Post-Show Blues

Twelfth Night closed with a bang on March 5th – overall, we had a fantastic run of shows; and an even more fantastic closing weekend. It could very well be that they were my favorite cast to work with. Ever. Not counting Reid and Nathan, of course – but those guys are my guys, so I get to hang with them more often than not. Often when shows come to a close, I am ready to be done with them…it just feels right to move on. But this time around I find myself missing these amazingly kind and funny people. It makes me sad to think that the same group will never hang out in the greenroom together again. Sad-almost-to-the-point-of-tears-sad. Yes, The Post-Show Blues have pulled up a chair and made themselves comfortable. Tacky, really, since they weren’t invited in the first place. But alas, here they are. I hate them.

But then I was quickly consumed with the hype of The Monster of Phantom Lake premiere at The Heights Theatre, which was a certified blast. I don’t know how one goes about getting a blast certification, but one was definitely obtained. Honestly, I was highly apprehensive about the screening; I would have much preferred to take a Valium, show up late, and sit in the back corner and watch everyone – but I realized the evening wasn’t about my acting (which, in this film, I can safely say is pretty terrible), it was about celebrating this silly-yet-enchanting movie that we made. And celebrate we did. I had loads of family and friends there – and I keep finding out daily about more friends who were there, but who I never saw (the glasses didn’t go with the vintage dress). It was reassuring to be surrounded by 250 people who were excited to be there and quick to laugh. The positive reviews kept rolling in, and it felt great…

…but then my usually-out-of-town family went back to their respective homes, I got my apartment back, and I was unable to answer to the question, “what are you working on now?” without sounding pathetic.

But THEN I got to spend some time on Sunday with my main music men Dan and Don…and made super-slick recordings of Feste’s songs from Twelfth Night. Dan played like the pro he is, I sang my heart out, Don was the best cheerleader ever, and we were engineered by Kent, who worked on an album with one of my favorite bands (holy crap!). These guys definitely made my day.

And now here I am…reminiscing in the awesomeness of it all…and not foreseeing such levels of awesomeness converging again anytime soon. Who’s feeling needy? That'd be me, the one with her needy little hand raised. The only thing that could make this worse would be getting my wisdom teeth pulled tomorrow. Oh wait, I am getting my wisdom teeth pulled tomorrow. feh.

Twelfth Night reviews

We have garnered a few reviews now for Twelfth Night at Theatre in the Round - and since I'm proud of our work and thoroughly respect audience feedback, here is a tidy list for your perusal: St. Paul Pioneer Press (My character is part of the "Rat Pack") AOL City Guide - Top Five Picks of the Week Matthew Everett - In My Humble Opinion (Twin Cities playwright) Chris Kidder - Fringe By Numbers (Twin Cities playwright, director) Lavender Magazine, Arts and Entertainment: On the Townsend (more of a preview than a review, but I'm called hilarious and therefore this gets linked)

"...and thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges." Kidding, kidding. There are some great praises and valued criticism in each of the reviews. Matthew Everett's is definitely my favorite on the whole - yes, he says very kind things about my portrayal of Feste so he gets extra gold stars on his paper, but I feel his review was exceptionally thorough and well-founded.

And of course, I wouldn't be doing my job as an active promoter of this work justice if I didn't urge you to come out and see the show for yourself... so, uh, come out and see the show for yourself. You'll be glad you did. For real.

Rough-Night Riders

Holy Hannah, last night’s performance was a tough sell. I am the first to admit when there’s an even remote possibility that it’s my fault, or when the cast as a whole seems a bit off – but for the most part last night we put in a dang good show, and the audience just wasn’t having it. Sure, there were laughs here and there, and at one point I could see that one of my lines thoroughly delighted a woman in the audience; but overall, it just wasn’t grabbing them.

The backstage charades commenting on their cadaverous nature were a hoot: there were pantomimes of pulling teeth, slitting throats, in addition to desperate goofy dances. In the green room there were lamentations about waiting for the rigor mortis to set in, and suggestions of streaking across stage between scenes, or perhaps some strategically placed fellatio – ANYTHING to wake them up. Alas, we plodded onward as scripted.

It makes me wonder if audiences truly understand the power they have to make or break a show. We feed off an audience’s energy so that we can reflect it back upon them, and last night they sucked all of our energy out of us…they were the black hole of funny. I thoroughly believe they had a combination of the Friday Night Sleepies and overwhelming dread of the show ending and having to go back outside (a -9 standing temperature with -35 degree windchill will do that to people).

To top it all off, Monday night I came down with a nasty cold-slash-cough – and have been doing everything in my power since then to fight it, of course to no avail. My throat was dry, I couldn’t hold in all my coughs, and my concentration was spotty. The singing was going generally okay, though, until I totally botched the last song; leaving Dan-the-Rockstar-Guitarist out to dry (my continued sincere apologies, friend!). So any joy the audience would have walked away with quickly turned to pity. Um, oops.

