My life on the road of the 1st National Tour of the Broadway musical Memphis.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hello hello and hello,

So here we are in Cleveland, and I get to feel semi domestic cause I am in an apt for the next 2 weeks, so I've gotten to go grocery shopping, and cook my own healthy food, and hang out in my living room, YAAAAY!.
Everyone was excited to get and a bit scared to be here. We have our first day off since Christmas next monday. A real actual Golden day. No traveling, no loading out, just a full day of rest. Praise God. Which especially is much needed for our crew. In fact lots of them are totally taking advantage of the situation, by going on vacations. Actually this is the season that vacationing has really picked up. So things are even more crazy.
Now the reason why we are all scared is because this is the official first theatre that we shouldn't be in at all. There is no crossover space on stage, we have to travel under the stage thru the basement, and then go up a single person flight of spiral stairs. A couple of Fly pieces have been cut, and we've even had to have a 2hr rehearsal to re-block and restage entrances and exits. So we're not doing the show that we set out with, which is kinda ridiculous. And our poor crew doubled the usual load in time cause of it.
But the show must go on, and we opened last night.We actually got thru it, though we had some mistakes cause of the new changes the show was a hit of course. The only real thing that messed up was the stairs not moving in for the last scene in act 1. So we all had to improvise and act our faces off. Kudos goes out to Rhett George as gator.

I have my doctors appt today for my knees, it's going to be a journey getting up there, wish me luck!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Good words

So here we are about to finish our week in Greenville South Carolina with our last 2 shows, and there's really been nothing to report. I had to call out yesterday and take 2 shows off to rest my knees and my ankles cause there was some weird buckling going on friday night in the show, which almost caused me a big accident in the Radio dance break. But I'm back in today. (here's a clip from an old bway cast)

Matt with his beautiful girl Evie.
The absolute highlight for me was being approached by our head carpenter, and Crew Cheif Matt, about being someone who can keep him accountable for going to the gym, and not letting him slack off. It has been great having someone to count on you, someone you have to get up for to not let down, someone who needs you to be on so that you can encourage them. What was also nice about it was, the Y was about a mile and a half walk away so we would use that time to walk and warm up for our work out, but also to talk and spend quality time getting to know each other. He told me how discouraged the crew can get at times, and how it brings him down, so I asked him how could I encourage him,( knowing that effecting the head, can change the body), and you know what he said to me, "you already are."
 I felt awesome.

Oh and get this, apparently they don't know what the doctor saw on Treys xray, but he doesn't have a single broken bone, and all the time he spent off his foot really did well healing his ankle and he's walking again! I miss my li'l bro. Good now we can get back to our extreme parkour training! (google it)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

So here we are in Greenville South Carolina, and Let me say that it has been a very refreshing experience so far. This town is very cute, and came as a big shock to me. They have this beautiful waterfall park thats a block away from the theatre down town which is a perfect serene place to have a soul searching devotional.

Though the marketing department has done an absolute piss poor job advertising ,(there's not even a poster on the theatre of our show!!), there has been good and responsive audiences. Now they are just mediocre in terms of interaction but because Naples was so bad, we almost seem overwhelmed.

The only thing that has made this week unbearable is the fact that the conservative radio dj is back in my booth ruining the beginning of the show, and standing in front of me during the curtain call. I am soo annoyed.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Florida ending part 2

Yes the sunshine has been really great, and for the most part everyone has been feeling great. All the crew has been wearing shorts backstage, the girls have been wearing sundresses and bikinis, and folks our wearing flip flops and sandals. Of course with the sun comes sun burn, and tan lines, so half of the main street cast(white folks ;)), are red as lobsters, or on there way to looking like us beale streeters.
Some folks have even gotten talked too about being out in the sun too long ruining the look for the show, and of course thats already on top of the ill feeling of the sun burn.

But what was thought to maybe the best 2 weeks on tour so far, has turned out to be a very sour and sore spot for our tour.
For some reason this has become the place where a lot of folks have become un happy. We are now dealing with such crazy situations that multiple people have felt that there best option is resigning. So March is going to be one uncomfortable month for the life of this show.
In fact, Just yesterday I was sitting on the back of the loading dock next to Kent in silence just trying to figure out how to keep out of all the drama.

Also  our Beautiful dancer Brie is going to have to get surgery for her hip which she hurt back in rehearsal for this show, which means she will be out for a bit til she heals, and friday night I did something to my ankle which has started causing me pain. Though I've decided to stay for the next 6 month contract despite not being paid the value of what I'm giving, and what I should be, The determing issue may be if my body can hold out. This show is ridiculously strenuous on our bodies, and our management is not valuing us and taking care of us as they should be out here on the road, especially with so few of us.

So Florida has become bitter sweet.  Pray for grace on us ya'll

Florida ending part 1

Well Life here in Sunny florida, is finally coming to a close, and maybe for the best.

