Wednesday, September 30, 2009

barber # 9 tonight

We have our ninth performance of Barber tonight. It has been awhile since I've blogged, partially because of the exhaustive nature of this schedule and partially because the #*%$ internet at my hotel has been completey unreliable.
My goal tonight: to enjoy myself. I only have four of these left, and who knows if I'll get the chance to sing this again. So let's have some fun and let the chips fall, shall we?


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hump Day

Tonight is our seventh, yes SEVENTH performance of Barber, and we will officially be over halfway finished with our run. If this was any other opera company, we would long be finished with our run. But this isn't just any opera company. It's Skylight.

When you do this many performances in a row, your body just sort of gets used to doing it, and you realize that one night you may feel terrific, one night you may feel completely mediocre, and the actual difference in the house is probably imperceptible. That's good info to have (especially when you feel like crap), but also can be humbling (when you think you really crushed it, and get a lukewarm response).

Right now I'm thinking about this as I warm up for our third performance in as many days, completely fried vocally, and really looking forward to a day off tomorrow (and maybe a post show beer).


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Being a barber is noble and grand

Performance # 4 is tonight at the Cabot Theatre. We've all had 2 days' rest and are hopefully shipshape. I'm looking forward to jumping back in it tonight. Especially since I've been spending the last 2 days studying Casanova's Homecoming, a score by Dominick Argento that Opera News recently called one of the most melodically lush scores in the past few decades or something to that effect. Huh. Let's just say it will be nice to hear a little tonality tonight.

Speaking of modern opera, I have some exciting non-Figaro news. I will be reprising the role of Noah in Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath at Carnegie Hall early next year! The cast list was just released in Playbill News and it's pretty impressive. Should be loads of fun. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Just kidding.

I'm sure I'll have more tales to tell soon. For now, I've got to run recits and warm up, tune two guitars, put on the war paint, etc. Peace.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

What doesn't kill you...

...makes you thirsty for a beer?

Sit back, relax, and I'll tell you the harrowing tale of a foolhardy young baritone who attempted to sing The Barber of Seville three times in one weekend. Now wait, I know what you're thinking. Young? Hardly. Well, in any case here's the story.

As I mentioned before, the opening night performance went very well. I think we were all a bit nervous, but we had a good show and our voices held together nicely. Last night also went well. I was starting to feel a bit tired in the middle of last night's performance, but by the 2nd act I felt better and thought nothing of it. When I got home I took a hot shower, had some tea, took some Simply Sleep and went to bed.

I woke up early this morning to try to get a jump on the day, and feel nice and awake by the time I had to go to the theatre. Everything was going fine until I went in early to warm up. Yikes. I should have tried vocalizing earlier in the morning. It was 12 noon by the time I started warming up at the theatre. It felt a little husky. I kept singing scales, and it got huskier and huskier. I didn't feel sick at all, just swollen cords. The low and high were ok, but the middle was all crackly. I sat there warming up, minute by minute getting closer to curtain and feeling less and less certain that I could get through one phrase of the Largo, let alone the whole damn role.

Panic sets in. I call our director and stage manager. I know it's too late to cancel, I say, but I think you should know that I am a little concerned about today's performance. The conductory is called. An announcement can be made, I'm told, but basically just try to get through it and take it easy if you can. Our conductor reassured me that an any point I can leave out notes, drop down the octave or whatever I needed. The director, stage manager, conductor, and cast all bent over backwards to try to put me at ease. I can tell you, however, I have never felt more nervous or panicky about singing a performance than I did this afternoon.

I went downstairs, got into costume and chugged down mug after mug of tea and hot water, sucking on slippery elm lozenges like it was going out of style. After I got into makeup and wig, tuned my guitars (I play two of them in this show), I just paced in the hallway, away from everyone else, trying to get my head around how I was going to get through the afternoon. I did a little vocalizing and the tea seemed to help. I felt a little stronger. I finally said forget it (or something like that) and resigned myself to whatever was in store for me.

Much more nervous than opening, I strolled out to sing Largo. It actually went ok. All the G's were fine. I took out the big cadenza in the middle with the high A, and just concentrated on technique. Again, the middle was a little crackly, but the end worked very well. The duet with the count proved to be a little more scary. It took me awhile to get my sea legs in the recits, and the unrelenting nature of the duet was a bit more that I could handle. I couldn't bear the sound of my own voice, so I ended up taking the big D natural section ("numero quindici"... etc) down the octave. Other than that and leaving out the optional high note at the end (none of those happened tonight- I 'opted' out of all of them), it worked fine. Same with the Rosina duet. I got a nice little break after that during Bartolo's aria. I started feeling better by the Act I finale. I think the adrenaline (or the ibuprofen I took before curtain) finally kicked in, and I started feeling a bit more stable.

