Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Only in New York...

I saw South Pacific on Friday night.

I love South Pacific.

Now, give me any old Rodgers and Hammerstein show and I am a happy girl. (Except for Carousel...because I don't do well with shows about fathers dying.) I am a complete sucker for WWII stories as well, and I think South Pacific truly has some of the most BEAUTIFUL music ever written. It is a very hard show to screw-up for me for that reason...unless you get a gang of people who cannot sing at all, I will always enjoy that show because I will always enjoy that glorious, breathtaking music. I've seen schools perform, community theatre productions...and they are ALWAYS lovely.

Of course it's lovely.

It's South Pacific.

South Pacific has returned to Broadway in its first-ever revival.

And this time?

It's got Matthew Morrison and Kelli O'Hara.

Matthew and Kelli first took the stage together in The Light in the Piazza three years ago. (A show about a girl who had been kicked in the head by a Shetland pony as a child...and ends up with the mentality of a 10-year-old for the rest of her life because of it...and then she meets a handsome shopkeeper's son in Florence...and they fall in love and get married. Even though they barely know each other. Or speak the same language. And all his parents care about is the fact that he is 20 and she is 26. They don't care that the couple barely knows each other OR about the language barrier...just the age difference. It is the most ridiculous plotline ever.)

But, oh! The music.

And, oh! Matthew Morrison and Kelli O'Hara.

They're currently playing Cable and Nellie in South Pacific. They aren't an item, but they do have a bit of stage time together and are both perfectly wonderful. I am pretty sure they are two of the lovliest, most talented young performers taking the stage right now.

After I left Lincoln Center on Friday night, I hopped a cab (since I was alone and the show was really long and I needed to catch an 11:30 train...and it ended-up not even mattering, since the 11:30 train was cancelled, so I couldn't get one until 12:40. Lovely!)

As we drove downtown, who do I see around 55th Street whizzing by on a scooter but Lt. Joe Cable himself...Matthew Morrison.

I rolled-down the window, called out, "HEY, MATTHEW MORRISON!"

Matthew Morrison heard me.

Me: You are amazing! I love you! I just saw your show!

He nodded and waved and smiled.

I don't think he heard what I said.

He probably just thought, "Okay...crazy drunk girl in cab trying to pick me up." (and could 'ya BLAME me?)

But I wasn't...even though the thought did cross my mind to point out that, between the two of us, our children would have some GORGEOUS curly hair.

Diana Rissetto

Monday, April 21, 2008

My First Passover

I love being able to look back at when I met certain people who would eventually become important to me. You never know when somebody is going to dance into your life (and being a theatrical kinda girl, people really DO literally dance into my life.) Like my friend Cheyenne...who I met while he was a chorus boy in Thoroughly Modern Millie and was tapdancing his heart out. And like my friend Laura...who was a dance major in college.

When I first started my job with a certain major theatre company two years ago (the place that would eventually lay me off, something I am yet to really recover from...), I met a pretty girl from the south. She was sitting at the desk across from me.

When I took my first lunchbreak, I returned and said, "It is LOVELY out there!" A few hours later, that pretty Southern girl said, "I guess I am not used to your sense of humor yet...when you came in and said it was lovely out, I looked out the window and thought, 'It doesn't LOOK very lovely out! It looks rather gloomy!'"

(Well, get used to New York sarcasm!)

This is the same girl who commented, "I love writing out envelopes to the theatres Neil Simon...the Richard Rodgers...the August Wilson...I feel like I am writing love letters to all these men...and Richard Rodgers is my favorite, because I love imagining the type of things he came back to me!"

How could I not want to be great friends with somebody like that?

That day, a coworker also told Laura that she was a lot like Charlotte from Sex and the City...to which Laura replied, "A lot of people tell me that, and they say it before they even know about how I converted!!!"

Yes, Laura was in the process of converting to Judaism.

Sometimes you just click with somebody, and Laura and I clicked from day one. In fact, I called her hysterically crying from the street the day I got laid-off. (By the time my boss was done laying me off, my coworkers had all gone home.) I still have the, "Everything is going to be okay!!!" text message she sent me that night when I was wandering through Times Square, in the rain, lugging all the junk from my desk, singing "On My Own". (I had seen Les Miserables that night.)