I call a do-over.

To end on a positive note, here are some great reviews from last week: St. Paul Pioneer Press (I’m included in the “Rat Pack”) AOL City Guide – Top Five Picks of the Week


Well find me some peacock feathers, ‘cause I’ve got some strutting to do. We couldn’t have asked for a better opening night - our cast brought it home beautifully, and the audience was the Best. Audience. Ever. They laughed and laughed and laughed…and at the actual words in addition to the low-comedy bits. They were completely hopped up on goofballs, and we luhved them for it.

It set quite the standard, that’s for sure. Yes, yes, there were some mishaps – in my opening scene while I was dressing and singing, I misbuttoned my shirt without realizing it until I tried to put on the tie and it wasn’t working (I was able to fix it, though, before the song ended – which is good because audiences obsess about things like that); our Maria ate it, twice, on one of her entrances – but she and the others played it out like pros (I didn’t get to see it, but I was downstairs in the greenroom and heard the fall above me, followed by the outpouring of audience laughter); I know I’m forgetting more – but damn, it was good.

After the show a family friend said to me, “It was wonderful! And I didn’t know you could sing like that!” Frankly, neither did I. Baby's all growed up! Honestly, there were a couple of things I didn’t know I could do before starting this role. This show has been an incredible experience, and I am so honored to be surrounded by such talent. From our fantastic director, David Mann; to the brilliant cast; to Roxanne, our stage manager that is the most competent SM I’ve ever worked with; to Don, the catchy-tune composing Ph.D.; and Dan the kick-ass guitarist; to the entire design and tech crew…every single one of these people stepped up to create a fantastic piece of work.

Well done, good chaps, well done.

Oh, and as for yesterday’s post – I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. feh. But, to combat this minor world injustice, I stayed in my monkey PJs until 2 pm. Take THAT, Saturday morning!

All the News That's Fit to Print

The Monster of Phantom Lake PremiereFilmed in black and white, The Monster of Phantom Lake is a throw-back to the B-grade science-fiction/horror movies of the 1950s.

I am thrilled to report that the premiere date and location for The Monster of Phantom Lake are finally confirmed! Mark your calendars for Thursday, March 9, 2006 and join us at the lovely Heights Theater for a 7:30 pm screening. Running time is 90 minutes, so bribe your babysitters accordingly.

The director and cast (and my parents) will be present, and DVDs of TMoPL that include outtakes and director’s commentary will be available for purchase onsite after the show. For those of you out-of-towners not able to make it to Minneapolis during the snowiest month of the year, I will post an update in the near future about how the DVD can be purchased online.

Heights Theater 3951 Central Avenue NE Columbia Heights, MN 55421 tel: 763.788.9079

Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night opens next week at Theatre in the Round 1960s Cape Cod is the setting for this production of Shakespeare’s dark, witty comedy of romantic confusion. The drunken Toby Belch torments Malvolio, while cross-dressing Viola finds herself caught in a love triangle. Twelfth Night’s tale of madness, love, and mistaken identities makes for a charming evening, rich with Shakespeare’s poetry and prose, and featuring some of his finest low comedy.

I am playing the part of Feste, and will be dressed as a Drag King and singing regularly throughout the show. Luckily, the director has brought in a guitarist to accompany me onstage, so I have been relieved of my auto-harp duties and will only be playing a few chords on the ukulele (even though I actually learned how to play the song that it accompanies). Performing Shakespeare while singing, and accompanying myself on instruments I’ve never touched before this rehearsal process, is a bit like patting my pia mater and rubbing my stomach, so I find great relief in our new guitarist.

Anyway, we open NEXT WEEK, so come see!

Previews: Wednesday - Thursday, February 8 - 9, 7 pm Tickets: $5

Performances: Fridays - Sundays, February 10 - March 5, 8 pm (EXCEPT Sunday, Feb. 12 + Sunday, March 5 – 2 pm only) Tickets: $20*

*I have unlimited vouchers for $2 off per ticket for every member in your party – contact me for details.

Theatre in the Round 245 Cedar Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55454 tel: 612.333.3010

Gettin’ My Man Groove On

A little eyeliner in non-traditional places goes a long way toward making me look like Guido from junior year of high school. Desperate to make positive steps toward finding a believable Feste, I drew on a mustache/goatee combination and hung out in front of the full-length mirror for a while last week. I discovered that the combination of facial hair, the right clothing, pulled back/parted hair, raised shoulders, and Rat Packian moves make me seem, oddly enough, less ridiculous than I seem at rehearsals. So I’m studying me some men; men movements, men speech patterns, men gestures. If men are doing it, I am studying it. Right now, I’ve got the Sammy Davis, Jr. Show on the tube and what I notice most is no arm movement above the elbows – his upper arms are totally plastered to his torso. Unless he’s dancing.

