Thursday, November 30, 2006

Some of the marquees for shows that have closed are still up at the their theaters, and sometimes stay up for weeks and months. Not ours. Our marquee is gone, the posters are gone, the set is gone, the people are gone, and now I am soon to be gone. I doubt I will even walk past the theater again before I leave for LA. Too sad, too lonely, too empty. It is like we were never here at all. It wasn’t a week ago that I found out we would be closing and now there is nothing left. We’re yesterday’s news, this is not a unique situation to anyone but me.

Some show called “Darkness” is coming into the Helen Hayes. I think the title is appropriate. It kind of sums up the mood I am in. I wish them well.

Actually I am trying to be nice, I don’t care. The Darkness producers were hoping we would close so they could take over. They are now the darlings of business affairs, and it is their turn to be the Hayes flavor of the month. I won’t see that show. Don’t want to se it. Who cares, The romance and the affair are over; I don’t care who Helen is dating now.

I am finding it very difficult to participate in this Gypsy of the Year show. The number is great, the people are great, the event is great, but I don’t feel great. I feel like an outsider, an interloper, everyone else in the show is still in a show. I even wrote a self-deprecating joke on myself about closing. It gets a laugh. It is an old technique to get them laughing with you not at you. It is part of the job to smile through the tears, but it doesn’t mean it is easy, nor pleasant.

As you can tell, I am now experiencing the bitterness that is the next stage of this journey, It isn’t Helen’s fault, although it is very easy in this stage to find blame, I can find a reason to blame every thing and everyone including myself, but it doesn’t work. I just need to heal a little, and stay away from sharp objects and things that have a fuse or trigger.
As you were,

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Well, my dressing room is empty now. All the stuff is in boxes and it will be send home tomorrow. They will also take the set down tomorrow. I guess it goes to Dallas to start the tour. I am calling it the Magical Mystery Tour because I don’t know anything about it yet. Believe it or not I am usually the last to know anything that involves this show.

I will be doing the opening number of the “Gypsy of the Year” show next week before I head home. This is a show put on by the Broadway community of actors and dancers for Broadway Cares, a charitable organization that raises money for show biz related needs. I am doing a production number with Bob. I haven’t done that since my Six Flags days. Actually it is a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I am continually amazed at the talent, professionalism and artistry of dancers. I am always reminded of why I married one. This will be one of the highlights of my Broadway stay and a good way to kiss the city good bye. Perhaps the closest I will ever get to being the guest star on a variety show.

As you were,

Monday, November 27, 2006

Well, I finally got that day off I have been anticipating for two and an half months. It was restful but not as satisfying as I thought it would be.

My last show was emotional and thrilling. The crowd was a mix of those who have been before and those who were seeing the show for the first time. Everyone seemed to sense this was a unique experience. There was a champagne party afterwards for the house staff, producers and cast. It was a party that everyone would rather not have attended.

In my last curtain speech I mentioned I was glad to experience the 100 years of Helen Hayes Theater ghosts before they left, since the theater is going to be remodeled after my show. I hinted that I was taking the ghosts with me. Although “ghost hunter” has been recently left out of my resume, I have been fascinated with ghosts for a long time. I know the quickest way to get rid of ghosts is to remodel a building. The ghost of Lincoln walked the second story of the Whitehouse until it was remodeled in the Truman administration. There are many more examples of that phenomenon.

The legal affairs representative for the theater seemed to take acceptation to this statement. She said that everyone who has ever played this theater has left spirits instead of taking them away. I joked and said it sounded like a legal challenge to “ghost rights”. I assured her that I would deposit rather than extract her theater ghosts. I lied. I am taking them all. If you have seen my show you know the close association ventriloquism has to necromancy. Broadway has changed and these ghosts are ready to leave. I kept thinking they didn’t want me to stay, but now realize they wanted to go with me. They no longer want to stay.

After the Atlantic Theater run I stored several boxes with the Wiz in anticipation of the Helen Hayes run. We had no idea it would be two years later. I stuck some things on the truck in Los Angeles with the set to come to Broadway, and did the same thing when we played Cambridge. I purposely brought things from every theater we played here to Broadway so each step along the journey would be represented. So there are three theaters worth of personal stuff that needs to be accounted for. I think it will take me all of tomorrow to sort through it.

I am past the point of shock and denial, into the “move on” phase. Tomorrow I will clear out the dressing rooms and get all the stuff back to Los Angeles. It is a daunting task, I really settled into this run. I just thought we would be here for at least 6 months, particularly after the reviews.

I will miss being part of a community. It was great to come to work and see Officer Don on the street, wave to Victor at Sardis, get a greeting from John and Bobby the doormen at the Hayes, joke with the house staff and crew, the waiters and waitresses at Angus and see friends who work across the street in other shows. It was beginning to feel like home. To belong is a rare treat for a traveling gypsy. I have been “on the road” with my act for years, just at the point you begin to belong you have to move on. It feels like being the new kid in school all the time. Having a community of artists working right next door was a great feeling.

I will perform the show again many times and in many different theaters. It will feel the same as it did on stage in New York, but the minute the curtain comes down I will miss the village of Broadway. However, I will have a 100 years of Broadway theater ghosts with me. They will remind me of what Broadway once was, a place looking for new and different theater, not the same tired productions that have stayed too long, and paled in the commercial light of the Great White way.
As you were,

Saturday, November 25, 2006

“The Two and Only” is definitely closing Sunday, November 26, 2006. Our last show will be at 3:00. This show is an emotional roller coaster for me and I don’t know how I will keep it together long enough to make it to the end. I barely made it through tonight.

I want to thank everyone who sent cards, emails and comments on this blog expressing regrets and well wishes. You don’t know what it means to me that you liked the show. I am touched and uplifted by the outpouring. It is an economic issue and not an artistic decision to close the show.

The producers are keeping the website going. I guess the blog will still be here, however, it was conceived as a look behind the scenes a Broadway show. It seems that point of view has been obscured. The Broadway run is over. The Wiz said it is much too emotinoal to write a blog right now. I understand. I agree.

Perhaps I can write about my last night at the Helen Hayes. I will know after it happens. For now, I am grateful, I need to grieve, I need to be upset and I need to get past my desire to strangle the person I think is responsible.

There are many things that upset me about this situation, but the people who came to see the show are not part of that. Thanks to all that came. I loved every minute that I was on this stage. You gave me more than I can measure. You were the reason I came. Thank you very much.

We’ll talk soon.
As you were,
The Wiz report for Friday

I’ve always dreamed of being on Broadway. However, in doing what I do, I am merely a participant in someone else’s dream. Without someone else’s dream, mine wouldn’t exist. Stage managers are the enablers. We are behind the scenes, making everything go smoothly and allowing everything to happen. If all goes well, everyone’s dreams are realized.

