Archive for the ‘Update’ Category

Happy Monday!

I am excited to share my first video blog with you. I must apologize in advance – I was a bit nervous so I say “umm” a lot. Hope you enjoy the first of many video blogs to come!

Have a Beautiful Day!

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Ste (Charlie Wein), Jamie (Robert Hilliard) and Leah (Kiah McKirnan)

December is here! I can hardly believe it, but Beautiful Thing opens next month; the past few weeks have just flown by. As we get closer to opening night, the pace starts to pick up, so let me bring you up to speed. 

We continue to raise money for the show, even though we are just a few weeks away from opening. For those who did not see my previous blog about why we are raising money, click here. If you are interested in making a donation to our production, please click here. We are still far from meeting our goal – your donation of any size is greatly appreciated.

Rehearsals are moving right along without any major problems. We had another review rehearsal over the weekend, which I think went well for the most part. Tonight we have another review; I will give you an update on how things go, so stay tuned.

Check back tomorrow for a special surprise! Until then, have a Beautiful Day!

Our Thanksgiving break is over; we head back to the rehearsal space tonight to review a few scenes from the show. In an earlier blog, I promised that I would post at least two updates a week. I broke that promise: the show went into emergency mode, which put the blog on hold.

Let me start off by saying that I have been asked by the producers of the show not to share specific details of the situation.

Four days before Thanksgiving, the producers of the show received an email stating we would not be able to use the theatre at which we planned to perform Beautiful Thing and would need to find a new space.

The producers and their teams went into emergency mode and put out an SOS for a new venue. The biggest challenge was finding a space that was available – keep in mind that we are scheduled to open in less than two months and theatre spaces are usually booked several months in advance. The next big challenge was finding a space that is within our budget. After two days of fast and furious emails and phone calls, we were led to the Athenaeum Theatre. We contacted management at the Athenaeum, which had a theatre space available at the time that we needed. It’s a great theatre, a great location, and the staff is amazing, so it felt like a fantastic match. 

Once our producers had a meeting with the Athenaeum, they were forced to make a hard decision. The space fits the needs of our production, but it comes with a higher price tag than the producers had budgeted for. After looking into various theatres in Chicago, the producers realized this really was the best deal they were going to find. After much consideration, the producers decided to move forward with mounting the show in the hope that they could raise the money needed to make up the difference. Not only do they need to make up the difference in the rent, now all of our marketing materials also need to be reprinted with the new location, which the budget cannot support.

So here we are under two months before our first preview and everyone has changed their focus from promoting the show to fundraising.

Since you’ve been reading this blog, you know the passion we all have for telling this story. We are determined to move forward and remain confident, but we need the help of many people – including people like you – to get this show mounted.  Your support at any level is critically needed and deeply appreciated.  I know there are many organizations worthy of your support – especially at this time of year – but please consider making Beautiful Thing one of them. Please click on the link below. You even have an opportunity to “adopt” one of the actors, or a specific aspect of the production, such as costumes or lighting!  And thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for your support.

Until next time, have a Beautiful Day!

Sandra (Michelle McKenzie-Voigt), Leah (Kiah McKirnan), Jamie (Robert Hilliard), and Ste (Charlie Wein)

Our dialect coach Jeremiah Davis stopped by our rehearsal on Friday to check our progress. We sat in chairs and ran the lines from all the scenes we have blocked to date; this proved surprisingly challenging. We’re used to running things on our feet, so keeping the energy and pace up while sitting down was a bit of a challenge. After we ran through each scene, we stopped to get notes from Jeremiah. We are very fortunate to have him working with us; he is doing an amazing job guiding us so our accents are authentic (and consistent).

When we finished working with Jeremiah, we blocked a portion of Leah’s acid trip scene, which is one of the funniest scenes in the entire show. It didn’t take very long to block and we had a good laugh doing it.

Our director and one of my castmates have been nominated for Broadway World Chicago awards; more on that next time.

Until then, have a beautiful day!

I must apologize for not posting an update recently; my schedule has been rather hectic. I promise I will post at least twice a week, more if I can.

“Leah” Kiah Mckirnan

Rehearsals are moving right along. We still don’t have a stage manager, but we are getting along just fine without one. That’s not to say that we don’t NEED one, I’m just saying that we have managed fine without one. If we don’t have a stage manager by tech week, I will start to get extremely nervous.

