Category Archives: Musical Theater Adventures

I’ve been doing musical theater for a while now. Here’s some stories from my experiences on and off stage.

Top Five Scenic Painting Jobs

For someone who has always enjoyed painting, getting to move to larger projects via theatrical sets has been a great challenge over the past few years. Here are my top five favorite projects I have worked on thus far!

 

Honorable Mention- “21 Chump Street”- I was not on the official design/construction team for “Short and Sweet,” which is a collection of short plays and films that my college puts on once a year. However, a friend of mine was directing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 15 minute musical, “21 Chump Street,” and for her set, she was using the chalkboard from our scene shop. I was asked if I could add some graffiti to the chalkboard, which resulted in me spending an hour in the theater blasting Taylor Swift and going to town on the board. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

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5) “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”-This one doesn’t technically count as I really only painted one part of the set. “Schoolhouse” was the first show I ever did in college, and is still one of my favorites. While I was an actor in the production, I found myself wandering into the scene shop a few times to help on set construction. The first time I went in, I was told to finish putting together a set of stairs. After a few visits, I ended up painting most of the Lolly House, which ended up as the homebase for the band that was playing for the show. It was during this project I learned how to mimic the look of cinder block via sawdust and a hudson sprayer. Not gonna lie, it was pretty cool to be on stage every night with a set I had helped to create.

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4) “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged” –This is another one that I only did part of the painting process for, but it was because of “Schoolhouse Rock Live” that I was able to teach others some helpful techniques. Over the winter break of 2017, I was home in KC while my paint shoes were safe in their locker in St. Joe. “Surely I won’t need to take these home over break!” (Famous Last Words) Some of my dear friends were in a production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged” at the time through the theatre program I grew up participating in. I offered to come in and help gather costumes and assist in painting the set. Due to the limited amount of rehearsal time though, cast members filtered in and out of their rehearsal space and the warehouse where the brick walls were being painted. Since I had just worked on a brick project a few months beforehand, I was able to guide the process with students who hadn’t put a hand on scenic painting before. I came back into town a month later to see the show, and let me tell you, those brick walls looked super spiffy. Side bar: my purple converse ended up becoming my secondary set of paint shoes.

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3) “Blithe Spirit” –Ah, the biggest love/hate/mostly hate experience I have had thus far with a painting project. Let me preface this with the fact that “Blithe Spirit” is my favorite play that I have gotten to perform in thus far. British humor cracks me up, y’all. The whole play takes place in the living room of the Condomine house, so since there was only one location, we had a lovely, elaborate box set. God bless our Technical Director, Scroggs; his carpentry skills were off the charts for this project. There was so much math involved in creating the staggered walls of the set, and I am forever envious of those who have a natural knack for drafting. Those gorgeous walls needed a pattern though, which is where I came in. I spent about ten hours going up and down a ladder stenciling the massive set. The little paint roller I was using had a wonderfully frustrating habit of falling off the handle every five minutes, and I looked like I had leprosy every time I finished a painting session. Proud to say though, there was only one part of the wall that I messed up math-wise while painting. My stage husband enjoyed pointing it out to me every other day. It helped fuel our arguments during the show.  

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2) “Spring Awakening”-I live in the Midwest, and in the Midwest, there’s this thing called snow that likes to throw off everyone’s lives. The winter of 2018, we didn’t have as much snow, but goodness sakes, we had a ton of ice. We had so much ice that our campus closed for three days. Oh, did I mention that those three days were right in the middle of tech for “Spring Awakening?” Yeeeeeeeeah not the greatest timing. However, the show must go on, and the set must be finished. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Brett Carlson on creating 128 square feet of our “Song of Purple Summer” mural. Learning how to make canned paint look like watercolor was a fantastic skill to learn and led to a gorgeous end result. Replicating the process for KCACTF51 was terrifying because I wasn’t sure if I could measure up to what was made the year before, but I surprised myself by my recreation. (Fun fact: this show was one of the main reasons that Sweet Ben and I became good friends. It was a long process, but it was good to have a partner for the project.)

