All posts by carolynartmedia

“Improv” Your Work

5 reasons every exec and anyone should take an Improv class

1) To work a different part of the brain. HOW many studies are out now advising of REAL “brain gym” workouts, the kind of stuff that makes you “sweat” while you’re trying to figure it out, as I recently heard a health pro describe it. If your brain “hurts” that’s good. No more crossword puzzles or Sudoku – go Improv instead.

2) As an antidote to corporate-speak, shop talk, and even hipster lingo, which many execs falls prey to, and becomes their “default-speak” (just fyi, starting sentences with “So…” is affected sounding). You cannot imagine the vocabulary and phraseology that starts coming forth when you can’t ask questions or deny what your fellow scene partners are saying or doing (two “rules” of Improv). Goodbye to slick-ster speak.

3) To further sharpen communication skills. Example: the Improv “game” 60-30-15 in which actors must reduce a 5-minute scene to 60 seconds, then 30, then 15 is a WILD ride and will rock ANYONE’s world. Sales pros especially will likely close a sale like nobody’s biz after a few 60-30-15 go-rounds.

4) Laughter therapy. Again, HOW many studies have recognized this?! Google it.

5) FUN

A Diet + The Waves

In the past week, I had the pleasure of seeing two quite divergent theatrical productions: My Life on a Diet, Renée Taylor’s one-woman show, and The Waves, adapted from Virginia Woolf’s novel as a chamber musical for the Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College.

Renée Taylor (aka Sylvia Fine of The Nanny sitcom) and her autobiographical romp (co-written with her husband, the late, great Joe Bologna) are comic gold, a delicious summer time treat (all pun). A stellar career trajectory as told through the many diets RT has attempted in a constant struggle to be thin for show biz, makes for a good dramatic device and a very fun time. The anecdotes from her family life, the roster of diets and the performers she’s met and worked with that emerge along the way are all gems in their own right. The audience, as guests in her leopard bedecked stage set, was roaring. If you’re reading this and you don’t know who Hedy Lamarr or Rita Hayworth or Elaine May were/are, go see this show asap. If you’re reading this and you do know who they were/are, go see this show asap.

I attended through a NOIAW special event, which included a Meet/Greet + dinner with Ms. Taylor, a very generous gesture on her part. I stopped by the restaurant and she couldn’t have been lovelier, which comes through in our photo together.

Carolyn with Rene'e Taylor of My Life on a Diet post-show at NOIAW dinner July 19, 2018

The Waves could not have been a more different kind of theatrical excursion. A cast of six accomplished and electrifying actors portray six siblings over the course of many years and rites of passage (boarding school, college – that is, Cambridge). The music, musical direction and the pianist are quite extraordinary. I felt the music and the actors’ phenomenal vocal delivery washing over me, literally, as waves. In the score, I heard hints of phrases from Les Misérables and reminiscences of the masterful, constant jazz piano background music of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. I truly liked the less-is-more use of projection — a simple beach/water horizon which illuminated and changed color and form very subtly, but absolutely created the work’s title in setting and ambiance.

The Waves Cast Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College July 2018 (640x427)

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MLOAD and The Waves were apropos to see in high summer and I highly recommend them both.

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“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato as quoted by WQXR.org

photos in order of appearance by B. McDonough; Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College; B. McDonough; A. McDonough

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Broadway’s Night

This Broadway season, I accidentally saw every show on W. 44th Street.

From Frozen to the The Play That Goes Wrong to Phantom‘s 30th anniversary performance to Farinelli and the King and Hello Dolly! (with last season’s Tony award winner, the Divine Miss M herself, from the second row center Orchestra) I took in many brilliant theatrical productions this year, and happily, even saw some of them twice.

I also attended Broadway’s Got Talent, a fun, feisty competition at Feinstein’s 54 Below through the generosity of the lovely Francesca Capetta via GIAA where hub and I were thoroughly entertained by the hilarious Mistress of Ceremonies, Klea Blackhurst, as she slickly hosted the evening.

But, my personal fave current Broadway show was/is…

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Summer!

Perhaps it was the visceral recall of my glory days in the disco era, or that I shared such Proust-ian memories with a bosom buddy when we attended the show together in previews, or that I got seats in the last row Orchestra on the far aisle through a special offer so that we could dance ourselves silly (and we did!), or that David Geffen himself watched from the aisle RIGHT NEXT TO US, or that afterward we chatted with the Director and made the case for the show to include an after party, or maybe it’s the blush-colored Bad Girl t-shirt I just HAD to purchase, or, or, or, I could go on and on.

Whatever the reason, my bosom buddy and I hope that Summer is recognized at the awards tonight.

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Bad Girls!

