The Unlikely Baby of fringe, NYC

One of the best things about being a writer and theatre producer is that people randomly send me things to read. 
Also, one of the worst things about being a writer and theatre producer is that people randomly send me things to read. 
Let’s be honest. Most of the things we write are mediocre at best. That’s why those things don’t get read by the masses. We save the good stuff for people outside of our private circle of readers. But when you’re INSIDE a private circle of readers, you end up reading a lot of really awful stuff. But you do it, because people will read your awful stuff and tell you it’s awful except on the rare occasion when it’s not and then you know you really have something. 

In the winter of 2009, my friend Tom sent me his script for a play called “The Unlikely Adventure of Race McCloud, Private Eye.” And I knew he really had something. 

“Race” was funny and smart and colorful and something I wanted to spend time with. So I offered to do a reading of it with my company. The day of the reading, Tom found out “Race” had been accepted into the NYC International fringe festival. I don’t know if he asked me to produce it, or if I asked if I could produce it (although it’s likely the latter, as I’m fairly aggressive about these things. I may or may not have taken my engagement ring out of the box myself and put it on my own finger.) but regardless of how it happened, it was established. I would produce Tom’s show in the fringe.

And it was great timing. I had lots of free time those days, as I had just left my job teaching music theatre at a local college. We were in the adoption process, and we didn’t know when we might get “the call.” So I was free as a bird. 

You know. As long as we didn’t suddenly get a phone call saying we were going to become parents. 

But that was highly unlikely. We’d only been approved for 3 months. 

(You see where this is headed, yes?)

A few weeks after that first reading- yes, just a few weeks later- the phone rang. My life changed forever. I became a Mom. And I can’t think of those first few months of Motherhood without thinking of Race McCloud. 

Tom gave me an out. He’s a Dad. He knows what it’s like to have an infant. But I knew we could do it as a family. And so, with the help of my husband, I produced a show in the fringe with a baby strapped to my front. 

It started with rehearsals. Lily had lots of great ideas. 

  
Then, we had some photo shoots. Her PR rep was very demanding. 

  
We hit the streets of NYC to pass out postcards and meet the fans. She had a lot to say.  We called it the No-Shame Marketing Campaign. 

 
She was famous. My husband was carrying her down the streets of the East Village when he overheard someone say “hey! That’s that baby from the fringe!”

And after a highly successful run, we were able to relax and enjoy some time together.  

We even took in a show!  

Cute pictures aside (but come on. They were pretty cute.) Race McCloud will always have a special place in my heart. It was part of my baby’s first summer. It helped plant theatre seeds in her heart that are really starting to bloom. (She’s appearing in her first show at the end of August. She plays one of Snow White’s dwarfs. Her character name? Nin-com-poop.) And it gave me the confidence to know that I am not “just” an actor. I can do things. Even big scary difficult exhausting things. 

The thing about theatre experiences is that they end. Even long-running Broadway shows end. It’s the toughest part of the process for me. But there’s exciting news for me and Race McCloud fans everywhere. You can now read about his adventure in a series of novels available on Amazon. Ok, so the books may not weave their way into your own personal narrative the way they did with my daughter. But they are an awful lot of fun. 

 The Unlikely Adventures of Race & Cookie McCloud (Book 1.1): Awkward Introductions by Tom Hoefner et al. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XVI8USW/ref=cm_sw_r_udp_awd_64.Nvb4MV8ENS

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XVI8USW/ref=cm_sw_r_udp_awd_64.Nvb4MV8ENS 

36 More Days: The Riverside Run and the Magic Feather

On a sunny afternoon last April I hit the street to run to the YMCA. I figured it would be a good warm-up. It’s a little over a mile if I run back a few extra blocks.

So I’m cruising along, not really pushing, but not lolly-gagging either. And the Map My Run app goes off.

“Time, six minutes, fifty-two seconds. Distance, one mile.”

Huh?

I laughed it off at first. I am not physically capable of running a mile in under seven minutes.

I kept running. But curiosity got the better of me. I slowed down to a walk and took a look at my phone. Yep, I heard it correctly. So it must not have been a mile then.

But I mean, how do I know I can’t run a mile in under seven minutes? Maybe I totally can… I never run an uninterrupted mile since I do interval training. I took a screen shot and sent it to two people: a friend who works out a ton, and my sister. And I waked into the YMCA feeling like the strongest woman alive.

