Noises Off

I think most of the time people consider straight plays to be easier than musicals. And to some extent, I think that’s correct. Musicals have all that singing and dancing and whatnot. But I think Noises Off could give a musical a run for their money.

Noises Off is a farce, a very zany play that involves a lot of running around. In act one, the cast of Nothing On is in their final rehearsal and everything is going horribly wrong. In act two, it’s a performance in the middle of their tour and everything is in even worse condition- especially since now the set is turned around and the audience is watching the pantomimed antics backstage. And in act three, it is the final performance of the run and nothing at all is going the way it should.

I auditioned not knowing which role I should go for- Poppy, Dotty, Belinda, or Brooke. I was lucky enough that the first or had me read for all four roles multiple times. (I actually filmed my audition prep process if you’d like to see it- comment below if you think I should post it!) In the end, I was cast as Belinda.

(Side note: my costume might look familiar. It’s part of my Dapper Day Elinor ensemble!)

I’ve done some challenging shows in my day, but this was probably the most fun challenge I’ve experienced in a while. The first hurdle was that I missed the first two weeks of rehearsal because of A Chorus Line- but the director knew that before I auditioned and cast me anyway. (Always post your conflicts on your audition form!)

The hardest part for me once we got into rehearsals was remembering which cue lead to which line. Belinda’s bits tend to be non sequiturs, so there isn’t a good set up to trigger the next line of dialogue. And since all three acts follow a similar structure, the same cue line in all three acts could lead into completely different responses. I literally made myself little cue cards to keep in my skirt pocket to prompt myself through tech week. I was fine without them once they opened, but the sense of training wheels has been very reassuring.

Belinda is also a challenging character to play. She’s a perky optimist, so how do you keep her from getting boring? She’s a major gossip, so how do you keep her likable? She’s saying all these nice things, but is she completely genuine or a little bit sarcastic about it? It’s been fun to play a character with so many options.

The show was booked for a three weekend run, nine performances total. After last Friday, performance number four, the guy playing Lloyd broke his arm, so for the Saturday performance the actor playing Tim stepped in to play Lloyd and one of the stage crew stepped in to play Tim. I described it as “a very sweaty performance.” It was nervewracking for sure, especially since it felt like I had just hit my stride, but the actor now playing Lloyd is delightful and I worked with him last summer on Charley’s Aunt, so I was happy to have scenes with him this time.

Tomorrow begins our last weekend of performances; I’m planning on vlogging my way through the last three shows. Stay tuned, I may have more edits to this post as we wrap up this run!

Charley’s Aunt

Apparently 2018 was the year I did shows that no one else ever does. Charley’s Aunt was written in the 1890s and was incredibly popular then; it even got turned into a musical later on. But…no one ever does it.

It’s super cute though. It’s a fun British farce about a couple of college boys who want to invite their girlfriends over so they can propose, but of course in this era they need a proper chaperone. Originally Charley’s aunt (wow, the name of the show!) was going to chaperone, but she doesn’t show up, so naturally the boys dress up their classmate as the aforementioned aunt. Comedy ensues.

I played Kitty, one of the pretty girls hoping to get engaged. I really liked this show because I got to play a cute ingenue, which I never get cast as, plus I got to use a British accent. However…the show is long. So long. Tremendously long. I think that might be the main factor why it’s rarely produced. The bulk of my scenes were in acts one and two; I spent most of act three in a ballgown sipping brandy and saying “isn’t that lovely!”

Speaking of costumes…guess who made her own costumes again?

This show is set in the 1890s, so I needed a full set of underwear. I made myself a chemise and bloomers, and wore a corset from the costume shop. Unfortunately, because I’m short, the corset was far too long for my torso, but with some creative lacing we made it work.

I wore an afternoon dress for most of the show. White muslin was very popular for wealthy women, but I lined mine in pink for a little extra something, and to make it a little less stark onstage. I used McCall’s 7071 and followed it pretty closely on the bodice, but I used the skirt pattern from Simplicity 2207 for a more simple shape. I didn’t wear extra petticoats or a bustle, but I gathered the dress a little bit more in the back to make it a little more full.

