Tales from Frozen, plus How to Get Up at 6am for your Audition..

NYC has some exciting EPAs on the horizon and today was super cool cause we had the development lab EPA for FROZEN. Aka, the Broadway was looking for a Disney princess…

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The lab is happening in May, but they are also doing an out of town tryout in Denver next year, so there are audishes to come. In any case, it was a good excuse to watch Frozen (for the first time!) with Momma King, and put my reddish hair to good use.

Got to Ripley round 7:30am, and there was already a line of ladies- but only because the building wasn’t open yet. When we finally got to the holding room, it actually wasn’t as many people as I assumed there would be! While we waited for the monitor to do sign up, we all had time to beat our faces, curl the hair, and play with the baby that showed up (for realz. This boss of a mama came with her 2 month old in tow, because, as she said, “It’s Frozen. I had to come.”).

Got my time, vocalized at cap/monologued to the students about my casting theories for the show, hustled back uptown to Ripley (bless you, unlimited metro card), sang my 32, exercised, scarfed a bunch of brussels sprouts at City Bakery, and clocked in at work.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how exhausting the “high stakes” aspect of auditioning can be. It is like going on several job interviews a week… But auditioning is much more vulnerable. You are presenting your voice, and emotional life, and physical self over and over again, and the lack of professional affirming feedback (or what some may call, the excess of “rejection”) can get debilitating. And no one is harsher than your own inner critic. If you are not perfect (which is always:)), if you mess up, or didn’t do what you knew you were capable of, it can ruin a day. But it is essential to remember that it is just one audish, and it doesn’t set you back. There are always opportunities. And you are still worthy of being seen, no matter what.

To keep up the good fight with these open call auditions when you are exhausted by them or drained by their perceived negativity, it is imperative that you find the “Exhilarating Moments” of the audition process. Finding the Exhilarating Moments is another way of saying, find the positive. It is always sooooooo easy to lean into the negative. Anyone can do that. But it takes much more work to find the positive. If you hate auditioning, find what you love about it. Landing on the exhilarating moments of this process is what will feed your purpose and will keep getting you up at 6am to take your giant-ass backpack to sign up and get SEEN. Turn the positives into affirmations that you can repeat to yourself when you find yourself steeped in negative self-talk and worn down by the seeming lack of forward momentum.

Here are my own affirmations when it comes to the audition:

– The people behind the table are rooting for me. They want me to be the answer!

– I am meant to do this. I am meant to share my gifts, my voice and my story with the world and I have the chance to do that today.

– This is what I dreamed about as a 14 year old lying awake at night in little Pasadena, Maryland.

– I will meet a casting director today that will help me onto the next step of living the life of my dreams.

– This is my job. It’s my dream job!

– I choose to be inspired by all those around me. We are all a part of this beautiful community.

– Auditioning is fun! I get to act and sing material I love today!

 

For real tho, auditioning is super fun! I allow myself to be that highschooler auditioning for my school plays. I LOVED the excitement of it. It was always so thrilling. And how cool that this life we chose allows us all these moments of exhilaration.

Keep doing what you love!!

Ctina

Be an Expert- 3.25.16

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Amelie promo shot @ Berkeley Rep

The very first day of vocal performance class at NYU, my teacher and mentor, Mana Allen, said something that I’ve always kept with me: “Be an expert in your field.

To be an expert basically means learn everything you can about your craft and industry, listen to everything, learn about new and established composers, be up to date with theatre news and auditions… you get the idea. Just strive to be an expert. So! I thought I would start a new series all about the “be an expert” practice, beginning with the new Bway 2016/2017 season!

There is a TON of new, exciting, and diverse work being produced in NYC, and I’ve spent a lot of time fangirling over all the new musicals (and of course by “new,” I mean musicals that have been in development for years and years, as goes the process). Here is just a selection of the new musicals coming up in NYC. These are on track to open this season or next.

Tuck Everlasting: Rehearsal preview. Gorgeous music, dancing, man buns…

Shuffle Along: Nymag published a really, quite poetic profile of it’s star Audra Mcdonald.

