Monday, July 25, 2016

Mary Poppins and Kim's Visit!!!

photo by Jeanne Berget

This past weekend was the opening of the musical I've been rehearsing since early June..."Mary Poppins".  I'm playing the role of Mr. Banks, and it's been an amazing exploration of this character...his motivations...his regrets...his transformation.

The director pulled me aside after opening night, and said that she'd talked with several people who thought this was one of the best/deepest/most thoughtful characters I've played (this is my seventh show with this theater group).

It was a great compliment, and, I would have to say I agree...Mr. Banks is written very well, and I've put a lot of time and effort into portraying him as a "real" person...faults and all.  It's EXHAUSTING, but it's been worth it!  The "yell-y" angry stuff is easy (I, apparently, have a lot of inner rage!), but the softer stuff in act II has been challenging.

I've always wished that I had the ability to cry on so many actors seem to be able to do.  It was a rewarding breakthrough at dress rehearsal when, in the scene where Jane and Michael give Mr. Banks (their father) the coins they received from a customer at the bank, I started tearing up. 

So far, I've managed to produce real tears at the end of that scene for every performance.  It adds a touching nuance to the scene, and my director told me that I made HER cry each night while watching it.  I need to be careful though, because at yesterday's matinee, I had a hard time reigning it in enough to say my final line!!

Here's a photo that sums up my character (in act I, at least), taken by my friend, and AMAZING photographer Jeanne Berget:

This weekend's run was full of fun, and laughter, and...exhaustion!  Many friends came to see the show, including my cousin Kim, who was in town for a marathon, and came to stay with me afterwards, so that she could see the show.

It was SO MUCH FUN to have her here!  We had a chance to catch up BEFORE the show, then, after the Saturday night performance, we met my friends Lynn and Rick at the Tamarack Tap Room for a late dinner and drinks.

Sunday morning, we met Lynn and Rick again (and Duane joined us this time!) at Junior's Cafe & Grill for breakfast before Kim headed home.

Now I have two days "off" to rest my voice (which is a little fried!)...catch up on all of the stuff I've let slide over the last two months...and get ready for our final run of FIVE performances!!!!

Here's hoping YOU are doing something "exhaustingly fun" too!!!

Friday, July 22, 2016


In the middle of the chaos involved with the weekend before tech week for a show I'm in (I'll post about that later...), and immediately following a promotional event at Jerry's Foods in Woodbury for that show (see previous post), Duane and I made a SUPER QUICK trip to Fairfield to see my friend Tena in "Beauty and the Beast".

We left at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon (after I got home from Jerry's and showered to wash the mega gel and Aqua Net out of my extremely slicked down and conservative Mr. Banks hair), and arrived in Fairfield around 8:00.

On the way, we stopped in Ankeny for Maid Rites...because it's required...

...then got to Tena and Andrew's, dropped off our luggage, and headed out to look around town.  I haven't been there since last August, and there were a few changes...the Chocolate Cafe has closed...the art display around the square is "little libraries"...and my laundromat is now in the process of becoming "The Lord's Cupboard"...a local food bank.

We stopped at Everybody's so that I could stock up on my friend Debbie's "Cookies From the Heart" chunk chocolate peanut butter cookies (and other goodies the store carries)...

 ...drove around for a little while longer, then went home to wait for Tena and Andrew to get home from the Saturday night performance.

They got home around 10:30, and we stayed up chatting until about 1:15.

On Sunday, we had brunch at favorite restaurant in town, hung out at the house for a bit, stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few things, then picked up our dear friend Carol and went to the show.  Tena played Mrs. Potts, and Andrew was the narrator and the insane asylum owner.  The show was delightful, and Tena stole the show when she sang the theme song in act II.  Andrew also OWNED his scene with Gaston as they plotted to put Belle's father away so that Gaston could marry Belle.

After seeing lots of old friends, we made a stop at Hy-Vee (also a requirement while in town), then headed back to the house, and, when Tena and Andrew were finished striking the set, attempted to go back to Ila for dinner.  Unfortunately, they (and every other place we wanted to go) were closed on Sunday night.  After MUCH deliberating (and Duane spending a BUNCH of time on his iPod looking at reviews) ended up at Torino's, a local pizza and steak place, which really IS a local institution.

After dinner we tried to go to the new tap room on 4th street, but the music for the evening was a drum circle, and, after walking in the door and seeing the walls reverberating with the sound, opted for a quick trip to the Dairy Bar for ice cream instead.

We then went back to the house, and watched an episode of "The Great British Baking Show" before retiring (relatively) early.

Monday morning we got up, packed, said our farewells, then made a quick stop at Caribou for coffee.  We left town, with a quick stop at Jaarsma Bakery in Pella for Dutch pastries and photo ops in City Park...

...met my aunt Doris and cousin John Todd for lunch at Perkins in Ankeny...

