McUpdate - Happy McNew Year!
friday 29 january 2010
So, I read a McStory online recently and it might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read: A McStory.
Has McDonald’s really nothing better to do than to pick on a teenager who is trying to make the world a better place? Proceeds from her event support thousands of children who participate in Special Olympics throughout the year. You’d think McDonald’s would be too busy firing staff members for putting an extra slice of cheese on a burger (also a true story) to worry about this girl and her philanthropic ways! The panjandrums at McDonald’s should be very proud of themselves sucking up the money raised during McFest on a ridiculous legal debate over its patents. In my further research I found this fantastic paragraph by a Scottish geneology expert who seems puzzled that the company could somehow lay claim to a prefix connected to so many of our hearty clansmen:
"I take strong offense at the actions of McDonald’s attempt at possession of the prefix Mc, a part of many of the names of Scots or Irish ancestry," writes one Rone Ross. “I am of the Clan Ross, there are many sub-Clans (septs) in the family of Clan Ross that hold the birthright of Mc, such as McMillan and McTavish and there are many of Irish ancestry who also hold by birthright the prefix Mc, including the full surname, McDonald."
Ross has suggested a solution that I fully support:
"I would suggest that the members of any of the clans, either Irish or Scots, file protests, and if necessary, legal action against the business of McDonald’s."
And for those of you out there who find a legal battle with McDonalds a little frightening, not to mention time consuming, then how about a donation to the Special Olympics in the name of Miss McClusky’s McFest?
I have taken a sworn oath to never consume McDonald’s food or drinks again. I suggest you do the same. And if the above story is not enough incentive, just think of the health benefits gained from dropping that crap from your diet.
I had just read the McFest story hours before going onstage at the Kennedy Center in DC and I managed a full 25 minutes before my ire rose up and prompted me to denigrate McDonald’s for its ridiculous and frivolous behaviour…
If you couldn’t make it out to the Kennedy Center for the Burns’ Night celebration and missed the show in its 6pm live timeslot online, no worries, you can watch the whole thing here and it’ll be just like you were there!!
To those of you who did get to watch, either in person or on the telly, thank you so much for helping make the evening such a special one. I’ve needed a good reason to get back into a Kilt again, to feel the wind whipping round my portions. It was just like the old days!!
Now I’m back in New York and ready to start rehearsals for Sondheim on Sondheim, which will open this Spring. Back in December, we had some preliminary meetings for this new show, and it was a great opportunity to meet the production team and to become familiar with some of the work we will be doing.
All of that went very well, but I must tell you that my favourite part of the whole thing was that I got a chance to get to know Barbara Cook. I have admired her for a long time and even got to attend her 80th Birthday Concert a while back but I never dreamed that we would get to go on a date!! I joined Barbara at the Blue Note to see the fantastic Chris Botti perform (an American Jazz trumpeter and composer). What a magical evening and Ms Cook is as lovely as her voice. She truly is a jewel in the American Theatre crown… I can’t wait to get started proper!
Well, that’s all folks. A Very Happy New Year to one and all.
Wishing you only the very best for this new decade.
And remember people… it doesn’t pay to be McGreedy, McSelfish, McStupid, McDonald’s
So Much Love
Euan McMorton xx
Chase me, chase me...
monday 22 february 2010
And we move into the mad March month with some good news! According to THIS, the feud between McDonald’s and a civic-minded teenager may be coming to an end. I’m glad they are coming to their senses but since I have felt a lot healthier after giving up their food in protest I shall not be returning to it…
Happily, my McAnger is free to move on to other giants and Chase Bank is right there to fill the gap! This is a company I have had a long relationship with, but our time together may be finished. After taking a huge chunk of the bailout money paid for by our taxes, they have decided to pay back the public in America by decreasing our credit—without warning, in most cases—even if we have been paying on time all along. I got an impersonal notice about this in the mail on the same day two other people in my building got the same letter so it clearly isn’t based on your personal credit history. This punishment causes your hard-won credit score to go down because it reduces your credit-to-debt ratio. I called to complain and was treated with incredible rudeness by a supervisor. I am tempted to just quit paying altogether but of course I’ll be the only one screwed over in that scenario. The Federal Government comes up with these helpful new rules and the banks just come up with sneaky and inventive ways to avoid helping the customer. My interest rate is now variable, which means it rises when rates rise… but does it fall accordingly? NO!! And they put my base rate up because my credit-to-debt ratio is too high, a problem they just caused by lowering my credit line. How are we ever supposed to get out of the financial doldrums eh? Thankfully I have a job or I wouldn’t be paying my debts at all because of my need to eat…
It’s a fun job too! Work continues and it is going well. It is always difficult, especially when you are doing a new show, to figure out how things are going the first few weeks of rehearsals. There is so much to learn and figure out, costumes to be fitted, music and parts to learn, a set to work out. Yesterday we sang the whole show through and I was fascinated to see how far we had come. It is always gratifying to turn a corner like that in rehearsal, and feel the whole production has truly started to come together. My brain might explode with all the learning and singing but at least I would have died doing what I really love. I am learning so much working with this amazing cast and it doesn’t hurt that the material is by America’s finest, Stephen Sondheim!
