Movie Hero of the Week* and Style Icon: Katharine Ross



Fashion Post

Movie Post

Katharine Ross

Katherine Ross costars in two of the greatest movies of my parent’s generation:  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Graduate. She just seems to embody something about the late 60’s and early 70’s as I understand them.  I love looking at my parents’ yearbooks and checking out what they wore.  I love the long hair, and the bell bottoms, and the quirky ringer tees, and wooden platforms, and floaty tops.  Katherine Ross sort of represents that to me.  Her style is outdoorsy, natural, and sexy.  She was born in California and just seems to exude a sense of the American West both in style and presence. Even her husband, Sam Elliot (another future Movie Hero of the Week), fits into this idiom.

Katherine Ross belongs to a group of actresses I like to call The Grand Brunettes because I believe they exude what is an inherent brunette-ness.  Katherine Ross, Barbara Hershey, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Vergara (actually a natural blonde, but she has taken brunette as her own), Anne Bancroft, Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren, Lena Olin, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Jane Russell seem to say “brunette” the way Marilyn  says “blonde.”

Perhaps someday I will post about The Great Blondes…but I doubt it.  That’s played, y’all.

Hair

There isn’t one hairstyle that says “Katharine Ross” in particular.  She wears it up, down, half up, in braids.  The key is a loose and slightly messy take with face framing layers. The key would be shine serum and a teasing comb.

Makeup

Her makeup rarely changes.  She always has a softly smudged lined eye in a deep brown or black with thick lashes.  Everything else is light and neutral.  Nude lips, with maybe a dusting of color on the cheeks or a bit of bronzer for that tawny look.

When I’m going for a Katharine Ross look, I use the following:

  • MAC lip pencil in “Spice” applied over a little chapstickOr, for a slightly more 60’s nude lip, try a Clinique nude lipstick.  I think Clinique nails nude and beige shades really well.  For a truly 60’s look, try to keep the shade a true beige with little to no pink.
  • I like MAC eye pencil in “Buried Treasure” for eyes.  It’s a very dark brown with little gold flecks.  It’s pretty soft in texture so it blends well.  L’oreal’s Le Kohl eye pencil in Onyx is a highly pigmented and blendable black.  I like true pencils and not automatic liners for this look.  To intensify and add a 60’s vibe, use liquid eyeliner on top of the pencil and wing at the ends.
  • I go with a matte face, with a very slight dusting of a tawny blush or bronzer where the sun would naturally hit.  Cheekbones, bridge of nose, a little on the forehead.

Movies

Katherine Ross as Edda Place in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

One of my favorite movies of all time is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.   In fact, that very film was the first time I saw Katharine Ross.  I loved her style and I liked how she held her own with Robert Redford and Paul Newman.  Having had many odd bondings with friend-boys over the years, I particularly loved her scenes with Butch.

Other films that should be included in a Katharine Ross movie marathon:

The Stepford Wives

The Graduate

Style

Of all my favorite style icons, Ms. Ross is probably the most casual.  Fabrics and textures included in a Katharine-themed wardrobe are cognac and lighter brown leathers, cotton eyelet, gingham, wood, denim, all-season tropical wool, prints – liberty and mod florals.

She often wears simple countrified styles, equestrian wear with a slight Victorian feel.  California cool bell bottoms and shirts tied at the waist with clunky platforms or riding boots would be an easy-breezy way to invoke some comfy late sixties style.

Check out this Polyvore set I created using Katharine Ross as inspiration:

embellished border maxi dress
14 GBP – janenorman.co.uk
Maxi dresses »

Winter Jumper
$270 – allsaints.com
Long sleeves sweater »

Classical Dressage Coat
$162 – modcloth.com
Tweed coats »

Etro Skinny Jodhpur
160 GBP – brownsfashion.com
Pleated pants »

Vince Camuto Fays Boots
$100 – piperlime.gap.com
Over the knee boots »

Open Heel Strappy Clog
$52 – needsupply.com
High heel shoes »

Hats in the Belfry Fascinator
$35 – modcloth.com
Party hats »

Brooks Brothers | Straw Boater Hat
$198 – brooksbrothers.com
Straw hats »

Anna Lou of London | Umbrella
20 GBP – annalouoflondon.com
Anna Lou »

D&G Tie-front gingham cotton shirt
135 GBP – net-a-porter.com


I hope you enjoyed this trip through the work and style of Katharine Ross.  If nothing else,  watch Butch Cassidy.  It’s divine.

