Wordless Wednesday – Wardrobe

I told you I’d be back soon with my wardrobe update, and what better day than Wordless Wednesday to share it?

We had a quick read-through of the play last night, so we weren’t in wardrobe. Sorry these are lacking a model, but I’d look pretty weird taking selfies in the dressing room. Maybe. A tad.

 
Costume #1 is the above pants (LOVE these; they’re my own) and turquoise top. It’s worn for pretty much half of the show, along with metallic flats and a turquoise droop necklace. Costume #3 is the same pants and purple-magenta top (hard to tell in the picture, but take my word for it) with the same metallic flats.

To break up the two “same pants” days (it’s actually several days later), I’ve got a black blouse with a long attached tie, gray skirt (which I’ve used for numerous costumes over the years), and black flats.

So, whatchya think?

Mixed Bag Monday

You know how you have so much that you want to tell a friend during a phone conversation that you’re thinking, “Well, that looks like a bipolar mix of topics if ever there was one.” Well, yeah. That’s my post today.

“Acting out” this weekend was awesome. While our opening night was lackluster (we later realized that the audience wasn’t great, which tends to batter already-sensitive actor egos), our Saturday and Sunday performances were stellar, hilarious, and incredibly fun. That high that can only be brought by appreciative audiences was better than I remember.

A side note of annoyance (to any of you who may be live audience members at any point in the future, please take note) occurred during yesterday’s performance. It was clear that, although it was a Sunday audience (historically known as consisting of the elderly and more religious types), they were thoroughly enjoying the show, bawdiness and all. We began our second act and they seemed to still be on the chatty side (like trying to teach kids right after they come in from recess), so while my “fiance” started his lines (in which he’s questioning himself, and me, about how his show’s first read-through went), a gentleman in the audience STARTED ANSWERING.

We heard him as clear as day. He wasn’t ignorant (well…) nor hard-of-hearing nor any other excuse I could fathom. He was just a wiseass. He even loudly replied to whomever sat near him, “I know, I’m bad. I cause trouble.” (Something like that; I was too busy trying not to glare into the audience.) Needless to say, he made it incredibly difficult to focus and my fellow actor got flustered trying to remember his line. (He didn’t appear that way to the audience and I thought he did a smashing job of not letting it get to him, but we were both PISSED in that moment.)

The fact that the show is called “Don’t Talk to the Actors” just added to the ridiculousness.

Similarly, we had someone’s cell phone go off THREE TIMES — and they didn’t turn it off or do anything. Just kept ringing one of those obnoxious songs. Our “stage manager” told people to turn them off, especially since we have cell phone rings (and even the sound of a vibrating phone) as part of the show, but apparently the request didn’t stick.

It didn’t sour the whole show, but such mistakes are just reprehensible to me. Why do folks feel they’re above rules and general common courtesy? So many people ask us how we remember so many lines, and I now think to myself, “If you knew how much work went into it, and were up there trying to remember them yourself, would you keep your yapping to yourself and turn off your phone??”

Of course, this wasn’t the majority of the audience, and we were ultimately SO grateful just to have an audience who enjoyed spending their time with us! 

Anyhoo, needless to say, I’m hoping for three more great audiences, and am bittersweet about it all ending…especially since I’m mentally planning on starting my spring cleaning when the end comes. Blech.

Still need to get a picture or two of the costumes I selected. I’d also like to grab one or two of “behind the scenes” stuff. We’ll see if I can remember. *wink, wink*

NEXT TOPIC!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m one of those super-proud (mostly) Irish folks that don’t full-on celebrate the day. Like, I don’t drink green beer (or any, really, for that matter…not just to celebrate the day), I don’t hit up the parade (Dave’s not a fan of the rowdiness; can’t blame him), and I don’t go to church to thank St. Patrick for being crazy enough to want to return to Ireland after being enslaved there for years, all for his passion of spreading his religion.

But, I’m wearing green, and I take plenty of time to appreciate my ancestry.

And, apparently, I depress children.

Yep, call me the “let’s learn about Ireland and St. Patrick!!!” Debbie Downer.

See, I decided to use the chance to show my fourth graders some of the databases we purchase, so I looked up “Irish” (on a couple of sites so they can see the difference), and man was I a tad too informative.

They learned about St. Patrick, and since they’ve been learning a lot about African-American history, I used it as a teachable moment to show that Africans weren’t the only slaves (and still aren’t). Okay, not TOO bad.

