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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow day pics

While I've been known to complain about sand, I actually love the snow! These past few days Pennsylvania saw about 8 inches of snowfall, way more than predicted -- "an overachiever," in the words of the poor meteorologists who seemed genuinely bewildered and embarrassed by their oversight (it's okay, meteorologists, we forgive you; no one, least of all your Doppler radar, can understand MOTHER NATURE).

Two of Marshall's gym clients ended up canceling today, and I was working from home, so we decided to break at halftime and go outside and frolic. We ended up shoveling for like an hour, and then we decided to make a snowman! We gave him wild pine hair and Victorian buttons. Then Marshall scooped a bunch of snow into a pile and, like a wintry Michelangelo, scraped and molded it into a charming, overgrown snow bunny.

Below are some photos. They're really cute, so try not to vomit.

Happy December!

--FR





Sunday, December 8, 2013

Broadway Spotted took my singing course! And you can, too

If you're a lover of theater and Broadway, you've probably heard of the popular blog Broadway Spotted, which features all kinds of awesome theater-related articles, updates, and community events like book clubs (they even read my book, Unnaturally Green!) and, most recently, Broadway Secret Santa (of which I am happily a part!).

I bring this up because, today, Broadway Spotted herself (himself?) (the identity of its author remains a secret!) took my belting course, Belt Your Face Off! and wrote an awesome review!

Even cooler, the blog is currently offering a totally sweet promotion for readers, running through the month of December (or while supplies last):

1) Get $30 OFF your student enrollment with the code ISPOTSANTA, or --

2) Maybe even cooler -- if you're a Wicked or musical theater lover -- you can get $20 off BYFO enrollment PLUS a free signed copy of my book Unnaturally Green with the code GREENSANTA. There are only 15 copies available, so first come first serve!

This promotion only runs for a few weeks and has limited spots! Redeem your coupon code by clicking on the above coupon links, or by filling out the form below, or by visiting www.beltyourface.com, scrolling to the bottom, and clicking BROADWAY SPOTTED DECEMBER PROMO.

Weeeeeeeee!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Let me critique you! (Video)

Because there is nothing more fun rewarding than judging you critiquing singers' technique and song performances, I am now offering online video critiques!*


Who I Am 

In case you missed it, I'm a singer, performer, voice teacher, encouraging mentor person who wants to help you achieve your singing goals!!

How It Works

1. You film yourself singing a song, upload it to YouTube, and let me know what you want to work on.

2. I send you a video back in 1-3 biz days, addressing your technique, song performance, interpretation -- whatever you want! In said video, I will most likely be wearing a funny hat.**

 3. We end feeling great about ourselves, and the life-affirming power of music.

 *I would never judge you! I am really nice. I swear! I'm also honest. But nice!
 **Okay, I probably won't be wearing a funny hat.

***UPDATE: I've streamlined the video critique process and all you have to do is visit my website and fill out the form here.***

Cool Package Deal Thing

Students who are currently taking my online belting course Belt Your Face Off! get a discount! New people of the world interested in enrolling Belt Your Face Off! and getting a video critique get a sweet package deal. Wooooo!

If you're confused about this, that's okay -- just fill out the form below and all will become clear! (I'll email you!)

Friday, November 15, 2013

I think I just met an alien

I'm a woman. I've always been a woman. I have no way of knowing what my life would be like if I weren't a woman. All I can do is witness themes and patterns that emerge from my day-to-day existence.

And here is one of them:

SO many men suck. Like, SO many. And maybe -- just maybe -- they're especially awful to women like me -- meaning, badasses who speak and ambulate and go about their lives freely.

When I say "men," I don't mean all men. In fact, I'm thinking of a certain type of grown-up-baby-boy: the people who have manipulated their way to "power" and "success" -- or, at least, the trappings of such titles (expensive cars, trophy girlfriends, etc.) -- but are really just trying to fill the vast void that exists inside of them.

I have money and power -- but I still hate myself!

(You know the type.)

Allow me to tell you about an experience I just had while working on my laptop at Starbucks.

Two men sat at a table across from me and proceeded to yell about how amazing they were at everything on earth. Namely, their achievements in the field of BUSINESS! Business, business, business.

Men and business!

One wore trousers with small anchors on them and had a shirt collar that was way too large for his neck. It reminded me of an alien you might see in Men in Black that's been strapped into a badly proportioned disguise. The other guy had on one of those wide, colorful ties from the 90s.

The business-speak was out of control:

"I can rake in $10,000 a month if the client signs on!"

"It's not my problem -- it's their problem!"

"You've seen my numbers. You've seen my numbers! I'm killing it out there!"

Even through my headphones, I could hear them SCREAMING about themselves, and my stomach started to churn. Had they no regard for others? Weren't they aware that they sounded ridiculous? Didn't they care that others had work to do?

Frustrated, I took out my headphones, fully prepared to go over and say something about the volume of their voices. But, as I did, I noticed that they'd switched topics, and were now talking about their respective fitness regimens.

"I need to get back into the gym," said Wide Colorful Tie. "Ever since my shoulder injury, it's been so hard to lift."

Bingo.

My fiancé just opened a gym, only ten minutes away! No need to confront these ridiculous individuals -- instead, I can simply walk over and make nice, and maybe connect with them over this shared point of interest.

Business cards in hand (I always have some in my purse) I put on my most winning smile. I was even wearing my new Zooey Deschanel glasses, so of course I was extra endearing.

"Excuse me. I couldn't help but overhear -- and pardon my eavesdropping -- that you were looking to get back into working out? My fiancé just opened a gym and I think it could be right up your alley!" I placed the business cards on the table in front of them, and turned to Wide Colorful Tie. "He specializes in individual coaching," I said, "which could be especially helpful after your shoulder injury."

Anchor Pants Alien Head sneered.

Uh-oh.

"What is this?" he sputtered, not looking at me.

"It's a business card," I said. "For a gym." (My asshole-antennae were prickling. Abort! Abort!) "Sorry for the intrusion."

I began to walk away.

