Volume 3 Book 5 Part 3 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(The Big Voice Chronicles)

Earl Holliman, Edward Albert, Edward's daughter, actress Thais Carmen & Jimmy.

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

[ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ]
May 9-15, 2003.
Cesar & Ruben.

The El Portal's neon-drenched marquee.
Just before we left Los Angeles for Rochester, NY we visited Jimmy's old workplace, the El Portal Theatre to see a new musical that recently opened about labor activist Cesar Chavez called "Cesar & Ruben" written by actor Ed Begley and starring an old friend of Jimmy's, Edward Albert.

Years ago, Jimmy starred in a production of "Room Service" with Edward and his father, Eddie Albert (remember him? the husband on "Green Acres?). The musical itself was beautiful rendered with songs by people like Peter Gabriel, Sting and Ruben Blades. Edward played a mean landowner who was exploiting the migrant farm workers. He was absolutely brilliant and worth the price of admission alone.

The colorful poster for Cesar & Ruben.

The final week before heading off to Rochester consisted, as usual, of doctor visits. My AIDS doc was worried that my triglycerides were once again elevated, so I went by for a new test. I don't have the results yet, but if they stay high, he said he might want to put me on yet another medication.

I also went by the butt doctor who actually had some good news. He said the added fiber in my diet was shrinking the ulcer and that some of the surrounding tissue (which had been turning dark due to the choking off of the blood supply) was beginning to heal -- and that the ulcer was shrinking. So, he suggested I continue the good diet, that perhaps we could avoid surgery.

That made me extraordinarily happy. This was one surgical procedure I was NOT looking forward to.

I also received a great honor from saying that this diary, Ye Olde Bonus Round, has been nominated for a Legacy Award (Hall of Fame category).  Makes me feel old.

Oh wait. I am old.


May 16-19, 2003.
Once In Love With Amy.

Amy Coleman and Steve.
One of the fun things about being a musician is that I can do things other than just our show. I love doing Big Voice, but I also sometimes just yearn to be "the guy on the piano." So, when I get to play for Amy Coleman, it feels like a real treat. She and I have a genuine affection for each other -- and it shows on stage! She always has me tell the story of her first audition when she sang "House of the Rising Sun." Each time I tell it, of course, the story gets bigger and bigger. About how she "dragged in," how her sheet music was a wadded up piece of tissue and how I jumped on the piano and played for her.

Opening weekend here in for our "return engagement" has been fun. However, as Chris Kawolsky the managing director of Downstairs Cabaret Theatre said last night, "Each time is like starting over," when it comes to building an audience and creating an awareness in the community. This time around, we don't have the advantage of additional press, since they already wrote about us in February.

Outside Downstairs Cabaret Theatre 2

This means the theatre has to hustle in different ways. They've been doing a lot of flyering, for instance, at the Lilac Festival which just closed this past Sunday. And by the way, the weather here is beautiful. We had a few rainy days, but by Sunday, the skies were blue with puffy white clouds, the sun was shining bright, the air with just a slight nip so that it's "light jacket" weather, and it smells amazing with all the lilacs and other flowering trees in bloom.


There have been busloads of tourists who come in just to visit the lilacs. I'll be heading over there this week to take lots of pictures. I haven't had the chance since we arrived on Tuesday. Our days have mostly been dedicated to tech rehearsals with Lesli.

The adorable Lesli Hudson, stage manager.

Lesli and I bonded when TLS played here. She was our stage manager and, in fact, came from Houston (where we just finished playing). But she and I are bestest of friends, so it's really fun to reconnect with her.

Jason Hungerford and Jason Seymour
(our "adopted" kids)
Over the weekend we had one performance where I got totally screwed up. I was making a big stage cross on the line (in a terrible french accent), "Get your Lourdes water here. Holy Mary bumper stickers. Plastic glow-in-ze dark virgins..." and I could not get the words out. By the time I got to stage right, I couldn't think of the words, "plastic glow-in-ze dark virgins." So I just stammered.

I looked back over at Jimmy who pointed stage left, like, "Do it again."

So, I walked all the way back over stage left. Started my cross and once again, I could not think of the words, "plastic glow-in-ze dark virgins," so I just said, "I can't remember!"

Jimmy totally deadpanned me, which got the audience hysterical. Then he went on. From that point on, we had them. It's funny, but mistakes only work when they are genuine. If we tried to plan that and do it every night it would never work. But when it happens for real, audiences just eat it up.

I had more than a few brain-drops this past weekend, so it's been a little like a white knuckle ride.

Outside Downstairs Cabaret 2.
Notice in the background is the evil tower from Lord of the Rings.

A volunteer.

Sunday night, after our matinee, was when I played for Amy. She was great as usual. But what's funny is that she got here and realized she had forgotten to pack the dress she was gonna wear. So, the day before, we went over to the costume shop at the theatre and she found something. It's looked okay, I guess, except Jimmy said it had way too much of a "button thing" going on.

He took pictures from the audience. Amy's show is mostly blues numbers and chanteuse type material. Together we sang a few songs, including "Son Of A Preacher Man." I felt like Edgar Winter trading vocal licks with her at the end of the song.

We also sang a very emotional "Going It Alone" together. She told the story of how "Vicki" in The Last Session says to Gideon, "About 'Going It Alone,' I think you must have written that with me in mind so I thought I'd sing the lead on it instead of you, isn't that brilliant?" But this night, instead of delivering Gideon's, "No!" I said, "Yes." And she sang it beautifully.

After the show, (and I forgot to bring my camera), we visited Chris Burley and his wife. Chris played "Jim" in Rochester-TLS. We sat out back in their tiki-like (except not tacky) poolhouse all night in the crisp cool air talking and laughing and remembering funny moments in our collective histories.

Chris has a lilac bush (tree?) in his back yard so I sat there all night listening to stories, with a branch of lilacs in my hand.

It's really nice to back in Rochester.

[ Book 3-4 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]
© 1996-2003 by Steve Schalchlin.
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