Hey, old friends
Wow...has it really been over a year since I posted?

Just so you know, I haven't been sitting on my ass eating fudge, watching endless tv, and drinking delicious Boulder microbrews (well, I have been this weekend - but it Memorial Day weekend!).

Some of the things I've been up to this past year:

* I now live in Boulder, Colorado. A great place to write on the projects I am working on. Plus, Boulder is quite the hip place to be. Very inspiring with all the artists here.

* Lots of teaching piano, voice, songwriting to kids and adults of all ages. I found out that I am a good, intuitive teacher. I enjoy my interaction with my students, knowing my job is to inspire them.

* Going back on tour with the national tour of In the Mood for a short, yet wonderful stint. It was great traveling the USA and performing the music of the 1940s!

* May 2012 saw the premiere of my musical Waiting... here in Boulder, Co. A big accomplishment, not only for me, but our entire production staff and cast.
Also, I can say I am a playwright now! We are now gearing up to record the CD demo this summer and also looking at submitting it to major Fringe festivals and regional theatres.

* Continuing my writing of The Souls of Her Feet (music) and What Would Esther Williams Do in a Situation Like This? (lyrics and music).

* Because of my experience producing/writing
Waiting..., I was asked to become the producer on a new independent film The African Boy.

So, there are lots of projects happening. The creative juices are flowing. More on all the above and opinions coming soon, now that I am back blogging.
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the fantasticks and no, no, nanette

December 2010/January 2011 finds me as Music Director for TheatreZone's two winter Equity productions of The Fantasticks and No, No, Nanette in Naples, Florida. The Fantasticks runs December 2-12, 2010 and No, No Nanette runs January 6-16, 2011.

in the mood national tour 2010-11

so, no time to post on my neglected little blog this past fall because i was busy.


just a wee bit.

found out in august after my long hot summer at stagedoor manor performing arts camp in the catskills (where i did
13, and also BIG with richard maltby, jr. coming into rework a few things...) that i got my first BIG time professional gig MDing the national tour of in the mood, a music revue featuring the wonderful big band music of the 1940s.

we were all over the place. the west coast. the east coast. the midwest. on a bus with 23 people. 13 stellar musicians and six awesome singers (3 gals, 3 guys - one of each which made up the dance team) doing this great show for appreciative audiences (sometimes small, sometimes sold out). small venues, big humongous venues - we performed many places that were on the vaudeville circuit and also on a stage that frank sinatra christened (the cerritos center in cerritos, ca)! always playing that great music for two hours. eating deliciously catered meals before shows and seeing some beautiful places (and some no-so-beautiful places). lots of laughs and fun and sightseeing. and tons of pictures taken. some great hotels (we won't mention the not-so-great - whoops, just did!).

every show, we had the opportunity to go out on that stage to begin a show that came to life through the music and our entire company's talents which brought back beautiful memories for our audiences. brought a lump to my throat many times because you could look out in the audience (the band was on stage) and see and hear people's reactions. a rock concert for the older crowd and the young at heart. we were rock stars!

and to have my family see me perform with this caliber of show was thrilling in itself.

i'm so grateful for this opportunity and all i learned on this tour. i became a better, stronger musician and met some great people. i learned alot about others, mainly that we're all here together and whether we know it or not, we're all in the same boat, um, bus, heading in the same direction, more or less.

so . . .

we are now on hiatus until february when we begin our tour again and go until may. rumors swirl around that we are headed to austrailia, too? maybe, but another thing i learned on tour is don't count your chickens until they hatch. or you will go nuts.

looking forward to getting back on the road . . .

* * *

our tour manager, art, sent us all the statistics of our tour. check it out.

In The Mood 2010 Fall Tour Stats

  • 8 days rehearsal with just cast/MD
  • 4 days rehearsal with cast/band
  • 55 total days (not counting rehearsal days)
  • 10,222.7 approximate miles traveled by bus (or an average of 185.86727/day)
  • 622 miles - Longest city to city travel
  • 57 miles - Shortest city to city travel
  • 40 performance days
  • 32 evening performances
  • 20 matinee performances
  • 12 days with 2 shows
  • 11 travel days
  • 4 days off (***YES, YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY***)
  • 30 different hotels
  • 14 multiple day hotels
  • 23 states and the District of Columbia
  • Performed in MT, OR, NV, WA, CA, UT, AZ, NM, MO, IL, IN, MI, WV, VA, PA, NJ and NC
  • Rode through ID, TX, OK, OH, DC, MD, and DE

