It was a text message:
"Hey, what are you doing Saturday? Can you take a train up to Connecticut?"
It was Brett Bernardini, the artistic director of the Spirit of Broadway Theatre in Norwich. I called him back, standing out in front of St. Clement's.
"Hey, Brett. What's up?"
"We're doing the Spirit Awards again this year and I want to know if you can host."
I tried to think if there was anything going on besides Jim doing his show.
"I can probably get up there. Sure."
"Okay, great. I've written out a script, but you can rewrite it all you want.
"Last year, Joe DiPietro did it and he kept making fun of the fact that I talk too much."
Joe DiPietro is a well known playwright. In fact, when Jim was producing at the El Portal in North Hollywood, the first production was "Over the River and Through the Woods" starring Joe Campanella and Carol Lawrence.
"How did he make fun of you?" (Brett has a great laugh and a wonderful sense of humor about himself).
"Every time I got up to speak, he held up a picture of a dog and said, 'This is my dog who's not getting to go for a walk.'"
I laughed. "Okay, Brett. Let me ask Jim to make sure, but I think I can make it."
So, on Saturday, I will board a train for Connecticut and host the Spirit Awards in Norwich. Fun!
I love hosting. This past Wednesday, Jim and I co-hosted the Salon at Etcetera Etcetera for Mark Janas, and Jim, having just done a show -- or did he do two that day? -- mostly sat and watched, but then got up and did, with me, "Christmastime" and, with Mark on piano, "If I Were A Rich Man."
You might remember Julie Reyburn. She's a singer Mark Janas works with, and who sang "Going It Alone" at the Spirit Of Broadway Awards when both Jim and I hosted them a few years ago. Since then, every time I see her, I joke with her about not singing it enough. (I want everyone always singing all my songs, all the time). And sure enough, last Wednesday, I made fun of her for not doing it that night.
Then, I said, "It's okay, Julie. I've found a new singer, Jennifer Wren."
Jennifer has been working with Amy Lynn Shapiro, who write the lyrics for "Nobody Leaves New York," ever since Amy began the BMI Musical Theatre writing workshop. And, since this song is going into our new show, "Manhattan Clam Chowder," she already knew the song.
And, boy, did she sing that song. Wow.
I have most of this on tape, but because time is not on my side here in New York, I still haven't edited videos from a week ago, much less this past week. So, I promise to give you, reader, a taste of what Jennifer did as soon as I can. What I can tell you is that when she got off the stage, she passed by Jim who told me that he told her, "You just got yourself a job."
That night, I also led the whole room singing "My Thanksgiving Prayer" and then finished up with "Edison Diner," another song from "Manhattan Clam Chowder."
And then, of course, I announced to the room that I was a jealous songwriter and I wanted everyone there to be singing only my songs from now on.
And why not? Isn't that EVERY songwriter's dream?
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