As I started my workout, I got my first response. It was from my friend- a dude I might add- and he was totally impressed. It didn’t occur to him for one second that it was inaccurate. (Or more likely, he knew better than to say so…) The more we chatted about how I was totally insanely fast, the more encouraged I felt in my work-out. I tried harder. I felt less intimidated in the weight room. I was probably the fastest person in the room. These guys should be intimidated by me.

Then as I was cooling down the texts came from my loving little sister. “Yeah, that’s wrong.”

Ok. That’s not exactly what she said. But it was along those lines.

“I mean, it’s possible I guess. But that’s like what grown men who train really hard do. If it’s right, you should start entering races for money.”

Boo.

I knew all along that it takes training (and talent…) to run that fast. So I wasn’t at all surprised when I got home and mapped my distance with a different app. Definitely not a mile. So I’m just as slow as ever.

A few days later I ran in the Riverside Run. Three miles through one of the wealthier communities in Greenwich. (Which is one of the wealthiest towns in the country. And when I say “one of…” I mean single wealthiest…) It’s a gorgeous run past beautiful houses and water and trees and smiling neighbors. I felt pretty good about myself for finishing. It is the furthest I’ve ever run without a stop at all. (During the Disney Princess 5k I walked the length of the two water tables, and during my 10k training, as I mentioned, I run ten-minute intervals.) I was also highly entertained by my playlist, which I set on random. It played “Eat the Rich” by Aerosmith. Twice. My iPhone is hilarious. Nothing like running and laughing.

But as much as I can list the positives, I still really struggled that day with the negative voices. I was one of the few runners not wearing designer running gear. I was getting passed by people who should not have been passing me. I came in 41st out of the 48 in my age group. Ouch. (In my defense, the age group was 30-39. FYI, 30-year-old bodies have very little in common with 39-year-old bodies. So I compared my time with the 40-49 group. I would not have placed much better. Seriously OUCH.)

So I thought about singing.

I sing, like, really really well. I reminded myself that if we were to stop the race and have a sing-off, I would likely win the whole damn thing. And you know how I got that ability? I earned it. I was not born with a golden voice. I was born with a crazy ear and a gift for understanding music. The voice did not come with it. I WORKED. Really, really hard. For years. And you know how I feel when people assume singing is just something you can do naturally?

I get pissed off and frustrated.

Is it possible, then, that these runners who are kicking my ass have been working at it as long as I’ve been working at my voice?

Ugh. Yeah, probably.

And am I being obnoxious and disrespectful to assume I can step into their world and take over?

Boooooo. Yep.

Of course there are those natural talents. People who just run fast. People who just sing beautifully. But once they realize they have talent, you know what they do? They work. And they train. Or they never get better.

Man. Being emotionally healthy is exhausting.

Which takes me back to that mile I ran in less than seven minutes. The one that totally wasn’t a mile at all. It wasn’t the running I was interested in. It was the way I worked out when I thought I had run that fast. The sub-seven-minute-mile was my magic feather. It never really existed at all. But I still had a great work-out. It’s so hard to keep things positive without concrete positive reinforcement. For less than an hour I thought I could run really fast. It was the magic feather that helped me feel strong. But if I keep working, and keep reminding myself that I’m doing great things for my body, I bet I can fly without it.

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Why The Genie Isn’t Free

First, know that this post is written with all due respect to Robin Williams and his family, and with equal respect to those who have shared the “Genie, You’re Free” image. I am heartbroken. I cannot imagine what his family is going through. And people have the right to mourn in whatever way helps them.

Second, I acknowledge I am not the first person to express this. But the “Genie, You’re Free” image, while beautiful and artistic, struck me as a bad idea the first time I saw it. I may not have the biggest audience, but if I reach even one person, it will be worth it.

So here’s the thing. Robin Williams may be “free.” We have no way of knowing with any certainty how he may or may not be feeling. Maybe it’s free. Maybe it’s awful. Maybe it’s nothing.

But you know who isn’t feeling free? The people he left behind.

This is not another “suicide is selfish” rant. Depression is real. And awful. And there is always help. But fighting can get exhausting. And the last thing I want to do is start slinging mud at the already suffering.

No. That’s not true. That’s the second-to-last thing I want to do.

