2015: Looking Ahead

2015So, as I wrote earlier, 2014 was a great year for me.  And the year before.  And the year before.  But that’s because I’m pretty easy to please.  It’s a great problem to have, but it also places me in my own way sometimes.

I’m like a little kid.  It doesn’t take much for me to feel like “this is the most awesome thing ever!!!”  When I’m doing extra work, most of the people around me are complaining about the lack of variety in the catering, or how it’s such a long day.  I just look around and think “but guys, we’re working on a real mooooovie!”  Same for reenactment tv.  And student films.  And shows.  And concerts.  I guess the great news is I haven’t become jaded.  When it comes to focus, though, that’s where I have a problem.

When people get to know me, or at least get me involved in conversation about everything I’m doing, they inevitably ask me what my dream job is.  And I always struggle to come up with an answer.  Again, the good part is that there isn’t only one thing that I’d be happy doing.  The bad part is that with so many options on the table, I never really put enough focus into any one of them.

In a city like New York, if you want to get to the top in any field, you’ve gotta work harder than everyone else around you.  And while a lot of people will tell you that I’m one of the most driven people they know, that drive lacks focus.  What they see is that I’m always on the go, always working, and usually have something fun to post about on Facebook.  But I don’t really have a master plan.  I just submit and apply for everything that interests me, and if I can squeeze it into my schedule, I do it.

I usually only have one day off a month where I’m not running from one thing to the next, and on most days I’m working more than one job.  If you look at the last two weeks before I left for the circus, I worked as an admin assistant for The New York Pops and Actors Equity, I acted in a short film, was the rehearsal accompanist and sang in a concert with Essential Voices USA, recorded a voice for an animated film (which I also composed the theme song for), taught one workshop for Disney and two for A Class Act, directed and accompanied a benefit concert, worked as a church organist and choir director, photographed a press event, and hit up a few auditions.

Insane, right?  That’s literally the two weeks before I left New York.  Was it a blast?  You bet!  Was I sleeping enough?  Not a chance!  Did I get sick because of it?  Of course, silly.  But that’s just what I do!

Now here’s the thing.  I’m finally getting to a point, at the ripe, young age of 35, where I’m starting to realize that I need a plan.  Sure, I’m doing a lot of fun stuff and getting loads of random crap on my resume.  But if I really want to take off, to really excel in one of these areas, I’ve gotta let people know that’s what I do and that I’m damn good at it.  Of course you can do as many things as you want, and I don’t believe that you can only be really good at one thing.  But, it’s a little harder for people to take you seriously if they don’t really know what you do.

Look at it this way, if you were going to hire a wedding photographer, would you hire someone who has a legit wedding photography business with hundreds of weddings in their portfolio, or would you hire a photographer who has shot a couple weddings, some fashion shows, a little bit of travel photographer, who has also catered weddings, worked them as a dj, and baked a couple wedding cakes?  I think the answer is clear, and I think you know I’m the metaphorical photographer/caterer/dj/baker.

The ball’s gonna drop in a few so I’m gonna take a break, but I’ll be back next year with more on my 2015 plans!

Happy New Year!

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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.

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Trouble in Kansas City

kansas_cross_out_symbol_hand_towel-rfcc12a28c19f4cbfbcb95bd45487d923_2c81h_8byvr_324Well, it was a good, long run; 48 hours after my pledge to blog daily and I fell asleep without writing a word.  To make up for it, I’m writing from the LIRR on my iPhone.  If you’ve ever tried to write more than a short text or email on an iPhone, you’ll know how typo prone these suckers are, so I’m really going out of my way to make things right! And I refuse to be one of those clowns who uses the signature “please pardon any typos, I am sending this from my mobile device.”. That’s basically the same thing as writing “I wanted to get back to you right away, but I don’t care enough to watch what I’m doing. Deal with it!”

