Sunday, December 30, 2012

Does anyone read this any more?

It's my own fault for not being very consistent with this, but one of my resolutions for the new year is to keep this up and be a little more interesting than in the past year.  I don't know if I can do it, but putting it out there for all is one way to be held accountable for it, right?

So I ask this... if you have read this, please post something to let me know that this is not all in vain.  Otherwise, I may just give up. 

Talk soon!  Happy New Year to all!

J. Michael

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ring out the old, ring in the new

So Christmas is over, thank goodness.  I can't say it wasn't stressful, but thankfully, it all came together in the end and nobody threw anyone else overboard. 

On to New Years.  I suppose I should put my resolutions out there in public so that I can be held responsible, but to be honest, how many of us TRULY keep any of our resolutions past February anyway?  I would LIKE to lose some more weight and hit the gym as often as possible, but motivation is such a big factor, all I can resolve to do it try.

Saving money.  I need to.  In watching Suzie Ormond on TV, I have learned that I am gonna be in pretty bad shape come time to retire.  Living paycheck to paycheck with no pension and no savings is a burden.  It's gonna be rough come next July when the ship contracts are over. 

We are in Brisbane again in a couple days, and I am looking forward to having a day to myself.  The last couple of times have been stressful mentally, going to see Merle.  Don't get me wrong, I am so glad i got the chance to go, but it can be really depressing.  Thankfully, she is moving out of the home she is in now and moving in with her son and his family, so hopefully things will look a little brighter for her.  She wants me to come up and see her yet again, but I don't have transportation, and honestly, I need a break.

I am awaiting a new suit from the designer Robeaux, which will hopefully be waiting for me next Auckland.  I am excited, because not only is it going to be an amazing look, it means my solo show and possible solo career may be off to a running start!  I have hired Lisa Crouch to do my music charts, and I have sent her so much music to write.  It will probably cost a fortune that I don't have, but in the long run, I feel that I will get my money back and then some.  Maybe I will be able to retire after all... HA!

The Christmas show was interesting.  It went well.  It was short and sweet.  Darian and I opened with a mash-up of Let it Snow and Winter Wonderland, after which, she sang an amazing version of Ave Maria.  I then sang a new song I found called "Thank You" which got me choked up first time around.  We then did Do You Hear What I Hear and closed with White Christmas and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.  In between there were a couple of other numbers from the dancers and guest ents.  I think it was fun and served it's purpose.  

Speaking of winter wonderland... I was putting away all my Christmas decorations today, because I don't want to have any up by New Years... bad karma.  But I was looking for places to store stuff, and lo and behold...under my bed, in the drawers there, was a plethora of Christmas decorations that I had no idea were there.  Oh well... it would have made my cabin a winter wonderland.

More later, as I am about to run out of time on this card...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

So I tried to sleep on it...

This is one of those occasions where it didn't work.  I mean, I feel better about the whole Christmas show situation, so yes, I guess it did work.  (Thanks, Dad)

But for the second night in as many days, some idiots (crew members who shall remain nameless) decide at 2:30 in the morning to run up and down the halls shouting, drunkenly, of course.  Last night (this morning) they literally POUNDED on the door across the hall trying to get whomever lives there to wake up and open the door.  I wonder if it ever occured to them that maybe the person wasn't there...?

It went on for 45 minutes.  I'm not exaggerating.  It started at 2:30 and went until 3:20.  Of course, it woke me up from a long awaited and much needed deep sleep, and of course, then I couldn't get back to sleep again. 

Am I going to become one of those grumpy old men who sits on his front porch and is unhappy for the remainder of his days?  I hope not.  Maybe I should re-think doing another contract.

But here we are in Wellington.  It is a gorgeous day.  I went CD shopping at some secondhand stores, and found a few CDs that will make a nice addition to my collection.  One of them I found makes me think of my sister, Amy.  It is Andy Gibb's "Album".  I remember she had such a big crush on him.  I also remember going to Blossom Music Center to see Neil Sedaka in concert when I must have been 10?  8?  And Andy Gibb was his opening act.  No one knew who he was.  Then he made his hit with Love Is Thicker Than Water and Shadow Dancing, as well as I Just Want To Be Your Everything... the rest is history.

So it made me laugh, and I can't wait to crank it up in my cabin and reminisce about my childhood.

Christmas is just days away.  Hours, if you want to put it that way.  I am so not ready.  I have to get a secret Santa gift...the final "biggie" and I can't find a thing. 

