A NEW BRAIN REHEARSALS

Hey everyone.  We’ve started A New Brain rehearsals and oh my God, this music is involved.  Holy Shmoot.  William Finn doesn’t make this easy.  But it’s pretty great stuff.   And this cast is outrageous.  There is only ten people but it sounds like 24.   Daryl Cloran, our director, gave us a talk on the first day (Thursday) that was insightful, inspiring, and gained our complete trust.  I think this is going to be an amazing experience and hopefully it will turn out to be the same for the audience.  But let me tell you folks, this is a lot to get together in a very short period of time.  So today – our day off- will be about learning music and just getting the show into my psyche. Anyway, that’s it.

And I have to say once again how amazed I am by Wayne Gwillim who is our musical director.  He did most of the tracks for my Mexico gig and he was also the musical director for Elegies:A Song Cycle a couple of years ago.  He is relatively young but my God, he’s good.

Okay I’m having a bizarre moment right now.  As I write this, the TV’s on and Showboat, the movie of the broadway show, is on.  For those of you don’t know it, it’s an old show about the lives surrounding this old riverboat at the turn of the century in America and a big part of it involves race relations.  And after seeing the inauguration of the 44th president (44th or 43rd) who is a man of colour, it seems hard to believe.  Just thinking how far the world has come, well, America certainly in the last 50 years, even, let alone 100.  100 years ago, he would be picking cotton and now he’s the president.

I have to admit, I watched the inauguration and I got a little teary.  So much of what happens in our country is affected by our neighbors to the south. And I didn’t think I would see it happen in my lifetime that our sister country would overcome such a long history of racial intolerance to embrace with overwhelming support a black man.  I am so proud to be on this continent right now where a man with such presence of self and intelligence and respect and heart is put in a position to right some of the many, many wrong turns that have been taken by the former regime.  I’m not a political person by any means but I know what is and isn’t healthy and the U.S. is a country that has been ailing for the last 8 years and I hope and pray that they’ve found the doctor they’ve needed.  We, Canadians, could use a little doctoring ourselves right now, I fear.

But for right now, I feel hopeful.  On all fronts.  There is always beauty in the air but it feels tangible right now.  Let’s just enjoy it.

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Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 2:16 pm  Comments (2)  

SOME COOL NEWS

So get this, guys.  Apparently, I’ve been nominated for a best supporting actor Ovation award in Vancouver.  I believe it’s one of two theatre awards given out in Vancouver.  The Ovation awards are strictly musical theatre and they happen in January.  Then there are the Jesse’s which are the equivalent of Toronto’s Dora Awards and encompass all theatre and happen, like the Doras, in June.

For those of you who are or will be in Vancouver, the Ovation Awards are presented at an awards ceremony on Sunday January 25th at the Vancouver Academy of Music (1270 Chestnut Street) Reception 6PM followed by a two hour revue including performances from various productions and special guest presenters for each of the awards to follow at 7PM.

http://www.applausemusicals.com/pb/wp_ff9e6278/wp_ff9e6278.html

I’ll keep you all posted as to what happens.  I feel so shocked and honoured when I get nominated for something.  It really is cool just to be nominated (and I’m not shitting you).  It means a huge deal to me that a collection of my peers decided they liked my stuff enough to vote for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be the Susan Lucci of Canadian theatre or anything.  But I’ve been nominated for two Doras (OUTRAGEOUS, ELEGIES:A SONG CYCLE) and two Betty Mitchells (CABARET, EVITA) so I still have some time.  Thank God.

Stay tuned in the next couple of months.  I may have several pieces of fun news.  Maybe . . . who knows . . . I make no guarantees . . . .

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 10:27 pm  Comments (1)  

AUDITION SILLINESS

Okay y’all.  So I got back into Toronto on Saturday night and had an audition for Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical on Monday morning. It was great fun and the creative team was awesome. They were all there except for the director.  One of the parts I was auditioning for was for a character named Miss Understanding.  She is the MC of the drag club the boys perform in and it’s a featured part at the beginning of the musical.  (She doesn’t appear in the movie so don’t look for her.)  And I’ve missed the first few auditions because of being in Vancouver and in Mexico so this was the first call back with the creative team.  And of course, wouldn’t you know it, they want guys coming in for Miss Understanding to come in full drag.  God help me and welcome back to T.O.

