The FOMO is Real

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I don’t suffer too much from FOMO as far as social events go. I’m a bit of an introvert, and usually I’m pretty happy to just be hanging out at home with my cats and my husband. I’m generally happy when plans fall through or people bail, because it means I don’t have to put on pants and a bra and leave the house.

The only things I get true FOMO about are shows. Namely, shows that I want to audition for but somehow don’t work with my schedule, or could have auditioned for and didn’t and now I’m missing out on the experience. This FOMO is what has led to me doing two shows back-to-back on numerous occasions, even when I was exhausted and it probably would have been better to just take a season off.

As I contemplate our (hopefully) impending pregnancy, I’m ALREADY obsessing over the shows and theatre opportunities I might miss. For instance, Lyric Theatre Company’s fall show A Christmas Story the Musical is auditioning right now. The music is by Pasek and Paul, of Dear Evan Hansen and Dogfight fame. There’s a GREAT part for me. And the rumor mill is suggesting that audition turnout hasn’t been that great, meaning that I stand a very strong chance of getting the part I want. SO TEMPTING. Obviously I’m not auditioning because hello I need a break. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What if a local company does a show I really, really love while I’m 6 months pregnant, or I’ve got an infant child dependent on breast milk? I live in a relatively small city in a small state and some opportunities literally only come up once in a lifetime. I only have so many years left where it’s feasible for me to be cast in RENT, or The Last Five Years. Dogfight is a perfect example–it was the first time the show had ever been performed in Vermont, and due to the fact that it’s a small, not well-known show that never made it to Broadway, it might be YEARS before it’s produced in the area again, if ever, at which point, I will be too old to play Rose. I got lucky on this one.

I just can’t seem to shut off the nagging voice in my head that’s telling me to run out RIGHT NOW and audition for anything and everything I can until I’m too pregnant to pass as non-pregnant. I’m exhausted and burned out and have SO MUCH TO DO but I can’t help but think “What if I don’t get to do another show for a year? Two years? THREE YEARS?” I play mind games with myself, like, “You might not even get pregnant the first month. Or second. Or third. You could totally do a show this fall.” Which is INSANE! Cause if I do get pregnant right away, I’d be working a full time job AND rehearsing 15+ hours a week during my first trimester. That sounds terrible. But then, that devil’s advocate again. “If you don’t get pregnant by January, you can TOTALLY audition for the spring show.” I can’t stop.

Obviously, starting a family is my priority, and once you have a child/children, you’re simply going to miss some things. That’s how it goes. I get it. I’m sure once I have my own actual child, I will be a lot less worried about FOMO and more worried about keeping said child clean and fed and happy than “Oh, man, I could be rehearsing 20 hours a week right now.” I firmly believe that having children won’t preclude me from pursuing my passions. I have a loving, supportive husband who wants me to do what makes me happy. We are a team, so it’s not like I have to worry about, “Oh, well Ben can’t handle the kids without me.” That’s silly. It will just take some time to adjust to life with children. And I truly can’t wait. I just need to tell the FOMO to kindly shut the hell up.

Do you ever suffer from Fear of Missing Out? How do you handle it?

Dogfight Post-Mortem

Whew. Three weeks of shows for Dogfight the musical have come to an end, and I’ve got SO MANY thoughts and feelings, so I decided to do a little post-show brain dump.

As I’ve already said a couple of times, this rehearsal process was not that great. I was so, so excited for this show, and pretty much every rehearsal had me doubting that it was ever going to come together. Mercifully, it did, and the end product actually turned out to be pretty good in spite of all of the crap, which is great. As always, a show ending is bittersweet. I’ll miss the music. I’ll miss my friends. I’ll miss performing. But BOY am I ready for a break.

This experience really threw some things into focus for me. I have a good friend who talks a lot about process vs product. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how crappy the process is because the product is so good. And sometimes, the process is so crappy that it totally sours the product. Or the product isn’t super great but you have lots of fun working on it. In the case of Dogfight, we ended up with a good product, but the process sucked.

Going through this made me realize that I’m really, really over committing myself to projects that aren’t challenging and fulfilling. Yes, the music for this show was amazing, and I’m really glad I got to sing it, but I’m not sure that all the time I spent being stressed out, frustrated, and anxious was really worth it. Not to mention all of the time spent driving to and from Stowe, and the money I spent on gas, costume pieces, and makeup. Maybe it’s not for me to say, but I feel like I’m ready to be consistently performing at a higher level, and not just taking every opportunity that comes my way. At Stowe, I’m a big fish in a tiny pond, but I feel like I’m capable of being a medium-to-big fish in a bigger pond.