*What is a movie hero? An un or under-sung member of the film making community who deserves more of the spotlight. And yet lack of such a spotlight often adds to their charm.

The 30 for 30 Winter Challenge


Fashion Post

I’m considering entering Kendi Everyday’s 30 for 30 Winter Challenge.

Here are the rules (per Kendi):

1. Pick 30 items or less from your closet. Shoes are included, but accessories and jewelry are not.

2. Remix the 30 items into 30 different outfits.

That’s it! Well not entirely so..

3. Don’t shop for 30 days.

Why in the world would I add insult to injury, you ask? Because of two reasons: 1) so you’ll learn to shop your own closet and 2) so you’ll appreciate it. So many times I’ve run out and bought a new dress for one event or I bought something because I felt lacking and not what was in my closet. Obviously, this is not the best solution to a problem. I have found that when I limit myself with shopping, with 30 items, I become so much more aware of what I have versus what I need. By the end of the 30 days, I am ready to shop, but with new eyes of what I really need.

I actually already signed up, and will probably do it, I just have a few hesitations.

1.  My photography skills are abysmal.  I’m also hard up on well-lit professional looking backgrounds.

2.  I will have to convince Will to take pictures of my outfits shortly after he wakes up.

3.  My laziness.

Still, one of my goals for the year is to look at my closet more imaginatively.  In the spirit of things, I’ve created a Polyvore set with my intended 30 for 30 items.  (Ignore prices or labels.  Some of these items I own, some of these things just look like items I own.)

 

Betty Paige print T-shirt
115 GBP – harveynichols.com
Cotton tees »

Petite 3/4 slv leopard print cardigan
75 GBP – houseoffraser.co.uk
3 4 cardigan »

Oldbury Classic Shirt
$69 – jackwills.com
Slim fit tees »

36 White TShirt
28 GBP – coggles.com
Logo tops »

Ambsn Haggar Shirt
$40 – swell.com
Plaid tops »

Black bird print top
30 GBP – debenhams.com
Tie blouses »

Pinstripe suit trouser
30 GBP – karenmillen.com


Sienna mid-rise skinny jeans
$44 – theoutnet.com
Faded jeans »

HIGH-HEEL BOOT
$169 – zara.com
Knee high heel boots »

SmackyGlam Oxford Bottie
$64 – maruione.jp
Sparkly shoes »

Cotton V Neck Cardigan
25 GBP – uniqlo.com


The total count is:

4 tees

4 sweaters

3 shirts

3 skirts

3 shoes

2 cardigans

2 blouses

2 pants

2 boots

1 hoodie

1 vest

1 dress

1 jean

1 cord

=

30 items

The challenge I think will really center around office wear and rehearsal wear (workout wear is not included in the 30 for 30, so if I have a dance rehearsal I will wear dance apparel).   Due to my two-job life, I usually end up wearing two different outfits per day with complete different requirements for function.

Once I nail down the actual items I will be using, I will post.  Let me know if you are joining in!

Musical Auditions: Part 2: The Audition Day


Career Post

Part 2 of a series about Musical Auditions.  (Click here to view Part 1: Preparation)

We all have our own little rituals when it comes to stressful situations.  Some people do a little yoga, some meditate, others pray.  Some people seem to be immune to audition nerves and bully for them.  For me, I like to know absolutely as much as possible about what to expect.  So, this post is sort of written to myself in the past in the hopes that a newbie musical theatre professional can get some sort of benefit from it.  If you are a seasoned old salt, please add any helpful hints.  Rather than focus too heavily on the nitty gritty details, I try to answer the question What is a musical audition like?

