Mondays With Michael

Mondays with MichaelJanuary 8, 2018

The New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!  Now that all the celebrations are over and we’re settling in to 2018, it’s time for us to ramp up to getting our season going.  I hope, by now, you’ve seen our season announcement—and I hope you’ve enjoyed my appearances a) in the red dress and wig, and b) flashing the passers-by, going “the full monty”.  Special thanks to my director Jeff Duke and my producer Kent Barrett. 

Even though we have a little breathing space right now, in a few short weeks we’ll begin a very exciting time for RMRT.  It’s Audition Season, it’s Hiring Season….it’s planning season.  In the next few months, we’ll travel and meet over a thousand people who hope to become part of our RMRT family.  My first pleasure is offering previous employees the opportunity to return to the company for another season.  It is such a pleasure to welcome back a person for their second/third/fourth/fifth season–People who have become our friends as well as our colleagues.

Our most extensive effort is certainly our Audition Tour in search of actors to populate our stage in our shows this season.  We’ll kick off the Tour in Denver very soon, and wrap it up in New York about a month later.  Jeff and I see and meet so many energized, talented performers.  Taking this list of 1200 auditioners and turning it into our 2018 company with 4  complete casts is an annual labor of love.  I’ll post pictures of the “headshot matrix” later in February.

Finally, this year is presenting us with another amazing challenge/opportunity.  ANNIE!  Children’s auditions.  We’ve announced our children’s auditions, and we’re looking forward to seeing some amazing young people—we need several girls for ANNIE, and one young man for THE FULL MONTY.  If you know someone who might be interested in auditioning, point them to our “Audition For Us” page for more information. 

And…..we need a dog!  OMG!  I have been producing and casting theatre for more than 25 years, but I’ve never been in this situation before.  Hey, Grand Lake, anybody have a VERY WELL TRAINED medium-sized SANDY BROWN dog who would like to be in a play 21 times this summer?  Give me a call!

Happy New Year, Everyone!  Here’s to an amazing 2018!

–Michael

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December 11, 2017

Gratitude.

Today, briefly, I just want to express my gratitude.  Recently, we participated in Colorado Gives day—a statewide philanthropic movement.  In addition, recently a few of our RMRT fans made some big donations—and when I stop and reflect, I’m really moved by all of this generosity. 

There are many people for whom Rocky Mountain Rep is an artistic home.  Actors, singers, dancers, musicians, directors, designers, choreographers, stage managers, carpenters, painters.  I don’t know if they are aware of how we stay afloat, or how we are able to write their paychecks. 

I am….and I’m grateful to every single one of you who have donated to our cause.  Of course, we appreciate our ticket-buying patrons—almost 20,000 of you this past season!  At this time of year–long after the curtain has come down on the previous season, and long before the curtain rises on the new season—my gratitude goes out to each donor.  I know there will be some more end-of-year donors as well….it warms my heart, just like a nicely warmed cup of Glogg. 

Thanks to all of you.

Happy Holidays, and I’ll write again in the new year, after we’ve announced our 2018 season.

–Michael

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December 4, 2017

Tis The Season!

Since the Thanksgiving holiday is over, it is crystal clear, everywhere you look, that these December holidays are upon us.  Throughout my career, for the 25+ years that I taught in schools, and the same amount of time that I’ve been a free-lance performer, December has always meant lots of work.  So many concerts and performances to prepare and perform!  Now that I’m not teaching school, or performing with the Chicago Symphony, or taking every caroling gig I could get offered, I have time to December-breathe….and…perhaps…enjoy the month.

For us at Rocky Mountain Rep, we’re thrilled that our annual Christmas Shows have become a tradition—a tradition for us to prepare and perform, and a tradition for many of you to attend and enjoy.  At RMRT, Jeff and I have the privilege of choosing some of our favorite performers and inviting them back to Grand Lake at this magical time of year.  In addition to rehearsing and performing the “show”, we also have some other traditions backstage.  Once the show has been prepared and set, we have some videos to shoot.  Maybe you’ve seen them on Facebook or on our website.  We’ll have some fun greetings to post, and we’ll also have our big 2018 Season Announcement video to post—it’ll be up on Facebook and on our website, and in an emailing, January 1.  We’re excited to tell you our plans for the 2018 season!