Carolyn Alongi McDonough and Brian McDonough at Feinstein's 54Below Broadway's Got Talent Competition May 22, 2018

Cheers from CultureArtMedia to all!

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The Third Act

I recently had the great, fun pleasure of attending The Third Act Series film screening at the Manhattan Film Festival and pre-screening cocktails, accompanied by a fun friend of mine. I initially met leading ladies Jody Atkinson and Susan Stava at the Cornell Entrepreneurial Network NYC’s “Business of Blogging” event and then reached out to them via The Third Act because something about their take on life got my funny bone.

Carolyn_Jody_ Susan_Third_Act_ Series_Screening_MFF_April_2018Carolyn, Jody and Susan at The Third Act Series screening/Manhattan Film Festival–photo by Ann Neilsen

Just as the dual protagonists of webisodes by the same name, Jody and Susan are as much a delight in person as they are to watch on screen in their very clever web series, and now also on the big screen. When my friend Ann saw Susan at the pre-screening and said to her that we were there to see their film, Susan bear hugged her without hesitation. Same from Jody when she came over to the bar where we were seated.

Carolyn_Ann_The_Third_Act_Screening_MFF_April_22_2018Carolyn and Ann at the screening–photo by random passer-by who Ann asked (true story).

The Third Act’s self-deprecating humor is a breath of fresh air in the current cultural climate of narcissistic, filtered, SnapChat-ty social media. It reminds me of the great columnist/writer Erma Bombeck and though Erma’s brand of humor would be wildly out of step with the current times, humor is humor to me. Maybe I’m an easy laugh, but I’m amused when I see a promo photo of Jody with her feet up on a huge desk, smoking a stogie with the thought bubble above her head, “The laundry’s done, the kids are in college…now what?” And I love how they ponder such modern brain teasers as “why do tits have to be sexualized?” Alas, the answer to this rhetorical musing is a HUGE one (all pun…? Oh no! I’m sexualizing the question!) with its roots in ancient art works such as the Hellenistic Aphrodite, the stuff of which doctoral dissertations are made (for more on such academic exploration, please watch the incredible new PBS series Civilizations particularly the How Do We Look? episode).

We also enjoyed the screening of an indie film Everyone You Hate is Here directed by Madeline Nehlen about the clique-y reality of beach clubs. Unbeknownst to us, Ann was sitting right next to the film’s lead actor, which delighted me having heard this person giggling at mostly everything in both The Third Act Series and her film, throughout the screenings.Everyone

Here’s a moment from the Q&A during which Jody, Susan and The Third Act Series Director, Michele Midori Fillion, are responding to a “future plans” inquiry:

I hope The Third Act Series gives women license to breathe when we have phases in our lives that take the stuffing out of us, and require all of our faculties just to endure, especially when we look in the mirror after-the-fact and find ourselves saying, “Mirror mirror on the wall, bye-bye yoga arms, hello bingo arms”.

Hats off (yes, as in Melania’s white Hervé-Pierre number) to the Manhattan Film Festival for a great billing (the new Tara Reid film Worthless about bullying sounds intriguing, so I might go back).

In the interim, BIG CONGRATS TO JODY & SUSAN AND CONTINUED SUCCESS WITH FUTURE SCREENINGS + SEASON 2!

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Italian “Bred”

CarolynWith CandiceGuardino

I had the great pleasure of seeing the one-woman showcase Italian Bred by Candice Guardino recently and meeting her afterward.  Amusing cameos by people “in the biz” such as comedian Mario Cantone who pop in to Candice’s various vignettes, made for some funny stuff. My favorite through line in the show, however, is Candice’s running impersonation of her family members, especially her grandmother, who was moxy personified, as only women of her time and place were and could be.

I had a similarly strong “force” of a grandmother on my paternal side, who was a pioneer indie retailer of the hot item of the 1950’s: appliances. Panasonic and Zenith were the brands that lined the walls of her store, and General Electric featured my Nonna, Lena, in their promotional materials to their sales force. She was quite cute and personified not only the moxy of the roaring 20’s generation women, but also ideal look of her era: five foot two, eyes of blue. Yep! She was a well-off retailer who designed, built and paid for her own home in cash, and a stage mother to my father to rival the likes of Gypsy Rose Lee.

She would commute in to the City with my father when he was just three years old (and BEFORE the NJ Turnpike was even built!) for his voice lessons at the Royal Associated Studios on 52nd Street and his weekly radio appearances on NBC Radio Children’s Hour with emcee Ed Herlihy, sponsored by the great but gone Horn & Hardart automat.

