Steve's Fall 1998 Tour
Volume 1 Book 10 Part 5 of "Living In The Bonus Round"
The Online Diary of Steve Schalchlin

Part 5 - Pit Stop: Los Angeles and on to Michigan
(Postings culled from public discussion boards)

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

From Julie
Los Angeles
November 22, 1998

A bunch of us met at Carl's Jr. (on time) by LAX at 10am (cough) in order to be at the airport by the time Steve arrived from Denver on a 10:54am plane.  So after breakfast, here we are 6 crazy chicks with posters in tow that say "Welcome Home Steve" and "We missed You", headed to the airport and to The United terminal!

We kinda waited off in the middle of the crowd but after a while I wasn't gonna have any of that, I wanted to be right in front!!!!! Then we saw him and of course I screamed "STEVE" waving our signs. We were all so happy to see him! He was surprised! Yeah! Went off totally smooth, unlike other airport pickups in the past (coughcough) Hugs for everyone, that I for one, really missed and couldn't wait a moment longer for a ton of them.

After waiting FOREVER for the baggage claim and pitstop for food, we headed to the TIffany, where everyone else was (Jimmy, Ronda, and the cast). Steve was so happy to see everyone! It's so great to have you home, Steve! 

November 22, 1998

Here I was minding my own business, just another face in a long line of faces on a plane that was completely packed with crying babies and college students headed home for Thanksgiving. 

Just as I get to the end of the runway, I look up and it's like a mob scene from "Day of the Locust."  Then I hear a high-pitched screeeeeeeam, "STEEEEEEEEEEVE". I turn beet red and try to find an escape -- and all the other passengers are looking at me like, "What's THIS all about?" 

Then I get hundreds of hugs from all the Steve Posse. They take my bags and we pose for pictures and the yes, the baggage claim was 
ENDLESS (and I was late taking my meds which I now have to take with food). 

So we finally get the bags and head for McDonald's on Century Blvd. (which leads to a "Lori Moment" where she can't find a parking space but totally insults two older ladies getting into their car -- so they sit there just to annoy her. 

Inside, Mandy and Karen decide they want to taste my new med, liquid Norvir -- the dreaded peppermint gasoline -- and we all throught Karen was going to jump out the second floor window. 

I just said to them, "See what I have to endure just to stay alive for you people????" 

November 24, 1998

As soon as I got home, I was dragged down to the theatre where we were holding auditions for understudies for two days. 

Very tedious. 

Monday I finally got some time to relax. Took Dickie to a movie (Gods and Monsters) and slept a lot. 

Jimmy took the cast through a very unusual rehearsal. It was in Kim and Ronda's recording studio. He had them do the play but instead of sticking to the script they were told to just cut loose and say anything they wanted to in character. 

He even made them stay in character during the break and they came back in when Bob came back in. Joey told me it was one of the most powerful acting exercises he ever went through and that by the end of the day, they were all in tears. 

It was as if each character had permission to say what was REALLY on their minds. "You're an arrogant little jerk!" said Gideon to Buddy. And Vicki ragged on Buddy mercilessly through act one, provoking him and making him mad. 

They all became enraged, hilarious, mean, hurt and everything in between. Damn, if only I had had a camera... 

November 24, 1998

Gay bias rising among top students.

November 24, 1998

I just got a message on my machine from Dr. Peter telling me that my t-cells went from 400 down to 280 and that my t-cell percentage was also down. 

He also said my triglycerides were off the chart, skyhigh, and think maybe that might be the reason for the bad test results. 

Since going on protease inhibitors two and a half years ago, this is the first time my results have taken a downward plunge. Nothing to get excited about yet. These numbers can be deceptive and usually are. 

I'm just sayin'. 

This was the first test after beginning the new Norvir/Crix combo (which I didn't really want to do given the fact that the Crix alone was working just fine). He wants to see me again next week but I'm in Michigan. And anyway, what can he do? I'll see him week after next, but this kinda pisses me off. 

Just Thinking Out Loud
The Norvir liquid (the peppermint gasoline) is supposed to increase the bioavailability of Crixivan and he said to take 1/4 tsp. Twice a day with food. 

