The Time Of My Life ‘Jerry Seinfeld’ Live Review

Jerry Seinfeld

Boondall Entertainment Centre Brisbane

August 9th 2017

★★★★★

I’m still quite the ingenue when it comes to reviewing and when it comes to Jerry Seinfeld I’m a confirmed fan for life, so here’s what I have to say bout his performance in the Brisbane Arena, Boondall on Wednesday July 9th:

It was the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Quite a complex review, isn’t it? Well I’m sorry if I don’t have 300 paragraphs of yada yada for y’all, but Jerry was on from the moment he walked onstage, and I daresay he stayed good and on long after he walked off it. Hell, can’t you just imagine him in a coffin one day, arms folded, looking around and going: ‘What’s the deal with the air flow in these things?’ because he was born to do what he does and I’ve no doubt that he’ll die doing it and linger on afterwards as a sarcastic presence in the air.

I consider myself to be quite the collector of comedians. I’ve been watching them on DVD and live for years and I’m no stranger when it comes to the muffled-splat of jokes falling flat- the empathetic ‘You can do it’ titters that come from the most easily-amused fans in expectant crowds after a comedian has swung and missed. (Often, it’s me) I’ve even seen this happen to Jerry a few times over the years (‘Move the shoes, move the shoes, move the shoes…’ Yes please move the shoes to a segue and faster) and it’s something that you just expect to see at any comedy show. I still fast forward certain bits of Eddie Murphy Raw and Delerious because I have no idea what he’s talking about and don’t care to look into it.

But not at Jerry Seinfeld nope, he shot one-liners and multi-faceted paragraphs out like he’d swallowed a fully-loaded wit clip and used every laugh as  the bolt that he slid back for the next. I was sitting between an elderly gentleman and a guy ten years younger than me and they laughed at everything as much as I did, and the laughs were so big that we ended up swaying back and forth and over one another in our squishy seats with no personal space bubble necerssary because we were all in this together.

He is just so good at this. The comedian that came out before him was amazing and I think a lot better than anyone expected. We were still laughing at his jokes when Jerry waltzed out but from the moment the veteran opened his mouth, you could see why we all paid the steep price to get that ticket and then be squished in together- Jerry Seinfeld is the best stand-up comedian in the world and I don’t think he’ll ever be surpassed. He could go on tour at 90, and there will be tens of thousand of people waiting to see him just as there are right now to hear what he has to say about adult diapers.

Sure I guess there were a few things that didn’t resonate quite as well with the Aussie crowd as it would have with a bunch of Americans, but anyone who can call themselves a fan of Seinfeld would have shown up knowing to expect that because as far as generation X is concerned- he was our go-to educator for American culture for a very long time. We know that sometimes US comedians are going to talk about shit that we don’t quite get, but the beautiful thing with Jerry is that once it’s out there, it’s everybody’s joke now and that’s exactly what happened the other night. The crowd showed up wanting to laugh and so they did- uproariously for an hour and ten minutes straight.

In fact if there was any issue with his act, it was the fact that he was too funny- too relevant and too damn slick. We all showed up with this excitement of finally seeing him again, of getting him to throw another scrap of amusement our way after waiting for so long, but once it was over and we were inching our way out (and I was wiping tears off from under my cheeks as I am right now) you could feel the reluctance to leave in the air. It was as long as any stand up act is, but devesatatingly short. There had been so many new wonderful jokes- but not nearly enough to hit the spot now that we’d remember what it was like to listen to him ramble on.

In fact, it sort of felt like having one cigarette after years of going cold turkey, and now I’m craving something that I just cannot get enough of. When Seinfeld was wrapping up, it was easy to come to terms with it because by that point, he’d offered his commentary on basically every aspect of the modern world and new voices were popping up everywhere- voices that sounded fresher and more inventive and might just have something to say that he couldn’t or didn’t want to say.

But that was before the internet took over the world, before Netflix, before Instagram and before, well, everything that pertains to our daily lives now. Seinfeld was about a bunch of middle-aged singles living in a crazy city, but Jerry’s a married man and father now doing the adulting thing (like me) and I’m desperate to know everything that he has to say on all of the above now that he has so much more material. I want him back on my screen, five times a week, saying the stuff that no one else has the balls to say or the intellect to articulate. I want to see whole episodes about political correctness, Trump, North Korea and text messaging. I want to know what he think about  putting kids through school, keeping a marriage interesting after an extended period of time, Tinder and equal rights for gays.

Jerry Seinfeld offered up a lot of insight into how his mind works nowadays, but his mind works so beautifully and quickly (and still without cussing) that I don’t think there’s ever going to be enough that he can say or do that will make people okay with the fact that he doesn’t feel like doing it as much anymore, and so as he disappeared behind that curtain, I began to weep just like I did when Time Of Your Life rolled on the Seinfeld Chronicles.

Strange how a show about nothing can be everything.

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The 21 year Countdown to seeing Jerry Seinfeld!

