Saturday, June 30, 2012

A View from the "Other Side"

When I left South Pacific it was not without some tough decisions, but I new that an opportunity had presented itself that I had to take!  I was asked to help teach the choreography to a show that I love, 'S WONDERFUL.  The director and choreographer from the piece were the same as the tour and I was thrilled to be able to come in and help set the show in a SUPER fast rehearsal process.  
In high school and college my biggest thrills and joys came while I was teaching, directing, or choreographing.  It's certainly something I see myself doing more of in the future, so to have this opportunity placed in my lap was HUGE.  It was so huge that I almost felt as though the creative team had made a mistake.  Of course my imagination went wild with visions of much more experienced actors looking at me and just laughing while I fumbled over myself and tried to teach the show.  I saw eyes rolling and scoffs and I knew I had gotten in over my head.  The fact of the matter was... I was terrified.  I have always said that when an opportunity comes and it's scary, you are in the right place.  I had to realize that I needed to take a dose of my own medicine.  Being timid, nervous, and not confident was only going to hurt me, so I sort of decided to "fake it till I make it."  
I worked non-stop to prepare myself for the job, picking apart each and every bit of the show, studying tape, shifting the show to work on a thrust stage, and trying to anticipate any and all problems.  When rehearsals began I was so nervous, but I was quickly put at ease.  The director was his excellent, jubilant self and the cast was incredibly receptive and welcoming.  I quickly realized that while these performers were more experienced and incredibly talented, they also respected me and wanted the best for the show and I think they immediately recognized that common goal.  We were all there for one reason: to tell the best story.  
For the first time professionally, I was able to work creatively and alongside the director, hearing his thought process and bouncing ideas off one another.  It was terribly exciting and energizing.  As I said earlier, the rehearsal process for this particular show was SUPER fast (7 days rehearsing and 2 days of tech/dress) and on our first day of tech rehearsals the choreographer came to see the show.  It was the most nervous I have ever been in a rehearsal.  Here I had just taught his choreography and he was there to see my work.  Well, the show sort of fell apart that day, as it usually does on the first day of tech.  It was somewhat in tact, but really... pretty rough.  I had such a mix of emotions.  The choreographer was gracious and gave me a few notes and helped clean some things, but I couldn't help but worry.  I knew in my head that it would all come back together, and it did by the time we opened.  My own insecurities were really what was plaguing me.  I eventually realized that my worries over what the choreographer thought were all in my head.  He knew that tech rehearsals are crazy and he's a smart guy; he could see the big picture and where things were going.  It was me that was short-sighted and couldn't see the forest for the trees.   I didn't need to worry about how the show looked in one rehearsal, it was how the story would be told for the next month, 8 shows/week.  My own pride and concerns were pushed aside and the work was completed.  In fact it was not just completed: it was excellent.  The show was quick and clean and wickedly witty and smart, just as the choreographer designed it to be.  It really was... 'S Wonderful.  
I'm sorry.  I had to.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Proud to be a Hampton Man