Summer in New Zealand makes me depressed.  Not as depressed as a certain Band Master... but nonetheless.  There are so many people walking around in perfect fitness, and here I am looking and feeling like Jabba the Hutt.  Fat.  It is a vicious circle.  I get depressed, so i don't want to go to the gym, so i stay in my cabin and eat.  Then I get more depressed... ugh.  I need to totally get over myself.  Just do it, dumbass!!

Hmm.  I have another Christmas show rehearsal today.  Piano Man tonight.  Day off tomorrow.  Christmas Eve I think I have off as well.  Christmas Day we are in Napier, I think.  I'd love to go see Les Miserables, but I don't even know if there is a movie theatre in Napier, not to mention we don't usually have a full day there.  Maybe in Auckland. 

Alrighty.  I should go.  Get out in the sun and enjoy the time I have in port, instead of sitting in McDonalds using very slow internet which is just frustrating me even more. 

I'll get over this, I promise.  It's just a phase and that time of the year.


Why the Holidays sea

First I must preface this entry by saying that this is simply a rant.  Something I needed to get off my chest because of the day I had.  With that said, I know I will fell better tomorrow, and as Dad says..."Sleep on it.  You'll feel better in the morning."  I know his words are true.  I'll let you know.

People take Christmas cruises for three different reasons.  First, because they want to GET AWAY for the holidays.  Second, because they are being SENT AWAY for the holidays by folks who don't necessarily want them around.  Third, because the cruises are SO CHEAP, they are too good to turn down.  Which makes the clientele unique during the holidays.  

Which in a nutshell, means that this crowd is interesting.  They are so amazingly quiet during the shows that we wonder if the zombie apocalypse has begun, but at the end of the show they are screaming for more.  Go figure.  Unfortunately there is one young man who sits down front who looks like he is having his toenails removed one by one with no anesthetic.  Most of the unhappy people sit down front where we can see them.  Why is that? 

Okay.  So we were in Akaroa today.  The day was beautiful.  I spent the morning with Brandi, taking headshots and photos of the roses and different flowers blooming there.  I love Akaroa.

Had lunch at a fish and chips, not my favorite one that burned down... but that one IS getting ready to reopen on Boxing Day.  It was good.  The french fries were good.

Got back on board around 2:30pm in time to get in a quick nap before the rehearsal for the Christmas show.  That was set for 4pm.  A quick note about the Christmas show:  Our Company Manager, Darian, Myself, the Cruise Director, and the Music Manager/Bandmaster all got together a few days ago to talk about the show we were going to do on Christmas Day.  The Cruise Director wanted something upbeat and basic, so Darian and myself came up with a few songs to do... each of us would do a duet with each other, and a solo number as well. The Dancers would be doing a number, and one of the Guest Ents coming on would do a ten minute set as well.  Din, Dan, Done.  Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy.  You get the drift?  The music manager had said that he had a bunch of charts of Christmas Carols and holiday song that we could choose from.   Darian and Myself decided on "Do You Hear What I Hear" and "Let it Snow/Winter Wonderland" as our duets, and Darian would sing "Ave Maria" and I would be doing a number called "Thank You".  Of course, there are no charts per se for these songs, and the bandmaster knew this going into it.  He didn't seem worried if we only had lead sheets.  So off I go to find lead sheets.

Finding lead sheets was fairly easy, thanks to friends on Facebook.  I used a music writing program called Sibelius to mash together Let it Snow and Winter Wonderland.  I managed to give it a dance break for the dancers and a couple of key changes to make it less tedious.  I thought I did a pretty good job.  As for the other two, I found a copy of some charts for the Whitney Houston version of Do You Hear... and so I tried to do a chart for it, but after ten hours of frustration, I gave up and did a simple melody with the chords written in.  "Thank You" was another story.  I got the music, but it was only the melody written out, no chords, no piano accompaniment, no nothing.  Okay.  I can deal.  I found the chords, and started to write out some of what i could get off the recording of the original.  I thought I did a pretty good job, considering there was nothing before.  I now had something that could at least give the band an idea of what the songs should sound like.

Apparently band members and musicians... okay, SOME band members and musicians (I won't lump them all together, because so many friends of mine are musicians)  so, SOME band members apparently need to be fed by hand every single note that they are to play.  I find this hard to believe because our band uses lead sheets that are ONLY chords to do their big band sets and their jazz sets. 

