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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

And Baby Makes 4

Hi Everyone,

So here's some news...I'm going to have a baby! Yep, sure enough, for those of you that suspected Charlotte would be our "one and only" we are here to announce our soon-to-arrive 2nd child, due February 4th. Surprise!!

No one is happier than 9-year-old soon-to-be-big-sister Charlotte who has decided that we are waiting to find out the sex of the baby...she wants the big "IT'S A _______" moment in the delivery room. She says "She doesn't care if it's a boy or a girl as long as it's healthy."

More good news, I'm now at AVENUE Q in NYC through October 14th.

I'm off to do a press event for AVENUE Q at New York University, so I'm signing off, but I'll write more soon.

Catch ya later,


Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'm performing in AVENUE Q on Broadway

Hey Everyone,

So, you wanted to know, and here are the dates.

I'm performing as Mrs. T/Yellow Bear:

Thurday August 30th and Friday August 31st at 8pm as well as September 1st at 2 & 8.

Please visit www.avenueq.com for tickets, and if you'd like, stick around at the stage door so I can say hi!

Thanks so much for everyone's interest and encouragement!

Catch ya later,


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Welcome to AVENUE Q

Hello Friends!

I'm delighted to announce that I'll be joining the Broadway cast of AVENUE Q this summer! I start rehearsals on July 23rd and I'll be sure to post when I'm going on, so check back if you are going to be in town and might like to come. I'll be in the cast until September 30th (it's a limited engagement) but I hope you'll swing by if you can. For tickets, please go to www.avenueq.com

Catch ya later,


Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Broadway Bus

There is a bus in Manhattan that runs from the UN to Columbia University, cutting across midtown on 42nd street and then stopping all up and down Broadway. This bus, for those of you who don't know New York City bus routes (which are very confusing), is called the M104.

But I call it the Broadway Bus.

Here's why I love the Broadway Bus. By day, it's just your typical crowded bus full of the riders who differ slightly from the underground subway crowd. These people are opting to avoid the numerous subway stairs; mainly elderly people and parents (or nannies) with young childern who sit backwards in the seat, faces pressed against the glass to watch the Midtown and Upper West Side sights go by.

But at night, Tuesday through Saturday around 10:00pm, the M104 transforms from a typical MTA bus to a magical shuttle as all the Broadway shows start to let out within a very small window of time. Double doors open and audiences spill out, glowing in the shared experience, clutching their Playbills, anxious to give their opinions of the costumes, the writing, the performances, and sometimes the music of the world they just visited. Stage doors burst open with actors and stage hands rushing to get to home after work to kiss their daughter, walk their dog or eat a late dinner. Bus stops from 42nd street to 54th street all along 8th avenue swarm with the Broadway crowd looking to return to the reality of their apartments or hotels along the M104 route. Once the bus comes, it takes forever to load and find a seat, but the wait is worth it. Once on, the audience and performers mix into one community--an audience member excitedly scanning their Playbills sitting shoulder to shoulder with actors with brightly painted stage makeup or freshly washed faces and hair that still bends in the circle from the pin curl it was held hostage in for three hours.

I love the Broadway Bus. I've ridden it many times as an actor, and just as often as an audience member. Last night I boarded the bus on 52nd and 8th after seeing TALK RADIO and ran into two good friends from CATS that I hadn't seen in years. As the bus jerked and swayed it's way to my stop, we caught up, laughed, kissed and hugged goodbye, all the while surrounded by people with Playbills from almost every show currently running on Broadway. From 10-11pm, Tuesday through Saturday, the M104 belongs to us, the Broadway community, and we press our faces to the windows, sharing the experience, watching our magical city roll by.

I think back to the yellow bus I took for years and I think wouldn't I be thrilled as a young teased girl to know that something as magical as a Broadway Bus appears every night for an hour and that I as a grown up would have the great privilege to be on board? It's more intoxicating than any carriage ride through Central Park could ever be.

Catch ya later.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Off and On

Sometimes I blog, sometimes I don't. I'm sorry I haven't been better!

I hate excuses, but the truth is that I'm working on two new writing projects that take up a lot of time, both in research and in actual writing. Soon I'll be able to talk about them a little more, but for now I'm still in the creating phase.

Also, auditions have slowed down a little for me. It is typical that auditions have seasons, early spring is probably the hottest season as all of the regional/summer stock theaters are casting for their summer seasons. Broadway shows cast all year round, but they aren't as frequent (there are less of them). As I get more auditions, I'll continue to blog.

Rob got a big job, but I can't post the details until the offer is official, but I promise to break the news as soon as I can.