By Act II, my nerves had calmed down, and all the hard stuff was behind me. I drank more hot water, and just tried to enjoy the rest of the show. I went to Mars at one point during a recit (thank god for our genius pianist who somehow saved my ass by making some unholy modulations). I finished the show, everyone lived, and I got through it. Not only did I get through it, but I don't even think it was terrible. Even the A naturals came out easily in the trio. If I hadn't said a word about it to anyone, I don't know that anyone would have really noticed that I was feeling cruddy, or if they did, they may have chalked it up to me having a bad day.

So now that I have had two Lakefront Eastside Dark Lagers (and thus have perspective), I am thinking- what did I learn from all this? Well, first, I learned what I am capable of when push comes to shove. I was forced to concentrate on technique, sing smartly, economize both vocalism and staging. Those aren't bad things. I learned that I can get away with a lot less singing in recits and ensembles. I learned that even though I sounded flat-out horrible in my head, the sound in the house wasn't that bad- was good in fact.

How did this happen? I think part of it is the cumulative effect of singing three orchestra dresses and three performances in seven days. There is a lot more rest built into the schedule for the rest of the run. Part of it may be oversinging. I believe this wouldn't have been a problem if we had more of a normal opera schedule, but with this crazy three show weekend, I might have to think about pacing myself and singing less when I can. Part of it is the fact that this was the first time we've ever had an afternoon performance. I thought I was doing myself a favor be getting up early. Next time I think I'll sleep longer and let a little more rest get into my cords. I'm also second guessing my use of ibuprofen- I normally don't take drugs unless I have to. I definitely had that not-so-fresh feeling (vocally speaking), but I don't know that the ibu did anything for me.

I may have overreacted when I was warming up this afternoon, but I was scared. In the end there was no announcement made about me. The director and I decided that we would see how act I went. If it was terrible, we would make an announcement before the 2nd Act and by then I was feeling much better. As my castmate said, panic is as good as a shot of cortizone anyday. he also said a big part of this job is adrenaline management, pure and simple. What do I think? I don't know. I think there are no atheists in a foxhole, and I was praying to God, Jesus, St. Christopher, Sherrill Milnes, the ghost of Tito Gobbi, and Clair Richardson's ashes to help me squeak by today.

I made the right decision today. I was scared, but I could still phonate, get through phrases, and the top still felt pretty easy. It may have been slightly less than pristine, but it went much better than I thought it would. Like I said, I was forced to economize. It's good to be put into that situation every now and again.

And thus ends another verbose, prosaic, random collection of thoughts from a ranting baritone. I'm confident that with a little rest (and maybe another one of these Eastside Dark Lagers) I'll be back to normal in no time. I can see an ENT if I need to, but honestly, I think I'm just tired after a long week. And, I'm a totally tacky shameless whore on stage and tend to overdo it occasionally. Shocked, I know.

Thanks for sticking with me. I'll let you know how the next one goes.


PS- I also learned to save my work. I had to rewrite half of this stupid blog entry because the internet at the plaza is so ramshackle. Ha. Ramshackle. Good word.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A warm hand on your opening

Thanks for all the well-wishes last night! Very greatly appreciated. We had a great opening night. I felt a little frantic here and there- mostly opening night nerves, I think- but generally felt pretty good about the singing. Largo felt good, especially at the beginning. The opening G's were easy. I was able to just sit back and enjoy them instead of 'driving' them. I'm focusing on spending the exact amount of energy on the high notes as I would on the middle notes - not goosing them or pushing them just because they are high. The result (so far) is easier, more in-tune top notes. It's basically a question of trust in the moment- trust that I don't have to scream for them to come out. It's an ongoing process, but going well. The end was a little scary, but it always is. My breath gets so stacked at the end I just sort of acquiesce and let what's going to happen happen. The final G came out just fine and everybody lived.

I went to Mars during the Count/Figaro duet. We opened a cut early this week to allow more time for the crew to make the scene shift on time. Neither the Count nor I had ever sung the duet uncut, so it was a challenge to put it back in. Anyhoo, I was completely out to lunch during the cut music last night. Ah well- we got back on track and no one was the wiser (I hope). The audience seemed to really enjoy the show and I heard some definite giggling and guffawing in the house.

