Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Erin takes on Cue & A

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Playbill.com has a series of interviews they do with well known theater performers, so I thought I would take on the same questions! Here are my responses:

Full given name: Erin Quinn Cronican

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Zodiac Sign: Scorpio, baby!

Audition song: “Will He Like Me“ from She Loves Me.

Special Skills: Naming the 50 US States alphabetically in less than 30 seconds.

First Broadway show ever saw: Noises Off. ADORE Faith Prince in any role!

First West End show: Jesus Christ Superstar. Ah-mazing.

If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?: Original cast of West Side Story.

Current show you have been recommending to friends: Rock of Ages. C’mon, I’m a child of 80s/90s hair metal.

Favorite show tune: Egads, how the hell can I narrow that down? I know, I’ll check my iPod’s play count... Winner is ”Still Hurting“ from The Last Five Years. Hmm... that can’t possibly mean anything.

The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: When I saw Jesus Christ Superstar in London. It was magical.

MAC or PC?: I’m a Mac user from way back (thanks, Brent!) I have 2 laptops, an Apple TV, iPhone and an iPod.

Most played song on your iPod: Non-musical is ”Morning Song“ by Jewel.

Web obsession: Statcounter - where I can see what brings people to my websites and what pages they visit. Yes, I am a super geek.

Last book you read: Just finished ”The Last Picture Show“ and am starting Eckhart Tolle’s ”A New Earth.“

Must-see TV show: ”Fringe.“ Holy bejeezus, that’s a good show.

Performer you would drop everything to go see: Bernadette Peters

Pop culture guilty pleasure: COPS (filmed live on location with the men & women of law enforcement!)

First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Well, technically they were the Disney records I listened to as a young child. But the first cassette tape I bought was Whitney Houston’s self titled album.

First stage kiss:         Hmmm... probably ”South Pacific“ in high school.

Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Definitely Gloria in ”Wait Until Dark“ - I got to throw all kind of pots, pans, silverware, plates
and made a mess on stage. Brilliant.

Favorite pre-show/post-show meal: Pre-show - coffee. Post-show - buffalo wings

Pre-show rituals: I always get to the theater super early, read through my script & warm up, and then sit in the theater and think.

Worst costume ever: My first ever play at the age of 9 - ”Charlotte’s Web.“ I was the Gander and had my first experiences with spirit gum... on my chin (for the beak!)

Who would play you in the movie?: Naomi Watts on my dramatic days, Amy Adams on my quirky days.

Worst job you ever had: Working as a personal assistant for a crazy woman. I actually did that twice -- never again.

Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Amalia in She Loves Me or Glinda in Wicked. I also have always wanted to play Sandy in Grease.

Favorite team/athlete: San Diego Padres!!!! Keep the faith!

How you got your Equity card: Good story. At holiday time in 2000, I was out with some friends looking at Christmas lights and we decided to stop by a restaurant to get something warm to drink (which, looking back, is silly because I lived in San Diego and it was probably 60 degrees.) While there, a man I’d never met pointed at me and said, ”You - are you a member of Equity?“ I said no, and he scoffed, saying that he needed someone ”just like me“ for a gig at the San Diego Repertory Theater. He said, ”I don’t even know if you can act, but you look perfect.“ I reminded him that he could, in fact, audition me and then offer me my card, but he said he did not want to have to Taft-Hartley anyone into the union. So, I smiled and gave him my business card, and told him to call me if he changed his mind. A month later I received an audition appointment, and 2 weeks later the role (and my card) was mine.

Worst onstage mishap: Egads, there have been so many. Probably my biggest lesson was to avoid eating a huge meal before I go onstage, especially in a musical. When I did the national tour of Suds, one of the venues was a casino and we got the ”all you can eat buffet“ added to our contract. My character has to do a dance that ends up with her body upside down (vertically!) in a washing machine, being ”agitated.” I nearly barfed up a lung in that performance. Never. Again.