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1) “Antigone”-Woohoo for my current project! This design was a collaboration with Ben and our professor Jeff for our set design independent study. There was an afternoon where Ben and I were cleaning out the paint kitchen, and stumbled upon these banners that had been used for a show years beforehand. We were in the midst of brainstorming what we wanted the set to look like, and he had the idea to have some form of banners as part of the design. Ben’s got a knack for creating symbols, so together, we created runes for not only each character in the play, but also runes for characters that were part of the other plays in Sophocles’ trilogy about the line of Oedipus. From there, we ended up creating 14×5 foot banners that hang on either side of the stage. After Ben did the math, we drew out the symbols in a what we lovingly refer to as the “Death Tree.” I then spent a few hours filling them in with black paint (shout out to Ted Dekker for writing spooky books that are fun to listen to while painting for a Greek tragedy).

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The next day, I tea-stained the giant banners to tone down the brightness of the muslin we had painted on. We attached them to one of our batons so we could fly them out to dry. While looking at them, I was so anxious about the next step. Our idea was to make blood stains on the banners, but I loved how nice they looked up to this point. I didn’t wanna screw up the hours of work we had already put in! I spent about an hour mixing and testing different washes of paint to try and great the right color for the job. I ended up soaking the ends of the banners in a gallon bucket of the wash mixture I landed on. My hands were stained red and I looked like I had just committed a horrible crime. Following this, I went a little nuts with splatter painting, creating some pretty sick looking “blood splatters.” This technique only added to me looking like a psycho murderer, but dang, did those banners look awesome. It was a fun adventure to wander around the building while covered in the paint; I’ve never heard our costuming professor laugh as loudly as she did that afternoon.

 

While there have been moments of frustration and self-doubt while working on each of these projects, all of them led to really gratifying end results. Overall lesson from these experiences: don’t doubt yourself. Even if you make mistakes, you’ll always end up learning something new from each assignment you take on. Don’t be afraid to make a mess; the messy projects are usually the most fun!

 

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

My Top Five Stage Injuries (As of March 2019)

I have found throughout my experience of almost twelve years doing live performances on stage year-round that I am a very sturdy human. More often than not, I end runs of shows with multiple bruises and a few good stories. Most recently, I closed “Little Women,” in which I got to portray Amy March (check out my most recent post for more insight). Out of all the roles I’ve played, I didn’t expect the scariest injuries I’ve ever gotten on stage to come from this one. After almost losing my right eye in the middle of Act 1, I thought it would be fun to go back and tell some my “battle” stories. So, here are my Top Five Scariest Injuries in my Acting Career (thus far).

Honorable Mentions:
“Narnia”: While doing a stage combat workshop for the giant battle at the end of the show, little Abby got smacked in the face by a very thin, metal pole of a sword.

Stage Combat Punches to the Face: One when I was playing Fred Weasley in a combat workshop, one when my scene partner was on top of me and did not aim well (or aimed a little too well I suppose), and once when I was 18 and a 14 year old uppercut my jaw. The 14 year old cried more than I did; it was funny.

Sword on hand: I don’t remember what summer it was, but one year, the skin between my thumb and pointer finger on my right hand got nipped by a sword during a rehearsal. I’ve still got a scar.

5) “Alice” – Abby’s Head vs. the Concrete
Middle school was when I really started getting into stage combat. We were doing a reimagined/modern version of Alice in Wonderland, and I was playing the Unicorn. Now, the Unicorn and the Lion come on stage while fighting each other, and the main character interrupts us. We help her figure out how to get home, blah blah blah…that’s not important.
My dear friend Brooke and I were trying to figure out a cool fight to do for our scene. Our dance room in the church we rehearsed in had very hard concrete floors, so everyone was pretty careful when they were in there. However, while trying to work out a lift, Brooke accidentally flipped me backwards, causing my head to crash super hard into the ground. This is the first time in my life that I’m pretty sure I got a concussion, but didn’t go to the doctor for it. Hindsight…probably should have. I had quite a large lump on the back of my skull for about a week. Thank goodness this was not on stage.
4) “Mulan”- Abby’s Shin vs. the Mountain
This next memory is one that happened on stage, but not during a performance. During my junior year of high school, I got to play my favorite/the best Disney princess ever. Our set was absolutely incredible: it was basically a huge mountain. It was about eight feet tall and had a bunch of levels so that we could have a lot of variation in blocking. Shout out to the parents who put together that beast.
During one of the first tech rehearsals, I was running up the mountain to save Shang from dying, as princesses do. This was at a time in my life where I was a lot more klutzy, and my foot slipped on the edge of one of the levels. My body went flying forward, and my shin connected HARD with the step. I still have a scar from the dent that was put into my leg, and I was always slightly nervous about staying on my feet during that scene.