I was in grade nine when I discovered Jerry Seinfeld, and I'll never forget it. I was flicking aimlessly between the four channels we had back then, when I came across an incapacitated looking woman bellowing "Stella!" at the top of her lungs while hyped up on meds. To this day, that will remain the funniest thing I've ever seen, and even though I've watched that episode a million times by now, I still end up in fits of uncontrollable giggling when it pops up on my television.

Seinfeld was not a 'thing' in my peer group. We were on that border between being generation X or Y and most of them tended to identify with the Y side of things, so it was all about South Park, The Simpsons, Friends, Kurt Cobain, Home and Away and Silverchair. However, my mother was a few years older than most of my friends' parents were and she wasn't a fan of modern sitcoms, so she raised an old soul in me and one that was decidely uncool and proud of it. I grew up on Gene Kelly and Elvis musicals, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, and listening to music on a record player so I didn't really get into mainstream T.V at all until we got cable in the tenth grade.

But stumbling across Seinfeld was a bit of a fluke, and it changed me irrevocably. I'd always been bullied and so Jerry's sense of humour struck a chord wih me, not only because he was incredibly quick-witted, but because he knew how to put someone in their place without being out and out nasty. He reminded me of other TV characters I'd felt an affinity with before, like Niles from the Nanny and Raphael from TMNT, and that was when I realised a truth about myself- I was quite sarcastic. Odd that a 13 year old girl would feel such a connection with a bunch of Middle Ages adults living in New York City, but I did and it had never abated. In fact as the years go on not only does Seinfeld seem to stay relevant, but you can actually see how the world has learned how to 'adult' from him.

It was hard to watch TV shows from start to finish back then. We had exactly 4 network stations and they tended to play seasons of imported shows willy nilly, so it took me years to watch the majoroty of the Seinfeld episodes, but I recorded every single one and watched them until I knew them off by heart. I was an obsessed fan off the bat, and I'll never forget how much my husband loathed Seinfeld back then because he was jealous of my fixation with it. He was 13 and I was 14 and we were madly in love and spoke on the phone for hours a night, but if it was a weeknight I'd only speak to him until precisely 6:59p.m because between 7:00 and 7:30 I was incommunicado. He tried prolonging our farewells and even prank-called me a few times while in a jeaous snit, but I never apologised and he never learned to deal with it and so I guess it wasn't a surprise that we didn't work out the first time around.

We reunited 20 years later, and I'll never forget the way his eyes swept over my DVD shelves and slitted when he saw my Seinfeld boxset displayed proudly, but luckily by then I didn't have to stop the planet to watch my favourite show anymore and though he's never become an actual fan, he does enjoy watching them when I go through one of my Seinfeld binge phases.

I'll always remember memorizing the episodes until I could do them off by heart. Then, when I found the book Sein Language, I'd spend hours trying to 'do' his routines. I remember watching the finale in 1998 and bawling my eyes out during the chronicles and pissing myself laughing at the end when they got locked up, especially when Jerry started to do the same button bit from episode 1 which I thought was just that perfect touch. I remember the fact that Seinfeld was the very first thing I ever did a search for on the internet- and that I spend about two hours trying to print off 4 pictures just in case the internet vanished and I'd never have the access to information about him again. I remember covering my books with those pictures and trying to justify my addiction to him to other kids my age, and I remember how every time I met someone else in my generation that was in love with him too, it was like meeting a kindred spirit.

I remember when Jerry wore a blue and white striped shirt in the episode about his pilot, and how when I found a shirt just like it in a thrift shore, I wore it religiously because it was my Jerry shirt. I remember it getting so frayed that it became my night shirt, but I've bought several more just like it over the years and where them with a secret smile on my face because no one knows. Just last week I was writing my third play and I finally decided to add in a stand up routine for one of the characters. I was so stressed about writing it that It took me three weeks ( as opposed to the entire script which took about 3 hours) but then I put on my Jerry shirt and everything just sort of fell into place 🙂 when the director messaged me after to say it was 'Hilarious' I actually cried. I never would have done that, if not for Seinfeld.

I remember how excited I was when my family got addicted to Jessica Seinfeld cooking recipes, and I remember how I sobbed when my things were ruined by the 2008 floods, but how relieved I was to find my copy of Sein Language sitting high and dry in a plastic box- with my diaries and a 1st edition of Uncle Toms Cabin. I remember dragging my husband around New York City looking for Seinfeld landmarks- how I made him eat pretzels and Papaya King hot dogs and how we searched for the abandoned Soup Nazi kitchen and the facade of the diner until we were lost in a bad neighborhood. I remember thinking about what a good sport he'd become 🙂

I remember laughing .

But what I remember most of all, was when I found out Seinfeld was coming to Australia- how I burst into tears because I knew that because our business had just collapsed, I wouldn't be able to go even if it was a year from then. I sobbed like a baby until my mum called me and told me that her and my sister would get me there for my birthday gift no matter what it took, and how thrilled and relieved I was just to be standing in the same general area that he would be standing in, 21 years after discovering him.

Now I'm getting ready to board a plane to see Jerry Seinfeld live in Brisbane, and I'm all teary again, not just because of that but because my beautiful and tolerant husband gave me his last $50, told me to get a souvenir and told me to have 'The Time Of My Life' I don't think he knows what he said or why that matters, but to my mother, sister and very supportive hubby I leave you with this:
'Think where man's glory begins and ends, and say my glory was, I had such a friend.'

