GO FOR THE
14 August 2002
Voice: God or Merman is described as a
story of two men who went looking for God and found Ethel Merman instead.
Steve has been writing the music for this show for
years, though he didnt know it at first. But
as he began to look at the music he had been writing lately, most of which had something
to do with a quest for meaning in his life, a search for God, if there is a God, (or
perhaps a search for spirituality), he began to realize that there might be a show in it. Not exactly a sequel to The Last Session, but something completely
The show has gone through countless incarnations,
from a review that promised that God will actually appear on the stage, using a cast of
thousands (okdozens), special effects
.glitz! glamour! God!, to something
significantly more simple. When Steves
life partner, actor/playwright Jim Brochu began looking at plot points (script ideas), the
thing began to flow. Its now the
autobiography of two guys, each on his own quest for faith, looking for answers to
questions, and searching for meaning to life, how their paths crossed, and how they
finally found their simple faith (the title of a song not in the show at present, but which neatly sums
up the basic story, and which may yet be worked into the show).
The plan was for this show to be given once, at
the lovely Laguna theatre (a significantly longer drive from LA than I realized) and see
if anybody came and if there was any audience response.
As the discussion about the show built up on The Last Session e-mail list, and as I knew that my
own song, Us Catholics was to be a part of it, I knew that I had to be there.
Crazy to spend money to fly to LA overnight, but I couldnt not be
Dr. G very nicely agreed not to schedule patients
on Monday and to give me the day off. My
friend Michael suggested I fly down a day early so he and I could hang out together (and
when I learned about the Judy Garland exhibit, I was thrilled that there would be enough
time for us to go together, since were both Judy queens.)
So Sunday was devoted to hanging out, and going to
Southern Baptist Sissies and Monday morning was
for Judy and Hollywood.
Monday night was The Big Voice.
When I last left this saga, we had just left Fox
studios and were headed to Laguna Beach. Id
never been in this little beach town, with a lighthouse built into the side of a cliff,
beautiful homes hugging the sides of the cliff, or perched on top, little theatres and art
shops galore, a lovely beach, and a good vacation hideaway (or a place to live
if youre filthy rich).
We stopped at the theatre when we first arrived
and I made sure that Steve arranged for me to take pictures of the show. I didn't
want a repeat of the fiasco in Cincinnati last year, when I tried to take pictures for him
and got in trouble with theatre management. It
was fun seeing Steve before the show because he was so enthusiastic about my weight loss. I hadnt seen him since Rochester and that
was lots of pounds ago.
Michael and I left the theatre and met
Maggie and another friend, Sonia, down at an outdoor beach food court, where we had a
lovely Mexican dinner (good BevI stayed on my diet, with a piece of grilled salmon
and lots of veggies).
And then the show.
For one thing, the ~400 seat house was about 2/3
full. A wonderfully gratifying house. While lot
of the regulars in Steves claque werent there, some
diehards were, but even better were how many unfamiliar faces were there. Its like going to a Lamplighter show and not
knowing anybody in the audiencewhich means the word is spreading and other people
are discovering what youve known all along.
The show itself was amazing. Steve and Jimmy telling of their mutual
backgrounds (Steve wanting to be a Baptist minister; Jimmy wanting to be Pope) and the
various stops along the wayin song, anectdote, a bit of exaggerating and
manipulation to make it all work. And of
course Jimmy singing my song (OKso Steve wrote the music
and Jimmy adapted some
of the lyrics to suit the timeframe in which he was singing, but I still think of it as my song!). Act
1 ends with their fateful meeting on board a cruise ship, and Jimmys invitation to
Steve to move in with him.
Act 2 begins 17 years later, 17 years during which
they have moved to California, acquired two cats, and been committed to each
otherand the cats. There are bumps in
the roadSteves diagnosis of AIDS and how they coped, writing The Last Session, a brief period when they went
their separate ways, and all bringing them up to today.
There was lots of laughter, some sniffling during the emotional parts, and a
well-earned standing ovation at the end.
a wonderful show. And, thankfully, it will
have more life than this one night. The
director, who owns a theatre in LA (much closer to Burbank airport!) is going to run it
three weekends in Septemberand since I will just happen to be down there one of
those weekends, for a bridal shower, I will probably have an opportunity to see it again. There is even talk of perhaps bringing it to San
Francisco for a few performances.
Its that good.
(Steve says the word "AIDS"
for the first time.)
It probably wont change peoples lives like The Last Session did, but who can create a miracle
like that twice? This is a solid, funny,
emotional, highly entertaining show and Im hoping that it has at least a decent
Critics rating (I couldnt help
When the show was over, Steve
announced a special surprise birthday party for Jimmy and everyone had champagne and
birthday cake. There was hugging all
...we collected $300 worth in CD
sales (Steve donates the proceeds to Youth Guardian Services, an on-line "safe
place" for gay teens), and then that long, nightmare of a ride home on the 405, which
was a parking lot for the better part of an hour.
What a wonderful way to spend a Monday evening,
even if I did have to be at the Burbank airport at 5:30 a.m. and pay $40 for a cab ride to
the office when I got to Sacramento!!
(Oh--and Dr. G not only brought me some breakfast,
he also made me a delicious lunch and drove me home after work, since I didn't have a car
and it was a bazillion degrees outside.)
Thank you for nominating my entry, Moving On for a DiaristNet award!