...and arrived back in the cities with enough time for me to do some laundry and clean a bit before heading to rehearsal.

A super quick, but REALLY FUN, trip "home"!

Here's hoping YOU were able to reconnect with dear friends recently too!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"Mary Poppins" Promotion!!!

I'm currently in rehearsals for a production of "Mary Poppins" with a theater company in Woodbury, Minnesota.  We open this Friday, and it's been a grueling, challenging, exhausting, but SUPER FUN experience!  I'll post more about the show after the run has ended, but I wanted to share a few photos from a really fun promotional event we participated in at Jerry's Foods this past Saturday.

To be honest, I was dreading it...I LOVE acting, and being on stage, but I DON'T like being outside that space as my seems odd...and is very "improvisational" (a skill at which I don't particularly excel).

The store had stations set up for kids to meet the cast and do a craft...make a kite...string Cheerios to feed the birds...etc.

I hung out at one of the tables for awhile, but Christina, who plays Mrs. Banks to my Mr. Banks, and I just weren't moving with the groove, so decided to wander the store and greet people.

Once we positioned ourselves by the gourmet cheese counter near the entrance, things changed for the better.  We ROCKED it as greeters!  We were loud.  We were a little bit obnoxious.  We spoke in our BEST British accents, and, except for the shy customers we scared out of  their wits (and who, we noticed, took the long route around the back side of the deli area to avoid interacting with us), were well received.   Lisa, one of the workers in the cheese department, was DELIGHTFUL, and really enjoyed having us there.

 In addition to greeting people as they came in, and directing them to the crafts and goodies, we promoted whatever we could find around us...the cheeses (although we couldn't get ANYONE to buy the pearl mozzarella...)...the corn on the cob across the aisle from us...more of the cheeses...

We also yelled encouragement to any employee walking by...the ladies sampling salad dressing near us...and any shopper who needed was a HOOT!

Favorite phrases/interactions of the day:
  • "Welcome to Jerry's.  If you're here to see Mary Poppins, continue on, and turn left at the jellies!!!"
  • Customer, after being greeted heartily:  "Oh...are you the Jerry's?"  To which we replied..."Yes...yes we are...welcome to our empire!"
  • Flipping SEVEN or EIGHT cabbages (and two bunches of bananas) into the cart of one poor cast member who brought his family in to buy groceries.  We saw them later in the frozen foods and continued to "help" them shop.  After we moved on, his five year old said "Daddy, I want to go with those people".
It was a super fun time, and those cheese people really know what they are doing...I ended up buying $18.00 worth of cheese before I left (but no pearl mozzarella...)!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to participate in something fun recently too!!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A GREAT Recipe!!!

I am FOREVER trying to find flavorful, filling, low calorie/low fat/"diet" food!  I recently cooked my way through my "standard" repertoire...Quinoa Enchilada Bake...Big Mac Casserole...Skinny Sloppy Joes...and wanted something new.

Luckily, Slender Kitchen exists!!!  Kristen Mccaffrey created (I believe), and curates the sight, and she has created some FABULOUS recipes!!

My current favorite...BBQ Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Meatballs!  Check out the recipe here.

I served them over Cauliflower Rice from the Real Housemoms website, and ended up with a filling meal, that was both tasty and low in calories and fat!!  You can find the Cauliflower Rice recipe here.

Here's a photo of the finished product:

DEFINITELY adding this to the recipe rotation!

Here's hoping YOU found a new "go to" recipe that you enjoy recently too!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Willow Creek State Park!!

This past weekend, Duane and I got out of the cities for awhile, and drove to a state park in Wisconsin that we haven't visited for about five year...Willow Creek State Park.

We drove to Hudson, Wisconsin, made a quick stop at Fleet Farm, then continued on to the park.  We remember something about parking at a certain spot, so that we didn't have to make the three mile hike to the falls, but OF COURSE ended up parking at the exact same spot as before...and walking the three miles to the falls.

After a quick trek to the lake, which ended up being dry because of work on the dam, we headed for the falls.  Luckily, the humidity was relatively low, and the trail was mostly wooded.

 There used to be a lake here...

"Wildflowers" on the "beach" near the "lake"...

It's always a treat to finally GET to the you approach them, you START to hear them, and, after rounding a corner, finally get to SEE cool...right there in the middle of nowhere.

Although about 900 OTHER people also had the idea to view the falls, it was still very nice.

After listening to the roaring gush of water over the falls, and watching the other visitors crossing the falls, diving off the rocks, and swimming, we headed up the many, many stairs to the observation deck...a lovely view of the lake/valley into which the river flows.

After heading back down to the bridge at the bottom of the falls, we hiked back to the car, then headed into downtown Hudson for some chicken parmesan and tiramisu on the patio at our favorite restaurant, The Postmark Grille.

After dinner, we headed to River Falls for a quick stop at Shopko, then went home, and called it a day!

A fun "adventure", close to home!!