I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost

 

by Bri Ryder

But like, I really am? I really am afraid of ghosts. And spiders, and the dark, and like, a lot of other things. I’m generally a pretty nervous person. I’m always like, “yeah, I’m so tough” (lol that’s not true, but inside it is!) but really, I’m very afraid of like, pretty much everything. So I wanted to talk about fear, because I’m very afraid currently for a lot of different reasons. (Also I haven’t seen Ghostbusters yet.)

Right now, I’m in 9 to 5, and we have nine rehearsals and one preview left until we open. That, my friends, is extremely frightening. By the time you read this, it is likely that those performances will be long gone, but, still, please know that I was vey afraid for

the two weeks leading up to my show. We really have a lot of things to do, I’m a little nervous for myself and lines and dancing and stuff, but I’m generally just nervous for the whole production. Things are going to be okay, but I’m pretty scared. I get really nervous whenever I have to perform anything, so this is to be expected but there’s something about this show that scares me more and that is something we are rehearsing tonight: The Dance of Death.

I’m playing Judy and she is pretty conservative when it comes to her attire and living her life (not politically conservative, is what i’m trying to say) but she has this dream fantasy, called The Dance of Death, where she is a sexy dancer and she is also a spy and she kills her boss. It’s pretty great and it’s silly and fun but I am terrified - not just nervous or scared - TERRIFIED, of being sexy on stage. I don’t know if it has a background in people telling me that I am undesirable or if it’s because I’m plus sized, or what, but I am very afraid of looking foolish. And I need to cut that shit out because, as has been shown in my life as a performer, I’m gonna be cast as people who need to do things like this!! Why am I scared!!! I do this stuff all the time. But it’s a freaking huge hurdle to get myself over and I don’t have the answers right now, lovebugs. I’m really just scared. I’m not sure what’s going to happen or how I’m going to get over this before opening, but I’m gonna have to.

This is not the first time I’ve had to throw my fears away and act all sexy and stuff on stage. I was in Rocky Horror once, I played Mama in Chicago, I was Veronica in Heathers for my capstone (this is something I look back on and cringe about for thesame reasons listed above), at NTI I played a 40 year old lesbian dominatrix. This isn’t an uncommon trait in my characters, but it’s something I have to battle within myself again and again. Maybe it has something to do with vulnerability? I don’t know. But, I’m going to have to work on it, I guess!

Gotta call those Vampire Ghostbuster Slayers! They’ll know what to do.

Who you gonna call?

P.S. I think this is the shortest blog I’ve written so far. I need to step up my game.

 

I'm the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

by Bri Ryder

You friends don’t know this but I was actually really LATE turning this blog in. It’s mostly because I have been extremely busy this week - I didn’t even do couch to 5K this week, y’all. It’s been ROUGH - but also, I have to admit, it’s a little bit because I have a new love. A new obsession, if you will.

And that obsession is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend [starring Rachel Bloom, the new love of my life - more on that in a second].

It’s been consuming my life. I have finished the first season, and honestly, I would be surprised with myself if I didn’t watch it again before the summer is over. If you haven’t watched yet, it’s on Netflix so you have no excuse. 

“But Bri, I don’t have a Netflix account.”

There are several solutions to this problem, but here are the top three.

1.       Get one - $10 per month, y’all. If you are doing any online shopping at all, you can probably afford this. Go to a store. Stop paying for shipping and start paying for Netflix instead.

2.       Ask your Ex for their password. It’s the least they can do for all the shit they put you through. You deserve this and they OWE YOU.

3.       Go halfsies* with your BFF. $5. That’s less than you paid for the sandwich you are currently eating.

Netflix didn’t pay me for this, but they should. Am I allowed to make endorsements like this? I hope so. Because I’ve also been watching a lot of Say Yes to the Dress on Hulu and I might want to talk about that later.

Now, I have done absolutely no research on this, so the story might not be true but regardless, I’m pretty inspired by the path my new life partner Rachel Bloom** took to get to this point. A teacher at the O’Neill told us this and I just took it as fact. And now I’m passing it onto you. What a world we live in. So the story I heard was that Rachel was auditioning in New York and living her life and whatever but she wasn’t really getting the jobs she wanted and she felt really boxed into character roles, so she took her life into her own hands and created this TV show and now she’s on the CW and we all get to watch her be amazing on Netflix.

