Steve's Fall 1998 Tour
Volume 1 Book 10 Part 3 of "Living In The Bonus Round"
The Online Diary of Steve Schalchlin

Part 3 - Memphis & Boston!
(Entries culled by Gail from public discussion board postings)

[ Diary Index ]
[ Book 9 ] -- [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] - [ Vol. 2 Book 1 ]

November 4, 1998

Well, reader, here I sit in a room in the Residence Hall of the University of Memphis. Margaret Ritchie from the Health Dept. brought me in to sing tonight, but I have no idea what kind of turnout we are going to have. As usual, no one has a clue who I am or what I'm doing here. Songs About AIDS???? 

But this afternoon I got to meet the head of the Theatre Dept. and he HAD heard about TLS. His first comment was, "Those folks at InTheatre really liked you guys, didn't they? You were all over that magazine!!" 

This school does not have a musical theatre program but it has a drama dept and a music dept in the same building and the professors have been wanting to find a way to merge resources to create musical theatre. Naturally, I suggested TLS and offered my plan about my coming in for a staged reading where I play Gideon and students play the other parts. 

I said, "It's music so your singers/musicians would enjoy it," and it's drama and we could do it really easily. He loved the idea, so maybe I planted a good seed there. None of the composition and music professors knew about my concert tonight (which is going to be very low tech with an out of tune piano in a commons room with no stage and no lights). 

But maybe a few of the music students will show up and we'll have a good time. But that's not the best. The best thing it this: 

ONE OF MY ORIGINAL NET FANS KERRY (who I've never met face to face) is coming and tonight I'm going to stay with her and her husband AND.... 

HOOVER THE PIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


And they have a piano. Hoover was the first non-human to fall in love with the music of TLS and Kerry says when Hoover hears the music he rolls over on his back and his skin starts quivering. She puts my music on when she needs to clip his nails or give him a bath. 

So, tonight I'm going to perform a special concert at Kerry and Jon's for Hoover. Just the two of us. 

From dos
November 4, 1998
The pig rolls over on his back and starts shivering when he hears your music ????? 

Sounds like he is having a seizure to me.

November 5, 1998

Oh, I had this wonderful fantasy that I'd sit there and sing for Hoover and he'd recognize my voice (Hoover is Kerry's pet potbellied pig who loves my songs), but when we finally met face to face, he was just like Thurber and Steinbeck: 


I started singing to him and he walked away.

I can't even get respect from a pig.

From Mary Ann
November 6, 1998

What Hoover was really trying to say:

"There is only room for one ham in this room. That is why I am leaving!" 

From Kerry
November 5, 1998

Two years ago I stumbled on Steve's diary and hadn't been able to put it down yet. I'd nev

er written a response to anything I found posted on the web until that point. Jump ahead to last night, when we met face to face for the first time. I had expectations of a man living life to the fullest, who was warm, immensely hilarious and talented in ways I'd never seen up close. It's funny how a diary and a few email responses do convey someone's personality, Steve was exactly who I'd known through the text. 

The concert however, far exceeded anything I could have imagined. When we first walked in Steve pointed toward a battered old baby grand and a duct taped microphone, and I thought that I would certainly forgive a less than perfect performance under such circumstances. HAH...I was blown away and couldn't have guessed how great this performance is without seeing it in person. The kids gathered not knowing what to expect, we could hear them discussing being there for a class. Steve walked up to the battered duct taped mike and from then on out it was silence until question and answer time. They had good questions, you could tell that they were attentive. The second half began again and again I wondered sometimes if the kids sitting around me were even breathing. Much too soon the concert ended to the kids jumping on their feet and Steve, dear Steve feinting a brush of "sit down" with his hand. (It was the only moment I knew he wasn't sincere.) 

