Category Archives: theatre

How Fulfilling is Life Without Theatre?

How Fulfilling is Life Without Theatre?

How fulfilling is life without theater?  To me, it is the Pièce de Résistance!

My favorite of all the arts. I would be lost without it. Life is better with a dash of theatre now and then.

For instance, last night my husband and I attended a community theatre performance of The Crucible.  I don’t know when I last saw this play.  The Barn theatre in Kansas City produced it.  It’s difficult material and can be exploited by those performing in it if the director isn’t careful.  Twice I watched a cast butcher the court room scenes, but this one was tremendously impactful.

This morning, I shared with my husband my brain felt different today.  As if I swallowed some unusual vitamin and I did, of sorts.  A vitamin filled with excellent dialogue,  a well crafted plot and  brilliant metaphor.

The play’s message stayed with me and I have pondered it from time to time today.  That’s good theatre.

My acting teacher at Stephens College, Jean Muir, was blacklisted and never worked again in Hollywood.  Her crime?  She attended a Russian ballet and wrote a letter of congratulations to the company complimenting them for their excellent performance.  I believe her ex-husband reported her. Think about it–she complimented the ballet company.


I met Jean in 1974, nearly thirty years later. She never completely recovered from the false accusation.

 Lucille Ball & Red Scare

Here is Lucille Ball.  Even she was accused, but her career wasn’t ruined.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is a metaphor about the age of McCarthyism and the Red Scare but it is as timely now as ever.

And timely, don’t you think?  This week I viewed a short video of an innocent young black man who was accused of doing something he didn’t do.  Hmmm.

The Barn made a good choice in producing The Crucible.

When I attend a live production, I can immerse myself in the story as it plays out before me.  I feel some of the emotional intensity at a movie theatre, but it isn’t the same as watching an actor only ten feet from me as he sweats and cries, begging his wife to forgive him.  Powerful stuff.

I know people who dislike theatre, but love movies. They say theatre is boring.  Really? You can’t compare them to each other, but I understand the reasons for their opinions.

It’s easier to access movies than attend a play. It’s all about convenience.  Movies are available to us continuously. The wonders of the internet have given to us 24/7 access to nearly any movie you’d like to view.

The most important difference between the two is theatre is LIVE. You can’t just sit back in your recliner, take off your shoes and fold your laundry while you watch.

When you decide to see a theatrical production, you make a personal commitment to it. Generally, you’ll need to transport yourself to the show.  You must arrive on time, take the seat you reserved (with a good or bad view of the stage), pick up the play program and deal with audience members around you.

If it’s a comedy, it’s most appreciated by the cast if you laugh or at least chuckle.  Musicals require you to applaud at the end of scenes if they are outstanding.  Have you ever applauded when a famous actress enters the stage the first time?   You have a job to do as an audience member.

 As we view the production, we must concentrate, focus.  We can’t rewind a scene or fast forward through the show to intermission just so we can get a snack. We must suspend our disbelief when viewing a play far more than we must while seeing a movie.

The magic of a live performance makes it all the more poignant.  There is something very special when one observes the dramatization of a particular thought right before our eyes. It is a unique experience.

The actors tell the story as if it is the first time it has been told.  We share the moment with them and others seated around us.  This is human interaction at its best.

Theatre discusses the human condition.  It educates, inspires, broadens our world view, explores self expression, and encourages self empowerment. Besides, it’s a fun way to learn!

As an actor, I’ve experienced what is like to be someone else.  I’ve stepped into their shoes, so to speak.  A well crafted character has flaws and strengths.  I may not have the same strengths and weaknesses. Whenever I perform, it’s a heady experience and one I never forget.  You never view people in real life with the same attitude you had prior to the production. It changes you.

We could lose more than we bargain for if we lost theatre.

 Have you considered theatre uses all the arts–visual art, dance of movement and music? It’s a one stop shop.

Art–Through designs of set, costume, and lights we utilize color, texture and silhouette to suggest themes and mood.

Ponder this photo from “Sunday in the Park with George”, a musical by Stephen Sondheim. In an earlier post, I shared  Seurat’s painting,  “La Grande Jatte”.  Notice the levels, colors, textures, silhouettes? Good stuff.

How about dance?  Or movement?

