Sunday, 27 December 2015

Get the hammer: we're Reframing this whole thing!

When I am faced with an experience that is terrifying to me, I have gotten through it by thinking of it as a temporary fear. Like riding a roller coaster, which my well-meaning ex-husband thought was an important thing to do to "help me overcome my anxiety." In a way, he was right--from then on, I would say to myself, "Look, it's just like the roller coaster. It will be horrible, but then it will end. You just have to get through it."

So, that is how I have faced fear ever since. But what about when the thing you fear is also FANTASTIC? Yeah, that's where I find myself. Face first into Tommy tech week(s), where I am two weeks away from actually having to PERFORM IN THIS SHOW. It is here. 

So, do I face this same fear in the same way? Just grit my teeth, swallow the bile in my throat, and "get through it"? I have realized the obvious. This is a different situation. One where I am both afraid AND fulfilling a life-long dream. One where there is no destination or amazing thing at the end of the experience that makes it all worthwhile (my driver's license, my daughter, the exit gate of the Mind Bender).

This show, being IN THIS SHOW, IS THE THING I WANT. I don't want to ruin it by just trying to "get through it" or (worse) driving my fellow cast members crazy with my desperate need for validation and positive feedback. NONONONONONONONOOOOOO NOPE.

So, I'm going to reframe this experience. I will enjoy it. I will fear it. I'll damned we'll BE IN IT without thinking of it as "horrible/terrifying/SO EFFING SCARY!!!!" 

This is not the roller coaster. This is something I've wanted to do my whole life. And I'm going to live it; because, as Tommy says, "Freedom tastes of reality!"

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Sitzing with the Band! And hair!

When the show is a few weeks from opening, one of the last rehearsals is the "sitzprobe"-- the German word to describe it--where the cast sits with the band and sings/plays through the whole show. Usually, these groups rehearse separately, so this is the big chance to get acquainted.

And it was so freakin' exciting, I nearly lost my mind! Tommy is a "rock musical", but most of your time rehearsing the songs is kind of like being in a choir--singing to a piano accompaniment, learning your part of each song. Let me tell you, friends; I had no idea how much I missed having the guitars, bass and drums! I was really starting to worry that I had lost touch with music. I can't read music well, or, frankly, AT ALL. I was feeling so far behind everyone, lost in the minutiae of the songs--each note feeling like a struggle. I felt so far away from the songs as a whole. I could not hear the big picture.

But, sitting there, surrounded by the power of rock music, I found it. My feel for music, my connection (especially to rock) drove through me--it felt fantastic! I finally connected to the songs as a whole. People will often say that I have to "get out of my own head", and they are right. The problem is, I have no idea how to do that. Or, I didn't, until yesterday. 

Now I remember. Crank up the music and effin' ROCK OUT!!! (I realize it's so not rock 'n roll of me NOT to swear, but I try not to offend. Forgive me, rock gods.)

I also weaselled my way onto the production team! There was no one to handle hair design, and I had some ideas. And I can't leave well enough alone. And I missed being on the production side. I can't help it! GO TECH!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

What did I think would happen?

Here's the thing: I meant it when I said I'd work my ass off for this show. The problem was, I hadn't given much thought to what that would mean in concrete terms. Yesterday at the choreo clean up rehearsal, I learned the hard way what it means for me.

And I'm kicking myself for not thinking this way from day effin' ONE. 

IT MEANS REHEARSING SOMETHING FROM THE SHOW EVERY SINGLE DAY, not just on the designated rehearsal days. Especially the dancing, which I knew from the audition that I was not good at. Why, in God's name, it took me until now to get this through my thick skull, I don't know.

I would like to go on punishing myself for my stupidity, but I know that time is better used by practicing for this show that means SO MUCH to me. I will not be the weak link in this show. I will do what I promised everyone I would do. Maya Angelou said that when you know better, you do better. So now I know. 

It's time to DO!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


I get to say a few lines (ok, one line that I repeat) in Tommy!!!! I get to play the "middle aged vendor" who the hooligans steal newspapers from during "Miracle Cure"! I actually get to say something, in an accent! (I've been perfecting a British accent since falling madly in love with Duran Duran when I was 12! Like, in private. I'm no weirdo.) And, it's a pretty good accent, if I do say so myself. John Taylor would be proud.

I can't believe that ANOTHER dream come true is coming true! I mean, being in the show was something I never thought I'd do. Actually saying a few words during the show? Never never ever thought I'd see the day. I'm blown away. 

In other updates, I still don't dance well. I'm giving it the good ol' college try, but it's a slow process. And I got to try on my very first costume piece! Bought for me, to wear as an actor! And it fit! A great rehearsal all around. There are also some great people reaching out to me and helping me along. I've got a little more than a month and then I step onto the stage FOR REALLY REAL. I'm trying not to think about it too much, as I enjoy sleep and would like to be able to do so for the next month.

This is happening. Really happening. Tickets are on sale, really happening.

Now I'm going to try not to think about it for a while, so I don't barf.

Monday, 23 November 2015

How to Improve for Next Time

I learned so much working on Drood, about makeup, hair, and what I needed to do to deliver better design work for the next show (FRC's 'South Pacific'). Because I don't want to forget it all by then, I'm going to put all my notes down here! Very proactive, if I do say so myself...

1.  I have to take the designs more seriously.

See, the thing is, I never want anyone to think that I think I'm better than anyone else, or that I think that the hair and makeup is SO CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF THE SHOW. So, I down play a lot of it. By trying to make myself seem unimportant, I am inadvertently making the design seem unimportant. That is a disservice to the show, because I don't take the time to explain and teach, so my hot cast members know what to do. SO,

2.  I have to start earlier on the concrete designs. 

Without a doubt, I started obsessing over the shows the minute I was asked to take part in them. In my mind, they've been a VERY BIG DEAL for months. Now I have to move to putting my ideas on paper (or on Glamzy, thanks to Allie!). A basic plan based on what I understand of the show, it's characters, the time period it's set in and all that goodness. THEN,

3.  As soon as my hot cast is cast, I will do the specific face maps,

Based on the appearance of each cast member. Those will be shared with the cast as soon as they are approved by the director. They will also be posted in the dressing rooms when the show hits the stage. ALSO,

4.  I will explain my design to the cast in more detail.

Now, my cast ladies are very, very good at bringing my designs to life, no matter how little I give them; but some people might be new to makeup or hair, or need more assistance in how to apply it/style it. I will explain exactly what products should be used and, if asked, give a demo on how to apply them. They know I'm no hair stylist, but, thank the Maker for YouTube.

