2016 Going On 2017

I saw a lot of people post about how horrible 2016 was.  And it was.  For lots of different people for lots of different reasons.  I'm not trying to diminish anyone's feelings for that.

But I do try and start my year fresh and in a good mood (never mind how sick I am as I try to do that), and I like to celebrate the things I've accomplished during the year, so that I don't feel too bad about myself having to start over (again) on all the things I didn't accomplish.

I tell my students a lot (A LOT) that it's okay to go out and have a life and do what you love because theater is always around.  And then I leave the classroom and go beat myself up for a while because I was out having too much fun doing other things.  But you know what?  I deserve to have fun and celebrate and not define myself as only an actor, or only a teaching artist, but also as a friend, and a partner, and a bridesmaid, and a traveler, and so on and so on...

So this blog post is about celebrating the awesome of 2016.  And looking forward to the awesome of 2017.  Hope we can be awesome together in 2017!

Races:

Raleigh, Nashville, San Diego, Las Vegas.  38 to go!

Celebrations:

My grandmother celebrated her 80th birthday!  I celebrated my 10,000 day alive!  I hosted two bridal showers, stood up in two weddings, and finished the year with an awesome celebration of an awesome lady!  I also went to my 10 year high school reunion and Anthony and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary!

Travel:

On top of the states we visited for races, I also went to three National Parks (Cuyahoga, Smoky Mountains and Zion), NYC (twice), Chicago, Indiana, Algonac, and had a staycation in Pittsburgh with my mom :)

Things I Saw That Were Awesome:

Hamilton (twice!!!), Waitress (Jessie Mueller is a goddess), BEYONCE!, Audra McDonald, Alan Cumming, my bestie in the national tour of Ragtime!  (And a lot of other stuff, too)

Things I performed in:

A 24 hour play festival, Don't Dress for Dinner, the Pittsburgh premier of the Confidential Musical Theater Project (Little Women, btw), Judgment at Nuremberg (City Paper has it listed as one of the best ensemble performances in 2016), Unrehearsed Shakespeare Project, Children of Eden, Voces Solis' October concert.

All the things I taught or was taught:

IUP, GPAC, completed Leadership Academy with the Arts Education Collaborative, and complete the first two courses of Estill Voice Training.  I taught for City Theater, Throughline, Camp Broadway, Saltworks, Bricolage, CMNH, joined the PEAL steering committee, attended a lot of honest conversations on the state of racial equity in Pittsburgh's art scenes.

7 Life Lessons I've Learned from Unrehearsed Shakespeare

I've been trying to work out exactly what I've been doing for the past three weeks as I've worked on the Unrehearsed Shakespeare Project with the New Renaissance Theatre Company.  It's hard to put into words because quite frankly, most of the performances are fuzzy messes in my brain.  But I knew I wanted to blog about my experience so this is the most coherent I can be about it for now (a week after we've closed the show).  

1. Sex jokes are always funny.  

And Shakespeare is the king of sex jokes.  

2. You will mess up.  Do so loudly and proudly.

This was/is the most difficult for this type-A actor to swallow.  I like to be super prepared when I walk onstage and I try to be the best scene partner I can be for my colleagues.  USP encourages you to be prepared and be a good scene partner, but when your Shakespeare script is only seven pages long for a two hour show, you're limited in what you actually have control over.  And in fact, messing up is part of the technique, because it happens all. the. time.  And the audience loves it!  And as a teaching artist, I encourage my students to fail on an almost daily basis.  So this experience was a healthy dose of my own medicine.  And it was fun.  In case you didn't know, failure IRL is not always fun and you won't always be cheered when you cry out for help, but exercising your failure muscles certainly does ease the sting. 

3. Don't just sit behind the scenes.  Go out and see what's happening around you.

USP encourages the actors to go out in the audience and watch the show when they have a moment.  Ten minutes between your scenes?  Go watch the show for a while!  I think that the theater world can be intense because we all get caught up in this idea that we have to be busy all the time establishing our careers.  "What are you working on now?  What's next?"  I DON'T KNOW I JUST WANT TO STAY AT HOME WITH MY WINE BOTTLE AND HUSBAND OKAY?  We have to remember it's okay to step back and be a human and be in the actual world instead of just the world of your play (which is glorious and wonderful, but so is the actual world!).  Go see your friend's play.  Go see the new art exhibit.  Travel.  Meet someone new.  These experiences will only enhance your performance the next time you make an entrance.

 

4. Sometimes you just need to have a dance break.

See?  #likeaboss

See?  #likeaboss

5. If you want someone to do something, say so.

If you know me personally, you know I can be "bossy."  If you don't know me personally, I can be "bossy."  Part of this stems from my only-child-syndrome and the other part of this comes from my love of reading feminist articles that tell me to speak up for myself.  The awesome thing?  Shakespeare's characters are bossy, too, and they get it done.  #work.  Oberon wants his changeling boy?  Boom.  Tells Puck what to do.  Quince is directing a play?  Boom.  Tells the mechanicals where and when to rehearse and how to do it.  It's okay to speak up for yourself and it's okay to ask someone to help you.  We should, in fact, be doing more of this.

6. And listen when someone tells you to do something.

When those directions get thrown at you, you do it.  You support your friends and help them out, or else you make them look like a fool (which is, sometimes, a choice).  We all have those moments when we're not fully listening.  I probably say to someone once a week, "I heard you, but I wasn't listening to you."  (Hey, at least I'm honest!).  During USP, I was the best listener ever!  I was waiting for those hints, waiting to be told how to help my scene partner.  Fun fact: People are dropping these hints all the time about how we can help them and if we listen carefully enough, we can support them.

7. Suit the action to the word.  

AKA: practice what you post/preach, walk the talk, do as you say, etc, etc, etc.  This idea has never been more important to our current world, and resounds loudly in my head allllll the time.

 

 

 

 

Thank you so so so so so much to everyone who came out to support this production.  You all are wonderful.  If you missed it, there's going to be an abbreviated performance at Britsburgh on September 10.  In the meantime, go see some awesome theater that is happening in Pittsburgh this summer!!!   

Time to Catch Up!

I'm the worst!  It's been entirely too long since I've done a blog post, and I'm sorry.  I'm sure there were literally thousands of you awaiting my super important words.  (JK I don't really think anyone has been waiting, let alone thousands.)  However, I'm going to mind dump all the things!

Spring has been way crazier than I ever anticipated it being.  

Me: Yay, I'm going to spend my time being productive.

Real Life: Nope, here's a billion things to do!

Me: AHHHHHH!***

***This is how it actually went down.

Now that my month of June has nothing on it (other than tech week and performances), I've had some time to reflect and get thoughts in order.  Here we go:

On being an unrehearsed actor (but, like, in a good way):

Last year's theme for a lot of my performances was being young (thank you gods above!).  I played a nine-year-old in Yo, Vikings!, a 12 year old in 25th Annual...Spelling Bee, and I played a high school student in Games of the Mind.  It was great.  This year, the theme is not rehearsing apparently.