Waitress: Jessie Mueller previews a song in rehearsal. Mind blowing.

Amelie: Had a pre-Bway production at Berkley Rep: OMG LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL. Aiming for 2017 bow.

Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812: Music on the youtube. I’m ALL ABOUT this vid of Denee Benton singing my favorite song from the show.

Frozen: Casting breakdown came out on Playbill for the pre-Bway lab. Exciting!

American Psycho: composed by Duncan Sheik, the dude who wrote Spring Awakening. Some techno-ish pop shenanigans.

On Your Feet (open): bio-music of Gloria Estefan. Trailer here.

Bright Star (open): Steve Martin’s new musical. Here’s the Old Globe prod sizzle. I love, love, love porch music.

Hamilton (open): Duh. We’re all already obsessed with Hamilton, but I LOVE this recent ep of Pop Culture Happy Hour where they just spend 45 min gushing about it.

So much to seeeeeee. Thank the goodness for Rush and Standing room.

Keep doing what you love,

Ctina

bway theatre

 

 

Moleskines and Theatre

I often spend time gazing lovingly on my moleskine calendar. I highlight my auditions and appointments in pink and my work shifts in yellow. On the left side I have my schedule and on the right side I have all the of the reagonal theatre’s seasons of that week written out, plus random lists, quotes, etc. Basically, my planner is a mess of pink, yellow and pencil doodles, with lots of things boxed, circled, checked, and starred. It looks insane, but I think it is beautiful and I love laying it open and just staring at it. Scheduling out each day is veeery satisfying to me. I really commend everyone who uses their phone which I’m sure is a lot neater and cleaner. But I definitely prefer a big, bulky book that I have to cart around and open to see all the madness laid out in front of me. For the curious, I use this extra large moleskine. I get next year’s as soon as it comes out bc they get sold out like whoa.

I just said goodbye to the parents who were in town visiting me for a few days. It was so fun having them here. While they stayed with me, I went to three auditions, and they LOVED tagging along with me to see the goings-on. They’ve gone to plenty of auditions with me in Baltimore and D.C., but only one in NYC (a very busy ECC a few months ago). They were a super fun posse to have around amidst the audition madness. My mom was a sneaky paparazzi and took some pics of me doing some serious prep:

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And also when I was on line waiting to go in:

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^I’m laughing because I saw her sneaking the pic! lol.

The first night they were here, we went to see Beautiful: The Carol King Musical.

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So. GOOD!!!! Super feel good, really well put together, great design and I think mom and I were smiling the whooooole time. I could tell the performers were have the BEST TIME.

This week I’m planning on seeing Bedlam’s Sense and Sensibility. It’s supposed to be a really high energy, modern version of Jane Austen’s novel. I’m heading to D.C. next week to audish for the Folger Theatre’s production- stoked!

Keep on doing what you love.

Ctina

 

 

A PSA

This cold that I have been enjoying has knocked me out for the week. The only real world tasks I’ve able to to do is work at cap21 a couple days and hoarsely tell people to stay 4 feet away from my desk.

Auditions have not happened. I’ve opted to sleep, recover and plus, I have no singing voice at the moment, which is, like, a big part of the audition, sooooooooo.

Over the past couple days, I am mutated into more of a real human being, and so I attempted some exercise.

Wednesday I did 3 full rounds of Met Resistance Circuit with lots of rest btw rounds and a nice, easy restorative, stretchy yoga sesh. I didn’t sweat at all but I felt very successful.

Thursday….I did 3 sets of pistols while listening to Fresh Air. Then I set my timer for 20 minutes and commenced a Metabolic Resistance Circuit. I was expecting to kill 4 rounds before my timer went off. I ended up getting 1 round, cause the rest of the time, I was chilling in child’s pose. I sent my timer another 10 minutes and went through 1 more, modified round of my MRC and then ate an egg and a sweet potato.

