Showing posts from November, 2006

A Post on "All That Chat"

I saw this terrific show for the first time on Monday the 27th and I was deeply moved by both the story and the performance.

I have two younger friends, both in their early 20s, who have been together for about 2 months.
About 3 weeks ago one of the was diagnosed with cancer and as might be expected it has been a very difficult time for them.

I invited them to join me last night, Wednesday, for the show because I thought the message might be of some help to them at this particular time in their relationship.

I went to the theater early to pick up the tickets and ran into both Steve and Jim as they were going into the theater. I told them how much I had enjoyed the show and then told them about my two young friends who would be joining me later.

Steve and Jim said they very much wanted to meet my friends after the show and I agreed to ask them if that would be OK - it was.The performance seemed to be even stronger and the boys were deeply moved by it.

Afterwards we waited with a rather large…

Someone In A Tree Likes Big Voice

The very sweet and sexy David Pasteelnik, who is a blogger here in New York, and who came to see The Big Voice last night, wrote an absolutely beautiful review of the show in his popular blog, Someone In A Tree. He came upon having read about the show at Joe.My.God. What he didn't know was... well, let him use his own words.

Back in 1997, in my nascent days of gayhood, I went to a new musical production called The Last Session. It was about a singer/songwriter, diagnosed with AIDS, who decides to bring together his fellow recording industry friends for a final session in a studio, after which he plans to commit suicide. I was enthralled by the show. The score was rock-infused while still containing a musical theater heart and soul. The story was funny and sad and inspiring.

Last night, I attended a preview performance of The Big Voice: God or Merman. Little did I know, until I read the bios of the creators/performers in the Playbill, that these were the very individuals responsible …

Feature in "Jewish Week"

An article called "Staging a Comeback" in Jewish Week describes how and why the Actors' Temple made the decision to become an Off-Broadway house.

When “THE BIG VOICE: God or Merman” opened at the Actors Temple Theatre Nov. 30, it wasn’t the only new show beginning a run there. For the third time in a decade, a new rabbi is on board hoping to revitalize the West 47th Street shul, also known as Congregation Ezrath Israel, and return it to its showbiz roots.

“Each person brings their own unique gifts to a situation,” said Rabbi Jill Hausman, 54, who was installed Nov. 10. “I am here to help people and do good work in the community. By doing things for others, the synagogue will be blessed. If I’m only here for selfish reasons, to say, ‘See how I built up the synagogue,’ it’s not going to succeed. It will only work if I build it up to do good works for others.”

The effect of her reaching out to the community could be seen at her installation, with clergy from neighborhood Chris…

The Last Preview

The tree at Rockefeller Center.

Just before we went into the theatre for our last preview, a gentleman stopped me just outside the door. "I wanted to tell you," he said, "how much I enjoyed your play. I saw it the other night and I'm back to see it again."

I was surprised. We haven't even opened yet, officially. We've done barely a week's worth of shows and already we're getting repeat customers?

I asked him his name.

"Bill," he responded. "I came back because I have two young friends. They've only been together for about four months, but one of them was just diagnosed with cancer and I thought they should see your show, that they would relate to what's up there on the stage."

I got a little catch in my throat. It just all felt very real, suddenly. It changed my whole performance last night, keeping these guys in mind. They said they would write me emails. I hope they do.
Our friend, Fran Bator, sent these flowers. (That…

The New York Slime

One of my favorite political satire magazines is the New York Slime. They're featuring us on their front page today!

NY Times: Off-Broadway & Nearer To God

Wonderful article today, "Off-Broadway and Nearer to God: It's Curtain Time At A Synagogue," in the NY Times about the Actors' Temple Theatre where we open on Thursday. (You may need to register to view the article, but it's free).
Impressive, those names in the sanctuary of the little synagogue on West 47th Street in Manhattan: Joe E. Lewis and Sophie Tucker on the stained-glass windows, Jack Benny on a plaque in the rear. The names tell you why, in its golden age, this synagogue became known as the Actors’ Temple. They also tell you something about when that golden age was.Recently — say, oh, during the last half-century — this temple, with a declining membership and a vanishing budget, has not been doing so well. So starting with an official opening night tomorrow, the Actors’ Temple, for the first time in its 89-year history, will be moonlighting as an Off Broadway theater. “Maybe we’re returning to our roots,” said Alan Kifferstein, president of the temple’s…

Movin', Movin', Movin'.

We made the move to a new apartment yesterday. It's where we'll probably be staying permanently if (when?) the show is a success here. It belongs to a musical director who's out of town, so there's a piano and everything. The only drawback is that the bed is a double bed, which means our legs hang over the end about a foot or more and it's not wide enough for the two of us. So, last night in the middle of the night, I got up and moved to the couch. A bit of a pain, but that's okay. Some people in this world live in gutters, y'know?

We can stay here for a week. Then we move again to some unknown destination while a previously booked subletter moves in for a week. Then we move back again for the duration.