The cast of Little Women. 

The cast of Little Women

In case you were unaware, I did this wild and crazy thing called the Confidential Musical Theater Project.  I played Meg in Little Women, but no one knew that, not the audience and not my fellow actors, who I didn't meet until about an hour before the show, and we performed a full length musical that night for the first time.  I was a nervous wreck for most of the day.  I'm sometimes too Type A for my own good, and this was a major challenge for me.  I did my work, learned my songs and my lines, but everything else was out of my hands.  But you know what?  We did it and it was fun and definitely entertaining.  I'm not sure about the quality of it overall, although all the actors were very good, but things like Beth being a wheelchair comprised of a swivel office chair might've broken the mood a bit.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  It was a healthy exercise for me as an actor, to remind myself how to play and let go and listen and be in the moment.

Sword fighting at the Unrehearsed workshop in May.

Sword fighting at the Unrehearsed workshop in May.

Soooooo it's a good thing I would do it again, because come July, I'm performing with the New Renaissance Theatre Company and their Unrehearsed Shakespeare Project.  Again, I have my lines and learn all my stuff, but I have no idea what everyone else is doing and I have to be on top of my game during the performances to make sure I'm there to support my fellow actors.  We had a two day workshop at the beginning of May which was amazing and so invigorating as an actor.  I've been out of school for a while (cough six whole years cough) and learning a new skill in such a safe and empowering setting was the greatest.  The most awesome thing is, every show is going to be different, which means you should come see ALLLLLL the shows EVERY NIGHT because you'll never see the same cast, which means every show will be fresh and entertaining (and terrifyingly crazy for me, but I'll be sure to be in control of that by the time performances come around).  Check out the website here for information on when and where we'll be performing.

On wrapping up another school year:

It's really crazy for me to think I've been teaching for six years now.  I still, sometimes, feel like I have no clue what I'm really doing.  But that's okay (see the unrehearsed section above).  It's taken a while to find the companies I'm working for now.  When I first started teaching, I feel like I did a lot of glorified babysitting, working with kids who weren't really interested in the arts and were just there because their parents paid money for them to be there.  But now I'm working for City Theater and PICT and Saltworks and it's great!  This year, City Theater chose another one of my student's play to produce in the fall during the Young Playwrights Festival and I'm so proud!  I've completed my third year of teaching with Saltworks!  I'm infusing arts education into the science curriculum at Carnegie Museum of Natural History and working on developing a new show with a new dinosaur!  I've also done a TON of Spinosaurus Encounter shows because everyone knows teachers are looking for different ways to entertain their students at the end of the school year.  I gave a two day workshop on Hamilton and color-blind v. color-conscious casting.  I helped get awesome Festival Guides trained and being awesome for the Cultural Trust's Children's Theater Festival.  I assisted with another Camp Broadway workshop!  I've taken workshops with Bricolage and GPAC to further hone my craft as a teacher and an artist. And now you know why I haven't had time to write a blog.

On being a regular human who does regular human things:

I celebrated my grandmother's 80th birthday!  I celebrated my friend's baby's first birthday!  Anthony and I completed two more half marathons, which means we're 20% of the way to completing our (super crazy) goal.  We went to North Carolina and Nashville, TN.  I saw some shows!  I stood up in my friend's wedding!  My mom and I had a Pittsburgh staycation!  I went to the Mattress Factory for the first time!  I finally finished Mad Men, finished Agent Carter, am caught up on Game of Thrones, watched the new BBC War and Peace.  I SAW BEYONCE!

And since you can't top seeing Beyonce (until August when I will see Hamilton), I leave you with that.

Happy June, everyone!

xoxo

Halfway There Improv

Hello again, friends!  Today I bring you word about a new improv troupe happening in residence at the Lamp Theater in Irwin, PA.  Introducing (cue drum roll):

Halfway There Improv

The new troupe members!

The new troupe members!

You can check them out Friday, February 5 and February 24 at 7:30 at the Lamp Theater!  You can check out the Facebook event page for more information!

A one Mr. Joe Connelly

A one Mr. Joe Connelly

You know that awesome thing you have to do in the theater business world where you create your own opportunities?  A one Mr. Joe Connelly is making it happen for himself and as Joe and I spend entirely too much--I mean, not enough time together, I was able to ask him some questions about his theater experience and his journey to this point.  Check out my interview with him below!

 

 

 

So, what is your theater background?

I started out in high school doing stage crew. When we did Les Miserable my junior year, I realized that I missed out on acting in a beautiful show, an opportunity that doesn’t come along that easily. So I decided my senior year I would audition for the spring musical. I got Uncle Henry in Wizard of Oz and had a blast. I decided then that I liked being onstage rather than behind it and went to Bowling Green State University for acting (the story behind that whole decision is a story for another time). After college I came back to Pittsburgh and have been acting regularly since then.

Well, I know for sure I enjoy watching you act.  Your comedy chops are great.  (Full disclosure: Joe and I actually met doing Love's Labour's Lost at Poor Yorick's Players THEN we did Yo, Vikings! at Stage 62 together.  We would like to work together in Boy Gets Girl so if anyone would like to produce/direct that, CALL US!).  Was comedy your in to improv?

Absolutely. During my first three weeks of college I saw an audition for The Plastic Shatners, a short form improv team on campus. They were only looking for one actor to fill a spot and, not having much to lose, I decided to audition. Spoiler alert, I ended up making the team and learned and performed with them over the next three years. When my first senior year came around, it was time for the director to pass the torch and he decided to leave the group in my care. I directed the team for my last two years in college before passing the torch myself. It’s a team that has been around since 1999, and I don’t see it ending anytime soon. That’s kinda cool. I was just a cog in a long running and successful improv troupe.

Having experience like that helps out a lot with starting a brand new improv troupe, I'm sure.  I'm sure you wouldn't want to IMPROVISE starting a new company (see what I did there?).  (At this point, Joe's eyes roll very far back in his head and I'm not sure he would want to put me on his improv team.)  How did you get started at the Lamp Theater?

The Lamp has been a longtime staple of Irwin, but in 2005, the movie theater closed its doors. When it reopened last year, the renovations included a stage for live performance and updated lighting, sound, and seating. I had been looking for an opportunity to do improv again in Pittsburgh and approached the theater with a proposal. I offered the improv troupe as a way to make money to continue renovations on the theater. They accepted and thought it was a great idea, so much so that auditions were scheduled the same day. They’ve given me a lot of freedom to do with this group what I want and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. They’re really a great group to work with.

It sounds like a great match!  Having a safe place and being surrounded by people who support you is super important in improv.  A lot of actors (myself included (at least, sometimes)) find improv terrifying.  Is it scary for you?  If so, why in the world would you want to do it?

