Ups and Downs

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Wednesday, 7 December

As I’m sure you’ve gathered from my lack of posting these last couple weeks, things have gotten BUSY here!  Today is one of those wonderful days where I have a big break between rehearsals, so I’m attempting to catch up…  Highlights from the last 15 days:

Work
We finished learning our first show (Villains Tonight) and have run it several times.  Cleaning and polishing continue 😉

Now rehearsing our second show, The Golden Mickeys.  I’m on ensemble track for that, so doing lots of vocals and some choreography.  Understudying Cruella de Vil in this show as well, which is a really fun part!  My friend who is the principal Cruella is quite a good dancer, so u/s’ing her track for the rest of the show is quite a challenge for me… but I’m working very diligently off to the side and after rehearsals, often assisted by one of my incredibly-talented and lovely-in-general dancer friends 🙂

More sword work.  I am almost a convincing pirate now.

After being squeezed into my harness tighter than Scarlett O’Hara into her corset, I got to do some more flying – this time higher and faster!

I reached my 30-day employment mark, got my Disney cast id card, and am now entitled to receiving those discounts I’ve told you about 😉

Play
More fun cast events, including a homey and tasty Thanksgiving potluck, a crazy trivia night, the most hilarious surprise birthday party I’ve ever attended, and kicking off Secret Santa 🙂  Christmas shopping with a friend, spending some time singing with her, too, and planning out duets we want to work on!

Enjoyed quite a bit of practicing for fun – singing through some of my favorite songs, challenging myself vocally, treating those times like voice lessons – I miss my teacher back in San Diego!

First snow of the season – one week ago today!  In spite of my greatly preferring warm weather, it was actually kind of nice – big, wet flakes.  Still doesn’t feel like Christmas, though – partly because I’m not rehearsing Christmas music for the first year in a long time 😉

Read the entire Hunger Games trilogy in about 4 days… (maybe that’s really why I haven’t been blogging – I pretty much rehearsed, read, and occasionally slept those days).  Great series, though!  I’m a little embarrassed to say that I also went to Breaking Dawn part 1 and liked it… cheese and all 😉

Spiritual/Personal Growth
Feeling motivated to be more giving in general and to set goals, so I’ve spent some time recently thinking about what I want for this contract, and life in general.  Who I want to be, what I’d like to achieve – and working on setting some short and long term goals.  Recent services from our San Diego church that I’ve listened to online and our cast Bible study here have reinforced that feeling, so a lot of us have been trying to help our community in small ways – like giving a yogurt to the homeless guy in front of Starbucks on the way to rehearsal.  Just trying to be the best person we can be in general.

One of the projects I’m motivated to do right now is organize music for a retirement home here.  I love doing that – and since I’m surrounded by such talented, like-minded people, I think this will be the perfect way to share our gifts and spread some holiday cheer.  A friend and I visited 2 places this past weekend and are working on organizing it 🙂

A few days last week were tough for me – combination of rehearsals and outside things, like severing those last ties to San Diego – it’s still hard to say goodbye to our home there.  Fortunately the funk has passed, but I’m sharing it because I think it’s important to remember that even when you get your dream, there are still rough times that you’ll have to work through.  For me, it was feeling dull and unimportant – not getting a chance to shine/be praised when other people did.  Sounds silly and selfish, especially if you’re not a performer, but I think it happens to all of us…  Since we’re not rehearsing my solo parts yet, I felt like I wasn’t contributing (and of course, began to feel like maybe they don’t think I’m any good…), but was constantly trying my hardest to do things that I’m not very good at – or that no one saw (understudying scenes).  Long choreography rehearsals for the numbers I’m understudying made me feel overwhelmed and discouraged, which is funny, because I’m actually getting it pretty well – much better than I would have if I hadn’t taken dance all summer/fall.  And the people here are so helpful and positive, and believe I can do it – I just need to believe I can, too!  It’s always stressful for me when I don’t excel at something (thus, my antipathy to sports) – especially if I’m still not great no matter how hard I work – or when it takes me a long time to grasp something that other people are just somehow able to do! 😉  Even if it took them years of training to master it.  I’m not sure what the solution is, but rational thinking and my usual positive outlook on things have returned, and this week is off to a very good start, choreography and all 🙂

Switching gears… in case you’re still reading – and interested – here are some of my first impressions of Toronto that I’m finally getting around to posting:

I’ve never seen so many coffee shops!  In our area, there’s at least one on every corner, often more than one.  Some places even have multiple Starbucks on the same block!  Pleased to report that Tim Horton’s are almost as frequent… and consequently, I’ve had more doughnuts since I’ve been here than I have in probably the last 5 years combined… but at least I’m dancing a lot!