I "hogged" the pig's moment of personal concert. Since it was late and the porker is a creature of habit he ate his snack and waddled off to bed. I waddled into the room where the electric piano sits and the next thing I knew this fabulous song was coming forth. "Special Faith" is obviously pure Schalchlin. Can a man who's been writing for so long, and who produced the songs that send TLS into overdrive ever match it again? Yes, without a doubt. About the time the goosebumps calmed down on my arms he starts another new tune. This one was riveting in a way I haven't heard since "The Group". Again it's a famous Schalchlin "story" tune, and this one is also based on life. A young boy goes to a James Robison revival. Steve captures the boy's infatuation with the man who appears to have a direct line to God. For all intents and purposes the song feels to be leading up to a very happy ending. However when the real ending came, I felt as though I'd been shoved emotionally. It was unexpected, and emotionally moving. 

Steve, hope you're in Boston safe and sound, thanks for the concert, the tunes and the stories. Thanks is certainly not a strong enough word, but know that you again touched lives and moved folks to consider that today is the start of "The Bonus Round". 

November 6, 1998

Actually, the title of the first song is "Simple Faith" and it was a pleasure seeing you for the first time but I felt like we had been friends for years. And I am so glad you had that little piano at your house because I was " bursting with feelin' I had to play it for you." 

The kids in the class were wonderful but you're right, when I got there and saw the out of tune piano, which looked like it had been attacked by a band of vicious beavers, and the microphone stand held together by the Southerner's Universal Fix-it -- duct tape (which we had to stand on a cardboard box to get to it be high enough), I was worried. 

But the slightly out of tune piano didn't seem to hamper the effect of the music at all. In fact, one girl said it sounded like the kind of piano you would find in a old country church -- and she was right -- it just kinda seemed to fit my songs. 

Maybe I should untune all the pianos I play at, eh? 

But sitting there in your little den, watching you as I sang, knowing we had this 2 1/2 year relationship over the net -- you being the only one of my "original net friends" -- the others being Gabi and Shawn and Linda G. and Don K. and Jarvis (and who am I forgetting) -- it felt personally and powerfully sweet that we finally found each other. 

And I loved Hoover who stood outside my bathroom door the next morning and snorted. 

November 6, 1998

The Boston Globe has a great article today, "Net Gains Give Musician Bonus Round at Life

From Char
November 7, 1998

I just got back from Steve's Boston concert #1 - and all I can say is WOW!

I saw Steve do this same concert a year ago and I thought it was powerful then. Since then I have gone through some medical hells of my own, and when I sat in that little room tonight and listened to those beautiful, powerful songs they touched me in a way they never had before. I was stunned and elated and felt like I was a part of something very bery special. 

And then after the show I went out to say hi and get a hug - and Steve must have thought I was completely in la-la land. I can send piles of e-mail to the man, but after listening to his concert I couldn't find hardly a thing to say. 

So - I'll say it here. Thank you Steve, for this very very special night. 

From Martha
November 8, 1998

Like Char, I found myself speechless last night...and for those who know me, that's rare! It was so terrific to meet Char, Ann & Spencer in person. And the duo of "Going It Alone" with Will was fantastic! If you have the good fortune of being in Boston Sunday have to attend the benefit. It will be a dynamite performance by all. A young friend who attend last evening with us plans to attend Sunday's benefit...Steve made that big of an impression on him! Even though we were 'visiting' Boston, we heard the radio show was a terrific interview, especially with the physician from Lenox Hill in NYC who called. Just one question Steve....why didn't we get to hear those 'special' songs you did for Hoover? 

November 8, 1998

"Under the spreading chestnut tree
The Village Smithee stood..." 

The building where I was to be playing my two Bonus Round concerts is the same building that very village smithee used to work, the Blacksmith House it is called, which is now the home for the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (CCAE). Here in Cambridge/Boston is a culture so far removed from the barefooted south where I graduated high school, it's like visiting a foreign country. 

The air in this town is steeped with the sweet scent of history and people hungry for education and knowledge. Harvard University, Boston University, countless famous hospitals, Berklee School of Music -- thousands of students and people seeking to raise themselves to a higher level of enlightenment. 

