William Morris Endeavor

In early June I spent a week in Los Angeles, meeting with friends and friends-of-friends in the business and picking their brains about their experiences in L.A. thus far.  I also had hopes of meeting with agencies and ultimately getting west coast representation lined up for when I take the next leap in my voiceover career. Which, anyone who has tried to get noticed by a Los Angeles agent long enough to get considered for a meeting can tell you, is no small feat.  Basically, if you’re able to cross the crocodile-piranha-infested moat, slay the 13-headed dragon, and solve the riddle of the sphinx (not the one to which the answer is “man” – a new riddle), then you’re golden.  If not, you’re, to put it delicately, SOL.

But I just happened to luck out with a whole host of people who were wildly generous with their willingness to cross moats, slay dragons, and solve riddles on my behalf.  And so I found myself having three meetings with three agencies, and walking away with representation offers from all three.  And a very difficult, yet exhilarating, choice ahead of me.  And for that I couldn’t be more grateful.

And so, without further ado:

I now proudly find myself represented for voiceover in Los Angeles by William Morris Endeavor.  You can see and listen to my demos in the Commercial-Women and Narration-Women sections (and let's be honest - I would be lying if I didn’t admit that seeing my name fall smack-dab between Tina Fey and Linda Hunt made me squeal and run circles around the room).

I am also delighted and proud to retain The Wehmann Agency for voiceover work in Minneapolis.  Immense thanks to Shirley Venard, Michael Laskin, Sue Scott, Mark and Jill Benninghofen, Rachel Walens, and Matthew G. Anderson for their kindness and their counsel.  I am forever indebted.

2011 in Review

While relatively tedious to compile, I’ve come to love these year-end reviews.  They remind me that I actually make a living at my craft, no matter how insecure I get during the course of the year about my abilities or accomplishments (or seeming lack thereof).  Lists like these remind me that I am doing what I love, and am being rewarded for it.  Lists like these remind me that my career choice bought me passage into my very first house, all on my own, and keeps me there.

Because let’s be honest - there is always a point (or five) in the year when I panic.  I think, ohmygod, they’ve finally realized that I’m a total fraud and NOW I WILL NEVER WORK AGAIN.  EVER.  This happens regularly.  Without fail.  And then I end up inexplicably landing another incredible gig and think, oh, well, okay – maybe I’m not that bad.  It is a joy and an honor to be so lucky.

Without further ado, my performance highlights of 2011:

January Continued part-time work at the Science Museum of Minnesota on the Science Live team – performing live science demonstrations and science-related short plays for museum audiences.

Marketplace Events spots - third year running.  Ty Pennington and me on national TV and radio urging you to attend home shows across the U.S.  TV commercials aired on HGTV and ABC and their affiliates.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus.

VOs for General Mills, but I took very poor notes about this, and have no recollection of what it was for.  My guess is that it was, perhaps, some pickups for the 42 spots I did back in December for Progresso Light Soups, Yoplait and Yoplait Light Yogurts, and Big G Cereals national TV spots.  Note to self in 2012: take better notes.  Recorded at Babble-On for Shout! Creative.

February Script workshop and stage-direction reading for public presentation of Carson Kreitzer’s new play, Behind the Eye, as part of The Playwrights’ Center’s Ruth Easton series.  Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and commissioned by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for a world premiere in April.

Not much else to report other than travel to Florida.  It was warm.  I remember needing that.  Oh yes, and travel to Madison, WI, to teach museum-theater techniques to institutions across the U.S.

March VO for the trailer of TRIUMPH67, an independent feature-length film that went on to become the official selection of the Twin Cities Arab Film Festival.

Spent the day in studio at Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), recording the voice for a sultry character in The Winner, a pilot for Minnesota Stories – a new program dedicated to showcasing Minnesota writers.

VO for Target - a short film about inclusiveness called You Make Us.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus.

Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio at Minnesota Public Radio

April Table-read of a new script by Patrick Coyle at The Jungle Theater.

The Winner, recorded in March, airs twice on Minnesota Public Radio.

May VO for Cadillac.  With Laurence Fishburne.  I played his talking GPS.  Recorded at Babble-On for Fallon.