But I thought he said 1/2 tsp. So I've been taking too much. That's probably why my triglycerides were too high and that may be why my t-cell numbers were down. It might just be an anomaly in the test. You might recall that a couple of years ago, my viral load measured in the millions, but it was a bad test and the results were not correct. 

But I have lost some weight, too, as Ronda pointed out to me. So, perhaps these marathon tours are not such a good idea when I'm basically on my own. (As opposed to the Ohio tour where I will have Mama Martha taking care of me like a hawk). 

I am wondering, though, if perhaps I'm pushing myself too much. That my newfound strength is not as strong as I think it is and that I'm needing more bedtime to just be a patient. These are the thoughts going through my head. 

The real concern, to tell you the truth, is Rochester where I'll be on my own for 6 weeks without Jimmy feeding me. I know I made a commitment, but now I'm worrying that I'm not up to it. 

(Can you tell I hate having dents in my armor?) 

I'm not making any hasty decisions, but wanted to let you all in on the process. I'm not the only one weighing the ups and downs of being a Lazarus. One thing this has taught me: 

I'm not cured. And I don't want to go back into the hole of being sick all over again. Been there once and I ain't goin' back.

November 25

Steve, I think this message from Linda pretty much conveys what we're all thinking and feeling. 

" I KNOW you already know this, but maybe I'm just saying it for the sake of some who may not.  Blood tests can and often are, completely misleading. But the bottom line, Sparky, is that you MUST start blocking out some down time when you can rest and let yourself recoup a bit. After seeing all you were doing, I got worried. Living to the fullest is important, but acknowledging your limitations is, too. We need the Singer, we need the Song. Take care of yourself." 

November 27

Alrighty then, Steve's busy and trying to rest so I'm just going to keep updating.

There's a great new article up this week at Drama-Logue:  "Return of the Never-Say-Die Musical".

TLS-LA previews start Next Week!   The postcards look great! 

November 28, 1998

Here's a photo from Philly someone just posted on the net.

November 29, 1998
Detroit, Michigan

I had a pleasant flight into Detroit and was picked up at the airport -  staying with a couple of guys who live with one of the couple's mother. I slept in her bed and it was soft and cuddly. 

I had a nice brunch this morning with the board of directors of Friends Alliance, who is helping sponsor this whole World AIDS Day program. 

Then this afternoon I went to the church to rehearse with the Detriot Together Men's Chorus who will be singing with me this evening. It was fun hearing an all male version of the backup harmonies on "When You Care." 

Just like in Boston, the people I am now staying with -- I switched houses today -- know the music from TLS and it's been fun talking about the show and fielding questions about the music (who me? love to talk about myself? never!) 

And this afternoon I am going to take a nice nap. 

Anyway, gosh, I just hate being away from the production while all the hard work leading up to opening night is being done. And here I am out here being treated like a king, singing with choirs and eating at Denny's. 

Anyway, nap time. I feel pretty good. A bit tired from the trip -- this time out I'm really listening to my body and trying to get over my superman complex.

November 30, 1998
Detroit, Michigan

Last night I sang with the Detroit Together Men's Chorus. They opened the program wth a half hour of beautiful music, then we took a break and I did the second act, ending on "When You Care" (which they joined me on).  It was so beautiful that half way through the bridge I just stopped playing the piano and we finished the entire song a cappella! 

It was a little weird, though, earlier in the day, because the event was being held at a big theatre that used to show movies but now hosts theatre productions. Jay, my host, drove me over there for the rehearsal and when we went in, this Indian guy looked at us like we were nuts. "Where is the rehearsal for the men's chorus being held?" we asked. 

He didn't have a clue. 

Then we noticed that the big 60s-style theatre had two theatres. On the walls, were Indian posters of movies. Ah, they were showing movies from India there! This guy wasn't the keeper of the house, he was the ticket taker! 

We quickly realized the rehearsal was at a church nearby, so we packed up and went there. As we walked down the halls, I could hear the strains of "...language of the heart..." and I realized that they were learning the SECOND version of "When You Care" that's on the cast album, the one with the African American choir. COOL! 

