My Life with Mamma Mia

While I had a very strong opinion of what life was like with Beauty and the Beast I have much more fondness when I recall my summer spent with Mamma Mia.  I was not originally going to audition for this show.  I didn’t really think I had a part and I was pretty insecure about my dance skills after the summer before.  I figured why not though and put my name on the list anyway.  I found a fun Fleetwood Mac song to audition with I was excited about singing.   The dance call was one of the most fun dances calls I’ve ever experienced.  I’m still surprised when when I got the email saying that I had been cast.  I will always think I’m not good enough so its genuinely as shock.

I was pretty nervous about music rehearsal.  I can’t read music and the music director is slightly intimidating.  I had flashbacks of my Les Mis audition that felt more like a cattle call then a callback.  I was immediately panicked when I was placed with the sopranos instead of the altos that I auditioned with. I can pull off singing 2nd soprano but some of the ABBA music was insane and there was only one soprano part….and that part was some kinda high!  I made it work though and was excited when my old lady pal Rachel was in my section as well.

This show had all the best things.  Fun songs, crazy dancing and just enough drama to keep you entertained.  The best part was that I was never part of the drama but it was so interesting to watch.  The only real frustration I ever had with this how as being called a “back-up singer” several times and not getting to spend a lot of time on the stage.  But our little shop studio became a home for the ensemble and we had the time of our lives.  We joked and laughed and entertained ourselves for a whole summer.  I made new friends and connected with old friends.

While I found myself completely exhausted each evening I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.  I thought Waterloo was going to kill me most nights but it was the most fun.  There were defiantly songs that no words came out of my mouth because I was so exhausted but it was still fun.  I cherish the time I spent in the dress room with my lovely ladies.  Its hard to explain what it feels like when you find a group of people who love the same things you do.  How great it is to not be the weirdo.  I was living my best life in the mirrors learning new makeup tips, singing along with Cher and bonding over the horrible nightmare outfits we donned each night. I love my Mamma Mia Fam!

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The Bee Report : First Edition

spelling bee

This weekend I embarked on my next theater adventure stage managing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  This is my second time managing a show on the main stage and the first time doing a musical on the main stage.  I am super excited about this show.  I have a wonderfully collaborative production team to work with.  Also the cast is small and is mixed with old friends and new.

The show is funny and silly and there have already been lots of laughs.  I can’t wait to experience this one.  I truly think that this time more than ever that theater will be a positive outlet for me.

Like my Mermaid Chronicles I am hoping to keep up with this show through the blog.  While I don’t have a part in this one, the part I play has many pieces to it.  It will be nice to share my stage manager adventures.  I look forward to sharing the fun, chaos and triumphs of this show.

 

 

 

I’m so old…

I posted on my Facebook about my second day of class this semester and it seemed to amuse most of my friends.  I am still trucking along taking one class a semester and attempting to work my regular job at the same time.  This semester I am taking English 2000.  This is a required writing class at LSU that every single student has to take.  There are so many sections of this class you could get lost trying to find a variation that suits you.  Most people take this class either in their freshmen or sophomore year of college.  That means my classmates on average are 12 to 13 years younger than I am.

I was excited to take this class.  I haven’t taken an English class since 2007 and its my favorite subject.  The class itself is about argumentative writing.  The particular emphasis of my section is music and culture.  If I have to write papers there are many worse things I could write about.

So I go into the first real class excited and ready to work on paper 1.  Unlike my unprepared 18 year old self I am am now an over achiever.  I already completed assignments that weren’t due for a few weeks.  I aced online quizzes in one attempt.  I had my syllabus and all materials printed and started on the project that I knew we were doing in class.  This was going to be a piece of cake.

The first paper is about a person or group, venue, album or work that has impacted your life.  I had so many ideas in my head I could not choose just one.  When it was time to brainstorm in class I settled on my number one choice being Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.  Not many people outside of the musical theater world know about this how but it was something I listened to and obsessed over last year.  I thought it was perfect.  I could write on my love of theater.  I could write on the mix of theater and literature.  I could even write about how the loss and heartache in the show resonated with me during a time of loss.