TV or commercial gig you most enjoyed: Shooting my very first episode of “Veronica Mars.” Being on my first network TV set was magical.

Three things you can't live without: My dog, contact lenses, and my iPhone.

Artist you would most love to work with: Raul Esparza

I’ll never understand why…”: People let others determine their destiny.

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit http://www.erincronican.com.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Journey Back to the South Pacific

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As most theater folks know, August marked two landmark events - the closing of the amazing Broadway production of “South Pacific,” as well as the live broadcast of the show on PBS’s “Live at Lincoln Center.” Many actors my age have a long history with the show, and I am no exception. I’ve done it twice, and prior to watching the PBS broadcast I thought it was 2 times too many.

I first did South Pacific when I was a senior in high school. From the beginning, it was wrought with drama. First off, just prior to auditions I somehow contracted chicken pox, even though I had had chicken pox in 3rd grade. I mean, c’mon- you’re only supposed to get that once! The day before auditions I was still contagious, because I still had these pesky little blisters all over my body. “When will I stop being contagious???” I asked my mother. “When you no longer have blisters,” she said. Hmmmm.... being ever resourceful, and even more determined to make it to the auditions, that evening I painstakingly popped all of the blisters. ALL OF THEM. The next morning, I presented myself to my mother, blister free, and she had no choice but to let me go to school, and to the audition. Little did I know, popping chicken pox leaves pretty deep scars. So, each time I look in the mirror I see evidence of how passionate I am about this business. :)

The audition went well...but not well enough. Despite starring in almost every show at school, this time I was cast as the offstage understudy (meaning: I didn’t even get to be in the show.) It was devastating. I spent 1.5 months sitting at rehearsals watching someone else play the role I was dying to play. But I have already given away the ending - I did end up playing the role. The original actress got a part in another production off campus, and with only a couple of weeks before opening I was offered the leading role. It was an understudy’s dream come true!
That's right- my natural hair color is brown!
The show was great- I got some fun reviews in the local paper, and I got my first taste of leading a major musical. But the themes of the show didn’t really resonate with 17 year old me ... and my fellow actors and I started calling the show “So Pathetic.” I swore that I would never, ever do the show again.

Fast forward 13 years and I was approached to audition for the show again. This time, I had no chance at the leading role because the role had already been cast. But I had been dying to work with this director so I was happy to take on the role of a nurse. Of course, throughout the rehearsal process I sat watching the leads rehearse and thought, “Man, I wish that were me!” I have an amazing memory for dialogue, so I would unconsciously mouth the words as our Nellie went through her scene work, remembering what it had been like to deliver those same lines so many years earlier.

Can you spot me? Remember that I used to be a brunette!
During our last tech rehearsal, the day before we brought in the full orchestra, I noticed that the production staff was huddled in the corner with worried looks on their faces. They were talking in hushed voices and looking around the room nervously. I saw the director look my direction, and when her eyes locked with mine a look crossed her face as though a light bulb went off. It wasn’t long before she called me over, and explained what the hub-bub was about. The actress playing the lead role of Nellie had unexpectedly left town - her father had fallen ill and she asked to be released from the show until his prognosis improved -- which could take hours, days or weeks. Trouble was, we were opening in 4 days (with an invited dress in 3 days) and the production did not employ understudies. They were in danger of closing the production unless they could find someone to temporarily cover Nellie... and quickly. So... why was I called over? Well, the director remembered that I had played the role before and she thought I would be the perfect person to bail them out of this sticky situation. And, of course, I said yes.

My first rehearsal as Nellie was the full orchestra rehearsal. The most nerve-wracking part of it was not the actual singing of material - that was easy. It was walking onto the stage, grabbing the microphone and dealing with the incredulous stares of the other principal actors... because the director had not yet made an announcement that the lead actor was out of town! So, it was quite awkward to stand there with these actors, with whom I had never rehearsed, while they wondered what the heck I was doing there. Once that was ironed out, singing through the show with the orchestra was thrilling! Rodgers & Hammerstein has created an amazingly beautiful score, and our large amphitheater (which seated almost 3000 people) sounded incredible.