Yesterday started off with four hours of auditions for Oliver. A company I had musically directed for in the past asked if I was available to play the auditions for the kids coming in; the adults were scheduled for a later date. What does that mean? Four hours of Where Is Love! Apparently, a music teacher at an adjoining school taught all the kids in his chorus that song–and only that song– to help anyone wanting to audition.  And as much as I wanted to roll my eyes every time a little brat performer walked in, I kept it to myself.  First, I know how intimidating it can be to walk into a room full of strangers and sing a song; I still get intimidated and I’m 34 years old.  And secondly, these kids were much better than I was at their age, which is a post for another day. And actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I should probably start a Blast From The Past category because there are some great stories I should jot down before the dementia kicks in!

Lots of kids, Oliver, blah blah blah.  You get it.

Then it was off to Character Man again.  A “friend” of mine came to the show, and as you can tell by the quotes, this wasn’t your typical friend.  In this case, someone I’m hoping will soon be more than a friend.  Everything was going great, until one moment, during “Trouble” from The Music Man, I remembered that my “friend” was in the audience, and had never heard me play piano or sing before.  I started to smile a little, thinking “I bet I look pretty darn sexy up here playing this Imperial Bozendorfer”  And in that very moment, I leaned into the microphone, ready with my backup vocals, and loudly proclaimed “Oh we’ve got trouble.  Right here in KANSAS city.”  Apparently everything wasn’t up-to-date in the Oklahoma/Music Man hybrid I was singing.  The rest of the number it was all I could do to keep from completely cracking up.

“Wait! This story has a moral.  All my stories have a moral.”  If you really want to try and impress someone, don’t!

 

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The Adventures of Keith and Kevin

country-musicToday started with a great audition for Soho rep.  They’re doing a production of Marie Antoinette and were having an EPA, so I decided to give it a go.  There wasn’t anything in the show I was particularly right for, at least from reading the breakdown, but I wasn’t really wrong for it either.  And they’re a great company that does shows all year, so I figured it’d be great to be seen by them.  I did one of my favorite monologues by Bekah Brunstetter, and as usual, they loved it.  Not because they loved me, but her material is so damn good!  If you haven’t read her stuff, you need to!  I have a couple of monologues of hers in my back packet, and they always get a great reaction!  They’re not overdone, and if I don’t introduce the piece, giving her name, the casting directors always ask me what the piece was from because this woman can write!  She’s definitely on my Caffeinated Confabulation list (coffee confab, for short).

And the night ended with something that might just turn out to be new and exciting.  At the very least it’s new, so we’re halfway there.  My buddy Keith and I had our first rehearsal as a …ready for it…country music duo!  “What?  You’re into country music?”  Yup.  Time to come clean.  My mama raised me on John Denver, and while I don’t admit to it often, I’m a closet country fan!  People that have known me forever can attest to it, but anyone in the less-than-ten-years category might be a little shocked.  I mean, I live in Manhattan and I’m in musical theatre so it doesn’t exactly come up in conversation.  But behind closed doors, I “thank God I’m a country boy.”

I met Keith when a mutual friend suggested I coach him before he had an audition for the musical Once.  Believe it or not, he had an appointment, and it was his first professional audition!  He has a great job, a real job that pays you in money, and benefits, and other things I’ve heard of but can’t really grasp the concept of.  He’s not looking to quit his day job, as the expression goes, but he’s really talented, and our friend Kristin saw it, and submitted him for Once.

Long story short, we hit it off, and a year later, he starts a text conversation one night asking my thoughts on country music, and if I’d be interested in putting something together with him.  The next day, we had a list of the first ten songs we were going to cover, so tonight we got started.  He plays rhythm guitar and will take lead vocals, and I’ll be on piano and backing him up with some harmony.  And his girlfriend is a bartender for the Pig ‘n Whistle chain so the networking game might go faster than planned, and lead to an actual gig or two.  The initial goal is to work up 45 minutes so that we could open for one of the bands that regularly plays there, and just see where things go.