"Oh, I've heard of this," said Wide Colorful Tie, which was certainly a lie, since the gym just opened last month, but okay: Business Men need to be in the know.

"Great!" I said. So I talked a bit more about it: where it was located, the types of membership, that sort of thing.

"What's so great about it?" interjected Anchor Pants Alien Head. He looked at his friend. "She comes over here and tells us it's great."

That's when the fire began to rage.

She.

It's a classic way to dismiss somebody: talk about me in the third person, and I'm not even there. Was sexism a factor? Again, I've only ever been a woman, so I can't tell -- and maybe gender has nothing to do with it. But maybe it does, though. I can't help but wonder whether this would have gone differently if it were my male fiancé, standing there talking to them instead of me, an articulate woman in glasses.

I turned and took a long look at Anchor Pants Alien Head. His face was sunken, his eyes were ringed with dark circles, and his gaze remained transfixed on the Starbucks table -- because making eye contact would relinquish too much power (or maybe this is just how aliens need to interact, lest I catch a peek at his reptilian slit pupils).

"Well..." I delivered the quick, two-sentence pitch: the gym has expert training, safe strength-based programming in a small studio setting.

"I already have a gym membership," Anchor Pants Alien Head said, waving the business card out to one side like it had been smeared with smallpox. "And I bought my girlfriend a year membership to La Maison, 50 bucks a month."

Girlfriend. I was dangerously close to up-chucking. Instead, I leaned in -- Zooey Deschanel glasses catching the recessed lighting -- and plucked the card back from his hand.

"Well then! You won't be needing that, sir!" I'd never grinned so wide. "Clearly, you're in phenomenal shape."

"She took the card away from me!" Anchor Pants Alien Head said. "She took it!"

"Because I don't want you to have it," I replied.

His eyes tilted up, until we made contact. I steeled myself and kept smiling.

WWWSDIMIB: What Would Will Smith Do In Men In Black?

As I looked at him, I realized that this was no reptile alien. I was staring into a cold, empty room.

"Bye! Have a great day!"

I returned to my seat. And as I put my headphones back in my ears, I thought: did I just learn a lesson?

Maybe.

The lesson could be: don't put yourself out there, because people will just be jerks! It doesn't ever make sense to go out on a limb! People will only disappoint you!

But instead, I choose to interpret it as the following --

People who live life in such a closed off way are sad. Ladies reading this -- or, anyone, for that matter -- please don't ever let anybody intimidate you. The Anchor Pants Alien Head types are everywhere. But you know that fire you feel inside when something like this happens? Don't let it fizzle! Let it fuel you to be your assertive, wonderful, unapologetic self.

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

Okay, fine. Maybe I'd punch him. Lightly.

But strong enough to show I mean business.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What to wear at your next audition

I'm a video-making machine! Check out my latest YouTube video on how to style yourself for your next audition! WARNING: contains PG-13 material!*

 

*Sort of.**
**Not really.***
***But sort of.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Who are you and what have you done with The Mindy Project?

I don't relish being a critic (what's the famous adage? "No statue has ever been erected to a critic"?) but occasionally I'll offer my two cents when I think something is whack and needs addressing. Not in a mean way, just in a this-is-my-opinion, take-it-or-leave-it way. I don't purport to have infallible beliefs or sensibilities; but I do think -- when it comes to storytelling -- I have a rather finely tuned bullsh*t detector.

So I'm gonna be a critic for a quick sec.

Enter The Mindy Project, a television program currently in its second season on Fox.

If you're unfamiliar with The Mindy Project, it began as a delightfully whimsical show starring the lovely and talented Mindy Kaling (of The Office and bestselling-memoir fame) that was more or less about one woman's search for love and self-actualization in New York City. Tongue firmly planted in cheek, the show ushered us alongside the eponymous heroine (a shallow but well-meaning gynecologist in a somewhat zany Ob/Gyn practice) as she endured failed dates, baby deliveries, fashion faux-pas, and more.

Season one was (in my opinion) beyond amazing. Laugh-out-loud funny. The characters were believable but unique: flawed, but always sympathetic. The dialogue was witty, but never at the expense of a character's arc. Mindy herself was insanely charming. I, like many other ladies I've spoken with, could picture myself in her shoes.

The cast, on the whole, was fantastic. After I forced my close friends and family to watch season one using my Hulu Plus login, all of them commented on how markedly outstanding the acting was -- particularly the performances by Chris Messina (as the sensitive but repressed Danny Castellano, M.D.), and Mark Duplass (as the self-righteous but hot Brendan Deslaurier) -- both movie actors who chose to do small screen in this case because Mindy Kaling is so talented and her writing is so fantastic (hell yes I scoured YouTube for interviews in which they said exactly that).

Bottom line: watching season one was like taking a class in awesome TV. Sure there were some problems (there were some cast changes, some of the plotting was out of order) but this is par for the course with a new show, right? At its core -- when all was said and done -- the show never compromised its standards of excellence for the sake of a cheap joke, and it always remained faithful to its characters.

Enter The Mindy Project, season two.

What happened? No, really though. What. Happened.

To me, the show is unrecognizable. The season two premiere was funny, yes, and gestured toward last year's greatness. But then...it plummeted. If you happen to watch Mindy and feel like reading on for the sake of indulging me, here is a bullet point list of all the stuff that is driving me insane:

  • The show has become a revolving door for new characters. James Franco! That guy from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia! That guy from Mad Men (who is super weird on Mad Men but, okay fine, is actually really cute on Mindy)! Sure, in season one, Mindy went on a lot of dates, and there were a lot of guest stars, but not to this extent. I can't keep track of any of these people! Who are they? What are they doing? Where are they from? Another planet, that's where. Where everyone watches bad TV, and no guest-star contracts can last longer than two episodes.
  • Similarly, what's with the new doctor guy? I don't even remember his name because I blocked it out. His main character trait is "Says 'Bro' A Lot." He's not compelling, not that great an actor (sorry), and, to me, is like a watered-down version of Barney from How I Met Your Mother
  • Due to the above two points, the characters about whom I actually care are being woefully short-changed. It's like they're not even on the show anymore. Chris Messina makes the most of his paltry material (one scene, tops, each episode) and Mark Duplass isn't even on the show anymore. Ike Barinholtz, as male nurse Morgan Tukkers (also a star cast member throughout season one) is equally elusive. What happened? Writer's room ADHD? These are people we've grown to care about, and it feels super cheap to abandon their storylines in the service of stunt casting.
  • So many season one characters have been cut completely! Where are Mindy's friends? Where's her brother? The younger girl who lives in her building? Where is anyone or anything that gave Mindy a backstory? LITERALLY WHAT HAPPENED THOUGH?
  • Everything that made season one interesting and spelled "character development" for Mindy has been swept under the rug or straight-up discarded. Her engagement to Pastor Casey, as well as her mounting affection for Danny, were so well plotted and compelling to watch. Then, poof! It was all gone in the span of a couple episodes. Why? Why hit the reset button? Pastor Casey was a great character, but his demise (he decides to become a DJ, and then he and Mindy break up) was so far fetched and difficult to watch. Where are the season two arcs? Just as Mindy and Casey's relationship's development took a third of a season to play out, so should their breakup! Life takes time! Give it the dramatization it deserves! And Mindy's tension with Danny? It's as if none of their heart-pounding moments of connection ever happened in the first place. 
  • Fart jokes? Fart jokes. 
  • Dr. Jeremy Reed is totally different and totally annoying. He's unrecognizable! In season one he was the handsome, charismatic, cool, calm and collected member of the practice who hated confrontation and cared about little else than buttering up his patients and maintaining an untarnished reputation. This season? He's nagging, controlling, and antagonistic -- keeping everyone in line! -- and reminding the new, bro-y doctor that he needs to act more serious! Like, what? Also, they made him fat? Which I guess is a "character trait?" Except it's not and it's terrible and weird.
  • The "rivalry plot" has, at this point, played out ten million times and I'm sick of it. In season one, the Deslaurier brothers (holistic midwives who practice upstairs) served as hilarious rivals to the ob/gyn practice. Sure, the stakes were low, and they were basically innocuous, but it was a very realistic and compelling antagonism that spawned all kinds of interesting scenarios and plot developments. This season? See: revolving door casting. James Franco, the Always Sunny guy, the bro-y doc: they're all rivals who appear out of nowhere and shake things up! Except they don't do anything, and then they either leave the show or fade into the monotonous landscape of this strange, unfocused, and flailing show.
Wow. Kind of harsh, I know. 

Do I feel better? Honestly? No! Because I really love the show! And I love Mindy Kaling! I believe in her! I believe in The Mindy Project! I want it to succeed!

Sadly, what began as a believable show full of believable characters has turned into a farce. Because season two is so unrecognizable, I choose to believe, in my bruised and searching heart, that this is the work of some misguided "executive" or something, grappling for better ratings -- snatching the reins and forcing Mindy to make horrible creative decisions. Because I cannot believe Mindy herself would let this happen. I simply cannot!

Come back, Mindy! Come back!

Your (wounded, but still hopeful) fan,
Felicia



Friday, November 8, 2013

How to perform a solo song in concert

Hello! I'm excited to release my latest YouTube video: How To Perform a Solo Song In Concert! Unlike many of my videos, this one doesn't address vocal technique, but rather attempts to deconstruct the art of preparing for, approaching, and executing a solo song in the context of a concert, recital, or talent show. Because, believe it or not, performing in a concert requires a skill set that's in some ways very distinct from performing a role in a musical.

It's a vast subject that can't possibly be covered in one video, but there are definitely some strategies and approaches that will help you to deliver your best solo performance. Check it out below! (And don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!) (And to belt your face off!)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I'll be playing Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady!"


After a brief hiatus from the stage, I'll be returning to my musical theater roots to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT on January 25, 2014!

The show unites Yale alumni -- undergrads and graduates of the Yale School of Drama alike -- for two semi-staged readings of the beloved musical. The twist is that it will be performed as a radio play, with live sound effects by real Foley artists happening live onstage. Rehearsal is a one-week whirlwind in the week leading up to the show, so it's going to be a bit of an adventure! Both the matinee and evening performances will be recorded for airplay on NPR.

Do you want to come see it? Tickets just went on sale, and I've been told they sell out quickly for this type of performance (last year the same production group put on Kiss Me Kate). If you're interested, please click here or call (800) 745-3000!

In case you're curious, this project is perfectly emblematic of the type of performing I'm hoping to pursue at this point in my career: interesting, enriching projects that will take me outside my comfort zone (Cockney accent! soprano singing! Yale alumni!). I'm not back to pounding the pavement, audition-wise, but I'm certainly open to doing really cool theater stuff.

Okay! That is all.

More info coming soon!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The best advice I will ever give you

Today, on my train ride to New York City, two interesting things happened.

In case you didn't know, I commute to NYC from outside Philly every once in a while for various wheelings and dealings because I'm gangsta and/or trying to support myself. The train ride is about an hour and fifteen minutes from scenic Trenton, where my fiancé drops me off in our car before riding off into the industrial mist.

Usually while riding the train I pull out my laptop and clack away at my latest writing project, or I just play Snood. But today felt like a special day. For starters, I was wearing my glasses. Believe it or not, this is a rare event (even though in my online belting course I'm wearing my glasses 90% of my time (whatever, my allergies were acting up)) -- because, the thing is, when I wear my glasses I feel extremely vulnerable. What if I get punched in the face and they break? What if a thief runs by and snatches them away from me? What then! Blindness, that's what.

Anyway, I was wearing my glasses, and I didn't feel like doing any work. So instead I started doing something strange. It's called EFT Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping. And here is what it is.

EFT Tapping is a kind of acupressure that can be self-administered in order to alleviate stress and re-program your body to stop freaking out about certain stuff. It can be done through simple tapping, using a couple of your fingers on certain pre-determined locations along your body's meridian points. They are, in order: the "karate chop" part of your hand, the inner part of your eyebrow, the outer part of your eye, under your eye, on your mustache, on your chin, on the tip of your collarbone, the top of your ribcage, and the top of your head.

