Saturday, March 29, 2014


This is it...closing night of Rent is here.  Words cannot begin to express how incredible this experience has been.  It has flown by.  I feel like yesterday was our first rehearsal, and I'm not ready for it to end.  Playing Angel has pushed me well outside my comfort zone as a performer vocally, physically, and mentally; and I have loved every minute of it.  I have learned and grown such much as a result of being surrounded by such marvellously talented and creative individuals.  This show has been an enormous blessing in every sense of the word!
The feedback we have gotten from our audiences and reviewers has been astounding, and gratifying, and validating.  As artists we are constantly putting ourselves in vulnerable positions by laying our hearts and talents and creations out for our audiences to receive and critique, and you never really know HOW they're going to be received until you're in front of the crowd each night (all of which were sold out, by the way).  Our audiences have been SO receptive and responsive and filled with energy which in turn energizes us even more.  My favorite compliment from an audience member was, "True story...Act I:  Every woman wants Angel's legs.  Act II:  Every man wants Angel's arms!" Though of course there were endless favorable accounts from all of our reviewers and audience members.
Anyway, I'm just beaming.  This show has been everything I ever wanted or needed it to has surpassed my expectations, and will most certainly be remembered as one of my favorite productions and parts I have had the honor to play; and I almost made it out unscathed, as this last Tursday night I had my first heel catastrophe and nearly tripped to my death off the moon, but "Mark" aka Jeremy aka Scar-Face-Dangle-Ear grabbed my hand and saved my clumbsy drag queen ass!  Thank you the cast and crew for all of the ways in which you are awesome and continue to inspire me.  I can't wait to work with you all again.  I'm very excited to get started on Hardbody at New Line starting next week!
Now lets go out with a bang...or a fabulous drum solo...and give this last sold out house everything we've got!!

Much Love,
Luke (ANGEL)

Friday, March 7, 2014

We'll Get Along Fine!

Yesterday I was cool as a cucumber all day.  ALL DAY.  No nerves at all, aside from my physical and mental exhaustion, figuring out how much time I needed to shave my entire body each day of the run, and the typical pre-show shits.  Otherwise I was absolutely fine.  Fast forward to 7:55PM...I have all my makeup and costume pieces on, we get our places call, then the music starts and I am the ONLY cast member backstage (I am not in the title song).  THEN the panic set in.  Inner dialogue, "HOLY FUCKING SHIT I'M DOING RENT...THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING...DIDN'T WE JUST START REHEARSALS...A TON OF PEOPLE ARE ABOUT TO SEE ME IN DRAG FOR THE FIRST TIME...A TON OF RENT FANS ARE ABOUT TO COMPARE ME TO EVERY OTHER ANGEL THEY'VE SEEN...AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH...I MIGHT POOP MY PANTS...I'M GOING TO POOP IN MY HOT PANTS RIGHT NOW."

I did not poop my pants, because I was obviously perfectly calm.  Dispite my frantic inner voice I was all smiles because this has been such a surreal experience...doing Rent for one thing, playing Angel, being back on the stage I started on 14 years ago, making so many amazing new friends.  I started to tear up a little, singing along with my castmates, my family.  Then I had to stop myself from crying so my fake lashes wouldn't slide down my face!  Then the song ended and I made my first entrance to delighted giggles and applause from the audience.  A sigh of relief.  Just the acknowledgement you need to know that the audience is on your side, and that all they want is for you to deliver a compelling story and experience to them; and you get excited about that and strive to be even better than your very best for them!

Anyhow, the show went even better than I had hoped.  I am no longer terrified.  LOL  I am so pleased and happy with our production and the life and meaning that this show has.  It is still a surreal experience to be a part of it.  I can't wait for every one of our remaining performances and to see the faces in the audience as they're moved by the story.

Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who shared our first performance with us, and for everyone who has supported us along the way, thank you to my boyfriend for listening to me talk non-stop about the show since before rehearsals began...and for painting my nails for me, and thank you to all of my incredible cast mates who are truly a part of my family now and have been so lovely and inspiring to work with.  I feel vaildated.  I feel loved.  I feel like I've come home at last.  :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hi I'm Angel!