Unfortunately, this decision that my time and talent are worth more is coming a bit late, in the sense that I’m likely on the cusp of taking a fairly long break from performing in order to try and start a family. All I can hope is that there are better opportunities for me when I get back to it. I’m also already feeling the FOMO for all of the shows I may miss due to pregnancy and having a child. Expect a post expanding on this soon.

Until the next audition, I definitely plan to do all I can to keep improving. It’s really expensive, but I’m hoping to get back to voice lessons this fall, and maybe a dance class too. In order to do CrossFit, voice lessons, and dance classes, I will definitely need to do some pretty serious budget-trimming, but I’m ready to make the commitment, both in time and money, to things I’m passionate about.

On that note, as I teased in my July wrap up post, I have officially joined the PR and Development Committee for Lyric Theatre Company. I’ve been doing shows with them since 2002, and while I genuinely love and appreciate the organization for all it has given me and the community, there are of course things about how they operate that I think could be better. And rather than just bitching about it, I think it’s time I get more involved and actually work within the organization to help make it better. It will be nice to maintain an active role in the organization even if I’m not able to perform for a while.

Gearing Up For Show Week #2

Hey friends! I have gotten lots of sleep, exercise, and Ben time since last Wednesday’s post, and I’m feeling much more like myself.

The first week of shows was a bit rocky, but by the fourth show on Saturday it felt like we’d found our stride. I was completely exhausted after 7 straight days of rehearsals and shows, but I had all day Sunday off, plus Monday and Tuesday evenings.

On Sunday, I got out for a 10k long run (which I live blogged in my IG stories, which seemed to be a hit), and then Ben and I spent the afternoon hiking a steep trail on Mt. Mansfield. We got creemees on the way home, and had a nice supper with his folks before lights out at 9:30 pm.

Monday night was another restful night, with a roast chicken dinner and Rogue One on Netflix before another early bedtime.

Last night I hit up my first CrossFit class in almost two weeks, and then Ben and I did one more date night before he takes off on the second-to-last trip of the summer. We went to our member’s club, St. John’s Club, for an al fresco dinner on the patio, and then watched Sherlock together in our PJs. It was easy, cheap, and a perfect way to spend our last night together before he heads off for another week and a half.

Tonight kicks off the second weekend of shows for Dogfight, and after taking several days of vocal rest, I’m feeling ready to get back on stage. Even though I didn’t expect it to, this show has felt every bit as vocally demanding as Chess, even though the style of singing is a lot less difficult. Maybe it’s because I have more lines? Who knows. Regardless, I’m ready to kick some ass tonight.

Isn’t it amazing what some extra sleep and down time can do?

Dogfight Opening Night

Oh, man guys. I am le tired. The latest in the bizarre and unfortunate tale that has been this rehearsal process is that there was a “scheduling mishap” at the theatre last night. Stowe Theatre Guild’s theatre is on the top floor of the town municipal building, and somehow, an important town meeting was scheduled for last night. Because it’s the town municipal building, town business takes precedence, and we were told that we wouldn’t be able to start our dress rehearsal until they were finished. Which didn’t end up being until almost an hour and a half after we were supposed to start. I wasn’t in bed until midnight and I was up at 6 for work today. Yuck.

I’m sure with the excitement of actually having an audience, things will improve, but right now I’m so exhausted and frustrated it’s hard to feel excited. I’m not even sure I feel ready for an audience. I’m just huddled at my desk, alternating coffee and tea, and trying to get through my work day.

All I can say is, I’m so looking forward to the fall. I will NOT be auditioning for any shows, and I may not even volunteer for the makeup crew like I usually do. I just need to relax, hang out with Ben, and focus on house hunting.

 

 

Done, Done, On to the Next One

9 to 5 the Musical is a wrap, folks! As usual, show week went by in a nearly incomprehensible blur. I laughed. I cried. I didn’t get enough sleep. I ate too much and didn’t drink too much and had an absolute ball. Here’s a nice melange of photos from the show and backstage (all show photos courtesy of Tim Barden Images):

And now, it’s time to start rehearsals for Dogfight. At least, theoretically we’ll be starting soon. I know the director also had a show this weekend, so he’s probably in the same state of recovery that I’m in, and that details will be forthcoming. I’m VERY excited to get working on this material. I think I may even bring back my “no booze during the rehearsal process” resolution that I had during Chess. This show isn’t as vocally demanding, but I still want to bring my absolute A game, and easing off on alcohol helps in more ways than one.

It’s also time to get back to CrossFit, back to running, and back to eating like a normal human being. This week will be a good time to ease back into training, with two CrossFit sessions, 2 lunch runs, and maybe some yoga.

