Broadside playbill for A Full Wolf Moon Sound Ceremony. Under text, a photo of three female-identifying people in black-and-white photos with a blue filter. Text on screen. Howling Into The Unknown. Susannah Mars. Jessica Wallenfels. Julia Francis. Jan 25 2024. At the Old Church. 1422 SW 11th Avenue. Portland, OR.

Amblin’ into a new year, as one

“Practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence. Share it with yourself, with your family, with the world.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

In gathering my thoughts for the new year, I tried to find a quote that summed up a feeling I’d had for months. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I’ll be annoyed or buoyed by the same things. In other words, wherever I am, or whatever I’m doing, I’m wading through my talents, neurosis and obstacles. It makes everything more interesting; there are constant opportunities to grow in front of me. Something that continues to appear on my journey is my ability, or lack thereof, to connect my voice and emotions. There are moments when I’m quite expert at it, thank heaven since I’m an actress. I know that my vocal apparatus is changing as I age, and I’d thought about this for years. When I was young, growing up with an extremely strong father and a sometimes absent mother, my voice wasn’t nurtured to be heard. So, this career that I fell into and ultimately chose has been a perfect vehicle for this observation and learning.

Howling into the unknown

This month, that journey takes me into a project with Jessica Wallenfells, Stephanie Lynne Smith, Julia Francis and Hannah Hildebrand. Hannah and I recently reconnected at The Grief House. Stephanie and I have been working a lot together of late, and Jessica and I worked at Portland Playhouse on the musical Scarlet. We’re always abuzz with ideas when we’re together. Jessica’s ability to balance expert skill, joy and improvisational creativity is exhilarating. She invited me to participate in this event, Howling into the Unknown: A Full Wolf Moon Sound Ceremony. I said yes immediately; working with these collaborators, especially the remarkable Julia Francis, with whom I’ve never worked, was enticing.

What is a wolf moon?

The wolf moon is the name of the year’s first full moon. A full moon occurs when the moon appears as a fully lighted circle in the sky, with its complete surface visible from Earth. This happens when the moon is directly opposite the sun, with the Earth in between, causing the moon to reflect the sun’s light back to you. The full moon usually happens every 29.5 days and is a significant event in astrology and spirituality. The full moon in January is commonly referred to as the wolf moon. The name is believed to have originated from numerous civilizations, where wolves would howl during the winter months when they were active. The full moon in January was seen as a time when wolves were most vocal, hence the name “wolf moon.”

Singing through the snow

I’m slated to sing several songs, two of which appear on Judy Collins’ album Judith, which I adored growing up, “The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress” and “Angel Spread Your Wings.” The trouble is each time I try to sing them, and one other song, “Anytime” by William Finn, I cry. Chances are you haven’t cried and sung at the same time. I think it’s impossible. The last time I sang and cried in public … well, the last time I recall that I couldn’t sing while crying was at Ted Rosium’s funeral. He played my father in Portland Center Stage’s 2001 production of Gypsy. I tried to sing “I’ll be Seeing You,” but I’m unsure how many notes I could share. There are so many reasons to howl this January. Our family lost one of our best friends right before Christmas. And the world’s woes are too many to name.

Join us on January 25, where we’ll open the channels for laughter and tears together and howl at the moon in the hope of peace and compassion outweighing the hurts.

And now for something completely different

My emotions and voice are lining up in my voiceover booth. Working with The Voicecaster this year, several times, I’ve had some terrific feedback. While I can’t mention the spot, this is the feedback: “You did great making it feel natural.” “These are great reads!!” “I love the personality you brought to this.” Check out The Voicecaster’s offerings this year. It’s a great learning place that I trust.

My journey into conveying emotion over the mic continues onward (and thank you, Voicecaster!)