Friday, August 21, 2009

Now - read it like a one-eyed monkey in a blizzard.

A college friend of mine posted the above YouTube clip on her Facebook page today, and it's definitely worth a watch. Kate Winslet, on an episode of "Inside the Actor's Studio," was asked by an audience member to recall a time in which she had to improvise. Her story is pretty entertaining and of course, she's adorable in her re-telling.

As primarily a singer, cold readings at auditions simply terrify me. Whenever possible, I try to have read the script beforehand so I at least have an idea of the story, the characters, and possibly even my own ideas of things to try should I be asked to read for certain characters. However, that's not always possible, nor is it helpful once the director starts asking you for other things.

Don't get me wrong -- I very much appreciate being given direction in an audition during the reading portion. It's just that my lack of experience in reading auditions or - god forbid - just plain old improvisation/movement auditions simply renders me terrified. Usually, I try to just swallow my fears of inadequacy or looking foolish and give it the ol' college try (with varied results).

I'm curious, though -- what is the strangest thing you've ever been asked to do at an audition, whether it be to read the side again in a different way, to improvise, etc?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seven Brides - A Recap and a Tribute

An original publicity shot

Our version!

Another original publicity shot...

...and our version!

Singing "Wonderful, wonderful day!"
(L-R: Hannah Lane as Ruth, Alyssa McClendon as Sarah, Mandy Rausch as Milly)

7 sold out shows of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!

Cool shot of the marquee at night

Dorcas and Milly (SarahAnn Sutter and Mandy Rausch) in the dressing room. Perfume, Starbucks and Hairspray: essentials for any good show!

This photo speaks for itself for those who know the inside joke!

It's been a week since the epic adventure that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was closed at DCT. What a long week it has been, too! Post-show depression and malaise (plus a week of auditions and callbacks, which I'll delve more into at the end*) is always hard, but rest assured a reunion is already being discussed and the first stirrings of planning are happening!

This show was, quite possibly, one of the most challenging and subsequently most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my ten years of doing theatre. I know, I said that about Crazy For You, too, but I'm not lying about either one! Each show I have done this year has been such a blessing in that it has provided not only a tremendous learning experience for me, but also an arsenal of new friends, new inside jokes (quite possibly the best part -- second to the friends of course), an addition to my resumé, and a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.

Seven Brides had some unique challenges for me. First off, it is by far the largest role I have ever been offered. When I went through and started highlighting my lines and songs, I started to hyperventilate a bit, especially since I missed the first two weeks of rehearsal due to a previous show commitment and an unexpected trip due to a death in the familiy. Secondly, we learned early on that we would be using a recorded, MIDI orchestra for rehearsals and performances. I won't waste time going into the challenges that provided, because I've already written about that once here. Then, there is the fact that the show is a beast to put together. Quick changes, giant (but absolutely beautiful) sets, you name it -- we faced it and whipped it's butt.

But the reward? Seven sold out performances. Yes, seven. MTD and DCT shows normally only produce 6 performances per production (how's that for alliteration?), but because this one sold out in presales, another performance was added. Approximately 2100 gracious and complimentary audience members. A great review in The Column. Relationships formed with the cast that will last a lifetime.

During one of the more stressful weeks pre-production, I was complaining to my mother about how tired I was. She asked me, "Why do you keep doing it then?" I had no answer for her. The answer is intangible to anyone who hasn't experienced what we experience when we do this. We just do.

So, this is the part of the show where I thank my fellow cast members and production team - aka the moment where you should stop reading if you don't care! If I left anyone out it's not because you didn't make an impact on me; it's just because I'm forgetful and scatterbrained at times. Don't be offended!

Bonnie, Liz, Gerald, Cindy, Betty Ann and Christopher- thank you for trusting me with this role, and thank you for being so patient with me as we figured out the whole process. I tried to keep my Inner Diva in check, but I'm very aware that she made an appearance at some of my more exhausted and/or insecure moments. I loved discovering Milly and bringing her to life onstage, and I couldn't have done that without all of you.

Nick - well all we heard when you were cast was "he loves the movie and he's driving all the way from Wichita Falls every day!" We all thought you had to be a little nuts to put up with that kind of commute for a community theatre show, but you totally pulled through and were a trooper. We all watched you progress throughout the rehearsal process, and by the end, nobody could have guessed that this was your first leading role. Keep it up, my friend -- keep broadening your theatre horizons and you'll do very well!

Sarah"Tran" Sutter - Sarah, what a joy it has been to do two shows back-to-back with you, and have them both end up being at the top of our lists of "great theatrical experiences in Denton!" While I will take some of the blame (though I still place the majority upon Abby's pretty head) for corrupting your vocabulary with words such as "tranny" and "bajankity," I also love how much I've seen you come out of your shell - onstage AND off - and become one of my favorite people in the world. P.S. - You're not allowed to leave Denton. P.P.S. - Don't worry. If you do, it's not like I'll come into your bedroom at night and kill you with a knife or anything.....or will I?

