Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rocky Mountain dry, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, my 100th city on tour, our 700th show and sickness

Random big purple bear at the convention center

It's me!! Life sized!

Me and me!!

The Buell Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts

The cast and the first lady of Denver

My little ride for the day off

Our contribution to charity

The whole crew at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver

Cody and I talking to the creator of the DCPA

At rehearsal for our opening night surprise

Chicken and waffles at the Corner Office

Lee's guitar lesson

Frace's trip to Vegas

Second car of the trip; BMW

It's me and me again!

Hello kids, and welcome to yet another long, LONG overdue blog from yours truly. After having battled a bit of illness toward the end of our 2nd week in Denver and the schedule starting to get crazy again, I have had trouble finding down time to write; or a good enough internet connection to upload pictures and videos. So, at long last, here is my blog recapping our 2 weeks in the Mile High City! And, I might add, this is the 100th city I have visited on my 3 years of tour.  Pretty amazing. 

After a great week in Omaha, we took a pretty short flight into Denver. It was a bit of a drive to the hotel, but we were all glad to be planted at our hotel in the early afternoon. The weather was surprisingly warm and gorgeous; after unpacking and getting settled amongst the slew of other hotel guests, I ventured out (though not far) from the hotel for a coffee. In a blink of an eye and really only a few minutes, the weather went from low 60's to low 40's. So quickly that I had gotten an iced coffee, walked around a bit outside, and when the weather changed I instantly wished I had not had that iced coffee. After warming up a bit inside, I walked to Pizza Republica close by for a little nosh (and a healthy one, I might add), and then retired to the hotel bar for a little bit before turning in early.

Tuesday was a bit chilly, but I decided to venture out into the heart of Denver. After a brief and overdue workout, I wandered around 16th street taking in the shops, with the Hard Rock Cafe being my endgame. I walked in to buy my obligatory pins and to take a few pictures when I ran into our press reps, Heidi and Emily. They spotted me because of my not so incognito appearance (MDQ bag, Johnny Cash beanie) and took me on a little tour to show me where we would be performing and congregating the following day. They not only had quite a few Cash items on display (above), but the Hard Rock was partnering with the DCPA to display 2 large quartet displays (Carl and Elvis) at the Hard Rock and (Johnny and Jerry Lee) in the Buell Lobby. I got quite a few suggestions from the ladies about things to see in our immediate area, and after taking a few more pictures I ventured home to warm up before the show that night. We had a bit of a rehearsal (above) to work up Fools Fall In Love; an addition to our show for the evening in the finale, when we would be joined by the 1st lady of Denver! The rehearsal went quite well, as did opening night. She came out and sang with us, giving the audience a little more bang for their buck. After a photo op following the show (above), we all headed to the Lucky Strike bowling alley for a little company party. Our producers Ted and Gigi (whom I hadn't seen in quite a while) were throwing us the little soirĂ©e, and we also got to celebrate our prop man Cory Kloos' birthday. After some food and bowling a string, I headed back to the hotel early to prepare for extremely early press with John in the morning. 

The radio interviews on Wednesday went extremely well, and following that I tried to lay down and rest for a while, and I was moderately successful. After recharging I met the boys, m'am and press reps in the lobby to head over to play a live promo at the Hard Rock. It had been a bit of a long day already, but after sound check and some time to compose myself, we put on a hell of a show (see the full videos of each song below!). Following that we had a series of photo ops and interviews, and even got to meet the man who established the Denver Center for the Arts (see above). A nice meal and a short sit down later, and I was off to my hotel room to chill before the show that evening. Lee wasn't feeling all that hot, so Brad joined us for a great show that night. Most importantly, the day marked what would have been Johnny Cash's 82nd birthday. Along with wearing all black (duh) and paying tribute to his music on stage all day, I decided to invite a few people over to listen to music and watch a few videos. Patrick, Frace and I sat around mostly watching the Live at Folsom documentary video for most of the night, and I was glad to be able to share my love of Cash and birthday festivities with them. 

I walked the opposite direction that I had on 16th street to start my Thursday, and got a delightful lunch at Blue Sushi before heading to the Mecca of all western shirt stores: Rockmount Ranchwear. Though most of their shirts are quite expensive, they are one of a kind and made outstandingly well. After shopping around for a bit (and having the owner check the brand of the shirt I was wearing out of curiosity, I left with a new western and headed back to the hotel. Lee was still not feeling up to snuff, so Brad joined us for another performance, which, having been in his shoes before, is always good to get a little momentum and go on for a couple of shows in a row. Following that, quite a few of us headed to a different part of town to catch a gig; Corey and Patrick joined Eddie Clendening (the original Broadway Elvis, and our cast mate for our 3 weeks in Toronto). Gary Lee's was a great little venue, with some amazing food, and friends to boot. I was joined by Robby, Frace, Robby V, Katie, and Corey's wife Jenn. Later, Brad and Cody stopped by. Eddie even asked a couple of us up to do a couple of tunes, and I launched into a bit of Johnny's Cry Cry Cry. After a long but awesome night there, we retired to cabs and finally our hotel. 

After the busy Thursday, I laid low a bit on Friday before heading to a favorite chain for lunch that I hadn't seen since the first time we were in DC: Zoup. After a warm bowl of soup and a sandwich I headed back to chill inside before the show that night. Lee was feeling better enough to come back, and while Cody was out of town for a couple days, Robby joined us as Elvis that evening. After a great show, I headed back to the hotel and Robby, Frace and I hung out while awaiting the arrival of Frace's brother Matt. Once he arrived, the four of us along with Brad and Cody headed next door to play a little pool at Tarantula's. 

Saturday was relatively straight forward with two shows. In between I went to "observe" a quick rehearsal for the Thunderstudy boys (which will become important later on in the blog); they had been asked to do a medley of songs that we had not yet performed, so I was just there to help if need be; and they were spot on, needing no assistance from me. Following another great show that night (and actually for dinner prior to the rehearsal) I went to Row 14 for a salad. On the recommendation of a friend, I got the boar salad; I was not steered wrong. And upscale little place with amazing food and great service, I would stop in quite a few times before our stay was over.

Sunday was another 2 show day. Robby was on for the first, and Cody returned in time to do the second. Between shows I headed to Snarfs sandwich shop for dinner, and following a great week of shows approaching a glorious day off in the city, the boys and I headed back to Tarantula's. That night marked Kelly's last night on stage with us for a week, and the beginning of Katie's last week on tour with us. Prior to the show we all met in the green room to wish Katie well on her new journey and present her with a few gifts from the producers and cast/crew. 

It was wonderful to have a full day off without travel on Monday. I decided to get a Zipcar (sort of like a rental car, but much easier and able to be renter hourly; check it out at My little Mini Cooper (above) took me all around town for the day. First I headed out to Coors Field where the Rockies play (above) and visited their team store. I then drove across town to visit the Molly Brown House and museum; unfortunately, it wasn't open. So, I stopped in for a bite at a little sandwich place called Sub Culture, took a few pictures of the house's exterior, and then headed off to get a few things at the Cherry Creek Mall. I headed back to the hotel, dropped off my car, and hunkered down for a bit before the eventful night ahead. For the last two months or so, our talented Thunderstudies had been working tirelessly to put together a set list for a gig, and had found a venue to host it in Denver! I met up with Robby and headed to get some food at a popular place we had heard quite a bit about; unfortunately it was WAY too busy. So we turned around and headed to the Corner Office for dinner. A cool little place constructed somewhat like a boardroom with menus on clipboards and the daily specials on post it notes. I got an awesome plate of chicken and waffles, and we had a good time chatting about the gig that night. We walked back the hotel, and after grabbing his gear we caught a cab to the gig at the Bannock Street Garage. Droves of people started showing up, including some dear friends I had worked with at Seaside Music Theatre in 2007. After setting up (and me doing my best to set up multiple cameras to film the gig) Mile Marker 5 took the stage and rocked out for the next couple of hours. We were all so proud to see the boys and m'am rock out, and it was a wonderful way to give Katie a bit of a send off, as well as celebrate her birthday a bit early. (See the video below)

The boys and I were picked up for a little press on Tuesday morning and headed to a great bookstore, the Tattered Cover (pictures above and a video below). We did a talkback with quite a few people that had seen the show, and a few that gotten tickets for later in the week. It was moderated by John Moore (who's great black and white photos from the Hard Rock are featured above) and the patrons asked some really great, in depth questions. Following that, the press team took us next door to Udi for lunch. I had a delightful chicken and mango salad. We had some great conversations, and I learned that the Denver Center would be doing a pre-Broadway premiere of a show very near and dear to my heart, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. After lunch, the team was nice enough to accompany Lee and I to Twist and Shout Records nearby; and amazing record shop similar to Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. I bought a few things for Frace, and pined for the complete collection of Johnny Cash American Recordings they had on vinyl. We headed back to the hotel and I chilled for a while before heading to the theatre for an eventful night and an even more eventful week. Because of Katie leaving following the week, and Kelly's vacation, we welcomed a new member to our little tour family, Stephanie Lynne Mason, who had understudied Dyanne in Las Vegas as part of the original company there. It also marked Katie's birthday AND our 700th show on tour; as I said, a pretty monumental day. The show went extremely well, and afterward I ventured back to my new favorite place, Row 14, and later joined the boys and Stephanie at Tarantula for some convo and billiards. Along with everything else, I learned that my impending day off on Thursday for Frace to be swung on was now cancelled. It seems they were having a lack of Sam Phillips' out in Vegas, so they planned to fly him out to play the role. Thus changing all of our schedules for the week.

Wednesday started very early. Because Frace was on his way to Vegas, I was asked to do the promo that the Thunderstudies has prepared the medley for. We had an early morning soundcheck before an afternoon performance, so we all got up and ventured to a large space at the DCPA for our check, and then I headed home to shower and get ready. I stopped in to Mod for another great salad before heading back to the venue to perform for an arts awards banquet. It went quite well! I went home to hibernate before heading to work that night. And after another good show, my evening transpired the same as the night before. 

I was determined to be able to tour the Molly Brown house, so I woke up pretty early on Thursday to do so. I had reserved another Zipcar, but because of a parking issue, I ended up with a BMW instead of the Ford Focus I had reserved; I wasn't complaining. I headed off to the area I had previously visited, stopped in for another great sub at Sub Culture, and too the tour of the house. It was just gorgeous; unfortunately, they don't allow pictures inside, so you'll just have to take the tour yourself. But, it was interesting to confirm a lot that I already knew; the musical bearing her name is highly historically inaccurate, but nevertheless, I love it. Along with the promo the day before, I was asked to do Thunderstudy rehearsal in Frace's absence. It went quite well, and after heading home to chill before the show, headed back to work that night. The show had a bit of a weird vibe to it, but still came off pretty well. I spent my evening chatting with Lee, Katie, Stephanie and David in the lobby bar. 

And the inevitable happened on Friday....I woke up sick. It's the first time it has happened on tour, but very poorly timed. With no real ability to call out with Frace out of town, I resigned myself to the fact that I would pull myself up by the boot straps and make it through the weekend come hell or high water. I stayed in my room most of the day and watched a great documentary I had been meaning to buy, The Standbys. It follows 3 Broadway standbys and their trials and tribulations and daily lives. I highly suggest it to anyone who is confused as to what a standby really does; it is a great look at that life, of which I only had a taste of for 2 years...for some performers it is a way of life. I also did a phone interview during the day before heading to the theatre. Though I wasn't feeling great, I made it through the show without an issue, and went to the lobby to start collections for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Rather than drag on the rest of this blog, suffice to say it was a struggle to get through the double weekend, and when I was not on stage I was either sleeping or eating comfort food. Following Frace's return to Denver and personal day with his girlfriend Haley who joined him for the full week, he finished the week out as Sam for our final show in Denver. We raised a staggering $4,200 PER SHOW over 5 shows for BC/EFA over the weekend, which was pretty amazing. I was a little bummed that I hadn't been able to explore the city as much as I had liked, but I needed to focus on getting better.

So, there's the long overdue Denver blog! I hope to have the next installment done in the next day, so I hope you enjoy all of the reading material, pictures and videos! 

Blue Suede Shoes

Folsom Prison Blues

I Hear You Knockin'

Hound Dog

Brown Eyed Handsome Man

See Ya Later, Alligator 

Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On

The boys and m'am of Mile Marker 5 doing Midnight Rider

Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line and band introductions 

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