The challenge is to now sing another one of these bad boys tonight and a matinee tomorrow (did I mention we do three of these in a row on the weekend?). I feel pretty good today- I haven't vocalized yet, but I don't feel fatigued. I have been warming up slowly throughout the afternoon and plan to do so again today. I'm thinking about matinee strategy- is it better to get up super early tomorrow so that I'm fully awake and warmed up but less rested by curtain, or do I sleep later and get more rest but feel less warmed up? HA! Who can know? I have no idea. I'm leaning toward getting up early. I don't know why.

Oof. I love Skylight, but this schedule...It's like the opposite of my Ashlawn schedule. I'll post something after the matinee. I may just have to have a beer after that one.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Barber opens tonight!

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be performing this role.  It has been so much fun putting this together.  Here's to a great run.  

...for your reading pleasure

The Journal Sentinel used me for a little pre-press.  I obliged.

Tom Strini wrote this nice piece from his new home at 3rd Coast Digest.  Apparently, I'm from Chicago.

...for your viewing pleasure

...and more backstage fun

2 blogs in something fun

We had our final dress of Barber last night.  There was an invited audience of family, friends, and corporate sponsors.  It was a total blast.  It felt like a show.  As I typed that last sentence, I accidentally typed "It felt like a shoe." Well, it did sort of feel like a shoe as well.  It was our show, comfy, but still fresh, and we are still finding fun new moments here and there.  And the singing isn't too bad either.  I know they're not all going to feel that way, but it was a great way to preview our show and get us ready for the opening weekend.  The audience seemed to really like it too- there were guffaws galore.  Granted, since there were a lot of friends and family in the audience, we were sort of 'playing to the band,' as it were, but even so they seemed to be with us the entire time.  It makes such a huge difference to have them out there.  

The singing was a lot easier last night as well.  That was a good feeling.  I don't know if it was just luck or what, but I also warmed up earlier in the day, thinking that way it would be easier to hit the ground running when I go out to do Largo.  I also keep finding places to ease up.   When I was first putting this role up on its feet, I felt I was singing on 11 the whole time.  That's tiring, not much fun, and not very interesting.  As we have done more and more runs, there are lots of opportunities to turn down the overdrive a little and just sing.  I'm excited for opening, and I'm so very grateful that I finally get to perform this role I've been wanting to do for so long.

So now, the 2nd blog....

Post Mortem of Ashlawn Figaro

I have put off writing this forever.  Mostly, because I was bitter at the insane schedule we had there (4 performances with a week off in between each one).  With that schedule it was impossible to get any continuity in our show, and I was needlessly away from my family for a long stretch of time.  We could have easily done four performances in the span of one week and been done with it....but I digress.  This is why I haven't written about the Ashlawn experience- because I didn't want my bitterness to pop to the surface, when what I should really be focusing on is the aspect of my performance, and how this one fits into the whole mess of Figaros I'm doing this year.  

Despite all the inherent problems of working at Ashlawn (and there are many....I'll tell you about them sometime when I'm not writing a blog), this was a very important Figaro for me.  Why?  I felt I had the license to truly say 'forget it' (or some derivation of that) and take risks onstage.  I treated each performance as a playground, and I took vocal risks I never would have tried before.  Singing pianissimo, holding a note longer, messing with the dynamics, placement, breathing, anything you can think of.  And I learned a lot about my voice in the process.  So much so, that I think this current Figaro I'm doing has benefitted greatly because of it.  All the stuff I was talking about before about finding moments of ease in Barber are a direct result of the process I went through at Ashlawn.  I think I really tapped into a more efficient way of singing there, and I'm so glad I did because that's what I need to get through 12 performances of Barber.  I also had a blast in Charlottesville, a truly wonderful city.  

I guess that's not much of a post-mortem, but there you go.  

I hope that Ashlawn is able to continue successfully.  It has the potential to be a fantastic opera company.  Their new home at the Paramount theatre is a step in the right direction.  they are right in the heart of the downtown mall.  There is tons of money in the community.  They need a strong leader to step up and pull all the loose ends together.  I have hope they can find one.  This notice gave me some encouragement.  It's going to be a big job for whoever they find- anyone out there interested?