Image result for Newsies Broadway Musical

If you haven’t attended Newsies  you must.  The dancing is fabulous.  I call it “boy dancing”, because it is.  The choreography is outstanding, clever and joyful.  Musicals use dance to convey a particular message–“Look at us!  We’re Newsies and no one is going to bring us down.”

Physical movement in a play is far more effective than words.  Humans are visual thinkers.  For example, we need the actor to show the character’s depression, so he uses a hushed voice, slouches his shoulders, walks with a slow gait and heavy steps.  Blocking, the physical movement around the stage, encourages the audience to view the production like a living photograph.

As I mentioned above, one doesn’t need to know much more about a play’s story than to merely observe the action.  The above photo is from a production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.  The Crucible tells the story of the Salem Witch Trials, however it is a metaphor for the Red Scare of the 1950’s.  Isn’t it effective?

How about this one?

I chose this photo at random, because it proves the point.  If you look closely, you’ll see the dancer is behind a scrim.  Yet the actor’s image is reflected in a mirror, but where is the mirror? Look at the positions of  bodies. He is leaning toward her, she is leaning toward him. His right foot touches the floor, as if he’s anchored on earth. She stands on her toes, as if she’s pulled to heaven. It’s so effective. (If you are dying to know the production, it is The Picture of Dorian Grey.)

Music:  When I direct a play, it is my habit to begin my pre-planning by selecting music to be played during the production.  The music inspires me.  It nurtures my creative process while I block the production.

Music does an excellent job of creating mood for an audience.  I will choose period music for a play if it depicts a particular time period in history.

While I directing The Giver, a  play set in a dystopian world, I was stumped on my music choices.  Then I remembered Philip Glass. Several moments in the play call require the falling of snow.  I considered various ideas and finally decided on Glass’ “Music Box”. A  gobo light rotator was hung. It displayed a snow flake-like pattern.  We selected the first 45 seconds of the piece.

Every time the music played, the audience was encouraged to imagine the falling of snow.

Theatre pulls the arts together.  In the world we live in at present, whenever we can come together and consider a social issue, we stand to win.  It’s very easy to become isolated now. Without theatre, we’d lose more than we’d gain.

How have you been fulfilled by attending a play or musical?  I’d love to hear from you.

Contact me at or check our my website at

Incredible: My store is Open

Incredible: My store is Open

This is amazing for me. I have been trying to get this accomplished for several years. Finally, my brain wouldn’t let go of the idea until I did it. My store is up and open on Check it out will you?
There will be MANY more products available, so keep a look out for them and follow me!

New Jig Saw Puzzle Cover

Super Heros Cover jpg


Your Backstage Life Saver: The Stage Manager

Your Backstage Life Saver:  The Stage Manager

I’ve been researching on a range of blog subjects, lesson plans, etc.  I ran on to this article which I thought others would be interested in, too.

I trained with a wonderful professional stage manager, Howard Ashley while attending Stephens College.

I’ve used his instruction with my students who become stage managers for me.  One of my students, Hillary Pfeffer actually studied stage management in college and works in New York as one.  So proud of er.

From the Kansas Public Radio Website:

Stage Managers: You Can’t See Them, But Couldn’t See A Show Without Them

On Sunday night the spotlight will be on Broadway stars at the 71st annual Tony Awards. The evening also includes honors for some people behind the scenes — writers, directors and designers, for example — but there are many more, working backstage, who aren’t eligible for Broadway’s highest honor.

If you peek into the wings at a Broadway show, you’re likely to find a stage manager, sitting at a desk with video monitors and lots of buttons and switches. He or she will be wearing a headset — sometimes called “the God mic” — to communicate with the cast and crew.

“I like to think of a stage manager as the chief operations officer of the corporation that is the show,” says Ira Mont, stage manager of Cats.

Donald Fried, stage manager of the Tony-nominated play, Sweat, says stage managers are kind of “the Captain of the Enterprise.”

“I would call us the hub of the wheel,” says Karyn Meek, production stage manager for the Tony-nominated musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. “We are … in charge of communication across all departments. … During the show, we are in charge of making sure the lights happen, the set moves, sound happens, all the things … we are the person who’s controlling all of that.”

Donald Fried was formerly a dancer, and is now stage managing the Tony-nominated play, Sweat. Jeff Lunden for NPR hide caption

toggle caption

Jeff Lunden for NPR

Donald Fried was formerly a dancer, and is now stage managing the Tony-nominated play, Sweat.