Improvisation, in it’s nature, is not comedic, but it takes quick minds to make it such and I like to think I have a quicker-than-some kind of mind. Improv comedy has rarely scared me. Early on, it was more my battle with stage fright than improv that made me nervous. Now, what’s always been scary for me, and only recently has changed, is improv within a scripted show. For example, when an actor forgets a line and starts going off the cuff until they remember their place in the show. To be honest, that’s never happened to me, but that’s been my anxiety for most of my acting career.

I find that absolutely terrifying, too!  And the time it takes to come back around to the right moment seems like YEARS onstage even though it might only be five seconds!  The worst!  Has there ever been a moment when a scene has fallen completely flat on it's face?

Oh man, there are more of those times than I’d like to admit and most have probably been suppressed in my mind.

Understandable.  Any fail proof gimmicks?

I’ve learned that, above everything else, when I do physical comedy, people crack up.

 

 

Absolutely.  Physical comedy is ALWAYS funny.  ALWAYS.  

<<<<< as seen here

 

 

 

 

 

Any goals for Halfway There?

I want to have fun while introducing the town to improv comedy. At our first show, it was evident that a lot of the audience had never been to an improv show before. I’m glad I’ve helped them change that. As long as we stay funny and continue to bring crowds, I don’t want that to end.

Long term? Make this a staple of the community to live and thrive. I don’t plan on being in Pittsburgh forever, but I hope that when I leave I can hand the baton to the next director to continue this community collaboration. We’ve only had one show, so I’m probably jumping the gun, but it’s something to think about.

Okay, now the really important questions:  Do you have a theatrical dream role?

Ever since that first missed opportunity to perform in Les Miserable, I’ve wanted to be either Jean Valjean or Thenardier. Maybe someday I’ll get another chance at it.

And finally, perhaps the biggest, most important question ever to be asked: best burrito?

Oh man. Gobblerito. Until someone comes along with a General Tso’s burrito...

Be sure to check them out and support local artists!  I can't wait to see them myself!

I am also a huge fan of Joe Connelly, who is also a great photographer and actor and teacher.  You can check him out as Dr. Dino in Spinosaurus Encounter! (And you never know who might be wrangling Spiny that day!), and as a gallery presenter throughout the museum.  He is also working on his own improv skills at Arcade Comedy Theater so you can see him there as well!  And if you ever, EVER need a gif made, he's your guy.  

Another Body Image Blog

Does anyone else do this?  You open an article you want to read, but not right now, so you leave it open in your Safari window on your phone until you have FIVE MILLION windows open?  This is mine right now.  I think it's a fairly decent representation of what my mind is thinking at all times.

I finally had a moment of down time over the weekend so I pulled up some of these windows to read and realized that at least five of them were about being an actor and what that does to one's body image.  I figured that was a sign so here we are.

As someone who is always thinking about my body, as I feel I am neither skinny nor obese, somewhere in a horrendous limbo of wearing size 12 jeans and wearing a size small shirt, these blogs really struck me.  I remember in college being told I would get cast more if I dropped some weight, and I remember after Anthony and I lost over 100 pounds together, I really did get cast more.  *headdesk*

I could go on and on and on about this, but instead, I'm going to let these bloggers speak for themselves.

I don't really have much else to say, so I'm going to leave you with the following video performed by Amanda Trusty.  I watched it when it first became popular and to my surprise, we have a mutual friend in common so I see a lot of her on social media.  (Hey Amanda if you're reading this!)

Forever Young: Fun with Vampires

I'm relatively new to the film scene happening here in Pittsburgh.  Things I do know about it 1. It's busy  2. It's thriving and 3. It's a whole lotta fun.  Working on Mason introduced me to a lot of skilled, awesome people who know a lot more about filmmaking than I do (which is convenient to a newbie film actor, like me).  While working on the set of Mason, I met Paul Nandzik who was working as our stunt coordinator (and revolutionary drunk as seen in Episode 2).  He's working on a new project now with Oh Penny Pictures, and, full disclosure: it sounded a little crazy at first.  But now that I've seen the trailer, I'm way into it and looking forward to seeing more.  Hence the blog post.

The crew on set of Forever Young.  Photo Credit: Megan Bonus

The crew on set of Forever Young.  Photo Credit: Megan Bonus

Forever YoungPaul's current project, is about:

Victoria D’Abord (Ruthy Stapleton) is an ancient and powerful vampire who rules the Earth from the shadows, and who has even conquered Luna, Mars and Venus...to say nothing of her mastery of the dark arts. She languishes in exhausted boredom until she watches Stuffy the Slayer, a puppet parody and homage to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and realizes that, of all her accomplishments, she has yet to defeat high school! And so, with the help of her Ghoul Servant (David Ogrodowski), she enrolls in Neil Young High School.

Are you hooked?  Great.  You can support the project by donating HERE.

Not buying it?  Another full disclosure: I'm not into vampires (or any other kind of undead)...but then the trailer happened:

I'm in!  I mean, who doesn't want to see a vampire go through high school? In a real, anything-but-Twilight kind of way, amiright?  I asked Paul (who admits to enjoying absurdity and soap operas) what sparked the idea for Forever Young, and he told me the following:

What bothered me most about [The Vampire Diaries] was that these centuries old vampires with massive power and wealth decide on a whim to enroll in high school, and this really got me. It was very distracting to the story....I gave it some thought and contemplated what would reasonably compel ancient vampires to enroll in high school. The only good answer I could come up with was boredom.

If anyone can be trusted to write, produce and direct a series about a vampire queen going back to high school because of boredom, it's Paul.  His experiences include working on mainstream union films, indies (go Mason!) and student films, both in front of and behind the camera.  For a full list of credits, check out Paul's IMDB page.  He's also got a killer (no pun intended) crew surrounding him.  

Fun fact: if you've never worked on a film before, a lot goes wrong while you're on set.  It's so interdependent on everyone doing their job, and everything going right with all the moving parts and the location and other resources, that if one piece falls out, things might fall apart.  This is enough to make my type-A self cringe.  Paul?  Nope.  He says it's his favorite part of filmmaking.

...whatever the problem is...you have to figure out what you have available to you and what you can do to get around that problem. You learn to make the most of what you have. And sometimes you have to break the rules. And it’s a challenge on an individual as much as it is to the group as a whole.

Yay creative problem solving!!!  

Forever Young filmed last November and is now in post-production.  Once the episode is complete, Oh Penny Pictures is hoping to distribute the episode to our favorite streaming services.  So if you like what you saw in the trailer, keep your fingers crossed!

And of course, if you like what you saw, Forever Young needs money to keep producing.  Funny thing, that money.  They have all kinds of benefits for donating and more fun things on their Indiegogo site that you can find here.  Choose to donate and support local artists and local film and make a difference!