3) “Little Women”- Abby’s Head vs. the Couch
These last three incidents were things that happened during a performance. In other words, large crowds of people witnessed these occasions. Imagine if you will; it’s opening night of the first musical you’ve performed in for over a year. You’re playing a very dramatically bratty character who often throws temper tantrums on stage. During one of these fits, you are blocked to fling yourself backwards onto a couch. Well, during the first time you have an audience to watch the show, your head connects very hard with the wooden beam of the arm rest on the couch. And let me tell you, the THUD is quite loud.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I have actually heard an audience collectively exclaim, “oooooo” all that once. I could see the eyebrows of my music director, who was in the pit, almost fly off of his forehead. It is by the grace of God that my head hit at the fluffiest part of my wig and right where my braids were hanging out underneath my wig cap. If I had hit my head a little bit lower, things could have been a lot worse and much, much scarier. Good thing I have a thick skull!
2) “West Side Story”- Abby’s Foot (and the rest of her body) vs. the Fence
If you don’t know me in real life, let me paint a picture for you of what I look like: I’m five feet tall. That’s about all you need to know for this story. During my senior year of high school, I was playing a dream role of seven years: Anybody’s in West Side Story. Hanging out with some of my best bros, getting to dance and fight was extremely fun. Another thing that I got to do as this character was scale a 6 and a half foot chain link fence. While this was fun, it also was kind of terrifying every night, and sometimes impossible for me (which was SUPER embarrassing).
Whenever we jumped off the fence, we were told to jump forward a bit so as not to land on the “sidewalk” (a six inch platform on the stage). On one of the nights that I actually got over the fence, the arch of my foot landed on the edge of the sidewalk, causing a shock of pain to shoot up my leg. Luckily, it was a scene where I was supposed to be scared to death, so I was able to sort of play it off. At intermission, Officer Keary (one of my friend’s dad who is a police officer as well as a parent who is supportive of their child’s theatrical experiences) wrapped my foot, since the shock had left my ankle really sore. There was no visible mark left over, but man was that ankle sore for a bit.

1) “Little Women”- Abby’s eye vs. the Ice Skate
Again, I didn’t think that my scariest injury on stage would be during a show like Little Women, but alas, here we are. It’s the second to last show, and I am going through the scene in which I hit my head the week before. For some reason, my shoe is slightly loose, and for some other reason, I have a very difficult time getting the ice skates out of the box that they are set in. You would think that this would be the moment that an ice skate would fly up and hit someone in the eye, but oh no no, that’s not how my life works. I run over to my pal Libby, give her my sister stage hug, and then dash over to the coat rack that has my cape and bonnet. As I reach up for these props, the back corner of the ice skate swings up and smacks me in the eye. I half stumble off stage, dropping off the props as nicely as I could while also grabbing at my throbbing face. I feel a slightly squishy thing in the palm of my hand, and my first thought is, “oh man, is this part of my eye in my hand?” It wasn’t. It was just my contact. So, over the course of three minutes, the backstage team gets me contact solution, I miraculously get the tiny piece of plastic back into my eye, and get carried on stage for a scene in which I am crying after a near death experience. My mom just thought I really connected with the character that evening. I’ve never seen my peers that shocked on stage while still staying in character. It was super helpful to be able to actually cry during the scene, and you’d be amazed what performance energy can do for you when you have to do a happy-go-lucky production number.
After finishing my Act 1 scenes, I go downstairs, peel off my wig and curl up in Sweet Ben’s lap, waiting for one of the amazing ASMs, Elizabeth, to show up to clean my war torn eye. At this point, I’m laughing and making jokes already, and I think some of my peers thought I was a nut. Miss Elizabeth has excellent bedside manner and did a great job of doctoring the cut that was just below my eye and on my eyelid. Again, it is by the grace of God that injury was not so much scarier than it could have been. The next day, our stage manager asked me to keep cleaning the mess over the course of the day so as to prevent infection (because you can’t really put a bandaid on an eye). Me, trying to be tough or whatever, tried to clean it by myself, but ended up getting alcohol in my eye, which was quite counter productive. It was because of this that Ben ended up with the job of not only cleaning my eye every day, but also remembering/talking me into doing it. You can’t blame me for “forgetting”…it stung, okay! I didn’t like it. (However, it’s a week after that scare and the cut is almost completely healed. Huzzah for modern medicine and kind souls who are gentle and helpful.)

