After the Last Bow

Yesterday we closed our production of Clue. I am exhausted, sore, and my throat is screaming… and yet I still find myself wishing I was in the dressing room as I type this.

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Even if your body is relieved about the break, your heart yearns for the preshow adrenaline rush, the backstage laughs and hugs, and that tingly feeling you get when you hear the cue line for your first entrance.

When you take your last bow, and as you head to the lobby to greet the audience for the last time, you see your castmates around you and realize that you’re about to go from seeing them for hours everyday to waiting around until you get to perform with them again. Even if you still get to see all your castmates everyday, say if you’re a part of a high school theatre group, it isn’t the same. Not to mention, saying goodbye to castmates that have become like family isn’t the only thing hard to say goodbye to.

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Saying goodbye to a show, a character you’ve become is hard too. For the duration of the show, you learn to give up yourself in order to transform into another person. When a show ends, it’s like a shock to the system when you’re back to being just, you. For most shows, you’ll never be in that show, playing that same role again. And even if you do get to replay a role, it won’t be at the same point in your life, with the same people, on the same stage– the whole dynamic will be different. This doesn’t mean that it won’t be as good, it just won’t be the same.

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After a show closes, your heart will hurt, your body will thank you, and soon you’ll start the process over again.

So tonight, this is Mrs. Peacock signing off.

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Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

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Tips for Memorizing a Script on a Time Crunch

Not all rehearsal processes are created equal… I  have been in shows that have a three and a half month rehearsal process and I have been in shows with a two and a half week rehearsal process. Needless to say, those two time frames offer very different options for learning your lines. As I procrastinate learning my lines for my current show a little further, I’ll share with you the tip and tricks I’ve used for past shows, and the ones I should probably use today…

  1. Read through the whole script when you get it… don’t just skim for the parts with your lines– This is important because it provides the entire context of the show. Some of your lines won’t make sense to you without knowing things that happen in scenes you aren’t in. Something that happens in a scene you aren’t a part of could have a big impact on your character later so it’s important that you understand the full context. Not only will your lines make more sense to you, but it will give you connections, which make them harder to forget.
  2. Always say the lines in your character voice– It will make a difference when you get off book if you’re suddenly changing how your saying them. I guarantee it will be harder to remember them if you have to focus on how your saying them, rather than having them memorized in the character voice.
  3. If lengthy monologues are kicking your butt– Read it through, out loud, read off the first sentence, say it without looking, then add a sentence or phrase and read through it again, repeating until you’ve said the whole thing, write it out while looking at it, write as much of it as you can without looking, recite as much as you can without looking, and repeat until it’s memorized!
  4. Write out all your lines and cue lines on notecards (yes, all of them.)– Write the cue on one side and your line on the back. Not only is the final product helpful to flip through when studying your lines (and it gives you a way to see your cue line without your line easily visible under it) but the actual act of writing out the lines will be helpful to learning it.
  5. Watch clips and videos (and the movie version if there is one.)– hearing other people say the lines and seeing different variations on how the character is played has always helped me learn my lines and make character decisions.
  6. Carry your script with you EVERYWHERE– If you have a spare moment at anytime, you should be pulling out your script to look over a scene or two. Always be looking for a quick break to look over your script.
  7. Look at it first and last– Make it the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you look at before you go to bed at night. This makes it prominent in your mind, as you’re more likely to be thinking about it throughout the day.

Happy line learning!

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

 

 

 

Having to Drop Out of a Show

Recently, I dealt with something I never considered having to deal with… I had to withdraw from a show. I never thought I’d be in a place where I’d be offered two great roles during essentially the same production time frame. I live in a small town, and when I was younger we were lucky to have the one, low budget children’s theatre that you had to pay to be a part of. I was involved with that group from the age of 5 or 6 until about 5th grade. Those were the only shows available to me until high school, where I performed in one musical each spring. Again, I had just one show a year to look forward to.

The summer after I graduated I was lucky enough to find a community theatre group with a summer teen show about 20 minutes from my hometown. I performed with them again this summer as well. My first year of college offered me two shows, one in the fall and one in the spring, both of which I had an absolute blast in. I also managed to student direct my first show during the time in between those two. Needless to say, I quickly went from one show a year to maybe a week or two between shows… sometimes less. It was quite an adjustment, but totally worth it! Looking back to a couple years ago, it’s crazy to me that I used to wait a whole year between shows, I much prefer a packed schedule that allows me to perform so much more.