This may seem like an obligatory Father's Day post, but truly... it's not.  While I was writing my Mother's Day blog I couldn't help but continually think about how incredible and unique my dad is, too.  I have such amazing parents and I am excited that today I get to honor Berry.  My dad is an only child of an only child.  He grew up in a house about 10 miles from where he lives still today.  He went to college about an hour away.  His parents didn't raise him in the most abundantly loving environment.  All of these things could add up to a pretty closed-minded, tough character, but somehow my dad came out of all of that.  There's so much I want to write about.  He made me fall in love with the outdoors and he can make me laugh (sometimes AT him) like no one else.  Plus he does a pretty awesome karaoke rendition of "Mack the Knife."  But I can't cover it all.
When I was growing up one of the things I cherished was our family dinners.  Every single night we would gather around the table and eat together.  If our schedules were crazy it would sometimes mean eating at 9:00 at night, but that was ok because it was our time to check in with each other and eat gorgeous food.  My mother can follow a recipe like you wouldn't believe.  She hates to cook, though, and as soon as my parents had kids my dad started doing all the cooking.  If you have been to our home you know... he is ridiculous.  My dad could open a restaurant right now and be successful.  He cooks with love for sure.  When I come home after having been away working for a long time I have a list of Berry's best dishes that I request.  We're talking fried chicken in the cast iron skillet, ribs, fried green tomatoes... and FAMOUS mac 'n cheese.  From the time I was little he was always pushing us to try new things, experimenting, and whipping together new concoctions.  Honestly- I'm mad at him for it because it spoiled me!  I remember going to other kids' houses and having to eat these sad dinners.  One of my favorite things is being able to have my dad cook for my friends.  He's done major cookouts for multiple casts and people can hardly believe it!  He truly shares so much love through his cooking.  To this day he goes to the grocery store almost every day, tries new dishes, and cooks beautiful meals.  He's inspired his kids to do the same and don't you worry- I've already got an inheritance claim on his cast iron skillet!
My dad also has a great sense of style.  As a farm boy born and bred in Kentucky you may not expect it, but my dad knows what he's talking about with fashion.  Haha!  He worked for an upscale men's boutique for years as a buyer, traveling to New York and selling clothes in Louisville.  Growing up he insisted that we dress well.  I remember multiple mornings when I would come down dressed for school wearing my latest weird middle school trend.  "Go back upstairs," he would say.  I was allowed to come back down when I dressed better.  For my first school dance my dad went with me to buy a suit.  There was a nice sales lady and I was happy to have Dad there making sure everything was good.  As the saleswoman got out her measuring tape to do her first measurement my dad just spouted off a list of numbers.  When the saleswoman and I both looked at him confused he insisted that those were my measurements.  He listed them off again.  I was thoroughly confused as my dad had never measured me for anything.  The saleswoman insisted, "Oh!  That's great!  Well- I'll just double check then," but you could see in her eyes that she thought my dad was as crazy as I did.  She went to work, but it was no use.   My dad was spot on with those measurements!  My dad taught me to tie a perfect tie, bowtie, how to wear a pocket square, they beauty of white bucks, and the value in your favorite ratty t-shirt.  In college and even now, I have friends often say that I dress like a dad.  I tend to wear classic, preppy stuff.  I laugh because I am so proud of that.  I do dress like a dad; I dress like my dad.  Around our house it's become a little bit of a running joke because my dad and I own multiple items that are identical, but I couldn't ask to be merging styles with a better dressed dude.  