 
The biggest thing I have come to learn from all these injuries and every other bump and bruise I’ve gotten as a performer is to always get back up. You can’t let a misfortune scare you off from doing your best at your craft. To be completely honest, I’m sort of glad in a way to have dealt with these situations. They have made me stronger not only physically, but mentally as well. While I hope to not deal with anything more serious than I’ve already dealt with, I am grateful for the painful times that have helped me grow into a more resilient human being.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

In Defense of Amy March

52913877_393988021393058_494394256673210368_nLittle Women is one of my favorite musicals. Though the writing of the show can be weak (and very frustrating) at times, the show is near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen the show a handful of times and have always wanted to be a part of the production. When I found out that my college was doing the show last year, I was over the moon. The idea of auditioning was so exciting to me, and a few close friends in my life told me, “Ah man, you would play such a great Amy!” Here’s the deal though: I used to hate Amy March. Oh goodness, her track made me want to bang my head against the wall; the character was so irritating to me! Low and behold though, when auditions and callbacks ran their course, I found myself with the wonderful opportunity to bring this girl to life on stage.53267019_533478970513424_9212348036921950208_n

Since I’ve been involved in the performing arts, I’ve often been cast in “presentational” roles. In other words, I’ve had a lot of practice playing very silly and outlandish characters. It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I started to get the opportunities to play more grounded-in-reality characters, and even then, most of them have had some sort of quirky trait to them. Because of this, I have a tendency to be overly-punchy (punchy: v. to be very extra on stage) with my character choices. Recently, I’ve been working with my professors to become a more honest actress, which involves being pretty vulnerable on stage. This can be extremely scary at times. The best way I can describe it is feeling like you’re standing naked in front of people who are expecting some amazing feat from you. At first, you feel small, nervous, and like you want to burst into tears (and sometimes you do). But the more you do it, the more confidence you gain in yourself, and the more you realize you actually do have clothes on and that you are in control of what the audience sees from you.

53160175_364347857484983_1562172531467616256_nThe biggest challenge with Amy is seeing past her bratty nature. This girl is the youngest of four and looks up to her three older sisters. She especially idolizes Jo, but does not have a healthy way of expressing that, nor is she receiving the gentle, redirecting love she needs from an older sibling. Instead, she is harshly told her interests are silly and that she can’t come along to things she’s too young for. In a moment of frustration, Amy takes out her anger in a very destructive way. There is a reason she does the things she does. There is a reason she talks the way she talks. There is a reason she reacts the way she reacts. There is a reason she is the way she is: it is due to the influences of the people in her life.

Through this character study, I have come to better understand how to deal with not only hard-to-love roles, but also hard-to-love people. Everyone is the way they are due to the 52902829_2274365536220205_8833550887990329344_n
thousands of influences they have had in the span of their life. Via friendships, work, schooling, family dynamics, trauma, triumphs and so much more, we are shaped by the people and events that we encounter everyday. For example, I write the word “and” in a certain way because when I was six years old, a high school-aged girl was teaching a lesson in my Sunday School class and I saw her draw her “ands” in a way that my six-year-old self thought was really stinkin’ cool. The same goes for how I react to stressful social interactions, especially with other women. Because of multiple experiences going back to elementary school, I have had a hard time feeling like other females actually want to be my friend. It’s a really hard thing to deal with, especially when I’m constantly paranoid that ladies are gossiping about me behind my back. While in my head, I know that most of the time, this is not the case, due to previous experiences, I have been conditioned to be weary.

52895342_177495873133735_5806673484998246400_nBy walking (and running, stamping and dancing) in Amy’s shoes for the past two months, I feel that I better understand how to interact with hard-to-love people. When you play a character that you constantly feel that you are sticking up for, you find yourself saying the sentence, “They are the way they are for a reason,” an awful lot. While there is no excuse to treat people poorly, it is helpful to have the understanding that people don’t just lash out for no apparent reason. We are complex human beings who want understanding and love. Little Women will continue to be a show I hold near and dear to my heart, but now with a much deeper appreciation for this story. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Morgan Mallory and Dr. Paul Hindemith for giving me the opportunity to bring Amy March to life in our production. Getting to work on this show was one of the most educational experiences I could have gotten as a college student and I am so grateful for the many ways I’ve been able to grow while working on this process. This show has taught me once again to put my preconceived notions of people aside and truly look at the core of other broken, multilayered human beings.