Goodnight Jagdesh 😉 See you tomorrow!

To convention or not to convention? That is the question.

Pop Culture Conventions are still pretty new to me. In my 4 years as a published author I’ve been to exactly 4 of them, though technically you could say that I’ve been to the same one four times because I’ve only ever tried representing myself at the Sugar City Con right here in Mackay.

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My first convention was all about having fun and learning 🙂

Obviously I’d love to go to an actual writing convention because I’d be more likely to find my target audience, but the SCC is still a very new thing here in Mackay and I am still very much an ingenue when it comes to the publishing world, so this is definitely one of those “Think globally, act locally,” events for me.

I’m glad to say that I’ve been with the SCC since their inception back in 2014, and I am very thrilled to say that I’ve learned a lot in those four years- perhaps even enough to warrant me passing my advice along becuase I myself have been frustrated when it comes to researching how best to navigate these events, especially as an author.

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My first ever Convention set-up. Not very attention grabbing, is it? It looks like the booth of a beauty sales consultant.

The start of my convention evolution was a little bit embarrassing. I’d only been self-published for just over a year and all I had to offer potential readers was links to e-books and some brochures, which I tried hawking over a plastic-coated foldable table. I managed to raffle off a Kindle E-Reader that first year which at least gave some people a reason to come hang near my booth and jot down their e-mail addresses for me, but I’m not very good with being the pushy sales chick and I never actually used those e-mail addresses for anything so in the end, the most I got out of that event was a teeny tiny bit of promotion.

 

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Second year’s booth- hit the ground running 🙂

 

My second year was a little bit better. By then I had one book in paperback and I ordered in a lot of copies, in addition to getting business cards and better brochures, and I went to a lot more trouble with my booth. I made fancy decorations out of old books, had posters printed up to blow up my various book covers so that they could be pinned to my backing panel behind me, and actually took along my computer so I’d have something to do other than sit and stare at the people passing me by. That was a much better year, but the entire event was a lot bigger and better in general so it was pretty hard to steal attention away from the other vendors. I sold a lot of copies of my novels, but I chose my solitary YA title to print (because it was the smallest) and that definitely limited my reach because I am first and foremost an adult paranormal fantasy writer. I also printed out lots of samples of my other books and had a demo of a second novel ready  to place orders for, which did generate a lot of sales. I was learning but I was learning too slowly and I knew that I needed to plan well in advance the following year if I was going to have a hope of getting my name and my work truly out there.

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I’m still very proud of these home made decorations
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This was how I packaged the ordered copies when they came in. Sah cute, yeah?

Next came 2016, which was definitely my best year. The convention had grown into its larger venue and the crowd was twice the size of the year before thanks to the fact that we had some fantastically talented people front up for the SCC, including a well-known actor and an incredibly talented young writer, Will Kostakis. I was asked to appear on a panel that year, along with Will Kostakis and another local author, Sharon Johnston to talk about how we got into writing- Will being the award-winner, Sharon the one that had official representation and me- the poor man’s Indie. That was  lot of fun and a great experience, and although I don’t know if that got a lot more people heading my way, it certainly attracted the attention of one or two. I was much better prepared that year- I’d just produced my first original play so I spliced footage from that with my book trailers and played it on repeat on my computer so I had better visual aids, and by then I had 4 different paperbacks to sell and I happily almost sold out. I’d upgraded my brochures yet again, added in some book marks and printed out 18 posters while running a free promotion for several of my other novels on Kindle at the same time, so if there was anything that anyone wanted to read, they had the option of buying it then and there in paperback, or downloading it free.

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Me with star guest Tony Amendola 2017
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Me on the writer’s panel with Sharon Johsnton and Will Kostakis
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My 2017 booth- simple with lots of titles for sale!

Yes 2016 was definitly a successful year but like I said, the SCC was growing so by then there were 6 other writers present, so it was a good thing that I’d gone in prepared because it was much harder to stand out in that sea of faces.

I’ve just done my 4th SCC and although it probably should have been my best year yet, I found that it was pretty hard to top 2016. Not only because an economic downturn led to the event being down-sized in general, but because I didn’t actually make the decision to attend until 2 weeks before so I was grossly underprepared. I ended up having to order books at the last minute in bulk from Create Space which means the postage for each book cost as much as the titles themselves (and literally arrived the afternoon beforehand!), and I didn’t think of anything new to do with my booth so it was a lot simpler than it had been before. In fact, the highlight of this event for me was the fact that I finally got into the Cosplay spirit!

 

There were no other authors this year, but I didn’t rate that as being an advantage because it meant that the people that came were mostly drawn in by all of the sci-fi and cosplay stuff. I sold quite a lot of books still and managed to generate some great publicity for my upcoming shows and a collection of local ghost stories that I’m writing, but I definitely wish that I’d been better prepared and had had something new to offer people. That’s definitely the issue with being a small-town writer; if you don’t keep evolving, you go stale.

