The Reality of "Theatre Friends"

The Reality of "Theatre Friends"

There are friends and then there are Theatre Friends. It’s kinda like Facebook. There’s some folks you’re “friends” with on Facebook and you have lively conversations back and forth on one wall or another but you know if you met them in real life it wouldn’t be the same. That’s sort of like theatre friendships. They burn hot and strong for a few weeks, months whatever the duration of the show’s rehearsal schedule is and that’s it. They fade just as quickly as they come until you see them at the next audition or if you’re lucky another show. 

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My Broadway Baby Playlist

My Broadway Baby Playlist

At 34 weeks pregnant with my first child, and being the “love all the info person I am,” I’ve read several books (or parts of) on pregnancy. I know that the baby can hear voices right now. I know it’s good for my husband and me to speak out loud to her since she can recognize our voices specifically. But it feels weird. Now, we speak all the time to our cat, but then again our cat is vocal and answers back which makes it seem less strange. But talking in the general direction of my stomach…hmmm.

Anyway, I found a way around it - Music. Specifically, Broadway show tunes because that’s mostly my entire music library. Here are the songs and shows my Broadway Baby is being exposed to which if the books are right may result in helping calm her when she’s here, live and in-person!

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Theatre: Why Do It At All?

Theatre: Why Do It At All?

Every time I audition for a show and deal with the pre-audition nerves, the waiting-to-hear-if-I-got-a-callback nerves, the waiting-for-the-cast-list nerves I (and others) ask “why?” Why put yourself through that agony. Why spend weeks rehearsing taking time away from family and friends, potentially missing out on other activities? Why? Here’s why.

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5 Ways to Beat the Post-Show Blues

5 Ways to Beat the Post-Show Blues

A couple weeks ago I ended my run in Mary Poppins. It was my bucket list show and a bucket list role; y’all, I was a tap-dancing chimney sweep! Sold out shows, adoring family and friends coming to watch, and I only dropped a line once. Pretty good run.

So it stands to reason the post-show blues would hit and hit hard. Here’s how I decided to combat them.

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Hey Director! I'm More than My Resume

Hey Director! I'm More than My Resume

As one of a plethora of 30ish mezzo-sopranos with a decent voice and the ability to move with some semblance of grace, I know at any given audition there’s 10 of me for every 1 spot they’ve reserved in the show for my type and vocal ability. There’s a decent amount of “stuff” on my resume but the stuff doesn’t begin to come close to highlighting my abilities. As much as I dislike the corporate job-interview process, I do wish the community theater audition process borrowed some from the corporate world. Because 16-32 bars isn’t enough time to learn I’m more than my resume.

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When Theatre Makes You "Whole Again"

When Theatre Makes You "Whole Again"

What if you don’t know the life you were born to live? What do you do when you feel you simply don’t know anything anymore?

It’s easier to face life when you have a script, when it very clearly says how you should think and react and what you should say. When someone else tells you how you should move and even how you should look and dress. 

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My Latest Children's Theatre Do's and Don'ts

My Latest Children's Theatre Do's and Don'ts

It’s hard work running a theater company, even harder running one designed for kids. There’s several not for profit and for-profit theater companies that focus their efforts on children’s theater. Based on my experiences as both an audience member and performer with children’s and community theaters, here are some examples of what NOT to do when in charge.

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The Best Theatre Friendships

Liz Chirico

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

It’s easy to make friends. As a kid you have your classmates, kids on the playground, those on your sports team or at your dance studio. It’s easy in college. You’re living in close proximity to so many people your age, sharing common interests, having meals together. And then adulthood comes crashing down. There really should be a halfway house for those just out of college and not quite ready for the stress of living on your own sans friends. But I digress.

To make friends as an adult takes persistence and luck. It takes trial and error. More importantly it takes understanding and compassion. But friends are wonderful, necessary and important to help us navigate this crazy thing called life. There is no better place to find inspiring friendships than in musical theater. 

Here’s my run down on the best theater friendships. PS- this list is in no particular order, lest someone feel the need to key my car. 

1.    Millie Dillmount and Dorothy Brown from “Thoroughly Modern Millie”- one was wizened and street-smart, one was wide-eyed and innocent. Sure their union started under a lie or two but in the end everything worked out. Plus they have a fun song-and-dance number. Who doesn’t want to tap in the elevator with their friend? Or a person they just met?