 

Thank you, Miss March, for working on my heart with your story.

 

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Until Next Time,

Abby

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This weekend, CYTKC preformed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It was by far one of the best shows I have ever been a part of and I am so thankful for the whole experience. A few days have gone by since we closed the show, and there have been a few things on my mind.

 

To the parents:

Thank you so much for everything that you do. You are the reason that we as cast members are able to have incredible shows. Thank you for the many, many hours of work that you poured into the production. And to my wonderful parents, thank you for always supporting me through this six year journey with CYT. You have always been at every show and make me feel so loved. There have been many sacrifices made, and I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to be a part of something like this with my family.

 

To Meghan and Alisa:

Oh man, you ladies are awesome. Thank you so much for being great examples of Christ-like love and making sure that we stay on track. You do so much for us that we never see, and it’s awesome.  You both have lifted me up on days when I was down and I am so glad to have gotten to see you every time I walked into rehearsals.

 

To Lana, Nick, Lindsay, Jen and Michael:

You guys are the dream team. Thank you so much for investing your time and energy into helping all of us look and sound fantastic. You put up with 92 very noisy kids/teenagers for three months and still managed to love us even when we wouldn’t stop talking. Thank you for always pushing us to be better and never giving up on us. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to staff this show.

 

To the cast:

I love you all so much.

It was wonderful to get to grow closer to all of you and I’m so thankful to have gotten to go through this incredible show with you all. I am constantly amazed by each of you and I’m so glad to have gotten to hang around with really awesome people. This cast was so loving and talented and one that I will never forget. Shout out to my suitor and suitorette family; ya’ll are the bee’s knees ;P

 

 

This will be a show that I will treasure in my heart for years to come. I learned so much, from dancing to loving others, and I am so thankful for the past few months. Each show is so special, and I am so happy that I got to be a part of this one 🙂

 

 

 

Until next time,

Abby

 

Thoughts I Have While Practicing Piano

After playing piano for twelve years, there comes a point where you are able to just sit down and work on a new song with ease. Then, there are those other times were you want to throw your piano out the window because the song you’re working on has five key changes on every page. During my practice sessions, there are usually a few reoccurring thoughts that run through my head, and sometimes come out of my mouth as I mutter angrily as my dog looks at me like I’m crazy.

 

And what better way to illustrate these thoughts than with Hamilton? 🙂

 

“Aw, this looks easy!”

It’s probably in the Key of C at the beginning. False hope. It’s always false hope.

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“Shoot, octaves.”

My hands are small; octaves are hard.

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“Oh right, there’s three flats.”

Everything now and then, you forget, especially after you’ve already changed keys twice.

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“YEAH I GOT THIS!”

When I get the first page down of an eleven page song.

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“I’M THE WORST MUSICIAN EVER!”

When I can’t get the fourth page down of an eleven page song.

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“Why am I even doing this?”

When the music is no longer pretty.

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“Well, I guess it isn’t that bad.”

When someone says what I’m playing sounds nice.

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“YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!”

When I finally finish a song.

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Sometimes practicing can be a real pain, but it pays off in the end 🙂

 

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

 

BVN Repertory Theatre Presents “Jane Eyre: The Musical”

I’ve seen a lot of musical theatre, but I don’t think I’ve ever said, “wow” as many times as I did throughout Blue Valley North’s production of “Jane Eyre”. Over the course of two hours, this cast of high school students told the story of a young woman who faces trial after trial and through the course of the show, finds love. I was expecting a good show, but I wasn’t expecting something as extraordinary as what I saw tonight.

There was not a weak link in this cast. There was never one moment when I was cringing in my seat at a slip up or pitchy note. Each cast member was confident in their role, and therefore, every role was made important. From the school girls to Jane Eyre herself, each actor brought an emotion to their role that is a rare occurrence to see at a high school level. The ensemble worked as one unit to move the story along smoothly and professionally, leaving no dull moments in the show.

