Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guess Who's Back?

I won't even begin to address my absence. Call it old age. Call it a lack of interest. Call it life getting in the way... All I can say is I'm back and I wanna talk about it. I finished my nearly 3 year run of Mamma Mia almost 2 weeks ago now, and I'm only just beginning to come out of the fog of those lost years! Not that I don't appreciate all the time I spent with the show, but there's a lot of baggage that goes along with it and it's time to start pulling the laundry out of the closet. I'm gonna try and go back and re-live at least some of the experience and catch you up on the past 2 1/2 years that I DIDN'T write about, so bear with me. It's not gonna happen overnight, or even over a few weeks, but I'm gonna try. I'll start by saying - it was a helluva ride! For an actor, ANY actor, to spend almost 3 years in a single show is an absolute blessing - and absolutelyanathema to his or her creativity. Not to say that one can't be creative in what they're doing, but the juices run dry after a while, and I'm quite sure mine did. There's lots more to say about all this and I'll expound on it over the next few weeks and months, but I just wanted to drop a note say "thanks for sticking in there" and "I'm back", whether you like it or not! ;)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After...

Crazy night on Broadway!
First, Beth continued her absence from the show with a bad case of bronchitis. Corrine is her understudy and Boy, does that woman have pipes! She sang the hell out of the show - very impressive. Both shows, in fact.
Then, in the middle of the first show, David (Harry) blew out his calf muscle and pulled up lame like a race horse coming down the stretch! It's a wonder he finished the show, limping as he was and grimacing to the end. But he's a trouper and he follows the old but true adage, "The show must go on".
Unfortunately the weather didn't help, as the unusually mild and humid evening outside made for a warm evening in the theater. We were all sweating onstage! Under the lights is hard enough, but with the extra heat - nearly unbearable.
Two more shows tomorrow - busy holiday weekend!

Christmas Show

Strange Night. Everyone very excited about getting back from the day off, excited about doing a Christmas show. General love and good cheer all around. But halfway through the first act, Beth lost her voice - literally. Barely made it through Voulez Vous. So her understudy Corrinne Melacon went on for the second act. And WOW can that woman sing. It's such a treat to see one of the understudies get the chance to go on and show their stuff. Believe me people, it's a fine line between the "stars" and the "ensemble" - these people are all talented as HELL! She'll be on for both shows tomorrow, too.
Get well, Beth!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas 2009

I wouldn't even know where to begin to explain my absence from blogging. So I won't. What an amazing journey it's been, especially over the last month. Certainly little time to write, and even less time to explain why. Door decorating contests (Amina Robinson and Halle Morse the winners!), Secret Santa (I had Holly Hanson, an electrician and Halle had me) and today, our final show before Christmas. It's been phenominal, and I'm looking forward to the one day break.
Back to work on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas, all.

Please enjoy the Mamma Mia 2009 Holiday video!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

When Two Worlds Collide

I'm a bit of an open book. I can't hide too many things in my life - especially Christmas presents from my kids, but that's a different story. I have certain areas in my life that I try to keep separate from others. Not out of deceit or purpose, it's just easier that way. Less to explain. For example, I don't want to have to explain to parents at my kids schools what it is that I do for a living. Not trying to be coy or elusive, just keeping it simple. I don't go into detail at work (a bastion of liberal thinking!) that I'm Catholic and go to church (nearly) every week and send my kids to Catholic schools. Way too much explaining to do.
So imagine my terror when my hockey buddies, a group not known for it's finesse or theatrical savvy, found out what I do and where I do it:
"Mamma Mia? Dude, that's awesome! We gotta come see it so we can make fun of you."
Hockey is a world of its own; a brethren, a fraternity with it's own language - "Bert, throw it to the middle next time and stop playing like you read it in a book!" - and a level of communication that is both brutally competitive (and utterly impossible to repeat here) and darkly loving. We talk in a coarse and rough way; it's rude and inconsiderate and downright mean - and we love it. We call each other every name in the book, degrading each others sexual preference, be it for person or animal, and ridicule job and life choices (Though spouses and children are generally off limits; girlfriends, not so much.)
Theater, of course, is my life's devotion. The nuance, the commitment, the disappointments. There is so much that goes into the life of an actor, and so much acceptance and tolerance that is expected and welcome. It's how we, as artists, grow. We love the unexpected, the different, the inappropriate. It brings freshness to a performance and is the life blood of creativity - and seems, in so many ways, the exact opposite of the hockey culture.
Friday night saw the terrifying collision of these two seeming disparate worlds as the first of my many hockey buddies (this time it was Scotty and his girlfriend Linda) came to the theater and experienced, firsthand, their own "Minut" and "OC" (my aforementioned nicknames) singing and dancing to Swedish Pop songs! The terror was all mine, I'm sure, as I know they only expected a fun night out at the theater, while I, on the other hand, had very different expectations.
I can stand in front of 1500 people on a nightly basis, sometimes with family or industry people in the audience, and perform unfazed. But cross my hockey world with my theater life? I literally broke out in a cold sweat:
"Oh man, I can' believe Scotty is out there?!"
I found myself nervous and preoccupied. I laughed at my folly, that I would be more disturbed that a hockey player was in the audience than a casting director or producer. Or my mother! Ahh, the power of the hockey brethren!
In the end, Scotty & Linda had a wonderful time, topped off by pictures in the back of the theater with us 3 "spandex clad" dads.(Yes, we're STILL fundraising for BC/EFA.) Now I've got some blackmail material if Scotty starts to give me a hard time!

