The New York Pops Gala

IMG_9458Carnegie Hall has never seen such a star-studded lineup as it did last night.  It was the New York Pops 31st Birthday Gala, and everyone was out to celebrate the orchestra, and the musical honorees, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman..  The theme this year was “make it big,” and that they did.

Martin Short, Christian Borle, Patti LuPone, Megan Hilty, Katharine McPhee, Aaron Tveit, Laura Bell Bundy, Andrea Martin, Jane Krakowski.  And that’s just the beginning.

One of my favorite moments of the evening was Good Morning, Baltimore, from Hairspray.  Here’s what made it so special: the song opened with Marissa Jaret Winokur reprising her role from Broadway; then at the top of the second verse, Nikki Blonsky entered, reprising her role from the 2007 film; then lo and behold, enter Ricki Lake, reprising her role from the 1988 film.  Tracy, Tracy, and Tracy were in the house and in full voice.  My picture of the three of them with John Waters is one of my all-time favorites.

My other favorite moment was getting to tell Capathia Jenkins how I’ve admired her for years, and listed everything I’ve ever seen her in.  And when I told her how much I loved “Kiss and Make Up,” she said “I wasn’t in that one.”  When I started singing the song that she sang to effectively stop the show, titled “God and Pills.” a lightbulb turned on and she said “The fringe show?  You saw that.”  Oh yeah.  Twice.

And my final favorite moment (so many, I know) came when I had the chance to chat with Montego Glover.  Not only did I adore her in Memphis, but I am hopelessly addicted to The Following.  And while I tried my best to get her to spill some secrets, her lips were sealed.  So if anyone from Fox is reading this, your secrets are safe with her!

If you want to see the photos I took from the step and repeat as well as the dinner dance, you can see them on my photography blog here!

And don’t forget to see all the gems posted on my Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Pin It

Even the pros take lessons

voicelessonOne of the things I love about being an accompanist is getting to play for voice lessons.  Not only is it a fun way to make a little extra money, but I always walk away with more knowledge than when I started.

This weekend, I accompanied five lessons for master teacher Kurt Robinson.  This guy definitely knows what he is doing.  It was mesmerizing to listen to the sounds he could get out of people in an hour, and the transformation from the time I entered to the time I left.  As soon as I finished each lesson, I went right to my notebook to write down everything I learned, so in essence, I had five voice lessons of my own that day.

And the most inspiring part of the day was when one of my Broadway idols walked into the room.  I don’t want to say her name on here and sound the Google alerts alarm, but let’s just say that if you know musical theatre, you know who she is.  You probably have a recording or two she’s starred on, and if you’re like me, you’ve spent countless hours on YouTube, watching every performance she’s ever given!

Obviously, I was cherishing every second I spent sitting at the piano accompanying her, while trying to maintain my composure and not just giggle with glee.  What impressed me the most was that this wasn’t any different from any other voice lesson.  When she had issues, Kurt called her out on it.  Part of me was thinking “how dare you say that wasn’t transformative, this woman is flawless!”  But she was there to work, and work she did!

I rode the elevator with her after her lesson was finished, and she mentioned that this particular piece was making her nervous.  She’ll be performing it for a July 4th concert, and she wanted to start working on it now.  And that is admirable.  This woman is an absolute star, and yet she doesn’t take anything for granted.  No wonder God named his garden after her. (wink, wink)

Pin It

Grateful for John Bucchino

grateful-watercolourLast night, I had the great pleasure for spending 2 1/2 hours in a rehearsal with John Bucchino.  A little over a year ago, I wrote an article about his body of work, and how great his music is for auditions, which you can read here!  A couple months after that, I audited a Master Class he was teaching in New York, where singers would perform his pieces for his critique, and then they’d perform them again, accompanied by John, himself.  When I got to the workshop, he remembered the article, and thanked me for writing it.  What a sweet man!

Last night was something completely different but equally exciting.  My buddy Jeremy Robin Lyons wrote an arrangement of Grateful, and a group of us were assembled to sing it through and workshop it with John to see what works and what might need to be tweaked before it gets published.  So we all assembled ourselves around the piano, singing Grateful, while Judy edited and conducted, and the composer himself listened and took notes.