If it seems like the following is a lot of effort for all of 60 seconds of your life, well, it is.  But it’s worth it, in the end.  Preparation lessens the stress of a situation that is traditionally thought of as nerve-wracking.  But, it can, and should be fun, for the most part.  Why not?  Auditioning is absolutely as much a part of the actor’s job as anything else.  No need to look at it as a “necessary evil”.  It’s like a 60 second cabaret starring you.  This is a notion to keep in mind while selecting material, something I’ve blogged about here and here in reference to building your book.  I will also discuss it in an upcoming post about selecting audition material for a particular audition and how the book itself should function.

There are basically two situations:  Appointment or No Appointment.

Appointment

Auditions by appointment are posted ahead of time.  Sometimes you have to submit your headshot and resume in ordered to be offered an appointment.  On the day of the audition you show up a little early, fill out the requisite paperwork, and do your thang.  If there are no appointments available, ask if can be on the waitlist.  They still may be able to squeeze you in.

No Appointment

These include Equity crashes, waitlists, open calls and cattle calls. (I loathe and detest open calls.  But that really doesn’t matter.  Cattle calls, however, are not as horrid as the name implies.) I recommend crashing Equity auditions every once in awhile.   Particularly in Chicago.  While the talent pool is big, it’s hardly overwhelming and to date I’ve never not been seen.  Scare yourself every once in awhile.  That’s my motto.  (I know, I have like fifteen mottos.)

The purpose of this post isn’t to detail all the ins and outs of the different types of musical auditions because in the end, you are still busting out 16 bars or so and maybe a monologue.

*************

So Audition day dawns.  What to do?  Well, whether the audition is at 10 in the morning, or 10 at night, find some time to warm up and rehearse and hydrate.  Avoid caffeine and dairy if you can (makes you sound a little gurgly).  Don’t let the audition be the first time that day you’ve sung.

Of course there is the age old question of what to wear.  I am going to do a post about audition wear coming up, but whatever you choose should be pressed and professional.  I like to wear a dress to musical auditions.  It’s the most “me” thing.  Lots of women wear dress pants.  It doesn’t really matter.  The important thing is to look a little dressy.  Musicals, in particular, have a bit of a dressy feel to them. The makeup is a little more intense.  You are often wigged.  Even miked.  The costumes are a little more ridiculous (if not patently a lot more ridiculous).  Dressing up hints in that direction, and it’s a sign of respect.  Remember, as I’ve said before, at it’s heart it’s a job interview.  A creative one.  Where you sing.

Keys:

LOVE your material.  Love it.  Don’t get so caught up in finding obscure and interesting pieces that you forget to sing something you enjoy.  I tell you this from experience.  I have been guilty of this time and time again.  You should really love your whole book.  I sort of look at my book as a dream cabaret – with a few caveats.

I like to have a little checklist for myself  that I keep in my audition binder to remind what to bring along:

1.  Music – marked (I’ll talk about how to do this in the Audition Book post.)

2.  Sides (if provided)

3.  Monologue (for review, and if requested)

4.  5 headshots and resumes

5.  Shoes (if I plan on changing shoes when I get there)

6.  Water

7.  Audition/Rehearsal Kit (I will go over what is in this in a later post.  But it’s basically a makeup bag full of safety pins, lozenges, mints, kleenexes and other stuff I usually wish I have.  More important for long audition days.)

8.  Pashmina or something in case the audition area isn’t heated…this happens.  A lot.

9.  Calendar

10.  Phone/Keys/Wallet

11. Dance clothes and dance shoes.  (I don’t think you need to carry around your dance shoe collection, but having your characters on hand is not a bad idea.  Don’t do your initial audition in them, however.  Frankly…it looks dorky.)  You may be asked to come back and dance that day.  This is fairly rare in Chicago, but it does happen.  I am of the “Be Prepared” school of thought, so might well throw those trusty t-straps in your bag.

