Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Road to THE ROAD TO QATAR, Part 1


I received the best of all possible holiday gifts this year. Just before Christmas, I was offered the leading role of 'Michael' in the new musical, The Road to Qatar, which will have its Off-Broadway premiere in January at the prestigious York Theatre Company. Aside from the enormous blessing of having an actual job in New York (the last time I performed on an NYC stage was the fall of 2007), I will also have the incredible experience of originating a terrific part in a new show.

The Road to Qatar is written by David Krane and Stephen Cole, and is based upon their true life story of a bizarre series of events in which they were commissioned by the Emir of Qatar to create a Broadway style musical to be presented in a soccer stadium in Qatar. The two writers, who had never met nor collaborated before, found themselves whisked away to the Middle East where they wrote the musical Aspire in just five weeks. Check out the two part documentary of their true life adventure here.

David and Stephen took their wild adventure and turned it into the hilarious musical comedy, The Road to Qatar. Fortunately for me, the show is about "two short Jews who write musical comedy!" It is rare that a short, gay, Jewish character actor gets to play a lead in a musical, so you can imagine my delight when I was offered the part of Michael. Michael is sort of the 'Oscar' half of the odd couple of Michael and Jeffrey, based on Krane and Cole themselves. I am also delighted that I will be directed by Phillip George, who was my director in my very first New York show, Howard Crabtree's Whoop-Dee-Doo!, back in the early '90s. Phill, who staged Forbidden Broadway for many years, is a clever and ingenious director and I am excited to work with him again.

We begin rehearsals just after New Year's, so be sure to tune in as I blog the whole adventure. For more information on the show itself, visit the authors' website. For tickets and performance information, visit the York Theatre Company's site. What a great way to start 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Holiday Letter

I have friends and relatives who include in their annual Christmas cards a letter, detailing all the events and activities of the year past, sharing the losses and the triumphs, and wishing everyone a great year to come. Since I am spending a quiet Christmas in Manhattan, with plenty of time to ruminate on the many adventures of 2010, I thought I would write my own letter and put it out there to my friends, loved ones and supporters.

What an incredible year it has been. The prior two years were so completely immersed in my journey with the Spamalot tour; this year has been about really getting back into the mix of fine performers looking for work, and making amazing new inroads in the business with extraordinary people. In addition to my artistic and professional growth, I had the chance to explore a new relationship with a loving and wonderful guy after four years of singlehood. And I rediscovered a passion for teaching and coaching young actors through a magical series of powerful events.

The year started with intense activity of all kinds. Challenging auditions were balanced by the extraordinary growth I experienced in the acting classes of Matthew Corozine. I created an entire new career plan with Jodie Bentley, a fantastic career coach and co-owner of The Savvy Actor, which led to a new website and a host of new networking strategies. I also got the chance to return to The Nutty Professor musical in our second backers audition reading of the show, directed, again, by the incomparable Jerry Lewis.

I was delighted to break through with Goodspeed Musicals, winning the role of Charlie Davenport in Annie Get Your Gun.
I had long wanted to work at this prestigious two time Tony-winning regional theatre, and what a great first experience it was. The cast was incredible, led by Jenn Gambatese as Annie, and I enjoyed the changes of season for the many weeks of the show in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley. I also did some exciting educational outreach for the company, finding a terrific teaching partner in triple threat performer Molly Tynes.

I made two trips over the summer to Washington, D.C. in a pair of collaborations with Marcus Kyd, Lise Bruneau and their Taffety Punk Theatre Company. The first was a powerful staged reading of Ronald Harwood's The Dresser. I played the role of Norman, dresser to a rapidly unraveling Shakespearean actor-manager, played, to my great pride and delight, by my teacher and D.C. veteran star Edward Gero. This is a role I have always wanted to play and to get just a taste of it was so rewarding. A week later, I returned to D.C. to play the role of Theseus in Taffety Punk's "Bootleg Shakespeare" production of Two Noble Kinsmen at the Folger Theatre. Exhilarating stuff.

Surprise, surprise. Goodspeed invited me back to join an outrageously talented cast in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.
Preempting the forthcoming Broadway production through the generosity of Jo Sullivan Loesser, Goodspeed mounted a stylish and sizzling production and I got to kick my heels up as a dancer again, and play the office womanizer, Mr. Gatch. More educational work was also a highlight of my fall at Goodspeed, and the company commissioned me and Molly Tynes to create the first ever Goodspeed Musical Theatre Audition Intensive, a weekend boot camp in audition preparation and performance for high school students contemplating trying out for college theatre programs. The workshop, which took place earlier this month, was a powerful and hugely successful endeavor. Talks are already underway for the next one!

The year is coming to a close on a truly high note. This week, I was offered the lead role of Michael in the Off Broadway premiere of David Krane and Stephen Cole's new musical The Road to Qatar.
This hilarious piece is based on the authors' own true story of their collaboration on a lavish musical commissioned by the Emir of Qatar. The adventures of "two short Jews who write Musical Comedy" will run January and February at the York Theatre Company. I couldn't be more excited to be finally doing something great in New York--and a wonderful lead role to boot. I've been waiting for my short gay Jewishness to pay off! Happy Holidays to me. So much to be grateful for. Truly, all I have ever wished for is a life in my art. And it is all happening for me. On the most personal level, I was given the incredible gift of trying my sea legs in a relationship this year. A loving, free spirited, challenging, talented guy named David touched my life and my heart. It's hard to try to love again, but what a beautiful thing to know that it's still possible. Thank you, David, with love.

My greatest wish for the season would be for all of us to really try and be in the moment. And realize how incredible, bountiful, and full of possibility our lives are. Releasing the wounds of the past, not being overly obsessive about the future. Hold those you love close to you, and have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!! Love to all.