Thursday, January 24, 2013

"With a firm reliance on divine Providence"

Yay!  The picture uploader is fixed!
Hello, everyone!  I hope this blog finds you well, and that for those of you in the East, you are doing you best to stay warm.  As for the title to this blog.....I hope you can tell me from which important historical document it comes....
It was a quick, but very cold week for me in Providence.  We arrived on a balmy Monday afternoon, and I laid pretty low that evening, save a trip to the mall next door.  My week was spent, primarily, getting ready for my Johnny Cash tribute show, Walkin' The Line.  However, I was able to see the sights a bit, and sample at least a smidege of what Providence had to offer. 
During the day on Tuesday I walked around a bit and took in some of the beautiful architecture in Providence.  Later in the evening, I made my way to the Providence Performing Arts Center; what an amazingly gorgeous theatre.  Built in the early 1920's it's one of the many historic Loew's theatres that are still in existence.  It's also one of the many theatres we visit that have murals for each show that has come through there for the last few years.  It's not only cool to look at all of the murals and see what famous performers have been through each city, but also to see so many friends who have passed through in various shows.  The most interesting part of opening night in Providence was that Jam and I took part in a new revolution of theatre going: Tweet seats.  During the show, the two of us were on Twitter, messaging back and forth with patrons in the back row as they watched.  It was really interesting to see their comments AS the show was going on, and it even landed me an intereview with the Associated Press!  How cool is that?  I'll make sure to let you all know when it comes out. 
Wednesday was spent, yet again, preparing for my show.  On Thursday, we had a rehearsal on stage (pictured above) that was very different from our usual rehearsals.  Austin had us all sit in a cirlce, and we basically just jammed through the show; passing verses and solos back and forth.  It was a great way to just kinda find our groove as a band, and also for everyone to remember that THAT is what that night really was; just a bunch of guys sitting around and sharing their love for music.  My parents and 3 of their friends came in that day, because I went on as Sam Phillips that evening.  As long as I have been on tour, and as many times as my parents have seen the show, they had never seen me as Sam.  So, it was a treat for me to not only perform (it had been nearly 7 months since I had been on as Sam), but also for my parents to see me do something completely different. 
On Friday, I said goodbye to my parents and spend a good amount of the day with Ben, our new Jerry Lee.  Talking about the show, our philosophies on theatre, and then seeing Django Unchained.  Damn.  Talk about a great movie. 
Again on Saturday, I prepared for my show.  Susan was nice enough to help me clean up my motorcycle boots, and to alter my "show" pants.  She is truly a saint.  I packed everything up as I left the theatre that night, and got ready for my early flight to Arizona the next morning. 
I'm writing you now from Mesa, AZ, where I have done 3 peformances of my tribute show, with one more tonight, and one Saturday.  But, I'll talk more about that in my next blog.  I have to say though, it's very strange to know that my tour peeps are still trucking along, and that I am not with them.  But, I'll be joining them again in just a few short days, so it will be a very nice reunion. 
Well, that's about it from Providence, but I hope this finds all of you well.  More next week about my show, and then I rejoin the tour in Hershey, PA!  See y'all soon!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Breakfasts come and go, Renee. But Hartford? The Whale? Hey, they only beat Vancouver..once, maybe twice in a lifetime"

Not so pleased that the picture uploader still isn't working.....grrrrrrrrrr

Click here to see my pictures from Hartford on my Facebook page!

Oh well!!  I hope everyone is well!  Nothing like starting off a blog with a quote from one of my favorite movies, Mallrats.  It was a great week in Hartford!  I wish I had some crazy stories or lots of exciting news for you....but I don't.  In fact, there's one way to sum up my free time in Hartford.

Hot dogs.

Now, I know what you are thinking...."What does he mean, hot dogs?  Like, he just sat around and ate hot dogs?'

Yes.  Yes I did. 

Ok, that's not all I did.  I think that with the long stretch in DC and the holidays, we were all looking for a quiet week.  Though Hartford is a great little city, I would have to say that the majority of the cast didn't really do a whole lot.  And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. 

Opening night marked the first show for our new boys, James Barry as Carl Perkins and Ben Goddard as Jerry Lee Lewis.  The audience in Hartford ate the show up.  It was just what those boys needed to give them a little confidence, and really give them a warm welcome to our family.  I really can't say enough good things about these guys.  I couldn't have hand picked two more talented and personally amazing guys to come on tour.  Just a great attitude, professional work ethic, and a passion for performing.  We couldn't be happier to have them out here with us. 