I bought my very first house, all by myself.  I think this is what officially makes me an adult, but I’m still not quite sold on that idea.  The only reason I’m including this here, amongst my gigs, is because those VO gigs are what made this possible.

Home, in as many words.

June Script workshop and stage-direction reading for public presentation at the Playwrights’ Center of Scratch, a new play by Shira Naharit.

Started rehearsals for Minnesota Middle Finger, Ben San Del’s Minnesota Fringe Festival entry.  Yes, Fringe is in August.  We started way, way early because of everyone’s insane schedules.  I think when all was said and done we only had 12 rehearsals.

July VO demos for Hormel, recorded at Modern Music/Fischer Edit for BBDO.

Co-wrote and produced a short satirical 1950’s-style educational film, The Wonders and Worries of Nanotechnologyon behalf of the Science Museum of Minnesota for The Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net).  Film + Production by Teddy Media.

August 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival, and my performance in Ben San Del’s Minnesota Middle Finger with the incomparable John Middleton and Tim Hellendrung.

VO spots (more, again) for Marketplace Events home shows with Ty Pennington – TV and Radio.  Continued airings on HGTV and ABC.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus.

Three-day script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center of Outcasts of Eden, a new play by Andie Arthur.

Served as host/barker for the AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion at the Minnesota State Fair, on behalf of AFTRA.

Cast in kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva Las Roots! to be presented at Intermedia Arts in October 2011.

Script workshop at The Playwrights' Center


September Cast as both Anne Bonny and Mary Read in the Science Museum of Minnesota’s next major exhibition, Real Pirates, as well as cast in the publicity crew for advance event appearances.  Exhibition opens mid-February 2012.

Attended the 7th annual Ivey Awards – Minneapolis/St. Paul’s version of the Tonys.  Very, very swank.  Very, very inspiring.  I know I said that last year, but I still mean it.

VO spot for General Mills – radio spot for Yoplait Yogurt in the NYC market.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus for Shout! Creative.

Real Pirates coming soon to the Science Museum of Minnesota

October Cast in The Peanut Butter Factory’s next production, Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries – a two-person show with Adam Whisner to be presented late winter/early spring 2012.

Went on a three-day writing retreat to northern Minnesota with the company of kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva Las Roots! to create character and storyline.

VO narration for short documentary Does Every Silver Lining Have a Cloud?, a look at the effect of nanosilver on the environment, created by the Museum of Life + Science in Durham, North Carolina, on behalf of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net).  Recorded at Babble-On.

VO for the National Marrow Donor Program’s annual council awards ceremony recognition film segments.  Recorded at Aaron/Stokes for Blue 60 Pictures.

Script workshop and stage-direction reading at the evening performance of Sarah Gubbins’ new work, The Water Play at The Playwrights’ Center.

Performances of kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva Las Roots!at Intermedia Arts.


November Performances continue of kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva Las Roots!at Intermedia Arts.

Got my eyes did.  Yep.  Lasik.  No more contacts or glasses.  This changes everything on stage and in the recording booth, for the better.

Spent the day at the Hennepin County Courthouse, serving as a key witness in Faegre & Benson’s mock trial program.

Spices in the Viva Las Roots! kitchen.


December VOs for Marketplace Events Home Shows with Ty Pennington – fourth year running!  Recorded at Audio Ruckus.

Appeared on Kare 11 News morning program as Anne Bonny, marketing for the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Real Pirates exhibition opening February 2012.

Script workshop and stage-direction reading at the evening performance of Kira Obolensky’s new play, Vasa Lisa at The Playwrights’ Center, co-presented by Ten Thousand Things.  Workshop in preparation for a late-spring full production by Ten Thousand Things.

Real Pirates get sassy with the news crew at KARE 11.

Epilogue 2011, you treated my career well, and for that I thank you.  2012, we’re going to roll up our shirtsleeves and till this soil for continued growth.  My last major career goal was to make my living as an artist, which I have been doing for the last few years; it’s time to dream bigger dreams.  And then run to catch them.