Mostly I’m just excited to have free time again. I got to have a ladies’ night last night, and we’re going out with one of Ben’s colleagues tomorrow. And we have to do our taxes on Saturday. Boo. Nothing like leaving it to the last minute, right?

 

Friday Free-For-All – 04/07/17

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9 to 5 the Musical is officially open! Last night was SO. MUCH. FUN. Opening night is always amazing, but for Lyric shows, it’s always EXTRA awesome. There’s always a post-show champagne reception, and all the people who aren’t directly involved with the current show are in the audience to show support, so the audience was incredibly responsive and fun. I stayed up a little later than was maybe a good idea, but not so late that I regret it.

Zicam is LEGIT. I woke up with a sore throat on Monday, and immediately started in with Zicam nasal swabs, Emergen-C packets, Fire Cider gargling, and hot water with lemon and honey. I had a low fever Monday night into Tuesday, but after that, I was pretty much ok again. Zicam is supposed to shorten the duration and severity of cold symptoms, and if this week is any indication, it works! I never had anything worse than a sore throat and low fever. Unfortunately, as of this morning I’ve had a bit of a relapse in the sore throat department, but it’s probably due more to exhaustion and singing full out last night than actual illness.

This week has been so busy I’m barely hanging on. My work teammate Freda is also the assistant director for 9 to 5, and she took this WHOLE week off from work, so I’m already doing my job plus her job. But this is also the busiest week of the entire quarter as we get ready for our quarterly reporting process. I have been working non-stop every work day and then going non-stop with the show every night. I’m pretty much living for my recovery day off on Monday. It’s so close I can taste it! TGIF, yo.

Have you ever tried Zicam to get rid of a cold? Did it work for you?

Hell Week Survival

If you’ve ever participated in live theatre, or if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that Tech Week aka “Hell Week” is the week-ish long period of intense rehearsals right before a show opens. This usually kicks off with a “10 out of 12” (rehearsing 10 hours out of a 12 hour period) technical rehearsal where lights, sound, sets etc are incorporated to the action, followed by orchestra and dress rehearsals with makeup and hair to finally tie it all together.

This weekend kicks off Hell Week for 9 to 5 the musical. Saturday is a 3 hour orchestra rehearsal followed by a 3 hour “dry tech,” where we rehearse all set movements without doing any scenes or songs. Since I am moving set pieces, I have to be there. Then Sunday is regular tech all day, then dress rehearsals Monday through Wednesday, and we open on Thursday night.

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This will be a long, exhausting week. It’s not uncommon for performers to get sick during Hell Week because they’re just so run down. I REALLY don’t want to succumb to any illness right now, so I’ll be doing my damnedest to stay healthy. How? I’m glad you asked. Obviously, everything from my recent post about keeping your voice healthy applies, but here’s my specific plan for this week.

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Hydration
The Flynn Theatre is notoriously dry. I’ll be spending lots of hours there this coming week, so it’s more important than ever for me to stay on top of liquid consumption. I’ve got my desktop humidifier going every day at work, and I’m sucking down water and tea with honey like it’s my job. I also re-downloaded a water tracking app for my phone to make sure I’m taking in at least 100 oz of hydrating liquids every day (I don’t count my coffee).

Good Eats
It’s really easy during a busy week to let nutrition go out the window. I’m determined to get some meal prep done during down time this week, and also stock up on healthy, easy, portable snacks to take with me to the theatre. Nuts, protein bars, and fruit are all on the menu. I actually joined an online group hosted by a college friend who is now a fitness instructor and health coach, and she’s given me some great recipes and ideas already!

Try to Get Sleep
I can’t lie, it will be challenging to get enough sleep in the coming days. Saturday and Sunday will both be long days, and then I will have rehearsal until god only knows how late every night next week after work. I may resort to napping on my lunch breaks.

Bye Bye CrossFit 😦
I love CF, and going always makes me feel good, but trying to cram it in next week is just going to be too much. I’ve already arranged to prorate my April membership so that I don’t need to worry about missing classes next week, and I can just focus on getting through the show in one piece.

Date Night
I’m not going to be home very much over the next week, so I’m trying to prioritize my marriage a bit and spend some quality time with Ben. We’re planning to have a nice date night on Saturday night before everything gets crazy. This will be a good opportunity to just relax and fill my metaphorical “bucket” with love and appreciation prior to the week of insanity.

Recovery Day
I have taken the Monday after the show closes off from work. I know I will be completely run down, so this will be an opportunity to catch up on sleep and just relax. I will also probably have a shitload of laundry and cleaning to catch up on at that point, so it will be good to have a day to just get my life back on track post-show, and hopefully avoid getting sick.