Each rehearsal we have been taking a few pages from the script and working on blocking and character. Aside from a few minor “bumps,” the blocking rehearsals have gone smoothly. The most challenging rehearsal to date came last Saturday when we reviewed everything that we blocked so far. We were asked to be off book for this rehearsal so we could focus on acting instead of looking down at our script. A couple of my castmates had their lines memorized, but the rest of the cast, myself included, needed to carry our script pages at various times throughout the rehearsal. We ran everything a couple times and for the most part it went really well. We are making progress!!!

Because of my big mouth, we now have a running cow joke at every rehearsal. More on that another time.

Until next time, have a beautiful day!

I should really do my research before I promise something.  Due to the logistics of the website where this blog is hosted, I am unable to post a video as easily as I thought.  My schedule is jam-packed today, so coming up this week, I will fill you in on our rehearsals this past weekend.  I will also work on getting a video posted soon.
Until then, have a beautiful day!

At last, here is a bit of behind-the-scenes drama for you.  We are now in our fourth week of rehearsals, but we don’t have a stage manager yet.  Want to know why?  Here are my thoughts…

Finding theatre work in Chicago is not very hard; we have hundreds of theatre companies throughout the Chicagoland area.  If you moved to Chicago today, I bet that you could easily have a job working on a show by Friday.  And if you’re good at what you do, you could probably book yourself for the entire year with theatre gigs.

But here’s the harsh reality: very few people actually make a living working in this industry.  All too often, people move to a Chicago or New York thinking they are going to land a theatre gig that will put a fat paycheck in their bank account, or even enough money to pay the rent.  It’s a great dream, but that is not the reality for many people.  I could go on and on about how tough this industry is and share my personal stories about making it in the business, but that is not what this blog is about.  (If you are interested in reading more about this, there are plenty of books and articles about this very topic. )

So why don’t we have a stage manager?  My guess is that the good stage managers are already booked, and stage managers new to Chicago are looking for that fat paycheck we can’t provide.  So we move forward with rehearsals in the hopes of finding a stage manager soon, one who is passionate about their work and isn’t worried about making a boatload of money to start.  Isn’t that why we do theatre in the first place, because it’s our passion?

Until next time, have a beautiful day!

After six days straight with no rehearsal, we head back into rehearsals tonight.  This week, we have four rehearsals, the most in one week so far.

Oh, did I mention we have been rehearsing without a stage manager?  More on that tomorrow.  Until next time, have a beautiful day!

Nothing will make your heart jump out of your chest faster than being told you need to lose weight for a role.  Some actors might be outraged when told this, but the costumes, wigs, and makeup can only take you so far.

However, actors are also often asked on an audition form if they are willing to cut/color their hair, and, if cast, they are requested not to materially change their appearance without prior approval from the director.  Sometimes this is also included in a contract.  So fill out those audition forms carefully and read the entire contract before you sign.

At the first rehearsal of Beautiful Thing, our director John Nasca addressed all of the actors regarding their physical appearance.  (This is the moment you try to remember what you agreed to on the audition form!)  John asked Patrick (Tony) and Kiah (Leah) to grow out their hair.  Kiah was actually relieved that she didn’t need to cut her hair; at first she thought he asked her to cut it, which made her clasp onto her hair for dear life.  Charlie (Ste) was asked to bulk up a little bit, which he seemed totally cool with.  We also talked a little bit about how Charlie and I should have our hair cut, but nothing final was decided.  And that was it; nothing for Michelle (Sandra) or me (Jamie), aside from the hair.

Before

After losing 30LBS

Nevertheless, after seeing the publicity photos, I realized how much weight I have put on in the recent months and it made me slightly ill.  About a year ago, I lost 30lbs; it took approximately 12 weeks and I looked and felt great.  I maintained it for months, until I fell off the wagon hard and ran for comfort food. After having a conversation with my director and getting his approval, I have decided to jump back into my workout regimen and drop a few pounds before opening. The director just asked that I proceed with caution and not lose too much weight.  I should point out that I am doing this not only for the show, but primarily for my health, as my body and mind function so much better when I work out.  So starting Monday, I hop back on the workout regimen that helped me lose 30 pounds a year ago.

P.S. This is not going to turn into a fitness/workout blog. However, I will keep you posted on my progress.

On another note, one of our actors has been nominated for an Emmy Award.  Check back tomorrow to find out who it is and what they have been nominated for.  Until then, have a beautiful day!

Have you visited the Beautiful Thing, The 20th Anniversary Production by Jonathan Harvey Facebook page yet? Click on the image above and it will take you directly to the page.

On another note, tonight is our first rehearsal. The plan is to read through the entire script and work with a dialect coach. I will fill you in on how things went and maybe some photos tomorrow.

Until then, have a beautiful day!