Photo credit: Megan Bonus

Happy 2016!

Happy, happy new year, dear friends!  Hope you're recovering well from starting off the New Year right (as I'm sure we all did!).  It's the time for resolutions, possibly my least favorite thing in the world (yay!).  Instead of trying to make one goal for the ENTIRE YEAR (which just seems ridiculous), I try to break up my resolutions into months, and then I feel good about myself when I have a successful month, instead of being mad about breaking my resolution three days in.

So I'm posting some artistic goals I have for each month this year, complete with shows I'm looking forward to and fun things to do around Pittsburgh!  If nothing else, make a resolution to see more art, even if it's just once a month!  I'm starting with January through June, since there's always so much going on in the city.  I'll be sure to get another mid-year resolution list out in June or July!

ETA: For a more awesomely complete list, check out artsburgh.org for ALL ART ALL THE TIME.

January

  • Second City is performing at the Public Theater downtown!  I'll be there Friday night!
  • The winter Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District is January 22.
  • A new improv troupe is happening in Irwin, not too far from Pittsburgh!  I trust it's in good hands, thanks to director Joe Connelly.  Check them out at the Lamp Theatre.
  • Assassins opens at the end of the month produced by Split Stage out in Greensburg!  Incredible show, super relevant.  Promises to be great!

February

March

  • Can I tell you how excited I am that Bridges of Madison County is coming to town?  Get tickets!
  • Bricolage will be putting together B.U.S. 11 this year!  A great event every year!
  • Saltworks Young Actors Studio is venturing into the world of radio plays and I am helping them out!  Their website will have more information about tickets as it gets closer! (And you can still sign your student up!)
  • No Name Players' Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) Day will be March 26.  I've never been to this event, but I'm looking forward to it this year!

April

  • The spring Gallery Crawl in the Cultural Trust is April 22.
  • The Rep Company at the Pittsburgh Playhouse is performing The Flick about underpaid, underemployed young people (sound familiar?).  Directed by Robert A. Miller, son of Arthur Miller, you know, the playwright.  NBD.
  • Barebones Productions is doing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at the end of this month and into May.  I'm looking forward to seeing this show for the first time.
  • One of my favorite operas, The Barber of Seville, is being performed by the Pittsburgh Opera.

May

  • There is a Pittsburgh Sketch Crawl on May 14 that sounds pretty cool to me.  Walk around downtown Pittsburgh and sketch all the cool things?  I'm in.
  • The Children's Theater Festival is May 12-15 which is a blast for adults and kiddos alike!
  • Prime Stage Theater will be performing The Giver, based on one of my favorite YA novels.  I didn't care for the film, so I'm curious to see it adapted for the stage!
  • Off the Wall Theater in Carnegie is doing Musical of Musicals which will be hysterical, I'm sure.
  • If you missed Assassins with Split Stage, you get another shot with Stage 62!

June

Whew, are you exhausted out?  There's so much going on in Pittsburgh and hopefully you'll be able to enjoy some of the things listed here!  Please comment below if you have other great events that weren't mentioned here!  I'd love to know what I'm missing!

2015 HIGHLIGHTS

Below are some of the fun things I did this past year!  Accomplishments include adding four more states to my list of completed half marathons, visiting the Frick, Fallingwater and the National Aviary for the first time, seeing Niagara Falls (speaking of falling water...), going west of the Mississippi River for the first time (hey Austin, hey LA!), went to Canada, visited Disneyland, performed in four shows, did two staged readings, sang in a choir, worked on a web series, wrote some scripts for science shows at CMNH, filmed a drone instructional video, got to play with a drone, enjoyed two bachelorette parties, partied at five weddings, did a bridal photo shoot, saw one of my best friends perform in two national tours, chopped 10 inches of hair off, made a lot of new friends, celebrated my third wedding anniversary and listened to Hamilton a million times.

Enjoy the photos!

Mama, I'm a Billboard Now!

So through just random connections, I have started into the world of print advertising?  I guess?  Not really, nothing serious, but below are some places you might see my face!


Billboards!  Mt. Notre Dame, my high school, contacted me to see if I wanted to be a part of their "We Are MND" campaign to promote their Open House in November.  And of course, I agreed!  This is what my billboard looked like:

MND posters.jpg

And this is what happened when my family went on a hunt to find them on the road!


I'm also being used on posters in the school when girls come in to visit!


And lastly, I'm a calendar girl for the month of May for the Cultural Trust!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


You can also find photos of Spiny and me on the website www.meetspiny.com

You may also come across the Spinosaurus Encounter! postcard!  HERE!

Thanks for everyone's support in all my crazy endeavors!  I'm so happy that I've been able to be a part of some fun opportunities and it's been fun to see these things pop up!  Follow me on Instagram to see more of where I've been!

Bridal Styled Shoot!

11232899_10100401114681259_2644076083874106249_o.jpg

<<<< This is Lauren Kate Morrison.  She has been one of my best friends since college.  She photographed my wedding and she also happens to be one of the best photographers I know.  Need proof?  www.laurenmorrisonphotography.com

All photos following are taken by Lauren Morrison Photography.

 

 

883203_756286694387634_881065666_o.jpg

 

>>>> This is Emily Harnett.  She has been one of my best friends since college.  She did my makeup on my wedding day and she also happens to be a killer makeup artists.  Need proof?  EJH On-Site Makeup Artist Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

With our powers combined, we decided we were going to do a bridal styled shoot.  Destination: Pittsburgh, PA.  Herr's Island specifically (located under the 31st Street Bridge).  The flower crown was supplied by Posy.  These ladies are my everything and I could not have done this shoot without them.  Special shout out to my mom for being assistant extraordinaire and Bloody Mary provider! 

20150919-6N0A7373.jpg

And the beauty is...

Do yourself a favor and go see Front Porch Theatricals' Light in the Piazza.  No, really.  Stop what you are doing, go to https://www.showclix.com/events/12886 and buy your tickets for next weekend immediately.  You have five chances next weekend to see it.

These are very popular in Italy.  It's the land of naked marble boys!

These are very popular in Italy.  It's the land of naked marble boys!

You know how when you were a musical theater nerd in high school (slash still are?) and you would go through phases of shows and be OBSESSED with one show for months and have every line memorized before you found a new show obsession?  That was me.  JCS (bet you have that opening vamp stuck in your head now), Rent (definitely stood in line with the Rent-heads for cheap seats on the stage), Hairspray (this was actually a workout album for a while where I ponied around my living room), Wicked (ahhh-AHH-AHH-ahhhhhhh)etc, etc, the list goes on and on, and then Light in the Piazza came out my senior year of high school, and as a classically-trained soprano, I was OBSESSED.  And at that point, I skipped over every Margaret song because clearly I wanted to be Clara because not only were her songs beautiful, but there was hunky Fabrizio to daydream about.  By the time I had every Clara song memorized (which did take longer than normal because that music is HARD!), another show obsession had arrived and Light in the Piazza was placed aside.

