lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

A Tale of Two Understudies December 4, 2018

Today, I offer you a tale of two understudies. Well, really it’s the story of two different leads who had to call out of shows. The leads were from two different titular-character driven productions. By that, I mean the show was about one character, and the rest of us were just there to dance around behind them.

The first who had to call out was a man. His voice went kaput, and he had to call out for a day. He was a great guy who knew how hard the job of his understudy was going to be. Rather than throw a tantrum about his understudy going on, he did everything he could to help his understudy succeed. Right down to being on vocal rest in the wings during the show to make sure all of the understudy’s quick changes went well. At the end of the performance, people congratulated the understudy on doing an amazing job. But they also thanked the lead for being such a gracious and wonderful person to help his understudy get through the show.

The second to call out was a woman. She waffled about calling out for several days, giving her understudy several mid-show heart attacks, then finally called out. (more…)

 

A Spark of Joy November 23, 2018

There are a lot of hard days in musical theatre.

I know. Crazy right?

I spend most of my time singing and dancing for a living. Most people barely consider what I do to be a job (I’ll go into more detail on this gem next time), but performing is hard. It’s tiring and repetitive. Not only are you asking your body to do strenuous physical activity, you have to sing and look like it’s easy too!

There are days—when you’re sore, and tired, and you’ve rammed your face into a set piece, and your fake eyelash is jabbing your eye, and you have a bobby pin that’s trying to impale your brain—when you’d really just rather not. Not go on stage, not have lights in your eyes, not try and entertain strangers.

We all have those days, and it’s okay. I’m constantly having to tell fresh performers that it’s okay. Having a day when you have to force the smile on your face while you tap dance on aching feet is okay. You’re not a terrible actor. You don’t need to quit. Our job is hard.

But every once in a while, a very special audience member comes along who makes the hard job a whole lot easier. (more…)

 

Laughing in the Face of… Everything October 30, 2018

I have an unfortunate habit of laughing when things go wrong.

It’s not like I try and make bad things happen, but my natural stress response is to laugh.

Once upon a time, I may or may not have dropped a lit candle down the back of a piano. I ended up gasping on the floor with tears streaming down my face over that one.

My husband got horrible food poisoning while out with our friends. They were all worried as he hurled on the side of the road. I was laughing my butt off. While rubbing my husband’s back, of course. (more…)

 

A Varied Penguin October 16, 2018

Life is full of variation. A life in the theatre is no different.

For those of you who don’t know, performing is my day job. Super weird, I know, but being on stage is how I make money to eat and pay for health insurance. I love performing, and I would never give it up.

Right now, I’m performing in an awesome production of 42nd Street, which is a total dream show for me. Aside from the tap shoes and sparkles, I get to tell a story about theatre eight times a week, which is really amazing.

42nd Street Musical Costumes

Also, because money is a good thing, I’m in a children’s production of Madagascar. Where I play a penguin, and a lemur, and sing about steak.

Penguins of Madagascar Live on Stage

(more…)

 

A Musical Problem October 2, 2018

I try not to get political on this blog. There are different, more productive platforms for that type of thing.

But with the mess currently happening in D.C. and the show I’m currently performing in, I had a thought.

I’m all about women’s rights, clearly. Me Too has done a huge service for our nation and for the world. Women are becoming stronger and more defiant all the time. The age of women being used as physical toys is coming to an end. But I’m performing in 42nd St, a show in which a director kisses an actor to teach her how to… act, and women are literally placed on a pedestal.

Funny Girl the Musical

Pardon me while I stand on my pedestal.

That is by far not the most problematic scene in musical theatre. South Pacific is just…whoa dude, not really okay at all. Let’s take this young girl who doesn’t speak the same language as the man and have sex with her on the floor—not great choices there, buddy. And that relationship is romanticized. (more…)

 

Adventures in Authoring May 4, 2018

As I type this blog, I am sitting on my tour bus seat with my computer perched on my lap. (Don’t tell my chiropractor). During the seven months of tour, this seat has been my bed, my office, my sofa, my kitchen.

The thing is, if I didn’t have a writing career, if I were just being a full time actor and living a leisurely tour life, I would have so much time to read and play. But I have an author career to maintain. I wouldn’t want to change a thing. Smashing all my time into writing when I’m not eating and sleeping is a worth the sacrifice.

Generally, I wake up, crawl my way onto the bus, and sleep through quiet hours. Then it’s time for lunch, during which I work on managing my social media accounts. Afternoon on the bus is writing and editing time. Get to the hotel at 3:30-ish, work/swim if there’s a pool, scrounge for dinner. Get on the bus to go to the venue at 5:15-ish. Get to the theatre, cram writing work in between meetings, sound check, and the show. Get back to the hotel at 10:45-ish. Work until about 2am. Go to bed. Start the whole process over bright an early the next morning.

There are times where variations happen. If we’re in a city for more than a day, I can sneak away for a few hours if there’s a hiking trail available. If there’s a really great brewery, I’ll sacrifice a bit of my word count to sample the local brews. But really it’s a lot of time pushing through to get things done.

But it’s worth it because by the end of this tour I will have
Released two books:

Boy of Blood (Girl of Glass, #2)

The Girl Without Magic (The Chronicles of Maggie Trent, #1)

Edited one project to turn in: (more…)

 

Just a Gig April 27, 2018

Filed under: Tales of Humanity's Imperfections — meganorussell @ 12:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I learned a very important lesson a lot of years ago. A job, no matter how beloved and how consistent, is nothing more than a gig.

What can a gig do?

  • Pay you
  • House you
  • Provide artistic fulfillment
  • Allow you to excel in your field
  • Maybe—if you’re super lucky and found a unicorn job—give you health insurance

Those are all pretty great things. I mean, food and housing are vital to life. Assuming you’re working in a field of your choice, getting a chance to work is great, and delving deeper into your profession is excellent.

But here are the things a gig can’t do: (more…)