February 8, 2003 -- One Year, and Still Hanging On

Hi everyone:

For those of you who keep track of such things, today marks the first anniversary of my eastward migration. What a year it's been. Here I am, a struggling actor in New York. I still can't believe I'm actually here.

Right now, it's quite wintery in New York. We had four inches of snow last night, and Titus is in heaven when he romps through the drifts and gobbles fresh snow like it's fresh beef. Despite the cold (and the slowness of traffic in general), New York is great in wintertime. I must admit, though, that I'm very anxious for spring to arrive.

The number one priority in my life at the moment is auditioning. There are LOTS of calls, believe it or not. I'm averaging two a week, for everything from Broadway choruses to principal roles in such far-flung places as Tennessee and Nebraska. Plus, I auditioned for the Public Theater a few weeks ago a truly intimidating experience. Who wouldn't feel self-conscious auditioning there, given its amazing history?

Auditioning in New York is quite humbling, as you can imagine. There are always TONS of people there, and it seems like everyone can act, sing and dance SOOO much better than I can. It's pretty daunting, I must say. Yet here I am, pushing forward. I'm really getting the hang of it though, and my nervousness factor gets lower with each audition. Hopefully one day it'll all pay off ("It should happen, it should only happen, God, let it happen to ME!").

Just a few weeks ago, I finished my first term at the HB Studio, where I learned quite a bit most notably, how much I still need to learn. Most especially, I was confronted with a grim reality in just about every class I took: I have a tendency to hide behind a fake "performance" style, rather than revealing my true self which, as any successful actor or teacher will tell you, is VITAL to creating a believable performance. I can picture several of you nodding and saying, "Yep, that's Michael alright". Funny, I guess I always knew this to be the case, but I'm having quite a lot of trouble assimilating this concept. I guess it's fear although I'm not sure of exactly what.

The absolute highlight of the year was the school's production of "Nora", which ran in mid-January. I'm still amazed that I, a total newcomer and unknown, got the lead part. The show went VERY well, and it now occupies the top spot on my resume.

For the spring term, I'll be taking one basic acting technique class, plus I'll be continuing my singing classes with Helen Gallagher. I've also found an EXCELLENT place to take dance classes: The Broadway Dance Center (www.broadwaydancecenter.com), which can only be described as a dance cafeteria. They offer every kind of dance style possible, at every level, from absolute beginner to uber-advanced. I highly recommend it it's SO easy to find just what you need.

Day-job-wise, I'm hoping to get back on the schedule at the bank I was working at for most of last year. As you probably know, jobs are scarce these days, so I'm holding my breath on this one. I have every reason to be hopeful that I'll get back in, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I can't wait to get my hands on my bird (stop that sniggering back there!).

My little co-op on the Upper East Side is still lacking a decent paint job, and the windows are still unfinished. Now that school is over, maybe I'll get myself motivated to put some time into my home. Maybe I'll get a painting party together one of these days. Maybe I'll teach Titus how to use sandpaper. :)

My favorite places to hang out these days are piano bars and thank God there are quite a few good ones in New York. There's the Stonewall Bistro in the West Village (although it still hasn't really caught on), Rose's Turn (almost impossible to get a seat OR a spot in the lineup VERY competitive), Don't Tell Mama (always a nice crowd, always easy to get a spot in the lineup), and Brandy's (very close to my home, a very relaxed atmosphere). These are GREAT places to meet people, and of course to keep one's vocal chops in shape.

And of course, there are always shows to see. Recently I saw "Medea" (a very enthralling but truly disturbing production starring Fiona Shaw), "Art Life and Showbiz" (a biographical retrospective featuring three showbiz veterans, including my singing instructor Helen Gallagher), and, most notably, "Take Me Out" (an EXCELLENT new play about a promising young baseball player who comes out of the closet). Be sure to catch this one if you can.

That's about the size of things. I sure do hope that some day soon, I can release the good news that I'm actually once again employed as an actor. Until then, it's audition, audition, and audition yet again plus acting class, singing class, dancing class.

I hope you'll come and visit me soon. I'd love to have guests.

Here's hoping everything is well with you. Stay in touch!

Michael