Monday, May 10, 2010

Dallas in the Spring
It has been too long since I lived in Dallas to remember how beautiful it is in the spring.  The weather was perfect last week for Sandi and me.  We remember the humidity and scorching days of Dallas summer the most.  Not so this time.  The one day it rained late in the afternoon seemed to be only an opening attention getter for the beautiful rainbow that appeared around sunset.
Of course our positive Texas attitude was shaped by the fact that I was there to perform for the 70th Anniversary of the Dallas Summer Musicals.  Michael Jenkins, managing director and one of my favorite Two and Only Producers asked me to come; it was a first class Dallas society event to honor the "not for profit" Dallas Summer Musicals and raise money for kids at risk. 
We stayed at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.  That is a world famous five star hotel, located in one of most beautiful and expensive areas of Dallas.  The hotel is so friendly and service oriented you start to feel it is  your duty to let the staff spoil you.
 I grew up going to Dallas Summer Musicals but this was the first time I had ever performed on their stage. When the Two and Only came to Dallas we played  the more intimate Majestic Theatre Stage.  However, since it was my show that delivered Michael Jenkins and the Dallas Summer Musicals their first Tony©Award, I am part of the family.
The Dallas Summer Musicals was actually started by my first boss and mentor Charles R. Meeker, Jr.  I have written about him often.  He taught me most of what I know about show biz and I worked for him for 10 years until I moved to Los Angeles to seek my fortune.  
The show was great.  I shared the spotlight with Cathy Rigby, doing a scene from Peter Pan complete with flying,  David Cassidy, Ben Verene, Tom Wopat, Mitzi Gaynor and Sutton Foster. We had drinks with Sutton back at the Mansion after the show.  She is a massively talented girl and very special performer who is as nice as she is gifted.
During the final bows for the show Cathy flew as Peter Pan into the audience sprinkling fairy dust on the patrons.  It still takes my breath away to see stage flying and wire work done well.  I had never been that close to it before. Cathy, with her gymnastic abilities makes it look so easy and effort less.
The most interesting thing about it was the high tech stage craft that was used to launch her into flight above the audience.  On a predetermined signal the flying rigger grabs a large rope that is ultimately attached to a cable and the belt around Cathy's waist and he jumps into the orchestra pit.  Simple and effective.  The "flying specialist" was Steve.  He was off the next day to Barcelona to fly a seven person pyramid across a river.  I think it took more than just jumping into an orchestra pit for that.
Sandi and I moved from the Mansion to stay a few days extra with my sister and her husband.  It is always fun to be around my little sister who is still the best audience I can have.  My wife constantly refers to her  as a Saint, not just because she laughs at my jokes, but because she is who she is.  I don't think anyone who really knows my sister would disagree.  She comes from a long line of independently strong Toler women combined with the tenacity of the Johnson clan. 
We managed to spend time with my parents and a quick trip out to Dragonbone to visit my brother and his wife.  Dragonbone is beautiful especially when green and sunny. Here is a quick shot of the entrance to the Smokin' Dragon Pub which is part of Dragonbone, and one of my favorite places. It is so pretty with the landscaping and pergola in front.
So now I am back and preparing for the run at the Laguna Playhouse.  More about that later.
As you were,


Roomie said...

Thanks for the update on the Dallas trip, the show, and most importantly, the family visits...I knew you were among the Dallas elite when I saw what you were doing and where and for what...sorry that we didn't connect, but you and Sandi were two very busy peeps, and we will another time...
Carry on,
that "flying thing" always gets me as well.....

Tonda said...

It was a wonderful visit for us and your and Sandi's assessment of me is very humbling (but I'm not sure deserved) -- thank you! We never get to keep you as long as we would like! Love you both so much, Bro'.