As a non-ingenue, myself, I find it very inspiring indeed. I love her and I love this show. It’s amazing to see someone I identify with working in the mainstream. 

I did my thesis on character roles/character actors/type. It’s something that really freaks me out, honestly. I totally know and embrace my type, but I’m totally scared because most of the teachers I have worked with basically tell me that I won’t come into my type until I’m like 35-40 years old. My height is crazy (second shout out to Kate Shindle) and I’m plus sized and even if I lost 50 pounds, I’d still be bigger than everybody else. I don’t want or need to play Cinderella, but I’d like to play someone who isn’t in the evil step-family for once. It’s a weird, hard thing.

I’m really thankful to have so many people to look up to in the industry, though. People like Rachel Bloom and Alysha Umphress and Kate Shindle and Lindsay Mendez are such incredible role models to me. I’m so glad that they are working and doing amazing things. I’m always so happy to see non-conventional ingenues playing principal roles. 

And Rachel Bloom’s Maybe-Fake-But-Still-Inspirational Story is such an important lesson!! People have been telling me to create my own work for so many years, but I don’t always see the fruits of labor like I have in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I’m so happy for her, and I’m excited to see my friends do the same things. We can ALL be the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Insert the “More You Know” shooting star here.

Hope you nerds are having a good day/week/life.

GOTTA GO REHEARSE.
LIVE YOUR DREAMS, KIDS.

*unsure if this is the correct spelling. halvesies? no, it’s definitely halfsies. 
**we don’t actually know each other.

Under The Sea

by Bri Ryder

This summer, I’m on a mission to see as many of my friends’ shows OR shows with friends as possible. So far, I have seen 6! I’m not sure when this will be posted, actually, but I’ve been writing these for about a month and a half while I’m waiting for the site to be launched. I’m writing in secret and you had NO IDEA. Mwahahahaha! 

Last night, I visited Prescott Park in Portsmouth, NH to see about a zillion of my friends in The Little Mermaid. Let me tell you, I had an excellent time. I snuggled up with good food and friends and watched all of these people have an absolute blast!! [Also I live-tweeted it. @Bri_is_awesome - check it out. 7/2/16.] 

This little journey I’m on is really weird for me for a few reasons. I was at NTI while many of these shows were casting, which means that I didn’t have much of an opportunity to audition. A good friend of mine asked me to submit a video for this production of Mermaid, and I was in the running for Ursula, but ultimately, I was not cast. I was a little bit upset about this when it happened. It’s hard to see something you want go to someone else. Ursula is a dream role for me, but with almost no time to dedicate to this audition, I didn’t feel like I did my best work.  

This happens to me a lot. It happens to all actors a lot. Rejection is a HUGE part of the industry and it’s hard to get used to sometimes. But when it does happen, I find it very difficult not to make excuses. I literally just did it to you right now! I was all like, “I had no time blah blah blah” but really- sometimes, someone else is just better for the job and that’s that. When I don’t get a part, and when I have the opportunity to see the performance regardless, I often find that the person who did receive the role brings something that I had never even considered for the part. Last night, watching my friend Lane play Ursula, I felt extremely lucky to be seeing her perform that part. I was so proud of her, and I learned so much watching her bring that role to life. I feel very fortunate to be able to say to myself, “This was the right thing,” when I’m watching my friends do awesome stuff like that. And I’m so glad that every time I’ve been passed over for a role, I’ve been able to see why and recognize that I have more work to do.  

The Little Mermaid was awesome last night, seriously. I’m so proud of my friends and I’m just so pleased for all of them. They’re Broadway and they deserve so much success. I’m so lucky to be able to see everyone do what they love to do. I got to sit in a beautiful park and eat an EXCELLENT GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH, I got cotton candy, and my heart was full. My friends were in front of me totally living on stage, and also around me whispering comments about the show in my ear. I don’t know what more I could ask for. I hope that I get to see the show again this Summer. And I highly recommend seeing it!! I don’t know if it’ll still be playing when this is posted, but, if it is, it’s for donations, you can bring a blanket and sit basically wherever you want, and there’s yummy ice cream. All that plus the performers are complete geniuses. I’m a little biased about them, but I am NOT biased about the woman who plays Ariel and I can ASSURE you that she’s a real princess. She’s so perfect that she might be a figment of my imagination. Truly. 