I was a guest Friday morning on an NPR show called "Connections." When John Amodeo who organized the fundraiser where I would be appearing on Sunday night called them to pitch me as a guest, the rather stern producer sharply demanded, "Okay. Tell me why it would be the biggest mistake of my life to not book this guy." 

John, who is a sweet and very un-showbizzy kind of man said he was taken aback at first by the rather gruff manner, but finally said to her, "He's like a religion. When he speaks or sings everyone stops and listens." And he described my story --- the website and the musical, etc. and I got booked on the same show as Dave Barry the famous columnist. (He would come after me). 

At the station, they brought me into the booth and the host Christopher Lydon, a handsome man with gray hair and penetrating eyes sat down, picked up the little opening script and the Bonus Round materials they had printed out for him and immediately began rewriting his opening remarks. I couldn't tell how much he knew about me at this point but I did see that they had printed out the current diary page which contained the Memphis Concert stuff. 

As the show opened (with them playing "Connected" very appropriately) Christopher read his opening and we began talking. I don't even know what I said. He seemed a bit dispassionate at first so I couldn't tell if he was connecting with my story or not and I was a bit uncomfortable; I have this southern instinct to not want to intrude on someone else's territory, so if someone seems uninterested it kinda makes me go mushy. 

But then he asked me to sing on the air. I didn't have an instrument so I just sang the bridge of "Going It Alone" a acapella and it all changed -- and my shyness disappeared. Then we got into the calls. 

The first guy called and talked about a play he had just written about AIDS in Zaire. He began describing it scene by scene in a completely unidentifiable accent. Christopher looked at me as if to signal I should say something and I just shrugged. I didn't know what the hell this guy was talking about. So, I cut in and said something about fake cures and "Somebody's Friend" but it didn't seem to stop him. So, Finally I make one other comment and thanked him for calling, at which point Christopher cut to another caller. 

(Martha, who is in town from Cincy and who was listening, came up to me at the Friday concert and said with a cocked eyebrow, "You're good.") :-) 

It took a turn toward greatness though when Zeev Neuwirth called. Zeev is a doctor as Lennox Hill Hospital who specializes in doctor/patient relationships. He described having seen TLS and that he brought the cast to Lennox Hill to sing for the staff there. And he further stated that every doctor and nurse in the country needed to see TLS at least three or four times so they could understand themselves what it feels like to be a patient. 

Another caller asked me about the gay/Christian thing and we talked about me going to sing in a Southern Baptist Church in two weeks. (Up here, the south is so foreign I might as well have told them I was going to appear before the Chinese Communist Central Committee to protest for democracy and freedom of speech). 

One lady said she had a chatroom where a particularly virulent conservative is constantly bashing them about homosexuality and she asked me how to handle it. I think I kinda fumfered around but mostly I told her to always begin with the assumption that this is a good person wanting to do good and to never argue scripture. Better to agree to disagree and then find common ground on how we treat each other. 

I could see Christopher begin to come alive here. He was very interested in the message of peace I was trying to bring. 

Finally, a call came in from a man standing at a payphone who said his lover had "survived" AIDS only to come down with lymphoma -- and that he felt helpless and despondent asking me for advice. 

Of course, my heart sank immediately and I could feel my "spirit" wanting to reach across through the phonelines to connect with the sweet voice to give comfort. There was so much pain in his words, I told him to give himself permission to let loose the emotions that are bottled up. 

I said, "Give yourself permission to be mad at the disease, mad at him for being sick, mad at God..." And I recounted day Jimmy and I were driving and he said to me, "I'm so angry at you for being sick!" and how I just laid my head on his shoulder and said, "Me too." 

And by that time, the radio program was over. John Amodeo had them play "Save Me A Seat" as they closed out the hour and Christopher came up to me and said, "I think I'd love to come see you do this show. Is it sold out?" 

Friday Night
Well, the CCAE was immediately flooded with phone calls. That show, along with a big article that had just come out in the Boston Globe and a New England journal called "Bay Windows" -- and several other radio appearances was the knock-out punch they needed. Will McMillan, who was producing the CCAE shows, said it was the biggest press they had ever gotten. 

