Thursday, October 24, 2013

Penance

Sometimes the Universe pushes you over, kicks you about a bit, throws some rocks and runs away laughing

But then it feels remorse and it sends you little charms to make up for its despicable behaviour

Now is one of those times:D When I find out precisely what the charm is I will share it, until then it is a happy secret as Jim Rado's lyrics would say 'a coal of fire to warm me'

And it is frickin' cold this week.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Anel turned 24!

My dearest Anel Carmona Lopez yesterday hit 24 years of age.  We went to her place where we drank whisky and gave gifts (myself and Lola got her an official 'Friends' tshirt from the NBC store with a quote from her favourite character - Anel is a Friends nut).  We also played a game and ate this incredibly beautiful cake from Magnolia bakery

Anel's nickname is Anel Pastel, pastel being typically Spanish for cake - you can say pastelito which means like 'little cake' so sometimes she is just Pastelito.  So this is literally an Anel Pastel.  Look at it, bloody gorgeous, and delicious too.

I have more pics to add here because an amazing thing happened - my four original AMDA girl friends and I, for the first time in a long while, were all dressed to the nines, high heels and everything, and we inadvertently all coordinated in black black with a hint of black.  Meaning that we looked like either a really fierce girl band or the ensemble cast of a very glamorous TV show doing a photo shoot for the season box set cover (Desperate Housewives, for example).  And for fun and also because we haven't had a new group picture for a while and because it's been so long since we all got dressed up, we took a lot of pictures, coming soon.

We went to a cool place in the East Village called Kingston Hall, a busy and obviously well-loved bar with Colonial Jamaican themed decor and drinks where they played great music all night and we had tables reserved so we could all sit and toast the Birthday girl in comfort.  And Sam almost started an argument with some people who refused to move from our reserved table.  Snort.









*EDIT*







Thursday, October 17, 2013

HUUUGE blogpost!

It's been a while since I had a photo blast...here's a few, and also the lowdown on last week.

First, daily cuteness:



Look at that kid! Adorable.  That's Ari at around 7 months now which means I've known him about 5 months! Wow!

Ok when you've all finished awwwing, let's talk about the ride that was Supersoldier.

Review: got cast in the ensemble of the reading of 'Supersoldier' which is the newest incarnation of a musical originally called...I forget, it's had many names, but it has been around since the 70s when it was performed off-Broadway.  Jim Rado wrote all the music and lyrics, and wrote the book alongside his brother Ted.  Jim also co-wrote Hair, cult favourite, widely considered Broadway's first concept musical, unlike anything before or since.
Here's a bit about Supersoldier.  It is set in an alternative version of the now, on both Earth and on a rainbow.  Literally, on a rainbow.  That is above the Earth.  And is populated by the Rainbeams, Red Yellow Orange Green Blue Indigo Violet...and Blanche.  'Blanche means white you know soldier.  I stand out because I'm Blanche Dubois...you know, Stella's sister?'  So Blanche is - again, quite literally - the character from A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.  No symbolism, it's just Blanche Dubois.  Also on the rainbow live Mother and Father - sort of like Mama Earth Papa Earth figures, they are spiritual parents not actual parents.  We find out during the show that each Rainbeam bar Blanche was once a soldier killed on the field of battle.
So our main character, Billy, begins the show by being wounded in a battle and the opening song says 'Bombs of glory took away our innocent lives, 
Bullets, shrapnel cut me like a hundred knives
And now I'm left with nothing
No breath no blood
No flesh no love
And I once hoped for heaven in this life'

I think it was originally intended to be based on either Afghanistan or Iraq but it could also be a fictitious war in the parallel universe that the show lives in, as the 'villain' of the piece is the President of the USA, a fictitious President Fabu who embodies the 'twisted-ruler-under-the-control-of-his-yes-men-and-money-and-demands-from-other-countries' archetype.  His songs, gloriously sung by Vishal Vaidya, include 'The Important Word'
I fear nothing
I fright nobody

I'm scared of the shadow, the Fuzz and it
I stretch my palm to save thy son
I'm king of the madhouse because I fit
I kvetch, and bomb, and wave my gun

And 'Moosh'
We want our manganese, we want our manganese, 
We want our oil our oil our oil our oil
And I don't mean olive

And 'You've Got To Be Clever'
You've got to be naughty, you've got to be nice
You've got to remember we're rolling the dice

This President Fabu goes on a journey from stereotyped oil-drinking George Bush-type president whose presence on stage is accompanied by his big-haired gaudy and ditzy First Lady and vaudeville-style songs, to a destroyed and confused man singing heartbreaking and dark numbers alone in his own head.