My body has taken some getting used to the schedule though and I’m usually exhausted by the time the Monday (day off) rolls round.
Did you read about ‘snowpocalypse’? The name the media gave to the two snowstorms that battered the East Coast? I was pleased not to be in DC at the time as I had some friends down there who were telling me they had to get through four foot snow drifts to get to shops and that their cars were frozen in place in the snowy wasteland! One friend was trapped in the house for two weeks! Yuck. I was safely tucked up here on the twelfth floor in NYC with my new friend Dragon. He is a Dracenea Arborea (Dragon Tree) and he is six feet tall! I have always had a terrible way with houseplants before but for some reason, when I passed Dragon in the shop window, I had to have him. It’s like he was calling out to me… We get along very well. I sing to him and talk to him and he is thriving. And I am glad to be the recipient of all the oxygen he produces. It’s fresh and oxygeny. I wonder if he likes his name…
Well. Even though today is a day off, there will be hours spent with my head in the script, learning songs and scenes. To achieve this, I now need to get out of bed (and it’s 10:30am) and wash my tiny mind and filthy body.
Leave me be to get cleaned…
even the Mad Hatter Wasn't This Late
wednesday 28 april 2010
I have been meaning to send out this update for a while-but just couldn't get enough time to sit down and actually get it all done-so here I am at last. We have finally finished the long preview period for Sondheim on Sondheim and have opened the show. I am pleased to report that it is going well! You get to a point in rehearsal where you really don't know how an audience will receive your work. The last few days of rehearsal and the entire period of tech can be stressful because on the one hand you desperately need an audience and on the other hand you wonder if the show is ready to be seen by the public. As so often happens, everything came together and we had a memorable first preview. It was an enthusiastic and very friendly audience who happily gave Barbara Cook the show-stopping ovation she deserves. It will get dull if I insist on declaring my undying love for Ms Cook in every update I write, but I will say that getting to sing "Beautiful" with her on stage is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
It is exciting to be part of a new show on Broadway. When I first arrived in New York with Taboo, I didn't have any idea what "Broadway" would be like and I think that show was such a singular experience. Being in the company of Cyrano was fun, but a play is a different beast entirely. For me, the challenge of keeping your voice in top shape for 8 shows a week is exciting. I love my job wherever I am, but there is something nice about rolling out of bed, heading into Times Square and standing on stage with people whose work I admire. Sometimes in the hectic chaos that comes with building a show it is easy to forget what an exciting project I am a part of and what a dream-come-true all of this really is.
March 22 was Steven Sondheim's actual 80th birthday. The Roundabout Theatre did all sorts of things to celebrate, including a performance that I took part in. In her one woman show At Liberty, Elaine Stritch said something about how the approval of Sondheim kept her going through dark times. I understand now exactly what she meant. It feels good to make him happy and there was lots of happiness going on around his Birthday performance. The most exciting thing was that NY has finally named a theatre for Sondheim. He knew nothing about it, and they told him at the curtain call of our show. It was a thrill to be on stage on the night they made the announcement. Even though I totally believed the rumour that they were giving him golf clubs...
Other things have been happening as well. I have been keeping quiet about this news but it has been difficult because I am quite excited about it. However, it has been officially announced so now I can discuss here how much I am looking forward to playing Anatoly (the Russian) in Chess at Signature Theatre. Rehearsals start immediately after Sondheim on Sondheim closes. So it's back to DC for a wee while for me. I can't wait to sing that great score and finally do more than just concert work at this great bastion of awesome regional theatre that is Signature.
I'll best start working on my Russian accent now though, I wonder if drinking vodka will help...
monday 5 july 2010
An eon has passed it seems since we last spoke. The dinosaurs may have been roaming the earth the last time I had a free second to write a journal entry. A lot has happened, the dinosaurs are dead now.
