Thursday, March 22, 2012


I have a tendency to talk things up. What can I say? I’m invested in things, places, and people I love, and I want everyone to share that joy with me. 
Sometimes I worry though; the last thing I want to do is build something up too much, bringing opportunities to let people down when they themselves finally get to experience whatever/whomever I rave of for their first time. 
Now, though... Here’s a show to talk about.
Mom and I got to see “Once the Musical” during its New York Theatre Workshop run. Absolutely and utterly magical. One of those theatrical experiences where I became alive within the story’s creation, validity, message, and dignified presence. Just tears, so many tears streaming down my face at the end of this musical. I was fearful of its final moment, heart-broken as they took their bows, because it meant I had to leave this gorgeous experience behind. 
Then, a few months later, this little show that could strides valiantly to the Great White Way. 

A story about a boy and a girl who meet and change lives; a story of two people meeting and learning together how to face their fears. 
We all love Broadway for its lavishness, the grand theaters, booming orchestrations, affected stage design, the $5 water bottles... But this story doesn’t amount to those extremes when you first think of it’s grounding, finer meaning. Yet, it obviously deserves to be there, more really than so much of Broadway nowadays. Broadway is now commercially consumed by the “effects”. 
Where did the story go? Where did the theatrical intent of sharing a story go? 
It all came back with “Once”. 
Last night, I got to sit in on one of my most magical theatre experiences for a second time with my great friends Emily and Christy, both of whom I amped up this production to. At intermission, I turned to silenced Emily: 
“What do you think Em?” 
“I love it. I was worried because I had heard so many wonderful things, afraid of being let down. But this is stunning.”
Where a balanced and driven story falls, complete and invested characters spawn. Through the dialogue savvy book, riddled with these effervescent people, music so inspiring and emotion-jolting carries the audience through a sea of journeys, including their very own. As an audience member, you’re there with the characters while also unable to keep from reflecting upon your own life. 
Along with the music, the movement and dance of this piece was just mind-blowing. Serene, magical, innocent, masterful, pleasing: it was there to emote the unexplainable emotions from and for the audience. These emotions could only be drawn this way; no words could ever explain them properly. This same mentality easily goes along with the music itself. Each character plays at least one, if not a plethora of instruments (cello, guitar, mandolin, bass, drums, piano, violin, etc.), not only becoming the characters, but the grand musicians. It was so apparent the choices of which instruments to bring in and when in each piece of song. It’s something that can only be felt and explained through each moment of this production, being there amongst it all. 
Let’s talk a bit about restrictions... They are a wonderful tool for theatre, and “Once” took their own restrictions (whether they were chosen or thrust upon them) to not only run with them, but sprint. Holes were left in the technical aspects, taking projection, hydraulics, and computered effects far away from the production, allowing opportunities for actual theatre’s true magic to rise and fill in the gaps with ingenuity. 
Let theatre be theatre. That’s what “Once” has done; it has allowed the magic of theatre to be itself untainted, unharmed, untreated. Pure. 
This review encompasses everything I believe theatre should be, and that this show achieved for obviously not just me:
Every one of these characters has a voice. Every song has a purpose in this piece. Every movement is driving the complete idea of the story forward: 
Don’t... Rather never become stuck by fear. Push through. Even at those last moments where everything seems absolutely impossible, continue on. Even when that cloud of doubt and reasons why turning away from your goal, your dreams, your true intended life, aptly clouds your perception on how and which way to move forward, CONTINUE MOVING ON, TOWARD THAT WHICH SCARES YOU. And if that little shit comes back again, give it a big “Fuck You!” That’s all it deserves. (Please excuse my French...) 
It’s when we push past our fears we live, and to live is to love as “Once” illustrates for us. Live loving and lovingly. I mean, why wouldn’t you?
After getting a quick bite to eat after with the girls, we three walked towards the burning-eyeball lights of Times Square for our trek home. But on the way, who did we run into? Steve Kazee, the (dreamiest, and even dreamier in person) star of “Once”. We decided we had to say something, or as Emily took from the warning signs of the NYC Subway System: “If you see something, say something.” And Lord knows, we saw something great, so we had to express our thanks.
While it wasn’t the least awkward thing we’ve ever done, we were all so glad we did. Steve was so kind, a truly genuine soul. With congratulations beaming from our every pore, he went to add onto his gratitude to spread the word about their show. 
“We don’t have a Ricky Martin...”
“You don’t need one,” I said immediately. And it’s the honest truth, coming from someone who read cover to cover Ricky Martin’s autobiography...
Go see this show. If you don’t, well, then, we’ll have to discuss our friendship. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My California Adventure

