Sunday, April 3, 2016

Some feels to share

Every once in a while I get to share a moment with an audience member that I consider to be sacred. Yes, even in a crazy, sparkly, dance-party show like "Joseph."

As I was leaving the theatre tonight, there was a family waiting by the door, I waved at them and said "hi" and they started to tell me how much they enjoyed the show. I thanked them, and then their daughter/granddaughter very shyly shook my hand. I took a moment to ask her name, and talk to her about the show. After talking to her for a moment, another member of the family said "I don't think it is possible for you to understand how much this show has meant to us. We've been going through a really rough time as a family, and tonight our cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing." As I looked back at all the family members, they were nodding in agreement, and I could see the pain of whatever they are going through as a family on their faces. It was a special moment for me because it reminded me of why I do this. I love to perform! It is a rush and I love to sing and act, but these moments are what really keep me going.

I got emotional as I was driving home from the theatre as I thought about this family, and how grateful I am that I got to be a part of something, that even just for a moment helped them escape from the difficulty of their lives and find some joy. And then I started remembering other special moments that shaped my perspective on performing.

One of the most powerful was while I was working at Carriage House theatre in Cardston, Alberta. After a Saturday night performance we went out to greet as usual. While greeting, this elderly man in the lobby took my hand. With tears in his eyes he thanked me for my performance, and then proceeded to explain that he and his wife had driven quite a ways to see the shows. He told me his wife was going into the hospital on the following Monday to start a final treatment of chemo, and he wasn't sure if she was going to survive it. Because of this, they decided to take one final road trip with each other. They set out, not really sure where they were headed, and ended up in Cardston. They were just driving through, and they saw the marquee for our Thursday night show. They decided to go, and loved it so much they stayed in Cardston the entire weekend so that they could see all three shows. He cried as he thanked me for making what could be his last weekend getaway with his wife so memorable. I also cried.

I am currently finishing up my last bit of school at BYU where I have been studying Musical Theatre. It is so easy to get caught up in the "craft" and to get so nit-picky with myself. In fact, the pressure has been driving me crazy, and making me feel like I wouldn't mind just letting this whole thing go. But, these are the moments that matter. They transcend. This family didn't care if I was resonating properly, or if I was following my impulses completely, or how grounded I was, or any of the other myriad of things I get critiqued on every day at school. Those skills help improve the gift, but in the end, every performance is for the audience, it shouldn't ever be about ME! It is about the gift!

"Fame, if you win it,
comes and goes in a minute,
where's the real stuff in life to cling to?
Love is the answer,
someone to love is the answer."

"Make someone happy,
make just one someone happy,
and you will be happy too."

- Make Someone Happy

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Those Pesky Closing Nights

Last night was closing night of Fiddler on the Roof at Sundance, and I must say that being a part of this show has been an awesome experience! It has been so fulfilling, and just plain fun. But the thing that rips at my heart is not so much that the house is empty, and the lights and costumes and music will go away, but more the fact that I wont get to spend my evenings in the company of my fellow cast and crew members anymore.

In every single show/performing group I have been a part of I have forged friendships that I still cherish to this day, and Fiddler is no exception.

Its amazing how it happens. First there are the auditions where you start to meet people. You maybe hope to work with some, and maybe not so much some others. And then after some waiting the cast list goes up. At first its just this random list of names that you don't really know, but then the rehearsals begin and these random names get faces. You awkwardly start to build relationships with these faces, shuffling through the “get to know you” questions, making small talk, and then starting to joke with each other while you work. After a while the ice breaks, and you begin to play with these people. Like, actually play and joke and laugh til you ache. 

This is where the magic happens. In between the jokes, these people begin to open up and share their true selves with you, and these random “small talk” names with faces begin to flesh out into the most incredible and real humans. Not even just normal humans, but performers. I LOVE performers, they are loud, impulsive, colorful, opinionated, stubborn, and so passionate. Sometimes they are total wrecks (me included), but they live vibrantly, and love deeply. They fill me with life.