I love this cultured part of my dad because it is such an enigma.  He has always lived with a 15 mile radius of where he is now.  He hasn't really traveled out of the country, and yet he is stylish, a foodie, terribly smart, and can get along with anyone!  As a farm boy it's not necessarily surprising that Dad is a great gardener and landscaper.  He has such a green thumb!  But I always marveled at my dad growing up because to me it seemed he could answer any trivia question ever written.  To this day I dont' know how he knows the stuff he does.  It's like he studied some trivia book.  He loves doing crossword puzzles and watching Jeopardy.  He knows so much about history and other cultures, too.  It's amazing to me. When I picture my dad the first image that comes to mind is of him telling stories and laughing with people.  He has friends from all walks of life and has always loved getting to know my friends in theatre.  I think that's something I got from him, too: the ability to talk with people and tell stories.  It's what I get to do for a living now.  In the theatre my job is to tell stories.  I think it's important and beautiful and joyful and all of that comes from seeing my dad tell great stories.  
My mother is an accomplished musician and music teacher.  She is brilliant with what she does.  When people learn this they often jump to the obvious conclusion that I must get my artsy, dramatic sensibility from her: that natural theatricality that comes with being the son of an artist.  They are wrong, though.  My mother is a brilliant musician.  My father, however, is where I get my emotional, dramatic side from.  Dad has always been one to get... What shall we say... passionate?  My dad has always LOVED to tell a joke.  He loves to laugh and share that with people, but there is a key to his jokes.  One word: delivery.  My dad can deliver a joke like no one else.  He LOVES a good hyperbole.  He thrives on  detailed imagery.  And he LIVES for... a dramatic pause.  Every good story, joke, or prayer must have a dramatic pause.  Berry has perfected the dramatic pause, making sure it is placed at just the opportune time.  The more important the point, the bigger the pause.  Prayer pauses are the best, though.  You can drive a MAC truck through those suckers.  I love it.  
My father crying after opening his Christmas present... a television.
My dad also gets worked up over politics, religion, and other major, life-altering occurrences like movies, sports, and memories.  Have you ever seen anyone cry watching a basketball game?  Come to our house.  My dad loves to cry.  He knows it, too.  His favorite movies are a select few gems that trigger the water works.  They are as follows: "Return to Me", "Legends of the Fall", and the first half of "The Way We Were."  I can hear him now insisting I watch the latter.  "Look at this!  Watch this!  Watch when she brushes back Robert Redford's hair!"  Oh please!  If he hasn't had a good cry in a while he will just read a sappy romance novel to get it out.  He has no shame.  The most amazing part is that as much as I tease him, I am so grateful to have grown up around a man who taught me that it's ok to have emotions and to feel and to love, and get upset.  With Dad being an only child on a farm with tough parents he didn't have to come out embracing his emotions, but somehow he did.  
That fashion sense is wearing off!
As over-the-top as he is with he feelings, he is even more over-the-top with his love.  I am so lucky to have a dad that made sure to tell me how much he loved me every day.  I have heard my whole life that my father is proud of me and loves me.  It's a part of Christianity not everyone can understand.  The whole loving Father image of God is tough for a lot of people, but for me it's been a concept that has made sense from day one.  My dad showed me what a loving father can do.  Dads can look at you and tell you who you are.  They can determine your destiny in so many ways and when my dad looks at me and says, "You are so talented, you make me so proud, you are so loved,"... I am.  Just yesterday I overheard my dad telling his youngest grandson who is only a year and a half old, "Jonah- I love you.  I want that to be the first thing you hear in the morning and the last thing you hear at night.  I love you."  My dad always made sure that was what I heard every day.  Today I want this to be the first and last thing my father gets to hear.  "Dad- I love you.  Thanks for teaching me to love food, how to dress myself, how to tell a good story, and to be open with my love, anger, and joy.  I love you."

