lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Turning a Corner May 2, 2019

I know it’s been a while, and I really am sorry.

Basically, maintaining my author work while choreographing and being in one show and then jumping right into rehearsals for another ate all my available brain cells.

Night of Never was released two weeks ago, and Son of Sun comes out next week, so it’s been a wild ride. It’s been a storm of editing, writing, and making big life decisions.

There’s a story that I’d love to tell you all, but I can’t because airing your grievances on a blog is unprofessional and immature, and I’m good enough at adulting to know that it would bite me in the butt.

So here’s a much longer story.

When I was in college, I was never what my professors wanted me to be. I was smart enough that they needed my GPA, driven enough that I always had theatre work, but they always placed me at the bottom of the list of those they deemed worthy of success.

I’ve spent my adult life as a female in musical theatre. I’ve been lucky enough to work a hell of a lot more than most and have had the pleasure of working for companies that I genuinely enjoy. Even still, as an actor, let alone a female actor, it is regularly implied (and sometimes outright stated) that you are disposable. If you’re lucky enough to have work, then you should take what you’re given because there are hundreds of other people who want to be sitting at your dressing room station. (more…)

 

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 “Real” Job November 27, 2018

I’m an actor and an author. Those are the two things I do with my life. They are both horribly time consuming, desperately competitive, bound to shatter your heart, and I would never give up either of them.

But a lot of people don’t consider either to be a real job.

I’m an adult. Not like just out of college and think I’m a grown up. I am actually a full-fledged adult who likes to gripe at youths who aren’t concerned with being politically active. But some people still somehow think that I’m going to outgrow these strange pursuits and choose something sensible to do with my life.

My favorite comments include:

  • If you keep practicing, you could really be an actor someday.

Counter balanced by

  • You’re so talented, have you considered acting professionally?

 

There’s also the gems of (accompanied by thoughts like):

  • So what do you do for money?
    I sacrifice goats to the gods. Would you like to come to the next ceremony?
  • What are you going to do—you know—when you’re old?
    Be a cooler person than you.
  • You should be on Broadway. Why don’t you live in New York?
    I like disposable income and hate the smell of pee on the sidewalk.
  • Don’t you want to do something more with your life?
    I tell stories and make people happy. I may not be curing cancer, but escape and joy are important, dammit.

(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 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…)

 

Post Bus Life June 26, 2018

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 11:30 am
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I’ve been off the road and back from my adventure for almost three weeks.

That’s a really long time to be sleeping in the same bed, which is a really weird thing to say. I’m getting back into the swing of life with Oz 5000 open and life moving forward on the literary front. But I have noticed a few things that are super weird since getting off the bus.

Food. Fridges are a miraculous thing! You can put so much food in them, and when you come back the next day, you still have food! It’s amazing.

Also fantastic: having a washer and dryer in your house. I can have clean underwear whenever I want! What a thrill! (more…)