We also have enjoyed adding events to our traditions.  Now we include a major snowmobiling adventure on Monday morning for the cast and crew of the Christmas Show.  (We’re hoping for snow in the next week!)

And….let’s talk about New Year’s Eve at Rocky Mountain Rep.  Have you heard?  Are you coming?  Last year RMRT alum and Broadway performer Joe Carroll helped us usher in this new tradition.  This year, we’re thrilled to continue this new RMRT tradition.  The perfect prelude to those amazing Grand Lake fireworks over the lake—in the clearest, coldest air.  The fireworks are even more amazing than the July 4 fireworks—if you can imagine that.

As I anticipate my personal December, I’m thrilled that I get to prepare and participate in these Grand Lake traditions, and I’m equally as thrilled that so many of you come to join us. 

Will we see you at the theatre this holiday season?  I hope so.

See you soon…

–Michael

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November 27, 2017

It’s all swirling around! 

My goodness….we just finished a brief Thanksgiving holiday, and suddenly it seems like everything is in high gear!  Remember my first blog post, where I talked about “the off-season”?  It doesn’t feel like the off-season any more….it definitely feels “ON”.

We’ve got everything set for our annual Christmas Show, and we’re definitely looking forward to turning on our theatre lights, firing up the sound system, and welcoming our theatre-going friends back to our auditorium.  Were you wondering what singers were coming back?  It has been on our website for a while, but we’re happy to welcome back audience favorites Cecilia Iole, Suzanna Champion, Jamie Dillon Grossman, Kyle Ashe Wilkinson, and Jens Jacobson.  We’re also happy to have Kent Barrett back after a short absence to run things from the technical side, with Sam Dahnert in the booth, too.  And we’re thrilled to finally bring Kevin Disch to Grand Lake, to play for the shows.  Kevin has played piano for our Chicago and Denver auditions for years.  He has been on the RMRT team, but has never been to the actual theatre in Grand Lake—I’m so happy that the schedule has worked out so he can spend a few days with us in Grand Lake.

We’re also thrilled to be planning our New Year’s Eve show, preparing to welcome back Matilde Bernabei to the stage…but in a new way.  While Matilde has been a strong theatre performer in many shows on the RMRT stage, on NYE she’ll be showcasing her music.  She is a wonderful singer-songwriter—you may have caught a glimpse at a “Late Night In The Lobby” cabaret.  We can’t wait for this special evening. 

While both of these events are in the works, we’re all prepping to announce our 2018 season!  And we’re bursting at the seams to tell you about it.  I hope you’re on our mailing list—the internet e-mailing one.  On January 1, we’ll announce the season on our website, via an email blast, and on our Facebook page.  I wish I could tell you here, but….my contract won’t allow it.  I might be convinced to drop some hints from the stage at the Christmas Shows….maybe…If someone asks me to in the lobby, I could be convinced.

So, for now, we’re preparing.  We know these next weeks will go fast, and suddenly the holidays will have passed and we’ll be in the middle of our Audition Tour.  For now, we’ll look forward to seeing you at our holiday performances. 

Have a good week!

–Michael

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November 20, 2017

Shaking things up a little…

I like to shake things up every now and then.  If I feel like we’re in a rut, or stuck in a repetitive pattern, I want to change it up…even though I might secretly be afraid of change.

