Monday, March 30, 2009
The final curtain has closed on our production of Hello, Dolly! and we thank all the wonderfully talented folks who came together to bring this heartwarming comedy to life. A special thank you to the audiences who came out to enjoy this classic as well.
Rehearsals have begun for our upcoming production of Sunday in the Park with George! The Seattle All-Star cast is led by Broadway star, Hugh Panero. Seattle favorite Billie Wildrick plays Dot, a character she refers to as "the role of a lifetime." Past Backstage at The 5th blogger, Allen Fitzpatrick also joins the cast.
Today is the first sing-through, where actors and director come together to read and sing-through the play around a table.
Billie's facebook status this morning included a fun rewrite one of the musical verses from the production:
"There are worse things than going to rehearsal on a Monday! There are worse things than going to rehearsal when you're gonna have a read-through and the process is amazing, and you love your Brit director and MD's really awesome and the cast is fabuloso and the role is of a lifetime, and I need to get a coffee on a Monday! On a Monday! In the park with Geoooooooorge!"
Friday, March 27, 2009
Once a show settles into a consistent rhythm, the cast can begin to concentrate on developing the moments between the moments. What I mean by this is we're developing everything between the lines - the fleeting glances and knowing looks that take place onstage. This is one of my absolute favorite parts of acting - existing onstage in the moments when I don't speak, but get to simply react to the other characters and the plot they are developing. The delightful challenge of this is to create a realistic through-line that informs and connects the dialogue.
"Dancing," the full company dance number near the end of Act I, is full of these kinds of moments. In this song, I only speak twice. However, I get to exist onstage in the world of Barnaby for five, delicious non-verbal minutes. Without uttering a word, I get to take Barnaby out of his shy shell, learn to dance, meet a girl, and fall in love. All without saying a word!
Part of this story was developed by David Armstrong's staging. His choreography gave us guideposts for the journeys we each take during the song. For Barnaby, this journey begins by being so frightened of dancing that David has staged me literally hiding in the closet. From there, he created moments for Barnaby to come out of his shell, first by dancing with instructor Dolly, then with cohort Cornelius, and finally with the fabulous fashionista Minnie Fay. David's choreography shows Barnaby's shift from cautious, to ecstatic, to finally confident for the first time in the play.
Between these guideposts, the scenes get fleshed out in cahoots with fellow actors. Most of the time, moments are created without being planned or discussed - a glance between two characters in reaction to a piece of staging or a line will add weight and dynamics to their relationship. Often these unplanned moments will become an intrinsic part of a performance - seemingly necessary to the non-verbal through line of the show.
For me, these moments are some of the most fulfilling parts of a performance. My current favorite is in "Dancing," just before we leave Mrs. Molloy's Hat Shop. As Dolly (Jenifer Lewis) begins to instruct me, I share a brief look with both Cornelius (Greg Allen) and Minnie (Tracee Beazer). My look of self-defeat, and their looks of encouragement, happen simultaneously with my first dance steps, so by the time I look at my feet, I've already begun to dance. These interactions are fleeting, but bring a vitality and truthfulness to the beginning of Barnaby's journey in the song.
These kinds of moments are so complex that they take a paragraph to describe. But their complexity endow a character with so much life that they can't help but feel real. Even as they become slightly expanded for a 2,200 seat house, they can feel big, but exact. Broad, but specific. Theatrical, but truthful. And with their complexity, they bring sense of satisfaction when performed, and the hope that in each performance, we will create one more moment to play.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
While staging "Put On Your Sunday Clothes," David Armstrong, our director, casually told Greg Allen (Cornelius) and I that we would have a quick change during the number. It would begin with Cornelius and I getting out of our work clothes onstage, running offstage, and returning in our "Sunday Clothes" a few moments later. At the time, this seemed perfectly manageable. In Seven Brides, I had a couple of quick changes during the song "Goin' Courtin'," and managed those without a hitch. I figured that anything we did in Hello, Dolly! couldn't be any more challenging.
I was wrong.
During tech, I realized that this was going to be the quick change to end all quick changes. The quickest change, if you will. David gave me the formidable tasking of leaving the stage in my period underwear (or, as I like to call it, my "onesie") and coming back onstage fully dressed only 21 seconds later. 21 seconds, from the moment we finish singing "Until we've kissed a girl," til the moment we return singing "Beneath your parasol the world is all a smile." I knew that David would devise a plan for us to make the costume change possible, although at the time I wondered how.
