DONNABLOG #39 AMAZING NEWS

Okay, y’all here it is.  I’m going to keep it short and sweet.  Some of you may already know this as it was announced in the papers in Toronto on Nov. 2.  But here it is.  The sad news is I’ll be leaving Priscilla but not until January.  And the even sadder news is that I’ll be leaving New York but only for a while.   What am I doing, you ask?  I’ll be playing Coalhouse Walker Jr. in the musical Ragtime at the Shaw Festival next season.  We go into rehearsals on Feb. 13 , preview Apr. 10 and run until Oct. 14.  I couldn’t be happier.  More details to come but that is the big news I’ve had to keep to myself for awhile.

You can keep connected to the Festival and it’s goings on at their website.

www.shawfest.com

Published in: on November 12, 2011 at 12:02 am  Comments (2)  

DONNABLOG #38

It is such a nebulous thing when one is trying to discover a personal path.  hmmm what do I mean by that?  I’m reminded of the adage, “find out how to get paid doing what you love to do and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”  I find myself at a/that point in my life where I’m really trying to listen.  Listen to my instinct, listen to my heart, listen for the signs, listen to the “call”.  The call of “what must be” from inside myself or from the universe.   I have had an incredible career.  I don’t even know if I dreamed I’d do some of the things I’ve been privileged enough to do. But I also know that I look at my career and something has felt . . . . . sideways.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  Sideways = just to the side of, always veering off of the “real” path.  I do know I want to do concert and cabaret work.  But wait, this isn’t really what this blog is about . . . it’s about the finding that real path for anyone.

We start out being so sure of what we think we want and then one of several things happens.  Either you stay on that path no matter what and if it’s not the right one, you simply die a little inside everyday until you wind up an alcoholic or an abuser; or you realize you’re not on the right path and you find little hobbies to make you feel alive for a few minutes a day or a week – whatever keeps you from daydreaming about pushing your elderly mother down the stairs just for a change of pace; or you realize it’s not right and you start down the unknown, exciting, possibly terrifying but immensely and bountifully restorative journey of self-discovery that leads to the you you were meant to be.

How do we start that path?  Choose to.  It’s that simple.  Especially if we get signs in a direction other than the one we’ve been pointing in.  CHOOSE TO.  If you make even one choice in a given moment that is different than the one you always seem to choose in that same sort of moment, it sends such a shockwave of a ripple of change through your life, it could sink the whole island of Manhattan.

I know its common to think of the internal push toward change as being begun by “courage” but I think sometimes it can be fear.  Fear of being ‘just’ what I am now.  Or sometimes exhaustion.  Just so tired of boring myself to sleep with my own life.   But whatever the reason, there is no wrong reason if the change is you becoming the best version of you.

I definitely feel meself on the verge of many changes.  As a performer, for sure, but also as a coach and director. I thought that wouldn’t happen for many years but I feel the time getting closer.

In the meantime, I’m searching and listening and dreaming.

That’s enough for now.  It’s late and I’m pooped.  More to come.  I’ve got something to tell you all soon.  .. . well those of you who haven’t heard yet.

Published in: on November 10, 2011 at 7:10 am  Leave a Comment  

DONNABLOG #37 DAY OFF OF SURPRISES

So as I said, I am going to strive to write more. I’ve been very lax and I don’t want to be lax.

This is almost 2 weeks overdue.  But 2 Wednesdays ago, our day off, my day turned suddenly awry.  I had gone to the gym in the morning to . . . well, . . . . work out.  About half an hour to 40 minutes before I finished my work out, I was starting to get a headache so I went into the dressing room to get some Advil.  I got the Advil, and finished my work out.  When I went back into the dressing room, I went to my locker and someone else’s lock was on my locker!!!!!!!  “What the . . .??”  I had to stop and think for a minute . . . have I had a stoke?  Did I actually use a different locker?  Is this some alternate universe?  Am I being punk’d?  Once I realized that I know I had used that locker, I also realized that the stuff I could see inside it was not my stuff.  So what then also became clear is that .  . . someone had clearly stolen my stuff and long enough ago that someone else had come in and used the”empty” locker. I WAS ROBBED AT THE GYM!!!  Aaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!   My backpack which had my phone, a favorite sweater, and my satchel (or man-bag) which had everything in it.  I will tell you what “everything” consisted of later.