2010 in Review

End-of-year lists can be so tedious.  I know this.  And yet here we are.  Because the only thing more tedious than end-of-year lists is searching for some documentation of some thing that happened a year or two or three ago, and not being able to find anything about it because I was too lazy/tired/overjoyed/myopic/disassociated to actually write about it.  I therefore offer up this end-of-year list as a compendium of my professional shenanigans so that searching for them in the future won’t drive me crazy.  You’re welcome, Me. Be sure to thank me later. In 2010 I made my living in front of an audience and behind the mic.  And for that I am so deeply in awe.  So deeply grateful for my fortuity.  While our economy is not nearly as bad as 2009, it’s still in terrible disarray and record numbers of people are still unemployed.  Even so, I was able to make a modest living via my profession; a modest living that didn’t require me to engage in morally questionable behavior (the kind where one would accompany a raised eyebrow with ‘actress’ in air-quotes).

Without further ado, my performance highlights of 2010:



  • Began rehearsals for the Science Museum of Minnesota’s next exhibition – The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World, wherein we would perform a three-minute introductory monologue for visitors every 7.5 minutes.  In all honesty, it was mind-numbing, but the visitors were mostly appreciative.
  • Interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio’s Chris Roberts about my line-memorization techniques – ultimately compiled into a clever on-air story and accompanying slideshow with fellow actors Steven Epp, Mo Perry and Clarence Wethern.
  • The Big Oscar Crunch 2010 – wherein I try to see as many of the Oscar-nominated films as humanly possible before the awards ceremony.  The fun of doing it that way is not only seeing excellent movies, but actually feeling invested in more than just the red carpet.
  • Started rehearsals for Spring of Freedom/Summer of Feara new Iranian play by Ali G. Ravi , produced by Table Salt Productions.
  • VO gig for Carlson Companies – got to put Nurse Evelyn Marsden’s darling English accent to good use.


  • Devastated to drop out of Spring of Freedom/Summer of Fear due to a harrowing family crisis which, because it apparently wasn’t bad enough, led to a nasty case of shingles.  Yes, shingles.  Probably the worst three weeks of my adult life to date.
  • Called in by the lovely Barbara Shelton at Bab’s Casting to audition for a new WB pilot Mike and Molly.  The network was looking for someone 30 pounds overweight.  I was exactly that (not anymore, thanks to a newfound love of yoga), and so happily went in.  Between the script (and the eventual casting choice), it became quite clear that LA thinks 30 pounds overweight is the same thing as obese.  Surprising?  Not really.
  • Called in by the Guthrie Theater to audition for the role of Eunice in Streetcar Named Desire.  Almost missed the e-mail because I assumed it was Guthrie marketing spam and was about to delete it.  Didn’t recognize the sender’s name, though, so opened it.  Close call.
  • VOs for Nexxus demos/animatics.  These are voice-overs for a concept by the ad agency for the client.  If it gets approved by the client, the agency then films the spots.  Since I almost never watch commercial TV, I have no idea if these ever made it though the pipeline...my guess is no (especially since many of these were the same as, or similar to, the ones I did in April 2009).


  • VOs for Nexxus demos/animatics – two more sessions.
  • Public reading of Casa Cushman, a new work by NYC’s Tectonic Theater Project (the folks who brought you The Laramie Project, at the University of Minnesota Nolte Center.


  • Crickets. Both figurative and literal.  Aside from live science demonstrations at the Science Museum of Minnesota, it appears that I did nothing performance-related in May.  And I went camping.
  • On Tuesday, May 11, amongst of a jumble of scheduled meetings and things to do, I found written in my calendar, “Hell-cat Maggie and Slops McConnell.”  I have no idea what that means, but I think it’s funny, so thought I would share with anyone who is still reading by this point.  Kiss, kiss.

June More crickets.  Figurative.  See May.



  • 2010 Minnesota Fringe Festival, and my performance in Walking Shadow’s critically acclaimed See You Next Tuesday.  I was so excited to be back at the festival that I advance-purchased an Ultra Pass, with which I ended up only seeing three shows due to an emergency hospital visit and an emergency vet visit.  2010 was not turning out to be a great year for health.
  • VO spots (more, again) for Marketplace Events home shows with Ty Pennington – TV and Radio (listen).  Continued airings on HGTV and ABC.