I was a senior (I'm 95% sure of that?) Point Park when they produced Light in the Piazza.  It was my first time seeing it onstage and I remember that lightbulb going off in my brain and realizing, "Ohhhhh, now I get what the story is about."  It was a really lovely production and credit must be given to a young and skilled cast to tackle such a difficult show.

So now, five (right?) years later, seeing it again and I got even more out of it and loved it even more.  Not only is the music soaring and incredible (c'mon, there's a freakin' harp in the pit) but everything is top notch, like THIS SET and THOSE LIGHTS.  

And this time around, it was Margaret who I was dying to hear from.  I felt like I had never heard these songs before (note: I had heard them very little compared to the rest since I mostly skipped them in high school) and I couldn't wait to hear more from her story.  Thanks to the incredible Becki Toth (who I'm fairly certain sang the sh*t out of this character), this character became so lovely and real and I can't wait to re-listen to my soundtrack and become re-obsessed.  

Well done, Front Porch Theatricals.  I only wish I could get back next weekend to see more!  

Also, I'm ready to go back to Florence.  Who's in?


La De Da, Culture!

Friends, it is mid-August!!!  Can you believe it?  WHERE HAS MY SUMMER GONE?  Oh right, to the seven weeks of summer camp I taught (this blog post is proof I survived Bug Bonanza) and all the amazing and loving weddings I went to and all the visits friends and family have made!  Whew...I'm looking forward to the fall when I just go back to acting and teaching and more weddings and traveling and holidays.  You know, the mundane, boring, not-at-all busy things.

This past weekend was (amazingly) the first weekend in a VERY long time Anthony and I had ZERO things on the calendar.  This is not a joke.  Literally, zero things on Saturday and Sunday.  So we took full advantage of it.  We were able to enjoy some mini-golf, Inside Out, some Mexican food, a little shopping here and there, making our house look more presentable and rewatching Heroes in anticipation for Heroes: Reborn this fall.  It was very enjoyable.  We also managed to be super cultured and see not one, but TWO, performances as well.

First, Friday night, we went to see A Winter's Tale at Monroeville Community Park produced by Poor Yorick's Players. I worked with Poor Yorick's last summer when I did Love's Labour's Lost.  I really enjoyed working with them, and was looking forward to seeing another production.  The setting at the park is really quite lovely.  It was a beautiful night to top it off, so we really enjoyed laying on the hillside as the sun set and the beautifully tall trees around us kept us cool.  Poor Yorick's also has really beautiful (traditional) costumes so it was really a great production to watch.  (Have you seen THIS article?)

Gorgeous, amiright?  Photo taken from Poor Yorick's Facebook page.

Gorgeous, amiright?  Photo taken from Poor Yorick's Facebook page.

Full disclosure: I am not one of those actors who is obsessed with Shakespeare.  I enjoy his work, I enjoy studying it and think it's genius, and I enjoy performing it, but I don't really go out of my way to read every single play he's ever written and I actually had never read A Winter's Tale before I went to see this production.  

That being said, A Winter's Tale is a weird play.  It's considered a comedy, and I get that a comedy means "happy ending," not necessarily LOL style, but this play seemed to live in a weird in between land.  Poor Yorick's (happily) shortened  the play to just around two hours, which is an incredible feat, but I felt like I was maybe missing some of the character development that might have helped justify some of the actions from the king and make it seem less ridiculous when someone mentions that maybe his wife is cheating on him, and then he throws her in jail, ultimately leading to her "death."  Also, Hermione, come on.  Sixteen years of playing dead and the best resurrection idea you can come up with is to turn yourself into a statue?  Really?  Maybe I should read the whole thing to see what I missed out on and see if it seems less silly then.

Also, I learned about this: 


On Sunday evening, I went to see the Summer Singers at a church in Mt. Lebanon.  Summer Singers is part of a program called Voces Solis.  I knew of some friends who were participating in it and I wanted to check them out, so I ventured down to the concert and it was really lovely.  I haven't done (or listened to) choral music in a long time, but that's really where a lot of my interest in performing got stated, back in the good ol' days with the Cincinnati Children's Choir.  After Point Park, I joined the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh for a year too, so going to see another choir perform was really a treat for me.

One of the first things that clued me in was this awesome statement on the back of the program:

...Voces Solis brings together musicians and teachers to share in the art and fellowship of choral singing. Our goal is to elevate our own standards of musicianship while rekindling our love for music making, enabling us to pass this fire on to our students and fellow musicians.

Wow, the teaching artist in me got really excited after reading that.  It's so important for us as teachers to continue to be artists in whatever form, so I knew this concert was going to be delightful.  The other thing that I was really excited about was the different conductors.  In my experiences, there was always just one conductor in charge of everything, but this group had three (or four?) which made for really nice variation in pieces and in style.  Very enjoyable.

My favorite piece was "Seek Him that Maketh the Seven Stars" by Jonathan Dove and conducted by Erich Lascek.  I'm not a fan of the organ normally, but I have never really heard an organ do this kind of sound before and I LOVED it.  I also felt the choral parts were just incredible and really set a mood and told a story.  Here's a recording of it (not by the Summer Singers) and without sitting in a church listening to the sound echo around you, it might not come across the same, but it gave me goosebumps on Sunday, especially around the 3:15 mark.

Of course, as I was basking in the beautiful music, imagining myself flying through the stars in space, soaring above everything that has ever been created, and as the song was coming to an end, the lady in front of me leaned over to her friend and said, "Well, that was definitely my least favorite."  I almost laughed out loud as I was reminded about how different we all are and what I found so much beauty and imagery in was this woman's least favorite piece.

Looking forward to hopefully seeing some more theater by the end of summer...there is a suspicious event at 2 p.m. on our calendar this Sunday labeled "Shh, it's a birthday surprise."  I'm hoping it tickets to Light in the Piazza, so I'll keep you posted.

Save the date for Throughline Theatre's Games of the Mind September 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19!  More details to follow!!

Celebrate Yourself Triumphantly!

Hello friends!  It's been a while since my last post because I have been busy with summer camps and enjoying my rehearsal-free evenings with Anthony...that all changes Monday when rehearsals for Games of the Mind begins and the last week of summer camp is over!  Hoping to enjoy some time at the pool this summer before it ends!

I went to see Kinky Boots today.  With Billy Porter, Pittsburgh native and the original Lola.  I hadn't listened to the soundtrack previously, I only vaguely knew what it was about.  And now I've seen it and it was joyous.  

It wasn't necessarily the best music I've ever heard in a musical, but it didn't need to be.  The cast was so delightful and so full of energy and love for the audience (who, for all the gray hairs I saw, was giving it all right back!). I just sat back and enjoyed what was a really lovely way to spend an afternoon.  And afterwards, I got to take a picture with these lovely ladies.

