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"You sound like you do a lot of theatre," a manager recently remarked during an interview with comic actor Kirsten Vangsness, currently making her third appearance in Theatre of N.O.T.E.'s holiday tradition, A Mulholland Christmas Carol. The manager continued, "I really dissuade my actors from doing that, because the auditions just dry up when you do theatre." Vangsness was stunned.

"I think we're the first vibrations of all the important things that get done," she asserts. In the past year she has appeared in three productions at N.O.T.E., an iconoclastic company of which she has been an active member for four years. Vangsness celebrates it as a group that's "good at getting naked and being histrionic and smoldering." And she hasn't suffered from a dearth of auditions, either. She already had one dream come true when she got to work with My Left Foot director Jim Sheridan earlier this year in, OK, a Borders commercial. "But it's gonna be really cool," Vangsness promises.

She also had a lovely time at LAX (the cancelled TV show, not the structure) where she had the ideal audition. "I didn't care," she explains. "I was going to do my work, and I was going to do it as well as I could, and I was going to leave, and if they like me, great, and if I got it, great, and if I didn't, great. And I got it." Her two-line part expanded when they told her to make stuff up to cover another character's long cross and, after that, "They just kept calling me in. I worked enough to pay my rent and to make health insurance, which is fantastic."

But now it's time to embrace the season and reflect. "Do you know what I like to do?" Vangsness muses. "At the end of every year I write down all the things I did for myself as an actor, and that's my present to myself. Most of it's stuff that I didn't get paid a lick for, but it meant something. If the list isn't big enough, then I just give myself a bigger present next year." Then, to complete the lovely ritual as only a Theatre of N.O.T.E. actor can, Vangsness concludes, "I look at it, I smile, I say, 'I deserve a cookie, and I get to masturbate.'" Happy holidays.

Wenzel Jones

"A Mulholland Christmas Carol," presented by and at Theatre of NOTE. 1517 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. (Dec. 5 & 12 only.) Nov. 26-Dec. 19. $15. (323) 856-8611.

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