Dream Up

I have officially started rehearsals for the first fully staged production of “The Standard Upgrade” by Angie Montgomery and Howard Leader. Appropriately the piece will be premiering as part of the Dream Up Festival at the Theatre for a New City in the East Village. The festival will feature 23 world Premieres and  2 American Premieres. Tickets available now.

 

I say “Appropriately” as this piece of work came into my life at a turbulent time; I had just moved to a new city on little more than impulse and saw a breakdown for the first reading on Backstage.com.  My gut told me to stick with this play, and I am happy I did.  What started as a small table reading in Chelsea turned into a semi staged reading in New Haven, to  placing 6th in the Berkshire Playwrights Lab. If we had placed top five I would be doing the production in England RIGHT NOW but I digress….

We have been rehearsing at Simple Studios in Midtown, not far from The ACE Hotel.  (Check it out above- I love going here to work, sip coffee and people watch. It’s easy to let the hours slip by thanks to the open decor, great tunes, and easy vibe).

In New York there are so many hidden work spaces like Simple Studios .  You assume it won’t be crowded, but as soon as you  enter you are met by the rumble of hungry actors rehearsing, taking class, getting to know each other, generating positive energy. It’s encouraging and daunting. One is forced to think “Wow, there are so many people here that want what I want.”

We started blocking yesterday and are in a great state of play. I can’t wait to tell you more as the rehearsal process unfolds.

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We’re just warming up

Last night I performed at the Duplex Cabaret and Piano Bar in the West Village as a part of RB Embleton’s night at the Duplex Part II. This was my first Cabaret performance, so it was very cool to be doing it in the Village.

The night featured both new and old songs by the phenom RB Embleton.  There were many familiar faces from Northwestern (Waa Mu shout out!). My solo piece was a vintage song from his Northwestern days “Shop Till I Drop”. I definitely got to show some of my wild woman moves…..video footage coming soon.

 

RB also surprised us with a performance of his favorite piece by Craig Cornelia, which moved the audience to tears. RB’s music is marked by strong melody, contemporary lyrical content and beautiful counterpoint. Working on his material is always a great challenge as he allows the performer to really spread their wings and experiment.

 

On what motivates him most as a songwriter:

“I try to always give myself permission to fail, that way I’m not overly concerned with creating something perfect. I find that some of my favorite stuff I’ve written, is some of the simplest and came from just trying to have fun with an idea.”

On what he’ll miss most about NYC:

More than anything else, I’m going to miss the variety of cultures that New York represents.  I’m going to also miss my friends here and the energy that the city exudes.

RB is about to Embark on a nine month contract aboard the Ms. Prinsendam with Holland America. We wish him lots of luck and love.

Special thanks to everyone who came out.

 

Chicago’s 25 what?

Thanks to Latin School of Chicago alumni Noah Isackson I got to kick off the summer with a nice highlight in Chicago Magazine’s July issue: Chicago’s 25 High Profile Singles. (!!!!?!!!!?!)

I got the call from Noah on a Tuesday afternoon and he explained that thanks to a highlight in Latin’s alumni magazine he wanted to nominate me for the article. (Go Romans!) A month later I got an email saying I had been selected. “This should be fun,” I thought to myself, and it totally was.

The interview was done by phone, the first time I have ever really done a phone interview, and lasted about 2 hours. (y’all know I’m chatty). Nolan asked me everything from what my fave hangs were, what drives me as an actress,  to what I am looking for in a guy (to be decided.)

I was photographed with the very lovely interior design mogul Krisin Petro. Wardrobe was nautical, light and fun. Additionally hair and makeup artist Krystyn Johnson has to be one of the best professionals I have ever worked with. She was so versatile and ready for any challenge.

Maria Ponce, fashion and commercial photographer rocked.

Special thanks to the team at Chicago Mag, my family and Gray Talent Group without whom I would not have received any attention for my efforts over the past four years in theatre and television. Pick up a copy at a local store now!

 

 

Just Press Play

Music is Everything.

This week I did a collabo with the very talented Lamone Green a.k.a “SoulKlap” on The Fear. The results were stunning.

SoulKlap is a writer, producer and rapper hailing from Cleveland, OH currently based out of Williamsburg.

This was one of those collaborations you don’t forget. The writing process was easy and natural, and the song speaks very strongly to me.

  On the meaning of the track:

 “The Fear was the first song I wrote when I moved to New York last August.  It is the story of how I got here, and why I’m here.  I hope that it motivates people to rid themselves of whatever they fear whether that’s quitting a job to move, trying something new or whatever it is.”

On what inspires him most as an artist:

“Life is the best motivator.  I’ve experienced a lot, met a lot of people, collaborated with a lot of talented artists.  Just living in New York has motivated me to go hard with my music. That’s what also motivated me to title my next project Nothing To Lose, The World To Gain.”