Once I came to this inevitable conclusion, I told the attendant in the room vacuuming what had happened and he told me to go the front desk and report it.  The manager I talked to was instantly attentive.  We both went back downstairs to the locker room and did a sweep of lockers.  Another attendant joined us and he went to see if someone had that locker to find out if it was indeed empty when he put his stuff in there.  While the second attendant was searching for the new occupant of my locker (bastard – okay it’s not his fault but I’m still mad at him), the manager started searching the bathroom area and found my backpack under the sink.  Hooray!!!!  With the sweater still in it.  Hooray!!  But my satchel missing.  BOO!!!  But my phone was still in a pocket of the backpack.  Hooray!!

I’m so happy my phone was still there. That was what really had be freaked.  I have NO ONE’S number other than in my phone.  Aaarghhhh!!  *Note to self:  write numbers down.  But they got my satchel which had everything in it.  And by everything I mean  (sigh) my American credit/debit card, my Canadian debit card, my Canadian credit card, my passport, my gym card, my keys, my laundry card, my Equity Card, my Macy’s card, my Barnes and Noble card, my Social Security card, my Metro card, my U.S. health insurance card,  plus $40 cash.  Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!!!

Oh my people, it was horrifying.  So I called the police and two officers arrived and took all of the info.  I should mention here that while I was filling out the report, I remembered that I also had tickets in my wallet. The cast had gotten tickets to see Phantom Of The Opera for the matinee that afternoon.  I had invited a couple of friends and a friend in Priscilla asked me to give his tickets to a friend, as he was going to be busy.  They were all going to meet me at the theatre so I had to call everyone and tell them “Oops, sorry, your tickets have been stolen.”  Ugh!  Anyway, the police said that there are a lot of robberies at that gym and I knew that.  (I really should lock my shit up in the small protected valuable lockers upstairs.) And let’s face it, lots of gyms are crime scenes – sad but true.  But they were really trying to catch this person/people so they asked if I could come down to the station.   Well, I figured I’m always up for a new experience, so I said sure.

What a trip.  I have to say, the NYPD peeps I came into contact with couldn’t have been nicer.  The officers who answered the call were great guys. And the detective at the precinct who took care of the details was great.  A buxom, efficient, no-nonsense lady who was clearly crackerjack at her job.  We got in touch with the Canadian debit card and credit card and found out the robber had managed to get some money out of my credit card already but they would do an investigation and put it back in to my account.  (Thank God).  Otherwise no further damage.

The cops where so awesome.  By the end of my “visit” I had them laughing and taking down my website and the name of the show I was in, thinking of taking their girlfriends.  [You’re welcome, Priscilla.]  After we were done, they drove me home which was very nice of them and gave me a piece of paper to use for a new passport and show that I was, in fact, robbed.  Yikes.

Then began the next adventure.  I had to get into my apartment. Luckily I have a superintendant who is amazing.  I called him and he met me at the front of the building and let me in.  Because I had no keys now (I had a spare set . . . IN THE APARTMENT) he had to get a drill to drill the lock open, then replace the lock and give me new keys.  Bless his heart.  Then he asked if I needed money.  I told him no but thank you.

So it was good to get into my apartment.  I had something to eat, then showered (remember, my stuff as stolen as I finished my workout), got dressed and readied myself to head back downtown to my bank to get a new debit/credit card.  But, of course, no more metrocard!!  Did I mention that I had just bought a 30 day metro card for $110 only 5 days before???  Yeah . . . . . . . aaaaaaanyway.  So I have to beg someone to use their unlimited card to let me into the subway.  It takes 3 trains of people coming out but finally a good samaritan lets me in. Okay, on my way.  I got to my bank and luckily had an expired beginner’s drivers licence, which was the only ID I had with my picture on it.  They were great and gave me a new card and I was able to get money out again (Hooray!!).