My act three dinner dress was a dream. I bit the bullet and ordered the Phantom of the Opera film pattern from eBay- long discontinued, but absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth it. It made a beautiful off the shoulder neckline. I made it as one piece instead of two, however, and cut the waist straight across instead of into a point. I also added the sleeves from Simplicity 1873. I used a pink polyester from Joann’s Casa Collection and lined it with a cream colored cotton bedsheet from Walmart.

The bustle was sewn the way it the pattern calls for, but I bustled it higher to make sure I didn’t get stepped on (spoiler alert: I still got stepped on. Frequently. The perils of being five foot nothing in a floor length ballgown.)

My favorite part was that my mom came all the way from Nashville to see me! She came to Edwin Drood in the fall, too- but she saw me in the same costumes, because I ended wearing all my Charley’s Aunt pieces for Drood. It worked out!

I’m really glad I ended up doing this show. It went over really well and I had a lot of fun with the other actors- four of us from Wedding Singer went straight from Wedding Singer to Charley’s Aunt, and that made it a really great experience to be with friends. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the chance to do this show again, but if you get the chance at least to see it, go see it!

The Mousetrap

The first thing that I learned about doing an Agatha Christie show…is that they’re long. Long and wordy. Long and wordy with a lot of repetitive phrasing so often you’re wondering if you’re picking up with the correct line, or you’re just going around in a circle. But the plots of an Agatha Christie are so good that you soldier on until you’re rewarded with the reactions from the audience when they figure out the secrets of the plot.

The Mousetrap is the longest-running play in the world- it’s been running nonstop in London’s West End since 1952 and it’s a popular choice for local theaters. Even then, I went into the audition a little blind about the story. Well, that’s not necessarily true. I studied the characters and the story, but I decided to not read the ending of the play unless I was cast, or whenever I went to see the show. Luckily I was cast as Miss Casewell and got to be surprised by the murderer’s identity at the end of our first readthrough.

Miss Casewell is an incredibly fun character to play. I usually play rather sweet and cute characters; Miss Casewell is a tremendously independent woman who travels on her own and speaks her mind. And I got to wear these amazing wide legged suede trousers and a sweater vest and oxford flats, so I was super super comfortable.

I loved being part of The Mousetrap. It was a difficult rehearsal process with the number of lines and the number of available entrances and exits on the set (so many! So many options!) but it was a great show. Plus we had a standing direction of “if you don’t know what to do, go to the bar,” so I spent a good part of the show slouching on a windowseat and nursing a drink (of strawberry juice, everyone picked out their favorite drink and that was mine). I don’t know if I’ll do another Agatha Christie any time soon since they’re wordy and complicated, but it was a lot of fun.

(Of course, I say this as I start rehearsals for Noises Off, but that’s another story…)

The Wedding Singer (Again!)

Y’all. You would think I would have learned my lesson from the first time I did Wedding Singer to not costume it again. And yet…here I am.

My director for Evil Dead asked me while I was working on that show if I could costume Wedding Singer. Honestly…I wanted to be in it more than costume it this time. So of course, because it’s me, I ended up costuming and performing in the ensemble!

The great thing about costuming this time around was that I had a great shop to pull from, and I was able to borrow pieces from the first time I did the show. It also helped that this time I had a really clear vision of what I wanted. My first production of Wedding Singer really taught me that you need to know what you want before you really get into pulling and making pieces. Haphazard does not work when you have a massive cast where everyone has at least six costume changes.

201 total, actually. 201 costume changes.

I almost died.

This time I had some parts of the plot that I was really, really proud of. Like…Linda’s wedding dress. The actress already had an affinity for vintage lingerie, so she found a 1980s lace bustier (I filled in the cups to cut down on the nipple visibility; the show is only PG-13 at the absolute most) and I made her a massive poofy high-low hem tulle skirt scattered with red roses. I made her a veil topped with red roses too. I also made her a pink plaid tearaway skirt for “Let Me Come Home.”

I put all the guys in “Single” in mismatched Hawaiian shirts and honestly I was in love with it. The second I found the rack of Hawaiian shirts I was like OH GOD I NEED THESE.

