Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reasons You Should See the OHS Production of "Little Women"

Photo by Nicole Leese
Tonight is the closing night of the Omak High School production of "Little Women" and if you haven't seen it yet, you definitely should. Of course, as Pioneer Player Alum, I'm a little biased, but at the same time I cannot tell a lie, and if the show was no good, I would not be writing this post.

But honestly. I've gone twice, and both times I've been absolutely blown away by the amount of talent these students have, how well they have done whilst undertaking the challenge of such a difficult show, and how absolutely perfect the casting was.

Watching the show you will realize that no one can play sweet, angelic Beth like Hunter Thomas can, no one has the spirit of Jo except Lisa Halfhill, Mackenzie Vance is perfectly suited for precocious and wide eyed Amy, Johanna Matthynssens plays romantic Meg perfectly, I was truly "delighted" whenever she came onstage, and Chelsee Johnson just gets Marmee. I don't think I can explain it beyond that. And I can't forget that Josie Buscko is the most perfect Aunt March I have ever seen....possibly ever. Watch for her fan thing. I've seen the show twice and both times I've actually thanked Josie for her awesome fan skills. And Reve Hill plays the ever dorky, but lovable Laurie perfectly. Probably because if you've met Reve in person you realize that he IS Laurie. Oh, and Darrel Joe is a perfect Professor Bhaer. He even adopted a believable accent (and sings with it!), which takes skill. The show is rounded out by an amazing ensemble who are MORE than just faces in the background, they are all a very real, very important part of the show that makes it even more fun to watch.

I could go on forever talking about how perfect the casting is, but there's more to it than that. These kids sing and act their butts off, and every time I see part of the show it's improved in some way. They get stronger and stronger the more they perform and tonight, as they close the show I can confidently predict this will be their strongest show yet.

Not only have the actors put a lot of hard work into the show, but the crew has pulled their weight, and its very obvious. The costumes (designed by Chelsee Johnson) are on point, perfectly suited for 19th century America, and the two story set (designed by Matthew Pearce) is absolutely beautiful. The scene changes are flawless and oh, did I mention that there is an orchestra for this production? Mr. Don Pearce directs the orchestra and not only does the orchestra (comprised of community members) sound amazing, but they are really attentive to the actors needs. Last night a mic change didn't happen on time (because that is a real problem when sharing mics. Trust me, I know) and instead of playing at full blast like they normally can the music was instantly softer when they realized Professor Bhaer was quieter than normal.

What's even more impressive is that for many of the actors, this is their first musical, and you can't even tell. Most notably, Lisa Halfhill, who heads up the cast as Jo March, and Darell Joe as Bhaer. If I remember correctly, Darell has at least done choir, but doing a musical is completely different. And of course, Gypsy the dog has a role in this production, and she hasn't done a musical either. But she's an amazing stage dog.

So if you're into musicals, if you're into Little Women, if you want to support a group of students that have worked hard to bring you this amazing show, then you should catch Little Women tonight at 6 pm at the Omak Performing Arts Center.

Little Women is an Omak High School Drama Club Production directed by Nicole Leese

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What I Learned from Love

Today I realized that I have spent a large portion of my life being in love. In love with life, in love with ideas, and mainly, in love with other people.

Nothing obvious came from this love, because I am 20 and unwed (thank goodness) but I think that the people I chose to fall in love with for even just a moment helped me learn things about myself both good and bad that have shaped me into the woman I am today. And yes, some of these people I dated. Some of the boys (men?) I (thought I) loved, however, did not reciprocate those feelings, but they were equally important to me and my development in life.

Let's go back to the beginning....a very fine place to start.

My first love was Chandler Lewis. Don't lie. If you know both of us, you knew that was coming. Chandler however, was not my first boyfriend. That was Blaine. He has a place in here too, somewhere. Anyways, Chandler was not only my boyfriend, but my best friend and that was important because that's how relationships should be. Chandler taught me that it was okay to be myself, to let my walls down, and most importantly to let other people in. And then, when we decided that maybe we weren't destined to be together forever, our break up taught me that just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to be romantically involved with them. Obviously there is more than one type of love in this world, but sometimes you can get so caught up trying to find a soul mate that you forget that there are other options for people. If not soul mates, then best friends.

What I never seem to learn, though is that sometimes your heart gets lonely and it will fall for anyone who offers some company. This doesn't necessarily mean that they will be careful with your heart, it just means that they'll steal it, keep it tied up for a while, drag you through the mud, and then give it back after its all broken. I had a few "boyfriends" in high school who did that. But that happens to everyone and we can cry and say our lives are "over" because "(S)HE WAS MY ENTIRE WORLD" but really, unless you end up married, they are just a phase and you'll heal in time. As did I. It is important to note though, that I did learn things from my insignificant high school relationships. I'll make this short and sweet.

  • To my first boyfriend - dating is scary and messy and hurts like hell, but sometimes its okay in the end.
  • To the boy who asked me if I was naughty like my mama after I told you she was a drug addict - Fuck you. That's all I can really say here. Oh, and men are pigs who will say anything if they thinks its sexy.
  • To the boy I dated for 2 short months - we should have never dated. Sometimes dating ruins friendships. 
  • To the boy I dated who called me a slut - I don't know what you were so embarrassed about. After all, I wasn't the one who tried to pressure YOU into having sex. Thanks for teaching me that my self worth isn't determined by your opinion of me.
  • To the boy who cheated on me with five girls and then tried to get back with me - not all people are good people. 
  • To the boy who loved me but I didn't love - "it's not you it's me" isn't such a cop out line after all. 