So that was the immediate damage under control for now.  I knew I would have days and weeks of repairing all of that damage but at least I had money. By this time, it was 5:15.  I was going to see a friend’s show at 8:00 that night, so it was a perfect time to have some dinner, let go of the days events and go relax at a show.  I should say here that I was actually not really stressed about any of this.  I got really calm when I realized I was robbed. I felt like it was just another new experience and I would know how to deal with this sort of thing after this.

Anyway, (yes there’s more) so I have a fun meal – a namesake burger from Five-Napkin-Burger, and a salted caramel milkshake  . . . that’s right, I said a salted caramel milkshake and I’m not sorry about that – and head off for the subway.  Her show is in Queens and it’s the second last stop so I give myself an hour and a half.  I won’t draw this out making you think something went wrong with my subway.  Nothing went wrong.  It was one subway and then a shuttle and took about an hour.  I got there and picked up the ticket she left for me.  I sat down in the lobby and suddenly she was standing there with full beat on  (make-up) and in a hoodie.  It was great to see her as I hadn’t in a while, but she tells me that the show may have to be cancelled cause the sound guy has disappeared.  DISAPPEARED!!  What??!!!  Literally he was there for rehearsal, they all went for dinner and he never came back and it was half hour until show time.  Needless to say, I burst out laughing.  So we sat and chatted.  At about 10 minutes to 8, one of the producers comes out and tells us that the show is cancelled.  [Side note: she told me the next day that the sound guy was arrested for unpaid parking tickets – HI-larious]. So we finished talking and then at 8 they went into the theatre to have a rehearsal of new changes instead.  And I . . . . went home.  I figured that was enough for one day . . . and then some.  And that was the end of the day.  I went home watched TV and went to bed early.  It was a long, loong day.  (I’ve just written the word “day” about 563 times in the last 5 sentences.)

In the after math, I’ve just been putting things back together.  Put in a new passport application, other cards are coming, etc.  It’s all fixable.  It’s just about getting in touch with everyone.  It really wasn’t horrible, it’s just inconvenient.  But well, . . . . what an experience.

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 5:40 am  Comments (2)  

WORDS TO LIVE BY.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma -which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple.
Published in: on October 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm  Comments (1)  

DONNABLOG #36 HOLY SHIT IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME!!!

My Darling People, it has been so very long since I’ve written a blog.  My computer has been acting up and I was nervous for all sorts of reasons to try to open this site.  I’ve managed to find a way to get to it obviously, and I’m going to try to catch you up.  Of course now that I’m writing this, I can’t remember a thing that’s happened. So I guess I’ll just have to ramble and see what pops up.  I have to say I’ve missed chatting with you all.

The shows have been clipping along.  We had taken a little dip in sales through the summer but something happened in the fall.  Our houses have been crazy full.  It’s been a real joy to see all of the people there.  And they’re loving it.  It makes it that much more of a pleasure to go into work.

I honestly can’t think of anything interesting to talk about that happened.   August here was beautiful, hot and sunny.  I tried to get out as much as possible.  September I didn’t see much of, as I had to finish working on the “request for more evidence” for my green card application.  That was a bit much.  I won’t go into the details but I had to put together a whole other slew of documents which was not fun but I managed to get it off to my lawyer last week.  I’m hoping that he likes what I’ve done and he gives me a thumbs up.  At least I’m one step closer.

Some amazing news is that the Stratford Festival production of Jesus Christ Superstar is coming to Broadway in the new year.  That is amazing.  I have a lot of buddies in that cast and I know they are thrilled to be coming to the Great White Way.  It was such a hit in Stratford that it was booked into La Jolla for November/December and now Broadway.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Hooray.

We’ve had our first notice given at the show.  Our wonderful Tad Wilson is leaving us after this Sunday’s performance to go and do Bonnie and Clyde on Broadway.  It’s Frank Wildhorn’s new show (Jekyll and Hyde, Wonderland, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War).  We’re thrilled for him but we’ll still miss him.  There is someone else who has temporarily left.  My buddy Gavin left for paternity leave.  And he had his beautiful baby boy.  We’re so happy for him.  But he will be returning in about 3 weeks or so, so it’s not really a “leaving” situation.  It’s amazing how a dynamic changes when someone new comes in. I love it just because it’s a new energy. Though I miss Gavin and will miss Tad.

