Bergen Performing Arts Center, Englewood, NJ
Multiple shots from Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA
A rainy day at Manassas with my parents
Me, shortly after my trip to the ER, where I was told my wrist was broken
Colin presented me with this plaque shortly before the Saturday night show
David and I with our plaques; the only two members of the company to be on board for all 4 years
A post sound check meet and greet with one of our huge fans, Mason!!
Hello everyone, and welcome to the final blog for my time on the Million Dollar Quartet 1st National Tour. It's hard to believe that 4 years have flown by this quickly, and that I have been writing about our adventures this whole time. Of course my feelings were certainly starting to become pretty bittersweet; though the road had become a bit exhausting, I certainly wasn't ready to say goodbye to the show, or to my MDQ family. On top of that, with our recent accident a lot of things about me future were very much up in the air. And, rather than bore you with much of the minute details of my every move on our 3 days off in Englewood, I will sum up those days. So, here goes my last foray into my tour blogging.
I woke up on Monday morning in a lot of pain, and dreading the flight to New Jersey. I had decided pretty quickly that I NEEDED to go to the ER once I was settled. My wrists were almost completely useless; it took me nearly 15 minutes just to put on my socks that morning. I needed help packing and moving my suitcases. Luckily, once I was downstairs with my bags I had a lot of time before our bus left for the airport. I had decided at that point that I should probably have some wrist braces to support my injuries while I was on the flight, and Corey and Mary were nice enough to drive me to a pharmacy to get me a few things. We made it back in more than enough time to get on the bus, and everyone was very kind and thoughtful asking about the night before. The flight itself was pretty awful. The pressure in the cabin caused my already bruised and swollen hands to get even worse. And, I couldn't sleep as I usually do on the plane because of it. Once we finally got in after landing at LaGuardia and making the nearly 2 hour drive to Jersey (again, my favorite state), I was pretty miserable. After having help moving in from Meghan and Johnny, I decided it was time to get food and go to the ER. I waited for quite a while, and once I was finally seen, I was in a room for even longer. In the 5 hours I was there, they did x-rays on both of my wrists, chastised the Austin paramedics, and did a CT scan due to the bruises on my stomach to make sure I didn't have any internal injuries. Once I was finally cleared, I was left with a clear blood test, a clean CT scan and the knowledge that I would have to go to a specialist to be fitted for a cast for two broken bones in one of my wrists. 4-6 weeks in a cast would mean my tour was effectively over, and put into question my next contract as well as much of my professional near future. It was a hard night to say the least. Thankfully, I had the support of my amazing crew. The following day was spent laying low and resting, icing and trying to do as little as possible. The one thing I did do was head to the mall to replace my iPhone. It was damaged during the accident, and I knew it wouldn't make it the next few months until I was eligible for an upgrade. Wednesday was much the same, except I fielded a few phone calls from insurance adjustors, and I had my appointment with the specialist. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be picking out a color for my cast, and that I just needed to deal with the fact that I had broken bones and would need a lot of recovery time. After a short wait, I went in to see the specialist. The first thing he told me to do was take off my right wrist splint (above). He then proceeded to tell me that my wrist wasn't broken at all; that they both in fact had been sprained, but I did not in any way need a cast. I was shocked to say the least, but I cannot even explain to you the amount of relief I felt. I was given a wrist brace to use sparingly, and that I needed to ice my wrists each night....and then I was cleared to go back to work. Given the pain I was still experiencing, I wasn't sure that it was even still a possibility. I arrived back at the hotel, and gave the great news to a bunch of the crew and called my parents. I still needed to spend the rest of the day resting, so I was hold up in my room for quite a while. I was looking forward to the possibility of going back to work, but I really wasn't sure that my wrists would be up to it. Johnny was kind enough to offer me his guitar to try things out on Thursday before the show. I woke up that day and was pretty concerned that it just wasn't going to happen. But, I was getting kind words and support from the entire crew, management, the cast, and even the creative team and producers. That certainly lifted my spirits. I tried out the guitar and found that though my wrists were in pain, I was more than able to play and hold the guitar as I always did with a little help and support from an Ace bandage. It was really the little mundane things in my day and that I would have to do on stage that proved a challenge. Things like turning door handles, shaking hands, buttoning my fly, putting on my socks and shoes. But, I was confident that I would be able to do it. That evening I reunited with the boys, and we made our way nearly 20 minutes away to the Bergen PAC (above); it was actually quite close to where I had seen the specialist the day before. I had quite a few friends at the show that night, and though I didn't want to have let them down, I knew that THAT couldn't be my deciding factor as to whether or not I would do the show. The cast was very understanding as to the small changes I needed to make to do my show close to as usual, and sound check went off without a hitch. It was hard to believe that it was our next to last sound check, and that we were only a few days from the end of tour. Following our sound check, we were able to meet and talk to a big fan of ours (above); Mason and a lot of his family were there, so it was really nice to talk to all of them and pose for a few pictures before heading backstage. After catching people up on my prognosis and the events of the last few days, it was time to do a show. I was pretty nervous going into it, knowing that I wasn't fully sure how my wrists would hold up. The show went very well considering, and though the audience was a bit quiet (the specialist's assistant and her husband were also in the audience), I was just glad to have made it through without a problem. That night I laid low after the show at the hotel, icing my wrists and resting for our travel day to our final venue the next day.
