Musical Insurgency
Volume 4 Book 2 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(Part 1)

On the road to Heaven (and Palm Springs).
[ Book 4-1 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ]
[ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ]  -- [ Book 4-3 ]

September 1-12, 2004.
Hospital Rooms.
Because so many good things were happening last week, I kind of kept quiet about a piece of not so happy news that was happening while all this was going on. My mom was told she might have to have heart valve replacement surgery. So she went to Dallas and got probed and photo'd and x-ray and bariumed. Turns out that a repair would be sufficient.

And all this was happening on her birthday!

Anyway, before I even had a chance to breathe, we're suddenly into the new diary book ("Musical Insurgency"), less than two weeks from the New York Musical Theatre Festival debut of The Big Voice. I keep having these nightmares that we'll show up and we'll be the only guys in the whole place. Empty pews over the gladiator pit.

Hey, folks. Welcome to the bonus round.

I tend to do things fast around here. Not because I'm specifically trying to make things go faster, but that's the nature of the bonus round in any game show. Time speeds up and the prizes get better.

How do you know if you're in the bonus round? I'll tell ya. You're already in the bonus round. How you use that time is completely up to you.

So my mom sounded fine. Weak, but cheerful. I told her, "You'll do anything to get attention, huh? You and Bill Clinton." (Who was also having heart surgery during this time).

She said, "I know it!"

She must have been watching the news because she said LAX was closed down due to a bomb threat. She continued, "So many terrible things happening in the world."

I found myself saying, "So many good things, too."

SEPT. 12:
Update: She's out of the hospital and being waited on hand and foot by my dad. I told him, "It's about time you started pulling your own weight around there."

I love my folks. They're truly the most loving parents one could imagine -- and I love how they love and care for each other.

Jimmy described our situation this past week as living in a hospital. He's gone from the bed to the couch to the bed to the couch. Looking back, we realized it's been months since we've had time to just rest and be together -- and recharge our batteries. We've been doing a lot of sleeping.

We've also been preparing for our trip to New York to do Big Voice. The more I think of it, the more my stomach flipflops. No matter how incredible our experience with this show has been so far, New York is New York. Luckily, we've already done two very successful staged readings there so I feel very confident that people there will enjoy it once they see it, but still my nightmare is that we'll show up and no one will be there to hear us.

(Isn't that every performer's nightmare?)

The disadvantage to being in a festival is that you are one of many. All of them are able works vying for attention. All the other shows are starting now and they are all in New York promoting themselves. We're here in L.A. doing it long distance. (So, all diary readers alert. TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO BUY TICKETS TO BIG VOICE).

While I've been home, I've reconnected with pals. Last Tuesday, I ran down to Redondo Beach to work with David on some songs for the Sara Haze project. It's so fun working with Dave. He throws stuff out there so openly and I sit there crabbing about "what sucks." Then we fix it or try to. But that's what makes it so easy to work together. He is not shy about telling me when any one of my ideas suck.

Dave Robyn Woeckener
Speaking of songwriter collaborations, as I'm writing this I've just read the news that the great theatre lyricist Fred Ebb died. We met Fred and had lunch with him back when Jimmy was at the El Portal. He and John Kander wrote some of the greatest theatre pieces in history, not the least of which were "Cabaret" and "Chicago."

One story I didn't tell in that diary entry was that Fred had the "shakes," like Katharine Hepburn, only it was in his hands. This was back in 2001. Anyway, during our lunch together he was eating spaghetti. It was an absolute tour de force watching him get the spaghetti onto his fork and then into his mouth as the fork would shake back and forth on its way from the plate to his mouth. But he stuck it out and managed to eat every bite.

ROAD TRIP! We decided to drive to Palm Springs because our friend actor Dick Bell was visiting from New York -- and also a couple of producers of gay theatre in Palm Springs have booked us to do the show there after having heard about The Big Voice when we appeared in Chicago. Seemed like a great excuse to get out of the house, take a drive and scope out the venues.

One of them, they told us, would be a big outdoor venue that's being rebuilt. The other is a place downtown called Heaven. And I thought, How nice to be looking for Heaven.

There's a mountain range right up against the downtown area.

Dick Bell in Palm Springs.

Catching Jimmy tripping the light fantastic around the pool.
(I just happened to be taping when Jimmy tripped.
I think he looks very athletic. Don't you?)

This is not my car.

Nearing The Villa, scene of a future Big Voice appearance.

It has nice colorful bungalows.

The main office.

We got to the Villa to see where we would be performing in February. Nice place. Lovely little bungalows and a big swimming pool. Kind of old fashioned looking. We met the owner who took us around to the performance space:

The owner of The Villa.

Our future venue. It's not done yet.

As we were leaving someone said to him, "It was nice coming here and seeing your hole."

And by the way, we managed to pull into Palm Springs on the one day out of the year that it rained. Not only was it rainy, but it was steamy and muggy. That is just NOT Palm Springs. And weirdly, the weather kept changing. First it would be muggy and rainy, then suddenly the sky would clear, the temperature would go up to nearly 100 degrees farenheit, and the air would feel bone dry. Then five minutes later, overcast and muggy again. Very bizarre.

Next on the agenda to find "Heaven." I don't know much about Palm Springs but I'm told it's a really popular venue and perfect for a two-man musical like ours. First we turned into this shopping center -- and once again, it's so dramatic to see the mountains right there.

Looking for Heaven.

Ah, it's heaven!

The lamp at the front desk.

Heaven is a big gay nightclub.

And that brings us up to date.

I'm calling this book "Musical Insurgency." I figured if the radical Islamists can have an insurgency, then so can I. Only I won't use guns, knives or weapons. I have something much more powerful indeed. The two most beautiful words in the English language:

Musical Comedy!

[ Book 4-1 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ]
[ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ]  -- [ Book 4-3 ]

© 1996-2004 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.