Guys, it has been 13 months of Priscilla.  Good lord, y’all.  Great ride but I won’t lie, it’s time to do something else.  Ah well, it will happen when it’s time.  I have a feeling that these guys leaving (temporarily or not) will be the beginning of a lot of people starting to go.  It’s just that time. After a year, one gets too itchy.   So . . . we’ll see.

Hmmmm what else?  I’ve been continuing to put my apartment together little by little.  I LOVE my New York pad.  It’s awesome.  I love the size and where it is.  Harlem is hilarious.  I’ve seen more fake hair and big tight-pant-clad asses in the last 7 months than you’d find in 6 state fairs.   And the sweetest people.  Everyone is so friendly and helpful.  I love my black folk.  But what is really fascinating is the gay boys who inhabit the area.  Black , white and hispanic.  And openly so.  No one even seems to flinch.  It’s really wild to see . . .  and entertaining. I love living in diversity.

I’m actually going to be doing my first singing-outside-of-the-show gig on Halloween night.  I’ve been asked to perform at the legendary Birdland club.  It’s an evening of music by a young composer named Scott Evan Davis and the evening is called “Cautiously  Optimistic”.  Thank you Gerry for suggesting me.  I’m really excited.  I’m singing a solo and a duet.  I’ve heard the solo and it’s very funny.  Haven’t heard the duet yet but it will appear in my inbox soon.  I love evenings like this.  It’s always a little extra exciting when you’re singing stuff that not many people have heard before.  Info is:

CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC

Birdland

344 W. 44th Street

7-8:30  Tickets are $25 and there’s a $10 food/drink minimum.

Hmmm  what else. Oh I saw Follies.  I’ve been wanting to see a real full-out production of Follies my whole life.  And this was a really great production.  I didn’t love everything about it but it had so many great things.  I don’t like to put the negative things in my blog cause that’s not what I do.  But the positives – Terry White was great as Stella (‘Who’s that Woman’ a highlight), Jayne Houndysell (sp?) is genius doing Broadway Baby, Jan Maxwell is stupendous as the icy and complicated Phyllis, Ron Raines is so well cast as Ben, Danny Burstein is a hopeful and tortured Buddy, Bernadette Peters is shockingly (in a good way) ordinary and un”starry” as Sally.  The four young actors who play the younger versions of the leads are really delightful, and the older and younger opera singer are heartbreaking. I also have to say that the “ghosts” of the Follies girls who haunt the stage are so amazingly designed and staged  – huge costumes and they move almost all the time but you don’t even notice it happening; suddenly you will look and they are all in different positions. I love me some good theatre.

I don’t really know what else.  There was so much to share and now I can’t even remember anything. Well I will try to think of something if it comes up and I’ll just have to write some more.  I have to have my computer fixed next week to find out what is happening so I don’t have to have big gaps in my communication.   But this will have to do for now.

Published in: on October 6, 2011 at 2:13 am  Comments (4)  

DONNABLOG #35 – CATCH UP BITS

Hey all.  Sorry it’s been so long.  Grab a coffee and let’s have a chat.  So, hmmm, where to start.  We already covered the America’s Got Talent event.  Oh here is a video that was made of thoughts about Marriage Equality and Gay Pride Parade.  I just found it today online and here it is.

nyc-pride-2011

Okay what else?  Oh, one of the fun things about living in New York is the different events that go on here.  One that I caught recently was Broadway Barks. It’s an event created by Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore about hmmmm – I’m about to possibly get this wrong so forgive me – I think it was 13 years ago.  Basically they bring pound animals/shelter animals, etc. to Shubert Alley and people can take these animals home as pets.  And so each year they get stars from current Broadway shows to come and help  . . . well, “pitch” the animals.  I went to catch it this year.  Here are a couple of shots of Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore – yes, that’s right, they were hosting.