We’ve been thinking about our Audition Tour a lot recently.  As you may know, Jeff and I travel A LOT during the month of February each year.  We usually visit four cities, in a mixture of “unified” auditions and our own.  For nearly 25 years, the Mid-West Theatre Auditions (MWTA)  in St.Louis, have been part of our Audition Tour.  A few years later we added the Unified Professional Theatre Auditions (UPTA) in Memphis, Tennessee, to our travel plans.  At these two auditions, they set up the weekend.  They recruit the talent, they register them and plan the whole weekend, and we (along with many other theatrical producing organizations) attend, watch, and choose who we’d like to hire.  In a typical MWTA weekend, we’ll see approximately 300 auditioners, along with 20 or 30 other producers.  In a typical UPTA weekend, we’ll see about 600 auditioners, along with 60 or 70 other producers. 

About 15 years ago we started doing auditions in Chicago—our own auditions…not sharing with any other producers.  We started with a half-day and about 20 auditions.  This year we’ll be holding 4 full days, and many hundreds of young hopefuls. A few years ago we started doing auditions in Denver, too. 

It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort—and a lot of “sitting and listening.”  But, by sitting through all of these many hours of auditions, we are able to find the hottest talent that is out there to bring to Grand Lake each season.

For a few years now we’ve been feeling like it’s time to expand our audition scope.  Almost since the first days we’ve been asked “Why aren’t you holding auditions in New York”, “When are you coming to New York?”  So…this year…for the first time, we’ll be hearing auditions in New York.  We have some good alumni friends who are helping us get started—thanks Andrew Cao, thanks Emily Waver.  We’re looking forward to seeing how holding auditions in this legendary theatre city can help us with our goal—to constantly improve the quality of productions we present on our home stage in Grand Lake. 

And, for the first time since I’ve been associated with RMRT (remember….I started way back in 1995)… we won’t be seeing that lovely Gateway Arch over the Mississippi, or dining on “the Hill” after our first night of auditions.  I’ll miss you, St. Louis.  But…we’re gonna take a bite out of the Big Apple this year.

I’ll let you know how it turns out…  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

–Michael

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November 13, 2017

The “off-season”…

It’s my first blog entry….I’m not sure who will read this, if anyone.  But I’ve committed to writing a blog…so…here it is.   I’m going to share some thoughts each week for our loyal Rocky Mountain Rep fans.  I invite you to reply, engage, provoke, respond, encourage…reach out to me and communicate.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As I’ve traveled this past week, I’ve thought about RMRT’s “off-season”—it’s the season during which we don’t produce our big musicals.  We have performances scheduled nightly, as you know, during June through September.  During the other months, the lights in the theatre only come on for Home For The Holidays—two performances in December, and New Year’s Eve—one night at the end of the year. 

What do we do in the “off-season”?  I’ve recently been asked “Are you just getting ready for next summer?”  Yes, that’s part of it.  RMRT is truly a year-round company.  In addition to myself and Jeff (Duke, Artistic Associate), there are three other members of our team working steadily—and maybe more busily—during these “off” months.  Call the office, stop by…you’ll meet them…Katelynn Roberts (Administrative Assistant), Jennifer Mace (Communications Manager), and Dennis Mills (Facilities Manager)

On Monday of this past week, Jeff and I traveled to Healdsburg, California, to meet up with a wonderful group of RMRT supporters who all bought/won a trip to wine country as part of our annual gala Cabaret Live Auction.  The highlights of the trip—in addition to the wines of several wineries in Sonoma County—were certainly cabaret performances by a couple of our favorite RMRT alumni.  Travis Taylor took a couple days off from the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and Sarah Bockel took a couple days from the national tour of Beautiful:  The Carole King Musical to come to Healdsburg and perform two intimate Cabarets for these loyal patrons.  I had the pleasure of playing piano for them…and it was an awesome experience!  It was so wonderful to re-connect with these outstanding, thrilling performers, and to be a part of the interaction of all of these members of the extended RMRT family. 

Two years ago the “Cabaret Extra” travel experience took us to New York City, to re-connect with alumni there.  Last year, the “Cabaret Extra” took us to Chicago to re-connect with alumni in the Windy City.  This year to California.  Where will RMRT go next year?  Stay tuned…  Got any suggestions?

See you next week….

–Michael