Friday, June 1, 2012


I have recently discovered a blog I love and this commencement address was posted.  I thought it was so delightful and excellent.  Neil Gaiman spoke to the University of the Arts 2012 graduates and said:

"People who know the rules know what is possible and what is impossible. You do not and you should not. The rules of what is possible and impossible were made by people who have not tested the bounds of possible by going beyond them - and you can."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Miraculous Thing About Miracles

I'm currently reading Tim Keller's book "The Reason for God."  Tim Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.  It is one of the largest congregations in the city and he is known for his excellent approach to Biblical truth.  Manhattanites love him for the way he comes at the Bible from an intellectual perspective.  The book is excellent.  I often compare it to the modern version of C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity" in that it is a reasoning for the Christian God, broken down by the doubts many intellectual seekers have.  The title of the book has garnered many questions from friends and even strangers on the subway.  Everyone seems to have a question or strong opinion about it without my even asking.  Haha!  One woman on the subway yesterday said to me, "If I were you I would just skip to the last page."  Ha!  
Anyway- Keller makes some really excellent remarks on many issues people have with the God of Christianity, but today I was really struck with his discussion of miracles.  He goes through the arguments of science conflicting with faith, etc. and then at the end of the chapter he says this:

"Jesus's miracles in particular were never magic tricks, designed only to impress and coerce.  You never see him say something like: 'See that tree over there?  Watch me make it burst into flames!'  Instead, he used miraculous power to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and raise the dead.  Why?  We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order.  The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it.  Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken.  His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power.  Jesus's miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming."

A redemptive, powerful God.  