Along with the actors, the lighting, sets and music were absolutely fantastic. Lighting is extremely important, and I feel as though every lighting choice was beautifully chosen and executed perfectly. The sets were on and off quickly and professionally due to the efficiency of the cast and crew, not causing any delays or accidents. The design complemented the actors well and was the perfect fit for the production. The orchestra, consisting of Julie Danielson, Sean McCray, Kristen Xu and Vaugh Gessley, was gorgeous. Always on cue, this pit knew what they were doing, and they did a marvelous job.

I want to pay special notice to Elie Laville and Lexi Pudvan. Laville is the model leading man, bringing such intense emotion and a driving force every time he steps on stage. Playing the demanding Edward Fairfax Rochester, Laville’s acting and singing keeps the audience mesmerized,  whether he is shouting at his horse or pretending to be a gypsy woman. Pudvan, playing the title lead, is nothing less than phenomenal. Right from the get-go, she has the audience hooked, telling us her life story. With her amazing vocals and wonderful stage presence, Pudvan brings a certain kind of purity to her character that is often lost throughout the course of musical theatre.

I could not of thought of a better way to spend an evening. If you have the opportunity to see this show, take it. You will regret not getting to experience this amazing work of art. To the cast and crew, bravo. I thoroughly enjoyed all your hard work, and I wish you the very best as you close Friday night.

Charlotte Brontë would have been very pleased.

Until next time,

Abby

How to Survive Show Week (In Seven Easy Steps)

Ah show week: the most exciting part of the process of theatre (and also the most stressful). With adrenaline and emotions running high, it’s easy to crash and burn half way through the run of a show. That being said, I have devised a list of helpful tips to keep you on your toes and ready for each curtain rise during the week, without pulling your hair out (or wig off)

Let’s begin:

#1) SLEEP. 

It’s great! It fixes a whole lot of problems. Believe me, I love to say up late binge watching “Gotham” as much as the next kid, but sleep is really really important. It let’s your body repair and your mind to reset for the next day of performing.

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#2) Eat Healthy Food

I am notorious for snacking on junk food. Half the time, I forget to pack a lunch for the day, so I’m stuck munching on goodies from the vending machine. What I like to do is have a big bowl of pasta stocked in the fridge so that I can grab a quick meal before call time. Apples, peanut butter, and granola are also other favorites I like to have packed in my back pack so that I can grab a bite on breaks. Fruit, veggies and carbs are your friends!

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#3) Hydrate or Dydrate.  (Totally stole this from the Hesmans)

WATER WATER WATER. I am a total coffee addict, but water is so important. Last spring during Godspell, all of the disciples hid water bottles on stage so that we could grab a swig in between songs. Sometimes you have to be creative, but constantly hydrating will save you from getting super sick.

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#4) Don’t Sing All the Time

This goes out to all the musical theatre folks. Singing is great, but too much of it will kill your voice. If your director gives you the option to mark your songs during rehearsal, TAKE IT AND RUN. You’ve worked hard, you know your stuff, give yourself a break.

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#5) Have a “Comfort” at the Theater

In the company I do theatre with, we are all required to have “show boxes”, which is where all our costumes, make-up, and street clothes live while at the theater. It’s also nice to stash some sort of comfort item in your area, whether it’s a really cozy jacket, a blanket or even a stuffed animal. I am amazed by the diversity of pillow pets that I see during show week. I personally like to have my Clone Wars throw blanket with me to doze with on breaks or in between acts. No one is gonna judge; they might try to steal it though if it’s really awesome.

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#6) Get alone for at Least 5 Minutes

Even if you love people, being around 60+ people at a time can be extremely overwhelming. So whether it’s before or after a show, find time to get alone and center yourself. In the current theater we’re getting ready to perform in, I like to go to the steps by the tunnel that goes under the stage and talk to God before a show. Having a few peaceful moments can make all the difference (just make sure that someone knows that you’re having quiet time so they don’t think you went missing ;P).

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#7) Love Your Fellow Cast Members

The bond that you have with your cast will effect the entire course of your show run. If it’s not solid, it’s not gonna be a good week. You want to support the ones who are going through the story with you night after night, because they are going to be the ones to lift you up with you are struggling. Don’t be a diva, because you’re all in this together (yes, the pun was intended). Tell the person next to you that they’re doing a great job, and help that little kid make sure that they’re eye liner is straight. Little things like that can go a long way.

