Life in a Diphenhydramine Bubble
sunday 1 february 2009
Happy New Year!!
09 is here and so much has already happened! The big news everywhere is Obama eh? Where were you all when he took his oath? I watched it on the telly and even cried a wee bit. So far I have been impressed with the man. What a tough job he has taken on, but I think he is the right person for it. I'm glad he wants it 'cos I certainly wouldn't. Obama has an incredible way of making hardship seems like an interesting challenge to be overcome. We will need all the help we can get I can tell you...
So the new year is only 1 month old but it's all been hectic craziness! Good stuff though. Becky and I had fun catching up after three years and seeing in the New Year together, then she headed back to London and I headed straight into previews for Leaves of Glass. We are well into our short run, only two weeks left and I am having a blast. This has been an intense process and playing Barry has been really brilliant. The bad thing is that I've been ill through most of my recent performances with this nasty awful flu. I have been assured that I can be understood on stage, which I find unbelievable because I feel so congested. I can't even hear what I'm saying. I don't have an understudy so I have been turning up to work, and we have been taking all kinds of precautions to prevent the rest of the cast from catching this hideous bug. I've tried to speed it out of my system, but there doesn't seem to be much to do except give myself time to recover. I've never been a particularly patient person, so waiting to get better is not something that I am good at. There are some days when I have felt so terrible during the day that I don't think it will be possible to get through a show, but then something hits me when I step on stage. In this business, its called "Doctor Theatre" -- adrenaline and excitement just get you through what seems impossible.
After the play is over I continue recording some books on tape, including finishing my work on Frank Herbert's Dune series. (Check out the "Making of the Dune Audiobook" on Youtube!) Then I head off on some more American travels. I have a few private concerts which I always enjoy as it takes me to different parts of the country and I always get to meet and spend time with interesting people. They are not always 'my kinda people' but they are always interesting!!! It takes all kinds to make a world eh?!
That's all folks. Thank you to everyone who sent me a Happy New Year note (and to those of you who shared your 'what I'm giving up for New Year stories', I hope you are managing to keep it up)?
I'm off to continue my recovery. More Emergen-C and Theraflu!
Much love - and I hope you don't catch this bug,
My diphenhydramine bubble
Note From The Webmaster/mistress/why do we have to be so damn PC??! Whilst we will continue to update the website regularly, we will be sending out OEM mailers less frequently. This is just our little bit to save electronic trees. Please continue to check the site for updates-- You don't want to miss something now, do you!?
Scots Wha Hae!
tuesday 14 April 2009
I have just returned from a short concert tour of the south, which was great fun and hard work all rolled into one. It's amazing how I never get tired when I'm working. (I'm like a three-toed sloth when I'm not!) I was back down south where my medical saga took place last summer, so it was a little bit surreal to revisit the scene of the drama. Wonderful to return intact this time though. I met some great new friends and one group in particular who showed me the sites of rural Georgia! There was much to see, including the tiny town of McRae, with its one traffic light! McRae (also known as Helena and Jacksonville) is the home of the surely famous Liberty Square, which includes a replica of the Statue of Liberty and another of the Liberty Bell.
I need never do any travelling in the north again. I hung out with freshly birthed baby calves and puppies, and got to taste freshly canned okra and apple butter made by Granny's own fair hand. Then it was time for gator spotting where holding a baby alligator was added to my list of new experiences. There's nothing like these gigs and travels because you never really know where you're going to end up, who you are going to meet or what adventures you will have.
Oh wait. There was one dark moment. Just before one of the concerts, as I sped off on a golf cart ride, I lost control of the cart and had an accident. I slammed (hard!) into the back of a parked SUV. I don't know exactly what happened because it all went so fast, but I think my foot slipped off the brake (I was wearing dress shoes and a fancy suit in preparation to climb on stage). Next to the brake? The accelerator. I smacked my face off the windscreen and thought I'd broken my hand... Fortunately, I was mainly damage free and the show went on. Ultimately (after some repair) both vehicles were fine too. Though I did find bits of cart and car over the road for days following.
Not having humiliated myself enough, I felt the need to enter an Iron Chef Cooking Competition. I was having dinner at a fancy restaurant one night and the chef came around and mentioned the upcoming cookery battle. I love anything competitive, so I forced my entire table to enter. We spent the whole next day preparing our dishes and taking it all very seriously. As I prepared my Pasta Arrabbiata (thank you Becky) I taunted my competitors and was pretty certain that sweet (and spicy) victory would soon be mine. I was dismayed, nay disgusted, when my lovingly prepared dish was beaten out by a simple, boring vegetable soup prepared by an amateur with little skill who has learned all she knows from me! I'm over it now, can you tell?
