September 13, 2012

Fightin' the Forces

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." -- Eph. 6:12

Exhibits A and B above both were shown to me this morning between my Facebook and Twitter feeds, respectively.  George Takei posted the photo on his Facebook timeline, and something a friend tweeted reminded me about that Bible verse, so I went and looked it up. 

Lately, as artists are wont to do, I have struggled with the most ridiculous insecurity. It's not coming from anything specific...nobody is making me feel badly about myself as a performer or anything like that. I've lost weight. I'm doing a fabulous show with an incredible theatre, where I'm used more and more with each passing production.  I love my costumes. I love my hairstyle for the show.  I'm completely surrounded by wonderful people.

But still, that nagging, evil little insecure voice finds its way into my brain and brings on the waves of self-doubt and negativity.  I'm not going to blame myself anymore, though.  Read that verse again.  I believe it to be true.  These voices are coming directly from the Enemy and attacking my weakest areas, causing me to think I need to try harder, audition for more shows, eat less...and not in the healthy, productive way in which all of those things can be done but, instead, in the obsessive, messed-up priorities, selfish way that has gotten me into trouble before.

When logic prevails, I think back on the past 11 months (I'm starting with CafĂ© des Artistes last November) and I am incredibly proud of the work I've done as an artist, as a Christian, as a person trying to get healthier, as a wife, and as a friend.  It's incredible (and incredibly sad) to me how easily and how quickly that switch can be flipped.  How I can be so proud and happy and then look upon a series of show photos and feel "You're the biggest person on that stage.  Look how fat your face looks.  God, you don't look like anyone else up there, what are you even doing?!"  Or to know in my heart of hearts that I'm thrilled for a friend's successes but still think "It wasn't you this time. You weren't even considered.  Why would you be, though? You've got a long way to go."

(that inner voice is a real bitch, huh?)

This is not coming from a healthy place of bettering myself and pushing myself to reach higher goals.  This is a darker, more sinister force that is trying to halt the progress I've made, trying to make me feel like nothing I'm doing is quite enough, trying to get me to focus completely on myself and how I can make my selfish desires come to pass.

The good news? I'm aware of it.  I know that there are ways to better myself that simultaneously bring happiness and joy to my life that will radiate outward to others around me. That I can push myself to be better without the only result being my own selfish gain. 

Eleanor Roosevelt has been quoted as saying, "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."  Well, consider my consent not given. I do not give anyone, physical or spiritual, permission to bring me down and cause me to focus on negativity, insecurity or doubt. 

September 12, 2012

That Time I Met Jo Loesser

Jo Sullivan Loesser (Rosabella) with Robert Weede (Tony) in the original production of The Most Happy Fella (Source)

Once again, Lyric Stage has provided me with a tremendous opportunity and some incredible memories. I don't think I ever blogged about doing Oklahoma! with them back in June, and that's probably because the sadness from ending that show and saying goodbye to some truly wonderful new friends took a long time to go away (actually it's still kind of sad...sniff sniff).

Over the past month I've been fortunate enough to be a part of yet another one of Lyric's critically acclaimed productions, under a brilliant production team and accompanied by a truly amazing 38-piece orchestra.

The Most Happy Fella opened officially this past Saturday evening, September 8th, 2012.  And there was a very, very special guest in the audience: the widow of the composer, Frank Loesser, and original Rosabella, Mrs. Jo Sullivan Loesser (read an awesome interview with Mrs. Loesser here about her thoughts on this amazing theatre company's reproduction of works like this!). 

Lyric Stage cast of The Most Happy Fella with Jo Sullivan Loesser (seated, in white suit)

The cast was informed on our final dress rehearsal that Mrs. Loesser would be joining us onstage after curtain call and singing for us (oh okay...and the audience, too...but it was hard to even remember that there was another audience besides the one onstage with her!).

Even now, as I type this and remember what that night felt like, I get goosebumps up and down my arms.  We were all a bit nervous (probably none more so than our own amazing Rosabella, Amber Nicole Guest, who was greeted with open arms and an enormous smile by Mrs. Loesser after the performance!), but it turns out we had nothing to worry about.  When Jo took the stage, the already electric energy that comes with a successful performance was tripled, and the roar of the applause soared as the cast joined in to welcome her.

She was...well, adorable is the word that keeps coming to mind.  She went immediately to Bill Nolte, the amazing actor playing Tony, for a huge hug, and then could be heard asking, "Where's Rosabella?"

Jo Sullivan Loesser (original Rosabella) with Amber Nicole Guest (OUR Rosabella)

She hugged each of the principal actors in turn, and then was given a microphone, where she continued to gush about the cast, the production team and, of course, the brilliant orchestra and conductor.

She shared some heartwarming stories about her husband, the late Frank Loesser, and thanked all of us profusely.  The song she sang was "Spring Will be a Little Late This Year" from movie Christmas Holiday, written by Frank, of course.  And let me tell you...that woman's voice is still beautiful.  It was just completely charming.

I'm not even going to pretend like I wasn't completely wrecked emotionally by all of this. I didn't stop crying from the moment she walked onstage until the curtain was lowered and we all scrambled to pose for a cast photo with her.

I was hesitant to ask her for a photo in the lobby afterwards, because I knew she was probably tired and overwhelmed, but this was SUCH a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity...and she was incredibly gracious when I asked.  I'm so grateful for that...and for these photos to enhance the memories that were made for all of us that night.

Me! With Jo Sullivan Loesser!

Some of the cast members have joked about how actors can overuse (sometimes to great annoyance) the phrase "so blessed," especially on social media...I mean, there's even a parody Twitter account called Annoying Actor Friend dedicated to such a thing...but this was a time when it was completely appropriate to note just how blessed we all were to be a part of such a moment.

I will never forget this night as long as I live.  Thank you, Cheryl, Jay, Len, Steven and Lyric Stage for continuing to provide me with opportunities to grow as a performer and to be a part of such incredible moments. It makes me the most happy.