Saturday, May 11, 2013

Remembering Margot Frank

Shane Delavan, Sarah Grover, Gina Eslinger, Alisa Schmidt
This is one of my favorite pictures snapped at "Diary of Anne Frank." My family: My (stage) dad, Otto Frank, Anne, myself, and my (stage) mom Edith Frank. Love the yellow stars against the black and white.

Missing this show, and the family I bonded with over rehearsals and six moving shows. We closed about a month ago but it feels like just yesterday sometimes.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Little Blinking Red Light

My grandmother Kay and I a couple years ago on Christmas night.

"You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times, and at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you. But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry, is how long must I wait to be with you. I close my eyes and I see your face. If home's where my heart is, then I'm out of place." ("Homesick", MercyMe)

The most wonderful, sweet, witty, fun and giving woman passed from our world to paradise just a few weeks ago. My grandmother Kay Lano, loved by all who met her, left us for a better place and with broken hearts. I know, as the song goes, that she is in a better place and for that I am joyful. But the cold fact of her being gone causes pain and sadness to my large Italian family, of whom she was the matriarch. It's like the sun going behind a cloud on a sunny day-- you just want it to come back.

When I think about her life, I see nothing undone, nothing unsaid, no regrets. She was the first one to say that did everything she ever wanted to. She traveled, had a large family, and built her dream home with her husband. She loved with abandon. She made you feel gorgeous, loved, valuable, smart. She was sunshine incarnate, complete with kisses and hugs to spare.

It's taken me this long to really write about her passing. In so very many ways I don't want to accept it. I have been dreading her physical death for as long as I can remember, that's how beloved she is to me. She was the kind of person you wanted around forever because she made everything-- EVERYTHING-- better.

Sarah Grover as Anne, me as Margot Frank in PVP's "Diary of Anne Frank"

Growing up in California, I always saw her out in the audience during my ballet performances. The little blinking red light from the camcorder was always there, and later I would hear the comments from her and my Gramps: "There she is Anthony! No... Over there! On the left!" Then my Gramps would say, "Oh, there she is... I see her... Look at her! So cute!" She was, as my Gramps was, the kind of person to talk about you in wonderful ways behind your back. So grateful for the video footage-- not because I am in it, but that their voices are caught up in it. They were always loving to me even when I was far away onstage. I had to open "Diary of Anne Frank," playing Margot, the day after Grams died. Not sure how I held it together and remembered my lines. People said to me, "She is with you, watching in the audience." I had to think about that for a minute. Was she really? Then I realized that she, as wonderfully stubborn as she was about supporting her family in everything we did, would never let something as paltry as death stop her from supporting me in something as important as this. Then I knew Grams was in the front row watching and loving me with all she had.

Peter Strand and I rehearsing the "Moonlight Serenade" pas de deux in Ballet Ariel's "The Birth of Rock and Roll" (April/May 2013)
I wish I had the chance to tell her about the ballet I just performed. My favorite part of the ballet was the duet to "Moonlight Serenade" I was privileged to dance with Peter Strand, my regular dance partner at Ballet Ariel. It was set in the 30's/40's and was about a musician and chorus girl who fall in love in a dance hall to the romantic sounds of Glenn Miller big band. She and Gramps met at the Manhattan Dance Center during the forties, danced together that very same night, and were married about a year later. My inspiration for my character was her, but I doubt that I portrayed her amazing personality to as accurately as my heart yearned to. I wanted to do her sunshine justice, and being her grandaughter, I was probably able to emit at least a bit of it. If you ever knew Kay Lano, however, I think you'd agree that she is the only one that could truly shine her own brand of delightful happy joy and wittiness.

Opening performance in Denver for this show, I thought I spotted an older red headed woman in the audience that looked almost exactly like Grams. I wasn't surprised.

I refuse to say goodbye. Grams, be with me always as I dance and perform and live. You will be my inspiration and audience in whatever I do in the future. I'll be looking for the blinking red light and dancing for you, and I'll see you when I someday pass over to paradise.

Rehearsing for "Carmen" with Ballet Ariel in Denver