So rehearsal comes.  The band master goes off about how there are no charts for the songs and how he "never in his professional career" has he ever had to do anything like this before.  He starts throwing around the "F" word at least a dozen times in a single sentence.  I finally broke.  I said to him "Be thankful you got any music at all.  What would you have done if I had not given you anything?"  of course, that set him off even more.  He then went on to say he was just depressed and wanted to toss his trumpet in the sea and throw himself to be eaten by the sharks... and of course some more "F" this and "F" that's for good measure.

Did I mention that the rest of the cast and the crew and the cruise director were watching this happen?

I guess I also should mention that I was recording the entire thing as well, on my little digital recorder so i could practice without the band.  Needless to say, I took the entire thing VERY personally.  I know that the charts are not up to par.  I know that.  You don't need to rub it in.  I have never written out parts before.  Did he call me to talk about what could be done?  No.

Did I call him?  No.  So I admit that we are both at fault.  But enough is enough.  We all have a show to do.  We are all a little depressed at this time of year because we are away from our loved ones.  It's not my fault.

Oy.  So then I had to do a show tonight with the band, and act as if everything was cool.  It was actually one of our better shows.  The band master did come up to me after the show and apologize, which I have to give him credit for, but I wanted to say "Really?  Are you F'ing kidding me?"  But I didn't.  I held my tongue and thanked him for his apology and let him know that I accepted it.  Grrrrrrrr.

So I am trying not to go to bed angry.  We are going to be in Wellington tomorrow, which I enjoy.  I will be spending money.  Sorry, Dad.  I have to get some gifts for the cast, and I still have to do some other Christmas shopping as well.  I would like to get the new recording of Les Miserables, which was released on itunes today.

As I said before, this was a rant.  I will get off my soap box now.  I will try to upload some of the pictures I took in Akaroa.  It makes me calm knowing that the world did not end, and that there is still beauty in nature.  Norm, if you read this, please know that is why I have not gotten back to you yet.

Happy Holidays, and as our band master said... Merry F'ing Christmas!

ps...I have tried to upload some pictures and it keeps crashing my computer... that's a whole other story.  Maybe Santa will send me a new computer for Christmas.  An iPad!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Holidays are HERE!

And I am still here as well.  Another Christmas at Sea.  Hoo boy.

Actually, I hope it won't be all that bad.  Unfortunately on the news these days, all there is is bad news.  As I write this, I am watching the news accounts about the shootings at Newtown, Connecticut.  As an educator, I can only imagine the horror the folks are going through there.  It is every teacher's nightmare what happened.  My heart is so sad, mere words can't describe the amount of pain and sympathy I feel for that community.

With the holidays upon us, the Cast is getting ready to hunker down and celebrate.  We are planning on doing a holiday show, the crew is having a holiday disco, and we are pretty much gearing up for the end of the world as well.  There are some cast members who subscribe to the 12/21/12 theory.  We'll see.  Between the earthquakes and the basic crumbling of the world's economy, things are pretty bleak out there.  Thankfully we have the human element to look forward to. 

I have been watching the TV series "The Walking Dead" which is basically about the zombie apocolypse that takes over the world.  It is really fascinating, believe it or not.  It is not just about these zombies that are invading, but about the people who have to band together and deal with them.  They have to leave loved ones, lose loved ones to different types of attacks and situations, and it makes me think about what I would do in the case of an emergency on board.  I guess that's a good thing?

I don't have much else to report, really.  I should do a year in review for everyone to read, but I may do that later this cruise when I am not paying for internet connection. 

I had the opportunity to revisit Christchurch this past cruise, and it made me cry, truly.  The city is coming back, and they are very resilient, but the city is horribly broken. 

I am going to go.  I don't know what else to type right now.  So it's best to be silent, i suppose.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Cruise Dynamic

One of the drawbacks to the world of working on a cruise ship as an entertainer is that you have to maintain almost perfect health.  There are no understudies.  There is no one who can step in for you at moment's notice.  They can't simply re-block the show to cover a singer. 

This happened last night.  Darian, my leading lady has lost her voice.  The show was Piano Man.  It was a formal night.  Beginning of the cruise.  She waited until too late to go see the doctor, and by then she could not be signed off of work because the show had already been scheduled and printed in the daily list of activities.   This is extremely frustrating.  We do have "safety tracks," which is basically a recorded performance of someone who has done the show in the past.  For some unknown reason, they can't (won't?) record over these vocals to substitute our voices.  It works okay for  the female voice, to a certain point, but when the lead male singer was an African-American with a very unique vocal quality, it makes me look like a fool trying to lip-synch to his voice.  But I digress.  Darian was the one who had to do the lip-synching.  I ended up taking about six of her solos added on to what I was already singing.  Needless to say, my voice is exhausted today.  Spent the day in solitude, resting voice, mind and body.