Live rejoicing.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

For a mom who broke all the rules

Growing up the son of a conservative, Christian mother who was a teacher wasn't always easy.  My mother is a woman of strict morals, self-discipline, respect for authority, and high expectations.  She raised her kids to follow in those footsteps in many ways, but while growing up we also discovered from restrictions and constraints comes freedom, abandonment, and fierce love.  
My parents raised us in a home where you knew the rules.  We had chores without an allowance.  We knew words we weren't allowed to say unless we wanted to eat soap for dinner.  We knew what channels we were allowed to watch.  We knew our butts would be in a church pew every Sunday morning.  Our house was always clean; we made our beds and dusted our rooms.  As a music teacher, my mother required my sister and I to take piano and practice DAILY from 3rd grade until we graduated high school.  By middle school we were required to be making our lunches and doing our own laundry.  We couldn't see PG-13 movies until we were 13, and if we planned on driving a car once we got our drivers' license, we knew we would have to pay for it ourselves by getting a job.  Life could seem a bit regimented...but it never did.  
My mother always had a love and zest of life unlike other moms.  Other moms are sweet, kind and gentle.  My mom is all of that, but I more admire her wit, sarcasm, and spontaneity.  As an actor, I have had the privilege of stepping into different worlds on stage and telling stories.  My mom was the one who instilled in me the love of story-telling.  Some of my earliest memories are of her reading to me and convincing me to watch a new movie musical with her.  When I picture my mother in my head it is usually with my father and sister around the dinner table laughing at each other.  Our dinners were better entertainment than anything the television could provide.  She is an entertainer through and through, and most times... an even better audience member, laughing at me or my dad telling a crazy story.  My family loves louder, harder, and harsher than any other family I know.  
More into her Halloween costume than me or my sister
In elementary school we would be woken up by Mom and head downstairs where she would make us breakfast.  99% of the time it was a bowl of Cheerios or Crispix and then a "next."  She would ask, "What do you want for your next?" and we would proceed to have toast or a cinnamon roll or something.  One day she asked, "What do you want for your next?" and with my little kid humor I joked, "Ice Cream!"  Without missing a beat, my mom got out a bowl and scooped me out some cookies and cream, the breakfast of champions.  That was when I knew I had the coolest mom ever.  The next morning the request for ice cream didn't work.
As we cleaned the house every week, I remember BELTING out to the soundtrack of "The Big Chill" and to Billy Joel and Beach Boys albums.  My mother has always loved music and watching her love it taught me to love it in a very special way.  Forcing us to take piano was a monumental task.  No parent wants to argue every day with their kid to practice.  And no kid wants to practice learning an instrument every day.  No parent wants to have to hear "Tarantella" and "Flight of the Bumblebee" 7,000 times, each time with repeated mistakes.  My mother knew the secret, though, that my sister and I certainly didn't know.  She knew the joy and freedom that would come from the drudgery that is daily practice on the piano.  She knew the payoff would be worth it.
Me trying to keep up with Mom's mad skills.
My mom isn't like your mom.  She is such a night owl, you would never believe it.  As a teacher who has to get up in the mornings you would never expect it, but she loves late nights.  I know past 1:00 a.m. the only person I can call and expect to answer is my mother.  She's still got better things to do than sleep.  While I was at college, a number of times she would actually call, waking ME up!  It would be 2:00 in the morning and I had class the next day.  She didn't see the issue.  When I was little my mom always tucked us in and would be up for hours and hours later, but she also woke us up early in the morning, ready for work.  The rule of the house on Saturday was STRICT, though.  If you are up before noon, you better head downstairs and stay pretty quiet.  And whatever you do... do not even THINK about cracking open or sneaking through the door to my mom's bedroom.  Saturdays were no joke.  My mother slept in like a 22-year-old college student...and still does to this day.  
My mom instilled in us as kids the need for intentional fun.  Growing up we always had games to play and places to go.  One of our favorite days was the Donna Hampton original "Kid's Shopping Day."  We would have a big day of fun where my bookworm sister would get to go to Hawley-Cooke Booksellers to purchase a new treasure and I would pore over rocks and gems at the Nature Company.  To top it off we would head to downtown Louisville and go to Caufield's, a costume and novelty shop where my mother led us in finding the wackiest and most hideous masks, wigs, and hats.  You've never seen anyone rock a crazy hat better.  
When I bought my first car, a Jeep Wrangler, my mother was not happy.  She insisted it was dangerous, foolish, and not practical.  I bought it anyway.  When I brought it home I remember taking her for a ride in it for the first time with the top down.  We were driving on a back road and all of a sudden my mom begins to unbuckle her seatbelt.  She proceeded to stand all the way up while I was driving, head all the way above the windshield.  She raised her arms high in the air and shouted and laughed and screamed.  She wasn't happy I was driving that car, but she sure was happy she was riding in it.  A year later she bought herself a nice little convertible.  
When we got our new dog while I was in middle school I'll never forget my dad trying to convince my mother it was a good idea.  The dog wasn't well-trained, it shed everywhere, used our living room as its bathroom a couple times, and was disobedient.  While trying to find the perfect name for the dog, my conservative Christian mother insisted that we name the dog "Damnit."  That way we could say, "Come here, Damnit."  "Look what you did, Damnit."  We named the dog Sadie.  
Sneaking around backstage at one of my shows to get a go at those hats!
I remember my mom and I had a wild chase one Saturday morning in high school when we began fighting over who would get to eat the leftovers in a bowl of brownie batter.  We chased each other around the house in our pajamas, me running with the bowl in tight grip and her wielding the mixing spoon like a weapon.  The chase continued into the back yard, barefoot and laughing, but unrelenting... mom won.  In the same irreverent way, I remember my mom and dad arguing over a lost spatula in the kitchen.  Dad insisted mom had put it in a wrong spot and now it was lost.  My mother was viciously bitter.  After all, she did the dishes most nights and always put things back properly.  Upon discovering that, in fact, the spatula was sitting right in front of my dad, exactly where it should have been, my mom didn't gently point it out and move on.  She grabbed it and started spanking him with it until it cracked in half!  
Her favorite picture of us.  Okay- it's actually MY favorite picture of us.  
My mom breaks rules.  She HATES cooking.  When my dad would travel out of town for work or something she would maybe make a simple dish, but usually she used that time as an excuse to order pizza or chinese takeout.  She LOVES facebook and her facebook account is more active than mine.  She loves her kids like mad, but also loves to make fun of us, be sarcastic, and laugh at us.  Nothing is off limits with her.  When I need an ear she is there to listen to my frustrations, encourage me, knock me back to reality, and sometimes tell me the tough stuff I need to hear.  I am still learning from her every day.  She is incredibly successful in her work and continues to learn and grow and come up with new ideas.  She is loving and hardworking.  She is dedicated and fiercely loyal to my dad and our family.  She is wildly talented and the funniest person I know.  (After me.)  And she is mine.  
I love you, Mom. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sailing away from the South Pacific