How are we? Did you have a good celebration of Independence? It always leaves me a little sad to know that those stupid, red uniforms helped us get our asses kicked. Another empire collapses only to allow one more to rise. I watched the fireworks from the end of my road in Arlington, Virginia. I thought of many things whilst the gunpowder exploded in the sky but mostly how nice it is to be away from the fast pace I've been keeping up in NYC.
Sondheim on Sondheim has been closed for a week now. I miss singing Beautiful with Barbara Cook every night. Though I am determined to call her every once in a while and make her have a sing through of it with me. On the drive home, I switched on the radio and there she was, singing Baby Mine. Beautiful. Plus, we recorded the cast album in early June and once that is released in August then I can sing along with the track on the CD. It's going to sound great so do look for it when it comes out!
At Avatar Studios recording Sondheim on Sondheim
Performing that show was exactly the start to 2010 I needed. Good solid work singing a master's songbook and meeting some very influential and important people. It also led to me being asked to sing the opening number for Broadway Bares this year!! For those of you who are unfamiliar with BB, it is a charity event for Broadway Cares where many of Broadway's finest dancers, strip and get naked for charity! Not wanting to be left out I decided it would be a good idea to take my pants off too. Of course, one needs to do some topiary if one is to get ones tackle and milky white bottom out in public. That's where Vanessa Williams' knowledge of the J Sisters salon in New York came in very handy. She arranged for me to visit one of the sisters (who brought Brazilian waxing to America) and there, that very same day, I found myself lying on a counter with my legs in the air (staring up at signed pictures of very famous ladies wondering if they had lain here too) whilst a very sweet woman waxed the hair from round my lower portions. Odd as it was it feels lovely to be so freshly bare and the audience truly appreciated my shiny new rump. I was terrified of course but managed to tell some filthy jokes to help me get through and when things got really scary, I introduced Vanessa herself and Kristin Chenoweth to help me finish the number and all was well from then on! If you didn't get a ticket, sorry but it was a very special, nude night!
Then the curtain came down on Sondheim's 80th birthday revue and one quick house party later, here I am back in VA with one free week before I begin rehearsals for Chess at the Tony® winning Signature Theatre in DC. It's a soundtrack I have known since I was just a little boy and what a pleasure this summer will be singing that music and being directed by Eric Schaeffer of the Million Dollar Quartet fame!
My job can be so wonderful and exciting, never knowing what opportunities it will afford but it can really break your heart as much as it can thrill sometimes. Lately, I have been experiencing the thrill and the heartbreak in equal measure. You may have heard me mention in previous journals another show that I have been working on for some years. It is called Behind The Limelight and is about the life of Charlie Chaplin. I had the privilege of playing the great Chaplin himself over several workshops and fund raising events and have been looking forward to playing this role in production for such a long time. There have been many false starts and times when I thought the show was surely going to happen, only to be disappointed that something didn't work out and the production fell through. I came to count everyone involved in Limelight as valued friends and felt certain that someday the show would happen. Well, my certainty was right. This wonderful show finally has a public life. Out in San Diego at La Jolla theatre. Now, for the sad part. I can't be there as it runs concurrently with the Chess production!! When I found out that Chess and Limelight would overlap and there was absolutely no way I could do both I was naturally very upset. I couldn't believe that I was in this position. I know it is a position that many actors would envy-- too many great jobs to choose from! I partly wish I could be in this position more often but to have to make a choice between two projects that I care so much about was very, very difficult. In the end, I had to turn Limelight down. I was all signed up to Chess and was raring to go so that was that. You just never know what's around the corner eh? And I'm not going to let being too busy ruin my summer fun and my bliss at singing Benny and Björn's excellent score and working in a theatre I have always wanted to work in with my dear friend Eric. There was really no wrong choice just a hard one...
Plus-- I have had other things to occupy my mind. I felt recently an urgency to switch agents, which sounds like such a simple thing but in fact has not been at all easy. Personalities were clashing in my last place and I never really felt 'part of it' there. You just know when it's time to go for the good of everyone. I am, at last, with a new agency (Stone Manners) with a team I really like and trust and I look forward to our happy, busy future together. It took up a lot of time and energy but I am relieved to have all that behind me and can't wait to see what the fruits of this decision will be.
So, as I said, I have one week of freedom to enjoy before Chess begins in earnest. I am taking myself to Williamsburg to meet up with my old Civil War reenactment brigade and I might take myself to see my friend Max's directorial debut in West Virginia too. Max and I met working on Howard Katz in NYC a few years back and have become very firm friends ever since. Maybe I'll take a Smokey Mountain holiday for a night whilst I'm there too. Nothing's stopping me till July 12th.