How do you cope when life gets crazy?

My Favorite Products and Tips for a Healthy Voice (Plus Some I Think Are Total BS)

I’ve been doing musical theatre for 20+ years now (holy crap, that’s crazy to think about), and along the way I’ve picked up a lot of tips, tricks, and favorite products to help me out. I know this is a bit of a departure from my usual running chat, but due to my impending audition, it’s on my mind, and hopefully someone can benefit from it.

FAVORITE PRODUCTS

Please note that I am not being compensated in any way to mention these products or companies. I promise none of them even know I exist. These are just my tried and true products for good vocal health.

Favorite Tea
My go-to used to be Traditional Medicinal’s Throat Coat. That was the most common “throat soothing” tea, so it was what I drank. And with its delicious licorice flavor, plus some honey, it was tasty to boot. Now, though, I use Yogi Tea’s Throat Comfort. It has the same licorice flavor, plus wild cherry, slippery Elm, and mullein. It tastes even better than Throat Coat, and I think does a better job of soothing my tired chords too.

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My Favorite Lozenge
Grether’s Blackcurrant Pastilles are the ultimate throat soother. And I don’t just use them for singing. If I have a sore throat or a bad cough, one of these does ten times more to soothe my throat than a normal cough drop, and they taste ten times better too. They come in several flavors, as well as sugar-free options, but I prefer the original blackcurrant flavor. I just wish I could find a store near me that sells them so I didn’t have to buy them on Amazon.

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Neti Pot
This is something I was introduced to my senior year of college, and I don’t know how I ever did without it. I have always had minor seasonal allergies and post-nasal drip, so excess mucus has long been a problem for me. A neti pot is basically a tiny teapot that you use to pour saline solution into your sinuses. Using the neti pot every few days flushes all the irritants and excess mucus out of my system, so it doesn’t build up in my sinuses and chest. Fair warning, it feels weird AF and takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an invaluable tool, especially if you’re prone to sinus infections.

Alkalol
No, not alcohol, Alkalol. It’s a nasal rinse similar in idea to the neti pot, but instead of using saline solution, you use a proprietary blend of antiseptic essential oils, menthol, AND saline. This stuff is the big guns that I break out when I’m actually sick, versus the everyday preventative nature of the neti pot. This stuff will clean you out, but it also feels even weirder than the neti pot. Consider yourself warned.

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Fire Cider
This is another product that’s more in the vein of mitigating the symptoms of an actual illness versus prevention, although some people swear it can help boost your immunity if used regularly. For me, I just gargle it if I feel any kind of sore throat or excess mucus on my vocal chords. It clears it up instantly. Fire Cider tastes FOUL. Like, seriously bad, but damn does it work! You can make your own, but I use it infrequently enough that I just buy it from my local health food store.

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Vicks Personal Steamer
This isn’t something I have or have used in the past, but I want one, bad. The benefits of warm steam for vocal health have been touted over and over, but it’s hard to bring a humidifier with you to the theatre, and sitting hunched over one can be uncomfortable. This baby brings the steam right to you, with a comfy face mask and different steam levels for ultimate comfort. Mama want.

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BEST TIPS FOR MAINTAINING GOOD VOCAL HEALTH

Drink All the Water
Simple, but effective. Hydration is critical to maintaining good vocal health. I keep a 32 oz water bottle on my desk at work, and aim to drink two per day. I’m not as good on the weekends just because I’m usually on the go, but I try to remember to bring a bottle with me as much as possible.

Use Your Good Vocal Habits All Day, Every Day
Breathe well and support your speaking voice. Don’t whisper or scream. Avoid vocal fry (if you don’t know what that means, go Google it). Warm up properly before you do any singing, even just goofing around in the car. Your voice is your instrument, but one that you can’t replace, and one that is very difficult to repair if it gets broken. You have to treat it well every day, or you’ll be in trouble.

Get Enough Sleep
You need sleep to stay healthy. ‘Nuff said.

TIPS I THINK ARE BULLSHIT

There are a lot of urban myths about vocal health that are continually bandied about, and some people adhere to them religiously. I’m a bit of a rebel when it comes to a lot of this stuff, but especially this first one:

Avoid Dairy Products, Because They Cause Phlegm
I’m sorry, I just can’t even with this. I have been doing musical theatre for two decades and I have never once given up dairy for a show. Not even during Chess, when I significantly cut back on my alcohol consumption, did I give up dairy for theatre! I did once give up dairy for a month or two to see if it might be causing some stomach problems I was having, and not only did it not solve my stomach problems, it did not solve my post-nasal drip and excess mucus issues. I have been known to have a milk shake right before a show and suffer no ill-effects. Now, I can’t speak for everyone, and maybe dairy really does affect some people’s voices adversely, but I’m not one of them.