Now to the important part of the week.....Woody's Hot Dogs.  Good lord.  If I lived in Hartford, I would probably eat there every day, and thus, I would weigh 700 or 800 pounds.  All of their hot dogs are foot long, and the buns are prepared on the grill....they come out looking more like a perfectly made grilled cheese sandwich than a hot dog bun.  They have tons of amazing dogs on the menu: I tried the Chicago, the Saint Bernard (kraut, swiss cheese and deli mustard), the Reuben (kraut, swiss and thousand island dressing), the Baked Bean (just like it sounds...New England Baked Beans on a dog), and my own concoction of pulled pork and slaw.  However, the dog they are famous for, and undoubtedly the best hot dog I have ever had in my life, was the Deputy Dog: topped with home-made pulled pork, melted cheddar cheese and barbecue sause.  Wow.  Just unreal.  I made fast friends with the owners (I went there 5 times), and they even took a picture with me!  If you are in the area, go there, get a dog, and look for me on the wall!  Just some amazing people serving up fantastic food.  Gotta love it. 

The majority of the cast also attended an open mic night at a local bar, The Russian Lady.  Steve Benoit, Jam and Billy all got up and did a few original tunes and covers.  Kelly sang as well, and I decided to get up and do a couple.  It was great to hang out with everyone in a place like that and be able to yes, sing, but to do something very different than we all do in the show.  And quite frankly, Steve did the best cover of Neil Young's Heart of Gold that I've ever heard.  Complete with harmonica. 

So, that's about it for the events from Hartford.  I'm a little behind on my blog this week, as I write this to you on my final night in Providence, RI.  I will write one for this week as soon as I can....I've been a bit preoccupied with getting ready for the events of next week.....and now to let the cat out of the bag....

I'm heading to Phoenix, AZ tomorrow to premiere my Johnny Cash tribute show, Walkin' The Line.  I've been working on it for quite some time, so it's crazy to finally see it come to fruition.  Hopefully it will be well received, and I'll be posting clips from it once the week is over.  It's going to be a crazy, stressful, yet exciting week.  Thanks to those of you who keep reading, and again, I apologize for not having any direct pictures up there!  I'm trying to find out from Blogger what the problem is.  Anyway, enjoy, and I'll be back as soon as I can!  Wish me and my show luck!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The holidays, our 400th show and another changing of the guard in our Nation's Capitol

First of all.....sorry there are no pictures this week!!!  Ironically, I took about 500 pictures in DC, but the uploader for my blog doesn't seem to be working.  I'll add some to this one as soon as it works!!!
Click here to see my pictures on my Facebook page..

Hello all!  I know it's been quite a long time since I've written, but that's because we were in Washington, DC for three full weeks.  It was pretty eventful, so I'll do the best I can at remembering all that happened, though it may not be in any particular order.

The first week, I laid pretty low, because I knew that the holidays would be pretty busy and eventful...what with shows and a visit from Amy and my parents.  I've been to DC quite a bit over the years; my parents and I have been there with my brother numerous times on vacations, and I even went there for a week when I had time off from tour last April.  It's one of those cities, like NYC, where people think you can see everything in a's just not possible.  Even a week isn't really enough time to see "everything".  There are so many museums, monuments, historic places....the city is almost endless.  Especially if you depart from the usual "tourist attractions".  Because I had been there so recently, I decided to take the first week to just get used to being in the city, and not really do any sight seeing; other than the fact that after years of visiting there I have seen almost all there is to see, I wanted to wait and visit a lot of places with Amy and my parents. 

As the first week continued, we had a few rehearsals with our new Carl Perkins, James Barry.  He continued to shine and grow and learn the ins and the outs of the show every single day.  We also gave a warm welcome back to Steve Benoit who is joining us for the month.  He was out with us last year as the Elvis/Cash cover while Billy took over the role of Elvis for Cody.  This time is no exception.  Our first week in DC was the last for Cody for a bit, but he'll be joining us again in February.  It's so great to be able to watch Billy go on for a month; the Thunderstudies are all very supportive of each other, and to watch him shine makes us all proud. 

Through a random coincidence, the 25th Anniversary National Tour of Les Miserables was not only in DC for the first two weeks we were in town, but they were also staying at our hotel.  So, I was able to reunite with a couple of my buddies from years past that are on the tour, and another old friend of mine who was just joining the tour as we arrived.  It was great to reminisce a bit, but also to appreciate the success we have enjoyed since last we saw each other. 

