Avenue Q Musical Musings

Hello lovely readers!

For the past week I’ve been learning the music for my latest show, Avenue Q. I haven’t performed in a musical in two years, so I’m thrilled to be singing again. The music rehearsals have been a blast so far, but the music is slightly more challenging than I would have expected. Since Avenue Q is a silly show filled with catchy songs, I assumed the music would be a breeze. (I mean, my character is a puppet for goodness sake!) But despite the ridiculous laugh-out-loud funny lyrics, I found that I’ll really need to work hard to make sure I sing everything perfectly.

Here’s a particularly funny section of music from the song There Is Life Outside Your Apartment:

“There is life outside your apartment!

Oh, you never know what’s around the bend

You could step in dog $#!* or make a friend!”

You’d never know it just from reading the lyrics, but we’re actually singing in four-part harmony there. I’m really enjoying learning the music for this show because the songs are so catchy, plus I get to sing in a puppet voice which is really fun. I’ve been drinking a TON of tea with honey this past week to try and preserve my voice. Singing in a puppet voice can really take a toll on your vocal cords.

This week we were given our “rehearsal puppets” to start practicing with. The rehearsal puppets have the same feel and weight as puppets we will use for the performances, but they are for rehearsal purposes only and do not leave the theatre.

Bad Idea Bears Rehearsal Puppets

Bad Idea Bears Rehearsal Puppets

I loved practicing with my rehearsal puppet, but my hand was very sore by the end of practice. I definitely need to build up my strength before opening night!

Do you have any questions about the rehearsal process for a musical or about working with puppets? I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have! Feel free to leave a comment below.

Announcing my next show…

After a magical, yet exhausting, summer directing a children’s production of Beauty and the Beast, Jr., I decided to go in a completely different direction for my next show.

See if you can guess the next show I’ll be in.

Here are a few hints:

  • This show won three Tony awards in 2003 including Best Musical
  • This show was written by the composer of The Book of Mormon
  • This show features both actors and puppets

If you’re still stumped, I’ll come right out with it… Drum Roll Please

So, without further ado, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be playing Bad Ideas Bear in the upcoming Haddonfield Plays and Players production of Avenue Q!

This musical is essentially a raunchy Sesame Street for adults. You’ll definitely want to leave the kids at home for this one; it’s R-rated for indecent language and puppet nudity (I’m not kidding). Unlike Beauty and the Beast, I’m one of the youngest in this production. Our first rehearsal was last night and by the end of the evening my sides were sore from laughing so much.

Bad Idea Bears

For the past few weeks I’ve been attending Puppet Boot Camp to prepare for this show. Not only did I build my own puppet out of felt, foam and hot glue, but also I learned how to talk, walk, sing and act with a puppet! I have a new-found appreciation for puppeteers and the craft as a whole. Our first music rehearsal is tomorrow and I cannot wait to start learning the songs. This show is going to be a blast!

Theatre Camp – Week 1

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This week I started my job at a local theatre camp! It’s my second year working at the camp and I’m so happy to be back. I am one of the three senior counselors in charge of 51 kids ages 5-14. This year the campers will be putting on Willy Wonka, Jr. and Beauty and the Beast, Jr. I’m excited to be co-directing Beauty and the Beast with another senior counselor. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie and I’ve always wanted to work on this production!

Monday was the first day of camp and we started off by having the kids do some ice-breakers to learn each other’s names. After that we taught the kids stage directions with a game of Simon Says. By the end of the day all the kids knew the differences between Stage Right, Stage Left, Center Stage, On Stage, Off Stage, Up Stage and Down Stage. Afterwards we listened to the music from each show and selected the music that they’d need to know for their auditions. Girls auditioning for Belle need to sing Something There starting at “New and a bit alarming…” The boys could choose between a section of the song Gaston or the Beast’s part in Something There. Girls auditioning for any part could sing the selection from Gaston.

On Tuesday we had the kids do some scene work. We split them into groups and had the counselors assign them different scenes to read. I was blown away by my group! They were all excellent readers and took direction very well. In the afternoon we started our audition process. We called the kids into the hallway one-by-one to sing the song of their choice. After they sang we had them do cold readings from the scripts. We didn’t get through all the auditions on Tuesday so we had to finish on Wednesday. Our choreographer taught the kids a short dance routine to Be Our Guest while the senior counselors conducted the auditions.