And TODAY- well, first it took me a while to get my bum moving (and it’s snowing outside!). My intention was to sign up for Roundabout’s Cherry Orchard EPA..but when I got there, the gentleman in front of me got the last appointment. He was really apologetic about it.

I grabbed an alternate slot and traipsed to Trader Joes because I finally have an appetite for food other than bananas, sweet potatoes, pretzels, and eggs (my version of BRAT diet??). After shelving my load of rainbow-ed sustenance at home, my spirit told me it was time to exercise, by which point I promptly laid on the floor with my legs up the wall, eyes closed and meditated / decided what to make for lunch.

The POINT IS…..and I am talking to myself and the other millions of people who have a cold, don’t beat yourself up for having to take things slow. The more you make yourself jump right back into the game, the longer the recovery will take.

I probably shouldn’t have even tried exercise……BUT at lease I didn’t beat myself up for not breaking a sweat and taking plenty of rest. I just needed to move, but I’m not killing myself. I give myself permission and YOU to take it easy.

I just had my delicious post legs up a wall lunch, and will probably head back to Pearl to play the alternate list for Cherry Orchard. I think my current pallor is very apropos for Chekhov.

xoxo

End of a Short and Mighty Month

Well, February went by in a bit a blur, didn’t it??!

This month was packed with EPAs and ECCs. I made it to 17 in total. Plus a baby trip to Baltimore, MD to audish for Folger Theatre and visit family, three visits to the Broadway (Fun Home, School of Rock, and Hamilton ahhh!), two bouts of sickness, and of course a lot of shifts at CAP21, with some classes and exercise in between.

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My early morning EPA sign up uniform.

It’s all been lovely and busy and March is shaping up to be much the same. Plus, I got GREAT news the other day that a great friend of mine, Katie Hill, just booked Nerds on Broadway. This is her Broadway debut and I couldn’t be more thrilled for this phenomenal woman. Check out her website!

The EPA circuit has been very extreme this month. The morning of the Cats Bway Dancer ECC was insane at Pearl Studios. I was there for another call, but it still took me forever to get inside the building to the 12th floor. There was a line to get INTO the building, wrapped around the sidewalk. And then inside the lobby, well……

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Bless us.

BUT, then you have really chill experiences, like the holding room on a Saturday morning for Finger Lakes. I hit it up before a morning work shift, and it was chill as chill as can be. Really lovely to have a seat..

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I was really glad to get in some theatre viewing this month. The bf got us tickets to Hamilton for my bday and Fun Home for xmas. And for our Hamilton prep, aside from listening to the soundtrack on a loop, we visited the Hamilton Grange, Alexander’s uptown home. And I live right around the corner! So cool.

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Wish they still made houses like that in NYC..

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The view from our seat! 

When Lin came out to deliver his first line, “Alexander Hamilton,” the crowd eRUPTED. It was awesome. Every single person in that cast was a star. The score was thrilling. And I had to control myself from openly sobbing at the end.

For School of Rock, I just went to the theatre a couple hours before curtain and bought a cheap standing room ticket. Standing in the back is actually one of the best viewpoints in the house, in my opinion. You can see everything perfectly, AND as soon as ACT 1 finishes, you are first in line for the bathroom. Win!

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CAP21 alum Alex Brightman played Dewy, and he. is. a. STAR. Sierra Boggess was out when I went (she was doing the Secret Garden concert that week), but her u/s was fantastic and had a killer rock and legit voice. And those KIDS. Sir Andrew Loyd Weber’s voice came on for the pre-show asking us to turn off our cell phones and also to tell us that the kids all played their own instruments. I was blown away. They were phenomenal!

Every time I see a show I’m reminded of why we do this, and the importance of braving all those EPAs! Standing in the back for School of Rock, I had a great view of the audience, that was filled with children, a lot of them probably seeing their first piece of live theatre ever. It was just magical. And everyone in that audience had the best time. They will always remember that day. During intermission I was able to sit in an usher chair and really look all around that Broadway house, taking stock of every piece of art and chandelier and curtain… The beauty floored me and made me just excited as ever to be an actor. We work in magical places and create experiences audiences will never forget. Theatre is awesome, my friends.

