Sunday, November 18, 2018

Secrets of #ElfTheMusical theater magic, Lesson 2:

The Greenway Press employees who are “sitting in their cubes” STAGE RIGHT are actually “squatting behind some wooden things on wheels and smiling enthusiastically and attentively for our artfully composed group selfie UNLIKE the not-attention-paying ninnymugginses STAGE LEFT who took forever to notice me for their artfully composed portraiture last night.”
The more you know (sparkly shooting star!)

When you’re in a show

and when it’s over you race to another theater to catch the end of a show you have a bunch of friends in and then you catch the end of a wedding reception and then you catch the end of a cast party where you have a jalapeño burger you soon learn to regret and you finally get home at 2:30 am to take your Saturday pm bipolar meds really late and you carefully calculate that you should take your Sunday am meds about 11:00 to keep them somewhat evenly paced but when you go to take your am meds at 11:00 you discover that in all your careful late-night planning you accidentally took them last night and WELL SHIT:


I’m sorry but I went to a wedding reception after tonight’s Elf the Musical performance was all applauded and bowed and as I was getting dressed I realized I had exactly one ironed shirt and it was a difficult shade of blue which is probably why it was my last ironed shirt in the first place but I was out of time so I had to build my entire evening’s reception-appropriate ensemble around my difficult-shade-of-blue-last-ironed-shirt ... AND I KILLED IT. But nobody took my picture so I had to do it myself when I got home and YES I HAVE A PICTURE OF CINDERELLA IN MY BEDROOM SHUT UP.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Secrets of #ElfTheMusical theater magic, Lesson 1:

The Greenway Press employees who are “sitting in their cubes” are actually “squatting behind some wooden things on wheels and taking FOREVER to notice that I’m trying to take their picture across the stage as I squat behind some other wooden things on wheels.”
Let the record show that I was guns-at-the-ready for their retaliatory photography:
The more you know (sparkly shooting star!)

The citizens of New York, ready to welcome Buddy the Elf to the mean urban streets

But with rhythmic dance and soaring melody.

I'm so thankful our family comes from hearty stock

I still have vivid memories of the night Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, the moment 30 years ago today that she came out of her anesthesia after her mastectomy, sitting with her at chemo, and repeatedly watching her take off her wig and remove her prosthetic after chemo so she could collapse into the sleep she needed to keep up the fight. But more importantly, I remember how she wouldn't let breast cancer control her life. I have even fonder memories of her traveling to DC--one of her favorite cities--with us, unflinchingly bearing the slight orange tint of a chemo patient. Of her volunteering for Reach to Recovery, a program that paired breast cancer survivors with new breast cancer patients to answer questions and act as survivor role models and give hope where often there didn't seem to be any. Of the pink-clothed and pink-fooded and the pink-everythinged celebration we had with family and friends to celebrate her 20-year survival milestone. And most importantly, I remember how we all chose to laugh instead of cry at the situation. It turns out that prosthetic breasts can be very funny, especially when they're used as a giant nose on a drawing of a face, when they make uncontrollable farting sounds against sweaty skin on a hot day, and especially when they're put away for the night on a stack of hotel towels, only to fly across the room and SPLAT! against the wall when the top towel is unknowingly pulled off the pile in semi-darkness. We're lucky as a family to have all of this--and to still have Mom with us as a living example for everyone that breast cancer CAN be beaten.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Elf the Musical opening night!

This is the nicest my dressing-room station will look for the next five weeks:


How awesome and inventive are the projections on our also-how-awesome-and-inventive Elf the Musical set? You’ll just have to come and behold for yourselves.
You’ll also have to come and behold the boundless energy, effortless talents and fearless ridiculousness of my photobomber: D.J., who brings Buddy the Elf to life with his gorgeous voice and childlike delight. The kids in our preview audience oohed and aahed and giggled and clapped all through the show last night, and I lost track of the times people told me afterward that they left the theater filled with holiday spirit. We’re all really proud of this show, and thrilled to get to share it with everyone who comes to see it. LIKE YOU.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

If a super-jazzy, super-jingly, super-challenging musical score about elves doesn't make your holidays brighter ...

if hearing a chorus of otherwise super-manly basses squeak out repeated high A's doesn't dog-whistle you ... if watching my freakishly talented friend D.J. totally ROCK IT as the charming, guileless, fearlessly ridiculous Buddy the Elf doesn't elicit even a wan smile from your stony comportment ... if your cold, dead heart prevents you from understanding my subtly nuanced performance of Doug the Christmas Cop breaking up a sweaty Santa fight ... you AT LEAST owe it to yourself to come see Elf the Musical just to hear the 90-year-old Barton organ fill Theatre Cedar Rapids with glorious Christmas carols before each Friday and Saturday performance.