Avoid Caffeine, Because It’s a Diuretic and Will Dehydrate You
Again–I can’t even with this. I’m not saying I’m Lorelai Gilmore over here drinking my weight in coffee every day, but I LOVE coffee and find it difficult to start my day without it. And with lots of late night rehearsals, sometimes I need the caffeine boost. I’ve even been known to chug a Red Bull on a two-show day. I can’t say that I’ve gone more than a few days without caffeine since I started drinking coffee regularly at age 18, but I’m generally really happy with my vocal stamina and quality, and I’m skeptical as to whether or not giving up caffeine would really make anything better. I’ve never noticed that my voice was any better or worse on days when I had more caffeine, and I drink more than enough water to compensate for the potential dehydrating effects of my moderate caffeine consumption.

Singers, any tips or tricks I’ve left out? Do you give up dairy during a show?

Weekend Update

This weekend was largely spent at the Flynn Theatre, where I was on the makeup crew for Lyric Theatre Company’s production of The Who’s Tommy.

While being on stage is my first love and true passion, being on the makeup crew is an AWESOME alternative. While I would have loved to audition for Tommy, my Disney trip would have kept me away from “tech weekend,” which is a very important set of rehearsals for any production. While the production team might have been willing to work around it, I didn’t want to put them in the position of having to make that decision. And I also didn’t want to stress about missing rehearsals while I was on vacation.

Being on the makeup crew is great for many reasons, the most notable of which is that you still get to be a part of the show with a minuscule (by comparison) time commitment. When you’re in the cast of a show, you’ve got generally between 12-15 hours of rehearsal time each week for 3-4 months. As part of the makeup crew, I came in the week of the show, and spent probably a grand total of 15 hours at the theatre. But I still got to see my friends and go to all of the fun social events surrounding show week. Win-win!

This week is all about getting back to normal(ish). I haven’t been on a regular schedule since before Disney, so I’m hoping to get back to healthy eating, back to the gym, and back to preparing for 9-5 auditions, which are coming up more quickly than I like to think about. I have a voice lesson after work today, which I’m excited about, and then after that I actually get to go home and eat dinner. What is life?

What did you get up to this weekend?

Do the Work

While driving to Rhode Island on Friday night, I had a bit of an epiphany. I regularly use long solo car trips to loudly sing my way through all of my favorite Broadway showtunes and soundtracks. As I was singing through the repertoire that I’ve sung through hundreds of times, I could feel that my voice was tired, and I didn’t have the range and control I did last summer while I was working on Chess.

At first, I was really upset and disappointed. How could I have lost so much vocal stamina? Why were these songs so hard all of a sudden? What was the matter with me? And then I thought about it some more, and realized that I have done almost zero serious vocalization since Mary Poppins ended at the beginning of April. Sure, I occasionally sing along with the radio in the car, but serious singing, with warms ups and exercises and singing at full volume? Not so much. So how could I be angry with the level my abilities are at if I haven’t been exercising them?

And that’s when something shifted in my head. I realized I have to DO THE WORK in order to get the results. I can’t expect to stay in peak vocal condition if I’m not using my voice every single day like I was last summer. I can’t expect to grow or get better as a performer when I’m not taking voice lessons, or dance classes, or acting workshops. This also carries over into so many other aspects of my life: running, weight loss, professional goals… the list goes on.

This might seem like an obvious thing, but I feel like so often I just assume that things will “work out.” I skip workouts or don’t do vocal warm-ups on a daily basis because I’ve always gotten by without doing these things before. Yeah, maybe I’m not hitting my goals 100% of the time, but I achieve things often enough that it feels ok and comfortable to just back off, not put in the extra effort, not worry about it. But then, those times when it doesn’t work out, I’m left with the icky “what-ifs?” What if I hadn’t skipped that workout? What if I was working on my belt voice these last few months before auditions? I’m tired of wondering after the fact if I could have done something more to be prepared.

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So my new mantra is do the work. Simple, but effective. It’s a reminder that whatever it is in life that I want, whether it’s a new time or distance PR, or a lead role in a musical, I have to work for it. And then, even if things don’t go the way I want or hope, I will know that I did everything in my power to make it happen. Some things are truly outside my control, but I’ve reached a point where I can no longer settle for letting things I really want slide out of my grasp because I’m not willing to work hard.

Do you have a mantra? What is it? Do you find it helps you to reach your goals?