June 14, 2018

Columbia, South Carolina

And then it was time to leave on the second major road trip of the summer. This one didn’t cover as many miles, but had its share of interesting adventures.

Dateline: Columbia, South Carolina –

Well, I am off on part 2 of Andy tours America. The distances aren’t as great this time around as I am staying around the eastern seaboard so no 900 miles across the Texas plains or anything of that nature. The destination this time is New York City, where I plan to stay for a couple of weeks, catching up with a couple of folks and playing in the city. I should be in residence starting next Monday until roughly Monday the 2nd when I will start heading back south. This is all liable to change depending on mood and other vagaries.

I did not get moving this morning so i did not leave Birmingham until after one and have stopped in Columbia for the night. I am having breakfast tomorrow with my old Birmingham theatre partner in crime, Frank Thompson so we can catch up on various things, than I think I’m going to head for Charleston and the Carolina coast as I have never been there.

Today’s drive was uneventful and dull, other than navigating the usual Atlanta traffic and did not bring any specific stories to mind so I’ll go back to Sweeney Todd from the other night.

Sweeney opened on Broadway when I was a junior in high school, but I didn’t discover it until a couple of years later – I bought the double LP cast album for myself for Christmas my freshman year of college and immediately fell in love with the show and the score. I’ve seen a dozen or so productions including the original on tour, NYCO’s recreation of the original with Elaine Paige; Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski at the Kennedy Center; The Patti LuPone/George Hearn SF Concert on tape; The Emma Thompson Concert on tape; college productions; community productions and I’ve never seen it fail as long as it’s cast with actors who can sing the score. Sweeney is a bucket list role for me. I’m the right type and voice type but I’m realistic enough about my talent to know that I don’t have a powerful enough voice to ever actually do it – except in the shower where I have a killer Epiphany.

My favorite Sweeney memory comes from 1985. The Stanford University student musical theater group, Ram’s Head, did a production for their spring show (naturally the year after I graduated) but I was able to take some time off during my first year of medical school to go back to the Bay Area to see it My old friend Marc Fajer directed it and did some interesting things with the staging so that it was not the carbon copy of Hal Prince that so many productions are. Macall Dunahee Gordon was a wonderful Mrs. Lovett and Elizabeth Bryant was the beggar woman. I do not recall who played Sweeney. Anyway, my cousin, Jenny, who was in her senior year, was the costume designer for the production and I arrived to find her behind in finishing Mrs. Lovett’s second act dresses. We spent the better part of the day and evening sewing and hot gluing frills and furbelows as we caught up with each other. It’s just the kind of thing I would do with Tommy. He would be behind on wigs and all of a sudden I would find myself having to roll wigs with no talent or knowledge, but needs must.

Twenty years from now, I’m sure I’ll be sitting on a floor somewhere readying some last minute prop for some production to help somebody out. It’s what I do.

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