10 Things I learned from my HFF17 Experience (The Hollywood Fringe Festival)

21 Jun

The Unknown Artists and Ruckus Rockwell produced the show “13th Grade” at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this year.
2 shows Left: 6/23 @ 7:30pm & 6/24 @ 7pm
OMR theatre at The Complex on Santa Monica Blvd.

Poster design by: Katrina Rennells who also plays “MARGOT” in the show

I wrote a lot, I laughed a lot and I learned a lot. Here are 10 Things I Learned:

  • Make Sure You Have the Money you Need to Produce the Show you Want. We made only half of our Indiegogo hopeful campaign goal. This made producing the show extremely difficult. Waiting on the funds and the ticket sales to even things out was stressful. When you’ve got a great script and music and amazing actors, the last thing you want to do is stress about money being the reason why you can’t put up the show you want. A lot of the “Things I didn’t like” reviews had to do with space/sound issues. Had we had the money we needed up front,  we could have delivered a better product. And I never want money to be the reason why we don’t do an awesome musical comedy.
  • Make Sure Your show is Actually 10 Minutes Less than the Time you Quote. Our show ran 58 minutes most nights for an 1hr long allotted time. It was a nail biter. Definitely writing an hour and 15 minute musical next year and saying it’s 90 minutes.
  • Find Reviewers Ahead of Time. We had about 2-3 people come and review our piece. Would be nice to arrange having more of them there that first weekend so we can use those reviews as buzz for the remaining shows. We are so thankful to our Fringe audience reviewers!

  • See More Shows. 375 shows this year and I got infected with, what we lovingly referred to as “The 13th Plague”. This hindered my schedule quite a bit and there were so many more shows I wanted to see. It was a big bummer. I want to hit previews hard and start making recommendations ASAP so people can plan ahead. I’d also love to start something where shows send me a clip of their rehearsal and I can make a MUST SEE blog early for people to plan ahead.
  • Advertising. This is where the majority of your budget should go. There are SO many shows. It’s hard to get a voice. Especially if you’re a newbie. Being that this was my first fringe, I noticed that there were a ton of shows with built in audiences and buzz from previous years. So they were sold out before they even opened! haha. Swag will be a good idea for next year too. Everyone’s got a postcard. You must be clever.
  • Events. We did the Cabaret, Opening Night party, a couple nights at Fringe Central and will be doing Prom this year. I think it’s important to do as many Fringe events as possible to meet new people and make friends. You want these people at your shows and they’re most likely going to come to their friend’s show than a strangers. BE MY FRIEND.
  • Social Media. It’s a lot of work but it’s so necessary. Posting about your show, your audience reviews, things to get people to stop and look at your page are important. If you can get GOOD quality photos or little video teases of your rehearsals… it’s key. It’s a way to stand out. If the audience can’t come see your show yet, at least they can see its potential.
  • Cross Promoting. We DEFINITELY could have been better about that this year but we weren’t terrible. Find a show with a great reputation, with a theme you believe in and a piece that you know is gonna be good. Team up with their team and cross promote.  Social media posts, program ads, flyers and swag to pass out with your postcards.
  • Have a Good Time. This is why I strongly encourage comedies at something like Fringe. If your piece is a crowd pleaser then you know that they’re having a good time. They’re laughing. They’re applauding. If you’re on stage having a blast, they’ll sense that and join you. We had INCREDIBLE audiences and we couldn’t thank them enough for the energy and positive attitude they brought to 13th Grade.

  • Effort. All of the above takes effort. You have to have a team that is willing to go above and beyond for your show when it comes to Fringe. Decide carefully whom you surround yourself with when participating in fringe. It’s not just a run-of-the-mill show. It’s an experience and it should be.


Shows I recommend: Shakeslesque, Herpes a Love Story, Buffy Killed Edward, Ladies in Waiting, Nick and Brooke’s Comedy Special, So you Want to be a Vampire, Spidey Project. There would be so many more had I not got infected with the plague.


