Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spirit

This cast has been such a tremendous blessing for Claire and me to work with. They each bring SUCH energy and "spirit" to their work. They did a run-through of "On the Radio" last night and blew me away. I was so proud of them!

My singers are so talented and fun. They are very generous with each other and have an incredible working relationship. It's so great when a cast clicks with the right chemistry! Let me tell you a little bit about my singers...

Zoie Morris is from NYC. She was in Ragtime on Broadway and did the National Broadway tour of the Scarlet Pimpernel. she has numerous other regional theater and television credits (Law and Order and others). You should see her do Tina Turner. It is amazing!

Amy Bloom is brand new to ships but an extremely gifted vocalist. She's from Los Angeles and got a call last night to do a roll on Comedy Central but said she was glad to be here with us! We are too, Amy! What a gift! Her portrayal of Elphaba in "Wicked" is incredible..."Defying Gravity" blows me away!

Jeff Pettit is also a talented actor and singer. Ironically, I saw him in Big River several years ago playing the lead role of Huck Finn. He was fantastic. I remembered him when he came to audition for us and I am so glad he's in this cast. He is right at home as Link in "Hairspray"!

Graham McMurry recently got off a Celebrity ship...the Millineum. I heard him for the first time in rehearsals for that ship and loved his voice. He is a great addition to this cast. He's got a lot of soul for a white boy. :) He and Jeff both rock the songs from "Movin Out" (all Billy Joel songs.)

The dancers are all sharp and great performers. They are all hard workers too (singers and dancers). They are self motivated and extremely professional. Working with casts like this one make me realize how much I LOVE my job!

We are headed into our final few days of rehearsals. Tomorrow will be the final run-throughs for all the producers and office. We'll have our cast dinner tomorrow night and then leave early sunday morning for New York. You can feel the buzz of excitement from the cast. I can't wait to see them out there on stage for the first time!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Comfort

What brings you comfort? For me, there are certain people, songs, scriptures, even pillow cases that bring comfort. I had lunch with my mom today. That brought comfort. Spending time with Mike Cope last weekend--that brought comfort. Waking up early with my kids today, walking downstairs holding hands and then piling on the couch where they literally all nestled on top of me...that brought comfort. Sheryl's kindness and tender touch bring comfort. She is a gift. "Supper Soup"... a beef and vegetable stew that my family has eaten for years...brings me comfort.

Sometimes comfort looks funny or even crazy. For instance, Sam found a pacifier that belongs to little Evy Tate Williamson. He has it hidden somewhere (we can never determine where). Every now and then when the girls are overwhelming or when he just needs a "smoke break"...he goes in the den and hides behind one of the chairs and takes a hit on the paci. He'll sit back there quietly and just suck away. Comfort.

Today the heads of entertainment at NCL are here watching some of the run-throughs. My cast is nervous but they will be GREAT! I will be out there cheering them on and smiling as big as I can. Hopefully, familiar support will bring comfort today.

Because I believe in God and in the mystery of all that encompasses Him. It fascinates me that the Holy Spirit is referred to as The Comforter. Comfort is really something that is hard to define because it's different for everyone. Isn't it cool that God knows each of us and what makes us tick and meets us right where we need Him?

Just out of curiosity...what brings you comfort?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rehearsal Craziness

It is a bee hive of activity at the rehearsal studios right now. We have three big casts in with more than 40 performers...not to mention all the production staff. Everyone is so incredibly gracious and wonderful to work with. I thought I would load some video to show you what our world is like right now around the studio...

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Some members of the Jade cast...rockin it out!

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The women dancers in the Spirit cast workin' on part of the 70's section from "On the Radio".

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The NCL Spirit singers are working hard...this was the day we learned the Radio show. They made huge strides in one day!

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Amy sings the Donna Summer classic..."Hot Stuff". After listening the other night, Ella was walking around the house singing, "I want some pasta baby this evening...I want some pasta baby tonight..."

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The Spirit singers working on the finale of "Radio"..."Cup of Life"

We leave a week from tomorrow....whew! ONE MORE WEEK to get evrything ready! I am NOT looking forward to being away from my family for two weeks. UGH! But, I anticipte it being a really smooth cast hand-over.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We've Got SPIRIT, Yes We Do!

My spirit cast did a run-through of Broadway yesterday for the producers and Dave (our general manager/director of entertainment). They did a fantastic job!!


