Transitions

GUYS. Tour is no joke and truly the best learning opportunity and performance experience I could have ever hoped for. Transitioning (key word of my life right now) from a new city and theater is full of the unexpected BUTTTT let me tell you, I love THIS CAST. Everyone in their own way is beyond special and is capable of relating to you on some sort of level all in different ways. I get something different with each and every person and I am so so grateful for that. I also love our bus. Long bus days are actually in some ways beautiful – you can look out the window and just take in your surroundings and it’s hard to forget that you are literally seeing the country every passing day. That’s a humbling thing that I am sure won’t fully impact me until time progresses.

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I think something we underestimate as performers is the fact that we love our work so so much BUT it is still a job. We will be so exhausted at moments from everyday life that simply putting on makeup is a daunting task. Working up the energy to give 100% of yourself to the audience and the people you share the stage with is WORK…but the most rewarding and beautiful kind of work that you have ever dreamed about. For this show, the second the opening number is over and the crowd ROARS with applause, you get a second wind. Then it’s like being shot out of a cannon. You don’t have time to be tired. And let me tell you, this cast keeps you on your toes on and off the stage. They are bright and witty and constantly challenging you in the best ways possible. It is really a joy.

On a side note, I know I originally said I was going to just focus on bus and tour life mostly but all of sudden, that seems unrealistic to me. Even living in this isolated and crazy fulfilling world, the life you left still keeps going. And let me tell you, IT KEEPS GOING STRONG. Sometimes it feels like everything around you is going double speed and you are completely frozen in time. You leave behind all your friends and basically everything that originally defined YOU as a human being. You are left completely on your own and begin exposing yourself to a whole new group of people who don’t know the ins and outs of who you are. Personally, like I mentioned before, my life changed dramatically since graduating college. These changes have been FAR from easy. You think you have who you are figured out when you’re 22 (HAHA I know), having been away from home for 4 years, and having finally started to earn a living on your own, then you are stripped from everything comfortable and you soon realize, self-discovery seems to be a never-ending journey.

I always prided myself on being driven, independent, and capable of chasing my dreams FULL THROTTLE. These things I really do believe define vital elements of who I am but I am not oblivious to the not so positive elements of myself. For example….I care what people think way too much and I overanalyze things to its last dying breath. I often find myself feeling confident and secure and other moments feeling completely paralyzed by what I THINK people perceive about me. You think it will all go away the second you accomplish a goal or leave a certain environment, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t change until you truly acknowledge these things and figure out a way to feel continually confident in who you are and NEVER apologizing for that.

Maybe the reason it takes so long for you to be able to silence the negative voices and simplify situations as much as possible is because it takes way longer to figure out who we are than we think. Throughout your whole life, you create friendships and relationships, a lot of which you will leave behind or will leave you behind…especially in theater. Friendships can be disappointing and at the most unexpected moments, they can completely fail you. Then who are you when you loose the people who defined who you are? YEAH YEAH YEAH I’m sure that sounds dramatic but REALLY. Maybe you were always known as this persons friend, best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, enemy, whatever. Or they knew the ins and outs of who you thought you were? What happens when that goes away and you don’t have this cheerleading squad that you once had. Or maybe your cheerleading squad has shrunk or has started to fill with new faces. Instead of having a million acquaintances that you can smile at and say hello to on a daily basis, you have 5-10 people you facetime or call when you are in hysterics and cannot muster the mind power to work through the ever-changing moments of life. But even so, those people have their lives and it gets harder and harder to make daily contact with them in spite of your love for them. Then it’s just you.

Yeah, I’m an imperfect person…aren’t we all. I have hurt people that I truly care about, I have probably been more impatient than necessary at moments, and I sometimes judge a book by it’s cover way too quickly. And I have let other people’s opinions sometimes define what I think of myself in moments SIMPLY because I’m human. Yet more mornings than not, I catch myself completely in awe of the life experiences that I get to have and the fact that everyday, I get a new chance to develop new and potentially forever connections with people. People who have their own stories and scars and may even have the exact same fears, dreams, flaws, or even fabulous qualities as you. But there their stories are ALL DIFFERENT. It will also teach you something about yourself that you never knew and could even give you the courage you need to stand taller on your own two feet.

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I am hoping everyday I learn to stand taller and taller than the day before. Letting go of the fear of perception and learning to give people the same opportunity to be themselves without them suffering from a familiar fear. People will sometimes fail you, but sometimes they won’t. Your plans will sometimes go how you planned, but more often, they won’t. Life will take turns and zig zags and complete loopdy loops and somehow bring you into an exact moment of pure and utter belief that you are exactly where you are meant to be. And at this point, you will built a suit of armor against the negatives. Against the things in the world that simply do not matter, but maybe once did. And at the end of it all, you can firmly believe in who and what you are even with all your imperfections.