I came into the room and the director quickly waved me over to the piano and I began the song. They entered on the third verse as usual and what a thrilling sound to hear it all in male voices. Like an orchestra made of cellos. 

That night, the organizers were disappointed in the small turnout -- guess I'm not even somewhat famous in Detroit -- but what worried me was that the the piano at the theatre was this tiny tiny spinet upright. I could have fit it into my back pocket. 

This meant that I didn't have the luxury of a big piano sound, plus one key stuck. It was going to be all about the voice and the lyrics. However, the PA system was kind of fragile. The microphone, everytime I said a "p" or a "b" would crack through the speakers like a lightning bolt. 

Okay, I thought, while I'm singing, I have to remember to not hit this particular note on the piano, I have to not articulate my "p"s and "b"s and I have to rely on the singing, not the playing. (It's not the worst thing in the world, but every precaution I have to take to make things articulate means I'm one step removed from the emotions of the songs because I have this whole drama playing out in my head while trying to remember the lyrics). 

No big deal. Singers do it all the time. The trick is to do it and have no one notice. 

I also met Linda -- yet another Linda in my life? -- this is the lady from Book One who found my page early on and began reading the lyrics to my songs out loud in the little poetry reading groups at the Detroit AIDS library. (I reminded her that she made me feel, back then, like a cult poet who wears turtlenecks and chin whiskers). 

Well, despite our modest audience, we had a grand time together and it just meant I could take more programs for souvenirs to give to the fans back in L.A. 

Today I am singing two performances for the local university. Wish me luck! 

December 2, 1998

I'm in Grand Rapids, Michigan lying in a bed at a big convention-style hotel. Back at home, the cast is posing with Barney and having fun with Jimmy and Aunt Michael and Dickie and Katie and the Steve Posse. As much as I would have loved to have experienced it, it's almost as much fun hearing all the different points of view.

Jimmy absolutely loves Katie. When he talks about her it sounds like he's talking about Thurber or Steinbeck. He went to great detail describing her green outfit and how beautiful and articulate she is.

You know, you guys are doing everything right. You're making miracles happen. We are sharing a dream that we cannot really describe, but we know it by how it makes us feel.

Now, I wouldn't tell anyone else in the world this, *as if* but my old friend Blythe Brown wrote me. We used to work at NAS years ago and she produced my Acoustic Underground concerts at the Troubadour. She and Dan came to see me in Boston when I sang there last month. Here's what she wrote:

"Your enthusiasum was so wonderful to see in Boston!  The mini show was fastinating and stimulating. When you were talking at the end about going to that church in ??? And trying to get your message across   (lets not judge each other, reach out and give a little hand to someone in need or hurting, etc.) I heard a woman behind me say..."This man is teaching something we all need to listen to.  This is the true message of Jesus."   An interesting observation...and true.

"Please take care of your health.   I love you.

Now you know why they call me "One Big Head."

I don't want you guys worrying about me too much. A little is okay. Means we're all in this together. At least I know what's killing me... blah blah blah.

I have two days of virtual quietude after three long days, so now when I get back to Los Angeles this weekend -- dramatically in time for the big opening night! -- I will be refreshed and full of energy and wit.

It's just dawned on me that I have lived here in Los Angeles long enough to have a history with it. I created things that had influence -- okay, only a little influence but influence nonetheless.

Anyway, I'm feeling good after having felt a bit tired and achy. This was exactly the right thing for me to be doing. If I was in Hollywood I'd be running all over town. But I can't wait to get home and I can't wait to see what Michael, Kim and Ronda (and Jimmy and everyone else) have wrought.

December 5, 1998

Before I tell you about Ann Arbor, I have some important things to announce with regard to the Bonus Round diary.

Here's the news: I need a break and I'm going to take one.

I guess part of my concern was a result of the unhappy blood test results last week and backbreaking schedule I put myself on.


I think I'm Superman, you know.