When brain storming was over we got into small groups and discussed what our number one choices were.  The first guy in my group says I’m going with Childish Gambino.  Well….the only thing I know about him is that he acts and he goes by another name.  I had never heard a song by him ever.  I chalked it up to me not being in the loop with the style of music.  Next was my turn and the rest of my group just stared at me.  They blinked mindlessly as I mentioned Josh Groban and War and Peace.  Uh Oh.  So we go to the next member of my group and she very seriously says “I am going to write about Justin Beiber’s album Purpose.”  Literally every fiber of my being was yelling DON’T LAUGH!!!  Ok.

Next we returned to our seats and everyone in the class had to say what their number one choice was that day.  There are only 16 people in this class.  Of the 16: 3 are writing about Justin Beiber, 2 are writing about Childish Gambino, and 2 are writing about J. Cole.  I was the only person in the class who didn’t raise their hand when asked if we knew who all these artist are.

I was at a complete and total loss.  There is no way I can write about the Great Comet.  I looked back at my paper and examined the next choices in line.  Judy Garland, Dolly Parton, the Caterie.  None of these are going to work.  The next class we had to come up with our thesis.  I typed and printed my homework 5 different times.  In the end I turned in the one on top of the stack about Mary Poppins.  Even dear sweet Julie Andrews seemed foreign to the children in my class.

So my issue remains the same. What in the world do I write about???  Well the intro paragraph is due in a few days and after that we can’t change our subject.  Welp I guess my weekend will consist of writing multiple intros and hoping for the best.

Seriously though……JUSTIN BEIBER!

My Life with Beauty and the Beast

I have tried to write this post several times.  I always feeling like I’m going to do the experience a disservice but I also feel like enough time has passed since I was a part of this show that I can no look on it with pleasant memories and less stress.

My first show with TBR was the summer before. It took me 10 very long years to be cast in a show there.  I never gave up trying and I wasn’t discouraged when the answer was no.  For some reason though when the answer was no for the first show I auditioned for after the one I was cast in I went into full fledged panic mode.  Was I too old?  Was I too fat?  Was the first time a total fluke?  Would I ever be in a show again?

When the time came for auditions for the summer musical I was very unsure.  Unsure if I should audition.  Unsure that I would be good enough.  Unsure that I deserved it.  Well I tried my best and worked hard to choose a song to highlight my voice at vocal auditions. I smiled and used my rusty ballet skills to show my grace in the dance auditions.  By some miracle I got callback for the wardrobe and Mrs. Potts.    I knew I didn’t really have a chance with either but I was still excited to try.  Apparently I did relatively well because I was cast in the show.  I had made ensemble which was just perfect for me.

When we started working on the show my feelings of being inferior crept in again.  I am always concerned when it comes to music rehearsals.  I can carry a tune but I can’t read music.  The summer before I had my section buddies who helped me carry my parts.  This time I felt alone in trying to figure my parts out.  Luckily a former student was in my alto section and thank goodness helped me find my note on several occasions.

My fears of musical inadequacy turned into anger when we moved to dance rehearsals.  Not only did I feel concerned over my weight it felt as though other people among me couldn’t stop seeing it either.  I found myself swaying on stairs and smiling in the back row.  I am more confident in my dancing abilities than my singing or acting.  So when the very large ensemble all got to be in the Be Our Guest kick line and 6 of us were left to stand and move our hands up slowly I couldn’t help but feel worthless.  I felt fire rise in my cheeks every time I looked down our back row line and noticed that the ones there were with me were the only ones who had a few pounds on them in the ensemble.  There were very few dance rehearsals that I didn’t come home completely and utterly hating myself and my situation.

I know I’m fat.  I’m not even going to try to use flowery language to cover that up.  I am.  I suffer from no less than 4 endocrine issues that make it easy to gain and very hard to lose.  My office job with long hours and my sheer exhaustion from it don’t help my case either.  I don’t make eating or exercise a priority.  I often go a whole day before I realize I haven’t drank or eaten anything other than my daily pills.  To have that be the reason why I couldn’t enjoy the one thing that brings me the most joy…it was hard.

