Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to Succeed in Life...

      So recently I switched jobs... Okay I was fired. Let's be honest. Some of it was my fault, and some of it theirs. I suppose it was fate, and these things happen for a reason. It certainly woke me up from my general malaise and stupor. I was pretty unhappy for a while, and some of the people were straight up terrible. For a week or two I was dead broke, and thanks to the many terrific friends that I've made here. I survived. I got the hook-up for this job from a friend I made through improv. Thanks to her, she helped me live another day in the Big Apple. So now I've gone from waiting tables to currently working in a call-center for a reputable theatrical company that sells tickets to Broadway shows here in New York and across the country. It's been interesting going from the lunch and dinner rush to the slower pace of office life. I think I'm still getting adjusted... The people here are nice, and I'm currently closer to Actor's Equity HQ to audition for more theatrical productions than I've ever been before. I usually can sneak out on my lunch hour to audition for some regional theater or the latest Broadway hopeful. Here the coffee flows plenty from one of those fancy K-cup machines, I can drink all of the Diet Dr. Pepper I want, and I've decorated my little cubicle to resemble my own little slice of life. The thing is that here it's pretty easy. The money is not as good, but it's easy to get comfortable and feel safe. I just have to be careful... I don't want to get too comfortable. I don't want to forget why I moved to this city. My dream. My love. My constant.
      It's been a rough start to 2012 nonetheless... Recently, my professor, mentor, and friend John Dennis passed away. JD, as he was affectionately called, was the head of my MFA acting program at LSU, and by God was he incredible. JD brought me to LSU when a lot of acting schools wouldn't even give me the time of day. For those three years, I grew as an actor under his tutelage, and I would often run to his office for guidance and a place to hide. We shared a mutual love of Tennessee Williams and snide, snarky comments. We had a special bond I think different from some of his other students. His passing has certainly kicked me in the ass to get going and get back to auditioning. This past week, I auditioned for a new diverse version of "A Streetcar Named Desire". I only prepped my Williams' monologue a few nights before, but when I entered the audition room, I felt him there. He was guiding me, coaching me as only he could to get the best out of me. I'm probably going to miss his memorial service this weekend here in Baton Rouge, but I'm pretty sure he would want me to just keep auditioning, hustling, and working. It's also around this time that I think of another friend, Chase Korte. Chase, was one of those superstars during my time at the U of MN that you knew was going to do great things. Unfortunately his life was cut short when his car was crashed into by a drunk driver. At times I feel guilty for living longer than Chase. Sometimes I ask, "Why am I here? Why was he taken?" His passing was so quick and so sudden that I still can't believe it. I still expect to hear his voice or hear about some great project that he's working on. Once he passed, I secretly resolved to live for Chase, to work for Chase, and to do all of the things that he didn't get the opportunity to do. That's why I need the constant reminder to follow this dream. One of Chase's favorite quotes was, "Follow your bliss..."

    Where were we? Oh yes. One of the perks of this new job is that occasionally we get tickets to free shows both Off-Broadway and on. I have this thing that my homework is to try to see theater at least once a month. Keeps me inspired. The night before, I saw "Sistas: The Musical". A decent jukebox musical that was a bit heavy-handed on history and light on character relationships. Last night I got a free ticket to the revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". Unfortunately I missed this show with Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe and Glee's Darren Criss. This particular production starred Nick Jonas of... Jonas Brothers' fame? Let me just say... Oof. I'm sure he's a nice kid, but he was just very vanilla... Like tapioca. Bland, boring, and could barely sing which is important when you're like in a musical... When your lead female blows you out of the water when doing a duet and your acting can't carry a scene, you're definitely in trouble. I think the show certainly left me empty too. The show is definitely a blast from the past, and this revival had a bright 60's feel that was fun... I guess it just hurts too that thanks to "Mad Men", there's been this huge resurgence of 60's nostalgia. As an actor of color, you'd love to do these kinds of period pieces, but usually the stories don't call for anything other than white faces... Or the casting director's just not that imaginative... So while the supporting cast was very talented, the production just left me wanting something more... Michael Urie from "Ugly Betty" was delightful as usual, and the lead ingenue had a terrific voice. I'm glad I did see the show. I'm definitely grateful for the free ticket. Lord knows I'm still too broke to afford Broadway tickets, but I think this show certainly inspired me. It fueled what things/projects I need to start working on. It energized what I should be working on, and what my art should be. I bought the mug above because I thought it would be cute to have around the office, but I also thought it would be a good reminder as to why I'm here. The show certainly let me know that I still need to raise my voice. To speak up, sing out loud, and just be heard. JD and Chase, I hope you're watching... I'm gonna make you proud. I'm not gonna stop. I've only just gotten started...

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