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Showing posts from 2014

Jim & Steve on Guiness World Records Official Attempt, Jan. 1 at Metropolitan Room

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I'm at 9:30-9:45pm and Jim sings from 10:15 - 10:30pm on Jan. 1st. We are very excited to be given anchor positions at this "official attempt" at "The Longest Variety Show" at the Metropolitan Room in NYC from 7pm on the 1st to 1am on January 4th.

There are tickets available for One Day Passes and a Four Day Pass, which lets you in anytime during the festival.

Don't miss it!

New World Waking program insert.

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Click to enlarge.

New World Waking to a Sold Out House.

It was such a relief to look out into the house from behind the curtain this past Saturday night and see a house full of people. I knew we were making money for the kids in the summer theater program.

Even more gratifying was how many people said how relevant they found the piece, especially in this era where violence is celebrated even more than in the past.

I will have photos and video soon, but I wanted to thank everyone who sang in the show and everyone who braved the cold rain to be in the audience.


Busy Week Preparing New World Waking.

In response to questions about "how do I get a show produced?"

This past Saturday, director Andy Gale, Jim Brochu and I took the M11 bus down 9th avenue to 30th street and walked east to Urban Stages. If that sounds scary to anyone, you haven't been in New York. This is a thriving, bustling midtown/Chelsea area just a block from Broadway.

I had all these ideas about staging, which I had been dreaming up during my morning piano sessions.

And Andy said no to every single one. And Jim agreed.

It was the best day of my life.

To be in the hands of professionals is the greatest feeling of all. And he was right about every idea. But at least I had some. And yesterday, one of the wackier ones, he loved, so it's going into the show. I tried it out in class yesterday, where we also rehearsed two of the singers, Eileen Tepper and Cindy Marchionda.

This week, also, I wrote up press materials, finalized the casting, rehearsed people at all hours of the day, created the logo (whi…

Colorful New World Waking poster.

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Look at the beautiful poster Jim just designed.
Tickets on sale now.
Go to urbanstages.org
Click on Winter Rhythms. Then click on the calendar December 6 at 7:00pm

We Are Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On...

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"...and our little lives are rounded with a sleep."

I sat in Andy Gale's class yesterday, after having done Prospero's speech on my feet, loudly and bitterly saying these words, and circling around. A step or two I'll take to still my beating mind.

My beating mind.

With the rehearsals of New World Waking beginning -- soloists coming over to our apartment, the songs are springing to new life, even as I've written new ones to insert.

And it's like magic. With each new singer, the songs are reshaped by their bodies, their minds, their experiences, and now, thanks to being in the middle of a city filled with dreamers and students and magnificently trained voices, the songs are reaching moments of profundity even I couldn't bring to them as writer.

Andy said, "Now just sit and say the words." He said more and I heard, but I don't remember. What I do remember is taking time.

Taking time.

All my life, worried that I wasn't good enough, I&#…

Photos from TRU Benefit

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Yesterday, I joined a group that consisted of cast members from several companies of "The Last Session" to sing "When You Care" honoring one of our New York producer, Michael Alden.

Tickets for Dec. 6 New World Waking now on sale.

http://goo.gl/iQ9i8K

I am very excited about the new benefit production of New World Waking at Urban Stages. The cast is AMAZING and it's only $25. 

COMPOSER/WRITER STEVE SCHALCHLIN
Additional lyrics by Rev. Peter J. Carman, Paul Zollo, & Avril Roy-Smith
DIRECTOR ANDY GALE
MUSICAL DIRECTORS STEVE SCHALCHLIN & MARK JANAS
CREATIVE CONSULTANT JIM BROCHU
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR FRANCES HILL
PRODUCER PETER NAPOLITANO
TEXT BY HISTORIC FIGURES
ADDITIONAL TEXT BY STEVE SCHALCHLIN

 CAST Jeremy Abram, Maria Fernanda Brea, Jim Brochu, Natalie Dixon, Brian Dorais, Danika Dorais, Stephen Elkins, David Fuller, Bill Goffi, Kimberly Faye Greenberg, Cindy Marchionda, Steve Schalchlin, Jake Wesley Stewart, Lucia Spina, Eileen Tepper, Clayton G. Williams.

Get tickets here: http://goo.gl/iQ9i8K

New World Waking at Urban Stages December 6.

7pm.

New World Waking, my ongoing experimental theater/concert project, at this stage, is an idea more than it is a set piece because each iteration has been in a different form, though the songlist has remained the same. It's been done several different ways.

At Urban Stages, it will be a benefit for their Summer Youth Program, which is perfect because it begins and ends with the stories of two real life gay kids and their PFLAG moms -- one, a tragedy that ended in death. And one, a victory that transformed a school system.