I pressed on.  The day came when we tried on costumes and I was a vase.  A straight up giant-flowers-on-my-head vase.  My friends were spoons and forks and napkins.  They twirled in beautiful circles and danced with canes and I was a vase.  My the time it came to opening I was ready to get the show on the road.  If I was going to be dressed as in inanimate object it might as well be now.  A show or two in I realized how silly I was being.  So many people auditioned for this show.  People I had seen audition like me consistently and not get any parts either.  They would have killed to be a vase.

It was at that point that I decided to be positive about it.  I was going to enjoy sharing a dressing table with Chip and Mrs Potts.  I was going to enjoy helping the Wardrobe get dressed into a human every night.  I was going to cherish the time spent with my old ladies.  And that back row group, they are some of the best people I’ve ever known and I’m proud to have stood and moved my hands up slowly alongside them.

Its still too soon for me to genuinely enjoy the music from this Disney classic.  I let myself get annoyed or roll my eyes.  I catch myself and change the station.  One day I won’t feel like that.  One day I will look back at this production and remember nothing but the good things.  There was a lot of good.  And it certainly outweighed the bad.  It was a certainly an experience I will never forget.

My Current Top Jams

I am not usually very up to date on new music.  I don’t listen to the radio too much anymore and I don’t really watch cable TV anymore either.  I do however have Spotify so I can find all of the music I already know and love.  There is one specific artist that has been on my rotation pretty heavily.  The also amazing Ms Dolly Parton!!!

I recently watched the Netflix movie Dumplin.  While that fantastic piece of work deserves its own post I will say there was a whooooole lot of Dolly in it and it had me wanting more.  Image result for dolly partonThere were some songs that were classics.  Some I’d never heard before.  Some I couldn’t help but sing along with.  Since then the Dumplin soundtrack has made its way onto my computer at least once a day.  She was my companion while last minute Christmas shopping.  She has also helped me to successfully annoy my husband with incessant renditions of 9 to 5.  Among my other favorites are Two Doors Down, Why’d You Come In Here Looking Like That and a Christmas classic Hard Candy Christmas.

I have come to find though I have a new favorite Dolly song that I have never heard of before.  Holdin’ On To You!  I love the original and the version on the Dumplin soundtrack.  Take a listen!

 

How Pokemon Go Helped My Relationship

Once you have been married for a while relationships usually move into a more comfortable phase.  There aren’t as many date nights.  There aren’t as many kissy faced googly eyed moments.  In actuality with the advancement of technology there are days where we often spend more time on phones, laptops or gaming systems then we do with each other.

On top of this my husband works shift work.  This means there are full days where I don’t see him at all.  There are days when he is asleep when I get home or hes just going to sleep when I’m leaving for work.  We found that there is some technology that actually was helpful to our relationship.  That happens to be Pokemon Go.  Yep you heard me right.  The phone app Pokemon Go was a game changer.

Image result for pokemon go

Pokemon Go was launched in 2016.  When it first came out there was so much buzz around it.  Everyone around me was playing it.  From the kids at school to my friends at the theater.  They were battling gyms and catching everything they could find.  I didn’t really see the appeal but when my husband wanted to try it I said why not.  We played for a few weeks and joined our teams.  We caught all kinds of things and learned  the ins and outs of the game.  As the popularity of app decreased so did my interest.  It was still ok but I wasn’t going to miss it. That was until a few weeks later.

Image result for pokemon go

One night when I got home from the theater late and my husband was off he asked if I wanted to take a ride to play Pokemon.  I thought I don’t really want to but I haven’t seen him in a while so I’ll do it.  What I thought would be a silly night ended up being a wonderful evening.  I drove while my husband picked music and caught different Pokemon.  We got snacks, sang along to the songs, and talked.  The talking was the best. We never get to just sit around and talk anymore.

Since then we have taken may of these late night Poke-trips.  We’ve got a route around town that we follow.  We have a longer route a little farther out.  We’ve played on vacation.  We’ve played on long car rides.  We’ve competed to see who could be better.  This was a game changer though.  It sounds silly and simplistic but taking the time to actually talk makes all the difference.

While Pokemon Go may not be the thing that helps your relationship, try to find something that you both enjoy and give you time to not just be together but enjoy each other.  Never stop communicating.  Never stop learning about each other.