All my summer lovin' to all my friends out there.
Have a great season and maybe I'll see you in Virginia over the next few months?!
And it'll be my birthday soon too. I'm looking forward to sitting around wondering where my hair and looks went...
Take care, be safe
CongRATulations To Me!
sunday 26 september 2010
Great news, since we last spoke I have adopted two Russian Blue Dumbo rats! I'm a rat lover now. They are adorable and sweet and they came home on September 13th. You have to get two because they are such social creatures, they crave another rat for company and they really need to be in pairs (or more but a pair is all I can handle first time round). They are brothers and are almost identical, little white spots on their sides being all that tells them apart physically. The kind woman I adopted them from assured me that I would be able to tell them apart from their personalities. I never thought this would be possible but here we are, two weeks on and she is absolutely right. Marc is outgoing, funny, gregarious, adventurous. Antony is shy, reflective and the much bigger eater of the two. That's right, I called them Marc and Antony.
Marc in a towel (he only looks tan because of the light; he is
indeed the same colour as his brother, blue/gray)
Antony in the cage (with his brother Marc curled up behind him)
I highly recommend rats as pets. They are amazing to watch and to interact with. They just love climbing up my shirt and nesting in the sleeves of my jacket!
So, Chess has been up and running at Signature Theatre for two months now. I have been having the most amazing time. I haven't enjoyed myself this much since… well, since I don’t know when. This is one of my favorite scores ever written and it is as much fun to perform as I imagined it would be. The problem with Chess has always been the tricky book—but we have made some changes there, too. Response has been tremendous and we were able to extend for a week, but it isn’t enough for me. It has just flown by. I will really miss this exciting show and all these great people I have had the pleasure of working with. There is usually one bad egg or something behind the scenes that drives me crazy but there has honestly been nothing or no one as a negatively influence in this show. It has reinvigorated my love of theatre. What a shame for it to come to an end and I haven’t felt that in an age…
I’ve been doing some exploring while not working and I have discovered some good news and bad news about Arlington, Virginia. The good news is that this city has a planetarium! Everyone who knows me knows how much I love planetariums. There is something so remarkable about the joy of sitting under that domed sky with the entire universe sparkling just out of arms reach. Of course it would be much better to sit under the real night sky in Arizona or Utah but whilst in New York or another major light-polluted city, the planetarium is all we have and how wonderful for Arlington to have such a resource right here!
Which brings us to the bad news. Budget Cuts. Earlier this summer it was announced by the Arlington County Public School District, who run the David M. Brown Planetarium, that it would be closed due to lack of funding. There is a group of concerned citizens who are desperately trying to raise the needed funds but they are facing an uphill battle to reach their fundraising goal of $241,000 by the end of December.
The planetarium is situated outside of Washington and Lee High School—which is where Sandra Bullock was educated. I wish I could just call her up to see if she has any spare change that she could throw at this cause. I seem to have lost her number—but if anyone has it, please help me to get in touch! I spend a lot of time advocating for arts in education but science education is also so vital. The school board argues that the internet has made such a learning center obsolete—but I disagree. How could a monitor ever replace an experience like this? A visit to the planetarium is, I fear, the closest to space travel that the average person will get in this lifetime and it far outweighs staring at blinking images on a home computer
See for yourself, check out this clip. Just this one time Fox has produced a worthwhile piece of news. Or maybe you feel like helping out yourself—You can go to:
I took up a collection at work and the company members of Chess were able to put together a nice donation for the fund, but we still have a long way to go.
When facing such a daunting task, it helps to remember that sometimes the little guys do win. I am pleased to report here that McDonald’s has settled their stupid law suit over their rights to the prefix Mc!! (See my previous rant on this subject in my January 2010 diary entry) Although everything is finally settled, I still vow never to eat McDonald’s unhealthy, greasy crap again. Cutting that from my diet has been an absolute blessing and they are a thing of the past for me. I did learn from the law suit story though, that it is best not to call my latest campaign “Save The McPlanetarium” if I want to avoid litigation.
Oh, changing the subject entirely, add these dates to your calendars folks. I am returning to Centerstage in Baltimore in mid-October for another weekend of concerts with Bryan at the piano. I will be there Thursday 14th through Sunday 17th. I really enjoyed my time there last year and I am thrilled to be returning. Save that weekend and come hang out with me in Maryland, the state where my baby rats were born!