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All in all, show week is fantastic. You get to put on all the hard work that you’ve been pouring yourself into for weeks on end. So enjoy it! But don’t forget to take care of yourself and everyone around you 😉

Until Next Time,

Abby

The Legend of CYTKC High School Camp

Legend tells of a place called CYT Kansas City. Once a year, when the warm winds and humidity comes, creatures called teenagers gather together to do the unthinkable: learn a musical in a week. Guided by the wisdom of the Great Milbourn and her trusted team, these students sing, dance and sweat for hours upon hours, putting together an incredible show for all to see. Those who have experienced the final product of these fabled camps are astounded and amazed, while those who haven’t question whether this legend is true. They scoff at the idea of something so extraordinary being a possibility, even though through God, all things are possible.

It has come time once again for the high schoolers to gather in the Great Hall to work together to tell a hilarious and entertaining story involving love, betrayal, and the word, “pee” being said many, many times. They will push past their limits, and then push a little bit farther, and because of their hard work, they will put on an incredible show. And though they work hard during the daylight, in the evening, they come together and do something even more beautiful than performance; they worship their Creator as one, huge body of believers. It is a fantastic week of growth that not only blesses the audience with a wonderful show, but the campers with a deeper relationship with fellow believers and Christ.  So to the scoffers and skeptics, come see for yourself what teenagers can really do when given the chance to step up to the plate.

If you have yet to see a CYTKC Master camp, this is the show to come to. I highly suggest ordering your tickets online, because in the past, they have had to turn people away. It’s an incredible week and will be an awesome show. You don’t want to miss it! Here’s a link to order tickets: https://www.cytkc.org/gettickets.aspx

I hope to see you at the show!

Until next time,

Abby

Close Shave Presents “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

I have been doing and watching musical theater for quite some time now, and through my years as a performer and audience member, I have come to have a list of “favorites”. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is on that list. I’ve seen it six different times, each cast being very different from the other, but Close Shave’s production of the show is by far the best version I have ever seen, and one of the best overall productions I have seen performed by high school students. But what made this cast and performance so special? Well, for starters, it was directed by teenagers. Yes, you read that right: teenagers, ranging from the ages of 15 to 19, all of who have performed in numerous musicals before, organized and led the cast (with the help of some very incredible parents). That’s not something that happens very often. Then there’s also the fact that it was a quality performance. If you’ve watched a lot of theater, you know that there are some shows that you go to where you are just gripping the edge of your chair, fighting the urge to run out the doors. The cast was fully engaged in their world; always reacting to each other and making the audience connect on an emotional level. But the reason I loved this show so much was that they made it a show about people, which can be a lot harder to pull off than you would think.  Each character gives you a different perspective on competition, the value of hard work, and the importance of each individual life.

Rona Peretti, played by Olivia Schneider, brings a light hearted take to the Bee. Once a champion herself, she is played opposite Evan Phillips, who plays Douglas Panch, the school’s Vice Principal. Very dry, very funny, Phillips brings a comedic energy to the stage while Schneider is loving and understanding of the kid’s feelings during the competition. Mitch Mahoney, played by Erin Cangelose, is a “comfort counselor” doing community service while on parole. She is “on” while on stage; constantly reacting snidely to the events of the Bee and every now and then, yelling at an uncooperative speller.

Chip Tolentino, played by Andrew Ascher, is the picture of a “good, all-American kid”. Boy scout and past spelling bee winner, he gives the example of how it you don’t always get your way, how you react shapes you into who you are. You can let situations that don’t really matter in the long run destroy your self esteem, or let them build you up. Ascher brings a very charming yet still innocent take to Chip’s character, which can be difficult while singing about… well, a distraction (My Unfortunate Distraction).

Leaf Coneybear, played by Ryan Beard, is a character that has a very positive outlook. Homeschooled, he is, quite frankly, really weird. But unlike Chip, he is constantly optimist through the story, and is a happy-go-lucky character. It’s interesting to see his reactions throughout the Bee, because unlike many of the constants, he is just super happy to be there, and is hoping to prove to his gigantic family that he is more than they think he is (I’m Not That Smart). Beard is hilarious, and is excellent at playing the stereotypical homeschooler with his impressive comedic timing.