My association with this show began in the spring of 2004, just prior to the run at the Atlantic. I was recommended to our general manager. I met with him and then had phone interviews with Jay and Paul and Murphy. At the time, I thought that this show would be a fun one to run for the summer. Once we all started working together we became a family. I enjoyed that summer immensely and it will go down in history as one of the best I’ve had. As the run progressed there was some talk of Broadway. For the first time ever I had hopes of my dream coming true. We hit some bumps along the way, but on September 28 it happened. I opened my first Broadway show. Not just a Broadway show but a dream show - a show that I love, with people that I love and many, many laughs along the way. I’ve done a lot of shows, but I have never felt such a strong connection to the show or to the people involved with it before. This was a truly unique experience for me. I have loved every second of it. Soon my dream will come to a close. I am very sad to see it go and will miss every aspect of it. I will look back on it with great fondness and will laugh when I think of all the stories. And there are lots of stories. I will think of Spaulding rolling off the deck (he was A-OK both shows today!), I will think of Name That Monkey Song (the afternoon song was the theme song from the tv show “Love That Bob” – I won!), I will think of Nethernore going hunting, but mostly I will think of the time I spent with Jay and what a great friendship we have.

Thank you all for your lovely comments and for your support. They’ve been very uplifting these past few days.

I have found my next show. I am still looking for my next dream.

Until the next one,

Friday, November 24, 2006

Blogging is arduous these last few days since the news of the show closing. I talked to the Wiz about this very thing. Writing has never been more difficult for us both. A couple of times we have traded off or more correctly begged off submitting a blog because it was just too emotionally difficult to complete. I have written several pages that I just can’t publish. Too much candor, too much soul searching, and too much anger about what I might have done differently to keep the show running.

I don’t know the proper way to grieve because I have never experienced this before. I feel like I have been fired. I have never before been fired from a job. The levels seem to be shock, sadness, anger, resentment, acceptance and finally gratitude. I have not made it to the acceptance stage yet and the tears seem to blend in to anger and resentment. What I feel mostly is embarrassment.

The perception seems to be good shows run a long time and bad shows close. I know better, but can’t get past that universal feeling. If your show was good, why did it close? It embarrasses me to even attempt an answer to that question.

The show is a physical and emotional challenge for me to do, and especially so now. I barely get through the emotional sections with out breaking down, and it is very difficult to keep the unfiltered personalities of my wooden partners from exploding with my anger. I am exhausted from pretending everything is all right. The show is hard enough to do without all this extra emotional baggage.

To think about it becomes too painful for me. I have to reject New York so I feel in control of this situation. I quit so I won’t feel I have been fired. Some day I will remember and my heart will warm to all the great times I had here. But for now my affair with Helen Hayes is over. I just want to go home.
As you were,

Thursday, November 23, 2006

On one of the last “laugh lines” in my show, a cute little voice began to laugh. I guessed it to be a little girl about 4 or 5. The child actually lost control of the giggle for a moment. It was an angelic and absolutely genuine laugh that infected the entire audience. There was nothing to do but wait for that laughter to end. It caused the audience to laugh for another thirty seconds or so.

During my curtain call I sometimes give the Spaulding eyes to a child in the front row. This laughter came from the fourth or fifth row and I could not see the child but knew she was the one who should get them that night. I stopped the applause and said, “Where is the little girl who laughed? Come down here for a second.” There was a commotion in the fourth row and a little red headed boy exited the row and started toward the front of the stage. He is about 8 years old, very outspoken and said, “I am not a girl”. I said, “I’m so sorry I thought you were a girl”

He looked at me with determination and said, “I am not amused.” I gave him the eyes and he said, “Thank you… the eyes will repair some of the damage to my soul.”

Great audiences. Just one of the wonderful things I will miss when we have to move on.
As you were,

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I am grateful for so many things, my faith, my family, my friends my career. Most of the blessings are too personal to write about, but on the career side here is a partial list:

I performed in Broadway on Broadway. I got to see Times Square from a 30-foot stage when it was filled with people. My face was on the jumbotron high above the city. My poster is still hanging in Shubert Alley. I got to perform on the David Letterman Show, and the Today Show. I was awarded the Artist of the year by the YMCA of New York. My show won the Ovation award for best solo show. I got my cartoon put on the wall at Sardis yesterday. The original Bob puppet will be inducted into the Smithsonian Institute very soon. I opened my show on Broadway to the best reviews anyone has gotten this season. “The Two and Only” is the second highest rated show in the New York Times “Best Broadway Shows” poll of readers. Celebrities and Abernathy alumni have come to see my show and I got to meet them in my dressing room. I got to be the last one to perform at the Helen Hayes before there is a major renovation. I still get to be there with all the ghosts which may leave after the face lift when it is no longer familiar to them.

I have met so many wonderful people who populate New York City. However, it is time for me to move on. This is the last week of our show on Broadway. The notice was posted last night. It is a very odd contrast to a day spent promoting the show and receiving awards. There is a chance the box office will surge and we will stay another week, but for me it is easier to just accept the closing. This is the first time this show has been closed, always before we just finished our run.

The goal of this show was to present it to as many people as we can. That destiny seems to be in the presentation of the traveling tour now. I would stay forever, and always thought we would stay until the end of the year. It isn’t up to me, it is up to the wonderfully gracious people at the Theater and the producers who have been so supportive of my dream.

I don’t know who reads this blog except my Mom and Dad and a few friends. However, if you are reading and you have not seen the show, come now. Now, as in Tomorrow. There might be a chance to see this show on the road on some future day, but to see it in the Hayes on Broadway is a unique and disappearing opportunity. It is and always will be unique here in New York among the theater ghosts.

Broadway has become a theme park of shows that stay much longer than they should. I will always be glad that my show was a shooting star, too quick to be seen by the masses, but a brighter flash and a unique experience to those who just happened to look in the right direction. I will be glad not to hear things like, the show is a little tired, it seems out of date or you should have seen the original cast.

If love for a show was money The Two and Only would be the richest show in Broadway history. Some day when I am spending another Thanksgiving counting my blessings I will remember that love and its worth. How priceless is that?

