Volume 3 Book 1 Part 10 of
Living in the Bonus Round

Melrose Ave. Saturday night, October 12.
Opening night of The Big Voice: God or Merman?

[ Book 2-10 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] - [ Book 3-2 ]

October 12-13, 2002.
Opening Weekend at the Zephyr.

Jim and Steve posing in front of the Zephyr marquee.
The Zephyr is one of the most beloved theatres in L.A.
Gary Guidinger and Linda Toliver run a classy operation.

The feelings I experienced walking into the Zephyr Theatre opening in this show is something I will try to describe, but I will fail. They are simply too complex. I get flashbacks of memories firing at me from all sides. It was summer of 1996. I was just beginning my long trek back from the brink of death. There was an I.V. port in my arm. We were just beginning the workshop of a little musical called The Last Session. Now, it's six years later -- and it feels like coming home.

The entrance to the Zephyr Theatre on Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood.
Gary and Linda got a red carpet from David Rambo, our playwright friend.

(Memory flash: Gary and Linda asking us what we wanted to do with The Last Session. My answer -- as I feebly looked up at them barely able to breathe or hold my head up -- "Why, we want to go to Broadway!!")
And just like the last time, we are doing this guerrilla style. No budget. No advertising. Barebones stage. Word of mouth audiences. And, as if to make sure the ALL the odds would be stacked against us, this weekend is the start of Edgefest, a city-wide theatre festival where you buy a single ticket and get admission to a ton of shows. In other words, the press and the critics would be busy elsewhere.
(Memory flash: Chip Esten as "Buddy" giving me encouragement as an actor in TLS on the stage of the Zephyr, "Just look me in the eye, listen to me and talk to me. You'll be fine.")
We did, however, get Julio Martinez from Variety and Les Spindle from both Backstage West and the West Coast GLBT magazine, Frontiers. The rest of the audience consisted of people who simply read about it in a press release somewhere. LA Times has mentioned us this past Thursday, but we were not listed in their newly formatted Sunday Calendar with the shrunken theatre section.

Director Anthony Barnao visits Jim and Steve in the dressing room.
Geez, I'm so skinny.

Jim and stage manager Jeramy Peay
in the smoking room before the show.

(Memory flash: Our staged reading at the Zephyr six years ago. Saturday morning. The borrowed keyboard was late because they were having a Gay Pride parade and the guy with the keyboard couldn't get across the road.)

I felt really secure about the show itself. The backstage butterflies were at a minimum. I think the thing I was MOST excited about was the fact that our CDs arrived on time!

Each one of the first 500 will be signed and numbered personally by Steve and Jim.

Anthony begged, "I GET NUMBER ONE!!"
Okay, Anthony. Okay. (Sheesh).
He probably just wants to sell it on ebay.

Signing one of the first ones to Jeramy.
All the production team received CDs from the first 10.

Todd came along to help us sell CDs. Here he is with Linda Toliver, co-producer.

My friend Sonia from Bridges Across. Here we are with Gary Guidinger.

The show went smoothly. Saturday night the laughs and the applause were explosive from the first line. I remembered almost all my lines. Jimmy told me later I left out one line on both Saturday and Sunday. The Sunday night show was different. The audience was quiet during act one but the explosive during act two. Funny how no two audiences are the same.

(Memory flash: It was closing night of the TLS workshop. My parents had been secretly flown in by Kim and Ronda to see the final performance -- and earlier that day, the PICC line in my arm had failed. The question was whether my body was ready to start processing food on its own or whether I'd have to go back into the hospital. The other question was, now that we had introduced our new musical -- our first musical -- what would happen? Would we disappear into the mass of the thousands of other musicals dreamed, born and workshopped in Los Angeles? Would we move on to greater things? And what would happen to me? Would I survive to see it if it did move on?)
We finished our show this night, this unusually overcast and cool Melrose Avenue night. We rolled up the red carpet and packed the keyboard into the backseat of the car to take back to Kim and Ronda's. Opening weekend was done. All the work, toil, blood, sweat and tears had culminated in a new show The Big Voice: God or Merman?

I felt satisfied, energized, and fulfilled. It was the show we wanted it to be. Just the two of us, Jimmy and Steve telling the story of their lives. The joys, the heartbreaks, the betrayals, the pain, the victories and the realization that God wasn't "out there" but in each other. Would anyone else care?

It would now in the hands of the critics and in the "word of mouth" of the audiences.

And it seems like this is the perfect ending to a new beginning.

End of Volume 3, Book 1 of Living In The Bonus Round.

[ Book 2-10 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] - [ Book 3-2 ]
© 1996-2002 by Steve Schalchlin.
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