Two of our singers...Graham McMurry and Jeff Pettit

The cast on break

Opening of Broadway

"One Short Day" from Wicked


Swing



" Good Morning Baltimore" from Hairspray
Thanks to everyone for your comments and requests. I will get those clips sent out today as soon as a can. They are only samples of the songs but it will give you a taste!
Happy hump day everyone!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Seriously...FOR THE LOVE!!!

So apparently, it's still not working. Not sure why.

As a peace offering...the first 15 people who comment asking for a clip will get it. Please specify which songs (no more than 3) and leave your email address.

Shalom!

For the LOVE...

OK...I reformatted and put them back on as mp3's. Please try again...click this link and let me know if it's working this time. Sorry, friends! :)

http://www.esnips.com/web/ZOEFearless

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sample Clips of "Fearless"

Here are some sample clips of ZOE's upcoming release called "Fearless". For those of you unfamiliar with ZOE--it's all vocals. This will be our 12th CD (or is it 13?)

Sorry for the faulty posting earlier...try this...

Click the link and it will take you to esnips where you can hear all the clips. Let me know if this works for you...

http://www.esnips.com/web/ZOEFearless

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"We're the class who's really great, senior class of 88!"

Yeah...apparently, our class chant wasn't the most creative...but it rhymes, right? I had an absolute blast this weekend at my High School reunion. I haven't seen a lot of those folks since our ten year and some since High School. I had so much fun laughing and catching up. I took a lot of pictures...imagine that!

On Friday night we all met at the hotel and mingled and visited for 7 straight hours...CRAZY!

Shawna Duff Hutcherson, me, Dusty Waldrop, Joni Humphrey Taylor and Shannon Hosch Lawrence

Michelle Balthrop Box and I were drum majors for 3 years together. She's a nut! Her laugh is exactly the same as it used to be.


Shawna (who was my singing partner all through school) and Kirsten were some of my best friends.

On Saturday afternoon I drove out to the house I grew up in. After my father died, my mom sold it in 99 or 2000. (It was so hard to see her leave that house.) I drove up in the drive way and the owner was outside so I got out and introduced myself. He said, "Oh, you're the guy who's feet and hand prints are in the cement in the backyard by the shed!" He took me back there and showed me...two small hand prints and feet prints with my name and a date (1977) in the cement. It almost made me cry! He was so kind. He showed me all around---even the barn where he had painted a big Texas flag on the side. He even invited me inside and allowed me to take pictures (which I am not posting here out of respect to him, but if any of you old friends are reading who remember our house, email me and I'll send some to you. It's crazy different!)

I shared some history with him that he never knew. I told him about the banisters and columns being from my great grandparent's house and that my grandfather had built our barn (which he said was very well constructed). It was quite a trip down memory lane. It honestly was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Here are a couple of pictures of the house from front and back.


I also stopped in to see the Lorenz family. Ronnie and Darla were my parents' best friends since before I was born. I had a nice visit with them. I miss them a lot.


Saturday night was our reunion dinner out in Buffalo Gap at Perini's Ranch. It was a beautiful night and a lot of fun! It was such a blast to reconnect with old friends and hear about each person's journey and life. Some have fallen in love with Jesus since High School and it was especially cool to hear about their lives.

me, Jayme Baker, Shawna Duff Hutcherson, Shannon Crowe Zachary, Steve Denton


Terry Brooks Lovelace, me, Kirsten Bond Deiley, Dana Rogers Dunn


Mike and Heather Walvoord

Shannon Hosch Lawrence, Dana Rogers Dunn, Tracey Street Justice, Kirsten Bond Deiley


Eric Balthrop and me. Eric was a great friend in HS.


Mark and Tonya McClellen and me


Michelle Balthrop Box and I were looking at yearbooks and I think here I was saying, "Who in the world is that??" How can 20 years erase memory?


Cari Moore (wife of Matt Moore), Heather Walvord, me and Mike Walvoord. I loved seeing them!

As always, Shannon Hosch Lawrence, Shawna Duff Hutcherson, Shannon Crowe Zachary and I had to huddle and offer commentary on the entire weekend. I laughed until I almost wet my pants. Dusty Waldrop was a bundle of energy and everywhere at once. And Kirsten had to be rescued. Some things never change. And...I actually saw a man riding a horse down the side of South 1st downtown. Gotta love Abilene!

Another blessing in the weekend was having a nice long lunch with Mike Cope on Saturday. He's such a true brother and friend. I really don't know what Sheryl and I would do without him and his pastoral care and real honest friendship. It's so rare to find someone so willing to share their own failings who's also willing to walk through thick and thin with you. Mike has been that for me for more than 15 years. I love him!