The rectangularly gifted box danced in the corner of my eye all morning. Small boxes almost always bring excitement, thus knowingly I left it - “unknowingly” - till the end of our joyous Christmas morning. 
It came time. I reached for the final, tucked away, wrapped dream, hoping Santa had received my letter in his polar mailbox. 
Sure enough, he brought my dream present: Two red airplane ornaments, symbolizing round trip airfare to Los Angeles, California. 
Santa totally splurged on me this year, and I was so grateful. I had been talking for months about wanting to head out west for a visit. People have been telling me for year:
“You’d LOVE L.A.!” 
“It’s your kind of city Schuyler; it’s so colorful!”
“You just gotta go out there; you’re great for TV and film.” 
I wanted to check out this land of warmth, traffic and Hollywood. I mean, all these people I admired, respected, and loved were telling me that L.A. and I would hit it off.
Within the next month, my 12 day excursion to southern California was booked. 12 whole days. Pretty long, but I knew I wanted to truly be there, relaxed from the NYC hustled bustle, completely taking in this City of Angels. 
Part 1: 
Laguna Beach with Uncle John, Aunt Melissa, 
Cousins Jackson and Macy, and Old English Sheepdog Sophie.
Beauty. Just pure beauty. I mean, just look at the view from their porch... 

It was the perfect week with my mom’s brother’s family. The last time I saw them was the summer after my junior year at Middlebury. They were living in London at the time, and as I didn’t go abroad, I decided to head across the pond to not only explore London,  but enroll in dance dance classes, hang out with friends (new and old), and spend some quality time with family. 
I couldn’t wait to get back to everyone after having had such a fantastic time with them abroad. But now, we’d be by the beach! How perfect. And wow, February in southern California is quite amazing. Flowers blooming with spring breezes blowing; a great getaway from New York City’s present gray. Heading down to the beach, dolphins immediately break water’s surface right in front of us. At the tide pools we find giant, luminous orange and purple sea stars along crawly hermit crabs and stingless, grabbing sea anemones. All the while we’re in midst of gentle gusts from the expanse of the Pacific. 
Umm... Amazing. 
We went on walks through the desert hills with the kids and pup, visited the maine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center, stopped by the beach again (gotta grab a tan while I can), and took a trip down memory lane to Disneyland! Amidst all of this, I slept like a dead rock; let that twinkle in your imagination. I felt bad, falling asleep on the floor of the TV room (half carpet, half tile), passing out playing Moshi Monsters online with Macy (also known in the household as being “Moshi-ed to Death”), and napping like a crazy. 

I relaxed, letting the hectic seasons of NYC wash away in the flower illumined sun-rays. Peaced out. A true vacation, and my West Coast fam made it so special and exciting for me. I hate that they are so far away, but hopefully that much time won’t pass until I see them again. 

