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Be a Light

 
Our ghostlight at the Wilson after the final performance of Jersey Boys, 1/15/16. (Photo credit: Chris Messina)

Our ghostlight at the Wilson after the final performance of Jersey Boys, 1/15/16. (Photo credit: Chris Messina)

 
 
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
— Albus Dumbledore
 

We have entered, it seems, the darkest of times. Yesterday, what seems to be the majority of America (and probably the world) watched (or tried not to watch) the "peaceful transition of power" from one leader of the free world to another. Many of us, perhaps most of us, are scared, for ourselves and for our friends in this new world, where we feel we will be persecuted for our gender, or skin color, or sexual orientation, or immigrant status. We step into another form of darkness - the unknown - unsure if our rights will be protected. My hope is that since things have gotten this bad, hopefully they have gotten bad enough that we will really truly fight for change. Yesterday I kept spontaneously bursting into tears. Yesterday was a very dark day.

But yesterday was flanked by two of the most remarkable days I have ever experienced on a large scale. Today, the extremely visible women's march on Washington, took place literally across the globe in hundreds of cities in the US but also on every continent including Antarctica. My newsfeed today has been an incredible, overwhelming flood of pictures of crowds in pink pussy hats, carrying signs, singing songs, chanting, cheering, smiling. We are proud, we are fighting, we are here, and we will not go back into hiding. (Joan Baez's "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around is playing on my turntable right now and could not be more apropos.)

Thursday was special in a different way. Thursday I participated in the Ghostlight Project, an action by the theatre community across the country - our slogan "be a light" for the dark times ahead. At 5:30 in each time zone, communities gathered and turned on physical lights as a reminder that we will all shine bright for each other in the coming days. "All are welcome," we said, and we meant it. I stood on the red steps in Times Square with hundreds of others, many Broadway actors and crews and stage managers and designers, to remind everyone there and everyone who watched us online that we will not go quietly into the dark. We will continue to tell our stories and give voice to the voiceless.

The ghostlight tradition lends safety to all in the theatre, so that it is never truly dark, a perfect sentiment for all of us in the coming years, for anyone who is not a cis-het white man. So in the coming fight for a better world, be a light. And when you can't be a light, look around - somebody is shining for you. I know I am.

 
I AM a queer, Jewish, progressive feminist/activist/artist HUMAN. I FIGHT FOR freedom of expression & equality for ALL.

I AM a queer, Jewish, progressive feminist/activist/artist HUMAN. I FIGHT FOR freedom of expression & equality for ALL.

 

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Phoenix Heart

 
 

It's January 8th, 2017. Today would have been David Bowie's 70th birthday. Instead, two days from now many of us will mourn the one year anniversary of his passing. My first post in this blog was shortly after that, discussing how his death affected me as a person and an artist. Right now as I write this post, "Rock n Roll Suicide" is playing on my turntable, the encore from the David Bowie Live Santa Monica '72 album, the song I love so much I tattooed a lyric from it over my heart. "Oh no love, you're not alone." "Ho lo ahuva, lo at l'vod."

It's 2017, and one year ago today I was in Jerusalem with a group of strangers, a few of whom had become fast friends. We visited the Kotel and I said a prayer, felt the presence of my Jewish grandfather that I never met, and thanked the city and the spirits for a special day. I wore a Bowie shirt, in honor of his birthday, and thought of all the things I had to be grateful for. Three days later, eleven days into the year, while sitting in an Israeli national park, I found out my hero had died in the night.

It's 2017, and 2016, the garbage year that so many of us struggled and fought through and hopefully survived, is over. My hope is that 2017 will be better, some would say it has to be, but then we look at the state of politics and social divisions in America and I'm not so sure, but I have to have hope. (I tattooed that on me, too.)

It's 2017, it's Bowie's birthday, and I'm remembering Bowie, the icon, someone I never saw live, but whose music and artistry and passion I loved. Bowie was never afraid to be who he was, whoever that was, and was not afraid for that to change, dramatically and often.

 
I feel confident imposing change on myself. It’s a lot more fun progressing than looking back. That’s why I need to throw curveballs.
— David Bowie
 

That concept is key to me, as an artist - to be willing, able, and sometimes even eager to change. As a Taurus, I am innately opposed to change, so it's something I constantly struggle with. However I think a focus on progress, moving forward, and evolving is important. Letting things die so new things can be born is a part of life. And that idea is why I relate so strongly to the iconography and lore of the mythical phoenix.

