Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Ode to Clare McIntyre

To the Lovely Miss Sunny Clare...

Clare is the final of the quartet of Germany Girls (the others being Sara and Ailsa), and Clare has the unusual distinction that she is the only of the other girls that I have seen since 1998. Clare came through NYC for pleasure this spring and we had the opportunity to sit down at Alice's Tea Cup, one of my favorite places in Manhattan, and share delicious foods and "catch up".
But as I've said in the blogs about the other girls, it's not so much about "catching up", because how do you really catch up on years of time, when it doesn't really matter. You share the big stuff. There's no "And then in 2003 I did..." it's just the stuff that matters. The nitty-gritty. And I love that about Clare.

I'm not sure if Clare knows she believes this, but I think she exemplifies something that I hold to be a truism: if it's scary, it's probably the right thing to do. Clare does things that are scary. Not terrifying, but things that are hard choices. She recently was at a crossroads and unsure of where to go next, and made a scary choice, but she made it boldly and proactively and with the utmost faith.

I think there are lots of different kinds of courage, and I think Clare has a very special kind in spades. I think it takes a crazy kid to want to go live in a foreign country for a year, alone, at 16 or 17. God bless being naive, because I know I would have never gone if I knew then what I know now, but I don't regret it for a second. Now, as an adult, I would be aware of all the things that could go wrong. At 17, I was only aware of possibility of what could be. And that was enough.

Somehow, I think Clare has managed to stay this course--to constantly be aware only of possibility. Does she get dragged down in the mire of day to day life and responsibilities and the baffling questions of the unknown, sure, we all do. But in her in a spirit that just moves forward with the sense that "Alles wird gut".

So when I'm running and feel like I just can't keep going, I think I'll remember Clare and know what she would do: Just keep going forward.

Seems like a good way to run a race.

Immer alles gute, Mein Liebchen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Ode to Alex Pearlman

Who is no relation to David Perlman, aside from both being my friends and wonderful! ;)

If I have learned anything from writing these blogs, it's that I need to take better photographic evidence of my exploits and my fabulous friends. I can barely find a single picture of Alex and I together!

But you already saw Alex in a previous post about Nathan, and here we are with our good friend Joel...

Alex is another dear Ragtime friend, as well as a Who's Tommy friend. When searching for pictures, I went through the Ragtime pictures again, and I will say what I have said before, that show changed my life. I loved every person in that show with such an abandon, and I am forever grateful for that experience. And to have the opportunity to work with Alex again on Tommy was just icing on the cake.

Alex is a fantastic singer, and a wonderful friend. He is always there, to meet me for lunch, to distract me from life, or to listen to me complain about something that probably is not that big of a deal in the long run, but he listens anyway. He is a musical theatre genius, and pretty much his own Lincoln Center Archive, with a recording or video of almost every musical ever performed! He also knows anything about musicals past, present and future (yes, even future--he's to the minute on the behind the scenes gossip)! He is always the first to congratulate me on my successes and console me after casting losses or missed opportunities.

I have a wonderful memory of Alex singing with me for The DBF's Birthday Celebration last year. The DBF has said on numerous occasions that I should never buy him anything because the only thing he wants is to hear me sing (He is the dearest of the Dear Boy Friends, is he not?). So for his birthday last year I arranged a private concert, and enlisted the help of some friends (Nathan, Natalie and Alex). He is always game. No idea is not worth exploring and he is amazingly gifted and talented, and a truly superb singer!

I am not sure he knows how fabulous he is. But I do. And now the world does! Or at least the 4 people who read my blog. ;)

I am a fan. And I am glad he is on my team.

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Ode to Sara Ehrhardt

My dear, lovely Sara has been my friend since the awkward age of 16 when we were exchange students in Wilhelmshaven, Germany together, along with Ailsa, whom loyal blog readers already know.

Sara is actually a redhead. It is my birth defect that I too wasn't born with red hair. She has milky white skin and beautiful curls and I was always so jealous of her when we were in Germany. Maybe I'm just channeling her now as an adult!
I fake this coloring with the use of hair dye and good makeup technique...
Sara's a natural.

