It's been a joyous time in Amish Country!
After closing The Confession on November 4, we had a quick 4 day turnaround before we opened Our Christmas Dinner on November 9. You heard that right. Four days.
But, we did it! We're champions!
The show is a 90-minute romp filled with lots of Christmas caroling, gorgeous original music, bright lights and shiny tinsel. Even though we have a lot of "two-show days," the show is totally fun and I never feel exhausted!
I get to play Mrs. Sadie Miller, a rather spunky Amish lady with a mind of her own. She speaks her mind... sometimes to her own detriment... but you gotta love her.
It's hard to believe there are only 10 performances left before we all head home for Christmas and beyond. I'm so very grateful to Wally Nason, Dan Posthuma, and the whole team here at Ohio Star Theater for the fantastic autumn adventure.
It's hard to believe we are already halfway through our run of The Confession with Blue Gate Musicals! The show is now playing through November 4 at the Ohio Star Theater in Sugarcreek, Ohio.
If you aren't familiar with The Confession, it is the captivating journey of a young Amish woman who is caught in the middle of secrets, scandal, love lost and love found, and personal heartache and healing. I play a New York actress (Alyson) who poses as a "Plain" woman (complete with a fake Amish dress and bonnet) in a devilish scheme for money. Madness ensues.
There truly is "something 'bout a life that's plain." It's such a treat being back in Amish Country after spending five months in Shipshewana, IN, last summer for the world premiere of The Home Game. But, this time, I'm experiencing my first stint in Ohio. And, *bonus*, we are a few minutes from a winery, a short drive from the nearest Starbucks and Chipotle, and only a couple hours in different directions to big cities like Columbus, Cleveland, Akron/Canton, and Pittsburgh, PA.
And to top it all off, I get to experience my first Midwestern fall in almost EIGHT YEARS. I've spent most every autumn in the sunny (and hot) Sarasota, FL, for the past decade and I'm already looking forward to the leaves changing, the brisk mornings, and pumpkin-everything. Maybe I'll even go to my first corn maze? Pick apples from an orchard? The opportunities are endless.
Following The Confession, I'll be staying on for Our Christmas Dinner as Sadie, an outspoken Amish woman. Looking forward to it!
Once upon a time - in a far off kingdom - there was a Kansas girl returning to McLeod Summer Playhouse in Carbondale, IL, to embark on a brand new adventure.
This adventure included being the Artistic Associate for the season... assistant directing, assistant choreographing, dance captain, AND acting.... what a whirlwind it has been!
We started with the Theatre for Young Audiences production of Pinkalicious the Musical, where I played the role of Mrs. Pinkerton. Pinkalicious played on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the season in the Moe Theater - an intimate 100-seat blackbox filled to the brim with excited audiences of children and the "young at heart." I loved working alongside director Wes Drummond, getting to assist in choreography for the Dancing Cupcakes dream sequence and "Buzz Off!"
Pink is joy. Pink is laughter. Pink is love!
Then, we jumped head first into rehearsals for Sondheim's Into the Woods, where in addition to my role as the assistant director, I strapped on the boots of The Baker's Wife. And what a role it was! My favorite moment (pun intended) of the entire show was when I had a brief encounter with a charming prince for a Moment in the Woods, and got to sing and act my way through one of the most poignant, witty, and meaningful song I have ever gotten to sing.
Let the moment go... don't forget it for a moment though.
Following Woods, I slipped into my habit and grabbed my rosary to play Sister Mary-Martin-of-Tours in a flashy and fun production of Sister Act! On top of that, I was the assistant director to J. Thomas Kidd and dance captain for choreographer Darryl Kent Clark.
Did the smoke change color? Do we have a new Pope?
While Sister Act was in performances, I joined Wes Drummond in rehearsals for a very special production of Singin' in the Rain. Every year, the All-Southern Illinois High School Theater Project (ASHSTP), produced by McLeod Summer Playhouse (MSP) and Carbondale Community Arts, presents a musical performed entirely by Southern Illinois high school students. But, it's not like any other high school production... it utilizes MSP's stage, professional staff, directors, and designers.
Rehearsals have been going great! When the director suddenly got ill, I got to step into his shoes for a few days and run rehearsals entirely by myself. It was an enriching learning experience - a mixture of teaching, directing, choreographing, leading, and learning. The show opens this upcoming weekend, July 27-30, and I can't wait to see it all come together.
A couple months ago, I announced that I would be returning to McLeod Summer Playhouse for the summer season.
While this is still true (!!!) and I'm so thrilled, they had a little bit of a change-up in their show line-up. Instead of doing Grease! I will now be working on one of my most beloved shows... Into the Woods. (!!!!!!!!)
And the kicker? I'll be playing a bucket-list role... The Baker's Wife. Honestly can't believe I get to tackle this incredible role! You may recall that I previously played The Stepmother with TheatreZone in Naples, FL during the 2016 season.
Endlessly grateful for the opportunity. Many thanks to Wes Drummond, Tom Kidd, and the entire MSP staff. Now, let's go into the woods to get the thing that makes it worth the journeying.
I had a killer time working with the Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer crew again for Episode 4 (and some scenes from Episode 5) on a whirlwind trip to Florida.
Not to give anything away, but we got to film in a variety of locations - including our regular "Shi-Tech" office, a dimly lit restaurant, on-stage at a dinner theater, and in front of Barry's house. (Praise the weather gods for a gorgeous late afternoon of filming outside!)