Happy Thanksgiving.
As you were,

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Wiz report for Tuesday

What a day we had today! In the afternoon we celebrated Bob's 29th birthday with a very large (and very tasty) cake and ticket offer. Next we were off to Sardi's for the unveiling of Jay and Bob's caricature. From there we raced next door to the theatre for our pre-set call. Jay and I walked in the door a few minutes late for our call and went right from the stage door to the stage, where we found the crew doing their thing. I'd like to take a moment to give a shout out to the crew. We have a terrific group of guys - all very hardworking, nice and extremely funny. We all have our pre-show routine. Jay sets the puppets, I make sure he sets them and then I set the few things I am in charge of, Roger sets the props and Doug sets Spaulding. All of us laugh through the entire call. Jay tells stories. We tease each other. We have a great time. Now keep in mind that when we first got to the Hayes, the crew did not know what they were in for. They didn't know that the puppets have names. They didn't know the "care and feeding of a puppet". And they certainly didn't know how much we would enjoy being there. Over the past few weeks, they've learned these things and we all enjoy those moments together. They now know that puppets have names and sometimes they talk to the puppets, or puppets talk to them. It's like this crew has been with us from the start. So today Jay and I are running a bit late, throwing off our pre-show routine just a tad. We're on stage and Doug comes over to Roger and says "the ball is set". Roger quickly jumps in there telling Doug that "the ball" has a name - "Spaulding". What ensued was a five minute comedy routine featuring Roger and Doug about the names that the inanimate objects have. According to Doug, the mop is soon going to have its own name. We had a great laugh. It's a wonderful feeling to have such an involved crew and one that cares so much about the show - thanks guys, you are all the best!

It was a terrific show tonight - full of energy and laughter. For those of you keeping track "the ball" (a.k.a. Spaulding) rolled and rolled and kept on rolling right off the stage. Darwin did a very fast version of "Glad Bless America". Victor (the substitute for Joe on lights) was the clear winner. He got it right off the bat. He's much better at this game than I am. I was the clear loser. Either way, it was one heck of a night.

Until the next one,

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Wiz report for Saturday

As I said at the end of my last post, I gave Darwin the category of "tv jingles" for his song. The first jingle that popped into my head was the one for "Dr. Pepper". So we're getting ready to start the show and Jay and I are discussing the category. I suggest (rather insistently) that he do the jingle from his favorite soft drink (thinking Dr.Pepper) and he starts to sing "I'd like to teach the world to sing..." Obviously we're not on the same page here. So we get to that moment in the show and I cannot for the life of me figure it out. Victor (Joe's substitute on the light board) pops up and says "the Oscar Mayer Weiner song". Well here's the thing - Victor doesn't really know the game, and hasn't seen the show, and he gets it. For years I've been trying to win this game, and Victor lives up to his name. Alright monkey, this means war.

I'd like to add a little story to Jay's post on Abernathy and the Struve clan. In the story that Jay tells about his first time onstage when he was 5 years old, there used to be a line about Arno Struve. The line was "I hear somebody on stage say 'Let's ride!' I knew that voice. That was Arno Struve. He owned the local hardware store, I'd known him all my life." Unbeknownst to Jay, Murphy, and Paul, I called a stand by cue on the name "Arno Struve". It set a whole series of cues into motion. I had done those cues over a hundred times at the Atlantic. Now time passes and we're doing technical rehearsals in Cambridge. We're getting into that story and I'm late in calling all of those cues. Somehow, despite having done it many times before, I have completley messed the whole thing up. So we stop and someone asks what the problem is and I respond "well I'm waiting for Arno Struve" (meaning I'm waiting on Jay to say the name). Well, unbeknownst to me, the Arno Struve lines were cut from the show and no one told me. Even though I don't know the Strvue clan and even though I've never been to Texas, Arno has a place in my heart. I still think about him every night when I do those cues. What I envision his "let's ride" to be is the perfect cue for all those kids to ride their stick horses across the stage.

Until the next one,
The Wiz report for Friday

Tonight's show goes down in history as one of the best Friday's we've ever had - ever! It was an amazing audience and show. There were a good number of kids in the audience. This changes the show a tad - usually the rhythms. They respond to things differently than the adults, and the audience response as a whole changes. The audience response changes Jay's ryhthms and therefore changes how I call the cues. If Jay speeds up, I have to speak extra quickly and hope that lights and sound can keep up with me. If he slows down the opposite happens. I was kept on my toes tonight (as were Joe and Bob) and it was some of the best fun ever!

Long John (the severed head) got a terrific response - a great "eeww" for his entrance and applause after his last line.

Nethernore was at the top of his game. He had that audience in the palm of his hands. Or under his wing.

Spaulding was yet again the attention getter - leaping into the laps of those in the first row. By the way, my chart isn't working out so well. Not only can I not find a single common thread, but the Dow Jones is closed on weekends. As Roger, our prop person, will tell you, by Friday night we still have half a week's worth of shows to do.

And I would like to thank Darwin for a song that I know! It started out as some unknown jazz riff and turned into the theme song from "I Dream of Jeannie". Keep it monkey! Saturday's category: jingles from tv commercials.

Until the next one,

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tuesday in the talk back, after the show, a girl in the audience tells me she is from Lubbock, Texas. A lot of people are from Lubbock, Mac Davis, Larry Gatlin, Buddy Holly and me. It is a college town and not unusual that a person from Lubbock would find their way to New York. It became more unusual when she said she had a gift for me from the Mayor of Abernathy, Texas.

Abernathy, 20 minutes straight north of Lubbock, is the little town in Texas where I grew up. We moved away when I started high school. I talk about Abernathy in my show. It is a little town of two thousand people, mostly farmers who live in the country. A joke that was cut from the show goes like this. “Abernathy is so small that when a baby is born they shoot someone so they don’t have to change the population sign”. Okay, now you know why the directors cut it from the show.

Anyway, the mayor of Abernathy, Texas happens be my uncle Hoppy Toler. I said to the Lubbock girl, “How do you know Mayor Hoppy” and she tells me he is her uncle. I have never met this girl before and at this point can’t possible believe we would have an uncle in common, but it is a fact. Her name is Robyn Struve Bulham. She’s at the show with her husband Bobby, and I think we are cousins once removed.

Now here is how it works. Her father, Mike Struve, is the younger brother of my aunt Mona who was a Struve before she became a Toler by marrying my uncle Hoppy, who is my mother’s youngest brother.

You sort of keep up with the Struve’s cause Arno and Minnie Struve, Robyn’s grand parents, Mike and Aunt Mona’s parents, are the patriarchs of Abernathy. If Abernathy has royalty, well I guess Arno and Minnie qualify. So I knew Mike got married and had some kids. Obviously Robyn is one, and there you have it. We both have an uncle Hoppy and an Aunt Mona and they are the same people.

So Robyn and Bobby are on vacation and come to New York. Since I am the only Abernathy boy on Broadway they make it to see my show. They say they tried to get Mona and Hoppy to come with them, but Mayor Hoppy has to officiate at some sort of legal dispute over his Jamboree. The Jamboree is a country western show that Hoppy produces once a month in downtown Abernathy for the local crowd. (You thought I was the only person from my family in show biz?) I am proud to say I have a standing invitation to perform at the Jamboree as soon as this Broadway show is done.

Well the gift Robyn has brought me from Uncle Hoppy, is a “gimme cap” in the school colors with Abernathy printed across the front. (If you don’t know what a gimme cap is, then you should stop reading now). I put the cap in a small trunk on stage so I will see it every time I open that case during the show. Thanks Hoppy and Mona for the cap and thanks Robyn and Bobby for bringing it all the way to New York.