The LAST thing I want to do is encourage people to equate suicide with freedom. Real freedom would have been the right combination of medication and therapy. Real freedom would have been relief from addiction. I do not blame Robin Williams for his sad, sad, choice. I understand his suffering. But please. Let’s not call it freedom.

Take care of each other, friends.

When Elephants Fly

About ten days ago I hit the street to run to the YMCA. I figured it would be a good warm-up. It’s a little over a mile if I run back a few extra blocks.

So I’m cruising along, not really pushing, but not lolly-gagging either. And the Map My Run app goes off.

“Time, six minutes, fifty-two seconds. Distance, one mile.”

Huh?

I laughed it off at first. I am not physically capable of running a mile in under seven minutes.

I kept running. But curiosity got the better of me. I slowed down to a walk and took a look at my phone. Yep, I heard it correctly. So it must not have been a mile then.

But I mean, how do I know I can’t run a mile in under seven minutes? Maybe I totally can… I never run an uninterrupted mile since I do interval training. I took a screen shot and sent it to two people: a friend who works out a ton, and my sister. And I waked into the YMCA feeling like the strongest woman alive.

As I started my workout, I got my first response. It was from my friend- a dude I might add- and he was totally impressed. It didn’t occur to him for one second that it was inaccurate. (Or more likely, he knew better than to say so…) The more we chatted about how I was totally insanely fast, the more encouraged I felt in my work-out. I tried harder. I felt less intimidated in the weight room. I was probably the fastest person in the room. These guys should be intimidated by me.

Then as I was cooling down the texts came from my loving little sister. “Yeah, that’s wrong.”

Ok. That’s not exactly what she said. But it was along those lines.

“I mean, it’s possible I guess. But that’s like what grown men who train really hard do. If it’s right, you should start entering races for money.”

Boo.

I knew all along that it takes training (and talent…) to run that fast. So I wasn’t at all surprised when I got home and mapped my distance with a different app. Definitely not a mile. So I’m just as slow as ever.

A few days later I ran in the Riverside Run. Three miles through one of the wealthier communities in Greenwich. (Which is one of the wealthiest towns in the country. And when I say “one of…” I mean single wealthiest…) It’s a gorgeous run past beautiful houses and water and trees and smiling neighbors. I felt pretty good about myself for finishing. It is the furthest I’ve ever run without a stop at all. (During the Disney Princess 5k I walked the length of the two water tables, and during my 10k training, as I mentioned, I run ten-minute intervals.) I was also highly entertained by my playlist, which I set on random. It played “Eat the Rich” by Aerosmith. Twice. My iPhone is hilarious. Nothing like running and laughing.

But as much as I can list the positives, I still really struggled that day with the negative voices. I was one of the few runners not wearing designer running gear. I was getting passed by people who should not have been passing me. I came in 41st out of the 48 in my age group. Ouch. (In my defense, the age group was 30-39. FYI, 30-year-old bodies have very little in common with 39-year-old bodies. So I compared my time with the 40-49 group. I would not have placed much better. Seriously OUCH.)

So I thought about singing.

I sing, like, really really well. I reminded myself that if we were to stop the race and have a sing-off, I would likely win the whole damn thing. And you know how I got that ability? I earned it. I was not born with a golden voice. I was born with a crazy ear and a gift for understanding music. The voice did not come with it. I WORKED. Really, really hard. For years. And you know how I feel when people assume singing is just something you can do naturally?

I get pissed off and frustrated.

Is it possible, then, that these runners who are kicking my ass have been working at it as long as I’ve been working at my voice?

Ugh. Yeah, probably.

And am I being obnoxious and disrespectful to assume I can step into their world and take over?

Boooooo. Yep.

Of course there are those natural talents. People who just run fast. People who just sing beautifully. But once they realize they have talent, you know what they do? They work. And they train.

Man. Being emotionally healthy is exhausting.

Which takes me back to that mile I ran in less than seven minutes. The one that totally wasn’t a mile at all. It wasn’t the running I was interested in. It was the way I worked out when I thought I had run that fast. The sub-seven-minute-mile was my magic feather. It never really existed at all. But I still had a great work-out. It’s so hard to keep things positive without concrete positive reinforcement. For less than an hour I thought I could run really fast. It was the magic feather that helped me feel strong. But if I keep working, and keep reminding myself that I’m doing great things for my body, I bet I can fly without it.