(I remember sitting around the kitchen table when we were subteens and I'd ask my mama and daddy, "If I pray hard enough, will God make me into Superboy?" I'd imagine myself using all my powers for good. I'd picture Benevolent Super Steve racing around the world fixing things and making things better. "Look at all the GOOD I could do!" I kept telling God in my endless plea for super powers. And He didn't do it.)

But, after I survived three bouts of the "deathly ill" phase of AIDS infection, it was like the shackles were loosed from my ankles. I had finally become Superman. I could walk across single rooms in a single stroll. I could stay strong all the way through a grocery shopping and not have to go out and sit in the car while Jimmy finished.

I had come to the point where I thought I could do everything. Back before we even had our first reading, Jimmy told everyone that if he let me, I'd take the show door to door, apartment by apartment. Coming back from the dead makes you anxious and in the Bonus Round, times speeds up (but the prizes are better).

So, as I've allowed the diary to reflect the changes in my life (thus begatting the concept of organizing months into "books" while the action is happening), I now announce that this is not just the end of Book Ten, but the end of Volume One of Living in the Bonus Round.

I'm stepping down from the diary.

For now, anyway. The Bonus Round diary will continue, but it will evolve.

Volume Two, Book One will start Saturday, Dec. 5th with (if all goes right) a live webcast of our opening night, complete with sections of the musical itself broadcast live. We think this is a first.

But it's appropriate, since the whole story of TLS is wrapped up in the internet and the diary.

(When Bob took over the role of Gideon, the first thing he got was a copy of Book One of the diary. An actor getting a ton of backstory and character history? -- he looked like I had given him a chest full of gold when I offered it to him. He sat right down and began reading).

(And when we went to New York -- total unknowns in the busiest Broadway season ever -- we scored a great NY Times story because of the diary alone.  Without it we would have been just another little faceless musical in a sea of faceless musicals.) BUT...


I will continue to write emails to the TLS list and post stuff on the discussion board. Gail (God bless 'er) has volunteered to post these things here into the new diary, along with random other emails and postings. In other words, the diary is now totally interactive, but we're using the dirt road of text to accomplish the task.

I will be easily accessible if you want to contact me. (If you are an industry professional, just send me an email although I should tell you that I am not making any decisions about anything with regard to the further use of my diary writings or music.)

Right now, the Los Angeles production is what I have to offer. That and the diary and the bootlegs videos of my solo concerts. (I allow full audio AND VIDEO taping of any concert solos and the "tapers" are allowed to make one copy to give to a friend. My next public personal appearance will be a New Years Eve concert down at the Tiffany).

Now, about Ann Arbor

I was a little unsure about my concert on Thursday night. The audience would be filled with people who've been sitting in HIV classes all day. They're tired and bored and would love to lie down, not sit up in those chairs in that room with the memory of the stiff chicken and rawhide green beans.

Anyway, on Thursday night I was anxious, because I only had 60 minutes till showtime and I needed to eat right at that very moment. I had missed eating earlier because I had been rehearsing with the women's choir in the big ballroom and I just forgot.

Anyway, I got into my suit and raced out the door and down the hallway from my room. I was thinking: Fast food. Just get it down and then you can eat something healthy later on. But I didn't have a car and I didn't want to run across the highway to the Burger King. Too dangerous.

I turned right into a long hall heading for the lobby. About halfway down the hall were big glass doors leading left into the convention area.  Opposite those doors they had set up a table for master conrol.

That's when I saw them. Standing in front of the master control table were four teenage girls asking questions and I hadn't seen them at the convention. It was like seeing long lost cousins. I knew them and they knew me.

They saw me coming from a distance. There were two beautiful girls, college age I think, with long light brown hair. Twins? Had to be. They were trailed by two other girls who I figured had been dragged along from their hesitant posture.

One of the twins came up and said, "Are you Steve Schalchlin? I'm sorry but I'm really shaking right now. We saw the show in New York and we loved it.  We can't believe you're singing in this podunk town!"

I told them to calm down and we exchanged big hugs. And my old cyber pal Paul was there, too. First time to meet him!

"You guys got a car? I need a Burger King."