During my week off I had made final negotiations for an exciting offer. My "'S Wonderful" family had called and I had the opportunity brought to me to help set the show at a theatre outside of New York and I couldn't pass up such a great chance to be part of a creative team. This business is so hard. You have to make such big decisions in such a quick time-frame it seems. My heart was torn from trying to be loyal to the contract I was already involved with, working in a new position, working with people who had been so loyal and wonderful to me, etc. So many things go into these decisions, but I ultimately had to decide to say goodbye to the "South Pacific." I had only a couple weeks left, though, so I knew I had to live it up!
Our first week back was in Nashville, TN. Since it was so close to home I was able to have my car, which was such a treat. I felt like I could really get around and see friends, eat at great restaurants, etc., even with some pretty nasty weather. The week was spent drinking vats of sweet tea, fried green tomatoes, cheese grits, and biscuits. Haha! I made sure to take a group out to the Grand Ole Opry where we did a backstage tour and had fun exploring. More than anything, though, just going aroudn the grounds of the resort was so interesting. That hotel is CRAZY! Around every turn even I was blown away, having been there before, to see ANOTHER giant atrium, indoor waterfall or giant tree!
We also spent some time at a trendy area with some great restaurants in East Nashville. I LOVED Noshville, Fido, and a Frech cafe place. Broadway is always fun downtown, too. I had a really fun night meeting up with my elementary school friend, Ashley Herod. We literally hadn't seen each other since 6th grade, but had so much fun catching up in a honky tonk and she was so generous to come see the show with her family. Then Katie Reid and I were SO excited because our 'S Wonderful friend, Katie Mitchell came to see us, also! We had a great night going to a couple honky tonks and dancing with her. Seeing any of the cast from that show is just special. We can catch up right where we left off like it's only been hours since we've last talked. The highlight of my tie in Nashville had to have been my family coming to visit! Berry, Donna, GG and Grandaddy, Debbie, and Paul all trekked down to see the show. It was an incredibly special time. We ate a Puckett's Grocery and stayed up late after the show chatting. In the morning before they left we had a great brunch at Fido. I am so grateful that they could come down and see the show. Donna and Berry always know how to bring me back to earth, encourage me, lift me up, settle me down, humble me... whatever it takes. I always just feel a little more like me when I have them around.
The last week I was on tour was a week in Chicago! I haven't spent a ton of time there, but it was great fun getting to explore and we played a beautiful theatre. Other shows were playign in town at the same time so I got to meet friends of friends in American Idiot and Million Dollar Quartet. I was really excited to meet a fellow Stephen Foster alum, Colte Julian, who is in MDQ and hooked me up with tickets to see the show! Those guys were insane! They are ridiculously talented, playing instruments, singing, and looking just like their iconic counterparts they are playing. What an awesome show. I also enjoyed seeing the Bean in Millenium Park, having good food, Chicago pizza at Giordano's with Katie Reid, and drinks on top of the Hancock Tower. As a finale to my time on tour a big group of the cast went out after my last show to get ice cream sundaes at Ghiardelli and then to party and celebrate the wonderful time I've had on tour. There were some ups and downs along the way, but I will say one thing: I would have NEVER gotten through this tour without losing my mind if it wasn't for my friends (who became family) on tour. If I wasn't able to vent and laugh with all of them I would have become so bitter and jaded.
On South Pacific I learned so much. Mostly about the kind of person I want to be in theatre. I learned that I want to be a teacher, an encourager, and a positive force. Too often I think the art of play is lost and theatre becomes work. I learned more about respecting people and treating people how you want to be treated. I learned that even in a business of actors and artists and all types of people, honesty is the best policy. Most of all, I learned that there is no point in doing theatre if you aren't able to have joy doing it. There are so many people in love with the arts and music and dance and storytelling that there shouldn't be room for those who are are jaded and tired of it all. Smile, people! It's not rocket science! It's theatre! Have fun! Live rejoicing!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quick Stops

