30 April, 2011

Det. Alexandra Eames' advice to Alexandra Silber

go on... have a cookie...because you are tall...
[At rise: me on the set of Law & Order: Criminal Intent sitting across from Kathryn Erbe who plays Detective Alexandra Eames. It has been a long day. And now there are freshly baked chocolate chip cookies sitting at the food table and the odo(u)r is wafting our way...]

Kathryn Erbe: Cookies! [she turns around with glee] Are you gonna have a cookie?
Me: They have cookies again? [They had cookies yesterday-- is this heaven?!]
KE: They have them every day. And they are hot. And delicious.
Me: I missed them yesterday...
KE: Well, then you should have one today!
Me: I dunno... [I am thinking of myself in these ill-fitting jeans for all the world to see... in HD...]
KE: ["Cookies are serious business" voice] You should have a cookie. You are young.... [she is deadpan] and tall...
Me: ...Okay...
KE: Please. For me.
Me: I promise.
KE: Thank you.

Cookie consumed.

28 April, 2011

What goes around comes around...

... indeed. There are many nebulous themes in Hello Again, but if we glean anything at all, that one is certain. And like everything, al things must end, it only means new beginnings, and indeed, the ephemeral nature of the theatre is what in fact provides it's poignancy... Farewell Hello Again. Thank you to everyone who made the experience of my New York debut possible. Life-long friendships were established. The overcoming of challenging personal and artistic obstacles. We sang in our underwear. We did ..."other things..." On tables and things. We got nominated for awards. For a lot of awards. We won some of those awards. (And heck, I even got my Equity card...a touch on the tardy side mind you, but I got it...)

So farewell lovely group. "I'm sure we'll be saying hello again..."

Let us just finish with a quote from the wonderful creative mastermind, Michael John LaChiusa himself:

"This cast of Hello Again is one of the most remarkable ensembles I've ever seen onstage-- and I've had the privilege of assembling some pretty remarkable casts over the years for my shows, including the original production of Hello Again...
"Over and over again, for the last month, people have been writing to me and repeating the same thing 'this restored my faith in theatre-going.' It's sort of cliché, of course, as a sentiment and the compliment. But I sense something more: there's a hunger out there for what TG provides with Hello Again. There's a sadness in knowing that people are hungry, of course-- but also a great joy in being responsible for providing a little nourishment in the desert. You've done just that..."

16 April, 2011

I stole Rebecca Luker's toothpaste...

Rebecca Luker: actress, soprano and flouride benefactor extraordinaire...
I did.
I did.
And then I confessed.
And she let me keep it.

[*travel back in time music*]

[At rise: Hello Again post show bustle. The entire show Rebecca and her über incredible husband Danny Burstein have been sitting just beside the central mirror-- starring straight into my freakin' face. I must hasten to add however, that in contrast to the ridiculous line-up from the McNally tribute concert the previous night, this moment seems over-come-able compared to bowing between Edie Falco and Roger Reese, and being in the mere presence of THE Angela Lansbury...but still, this is Rebecca Luker and I have loved her for years and she made me publicly weep when we shared a stage at Lincoln Center in January, and yes, OKAY, I broke The Secret Garden cassette. Fact. Plus this moment might be okay if I didn't have a guilty conscience {see title!}...]

Rebecca: Alexandra? Hi! Do you remember me?

Inner monologue: Do I remember you? Do I remember her?! Um. Well gosh how do I say this? Why yes, yes I do. I can’t believe I was in the same room as, let alone the same concert as, let alone bowed next to-- you— I broke The Secret Garden cassette lady. I broke it. You were the standard of soprano that formulated my entire youth. I listened to you with my friends on my bunk-bed at summer camp. [incredulous scoffing noises] Do I freakin' remember you? Puh-lease. I can’t believe you remember me. And furthermore, just so we're clear, just so everything is out on the table: I stole your toothpaste. That’s right. I viciously stole the toothpaste I asked to borrow just so I could nonchalantly speak to you for a millisecond in the Lincoln Center dressing rooms. I am a thief. A dirty, pathetic, childish, star-struck thief with incredibly clean teeth.