I think Anthony is attempting to bevel.

I think Anthony is attempting to bevel.

Reasons I loved Kinky Boots:

  1. The lead is African-American.
  2. This African-American lead is a drag queen, loud and proud.
  3. This African-American drag queen saves the white man.

Bonus: There were women on that stage who actually looked like real women and not tiny little sticks.  They had breasts, some were overweight, a few had big butts.  And guess what?  They could all dance, sing and act at the same time.  Who knew real life-sized women could do that?  (Don't get me wrong, I know performing 8 shows a week is a workout in and of itself, but it was reassuring to know as a woman with awesome lady curves that I'm still cast-able.)

Double bonus: I love to think about the young gay boys, little lesbian girls, and trans kiddos who will see this show and know they are not the only ones and they are still capable of great things, no matter their sexuality.

On our way to and from the theater this afternoon, we witnessed this: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2015/08/09/ferguson-anniversary-fop-convention/ .  Interesting on the drive in.  Incredibly thought provoking on the way out.  And as my fuzzy, full-of-love feelings that only come from an afternoon of beautiful theater began to melt away, I started to realize how lucky I was.  I had just experienced a wonderful moment in time, framing the world in a way only art can, and how much I benefited from that.  The people who most need Kinky Boots' message are either unaware, priced out or closed-minded and dismissive.  

I'm challenging myself to continue Kinky Boots' message through my interactions with the people around me so everyone: strangers, friends, ladies, gentlemen, and those who are yet to make up their minds, has access to the beautiful message of this triumphant musical


Change the world when your change your mind.

PSA: Throughline Theatre's Medea

SPOILER ALERT: If you don't know how Medea ends 2,000 years after it was written, go read some literature.  (Or better yet, come see our production!)


Do words and phrases like consent, slut-shaming, men ruling women, and being a "proper" woman make you have some feelings?  When used in certain contexts, do you find yourself getting angry and upset at society today?

Well, then do I have the play for you!

Do words and phrases like consent, slut-shaming, men ruling women, and being a "proper" woman make you have no feelings at all?  Are you nodding along as your read this post saying, "Why yes!  A woman's natural place IS in the home!"?

Well, then do I have the play for you! (Also, you probably shouldn't read this blog anymore as it will make you angry.)

Throughline Theatre Company's Medea opens July 17 and runs through July 25.  (For a full schedule and to get your tickets now, check out our ticket site)  For the past four weeks, I have been assistant directing this piece and have come to think that as far as Greek tragedies go, this one is pretty darn relevant for women today.  But first, a little history....

I read Medea in Honors English II my sophomore year of high school with Mrs. Purdy.  My thoughts after reading it: "This is the stupidest thing I've ever read."  (Yay!  Come see our show!)  I just couldn't stand how Medea MURDERS HER KIDS to get back at a jerkface husband.  She should just take her kids with her and live their lives peacefully somewhere else.  Or, since it is a Greek tragedy after all, MURDER JASON!!?!?!?!  AMIRIGHT?  So here I am eleven years later, a (completely and totally) mature woman watching incredible actors tell this story on the stage, and I have to say...my fourteen year old self was a bit of an idiot about this play.

So let's think back to Ancient Greece.  It wasn't easy to be a woman back then, was it?  Medea notes women must get married, without much choice in the matter, and divorce is an even worse fate than death in that society.  Welp.  That makes for a fun and happy marriage, doesn't it?  So when Medea's marriage doesn't work out because her husband is trying to "do the right thing" and marry into royalty to take care of everyone, what's a girl to do?  And of course, Jason blames her own situation on her (victim blaming, anyone?) because she doesn't know when to keep her mouth shut and is a barbarian (hmm...sounds familiar..."She was asking for it, her skirt was too short!") and claims he is the innocent one here.  The translation we're using for our production seems to really drive this point home, too.

Dr. Phil sums up Medea.

Dr. Phil sums up Medea.

Last night while I was watching our actors do another run, I couldn't help but think what if Euripides had Jason kill his children?  Men in today's society seem to be able to get around a lot of rules women just can't seem to get a break on...it's okay for men to be half naked in public, but not for women.  It's okay for a man to sleep around, but not women.   Men on television are rarely ever shown fully nude, but women are shown that way all the time.  I'm on to you, you sneaky double standards!  So what if Jason had been the one to kill his children?  Would he have been called a monster, a she-lion (he-lion, I suppose?), a barbarian?  I sure do hope so.  The murder of children is never to be condoned.  But would the ancient Greek audience viewed it in such a way?  Maybe they would've thought it was fate, a destiny chosen by the gods and Jason was merely following through with what the gods wants.  No one believes Medea, though, when she tries to tell them the gods are on her side.  At least not until a flying chariot pulled by dragons shows up (thank you Euripides for that wonderful (and-extremely-difficult-to stage-in-a-black-box-theater) deux ex machina!).

So, I mean, I don't know.  These are my thoughts today, but I'm going to go to our final dress tonight and someone's going to say a line differently and I'll feel like I'm hearing it for the first time and I'll write a little note in my notebook and I'll come back and edit this post and tomorrow when you read it (again because it's so enlightening and thoughtful) it'll be a totally different piece.  Whew.

Maybe you should just come see it for yourself.  And then let me know what you think.  Perhaps over some coffee or a cocktail sometime, your choice, I'm not picky.  

All I really know is Medea is still (unfortunately) incredibly contemporary.  And thankfully, the arts gives us a wonderful medium to shine a light on some of our problems in society.


Throughline Theatre Company's Medea is showing at the Grey Box Theater in Lawrenceville on Butler Street.  Performances are:

  • July 17 @ 8 pm
  • July 18 @ 2** & 8 pm
  • July 23 @ 8 pm
  • July 24 @ 8 pm
  • July 25 @ 2 & 8 pm

Tickets are available for purchase at the door and at our website: TICKETS!

July 18 at 2 pm is a PAY WHAT YOU CAN performance.

This is my quest!

Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!  I cannot believe we're at this point of the year...we all know how the rest of the summer is going to slip out of our ketchup-y hands after this weekend so enjoy the beer and hot dogs while you can!

Cast of Man of La Mancha with The Company of Pittsburgh.

Cast of Man of La Mancha with The Company of Pittsburgh.

Somehow between filming, teaching, dinosaur-ing, and directing, I've managed to squeeze in some shows with the Pittsburgh CLO this year.  Anthony and I bought season tickets for three of the shows.  When I found out Billy Porter was going to be in his original role in Kinky Boots, I knew I had to have those tickets.  Three shows with CLO is $50 per person.  I would pay $50 JUST TO SEE BILLY PORTER!  I considered this a major bargain and hence the season tickets.

