Saturday, December 29, 2012


What do Charlie Wilson, Jerry Weintraub and Abraham Lincoln have in common....other than the fact that I have been listening to or reading about them this weekend?  

Relentlessness.  They all have a relentless nature.  Whether you agree or not with their "missions" (Charlie Wilson's war, Jerry Weintraub's career as a film producer and talent agent, or Lincoln's political career) they all had that quality in common.   

It's more than "drive" or "passion"  There are tons of passionate artists out there who are not successful.  RELENTLESS is more than just the desire and drive to succeed.  It is:
1. Unyielding in severity or strictness; unrelenting: 
2. Steady and persistent; unremitting: 

In my quarterly alumni magazine from Northwestern there is an article about being successful in advertising (ala, Mad Men) and it says " The best creative people are relentless, self-directed, media fluent, collaborative, holistic, trustworthy and have an X factor."

In my own experience the best creative people, or the most successful people you know, inherently have these attributes.  I can teach anyone how to sing.  But I cannot give them that X factor and I cannot give them a relentless nature.  I can show them one at work..but beyond that I cannot do it for them.  I can cajole and badger my students into practicing...but seriously, if I have to do's too late for them. The "Relentlessness" needed for a theatre career has to come from them and not from me. 

In Time Magazine, the article about  Lincoln, the movie, says, "One lesson: It's not about them. Lincoln never confused his mission with himself.  He had the hide of a rhinoceros and a rare ability to set the past aside when turning former enemies into allies." 

Lincoln lost four elections before being elected President.  Relentless. 

I am listening to a Jerry Weintraub audio tape. When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man. He's balsy.  The story about Elvis alone is worth the time.  His biggest advice to anyone is just never give up.  If you get "no" just pretend like you didn't hear it and keep going back. He called the Colonel every day for three months straight to get him to let him take Elvis out on tour.  Finally it happened.  Relentless.

Just watched the dvd of "Charlie Wilson's War" again.  Basically three people made that war happen.  One with connections in Congress. One with money in the South and one with experience as a spy.  No matter what you think of the actual outcome, what was interesting to me was that they were relentless in their belief that it should happen. 

Steve Jobs, Madona, Einstein, Oprah, J.K. Rowling, Lucille Ball, Fred Astaire, Sidney Poitier, Steven Spielberg, The Beatles, Michael Jordan, Martin Luther King Jr, Beethoven, Any Olympic Athlete. 

With all of the above, it's about their own personal mission. Not just about being famous. They believe in their missions so wholeheartedly and powerfully that they HAVE to see it come true.  They bust through the rejections and the set backs and they keep moving forward. They stay with it as long as it takes and get better and better at what they are doing. And they surround themselves with a couple other people who believe too.  


(15 People who failed before they became famous)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lockwood Mathews Mansion show

I just realized that I have not shared the event/show we performed at the Lockwood Mathews Mansion and museum.  Photos below.  It was a lovely place to do a show,  in the rotunda with the large staircase as a backdrop. See photos!

This show was tailored to all the young families and children we knew would attend the mansion's Family Holiday event.  We were a 45 minute portion of their day which included tours of the mansion, tea time, magicians, etc.  The rotunda was set up for about 100 people but they sold out our show and even had to turn people away!  Fred Rose, Jerold Goldstein, David Miaocco and I were joined by Miss South Carolina Ericka Powell and Christina Sciongay (Miss CT American Beauty) who sang "Santa Baby" with me.

Because the Boy's choir was so enthusiastic and we were going to do the Santa Skit with two of the teenage boys anyway, I invited them to be a part of the show. The four mentoring sessions at the Rowayton Elementary school that I did in November/December culminated with 10 little girls being part of the "Letters to Santa" section of the show. They used their public speaking skills and projection that we worked on since they were no mics for this one!  We also had Matt Sweeney (our youth board prez) and Kevin Durkee (our treasurer) help us lead carols at the end of the show. A cast of thousands.