 Anyway, the date is set. December 6. And now I start "casting" it,

But you know what that also means, don't you? Yes. I have to design a new logo.

The problem is that I don't know how to tag the piece.

It used to be New World Waking, a song cycle for peace. But that sounds meh. Then it became something else, and then something else. I don't remember. Or, I have them but I don't want to look at them because it's hard to describe …

Catch up!

Had a great birthday party. Sheldon Harnick and Jim sang "Do You Love Me" from Fidder On the Roof with Jim singing the Golda part. Too hilarious.

Also, because our new building has a rehearsal room, I'm able to have access to a piano in the middle of the night, like on the cruise ships. So, it's exciting to be playing at 3am all through the morning.

I've been learning a Chopin Etude to increase my pianistic abilities. (Opus 10, number 1). I've been learning it for several months and finally have it memorized, but I play it at about 1/10 the speed it actually requires.

We love our new apartment. We finally feel like we have a home.

Also been singing at St. Clement's Church once a month.

And on December 6th, we'll be presenting New World Waking as part of Urban Stages' Winter Rhythms Cabaret Festival.

More soon!

"My New York Life" is now live on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc.

iTunes link.

And on Spotify.


"Character Man" at the Barrington Stage Company for two weeks.

Death of Steinbeck.

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[I didn't know, when I began writing this diary entry that morning at 3am, that Steinbeck would be dead by the end of the night. He had had a stroke and couldn't eat. We thought about having him put to sleep, but it was a holiday and nothing was open. What you'll read was written in real time with only slight editing. As you might expect, this is a very emotional diary entry, so if you are prone to crying and don't want to do it in public, I suggest setting it aside and reading it later.]
DEATH OF STEINBECK

SEPT 1 2014

He can barely walk
Tonight, for the first time, I heard him whimper
When he tried to get up
His bony hind legs like teepee sticks
Collapsing this way and that
And tonight, for the first time, I can hear his breath.
There’s a catch in it.

I can remember when he fit into the palm of my hand
On the day the man delivered him
His mother killed by a truck
On a movie lot
they were gonna bury the newborn kittens
Our friend called, “You guys want a blond boy?”

Brief Update.

Because of the death of Steinbeck, we are mostly staying to ourselves. 
But I am singing at St. Clement's again this Sunday. This time "Lazarus Come Out." If you want to join me, just show up at 10:30. 46th between 9th and 10th.

Steinbeck the Cat is Gone.

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He passed this morning in our arms on the bed.

Will write more later.

Singing at St. Clement's.

It was great fun to sing again at St. Clement's, one of my favorite places in New York City. Because of the personal nature of my relationship to this church, I didn't bring a camera nor did I take any video. So, bad blogger, I know. But, having been one of the first to blog and record his life on the Net, I've learned that now that everything can be recorded and broadcast, sacred private spaces take on new gravity.

Nothing dramatic happened. So, don't read this expecting a big revelation or profound epiphany.

It's a church with a small congregation, but there's a community food pantry that provides groceries on Saturday. There is also a theater inside the old building, with the largest Off-Broadway stage in New York that doubles as the sanctuary -- and this past Sunday, there was no set on the stage. It was completely black curtains.

The piano, altar and candles were right there on the stage. It was beautiful. (During the run of Zero Hour, the altar was place…

My New York Life - Pre-release Video

After much encouragement from friends who wanted copies of this after hearing me sing it live at random open mics, I've recorded "My New York Life." It should pop up on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and all download and streaming services worldwide soon.

Real Texas in Paris (with a surprise bonus round ending)

Saturday night. Jim Morgan, artistic director of the York Theater, says to me:

"Hey! You look like you could play a grizzled old Texas singer of cowboy songs. Want to do a reading? It's a new play. Two characters."

Since I say Yes in the Bonus Round, the script arrived the next day via email.

I've never played a lead in a new play that Jim and I didn't write ourselves. What an exciting adventure!

I saw that the play, Texas in Paris, was based on a true story. Two old Texas singers. One, a white cowboy. And the other, an African American Gospel singer. Plucked up from obscurity (and poverty) by a young hippie-looking student from Boston searching for "real Texas" singers, whom he recorded and then booked to headline a series of concerts in Paris, France -- the birth of a lifelong friendship.

John, a man who mostly played for himself or at tent revivals and Osceola, daughter of a sharecropper who only ever sang at home or in church. (It was her church me…

Health Update.

Great results today after three months where I've run almost every day for at least an hour. It's only what I call "maintenance" exercise, but it's something, and that's the key to staying healthy.Just do something physical every day that gets you breathing hard and keep it up for five minutes. It's like a miracle medication. And it's free!