Alyssa - You and Boomer provided so much of my entertainment through out this process and I love you for it. You are such a beautiful girl with such a giant talent - my hope and prayer is that some day you believe that as much as the rest of us do! Your humility is so endearing, and you have such a sweet spirit while at the same time being able to catch my eye in the mirror and just raise your eyebrows and it makes me crack up laughing -- because I know what you're thinking! I'm so glad to have also been able to inject "Tranny" into your vocabulary.

Hannah - From one redhead to another, believe me, you'll come to embrace the word "sassy!" It's definitely a good thing! Your voice and your talent blows me away, and I'm just glad I'm so much older than you are so that I won't have to compete with you when you start getting leads left and right!

Heidi - You have such a wonderful heart and great attitude, and I'm so blessed to have you in my life now as a result of this show. Your love for Jesus is evident in everything you do, and your positive vibe always lifted me up, even when I was feeling so exhausted and tired and stressed out that I didn't think I'd make it through the night.

Jessica - Oh, Jessica. You do know we were always laughing with you right? :) From forgetting the correct undergarments to almost going onstage every night with something wrong (a curler still in your hair, a forgotten hat), you always always made me smile.

Ellen - Thanks for being our translator in the dressing room during show weekends! I'm saying this so often that it's starting to sound trite, but seriously, you had such a wonderful, positive attitude. It was truly a joy to have our few moments in the dressing room each night to chat before everyone else started arriving, and I truly enjoyed your Ferrett Commentary every evening.

Donna - Thank you for being such a positive Christian influence over all of us with your presence and your constant encouragement. Your support and love for your children is incredible, and I very much enjoyed the "Lornce" stories every night. Thank you for always being around to help me with a costume malfunction as well!

CiCi - I'm so glad that you were in this production with your amazingly talented children! Thank you also for being the sweetest sleepover hostess/Mom to a bunch of "Crazy" girls! Your scones are to die for. :) Thank you also for your positive attitude and influence in our dressing room and all over that theatre every night!

To my "Brothers" - I know, I did the girls individually, but when you spend that much time in a dressing room together, you just can't help but bond! You guys made this show for me -- no questions asked. Every time I was onstage with you, I forgot that I was onstage because I was wrapped up so much in the action of the scene -- thanks to you all. You gave me so much to work with emotionally and physically (hey-o!), that I truly believe Milly came to life the moment she met the Pontipee boys. Mike Strecher - your Benjamin was adorable, and every night it got harder and harder not to laugh at your meeting with Dorcas at the social. Mike Schafer - sweaty hands and all - your physicality and fun that you gave Caleb was evident in all the pictures, and even though I had a recurring bruise from you pulling me down from the stool every night, it was worth it! Jaime - nobody could ever guess this was the first show you've done in years. You jumped in headfirst and made the Ephraim/Daniel combination my favorite of all the brothers. Plus, you introduced us all to the wonder that is the Special K and Wine Diet. Best of luck in Chicago - you're going to love it! Michael Alonzo - oh, my Ephraim. You are so talented I can't even stand it!! I had so much fun dancing with you and having our "special time" every night before the lullaby! ;) You are also, quite possibly, the most mature 17-year-old I have ever encountered. Thank you for trusting me enough to talk to me about things that are important to you. I love you! Wes - it took you a while to come out of your shell, but once you did, I was so glad! You made such a wonderful Frankincense, and I'm so proud of the way you grew during the rehearsal process. You have an absolutely beautiful singing voice, and I am looking forward to hearing it as you mature and fine-tune it. Kurt - oh, Kurt, how I enjoyed working with you! You made an absolutely wonderful, sweet and endearing Gideon, and I don't know a soul who could have played the part better! I look forward to seeing MUCH more of you onstage -- though it's unlikely that I really could see much more of any of you boys, after seeing you in those quilts!!! ;)

To the Suitors - you guys turned what could easily have been minor roles into some of the most fun characters on that stage every night. It was one of my favorite moments ontsage each night to stand behind the traveling curtain and listen to your "Suitors' Lament," as it got more and more raucous and over-the-top. Joe - I am so glad you ended up doing this show! Thanks for not man-handling me too much in the restaurant scene every night, and thanks for always giving me my "pre-lullaby hug" backstage each night! Michael Wolfe - you were also a quiet one at first!! Once you opened up, though, I discovered what a sweet spirit you have, and I consider myself lucky to have found out! Best of luck at TCU, and make sure you come back and visit LOTS. Jackson - I didn't even know Mike had a son until you came around. ;) I enjoyed getting to see the "real" Jackson (both behind the scenes with your weird frog puppet and via Amanda Leavell's facebooks status updates -- what's this about a WWII veteran??), and I look forward to seeing you more onstage! Riley - I'm glad to know that you actually DO give a sh*t, and that that expression of yours is just a facade. ;) Haha! Boomer - you crack me up SO much. I'm so glad that I got to hang out with you before rehearsals/performances when you'd show up early and sit in the dressing roomw ith Ellen and me and tell me about your trantastic day. Come visit me this semester! Cody - Cody, I knew you were a doll and had some good raisin' (your mom RULES, btw), but you impressed me so much with your behavior during the Pottygate '09 scandal. You also always made my day with a hug or a compliment when I came offstage. Thank you for that!