The room was full that night and I performed my "one man TLS" show. Since I hadn't done it in awhile and since I hadn't seen the show in a month, I got lost a couple of times but the audience was absolutely forgiving. I saw some old friends and got some great hugs, especially from Martha and Gary who were in town visiting their daughter. 

Saturday morning, Will and John took me to WERS 88.9 at Emerson College for a radio program called "Standing Room Only." It's a station run by students and the host, Zac Lasher -- with co-host John & techy person April -- made me feel like Sondheim. "We've never had an actual composer on our show before," they said. 

I told them how I was just a songwriter until I wrote a show and that now I was a (affecting a snotty tone of voice) "composer/lyricist." (They laughed). And this is why I love young people. They like it when you make jokes about yourself and show them that they are just as "good" as you are. (I can't stand snobs). 

Zac recounted how they try to get to NY as often as possible to hit the TKTS line and look for off-Broadway shows no one else has seen. He said (on the air) that they had narrowed their choices down to two: CLUE the Musical and THE LAST SESSION and that they were so glad they picked TLS. 

I told him how someone in the Boston area had written me way back then saying, "Hey! Boston is playing your songs on the radio. They play them all the time!!" And I thanked him for giving us such great promotion. 

We rollicked and laughed and had tons of fun talking about TLS and the music. I think the appearance on their show is my favorite one I've done Ever. They were sweet and they knew the show. 

Saturday Afternoon
Just like last year, I conducted a songwriter workshop in the afternoon for aspiring songwriters who were encouraged to bring a tape of a song, after which I would talk about the song and give some critique and advice. 

There were about 12 of us in a circle and I was getting to know them when I noticed two seniors sitting there listening. "Are you songwriters?" I asked. 

"No, we just heard you on 'Connections' yesterday but we live over an hour away and the night concerts are too late for us so we heard you were doing this and wanted to just be wherever you were." 

I looked at them like they were crazy. "You're not songwriters? You just wanted to be here because of what I said on the radio??" 

They looked at each other and then at me and said, "Yes." 

"Well. Okay. Uh... welcome," I said to them thoroughly stunned that they had driven all that way to just to be near me. 

(I had earlier this month made jokes about wanting to "conquer Boston" but this was out of control. I was beginning to feel like the Pied Piper.) Anyway, I was thrilled that Barbara Baig had come back again. I met her at the last workshop last year -- a woman suffering with health problems. And the song she presented this year was every bit as affecting as anything I ever wrote. I took a tape of it and told her I might want to learn it myself. 

Saturday Night
I am taking a big breath here, reader. I know I'm prone to hyperbole and so you've probably learned to take much of what I say with a grain of salt. But put away your salt shaker when I tell you about this night. Nothing I can say to you can possibly rise bring the magic and the glory of what happened at the tiny little CCAE space. So, let's start with a description. 

The room which at maximum capacity can hold about 60 people is only slightly longer than it is wide, so we were all in there on top of each other. The stage is on the end and raised about a foot and a half above the audience level. On the stage was a grand piano which totally dominated the stage area with only a few feet of space on either side. 

In the crook of the piano, which was perfectly in tune, I placed my show jacket (on a stool) with the TLS logo facing the audience-- its gorgeous yellow, blue and red threads shining in the lights we had trained upon it. The room, as I said, seats 60 comfortably, but 80 people showed up this night. Will had chairs crammed everywhere and people were lined up along the back wall. 

Just behind me on the stage, blessedly, was a window I could open to keep the room cool, the curtain fluttering softly in the breeze. And behind up over my head was a single white light to give a little back light and depth. 

I was upstairs pacing like mad, putting on my outfit, midnight blue suit pants with dark blue shirt and softly colored tie. They had some fruit and stuff for me but I just go nuts waiting for the clock to tick down to "curtain." I was also a bit frustrated because I couldn't get the phone lines in Will's office to let me online. So, all this was happening and I couldn't write about it or find out what people had said about the show the night before. 