Got a bit sidetracked but the President's journey is massively important.  Back to Billy - so Billy is wounded in this war.  His soul leaves his not dead but very close body and he finds himself on a spiritual plane - the rainbow.  The Rainbeams have brought him there to heal his broken spirit, which they attempt through various means: Indigo and Violet vie over who can lavish the most romantic attention on him.  Mother calls Dr Jung Freud Banana - a banana who is also a doctor.  Yes.  To give Billy a metaphysical.  Also yes.  She also sends him for aromatherapy among the flowers where Green attempts to seduce him.  Red sings an uplifting country bluegrass song with no relevance to the plot but it is one of my favourites.  They sing about how they love him, and a beautiful ballad to the stars 'starry cold night, save us with your music, star music, music to find us by'
Err also about guinea pigs...that's a song you kind of have to hear...it makes so little sense that it makes total sense, and is super fun to sing and would be an audience participation classic.

So Billy's on the rainbow and he's enjoying it well enough but he is worried about how his body is doing and is also convinced that he needs to find his Sergeant - Sergeant Stoner.  Ohhh yes, this is after all a Jim Rado show.  Meanwhile in the President's office, he is up in the polls which is good news, and we learn that his Vice President is a shady character and master of propaganda.
Off goes Billy, off go Indigo and Violet to check out how his body is doing down on Earth.  When they return Billy is all set to jump back into his body and excited to go and protest about war and try to make a difference because his experience on the rainbow has left him feeling enraged that he killed for his country and that he never wants to kill again.  Just as he is about to depart however, they learn that his body down on Earth has just died.  So he is trapped in the netherworld between being a ghost and being a rainbeam.  Devastated by the news of his own death, Billy throws in the towel and his spirit dies too, because it did not find peace.  BUT he is being helped by a mystical rainbow race so naturally his spirit doesn't stay dead for long, they revive him through Transmogrification and Jesus Christ makes a cameo, natch.
So the brand new shiny Billy is what they call a 'solid-bodied ghost', a being who will be able to return to Earth and people won't know he is a ghost unless they touch him because he will be freezing cold.  And when he has done what he needs to do (which will help him find his peace) he will be able to ascend happily to the rainbow.
Billy goes to see the President and basically freaks him the fuck out.  There is a great song called The World is Round
The World is round it has no sides
Take a lesson from that

Don't take sides, sides can only mean you're square
Or rectangular
Or triangular

When that reasonable argument doesn't do much, Billy gets angry.  The President is naturally unnerved by him because 1) How did he get in?? 2) Why is he so disrespectful to his commanding officer 3)Why are his hands SO COLD???

To shut him up the President says let's see a real American hero, bring in the Sergeant! And it is none other than Sergeant Stoner, who is astonished to see Billy thinking he was dead.  They talk, and they both realise that what shot and killed Billy was not enemy fire - it was his own Sergeant, confusing him in the madness of the battle for the enemy.
When they learn this, both soldiers turn on the President, incandescent at the fact that they are even killing their own friends because of this perpetual war.
There is a beautiful and moving song, 'American Soldier'
I was killed by friendly fire
My death, it was mistaken
Now I'm gone
But now I'm here
As a ghost to tell the truth about what happened

I was killed by an American soldier
(He is dead from an American soldier)
(Yes he faced the bloody spree)
Now I am on bended knee
To implore you
To implore you
To implore you
To implore you
As commander in chief of this army
I implore you to end war

President Fabu has had just about enough and tries to get Billy to leave, saying 'you are a bad dream' etc etc
Instead of leaving or vanishing, Billy hugs him and the intense cold emanating from what should be a human being really sends the Pres over the edge and there is a sort of vision sequence where the President is seeing all kinds of craziness.  Also Billy reaches into his own chest, removes his heart and gives it to Fabu which leads him to an epiphany
I am not free in the land of the gun
I am not free I am tied to the sun

And then he wakes up.