XO

Britt

Previews COMPLETED!

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After over 100 hours of tech, we finally had two previews in Yakima, WA! Tech was crazy challenging due to the size of our incredible production. Almost every single one of our costume changes are quick changes, our set pieces are gorgeous and HUGE, and in order to have a seamless production, we needed to spend a lot of time on our backstage choreography to ensure successful transitions. Something about tour that no one really fully knows going into it or especially when viewing performances as audience members is that there are the crew members that travels with us for the whole year and then at each theater there are “locals” that learn the show and help us while in that particular city. They have only a couple hours before we perform in that city to learn from the heads of each department what needs to be done and how. Every single one of our dressers (the people who clothe us/help with our quick changes) are locals from every city. They only have 2 hours before our first show in that city to learn where they need to be and who they need to be dressing – ISN’T THAT NUTS?! I can’t tell you how amazed I am by this and what these incredible people do for us to ensure a beautiful performance. It also really makes you as focused and aware as possible so that when you have new people around you, you can guide them through the transitions. The crew also blows my mind. When we finish in each city, they strike the entire set and drive overnight/straight through to our next city to load it all into the new theater. When I think I am exhausted, I think of them – serious warriors.

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Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 3.24.35 PMANYWAYS, lets get to the fun stuff about our first preview. I always find that there are monumental moments in my life that I wish there was a way to go back and experience again. After the fact, you recognize the importance it served for you and as time progresses, maybe you recognize where it lead you. The day of our first preview is a day I know I will want to experience AGAIN AND AGAIN. I have said since rehearsal day 1 that this cast is incredibly special. When you are on stage with this group, you feel safe. Everyone has each others backs. As we approached our first preview, you could feel the energy spilling out of everyone. Right before places, we had a little sit down with our director. Afterwards, Kelli Barclay, our associate choreographer, pulled all of the ensemble dancers aside and gave us the most amazing pep talk I could have ever imagined. Everyone has tears in their eyes – we all could see her pride for each of us and her excitement to welcome us into the 42nd Street family. In that moment it truly hit me….I am living my dream.

12049175_10206724561145491_859224637843154957_n12033005_10153592033955610_6878212525096815093_nAs cheesy and cliche as that sounds, its beyond true. I catch myself just sitting in silence in a room full of noise unable to hold a smile in. I catch my heart feeling like its going to explode from the amount of joy I am feeling. I may never be able to express the feeling I experienced on stage the second the opening number began – if you haven’t seen the opening number from 42nd Street, I urge you to check it out. It’s genius. It’s like being shot out of a canon. The audience was cheering the entire time and at the end of the number, several of us, including myself, just had tears streaming down our faces. The rest of the show is like a 5K. You NEVER stop moving. If you’re not on stage, you’re quick changing. It’s quite a rush. Fast forward now to the finale – the stair dance. Probably the most famous number from the revival. This number is truly an honor to perform. It makes you feel everything that ever made you want to be a performer. At the end of the number, we get the opportunity to have a “backstage moment” on stage and celebrate with one another. It was the most organic moments for all of us – we hugged and cheered and continued forward into our bows. The second the male ensemble bows began, (which I would argue we have the most handsome and talented group of ensemble men EVER!), the entire crowd was on their feet. And they stayed there as each of us made our individual bows. It was surreal. Our show isn’t over after the bows….WE HAVE AN ENCORE! The end of the encore is another extremely popular section from the show. When we finished our final encore, TEARS WERE FLOWING. For a lot of us, we have been familiar with this number since it was part of the opening sequence of the Tony Awards back in 2001 (Check it out here!). You could see the joy on all of our faces – I looked at each of my cast mates and have never felt more lucky to share this journey with this humble, grateful, talented, kind, and ferocious group of performers.

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Now, we made it through our first full travel day on our bus to Salt Lake City. I get to literally watch the world pass me by – I get to travel through and to cities I never even knew existed and I get to share the joy that is 42nd Street with the country! So far…Salt Lake City is STUNNING! Tuesday, we officially OPEN here and will be performing here for 5 days! Then we’re on the road until the end of October when we get our first LAYOFF! My next blog I will be sure to cover all of the opening excitement and life on the bus!!

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Until next time.

B

Just the beginning.

Hi friends! or strangers. or simply my family who I know will be loving every second of this blog life. After being told numerous times to consider blogging my adventures for the next year, I finally caved in and decided to create my very own blog (one that I haven’t quite found a title for…recommendations welcome!)