Lamone Green

6/12/12

Listen to The Fear below.

Chorus:

“You’ve got the fear now taking over, keep your head high

forget every fear you remember.

You’ve got the fear now feel it inside, let your soul rise

forget every fear you remember.”

The Jeffs part deux

The Non-Equity Jeff Awards came and went and as expected it was a night to remember. The cast performed “The Black One” in the New Work category. Between Passing Strange and Violet, Bailiwick Chicago was nominated in over 10 categories. In addition to newly appointed Artistic Director Lili-Anne Brown, I’m expecting big things from the company in the future.

When I looked out at the audience from on stage, at all the people I have worked with over the past 4 years, I had that “so THIS  is what I’m doing with my life“.  At least I’m not the only one. Congrats to everyone for surviving another year in the life of the theatre.
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The Jeff Awards

I can’t believe it but tonight I will be performing at the Non Equity Jeff Awards in Chicago. The ceremony is taking place at the incredible Park West.  Last time I was at there I saw Raphael Saadiq who killed it. It’s a great Chicago venue with a large stage so I can’t wait.

The Jeff Awards are Chicago’s version of the Tony’s saluting the best musical and theatrical performances of the year. There are many great nominees, some familiar faces, and I salute everyone up for an award.  Last year I was also one of the hosts for the Equity Jeff Awards.

 

 

Tonight I will be performing with the cast of Passing Strange as the show is nominated for Best Musical.  Passing Strange is simply the gift that keeps on giving. Even though we ran almost a year ago the show keeps popping up again and again.  This trip was more difficult to swing (can we say GOD SAVE ME from all these Red Eye Flights?) but I know I am very fortunate for the opportunity. Performing at the Jeff’s is something I’ve always wanted to do and I can’t believe I am now getting the honor.

Look out for more info on the event 🙂

W

 

Sing Harlem SING!

Saturday was the opening of  Sing Harlem Sing!, or what we like to call “Music for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning“.

*Note: The show is currently running Saturdays at 1:00 pm, NOT at 8:00pm.

I am not sure how to really explain this show, because it is nuts. Period. Let’s just say by the end of our first performance, the audience was LITERALLY dancing in the aisles. And there were tears. That has honestly, never happened to me before, maybe when I performed at a festival. Not even.

There is something about the show that makes you feel good. The music moves me so deeply, and I think that is what excites the audience.

We pay tribute to the history of Harlem, the impact of evolving black music, and it is a great place to be on a Saturday at 1:00. We have already been extended through the summer.

Oh, our band is killer. Our drummer is 14 years old, and he eats Cheerios with a side of fierce for breakfast.

The rehearsal process was not always smooth. *Cough…I may have had a few diva moments. But I have learned a lot about starting from scratch in a big city where there are many established vocalists and performers. At the end of the day, I found my place in the cast and am excited that this will be my first Musical in NY.

Our dynamic director Ken Wydro. His wife Vy Higginson author, playwright Radio and TV personality, and himself run the Mama Foundation whose other show Mama, I Want to Sing has been running for over 30 years. If you are in the NYC area, I highly recommend that you see both shows.

*Note: The show is currently running Saturdays at 1:00 pm, NOT at 8:00pm.

Special Thanks to Gray Talent Group!

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A Debut

This weekend I made a debut of sorts out here. My first semi-staged reading of a straight play in New York…

The Standard Upgrade

We performed at the Gold Crest Screening Room attached to Gold Crest Films, this great independant production company in the Meatpacking District.

They have an award-winning post-production business and have distributed over 100 titles. I look forward to going back for a screening.

This was our third reading and the play is in the final round at Berkshires Playwright Lab which chooses 5 to 6 plays out of 700-800 to perform in the Berkshires every summer. (uhm my passport is READY!)

A beautiful day in the Meatpacking District

The area is mostly bars, restaurants and great shopping.Here is the look my character “Keisha” had goin’ on that day, great excuse to wear my glasses 🙂

The humor of the play was very well received, with some shock over a couple of scenes involving (ahem) cancer jokes and a lost condom, but I digress….

More info on The Standard Upgrade

On Set: NY edition

For Those Heavier Days…

This week I shot my first commercial booking in NY (woot woot!), a demo for Always Maxi Pads.

It was great to be on set again, especially since some of the creative team hailed from Chicago.

The story board was fun, feminine and contemporary, and the talent was wonderfully diverse. Everyone had a different story, interests and talents; which is one thing I love about working in NY. You meet so many people with each job.

Our “Sitcom” shot 🙂

Get a bunch of ladies together, dress us up and give us fab hair and make up and it is sure to be a fun shoot. Then add balloons and boas??? It’s OVER!

*Special thanks to hair, makeup, wardrobe and the commercial division at DBA.