And you have to think certain stuff while you do it. There's a whole strategy and technique involved -- but, basically, while tapping, you focus on something that stresses you out -- whether that's a traumatizing image, or an event, or a physical pain or ache that's currently manifesting in your body -- and then you essentially reset your amygdala and nervous system to flush out any anxiety or negativity associated with that bad thing.

And -- here is the cool part -- it works! On a superficial level -- stress headaches, gone! poof! -- and on a deep-seeded, fear and belief-system sort of way (afraid of public speaking? not anymore! gone! poof!) it's kind of magical!

Yeah, it's slightly more complicated than that -- but emphasis on the word slightly. In general, anybody can learn it, and fast. In other words, it's kind of is the best thing ever invented. (Please check out this website and read this book if you're interested in learning how to do it. Honestly, I don't get any kickbacks from this; I just think EFT is the bomb digs.)

Back to the story. So I'm on NJ Transit, tapping myself. I'm really into it, too. I'm Italian; I get passionate about everything. Luckily, I have my own seat by the window, which was easy to claim because Trenton is the train's origin station, and every time I step on it's always wide open.

I'm so relaxed from the tapping that I decide to take off my glasses at the first stop (Hamilton), at which point some more commuters get on. Princeton Junction rolls by, too, and I'm still tapping way, in a delirious, stress-free fog, because I can't see more than one foot in front of me. I'm tapping, tapping, tapping, working on some stubborn shoulder tension that probably has to do with the commute itself. Maybe it has to do with my childhood! Who even knows!

I feel so good when I tap!

Meanwhile, I have a vague awareness of shapes and colors as what I'm assuming are people traipse by, searching for seats. Maybe I'm even swaying back and forth a little, like Stevie Wonder at the keyboard. It's just so damn relaxing.

Then, I realize something. The train is PACKED.

Like, standing room only.

But there is one empty seat.

Just one.

And it's next to me.

The moral of the story: when riding on a train, tap yourself and gently sway. You will never have to worry about anyone sitting next to you, ever again.

--FLR


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Like a wine's flavor after being uncorked, my self-promotion gets bolder

If you happen to follow me on any of my social media channels, this week you've witnessed me going buckwild promoting a project I've just released into the internet-o-sphere called Belt Your Face Off!. And since I've surrendered all humility/restraint/self-awareness elsewhere, why not continue the tradition here? In the spirit of commerce, and America! And singing.

(Please forgive me. I know not what I do.) (Only kidding, I absolutely know what I do.) (But a girl's gotta eat!) ("Or she'll end up on the street!" says Nicole Kidman, in Moulin Rouge.)

HERE I GO. Belt Your Face Off! is a complete online singing course designed to teach you how to belt, which is the crazy kind of singing that Elphabas everywhere do in Wicked (to perform said "Songs of Death" like "Defying Gravity" and "Wizard and I," etc.). I've been a longtime practitioner of belting (specifically in my green girl days, as well as when I played other roles in college), and have taught belting to a bunch o' fun voice students -- so I decided to record everything I know into a mega-informative belting course that will make you laugh, cry, and SING TO THE HEAVENS! That's right! 25 lectures! Almost 4 hours of video content! So much info on belting, you won't know what to do with yourself! YOU WILL PROBABLY EXPLODE!

That being said, I've also published a how-to starter-guide-e-book thing (also titled Belt Your Face Off!), designed to get your feet wet, which you can download to your Kindle or Kindle App. Get it here for a mere 99 cents!

Finally, here are two video excerpts from the course. The first is the short promo vid designed for the general public, and the second is the introduction to the actual course itself, where I tell you a bit more about what's in store. Please watch them if you're curious! Or don't watch them! You can literally do whatever you want!

Love and singing, Felicia





Monday, November 4, 2013

Learn How to Belt: A Complete Online Belting Course

Calling all singers! The time has come to learn how to belt!

How to belt in an easy to follow online course
This baby knows what's up
Belting, or belt singing, is one of the coolest types of singing there is. It's that chesty, powerhouse sound that's practiced by pop divas, rock idols, and Broadway stars. It's the kind of singing I had to do a lot when I performed as Elphaba in Wicked. But a great deal of mystery still surrounds belting. Is healthy belting attainable? Is learning to belt even possible? Are only a select few destined to belt?

The truth is, belting can definitely be taught! And in a healthy, sustainable manner that won't fry your voice. Very few are born with the ability to magically belt without training; instead, singers like me learn very specific belting techniques, warmups, exercises, and "tricks" designed specifically for this kind of singing. All you need is the right instructor (ahem!) and an online singing course designed specifically for belting (ahem, ahem!).

This, my friends, is the strategy behind my singing course, whimsically titled Belt Your Face Off! A Singer's Complete Guide To Belting (which is accompanied by a starter e-book guide that you can download to Kindle).

Without further ado, here's a quick promo video!



To summarize: Belt Your Face Off! is an A-to-Z lesson series that provides singers with all the tools they need to belt, including 25 video and written lectures, 30+ warmups, and over 3.5 hours of online singing instruction. Both men and women are encouraged to take it, and all singing levels are welcome.

The other cool thing is that, as my student, you get to chill with me on the class server, as I check in daily to answer any specific questions that come up on your singing journey. So it's going to be a fun process for both of us!

What else??
  • Access to the course is for life, so you don't have to worry about rushing through it. 
  • The site hosting my course offers a free smartphone/tablet app, so you can take me with you on the go and we can belt our faces off literally anywhere! Especially small confined spaces!
  • You can also check out my $0.99 e-book starter guide here if you want to read more about belting and get some helpful initial instruction in book form. It's only available for Kindle at the moment, but any smartphone or device can download the Kindle app, where you can then locate my book.
I sincerely hope all y'all singers, aspiring belters, and cool dudes will take this course with me! It's going to be a blast. And you're going to learn how to belt your face off.

Love,
Felicia


Saturday, November 2, 2013

BookWorks featured UG on its website!