My Bad…

26 Oct

We all judge. We judge books by their cover, people by the rumors we hear and we judge the happiness of others. We actually judge other people’s happiness. Is it jealousy? Is it insecurity? A combination of both? Or are we generally built with a lack of faith. Faith in the truth. Faith in the good of others, in the genuine. When things aren’t going our way, how do we view the successes of others? It’s important to remember that we are human and we have flaws. Any starving actor can’t stand in front of me and say, with 100% honesty: “I am so happy that you booked that Oliver Stone movie.” A couple struggling to conceive a child of their own can’t look at their pregnant friend and feel pure, unadulterated joy. And a single woman, with a string of highly disappointing romantic encounters over the last decade, can’t look at couple displaying PDA with out a slight glare.

“It’s very weird now not feeling that stupid panic feeling inside me all the time.
Without that, I just start thinking about myself, and what good does that ever get anybody?
Today, on the bus, there was this adorable couple, and I felt myself giving them a dirty look.
I just had no idea everything was .
.. moving in the wrong direction.

This quote is from the movie AS GOOD AS IT GETS. It’s not just the quote that secured the Oscar win for Helen Hunt, but it speaks so true to those of us out there who want to be the kind of person who looks at happiness and is filled with reflective happiness.  Not someone who takes all of what I call “personal unlucky history” and uses it to battle feelings of untainted love and support for others.

Today I am happy. Yesterday I was not happy. Today I’ve learned that tomorrow I may be unhappy again and I shouldn’t take that out on anyone.  We design a… design in our minds about how things should go to ensure the utmost success. For us? For others? Who’s to say what the right speed is for everyone? The right choice? The right plan? I’ve watched relationships crumble all around me and I’ve watched the exceptions. So why do I hold on to those negatives and use it to define my caution?


“We’re taught that in life, we should try to look on the bright side, to be optimistic.
Not in this case. In this case, look on the dark side. Assume rejection first. Assume you’re the rule, not the exception.”

This quote is from the movie HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. This movie may or may not have ruined my life for the last 7 years. This is NOT a great movie, however there are a small handful of quotes and scenarios that I chose to live my life by after I saw this film in 2009. Love is chaotic. It’s all fucking over the place. When you’re in and out of love and trust, you feel unhinged and this film provided me with guidelines at a time when I was starving for answers. I grabbed the “Message” of this film (Which is still un clear to this day) and I decided to apply it to how I approach and analyze my love life.

Years ago, a friend of mine started fooling around with her boss. They had a secret relationship for a while for personal and professional reasons and it had “disaster” written all over it. They broke up a bunch of times, she was heartbroken a bunch of times and kept on fighting for him and what they had only to give up several times out of exhaustion and a fierce sense of defeat. Last week, they were married. They are happy and healthy and #winning.

This story is the exception to the rule. I was told that the rule is: Don’t set yourself up to fail by wishing upon yourself the success of the diamonds in the rough. That story above? That’s a diamond in the rough. If you think that this could happen to you, you’re just going to be immensely disappointed. If you prepare yourself for failure, the fall won’t hurt as bad.

I spent 7 years reminding myself that I am NOT the exception in order to prepare myself for the inevitable idea that, sometimes people just don’t meet their person. Sometimes they are alone. And that’s okay. That has to be okay or your heart won’t survive your life. (Now looking back at it, it’s like I refused to process the message of this film’s ending. Whatever. working through the meaning of this shitty movie is not the point of this blog.) It made me bitter. It made me distrust any potential. It made me celebrate red flags as an excuse for an exit and it confirmed negative thoughts I consistently had about my romantic life. I wouldn’t take chances or risks because I was comfortable with the notion that I was the rule. It wasn’t going to be some great plot to the romantic comedy of my dreams. With disappointment after disappointment, how could you possibly think anything else.

Then you meet someone 7 years later at a point where you’re so fucking exhausted of being you. Of the negativity you release into the universe at each moment of being interested in another human being and then with out any reasoning behind it… you throw caution to the wind. You see the red flags and you hear about them from others, you could never erase the doubt that forms 76% of who you are, yet you say “Alright. Fuck it. I’m all in.” Because there’s this voice inside of your head and heart that’s saying something positive in a time of darkness and you just can’t ignore it. it gives you breath. It gives you life. Chaos. Love is chaotic.  But it exists. As does hope. And as long as you’re someone who believes in both those things, just in general… you’ll never truly be able to run away from it. And that’s what makes you the exception to your rule.