So here are my personal tips and tricks for representing yourself as an author at a convention- especially if you’re not attending an author-only convention and are competing with the special guest artists and cosplayers that the atendees are lining up for:

  • Go to some effort with your booth. You’ll likely be supplied with one table, one chair and a backing panel just like everyone else, so be prepared to make it all it can be. Table covers, covers for backing panels, posters, props- make the space look eye-catching. Please try to theme it or keep the colours simple though, because people do judge books- and authors- by their covers.
  • Find out if you have power and use it accordingly. I definitely wish I’d upgraded my PC display this year because I’ve found that it gives potential customers the chance to drift your way without being forced to have to look or speak to you if they don’t want to. All of the vendors are selling something and selling hard, and most atendees will do their best to maintain a safe distance between themselves and the desperate sales person eyeballing them until they’re as interested as you’d like them to be. A lot of people would advise you to call out to each one or do the ‘hard sell’ but I wouldn’t recommend it. When it comes to books someone is either a reader or they’re not, and readers know what they like to read. If your cover doesn’t hook them, then trying to talk them into it will scare them off more quickly. In fact whenever anyone drifts my way and starts eyeing my book covers I always test the waters first by saying: ‘Are you a reader?’ If the answer is no, then I know to tread carefully and offer them a pretty book mark. If the answer is yes, I ask them what genre they like. If it’s not something I write, I’ll talk to them about what they’re interested in instead and let them decide if they want to know more about me. Once again, I’m not going to waste my time or anyone else’s trying to convince a hard-core fantasy reader to buy a book about zombies.
  • Keep yourself occupied without actually going too far and making yourself look unapproachable. I take notebooks to doodle in because I can get a lot done without shutting myself off or getting overly distracted by technology.
  • Have things to sell or give away- I cannot stress this enough. Running a bunch of free books on Kindle might seem like a great idea, but a lot of people won’t go to the trouble of looking you up once they get home if left to their own devices. And be prepared to sell too: have a lot of copies on hand, change, bags, bookmarks and I would highly reccommend that you have one of those personal eftpos machines or at least have your internet banking details, a means to connect to the internet and an invoice book on hand. This year the thing that handicapped me the most was the money thing: the venue had one ATM that died in the first hour, leaving people with only the cash they had and their ATM cards. I’d learned from 2015 to get a portable card reader so I had that as back up but unfortunately, the signal on my phone was too weak to hook the thing up with the app and so I lost a lot of sales that way, as did all of the vendors. Next year when I go back I’ll take a portable wi-fi device to be safe.
  • Have something to give away to keep you in people’s minds, but if you can’t afford to go big, don’t. Giving away a Kindle loaded with my books was a great idea, but that only really appealed to e-book readers and in a town like mine, that cuts out 70% of your potential customers. Giving away an iPad is expensive and not likely to pay off for you because everyone will enter into that, so you could waste your time trying to hook the attention of people that want the iPad so they can use Instagram, not so they can read off it. If money is no option then by all mens, raffle off an elephant if you’re so inclined, but I’ve discovered that personalised bookmarks are the best way to go. They’re cheap, they’re relevant to the sutomers you want to make a connection with and a lot less likely to be thrown out than a glossy brochure will be.
  • Link your social media to your event- run competitions using your pen name as a hashtag and get yourself some authentic likes. This year I did a few things- I used my booth to take ticket bookings for my next play, offered a special discount off my next book for people that pre-ordered it before midnight, and tied my appearance at the Con to a cover reveal for my next book online. Just be careful to walk that fine line between self-promotion and spamming, whatever you do.

And last but not least,  get into the spirit of things! Pop culture conventions are all about the cosplay, so find something to wear that’ll make it clear that you’re there not only as a vendor but as a fan of the experience in general. I’ve heard some authors say that they rate dressing up as a character from their own books, but mine aren’t really distinctive enough for that yet, so I decided to dress as Ariel, given that I have three books out about mermaids. It meant that I had to get up a lot earlier and was a lot less comfortable than I had been the prior years, but it was a lot of fun!

So here I am, hoping that 2018 is gonna be the year that I get it right, so if you have any tips for me, please share away!

Happy Publishing Birthday To Me! Thanks To You!

Hello my beautifuls! I’m thrilled to announce that today, July 3rd marks 4 years since I published my first book, The Marked Ones to Amazon Kindle. I had no idea how my life was going to change after that moment, but it’s been an incomparable experience; one that is thanks totally and completely to you all. Especially Donella Brown, Howard T Parsons and Emm Cole, whose support has been priceless.
Now here I am on the cusp of releasing my 20th novel, The Wildest woods, and to celebrate it, I’m giving away copies of 2 of my favourite books, The Marked Ones, and The Given Garden Parts 1 & 2 for E-Readers.
Please share the links and spread the word, and let’s see how many readers I can touch this year!
And thanks Again!
#happyauthorbirthday #mermaids #dystopian #kindle
Click link #1 for Angels and Demons!

Click link #2 for mermaids!
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BUMP IN TIME! Kurt Phelan shares tips to survive production week in the theatre!