Yesterday, Ron Callari BookWorks wrote a lovely article on self-publishing success stories and creative marketing. Among the books featured was my li'l green bundle o' joy, Unnaturally Green!

Thought it would be cool to mention here since it was all of you who were so irreplaceable throughout the entire writing, publishing, and marketing process. You each deserve your own feature article, too!

Greenly, FLR

Friday, November 1, 2013

Learn how to belt in my complete online singing course!

I have exciting news!

We're just a few days away from the release of my complete online singing course, Belt Your Face Off! A Singer's Complete Guide to Belting, dropping on the internet this Monday, November 4 at noon EST!

The course features yours truly talking/teaching/singing/making merry on a bunch o' videos, as I guide you through singing techniques that are integral to belt-singing (think Elphaba in WICKED The Musical) and teach you how to belt! Belting -- the act of singing in a chesty register at a higher range of notes -- might seem mysterious and weird, but it's actually very teachable and attainable! You don't have to be born with a belting "gift." There are very clear strategies, techniques and "tricks" that I've honed over the years and that I want to share with all of you.

Belt Your Face Off features 24 videos, 3.5 hours of content, and over 30 warmups and exercises. All levels are welcome. And we get to interact on the class server through regular Q and A!

The total package costs $99 per student -- but I'll be offering a special discount code via Facebook and this here blog for people who are either (A) willing to share the link to my course via their profile, (B) willing to retweet my upcoming announcement on Twitter.

**Update! The course is now LIVE! Check it out!*

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wicked's ten-year anniversary approaches

Greetings, all!

Tomorrow, October 30, 2013, Wicked will celebrate its ten-year anniversary. Ten magical years on Broadway! Woo, yay, applause!

Wicked is a truly remarkable show, a transcendent experience for so many theater-goers, and one that changed my life *not just for the better* [cue music] but also FOR GOOD.

(I went there. Don't groan. It would have been worse if I HADN'T gone there.)

But, to be perfectly honest, this ten-year anniversary shindig is bittersweet. Why? [Deep breath.] Because Unnaturally Green wants to be included!

I wrote Unnaturally Green as a kind of ode to Wicked. My admiration for the show, its creators, its team, and its green heroine, Elphaba, that I was so fortunate to play, is hopefully extremely apparent within its pages. Since then, my admiration has not dwindled, not by a long shot. If anything, I have even more respect for Wicked and its legacy.

What I'm bummed about is that I wish Unnaturally Green could be included, just a little, in the ten-year anniversary stuff.  Amidst all the celebration of Wicked and its legacy and how much the show means to fans, I thought it would be pretty cool for Wicked to give a brief shout-out to Unnaturally Green, or just, like, tweet about it, or mention it on Facebook, in some, small way as part of the festivities.

But, alas!

The thing is, I get it. Wicked is a giant thing. As an entity it's so ginormous, and multi-faceted, and the powers-that-be need to protect its legacy. It comprises countless people -- the hundreds upon hundreds of cast members, crew and creative team members, business associates, theater ushers... the list goes on. It's a powerful brand. And if Unnaturally Green isn't deemed up to par with this brand, then it makes sense that it shouldn't be endorsed, even with something as seemingly trivial as a tweet.

But....but...!

I don't want to sound self-pitying (maybe it's too late). I'm totally grateful to Wicked for having cast me, and for giving me the green light for the book. But I'm also super proud of Unnaturally Green, the reaction its garnered from Wicked fans and lovers of theater, and I believe it would only bring good into the world if it were shared -- especially with the people who most want to read it (the fans!).

I wanted to share my thoughts on this blog because it would be phony if I didn't. I believe that honest blogging is important. I couldn't not mention ten years of Wicked. Because that's really freaking cool! But I also couldn't not mention my feelings about Unnaturally Green feeling like the redheaded stepchild (no offense to redheads, I think you're amazing), tugging at the pant leg of Wicked being like, "Notice me! Notice me!"

In the end, I'll stop my huffing, eat some Halloween candy, and be okay. I'll be more than okay! See, I'm a writer. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. But then it's smooth sailing once I speak my piece.

That being said, I hope you all enjoy the ten-year anniversary, and to those of you who are going to see the show on Broadway tomorrow night: blow it a kiss for me!

Love,
Felicia


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wicked's writers talk about its genesis

Check out this fascinating video of composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz and book writer Winnie Holzman describing the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating Wicked:



Watch live streaming video from newplay at livestream.com

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How does one go to the beach?

This week on the Fourth (and Third and Second) of July I ventured to Long Beach Island where I marveled at many things, including a sunglasses shop called "Sunglass Menagerie."

Holla, Tennessee Williams

More importantly, I was struck by the perplexing act of beach-going and its attendant challenges. Allow me to enumerate.

1. Sand

Sand is one of those things you have to embrace fully or you're doomed. It's like Death. Make peace with Sand, and then you will be able to live a happy life. But if you fight it, you're going to go insane.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy Sand, once I've parked myself on my beach chair, and am reading my Us Weekly, wearing my large and ridiculous sun hat (I don't actually own a large and ridiculous sun hat, but I wish I did). At this point, Sand and I have become one; I run my feet through it, I marvel at its infinitude and the way it makes me toesies tingle; I feel a better person for being so close to nature in all its fine-grained glory.

Here is the problem, though: I try to leave the Sand, and it won't let me. We are still one, long after the beach, long after I've engaged in the futile exercise of "rinsing off" in an outdoor shower. It stays with me in my car, on my clothes, in my hair and my ears...

And tingling toesis in your bed sheets is a very different sensation, indeed!

What I'd like to know is, how do people navigate the beach/dry-land dichotomy so seamlessly? I think it's like a mental fortitude thing. They accept Sand, rather than try to go "against the grain" (ha!) and then they laugh at poor, neurotic people like me.

2. Bikinis

Even though some people wear one-piece swimsuits as a sort of retro-throwback look, I feel like the convention nowadays is just to suck it up (literally) (ha!) and wear a bikini. You just have to do it. Sorry, Bub. Get into your two piece. We are all waiting.