Holly wore the same dress I made for the previous production, the pink swimwear dress, but without a tearaway skirt. I definitely didn’t have time for that this time around.

For “All About the Green” I did the same concept for the ensemble with everyone in matching outfits, but I dressed Glen in a blazer and a green tie that the actor already owned. Robbie’s outfit was a happy accident- I wanted it to look like Robbie was wearing the nicest clothes he owned, and one day the actor playing Robbie showed up to rehearsal wearing this great short sleeve button up with an 80s style Star Wars print. So of course I had him wear it for the show, with khaki pants and a lilac covered tie. It was a perfect contrast.

And of course, I wore a crazy combination of outfits for my own track! First up: a wedding guest/the wedding photographer in the opening number! I added puffy white off the shoulder sleeves to a dress I already owned.

Second: one of the Pop! bridesmaids. I found three identical dresses (apparently donated from a 1980s show choir, not even kidding) and hemmed them up to fit the three shortish bridesmaids so we could safely pop in and out of a bathroom stall (also not even kidding).

Third: Donatella the whiny baby talk bride. This was an absolute blast, especially since I got to wear this crazy satin wedding gown and an equally crazy veil. And then I got to punch Robbie to finish off the number before I stormed offstage wailing. Honestly a blast.

Fourth: a bar mitzvah guest. I wore this awesome drop waist velvet dress with a lace collar. I had most of my next costume underneath it to help with my next change, but I wanted some awkward kids to be guests at the bar mitzvah and it was totally worth it.

Fifth: shopping mall patron. I only wore this costume for about five minutes, but it was my favorite! I made the plaid circle skirt myself and wore my S-Mart Evil Dead shirt as a little hidden tribute (and it worked with the time period, since Evil Dead came out in 1981 and Wedding Singer is supposed to be 1986).

Sixth: a clubber! Okay, I lied, this might have been my favorite costume. I made this insane circle skirt from layers and layers of multicolored tulle. The velvet off the shoulder bodysuit was, of all things, from Target! It was a comfortable outfit to wear especially since it was such an intense dance number (did I also mention I tore my plantar fascia during a rehearsal, and did a 5k and danced through the whole run anyway? I might be a little stubborn.)

(Then we had intermission, which is when I put all my costumes away and took a breather. And luckily I was onstage a lot less in act 2.)

Seventh: Veronica the slutty secretary. A couple of us gave our office worker characters names, and I was given Veronica. And I got to do the Starbucks line in the song, which was fun.

Eighth: travel agent. I wore a black and white pinstriped skirt (which was totally *not* my old gangster costume skirt, of course not) and a royal blue blazer. This was another bit where I was onstage with a new costume for only a few minutes.

(And I don’t have a photo because I literally wore it for 30 seconds.)

Ninth: wedding guest. I brought back the pink rainbow tulle skirt! This time I wore it with a separate top made from Butterick 5695, which is the same pattern I used for Julia’s wedding dress in the first production I costumed. Comment below if you’d like to see an in depth post about my crazy rainbow skirt!

Phew! Nine costume changes, just for me!

Performing wise, I love this show. I love it so much. It’s high energy from start to finish, the characters are lovable, it’s hilarious, and the audience always has a positive reaction. And every ensemble track keeps you busy. I haven’t danced this much in a show in a very long time, and I loved it.

Will I ever costume this show again? Absolutely not. Twice is more than enough. Will I audition for it again? Absolutely! Now that I’ve done an ensemble track I don’t know if I’ll do that again, but I’ll definitely audition for Holly or Julia and see how it goes.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

No one ever does Edwin Drood. No one. So this was amazing, because not only was this theater finally doing Drood, but the director was super passionate about it, which made it even better.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is based on Charles Dickens’ last novel, so it truly is a mystery- he died before he completed the book and left no outline or notes, so no one truly knows who he planned to reveal as the murderer. So the musical opens as an immersive play-within-a-play, with all the actors running around the “Music Hall Royale” in preparation for their first production of Drood. The actors are introduced as their various characters, and the musical continues with plenty of winking and nodding and fourth wall breaking. And then, of course, we reach the point in Act 2 when Charles Dickens died and the whole show comes to a screeching halt. The entire fourth wall is gone, and the audience votes on their choice of detective, murderer, and a pair of lovers. The whole second act and finale of the show changes based on who the audience selects- so everyone has to be ready at a moment’s notice to follow the changes, not to mention the crazy amount of audience interaction.