Get a cup of coffee and settle in! There’s more.

As if that weren’t enough Abernathy for one week, the very next night I get a note backstage from a lady who says, “Hello from Gid and Marie Addkisson, signed Linda Addkisson.” Gid and Marie are two of my parent’s best friends from high school and still live in Abernathy. Gid Addkisson owns a cotton farm outside of town and was my junior high school principle. I told you it was a small town; everyone does double duty.

We used to go out to the Addkisson farm and play with the masses of Addkisson children. There were five of them. If you add the three kids in my family, we qualified as a separate county in the Panhandle of Texas. Linda is the youngest daughter of the Addkissons and was a three-year-old child the last time I saw her. Well, she is a lovely lady now and lives in Denver. It is great to see the lady you have become, Linda, and boy does it make me feel old.

It just goes to show you, you can take the boy out of Abernathy, but eventually Abernathy will find you… even on Broadway.
As you were,

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I guess when you are blogging about a Broadway show you have to include some New York stories. I mean you can’t deny that Broadway is in the heart of New York City.

So today I am standing in line getting a prescription filled at a pharmacy. The guy ahead of me has a problem. They don’t have his prescription ready. He brought it in yesterday, they told him two hours, he came back and it wasn’t ready then, and it still isn’t ready today. He is getting very angry with the pharmacist behind the counter. I think the pharmacist is getting in the man’s face just a little too much to be a good businessman. But then I don’t know New York etiquette yet. A yelling match starts to escalate. Okay, so I know I shouldn’t listen in, but it becomes much easier as the volume goes up.

Here are the facts. The man is asking for a refill on some sort of anti-depressant/mood swing medication. It’s called Tatrumnaught or some such happy pill name. The pharmacist is saying he needs more information before he can let him have the pills. The man is saying it must be right there in the computer, he has gotten this medication here many times. The pharmacist is telling him to “calm down”, “back off”, “lower your voice” and the like. The man is getting more and more out of control. This is the stupidest thing I have ever witnessed.

The pharmacist has the meds, but is telling the man to calm down. The man is saying he needs his meds to calm down. The pharmacist says he won’t give him the meds until he calms down. The man is saying he can calm down when he gets the meds. Well… you can see where this is going. I left before the SWAT team arrived so I don’t know who won this intellectual stand off.

I’m not saying this could only happen in New York City. All I am saying is that it did happen in New York City.
As you were,

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tonight we usually do a talk back, but we postponed it. I had to run and do an interview for the Movie 101 class for Dr. Richard Brown. He is a big fan of my show and wanted me to talk to his class. Basically he interviewed me in sort of an Actors Studio sort of setting. It was a good interview and it went well.

He has some very interesting insights to the show from an acting point of view. He described the show in such glowing details and wonderful accolades. I am most proud that artist of all kinds relate to my show. It really is the story of art in more ways than one. I think most artists can relate to the life of another artist. What we do to perfect our art is always the same.

I was very tired tonight and running to the class across town after the show just added to the rush of the evening. I am exhausted now and have to go to bed so I can get up and do a “radio tour” tomorrow. I will be on seven or eight different radio stations around the country. This is accomplished with a special link up at the New York Premiere Radio flagship. It will seem to the audience at home that I am in the studio of the local stations. It is amazing what can be done. I will have to take a nap to get through the shows tomorrow night. I think I have mentioned it before, but I didn’t realize Broadway would be a constant activity of promotions. There is never a time when a show is doing such good business that they can afford not to do promotions.

I guess half the audience was high school kids tonight. It is always a different show with that many kids. They laugh at different points and get different values from the show. There is an initial stand off as they decide if they are going to like this guy on stage that works with puppets. So far I have been able to win them over. Some of them have never seen a ventriloquist live before and have no idea what to expect. Of course I think that is no different from most people who come to our show. It is different from what they think it will be.
As you were,
The Wiz report for Wednesday

Well it was another fun show for us tonight. No matter what my day is like, I always leave the theatre laughing and smiling. I don't know many people who enjoy their "work" like I do. It really is something special.

So tonight towards the very beginning of the show, we had a minor sound problem which resulted in one sound cue not playing. It wasn't a crucial cue and the audience didn't suspect a thing. Bob (our sound engineer - not Bob Campbell) resolved the problem before the next cue and we were fine for the rest of the night. So the problem is fixed and we're not even thinking about it anymore until Nethernore. Jay tells Nethernore to ask Bob for his song by saying "tell Bobby what to do" and Nethernore says "I'd like to tell him what to do." All of this is, of course, in reference to that one cue we've all forgotten about. Nethernore has always been tough with the sound departments. Bob knows this, and over the headset he says to me "I hope he knows this means war". So watch out Nethernore - I think you've met your match.

Although Spaulding has been acting up, he was fine both pre-show and in performance. That's twice in the same day that he was fine. So according to the chart - the Dow Jones must be up in order for Spaulding to stay on the deck.

In honor of the school groups we had tonight, Darwin did "School's Out For Summer." Though I have won with this song in the past, I did not get it tonight. Maybe the Dow must be down for me to win the game. Either way, it's fun to play!

Until the next one,

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Okay it is horn-tooting time.

“Jay Johnson: The Two and Only” won the Los Angeles theatre alliance “Ovation award for best solo show” last night. It was nominated for the Colony Theatre run last April/May. The Ovation Award is the Los Angeles equivalent of the Tony on Broadway. It is a tremendous honor for the show and everyone involved. We competed with all the shows that came to Los Angeles on their way to New York this year, as well as local productions. Since I am here doing the Broadway version, Barbara Beckley, artistic director for the Colony Theatre, was there to accept the award on my behalf. Sandi got the Trophy tonight and she told me that it is beautiful and looks wonderful on our mantel.

The praise for this Ovation goes to Murphy and Paul. Since the show at the Colony was a licensed production from the Broadway company, Paul and Murphy were the ones who made it happen. They had to pull together a duplicate set; new lighting cues and make it fit a brand new theater. Paul, Murphy and Barbara made sure that all the proper forms were submitted and all the voters got a chance to come to the show. (Not unlike the process for the Tony in New York). The solo-show category is really tough to get a nomination. We were really thrilled just to get the nomination, and to actually win over the other competitors is more than exciting.

Thank you Murphy and Paul. I remember there was not much support for us doing the show at the Colony, but you pulled it off and here is the proof that it was the right thing to do. You continue to be the dream makers in my life.

One a footnote. Paul Kreppel also directed the show that won the Ovation for best original play “Zero Hour”. That’s two Ovation awards from the same director in the same year. No small task, but for me no big surprise. You go Pinky!
As you were,

Sunday, November 12, 2006

One more week of my Broadway journey is history. A few nights ago I realized just how transitory my journey really is.