Natural is a great word to describe Sara. She's a free spirit, but grounded enough to have a great career as an Engineer. An Engineer. I have a friend who is an Engineer. Most of my friends tap dance. Not that there's anything wrong with tap dancing, but seriously. Not only is Sara an Engineer (I'm so impressed I keep capitalizing it!), she's also done a lot of work for Engineers Without Borders Canada, doing things like building irrigation systems. Thank goodness for someone like Sara, who not only has the brains to build such things, but the heart to inspire her to do so!

However, she is not currently working specifically as an Engineer (is one always an Engineer, even if using their skills in a slightly different avenue?) She is currently employed by Finance Canada in the International Trade and Finance group to work on Canada's international assistance budget and climate change. Brains, a heart of gold and milky white skin. Who's not jealous?

All in all, the best way I can sum up Sara is that I think she is Super Woman. I think there is nothing she couldn't accomplish if she desired it. She follows her heart, and has the abilities and the passions to make things happen.

I am grateful to have known her this long in my life, and just so humbled to have her donation towards my crazy marathon goal. I carry her with me every day in little ways. It's that way when you know someone as long as us crazy Exchange Student girls have known each other, when you share something as obscure as a year living in a small coastal town in Germany. She, and all those girls, share a large part in the woman I am today. And I am always grateful for that. Always.

An Ode to Pamela and Kidberry!

I am so thrilled to be writing this THANK YOU post, because it is the kind of donation that just warms my heart.

I met Pamela a few weeks ago when I was doing my required volunteer shift for my CSA farm share (Community Supported Agriculture). Living in Harlem, NYC has been such an amazing, urban experience for this white girl from Minnesota. I love feeling so connected to so much history of the city. But there isn't the hugest selection of fresh produce, and certainly not high quality organic produce.

At the New Year, along with deciding to run a marathon, I decided I wanted to change my relationship with food, and decided to "Eat Food". Real food. Not food-like substances. (Much of my philosophy of food has come from Michael Pollan's books, primarily In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto). So I searched out a local CSA. Basically a farmer will offer a "share" of his yield to the public. Typically it's a box of vegetables, sometimes fruit, and dairy and meat can be included. You buy in to a membership and then get a whole ton of fresh food each week from whatever is freshest on the farm that day. You can find your own local CSA by clicking here.

So I joined my local CSA, Roxbury Farms, which drops off on Thursdays at a school about 5 blocks from my apartment in Harlem. I get so much food that I have to actively work towards consuming it. I have loved the challenge that this provides. What do you do with 9 pounds of tomatoes? I have also loved that it has made me more aware of the seasons, the weather, about timeliness, the passage of time...

As part of your membership, each share owner works at the distribution a few shifts throughout the season. I was fortunate enough to work with Pamela, and her awesome son Max. While moving around crates of kale and onions, we just chatted about life and the things we're involved in, and it turns out Pamela runs an organization a lot like my current job! She is one of the founders of Kidberry, and I am in love with what they are doing in my neighborhood!

It is really lovely when you meet someone for an hour or so and get to share the things that are important in your life. Really, the only connection we had was we live in the same neighborhood and both enjoy Food (Real Food always gets a capital F). But we started talking and the walls start falling down, and it turns out we share much in common. I am grateful for the two hours we spent with our veggies, and especially grateful for her generosity in donating to the cause.

Harlem is a better place because of generous and creative individuals like Pamela and her partners at Kidberry! I wish them all the success in the world, and can't wait for the last stretch of the marathon, when I run through MY neighborhood, and get to see all my neighbors cheering me on! Me, and the other 34,999 runners... But especially me!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Ode to Walter! And his family...

As some of you blog readers undoubtedly already know, I have the world's greatest day job. In addition to my career as a musical theatre performer, I also teach infants and preschoolers in Mommy-and-Me music classes at a wonderful company called Hands On! A Musical Experience. I teach Monday through Saturday, 4 classes each morning, for children aged 4 months to about 4 years. Each teacher learns how to play every instrument in the orchestra and we allow each child the opportunity to put their "hands on" (see, get it!) while we play the instrument, making connections about the physics of sounds, the difference in types of instruments, and hopefully cultivating a love of music, and perhaps a desire to play aninstrument some day.

