Ask just about any professional performer what the most stressful part of their career is, and they’ll answer in one word: “Auditions.” We never get over it, somehow—no matter how long we’ve been doing theatre, no matter how well we know the material, no matter how “right” we know we are for the part, auditioning always seems to generate a special kind of stomach-knot.
That’s why I’m thrilled to announce a new opportunity for Musical Theatre performers of all ages in Central Pennsylvania: The “Second-Saturday” Audition Workshop series!
From 10 AM to noon on Saturday, September 8, and continuing on the second Saturday of each month following, I and a plucky group of MT performers will gather in the upstairs common room of The Perfect 5th Musical Arts Center in Mechanicsburg to practice audition material and “workshop” it—identifying strengths and opportunities for improving each performance, so every performer can bring their “A Game” to their next audition, whether it’s for a community theatre production, a college admissions audition, or a professional gig!
You don’t have to have an audition in your immediate future to participate—remember, your goal is to get so solid on your audition material that you can do it even with a roomful of disinterested strangers judging you. So even if you’re looking ahead to an audition that’s a few months away, it’s a great idea to start preparing early, and then to bring your material back for multiple sessions so you can celebrate your progress and increase your confidence as the date draws closer!
When I was 16, I came within a mile of killing myself.
A mile, or roughly two minutes. At the spot where the impulse struck me, on Route 175 in Columbia, MD, the roadside was all gently sloping grass—no trees or telephone poles or even concrete safety barriers to ram a car against. A mile further down the road, and I could have found any of those sturdy car-smashing targets—but before I got that far, I’d thought better of it. But in that instant, in the car alone, after the boy I was in love with told me he wasn’t in love with me, that he thought of me as a good friend but nothing more than that… if the chance had been there, my teen-angst-ful self would have taken it.
Next month, in case you’ve missed any of my earlier from-the-rooftop announcements, I’ll be playing Bruce Bechdel in Fun Home, the musical based upon Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical “tragicomic.” Bruce was Alison’s father; he was passionate about literature and photography and art and design, and he made sure the home Alison grew up in was pristine and fashionable and full of beauty. He was also gay. And four months after Alison came out to him as lesbian, he killed himself.
I’ve been talking a lot with my therapist about this show. Playing Bruce, I told her, is like riding my bike riiiiiight along the edge of a cliff—trying to match its curves and twists without falling in and crashing.
Some days it’s terrifying.
But unlike 16-year-old me, I’ve learned to think, as I’m teetering on the edge of that cliff, about the people around me—my husband, of course, who is the best friend I’ve ever had; but also my sister and our parents, and a select group of other close friends—who aren’t afraid to see me hurting, or angry, or scared. These are people who have seen me cry, and have let me cry, and have sat with me without fixing or masking or ignoring what’s wrong. They’ve been with me in moments when the fact that they were with me was the only good thing I could see, and they stayed there until I could see more good things than that.
These are the people who’ve saved my life over and over again.
And one moment, on Route 150 in Beech Creek, PA, Bruce couldn’t think of anyone like that.
I hope you’ll come see FUN HOME because it is—and I give you my word that this is not an exaggeration—the best-written musical I have ever read. I hope you’ll come see it because the story is funny and poignant and sweet, and the music is fun and glorious and haunting. I hope you’ll come see us because the cast includes some of the most insightful, vulnerable, dedicated actors and singers I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. I hope you’ll come see us because I feel as though playing Bruce at this moment in my life—I’m just 2 years older now than Bruce was when he died—is something that had to happen.
But most of all, I hope you’ll come see us because someday, someone else will need you to be there for them. And they’ll need you to be able to see their pain and their grief and their shame and their terror, and not be afraid of any of it. The edge of the cliff can be a horrible place to find yourself, and if you’re not careful, at the wrong moment, you can fall in. But if you’ve learned the terrain—if you’ve been there before, with someone who knows the way, and who can grab your hand if you start to slip—it’s not quite as scary.
Will you join us?
To buy tickets for the October 7 performance, benefiting the LGBT Center of Central PA, please use this form. (These sales must be completed by October 1.)
Great news! The final administrative hurdles have been vaulted, and ticket sales are now officially open for UUCV’s FUN HOME LGBT Center benefit program! If you missed the original announcement (and my gushing about how excited I am about this project), you can read that here. Or you could just take my word for it and submit this form today so you don’t miss this amazing production, or this chance to support the Central PA LGBT Center. I’ll hope to see you in the audience on October 7th!
Remember that post a couple of months ago when I told you I was looking forward to my new role as Director of Music and Education at Open Stage of Harrisburg, and that I “[couldn’t] wait to dig my teeth into FUN HOME, the amazing musical that holds the season opener slot”?
Well, it looks like I’m going to have plenty of teeth in this amazing work of musical theatre. The cast list has been officially finalized, and in addition to my role as musical director for the production, I will also (thanks to an apparent paucity of 40-something baritenors in central Pennsylvania) be treading trepidatiously back onto the boards to play Bruce, Alison Bechdel’s closeted father. This will be the first leading role I’ve tackled since Edgar in Bat Boy and Jon in Tick, Tick… Boom!, both of which were about a decade ago. To play this rich, challenging role, and to share the stage with the folks whose auditions I was privileged to observe and accompany, will be a high point of my career I’m sure.
FUN HOME is a rare work of musical theatre—the characters are deep and vulnerable, the script is authentic and raw, and the music… oh, heavens. I’ve only been working with the score for a few weeks and I’m already overwhelmed by the genius of Jeanine Tesori’s gifts as a theatrical composer. (If you’re familiar with Shrek the Musical or Thoroughly Modern Millie, you already have an inkling.)
If you will be—or can arrange to be—anywhere near Harrisburg during October, please plan to join us. We have 14 performances on the calendar (with a handful of additional dates held as pending in case tickets sell as quickly as we hope they do!) between October 6 and October 29.
But I especially hope you’ll consider joining us for the 7:30 performance on Saturday, October 7, and that you’ll purchase your ticket through UUCV. Do that, and $10 of each ticket you purchase will benefit the LGBT Center of Central PA, and the queer folks and allies of all ages that that wonderful organization serves. These tickets are on sale now! You can reserve yours right here!sold out!
If October 7 won’t suit your calendar, yYou can view the full list of performances and purchase tickets at the Open Stage of Harrisburg web site, or call the Open Stage box office at 717-232-OPEN (6736).
And of course, you could make me ridiculously happy by using my new position as Director of Music & Education for Open Stage to motivate you to purchase a Season 32 subscription. For $120 you’ll be able to see all five of the subscription series productions: Fun Home, Akeelah and the Bee, The Flick, Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties, and Little Women! Season subscriptions are available right now! (Note: season subscriptions are not eligible to support the LGBT Center benefit.)
In any case, please let me know when you’re planning to attend, and I’ll make a point of coming out to say hi after the show. You can thank me then for encouraging you to come.