Tag Archives: Monologues

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye:  A few weeks ago I lost a very good friend of mine, Roy Miller, whom I’d known for 33 years. Funny expression, isn’t it?…If only he was just lost.

I was so hoping that this was just a big publicity stunt. It’s been known to boost sales for many a show in the past. I wouldn’t put it past him. After all he did get married on stage after one of the performances of “Drowsy Chaperone” which he produced on Broadway.  One of many Broadway shows he produced.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Opening Number

I met Roy the first day I moved to New York in the spring of 1980. I was 17 and he was the older and wiser 19 year old. I was living with 4 or 5 (it varied depending on the day) other girls in a one bedroom apartment on 56th and Broadway and Roy lived with a few guys two floors away.

It was very much like the show “Friends” in that we all went about our day auditioning, taking classes and looking for work and then when we got home we met up at one of the apartments (usually the guys) donned in togas & set to watch “Animal House”.

The Actor

When I met him, Roy was an actor. He was amazingly dedicated getting up in the wee hours every Thursday to pick up that week’s edition of “Backstage” hot off the presses so that he could be the first to line up for any auditions happening that day.

I had no interest in anything except ballet, but on one particular Thursday morning at three am, Roy shows me an audition for a summer stock production of “Oklahoma. His plan was to audition for ‘Will Parker’ and I would audition for ‘Dream Laurie’. I resisted as this would be my very first audition since moving to the city and it was for a musical not a ballet company, but he was adamant. “Then we could spend the summer together on the beach in Rhode Island”, he said. I didn’t even have an 8×10 so Roy got a hold of my high school picture, blew it up and stapled a resume to it (I’m not even sure it was mine come to think of it), and I got the job! I remember thinking how easy this musical theatre thing was. I later ate those words!

The direction of my life and my career changed dramatically that day thanks to Roy and I’ve never looked back. He taught me so many things as I had no skills other than ballet at the time. He got me a voice teacher an acting teacher and an agent. I have done some amazing things in this industry, things I never imaged I would ever do, all thanks to Roy’s insistence that I broaden my horizons.

He was someone who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. He was dedicated, determined and downright belligerent. All qualities a good actor needs along with the talent of course. And talent he had, he could sing and act and move pretty well, but he could also do magic, play the accordion, and do impressions. In my eyes he could do anything and everything.

He was even the Yankees mascot which was this huge blue furry creature of a costume that he crawled into and walked around the stadium doing crazy things to entertain the crowd. He loved it! He loved everything he did. He dove head first into every job he had and was completely and totally absorbed.

The Chumley Years

Roy had a soft spot for dogs. Early on in our relationship he was on the road doing “They’re Playing Our Song” and we were in the middle of a fight with hundreds of miles between us and no cell phones so we were paying for every second spent bickering on the phone! The next thing I knew he showed up on Christmas morning at my door with an engagement ring and the cutest little Pekingese puppy I’d ever seen, Chumley . The greatest dog ever!! He was the most loyal, loving, laid back best friend anyone could ever want. He did have his favorite pee spot on the leg of the couch, but one look into those big brown eyes that seemed to say, “I’m sorry. I can’t help myself. I love you!” and all was forgiven (for both of them).

We moved to West Hollywood, California for about a year while I was shooting Fame. Our apartment had a balcony on the2nd floor. Roy concocted a pulley device so that he could lower Chumley’s crate down to the ground, Chumley would do his business then get back into the crate and Roy would pull him back up. They were so great together and so attached to each other.

Tasha

But Roy was concerned that Chumley was lonely when we weren’t around so he found him a girlfriend, Tasha. The second greatest dog ever! We had big plans for them. They’d have puppies and we’d give them to all of our friends, but that didn’t work out too well despite all of our efforts to make a love connection. We tried everything, but they just weren’t interested in each other in that way. They were way better as friends. I think that was true for Roy and me as well. We never actually officially broke up. I think because we still felt connected in some way.

