27 July, 2011

Ahhh New York: Hitch-hiking

Did I literally hitch-hike to work Sunday because every train was defunct?
Yep I did.
Arrived safely,
made the show (just),
and my super enthusiastic "we WILL get you there" driver's name?
I love life.

26 July, 2011

22 July, 2011

Broadway.com Fresh Face

I did a Fresh Face article for the UK branch of Broadway.com about 5 years ago when I was doing Fiddler on the Roof.

It is nice to know that one's face can remain so very fresh despite travel, distance, age and time.

--Sorry? What is my secret you ask?
I reccomend a sense of humor.
And moisturizing.
Of course.

13 July, 2011

05 July, 2011

Ask Al: Reviewing Reviews

©michelle &ivan hoo
Hi Alexandra,

How do you deal with not so favourable reviews?  

Do you read reviews in general or no?  
How do you not let an individual's opinion affect your art?  

I know, on a personal level, and I know this is the business, it's amazing how quickly one person's individual opinion can completely shake how one feels about their performance and on another level makes them question their work.  I feel that's both the beauty and danger of letting someone see and comment on one's work, it's open to interpretation and criticism and it's an extremely vulnerable place because it is so personal. 
So when someone negatively comments on it (or even comments on something you hadn't seen before) it can affect what was "yours" since the art you make becomes public.

Thanks again,


* * *

Dear Lauren,

First of all, I am so sorry that your feelings were clearly hurt, and possibly your pride a bit wounded. But try to remember that first, this is part of the process too and second, even though those words are out there in the Universe, on the internet and more damagingly, imprinted on your mind, they are simple someone's opinion. Yes, ultimately, that is all they are: one person's opinion

Everyone is different. Some people have a very developed sense of self-worth and esteem that maintains itself resiliently despite any knocks. But I challenge you to find me that person (let alone the artist) who can maintain that outlook all of the time. The truth is, people are sensitive. And actors are sensitive professionally. And I have never discussed reviewing with a reviewer, but the truth is, they are entitled to their opinions and freedom of speech and of the press is their right. Even if it is more than a little glib.

Tyne has an amazing quote about reviewers:

“A critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle themself, yet who afterward comes out shooting the wounded.” 

Now... that is a touch dramatic, but Tyne can pull it off.

Look. Honesty box?  It is personal. 
I would ere on the side of not reading them if you have a sensitive constitution or if you are prone to the influences of others (even a favourable review can make you get a little bit "proud" and less present in your work if you know what I mean...)

But more often than not reviews can make you utterly despondent. And it is understandable because, as you so rightly pointed out, you have put your heart and soul on the line, you have oftentimes bled for the work, opened your heart, exposed your Self.

Either way, there is not harm in reading them long after the run is established or complete, but feel your way with this. Learning how you personally handle reviews and reviewers is part of learning the business too. 

Above all remember this: You are enough. I promise.

04 July, 2011

The Adventures of Sophie and Sharon: Part 5, Sophie & Sharon's Great American Medley

Sophie and Sharon bring you.... [drumroll]


Happy 4th All.
We are aware.
We are aware that it is also our day off...

03 July, 2011


Hey. Reader... wanna know a secret?
[she whispers] I've never been "okay" with birthdays. Never. Not since I was the tiniest littlest creature. A pretty infamous story in my family is, in fact, about my fourth birthday.

See, I really thought three had been great. Just great. It was real swell and I had juuuuust gotten used to it, and, I'm gonna put it out there, I've never had an easy time with the concept of change and well-- birthdays are the ultimate change! As my family rounded the corner, cake in hand, pitch chosen to start singing Happy Birthday, I scream, desperate, tortured:


"Well, okay..." said my mother, and everyone froze and she placed the cake on the table and we all just sort of stood there to take stock. 

Birthday #1
It was as if somehow the singing of the song DID it. It was the turning of the page. Three was all over. Something about the actual singing of the song heralded in the coming year and I was just not having it.


... I have learned from this. I have learned that referring to myself as "almost 28" is a good little "training wheels" tactic. (I have in fact done this since I was nine. No kidding.) I am aware that this is slightly over the top but whatever. we don't want an adult version of the "Don't Sing The Song" scenario to ever happen, especially in public so I'm willing to cope with the "almost [insert age here]" tactic.