At this point on tour we started doing some one-nighters and weekend stops. Schedules are tighter and there's just not as much opportunity to explore, so tour becomes a little less exciting. We drove Bartlesville, OK and I was in some pretty bad back pain. I called around and found a chiropractor that said she could squeeze me in, so I started walking to the office. In smaller cities, walking from a hotel to a doctor's office isn't super easy. It means walking a far way, without sidewalks, among lots of cars, and sometimes (as in this case) not great GPS directions. I ended up calling the doc back because I had walked in the wrong direction and wasn't going to make my appt. Being in Oklahoma was lucky, though, because that sweet hospitality came right out. The chiropractor insisted I shouldn't have been walking out in the cold anyway and drove out to come pick me up! Haha! She was very nice and did a great job fixing my back! If you're ever in Bartlesville, head to see Karen Wallis!
Next we headed to Lawrence, KS. It must not have been too interesting because I can't remember ANYTHING about our time there.
We had a stop-over in Elk City, OK before arriving for the weekend in Albuquerque, NM! We performed on another college campus while in Albuquerque, which is always fun because there are lots of shops, restaurants, etc. around. We had a good time enjoying great Mexican food, good weather, walking around to hipster shops and having great coffee. We also enjoyed Rudy's BBQ again (from Austin) and ate at the famous Frontier Restaurant. Those cinnamon rolls... I can't. We had another stop over on our long travel into California. We stopped in Laughlin, NV, a town that is only there for one reason... gambling. It is the strangest, smallest, dingiest town around. We stayed at a casino where I ate at a gross buffet, smelled a lot of cigarette smoke, and saw Red Tails, the not-so-great movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. Needless to say, I was glad to get out of there in the morning and head to Cali!
We had a quick one-nighter in Bakersfield and then headed to San Luis Obispo. I loved "SLO." It was a very cute town with great shops and restaurants and we had the chance to be outside and enjoy walking in the sun again. We found Firestone Grill and devoured one of the best sandwiches I've ever had, the tri-tip steak sandwich, before the show. After the show we enjoyed a little bonfire on the patio of a nearby bar and embraced being in the warmth of California. We spent the weekend in Palm Desert, CA, a very wealthy community. The McCallum Theatre was so nice and we enjoyed the many amenities for the weekend. There were lots of great shops, fun outdoor restaurants, etc. The highlight of the weekend was getting to see Tina Diaz! Tina is one of my closest friends. We went to Governor's School for the Arts together in 2004 and became fast friends then. Through the rest of high school and all of college and beyond she has been a great friend to me and I was thrilled to see her and her boyfriend Charlie. They drove to see my show and then stayed for a HUGE cookout on the grill and patio at the theatre. With our Emile, Marcello, manning the grill, we had mountains of food to enjoy and send us out for a week off!
For this little break a few of us guys decided to get a trip together to Las Vegas. I had never been to Sin City before, but knew I had to experience it, so I quickly jumped on board for the trip. What a crazy couple of days! That city just EATS your money. I may as well have just thrown my debit card down the toilet for the weekend. But boy did I have a GREAT time! Ha ha! We stayed at the beautiful Cosmopolitan hotel, the newest major resort on the strip. It was right in the heart of it all and from the moment we drove into the parking garage we knew we were in for a treat. This place was jaw-droppingly opulent. From the walls covered in flat-screen panels, constantly changing the environment, to the 3-story chandelier bar in the center of the hotel to our suite over-looking the famous Bellagio dancing fountains, we were set up for success. Our room was over-the-top nice. We had 2 large flat-screen tvs, a bathroom as big as my apartment in NYC... it was crazy.
We only had one night and one full day in town so we knew we had to pack in as much as possible. We started our first night at a tapas restaurant in our hotel. The group was me, Drew, Christian, Shane, Alex, plus Alex and Drew's girlfriends, Morgana and Sara Lynn. From there we headed to 2 shows. First was Jubilee, the famous old-school Las Vegas showgirl show. It was really fun to see that old-school style that is just about gone from the world of live theatre.
Then, on the other side of the spectrum, we went to see Le Reve. I don't even know where to begin. Le Reve is a cirque du soleil-style show at the Wynn Resort. It is a small theatre in the round and the stage is covered in water. The floor comes up and out of the water at times, changes levels, shapes, etc. The show is full of magical moments of people doing synchronized swimming, dance, aerial acts, acrobatics, etc. It is absolutely the most visually stunning thing I've ever seen. I've never sat in a theatre with my mouth wide open and audibly saying "WOW!" so much. It was unreal. If you get a chance GO SEE THIS SHOW!!!
The rest of that night we spent walking around, watching the Bellagio Fountains, exploring the Venetian, eating at the secret pizza restaurant in our hotel, and doing a bit of gambling. I am thankful that I have no interest in gambling at all. I play once to say I did it and then that's it. The next day we woke up late and went and enjoyed brunch at the Bellagio's never-ending buffet. This city is just all about indulgence. There was so much food I almost didn't know what to do! Almost. We continued the day driving out to see the Red Rocks quickly and then came back for dinner and a show at the MGM Grand.
The MGM has a fun lion display to see and we ate before seeing KA, a cirque du soleil show that, again blew my mind. I don't know how the technology of that show works, but it was the craziest beast of a technical marvel I've ever seen. I couldn't believe it. The sheer size of the theatre, built especially for this show, was incredible. After that we had indulged enough and it was time to drive out of town and head home in the morning! We had a great time, but I was so thankful for a break to spend time with my family and gather my thoughts away from work and away from the road.

All the best to all of you!