All that fun and frolicking is finished though and how nice it was to return home. Time to get to work on some exciting things I have planned for the late spring/early summer months.
If you saw the flyer on the Homepage then you will already know that I'm doing a series of new gigs in the Big Apple, which pretty much fill June with pre-production and performances. As any proud Scot knows, this is the 250th anniversary of the birth our national poet, Robert Burns. In Scotland they are proclaiming this the Year of the Homecoming and are celebrating with various events all over the world. As I have mentioned here before, I'm often homesick. (It has been 4 years since I left US shores - and I used to be quite the traveller). Sometimes I miss home so much more than I can ever really express on here. So this Year of the Homecoming thing was the perfect way to get close to Alba without entering international waters. I thought I would celebrate in my own special way and booked out the last three weekends in June to do a series of Scottish-themed concerts at the Metropolitan Room. There will be some traditional Celtic tunes and some more modern faire too, but all written by Scottish or Irish artists. There will also be Whiskies, Irn Bru (for me) and tears (from me). People over here are always so friendly and curious about Scotland. I've received loads of mail from people who have been there, or are planning to go or from people who are descendants of wily, brawny Scottish farmers and fishermen. Like Oompa Loompas in the chocolate factory, the Celts are everywhere and this one is for anyone with even the tiniest slice of the islands in them-and who knows-one might even get to drop a pencil to look up a Kilt or two?!
As usual with the Metropolitan Room you can book your tickets at their website www.MetropolitanRoom.com or over the phone at 212-206-0440:
And after all that talk of home, I feel like a healthy dose of fish'n chips is in order. Eaten out of the page of a newspaper, just like it's done back home.
I hope you are getting some nice days out now that the weather is improving?
Money is tight for everyone and that's never fun but hooray for all the free things to do in NYC.
I hope you are all managing as well as can be expected or better!
With Kindest Thoughts
The Best Laid Schemes Of Mice and Men...
friday 19 june 2009
So, I've just finished talking to my Mum on the phone. She's very disappointed that she and Dad can't come over to see the show I've been doing at the Metropolitan Room. We had talked before and Mum said that she and my father were trying to come over to see what I was up to. We got excited about it and started to plan, but it was way too late! Flights were too expensive and finding a reasonable hotel in the city was a nightmare. And so it isn't going to work out. I'm sorry we left it so late and now I have to make do with shortbread and Irn-Bru to fill the emotional gap!
Caledonia is going well. This is one of the most personal shows I've done in a while. It seems that everyone I meet has some Scottish ancestry and they all seem to connect to the show-- or maybe it's the idea that we all miss home sometimes. Wherever we come from or end up.
The show got a nice notice in the New York Times. It's probably best to avoid reading reviews. It seems to me that if you believe the best, then you have to believe the worst of what is written about you and that can be dangerous either way. You have to believe in the work you are doing and can't cater your performance to please one person-- but still-- when a review sneaks into my line of vision and it's a positive one, I have to admit, it feels pretty good!
As I told you in the last journal entry, Scotland is celebrating the Year of the Homecoming. I wish I could follow the Scottish Tourist Boards' advice and spend some time at home celebrating Robert Burns. It's an attractive offer, but work is keeping me here in the States, which is one of the reasons I decided to celebrate in NY.
I took a day off recently and went hiking around Bear Mountain. It's only a short trip from NYC, but it feels like a world away. Unfortunately the swimming pool and the carousel weren't open-- but the trails were, and the dog went for a little swim in the lake until we were warned by the Park Ranger to cease and desist... Hey Ho.
I'll be taking a trip back to one of my favourite out of town destinations next month, recently Tony-honoured Signature Theatre in DC. I'm performing two evenings there in mid July as part of their summer series and it is like being part of a fantastic, elfish family there. I'm very excited to share in their Tony joy!
Well. Maybe see you before the gig is up.
Or in the Washington region.
Or as one of your disguise personalities online...
The Tortoise As Winner...
tuesday 25 august 2009
Well, hello again!
Been a wee while eh?
Forgive my lapse in updates and pics. I have actually been on the road a lot this summer (and away from email). And unlike most people in the 21st century I don't like too easy access to the internet as I would achieve little else...
But I haven't been lazy. At least not entirely!
