Tag Archives: friends

Tribute to a Friend

“Happiness is often the result of being too busy to be miserable.”
– Anonymous

So, as you can probably tell from my prolonged blog absence, I’ve been a little busy lately. Between getting ready for a wedding, a marathon, an Oz performance, and a community theatre performance, my plate is a little full. Okay, it’s actually overflowing if you want to know the truth. But you want to know a secret? I’m loving every second of it!  Being busy keeps me sane.  Keeps me grounded.

But, of course, there can be a downside. When your plate is full with a few things that take up most of your time, some other certain things may have to get left off of the plate at all. And lately, one of those things has my writing.

But I decided to pop in here for just a second and revisit you guys in blog world. How are you?  Miss me?

And, actually, to be quite honest, I really don’t have the time to write the blog I’m writing now either. But I decided I had to make the time in this case. It’s fresh on my mind, and I think I have a good story that should be told.  I don’t expect it to be a literary masterpiece or anything like that…Simon and Schuster aren’t going to be knocking on my door with any publishing contracts anytime soon.  But, you know what? Sometimes it’s the simple, personal topics that tend to go overlooked in a writer’s world.  They’re too busy paying attention to the big picture and concentrating on where the next story lies, to recognize the little mini-stories that may lie right in front of their faces.

Well, not this time.  Today, my topic is simple.  I want to brag on my friend, Rob.

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Rob and Bobbi Jo

First, let me introduce you them as a couple. These are my friends Bobbi Jo and Rob.  Cute, huh?  Everybody say, “Hi Bobbi Jo and Rob!”  (Did you do it?  Out loud?  Okay, good.)  Now, Bobbi Jo and I have gotten pretty close over the past few years.  We met through theatre and have had lots of fun working on various shows together.

Well, most of the time it was fun anyway. Here’s a picture of her slapping me in the face during one of our shows….*sigh*

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“Mama Won’t Fly” – March 2014 Ashe County Little Theatre

(Okay, I admit it.  That was actually fun, too….)

Now, I adore Bobbi Jo. She’s one of my favorite people in this world. I’m so glad to have gotten to know her and her family and am certain my life is better for it.  In fact, she’s the one that will be taking pictures at my wedding!  Talk about a wedding gift!  But for this blog, I’m going to switch gears for a bit.  I want to tell you about her husband.

As it is in most cases with female friends, I know Bobbi’s husband, of course. But I never found myself in a situation where we were able to talk much.  Seemed like a pretty cool guy, but I didn’t know him like I knew Bobbi. But lately, that has changed.

WUDflyer

Rob, who had never been involved in theatre before, decided to dabble a little after seeing his wife get involved.  He started helping with tech work, helped build a few sets, even had a few non-speaking roles here and there. But then, much to his surprise, after deciding to audition for our current show, Wait Until Dark, by Frederick Knott, Rob was cast as one of the lead roles, Mike.

Now, I don’t know if my readers know much about this show or not.  You may have seen the movie back in the 60s starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin?  Basically, it’s the story of a blind woman (played by yours truly) who is “befriended” by a con man (played by Rob) who, while working with two other conmen, is trying to get back something that this blind woman unknowingly possesses. The role played by Rob is no joke, people. It’s difficult. He’s not only playing a character, but he’s playing a character who is conning someone else. Meaning, he is essentially playing two roles in one…and doing it all with a blind co-star.

Pretty easy work for a newbie, wouldn’t you say? Ha!

Now, anyone who has been involved in theatre for years like I have will tell you this – chemistry between actors who are working together is extremely important. If you can’t work well together before the curtain rises, the audience is going to recognize that once the lights are on you. They may not be able to pinpoint exactly what is missing, but they will know that something is. And, almost always, that missing component is chemistry. And, in this case, the chemistry between the roles Rob and I play is even more important because the connection between the two is what carries the show. The audience has to buy that the blind woman has become friends with this man before the con (the central plot of the play) is going to work.

