Thursday, December 8, 2011

And a Christmas Show to Finish the Year...

I was fortunate enough to be selected to sing in the Chrismas show at the theater at which I did a couple of AMAZING shows this year..."Bye Bye Birdie!" this past spring, and "Children of Eden" this fall.  All of the "adults" in the show were in the cast of "Eden", so it was AWESOME to not have to say goodbye, quite yet, to some of them.

"Fortunate" is a relative term, however, as we had FIVE rehearsals to memorize seven ensemble numbers, a solo, and blocking for the entire show.  I was the only tenor, so NO PRESSURE THERE...  It was intense, but I think it went WELL!

Here's a shot of the six of us performing one of our numbers...

Me, Peggy, Pat, Kim, Annie, and Joe

The week of my birthday was "tech week", and there were a couple of REALLY rough "run throughs" of some of the songs (especially the ones for which we got the music the Saturday BEFORE), but we PULLED IT OFF!

Here's our version of "Where Are You Christmas?"...

I also managed to re-memorize "Strange Way to Save the World" (I sang it in the Christmas show three years earlier).  Except for a "hairball" in the middle, it went pretty well....

It was a REALLY fun show, with some REALLY great people, and I REALLY enjoyed performing in it!

Here are some shots from after the show...

A "final" shot of Peg and me"!!!

Duane and me!!!!

Here's hoping YOU had a chance to experience something recently that got YOU in the Christmas spirit!!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Birthday Celebration!

I'm a little behind in my blogging!  Even though the show is over, I've still managed to be overwhelmingly busy.  I went right from "Eden" into the Ashland Christmas show, so had two weeks to learn the nine ensemble numbers that we did, and memorize my solo.  I'll post more about the Christmas show in my next entry, but wanted to write a quick note about my birthday...

I turned 47 (gasp!) on November 30th, and Duane and I went out for pizza at Italian Pie Shoppe.  I wanted a low key, mellow celebration (after the last few months of crazy), and it was delightful!  Duane and my sister were in "cahoots" to surprise me with her and my nieces waiting for me at the restaurant, and it was AWESOME!  I walked in, and there were the three of them, waiting to sing (really embarrassingly loudly) to me as I walked in.

We had a FABULOUS smorgasbord of pizza, caught up (I hadn't seen the girls since before Thanksgiving), and Duane even managed to bake and bring a cherry pie (my birthday cake of choice for the last six or seven years) to the restaurant.  (TOTALLY CUTE ASIDE...I came home from rehearsal last Monday to the smell of burnt popcorn.  I didn't think anything of it, until Robin told me at the restaurant that Duane burnt the popcorn to hide the smell of the pie that he'd baked earlier that CUTE is he??!!!!!!).

Here are some shots from the FABULOUS, FABULOUS celebration:



My "London/Paris/Roam" shirt from Amy!!!

A "chicken fan" from mom and dad!!!!

CHERRY PIE!!!!!!!!

The "co-conspirators" doing the Shepherd HIGH FIVE!!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to enjoy a lovely celebration/surprise recently too!!!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Children of Eden"...FAREWELL!!!

It's been SO crazy busy with the show the last few weeks, that I haven't had a chance to post for awhile!  I also haven't been able to find the words to express my feelings for the musical "Children of Eden", and, since I knew this would be the next thing I wrote about, haven't even tried.  What I say won't do it justice, but here goes...

I'll admit right here that I didn't want to audition.  My job took a turn for the IMPOSSIBLE this year, and I just didn't think I had time.  I also saw the show a few years ago, and wasn't that crazy about it.  I remembered a few songs that were kind of cool, and a really neat number involving a lot of animals, but really wasn't enthused.  LUCKILY, my friends Kris and Rachel were persistent, and FORCED me to go (the last time they did this, they didn't get cast, and I ended up doing the show without them...DISLIKE...).  I'm REALLY glad they did, because this was the EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME!!!!!  