Along with all these happy feelings and learning things, there’s also a lot of fear. I’ve noticed that with these blog posts I’ve kind of been trying to teach things and I realized that I don’t need to have anything profound to say, I just need to talk about my life, so, I’m gonna tell you some stuff I’m nervous about. And I’m gonna try not to solve the problems. Maybe you have some answers, I don’t know!! If you have anything to offer, I’m here waiting. Imagine me draped across a chez lounge in a modest but cute peignoir, maybe sipping a nice red moscato. Just listening.  

I think a lot about my career and my trajectory in this industry. I know that I have talent and drive and all of that. I also know that there are a million things I have to work on. I told my mom that I wanted to keep training the other day and she gave me the craziest look I’ve ever seen. I’m working up to my big move, but I am very nervous that I’m not ready. Not even because of self esteem things, but because I feel very behind. I’ve been feeling like that since I was in high school, actually. I would look at people I loved watching on Broadway like Laura Bell Bundy, who had been working professionally since she was 8 years old. I was like, “But I’m already 15 and I haven’t even gotten a lead in a show ever.” That’s so messed up, right?! Anyway, I’m 23 now and I do not have any professional credits. I’ve got some famous Broadway friends and a lot of fancy training, but I’ve never been cast in anything that has paid me. And I’m really worried about that.  

BUT. I’m working on some cool stuff. I’m doing some writing. I’m making some money. I’m seeing my incredible friends do beautiful things. I’M LOOKING FORWARD, I WON’T GO BACK {#IfThen #TomKitt #BrianYorkey #IdinaMenzel #TeamLiz} 

This is just some stuff I have on my mind this week. Mostly, though, I just have a lot of love and admiration in my heart for the performers I get to see this Summer. I’m so proud of my friends and I can’t wait to see what they do.  

I’m gonna go watch The Match Game hosted by ALEC BALDWIN because what else can you do at 10pm on a Sunday night? 

MUCH LOVE. 

I'm a Fangirl...And You Can, Too!

by Bri Ryder

First of all, I had a crazy dream last night that I want to share: 

For whatever reason, there was a production of Miss Saigon happening put on by my high school and Boston Children’s Theatre, and there were also some TPAP people in there, too. I was told that I was sharing the role of Ellen with someone else, but I honestly have no idea who that other person was. It was someone I don’t know. And it wasn’t like, “you get one performance, I get the other,” it kind of seemed like they just tapped you in when they felt tired or something, so I had no idea when I was going on. And I had no script. And I didn’t know anything. But I seemed oddly optimistic. I know most of the songs she sings and I was like, “I’d probably be able to do this.” Though, the show was a little different, including numbers like, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” and “I Dreamed a Dream.” But whatever. I had gotten a pretty short haircut earlier in the day and when I looked in the mirror, my dress was attractive and my hair looked good so I was like, “alright, ready.” Thinking about it now, though, I don’t think I‘ve ever looked at myself in a mirror in a dream before. Do people do that in dreams? Is that symbolic?  

Anyway, I have no idea if I went on or what because I woke up. But I did find a script. So I have faith that I did okay. 

Alright, here we are at the point of this blog today! 

Fangirl” is a negatively charged term in my world for several reasons. To me, a lot of the time, it stands for the opposite of professionalism. But, here’s the thing: 

I am a HUGE FREAKING FANGIRL. 

You are talking to a person who used to spend LARGE amounts of time on the message boards for Legally Blonde the Musical. I almost paid for the signed headshot of a woman that I literally worked with this Spring. I saw Legally Blonde the Musical twice on Broadway, once on tour, once regionally in Ogunquit, I have performed in it twice, and honestly? I would be in it a million more times. Playing truly any role. I love it. somuch. There was a time, y’all, that I could actually, for real, tell you every person in the original Broadway production. Who understudied what role, everything. Like, I was a cringeworthy fangirl to the highest degree. 

As I grew up, I don’t know how I got this idea, but I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be a fangirl anymore. There was clearly a divide between people who were respected as a part of the industry and those who were just the fans. Fans, of course, are appreciated and respected by artists, but they just simply are not seen as colleagues. And that’s what I want to be: A fellow artist, not an outside observer. So I started trying to hide my excitement from the people I was excited about.  

Over time, however, I’ve realized that being a fangirl is actually super important. Being passionate about projects is ridiculously imperative to being noticed. People who are indifferent are either so cool that you want to hire them, OR, more likely they just seem uninterested and lazy. Protip: Indifference, ignorance, and apathy are super boring qualities. They’re real downers. Nobody wants to work with people who don’t care.  