Everyone was really excited about coming down to the warmth for 2 weeks. I have to admit it has felt like a mini vacation being here in the 80's and wearing shorts, and all the fun in the sun we had. I got to run around Disney World twice, once each week, go play all day riding roller coasters at Bush Gardens,  Celebration station ,and go outlet shopping!

Going back to Disney was a trip. As I said before, this was the first time back in 10 yrs, and emotions, and memories flooded me, and almost over took me some. A lot of that happened as we went to the Animal Kingdom park.  I spent so much time there cause I was in the Festival of the Lion King show there. In fact Evan still had friends who were in the show, so we got a special VIP showing of the show and meet afterward, and it was astounding to me that there were still people in the show from 10 YEARS AGO!!! You know I ended my time at Disney not being in the show cause I got disapproved cause my kicks were too high, and I was dancing too hard, and I am SOO Glad! God clearly had better plans for me. But it was a blast to see the show again, and be in that space, it reminded me that I had danced for Star Jones on Thanksgiving that fall I was there! hahahaha I'm on her home videos baby!
 As we were walking around, I caught myself falling waay behind cause I was just stopping and looking around and recalling funny situations, reminiscing about the crazy times I had there. Remembering the parade route and how much fun I had dancing like a fool being a banner carrier at the end of the whole thing. hahahahahahah man that just made me laugh out loud. Also this park was the place I had most of my time being "friends" with Eeyore. (and yes that is code) So as we past the boat dock where the Pooh friends were out, I immediately had to deviate from whatever plan we were on, and race down the path to see them, and especially my great close old friend. I swear I could cry now, like I almost did then just thinking about the time spent there hugging people, effecting hearts,  and making dreams come true. It almost over took me waiting inline to see Eeyore. It also feels me with such a feeling of innocence, cause I was in such a different place then, with so much potential, and so much going for me. Maybe thats why its so emotional, cause it was a place in my life where I didn't have the consequences of 10 yrs of good and bad life choices. Hind sight is 20/20 yes. But I praise God he is still looking out for me, and loves me.

We had an almost full cast day at Bush Gardens. It was just a day full of running around from coaster to coaster trying to beat the herds of spanish teenage girls screaming and chanting songs. But I have to admit seeing the animals there in that environment, felt absolutely wrong. As I visit zoos and aquariums around the country, more and more do I feel conflicted about how I feel towards these captured environments.
Since it was an amusement park day I of course allowed myself to have one crazy junk food, and you better believe I got the jumbo sized powered sugar funnel cake, of course atop with whipped cream. Oh yes. Of course it was kinda the only thing I had eaten all day(disclaimer, not a balanced diet). And on top of that I had to shove it down, and eat it as we were racing to get to the one dinner theater so we could watch the Burn the floor park show, which was totally hot! ( and so was the guy from italy) ;)

Of course you can't forget our total fun day at celebration station!! Man I wish I had one of these in my area growing up! I'm thinking maybe making this apart of my bachelor party, hmm???

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The unexpected tour enhancer.

Waay back in September of last year when we started rehearsal, little did I know that the 13yr old son of one of the cast mates, who was always hovering outside the rehearsal rooms, playing games and doing homework, Would become one of my saving graces on this tour.

After immediately talking with them, I got extremely excited, cause Mama(that's her name in the show and thats what we call her), was telling me how she home schools Trey, and we agreed that I could help in the process, kind of be the cool teacher so to speak. I love teaching, inspiring, encouraging, being a mentor for someone, it kind of turns my heart on.
 So what it's become now is cool field trips to all the aquariums and science centers and museums we can find, that are worth going too.

Hanging out with Trey has been awesome! This kid is so amazing, and I feel the roles have been reversed and I learn from him all the time. His mother has totally raised him right, he's like a little man with great character. The one thing I fear though is because he's surrounded by all these older people all the time, he forgets that he's allowed to just be a kid, so I make sure we have fun, and fool around on our excursions.

We've had to put the running around on hold cause my poor little buddy's on crutches. he fell down the steps at the Fox theatre in Atlanta, stupid uneven balcony stairs. What we thought was just a sprained ankle turned out to be a broken heel.  We thought he would at least get a cool cast, And he was excited to have the full cast sign it and for me to paint the logo on it, but no one does casts any more and they just soft wrapped it.

 So now I've been thinking of ways to make him feel special, Any suggestions?

Friday, February 10, 2012

the beautiful power of sunshine

So it's past Tuesday, which of course means we are in a new city. I will do better at staying more up to date with life, but that's what it's like out here on the road, some times you don't get great internet.

We finally got another plane ride to our next city, Clearwater Florida. WOOHOOO!! Praise the Lord! You see, when are only day off from doing a show is the day we also travel to a new city, it's not a real day off, come on everyone knows the stress of traveling. Especially when most of your traveling consists of riding a incredibly cramped bus for 9 hrs. We were hoping that the company would be trying to take care of us more out here since there's not many of us and we need every last dancer, but sometimes it feels like they don't think about how we're holding up.