Where are all the dogs?

It’s so expensive!  Average price for cereal: $6.59.  Lots of fun, unusual stores here, but…

People here are very fit – it’s refreshing coming from the US!  Maybe it’s because the food is so expensive? 😉

Rehearsals and Holidays

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Saturday, 19 November
Understudying is hard work!
Company meeting, brunch with friends at Cora’s (a local favorite, for obvious reasons!) and back to work!  Today’s rehearsals were cool, but most of it was for the roles I’m understudying – hard work since you don’t get many opportunities to practice with the other scene members, in the rehearsal space, with props, while the director’s there…  It’s especially tricky u/s’ing 2 people in the same number…  Practice, practice, practice…

Sunday, 20 November
It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas!
Toronto’s Christmas season officially began with today’s Santa Claus Parade!  I decided to watch it on tv from the comfort of my room…  After some rehearsing, a friend and I (and quite possibly the entire population of Toronto) headed to Eaton Centre for some shopping.  I’ve never seen a mall so packed!  It was fun (and productive) in spite of the crowd, and a scrumptious dinner at Milestone’s was a nice finish to the day 🙂

Whee!

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Friday, 18 November

Up where the air is clear
Morning scene work, then in the afternoon I had my first chance to fly!  A few of us trekked to the Toronto School of Circus Arts on the outskirts of Toronto where we had our first training session.  It was pretty cool – just sit back and enjoy the ride!  The harness is pretty substantial and has to fit quite snugly, so that’ll take a little getting used to, but otherwise my part is easy – just pose and let the operators bring me in 🙂  It’ll be so exciting once I’m in costume and on the ship – apparently I’ll be coming in at twice the height we did in the studio!

That night, a friend and I went to the touring production of Mary Poppins, which happens to be in Toronto right now… seemed only fitting 😉  It was a great show and very well done – but the Julie Andrews movie will always be my favorite version of the story…

It all started with a mouse…

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Saturday, 5 November

Rehearsal Day 1
Our first day was really fun!  First time meeting everyone, general information, facility tours, then on to assessments (basically, they evaluate us together as a cast based on skill, height, look, and sound to determine final roles, which we will find out at some later time… talk about anticipation!).  We started with dance, which normally would’ve intimidated me, but I actually enjoyed it, probably because I had the security of knowing I was already cast 😉 Later in the day we had a height evaluation (I was surprised to tie with one other girl as tallest girls in our cast), and then an acrobatic assessment!  We were taught some basics of Spanish web then each climbed up and down once, then progressed to climbing, securing ourselves in the safety loop, posing, and spinning.  I was pleasantly pleased to find that not only was I able to do it, I really enjoyed it!  We rounded out the day with some going over some music for the vocal assessments to come.  Errands with friends made a nice finish to the day 🙂

Sunday and Monday
Weekend!
Since our Dream 3 cast of 44 (singer/actors, dancers, and character performers) is rehearsing alongside the Fantasy 1’s cast of 44, we’re switching to 5 day work-weeks, instead of the usual 6.  Our days will be longer, but it should be nice to get 2 days off.  This weekend brought rest, unpacking, skyping, practicing, walking tours of the city, and getting to know people better 🙂

Living the Dream…

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Friday, 4 November

Leaving on a jet plane…
Overwhelming excitement, some nerves, sadness at saying goodbye to my husband, our kitties, and our comfortable life in a city we love… and general sleepiness – that’s what I felt as I left San Diego to come to Toronto for rehearsals for the Disney Dream cruise ship.

Pre-dawn at the San Diego airport is a busy time with long lines.  After dropping off my 2 gigantic bags and schlepping the rest of my stuff through security, I finally made it to my gate – feeling quite disheveled, as I always do when I haven’t gotten much sleep and am wearing my glasses.  Amidst gate checking my small carryon, I was relieved to meet a fellow cast mate!  In Minneapolis we connected with 3 other new friends and set off on our adventure.  We were welcomed to Canada by possibly the grumpiest customs official I’ve ever encountered (our Disney smiles did not help), retrieved our bags, and were eventually whisked away by a stereotypical taxi driver who brought us to our new home in Toronto’s Theatre District.  After hurriedly depositing my luggage and attempting to improve my appearance a bit with the addition of lipgloss and a thorough hair-brushing, I headed to our contract signing meeting.  Woohoo!