Auditioning and casting 51 kids was way more difficult that I ever could have imagined. The kids are immensely talented, but it is tough to figure out what parts they can handle. The cast list wasn’t sent out until around midnight on Wednesday because it took so long to finalize!

I’m really excited to start blocking the show next week! On Thursday (July 4th) we didn’t have camp, so I spent the day brainstorming how I want to block Beauty and the Beast. I’m most looking forward to blocking the Prologue. Even though I’m not a dancer, I want it to be like a ballet with very exaggerated movements. Our Enchantress is an excellent dancer and I definitely want to take advantage of that.

On Friday our camp took a trip to New York to see Matilda on Broadway and to do a workshop with one of the members of the cast. The kids learned Miracle, the opening number of Matilda, and were taught a short dance routine to go with it. Some of our kids are such great dancers! For lunch we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and then we saw the 2:00 performance of Matilda. The show was excellent, but I think I liked the London cast slightly better.

Friday was a looooong day, but we had a great time. I’m really looking forward to start working with the kids next week so we can make such a magical show come to life!

A Lovely Night: Cinderella in Review

On Sunday I hopped on a bus to New York City to see Cinderella on Broadway starring Laura Osnes as the title character. The show is nominated for 11 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical and Best Costume Design of a Musical.

I grew up watching the Disney cartoon, the 1997 version starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, the 1965 made-for-tv version and the non-musical movie adaptation Ever After starring Drew Barrymore. I guess you could call me a Cinderella enthusiast. Most recently, while browsing YouTube, I discovered the original 1957 version starring the incomparable Julie Andrews. Although there is nothing quite like the multicultural cast of the ’90s version, Julie Andrews stole my heart making the original my absolute favorite. As a life-long lover of fairy tales, I’ve also read several versions of the Cinderella story, some dating back to over 300 years. When I started taking voice lessons at 9-years-old, I sang “In My Own Little Corner” at my first voice recital. As you might imagine, I’ve been waiting my whole life for Cinderella to come to Broadway, so finally seeing the show was a dream come true.

I had listened to the Broadway soundtrack, which included several new songs, and had seen photos of the costumes prior to seeing the show, but for the most part I refrained from watching clips of the show on YouTube. (The one exception was watching Laura Osnes’s Princess Diary on Broadway.com!) I wanted to be prepared for the show without spoiling the magic. I will get to my critique of the music and costumes, but first let’s go over the plot.

It’s the traditional Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella story with some added (yet unnecessary) subplot. One of the wicked stepsisters has a non-royal love interest, who just so happens to be a revolutionary. I believe this was an attempt to give the simple fairytale some political substance, but I think it was poorly developed and just added a lot of exposition in Act I. The pint-sized, tiara-clad critic sitting behind me announced to her “Me-Maw” early on that she “didn’t like this” and wanted “to wait outside.” Ouch. I wouldn’t say the added sections were that bad, but I guess the kid just wanted to get straight to the magic. It should be noted that for as chatty as this little girl was during Act I, she was practically silent during Act II.

I could drone on and on about the changes, but I don’t want to give anything away for those of you who still want to see the show. Instead I’ll move on to the most beautiful part: the costumes.

They were spectacular and the onstage changes were magical. Thanks to some plot changes, not only did we get to see Cinderella’s rags transform into a ballgown, but we also saw her change into a banquet dress in Act II. (Yes, two dresses for the price of one!) This second gown was reminiscent to Belle’s gold dress in Beauty and the Beast. (It also didn’t help that Cinderella was lugging around a giant book the entire time she was wearing it.) But the glass slippers were TO DIE FOR so who was looking at the dress, anyway? Speaking of the glass slippers, this Cinderella was no damsel in distress. Instead of losing a shoe, she actually handed it to her Prince Charming.

When Cinderella and Prince Topher (short for Christopher) sang “Do I Love You Because You’re Wonderful?” I was moved to tears. Pure magic. As for the “new” songs, they were nice, but when stuck between the familiar tunes, they paled in comparison. The dancing was lovely — filled with spins, high-kicks and lifts.

Overall, I’d say Cinderella is “A Lovely Night” on Broadway. “Glass slippers are so back.”