It seems that I cannot turn on a radio, browse the internet or watch the news without hearing a story about a celebrity scandal. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie star, pop star, hotel heiress or a political figure, for some reason when a person gains that much fame, they feel invincible.
It seems like these situations have been occurring forever, doesn’t it?
Jersey Boys, at the Straz Center in Tampa, Florida, told the history of the famous Four Seasons pop group and all of the so-called “situations” they were in. Frankie Valli, Nick DeVito and the founder, Tommy DeVito. were four stereotypical New Jersey kids that wanted a way out. As juveniles and young adults Tommy and Nick were in and out of trouble with the law, until Tommy decided to start a group that took different
names until they finally arrived with the Four Seasons in 1960 with the help of writer/producer/singer Bob Guido.
The play brilliantly portrays the history of The Four Seasons in four parts, with each part
narrated by a different member of the band and supposedly reflecting that band member’s perspective on the band’s history. Most of the big hits of the group are sung either in episodic situations or portraying the band on stage either in concert or on television.
A huge surprise to me, was when I opened the program and found the roll of Frankie Valli is portrayed by Hayden Milanes. Hayden and I performed together in a couple of different shows in another life. Without any bias, Hayden’s performance was nothing short of amazing. The song “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, made Frankie Valli’s extraordinary range famous and Hayden seemed to recreate it with ease. Personally, I think the amazing richness in his vocal quality followed with his research of the character honored Mr. Valli to the extreme.
What was even more amazing is Hayden’s talent was only matched by the other members of the ensemble. Nicolas Dromard portrayed Tommy DeVito with the crassness and overpowering attitude of a bully, and sang the harmonies with excellence.
Adam Zelasko portrayed Nick with the quiet determination of the performer that took the back seat a lot of the time, but always tried to help his brother keep it together. Adam’s voice was powerful and played homage to Nick and the rest of the group with perfection.
The biggest corner was turned when the group was joined by Bob Guido, played by Quinn VanAntwerp. I am not a fan of giving extra praise to one actor or another, especially in a show that is ensemble driven, but as amazing as the other members of the group were, Quinn’s acting ability gave him a stage presence that just could not be matched. His singing had this subtle quality, that foreshadowed his actions in the coming scenes. Quinn was nothing short of brilliant which is saying something because all of the actors on stage were amazing.
Another character worth noting was Bob Crewe, the producer that put and kept the Four Seasons working and famous. Barry Anderson’s gifted portrayal of Bob was nothing short of fantastic. Even as a featured actor, he had a command of the stage that allowed him to stand out in the scenes that he was in.
The rest of the actors completed the ensemble with perfection. A few of the actors had multiple roles, and were played with such finesse that it was not apparent unless you read the program.
With all the well deserved accolades I have given Jersey Boys, I did notice a few problems from my orchestra seat. The balance of the microphones seem to be off when transitioning from singing to dialogue as there were several points where it was hard to hear.
The direction while good, had some unusual placement of the actors. There were times when I really needed to see what the actor was feeling, but their back was to the audience. Every novice director is taught to position the actors to face front as much as possible, but in the professional arena, those rules are thrown out the window in order to make room for new visions, art and realism. Unfortunately, there were a few moments where if this rule would have been applied it would have made for even stronger moments within the show.
Lastly, one of the designs I absolutely loved about the show were the sets. They were simple, and clean which allowed for the acting and singing to take center stage without focus going to some special effects. The sets were so simple the actors were even tasked with bringing furniture and props on and off the stage. I haven’t such simplicity since “Spring Awakening”. It added to the charm of the show.
All-in-all, this show is worth seeing. So many times national tours come through Tampa and just look tired. This show is incredibly energized and fun to watch.
A MUST SEE!
September 11th will always remain a significant event in the history of this country. The day when Osama Bin Laden dared to bring terrorism to the United States and unfortunately succeeded, at least at that point in time. Where were you on that day? I bet everyone I ask that question will remember exactly where they were. Me? I was getting ready to go on an interview for a job.
I was just coming out of the shower when the phone rang and it was a neighbor and really good friend of mine, Sue. She told me that a plan had struck the twin towers and to immediately turn on CNN. I swear I told her it must be a hoax until I actually did turn on the TV. I was completely wrecked at the site of the replay of the first plane hitting the tower. As the camera went back live to grab a shot of the destruction, the other plane struck the towers. I was completely floored and I felt like my whole body was over stimulated with anxiety. Then the worst thing happened, I heard another explosion except this time it was not coming from the television. It came from a distance outside my condo. Oh, I didn’t mention that at the time I was living just outside of Washington DC and I had recently separated from the United States Army where I was stationed at the Pentagon.