 

 

 

Friday Link Lovin’

snow blog

We had another snow day here in NYC, but luckily nothing too crazy. Just enough to brighten the streets and make everything just a bit quieter and lovely. I spent this snowy afternoon with my bf having the most delicious brunch in BK at The Farm (read: mimosas, bacon and french fries). How are you spending your Friday?

-Next week is Valentines Day! For those staying in, check out Gina’s dinner plan for inspiration.

-I’m watching the Super Bowl for the first time this Sunday. I’m very excited to finally join the club and also have an excuse to make these dates (but with cheese. duh.) and this squash.

-On February 15th, Grammy viewers will get a taste of being in the Room Where it Happens.

-Sarah Koenig is revisiting Serial Season 1 this week. She’s watching Adnan Syed’s hearing in Baltimore and doing daily recaps here.

-Speaking of podcasts, Linda Holmes and crew discuss musicals on t.v. this week. I somehow missed Grease Live. Shameful, I know.

-If the new doc series from Netflix and Michael Pollan is anything like A Chef’s Table, I am alllllllll in.

-I, too, have a love affair with crispy chicken skin.

-In this week’s NYMag, Lisa Miller makes a compassionate case for people with disabilities and their right to have children. Really eye opening stuff.

-My very witty friend Shannon is documenting her Experiments in Happiness on the Huff Post this year and January was her “no alcohol” month. She killed it, even though the universe conspired against her.

Enjoy the weekend, my friends!

xo

xtina

 

Rainy NYC Days

It was a very rainy day here in NYC, which of course makes everything just a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit harder, because all of a sudden precious hand-real-estate is being taken over by an umbrella, you have to frogger the shit out of some puddles and hydroplaning taxis, and your meticulously coiffed hair for your CATS ON BROADWAY AUDITION is melting. Because of this, it was very lucky that I only had one EPA today, the aforementioned CATS revival.

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Typical cargo on an audition/work day. Plus Umbrella.

Even with the rain, it was a pretty standard EPA/CAP21 work day. It started the night before, when I got home from work around 11p: I immediately doused some chicken breasts with coconut aminos and threw them in the oven, chopped up a bunch of carrots, tossed them with coconut oil and some free sample Penzies seasoning blend (Tsardust Memories, I believe- it ended up suuuper tasty), threw those in the oven as well, and  steamed a bag of frozen broccoli. I wanted to make sure I had food prepped for the next day. Knowing I have food in the fridge to just grab and go greatly lowers my stress levels.

After food was done and laundry folded, I slept like a rock until 7:30a, packed bfast and trekked downtown to Pearl Studios to wait in line and get the time I wanted for later that afternoon. The call was super chill, and I got my time no problem. After walking over to the Equity Building to sign up for a couple ECCs next week, I went home, chugged more coffee, and then exercised with my beloved Kettlebells. Coiffed the hair, beat the face, warmed up, made lunch, packed dinner, then headed back downtown to check in for my time. Again, the holding room was incredibly chill, and I was seen first in my time slot. Because it was not crowded at all, there was no sense of needing to rush. It was just a lovely audition experience and everyone was warm and friendly.

After that, I could take my time walking down 7th ave, enjoying the rain, and practice a bit at CAP before my work shift (a great perk of working at a rehearsal studio).
Sometimes when I see one of my actor friends who I haven’t seen in awhile, I ask how things are, and they respond, “just living the dream.”  However, it is very ironic and a bit, dare I say, cynical. I always respond, “That’s right. We ARE living the dream.” It’s true! This is the dream, because these kinds of days are part of the dream job. It’s all in service of that moment when you ARE in the show and working on stage. It’s all the dream!

Dropped in NYC

Countrywo/men!

I am freshly returned from Sarasota, Florida where I played Pauline in FST’s One Man Two Guvnors. It was a wonderful, fulfilling experience (more on that later, plus… Harry Potter World pilgrimage! ah!), but my head is so full right now with settling back into the city and back to getting after some auditions, picking up shifts at CAP21, and gazing lovingly on all those beautiful faces I haven’t seen in 2 and a halfish months.