What I don't understand is this: Why was it okay to overdub those voices way back when, but not any more?  It's not like they hired studio singers at an outrageous amount of money to record safety tracks.  They (the folks on the ship) used a live performance to cover their asses just in case something like this happens.  When we have a contract that lasts over six months, it is bound to happen.  We have been traveling to and from New Zealand, which weather-wise is a mess on allergies and keeping a body healthy.  Not to mention we never get a break, really.  We also went from three months of basically one show a week for the longer cruises, to performing 10 mights a week, out of a 14-day cruise.

Thank goodness my voice has held up.  But between those of us who are reading this, I have to thank my training, and the belief that the show must go on.  The new kids are spoiled.  I'll say it.  They are.

In other news, I went to see my friend, Merle, this past Brisbane.  She is bedridden with cancer, and is now in a rest home.  What an interesting and frustrating story.  Her brother and kids have basically emptied out her house and bank accounts, because they thought she was as good as dead.  She is hanging on.  She's a tough cookie.  The rest home is charging her for spa treatments she doesn't get, and she isn't even allowed to have her personal doctor involved.  Now I don't know how the Australian health care system works, but to me this is outrageous.   Shouldn't her GP who has been her personal doctor for most of her life be involved in the decisions and such?  The doctors she has now are insisting that her scans are "clean" but they won't give her a clean bill of health to go on a cruise, which is what her life is made up of.  Cruises.  That's what she does.  The doctors won't let her see her scans and won't share them with her personal doctor. 

Yikes.  Kind of nightmare.  She is doing well, though I think she was just trying to put on a brave face for me.  I know she is very sick, but I tried to get her to keep eating and start doing more exercises to keep her getting stronger.  Her legs are too weak to hold her up for too long, and therefore she can't walk. 

We are in Auckland again tomorrow, which is a nice city.  I don't have any plans of sorts, but I will be going to see Hobbiton when I am in Tauranga, and then I am hoping to get back to Christchurch while we are in Akaroa.  I'll write more later. 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner on board

So they did a really nice job of the traditional Turkey Day dinner!  We had turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Pumpkin soup, and Pumpkin Pie for dessert.  Not bad.  Better than last year.  It was a shame that only four of us on the entertainment cast went.  Ah well. 

Tomorrow we are in Tauranga, and I am anxious to get a good head start to my day.  I have some secret Santa stuff to buy, which I can't reveal here, because YOU NEVER KNOW when someone is gonna go peeking.  I may go see a movie, too. 

Love and miss you all.  It's 1:45am.  Kinda tired as I did not sleep at all last night yet again. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some photos from Sydney... a little late.

Thanksgiving 2012

It is Thanksgiving Day here.  We are in Auckland, New Zealand.  I didn't sleep at all again last night, which was very frustrating.  I was trying to identify why it is that I have stopped sleeping, and I really have no idea.  It used to be thoughts of May 16th, 2007, but now it is simply age, I think.

The last three days have been spent at sea, and I have been teaching my "Afternoon at the Improv" class for the schoarship@sea program on board.  We started with 9 people, and we have grown to about 20.  Very exciting.  The group is hysterical, and they obviously love to have fun.  The Cruise Director's father is traveling with us, which is somewhat nerve-wracking, but he is a nice and gentle man who is there to have fun, and not necessarily spy on the goings-on around the ship.

They are closing the watertight doors, which usually means my internet is about to be cut off, so I will write more after dinner tonight in the dining room.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I got sent an angel today!

To fill you in on what is happening in my life:

Life at sea is full of exciting, wonderful, horrible, thrilling, boring, breathtaking, and utterly devastating moments.  In my career at sea, I have witnessed a search and rescue effort to find survivors of a plane crash in the North Atlantic, I have witnessed the devastation that an earthquake causes, seen the aftermath of a tsunami, witnessed a body washing up on shore, to name a few. 

But I have also seen amazing sunsets, met some astonishing people, seen the smiles on people's faces when they enjoy the shows I perform. 

