Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Trails, dear friends

Hello all!  I hope this new blog finds you all well!  It has been a busy couple of weeks.  Very eventful, and a lot of mixed emotions flying around.  The boys have been in rehearsal quite a bit these last two weeks, so they have had a lot more busy days than I have....but more on that later.  Before I get tot the more maudlin part of the blog, I'll tell you all that I have been up to.
It was pretty cool in Ft. Lauderdale, and as I am not that big of a beach person, I really didn't get out to the beach; I know that's most people's priority when being in a place like that, but other than busy and, honestly, very stressed, I had a lot going on, and the beach was not my first priority.  The first week in Ft. Lauderdale, we did a good amount of press for the first few days.  Our tv commercials and intereviews were of course eclipsed by the Presidential election, but we made the most of it and did our best to get the good word out about MDQ.  Above you'll see some pictures of me and the boys on tv.  We had an interesting adventure after our tv Benihana.  Always a good place to take a vegan, a person who is staying gluten free, a guy who is allergic to EVERYTHING, and an omnivore like me.  Let's just say, it was an experience.  After election night, the audiences started filling up, which brightened our experience immesely.  I ate most of my meals in the Mexican restaurant at the hotel (as did pretty much everyone else) and Chipotle.  Cody just loves that Chipotle. 
The second week started out pretty busy with a visit from my parents, and my lady Amy, who came to visit from Cocoa Beach.  It was great to be able to spend time with her and my family, and to really get to know her.  She is extremely supportive and sweet, and certainly helped me through my stressful week by just being there to listen.  The four of us took a wonderful cruise on Veteran's Day around the canals of Ft. Lauderdale.  Known as the "Venice of Florida", there are a series of canals dotted with multi million dollar and yachts.  We even got to see Stephen Spielberg's $300 million yacht.  WOW.  Just immense and beautiful.  I think I'll get one....
We actually had a pretty hard time finding things to do that day because of the holiday, but Amy found a link for the cruise we ended up taking, so I have to give her the credit for that; otherwise, I don't know what we would've done that day.  We also walked around the Las Olas shopping area and got some amazing gelato. MMM.  Gelato. 
The next morning, we headed to the Bonnet House; it's been there since the early 1900's, and is quite breathtaking (pictures above).  When my parents come to visit, that is the type of thing we have found ourselves doing.  But, that's great.  We really enjoy seeing some of the history of the towns I find myself in.  And, the place was stunning.  So, that helped. 
The cast was visited by a celebrity in Ft. of my favorite singers of all time: Dion of Dion and the Belmonts (pictured above).  He came back and chatted with us after the show, and we were all humbled to hear him praise our show, and even tell us an amazing story about meeting his wife, with whom he is celebrating 50 years of marriage.  It's pretty amazing to think back on all of the people who have seen our show, and that we have had the immense pleasure to meet.  But this time, I was performing, which gave me a better opportunity to thank him for his influence on me, and to get a photo opportunity.   
Now on to the more serious and weighty part of the blog.....
The last week in Ft. Lauderdale truly marked the end of an era.  A changing of the guard, if you will.  One of our electricians, Dan Krohne and his new bride Jillian who was on our company management team.  Dani Taylor, Robbie V's girlfriend joined our crew, though, which is a great thing.  We spent quite a bit of time with her when she came with us to Japan, so it was like a big reunion.  Lee, Chris and Chuck all left us after closing night as well.  I'm sure for some people it doesn't seem like a big deal for people to move on; but these people have been with us for 14 months.  Other than being talented, valuabel assets to the show, we have all become friends, and really more like a family.  The closing show was pretty hard for us all to get through.  I would be lying if I said it was easy for me to step down as Cash.  If you know me at all, you know that playing Johnny is much more than a show or a role for me.  I have a deep personal connection to his music, and to his life.  And going on in that role is something I will never forget or change for anything.  But, knowing that I had to step back down was not easy to deal with.  My comfort lies in the fact that I love this show more than anything.  And I know what my role in this company and family is.  So, I know that I did what was asked of me for three weeks, and can step back and look at that as a personal success and move back to the daily life I know so well as an understudy, and to be supportive of our new cast members.  But, like I said, saying goodbye to people who have become some of my closest friends was just icing on the sadness cake.  We will miss those boys every day....but, we have some great new people with us.  So, like I have said a lot this week, with every ending comes a new beginning....and it will never be "goodbye"; it's just "til next time". 
As I said last week, David Elkins joined our tour as Johnny Cash.  He has been in rehearsal day and night, and working very hard to get ready for opening in Greenville.  We are all excited to see him rise to the occasion.  Vince Nappo joined us the first week in Lauderdale as our new Sam Phillips.  He brings a lot of experience to the role, and again, we are all ready to see him step into Sam's shoes and shine.  Rounding out MDQ 2.0 are Corey Kaiser and Rob Lyons.  Corey joins us as Brother Jay, the bass player, not far removed from his run with the show at New World Stages Off-Broadway, and before that the Original Broadway Cast at the Nederlander.  Rob is certainly no stranger to the role of Carl Perkins; he originated the role, and has been a part of every encarnation of MDQ.  He has performed in all of the pre-Broadway stints, Broadway, Off-Broadway, and even opened the London production.  I feel like I've been watching him perform for years.  I've looked up to him for quite a while.  I had the pleasure of meeting him after seeing the show at New World on our first day of rehearsals in NYC, more than a year ago.  He's a great guy, and an amazing Carl. 
Last but not least, our Production Stage Manager, David Lober leaves us after opening night in Greenville.  It's so hard to lose all of these dear friends at once.  But, he is leaving to stage manage Matilda on Broadway, so we can't exactly blame him.  Replacing him is Peter Van Dyke, who has immense touring experience, and has even toured with David.  We are all excited to work with him, and see what new dynamic he adds to the group. 
Before I get too sappy and sad, I will end talk of departures and arrivals there....but suffice to say, it has been an emotionally hard couple of weeks for us all. 
We opened last night in Greenville, and the boys did a fine job!  The audience was raucous and great, and it really made all of our new boys feel right at home I think....but more on that next week! 
I will leave you with a link to the Jam's new record.  It was released today on iTunes, and I urge you to buy it.  He's a great singer-song writer, and the EP is just fantastic.  Not only that, but the artwork is done by our very own Billy Woodward, and Austin, Billy Bob, Lee and Chuck all perform on it.  It's a must have.  So, click the link below and support my buddies!  Until next week, please have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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