🎼Hold On My Heart, Throw Me A Lifeline; I’ll Keep A Place For You Somewhere Deep Inside…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

It has been a bit, hasn’t it?

I hope you are well and healthy and had a lovely weekend.

Sadly, I found out about two people passing away. Each dear to me in their own way and neither in the same relation circle so it’s like which ever way I turn to face, I have to look at sadness. 😒

On Sunday, I found out that my cousin, Scott, but we always called him Scotty, had passed after he’d been hospitalized and a friend from the theatre, Mike, had passed on Saturday.

If there was one great regret that I have about stepping away from family functions and such it would be because of missing my cousin Scotty. He was fearless. A little reckless, but always willing to try dares, and especially gross food mixing stuff. I remember my aunt always yelling at him for doing something but one of the main things was reaching over and honking the horn while she drove under an overpass near their home. He did it every time, so I don’t know why it always surprised her, but it did.

One of my most favorite memories was when my dad took us and my little brother to see 101 Dalmatians in the small movie theater in the neighborhood. I remember there weren’t many people in the auditorium but we were up near the front. Then the scene came on where Cruella DeVil is driving furiously to catch the large truck the dogs were in and she has to miss the bridge and drive down an embankment and into a pile of snow. As she is driving the embankment, she is bouncing all around in her car and Scotty lets out his crazy laugh that has a sort of Pee Wee Herman quality to it. It sounds to old to be a child’s laugh if that makes any sense. Think Ricky Ricardo having a belly laugh. Any how, he lets out this big “HA HA” that is so loud it makes us laugh. Then, after Cruella has got back on the road, there is a point where her hair is all crazy and there is a close up on her red eyes and they have that spiral going on in them.

For some reason, that just makes him laugh more. This in turn makes us laugh and all the way through the rest of the scene up to the crash, we are laughing so hard because of his goofy laugh.

I am gonna miss that crazy kid, but so thankful that he showed me what being fearless looked like.

Mike was a different kind of cat. He was an excellent lighting designer. His credits are in the hundreds, easily. Maybe even more but I know he worked on many of the same projects that I did. I do believe that the first show I had met him on was Gypsy. I didn’t really get a chance to know him until I was in Smokey Joe’s Cafe.

We would talk about his love of dance, the shows that he saw in New York, the show he was going to see on his next trip and sometimes about when he had done shows. I used to think that he was a grumpy man, but I came to realize that he just had a very serious face unless he was smiling or laughing.

I had never seen this happen ever, but once, I think it was during the opening weekend or maybe after the Friday night show of a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, somehow, all of the lighting cues were deleted. All of them. There was nothing and Mike came in and overnight recreated the entire show. When the cast came in for our call, we had no idea until the stage manager had mentioned it. Insane!

I think my favorite thing that I will remember with Mike was working on the lighting for my directorial projects. As a cast member to meet and interact with the lighting designer is fun and cool but as a director your interactions are much more intense. I always would give him so much sass about having to use a fog element in his designs and once he explained it to me, I couldn’t unsee how much it helped.

On Jesus Christ Superstar, not the aforementioned, at the start of the 39 lashes, the lights were much less red and you could see the faces of the upstage cast. As the lashes continued, so did the deepening of the red and we thought pulling the light from the incredible upstage cast would make a kind of hellish looking landscape as they would show as silhouettes and could bring more to the contrast in their position as encouraging the punishment versus when they had supported him. I wish I had a picture from the actual production. This is from tech week.

On Smokey Joe’s Cafe, above is probably my most favorite shot I have of the entire process. Not that I didn’t absolutely adore the cast, but sitting side by side and trying to find the most perfect hue of various lights in the different areas was the most unexpectedly fun part of directing. The back record neon isn’t on and this little moment before we added any color felt like making magic.

Thanks for piquing my curiosity in lighting design and teaching me other ways of thinking about how storytelling can be fascinating and wondrous. Thanks for sharing your stories and ideas.