We had a moderate call on Friday to head to Vienna, and the travel day that followed was not exactly the greatest; pretty fitting for the final group day of travel. We ended up leaving late, and after also leaving late after our lunch stop at a mall we had barely any time at the hotel before we had to leave. My parents arrived at the hotel just before we did, so I was able to say a quick hello to them before the boys and I made the long drive to the venue. We had been looking to Wolf Trap (above) for a while, as it is a famous and very large outdoor venue. The crew had a smooth load in (their last), and we had so much room back stage, the set would fit 3 or 4 times over. The sound check was a bit weird, as the audience had already started to assemble in the seats before we had even started. We were glad that there was a bit of cover for the audience, as the only other outdoor venue I had ever played was the Starlight in Kansas City. The rain there certainly affected the audience, so we were looking forward to clear skies for our weekend in Virginia. The curtain went up on opening night, and that was a bit weird as well. Because of the time of year, it was still light for almost the first hour of the show, making the audience totally visible and taking away from our lighting affects a bit. The audience was great though, and I was very glad to have my parents in the audience. My wrists were still bothering me, but they were certainly getting better. I was also supposed to meet up with some friends of Bill Miller (owner of the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, and operator of the Johnny Cash podcast and 24/7 radio station), but that ended up falling through. I had set up a backstage tour for their group, but security wouldn't let them close to the stage door. Oh well. I found my parents after the show and we made our way back to the hotel to chill for the evening.
Saturday was unfortunately quite rainy, but thankfully I also had some time off with my parents. Months earlier, Frace had asked if he could be swung on so that his family in the DC area could see him as Cash, and I was more than happy to oblige. I had the matinee off to see some sights with my parents, though the rain cramped our style a bit. We headed to Manassas, where 2 important Civil War battles took place. It poured most of the time we were there, but we were still able to enjoy the museum and take a driving tour of the grounds (above), including the Stone House that was used as a hospital and headquarters and various points. I was more than glad that we had the day to spend together, as my wrists seemed to be reacting pretty badly to the rain. Following our trip to the battlefield, we made our way through the pouring rain to get some Pho nearby our hotel. I was pretty tired after our sight seeing, so I wanted to get a bit of rest before the show that evening. I also knew I needed to head in early to pack up my trunk, as time was getting very short. I needed a bit of help putting a box together (thanks, Justin!!), but I got everything sorted in more than enough time to be ready for the show. Lane and Colin greeted me at the theatre that night, and presented me with the amazing plaque pictured above. I was pretty overcome with emotion, as it meant a lot to me that they took the time recognize David and I for our time with the show. They were also quite concerned about the boys and I having been in an accident, proving once again that the MDQ family is always there for you. We had an amazing show that night with Lane, Colin, Erica from Broadway Across America, and a slew of other people in the audience. Due to the load out the following night, the company opted to throw us our closing night party on Saturday. So once we all got back from the theatre, we went our separate ways to change before heading to the nearby restaurant. I picked up my parents, clad in black (in the most appropriate attire I could muster), and headed to meet up with everyone. It was a really great spread, and it was so nice for everyone to be in the same place at the same time. I was able to introduce my parents to everyone in the cast and crew that they hadn't met yet, as well as Colin and his wife. They had some amazing food for us, and my parents sat and talked with various people while grazing on sliders, fish tacos and flat breads. They left shortly after midnight, and I spent the rest of the evening hanging with everyone who was left before making my way home. The rain had stopped, so I decided to take the short walk home by myself. Then, it was time to rest for the big day that followed.
It was very strange to wake up on Sunday morning, knowing full well that we would be closing the show for good that night. I met up with my parents briefly before the boys and I headed out for food and coffee, and for one of our last trips to the theatre. They had prepared me for how odd the matinee would be, as we would be in sunlight the entire time. The sunlight notwithstanding, we all had a great show. It was hard to believe that there was only one show left. The boys and I made our way back toward the hotel and ran a few errands before I met up with my parents for dinner. I was pretty tired, but I think because I was so wired and full of adrenaline and nerves for the final show, I really didn't notice. My parents and I headed to Firehouse Subs, a family favorite for a few years. We had a nice quick dinner, and then headed back to the hotel for a bit to get ready for the last show. I knew that it would be pretty emotional, as it had been the better part of my life for the last 4 years. But, all good things must come to an end. I grabbed coffee for the boys (and a banana for Jake), and we took our last trip to the theatre. I got ready early, as Meghan and I needed to start wig prep early in anticipation for our final company meeting. It was a bit surreal to have Meghan put my wig on for the final time. We shared a bit of a tear together before we made our way out the green room for the meeting. Most of us were pretty emotional, and it was a lot to take in. Chuck Mead arrived from Helena, MT that evening to join us, and we had decided that he would sit in with us and do one of his favorite covers Red Hot. We talked through it a bit with him as company management handed out our final tour gift: portable MDQ coolers. A functional and extremely appropriate gift considering our group. Once we had said a few words and wished each other well, we all went our separate ways to get ready for our final performance as a group. The closing audience didn't disappoint; and though I honestly had a really hard time making it through the "breakup scene" and much of the end of the show, in the end I was just glad to have given it my all with an amazing cast that had all become my family. The added bonus of letting loose with Chuck onstage was pretty amazing. Following the show, we all met up with Colin, Chuck, my parents and a few other friends and family before leaving the venue. Emotionally and physically exhausted, we all made the long drive back to our hotel. I spent some time with my parents before heading to the lobby for an informal hang with the rest of the cast and crew once they had completed load out. We were all pretty drained from the day and the rest of the week, and likewise most of us had an early morning as well all made our way to our respective homes. I split a bit early in favor of getting some rest before my trip home the following day. After a bit of shuttle trouble, I was well on my way back to Maine on Monday morning. And thus, tour is over.