Anthony and I went to Mary Poppins a few weeks ago.  I was not super impressed, with the show itself, or the production, but the talent was good.  So I wasn't sure what to expect with Man of La Mancha, which is one of my favorite shows.  I was a little nervous going in.  I had a beautiful experience doing this show two years ago with the brand new The Company of Pittsburgh.  We deconstructed the show, made it simple and just told the beautiful story.  (For more gushing on that experience, you can read THIS blog post).

First of all, can we just talk about how flippin' relevant this show is?  No?  Let me set the scene (pun intended).  I went to see this show following the week of:

  • the Charleston shooting (thoughts: I can't believe we spend billions on overseas wars but won't do a thing to protect ourselves from ourselves)
  • People arguing over the Confederate flag (thoughts: *headdesk*)
  • Formal sentencing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (thoughts: whether I'm yay or nay on the death penalty, this makes me all sorts of uncomfortable for various reasons)

All this followed by:

  • ACA subsidies declared constitutional (thoughts: YAY!)
  • Gay marriage declared legal in ALL states (thoughts: YAY!)

It's obvious I was having a lot of feelings already so then we pile on the beautiful message of La Mancha and I'm a goner.

Now the production itself was really lovely overall.  The set and lighting were most impressive, with stairs lowering in from the flyspace to create the terrifyingly awesome dungeon setting.  The orchestra was delightful and full, with the acoustic guitars and brass really bringing out the style of the score.  I was mildly disappointed by the blocking.  Most of the time the other actors revolved around the older Don Quixote, which is fine for a while, but repetitive by the end.

Enough of that nonsense!  BRING ON THE TEARS!

Are you sobbing?  I'm sobbing.

But wait!  There's more!  At the end, there's the whole company singing the song with even more beautiful lyrics that every time I hear makes me cry and gives me goosebumps.

To run where the brave dare not go

Though the goal be forever too far...

To live with your heart striving upward

To a far unattainable sky!

Hmm...does this sound relevant to you?

At the end of what had been a very emotional ten days, all I could think of was this beautiful wonderful world Don Quixote believes in unfailingly despite the horror and brutality around him.  This is very important.


Our world is full of horror and brutality, so we, especially as artists, must, must, see the beauty in it, because if we don't, no one else will.  


Don Quixote is called a fool, he is called mad, but he perseveres.  He disrupts the way people are living their lives, it changes the status quo.  In the case of Aldonza, his insistent belief in her  eventually allows her to believe in herself too, all because he voices it out loud and it's the first time she's heard it.   In the case of the innkeeper and the always reliable friend, Sancho, their lives are fuller because of their experiences with this man.

We as artists need to continue to see the beauty in the world and highlight it for all the people who are knocked down.  I think back to some of my playwriting students who thought they didn't have a story to tell.  Of course they did, but all they needed was someone to acknowledge that voice and give them a platform to use it.  

So despite, no, because of the hatred, the bitterness, the apathy, we continue to ride where the brave dare not go.  To bring beauty to those around us, to shine on light on those who have fallen too far down into the darkness.   I'll see you on the quest.

This is my quest
to follow that star,
no matter how hopeless,
no matter how far.

Summer Theater Lovin'

As any Pittsburgher will tell you, Pittsburgh in the summer makes suffering through Pittsburgh in the winter worth it.  The beautiful rivers, bike trails, biergartens, urban farming, festivals (I'm pickle-larly excited for Picklesburgh come July), farmers markets (btw, the one in Bloomfield on Saturday mornings has the BEST produce!), all of these things make Pittsburgh phenomenal.

And then there's the summer theater scene.  Pittsburgh Public and City Theater may rule the school year season, but during the summer time, the smaller theaters bust out their massive amounts of skills and strut their stuff.  Watch out CLO, you've got some stiff competition!


Productions I'm looking forward to seeing (and think you should too!):

  • Chicago at the Theater Factory (Trafford), July 16-26.  I feel like this show isn't done enough.  Phenomenal music with an all around strong female cast?  Yes, please!
  • The Drowsy Chaperone at Stage 62 (Carnegie), July 16-25.  One of my all time favorite musicals.  "Mix-ups, mayhem and a gay wedding!"
  • SHAMELESS PLUG: Medea with Throughline Theater Company (Lawrenceville), July 17-25.  Because you should and because I'm making my assistant directing debut! YAY!
  • Kinky Boots with Pittsburgh CLO (Dahntahn) , August 4-9.  Four words for you: BILLY. PORTER. ORIGINAL. ROLE.
  • The Light in the Piazza with Front Porch Theatrics (North Side), August 21-30.  This beautiful, beautiful piece isn't done enough.  Go see it when you can.

And then save the date because (SHAMELESS PLUG), the premier of Games of the Mind is happening at the Grey Box September 11-19 with a hysterical cast including yours truly!  Super excited to be a part of this new project!

Buffalo: An All-America City! [sic]

So this post has nothing to do with Pittsburgh (which, I know, is different from my usual blogs, oh well).  My husband and I visited Buffalo (and Niagara Falls) for the first time this weekend and had a blast, and since we had adventures and since there was art, I figured I would share it with you here.

First, the title.  I saw a sign as we got close to the city that read: "Buffalo: An All-America City." This continued to bother me most of the weekend and all the way back to Pittsburgh.  Shouldn't the sign read: "Buffalo: An All-AmericaN City?"  Did nobody think to check that sign before it was posted?  In fact, it bothered me so much I Googled it when I got home to see if there was a story behind it.  And indeed, there is.  There is an award called "All-America City Award" and Buffalo has won the award twice, once in 1996 and again in 2002.  This immediately made me feel better.  Now on with the blog!

Now, let me tell you, I thought Buffalo was far away.  Like a 5 hour drive.  But it's not.  It's only 3.5 hours!  So if you live in Pittsburgh, it's worth a weekend trip.  I don't know, are Pittsburgh and Buffalo sports rivals?  Is there conflict there?  Whatever.  It's a cool town to check out.

Here is your 10 step plan to visiting Buffalo:

Step 1: Find the closest BBQ joint.  

For those of you who don't have the pleasure of knowing Anthony, he is a man who likes smoked meat.  So as his dutiful wife, I always do my research and discover the best BBQ in town.  We considered Dinosaur BBQ a success.

NOM NOM NOM NOM

NOM NOM NOM NOM

Step 2: Drink some beer.

For those of you who don't have the pleasure of knowing Anthony, he is a man who likes beer.  So as his dutiful wife, I always do my research and discover the best beer in town.  We considered the microbreweries we visited a success.  

(Seriously, the beer in Buffalo is top notch.  We visited Big Ditch Brewing Company and Resurgence Brewing Company.  Both had inventive, flavorful and creative beer.  We also enjoyed some local brews from Canada and the greater Western NY area at various restaurants we visited.  Everything was tasty!

Step 3: See a battleship?