I think "Children of Eden" is now probably my FAVORITE musical in which to have performed!  I LOVED playing Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors" because the music is so AWESOME, and the part is so much fun.  I LOVED playing Joseph in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (the THIRD time I did it), because I got to return to my home town, after having moved away a year earlier, to do the show with all of my old friends, and the production was really fun to be a part of.  I also LOVED playing Albert Peterson in "Bye Bye Birdie!" this past spring, because the music is FABULOUS and I got to work with my friend Shana, who is AMAZING, and got to share the stage with a group of UNBELIEVABLY talented teenagers!!

I can't explain WHY "Children of Eden" is now my favorite...I don't think there's just one single reason.  The music is BRILLIANT!  Our staging and lighting were AMAZING!  The cast was SUPERB!  The orchestra was FABULOUS!  The crew was EXCELLENT!  I think all of these things together made it so special. 

It is also my favorite because Adam was such an AMAZING part to play!!  I typically get cast as the "funny guy" (not sure why...ha!).  Don't get me wrong...I LIKE that type of role.  It's fun, it's easy for me, and I don't have to work very hard on's what I do.  This part was different....Adam is complex.  He starts out very simple and childlike, then goes through the metamorphosis of becoming the concerned (and somewhat obsessive) parent of Cain and Abel.  That transition was AMAZING to portray. 

Backstage before the final performance

A friend who saw the show gave me the greatest compliment...she said "Your voice is gorgeous and I loved your characterization of Adam. It was sweet but not stupid -- endearing but not cloying. The show was FABULOUS (I cried the whole first act) and you were a magical part of it. Congrats!!"

Another friend said "I also wanted to thank you for a wonderful gift of your performance in this show - great character, and growth in the character from a child-like personality to one who has to take the 'father' role, and make the hard decisions. You were amazing. Your voice is beautiful, as always. Thanks for a wonderful - thought-provoking evening!"  He and I tend to compete for the same roles, so I considered this HIGH PRAISE indeed!

My sister made the comment that she thought this was my best role to date.  She said that all the other stuff I've done has been "easy", and was just me being me on stage.  She said that she could really empathize with the decision Adam had to make in the garden, and my portrayal made that very real.  She actually started tearing up describing it to me on the phone the next day...excellent!! 

Peg, Tena, Me, and Alisa after the show!

A friend stated that because my co-star Eve (BRILLIANTLY portrayed by my new dear friend, Peg) was so good in the role, I was better too, because I couldn't just "slide by"...I really had to work at it to bring my performance to her level.  I KNOW I was better in this role than I otherwise would have been, because of her AWESOME talent!

Countless friends and family came to the show (thank you all for being there....I REALLY appreciate your support), and many cried through the entire first act.  I had friends who came to see it TWO or THREE was THAT special.

Casts of shows typically get pretty close during the rehearsal process, but the cast of this show was SOOOOOO close, and SOOOOOOO amazingly talented!!!  We went out after MANY rehearsals, found whatever excuse we could to meet (why yes I DO need to get gasoline at 5:00 at that gas station...see you there!), and ended up having dinner each Wednesday during the run because we couldn't stand to be away from each other for the five days between shows.  Many of us are already making plans to see each other in upcoming shows, and, as I put it on Facebook recently, "I'm not ready to let this go, so don't be surprised if I just SHOW UP on your doorstep some day soon".

"Adam's family" after a performance (not the "mysterious and spooky" ones...!)

I LOVE these people.  I LOVE this theater company.  I LOVE this play.

Here's a "private" copy of one of my ballads from Act I.  Stephen Schwartz can SURE write a song...

I started rehearsals for this show on the first day of school WAAAAAAY back in September. My entire school year has been wrapped around all of those blocking rehearsals and choreography sessions and vocal practices.  I'm having a difficult time "just" working now.

Here's hoping YOU were part of something amazing recently too, and that you are a better person for it as well!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Friends!!

Theater is such a CRAZY, CRAZY are thrown together with a bunch of people, some that you might know (from previous shows), but most that you don't.  You spend every day together going through the tedious process of blocking, learning lines, choreography, vocal rehearsals, tech rehearsals, and form an intense "symbiotic" family.  It's CRAZY, but I wouldn't trade it for the WORLD!