So, Rob and I had a challenge before us. It was time to get to know each other…to learn to work together. And honestly, I think we have done a pretty good job of that in the past few months of rehearsals. We know each other a little better than we did before. We now consider each other friends – no longer any need for the terms “my wife’s friend” or my “friend’s husband.”  We were going to be just fine. The show was going to be just fine. We were ready for opening night tomorrow.

But then last night…. hmmm….how do I put this? Let’s just say that last night something happened that pushed us over the edge of “fine.” Last night, I discovered something in Rob that I didn’t know was there before.  Last night, I realized that our work together isn’t going to just be fine.

It’s going to be phenomenal.

And here’s why.

Last night, Rob and I got faced with an actor’s biggest nightmare.  Now, granted, let me go ahead and give the disclaimer that it wasn’t a show night.  We are still in tech week rehearsals, and this was our second-to-last dress rehearsal before the “real” opening night on Friday.  But, as it often happens with dress rehearsals, we had a few audience members here and there…a few friends, family members, other theatre friends, etc.  And, in the world of theatre (and any other performance art), an audience of even just one person is still an audience. In our minds, it was “go time.”

Well, part of tech week is working out the little hidden, last-minute kinks that tend to present themselves. And last night?  Yeah, last night there was a kink. A big one.  One of our other actors had a major costume change that was being implemented for the first time between scenes.  In the process of this actor’s “conning,” he goes from one character to another – which involves a pretty drastic change in appearance.  And this change in appearance requires a rather lengthy costume change.  A little more “lengthy” than any of us were expecting.

So, let me set the stage for you.  (heh…See what I did there?)

“Mike” (Rob) and I have just been involved in a scene where a “police sergeant” (not really – it was another conman) has been asking me a lot of uncomfortable questions. In part of their “good cop/bad cop” routine, Mike defends me and manages to make the sergeant go away and leave me alone. But just after the sergeant’s exit, another conman is supposed to arrive at the door.

You following me? So, here Rob and I were onstage, mid-scene. Sergeant leaves, doorbell rings, Rob goes to answer the door and….

Yep, you guessed it.

No one was there.

Now, we actors have this technical phrase that pops into our heads anytime something unexpected (like a missed entrance) happens onstage. It goes something like this…

OH SHIT!

But you want to know what Rob did?  Rob – newbie Rob – opens the door, sees no one is there and simple says, “Huh. There’s no one there.”  He then calmly closes the door, comes back down the stairs, and starts a completely improv conversation with me. Just like that. He kept his cool and kept the conversation flowing. The two of us completely made up a complete conversation so the audience wouldn’t realize something was wrong…and that conversation was completely lead not by the veteran actor that has been onstage for 20 years, mind you, but by the person who was speaking in front of an audience for the first time in his life.

Wow.  That’s all.  Just wow.

So, you hear those stories about how people go through tragedies together and it brings them closer, right?  Survivors of airplane crashes, first aid heroes and the injured, things like that. Well, on a somewhat smaller scale (but to an actor, not really), I feel like that’s what happened last night with us.  We survived!  We got offstage and I practically bear hugged the dude. He saved our butts real good with that one.

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Cast and crew of Wait Until Dark – ACLT Oct 17-19, 2014

So, there you have it, folks.  Today’s blog was just a tribute to my co-actor and friend, Rob Scott. Want to see him and all the rest of this extremely talented cast in the show this weekend?  (And btw, no worries – we have those timing kinks all worked out….) 😉  Then come on down to the Ashe Civic Center in West Jefferson, North Carolina this weekend.  We’d love to have you join us.  Come see what all the fuss is about.  Come watch the hard work and dedication that a small group of talented volunteers have put together solely for your entertainment. And trust me – you will be entertained.  Maybe even a little spooked, to tell ya the truth.

Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

And do me a favor, won’t you?  After the curtain falls and you’re shaking hands with the actors who have brought this show to you…give my friend Rob an extra little pat on the back, won’t you?  I’m not sure he realizes how much he deserves it.

See you there!