My t-cell count is right where it has been for awhile, in the 600 range and there is ZERO free virus in my blood. That means the drugs are working -- and that has as much to do with my compliance record as it does with the drugs themselves. Quite simply, I do not miss doses.

Other great news: My A1c, which measures blood sugar is 5.9, so it's finally down in the normal range.
The only negative count was in triglycerides and cholesterol, which are abnormally high. This is a consequence of side effects of my HIV meds, but also, I confess I have been hitting the french fries a bit heavily lately.
Everything else …

Boxes and Bubble Wrap.

That's an idea for either a song or a horror movie.

We are still putting our new home together. Boxes and bubble wrap. They are my life right now.

But I have a couple of announcements for fans.

First, the London Original Cast Recording of The Last Session is now on iTunes. I would most appreciate it if you'd spread the word far and wide.

Secondly, on August 3rd, Jim Brochu will talk with Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked, Pippin, etc.) Called "A Conversation with Music," it will feature vocalists Michael McCorry Rose and Kelli Rabki -- at the spectacular night club 54 Below.

I also will be performing "My Thanksgiving Prayer" on August 24th at St. Clement's here in mid-town for their Sunday morning services.

Okay, back to unpacking.

Moving, Moving...

After 11 years on the waiting list, we are finally moving into Manhattan Plaza, the subsidized housing for actors and other miscreants. So, this week has been about boxes, boxes, boxes. Packing and tossing things out and moving things around.

At the same time, Samuel French, who licenses "The Last Session," has asked for an electronic version of the score, which we never had. The old photocopies are wearing out and they need new!

Trouble is, we never had one of those. It was made back before electronic scoring was really available. So, this has given me the chance to look at the score and make all the changes I've been dying to do for the past 20 years.

Back then, I didn't know how to write out a score, and also I was just too sick. So the version we have now is a transcription of single performance done in New York one night, complete with all the improvisations the cast and musician were doing on that night -- which sounded great then, but which are not really a p…

A Most Unexpected Honor.

On Broadwayworld.com, a new article by Stephen Hanks includes me in the list of "The Best (and Favorite) 20 Shows and Performances (So Far) of 2014."

Given the fact that I'm listed alongside such cabaret present legends as Ann Hampton Callaway, this is really, as my folks would say, walkin' in high cotton.
I don't think I ever thought of myself as a cabaret performer. To me, a stage is a stage. An audience is an audience. And most of the best stages in this city host cabaret perfermers, which is alive and thriving like crazy in New York despite not exactly being in the middle of the current electronic cultural stream. And the definition of "cabaret" has morphed to encompass a simple singer/songwriter like myself as well as the more traditional and jazz performers. The American Songbook is dead if it's not also growing and adding.
Also, all the electronics, pre-records or auto-tunes in the world will never match the emotional intensity of a human be…

The Evidence of Your Life.

We are moving across the street into Manhattan Plaza after 11 years on the waiting list.

It will be our home. I feel like I'm moving into a retirement community. But it's filled with actors and musicians and dancers and singers. And we know so many of them already! It'll be like moving home to a home you haven't lived in yet.

But the process of moving. Even though it's only across the street, Jim is now sitting and going through every single piece of paper in the place. Papers found in folders in boxes, in drawers.

It's a weird sensation to go through the evidence of your existence on this planet from materials that pre-date the Internet. News clippings. Like one from Omaha where my face and my newly-googly eye graced the top half of the page, with the cast of The Last Session rehearsing behind me.

I did this four years ago when I single-handedly, with a few close friends, did this. Went through every piece of paper. And I jettisoned a lot. Especially if there…

When the piano's dead.

I sat there playing, but it wasn't music coming from those keys. It was just noise. Damn Charles Ives. I started listening to this amazing album using Spotify of two people I never heard of before. Susan Graham and Pierre-Laurent Aimard singing a selections of songs from Ives, along with the amazing Concord Sonata.

I had it on in background while reading a new biography of him that was just released. And this music is like a magic trick. Sometimes the songs sound like the voice is in one key and the piano in another. And yet, my brain doesn't process the dissonance as dissonance. It sounds right. And yet, logically, I know that these are not "normal" note/chord relationships.

I suppose it takes a bit of an "educated ear" for this to happen. I don't see putting this on in a bar. It would probably sound like noise to a lot of people.

But what's also doing is making my brain crave it more, like craving sugar. And when I sit down to write my "song…

First Review of the London Cast Recording of "The Last Session."

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LINK TO REVIEW.