I’m pretty sure there’s a picture of Bernadette Peters rotting in some attic somewhere.  She looks like she’s still 30.  It’s a bit ridonkulous.  Now here is a shot of three of the stars of Catch Me If You Can.  From left to right: Kerry Butler, Linda  Hunt and  Aaron Tveit (kneeling).

And here are some of the stars of The Book of Mormon.  Which I still have not see but am dying to.   Everyone says it’s killer (good). Anyway here is Andrew Rannells, Tony Winner -Nikki M. James (in black, kneeling)and – forgive I’m not certain who the gentleman in teal is, I  believe it’s Rory O’Malley

It was fun to watch.  Great way to feel the community.  I was glad to take it in.

In other more recent news. About a week or two ago, the cast was asked to do a publicity event at the Apple Store in Soho this past Tuesday (July 26).  I said sure as I thought/hoped we may get a free gift.   Then a couple of days later, I was contacted to see if I would sing Tony Sheldon’s part in We Belong.  Tony had a prior engagement.  (There was to be a Diva Medley, then Nick Adams and the Divas doing Like a Prayer, then We Belong, then the great Martha Wash doing It’s Raining Men).  Of course, I was happy to.  Tony is such a rock, I may never go on for him so these little moments are probably the only moments I will have to taste Bernadette.  Ironically, it’s also one of the many reasons I love and respect Tony. He’s old-school about missing shows.  Unless you’re dead, you go on.  So we come to Tuesday and I get to the store. Holy beautiful, Batman!!!   It’s a two level deal. There is an actual stage set up with seating and everything right inside the store on the second floor.  I’ll also mention here that Nick had injured his hip earlier in the week and Bryan West, his understudy has been on for him. Do Bryan was also singing for Nick on Tuesday.

By the time we performed, there were quite a few people.  The Divas, who did the first number had to start over, as between sound check and performance, they forgot to turn the mics back on.  But then all went pretty smoothly. Martha Wash was so great.  She really brought the house down with It’s Raining Men.  Sounded spectacular.  It’s cool that she’s willing to come and play with us.  Here are some shots.

Photo-Coverage-Martha-Wash-PRISCILLA-Play-the-Apple-Store-20110727

And the best part of of all, other than the great publicity, is that we all got an iPod Nano at the end.  Shut up!  Sweet.  Here is the performance on YouTube.  (So fast these things happen nowadays)

watch?v=mD4cXZoeqEQ

We’re at the end of a heat wave and it’s really beautiful out these days.  So great to have some time to go out and enjoy it.  One of my buddies in the show, Gavin, took me to a great restaurant in a hotel called the Maritime Hotel the other night.  The restaurant is quite remarkable.  It’s called La Bottegga and it was built in the 60’s and the decor hasn’t changed.  It’s like you walk in and your transported back about 35 years.

labottega.php

You go up the steps from the outside and the whole thing is quite large.  On one side is the bar proper, all enclosed, all wood. On the other side is the restaurant proper, all enclosed, also all wood. In between are these two connected open air patios.  Picture it, if you will – lots of square tables (probably wood, but I can’t remember now), round Chinese lanterns strung above you with that lovely faint orange glow, big potted trees lit from below, gently illuminating each tree with a different colour.  Italian food, beautifully done.  I orded the butter beans as a side dish and it was my favourite thing.  Cooked with olive oil and a bit of butter then some herbs added.  D-lish.  Gavin’s a great “tour-guide” so I think we may make more regular sojourns to the interesting places New York has to offer, perhaps dragging some of our other cohorts along.  Woohoo

I met a couple of friends today for lunch.  The wife is a friend and actress who I’ve known for years from Toronto and her husband is a Canadian who is an American citizen now.  I haven’t seen them in so long, they have a 16 month old baby and the last time I saw her, she wasn’t even pregnant.  Anyway, they took me for lunch to a place called Momofuku.

ssam-bar

For lunch, almost all of the meat in dishes that have meat are duck.  I’ve never actually had duck.  Duck be good.  Yummy.  So tasty.  And the decor as you can see is all this really warm wood. (Sensing a theme)  Great to see the two of them and their baby is so ridiculously beautiful and smart and funny.  Total Gerber Baby.