12.  The details of the audition including location, directions, and hopefully a phone number in case you get lost or are running late.

13.  Pens and a little notebook.  You might be called back immediately and given information that you will want to write down.  You might meet someone who’s name you need to remember.  You never know.

The Audition Itself

When you arrive, you will usually be met by a table where an audition monitor will usually be seated.  This person is your guide.  They have the sheet with your appointment.  They have the forms you need to fill out.  They know if things are running as scheduled.  They know who is in the room.  Be nice to them.  Follow their instructions, and ask them any questions you have.

Then sit back and relax, go over your stuff, observe.  Sometimes I even knit.  Pay attention to any announcements from the monitor.  Don’t make them repeat things over and over.

When you are called into the audition room, you could see any number of people: The director, the music director, the accompanist, the choreographer, the producer, the artistic director, the assistant director, the stage manager, the managing director, casting director,  interns….  Normally, there are usually 3-4 people in the room, and not the entire slew of production staff.   I often ask whoever is monitoring the auditionwho is in the room just to have a general feel for what will greet me.  I also like to know who is accompanying on the off chance I know them.  If we’ve worked on a certain piece together, it might be a good choice for the audition.

So what do you do once you are in there?  You are introduced by the monitor, typically, and then given a moment to speak with the accompanist.  Don’t lollygag with the accompanist, but do take your time.  They need the info to play to your specifications.  Bring music in your key.  Do not expect that the person at the piano can transpose on demand.  Even if they can, they may not because it’s a pain in the ass.  Also, make sure you bring actual sheet music.  Not chord charts, and certainly not fake book entries.  With the internet, libraries, and music stores are at your disposal, you’ve got absolutely no excuses other than laziness in this regard.  The accompanist is your partner and there really, more than anyone else, for you.  The director doesn’t need backup music, you do.  However, the accompanist may also be the music director.

Once you’ve established your music with the accompanist, you walk to your spot, re-greet the people at the table, introduce yourself and your piece(s) and do your thang.  Finish up.  Say thank you, and wait for them to dismiss you.  They might want to ask you questions.  They might not.  Don’t go running out of the room.  They might even ask you to sing, gasp!, something else.  (You should have several selections available in your book.  I’ll talk about that in the Audition Book post.)

Then you’re done, you’ve thanked the monitor, and before you know it, you’re back at home and it’s all in the past.  Except for that waiting part.  For reference, I like to make a note of who I met at the audition, who was in the room, what I wore, what my hair was like, the material I did, my thoughts on the audition, and any comments or reaction.  It’s just good info to have and info you’ll be glad you have the next time you audition for them.  I used to keep this information in a notebook.  But now I use an Excel spreadsheet.  Oh yes.  My dorkiness knows no bounds.

Coming soon I’ll talk callbacks, audition wear, your Book, the pieces themselves and how to approach their actual performance,  rehearsals and all sorts of other fun stuff!

Every Little Step


Movie Post

Every Little Step sat in my watch instantly queue for quite some time.  Meanwhile, I was recently promoted to admin from receptionist so I’ve been getting to know the executives I’m assisting.  Living in a big city like Chicago means you really don’t have the luxury of making a lot of assumptions about people.  I used to labor under the delusion that I was the enlightened one amidst a community of cube-dwellers because I had the balls to take a job less than me so that I could follow my dreams.  Well, needless to say I’ve learned how egotistical and basically wrong that is.  I’m not saying I’m constantly surrounded by sensitive aesthetes at my day job.  I’m just saying I’ve quit being so surprised when one of the execs I assist (Whom I will refer to as Merv) turns out to be European and a fantastically talented amateur photographer and connoisseur of the theatre and also hilarious and incredibly easy to work for.  So let it be known artist-friends, that even in the depths of corporate America are very delightful non-drones who make excellent documentary suggestions.