Okay! That's it for now. Catch ya later.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Match Game

I'm spending an evening at home with my family. Right now Charlotte is practicing the piano, Rob is doing the dishes, a cool breeze is blowing in and I am writing. Today I wrote over 2000 words of my new book, so I'm a bit tired. This will be short.

Since I left you hanging, I thought I'd report in that my Monday audition went well, and I'm waiting to hear something. As an actor you wait a lot. You put it out there, do the best you can, and see if you are a match. It's a match game.

Thank goodness I already have some really good matches in my life who keep me sane in this business. It makes me think of a somewhat obscure Sondheim song called "What More Do I Need" all about living in New York and keeping things in perspective. With your love what more do I need?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Flood and the Drought

In the past two weeks there has been a flood and a draught.

In one day, New York City received its fourth largest amount of rain ever recorded. Our ceilings leaked, our mood was grey, we prayed for spring.

Two weeks ago I prayed for no auditions--nothing to interrupt my trip. The universe listened to me. I have had a drought. 2 weeks without an audition, maybe longer, I've lost track.

Today the floods and winter come to an end. There is sun and an expected high of 77.

And on Monday, the draught ends. I have an audition for Les Miserables. It will be the third time I have auditioned for Les Miz in my life, and twice I got the job. This time I have to be funny, which is (for me in Les Miz land) a first.

And the sun shines.

Catch ya later!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Seeing Les Miserables

Today (rainy, rainy Sunday) Charlotte and I went to see Les Miserables on Broadway. We happened upon Adam Jacobs, the actor who plays Marius, as we walked by the stage door, and Charlotte took a picture with him.

I have to say, seeing Les Miz was fun and emotional on many levels. First of all, I love this show so much. If I could play any male role in the entire world, it would be Jean Valjean, but I'm equally happy that I played Eponine, Cosette and every female ensemble role. I was in Les Miserables from 1992-1996 (both on Broadway and on tour) and it was my first "big show". By big show I mean big paycheck, but it was much more than that...getting cast in Les Miserables at such a young age and so soon after moving to New York meant that I was not a fraud. I was not a fluke. I was valid, and talented, and not too fat to be onstage. It was everything I'd ever wanted.

For four years, I had the great fortune of having the music of Les Miserables as the sound track of my life. Seeing the show today--after such a long time--seeing the set I'd climbed on, the costumes I'd worn, and hearing the songs I'd sung, and watching the beautiful themes of Les Miz brought back a flood of memories. Memories of the show, yes, but more than that. Memories of what was happening in my life while I told this story 8 shows a week.

During the four years that I did Les Miserables on tour and on Broadway, I....
1) Got my Actor's Equity Card.
2) Lived in Los Angeles right after the riots.
3) Had ALL of my luggage and traveling worldly possessions stolen from the trunk of a rental car.
4) Traveled to almost every state in the country.
5) Got engaged.
6) Had my wisdom teeth out.
7) Got married.
8) Made my Broadway debut.
9) Lost 50 pounds and hit my all time lowest (adult) weight and was a size four.
10) Traveled to Europe on my honeymoon.
11) Lost my amazing grandmother, Meema.
12) Lived for three months in Singapore and performed the show there.
13) Endured the Northridge earthquake while playing Los Angeles.
14) Traveled to Hawaii and did the show there for three weeks.
15) Got pregnant.
16) Had a miscarriage.
17) Made five of my life long best friends.

As I sat in the dark watching the wonderful singing actors in Les Miserables, I saw it through new eyes; the eyes of my newly nine-year-old girl sitting transfixed beside me. This girl, my baby, who was amazingly now old enough to play Young Cosette.

As long as it’s been since I did Les Miz (11 years!), I was astounded to discover how vivid and immediate my memories are.

I remember every word of the show. Seriously, every word. And much more, every vocal part…every prop that gets handed off..how tight the corsets are...how funny the kids are off stage...the dumb lyrics we made up to the orchestrations as we changed clothes...even how I could fall asleep during the three minutes of Bring Him Home. I watched the women run off stage and I could picture their costume and make up change. The entrances and exits. The smell of the gun powder, the sound of the cannons. The exhaustion of a two show day when those two shows are three hours each (well, when I did it they were 3 hours and 20 minutes…but…it's still long).

By the end of the second act, as I watched the audience jump to their feet with applause in the black out—before the curtain call even started--I stood and cheered with them, and held my clapping, teary daughter up with pride.

Yes, Charlotte, I did that show. And I’m proud. So proud.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

And the award goes to....


I haven't blogged in a while. I've spent the past 6 days driving (or so it seems. New York/Cincinnati is a loooong trip!) Fortunately I had my very best travel buddy, Charlotte S. Meffe, who never once asked "Are we there yet?" She's kind of amazing, that kid of mine.