I went to Angus for an after show dinner with a few members of the Helen Hayes house staff, John, Berd, Linda and Jessica. Collectively they have worked about six decades at the Hayes. John told me he and Linda got married after they met at the theater. John got his usher job when his Father worked there thirty-five years ago. They are all much too young to have even been alive that long.

My show hasn’t been at the Theatre long enough to even blip the radar screen of this group. They have so many stories and hold so many secrets on the people who have performed there; it is intimidating to say the least. They remain, however, un-jaded by this experience and are the nicest and most efficient house staff on Broadway.

I have to deal with the audience as a “crowd”. On stage I hide behind a fourth wall, with lights, sound and puppets. From there, I have control. The house staff has to deal with the audience as individuals, who come late, can’t find their seat, rattle candy wrappers, take unauthorized photos, ring cell phones and always think they will enjoy the show better from another row. I don’t know how they manage to deal with it all, but they do, and they remain happy. It is most probably the quality of their character, but it could be the magic of this theatrical jewel box.

I never want to leave this theater. But I know that my show is just a small link in a very long chain. Shows open, shows close, it has always been that way since the theater itself opened in 1912. It would be totally selfish of me to keep some other actor from experiencing the embrace of this magical place. But then I think to myself how selfish it is for someone to take it away. I don’t know how long the muse has me scheduled to stay, but I will bask in the warmth and excitement of this moment, these people and this Theater every minute I am allowed to do so.

Good night, Helen, with mixed emotions I realize that a day off is also a day away from you.
As you were,

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Wiz report for Saturday

After I call "Half hour" (30 minutes till show time) my next appointment is to check on Jay in his dressing room. I need to make sure that he is getting into make-up and then I assist in getting him into his microphone. It's during this time that we chat and make sure that we're on the same "wavelength". So today before the matinee, I am sitting in the dressing room and Jay's a little behind schedule. He hasn't quite finished the make-up process. I start to ask him a question. As I start talking, he starts his lip color. The next thing I say is "Oh I'll wait till you're done so you can talk". He looks at me in the mirror and starts to tell me that he can talk without moving his lips - without moving his lips! We laugh hysterically. He doesn't normally use his art form as a parlor trick - but I walked right into that one. How could he resist?

Ironically, there is a light cue during the final story that I call off of a line that he says. Sometimes I have difficulty hearing the words, and I have to read his lips in order to call it.

Darwin was honoring our Veterans today by singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "God Bless America" for the matinee and "Grand Ole Flag" in the evening. We got two out of three - so we're ahead!

Until the next one,

Friday, November 10, 2006

This is perhaps the most responsive Friday night audience I can remember in this run. It was a wonderful experience to be on stage tonight with the energy of this audience and a great way to begin the grind of a four-show weekend.

Being a one man show I have to wear several hats over the course of a performance, actor, comedian, storyteller, teacher, host and, of course, ventriloquist. Over the several hundred performances of this show I have adjusted to quick “head gear” changes. Tonight was a performance when one genre overlapped with another. I will try to give you a sense of the experience, mainly to clarify it in my own analysis.

Most of the time, especially while performing with my wooden partners, I have to be intently aware of the audience. If something happens in the audience, one of my characters will jump on that moment immediately with an adlib. For example there was a very deep resonating and unusual laughter coming from the balcony during Darwin’s routine tonight. With out even a thought from me personally, Darwin said, “It sounds like a Moose in heat up there.” It is a phenomenon I have gotten used to over the years of being a ventriloquist. The character’s reality often supersedes my own at times like this. It is the art of the craft. It might seem schizophrenic to some, to me it is just another day at the office.

At the end of the show I have to do an emotionally taxing acting scene. No puppet characters, just me. The actor/Jay has to find a place far from what is happening in the audience and guide them to another experience that happened long ago. It was during that scene tonight when someone made a loud noise. I am still not sure what it was, a groan, a sigh, a yawn, an emotional outburst, I will never really know. It did, however, break my concentration in a weird way; the actor for a moment became the ventriloquist.

Immediately after registering the sound in my brain and unknown to the audience, I hear five different voices, from five different characters begging for expression, each with an adlib to rebuff the noise. There was no puppet with me or one of the voices would have found an outlet. It would have been a mental knee jerk reaction. It was only moment on stage, but an eternity in my inter-dialogue when I finally realized there would be no adlib in this situation. I had to get on with the scene. It took a few more seconds to become the actor again; I stumbled on a word or two. Perhaps the audience was not aware. But I was aware and know I muffed an important scene, and this terrific audience deserved better.

If this were film or television there would be an immediate retake. It would need to be fixed. Not here and not tonight, this is live theater. That is what we love isn’t it? It has never happened before and it may never happen again. We play the cards that are dealt with no control over all situations. Every show will be different from all others as long as we do it live. I guess I just love the challenge, and tomorrow we face the unknown again.
As you were,
The Wiz report for Friday

I love charts - always have and always will. I think it started back when I was a kid. I was the only one in my family who used the charts in the tv guide rather than the actual listings. Charts are great. You can easily compare information at a glance. Who has time to read all the in between words?

Back when we were at the Atlantic, we were watching the run time of the show very closely. I made a chart. I timed each section of the show and put it all on a weekly spreadsheet. Some people made fun of the chart. Or maybe they were making fun of my obsession with it, I'm not sure which. At any rate, I had the answer when the question "where did we run long tonight" was asked. Flash forward a few years to recently when we were in preparation for the Cambridge run, and I had the answer when Murphy asked "how long did the stick horse story used to be". Luckily I saved my charts!

A few days ago, Jay told you about Spaulding and his antics. I wrote a comment back saying that I would make a chart. I've done just that. It dates back to Weds., Nov 8. I have columns for: on or off the deck, atmospheric conditions, responsive audience, entrance applause, Dow Jones up or down, and what color the Empire State Building is on that night. For all we know, the stock market could be affecting his entrance. We've tried every other option. Spaulding was fine tonight. Based on the chart, Spaulding will stay on the deck if it's warm outside, with a great crowd, with the Dow Jones up, and the Empire State Building red.

There is a debate as to what the monkey song was. Jay says it was "Thoroughly Modern Millie". Joe and I say "The Theme to the Muppet Show". Sometimes we never know who wins.

Until the next one,

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This is something you don’t hear every day.

“The acquisition committee of the Smithsonian Institution has voted unanimously to collect (the original) Bob for its permanent collection - per Jay Johnson’s specifications.”

I just heard this news tonight. The original Bob will now sit along side Charlie McCarthy, Howdy Doody and Kermit the Frog as a permanent member of American History in the Smithsonian Institute of Washington, DC.

