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

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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

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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

 

 

Friday Link Lovin’

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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

ummmm, three days off in a row???!!

So after jumping back into the Romeo and Juliet tour (more on that later..) and Taming of the Shrew rehearsals this week, the interns find themselves with three days off in a row. What??!!! We’re all actually a bit shell shocked by it, and of course we can’t “go” anywhere because we have to be close to the theatre in case we get called into a Great Gatsby performance. Which iss why we have this extra time– according to Actors Equity rules, Equity peeps have a certain number of  “hours” they can work, and with the Gatsby performances, there aren’t many hours left for the week…. so, yay! Of course, this also feels a bit like the calm before the storm..of Rep season. But nothing will be as crazy as the October RandJ tour, with 3am-5am wake up times, unload/loading that giant balcony, performing this incredibly-intensly emotional show, teaching the students a workshop, driving back, and doing costume laundry for a couple hours at the theatre, with perhaps a Goodnight Moon rehearsal on top…..October was….an accomplishment and whirlwind.

BuT, now we are in February, and tour has begun….and will last three days. YAY! We went out yesterday, at a reasonable time (6:45am) (Monday we go out again…call time- 2:20am. yup.). It was quite trippy to say the least, to all be in the van again, but load out/load in was suuuuper super smooth, we had tons of time. Though, we were missing our backstage drapes and a few screws to hold the balcony together (ha!). Luckily we were only 30min away from the theatre, so one of the shop guys drove up and dropped off what we needed. The actually show went well  (we all kept saying how nice and different the show is now that we all actually KNOW each other), and we got back just in time for Taming of the Shew rehearsal. After rehearsal, while some of us reveled in getting to sleep in today, I spent a quiet evening making dinz, watching Top Chef while drinking tea and snacking on dark chocolate (right now I’m working on a bar of Pascha Organic 70%. So beautiful.) and ending the night with a spot of yoga. Went to bed early and slept for 10 hours. I’m proud of myself :D.

opening ceremony for Olympics tonight! GO USA!!!!!!!!!!!

Mondayzzz

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Well, Goodnight Moon has clooooosed this past Saturday……that is, we thought. Until we were told the day before that we will be reviving the show in April, because of all the of cancelled snow day performances. SO, we haven’t said Goodnight to the Moon yet. But, because it was suppoooosed to be the official closing, I received the most beautiful closing day gift from wardrobe (wardrobe, who handles all the quick changes and the laundry every day are the real heroes of the show). A TEACUP!!! To go with my Dish and my Spoon!

And of course, even though it wasn’t Official, official closing, we still had our fill of closing perf shenanigans backstage..

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Friday night was The Great Gatsby opening night. All the interns got gussied up to go for a night at the theatre….

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Needless to say, we had the BEST time. The show was great, the audience had a fantastic energy, and the after party was so fun. The theatre gave out free champagne and drink tickets to celebrate….yeah, we stayed until they kicked us out. Spent the After-after party with my ladies, Rivka and Lea, at home and let ourselves forget a bit about the looming understudy rehearsal, jumping back into R&J tour, and starting Taming of the Shrew all next week.

And now, today is Monday, which is our day off. Had a gym sesh in the morning with Brennan, went grocery shopping with Rivka and stocked up on tour snacks, and now it’s time for one final review before the u/s put in tomorrow. Godspeed!!

Snow Day Dos

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Yes, that was my walk this morning to the theatre. Word was we still had an audience for the 9:30am, so we all trudged through the snow (I only slipped ONCE), pulled on our spandex/respective bunny suits, painted our faces, got in places for top of show…..with no audience. That’s right, no one…showed up. Because aaaalllll the roads were closed because of snow. But the schools neglected to contact the theatre to let them know that they would not make it. SO, show cancelled. But we were all in good humor as we quickly de-spandexed and de-facepainted. Second Snow day in a row. Never would have thought in Alabama.

I was able to make good use of the time. I and a couple other interns stayed at the theatre to watch The Great Gatsby run, taking last minute blocking notes (our officially understudy put-in rehearsal is this Tuesday! ahh!!!!). Then all the interns got together in a studio and we all ran through Gatsby together, offbook, blocking and all. It went surprisingly well. And now I know exactly what I am iffy on…

Yesterday’s snow day also kicked us into understudy gear. We all met up at Lea and Rivka’s apartment to do a line through and watch the snow fall outside.

