The First Night of the Rest of My Life

Hilton AlbanyThis weekend, I played the first night of the rest of my life.  More specifically, I performed my solo show, “Perfect Isn’t Easy, But It’s ME!”, developed on the cruise ship earlier this year, for a wonderful group of women at a convention at the Hilton hotel in Albany, New York.  Given that that sort of performance is what I want to do for the next twenty years (or more!), it’s no surprise that the trip and show were both a delight and a big-time learning experience.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces of growth from the adventure…

  • I can’t say I’ve ever asked that a bar stool be considered a piece of luggage before, but that was exactly what I did on the Megabus up to Albany.  Surprisingly, no one blinked – ever!  I also had a promotional poster tucked into my garment bag carrying what I call my “princess dress”, a.k.a. a frothy coral number with plenty of sparkle and a floaty train.  Not to mention, my overnight bag had one pair of PJs and then a slew of dressing room stuff – curling iron, hairspray, brush, makeup galore, and my sparkly shoes.  So it was definitely one of the oddest packing jobs I’ve ever done.  And the thing I learned was…

    …it behooves you to have a completely separate bag at the ready with all your show makeup.  I normally have my show makeup mixed up with my day makeup, because I borrow from myself frequently, but going forward, I’m going to try to make a clean break.  Not only would the IRS prefer it, but then I don’t have to grind my teeth in frustration over leaving some important pencils/brushes/etc. behind while bringing a handful of unnecessary ones.  And then, it’s always in a bag, ready to grab!  Super simple packing.

  • I’ve always been a procrastinator, and unfortunately this time was no exception.  I’d reviewed my script a few times before the show, but despite having it on my ToDo list in Habitica, I didn’t review the blocking until the night before the show.  But I’d changed a handful of songs, for one, and then once I got into the space, numerous edits were needed.  So instead of resting peacefully before the show, I was frantically trying to figure out blocking and making sure my script was memorized WITH the blocking.  It was highly stressful, and I took two things away from it…

    …first, do the work.  Running it once or twice a day every day before the show would have been good, especially knowing it’d been six months since I’d done the show!  Once I get into performing more regularly, it shouldn’t be as big of an issue, but whenever there’s a gap like that, I just have to put in the time.  (I knew this ahead of time, but…procrastination is a hard habit to kick.)

    …and second, hire a director.  I’ve wanted to for a while, and this just confirmed it for me.  Yes, I took Directing in college, so I know the basics, but my strength is singing, not staging!  Figuring out where to walk and when to sit was definitely the most terrifying part of creating the show in the first place, and nothing has changed in that regard in the last six months.  So in the future, I’m planning on hiring a director to take a big-picture look at the show and help me make sure it’s strong visually.  Know your limits…and hire a professional.

  • One of the areas in which I had a POSITIVE learning experience was in dealing with the unknown – I was performing in a room I’d never seen before, not even in pictures.  I literally had no idea what I was walking into when I showed up.  Fortunately, though, in that sense I was, at least mentally, prepared.  I had spent days reminding myself that I’d have to be flexible and go with whatever was in front of me when I got there, so when I did need to improvise, I didn’t feel stressed or worried.  Instead…

    …I created a cute staging with a few decorations lying around, I worked with the tech support staff to create something that sort of resembled theatrical lighting, and I cut an entire number when it became obvious that there was no way to stage the duet with my musical director/husband given the stage and lighting limitations.  (I was sad to see it go, but grateful I at least could let it go – sometimes I get unnecessarily clingy about things.)  So that part felt like a big success, as well as good groundwork for future improvisations which will undoubtedly be necessary!  Also, a big shout-out to training in this area – site-specific dance improv in college and my audition coach’s advice always to “be in the room you’re actually in!” were a huge help to giving me the confidence to tackle such an unknown situation.

Hopefully next time I’ll have lots more pictures to share.  That’s the part I have to get better about – documenting the experience!  I’m perhaps a little too good about being “in the moment,” I guess.  So that’s one of my several goals for next time – more photos!

Photo from the Hilton Albany

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