A major player in the costume change is my dresser, Rita. I knew from our work together on Seven Brides that she is fantastically thorough, attentive and speedy. However, even with her help, the change seemed impossible at first. In fact, the first time that Greg and I tried the quick change, it took almost double the 21 seconds we have in the show. We knew it would take a lot of practice and some creative thinking to turn this costume change into theatrical magic.
In order to devise the plan, David scheduled a couple of rehearsals just for this one quick change. While tech rehearsals continued upstairs, the quick change was rehearsed downstairs in DAT5. Rita and I, along with Greg, his dresser Marlys, our associate director, Aaron Tuttle, and other members of the wardrobe, music, and stage management departments, ran the change again and again. Eventually, we broke it down move by move, creating an order that made it easy to move from costume piece to the next, and that allowed both actor and dresser to be working simultaneously.
The wardrobe and costume departments also manipulated many of the costume pieces so that they could be changed quickly. Most pieces are "quick rigged," with velcro on shirts and pants instead of buttons, or elastic instead of shoe laces. However, some of the pieces needed to be altered so much, that we were given a new set of costumes, just for "Put On Your Sunday Clothes." Rita and I took some pictures, to show you exactly how we create this piece of theatrical magic.
This is the costume I wear when I return onstage after the quick change. It looks like a normal suit, except for that a close eye might notice that there are no shirt sleeves around my wrist. While wearing this costume, I mime tugging on shirt sleeves with my fingers a couple of times. Hopefully, you can't tell from a few rows back...
However, this is what the costume looks like without the suit jacket. As you can see, I wear only the collar of the dress shirt, which has a pre-tied bow tie attached to the neck. The shirt collar is snapped to the vest, so that all three pieces can be put on at the same time. The shoes have pre-tied laces, so Rita can easily slip my feet into them with a shoe horn.
After "Put On Your Sunday Clothes," Greg and I have more time. Therefore, we use the beginning of the Hat Shop scene to complete the costume change. After we ride the train out of Yonkers, I change into this costume. As you can see, it includes a completely different set of shoes, and a new shirt. Rita and I also take off the onesie and replace it with an undershirt, add kneepads (for all of that crawling around in Mrs. Molloy's Hat Shop,) and attach the pre-tied bow tie to a neck strap.
And here is the complete look that I wear for the next scene. A virtually undetectable costume change from the one I wear in "Put On Your Sunday Clothes." With a lot of planning by David and Aaron, rigging by the costume and wardrobe departments, and fast changing by Rita and I, the resulting quick change impresses the audience and helps draw them into the excitement of our New York adventure.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I am very excited to report that I will be in NYC working on the Broadway production of the new musical NEXT TO NORMAL in March and April. I will be the writer’s assistant helping make changes to the script and score while its in flux and development.
There’s quite the Seattle contingent working on the show. Along with myself, Louis Hobson (Cliff in Cabaret, Tony in West Side Story, etc) is in the cast and Brian Yorkey (previous Associate Artistic Director at Village Theatre) wrote the book and lyrics. I’ll also be able to hang out with cast member Aaron Tveit, who will be the lead here in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN this summer. I’m very excited, as I’ve been following the show since it had its very first reading under a different name here in Seattle around 6 years ago. Its a really fantastic new musical and I’m so happy I’m able to work on it.
For more info on the show and such, click here.
We completed two smashing performances, and have two more before Thursday's opening. However, I wanted to catch you up on one of the more exciting rehearsals of the last week, The Wanderprobe.
I love wanderprobe. For pure emotionally value, wanderprobe is my favorite part of performing. Its thrilling, its communal. Its like church for actors.
For those of you who don't know the term 'wanderprobe,' let me explain. It is the rehearsal in which the band and the singers come together for the first time. The term comes from the German 'sitzprobe,' describing "a seated rehearsal where the singers sing with the orchestra, focusing attention on integrating the two groups." (thanks, wikipedia.) Wanderprobe is a take off of the aforementioned German word, because instead of sitting, we wander.
Only, we don't exactly wander. We execute the choreography for all of the songs, as well as the blocking for scenes that are underscored. On a technical level, it's a chance for the actors to hear orchestrations, time out dialogue with underscoring, and figure out which instrument is playing their starting pitch. This can be particularly important for dance numbers. When you hear the staccato notes of "Call On Dolly," you feel how it fits together with the choreography that our director, David Armstrong, gave to us. Or when you hear the wistfulness in the orchestration of "Ribbons Down My Back," you can understand how it expresses Mrs. Molloy's longing for change.