And it's not that I hate doing this. I just don't look forward to it.

I'm about to blow your mind for a quick sec: Bikinis are exactly the same as wearing an underwear and bra. I know: your mind is now blown. And while we don't walk around in our bras and panties in normal society, the context of the beach somehow makes it okay. Why? Why, I ask you. Why.

Also, I love (hate) how magazines write extensive articles on which bikini is the most flattering for your body shape. As if altering the fabric that covers 10% of your body will affect the way said body looks on the whole. Like, "Oh, thank God I'm wearing this strapless strip of nothing...my love handles are now invisible."

Don't get me wrong: I'm mostly okay with wearing colorful bra and panties for all the world to see. I just want us all to acknowledge that it is weird.

3. The ocean

The water is, like, always freezing? At least in the northeast. Do we just pretend it is not? That seems to be the only way to go about it.

4. Sunscreen

Sunscreen also seems to be a metaphor for something. Something futile. No matter how much you apply, you will always have to apply more. #humanity #existence #thesearchformeaning

5. What do you do on the beach?

I realize that the sound of waves is relaxing and laying out in the sun gives some people (though not this writer) that enviable, sun-kissed glow -- but what exactly is the purpose of the beach? Often I go there with friends, ostensibly to socialize. But then, once we arrive, we all just kind of...sit. Or sleep. Or read.

And that's it.

I mean, I definitely think sitting and sleeping and reading are important. But aren't there better, more efficient ways to do this? I do all of those things, a lot, and I can do them while wearing clothes, instead of a colorful bra and panties out in public, and I don't have to worry about getting Sand on my Kindle.

Next time maybe I will buy one of those paddle game things where you hit a small ball back and forth and onto the sitting/sleeping/reading people next to you.

In conclusion.

While, overall, I enjoy going to the beach, I will never understand people who do it all the time and pretend like nothing about it is difficult and upsetting. Maybe it's a genetics thing. Maybe the ability to tan gene is part and parcel with the beach-loving gene. We will never know.

What did you do for the Fourth of July? Do you love the beach? Do you hate that I just complained about it for 800 words? Let's discuss.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fake tans are whack

Last night I decided to give myself a fake tan. Normally I don't subject myself to this sort of thing. But I'm going to the beach for the Fourth of July and I didn't want to traipse around in a bikini while appearing consumptive.

So I used L'Oreal Sublime Self-Tanning Towelettes. Here is the resulting photo:



It was a great trauma. There are streaks everywhere. I have even more sympathy now for the toddlers of Toddlers and Tiaras who are led unwittingly into chambers called "tanning tents," which are like nightmarish reimaginings of the circus. Also, who am I kidding, their lives are way more terrible than mine, it's just really sad.

But what gives! I did everything right! I used the little cloth thingy all over my body, trying to guess where it was going, where it had been, as at that point the tanner formula was invisible, like carbon monoxide the silent killer, and I just had to have faith in myself, and in tanning.

Perhaps I didn't wait long enough for it to dry? But listen to this: I waited thirty-five minutes! Thirty-five minutes of standing around, naked, while I rotated my body like a rotisserie chicken in front of the air conditioner. After thirty-five minutes I was still covered in a sort of unsettling, muggy film, like a physical manifestation of guilt, but what else could I do? I decided it was dry enough. It had to be.

So I went to bed. Like Christmas Eve, the magic was supposed to happen during the night.

And by magic I mean: streaks down my arms, between my boobs, on the inner part of my thigh...it was a mess (see photo), but I suppose it was magical, in that it magically went from looking okay to looking terrible.

Now I am left with the question of why. The package said "wait until dry." Perhaps I went to bed prematurely and smudged it all over myself and my bed sheets. But how long must a woman wait for her tanner? I had to move on, my friends. I had to move on.

Maybe I am sensitive because I feel this experience demonstrates an overarching theme of (and problem I have with) beautifying practices. They...take...so....long. I don't have time to stand around naked for longer than thirty-five minutes. I'm sorry, I just don't. I would like to run errands or stand in front of my window or take out the trash and would prefer not to do it while naked.

Am I alone in this feeling?

In the end, I have decided not to blame myself, but the product. And the fact that my 1/8 Irish heritage somehow overrides my 7/8 Italian heritage, depriving me of a ruddy and sanguine complexion, and leaving me pale, confused and covered in self-tanner.

Please share your thoughts on the practice of self-tanning and/or Toddlers and Tiaras. Are any of you giving yourselves fake tans, right now, as we speak? If so, stop!

--FR

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vine: another great way to be weird

Hello! How are you? Feeling weird? Good, me too. This is why I'm here to tell you about something called Vine -- the latest social media craze.

What is Vine, besides a thing on which grapes grow?

Vine is an app for your phone or tablet or [name of other strange, reality-displacing device] that allows you to film short films by tapping on the screen and holding. When you lift your finger, the filming stops. You can't go back and edit. And you only get six seconds.

A Twitter exchange that I enjoyed

Recently I tweeted something sort of funny, and then a bunch of people tweeted a bunch more funny things in response, and now I would like to share these things with you. Okay, bye!


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mika is basically the coolest person who ever lived

Dudes. Get ready for unadulterated awesome.

Singer-songwriter Mika has just released a kick-ass single...and it mixes "Popular" into the chorus! I'm talking "Popular" from Wicked, y'all. I have special love for this because, (1) Ariana Grande duets with him, and she's great, (2) Mika reminds me of an attractive British man named Stefano with whom I once attended college, so sometimes I imagine we're secret friends, (3) musical theater is officially taking over the world, in a good, non-apocalyptic way.

Anyway, the single is called "Popular Song" and it's basically the coolest thing ever; the music video is all Tim Burton-y and sexy and empowering, somehow at the same time. Click below to give it a listen, or click here to buy it on iTunes.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston.

I cry very easily. This week a few sturdy shoulders helped catch the tears. I was depressed, then mad, then confused, then cautiously triumphant, and then still depressed.

Of course I am also proud of Boston, of the police force, of the "happy" ending to this terrible, terrible event.