Jeff Lunden for NPR

Long before a show starts its run, the stage manager is an integral part of the rehearsal process, explains Fried. “Everything begins and ends with the script,” he says. “I’ve got to read the script, read it several times. Once, just to read it as a person, not as a stage manager or an artist or anything. Just to have an initial emotional feeling for it. Then, I go back and read [the writer’s] stage directions, so that I know what would happen light-wise, how she envisions the props, how she envisions the set moving, people entering and exiting, whether or not they’re changing costumes.”

Once a show is up and running, Meek says stage managers and their teams put in long hours. Her day begins at 9:30 a.m. with cast members telling her whether they’d be in or out of that day’s shows, due to injuries or illness. Depending on the day, she’ll arrive at the theater around 12:30 for a matinee or rehearsal. There’s a dinner break around 5:00 or 5:30, and then everyone’s back at the theater for the evening show.

Shows that feature complicated choreography or simulated fight scenes require daily rehearsals. Sweat manager Donald Fried says they do a fight rehearsal before every show. “We want to make sure everyone is safe and limber, and that the props are working,” he explains.

In the half hour before each performance, the stage manager walks through a beehive of activity, making sure everyone’s ready for curtain.

Meek climbs a ladder to her perch, high above stage left at Great Comet. Actors perform throughout the theater and Meek can keep an eye on them all. Once the show starts, she follows a musical score, with sticky notes showing all of the lighting and tech cues.

Karyn Meek, production stage manager for the Tony-nominated musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, describes stage managers as “the hub of the wheel.” Jeff Lunden for NPR hide caption

toggle caption

Jeff Lunden for NPR

Karyn Meek, production stage manager for the Tony-nominated musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, describes stage managers as “the hub of the wheel.”

Jeff Lunden for NPR

Through one of her video monitors, she can see Josh Groban, who plays Pierre, standing at the back of the stage. By the time the opening number really gets going, Meek is calling cues to the lighting technician every other beat. She literally calls hundreds of sound and tech cues for each performance.

All the stage managers I spoke with started out doing other things — Meek was a costume designer, Fried was a dancer. As a former actor, Cats manager Ira Mont was used to getting applause — but not anymore.

“I don’t expect or look for praise or acknowledgement,” he says. “I am here to support the shows I work on and the actors who do them and that’s what gives me the joy. And I’m very fortunate to have had a 30-year career in a profession that is not easy to get into and is not easy to stay in. I’m a lucky guy.”

He’s got lucky co-workers, too. Even as Mont juggles countless cues that go into a Broadway performance of Cats, over the headset he reminds the cast and crew of one more detail: to gather for a cast member’s birthday toast at the end of the show.

The Hidden Meaning Behind “There are No Small Parts only Small Actors”

The Hidden Meaning Behind “There are No Small Parts only Small Actors”


The Tony Awards show is Sunday, June 11!  I’ve been listening to the Sirius Broadway station all week (honestly, I do most days anyway) and it’s wonderful to hear the performers’ interviews and all the nominated show music.

The Tony Awards are the Oscar Awards for Broadway–except they are more classy, in my humble opinion.

Theatre is different.

It is special, because it is live.

What’s the hidden meaning behind, “There are no small parts, only small actors.”?

I got to thinking about the performers who are playing smaller parts in the nominated productions.  If you ever see them on television in a short quip on a syndicated news or talk show, you’ll observe those supporting characters and chorus members are just as invested in the production as the leading actors.

That’s impressive.  I bet the nominated actors and actresses began as chorus members and under studies many years ago.  They put in their time and earned their stripes to receive the spotlight.

Just because you are cast in a small part does not mean you are not important to the show. If you think so, you have missed the point entirely.

You are still important to the show.  Believe me.

However, if you can’t get past the fact that you are certain you could portray the role you didn’t receive just as well or better than the person cast, it might be best for you to focus on something else in your life.

 Get over yourself, you know?

Brighton Beach (2)

I was Blanche in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” 1989

If you aren’t cast in the role you wanted, it is not a big enough reason not to be involved in a production.  Maybe you are to learn or gain something else from the experience? Life is a journey, you know.

For several days after I cast a production, some times I deal with hurt egos of cast members or those who auditioned for me and didn’t receive the role they desired.

I know I’ve previously mentioned this–casting a production has a lot to do with who a director envisions in a role.