Every time I get to step back into Annie's shoes, it's a joy! Well, I should rephrase that... I actually never wear shoes on set. My feet have yet to grace the screen, so why wear uncomfortable flats or heels? But, either way, playing Annie Parker is such a blast -- and this episode, I got to meet and work with some characters I haven't had the chance to share the screen with!
Which characters, you ask? You'll have to wait until it airs on Amazon Prime to see! Catch up on Episodes 1-3 here: https://www.amazon.com/Barry-Baker-Aspiring-Serial-Killer/dp/B01MTKX2X9
Have you been watching Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer on Amazon Prime? Well, if you haven't... WHY NOT? And if you have, then don't forget that you can now stream Episode 3!
Watch now! All you need is an Amazon Prime membership and you can stream for free.
I'll be back in Florida to film Episodes 4 and 5 at the end of April and mid-May... so be on the look-out for more behind-the-scenes fun.
2017 is off to an amazing start with GEORGE M! at TheatreZone in January, then CRAZY FOR YOU at Venice Theatre in February and March... and then...
I'll be returning to McLeod Summer Playhouse in Carbondale, IL for the 2017 Summer Season as the Artistic Associate (!!!). What does that mean? In addition to being in the casts of PINKALICIOUS, GREASE, and SISTER ACT, I'll also be the assistant director and assistant choreographer/dance captain for the season. I couldn't be more grateful for this opportunity, as it takes me further on my journey to be a director. HUGE thanks to Wes Drummond and Thomas Kidd at MSP for this exciting opportunity to learn, grow, and create.
I'll be performing as:
THEN, I'll be off to Sugar Creek, Ohio to join the cast of THE CONFESSION with Blue Gate Musicals as Alyson. I had such a wonderful experience working with Blue Gate in 2016 on the World Premiere of THE HOME GAME, and I am thrilled to work with them again - this time in a different venue. I'll also get to be one of the first casts to perform in the brand new OHIO STAR THEATER, which is a beautiful new 500+ seat proscenium.
The show runs August 29 - November 4, 2017. More info here!
Looking forward to many more adventures with two AMAZING companies that have so graciously asked me back. I can't wait to work with old friends and make new ones... and continue to grow as an artist. Let's do this!
Playing Polly Baker is a dream come true. I get to sing the most beautiful Gershwin tunes (including, arguably, the best song ever written: "Someone To Watch Over Me"), dance some of the most intricate and gorgeous choreography, and play a character that fits me like a glove.
Who could ask for anything more?
I also get to play opposite one of my favorites, Charles Logan, as Bobby Child. We just worked together in George M! at TheatreZone in January... so, it couldn't be more perfect.
For those who aren't familiar with this beautiful musical, here's a little recap: Crazy For You won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical and Best Choreography back in 1992. Playwright Ken Ludwig’s mad-cap script pairs perfectly with the Gershwin brothers’ musical magic to create an old-fashioned Broadway romance reminiscent of the old 1930s musicals. Theatergoers can expect to hear iconic songs such as "Someone to Watch Over Me", "Embraceable You," "I Got Rhythm," "They Can't Take That Away from Me," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," and many more. Bursting also with big tap numbers and romantic ballroom dancing that advance the story and songs, Crazy For You is a triple-threat of a musical.
Crazy For You opens on Venice Theatre’s MainStage Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 and will run through Sunday, March 19. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays March 4 and 11 at 2 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $34 for adults, $17 for college students and $15 for children and teens through 12th grade. They are available online at www.venicestage.com or by calling the box office at 941-488-1115.
With only 9 rehearsals under our belt, we opened George M! at TheatreZone in Naples, FL... and boy, what a joyous journey it's been!
To be completely honest, I had no idea who George M. Cohan was. Shame on me and my limited musical theater history knowledge. Come to find out, George M. Cohan was the father of musical theater as we know it today. His verve and tenacity brought countless songs and musicals to the Broadway stage that I feel is so important for every actor to recognize.
A truly ensemble show, this show goes by in the blink of an eye. As George M says himself - speed! lights! music! - the pace is key. The ensemble is on stage and off and back on again until the final notes of the orchestra. It's a blast! I get to play a few bit parts (Madame Grimaldi and Ma Templeton), tap dance to Yankee Doodle Dandy, and have a handful of other fun features.
We run through Sunday, January 22, 2017, and then it's on to the next project. More info here --> http://www.theatrezone-florida.com/current_season.html
2016 was a big year, you guys. It's hard for me to even reflect on all the wonderful, weird, heartbreaking, heart-fluttering, and quite honestly, life-changing moments I had. Besides the fact that I turned 30 (and boy, does it feel great!) and entered a new decade, I also grew artistically and made leaps and bounds in my career.
I became EMC (Equity Membership Candidate) by doing INTO THE WOODS at TheatreZone. I got to play a role that fit me like a glove: SHEILA in A CHORUS LINE with many of my best friends. I originated my first ever role in a musical with Blue Gate Restaurant & Theatre AND got to record the cast album in Nashville. I performed THE HOME GAME 100 times. Yes. One hundred times. I also assistant directed my first film (50 Words) and assistant directed my first musical (Sweet Charity). Also, the web series I'm involved in (Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer) was released on Amazon Prime and I got to film more episodes with the incredible team.
And not only am I proud of all these accomplishments that I've made as a working actor, I'm so grateful for all the people that have helped to push me, inspire me, teach me, and grow with me along the way. I am beyond thankful for each and every person that I've worked with and played with on this journey. In 2017, I hope to create more. Read more. Learn more. Grow more. Let's do this!
Danae DeShazer is an actress, singer, and dancer living in Sarasota, FL.