This is a process that has been going on for several months. A committee evaluates a donation for its value and significance to American History. Not every donation is accepted; in fact they decline more donations than they accept. I am thrilled they consider the work Bob and I did and the contribution we made to the arts worthy to be so honored. There will be a ceremony that will likely take place here in New York during the run of my show and those details have to be worked out. But wow!

Just to clarify, we are talking about the original Bob I used on “Soap”. The Bob I use now in “The Two and Only” is the next generation. After a couple of years of use Bob needed to be up graded to keep pace with the schedule. Unlike a Hollywood star getting a face-lift, it is easier to start all over with a puppet. That is how I come to have two Bobs. For a while this Bob resided in the Magic and Movie Hall of Fame Museum in Las Vegas with several other famous puppets. That Museum was disbanded a few years ago and Bob has been looking for a new home since. I never dreamed the little guy would end up in such grand company.

I guess Bob has the best of all worlds now. He gets to hang out with his pals Charlie McCarthy and Howdy Doody all day and still perform every night on Broadway. It is a unique advantage to living exclusively in the world of imagination. I’m glad the imaginary people of “The Two and Only” allow me hang out with them.
It’s a wonderful life.
As you were,

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Wiz report for Wednesday

Wow! What a fun show we had tonight. The crowd was great, the laugher robust, and "the guys" were all a little feisty.

I have to go back a bit - last night with Nethernore, Jay cut the "How do you know when something is dying" joke and went back to an old one that we cut towards the beginning of our run here at the Hayes. Luckily I know every version of the show and it didn't take more than a beat or two before I knew where we were headed. However, the joke happens right as I give my warnings for the next series of cues. The problem is, this new (or old) joke takes a little longer and Joe and Bob are waiting with fingers poised to (literally) get on with the show. We hate to keep our operators hanging like that and do our best to avoid it. But I was not informed of a script change, and gave my warnings as usual - which left Bob and Joe hanging for a bit. Sorry guys!

As Jay is setting Nethernore before the show tonight, I gave him (Nethernore)a brief note about letting me know ahead of time if he is going to change something. (Yes, I do give the puppets their own notes). The conversation ended there. So now we're doing the show and at that point, Jay turns towards me, and stares, and then he and Nethernore did the version that they did last night. Perhaps I should consider it "fair warning". I'm sure those of you in the front row could hear me laugh.

Jay says that the monkey song was "The Stripper". I'm not so sure.

And yes, Spaulding did roll of the deck. We're all stumped. And yes, we really do groan and cheer. And yes, I really will start a chart!

Until the next one,
The Wiz will probably tell you, Spaulding leaped off the stage again tonight. It is a baffling proposition. He will work fine every rehearsal, and there is a required rehearsal every time he makes his leap. But for neither reason nor logic he chooses his own moment to stay on stage or not; it is entirely out of anyone’s control once the cue has been given.

There are three people backstage left watching every night to see what he will do, Joe, Doug and the Wiz. The Wiz calls the cue, Doug is the one that pushes the button and I think Joe has wagers on the outcome. I hear the reaction of this exclusive audience every night. When he rolls off the stage, a groan comes from stage left that is not unlike the crowd noise when an NBA home team player misses a three pointer at the buzzer. When he doesn’t roll off I hear high fives all around, and occasionally a muffled cheer.

Even more unpredictable is the reaction members of the front row have when Spaulding jumps off stage. Some immediately grab him and toss him back on stage. Some just look at the ball as if it was ready to explode. Some pretend that it didn’t happen and I have to coax them into involvement. Some people throw it at me and some roll it gently back on the stage. One man tossed it so hard it almost went off the deck. It is live theater and Spaulding proves that every night.

I am always looking for signs. This could be one I am missing. Maybe we should note every time Spaulding jumps off stage and evaluate it against astrological events. Perhaps it is temperature, humidity, phase of the moon, or biorhythms. Maybe Spaulding is trying to tell us something. Could be he is reacting to the Dow Jones Index.

Here is the deal. If you were at the show when Spaulding jumped off the stage and something unusual happened to you that same day, or if you were the one to actually touch Spaulding and get him back on stage, and your luck changed in some way, let me know. Write me a comment on this blog. Together we could discover an untapped source of psychic energy.

You don’t think I am perhaps over analyzing, do you?
As you were,

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tonight as I show up at the theater several people are waiting, outside on the street to get into my show. I was really excited. I have longed for the day when I would go to work to see the masses cueing to get in. Then I realize it is David, Paul, and the Wiz, the sound designer, director and stage manager of my show. Even at that I thought, “how nice that my friends are here to greet me”. Not so, they were smoking a cigar, on the phone and just hanging out, respectively. It was just a random grouping of New Yorkers on the streets of the theater district. Oh well, for just a moment I thought I was a Jersey Boy.

Since Halloween there has been a rat in my dressing room. Not the usual New York grey rat, but a black rubber rat that comes from the joke store, not the subway. He just appeared in the green room on Halloween night along with a couple of strategically placed rubber spiders. These additions to the d├ęcor were definitely a trick and not a treat. No one who frequents that area of the theater would admit to being the culprit. I thought the rat looked just fine in the corner of the green room, since he fits my gothic sense of style, so I left him there. I generally refer to my dressing suite as the bat cave, anyway.

A few days later the rat was gone as mysteriously as he had appeared. I soon discovered the rat stalking my shoes in the dressing room. He moved several more times and no one would cop to having done it. I am the one who thinks the theater is haunted but in this case, I smelled a rubber rat. This was definitely not the work of the other world. I knew it was only a matter of time.

Tonight the truth comes out; Linda and Berd are the rat wranglers. Linda broke under cross-examination and squealed on Berd. It was an usher’s trick. Now that I know the rules, open season has been declared on theatre tricks and practical jokes. Fair warning has now been given. You never know when and you never know where… but he who laughs last…! No more about this until it happens. Stay tuned.
As you were,
I realize this is blogging about a blog. But it seems I have been held accountable for one of my recent blogs on this very site. Although a correction was called for, I think none is necessary.

In my November 4th blog I said,
“Joe, Shawn, Sam and Amy tell me they are waiting for two other little couples who live in the building to go to rehearsal.”

It was pointed that four little people (Joe, Shawn, Sam and Amy) in the lobby and two more little couples coming, makes a total of eight little people, and not the seven I allude to later . (This is beginning to sound like one of those math word problems I hated in school). Now while that is correct math it is also correct in terms of my later statement, ie. “I live with seven dwarves.”

It would stand to reason that if one lives with eight dwarves one would also be living with seven at the same time. I did not say I live with “only” seven dwarves. I also said I was definitely not Snow White.

I hope this clarifies it.
As you were,

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Times Square on a Sunday night is as busy as a Haitian straw market. There are people hocking wares everywhere. Every block has someone selling knock off designer purses. The next corner people are selling scarves, hats and Broadway posters. At 48th and Broadway there are maybe a dozen caricature artists doing portraits. They are all Asian; I don’t know why, just an observation. I am amazed at their artistic skill. The trick is to make the subject look as beautiful as possible and they accomplish that with great style.