A couple months ago, upon finding out I’m an actor,  Merv asked if I had seen Every Little Step.  I said no but that it had been languishing in my queue for some time.  He convinced me to watch it and so yesterday, in a fog of my annual winter plague (a delightful combination of cold/sinus infection) I plopped down and pressed play.

This documentary tells the story of both the creation of the original production of A Chorus Line and the 2008 Broadway Revival casting process.

This morning, when Merv asked how my weekend was, I said I watched Every Little Step.

MERV:  What did you think?

ME:  I loved it!

MERV:  Who was that guy?  That guy.

ME: ?

MERV: The judge!  On, um,  the So You Think…  agh….the yutz!

ME:  Tyce Diorio?  Yes!  What an ego!

MERV:  I know!

ME:  Didn’t get the role, did he?

MERV:  No, he didn’t.

I love So You Think You Can Dance.  I think it’s a grand program that pushes it’s viewers to think about art and dance and theatre and performance.  It busts with creativity and the choreographers often bring me to either tears or absolute joy.  Tyce Diorio is one of those choreographers.  His Damn Yankees number from last season was perfection.   Absolute perfection.  I don’t even like Damn Yankees.

So with all due respect to his current artistic incarnation, Merv’s right.  In Every Little Step, Tyce is a yutz.  But I’ll get to that in a bit.

I always say if you get a chance to be on the other side of the audition table, do it.  No class can teach you more.   Every Little Step does just that.  It’s very much about dance.  But the vulnerability of auditioning as a performing artist is a universal experience.

When I watch showbiz movies or documentaries I try to learn something from them that can help me.  With Every Little Step I learned two big things.

1.  Humbleness and Confidence are not mutually exclusive.

2.  I’m paraphrasing but one of the producers says “The way to get a role on Broadway is to audition and callback as if it’s opening night.”  That’s how polished your performance has to be.  I’m not exactly auditioning for Broadway, but it’s good advice that applies across the board.

In reference to Lesson #1, let’s get back to Tyce.  I mentioned his choreography skills before.  Let’s talk about his dancing ability:  unbelievable.  Out of this world talent.  Of the three finalists for that particular role (the one that sings “I Can Do That”), by far the best dancer.  But his ego was OUT. OF. CONTROL.  And he ultimately lost the role.

Every Little Step demonstrates that fine line between confidence and egotism.  You can be humble and confident at the same time.  It also shows how being “the best” isn’t always the clincher.  But then again, sometimes it definitively is.  My favorite moment is when an auditionee makes four hardened Broadway salts cry with his performance of a monologue they have heard a million times.  He ultimately secures the role.  After he leaves the room, the director says while wiping tears away, “that hasn’t happened to me in 30 years.  In an audition!”

To be able to be THAT vulnerable…in an audition.  Oy. I should be so lucky.

In this world of shows that seem to cash in on the audition scenario (American Idol and the like) it’s easy to forget what real auditions are like…and no, I don’t consider American Idol a real audition.  Being able to sing a cappella by yourself is worth a cup of jack squat.  In Every Little Step, each one of those auditionees is a consummate professional.  The only tearful breakdowns occur either as an acting choice during a read or after they have been offered a role.

Finally, Every Little Step confirmed a suspicion I’ve had for some time.  To quote Julie Andrews in the PBS documentary, Broadway: The American Musical, “while the theatres rarely change, the musicals have always reflected our changing times.”  Right now, belt is big.  Belt is the thing.  The influence of singers like Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth and the like have made most auditions a long series of forced money notes.  In Every Little Step, we watch as person after person belts out the “At the ballet” progression to the point that finally the director says, “Honey, you don’t have to shout it.” Volume is often confused with quality.

I believe that we have reached the current peak of the belt and that, due to the work of composers like Adam Guettel, the increased emphasis on Sondheim’s more classical works, and the general forward movement of art, it’s going to get more legit from here on out.   That’s not to say that belt will every go away.  It won’t.  And I don’t want it to. I’m just saying I want a nice balance back.

But I digress.