A couple years ago I met a woman, Merle, who was sailing alone on one of the world cruises.  She and I just kind of "hit it off" and have been friends ever since.  She has sailed with me several times, and this past year, she was in the middle of a cruise when she got a sore throat.  This turned into a relapse of her cancer, and before I knew it, I got an email from her saying she had collapsed and was now bedridden waiting pretty much for "the end."   She lives north of Brisbane, just off the Gold Coast, which is about an hour and a half from where our ship docks.  We email several times a week, and I continually try to keep my emails upbeat.  Her cancer has spread to her brain, and having dealt with that with my grandmother, I know that once cancer hits the brain, it metastasizes  fairly quickly. 

Merle wants nothing more than to come on a cruise.  She can't get out of bed, however.  She has said on several occasions that she would like me to drive up to see her.  This makes me very nervous.  Foreign country, different laws, I don't drive a great deal, much less on the opposite side of the road.  Frankly, I am terrified of the many things that could go wrong.  I could miss the ship, get lost, etc.  So I have gently been putting it off.

This past cruise, I got a message from the Cruise Director that there was a woman on board who wanted to talk to me.  He said that we have a "mutual friend who is very sick."  I figured it was a friend of Merle's and mine. 

Well, this past cruise I was dealing with my own bout of depression and homesickness, not really wanting to go out or talk to anyone.  I think I got off the ship once the entire cruise.  I didn't call the cabin number I was given until today, the last day of the cruise.  I tried to time it where I knew the occupant would be out of their cabin, because I really didn't want to go out and talk to anyone.  I told the automated voice mail that I would be at a certain place at a certain time, and if they wanted to meet me, that's where I would be. 

So I showed up and met a lovely woman named Carolyn.  Yes, she is a friend of Merle's.  She told me that Merle is not doing well at all.  She had been up to see her and basically people are starting to show up to say their goodbyes.  A tear came to my eye, as the Merle I knew was one who I would meet in one of the lounges to take a spin around the dance floor.   She is a proud woman, and talk about strong-willed... this lady does not take no for an answer.  To picture her bedridden is devastating.  She told me that Merle's family has basically been acting like vultures.  They have disposed of most of her personal things, without her permission and knowledge of where the items have gone.  Is this what I was like when my grandparents passed? 

Carolyn asked me if I would be interested in going to visit her on one of the times my ship is in port.  Talk about an answer to a prayer.  I of course said yes, and we now have plans to go visit Merle on the 2nd of December.  We are going to keep it a surprise.   I will post here how that goes.  I am planning on taking her copies of the shows from the ship, and I am trying to get her to stay positive enough to gain some weight and try to at least get her into a wheelchair.  I'd love to be able to take her outside and "dance". 

The holidays are coming up, and for some reason I always question my own mortality at this time of the year.  Though my homesickness has not gone away, I am able to recognize that I have got to get out of my funk.  I have plays to write, a musical to finish, and other projects i need to see to fruition.  I am going to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama.  This is my goal.  My personal story of my last six years of hell is capable of it.  In the meantime, I continue to travel and see the wonders of the world, and thanks to people like Merle and Carolyn, Peggy and my parents, my sister, and my extended family, I am grateful to be here. 

More later!!

J. Michael Beech

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pondering the world

I was sitting backstage a few days ago watching the accordion player warm up for his show.  It made me think of my Auntie Evelyn and her accordion.  Then it made my mind wander to my Grandpa Katona and listening to him play his violin and talk funny Hungarian phrases to my Great Grandma Cihlar. 

Then I began to feel old.  And lonely.

My leading lady has a new boyfriend, so the time she and I would be spent hanging out, she now has someone else to hang out with.  I am jealous.  There I said it.  But I will be okay.  Just lonely. 

We are traveling to New Caledonia and the islands of Fiji this cruise, which makes me wonder "What on Earth do I have to be upset about?"  Nothing.  Things are great.  I have a wonderful job, some great friends in the States, and we have a president who hopefully will start to turn things around in the next four years.  If we have four more years.

Earthquakes are happening all around, storms are destroying people's lives and our infrastructure.  What is next?  Those people who subscribe to the December 21st, 2012 theory are probably doing their last bits to hunker down and get into survival mode.  And here I am floating around on a luxury liner, waiting to find what, Mister Right?  Does he even exist?  Even if I found him, would he stay interested in a guy who spends most of his life moving around?   Not to mention the other issues that come with dating a guy like me.

Ugh.  I am a mess.  Please know, dear reader, that I will be over this in a matter of days.  It comes and goes with the phases of the moon.   Mom asked me to blog, and so here I am, blogging.  I wish I had some great humourous story to write about, but not much funny stuff is happening. 

