I have been travelling up a storm. Last Friday, James and I noted that within 8 days, we had slept in Mykonos, then Athens, then Orange County in New York, followed by Rochester, NYC, and then Austin, Texas. Yowza! I was in Austin because I was asked to host a benefit for the Musician’s Treatment Foundation. My friend Dr. Alton Barron, who operated on James’ dislocated shoulder, co-founded the organization which provides free and low-cost hand and arm surgeries for musicians.
When a musician gets an injury, it’s often difficult for them to get surgery to fix it because so many musicians are uninsured. But if they don’t fix their injury, they can’t perform and therefore can’t make a living. Musicians Treatment Foundation works with Physicians For Musicians so arts workers can get career-saving surgery across the country. I’ve been injured and know what a nightmare it is. Around four years ago, I was getting of the subway and holding onto one of the poles inside the car. I started to walk forward while still holding onto the bar…and, suddenly, my bicep tore. Like, it literally wasn’t connected anymore!
I read up on it and the first thing I read that infuriated me was “Usually happens to men over 40.” #Rude. It also said I had to get surgery if I wanted full use of my arm again. FYI, I’m a pianist so I need full use of my arm. Well, thankfully, I had insurance (thank you, Playbill!) so I was able to get surgery at Mt. Sinai. But what if I didn’t have it? That’s a quandary countless musicians go through every day and why Musicians Treatment Foundation is so important. Right after surgery, I had to keep my left arm bent at my side but I also had to do a video with Matt Morrison promoting our upcoming concert. Watch how the whole time my arm is oddly bent with no explanation from me. Get more info and please support the Musicians Treatment Foundation here.
James and I loved being in Austin. We found a whole area of vegan restaurants which were delish! And we stayed at a great hotel right next to the bat bridge—which was the only infuriating part of the whole trip. If you don’t know, there is the Congress Street Bridge in Austin where over a million (literally) bats sleep during the day. When darkness comes, they all emerge. More than a million bats fly from under the bridge to begin their nocturnal rounds and it usually takes 45 minutes for them to emerge. Well, our hotel was right next to the bridge so we were so excited to see the spectacle. We walked over and got a great spot on the bridge.
It was still daylight and we waited for the sun to set. There were tons of people lined up on the bridge, on the sides, in boats and in kayaks. (James and I wore masks the whole time). Finally, the sun went down. We were so psyched to see the phenomenon! It got darker…and darker…and darker. We waited. And waited. James started to say that maybe it wouldn’t happen but I assured him it had to happen. I kept saying “It’s nature!” Finally, 90 minutes passed. Boats started leaving and people shuffled away. Let’s just say we definitely saw less the 1.5 million bats. We actually saw 9-10 bats. Yes, nine to ten random bats. THAT’S IT! Where were they? It was their night off? Where do I complain? Who is the store manager of the bats!!?!? INFURIATING! This is what I was expecting.
By the way, when I wrote “nine to ten bats” I was remembering flying from Mykonos to Athens: we were taking a small plane and we were in group three. We got there after people were boarding and the gate agent called “Groups 1 to 4!” We got on the line and when we got to the front, she told us it wasn’t our group yet. Huh? We told her we had heard “Groups 1 to 4.” Nope, she clarified. She had said “Groups 1…2… 4.” It was hilarious/crazy.
This week Rob McClure was on Stars in the House to talk about Mrs. Doubtfire coming back to Broadway. The musical had done only three previews and then everything shut down. He had gone through the out-of-town tryout and then the NY rehearsal and tech periods. I asked if he was dreading going through that long process again, but he said he was excited and he needed to build up his stamina. I knew there were little kids in the show and it will now be opening more than a year-and-a-half after it stopped on Broadway. I assumed the kids had outgrown their roles and (devastatingly) were replaced…but Rob said they’re all coming back!
He told us it would be crazy for a show which celebrates families to then get rid of members of its own family. I love it! The creators told him they’d change some of the language if they need to so the youngest kid doesn’t sound quite so young. Yes! I’m so glad they made that choice. It’s always devastating when a kid must leave a show. Back in the ‘80s, there was a Broadway musical called The Little Prince. After a few performances, they got rid of the kid playing the title role and gave his understudy the part. #trauma. Imagine how devastating that is to an adult and then imagine it happening as a kid. Fun sidenote: the understudy who got the gig? Anthony Rapp!
I just saw a post on a Broadway Facebook page asking what musical people wanted to see revived and someone posted A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine. I agree! I loved that show so much when I was in high school. I therefore thought I’d end the column with a deconstruction I did of one of the fabulous songs from that show. It’s sung by Priscilla Lopez who plays an usherette at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater (and won a Tony award for her performance). The music and lyrics are by Jerry Herman and it’s one of those fabulous story songs. Enjoy and peace out!