Then, we searched about the Irish Potato Famine. Oops. I had read it in advance, but the more I talked about it, the more I realized that I was probably…um…yeah. It wasn’t anything horrific, but it was far from the usual “they’re after me lucky charms” leprechaun festivities of a regular St. Patrick’s Day. “See the historical etching of this family? The father who’s crying? The mother holding her baby, with several kids laying around? Yeah, they’re gonna die.” Wop wop.

Maybe we should’ve just researched Irish music…?

So, that’s where I am today. How ’bout you?

Acting Out – Tonight!

Taken by Dave Dellecese
ilionlittletheatre.com

(Place actually looks a bit different now.)

The time has come. Opening night. I haven’t had an opening night in over two years. We only had about 6 1/2 weeks to put this one together (the average is 8 weeks; just 1 1/2 weeks doesn’t sound like a big deal, but considering how quickly a show needs to come together on only 2-3 rehearsals a week…um, yeah, it is). For the most part, it looks as if we had over 8 weeks. Yep, lookin’ good! (jinx!)

I’m stupid crazy excited. Yes, stupid crazy. I’m surprised I’m actually coherent with my students today ‘cuz my brain is wackadoo.

Yet, I’m trying to reign myself in. Actors (and Irish, incidentally) are by nature a superstitious lot. So, just for fun (and since St. Patrick’s Day is on Monday, and I’m both Irish AND an actor), I thought I’d share a handful of the superstitions I’ve heard of and found more about when it comes to theatre. (Read: thee-AY-tre…ahem…just kidding)

Don’t say “good luck.” — Don’t you dare! It’s bad luck to say “good luck” and it must be “cancelled out” by either cursing or having the cast wish one another “bad luck.” The term “break a leg” is acceptable, although there are several possible reasons for its etymology. (Please don’t tell my students I’m citing Wikipedia. Mkay? Thanks.)

Similarly, no flowers until after your first performance. You haven’t even performed yet. How do you know if you’ll succeed? You don’t. It’s a jinx to accept (or be given) flowers before you tread the boards. It’s kind of like how I can’t get overly calm or “we got this, yo” because I’ve already jinxed myself. Nothing is definite, not until after our final performance. There’s always a new line that decides to jump your thought processes. Don’t. Get. Over-confident.

Ghosts haunt theaters and need one night alone on the stage. This superstition harkens back to the ghost of Thespis of Athens (6th century B.C.), although every theater supposedly has its own ghost. (Ours, we call George, although there is talk that there has been a female sighting in our attic from outside. I’ve seen and experienced George’s presence and sense of humor, so I know this one to be true. No foolin’.) I have just recently heard of the “one night alone” theory, but we try to have one dark night before starting the show’s run to rest up and be with our families before the “craziness starts.”

Ghost light. Linked to the previous thought, a ghost light (sometimes placed downstage, center) is put in place to keep the spirits at bay. However, out of practicality, this one makes a lot of sense. Ours is actually backstage near our electric box switches, which makes it easier when you’re entering a creepy, dark theater to see your way to the switches.

No whistling allowed. Okay, I just learned about this one quite recently from a fellow actor, although I’ve also read a different reason for it. As told, whistling (pre-walkie talkies) was a way to cue folks who were working above the scenery to a change. Allegedly, if someone was carelessly whistling, they were at greater risk of being nailed on the head with a sandbag. Alternately, I’ve read that it would miscue someone, leading to someone possibly losing their job. Either way, I get the evil eye when I thoughtlessly whistle…then Dick turns around three times, spits and swears. You can’t make this $%&# up.

Don’t say “MacBeth.” There are many reasons not to say the name of this play, as well as ways to amend your problem if you do. So, just don’t. 😉

Blue not allowed, unless accompanied by silver. Oops! I didn’t know this one until just now! Blue dye was such a valuable commodity that it could lead to the theater’s misfortune if it was worn onstage. The only saving grace would be to wear silver along with it to show your audience that you do, indeed, have a reliable backer (who could afford to furnish the blue dyed clothes AND silver). I, along with my “fiance” Jerry, are wearing a beautiful turquoise. Luckily, I’m wearing my silver engagement ring (yes, I take off my wedding ring when necessary, and hide it from George)…maybe I should suggest he wear something silver, too. Gah!

Side note: Green (blending with the outdoors when actors once put shows on outside; also corpse-like) and yellow (the color always worn by an actor playing the devil) are also bad luck. Jeez. What CAN’T we wear??