The Rainbeams are amazed that Billy gave his heart away but are comforted by the thought of stem cells because this after all spirit fiction.
Then the Queen of the Universe shows up and sings a really bloody inspirational song
Oh men arise
Be conscious of you dreams and powers
For those who will
Need not be afraid
Unfold each day
As does the flower
For Earth is yours
And Heaven is yours
Be still
etc

And she heads on up to a higher plane, Rainbeams follow and Billy, finally at peace having done what he meant to do, goes with them and has an emotional goodbye with his Sergeant who promises to spread the story of the ghost soldier.

And then we all sing a lovely song of constellations and stars

Pleiades Saiphrigel

Betelgeux Bellatrix Orion 
Lepus Columba

Sirius Sculptor
Norma Iridana
Camelon Castor Pollux

Microscopium Cepheus
Ursa Minor Ursa Major
Auriga Denab Cygnus
Reticulum Triangulum
Adromeda Australis

Starry cold night, save us with your music

Dig the grand harmonics
The voices of the Universes
Singing down upon us

Cassiopeia Procyon

And that's the end!

Figure it out if you will.  But I advise not.

It was a wonderful experience.  The leads were extremely, extremely talented and such a pleasure to listen to day after day singing.  Like, mad talent.  Like, why aren't they famous talent.
And Jim is also a joy - what a brain.  For one person to come up with all that material - it's a long show with a LOT of music, and in every style - country, jazz, vaudeville, soul, blues, rock, gospel, pop that is borderline Lady Gaga, ballad, comedy.  And the WORDS! He likes to play with words.  'Where's the soldier, the one with the frigid digits?'

'Littered globe so discombobulated,
Overheated over-globucopulated baby
Over mom-and-populated

In exhaust fumes of the auto
We go blotto
Gobs of mobs sing murder motto
Global Obligato'

When the two female leads are pledging their love to Billy, they sing

'What can I do for you? What can I give you?
I'd like to give you the morning
Papers and sun

I'd like to give you the evening 
Kisses and star

You're everything
I see in you great goodness 
And my heart goes out to fetch it
Like a coal of fire to warm me'

The President at one point sings
'My trichonosis psychosis
My gashole has halitosis'

That's just...having fun with words, man! 'What can I do for you' is poetry.  Know who else liked to play with words? Shakespeare.  Know who else, and with music? Freddie Mercury.  There's something very Bohemian Rhapsody about the whole thing - like the principle of Bohemian Rhapsody, certainly musically and lyrically, but expanded into a whole show.

And I got sing in it, which makes me very lucky.  What makes me luckier is that I got to do it alongside my roommate Sena - yep there we are behind fellow AMDA grad who played Billy



And dear Xalvador of Brighton then Yorkshire who looks so uncannily related to me that several people in the cast genuinely asked if we were brother and sister.  My answer is 'if that is what the casting people want then yes we are brother and sister, twins if necessary!'

And a whole bunch more photos besides

Full cast in the shows opening

The majestic TJ Mannix who I love and admire, he is a stellar performer and the sweetest man on Earth AND he was Santa in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular for cryin' out loud!

Violet (Anne), Billy (Todd), Blanche (Luis) and Indigo (Talia)

Vice-President Big Time (Chris), First Lady (Gerianne), President Fabu (Vishal)

Anthony Fett as Sergeant Stoner who as far as I'm concerned stole the show with his amazing detailed performance and perfect characterisation.  

Sing out

In rehearsal at Chelsea Studios which happen to be a few doors down from where I lived the first time I ever came to New York.  How things change!

'Will unite to free the mind of man'

As you can see, an amazing experience.

One final word on Supersoldier - my friend Carlos who came to see it thought the exact same thing as me which is that there are really great parallels to Hair.  Billy is a Claude-like figure, a poetic soul who ends up being made to fight.  His Sergeant, when we finally meet him, could definitely be his Berger.  We have Mama who occupies the Dionne role, singing the big belting soul and acting as a strong binding force.  The three female Rainbeams - Violet, Indigo and Blue - correspond pretty well with Sheila the serious, emotional student, Jeannie the free-spirited dippy hippy and Chrissy the young innocent who just wants to know where Frank Mills went.  It's almost as if those characters left the universe of Hair and came to this universe, what would happen? I love that shit.  They're not the same, their aims and objectives are different, their whole circumstances are different, but it's really cool that you could interpret that there is a time lapse between the end of Hair in the 60s and the beginning of Supersoldier in say the 2050s - what happened to the tribe?