The nerves are setting in and the eyelashes are vanishing off shelves- it’s almost bump in week for the Mackay Musical Comedy Player’s production of Wicked and as always, tensions are high and hopes and stresses are higher! There is so much that can go wrong in ‘tech’ week, especially in community theatre, which is very dependent on close to one hundred people giving every ounce of time, focus, money (they need a frequent shopper card for gloss stockings!) and energy that they have in the desire to make what happens on Broadway- with a budget of hundreds of thousands if not millions- happen in the space of a week with a bunch of people that are already exhausted enough to drop.

People can get sick, people can overdose on McDonalds (they knew what they were doing when they built it close to the theatre here!) people can forget moves, people can get on each other’s nerves, and then on the other hand, people can make friendships and memories that last forever, which is why we do it in the first place, isn’t it?

But how do you make sure that you get the best of it all, without ending up an irritable, germ-ophobic, rundown wreck? Especially when you’re volunteering, and trying to balance kids, a job, your bank balance and your health?

Personally, I have a few little tricks up my sleeve to see me through. I brew a special tea that pretty much includes every natural anti-flu ingredient there is, from apple cider vinegar to licorice root leaves to pure honey, and I keep it in a thermos so I can offer it to everybody. I also make sure that I take a pair of comfy slippers with me because it can get cold backstage, especially during tech week when you’re sitting or standing around a lot. As for luck/tradition, I’ve made it a point since I started cheerleading to spritz on one of my (many) Britney Spears perfumes for star quality (It’s Sammy, bitch) and I used to have an awesome post-show ritual with a friend in cheerleading, where we would race one another to get changed afterwards, and the first one that was ready to go party would get to pop the Ricadonna. We’re funny little creatures of habit, humans, and Thespian and Athletes tend to have more productive ‘tics’ than anyone, but what really works?

This week I had the amazing opportunity to hang out with Kurt Phelan, who played the iconic Johnny Castle of Australia’s tour of Dirty Dancing, and because he always looks 100% together, I decided to pick his brain for tips on how to survive production week, and was curious to see how professional shows differ from community-based ones.

Of course Kurt has developed his many skills on a rich diet of both, so take his advice, fellow Thespians, and leap and whirl with it!

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Photo, contributed by Kurt Phelan.

S.K:
What are some huge differences between moving into the theatre before a community show, and a major production?

Kurt:
Mostly time. The first time you mount a large production you have at least a week, and the crew and technicians have a week or two before you get there to sort things out on their end so there’s a lot less standing around because the technical stuff is mostly ready to go by the time you arrive. There’s a lot more to be done in community but that’s part of the charm of it. When I went back to Townsville for Rent, I found it hard to get out of the ‘pro’ focus headspace and remember that it was supposed to be fun. In the bigger shows, you shut up and go.

S.K:
Is there anything in particular that you like to have in your dressing room to make you feel at home?

Kurt:
I like to have music if I’m in a room by myself. I listen until half hour call so I don’t end up all neurotic. Theatre’s also have a very specific smell, so I like to have a scented candle or something familiar going to make it feel like home.

S.K:
What kind of examples could you give for what you consider to be correct dressing room etiquette?

Kurt:
I hate it when people aren’t observant of other people’s needs, especially when you’re sharing a dressing room. Try not to make a lot of noise and fuss if you’re with people that require quiet and focus, and don’t bring in something to eat with a really strong smell, like butter chicken. Once I’m at the half hour call, I turn off music, and only start conversations if other people initiate them, just in case. It’s different for different shows though. Sometimes you need to be pumped up but if it’s Shakespeare, I like to focus in order to disappear into his world, and to get into the zone.
S.K:
What kind of meals do you have while you’re in a performance season?
Kurt:
A lot of vegetables, I eat really clean because I tend to get reflux, and that can often mean that I’ll lose my voice. I avoid the saucy stuff and go for simple, clean things like chicken and broccoli and savory mince. I’m not really into pastas either, but that’s because I end up with my shirt off a lot! On that note, Protein shakes are great too.

S.K:
How do you make sure that you don’t end up feeling run down, especially during the cooler seasons?

Kurt:
I’ve found that I’m always really hot and sweaty after I’ve finished a show, no matter what the weather, and everything outside of the theatre always feels cooler so I always have a jacket handy so I don’t catch a cold the old-fashioned way. It’s easy to do that too, because when you’re in a theatre you’re breathing everyone else’s air. It’s so easy to eat crap too, so I take in a lot of vegetables and vitamins.

S.K:
Coffee, Red-Bull, Gatorade, Water or all of the above?

Kurt:
Coffee always before a show!

S.K:
If you had a theatre survival kit, what would be in it?

Kurt:
(Quickly) Jameson Irish Whiskey. (Laughs) Nurofen. Moisturizer. Oh, and Difflam throat spray. I think it’s awesome but singing teachers don’t. It’s good to have honey and lemon nearby too- the real stuff.

S.K:
Do you have any pre-show or after show traditions that you like to observe for luck or just for the sake of tradition?