5.  I'll look at the BIG PICTURE.

I love details, and I can easily get lost in the bits and pieces of designs. In the reality of theatre, some period specific details might not work when the bright lights are shining. Or, some hair looks might not stand up to dancing. This ain't a documentary. I can ease up on worrying if the 'such and such' would have been used in the 'whosey-whatsey' time/place.

So, there it is. I want to get better and better, and offer more and more to each show. So, let's get 'er done, son!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Seeing the Show!

I love working on shows. LOVE it! Every little bit of it. So much so, that I often leave out actually talking about the finished product once it hits the stage. Of course, I always go, and I always love it, but I usually don't say much about it. I'm going to fix that straight away!

Through a nasty surprise snow storm, I travelled with my Ma to see 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood', our labour of love, on Tuesday night.

It was phenomenal. The set was gorgeous, the acting was spectacular, the music was amazing. I laughed and sang and hooted and hollered my way through. That's the great part about being new to the scene, I think. I still fall for the magic of the theatre, even though I know what has gone into it behind the curtain. It's just so REAL. You can get right into the show, and in the case of Drood, you even get to determine the ending! This is why I love theatre best. You can feel the show right in your gut. You can see the sparkle in an actor's eye, hear and feel the rumble and twinkle of the beautiful voices as they sing. It gives me goosebumps, and I hope it always will.

My friends become these fabulous characters, and I am dazzled by their talent. How do these people sing and dance and act so well? I know most people are all about movies and TV; but, for me, it's theatre. I hope I am welcome to be a part of it for a very long time.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

When People are Better than You at Stuff

So, here's a thing you will discover when you dive into something you love: There will be people already doing the thing you love, the thing you want to be SO GOOD AT, who are better at than you are.

You have two choices to make, but only one that will make you feel good for the long term: you can quit the thing and leave, or you can face the fear and learn. Now, I am so much better at accepting this when it is about sewing. I know I'm an advanced beginner sewer at best, and it doesn't bother me. I happily soak up all the knowledge I can from my mentors and hope I get better. I do what I can and am proud of improvement I make.

But it's different with makeup. For a long time, I dreamed of becoming a makeup artist, primarily working in the theatre. Unfortunately, fear, finances and an unsupportive ex kept me from really pursuing that dream until my wonderful new hubs came along. Even then, a six week course in "Makeup Artistry" hardly makes me a winner of Face Off (if you watch that show...). So, mostly, it's been a "learn as you go" thing for me. But, as I REALLY REALLY WANT TO BE SUPER GREAT AT IT, my ego about it is bare, raw, and extremely insecure. 

So, when I see someone who is just an awesome, amazingly talented natural at painting on people, I forget all the logical "there's a place for everyone" arguments and deflate faster than a balloon at a two-year-old's birthday party. WHICH IS ALL ON ME AND SOMETHING I MUST CHANGE. I must get to the part of me that is accepting of my limitations and excited to grow, like with sewing.

People suggest that you need to "have confidence", but I don't know how to do that. Guess the therapist has a new angle for me to work on. Let me tell you, friends: following your dreams brings out the best and the worst in you. Come with me and watch how I start to trust there is a place for everyone, to remember to sit at the feet of the masters and LEARN!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Just need to squeeze out the Poison

I'm not going to share this one on the Facebook, because I think people are probably sick of hearing about it. As sick as I am of feeling it. But I have to get it out of my head somewhere. 

I've had a rough week, filled with panic attacks, chest pain, nightmares, and depression. I think it's a combination of a few things. It's getting darker much earlier now, so that ol' pain in the ass, Seasonal Affective Disorder is rearing it's ugly head. I never thought this was a problem for me, since I love the fall, and especially Christmas; but, my ex-husband, who was a sufferer, thought it might be a monkey on my back, too. 

I'm also feeling like I am doing a crap job at everything I'm doing right now.

I've been feeling very disconnected, very tired, very sad. I can't feel anyone's love for me, no matter how much they are showing it. I feel like I am dragging a ball and chain, and it's pulling me into that pit of anxiety, self hatred, and depression. 

Nobody wants you here. 
You suck at everything you do. 
Everyone is so sick of you and just tolerates you because they are nice.
You are a terrible wife and mother.

Everyone hates you. And they are right to feel that way, because you are a horrible, pathetic, sickening person.

I am going to fight it this year with daily exercise, since that's the one thing that seems to help. I wish cuddling up with a blanket and a book was effective, but, nah...

I'm sorry to whoever reads this. I know it is pathetic. I hate it. But keeping it inside became too much.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

First rehearsal in the new shoes! And insecurity!

And my feet only hurt! It isn't so bad that I've lost my will to live! The other ladies say they hurt anyway until you break them in, so I have hope. In the shoes.

Now, in my acting/singing/dancing? I'm not so sure. I'm going to keep working on everything as hard as I can, no doubt; but I'm worried. Of course. But more than my normal worried. You know what I wish? I wish I could cut myself slack, get out of my head, trust myself, insert whatever statement you can think of that is encouraging. Instead, I find myself barely holding in a desperate need for feedback, for encouragement, for praise from the others. And there is very little else I hate in myself as much as I hate this.

I hate this pathetic, desperate feeling. I hate that it is inside me. I hate that there doesn't seem to be any medication/meditation/intervention that can purge it out of me. Maybe I'm not cut out for this side of the stage.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Baby's First Theatre Show!

Thanks to a good friend, Baby 16 (ok, she's 5 years old, but still...) got to go to her very first theatre show last night--StoryBook Theatre's 'Cinderella: The Tale of the Glass Slipper'! Miss Sam* and I got to bring Short Pants into the fold. The verdict? She totally loved it. If you are worried that your wee ones might not enjoy a live theatre experience, as I was, maybe give it a shot! 