Finally, feeling too much like a penned-up animal, I walked downstairs and waited near the booth outside. Will was playing the cast album for the people in the room and it all felt very friendly and warm. But I was antsy and wanting to get started. 

Finally, Will got up and introduced me and I entered from the back walking through the audience which applauded VERY enthusiastically. I caught some faces I knew, Linda George and Emily, Blythe and Dan, little Mark from Texas (and ten school friends) who was now living two hours from there, Nana from my online HIV group and many many strangers. 

The Intro
The first thing I did was ask Will to cut the front lights because I just wanted to get us all in the mood with some music utilizing that wonderful piano. So, he reduced the stage light to the one back light and I played my "Liszt" version of "Save Me A Seat." (It doesn't really sound like Liszt but I treat it like it's a classical piece with a big closing flourish). 

Then I briefly described for them my journey, the AIDS, the hospitals, the shots in the stomach, the diary and the writing of the songs and how Jimmy found them pumping new life into me as I wrote and played them. And I told them I was going to now present a "one man version" of TLS. I said, "Imagine Frank Loesser having just finished 'Guys and Dolls' and you all are a bunch of fatcat theater investors." 

The Show...
"We open in the dark where we hear the voice of Gideon..." and I was off into the show. The combination of the great sounding piano, wonderful acoustics and the warm audience was totally invigorating. I didn't miss a trick. Every plot point and punch line went across like gangbusters. The audience was laughing and crying and stunned into silence (at all the Right moments, I should add). 

One of the advantages of doing the show this way is I can stop for commentary. For instance, I am able to, after presenting "Buddy" singing "Going It Alone," describe how my old fundamentalist preacher friend used to tell me how gay people are not capable of truly loving each other, that we are only motivated by an out of control sexual urge. 

But that how Buddy, upon singing this song, is stunned to the foundations of his belief system because he Knows what love is and this song expresses True love. That simple realization goes against everything he has ever been told about gay people and by the time the song is over, he is an emotional wreck. 

At the end of TLS, there is a moment where Buddy asks to pray over Gideon. I told them that one time Joey Traywick (who plays the role of Buddy in L.A.) told me what is going through his/Buddy's mind at this moment. As he hesitates before placing his hand on Gideon's head, he begins to weep with the inner thought, "I'm not worthy to pray this prayer." 

Well, reader, even I could not hold back my own emotions relating this story. Choking back tears I paused with one hand raised toward God and on the other where Gideon's head would be -- and just held the moment, finally breaking it with Vicki's legendary "Nom yoho renge kyo..." to great laughter and relief from the audience. 

After "When You Care," I even got a sweet chuckle of recognition when I ended with, "And from the booth we hear Jim say, 'That's a wrap.'" 

...A brief pause for everyone to take it all in and then the place came unglued. They leapt out of their seats and I took my bows exiting the room. But they wouldn't stop so I went back up and took some more bows, realizing they were not about to let me out of there. 

So, I invited Will back up and asked him to sing "Going It Alone," asking him to take the lead while I sang the Gideon back-up. Once again, the audience praised him with a huge ovation. Then Will made a few comments about the fundraiser the following night, encouraging everyone to try to make it. Then, he asked me in front of everyone if I would play "Simple Faith" which he had heard me practicing during the off hours. 

I complained that it wasn't really FINISHED finished but never one to say no to anyone, I pulled out my notebook, put my glasses back on my face and sang "A Simple Faith." And once again the audience just went nuts. 

After that, a girl's voice shouted out for me to sing "One New Hell" from the Bonus Round CD. (Later, I found out it was Jess, my little 16 year old reader whose mother drove her 4 hours to be at this show). 

It was great to meet them after the show. I don't know why, but I wasn't prepared for Jess to be as physically beautiful as she was. And she was also very shy. I had to fight for her to just look me in the eye. 