So pull up a chair and until our paths cross again, my friend, I shall always remember you at your “desk”

🎼10 Music Acts 🎤 That I Want A Broadway Musical From 🎭… Bonus Footage…

Hello Gentle Reader,

I am really pleased with the end result of my last series of posts. I have been asked about other artists that I love and why I skipped them or didn’t have so and so on the list. There were a few people that were initially on the list, but I wanted to narrow it down to just 10 because I am sure I could easily have made the list of 25 Music Acts…

So, in light of the questions, I wanted to add some answers to the people that should have been on the list but didn’t make my official list. Let’s go!

*Florence + The Machine – Once I finished focusing on the acts, I had to go through and see who would I like to see on Broadway in the 2021/22 season. This band was number 13. While I love how Florence Welch’s voice brings their songs to life, I think their songwriting style is totally suitable to musical theatre. If I were working on a project that was a modern historical fiction (60’s – 00’s), they would be the first people that I would run to. 

*Lady Gaga – Like Panic!, I feel like it may only be a matter of time before this actually happens so she was number 15. What I would love to see and I think could be magical is for her to write the music for a fantastical fairy tale or tech heavy sci-fi story. But the fairy tale would be my first choice. 

*Janelle Monae – She was number 11! If there is anyone I want to see a tech heavy sci-fi musical from it is her! She has such a unique sensibility and I think her use of organic and electronic music would give her an edge on this style.

*Beyonce’ – I didn’t have her on the list because with her “Black Is King” on Disney+, it is only a matter of time before Disney puts her show on Broadway. Official prediction: I am guessing 2024/25 season possibly sooner. Let’s see how that prediction holds up.

*Madonna – I love Madge. I really do even now. Were she in her Ray Of Light mindset or earlier, I would love to see her create some sort of underdog story with a strong female lead. At this time, I am not sure what she would make. I still enjoy her albums, but not in a storyteller kind of way. More like a I just want to dance or have some fun. I like the idea of the Madame X persona, but I feel like it lacks a focus because it is SO broad.

*Depeche Mode – They ended up being my number 12. I love these guys. Their sound has evolved and continues to mature. I feel like a blue collar story with some sort of big secret would best suit their sound.

*John Mellencamp – You know what I would LOVE to hear from him? I would love a growing up story about Jack and Dianne. What happened to them? Did they have a family and grow old together? Did he develop a substance abuse problem and it was up to her to keep the family together? SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!!!

*Shakira – Since her sound has a lot of world music influence, I feel like she would be the perfect person to add to a team working on a battle of the bands kind of musical. Her song stylings are quite diverse and with her experience, I think it could make for an amazing piece of art.

Well, Dear Reader, this is the group that didn’t make the list. Not for any reason other than there are just too many people to make top 10. Did I miss your favorite? Who was it? Let me know what act you would like to see.

Oh, I think it is great to mention, Lovely Reader Dana emailed me with the suggestion of The Decemberists making a musical based on their rock opera styled album Hazards of Love. I think that is a friggin’ brilliant idea and I am super bummed that I didn’t catch that! LOL. But that’s why we have a community, right? Great call, Dana!!!

Okay, Kind Reader, it is time to get back to the day’s tasks. Let me know in the comments if you agree with Fellow Reader Dana or to let me know who your favorites are.

Until next time, stay safe and alert and make sure you check in with your loved ones! Sending you love ❤️and light🕯!

🎶And I Am Frightened By The Corrupted Ways Of This Land…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

If you are in the US, do you find you are being overwhelmed with all the political commercials? 

Particularly the presidential ones? I already know that I am voting for change because rolling back the country to a less equal land is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I just watched a video by the Jagged Little Pill cast and thought how timely the lyrics to the song “All I Really Want” are. The show itself is highly relevant as well dealing with pain/traumas, healing, and empowering ones self and others.

As I struggled to watch the fiasco that was the first presidential debate of the election, I find that political theatre is just as dramatic and comedic as regular theatre. The only difference is that there is a real and tangible affect on the citizens. Not to say that the Arts don’t make a difference or an impact on people. I just mean that Jagged Little Pill isn’t going to give you universal healthcare and such.

Dear Reader, as I write this I am pained by the effects this pandemic has unleashed on people in its various stages; loss, medical bills, traumatic impressions and the other various other things that go with it.

