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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day (from the show and for the USA)

I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July!  I'm thoroughly enjoying my first day off here in 8 days :-)

I haven't blogged since the morning of opening night. So much and yet so little has happened since Friday night-simply because my life basically revolves around the show these days.  This is not a complaint, in fact I couldn't be happier.

When I arrived at the theater Friday morning there were a half dozen yellow roses in a beautiful vase on the center table in the green room that were sent from my family in California.  Yellow roses have a special place in my heart for a very personal reason, even though they are not my favorite color. At any rate,  I heartily shed a tear or two out of sheer appreciation for the importance that those roses had.  They are very beautiful and are now on our dining room table.  I even went as far as sticking a small American flag in the arrangement today for obvious reasons.  Special thanks to my family whom I miss very much.  Not to worry- my mother and grandparents will be out towards the end of July to visit and see the show- more than once I am sure ;-)

At this point, I also need to thank Mr. Byron for acting as my personal assistant for most of last week and through the weekend.  He worked very hard to keep me happy (Starbucks runs, CVS runs, sandwich/water runs, bringing me changes of clothes, etc.)  He was my saving grace this week and I love him so much.  His support will not be forgotten- I am a very lucky man indeed :-)

Byron: Best Assistant Ever

 Just before curtain on opening night, our Julian Marsh, played by David Goguen, presented Dawn (our director) with an original 42nd Street playbill from 1980, autographed by the original Julian Marsh himself: Jerry Orbach.   Needless to say it was a very touching for all of us.  So in a sense, Jerry was with all of us on this very special night.

The opening night performance went on without a hitch- no technical glitches as far as I can recall.  The audience was amazing- thanks in part to the 30+ cast members in attendance who will be appearing in the teen version of 42nd Street later in the summer.  There was once again that magical feeling of togetherness among the cast as the overture started and we all took our places behind iconic red curtain.  Hugs were exchanged.  A couple of us were definitely fighting back tears.  I glanced over to Mark Vanagas, who plays our Andy Lee- but just for a short second as we were both trying to keep it together.  There is a special bond I have with this cast, and that we have for each other that I have never experienced before.  I feel that I may even be making friendships that may last long after our final curtain goes down.

"We're in the Money"

 After the performance was over, while getting back into my street clothes for a night of celebration, I realized that David and I chose identical shirts ( Paper Denim & Cloth Brand) for this special occasion.  It seems that Billy Lawlor and Julian Marsh may have indeed have more in common than we all thought.  At any rate, a very funny coincidence, and just one more thing  for us to bond over.

Twins:  Billy Lawlor & Julian Marsh

After post-performance exchanges and hugs commenced, Byron and I headed over to The Cheesecake Factory to have our first real date night out since we've been in Naples.  It was both romantic and celebratory at the same time.  Speaking of bonding- we certainly did our share, over Avocado Egg-rolls, French Country Salads topped with Goat Cheese, and Spicy Cashew Chicken.  Yum, yum, yum.  An added perk:  because we arrived so late (nearly midnight) we pretty much had the whole restaurant to ourselves.  Romantic indeed.

After dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, we ventured across the street to join the rest of the cast at T.G.I. Friday's.  Once again- more bonding, more celebrating, and more food!  I love our cast.  Seriously, everyone is so genuinely nice and talented it's almost scarey.  Almost ;-)

Saturday came, but all too early.  The loudest thunder I have ever heard woke us up at around 8 A.M., just a few hours after we finally called it a night (in a Broadway Baby fashion, of course).  The whole apartment seemed to shake and we even lost power for a bit.  It was very strange and a little bit scarey.  Oh well- I had to be up for a hair appointment anyway.  Carol, our hair and makeup designer for the show trimmed me up and afterward I stopped by the market to replenish my herbal tea, honey, and throat spray supply.  I'm not sure where the rest of the afternoon went but 6 P.M. came and it was time to head to the theater, but not before a quick drive-thru Chic-fil-A, just another one of my many guilty pleasures ;-)