2.    Shrek and Donkey from “Shrek”- on the surface a completely unlikely pair. In fact a good chunk of the show is devoted to Shrek wishing Donkey would just leave. But like all good friends they come to trust and depend on each other realizing that it’s those very differences that make them work so well together. (Now if only Congress could get that memo…)

3.    Reno Sweeny and Billy Crocker from “Anything Goes”- I always suspect Reno had a bit of a thing for Billy. And that’s she’s a little indignant over the fact that he doesn’t seem to have a thing for her but rather, he’s after this Hope girl. Anyway. These two care about each other in words and actions, constantly building the other up. We all need to be built up from time to time and these two aren’t afraid to compete to see who can be nicer towards the other.

4.    Jenna, Becky and Dawn from “Waitress”- these 3 could not be more different and yet the same. Each is terribly unsure of herself, her place and just wants to be loved for who she is. They understand and support each other’s decisions, despite not always agreeing with them. That understanding, to me at least, is a fundamental rule of friendship.

5.    Tony and Riff from “West Side Story”- They are another (albeit imperfect) example of friends understanding one another without necessarily agreeing with each other. Tony understands Riff’s need to fight though he desperately tries to talk him out of it. And despite his objections, Tony supports Riff to the end.

6.    Elphaba and Glinda from “Wicked”- I couldn’t have a list of the best theatrical friendships without Elphie and Galinda! After another rough start (I’m sensing a theme…), these two see something beautiful in the other by looking past the superficial. They have their share of disagreements, of not seeing eye-to-eye but despite it all they remain bonded. Because ultimately they only want what’s good for the other and each makes sacrifices to ensure their friends happiness. Plus For Good is the ultimate friendship anthem, which never fails to make me cry. 

Brian d'Arcy James, left, as Shrek and Daniel Breaker as Donkey in "Shrek the Musical." Credit Joan Marcus

Embracing Your Theatre Passion

Liz Chirico

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

A friend noted my intense passion for the theater, as evident by my willingness to drive 7 hours in one day for a 2.5 hour show. I didn’t know how to respond to that. For me, NYC has always been a day trip. (The day’s just a little longer now that I live in MA.) And honestly I’ve gone farther for a show. I traveled to London in the fall of 2005 to see Mary Poppins before I knew it would cross the pond. I mean, sure my friend was studying abroad in London so I had a place to sleep but my main priority was seeing Mary Poppins. Bumming around British pubs with her was a bonus. 

I don’t know how this passion/obsession started. I wasn’t involved with theater or dance as a child. I attended shows but until high school, when I could largely pay for tickets myself (or at least contribute a good chunk towards the cost) I only saw a handful of shows. 

I only know that I have loved theater for as long as I can remember. That I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade for a glimpse of my favorite theatrical performers and I go crazy when shows past and present are featured. Watching the Tony’s for me is a reverent, almost holy experience. I pour over Playbill articles and interviews on the nominees the way a gambler does before putting it all on Fat Louis to win the 9th race of the day.

The passion has largely been hidden for most of my life. Sure, my family and close friends knew I loved the theater- when in doubt of a gift anything Broadway related was sure to go over big, but I don’t think they fully comprehended it. After all, I didn’t live in NYC, I didn’t come from a theatrical or artistic background, we certainly couldn’t afford to go to shows as a family (and I’m grateful for the sacrifices made so I could attend as many shows as I did those early years). So through high school it was a closet obsession. In college I let my music collection (virtually all soundtracks and show tunes) speak for itself but I didn’t elaborate unless pressed. I learned that while it’s cool to quote Ferris Bueller and Nine Inch Nails (or whatever music group was in vogue- remember soundtracks and show tune CDs?) it’s far less cool to quote from Damn Yankees and Kiss Me Kate. 

Now I embrace my passion. I regale friends with backstage stories and antics I read about via Playbill.com., and proudly have Hamilton lyric battles via Facebook, squeal with glee when finally the Wicked movie looks like it’s going to be a real thing (dear movie gods- please don’t screw it up!). I think Facebook helped, certainly it has for me. It seems like more people are into the theater than I realized or maybe it’s just because more of my feed is made up of those I’ve met via community theater. That’s the other thing. While not everyone in Community Theater may enjoy theater with the same intensity I do, either they understand to a degree or they simply let it be. That attitude helped me be more confident in bringing my passion to others outside the theater world around me.

Now I’ll anxiously countdown the minutes to the livestream of She Loves Me in front of my new in-laws and blast the Waitress soundtrack at work without care or at least without much care. Because I’ve come to realize, recognize and love that this passion I have is as much a part of me as my red hair, freckles and dimples. They are things that make me unique, who I am and things I never want to change.