I know it might sound strange to outsiders, but I do take a very personal and proprietary attitude towards my readers. The diary is huge and it takes a lot of time and energy to get through it, but when people write me and we talk about the moments and become cyber friends, we strike up an almost intimate relationship. I feel as if I know them and they as if they know me. It's not "showbiz," you know? It's a relationship that I feel just as strongly about as they do, even though they are usually very shy at first. I am saying all this because I do want you, reader, to feel free to hug me and ... OH! 

That's what I forgot to tell you. After "One New Hell" I allowed for questions and "testimonies" from the audience. I asked how many had come because of the radio programs. About half raised their hands. I asked them if they were happy they came and got a collective HUGE "YES." 

We talked about religion and music and my health and they spoke about the effect of what they had just heard, begging us to bring TLS to Boston. I told them I couldn't produce it myself but if they knew someone who wanted to produce it, I'd happily allow such a thing to occur. 

And finally, I told them I would be standing at the door and that I would love to just give everyone a big hug on their way home. 

And one by one, they filed out. Some in tears, some needing big loving hugs, some wanting just to say a word about a family member or friend, some vowing to contact every theatre producer they knew, and some just grabbing my hand and thanking me for a wonderful evening of theatre. 

After I got back to my dressing room, I was invigorated but starting to crash and it was time for meds. So, Will brought me some peanut butter and crackers and Diet Coke and I downed the "peppermint gasoline" (Norvir) and the rest of my meds and went back to where I was staying and drifted off into the most peaceful sleep of my whole life. 

From Lance
November 8, 1998

Saw you in Cambridge Saturday night at Linda George's insistence, and boy howdy! am I glad for that. You really blew me away. How is it that we Southern boys are born with such animated faces? I couldn't stop watching you and loving the way you just charmed and charmed us all night. And that's without even mentioning how fine-tuned your pop sensibilities are. In particular, the military- cadenced medley is just brilliant. Looking forward to the Boston premiere of the full-fledged musical...

From Ann
November 10, 1998
Talkin' Broadway Board

I had the extreme pleasure today of meeting Steve Schalchlin and hearing him sing a few of his wonderful songs. Steve wound up the conference for the Mid Atlantic College Health Association. The audience was greatly touched by Steve's presentation and I'm sure carried away new insite in patient / doctor relationships. Great songs, great voice, great guy (such energy!).

I am not a member of MACHA nor do I play one on TV. I attended only Steve's performance, but I'm grateful to the MACHA for bringing him to my city.

November 11, 1998

Boston Sunday Night
The two concerts in Harvard Square at the little CCAE were intimate and small. We could hear each other breathing in that tiny room so filled to capacity. But Sunday night was another proposition altogether.

It was at a big fancy hotel, the Tremont downtown and the crowd was paying $35-$50 to be there in support of a Christmas Gift Basket program for PWAs. All the performers and producers and tech people were donating their time to the cause so it was a big lovefest from the get-go. Three performers in Act One followed by an intermission and then I was to be the headliner with three back-up singers who had learned the parts our actor's sing in the show.

As people filed into the lobby where the cocktail reception was being held, the other performers were in the dressing room getting ready while I, of course, was out there with the patrons hanging out (once again going against all the "rules" that I must stay mysterious and inaccessible in order to be perceived as some kind of bigshot composer).

(In fact, during the act break I actually sat down at the piano and played cocktail music just to be more of a maniac about not following the rules. I wonder how many people knew the cocktail pianist would soon be the headliner on the show? I have WAAAAY too much fun in this life, you know).

Anyway, the first act consisted of three excellent artists including a section of a new musical done by four women dressed up like a 50's girl group. They were all well received. Then they took the break which I just described for you.

We all gathered back into the big room when all of a sudden it felt like the Pittsburgh Steelers were marching next door, shaking the walls and pounding with jackhammer intensity.

The producer, John Amodeo who is a very sweet man, ran up to me and said, "Uh, they didn't warn us but there's this huge rock club next door and they just opened. I'm afraid you'll have to play with the noise going on." He also said the hotel did not warn them about this.