To the Town Chorus and Lumberjacks - you guys were super troopers (not to be confused with Super Troupers or Super Troopers) during this process, and I hope I speak for the entire cast when I say thank you for never complaining (out loud) about not having enough to do. You all gave 100% when you were onstage and it made the town scenes so much more fun -- or at least so I heard through the monitors and saw out of the corners of my eyes onstage during the Social Dance! I can't wait to watch the DVD and see all of your little intricacies I missed every night. Lane, you especially cracked me up every night as I wondered just what would come out of your mouth after the social dance. Geoffrey and Paul - oh how I wish I could have caught you guys passing that bottle back and forth onstage! Andrew, Michael, Noah, Jillian, Sycada, Laiken and Amanda - I had such a great time interacting with all of you onstage every night during the Social Dance! I especially loved my hugs from my girls, and watching Jillian steal that pie every night!

To our amazing backstage crew and props mistresses - Honestly, could not have done this without you. Thank you for always being on the ball when I would run offstage and all but push you out of the way for a drink of water, or "yell" in a frantic whisper "where's my quilt?? where's the slab of meat I NEED THE SLAB OF MEAT RIGHT NOW!" This show went off smoothly and beautifully because of you.

I think that's it! Again, if I left you out, please do not be offended! I promise I love every one of you and am so glad to have had this experience with you!

As SOON as we know anything about a reunion, you'll hear from (at the very least) me and SarahAnn!

I miss you all, and I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity to work with you all!

*My husband and I both auditioned for Chicago this week. I was called back, but not cast, and my talented hubby was cast as the one, the only Billy Flynn! Our own Michael Alonzo and Jaime Rodriguez were also cast, in the ensemble! Show dates are October 9th - 18th, so anyone who wants to go in and cheer on this amazing cast with me, let me know!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


(photo by Gary Payne of the Denton Record Chronicle. L-R: Mandy Rausch as Milly, Hannah Lane as Ruth, Ellen Whatley as Liza)

[photo by Gary Payne of the Denton Record Chronicle. Top row, L-R: Nicholas Long (Adam), Mandy Rausch (Milly); Middle row, L-R: SarahAnn Sutter (Dorcas), Mike Strecher (Benjamin), Jessica Gibson (Martha), Michael Alonzo (Ephraim), Jaime Rodriguez (Daniel), Ellen Whatley (Liza), Michael Schafer (Caleb), Hannah Lane (Ruth), Kurt Sutter (Gideon), Heidi Erickson-Lewis (Alice); Bottom row, L-R: Wes Middleton (Frankincense), Alyssa McClendon (Sarah)]

(click on each picture for a larger image!)

Remember that time when I wanted to blog more often? Especially about theatre, rehearsals and such? Silly Mandy, thinking I'd have time to do that AS WELL AS rehearse for said theatrical endeavors, write reviews for The Column AND work a full time job.

No matter, though, here I am now. It's the Tuesday between show weekends for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (7B47B), and I'm happy to say that despite some anxiety on my part before opening this show, we had a VERY successful opening weekend. We sold out the entire weekend before the curtain was raised on opening night, and as of mid-afternoon yesterday, the second weekend was completely sold out as well.

I'm truly amazed and speechless by this. I'd like to say that these ticket sales are indicative of the hard-working cast and our performances, but logic tells me that since the show sold out BEFORE a single note was sung, the title of the show alone has been responsible for most of our publicity!

Don't get me wrong, now, this is a great, hard-working cast, and what I think is a successful show (still waiting on The Column review as of 9:09 CST on Tuesday)!

I have mixed feelings about the show selling out. Part of me is, of course, thrilled! I'm always glad when a community theatre production does really well, especially a show in which I've contributed a lot of blood, sweat and tears of my own (either onstage or off). But, this is also why I wish we had more than two-week runs! SO many people are already disappointed that they now won't get a chance to see it!

Again, though, I am so proud of this role, this cast, and this production. It has been a beast to put together for everyone involved, and it's a(nother) perfect example of just how much the volunteers in community theatre lay their hearts and souls onto that stage every. single. night.

CONGRATULATIONS to my cast -- my friends -- and I am truly blessed to have worked with you and gotten to know each and every one of you!

I will post a link to The Column review as soon as it becomes available!

P.S. -- check out the sidebar! There's a link to ALL reviews by The Column's Associate Theatre Critics, and a link to my own page of reviews I've written on!