After a few weeks of this beautiful fleshing out process, you begin to open yourself up to these new friends, you share your dreams and your heartaches and your life. In return you feel so much love that you can't even stand it, and you begin to wonder how you ever lived in a world where these people were just names on a list. And it starts to feel like you never actually did live in a world where you didn't know them. 

And then closing night rolls around, and the show ends, and you see the empty seats, and the lights go out, and the parking lot is empty and the crowds are gone, and you hug your new friends goodbye, and maybe even cry a bit. And your heart breaks a little because you know that you have to go back to a life where this little passionate group of friendships you developed becomes once again a list of people. But now the list is different. From now on this list of people has faces, and memories, and a little part of your heart.

And some of the people on this list you will stay connected with and you will keep up on each others lives, and visit, and call, and reminisce, and even maybe work with again. And other people on this list you may loose contact with, not because they didn't matter, but because that's just how life is. And then when the little tug at your heart softens, you begin to look forward with so much excitement to the next list of names that you find yourself on, so that those names can get faces, and then become performer humans, and then you can forge more beautiful friendships, and be amazed once again at the goodness that is in the world. And be so grateful to God that he lets you be surrounded by such amazing humans. And then cry once again when you have to say goodbye.

But what a beautiful life; to allow yourself to love and feel and laugh and cry a bit, and then eventually say goodbye. 
 And then do it all over again..
 and again.
 and again.

....I am blessed.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

Here are some of my favorite moments and memories from the last year.

When I rang in the new year in the happiest place on Earth:

Its not a celebration if you're not eating.... Just sayin

That one time these two people came along:

And then made way too many of these:

That one time I moved to Canada for the summer, met some of the most amazing people, and it was a happy healing experience:

That one time in Canada when I jumped into a frozen lake. . . and said some things...

When I went to the Florida version of the happiest place on earth and spent the week with some non-blood family. Ariel and Goofy were there too. ;)

Also: when I hunted all over Canada for a Canadian tank top, but ended up having to make my own.

When God gave me the green light to run at my dreams, and I started in the MDT program at BYU and met more awesome people:

This is not everyone, but I kind of sucked at taking pictures this fall....
Also: When i got to wear that hat.

Anytime that I got to be with my family:

Including this moment that was caught on camera that will forever make me smile:

Don't be fooled, it wasn't perfectly peachy the whole time. But it was a good year, and I'm glad for the great times that came from it.

Here's to an awesome 2014!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Summer is winding down

So, I was not as good as I thought I was going to be at keeping this blog completely updated. Sorry everyone.

The shows are going well, performing has been a blast! The roles I am playing have been quite a stretch for me, but I really wanted this summer to be a growing experience. So, with the help of Brian, I have worked really hard on tuning up my acting/singing. I'm not where I need to be yet, but I can feel that I have grown, and it is very rewarding. I'm really lucky actually, because Brian is one of the best personal tutors I could ever have asked for. I feel kind of bad, I don't think I have been near the help to him as he has been to me, he's basically a genius and an incredible teacher.... So, yeah... Its been great. I've been feeling kind of bad that he has helped me out so much, and I haven't been as much help back, but the other day I realized that I make hummus and cookies a lot. So, that's what I bring to the table (no pun intended). haha.

Here are some pictures that Brian's parents took after All Shook Up

The lovely Amy Zemp (Director)
Greeting the Audience after the show, always so fun. So many funny stories!
The immensely talented Sydnee Ralph. Its been awesome working with her!

As far as notable experiences since my last post, there have been a few.

Canada Day
One of my favorite holidays has always been the 4th of July, so I was sad that I was going to be out of the US this year. But let me tell you, Canada day pulled through. It was a blast! In the morning the cast marched/danced/yelled/sang our way through the Raymond Parade. Raymond is tiny, but they go all out, and it was so fun. Then we went to spend the day with the Ralph family, and let me tell you, this family knows how to party. The best part of the day was mud rugby in this giant mud pit for an hour or so, and then they loaded us all into the back of this truck, and we went bridge jumping to clean off. So flipping fun! After that we got some delicious food and headed back to Cardston for an impressive little firework show considering the size of this town.  