In general, the show is going very well these days. I find myself very interested in audience size and response, as so much of our performance seems based on this. But it's an intriguing equation to contemplate. This past Wednesday proved to be the smallest house (audience) the show has had in 8 years! Dreadful, and tough to get the energy up for and to play to. Then Wednesday night? SRO! Great house, lots of energy!
You never can tell. But the show continues to be a blast to perform.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Sorry, sorry, sorry! I realize it's been nearly two weeks since my last post. The excuses abound, not the least of which is I had my PDA (phone) in for repair, and that's where I do most of my writing (I'm doing it now, in fact) and my desktop seemed to tank at the same time (hence the need to purchase a new HP 750GB hard drive, 8GB ram, Intel Core2Quad processor, for you computer geeks). But luckily I'm back in the running.

*Thank you to all concerned about my voice after my last post. It was tenuous and a bit frightening, but I did make it through the show. I actually seemed to get stronger as the show went on, but I was very nervous that it wouldn't last.

*There are many things to catch up on, and I can't remember half of them, but I will say the most recent and thrilling was the opportunity to share my MM! good fortune with my family this past weekend as my Mom, brother John and sister in law Sue, her friend Val and my brother's daughter (my niece) Erica came to the show over the weekend, all the way form Michigan! They actually had a busier two days than I did, shopping at Bergdorf's, seeing BILLY ELLIOT and MM!, dining out, taking taxis - I'm exhausted just thinking about it! But it was a treat to see them and share the joy of "the Mia", topped off by dinner at Joe Allen Restaurant, the perennial theatrical fave. Thanks for coming, guys, it was a treat!

*Also of note last week was my first "personal day". I'm allowed to take 2 days off a year for purely personal reasons (not sickness or vacation, just a day off). Now I'm not the kind of guy who takes days off easily. A few years ago I was doing a Broadway (lite) show called TWENTIETH CENTURY with Alec Baldwin (great guy) and Anne Heche (can you say CRAZY?) at the Roundabout Theater. I was sick as a dog one day, terrible flu, but you can bet I dragged my ass to the theater and got up on that stage. The show must go on, eh?

In any event, I had never planned to take a personal day even when I learned, in early September, that my daughter's Theatrical High School debut would conflict with my performance. She would just have to suffer without me, I thought. Well, last Friday morning (after a Thursday night of prodding by my fellow MM! cast members - Allison: "Are you crazy?", John: "You have to go!", Beth: "It's like suffering through root canal, but you gotta do it!"), I awoke with a start and realised, as her debut was that night, that I couldn't miss it! It was not out of guilt or obligation but the sheer joy of seeing my beautiful daughter, who had worked so hard over the last few months (between school and all her extra-curricular activities) - that I knew I HAD to attend! So I called my extremely understanding and gracious stage manager (Andy) and company manager (Tony) and explained the situation, and with their blessings I was off.
HUMBUG HIGH (A modern adaptation of Charles Dickens A CHRISTMAS CAROL) was a huge hit (not, in fact, root canal at all!) and the star (in my eyes) was the illustrious performance of "Madge the Dead Lunch Lady" inhibited with verve and comic gusto by my daughter Brigid. Bravo!

I promise to try the daily posting this week. There's always a lot going on, so it's easier to keep up by doing it daily rather than playing catch-up.


Monday, November 2, 2009

This Is A Test. This Is Only A Test.

Okay, I'm a little terrified today:

Yesterday, a Sunday back from a great Halloween off. Two great shows, a nice run through Central Park (and battling the aftermath of the NYC Marathon) and a birthday celebration (Beth Leavel's) in between and all was well. I finished the second show. Went to my dressing room to change and I suddenly sneezed. Twice. No big deal, I thought. I finished getting dressed, left the theater and headed down Broadway to my destination - home. It was two blocks away that I realized I left my wallet in my dressing room. I walked back and Mike, our doorman, let me in. I tried to say hello - but nothing came out! I got my wallet, headed back out and walked for a few blocks, talking to myself, trying my voice - nothing! I stopped at Starbucks, thinking a warm Venti Hot Chocolate might sooth the chords - I couldn't even order! I had to whisper in the barista's ear, "Venti hot chocolate with skim milk and whip cream." I think he thought I was making a pass at him. But I was terrified. I've never had this happen. Not a sound came out. What do I do?
Went home, took a hot shower, tried to rest my voice the rest of the night and all day today. My poor wife is having a rather invasive (read:colonoscopy) medical procedure today and I wanted to be there for her. Now I can only support her in a non-verbal way. It's 12noon now, I can feel it getting better, I only hope I can find my upper vocal register before 8:00pm tonight!

Quick story under the category of "New Yorkers - you think you know everything":
I'm running up Central Park West, against traffic and amidst all the Marathon finishers. Thousands of people are out and milling. It's hard to run, but I'm making my way. Suddenly, a man on a bike, pulling up next to me and also riding against traffic, points to my left with the directive "Dude, sidewalk." Not wanting to start an argument, nor giving in to his admonishment, I simply comment, "Yes, it's there."
His response? "You should be on it."
I found the irony of the situation to hard to leave alone and what came next, if I do say so myself, is what separates free thinkers from the rest of the world.
"I'm sorry", I said in a somewhat fake Hispanic/Italian/foreign accent, "I don't speak English. But I know an asshole when I met one!" And off I went.
I'm sure it's not the first time that line has ever been used, but I found the absurdity of the situation just too outside the norm NOT to respond.
New Yorkers - you think you know everything!

Wish me luck tonight!