Q&A with AVENUE Q’s Kerri Brackin

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Kerri Brackin is currently in the NYC production of AVENUE Q at New World Stages playing Girl Bear/Mrs. T. The actress chats with The Broadway Warm-Up about her journey as a performer, daily rituals/habits and her warmup routine.


When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

I started singing and dancing at the youngest age possible. I was around 2. I LOVED it!!!! I was into competition dance and pageants and singing at anything and everything. I started acting at about age 10 when I auditioned for and was cast in a production of ANNIE. I totally fell in love with musical theatre and knew I wanted to pursue a career in this industry. Believe it or not, I actually stopped performing at age 14 and didn’t pick it up again until I packed my bags and moved to NYC after college. The rest is history.

What’s been your best audition experience? Your worst?

My best audition experience may have been the series of callbacks for the tour of AVENUE Q. Worst? Hmmmmmm…maybe one where I had an awesome crack, a crack that just kept cracking, on a super long-held belt note at the end of a song. Classic!

Why do you do what you do?

I love being part of an experience for the audience that hopefully sends them away with a smile and some laughs and an enjoyed time for a few hours. Life can be hard…theatre should be fun!! I also love booking a job. It’s the great feeling and a feeling of accomplishment. And performers are always so much fun to work with!!! The sweetest people.

What are some daily rituals and non-negotiable habits that you include in your routine?

The Broadway Warm-Up is becoming the ritual. A good night’s sleep is a non-negotiable. A substantial meal a few hours before a show is non-negotiable.

How do you prepare for your show?

Typically my preparation for a show is what happens at half-hour…getting dressed, makeup, hair/wigs. Thanks to The Broadway Warm-up, honestly, I am really beginning to see the importance of and the difference that the physical and vocal prep makes. The Broadway Warm-Up is new to me and is making a huge difference for me. My body feels more aligned for sure. Physically, I’m more relaxed and more stretched. It has made a HUGE difference in how my voice feels and how I think it sounds onstage. It’s such a complete warm-up and my whole voice feels great after. Another thing that is extremely helpful for me….because of the vocal warm-up, I can see day-to-day where my voice is, where my allergies might be sitting, etc. and so I’m able to deal with that better in a show and better know how to negotiate any potential quirks for any particular day and how to sing around/work around any issues. A big help!!!!

What do you know now that you wish you knew 20 years ago? What advice might you give?

I wish I had known the sacrifice of being so far away from my family to perform at this level. I’m an Oklahoma girl and all of my jobs have been either touring or here in NYC. I don’t see my family enough. I wish I had known that nerves would become the biggest inhibitor and would, at times, take away some of the fun and joy….I say that because I wish I had learned how to deal with them and conquer them years ago. Also though, the incredible people I’ve met and made lifelong friends with, the excitement of booking a job, the love and appreciation for a long-term gig, and what a true dream it is to live and work in a steady show here in the Big Apple…There are no words for how much I love it and how grateful I am for this time.

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CRISTIN MILIOTI at Joe’s Pub

cristin miliotiLast Friday, I had the great privilege of seeing Cristin Milioti LIVE at Joe’s Pub in NYC. Wow. What a powerhouse performer. She starred as “Girl” in the Broadway smash hit musical ONCE, for which she won a Grammy Award and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. I saw Cristin in ONCE back in 2012. My mom and I went together and we were both absolutely floored by her performance. She is like few performers I’ve ever seen. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful. It’s a voice that I feel like I’ve known all my life even though I’m just hearing it for the first time. I don’t know. There’s something intimate and familiar about her sound. Her voice blankets like a childhood lullaby and then explodes in desperate yearning, like it’s lost and looking for its home. Ah. I don’t even know if what I’m writing makes sense! It’s a quality that inspires that kind of poetic, nonsensical writing because it feels magical. 