Part 2: 
Silverlake (and around) with Miss Cassidy Boyd and Friends
For the second half of my trip, I headed north to spend time with my best friend Middlebury, Cassidy. Cass lives in the swanky, hipster-ville, Williamsburg-esque area of Silverlake. I had a great time walking around her neighborhood while she was at work, venturing to fancy coffee shops, discovering yummy panini from the local cheese store (Yes, a store centered around cheese. I know, heavenly.), marveling at unique and exotic flower boutiques, sifting through the army surplus store of memorable expeditions, and exploring the nifty emporiums, filled with fun vintage nit-nacks alongside local 
artists’ purchasable greeting cards, journals, and prints. 
Such a fun area.
Kavin, who’s out in Cali now, made the trek to Silverlake to grab coffee, catch up, and bring me on an amazing tour through downtown, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, UCLA, and the active tar-pits (Uh, SO cool.). After our jam-packed day, Cassidy and I headed to meet our Midd friend Dave for dance class at The Sweat Spot. And Lord did I sweat! I haven’t had so much fun dancing in such a long time; danced so hard I was sore for two days after and gave myself blood blisters on the bottom of my big toes. Painful, but so worth it. After class, we met up with some other great friends - Jack, Max, and Luke - for a dive Mexican restaurant, then some fun dancing bars for the rest of the evening. The evening was buttoned up with the most delicious bacon wrapped hot dog, littered with peppers and onions. Deliciousness all over.
The next day, Cass and I got to head to her childhood home for brunch with her parents before they headed off for a weekend getaway. We spent the rest of the day hanging at the Boyd Manor; a splendid day poolside with pleasant conversation all the while. 
I was fortunate to see a bit of rehearsal for the play Cassidy is in now, written and directed by her high school friend, and now roommate, Tessa. It’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. One of those rehearsals that I felt like I had to hold back my guffawing laughs, because if I laughed at all the times I was urged to, I would have disrupted the rehearsal. The script is fantastic, the physical humor is pin-pointedly superior, and all the performances are just hysterical. So if you’re in the LA area in two weeks, you must see it. Hilariousness and literary genius bottled and sprung forth onto stage.
Along with this rehearsal, Luke invited Max and I to a rehearsal for the USC production of “City of Angels” that he is Assistant Directing. And who is the director? John Rubenstein, aka the original Pippin. It was so cool to watch this theatre legend, a man I grew up listening to, create such distinctive and ingenious pictures with such talented students.    
As if we could add anything else, Cassidy also brought me to the Observatory for the best view of the city. Even though hazy, the view was incredible. 

It was so great to be able to get a full concept of the city in relation to everything else. And see the iconic Hollywood sign so close. 

And I guess that brings me here, at LAX. As Cassidy dropped me off curbside, I retrieved the welling tears as I hugged her goodbye. I can’t explain how much this young lady means to me. From those first moments moving in as next-door-neighbors Freshman year, thinking this is the girl I was obviously going to marry (Yup.), to now, two adults on opposite ends of the country, pursuing dreams and living our mid-twenties. Looking back on where we’ve come, where we are, and where we’re heading, it’s simply incredible.

I love LA, but I’m excited to head back to my New York state of mind. I had a great time here, but I’m a NYC kind of guy. That doesn’t mean I can’t wait to come back to the West Coast. Hopefully it won’t be too long till I return to the chill minded, tropic desert beauty of southern California.
NYC, here I come. Get ready. 
I am so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends all around the country. Thank you to everyone for making my trip chuck full of wonderful memories.
And a big thank you to Santa. Thank you so much.
+++ An Epilogue, or Sharing of an Epiphany...+++
(aka, just one more thing.)
While at Boyd Manor, Cass wanted to watch my recording of “Braver. Stronger. Smarter.” I was nervous, as the last time I watched this video recording, I froze in fear. But this go-round, with time and best friend at my side, I was okay. All of a sudden, I found that drive I was waiting for time itself to create: the desire to revisit this piece and make some changes for a second draft. 
I can always count of Cassidy to give me wonderful, constructive, honest criticism. We found some great moments to refocus on as well as new ones to filter in for a cohesively balanced storyline and remembered/revealed/reworked purpose.
Through this, we also got to talking about goals. My goal was Broadway. Still is, but that can happen either tomorrow or in years. There need to be those smaller goals to reach and accomplish throughout my time in New York. We also saw, through our little chatzy, that what’s really exciting to me currently is creating. Thus, now is the time to find ways to support myself to do just that, create. I’ve started here and there, but now I can see now that it’s truly doable; it’s time to act. I do have something to say, and I’m gonna create it for others to hear.
I’m gonna do it. I can do it.