So I am very grateful for this donation, from one of my dear sweet infants, Walter.
Sweet Walter with his dad and mom

Now, how can you not love a little face like that, and the fact that his name is Walter, just melts my heart. In Manhattan we get a lot of crazy names. Did you know in 2007 the second most common boy's name in Manhattan was Jayden? Pushing out Daniel, and right behind Michael. I've had Lazer, Blue... so Walter just melts my heart. And the fact that he comes with his mother and their fellow apartment-infant, Evelyn, comes as well with her nanny, they are like an old married couple, who arrive side-by-side in their strollers. Walter and Evelyn.

It is hard to say what these little babies take in from class, and I am fond of saying that you just never know who they are going to turn out to be. Perhaps Walter is the next great Oboist. Or perhaps he will be a computer programmer. But the time that he gets to spend with his mom, while she can take a little break from being "On" (and then it's MY turn to be "on"), means that he gets 40 minutes to be loved and entertained, Mom hopefully leaves with a baby ready for a nap, and I get to see his sweet little smile. It's a win-win situation.

Walter's mother has run a marathon before, and she is working at one of the aid tents this year for the NYC Marathon, so it is my goal NOT to have to see her during the marathon. But it is so sweet of her to donate to Free Arts and my marathon goal. Having been there, she understands what it's like to push your body to the limit, in addition to pushing your friends and family to help you financially! :) I am very grateful for the help of Walter and his family, and it is always a pleasure to see him every week.

Maybe Walter will be a computer programming, marathon-running Oboe player when he grows up? You just never know! He will certainly always know he is loved, of that I am sure.

A training update, and checking in with... me.

Hello blog friends.

It has been a while.

I have been struggling to stay afloat lately, barely scraping by with blog posts and trying to stay at least with it enough to go to work, attempt laundry, and keep life together.

As some of you may know, the DBF's grandmother passed away last weekend. This weekend was the wake and the funeral. Yesterday, following the service and then the trip to the cemetery where Eileen will be cremated, the DBF and I fell asleep for over 3 hours. And we woke up, the sun had set, and to say we were "new people" wouldn't be the correct phrase, but it felt like we had finally let go of the difficulties of the past few weeks and months.

My maternal grandparents passed away long before I was born, and both my paternal grandparents passed in their sleep with little complications. Watching someone become more and more aware of the reality that their end is far closer than the beginning is trying. It forces us to see our own humanity and frailty, to question if we have done enough for them, for others, if we too were to pass away, what can we claim as ours, what have we accomplished in this brief trip around the sun.

In addition, or perhaps because of all this, I've also been searching my heart for some answers about "Who Am I?" I started this blog to figure out things that I thought I wasn't, or couldn't do. And in it, I have at times found myself more confused than where I started. I've described it lately like I am Mr. Potato Head. I feel like a bunch of pieces of something that obviously are a person... it just doesn't seem quite right. I don't feel like less than myself, I just don't feel like "myself". And the question became who or what IS myself? How is that defined?

When will I catch up and realize that somewhere along the lines I have BECOME a runner and an athlete? I am running a marathon in 14 days. Two weeks. I will be running through the 5 boroughs of Manhattan with over 35,000 runners, and an additional 12,000 volunteers and then spectators. Which reminds me of a Bible quote that I have always loved, Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weights that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (New Living Translation)

When does truth become Truth? When does a belief, or a hope, or a dream and desire become something that IS. To know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the sky is blue, the sun will rise, that everything is already fine. That I am strong, and beloved, and worthy.

At the funeral yesterday, the Priest spoke about how Eileen lived a life confident in God's love. And I was struck by the obvious. That though I have felt like I have changed, for better, for worse, for lateral movement, for who knows what, that I have felt changed--there has always been a constant. That I have always believed, and I still believe, that God is in all of us. God, Love, Buddah, Atman, whatever you want to call It, that God is still in me, as God was before, and always will be.

Makes you feel a little less like Mr. Potato Head.

I have been sick this past week. Physically exhausted from lack of sleep, and a harsh cold or allergies, and emotionally stripped. So today, bouyed from a good nights sleep, as well as a three hour nap yesterday, I head back out onto the pavement. I'd like to run a little over 2 hours. I should be tapering, in preparation for the Marathon. Having skipped an entire week of training, 3 weeks out, makes me just the slightest bit nervous. Are you still a runner if you fail to run for a week? For two weeks? For a month? When does athleticism fail? Am I still not an athlete because I chose sleep and rest over training? But I read this quote and thought perhaps this is the lesson for me:

Sport is not about being wrapped up in cotton wool. Sport is about adapting to the unexpected and being able to modify plans at the last minute. Sport, like all life, is about taking risks. --Sir Roger Bannister

I'm all over the place with this blog. But here's the summary:

I am back. With God who never left. And we are running a marathon in two weeks.

