Adventures of a Drama Teacher

{December 18, 2016}   I am because we are.

Cathy and me sometime in the 90s?

I guess I best procure some new skis if I am to succumb to the Pacific Northwest which I traded for the snowbird life style of the South West.


Relaxing in AZ


I guess I can go back there to “vacay” as the high school kids would call it, but not this Christmas as oo7 is on ships this year, and right now he’s finishing off his secret mission to Fiji. So alas we are in the beautiful Pacific North West under what my BFF Cathy Kennedy has been calling “Snowmagedden”. In the last two weeks we missed a total of six days of school. In the 13 years I was in Mesa, we never missed a day because of weather. It is kind of nice though, as I get the projects done around the house like dance vacuuming etc. You all know how I love to dance clean? Listening to my loyal KGON (since high school days man, this be the station I dig while in the PDX realm) so I go with the flow. Which is another gift from God, it takes me so many places, especially a lot of the British Invasion, and The Who. So I have to stop and think of how lucky I am to be alive and to have the choices I have in life. I am ever so excited to be directing, again, Our Town, and stage managing Shambala, and all the fun and exciting activities I have planned for the new year. But over Christmas break I have Gregg in town, Becky’s party, Rob’s party and my birthday photo shoot, and hopefully at least one day ski, that is my yearly goal, so it may happen over this holiday break. It will be a goal if I get chains for my car today, as it is after all Sunday, and technically a day of rest. I did do sit ups though, God, and there’s dog do in the yard, is that work? Yes, that is, that is work. But sometimes OCD just sets in. Let’s just see if Gregg can cajole me out of the house.


{December 11, 2016}   Snow Day 4

Snow day 4

My Whobabe talks to me every day with our drink 10 gulps of water every time you take a drink of water and maximize your life because it might be gone before you think, oh and take no bull$%^&. That was Erica #whobabe my model, dancer, actress, fitness instructor, LA roommate, fellow Disney partner in crime, movie fan, Lost Boys fan, Beatles fan, fellow dessert fiend, West Side Story fellow Anita, hitch a ride to Honolulu, Cher impersonating friend

.tomi erica.png

Every time The Who comes on the radio there’s a lesson in there and she speaks. My mom speaks too, with Erica in Beatles songs. It’s awesome. I got to go backstage with Erica at the 2000 Hollywood Bowl Tour and we had up front center seats.


At the time she was married to Alan Childs

who was a drummer for The Who periodically, she went on their Tommy Broadway Musical Tour, (that’s why she liked me, because my name is Tomi).

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I am not fat here, I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with Morrison.

It was wonderful to watch Erica live her dream. She became friends with The Who. Roger called her at her living celebration of life. I had to miss it as I was moving up to Oregon and I had just passed through her California town up and back from Oregon/Alaska to Arizona. We watched Across the Universe (Beatles Juke Box musical) with my niece Sarah on the way up, and one of our favorites, my favorite as you know, Jesus Christ Superstar,  on the way back down. Then when I got the job, Mo and I had to bee-line it for Oregon, and she passed soon after that. I am glad that we had gotten the Disney time and the movie nostalgia visits. She even made me take her/sneak her out for onion rings on that last trip, my stubborn friend. It was hard to say goodbye. She had chatted with me, well, texted, she couldn’t really talk anymore, about Oregon’s assisted suicide laws that summer when I was up in Alaska. I looked them up, she was far too gone to move to Oregon and get approved for that.

Day 4 SNOW DAY, cabin fever sets in. I had to finally go out as I was totally out of Diet Coke. I braved the treacherous streets for the caramel colored liquid toxin. Now that’s an addiction, Erica did not go for unhealthy things. Oh except when we splurged on desserts. She never gained weight, just a bundle of excitement she was.

It’s time to feature a few more students:

Brittney Peters- My Little Red in Into the Woods, has booked and performed in the new Frankenstein off Broadway musical. She took the Best solo Musical Award at the Arizona Thespian Festival the year I took her.

Grace Baldridge is a comedienne in LA, she was one of my students in Belgium. Super talented singer, actress, and comedian.

Allison Campell- My Belle in Beauty and the Beast. LA based actress/singer.

Jacob Paap-USMC, ARMY This kid! Married another student Katy they have two gorgeous little boys. I based a character-the lead in Buying My Way into Heaven on him.


Billy and Ashley Nichols. Teachers Science and English but still heavily involved in medieval sword fight reenactments. These are the kids that cajoled me home from Europe. They met in my 7th grade performing arts class and are married several years now. Billy’s mom, is one of my BFFs.

So as you can see, theatre leads to adventure, thinking outside the box.