I don’t want to give anything away about Italian Bred so in the meantime, I’ll share an anecdote about Italian mothers. Recently, I was having lunch with mine at Cafe123 before seeing Farinelli and the King (for the second time!) We were never weight obsessed being naturally thin with fast metabolisms and we always ate well, so were talking about nutrition, etc., over our crêpes. I remarked that I didn’t think I was eating very well lately due to a hectic schedule and that maybe I was eating too much fat in my meals. I continued that maybe I should scale back on fats a little, to which my mother leaned over the table and asked me in a hushed tone, “But you’re not going to give up olive oil, right?!” As if it’s a sin! Well, to Italians, Greeks, Spaniards and probably many more Mediterranean cultures, it probably is! My reply was of course, “No, of course not, Mom!” to which she sighed a breath of relief and proceeded to further enjoy her crêpe.

And that’s my “Italian Bred” in a nutshell! (all pun because Italians—at least my Italians–are nuts for nuts, also–there was a perennially full nut bowl on our teakwood table my entire childhood, like something out of Harry Potter–but that’s a WHOLE other story for another day!)

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GO SEE ITALIAN BRED!

photo of Candice and Carolyn by B. McDonough — above photo by C. McDonough

Odes to the Ides

Ah, yes, tis the Ides of March–again.

And, isn’t it grand how we now change the clocks right before the Ides, just to really drive us all up the nearest tree struggling through the last of Old Man Winter?

So it’s dark in the morning–again. And it’s light out until 7:00pm-ish EDST here on the East coast BUT with the continued terrible weather, who would know?! Or care!

The whole ritual just makes everyone tired and hazy, except in Hawaii and Arizona,  because the smart residents there DO NOT succumb to this weird, ongoing social experiment in clock time, which began in England and Germany, and caught on stateside, to make people shop more.

Yes, SHOP more!

Honeybeelujah! Don’t tell Rev. Bill!

Speaking of shopping, it appears that Saks 5th Avenue, along with Gucci, have been reading this blog–again!

HOW else would they have come up with this recent window dressing theme?! URGENT: Please see Mona Lisa & An Iguana on 5th and Shopping Cart Abandonment for more.

SAKS5thAvenueShoppingCartsWindowFeb2018photo by Brian McDonough

I’d just like to know how on earth I forgot these two photos last week during Int’l Wonder Women Day

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…in my last post? It MUST have been the clocks.

This year…

CarolynWithWW2WW photos by Acacia McDonough

…Wonder Woman is shielding me from the Ides!

And please don’t let this happen to you–no outfit is worth it!

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Int’l Women’s Day + Gilded is Hot

Like many of my formative experiences, my first International Women’s Day took place in Italy through the celebration day of the Festa della Donna.

I was in the thick of my Fellowship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy, doing a shift in the gift shop that day, when fellow intern (later to become hub as he’s known to readers of this blog) surprised me with a nosegay of mimosa blossoms, as I was busily transacting de Chirico and Magritte poster sales. Awww…

Many moons later metaphorically speaking, as it’s in keeping with the universal yin energy of today, we named our daughter Acacia. WHO knew the derived-from-Latin species name for mimosa blossoms is Acacia Dealbata?!

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We had taken our time in naming her and considered many names while consulting different naming oracles (as new parents of a first-born often do) but I never came across this reference until researching for this entry. Awww…

In light of this day, and Women’s History Month, I recently had the pleasure of hearing author Karin Tanabe speak on her book The Gilded Years soon to be a major motion picture starring and produced by Zendaya in collaboration with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. Anything Neo-Victorian and gilded is HOT at the moment. So if this film is as engaging as The Greatest Showman (for which Zendaya–who’s career is on fire right now–received a lot of buzz as a stunningly beautiful, racially blended trapeze artist) and I have a feeling it may very well be, albeit in a different way, it has the potential to be a winner. The film’s working title alone is a winner:  A White Lie. Quite a compelling concept in our current cultural climate, n’est-ce pas?

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photo of Carolyn and Karin Tanabe by Acacia V. McDonough

I won’t give away the story, Karin’s a great storyteller and historical fiction genre writer, so please read the book:

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I’m also blogging today’s Int’l Women’s Day post as a new member of the National Organization of Italian American Women and I appear on the #NewMemberMonday March 2018 Edition. Mille Grazie NOIAW!

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(you GOTTA love NOIAW’s yellow blossoms new members Welcome + Lady Liberty logo!)

AND finally I will be dining with one of the most empowered women I know, Rev. Dr. Tami Coyne whose recent 1-Woman Show Singing For My Life: One Woman’s Journey, with hilarious opening act by her stand-up sister, Teri Coyne, was fantastic! Here’s a clip:

 

To all the women of the world today, be the WONDER WOMAN you already are, turn something upside down, don’t forget to brush your teeth and…

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…support #METOO today/every day!

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photo credits: Acacia V. McDonough, C. McDonough