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It was a lot of fun. Though, anytime all 8 of us are together, it’s impossible not to have fun.

Tomorrow is Goodnight Moon, as scheduled. 9:30 and 11:30 perf. Then gyming with my roommate, Brennan, and Gatsby rehearsal. Snow, you were fun while ya lasted!

2014. Here we gooooo!

Good morning! Happy Halloween, Thanksgiving, Birthday, Merry Christmas, and HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Okay, now that I’m all caught up, shall we get into what the heck is happening these days?

I believe I fell off the face of the earth for a little bit, things got cray-bizzay, many, many life changes happened, and somehow I’ve ended up in Montgomery, Alabama, working at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival for 9 months (nine) (as in, 9 months) (here for a whole 9 months) (and at this moment, I have 4 months left) (halfway done) (crazy). At the end of this…I’m getting my Equity Card (big deal) (was my goal for 2014) (it’s happening) and my job here is….acting. I mean, I’m hired for 9 months (nine months.) to ACT professionally. And live in a beautiful apartment that sits on a beautiful park. And escape the freezing, polar vortex-y New York. I walk to the theatre every day, past a gorgeous lake, trees and geese, and it I’m so inclined, pass through the Shakespeare Garden (mystical place filled with flowers, herbs, benches with ivy, majestic stage with grass seating) (basically, everything you would think something called the Shakespeare Garden would be).

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Before I get caught up in spewing how effing lucky I am to be here, because then I’d be here all day, and I think you get the jist :D, I’ma just gonna post out the timeline of my 9 months (..nine months) here. One more thing, I’m hired as part of ASF’s non-Equity Intern Acting Company, meaning I’m one of 8 acting interns (3 girls, 5 guys) who handle ASF’s touring show, Romero and Juliet (I’m Jules), teach some acting classes, put on their Theatre for Young Audiences show (Goodnight Moon. It’s pretty awesome, if I do say so), act in most of the Rep season, understudy all the Equity Actors. And here’s how it’s goin down:

2013

September: Arrived. Started rehearsals for R&J.

October: Went out on tour around Alabama area school. Also started teaching ASF Acting Academy classes. I taught the littlest kiddies, 8-11 yr olds. They were. The cutest. Tour takes a break until Feb.

November: Started rehearsals for A Christmas Carol. Played Fanny and Carol (so much singing happend) and u/s many things: Christmas Past, Belle, Catherine, Charlotte. Also started doing weekly cabarets after the Saturday performances. 

December: Ran Carol through Dec. 24. Cabarets break until Rep starts up again in Feb. Spent Christmas with my beautiful ASF family. Oh, had a birthday. 24 years old. Also, started Goodnight Moon rehearsals: I play, Dish and the Spoon, Star Person, Baby Bear and am Puppet Captain.

2014!

January: Gnight Moon performances start. Kids. Love. It. (Two show days, every day.) Got a back injury falling on Roller Skates. Long Story. Am better now. Boom. Also, Great Gatsby rehearsals start (first show in Rep). Acting Interns not in it, but we understudy it (I’m u/s Daisy, Mrs. McKee and Mrs. Michaelis)

on the horizon….

February: Gatsby runs. 27 opens (we not doin dat one). R&J goes back on tour. Taming of the Shrew starts rehearsals.

March-May: Rep season and Southern Writers Project (readings of new work) starts. May is when all the shows come back and do rotating rep.

 

Aaaallllllright, I’ll stop with the updates now….and post some PICS!!!!!! Teeheee!

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^the FESTIVAL.

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^my Juliet Costume

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^Me in my Goodnight Moon Star Person costume practicing headstand btw shows…

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^Acting Intern Co. ❤

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^one of my Christmas Carol costumes

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^One of Goodnight Moon’s many quick changes ready and waiting for us.

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^oh hey, there’s my spine. The roller skating Incident was almost worth it..for this.

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^The Capulet ladies.

 

Aaaaaaand, I’ll leave it at that for now. Until next time. I’m off to the ymca to sling some kettlebells, perhaps a spot of yoga, and practice my u/s track. Oh, did I mention today we got a Snow Day?? In Alabama?? Polar Vortex strikes again.