Halfway between two worlds

Just sitting here in the Denver airport right now waiting for my transfer to fly to Newark.  Yesterday marked the end of our rehearsal process prior to departing on the Silver Wind.  And what a whirlwind of an experience it was!  I feel like I had my ass whipped into shape for singing and dancing.  This is a seriously talented group of people, both on the creative behind-the-scenes side and on stage.  I feel so blessed to have this opportunity, and I still haven’t quite grasped the reality of what I’m doing.  I imagine that I’ll still be in disbelief that this is my life until the first time I hear applause from our audience.  Our first show, by the way, will be four days into our first cruise (Athens to Dubai) and is called “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (our Motown show).  Besides the Motown show, we are presenting an all-ABBA show, an opera show, a pop show (in which I will be portraying Lady Gaga – oh yes), a cabaret show featuring Billy Joel songs, and then each of our individual cabaret shows.  I’m bringing my guitar along and will also have an acoustic set.  Lots of music, lots of singing, dancing, smiling, entertaining. This is sure to be an amazing experience.

Aside from what we worked on creatively, it was so wonderful to cultivate new relationships with entertainers from all over America while we were in Las Vegas.  The entire group at Choozi Entertainment was been mind-blowing in their breadth of creativity, imagination and positivity.  They have taken our individual strengths into account and allowed those parts to shine throughout our shows.  In one of our shows aboard the Silver Wind, two of our cast members will don stilts!  And all the other singers that I met were fantastic.  I even met an awesome group of New York-based performers that I’ll hopefully connect with between now and when our ships depart.

Peter and I at all-you-can-eat-Sushi (and we did)
With Camilla in Red Rock (we went to college together at UCSB!)
With Kris, Anastasia and Jovani, seeing "Human Nature"
With Wendee, "Elvis" and Kathleen - at "Legends: In Concert"

The last few days in Vegas were especially great because my Dad booked a last minute trip out and spent time watching our rehearsals and hanging out with me.  It was great to spend time with him while working – and I think he had a great time!

So at this point, I have to just solidify what exactly I’m presenting in my individual cabaret show.  We found out that there will be an instrumental combo on board the ship that might possibly be available to play with us, so I’d like to bring charts for some jazz standards I sang in college with my jazz combo.  Just another possibility.  Why not, right?

Okay so just for fun, I’m going to try adding something on this blog I’ve never used a before, a poll!  In which city along my journey do you think I’m most likely to be mistaken for a local?

I am so looking forward to getting back to my own bed in New York tonight.  Though it will be a little bittersweet without having Marcel to curl up with.  But it sounds like he’s doing great at the Harrell household in California!  Tomorrow (after hopefully sleeping in), it’s back to working out with my Insanity videos (thanks Krystle), drilling our choreography and music, finalizing travel plans, and catching up with my New York buddies!

Final thought:  I just finished reading the Hunger Games series a few minutes ago.  WOW.

Step Ball Change

This week has been FUN!  We started working on our choreography for the ABBA show and have been having such an amazing time whipping our show into quite a presentation.  I am so happy to be working with such talented and creative people.  And unbelievably happy to see that underneath my awkwardly long limbs and silly goofing around, I think there’s actually a happy little dancer inside.  I can actually do this stuff, you guys.  And sing at the same time, you guys.  YOU GUYS!

This week we also discovered the Caesar’s Palace swimming pool.  After a few people recommended giving this a try, we just walked right in, took towels from the front desk, smiled at the attendant, and made ourselves comfortable among the hotel guests.  This was our routine for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  So I’m getting tanner, little by little.  (In case anyone was wondering).  Other recent highlights were a Saturday night out with the Silver Wind crew, to see the Vegas! The Show at the Saxe Theater and then Penn and Teller with Peter and Anastasia on Sunday night.  Vegas! The Show was a lot of fun, and just enhanced the whole Las Vegas thing with my new friends.  It was a great night all together, with some of my new friends clueing us in on the all the little hidden Las Vegas hotspots. Penn and Teller was silly and fun – Penn was so tall, 6’7″!  I’ve been having such a great time with my cast mates.  And we’re even trying to get into shape together!  Tomorrow morning is Day 2 of my attempt at the workout “Insanity.”  I love doing it also because two of my former co-workers from The Ride are IN the video.  That’s got to be motivation right?