Life is a Cabaret

Since I started blogging several years ago I always find myself doing really well with posting and getting ahead on topics until a few months in.  I think I went a little too hard last time with doing posts 2 to 3 times a week.  Eventually that caught up to me and its been 2 months since I’ve done a post.  I should have realized that my busy time in the fall was going to make it nearly impossible to continue along with any free time.  So now that I’ve slowed down a little after the holidays I’ve decided to pick it back up again.

To get me back into the posting I decided to go with something simple.  Here are some shots from Theatre Baton Rouge’s production of Cabaret last spring.  This is one of my favorite shows and it was a pleasure to capture the magic of the show.

 

Show Choir Throw Back

 

If you can’t tell by some of my post I really miss working with my show choir kids.  Its been several years since I was able to do anything with them and there are days where I dream of walking back into that choir room and planning a show.  I am also very aware that it was my time to go.  There is no way I could do the things I did then.  My job, while still the same, has become more demanding. I’m also in school and spending a lot of my free time with the theater.  While I am fulfilled in my creative outlets, nothing will compare to the feeling of collaborating with my kiddos.

For this throw back I want to share what was possibly one of my favorite numbers.  The theme for the end of year show was Stage and Screen.  That year I tried to utilize my kids talent.  I had some really creative kids who could act, some that were amazing singers and some that were talented dancers.  Instead of trying to make them fit into a mold I wanted to embrace their differences.

I chose to do a number from Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland.  The tune would showcase their musical abilities.  I could also use it to play out a tea party.  That summer I was inspired by a piece of work on So You Think You Can Dance.  It was a garden party set to David Bowie’s Fame.  In my brain I could see dancing with teacups and red queens calling for heads.

The kids worked very hard.  They were so excited to see who was cast as each character.  The high school art class created tea cups for us.  Everyone was excited working on moves and creating costumes.  I enjoyed this dance and this show so much.  Again I would like to remember Anabelle who is no longer with us.  She was a feisty red queen and she is certainly missed.

The View from the Wings

While I have come to find that I really enjoy photographing babies I still have a deep love for shooting performing arts.  I spent so many years learning all of the tricks from my boss about how to shoot dancers.  I do really enjoy the dancers but I have found that actors are even better to shoot.  There is so much about a live theater that I love.  I love watching the different expressions of the actors.  I love watching my friends turn in to the characters they are portraying.  I also love seeing people who are so often behind the scenes getting their time in the spotlight.

I worked as dresser on A Few Good Men at Theatre Baton Rouge in the spring of 2017.  I spent the majority of my time watching from the wings and marveling at the talent on the stage.  I knew I needed to capture this show so I spent one night with my camera.  Below is the amazing work of the actors who brought this show to life.

My Special Angel

 

Today may be Halloween but it is also the last day of October.  That means its the last day of the month of October and the last day I could put off writing this post.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  This was something as a woman that you always think about but it usually stays at the back of your mind unless you or your family is touched by it.  Unfortunately my family will forever be touched by this illness and we lost one of the most important people.  Dale Marie Babin.

I don’t remember the date but I remember the day that she came to my house to tell me something was wrong.  She always suffered with health issues especially her asthma but nothing seemed life threatening.  My cousin Randi is a special needs child and within the last few years we discovered she has a diseased that could be cured with treatments.  She was having those treatments at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and it was a returning trip home that started all of this for us.  My Nanie called and said to meet her outside in the driveway.  This was not uncommon.  She often stopped to tell me a story, drop off some food or just say hello when she was passing.  I walked out and she rolled down the window and said a few weeks ago my mammogram came back with some abnormalities and they did a biopsy and they called while we were on the trip to tell me there is cancer in my breast.  She said it so matter of fact.  There is some cancer in my breast.  When I started to tear up she said not to worry.  They caught it as quickly as they could and that she would going to the doctor the next week to discuss treatment option.