Baby 16 is sensitive to loud noise and does not have the attention span for a movie, so I thought this might be the right venue for her first show. With a run time of 75 minutes with no intermission, it was the perfect length of time for her kindergarten self. She was fascinated by the technical aspects of the set (she has a real future on production teams!) but was still totally amazed by the theatre magic, when the Fairy Godmother and Cinderella's costumes transformed from shlumpy work clothes to beautiful ball gowns. I wish I could have captured her reaction on camera. It was the reason why we do all the hard work--that moment utter amazement, thrill, and joy. Full on "I just won the lottery?! OH MY GOD!!!" reaction. It was my favourite part of the night.

She was so into the show, she didn't even ask for her snacks! It was indeed a magical night. Thank you, StoryBook, for providing shows like this for families. It was a tight, excellent production with great acting and fabulous singing. And thank you again, Miss Sam, for the tickets, and for totally understanding my shy kid.

*Note: I refer to my friends with a prefix when my kid is around. I think it's respectful.

Another Note:  Although I am volunteering for my first StoryBook show this season, no one asked me to review this show. Hell, I can't believe anyone actually takes some of their precious time to even read this diary of mine, much less ask me to do reviews and whatnot. Thank you, readers. I appreciate it!


Sunday, 18 October 2015

My brain is still a jerk.

The last few weeks have been rough. I'm not even 100% sure why. One theory is that it is tough to be the person who is the most green in the situations. I am still a very weak dancer, and I am still shaking in my shoes during rehearsals for Tommy. 

You know what I need? A solid plan for sticking to the hard times with some mental and emotional toughness. Rather than diving head long into the spiral of depression and sadness, to forward to the small improvements I'm bound to make as long as I work hard.

My jerk brain is pulling out all the stops to get me to protect it and avoid what I'm afraid of. To quit and hide. To shrink my expectations and dreams back to a size that is non-threatening. This is the first time I've ever wanted to keep going, keep trying, not give up. It's exhausting.

Any tips on how to give my head a shake would be appreciated. I refuse to give in, to give up.

Friday, 9 October 2015


This lady.

One day, about 8 years ago, I decided that I really wanted to sing again, in an organized, teacher-driven way. I was still in my home city of Edmonton, living by West Edmonton Mall. So, I looked in my local Yellow Pages (they still had those then, shut up) and chose a music school that was located in the Mall. Since I didn't drive, it was really easy to get to on the bus. There was my careful vocal education selection criteria. Can I get there easily? 

So, Imagine how damned lucky I felt when I nervously attended my first class with this beautiful person. And then she sang, and I had never heard anyone sing like that in real life. Full on, real, live, opera. I stumbled into a school filled mostly with kids to find one of the greatest singers and the finest voice teacher I've ever known. This lady made me start thinking that maybe, just maybe, I might actually be a good singer; because she thought so. And if a lady with her ability and education thought so, it might be true.

That's where she got her nickname of Teacher--as in "Teacher says I can." And I did. She had me singing Italian, French and German; and, damn it if I wasn't a loud singing soprano after all. She lives in Germany now, teaching music and directing/performing in shows. And I miss her all the time, until today, when she drove on down to see me. Karin Asselstine, my Teacher, you gave me music, some confidence, and best of all, your friendship. I love you.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Totally. Freaking. Out.

So, I got the shoe situation worked out, thanks to Jeremy at LaSyd's Dancewear. Much shorter heel=much more comfortable shoe.

So, this afternoon, I had planned to "plunk" in the parts for the songs that I have to sing in's website, so I can practice at home. Unfortunately, it is just way too advanced for me. I don't understand how to read music well enough to input the notes in the first place. 


I'm trying not to spiral downward. BUT. I can't figure out how to practice the songs at home, and my stupid body is failing me, and I can't dance, and WHAT IF I SUCK?? 

It's a terrible, no good, very bad day.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Agony of The Feet

I've always had foot pain. Always. When I was a child, when I was a thin teenager; and when I was a thin adult. My damn feet have always been the ruin of my shoe dreams, the curse of my standing in line nightmares, and the tool of my sporting failures. Ok. Maybe I can't blame my lack of physical skill solely on my feet (see what I did there? Tee hee). But my feet have always made me miserable.

Why am I bitching about my stupid feet? Because I wore my character shoes for the first time, for an extended period of time. It was an unholy nightmare of pain. If I can not stand standing in the damn things, how in Hell am I going to dance in them?* And why can other ladies wear heels and be fine!? They look all awesome and hot; and I'm hobbling around like my feet are on fire, or have nails driven into them. 

*By "dance", I mean "try my damnedest not to trip over my own two (apparently left) feet".

Thankfully, the dance shoe people have a solution for me. Shorter heels! It seems that 2" heels are as brutal to me as stilettos; so, I'll go to the good people at "local dance supply store" and get help. I pray to whomever is listening that the shorter heels help. I swear, I thought my toes were going to pop from the pressure. Ewwwww. Wish me luck!

This post was going to be regaling you with stories of how much I suck in jazz class. About how I dance like I have either a) never heard music, or b) hate music. About how I can't get out of my obsession with the steps to actually dance to the song. But I'm trying to cut myself some slack. It was, after all, only my second class. Stupid Debbie Allen. Stupid TV. 

Also, they don't need Ensemble Person #2 in all the rehearsals, which does make me a bit sad. I'm learning from home, though! God Bless the makers of music theory and piano apps.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

What is it with me and Read Through meetings?

We had our read through (where the design team shares their vision for the show and the cast read through the script and listen to the show music) for Tommy today. As with the read through for Drood; I was really excited before I got there, and then terrified once I was there. I really felt strange, not being on the production team side. The cast side involves a lot of socializing, and we all know how great I am at that! Why is it that when I feel like I'm losing my mind, everyone else looks so calm and confident? 

Well, at least I didn't cry all the way home after this one. 

But yes, THE ANXIETY was set at 11, with the knob broken clean off the meter. I want to do everything right. I want to be an asset to the show. The ideas the team has are so good, I'd hate myself (more) if I suck at delivering them. I am scared, man. Scared out of my wits. 

5, 6, 7, 8...

Dance class, specifically Beginner Jazz, started last night! It's safe to say that my hopes of natural dance talent are squashed, but I did better than I thought. I do have rhythm, but I get so focused on watching Danielle's feet that I forget to listen to the music and dance with it!