Kurt:
I used to do five push-ups before the finale, and it was cute, because the crew used to do it with me too. I also like to give each of my roles a particular smell by theming a cologne with it. I wore old spice for the whole tour of Dirty Dancing because I figured that back then, that’s what Johnny would have worn. Kirby would say ‘Oh, I just smell you again!’
And ever since forever, I used to spit on the soles of my soles – especially my tap shoes. It helps for slipping and makes me feel more confident. Just a little spit though (laughs) I’m not hocking up a big… anything.

S.K:
We are so dependent on our costume, stage and sound crews during a production in community theatre, and it’s not unusual for those in the cast to be asked or required to land a hand. Can you remember a time when a techie/crew member saved your ass from a backstage emergency?
Kurt:
When I was singing on the cruise ship, the lift didn’t come up the whole way. I stepped as I always did, fell and knocked out my front tooth! But a crew member looked for it until he found it and I thought that was cool. Another time, when I was an understudy, for Felicia in Priscilla, the lead hurt himself in the first ten minutes. I’d never done his role before, but the resident director and the stage managers had my script and costumes ready and followed me around for the whole thing, feeding me lines and entrances and exits.

S.K:
Wow! What’s the biggest tech-week disaster you ever experienced?
Kurt:
The first Priscilla show I did went for three and a half hours because the bus kept stopping! It was charity so everyone took it well, thank goodness. Oh and another time when I was playing Felicia I got off the shoe too early and ended up stuck and suspended over the audience!

S.K:
What’s the worst mistake that you’ve ever made?
Kurt:
(Groans) Okay, look- I fell asleep. (Laughs) It was my first musical, Singing In The Rain. We had an hour off between act one and two, and a lot of the older and cheekier cast members saw that I’d dozed up and said it would be funny if they left me there. I’m sure someone meant to tell me to get up eventually, but I woke up suddenly when I heard : ‘Gotta dance….!’ Which was, of course, what I was supposed to be singing! I ran out there, but by the time I made it to stage, the number was just ending. It was hilarious, in hindsight, but I was in tears.

S.K:
Can you remember another stressed out actor treating someone appallingly during a diva moment?
Kurt:
Not really. I have seen some tantrums, but Divas don’t last long in this business. However, I have been trying to work on how I treat people when I’m stressed out or in a rush because sometimes, when I’m having a crisis I forget my manners. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and go: ‘Shoes! Shoes!’ during a quick change, but I’m working on it.

S.K:
If a friend or a fan wanted to give you a performance gift, what would you prefer over the standard chocolates and flowers?

Kurt:
Something cute that is linked to that particular show. Like if I was doing the Book of Mormon, It’s be funny to have a God-themed present. I’m allergic to some pollens though, so if I get Lillies, I can’t even be in the room as them, so people give me wine a lot.

S.K:
What kind of wine would you like?

Kurt:
Anything from bubbles a nice bottle of red that I can keep for sentimental value, then look back at it and go: ‘Ahhh, I got this, for that show!’

S.K:
Have you ever had a ‘show-mance,’?
Kurt:
Yeah… but I’m not one of those people who seek it out, and once this someone and I kept it really quiet so people were stunned when they found out. ‘Don’t Screw The Crew,’ is a good expression, I think.

S.K:
How many long-term friends have you made during a production?

Kurt:
I find that you tend to keep two or three ones out of every production, but you almost always get along with everyone. Funnily enough, a lot of my closest friends are part of the crew- so I have a lot of muso mates.

S.K:
If you could do any show from your whole career again, what would it be?
Kurt:
Witches Of Eastwick, if it was a musical, or Tender Napalm. That was a performance art piece I did once and it was just amazing.

 

I would like to thank Kurt so much for making himself so available to the performers of Mackay, and to Joel Bow for organizing so many fantastic workshops. If you’d like to keep on track with what this shooting star is up to next, make sure you jump on and ‘like’ his Facebook page!

https://www.facebook.com/KurtPhelanAus/

And a big, fat CHOOKAS to the cast of MMCP’s Wicked! Going live next week! Only a few tickets left so get into people!

A Dreamy Evening : A Review Of Timber Dreams, Joel Bow Productions.

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Timber Dreams, the cabaret review masterminded by Joel Bow, of Joel Bow Productions, as a part of the Anywhere Mackay Festival.

The concept was simple and seamless; stage a performance of some kind in a random location- anywhere but within a theatre- and bring on the entertainment. Of course even when Joel Bow does something simple he sets the bar at extraordinary, so he enlisted not only two very talented local songbirds, Kyra Geoghegan and Molly Rossetto to take up the challenge, but he got them and pianist Sarah Rosekrans to accompany the one, the only Kurt Phelan, whom a lot of lucky or theatre-savvy folks will recognize as Johnny Castle from the Australian production of Dirty Dancing. Together, this very talented quartet performed a variety of numbers from a few different genres over two sets in the highly original setting of Porters Timber Stockyard.
I will set the scene for you now- stacks of treated timber shelved all the way to the monstrously high ceiling, soft candlelight and colored mood lighting, heavenly incense wafting through the door to mix with that lovely timber smell (my husband works in a timber yard so that scent is borderline erotic to me now, lol) an intimate but eager audience scattered around the front of a very simple, vintage-inspired stage and two very gracious hosts greeting you at the door and making sure you’re not wanting for a refreshment or five. Everything Joel does is elegant, but Timber Dreams managed to be mysterious and cozy with a hint of rustic, and I guess that is one of the many upsides to the Anywhere Festival– it takes people out of one comfort zone but then introduces them to a new and very unexpected one. With the right eye, anywhere can be romantic, and Joel Bow has that eye, all right.