 

She ended up having a mastectomy.  She stayed in high spirits about it though telling me how much nicer her back was going to feel to get that weight off her chest and how cool her tattooed nipple would be when she got her implant.  Well the time went along and it was time for another pet scan. Still cancer.  It was at this time that she told me what type it was.  HER2-Positive.  Being the crazy person I am I started contacting a friend who is well versed in medical knowledge to tell me everything.  I made her be as brutally honest with me as she could.  And she was…it just didn’t sink in at the time.  This couldn’t kill her.  People will breast cancer are fine all of the time.  I am now aware and should have accepted at the time this this is probably the worst form of breast cancer anyone can get.  This is one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

She started chemo and she did well.  She hated losing her hair but she got a fancy Raquel Welch wig an she worked it. She joked about her missing boob and she never ever let anyone know if she was down or hurting.  When the chemo was done and the scans came back the cancer had mutated.  Worst of all the cancer mutated to her lungs.  Her lungs were already so weak from her asthma.  She had spent a half dozen times in the hospital on CPAP machines, on oxygen and constantly doing treatments.  At this time her doctor here in town was very honest.  He wanted her to have the best care but he didn’t want her to be his experiment.  His suggestion was that she take her case to MD Anderson in Texas where the best of the best were.

 

She, along with my Uncle and cousin, made the pilgrimage to Texas regularly.  Always different doctors, blood work, creating a team.  She was set to do experimental drug trials, radiation and chemo pills. She did not complain one time.  She did not say she was going to die in front of me EVER.  Her spirit is what kept us going.  Her will to live is what kept us pushing to keep her treatment going.  She was the reason we got her for longer that we should have.

In December she was struggling with fluid around her lungs.  She was on oxygen and constantly short of breathe.  She had a tube inserted and was having a home health nurse over regularly to drain the fluid.  One day while waiting for the nurse to come she went to walk up her porch stairs and she fell.  She fell hard.  She had a black eye, she her hurt foot, she was sore everywhere.  Luckily the nurse came soon after and called 911.  At the hospital they did another scan.  The worst fear of ours was true.  The cancer had spread not only to her lungs but now to her brain.  She again visited MD Anderson and did radiation on her brain.  It was just too strong for her.

She made it to Christmas and New Years.  She made it to my nephews 1st birthday party where she was completely delighted with herself because he liked her present best.  She was there to see my sisters get engaged.  But in the end it was too much for her.  In February I went to Disney with work while she was in the hospital.  I was hesitate to go but she assured me she was fine and she would see me when she got back.  I came home on Tuesday and visited her on Ash Wednesday the next day.  I still didn’t get it.  I didn’t know what was about to happen.  I didn’t realize it had gotten so far.

On Thursday I got a call from my sister after visiting that morning that my uncle was calling in hospice.  How?  I just saw her. She wasn’t great but she couldn’t be that close could she?  I left work immediately and spent the entire day there.  My sister tried on her wedding dress and she smiled and said how pretty she was.  The next morning my other sister snapped a selfie with her and her pose was duck lips.  This could not be someone who was dying.  I went over early to visit and took some pictures with her myself.  It had been a long few days and my sisters and I were going home to grab food and rest before coming back.  It wouldn’t be long before we got the call that it was happening.  She was going to pass that day.  How can you possibly know that?  My nanie can’t die?  Not now?  She is going to miss so much?  Morgan has to get married.  I have to adopt a kid.  Marlyn has to elope and surprise us with another baby.  We have to go to Disney together.  We haven’t gone to mountains for Thanksgiving like she always wanted.  This just can’t be true!  But it was.  And it was in her living room while she was surrounding by her family that she peacefully left this world.  My family was devastated.  She was a core part of our being.  8 months later we still feel her lose.  I don’t think that will ever go away.

 

My nanie was fearless, fiercely loyal and honest to a fault.  She loved her babies.  She loved her friends.  She knew everyone and everyone loved her.  She was something special.  She was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt and so much more.  I selfishly wish she were still with us every single day.  But  I know the pain has stopped.

Breast Cancer effects 1 in 8 women in the USA every year.  95% of those women are 40 and older.  Yearly screenings and monthly checks for breast cancer has reduced the risk of death by 30-40% since 1990.  Each year over 220,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,000 will die.

Do not let yourself or your loved ones become a statistic.  Get yourself checked and educate yourselves on the risk.  You are someone special to a lot of people.  My Nanie was someone special to me.  Now she is my special angel

naine