The passing of Robin Williams; shocking and so awfully sad…flashback to the early 70’s at The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA) where I worked summers while an undergrad at Loyola University back in Chicago. Robin was fun, funny, very friendly and quickly had everyone talking about his mad skills in The Caucasian Chalk Circle that summer. I remember how bold his improvisational style was even then. Robin held the audience in the palm of his hand, breaking all the rules, being more alive, more spontaneous than any of us had ever seen. Offstage, he was always upbeat, smiling and laughing, always warm and great to be around. We had a reunion of sorts in Manhattan while I was on Broadway in Leonard Bernstein’s CANDIDE. I had a floor-through apartment at the top of a brownstone on 21st St. between 9th and 10th, and he came up after the show one night with a few friends. It was a cold night, and I got a fire going in the fireplace. Robin showed a side he had never shared with me before. He was frustrated and leaving Julliard, feeling he just wasn’t fitting in and being torn apart in class. He wasn’t developing the way he wanted to in his work. He was returning to California. He was serious and troubled, a little scared, but I’ll never forget the look in his eyes, so determined. His strong belief in himself that he had to do things his own way was so moving, so inspiring. The next thing I heard, he was playing to raves as “Fagin” in OLIVER and then this TV show “Mork & Mindy” happened.
Over the weekend, I sat in on the Aurora Public Library Talent Show, and what a great group again this year! These teenagers have it so much more together than I ever could back in high school. At rehearsal, we talked about being yourself, personalizing your work to make it your own. We spoke about reaching the audience, the purposefulness of why you choose a song and what it is you want to say. How to focus and consider stillness and directness. The importance of your eyes meeting the eyes of those you are singing to and singing for. How to use the words to say something about yourself that has to be heard. They all showed wonderful, raw talent, very sweet young people, young artists, and most of them soft spoken and shy. Being confident in who you are and why you are here took emphasis. I found myself saying that to be confident you don’t have to feel you are a show off or self important…but that it is what you have to say and express that is important! Believe in that! Reach us with that! Come to think of it this morning, it’s how Robin Williams distinguished himself. He believed in what he was doing and that he had his own way of doing it. That it was important to reach people, to have them laugh!
Yesterday, we toured the Paramount Scene Shop and were dwarfed by the ginormous sets of CATS! And then on to the Costume Shop to see the stunning “cat suits” readied for fittings. Good Lord, summer is over and rehearsals begin this week for the opening of Season Four of our Broadway Series!
Casting offers are going out, returns are coming in. More auditions for the children in TOMMY and LES MISERABLES coming up as well. Properties Mistress Sarah Ross is back on the job and Production Stage Manager Rose Packer is back as well. Another sign of the end of summer as we prepare for the fall schedule!
Now click here to check out the SEASON KICK OFF PARTY! It’s a week from Friday on Aug. 22nd, and you do not want to miss this!
Running to a Mary Poppins Set meeting this morning…which is looking spectacular!
Love & thanks,