There are musicians playing every kind of instrument. There are vendors selling food. There are kids handing out flyers boasting a comedy show that is starting in just a few minutes. They swear you have seen this comic on every show from David Letterman to the Fox News. It is a festival every night out there.

It is hard to stand out in this field of entrepreneurs. But one guy caught my eye at the corner of 49th and Broadway. He is dressed up like Spiderman, full head mask trunks and tights. He is just standing there with an open duffle bag and a sign that reads, “Tips.” Now I know what everyone else is selling, but I am not exactly sure what I get for my Spiderman contribution. Are we supposed to throw money into his bag just because he doesn’t know that Halloween was last week? Does he want us to take a picture of him and send it to the folks back home and say, “Look, Doris, I saw a man dressed up like a comic book in New York City”. Perhaps he thinks he is the real Spiderman and he is soliciting contributions to keep the city safe. I even thought he might be saying to the public at large, “Hey I am freezing my ass off in these tights can you help?”

What ever his message, it is not getting through tonight. The purse sellers have tons of shoppers, and all the vendors have their share of patrons, but not Spiderman. I watch him for a while. Every so often he will strike a Spiderman pose. It doesn’t seem to attract the attention he wants so he tries another. Either Spiderman only has four good poses or four poses is all this imposter learned. Either way I thought to myself, what a tough gig this is. I left him there with his empty bag of tips, and made my way through the rest of the bizarre to go home.

But now I can’t stop thinking about him. Who is that guy under the mask? Is he a member of Actors Equity? Did he come to New York to seek his fame and fortune? Did his show close on Broadway and he needs money to get back to Tulsa? Is he “not the right type” to play Tarzan in the touring company? Was he the fifth Jersey Boy when they only needed four? Or does he go home to his wife and say, “I really got them with the out stretched squat pose tonight, Honey.” Maybe as he was looking through his mask he recognized me and thought, “a ventriloquist trying to make it on Broadway, poor guy.”

All I know for sure is I finished my week. Eight more Broadway shows and I’m exhausted. Tomorrow I have a night off. Tuesday I will go back to the Helen Hayes and do the best show I can. I am blessed to be doing a job I really love in a theater where I really love to work. I hope the audience will like my show, and I hope we sell out, but I am forever grateful that I am not standing on a street corner of New York City freezing my ass off in a pair of red tights.
As you were,
The Wiz report for Sunday

I think it may have been during the run in Cambridge, perhaps earlier, but at some point, Nethernore added a minor line. When he and Jay are about to make the duck call Jay says "I'll hide here" and Nethernore replies "they'll never see you there." The funny part is that Jay is standing right in the open, not hidden at all. I laugh every night. But as they say, art imitates life, and now hiding has become a theme backstage. As you've read, Jay has hidden behind the door to the box office and now there is a sign there telling him to stay back 20 feet. What you haven't read (at least until now) is that Jay has taken to trying to hide on me. But the nutty thing is - he's hiding where I can see him. He's tried hiding behind the door to his dressing room. Not scary - I can see him in the mirror. He's tried to hide behind a curtain. Not scary - I can see his feet and the entire side of him as the curtain isn't big enough. Tonight I tried to scare him by sitting in a chair that is next to my calling station. It's semi-dark back there and I thought I had a chance. Nope. He saw me. We both seem to enjoy the absurdity of this little game, as it makes us laugh.

So it was the evening show and Spaulding is rolling off the deck again. Yet again he is tossed back onstage. But this time I see a volley starting. I don't recall how it started or how many times poor Spaulding was thrown. What I DO remember is seeing Jay duck behind the center cluster of trunks, as if hiding from a tossed ball. The impressive part was that from behind the trunks (and seemingly unable to see Spaulding coming at him) Jay managed to catch him mid-air. Nice catch!

I won another round of Name That Monkey Song this afternoon with the theme from Perry Mason. Tonight I wasn't so lucky with Mozart's 40th Symphony. Darwin changed genres.

A personal shout out to my dad for reading and supporting us from the Sunshine State!
Until the next one,

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Wiz report for Saturday

The rules, they are a changin'! I'm talking about the Name That Monkey Song game, of course. As you may know, or can tell from the bitterness in my voice, I am losing my own game. I made up the game, I made up the rules, and I've been losing ever since. This afternoon I was completely wrong. I guessed "Yankee Doodle Dandy". The song was "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (please excuse the spelling). Not even close. This evening was a little challenging, as there were two songs. I couldn't get the beginning but I knew "Camptown Races" was the second half. I was right! It was the second half - but what was the first? No one knows. Not me, not Jay, not Darwin. At the end of the show, when Jay leaves the stage, he stops at my calling station and we discuss the song. During our discussion today we decided that we would change the rules a bit - if there are two songs, and I get one of them, I get a half a point. It doesn't seem like much, but every little bit helps.

And if you're keeping tabs on Spaulding...he was up to his old tricks for the matinee, rolling right off the stage. Jay pointed to where he wanted Spaulding to land (so the person throwing him back would know where to throw it - thus avoiding the scenario we had last night). So Jay points to the stage and the audience member (a.k.a. "the tosser") tosses him on the other side of Jay. After a few "I really meant here" gestures, we all started to laugh.

Spaulding was right on target for the evening show. Your guess is as good as mine!
Until the next one,
Every myth you’ve heard about New York City is probably wrong.

Today when I came to work a crew from Con Edison is jack hammering the street right in front of our theater. They are digging a very large hole to fix a leak, as you can imagine it is very loud. I could hardly hear the voice of a fan named David who asked me to sign a program. He said all of his friends had recommended my show and he was there to check it out for himself. Thanks for reading the blog and coming to see the show, David, I hope you had a great time.

As I walked into the theater I said to myself, “wonder if this noise will be going on during our matinee”. Well, here’s the answer. Just as we started the show, Hector, from our theater asked the crew if they could stop the jackhammer while my show was going on. They stopped, and started to dig my hand. Are you kidding me? I never thought that would happen. The minute the audience started leaving the theater they started back with the jackhammer.

Just then the house manager from the Broadhust Theater, which is across the street, ran out and ask them to stop. Le Miserable is there and they run much longer than us. The crew stopped. The minute Le Miserable let out they began jack hammering loudly again.

Because we held them up, they were working into the night on a project they could have been finished in the daylight. You might think they would be pissed off at the spoiled actors who needed them to be quiet. As I left my theater one of the workmen yelled out to me, “How was your show tonight?”
I said “Great.”
He yelled back, “I hope to see it soon.”

So there you have it, a New York City myth about construction workers busted. Here is a shout out to the Con Ed crew of 44th street. Thank you guys. You made my job very much easier today and I am grateful for your courtesy. I love New York.

