Thursday, May 19, 2011


For the past two weeks, I've been kind of busy - thus the lack of blog posts.  In the evenings I've been rehearsing for Oklahoma and during the day I've been helping out with the odds and ends of production.

When watching a show, I've been aware of the concept that people worked on costumes, gathered props, constructed sets and painted.  But there is so much more to those tasks than you can imagine in just watching a show.

Oklahoma has a cast of 60 plus people.  Everyone has a costume.  Most have two.  I have four.  Start doing the math.  Most of the costumes were pulled from the theater's extensive closet so only twenty or so costumes had to be made.  But all the costumes had to be fit, hemmed and trimmed.  Accessories have to be found - we are in Belgium and we needed cowboy hats, gun holsters and chaps.  I'm impressed that these things were found.

The script has reference to many different props - knives, playing cards, garters, fancy underwear, elixir bottles, picnic hampers, a saddle and more.  Our props mistress had to find all these things, organize them and lay them out backstage so we can find them easily.

Our set has been in the works for weeks now.  Aunt Eller's house has been under going construction and renovation for the entire time.  Drops and wings have been painted and shaded and touched up.  Some set pieces have been painted four times until just the right look has been achieved.  I watched one of the set painters spend over 8 hours putting clouds in the sky.  I don't have any idea how many hours the other set painter spent painting corn but she was at it for days.   As I don't have the artistic talent to paint anything, I've tried to help with the more mundane tasks.  I painted wing extensions black, painted trim on the house, and covered various boxes with the appropriate base coat so that they could be dry brushed later.  Screw heads and staples are all touched up with matching paint colors.  The attention to detail is quite admirable.

The hours required to put on a show are incredible and in community theater most are volunteer.   Now that I've seen the work up close, I appreciate it more and am grateful for the people who take the time to make what happens on stage look fantastic.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Things I have become used to

The other day I made a quick stop at the local grocery store.  On the way in I realized that without thinking about it I had automatically grabbed my reusable grocery bags which led to me reflect on all the things I have become accustomed to since arriving in Belgium.  So here's my list...

1.  Carrying my own shopping bags into the store.  I have a bunch of them that ride around in my back seat.

2.  Round-a-bouts.  Not only am I used to them but I really do like them.  Stop signs are rare here.  Standard practice at intersections is to slow down, make sure traffic is clear and keep on going.

3.  Speaking French.  I'm not great but I'm proficient and comfortable navigating my daily life in French.

4.  Seeing cows (and smelling them).  Our street is in the midst of several small farms.  When the roads aren't muddy Dobby and I walk by a particular herd's pasture on a daily basis.  The calves are really cute.

5.  No garbage disposal.  I don't like not having one, but I've figured out the work arounds now.

6.  Length of time it takes to do laundry.  Once again, I will welcome larger capacity and faster cycles when we return to the US, but I've figured out the rhythm of keeping up with the laundry.

The list isn't exhaustive but I think captures the highlights of the things that took me some getting used to when I first arrived.  Unfortunately one of the other things I've become accustomed to as of late has been sunshine.  The weather has been lovely here and I have to keep reminding myself that standard Belgium weather is gray and rainy.  Not sure if that will ever make the list of things I have become used to.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Yes I know, it's been a while.

Oklahoma and Kyra's recitals have been eating much of my time.  I'll try to write about those things soon but today I'd like to share some news I am excited about.

Last weekend was the European military community theater's equivalent of the Tonys.  It's called the TOPPERs - Tournament of Plays.  As Kyra had rehearsals and recitals all weekend long, I did not go, but hope maybe next year I can.

During the run of Tartuffe, a couple of judges came to see our performance.  They judged it as part of deciding who would be nominated (and win) in a variety of categories.  They also provided the cast and crew with feedback about our production.

As you can see from the photo, yes I did win a TOPPER for best actress in a comedy.  What you can't see from the photo is that the other female lead won as well.  You also can't see that the entire cast was nominated for acting awards and that every lead won.  We won best ensemble.  The show won.  The director won.  Many of the crew were nominated and several won.

When Judi Dench won a best supporting actress award for her role (8 minutes long) in Shakespeare in Love she said of her director (John Madden) that if he called her up and asked her to lean a a door way for a few seconds in a film she would.  I understand what she is saying.

Dan took an entire cast of amateurs and created an award winning show.  Even the young girl with the non speaking role won for best featured actress in a comedy.   At the moment I feel a bit in over my head with Oklahoma but I trust my director to help me perform well.  I trust him so much I'm willing to sing solo in public for him.  (I'll let you know how that goes)

I can't post this until I note that Kyra was nominated for her role in Bye Bye Birdie.  She was nominated as Outstanding Female Youth in Community Theater.  (btw - the award went to Melyssa Gomez for her role in Tartuffe)