Within three minutes CNN was relaying the story of the Pentagon. I put some clothes on grabbed my Pentagon badge and left. When I arrived just outside of the gate, guards were already posted at the parking lots and the entryways were fortified. A soldier came to my window and told me to turn around, so I flashed my Pentagon badge and told him I wanted to help. I had people in there and I was a trained EMT and I could at least help triage. He wouldn’t have it. I then asked to him to radio the head of security because I knew him and he knew me very well, but he had his orders and he was not going to make any special provisions. I couldn’t argue with that. All of the military police, security, and medical personnel were all under a great deal of pressure and being that I knew what that was like, I wasn’t going to argue. I turned the car around and went home. It took twice as long for me to arrive at home as it did for me to get there, but after walking in the door and immediately turned on the TV and there I sat, on and off, for two weeks. I was a sponge for information. I made frequent calls back to my old unit asking about people I knew. On that day there were three soldiers who were, subordinates of mine at one time, missing. Friends in other units also missing and two of my mentors pronounced dead; Sergeant Major Robert Strickland and Lieutenant General Tim Maude.
It was a crushing blow for me. I had dinner at both of their houses. General Maude would take me to the Officer’s Dining Room where “a little lunch” was a huge steak and baked potato with all the fixings. SGM Strickland filled in instructing a couple of classes at Ft Jackson when I was in training and then continued my mentorship when I ended up at the Pentagon after Korea. The only thing I could think of was that if I felt this bad, it had to be 100 times worse for any of the victim’s families.
My best friend Sean was living outside of Times Square at the time, and his auditions and work took him all over the city. I immediately picked up the phone and gave him a call, but the circuits were overloaded. I wouldn’t talk to him for three days. The mood around DC and Virginia was somber throughout the coming weeks. It was heavy with dread and confusion, but something positive happened. I noticed that there was very little hostility toward one another.
Everywhere I went I could see citizens going out of their way for one another. For example, an incident that happened to me; the roads were slick after a little rain and I ended up in a 4 car fender bender. Maybe not a fender bender, but a hard love tap. The front car hit the brakes, the car in back of her hit their brakes, then me, then the guy in back of me. We all, got out, looked at our cars and we all had some small dents or paint nicks. My Xterra had part of the bumper had come askew but it looked like it could be fixed pretty easily. The weirdest thing was, no one was mad. We looked at each other shrugged asked if anyone was hurt and basically agreed there was just too much crap going on at that time to worry about such a minor incident. We didn’t call the cops, we didn’t exchange insurance info, we didn’t even exchange names. We shook each other’s hands and went on our way. I saw this happening everywhere I went. Their were customers actually moving their carts to the corral at grocery stores or even helping the employee stack them. I saw two, three, sometimes four cars stopping on the side of the road when a motorist was changing a tire asking if they could help. The whole country was supporting each other. It seemed to last for months before it started to slowly return to the normal disdain.
It was just an amazing sight. I guess the question is why can’t we always feel that way toward each other? Why does the country have to go through an incident of massive destruction for citizens to realize we need each other?
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of people that read my blog, but those of you who do, I challenge you to take an hour every day and think about other people before yourself. As you are in your car, and you see another car that is really trying to merge into traffic but no one is allowing them to enter the line, stop and let that person in. If you notice someone having issues loading groceries into their trunk, offer to help. It is just these little acts of kindness that can change the world as we know it. Lets prove that we do not need a major incident to bring our country together again.
It’s January 9th and I have been trying to provide a base now since November 6th. I think I am doing pretty well. I couldn’t swim 600 yards without changing up strokes from freestyle to sidestroke, to breaststroke. Now I can go about 800 yards with strictly freestyle..at least in a pool. Yesterday, January 8th 2011, I ran the Disney Half-Marathon without stopping in 1:59:32. It is not great, but not that this is an excuse, but it was extremely crowded and I was in the very back of the pack. Last week I cycled 40 miles, with a 5K run at the end. I think as far as my endurance factor goes I am a little a head of the game.
Just to give the story as to why. People think I am nuts…why train for an event where you swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112 miles and then run a marathon? It started two years ago. I had been working my ass off 12 -15 hour days including weekends. I was feeling drained and I was due for a physical with a complete blood workup. Dr. Gold basically said I was in horrible shape. My cholesterol was high, my triglycerides were high, my good cholesterol was low, my sugar was high…I am sure the picture was obvious. This was only 3 years after separating for the second time from the military. I couldn’t believe I let myself get so out of shape.