The reason I bring this up is because this year I do not seem to feel this way. This year I'm happy for you to sing the song. Sing away!

#3 with Anna Maria Alberghetti
27 has been a sensitive year, one of introspection - a time to read, write, heal, work on my Self, to attempt be receptive to greater guidance, and to spend a great deal of time alone. It was filled with crushing doubt, and often there was great temptation to "quit"-- but I refused. I fought and clawed and grew into new direction and ways of being, and in the end the year was full of victory and long sought after peace, balance and equilibrium.In many ways, 27 felt like it paved the way for the next cycle of my life.

In fact, have you ever heard of this Seven Year Cycle business? It is seriously interesting stuff. Well, here I am about to begin the very final year of my current Seven Year Cycle and I can actually feel it, just like I felt it the last time (when I turned 21), in fact.

Looking back...

[*cue: back in time music...*]

On my 18th I was flown by my best friends Dane and Justin home from Interlochen to Detroit to visit my family. They played Judy Collins in the car.

on 19 - I was working at Interlochen again and the entire cast of Hello Dolly that I was working for did a whole full-on interpretive dance for me, and I got to have the "pudding" section from Matchmaker inserted into the play. I still have those birthday cards, I loved that group of people dearly.

at 20 - I was in Glasgow having just moved from Murano Street to my flat in The Gorbals with Kirsten Smith, and preparing for my Great European Adventure with Lilly (the one in which, on Lilly's 20th only a few weeks later, we would be doused with sleeping gas and robbed on the night train in-between Venice and Nice...).

#21: spent onstage in 12th Night
21 - I was onstage-- having just finished Pericles, about to begin  Twelfth Night at The Arches in Glasgow and director Ros Steen baked me a serious fudge cake. I was happy to spend it onstage, and happy to have it played down.

22 - I was in London and the cast of The Woman in White sang, and I picked up my phone to realize everyone in Scotland called and sang to me too. It felt wonderful. It felt a great deal like this year, actually-- on the brink of my West End debut, transitioning from one life into another. Magic.

23 - was the infamous "I hate surprises" surprise party during The Great Depression of '06. 

and, totally fascinating birthday-blog reflections from the past...

"This has been a strange year. Being 24. Twenty Four. The same number of hours in a day. This has been the first year I have experienced the sensation of AGE and time passing by. ...I suppose I am simply mourning the loss of childhood for good. (And I guess I'm also a little peeved because mine was cut so short by the Dad incident, and one never gets it back...) It's just a long spread of adulthood ahead, filled with unknowns, anti-wrinkle creams and possibilities... I haven't come to terms with any of it..."

"... whatever your ideology, whatever your age, whether you know the shape of a rock or the structure of a universe, the meaning of existence or the specific purpose of an individual life; the axioms remain the same: that it exists and that you know it. Whatever his future, at the dawn of his life, Man seeks a noble vision of his nature and of life's potential. And so do I. Here's to another year."

"Oooooooo! Fantastic. It was the best. The best birthday of my adult life. There was a treasure hunt. And magical coffee. And mexican food. And home-made cupcakes. And many many loving friends."

"27 is a magic number. ... When I started this blog (five years ago, yikes!) I was a slip of a thing. 21-year-old girl really, a student shoehorned into leading lady-dom-- and starting a new life in The Big Smoke and here I am today; Al Silber, citizen of the world. What a five years it has been. What a twenty-seven years it has been..."

So. here it is. 28. Twenty Eight. You know? This year? I'm okay with you singing the song... After all,

Twenty-eight is the sum of the totient function for the first nine integers.

Twenty-eight is a harmonic divisor number, a happy number, a triangular number, a hexagonal number,and a centered nonagonal number.

The average 'female cycle' is 28 days although no link has been established with the night-lighting and the Moon. (And for this moon-maiden, this must have significance!)

In Gematriya (the system of Hebrew Numerology), the number 28 corresponds to the word koakh, meaning "power", "energy".

The number of days in the shortest month of the Gregorian calendar, February (except in leap years, when there are twenty-nine-- incidentally Sophie DePalma's birthday is February 29th...). All twelve months of the Gregorian calendar have at least 28 days, regardless of the year.

The number of dominoes in standard domino sets.

