Sunday, December 30, 2012

Life Upon the Wicked Stage - 2012

 2012 was a blessing, filling my schedule with many different theatrical adventures, all of which I was lucky to be a part of. I started my year with the conclusion of the highly successful run of Hairspray at Signature Theatre. Corny Collins was a dream role of mine, and I am so thankful that I got the chance to play around with him.
Favorite moment: The top of Nicest Kids in Town, where I got to fulfill my TV host entrance fantasies.
 The next adventure took me to Tsar-ist Russia. The cross dressing, murderous Prince Felix Yusupov was my next stop. This guy was sooooo much fun. He is one of my favorite twisted gentlemen that I have ever played.  Between the ridiculously high high heels, the asymmetrical coat and hair, the press on nail, and the insane excess of "The Good Life", he was always interesting and fun to live inside of. Dana Rowe and John Dempsey created a terrific piece of theatre that I truly hope lives on.
Favorite moment: The big 4 male voice harmony part in "Good Life" when Russell, Kevin, Chris Mueller and I sang "This is What You Call the Good Life" as we stood and toasted with our champagne. Terribly decadent and ridiculously rockin'.

 I then had the honor of covering all three men in First You Dream, the Music of Kander and Ebb at The Kennedy Center. It was a wonderful learning experience, and was a challenge to learn all three of these intricate vocal parts and dances.  I love a challenge, and this was definitely the biggest challenge thrown my way in a long time.  I hadn't understudied in quite a long time, and the last time that I swung a show was for The World Goes 'Round at Round House back in 2005. While I never had to go on, unlike my fellow swing, Eleasha Gamble, I was ready at the drop of a hat to tag into the show. Eleasha and I had a monitor in the rehearsal room, so we basically did the show along with the show in the rehearsal room every night. What a dream job.  Being paid to sing in a room with Eleasha all evening. We used to do that at my house for free back in the day!
Favorite Moment: So many...James Clow singing "My Own Space", Matthew Scott singing anything, Heidi and Leslie's hysterical "Apple Doesn't Fall Very Far from the Tree", and, since I am partial to Heidi, having worked with her before - virtually anytime she opened her mouth and sang was my favorite moment in FYD. From her frantic and desperate "Sing Happy", to her Hysterical "Ring Them Bells", to her triumphant "Maybe This Time"...this woman needs to be a gigantic star right this very minute.
 I had my seventh cabaret at Signature Theatre this summer. It was entitled "Naked", and dealt with my relationship with Matt Conner, and our upcoming wedding. Oh, and I took my clothes off. The glorious Steven Walker was my only accompaniment, and the amazing Karissa Swanigan sang back ups and solos with me. It was my most personal cabaret to date, and the most brutally honest one that I have ever done.  But it was also the most rewarding.
Favorite Moment: Opening number -   a re-vamped, up tempo and rock infused cover of Paula Abdul's "Rush, Rush".
Late summer brought with it a trip to Miss Mona's. I got to cross another thing off my bucket list by being an Aggie Boy in The Best Little Whore House in Texas at Signature Theatre. Talk about a challenge! The Aggie Song was the most challenging dance that I have ever been a part of. Choreographers Karma and Brianne Camp constructed a rigorous and athletic testosterone fest for us, as we stripped down to jockstraps out of our football uniforms and into cowboy gear. I have also never been THAT naked on stage, so there was another first! This was a fantastic cast, and was a fun group to be with.  Talk about having to be TOTALLY comfortable with your cast members! Being naked and simulating sex is definitely an ice breaker!!! Near the end of the run, I fractured my right second and third toes during the Aggie Song. I finished out the two show day (of course it had to happen on a Sunday matinee) and then was out of the show for a week.  I have never been out of a show for that long, and it was awful. to be away from it. I rejoined the show for the final week, and we closed the show out with a bang.
Favorite Moment: SOOOOOO many...the chasse cross in the Aggie Song, 24 hours of Lovin', The Raid, watching Dan Manning every night try to make us laugh in The Sidestep, the backstage Bus from Amarillo nude interpretive dance (don't ask), Tom Simpson singing "Good Old Girl", Sherri singing "You were a Friend to Me".

The toes in question. Yep. I broke my own toes by dancing too hard.
During the final weeks of Whorehouse, my limits were put to test in many ways. While doing the show, I was researching, writing, and assimilating a brand new Cole Porter review at Creative Cauldron, which I also directed, with choreography by Kara Tameika Watkins, and Co-Direction and script editing by Laura Connors Hull. Inhabiting the spirits of Cole and Linda Porter were the fabulous Carolyn Cole and Sean Thompson. This little review was magical.  I wanted it to be more than just another shitty review, and give it the framework of a little more theatricality, and some dancing as well. The song selection was the hardest task. When dealing with the canon of Cole Porter's music, it is so difficult to narrow the song list down to a finite number. I loved what we ended up with...many familiar Cole songs, with a nice smattering of rarely heard Cole songs, some of which no recordings can be found of! Carolyn and Sean did marvelous and touching work bringing this odd couple to life, and Kara Tameika Watkins created a gorgeous tango and fox trot for them to sweep the stage with.

Favorite Moment: Too many. Sean singing "I'm a Gigolo", Carolyn singing "Love for Sale", both of them singing "Well, Did You Evah?" - and watching the sultry tango of "So in Love", and the romantic and sweeping fox trot of "Night and Day".


My final project of 2012 tried its best to test not only my limits, but my sanity. The first musical that I have ever written, and that I wrote with my partner, Matt Conner - had it's world premiere at Kensington Arts Theatre. I directed the show, alongside Co-Director and every woman, Jenna Ballard. So, to keep things in focus, I was performing in Whorehouse, researching, writing, and directing Cole Porter, and in rehearsal for NightoftheLivingDead at the same time.  I felt like I was working on Cole Porter's "Whorehouse of the Living Dead". It has been my dream to see this show realized on stage, and I am glad that I got to direct the maiden voyage, so I could edit the script on it's feet to make future directors lives MUCH easier when the direct this show. So much good work was done, and I am so proud of my amazing cast and crew. The show was an intense roller-coaster of a show. I didn't breathe for an hour every time I saw it. It ain't The Music Man, that's for sure.
Favorite Moment: do I single one out? Maya Gensler as Karen, tracing her father's blood stain along the wall with her finger, the killer fight scene between Ben and Harry, the boards flying off the walls in the final sequence, Susanna Todd as Helen doing just about anything, Karissa Swanigan Upchurch's devastating "Johnny and Me", Ben Simpson and Susanna Todd singing "Drive", RaMond Thomas doing just about anything, Leslie Vincent and Stephen Hock's fantastic scene and song of "What You Say". The entire cast in the opening, 2:50am, and the finale was breathtaking.

I want to thank everyone who had anything to do with any single one of these shows. I am very blessed to have been a part of them, and am forever grateful for my continued employment! May the new year bring you much success and happiness!

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