But We Are In FLORIDA! That fact alone has brightened up the company, and I mean everybody from Cast to crew. The sunshine is a beautifully powerful thing, for the thought of it had folks in sun dresses, shorts, and flip flops even before we got on the plane in ATL. Lots of folks are excited as well cause about half the cast is staying on there own to save money, or to just not be in a crappy hotel. There's a bunch of them that even got a beach house together for the week. I myself have been crashing at a friend of Evans.

Now to help us feel more valued, Evans friend got us in Disney World!!!! WOOOHOOOOO!! I haven't been back to Disney since I worked there 10 yrs ago, so I was waay excited. It was also great cause Justin has never been to Disney, or hasn't been back since he was like 1, so it was fun to run him around the park. It's interesting how once you have lived the disney magic, it still wells up inside of you once you go back to visit. We found ourselves screaming "we believe", and interacting with children, and riding all the  kiddie rides. It almost made us think twice about coming down to dance for disney again, but we quickly were reminded to stay away once we saw the show, and remembered how much they were getting paid. Disney World can be death to the potential for a dancer.

Another amazingly wonderful thing about being down here in Orlando, was I got to see my close friends Clint and Cody. I don't know the reason why God gave me so many good looking straight guy friends, but I tell ya it's not a joke I'm laughing at. We're gonna have to have words when I get to heaven. But it was awesome to see them. We went shopping at the outlets and to top off our boys night out, and day off, we had us a Hawaiian feast at the restaurant Ohanas in the Polynesian hotel at disney, and stuffed ourselves silly, and laughed til we cried. It was a great night.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A farewell to Isley

Of course with long tours such as this, the inevitable is abound to happen, and people are going to leave. We thought it would have first been at the 6 month point when our contracts are up for renewal, for there are some folks who have already made there plans for leaving, but it ended up being last week. Our Awesome and wonderful Saxophone player Jon Isley closed out his last performance with us last sunday. We even had our own little tradition of rubbing our freshly shaven bald heads together before a show. Of course we sang our happy trails, (which for you non theatre folk, happens when a cast member leaves), and had a cake, but I chose to go about saying goodbye, my own way.
I decided to make sure he didn't forget me but etching myself in his brain. Maybe semi literally. Since I'm kind of known as an artist here in our crazy Memphis family, I decided to create a picturesque goodbye for my fella shiny head buddy! So one of my most memorable characters in the show is my teen boy, which is a nerdy, cute and lovable guy that shows up all thru act 2, and when the band is on stage with us then, has a lot of interaction with. So we always full around and I thought it would be way cool to create a cartoon of my little guy. So every night show I left him a small cartoon pic on his music stand right before act 2. It ended up being a really great drawing, and I will probably use it again!

But he is off to bigger and better things for him! He will be Playing with The


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sorry it's been a couple days, It's been a pretty exciting week!

The encouraging Abby
Sarah and Elliot treated me to lunch
I've really been excited for this week, cause like Pittsburgh, and Philly, I surprisingly have a lot of friends here! To be able to catch up with old close friends that live in other states is one of the biggest gifts being on tour. It helps to ground who you are, encourage where you're going, and praise and compliment where you've come from.

Alright so we'll start with the big agitation of the week. To help promote our show and get radio publicity, the Company made some deal to have this Radio personality be the "white dj" that opens the top of the show. Now this guys has done it on Bway a couple of times, and I guess they got scared and brought him out to the tour for some cities that he has a following in. Whatever, you know thats fine, never mind the fact that I've auditioned for 3 years to get in this show and here comes some semi popular guy who just wants to be in it so he can, but the thing that really urked me was who they got. Mike Gallagher, some real big right wing conservative who apparently doesn't want anything for gay people.
 "um, does he know who he has to share the booth with?"
My long time close friend Jon and his wife Joy
It just made for a bad start to the week. I'm not even a political person, though there are lots in the cast who are, I just don't like 2 faced people, who can be all friendly to you and then talk bad things about you. You could feel the negative tension the day we had to rehearse with him,( which of course was another reason why I disliked his coming in, for I had to have a stupid booth rehearsal with him.) And apparently he will be here in 2 other cities, OIVEY! A big wonder was why they didn't think to get one of the famous black djs here in Atlanta? To have him promote the show as well, and to a demographic that 3/4th of the cast can relate too. Especially for black history month. I'll tell ya it is something to look out over the audience and see a speckling here and there of your color.
But he's gone for this week, so we have the real white and black dj's!!

Now I'll tell you what makes a theatre hard to perform in, even if it's as beautiful inside as the famous Fox theatre in Atlanta, is when the first row of audience is so far away from the stage. This show is so much full of superhuman energy, that we literally need to feed off it from the audience to perform at our highest level. There are so many times that I alone point straight at people and make eye contact, and not getting those things feels like a big disconnect, and makes you feel like you're not doing this for anyone and just going thru the motions, which really sucks. Now because it's a couple cast members hometown, we've had some incredible audiences, who have been pouring out the energy to us, but it still makes it hard. So whenever you come to see the show, or any show, participate! pay attention! And respond!