So normally in preparation for a role a couple of things I like to do to flesh out my character are answering a list of character questions I've compiled over the years (sort of an interview of the character), I do as much research of the time period as possible, I research the events surrounding the story, I even like to keep a journal as the character to fully get myself in the mind of that person and to fill in the time that is not played out in the show.  As much as I feel like Angel's spirit has been in me all along, getting to the root of what makes her tick has been a greater challenge than I have been presented with before.  It's the kind of role you crave as an actor...something that takes you into a completely new realm and forces you to feel everything that character feels, seeing through their eyes and not your own.  I think I've been afraid to really dig into Angel as I normally would any other role because I knew that it would require me to go to a really dark place and to find the light again.  As I stated in a previous post, I spent many years in darkness, and finally am surrounded with light and love and happiness, so the prospect of returning to that sad place is terrifying.  Journalling as my character is usually the most useful technique for me, but I had a hard time finding where to begin.  I knew I'd have to grapple with the realization of having AIDS and ultimately having an expiration date, and somehow put aside my own emotions about those circumstances to understand how to overcome the sadness of it and be this beaming disco-ball of light and positivity for my friends in this very real make-believe world.  To find some inspiration I created a sort of "vision board" for Angel, representing all the things that touch and inspire her to be the fabulous otherworldly creature that she is.  It ended up being pretty cool, and feels much more like something Angel would create, rather than chronicling her day to day in a journal.  After all, Angel's whole message in the show is to seize every moment and fill it with passion and love and joy and generosity, because you never know when your time is up.  She stares death right in the face and laughs, choosing to enjoy herself and her loved ones every moment that she possibly can.  Anyway, this is what I came up with...

I may or may not add things to it throughout the run, but I've been collecting images that have inspired Angel since before our rehearsal process even began.  Of course it's not a complete picture of Angel, only a glimpse into some of the things she loves  (the next size up was an 84" foam board, and ain't nobody got time fo dat!).

Somebody asked me last night what I thought the dynamic of the relationship is between Angel and Collins.  Really they meet, right away Angel reveals that she has AIDS, and they kind of jump right into a relationship.  He asked me why would Angel just say that right off the bat, and not be more scared.  I thought about it for a bit and came to the conclusion that Angel has probably been burned more than a few times since her diagnosis AND just for being a drag queen in general, and would rather put it out there so that the receiving party can decide whether or not it's their cup of tea.  Collins probably wasn't the first person she just said that so matter-of-factly to, but he was the first one not to immediately reject her because he was able to see the beauty of her spirit!  Yes Collins also has AIDS, so it's not as if he can contract it again, but that moment in the show IS love at first sight because they see each others souls!  That question being asked of me inspired me to return to my journalling process as Angel, because though Angel may not keep a log of her day, she would very likely keep a gratitude journal of all of the people, events, and things that bring joy and growth into her life(which I have been doing for years, personally).  I'm not sure why, but it really was a light bulb moment for me, being asked that question.  So thanks Zak Farmer!  I again feel fully in touch with Angel...I AM Angel!

Our sitzprobes and initial tech rehearsals are finished as of this weekend, and the show looks and sounds as beautiful as it feels to be a part of.  I'm so excited to run the show the next three days and open to a sold out house this weekend!  This process has changed my life.  I, Angel, am grateful for every single one of my cast/crew mates.  I so love how we have become this beautifully functional family, with none of the drama and all of the love of the characters we are portraying in this show, and more!  Thank you all for such a transcendent experience.  I have so much love for you!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Moon Glows

Last night we finished blocking the show.  We ran act two a few times tonight, and I could not be more pleased with how the show looks and feels.  I'll admit I had a few reservations about how different some of the scenes are from what we're used to seeing in Rent, but tonight it ALL made perfect sense.  That director of ours is a genius.  That's all I'm going to say about THAT because I don't want to spoil anything, but our audiences are in for a pleasant and refreshing surprise!