Bad dress rehearsal, good opening night. SOOOO many reasons this is used (scare the cast straight? Make them feel better if it’s a rough go?) Either way, it has made me feel better plenty of times. Our dress rehearsal went well, although there were areas that we could fix (I’m beating myself up over one line lapse that lasted a couple of seconds…but felt like 10), so I feel that’s enough to get us through. RIGHT???

If you find these interesting, check out the miscellaneous extras here. Neat stuff!

Oh, and for the curiosity-minded of you, I’m going to try to take a picture or two of my costumes this weekend to share what “style” I ended up going with. Or you could just come see the show and see for yourself. Either/or. 😉 (I know, quite impossible for most of you, but still…it’s a nice thought!)

For now, I’ll be getting to the theater early to do my hair/makeup and look over lines (hopefully “quietly”) before we begin. Can’t be too safe! DON’T wish me luck!! 😉

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday – Chalk It Up

I know, I know. Wordless Wednesdays should be just that — wordless. But, I suck at not writing/talking. It’s just…”how I do.”

So, given how involved with the show I’ve been lately, I thought it would be cool to share this picture that I snapped quickly before the writing got erased…

Boring, right? Just a homemade chalkboard with scribbling sitting on the stage floor.

But, there’s more to it than that.

This is a set dressing (technically prop since we actually used it during the show) from “1940s Radio Hour,” which we performed a handful of years ago. As each singer in the radio show arrived for “rehearsal” (all in front of the audience, mind you), we signed in. I was first — “Connie.” Then, a sweet actress named Char (who played “Ginger”), and my sister Mary (who played “B.J.” — it was changed from a male character and worked quite well). Finally, (others didn’t sign in) we see Neal. Er, “Heel” (as I jokingly changed it to each night). In other words, Dave.

That was the show in which Mary and I got to actually interact, and joke around, and sing duets together. It was the show during which our grandmother passed away. It was the show that we were allowed to cry during the last song (“I’ll Be Seeing You” — how can you NOT cry to that?), so Mary and I wept and wept over losing her. No acting needed. 

It was the show in which I had to sing pig latin. PIG LATIN.

It was the show in which countless ’40s songs were sung. It was the show we “took on the road” to a local library and an assisted living home or two to spread the cheer around. It was the show with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy;” one of my all-time favorites.

It was the show in which I drank about 8-10 Cokes each performance with no bathroom break until it was over.

It was the show in which Dave and I met. We were both seeing other people, and we didn’t speak a whole heck of a lot offstage (except for a silly/snide remark here or there…I’m socially awkward), but we had a blast together onstage — and since we were allowed to improv, we still got to know each other pretty well from the start.

This was an important show. And it’s beyond awesome that the chalkboard will be a part of my current show, considering it’s my first show back in a couple of years and I’m enjoying it so much (and it doesn’t hurt that it’s frickin’ HYSTERICAL).

It definitely feels like returning home again, and something as small as this makes my heart swell.

SIDE NOTE: MOHAWK VALLEY PEEPS, THE SHOW OPENS THIS WEEKEND (March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 – Friday & Sundays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm). TICKETS ARE $12 ADULTS, $8 STUDENTS AT THE DOOR. 

Just in case, I like to mention that there’s a bit of “PG-13” (or maybe worse) language. No “F” words, but yeah…it’s not for kids. 😉

When Things Get Tough, Make a List

freedigitalphotos.net
(This isn’t our kitchen…)

With nearly every weeknight being taken over by theater rehearsals (not that I’m complaining! It’s been a blast) and twice weekly physical therapy sessions (okay, that I kind of AM complaining about), it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Super duper stressed. It’s nice to have something fun to focus on, but the rest of this crazy life can get pretty nuts.

But, I’ve done pretty well. How? By chunking. Then listing.

Chunking means a million things (one of which involves child literacy, but that’s not what I’m talkin’ about here). In this case, I just use it as a coping mechanism; a way to handle things in smaller amounts. One day at a time. One meal at a time.

Since the things I look forward to most are at the end of the day (ie rehearsal and seeing Hadley and Dave at the end of it all), I look at each day in sections: morning, work, dinner/physical therapy/shower (those are one thing because they happen quickly in the span of about an hour +/- post-work), then “fun.” (Yes, sometimes the “fun” part is stressful, but it’s the almost-guaranteed positive in my day.)