Step, touch, step, together, now, roll the shoulders if you can...and I can't. Not at the same time, anyway.

See, those who know me know I'm a fat person. No need to try to hush me--I'm using fat as an adjective, the same as I am a blonde person. I don't use it as an insult; it's a fact that doesn't make me, or anyone else, any less valuable as a person. Anyway, the fat around my abdomen makes it hard for me to do balance poses and whatnot, so I need to work on the ol' core. I was wobbling more than a baby colt out there in my "jazz shoes". So you know, jazz shoes are "shoes" the way tissues are "paper"--not one bit of support in those glorified leather socks! At the same time as my feet were angry (my big toes are still bitter), I could not have been happier in those "shoes".

I've always dreamed of dancing, ever since watching "Fame" as a tween on the TV. Every week, I'd be glued to the screen, wishing I could go to that kick ass school. Damn show...blame Debbie Allen, toes! It's all her fault. Now, my Debbie is named Danielle, and she is much nicer and more patient with me. She has to be, folks. I'm out there, flailing around, but I'm loving it. Let's do this again next week, shall we?

Everyone, JAZZ HANDS!!!!

Friday, 25 September 2015


I got it! I'm in the ensemble!!! After six months of being obsessed with this damn show, my dream has come true!!! 

I still can't believe it. I don't even know what to say. I'm gobsmacked!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who held my hand through this process, to my family for letting me do this...holy crap! It's real!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

I hear you, Tom Petty. I am the most impatient person EVER. I hate waiting so much, I was even BORN six weeks early. 

But then, you go out for something you really, REALLY want, and you have to wait to see if you got it. You have to distract yourself and try not to think about THE THING. I am also terrible at that. The Anxiety has a rotten side effect of obsessive thinking. So, instead of distracting myself, THE THING is the only thing I can think about. Thankfully, the excellent show I'm helping on, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, has kept me busy for some of the wait time. The rest of the time, my mind keeps churning over the possibilities: "Did I do well enough during my audition?" "I know I'm totally inexperienced! But I do spend a lot of my life trying to act normal!" "Am I the puzzle piece they are looking for?"

Gaaaaaaah! And why do acting classes have to cost so much? I don't see ever getting a paying acting gig, so I don't think the Hubs would be on board to pay anything much for a lesson. These are the things that make me so frustrated and angry that I was held back by fear for so long. All those years wasted! 

Anyway, the "call backs" for the show are tomorrow evening; but, so far, I haven't been called back. Apparently they only contact you for call backs if they want to see "something else" from you (whatever that means). It doesn't mean they won't be casting you, and it doesn't guarantee that they will cast you. So I won't know anything until Thursday at the earliest?


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Yes, Coffee Cup, I do.

My "Inside Out" coffee cup. If anyone on Earth should own this cup, I should.

I was thinking the other night about many things: Victorian hairstyles mostly (because I'm doing the Hair for Drood!!! WTF? I better not screw it up!), but also the chances I have been taking in the last year or two. About redefining what success in life means to me. Mainly because I was wondering (preparing myself) how I would handle it if/when I find out that I didn't get a part in "Tommy". Why wouldn't I be crushed, humiliated, devastated? 

Here's what I realized: EVERYTHING about this whole theatre experience is a Dream Come True for me.

Got an FRC pen and pencil to go with the Drood binder with my name on it? Yep. 
Taking a (much needed) dance class? Yep. (I'll try my best!)
Being able to be backstage, helping at shows? Yep. 
Being in a program? Yep. 
Getting a square of paper, indicating that I am on the cast and crew of a show and must park here? Yep. 
Walk in a Pride parade, supporting my beliefs? Yep. 
Taking an auditioning class? Yep.
Auditioning for a show? Damn straight Yep. ESPECIALLY YEP.

All of it, every moment/event/piece of paper is a dream come true. And here's why: these are all things I was sure I would be too afraid to EVER take part in. THE ANXIETY has kept my life very small. I have always been "too afraid to try that". "That" included a whole massive shwackload of things I loved, admired, hoped for, dreamed about my entire life. Things that were not on a "bucket list" because I never, EVER thought I would be able to overcome the intense anxiety that I felt. EVER. I was sure I would die before having the courage to do anything I dreamed of. But now, the desire has finally outgrown the fear.

So, if you're ever wondering why I'm excited about things that seem so small, that's why. And why I'll probably never lend you a pen again.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Fender Bender

I did it!!!! I had my first audition, and I think I did ok! The singing part went well, I think, but the dancing? Meh. I'm no dancer at this point, let me tell you that. Man, when I was a kid and a teenager, I LOVED dancing. I watched the TV show "Fame" and dreamed of going to a school like that. Dancing, singing, acting, all that awesomeness. Then THE ANXIETY took over my life and I stopped doing anything that might draw attention to me. My dreams went to the back burner of a stove in another house in another universe.

But today, I was determined to put all of that behind me. Sorry, Fear, you lose today. Not even the minor fender bender I got into RIGHT BEFORE THE EFFIN' AUDITION was going to stop me (but it did help me temper my panic with shame and disappointed in myself early). And I'm signed up for a Jazz class at the theatre, so hopefully Danielle can help me get my head and feet around it all! I have complete faith in her. In me? Not so much...

I feel sort of in a fog right now. It's the post freak out exhaustion. I hope to snap out of it so I can truly enjoy the experience and show my profound gratitude to all those who helped me get through this and enjoy it! 

Now, I know it will be hard to go about your lives with your fingers crossed for me; but I'd appreciate all the good luck you can send! Man, I want to be in this show!

Now, to focus on learning Victorian hairstyles for Drood!

Friday, 11 September 2015


Sweet Holy Mother, my audition is TOMORROW!!!

Are you screaming inside? BECAUSE I AM!!!

I am very, very frightened. Like I was before my driver's tests. Yes, plural, tests. It took me a whopping EIGHT tries to pass my driving test (over the course of two decades. It took a while to build up the courage to try again.) Not because I cannot drive, but because of (I bet you've guessed it already) THE ANXIETY. I would have a panic attack during each try, and I needed treatment and medication to finally get it done. It was one of the three happiest days of my life; and it was two years ago, today. 