So… my bad to all those I judged. I am you. We all are you.

STRANGER THINGS have been said…

28 Jul
Goonies meets Poltergeist meets Mazes and Monsters meets E.T. with a little bit of Heathers splashed in.
It was so close to being as if someone found a missing 1980’s Amblin film and decided to break it down into 8 parts and release it within this modern phenomenon known as “Netflix Streaming”.
It’s refreshing when you can find the time to watch a Netflix show. But then you’re immediately hit with the stress of “which Netflix Show??” Some of us have not been (hashtag)blessed with the luxury of having the time to watch these awesome shows when they come out. I missed the new season of OITNB, Still haven’t seen Kimmy Schmidt’s new season but have received several txt messages and Facebook posts about a certain Dawson’s Creek reference that I’ll go crazy over. And now that the hype of these two shows has died down, I find myself with a little time to take on new television awesomeness. In recent entertainment news, the show that has everyone all a buzz is a show called Stranger Things.
Stranger Things is said to be the story of a boy who goes missing and the people in a small town who go looking for him. But it’s so much more than that. It completely, perfectly and successfully captures the 80’s genre of fantasy drama without going overboard, without getting cheesy and most importantly… without making fun of it. I couldn’t put the show down! It obviously mastered nostalgia and it reminded us of the simpler things in horror/sci-fi. It took what we knew and embraced back in the day and made us jump again in 2016.
You can’t ignore how well this show is cast. David Harbour, whom I always enjoy watching (And who surprisingly has only been in the business since 2003) and Matthew Modine, appropriately playing a creepy fuck to the break out young stars of this TV/Film (praised below).
The teenage plot lines on Stranger Things are crafted flawlessly. Barb… sweet, plump, unknowing Barb 😦 . I fucking loved Barb. SOMEONE CARE ABOUT BARB! Actors: Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton and Joe Keery do such a great job playing their roles in this series. Not just the performance of their characters but the tone they are responsible for setting within the piece is so, so important. These three nail it.
Before I get into my incompatible feelings regarding A.) the joy I feel having Winona back in our lives mixed with B.) her “acting” “choices”.., I need to highlight some performances that are not so conflicting…
Every single child on this show.
They were connected, they weren’t stale, I believed everything they said and did. The kids on this show are on another level and need to be acknowledged…. BY PAMELA EBERHARDT. I try to think of a favorite of the main four and I can’t. Gaten, Caleb and Millie are all so damn good. Maybe Finn is the weaker of the four, but not noticeably enough. Such a strong group of little performers. There were times my jaw dropped by how good they are. Okay, El. El is my favorite.
Those Eggo’s are for Eleven, right? RIGHT?!?!? They better be!! 😦 😦 😦
Eleven’s supposed death had tears come out of my face. It’s not fair, papa. It is NOT fair!!!! A part of me was kind of hoping Eleven was a Clone of Hop’s daughter. Cause he hadn’t laid eyes on her for most of the series and I thought maybe that’s what they were doing over there at Hawkins?? But…. I was…. you know, wrong. “Not everything can be about cloning, pam” – a friend.
Okay. Winona Ryder. How do I put this exactly the way that I want… You know when you’re watching Katie Holmes in something… the moment she opens her mouth you shake your lowered head. I kind of feel the same way about Winona Ryder as an actress. She looks so good and it was so great to see her again, but then the moment she has dialogue that she has to pair with emotion…. my head cocked to the side, my eyes squinted and I tried. I tried so hard. cause I’m rooting for her, man. So much screaming. She tried to make EVERY moment she was going through so pivotal that I stopped caring.
“I think the Prince at the end of the Little Mermaid should have asked more questions about what had just happened.” – me or Melania Trump.
FACT: There’s an Upside world that the boy is missing in. He can communicate to us through lights. There’s a monster in there that hunts alone. it’s drawn to blood like sharks.
CHARACTER RESPONSE: That perfectly explains everything let’s go there now.
Overall, I really loved it. It was fun to watch and i can’t wait for more though I’m definitely hoping the Duffer Brother’s ELOQUENTLY explain more things regarding this “parallel universe” in the second season.

