Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer's Over Update

Okay, well as you know, summer is over. And as most of you already know, that means a BIG part of my year is done with. Yes, I had another great summer at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji, MN! Another summer, another 5 shows. Here's what happened:

Forever Plaid

the Plaids: Sparky, Smudge, Jinx, and Frankie

A small musical, but one of the best shows of the season. These four guys were in a car accident and died the night they were on the way to their first big gig. Now, they get to come back to earth to do the show they would have done that night. If you like music from the 50's and 60's, you would have loved this musical. It was pure fun! I really learned to love the music, and for a lot of our crowds, they were old favorites. It wasn't that hard a show to put up technically, but there were some fun challenges. The best part (other than the amazing vocals from our PBP star cast) was the lighting. We had a new designer this year for 2 shows, and he was wonderful. Considering our limited lighting ability in the space, he really made some WOW moments in the show. The reveal for the finally was amazing. Here:

"Rags to Riches/Shangri-La"

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The "Mechanicals" check to see if the Moon doth shine the night of the wedding.

This show was an unexpected gamble. Zach wanted to do one Shakespeare show before he left PBP, so he chose this one after last season. Little did he know at the time that the Theatre Dept @ BSU also chose to do that show for its season. Not only that, but somehow they both managed to try and do it the same way: steampunk. Well, Zach found out too late to change the show, but we were able to change the concept. So on top of those problems, we also had MN government shut down. That really hurt local businesses, and the Playhouse was no exception. Bemidji is such a tourist town in the summer, and a lot of our audiences just weren't there because of the shut-down. It didn't help that a lot of Bemidji had already seen the show this year, and also: Shakespeare and Bemdiji summer stock don't mix that well. Attendence wasn't terrible, but it was low compared to other shows. Still, it was an interesting show. We decided that the lovers would be regular modern, albeit a little romanticized. We also took out a bit of the slapstick with them. They were more serious. The fairies were straight punk - which made for some fun with the lighting. But the best part (by far) was the mechanicals. They decided the actors would essentially play themselves - as a PBP company. So, we had some fun re-writes, and threw in a lot of local humor. It was wonderful! Best prop of the show: light up flowers (see below)

Oberon enchants Titania with "Love-in-Idleness"

Lend Me a Tenor

"Italian bastard!" - the Opera Manager lets out some anger on the "dead" tenor

This one was pure fun! A true Farce! The great tenor, Tito Merelli is set to make his american debut performing "Otello" at the Cleveland Opera Company. But after an accidental overdose, the company gofer and aspiring singer gets roped into impersonating Tito onstage to save the company. Mistaken identities ensue, and well, you have to see it to appreciate it. My sides ached from laughing less then 15 minutes into the show. It was a hit!

the Otellos take a rest

21A by Kevin Kling

Ron, the bus driver of 21A

A one-man show written by a famous MN storyteller, starring PBP's own Artistic Director, Zach Curtis. This show was wonderful! The story takes place in the span of 15 minutes one autumn day on the MN busline. Told from the viewpoints of 8 of its passengers. I can't even begin to say how amazing this show was. Acting was phenomenal. The Set was simple, but gorgeous, with a fantastic cut-out of the Twin Cities skyline. So many favorite moments, so many great characters. Ron, the bus driver' Gladys, an old-lady; Chairman Francis from the Church of Democratic Progression; a Student; Not-Dave, no matter what anyone else says; Captain Twelvepack, a brand-new drunk; steve, Steve's invisible best friend; and Man with a gun.

Captain Twelvepack speaking to Not-Dave

The Full Monty

"It's a Woman's World!"

"God Bless their little g-strings!" Yeah, that's right. We finished the season with the musical of The Full Monty! What a show! Like the movie, only moved to Buffalo, NY in the 1980s, the show is about a group of umemployed steel workers who get the idea to strip to make some much needed cash. We thought the mostly conservative crowds would be a little apprehensive about this show, but Bemidji crowds LOVED this show. The women showed up in droves, and by the end of the evening, even the men were cheering for the characters to take it all off and bear their all. It was amazing!! By far the most challenging show of the season, but when all was finally done, it was worth it. And boy, did we get glowing reviews from the audiences!

"Let It Go" The men of Hot Metal

All in all, it was a great summer, and as this was the last season with Zach Curtis as the Artistic Director, it is likely that it will be the last year for me as well as the rest of the crew. I will miss all of them terribly, but I can look back at all I have done in the past 6 years and be proud of how much I have grown and how much I have learned. I haven't completely given up on PBP yet. I am planning on submitting my resume and a sample of my work to next season's Artistic Director for his consideration. I would like to come back as Production Stage Manager. It would be ambitious, but I figure that it is worth the try.