Dudes – being a man is HARD – and all of you XYers reading this have had your entire lives to learn how to not look like schmucks. I’ve only got a few weeks left… any essential tips? And don’t pull a fast one on me – I don’t want to learn how to “walk like a man” by watching Willis teach Arnold in an episode of Diff’rent Strokes, because we all remember how THAT turned out.

Got Ukulele, Will Travel

DUDES. There is a ukulele in my living room and tomorrow it will be joined by an autoharp. My place is being overtaken by the Ridiculous Instrument Brigade. Here’s the scoop: I’m in the middle of rehearsals for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night over at Theatre in the Round. It’s set in 1960s Cape Cod, and seeing as my character, Feste, is a complete anachronism of the era (since when have we kept paid comedians about the house?), my director has created an alternative. An alternative that is going to be, by far, one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done onstage.

I, as Feste, will be playing him/her as a Drag King a la one Mr. Murray Hill. I've never played a woman playing a 60s era male hepcat comedian before. Oh, and did I mention that through the singing parts I will be accompanying myself on the ukulele and autoharp, both of which I don’t yet know how to play? And we open in a little over a month. So, um, I’m a little nervous. I’M COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT.

Totally waiting for the admission of hidden cameras and everyone to come out laughing, but it’s just not happening…

How to Succeed in Business by Trying Really Hard and Freaking Out About It…

…or All the Tedious Details of How I Got Cast in Twelfth Night at Theater in the Round in a Role Usually Played By Men and Liked It November 29th: The Neverending Audition 7 pm - Arrived at the theater, signed in, then dutifully found a corner on the floor of the overly-actory lobby and reviewed my monologue roughly a million times.

8 pm – scored a coveted spot on what would turn out to be a very hard bench. Saw some familiars, traded witty banter at various intervals between the million-and-first and billionth reviews of my monologue.

9 pm – after getting out of her audition, a girl announced to her “friend” that it went REALLY well. Her monologue, she continued, was Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. Damnit. Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing was the monologue I was REALLY reviewing for the trillionth time. Gah.

10:07 pm – “Leigha Horton, you’re on deck.” Thank GOD. I stand up and stretch and forget my entire monologue. Continue to obsess over monologue until called onto stage.

10:15 pm – called onto stage.

10:18 pm – Them: “Thanks Leigha, that was great! We’ll be calling people tonight to let them know if we’d like to see them again at tomorrow night’s callbacks.” Me: Tonight? Really? You’re going to be up pretty late! Them: yeah, well…

10:30 pm - Get home and want to crash, but instead phone Monkey with all the details. He tries to remind me of my official “Audition, Then Forget About It” Rule (if I don’t hear back, no big deal; if I do, it’s party time), and I try to explain how this one is different. How I really, really want this, and really think that I am able to do the show justice - me and Bill are tight, monkey! TIGHT. At this point I have officially become tired and whiny. Not the sexiest of states, but whatever – I’ve got needs. Rules no longer apply.

11:30 pm - no call. I go to bed very, very sad.

November 30: Wake up, still very sad.

In the afternoon, I get an e-mail explaining that David’s decision is way harder than he anticipated, and he needs more time to pull together the list of names for callbacks. The Horton Happy Dance ensues...I have not been officially denied yet. There is hope. SWEET. And then I realize that it just means more waiting and wondering. Horton Happy Dance comes to an abrupt stop.

December 3: I get a call from the Stage Manager – David would like to see me again at callbacks on December 6. Score. Resume HHD.

December 6: The Neverending Callback 6:30 pm until 10:45 pm. Callbacks. I’m there. Cool. Some of the mean people at the first auditions haven’t been called back. Also cool. Learn fascinating things about strangers while waiting in the lobby. Get called in to read three or four times over the course of the first three hours. Learn that fellow actor Stephen Frethem and I grew up about three houses down from each other when we were kids. Nothing for the last hour, watch proudly as the former strangers marry and bear children, get dismissed. Head home. Squeal all the details to Monkey. Sleep.

December 7?: It’s all just a blur now Get the call from David that I was funny and he’d like to cast me in the role of Feste. AKA The Clown. AKA the really clever, funny, exceptionally well-written part that’s always played by men. And then I said, "Let me understand this, ‘cause, I don't know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how? I mean, funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh... I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?"

Oh, wait, that was Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. I told you it’s all kind of blurry. I actually said something like, “YES!—wait, what? Feste? Really? That is a SWEET role, but I’m a girl. Well hell, if you want me to play Feste, I will play Feste. Cool.”

So there we have it…angst and sadness and joy and swearing-that-never-happened all wrapped up in a freak package just so that I can be your clown. Dig.