Maybe best quote of the series:

“We have to trust them. They’re the Government. They’re on our side”

What a timely lie.


6 Jan

I interrupt my “Every Tom Hanks movie Ever” challenge to bring you my review of the 2014 adaptation of INTO THE WOODS.


This will not be an insanely long review commenting on how Into the Woods effected my childhood and how much it means to see a well done film version of a show I hold so close to my heart. Anyone in musical theatre (most) have a special place in their heart for this show. I am not closer to this show than anyone else. I do not think that my insights on Woods should be taken into more consideration than others. I am not the world’s #1 authority on musical theatre film adaptations. I am merely in the top 50.

I want to start off by saying that it was a wonderful version. Anything “negative” that I may say, is all nitpicky because… the truth is…  they got it right.
I would also like to start off by saying that I saw this film at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin Texas and you get to drink there. A bottle of wine. You get to drink a bottle of wine while you sit before a score put to screen that represents such a large part of your childhood. Emotions.
One last thing… I saw the movie with my older sister (who played the baker’s Wife at 17 – but we’ve all played the Bakers wife at 17, haven’t we) and it was emotional just seeing it with her. Musical theatre, as with most of the people I surround myself with, shaped so much of our upbringing. Sondheim in particular with a light shining on Woods.

I wish….

I wish they had done the reprise of AGONY.

I wish they had nailed more of the jokes within the text/Line deliveries.

I wish they had just cut the Baker’s Dad part rather than doing what they did.

I wish that their voices didn’t often sound so… strategic? polished, on point – I wanted more… human error? personality? flaw for character?

I wish a lot of things…

I’m a BIG advocate of actors who sing. Not the other way around. So much of today’s new musical theatre is comprised of people with AMAZING voices (and some nasal musical theatre bullshit voices) and I miss that gritty – I’m singing a song with my soul – voice that is found in so many original cast recordings from   the 70’s and 80’s.

Let’s be honest, those of us who  know the show like the back of our hands will always and forever compare it to the original>< the Bernadette/Gleason triumph. So… let’s do just that.


We’ve got some points for both columns here. Meryl did something which only Meryl Streep could do. Bernadette is in our heads as the witch. Her voice, her delivery, her aura. That being said, Meryl made the witch her own and after the prologue I stopped hearing Bernadette’s voice. Joanna Gleason’s comedic timing was so subtly brilliant that it just couldn’t be matched by Blunt. Emily was solid and gave a fine performance. But that’s… that’s it. Let’s everybody calm down. Anna Kendrick….. again, another fine performance. Solid. I think what is so often missed about Cinderella is how freaking funny she can be. Kim Crosby in the original came close and Laura Benanti(in the version where we’re only allowed to talk about her) was great as well. I feel that Kendrick in general is kind of underwhelming. Her voice is great, but it’s not mind-blowing. Let’s everybody calm down about that as well. I actually really liked James Cordon. Zien had a stronger voice, but always looked like he was going to crack up. it was like getting to see what Jimmy Fallon would have been like as The Baker. Johnny Depp… everyone was hatin’ on Johnny Depp. I actually thought he was great! I liked the sleazy salesman approach and I think we’re just all too quick to hate him these days. Let’s give the guy a break. Tracy Ullman – She was great. My heart goes out to the original Jack’s Mom, but Ullman was the perfect choice for this. I recently saw her in The Band Wagon with Michael McKean and wasn’t impressed. She was better in this. Jack – I LOVED the film Jack. I LOVED the original Jack. I liked that he was bigger and was scared of Little Red at times in the stage version, but I thought this kid was great. (P.S. Giants in the Sky was the first time water came out of my face. I’d like to say the “only time”, but that would be a lie.) Little Red. Nobody will be better than Danielle Ferland in this role. They just won’t be. Lilla Crawford was fine. My new dream role is Rapunzel because it is the most thankless, unforgettable role and it shouldn’t be. I have yet to see a Rap. where I’m truly moved. Rapunzel’s prince was fine. Who am I missing?? Whom am I… oh yes. CHRIS PINE. Chris, Chris, Chris Pine. Stole the film – Hence the title of this blog.