I just got off the phone with my Mum. I am in the throws of planning a trip home, my first in six years. Six Bloody Years… Can you believe it?! I have run out of excuses and have been doing lots of saving this year so I really feel it is time to go home. I’ll let you know more when I finally book my seats but I hope for a trip to Loch Ness whilst I’m there to visit my old friend Nessie!
My lucky family has just returned to Scotland after a Baltic Cruise. Not bad—I’m eager to see their photos. Just hearing about it makes me long to go on some amazing adventure in some far off land… Or Scotland, wherever I can get Peter Pan to fly me to…
Check out the Flickr section for some new photos that I have added!
And one final thing… If you haven’t read The Help by Katherine Stockett, you really must. I just finished it and was hooked after three pages. Check out the Euan’s stuff page for more info on this wonderful book.
Enjoy Autumn (Fall)
WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL YOUR LIVES?
thursday 23 december 2010
Hello People! Hope the festive season has been good to you so far? Christmas is right around the corner and I must say it's very exciting. I haven't felt this enamoured with holiday season in a very long time. I guess it helps that 2010 has been a good year for me! So much so, that I will be sad to see the end of it.
But not too sad, since in the very early new year I am going back into the studio to record another album!! It has been a while since NewClear and I have been excited to work on another recording project for an age. I am still teamed with the Lyric Partners label and will be back at Bias Studios in Northern Virginia. More details to follow so keep an eye open!
Another reason not to be too upset to see the back of 2010 is that I am finally returning home after six years. I leave for Scotland on March 1st. I'm only going for a week but after so long away an hour would be fine. Just to hear the Scottish accent and spend some time with my supportive and far away family. My little sister has got married and had another baby since I last saw her! Ridiculous really how long it has been. I'll take lots of pictures and put them on this site!!
As well as working on two exciting theatre productions this year, I have been involved in quite a few musical workshops recently and have still managed to gig all over the country. Now all of this has left me little free time but when I do get a moment to myself I sit down with Rosetta Stone DVD and learn Spanish! I decided this year if I was really going to retire to Mallorca in the Balearic Islands then I should be much more proficient at speaking their language. I love this Rosetta Stone way of learning. Though whether I could carry out an actual conversation remains to be seen…
I've also found some time to explore. Whilst I was ensconced in DC working on Chess I managed to use a few of my Mondays (the theatrical day off) to go sightseeing in the area. My favourite recent discovery is Luray Caverns in Virginia. It is unbelievably beautiful. Luray sits in the Shenandoah Valley and the cave system itself is otherworldly, with some of the most incredible natural formations anyone has ever seen. It's a 2 mile journey hundreds of feet underground, but the caves are so massive (some of the formations are hundreds of feet tall) that there is no feeling of claustrophobia. The part I loved most is called Dream Lake where an underground lake mirrors stalactites hanging from the ceiling. The effect is truly magical. It looked like an artists rendering of a far away planet. The closest to interplanetary exploration I'll ever get! In August they light the whole place by candlelight and I’m already planning a return trip to see what that looks like.
This formation is called The Wooly Mammoth.
This picture shows the cave in comparison to people.
Me at Luray Caverns
There is also a museum on the grounds full of antique cars AND a wonderful outdoor maze which doesn't look very impressive at first but once you are in it, it's actually quite difficult to navigate your way out of! Really a fun day out but stay away from the shop that sells blocks of different flavoured fudge if you have a sweet tooth like me. I made myself so sick after eating four huge blocks of vanilla and maple fudge in the car on the way home!
My Mother has just told me that she has sent me a Christmas care package containing, of all things, MORE FUDGE! And another sugar filled Scottish treat called Tablet. It's glorious stuff but not recommended for those with ADHD… the sugar might send you off the map. Here's a link to make your own… Tablet Recipe. Try it. You'll love it. But don't overindulge (as I often do).
So. That's almost it from me. Just to let you know, Marc and Antony (my rats) are doing fine. They are huge now. It is a bit harder to train them than I thought it would be but they are loving and sweet and spending time with them is always a highlight of my day. Does that make me sound weird? They seem to like me a lot and they are so much easier to handle than your average human being… I plan on building a more vigorous training regime for them next year. Big things afoot for the boys and me!
Have a wonderful rest of December and an amazing entrance to 2011. I have begun to like Kathy Griffin a lot more than I used to so maybe I'll watch her and Anderson Cooper ringing in the New Year on CNN live from New York City. She's definitely funnier after a glass of festive wine or two…
My fondest wishes to you for the coming year and I hope you'll be searching for my latest album very soon. I leave you with its title: Caledonia, Songs for the Homecoming.