They hesitated worrying that someone else would get the front row. But I assured them there was no rush for tickets and that I'd make sure they got the best seat in the house. Then we piled out of the hotel, into their truck, drove across the highway, and I was able to have my meal.

When we got back to the hotel, the Grand Rapids Womens Chorus (I think that was their official name) were rehearsing. We we all sat at a table in the back and listened to them while I ate. There were times when they had the delicacy of a boys choir; and then they'd shift gears and do a South African song complete with percussion. They were good.

During the singing, they whispered to me, "Are you gonna sing 'The Singer and the Song?'" Can you do "Shades of Blue?" (everyone who knows me knows that this is like blood to a Steve HamShark). And of course, I gave them my wittily elegant response, "I'll sing whatever you want me to. Don't be afraid to ask."

After they finished, I grabbed my little band of fans and brought them over to the piano which was set up in the center of the huge rectangular ballroom. This was kind of a compromise because we couldn't lift the piano onto the platform.

(The piano, by the way, was a gorgeous, bright sounding KAWAI. I just had them get me a stool, a spotlight, a decent sound system -- Bose, very nice -- and a great piano, the aformentioned KAWAI and we could make church -- er, I mean theatre. I also had them take out some of the big table and put a ring of chairs around the piano -- one row deep a the end and three rows deep on the sides.)

I sat the little group over on my right side right near the piano. Joining us were John's mom and my netfriends Peggy and Linda the Librarian. (Peggy is a librarian, too and this was the first time they met).

So first I sang "Shades of Blue" and when I got to the chorus I could see their eyes brighten up in the remembrance. (This song fragment was not included on the NY cast album because of monetary and time limitations.)

The thing that made this fun was that 1. I wanted to be singing at this time anyway not wanting to waste such a superb musical instrument. 2. The sound system was very nice and I could get down to a whisper on "Simple Faith," which is a very quiet song. It was fun just hearing it and imagining how I want the recording to sound.

The Show

The Womens Choir did an eclectic mix of international music written and arranged by women. They wore basic black dresses and then a scarf or vest over that in any color. It was an elegant and very strong personal image and their conducter Lori was friendly and shy while announcing each individual song.

Earlier that day, we rehearsed "Going It Alone" together. It would be eight members of the choir singing backup with three soloists each taking the other verses. Our first runthrough went smoothly except their solo mic (which was actually the piano mic) wasn't loud enough. So we fixed that and just ran the song a bunch of times getting used to hearing each other and getting the soloists used to singing their parts.

Anyway, after their half hour, we broke for ten minutes to set me up. As I said, my piano was sitting right in front of their little stage, dead center of the room. Around the piano was a ring of chairs about half full, and then around that were the big round banquet tables with chairs on one side facing me.

Not a huge crowd, proof that being "somewhat famous" is not exactly the highest rung on the showbiz ladder.

Before I even knew it, Herb Seamons who heads up an ecumenical organization in town called GRACE casually and jokingly introduces me as a "big celebrity"...

Herb Seamons played Mother to me while I was here, God bless 'im. He took me out at 11pm for my late night meds/feeding even though everything in Grand Rapids closes precisely at 10 or 10:30. The Holiday Inn we were staying at is out on a strip near the airport -- 28th Street -- which is a long, flat highway with big yuppie-level restaurant chains -- Denny's, Chili's, T.G.I. Fridays, etc. sprinkled liberally for several miles.


Anyway, back in the ballroom, we turn on the big spotlight and I felt like that movie poster of Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce framed in black with the single spot glaring white hot. But no cigarette.

It was very dramatic. Lighting is everything, you know. That and having a great instrument to play, of course.

I played an "introductory" version of the Bonus Round concert. Told the usual stories. Potsie, my old friend the evangelist yelling at me, the diary, etc. and went through them quickly, wasting as little time as possible.

Then, I signalled the women singers to come forward. They arranged themselves on the stage behind me, we reset the microphone and off we went into "When You Care." It was glorious! I should mention, too, that the chorus is busy preparing to two separate concerts, so the volunteers here really were doing this as a favor and because they wanted to.