Whilst in NYC about a month ago I got a call asking if I would attend summer camp... Well, not really summer camp exactly, but I was asked to be a visiting artist at the O'Neill Theatre Center in New London, Connecticut. (Internet access was never gonna happen there - too hard to come by)!
I worked on a new musical composed by my fellow Scotsman, Paul "Scot" Goodman. (He wrote Rooms, which recently played off-broadway, and also the musical version of Bright Lights, Big City.) The conference itself reminded me of the summer work we did at Sundance a few years ago and was a great opportunity to participate in the development of new theatre pieces.The work was intense, but enjoyable. Another bonus for me is that we were near the beach so I could take long walks along the shore during my time off. Oh, and I played a Scottish character on stage! I don't think I have played a Scottish character since I was a kid -- Plenty of English, very few Scottish!
I've been really getting back in touch with Scotland this summer. The Scottish gigs at the Met Room helped relieve my homesickness and gave me a chance to revel in the folk music from home.
So I can hold out a bit more before I finally make my long overdue trip back to Alba. Thanks to all of you who came to help me celebrate! I had a blast showing off the huge list of things that were invented by Scottish people and taking most of the credit for them!!
Now, before heading up to Connecticut, I was back at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. I took part in their innovative Sizzlin' Summer Cabaret, performing 2 shows. I felt very lucky to make it through these shows as I got terribly sick right before heading down to DC. By the time I arrived at the theatre, I was pretty sure I had a bad case of Swine Flu. Last time I felt so sick was when my appendix ruptured, and I was nearly as miserable this time. But-- I guess it wasn't the Swine Flu because I made it throught the shows and soon felt much better.
Speaking of illness and the appendix-- it's been a year since The Rupture. The scar has really faded and I feel completely fine-- even better than before, actually. Who needs an appendix? It was just weighing me down! It's hard to believe that a year ago I was in the middle of a seemingly eternal recovery...
I keep going off on tangents, and I shouldn't because I need to get back to what I was telling you. In the middle of my time in Connecticut, I got a message about a production of Into the Woods, directed by Moisés Kaufman in Kansas City, Missouri. I quickly packed my bags and headed west to take part, and as I write this, I am in beautiful KC. Everything is up-to-date here, apparently. This town has more working fountains than any city other than Rome, and more boulevards than Paris. Howz that for 'getting to know the area'?!
I've always enjoyed Sondheim, but haven't worked in a Sondheim musical myself since drama school, where I played Old Ben in Follies at the age of 19. (That was a stunningly stupid piece of casting). Into the Woods has always been a favourite of mine, so I am very happy to be here.
Onto something technical. My stunningly talented web person tells me we have been having some problems with our server. I didn't really understand all the jargon but you may visit OEM soon and see a notice that says "Site closed for Maintenance" Do not panic!! We are just fixing the glitches, and then I'll be back. You'll still be able to get in touch at NewClearCD@aol.com, and we'll send you an announcement that the site is back up and running IF there is an interruption of any length! You can also look for latest news on www.euanmorton.com, which is not run by me, but it, like Kansas City, is always up-to-date and I'm very proud of all Noëlle (who runs this site all the way from France) has done for me on her page!
Alright, I've got lines to learn, dinner to cook, boulevards to stroll and fountains to swim in... (can you catch a staff infection from swimming in a fountain)?!
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
And thank you for your continued support of me and OEM!
See you soon...
Nose To The Grindstone
wednesday 4 november 2009
And so begins an insane month of November. Things are all quiet on the western front, then it all comes at once! Having returned from Kansas City I had a couple of days to breathe and take in the experience and then it was nose to the grindstone again. Songs galore to learn and rehearse. I rushed down, last minute, to Washington, DC to take part in The Shakespeare Theatre's annual gala. It was a big affair, honouring Sir Ian McKellen and Mickey Rooney this year, and the theme was A Midsummer Night's Dream. I sang the opening number and a little dream of mine came true-I got to play Puck at last! I have never worked at the Shakespeare Theatre before, but have attended as a member of the audience. I went to see dear Jeffrey Carlson when he played Hamlet there, and two days after the gala, I was back again. Seeing Ian McKellen's one man show A Knight in Harman Hall.
The following morning I jumped back in the car to return to NYC to take part in the annual fundraising gala for Only Make Believe, a children's charity that I truly admire. I have been singing for them every chance I get since I first learned of their work and have loved attending their workshops in the past. This annual gala is one event that I try to never miss and I hope you didn't either. It was an awesome night. This year they were celebrating their 10th anniversary and you'll never guess who was hosting?