Kim and I were walking around Hyde Park Village about three weeks later and we walked past Lifestyles Family Fitness. There was a poster in the window for a Boot Camp Class. We went in and contracted to use the gym, I enrolled in Boot Camp and Kim hired a personal trainer to get her started again. Well, from the first class I was hooked. They had these teasers prior to the beginning of the real class and it was an intense 35 minutes of cardio, strength training, agility, stability and core exercises. I loved it, coming from a military background where this is what we did everyday. The difference was the emphasis on form and injury reduction. Well, the instructors, Nicole Sturtze, and Zach Thompson were a hell of lot nicer than my drill sergeants. Two days a week for an hour I put 100% effort and sweat-ed profuciously and loved it. One Monday morning, my eyes popped open at 5:30am and I was wide awake. I thought, eh why not go for a run. I ran for four miles and felt like a million dollars. The next day after boot camp I saw a flyer for another class called Punch & Crunch, and thought, eh why not give it a try. Melissa Trinidad was teaching, and I knew she was one of the top trainers at the gym, not to mention she was really cute. Again, I was hooked after the first class. Boxing paired with cardio and core was awesome. Within a month of starting to work out twice a week, I had now more than doubled my workouts to 5 days a week. Monday, I ran or worked out on my own, Tuesday & Thursday was Boot Camp, Wednesday and Saturday was Punch & Crunch, Friday and Sunday I took off. Next, a friend in Boot Camp told me about this Hot Yoga down the street from the gym. I never sweated so much in my life and felt so rejuvenated afterward. Now I was at 6 days a week.
Next came the game changer – Scott Bragan, another Boot Camp friend, started mentioning the Chicago Marathon and how he was doing it for charity. The PKD foundation. Perocystic Kidney Disease. His mother-in-law had a transplant, his wife was diagnosed with it, and his daughter had a 50/50 chance of coming down with it because she carried the gene. My need to help kicked in, so I decided to talk to him about it, and before I knew it we had 10 members of Team Tampa PKD and were starting a plan to fund raise to a goal of $25,000!! With that we also trained together. Two six week sessions of boot camp, combined with Punch & Crunch, and Yoga allowed my first training run, to be 9 miles. I couldn’t believe I was starting to train for a marathon and I could already comfortably run 9 miles. I was jazzed.
Well, Scott also mentioned another activity he did…Triathlons. I had partaken in a couple of triathlons in high school and I enjoyed them, so I thought, what a great way to break up the training for the marathon by swimming and biking and participating in a couple of sprint triathlons as well. I ended up participating in two that summer, the Mease Plant Point and the Top Gun and loved them…well…except for the swim. I just wanted to get that over with.
We did end up raising the 25000 bucks and then some and everyone finished the marathon with decent times, except for me. I ended up injuring myself two weeks before with a herniated disc at L5/S1 and was in recovery during the marathon. I did go to Chicago that weekend and I did take some great pics, and cheer on my team, but I was really bummed. That was October 2009.
Since then I have been in a few more small races, 5Ks and 10Ks, a couple of half-marathons, three more triathlons and have continued to train. I have not missed a boot camp session since then and I feel I am pretty good shape. Last November a friend from a running group I have been running with, the Blue Sharks, told me she did a couple of Full Ironman Triathlons. I was really impressed. She then mentioned she was going to volunteer at the Florida Ironman and asked if I wanted to go. I thought it would be really cool to see all these elite athletes do this incredible event. I went and had an awesome time and got hooked. I was in the transition tent from the Bike to the Run and the Pro-athletes came in and they were systematic and quick. Then the age-groupers came in and some of them were the same as the pros and some of them just took there time, had a break and then continued on to the run. I was enthralled at the amount of people, and all the types of people that were going through this event. Of course the next part is what really hooked me. About 9pm we all decided to hang out at the finish line. Let me preface this by saying the race started at 7 am, so this was 14 hours after the start of the race…Four…teen…..hours! Teresa (the culprit who hooked me into this) said this was the best part of the race because this is the “regular” people finished. The people who had regular jobs, kids, responsibilities that had to fit all this training in apart from that. Coming over the finish line were women and men in excess of 280 pounds, a blind man, a disabled man, men and women in excess of 60 years old, and my favorite a 16 time age grouper that was 76. Yes, that’s right SEVENTY-SIX years old and he came over the finish line before the cut-off of 17 hours. There are those people like myself who do not look there age. There are seventy-six year olds out there whom look fifty or even 60. No…this guy looked the all of seventy-six he was. This is what got me hooked…if they could do it…I definitely could do it.
I have to mention that I really do not want to be racing for 17 hours. If I finish it in 16 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds…I will be happy that I completed it, but I really do not want to be racing for that long. I found a guy Ben Greenfield who is an awesome athlete and a very knowledgeable athlete whom has developed a plan to get average joes like me through the Ironman with an acceptable amount of training hours that might not completely infringe on my responsibilities. I also have met with a swim coach, my doctor, my chiropractor and a license massage therapist whom is also a bio-mechanics expert and a USAT Level 1 certified trainer. With all this support, I hope to conquer this quest.
At the moment I am doing my own base training right now, with an emphasis on getting comfortable in the saddle of my bike, and becoming relaxed and efficient in the water. Ben’s plan is a 36 week plan, so it does not actually start until the last week in February. I have increased my weekday workouts from an hour to two in order to get my body used to working hard longer, and continue to do boot camp.
Here is to hoping my plan works out, and no injuries or re-injuries will stop me.
Live Strong, Finish Stronger!!!