Actually, “magical” was the word Cristin used to describe her experience in ONCE, and is an appropriate word to sum up the show Friday night. I got the last seat available – partial view. I was bummed at first but ended up sitting just behind the piano, with a close-up view of David Abeles’ dancing fingers. I saw Mr. Abeles as Pierre in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 back in 2013, and I’m a huge fan, so that was dope. Equally dope was Will Connolly on guitar and vocals. Will is playing the title role in Forest Boy, the NYMF show I’m currently working on! He mentioned that he was doing a show at Joe’s Pub, and when he told me it was with Cristin Milioti, I freaked out a bit. Turns out they’re best friends from ONCE and he accompanied her throughout the show, most memorably on a stirring interpretation of Sondheim’s Losing My Mindwhere Will played ukelele and sang evocative dissonant harmonies. Ms. Milioti’s voice was on brilliant display in this song, in one instant delicate and ethereal, the next thunderous and aching.

Just after, she performed GOLD from ONCE. Cristin recalled this as her favorite number in the show, because the rest of the ensemble sang while she walked through them, catching each of their eyes on her way. I was transported back to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. This number was a magical moment that sticks with the soul. We, the audience, were all walking through Cristin’s embodiment of “Girl” in that moment, feeling our souls exposed and opened and awakened by the haunting harmonies and sacred sounds of the ensemble. Joe’s Pub experienced the same kind of magic on Friday night. The music invited the audience to breathe a collective breath of our shared humanity. I actually went to Joe’s Pub by myself, a feat my social anxiety would usually find daunting, but Cristin has a way of putting everyone at ease. Soon after she was singing, I felt closer and somehow more connected to the strangers around me. We exchanged words of how stirring her performance was. It was like we were all transported. We went on a ride together, and became closer in the process. It is the magic of live theatre. At its best, we are taken into a new world, a new state of consciousness for a couple hours, away from our incessant worry and personal strife and into interpersonal understanding.

The night included a handful of pop covers, including two by Sia, and a Beyoncé medley, arranged by Will Connolly. Interwoven between songs were Cristin’s personal anecdotes detailing life in the city, her career, and what it means to be human. One personal favorite anecdote was Cristin’s recollection of her college theatre classes, where she was repeatedly told she was a soprano, and she’d have to sing Glitter and Be Gay which she noted was a “train-wreck.” Recalling the experience, she sang, “‘This is embarrassing’ in her ‘cartoon soprano voice,’ …‘Please give me a B’ and they were like, ‘No, you get a C,’ … but look who’s laughing now.’”  The audience erupted in laughter. She feels like a friend you’ve known forever. Relatable, authentic, vulnerable. She made mention of the truly terrifying times we are currently living in, but somehow I felt so safe in her presence. That’s what great performances have the power to do. They unite and bring us together in a world that grows more and more divisive and solitary everyday. This is the power of live performance that cannot be replicated in other media.

I’m so grateful I was able to witness Cristin Milioti’s live show and I highly recommend you catch the next. She usually performs her live show in New York a couple times a year. Here’s a video of Cristin singing Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” a few years back, a song she performed again Friday night.

ENJOY!!

Johnny

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Meditation & Creativity with Mark Price

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YO YO YO! I am so pumped to bring to you my first The Broadway WarmUp interview with the inimitable Mark Price. Mark is a creative genius and I look up to him so much. Both Ithaca grads, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark back when he was a mentor for the Hangar Theatre Lab Company in 2014. Mark’s energy, zest and passion is contagious. He is an incredibly talented performer and teacher. So generous and detailed with his insights, he’s the perfect person to start our interview series.

In this conversation, we focus on Mark’s meditation practice. I have personally struggled significantly with anxiety and stress, so I learned a lot from Mark’s words on his meditation practice, and I’m itching to take his course when it comes to New York this fall.

“The whole goal is not to be an expert meditator, the whole goal is to be better at life. To be a better partner, better creator, better husband, better wife, better friend, better brother, you know, whatever. So, the whole name of the game is up-leveling performance on all accounts.” -MP

We had such a blast talking that we exceeded our intended duration, so I’ve decided to break this interview into two parts. Part I is below…come back for Part II soon.