I did two shows of Moments to Remember with my fly down.  Is that funny?  Apparently there were people in the first row who were trying to let me know, but I managed to miss their signals.  Thankfully, the costume is one where the pants are baggy, so the fly sorta stays shut automatically.

I have been watching the entire series of "Brothers and Sisters", which has not really helped my loneliness, and then when I get to the end of the series, the last three episodes are missing, and the final episode only has 8 minutes in the file.  Ugh!  Very frustrating. 

So now I have moved on to "Once Upon A Time".  This is a fascinating series!  I was hooked from the pilot episode, and even though I am only on episode 5, it is awesome.  I would love to be a writer for a series like this one. 

Speaking of writing, one of the things I need to hunker down and do myself is get back to writing.  I have so many projects started, and I should finish them.  Oscar, 031, Under the Bus, and others need some attention.  If I want to win the Pulitzer for Playwriting, I need to get to it. 

I am still trying to save money, and believe it or not, I have been doing my best so far out of any contracts.  There are days where I can go to port and spend a couple hundred dollars, but there are also entire cruises where I spend next to nothing.  I am proud of myself.  I hope it helps me establish some roots somewhere in the next year or so.

I am worried about the house on Fire Island.  I don't know if it is standing or a pile of rubble, and I have not been able to get through to Michael to see what the status is.  Michael is not doing well, apparently, and that has me worried, too.  I don't like being away from all this uncertainty.  But no doubt it will follow me wherever I go, right?

I have been considered for another contract on the Sea Princess, for the beginning of the next world cruise in 2013, but I have yet to see a contract, and don't know if I should take a teaching position that I have been offered as well.  They overlap, so i can only choose one.  Not sure what to do.

So there you go.  My blog post.  I will do my best to try and post more.  Until then, thanks for reading. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sailing the Great Barrier Reef

So we are heading toward Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.  Have nod had any shows yet this cruise, which has been a nice change, but I know that it will change very soon.  Once the Asia trip is over, we get down to the nitty gritty of shows every couple of days, so I am resting up during the calm before the storm.

Last cruise was great.  Met some really nice folks, and some I had sailed with before, and some I am sure I will sail with again.  This cruise is chock full of former sailmates.  I sold lots of my CD's last cruise, and so far have sold 4 of my books.  I only have two left!

I am starting to teach an adult improvisation class on board, which should be a lot of fun.  We will be using the Jammers Nightclub to turn into an "Afternoon at the Improv".  Sounds like loads of fun, eh?  I'll let you know how it goes.  We have Shimmy tomorrow and the day after, and the day after is my first class with the sailing improv people.  I plan on doing a lot of different theatre games with them, kind of like you would see on "Whose Line is it Anyway".  Again, I have no idea how it will go over, but it should be fun.  It is something to do during the boring sea days.

I have continued to hit the gym, which is finally beginning to show.  It took forever, but I have had to take in my costumes once already, and will probably have to do it again soon.  I just hate that it takes so much work.  I have to constantly watch what I eat, and portion control is the key.  Yuck.  If I have to eat another salad I think I will become a rabbit in my free time.

Not much else to report.  My play, 031, is in pre-production and rehearsals right now in Raleigh, and I am kind of sad that i cannot be a part of it.  The cast is good according to Paul Orsett, and I look forward to seeing the final product at some point, though I doubt I will end up seeing it at all.

I will update you more on what is happening as we head along.  I have watched almost five seasons of Smallville in my spare time.  I must say, Season four has been a highlight, and right now, season five is a snoozer.  More later.  Salad time!

I forgot to add... I will be doing my solo show again on the 19th of October!!!  YAAY!  It is being revamped, so the order will be different, and I will be telling some other theatre stories, hoping to get that elusive Australian standing ovation.  The only drawback to the show is that I have to do it at 1:30 in the afternoon.  Ugh.  


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Broadway Dream Aftermath

It has been a few days since I last wrote, so I apologize for all however many of you are waiting.  I have a feeling it isn't many folks, but anyway... here I am writing to you. 

The other night (last week) I performed my one-man show, Broadway Dreams.  It was a huge success.  I had tons of fun, sang my heart out, and the audience actually wanted me back for a second night.  Very exciting.  I think I have sold at least four CD's (Thanks Sis!) but I can't get the money from them until it is approved by the line.  Ah well.  All the better when it finally gets approved. 