Currently, I am in Clue as Mrs. Peacock. We were cast just under a month ago and as I write this, rehearsals start tomorrow! I was also recently offered a role in a dinner theatre show called Funeral for a Gangster with a theatre company that is starting up in my hometown. I’m so excited by the thought of finally having a community theatre up and running in my hometown again. I’ve wanted this for years and I love that so many people will now have a chance to experience live theatre again. Unfortunately, the dinner theatre runs during the rehearsal process for Clue, and since they are both such short projects, there was just no way for me to swing both.

Thankfully, Funeral for a Gangster, while with my hometown’s theatre company, is not actually taking place in my hometown. I am hoping that, once they get the theater opened back up, I will be able to perform in the first event to take place in our reopened theater.

I am so grateful to be in a place in my life where being offered a role can be a problem. Performing is the thing I love most so it is a comfort to know, that there is no shortage of shows I can be a part of. The only hard part is having to make decisions between shows.

I am extremely excited for Clue, and while I can’t be a part of Funeral for a Gangster, I’m so excited that it is bringing us one step closer to bringing my hometown theater back to life. I wish the absolute best for the cast of that production and I’m hopeful about working with them more in the future!

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

 

The Magic Flute: My First Opera Experience

I have always wanted to see an opera. Recently, I checked that experience off my theatrical bucket list. I was able to see The Magic Flute. I am so grateful for such an amazing first experience of seeing an opera, I’m now convinced that someday I just have to be in one!

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I was lucky enough to know someone in the chorus, so I was able to attend student night, which was actually their last rehearsal before they opened the show to the public. It was an incredible production, the cast was full of talent and stellar comedic timing.

If you’re unsure if operas are for you, this production would be a great way to test the waters and see if you might actually love them! It’s a great comedy and the costuming and wigs were to die for! Plus, the music… absolutely gorgeous (and the orchestra was just as brilliant as the actors).

I urge you, see shows you are unsure about, I went in expecting to love it, but I know many people are wary about operas. The more shows you see, the more elements of theatre you will discover you love. Every show and every production offers something new to learn and experience.

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

Junie B. Jones Children’s Theatre

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve made a post. It seems like there was a lull of theatre related content in my life and all of the sudden so much has happened. I currently have four drafts of posts to write, here’s my first post in what will likely be a rapid fire sequence of posts.

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Recently I grabbed a friend and headed to a children’s theatre production of the stage adaptation of Junie B. Jones. Many people around my age grew up reading these books, so for us, it was a trip down memory lane and a chance to support some of my favorite little performers.

 

The show was super cute and featured some very talented young performers. If you’re a fan of theatre I highly encourage you to support your local school and community theatres… Yes, they may be less impressive and lower budget productions than professional tours of shows, but every professional actor catches the acting bug somewhere smaller. And you never know, you may come out with a new perspective on community theatre. Many small theatres have extremely talented performers, all of whom are undeniably dedicated to their craft, after all they’re clearly not doing it for a paycheck; they’re doing it because it’s what they love.

Another great thing about community theatre is that often, more risks are taken in regards to how something is performed. Community theatre groups aren’t as bound to the type of performance that is expected of professional theatre companies. They are more likely to adapt a production to fit their group, whether that means gender bending a role, performing a certain number in a different key than what it typically is, breaking the standard mold of what a character is ‘supposed’ to look like, changing the general style/vibe of a show, or really anything else… the sky is the limit. Sometimes community theatre groups change things because they have a unique vision, and sometimes they have to, they may not have enough of a budget to do things the way they were initially intended, they might not have the right actor for it, or an unending number of other complications.

The point is, get out and see productions in communities around you, after all supporting the arts starts with you. See anything and everything you can, musicals, straight plays, operas, children’s shows, teen shows, adult shows, and everything in-between. Each production you see will give you another reason to fall in love with live performance all over again.

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

 

Clue!