Today I am flying home. West Texas is beautiful in its own way...but nothing like the rolling hills and lush landscape of Nashville. The beauty of Abilene is directly connected to the hearts and lives of those who live there. The people are what makes it so lovely. And that is alive and well!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel who played Elphaba (the green witch) in the original Broadway cast of "Wicked" and who also starred on Broadway and on screen in RENT is in town tonight. The Producers at Gary Musick were all invited to see her and so we're all going. I really love her voice and have for a long time. I am interested to see what the show will be like.

Meanwhile, rehearsals are going well. This cast is great and seem to have wonderful working relationship with each other.
Last night Sheryl and I sang at Otter Creek with Bobby Colvert and some of his blue grass friends (who were all amazing!). It was interesting being back there and in that room. But, it was geat seeing faces and hugging friends we hadn't seen in a while.
ZOE clips....I promise, they're coming. I just have to have time enough to load them!

Thank you, Amy Westerman!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

ZOE Recording and SPIRIT rehearsals

Thanks to Chris Yoakum (our most excellent engineer) we had an awesome studio this year. We normally record at 1st Avenue Sound in Franklin, but it was booked this year and so we ended up in a different studio. It was awesome! Take 6 and Boys to Men recorded here and it is GREAT for vocals.

One problem though...in the mixing room, there were these low hanging orange lights. I about knocked myself out every single night. I even cracked one by running into it. We all know I wasn't blessed with grace in walking. I'll dance all day, but ask me to walk and I might kill myself or take someone else out.


Chris and BST
ZOE---the last night of recording (we were missing Philip Organ). Randy Gill was with us some throughout the process too. He wrote a song around the Fearless theme...INCREDIBLE!

Meanwhile, my Norwegian Cruise Line SPIRIT cast is in and we are deep into rehearsals. We're living in the Broadway show this week. I've got Hairspray songs flying around in my head!


The cast of the SPIRIT on their first day--pictured here with Claire (choreographer) and me.
L-R...Jeff Petitt, Dean Reilly, Shane Gould, Megan Scully, Amy Bloom, Zoie Morris, India Payton-Granderson, Topher Burks, Claire Williams... and in the front row...Carissa Bellando and Vicki Surtees. It's a great group!
ZOE recording rough clips coming soon!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Foncho Loves Hairspray part 2

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Go down and read post number one and watch that video first.

Foncho Loves Hairspray

The Norwegian Cruise Line "Spirit" cast arrives today. Tomorrow we hi the ground running. I love these shows so it should be really fun. We've got an exceptional cast coming in.

Meanwhile, the cast out there right now is counting the days until they get a little break. Here's a clip from one of their shows called "On Broadway". This is a clip from "Hairspray".

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In the news...I've mentioned some things about the funny things my kids say. They are constantly cracking me up. I may have mentioned that Sam made up a new word... "Foncho". Early on it was a derogatory term used to describe the girls when they made him mad. Now, like most words, it's taken on a life of its own. It is now a term of endearment as well...kind of like "Buddy". I have to admit that it's so catchy, I've adopted it myself. Come to find out, "Foncho" is the name of a hip hop Hispanic artist...as well as a city in Africa. Who knew?

Recently, while staying with a sitter, Ella was watching High School Musical. During "Get Your Head in the Game" she asked the sitter if she had seen "that boy with hair under his arms". The sitter nervously said yes and Ella continued, "My mommy has hair under her arms just like that boy--but maybe more than him." (Sheryl actually gave me permission to tell this!)

We are hopefully finishing up recording tonight and tomorrow. We're trying to get 4 more songs completed. Tonight we'll shoot for finishing:

*What Can I Do

*Revelation Song

It's Monday...4 more days til my High School reunion back in Texas. Anyone want to guess which number this one is? Who knows, maybe I'll make out my name tag as "Foncho".

Sunday, July 13, 2008

High School Musical and l'Ete du Vin

Last week the girls and Sydney went to High School Camp. Yes, it exists. They had a blast. Friday afternoon they did a final performance and rocked it out! It was so fun!


This whole week Gary and I have been preparing for l'Ete du Vin...Nashville's very successful wine auction and fund raiser for the American Cancer Association. The ball room at the Loews Vanderbilt hotel was transformed. Gary did a GREAT job in pulling off an absolutely beautiful evening! I was glad to get to partner with him for such a great cause.




