Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

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TidBits About Donna #62 No Business Like Show Business

“There’s No Business Like Show Business” is a song written for the musical,Annie Get Your Gun th Annie Get Your Gun, which was a Broadway hit in 1946. The song depicts the glamour and excitement of performing on Broadway or in any theatrical production. And if a performance is done well, the audience will see only the glitz and magic under the bright lights. That is the job, the hard work, of the performer as she sweats through hours and tedium of read-throughs and rehearsals. Committing her lines to memory – spouting them upon waking and whispering them before drifting off to sleep at night, saying them in the shower and mouthing them while driving down the road – hoping the driver next to her at the stop light will not think she is crazy – talking to herself. That is what is required of an actor. She must morph into her character trying on different faces and voices – finding new ways to stand and move – becoming someone she is not – but who she will be when the curtain parts – when all eyes fall on her – when the magic begins.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of this excitement in the few shows that I have been involved in. See TidBits About Donna #44 Taking Center Stage to see some of them. I know the hard work and the excitement that goes into preparing a show in my local community theatre, The Nutley Little Theatre. nutley little theatre imagethI have worked the box office, have greeted guests as house manager, and have worked on set construction. I’ve been mentored by three of the theatre’s great directors. I adapted a children’s picture book, which I wrote, to a stage play and directed it under the guidance of my mentoring directors. I have acted in several Reader’s Theatre productions (Fleece, Bench, A Twisted Yuletide Gathering, All the City Lights, and A Sordid Holiday Reunion) and in two full-length plays, (Sordid Lives and A Bad Year for Tomatoes.) My next project will be as assistant stage manager for Glengarry Glen Ross. I love everything about the theater.

I love to be in the audience for shows too. Seeing a show on Broadway is the ultimate in theatrical production and I am fortunate to live close to New York City allowing me the opportunity to see a number of Broadway and Off Broadway shows. Recently I saw Emotional Creature thEmotional Creature and Cougar the Musical.Cougar the Musical Both of these Off Broadway productions were amazing. The energy was palpable. I watched these shows with new awareness. I wondered what the actors were doing when they were not on stage, if they worried about messing up a line, if they had to rush to do a change. I was in awe as tears flowed down one actor’s face. How does she do it? How does she make herself cry day after day? How does she make herself feel? Talent is the simple answer. Dedication and love quickly follow.

As an audience member, I have experienced the span of emotions, fear, happiness, anger, sadness, sympathy, and surprise. I have laughed. I have cried.

The shows that most affected me were Les Miserable 200px-LesMisLogoLes Misérables and Phantom of the Opera, which I saw numerous times. Les Misérables (5) Phantom of the The Phantom of the Opera 3.9529Opera (2). They were the shows we took house guests to see.

Fiddler on the Roof, Grapes of Wrath, and The Year of Magical Thinking were the most touching. The music is amazing Fiddler on the Roof 215px-Fiddler_on_the_roof_posterin Fiddler. And truthfully, I know every song. I have read nearly everything John Steinbeck, author of The Grapes of Wrath, has written. The Grapes of Wrath 145px-GrapesPosterHe  seeks the truth in his characters. The Year of The Year of Magical ThinkingMagical Thinking was  profound. Vanessa Redgrave, in this one woman show, beautifully portrayed Joan Didion’s account of her husband’s and her life when he died.

Mamma Mia! will have you dancing in your seats. I know I was.Mamma Mia! 11.63789 Chicago is steamy. Its music and choreography are the bestThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee images. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is pure fun.Chicago 2.133323

Nunsense II sent me back in time to the classroom door of my elementary school in Erie, Pennsylvania. A Funny Think Happened on the Way to the Forum 240px-A-Funny-Thing-Happened-on-the-Way-to-the-ForumBy the sounds of the laughter Nunsense II 51HlZNUovlL._SL500_AA300_and the groans of the audience, I wasn’t the only one transported back to preteen years. Whoopi Goldberg was hilarious in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

West Side Story2.135139West Side Story is a favorite from childhood. I loved Annie. Who wouldn’t? A Chorus Line,A Chorus Line 215px-ChorusLine Cabaret, Cabaret tumblr_m7kzsqFeKk1r06nimo1_400Rent, and Dreamgirls – the staples of BroadwaDreamgirls 98872y.

Rent 4.151819I first saw I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at Farleigh I Love you, Your'e Perfect, Now Change 215px-I_Love_You,_You're_Perfect,_Now_Change_1996_OoBCRDickinson University in New Jersey. I knew it would be a hit and wasn’t  surprised to see it find its way to a theater Off Broadway. I saw Miss Saigon imagesMiss Saigon both on Broadway and in the Warner Theater in Erie, Pennsylvania. Surprisingly, it was in Erie that I fell in love with it.

The house lights are up, show music fills the air, the audience streams through the doors and stumbles to their seats, cell phones are turned off, excitement builds. Backstage the actors dab a last bit of makeup and fluff their hair, quickly run-though  lines to quell the butterflies, and then …

Then the curtain rises …

It’s Show Time!


December 3, 2012 - Posted by | TidBits About Donna | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Yes, stage plays are magical & many times profound. The actors do transport the audience into their world for a while. Then, we can all wonder what would happen next if he/she was a real person, and how his life would further unfold. I think my favorite play was “A Moon for the Misforgotten” w/Jason Robards & his wife, Colleen Dewhurst. I saw Ben Gazzara in a play long ago too. I think it was “Long Day’s Journey into Night”. Also long ago, I took my niece to see “Oklahoma!”. The score is so wonderful; every song seemed memorable. Productions of “The Pirates of Penzance” always fill me w/happiness. My only acting part was in High School as one of the King’s wives in “The King & I”. What a great experience! It made me proud of myself. Who knows? Maybe someday I could be in a play again, but I doubt it — so many other interests.

    Comment by Kathy S | December 9, 2012 | Reply

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