At the end of the rehearsal, the director and music director expressed how grateful they were for my help, and then gave me an update. The lead actress still had not returned, and they needed me to do the first full dress rehearsal the next day. The pressure was on - dress rehearsals involve so many things - costume changes, blocking, choreography, entrances & exits, and not to mention being off book. But remember that I had been watching rehearsals with an eagle eye, and luckily the blocking and lines came to me easily. I was on top of the world - talk about the illusion of the first time! The last part of the show, of course, was the curtain call, and Nellie has the final bow after all of the other actors. That day, after performing the role for the very first time with no prior rehearsal, I went down to the front of the stage to take my bow, and the enter company erupted into applause and cheering. They surrounded me with hugs, high fives, and huge smiles, and the production team stood in the audience, on their feet, and cheered along with them. I have never felt such powerful appreciation in my life, before or since. It was incredible.

The good news for the production (but bad news for me) was that the actress came back right before the show opened. I really wanted to be able to do the run of the show, but was so thrilled that I was asked to fill in last minute. And it really proved to me that I can do just about anything I set my mind to. I will never forget that production.

So, as you can see - this show holds a special place in my heart. Prior to watching the Lincoln Center production, I thought the show was far behind me. But after a bunch of people contacted me telling me how much they were reminded of me while watching Kelli O’Hara... now I am thinking that I’d like to play the role again. This time, I’d like to earn the role from the start! ;)

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit http://www.erincronican.com.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nabbed a role

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At the tail end of 2009 I was fortunate enough to perform in the first ever revival of Subways Are For Sleeping, a Broadway show that had its only NY run in 1961-62. Through this show, I met lots of incredible people, including fellow actor, Lee Cavellier. One night after a performance we were enjoying one of the great benefits of working at The Duplex Theater - free drinks at their bar for the remainder of the evening. At some point, Lee turns to me and says, “ So, I’ve written this musical and I was wondering if you’d be interested in recording a demo for it?” Now, I meet a lot of composers and I have often said yes to proposals like this only to find that the recording never happens. So, I said yes even though I fully expected nothing to come of the idea.

Luckily for me, Lee is dedicated, talented and infatigable and, by golly, we did get that demo done! And, thus, an original musical was born, and it was named Nab-A-Date! (Check out some of the demos we recorded here.) The cast that Lee (and his producer, Steven Engelbrecht) assembled for the demo was so cohesive and winning that he has offered us the roles for the next phase of production, which is to shop the show to Off-Broadway producers. If all goes well, a commercial producer (or team of producers) will option the show with its current cast. From our website, the show is described as:

At a performance of Nab-a-Date!, you're viewing a "live taping" of the world's first and only musical dating show, where three bachelorettes battle for the heart of one lucky man through song, dance, and some very personal questions.

Smooth-talking host Kelly Lee is your musical matchmaker, inviting our bachelor, Tommy, to carefully assess the voices and vices of the lovely ladies to determine which of them can steal his heart and satisfy his longing for love. But of course, nothing's ever that simple... The show's producer has a burning desire for the spotlight, and things get ugly when he shows he's willing to sabotage the taping to get what he wants!

With side-splitting humor and jazzy, upbeat music by writer and composer Lee Cavellier, Nab-A-Date! will have you snapping your fingers and laughing till it hurts as you realize, along with the contestants, that it's all about love.

In the show, I play Meaghan, also known as Bachelorette #3, and the rehearsals have been a blast. The music is challenging and exciting, and we have all become very good friends, which is a crucial part of developing a strong ensemble. Of course, you can have a great show where the cast is merely cordial with one another, but an intimate cast makes for a special evening of theater.

If you’d like to be invited to the exclusive readings in November, go to their Ticketing Page. If you are a producer and would like to receive a promotional packet, please head over to their website and sign up.

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit http://www.erincronican.com.

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