In PART 1, we discuss:

  • Vedic meditation
  • Left brain/Right brain functions
  • Finding spontaneity in work and life
  • ‘Fight or Flight’ response
  • The fourth state of consciousness
  • Plus much more…

LISTEN HERE:

 https://broadwaywarmup.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/mark-price-final.m4a

In Part II, we’ll dive deeper into Mark’s views on creativity. We discuss:

  • the importance of resiliency in actors
  •  How to ask better questions
  •  Self-Promotion
  • The advice Mark would give his 20-year old self

FOLLOW MARK PRICE

TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

  • www.alchemycollective.org — Alchemy Collective is a meditation and performance lab, designed for creatives and high performance individuals who are looking to uplevel their performance, dissolve stress, and increase fulfillment and bliss states.(Website live end of July).
  • www.aboutmarkprice.com (Actor, Teaching website)
Mark will be teaching a meditation course in NY this fall. If anyone wants to be notified, email for more info at mprice8@gmail.com.

Be Warm,

Johnny

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Hi, I’m Johnny!

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I’m Johnny Shea and I am the newly appointed Blogger-In-Chief and Head of Brand Ambassador Development for The Broadway Warm-Up.

I’m going to be posting some awesome content on this blog over the coming weeks, so I thought I’d take a moment to say hi!

I have just moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. Just over a month ago, I graduated from Ithaca College with my BFA in Musical Theatre. The link to Ithaca is actually how I met Kim Stern, Owner/Creator of The Broadway Warm-Up. Back in March, all of IC’s graduating Theatre Arts majors traveled down to NYC to for a week-long series of panels and workshops with industry professionals. Kim was joined by fellow IC alums Mark Price and Caesar Samayoa in their panel called Empowered Artistry. I remember feeling so inspired after this panel. I left with a feeling of confirmation that my dreams were legitimate and possible in this city.

I’ll be honest – there are times when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. For all my life to this point, I’ve had the structure and schedule of school to return to and live by. Now that I’ve graduated, the blank canvas before me is both exciting and terrifying. I’m choosing to be excited and inspired by the unknown ahead. I’d love for you to join me as I venture into the unknown and pursue my dreams of acting professionally.

This city, this lifestyle and this business are new to me, so my plan is to be a sponge. I will soak up anything and everything that pertains to life as an artist in New York. I thought it’d be fun to share what I discover as I go. SO, I’ll be conducting interviews with industry professionals to break down their daily habits & routines, and to deconstruct what makes them the best at what they do. In these interviews, I’ll talk to people with all different backgrounds and ties to the entertainment industry. I’ll speak with anyone from Broadway actors, composers, directors to ENTs, therapists, personal trainers…you  name it. I am interested in speaking to anyone with relevant info on this awesome industry. My mission is to inspire you to do what you love by interviewing people who have done just that.

Why do we warm-up? I know I warm-up so that I may perform at my best and stay healthy. I want my voice, body and mind to be in optimal condition before I go out onstage. The Broadway Warm-Up is designed to help performers reach optimal states before audition or performance. These interviews and blog posts are designed to dissect top performers so that all of us may strive to reach and realize our potential. My hope is that these interviews will provide tangible, actionable information that will inspire you.

The interviews will vary in form: video, audio & written. Be sure to follow the blog and check back soon for our first!

Be Warm,

Johnny

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And…We’re Back!

BWALPHAHey gang! It’s been while…but we’re back! Going to be starting to bring you some more blog content focused on performing musical theatre, audition technique, singing, dancing,  auditions, warming up and all around inspiration.  For starters, check out this exciting new blog series from The Anonymous Actor!  The Anonymous Actor is a real, live, young performer who is out there trying to make it happen in this great city of New York.  He/She will be giving weekly accounts of their victories and disappointments , discoveries and day to day dealings as they work towards booking the next job, getting the attention of an agent, finding the perfect NYC apartment and figuring out how to balance it all with a smile at the end of the day.  The Anonymous Actor could be someone who reminds you of yourself when you were starting out, or someone you hope to be in a few years, it could also be the person your sitting next to in your audition… RIGHT NOW. Enjoy!

The Anonymous Actor #01

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Hey New York artists: singers, musicians, actors, dancers, and all around cool people! Anonymous Actor here, bringing you the first ever titillating news on auditions, New York living, shows, and tips and tidbits about being an artist in this crazy city!

