These are my contributions to the [title of show] blog found here: BLOG.
They span the last few years and include my experiences with [title of show] on and off-Broadway as well as various other shows and random thoughts along the way.
So Heidi challenged me to a blog duel by hitting me across the face with a blog glove (just like they did in ancient times). I have been wanting to participate in the blog, because I am a fan of reading it. However, I was 70% squeamish and 30% computer illiterate so it has taken me a little time, but I couldn’t turn down a challenge, so here we go.
Many people have asked me what it is like understudying in a show like [title of show]. Where everyone involved has been involved for much longer and I am playing real people (and not like Martha Washington real, but real and standing right there next to me). I can’t think of the exact words to explain what it is like, but I did come up with a metaphoric short essay which I think does the trick:
You know when you go to your family reunion and it is just the best day? The macaroni and cheese is extra cheesy and the sun is shining bright and the game of red-rover is really fun and doesn’t hurt when you run through? You are having such a great time and then you look around and realize, wait, this isn’t my family at all. But they have been so welcoming and let me have two helpings of potato salad and the two beautiful and talented “cousins” are so nice and willing to share the family with me.
That’s what it’s like.
Thank you [tossers] for sharing your family with me. I am honored.
I miss freakin’ everything. Remember when John Cameron Mitchell came and Susan’s head exploded in excitement…missed that. Remember when Bernadette came and the girls and the gays got to be in pictures and tell her they love her…missed that.
Note to all fancy people: Please let me know when you are coming.
I was on the subway yesterday and I forgot a book or a crossword puzzle. To occupy my time I decided to stare at people and saw the following:
a young woman, with shopping bags at her feet, reading a book called “Why Men Marry Bitches.”
She hadn’t gotten very far into the book or I would have asked her…. why? why do they, young woman with shopping bags? In the meantime, it can be found on amazon, so if you want to know…read the book…bitches.
Yesterday marked my 5 month anniversary of being part of the [tos] family. It was July 10th when I received a call offering me the stand-by position and July 11th when I sat at the table read for the return to the Vineyard and met the gang for the first time. Fans of [tos], I wish they could auction off sitting at a table read with those four phenomenal performers and the rest of the crew, because that is something I will never forget. Benjamin and I have never been so honored or terrified in our entire lives. Anyway, I was reminiscing and figured I should share since in that 5 month period I have been the biggest blog slacker. Well, we are all good at something and I am good at being bad at blogging. Deal with that.
So I took the Quiz and I am a Susan. Appropriate.
I had to play hooky from my play yesterday and today. I am stricken by the sickness that has attacked all of NYC (due to the fact that global warming is causing winter to be summer and summer to be fucking hot). You know those mucus cartoons on tv? They build a nesting spot in your head and hang up pictures they drew and stuff. Yeah, they are currently hanging a rainbow and sunset all over my head and stealing my voice like that scary octopus lady in the Little Mermaid did to Ariel. I am feeling a little better today, though still voiceless, so I went to the Ziegfeld to see Dreamgirls. It was super crowded and I had to nestle in the back with my tissues and cough drops but it was worth it. The movie was good but more than that, I went alone. I didn’t want to cough all over someone I love so I went all bundled up by myself and ate popcorn and drank soda and coughed all over people I didn’t know…no, I was heavily advil cold and sinused up, so I was only mildly disturbing to others. I have never seen a movie alone before and I have to say I think it is pretty awesome. So the moral of this mucused story is, see a movie by yourself.
I have to plug the [tos] boys’ creation of this year’s [easter bonnet] opening number! Since Susan and Heidi are both away, I am representing as the [tos] female and am singing ohhs and ahhs offstage at the Minskoff Theatre tomorrow and Tuesday. Hunter and Jeff (and Larry) have truly outdone themselves with this original and clever homage to Easter bonnets of yester year, while still maintaining a specific voice that is [title of show].
Anyway, it is a [tos] fan must see!
Friends, I am sorry I missed the BBQ yesterday, but technically I couldn’t eat because I have a horrible toothache and a fever, and what fun is a BBQ if you can’t gnaw fried chicken off the bone? I have been reduced to mild soup, life-saver mints and drinking out of a straw (which I hate). I came online to read the blog today and consequently felt guilt that I hadn’t been a better [tos]ser…but I was pretty grumpy yesterday and had no funness to expel.
Today is a new day, however, and I decided I would share this little story about my time in Oklahoma City, since you don’t really need your teeth to type or to live in Oklahoma City (as it turns out).
I was in OKC for the month of June and wanted to really “experience the city”, which is HUGE, and if you haven’t been, is a few blocks of low-rise buildings, residential areas and lots of chain stores and fast food. I lived in the residential area in a gated apartment complex, and one of my first nights there I decided to take a walk to go get myself dinner. The gate, however, only opened from the inside out by car sensor. This should have been my first clue to not attempt a stroll but I thought, hey, I am a NYer, I don’t need to drive everywhere! I spent about twenty minutes jumping up and down and running over the area with the sensor, trying to open the gate. I was about to give up when a PT Cruiser politely drove through the sensor and opened the gate for me. I walked out behind him and escaped (all the while pondering what good that gate did since I ran through it and in the time it took to close behind me, so could have about 20 armed robbers). I began my walk. About a minute into my journey I realized there were no sidewalks. Didn’t anyone walk in the Great Plains? By halfway to my destination, I was deeply regretting my decision to be a pioneer. This is what Columbus must have felt like when he too was exploring uncharted territory. I didn’t want to give up, so I decided to go to the first place I saw. Sonic. I had heard a lot about Sonic, but where I grew up in Jersey there were none. I arrived there battered and war torn from my brave travel and was so excited to finally eat. I walked up to the door and pulled and to my surprise it was locked. There were people inside and they looked at me bewildered.