The last text I got from Roy was on the 10th anniversary of Tasha’s passing. He said in the text, “She and Chumley are no doubt having a ball in doggie heaven”. I will forever have the image of all of them together up there having a blast!

Big Time Broadway Producer

Roy started his producing career at The Papermill Playhouse in 1991 where he produced hundreds of shows. When he left in 2004 he had immediate success producing on Broadway with the shows, “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “A Christmas Story: The Musical”, “West Side Story,” “Ragtime,” [title of show]”, “I’m Not Rappaport” and “The Pee Wee Herman show”.

Oddly enough one of the shows he was working on before he passed was “Animal House”.

He loved everything about the theatre. He lived for it. If anyone deserved that kind of success it was Roy. I don’t know if he ever had aspirations of being a producer. I think it was more like producing found him because he was good at it. He could charm the pants off of anyone. Broadway was lucky to have him.

Finale

I’m so proud and so lucky to have had Roy in my life. I guess I never imagined a life without knowing that he would always be there if I ever needed him. He touched so many lives in his short 52 years. He is so missed by all of us.

I have so many more memories of Roy. We spent a lot of time together and he was a very important part of my life at a very impressionable time. He always had and always will have a very special place in my heart where he will remain until we meet again.  I hate saying goodbye so let’s say until the next show!

My thoughts are with his family now and always.

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Phantom Of The Opera

Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera, it’s certainly the most well known show that I’ve done in my career.  It just became the only show on Broadway to surpass the 25 year mark.  It is the longest running Broadway show!  Yes, I know what you’re thinking…I was 2 when I got the job of Meg back in 1988…or at least I was hoping you were thinking that!

I was living in Los Angeles at the time just having finished filming the last year of the series Fame in which I played the character Jillian.  I got a call from an old friend of mine telling me this new show was coming to Broadway and they were having trouble finding the “Meg” character.  She needed to be able to sing, act and dance…on point!

Having been in LA for the last year, I was completely out of the Broadway scene, but I called my agent and they got me an audition.  I packed up and jumped on a plane the next day.  I went to the audition, danced, sang and read a scene from the show and then I flew back home the next morning.    When I walked in the door there was my answering machine blinking (no cell phones back then).  I listened to the message as I started to unpack my suitcase and it was my agent saying they wanted me back in New York for a callback!

I made another reservation for a round trip although this time I was going to spend the whole weekend since the callback was on a Friday.    Then I called my agents to make sure this was the last and final callback as it was getting a bit expensive!  They assured me it was.

This time when I arrived in the city I noticed on the buses and all of the telephone booths an ad with a white mask on a black background.  No copy at all, just the mask.  Then I started noticing them all over the city.   This was some ingenious advertising.  Talk about leaving them wanting more.  I guess this show “Phantom of the Opera” was going to be a pretty big deal.

Again I sang, danced and read for a roomful of people.  Afterwards they brought me back into the room and explained that I would have to sing for Andrew Lloyd Webber…at his apartment…in Trump towers the next day.

Needless to say I got absolutely no sleep that night.  I arrive at Andrew’s front door.  A woman answers and ushers me in to the most amazing apartment (more like mansion) I’d ever seen.  I walk in to the studio where there sits Andrew Lloyd Weber at the piano with Hal Prince next to him.  I give him my music as he himself played for me and as I’m singing I’m wondering if they can hear my knee caps shaking.  He then had me sing a bit from the score and then said “Thank you”.

I walked out a bit stunned thinking that was kind of cool, but I guess I didn’t get it.  So my boyfriend and I decided to rent a car and head to Atlantic City to blow off some of my nerves.  That night I happened to call the woman I was staying with in the city and she said that Johnson/Liff (the casting office for Phantom of the Opera) was trying to get a hold of me.  They wanted me to be at Chelsea studios on Monday morning.

But I was flying home on Monday!  I had no idea what was going on.  And it was Sunday so I couldn’t get a hold of my agents or the casting office to find out what this meant!