Walking Canalside

Walking Canalside

Buffalo is revitalizing the area called Canalside.  So far so good.  While we were visiting, there were paddleboat and remote controlled mini sailboats to play with and a carnival going on.  While these things are fun, the best highlight was seeing the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.  They had really amazing old war vehicles both in the canal alongside where we were walking and on the other side of us on land.  If you purchased admission, you were welcomed onboard the battleship.  As we continued further down the path, we walked through a beautiful memorial park with monuments for all the wars as well as monuments dedicated to specific ethnic groups who had fought.  The monuments were really touching.

Step 4: Walk 13.1 miles.

This race was the whole reason of our visit.  Not much to say about it...13.1 miles, lovely course through beautiful neighborhoods and waterfront walkways.  I may or may not have had a small cup of mimosa somewhere between miles 7 and 8 (thank you, wonderful strangers!).  This marks race 6 out of 50 as we attempt to complete a half marathon in every state (Anthony's idea, not mine.)  We didn't take our phone/camera/lifeline with us on the race so please enjoy the following Before and After photos.

Step 5: Celebrate.

When in Rome...

 

(Repeat Step 2 as needed)

 

 

Step 6: Visit a foreign country.

Canada, very exotic, I know.  This was my longest visit to our northern neighbors, clocking in at about 6 hours.  (I previously spent a thrilling 45 minutes in Windsor during another half marathon).  

 

 

Step 7: See a Wonder of the World.

I have never been to Niagara Falls and was thrilled when we decided to visit Buffalo since I knew it would provide me with the opportunity to do so.  Unfortunately, our schedule wouldn't allow us to visit any other day but the day we had already walked a half marathon, so we put on our most comfy clothes and our most comfy shoes and swallowed a lot of ibuprofen so we could survive.

There's not a lot to say about the falls so I hope these pictures suffice.

Incredible, right?  We stayed long enough to see the falls get lit up, but unfortunately, we were too exhausted to wait another hour for the fireworks.  The falls at night are just a completely different experience.  I highly recommend you see them then too.

Step 8: Be a tourist.

Niagara Falls is lovely and Queen Victoria Park is beautiful.  I found the surrounding area of casinos and arcades and wax museums and places like Hard Rock Cafe really disheartening.  However, desperate times calls for desperate measures and we needed to kill time in an active way to keep us awake between daytime falls and nighttime falls.  Warning: mini-golf happened.

Step 9: Pass out.

Note: on this day, I set my fitbit record with the most steps in one day.  42,840 steps.  21.83 miles.

Step 10: Say goodbye.

The next morning, we hobbled over to Tim Horton's for a victory breakfast: iced cappuccinos and timbits.  It was delicious and we said goodbye to this lovely city and left in a sugar coma.

 

Until next time, Buffalo!

TANGLE by Polyglot

I'm sure you've seen my continuous posts about Tangle.  I just can't stand how much fun it was and want to play in it all the time!  So here's a photo blog about how it evolved over the past couple days :)

SO COOL, RIGHT?

If you're interested in finding Tangle near you, visit their website for more information and a calendar of their tour: TANGLE!

 

EQT Children's Theater Festival

Guys, there's this thing that you should know about.  It's called the Children's Theater Festival.  And it's AMAZING.  No, I'm not exaggerating.  It's really one of the coolest things.

If you're sold already and want more info, visit pghkids.org.  For those of you who enjoy wildly excited ramblings, read on, brave readers!

First of all, they close down Penn Ave in the Cultural District so kids can play and celebrate without cars running them down.  I wish we could close down our street from time to time so I could build a park in it and go hang out with my artist buddy friends.

Second of all, the Cultural Trust brings in theater companies from around the world to perform shows made just for kids.  There's no shushing, or angry adults rolling their eyes as parents wrangle kiddos.  The performances range for audiences from 6 months old (yes, six months!!!) to middle school age.  And then some performances are special needs friendly, which is amazing.  ART FOR EVERYONE, PEOPLE!

You can order tickets to the Featured Performances at www.pghkids.org or call 412-456-6666.  Ticket's start at $8 per person, but, lucky you,the more theater you see, the cheaper your tickets become.  Note: there is no where else in this city where you can see professional theater for $8!!!  

And while you're at it, go ahead and get your parking in advance so you don't have to deal with all the craziness that is downtown parking.  See how easy they make it to partake in awesome?

Third of all, there's Tangle.  I don't know how to explain it.  So watch this video.

(Can I just tell you how excited I am to play in this????  And for only $5!)

(eta 5/14/15: as of yesterday, I played in Tangle.  It was amazing.  Thanks to Joe Connelly for the photos!)  

And then, (no, I'm not done yet), there's a ton of amazingly free things to do...like arts and crafts, and free performances from local groups on the community stage, and Lily Pad Park, and roving artists who are drawing amazing sidewalk art and make balloon creatures, and you get to just walk around the Cultural District which is ah-may-zing.  

Did I mention food trucks?  Oh, well, there's food trucks.  And if you're too good for food trucks (you're missing out if so), you can go to local restaurants that have specialty kid menus just for this occasion!

And yours truly will be there.  Working the ground as a Festival Guide, helping people around, playing games with kiddos, advising grown ups how to spend their time to make the most out of their visit, and if you're really on top of things, you might even solve this mysterious riddle I keep hearing about.

Need I say anymore?  Come down to the Cultural District from 10am-7pm this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Get your tickets to see the shows sooner rather than later as some of the venues are small!  I'm attempting to see all of them on my breaks from work because they're all going to be AMAZING.

I'll see you there! 

Bucket List Additions

I stumbled across this amazing article the other day:

10 of the Most Beautiful Theaters in the World

And I think it's safe to say that all of these places are now on my bucket list!  I'd love to be able to visit the one on the lake in Austria especially...can you imagine being an actor on that stage?  "So stand a little more stage left of the pupil of the giant eyeball..." "You need to start walking on the pier a little sooner in order to anticipate your entrance."  It would be crazy!

If you don't have the funds right now to jet off to Australia, not to fear!  There's plenty of beautiful theaters to be seen just right here in Pittsburgh!  

Some fun things you may not know about some of our Pittsburgh theaters:

  • The O'Reilly Theater, home to Pittsburgh Public Theater, is designed by world-renowned architect Michael Graves and is the only theater downtown to have a thrust stage.
  • Heinz Hall, home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, used to be an opulent movie theater and in 1964 was doomed to demolition.  John Heinz II rescued the building and it reopened in 1971.
  • The August Wilson Center is one of only two major arts institutions in the world to be named after Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning playwright, August Wilson, a Pittsburgh native.  
  • The Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland is said to be one of the most haunted places in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  More importantly, the Pittsburgh Playhouse is also home to Playhouse, Jr., the second oldest continually running children's theater in the nation.

Use this amazing weekend to go take a tour of the Cultural District downtown!  There's some lovely spaces to view.  For the full experience, buy a ticket and go see some theater or ballet or opera!