Friday, March 31, 2006
Tonight, for just a couple of dollars, I got to see the new musical, Ring of Fire. The musical is based on the songs written or made famous by the late Johnny Cash.
The music in the show was wonderful. I recognized many of the songs though I’m not overly familiar with Johnny Cash’s work. The show doesn’t tell the story of Johnny Cash, like the recent movie Walk the Line, but it uses his music to flesh out the lyrics of the songs.
On a whole the show doesn’t stand up as a Broadway musical. It felt more like a musical revue. The vocals and performances were both very, very strong. I’m glad I saw it, though I was hoping for more as far as a structure the music…some sort of storyline to follow.
The theater (the Barrymore where I saw Jessica Lange in The Glass Menagerie several months ago) was only half full, so I fear that the show will have a short shelf life, but I am glad for the experience of hearing Johnny Cash’s songs in the heart of Manhattan.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
She wore a bulky black coat, hate and sunglasses. When we got even with one another my eyes met hers behind the sunglasses. From the side the tint of the glasses was light enough that I could see her eyes.
Just below the sunglasses was one of the most recognizable mouths in American cinema.
Once she passed me, I had to stop. I turned and watched her walk away. Her gait was the same as I’ve seen in many of her movies. I hadn’t been dreaming. It was her.
Have just begun Previews in the Broadway play, Three Days of Rain, the night before – her photo was on the cover of the New York Post this morning, which explained her extremes in concealing her familiar facial features.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
My friend Bill (we were in The Civil War together in Atlanta) is in town on a last minute vacation. He’s packing in as many shows as he can. I’ve gotten to meet up with him for dinner a couple of times and it’s been fun hearing the excitement in his voice as he talks about a show he saw the day before or the one he’s on his way to.
On Friday, Bill saw Spamalot and I saw Bridge & Tunnel which was just across the street.
Bridge & Tunnel was remarkable. It is a one-woman show written by Sarah Jones. She has spent her life listening…really listening to the people around her. Within the 90-minute show Sarah Jones plays no less than 20 characters ranging from an elderly Jewish grandmother from Long Island to a teenage boy from the Bronx. All of the stories she shares paint pictures of what it is like to be an immigrant, not 100 years ago but today. She moves effortlessly between each role, completely embodying each person. It was amazing.
Today, I scored not one but two tickets to a couple of Off-Broadway shows that have garnered a lot of attention recently.
One was Tryst, which was playing on the Upper West Side. This two person show was intense from beginning to end. The clever tag line on the poster, Who’s game is this?, was very fitting. The show is a dark romantic thriller. It is the story of a con-artist who preys on middle class women, making them believe that he loves them and then taking whatever savings they have.
In the play, Tryst, his game begins to backfire when it seems that the poor seamstress he’s trying to bilk may be on to him and have a plan of her own. The play’s ending took me, and the rest of the audience by surprise. It takes a very unexpected turn within the last 5 minutes – and as you walk out of the theater you realize that you too have been played.
Speaking of unexpected twists and trysts…I went right from the Upper West Side to the Village to see the one-man show, Confessions of a Mormon Boy.
The show is a true account of the actor/playwright’s experiences within the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints when he discovered and battled his sexuality. The show chronicles his life and struggle as he has everything and loses it again and again in a desperate fight to save his marriage and soul. The truth eventually rises to the surface destroying his marriage and his life. He moved here, to New York, and lost himself completely in a downward spiral of drugs and prostitution.
The show and his life have an incredible redemption. Just like the play earlier in the day, this show also had an unexpected twist toward the ends that struck to the heart of everyone in the audience. The honesty and power of his story and journey was overwhelming.
It was so refreshing to discover that all the hype and word of mouth was very well deserved.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
All in a day’s work…
Day in and day out I get to work for a great company, with amazing co-workers. I get to help customers find solutions to save them time and money. Like a lot of different jobs, you help people, they leave, you never seen them before and you’ll never see them again.
I don’t know if I’ll see her again, but this evening one of my customers was none other than amazingly talented (and tall!), Sigourney Weaver.
Dressed casually, just getting her life organized.
That's New York for you...you never know who you'll walk beside when you're crossing at a traffic light (Barbara Walters), who your cab will pull up beside on 96th Street (Kevin Bacon), or see at The Container Store - Sigourney Weaver.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
I was up early and at the Broadway theater to take advantage of the show’s RUSH tickets. RUSH tickets are tickets made available the day of a performance at a incredibly reduced price. The RUSH ticket process, which a lot of theaters use, rewards patrons who are up early and really want to be apart of the live theater experience.