Last night, a bunch of us went out after rehearsal for drinks and food.  It was a HOOT!  One of my new friends, Kate, wrote the sweetest things on her blog, and about the evening.  Click on "blog" in the previous sentence to go to her site to see photos of the evening, and to read what she wrote. 

Thank you new're a delight to "play" with!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Oklahoma City!!!

Okay...I have to admit that when the Middle Years Programme coordinator at the high school in which I work said that there was a "media specialist workshop" through the International Baccalaureate (the "umbrella" under which all three programs (Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme, Diploma Programme) operate, I was excited...until I heard WHERE it was taking place...Oklahoma City.  Never been....never wanted to go...

BOY WAS I WRONG!  Wow!  I really LIKE Oklahoma City!  It was a little like St. Paul, in that it COMPLETELY closes down on the weekends, so I don't know if I got the "real" experience of being there.  It was CRAZY! convention center...and absolutely NO PEOPLE ANYWHERE...!!! 

Anyway...I flew in on Friday afternoon, and checked in at the Renaissance Hotel, across the street from the convention center, in which all of our workshops took place.  I planned to stay in my room the entire weekend and memorize music for "Children on Eden".  OF COURSE that didn't happen, because, even though it WAS Oklahoma City, it was a new place, and I can't resist wandering around.  My friends often tell me that I can find interesting things to do no matter WHERE I go, and this was no exception.

I wandered around for awhile, trying to find a Carl's Jr. that Yahoo! said was about seven blocks from my hotel...there was no Carl's Jr.  I ended up at the Murrah Federal Building Memorial, and it was REALLY, REALLY somber, and cool, and sad, and well done!

After watching the sun set over the memorial, I headed back to the hotel and ordered room service (LOVE room service!), then spent a little bit of time working on that memorizing thing...UNTIL I looked out my window and saw a really cool glass "tube" that kept changing colors.  OF COURSE, I needed to explore, so headed out into the night, and discovered the COOLEST botanical garden!  The "tube" was the actual indoor garden, but there were waterfalls, landscaped terraces, a "lagoon", tables, fountains, sculpture, and an AMAZINGLY cool park surrounding it!

After taking a ZILLION photos, I headed back to the hotel, and went to bed.

Saturday morning, I headed to the convention center for the workshop.  I was the only one from Minnesota to attend (which I hate), but, luckily, found some nice people from Missouri to sit with at breakfast.  They were a Primary Years Programme school, and I've spent MOST of my IB career in a PYP school, so was able to "talk the talk" with them, and even do a little networking!

After breakfast, we headed to our sessions.  I WISH I could say I learned a lot about the MYP, but, unfortunately, since there aren't many media specialist sessions, they combined category 1 AND category 2 into the same workshop.  This means that participants ranged from those JUST starting in an MYP school, to media specialists who have been working in the programme for several years.  TOO broad a range to be effective for anyone. 

It was also unfortunate that I recently went through the PYP academy (to become a workshop leader myself).  I had more recent information than the leader of this workshop, and, since I've spent the last two years as PYP coordinator at my school, am no longer afraid to assert my opinions, or offer my advice.  I, apparently, spoke up too much that first day.  People started coming to me for answers, and I REALLY don't know that much about the MYP...just IB, in general, which is the focus of what the category 1 participants were there to learn. 

In fact, on the second day of the workshop, several of the participants came up behind me on the escalator and told me that they wanted to vote the workshop leader "off the island" and put me in charge.  After that, I vowed to talk less (although it was a boost to my confidence, and helped me to get "off the fence" about whether I want to be a workshop leader or not....I DO)!!

Duane flew down to join me for the evening, which was AWESOME, since I really DIDN'T want to spend the evening memorizing music.  UNFORTUNATELY, that's when the rain started.  Oklahoma City had been in a streak of 175 RAINLESS days.  OF COURSE we arrived, and it started pouring...terrific (by the end of the weekend, Oklahoma City ended up getting FOUR INCHES of rain...soggy...). 