Last night's show was interesting. The audience began really quietly, but slowly and progressively became more and more responsive until, finally, they were on their feet. It's scary to have to coax an audience into submission, but when people are seei…

My Editorial In The NY Blade

The New York Blade published by editorial called "Borat, Cowboys & Gay Marriage."

New York Vagabonds

Our Internet connection will be very spotty over the next few days as we're bouncing from apartment to apartment. We have a sublet that starts on Dec. 11th, but until then, we will be in transit a lot and not sure when or where we'll land or how to find a connection. So, if this blog goes silent for a day or two -- or if our emails don't get responded to -- that's the ONLY reason.

We had good response again on Sunday with several wonderful reviews on the posting boards at All That Chat from some of the regulars. So, that's really good. One mentioned how great the seating is in our theatre. And that's true. The seats are wide, spacious, padded and comfortable with lots of legroom!

Last night, as Mark Janas' artists' salon, we both sang to really amazing response. I thought they'd never stop applauding. And the singers in the room especially like the fact that I've written a score that features actual songs with beginnings, middles and endings rat…

First Previews

Our first official previews went very well, even as the crew figures out where the light switches are. All along the walls of the Actors' Temple are these lovely memorial stained glass window boxes. But, apparently, the light switches are complicated and there is one stage right overlooking the stage. Well, just as the house lights went down and the thunder and lightning hit (our sound effects), we started out onto what should have been the darkened stage and it was brightly lit. One of the window boxes was still on! It looked like daylight was pouring into the room onto the stage. So, it was a bit embarrassing to get into position in full view of the audience.

They were a quieter crowd than last night being and older group, but we could tell they were with us all the say. (In fact, later that evening, as we were walking up 8th Ave. to the night performance, a group of them stopped us. "We saw your show this afternoon!! We loved it!!!"). Very sweet people.

The night show …

Playbill & Dress Rehearsal

We made the front page of again today. Yay! And last night we had our first preview. I can proudly say that I was absolutely relaxed and comfortable from the first moment. Even Jana, our production supervisor, who knows us inside and out said she had never seen me look more comfortable and relaxed on a stage before. We're still working out some spacing issues as we get used to where the lights are. A couple of times I found myself scooching one way or the other finding the hot spot for each position.

The funniest thing, though, was that, at one point, I heard some very strange, regular noise coming from the back of the room. I thought maybe some equipment malfunction or something. But it was kind of loud and it almost threw me off. After the show, I found out it was our director, Anthony, ASLEEP AND SNORING! LOL. Poor guy has been taking a long train in and out of the City. He's staying with family and, given the fact that we were doing the show at 10:30pm, he just…

NY Big Voice Video Diary #2

In this one we back up a few days and see part of the set being built and lights being focused. We also meet the plant manager and one of the Board members of the Actors' Temple talking about the history of the synagogue.

First NY Big Voice Video Diary

This is the first video diary of The Big Voice: God or Merman? in New York! It's the day the Playbills arrive.

The Playbill Arrives!

It has happened again. And we got a really nice surprise. The word was out that Playbill was going to change the name of the programs for off-Broadway to "ON STAGE." In fact, our "proof" said just that on the cover. So, I was thrilled when the big box arrived at the theatre and Jim showed me what was there:

Here's David Gotwald, sound designer:

Clifton Taylor, light and sound designer:

Jim Brochu:
This being Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for this wonderful production. It's hard, though, because as it gets more and more real, I get more and more hopeful. See, going into this, I tried to keep my expectations low. I thought, "Okay, we'll open. The critics might or might not like us. The ticket-buying public might or might not buy tickets. We'll run a few weeks and go home." I wasn't being negative, just trying to keep from emotionally investing myself into it too much. I didn't want to be disappointed.

But then I got here. And I…

10 Out Of 12, Silent Jay & Bob

The beautiful stained glass window in the Actors' Temple.

Tuesday was what they call a "10 out of 12" day. It's a union designation for a day when you can make your cast work for 12 hours, but with two one-hour breaks for lunch and dinner. A "10 out of 12" is formal name, but everyone really just calls it "tech day."

On tech day, you do a lot of standing. You start at the beginning of the script and go through it line by line while the stage manager, director, sound designer, lighting designer and whoever else runs around adjusting things, working out each and every moment. I don't have a complete list of all our staff, but off the top of my head...

Set and lighting: Clifton Taylor

Stage manager: John Atherlay

Director: Anthony Barnao

Production Supervisor: Jana Llynn

Light Board Operator: Steve O'Shea

Sound Design: David Gotwald

I accidentally lost a bunch of the video and snapshots that I shot on the first day through a total screw up on my part.…

The Real Set

I will be posting more pics and more stories soon, but I couldn't wait to at least post this image of the set itself. Below, I posted an image of the set rendering. Now you can see how it looks in real life!

All Day In Tech

Today, we spent the entire day in tech rehearsal, so I've been offline. Will post pics and stuff tomorrow morning!