  • Obscenely busy month that had almost nothing to do with performing.  Included business travel to San Francisco for continued work on behalf of the Science Museum of Minnesota for NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network), with a little leisure travel to San Diego and LA on the side.
  • No! Wait!  Because of my General Mills VOs in September, this is the month that I was required to join the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG)!  That’s right, I got my SAG card in October.  October was not an actorly loss, after all.


  • Started rehearsals for a three-week, 30-hours/week workshop of Casa Cushman – in collaboration with NYC’s Tectonic Theater Project, choreographer Carl Flink, University of Minnesota Department of Theater Arts and Dance, a couple other U of M departments that I can’t recall at the moment, and The Playwrights’ Center.
  • Sent live the brand-spankin’-shiny-new leighahorton.com.


  • Performance of Casa Cushman at the Northrop Auditorium.  This was a wild ride, and at the end of it all, despite some crazy-cray-cray, it was kind of awesome.  And I kind of loved it.
  • VOs for General Mills (42 in total) for Progresso Light Soups, Yoplait and Yoplait Light Yogurts, and Big G Cereals national TV spots.  I just about died and went to heaven.
  • VOs for Marketplace Events Home Shows with Ty Pennington – third year running!
  • Authored and published a children’s book for NISE Net, Alice in Nanoland, which, as you read this, is being mailed to 200 informal science education institutions (science museums, children’s museums, etc.) across the nation in the 2011 NanoDays kits.  What a curious little experience that was.

And there we have it!  The months of 2010 demonstrate both feast and famine and average out to healthy; December being, by far, the most entertaining (well, for me, anyway).  I continue to stand, mouth agape, at the wondrous profession I have chosen and the beautiful trajectory it has taken thus far.  I cannot wait to see what delightful paths await!

2009 In Review

Oh dearest 2009, how I neglected to give you a proper adieu. But because I always need to have the last word, your shenanigans shall not go untouted nor unscathed. This here is my farewell parting shot: The past year brought a load of work, a load of appreciation for the work I was getting, and one giant, lazy attitude toward writing about it.  Of particular note, midway through 2009 I was able to make a return to performing for a living.  “What?  What do you mean?    Actresses in the Twin Cities aren’t filthy stinking rich and famous?!”  Surprisingly, no, not so much.  See, periodically a girl like me is obliged to suck it up and take a part-time “day job” to keep some steady cash rolling in while filling in the rest with voice-overs and stage work.  What is this world coming to?

What happened was this: in June I was cast as Nurse and First-Class Stewardess Evelyn Marsden in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Science Museum of Minnesota, as well as joined the museum’s Science Live Theater cast. When at the museum, but not in 1912 costume, I bust out my mad knowledge of nanoscience to thwart an Evil Scientist From The Future, as well as demonstrate the important properties of surface area by blowing giant fireballs and discussing chemical reactivity.  It has been a joy to perform regularly for the (what by now must be) thousands of audience members taking an interest in science.  Additionally, I am responsible for coordinating and moderating public forums for adults about nanoscale science on behalf of NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network).  Moreover, it’s less than part-time, and voice-overs and stage work really ARE filling in the rest.  Even in this wretchedly hobbled economy.  My stars are indeed lucky.  And I thank them regularly.

So here, for posterity, are my performance highlights of 2009:

January Marketplace Events spots - Ty Pennington (that dude from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) and me on TV and radio urging you to attend particular home shows here and there in the U.S.  TV commercials aired on HGTV and ABC and their affiliates.  Read more about my sister's hilarious request.

February Nothing of note - sometimes that’s a good thing.  Looks like I was in rehearsal.  Not always a good thing.


  • Performances of Adam Szymcowicz’s The Captivity Plays at the Bryant Lake Bowl
  • After 18 months of pain in the form of oral torture, treatment was completed and my braces were removed.  I was rewarded with awesomely perfect teeth and new-found confidence.  Join me in reliving my happy dance.
  • Supervalu spots - radio spots for grocery stores around the U.S. - Albertson’s, Lucky, Supervalu, Shaw’s/Star Market, Cub Foods, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Hornbacher’s, etc.

