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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 day.....it'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 renovation....so 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 shot....as 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!!