After the show, it was a mob frenzy of autographs and hugs. I hadn't been able to see them due to the spotlight, so it was wonderful making physical contact afterwards. I confess it was a lovefest of epic proportions going both ways.

Knowing I had to wake early, I hung out with Herb and some of the others until after I had eaten my 11pm eats. (Turns out the bar has a kitchen that stays open til midnight. I coulda been eating right there all along. Oh, well. It was more fun cruising the highway and seeing the town.

This morning after, Herb drove me to the airport and we hung out just a little. But after I got on the plane, they said the fog was too heavy so we sat there for two hours. By the time we got into Chicago, I had missed my connection to Denver and then Burbank. So they put me on a non-stop to LAX.

There's no telling where my bags are going to end up. But I know where I'm going to be on Saturday night.

From Peggy
December 6, 1998

This was about Grand Rapids. :)  Not Ann Arbor.  You DO need some time off..... Herb HAD to take care of you! He had to answer to me if he didn't! 




The second chapter of The FULL MONTY has been posted under "Dickie's Personal HIV Theory".

Martha sent us this message.  Carolyn is a personal friend of Steve's, anything any of you can do to help would be wonderful.

PFLAG Family Needs Help

Dear Friends,

I am writing you informally as friends, as one individual to other individuals, with no reference to any organization.

A mutual friend of ours, Carolyn Wagner, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, is facing an extremely difficult time. Her husband, Bill, who is an optometrist at their local Walmart, has had a severe and debilitating heart attack. He continues in the coronary care unit of the Fayetteville Medical Center, where his prognosis is guarded and uncertain.

He has been the source of their family's support, since Carolyn is officially disabled and unable to be employed. Instead, she has worked tirelessly for human rights and for gay equality causes in her school, community, state, region and nation. She is a volunteer regional director for a national support group I am involved with for gays and their families.

You may remember the Wagners from news articles, or from a reception which was held in their honor following the PFLAG Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Sept. 12. They were recognized because of their courageous actions.

After their gay son, Willi, was harassed for several years in school and no relief was provided by teachers, administrators or the school district, they sued the Fayetteville School District. After heavy legal expenses, extensive litigation and long work with the U. S. Dept. of Education and U. S. Attorney General's office, a court found in their favor, requiring a safe school environment be provided for gay students under U. S. Title IX provisions. The case favorably affects lesbian, gay and bisexual students in every public school district in America.

For this monumental success, the Wagners paid a high price. They mortgaged their home and spent all available resources on legal fees and related costs. We are all beneficiaries of their immense sacrifice.

This is a time of need for the Wagners and an opportunity for us. With no income and virtually no resources remaining, they have still been too proud to ask for assistance. But we have discovered they need our immediate help, and need it badly.

I invite you to join Betty and me, Nancy and Joe McDonald, Kirsten and John Kingdon, and other friends, in sending to the Wagners whatever assistance you may be able to offer. I know of few more faithful allies or more worthy persons.

To receive the address to which you can send support, please contact John Lindner, PFLAG-Talk webmaster at

Sincerely yours,

Paul & Betty Beeman
Olympia, Washington

A Design Contest!

I've given Kibs the license to make "I got connected in the Bonus Round" sweatshirts with 15% to be donated to Youth Guard and he will keep the rest. But we need a design. White on black. Simple design the size of an 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch piece of paper. Winner will be determined by ME and they will get two tickets to TLS. Only 100 of these sweatshirts will be made.  Send me your designs!

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

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

November 11, 1998
Auditions are being held in Austin!

Playbill Online

Los Angeles
Opening Night!

Kids who want to get in on the lottery should be at the Tiffany at 6:30 on Saturday. There will be 9 front row tickets for opening night, and 4 tickets for the next ten performances drawn, which can be purchased for $15 each (and ALL the money goes to the Kids for Kids charity) The tickets will be drawn in pairs except for #9.  All you need to participate is a student ID!

Los Angeles
The Los Angeles production information is up on "The Last Session" site! 
[ Diary Index ]
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© 1996 - 2001 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.