All right, enough blather.  Here's something fun:

I'm not too proud to steal from Woody Woodpecker.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Honesty Time part deux

Thanks for all the comments after my last neurotic post.  I was definitely a bit panicky after our first dress.  As I was reminded, this is just a step in the process.  You put a show together, and it falls apart as you add new elements.  It is then your job to put it back together.  But it you can't get it back all at once.  It comes in steps.

Monday night's orchestra dress was great.  It was fun, easy, and everything I wanted Sunday's rehearsal to be.  It was incredibly encouraging and was exactly what I needed after feeling so down after the first run.  

Last night's run was hard work.  It was not fun and easy, but it still worked, and at this point in the process that is great information to have.  With 12 performances (13 including tonight's final dress), there will be great nights and not-so-great nights, but if I can get through it with some level of consistency then I have done my job.  Right?

Tonight there will be an audience, and that should be fun.  We have a great cast and it is a funny show, so to have the audience energy will be great.  

Despite all my fears and doubts about this opera, I really do love singing it.  We have our final dress tonight, and a day off tomorrow.  


Monday, September 14, 2009

Honesty Time

We had our first dress rehearsal last night.  It was hard.  Really hard.  And I didn't even sing, I marked.  If I'm this stressed out about a piano dress, how am I going to feel on opening night?  Yikes.  

Now, I'm not fishing for compliments, soliciting encouraging remarks, or anything like that.  I just want to be honest about this moment in the process.  I am terrified.  And our rehearsal process has been so good.  Imagine how I would feel if the rehearsals hadn't been going well.  

We have our first orchestra dress tonight.  My goal is to say screw it (or some derivation of that) and just try to enjoy it and trust that all the work I did in rehearsal will pay off.  Here's hopin'.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

The healing power of Wolski's

So we had a blessed day off on Thursday and now we are deep in the throes of tech.  We had our first onstage spacing rehearsal on Friday night, and today we have a mammoth 12-hour tech with all the bells and whistles.  Tomorrow is more tech and a piano dress.   This is always an interesting juncture in putting together a show.  You spend 2 1/2 weeks creating a story, and then you systematically take it apart and put it back together in a new space with lights, set, and props.  Even during the smoothest of tech rehearsals, it takes some time to get 'your show' back once you move into the hall.  The beautiful thing about the Cabot Theatre is that is very intimate, so the move from rehearsal room to hall isn't quite as dramatic.  

On our day off, I went out with two dear friends, Katy (our kick-ass Rosina) and Jamie (our pianist, recit master, and general bottle washer).  We had lovely dinner and drinks at a place called The Knick, and Jamie and I continued our evening at an old Milwaukee institution (and one of my favorite bars in the world), Wolski's.  For the uninitiated, Wolski's is a true neighborhood bar- homey, friendly, smoky and convivial.  A dive, is what I'm saying.  One of the best parts of going to Wolski's is that when you shut it down you get a bumper sticker proudly stating "I closed Wolski's."  I have several, including a shiny new one.

I have had many a great night with Jamie at Wolski's, and the other night was no exception.  We spoke of many things (fools and kings), but the part that is pertinent ("pertinent" is in air quotes of course) to this blog is his impression of how Figaro is going for me.  Now I've known JJ  for over 10 years, and he has seen me in the whole gamut of roles, from basso buffo to lyric baritone.  He is also a beautifully honest person, and had lots of opinions to share with me over pitchers of Schlitz (the proportion of honesty to Schlitz consumption is direct).  Although he said that I'm sounding the best I ever have, the part that was most useful to me is how he noticed that the best sound I make in the whole show is when I play drunk in the Count/Figaro duet.  It's his theory that it may be because I'm physically so loosey goosey during that moment, and that is allowing me to get more bang for my buck, vocally speaking.  I think he is on to something, and that even though I basically feel good about this role, the fact remains that I have a lot of expectations about how this role should sound and I'm sure that manifests itself physically in how I sing it (mostly Largo).  I think I 'lock and load' some of the high notes instead of just trusting that they will be there and be magnificent.  And Figaro is dude to whom everything comes easy- the high notes need to be easy too....and they are easy.  So why do I physically 'set' myself for them? I think I need to let go of my baggage on my journey through this role, and remember that I can pick it back up whenever I want to.  But to let go of it and find the ease.  The beautiful thing is that I have 12 performances to play around with the vocalism, and I need to give myself permission to play just like I have in the last few Nozze productions I've done.  