Who's got $1259 they want to donate to a great charity? :)

An Ode to Ned Massey

You probably don't know who Ned Massey is. But you should. And you'll wonder why you never had heard of him before.

Being a rockstar is exceptionally cool.

I first "discovered" Ned when my agents submitted me for a project called Bloodties, and, well, to be honest, I kinda didn't think twice about it. I get submitted for a lot of crap. I read the sides for Bloodties (short mini-chunks of the story) and didn't really think twice about it. But as the audition date was coming closer I asked my agents if I could get a copy of the script in preparation for the audition. Because I am a good actor who prepares. :)

Bloodties is written by Ned and tells the story of Ned. It is raw, hard, beautiful, and devastatingly open. I can only say that there was something about this project that broke me open, just in reading it. As loyal blog readers may know, and those closest to me have witnessed, this past year or so has been incredibly trying and hard. So hard that training for a marathon was "easy" and "accomplishable" in comparison. And I believe when we go through these times, it's human nature to bundle up inside a shell of protection, to crawl back into a shell of comfort, whatever that is. For me, I crawled into numbness, and when I wasn't numb, I was angry. Alternating between numb and paralyzed and infuriated, raging at the unfairness of the world.

I read this script, and it just felt so daring, so scarily honest, so ballsy--walking the line of fully putting yourself out there, warts in all. Presenting your trials and tribulations for the world to see (and turning it into Musical Theatre nonetheless). Something about the story spoke to me, in its brokenness, its universal humanity, the daring courage it takes to put yourself in your entirety out for the consuming public.

I didn't get cast, though I did get a callback, which gave me more time to sit and ponder this material and the implications I was feeling on my life. And I was pissed when I didn't get cast (I mean, we always are a little disappointed no matter how well-adjusted you are). I don't believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe everything can be made good. And I had already gotten what I needed out of this project. Which was a wake up call of sorts.

I gushed to Ned about my adoration for the project, and for his courage in sharing his story. And we became friends. I mean why not be friends with someone you respect and admire? I admire his courage, his transparency, his faith and spirit, and of course, his unmistakeable talent.

I'll leave you to experience Ned and his musical Bloodties on your own, but you heard it here first. And if you ever are so blessed, you should make him your friend. I am lucky to have him as one.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Ode to Kate Marie Roselle

I miss Miss Kate with all my heart.

Kate worked at New Stage Theatre in Mississippi both times I went to do a contract there (loyal blog readers will remember that Spitfire Grill #2 was in Mississippi). When I returned a few years later to do I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, and Kate was working there, that time as Director of Education. She now lives with her Beloved in Denver, Colorado, and I am sincerely hoping that the DBF and I can make a trip out to visit soon. It has been on our to-do list forever, and maybe this year will be the year!

Kate is a passionate and warm woman. She is focused, driven and accomplished. But what I admire most about Kate is that she works at being happy.

Now that might not make sense. It would be wrong to say that she is always happy. Simple people are always "happy" because they don't understand the complexities of life, which can so often lead to unhappiness. But Kate works at happiness. She actively pursues it. She chases it with abandon. And I think she succeeds.

I am jealous of her zeal, and always impressed by her gratitude. Any person could learn a lesson in gratitude from Kate. And I am so honored to have her behind me as I train for this marathon. And when I'm running it, and it feels hard and awful, I know that I can think about Kate and her big, glorious smile, and know that she's cheering me on, and sending all her happiness my way. And for that I am grateful!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Ode to Tom Wojtunik

I think Tom Wojtunik is a brilliant director and the "next big thing" and not just because he's cast me in two shows.
But yes, he has indeed cast me as a leading lady in two shows (Ragtime and The Who's Tommy), but there have been many shows he hasn't cast me in, and rightly so. He is that good of a director, and that good of a friend. We actors can have really ridiculous egos, and to know that a director appreciates and admires your work, but also appreciates it enough to know what you can excell at and what someone else might be better in, and NOT cast you, is also a compliment of some sort. I know if Tom calls me about a project, it's because he really thinks I'm right for it.