And tomorrow? Equally as terrifying, hopefully a lot more successful! I have the song memorized, I have the acting ideas in my head, and now I have to DO THE THING. Thankfully, I have my last auditioning class right before my actual audition; so I'll be as prepared as possible. 

My stomach hurts. I want my mommy.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Acting and singing is fun!

So, when you sing at a recital or in your choir, the goal is to stand basically still and sing the song as close to perfectly as you can. We all know I have never acted, so my obsessive focus has been on this song. Memorizing the lyrics, trying my best to sing it the best I can. Standing still.

So, you know when they say an actor is wooden? Yeah. There is THE MOVEMENT in the acting. And, what is actually really awesome? Being perfect isn't a goal! I mean, you better get the words right, and you should sound "good" (whatever that means to who is casting the show), but you are supposed to MOVE. To give life to the story behind the words. 

And that is freakin' FUN! And exciting! And scary, but in a good way! I loved it! I could just let it go and get right into the song, like when I was a teenager and everything was VERY IMPORTANT AND EMOTIONAL. And the best part? The most unbelievable, surreal part?

I wasn't anxious. 

Go ahead, read it again. I don't believe it either. 

I wasn't afraid, embarrassed, anxious, filled with fear. I don't know why, any more than I could explain astrophysics. I should have been terrified. I should have hated every minute of standing in front of people, singing and acting (it wasn't Shakespeare, but it wasn't bad for a first timer!). But I didn't, and I wasn't.

I don't want to alarm anyone, but I also handled my girl starting kindergarten this week without crying my eyes out. I may have had some kind of psychotic break. Just saying.

Saturday, 29 August 2015


I wanted to blow people away. I wanted them to be amazed that I could be hiding all this unbelievable talent all these years. 

Instead, I panicked. I didn't practice with the accompaniment track. I got lost, could not keep tempo, and then blanked on the lyrics.

I'm trying to cut myself more slack. It was the first time I had done anything like this. No teacher cueing me when to start.  And the version I did of "Here I Go Again" (my driving song, and a song I've been singing along with for almost 30 years) wasn't bad. 

Lindsay is incredibly supportive and encouraging, but I could not feel more disappointed in myself. I know this song. I have it memorized. It sounds good at home. I even took my meds before I went! But I didn't cry. So, that's a plus.

I don't want to just be the funny fat lady. How can I channel all I've gone through over the years to bring out more depth?

Friday, 28 August 2015


I've been spending some quality time with the song we've chosen for my audition: Nobody's Side, from Chess. Thanks to the good people of Wikipedia, I now know more about that musical than the 80s hit, "One Night In Bangkok". Yes, we've established that I'm a former teen of the 80s (which is a much nicer way to say "I am old"). Also, did you know that the two guys from Abba wrote the music for this show? We loved Abba when I was a kid! Thanks, Mom!

Anyway, back to the song. Right now, my stupid throat is hurting (because of forest fire smoke? Because of fear? Little bit of column A, little bit of column B), so I've just been listening to the song on loop, committing the lyrics and sound to memory. See, my thought is this: memorize the song so completely that I could sing it if I were awoken from a coma. Because THE ANXIETY could cause me to collapse from fear, and the show must go on, right? Psychotic break or not, I AM SINGING THIS SONG ON SEPTEMBER 12. Unfortunately for THE FEAR, THE DESIRE to live and "do things" has grown stronger. Suck on that, FEAR. 

So, that's what's up with that! MEMORIZE!!! Also, Elaine Paige kicks ass. Go, go to the YouTube and enjoy. I wore my hair that way back in the day!

Monday, 24 August 2015

CATs, audition classes, and Always Trusting Jamie

It was a big, fat theatre weekend for me! The incomparable Magz Ross asked me to be her guest to the Calgary community theatre awards after our friend (and wicked seamstress) Kim Johnson, couldn't make it. They were nominated, along with many great friends, for their work on Anything Goes. As I predicted, AG cleaned up, bringing home a whopping 8 awards! I was a very proud member of Team Eastgaard-Ross that night! The only down side was my outfit. Tights were cutting into my thighs, my feet hurt from wearing fancy shoes (not to mention that I couldn't make it off the carpet with heels on), and I felt worried that my skirt was too short. It's a whole lotta Shan that I don't want to show off. I vote that next year's awards have a yoga pants theme.

Earlier the same day, I got the pleasure of joining an auditioning class run by Front Row Centre; and it was awesome! I got to read my very first monologue, IN FRONT OF PEOPLE! And I VOLUNTEERED to go first! (Who is this crazy woman, and what has she done with me? Or, was I just hiding?) The wonderful Lindsay Kurtze is our instructor, and she reminds me so much of my beloved voice teacher, Karin Asselstine. Damn, I miss you, Teacher! Anyway, Lindsay said I did ok with the acting! Not bad for my first attempt ever. Thank you to everyone for holding my hand. I, like Ebenezer Scrooge, know that I don't know anything.

"I don't know anything
I never did know anything
But now I know that I don't know
Upon this Christmas morning!"

(Yes, I love the version of A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim. No, I am not sorry for Christmas movie quotes in August. No, that does not make it my fault that it snowed here on August 20.)

I do feel a bit sad that I wasted all these years in fear. I know that there isn't any point in it, but sometimes I do wish I had been different. I just have to go for it now, and make up for the time lost. Jamie picked a few excellent songs for me to choose from for the audition, including "our song", Wig In The Box from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. We listened to that as I did his makeup for each show during the run of Jesus Christ Superstar, and I holds such a special place in my heart. And at least I know what an 8-track is (look at me, using musical theatre jokes!)!

I love this all so much. I am a lucky woman to be able to have my family and live this dream.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Going for it!

I booked my audition time!
Can you hardly believe it? I can't!

Yes, I'm completely freaking out. Yes, I am scared shitless. Yes, I want my Mommy (good thing she moved back here). Buuuuuuuuuuttttt...

I HAVE to do this. There is a quote from Anais Nin that I read a few years back that really hit me square in the feels...
Before we moved to Calgary, this was exactly how I was feeling. And now, I feel this way all the time. No matter how frightening, no matter how filled with anxiety, no matter if I fail miserably, I must TRY. After all these years, my dreams have gotten bigger than my fear. It started with moving, continued with finally getting my driver's license (the biggest fear I've ever faced, short of death), and is now this audition and (God willing, or production team, whoever is first) performing in a show.