Sure, sometimes there are positives in the rest of the day. Like, the morning rush almost always gives way to my daily phone chat with my mom. That’s generally a happy, high point of the day, done while eating breakfast or folding laundry or what not. If I can fit little tasks like this in while getting other stuff done, I feel a) more productive, b) less overwhelmed later on (no one likes that “I’ve got NO clean underwear!?!?” feeling), and c) happier (see “a”; laziness makes one beat oneself up, whereas productivity gives a boost of adrenaline…it’s a thing).

And, most days I can find SOME bit of happiness in the “work” side of things. Despite being a librarian, I despise putting books away. (My stack of books can attribute to that.) But if I chunk it into sections — putting away chapter books on one day, or half of the “easy” books, or all of the pet and sport books, it’s more manageable, even with a constantly full schedule. Plus, there’s almost always a happy moment with the kids that makes the rest of the stress easier to take. Even just being in a good mood and laughing along with them (ie not letting their annoying habits break me down…and remembering they’re only kids) helps.

As for P/T…well, that’s a post for another day, but let’s just call it a necessary evil. I go. I do. I feel awkward. I then become frustrated realizing that the exercises I have to do at home just doubled and I’ll be getting up at frickin’ 5:30 to get fit them in. I get grouchy. Then I move on. It’s a cycle, and I’m used to it now. (Well, not the getting up early thing. It’s not in my blood. I was meant to be my grandmother — Grandpa got coffee and breakfast ready for HER.)

When I don’t have P/T, I run around getting a “nicer” dinner ready and grabbing a shower (I shower at night out of convenience and time constraints…don’t say “ew”). The time still flies, and I find myself running out the door to rehearsal.

*SKREEEEECH* (Not the dude from “Saved by the Bell”; let’s not go there.) This is where my listing comes in.

I’m not great at to-do lists. Sometimes, it’s a must. Like anytime I go shopping for example. Groceries or otherwise, I will inevitably forget something if I don’t make a DETAILED list. Like…if I don’t put down the COLOR of the shoes I was going to get, I will immediately walk into Target and go into a Target-coma; must look at EVERYTHING in the store. Inevitably walk out without the shoes I came for. Beat myself up later. (Same works with food of all sorts. Or toilet paper. Hate that.)

However, making a list of the food I have in the house or, better yet, the meal possibilities (some savvy bloggers refer to them as “meal plans”, but I’m hardly a “planner”…so, I guess it’s a “meal list”) on my fridge’s white board helps in this regard.

Of course, the first week I dared use this method (the craziest week yet…until this week, during which the show opens), things got thrown around…but, it was still nice to have the list and use a couple of the “suggested” dinners. Like, Dave and the munchkin stayed with his parents for dinner a couple of nights. Still fine since I could make the omelet I had listed as a possibility. And, saving grace, I had chicken in the slow cooker the night of my incredibly longer-than-usual P/T session last Thursday — which meant I had time to scarf down half of my dinner before heading to the theater vs. not having ANYTHING to eat. Wasn’t great, but was better than takeout (which…ahem…we don’t really do these days).

So, what about your house? How do you handle the stress when you know it’s gonna be a week from Hades? And are you a lister? What kind do you make? Are you like my mom — whom we buy blank paper pads in bulk for, she makes so many lists?

Don’t Talk to Meg, Acting Out

Once again finding my brain unable to formulate the words to do Grandpa justice, but trying to get back to living life with him in my head and heart. So…now for something completely different.


For the first time since having Hadley, I’m taking on an honest-to-goodness local acting role. That means it has been since around…hmm…the November before he was born…carry the one…a frickin’ while. A frickin’ while since I’ve tread the boards or learned a butt load of lines or tried to be anyone but “Mama.” Over two years.

Since I’m looking at this experience with new, dare I say baby-like eyes (as much as someone who’s been in a good number of shows can), I thought I’d give a teensy bit of vague insight into the goings-on behind-the-scenes. Nothing enough to piss off the fellow actors, but maybe something of interest.

We had our first read-through (well, the only read-through, but whatever) last Friday night. I always go into these things calmly; it’s never as bad or as great as your mind makes them out to be. There’s generally a varied mix of “yay! So-and-so is in this show!! Fun!!” and “Crrrrrap, we only have 5 weeks.” Um, yeah, that’ll be the worst part. Not sure I’ve been in a show that took less than 6 weeks to prepare. Should be interesting.

That said, I’ve also never laughed so hard at a read-through in. My. Life. The show, “Don’t Talk to the Actors”, is quite new for our theater (written in 2009), so the comedy is incredibly fresh and easy to follow…and borderline trashy. Okay, okay, it’s not one to take the kiddies to. But, GOD, it’s good.