I’m one of those patrons. I was up early and in line dedicated to trying to see the show that evening with Ivory. We were both rewarded. We were on the second row for $26.00.
You can’t beat that.
I loved the show. I noticed some nice changes that had been made since I saw it Opening Night of Previews (November 1st, 2005). The show remains true to the novel and film and does its best to cover a lot of territory in a short amount of time.
The night took an interesting turn at Intermission.
After discussing the first act with Ivory (and her guests), I made my way to the bathroom.
As I posted last week…I recently took in Deborah Gibson’s small intimate acoustic show at the Canal Room. The show was a lot of fun (see earlier journal entry) but I didn’t hang out afterwards to say hello. The club was packed with a lot of people – most of who had had more than their fair share of drinks – were just hanging out so they could say they had their pictures taken with “Debbie Gibson.”
It wasn’t a big deal to me. I’ve met Deborah on several occasions (again, see earlier journal entry) and didn’t feel the need to hang around and wait for the crowd to disperse. That just wasn’t the kind of venue I wanted to talk to her in, there was just too much going on in too little space.
Now…back to Intermission at The Color Purple.
As I was walking up the aisle…who should be sitting just off the aisle flipping through her Playbill but…yep, Deborah Gibson. She was sitting side by side with her mom, Diane. We spoke briefly before I made a mad dash to the bathroom and then back to my seat for the Second Act.
After the show, I took Ivory around to the theater’s stage door so she could meet up with the actor who plays “Harpo” for a quick photo (see below). As different actors left the theater several stopped to say hello, including LaChanze who plays the lead role as “Celie.” She and I took a quick photo (again, see below) and she mentioned that she’d seen me sitting down front. We talked briefly about the show’s pre-Broadway run in Atlanta and LaChanze’s last show, Dessa Rose that I saw the week after I moved up to NYC.
Ivory also snapped a quick photo of Deborah and I freezing in front of the Broadway theater. As my friend Jeremy said, “How cool is it that you live in a city where you can run into Deborah Gibson at the theater?”
It’s very cool.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
For my 16th Birthday my Mom & Dad gave me a ticket to the Broadway musical, Les Miserables. My Dad made the trip with me. It was life changing for me. It was my first Broadway show and also marked the first time that I’d gotten to meet Deborah Gibson.
Deborah was making her Broadway debut in Les Miz and since I knew that theater was a much more intimate venue, I had heard that meeting Deborah – at that time known by the Pop Music world as Debbie – was a lot easier. I’d read that, even though she was a the top of her Pop Music game, she exited the theater by the stage door just like everyone else.
I believed that this birthday trip might be my chance to meet her. Deborah’s last CD at the time had been called Anything Is Possible. I decided to embrace that, so I sat down and wrote her manager (and mother) a letter. I didn’t know what would happen but I thought it would be worth a shot.
A couple months later, a few weeks before my Dad and I flew to NYC, there was a message on the house’s answering machine from the manager’s assistant. The message informed me that Diane, Deborah’s mother, had received my letter and was going to making meeting Deborah a possibility.
In my letter I explained that I was traveling with my Dad and was hoping for the opportunity to go backstage and meet Deborah. The assistant explained the closeness of the theater’s backstage area and said that going backstage wouldn’t be a possibility but Deborah’s bodyguard would bring me to the stage door and Deborah would meet me there and pose for a picture.
My Dad and I flew to New York and loved the show. I soaked in every moment. I didn’t know the story or that the entire show was sung beginning to end. But I feel in love with it. The MTV crowd was there cheering on Deborah every time her foot hit the stage. It was truly a magical afternoon.
After the show I went to the stage door and asked for Deborah’s bodyguard as I had been directed. To my surprise he took us right inside. Deborah was upstairs changing, so he invited me to climb on the show’s barricade and pose for pictures. A few minutes later my Dad and I were ushered upstairs to meet Deborah. As we climbed the narrow, winding staircase I could hear the actor who had portrayed Jean Valjean vocalizing in his dressing room. Within seconds we were standing on the landing just outside Deborah’s dressing room.
Deborah came out and spent several minutes with me. We talked. She signed autographs and posed for pictures. She opened a small gifted I’d brought her and we talked about the album she was working on.
That was the first time I met Deborah.