Tom cast me as Mother in Ragtime when I had no New York credits and had barely been here for a few weeks. And he told me the best advice that I've ever gotten in rehearsal. We were blocking and staging "Back To Before", Mother's big 11-o'clock number, and after a few tries he said something along the lines of:

Stop trying. You're doing it. Just do it.

And I did.

There was an artistic director of a theatre that shall remain nameless who told me that I "wasn't really an actor", I was "just a singer". Now, this man was wrong. But as a young kid right out of college, it broke my heart. There have been many directors who have said otherwise, but it hard to let go of that Negative Tape! But when I feel it creeping back, I remember one of the reviews of Ragtime:

“Jensen also drives the show in her own right. Mother undergoes a sea change of emotional realizations throughout Ragtime, which the actress underscores with subtlety and grace. Jensen also has a gorgeous voice, put to great use in the number “Back to Before.” Rare is the actress who can take a few minutes of standing still and alone on stage and turn it into a command performance.”
--Doug Strassler,

But you know what, that's all Tom. Tom is the one who told me to stand still alone on stage. If he hadn't, I would have been "acting" or doing something dumb.

Tom also asked me to audition and cast me in The Who's Tommy. He has watched me cry more times than I can count. He has consoled me through actor neurosis. And he still has managed to turn out a fantastic project. His work is continuously praised, I don't need to tell you this, since every newspaper or online review already will.

The next big thing, Tom Wojtunik. And he happens to believe in me, as not just a singer. But an actress. And also as a marathon runner.

So I am quite thankful to be in on knowing him and watch his star rise.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A long absence, and an Ode to Eileen

I'm sorry for a long radio silence, and I am way behind in blog posts and my Odes to those people who have helped me in my fundraising efforts.

The DBF's grandmother passed away last night, after about 6 hard weeks of hospitals and nursing home care. She was 92 and until very recently healthy as a horse, even living alone and taking herself for walks to go to church, get a manicure, have her hair done. She was a spectacular lady.

The first time I met her, The DBF and I had been dating for a few months and she and I happened to be coming up the stairs to his house at the same time. She looked at me and said "I know who YOU are!".

Last Sunday, before things took their last turn this past weekend, we visited, and she was having a pretty good day. The DBF and I, however, weren't having the best day, having had a misunderstanding that ended up in a little spat in the car. But as we sat with her, she held my hand and said "Take good care of him. He will take care of you.".

And I will, Eileen. I promise you I will.

Monday, October 11, 2010

An Ode to Nathan Brisby

Oh Nathan.
Where do I start with Nathan.

I think I am a pretty good writer, and I think I have a way of being able to use words to convey my thoughts... and when it comes to Nathan I'm at a bit of a loss. Because the task is too wide, it's too huge. I feel daunted by the task.

Nathan and I met during Ragtime, my first show here in New York after moving here and getting my Actor's Equity (union) card. As just a little bit of background on me, moving to NYC was a long time coming, and there is only one reason it took me so long to get here:


Of failure, I suppose. Or even mediocrity. It took me a lot of time, energy, love, recouperation, loan repayment, stints in jail (I'm not kidding about that one!) before I was able to get my butt to move here. And I moved here and someone basically offered me my Equity card (which is like someone just walking up to you and saying "Hey, would you like a raise?"--a holy grail of sorts for a lot of actors!). And then I went to my second Equity audition and booked the leading lady role in Ragtime. And the day of my callback I stood up the DBF (by accident) for our first date. So by the time the rehearsals for the show came around, I was on cloud 9. Or cloud 15! I know life is full of ups and downs, and at the time I knew I was on an extreme high. And I was enjoying it while it lasted.

So I met Nathan at a high. Nathan played J.P. Morgan, and was excellent in the show. However, Ragtime didn't really show all that he was capable of. More on that later, however. It did show me, however, that he is a fierce friend, that he is a hard worker and a great person to have on your team. We had a lot of fun, those Ragtime-ers and I.
What was so wonderful is that Nathan and I booked the next show together, The Who's Tommy, where I was once again leading lady, but he was playing Uncle Ernie. Which begs the first question: what actor can play J.P. Morgan and then just a few short weeks later turn around and be an fantastic drunken, lost and lonely Uncle Ernie perverting young deaf, dumb and blind boys? Oh just you wait, blog readers.