“Are you open?” I asked.
“Yes ma’am,” the women replied, “but hon, this is a drive-thru.”
Last night while eating candy and watching The Biggest Loser, I painted my toenails purple. As I sit here today and enjoy the shininess of them, I am thinking about how when I get dressed and wander the streets of NY today, no one will know that my toenails are purple. I have always found that fascinating, even as a little one. I used to wear really funky socks all the time in middle school and high school, but no one ever knew because they were hidden under my shoes and jeans. It just makes you think, people. What funky shit are people hiding under their conservative outer layer.
[tos]sers- so, like Heidi’s affair with The Little Mermaid, I too have been cheating on our little show that could (and WILL- starting July 5th at the Lyceum- get your tickets now) and been dating a big, splashy musical. Mine is called Cry-Baby and it opened last night at the Marriott Marquis. Also, like Heidi, I got injured in my big, splashy musical. So, after creating the role of Hatchet-Face, the ugliest girl on Broadway, I was unable to take part in all of the exciting aspects of opening a musical on Broadway. The good news is, also like Heidi, my injury is much improved and I am almost back to fighting strength. The bad news is: not getting to be up on that stage last night with my cast- rockin’ it 50s style was tough and made tears fall out of my eyeballs. “What did you do to cheer yourself up?”…. you are probably asking….well, my incredible friend Todd organized a game night for me at Hunter and Larry’s pad (at 123 America Street). This evening was complete with good friends, Benjamin-made cupcakes, candy galore and some wine (with a screw-off top…I thought only crappy wine had a screw-off top, but alas, this juice did the trick). It was a perfect “You missed Opening Night on Broadway” night. Later, Heidi texted me and told me she was eating pizza. We were eating pizza too. I think the moral of this blog is: Heidi and I have a lot in common.
There was a little understudy/stand-by drama at the Lyceum this week with Jeffy hurting his ankle, so I thought it might be a good time to shed light on what it is to be a stand-by for [title of show]. The first question we get asked is whether Benjamin and I play Hunter/Jeff/Heidi/Susan, or whether we play Benjamin and Courtney. Good question. We step into the roles as if they are characters and we do not imitate the actors who currently inhabit the roles. I play either Heidi or Susan and I interpret that role my own way. Also, there are no added references to there being an understudy on save for a single exchange between Hunter and Jeff (which I will not disclose…you’ll have to come and find it….like Where’s Waldo). When I performed Heidi at the Vineyard, many people thought her storyline of being a frequent understudy was created for me in the role. For those of you who know the show, you know that is not the case, but it does make for some unexpected laughs from the audience and that is interesting.
Another question we get is whether we are there at the theatre, or can we be 15 minutes away and call in (which is the case for some stand-by set-ups on Broadway). Answer: we are there, bitches. During previews, Benjamin and I sat in the audience with a notepad and pencil every night like little eggberts because things were changing rapidly and we needed to keep up. Since opening we check in with the show and watch sections or the whole thing once in awhile. Since we’ve started understudy rehearsals, I have made the decision to not watch as often, giving myself the distance to make my own choices.
When I am not watching the show, I do one of a few things. There is a basement area directly under the stage. It is marked up exactly like the stage upstairs, with numbers and spike marks. There are days when Benjamin and I are doing ghetto [title of show] directly underneath regular [title of show]. We use folding chairs and there are only 2 of us, so often we are talking to air, but it is helpful to get the movements in our bodies. I think it is funny when I run in as Heidi and can hear real Heidi running directly above my head.
Another thing we do is run lines. This would be interesting to watch because we play all 4 roles. So Benjamin can have stretches of talking with himself while I sit there and vice versa. Weirdness.
Sometimes we stand backstage and watch from the wings. This gives me an idea of what it is like in real time and how the ladies prep to go out there. When they get set, what props they grab and when, and all the little secrets that you don’t think of, but need to know. It is also fun to be there to goof with them while the show is going on. The other day, we took a break from doing ghetto [title of show] in the basement to run up and poke at Hunter and Jeff during “Secondary Characters” (the only time they are offstage in the whole show).
The last and most common thing I do is watch Alias on my mini DVD player and eat snacks. Don’t tell.
So that’s it, folks. A deep look at the inner workings of being a stand-by in [title of show]. It is an amazing job and I am so thrilled to be there. I know Benjamin and I are super excited about getting to play with the gang on stage at some point. We will keep you posted because that will be fun to see!! Meanwhile, tell 9 people.
Today is a special day and I am proud of our country and excited for the change that today represents. It’s like the Superbowl for liberal theatre people! Eat some wings and ENJOY!