I’m pleased to say, I received my alum award. (See the blurry, terrible picture above). It was very nice to see my school (University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music) which has undergone a complete renovation since I attended. I was lost about 65% of the time, and kept asking really annoying things like "So was this our lounge? Was this the scene shop? Where did the vending machines go?"

All in all, I had a great time, I’m very flattered, and I’m proud to be a CCM grad!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

2007 Young Alum

I am proud to say that I am in Cincinnati receiving the 2007 Young Alumnae award from The University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music tonight. (Me? They like me! They really like me!)

Please note that "young" is part of the title (Yay!). Seriously, I am so flattered, but I don't have time to blog right now! The ceremony is in 8 hours and I have to look FABULOUS. I need to spend the next few hours finding the perfect something to accentuate my (fill in body part/facial feature here) and play down my (fill in body part here).

Ideally, this outfit will then morph into a perfect, much needed audition outfit. I need one, I have been known to wear overalls to auditions. Not good.

You see? All things come down to auditions. I even gave a masterclass at CCM yesterday--what did I spend my time doing? Telling audition stories. Typical! I'm obsessed!

I will take pictures, post them, and fill you all in later.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

On the road again

Charlotte and I struck out on our Spring Break journey (and so far, no auditions). Yay! I'll write more later tonight.

Thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

To leave, or not to leave. Every actor's nightmare.

Unbelievable. I wrote an entry earlier today and as I was just finishing it—really liking it—excited to post it—my computer crashed. And yep, I lost the entire thing. Two hours of writing down the cyber drain. Oh wait, hold on, I have to save this (now I’m writing in my word program instead of my blog window so I can save as I go). Hold on…ah yes. Saved. Remind me to do that every once in a while, would you?

Can you believe that I actually wrote my entire book on this very computer that crashes? I’m not only going to continually save this document (save) but I am also going to save up my pennies for a new computer. The trouble is, as far as needing a new computer goes,I have to wait in line. Rob is keeping his computer together with strapping tape (true story).

Now I am going to try to recapture the magic. I specialize in recreating the same material 8 shows a week on stage, so I should be able to do a decent job in the rehash of my story for today. It went something like this. (Save).

Spring break.

It’s spring break and I am not in Jamaica. Or Florida. Or anywhere but here, on my couch, watching the clock, and agonizing over whether or not I can take my deserving school girl on a car trip to see my in-laws in Pennsylvania and then on to Cincinnati to visit my parents. (Save).

I am involved in every actor’s nightmare. To leave, or not to leave, that is the question.

Why? What’s the big deal about leaving Manhattan if I don’t have a job tying me down?
I’ll tell you in one word.

Auditions. And they come when you least expect it.

There seems to be some kind of tracking device on my car that tells casting directors when my car is outside of a 250 mile radius of Manhattan. It’s always the same. My tires hit the Ohio line, Charlotte and I are singing at the top of our lungs to Jesus Christ Superstar (it’s Easter week, after all. ((Save.)), and somewhere under the bag of baked Cheetos we got at the rest stop in Washington, PA, comes a sound that I know oh-so-well.


It’s my cell phone, and it’s set on the loudest, most alarming, could hear even in the middle of a herd of stampeding elephants ring. The ring I have caller ID’ed to only one number. My agent.

Shit. (Save).

I race to turn down the radio, find the phone under the seat, not wreck, plug in my headset and answer before it goes to voice mail.


“Sharon, it’s Craig. I have an audition for you for (fill in name of Broadway Show I’ve been dying to do) for the role of (fill in name of perfect dream role. The one I’ve been dying to be seen for, but could not get an audition. The role that everyone asks me if I’ve been seen for. But I haven’t. Until now. And I’m in Ohio)” Craig continues, “This is an emergency replacement, they are only seeing a few people, they called especially for you, and the audition is tomorrow.” (Save)

Cut to me saying “I’ll call you back” and then calling Rob who is, as always, completely helpful and accommodating, giving me advice (which is usually, do what you want but you should go. Advice I’d give me, too.) saying that he'll start checking flights and he'll call me back.

I look in the back seat and there are tears in Charlotte’s eyes. She’s been through this before. The vacation cut short or cancelled because I get an audition or last minute job that I have to do to cover the rent. My poor daughter who just wants to play with her cousins. “Don’t worry!!!” I tell those sad eyes in the rear view mirror. “I’ll figure it out!”

I’ll figure it out is my catch phrase. I should have it tattooed on my forehead. (Save).