Sometimes I have no idea who I want to play a part.  Other times, the right person walks in and is perfect. They are the essence of the character all ready.

 Some people can mold themselves into what I am looking for.  Those people are special because they are versatile.

There are other factors in the decision to cast someone, however.

Do I know their work?  Are they responsible?  Are they known to be difficult to direct and/or not a team member?

cricket on the hearth (2)

I was Dot in “Cricket in the Hearth” 2000

There are people who can only portray straight roles.  Straight roles are those parts most closely related to your personality.  Have you ever seen someone in a movie who plays the same sort of roles in each movie?  The roles the actor portrays is much like her off screen. Aha. Personally, I think Meg Ryan is a good example of someone who can only portray a straight role.

Then there are character roles.  Characters roles are those parts which are unlike you–because of your age, stature or personality. Paul Giamatti can portray character roles with such genius.

Character roles:

ugly step sister

Wicked Witch

Cowardly Lion


Straight roles:





Luckily, I can play both straight and character roles. That makes me more valuable to a director.   To be honest, I enjoy performing character roles the most, because usually they are interesting and unique.

It isn’t about playing the lead.  It is about who you are best suited to portray.

Guess what?  I have not been cast in a production before.  No joke!  (I’m scoffing here a bit.  I hope you understand.)

So, chin up! If you don’t receive the role you craved for, your time will come in the future.

Watch the Tony Awards this Sunday, June 11 and pick out the chorus members or those supporting characters you notice.

I know several actors who will perform that evening.  I am very excited for them.

 Shout a Bravo to your television and I will, too.

I think they will magically hear us…..

Importance of Beaing Earnest (2)

I was Miss Prism in “Importance of Being Earnest” 1976

Contact me at or

I’d love to hear from you!


Kabuki Theatre Website

Kabuki Theatre Website

Great site about Kabuji Theatre.  Michiko Approved. 😊

Kabuki At Kyoto’s Minamiza Theater

Here is my post on Kabuki theatre and the reasons females are excluded from performing:

Kabuki Theatre for Girls

Beginner’s Guide: Talent agencies

Beginner’s Guide:  Talent agencies

ballet dancer yellow

Almost every year of my career (35+) someone  asks me if they should get an agent.

No kidding.

I shudder each time, because I know they are not going to like the answer I give them.

My answer is a resounding–NO!

My emphatic answer is a bit misleading, however.

Here is my beginner’s guide to choosing a talent agency.

If you want to pursue acting work in the professional realm, then you need an agent.

There are many costs to the avocation and they are yours to pay–headshots, auditions clothes, dance and acting classes, etc.

If a “talent agency” is crazy about you the minute they meet you and are very quick to offer to represent you, be very wary of them. 

More importantly, if the agency thinks you need more training and requires you take their “classes” at YOUR expense, run away.  Run very far away from them.


Here’s a little story:

Several summers ago, I asked a talented girl (we’ll call her Barbie) to choreograph for a youth theatre camp production of mine.  She wasn’t a professional yet, but I could see she had the potential to be one someday if she so chose.   I like to give young people an opportunity to staff my shows–how else are they going to learn?

Barbie and I agreed on the musical numbers she would stage or choreograph, splitting them between us.  It was a solid agreement.

ballet dancer yellow

Or so I thought.

Two months later, Barbie arrives for the camp displaying an air of superiority. Her nose was held, honestly, up in the air.  Hmmm.  My director intuition knew something had changed.

Oh boy, had it!

Seems in the two months since I made the agreement with her, Barbie was “discovered” by a talent agency.

“Discovered”–that was my first red flag.

I have never seen someone so star struck in my life and honey, I’ve been around novice actors for years.

Her mother (equally gullible) and she had attended auditions for a talent agency who traveled to their metropolis seeking “exceptional talent”.

Barbie auditioned for them and they were crazy for her talent–IMMEDIATELY.

Now granted, the girl is great dancer, but she was coming out of eighth grade and had no performing experience other than dance recitals.  She was a beginning acting student of mine–note, BEGINNING.  At that point, she had performed in one show which I directed and she was a chorus member. Chorus, people!

What Barbie lacked in experience and training her parents made up for with money. An example–the girl owned a full size harp. Weekly her mother drove her to harp lessons in a major city about an hour away. Get the picture?