It was beautiful to watch. It was everything, visually, I wanted it to be. Was thrilled to see Jack go up the beanstalk. Was elated to see parts of the Giant (still not he whole giant which they could have really “Cloverfielded” themselves had they shown too much of her. And I was overjoyed at the splashy version of Agony.The film wins that point. HOWEVER, a lot of jokes were missed. A lot of line deliveries were sacrificed so that they weren’t “copying” the original. I understand that a lot of the jokes (i.e. dress dropping from the tree in a sloppy/comedic way, a cardboard or human Milky White) is humor that is truly pertinent to the stage version, however… I do think that they could have held true to a bit of what made the timing of the original so… perfect. It felt like Marshall was being very… careful. Which, at the end of the day, could have paid off more than sense of familiarity we all secretly/out loud wanted.  Cinematography was A+.

Overall – I give it an A-. Not since Chicago, I don’t think, has there been a film adaptation that really did the staged version of a favorite musical justice. Sweeney Todd was a travesty, Hairspray – for the most part – was rough, Mama Mia – yikes. Now on to The Last Five Years… which… is gonna be tough. mostly because I am the #1 expert on Musical theatre film adaptation and I have a connection to The Last Five Years that no one else has. 😉




2 Dec

The Terminal (2004) – Viktor Navorski

Synopsis – An eastern immigrant finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there.
Tom Hanks – The lovable immigrant.
Co-stars – Catherine Zeta Jones & Stanley Tucci.
Best Parts – I love Stanley Tucci. I really do., there’s so many elements of Hanks movies in this film – Castaway (obvious reasons) Perdition (tucci) League of their own (Marla’s dad cameos) Big (Scary place becomes familiar – like the hotel), Splash (Like Madison, he learns some English from being surrounded by stores) Money Pit (He’s broke) Man with One Red Shoe (Airport) That Thing You Do (Playin’ a match maker) Sleepless in Seattle (He… has… a hard time sleeping?) Catch Me If You Can (Music, Spielberg)., when Hanks makes the joke with Tucci about obviously wanting to go to NY that night, the medicine is for the goat scene :), the dinner date scene is great too.
Worst Parts –
 Zeta Jones (not her fault) – the whole subplot on them is so unnecessary, their explanation to him about being unacceptable in the beginning is annoying cause there doesn’t seem to be a plan, I think an international airport should have a translator for ALL COUNTRIES ON HAND, the whole plot of the movie is a bit soft – but we’re not really watching the “plot” of this movie – when that shows up we’re like “oh yeah…”. Viktor really shouldn’t have thrown away that beeper, the ring and wedding for Zoe… come on! Also, if he were “going home” to JFK from 161 Lexington, he wouldn’t have gone through Times Square, he would have gotten on 495 from E. 36th street.
Best Hanks Acting – instills the heartbreak and helplessness we feel not being able to assist someone who can’t speak our language or understand what’s going on. You want to hug him and tell him that everything’s going to be okay. Hanks, a model American in the eyes of many, has us captivated as Viktor interacts with those around him and we hope he’ll understand, that he’ll connect, that he’ll be understood.
Best Line(s) – “Who the hell waits in a crack?”, “She’s a nice girl… she won’t take your chitting.” “Ever feel like you’re living in an airport?” “Oh God, Viktor. Please don’t tell me your father is in that peanut can.”

Overall – This movie gets a lot of shit but its most engaging moments aren’t where you think they’ve failed, it’s in what we take for granted. The stress and anxieties of turning fear into optimism. It’s as silly as it is touching. And it’s pretty damn silly.  (74 = C)

EXCEPTIONAL – (A+) 95 – 100
EXCELLENT – (A) 90-94
GOOD – (B) 80 – 89
AVERAGE – (C) 70-79
NOT A FAVORITE – (D) 60 – 69

To see original post and list of his films (hyperlinked if reviewed) CLICK HERE.