Let’s see.  I think that’s all for the wanderings.  Other than that, I feel like the universe is starting to show me signs of new possibilities.  We’ll see where that ends up but at least something’s moving.

One last thing.  After a while, the original glamour wears off doing a show and it becomes the people you see everyday at the show, the guys I hang with in the show that make it worth going in every day, no matter what mood I’m in.  I caught this on Tuesday when Eric, our dance captain and one of my best pals at the show, just randomly threw on Gavin’s finale costume over his street clothes and then had a serious discussion with Jeff, who was in most of his emu costume. It caught my funny bone and I had to get a photo.

I do enjoy these boys. Laughs are good, y’all.

DONNABLOG #34 – ITUNES AND ME

OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS!!!!  I just realized that my CD, “A WHOLE LOTTA SUNLIGHT”, is now available on iTunes.

I’m so excited.  I mean, it’s not a surprise that it’s on there at all, but I didn’t know when it would be happening.  I’m so excited.  (Wait, I just said that.)  I feel like I’m now a real artist in the world.  How cool is that?    It’s my 2003 CD.  (I don’t have another one yet).  I know some of you may already have it but I’ve met so many people who have know idea I made a CD and now it’s accessible to everyone.  That’s  a little daunting but exciting. (Apparently)

It’s an odd thing. You spend all of this time creating this “child” that is your CD and then you send it out into the world, hoping that people will play it and love it, 0r at least like it.  At the same time, CD’s are like iPhones, as soon as it’s released, you’ve already thought of several upgrades.  There is still so much I am proud of on the CD.  Are there things I would change if I were to do it now? Sure.  That was then and it’s a great representation of who I was then and some of who I am now.

I really look forward to doing another CD.  I love recording.  It’s a whole different and interesting medium.  But in the meantime there is this disc available to you all that I loved doing and which gives a look at (listen to) the different flavours of Thom. (Did I just refer to myself in 3rd person?  My, I am very important, aren’t I?   . . . wait, or is that obnoxious? Screw it, it’s my blog and I’m very giddy and happy right now.)

If you download it, I hope you like it, y’all.

Published in: on July 9, 2011 at 5:08 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

DONNABLOG #33 – AMERICA’S GOT . . . PRISCILLA

Okay hilarious.  So I found out today that I’m going to L.A. for the day on Monday.  Yes, I said for the day.  We were informed by one of our producers a couple of days ago that we had the opportunity to perform on the first results show for America’s Got Talent.  The day of recording the show is Monday but it will be shown on July 13.  But he didn’t know which number or who would be doing it.  The issues being what songs could be cleared legally, plus the fact that we have a show on Monday night so they had to work out who would go and who would cover those people in those peoples’ absences.

We had a rehearsal scheduled for today but because of the fact that the producers didn’t know who yet, we had to wait until this morning to find out who was going to do it.  Well, lo and behold, my phone rings this morning and I’m one of the six people picked to go to L.A. to film the show.  What???!!!  Awesome. So that’s what’s happening.  There are six of us, including Will Swenson, who will hop on a plane Monday morning, do the show, then hop on the red-eye to come back.  And I won’t lie to you, I LOVE doing this kind of stuff.   Just the sheer adventure of it.  They are hiring a handful of other people to fill in the rest of the number.  Some from New York, some from L.A.

Kecks-Exclusives-Americas-1035000.aspx  (Yes, that is me off of the right shoulder of the centre Diva.)

We rehearsed today and then we’ll see each other again on Monday.  I’ll keep you posted on the whole experience.  I will try to Tweet through the day for those of you who follow me.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:  Oh and I will no longer be posting all of my blogs on Facebook  anymore after this post.  Possibly not on Twitter either.  I may do the odd one but I’m not loving the big announcement on Facebook thing.  That was something I ended up doing by accident but I will be stopping except for, maybe, the odd really big thing.  But from here on in, subscribe to the blog if you want to know when I have posted something new or just keep checking in.  I try to put something up every few/several days or so.