Despite her pretty, dainty demeanor (complete with a pink sweater and a strand of pearls), Laura is one of the toughest people I know. She picked-up and moved away from South Carolina and her family to make it in the big city, all by herself. She began to nanny for a Jewish family, and eventually decided that she was going to convert to Judiasm.

I went to my first Passover Seder on Saturday, which was hosted by Laura. There were nine people around that table, all of whom were practicing Christians. (I was the sole Catholic. I was also the sole vegetarian, which automatically makes me a freak in many people's eyes...)

I think my only knowledge of Passover is what I have picked-up from watching The Ten Commandments on television every year. (I love that movie! I often say that I am very glad the Passover and Easter come but once a year, because if they came more frequently than that, I would probably do nothing but eat mini-Cadbury eggs and watch The Ten Commandments all year long.)

The Seder was long...over four hours...but I wasn't bored at all! I was completely captivated! Not in an "I would like to convert so I can really be a part of this" captivated, but in a "Wow! There is a lot out there that I don't know about, and I CAN be a part of it while not changing my beliefs."

This experience made me realize that I would love to learn more about other cultures and customs. I feel like I live in a slight bubble, my little Italian-American Roman Catholic world. A few months ago, my cousin's baby girl was baptised in a Greek Orthodox ceremony. I found that ceremony fascinating as well.

There are so many different kinds of peoples and beliefs and traditions out there!!! What a beautiful melting pot we live in, where we can believe and practice what we wish and share with one another.

I am so grateful to have friends and relatives of different backgrounds, reminding me that we're all the same when it comes to the things that really matters...and I am especially lucky to have my brave, converting, southern friend Laura!

Diana Rissetto

Monday, April 7, 2008


I have absolutely ALWAYS been one to roll my eyes when people talk about things like "3 week anniversaries."

(I knew a girl who burst into tears once because a certain song came on the radio and it reminded her that it would have been...key words: WOULD HAVE BEEN...her and her boyfriend's "a year and eight month anniversary." A year and eight months? Come ON!)

However, then there are other types of anniversaries...

Two weeks ago marked the 9th anniversary of my dad's death...and, oddly enough, this day is sadder and weirder each year.

I feel like it should be the other way around. It should be getting easier, but it's not.

And I realized that maybe it works both ways...

Although I think the concept of "a year and eight month anniversaries" is ridiculous, I think something like a 50th Anniversary is quite major. The first anniversary without somebody...the pain is still pretty fresh...but as the years pass, the pain starts to faid, and by the time you get to the 9th anniversary, you're not thinking and crying about that person all the time anymore. You have truly started to heal...and while you DO want to heal, you also start to feel a lot of guilt that you HAVE healed.

With every year that comes and goes, my dad becomes less a part of my life and more of a memory, which makes that one day...April 6th...the one day out of the year I can really just feel sad about his death again, just as I did nine years ago.

Last week, I learned that a friend of mine...somebody I really don't know too well, I only met her in the fall when we worked on a show together...lost her dad suddenly to a heart attack.

I called her when I heard the news, and immediately, my voice began to break and I started to cry at my desk at work.

Oddly enough, I also started to cry when I was driving a couple of weeks ago and heard on the radio that Elliot Yamin's mother passed away.

Losing a parent...when you are young and THEY are young...is one of the worst things in the world...and it also makes you feel immediately connected to somebody when you've learned they have been through the same thing...

Thoughts and friendship to EVERYBODY who has had the same familiar feelings, on the first anniversary and the fiftieth.

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, April 6, 2008

And then, suddenly, nine years have gone by...

Within the darkened skies above I see a sign
Within the distant clouds I see a friend of mine
And then as the shadows disappear
He smiles at me
And I know
He's watching

He lives within the heaven
And he lives within my mind
All I can feel is the love he left behind
Then he will whisper in my ear
He tells me, I should know he's watching

And now I'm grown
I'm strengthened by the tears I've never shown
I'm strengthened by the years I've never known
Once afraid of facing them alone
And every day I always have some place to go
I've travelled very far from the life I used to know
But still when I close my eyes and dream
I feel him near and I know
He's watching

-Peter Cincotti-

Diana Rissetto

Friday, April 4, 2008

I bought my first issue of The Advocate...