I was especially nervous for Saturday nights performance as we were informed we had reviewers in the house.  Add to that a childhood friend I grew up with (yes from little Sebastopol, California) was also in the audience with her husband.  She also happens to be personal friends with Dawn and Charlie, our director and maestro, respectively.  Quick background story:  We grew up doing children's theater together.  Cut to:  She is now a resident director and choreographer of a very well known theatre company I really would like to work for again.  Honestly, it was hard not to mentally think of that nights performance as an audition, even though I have worked with her professionally as an adult.  At any rate, I was fairy pleased with my performance- sans some tech issues with my body mic during my opening song, "Young & Healthy."  I blame my sweat for that one.  Anyway, it was nice visiting with her at the stage door after the show.  Also post-show, an elderly patron fell down the steps of the performing arts complex, yielding an ambulance or two.  Nothing too major- we were told he'd be fine, but my heart sank as he passed on the stretcher.  Melancholy I know, but true.

Battle with the body mic ;-(

Sunday came and we had our first matinee.  Traditionally matinee Sundays are usually harder to get through, but it turned out to be our best performance yet.  I had a small accident in the tap ballet at the end of the show (taps are slippery and my choreography requires a bit of jumping around). It was bound to happen sometime. Needless to say I fell on my A**!  I didn't get hurt thanks to the fact that I fell right on my butt and no where else.  I shot back up on my feet faster than a speeding bullet and just prayed that people thought it was supposed to happen.  Okay, they all know it wasn't supposed to happen- who am I fooling?  LOL.  A few minutes later when I'm actually supposed to fall on my A** when my character gets shot, there was a large audible gasp from the audience, probably due to the fact that they were already a little uncomfortable and on edge from the accidental fall a few minutes prior.

 Photo by: Steve Pozgay

Once again, we received a standing ovation, and afterward I was surprisingly greeted at the stage door by some German tourists who had waited for autographs and photos.  I know it sounds like a joke and talk about catching me off guard, but I have to tell you it was a wonderful and new feeling.  All these years I have been the one waiting at stage doors for pictures and autographs from performers I had never met, and here I was actually being greeted by patrons I had never met.  I know, and you know that I'm far from famous or a celebrity of any sort, but let me tell you- for about five minutes I felt like a star and I have to admit it was pretty damn fun!

After I gathered my belongings from my dressing room and the green room, we headed over to Trulucks, the neighboring Steak/Seafood House & Piano Bar.  We put together a small group headed by my new BFF, Lisa Federico.  Her two sons were there- one of them, Joe is in our show.  Jessica, Craig, David, Carol, and of course, Byron were also there.  You can't beat half price drinks and appetizers after our final show of the week.  Jessica savored her lychee martini while I inhaled two bacon cheddar sliders, an order of warm goat cheese, oh, and two cupcakes!  I justified it somehow...

When we got back to the parking garage we found that our car wouldn't start.  Not really a surprise as we've been having some minor battery issues with it since we arrived in Florida.  To make a long story short, the Federico's gave us a ride back home, and we'll have to have it towed and fixed up tomorrow morning before I head in to the theater to help with KidzAct.  We left it in the garage for the holiday- not a big deal, we checked on it today.  It was actually kind of nice to spend most of the day at home taking a much needed rest while catching up with "Weeds."  Pay day is tomorrow so if we were going to have car troubles, now is the best time.  As I've learned from the Act Two opener of 42nd Street, "There's A Sunny Side To Every Situation."  Awww...gag me with a spoon- I know ;-)

Also Sunday Night, our first review came out online.  Not sure when the print edition will come out- sometime later in the week I suppose.  I have very happy with the review to say the least.  I had a brief but appreciated mention: "As would-be boyfriend Billy Lawlor, Jake Hanson whirls a perfect dollop of Broadway vanity into his agility and boyish charm. He plays a hilarious scene with Dorothy Brock (Debi Guthery) trying to honor the restrictions Brock’s jealous boyfriend is putting on staged affection."  Not bad, right?  No complaints here ;-)

On that note we have one more day off from the show.  We return Wednesday with a performance at 8 P.M. sharp ;-)

See ya there,

Love, BILLY :-)

Our first full review here:

A recent article that profiled me in The Naples Daily News:

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