Rain be damned, our first stop was the Murrah Federal Building Museum, which was amazing!  The museum is housed in the building that was behind the Federal Building, which was razed after the explosion.  It used to be the home of one of Oklahoma City's newspapers.

The museum visit started with everyone sitting in a room, listening to an audio recording of a water board meeting, which took place across the street from the federal building. As we listened to the meeting leader setting the agenda, the audio is taken over by the sounds of the explosion.  The audio continued to play, and we then heard a few seconds of these people reacting to the chaos. As the recording ended, the pictures of the victims of the explosion were projected onto the wall in front of us...very sad, and a REALLY powerful way to set the mood for the rest of the exhibits.

the door of a nearby building after the blast

A reconstruction of one of the rooms in the newspaper building after the blast

After spending a couple of hours walking through the displays, and following the timeline of the day, (and weeks and months to follow), we walked around the memorial site for a little while.  It was MUCH MORE POWERFUL and SAD to look at the memorial after seeing all that took place during that very dark time in Oklahoma City's past.

After spending some quiet time at the memorial, we headed to a cafe Duane found on TripAdvisor...Cheever's.  REALLY great food, and a COOL place!  I TOTALLY fell off the "dieting wagon", and ordered the chicken fried steak (well I WAS in the south, and if anyone can do chicken fried steak well it's the south!!!).  It was divine...especially with the jalapeno cream gravy and garlic mashed potatoes...YUM!  It was so good, in fact, that I would return to Oklahoma City, just to eat there again!!

OBVIOUSLY not our photo...since the sun is shining in this one!

After dinner, we headed to Bricktown, which was a few blocks from the hotel.  We found an AWESOME cupcake bakery/candy store called Pinkitzel.  I WANT TO LIVE THERE!!!!!  Totally cool "retro" candy, AMAZING cupcakes, and a really "kitch" ambience.  FUN! 

After satisfying our sweet tooth, we headed to Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City, the new (opened this year) outlet mall.  We found some good deals at Banana Republic, and saw some stores that we don't have in the "north", so it was fun to explore (WET, but fun...).

Again...NOT my rain...

We then headed back to the hotel, with a quick stop at the botanical gardens so Duane could see it, then went to bed.

Me and Duane's umbrella (THANKS FOR BRINGING
THE UMBRELLA DUANE!) under the sculpture at the botanical gardens

Sunday, I said goodbye to Duane (who headed back to the cities later that morning), then went back for day 2 of the workshop.  I spoke less, but people were still coming to me for answers.  We worked on an MYP planner, focusing on recycling, and how the media center can "plug in" to the unit.

After the workshop, my new buddy Lisa and I went to Target (Delta lost her luggage, and she needed some "things"...).  Our cab driver, Turtle, was a TOTAL hoot, and we had a great (and EXPENSIVE) trip there and back.  It all worked out, though, because we were able to "reserve" the cab for the next day's trip to the airport (the hotel had TWO, seven seat shuttles, but there would be 150 people trying to get to the airport at the same time, so we didn't want to take any chances...).

After Target, we headed to Bricktown for dinner at Abuelo's Mexican Restaurant (FABULOUS!).

We then walked to a nearby bar to hook up with some other new friends to watch the Green Bay Packers play. be honest, I walked her there, and headed back to the hotel as soon as the game started... I spent the rest of the evening actually working on my lines!!!

Monday, we had a half day workshop to wrap everything up.  We were all WAY more focused on checking out, getting to the airport, getting our flights, etc., than the "wrap up", but it was all good.  After the workshop, Lisa and I had an hour to kill before the cab ride to the airport, so we walked over to the botanical gardens again (the sun came out OF COURSE...since we were leaving).  It was a LOVELY day, and it was AWESOME to see the sun again!

We then headed to the airport, had lunch at Sonic, said goodbye, and boarded our flights home!

It was a GREAT trip! Oklahoma City is surprisingly AWESOME, and I met some AMAZING new colleagues with which to collaborate! 

Here's hoping YOU were pleasantly surprised by something recently too!!!!!