I always do figure it out. It always means a last minute plane ticket, usually purchased on one day’s notice, so you can imagine the amazingly bad price we get. Delta LOVES it when we call, the last minute traveling suckers who will pay the jacked up fare. Most of the time, I travel to and from New York on the same day because Charlotte absolutely hates to spend the night anywhere with out me, and I’m not a Mom who will force her.

So, I get to my parent's house, kiss them hello, try to shove whatever song and scene I’m supposed to learn into my head all night, and then get up before dawn. I leave at the earliest crack of dawn, return on the latest flight that same night, and in this (save) exhausted, frazzled state that includes planes, cabs, warming up in the shower at 6 am and putting on make up in the cab from LaGuardia to Ripley Greer Studios, I show up for the audition.

And amazingly, sometimes I get the job. Which is, if you are wondering why, I (and most professional actors) would ever go through this in the first place. I booked AVENUE Q Las Vegas on a whirlwind trip back from New Hampshire, and (save) The Phantom of the Opera on a trip back from Toronto. Us actors, we’re good on the fly. It’s part of our genetic make up, part of the show-business-is-in-the-blood makeup. The show must go on.

It doesn’t always work out, though. Sometimes Mother Nature becomes a player and casts her vote. In February of this year I was in Cincinnati and I got a call to come in for two Broadway shows on back to back days. I cancelled all my engagements (I was teaching classes at my high school. (( Save)), bought a ticket, and then got completely fogged in. Pea soup. Couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Cancelled flights, and me, sitting in the Cincinnati airport in my audition clothes calling my agent to say I can’t make it. “Can I come any other day? Can I come later today? The fog will eventually lift!” The answer? No. And to be honest, I never got another shot at it. Casting done. Young Frankenstein the musical--Mel Brooks--Susan Stroman. Mary Poppins with the entire creative team. Not for me. Not this time.


So you see, this is why I sit on my couch and ask the fateful unemployed actor’s question. To leave? Or not to leave?

Catch ya tomorrow.


Sunday, April 01, 2007


Okay, okay. I've only written one audition post so far, and already I'm swirling in controversy.

But, before I dive into this controversy head first, please allow me to point out that the comment on yesterdays blog from "anonymous" is from my mother. I don't have confirmation on that, but if you read it, you'll see what I mean. So, if you've read my book and wondered what my relationship is like with my Mom, read her comment. I'd also like to publicly congratulate "anonymous" on her recent graduation from college. Okay, it was a couple of years ago, but I didn't have a blog then, so WAY TO GO!! Hopefully "anonymous" with her new bachelor's degree will become a regular commenter.

Back to the regularly scheduled programming. We were talking controversy. Since it's a Sunday and I just watched all the Sunday morning political shows, I'm knee deep in controversy and ready for a fight. Of course, this has nothing to do with politics, but you understand what I'm going for here.

Yesterday, I had my husband Rob read my first official audition post. I was excited to see his reaction. I thought it was pretty fun, kind of a cute idea, you know, to blog about my auditions. God knows I go on enough of them, why not write about it? They are, generally speaking, hilarious to people who are sitting at a desk and do not regularly have to parade themselves in front of people sitting in folding chairs who make comments about your performance on a notepad. This was my set up to Rob before he read my blog. Let's have a few laughs at my expense and come away with a better understanding of how a Broadway show really gets cast (it does not happen like on "Grease, You're the One That I Want." Although, truth be told, I'd love to have America vote at my auditions. Fantastic.)

But Rob read it and he didn't think it was cute. He didn't think it was clever. And then, his friend Chris agreed. They asked me, in concerned tones,"Are you going to link it to your website? Will the readers of your book see it?"

"Of course," I replied, non plussed. Why shouldn't I? My readers have seen every other skeleton in my closet, why start holding back now? I did not understand their concern. Their furrowed brows. "Why?" I asked them.

"Well..." Chris went first, gently trying to explain. "It seems to me that it kind of flies in the face of what your book says. Your book is about your, you know, success. Your climb to the top. You overcame obstacles. Now you are going to write a blog that admits that you are currently unemployed. Don't you think that might send out a confusing message?"

I must have looked baffled so Rob took over. "They want to hear about your success, not your search for work. You have to create the illusion of success, even if you don't have a job. Nobody wants to hear about the reality of unemployment."


I felt like they were speaking in a foreign language. I tried to wrap my brain around this concept. This idea of not telling the entire truth. The idea that people might think less of me because I am currently auditioning for work. Even worse, the idea that they worried my blog might just continue on for endless days, months or years...me continually blogging, unable to get a job. I tackled this first. "You know, I will eventually get a job. Look how close I get. Why just this week..."