But what’s the LINE?! 

I really don’t know the answer. At work, when I don’t know the answer to a guest’s inquiry, I always say, “That’s a great question.” It’s become a bad habit. But I’m not lying, usually it actually is a great question.  

This is a great question: Where is the line between fan and potential friend? 

I have no concrete answers and I would love to hear yours. But I think it starts with something that Susan Blackwell says: “No one is above me, no one is below me, haters to the left.” Even playing field. Don’t put people on pedestals, don’t put yourself on a pedestal, and never look at people as anything more or less than that: people. I used to say this, and maybe some of the administrators from TPAP will remember me expressing this last year: Everybody is people. I try really hard, nowadays, to look at everyone as a potential friend, rather than someone totally unattainable. Anyone can be your friend. You just have to treat them like a person. I have two anecdotes. And I’m going to use names because I think these people are great.  

I have met AEA President Kate Shindle exactly three times not including any off-handed interactions we have had on twitter. The first time, I was a totally not nervous high school aged child (I say child because I look back on my child self and cringe a lot, occasionally, I refer to myself as a child still today) at the stage door for Legally Blonde. We took a cool pic and I probably told her that I loved the show and that was it. What a beautiful interaction, great. The second time was at Barnes and Noble in New York City during my terrible year at Pace. She was performing for Dracula and I was really excited to see her. I had ben told by a member of Pace faculty that I wasn’t in the program because I was different and that I stuck out when trying to build an ensemble, so I wasn’t feeling so great about myself. That included height. So when I went to her, I let her know that she gave me hope for my performance life because I was so tall. She told me that I would work if I found what made me special and really rocked it. That made me feel important and I was really happy. She was a huge inspiration to me. Now, I don’t know what happened in my brain between then and this last interaction, but. Dude. She came to do a master class at Boston Children’s Theatre and I could NOT HANDLE my shit. I was sitting in the back of the group like, crying and stuff. Maybe I was going through a rough time or whatever, but man. That was not. I don’t even. I ran into her outside the bathroom and I just kinda looked at her and then walked away. I was like, “I’ll feel better when she is out of the building.” because I couldn’t handle my emotions. It was so silly!! What happened??? My best guess is that I had just left school and she had said some really kind and encouraging things to me so in my brain, I made her a very important figure in my life, and then became overwhelmed. I think if I saw her again today, I’d tell her this story and laugh about it. 

The second story is like, the opposite, and happens to be about our good friend Susan Blackwell who is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met in my life: inside and out. My interactions with Susan have been vastly different every time. The first time was at TPAP, and I was very intimidated, but not in like, a bad way, I was just very overwhelmed. It was a slightly milder version of my final interaction with Kate. I wanted to cry a lot, I wanted to be liked, and I was truly honored to be in her presence. I actually did tell her about how much [Title of Show] meant to me and I totally cried telling her about it and it was a whole lot. She was very non-judgmental, she was warm, and she was kind. But afterwards I was like, “I’ve said what I have to say, but I can’t shake the feeling that I really messed up.” Because I had been “unprofessional.” Obviously, this isn’t really true. I think in many other environments this might have been seen as a faux-pas but not at TPAP, the most loving place on Earth. A year later, we worked together again at TPAP, and I still was pretty fangirly. I wasn’t blubbering this time, but I still felt kinda sglksghlsahgkld, if you catch my drift. But I have this habit of asking people I really admire to eat meals with me, so I asked her and she said yes and then she and I and a bunch of other really cool people sat down at lunch one day and talked about writing. It was rad. I was still weird, but less weird. And finally, this semester at NTI, I spent a little more time with her one on one and she’s the greatest. I feel like I could email her and she would email me back. I talked to her about how badly I wanted to work on FOUND (the musical by Hunter Bell, Lee Overtree, and Eli Bolin coming to PTC this Fall LOOK IT UP, NERDS.) but that I was kind of nervous because I know the team but they see me as a fan and not like, a person to work with. She said that most of the time, the difference is in your own mind and that I should reach out and be like, “Hey let me work on your show.”  

TRUTH BOMBS BEING DROPPED BY SUSIE BLACKWELL, AM I RIGHT? 

So, I’m gonna take that as the truth. The difference is in my mind.  