I will give it my all, and if I'm not right for this show, I'll gather up the courage to try again for another.

Let's see how it goes, hey?

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

It's REAL!!!!!!!

THE AUDITION NOTICE IS FINALLY UP. The show I have been dreaming about since the new Front Row Centre 2015/2016 season was announced: The Who's Tommy. 

See, I'm a old rock 'n roller from way back. Alice In Chains, Seether, Pearl Jam, etc., I could go on forever. Not to give away a lady's age, but I even had a Union Jack t-shirt to express my Def Leppard love in (gasp!) 1983!!!! 

Ok, I needed to have a lie down, since I'm such an old lady. But you get my drift. I have been in love with rock music since I was in short pants. So, here I am, faced with "Put Up or Shut Up" time. I have finally gotten to the age when I can't hide behind my fears anymore; I have to get out there and live my damn dreams!

That sounds really motivational and whatnot, hey? We all know I'm scared out of my wits; but I have supportive, loving people coming along with me for this ride. Jamie will crack the whip and get me as ready for this as I can be, I'll lay it all on the line, and then I'll hope for the best. And now to prepare/obsess...the middle of September is ass kicking time!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

And the winner is...FEAR!

No surprise there. The bottom line truth is that I am "throw-up-a-little-in-my-mouth" terrified to audition. Do you want a list of my horrific fears? Sure you do!

1.  They might think I'm terrible.
2.  I can't read music. I am really good at memorizing, especially with songs and lyrics; but I cannot read music.
3.  I have never taken dance lessons. I loved to dance as a kid/teenager, but that was a loooooooooooong time ago.
4.  I have never acted. Not even drama classes in high school.
5.  I know almost all of the people for whom I'll audition.
6.  See #1.

The theatre company has generously offered a "how to audition" workshop that coincides perfectly with auditions for the show I want to go for (it's TOMMY, OK??!! I want to audition for FRC's Tommy. There, I said it.); but, unfortunately, I can't afford it right now. So, I will ask my dear friend, Jamie, if I can take him up on his offer to help me. If I can work up the nerve.

Gah! Why can't I just be happy doing what I'm doing?!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Acceptance or Fear?

We know I'm very tired right now. Ok, maybe not RIGHT now, because we're on a weekend break from shooting the movie. But, in general, I'm a tired person. Probably a combination of late nights and the mental stress of doing all of these things that are so far out of my comfort zone. At any rate, it's all made me wonder about something: 

Do I have the energy/endurance/stamina, whatever word you want to use, to participate as a cast member of a theatre production?

I have figured out that I do need some down time/time to myself (though not nearly as much as I thought), and that many days in a row of being away from home will burn me out and fill me with guilt that I'm not doing what I should for my family. I also do have some knee pain and am overweight.


Am I just talking myself OUT of auditioning because I'm really AFRAID? Am I coming up with rationalizations for not trying due to my anxiety and self hate? 

I know it's putting the cart in front of the horse, as there is no guarantee whatsoever that an audition would end up with me actually getting a part. Being able to sing does not mean that you are right for a particular part or show. BUT, WHAT IF I DID get so lucky as to be chosen?

I hate being this way. I hate not being able to trust my thoughts, but I've talked myself out of or into doing things because of fear many times in the past (see: my first marriage). I don't want to end up regretting...

Like everyone, I have overcome a lot when I really want or believe in something. Like most everyone, maybe I need to give myself more credit.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Sometimes Coffee Ain't Enough

Which is blasphemous for me to say, with my deeply expressed love for coffee well known; but it's true. I'm so tired! Late nights on a movie location wears me out! But, as I read that over, I am reminded of all the times I'd read that in interviews with celebrities (which I am NOT) and thought, "Oh, shut up!" Complaining that the awesome thing has less than awesome parts to it seems totally douchey. So I'll stop the bitching right here.

In driving to and from the locations, I'm spending a lot of quality time listening to the "original cast recording"* of The Mystery of Edwin Drood; and I really love it. Great songs and some unbelievable singers. Our cast is going to be using the tough, super fast part of "Both Sides of the Coin" for a diction exercise (tough as HELL, I tell you); and I want to learn it, too. Solidarity, you know? It's a way for me to feel more a part of things, without the embarrassment of the others hearing me fail! Brilliant! 

*not to be confused with a "soundtrack" for movies and TV and whatnot, from what I hear.

Here it is, so you can listen, too! far, I have the "la...lalalalala....lala...lala LALA!" part down pat. Yay me!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Thank You

After my meltdown, a number of wonderful people reached out to me to show support and caring. I feel like there is no way to really thank people appropriately; but you know who you are, and I hope the squishy Shan hugs showed my appreciation. 

What they also showed me is how differently reality can be from what is going on in my head during the ANXIETY and PANIC. In this situation, again, my perception of what was happening was way off. Hopefully, I can remember that during the next "moment". Everyone liked the direction I have for the Drood makeup, so "Off to the races, we go!"

Oh, and the movie? It's going really well! I've met some great people, too! Really good acting from local talent like Sally Cacic, Sarah Troyer; and a guy who had an explosively fantastic scene yesterday, Mike Burritt. Thank you again to my buddy, Kris Mish, for giving me this chance. In the end, I really think my heart is in that crazy musical theatre, though. I miss the songs! I miss the dance! I miss the sewing!

More movie adventures this weekend. I'm going to need a few solid days of sleep after this is through!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Bad Timing, that's all

The ANXIETY and self-loathing had me tight in it's grip tonight. Remember that part in the Lord Of The Rings movies*, where Gollum says to himself, "Nobody likes you. You don't HAVE any friends!" That's what it was like in my head tonight. It was the read through of the new show I'm doing makeup for, and I was so excited to be able to make it (I was supposed to be on the movie set--another place I don't feel good enough to be). But, we wrapped early (ooooo, look at me, using the correct terminology and all that). So, I got there on time. 

From the second I walked in the door, the hateful diatribe began in my head. No one likes you, no one wants you here. You're not good at anything and they are going to hate what you show them. But, guess what? I can cry AND drive at the same time and not get in an accident. Ugh. 

As the late, great, Freddie Mercury once sang, "The show must go on!", and so must I. I hate you as much as you hate me, ANXIETY.