Marcy Park, played by Faye Rebottaro, is the polar opposite of Coneybear. She’s the girl who can do it all, which is something that is a heavy weight on her shoulders. She has a reputation for winning and being incredibly well rounded, and I feel that her character conveys one of the biggest points of the show: Winning isn’t everything; even Jesus, played by Tyler MacSweeny, didn’t care if she won the Bee or not. Rebottaro is fantastic at playing the straight laced character, never breaking her stone face demeanor, and is also very entertaining with her tricks on stage (I Speak Six Languages).

Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre, played by Alyse Berger, was the character that pulled on my heart strings the most throughout the show. She is the youngest speller in the bee and the adopted daughter of two gay fathers, played by Randy Jackson and Daniel Verschelden. They are the definition of helicopter parents, constantly pushing her to be the very best, stressing to her that “God hates Losers” (Woe is Me). Out of all the times that I have seen this show, this was the first time that Logainne’s character made me cry. Many people can connect to Berger’s performance of a child who is trying their very best to live up to ridiculous expectations and who is scared to death of failure.

William Barfee, played by Zach Faust, is one of the more eccentric characters in the cast, with his funny voice and his spelling technique (Magic Foot). Though he loves spelling (and being right), he is also a lover of science, which is not encouraged by his step-mother. He has a hard outer shell, but has a softer side that comes as the show progresses. Faust, who is on his second run of playing this character, brings a hilarious boy who struggles with major nasal issues and people skills into a new light from other productions, and is an actor who is the glue on stage for his fellow cast mates.

Olive Ostrovsky, played by Libby Terril, is the sweetheart of the show. A very shy, timid little girl, she is dealing with the absence of her mother, played by Olivia Schneider, who is in India to “find herself”, and the emotional absence of her father, played by Christian Geil. There is the underlying idea that she is being abused by her father, who is angry that his wife is gone (The I Love You Song), but through out the show, you see the character gain confidence that was buried inside of her. Terril makes you feel for this little girl, and you as an audience member, you want to see her succeed.

Putnam made me feel for these characters. Every one of them had a life outside of the Bee, but all of their lives came together in the school gym. Each was very different from the person sitting next to them, but all of them were extremely important. This show gives a powerful message: People are very important. We often get so swept up in ourselves that we forget how special and valuable other people are. I will never look at this show the same way after watching the performance this afternoon, and I highly suggest that you take the opportunity to go see this incredible cast tell a powerful story about people. Below, there is a link listed to order your ticket online. It is HIGHLY suggested that you order online, two shows are just a few tickets away from being sold out.

Thank you, Putnam Cast, for putting on such an incredible performance. It is one that I will hold in my heart forever 🙂

Until Next Time,

Abby

SHOW TIMES ARE 2PM, 7PM, AND A NEWLY ADDED 10PM SATURDAY, JULY 11TH! ORDER TICKETS NOW!!!!

http://closeshave.storenvy.com/

Photo credit to Cameron Pratte, the Director of Advertising for Close Shave Productions https://www.facebook.com/closeshaveprod?fref=ts

Things I Learned While in California

I’m a Midwest girl; born and raised, I’ve lived in the middle of the USA my entire life. But recently, I went San Diego for an Improv competition and got to experience life on the West coast. I’ve always been interested in surfing, skate boarding, and just traveling in general, so getting to experience that life style for a week was incredible. Below is a list of things that I learned while spending time away from home:

1) I have to start working harder at learning different languages (mainly Spanish).

2) Becoming more coordinated would be awesome, as I desperately want to learn how to surf someday.

3) Sunscreen is EXTREMELY important, as is reapplying said sunscreen.

4) The ocean is breath-taking, and a lot colder than you would think.

5) Art can be found anywhere, even electrical covers.

6) You have to keep trying sushi to get used to it.

7)  Sand. Gets. Everywhere.

8) You can pull up to the beach with a sketchy white van and let people take pictures by it, as long as you have four exotic birds with you.

9) California has super good ice cream places.

10) There are so many opportunities on the coast for the career path that I’m pursuing, but I can’t get those opportunities without working hard at home. It’s great to have dreams, but you have to work to achieve them.

I am so thankful for the time that I got to spend in California. It was a big eye-opener, and I feel very motivated to start working even harder at refining my skills as an artist, writer, performer, and leader. I hope to head back to San Diego someday for a longer stay, but until then, I’ll be chasing my passions back home and working my tail off to be the best that I can be.

Until Next Time,

Abby