My book, on the other hand, was not approved.  It won't stop me from selling it, of course.  Just on a cash only basis and somewhat under the table.  We'll see.  There really hasn't been much interest in it, to tell you the truth.  Even with a slide show in my show, I figured people would see the photos I have taken and want to buy my book.  Maybe there will be more interest on the Asia cruise, as a lot of the photos are from Asia.  Again, we'll see.

So I have been trying to upload footage of my show for my folks and any interested parties to see, but it is taking forever to upload.  You may have to wait on that.  My apologies.

In other news, I think I have lost weight, finally!  Tonight during Shimmy, my pants were all falling down!  A good feeling.  Just sucks that it take s so much effort to take the weight off.  Hitting the gym every day or every other day, my body is always in pain, but I guess the rewards are starting to show.  I look in the mirror and I am not AS disgusted as I was at home seeing myself.  Maybe my love life will improve, too.  Yeah, like that's bound to happen, EVER.

We are bound for Auckland, New Zealand.  Should be there day after tomorrow.  Crosses the International Date Line today, which means that today never existed in my world.  That is, the 22nd of August.  We went from the 21st to the 23rd.  Hmm.  Time travel is so much fun.

It is starting to cool down, too, which will be interesting.  I have not been in This part of the world during their winter.  I hope my sweatshirt and light jacket will keep me warm enough.  I do have several hats, so they will at least keep the old ears warm.

Not much else to report.  We are in the midst of installing British Invasion, which is a pain in the you know what.  The lifts are acting strange, and the safety features on them have failed, so we are basically working on a very unsafe stage.  But what can you do?  The show must go on, right? 

Looking at crossing over to Royal Caribbean in the future.  They are looking for people to play Corny Collins and Amos in Hairspray and Chicago, respectively.  I think it might be fun after this gig is up to try that.  As far as I know, they are Equity contracts, too.  I could use one of those, God knows.  Insurance weeks are good!  We'll see, and I will certainly let you all know what happens with that. 

Later, taters!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One more dawn, one more day more.

I have been working my tush off.  Besides getting my show up and running, I have also been working on a play that I am writing called 031.  It is a play that I have been commissioned to write by the Raleigh Police Department and the Wake County School System.  It deals with gangs, and is a project designed to open up lines of communication between students and faculty/advisers.  I hope it works.  The piece is very very powerful, and I think it is some of my best writing.  I only wish I was going to be in town to work on it more.  I feel like I am so removed from it that I will be forgotten in the process.  I know that won't happen, but it is a real feeling that I can't deny having.

Piano Man opens tomorrow night.  Today's rehearsal was awful.  The band sounds terrible.  People still don't know the choreography.  Some folks are here for the reason to party and play and get drunk and not for the purpose of entertaining the folks who are paying their paycheck.  It is a little disheartening when I am here because i love to do this, and others seem to step all over it.

Ah well.  It is late and I need to get some sleep. 

Sang at the Captain's Circle Party tonight with Darian.  We did a sneak preview of Piano Man, which was fun.  The show should go well.  At least we know what we are doing.  Once again, it is coming down to me to carry the shows for the most part, and I am still having fun doing it.  So far.

More later.  Miss so much already.  Now with all the earthquakes and stuff happening, not to mention this scary election coming up.  Wow.  That's a subject for another day and another time. 

Love to all at home.  Please leave me some messages so I know these posts are being read. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Broadway Nightmares

Three days until my solo show, and I am once again second guessing my song choices.  There are so many people that want me to sing Music of the Night, but I simply am finding it one of the most difficult things to sing.  I sound awful, and I need an uptempo song to put in its place.  I am thinking "On Broadway."  It's catchy, uptempo, a good transitional song for the second half of my show.  I'm nervous.

In other news, I missed my deadline for the final draft of my script.  I thought it was the 16th, but I found out just moments ago that it was indeed, yesterday.  Yikes.  Hopefully the powers that be won't be too judgmental, and they will give me a couple days' extension.  I mean, they literally gave me a month to write a full script.  It's not my fault.

Oy.  Stress.  Piano Man opens in just two days, then my show, then I am singing at the Ultimate Deck Party, then Shimmy.  That's a lot of singing.  I'll let you know more later.  I should probably get to finishing the script.


Sunday, August 12, 2012


It's been a while!   We are in the middle of installing our new cast on the Sun Princess.  Four shows down, two more to go.  Exciting stuff.  Stressful stuff, though, too. 