***

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
– Helen Keller

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2014

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
– Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I sit here overwhelmed with the feeling of joy and happiness that this first day of the New Year has brought me.

kiddos1I rang in the New Year with a group of friends that I am blessed and privileged to have come to know in the past few years.  We have shared a stage together, and now, we share our homes and our lives.  Our children have become friends, which warms my heart to no end.  In fact, after ringing in the New Year, we brought a group of them home with us for a sleepover.  As I type this, four teenagers are playing outside in the vast backyard of our new home (after promptly informing me, mind you, that my breakfast was awesome because they had to eat ‘healthy stuff’ at their homes.  Heh.  Oops.)  I finally live in a community where I actually know people well enough for our kids to have sleepovers together.  This may not sound like that big of a deal, but to a roaming nomad Army brat such as myself, finding a place that feels like ‘home’ is no small feat.  I have found it.

I also woke up to this email this morning:

email

My heart is full as I realize that something I wrote touched a heart in Saudia Arabia.  Saudia Arabia!  This world just isn’t as small as we think it is, is it?  Months ago, I sat with a cat curled on my lap and the man I love made a comment about it.  And now, because I took the time to turn that into written word, it has touched a heart across the world.

Wow.

Really.  That’s all I know to say about that.  Just…wow.

Tomorrow, I will head in to a wonderful good-paying job that I worked hard to work my way up to.  I will then leave work, and I will come home to a man who loves me with all of his heart, and I’ll know that just by looking at his adorable little dimpled face and seeing that smile that lights it up when I get home.  I’ll also know it by watching him chop wood to bring in to build a fire in our wood stove.  I’ll know it by watching him tinker with my car to make sure everything is in working condition.  singing1I’ll know it each time he picks up a guitar and asks me to sing with him, and making me feel like I’m good enough to do it.  I’ll know it by accepting the glass of wine he hands me after a long, stressful day, or by sitting down to the wonderful meal that he has cooked for me.  I’ll know it by feeling his hand reach out across the table and slip into mine and squeeze it before we begin to eat.  I’ll know it by the kiss he plants on my forehead before we slip off to sleep in our big, warm bed.  I’ll know it because…well.  I’ll just know it.  Because I pay attention.  Because I look for it.  Because I believe it.

I am a blessed, happy, healthy woman.  And I intend to spend 2014 continuing to see and appreciate those blessings that surround me, and will try my best to not take a single moment of this precious life for granted.

Won’t you join me?

Happy New Year, my friends.

***

“Write on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

No Place Like Home

 

oz

I’m baaaack!

Ok, so actually I’ve been back for four days already. And each and every one of those days, I have started to sit down and write about my weekend in Oz, only to find myself at a loss. There’s so much I want to say, yet no words have managed to break the surface that would be adequate enough to accurately do this experience justice.

If you’re just joining me, I wrote last week about an awesome gig that I stumbled upon – I was asked to play both the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, at the Autumn at Oz festival in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. (Read that blog here if you missed it!)

While I enjoyed every minute of my one day as the wicked witch…

AngelaDBowles   (Photo credit: Angela D. Bowles)

… nothing compared to the thrill I got from playing the role of Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, for the rest of the festival.

JeremyMaxHalsey (Photo credit: Jeremy Halsey)

I had no idea how much I would fall in love with that role.  And this was not your run-of-the-mill stage acting.  This was interaction.  Talking to the kids.  Getting down on their level.  Stepping into their imaginations and letting yourself get transported back to that time when you yourself believed in that land “behind the moon, beyond the rain…”

kidcollage(Photo credits – Left: Jeremy Halsey, Top Right: Vanessa Schilling, Bottom Right: Megan Wrappe)

I have never felt myself come alive more than I did when I waddled down that yellow brick road in that massive pile of tulle.  I’ve asked myself what it was about it that got to me so much.  Was it being a ‘princess for a day’?  Was it getting to feel pretty?  Was it regaining that feeling of innocence for a short while?  Was it just the overall feeling of being transported into a world where anything is possible, fairy tales really exist, and good always trumps evil in the end?

Yep.  Probably all of that.

But mostly – it was the kids.  Oh my gosh, those kids!