I’ll end this entry with more tribute to my Whobabe, who I plan on writing a musical for. So every time I listen to the The Who, Beatles, Queen, god so much music reminds me of her. Our song was “I got my mind set on you” George Harrison. We would blast it in the discotheque of the 80s aerobics room at Hollywood Holiday Health Spa where we met. We would dance like maniacs across the floor. But that’s a story for another day. Gotta get this posted, and with pictures it can be tricky. I love you all!!!!


{December 9, 2016}   Snow Day 2

I got the Carharts and only wore them once to school in Mesa,


then they ended up staying in Alaska, I wear them when I summering up north in the last frontier. They were scratchy and too short for my long legs.



It’s been over two years since I’ve written in Adventures of a Drama Teacher, or on any specific personal project at all, so much has happened.


First of all, not long after my last entry my mother passed away (breast cancer), it is an emotional recall that I don’t want to recall. She was 72.


A year after that one of my BFFs Whobabe also passed of a horrible disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy. She was 48. My BFF Gregg, Mo and I took her to Disneyland as a dying wish. These events put a new perspective on life for me.



So let’s skip the two years of dark writing hiatus and get to where we are today.

My dream position in my hometown in Oregon, my high school alma mater,  finally opened up and I got the job.


I prayed so hard on the decision to leave Red Mountain, Mesa and Arizona. It was bitter sweet, one year after my mom died. But this area has my family and friends as well as 007s. Morrison will and is finally getting to know his extended family; he graduated from high school (a year early) and now is attending Mt. Hood Community College. He’s tall and handsome and still ever so opinionated but keeps totally to himself most of the time. I don’t care if he’s opinionated as long as he talks to me. He’s highly intelligent but different in the Asperger’s Syndrome sense. Hopefully someday he’ll like hanging out with his ole’ ma, like I liked hanging out with mine. He did turn me onto a new favorite band Theory of a Deadman, and I got to meet them. It was surreal, I felt like a fangirl. I want to write a play for their music (I’ve written a sketchy outline). They’re now up there with Sammy Hagar and Donny Osmond.


My new school which is my old school, which now is a brand new school is really high tech and beautiful. My facilities are like The Mesa Arts Center.


I just put on an elaborate production of Annie which was very well attended and received in this quaint mountain community.


I did The Tempest last year among three productions, which my friend Gregg, who is the production designer to the stars in LA, designed and built my set.


I got friends in low places.

Speaking of friends, let me brag about some of my ex-students:


Taylor Sackson with her band Vintage Wednesday opened for Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding last Saturday. We connected over our mutual love  (my mom’s too) of Fleetwood Mac, I taught her for four years and she was many a lead in a musical (and straight play for that matter), including my Lydia/Lola in  The Road to Shambala and originated Olive in my Donny Osmond musical Sweet & Innocent. I based the character of Marin in Buying My Way into Heaven, my Sammy Hagar piece, on Taylor Sackson.

Casey Ellings is booking away in LA! I have never had such a hard working student and actress, she was on my writing team for Shambala. One of the sweetest people I know.

Castille Ritter is a costume designer for Michael Jackson’s One Cirque du Soleil in Vegas, she designed the costumes for Shambala.

Morgan Evans writer/director/ actor for several late night talk show hosts, Host of Teen Wolf after show on MTV, has his own show on MTV with his side kick since my 7th grade performing arts class Tim Mahoney. I am so glad I made them write silly stories.

These are but a few of my students that are on the brink of stardom, I also have many, many students that have gone on to be successful in copius other occupations in which theatre played an important role. I will feature them in future entries as I have been writing two and a half years worth of catch up today.

I have some wonderful and talented students here in Oregon too. One young lady who happens to be the niece of one of the first classmates to befriend me my freshman year in high school, Trinity Rodrigues,  the niece of Becky Rodrigues, is a talented costume designer like Castille and she also acts, writes, directs, lights, set, you name it. She wants to be a theatre teacher. She is going to direct a Shambala workshop so we’ll see what comes out of that, it will be our spring show, we’re going to film it, because I got me some brilliant film students too.  Another talented and gifted student, Riley-Boy, will hopefully take on assistant directing Our Town with me this winter.

That brings us to today, snow day see my new/old home town is at the foot of Mt. Hood. I can finally get caught up on things, rest mostly on my beautiful purple captain’s bed with my dog warming my feet, Annie as wonderful as it was, done tuckered me out. But now I am looking forward to the Christmas Holidays, my annual birthday photo shoot. (Hey I didn’t do one last year) and maybe doing Our Town again. OO7 is off saving the day as he does, trying to wrangle a deal in Fiji. TTFN Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!! I love you all!!!

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et cetera