Unknown-1This week was full of incredible auditions including three days of singing EPAs for a brand new Broadway musical with casting by Telsey + Company. The CD was incredibly kind in the room, tapping his feet along to my 16 bar rock number and the accompanist was flawless! Sometimes you have incredibly fun and expectation-defying auditions (which this was for me) and sometimes you have crash and burn situations (which I have certainly experienced). One thing that I have learned from both situations is that a warm-up before a singing audition boosts my confidence ten-fold! It could be going to the gym, or walking and humming, or yoga, or a full classical 20 minute warm-up, but the one that truly stands out for me is The Broadway Warm-Up developed by Kim Stern and Deidre Goodwin!11011221_901133246616502_8468730541207047620_n  It is a fully immersive and completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up. If you are already salivating at the prospects, then you will want to stay tuned for what I have to say next week! If you live in New York, audition, perform, or just love the arts, then you will want more of this behind the scenes look at the life of an NYC artist, brought to you by me, Anonymous Actor. Stay spicy chickadees 😉

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I Lost Control and Then I Found Something Better

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Check out this awesome and hysterical blog from Monthly Guest Blogger Jessica Latshaw about the benefits of losing control!

I Lost Control and Then I Found Something Better

I think good things happen not only when we lose control (because, really, when do we ever have total control?), but the best things happen when we lose our dearly held–albeit delusional–idea of our control over anything other than what exists between the crown of our heads and the soles of our feet.
How’s that for a first sentence? If it’s not long enough for you, I can work on it.

april25babies_ellafitzgeraldSomebody told me a story about Ella Fitzgerald. I cannot tell you if this is entirely true, because I was not there, but this is what I heard. When Ella went to the studio to record, her producer made her sing a song over and over again-to the point of exhaustion, even. It wasn’t until then that someone would finally hit record. The truth comes out when you’re too tired to pretend anymore. And there’s nothing so interesting as the raw, unguarded truth, was the point of the story, I believe.
(Tell that to someone who is belting, and they may very well prefer clarity of tone and pitch over interesting, but still.)

I work for a company called Fly Wheel Sports, teaching indoor stadium cycling to people who have big goals and the motivation to match. Oftentimes clients will tell me they perform better when they are exhausted and walk into a class with not nearly as much expectation on themselves because of it. They are shocked. But I wonder if it has something to do with the pressure being off and a sense of control being lost. I wonder if better things happen as a result of those two factors.

images-9One of my best auditions came out of some of the worst circumstances. First of all, I was late. Not just I-am-not-there-to-sit-in-a-split-in-the-holding-room-with-headphones-on-an-hour-before-they-call-me late. I mean, I literally was not there when the audition started. The casting director called me, “Where are you?” she asked, concerned.
“On the train–it’s delayed and I will be there as soon as humanly possible.”
I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing I could do about the train being delayed and the fact that I was still on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel while my competitors were dancing for the director I wanted to hire me.

Finally, I arrived. I heard the music, but I couldn’t help it–I HAD to go to the bathroom. Yep, my belly was not feeling so well and it chose that moment to decide to move things around inside.

I was already late–what’s a little bit later? I decided.

Then I got my period.
(I am sorry, but that is a part of this story, and to leave it out would be an injustice to the art of story telling.)

So I did what was necessary (the art of story telling sometimes demands certain details be left out, too, you know), and finally walked into the audition room. I threw my heels on and without so much as a stretch, started doing whatever the choreography demanded of me.
Somewhere between my train getting delayed, getting sick in the bathroom, and getting my period, I decided to let myself off the hook in terms of HAVING TO GET THIS JOB. I decided I have no control over most things–and what I do have control over, well, I can only do my best.

They made a cut and told me to please come back and sing when they call my name.
So I went back to the bathroom and composed myself.

Which is when I saw it.

The thing about getting your period is that you use certain tools to keep yourself clean.

The thing about being a dancer is that you sometimes wear a leotard and just fishnet tights to auditions.

The thing about those certain tools is that they tend to have strings.

The thing about fishnets is that they tend to have holes.

I noticed with horror that a string was actually threaded through my fishnet tights and sticking out the other side in a most unseemly and untoward manner.
In short: I was mortified.

While hiding the embarrassing evidence of my femininity, I couldn’t help but laugh over the whole situation. Late. Sick. Unexpected time of the month. And then my tampon string literally threaded through my fishnet tights and out the other side–all this while I am doing high kicks just a few feet in front of the whole production team.

let_it_go_by_impala99-d740xws.pngI tuck the string away and walk back into the room. I sing. Then I read a monologue. I realize that I don’t have a say over whether or not I get the job, but, man, at least I am very alive and at least I am doing my best and life is more fun when the pressure is off, anyway. Plus, there is a part of me that is standing back, analyzing the situation, and realizing that this will make a good story.

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I finally finish and start the journey back home. Which is when I get a call from the casting company.
“You got the job!” they say, “You’re our Kristine in A Chorus Line–either here in New York, or the 1st National–whichever opens up first. But the production team wants you.”
I thank them. I can’t help but smile, laugh, and cry a little. The role of Kristine is a somewhat neurotic and quirky role; if they saw the tampon string, it only helped my case.

But the point is, there is a freedom that comes with realizing that none of us are in total control. That we all just do our best in the moment. We take whatever we can grab within our very finite reach and we make something. Dear God, we hope that something is good. We really hope that something makes money. But it’s what we do, over and over again, and the more we do it, the more we realize it is imperfect, hardly ever according to plan, and sometimes even better than we could have imagined.

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But no, it never really involves us being in control of the situation.
And maybe that’s when the truth comes out; which, as someone told me, is way more interesting than a carefully composed lie, anyway.

img-26Jessica Latshaw is a monthly blog contributor to The Broadway Warm-Up blog. For more information on Jessica go to: www.jessicalatshawofficial.com

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Reverie Revelation: Rev It Up!


Exciting news folks! We are thrilled to introduce our first Guest Contributor to The Broadway Warm-Up Blog.  Check out Broadway Warm-Up Cast Member Marc Santa Maria’s monthly installment of  Reverie Revelation for inspiring info on Acting, Fitness and Adventure:

Reverie Revelation: Rev It Upquote-reverie-is-the-groundwork-of-creative-imagination-it-is-the-privilege-of-the-artist-that-with-him-w-somerset-maugham-320200

What Up. I love me some Broadway Warm-Up. Huge fan. Honored I got to be a part of making the DVD. And super stoked to be contributing right here, right now to the BW Blog. Here’s how it’s gonna go down. I’m going to offer three thoughts (I’ll call them reveries) and three photos to support them. They will be in the zone of acting, fitness and adventure. And by adventure I mean living life large, trying new things, being well traveled, chowing down and guzzling tasty drinks. Let’s do this . . .

ImageACTOR REVERIE: I’ve got the coolest Acting Mentor – Roz Coleman Williams. She hits me hard with pearls of wisdom (and yet can crack me up two seconds later). In class yesterday she said this about “the Work” – the stuff we put out there to the world – “The key to growth is to stand in the strength of your own choices. True artistry is being your own gage. Walk in the strength of your own individual artistry.” Walk strong my artist friends, walk like a bad ass and work.

 

Wimpy Photo-2FIT DUDE REVERIE: I’m the National Director of Group Fitness for Crunch Gyms so I get a lot of questions about getting in shape. Like it or not, it’s a fact that what we look like is a major factor in how we are cast. So,what’s your body type and what would you likely be cast as? If you’re happy with your answers – awesome. You’re on the right track. Go get seen and go book work. But if you want to say, play an action hero in Avengers but have a physique more like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, then get thee into an exercise routine – pronto. Don’t think about it – just do something physical. Got a Crunch Gym in your city? Email me at marcsm@me.com and I’ll hook you up with a 5 day guest pass to jump start your routine.

Chariot photoADVENTURE REVERIE: I love wine. I love wine chilled – even my reds. I discovered this keep the wine cool gadget called – The Corkcicle. #protectcool. Google it. And use it. With what you say? How about a great red under $10? Chariot at Trader Joe’s. So tasty – we’re serving cases of it at our wedding

Until next time. See you on the dance floor of life.

-Marcmarc-santa-maria

Check out www.marcsm.com for more reverie.

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