Sunday, November 22, 2009

Or not

In which our Diva is a bit under the weather

I've been excited to get back to Villa Verone for the Festival of Singers, but I'm going to have to wait a little longer, as the flu has caught up with me. :-(

My initial response was to be bummed about the timing. But on the other hand, if I'm going to get it (and pretty much everyone is right now -- if not "THE" flu, at least a flu), there's no such thing as a good time, and this is actually way better than a lot of times. There are several wonderful singers still on tonight's program, and I'm still scheduled to sing on December 13. (We're skipping a couple weeks due to other events at the restaurant.)

So today I settle in with hot liquids, warm blankets, and fun TV, and put my energy into getting back on my feet. All the better to give them my best at upcoming auditions!

Song for today: "Moonfall" from The Mystery of Edwin Drood, because it's ridiculously beautiful and I don't get to sing it tonight. (Pardon the background restaurant noise; I couldn't find a linkable pro recording that I liked, so you get my little digital recorder at Villa Verone last summer instead.) It's fun to mention when introducing it that it was written by Rupert Holmes, the guy who did "The Pina Colada Song" in the 1970s. People are always full of surprises!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Return to Festival of Singers

In which our Diva hopes she still remembers how to sing

What with all the pride and the prejudice, it's been a while since I showed my face at Villa Verone for Elgin Opera's weekly "Festival of Singers" cabaret. I'll be back this Sunday, November 22, and also December 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. It's a great, relaxed atmosphere complete with to-die-for Italian food and free live music. What more could you want? Reservations are recommended; call (847) 742-0263.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Video diary: Pride and Prejudice

In which our Diva chronicles ringlets, Bennet sisters rocking out, and meat-on-a-stick

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What I'm into right now

In which our Diva has some recommendations

See: The Men Who Stare at Goats. Every time I saw a trailer or commercial, I said "I have to see that movie." I was prepared to be disappointed, because what lives up to its trailer these days? This does. Funny and earnest and irreverent and poignant and crazy in the best possible way. I don't know if they set out to make a modern-day Don Quixote on purpose, but they succeeded brilliantly.

Read: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. If you didn't know that you find a lot of the best fantasy in the YA section these days, this is a great way to find out. I picked it up totally at random because the cover design caught my eye and the jacket blurb held it. I'm a sucker for even halfway decent Victorian gothic; this is that and so much more. Not least of which is a refreshing break from the relentless tyranny of the romance. Sure, there's a boy, but he's far from the center of the (wonderfully realized) heroine's universe. The friendship of girls, in all its fierceness and flaws, is what it's all about. I just picked up the second book the other day, and can't wait to start it.

Listen: Lili Haydn. I pulled out her self-titled debut album for the first time in a while last weekend -- after the (fabulous!!) Emilie Autumn concert whetted my appetite for rebellious violin -- and fell in love with it all over again. "Stranger" particularly rocks my world.

Eat: Four-cheese mezzaluna with sausage at the Olive Garden. Grab it before it goes away. OMG.

Watch: Dollhouse, before it goes away too. I'm still surprised it got a second season, but thankful. Perfect it ain't, for a million and one reasons, but it's never been less than interesting, and occasionally brilliant. Joss Whedon isn't really God, but he and his team tell a mighty fine story nonetheless, and I for one will miss it. (Also, it's possible I have a wee bit of a girlcrush on Miracle Laurie.)

Come and see: Public reading of The Last Daughter of Oedipus at Prop Thtr in Chicago this Saturday. Final sneak preview of this fantastic new play before it opens Babes With Blades' next season, with wailing (where there is Jocasta, there must be wailing), grim determination, a few laughs, and of course snacks and a talkback. And did I mention it's free?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"No" list update

In which our Diva wasn't going to post any further on this topic, but must express her relief

When I posted the "No" list, naming industry professionals who had made public statements indicating that the petition to release Roman Polanski did not speak for them, I deliberately did not comment upon any particular individual who had chosen to sign it. While I remain dismayed that it exists, and that its position is seen to represent the film industry as a whole, the simple truth is that I do not know these people, and I cannot know their individual reasons for signing.

I personally cannot imagine putting my name on a statement unless I agree with everything it says, but that's a choice. Another perfectly valid choice is, for example, to support a statement because you want the outcome it is intended to achieve, even if you don't necessarily agree with the entirety of the position as stated. And there could be a hundred other reasons I know nothing about. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, for their own reasons; it's only when they're in a position to force that opinion on others that we run into trouble.

None of which kept me from feeling like I'd been kicked in the gut the day I read that Emma Thompson's name had appeared on the petition. If I had to name a single favorite who inspires me as an actress, she's it. I took a deep breath, reminded myself of everything above, and moved through my day with that ache in my stomach.

Caitlin Hayward-Tapp didn't stop there. She's a regular at the consistently inspiring feminist blog Shakesville, and she decided to make full use of that resource, and of an upcoming opportunity to meet Ms. Thompson at a conference, to ask that she reconsider.

Long story short, she succeeded. And it is with a frankly embarrassing amount of relief and encouragement that I have updated the list this morning with Emma Thompson's name.

I'm not in love with the celebrity culture we live in, but we're pretty stuck with it. Various sociological studies have indicated that it seems to be human nature. And even those of us who roll our eyes at it -- at breathless, mindless adoration and TMZ scandal-mongering alike -- aren't always immune to feeling things personally when we have no rational business doing so.