April Nexxus spots - I don’t believe these were ever aired - just voice-overs for a concept by the ad agency for the client.  If it was approved by the client, the agency would then film the spots.  Since I almost never watch commercial TV, I have no idea if these ever made it though the pipeline...my guess is no.



  • Caroline or Change, The Homosexuals’ Guide to the Universe, Tiny Kushner - now these didn’t involve me at all, save for my presence in the audience.  But I found the first two to be incredibly moving, incredibly powerful pieces of work.  And I was thrilled that Minneapolis was able to honor such a fantastic playwright in this way, and that such a fantastic playwright got to workshop a brand-new play in our fine city.
  • Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition opens at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  This is my new “day job” wherein I get to spend part of my weekdays engaging with the general public and informing them about Miss Evelyn Marsden’s life and the hospitals aboard the ship in a darling English accent. Personal ship preparation stories here.
  • United Health Care spots - my first political spots, something about calling your congresspeople somewhere in New England. Connecticut maybe? Urging you to take a particular stand on some kind of health care legislation.  Don’t remember the particulars, but got to work with the guys at Shout.  And I absolutely adore Mark Benninghofen, so it was a joy.

July Joined the Science Museum of Minnesota to work on NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) projects - both performing live stage plays and demonstrations that deal directly with nanoscale science, as well as coordinating and facilitating adult public forums about nanoscale science.  This is only 10 hours per week, and I love it.  And it makes me feel a little closer to my scientific heroes of audio over at RadioLab.  And to paraphrase the words of my delightfully brilliant colleague Michael Ritchie: I realize that my day job can never be bad, because I work in a place with musical stairs.


  • Fringe Festival fail - this was hard.  This was very, very hard.  The Ministry of Cultural Warfare, the company I have both figuratively and literally sweat and bled for since 2000, planned to do a show.  Due to a Perfect Storm of really crappy circumstances, I had to remove myself from the process, and we ultimately had to back out of the festival at a late date.  It was heartbreaking, and the fallout was equally heartbreaking.
  • Marketplace Events radio and TV spots - the plus side of August was that Ty Pennington had some more home shows to promote, so it was back into the studio to add my special female aural sparkle.
  • The Minnesota State Fair - I spent an afternoon as host of the Labor Pavilion at “The Great Minnesota Get-Together.”  They gave me a wireless mic, put me in a Green building and the adjacent pavilion, and let me loose amongst the various Labor kiosks and the throngs of fair-goers.  There was trivia, there were hand-crafted on-the-spot copper roses, there were nurses and flight attendants and machinists and steel workers and everything in between.  At the end of my shift, they snapped a photo which made its way into the national AFTRA magazine.

September I spent nearly half the month on the road, traveling to Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco - this was for my work with the Science Museum of Minnesota on behalf of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net), and it was incredibly inspiring.  It did indeed involve some performing, but it also involved meeting with social scientists to consider the social, political, and ethical implications of nanoscale science, and how to get audiences considering these aspects, as well.  We also met for the purpose of setting goals for years 6-10 of NISE Net’s grant funded by the National Science Foundation, and it involved learning how other organizations engage audiences in learning about nanoscale science.  Inspiring, and the locations were fantastic.  I love the Pacific Northwest.

October Lead role of Hannah in Table Salt Productions' inaugural show, Burned at the Gremlin Theatre.  Nothing like spending an hour before each performance putting glue on my face, letting it dry and manipulating it and coloring it to make it look like nasty scar tissue.  While it was a serio-comic post-apocalyptic tale, it was a joy to make a foray back into dramatic work.  Read a little more about it.


  • Workshop and public reading of Dog and Wolf - an incredibly well-crafted, powerful,  and riveting play about a Bosnian refugee by Catherine Filloux, in which I played the lead, Jasmina.  This play is being produced Off-Broadway this February.
  • My first public nanoscience forum about privacy, civil liberties, and nanotechnology.  It was a small group of about 15 people, but helped me get my feet wet.  Now that I’ve done something in the accepted mold, I can hack it and make it more interesting, accessible, and engaging.  Watchout Twin Cities - you’re about to get schooled in nano.