I was cast as Florence, the “head chorine” of the Music Hall Royale. The director gave us a really challenging audition that involved a difficult cold read and improvisation, all with a British accent, and he told me he was really impressed with my audition and gave me a lot of material to do with the show. We started the show at house open with all of us interacting and improvising with the audience, and he had me as the first one to come out. He also put together a little bit together for me and the Music Hall stage manager to do for the intermission; the theater does a 50-50 style raffle so I got to be the one to draw the number and give the money to the winner.

And within the show I had lots to do to do. I was constantly dancing and running back and forth, and this was a very vocally challenging show too. There’s bits of strong character vocals, and also some very pure legit stuff. I got to sing part of the Moonfall Quartet, which is absolutely gorgeous but really difficult!


And I even sang a G5 at the end of “British Subject,” the only soprano who sang that note.

And did I mention I did it all in a corset? We even rehearsed in corsets. Luckily, I did Charley’s Aunt just a month or two before the rehearsal process started for Drood, so I was used to it, but high kicking in an aisle is quite another situation!

I even got to wear my Charley’s Aunt costume again! I had my beautiful pink ballgown again, and I made a little bustle skirt to wear over my white muslin afternoon dress. I’m glad those pieces got some more wear.

All in all, Drood is an absolutely amazing show and I really recommend auditioning for it or going to see it if the (rare) chance arrives. It’s a great stretch of skills for an actor and a really enjoyable and interactive experience for an audience member!

Life and Health Update

It’s been a hot minute! I took a little bit of a break after a new development in my health journey, and now that I’m feeling a little more prepared I’m ready to start blogging again.

A lot has happened in the past few months. My birthday was in February, I ran the Disney Princess 10k, and I trained for a new role at work as a Yes Faciltator in the Magic Kingdom. I also was cast in the ensemble of a production of The Wedding Singer, and I’m also costuming it! I’m assisting with the costumes for a production of Little Shop of Horrors as well, but that’s not quite the beast that Wedding Singer is. I have some auditions lined up for the summer and fall as well that I’m excited about. And I’m working on a book for Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time (I have a completed outline ready to go!)

The biggest change, though, happened after my yearly physical. Disney has an amazing health services deparment on property for cast members, and I have a fantastic GP over there. My physical was absolutely normal, but my doctor asked if I had any questions, and I (very anxiously) asked if we could check my thyroid levels. She asked why, and I spilled out a whole list of symptoms that I’ve been experiencing. I never want to be That Guy who comes in with a self diagnosis from WebMD, but at the same time I was experiencing almost everything on the symptom list. Luckily, my doctor is wonderful and immediately agreed to check my thyroid levels.

I got a call three days later saying that not only do I have hypothyroidism, but I also have Hashimoto’s disease, and there was already a prescription waiting for me to pick up that afternoon, and that I needed to make an appointment for follow up bloodwork in eight weeks.

Well. That was a lot to happen at once.

To rewind a little bit, I was experiencing a lot of things that I assumed just came with getting older- tired all the time, muscle and joint pain, weight gain for no real reason. About six months ago, though, I started watching Kathryn Morgan’s videos on YouTube. She’s an amazing dancer and has a fantastic channel, but one of the first things I noticed was that her hair texture was really similar to mine, and I haven’t really seen that before. (If you watch my Evil Dead vlog, you can see how thin my hair is; it’s been falling out in handfuls over time.) Scrolling through her videos she had several about her illness- she has hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease. She’s very upfront and well-spoken, and that’s when I started wondering if that could be what was going on with me. I started doing more research, and thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask about it. I told my mom about it while I was waiting for the results, and it turns out that thyroid problems are an issue for several relatives on that side of the family.

So that’s been quite a change. I’ve started my hormone replacement therapy, and while I have seen some positive changes, I’m looking forward to the results of my next bloodwork to see what the doctor wants me to try next. I’m also trying to make some major dietary changes, namely cutting out gluten and dairy. I’m hoping that, now that I have the correct diagnosis, my health will improve and I’ll start losing weight!