Wah I could wax lyrical about it for hours and probably will next time I get the chance.

Peace love rainbows
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

NB

Obviously I ate my chicken tikka masala with Mum's homemade mango chutney.  Omnomnomnom

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

On October 9th, two years ago this day, I boarded a plane and a few hours later arrived in NYC to begin this whole thing called life.

Happy two years to me.  I can recall that day as if it were yesterday and have delightful memories of being met by my wonderful friends Erik and Boli who made me welcome and comfy in Crown Heights Brooklyn on the first few nights of my time here.  And now here I am in Washington Heights absolutely loving my life - it is more fulfilling and joy-packed than ever thanks to the friends, work, auditions, jobs, projects, homes and ideas that I'm surrounded by.  Total sincerity here, folks.

I haven't been paid yet this week so celebration may have to hold off until the weekend.  Although I may crack open the delicious meat AND cheese filled Indian meal I've had in the freezer for the last 3 months and celebrate carnivore-turned-vegan style!

Much love to all who have made my two years both possible and fantastic!xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Right place, right time

I was not called for today's rehearsal as they were working on lead solos.  I went anyway though, partly to help out Sam's sister Hayley who arrived yesterday for a visit and has been put to work spreading the Supersoldier gospel through the social media.  I accompanied her down to rehearsal and then pretty much sat there at the back with her, creeping on the rehearsal.  Great idea for many reasons.
1 - Recognition.  In a 26 person cast where I am but lowly ensemble member, anything that makes it easier to remember my name - such as meeting me in a group of 6 rather than 26 - good thing.  Director, writer, fellow cast members, all good if I can get to know people.
2 - Watching awesome talented people work? Yes please.  Some fantastic singers doing their thing, it's like a little free concert, and amazing to see these excellent professionals (lots of Equity/Union peeps in this show) and how they work a song.
3 - Serendipity? Fate? Who knows but either way I am now going to be featured tap dancing in the show too - because I happened to be there, because the stage manager happens to know I'm a tapper and because they needed a tap break! So now myself and the associate director will duet in the middle of one of the songs.  BOOM!

Getting things donexxxxxxxxx

Monday, October 7, 2013

MacScottishPlay

So I've been helping someone tape auditions for a Shakespeare movie and the feedback from their agent is that I make a very good MacDuff.

That's where I'm going wrong, auditioning for all these age and gender appropriate roles.  If there's ever a Braveheart The Musical I am there with bells on.

Yesterday's papers

Last published on September 24th, that is absolutely dreadful! Come on Tessa.

Bits and pieces today...I actually spent the earlier part of the day being locked out, because I brilliantly went to the corner deli for milk and didn't take my keys, Lola and Jacob had gone to the movies and Sena was out for the day so noone was coming home any time soon...so I had to throw myself at the mercy of my friends and neighbours who are luckily one and the same! Spent an hour at Ruth Joris and Charles' and then went to Sam's since I was supposed to be helping him tape auditions anyway (lots of fun today, the first and last time I will ever get to play MacDuff!) and I also got to have fun with his new juicer and start a Nick Hornby book...and generally spend time bothering Sam which I just love to do.  He is very tolerant and didn't mock me that much for locking myself out.

So, there went a good chunk of my day.  Lola had to come and pick me up because of course I'd left my phone in the apartment and Sam had to go to the supermarket so I was incommunicado, she just came to get me on her way back from the film.  It was exactly like going to a friend's house after school to wait for your mum to pick you up.

Tomorrow we begin one week's intensive rehearsals for Supersoldier, the Jim Rado musical.  I got a sneak peek at the poster today and it is delightfully psychedelic, so I can't wait to have my own copy to go on the wall as it will fit right in with the rest of my decor.  It's going to be a fun week and one of the best parts is that Sena my roommate is in it too.  We can help each other learn the music and we can travel there together and get our coffees and stuff.

Here we gooooxxxxxxxx