“It’s only $2,000 for their training,” she shared “and then I’m in a showcase with real agents (from like Disney and Nicklodeon) in attendance and they offer you jobs from there.They said I was a shoe-in.”

Oh dear…

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I reminded Barbie she made a commitment to my production.  I’ll give her mother some credit, she expect Barbie to fulfill the commitment but gee, Barbie wouldn’t be able to attend the dress rehearsals or actual productions.

I knew what occurred before Barbie even admitted it.

handsome guy

“There’s this really hunky college guy with the agency who has been on the Disney Channel and he begged me to take the training so I can be in the showcase.” Barbie mooned.


“This all conflicts with the production dates, so I need to be at the training. That is, if my parents will pay for it.” At this point, Barbie gave her mother a sweet little girl pout. (Sounds like the mother was wary about the deal, hence the daughter’s pout.)

Barbie’s mother asked me for my opinion and of course I spewed forth the reasons against the idea.

You can see where this is going, right?

“Hollywood here I come!” Barbie’s Facebook profile posted soon after.


My negative opinion fell on deaf ears.

Don’t you love it when people ask for your opinion and then try to argue you out of it?

I released Barbie from the responsibility after her initial work was completed in the first week of rehearsal. It didn’t help her case when Barbie told my AD, “My work is done here.”

Uh, no?

There is nothing worse than having a volunteer who doesn’t want to volunteer…

About two months later, my AD messaged me about Barbie.  We both were curious how Barbie fared at the showcase. According to Facebook, it  seems her “training then showcase” didn’t impress the agents (haha–agents, oh please) and all Barbie got from the experience was–nothing.

Barbie never mentioned her  “Hollywood here I come!” post again.

$2,000 of nothing.

I think Barbie moved on to beauty contests. I saw her at a deli one lunch time and she was clothes in a bright pink dress with a white and silver sash across it. It was emblazoned with something like “Miss 100th Junior Miss of _________.”


My advice:  If you want to secure an agent, that’s great. There are many reputable ones. Look around, research, contact other professionals for their opinions.  Keep your ego out of the decision making. There are unsavory people everywhere. Just because someone throws around words to compliment you does not mean they are honest.  It’s a tough pill to swallow, but honey, get real.

 Be cautious and pay heed to the people who have your best interests at heart.

Good luck!




Announcing: Bumbling Bea The Play –Act one, Scene one

Announcing: Bumbling Bea The Play –Act one, Scene one

I’m one of those people who do what they say they are gonna do.


I am adapting Bumbling Bea into a play!  (I feel we need trumpets blaring and hi-steppers stepping….This is HUGE people.  )

marching band

Now you would think this would be an easy feat for me considering how many years I have directed plays.

 Nay, nay I say. ( I heard this on the radio one day and it cracked me up.)

I’m stalling, I know.

Directing plays since the dawn of man does make my job easier.  It’s a laborious process, however.  It takes me about two hours to adapt four to eight pages of the book version. Then I poop out.

Note:  This is the first draft of the scene.  I haven’t given you a cast list, or description of the set.  For those of you who are familiar with the book version, I think you’ll be able to easily follow the play.  At least, that’s my hope.

BB the play


Here it is:

 Act one, Scene one.  Enjoy!

Bumbling Bea Act One Scene 1B

Note #2:  I’m seeking beta readers for the play.  Would you be interested in helping?  Just think–someday when it is published you can say you helped make it into the terrific play it is destined to be.

I’m a fan of the play version of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  Bumbling Bea the play is loosely patterned at it.

Also, this is family fair.  I expect to see youth theater and community theaters producing it.

I honestly think Bumbling Bea will have much success in play form.

Daring words coming from the cautious me.

Contact me at or

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Happy April Fool’s Day–Theatre Jokes to Make You Laugh

Happy April Fool’s Day–Theatre Jokes to Make You Laugh

What No One Tells You About Full Circle Moments–Part One

What No One Tells You About Full Circle Moments–Part One


I am excited!  This weekend I’m going to enjoy a full circle moment.

Have you ever experienced one?  You know, a “pay it forward” kind  of thing? They’re deeply fulfilling.

As a teacher and director, I’ve had many.  It seems to go with the territory. I would imagine everyone experiences full circle moments several times in their lifetime. If they are happy ones, we are joyful. If they are sad, I’m not certain we recognize them as full circle moments, but some sort of lesson we still need to learn.