They cut me off, "No, that's not what we are saying, OF COURSE you'll get a job! But, success breeds success. Focus on that, instead. That's all we are saying."


I've thought about this for a solid 24 hours now. I thought about it all through the concert I sang in Bedford, NY (I'm resisting the urge to write "SEE, I CAN GET A JOB"). I thought about it before I went to sleep, and all through the Sunday news shows. Hmmm. Politics. Sunday news shows. Reality. Fiction. Which path to follow?

I think we have enough fiction in the world right now. We could use a dose of reality, and I, for one, am all about telling the truth about what is really going on.

I choose reality. BUT, part of my reality, is that I have worked (very hard!) all year, so to proclaim myself unemployed is false. My days are filled with book promotions, concerts, meetings, benefits and teaching. In many, many ways, my life is glamorous, and to portray it as empty or unfulfilled would be, itself, a big work of fiction.

So, in a nod to Rob and Chris, I will compromise. I will write all the good things that are going on in my life as well as the audition stories. Fair?

And, just to set the record straight, my state of unemployment is really my own fault. I was offered the National touring company of AVENUE Q, and I turned it down. It was a generous offer extended to both Rob and myself, but we didn't feel we could accept it at this time and take Charlotte out of school for the 4th grade. (Again it rears it's ugly head...SEE, I CAN GET A JOB!)

Maybe that's why I can talk about auditions with out a lot of resentment. I love to audition, and in reality, I get a lot of work. After all, reality or fiction, it's still always a great story.

Catch ya tomorrow.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Looking for Work; A year in the life of this Broadway actress

Unemployment blows, I need something productive to do, and this is it. I am going to keep an audition journal. For the record, it has been 10 months and 3 days since I had regular employment.

What, exactly, is an audition journal? When I was in college, we took an audition class and they taught us to keep an audition journal of all the Facts of your audition.

Facts like:

Who was in attendance? (Not other actors in attendance, who was auditioning you in the room? Director? Producer? Music Director? Casting Director?) The idea behind this is so you can cross reference against future auditions to see if you are auditioning for the same person in the future. (Side note--I have to ask, why? So you can walk in the door and say "Hi! You didn't hire me the last time I auditioned for you on May 22, 2004, but maybe you'd like to cast me this time!" This seems, to me at least, like a spectacularly bad idea, unless you'd like to turn it into a drinking trivia game with your friends. Flash cards of directors that you hold up and scream "That's James Lapine! He didn't hire me for Into The Woods in 2003 and Spelling Bee in 2007!" Then, all the actors compare when they auditioned for James Lapine and whoever has actually worked for him has to pay for every one's drinks.)

What did you wear? The theory behind this is that if you have an audition and then get a callback, you need to wear the same thing so they remember you--"Hire the girl in the RED sweater!!" Good God! What if you change outfits, and you come back in a blue sweater and then, they hire someone else who is wearing YOUR red sweater?
Never gonna happen, (they have your pictures and resumes in front of them) but people become superstitious about it. You don't get hired for what you wear--no one writes down "great outfit!" although you can bet that they will write down if you ass looks big in your skirt. Then you come back in the same skirt and they say "Oh, right, she's got that big ass. Send in the next person."

Just to be fair, I do always wear the same thing to an initial audition and a callback, so I guess I fall into the superstitious crowd. BUT, I always wonder if my ass looks big in my skirt.

What did you sing? This is a good thing to remember, but usually, if you get a callback you are doing stuff from the show you are auditioning for. If you have something particular happen in the audition room, like Paul Gemignani says, "Don't ever sing that song again, it's terrible for you." You may want to remember that. Although, if very famous Broadway music director Paul Gemignani says that to you, you should rip that song out of your folder and throw it away before you even get in the elevator to go home. No need to write it down. By the way, that may sound extreme, but very famous Broadway music director Paul Gemignani did say that to a friend of mine, although I forget what the song was. If I remember, I'll tell you.

There are other things people write down or plug into their treos as we sit in the hall waiting to go into the room and strut our goods. I think it is just busy work--but I'm not a terribly organized person. If I can make it to my audition on time with my picture and resume stapled together, well, that is a major accomplishment.

This is not going to be that kind of audition journal.

I am going to talk about what happens in the audition room....it's like opening Pandora's Box.

First installment? Tomorrow. I will cover bits and pieces of the 4 auditions I had this past week. For today, I have to get dudded up and out the door. I'm singing a concert in Westchester tonight. I'll make a little money and hopefully sell some books, which sounds like fun. Catch ya tomorrow.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Miss Otis Regrets

Well, I 've been thinking about something.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking to a high school English class that had read my book, and one of the students asked me a simple question.