Do you deal with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease? What advice do you have?

My Debut in the Orlando Fringe Festival

I had been hoping for a chance to perform in the Orlando Fringe Festival- definitely a bucket list kind of performance! A lot of cities have a Fringe Festival; basically groups will perform brand new, usually off-the-wall shows in a myriad of designated locations throughout the city. I actually was invited to a part of the Fringe Festival in the spring of 2017, but I had to turn them down. I was in a wedding as a bridesmaid for the entirety of the second weekend, and that’s…you know, ever so slightly important.

In February of 2017, I performed in a premiere of a short play called Welcome to Intercourse. It’s a super cute play and I loved the role I played so much. Well, the author of the play wrote three more short plays and packaged them together as a show called Quickies, and she wanted me to come back to play Peggy again, as well as two other roles. But I couldn’t. I was so upset! I loved the role, but ultimately I wouldn’t be able to do it and I had to turn it down.

Flash forward to this past summer! I got an email from a director I’d worked with previously; Quickies was possibly going to the winter mini Fringe festival, and the actress who originally played the roles couldn’t make it. Would I be interested?

WAS I EVER!

The show was confirmed in late October and we rolled into rehearsals shortly afterward. It was a short rehearsal period, but the four plays are about 10-15 minutes long each, divided amongst the four actors, so all in all it wasn’t too terrible to balance. It was just a lot of practicing lines in the car as I drove to and from rehearsals.

The show only ran for two performances, but we had fantastic audiences and great feedback. It was a new theater for me, and it was fun playing on a new stage. And I loved revisiting Peggy, who’s one of my favorite roles to play. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on my performances and it just makes me pleased as punch.

I wasn’t actually in the first of the four short plays. It was a two person retelling of Scheherazade and the Sultan; it was funny and sassy and I loved watching it from backstage. Of course, backstage was about 3′ by 4′ (and that’s generous) and there were three of us back there, so it was a little uncomfortable.

The second plays was called Meet the Pets. A guy brings a girl (me) home after a date so she can meet his pets. So we had a snooty cat (a guy in a tuxedo and a British accent) and a lovable dog (a girl in flannel and corduroys). It was super funny, and while my character started off as a manic pixie dream girl, she ended up being really smart and self-assured. So it was fun playing both sides of the spectrum.

dress: Forever 21
denim jacket: …I’ll have to check?
floral leggings: No Boundaries
boots: Blowfish
hat: Target
purse: Betsey Johnson
glasses: Eye Buy Direct (Moody frames)

The second show was called Buried. It’s short and bittersweet. I played a girl named Grace who runs into her ex-boyfriend in the middle of a graveyard, and you start to put the pieces that it’s a metaphor for her mind, and she’s trying to bury the memories of him, and she can’t…and then BAM guess what it’s real and she killed him and she’s talking to his ghost. It’s one of the trickiest roles I’ve ever played even though it was only about ten minutes long. Grace is both lighthearted and deeply hurt, so there was a lot of balancing. Plus I had to drag around a shovel.

dress: Forever 21
headband: Goody’s
shoes: Keds

The final short play was my favorite, Welcome to Intercourse. I played Peggy, an accountant who just got jilted by her fiance. Her best friend Eva decides they should go on a road trip, and of course their car breaks down outside of Intercourse, Pennsylvania. And who comes to rescue them but a pair of Amish boys! Peggy and Josiah have a deeply touching conversation onstage, but offstage Eva and Ezekiel fix the car, and of course it sounds extremely suggestive. It was a great little play full of innuendoes, and the girl who played Eva is a dream and it was literally so fun to play opposite her.

dress: Modcloth (Blueberry Lemonade dress)
jacket: I’ll check…
shoes: Payless
glasses: Eye Buy Direct (Sophie frames in pink)

I had such an amazing time doing this show. It was such a quick run (haha, get it, Quickies, I’m hilarious) but it was so fun to do. I don’t know if I’ll get to be a part of it again, but hopefully I’ll get to work with this team again in the future!