Act two is arguably the more emotional act in the show, as it involves death and the disbanding of the group of friends and the relationships within, and tonight proved to be very moving.  As we all know, Angel the "wise wizard" of the show dies early in the act, leaving her friends to do what they will with the lessons she has attempted to teach them.  I had the pleasure of just observing from that point on.  What I witnessed was an incredibly talented and intuitive group of people--my family--actually FEELING the story, the emotions of their characters, the raw devastation of relationships being ripped apart for a variety of reasons, the mourning of death, fearing life and loneliness, and eventually realizing what's important in life--cherishing every moment with the ones you love, CHOOSING happiness, and living every day to its fullest potential.  

I also had a thought about Mark tonight that I'd never really considered much before.  People often feel sorry for Mark because he "alone" (not paired up with anyone) throughout the show.  The form of true love he finds in the show is within his community of friends.  Mark continues to spread Angels message of love and joy to his friends, who are still too wrapped up in their own bullshit to notice.  Mark, who's "obsessed" with his work, does a beautiful thing--he immortalizes his friends by capturing their beautiful personalities in his film.  Mark becomes the hero after Angel dies.  Angel "helped us believe in love", but Mark gives everyone the gift of everlasting life.  Yes, I have realized all of this before--I'm not completely daft--but watching this play out on stage tonight really struck a chord with me.  I am inspired.

Not that I was not already extremely excited for this show, but tonight stoked the already-existing fire under my ass to make sure Angel is as inspiring she can possibly be, especially inspiring enough to warrant such brilliant and moving reactions from her friends and loved ones.  Needless to say, I am honored to be surrounded by such talented people, I am already so in love with them all!  What a beautiful experience this is!  ;)

It's ALIVE, ladies and gents, it's ALIIIIIVVVVVEEEE!  Sunday we are finally on set and begin running the entire show.  I cannot wait!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A New Lease You Are, My Love, On Life

Last night I had the pleasure of having one of the most profound and honest conversations I've had in a long time with a new friend and kindred spirit.  No cell phones or distractions, minus the dancing Elvis' (plural) outside the window.  Just face to face conversation.  Strange that we have become so accustomed to having our phones in our hands checking Facebook or twitter or emails or texts, that actually stopping that, actively paying attention to the person you're with, and connecting is a refreshing experience.  Nonetheless, I am grateful to make such connections.  A wide variety of topics were covered, and I was reminded of yet another reason that I love theatre and performing so passionately.  Not only do we get to sing and dance our asses off and act out these awesome stories, but we make incredible friends along the way; friends you feel like you've known your entire life and cannot imagine your future without.  We are an ever expanding family of artists who care deeply for one another, and are constantly learning and growing as a result of knowing each other.

Anyway, the typical "getting to know you" conversations of our pasts were had, and I figured it's as good a time as any to share that information with the rest of you, as it ties directly into my character motivation for Angel, and why I am so passionate about this show.

About a year and a half ago I was having what you might call an early-mid-life-crisis.  Actually, I had been in this state of crisis for a few years, but didn't recognize it as so until later.  I had been hung up on what-ifs and maybes and held back by my own fear since quitting college after a semester in a school I didn't really love (though in retrospect I value the experience).  So I did the white-pickett-fence thing.  I got a full-time big boy job in which I regularly ended up working 60+ hours a week making great money for a 20-something-year-old, bought a nice car, got an apartment, got married, got a dog, had enough money to pretty much afford whatever I wanted, within reason.  Then a couple of years ago I realized that I wasn't happy.  Dispite all the luxuries in my life, I had been unhappy for quite some time.

I concluded fairly quickly that the missing link was theatre.  I'd only done two shows since school, and both were things I kind of got pulled into at the last minute, so the full experience wasn't really there. However, I knew that I needed to get back to my biggest source of happiness, which has always been performing.  Doing theatre in school brought me out of my shell and gave me a place where I could be comfortable in my own skin, be weird and awkward and funny and serious at various times with people that I trusted and knew would love me unconditionally.  Theatre saved my life then, and it did it again during this time in my adult life when I really didn't know what the hell I was doing or what I wanted anymore, but knew I couldn't stay stuck anymore.  So I had heard through the grapevine that a company was doing Sweeney Todd.  I mustered up some courage, put together a resume, auditioned, and got cast as Anthony.  Now the show was a hot mess, not for lack of talent, but I didn't care.  I finally had the chance to have a theatre family again and I was NOT going to let go of it ever again.