  • more Marketplace Events spots - this time for home shows around the U.S. in 2010.
  • Caribou Coffee spots - The tone and delivery in these spots makes me feel like we’re sitting on a front porch swing, lazing the day away.  And they’re all about handcrafted oatmeal.  And I got to spend some good time with my friends over at Babble-On Recording studios.  I love those engineers.
  • General Mills spots for Tuesday Taco Night - you know you’ve made it when your VOs keep getting interrupted by a mariachi band.  Plus more time at Babble-On!  Whee!

Plenty to share for January already - but it’s a new year, so it gets a new post.  Here’s looking forward to a peaceful, prosperous 2010.  And I'll actually work on getting all of these 2009 (and future) voice-over spots posted for your listening pleasure.  It's not as hard as I make it sound, and yet here we are.  Soon, I promise.

Coming up for Air

I began the following post just over a month ago and am just now, finally, post-show, post-holidays, getting around to editing and publishing it (everything needed to be shifted to the past-tense).  I believe this delay signifies what will be a change of approach for 2009 and beyond - less frantic, more experiential, more thoughtful.  It’s not a New Year’s resolution by any means - I actually resolved many, many years ago to never again make a New Year’s resolution, and I’ve been true to my word on that - it’s more of an overall mindful ease.  Or perhaps its just lack of natural, sun-derived Vitamin D.  Whatever, we shall see. Said post, without further ado:

I’ve spent the majority of my waking and non-waking hours since mid-November in a sweet and sleepy little Wisconsin town called St. Croix Falls.  Nestled on the St. Croix River, the town boasts an adorable five-block main street with shops and cafes and restaurants and the St. Croix Festival Theater, my performance venue for the stage version of Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story.  Good ol’ A Christmas Story - you know the one: a boy’s campaign for a Red Ryder BB Gun, “you’ll shoot your eye out,” yellow-eyed Scut Farkas, the pink bunny suit, “show me how the piggies eat,” played for 24 hours straight before Christmas on TNT and TBS - yeah, that one.  I was cast as Ralphie’s mother.

Save for one exception in my performance history I had become accustomed to a 4+ week rehearsal process...this show, however, this show we had two weeks.  Minus Thanksgiving.  So basically 13 days. For a two-and-a-half hour show.  We were given the scripts well in advance so we could arrive at the first rehearsal fully memorized.  We then were given two weeks, with only Thanksgiving day off, to block, rehearse, polish, and be ready for opening, with two separate casts of children.  Two weeks of mostly 10-hour days.  Two weeks of learning the names of 14 adorable children as quickly as possible.  Two weeks of panic about opening night.  This was, without question, one of the most demanding processes I’ve experienced thus far, and yet I’m now, in hindsight, thrilled to have had it.

In all honesty, once the show had been up and running publicly for a week we were finally ready to open.  It might, might, have been possible if we adults (four in the cast) had only one cast of kids to work with and guide.  But we didn’t.  We had two casts.  Ranging in age from six to thirteen.  Two casts that couldn’t have been more different from each other.  And while that was twice the rehearsal time for us, it was half the rehearsal time for them.  Despite the panic and the drama, they came through shining.  One cast I am particularly proud of - they struck me as the underdogs to start, but they proved to be my little tortoises - slow and steady definitely won that race.

So back to me.  Me, me, me.  I was skeptical going in whether or not I could pull off a convincing mom to kids that age - if one is childless, which I am, it’s easy to romanticize motherhood on stage, ultimately coming off trite and silly.  Our director gave me a lot of room to play and discover before helping me refine the role, and I truly believe that we created a kind, strong, tired, loving, annoyed, diplomatic, amused, real mother.  A mother who actually lived in that three-sided house and was the queen of her domain.

Ultimately, our 25 performances were met with joy and appreciation (although the matinees with younger school children were a little more of a challenge - we may as well have been Charlie Brown’s parents in the adult scenes - cue muted trumpet! waaa-waaa-WAAAA-waaa-wa-wa).  It turned out to be a beautiful experience - laughing myself silly with my castmates, hugs from the kids, burping contests with the 10-year-old boys, stomping around St. Croix Falls and many hours spent at The Indian Creek Winery and The Buzz, rooming with the delightful Amanda at my lovely host-home with gracious hosts, fighting the town’s inane snow-emergency rules, and dozens of hours spent in the car coming home.  A beautiful way to keep warm as winter settled in.