Oh yeah, you remember when I accidently scared box office Dave when he walked out of a door and I was hiding in the hallway one night? Well now on that very door is a sign with my picture on it. It says, “Jay Johnson stay at least 20 feet away.”
As you were,

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Wiz report for Friday

Just when you think it's safe to relax and get into a groove, something always happens to keep you on your toes. Tonight it was Spaulding that kept me alert and ready to leap. He's up to his old tricks again, rolling right off the front of the stage. And as usual, there is a very responsible patron in the front row who tosses Spaulding back up to Jay. Tonight's patron had the arm of a center fielder. Spaulding rolls off the deck and is thrown - not tossed - back onstage. He goes almost as far as the point which he entered from. But I see Spaulding coming much closer to me than he should be. My mind is going a mile a minute. What if he is thrown so hard that he goes off the side of the stage? What if he goes over the top of the set and lands backstage? Will Jay step off the blue carpet to retrieve him? So many questions. The biggest one is "How will I handle the situation?" As this is going through my head, I see Spaulding land on the stage, just on my side of the trunk where Jay sits for the scene with Squeaky. Luckily Jay sees him and is able to get him. Crisis averted. Or is it? Next thing I know Jay is tossing the ball back to the man. What? Didn't we just make it through one terrifying moment? Why do we have to live it again? So Jay throws the ball to the man and then points to the point on the stage where he wants Spaulding the land. The man then throws the ball back onto the stage, right to the spot where Jay pointed. Whew! Finally we can get back to the show. It was both nerve wracking and funny, and unique to that performance.

The monkey song was "Thoroughly Modern Millie". No one got it. Apparently Darwin needs to read my comment to my post last night.

Until the next one,
There are lots of ways you can tell Christmas is coming to New York City. Leaves drop off the trees and are replaced by little white lights. The weather gets crisp and cool. The stores begin to decorate, and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show starts hiring elves. That’s right, there are probably 20 elves in the Christmas show spectacular, so many that they have to hire little people from all over the country.

Some will inevitably be from Los Angeles. There are a lot of little people who work in film and television in Los Angeles. When a kid is cast in a television show or film they do not get another kid to stand in for him for lighting and rehearsal. That would mean the production company would have to abide by the Coogan laws, which regulate how many hours you can work a kid. In these cases they use adults who are the same size as a child, little people. My wife works on that side of the camera and we have several little people who are good friends.

Last time Sandi was in town we met one of the little people in the Music Hall show at the corner of 7th and Broadway. Joe and Sandi worked together briefly on an ill-fated television show. Turns out, Joe lives my building.

I live a block away from the Radio City Music Hall and this building is where most of the out of town cast stays for the show. Joe has introduced me to several other little people who live here as well. He even offered me tickets to a dress rehearsal that I can’t attend because I am doing my show.

So, here is the point of me telling you all this. The other day I was going off to work. I think I remember whistling, “Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho it’s off to work I go” at the time, but that is probably revisionist history. There, waiting in the lobby, is Joe with three other little people. We exchange howdys. Joe, Shawn, Sam and Amy tell me they are waiting for two other little couples who live in the building to go to rehearsal. I say goodbye and I’m off to my show.

I’m just about at Broadway and 49th when it hits me. Three little people in the lobby and two more couples coming..… you do the math! Now, I know I am NOT Snow White, but I DO live with seven dwarves. I am certain I was whistling “Heigh Ho” for the rest of my walk to work.
As you were,

Thursday, November 02, 2006

There is a joke that goes like this: A piano player shows up at a gig. They tell him he needs to play cocktail music all night. He says he only knows two songs. The boss says,
“Well, maybe you can just play those two songs over and over. What two songs do you know?” The piano player thinks for a while and says, “Duke Ellington’s ‘Lust Life’ and ‘Jesus Loves Me’.”

If you are laughing, you are a musician. If you aren’t laughing then chalk it up to me not being able to tell a joke. The point is this. Tonight I am walking home and as I round the corner of 49th and 7th there is a cornet player squeaking out a tune. I have never seen him on that corner before and I know all the regulars. I finally realize that he is playing an almost unrecognizable rendition of “Jesus Loves Me”. I start laughing wondering if his next song is “Lush Life”. Rather than have him think I am anti-Christian, I end up giving him a buck for the worst version of “Jesus Loves Me” I have ever heard.

We had a large group of drama students from La Guardia High School at the show tonight. They were great. Thanks, come back and bring more of your friends. I loved working for you. Wish it had been a talk back night so I could get to know you all.

Speaking of which, I understand we are going to be doing an additional talk back night weekly. I’m not sure when or what night. Like most things I usually read about it in the trade papers.

The show seems to go by so fast recently. I feel like I am just warming up and it is over. There are times when I long for my theme park days when 30 minutes later we would be doing another show. My five show weekend is coming up, I’ll let you know if I still feel that way on Sunday night.
As you were,
The Wiz report for Thursday

You won't believe this but - I WON!! I WON THE GAME!! And it wasn't something easy like "Can Can". Nope! It was "School's Out For Summer" by Alice Cooper. So that makes the score something like 30 for Darwin and 5 for the Wiz. But who's counting?!

You may think that this song choice is a little odd, but it actually makes sense. At this evening's performance we had some large high school groups. They were a very lovely audience. They responded to different things than our usual audience does, so it was a bit of a different show. This show is a living, breathing entity and it changes with every audience.

This particular group latched onto lines that usually aren't the big scene stealers, such as Nethernore's "I don't have a cell phone", Bob's "You kinky devil", and Arthur Drew's jokes. Each of these lines got very big laughs. It's fun to hear what the different audiences respond to. It's part of what makes this show so special.

Until the next one,

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I met with the Telecharge operators today. These are the actual people you contact if you are buying tickets to my show or any other Broadway show on line or over the phone. They are wonderful, helpful and know more about what is happening on Broadway than most producers. This is where the buzz of Broadway is first heard.

Those operators who had not yet seen my show asked me if it was appropriate for kids. We get a lot of kids and the show certainly is appropriate for all children over four years old. There is one bad word in the entire evening. The word is calculated to have an affect and gets one of the biggest reactions of the show. It is not the word itself but the set up of the scene that causes the reaction. The ushers at the Hayes are aware enough to let parents know that it will be said when they think it is necessary to say so.

That was the case when one parent had a small child in attendance several nights ago. The parent was grateful for the “heads up” and was ready for any reaction from the child. The actual line is “well get a f----ing chisel” delivered by one of the wooden actors on stage. The reaction this evening was no different than usual and the crowd went crazy with laughter. The little girl immediately turned to her Father and said, “Daddy…. What’s a chisel.”

Sometimes we parents worry about the wrong things. I know that what a child remembers from my show is not a word, but how it felt to have their imagination exercised for an evening.
As you were,