*If you don't remember or don't like the LOTR movies, I would say we can't be friends. But I need the friends, so, I forgive you.

Saturday, 18 July 2015


Day 1 of the movie was great. It's a dream come true! I feel like this is a second half of life, one where I can take some chances. I'm finally at an age where I can benefit from some maturity and experience, so I am more willing to "put myself out there." I was so glad to help, and I felt like a little kid! Kris handed me a radio, and I squealed with glee. He had me sign my contract, and I squealed with glee. He told me I'd get an actual CREDIT, and...well, you get it. Buddy had to deal with a whole lotta squealing and hugging. Good thing he's a patient guy. 

I didn't understand most of the technical jargon, but thankfully, Mr. 16 is a movie buff. He keeps giving me tips and condensed explanations so I don't look like too much of a noob. Until I squeal over something else...

Word to my theatrical friends: All of this is totally new, exciting, and wonderful for me. Thanks to THE ANXIETY, I spent the first half of my life too afraid to follow these passions of mine. Then I turned 40, and everything changed. So, I'm just hoping my enthusiasm is more refreshing than annoying, m'kay?

Radio! I got a radio!!! COPY THAT!!!

Thursday, 16 July 2015


Today is the first day that I will be on set for Kris' movie. THE ANXIETY is at a fever pitch! 


- I'm not good enough 
- They don't like me
- I get lost on the way
- I don't have everything I need
- and a million other fears come true???

Google Maps checked and printed ✔️
List for wardrobe kit made ✔️
Trip to sewing store for odds and ends planned ✔️
Call Sheet printed ✔️

I'm so nervous!!! Wish me luck, and any prayers/good vibes you send my way will be much appreciated!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Tips for Successful Volunteering!

It's damn scary to walk into a totally new environment, knowing not a single person. But, when you really want to be a part of something, you have to swallow that GIANT BALL OF FEAR (or whatever size yours is) and give it a try. Once you're there? Here are my newbie tips for having a great time and being a big help to the team :

1. Leave your Ego at Home

To really add to a team and get the most out of your experience, you have to accept that you are the newb. There is so much to learn; and so much fun to be had, when you are willing to dive in and help, no matter what the task. In every volunteer-run organization, there is a metric buttload of things to get done. Some of them are more "sexy" than others, with more excitement and flash; but every task is important, no matter how small. The great part is that, if you have volunteered for something you love, even the small, unsexy tasks become part of the fun. 

2.  Be nice.

Nobody is expecting you to kiss butts, but do remember to be polite and friendly. Like my Mom always says, "Put on your party manners." Everyone is there to reach the same goal. You don't have to love everyone, nor will they all love you (even though they should, because you're AWESOME), but being polite and friendly makes everything better. The theatre is a happy place for me, something I do for fun. If there is drama, I leave it for the stage.

3. Always ask if there is something you can do to help!

Shit gets BUSY in any VRO (my new, made up acronym for "volunteer run organization"). People get very busy and focused on what they are doing, so they might forget about you. The onus is on you to ask where you can help and what you can do. Just ask! I know you're nervous! I know you're new! But soon, you won't be the new person. You'll be the person who always looks for someone to help and something to do. Helpers rule!

4. Learn!

You will be dealing with a lot of people who are very experienced in doing things you love (that's why you showed up, right?). Suck up all of the knowledge you can like the sponge you are! Whatever it is you are into, VROs are filled with enthusiastic people who are happy to share what they know. You get a master class you only have to pay for with your time! 

Those are the biggies. Pick a VRO doing something you are passionate about and get in there! They need you and you need them. It's a cliche because it's true--I've gotten far more out of my experience than I have given. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

A brief pause for a freak out!

Sometimes you just need to pause and thank the Maker for the good things coming your way, which is hard to do when you are otherwise occupied with the ANXIETY. And sometimes you need to be grateful that you were raised to be a nice, hard-working person. Because sometimes great things happen when you least expect them to.

Like a great guy you met during your new theatre adventures, who then asks you if you'd like to help with wardrobe ON HIS MOVIE!!!! And you think, who, me? The suburban, stay-at-home mom? The woman who is still kind of afraid of her own shadow (bitch'll sneak up on you)?

Thank you, Kris. Thank you so much.

Also, are we noticing a running theme of cool people named Kris or Chris in my life? There are two more, by the way. A dear friend back home in Edmonton, and my first friend--my brother!

It's a good day to be Shan.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Why 16?

I haven't explained the name yet! Front Row Centre does 16 showings during a production's run, that's why. Every theatre company seems to have different run lengths, and this is it for FRC. You know what? It's not long enough for me. I miss each show when it ends (which is apparently a thing. Post show funk.) As I sit here on my sofa, I miss the people, the music, the excitement. So, what happens? You (or me, in this case) volunteer for ALL THE SHOWS!! I would do any (legal) job, help with any task, to be a part of it. Thankfully, Mr. 16 is a loving, supportive partner, so he pulls the parenting load for the time I'm away. Also thankfully, Little 16 has always been an "early to bed and (not as great) early to rise" kind of kid. 

So, that's all there is to it...sorry it's not a more mysterious story behind the name. Next time, we enter real mystery! The next show I have the pleasure to help with? 

The Mystery of Edwin Drood! 


Thursday, 9 July 2015

And then there's Magz

This is a gush post, so, git ready, ladies and gents...

During a final blitz of costume sewing before JCS opened, Christine with a C introduced me to a woman who would quickly become my mentor and beloved friend, my "brother from another mother"'s mother, Magz Ross. Now, I was decidedly Team Eastgaard-Ross already (love you, J & S); but with Magz, I fell madly in platonic love! This woman has forgotten more about sewing than I could ever know, but she kindly and deftly took me under her wing. She knows what to give me that tests and challenges me, without leaving me in a sobbing pile on the floor. She befriended me and made me cut myself some all important slack when it came to my (many) mistakes. Many new mottos have become a part of how I do business, but here's LIFE SEWING LESSON #1:

Meme truth is true! Also included in meme is a dress I sewed for the next FRC production I begged to work on: the JER directed, Kristine with a K produced, ANYTHING GOES! I jumped into costume sewing with both feet for this show; and I loved every pin-pricked, hunched over, machine whirring minute! (FUN FACT: I keep track of how much time I take to make things, in my sewing journal. Total time on AG costumes? 108 hours!). I am grateful to you and love you, Magz! 

