Five Question (short) Pause!

Just wanted to let everyone know there is going to be a short pause in our regularly scheduled Friday posting due to a lot of things going on – we’ll be back in February and GO SEE A SHOW!

Grace

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Five Question Friday (featuring popcorn…)

The other half of a very familiar theatre couple…Welcome, Gerry Love!

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Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
A: In first grade I played a tin soldier complete with a hat made out of a Quaker Oats box. It was part of a Christmas program and was a hit with all the parents and grandparents attending. I was scared to death.

 
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

A:  No matter the endeavor, you can achieve more as part of a team with a singular goal than as an individual.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

A: I performed as a butler in a production of the melodrama, The Streets of New York while working at a small theater in Dallas. Part of my duties included a crowd warm-up where I led the audience in singing songs of the era. Then I introduced the characters of the show and their musical themes, and the audience was encouraged to participate by cheering the hero, booing the villain and flinging popcorn at the scoundrel. Then, when it was time for the show, the lights were dimmed, the villain took his place onstage. Then the lights came up and his musical theme was played. To my amazement, the crowd sat mute. No boos. No popcorn. I had the first line of the show, so nothing was going to happen before I started. I decided to stop the show and repeated my instructions on the proper greeting for the villain. To emphasize the point, I went to a table in the first row and demonstrated the proper technique for launching popcorn. (I threw a handful directly in the face of the seated villain.) Then I instructed the technical director to reset and restart the show. This time when the lights came up, an enthusiastic audience launched an extended barrage of popcorn at the poor villain who sat balefully in place. I applauded the diligence of my students/audience upon my entrance. It became the best audience that I have performed for in my entire career. Clearly it was an example of making a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Q: What is your dream role/show?
A; I have always been a fan of Howard Keel, so Fred in Kiss Me Kate or the Poet in Kismet will always be at the top of my list. Alas, my chance for both have probably passed me by.

Q: What is your current guilty TV pleasure?

G- Game of Thrones.

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator currently directing Little Shop of Horrors at East Central College.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

Five Question Friday (wait till you hear her dream show!)

This amazing lady worked with me on Variety’s Wizard of OZ this year- let’s hear from wig and makeup artist Krystal!

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Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

I was in middle school and was told by the drama director to “read this, but with emotion.” Next thing I know I was cast as Emma in Over the River and Through the Woods. I was a very convincing grandma as a 7th grader. But my first experience in the theatrical side of theatre wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school. My directors told me about a Theatrical Design competition and had me do the hair and makeup category, the rest is history.

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

It is never too early or late to seize opportunities.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

I ran Hairspray at a local high school as the wig technician and we had to be behind a rolling set piece for Welcome to the 60’s, wig changes on top of costume changes, during the first dress I remember one of the wardrobe kids froze and Tracy didn’t have her dress fully zipped up in the back but her presence made up for it!

Q: What is your dream role/show?

Cats: The Musical… I LOVE IT. That is my one and only dream show to run as a Wig Technician.

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

Keeping Up with the Kardashians!

Thank you Krystal- I will admit to a secret love of Cats myself!!

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

Five Question (Couple) Friday!!

Most adorable couple picture EVER- let’s hear from Drew and Dena!!

 

 

Drew Humphrey and Dena DiGiacinto are a married couple that live in New York City and perform in St. Louis as often as they possibly can.  They have performed at the Fabulous Fox, coming through with National Tours (A CHORUS LINE and IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS).  They have performed in productions at STAGES ST. LOUIS(Joseph… and Nine to Five in the 2017 Season).  Most recently they were in VARIETY CHILDREN’S THEATRE production of The Wizard of Oz.  Drew has also spent many a summer sweating it out at THE MUNY.  Drew and Dena both have put in over a decade each into this business but have only had the opportunity of performing together in the last year.

Q:  What was your first experience in theatre?

Drew:  I was three years old.  It was an outdoor 4th of July pageant.  I played to thousands, if not HUNDREDS, of patriotic citizens waiting to see the fireworks display later that evening.  I was dressed as Davy Crockett, shirtless and wearing a furry vest and a coonskin cap.  It was a duet, with a seven year old girl and my only responsibility was to stand there, chest high and proud.  She sang the BALLAD OF DAVY CROCKETT and I didn’t say a word, didn’t do a dance step, I literally did nothing.  I was hooked.

Dena:  Unlike Drew’s lofty beginnings I didn’t do any theatre until I was fourteen.  Even though I started dancing when I was three years old, I didn’t perform in a musical until I was cast in my high school’s production of THE KING AND I.  That was it.  I loved it!  From then on, I wanted to do as much theatre as I possibly could.

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

Drew:  Take a ballet class.  I was a young performer and was just starting to study dance, and I was mainly focusing on tap and jazz.  An older colleague very bluntly explained, whether I like ballet or not, I gotta take it.  I hated it, I was never very good, but I believe it really helped my dancing.

Dena:  Never stop training, always take classes and lessons.  Harry Woolever, who is the head of the dance department at my theatre school told me that a long time ago, and he was so right.

Q:  Tell us about a backstage mishap you lived through?

