Yup. It's been over a month, almost two months, since I posted last. Frankly, not much has happened... I've been catering like a mad-man this holiday season which while tiring I am ever grateful for. I'm looking so forward to the upcoming months to refocus. This past month I have been adding to what I've been calling "The January/February List". These are all of the activities, tasks, and journeys I want to tackle while catering season is slow to further my artistic understanding and experience here in the city. Come the 1st of the month, my list will be posted in my room to check items off as they are achieved. I am looking so forward to a productive and artistically fulfilling January and February.
I thought I'd share my holiday letter with you all here. I am so grateful for everyone in my life this year who has made this (almost) first year in the city so special. Your presence in my life is so cherished, and I look forward to future fun, merriment, and joy together. Know that your love and support has made this year one of the most inspiring, productive, and creative years of my life. You all have helped me clear paths and open doors to uncharted destinies of possibilities for my life here.
I love you. Happy reading!
Happy Holidays from an “On the Road to Becoming a Real-Life New Yorker.” :-)
As I am getting closer and closer to my one year anniversary of moving from Guilford to the Big Apple (Valentine’s Day), I cannot believe how much has happened in such a short amount of time.
Now, has my concocted dream of life in New York City unfolded in grand splendor?
BUT, this dream-like reality that has come to fruition opened up so many doors to wonderful places in my heart. With this opening comes the amazing rekindling of friendships through the post-college/city-life, along with new friends from different worlds of the greatest city on Earth. The experiences created and made here have made this small year feel like three great big ones. Time is jam packed to the brim with activities, work, and ideas for the future. And I couldn’t be happier.
So... What’s happened? Let’s start from the top...
I performed my first cabaret, “Another Staged Experience” two more times, first up at Middlebury College for my professors and friends (while I was there choreographing their Winter Musical, “Urinetown”), and then back in Guilford as a part of the Congregational Church’s “Joyful Noise” series. This newfound love of sharing my stories and voice with others all of a sudden sparked thousands of new ideas for future cabarets.
For the months to follow, I was auditioning and catering to pay the bills. It’s said that an actor’s career is 90% auditioning and 10% performing. So, I was going to as many auditions as I could and sometimes waiting hours to be seen. I then landed my first show from a NYC audition! In April, I played Chip Tolentino in Westchester Sandbox Theater’s main-stage production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”. With a powerhouse cast to perform with, we brought the theater’s ticket sales to record heights. I had a ball belting high G’s and A’s with the opener of Act Two, “My Unfortunate Erection”. Priceless.
I had the opportunity of a lifetime to perform in a workshop of a brand new musical by Jay Alan Zimmerman entitled, “Smokin!” with the fantastic director, Anthony J. Cantalupo. Jay saw me perform at a benefit concert for mutual friends of ours, and a couple weeks later I was cast. I have always wanted to work on a piece at its ground level and this was the perfect experience to fulfill those specific dreams. It was a direct eye-line into the creative process of a musical theatre writer, proving not only educational but also artistically fulfilling on a completely different and incredible level.
After this, I headed back to The Ivoryton Playhouse at the end of June for their production of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers”, playing the delightfully playful and joyous role of Carmen Ghia. Just imagine me with a pompadour standing 4 inches tall while I flitzed around the stage with the flamer barometer bursting over 100%. It was pure joy to be a part of this masterpiece of musical theatre, plus with this role came my Equity Card! Aka, now I am in the actors’ union and receive benefits for performing (more audition opportunities as well as health care, pensions, etc.). It was a stupidly exciting show and I loved my time back in Ivoryton with friends and family coming from all over to join me for this monumental step forward in my career.
Then it was back to the city for more catering and auditioning. Alongside work, I started volunteering for Opening Act, an amazing non-profit here in the city that brings free after school theatre programs to the boroughs hardest hit schools. I’m now on their Social Board, helping organize events in order to raise awareness about these public schools with little to no funding for arts. Students at the end of each semester put on a show that they have written and created completely on their own with Teaching Artists' aid and support. The performances are some of the most inspiring works I have seen, and I am so lucky to be working with such a wonderful organization that puts the kids first above anything else. Be sure to check them out: http://www.openingactnewyork.org/
With no shows on the horizon and feeling stuck in a rut, I decided to put together a new cabaret for myself. I had recently taken a workshop called “Produce Your Own Work”, which is taught by Molly Pearson, one of the Executive Producers of the movie I worked on the summer before (which is now available! Check it out: “The Green”). Now equipped with a tool-belt of Producing 101 skills, I leapt into putting on my own New York City show. Friends and family helped out by donating to my Kickstarter.com account, which allowed me to fund not only the performance space, but also the fantastic work of my director, Martin Peacock, and accompanist, Shannon Collins. “Braver. Stronger. Smarter.”, a piece that chronicled my first love, my relationship with my father, and the auditioning world of commercial musical theatre debuted at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre down in the village this past October with the most amazing audiences of family and friends from High School, Middlebury, and New York. With a great response and a good review in Cabaret Scenes (the cabaret world’s magazine and online site), I saw something completely new within me: I feel the strongest onstage when I’m there with my own stories and voice.
Having this newfound joy bubbling inside me, my goal now is to bring autobiographical cabarets to high schools, colleges, and LGBT conferences to be that gay man I never had right in front of me, clearly being able to see that it truly does gets better. I’ve seen through storytelling and songs that people of all ages, backgrounds, and sexual orientation can be given light to see that what they have to give the world is a gift for everyone.
Since then, I’m back to (you guessed it) more auditioning and catering, leading me up to right now. As for 2012, I’ve learned that New York City will lead me in the right direction with my own dreams grounding me. Those dreams will be fulfilled in due time, and this amazing city, even though hard at times, is supporting me every step of the way.
Love to you,