Actually, I bought three copies of the same issue.

Because one of my very very favorite guys is on the cover!

Literally coming-out of a closet!

Cheyenne Jackson!

I am tremendously proud of the guy whose praises I have been singing for the past five years.

I have always said that his talent, personality and heart outweigh his physical beauty by FAR...which, as most would agree, is saying a lot!


Diana Rissetto

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Turning 26

I feel old!

I turned 26 last week.

The other night, I woke up around 3 AM and suddenly started saying to myself, "26. 26. I am 26. That sounds old. 26 is no longer a child. 26 is no longer a girl. I am no longer a kid. I am 26. There are no excuses anymore. I am 26. 26. 26. 26. Oh my gosh. I am 26."

Why does 26 sound so much older than 25? It truly does. I have heard that there are two depressing, overwelming birthdays when you are in your twenties. The first is 22, because, as many see it, it's all downhill from there. You have nothing else to look forward to. And the other is 26...because you are, as my brother-in-law keeps reminding me, now a "Rounder-Upper." (Forget that he is six years older than I am and ALWAYS will be...)

Twenty-six. Twenty-six. Twenty-six.



I am now old enough to say, "I remember, twenty years ago..."

I have the pleasure of working with a bunch of college students right now as we prepare to produce a show I cowrote, MARGOT FRANK: THE DIARY OF THE OTHER YOUNG GIRL.

Over the past few years, being around young kids has made me feel old. The kids I work with at church refer to Titanic as a movie they have "heard of" and that their "moms love!" They don't remember the Titanic craze. They don't remember Leo and Kate's beautiful, shining faces being absolutely EVERYWHERE that entire year. But, I do. Because I am a lot older than them.

My cousin's little boy showed me his WebKinz recently. I commented, "Ah, yes...they're like Beanie Babies!" Dylan looked-up at me and said, "What's a Beanie Baby?" Children today have never heard of Beanie Babies!

And, of course, last summer somebody asked me if I was planning on seeing Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal return to Rent. I responded with, "I might go with my little cousins, they want to see it."

My little cousins, the ones I remember holding when they were babies...are now old enough to see Rent.

My gosh.

And, I learned last week that I am now so old that college kids seem like little kids.

One of our young actors wished me a happy birthday, and asked me how old I was.

I told him, "I am OLD."

He shot back, completely serious. "So am I! On my last birthday, I stopped being a teenager!"

Ah, youth.

It's not so much I am depressed about the passing years...I'm just scared that it's going by so quickly.

It is easy to look around and feel like I have fallen far behind.

I am not married, I don't have kids...(that is something that many use to measure success, for some reason. I don't. I'll get married and have kids when I find somebody I want to marry and we decide we're ready to get married and have kids...) I don't own a house, like some other people my age do. I mean, I can't even afford to move out of the family house. And if I did, I wouldn't even be able to support a beta fish, let alone children. I don't make much money.

I still don't know what I want to do. I have had three jobs since graduation, and I was laid-off from both of them. I also make less money which each job. Is this a continuing trend?

Our show is going into production next week, and I have nightmares about it every night. (The most common is that there is absolutely NO audio going on. None. In one version, some random guy in a suit turned to me and said, "Can you f-ing BELIEVE this show?")

I still get carded for Rated R movies. I could probably crash a junior prom and look younger than most of the students. I own some clothes from Limited 2 and think that there are some 12 year-olds-who are WAY trendier than I am.

And yet I am 26.

I am an adult.

And, while it is not depressing, I find it absolutely horrifying and terrifying.

At the same time, I am absolutely grateful and thrilled for every passing day. My cousin was given months to live when he was around 30-years-old. Four years later, he is still with us, and still fighting. When I thin about him, and how he just wants more and more birthdays...it makes getting depressed over mine seem like the most ridiculous idea in the world.

Bring on 26.

I am ready.

Diana Rissetto