20140520-105058.jpg

The Last Day Before the Last Year

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In a few hours I turn thirty-nine.

Yikes.

Forty is one thing. It feels like something worth celebrating.

But thirty-nine is just…almost.

Almost forty. The last year I’m thirty-something. And the last year of my childhood.

(Oh, that was seventeen, you say? Millions of thirty-something’s disagree.)

Speaking of almost. I’ve had several projects this year that have fallen flat. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

Flylady and Decluttering
Ugh. It occurred to me yesterday that I had given up. The clutter was piling up. The dishes were piling up. The laundry was piling up. I say “was” as if it’s a past-tense situation. I am baby-stepping my way across the living room. But it’s just so slow. We have too much stuff. The past several weeks I was consumed by our Spring Musical at school and I did nothing. I will figure this out. I will discover what it is about this process that is not working for me. But it hasn’t happened yet.

So, in the meantime, we’re crisis cleaning for Easter this week.

Speaking of Spring musicals….

Lily’s Challenge
Much to my disappointment, I think we have outgrown this. It breaks me heart because it was so much fun. But Lily is now more than ever, her very own little performer. And unless we had a month of “Let it go,” I don’t think I can make it work at this age.

*sigh*

Sunrise, Sunset

Running for Lent
Again, that whole Spring Musical thing… (It was “Little Shop of Horrors,” by the way.)
Two years ago I did two Spring Musicals at once. It was way too much, and the really short version of the story is that I ended up hospitalized with pneumonia. Like, the real, actual, fluid in both lungs pneumonia. I don’t recommend it.

So it occurred to me after missing a few days of running that perhaps this was not the time to start a project like that. Perhaps during this time I just needed to focus on getting kids to sing “Skid Row.”

So that’s what I did.

Now. Why am I tying all these up in a neat bow? First, to remind myself of this:

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Maybe it reminds you to be reasonable, too.

But second, and more importantly, it’s because I’m headed towards the end of an era.

No. Really. I’m not tryin’a be all dramatic about it. It’s a Bible thing. Important things happen in forty-year chunks. Tomorrow starts the last year of my very first chunk. And man, do I have plans. And I didn’t want anything hanging over my head. (Oh, shoot. “Let it Go” totally would have worked here…)

Tomorrow stars a huge year-long project for me. I’m excited. And scared. (Cue Little Red Riding Hood.) And I can’t wait to share it with you.

Throwback Thursday: Lily’s Challenge, 2013

Last year we got a little fancier! Clues were given with the pictures. I’ll post the answers in a few days, put your guesses below!

1. The bane of Lily’s existence is also one of her greatest sources of pride. It’s also the name of a war protest musical. Name that musical!

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2. One of Lily’s favorite desserts is also the title of a charming song from a classic musical based on a popular novel. If the most recent movie version of that novel had been a musical, the song would have been sung by Meg Ryan. Name that musical!

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3. Lily’s Mommy loves Sondheim. (Don’t we all?) Therefore, she is certain that when Lily described her picture to her Preschool teacher this way, she was referencing THIS musical.

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4. We’re feeling fancy today. So here’s a picture of Lily ready to sing an aria from her favorite opera. In the best of all possible worlds, she’d get to wear this look to preschool. Name that show!

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5. Coincidentally, Lily’s middle name is the same as the setting of her favorite show. Name that show, AND what is her middle name? (For those of you who don’t know her personally, feel free to guess!)

6. Where’s Lily? She’s pretending to be with some of her favorite characters in a rather short-lived Disney musical. Name that SONG.

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7. Last night Lily wanted to see a particular picture of a particular Broadway character. “The princess one.” I didn’t know who she meant. So she posed, and said “The princess who goes like this.” It took some time, but I figured it out. What’s the name of the Broadway character Lily was pretending to be last night?

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8. This one isn’t a challenge at all, but I couldn’t resist. She didn’t do this for the challenge. She just does it all the time because she loves it. So tonight’s question is: what CHARACTER is this?

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9. Lily hasn’t seen this show. But Mommy and Daddy couldn’t resist. What character is she portraying?

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Throwback Thursday Part 2: Lily’s Challenge 2012

Sadly, I really don’t have the videos from 2012. Boo. But here are some pictures. Can you guess what shows these are? Comment with your answers!

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Update: I have posted the answers in the comments!

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