The story follows a brand new, naive playwright and his fiancée (me, an also-naive, cross-stitching kindergarten teacher) as he sees his play rehearsed for the first time for an eventual Broadway audience. The two aging actors are well-known in different capacities and both cantankerous in their own hysterical ways. Let’s just say my character is smitten with the older male actor due to his earlier stint on TV (I can relate, having obsessively crushed on several very random older TV guys as a kid). 

Before opinions start to arise, the director urges my fiancé not to listen to the actors (who will attempt to change his work and, as predicted, do). Some hilarious scenes and surprises pop up, and overall should be a great night of entertainment for our audiences (and hopefully for the cast, as well).

I was on the fence about going for a part. I read up a bit about the show, but once Grandpa died I thought, “Well, I’ll just wait for next season.” Auditions overlapped with his wake and preparations, so I wasn’t optimistic.

Then, as often happens in community theater, the awesome director (one reason I decided to pursue it — I’ve never worked with him and he’s just a wonderful guy and performer) posted on the theater’s Facebook page that they were still looking for the younger female role. On a whim, I offered my services and the rest is, as they say, history.

Acting out once again.

I’m grateful to have a week off next week and hope to learn a crap load of my lines (if my aging brain can take it).

Now, to find some ironic cross-stitch that I can work on onstage but actually use later to remember the show by – you know the kind I mean, right?

And what the heck does one wear to show a modern-day naive kindergarten teacher from Buffalo? …Asks the school librarian from Upstate NY.

No Small Parts…

Well, we’re back at it again. Dave’s had an idea floating around in his noggin for quite awhile — I like to blame Orson Welles, but I could probably blame him for 1/4 of Dave’s schemes — and it’s finally getting implemented. Last week, we had a cold reading for an old 1939 Christmas eve radio presentation of “A Christmas Carol” which we’ll be putting a modern twist on.

See, several Ilion Little Theater members have chatted for awhile that it would be fun to put together a podcast, and Dave’s thoughts went in this direction. I love the idea of taking a classic written in the 1840s, then performed for the TV-less audiences of 1939, finally producing it for an audience from 2013. Consider the evolution! From written word to public readings (Dickens was known for ’em) to plays to movies to radio (and more movies)…and, finally, to the interwebs! I’m sure it’s probably been done in this modern capacity before, but not with our friends at the ILTC.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the sit-down reading. I knew that the first priority is to have fun (as with most theater). The second is to put on a stellar performance, which became easier and easier as we heard the voices emanating from our fellow performers — our Scrooge is impeccably cantankerous without being cloying; our Cratchit is perfectly warm-hearted yet full of the neuroses only having Scrooge as a boss can create; our Marley is deep, booming, and a tad bit terrifying; our our tiny Tim is adorable and heartbreaking (although being played by — get this — the same fellow who voices Marley!!! I laughed so damn hard, but his performance was truly inspired!); Cratchit’s wife is so convincing as a worried (and later, mourning) mother that it’s difficult not to cry along with her (I play her daughter, although she’s only a little older than myself); there are several more incredible performers, but you get the point. The better a performance it is, the more fun it is.

The third point seemed to be an unspoken, yet quite known one. Given the show’s history, and the integrity of the work, we knew that it must evoke the Christmas spirit. Needless to say, the seriousness we’re all taking the performance with is humbling. Considering that we needn’t any costumes or lights or sets or even literal sounds (our sound guy is using downloaded tracks, yay!), we hope to at least make the show come alive for any and all who listen to it.

So, if all goes according to plan, we’ll be recording in one fell swoop (all at once, no stopping, just like a radio performance) then uploading the whole shebang to iTunes for listening before Christmas.

While this wasn’t my idea of a “return to stage”, I’m glad to be back at it. And, yes, it’s a very small part — but, what they say is true. Plus, we only needed to get a sitter twice! That being said, I plan on returning to the stage in earnest with one show next season.

There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

Today is my big sister’s birthday. I won’t divulge her age…’cuz nobody’s happy to have that information out there for the world. (Well, maybe she is, but I won’t push it.) She’s an awesome mom and wife (um, I assume; I’m not married to her ;-)), but I know her better as an incredible sister and BIBF — built-in best friend.

I have two older brothers and Mary, and while I know I was always a bit of a nuisance to all of them growing up, and I’ve put them all on pedestals for years, Mary and I were automatically lumped together being a) closer in age to each other and b) girls. We shared EVERYTHING; a room (and bed when we were younger), friends, clothes, bath time (again, when we were younger), oftentimes presents, and the less concrete; tiny issues that seemed so big, giggles ’til one of us fell asleep (usually her), and secrets.

After Mary went away to college, leaving me an only child for the first time EVER, our relationship changed. I was suddenly less of an annoyance. We’d receive homesick calls and my mother would be so excited to hear her voice…only to grow disappointed and hand the phone over to me. I was suddenly an equal rather than a buzzing mosquito, and it was wonderful. Through bumps in the road and issues big and small, our friendship has remained. As other longtime friends fell out of our lives, we still found that we could call or shoot a lengthy email divulging whatever gripe or real concern we had with the world without fear of judgment or condemnation…or, worse, losing the friendship.


The funny thing? We’re not that much alike. Mary’s the sensible one; I’ve always been less than rational (compared to some, this might not be true, but in our family it’s simply how it is). She’s relatively reserved unless prodded; I’m generally boisterous to a fault. She’s business-minded; I’m scattered and lack a head for numbers. She’s level-headed; I romanticize things and get over-emotional. Yet, we work. It works.

Why am I telling you about her? Well…for one thing, to embarrass her. Betchya it’s working. 😉 But, more importantly, to not only celebrate Mary and her turning another year older, but to celebrate all that Mary has done for me. See, I wouldn’t have the life I have right now if it wasn’t for Mary. Not only did she help discipline me, teach me how to deal inter-personally with others, and keep an eye on me in my formative years (among about a million other little things), but I literally wouldn’t have the life that surrounds me at this very moment if not for a few key steps that SHE made. It brings tears to my eyes to consider it, and how fate works.

See, way back in what seems to be a different lifetime for all of us, Mary was looking for a new outlet for creativity. Something that she could enjoy as a hobby. Being a relatively quiet, shy person, what happened next astounds me still. Mary saw an ad in the paper mentioning an open dinner meeting at the Ilion Little Theater Club to welcome new members and anyone interested in becoming a member…and, all alone, knowing not a soul, she showed up. So. Not. Mary. Hell, I don’t think I could’ve done it.

She learned a bit about the place and started her foray by helping backstage…then taking a role in a musical (I still love that part…a young orphaned archaeologist with dirt on her face)…then in an awesome comedy that our grandmother would’ve been proud of (in which I distinctly remember her borrowing a pair of my “Katharine Hepburn pants” — she was an outgoing, modern American married to a traditional British vicar). I loved going to see her in the shows and enjoyed visiting the place. I was just downright proud and happy for her.

She warm-heartedly allowed me to (just like the old days) tag along with her to a dinner meeting or two to learn more about the place, myself. I was fascinated by it, but never thought I’d get deeply involved. It was Mary’s thing and I didn’t want to take it from her.

But, then, the call came. A first-time director (and, at the time, the president of the club) knew that Mary wasn’t interested in a part, but wondered if I’d take a crack at it. It was a long-shot considering that I hadn’t acted since high school, but I took it and the rest is history.

I remember calling Mary immediately to find out if it was okay (I hadn’t said “yes” yet) and she seemed almost relieved that I was willing to take the role. Since then, I’ve come to feel the same way when I’ve helped a director find someone to fill a role I was unable to perform (usually due to time constraints…or just hating the part), but at the time I didn’t want her to feel like I was taking over HER hobby; once again nudging into her life just as I had tagged along on her dates in high school. (Yes, I did that. Thank God she married her high school sweetheart and we can still laugh about it today.)

Yet, Mary was gracious and almost grateful that we had a common bond to share. We even ended up doing a couple of shows together.

But here’s how this whole thing changed “the course of human events”: I met my husband at the theater. The first show we did together on Ilion’s stage (there was a prior show we worked on together, but didn’t have any lines or interactions with each other and it was an “on the road” production) was a musical called “1940s Radio Hour”. Dave was talked into joining our cast by a co-worker/friend. We were friendly, but far from friends or even “more than friends” back then. I was generally happiest that Mary and I finally got to joke off of each other and even sing together quite a lot (and in period ’40s costumes, at that!). 


A couple of shows later and I found myself doing a cockney accent as a hotel maid in “Perfect Wedding”. It was a much smaller cast, and Mary wasn’t in this one, so we found ourselves growing much friendlier during rehearsals. I think I appreciated the dedication Dave had to the role and his perfectionism about getting it right; I’m pretty sure he liked the same thing about me. (If you’re gonna do an accent, DO THE DAMN ACCENT! Am I right or am I right?) We just got along. By the end of the run, we both found ourselves single and the rest is, as they say, history.

The theater is our family history. From there, our first date was at a local Broadway-caliber show, we saw a few Broadway shows (and other area theater shows) over the years, and even got engaged in NYC. The evening we found out we were having Hadley was Halloween almost two years ago — and we had to immediately head to the theater to rehearse “Arsenic and Old Lace”. (Side note: It’s one of Dave’s FAVORITES, so now we can say that Hadley made his debut onstage with us. Although technically that would’ve been gross. Ew.) Now, THAT was a lesson in acting, keeping that little piece of news to ourselves. 
Whatchya hidin’ in there? A seeeecret?

Thank goodness for first trimesters…

Some of my favorite memories at the theater are of sharing moments with family. Mary, whom if not for a horrific bout of tendinitis might have a career as a musician or music teacher today, has performed the role of musical director many a time. When we did “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” a few years back, it was the first huge musical role of its kind that Dave had had (although he did some kickass musical reviews in high school that I only wish had been videotaped), and her patience and kindness working with him was one of the things that gave him the confidence to get up there and put aside his misgivings; he proved that, yes, he had/has musical talent. 

When Dave made his directorial debut, he chose “Clue! The Musical” and ripped it to shreds; I should say, he made it GOOD. It wouldn’t have been high on many lists of favorites if Mary hadn’t led the way musically. That one was, by far, a family affair. I played Miss Scarlet, did choreography and picked up slack wherever Dave needed me to. I’d done stuff like this for other shows, but this time was different. We were doing it as a familial team. Oh, and I almost forgot — Dave had to make a cameo once or twice, and Mary’s husband, John, played a superb Paul McCartney (just kidding; he was a back-up dancer/one of many husbands to Mrs. Peacock).


At any given time, we three served on the theater’s board, too. That’s a lesson in itself!

And, in the process of it all and as time tends to allow, we’ve picked up a second family. Sure, it’s one that has its share of oddballs (I may be one of them) and moody personalities (again…me?), but for those who have fallen in love with theater in the tiny one-room dressing room and equally tiny stage (what scene change?!), through tripped power switches and square-headed screws vs. Philips head screws and paint parties with donuts…the ILT family is to thank for it. And maybe George, our resident ghost, has a little hand in it, too. (No, we’re not chatting with the ghost in this picture.)


So, quite literally, I owe the family that is currently dozing around me as I type this to Mary first, and the theater second. That’s huge. I’m humbly grateful. And, yes, we will return…some day. When Hadley’s old enough to play independently backstage without getting into the tools.And when he can get a walk-on and actually walk…on.



A very happy *mumble mumble* birthday to my sister, my best friend, my second mother, my unknowing matchmaker, Mary. Thank you for being such a huge part of my life, for giving me an awesome brother and niece, and for being the proudest aunt ever. Lots of love and I’m sorry if this post was too much about me than you; it got away from me! 😉

Passion for Programs

On one hand, I do lots at the theater. On the other hand, I do nothing compared to several very dedicated folks. But I thought I’d give you a glimpse into what I DO do there because, well, I’m the only one on the board with a blog…or at least a blog that indicates any relation whatsoever to our crazy “little theater“.

Just as an example, I give you this evening, less than one week prior to our latest show’s opening. My husband and I are both glued to our laptops. He’s working on work stuff (a house exploded, scary stuff). I’m working on the program. (More often than not, though, Dave’s working on theater stuff since he’s the president; I’m merely the secretary. We both agree that the role of treasurer is, arguably, the most work-intensive and thankless of all duties…I said arguably.) Here’s a glimpse:

“Programs” isn’t something that the secretary is necessarily “supposed” to do. (Yes, we have by-laws, although they don’t necessarily lay out everything that we each have to do. It’s just kind of “known”. Things tend to evolve that way when you’ve been going strong for nearly 90 years.) But, being the sick person that I am, I enjoy design and fonts and a general consistency, so at some point I had a lapse in sanity and offered to do programs for every show of the season. It’s okay, though, generally. After the first show of the season I can generally just plug in the new show info and players, keeping all of the ads (which Dave and I solicit) in place. The first one of the year is kind of a pain, though, and this just happens to be that kind. Joy!

