Wednesday, December 03, 2014

A Month at the Theatre

This is probably the longest I've ever taken between blog posts, but I have good reason.  If you follow my Facebook or Twitter feeds at all, you've probably already seen that I've been quite busy lately, so busy in fact that I haven't updated here in quite some time.  Yes, this is that post, the one where I catch-up and then promise to make more regular appearances on my own website.

So, let's see how this goes, shall we?

To begin, after spending the entire month of September dividing my time between learning lyrics and working on my new manuscript, I finally did two shows with 90 To Nothing.  They were both in October and both during the second-to-last Halloween weekend of the legendary New Orleans haunted attraction, The House of Shock.  This was to be the final year for this long-running show, which blends stage special effects and theatrics with some of the most terrifying twists and turns that an actual walk-through haunted house could have legally.

We played for the crowds as they waited to get into the stage-show area, and it was yet another incredible culmination of hard work and preparation.  Everyone was pleased, and it was during this weekend that I broke through any barriers that I might have cultivated with regard to my being able to perform again in the capacity of lead vocalist.  I know what it is that I do and do well in the music scene of this city, dormant all along like so many other things in this new and unfolding tale that is my life.

Then November saw the beginning of rehearsals for the play.  That's right, I was in a play.  Let me explain.

When I first came back to New Orleans in June of this year, my friend Scott Frilot asked if I would be interested in playing bass in a band as part of a play that our mutual friend Gary Rucker was producing over at his own Rivertown Theatres for the Performing Arts in Kenner.  I accepted immediately, wanting nothing more than to immerse myself in all that the New Orleans arts scene had to offer, my hometown where it would seem that all the inmates I’d come up with were now running the asylum.  I received all of the material for the show, the songs and the script, and then it was all put on the back burner for the next three months while I worked with 90 To Nothing.

But nothing could prepare me for that November night when I first walked into Rivertown and met director Ricky Graham.  I had no idea that "the director" I'd been hearing so much about would be this familiar face I'd seen for most of my adult life in the entertainment section of The Times-Picayune, alongside some of the greats of the New Orleans theatre scene.  It was truly an honor to meet this man and to, for all intents and purposes, work with him for as long as I did.

The cast and crew welcomed the band as equals as Scott Frilot, Woody Dantagnan, Brian Drawe and myself settled into the pit to begin the rehearsals for the British farce that was to be Richard Bean's hilarious "One Man, Two Guvnors."  And I knew immediately that this would be an experience that I would never want to end, and night after night of rehearsals and actual performances did nothing to lessen this emotion.  I understand now the feeling of absolute sadness that actors claim overcome them when a film or television series wraps.

Lead Chris Marroy was astonishing and did nothing short of spoil me when it comes to seeing any future shows in this city.  I have very little exposure to the New Orleans theatre community, but for me to say that I was taken aback by Chris' performance night after night would be a silly understatement.  I'm sincerely hoping that any future trips and/or involvement that I may have with the local theatre scene will feature a performance equal to or as great as what Chris showed me was possible.

The rest of the cast included my lifelong friend Gary Rucker alongside Erin Cesna, P.J. McKinnie, Shelley Johnson Rucker, Lara Grice, Logan Faust, Michael P. Sullivan, James Howard Wright, Matt Reed, Kyle Daigrepont and Joshua Talley.

So, let's review.  So far since coming home I've been in a short film directed by John Beyer called "Sis-Tours," joined 90 To Nothing as their new lead singer, got a request for a full manuscript from a potential literary agent, and was featured (that's right, even the musician's names were printed in the programs and on the lobby poster!) in a New Orleans theatre production.  Whew.

Which brings us to the here and now, where again I am that guy who has launched a blog, not updated it as regularly as he would like due to a complete lack of personal assistance, and is now promising in his latest post to keep his website updated.

And so like I said only paragraphs ago, let's see how this goes, shall we?