As for now. Well, here goes the rest of the update.

Ahren and I couldn't find a place in Bemidji that suited our needs to rent, so he asked me to move in with him. He lives in a trailer on his parent's farm. Not ideal, but not bad either. It's a camper more than a trailer. No working water or stove, so we're kinda limited. We use the bathroom and bake if we need in his parent's place. It sounds a lot worse than it is. They are wonderful people, so I don't mind it much at all. I got a cat out of it too. Ahren has a cat named Mittens, and while I like her, we're kinda butting heads a little. She doesn't think too much of me unless it is early morning and she wants to cuddle. Let me show you what I mean:

this is the look she gives me when Ahren is around

this is the look she gives me the rest of the time - ha!

Actually, we are looking into getting something else. There is a bigger trailer and a cabin that we looked at the other day. If the bank gives us an "okay" we might be looking at financing one of them. The trailer is cheap, but it needs a lot of work because of water damage. The cabin is from an old resort, so it is small and a little retro. It's been sitting empty for a while, so it really needs some TLC, but despite all of that, I kinda like it. So, we're looking at options.

Bad news: I am looking for a job again. I won't go into details, but I made a stupid mistake at Luekens and they let me go. Boo. I kinda liked it there, but the more that I think about it, the more it seems like it was best for me to go. What do I mean? Well, with the move, it made driving to Bemidji a 45min drive, and that just costs too much right now. So I'm trying to keep looking on the bright side of things. I'm looking around the area for jobs, nothing big yet, but I just put an App in for a position in a fabric company in a town not far from here, so I'm hoping that will go well.

On to better news: Ahren got a new job! He started looking for something else the moment Luekens started screwing around with him after he got sick. (Long story.) He heard about a mill in Kelliher that was looking for people, so he turned in an application and they contacted him right away with a job offer! He's loving it so far. The company essentially cuts wood for various crates/packing material, so he gets to come home covered with sawdust everyday. He smells great after a day of work :D He really likes it, and the pay is better, and it is closer, so he couldn't really pass up an oppurtunity like that. We're both loving his work hours 7-3:15, and he gets weekends off and paid holidays! He was working 6-2:15 (summer hours), which made for some early mornings, but neither of us minded so much. While I am not working, I am really enjoying playing housewife. I make his lunch every morning and when he feels like eating dinner we make it together (thank goodness for an electric skillet, microwave, and slow cooker!). On weekends we work on the trailer, cleaning and organizing and doing the week's laundry. We plan out our meals weekly, do grocery shopping together, and all sorts of everyday things. I LOVE IT!

Not much more to report. Now for the fun part: PICTURES! (Hey, I have to do something with my free time.) We've been having some fun exploring the area. I also got some pictures of his siblings and other random things. Enjoy! Ahren out at a local abandoned playground




flower in the pocket

Rosie Flower Face

More from the abandoned playground

Last but not least, I leave you with this picture of the McGriff men at work

Have a good day everyone!

love and kisses,


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm Poor, but I Wanna Get Married! Getting started

So, this part of my blog will be dedicated to what it will take to have a wedding on a fairly non-existent budget. What do I mean, non-existent budget? Well, I'm glad you asked. All the bridal magazines I have ever read have said that the first thing you need to do is set a budget.
Trust me, I would love to set a budget ... but #1: I have no idea where to begin. I don't know how much it costs to get a hall for a reception, or an average cost of a photographer. I don't know what cheap options there are out there. I certainly know the expensive ones - all I have to do is go on to WeTV and watch a couple of their bridal shows and watch for five minutes to know what a lot of money can do. Just so we're clear, I am not knocking the likes of 'My Fair Wedding' or 'Platinum Brides' - I LOVE those shows! In fact. I wish they would make another one: 'How the Real World Weds' Now that would be a show I could learn a LOT from. And #2: I have no clue what I can put into this wedding. My savings is in the double digits, my fiance and I come from mid-to-low-income families, and we both have low-to-mid-income jobs. But what we do have is LOVE.

That's right, this is not going to be all doom and gloom about how I can't afford the wedding I want. This is NOT what these entries are going to be about. This is about how we can have the wedding of our streamlined dreams without running to the courthouse for a quickie and on with the rest of our lives. The Courthouse is an option for most people, and if that is how you want to do it, I say, go ahead. But Ahren, my fiance, and I feel it is very important to have our family and friends there for us on that day. I desperately want my Dad to walk me down the aisle, and I want to look out and see the most important people in our lives witnessing Ahren and I bond our lives together. So, we keep that in mind as our No. 1. At the end of that day, I don't care if people go home talking about the decor or the food. I want them to think about how much Ahren and I love each other. That's the goal.