We got a wonderful testimonial for our site from the Executive director of the museum:

Yesterday was huge success. Thank you for all your support, hard work and wonderful performance.  We sold out! The audience was so enthusiastic, it was so great to hear all that cheerfulness. We sold 230 tickets, reaching maximum legal capacity. We could have sold more as more people wanted to attend. You are all multi-talented and incredibly engaging on stage. I loved the Bridgeport Boy's Choir too, a very talented group I was not familiar with and look forward to having here again. The children from the Rowayton school were adorable. You made our Holiday Open House truly memorable.

Warmest wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season,


Susan Gilgore, PhD
Executive Director
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
295 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06850

Saturday, December 22, 2012

More caroling! Happy Holidays!

Today we performed at our last two senior homes,  Westport Health Care and The Watermark in Bridgeport. Again we had some of our Youth Board participating and our amazing accompanist, David Miaocco.  Attached are our pictures and videos from this rewarding activity.  I encourage anyone with a talent to sing or perform for Senior Centers whenever you can.  They are truly so appreciative and you will feel great after you share your talents.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Caroling Caroling now we go!

We have already hit two of the senior homes with our santa hats, jingle bells and holiday carols.  Two more to go this coming weekend.  Even though we are doing it to bring holiday cheer to the residents, it always seems to make us feel better.  The group varies with some Youth Board members, parents, students of mine and cast members from the Holiday show.  But Andy always plays the jingle bells extraordinarily well . :)

See picture from Maplewood in Orange CT.  And also the video.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I love when I have a bit of time to read and to "fill up the well" again.  Mentoring ideas 
and justifications for our own programs from a Huffington post article that highlights a
 TED video. Highlights for me are below...and a link to the whole article.  

There are two main themes in the talk. First, we're all born with deep natural capacities for creativity and systems of mass education tend to suppress them. Second, it is increasingly urgent to cultivate these capacities -- for personal, economic and cultural reasons -- and to rethink the dominant approaches to education to make sure that we do.


The dominant systems of education are based on three principles -- or assumptions at least -- that are exactly opposite to how human lives are actually lived. Apart from that, they're fine. First, they promote standardization and a narrow view of intelligence when human talents are diverse and personal. Second, they promote compliance when cultural progress and achievement depend on the cultivation of imagination and creativity. Third, they are linear and rigid when the course of each human life, including yours, is organic and largely unpredictable. As the rate of change continues to accelerate, building new forms of education on these alternative principles is not a romantic whimsy: it's essential to personal fulfillment and to the sustainability of the world we are now creating.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


It was a success!  The biggest project we have taken on at NPT turned out well.  I am paying for it now in aches and pains and just an overall "tiredness" but there is no rest to be found in the next month.

 I promised things I must fulfill on in the name of marketing and branding NPT...

Four senior citizen groups responded to the calls I made to about 15 different residences after googling them in the Fairfield area.   If a group of 10 or more bought tickets then the NPT youth board and I  would go out to carol for them at their facilities.

They responded well to that and most sent groups of 15 or more!  One of the most delightful things to see was one of the seniors in the front row, an older african american gentleman, looking up at Keemie, one of the cutest young Bridgeport Boy's Choir boys, singing his heart out in the carols at the end.  I mean seriously belting it out there. Everyone wanted to take him home, but this older gentleman, who was not related, looked on so proudly.

I promised Talk Backs after the matinees.  Since all of the NY/Broadway performers did an amazing job by learning the entire show in two days,  when we did the "Talk Backs" or Q and A's, that seemed to impress folks.  We also heard many folks saying that they had seen us other places, so the "tribe" idea is working. They are now following us to the "next gig".  When we "settle down" we will have an audience waiting for us.