And what's coming now?

The future. I don't know what redemption is. Not in real life. Will justice be served or merely invoked? Dzhokhar is younger than my little sister. I'm not forgiving him. I want to shake him. Or go back in time and change his mind.

The past. Always more pure than the present.

I just talked to my mother on the phone. She told me the first bomber, the older brother, lived two minutes from the house I grew up in. We used to trick-or-treat at his house, in a development full of kids and families. There were helicopters circling on Tuesday and she didn't know why.

I hope I never have to serve on a jury. I can't ever look at someone and wash my hands of them. My first impulse is never to "convict." Doesn't that mean I lack "conviction?" I have a bleeding heart, I guess. I don't know what that really means. Maybe that I bleed for everybody. It gets all over the place.

The victims first.

Martin Richard.
Krystle Campbell.
Lu Lingzi.
Sean Collier.

But then there's always more. It never runs out. Stupid heart. I wish there were a cure. I don't think there is.


--FLR

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How I'm feeling about Spring. And some other stuff...



It's Spring! How do I know this? I feel sweaty all the time and everything smells amazing. It's the scent of cut grass, of flowers, of anticipation, of my boyfriend... (He smells so good! Do you know people fall in love not with each other, but with each other's bacteria? Or something like that. SCIENCE.)

I recently took a personality test and discovered I am an INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging), a type of person that comprises a mere 1% of the population. According to a bunch of websites, INFJs live troubled and yet enriched lives, constantly being like "Who Am I, What Is Life."

Anyway, my "F" preference (Feeling as opposed to Thinking) is no joke; growing up I wept openly and frequently; in seventh grade English class after reading Of Mice and Men I practically had to be escorted out of the building; I even sometimes felt sympathy toward inanimate objects, like unopened DVDs that had fallen to obsolescence.

Don't laugh at me. I'm an INFJ, and I might take it hard.

I AM A HIGHLY EXPRESSED FEELER.

How do I know this / why does this relate to Spring, Felicia you weirdo? Because I'm flipping OUT right now about the beauty of Spring! I'm not just seeing, I'm motherf*cking FEELING nature, know what I'm saying? I'm encountering a bright yellow bush and I'm like, HOLY CRAP THAT'S A BRIGHT YELLOW BUSH HOW IS IT SO COOL?

Perhaps it's because I'm sensing an empirical difference between this Spring and all other Springs in recent memory. Because, for the first time in approximately four years, I'm witnessing nature not as a side note to concrete, but as an actual centerpiece, a beautiful living breathing pollen-filled THING!

And why is that?

Well...the good ol' Marshall and I have moved from our Manhattan bedroom to a cute little town called Wayne, PA. [GASPS!] I know, I know. It may seem sudden for y'all, but I assure you it wasn't on our end. We have our reasons. They're good reasons. Marshall and I have career aspirations that were proving quite tricky in New York City. And while we were juuuuuuuust getting by, we were like, maybe it would be cool not to have our rent cost more than our lives?

Did you know there are other birds besides pigeons? Bugs besides the ones you find crawling in your sink? (They chirp, too, and sustain these long musical notes, like singing robots.) That there is such a thing as breeze, and listening to silence, or the wind?

All filed under: things I forgot while living in NYC.

Before you think I'm hating on my city, let me say: to each his own. I love certain stuff about NYC, and I loathe certain stuff about NYC. Part of growing up, and getting a grip, is making choices -- and this applies also to your living situation. Sometimes we make choices before we really know who we are (me in 2008, just out of college). Our geography is one of those choices. (My career in theater was another.) Now I choose not to live by default or by inaction, but to seek out a situation that works best for me.

So we're getting to know a new area that has long been appealing (Marshall grew up in PA, a few towns over) and following our dreams! As with any life shift, it's a process, and we're at the beginning of a long road. But I'm excited to see where it takes us...

And at least the road is lined with flowering yellow bushes.

Are any of you going through similar upheavals? How do you feel? Or, more generally, are you loving Spring?

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's been so long...

What do I blog about? Tell me!

Mostly I'm posting this to relieve pressure after having been inexplicably silent since January. POOF! Pressure is off.

Well that felt good.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to Warm Up Your Voice (New Singing Tips Video!)

YouTubers who watch my Super Short Singing Lessons (a video series I do on my channel) have requested a vocal warmup video. And behold! I have done it!

Guest teacher, singer extraordinaire, and all around handsome dude Sam Port (you may recognize him from other such riveting videos as this or this) joins me as we discuss what exercises will help you to hone singing technique, why you should celebrate "crack," and how you can prepare for your next performance. Hope you like it!

Monday, January 21, 2013

REVIEW! Les Misérables: Miserable, But Enjoyable


If there's one thing you must know about me, it's that I love pasta. If there are two things you must know about me, it's that I also love Les Misérables the stage musical (which I shall henceforth refer to with its gangsta abbrev "Les Miz").

Les Miz is my jam. I grew up listening to the soundtrack nonstop. I relish the (repetitive?) melodic themes, the moments when the rhymes don't quite work ("I am warning you Javert / I'm a stronger man by far!" --oh, Valjean). I can sing the final soprano note of "One Day More" so piercingly that all within earshot dash to their stoves to see if they've left a kettle on. I've seen the live show ten or some-odd times -- on Broadway, on tour, when my little sister played Eponine in her summer camp's epic production -- the last of which froze me in a downturned-lipped ugly-cry face for at least two weeks thereafter.

In other words: I'm a fan. Oh, I'm a fan.

So I went to the movie theater today (alone -- I'm not ashamed!) wanting to like the movie. I was prepared to weep openly. I was prepared to hum along to certain songs when the speakers were loud enough to mask it, lest someone throw me out onto the street. I was prepared to move seats several times to avoid the people who kept taking out their blindingly bright cell phones every five minutes, which was impossible, because everybody does this now?

In short, I was prepared to like it. And -- for the most part -- I did! I liked it!!!

I really did! It was not a walk in the park, but it was worth seeing!!