We saw (or slept through) the “M”, Coeur d’Alene Lake, “Hot Poop”, too many opportunities to gamble, Donner Pass, the Pacific Ocean, Mt. Shasta (oops! In the clouds), trip to/and Crater Lake NP, Redwood NP, Humboldt Bay, Napa Valley, Sutter’s Fort, 2 bari’s ((H)Al), Hangtown Fries, Sequoia, Santa Barbara, the Grapevine, NY, NY, the Great Salt Lake, Virgin River Canyon, Kingman, “The Big Unit”, too many “Hooters”, Petrified Forest NP, dinosaurs, largest cross west of the whatever, the “Arch”, the Zoo, Chicago, too much of Ohio, Civil War battlefields, Washington, DC, lots of family, lots of great food, and lots of fun. All while performing a great show that touched the hearts and memories of many across the country.

  • Unknown/Unable to compute: gallons/vats of alcohol consumed


ITW review: Caldwell’s ‘Into the Woods’ concert comes off splendidly
here's a great review from the palm beach artspaper. keep in mind that we started rehearsals on tuesday and opened friday night! quite a talented cast!

* * *

By Hap Erstein

‭“‬I wish‭ …”

They are the first two and last two words of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s‭ ‬
Into the Woods,‭ ‬an audacious and whimsical shuffle of lesson-laden Grimm’s fairy tales.‭

It has long been my wish that a South Florida theater company would take up the challenge of presenting some of Sondheim’s innovative musicals,‭ ‬even though they require large casts of vocally nimble performers and are rarely very popular because of the demands they make on audiences to lean in,‭ ‬listen carefully and think.

Earlier this month,‭ ‬the fledgling Slow Burn Theatre Company produced Sondheim’s‭ ‬
Assassins,‭ ‬and‭ ‬for this weekend only,‭ ‬Boca Raton’s Caldwell Theatre performs a concert version of‭ ‬Into the Woods,‭ ‬the brilliant composer-lyricist’s multi-layered fable for our times.‭ ‬It’s the Caldwell’s second concert version in seven months of one of Sondheim’s challenging and rewarding shows‭ – ‬last fall,‭ ‬it was the Pulitzer Prize-winning‭ ‬Sunday in the Park with George.

Like‭ ‬
Sunday in the Park,‭ ‬this scores-in-hands,‭ ‬performed-at-music-stands concert opened after an insanely short rehearsal period and the results are nothing less than miraculous.‭ ‬Into the Woods may not be the show to convince those who cannot fathom what all the fuss is about Sondheim,‭ ‬but those who appreciate his complex,‭ ‬emotionally dense work will surely enjoy what director Clive Cholerton and his cast of‭ ‬15‭ ‬intrepid actors are serving up.

It was Lapine’s notion to interweave several familiar fairy tales‭ ‬–
Cinderella,‭ ‬Little Red Riding Hood,‭ ‬Jack the Giant Killer and‭ ‬Rapunzel,‭ ‬among others‭ ‬– with a new story about a baker and his wife who yearn to have a child.‭ ‬His aim was to show that between‭ “‬once upon a time‭” ‬and‭ “‬happily ever after‭” ‬is not good and evil or right versus wrong,‭ ‬but a forest of moral ambiguities.

Everyone,‭ ‬it seems,‭ ‬has a wish.‭ ‬Cinderella wants to dress up and attend the festival at the palace.‭ ‬Jack wants to keep his beloved pet cow,‭ ‬who is destined to be sold at the market.‭ ‬Rapunzel wants out of that darned tower.‭ ‬And the baker and his wife want relief from their‭ ‬infertility problem.

It is not too much of a spoiler to note that their wishes all come true,‭ ‬at least temporarily,‭ ‬by intermission.‭ ‬But Sondheim being Sondheim,‭ ‬the characters‭’ ‬happiness proves fleeting,‭ ‬and the second act turns distinctly darker as the old saw about being careful what you wish for is played out.

If the first act ends happily and neatly,‭ ‬it is mere preface for the second act,‭ ‬which takes us beyond the fairy tales into more dense thematic territory as the characters learn about death and the importance of community when they take a perilous return trip into the woods.