Another promise I made was that anyone who bought tickets before Nov 16th got a "walk on role".  It will be an easy thing to do when we control the box office of our own theatre, but the Bijou was the booking agent on this one, so I had to do some extra work in making sure I kept that promise.  I put all the names in a decorative Holiday bag and pulled one name from it while on stage to be my "Jingle girl/ or guy" and they played the jingle bells on my solo version of "Sleigh ride".   I had them follow me around and into the audience.  Fun!

If the show had just been the six Broadway performers it might have been easier to coordinate everything, but I wanted to be sure that we had some mentoring elements visible on stage since this is becoming a huge component (and hopefully grant worthy) of what we do.  So the Boy's Choir not only sang behind Courtney on "Go Tell it on the Mountain" but also two of the older guys were our "elves" in the Santa/Mrs. Santa scene.  "Daniel Elf "wrote the Rap and each performance the two guys got more and more confident and more fun each show.  Four of the little boys were "letter readers" in the Santa Letters portion.  So I had to rehearse them separately and the day of the show because of their school schedules.  I had previously attended three of their Saturday rehearsals and worked with them, and David, our musical director, went to one to help teach them the song. The boy's choir is also a non profit so we are planning to help them with their Gala/fundraising in the coming months.

We had three "models" in the Santa Baby song who girls were from my voice studio and who wore minks, gloves, mufflers, jewels, and old Hollywood looking gowns while the slides behind them were old Hollywood pin up girls and also the logo of the shop, Village Vogue,  that let us borrow the clothes.  Our first example of what our "On stage advertising" can be.  That involved coordinating fittings and getting the clothing from the boutique to the stage in tact.

We had carolers in the lobby half and hour before the show to welcome and entertain the audiences and   they also sang one Xmas carol to start off the show.  Mostly high school and some of the college kids. A few of their parents helped to usher and hand out programs and generally keep things on track since I was in the dressing room at that point.  I had a responsible and talented young woman, Emily Hughes, take charge as the "Caroler Wrangler" and she did a great job!

To fulfill on the promise of having our winners of So Ya Wanna Be a Broadway Star competition get a featured role in our show, the Junior Winner, Matthew Fliegauf sang Santa Claus is coming to town (arranged by our music director for him) at the two matinee shows and Amanda Forker, our senior winner, sang My Simple Christmas Wish, for the two evening shows.  They had to be rehearsed on the day of the show and put into the Weird Christmas medley. 

The Rowayton Elementary school girls (9 little girls that I have mentored with our two Youth Board members, Shelby and Shay, in the "Broadway Bound" sessions...four sessions/hour long at 8am on Wednesdays this past month) and their parents came to the Sunday shows and so I had to work them in with the four existing letter readers.  They will also read their letters for the upcoming Dec 16th show at the Lockwood Matthews Mansion and Museum show.

Because we have a nice relationship with the Miss CT program, she danced in Santa Baby, but only for three shows, so we had to rehearse her and the cast with the cuts and additions the day of the first show.

But I promised it would be a show that drew a diverse crowd and was entertaining with a variety of songs and scenes.  The reactions and emails we got were outstanding.  From:

The Bijou SHOW was Fantastic ... response from the audience and my family was wonderful ... We ALL loved the production - there were so many parts and pieces to choose from  BRAVO ... ENCORE ... ENCORE! 

Thank again!  The Residents really enjoyed the show- they said it helped put them in the holiday spirit J

Thank-you for thinking of us. I brought 2 other families. The professionalism of the show really exceeded our expectations!  I hope someday to have my children involved in what you are doing.

The residents loved the show!! They were very excited, for some it was there first broadway show...Thank you so much for inviting us.

Thank you so much!  I have to tell you I enjoyed the show Sooooooooooo very much and you all did such a great job. It was funny, entertaining, heart warming -- just fabulous. The group was excellent.

And my favorite, because it means we fulfilled on what we promised. 

You did exactly what you said you would - you brought many facets of the community together, and you brought Broadway to Bridgeport.