Our conversation went late into the night with this cherished artist and good friend.  Ah, Wolski's....thanks for facilitating such rich dialectic.  We were golden with bar light and beer.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes with easing up.  But now, back to tech.  


PS- Jamie and I may or may not have done a broadway song-and-dance version of 'On Eagle's Wings' while waiting for a light cue to be written.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jabber Jabber Jabber

We had our sitzprobe for Barber on stage at the Cabot theatre last night.  It went really well, especially since it was the third day in a row I had sung the role full out.  I wanted to see what it would be like to sing out three times in a row to get ready for our monster 12-performance run (did I mention we have three shows in a row on the weekend?).  And though I felt a little tired and less than pristine, I have to say this role is starting to feel like it's in my voice.  I even feel pretty decent today- it kind of makes me think that I'm not singing wrong.  I know that's a horribly worded sentence.  Back off.  

Today is the blessed day off and I am giving my brain a chance to decompress before we enter the craziness of tech.  Tomorrow is our first rehearsal on stage.  We saw part of the set last night.  It's going to be cool, but I realized last night that we do an awful lot of running up and down a flight of stairs.  That was easy enough in the rehearsal room when they were just tape marks on the floor.  When I saw how high the stairs actually go last night, I got a little concerned.  I go up an down those damn stairs 2 or three times in the course of 'Zitti Zitti Piano Piano.'  Ah well.  It will be good exercise and will keep my mind off the crazy A naturals Rossini wrote for Figaro in that feisty little number.  

I also made my debut performance in the pit orchestra last night.  I was nervous, but in the end it made no difference because I was barely audible in the house.  The AV director is going to work on amplifying me so Greg (our Almaviva) can hear me better on stage.  I'm kind of looking forward to starting each performance in the pit.  It will keep me from pacing around the dressing room, getting nervous for Largo.  I won't have time to get nervous - I'll have to just put my guitar away, run upstairs and go.  I think that's a good thing.  

I'm going to leave the hotel now and enjoy this gorgeous day.  More later.  


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

did I mention....

....that I am playing the guitar in the pit for 'Ecco Ridente?' Well, I am. Don't get me wrong- I love playing the guitar on stage (I once played the recit and opening of 'Se vuol ballare' on guitar in a production of Nozze). I spent a lot of my youth playing guitar and it's great to get a chance to use it in my current gig. Plus, as some of you know, I'm a bit of a, how shall I say, whore on stage and jump at the chance to do anything cool.

That being said, 'Ecco Ridente' is a challenging chart. I'm not a classical guitarist by any stretch. It's pretty common for the Figaro in Barber to play Almaviva's serenade on guitar- totally manageable. A little a minor, a little E7, badda boom badda bing, you got yourself a serenade. 'Ecco' is another ball of wax altogether. Granted, it's in C major (thank God!), but it's also totally exposed in spots, you are playing with an orchestra, and it requires some actual chops. I had a chance to rehearse with the orchestra yesterday at one of their reads. Beforehand, I asked our esteemed conductor Pasquale, 'they know I'm a singer and not a guitarist right?' I felt a little like an impostor, but it went ok. I'm glad it's in C. If nothing else, it will keep me from biting my nails for a few weeks!

Today it's recits, whole recits, and nothing but the recits. We're doing speed-throughs of all the recits to help the flow feel more conversational. It's a good exercise- we should do it more often. We have another run-through (I've been calling it a fun-through cuz I'm a nerd) tonight. More loud singing, but hopefully a little more control as well.


Monday, September 7, 2009

The best thing about a first run-through... that you never have to have a first run-through again.

We are currently at the act break in our first 'designer' run-through. That's where the run crew, education department, scenic/set/light designers watch us do our little skit so they can gear up for tech week (rapidly approaching). I have decided to sing out as much as possible for all of our rehearsal room runs, to get a sense of what it's going to be like when we do three of these in a row on the weekend (did I mention that we do three of these in row on the weekend?).

It's going ok. Which is to say, I managed to get through all of it- got all the high notes, got all the jumping around in the Largo, etc. I wouldn't say that it was very graceful, and I'm hoping that if I'm at this stage now, maybe by the time we hit the stage I can add a little vocal nuance to it. As I've said before, I have a bit of psychological baggage when it comes to this role, and just to know that I can get through it has been huge for me. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. People with glass voices shouldn't eat pop rocks.