Nothing a Quaalude Can’t Handle

I’m so busy right now I’d probably lose my head if it weren’t screwed on; in fact, I’m almost certain I’ve stumbled upon some unattended nuts and bolts, which makes me rather uneasy. The first performance of the Ministry of Cultural Warfare’s offering to the Twin Cities Chekhov Festival went swimmingly – we’ve got just two shows left, this Friday and the following Thursday. Fellow cast-member, Anthony Paul, and I took a little fieldtrip to the MPR studios yesterday to provide some ridiculously-accented shenanigans for their story.

This Saturday morning I’ll be flying to Columbus, OH, to perform Mrs. Man of God (the same show I did in Nashville this summer). That means attempting to keep Chekhov in my head while re-learning Mrs. Man of God and all the accompanying music. I predict nightmares involving embodiments of heavy Minnesotan and Russian accents dancing a furious tango, artfully stepping over my bruised corpse.

And I was cast in Frank Theater’s next show, Brecht’s Mr. Puntila and his Man Matti, which is supposed to start rehearsing this week, but I’m in the process of being replaced due to the schedule conflicts generously provided by the above-listed shows. I was thrilled to finally work with Wendy Knox, but it looks like it wasn’t in the starcards this time around. Alas.

And I’m house-sitting con perro, which means I don’t get to do any of this from the comfort of my own home. Nor with a good night’s sleep provided by my own bed. My own bed, where the bizarre noises can always be blamed on a neighbor with adjoining walls, rather than the inherent creepiness of settling single-family-homes.

Time to put on my game-face and SPARKLE! With JAZZ-HANDS! TA-DAAAA! File under “Faking it until One is Making It.”

Hello? Is it Me You're Looking For?

Boy – I don’t write for two months, and then I blindside you with a Lionel Richie lyric ending in a preposition – how’s that for a graceful comeback? You know you love it. I can see it in your eyes, I can see it in your smile...alright, alright, enough of that; it’s kind of abusive, non?

So, um, hi! Fancy meeting you here! I have much to report and much to opine, but I will stick to the reporting and do some opining in the near future just to avoid burning up into tiny bits upon my re-entry into the blogosphere.

The quick and dirty: I can be seen on screen and on stage over the next few weeks as part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival and the Manna Fest, respectively (and in Nashville, swing by if you’re in the ‘hood) – these be the details:


The Ministry of Cultural Warfare presents The Tyranny of God’s Love Intermedia Arts


Our show, "The Tyranny of God's Love," is best described as a multimedia road trip from individuality to the universal... In other words, it's lots of jokes about God and faith and meaning and one's deepest, darkest soul... In other words, just another day at the theater.

This time around, the cast is Reid Knuttila, Kevin McLaughlin, Nathan Surprenant and Natalie Rae Wass on stage, Leigha Horton on video and—for (almost) the first time ever—MoCW's artistic director Matthew Foster is in the show (actually, just his voice... and only because he's the only Minister who speaks French). Matthew's also directing the live bits and Fringe's not-too-former Executive Director Leah Cooper joins us as video/audio director. Woot!

Thursday 8/2 at 10:00 PM Sunday 8/5 at 7:00 PM Monday 8/6 at 10:00 PM Friday 8/10 at 4:00 PM Sunday 8/12 at 5:30 PM


And after we return from Nashville...


Mrs. Man of God Augsburg College - Hoversten Chapel


What’s it like to be a man married to a man who is married to the church? Through humor and song, this is a life story of giving and living in the Valley of the Shadows. Cast: Dennis Curley as Donald; Scott Ford, ensemble; Beth Gilleland, ensemble; Leigha Horton, ensemble; Dane Stauffer, ensemble; written by Beth Gilleland and Donald Bazzini; directed by Blayn Lemke

Tuesday 8/7 at 7:00 Thursday 8/9 at 7:00 Friday 8/10 at 7:00 Saturday 8/11 at 7:00 Sunday 8/12 at 4:00


Come see! They’re both totally worth your $12. Promise.