And as always, thank you for following and giving a shit about what this kid who grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada has to say about his world.  It really is a joyful thing to share this with you and I hope you guys are enjoying this ride with me.

Published in: on July 8, 2011 at 5:46 am  Comments (4)  

DONNABLOG #32 – GAY PRIDE PARADE

Well what a day yesterday was.  This past week was Gay Pride Week in New York City.  The capper, as it is in Toronto and elsewhere, is the Pride Parade on the final Sunday.   Yesterday was the Pride parade which I hear is only topped by the parade in Sydney, Australia.  We were told about 3 or 4 weeks ago that we (Priscilla) would have our own float in the Parade. More specifically, our own double-decker bus. The idea was that Aussie Bum was going to be one of our sponsors so whoever wanted to be on the float were encouraged to wear an Aussie Bum bathing suit – board short style or speedo – on the float.  I knew I wanted to be on the float because . . . what the hell????  Why not???  But appear publicly in a bathing suit for all of . . . well, a chunk of New York to see? . . . I’D RATHER BE DIPPED!!!  (Did you just ask “in what”?  Stop reading my blog!!! In whatever horrible thing you can think of.)

So I thought, “Is anyone going to be in drag?  This IS a Priscilla, Queen of the Desert float”.  It immediately became clear that I was going to have to carry that torch.  But, always thinking strategically when it comes to business, I knew it shouldn’t be some generic drag – 1) because I don’t do generic drag. I only do drag when it is something specific for a show and 2) we have such specific drag in the show, I figured it should represent something about our show.  So I narrowed it down to two ideas – interpretations of a Pink Bus or a Mirrorball.  Well, I realized that it would be impossible to do the bus without something being built, otherwise, in some pink dress and a red wig, I’m just a mixed-race, fat version of Nick Adams. Mmm  . . . fun.

It became clear that with a silver sequined dress, lots of glittering jewelry, and a blond wig, a walking mirrorball was my best bet.  The jewelry was easy.  Our head of wigs had the wig.  But do you think I could find a little silver sequined dress?????  OOOOOHOHOHOHOHO NOOOO!!   It took me 3 days of 3 – 4 hours a day to find it.  Finally, in Macy’s, I found the greatest dress.

So I did the last bits of organizing, I found a great little belt for the dress at H&M.  I asked our main make-up artist on the show to do my make-up. Unfortunately (damn her) she was going on vacation starting on the Friday. (Selfish, selfish, selfish) But she was a doll and designed my make-up and loaned me all the stuff I didn’t have, but needed, to recreate it. Here is the finished shot of her version that she did as a test on me. It was a little rushed but it was enough for me to make it work.

Bless her and thanks.  Our head of wigs, Jack, did an incredible job on the wig.  Very Drag Marilyn Monroe.  And I did my make-up.  Because I knew I would be high up on the bus, I made the decision to expand the design a bit (eyes, lips) to make it a little bigger than life.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.  This is a shot of my face at the end of the parade.  It didn’t move at all. 4 hours and face totally in tact.

And here we are, a full body shot. This was just before we left for the parade. I had just gotten dressed.  The lighting is a fluke.  Terribly glamorous.  And I had to have a name so here she is:   MIRA BALL.

I’ve gotten several shots from different people from the day.  Here is one I love because it looks like it’s been shot through gauze. It’s all old Hollywood.  Shot by our amazing Tony Sheldon.

I couldn’t get onto the bus for a while as random strangers kept wanting to take shots with me.  It was very sweet and so loving.

Here’s a shot with my great show pal, Mike, while we were waiting on the bus for the parade to start.

And here is another shot with Mark, the darling husband of one of our stage manager’s.

The parade was a hoot.  So many people cheering, waving.  There was a lot of love coming at us.  People were thrilled to be there and especially with the gay marriage law being passed on Friday.  There was a truly euphoric feeling to the day.  Being from Canada, I took the idea of gay marriage for granted but you could feel how empowered and truly happy people where.  Gay people, straight people, all people who had heart and soul.  (Okay that sounds a bit  gooey but it really was touching).