My heart sank like a badly tied lead weight in an East Texas lake. What could I do? Pitch a fit? Get pissed? Here all these other acts had been allowed to work in perfect peace and tranquility and suddenly I had to compete with the Third Reich.

I just smiled and said, "No problem." But inwardly my mind was racing trying to figure out how I was going to compete with General Tang banging on the walls next door. I think what hurt the most was how much I love the quiet moments in these songs and how these moment were wrecked.

"Let's go," I said. "Let's just do it."

I started with "Somebody's Friend," singing it myself with Bobbie, Wil and Merle joining in on the harmonies. Since the stage had great lighting and the audience was below me, I couldn't see much beyond the frst few tables, but Nana was there looking like the queen of England all dressed in black with that warm crinkly smile.

We then did "Preacher and the Nurse" with Merle, a gorgeious young woman singing the lead and we totally kicked ass, although the pounding bass coming through the walls threw my tempo somewhat. Then we proceeded with "The Group" and "Going It Alone."

"At Least I Know What's Killing Me" got a huge ovation, as did "Friendly Fire," and "Connected." Then for a final number, we brought out all the other singers to join us for "When You Care." They had learned the choir parts so we sounded like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was just glorious.

The crowd lept to its feet and provided us with a massive standing ovation, so I grabbed the others and we took a few bows all the way across the stage and made our exit.

But the audience refused to leave. They stayed on their feet and kept shouting and applauding.

And this is whre I always feel at a losss. Even though I've sung all my life, I still do not consider myself anything more than a sonwriter, not an entertainer. I still don't know how to take bows or how to do encores. I just kinda stand there zoned out and wondering what all the hoopla is about and what I'm supposed to do.

So I went onstage and bowed again and finally choked out, "Want me to do another one?" (But I had nothing planned or even in mind.) I mentally reviewed my options and realized I hadn't sung "Save Me A Seat" but that just seemed too much of a downer for a big glitzy show like this. Then it hit me. "Singer and the Song," a number I hardly ever perform.

"Okay, "I said sitting down. "This is a song which comes at the end of the show and it's sung by Tryshia to the lead character of Gideon to convince him to not commit suicide. He's the godfather of her gay son who had been beaten up and gideon means a great deal to her. She begins by coming over to the keyboard and placing her hand on it, playing this one note..."

...and I began the song. And even with the cacophony of the pounding disco, the simplicity of "Singer" overtook me and the audience and by the time I was singing, "You are the preacher..." I was practically in tears and the audience was in tears and the ovation they paid me was even bigger than before.

I exited the stage after some more bows and they just went on and on and on. I think I took one more bow before they finally raised the lights and it was all over, but MAN I just get so embarrassed by this much praise. I don't know what to do with it.

But I do know the oldest rule in show biz: Leave 'em wanting more. And the very next day, I got an invitation to appear back in Boston at another university in February. I hope I'm not already booked.

For me, the whole point of this is to raise a hue and cry for a Boston production of TLS. I hope word will leak out to the theatre community so they'll come and see the L.A., production and bring the show into their town.

Postscript to Boston
A few things I forgot to mention. My old friend Char, who has been suffering with cancer for the last year -- I got to see her and spend time with her, hugging and crying. She began her Friendly Fire assault about a year ago and it didn't completely work. Now her poor body is exhausted and tired, but I thanked her for continuing to report to all of us who are her friends and to share the good and the bad.

It's a real act of generosity, I have learned, when someone close to us shares their sicknesses and keeps us informed. I learned it by doing my diary and realized how hard it is on friends and relations to be faced with silence. It's hard to not imagine the worst.

The Critic
The last thing happened on the Saturday night. It was during Positoid Hug moment after the show. A little woman ran up to me and grabbed me and said, "Can I have a hug, too, even though I'm a critic?"


So, look out for a review in the Boston Phoenix. I have never had my solo act reviewed before, so who knows what we will read... 

(meanwhile, back at the ranch)
From Lori
November 6, 1998

So, the request was a simple one.   Pick up Bob and Amy at the airport.  Easy
enough, right?  Well, apparently not.