So I got dressed up. I didn’t take pictures of the whole outfit but I decided to take pictures of myself getting into make-up.  And I thought it would be fun to finally try out iMovie on my Mac and put them together so here it is.  My first attempt.  Hope you get a kick out of it.

Published in: on January 17, 2009 at 5:20 pm  Comments (5)  

SURPRISE NEW YEAR’S VACATION

champagneSo first of all HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!  I hope you all had a great one.  I had an amazing and surreal New Year.  I haven’t been able to write about this as it was a surprise for someone.  I am in Mexico as we speak.  Woohoo.  It was a surprise for my best friend, Krista.  Her mother-in-law rented a house here in Tepoztlan and decided to get all the families together for Christmas and New Year’s in various configurations, and as a surprise for Krista, she invited me but no one knew.  Krista and her hubby had arrived on Christmas day and I finished The Drowsy Chaperone in Vancouver on the eve of Dec. 27, flew home to Toronto on the morning of the 28th, repacked that night, and flew to Mexico City on the morning of the 29th.    Needless to say, Krista was surprised, as were her parents who were there and have been like a second family to me.  It was a really fun group.  And so part of the deal was that I was also the surprise entertainment for New Year’s Eve.  So I had put together over the last several months a 45-minute show to do after dinner and before midnight.  Krista’s mother-in-law, Jean, and a friend of hers had arranged a huge dinner party for about 36-8 people.  I had gotten the incredible pianist/musical arranger/musical director/friend Wayne Gwillim (remember that name people – he’s going to be famous) to do piano tracks for me and I used some from my CD to create a 14-song set.

Now let me set this scene.  I arrived in Mexico still trying to get rid of this sty in my eye, which, though it’s getting smaller, is still making the vision in my right eye blurry.  So now let’s add to that what I acquired on the my last couple of days in Vancouver – a sinus infection AND bronchitis.  Thankfully I had gotten antibiotics on my last day in Van.  But wait, there’s more.  Tepoztlan is many kilometres up so there is this altitude issue that no-one warned me about.  (I hope you’re all laughing by now cause I was)  So you have to picture this.  I can’t see details too well because my eyes can’t decide what to focus on; my nose is stuffed and the passages are swollen, my chest feels heavy, my bronchial tubes are tight and my throat feels like the tissue is on fire, plus, because of the altitude, my chords are strained.  Bring on that forty-five minute set!!!

Now, understand, I can sing through just about anything.  (knock wood) I’ve only gotten laryngitis once in my life and that was when I had an infection right on my vocal chords.    Well this killer combo managed to produce only a partial laryngitis. Basically just the top-top notes of my range sounded like metal rubbing against metal.  Unfortunately, most of my material uses the top-top part of my range. OH MY WORD, Y’ALL!!!    It was a challenge but SO MUCH FUN!!!!    I had to re-negotiate some things as I got to them and technique my ass off but I just tried to use it.  In some songs, it added this really cool element – you know, that throat cancer quality.  LOL.  I was awesome.  And dinner was a little late in getting going so I finished about 8 minutes to Midnight.  Just enough time to get the champagne, pour the glasses and toast.  And the greatest part is, people seemed to really enjoy it.  So all went well.    It’s all in how you spin it, people.

Of course, the next day, my voice was dead.  There were more squeaks and bleats coming out of my throat than a broken clarinet.  But it was worth it.  And now I’m still in Tepoztlan as we speak but most everyone is gone.  It’s just me and Krista and her amazing husband Matthew, their beautiful son (my unofficial God-son) Miles, Jean (Matthew’s mother) and two of Jean’s friends, who I adore.  And it’s just us for one more week of relaxing.  (Up until now, it was us plus Matthew’s sister and her husband and their two boys, his parents, and Krista’s parents.  It was a lot of folks but really great.  Always someone to talk to or go somewhere where with.  I didn’t really go very far as I have been trying to recuperate from all of this illness. But now I have a week to rest and play and see some things and lay by the pool and learn some material for an upcoming audition and look at the script for A New Brain which goes into rehearsal in 2 1/2 weeks.  But the biggest issue is getting my voice back in working order for this audition coming up.  I need healthy chords.  I’m not worried.  All things happen as they should.    And I’m in Mexico.  Life is good.

Published in: on January 4, 2009 at 2:58 pm  Comments (6)