Many parts of wanderprobe are extremely technical. Usually when we work on music, it is within the context of a run-through or a performance. Wanderprobe gives our music director, Joel Fram, a chance to make sure that both actors and musicians are performing as a cohesive unit. If something doesn't go right the first time, we can run it again to smooth out the kinks.
However, the overall feeling of wanderprobe is one of enchantment. Part of what makes musical theater so exciting is the use of music to tell these larger-than-life emotions. So when I hear the orchestra play a score for the first time, it fills me with exhilaration (which is welcome at the end of a long week of tech rehearsals.) And as a soloist, its thrilling to sing with a live band. Sorry, karaoke singers, but being backed by a full orchestra beats singing with a synthesized CD track any day.
In every rehearsal prior to wanderprobe, the actors work only with a pianist. So to go from one instrument to 20 instruments in one day is magical. I can't tell you many actors updated their facebook status that night with "I cried I a little when I heard the orchestra and cast perform 'Put On Your Sunday Clothes' together for the first time." Actually, I can tell you. It was four cast members. But almost everyone commented on those status updates. Trust me, you'll enjoy hearing it just as much as we enjoy performing it.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Tuesday 3/10 and Wednesday 3/11 for only $20!
Day of show in person sales only, $20 cash only, per availability.
Use codeword DOWNTOWN when purchasing tickets in person at the box office noon until show time day of show to receive this great offer!
Valid on best available ticket (regular price $24 - $76). Not valid on previously purchased tickets.
Already seen Hello, Dolly?
Bring your paid ticket stub to the box office to purchase a $20 ticket to see it again on ANY night!. Valid for all performances, day of show only. Hello, Dolly runs through March 29th!
For more on Hello, Dolly! starring stage & screen’s Jenifer Lewis and Seattle’s own Pat Cashman, click here!
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selections from Blogwaybaby.com
This weekend, we had our first preview of Hello, Dolly! at The 5th Ave Theatre in Seattle, with me starring (okay, maybe not starring...exactly...) as a Performance Intern! On Saturday morning, we had our first dress rehearsal. It was really useful because I got a good estimate as to how long I have to get ready. The interns' wig call is during It Takes a Woman (Reprise), so I had to do my pincurls and young girl make-up (lots of rosy cheeks!) before this song. I also started watching the show from the television in the green room upstairs, since the house wasn't available to us anymore.
After the dress rehearsal, we staged the bows. The interns have the first (and best, teehee!) bow, so make sure you cheer super loud if/when you come see the show right when the curtain comes up at the end!!! Hopefully during rehearsals before previews we'll be able to incorporate the entire Finale Ultimo (Hello, Dolly! megamix) during the bows. But right now it's just the "Hello Dolly" part of the medley when Jenifer comes out after her incredibly quick change into a white dress...
Over dinner break, my parents took me to Taste (one of my favorite restaurants), and then it was back to the theatre for our first preview!! I already had all my make-up and pincurls on/in, so all I had to do were a few touch-ups before the interns swarmed into the booth. When the orchestra started playing, it finally hit me: this was going to be amazing. I was quick to get into my wig and costume, and it seemed like the act was going on super speed. Before I knew it we were singing Sunday Clothes!! NOTE: We had our first walk-on this night!
I watched some of the show from the television in the green room. The funniest thing I saw would probably have to be that the door to the hat shop was broken/locked, so actors had to go through the invisible walls of the hat shop to get to the scene. Ah, the theatre!
Soon enough, Dancing was going, and it was time for me to grab my flag and wait backstage for my entrance! I focused up and calmed myself, and then I was walking on in the dark behind the scrim...and the lights came up! When I turned around to sing the ensemble's first lyric, I was overwhelmed by the full house! By what I can remember, I did everything well, and with more enthusiasm and energy than ever before! The confetti cannons went off, and the audience burst into applause, and it was over. I walked offstage with the best feeling in the world. I could do this all day!
The rest of the show went well, and I couldn't stop smiling during the bows. Once the curtain came down, it was a mad rush to the dressing rooms, but even so, I was still the last one out... :P It was one of the most exciting nights of my life, for I'd achieved a dream I'd had ever since I saw Camelot at The 5th during my first visit to Seattle.