And then high school ended. I was single, I was headed off to college and I was excited about my future. Not necessarily in the love department, although Whitworth men are notorious for being gorgeous. If you don't know what I mean, go visit their campus and hang out around MacMillan hall for a little bit. You'll understand. With this new chapter in my life though, came a whole new batch of lessons to learn about love and life and myself. Being the flirt that I am, I kind of knew that I was going to have some romantic entanglement while at college, and I did. There were two boys at The Whit who taught me a lot about myself.

The first taught me that sometimes two people just aren't meant to be together even though it seems like a perfect fit. He also taught me that in order to love others you have to love yourself and that it is indeed okay to ask for help. He continues to show me that support systems are necessary and sometimes its awesome just to ring someone up and ask for affirmations that no, you are not a failure, and yes, you are beautiful and that should be okay. Because of him I remember every day that people love me, that I am a gorgeous human being and that I am important.

The second taught me that if your initial instinct upon being asked to date is NO, then you should just not date, because you'll try again and on the surface everything will be fine, but underneath it won't be. That sometimes a relationship just isn't meant to work and you can work at it and work at it but some people will NOT respect your choices and will NOT respect your wishes and WILL make you feel guilty about them. And those people are not with your (or my) time. Also. Communication is very important in a relationship.

I know it sounds like all I've learned from dating is mostly negative. But that's not true. I have discovered that I like boys who hug me for a long time, and ones who don't allow me to hate on myself because they want me to see myself like they see me, and I like boys who disagree with me on stuff because of scholarly reasons or have debates with me with proof and resources to back up their arguments. I've learned that a good relationship makes a good person better, but that a relationship is NOT necessary for survival. But most importantly I've learned that I deserve someone who loves me as much as I love them, and for all the right reasons.

Until I find that man who I want to spend my life with I'll keep dating, and I'll keep learning. And that's all I
can do. No, it's not always going to be easy or particularly fun. But in the end it'll be worth it.

And if I don't find anyone who measures up, I always have my cat.

Alexis Olmstead is a part time waitress and full time diva. She is currently anxiously awaiting the beginning of rehearsals for "Wizard of Oz" and attempting to train her kitten to fetch the paper. For more updates and useless ramblings from Alexis, check back often. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Hope I Get It (On Auditioning and Things)

Photo Cred: Ebony P.
OVOC (Okanogan Valley Orchestra & Chorus) is currently in the works of putting on Wizard of Oz as their annual spring musical. On Saturday they held auditions and those auditions were terrifying. Or at least I thought they were going to be. You see, I haven't auditioned for anything for about two years now, but once I heard about Wizard of Oz I hopped on the "I'm Going To Be Dorothy" train and rode it all the way home.

So going in, I had a lot of expectations for myself, and was completely confident in how I would do. But then I showed up and there were other people there and holy goodness they could sing. And they wanted to be Dorothy as well, and that made me want to pee a little.

But then I went up to talk to the accompanist about my sheet music and she told me I had a "beautiful voice" and my fears were calmed a little. Until other people started singing. My heart was thumping in my chest so hard I thought that other people could probably hear it. Then they called me up.

"#37, Alexis Olmstead".

Awe crap. Here I go. My legs were shaking, my hands were trembling, my stomach was threatening to fall out of my butt. It was not pleasant. But as soon as I got up on stage I felt at peace. I had forgotten. The stage is my home. I live and breathe for theatre, and I LOVE how it feels to be up on that stage, doing my thing. I was still a tad nervous but slightly calmer so I went through my song, and hoped it went well.

They don't even need to make me a costume!
After the vocal auditions we broke for lunch, I breathed a little because the hard part was over, and mentally prepped for cold reads and the dance audition. The dance audition was the easiest part of the day, our routine was only two or three eight counts long. I was very happy with that. I was not as happy with the fact that I had to perform it about seven times. But I just kept on smiling because I was Dorothy and Dorothy smiles a lot and I was like...this will help me in the end.

Then - the most important part of the day. Cold reads. Cold reads are where the director and production staff really see if you have it what it takes to make a character come to life. This is where the 15 - 20 year old girls who can play younger are separated from those who can't, and ultimately, I feel, where the director decides if a particular actor or actress is right for the role.

In cold reads I only read twice, in two scenes where I didn't really talk very much, but needed to react to a lot of things, so I did the best I could, remembering that Dorothy (at the point of the show where the scenes took place) was this mystified and scared little girl. She was running away from home in one scene and had just met the Wicked Witch in the other. Keeping that in mind, I acted my butt off. I hope.

At the end of the day I was confident and anxious. The director only saw me read twice and I felt that I could have done more if given the chance, but didn't speak up when she asked if anyone wanted to read for the part again, which I was really kicking myself in the butt for.

And now, the waiting begins. This is the worst part because you don't know. You have to trust the director and everyone else  that they know what is best for the role. So here's to everyone that auditioned and here's hoping that I get the chance to play little miss Dorothy Gale.

Alexis Olmstead is a part time waitress and full time diva. She is currently awaiting news of her audition and planning her Tony acceptance speech. Her cats have heard it about fifty times and send their pleas for help. For more general updates on Alexis' life, thoughts and opinions, check back sporadically.