Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Keep the door closed

Let me begin this entry by addressing the performance of Company that I just saw in New York.

What a disappointment.

I'm not going to beat around the bush here. What a real let down! My two major issues with the production were (in no specific order):

1. The actor/musician concept doesn't work for this piece. I thought the Sweeney Todd revival was brilliant, but the idea was that they were players putting on a show. It doesn't work here. For me, the show needs a gritty reality that depicts New York and you don't get that holding a shiny trombone. Also, not that they weren't well played, but these orchestrations don't allow the score to soar. And to be fair, I felt the same way about the Roundabout revival a few years back. Jonathan Tunick captured the entire essence of New York in his original scoring.

2. Bobby was a dick. I could've cared less what happened to him at the end of the show. I kept asking myself during the show, "why are these people friends with this asshole?". Bobby has to be detached, but not to the degree that Raul Esparza played him. He made no journey whatsoever and when he started playing the piano for the beginning of "Being Alive", I only thought, "wow, I guess he had to take some lessons for that".

That's it in a nutshell. If you'd care for more, please e-mail me and I will be more than glad to oblige.

Back on the road...
Overall, the trip into New York was fabulous. I got to hang out with my good friends Dan and his girlfriend Minami. Dan is the trumpet player for Grey Gardens on Broadway and it looks like Minami will be heading to Japan for a year to work with a huge theatre company there. The next day was spent traveling to Morgantown, WV. Things seem to be heading into a rut. Morgantown was cold and rainy. Audiences were very small (very receptive, but small), and our hotel was about 12 miles outside of town, which is a real pain in the ass. We also had some more rehearsals during the day in Morgantown which is somewhat boring for me. Somewhat.

The small audiences have actually been a trend that will be addressed shortly, so we're told.

Morgantown, WV
Legends (Hotel Bar)
As noted above, we we're so far outside of town it was hard to go anywhere else. It was very nice though and we held our Halloween Party there which was quite a sight.

This weekend: Penn State University! My old stomping grounds. Quite excited.

I hope you all enjoyed the tour commercial. Here is another clip of the end of the "Keep it Gay" number. Matty, look at the fabulous John West
as the uber-gay Carmen Ghia.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Phone rings, door chimes...

Just a quick post because I can't hold it in. Got a ticket today for the 1st preview performance of the new revival of Company. I'm just a little bit beside myself. Next update should have all the details. I wish I were as good a reviewer as Matty.

A Wand'ring Minstrel, I

I write this update from a beautiful and spacious apartment on the 11th floor of a 53 story high rise in downtown Manhattan with a lovely view of the locker room on the 3rd floor of the fire station across the street. More on that later...

So where did we leave off? From Evansville to Bloomington, IN and Indiana University. A beautiful theatre, a great town, and an expensive "tropical resort" (in Indiana) 15 miles outside of town with an odd mix of themes. I wanted to stay in Mickey's Aloha Suite with a view of the zebras. It was quite beautiful though, situated on a huge lake with an indoor/outdoor pool, sauna, hot tub and...

Bloomington, Indiana
The Windjammer Lounge (hotel bar), which actually was okay, considering they stayed open until 3am one night for us with a DJ who probably works a lot of weddings.

After Bloomington came a loooong drive to Erie, PA. Cold. F'ing cold. But an amazing theatre, the Warner. The Warner Theatre is named after the famous Brothers who commissioned the theatre to be built in 1929. The enormous lobby has all the glitz and glamour of any Hollywood movie house.

The only weird thing about the theatre is that the "pit" is really on the house floor level, so we were quite visible to the audience. I personally sort of love that though, because I love being able to see the audience react to the show.

Another nice thing about Erie was that the Avalon Hotel (big rooms!) was only a block and a half away. It's always wonderful when the hotel and theatre are within walking distance of each other.

Erie, Pennsylvania
Papermoon Restaurant Gallery and Jazz Club
Actually, we probably spent more time in Benjamin's, the hotel bar, but this is a special shout out to the owner of Papermoon who hosted us on opening night in Erie, with live music and a free round of drinks. Then we all left because the drinks were too expensive.