With so much as stake in this election, I can’t understand how this is even a true contest. There is someone who has proven through their actions that they clearly don’t know how to present themselves as an intelligent well spoken adult capable of making well-informed decisions. This is the comedy of our current political theatre. The drama is the impact that he is leaving on the rights of the people. Or better yet, the lack of rights he is imposing.

One thing I want to stress is something that my dear friend Laura Benitez (who is a brilliant musician BTW) posted: don’t be demoralized by the fear mongering and diversionary tactics that the White House is using. Don’t let the idea of the perfect candidate be the reason we are left with someone that clearly isn’t capable. That was just a paraphrase. She used names, but like Voldemorte, I refuse to give the White House any more power or recognition that is doesn’t deserve so I don’t name.

Even his taxes, agree. With that track record of failings, what will America lose? I don’t know.

Trying to maintain a positive mindset has been difficult to be sure, but focusing on my love for the Arts has been so soothing for my soul. I have been revisiting the PBS show Art in the 21st Century. The artists stories are inspiring and moving as well as informative. It is a wonderful look at contemporary Art if you are missing museums right about now. So far my favorite episode this season has been the Beijing one. ❤️

I had mentioned a few posts ago that I am having a bit of an ear issue so singing has been a frustratingly missed past time. Although, I have finally got an appointment and have been on antibiotics for the last eight days. Sadly it isn’t helping much so I might have actual damage to that ear now. We’ll see. On the positive side, I have found that I MIGHT be getting used to listening with one good ear. 😂😂

I have also been trying to improve my sewing skills. They are a 5/10 and I would love to be able to design my own stuff. Definitely had my practice with face masks! 😳 They never seem to be big enough for my giant face! 🤬

By the end of Jagged Little Pill, the musical, the characters are empowered to do what is the right thing for their individual situations. Now that we are at the end of this post, Kind Reader, I would like to empower you! You are kind and good hearted. Our lives are probably not similar in many ways, but if you read these ramblings regularly, I have to assume that you at least are a kind and good hearted person. You are not alone. Believe that we are the majority all over the planet. Believe that your heart is leaving a beautiful mark in the world and continue to shine as gloriously as you do. Shine for your families. Shine for your friends. Shine for your neighbors. Shine for you.

Until next time, stay safe and alert. All the love to you!❤️❤️❤️

Happy Broadway Day!!

Hello Gentle Reader!

I am a Broadway baby at heart. ❤️♥️ 

There is a national day for EVERYTHING!  I never thought Broadway would have a day other than Tony Award Night but September 29th seems to be the day. So this leads me to the a question that I would like to ask you, my Dear Reader. That question is… what is your favorite Broadway musical?   C’MON!!!  What did you think I was gonna ask? 

If that question was posed to me, I would have a hard time answering. I would have to make a list of my top 5 or so. 🤔 I don’t think I could possibly narrow it down to a true number one. That being said, Imma try to at least give you a list!😂😂

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND 
(Ahrens and Flaherty)

The beauty of this story is what made me fall madly in love with this musical. The idea that love can conquer death is intriguing. As the line in the show says, “you can stop her heart from beating, yes. But not from loving. Not if love is what she chooses.” For a someone who love romance, I think that line is powerful. As an optimist, that line is hopeful. The songs are wonderful and completely singalongable.  That’s a word now, y’all.  There are, 4 what I think are musical masterpieces: Waiting For Life, Forever Yours, Mama Will Provide, and one of my top 2 ultimate Broadway songs,The Human Heart. It is not just a beautiful song in the context of the show, but on its own it is still gorgeous.  Most recently, there was a wonderful rendition of it done by Leslie Odom Jr. in this year’s Miscast concert.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S95UIeKovM

THE WILD PARTY
(Lippa)

This is a fabulous for the belter in all of us. So many gems in this show that you can just let loose and sing your face off. Did you hear me? SING YO FACE OFF! The characters are deliciously just over the top enough to want to play ANY of them in a production. Along with those singalongable numbers, TWP has what could be one hell of a dance number in all of musical theater: The Juggernaut. 

