure, fine, whatever). I can belt out the high notes just fine. But ain’t got no soul.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

Forget about it. I throw in my towel now.

Most of my friends have been extremely encouraging, telling me how I’ll be great and to not worry, but I’m pleased (no, really, I’m genuinely pleased) that two of my friends and my voice teacher all admitted that my best will still lack soul and potentially fall a little flat. I mean, it just is what it is. You get some little Asian-American adoptee from suburban Oregon, and she’s only going to be able to do so much, man.

Photo courtesy of ebay.com

Photo courtesy of ebay.com. It’s Carolina Blue, in case you were wondering.

 

The Pity Party

Guests include: The World’s Smallest Violin, Cheese and Whine, One Container of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream from the Vending Machine, and Yours Truly

BYU Creamery Ice Cream

Sometimes you just need a pity party for yourself. You just do. People will tell you to buck up or be resilient, and those are reasonable expectations for a grown-up adult who’s married and pays bills and has a Princess Fluffybutt kitty at home who relies entirely upon her to stay alive and clean.

I got a little rejection this morning — these things, they do happen, so if you’re a teenager and you think once you’re an adult or you’re married, you won’t meet the ugly face of rejection, I’m sorry to say that’s just not true. However, it won’t look like a teenage boy, which is a brilliant upside.

What makes said rejection even more depressing, however; what has forced me to throw the World’s Greatest Office Pity Party is that I am simultaneously printing, stuffing, and mailing out rejection letters to eager applicants hoping for a financial break.

Not all these are bad news, but you know. A lot of them are.

Not all these are bad news, but you know. A lot of them are.

I want to throw in a little personal note like, “But seriously, guys, I totally get it. I totally get it.”

My assumption, however, and I’m 99.9% positive that I am right in this instance (heck, I think I’m right in all instances) is that boss man would not appreciate my attempts to connect with our applicants on a more personal level. Although he is in Hawaii right now, so perhaps he’s feeling more magnanimous than usual.

Mary Auditions for a Show

Something that will seem irrelevant but actually isn’t: I started taking brain medicine awhile back (it helps the growth of a brain, so my previous 1/2 lb. brain is more regular human size — totally awesome, you guys (yes, I’m joking — there’s no way I’d have survived in this cold, hard world with a 1/2 lb. brain)), and the doctor told me, “If you miss a dosage, you’ll probably get nauseous.”

What the doctor meant: “You will be extremely nauseated for several hours. You will have a splitting headache and whenever you move any part of your body, you’ll feel like you’re on a roller coaster. It will probably ruin your entire day.”

So. I decided, after fifteen years of not being in the theater world, that I wanted to be in the theater world. I looked things up online, I found a 16-bar cut of one of my most favorite songs, I practiced practiced practiced, and I showed up, Friday night, armed with a headshot and resume all ready to wow them.

"Don't take a picture that looks like I'm looking down, honey.""Okay, yeah, thanks for standing up."

“Don’t take a picture that looks like I’m looking down, honey.”
“Okay, yeah, thanks for standing up.”

And then — as a complete surprise to me — I did wow them. They told me they’d “have me back,” although they left it at that, which made me wonder when they’d have me back and what precisely that meant.

I found out, the following morning at 9:30 am, that they’d have me back at 10:00 am and that I’d be singing and dancing.

But as luck would have it, I’d missed my brain medicine the day before. It was an accident, I certainly hadn’t intentionally skipped it (you know, brain regrowth and all), and having never done that before was unprepared for the slew of bad things that were going to be flung at me. It was in the car, on my way to the theater, that I started to feel the effects.

By the time I arrived and was sitting, armed with music I was learning right then, I felt like I was going to collapse at any given minute and thusly embarrass the crap out of myself. I thought maybe I’d need to lay down and die for awhile. There was no out.

By the time we needed to head into an already warm, sticky, smelly dance room, I really wondered what might happen. After all, there was that whole feeling like I was on a roller coaster thing, and the effects had increased to the point that I couldn’t even move my eyes around without feeling a little woozy. Fact: You gotta move your eyes, even though you think maybe you don’t. And I couldn’t exactly fess up at this point and say, “Yeah, so I’m a grown adult who forgot to take her meds yesterday and instead of finish this callbacks audition, I think I’m going home to die now.” So I trudged forth. The dance routine had spins. It had a lot of spins. And we practiced that dance routine for about a solid hour — spinning and spinning and spinning.

Aside from my nausea/dizziness/headache/vertigo, I also came to a horrible realization. I wasn’t merely a lousy dancer. I was, quite literally, the worst dancer in the entire room. I could perhaps chalk that up to my aforementioned symptoms, but when it really boils down to it, a girl needs time to rehearse 24 dance steps that will be performed in cut time. By my actual audition/evaluation, I’d already hit a plateau and then started to regress. I couldn’t remember how to walk. I didn’t know my name or where I was from. I think I had a horrified smile plastered on my face.

GIF courtesy of thisepiscopallife.tumblr.com

GIF courtesy of thisepiscopallife.tumblr.com

I just spun. And sashayed. And, okay, to be perfectly honest, KILLED the arabesque. I could arabesque all day. Might arabesque right now.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.comI think if I'd worn something softy and flowy, I would have been better.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
I think if I’d worn something softy and flowy, I would have been better.

I somehow made it home, although I was tempted to just sit in the driver’s seat of my car outside the theater and call Husband to get someone to tow me home, where I could sit in the driver’s seat of my car outside our home till he got home. I took my brain meds. I ate some food. I watched “The Following” for three solid hours till I was pretty certain that there are way worse things than ill side effects of medication. Like, there could be a serial killer after you.

And after several hours, I finally felt more like my normal self. That night I received an email from the theater saying they’d like to offer the part of “Ensemble – dancer” to me, which proves they’ve got one heck of a sense of humor. Because dancer I am not. But I can ensemble with the best of them.