(I'm sure he's stalking me). Loads of cool people were there to honour Seth Rudetsky and Chris Wearing. Jude Law, Alan Cumming-lots of people from the homeland!
After I finish typing this journal entry, I'm getting back in the car to head south again. (Thank the Lord for the scenic Jersey Turnpike and the beautiful I-95) Back to DC to rehearse 2 concert series I have coming up. The first is at Baltimore's Centerstage. I performed a Gala event for them last year and we have been trying to find a time for me to return for a while so this should be an exciting weekend. Plus I've been told I gotta check out the Baltimore Aquarium so, 5 birds, one stone! Then it's back to Signature Theatre in DC once more to share eight evenings with Natascia Diaz! I have known Natascia for a while now but this is the first chance we have had to work together and we are both very excited. The show is called Signature Sings and features song selections from their seasons 1995-1999. Something a little different for me and it leaves me a lot of new stuff to learn but I love a challenge and a chance to extend my repertoire.
Well, before I go juice up the car with the last of the planet's natural resources, I must ask, How was your Halloween? What with the Shakespeare Gala and things, I had Halloween in Virginia this year. Much more of a suburban affair than back in the city. And I gladly took part! I even dressed as Harry Potter, well I wore my star-patterned pyjamas!
Last year I was in New York for this holiday, having a quiet night at home. I hadn't bought any candy because I thought that the trick-or-treaters would just go to the doorman to get their treats. At around 7.30 there was a knock on my door. I heard children's voices in the hall. I froze, turned down the TV and tried to be very quiet, pretending not to be home. The knocks got louder and more insistent. I heard the voices in the hall screaming at me, “We know you are in there!!!” They were right, I was in there but I didn't have any candy and I didn't know how far these people would take the “trick” part of “trick or treating” - so I just kept frozen, willing the intruders to go away. That's right, a grown man cowering in his living room. So this year I gave it all I had (candy wise) and spend hundreds on helping kiddies ruin their teeth.
OK. Check out the new additions to the gallery section and think on all the things you are going to be thankful for at Thanksgiving and we shall speak again soon…
Wish me safe travels…
And I wish you the same wherever you may be going…
All My Love
Sleeping With The Fishes
saturday 21 november 2009
I mentioned last journal entry that I would be seeing a lot of the I-95 in these coming weeks, and life has not disappointed. Maybe they should name a rest stop after me... I mean, the amount I've paid in tolls, I must have bought that honour by now?!
What a fantastic time was had in Baltimore. The excellent staff and lovely warm audiences at Centerstage made the concerts completely magical. I can see why it's named Charm City! Sadly, I did not make it to the Aquarium or to try out the batting cages at the ESPN Zone, so those remain on my To Do List next time I have some free time in Maryland.
I'm so happy to have met so many new faces and I apologise (even though I'm secretly thrilled) that we ran out of copies of NewClear! The sales team did an awesome job and I'm already planning a return...
I stayed in the beautiful, brand new, Hotel Monaco right in the heart of downtown Baltimore. Marble staircases and big, modern rooms. We were disgustingly well looked after by my new best friend Franklin and his colleagues. They had cookies and milk at 4, and a wine party at 5 every day. Every hour beat the one before! They also have something called the "Guppy Love" programme. In laymans terms, you get a fish in a bowl to cure your 'away from home' blues.
Now, I was sceptical as to how much a goldfish was gonna help with the loneliness (I mean I'm used to a 95 lbs Labrador to fix me on that front) however other members of the team I was travelling with were all too enthusiastic about their new pet fish. I would have been pleased for them, except for the fact that my companions had a knack for killing the fish. Or the fish had a knack for just up and dying. I don't know how or why, but fish just seemed to pop off on our watch and it got demoralizing after a while. Everytime one passed on the hotel would replace it. In the end, I banned everyone I was with from getting any more bloody fish! The guilt was just awful as the corpses piled up. Well... floated up.
After a brief trip to New York to squeeze in a couple of auditions I'm now back in DC and ticking to the end of the Signature Sings series. Whilst the NYC trip was totally worth it, it meant I arrived at Signature Theatre just an hour before I was scheduled to do the first concert with Natascia Diaz. No rehearsals, no tech, no soundcheck! There is an old Actors Nightmare about going on stage without knowing your lines, or where to stand, or even what show you are in and boy did I feel like that was coming true. But Ms Diaz is a consummate professional and saved me on numerous occasions on night one! It's all been stronger and safer since then and it's been a joy sharing the stage with her. We're also sharing space backstage with the entire cast of Show Boat, which opened the same night we did and you don't know how hard I'm finding it not to sneak on with the ensemble and sing some of that beautiful score.