Thomas Arvid is a famous artist who donated his time and this painting to the auction. He's such a nice guy. Check out his website...amazing. http://www.thomasarvid.com/

I'm guessing this bottle of wine is much more valuable closed than open (check the date--1879). But I wonder...what WOULD it taste like? Turpentine? Overall the event raised about $500,000 for cancer research. It was a great night.
We're home this morning with sick kids. My new cast for the Spirit comes in tomorrow. I am looking forward to meeting them!

Friday, July 11, 2008

I am experimenting, thanks to Kevin, with putting video clips on the blog. This is a small clip from the Interstate Batteries show last month in Washington D.C.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Recording has been going well! We've done 9 songs now...

Mighty to Save
At the Cross
Hosanna
Sing, Sing, Sing
Beautiful Jesus
Majestic (Lincoln Brewster)
God of This City
O Church Arise
Stand and Shout

We are producing the l'Ete du Vin wine auction this week...check out their website. http://www.nashvillewineauction.com/ It's an incredible event and raises a lot of money for a very worth cause. It will be a long few days, but it's going to be a beautiful event!

Meanwhile, the JADE rehearsals are going well. The shows are coming along nicely and it's been great to meet the guest directors in from NYC. Patti Wilcox, a well-known choreographer, is here working with the cast this week. She's a delightful person. You can find out more about her here....http://www.stepsnyc.com/faculty/wilcox/

I am gearing up for the arrival of the new NCL Spirit cast who comes in this Monday. We'll begin with orientation and rehearsals on Tuesday. Its hard to believe it's already that time! Here we go!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

This is a repeat post from April 2006. Someone had sent me some funny record covers in an email and I posted my favorites. I saw these the other day and laughed again, just like I did the first time. Enjoy...


Bless. How does one respond to that question?


Well, hello, Joyce.

The subtitle of this record should be "Fiddy Cent, the Pre-quel." (notice the green sticker)


OK...scare me. Butch...put the axe DOWN!


Can you imagine the conversation around the marketing table when they were working on this album cover?


Don't miss this toe-tapping, hand-clapping, upbeat record.


My personal favorite. Could they not find a better name? I mean, honestly.

The day after I posted those, Amy Westerman sent this to me as a joke. This is how I feel on the inside just about 97% of the time. :)

Recording was long last night. We recorded...and then RE-RECORDED an entire song because I didn't like a change we had made rhythmically. It was completely my fault...and we did it enough throughout the song that it required basically a re-do.

Tonight we're back in the studio. Pray for us!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Happy Birthday America AND Maddie!

Last night we ended up at Lipscomb University for the 4th of July Celebration. One of our buddies, Zach Wilson was singing there and we went to support him and watch the fireworks. It was a BLAST! We had a lot of friends there and the kids reunited with many of their Otter Creek buddies. The weather was perfect too!

Zach (on the left) is recording with us this year in Jason's place. Jason is too busy to record this summer and Zach stepped in. He's doing an awesome job!

Maddie and Daddy!


Darcy, Ella, Maddie and Sam

The kids all looked hilarious after eatng their "Rocket pops". Sam shows his blue hands.


I captured his of Kevin and Kiki. I love this picture!

Today is Maddie's 7th birthday. She had a home "Libby Lu" party. She had such a great time and Sheryl threw another great party.

The girls started upstairs in the play room. They had music blasting and were dancing. I thought at one point they would come through the ceiling.


The troops are ready downstairs with the pillow cases that Sheryl made for each girl with their first initial. This was one of the stations where they stuffed pillows.


No "Libby Lu" party is complete without the make-up. Here's the make-up table.


One of Maddie's favorite friends...Hannah Smith (friend at school and At Fellowship)

Maddie's birthday buddies

Inspired by "The Princess Diaries", Sheryl lined the staircase with mattresses and the kids all screamed and slid down.


The others waited at the bottom and cheered!


After make-up, pillows and sliding, the kids made bath salts and lotions.


Maddie and her life-long best buddy Sydney Williamson. (Maddie keeps reminding me that she's known her as long as she's been alive)



Maddie's birthday cake

Happy Birthday, dear Maddie!!


Sheryl did a great job planning everything today! Maddie and everyone had a blast. Thanks to Kevin, Kiki, Nikki, and my mom for all the help today.

After the party we packed up and went to see Kit Kittridge...American Girl. It was cute. I would recommend it to families...especially with girls.