The organ is a hidden gem in the heart of the city, and it is truly a treat to get to hear it on the occasions that it gets played. And just look at the organ console: IT'S BLACK VELVET! WITH RHINESTONES!

Don't make me call you out as a cotton-headed ninny-muggins. Get your tickets at

By the way ...

Monday, November 12, 2018

Remember when Ann had an epic meltdown because she got stuck sitting in coach?

It’s clear what’s still up HER orifice ...

That. Little. Outfit.

Happy 17th birthday to my delightful niece, who has grown from being a squirmy toddler who refused to be snuggled to an adorable little girl who charmed everyone into giving her cookies and hosted clown- and cheerleader-themed birthday parties to an inquisitive student who’s rocked at basketball and tennis and cello and show choir and debate to a kind, talented, brilliant young woman whose passions for academics and social justice (and I suppose I should mention the Dodgers) inspire all of us to be better people.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

I lost almost the entire day today sleeping off what seems to be a low-grade-but-nonetheless-still-exhausting cold

but I thankfully woke up in time to make it to my niece’s birthday dinner tonight. Then I think I finally got my dad’s birthday Alexa set up, even though I accidentally called it Siri twice and ended up having conversations with two disembodied robot women at once—JUST LIKE MY LOVE LIFE—but even though I couldn’t get Alexa to find 91.7 fm classical radio, it IS somehow playing classical music from somewhere that’s probably costing $7.99 a minute right now, and I’m going to try to knock out one more chapter of this fabulously gay book that I started reading in August because why read a book quickly when you can stretch it out over multiple sessions of Congress?


My grandpa Lawrence Arthur—who joined my grandpa Arthur LeRoy to be the inspiration for my middle name—served in World War I with his three brothers Ole, Gustav and Robert. They build bridges in Russia, built hospitals in France and served stateside when the war ended.
Grandpa Arthur LeRoy was a veterinarian during World War II who was promoted to battlefield surgeon on the front lines in the Philippines and Okinawa.
My dad was in the Army at the very early days of the Vietnam War, serving in Thailand and the Philippines triangulating radio signals to find their broadcast locations. I unfortunately can’t find a photo of him in uniform.

11:00 today—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month—marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, when the Allies signed the armistice with Germany, and the United States 11th Field Artillery Regiment fired the symbolic closing shot of the war.

I can't even begin to describe how much respect and appreciation I have for my veteran forebears, along with all of our country’s active duty and veteran military personnel. Past and present, they live vastly different lives when they're worlds away from us and once they return and live among us as well. The anguish they feel when they're waiting to be deployed. The abject terror they live with every day when they're on the front lines. The thought that the friendships they build can be ripped from them in one explosion, one hail of gunfire, one sunken ship, one innocent step on a land mine. The survivor's guilt when they return home but their friends and comrades-in-arms don't. But all their work, their sacrifices, their days of boredom and nights of fear continue to keep all of us back home safe from what they lived and continue to live with for months and years at a time.

I'm humbled by their selfless sacrifices and their service. I'm proud to have so many veteran relatives and friends to be proud of. And in awe of. And thankful for.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tech rehearsal for Elf the Musical!

I’ve scored the trifecta of costume plots ... which is an over-fancy way of saying I have only three costumes ... which translates to a minimum of costume changes and a maximum of no-costume-change-panic.
From left to right:1. (on me) Jake the nameless New Yorker in a gray sweater and black coat
2. Jim the festive Greenway Press employee who’s now wearing a festive red sweater
3. Doug the cop WHO SAILS THROUGH THE ENTIRETY OF ACT II WITHOUT A SINGLE COSTUME CHANGE except, of course, for my standard-issue cop tap shoes for the big elf-hatted finale ... which, I suppose also means I have a hat change as well


Friday, November 09, 2018

Sitzprobe (noun)

1. A seated rehearsal that merges orchestra, vocals and body microphones for the first time in the production of a musical; 2. A vaguely naughty-sounding German word that though it may seem so at first reading doesn't really lend itself to clever sexual innuendo and don't even think you're going to come up with the elusive and brilliantly definitive "probe" joke because millions of very talented and clever and profoundly disturbed actors and singers before you have exhausted every last possibility a thousand times over; 3. THE COOLEST REHEARSAL OF EVERY SHOW OF YOUR LIFE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE; 4. I'm sportin’ my emergency new merlot-at-twilight-hued hoodie I just bought at Target because it’s damn cold today and I proudly but stupidly wore just my flimsy new Disney race shirt when I left the house this morning; 5. That has nothing to do with Sitzprobe but I didn't have any other place to fit it in today; 5. WE HAVE SUPER-NEW, SUPER-TECHY, SUPER-COOL, SUPER-LIGHTWEIGHT, SUPER-SLENDER, SUPER-SUPER NEW BODY MICS; 6. It’s too bad Andrew is always so boring and plain-looking: