Sassy Actress, with a Side of Quirk

Life Musings by a Real Drama Queen

California Dreamin

Hey there! 

Some of you might have seen my post, some maybe not, but I am currently in Northern California working on A Christmas Story at Sierra Repertory Theatre. WHATTTT? Yeah, it came a little out of left field for me as well. I went MIA for a bit primarily because I was so busy trying to get ready for this gig. I am playing Miss Shields in the play version of A Christmas Story, which is a lot of fun! We open in less than 2 weeks, which is crazy, and I got here on Monday, so it’s been less than a week of rehearsals, but we are already mostly blocked.

I still am just trying to adjust to this change of pace. I was working at the Players Theatre in the West Village less than a week ago. I unfortunately had to make a tough decision and choose between Stone Soup and A Christmas Story. As a nonunion, unrepresented actress, it can be really hard choosing between a commitment that you’ve already made and an unexpected opportunity. Though it was a hard decision, California and Sierra Rep won out. I am so grateful that I was able to perform with my Stone Soup gang for 2 weeks and I am sad that I had to leave them mid-run. I miss you guys! 

That being said, HELLO CALIFORNIA! So Sierra Repertory theatre has two theatres, East Sonora and Columbia. I am working at the East Sonora location and lemme say, this is one hell of a small town. I am in northeast California, right on the edge of Yosemite National park. I haven’t had the time to explore Yosemite yet, but the town itself has a lot to offer. Sonora is a part of Tuolumne (pronounced Tuh-wah-leh-me) county, which also includes the gold rush town of Columbia (super historic) and Jamestown (which I have yet to explore). Though it is small, there is a lot going on! The county is in the Sierra foothills and there are tons of small businesses in the area. I am currently sitting at this awesome coffe shop called Schnoogs, which offers organic coffees and teas and homemade baked goods, sandwiches, and soups! I am enjoying a cup of organic costa rican coffee and a delicious lemon scone. There’s a lot to do and see and I have barely even begun to explore!

At Sierra Rep, they house their actors in community members’ homes, which is actually really cool. My homestay is just outside of Sonora, which is nice. They also provide cars to get around town, which is a huge plus. The woman I am staying with, Vicki, is an absolute gem! We get along so well and her house is super comfortable. I get my own bedroom with a private bathroom, but I spend a lot of time hanging out with her in the living spaces, when she is home that is. She is a busy lady who volunteers a ton around the community. Last night I didn’t have rehearsal, so she invited me to one of her wine clubs’ tasting parties in the neighboring town of Murphys. Murphys is about 45 minutes from Vicki’s house, so she gave me a tour of the whole county. We drove on this county highway that overlooked a limestone quarry. It was without a guardrail but to Vicki it was no big thing. We don’t have that on the east coast, that’s for sure! 

Anyway, Murphys is an amazing little town made up of over 20 wineries, dozens of shops, and countless restaurants, all of which are small, local businesses. Swoon!!! I am a sucker for that stuff and I really do believe in supporting small local businesses, so this town is right up my alley. We went to Tanner’s Winery and enjoyed their tasting party, where they released all of their fall wines. It was all red wine, which is my preference. All of the wines were easy to drink, flavorful but not too heavy, and really delicious when paired with their food. Vicki and I had a great time and not just because of the wine! I am so thankful to have been placed in her house for my stay here- and you bet I am gonna request her again if I have the opportunity to work at Sierra Rep again!

As for rehearsals, so far so good! My role is a cameo so I only pop in ever so often throughout the show, but when I do, boy does my character, Miss Shields, pack a punch! She is effervescent, witty, and sharp. I really love the writing in this show and it almost mirrors the movie to a T. That being said, we can’t put a movie on stage, so we are using our theater magic to create a show that is all our own. 

This show is interesting because the cast primarily consists of children. I just can’t seem to get away from the kiddies! From nannying to shows, children are just a daily  part of my life. Thankfully, I love kids and get to hand them off to their parents when the day is done! There are 7 kids in the cast and only 4 adults. If the kids decided to revolt, us adults would be in major trouble! All of the kids are really fun and for some, it is there first experience acting on stage. I feel so lucky that I get to be a part of their experience! They are so inspiring and though some are definitely green, the choices they make really do remind you how creative and smart kids really are. Some of the kids are Sierra Rep regulars, like the youngin’ playing Ralphie! He is so on top of his stuff, it just reminds me of how eager I was at his age to be on stage. 

As for the adults, they are also rockstars! They all have great senses of humor and despite the fact that my interaction with them onstage is limited, they do a great job of making me feel welcomed and included whenever I am around. They are true professionals and they are hilarious onstage and off! 

So that’s what is happening in my crazy life. Unexpected, exciting, crazy, and I wouldn’t change it one bit. Thanks for reading and putting up with my excessive use of explanation marks. If you have any recommendations for my stay here, comment below. I miss NYC and my boyfriend and Murray my furbaby, but boy am I loving this career of mine.

xoxo

D

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Here I Go Again

Welcome to New York!

Or welcome back I should say. I have returned from my contract and am back to the grind. I got back officially two weeks ago, but it took me some time to get back into the swing of things. I picked up some catering shifts, started the search for our new apartment, and planned the rest of April and the beginning of May. Lots of things going on, so auditioning has been put on the back burner; however, today is the day I break that streak and start anew!

I am currently waiting at the Equity building in Times Square for an audition. This audition is pretty relaxed since there aren’t many nonunion actors waiting, and since I am only right for one role in the whole season, it takes some of the inherent pressure off the audition. I thought it would be a perfect foil for me to get back into the swing of things.

I really ought to take a class or at least get a voice lesson soon, but I will be honest, I am not sure where to even begin. There are sooooo many classes out there and funds are limited so I really can’t take as many as I would like.  Any suggestions would be appreciated! I am also trying to be better about staying in contact with mentors and show biz people. It’s just hard when you don’t feel particularly connected to anybody. I mean, I have been seen by plenty of companies and casting directors, but I don’t feel particularly “known” yet, which is okay, since my career is still pretty young, but it is still very frustrating. I mean, how many postcards have I sent that haven’t even been glanced at by the recipients? Honestly, probably 95% of them. That doesn’t mean I will stop sending them, but I feel like I have to do something to create a more binding impression on these people. Again, I am not too humble for suggestions.

As negative as this might sound, I am actually pretty positive at the moment. My confidence has shot up since I did that contract in Michigan- I did some AWESOME work out there and made lasting friendships and connections. I feel really good about my performance as both an actor and a choreographer, which has made me that much more hungry for the next big thing. I am seriously itching for a new challenge. I need something that scares me, that really launches me into bigger and better things.

But for now, I am content with waiting for an EPA. Who knows, maybe I will be the person they have been waiting for. Maybe I am not. Either way I can go in, play with my monologue, and chalk it up as a learning experience. That’s all you really can do at this point. The best case scenario is always a callback and then a booked gig. The worst case scenario is that you make a weak choice or you make a mistake and you just call it a rehearsal for the next audition.

My boyfriend has recently started a career in stand-up comedy. He has been diligent about going to open mics, seeing and speaking with upcoming comedians, and just immersing himself in the culture that is stand up. Something I really admire about him is just his patience and commitment to the craft. He always tells me, whether it was a good mic or not, it was always a good mic in the end, because he got up there, tried, and learned something. I need to adapt that mentality to auditions. I think I already do, but I think I could be even more complimentary and proud of myself for just getting up and putting myself out there, day in and day out. It’s the same thing with Aidan’s stand-up career. Just going out and doing it is half the battle. I almost didn’t even go to this audition today because I woke up grumpy, I was unenthused by the lack of auditions lately, and just because I was scared to start up this cycle of rejection yet again. But you know what? I sucked it up. And I am here, waiting until they tell me that nonunion is sent home, because it’s my job and the payout is worth wading through all the shit in front of me.

Also, all my friends and colleagues from college are all doing really well right now, which is awesome. It is hard to praise and compliment them without comparing myself to them. But as they say, everyone’s path is different, so just do your own thing and don’t allow other people’s wins become your losses. Because they aren’t.

I am just full of wisdom today. The equity center does that to me. I get suddenly wise and introspective. It is very cathartic. And now I feel ready to squash this audition and make it my bitch!

More on life later friends. Keep it classy.
xoxo
D

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Pure Michigan

Howdy friends!

I am currently writing to you from Alpena MI, home of the $2.75 well drink! I have been here for almost a month now and boy do I have much to tell! I have been working nonstop at the Thunder Bay Theatre. I choreographed the musical that I am also currently performing in, so busy is definitely not an understatement.

I really love Alpena. It is a perfect place to find some reprieve from the hustle and bustle of NYC. I do miss the accessibility of the city and the weather (snow at the end of March…what???) but otherwise I am very happy that I took a contract in a small town in Northern MI. Alpena is pretty chill right now, since the weather is still cold, but come summer, supposedly this place is a busy vacation town! Alpena is a town on the water. It has the Thunder Bay River which meets Lake Huron. When I first got here, we actually could walk out on the frozen Lake Huron. We made the foundation of an igloo on the ice!

One thing that I love about Alpena all the time is the great little restaurants. There are plenty of bars and restaurants offering great food at pretty good prices. Also, it must be said, the bar scene here is RIDICULOUS. The prices here for booze are low and there are plenty of bars to choose from. If you like beer, Michigan is a great place to be. There is one brewery in Alpena (I’m looking at you Austin Brother’s Brewery) and a few in the surrounding areas. Beers generally cost $4 or $5 dollars and are delicious. I often get beer here just because they are so good! Coming from a wino like me, that’s a pretty big deal.

Alpena has treated me well so far. The people are super friendly and as soon as they hear that you work for the Thunder Bay Theatre, their eyes light up and they ask all about you. It’s very welcoming and it has made my stay in this small town that much more enjoyable. The audiences are very appreciative of the theater community Thunder Bay Theatre Co. has created and definitely want more of what TBayT is producing.

I am contracted here for 2 shows, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” and “Half&Half”. We opened Fools this Friday, after a delayed opening due to a snow storm, and it received good reviews and a warm response from our audiences. Fools is a Roger Bean musical shaped around pop hits of the 1960s. I got to choreograph the show which was a lot of fun and I also play the role of DeeDee. I am very proud of the work I am doing- it’s nice to be performing in a musical and I feel that my choreography really fits the show.

We start “Half&Half” rehearsals tomorrow which should be fun. Plays, for me, are a lot easier than musicals, just because there are less variables to juggle, which allows me to really focus on my character. I can’t wait to play the character Lucy- she kind of reminds me of my sister Elena. She is very strong and independent, plus she was raised by a feminist mom. It’ll be fun to play with the arc of the character and play opposite of some great actors.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this last month! I am gonna post about this awesome pasta salad I made a couple of days ago. Straying a bit from the theme of this blog, but who cares? I am sure all 5 of my readers (Hi Mom!) will not be phased by my erratic blogging.

Miss you all!
xoxo
D

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Anything Goes!

Howdy ho. What a crazy few weeks it has been. Lots of working at my survival job, getting accustomed to living with my boyfriend, and trying to audition.

Yes I said trying to audition. I got a killer cold this week and it lingered all weekend, which made me cancel an appointment and opt out of a few EPAs. It stunk. Ya know, as much as I love theater, it can be a pain in the ass to get the will to even audition, especially when you have like 10,000 obstacles just to do so. I am not complaining but it is just crazy to me that I have to wake up at the crack of ass just to get on a list to POSSIBLY audition. And if I am under the weather? Forget about it!

Now I am still pretty sniffly, but I did manage to go to an EPA for a play today and was seen almost immediately. It was glorious. And even though I know that isn’t the norm, it raised my spirits and put me in a better mood for the future auditions I have this week. Also, I have found that I do better when I just go in and do whatever the hell I want…within reason of course. For example, today I went in for a play that I am not 100% right for but could feasibly do. It was a crime drama and the theater asked for a brief contemporary monologue. Now, I could’ve just not gone because I don’t really have a super appropriate monologue. But I went anyway. Ya know why? Because I knew I could show myself off in a positive light and even if my material wasn’t exactly what they were looking for, I figure they can at least get an idea of what I can do as an artist for this project and others in the future.

I have found since moving to NYC that playing it safe is not a solid option. My advice to young, new actors is to just do what you want to do- Fuck the rest. Sorry, but if you wanna go in and sing an obscure folk song for a season audition because it speaks to you and what you can bring to a stage, I say do it. It shows that you are bold, fearless, and interesting. If I have material that I love and it fits the audition requirements, then yay! But if not, I might still go and just do my best/favorite/awesomest song because why the hell not?

Ranting in a Starbucks. I am le classy. It smells like pizza in here. Not fair.

That’s really all I wanna write about today. I could tell you about the awesome Vietnamese food I had the other day at this amazing hole in the wall, but I promised my boyfriend that I would keep it a secret! This place is too good to share…like so good we contemplated going THE FOLLOWING DAY. I kind of want to go tonight…that’s seriously how good it is. But alas, it is a secret I must keep!

That’s all folks! Stay cool 😉

xoxo
D

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It’s My Party!

Hello! Coming at you from yet another coffee shop. This time I’m at Taszo on 157th and Broadway, sipping my basic vanilla latte, as I do. It is absolutely gorgeous out which means I will be spending some time before work lounging in Central Park. Again, I am just the most basic and I do not care!

In other news, I turned 23 on Wednesday! Happy Birthday to me! I had a few days off from work so I decided to be spontaneous and hop on a bus to Philly to spend my birthday with my boyfriend. We had a lovely few days which mostly centered around food and fun. On Tuesday, we galavanted through the city, eating our way from Federal Donuts on 18th and Sansom to the Reading Terminal Market on 13th and Filbert. I ate SO MUCH that day. Delectable fried chicken, donuts (oh the donuts), a killer grilled cheese, and spectacular coffee. It was a smorgasbord full of food and love. Other than our food tour of Philly (guided by ME) we just relaxed and had some time with his family. All in all, a great mini birthday vacay. I still intend to do something small with some of my NYC friends later next week (tea date anyone?) so hit me up if you are around! I’m thinking something lowkey and relaxing.

Some other happenings- before hopping on that spontaneous bus to Philly, I actually got seen at the Pippin Equity Tour audition. It was incredibly dead so I got in and seen within five minutes of arriving at Telsey. An okay audition, nothing to write home about, but fun. I also saw one of my Cherubs from a few years back (talking about you Delaney!) which was a nice little surprise. It made me miss my Cherub family. I hope to go back and teach in a few summers, because it is the most AMAZING genius theater mecca ever! Tyrant over.

Other than that, my life has been pretty bland lately. I started working at a restaurant by Columbus Circle, which is anything but boring! I am hostessing and loving it. The staff is great, the clientele is awesome, and the food is delicious. I really like the fast pace of it all and having a consistent job is quite nice. So I guess that isn’t bland…but other than that, I really am just waiting for my boyfriend to move in (MONDAY). I am auditioning whenever possible and working working working!

That’s all folks. Hopefully I’ll get to cooking again soon or perhaps I’ll share some of my tips on how to save when you are living in a city, particularly NYC. I have a knack for saving, which is essential when you live in one of the most expensive cities in the country.

Alright, that’s all folks. Thanks for reading!

xox
D

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Live in Living Color!

If you know what musical that title stems from, you get a cookie! Nahh, just playing. I am a crappy baker.

I digress. Look at this. Yet another few months have flown by sans blogging. Le sigh. No excuses. I am just busy and NEED to prioritize this blog. Why must you prioritize writing this blog Dionna? Give yourself some slack. Well friends, writing like this gives me piece of mind and helps me sort out my neverending thoughts. When I do it, I love it. In elementary school, I actually wanted to write for a magazine for a while. Writing is a hobby of mine and even though it isn’t as important as it used to be for me, I want to get back to doing it on the reg. Because doing it on the reg is absolutely essential for a sane mind, am I right or AM I RIGHT?

Please excuse my awful innuendo jokes. If you missed it Dad, please just read on and don’t turn back.

So I don’t know what I last blogged about but here’s where I am at now. Literally. I am at this cute little coffee house called Cafe Buunni. It is hella tiny, but it is air conditioned and the coffee is pretty spot on. I like to support local business when I can, so I walked the extra 20 minutes to Cafe Buunni to try it out. I had to buy a croissant to be at the credit card minimum of $5 which was fine, but the croissant is only okay. A little chewy, but tasty nonetheless. They use fair trade, organic coffee which I thoroughly support, so all in all, a nice little cafe. It has a communal table, a small window bench seat, and then a tiny coffee bar with 3 stools, which is where I am currently residing with my teeny tiny tablet, typing away. They are playing good music and the cafe itself is very quiet. I imagine in the afternoons it is a little louder, but I currently appreciate the solace.

So that is quite literally where I am at. Let’s dig deeper, shall we? I just now realized that It has been just over 4 months since I have moved to NYC. How time flies! I wasn’t super present in May and June because I worked a crazy amount of hours with my catering company. It was rough but also necessary because now this month has been thoroughly dead. It should pick up again by the end of summer, but right now the events are scarce. I also went on a ton of great mini vacays in May and June. My boyfriend and I visited each other back and forth between NYC and Philly. He is moving to NYC at the end of this month and I am beyond excited. We are moving in together which might sound like a big step, but I am so ready. I am so done with long distance, you have no idea. It actually was fantastic for our relationship and I wouldn’t change a thing about our journey as a couple, but after doing it for quite some time, I am ready to see my babe every day.

I went on a mini vacation with my dear to his Pop’s house in Cape May which was delightful. It rained one day while we were there, which might have sucked, but it didn’t because my love and I used it as a movie day! The next day was beautiful so we headed to the beach and the outdoor mall. It was a perfect mini getaway. My boyfriend then came up to my house in the Poconos for the Fourth of July, which was full of food, family, and a whole lot of relaxation. I surprised him with a kayak trip down the Delaware river. My family doesn’t own kayaks, so I enlisted my father to help me out. He found a friend who had some kayaks and he let us borrow them for the weekend. My dad had to trade his old volunteer firefighter gear, but he was looking to get rid of it, so it all worked out nicely. Thanks dad!

That’s pretty much it on the social front. I did go out with my roomie (and one of my best friends) Kelsey for her birthday Saturday. We had a FULL day of yoga, relaxing in central park, and then partying in the eve. The yoga class was supposed to be relaxing, but real time, it was like bootcamp yoga- hella hard and not that relaxing. But you know what? We had fun and it was a nice challenge, plus it doubled as our workout for the day. Not too shabby. We had a light, peaceful lunch in central park and then we headed home to primp for dinner and drinks on the town. We went to a place on the water in the Heights called La Marina. It was fun- lots of peach sangria and free tequila shots. Afterwards we headed to a bar downtown for drinks. I drank too much- free shots were flowing and it was rough. But I had fun regardless. We also had some nice company that ended up footing the bill unexpectedly. Happy Birthday Kels! Worth the nasty hangover 🙂

So that’s the personal stuff. As for more professional news, I am currently looking and interviewing for other part-time jobs. That rent isn’t going to make itself! I have a few things in the works so I will update y’all on that when things are a bit more solidified.

As for my real profession, I am feeling very good about the last few auditions I have done. I have a great voice teacher that is really helping me fill the holes in my songbook and stretch myself to be more than I thought possible. It is refreshing and exciting, and it makes me giddy! Auditions are slow since it’s the summer, but I have been frequenting a ton of EPAs whenever possible. I actually got seen at 3 different EPAs in one day last week. I hardly had to wait at any of them and I felt that I did my best at every single one. They were all incredibly different too. I started by going to the Elf Tour EPA, which wasn’t even on my agenda for the day. I got there and was taken into the room moments after I settled into the waiting area. It was perfect. I went in and sang “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted. I felt really focused and surprisingly not nervous. I actually was more nervous when the casting director started asking about my violin experience! Either way, I felt very good about what I put out there and I am thrilled that I was seen by that casting director. She saw me the first month I was in NYC and I absolutely BOMBED that audition, so I am very happy she saw me on a better day.

Later that same day, after a voice lesson, I went to the Spring Awakening EPA at Telsey. I felt great about my performance but they weren’t crazy responsive. I was sad because only one of the two casting associates were there. Oh well, I was just happy to be seen. Lastly, I headed back to the Equity building to be seen for The Arden Theatre Company’s production of The Secret Garden. If you know me, then you know I worked for the Arden my junior and senior years of college, first as an intern and then as a teaching artist. I still love the company, so I was happy that I was able to go in and see familiar faces in the audition room. I tried out a new song that I had been practicing in my voice lessons and I did it well. I don’t know if I am a perfect fit for that show, but regardless, I was happy that I got to perform for someone familiar. I think I have grown a lot since I last worked at the Arden so I was thrilled to show them my progress.

Oh, and after that I had the most lovely coffee date at a great cafe with my lovely friend from tour, Miss Madeline. It was the perfect end to my crazy but rewarding day! Also, I had the best latte of my life. Seriously. Go to Taszo on 157th and Broadway. It is magical.

And that is what’s up kids. I haven’t been cooking too much in the last month just because of work and what not. I also got a crazy stomach bug (or something?) so I wasn’t eating much variety. I have been feeling much better since I visited my home in the Pocs so I am back to cooking up a storm despite the crazy NYC heat. I might post a recipe in the next few days, but who knows.

I really am trying to make this blog a habit. I will blog. I will. I WILL!!!

Okay, so that’s it for now folks! Stay cool kids 🙂

xoxo D

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Let the Sun Shine!

Howdy.

What a week. I’ve had some great stuff happen this past week! Firstly, I am happily employed by a catering company and a babysitting network. I start work next week and I have an interview with the babysitting network for family placement tomorrow. Woohoo! I also may have a prospective family but that is still a maybe so fingers crossed! Now that audition season has wound down a bit, I need to focus on making a nice little nest egg of cash so that when auditions pick up again, I can take time off if need be. I am pretty lucky though because all of my side jobs leave me with time in the morning for auditions, which is nice. I might become a full-time babysitter or nanny this summer (hello, Hamptons!) but we will see. I really wouldn’t mind sticking around the city this summer, taking some classes and maybe working on a few smaller gigs here while babysitting.

My friend Andrew introduced me to a new company called the Musical Theater Factory, so I am really excited to get involved with them. The Musical Theater Factory is all about bringing new musicals to life through workshops and showcases. I think it is a great company and I can’t wait to volunteer for them. It is also going to be a great way for me to fill up my time before my side jobs start up. They love people who are multi-faceted and can help out in other areas of expertise so I will be definitely be offering up my box office/marketing/PR/administrative skills in the near future. They actually have a salon (chic, right?) this Thursday that I hope to attend- if anyone in the city wants to tag along, let me know!

SO yeah. Good things brewing. Ya know what else is great? This weather!!!! Well, not necessarily today, which is kind of gloomy and overcast but this past weekend was beautiful. I was soaking up the sun as if I were Vitamin D deficient. I also was smiling all weekend because I got to visit my amazing boyfriend in Philadelphia. I haven’t been to Philadelphia pretty much since I left in August so it was a bit surreal to be back. Even though I can’t imagine myself living there again any time soon, it was comforting to be back in a familiar place where I was an expert! I knew where we could have dinner, where the best place to get coffee was, all that fun stuff. I also loved it because I got to see my best friend Angie who I haven’t seen since I visited her at the PA Renaissance Faire this summer. My boyfriend and I brunched with her and then saw her quirky Irish show that evening. I wish I could’ve seen more people (I’m sorry Calvin!) but I really wanted to spend the majority of time with my boyfriend since I was there for such a short time.

My boyfriend and I had SO MUCH FUN. I always feel so refreshed after seeing him. I can only imagine how good I will feel once we are living in the same city together. I am absolutely smitten. We love just being with each other and walks are our THING. I mean, we are kind of old people. We love walking through the city, talking and browsing in shops, just enjoying the weather and each other’s company. He also cooked for me and it was phenomenal as per usual. He made me fried veal cutlets with a light roasted red pepper and lemon butter sauce, roasted cauliflower, and sautéed mushrooms. He has changed my feelings about mushrooms. I used to hate them. Now I love them. Yep.

Another reason I wanted to spend the majority of my weekend with my boyfriend is because I wanted to hang out with his family. I absolutely love them! His little cousins are amazing and adorable and crazy and the adults are equally hilarious. It’s just a really nice, inviting family and I really enjoying spending time with them. His uncle also made a kick-ass brunch before I left, which is reason enough to keep me coming back to their house. Let’s be real, we all know food is the way to my heart!

So it was a loverly weekend. A good reset for this month. I feel like I can conquer anything! That also might be because I just took an amazing yoga class at the UWS Yoga to the People studio. What would I do without Yoga to the People? I am not sure. I mean, it’s donation based, and I usually try to donate every time I go, but I love it because there is no pressure if you can’t donate. And honestly, sometimes I can’t, because NYC is expensive and theater isn’t always the most financially stable career. So even if I can’t afford a gym membership or group exercise classes (what I love) then I can at least recharge with some Power Vinyasa Flow. THANK YOU YOGA TO THE PEOPLE!

Another reason why I am just in a lovely mood? It’s free cone day at Ben and Jerry’s. Yup. And guess who’s yoga studio is right next to a Ben&Jerry’s? This chick’s! After I finish this post, you best believe I will be visiting my good friends Ben and Jerry for a little indulgence. Good thoughts, good things, good day.

I also have some more cool recipes and money-saving tips that I want to share but I am not really sure if people care about them? I mean, I have looked at my stats and most people prefer when I talk about things like auditioning and living in NYC. So, I will consider to share those because I like to and I find it interesting to write about but if you don’t dig it, all 5 of my readers, then just let me know :P.

In the land of auditioning, not much happened in the past week…I went to one audition in Brooklyn for an awesome company called Theater 20/20. They are doing a funny parody version of the Merry Wives of Windsor. I auditioned in a Catholic Church on the altar which brought me back to my days of performing with the Presby Players. Holla if you hear me! It was a lot of fun- I mean who doesn’t want to perform a Shakespeare monologue on an altar? Talk about epic. No word about a callback but either way it was a fun time.

So yep. That’s it. I am rushing the end of this post because I really want some free ice cream…And because I should probably go home and eat a real meal after eating said cone. Is dessert before lunch such a bad thing? I think not! Thanks for reading and I will catch you on the flip side. Pretend I never said that.

xoxo

D

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Amazing Dark Chocolate Chunk Baked Oatmeal

So, I love food. I think that is apparent by now. One thing I hate is recipes. I love to cook but it is a RARE occasion that you will find me following a recipe. When I cook, 98% of the time I just use recipes for inspiration and then I riff off of them with whatever ingredients I have on hand. That being said, I do occasionally follow recipes, especially those written by my FAVORITE food blogger Jessica Merchant, from How Sweet Eats. She is awesome and her recipes are exceptional.

I was never a huge fan of oatmeal but it’s really affordable so I kept trying to find a recipe that I liked. I am not the biggest fan of it in just as a hot breakfast cereal, so I was looking for a recipe that was different, could be made ahead of time, and was portable. Well, howsweeteats did not disappoint! She has this awesome Dark Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal that is INCREDIBLE. It is one of the only recipes I follow exactly as is and have made multiple times. It is just THAT GOOD. Like, so good that you should make it now…and then make mine 🙂

So, as I have stated, I love this recipe and make it as is a lot…but in true Dionna style, I can’t just always make this recipe the same way! Plus, I tried making this yesterday and I didn’t have any coconut milk or mascarpone, so I did what I do best in the kitchen- I improvised! I improvised so damn well that I decided to write down exactly what I did because it was FANTASTIC. Plus, my version is dairy-free and is not as sweet, so it can really be eaten as breakfast, a snack, or as dessert. Hell, I might have eaten a few slices right out of the pie plate…but who’s counting, am I right?

Dark Chocolate Chunk Baked Oatmeal (Dairy-Free) adapted from How Sweet Eats

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 individual packages Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (approx 2-3 ounces)*
3 ounces 72% dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and spray a pie plate (9×9) with non-stick spray. I like to use coconut oil spray since it adds a nice flavor and can withstand high temps.
  • Mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Whisk together the almond milk, egg, vanilla extract, and chocolate hazelnut butter.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix to combine. Fold in chopped dark chocolate.
  • Pour mixture into the pie plate and bake in the oven for about 23 minutes, or just until set.

This baked oatmeal is great right out of the oven, gooey and hot, but I actually like it better after it has cooled, at room temperature. It tastes like a nutty, chocolately, soft oatmeal cookie, plus it is full of protein and fiber. I cut it into slices and take it with me when I go to auditions but it is also great reheated, with a splash of almond milk. It’s dairy-free and if you use certified gluten free oats, it is also gluten free! Try it out and let me know what you think!

The finished product!

The finished product!

*This is the only chocolate hazelnut butter I use. It has the best consistency because it has hazelnuts AND almonds. I also love it because it is low in sugar, dairy-free, and very chocolatey. They also use great ingredients and I find that it is worth the price tag! You could obviously substitute another chocolate hazelnut butter but the level of sweetness and the consistency will differ.*

xoxo

D

(None of these links are sponsored)

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Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You

Hello!

It’s been a while since I have written and that’s partly due to the fact that I have been getting to know the city! Also my tablet, which I use to write when I have some down time in between auditions, appointments, etc, died so I was without it! What am I supposed to write on!? My decrepit laptop (which I am using now)????

Anywho. I also was busy (wink wink) because my boyfriend visited for a few days last week! It was a glorious 4ish days, the longest time we have seen each other since the winter holidays. Long distance blows, but when I do see the boy? It makes it all worth it! I skipped some auditions during his visit, but thankfully there weren’t too many that caught my eye anyway. So, I took a little time off from running to relax with my dearest. No regrets.

And now, I am back at it again! A lot has happened since I last wrote, some good, some meh. Let’s start with the meh, because it’s meh. I had a bunch of auditions the last 2 weeks since I have written and before my boyfriend visited. I actually was lucky because I had a ton of appointments which streamlines my schedule soooooo much. I had some appointments for a few new plays for some festivals, I had a cruise line appointment, and some musical auditions, including one for a summer stock season. Well, here’s the short of it- No callbacks. Not a ONE! I mean, I am by no means discouraged but that sucks so hard. Like, blurgh. I felt good about the play auditions and even received a personal rejection email, so I am sure that I made a good impression even though they went another direction for the casting. The cruise line audition was good even though the material was a bit odd- I was called in for the “Astral Goddess” for a Interactive Magic show, but overall I felt good about it. Then I had an audition for a summer stock season and it sucked. So no callback wasn’t a surprise. And lastly, I had an audition for a musical being done in the city (unpaid) and I felt REALLY GOOD about my audition. And yet, you guessed it, NOT EVEN A CALLBACK.

So that’s meh, but that is not to say I am upset or frustrated. If anything, all this meh has given me some perspective. I think that I need to stop worrying so much about what the theaters want and just do what I want, what makes me happy. I also realized that I need some funnier songs. Or I need to make some bolder choices with my current songs, because I am gonna be honest…I am pretty damn funny. Also, writing about my mehness here helps me come to peace with the rejection and move on. This morning I had 2 auditions. I auditioned really well at both. I didn’t get called back at those either, but you know what? That’s okay, because I sang songs I wanted to sing and I had some fun while doing it. After those auditions, I rode the A train home pretty happy. Because let’s be real. Waiting around for auditions sucks. Listening to basic bitches talk about kicking their faces and belting up to the Netherlands sucks. Waking up at the crack of ass to sign a list that may or may not be accepted SUCKS. But ya know what? As soon as I go into that studio and sing something I love or do a monologue that I feel really passionate about, it makes it all okay. I felt good after today, even though I didn’t book a damn thing, and that’s how I know that this business is worth it for me. Those 30 seconds singing make it worth all the shit, to put it nicely 🙂

One of my infamous audition selfies ;)

One of my infamous audition selfies 😉

And guess what!? There’s even more GOOD! So, when it comes to side jobs, I have lined up some great gigs. I haven’t started working yet (meh) BUT I will be VERY SOON. I am part of program through SitterCity called Date Night Now, and I have some babysitting lined up through that (tell your friends with families in NYC to book me https://ondemand.sittercity.com/s/dionna-eshleman and then use my referral code dionna-eshleman for $30 off their first sitting!). I also have some other babysitting agencies I am interviewing with in the next month, so that is exciting. Babysitting is by far my favorite way to make money. I like it, I am good at it, and it is almost always FUN. Aside from the sitting, I had orientation for a fantastic catering company, so hopefully soon I will be rolling in the dough! Or at least paying my bills with income rather than savings. All in all, good stuff a brewing.

In other news, I saw some great shows since I have been here! I talked about seeing the Heidi Chronicles in my last post, which was great, but since I have seen 2 musicals! I got some free tix to see Disenchanted which is Off-Broadway at the Westside Theater. I took my sis even though she isn’t always into musicals…I lured her into it by promising pie at The Little Pie Company.

First, let’s talk about the pie, which we got BEFORE the show. Well, I could write a whole blog about the pie, and I don’t even generally LIKE pie. I got the Mississippi Mud Pie which was actually featured on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate”. Side note, if you know me, you know I am a Food Network fanatic…I could watch it all day…and now that I have cable, sometimes I do…Focus Dionna! Mud pie, yes. Well it was DREAMY. And decadent. And worth the 100000 calories it must have been. This pie is for the chocolate lover. Seriously, the crust is a fudging (hehe, get it?) brownie! The filling is a thick custardy mix of 3 different chocolates. It is incredible. They sell their pies by the slice, but at the end of the day they don’t always have slices left, so I had to buy a miniature 5″ miniature pie which was $8. Sounds pricey, but it was well worth it. I didn’t even eat half and I took the rest home and ate it in shifts! My sister got a mixed berry mini pie, which is very out of character for her (she’s an apple girl through and through), but she said it was amaze-balls! Well, she didn’t say amaze-balls, but that’s how I interpreted her response. All in all, a GREAT find right on the west edge of the theater district. I have already been back since then with the boyfriend, who is also a pie person. He had a slice of their signature sour cream apple pie. He inhaled it, but I got a small bite, and for someone who doesn’t like pie, I can honestly say it was the best apple pie I have ever tasted. Sorry mom, the Little Pie Company wins. One more note on the Little Pie Company. I love how unassuming and humble the shop is. It is all about the pie, no frills, unlike SO MANY overpriced bakeries in NYC. So yeah, all the feels for The Little Pie Company. Go check it out on West 43rd St, between 9th and 10th avenue.

So the show! Disenchanted was HILARIOUS! I really thought it was great and so did my sis! There was only one song that I didn’t like and it was super funny. outwardly so. I also liked that it wasn’t necessarily a musical with a book, but rather a variety show where each princess comes out and tells their stories the way they think they should be told. It was kitschy and witty and had the whole audience laughing from start to finish. I also appreciated that it was a 90 minute show- perfect! I highly recommend it for theater people as well as non-theater people- it is a super approachable show. Also, I need to play Cinderella in that show some time. Go see it and you will understand why!

I just realized that I talked for a huge paragraph about pie and only a bit about the musical…well, that’s where I am at. I love food, what can I say! I love theater too but Mississippi Mud Pie? It is easy to be upstaged by pie like that.

I mentioned that I saw another show last week. I went and met up with some friends and saw Something Rotten on BROADWAY! They had this stellar deal for their first few previews- their tagline was “Party like it’s 1595!” and the tix were $15.95! It was great! I had a lovely seat in the mezzanine and lemme say, that show delivered! For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Something Rotten is a new, original musical set in 1595, the year of The Bard, aka Shakespeare! Two brothers are struggling to write a hit play, partly because everyone is going cray cray for Billy Shakes. One of the brothers uses some unconventional means to figure out how to become successful and it becomes a huge mess. So, without giving away any of the juicy deats, this show mashes up a really witty musical with Shakespeare. It is a rip roaring comedy, with more jokes and puns than you can keep track of! It is one of the only shows I have seen that I am DYING to go back and see again. It was just so original, so different from everything else I have seen on Broadway. Nobody belted their face off or did a quintuple pirouette into a cooter slam and you know what- it was STILL AMAZING! I actually think it was better because it didn’t have those elements. This show really relied on some key elements of storytelling instead of showy, sometimes superficial pizzazz that musicals sometimes use to disguise a poor score or book. I am not saying those

Me at Something Rotten. I was crazy excited! Plus I had a big glass of vino so...

Me at Something Rotten. I was crazy excited! Plus I had a big glass of vino so…

elements of spectacle are bad, I just feel that sometimes they are used inappropriately in musical theater to cover up holes in the story (or the score, or the lyrics). I love those elements when they are used to enhance or move the story forward, but what I am saying is that this story didn’t really need it because it was so well crafted. They did have one HUGE and hilarious number but what made it spectacular for me was not necessarily the great dancing, but rather the smart lyrics and funny references throughout the song. The dancing enhanced the fantastic craftsmanship of an already hilarious song. So yeah. I loved the show. Sorry I ranted. I just got passionate. That’s a good thing, right? Also if I haven’t convinced you to see it by now, let me leave you with this. Christian Borle plays Shakespeare. And he is a rockstar. Literally.

If I had to critique anything, I thought the ending wrapped too fast and the ending number could’ve been more zany and a bit smarter. But that’s being picky. The show was kinda long, so I understand needing to wrap it quickly, but I felt that how they did it was a little poor. But not poor enough for me not to give it a 5 star review. It mixes my two passions, musical theater and Shakespeare. So good…so GO SEE IT!

I have been writing for a while..so I am gonna wrap this up! I am actually going to write a post about what I have been cooking. Not necessarily recipes, but easy ideas on what to make that is healthy while also being budget-friendly. So if blended veggie soups and quick taco meat makes your heart pitter patter- read my next post!

Also, thank you for reading. This blog is primarily for me, but I do like the idea that I am sharing my thoughts and opinions with people I love and care about. So thank you for reading! Stay in school kids!

xoxo D

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Back to the Grind, Moving to NYC and Auditioning Up a Storm

Hey there world!

So I did not consisently blog during the second half of tour…oh well. I was a busy girl touring around the country. Apparently it wasn’t the best time to start a blog.

But here I am now! A lot has happened since I last wrote something. I finished my tour, moved to NYC, and am getting back into the swing of auditions during the tail end of the season. It’s crazy and wonderful and I am constantly busy and spending money. All in all, it was what I suspected thus far.

So I moved into my apartment on 179th St. and Broadway which is right in the middle of the Washington Heights neighborhood. I really like it so far- I feel safe walking around, I get to practice my spanish, and the A train is express. What’s not to love? I haven’t been able to thoroughly explore the neighborhood but I hope to do so when my lovely boyfriend comes and visits me next week. We have a knack for exploration. My room is actually quite cozy, with a spacious closet and dresser. I pared down my wardrobe because I thought I would be lacking space but now I wish I had brought MORE clothes…and I will very soon! I also really like the kitchen, which is a big thing for me since I cook whenever possible. I’ll be posting some recipes soon! Also, we have cable television…like ACTUAL CABLE. I have never lived in an apartment with cable. It’s a whole new world!

Aside from the apartment, life in NYC is pretty good. I kind of hit the ground running as soon as I got here- I had 2 job interviews and an audition appointment in the first two days of being here. I got one of the jobs (yay survival jobs!) but I haven’t started working yet. The audition appointment was pretty bad…like, a very bad audition. I was surprisingly nervous and I had absolutely no breath control or support when singing. However, I guess I needed to get one really bad audition out of my system…thankfully I wasn’t too disappointed. The artistic director did tell me that I looked like Erin Davie. I don’t see the resemblance myself but the compliment was a nice consolation prize since I obviously DID NOT book that gig!

While I was on tour, I actually sent in a ton of video auditions which was a bit of a pain while on the road, but doable. I didn’t book anything (womp womp) but I learned a lot from those auditions and I got a good feel for how to tape them for the future. I really prefer in-person auditions, even though I despise the waiting and the cattiness of the audition room. Because no matter if I book the gig or not, when I am auditioning live I know that what I am giving is exactly what I am feeling in that moment, good or bad. I find it to be a much more authentic audition. The good thing about video auditions is that you can do as many takes as you want! But for me, that leads to overanalyzing and overthinking. But ya live and ya learn and then you get booked…that’s how the saying goes, right?

I am currently at Ripley Grier Studios in midtown waiting at an EPA, which, for all you non-theater folk, means Equity Principle Call. Equity is the theater union and as a non-member, you tend to sit around a lot and wait to see if there are any open spots. It’s a crappy waiting game but it is sometimes worth it since you could book a union gig- which means you get points towards your card! It isn’t looking good for today’s call…but I’m hanging out because I have nothing better to do today. I actually already had 2 auditions this morning. One for Princess Cruise Lines and another for Disney World Vocalists. The Disney call was actually a union call that was WIDE OPEN. Like, any and all people were being seen. I went in and immediately was put in line to audition and was out in 10 minutes. Both auditions went well though I didn’t get any callbacks in the room. Nonetheless I am happy. At least I felt good about how I presented myself this time! Honestly, I think I was too short for the one call…apparently the ladies are supposed to be 5’5″ and up? Eh, either way, they were good auditions so I can’t complain. I mean, I can but I won’t.   Because that’s just so toxic, am I right or am I right?

SO yeah. That’s my life at the mo. Crazy and spastic. I really need a coffee. And a visit from my boyfriend…but otherwise I am great! Just livin’ the dream and getting used to the city. Send me your tips for acclimating! I feel like I am doing well but I love hearing about little pieces of advice. Best resources for actors, best place for coffee, best place to sit and just use the wifi all day!?

Ciao for now peeps!
xoxo D

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