For me, if Ragtime was a high, Tommy was a low. It was probably during this time that Nathan and I became closer. I'm not sure two souls like Nathan and I can do an emotionally tortured show like Tommy and not come out a little worse for wear. It is nearly impossible to go to that place each and every day and not have it sink in to your pores a little bit. And to share that experience with someone is unique. Long story short, I think going to hell and back, on stage, day after day, we were friends for life.

The DBF refers to Nathan as the best actor he knows. That's not to say all of my actor friends are talented, and no worries, the DBF loves you all. But he thinks Nathan takes the cake. And I have to agree, that Nathan is the most transformative actor friend that I have. In my mind there is no role that he can't pay, and exceed.

But Nathan is also a wonderful, gentle man. He has a heart of platinum, not just gold, he is a fierce friend who will always go to bat for you, challenge you in your times of need, listen when you need an ear, but never afraid of speaking Truth. That's Capital T Truth.

There are not enough words to tell you how honored I am to be Nathan's friend. And I am so grateful that he has been with me as I explore this life as a runner. He too has been running, and I look forward to running our first 5K together this November, my first post-marathon race I have scheduled!

I believe there is nothing Nathan can't do. I am his number 1 fan (though I know I have a lot of competition for that role!), and I would walk through fire if he needed me. I am forever grateful to have him in my life.
with Nathan and Alex, at my 28th Birthday

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Ode to Lisa Austin

What's so remarkable about this next donation is that I don't really know Lisa.
We went to the same college (Woohoo!! Davidson College! Yay!!), and we met one time at a Young Alumni in NYC event, and became facebook friends after that day. I've been posting my blogs on my facebook account, and Lisa clicked on one, and I guess the rest is history!

So I sent Lisa an email asking for her update. In her words:
"As far as what I'm up to, I'm living near DC now. I live in Reston, and work at a healthcare consulting firm in Alexandria. I, too, have a DBF who has shown me the same unyielding support that yours has shown you. Things are going well for me, and I'm inspired to re-start my efforts. As you know, it can be hard to stay motivated and even harder to erase tapes that have been continuously playing in your head for years. I'm happy you've been doing it, and I'm happy that I'm going to do it too."

All I can say is: GOOD FOR YOU, LISA! You have already done the hard things, like taking a nice hard look at your life, what works, and what doesn't work, and are moving towards a change to make things different. And you're accepting your own role in that process--both as instigator and resolver. I am not sure I would ever have the faith and the confidence to donate to someone I barely knew, but that speaks volumes to me about your character. (But, I mean, you went to Davidson, so you're already upper echelon of the human elite! :)

You've got a fan in your DBF, and you've got a fan in me! As you work out your stuff and your NTs, let me know if there's anything that I can help you with! I recommend marathon running, simply because it has been so amazing for me, but it certainly doesn't have to be the only way. I can't wait to hear more updates about your successes!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

An Ode to Manami!

I am so lucky to get to work with Manami almost every day. Manami is one of the accompanists at Hands On! (where I work as a teacher), and we have been paired together since she started last spring. Manami is a fantastic jazz pianist, trained at Berkley, and a recording artist in her native Japan. She is a amazingly talented musician.
I sadly don't have any pictures of Manami, and since she's not on facebook, I couldn't steal any!

But she's also just super-duper fun! She always makes me laugh, and I can always count on her to make it a great day, no matter what. I am in awe of her constant optimism, sense of humor, boundless energy and the fact that she doesn't judge me for being upset when the french horn is sounding awful, or whatever non-essential thing is bugging me. She lets things roll off her back. I am generally not so easy going!

I hope that I get to see her on race day, doing a wild and crazy dance, jump, cheer, whatever, because I know it will make me laugh and I will take all the laughs I can get on November 7!

An Ode to Elyse Marrocc

I love every Thursday because I love going to the Lincoln Center location of my job and seeing the smiling face of Elyse!

Yes, this is a picture of Elyse with The Backstreet Boys... More on that later.