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Actor’s Equity Building

Right when I got back to the city, I was given a big project for my first week: my first real deal agent appt for a Broadway show. Getting these types of appts was a specific goal of mine for the new year, so getting it was very fangirl-squeal inducing. This audish was what is called a “pre-screen” for future replacements for a pop/rock show currently running, and I was only asked to prep a song and a scene from the show. The week leading up to it involved me working and memorizing the sides, a session with my acting coach, and some late night youtube research. I went in the most prepared I could be and the audish went well! The best thing you can say is that you went into the room and did exactly what you wanted to do. The only thing you can control in this business is how prepared you are (wise words from my mentor, Mana Allen), so knowing and doing THAT makes auditions so much less about “not being good enough” and infinitely more a matter of “here I am, this is what I love, nice to meet you/see you again. See you soon”.

Something to also keep in mind with auditions is that you may hear the next day if you got a call back, and you may hear next YEAR. It’s important to remember that an audition is not a “no.” It’s a “not now.” What is important is being “seen” by the person behind the table, because you never know what they may be writing on your resume for later, the other things they are currently casting/working on, or the things that will come up from that audition in a few months’ time. The important thing is just to always be ready for the opportunity. To be consistent and professional, and to take every opportunity you can to express your talent in the room (read: go to all the auditions you can and practice all you can and take class all you can). One my vocal coaches, when asked about success in this industry, said, “You just have to be ready for when the opportunity comes.”

Here in New York, we are currently in what we call “Audition Season,” meaning that a bunch of regional theatres from all over the country are coming to NYC over the next few weeks and casting for their 2016-2017 seasons. So I am filling my mornings, pretty much Monday-Friday, now through March, traipsing in EPA/ECC land. Just so this doesn’t get all “inside baseball-y,” here’s what that means:

EPA (Equity Principle Audition)

Equity regional theatres and Broadway shows are required by Equity rules to have these open calls for Equity actors, so even if the show is already cast, they are still required to hold these auditions. These are where you go in the morning an hour before the call starts (earlier if you want to be towards the front of the line) and sign up for an appt time that day. It is really nice to have a guarenteed slot that you can plan your day around. You never really know who will be in the room and whether or not they are looking, but if you are right for the show, it’s always good to go. You just never know. Some people think if you have an agent who is submitting you for things, don’t waste your time going to these. But, people do get call backs and appts from these. AND, agent appts don’t go out until after the required EPA, so if casting sees you at the EPA, they may decide to give you the agent appt.

 

ECC (Equity Chorus Call)

This is specifically for the ensemble parts in musicals. The list starts a week before the call. Broken up into female singers, male singers, female dancers, male dancers. I always go to the singer call, and to the dance call if they invite me after singing. For this one, you sign up a week before. The list is called a half hour before the start time. If you are not there when they call your name, you are at the end of the line. Depending on who shows up, your number may change from 200 to 30. At these, everyone who has a number before they close the call will get seen. If it is crazy busy and they are forced to “type” (that is, decide who gets to audition based on your look/type), you at least get to walk into the room and be seen. You stay until your number, so it is more like an open call situation. What is beneficial with an ECC is someone from the music team is required to be behind the table, so no matter what, you are seen by a member of the creative team. (With an EPA, only someone from casting has to be there.

 

Appointments

These. are. the BEST. This is where casting calls you in from an agent submission or self-submission (or EPA/ECC). They give you sides (songs and scenes from the show) to audition with (EPAs and ECCs, you sing from your book-as in, your personal repertoire of songs). Appointments are great because they are so much more chill, you don’t have to get up crazy early in the morning, you have something specific to prepare, you know they are definitely looking and think you are already right for the part cause you were called in from a submission. I personally love preparing sides much more than singing from my book  because it’s fun to be working on new material and to have that mini-chance of actually performing the role you are in for.