This actually ties to my last blog about BROadway. Support is so important. Admiration is important. Fangirling is important. Show people how you feel about their stuff!!! You don’t have to turn off your fangirl about things you love! Just don’t like, tell people you want them to adopt you or that you want to have their children or whatever.  

I have so much to say about this, there really is no way to wrap things up. 

A few takeaways: 

1. Fangirling is okay - be nice and be passionate 
2. Don’t put people on pedestals 
3. Everybody is a potential friend [Everybody is people] 
4. Please don’t be creepy 

Honestly, recipe for success right there. 

BYE.

3 Bros

by Bri Ryder

The topic this week seems very silly but I am VERY PASSIONATE about it, okay? I’m truly pumped to have a platform to talk about it, honestly, because I think it’s really important. 

Okay so when the Tony Nominations were announced, Matt Rodin and Reed Campbell released a video on Matt’s youtube channel entitled BROadway - 2016 Tony Award Nominations: 

Obviously, this video is hilarious. I watched it and fell immediately in love. I’ve watched it so many times and I’m literally upset that there isn’t more of it because I can’t stop watching. It’s ridiculous. I feel very fangirly and that’s weird to me. I very rarely comment or rate on Youtube, but I felt compelled so I wrote, “this is truly incredible” and Matt wrote back today, “you are truly incredible.” I noticed that he had responded to other people on the thread as well and learned that there is a SECOND ONE covering the awards themselves! So, feast your eyes and souls, my children. 

WHY am I so obsessed? “What is the big deal, Bri?” you ask, “it’s funny, but I mean... why are you crying about this?” 

BECAUSE, YOU FRIENDS.  

This video is quite funny, but it is also POSITIVE. There are no quips about anybody involved, there’s nothing but completely supportive energy throughout both of these videos. A few jokes about things that went wrong or the sound design Tony here and there, but they were not mean-spirited. Everything said was in complete support of the people they are speaking about. That truly touches me. I am amazed! I’m so happy about it!!! So many exclamation points!!!!! 

A lot of the time, I’m pretty afraid because I have some very strong opinions and sometimes they aren’t very positive. Whether that be about certain actors or shows or what have you, I have very many unpopular thoughts. That scares me because as a person who wants to be in this industry, I can’t ever express those opinions on a public forum. That’s really hard because I am a very public person! As a lady who really likes to speak her mind, it’s difficult for me to think about a tweet being taken the wrong way or saying something negative about someone and them seeing it and getting their feelings hurt. I’m sure there are problematic posts from my youth somewhere on facebook. If I ever get super famous, I’m certain I will have to answer for my 8th grade self posting weird things on the internet, but I’m having trouble now so I can’t imagine what was happening then. Broadway can’t dislike Broadway. That’s just the way it is, I’ve learned. And censoring myself is something that I’ve become very careful about. I don’t want to hurt people, but I still want to have feelings. These videos, however, showed me how easy and fun and hilarious being positive about the industry is. You don’t have to love everything, or be totally educated about everything to support it. You just have to find a way in.  

“Yeah, I mean, that’s great, I just. I literally know nothing about dancing.” 
Dude, the Fiddler choreo was like, pretty authentic. 
“Oh yeah, for sure, for sure.” 

Like???? That’s amazing!!  

While I was at NTI this semester, I felt safe to voice my not-so-stellar thoughts about some of my unpopular opinions and I wish that I hadn’t. When I get really comfortable somewhere, that tends to happen to me, so it’s something that I need to be aware of. It’s important to know your weaknesses, and that definitely one of mine: putting my foot in my mouth. Jeff Bowen actually talked to our (very small) class about this, and I have no doubts that he was really talking about me. I said a few things in his class that I wish I hadn’t said and I truly hope that it doesn’t come back to bite me later. I don’t think I was ever outright mean, I just wasn’t 100% supportive. He talked about Jennifer Tepper and how she has an appreciation for every lyric ever written for Broadway, and how she finds joy in all things theatrical. I wish that I could be more like that. I hope that I can learn from that talk and I hope that this weird guilt/regret feeling can make me a better person, and make me more aware of what I am saying to people. I’m trying really hard to shift my thinking. And I want to encourage you all to do the same! When you feel like you want to criticize something, find at least two good things for every critical thought. It helps a lot. That rhymed, yo. 

It’s okay to have opinions, but not everybody needs to hear all of them. I just need to figure out that balance so that I don’t offend like, I don’t know, Sondheim or something someday.* 

Anyway, I’m touched by these bro videos. Matt, be my friend. You just responded to me. I’m Bri Rydercall me. 