Has anyone advised you how to handle them? Me neither.

No one tells you the brevity of them– they are magical and surprising.

Full circle moments, in general, are random.

An example:  My Ukrainian pen pal ended up on a  train  in Romania with a professor from my small midwestern hometown who knew my family.  That’s one chance in at least a million chances of occurring.

Another:  My daughter grows up to perform in a show with one of her babysitters who grew up and became an actress at my encouraging. They perform together in a different city one hundred miles away. Ten years later.

You have to admit full circle moments make you take a pause. Sometimes they are baffling. You are afraid to share them with anyone for fear they’ll think you are crazy–you are fantasizing and dillusional.

We can’t prophesy when full circle moments will occur or even if we’ll have one. That’s what makes them special.


This particular full circle moment began very innocently.

Forty years ago next month, in 1977 I  student taught drama at West Junior High School in Columbia, MO. Some of the students were the best students I’ve taught, even if I was still in the learning phase of my career.  I am still friends with many of them today.

A young man, Randall Kenneth Jones, is a student of mine during that semester.  He is smart, witty and clever.

In 1978, we work together in an outdoor community theater.  Randy performs Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress while I serve as the stage properties mistress.  We perform as brother and sister in 110 in the Shade.  He is in the chorus while I portray Mrs. Bumble in Oliver!

Two years later, my former husband and I create a community theater– Columbia Entertainment Company.  Randy performs in several of the shows–Two by Two and Damn Yankees.  I perform with him in Damn Yankees.

Get this: My cooperating teacher when I student taught, Jackie Petit White, performs in the production as well!

Randy attends the University of Missouri-Columbia in journalism.  Afgter graduating, he moves to Washington, DC. He works in marketing, advertising and public relations with a focus on creative development. He develops a terrific resume which includes PR and marketing for Walgreens, JCPenney, The Washingon Post and more.

I stay in Missouri, divorce, remarry, have children, preside over CEC for several years, run a theatre school, teach drama to middle schoolers and create several youth theater programs.  I direct several hundreds plays and musicals with adults and children alike. My resume is different from Randy’s, but equally successful.

In essence, we are equally busy.


Time passes….

Thirty-nine years later in 2016, we meet again. I read on Facebook Randy has authored a really cool book, Show Me.  Show Me is filled with over one hundred interviews Randy collected with very successful people–Pat Benatar, Barbara Cochran, Jent Evanovich, Tyler Mathiesen, Suze Orman, just to name a few.

He’s about to release Show Me.  I write him, congratulating him.  We rekindle our friendship.  We promise to do a better job of keeping up with each other.

It’s fun to know again this great student, now a grown man. He’s just as witty, clever and smart.

Now the full circle moment–

Two months go by and Randy contacts me.  He’s traveling to  Columbia to do a fundraiser for CEC which was built twenty-nine years ago. (Isn’t that crazy?) For the fundraiser,  he’ll be performing a stand up routine, selling and autographing his book, too.

His routine includes memories of the teachers who inspired him, one of which was my cooperating teacher, Jackie Petit White.   He wants to speak about me as well, because I was very instrumental in keeping the community theatre afloat for years.

Would I be interested in participating as well?

Heck, yes!

I’m not taking center stage.  This event isn’t about me, but I will benefit from it.  I’ll be signing and selling Bumbling Bea (2.0) books before and after the show.

A portion of the proceeds go to Columbia Entertainment Company.  Tickets may be reserved in advance at

In some respects, full circle moments are snippets of time in our lives. 

They prove, “I am here on earth.  I matter.  I helped someone to find themselves.”  My inner self and actual self meet in congruence. Wow!

We have amazing lives whether we notice them occurring or not. Could I have foreseen this upcoming moment? Never.

What full circle moments have you experienced?

Read part two of this full circle moment here:

Randy and I would love to see you and say hello.  You’ll find our books on

See you soon!


Contact me at or my website at




Don’t Ever Whistle in a Theater. Here’s Why

Don’t Ever Whistle in a Theater.  Here’s Why

We theatre people are a superstitious bunch.  I am.  I can scare myself merely walking to the bathroom in the dark at my own home.  (Ridiculous, I know.) It only makes sense if you think about it– we have HUGE imaginations if we are any good at all on the stage.   There are certain things we simply do not do or say…

Never Whistle in a Theater

Never Whistle on Stage:

I was chastised once for whistling on stage.  (I whistle if I can’t sing at the moment.)  The history of this superstition was news to me.  Many years ago, stagehands were out of work sailors. Ships used ropes.  Theaters used a similar amount of ropes. Set pieces and people were raised and lowered in by rope, sand bags and fly systems.

