Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Book of Mormon: some tough love for the tour

The original Broadway cast of "The Book of Mormon."

The original Broadway cast of “The Book of Mormon.”

Let’s just get this out of the way. If you are offended by cursing, genital mutilation, sodomy jokes, or are religiously sensitive, you should not see this show. (Although the Mormon Church took out three full-page color ads in the program with clever tags like “You’ve seen the play, now read the book!” Ten points to them.) Also, if you don’t know what “South Park” is, you probably should just find a nice Spencer Tracy movie to watch on AMC.

And now on with the show.

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Audition Advice

So far I am succeeding in filling my life with theatre, which is awesome.   I have been cast in a play — a one act that is slated to go to a local community theatre festival.  And my character has a name!  With lines!  AND (spoiler) a death scene!  I start rehearsals for that next week.  Tonight I am going to go see Book of Mormon (stay tuned for a review!) and tomorrow night I’m going to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch live, which should be pretty fricken amazing.  I had an audition last Sunday, I have another one tomorrow, and a third next week.

I know that I’ve had a good audition when I black out.  Let me explain.  When I have a bad audition, I remember every painstakingly awful detail.  How all of a sudden I notice that I smell like cat food.  That my right heel clicks louder than my left.  That I choked on that note that I could hit FINE in the stupid bathroom, yet, maddeningly, managed to hit the high note (why is this?!).  That I laughed too loud at the music director’s REALLY stupid joke.  That I wasn’t friendly enough to the person checking me in who turned out to be the director’s boyfriend/girlfriend/sexual partner.

When I have a good audition,  I don’t remember a thing.  Maybe because I feel so good about it that my brain decides to move on and not let me dwell?  It’s a weird selective memory.  I don’t remember any of the awesome parts in detail, just the general feeling of not being a screw-up.  Last Sunday, I had a good audition.  I felt confident, I felt prepared.   The first song I sang was “Heartbreaker,” and I killed it.  I even got a “wow” out of them.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a pity wow, but I honestly don’t remember it well enough to replay it in my head.  Which signals to me that it was a good “wow” (I swear, it was real, they were impressed, they loved it, don’ttakethatfrommedagnabbit).

But the second song I chose was a cut from “Climbing Uphill” from The Last 5 Years by Jason Robert Brown.

Let me say this.  I remember two things about the audition vividly.  The first is that I couldn’t find the damn door on the way out (it was a black door with no door jamb flush against the black theater wall, okay??)  And the other is that the pianist said that I would have to bribe her with a bottle of wine next time I brought in a song by JRB.

Which brings me to the titular phrase of this post, my advice for all you auditionees:

Never do a Jason Robert Brown piece at an audition.

Just don’t.

For those that don’t know, Jason Robert Brown is a musical composer renown for writing really awesome music, but also music that is impossible to play.  I used to put the caveat of “unless he’s there to play it,” but I’m going to backtrack on that.  I’m convinced that not even he could play his own music under pressure.

I know you sound awesome singing it.  I know it was secretly written for you.  I know that you’ve planned to sing it for three weeks and the audition is tomorrow and so it would be imprudent to change the song.  I just don’t care.  Change it to “My White Knight.”

Actually don’t, that’s a really stupid song.

But just don’t do a Jason Robert Brown song.

Despite all that, I still say it was a good audition, even though I didn’t get a callback.  I feel like I gave them something to think about, which is important.  Even if the next time I audition, they think, “Oh yeah, that’s the girl who stumped our piano player and couldn’t find the door.  But I’m pretty sure we wowed at her ‘Heartbreaker,’ though.”

And that is my PSA for the week, folks.  Audition tomorrow!  Singing “Gorgeous” from The Apple Tree and “If He Really Knew Me” from They’re Playing Our Song.  Neither are by Jason Robert Brown.

Fifty shades of stupid: It’s a trap!

Alright.  By now at least someone you know has read 50 Shades of Grey, or you’ve read it, or you’ve heard of it, or your favorite sex shop is inexplicably covered in “50 Shades Inspired Kits!”

I too was curious about this “phenomenon,” or at least about how people were so surprised about it.  I mean, women reading erotica?  With sex in it?!  Get out of town and take a bus!  I admit I read the Twilight series.  It was all pretty awful, the writing, the characters, the story.  And yet somehow awfully engaging.  Bella is a disaster of a shero nightmare from the Hades pit of despair.  As a lover of Tamora Pierce, I felt the icy grip of shame clutch at me whenever I read a page of Bella’s incessant whining.  So when I heard someone had published some erotic fan fic, and that the public at large was into it, I was curious, but not ready to commit.

Fortunately I was saved.  Apparently E.L. James is a worse writer than Stephanie Meyer, has unwittingly (I can only hope) romanticized domestic abuse and completely and totally misrepresented the kink/BDSM community in ways that amount to slander.  The fact that she barely admits that her work is fan fic and actually is SUING PEOPLE FOR WRITING FAN FIC BASED ON HER NOVELS makes me actively dislike her.  But what alerted me to these horrors and saved me from wading into a feminist nightmare alone was a woman named Jenny Trout.