And so, to Emma Thompson, who does not know me from Eve and has no obligation to care, I send out my thanks. For remembering that what we do in the public eye has effects we can't predict or even always see, and taking responsibility for them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fury, shade, priestess

In which our Diva trades in Austen for Sophocles

I've been missing the ever-awesome Babes With Blades something fierce lately. There's been so much crazy in the last couple years (starting not too long after I had the privilege and fun of acting with them in Horror Academy, come to think of it), and every time they invite me to a workshop or fight jam I always have something else already booked.

This time, when the call came, I had the chance to answer in the affirmative, and I grabbed it! Ensemble member Jennifer Mickelson (one of my HA buds!) has been honing and refining her play The Last Daughter of Oedipus through the Babes' New Plays Development Program, and I get to be part of it! I'll be playing Tisiphone (one of the Furies), Jocasta (!!!), and a priestess of Apollo in a staged reading next Saturday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m. The public is very much welcome to join us for this exciting sneak preview before the play has its full production in the fall of 2010.

Jo-freakin'-CASTA, people. My little classical-theatre heart is going pitter-pat! Jen has done amazingly cool things with all the story threads Sophocles left lying about. If you're in Chicago, you really must come check it out!

Song for today: Rose Red, by Emilie Autumn. Because I'm celebrating my big four-oh at her concert tomorrow night, and that's the song that started it all.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Overheard behind the scenes of Pride and Prejudice

I had no idea what a big deal Darcy was. I put it on my Facebook status, and five minutes later there were comments from sixteen women saying "I'm so there!"
-- They do know we're not dunking you in the pond, right?

That is just what I say.
-- But a great deal shorter.


I come on soon as a young military officer. Get Kitty all hot for me. Not sure how I'm going to pull that off.

I hope, ma'am, that a mistrage for my parsonage...

Actually, I guess I'm the heel, but whatever.

If you'd just put yourself out there. Like me.
-- Yeah. To everyone.

I don't want to ruin Darcy's entrance.
-- No, don't do that.

Self-esteem, on the other hand -- hey, this is very important!

Is he not the most something sort of man you ever met?
-- No. Where are we?

How to end a party: Invite Mary to make a speech.

From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, why are you walking away from me?
-- Nobody respects Dad.

And bow. And then the whole dance repeats.
-- *collective groan*
-- You and your damned balls!

Winnie-the-Pooh, XXX version.

Put the 'R' in the jar.

Mr. Bingley. Mr. Collins. Jane Bennet. Charlotte Lucas.
-- Double rubber!

I wasn't here.
-- I have a line on 42. I wasn't anywhere.
-- I have a rock.

What's your line before you talk about me?
-- Depends on whether I get it. It might be "Line."

Escape from Netherfield. It's going to be a Michael Bay film.

Isn't the stink-eye Darcy's default?
-- He made that face and it really froze that way.
-- His mother told him that would happen.

What about the swan? Moo?

The company was delighted to dance.
-- *wrong music*
-- But not to that.

Hey, baby, wanna go out in the back of my high-perched phaeton?

Except you have opposite feet, Larry. Your feet are different than Emily's.
-- Yeah. They're much bigger.

We're sacrificing you to the Jane Austen gods.

What's in a Tom Collins? Vodka and...?
-- Something.

How many drugs do you do?
-- None at all, surprisingly.
-- You should start.

I'm not going to get into a theological debate with you.
-- Not on the Sabbath, in a church. I mean, not any time, but especially that.

Courtney's sick! Don't touch her!
-- You mean I can't poke her like that?
-- *cough*
-- Apparently not.

There are refreshments over there.
-- You baked?
-- I heated.

Since we haven't done the opening in about a year...

Come Liz-- um, what's your name-- Come, Kitty!
-- Now you know she's a mother.

We follow you upstairs and downstairs and upstairs and downstairs.
-- But at no time are you in my lady's chamber. What's up with that?

She's Eeyore!
-- And Lydia is Tigger. The De-Bouncing of Lydia.
-- Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, flirt-flirt-flirt-flirt-flirt.

And Mr. Darcy, of course. As long as he does not use that particular finger to rub his eye.

My infections are unchanged.

People who bring donuts on Saturday will be well loved.
-- On Sunday.
-- Well, Sunday is food too...

No yawning! There's no yawning in theatre.

What are you thinking? What will you look like when you get there?
-- Well, I won't be fit to be seen...

It's the same. Netherfield, but muddier.

Lovely. Now do it without upstaging yourself.
-- D'oh!

"Double rubber" is one of those lines you really don't want to take out of context.
-- It sounds like very, very safe sex.

Style in the aisle!

I see London, I see France, I see Val's...
-- Jeans.

Larry you need to move more than your head. You look like a chicken.
-- You're not a bobblehead doll.

It looks like a Simpsons couch trip.


Vahstly, vahstly, VAHSTLY happy to oblige you.

What happened?
-- I don't know.
-- Did you take a wrong turn at Albuquerque?
-- Apparently this was Chris' solo.
-- So the answer to "Can you chew gum and dance at the same time...?"

I am never getting up again. I am going to replace my entire living room with these. And possibly my bed.

The militia regiment was a recent arrival in the neighborhood, and was to remain in Meryton the whole winter.
-- Okay.

Right now it's a little threatening, like "I'm gonna get you! And your little dog too!"
-- To the moon, Elizabeth!

Eee! Eee!
-- And suddenly Kitty is a monkey.

I get to go in front of you!
-- Are you a married woman?

The topiaries are most seriously displeased.

...and you must go in second, because I am a married woman.
-- Okay.

Don't I run away? With joy?

Everybody's very unhappy with my butt.

Kitty and I are going to sit in my dressing room. Or dress in my sitting room.

When sugar is the cause and the solution to your problems, life's pretty good.