Since May, my life has shifted immensely. I knew that graduating from college would lead to all sorts of changes, but I guess due to the fact that I have been such a planner my entire life, I assumed all of these changes would be ones that I planned out for myself years prior in immaculate detail. Yet somehow, everything that has occurred in my life in the past 5 months has lead me to a place I didn’t know I would be in yet firmly believe is exactly where I am meant to be. Whether you believe in God, the universe, or anything more than our natural existence, there are moments where you truly recognize that you were not the one in control – this has been the most incredible concept for me that has taken a roller coaster of emotions to grasp.

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At the end of February 2015, I went in to audition for the National Tour of 42nd Street. After 3 weeks of callbacks filled with learning specific tap numbers from the show, different readings for different understudy roles, and vocal auditions, the waiting game began. I received an email shortly after the auditions saying that I was being placed “on hold” and that casting would be in touch with me either way to let me know the outcome. A few weeks passed and as I heard about several offers going out, I realized that maybe it wasn’t going to happen. I was so disappointed because doing 42nd Street would have been an absolute dream and to come out of college with a job already lined up was IDEAL. Something people don’t tell you when you choose to be is a performer is that the hardest part isn’t the rejection or the idea of unknown. It’s what you put yourself through while you wait. You can’t help but imagine your life and what this particular job would change for you – you start to become invested and while you act like your detached from it, you’re not. Everyone tells you to dream big and visualize what you want for yourself….yet sometimes with theater, in particular moments, it sets you up for disappointment. In the long run, however, it sets you up for the most success and happiness you could ever dream for yourself. Excepting that NOTHING is linear helps cushion the blow along the way – what will be will be and your drive and dedication to your craft will always see you through.

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Fast forward now to May. Everything started falling into place despite my disappointment about 42nd. I had my fall dance concert where I got to perform Bob Fosse’s “Bye Bye Blackbird”, I showcased and signed with my first choice of dance/musical theater agencies in the city, and had an amazing summer gig lined up at Ogunquit Playhouse which was somewhere I had wanted to work at since Sophomore year of college. It was a week till graduation and could not have been happier about what was coming up! I started to let go of the fact 42nd Street wasn’t going to happen and while I knew deep down I wanted it, I convinced myself that this wasn’t meant to be and moved forward. The concept of loosing control and trusting in what will be already started the take effect for me.

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THEN out of nowhere, I got an email asking me to come in to audition for 42nd Street AGAIN. The audition would be the day before my graduation and I was immediately anxious. Why do they want to see me again? What if I’m called back when I have graduation and can’t make it? At this point, the idea of going out on tour was out of my mind so I was scared of becoming invested again and being let down. Well, after a full day of auditioning for what began with over 100 people ended with 18 of us in a room performing all new tap sequences by ourselves and ending the day by singing in front of the entire creative team once again, I was proud of what I did in the room and trusted that what would be would be. Luckily, that day was the only day and no callbacks interfered with my graduation🙂

Well…then no call. WHAT?!

Let me skip to the happy ending now – It was almost TWO months later that I received a voicemail from casting asking me if I was still available for the tour as they needed a replacement ASAP. Rehearsals would begin a month later and I’d leave a month after that! I was in Ogunquit at this point having the best time of my entire life. I was surrounded by the most inspiring people doing an incredible show in the most beautiful place ever. The call completely took me by surprise and at first, I was terrified. I had planned (word of the day) on coming back to the city, auditioning for literally every show in existence, and figuring out what this post college life would be like….I know I know….how could I possibly consider not taking this job I have been auditioning for since February! and in one of my DREAM SHOWS. But I was just scared. Scared to leave everything I knew behind and completely pick up my life for a year and be out of the audition circuit for a full year. Thankfully after speaking with my family, mentors, friends, and my Ogunquit family, I realized WHAT WAS I SCARED OF. This is why I chose to go to school in NYC and get my degree within the performing arts. TO WORK. To do what I love and if I get to see the world while I do, I AM THE LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD. So I signed the contract and began getting dreaming about what the next year of my life would bring.

Now, after 3 weeks of rehearsals in NYC, moving out of my first NYC apartment, and saying goodbye to my friends and family for the next few weeks until my first layoff, we are in Yakima, Washington teching our show.

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This process is my absolute favorite. As cheesy as it sounds, you truly see the magic come to life. The sets, the costumes, the wigs and makeup, the orchestra….it just blows my mind how many different people it takes to build what turns into a well oiled machine. We tech and have two days of previews here until September 20th then we travel to Salt Lake City for OPENING!! I am the most excited to explore the country and share this amazing piece with my crazy beautiful cast.

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I plan to update this blog as we reach each city with photos and descriptions of what shenanigans we are currently up to on the road! I can’t wait to explore every inch of these cities and see all the different communities react to our killer show. I am the most grateful for all of the outpouring of support I have received as I begin this incredible journey. I am beyond excited to share it all with you.

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Love & flaps,

Britt