Sunday, June 28, 2009

Serial box

In which our Diva steps into a new medium

For six weeks this summer, from the end of July to the beginning of September, I will be a regular cast member on a TV series. It's a sitcom (title TBA), created by a grad student for Frequency TV, the on-campus and online station run by the TV department at Columbia College. And even though it's only six episodes, and isn't a multi-million-dollar production with a network pickup, I'm ridiculously excited.

There's a very simple reason for that: I love TV. It seems like a weird thing for an actor to say, but it's true. As an audience member, I love television more than I love movies, and... well, differently from the way I love theatre. Inside -- and not too far from the surface -- I'm still the little kid who lived through every week in delicious anticipation of what would happen next to Jaime Sommers or Wonder Woman or the Doctor and his companion. Heck, when the BBC revived Doctor Who in 2005, that little kid was right there on the surface.

A handful of times in my life, I've been so impressed/energized/inspired by an actor's performance that I had to tell them so in an actual ink-on-paper fan letter. Almost all of those actors were on TV series, adding new pieces every week to characters who grabbed me for one reason or another. At any given time, there are three or four series running that I will not miss. At the top of that list right now is In Plain Sight. It's an exception for me -- the number-one slot is almost always occupied by a sci-fi or fantasy show -- but Mary Shannon is a heroine tailor-made to hook me in, with a heart of gold, will of iron, tongue of snark, and a full subscription of thorny personal issues. If someone asked me the old-standby interview question about my dream role, that would be it: A character like Mary, or Vicki Nelson, or Sam Carter, or Sara Pezzini.

And while the quirky office manager on a six-week sitcom might not seem to have much in common with those world-saving ladies, it's my chance to taste the creative side of a mode of storytelling dear to my heart. To live with a character over time, in a story that keeps going.

All of which is my very wordy way of saying "Wheeeeeee!"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Glad for my dad!

Happy Fathers' Day to the wonderful man who taught me to fix stuff in the process of teaching himself, opened doorways of books and TV and movies to worlds of amazing imagination (and delightful cheese), answered questions with "look it up," and laughed and loved and always believed in me.

For him and all the dads out there, have a fantastic day!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June is bustin' out all over

In which our Diva is getting her ducks in a row (as soon as they stop swimming on her lawn)

Hey, what's that shiny round thing in the sky? *g* I was joking on Facebook yesterday about building an ark, and an old college friend pointed out that God promised never again to make it rain for 40 days and 40 nights, but nobody said anything about 39. Thankfully, it was only about five. And the thunderstorms yesterday were spectacular! There's just something about them that always makes me happy.

Plenty going on, but mostly continuations of stuff I've already blogged about. Tonight is my maiden voyage as a "Ghost Host" for Historic Ghost Tours of Naperville, and I've been stuffing my head with the facts and fancy of the town's hauntings. Still need to shop for good sturdy summer walking shoes -- really don't have anything right now that will take me through the season.

Earlier in the week I updated the photo gallery on my website, including blast-from-the-past theatre pics and stills from recent film projects. I've been meaning to scan some old photos, both professional and personal, for ages and ages, and it was fun to finally get around to it. Of the theatre ones, I think my favorite has to be the Witches goofing off in the dressing room before a performance of Macbeth at Rosebriar Shakespeare Company in 1994. Good times, man. The headshots I added are still in the proof stage, but I'll have my shiny new marketing materials in hand in the next couple weeks, and then it'll be time to get some more agent mailings out.

We've now had a table read and some great discussion for One Night, and I'm grooving on the way Sebastian, the writer/director, thinks and works. There are plans in the works for at least one actual rehearsal of my scene before we shoot in July, which marks the second time I've had that luxury with a film. (The first was The Storm, which really couldn't have done without it since so much of the interaction was nonverbal.) He's also keeping the actors filled in on the business plan for his production company, which I've never run into before, and which really makes me feel like I'm getting in on the ground floor of something special that could really go somewhere. I know there are no guarantees, but for now, there's a great energy in that. Giving life to Sheila the waitress is that much more awesome when I can feel how excited everyone is about this project and where it could go.

Meanwhile, on the singing end, things are coming together for Elgin Opera's Summer Music Festival, which promises to be a great time. It's an ambitious undertaking -- a different concert each weekend throughout July -- and it comes hard on the heels of the annual voice competition (which I decided not to do this year after all -- too much stuff going on, and still transitioning into bigger lyric soprano rep, so I just wasn't going to be ready). I'll be checking out the finals next weekend with an ear on the musical theatre numbers, to help plan the Broadway Night program. The website and Facebook page will be updated soon with more details on the July concerts and master classes.

Oh, one more thing: I won't be performing at this year's World of Faeries festival, but I did promise I'd ask around. It's a fun time, and I still say my best review to date was the small child last year who declared that "some of them are just pretending, but the purple fairy is real!" They're looking to cast a couple dozen interactive performers, so if you're in the Chicago area and think you might be interested, drop me a line and I'll get you in touch with the guy you need to talk to.

Back to studying spooks!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pause for breath

The first subject line I typed up there was "Holding pattern," but then I realized that was silly, because things are still moving and growing every day. I think maybe I'm just so used to the pace now that even a slight pause feels like a thudding halt, like I'm slacking off. F'rinstance, an evening off to finish reading the shiny new book I drove to Toronto last weekend to have signed by a longtime favorite author. (And spend a few hours hanging out in the friendliest of bookstores -- seriously, if you're on Queen West and you read SF/fantasy at all, BakkaPhoenix is an absolute MUST -- gabbing with a gaggle of fellow fans/friends, munching on strawberries and cookies, and generally having a fabulous geeky time.)

Fabulous fun book. Will make you crave pie. Consider yourself warned.

Auditions all over the map this week: Student films, musical theatre, and storyteller/guide for haunted walking tours. One of these things is not like the others, I know. But hey, not going to turn my nose up at a paid gig that's also a bit of exercise and good spooky fun. Which is good, since I got the call today, so that'll be where you find me at least an evening or two a week through October.

And whaddya know, there's a video about it on YouTube, hosted by none other than my friend Mary!

I've got myself pretty well trained at this point to think of the audition as a performance in itself -- best way I've found to be done with it and not dwell on whether they're going to call me, what they were looking for, etc. I have to confess, though, I'm still thinking about the one last night for Man of La Mancha. Not second-guessing myself -- they're looking for what they're looking for, they'll know it when they see it, and I'm that or I'm not, so I give my best and that's it -- but definitely hoping to hear back. I love that show so much, and I like everything I've heard about this company. Promises to be a nice long run, too -- their current production of Evita has even been extended.

The cure for that is, of course, to keep the brain occupied with other things. Going to curl up and finish that book in a few minutes here. And in the next day or two, I should have the updated script for the film I'll be shooting in July, so I can prep for rehearsal on Sunday.

What film is that, you say? Yeah, I know, bad blogger, no cookie. It's an indie feature called One Night, of the genre that I call "postmodern romantic comedy," for lack of a better/standardized label (or at least I've never heard one) for films like Chasing Amy or Garden State. I originally read for one of the leads, and wasn't really holding my breath that anything would come of it, so I was delighted when they contacted me to offer a different character that's going to be a lot of fun. Can't wait to meet the rest of the cast Sunday and start building!

My life: It does not suck.