Deriving from the 29.46 year period of Saturn's revolution around the Sun, the 28-year cycle as well as its subdivisions by 14 and 7 are supposed in Astrology to mark significant turning points or sections in the course of a persons development in life. (Thus, the number 28 has special significance in the culture of religious sects such as the Kadiri and the Mevlevi dervishes)

In Major League Baseball, 28 is the lowest uniform number that has not been retired by any club.

And, above all, 28 is the beginning of the final year in a Seven Year Cycle!


My own cycle of 21 to 28, has felt largely like a process of enlargement, of refinement. It was, I suppose, the period of life when I mentally and emotionally entered into true adulthood.  The start of  the foundations of a career, of intimate relationships, of outlooks and personal philosophies. We all deal with more and greater challenges during this time, we move outwards/forwards/upwards with a driving energy that we hope will gain us entry and respect in the larger world.

I know as far as my own life is concerned, I have developed a greater sense of discrimination; my faculties of insight, intuition, judgement and understanding have come to the fore (something I actually think you can see quite clearly in the contributions to this site, don't you think?) I am better at recognizing the needs of those I care for, yet not denying my own (Independence and connection can appear together instead of opposite ends of a spectrum, who knew?!) The sparks of interest that were awakened in my adolescence have been identified and further defined. And my personality has softened, definitely broadened, and yet my discernment has become sharper and keener. I tolerate less for the sake of approval. I am kinder to those who are different than I.

So, here is to long sought after peace. To growing up, and older. To ever present, ever ticking Time-- who reminds us that life is finite, ephemeral, and fleeting, yet that knowledge is what charges each moment with deeper, richer, fuller, meaning.

To time: and all the wisdom and gifts it brings us.

Now, [*she reaches for her pitch pipe*] who will be first to sing the song?

28: and as happy in my metaphoric skin and I am in that dress. Finally, that smile feels like the real thing...

    02 July, 2011

    Ask Al: Revisiting a Role

    Sophie on Broadway
     Dear Al,

    Sophie at The Kennedy Center
    You originated the role of Sophie De Palma for this production at the Kennedy Center, what were some of the challenges you faced with the transfer to Broadway and the recasting the roles of Sharon and Tony?

    *  * *

    To use a term that Tyne coined, "erasing old tapes".

    Carousel "1.0" in London
    Carousel "2.0" in LA
    The most difficult part of returning to a role or production you have done before (and I have actually done it before when we transferred The Sheffield Crucible production of Fiddler on the Roof to the West End in 2007/8, as well as doing a completely different production of Carousel at the Reprise Theatre Company in Los Angeles 6 months after playing Julie Jordan for a year in the West End), is having to treat the new, present situation as just that. Sophie De Palma doesn't know that we did this production at The Kennedy Center; for "her" this, right now, is the only real existence, the only truth. She wants and needs things rightthissecond and cannot be bogged down by the things Al "used to love in DC" or "used to feel when we did this section of text."

    It isn't easy. And frankly, it should not be easy, because one hopes that every choice you make is a part of you, part of your Self, so that redrafting any of the work feels like ripping skin.
    But it is necessary.
    It is part of the ephemeral nature of the theatre.
    There is only now.
    Now is all we have.
    ... I suppose that is a pretty accurate description of life too.

    If you can serve your character's needs, and not your own, you won't ever be bogged down by what "you" used to do-- because for "THEY" have never done this before. And this is not about you. This is about the character's story being told.

    "It's okay Tony!"
    As for recasting Tony & Sharon? I had a wonderful relationship with our previous Tony and Sharon, and I'm happy for them that they are so talented and busy!

    As for Garret and Sierra? They are both incredibly gifted people and we all are in love with each other. The whole cast is. (In fact, Garret, Sierra and I often hang out together in-between shows on two show days and have what we call a "Student Council Meeting." Sophie, I am sure you would be pleased to know, is Student Council President. Tony serves as Treasurer. Sharon is clearly secretary-- she always has a pencil...)

    01 July, 2011

    Ahhh New York

    Al: Excuse me is this seat taken?
    That guy: Yes.
    Al: really?
    That guy: Uh, yes. Clearly this dolphin is sitting here....
    Al: [this person is crazy I will sloooowly back away now] Oh, yes of course... [not so subtly takes photo of crazy dolphin]
     PS) what is it about me and meeting people with giant stuffed toys on public transport?!


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