If you care to hear what I thought, please read on! If you don't, well, poop on you!

To start, let's talk ISSUES!

ISSUES!

1) It was really, really, really, really heavy.

On a general note, I usually prefer to see films not so chock-full of heaving, dying, pleading, suffering, wet-faced individuals with cracked lips and startlingly small waists (Samantha Barks, WHERE is your ribcage!). In other words, happier films. Maybe something fun could have happened? Like, a game of hop scotch between Gavroche and Little Cosette, even though that would have voided the space-time continuum?

I'm kidding, of course. The story is not-fun, and there's no getting around it. This is France in the 19th century, when shit got DARK. If you don't want to accept that, don't go see the movie.

Because Les Miz is as epic and wrenching as they come. Straying from this conceit would have been unfaithful to the original work. So it's sort of not a real qualm because I can't really imagine the story being told any differently.

2) Movies are much more literal than staged musicals! This made some scenes hard to film!

Many of the epic songs/scenes in Les Miz ("One Day More," the finale) culminate in glorious, communal expressions of Big Themes! Like Freedom, or Love, or Home! These expressions often unfold onstage with the characters gathering together in a glorious, otherworldly, we're-all-in-separate-places-but-somehow-together Limbo Clump!  And they can sing to the rafters about Freedom, or Love, or Home! and watch the audience erupt in a fit of tears!

On screen? Not so much.

On screen, there is no "Limbo Clump" option, unfortunately. Or at least not one that's good? I guess Tom Hooper could film everybody flying up into the sky (like the end of Blades of Glory?) from which they could sing their parts, simultaneously separate and together.

But that would have made zero sense.

3) Les Miz loses something when it's so procedural!

So, like, even though I've seen Les Miz on stage a billion times, seeing the movie made me realize that I don't reeeeeeeeeally know what's happening? Like I know, at certain plot junctures that there's, like, a dude, and he's stuck under a wagon, and then Valjean helps him, and then the dude appears later and helps Valjean, and then Javert keeps appearing? But I don't always know how or why or where anybody is coming from, and it's always like "whoa!"

And I'm weirdly really okay with that?

To me, in the realm of a musical, these plot-device coincidences, run-ins, and fortuitous developments seem more miraculous and less same-old, same-old on stage. I'm not sure why. Maybe because we're not there with Valjean every step of the way, following him down alleys, witnessing his thought process as he's forced to escape over, and over, and over, and over, and over....again. So each time (during the staged musical) something miraculous or suspenseful happens, it's like, "Wow, I didn't expect that?"

Because I didn't always know what was happening in the first place?

in summary, there is a sort of Les Miz stage-plot/Les Miz movie-plot dichotomy. In the Les Miz movie, I understood the plot, because it was spoon-fed to me. Which was good, because I understood it, but bad because it was too procedural.

4) The songs/motifs got sort of redundant. (And I love the music!)

I think this is another stage versus screen problem: I find that, in the hazy, limbo-world of the staged musical, melodic motifs that cycle in and out of a plot have a very grounding effect in the theater, one that provides context in an otherwise murkier, more abstract experience. Whereas, in the Les Miz movie, I always knew exactly what was happening. As such, the returning motifs (be it the Bishop's theme, or "On My Own," or whatevs) seemed at times to be too much of an EXCLAMATION POINT at the end of everything! And I was like, "okay, okay, I get it. You're an honest man. We get it. Stop singing about it."

5) Did I mention it was really heavy? So much death and despair! I guess I never realized how taxing it is to watch a million people suffer and die UP CLOSE? But, also, I'm not complaining; I understood and accepted it, and ultimately was okay with it. I was just like, WHOA. By the end I needed to go and, like, listen to some Miley Cyrus.

6) Russell Crowe. WOW. I'm sorry, but... I can't. I just. Wow. [Scene.]

Okay! Now let's talk AWESOME STUFF!

AWESOME STUFF!

1) I loved Hugh JackmanI've always been a fan, and he did not disappoint! Way to go, Hugh! Even though you had hair like Susan Boyle* and an occasionally super-grating vibrato, you still made me want to stand up from my seat and cheer! When it comes to leading men, you're the 2-4-6-0-1 for me. (I had to, I just had to.)

Right? Right?
*I must credit little sister Tessa and her friend Casey for making this amazing observation.

2) Anne Hathaway! Whoa! You really made me appreciate just how much Fantine's life sucks!

3) Aaron Tveit! I don't know how to pronounce your last name, but I know how to pronounce your face, which is "it's very beautiful." Okay, that made no sense, but whatever -- Aaron Tveit is a beautiful man with a stunning voice and my GOD could any role be cooler than Enjolras? The answer is no.

4) The little ones, i.e. Gavroche and Cosette! WHERE did they get those little-bitty dirty-faced cutie patooties that I just wanted to squeeze???

5) Samantha Barks! Ribcages be damned! Who needs a ribcage? You were amazing! (Also, did anyone notice that one of the rebel students had her exact face, except manlier?) (Which is a compliment to the dude, not an insult to Samantha.)

6) Colm Wilkinson! I heart you! I love the weird way you wrap your lips around words when you sing them!

In summary, I would definitely recommend this film, for all its flaws, but especially for its strengths! It's a beautiful staged musical, and I'm glad there is a film version that at least holds a candle to it. It may be a small candle. Maybe one of those tea lights. But a candle, nonetheless. If you go, keep an open mind and don't be a hater!

Just relax and let the misery overtake you.

What did you guys think? Comment below!

--FLR

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Actor Daniel Robert Sullivan Talks Theater and His Book!

Dear U.G. readers! Adding delicious spice (and "cheese") to the bloggoriffic concoction that is the U.G. Blog, guest blogger Daniel Robert Sullivan -- veteran actor, writer extraordinaire, and author of Places, Please! (Becoming A Jersey Boy) (which takes you behind-the-scenes of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys) -- is here to tell you all about his book!

Sounds like something you guys might like, right????????

(Also, he and I are both from Rhode Island! What are the odds? I'll tell you what they are: low.)

So, without further ado, heeeeeere's Danny!