Elyse is a recent college graduate and hopes someday to be working in the music business industry, but for now is helping our little preschool music business. She is our office manager, meaning she deals with the crazy artists, the crazy parents, the crazy kids and still keeps coming to work. And she deals with me saying things like "Elyse, we're going to need two mini accordions stat!"

She is always happy. I actually don't know how she does this! But it is always a pleasure on Thursday mornings to come to work and check in with Elyse.

Elyse also writes an awesome blog, which you should all check out! It is so awesome, in fact, that she's getting paid to write it. Elyse is unabashedly in love with pop culture, and takes on no irony when she tells you she loves the Backstreet Boys. I like a girl who likes what she likes, no apologies.

Thanks to Elyse for a wonderful donation, and for making my day each and every Thursday!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Ode to Jodie Bentley

I am incredibly grateful for a generous donation from Miss Jodie Bentley. Jodie is an actress, singer and business woman extraordinaire, and a founder of the fantastic company, The Savvy Actor.

I "met" Jodie when I audited a class that Savvy Actor taught, and I can only say it changed my career life. Savvy teaches performers to find and be their most authentic self, and to take that energy and uniqueness and turn it in to a brand. It is very smart, and indeed very savvy!

After the class, I decided to use the one-on-one coaching services with Jodie. I am not sure I can really describe what the coachings were to me because they were so helpful on so many levels. It gave me guidance, confidence, a game plan. But there was one very distinct and important thing coaching did for me:

It made me decide to run the Marathon!

As part of my original prep work for my coaching, I had to set career and personal goals for the next few stages of my life. And a year ago I said in one year I would be running the marathon.

So here I am, about a month away from running 26.2 miles, in the best shape of my life, feeling strong and athletic and immensely proud, and I really have Jodie and The Savvy Actor to thank, for this, and much, much more.

Thank you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Ode to Jeremy Smith (and Billy Clark Taylor)

I am so fortunate to know Jeremy, who is the boyfriend and partner another Spitfire Grill (Roanoke Version) alumni, Billy Clark Taylor. Billy played my husband, Caleb, and let me just say: this boy can SANG. For those of you not in musical theatre, to be able to sing is one thing, but to sang, with an A, means you are at a different level. Billy has an amazingly beautiful and smooth voice, something that you honestly don't hear much of anymore. People don't write ballads for men anymore, unless they're pop-rock, power ballads. You should absolutely go to his website and give a listen and enjoy!
Me, Billy and Jeremy

So I met Jeremy during my stint in Roanoke, and Jeremy and Billy have the distinction of being the only other couple I know, besides the DBF and myself, that is a Corporate Lawyer and Actor Couple. In fact, at their most recent party, I almost got myself into trouble. The DBF had told me some "insider information" about the law world and some changes in workforce and allegiances, and had said to me "don't tell anyone about this". Well of course, when he said that, my thought was "Who would I talk to that would even remotely care!" A few nights later we happened to be at Billy and Jeremy's for a wonderful party, and I remember from somewhere in the cavities in my brain, that I actually have something interesting in the law world to talk about, so launch into a conversation with Jeremy about this law-gossip. Of course I couldn't keep all my facts straight and called the DBF to clear some things up, and he gently reminded me "Remember the thing that I told you not to talk about with anyone?" and we laughed. Now instead when he shares law-gossip he says "Don't tell Jeremy". It's much clearer.

But Jeremy has got the DBF beat on the Lawyer Actor Powercouple standpoint in one major way: he is a huge fan of Musical Theatre. Long before he met Billy, he was already collecting as many recordings of musicals as he could get his hands on. And when I say he's got almost all of them... he actually has a recording of almost every musical theatre production that ever did get recorded! Anytime I am looking for something obscure, or even not obscure, to learn for an audition or to get my hands on for reference sake, I know I can turn to Jeremy and Billy!

Jeremy and Billy also are two of my favorite people because they love food just as much as I do! In fact, Billy can attest that when I was doing Spitfire, I was not nearly the athlete that I am now training for the marathon. He was the one going to the gym every day to work out before coming to rehearsal or performance! But Billy knew then what I know now: you can't love food as much as the three of us do and not work out semi-regularly (and the truth of this statement goes exponentially higher the further you get away from 25!) I love hanging out with the two of them because I know we will always enjoy a fantastic meal, and if they are hosting, I know there will be delicious foods and baked goods!