"Do you have any regrets? Specifically, do you regret anything about your book?"

I found (and continue to find) this question fascinating. I mean, I know it's not really fascinating, it's a simple question, and one that people ask all the time. But I don't think in terms of regrets. I usually think in terms of unbelievable gratitude. After all, a book deal basically fell out of the sky and landed in my lap. I've been on Broadway. I am happy in my 12 year (!) marriage and I have a smart, wonderful daughter who is brighter than sunshine. Then, someone thought my stories were worthy, they asked me to write it all down and they put in every book store in the country. I'm grateful. I don't have regrets.

But still, I kept wondering...do I regret anything? Let's be specific. Do I have any regrets about my book?

Yes. I do.

Most of my experience with the book was a joy. Some of it was funny (and slightly horrifying) like when I got a call that they wanted to call my book "My Name is Sharon Wheatley and I'm Fat." Seriously. Can you IMAGINE?? I said, "Uh, can I call you back?", had a short break down, and then came up with the current title, 'Til the Fat Girl Sings. This title is a compromise of their desire for an "in your face" title with the word "fat" in it, and my total loathing of the word fat (and belief that the word fat should NOT be in the title). 'Til the Fat Lady Sings is a common phrase and it was the best thing I could come up with. I wanted to call my book "Frozen Cupcakes" but no one liked that. Okay. I get it.

But this wasn't the biggest problem.

The biggest problem I had was a very strict word count from my publisher. I was asked to write my entire life story in 80,000 words. Trust me, when I first saw the number 80,000 on my contract I broke out in a cold sweat remembering 500 word essays for English when I'd write things like, "I really, really, really, really liked this book." And then count, 495, 496, 497, 498. Crap. Add "A lot!" Got it to 500. Whew!

But 80,000 words to get me from singing "Where is Love" in the 3rd grade to Avenue Q in 2006? Never gonna happen. Things were going to have to go. And they did. A lot of detail went down the drain.

That's what I regret, losing the detail.

When I was asked to write this book, well, there was no book. Usually, authors shop an already completed manuscript. This was not the case with me. I created an outline based on what they wanted, and I sent the book in a few chapters at a time. Maybe if I'd "shopped" a previously written manuscript, it would have gone differently, but I was asked to do it and I was thrilled (and stunned, and shocked and flattered and scared...you get the point!). (For me details on this, see the Broadway World article on the "news" page of my website.)

I had to figure out how to focus my book so I could give the publisher what they wanted, which was, in their words "A book which gives voice to the childhood obesity epidemic" while still telling my own story. I decided the only way to do it was to focus on my body--what my body looked like, what was said about my body, how I felt about my body, how my body was an obstacle, and finally, what happened to my body. My first draft came in 5 months later at about 120,000 words. We trimmed. We chopped. Entire chapters, some of my favorites, ended up gone. Major characters were whittled away. I was told, "Keep the focus on you, Sharon." Big chunks of high school--gone. Most things about my parents--gone. Somehow in the chopping, my mother's character lost her warmth and humor. I only saw that later, and I regret that. I'm
sorry, Mom.

Then for the final draft, "We need to re-vamp the end of the book. The first part is too sad, so we need to give the reader a better pay off. We need more Broadway and more about your life now." I was thrilled, I could write about meeting my husband, about the birth of my daughter. How many more words do I get? None. We have to chop things from the beginning. My grandmother, Meema--gone. The story about my Dad at McDonalds, a story my editor liked so much that she xeroxed it and sent it around the office? Gone. It was very hard to tell my Dad the McDonalds story was gone.

You may wonder why I didn't take a stand? Demand more words? I couldn't--I'm a first time author. Please refer back to "grateful" at the top of the post. I rocked the boat as hard as I could, but I didn't want to get the deal canceled, capisce?

Another kind of bizarre thing, is that the book, essentially, ends in 1999, even though I wrote it in 2005-2006. This is, simply put, because I ran out of words.

So what is my BIGGEST regret? That there is hardly any of my daughter in the book. But then again, she deserves her own book, which I have always said would be called "The Adventures of Cookie and Sally" Cookie and Sally are Charlotte's imaginary friends and they go on wild world travels and they each have dozens of kids. Cookie is made of (naturally) cookie, and Sally is made of Jello (green).

So, to put it simply, I am very grateful for the opportunities given to me, but I wish I'd been given more words. I really, really, really, really, really do. A lot.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Giving Thanks For All The Reader Letters

Since my book was released on June 1st, I’ve received hundreds of letters from readers. I have to say, I'M SHOCKED!! It wasn’t my intention to inspire people by writing a book…I was just asked to sit down and write my life story, ya know? But what a great thing this is, an unexpected but wonderful community created by my book. So often I hear that someone “passed my book along” to their daughter, their mother, their cousin, their best friend, and there really is no better compliment. Thank you. In addition, I’m flattered that people take the time to write me, and you know what? I’ve learned a lot from the letters I’ve received. Over and over again I hear the same things.