Rob Lester sums up his rave review on the website Talking Broadway, "...the recording crackles with energy and drama, capturing the performance of a committed cast-in a show with a lot to say (still)."

ORDER ALBUM FROM AMAZON.

Report of World Premiere of Mass.

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Here at the University of Steve in New York, we performed the Mass I've been composing for the past three years. Part writing exercise, in that it was an attempt to learn more about music and choral arranging/composition, and part gift to the community of Christ Church Bay Ridge, as well as a few statements of my own about faith, I guess I'd call this a graduation project, maybe.
The day was long in the beautiful building. I did not bring a camera. I know why. I needed to just be there, fully engaged. Not thinking about anything but the performance. I didn't want to be an observer of my life. I just wanted to live it.

However, Stephen Anthony Elkins brought a camera and took a few shots. This is with Andy Gale, who directed the evening. You may ask, why would we need a director? Aren't we just gonna stand there and sing? Well, no. Because I had some ideas about moving the choir into the "audience" or surrounding them, etc. but it was all vague.
Having Andy (…

My Mass begins rehearsal Tuesday night.

I never, growing up, would ever have guessed that I'd compose a Mass, but Mark Janas and I have been working non-stop for the past week, editing, revising and getting the 17 numbers into rehearsal shape. 
This is the first time I've just taken a breath.
Rehearsals start Tuesday, there's another on Thursday and then the concert is Saturday.
Because this is completely new, no one knows what to expect. That's the exciting part. I think it's going to be one of best nights anyone will ever have. Not that I'm prejudiced or anything. 
It has only energized me, doing this project, and it's thrilling to finally see it come to life. It's all thanks to Fr. Jeffrey Hamblin, who has financed this entire music program out of his own pocket from his work as a doctor working graveyard shifts at the ER. And also thanks to Mark Janas, who gave all of his time this week to me, to edit and revise all the arrangements. It was a massive undertaking.
And now, on Saturday, it…

Steve in Concert May 15 in North Manhattan.

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Indian Road Cafe. 600 West 218th Street, New York, New York 10034. The Uptown Cabaret Spotlight! 8PM with members of the Bonus Round Band and Choir, our voluntary loose association of whoever's in town and available.

Come one! Come all! Have a nice meal and listen to some great music.


University of Steve at NY: A Song A Week.

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I've recently been invited to join the Jack Hardy Songwriter Exchange, which meets once a week -- the goal is to write a NEW song every week. I emphasize "new" because the point is it's not a place to show off your performing skills, as in doing a performance of a song you already know. It's to get feedback and become a better writer.

I've added it to my curriculum of the University of Steve at NY, the goal of which is to treat life like a campus of learning. I choose my own teachers, but I work hard at every course. (Since moving to New York, I'm learning composition and arranging with Mark Janas, thanks to the music program at Christ Church Bay Ridge. And I'm learning about acting and drama from Andy Gale in his scene study class, which has led me to some unexpected play writing. More about that in another post).  But ALL of this, remember, is geared to one goal: Keeping me alive. The more actively I'm engaged, mentally and physically, the more…

Thanking Bryan Cranston.

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Rarely in life do you get a chance to express thanks to a "big" celebrity, especially if you're not rich and famous yourself. But one of the great things about being in New York is that, if you hang in there, you can make it happen.
My big chance this time was yesterday at a press reception for the nominees for the New York Drama Desk Awards. Unlike the Tonys, which only gives out awards to people on Broadway, the Drama Desk nominates from all theater productions in New York, including a little one man show on 30th Street called "Character Man," featuring on Jim Brochu.
The person I most wanted to meet, among the nominees, was Bryan Cranston who is in town with "All The Way," a masterful piece of theater where he plays LBJ. Reader, you may remember when I wrote about this before, how I saw, in the bio in his program, the name of my friend, the late Louan Gideon.
We got there pretty early in the process, not wanting to miss anything. 

When I finally s…

Quick Trip To California.

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Years ago, Jim got a temp job answering phones for the Jewish Family Services helping persecuted Jewish families immigrate out of harm's way. So he was especially happy, not to mention honored, to asked to perform in a special Palm Springs benefit for that same group in a prestigious annual concert called "One Night Only."

"One Night Only" is one of those events that make you realize how generous most performers in this business are. Everyone who took the spotlight that night donated their services. I got to hang out and take pics!
Of course, in return for your performance, you get to meet some of the greatest performers in the biz. For instance, the hilarious Kaye Ballard. 88 years old and going strong.
I loved the long make-up table backstage.

Another fun part is that you get to go to a fancy party held by one of the sponsors, and sit with the best people!
Even I got to have my pictures taken. With Stefanie Powers, no less!!


And that was only part of it. I&#…