Friday, February 23, 2007

King and I at Drury Lane

I saw my friends Chip, Christina and Emily in Drury Lane Oak Brook's King and I. Two of the little girls I did Miss Saigon and South Pacific last year with were also in it--Alexa and Maya. Well lo and behold, Joe Foronda, a man with big Broadway credits who I did a Cultural Center gig with three years ago played the King. It was a great performance. Joe was very commanding and had a sharp sense of comic timing. Emily Britanico, who played the lead of Kim in the Cicero production of Miss Saigon that I was in was fantastic as Tuptim. I never realized the range of her voice and how operatic she can sound--especially for such a petit gal. And her acting was great. She and her male lead had real chemistry. (Sizzle.)

Chip and Christina were great in the "Little House of Uncle Thomas" number. The dancing was fun and if you've ever seen it, the "Asian-ness" of the dance will make you giggle. In any case, I was able to go backstage and say hello. I hope to get those pictures from Basiae, the girls' mom. It's funny because I did two shows with them and they kind of forgot who I was. I guess all us big people start to look alike. (They remembered when I reminded them.)

I also let them all know about a big project I'm working on. We're trying to gather the former Miss Saigon cast members from around the Chicago area--there have been six versions in the last year--and do a large gala. It's a great thought, but we're also looking at the costs and can see that it might hit $100/person just for food. These events can literally cost $20,000 to start. Whew. Anyway, we're hoping to settle on some initial costs and move forward. Sounds daunting ... wish us luck!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Opera Waiters

My last conference in Phoenix had the best entertainment. A guy interrupts the awards dinner to say he's the head waiter and asks us to note a new convenience product on the tables. We do and he thanks us and leaves. Then he comes back to tell us they've found a sequined purse in the restroom--the men's restroom. A third time comes around and he says he's been asked to belt out an aria by one of the retailers in the room. And he hits a high "C."

Soon a second waiter challenges him and sings an entire aria. Suddenly a third waiter--who was actually serving us--breaks into "Tonight" from West Side Story. The combination of wit, surprise and talent really made for a classy, fun night at my conference in Phoenix.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Faux Frenzy - Superbowl 2007

Da Bears. Da disappoint-ment. I went to a good friend's house to watch the Superbowl and after the disappointing game, we reenacted the enthusiasm we felt when Chicago scored that first touchdown off the first kickoff.

Oh well, maybe next year...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My 25th Anniversary of Pippin

Rivers belong where they can ramble...

And after 25 years, it feels pretty good to ramble back and tell everyone where your life lead you. Of all the odd reunions I've been asked to go back to, this was the most unique. In my sophomore year of college, I did a production of Pippin. I was one of the clown-white faced players in the ensemble. Well, this year--25 years later--Northwestern University remounted the play and invited the cast from back then to see it and reminisce. I didn't know what to expect, but several of the members of that cast went on to do fantastic things ... Broadway, national tours, one of our cast members, George Newbern, even went on to Hollywood fame in movies like Father of the Bride.

George, Jeffery Clonts, Patty Fricke, Michael Weiser and of course, our director Dominic Missimi were there from the cast, and several others were there from the crew. The show was awesome; the sets were dynamic in a retro carnival feel; the costumes were punk-meets-glam-meets high fashion. The voices were wonderful. And I looked on stage and even saw an Asian guy!

Dominic had stood up before the show and told the audience we were there. He introduced us one at a time. And later, when people asked me what part I played 25 years ago, I said, "I was the Asian guy!"

I spoke with the Chinese-American actor who was in the 2007 cast and encouraged him to really go for it in the coming years if that's what he wants to do. I'm certain he'll make it. He's got a great look and it's really all about being young and being persistent--not just in auditons, but in getting better as a singer and dancer. Anyway, it was a great night.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Taste of New Orleans

I was in New Orleans for a couple of days attending a conference. Got a flavor of everything, but was in meetings mostly. Here, the conference hotel had a Mardi Gras set-up for its guests.

I also made it to the French Quarter and guess what? There was Karaoke! That was fun. With the real Mardi Gras coming up in a couple of weeks, the city is gearing up to shine once more.

At the airport I picked up some Pat O'Brien's hurricane mix and some alligator jerky. Some Cajun partying is on the menu for Chicago. Go Bears! (Sorry, Saints.)