Wow, everyone. Michael Jackson is dead. That is a tragedy of such epic proportions. I can’t imagine what sort of life he had. We’ve heard all kinds of stories and God knows we’ve seen his issues played out over the years in his ever-changing (and whitening) appearance and “unspecified” surgeries. But I can’t help but think of this sweet young man before his demons really got hold of him. He certainly gave us some of the most spectacular music and videos. The man was a trail-blazer. Some stars just burn too bright and too fast . . . wow, that was obnoxious, Thom. Okay, anyway, here is a reminder of the sweet soul that was Michael Jackson.
So I have more news of upcoming work. I’ll be playing Mitch Mahoney, the “comfort councillor” – and by comfort councillor, I mean the ex-con who’s forced to give drink boxes to the kids as part of his community service – in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Theatre Calgary from April 20 to May 9, 2010. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m on this William Finn roll apparently. That will be my third Finn show. It stars Gavin Crawford but I don’t know what role he’s playing. It will be great to go back to Theatre Calgary. I’ve done three shows there. I did Berlin To Broadway With Kurt Weill, Cabaret and Evita. I’ve got great memories of the place and the people.
So there you go. Probably more news coming soon but for now, that’s it. Okay I must be tired. These last two posts, I just put up and they are so dry and boring. No panache. Sorry, kids, papa needs a good nights sleep.
Okay, y’all. It happened. We did the evening with William Finn at Canstage last night. For those of you who don’t know him. He is the Tony award winning composer of the broadway musicals Falsettos, Elegies, A New Brain, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He’s a fascinating man. Very no nonsense and seemingly crusty on the outside but he is a man who cares a great deal about musicals and people and artists. But I have to say, I haven’t been that nervous singing for a long time. It didn’t destroy me or anything but I was soooooooooooooo self-conscious. But at the same time, it was thrilling to share his music with people. And he had such great stories. The one that really floored me was when he told the story of how his mother was dying of cancer around the time he was opening . . . hmmm either Spelling Be or A New Brain, I forget now. Anyway, she euthanized herself with her morphine around his opening so the family would all have to be in town for her funeral anyway . . . then they could be there for his show. Whaaaat???!!!! Apparently she was quite a woman. But that is intense. Anyway, he seemed to enjoy himself. He said some really nice things about the evening and it was a sold out crowd which really was great for him to see. He got a standing ovation at the end of the night.
I was freakin’ exhausted by the end of the night. But sooo glad I did it.
hahha I know that sounds terribly important. Really this is just an observation. I feel like I may have said this before in a blog but – who cares? – it’s my blog. I can say it again if I want. I just saw a commercial for The Bonnie Hunt Show. (She’s a funny chick) She had the young actor on who is playing Sean (P.Diddy) Combs in the movie NOTORIOUS and he had said his mother had made him and his brothers slaves for her. Bonnie picked up on that and sad “Ooooohhh, surely that’s not the word for it.” Very funny. But it got me suddenly thinking about race and how much if our race issues are visual. What I mean is, I’m a man of mixed race, and there certainly are a lot more areas where “mixed” is considered a viable answer for “Race” on questionaires, etc. But for all intents and purposes, I’m most often categorized as black. Which is not a bad thing at all and this is certainly not a diatribe about race issues. As I said, it’s more an observation. I’m just as much white as I am black but racially, I’d never be called white. The closest I’ve come is Italian. ahhaahh. Which I still consider a great honour.
There is no point to this really. Just a thought I wanted to share. It’s so much about a visual. I’m never so aware of how lucky I am to have blue-green eyes as when I go through customs. My name is generic but I see them look at my passport and look at me: light-ish brown skin, shaved head. I could possibly be profiled. But I can always see that quiet moment when they look into my eyes and see the colour and they realize I’m no one to be concerned about. It’s a bit freaky but again, all visual.
I just think it would be kooky to be described as a dark-skinned white guy sometime. hahahaahahahaha
Okay, kids. So I had the wildest experience last night. I was asked to perform for an evening awareness for an amazing research project iniated by Joysanne Sidimus – an extraordinary woman who founded the Dancer Transition Resource Centre 20-some-odd (weird expression) years ago.
It was an evening to encourage funding from the many private angels who support the arts. Joysanne had become aware of how many senior artists (over 65), from all art forms, where struggling with no place to turn for help and began some preliminary research into this issue and realized there needed to be a serious iniative created to figure out what sort of help was needed, where it needed to come from, who needed it, how different it needed to be for the different disciplines, etc. So this was to start to raise awareness and subsequently, funding to begin a 3 year research project. The outcome of which is to figure out the answers to all of those questions and set a solution in motion. Very Cool
It was at the home of a couple of arts patrons. I can’t even begin to describe this house, y’all. Holy Doodle. It was pretty extraordinary. Out of respect for their privacy I won’t give the details but I’ll just say it was a mansion in an area with a name that sounds like “Hosevale” . . . . But there were about 100 guests and there had to be millions of dollars of “cash-worth” in that room. It was wild.
Sheila McCarthy was the organizer of the “artist guests” and the “artist guest talent” for the evening. ie. artists were invited to mingle as “luminaries of the Canadian entertainment” scene and talk with the patrons and in some cases, were asked to perform as part of a little entertainment section. So the list included Colin Mochrie, Debra McGrath, Rex Harrington, Karen Kain, Ross Petty, Veronica Tennant, Gordon Pinsent, Carlo Rota, Brent Carver, Fiona Reid and myself. What?????!!! And me, apparently. So honoured to be in that sort of company. Sooooo I was asked to appear and do a couple of songs. So Wayne Gwillim, who accompanied me, and I created a medley of two songs (I’m not saying which ones in case someone decides to steal it – you know you’re out there) and then I sang Infinite Joy which is my favourite song to sing these days. It was a wild experience. The “entertainment” portion went like this: Sheila hosted and started with a small a cappella song. Then I did my songs, then Fiona Reid did this hilarious monologue about the merits of Canada – dressed as a school girl (I’m not kidding – HI-LARIOUS), then Louise Pitre did a Piaf song, then Brent Carver did a Leonard Cohen song followed by a Jacques Brel song, then we had a treat of a taste of the new generation in Leah Keely (daughter of Stratford Festival pianist/music goddess Laura Burton and actor/matinee idol David Keely) playing the piano and singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
So interesting and fun. My songs went really well even though I screwed up a bit in the second one but no one would have known unless they really new the song. And the highlight of the night was when Gordon Pinsent – who I had never met before – hugged me after I sang and said some really lovely things. It was awesome.
This business is so freaky. You never know what you’re going to be in for. It was an honour to be asked and it was a kick to do. Bring on more of that. Woohoo