EVITA
(Webber/Rice)

Not only was this my first show seeing the true lead was a woman. The version of the show that I fell head over heels over was the studio concept album with Julie Covington in the title role.  Not only did it have the rock music, strong vocals,  and excellent songs for going for it, but a young actor listed as C. T. Wilkinson happened to be playing opposite Ms. Covington, who has become one of my favorite male actors.  His vocals are like buttuh!  Also, Che is just an amazing role to play.  I am sure Evita is too, but I don’t think I will get THAT chance.  😂😂

PIPPIN
(Schwartz)

The Music? The Sexy Dancing? The Characters?  These are all small parts of what makes me love the show. My biggest reason is the relatability of main character who wants there to be more to life than just life.  That there has to be something fantastical out there. Something more than ordinary.  That’s what drew me to the show initially and everything else is what keeps the show on my top list. I also love the Leading Player role as well. What a dream come true to step into those shoes.  Whenever I feel a little blue or lazy or just unmotivated, I always think of one song: No Time At All. 

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
(Webber/Rice)

This was the first musical that my best friend introduced to me.  She knew every word every and a ton of harmonies to every song. We were in middle school. She has an unbelievable ear and would sing along with her mom when we were in the car and probably when they were home too. LOL! As a self professed heathen, I don’t really believe in organized religion but found this story beautiful as a love story. The music was highly energetic and there are some serious belter songs in a guys vocal range! YAY! LOL!. The two main men, have some fabulous character arcs to go along with their songs. I love singing those songs!

I love all kinds of shows, but some I don’t connect with. That’s ok. The beauty about musicals is that even though I might not like a show, there is almost always a few songs that I really appreciate.  My love affair with musicals is strong and though we may have “rough patches” i.e. shows that aren’t my faves, but we work through it and come out stronger on the other side. LOL!  Again, this is just my list of top faves that I can’t put any order as to which is truly my ultimate top show. 

So Kind Reader, I ask you once again, what’s your favorite musical? 

Let me know what you love and why you love it. It is fine if you don’t like musicals.  Let me know why.  I am always truly curious.  Oh, and if you don’t like musicals, do you like plays? 

Until next time, Gentle Reader, stay safe and alert.  Also, make sure you watch for your ballot in the mail if you vote by mail like I do. 

All the best to you, my lovelies!

🎼 And I Believe I Got It Made…🎶

DW Washburn Sheet Music

Dear Gentle Reader,

Last night was the first night of #Smojos rehearsals that we worked on staging and I have to tell you, I was crazy nervous. My words were falling out of my head and leaving my mouth struggling to explain what I wanted. THEN, I would try and say a number and my hands show the wrong number.  For example, I was saying that I wanted 4 steps but was holding up 3 fingers. LOL.

I know I am putting way more pressure on myself than anything I have ever worked on before. I just want so badly for this production to read the way I see it in my head. I feel that if I can pull it off, people of all ages will connect with this amazing musical revue on an emotional level. The younger audience goers will find the messages in the music as relatable and the older audience members will revisit these songs and all the memories that come with it.

My Dear Reader, this hope I hold on to has been keeping me up at night but not in the way that makes me anxious.

😯Shocker, right?!

I am excited about the ideas and the transitions that are popping up in my dreams or as I begin to fall asleep. So much so that I make notes of them so that I can focus on sleeping, but the idea just continues to blossom and my excitement grows with it.

I mentioned it before, but I will say it again, I am very humbled to have this opportunity with this team with this cast. I may not be D.W. Washburn, but like him, “I believe I got it made.”

I don’t know how familiar you are with the song D.W. Washburn. The song is about a down on his luck man that a few well intentioned people try to help. He, however, doesn’t want any help because he finds comfort with alcohol and he is okay with that.

Here’s a fun fact, Kind Reader.

The first version of the song was actually released by The Monkees! The Monkees! The television comedy group released the song one month before it was released by The Coasters, who were regular singers of Leiber and Stoller songs.  The Coasters recorded the song nearly a year earlier but The Monkees put their version out first

Wanna hear?  The Monkees                 The Coasters

I do think that the best version is the one that is in the Smokey Joe’s Cafe show.  The orchestrations seem to be fuller and the addition of more voice ranges give it a richer sound, which makes it my favorite.

If you want to hear how good our version is, you’ll have to get tickets! 😜 Seriously, get those tickets!