Have you ever worked the rigging system of a theater?  It’s tremendous, especially counter weight systems which are still pretty common.

Whistling was used to cue other men backstage to raise or lower ropes. So if you were onstage and whistled you might face a sand bag to the face. Luckily, we now have headsets.

Break a Leg
We never wish each other good luck. Instead we say, “Break a leg”. What? I knew it was of historical significance, but apparently there are several possible origins. One thought is it came from ancient Greek Theatre when audience members stomped a foot to show appreciation of a strong performance. (Must have been pretty dusty.)  During  the times of Vaudeville theatre, actors wished each other “Break a leg”, because if they made it on the stage past the curtain legs, they expected to be paid. We aren’t certain where this superstition originated, but we continue to wish each other a break of the leg.

ballet dancers

Bad Dress Rehearsal Equals Good Opening Night

As a director and actress, I’ve experienced many a bad dress rehearsal.  If you’ve been involved in any amount of productions you will, too.  A bad final dress rehearsal is sign for a good opening performance. A good director paces the production to hit their peak at opening night.  Everyone knows this.

It could be nerves of the cast and crew’s impending performance which makes for shaky dress rehearsals. They know what’s coming.  I know one director who has no dress rehearsal and takes the night  off right before the show opens. (He merely has it a day earlier.) Yikes!

His thought is performers are much like racing horses at the gates.  With a night off prior to the opening night, it allows everyone to rest up, cogitate on their personal notes from the director and simply focus.

Maybe he’s hoping to ward off a bad dress rehearsal.  Frankly, I’m all about sleep. I would rather have a longer dress rehearsal on a Tuesday night and a shorter one on Wednesday night so everyone can get some rest before a show opens on a Thursday night, than to stress out everyone with a extended dress rehearsal on a Wednesday.


Flowers Gifts:

It is expected for performers to be given flowers especially on opening night.   Once this honor was given only on directors and leading performers, but it is common practice nowadays to show support and appreciation from family, friends, and fans.

So when is this bad? It is believed that receiving flowers before a show is as equally bad luck as saying break a leg. I never knew this!

I never allow my cast members to accept flowers on stage at the end of a curtain call.  Tacky, tacky.   Many years ago, we didn’t have florist shops.  So, in order to obtain flowers nice enough for a gift and for a cheap price, people stole from graveyards.

The superstition comes in when you give performers flowers that are associated with death before a show closes that you were bringing about the death of a show. Flowers were given after the show closed to symbolize the death, or end, of a production.

  The Ghost Light

Let’s face it– a dark theater is a scary and treacherous place. There are lots of things to trip over, bump into, fall into an orchestra pit or damage set pieces easily.  Most of the time the light switches for the backstage, or work lights is difficult to find even when other lights are lit. . While it might fend of pesky ghosts from playing tricks on shows, it also helps protect the unlucky few who are rummaging through the dark.

In an Equity theatre, the ghost light was the physical alert that you are no longer on the job. When a stage manager puts out the ghost light, he is signaling rehearsal or the performance is over for the evening and consequently no one will be paid after this moment.


The Scottish Play

What is the “The Scottish Play” you ask?  It’s William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Many of us believe mentioning this name or even quoting lines from this show will bring disaster upon ourselves and our production.

History abounds for this superstition.  For instance, several famous actors (Charlton Hester and Constantine Stanislavski) suffered catastrophes during or after a production of Macbeth. That’s a new one for me.

Also, it is said that Abe Lincoln read this play the night before his assassination.

Today, people associate its utterance to technical things going awry, actors forgetting lines, props and costumes mysteriously vanish, a freak storm closes the theatre, and a bunch of other freaky weird things.

If you want to rid yourself of the curse, you must turn around eleven times and ask for forgiveness of Dionysis, the god of theater.  This sounds ridiculous, but I don’t want to take the chance that it could be true.

So, here’s my question:  What happens when one is performing Macbeth or directing it?  You have to recite the lines then.  Maybe it only works if you aren’t performing it?

Whatever.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not taking any chances…

Please forgive me, please forgive me, please forgive me.


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