Costume design for a show is a full time job, and both Christine with a C and Magz busted their asses on their shows. The talent, effort, and skill it takes cannot be understated or underestimated. I am so grateful that they let a grade 9 Home Ec hack like myself touch the pretties! I met and learned from so many talented sewers (Kim, Darcie, Lou, Sandy, Frank, Phaedra). I hope to be sewing my fingers off for all of them as the years go on! Thank you for being great and helpful friends!

Also, if you missed out on seeing Anything Goes, I feel bad. It was fantastic! The cast sang and danced their beautifully clothed tails off! And special love goes to Megan, who actually BOUGHT the coat (which was supposed to be a jacket, but I cut the bottom part wrong) I made for her to wear in the show:
Meg and my Magz, fitting the coat!

See you next time!


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

When the "Makeup Artist" meets the Costumers

I love makeup. I am usually far too tired or lazy to wear it myself, but I love painting on people. I love learning how to do special effects makeup--it's exhilarating to create something with creams and colour that takes actor to character. Wanna know what else is just as fabulous? COSTUMING!!! 

I have loved to sew since I was a kid in Home Economics. Having my daughter reignited my love, since I could whip up gorgeous, frilly little dresses to my heart's content. So, when I joined the JCS production team, I introduced myself to the costume designer (the lovely Christine with a C Brown, who also design clothes for gee own label, Gaia Chan, whose link I will also put up as soon as I learn how!). Since community theatre is all about helping out wherever you can with whatever you can, it brings a better show to the people if you roll up your sleeves and pitch in. Lovely Christine let me help her; and thanks to her, I got to sew tear away trousers for the handsome DS! Together, she and I created a damn hot looking cast, if I must say so myself! I do believe I have a real future in stripper clothing, too, so a real career booster.

What I found in helping sew costumes was:

1) I know nothing about sewing, compared to Costumers, and,
2) I will sew until I am the Hunchback of Calgary if given the chance.

So, my theatre life is full of fun, new experiences, and a metric tonne of learning. I don't care that I KNOW NOTHING. I feel like a sponge, happy to sop up all the knowledge I can from these incredibly talented folks. I hope everyone finds something to do that they love as much. It has made me a happier person, and a better wife and mother. The thing is, we've created an impossible standard for parents to live up to, and so are ending up with exhausted, frustrated people with nothing they do "just for themselves." I don't want my daughter to learn that example. I want her to live life; and participate in all the activities she can, including parenthood, if she chooses it. We're only here once, as they say.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

JE-sus Christ, SU-per Star!

Now, when I say I had been to theatrical productions, and that I had volunteered at community theatre shows; you might get the impression that I KNOW SOMETHING. You couldn't be more wrong. Like our poor, brutalized Jon Snow (who I will never believe is dead, so suck on that, show creators), I KNOW NOTHING. There are approximately Eleventy billion musical theatre productions that could be on stage at any given time (I rounded up). Of those, I have seen/been a part of 10. 


So, that makes me the new kid on the block, the one who's eyes light up when she is allowed to go backstage, the one who grins like a goof through entire performances. So, when I contacted Front Row Centre (heretofore known in this blog as FRC, because that's what they call themselves, and I am lazy) to ask if I could help out; my new buddy, Kristine with a K (because there is a Christine with a C who does Costumes) asked if I wanted to be a part of the next show, Jesus Christ Superstar.

YES, I DO/DID! So, I swallowed the ANXIETY and got Mr. 16 and Little 16 to drive me to the Beddington Community Arts Centre (because we're new to this sprawling city and I was nervous as hell). Everyone was welcoming and excited about this show, and I muddled my way through. What? You want this show to have a dirty/rock and roll vibe? I got your guy-liner right here. SPECIAL EFFECTS MAKEUP??? I'll figure out how The Lord's back will look after 39 whacks with a police baton. 

And after many sleepless nights and much stress put upon myself by myself, I DID figure it out. Then he put on his shirt and ruined all my work. EVERY NIGHT. Thanks, MB. 

I hate to rush through the description of my experiences on this show (makeup, helping with costumes because SEWING) because it makes it seem like this show was small. IT WAS NOT. I had such an amazing time, met such unbelievably great people; and I felt the true, unadulterated joy that comes from seeing your ideas come to life on the stage. I can not and could not thank everyone enough (and believe me, I tried) for letting me be a part of this little bit of heaven. But they know. AND NOW FOR PICTURES!

Where JER (my brother from another mother) and I work together to make King Herod FABULOUS! If I wasn't Unitarian, I'd be sure I was going to Hell now. 

And so it began...join us next time for more adventures!


Saturday, 4 July 2015

Opening Post!

Welcome to 16 Shows! My little diary of my adventures in Calgary community theatre!

I've always loved theatre. I wanted to be a singer/dancer/actress from oh, I don't know, toddler-dom? Sure, that sounds about right. What got in the way, you wonder? (Or maybe you don't, because you know me and are aware of my "quirks"). ANXIETY. Big, stinking, gut-wrenching ANXIETY.  The Beast of anxiety has been my oldest frienemy, my life long companion. So, instead of the aforementioned singer/dancer/actress, I became a secretary and then stay at home mom.

But I did get a toe in the water, taking a makeup artistry class at the local college, and then I found my way to the Walterdale theatre in my home city, thanks to a lovely family friend. I had the thrill of volunteering backstage for three productions before I had my daughter. I was totally in love with it, but a new baby and no driver's license* (see Anxiety) meant an end to my days in the green room. (Once I figure out how, I'll put up a link to theatre terms for other newbies like me.)

After more life happenings, we decided to move to Calgary. Sometimes you just need a life reboot, you know? And I thought, Self, let's see if there is another theatre we could volunteer for. My friend and yours, Google, brought me to Front Row Centre Players; and thus, 16 Shows was born. I'll also link to their site once I figure out how. Not only do I know a shit ton less about the theatre than I thought, but my technical skills are also sadly not up to blogging par.

So, that's the nuts and bolts of it. Stay tuned for my screw ups and successes, and I promise not to lock the doors if you have to leave for a minute.