 
Fascinating creatures, phoenixes. They can carry immensely heavy loads, their tears have healing powers, and they make highly faithful pets.
— Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
 

Phoenixes, in addition to all the traits above, are most known as creatures of rebirth, bursting into flames and being reborn from the ashes. If ever there was an artist who was a phoenix, it was Bowie, constantly creating and killing new personas every few years, from Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane to Halloween Jack and the Thin White Duke. Ultimately all of these characters became disposable in the face of something new. All simultaneously eternal, ephemeral, and empty. 

2016 was full of many goodbyes, celebrity deaths, jobs ending, life changing, and 2017 will be no different. In August Fuerza Bruta, where I had worked for nearly six years, finally closed off-Broadway. Next week I face saying goodbye to my new Broadway family at Jersey Boys when the show ends its historic eleven-year run on January 15th. After performing with the company at Gypsy of the Year last month, I have truly felt a part of the JB family at the August Wilson Theatre, and next week's ending is sure to be a tearful one for many including myself. I admit auditioning and other career moves have been on a bit of a slow track over the last couple months as I've spent almost every day at one job or another and almost every night at Jersey Boys, seeing the run through to its close. But even big Broadway machines eventually die (except Phantom). So now I face two months of less certainty in my work life, another opportunity to reinvent my future, a chance to lay the groundwork for 2017.

Beginning is challenging. Starting new is scary. But if one of the biggest pop stars of all time could do it, very publicly, and right up to the very end of his life, I think I'll be alright. Let's light this fire together, everybody. May your 2017 be full of bravery, risks, adventure, and success.

 
My new year's tarot spread today, with my Bowie deck. The death card came up today, as it has every year at the start of the year. Big ch-ch-ch-changes ahead!

My new year's tarot spread today, with my Bowie deck. The death card came up today, as it has every year at the start of the year. Big ch-ch-ch-changes ahead!

 

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Fall Update/Happy Winter!

The last two months have flown by! I intended to write an update right after Halloween, which was full of performances at immersive parties, but that weekend was followed up immediately by a weekend in LA (my first trip ever to California), a trip to South Dakota to visit my grandparents for Thanksgiving, and then a flurry of illnesses through the beginning of December. So here's what's happened:

  1. October 28/31 - The Monster's Ball at the MicKittrick Hotel, part of Sleep No More's monthly-ish SuperCinema series..
  2. October 29 - Le Noir Ilumine with Cirque du Nuit (an immersive theatre company), a party produced by You Are So Lucky at the WB Thompson mansion in Yonkers, NY.
  3. December 5/6 - Gypsy of the Year performance with the cast/crew/family of Jersey Boys to celebrate our eleventh and final year on Broadway.

I've been involved with the SuperCinema parties since their inception, February's Romeo + Juliet-themed Valentine's day event. It's always a fun opportunity to become a part of the world of the film and enhance guests' experience be being a weirdo from Oz or backup for James Bond or in this case a creepy dead person from a horror movie. (Click on any image below to enlarge.)


Le Noir Ilumine, the Halloween party hosted by You Are So Lucky, was my first event with Cirque Du Nuit, an interactive/immersive theatre company made up of actors, dancers, aerialists, and acrobats. At this event we wandered a huge three-story mansion and grounds in small groups as spirits of the manor. My group decided we would not speak, and this led to many different types of individual interactions. At times I was a joyful doll-child, at times a flighty fairy, at times a creepy dead girl. Some folks found us scary, others intriguing, others funny. I had an absolute blast running around in the dark for four hours at a party for 4,000 people. Check out footage of us beginning at 2:35 in the video below! (To view photos from the event, go to my media page.)

 
 

The Gypsy of the Year folks invited Jersey Boys to perform this year in honor of their final year on Broadway (we close January 15th) and the cast decided, because the show's motto is "family is everything," that they wanted to include everybody - past cast members, touring companies, production crew, and the front of house team. So as an actor masquerading as an usher, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the performance at the New Amsterdam Theatre, regularly home to Aladdin. Collectively we were a group of over seventy, including a couple of babies born to the cast during the run. I was living my dreams rehearsing and performing with a talented group of people in front of an audience of over 1500 people.

Our full company, including one baby, two toddlers, cast members spanning all eleven years and many continents, stage managers, wardrobe staff, ushers, and all. (Oh and Mark Ballas from Dancing with the Stars, our final Frankie Valli.)

Our full company, including one baby, two toddlers, cast members spanning all eleven years and many continents, stage managers, wardrobe staff, ushers, and all. (Oh and Mark Ballas from Dancing with the Stars, our final Frankie Valli.)

 
 

So it's been an exciting couple of months, and I'm excited to announce I'll be performing with Cirque du Nuit again for New Year's Eve! I wish you all the warmest and happiest of holidays, and let us all hope 2017 is better than 2016. 

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