*That many people went through what I went through as a kid.

*That we need better role models for young women.

*That many of us have spent years feeling like we are half a person because we have a larger waistline.

*That too many people have sacrificed their dreams because they felt certain they were too unattractive to succeed.

Well, here. Rather than paraphrase, I’ll give you a little sampling of the letters. With a couple of exceptions (involving people who gave me permission), I’m changing names or identifying characteristics to protect everybody. Enjoy!

This was one of my favorites. It’s from Emily Skinner, Tony award nominee and all around fabulous performer and person…


Here’s a sampling of more….

… I read the whole thing last night (yes, I'm a nerd) and I loved it. I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud! And when you're by yourself in your room, with no one to hear you, and you still belly laugh...that's when you know it's good.

…Ms.Wheatley, I just finished your book " 'Til the Fat Girl Sings" and-- "Wow"! I read it just as fast as I could, a day and a half-ish. I couldn't decide if I wanted to tear through it and see what was on the next page or savor each word. For once I do not feel simply fat and alone!

…I just felt so wonderful reading your book to be able to identify with someone who made it so big in the industry and know that not everything was coming up roses while you were growing up. Thank you for being so open and honest and helping so many others with big dreams and letting us understand how to love the beauty within ourselves. Best of luck to you.

… You don't know me. And actually I have never been inspired to write to an author of a book I was reading until this moment. Why on earth am I telling you this, I don't know? I guess because I have been keeping it inside of me and wanted to tell someone who might understand.

… I opened it and did not put it down until I finished the entire thing. I, too, was a fat child and am still a fat adult. I've shared so many of the same experiences as you, and reading the book was like taking a look into my own childhood. What's more, your words have really inspired me to take positive action in my career.

… Sharon, I just bought your book as a gift for my daughter's birthday today. She turns eighteen. I feel certain that I was drawn to it for a reason. You see, she is overweight, hates herself for every possible reason and is so lost.

…People say I am cute... I don't want to be cute, I want to be beautiful. I know, I have to be happy with me, but it is so hard when all I hear is "Beached Whale", or my parents saying are you sure you should be eating that?

…Like you, I grew up with a thin mother only she never diets and eats horribly. Much of my relationship with her is based on her approval of my weight and appearance and it still continues even though I am 31!

…You are helping more people than you know by having written this book. :-) I know you helped me.

…OMG! I read your book and with every word my heart began to sing, "Yes! There is hope!" I am an aspiring Broadway actress who at the moment has everyone convinced that I am dying to become a music teacher.

…Hi Sharon, it's strange, but I feel like I know you! I was walking through Barnes and Noble the other day and I noticed something that looked like a playbill on the table with all of the new books. I walked over and picked it up. As soon as I read the title, I knew it would be for me. I have not only been overweight for quite a while now, but I absolutely love Broadway more than life itself! I sat down, with my bag of pretzels of course, and started reading your story. After a box of tissues (tears from laughing and crying), a bag of pretzels, and three hours, I finished your book. I found it brilliant!

… I had never considered before how many similarities there are to growing up gay and growing up overweight.

…i will be 15 in october, and i am very much involved in musical theater. i have been overweight my entire life and have struggled with self esteem issues. i have gone through the same things you did in your book and it was almost funny reading it because it was so much like me.

… I have struggled (battled? been through hell and back?) with my weight since I hit puberty and found so many similarities with what I went through and what you went through that I was shaking my head in wonder and understanding just about every page of the way.

Thanks for reading all of these. I hope you had as much fun as I've had. There are many more letters I didn't quote, but I've read and answered everyone of them. Thanks to everyone who has written me, keep them coming!

I'll finish with the quote I get the most often, and always cracks me up when I read it.


Friday, February 09, 2007

I'm coming to Cincinnati!


If you are in the greater Cincinnati area, I'll be doing two events in February. Please support these two terrific events which greatly benefit high school students in the arts.

On Friday February 23rd, I'll be singing a benefit concert at The Cincinnati Art Museum for Ursuline Academy.

For tickets and information, please visit www.Ursulineacademy.org

(From their website)

Ursuline Academy Music Boosters present Starry Starry Night, a benefit evening of musical entertainment. This first annual event will be held Friday, February 23, 2007 at 8:00 pm at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Headlining this evening will be Ursuline Alumna and Broadway Singer/Actress Sharon Wheatley. Performances by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra members
and other Ursuline Academy Alumni will round out the concert.

