I’ve been singing with the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus for nine years now, and it seems that every time a show comes up I’m bound to get sick… somehow.

This year is no exception. Last week I was off work for two days with a viral respiratory infection, and this week I was nearly sidelined by some type of bug. Whatever it was, it brought a fever, pain in my lymph glands, and a bright red rash on my upper lip. Oh yeah… I was looking SEXY this week!

But somehow I made it through ok. Today I am feeling pretty good. The lip problem is almost gone, and to top it all off, the weather looks like it’s finally changing back into springtime. I took the day off of work (which has also been hellish lately) and rested all day. I’m ready to go for the weekend.

Sidetrack V: Sidetrack With A TwistSo tonight is opening night for CGMC’s “Sidetrack V With A Twist.” At first I was a little less excited about the show because I don’t have any big standout numbers. Call it the curse of a diva, but hey… it happens. But now I’m actually glad that I don’t have any big numbers in this show. I can stand back and enjoy it without worrying about costumes, makeup, remembering lines, or making any grave mistakes in front of hundreds of people. Less stress = more fun! And fun is a really great word to describe this show.

The Sidetrack shows basically re-create favorite numbers from musicals old and new, live on stage, with performers in full costume (in most cases). Shows represented this year include “Wicked,” “Will Rogers Follies,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Best Little Whorehouse In Texas,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Mary Poppins,” “Dreamgirls,” and “Hairspray.” And that’s only half of the shows.

At last night’s dress rehearsal I was asked to take publicity photos because the person we had hired canceled. So I got to see the show from the audience’s perspective. I will say this now… if you are in the Chicago area and have about $25-$40 to spare (and the time to spare as well), see this show. It’ll be a fun, hilarious, and wonderful night. You won’t regret it!

Friday, April 20 – 8:00 PM
Saturday, April 21- 5:00 PM and 8:30 PM
Athenaeum  Theatre
2936 N. Southport Ave.

Spring Break

Crabapple Blossoms closeupSpring is here, and things are once again getting hectic in the life of your friendly neighborhood RcktMan.  So I’m going to be taking an indefinite “Spring Break” from the blog until things die down a bit.  Of course, if something life-changing happens, you’ll hear from me… but at least I don’t have to pull the rest of the teeth out of my mouth just to come up with a post to make sure you don’t think I’ve jumped off of a cliff or anything.  That is, if I haven’t actually jumped off of a cliff.  Which I wouldn’t. 

You get what I mean.

Anyway… I’ll be around, reading blogs as often as I can. 

BTW if you live in the Chicago area or are traveling here in mid-April, make sure you get tickets for CGMC’s Sidetrack V: Sidetrack With A Twist!  I don’t have any big solos or numbers in the show or anything, but it’s going to be a really great show, and I’d love it if you could come and see it.

Happy Spring, everyone!

How I Handled the Holiday Havoc


It’s over.  Amazing how quickly it passes by, with all that buildup and anticipation leading up to it.

Yes, I’d been dreading the holidays, and yes, I had the occasional breakdown or freakout moment.  But you know what, it’s natural to do that at this time of the year.  Who doesn’t have an emotional meltdown during the Christmas season?  Who doesn’t wake up one morning in a cold sweat, suddenly realizing that absolutely NOTHING has been done in preparation for the big event?

I’d been trying to tell myself that this year would be different and harder to deal with simply because my dad wouldn’t be there– well guess what?  It was just as crazy, just as painful, and even just as wonderful as any other year.

Christmas Eve was probably the strangest time during the weekend.  It was there that my family really felt the loss of everyone who had left us this year.  Madge would usually be running in and out of the kitchen, preparing food, making sure everything was just so, and mingling with the guests.  Dad would not have been there anyway, but he certainly used to go.  And in recent years I would make him a plate and bring it home to him so he could enjoy his traditional Italian fare with everyone else.  This year, we didn’t need to do that.  And Arlene would have made an appearance, bringing homemade chocolates or cookies for everyone to enjoy.

But now they are all gone.  And the night felt especially empty without them.

But even with the emptiness, the family managed to enjoy the night as best we could.  We shared a lot of stories, and enjoyed each other’s company.  Because we’re family, and we have to stick together, no matter how hard life gets.

In truth, the one and only time I really and truly had an emotional breakdown during the entire holiday season was at the Windy City Performing Arts holiday concert.  I no longer sing with the group, so I was in the audience with my good friend Perry, and at the end of the show (which was magnificent), they performed “Silent Night” interspersed with another song called “Night of Silence”. I had heard this ‘mashup’ before many years ago, but it had been a long time since.  It’s really a gorgeous piece, and the choruses performed them absolutely beautifully.