I think it’s really important to know and understand that support does not mean loving every little thing, it just means that you admire, recognize, and appreciate the hard work people are putting into a project. 

Hope you’re all having a great week!  

Deuces, 
Bri 

*I have no beef with Sondheim

The College Story

by Bri Ryder

My college journey was… fragmented, difficult, and confusing, but ultimately quite rewarding. If you have people in your life pursuing theatrical degrees, you probably heard about how many auditions they went through, applying to like, 25 schools across the country and sometimes across the ocean.  

Well, high school Bri Ryder didn’t know much about that. In fact, I had one dream school and that was Oklahoma University. I applied to 8 schools. I had been told that my grades probably weren’t good enough to apply to NYU or any of the big name schools, so I didn’t try. I look back on that and kind of regret it because I truly have no idea what would have actually happened but I was a very timid high schooler. I was like, full of myself on the inside but on the outside I didn’t show much confidence at all and if I did, it came off as conceit. I was a very odd duck. I do often think about that and try to laugh at myself but mostly I’m pretty embarrassed. Though, I must have done something right because people from high school still talk to me so I guess I didn’t mess up THAT badly. Bottom line, I don’t think I had the right attitude to get into the big name schools, either.  

I applied to OU, Salem State, UNH, Pace, Ithaca, SCAD, Hofstra, and Umass Lowell, I think. I always forget the last one. I sent in a pre-screen for OU and received a generic, “thanks but no thanks” letter that wasn’t signed, and then after that received two more rejections from them academically. I got into Salem, UNH, Hofstra, and Umass. Academically, I was accepted to Pace, SCAD, and Ithaca. I was supposed to audition for Ithaca but never selected a time slot so they sent me a very confused letter being like, “You got in… and we like you, but we can’t accept you to the MT program because you didn’t actually audition for us. So just let us know if you want to major in something else… Okay bye.” and that still makes me laugh like, they were probably pretty confused. I still don’t know how SCAD’s undergrad performance program works. I don’t know if I was supposed to audition or what. As for Pace, I went and auditioned for them and was not accepted. At the end of the day, I wanted to be in New York City more than anything, so I made the choice to go to Pace as an “undecided” major (I used to tell people that I wasn’t undecided at all, the school was undecided about me.)  

Long story longer, that didn’t quite work out. I learned a lot about heartbreak and betrayal (it sounds dramatic, but it’s true, send me an email and I’ll tell you ALL about it) and I wasn’t happy so I left. I took some time to figure myself out. I was going to take the next full year off, get my shit together, reapply to the big schools that I did want to attend, and then get a performance degree. I got a job at a daycare, did a production of Rocky Horror, and dyed my hair blonde. Eventually, though, I got tired of hanging out at home with my mom and dad and reapplied to UNH because they didn’t require auditions to be an MT major. Thankfully, I was accepted a second time. I packed up all my stuff, chucked a deuce to my parents, and transferred mid-year. My first semester there, I lived with three girls who were best friends with each other, and I replaced their fourth in the suite who was away studying in California. There were some disagreements, but in all, I think we were pretty okay. I was unhappy at school, though. I wasn’t performing because I had missed auditions for their shows, and I felt very alone because I had come in mid-year, so I didn’t have any bonding experiences with anyone. I joined an a’cappella group to keep my creativity alive, but I just didn’t feel right. My parents told me to come home but I’m not a quitter, so I decided to audition for Anything Goes.  

At that time, I was working really hard to lose weight and I looked good (for real). I had been working on my physicality and my dancing and stuff and I really thought I had a shot at Reno, but I was cast as Mrs. Harcourt. I was pretty bummed. Mrs. Harcourt is my girl, but I felt like I could have been cast in that role without doing any work at all (I still feel that way) and I still wasn’t going to be doing any singing, so I was upset. BUT. I didn’t want to burn any bridges or leave anyone out to dry, so I decided to stay and do the show. It brought me to the next semester, and after that, I told my parents that if I was still unhappy, I was going to leave. They supported me, but I think it really hurt them to see me so unhappy where I was. I dropped the a’cappella group because I couldn’t make it work with my rehearsal schedule. (Side-note: I cannot believe my friends who can do both. I have many friends who did both things and I am in awe. Do they ever sleep?? I don’t know???) I had to live my life assuming that something would magically happen to make me want to stay, so I planned on upcoming semesters and auditions. The student-run theatre group, Mask & Dagger, was doing a production of [title of show] and the department was starting a new studio musical program the upcoming semester with Next to Normal. I was talking to my friend Brooke one day and I told her that I was really looking forward to auditioning and that I really wanted to do both shows. She said to me, “I can realistically see you doing both.” and I was flattered but I didn’t really think that was going to happen. 

