After Chautauqua I took a little (big) road trip from New York to Washington to unpack the last three years. We passed through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Idaho and Washington.
Some things I did:
Caught up with friends and family in Chicago (the most underrated city ever. I really miss living there.)
Had big margaritas at a theme park in Wisconsin while discussing the social and economic pros and cons of strip clubs.
Visited the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana.
Saw Mount Rushmore. (It’s a “memorial” but what is it memorializing?)
Visited a traditional wild west town in South Dakota.
Won $175 on a roulette table. (I have a new addiction)
Sang “Creep” by Radiohead for karaoke at a gay bar in downtown Coeur d’Alene (not the best upper song for karaoke night but I CRUSHED IT!!!!)
Ate at one of my dad’s favorite venues he plays on his tour called Moon Time.
Met a really nice black cat named Jasper in Coeur d’Alene.
There is just so much space in this big, old, red an blue country. I wonder how the entertainment industry remains so over saturated in just two cities, NYC and LA, particularly when they are becoming more and more economically unsustainable. Montana was particularly gorgeous, I mean breathtakingly open and clean and picturesque. We drove through some patches of bad smoke from the forest fires there, but I couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to start a little company or take a writing retreat.
The most beautiful landmark I saw by far was the Columbia River in Washington. They way the water funnels in is just gorgeous. It was incredibly quiet and arid. There is a great Woody Guhthrie called Roll on Columbia Roll on that you should listen to. It evokes the tone and feel of the space.
Roll on, Columbia, roll on Your power is turning our darkness to dawn So roll on, Columbia, roll on Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through Down her wild mountains and canyons she flew Canadian Northwest to the oceans so blue Roll on Columbia, roll on
Hope to make another trip soon, maybe in the winter.
The Non-Equity Jeff Awards came and went and as expected it was a night to remember. The cast performed “The Black One” in the New Work category. Between Passing Strange and Violet, Bailiwick Chicago was nominated in over 10 categories. In addition to newly appointed Artistic Director Lili-Anne Brown, I’m expecting big things from the company in the future.
When I looked out at the audience from on stage, at all the people I have worked with over the past 4 years, I had that “so THIS is what I’m doing with my life“. At least I’m not the only one. Congrats to everyone for surviving another year in the life of the theatre.
The cast of Spunk!bid adieu to the Court Theater this past weekend. It was a very successful and heartfelt journey. Working at Court is like being temporarily adopted by a really kick ass family. The creative team and staff work together to put a piece up and go out of their way to include you in their traditions. How many casting directors make huge pots of gumbo, bread pudding, and a mound of cornbread muffins for the cast and team every show? Casts have been known to literally run off the stage to get a bowl of Cree Rankin’s food on “Gumbo Day”.
It is going to be particularly difficult to say goodbye to jazz phenomenon Kelvyn Bell, “The Kelvynator”. His fervor for arts and music is inspiring to say the very least. With his help Whitney is now on the path to becoming a 4 star scat singer. Kelvyn has a wealth of stories and experience and is one of the most creative minds in music and theater. Oh well… until Whitney’s next job at Court Theatre, we will be dreaming of Cree’s Gumbo!
We are only four days away from the premier of NBC’s The Playboy Club! The show will air this Monday Sept 19th at 9pm. The entire process has been a great and we can only wait to see how it is all going to come together. The show is blasting us into the early 60’s when American culture was rapidly changing, from developing women’s rights and the civil rights movement, to music, and fashion. On the show Whitney plays a club singer. Check out a promo shot below:
Go to the official site to meet all the bunnies, read interviews and more.
The Uptown Sound is a soul outfit based out of Chicago that brings life to classic jams and mixes them with their own original pieces. This Friday they are performing at Doubledoor, and throughout September they will be touring Spain and Italy.
I have to give a shout out to the recently opened Paris Club. The restaurant and lounge feature spectacular service, stunning property features, and classy French flare. Did I mention the DJ was on FIRE???? Looks like Chicago is getting more Hollywood every day.