So who knows?  But I’m excited!  It’s definitely a refreshing and welcome change of pace!

 

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The Bonus Army

Layout 1Tonight was my second rehearsal for The Bonus Army, being presented in “The Gym at Judson,” Judson Memorial Church.  I haven’t posted anything about the show yet because, well, I don’t do a lot of things I plan on doing.  The best laid plans…

The Bonus Army is a fantastic piece of theatre, originally produced in 1976 with the Judson Poets’ Theater.  Rather than summarize the show myself, here’s the description printed on the show’s website:

In the dark early days of the Great Depression, in the spring and early summer of 1932, tens of thousands of unemployed World War I veterans and their supporters marched on Washington, D.C. They demanded that Congress, which had voted the war veterans a cash bonus to be paid in 1945, redeem their bonus certificates immediately, when they desperately needed the money. They called themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force, but were known as the Bonus Marchers or the Bonus Army.

I auditioned for the show because they were looking for actor/musicians to play soldiers.  For the initial audition, I performed “Tell My Father,” from Frank Wildhorn’s The Civil War.  It’s a beautiful piece that I performed and over-performed any chance I got while in school at Ithaca College and Elmira College.  It’s not one I use often for auditions because it’s so damn depressing.  But since this play had “army” in the title, I figured I’d give it a go.  Oh, and mainly because the guy who auditioned right before me sang Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More,” which was my first choice.  So I made the director and musical want to commit suicide with a song so drenched with sorrow that they asked for a second piece–never a bad thing–that was an up tempo.  So I did “Louder Than Words” from tick, Tick…Boom!

I was called back to read sides, but since I couldn’t make the scheduled call, the director was kind enough to see me at his home in the Village.  We’re just getting started, so I’m sure I’ll be posting more soon, but let’s say we’re already having a lot of fun, and I can tell you that it’s going to be an incredibly unique and environmental theatre piece which the audience is going to love!

 

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I Heart Philly!

IHeartPhillyI’m in love with Philadelphia!  I got to the Philly Amtrak station without incident, and got a cab to 200 Chestnut Street, home to the Passport Office.  After going through airport-style security, I had my documents in hand and nervously waited in line.

Nervously?  Oh yeah!  Why?  Because I wasn’t sure they’d let me through.  On the passport website, it states that in order to have an appointment at the office for an expedited passport, you need proof of international travel occurring within the next two weeks.  There are three types of acceptable documents: an airline ticket, an official airline itinerary, or a letter from your employer stating international travel for business.  Well, I had none of those.  I had debated writing a fake letter from either the casting director, or from Kayak, but after thinking about it, you could kind of call that government fraud.  While a night in prison is on my bucket list, these circumstances might have more severe consequences.  So I went took the high road, for the most part.

I printed the casting notice, and circled the shoot dates and shoot locations.  I also printed my audition ticket, confirming that I had an audition, and then I hoped they didn’t look too closely.  I was all set to try and explain the situation, saying ” but you don’t understand.  Here’s how it works: I won’t know if I got the job until a few days before.  Help a guy out?” And I would have probably developed a stutter in the process, so luckily the receptionist just looked at the documents, and wrote “Uruguay” on my application.

They gave me my ticket and I sat down, still a little nervous, wondering if the clerk who would process the application would be able to veto the receptionists decision.  My number was called–my lucky number 17–and I was greeted by a wonderful woman.  She was all smiles and glad to help out.   I slid my papers under the window and she started typing into her computer.  She looked at my “letter from employer” and said “Oh, you’re shooting a Kayak commercial?”  I responded with a high-pitched “Mm hhmm.”

“Oh, great.  Just write Kayak.com under Employer and you’ll be all set.”  So now I’m on record with the government as an employee of Kayak.  If there’s any truth to The Secret, then I have definitely put it out there in the universe!