Sometime when you find your happiness, those who are unhappy don't understand and try to take it from you because maybe they're jealous, or don't recognize this new happy version of you.  Hell I didn't recognize myself; and it was NICE!  Anyway, I found myself in a new predicament.  I began meditating several times a day to gain some clarity.  My outlook on life began to change completely, becoming increasingly positive and more fearless every day.  As often happens when one becomes more positive, others negativity becomes more apparent.  My spouse and boss did NOT like me performing at all!  Many arguments were had on the subject at home and at work.  I knew I had to get out of both toxic relationships and do what I have always felt was my sole purpose in life, my calling!

Then one day in the fall of 2012, while noodling over all this overwhelming bullshit, a woman came into my store, sat in front of me and said, "make me up" (I was working as a makeup artist at the time).  So before I even spoke a word to her she said to me, "You're a 'Three' aren't you?"  I kindly explained that I didn't know what the hell she was talking about.  She then proceeded to speak a few words that changed my life forever.  She said that in "Numerology" I'm a three.  She new my name, birthdate, and that I sing, act, and paint without me ever speaking a word to her.  She knew that I was only working this job to fill a creative void I'd had since I had not been performing.  Then she said to me, "You're onto something really huge here.  Your life is about to change in every way imaginable.  Some of those changes are really going to hurt a lot, but they are necessary in order for you to fulfill your destiny and be the radiant person you were born to be.  You are currently in great turmoil.  You are holding onto a toxic relationship for fear of hurting someone, but you are hurting your own soul by doing so.  You HAVE to let go of that relationship to become whole and happy with yourself and to go on to be the performer you are meant to be."  I had to pick my jaw up off the floor, but couldn't speak a word.  Tears streamed down my face.  How can this perfect stranger know everything that's in of my soul when I've literraly never met her before or told her anything about my life?  And she was right...about everything!!

Within a week....ONE WEEK, my spouse and my boss both gave me an ultimatum, "It's theatre, or this!"  I made the ONLY choice.  I chose theatre.  I chose my lifelong passion.  I chose the only thing that has ever made me feel at home and happy and passionate about life!  Choosing anything else over it would have been choosing death.  There was no other choice, no other way!  (see what I did there?)  Don't be sad about it...I'm not!


I have been performing again non-stop since then, and will continue to do so.  I found a job with perfect hours for my rehearsal and performance schedule, and I actually enjoy the work too.  I have a newfound and unwavering passion for life, love, and happiness.  I have become the happiest and most positive person I know, which is a thing I never thought I'd be able to say!  Now it didn't all happen at once obviously.  I'd been working on myself for quite some time.  Meditating every day several times a day, working out nonstop, eating better, writing down what I'm grateful for every morning and every night; and I STILL do those things every day.  It's a process and I have learned to take joy in the process.  I didn't recognize myself for a while, but I knew then and I know now that failure is no longer an option or even a fear anymore.  I had lost myself for so long in the pursuit of some elses dream, and I have myself back fully now, new and improved, and with a passion for life that cannot be measured.  I have found my happiness in expressing gratitude for the many blessings in my life and in embracing those blessings to the fullest extent.

It is the law of attraction that good attracts more good.  So that has become my philosophy on life.  It's crazy to me, but I actually have had people contact me saying how I inspire them!  How awesome is that?  My mantra for the year of 2012 was "Great chaos always preceedes great change!"  and it could not have been more true.  The ways in which my life has changed in the last year and a half are paramount.  I am happier, healthier, and more successful that I have been in my entire life, and it just keeps getting better, and will ONLY get better because I now know how to harness all the positive enrgy I need.  Every show I've done in the last year has been nominated for multiple awards...if that's not great validation, I don't know what is; and it's further proof that she (my Guardian Angel the Numerology lady) was right about everything!