Sunday brought the same kind of exhilaration during my performance, although I was able to relax a bit easier during the second act and do some homework. However, I did go to get my wig on a tad late, and had to interrupt it by running to the booth to sing Sunday Clothes just in time. Then I went back to finish the process of turning me into a blonde :)
After the show, we had our dinner break (which included some of the interns, including me, walking all the way to the end of PIke Place Market, only to decide to eat at the Subway at the beginning of the strip...sigh! :P), and then it was back to DAT5 for rehearsal. While the hat shop scene(s) were being worked onstage, the ensemble went down to the rehearsal studios to work dancing, staging, and music. We had cake at one of our breaks to celebrate Krystle and Bojohn's birthdays (cast members), and we had to say goodbye to our beloved assistant choreographer, Stephen Reed! We miss you!
It was a very long day, but full of fun and totally worth it! I made my premiere performance at The 5th Ave Theatre, and I basically lived at the theatre for an entire weekend. Stay tuned for more updates on rehearsals and an upcoming month of performances!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
This week, the HELLO, DOLLY! Company has been working together a complete a puzzle. Only thepieces of this puzzle are not cardboard, and they don't fit together to form a photograph of a toy poodle or a New England landscape. Our puzzle pieces are the scenes and songs of our show, which we have been slowly but surely putting together, one day at a time.
For the last week, our rehearsal days have been spilt into one or two hour sections. Each section of time is used to stage a scene or choreograph a specific song. Most of the time, these daily schedule do not follow the order of the script, but how to accomplish as much as possible each day. On top of that, each day may include costume fittings, makeup design appointments, or publicity appearances. Trying to piece this all together creates a puzzle more challenging than the hardest game of Sudoku. It often takes many people, from stage management to the directors and their assistants, to create each days rehearsal schedule.
Add into the mix that you never know exactly how long it will take to block a scene or choreograph a dance. Sometimes a three-page scene will take an hour to block, if you begin to really delve into the subtext. And sometimes a song will seem to choreograph itself, and be completed in half the time you've scheduled. Although the success of finishing a rehearsal early is often short lived, as you inevitably move onto another portion of the play that needs to be completed or refined.
Recently our daily schedules have included sections from both acts of the show. On a typical day, we might begin the morning working on a Waiter's dance in Act II, followed by a full cast production number, and finishing the morning with smaller singing or scenework. Then after lunch, we might try running Act I in order, and end the day by reviewing another dance number. Although we tackle a different set of songs and scenes each day, the general flow seems to stay the same from day to day.
Creating a theatre production feels a little like sculpting a statue. Each rehearsal is an opportunity to chisel away at a song or scene, one piece at a time until the work of art is completed. Somedays you start carving the feet, and move upwards. Other days, you take your chisel to the arms and move around to the back. But eventually, the entire work will be completed in a way that audience won't see which section you worked on first: only the complete piece as a whole.
Greg and I share a dressing room with Matt Owen, our Ambrose Kemper. Our room is on the second floor of the Theatre, above the Brooks Brothers store in the Skinner Building. Our first entrance in the show isn't until the Scene Two, which gives us a bit more time to get dressed, style our hair, or (in my case) take pictures of ourselves in the mirror.
When we hear Jenifer Lewis begin singing "I Put My Hand In," that's our cue to make any last minute costume adjustments, grab a cough drop, and head out of dressing room (Hey! That's me!)
We twist and turn on our way to the stage, walking through the green room, past the wardrobe and sound desks, the water cooler, and the sound booth (where offstage vocalists sing), and to the stairwell.
Passing the entrance to the stage, we head down one more flight, into the catacombs of the Skinner Building. (You can tell its dark because I forgot to turn on the camera flash.)
Here we are in the pit. Its a large, mostly empty room, virtually the same size as the stage. The ceilings are also very high, to house any large scenery that may come up from the floor. However, in HELLO, DOLLY!, the only two things coming out of the floor are Greg and I.
Since the ceilings are so high, we climb two ladders to reach the bottom of the stage. (Be careful, Greg! Use the handrail!)
Our platform is so high up in the air, it feels like a treehouse. We like our little home in the floor, so we're a bit protective of it. That's why we made this sign. NO GIRLS ALLOWED...
... except, of course, our Jessi, our wonderful Production Assistant. She's down in the clubhouse with us, talking to the other stage managers on her stylish headset.
Just before our entrance, we crouch below the trap door, and wait for our cue from Jessi.
And just like clockwork, Barnaby and Cornelius pop out of the stage floor and into Vandergelder's Hay and Feed Store. TA DA!