Sondheim is in a playful mood in the first act,‭ ‬tossing off a Disneyfied ditty for his title tune,‭ ‬his only ever rap song for a conniving witch,‭ ‬a seductive solo for Little Red’s wolf,‭ ‬a duet for two preening princes and a tongue-twister description of the palace ball by Cinderella.‭ ‬As much fun as they are,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬the score really hits its stride late in the second act with four message-filled,‭ ‬melodic numbers‭ ‬–
Last Midnight,‭ ‬No More,‭ ‬No One Is Alone and‭ ‬Children‭ ‬Will Listen.‭

Heading the cast as the Witch is Laura Hodos,‭ ‬who puts a genuinely funny,‭ ‬attitude-rich spin on her dialogue and has plenty of vocal power.‭ ‬Many of the performers are veterans of the‭ ‬Sunday in the Park concert,‭ ‬most notably Wayne LeGette and Melissa Minyard,‭ ‬who were Georges Seurat and his mistress Dot,‭ ‬transformed now into the childless Baker and his wife,‭ ‬the emotional center of the show.‭ (‬If‭ ‬
Company‭ ‬was Sondheim’s show about marriage,‭ ‬a subject for which he has no firsthand knowledge,‭ ‬Into the Woods is his parenting musical,‭ ‬another topic for which he has no practical experience.‭)

LeGette and Minyard inhabit the most fully dimensional characters,‭ ‬a nebbish and his pushy spouse,‭ ‬the most likely targets for audience identification.‭ ‬Jim Ballard and Shane R.‭ ‬Tanner are slyly self-centered,‭ ‬creamy-voiced princes and Beth Dimon is back with another maternal role as Jack’s exasperated mom.

Among the new members of this informal musical theater rep company is Margery Lowe,‭ ‬who trills her way through the vocal demands of Cinderella.‭ ‬New to me,‭ ‬but I am eager to see more of them,‭ ‬are John Debkowski as mellow-voiced,‭ ‬but fuzzy-headed Jack and Joseph Reed as the show’s narrator and a role that is necessarily designated‭ ‬only as‭ ‬Mysterious Man.

Surely the hardest working person onstage is musical director and keyboardist Michael O’Dell,‭ ‬whose one-man accompaniment is superb.‭ ‬When the Caldwell wins the lottery,‭ ‬it would be great if they could spend a bit more on a couple of additional musicians and body microphones for the cast.‭ ‬With Sondheim,‭ ‬the lyrics are so crucial,‭ ‬and many of the overlapping nuances got lost with the stationery mikes.

Into the Woods can be a production-heavy show,‭ ‬but illustrator Michael McKeever showed how locations could be established with a few well-conceived slide projections.

Cholerton and company have hit upon a format that is very appealing and relatively affordable.‭ ‬Future concerts will surely investigate other composers,‭ ‬but when the Caldwell is ready for more Sondheim,‭ ‬it should look into presenting his latest musical,‭ ‬
Road Show,‭ ‬which happens to take place in part in Boca Raton.

INTO THE WOODS,‭ ‬Caldwell Theatre,‭ ‬7901‭ ‬N.‭ ‬Federal Highway,‭ ‬Boca Raton.‭ ‬Through Sunday.‭ ‬$25-$35.‭ ‬Call:‭ (‬561‭) ‬241-7432‭ ‬or‭ (‬877‭) ‬245-7432.
a camping i will go . . .
this summer will find me music directing at stagedoor manor performing arts camp in the catskills (new york). 250 theatre-crazed kids performing over 39 (!) full-scale productions. i've taught at summer theatre camps before but this is the first "camp" camp. musicals 24/7 for six weeks in the catskills at a former catskills resort. during the two 3 week sessions i will be MDing _______ and ________ (because of contractual issues i am not allowed to tell which shows yet....but they're fun/challenging and ones i haven't done yet!)

btw, stagedoor manor is where the movie CAMP was filmed.

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next show: into the woods
into the woods is the next show i will be music directing! can't wait! here's the details:

into the woods - in concert
may 21 - 23, 2010
the caldwell theatre * boca raton, florida

we've got a mighty talented equity cast assembled to go
"into the woods."

click here for tickets and info.

move on
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holding pattern

sometimes all you can do is sit and listen . . . and wait.

that's how you'll know.

i'll let you know when i do.

* * *

I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am.

~Sylvia Plath

What can we do but keep on breathing in and out, modest and willing, and in our places?

~Mary Oliver
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    A goal in mind. A vision. Daily steps to achieving the somewhat unachievable. A record of what is accomplished. Given FAITH that proceeding toward a transformation that will transform my life. Trust in the process. Chipping away at the fat while building glorious muscle. Seeing myself in a different light and gaining confidence beyond my wildest imagination. Becoming real. My reality. My Transformation at a cellular level. Using informed knowledge to change my life. For me and no one else. Giving to myself will allow me to give to others. Loving myself better so I can love others better. One day at a time. One week at a time planned out. To become months and years of better fitness for myself. Again, grasshopper, trust in the process.