On Saturday February 24th I'll be hosting The Overture Awards at The Aronoff Center.

For tickets and information, please visit www.cincinnatiarts.org

(From their website)

The Overture Awards is a scholarship competition and academy that recognizes, encourages and rewards excellence in the arts among Tri-State students in grades 9-12. Its mission is to encourage arts education as an integral part of a student’s academic experience and to create an environment that encourages training in, and appreciation of, the arts.The Overture Academy is open to all Tri-state students at no cost. Master classes and workshops are taught by professional artists. Students may also attend seminars on audition techniques, submitting work for writers and visual artists, college admission and choosing a career path.The Overture Awards Competition is the Tri-state’s largest solo arts competition for high school students and offers scholarships in six artistic disciplines: Creative Writing, Dance, Instrumental Music, Theater, Visual Art, and Vocal Music. Students may win a $2,500 scholarship (one awarded in each discipline) or a $500 finalist scholarship (total of 18 awarded). Judges at all levels of the competition are drawn from the professional arts community.

In addition, I'll be teaching masterclasses at Ursuline Academy (my high school), St. Xavier High School, and at University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music (my college).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2007 begins

Right now I am procrastinating. Well, procrastinating and also hiding. Please don't tell my husband Rob. He thinks I am going through boxes and organizing. In truth, the cat and I are hiding behind the boxes and I am writing this.

Currently, I am unemployed for a while and Rob is still on break from teaching at Pace University, and in our boredom, we tend to deal with things differently. I watch TV and talk on the phone and try not to constantly eat. Rob, on the other hand, goes into hyper speed. In fact, except for sleeping, I don't think he has sat down since we got out of the car at 6pm last night. I think it's called being PROACTIVE. And I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to do it too.

And now, I would like to list everything Rob and I have done in the 20 hours we have been home from Christmas break.

1. We drove 7 hours in the rain, got a perfect parking spot in front of our apartment and began to unpack our extremely-squished-full-of-presents car. I wanted to leave things down in the hall for a while and slowly carry them up the 5 flights of steps over the course of an hour. Yes, you read that right. 5 flights of steps. I though this was reasonable (who wants to have a heart attack on the first day of the new year?) and I didn't say what I really wanted to do, which was hire someone to carry everything up 5 flights of steps. In our unemployed state, I didn't think Rob would go for it. In fact, he didn't go for the "let's slowly carry things up" idea either. Nope--we huffed and puffed all of Santa's sleigh up the 92 steps. I kept yelling for Prancer and Dancer and Comet and Vixen to please come help, but I'm pretty sure they went to Jamaica.

2. We took down the Christmas tree. This was actually a necessity considering that there were only about 6 needles left on the tree and HUGE FIRE HAZARD was dancing like visions of sugar plums through my head. So, within a half an hour of unloading, Rob carried the item formerly known as our Christmas tree down the 5 flights of steps and out onto the street.

3. Rob set up his new website http://www.broadwaymp3.com/ where he will play an audition song onto an mp3 file for all us wanna be actors to download onto our ipods and learn for auditions. He even set up a pay pal account. While he was being wildly productive and opening his own business, I set up the playstation 2 and played we love katamari.

4. Rob took Charlotte to school at 8:15, and then he and I got back in the car and drove to Whole Foods in Ft. Lee, NJ where we stocked up on all of our New Years resolution foods. While we pushed the cart around the store, I mentioned something blah, blah, blah exercise, blah, blah, blah, we should do it....and as soon as we got back to our apartment (yes...and carried the $250 worth of groceries up, up, up the 5 flights of stairs) Rob goes and changes into sweat pants. "For what?" I asked. "To go exercise. Like you said." He replies. Did I say that????? Wasn't carrying up the groceries exercise? So, we go to the park and actually go RUNNING around the reservoir. He was totally exhilarated. I called my two closest friends to tell them this miracle had actually occurred and I'd even lived to call them.

5. After a quick and healthy lunch, Rob showers and decides it's time to tackle the reorganization of out life. Ugh. So, I pack up the Christmas decorations, and he starts on Charlotte's room, specifically her closet. Box after box comes out--the very boxes I am now hiding behind.

The cat has retreated to the couch where she is in a deep sleep, all curled up in a ball. As tempted as I am to join her, I guess I'll sign off for now and try to keep putting one foot in front of the other until somebody calls me with a job. That's the only way out of this.

Here's to a healthy, organized, employed 2007!

Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year
My weight was going up and up...

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine
I guess I'm about 3 or so? Nice tan!