Okay my friends, hope you all are living happy and staying warm. Love.
Xtina

Friday Quote Love

There is a quote I’ve keep on my wall for years. It’s from Mark Bittman, a food journalist for the NYTimes. The context of the quote surrounded a picture that surfaced of his home kitchen in NYC. It was the size of a shoebox. A SHOEBOX.

It’s a tiny kitchen, even by New York standards. But he’s been working in that kitchen for years, cooking for himself and yes, entertaining dinner guests. This man does food for a living. And yet, his “work station” was about as ordinary as any other human.

Needless to say, the internet was shocked. In response, he said:

Runners run and writers write, cooks cook. Under pretty much any circumstance.

Upon reading, I immediately issued forth that involuntary exhale which told me my mind was just blown.

I fell in love with this idea and for the simplicity in how it was communicated.

The Circumstance is secondary. The Drive is everything.

Sure, the right equipment and environment are sometimes super necessary.

But if I’m at an airport, and I don’t have a yoga mat, and I feel like I need yoga, I’m not gonna say, ohhhh I don’t have my matt, there are too many people around, it would look weird, I can’t.

A yogi yogas. Pretty much under any circumstance.

A writing class, for SURE would help me get my writing in gear and would make me accountable to write MORE. But should that stop me from writing right now? Like the man says:

A writer writes. Under any circumstance.

A mac book and a rad microphone would certainly help me make my media page kick ass. But should not having those things stop me from putting my voice out there anyway? Because a singer sings. Pretty much under any circumstance.

An actor goes to the audition. Under any circumstance.

The health conscious food nerd packs a lunch. Pretty much under any circumstance.

The Trader Joe’s devotee goes to Trader Joe’s. Under any circumstance (read: even if it’s Sunday).

The frugal person keeps a budget, under any circumstance.

The walker walks.

The optimist smiles.

The traveler travels.

Under any circumstance.
The drive to do something is paramount and has the power to cut through any “less than ideal” environment. Because it’s always the person who does the doing. And the person is always stronger than any old circumstance. The mind is a powerful thing, and perhaps changing your thoughts, will actually change the circumstance.

Current LOVE LIST

I always like it when bloggers do a “What I’m Lovin'” post… Thus…..

What I’m Lovin’ this week! Check it!

THE MAGICIAN’S LAND– a book!

So, this is the third book in Lev Grossman’s Magician Trilogy. I hate when people summarize plots, so I’m not gonna. Just know, its a fantasy novel that is hilarious and quite thrilling. The first book is called The Magicians: Warning: in book one the ennui overfloweth. Proceed if you can handle mega doses of teenage angst.

The Mystery Show

Podcasts! I love my podcasts! At Trader JOES, walking aROUND, cooking, cleaning, folding, yoga, foam rolling, exercise,  its always on PODCASTS. This one is the latest in my line up. Hosted by This American Life broadcaster, Starlee Kine, each episode takes a case which can’t be solved by a simple Google search, and, basically, attempts to solve it. Straight forward premise, but Starlee is so hilarious and personable and she’s uniquely adept at unveiling these truly beautiful moments of connection with all the strangers she encounters while cracking each case.

I recommend starting with Case #2: Britney.

SCOBY

scoby

Say whaaaa? That’s right. I can’t get enough of SCOBY, aka Kombucha. So much so, that I bought my own. An alien to call my own!! I’m gonna ferment that sucker in some PG Tips for a couple weeks and reap the nectar. In case none of that made any sense, I’ll break it down: I decided to home brew my own Kombucha because it’s dang expensive to buy in the deli and apparently its easier than you think, and like, I won first place at the County Science fair in middle school so I can do this, right!?

Get your own SCOBY HERE. Learn more about ‘booch HERE.

and finally…

NYPL

I mean, free books! And actual books you can cart around and cuddle and show off to your cell phone-laden train brethren! Now that I’ve relinquished Magician Land to the stacks, I’m currently borrowing Girl on the Train and I’m gonna abuse that renew button like a boss. (side note, the NYPL podcast is awesome).

 What are you Lovin’ this week?