1 Dec

CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007) – Charlie Wilson

Synopsis – A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson’s covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.
Tom Hanks – The coke-friendly Texas congressman.
Co-stars – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts and  Amy Adams.
Best Parts – Aaron Sorkin, Mike Nichols, Philip Seymour Hoffman, the scene where Hoffman has hid the bug in the ribbon of the scotch bottle, the quote at the end of the movie.
Worst Parts –
 Waste of Emily Blunt – though she was fairly new to the scene – she should have had Shiri Appleby’s role at least, some of the Sorkin mumbo-jumbo starts to feel like you’re listening to another language – subtitles please for those who don’t work in the white house,
Best Hanks Acting – The New York Times put it best when they said “here he has the devilish smile of a middle-aged playboy who has woken up in a long-lost guilt-free sequel to “Bachelor Party”.
Best Line(s) – “It was like being slapped around by a Pakistani vaudeville team”, “Well, my name is Gust with a “T”, but I don’t care.”

Overall – While political dramas aren’t always my favorite, I appreciate that this film entertains as well as informs. I’m all for people using their flaws to serve a greater, noble cause.   (84 = B)

EXCEPTIONAL – (A+) 95 – 100
EXCELLENT – (A) 90-94
GOOD – (B) 80 – 89
AVERAGE – (C) 70-79
NOT A FAVORITE – (D) 60 – 69

To see original post and list of his films (hyperlinked if reviewed) CLICK HERE.


29 Nov

YOUVE GOT MAIL (1998) – Joe Fox

Synopsis – Two business rivals hate each other at the office but fall in love over the internet.
Tom Hanks – One of the business owners. The male one.
Co-stars – Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey, Jean Stapleton, Steve Zahn, Heather Burns, Dabney Coleman and, for pure ethnic diversity,…. Dave Chappelle
Best Parts – Parker Posey, Hanks reuniting with Dabney Coleman, Greg Kinnear’s love of typewriters is a great parallel to Hanks’s real life love of type writers, Nanny Maureen’s one line, any time we get to see Hanks juggle it’s a good day, The little girl singing Annie (it’s a best and worst part), Meg Ryan’s face (only because it goes pretty downhill after this one), Chris Massina’s cameo, when Parker Posey falls asleep as quickly as Homer Simpson, Jane Adams, when Hanks deletes his excuse for not meeting up with her, the elevator scene (It combines someone from Guffman & Strangers with Candy – two of my favorites) It’s just missing an actor from The Creek, Meg’s reaction to Tom  having gotten her the daisies, when Meg and Tom start to become friends.
Worst Parts –
Everything Before the scene where Hanks brings her Daisy’s is kind of obnoxious, every scene with Jane Stapleton (Not Jane’s fault), a complete waste of Steve Zahn, Dave Chappelle,  the creepy scene where we see the ghost of her mom (some call it a memory) –  twirling in the abandoned bookstore, that little kid is old enough to be able to spell more than “FOX”, in the last scene she leaves her apartment with no key… no purse… nothing… no pockets – what if the guy want so to go get a coffee? She just ASSUMES he’s gonna pay?, that they seem to type 125 words per minute, the break up scene between Greg & Meg.
Best Hanks Acting – in the scene where he’s instant messaging her, when he tucks her in, puts his finger on his lips and begins to change her mind about him.
Best Line(s) – “Thank yer, ladies and gentlemen.” “I have a very thirsty date. She’s part camel.”, “ All this ‘nothing’ has meant more to me than so many… ‘somethings’.” “A hotdog is singing, you need quiet while a hot dog is singing?!” “152 people who thinks he looks like a Clark Bar”

Overall -This is one of my favorite romantic comedies in general. I love everything from the moment he brings over the daisies when she’s sick to the moment he comes around the Riverside garden with Brinkley. The film is charming and adork-able, the perfect mix of Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly.   (91 = A)

EXCEPTIONAL – (A+) 95 – 100
EXCELLENT – (A) 90-94
GOOD – (B) 80 – 89
AVERAGE – (C) 70-79
NOT A FAVORITE – (D) 60 – 69

To see original post and list of his films (hyperlinked if reviewed) CLICK HERE.