Part of the wait is finally over! I recently found out that my next audition will be for the play adaptation of Clue. I’m very excited to take on this comedy where the audience will be able to vote on the ending each night. As of now I plan to be auditioning for Mrs. White and Mrs. Peacock. The next two weeks will consist of lots of audition prep and playing around with voices for all of the characters I could potentially be reading for. I’ll pick back up on this post either after auditions or when the cast list is posted!

Day one of auditions I dressed for Mrs. White– all black, very seductive, black widow type.

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As I write this portion of the post it is the second day of auditions. I had what I felt was a very good audition last night and I’ll be going in again tonight for another stab at it. There was a surprisingly large group that auditioned yesterday and I’m excited to see how many people show up tonight! Tonight I am dressed for my other top choice, Mrs. Peacock. Very opposite of Mrs. White, think a batty, church going senator’s wife. Next time I check back in, and probably wrap this post up will be whenever the cast list get posted! See you in the next paragraph, haha.

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I’m back and the list has been posted! I’ll be portraying Mrs. Peacock!! Based on what I saw at auditions and the people I’ve worked with before, this is a ridiculously talented cast and I can’t wait to get started! Rehearsals begin October 16th but we should have our scripts within the week. Good thing since we are supposed to be off book by the 22nd! These next few weeks will probably be a whirlwind of religiously watching the movie, the play on YouTube, and never letting my script out of my sight!

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

I Have a Theory…

I have a theory… theatre produces teachers. I have had this theory for quite some time and the more shows I see and work on, the more teachers I see onstage and listed in the playbill. I don’t think this is coincidental; in fact, it makes perfect sense to me.

In the most recent show I’ve seen (which was Sophie’s Light, as you may know if you’ve read my last post) I grabbed the playbill to count out for you how many teachers were in that show specifically. After reading the bios of 17 performers, I found that 5 were teachers or retired teachers, 1 was a principal, 1 was a coach, and 1 was a high school director. I should also note that 6 did not have a career listed, so it’s possible there were even more involved in schools. Even without the potential additional teachers, that means that about 30% of this cast were/are teachers and about 47% are professionally involved with schools in some way.

On a personal level, I’ve been involved with theatre since I was about 6 years old, and I am currently heading into my sophomore year of college in, you guessed it, the education program. Not only that but I’ve worked on shows with countless other teens who have already decided that teaching is where their heart lies. I’ve noticed that teaching always seems to outweigh any other profession in the bios of community theatre performers and I think that as I make the transition into working with adult companies that I will connect with many other teachers and soon-to-be teachers through the shows I do.

Why did I say that this makes perfect sense? Well, think about it; what are some of the skills or qualities every good teacher has? Great teachers are empathetic. The best performers truly feel the situations their characters are in; that allows them to give the most honest performance possible and is often why audience members are able to feel such a connection to those characters. Great teachers are creative. Performers by nature are artists, they construct people and worlds out of nothing. Great teachers are adaptable, they are able to tailor their lessons to work for all different kinds of students and change their entire plan when something puts off their lesson or they finish early. Performers have to be adaptable, they must constantly be evolving the way they portray a character to fit who they feel the character is and what the director wants from them. They also have to be able to improv well when things go wrong mid show. Great teachers are passionate. What artist is not passionate? Performers give their entire selves over to a character when they have been cast in a show, for the run of the production they lose themselves in becoming someone else. Beyond that performers and teachers alike often give of their own time and supplies to enhance their show or classroom. I can’t tell you how many performers I’ve seen, myself included, give up an afternoon to work on a set or run out to buy a costume piece or some makeup whether it be for themselves or a castmate. And, almost every teacher I have ever met has used their own money to provide items for their classroom. Great teachers are caring, they spend their days enhancing their students minds and getting to know their personalities. They go home with those kids on their hearts, hoping each one is fed, warm, loved, and reminded just how special they are. Performers are almost always willing to help out their castmates, whether that means bringing someone with a sore throat some tea and honey, staying late to run lines, or being a shoulder to cry on after a particularly stressful tech rehearsal.

For these and many other reasons, being a performer and a teacher seems like a match made in heaven. If you are a teacher/performer and you agree with me (or if you don’t) please share your experience with me in the comments!!

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Break a leg,
-Brandi

find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com