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Heard any good funeral jokes lately?

I had always happily envisioned myself in 50 years or so becoming a delightfully crabby old lady, hitting people with my cane and making inappropriate and salty comments at whomever I pleased, much to the horror of my children and the awe of my grandchildren.  I wanted to be known as a “tough old bird.”  I wanted people to mutter “old bat” as I passed.  I wanted Old Lady Notoriety.  Honestly, I was looking forward to it.

I mean, really, who DOESN'T want to be the Dowager Countess?

I mean, really, who DOESN’T want to be the Dowager Countess?

However, after a couple recent events, to my mild discomfort and disappointment, I’m rethinking this plan.  The second time was today at the grocery store where I was waiting patiently to get in line and some lady growled at me, “You gotta choose ONE!” in that crotchety, yet smug voice that knows that you can’t say anything about her being rude because it would be rude (Old Lady Logic).

But what kicked it off was this.  Last night I was at a nearly empty restaurant with some friends and somehow the conversation drifted to death.  I don’t even know how we got there, but it doesn’t matter.  We pretty much spent the remainder of the meal swapping funny and disconcerting death stories.  As I was rounding the bend on a particularly farcical tale, an elderly woman (with a cane, I might add) hobbled past us and interrupted me to say, “It’s funny how you find humor in death.”

Not understanding her meaning (and, with hubris, thinking she was somehow complimenting us), I responded with a disarming smile, “You have to.”

And she replied with the heaviness of age and disapproval, “Not that way.”  A phrase that she repeated a few more times as she made her way out of the restaurant.

When my face stopped burning, I muttered under my breath, “Must have hit too close to home,” which, upon reflection, was an uncharitable thing to say, but, hey, she really ruined my flow.

So this got me thinking — were we being disrespectful?  Or, more to the point, were we being too LOUDLY disrespectful?  And how long was she listening?  Because we covered a lot of ground in an hour.  My funeral stories all stem from the only funeral that I have ever experienced, that of my grandmother Hilda Mae.  Although I didn’t know my grandmother very well as an adult, she bore nine children, so I’d like to think that she had some sense of humor.  And I wasn’t making fun of HER. . . just a few incidents surrounding her death and funeral.

My grandmother at my age.

Who could make fun of this woman?
Here she is, holding up her kill,
warding off dissenters.

Aw hell, I’ll just tell you.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Fan Fic

So I managed to find a couple other writers who are interested in actually producing some writing instead of falling into the pit of uselessness that I have only just recently crawled out of.

Ahem.

So once a month I will be posting my exploits!  This month’s theme was fan fic — you know, start us off easy.  I went with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, if that wasn’t already obvious from the post title.  I didn’t polish it or anything, I mostly just wanted to get my muscles moving again.  Also, I grew up on the ’80’s cartoon and the live action movies, so I’m working from those universes.  I decided to go with the lore where Splinter was once Hamato Yoshi, as opposed to Yoshi’s pet rat.  (A pet rat learning karate?  That’s just nuts!)  Enjoy!

Here’s the super awesome theme song to get you in the mood :)

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The sewers were super Mother-of-God stinky that day.  Michelangelo, in his usual almost-helpful way, had ordered several anchovy and bleu cheese pizzas in an effort to cover it up, but it really wasn’t working.  Plus, to add insult to injury, the other three turtles thought bleu cheese on a pizza was practically sacrilegious.

“You might as well put ranch dressing on it and move to Santa Monica,” grumbled Raphael.  “You can’t even pick this crapola off.”

“Leave him alone, Raph, he was just trying to help.”  Leonardo diplomatically chewed his slice, but his heart wasn’t in it.

“I like it!”  Michelangelo enthused, helping himself to another half of a pie.

“Yo Donnie, can’t you dream up some sort of wind machine to blow this stink outta here?  It fricken reeks!”

Without removing his protective goggles, Donatello poked his head out from the second story of his workshop and looked down at his brothers.  Raph’s red-masked green face glared up at him.  “There are too many tunnels.  By the time I finish building enough turbines, it would be high tide again.”

“Besides, it’d be a waste of energy to power them all,” added Leonardo.  “Just deal with it, Raphael.  There’s nothing we can do.  Master Splinter said we had to stay down here while he was away.”

“We could have asked him before he left, but someone wanted to be a goodie goodie two-shell. . .”

“How many times do I have to remind you that Master doesn’t like to be interrupted while he’s packing?!  He could forget something!”

“Yeah, like his toothbrush!” Michelangelo said helpfully.

“Damn it, Donnie, can’t you do anything?  Aren’t you supposed to be some sort of genius inventor dude?!  Ouch!”  Raphael rubbed his nose and looked down at the projectile his brother had chucked at him with stinging accuracy.  At his feet was a clothespin.

“Ooo, Donnie’s throwing presents!” Said Michelangelo, bounding to Raphael’s side and leaving a trail of toppings and hot pepper packets.  “I want one!  Ouch!”

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