One thing that hasn't been so fun is my allergies. We basically live in the middle of this windy prairie farmland, and all the fields around are killing me.... When my allergies first hit me, I was wiped out, and maybe a little grouchy. See, I have a really low pain tolerance, so there was one point that I was taking about 6-8 pills a day in order to keep things under control. I'm down to one now, and benadryl every night so I can sleep without getting a bloody nose. Its been super fun... :/ I could never live here for longer than a summer!

Back on to the positive things, I FINALLY saw a bear in the wild!

Brian's Dad actually took this picture, but I was right there next to him. :)
Last year I lived at the gates of yellowstone, the bear capitol of North America, and I never saw a bear. Every time we have gone into waterton I have been hoping to see one, and finally my wish came true. It was cool! So, now I actually believe that bears exist in the wild, because as we all know, seeing is believing. ;)

And then, there have been so many fun hikes.
Brian... on a dare. haha
Natural waterslide.... Not as smooth as man made, only a few bruises.

Red Rock Canyon is stunning!
Waterton with Sue. :) Don't be confused by my Yellowstone shirt. Just paying homage.
Not a hike, but I like this picture. This is Nathan, Devin, me, and Brian with Emily Zemp at her older sister Trisha's wedding.

And, one quick last note, I'm super excited because......

My family is coming this Weekend!!!! Can't wait to see them. Can't wait to get a hug from my mom and dad. It will be so fun to have them around. I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Down to the Wire

Our first show opens this Friday, and I'm dead tired. When I woke up this morning it felt like each of my limbs had a 40lb weight attached; and like I hadn't slept at all.

This part of the process is stressful, but its also a lot of fun. We are getting down to the nitty gritty nit picky things, and its making the show come alive! So exhausting, but I love my job.

Because of all the rehearsing that is happening, I haven't had much time to do other fun things over the past little while, but a couple of weeks ago we went into Waterton for a hike, and it was stunning!

Waterton has become one of my favorite places! It is so beautiful! We took a hike up to a place called Wall Lake. Which is very fitting considering it is pretty much a wall and then a lake. The lake is full of glacier water so it is FREEZING, but crystal clear blue, and deceivingly inviting
Here is my attempt at patching different shots together to get a view... it kind of worked.

At the onset of the hike, none of us were planning on getting in the water, but once we got up there we "Yolo'd" it and decided to jump in.. . none of us brought swimsuits except for Rachel, so the rest of us stripped down to our undies for a freezing cold dip in the lake. We decided that since we knew it was cold, it would be a better idea to rush in instead of going in slow... so we did. It was SO COLD. The shock of the water made it hard to breathe, and my whole body went numb. It was kind of hysterical. We all looked like fools.

Luckily this picture does not come with audio...


Overall, it was a really fun day. I can't wait to get these shows open so I have more free time to go exploring in this stunning place. 

I can't get over how pretty the water was... these pics do not do it justice, but trust me!

One last thing worth noting is the Calgary Flooding. All of the towns around Cardston have been flooding. From what I know however, the town of Cardston itself has not had much trouble. Though, many people here have friends and family that have been affected. 

The only way I was directly affected was that on the night of the crazy rainstorm that caused this flooding, Brian and I were driving two and a half hours to Calgary to pick up Brian's brother from the airport. The rain was insane. So much lighting, and so much rain. We were praying the whole time. It was scary. I thought it was a normal thing for Alberta though, and had no idea that we were driving through such a bad storm. It was interesting when we woke up the next morning to find out that Calgary was flooding like crazy, and we had just been there five hours earlier to pick up Mark. We were contemplating getting a hotel because the rain was so bad, and we were tired and didn't want to drive back, but I'm glad we didn't stay.

My Amazing Father

There are a lot of great dads out there. There are also a lot of crummy ones...

I don't know why I got so lucky, but I got an amazing one!

When I was a teen my tune would have been a little different. But, when I was a teen I...... I was a teen. 'Nuff said. What I thought were masterfully crafted attempts to destroy my life, were actually firm and loving boundaries set in place in order to protect me from what he perceived as danger (and, looking back I can see that he was very wise in perceiving it as such).