In the following days and weeks, I spent some time at home in Maine with my family, clearing out a bunch of stuff and getting a storage unit to hold it. I have "moved" my things back into the room I grew up in, after not having slept in my bed for nearly a decade. I've been in the city for much of the month seeing friends, catching some live music and doing my best to lay low and enjoy my "vacation". In that time, I accepted and signed my contract to reprise my role from tour in the regional theatre premier of the show at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine under the direction of Broadway star (and original Broadway Sam Phillips) Hunter Foster. There will be a few familiar faces in the cast to MDQ fans, and I am really looking forward to this new opportunity.
I would be remiss in my blogging duties if I didn't take the time to remember all those that have been on tour with us in various capacities over the last few years. If I have forgotten anyone, please forgive me...and message me so I can fix it. Following that, there are some numbers for the final tally of cities, venues and performances.
Sam: Chris Grant, Vince Nappo, Bryan Langlitz
Carl: Lee Ferris, Rob Lyons, James Barry, Gabe Bowling
Jerry Lee: Martin Kaye, Levi Kreiss, Ben Goddard, John Countryman, Colte Julian
Cash: Derek Keeling, David Elkins, Scott Moreau
Elvis: Cody Slaughter, Tyler Hunter, Eddie Clendening, Jake Rowley
Dyanne: Kelly Lamont, Stephanie Lynn Mason, Laura Obenauf
Jay: Chuck Zayas, Corey Kaiser
Fluke: Billy Bob Schaeffer, Dan Leali, Patrick Morrow
Sam: Scott Moreau, Andrew Frace, Johnny Kinnaird
Carl: John Michael Presney, Dan Mills, Brad Waters
Jerry Lee: Austin Cook, Sean McGibbon, Jimmy Scheider
Cash: Scott Moreau, Andrew Frace, Billy Woodward
Elvis: Billy Woodward, Steve Benoit, Brandon Cody Wise, Robby Kipferl, Michael
Goodman, Skye Scott
Dyanne: Lisa Marie, Katie Barton, Stephanie Lynne Mason, Aly Bloom
Fluke and Jay: David Sonnenborn, Chris Johnson
Promos: Randy Redd, Matt Aronoff
That's 48 different cast members that joined us out on the road; some for only a short time, and some for multiple years. Now for the crew:
Crew: Jason "Dog" McGrath, Domenica Boscardin, Brian Kallaher, Phil Mathers, Josh Kozmicki, Ben Eels, Andy Iverson, Susan Malone, Dani Taylor, Henry Talarowski, Michael Krug, David Lober, Peter Van Dyke, Rachael Koss, Mary Anderson, Anthony Jones, Eric Briggs, Corey Kloos, Lou Riquelme, BJ Forman, Andrew Bacigalupo, Johnny Moore, Meghan Moore, Rob Virzera, Lauren Daisy, Nicole Laeger, Em Stam, Jason Carroll, Mitch Hodges, Dan Krohne
And, 31 members of the crew coming and going at various times.
Company management: Maia Sutton, Matt Sherr, Jillian Krohne, Melonie Harrison, Jeff Mensch, Justin Gleiberman
Now for some numbers about the tour. In 4 years we did 984 performances including previews and invited performances (495 for me, 466 of them as Cash), in 200 cities and 3 countries at 191 different venues.
And finally, I would just like to thank our general manager Lane Marsh, our creatives (Eric Schaeffer, Chuck Mead, Colin Escott, Floyd Mutrux, Scott Weinstein, August Eriksmoen, Ethan Deppe and David Ruttura), our producers (Ted Rollins, Gigi Pritzker, Erica Rotstein) and the amazing folks at Type A Marketing (Robin Steinthal, Melissa Cohen, John McCoy and Erica Jacobson) for all of their hard work and never-ending support. We never could have done this tour without you.
And with that, I will leave you with the knowledge that though the 1st National Tour of MDQ has closed and will be going out non union in the fall, this will not be the last you hear of me, or of any of our adventures with this show. I hope you will continue to check back for updates on my new production in Ogunquit, and that all of you out there in cyberspace are well. As always, thanks for reading.
Your loyal yet sometimes overdue blogger,