The performers were beautifully dressed in gorgeous evening wear too, and they absolutely sparkled under the lights- not just on the outside but from within. Molly Rossetto is still pretty fresh out of the Conservatorium Of Music, but she has the stage presence of someone who has been doing what she has done for decades. I’m currently in the production of MMCP’s Wicked with her and have seen her perform in quite a few things over the last year, and I’ve noticed that she tends to take on a lot of very dark or intense roles, which suits her perfectly because she has an incredibly strong voice and a very high range, which is hard to find. However, I saw a lighter side of Molly last night as well and I was delighted by that. She had quite a few songs and they were incredibly catchy and cheeky, so much so that I ended up Googling them earlier this evening because I was immediately a fan, and I don’t think I was the only one absolutely enamored by the tune: ‘A Contemporary Musical Theatre Song,’ which resonates like a cheeky in-joke for Thespians and theatre goers. Molly’s voice is a big one, not unlike Adele’s, and I really enjoy how effortless she makes singing a string of big-belt numbers look. Though younger and fresher onto the the scene than Kurt Phelan and Kyra Geoghegan, Molly definitely held her own last night and then some, and I think it’s safe to say that we can expect to see a lot more of her around the region in the future.

Kyra Geoghegan is a very seasoned local performer, and one that I have had the pleasure of seeing with and woking with many times before, but I was absolutely dazzled by her rendition of ‘How Bout A Dance?’ from the musical, Bonnie & Clyde last night. It was pitch perfect and luxurious, and proved why she so often gets cast as the lead in local productions: the girl just has that quality that puts asses in seats. She has an incredible Mezzo-Soprano sound and a belt that never fails to hit the back of every room, but more than that, she has this natural gift for connecting with the songs that she’s singing and then forcing that connection on the audience too. Seriously, I don’t get how she manages to make even eyebrow movements hypnotic but she does- when Kyra’s singing, one cannot take their eyes off her face and with the right song, she’ll move you to tears. I’ve always said that Miss Geoghegan is wasted on Mackay because I know she could move people anywhere, but truth be told, I’m very grateful for the fact that she’s chosen to not only stick around Mackay to dazzle audiences, but to endeavor to pass on her many gifts to her students at Aspire Performing Arts.

And then there was Kurt Phelan, and I don’t think even I have enough words to sum up exactly what seeing a Kurt Phelan performance is like, but I’ve seen him perform three times now, and I know that I will continue to drop whatever it is I’m doing in the future to see him again. Kurt is a top shelf singer and there’s absolutely no denying that, but he is is a performer in every sense of the word and so there is never a dull moment or a lull when he’s around. If you haven’t seen one of his shows yet, you’re missing a real treat, because he knows how to make you laugh, cry, snort-giggle and drink more, and you don’t see a single drop of effort behind anything he does. The man’s just a natural charmer with exceptional comic timing, and he knows how to string songs together with a few well-worded anecdotes that are delivered in a manner that will move you from tears to laughter without a beat being missed. I enjoyed every single song he sang last night whole-heartedly, but ‘Burn for You’ was the highlight for me, and I’m a big fan of the way he interacts not only with everyone from the production team, to the audience, but the way he draws attention to his fellow performers as well, bringing credit where it’s due. Really, if you haven’t been fortunate enough to catch one of his shows yet, do yourself a favour and follow him on Facebook or Twitter so you known when he graces a Mackay stage next, and ladies, take your husband along as I did but Kurt’s sense of humour is accessible to all kinds- and it wouldn’t hurt for some of his personal style to rub off on ‘em either because the boy from Ayr can wear a suit like no one’s business!

And in the vein of bringing credit where it’s due, I must say that I’ve never seen a musician captivate a room quite the way Sarah Rozekrans does. She chooses to be off stage and often to the right of it but Sarah has as much presence in every performance she does as anyone with a microphone in the spotlight. The way her fingers fly over piano keys is stunning in itself, but like Kyra, she has a way of connecting with the music while inviting others to connect with her. She never misses a note, she always looks stunning and when she’s inviting to jump in and start singing too the audience is always wowed. Her and Kurt have a fantastic chemistry that I noticed during his performance Phelan Groovy in 2014, and I believe, a very similar sense of humour so they’re a delightful combination every single time. As satisfying as the entire show was last night, I have to admit that my favourite moment was hearing the thunderous applause that was all for Sarah because she earned every beat of that.

Timber Dreams was definitely a singular experience, and I can honestly say that there wasn’t a face in the crowd that didn’t look like they were having the time of their life (pun intended like a mother) last night. Like everything that Joel Bow has done so far, and will certainly continue to do, it was an evening of perfect harmony, class and laughter delivered in a way that was seemingly effortless even though I know just how hard the cast, Joel and his crew; Greg Sugden, Tim Philips and Leah Edwards work to deliver such beautiful illusions. Five stars from start to finish guys, thanks for doing everything you do, and so well.