New York City?! Get a rope.

Yesterday I returned from my first visit to New York and I’m still wide-eyed and silly-grinned. I stayed at a Comfort Inn in mid-town Manhattan, on 35th, between Macy’s and The Empire State Building. The hotel only reinforced the notion that I should be wary of businesses that name themselves in an all-too-obvious way, because it always ends up being ironic and I hate irony. Especially when I’m tired.

Let’s just chalk this one up to the “true price” of affordability. The view ended up surprising, though – I threw back the curtains and opened up the windows to see a bunch of (wait for it...) other buildings! Discovered several hours later during a post-traveling daze that one of the buildings was the Empire State. Not so bad after all.

That first afternoon I took the subway down to Greenwich Village, and after walking around a bit decided on a Mexican joint for dinner and a margarita. The waiter took my order and returned moments later, put a hand on my shoulder and asked, “how do I know you?” After a second look, I excitedly recognized him as a long-lost friend from freshman year of college. There was lots of laughing and hugging (he started it) and I was thrilled and shocked - I couldn’t believe that within hours of stepping off the plane into a very large, very foreign city, I was beautifully greeted by an old friend.

I managed the whole Manhattan scene pretty well – wore dark colors, walked fast, talked regularly and without shame on the cell phone I only use for emergencies in Minneapolis. Locals (okay they were kids, but they were still local) asked me for directions on the subway and I was able to answer them correctly. I studied those maps HARD before going in public. I walked in places that I’ve seen a billion times in movies – Washington Square Park, the Bethesda Fountain, The Mall in Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Times Square - and can’t wait to see the movies again so I can geek-out with a silent and giddy I was there!

Here’s where the theater part (and relevance to the greenroom) comes in. I had advance tickets to the opera, but dutifully stood in line in Times Square for tickets to a couple of Broadway shows. I saw:

Tosca at The Met Classic opera, everyone important dies long, brooding, tragic deaths. Open letter to the leads: What is UP with the curtain-call bows several times before the show is even over and after your character already died? Holy ego, Batman!. Sincerely, A Confused Novice Opera-Goer.

RENT at the Nederlander Theatre (Broadway) This completely renewed my faith in being a performer - it truly blew my mind. The talent was astounding. I wanted to forget all about my grad-school aspirations and march down there with resume and headshot in hand and give it everything I had. It made me long to be a part of something entertaining and relevant and inspiring again.

La Cage Aux Folles at the Marquis Theater (Broadway) So bad. Really, really, inexcusably bad. Okay, the ensemble and sets were fantastic, but the primaries were lame. Beach impersonated Nathan Lane admirably, Goulet phoned it in, the kid who played his son had a great voice and no stage presence, the girl who played the kid’s fiancé was so less than one-dimensional that she almost reached void status. It gets a big, fat thbbt.

Shows I’m kicking myself for not seeing Wicked, Avenue Q, Spamalot, and Shockheaded Peter (off-Broadway). Especially the latter because I was hoping there'd be some crossover from the cast/crew of Improbable Theatre's The Hanging Man that we hosted here in Minneapolis in fall of 2003. I gotta tell you, nothing funnier than a visit to Sex World with bunch of Brits...

So, that was my first New York experience. I’ll return in the fall to attend an info session at Columbia for their graduate program, and call all the people I know out there to get exposure to the outer boroughs. I think I’ll love Brooklyn.

I’ll also plan on many more theater-related experiences: a friend is best buds with the sound designer for Spamalot (free tickets!), and another, new, friend is rehearsing a show with Richard Maxwell/New York City Players (the Walker Art Center brought Boxing 2000 and Joe here as part of the Out There series)…he’s invited me to a rehearsal that would be fascinating to watch (free rehearsal!). Another friend acts as a lighting tech/company manager for Ann Bogart’s SITI Company (free tickets?), and another friend is lighting designer for the San Diego Opera and the Old Globe Theater (free tickets to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? Turandot?) Oh – is that your phone ringing? Why, it’s me! calling in favors!