I saw some of the cutest sights I’ve ever seen in my life this past weekend.  So many adorable little kids came dressed as their favorite Oz characters.  We saw everything from little tinmen, scarecrows and cowardly lions to wicked witch wannabes and little Dorothys to…my favorite…little mini-Glindas.  (And not to mention quite a few adults dressed as their favorite Oz characters as well – there is definitely no age limit to the love of all things Oz.)  I so wish Glinda could have whipped out her camera and snapped pictures of all of this, but something tells me it wouldn’t have seemed very natural to have a cell phone stashed in her pretty pink bubble.  (I was already called out once for my non-authenticity when a sweet, precious little girl came up to me and asked, “Glinda, is your wand real?  Does it really do magic?”  To which I responded, “Of course!” Same sweet, precious child then threw that little hand on that little hip and with a voice about 10 decibels lower than before, stated, “Show me.”  Yikes.  What’s a good witch to do, ya know??)  So, yeah, Glinda with a cell phone?  That was a no go.

Thanks to Facebook, though, and one of my co-Glindas (there were more than one of us working the weekend shifts), I was able to snag a cute one of the Lollipop Gang kids that showed up…

TerrilynnBellCollins (Photo credit: Terrilynn Bell Collins)

Is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? We should have hired them on the spot!

Unfortunately, these little cuties showed up on the one day (Saturday) that I was dressed as the wicked witch, and therefore, I didn’t get to have much interaction with them. Although I think I did a pretty good job of being ‘evil,’ it definitely didn’t last for very long periods of time. As soon as one of the kids expressed any fear whatsoever, I immediately broke character and explained that “it was all pretend and I wasn’t going to hurt them…” (To which one adorable little boy responded, bottom lip poofed out and all, “Y-y-y-you’re not gonna hurt me? Pwomise?”) *sigh*

So, contrary to what the men in my past will tell you, being an evil witch did not, in fact, come natural to me.  Who knew!?

Heck, even Toto wasn’t scared of me….

WendiWagers (Photo credit: Wendi Wagers)

The weekend ended with three performances for school groups on Monday morning.  With these groups, rather than just walking through the park in character, one full cast performed a shortened version of the movie for the guests.  A wonderful review of our performance can be found by clicking on this link.  Katie Hodges did an excellent job of describing the process and was very complimentary to our acting abilities as well.  You’ll see some great photos of the show as well in her review.  I know each and every one of us were thrilled to read this and very humbled at her kind words.

All in all, I’ll have to say this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  Like Dorothy, I made some wonderful friends along my trip down the yellow brick road, and it is a time in my life that I won’t soon forget.  Hopefully, we’ll all keep in touch and maybe even be able to do this again next year.  If you missed it this year, and want to come see what all the fuss was about, keep your eye on the website for Autumn in Oz.  Tickets sold out fast this year, so bookmark this site and start checking back in August 2014 to get your tickets for next time!

It’ll put a smile on your face, just like it did mine…

BeckyMillerZaragoza (Photo credit: Becky Miller Zaragoza)

So blessed to have been a member of such a fantastic cast.

cast

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dual (Above photos by Megan Wrappe)

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JeremyMaxHalsey2 (Above photos by Jeremy Halsey)

MeganWrappe

MeganWrappe3 (Above photos by Becky Miller Zaragoza)

castfour (Photo by yours truly)

Whew.  Tired of pictures yet?  If you’ll notice, that Glinda sure is a diva.  She was even taking selfies in the bathroom…

me (Photo by:  Oh heck, you know….)

Shameful.

Well.  Now it’s time to go.

While it definitely was fun pretending for a while, and even helped me discover a side to me that I may not have even known had ever existed (especially that selfie diva side…sheeesh), it still always comes back to the same ol’ lesson that Dorothy learned.

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” – Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

No matter how much fun it is to temporarily escape once in a while, and even though you may meet some wonderful friends along the way, you always end up finding your way back to where you belong.  With memories tucked away, pictures to remember it all by, and … finally … a blog written about my experience, I am back home.  Back where I belong.

There truly is no place like home.

***

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes