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Friday, February 18, 2011

"Working" Press Junket (Broadway In Chicago)

Stephen Schwartz walking around in old person white sneakers.


Every now and then, we get invited to really strange things that are totally awesome. For example, a few weeks ago, we got invited to have a meet and greet with the cast and creator of the new Broadway In Chicago show "Working", now on stage at the Broadway Playhouse.

I'm not a huge musical theatre fan, but was actually pretty excited to meet Stephen Schwartz. Schwartz composed Wicked, Pippen, Godspell, and a bunch of other shit, too.

When I arrived in the morning at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, I didn't know what to expect, so I decided to wear a sweater and tie which turned out to be right, even though I was still the weirdest looking dude in the room. While I'm at it, let me tell you what this thing was like:

I was WAY over my head here. The Ritz-Carlton is a very fancy hotel. I go up to this ballroom with this other black guy from undoubtedly a black guy website and Janet Davies from ABC News. We get up there, and there's tons of cameras and junk and then some press guy comes out and tells us that Stephen Schwartz wants to play a song or two for us.





Janet Davies' sweet ass blocking my view of the legend.


So this dude plays a song called "Fathers and Sons" from Working (which was beautiful) and, besides the cameras, was just played for me, the black guy, and Janet Davies. I had a private concert with Stephen Schwartz and I was abuzz with excitement and grandeur!!



The cast of Working sings the hits.


Then the entire cast of the show came out and did a couple numbers. There was a piece sung by the legendary E. Faye Butler, and another by the glamorous Barbara Robertson. This whole day was super fun so far and not anywhere close to being over!
After the songs were sung and the last bagel had been shmeared, it was time to do some work and get serious about doing my interview.

My press contact told me to go set up in the corner of the room, not too close to the black guy or piano, and far out of the way for Janet Davies and her 47 cameras. As I was waiting for my first interviewee to show up, I was prepping my area and scoping out the competition. I know that Eric and I are just two thirty year old dudes with a dream and a can-do attitude, but sometimes when we try to bring you the exclusives, it's easy to feel inferior to the others. For example, as I was getting ready, I saw the black guy setting up his portable studio equipment. Janet Davies was talking shop with one of her numerous assistants, making sure the coffee is ready and her couch is comfortable, and I was...Oh no, I have a major hole in my sweater! As I check out my sleeve, the edge of the table I'm sitting at cuts my finger open, and as a finger cut can, started bleeding profusely. So now, my only clean piece of notebook paper, used for interview the Legends of Broadway is stained with the sanguine fluid of a thousand mendicants.

Do I have time to go to the restroom and try to bleed this out under warm water? No! It's time to get to work and bring home the scoop.

The first guest to my Gore Cage is none other than the illustrious Gene Weygandt. A lot of younger actors in town might not be familiar with this man, because he was already pretty fucking famous and has been ever since. Gene came up with the rest of the early Steppenwolf crew at Illinois State University (Redbirds! Flying High!) and moved to Chicago in what must have been the late 70's/early 80's. This was when there were only a couple companies you needed to know. They were Wisdom Bridge, Igloo, Remains, and Organic. These were the companies to beat. Now if you've ever seen Gene Weygandt before, you know that he has an infectious smile, a loud voice, and the mischievous eyes of a dark and magical fox.
Weygandt recently played the Wizard in Wicked, so this was another chance for him to work with Schwartz.
"Such a nice guy, and I am so blessed to just be around guys like him." Weygandt smiles.
We talk and talk about everything from his favorite restaurant (Petterino's) to where he lives, ("I will always call Chicago my home") to what next steps I should take with this gaping and bloody wound on my hand ("You are sort of grossing me out, kiddo").
Well, we are laughing and visiting and having the best time ever when our session has ended. Gene has to go back to rehearsal.
Before he goes though, let me tell you this. We should look at actors in our community like Gene and Barbara Robertson and be humbled that someone so great and known on Broadway and U.S. stages everywhere would be so happy to still call Chicago his or her home. Their kind fled to New York and L.A. when the companies around here gave them an outlet to television.
"Fuck it, man! Let them come to us, right?" Gene chuckles as he floats back into his light portal. An amazing talent with an amazing transporting light portal.

So, after I was asked to leave, and dripping blood on the marble flooring, I hit the cool Chicago air with my face and thought about how lucky I was to be a part of this great town and have such incredible and unparalleled experiences.


Go get 'em, Chicago! We can do it!!



Broadway In Chicago
A+

Gene Weygandt
A+

-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

3 comments:

  1. This is Storyteller Marketing at it's best. Who can resist a story with blood, Gore and sweaters with holes. We have all been there. I love the piece but respectfully still call Boston my home

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  2. The article was really great...i love it the way you have presented it is good...great job done by you.

    ReplyDelete