I didn’t know much about [tos] when I auditioned. Back when I was on the message boards for Legally Blonde the Musical in 2007/2008 (shout out to Liz, Erin, Kerry, and Allie B. who I still talk to from the message boards - INTERNET FRIENDS ARE REAL FRIENDS), someone told me that Title of Show was even more raunchy than Spring Awakening (this was back when Spring Awakening was one of the most controversial things on Broadway. SEX. ON STAGE. I thought it was real sex lol wow what a loser) I was like, “woahgotta stay away from THAT so my parents don’t get pissed at me.” and I found a piece of duct tape with [title of show] written on it in the city once but that was about all I knew.  

Well. I was cast.  

Honestly, it was the best experience I have ever had in a show and will very likely continue to be. People say all the time things like, “oh that show changed my life.” but, this show, this production, really really did. Because of [tos], I had to stay into the next semester, and that led to me being cast as Diana in Next to Normal later that year as well. Being in [title of show] led me to Susan Blackwell’s twitter which led me to The Performing Arts Project. TPAP led me to NTI. My life was truly transformed being cast in that show. 

A few days ago, I received my diploma from The University of New Hampshire. The first degree from the university to ever specify Musical Theatre as a full major in writing. If I had not been cast in [title of show], I can guarantee that I would not have finished school, and I certainly would not be writing this for you right now. I am forever indebted to my cast, for making me feel welcome and a part of a family for the first time at school, and every time I meet a member of the original team, I tell them how important their show has been to me.  

So, to wrap this up, I will leave you with this: Life is hard, it is stupid and weird and hurtful. College is ridiculously difficult in many ways, but you will end up exactly where you need to be. It took me 5 years, but I can say that I hold a degree in Musical Theatre from a school that I am not only proud to say I graduated from, but a school that was proud to have me. Your struggles make you better, stronger, prouder.  

Go fourth bravely, my children. I’m proud of you.

An Introduction of Sorts

by Bri Ryder

My current location is the bedroom I grew up in. During my last semester in college, my parents decided to do some painting and moved a bunch of boxes into it, so I’m living in what is half storage/half my own clutter. I’m a pretty messy person by nature, but I can’t really stand it. I told my mom that I want to take all of the things off my walls to create an “adult room” recently. I’m hoping that I can clean all of this out and maybe get a bed bigger than a twin since I’m kind of a little bit too tall for this one anyway. 

I should probably mention that my name is Bri Ryder (like Winona), I’m 23 years old, I have a BA in Musical Theatre from UNH Class of (Fall) 2015 (GO WILDCATS), I’m an alum of The Performing Arts Project Companies 3 and 4, and I graduated (graduated? I don’t know if that’s the right word but whatever, I’m using it) from The National Music Theatre Institute this Spring 2016! WOO! Lots of stuff. In addition to all that, my favorite color is blue - bonus if there is glitter involved, I like to knit but I can’t crochet, I’m somewhere between 5′10″ and 5′11″, I have a blue betta fish named Wilbert, I wear combat boots a lot, I love cheese, and the most vulnerable thing I’ve seen this week is Liz Longley at a piano that started to roll away as she was playing it last night.

I’m surrounded by many things in this room including, but not limited to: 

- Broadway posters, the oldest of which is Wicked because, well, wasn’t that the gateway drug for us all? I guess this coming generation of theatre kids would probably say Hamilton, but back in the day it was always Wicked. I don’t know what it was before that, Rent? Actually, Rent was one of mine, too. So maybe this generation will say Wicked AND Hamilton.

Anyway, Broadway posters. Check. 

- I have some posters and memorabilia from shows I did in high school like Rent (haha), Angels in America, and The Phantom of the Opera. My high school was pretty hard core. You can actually probably look things up about all three of those productions at Westford Academy! We were encouraged to take the arts very seriously in high school and I guess I did because I’m here now, still working toward a career in theatre. Someone actually left WA to go to a performing arts school once, and they came back because the training at Westford Academy was stronger. That’s a true story. And don’t be fooled by the name, we are very much a public school. It’s just an “academy” because back in the day (like, Paul Revere times, I’m not joking) it was a private academy for boys or something but the name is rad, so they kept it when it went all public. (I’d also like to acknowledge the fact that I’ve used the term “back in the day” twice already.) But it gives us a prestige we didn’t ask for and the opportunity to call our theatrical recognition ceremony at the end of the year the, “Academy Awards,” so it’s pretty cool, I think.