So, Michael Alden, one of the producers and a total sweetheart says, "hey, why don't the RENTheads pick up Bob and Amy?  It'll be a surprise, with posters and pictures and fanfare.  It'll be great!"  So we say, "sure!" because it sounded great, and we were sure we could handle it, and it was Bob and Amy we were talking about here.  We love them :)  We had it all figured out, posters were made, schedules were worked out, all was well.

Until it was time to actually pull it off.   First, someone tells Bob what is going on.   Ugh. So, no surprise.   But we have it covered when someone (I'm thinking it was Mandy) has the idea to have someone at the gate with a sign saying "Coleman and Stillman" as if a driver had been sent instead, with all of us waiting out of sight.  Then the time table was set.  We leave the office at a little after 1, giving us plenty of time for the 2:56 arrival time.

Well, here is where things go bad quickly.   first, Mandy has to pick up the "driver" so she'll just meet us at the rendezvous point.  Fine.  Then Lindsey and Stacey are running a little late, but that's ok, they can meet us at the rendezvous as well.  then there are things that just had to be taken care of for the office on the way to the airport.  Fine, Karen and I can still do it and be at the rendezvous point only a little late.

So, a call to the office to make sure all is well there finds Lindsey, Stacey, and Amber there instead of on their way to the airport.  Odd.  Well, it seems that the combination of their tardiness with the chaos at the office meant they would stay there and work instead of being on the welcoming committee.

So instead of 9 we are now 6.  but that's ok.....

So, jump ahead to 2:30 at the rendezvous point, which was actually Carl's Jr near the airport.  We're half an hour behind schedule, but it's all good.

First mistake, thinking we could quickly order sustenance at Carl's Jr.  No. Not only are Carl's Jr employees lame and slow in general, but obviously only the really pathetic ones can work at this particular establishment.  But, not to fear, we still had plenty of time.

So, we arrive at the airport at 2:45 with 11 minutes to spare.  Of course, the arrivals board says "on time" so we rush past the baggage claim to the security checkpoint where 3 of us have to be checked by the female guard person because we kept making the damn alarm go off.  Then we run to the gate, the absolute farthest gate, and the flight crew is exiting the plane.  This is not good news to us.

We turn around and run back to the baggage claim, posters flying, old ladies and small children being mowed down.  It was not pretty.  And, just an observation, is it really appropriate for the slacker airport employees to put wheelchairs on the moving walkways?  How is one suppose to "stand to the right, walk (or run) to the left" if there is a damn wheel chair there?  Whatever.

So, we send our "driver" sprinting ahead to catch the two before they see us.  Well, they completely bypassed her, and then we hear Bob say "Carol?"  LOL.  Our plan has gone completely awry.  Such is life.

So, they both looked great, and were so very happy to be in LA.  We managed to get their 400 pounds of luggage, guitar, and dog all out the cars with only one minor mishap :::coughkarencough:::  and we were off! ---to sit in traffic.

Bad traffic.  the kind that reminds you why living in LA can really really suck sometimes.  But it gave us plenty of time to talk to Bob and pet tyler, the greatest dog ever :)  Karen and I made sure Bob understood that now that he's living in LA he must immediately get a cell phone and pager and begin to use "so" and "it's all about" in any and all conversations he has.  We'll make a west coast guy out of him yet. 

November 9, 1998
Playbill Online announces L.A. Engagement

L.A. Laguna Last Session Moves to Tiffany, Opens December 5th

November 9:
Los Angeles

Bob, Joey, Amy, Maisey and P.M. are performing November 9th at a champagne/buffet/screening of last year's GLAAD Media Awards, given by the Los Angeles Theatre Nominations Subcommittee for the media and theatre people.

November 11, 1998
Auditions are being held in Austin!

Playbill Online

Friday the 13th

(:-0) Bob, Joey, Amy, Maisey and P.M. are performing at the Wilshire Theater,  8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, at 8:00 p.m. This is a Jewish Sabbath Service - no charge.  Call 310-858-1100 for more information.


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