I think I may be a control freak. The programs used to be quite different from one show to the next, and oftentimes included photocopied ads. While I sometimes get the occasional pixelation (I think I made a word), having everything as a computer file is so much simpler and easier to work with than the “old way”. Plus, audiences can expect consistency from one program to the next…if they even care….

We’re finally learning how to cut back on expenses and order only what we need for the first weekend; if we need more, I order them the Monday before the final weekend performance. Oh, another thing this reminds me about! We get them through Staples now. Sounds basic, right? We do the same for membership cards, newsletters, and a million other things. The best thing about doing the Staples thing, though? Stapling. Collating. Folding. We used to do all, all, ALL of that at the theater. I can’t count how many times I’d arrive with my hair in curlers only to pitch in in the lobby sorting and stapling pages of the program. Yeah, this really is a special sort of place. 🙂

I do get a strange enjoyment out of using dafont.com to download fun fonts (duh…hence the name) to give an appropriate feel to the program, such as with the title of “Arsenic and Old Lace” above. Frilly, appropriately creepy – it just sets the mood. Here’s another way that I like to sneak a little Meg personalization…

Can you make it out? “Help us go green and cut costs”? Yep, that’s all me. I experienced it at a stage in (where else) Ithaca, NY and had to implement it. It’s probably one of the only green things about the place (aside from our new furnace and A/C, which is Energy Star rated), but I try. 😉

So that’s one thing other than maintaining minutes, doing correspondence, creating newsletters (wow, there’s really SO much more than is in our job descriptions!), and acting that I do at the theater. Like I said, lots of people do lots more – where do you think the toilet paper and comes from? And who gets called when we have an attempted break-in or vandalism? Yep.

If you’re ever in the Mohawk Valley, double-check our web site and see if there’s a show going on. It’ll definitely make for an entertaining night, and no visitor to our little theater ever forgets the experience. Now I’m off to enjoy some mindless magazine-reading. Dave and I agree that any heavy reading (y’know…the kind that makes you learn or gives you suggestions on how to live a better life) has to wait until a show’s over. Those lines don’t allow room for much else in the ol’ noggin.

Acting Out Again

Ten little soldier boys…

Hello, dear readers. Here at meg, acting out, I talk about a lot — from home improvement projects and eating organically to married life and, of course, the cats. But, just last night it occurred to me that you might like to hear about something truly relevant to the name of the dang blog.

Last night, Dave and I went to the Little Theater for our first night working on their next production — “And Then There Were None,” an Agatha Christie murder mystery. Dave is playing the part of Marston, a snobby, spoiled brat who seems to care about nobody – except himself. I’m playing Vera, a secretary who gets wrapped up in the “mystery” aspect of the murder mystery.

Before this read-through, I found myself to be, sure enough, happy to be getting back onstage (and of my own accord, at that! The last show, I got roped into, and didn’t enjoy it in the least — ah, the loyal life of a community theater participant), but a little apprehensive. I hadn’t read the whole script and wasn’t sure how much I could do with my part. Luckily, the read-through proved to be not only a BLAST, but told me that my character has lots of ranges to play with – from calm, sweet and capable to downright losing it.

I haven’t done a drama on ILTC’s stage before. Dave reminded me that I did have the opportunity during “Clue” to have a mental breakdown (the night an audience member picked my “card” as the murderer), but I then reminded him that, while “Clue” was a musical, a comedy, a mystery and, yes, even a drama, whenever the chosen murderer for the evening gave their defiant, outrageous, “I did it! I did it!” speech, the audiences would go nuts…laughing. After reading Vera’s interactions with the other characters, I can be assured that, while there are amusing and even giggle-worthy moments, ain’t no one gonna be laughin’ at the wrong times.

I’m already proud of this show, and I’m not even the director. Speaking of which, our director is a very kind retired gentleman whom we (Dave and I) have worked with several times — including as our roles on the board. Regardless, it’s strange. I can tell when I’m really into a show when I suddenly feel that helping out won’t burden me or be a pain. I’ve already offered to create the programs and paint sets, and have a few other little jobs in mind if Art wants me to do them. That’s HUGE when it comes to ILTC. It’s hard to find anyone to do anything, and not for lack of caring about the place.

The show will be going up in March. I’ll be posting more information when things get nailed down completely, and I’m sure I’ll be letting you know how rehearsals are going. I’m not foreseeing any too-rough spots — the rest of the cast are pretty much pros, and we’re so excited to be working with all of ’em!