Bring It On The Musical Mercy College Mackay, a review.

Seeing as how I was a cheerleader for almost ten years, I would have seen Bring It On before now, but no one’s done it in Mackay, and because I am bound by the GPS points of 4-7-4-0, I had to wait until someone brilliant like Tania Attard decided to undertake it. I’ve never seen one of Mercy College’s shows before because I’m usually too tired to move after whatever MMCP rehearsal I’ve been flattened with that week, but as soon as I found out that it was being directed by THE Tania Attard (she earned that Uppercase ‘THE’ in Hairspray for me because it’s still the best show I’ve ever seen) and starring half of the kids that I’ve seen and have come to adore on the MMCP circuit, I was sold.
So tonight I dragged my retired pom-pom waving self and my still pom-pom waving daughter along to catch the opening night performance and we both had a great time. Cheerleading isn’t a sport that’s taken very seriously but the original Bring It On movie can be credited for changing a lot of people’s attitudes towards it. In fact, since that movie debuted cheerleading has gone from being a bit of an American stereotype to a worldwide phenomenon, and although it’s still stereotyped, it’s in a more multi-layered way now. You’ve got the glitz and the ponytail whips and the sassy popular girls, but there’s true athleticism buried under all of that glitter and Hairspray (Hairrrsssppprraaayyyyy!) And it creates incredibly powerful friendships between all kinds. In addition to that, the entire sport is about to be validated for real as its being introduced into the Olympics, and that’s been a long time coming. (Spoiler alert one- The Philippines is about to wear some gold, yo!)
Bring It On The Musical is very different to Bring It On The Movie though. (Spoiler alert 2-it’s actually a lot like the third movie Bring It On 3 All or Nothing which was the best one so we good) but the stage adaption focuses less on cheerleading and more on the relationships between the squad members. You still get the cute routines performed by some incredibly skilled athletes, but you get a lot of great songs that I think teenagers are going to love. My daughter walked out going: ‘I waannnaaa beee innn thattt….’ and I’m not surprised. The songs and choreography was very modern, so there was a booty shake for every high V, which a dancer will appreciate.
The cast was full of energy, and I was incredibly impressed by a lot of the choreography and some of the skill sets that these kids had, and I’m a hard sell because I have legit seen about 1040 cheerleading performances by this point. To be honest the moves aren’t quite as gravity defying (I’m in a theatre-pun mood so excuse me) as in the movie and I’m grateful that they weren’t because when I walked in I started eyeing the lighting-scaffolding warily lest a baskettoss should go awry (I speak from gymnasium ceiling fan experience), but the director and choreographer have managed to create two incredible cheerleading teams out of one high school cast and I appreciate what a feat that is. I got the impression that there were a few cases of opening night nerves and a few technical glitches, but I daresay they’ll be nonexistent tomorrow night and really, these kids pulled off a cracker of a show. Whoever handled the lighting/staging concept was incredibly inspired- the experience was not that different to being in the MECC.
As I’ve mentioned before, there were quite a few very small but very seasoned actors within the cast and to me they shone like absolute stars tonight. But the great thing about this show is that it gave everyone something wonderful to do- some moment to stand out. Of course your eye goes to the leading lady because she has to be on from start to finish and played her role perfectly, but the script grants every cast member the chance to pull focus or switch it up. There was no good guys vs bad guy feels being pushed onto the audience, because the antagonist was just a little bucket of adorable too, and I really appreciate that because to me, it helped encouraged healthy competition without hate and that is such an important lesson for teens today to get. In the same vein, I won’t go naming a lot of names with people so young, but the parrot (lorikeet?), the rappers, (good grief I almost laughed my way under my seat) and the sassy misses heading the Jackson Crew stole the show for me tonight. And some of the athletic skills that were rolled out in the finale had me, well…cheering. Ten spirit fingers go to the little leaper, the girl that pulled the bow and arrow and the vocal stylings of Georgia Attard, who I cannot help but name because I think everyone’s going to know it soon enough! And as far as superstars go, hats off to the typically-unappreciated person who slaved over the programs because they were AMAZING. Whoever did those deserves a bow of their own at the end! But you cannot walk away from this particular production without knowing that every single person involved gave 150% of themselves in the end, especially the director who never ceases to amaze me.

Bring It On The Musical will be on tomorrow night and Saturday night at Mercy College, and you don’t want to miss your chance to either get your teen to go on with you as a mother daughter date like I did, or con them into going as a group because it will be a fantastic night out that’ll have all that see it feeling uplifted after.

Tickets can be bought over the phone or at Mercy College and are a great price, so make sure you take some time out to be entertained!

Complete PNR Trilogy For Free!

I’m giving away all three books in my Kissed By A Muse Series, on Amazon Kindle today! A heavenly wicked romance with a mythological twist and steamy but sentimental undertones! A must-read for those who are looking for a highly original concept, or are in need of a new book boyfriend!

‘This book reads how music feels,’ Amazon Reviewer