As the week drew to a close, we were approaching the holidays.  Eric, aka Mr. Phillips, our director, invited us to his house over the Potomac River in Arlington, VA.  It was such a warm, cozy place to be on a cold and rainy (almost snowy) night.  And, it was nice to feel like we were a family at a home away from home.  Christmas Day was a bit lonely; I've been away from home for the last 11 Christmases, and it's starting to feel just like every other day.  I took myself out for Chinese buffet, and then headed to the theatre for the show.  Since I haven't talked about it yet....The Kennedy Center.  It's really an honor to be at a theatre that so many legends have performed at.  It is a MASSIVE complex: 4 (I think) theatres, a huge concourse, mulitple restaurants, and a giant lobby for all of the theatres.  It was a pleasure to be there for 3 weeks, even if we didn't have any WiFi....

Amy arrived the day after Christmas, and my parents arrived two days later.  I had two seperate Christmases with each new arrival, so that certainly made up for being alone on Christmas day.  Rehearsals continued, as James continued to work hard and get ready to step in as Carl Perkins.  Amy and I tried to get in to see my friends in Les Mis on the 27th, but the tickets were just too expensive.  Instead, we walked by the White House in the bitter cold, and then took a cab across town to see the movie, Les Mis.  I was pretty awstruck and overcome by the sheer grandness of the movie.  I told her I would probably cry like a child....and I did. 

Following rehearsal the next day, my parents arrived.  They and Amy saw our show Saturday night which happened to be our 400th show on tour, and the next day I went on as Cash for the matinee!  So, they saw two shows in a row, and were able to see me perform, which was an unexpected bonus.  Monday was my day to spend with my 3 visitors, so we headed out to Arlington National Cememtery in Virginia, just across the river from the Lincoln Memorial.  I hadn't been there in quite a long time, so it was great to go back.  One of the most amazing things about Arlington is seeing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Through rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain and heat, these men guard these fallen soldiers.  Their ritual is one that has existed for more than half a century, and it is an honor to be chosen to guard the tomb.  Walking around in the cold for hours made us all quite hungry, so we headed back to Capitol Hill, and went to a place Amy had suggested, Tune In; a Captiol Hill instution since the 40's.  The food was great.  My dad said he had the BEST seafood alfredo he had ever had.  Who'd a thunk?  From there, we drove to the FDR Memorial, which I also hadn't seen in quite a while.  It really is quite breathtaking, and vast.  By that point it was dark, quite cold, and I needed to head to work.  So, we headed home, and I took the trek to the Kennedy Center. 

The following day, Tuesday, I said goodbye to my parents as they journeyed back home to Maine, with a stop in my favorite state (not) New Jersey along the way.  Amy and I headed to the Smithsonians on the National Mall.  First we went to the Museum of Natural History, and then the American History Museum.  I'm pretty sure I had never been to the American museum, and their exhibits on American wars were quite stunning.  Unfortunately, a lot of the museum was shut down for no Mr. Roger's sweater of Fonze's jacket for us. 

As the week began to grow short, so did Amy's time with me.  Unfortunately, she started feeling quite ill as well.  So really, Wednesday was the last day that we really went sight seeing.  That day we tackled the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, The World War II Memorial, The Vietnam Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, and took in the renovations of the Reflecting Pool as well.  I never knew there was anything IN the Lincoln Memorial; there is a small exhibit downstairs that we were able to see for the first time, and I even visited the gift shop and bought a pin! 

Thursday we ventured out for a bit and took a tour of Ford's Theatre where President Lincoln was well as the house he died in across the street.  They have really done a great job with all of the renovations, and making a beautiful museum in each space. 

As the week drew to a close, we also welcomed Ben Goddard to our MDQ Tour family.  Ben was the original Jerry Lee on the West End, and great friends with Rob Lyons.  It's kinda funny that we ended up trading one British Jerry Lee for another.....and he is gonna do just fine.  A great guy, immensely talented, and very eager to do a great job and become part of our family.  Welcome, Ben. 

Our final show in DC marked another parting of ways....Martin Kaye, who had been with us from our beginnings in September of 2011, and Rob Lyons who had joined us just 6 short weeks prior left us that day.  They are going to Las Vegas to become part of the brand new Original Las Vegas Cast of MDQ.  We will miss our boys, but we are excited for their new opportunity, and spreading the love of MDQ all over the country!

I'm writing you currently from Hartford, CT.  It's a bit cold, but I love being back in New England.  Trying not to hibernate, and actually get some work done for my upcoming project......more on that when the time comes. 

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season, and that the new year is treating you well.  More from the East Coast next week!!