I am just happy to be around them. They are a lovely couple, and they are strong and loyal to each other and the people they choose to call friends. I am humbled and honored by Jeremy's generous donation. The only thing we're missing is some desert. ;)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

An Ode to Natalie Newman

My dear friend Natalie Newman and I also met during the 3rd installment of The Spitfire Grill at Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, VA. If you're keeping score the only one without representation is the first one, in Memphis, TN. Step up to the plate, Memphis! ;)
Natalie and I at Magnolia Bakery in West Village

Natalie played Percy, and on stage we were best friends, and she remains to this day one of my best friends. I know I say this about all my friends, but she truly is amazingly talented. A true tripple threat, she can dance, act and sing, and she works all the time! In fact, that may be her only "fault" because she leaves town too much! I get lonely!

Natalie is dedicated, resilient, focused and ready for anything. No matter what the idea, Nataie is always game to try anything once! And I love that she isn't afraid of walking. When I suggest we walk from Chinatown across the Brooklyn Bridge to go see a movie, she doesn't flinch or think twice. Natalie experiences life through a very active and participatory way of living it! She's fun to be around, and she makes you want to enjoy your life more.

What I love about Natalie is no idea is not worth a shot. When I ask "Wanna come over and help me make zucchini bread, eat leftovers and watch reality tv?" She always has an enthusiastic response of "Yea!".

Natalie and I share obviously a love for theatre and not sitting still, but she is also a deeply spiritual person, so it's a wonderful gift to connect on that level as well. She is a rock of a friend. You know you can call on her: anytime, anywhere. She will not judge you, and she will not get bored with your stories or process. She is patient and kind.

I am very grateful for Miss Natalie and I'm honored that she chose to help me with the marathon by her donation. And I wish she would book a Broadway show so she would stop leaving town and hang out with me more often! Sounds good.
Yippee! Having fun in Roanoke!

Friday, October 1, 2010

An Ode to Stacie Bono

I am so grateful for the very generous donation of my beautiful friend Stacie Bono.

Stacie and I met when we were both in Astoria Performing Arts wildly successful production of Ragtime in the winter of 2009. Stacie played the coquettish Evelyn Nesbitt to a T, and she was always so spot on. I remember in the very beginning, at our very first rehearsals, hearing Stacie deliver a line and nail it, and for everyone to laugh (she's a fantastic commedienne), or to subtly break your heart a little and hear the moment of awe from the room. But then the realization dawned on us all that she was already knocking her performance out of the ballpark, and she could only get better through the rehearsal process, and therefore we would all have to start working harder to meet her at her level of talent.

(I would like to think the whole cast did that for each other: raised the bar, and everyone consistently met it after each raise, and went beyond. I think critics who reviewed the show would agree. But Stacie certainly made me quake in my boots almost immediately, the woman is so talented!)

But I want to write something here about Stacie that I hope I can accurately convey, and I don't know if I can use words eloquently enough to describe it. Stacie is a wonderful performer, absolutely. She has training and technique and is also just naturally beautiful, gifted and inspired. But she is uninhibitedly and unabashedly Stacie. So many performers try to phone in their best Indina Menzel or their best version of pop-rock princesses, or whatever it is they think "they" (casting directors, agents, whoever) are looking for. But Stacie is Stacie, and she shines. I envy this about her. There is a freedom to her performances and her vocal work that I admire and am quite jealous of.

Acting is a crazy business. Yes, it's crazy for lots of reasons, but for me the most consistently mind-bending is the concept of running your own small business that sells only one thing: you. To be objective enough to know how to prepare, present, refine and improve yourself, and to be consistently proud of that product... Stacie seems to have this one down.

So I am a huge Stacie Bono fan, because to me she exemplifies a type of grace and freedom which is not only inspiring but encourages her fellow co-workers to be more, and reach their fullest potential.

And she is a wonderful friend. I told the DBF recently that I would like it if she and I became better friends, and I asked him how do adults do that? Just choose to be better friends? The answer it seems has remained the same since our mothers were our social directors: you arrange a playdate.

Hopefully we'll have a playdate soon!