Nicholas Levin

One of the things I love most about being in New York is that they take songwriting (for singers) very seriously here and the cabaret scene is vibrant (as opposed to L.A. where there simply is no "scene" at all). One of my goals in being here is to hook up with singers and writers.

I want to meet singers so I can cajole them into doing my material. I want to meet great writers so that I can cajole them into collaborating with me. I learned a long time ago at National Academy of Songwriter that, unlike in other professions, you don't really have to compete with other writers. If they're better than you, you just turn them into collaborators and team up!

One of the songwriters I mentioned in my earlier blog who I met down at Mark Janas' singer and songwriter salon was a guy named "Nick." His name is Nicholas Levin (pictured up/left). He's a really bashful guy who sat right near the piano. And when I was playing and singing my own songs, he was intensely…

New York Street Encounter

We were rushing up 8th Avenue trying to find some lunch before an appointment when a big car pulled up and two burly guys got out wearing shirts that said, "Tony Alamo Worldwide Ministries." They tried to hand me a pamphlet, but I said, "I'm sorry. I don't really like Tony Alamo."

The guy got a very angry look on his face and shouted, "Then you hate God!"

Yes, dear. Just because I dislike a man who has "Christian" churches all over the world named after himself, it means I hate God.

Back in New York

We have made it to New York.

The cats knew something was up. Thurber was all but melted on Jim all day long. Steinbeck kept noodging my elbow and pushing his big face into my lap as I sat on the couch working. They always know, don't they? We had a long, but smooth flight into JFK and are currently staying at our friend's apartment overlooking Broadway. (See pic above).

Sunday night, I joined my friend Mark Janas, a musical director, for his weekly "salon" at the Rouge Wine Bar down in the Village on Bank and Washington. It's a gathering of singers, composers, lyricists and actors who hang out and sing songs for each other. Last night, the place was packed. (Jim was still tired from the trip, so he stayed in).

Mark invited me to sing and play a few songs. Never one to turn down an opportunity like that, I sang "Why," the new song "Great Big Hall," and then "The Closet," which got big laughs. Later, I sang "How Do You Fall Back In …

The Big Voice Set Rendering

Need a new desktop image? Click on the image above. At last, the unveiling. This is what we will look like in New York, give or take a change here and there. Clifton Taylor has drawn this beautiful image and today we will be flying to New York. So, you probably won't hear from me for a day or two until we get settled. But this is us! (When you click on the image, notice the very cool keyboard stand and its "pillars." Who knew someone could make a keyboard look good??)

Now, tell all your friends and family and everyone you know to get on their email blasts and deliver the word. THE BIG VOICE IS COMING TO NEW YORK!

Helping Mike Jones

I am lending my blog support to Joe.My.God's efforts to help Mike Jones, the man who exposed the religious hypocrite, Ted Haggard, the minister who had the ear of the White House, who was fighting and raging against gay people, while having a gay relationship with Mike who was, at the time, a hustler. Joe has been talking to Mike and is outraged that the mainstream gay organizations seem to be holding him at arm's length. But it's safe to say that Mike's courage was instrumental in helping overthrow the homophobes running our government in this last election.

Go to Joe's blog entry and you will find more information about how to help Mike. As Joe puts it:
It was at this time last week that the last bell finally rang on the 2006 election, delivering the House, the Senate, and the majority of state governships into the hands of the Democrats. The map is blue again. And so is the sky. My face is sore from smiling and my feets are aching from all this happy dancing.

And p…

By the way...


Two Days To New York

My stomach is in a constant state of butterflies.

I know there are a billion things I need to do, but instead, I'm reading news on the Net and sleeping all afternoon. I did, however, go out running yesterday morning after feeding the cats. Speaking of which, I've run out of cat food. Must go to the store this morning.

Two days to New York. And we still don't have a place to stay.

Countdown fever!

Hello, reader. Does it sound like my brain is splattering in thousand different directions? Well, it is! We've been doing interviews and press leading up to our big opening in "the City," as they call it. Which reminds me, where is my winter coat? I know I have one somewhere.

Alexandra Billings came over last night to hang out a bit. We were out on our balcony where she was smoking (STOP SMOKING, ALEX!) and, she being from Chicago, said she and Chrisanne were amazed that it was still sunny and warm here in La La Land. (They finally moved here a month or two ago).

I went ou…

Video of Jim Winning Best Play

Big Voice on MySpace

Ryan Davis has established a MySpace page for The Big Voice. Thanks, Ryan!

Ovations 2006 Picture Book

Carole Cook & Tom Troupe

Musical Director Jerry Sternbach & Harriet Harris ("Desperate Housewives")

David Hyde Pierce

Neil Patrick Harris hosts.

David Hyde Pierce reads the nominations.

Nominated: Zero Hour.

David hands Jim his award. Jim wins!

Jim gives an emotional speech.

"This is my life partner, Steve Schalchlin, who is the wind beneath my wings. And believe me, he needs a lot of wind."

Jim poses with David.

Jim with Neil.

Jim and Harriet.