As soon as the last show ended in Erie, I hopped in the car and drove HOME home to see the 'rents. Stayed overnight, had an early dinner with Mom, Grandma and Sister and then cut and run like a Bush nightmare.

Next on to Easton, PA, home of the Crayola factory, my cogitative roommate Colin and the smallest house we'll be playing on tour. So small that the bassist and I played the show remote from a hallway in the basement. Naked. Just kidding. Only about the naked part. Both in Erie and Easton, the show was cut down considerably due to venue limitations. For instance, we use a lot of drops and fly units in the show, some of which take up the space of 2 or more standard size drops. A number of theatres do not have the fly space necessary for every piece. Our show is very big, travelling in 5 trucks. Load ins and strikes are quite an accomplishment.

Now, we're getting close to Halloween, so where would you go for a good costume party?

Easton, (actually Allentown) Pennsylvania
Gay Bar: The Stonewall
Yes, that's the name, but a great place and a big Halloween party. and PlanetOut were actually there photographing for their websites.

Which brings me to my New York apartment...Today, Sunday, was a 3:00 matinee in Easton, followed by strike and load out. Monday is a golden day (completely off). We are TOO close to New York City. So I drove into Newark after the show and took the train in to Manhattan where I'm staying with a director friend, Stephen. Tomorrow will be a free day in the City, catching up, and seeing a show tomorrow night. Fingers are crossed for the FIRST PREVIEW performance of the new revival of Company. Tomorrow night, after basking in the glow of Broadway, I'll head back to Ma 'n' Pa's to spend the night and then Tuesday we're in Morgantown, WV. Big weekend coming up at Penn State University.

I already know where I'm eating every meal.

Here's some new fun: our brand spanking new TV commercial, filmed live in Charleston, South Carolina. If you hear the string section, that's me.

The Producers National Tour Commercial

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bring on the Allies to hear the news...

Welcome back loyal readers. I've gotten a lot of flak for not updating this blog in a while. It is sometimes difficult to get online for a decent amount of time. I will zoom through this entry as there are many cities to recap. Please excuse any grammatical errors due to hastiness.

When last we left our hero...

Opening night in Columbia, South Carolina went extremely well. There were a number of technical glitches that were worked out and the audiences went through the roof. Unfortunately, the backstage screwiness was part of a trend of lack of leadership. Upon arriving in Sarasota, our next stop, the technical director, Larry, was let go. The assistant TD, Pizzi, was promoted and a new girl, Kate, was brought in to be the flyman. As Larry was my roommate, I am now sharing with Bevan, 2nd audio. It's been a fantastic deal however since the crew leaves every city the night before to load into the next theatre. Therefore, I have the hotel room to myself on the last night at no extra charge. It's the little things...

Sarasota went very well. I got to see some familiar faces from the production of "Putting It Together" I did recently at the Players Theatre. My steadfast roommate, Colin B., also got to see the show twice, once from the pit. Ask him what that's like. I actually stayed in my apartment in Orlando and commuted to Sarasota the whole weekend which was lovely. I had alot of errands to run and loose ends to tie up as I had not been in town since last May. The highlight truly had to be a trip to the Hamptons (IHOP) with Matt S., Colin B., Kevin K. and "cabaret host extraordinaire" Luerne.

I've had my car so far on the tour and was planning to drop it off in Orlando and then travel with the company. The Monday following the Sarasota weekend was a travel day to North Charleston, our next city. I decided to stay in Orlando to finish up some more errands and then rent a car back to South Carolina to join the company. The rental car situation was a mess to say the least. So I said F*** it and kept my car. We would be crossing Pennsylvania in a few weeks and I could drop it off at my parents house. More on that later...

Charleston was fine. More great audiences. Our hotel wasn't very close to alot of things to do, but it had a lounge. Which brings me to the newest feature on this blog:

North Charleston, South Carolina
Ramada Inn Lounge

Next on to Greensboro, North Carolina. Again, not in the heart of the entertainment district by any means, but more great houses and great performances. Eat your heart out PBS. One of the most exciting things that happened here would be Jason A., our violinist, falling in the pit and spraining his ankle. He was taken to the hospital, missing the matinee, and returned with crutches and a knee the size of a coconut. But he was back pizzicato-ing full force for the evening show. Because of the lack of comfort on our bus, he also started riding with me in the car between cities.