Now the one thing I absolutely wanted to share were some pictures from our early morning photo shoot this week at Red Rock.  It was a beautiful landscape for our group pictures, and made me want to organize a little hiking group out there to take advantage of this picturesque location.  Come on you guys, city girl needs to get her hike on!

The Silversea Cruise Cast
The Silver Wind

So there are 24 of us total, the six in the above picture are on my ship, the Silver Wind.  On the top left is Peter (my buddy from NYC and my soon-to-be-roommate on board), then Krystle from Georgia, Kathleen from Los Angeles, Jeff from Indiana, then on the bottom next to me is Paul from Los Angeles.  I LOVE my cast so much, we are going to have a great time on board.  We are all looking forward to working on our ‘songbook’ show which is featuring the music of Billy Joel.  I just placed an order for the a cappella arrangements of “And So It Goes” and “For the Longest Time” and we plan to work on those on our own time to throw them into the mix.  These guys are amazing!

Okay enough for now.  I need to get my beauty rest before an early morning Insanity session.

Above and Beyond

In case I haven’t mentioned it quite enough, the people that I am working with in Las Vegas are absolutely incredible.  Sometimes life truly throws you a curve ball, and the unexpected becomes a dark reality. This happened a few days ago, when one of our cast members lost her mother in an accident.  I can’t imagine what this person has been going through this week, dealing with service arrangements while also preparing for this new job.  The company really stepped it up by supporting her yesterday at the service, by being both physically present for her as a team of support, and then singing “Amazing Grace” while accompanied by one the cast members on guitar.  Additionally, one of the men in show sang an original song that had originally been composed for his own mother’s service, at the same funeral home.  It was so unbelievably beautiful and touching. This was obviously something no one had expected to deal with while here for rehearsals, but a great number of people were gladly there to support our new friend.  My heart goes out to her and to her family.  It was this small gesture that truly pointed to me the absolute sincerity and kindness of my fellow performers. Incredible.

Today we are back in rehearsals, working on the Motown show – let’s keep the up the momentum!

Welcome to Paradise… Paradise, Nevada

The last few days have been a whirlwind.  I don’t even know where to start.  I feel so lucky to have fallen into this lovely group of creative and talented people!  We are working so very hard on such FUN material.  And learning the details of what we can expect once aboard our ships is almost overwhelming.  I literally gasped aloud when we learned about where most of our meals will take place.  The “Officer’s Mess” is a name that sounds misleading to a novice mariner like me, because a ‘mess’ is not to be expected when you’re dining on white linen with waiter service.  Uh.  WHAT?  All luxuries aside, the group of people I’m currently working with is enough to sustain my craving for fine things.  These people are talented, smart, great musicians, and INTERESTING!  I can’t wait to see what kinds of cabaret shows each artist conceives.  Of course, they will continue to be developed after we finish our group rehearsals in mid-October, but I am eager to take inspiration and work collaboratively with my cast mates while we’re here.

To give a rundown of what we’ve been up to, we all arrived in Las Vegas (well, Paradise, really) on Sunday evening.  It was great to meet everyone as we all gossiped and chatted about what would happen the next day at our first rehearsal.  So, what happened, right?  I’ll tell you what happened.  ABBA happened.  ABBA happened hard.  Monday and Tuesday were dedicated to musical rehearsals for our ABBA show, “Abbalicious,” and damn is it fierce!  It is so fun to sing this stuff in six part harmony with one person on each part.  That’s my kind of singing, folks.  We’re working with the creative team on the vision of the show, so solos haven’t been divided out yet, but I really rediscovered my love of “The Winner Takes It All.”  Beautiful.

We powered through ABBA and finished ahead of schedule – go team!  So this morning my ship got together to drill through the set, then we had a rehearsal our musical director.  Following our lunch break, we had our first foray into “movement” – aaaiii!  It’s definitely different for me to be doing something with actual choreography, definitely a challenge, but I think I will own it in my way and it will be a lot of fun!  And then this afternoon we dove into our second show, based on Motown hits.  We are going to be having a blast doing our new jobs, to say the least.

I am so happy to be here, and I feel so blessed.  This is the perfect place for me right now.