Over the last few years, making the theater rounds, I’ve been able to meet her on several occasions. I’ve met her on the road in Boston and Indianapolis, at the AIDS Walk in Atlanta, and several times here in New York. With a string of sporadic meetings, it’s fun to see her now and the way she recognizes me. Who would’ve thought?
The other night I was able to take in a small show she did at the Canal Room here in NYC. It was a fun evening and she split the show in two, performing material from her Broadway album in the beginning the closing the show with her Pop Music tunes – as well as beautiful covers of songs by Hall and Oats and Carole King.
Below you will find pictures chronicling most of my meetings with Deborah (note the hair loss. Ha.).
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
A little more than a year ago, after singing, Marie came up to me and wanted to know if she could talk to me for a second. I said absolutely.
She pulled me aside and told me that the last rounds of chemo she’d been through had been really difficult for her. She continued on saying that while she was lying there she kept hearing my voice singing to her. She said over and over again in her heart and mind she listened to me singing His Eye is on the Sparrow. She said it gave her strength and provided a sense of calm.
She looked at me, with tears filling her eyes, and said, “No one sings it like you.”
Then the tears came to my eyes. I was stunned. I can’t imagine higher praise. The idea that, during such a trying time in one’s life, someone would not only hear a song that I love but would hear my voice – moved me deeply. I can’t think of a better, deeper compliment. It has stayed with me.
Before leaving Atlanta I did my last concert and invited Marie and her husband Scott. It remains a highlight of my life that I was able to dedicate and sing His Eye is on the Sparrow for Marie.
She will forever be tied to that song for me. No matter where I go and when I sing it, I will also think of Marie.
Her funeral is this Thursday. I would love to be there to sing it for her one more time. To sing it as a prayer and as a celebration of her life.
I will miss you, Marie.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Three weeks ago I accepted a position with The Container Store and tomorrow the new store will open at 58th and Lexington in the heart of Manhattan.
The leadership of this company has been nothing but wonderful and supportive of me. They made me an amazing monetary offer and gave me a set schedule that will allow me to make a living and still have mornings to write and audition.
For the last three weeks I’ve been immersed in training for the store’s opening. The training has been fun and engaging. I have been stretched in new ways and I’ve grown so much in such a short amount of time.
Every day and every step of the way I have seen lived out by everyone in the company the qualities – both moral and ethical – that have made them a FORTUNE 100 company seven years in a row (most years in the Top 10).
Please visit: www.thecontainerstore.com
Now…the back story…because so many people have written me asking about it…
Recently I started to really revisiting why I moved here and what I wanted to accomplish. I won’t dwell on negativity and won’t waste the time and energy to splash it all over my journal, but – as you might’ve guessed, my old job didn’t work out. For over six months I tried to make the most and the best out of a bad situation.
I don’t regret taking the position. I learned a lot. I do believe that the opportunity came into my life for a reason.
I think, in life, we’re all provided with lessons. If we learn them, we move on. We grow.
If we don’t "get it"…the lessons come around again.
One lesson I had to learn, at the end of a very damaging relationship, was that we teach other how they can treat us. A breakthrough in therapy came for me when I was asked to think about the times I accepted things that were unacceptable.
I thought I had learned the lesson. I hadn’t. The lesson revisited me. Recently I found myself once again accepting things that were unacceptable…and I wasn’t seeing it. I wasn’t stopping it. I was teaching someone how I they could treat me. My working environment became incredibly stressful. The way I was spoken to and how I was treated was beneath me.
I looked at my dreams. I asked myself all the hard questions. But that wasn’t enough. I had to take action. I had to reclaim the parts of my spirit that had been crushed.
So I did.
I began looking for another job. During the search I came in contact with The Container Store.
It was a long process but one that was well worth. For launching their company’s largest store The Container Store received over 5,000 applications and resumes. The interview process had many levels and I spoke with several different people before receiving the phone call offering me the job.
I have never felt so supported by such a large company. They have paid for me to have extensive training. They’ve empowered me to make huge customer related decisions for the company. Daily I’ve seen how so many of the decisions that are made for the company are made to best take care of their employees and customers.
Out of 5,000 applications, only 180 people were hired. Having spent the last two days with the two men who started the company in 1978, listening to the principles they believe in and beliefs they founded the business on, I am truly honored to be one of that 180.
I will share some training photos here soon. Also, I have pictures to share from the exclusive Private Party they threw last night. The party had over 2,000 guests and it went on for hours. The food was incredible. The flowers – laced through some of the company’s products – were gorgeous. The live band amazing and the dance floor packed. It was truly one of the grandest nights I’ve experienced.