Saturday, March 23, 2013

What I Loved About My First McKenzie Variety Show

Certainly not the week of withdrawal afterward, when you go back to the real world and catch up on sleep and try to scrub the makeup stains out of your washcloths and laugh at all the videos and photos posted by your castmates and really miss all the fun we had.

Winning the Newbie award, of course, was a sky high point. Nicole Boomgaarden, who won last year, wrote me a poem and passed on the prize, a purloined little leprechaun statue (coincidence! OR WAS IT?) and the Thursday night crowd at Red Tomato cheered me on until I had to yell at them to shut up or they'd make me even more of a ham. Then George Rafeedie, my skit partner in crime and fellow backstage troublemaker, got the guy's Newbie! And then Greg Mayer, sweetest guy ever, gets a Special Newbie award just for being so great, for walking around backstage with a meat and cheese tray, for squeaking a hilarious leprechaun accent, for nailing a killer "What I Like About You" harmonica solo. Every. Single. Show.

There was the sweetest compliment from Scott Radke, who also played a puppy in Carrie Dolan's "Every Dog is Wishing For His Best Friend" from "Everybody's Working for the Weekend," (oh, admit it, you loved that Loverboy song when it was on the radio by the hour in 1981.) Anyway, what Scott said (in the nicest possible way) was, "You're not regular," and it may sound weird but I so appreciated it.

And Anne Edmondson as Lady Gaga calling out, "I shoulda worn my meat dress!" during "I'm A Rock Star"/"Rockin' the Casbah." Anne was a hoot in the dressing room too, keeping us laughing as we were frantically changing costumes or just killing time.

And the sweet retro pleasure of smiling tap dancers in pink raincoats swaying to "Pennies From Heaven."

And the perfectly less-is-more choreography of "1, 2, 3, 4, I Wish Math Was Not a Bore," a great song turned into something even better and more memorable than the original (sorry, Feist! Love you!)

And singing to a live band! The Fairy Godfathers of Soul brought it and you couldn't help feeling like a rock star, even dressed in jammies and warbling "I'm scared of monsters in the closet!" to the tune of Maroon 5's "Payphone."

And my Mia saying that she was a little mad that I waited until her fourth and last year at McKenzie to do the show.

Of course there were the screaming cheers at the end of every show and the soothing bath of hot stage lights from above and at the cast party, the crazy dancing and bad karaoke and OMG, CRAVE BARS.

But the best moment, really, was when the tiny boy, half the height of my little Nora, walked up to me during the after-show autograph signing and said, "I liked the part when you were funny."

Oh my heart just melted out of my chest and dripped into a big puddle of mushy love on the floor. I get all verklempt right now, just thinking about it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Variety Is The Spice of Life

Clifford the Big Red Dog gives me a doggie nose before our big song and dance number.

Busy, busy, too busy to write, exhausted when the kids wake me at what feels like three in the morning but is really almost time for school only five minutes to make their lunches and hustle them into coathatbootsgloves and out the door, yelling after them, "Be kind! Take the high road! Make me proud" before I collapse back in bed for half an hour of swirling mind overflowing with To Dos and costume details and key changes and tricky harmonic intervals and the Girl Scout events that I refused to reschedule into a less crazy time of March just because I will not say Can't even though I barely Can.

The overcast days are hard but when the stage lights go on, I'm finally warm. Two dance and sing numbers in the elementary school Variety Show, plus the all-cast opener and closer plus three scenes of a goofy skit where I mug shamelessly and do great violence to the Irish dialect.

I'm in a musical! My favorite art form, where imagination takes artifice as plausible and bright happy illusions are accepted as true for a few brief bars of music.