So, we're going to cut a lot of corners, do a lot of things ourselves, and shave off a lot of fat, so to speak.

Here's what we have so far in regards to the wedding:
* We're going for simple, practical, chic
* lots of DIY, and eco-friendly (no so sure about this last one, but we're going to try)
* Colors: green and purple
* very country, crafty, antique, homemade

With this in mind, I will say this: Ahren and I know a lot of talented individuals. If I ask, I might be able to get some of them to help out with the wedding. I'm incredibly grateful for this. My only problem is that I have a hard time asking people for favors. I don't want to take advantage of them. But this is something I NEED to get over. Small struggle, comparatively.

Enough for now. We'll tackle more later. Until then I just have to keep my head somewhere between the clouds and the ground.

I'm Tired of Trying, and intro to: I'm Poor, but I Wanna Get Married!

Just a quick update on everything before I get to the title stuff:
Playhouse: Good; although audience attendance has been lower this summer. Thanks in part to MN government. Tourist rates are way down, ask any retailer, so down goes audience numbers too. But the shows have been great. Bumps along the way as always, but overall good. 'The Full Monty' is showing now, and we've got AMAZING reviews :D
Other: still find myself at the end of the summer season with next to no money and no place to live. I do still have a job at Luekens, thank God, and I do have a backup place to live (with Ahren) until we can find/afford something in Bemdiji. Still searching, but nothing yet :S Getting VERY worried.
Ahren: He's amazing. He had a bad bout with, not one, but three, illnesses and an enlarged spleen. Still recovering, but he has an appointment scheduled to see if he can return to his regular work soon. Fingers crossed.
On to the rest:

First thing, I don't want to whine, but I am so tired of trying SO HARD to be one of the cool kids. I know, I know, I shouldn't try to be anything I am not, and just embrace myself as I am. Well, that is true. I don't want to not be who I am, but I would like to be included now and then. Feel like one of the crowd, apart of the gang. Actually, no, I take that back. I am apart of the Gang; I'm just that kid that no one likes very much in the crowd. This isn't to say that I want to be the center of attention or anything. I certainly don't want that, I couldn't handle that. I don't have the chops or the personality for that. Maybe that's it. Maybe I have to have the overwhelming personality like so many of the people I see around me. Maybe; I don't know. Did I miss that day in school? Why am I such an idiot? WHY can't I be cool?!?! Maybe I am asking too much. I don't know. I would be completely downtrodden by this if it weren't for Ahren. He's my savior. I don't have to try so hard with him. Its natural. He feels the same way about me. Before we had each other, we felt so out of place in the world. You can have a lot of friends and a great family, but you can still be an outsider. That's me - and that was him. He says that with me, he finally feels like a somebody. I understand exactly how he feels. But now, he is more than a Somebody - he is my Everything. My best friend, my Soul Mate ...

You'll have to pardon me, I'm emotional. That time, you know ;I I go through this all the time. My hormones take me on a wild journey of emotions. Ahren takes it all in stride, thank God. It's really nice actually. Now I have someone to hold my hand when I hear a sad song on the radio and the tears flow. I have someone to join in when I'm on the up and up, and he lets my mind just go wherever it wants. He seems to enjoy some of it, actually. God, I love him!

Speaking of all things Ahren:

Wedding. We picked a date: Sept. 14, 2012!

We've got a little over a year before it happens, but to be honest, I have no idea how we are going to make this happen. I have to vent a little frustrations right now, if you don't mind. Skip on down if you don't want to hear about any of this. (Sorry folks, this is my therapy): So, we've got no money, no prospect of saving a lot, no chance of winning the lottery. We both come from mid to low income families, and we both have low to mid income jobs. I have a HUGE stack of bills and cranky creditors. But amid all of this, Ahren and I have found each other, and we want to get married. WHAT DO WE DO?!?! We could elope ... but no, that costs money. We could just go to the courthouse - but NO, having our family and friends there is INCREDIBLY important to us. So ... well, we're going for an actual wedding. Only problem is: we have to majorly skimp on EVERYTHING. We're realistic and practical, so we don't want anything extravagant, but the line between standard and extravagnat is now in question. The most important thing on that day is that we get married. Everything else is going to have to be extra. My only worry is that I will be shorting our guests.

So how are we going to do this? One day at a time ;) I might have a few venting sessions occassionally, but above everything else, I am just so glad that I found someone who wants to share the rest of their life with me! I am SO BLESSED! I may not be much, and I may not have much in this world, but someone loves me :D

Any subsequent blogs with the 'I'm Poor, but I Want to get Married' are going to be about me figuring out how to do things on a low, low, low budget. So low, that we can't even create a budget. Read the next part for more information!