I think there might be a Lakefront Oktoberfest in my near future. But first, Act II (Gesundheit!). Thank goodness the hard stuff is over for tonight.


PS- if vacationing in Milwaukee (hold for laugh), check out the Sprecher brewery tour. Highly educational and delicious. Afterwards, go down the street and get a butter burger at Solly's. Highly fatty and delicious. After that, have your cholesterol and/or BMI checked.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm a ramblin' guy

Last night's concert/open house at Skylight was a huge success. The bar was jam packed for the cabaret portion of the evening, and Catalano square was jam packed as well for the outdoor concert. And they stayed!!! The concert was long and went on much later than expected, but the crowd basically stayed for the whole night. We all moved into the Cabot theatre to finish off the night (it was pretty amazing to hear Colin Cabot invite everyone into the Cabot theatre). I think we all expected people to go home at this point, but the Cabot was jam packed too! Then the bar was full again after the evening was through. There were tons of fantastic performances, including our cast members Greg Schmidt, Katy Pracht, and Kathy Pyeatt, as well as the glorious Tanya Kruse (she'll be playing the Countess in Figaro here at Skylab later this season), but I think the pinnacle was when Mike Lorenz played the Habanera from Carmen on a tuned set of bicycle horns. It was nothing short of genius, and I hope it ends up on YouTube soon.

As for my little portion of the evening, I did an abridged version of Largo (the fastest Largo ever- Jamie Johns and I were off to the races). It was the first time I've performed it in the English translation [sidebar: we're using the George Mead translation that is published in the Ricordi score. It's the third English translation I have done, having sung Bartolo in the Donald Pippin translation (my favorite line: "Figaro, you're looking healthy, pink and plump"), and the Ruth & Thomas Martin translation (my favorite line: "I am the king of lather and foam"). Luckily, those were all so long ago they have faded from memory, and since this is my first Figaro, it's all new]. It went pretty well I must say- the crowd liked it (thank God- the aria is designed to be a show-off piece after all), and all the G's came out well (I was a little worried after standing outside for the whole Catalano concert). What really worried me, though was that I had lines in the Groucho Marx skit (played by the brilliant Norman Moses, who stayed in costume afterwards in the bar as well!). I had to inroduce the sawing-Groucho-in-half-trick, and that made me more nervous than anything. I was in very good hands with Norman- it makes me want to come back and see the Marx brothers show he is doing here at Skylab later this season.

I was very proud to be a part of last night's concert. The audience, performers, staff were all there celebrating the rich history of Skylight and ushering it into another 50 + years. There was such a feeling of camaraderie, that we're all lucky to be here at this moment, especially after all the maelstrom that was this summer. I hope it did something to start to heal the divide, and maybe sell a few subsricptions as well. There were reports of big $$$ being made in donations last night, and that is hugely encouraging (the figure I heard was upwards of $10 k!!!).

Last night was such a big event (kudos to the SOT staff and volunteers for pulling it off with such panache), that afterwards in the bar I sort of felt like we had opened. Oops. That feeling rapidly went away this morning as I showed up for a full day of reviewing Act I, staging the Act II Quintet, and stumbling through the whole first act. Oof. Ah well, it's a happy tired at least. More later.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Skylight Open House tonight

I know it's been awhile since I posted, but the internets have been down at the luxurious Plaza Hotel. When I mentioned this before, my Dad said, "Art Deco internet?" You see, it's an old art deco building, and, well, never mind.

Tonight there is a big outdoor concert/fundraiser/open house at Skylight. A bunch of us from the cast are singing some ditties from the show- it will be my first time singing Largo in English in public-yikes. I'm doing an onstage bit with Norman Moses (a brilliant Milwaukee actor who I just saw in 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Cabot Theatre in Milwaukee) as Groucho Marx, so that will takr some of the pressure off me to be brilliant (shameless-yes, brilliant-not so much today). I'm hoping they bring in tons of dough tonight. If you are in the Milwaukee area and are looking for a fun way to spend the evening, stop on by.

Rehearsals have been a lot of fun so far. I've sort of gotten past the initial freak-out stage and am really enjoying putting the show together. Although it's a character I know well, the Rossini version is definitely a different animal, vocally, physically, and in every other way. I'm sure I'll have more to say about that later.

I still need to do a post-mortem on the Ashlawn experience- I know I know. I'll do it.

For now though, I have to spit out a few pages of recit and review the Act II Quintet.