High school memories. Check.

- A very large Twilight poster I got for Christmas many moons ago. I don’t know what to do with it. So it’s there watching me at all times.

Cringeworthy old stuff. Check.

- A paper flag from 7th grade outlining my life goals. I will tell you what they are. (From short-term to long-term) 1. Get into Musical Theatre - This was a class in high school that we used to have to audition for. I think that by the time I got there, they just let everybody in but at the time I wrote it, they were still auditioning people. So I was hoping I would make the cut. But I did take the class! 2. Graduate High School - That, I did. 3. Get into Berklee - In 7th grade, I didn’t know that musical theatre degrees existed so I was planning to get two undergrad degrees: one in music from Berklee, and one in theatre from Umass Lowell, the only school I knew that offered theatrical degrees. It wasn’t until Charissa Murray from Youtube told me that MT degrees existed that I knew. Still, I did not end up attending either school. (I’ll talk about this later. Maybe next week we’ll discuss my college career. Because it’s a *long* story.) But! I ended up where I needed to be and that was the University of New Hampshire - I’m happy to say that I graduated in December 2015 YAS, WERK. 4. Play Elphaba in Wicked - This brings back the whole gateway drug thing. Obviously, this has yet to happen but I have faith. 5. Live in New York City - Incidentally, I have done this already! Hoping to get back there soon. And finally 6. Retire to a Tropical Place - My dad told me that performers don’t really retire. I now agree with him.

Cute goals from when I was a wee bae. Check.

It’s funny, though, because there is so much stuff on my walls and in this room but none of it is really current. [insert Kerrigan and Lowedermilk’s “How to Return Home” playing softly in the background] Who I am now is different from who I was and I’m having trouble becoming this full adult person. (Also, for the record, I hate when people use the word “adult” as a verb. Please, please, I’m begging you to stop.) So living here is weird! If I were to put some things from my more recent experiences on my walls, I would include:

- Posters from [Title of Show] all over the goddamn place. I would not be here, writing this blog for you right now if it weren’t for [tos]. It was the first time I felt at home in college and it brought me to The Performing Arts Project, which was a completely life-changing experience and led me many other places. I can literally credit every good thing happening to me to being cast in Title of Show. (Shout out to Kim, Joe, Kayleigh, Garret, Taylor, Jake, and Kaitlin)

- TPAP memories! All my TPAP pictures are on the internet but they belong out in the world where people can see them. Or at least in my half-storage facility bedroom where I can. TPAP also led me to The National (Music) Theatre Institute, where I’ve been for the last semester. Music is in parentheses because I was technically part of the NMTI program, but everyone just refers to everyone as NTI, so that’s what I do, too. That program deserves its own post.

- NTI stuff should be here, too. But I can’t even really get into that right now because it was so overwhelming. I’ll talk about how it relates to America’s Next Top Model in the weeks to come. It’s fascinating. I have a *great* theory about it.

- The Girls of Suite 5E. You haven’t heard my college struggles yet, but I found family at UNH and that certainly includes the beautiful women I lived with in a Suite in Serc C that I named 5E. Brooke, Carol, Lyndsey, Amanda, Tori, and Sara. (Technically, I never lived with the latter two, but they lived in Suite 5E before and after I was living there and are just as much part of that family.)

At this time in my life, I am doing many things and not many things. I am still living at home (obviously), recovering from NTI, I am working at Bailey’s Bar and Grille in Townsend, MA as a waitress (cliche for an actor perhaps, but not a bad gig and my aunt and uncle own the place so it’s nice to be surrounded by family), I’m trying to save up some money to move, and I’m so happy to be doing a show as well! I’m living a literal dream and playing Judy in 9 to 5, which starts rehearsals tonight (the night I’m writing this, probably not the night you are reading.) 

I look forward to sharing more of my story with you as we continue. 

I don’t know how to end this…

You’re rad as hell.

You rock, don’t ever change.

Smile and the world smiles with you.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Peace out, home skillet.