I have to say, I seemed to be a really big hit with the black and latino (latina?) lesbians.  Several of them were beckoning me to come down off the bus.  I would have but several of them looked like when they realized I didn’t have a vagina, they would have beaten the shit out of me. The grow ’em sassy and tough down here.

Oh, so after the parade, the bus dropped us off at 42 and 8th. Now our theatre (where all of my stuff is) is at 47 and 7.  So I walked back, in full beat, to our theatre.  What was hilarious and fascinating was 70% of the people didn’t even flinch at this 6′ 3″ drag queen sauntering up 8th avenue. 25% barely looked and then smiled or giggled. And only about 5% looked on in confusion, verging on horror. And to that 5%, I say, “Bless your sheltered hearts” and “Suck it”.

Anyway it was a very special afternoon.  I loved sharing it with my castmates, a few of whom have become very dear friends.  I loved sharing it with New York, a few of whom have become very dear friends.  I have felt extremely welcomed by this city.

Okay so at this point let’s just talk about the fact that I have been here in New York for about 4 months.  In which time, I’ve been in a hit show on Broadway, been personally photographed with Joan Rivers, performed on the Tony Awards, and have now been a shining part of the second largest gay pride parade in the world.  It’s been a busy time and a wonderful time.  I will work hard to make it continue.

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm  Comments (4)  

DONNABLOG #31 – THE TONY AWARDS

THE TONYS!  AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

Okay here we go.  It was a bit surreal.  We started at our theatre getting ready.  The theatre hired a bunch of make-up artists to do our drag make-up for the evening.  Our producers had food brought in, our sound guys had rigged up a TV for us to watch the show until we had to go.  It was really cool. Here’s a little shot of my make-up.

So eventually we got on the bus and went to the Beacon Theater.  (Side note: we found out we got the Best Costume Tony just before we left so we were already flying high) It was all very glamorous.  They had blocked off a portion of Amsterdam Avenue (Avenue?  Street?) and there were all these people – general public – who were hanging out behind barriers to get pics, etc.  We had to wait in our bus for a little bit then they let us into the tent.  Now, tent, you wonder?  The theatre is so small there is no really big backstage space so they had to set up a tent and take over chunk of  . . . 74? 75?. Anyway, the performers were kept in the tent.  So we got in and got into our costumes or some of them as we still had about 1/2 hour.

But the Anything Goes kids were there.  I snapped a shot of Sutton Foster having a simple moment while they were all waiting to go on, watching TV.

They went on and we watched their number (there was a TV in the tent for us) and it was fantastic.  It was surreal to be watching the Tony Awards with a group of people then watch them walk out a door and then do a number.  Here is a shot of Tony Sheldon and Will Swenson hanging out before our performance.

While we were standing around  waiting, we also watched the cast of COMPANY  do their number.  They weren’t in our waiting area, but after they were done they came through.  I didn’t know they were coming through so I turn around and there is Patti Lupone strutting past me, then Martha Plimpton, Christina Hendricks.  What???!!!  Cool.  Didn’t have my camera on me.  Shoot.

Then came our time. We got our headdresses on.  Here’s me and a couple of buddies, Gavin Lodge and Eric Sciotto.

So they brought us backstage and we waited behind “the wall”.  We listened while Sutton Foster accepted her Best Actress in a Musical Tony and then heard Paul Shaffer (sp?) begin his introduction.  Those of us behind the wall had a little circle of love to just remind each other to drink this moment in and live it and love it.  Up went the wall and …

watch?v=cRO0N7ul7yE

The place went crazy, we turned our shit out, then ran offstage screaming like little girls.  I had to get a shot with Martha Wash.  That song is so iconic and she was one of the peeps to introduce it to the world. And she couldn’t have been lovelier.

And that was that, folks.  We headed back to the theatre to get out of makeup.  There was a party at a local restaurant but I was fighting something (cold or something) and felt exhausted so I was a bit of a pooper and went home.  But I will never forget my first Tony Awards, y’all.

Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm  Comments (1)  
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