In summary, Every Little Step taught me to stand tall, be confident, be polished and professional at all times, and in the words of Merv, don’t be a yutz.

Coming Up!


What a crazy week I just had!  I want to take this time to say my goal was to post more regularly…not necessarily everyday.  heh.  K.

So, this week, I want to follow up my post about preparing for musical auditions with Part 2: The Audition Day, a post about the documentary Every Little Step, my thoughts on the musical Kiss Me Kate (As part of the Musical Project), and probably a few other things along the way.  I blissfully had today off so it is really going to be very much about laundry around this apartment.

I’m Going to Need a Bigger Closet


Fashion Post

I am on a bit of a fashion kick.  These January clearance sales have me doing a two-step.  I’ve also recently happened upon some very cool DIY fashion blogs that are charming and packed full of ideas.  A few I recommend checking out:

  • What I Wore
  • I Want To Be Her (Not exactly homegrown.  It’s run and designed by Andrea Linnet, formerly the Creative Director of Lucky Magazine and co-author of two of my favorite fashion books AND Anne Johnston Albert, fashion designer of the Martin clothing line and artist for the blog)  My entire life, I have been comforted and inspired by fashion renderings.  My Mom was a fashion design major at the school of the Art Institute in Pittsburgh.  She had this huge portfolio of drawings with exaggerated lines, big lashy eyes, and beautiful colors.  This site evokes that for me.  Meanwhile Lucky Magazine (which used to be my fave) had a big staff shimmy shake and booted their Editor-in-Chief, Kim France (another co-author of the Lucky Guides.)  Andrea Linnet followed.  I picked up my first non-France/Linnet Lucky and I did not like what I saw.  Very few mid-priced pieces.  Almost no low.  No delightful Anne Johnston Albert sketches.  No more Lucky for me.  However, my heart skipped a beat when I discovered I Want to Be Her.

The thing I love about these blogs is that they transcend any current trends.  They are creative, bold, and unabashedly wearing what they like.


MY CURRENT INSPIRATION

As I said, I’ve been doing a bit of shopping…ahem.  A bit.

I have very lately been inspired by

um

Jaws.

It’s true.

They’re going to need a bigger boat.

I mean look at Roy Scheider!  He’s chic!  That watch!  The nicely fitted sweater.  The chambray!  The sweatshirts!  You can’t see it in the pic, but I happen to know they are wearing white sneaks.  (You could say I’ve seen the film a few times.)  I love the idea of menswear, not so much in the wingtips and fedora vein, but in the sweatshirts and sneaks vein.

What is more all-American than a white tshirt, floppy hair, and a day at the beach?

It seems dorky at first, but check out the watch and the ring.  It’s kinda sexy.  Plus I love a raglan sleeve gray sweatshirt.

Sure, she’s fleeing certain death, but look at her hair!

I had a hard time finding pics that really showed off the character of Ellen Brody and her smooth style.  She’s got great hair tied up with scarves and bandannas, cool gold hoops, and long swingy sweaters.  For a weeknight at home, this is chic little impromptu dinner party.

Sure, Chief Brody looks a little stressed here but look at Ellen’s beach getup! And look at how nat a navy t can be.

Another comfy but sexy Ellen B. getup.  And my favorite line of the movie, “Wanna get drunk and fool around?”

So, in honor of one of my favorite movies of all time, and in the spirit of the eventual summer that will find us again, my Polyvore creation, Jaws:

Hot Toggle Cardigan
$75 – modcloth.com
Floral print tops »

Old Navy Women’s Perfect Tees
$7.50 – oldnavy.gap.com
Short sleeve tops »

Distressed denim jacket
$117 – theoutnet.com
Long sleeve jackets »

BDG Wool Captain’s Hat
$9.99 – urbanoutfitters.com
Urban hats »

Gap Ribbed Knit Beanie
$17 – gap.com
Beanie hats »

Fun Plastic Glasses
$45 – jessicasimpsoncollection.com
Plastic shades »