What’s more amazing is the fact that my passport will be ready in 3 hours!  Can you believe that?  I was in shock.  Turns out, anytime you mail in a passport application, it goes to Philly; they make it there, and then ship it back.  So when you apply in Philly, they just send your info to the printer, and away you go!  And she even put me in for a free upgrade to the 58 page book, after seeing the number of stamps I had in my expired one.  I just logged onto the Amtrak website to move my train back to NYC an hour later, and I’ll be arriving with passport in hand!  Who knew?

So I’ll get back to Penn Station at 2:30, then I’ve got to catch a train at 3:58 from Grand Central to Westchester (Mamaroneck) to run a music rehearsal for “The Rockin’ Tale of Snow White.”  I’ll be there form 5-6:30, then catch a 6:57 train back to Grand Central, getting in at 7:40.  Then I haul tush to a student film audition at the School of Visual Arts at 8, and hopefully make it to another student film audition at 8:45 at the New York Film Academy.  And then if I don’t fall asleep on the subway and wake up in the Bronx (it happens), I’ll be home and in bed before 11!

I heart Philly!

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The Audition Report: Kayak.com

Kayak.comI just had a great (and hilarious) audition for a Kayak.com commercial at OneOnOne.  The posting read: 33-40.  In general, I’m looking for awkward looking people. People who are too thin, or a little heavy. People who have all the flaws we all do. I want actors who look like…people, not actors. In other words, no one attractive, please.

Another posting for the same gig stated: We need someone who can sing – must have some singing ability. MUST BE EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE LIP SYNCING! But he also needs to be able to act very well – experience with NY MUSICAL THEATER! He will be learning and lip syncing 4 different languages of song for REAL shoot.  35 – 45. Awkward looking. He will have his shirt off the whole time. He can be very hairy, or very thin. Just no one with muscles.

Awkward and shirtless?  Experience with NY musical theatre?  No one attractive?  You found me!  I got an appointment ticket through Casting Networks, asking if I could be seen at 10:50 this morning.  Great.  What I failed to notice, however, was that the audition ticket also contained a link to a song we were supposed to learn for the audition.  Whoops!

As soon as I got to the studio, I went to the bathroom, and while I was in there I decided to check the name of the casting director, so I could address her by name.  And that’s when I saw the link to the jingle.  Luckily, I learn music quickly, and it wasn’t anything difficult, so I wasn’t stressing.  I was just laughing at myself, letting the sink run to try and cover up the fact that I was listening to, and singing along with a recording on my phone.  And of course I left my headphones home, so I didn’t have the discreet option; had to use speaker phone.

I came out of the bathroom and started to look for a group of awkward guys milling about, so I knew I was in the right place.  When I signed in, they had a sheet with the lyrics so that took the pressure off even more.  Eventually, they called all of us into the room to explain how things were going to work.  They gave us a little blocking and played the recording that we’d be singing with.  They said, “Come in, stand here, slate your name, take your shirt off, and have fun!”  Piece of cake!

I looked around the room to see my competition.  While some of the guys were way more awkward than I could ever dream of being, some of these jerks were really attractive!  Who let them in?

I was third on the list so I went in, said my name, took my shirt off, and game them a little song and dance.  They asked me to do it again, and just told me to sing louder and make the movements bigger.  Done!  I was unbuttoning my shirt as I was leaving and realized what that must look like to an outsider; one by one these weird guys are called into a room by a beautiful woman, and a few minutes later they leave the room, getting dressed as they grab their things and silently go.  Some sulking a little because they didn’t perform as they had hoped, and others beaming because they nailed it (pun intended).

It was definitely one of those auditions where I left just loving what I do.  Whether or not anything comes of it, I had a blast.  Although, I have to admit, I would LOVE to get this one.  Not only does it pay a ton of money, and it’d be a great credit on my resume, but it shoots for a week in Uruguay!

Fingers Crossed!

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