Friday, May 29, 2009

What Not To Wear

I don't watch "What Not to Wear" unless NCIS, Law & Order, Burn Notice or CSI don't happen to be running reruns (and good luck finding a time when THAT isn't happening). But tonight WNTW is going to be doing their first celebrity make-over on Mayim Bialik. For those of you are who are my age, you will remember her as "Blossom." Even in the early 90's I remember her character being kind of over the top in the clothing department, so you can't really hold it against the girl if her fashion sense is a little off. I just saw her recently on an episode of "Bones" and she did a great job. But I thought it would be interesting to see what she's done since she was on the sitcom.

She was accepted to both Harvard and Yale, but decided to stay out west, so she went to UCLA. She has been married for 7 years and has two young sons. She plays piano, trumpet and bass guitar and is currently finishing her Ph.D in Neuroscience. And in spite of the fact that she refuses to wear pants or leather (which made it more challenging for the hosts), she is happy with the make over's results. Just like the rest of us who need make overs, she knows it. Mad props to her for stepping up and getting a new look! I'd get one too if someone else was willing to pay for it! :) She is going to be guest starring on some television shows over the next year or so, so maybe I catch a new pic of her at some time and post it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Man Called Jesus

This past Easter I performed at Atlantic Shores in a production of "The Man Called Jesus." The play, while being at Shores, is actually run by a non-profit organization ( so the whole auditioning process was way more nerve wracking. I hate auditions- especially for non-singing roles. I feel like when I sing I have something that makes me stand out. When I am just acting (in which I have no formal training) I feel like I look just like everyone else does. But in the audition I happened to get a great male acting partner so it went well. I was hoping to maybe have a line or two, but would just be thankful to be able to get back on stage. I haven't done a show since before I started graduate school. I miss it.

So was surprised when I got the call on Saturday morning asking if I would be willing to play Martha. It was a large female role involving a lot of rehearsals but fortunately my class for that part of the semester was pretty light and both of my bosses were willing to work with me. Thrilled, I accepted the role and began rehearsals the next day. And several of the disciples had never acted before, so some of the rehearsals were VERY LONG!

I have never done a show like this one. In order to get this thing off the ground it takes over 200 people. Make up, costumes, lighting, special effects, sound, security, props, animals... it was crazy. The stage at Shores had to be doubled in size to fit the 120 actors on stage. We were everywhere in that building.

I spent most of my time with the actresses who played Mary Mother of Jesus (we all called her "Mom"), Mary sister of Martha and Mary Magdalene (who we called Mag). The four of us were like "peas and carrots" during rehearsals. Robert, who played Jesus, called us the M & Ms. Here is a pic of Mag in her costume:

After only 5 weeks of rehearsals (one of which I was in California) we opened our 11 show run on a Wednesday night. The last 6 shows sold out, so I guess work spread that the show was good.

There were some real highlights for me. One was working with Robert- he was incredible. Watching someone you like so much be fake crucified every night gave me a whole new appreciation for how Martha must have felt. I knew they weren't hurting Robert and it still was difficult. As I sat on the floor pretending to weep every night, God and I had many conversations about how much He really loves me. And how I need to tell other people how much He loves them.

My make up guy, Alex was AMAZING. Even though he is only 14 he did an incredible job with my make up- to the point where I would wait extra long just to have him do it. He was so much fun to talk to and hopefully I will run into him in future shows in Hampton Roads.

It was amazing every night to stand with the cast at the end of the show and pray for the audience. In such difficult times, many families have realized the importance of each other instead of things. And while some people are angry with God, many are turning back to God as a source of support and comfort. We prayed over those seats and that auditorium many times, in hopes that lives would be changed.

I am hoping they will ask me back next year- I would love to be a part of it once again!

The Biltmore Estate

I have alot to blog on, but I thought I would start with the most recent trip, which is the one to the Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC. I have never been a big one for pretense, but I was completely impressed with this house.

Built in the late 1800's by a guy that my friends and I agreed could not have been straight, it is truly beautiful. He decorated the whole house himself. There are 250 rooms in the house between the servants quarters (which were nice enough for me to live in now), the huge kitchens, the indoor swimming pool, the 45 bathrooms and the very primitive gym. The entire house had plumbing and indoor electricity, which was an unheard of luxury at the time.

Two things I heard down there that I thought were interesting:

- Each bathroom had a toilet and a bathtub but no sink. Apparantly the luxury of having a servant bring warm water into your room in a basin was so desired, the sink was not wanted in the bathroom. It would have removed the pleasure of the basin and service for the guests, so it was not installed.

- Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt were scheduled to be on the Titanic. They got so close to traveling on the ship that when it went down their luggage and their valet were left in the ocean. They were saved by Mrs. Vanderbilt's sister, who called her urgently before they boarded and said she had a dream they were going to die on the ship and begged her sister and brother in law not to go. She saved their lives.

The grounds at the house are unbelievable. Beautiful gardens, walking trails, and thousands of acres of trees that Vanderbilt had specially planted. (I find it fascinating the guy just couldn't buy a forest- he flew someone in from Europe to BUILD him a forest). The original land for the house was 250,000 acres, but during the depression their only heir, a daughter named Cordelia, donated the land to the Pigsah National Forest and kept 8,000 acres for the estate, which she then opened to the public.

She had to open it to the public because her father spent every last penny he had to build the house. $5 million dollars at the turn of the century. But the house helped to keep the economy in Asheville healthy during the depression.

The estate is also very environmentally conscious. Saturday at lunch we drank through paper straws. Tons of things were recycled that we received and our tour guide made comments about how even when the estate was built, they tried to be conscious of resources. When they used to milk the cows they had slots behind them in the dairy farm. The manure would fall through these slots to an underground facility which would process it and send it back out to the greenhouse to be used to keep the grounds going. It was a very automated, effective process.

Eventually the dairy farm was converted the a winery, which we also toured. Turns out no matter what you do to wine, I just don't like drinking it! But we did a wine tasting class and also took a "wine and chocolate" class, to pair certain wines with certain chocolate.

My pictures from the Biltmore are on the other computer I use for things, so I will try to get some on here. Meanwhile check out facebook where I have them all uploaded!