Seattle’s premiere home of musical theater celebrates its 29th Season with an exciting mix of the contemporary and the classic
SEATTLE – The 5th Avenue has announced the seven productions that make up their 2009–2010 Season, which include the company’s trademark mix of world premieres, the hottest shows direct from Broadway, and classics from the Golden Age of musicals featuring Seattle’s favorite performers and artists.
The season opens with the exciting World Premiere musical Catch Me If You Can, based on the acclaimed Steven Spielberg film and the incredible true story that inspired it, and featuring a blockbuster creative team that includes many of the amazing talents who gave us Hairspray. With music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Terrence McNally, this brand new musical follows the unlikely adventures of a young man who creates an astonishing array of identities—airline pilot, doctor, lawyer—none of which he has any qualifications for! Directed by Jack O’Brien with choreography by Jerry Mitchell, this new musical is certain to be the theatrical event of the year. And once again Seattle will see it first!
Next up is the first ever 5th Avenue Theatre production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s contemporary classic Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. With music that runs the gamut from Pop to Country to Calypso to Rock & Roll, the musical re-tells the Biblical tale of Joseph, his many brothers, and that spectacular coat, in a vibrant and sometimes hilarious new way that gives new life to a perennial family favorite.
Then just in time for the holidays returns one of our most popular and beloved productions ever, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. The story of two ex-soldiers who pursue a pair of lovely ladies right to the lodge that their ex-commanding officer is running is a song-and-dance extravaganza featuring dazzling sets, gorgeous costumes and a timeless hit parade of toe-tapping Irving Berlin tunes including “Blue Skies,” “Sisters, “Count Your Blessings” and, of course, the immortal title song. This show played to large and enthusiastic audiences here in its premiere in Seattle back in 2006, and had a similar reception on Broadway this past winter. Now it returns in a brand-new production with all of your old favorites still intact.
If you’ve still got any winter blues left over, than prepare to banish them with the national tour of one of the most acclaimed revivals in Broadway history, the Lincoln Center Theater production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, directed by Intiman Theatre’s Artistic Director Bartlett Sher. This production was awarded seven 2008 Tonys (including Best Revival and Best Director) and has been playing to sold-out audiences in New York since March of last year, and now Seattle audiences get their first glance at a show of which New York Times critic Ben Brantley said “I know we’re not supposed to expect perfection in this imperfect world, but I’m darned if I can find one serious flaw in this production.” With an extraordinary score including “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Bali Ha'i,” “There Is Nothin' Like A Dame,” and “A Wonderful Guy,” South Pacific is also a deeply felt drama. Its portrayal of American soldiers living in a beautiful but alien paradise is as relevant today as when it first thrilled audiences in 1949.
Next up we “think pink” with the Seattle premiere of Legally Blonde The Musical, a high-energy rush of sheer adrenaline and excitement. Inspired by the hilarious movie, this recent Broadway hit follows the trail from sorority house to hallowed halls of justice blazed by Elle Woods, one of the brightest and blondest heroines ever to grace a musical comedy. With its dazzling production, kinetic dancing and pop infused score, this is a great show for the entire family.
This year the 5th celebrates an American master with not one but two great works by Leonard Bernstein. First up, and the centerpiece of a city-wide Bernstein Festival (which includes events by the Seattle Symphony and many other leading performing arts groups and organizations), is his first remarkable musical On the Town. With book and lyrics by the great Broadway and Hollywood writing team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green (Singin’ In The Rain), this show follows the adventures of three sailors on leave in New York City as they cram a lifetime of romance and excitement into just one day. With such classic songs as “New York, New York!,” “I Can Cook, Too” and “Some Other Time,” this production will be directed by the 5th’s Associate Artistic Director Bill Berry with choreography by Patti Colombo (7 Brides For 7 Brothers), featuring Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theatre.
Part sophisticated operetta, part Monty Python comedy, Bernstein’s Candide follows the comic adventures of a hopelessly optimistic young man as he seeks his true love on a wild journey around this “best of all possible worlds.” Adapted from Voltaire’s wickedly satirical novel, this landmark musical features a sharp and clever book by Hugh Wheeler (Sweeney Todd) and John Caird (Les Miserables), as well as droll lyrics by an amazing sextet of literary talent -- Stephen Sondheim, Richard Wilber, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Bernstein himself! The show’s celebrated score includes the famous “Overture,” “Glitter And Be Gay” and the stunning “Make Our Garden Grow.” The 5th’s Artistic Director David Armstrong helms this great though little-seen classic.
Catch Me If You Can
July 23 – August 14, 2009 (World Premiere)
Cast and Creative Team
Book by Terrence McNally
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Based on the Paramount Pictures film and the autobiography by Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
October 13 – November 1, 2009 (5th Avenue Theatre Production)
Cast and Creative Team
Music By Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics By Tim Rice
Directed and Choreographed by James Rocco
December 1 – December 20, 2009 (5th Avenue Theatre Production)
Cast and Creative Team
Music and Lyrics By Irving Berlin
Book By Paul Blake & David Ives
January 29 – February 18, 2010 (Tour)
Cast and Creative Team
Music By Richard Rodgers
Lyrics By Oscar Hammerstein II
Book By Joshua Logan & Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed by Bartlett Sher
February 23 – March 14, 2010 (Tour)
Cast and Creative Team
Music and Lyrics By Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin
Book By Heather Hach
On The Town
April 13 – May 2, 2010 (5th Avenue Theatre Production)
Cast and Creative Team
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book and Lyrics By Betty Comden & Adolph Green
Based on an Idea By Jerome Robbins
Directed by Bill Berry
May 25 – June 13, 2010 (5th Avenue Theatre Production)
Cast and Creative Team
Music By Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics By Richard Wilbur
Additional Lyrics By Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, John Latouche, Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein
Directed by David Armstrong
Monday, March 2, 2009
written by Neil Badders (Ensemble)
Twenty years ago this spring, I came to Seattle from Houston to begin rehearsals for a production of Mame, starring Juliet Prowse. I was thrilled and a bit nervous, delighted to be part of the first show The 5th Avenue Theatre produced, but apprehensive as to my welcome from the Seattle theater community. Until that time, The 5th Avenue had been a presenting house. With Mame, they began their distinguished track record as a producer.
On that first wonderful day of Mame, I met Seattle actors Cheryl Massey-Peters, Ellen McClain, Judy Ann Moulton and others who immediately made me feel that I was part of their community. Such generosity. Friendships were immediate and lasting. With this production of Hello, Dolly! Cheryl and I are celebrating 20 years of friendship and performing together. I also met a very special lady on the administrative side during that run of Mame who has been a valued part of my life. Marilynn Sheldon is a warm and caring spirit, a grounding presence in the crazy world of theatre. As Managing Director, Marilynn has been a key ingredient in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s success for 30 years.
Nearly ten years ago, I auditioned for and was cast in a production of Anything Goes, starring Dee Hoty. The director was David Armstrong and Anything Goes was his first production as Producing Artistic Director at The 5th Avenue. As “Captain” of the ship, I’m happy to say that David’s directorial debut was a splendid success. During this production, I met Seattle actors Greg Allen (Cornelius), Daniel Cruz and Matt Owen (Ambrose) and worked again with Cheryl. The four of us are working together in Hello, Dolly! with David at the helm.
Three years ago, I played Officer Lonigan in Wonderful Town at The 5th. This time, Associate Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry was directing and the show was a tremendous hit. After Wonderful Town closed, I went back to Texas to visit family. I was to stay for two weeks and stayed nearly three years. During that time, my Dad had his second stroke, a heart attack, bypass surgery and I drove him to 7000 miles of cognitive and physical therapy. I spent most of 2006 as his caregiver and worked part of 2007 and most of 2008 as Admissions Director at two nursing homes in the Houston area to stay close by. My folks are now doing well.
The character of Cornelius’s words following “It Only Takes a Moment” resonate powerfully for me:
"Today I’ve lost so many things. My job, my future, everything that people think is important, but I don’t care. Even if I have to dig ditches for the rest of my life, I’ll be a ditch digger who once had a wonderful day."During my time as a caregiver, I despaired of ever singing on stage again. I was helping my family, doing the right thing. I was successfully working in a corporate marketing job, but missing part of who I am. In October, a phone call came from Seattle, Bill Berry was on the line asking me if I was available for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Hello, Dolly! My prayers were answered. I took steps to be available. How could I miss out on the opportunity to work once again with my Emerald City theater family at the The 5th Avenue Theatre, to rediscover my joy? I couldn’t and here I am.
So, as we bring Hello, Dolly! starring Jenifer Lewis, to vibrant life, I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been provided by David, Bill and Marilynn and feel absolute joy as I work with the terrific cast, crew, orchestra, designers and staff of The 5th Avenue Theatre. There will be no better gift than to be performing two shows on my birthday, March 22, working with folks I love, during my 30th year as member of Actors Equity. Isn’t the world full of wonderful things?
photo above: Hello, Dolly! cast members Neil Badders & Pat Cashman