It was really interesting to see the three of them working like this.  It wasn’t your typical rehearsal where the goal is a performance.  This was to work out all the details of the arrangement so that it can be published.  The length of notes, rhythmic changes, breath marks–all of this was discussed in regards to the arrangement.  If the majority of us were making the same mistake, they needed to look at it to see if there was a way to fix it; if we were all making that mistake, it’s like that other groups that purchase the arrangement will do the same.  Detail also had to be paid to the style guide of the publishing company, which is something I hadn’t ever considered before.  It makes sense, when you think about it, that every publishing company would have their own style guide.  And luckily, Judy know the ins and outs of all of them, so the music can be prepared just the way the publishing company likes.

And of course, the best part of the evening was after the rehearsal, when we had red velvet/chocolate chip cupcakes and wine!  Quite literally, the icing on the cake!

Pin It

Lesson of the day: Check your messages. All of them.

frustrated-with-computerAs usual, the lesson of the day means that I screwed something up.  Luckily, the lesson of the day isn’t actually a daily post; because that would mean I’m making way too many mistakes.

This morning, I decided to catch up a little on the casting websites that I’ve let slide the last few weeks (another lesson, don’t ever let them slide).  I logged into my Casting Networks account, and saw that I had a new alert.  I opened it, and it was a very lovely email from the director of a project I submitted for a while ago.  He said that he loved my submission and wanted to cast me in the role I was interested in, and to check my availability for shooting on April 19th.  Well, it’s April 25, and I just saw the message.  I thought that Casting Networks sent an email to let you know you had a new message, maybe not.

Anyway, it’s my fault for not keeping up with the websites, especially after I’ve submitted for roles.  And the date that he was shooting is literally one of three days in my planner without anything scheduled.  I could have had a great time shooting on a day when I was probably sitting at home watching Breaking Bad.  And how knows, it could have been great footage for my reel, too.

While it doesn’t change anything, I did email the director, thanking him for choosing me, and apologizing profusely for dropping the ball, and wishing him great success.

Now it’s time to check the rest of the casting sites and hope I don’t have missed opportunities there.

Pin It

Lesson of the day: Answer Your Phone!

man_on_phoneToday’s lesson is simple: answer your phone.  And if you can’t, keep checking your missed calls and voice mail.

On Wednesday, I was working in an office where I recently started temping three days a week.  It was only my fourth shift, so I was following every rule, and trying to be that perfect office drone.  Naturally, I had my cell phone on silent.  And that was my mistake.

After work, I met a friend to see Tyne Daly in Mothers and Sons on Broadway—more on that later—so I didn’t really look at my phone until around 10:30. I had a voice mail from a casting director with Lion TV, wanting to schedule me for an audition for a true crime TV show on Discovery ID, a network I’ve loved shooting two previous show for, Fatal Encounters and On The Case with Paula Zahn.  I was psyched.

I do the serial killer thing pretty well, so if I can get in front of a casting director, I can usually creep them out a little.  I also matched  the physical description pretty closely.  The guy was an ex-Amish, gay guy who murdered five women, and talked himself out of being charger with four of them.  “A slimy, smooth-talker,” right up my alley.  I love playing the creeps!

I called Lion TV first thing the next morning and left the casting director a voice mail, while excessively checking my phone ever five minutes.  I did the same on Friday, and didn’t hear anything.  Monday came around, and I left a third voice mail, which I know is a little excessive and annoying, but I really wanted this role!  I never heard anything.

Here’s the thing: television works on a very tight and last-minute schedule.  And for something like true crime, the casting directors aren’t as concerned with finding the most gifted actor they can.  Most of the time, the actors hardly speak.  If you think about the reenactment shows you’ve seen, there might be a little dialogue from the actors, but the majority of the show is interview style, or the visual recreation which is underscored by someone else talking about what happened.  Rather than sifting through hundreds of headshots and bringing in dozens of actors, the casting director just wants to find someone competent who could resemble the real life people, even a little.

I’m pretty sure that the day I missed the call, the casting director scheduled a few guys to come in the next day to audition, the guys who actually answered the phone.  And one of those guys booked it.  They’re not going to wait for me to call them back, because by then, they’ve already found someone able to do the job.

Sadly, I won’t have an ex-Amish, gay murderer on my resume any time soon.  All because I was trying to be a good little worker bee at the office.

Lesson learned.

Pin It