Though it was difficult and some of that may sound sad to you, I do not regret one bit of it.  Everything happened exactly as it was supposed to, so do not pity me or feel sad about it in any way. I am grateful for the life-experience as it can only make me a more intuitive and understanding person going forward, and enhance any character I play from now on.  To be perfectly clear...I am not resentful in any way shape or form...I am completely happy with the way things have turned out!  SMILES! :)

To bring this all back around here...when I got cast as Angel, I thought to perfectly sublime that I get to play a character who, dispite looking darkness in the face every day, laughs and dances in the light, and chooses only to spread love and joy through everything that he does.  Angel teaches us to believe in love and happiness, and to live and experience every moment to the fullest.  This woman, whose name I still do not know, was my 'Angel' that day.  She walked into my life at that moment when I most needed her, and turned me into an 'Angel' too!  It truly was a miracle.  Since then, I have fallen in love too, with an incredible, intelligent, beautiful man who continues to inspire and delight me every day.  Another 'Angel' in my life!

In closing, I could not be more honored to portray 'Angel' at this moment in my life, because I have a strong spiritual connection to the character.  It is perfect timing actually!  Though we've only been together a short time, I already feel so connected to my Rent family.  My conversations last night with a few cast members further solidified those feelings even further, and I know that doing this show is another one of those surreal life-altering transcendant experiences that will bond us together forever.  Thank you all for being 'Angels' to me!  There is a special place in my heart for you!

P.S.  Maybe I should have just written a book...I just realized how long this post is!

P.P.S.  Oh yeah...the physical transformation has been pretty great too!

January 2013                                                                                   January 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

There's Only Us, There's Only This!

THIS was the rehearsal I had been waiting for!  Tonight we finally sang through the entire show with dialogue, and it was exhilarating.  What a beautiful experience to hear the full casts voices blending together to create one seamless unique sound, so different from any recordings of Rent we have previously heard.  So awesomely inspiring and refreshing to hear a new take on any given song you've heard 525,600 times before (see what I did there?).

It is hard not to get emotional when you're hearing such gorgeous sounds come from a group of artists, and even more difficult when you are part of that group.  Research has actually proven that when a group sings together, their heart rates synchronize with one another and become one rhythm.  I could feel that rhythm, that energy in the room tonight, and it moved me to tears on several occasions (which I did my best to hide from my cast mates).  I believe that this synchronicity is a great part of why musical casts seem to bond with each other so strongly.  Not only are the stories we get to tell often very moving themselves, but we literally share the same heart beat when telling them together!  That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever felt.  How can an experience like that NOT move you?!  There is something truly life-changing about those moments, when you FEEL that connection, you know it is something you can never forget.

Aside from already being mentally present in this ethereal experience and emotional from that, when we got to "Without You" and "I'll Cover You - reprise" I could no longer hold back my tears and sat there silently weeping at the incredible emotion behind the songs and from the people singing them.  I cannot WAIT to live out those moments on stage!!!  I couldn't even look at Marshall during our happy songs, much less the sad ones, without crocodile tears welling up in my eyes, blurring the music on the page (not that Rent hasn't been ingrained into my brain for eternity anyway).  I am so incredibly excited, even more so than I was before we started rehearsals.

Rent has always been a huge source of inspiration for me.  I'll get more into why and how another time.  I continue to be inspired by this incredible story, this beautiful moving music, these phenomenal performers I am working with and learning from.  My creative juices are flowing, and I cannot wait to get on stage and give this show the life it deserves.

Cast mates I already love you guys with all my heart...even you c**ty know who you are!  ;)  I am so excited to share in this journey with you all!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Got Any Crack - Any X - Any Jugie Boogie?

So I thought Mimi was supposed to be the junkie in this show, but after our first few rehearsals I am more excited than ever, and I am jonesing hard for some more RENT!  *slaps veins in arm*  Not that I didn't already have a very strong affinity for the show going into it, but now I am obsessed with/addicted to RENT, and all I want to do is sing the hell out of it 24-7 (probably not healthy)!  In fact, my workout playlist is now solely comprised of RENT recordings, La Boheme, and popular music from the early 90's that I can dance my ass off to in the style of Angel at a Drag Ball!  I managed to turn more than a few heads and became the direct recipient of several over-supported "Shooshh's" while belting out some RENT with my headphones on at the gym this week.  Consider it "Free Advertising" New Line!!  Anyway, just thought I'd share my excitement...again.  I cannot wait to get back to rehearsal on Sunday and sing through some more music with this incredible group of performers!