Greensboro, North Carolina
Strip Club: Chester's (that's right)
Gay Bar: Warehouse 301

The next stop was in Zanesville, OH, but only for a stopover. No show.

On to Fort Wayne, IN. Staying in a beautiful Hilton Hotel that is connected to the theatre, a beautiful old vaudeville house. Found out here that my roommate, Bevan, is leaving as well, but not for a little while. I am the curs-ed one. (That's two syllables: curs-ed)
We wouldn't have thought it possible, but the audiences here are outrageous, getting every little fast-paced joke.

Fort Wayne, Indiana
Gay Bar: After Dark (in honor of National Coming Out Day) not as sketchy as the name implies.

Next stop South Bend, Indiana. Home of the Fighting Irish, the College Football Hall of Fame and the South Bend Chocolate Company's Chocolate Cafe. Luerne, where are you?!! The homemade hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream....where was I?
So where do you go out when you're in the home of the Fighting Irish?...

South Bend, Indiana
Fiddler's Hearth: A fantastic, traditional Irish pub with great drafts, and an absolutely amazing Irish band.

We then head to Lima, OH. That's Lie-ma, not Lee-ma. Lee-ma is in Peru. Lima was our first one-nighter. We load in, we show, we load-out. Ugh. But it went well and yet again the audience is on their feet. I did not spend the night in Lima, but drove to Indianapolis to visit with close friend from my Hoosier days, Eric S. We spent some quality time in Indy and it's always great to see him. If you're reading, love ya. If you're not reading, then screw you.

Indy was conveniently on the way to Evansville, IN, home of the Aztar Casino. **Danger Will Robinson**. Fun, but not fun. There is something truly unholy about gambling, smoking, and drinking inside a beautifully lit riverboat.

Evansville, IN
Gay Bar: Someplace Else (pretty hopping for a weeknight, but some karaoke as unholy as the casino)

Whew! Hopefully that will appease your appetites for a bit. Only two more cities to catch up on but I will return with those shortly!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Drink champagne until I puke...

For those of you that might get this in time, here's the scoop:

Tonight, Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mannequins, Pleasure Island, Walt Disney World

11:00pm (ish)

For those of you non-cast members, we will be able to buy discounted admissions for you. Let us know in advance.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Opening Night, It's Opening Night!

Well loyal readers, it's begun. The show officially opened last night in Columbia, SC to another standing ovation. And a well earned company party followed at the hotel. Open bar. Need I say more?

DISCLAIMER: Anything I may ever divulge in this blog about problems onstage, offstage, backstage, etc. will never be things that affect the quality of the performance for you the audience. Unless otherwise noted. The show is great.

That having been said.

Our load in and opening performance were plagued with technical glitches. The show was held for 20 minutes to due to scenic issues. 15 minutes before the show started, the decision was made to cut a piece of scenery that required some last minute blocking changes. It was a little nerve wracking for those of us who knew everything that was going on, but the audience loved the show. I just got back from rehearsal and it seems that everything is fixed. The scenic piece that was cut last night has been re-hung and everything looks good. We have a show tonight and one more tomorrow night, following which I hop in the car to head...


Thursday in Orlando kids. I believe there may be some socializing going on Thursday night. Not sure what, not sure where. But I don't have to be anywhere until Friday afternoon in Sarasota where we play this weekend. If details develop soon enough about Thursday, I'll post them here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Columbia...gem of the ocean??

I'm trying really hard to keep this thing updated. But boy, it's hard with this kind of schedule. Sleeping in, drinking, rehearsal, drinking, dinner, drinking. Just kidding...sort of.

We've moved! Owensboro, Kentucky has seen The Producers come and go. We finished our tech rehearsals and had two wonderful previews that ended in two standing ovations. The show is ready to open.

