Monday, February 21, 2011

If I'm this miserable, it must be a holiday weekend...

Don't get me wrong. The big holidays? Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Independence Day? Love 'em. I do. It's these little ones, where the world still goes on full tilt with the holiday incorporated that make me want to kick people.

I'm pretty sure that this is a learned behavior. Specifically learned from my time spent on the Walt Disney World College Program. You see, on the big holidays--and I was there for both Easter and the Fourth--it's SO crazy that it's almost endearing. It was the little holidays--Memorial Day, President's Day, MLK--that make people act like they were raised by wolves. The problem with President's Day, especially, is that there really isn't anything festivity-like to attach to it. I guess when you're in elementary school you make an Abe Lincoln hat out of cardboard and talk about George Washington and the cherry tree. But after you're grown up? It's just a day where your kids don't have school and you don't have to work.

Which brings me to my point...since there's not any kind of local history program presentation like on MLK Day and it's too cold for a picnic, everyone goes shopping. Which is fine. I LIKE shopping. However, since the ladies in question also brought their husbands and offspring? SO NOT COOL. I'm guessing that most husbands don't really want to be in the grocery section of the local Target. Or the ladies' clothes section. Or the health and beauty section. The reason I guess this is because they are wandering aimlessly. They are standing smack in the middle of the aisle. They are staring at products they can't begin to understand. And you? What are you doing? You are discussing AT LENGTH with them, while they block all the aisles, no less, the merits of generic ibuprofen versus Advil. Why? Just...WHY??!?! (I'm not even gonna start on the obscene number of men who were shuffling around Anthropologie. If they don't want to be at Target, then I can assure you they don't want to be in a fancy ladies' clothing store.)

And then there's the kids. Lord love 'em, they had apparently all lost their mind. Apparently they were all very saddened to learn that George REALLY never chopped down that cherry tree, because more crying, screaming, tantrum throwing, I have never seen. And you will note that I already said I WORKED AT THE MAGIC KINGDOM. And I'm going to need absolution for this one: I see some little monster running around the store at Mach 12 and she's carrying an entire cup of quarters (Just come from the slots at Atlantic City?) And she falls over her untied shoelaces and quarters go EVERYWHERE. And I had to turn my cart down another aisle and laugh. So I'm going to hell.

So, here's to holiday weekends. Most especially the part where they're over.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thirty Minutes of Wonderful: My Northern Steel Magnolias

I was in my first theatrical production--it involved the children's choir of the First United Methodist Church of Gadsden, Alabama--when I was six. By the time I was ten, I had moved on to the local community theater. I have dabbled ever since.

Okay, "dabbled" isn't the right word. "Dabbled" implies that I did it casually or on occasion which while true for some years, doesn't even begin to cover most. I have done costume design and worked box office and built sets and served on the production committee and directed and choreographed and been on the board of directors and stage managedan. All of it. Sometimes more that one of those things at a time. But mostly, I've performed.

When I moved to New Jersey in 2005, I was coming off a period of four straight years where I had been involved, usually on stage, with community theater productions. And it's not like I told myself I was going to take a break. It just sort of happened. For one thing, having worked almost exclusively with various theaters within a thirty mile radius of my hometown, I guess I was shy. Even though I'm really not. It was the idea of, at the age of thirty, suddenly being....well, without a net. It was so strange--the idea of walking into an audition where I didn't know a director or musical director or choreographer or even another actor auditioning--that I just left it alone.

And then two years ago, almost exactly two years ago, in fact, I went to see my friend, Allison, in her show that was going out on tour. She had been cast in an Equity children's show which was going to tour the west coast and their first show as they made their way west was going to be at the local community college. Of course, I couldn't miss this, so on Valentine's Day afternoon, I, along with about 200 mothers and preschoolers, filed into a theater to watch If You Give a Pig a Pancake. But fate being what it is, I was also handed a brochure that outlined all of the OTHER shows--community and college--that were being performed. And lo and behold, right there in July--Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Now, to be honest, it's not, when taken purely on its own merits, one of my favorites, but I must admit that the one time I had done it was one of my favorite experiences. And for that reason alone, it will always hold a special place in my heart. And so, with sweaty palms and a hammering heart I waited until the auditions were officially announced and scheduled one. And the rest is history. I loved it. I met some REALLY great people. And I was once again in the whirl of the community theater world.

Which brings me to now. Now, I am preparing to play Shelby in Steel Magnolias. It's my fifth New Jersey show. And I have loved them all. But I can't help but think that THIS show is going to be one of those--like the original Joseph, and the first time I did Godspell, and Little Women--that I will hold dearly in my heart forever.

I'm pretty sure that part of it is that I am so far from the world it portrays. And that for a few hours a few times a week, I can imagine that I am immersed in the gentle rhythms and molasses in January pace of a small, southern town again. Or maybe it's that, more than any other show I've ever done, I GET this one. I grew up--and I mean from the time I first sat in a beautician's chair until the day I moved away--getting my hair done at a place where I knew everybody. Where the lady (and she was and is a lady in the truest sense of the word) who cut and styled and washed was a FRIEND. She had known my mother before I was born. Her kids were in my mother's class when they were in third grade. And she always had the best, the most entertaining, the absolute most intriguing stories of what was happening in town. The grand dames of the play--Ouiser and Clairee--my great-aunts and the ladies at my church. I am pretty sure that given the chance, my dad and brother would LOVE to strap firecrackers to a bow and arrow and shoot it into the trees. And then there's M'Lynn and Shelby. Ok, so I don't have diabetes. But that relationship--there are so many little things that come so easily because I can see my mother and I having, if not that exact conversation, then something eerily similar. And Shelby herself--the pink, the sorority, the slightly snarky side that made her FIRST notice Jackson because of his non-existent dancing prowess--I just get her.

I am the resident expert on pronunciation--"oil" and "syrup" and "New Orleans" and "Karo". Knowing that it's not "cola" or "Coca-cola" but most definitely "co-cola". I don't even question that Clairee is obsessed with football. OF COURSE Ouiser grows tomatoes--didn't my own grandmother do the same every summer?

And the ladies in the show with me...oh, I must use southern superlatives--the cutest, most precious, loveliest, sweetest ladies you could imagine. And so, for a couple of months, I am in sweet home Alabama. Ok, Louisiana, but close enough.

It's REBOOT TIME, baby

I actually started this blog about three years ago. And I must admit I did one hell of a piss-poor job at it. You see, my general practice is to have some crazy awesome idea about a topic to discuss. But it's always when I'm in the produce section of the grocery store or the waiting room at the orthodontist or some other place equally unsuited to doing something about it. And then I get distracted with my day and end up sitting in front of the computer with a weird "Duh" look on my face while I concentrate on what that brilliant idea that flittered ever so briefly through my mind was.

So I have decided to start this over. I deleted everything that has gone before. It is as though it never happened. We'll never discuss it and it will fade into the vast oblivion of the interwebs.

This is what starting over looks like.