These are just three of the reasons why I think that this man is the greatest.

1) He loves God.
     This has never been a question. I have always known it to be a fact. He is very devout, and he has made it his life calling to share his knowledge and love of God with my siblings and me. I am so grateful for this.

2) He loves my mother.
     In my whole life I have NEVER heard my father speak poorly about my mother. Not once! I truly believe that I am very lucky to have been raised in such a home. This is not to say that I have never seen him disagree with my mother or get upset. But any disagreement is resolved quietly, respectfully, and often with laughter. It's actually kind of fun to watch them become grandparents. They bicker about funny little things, and then laugh, and give each other a big smooch and move on.

3) He loves his children.
     This man would bend over backwards in order to support, understand, and help his children. He takes his fatherhood responsibility very seriously. As different hardships have taken their toll on myself and my siblings, I have witnessed him reach out with understanding and charity that has left me stunned. I'm kind of lucky in the fact that as the youngest of nine kids I've been the only one at home for a while. I've seen the behind the scenes of how he goes about supporting and helping his grown children with real, tough, sticky problems. And all I can say is that I hope I can be a father like him one day!

Now, my dad is not perfect, and I'm not claiming that he is.  But he is amazing! I will claim that. And I wouldn't trade him for the world. I'm lucky to have him, and I hope to have him around for a long long time! Even if he becomes an unbearably stubborn crotchety old man. . . And when I say if, I mean when. But those are the days I can look back on this post and remember that ornery or not, he rocks! ;)

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Carriage House Summer Begins

Alright folks,

After a couple weeks, I'm starting to get all settled in here in Cardston. So far I'm really enjoying it.

The town is small, but not tiny, and it kind of feels like home. Its about 95% LDS and it reminds me a lot of Kaysville/Farmington area. Its a bit smaller, but it has the same feel. Overall, its a nice cozy little town. And the weather has been really nice as well.

The Shows are coming along, and its exciting. The one I've done the most work on so far is All Shook Up, and folks, it is hysterical! Its going to be a really fun show. Playing the roustabout is posing to be quite a stretch for me. But in a good way. :)

Annie is... well, Annie. As stupid and Corny as ever, but pretty low stress, and lots of fun. The little girl who plays Annie is so adorable that the stupidity of the script doesn't even matter.

As far as Les Mis goes, it feels like we haven't rehearsed it very much... but we did a read/sing through with the cast and it was pretty Amazing!

I love my roommates. We have been hard at work at the Zemps Gym every morning. Everyone is clean, and everyone is really chill. So overall our apartment is quiet, clean, and chill. Perfectamundo!

When we are not in rehearsal we like to play as a cast. The people I work with are awesome! One of our first adventures was to go to a beach at one of the lakes near by. We didn't really know where we were going, and we tried just winging it, but we ended up trudging through a bunch of fields in order to get close enough to the water to play... and then the beach was really muddy! haha. Also, it was super windy... so our day at the beach was kind of a fail, but it was an adventure, and now we know what NOT to do next time.

The Mud was actually clay and it stuck to our feet like super glue.... it was impossible. haha

Then on Saturday we went as a cast to Calgary, and it was so much fun. On Friday night Darren, Devin, Brian, and I decided that we would go up to Calgary to go to the Zoo. Originally the girls were not going to come with, but once they heard we were going to the Zoo they decided they wanted to come. We left early on Saturday morning, and the girls met us at the Chinook Mall, and then we went to get food at Moxie's.

Brian, Me, Darren, Devin (We all live in the same apartment) and Janae, Sydnee, Jordan, and Michelle.
While we were eating, the Ladies decided that they would rather shop all day, so the four of us guys ended up going to the Zoo alone. It was all good though. Bro time. haha.

I think the highlight of the day was the cougars that were "cuddling." It was hysterical. Oh nature...haha

Anyway, overall things are going really well. I'm loving it. And, I'm making a promise that I will post at least once a week.... we'll see about that. :)

Peace and Blessings from Cardston.