Spent the first night in NYC, saw Sister Act, which was very cute.  Sorry if I am repeating myself...  I guess I will just give you all an update on what is happening nowadays.  I am in the process of opening my solo show, Broadway Dreams, which goes up on the 16th of August.  It is kind of scary.  Putting myself out there for everyone to judge.  I have a great set list, I think, and I hope the audience will enjoy listening to some Broadway show tunes. 

My sister did an amazing job of putting together an awesome CD package for two CD's I have now to sell.  LIVE! and A PLACE CALLED HOME.  They look incredible, and I can't wait to get them out there for everyone to see.  Hopefully I will be able to get some extra money to spend so I can save my entire salary.  We'll see.

My book is a disappointment.  I'll be honest.  I went through and the product is not the quality I had hoped.  The full page photos have white edges on them, and there are still some typos (my fault).  The folks in the home office seem to be dragging their feet approving it, so I have not been able to sell any of them on board yet.  I did put a segment in my show with photos behind me from the book.  We'll see if they can sell.  Thankfully I only have seven copies to sell, so it's not like I am going to put the shops on board out of business.  Oy.

Honolulu was nice today.  Spent the morning doing some errands, spending money.  Had to get a new pair of jeans and khakis, because my jeans went missing after the country show, and my khakis are torn and falling apart.  Not to mention I am just simply fat.  More on that later.

I have started visiting the gym, so I am trying to get rid of this inner tube that has appeared in my midsection.  So far, I have lost four pounds, and hopefully I will be able to get myself back to my ideal weight of 175-180.  I didn't think I would like going to the gym, and I must say it is very intimidating when there are all these young hotties working out and here I am the Pillsbury dough boy doing crunches in the corner.  I'll let you know how the weight loss and diet go. 

My set list so far includes opening with Tonight from West Side Story, Prologue/Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and the Amazing technicolor Dreamcoat, Corner of the Sky from Pippin, Sweet Heaven from Copacabana, Every Single Day from Harmony, Bring Him Home and Stars from Les Miserables, The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha, This is the Moment from Jekyll and Hyde, On The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady, Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera, Never Land from Peter Pan, What I Did For Love from A Chorus Line, and Love Changes Everything as an encore.  Lots of music.  I will probably cut Music of the Night, because as I sing it, it sound horrible in my voice.  It's a hard song to sing, and right now the song owns me, not the other way around.  Working on it, though.  It will probably be a last minute adjustment. 

The next show we install is Piano Man, and we go up on the 15th.  So basically I am rehearsing two shows at once... and then I have to sing two shows in two days.  Nothing new, but very stressful.  I hope my voice stays healthy and I am able to pull this off.  If I can, it may mean a solo show  and a solo career.  Here's to the future!

I miss my cats, Hamlet and Othello. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cocoa Crispy

Man, it is HOT here in Cocoa.  Started my journey this time around in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Spent the night before (4th of July) with my folks and my cats (Hamlet and Othello), and basically took all my clothes with me.  I had been cleaning and doing laundry during the day.  The look on Mom's face was one of slight overwhelm-ment.  I could see she was thinking "There is no way all that is going to fit in your suitcases."  Well, of course, she was right.  It took me several times to pack, and eventually, I ended up packing six or seven basic outfits.  The way i see it, if I need something else, I can buy it once I get somewhere.  Dad won't like that statement, but I will try to live below my means.

So then comes the plane ride.  All was fine until there is this weird vibrating sound, then the bar near the window and ceiling two rows behind me comes crashing down.  Are we going down?  No.  Just the A/C.  Ah well.  Of course, then comes all the cell phones taking photos, and the comments about how "This'll get us a free ticket somewhere."  Jeez.  Get me to Cocoa already.

I arrive in Cocoa okay, and our costumer, Rex is there to pick me up.  We have to wait at the airport for Darian's flight, which was set to arrive about an hour after mine.  Hers was delayed by maybe 20 minutes, but she showed up and we had our happy reunion.  We have not stopped laughing since.

Today is Sunday, our day off.  Most of the cast went to Disney today, but I stayed behind to live below my means.  Besides, I have a play to write.

Went to the pool, got some writing done, now just blogging to see what new things are in store for me and this cast.  We did a run through of Piano Man yesterday, and strangely, it seems like everyone and their mother was there to watch.  But... not bad for one day of rehearsal.  The show went well, and I realized that I am WAY out of shape.  Got lots of work to do.  Thankfully I have been eating well and walking every morning.  More later.  See ya!