Drew:  I was doing a production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas in San Francisco and the big production number at the top of Act II involve a men’s tap dance feature on an elevated lift. The elevator goes up, we dance, the elevator comes down, we jump off onto the stage and dance more.  Big impact, except when the automation short circuits and the elevator doesn’t come back down.  There were eight of us stranded on the lift about ten feet in the air and the dance was about to move on to a section that we could not do without getting off.  We all just stayed put and luckily they got the lift down just in time for us to leap wildly into the next section.  I’m pretty sure the audience had no idea that anything went awry.

Dena:  You know the big headshot moment at the end of the opening number of A CHORUS LINE?  This one night during the run of the revival in New York, we were just about to get to that moment where the headshots go up in front of our faces when all of a sudden, my headshot slipped out of my hand.  I could not retrieve it in time.  I’ll leave that there.

Q:  What is your dream role/ show?

Drew:  Don Lockwood  in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

Dena:  Eva Peron in Evita

Q:  What is your current guilty TV pleasure?

Drew:  Gilmore Girls.  I find it so comforting to escape to the manageable problems of Stars Hollow.

Dena:  This Is Us!

 

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

Five Question Friday (Guys, you NEED to read this!)

I almost spit out my coffee reading these FABULOUS answers from Dustin of Big Muddy Dance Company- you’ve been warned!

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Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

A: That is a surprisingly difficult answer for me. I have been in theaters since before I was actually making memories. The only catch was, it was not theatre as the art form I recognize be revere today. I started dancing at the extremely young age of three, and constantly performed in dance recitals in this (incredibly fabulous) theater in a small Texas town. I was performing, but it certainly was in a very different context.

My first experience in theatre was in high school, when I was cast in a church play as a sophomore in high school. I had been dancing all the while, but suddenly I was trying out this art form for which I was really not equipped. After being re-casted because I was far more flaming I mean TALENTED than my other cast mates, I pretty left the experience with even less understanding of the art than I had before. Then Variety happened.

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

A: When I was 11 years old, I met the then-artistic director of Nederlans Dans Theater (who now directs Hubbard Street Dance in Chicago). I thought everyone was just mispronouncing the name of Nederland, TX just a few miles away. They made me perform my competition solo for him, which was to the song “Papa” from Yentl, but covered by Michael Crawford. He stared at it blankly. When asked what advice he had for me, he dead panned, “Don’t quit.”

So here we are.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

When I was a trainee at Ballet Austin, I was cast in their production of Peter Pan as John Darling. As a pre-professional trainee, to be cast in a production other than Nutcracker was a big g——-n deal. The huge bit was that I got to fly in an aerial harness, by guys from this company called Foy. By then I had developed this intense love of circus and aerial arts, and to be in the air was a dream come true.

While being fitted for the harness, I was shown a secret for padding the large metal buckles that leave some incredible bruises. They wrapped them in a pad (yeah, from Kotex) and voila! So comfortable. During one of the shows, I was slow during a quick change into the harness, and did not secure my pad. During the scene in which we were being reunited with our family after our jaunt in Neverland, my pad managed to escape my harness, work its way down my pant leg, and deposit itself Center Center onstage in full view. I knew I was going to get fired. I ran up to the assistant artistic director backstage, bumbling and groveling with apologies. She could barely keep a straight to tell me it was alright and make sure to be more careful with it tomorrow. Everyone knew that John Darling was blossoming into a full grown woman. They were happy for her.
Q: What is your dream role/show?

I think my dream show as of now would be the spring concert with Big Muddy in 2023. I’m old now and that’s about all I have going for me.

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures… but right now I am so obsessed with Chef’s Table. I can’t imagine any artist who would not be inspired by the ways those incredible chefs approach their craft.

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

Five Question Friday

This amazing woman has been one of my dream interviews for a while…and here she is!!

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Kay has performed in well over 100 shows, including several seasons at The Muny.  She sang with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus for 15 years and sings with The Jeweltones and Caroling St. Louis.  Upcoming performances include “A Song For Christmas” Dec 1-3 with Family Musical Theatre, and “A Cowboy Christmas” Dec 16 with the Hawthorne Players.

 

Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

K – The first one I recall was in 7th grade – I was the understudy to Peppermint Patty in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”.  The 8th graders did the actual show, and the 7th graders were the understudies and did the show at the elementary schools in our district.  My mom says I narrated a play in Kindergarten, but I don’t remember that.  😊

 

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

K – Try not to compare yourself to others.  It’s difficult, but each person has a unique set of talents and skills and there is a place for everyone who wants to be involved.

 

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

K – I’ve had several wardrobe malfunctions but one I can laugh about now is from a production of “The Scarlet Pimpernel”.  My dress was too long, so it was hemmed with tape.  The fabric was heavy and the hem rolled down.  The tape stuck to the backs of my shoes and I couldn’t walk.  So I shuffled my feet for an entire song (and minuet dance) until I could get offstage.  There have been many others, including a wig that came off and a dress getting stuck on a nail which I tried to get unstuck while singing Sondheim….

 

Q: What is your dream role/show?

K – I’ve been so lucky to play so many wonderful roles.  I’d love to play Donna in “Mamma Mia”, and Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard”, among others.

 

Q: What is your current guilty TV pleasure?

K – I still follow The Young and the Restless.  When I was a kid, our babysitter watched all of the CBS soaps – you couldn’t bother her during her stories – so I’ve watched Y&R since the beginning.

Thank you so much Kay- you’re the best!!

 

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator currently directing Little Shop of Horrors and I Love New York at East Central College.

See her work at gracemaustin.com