I show up Monday morning and there were about 100 people in the room.  Now I had even less idea what was going on and frankly I was too embarrassed to ask.

The Stage Manager explained that, one by one, everyone will stand and introduce themselves and say what character they will be playing.  So, we all sat down in a big circle and proceeded with the introductions.  They were all very confident in the knowledge of what roles they were playing.   So, when it came to me I said, “I’m Elisa and I think I might be playing the role of Meg, but I’m not sure?”  A burst of laughter erupted.

At that point the Stage Manager took me over and introduced me to Cameron McIntosh.  Apparently, he was the last person who had to sign off on me before I could officially be hired.  Thankfully he did and I was off and running.

It was one of the most exciting six months of my life.  Everyone who was anyone came to see the show from British Royalty to Michael Jackson.   They would keep us all on stage after the show so that they could meet us all and shake our hands (or bow in the case of Royalty).  It was a little like a receiving line at a wedding every single night for the first 6 months.

Here I am 25 (or so) years later.  Who knew?  I guess maybe Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber and Cameron McIntosh know how to put on a show!

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So You Want to Be a Working Actor?

So You Want to be a working Actor?

The most important thing an actor should have is an arsenal of material to perform at the ready. You need a rehearsed and polished sample of every style of song and or monologue (classical, contemporary, funny, and serious) ready to perform at all times.

So you want to be a working actor

Your 2nd most important tool is a fantastic headshot. It is your business card. If you are under the age of 16 you should not spend a lot on pictures because your appearance will change. You will probably need new shots taken every year. However, if you are an adult, this is where you are going to want to spend a little money. A really good headshot is very important. Your photo is the initial meeting you have with agents and casting directors so it needs to make a good and lasting impression on them. It must be the best representation of you and your personality.

You should find a photographer who specializes in headshots for actors. Look at their book. Do their shots jump out at you? Look at the eyes, are they saying something? If not, find another photographer. Once you have picked a photographer they should be able to tell you what to wear that will photograph the best. And for a woman, they should have a make up artist available for you (about $150 extra, but well worth it). Make sure you have a couple of different looks, commercial & musical theatre, (usually smiling), a serious shot for TV and film, and possibly a business shot (for adults).

Once you get the photographs done, the hard part is picking 2 or 3 of your favorite shots. You may want to get some different opinions from friends, family and anyone you know in the industry. You do want to look your best, but make sure you look like your picture so the people you are auditioning for are not surprised or shocked when you walk in the room.

When you have made your choice of shots, take them to a reputable reproduction shop. My recommendation is Reproductions in midtown Manhattan because they will know exactly what to do. You will have a few options to choose from you can do a composite shot so you have all your different looks on one 8×10 or separate shots with your different looks (commercial, theatre and TV and film). Make copies of whichever ones you decide on. Believe it or not some auditioners still ask for a hard copy of your picture and resume.  It’s something you should have on you at all times.  Never leave home without it!  You will also have the option of putting your resume directly on the back of the shots (which could be a problem if you want to add or change your resume) or you can just staple your resume to the back of your headshot.

When writing your resume, it should be in a 3 column format. If you have access to the resume of a working actor, copy their format. Otherwise here are the instructions in a nutshell. Your name should be centered along with your contact info below it. You want to list your show categories in the first column, the role you played in the 2nd, and where it was done in the 3rd. You do the same for film and any television. At the bottom of the page list your training, vocal range, dialects you have perfected and any special skills. Be concise as possible. You do not want to bore them!

Make yourself a website with video of all your acting gigs.  You’ll want to put all of your different looks on there as well. Be as specific as you can as you are selling yourself as the perfect actor for the job!  Be creative as well, just like a headshot you want your website to stand out from everybody else’s.

Now you can call yourself a professional actor. All you have to do is get the job!  How do you do that?  You spend every waking moment studying and honing your craft!

So you want to be a working actor?

 

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