Broadway West–The Vegas Edition (Blogisode One)

I'm not sure what's better, being called a Broadway vet or the possibility that the picture of Megan Hilty is actually me.

I’m not sure what’s better, being called a Broadway vet or the possibility that people think the picture of Megan Hilty is actually a picture of me.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back.  We have no splashy Fact or Fiction contest today, no Vlog, no celebrities, just us.  Welcome back, regular readers.  It sort of feels like I just hosted a giant party and now a few of us are still here recapping and washing dishes in the quiet.

Who knew New York Magazine had so many readers?

Not me.

And who knows how they even found my humble little blog?

Not me.

It was fun, but now we return to reality, and by reality I mean I am in a hurry because I have to go see Death of a Salesman tonight with my pal Brynn and I am supposed to be working on rewrites for Avenue Zoo.  To give you an idea of how close this deadline is, we start rehearsals tomorrow and open on April 21st.  I am not as much of procrastinator as it may seem–I actually have to run the script through various committees and then do re-writes based on the feedback.  Naturally the committee I care about the most is the 4-year-old who lives in my house and I know I’ve hit the nail on the head if she screams, “Do it again, Mommy.”

Let’s get down to business.  A 30 second recap of Broadway West, the story I abruptly abandoned in February and my PTBF has been begging me to return to.  That is terrible grammar.  What’s right?  The story to which my PTBF would like me to return?  That is just dreadful.  Sometimes bad grammar is better writing, sorry English teachers.  Should that sentence have a semi colon?  Sometimes bad grammar is better writing; sorry English teachers.

Oh no.  It’s going to be one of those self conscious writing days.  I hate it when this happens.  Bear with me, I will try to get past it.  At this point it is a little late for me to get all proper and grammar-y on you.  Next thing you know I will proof read my writing.

And then pigs will fly.

I am in a ridiculous mood.

The point was…..

Oh yes, the recap.

Ready?  (I am literally going to set my stop watch on my iPhone and when I hit 30 seconds I will stop writing.)

GO.

If you think the picture of Megan Hilty is me, maybe you think this is me too.  That would be correct on both counts.

If you think the picture of Megan Hilty is me, maybe you think this is me too. That would be correct on both counts.

I was thinking about quitting the business and then in 2004 I went and saw a show called Avenue Q and then I got cast in it and we moved to Las Vegas to do it.

Done.

Clearly I’m not a very fast typer.  That was 36 words in 30 seconds, so my hunt and peck typing style per minute is a stunning 36+36….(oh god, math) um…..72 words per minute.  I mean…I am CERTAINLY going to get a call from an exec who needs a Mad Men type assistant at any second.  Or from an accounting firm because of my impressive math skills.  Please do not stop reading because you are intimidated by me (more bad grammar).

If you want to seriously catch up, go here.  A word of advice to speed things up, skip all the day to day stuff and just read the story which typically starts half way down.  But I will write the Vegas Edition J.K. Rowling style and give a good solid recap of the more salient points.

Here is the most important thing to please note:  This entire story takes place in 2004, 2005, 2006.  It is NOT

This is New York, New York the Casino in 2005.  We currently live in the for real New York, New York in 2012.  Just so we are clear.

This is New York, New York the Casino in 2005. We currently live in the for real New York, New York in 2012. Just so we are clear.

current.  I can not tell you how many people (and people who are close to me!) think we have moved, or are moving to Vegas.  Nope.  We already did it and we are back.  This is a past tense situation.

Okay.

You might remember that in 2003 and 2004 I was having a bit of a career crisis.  After years of doing British Mega Musicals (I don’t know why I capitalized that, but they were all about capital, so it seems appropriate) I found myself almost un-hire-able.  It my business the phrase we use is “I couldn’t get arrested”.  (Maybe other professions use that too?  If a lawyer can’t get a job, do they say, “I can’t get arrested?”  That seems odd to me.)  There seemed to be a movement away from sung through mega-musicals and even the performers who did them were considered passe.  This hit me particularly hard because I am the only woman who did Cats, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.  I’m not trying to impress you by listing my credits, I’m trying to make a point that when a casting director saw my resume they thought has been, has been, has been.  It was very rough.  People tend to lump all of those shows together even though they all called for different skills and they were all very hard.  Like, sweating blood hard.  So I was very disillusioned when at the young age of 31 (when CATS closed) I was kinda dismissed as a has been.

Please play a teeny tiny violin at my teeny tiny pity party.  Boo hoo, Sharon, you were in 3 Broadway shows.

Fair enough.

BUT, I did have a kid and I needed a job, and I wanted to be in the new and sexy shows….which is a tough nut to crack no matter what is on your resume.

Then, those has been credits worked in my favor BIG TIME when I landed a book deal in 2004 to write a memoir about growing up overweight and then being in three shows that were very recognizable (god bless Cameron Mackintosh).  Somewhere in here I decided to quit the business to be a writer full time, or a casting agent full time, or a mother full time, or a Starbucks barista full time, and just as I was shaping up those very specific plans, I went and saw the brand new musical Avenue Q and all my horrible needs to be picked to play a big part in a funny and filthy show with puppets bubbled to the surface.  I was–once again–back in the game and campaigning to be in a show.  This campaign got me basically nowhere except playing with puppets in my daughter’s bedroom to an audience of one.  I watched them win the Tony Award over Wicked, promise to go out on a sweeping National Tour, and then pull the rug out from under those road presenters to sign a deal with the casino mega-mogul Steve Wynn.

In the musical theater world, this was a very big deal.

Not jeans.

Not jeans.

I did get one audition for the show and then….crickets.  I’d heard they were casting for Vegas, but my phone didn’t ring.  In the eleventh hour they had a second-hander drop out and I made a last minute dive for the job and BOOKED it.  Hooray for me!  I was in a funny and smart show and I got to wear jeans.  Jeans.  On stage.  This is a big deal if you look at what I usually wear on stage.  <—————

So, I start rehearsals with a double cast (2 people per part so we can do a bajillion shows in Vegas–where everything happens on a giant level), and in my off hours I am doing final edits on my memoir.  Major pressure.

Finally, my little family of Rob, myself and our then 7-year-old Charlotte Meffe sublet our New York City apartment, packed things up, and moved to Vegas.  I think our final post of the first series was pictures from Rob’s drive.  Charlotte and I flew on Jet Blue and enjoyed the TV in the seat situation.  I think even on the plane to Vegas, I was in denial.  I mean, I could TALK about moving to Vegas, I could THINK about moving to Vegas, I KNEW we were moving to Vegas, but it wasn’t until the pyramid at the Luxor Casino came into view from 20,000 feet up did it really hit me.

Holy shit, we were moving to Vegas.

To do a musical.

This was insane.

And……panic.

My travel mate was excited, jumping up and down in her seat, commenting on the desert “Mom.  There is NO grass.  I mean just look.  None.  It’s all brown.  LOOK AT ALL THE POOLS!!!!!!!”

We landed and had one of those Hollywood departures from the plane where we actually walked outside to get to the gate.

Word.  It’s hot in Vegas.

Word again.  It’s REALLY hot in August.

I immediately panicked as I looked at Charlotte’s snow white skin.  As we walk through the airport we are visually assaulted by ads with girls in pasties and SEX, SEX, SEX.

New York might be a tough place to raise kids, but Vegas was going to have a whole new set of problems.

(For the next post in this series, go here).

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About Sharon Wheatley

I'm a mother, an actress and a writer. I'm glad you're here.
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