Real dialogue:

Rebecca: [continued, she is sort of staring at me now, willing me to respond] ...from Lincoln Center?
Al: [fake nonchalance. Don't give away your crazy Al!] Yes, Rebecca, of course. So nice to see you…
R: Well done--You were wonderful tonight.

[I think for a moment that I might need respiratory assistance.]

A: Thank you so much.
R: And the piece. The performances. The music! My goodness the music I want to sing every single song in this sh--

[there is a terrible moment here where she stares harder at me and I stare hard back. As if, in doing so, we can both hope, we may will, we can possibly pretend that last little outburst just did not happen. But lest we forget that I am in this story, we know that it cannot end there. We know, all too well, that it is simply in my nature to just make things far, far worse...]

R: ...what?
A: I AM SORRY. I stole it and it wasn't even totally an accident.
R: What are you talking about?
R: Really? [she smiles]
A: And I know I came in and asked for toothpaste and you let me take it but! but! but you said you would come back for it and although you didn’t, [huge sigh] I didn’t exactly remind you. [There. Said it.]
R: [she pauses, eyebrows cocked, considering me] ...Are you being serious?
A: [unfortunately, I am] Yes.
R: Truly?
A: It is in my dressing room right now, let me go get it for you.
R: Darlin’… [she is amused and starts to laugh in the most charming way, the manner of a true lady] you know what? You can just go ahead and keep it. [A lady: see what I am saying?]
A: Really?
R: Yes, seriously.
A: Um… thank you.
R: Gosh. You are so funny [she laughs, it is sweet] and a bit odd.
A: Thank you. And odd, yes, [hands up] guilty!
R: And you were wonderful in the show. I mean your voice...
A: [inner crazy 11-year-old-squeal] Coming from you… that means the world...

It does.
Words cannot describe how much it does.
We hug.
And say goodbye.
And I just brushed my teeth and frankly my teeth now feel as pure as Rebecca Luker's very own crystalline voice, and as clean as my conscience.

07 April, 2011

Ask Al: Secrets of the Self-Employed Part 1

Inspired in part by a list made by illustrator and author Keri Smith, here are the secrets of the self-employed in three parts... because basically everything worth reading is a trilogy. 

1. First, and most crucially: There are no actual rules for how to become a successful [*insert profession here*]. 

You are the trailblazer. You are the South Pole explorer. You are the Conquistador. The Amerigo Vespucci. You are the Lewis & Clark of your path! So blaze that trail. Make your own path. Take heart. Have courage. 

2. Take risks on a regular basis. 

Whether they be small (“today I am going to wear a brighter color and just see what happens”), medium (“today I am going to inch outside my comfort zone by writing to that [insert inspirational artist person here] I've always been meaning to contact") or large ("that thing? that HUGE eff-ing thing I don't wanna face or confront...? Today is the day I confront it..."), take that risk because as I've said before, fortune favors the brave my friends. 

3. The whole point of being “self- employed” is that you are always working for yourself, even when you technically may work for others. 

Okay. Okay, so sometimes it can feel like you are just the hired hand. And okay, admittedly, some people can be really challenging to work with. That is going to happen. But it is important to keep a professional, positive outlook, and to maintain your self-value and self-respect even when the going gets tough. Plus! There is always some way to turn what feels like “just a job” into, at the worst, a valuable learning experience, and at its best something really exciting. Take every opportunity to experiment with new techniques, use every experience as an opportunity to learn about a new topic. 

4. Don’t worry about the grades/marks you received in school. No one will ever ask what those were when you leave. 

No but seriously.

5. Move your body every day. 

Studies suggest that increased oxygen to the brain is a greater source for creativity than “creative brain exercises”. I have certainly found this to be true for myself (after a walk or a run I always feel clearer, inspired, and “juiced up!”) Plus, aside from the many health reasons for this, moving also helps you to work on ideas subconsciously. Ideas and solutions will come in when you least expect them. 

03 April, 2011


"Tom" from Hello Again.

Featuring images of Nikka Lanzarone as The Whore and Bob Stillman as The Husband by Sarah Ackerman and Carol Rosegg from the 2011 Off Broadway Revival of Michael John LaChiusa's Hello Again.


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