I'm going to spend the Thanksgiving week practising expanding my stomach so I can fit all of the necessary turkey and trappings in and still be able to rise from the table. Then it's swiftly onto Christmas and another New Year. I have some exciting news for 2010 and I'll be able to tell you all about it here very, very soon...
But till then,
Malarky and Merriment to all
Length, Measured in Holidays
wednesday 9 december 2009
Time feels like it is racing by. This is the time of year when you run the marathon of one festive day only to find there is another 26.2 mile race on the horizon. Halloween, Thanksgiving and now Christmas and New Year are upon us...
I don't want to miss one exciting day that's just over the rise.
It's a bit early for New Year resolutions but mine is to enjoy 'it' while it lasts. Even the crappy bits. I'm getting old and it's getting a bit late to still be wishing the days away...
I'm starting with the resolutions early though and have begun my 5th attempt to give up smoking. I know, it's a really dumb habit but once they get you it's hard to stop. Really hard. I'm using the gum now, having gone through patches, self help books and Chantix!
I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and neighbours down in Virginia. They have quit smoking too and may be considered an inspiration this time around.
We ate a lovely meal and since I wasn't hosting, I got to show up, eat and converse. No cooking, no cleanup! It was all very easy. I was offered leftovers, but was feeling so full that I declined them, only to wake up the next morning, call my gracious hosts, ask them to bring the remnants round and we'd mess up my kitchen this time. I firmly maintain my belief that we should be thankful every day and shouldn't need a special holiday to focus on gratitude but I am also starting to think that people should randomly bring me dinner whenever they feel like.
No reason required...
And that's a beautiful segue. Gratitude. I'm extremely grateful to be working in a profession that I love during a really rough time for the arts. (Actually outside of the bubble it's a tough time for EVERYONE). I have so many talented friends who are out of work, and I know just how they feel, as I have been in that position many times before.
It's about sticking out the rough times and maintaining that belief that only you can truly have in yourself. If they had taught, as part of my college course, that one might spend gross amounts of time poor and unemployed while the competition got tougher and the jobs fewer I would probably have ignored them anyway. It's like a drug and no one can take it away...
And it does pay off sometimes.
I am happy to confirm here that I will be appearing in Sondheim on Sondheim on Broadway at Studio 54. It is a multimedia/musical revue of the life and work of American musical theatre's greatest composer. (Stephen Sondheim for those of you who didn't work it out). I'm particularly excited to take part in this after appearing in his Into the Woods earlier this year. We start preliminary rehearsals in December and then again in February to begin previews in March. It will coincide with Mr Sondheim's 80th birthday celebrations too and what a chance to work with greats like Barbara Cook and Vanessa Williams.
More than anything, I am grateful for the chance to spend more time in New York City next year. I really miss her when I'm gone.
There is just one more out of town project before we begin rehearsals proper. I am reviving my Songs for the Homecoming concert for a Burns Night celebration at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC on January 25th. (Burns' birthday)! The hour long concert will also be broadcast live over the internet but no using that as an excuse not to come see me in person! The broadcast is for friends and family back home and those Russian Burns lovers who just can't make it over to the nation's capital. (Russia claims to have more Burns clubs than Scotland)!
So. I'm ready for 2010. My lungs are grateful for the break and my Haggis receipe will be getting a good run around the houses.
But there is one final sad note to 2009.
Amélie Mauresmo has retired from the world of professional tennis. She has reached the ripe old age of thirty (dancers and sports stars really have a short shelf life, eh)?
I have loved following her career and watching her ever since she launched herself as a tennis star in 1999 and it has left a vacuum in my life as to who I should root for now... Probably Kim Clijsters who won the US Open this year after a 2-and-a-half-year hiatus unless you can think of anyone better?
Goodbye Amélie. I wish you all the very best in whatever life offers you now. I will miss that beautiful backhand...
Oh and Amélie, if you are reading this, your smiling face is now my screensaver and you will remain there for about 3 days till I get the urge to put up a Christmas tree screensaver...
And that's it. With gratitude and some wistful sadness, I say goodbye to 2009, and welcome 2010.
Can you believe that we are a decade into our new millennium? Not so new now, eh?
Like a penny down the back of a sofa we will find 2010 and be happy that we have another penny to spend...
I wish you all the very best for this holiday season and for the possibility-filled New Year to come.
Check out the journal archives for previous entries.