The end of our stay in Kentucky was filled with some pretty atrocious weather. So on Friday evening, I went to the theatre at about 5:30pm to pick up Justin M., our keyboard programmer. We decided to have sushi for dinner. (In Kentucky. Who knew?)
Well, as I walked in the lobby entrance, I was immediately ushered into one of the backstage windowless hallways where I was informed that we were under a tornado warning. There was a HUGE storm system aimed directly at Owensboro and tornados had touched down 45 minutes away. Eventually this all passed and the show went on only 13 minutes late. The rain continued however and the entire western half of Kentucky was flash-ly flood-ed.

Favorite Luerne quote while under a tornado warning:
"If you did Wicked right now, you could make the tornado the end of the show."

Saturday consisted of driving to Columbia, SC with the aforementioned Justin M., followed by a night on the town as today, Sunday, is a "golden day". A golden day is basically just an off day. No show, no travel. They are a scarcity in touring life and should be enjoyed to the fullest extent allowed by law.

And that's where we are now. Tomorrow's call is 11:30am for a walk-through of the theatre, sound check, and a full dress run. Tomorrow night is a 7pm half hour for a 7:30 opening.

I'll let you know.

Here are some new goodies:

Brad Nacht as the Chrysler Building, I mean Roger De Bris

The fabulous (and tall) Liz Helms is truly a "Producer Babe"

Karyn McNay and Heidi Suhr as the Usherettes

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Will it flop or will it go?

In just over one hour, at 7pm Central Standard Time, we will be having our first preview. The first paying audience. More to come...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Blogging is hard when the bar is open

There is not a single IHOP in the entire state of Kentucky. Excuse me, but does the "I" not stand for "International"? Has Kentucky seceded from the Earth? I know I've been in Canada for a bit, but I'm sure I would've heard something about that. Now I realize that some may argue that the "International" applies to the French toast, the Belgian waffles, or the Swedish crepes with lingonberries. But if this is the source of the "International" moniker, then I believe we'd all be dining at the HOIP, the House of International Pancakes.

Thank you for reading on.

We have now finished two days of tech rehearsal and are way ahead of schedule. Everything is progressing splendidly. Tomorrow (or later today if you notice the time stamp), we will be diving head first into "Springtime for Hitler", by far the largest production sequence in the show. However, I will not be there for much of that as I will be at...

orchestra rehearsal.

Today, we had our first orchestra rehearsal and Mr. Wetzel has never been as happy a camper (no pun intended). The band is simply brilliant. The reduced orchestrations sound just as full as the CD. The keyboard programming is better than the 1st national tour of Wicked, and every player is just rock solid. Our lead trumpet is screaming, the 3 reed players are switching instruments at the speed of light, and I get to play a cash register. On top of all of this, the players are having fun. At the end of a very long day, we had gotten as far as "Springtime" and our musical director decided to break for the day instead of diving into a long number. The band decided to raise the threat level to orange and demanded that we at least play through it. The real reason probably being that most of the band ended up saying the line, "Don't be stupid, be a smarty. Come and join the Nazi party". It was a tremendous rehearsal.

The hottest little tidbit right now is the rumor that Mr. Brooks himself will be attending our preview performance here in Owensboro. It seems that he's a good friend of the President of the performing arts center here. It's also rumored that he's out of the country, so I guess we'll see.

Mr. Brooks? Jason Wetzel it's nice to meet you will you hire me on Young Frankenstein?

And finally, the pic of the day.

Here's Heidi, one of our female character ensemble as Lick Me Bite Me. Yes, that's the character's name. The girl is 25.

And now off to bed so i can put the Ritz on in 6 hours.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My old Kentucky home

Made it to Owensboro. I did not end up staying over in Indianapolis. Sorry, Eric. Arrival time in Owensboro was approximately 3:30am (2:30 am Central). Unfortunately, I had to go get breakfast to waste time until the hotel's night audit was finished. Which was fine as I was slightly hungry anyway. No IHOP in sight.

The next week will basically consist of tech rehearsals, orchestra rehearsals, putting it together (bit by bit) rehearsals and then we finish next week with two previews. This is all happening at the
River Park Center in industrially beautiful downtown Owensboro.

We're staying at the Executive Inn, a few blocks down from the theatre. It's Branson, Missouri INSIDE. Seriously, go to their website and click on the "entertainment" link.

Well, I will be here for a little over a week so I will update more once rehearsals get under way.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ain't no stopping us now...

...we're on the move.

Schedule for tomorrow, Wednesday, September 13, 2006

8:30am - wake up (oh god)
9:15-9:30ish - check out
10am-2pm - rehearsal - our final day in Kitchener, Ontario

2:30pm - THIS:

This will be my day.

Fortunately, I'm only driving to Indianapolis to stay overnight with my Hoosier friend Eric. Which will leave about 3 hours of driving on Thursday afternoon to get to the theatre for a welcome party. Free alcohol. And food.

Long story short (too late): I have my car with me. As many of you know, I spent the summer in Brunswick, Maine working with
Maine State Music Theatre. I didn't accept my contract on The Producers until after I was already there. So I am driving the first few legs of the tour. Thankfully, our second stop is Sarasota, so I'll be able to drop my car off in Orlando. Of course this meant driving from Brunswick, ME to Kitchener, Ontario to Owensboro, KY to Columbia, SC to Sarasota, FL.

But when you got the show biz in your blood, kid, you'll do anything.

*cigar wag*

The show is looking good. We're definitely ready for tech. I'm definitely ready to hear an orchestra. We are pretty fortunate to be carrying our entire pit with us on the tour:

Keyboard 1/Conductor
Keyboard 2/yours truly
Reeds 1, 2, 3
Trumpet 1, 2, 3
Trombone 1, 2

That's 13! 13 musicians. Ha Ha Ha!

And now some fun:

In my element

Um...quality time

Rehearsing "I Wanna Be a Producer" with Leo and the Producer Babes

Off to pack. See you in the States!

Some more goodies

So here they are, our Producers.
Max (Jason Simon) and Leo (Austin Owen).

And our beautiful Ulla, Elizabeth Pawlowski.
Many different herrings, anyone?
Also, our website is up and running, though there isn't much on it yet. Our full itinerary is not even listed. But there's more to come I'm sure.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I almost forgot

On an all new Behind the Music:

The first laugh you hear is me. Go figure. I'm in the background on the right at the piano. Go figure, squared.

A new beginning...

Okay, so that sounds like the title of the next Encore show.


I've decided to reignite my failed attempt at a blog. Now that I'm out on the road with the national tour of The Producers, I thought that this would be a great way for everyone to get a glimpse of life on the road. First off, the title is an homage to our show. If a national tour has more than one company on the road, most often they are named. For example, the musical Rent has had the "Roger" tour and the "Benny" tour. Just as creatively, The Producers has had the "Leo" tour and the "Max" tour. See how that works? Well, our tour has unofficially been named the "Keeping it Gay" tour. And trust me, we are.

I'm currently in Kitchener, Ontario (I know), where we've been rehearsing. Originally we were in New York City, which would have been much more convenient for me coming from Maine. We got moved to Toronto because of security issues. Our director and choreographer (2 people) are both from London and were having problems flying into the United States and getting work visas, blah blah Bush sucks blah.

Toronto was a dud, when the studio we rented was way too small. So here we are in the middle of Ontario, in a great space mind you, but with not much to do outside. But fear not, dear reader, for I leave the Great White Way, I mean North, on Wednesday afternoon for.....


I get to stop overnight and visit a friend in Indianapolis and then it's on to Owensboro, Kentucky where we start tech rehearsals on Friday the 15th.

Part of the reason I decided to continue/restart this blog was because I knew I'd be online a lot on the road and I would have the time that I didn't think I had before to concentrate on something like this. So we'll see how it works out this time.

Pack up the luggage, la, la, la...
(Joke copyright 2006 Colin Byrne)

Next stop Owensboro!

From Kitchener, Ontario, Canada (land of the Toonies) where it's always Springtime for Hitler,