However, what happened at the end of the song is what I wasn’t prepared for.  The chorus membership stood at the perimeter of the church, circling the audience.  The song ended with the familiar “Silent Night,” and as they sang, they were interpreting the words in sign language.  One by one, a part of the music was taken away– first the piano, then the words (to a hum), and then all trace of sound.  The only thing you could hear was the movement of arms signing the words to “Silent Night” in utter, pure silence.

This moment struck me like a freight train and absolutely wrecked me.  By the time they finished, I was absolutely sobbing.  Something about that moment was the wake-up call for me.  I thought of my Dad, I thought of all the other relatives I’d lost this year, and I thought of my family.  There was no really good reason for this– it’s not as if “Silent Night” was my Dad’s favorite song or anything– It was just the power of the moment resonating something in me that brought all of those emotions bubbling back to the surface.

Since that moment, the holidays got easier for me.  I sang with CGMC the next weekend, I threw my party the weekend after that, and I even got all my Christmas shopping done.  Then I packed up the car, drove to Mom’s, went to my Aunt’s for Christmas Eve and my Sister’s for Christmas Day.

And somehow I survived it all.

In the end, we all did.

Hope you had a great holiday as well.

Just when you least expect it…

Sundays are always a whirlwind of activity… especially when I go to visit my mom for the weekend.  I usually spend the night there on Saturday night and leave on Sunday– and early enough so I can get home, get all my things up the stairs, and rest a bit before chorus rehearsal.

This was the case today.  It was a hot and muggy day, so all I really wanted to do was sit in the air conditioning and relax.  But Chorus is a major commitment– and I want to honor my commitment.  So at 4:45 I headed out the door.

Rehearsal went fine, even if we just about passed out from the humidity. (The church hall we rehearse in has no air conditioning– not much of a problem considering we spend most of our time there in the cooler months, but in the late summer/early fall it can be brutal.)  After rehearsal, we headed out to Sidetrack for some drinks and week-ending celebration.

Usually not many guys go out after rehearsal.  I’m one of the lucky folks in that I don’t have to work on Mondays until 11:30am, so I can be a little more liberal with my going-out schedule.  And since I was out of town all weekend, I really wanted to go out for a bit.  I always need a little “gay recharge” after a weekend away. 🙂

When I got to the bar, it was jam-packed with people.  Sidetrack has its ever-popular “Showtune Nights” on Sundays from 4-9 and Mondays from 9-close; and they are, by far, their most popular nights.  People crowd in the place– especially in the original “main” bar– and belt out showtunes being played on the video screens at the top of their lungs, occasionally tossing napkins in the air at certain moments, and shouting comments back at the screens where commentary doesn’t really exist. 

By the time I arrived, showtunes was just about wrapped up, and was about to segue into the “Retro 60s, 70s and 80s” set, which most people enjoy just as much as the showtunes.  I wandered around to find my friends Ricardo and Jason after stopping to chat with a few people.  I found them in the smoke-free “glass bar.”

Ricardo was talking to a few people, as he always does.  He’s quite the social butterfly, and I mean that only in the nicest of ways.  He’s one of the sweetest people I know… and he has the amazing ability to go up to a complete stranger and strike up a conversation.  It’s an ability I wish I could muster the courage to obtain– but instead I just sit back and watch the master at his work.

After a while, Ricardo started talking to another guy… one I thought I may have seen before, but figured that it was only because he was so strikingly handsome.  Eventually Ricardo introduced me to him.  And as per usual, when I meet people at a bar, the person’s name goes in one ear and out the other.  It’s not that I’m ignorant or anything; it’s just that it doesn’t really matter if I retain his name, especially if our meeting is just in passing.

But when this mysterious, handsome stranger decided to stick around with us and sing along with the songs on the video screens, I slowly began to realize that his attention began to move away from Ricardo and was being directed to… me!

Now I’m not one to pick up on signals, usually.  But the signals I was getting from him were not just someone having a good time and being silly.  This guy was being very flirtatious.  And I was sweating like a whore in church.  Mainly because it was so humid in the air, but also because I’m not used to this kind of attention.

It was rather exciting.

At one point I asked him “How do you know Ricardo?” figuring that Ricardo just started randomly talking to him as he does with so many other guys. 

Oh I’ve known him for a while… from here and there…” he said.  “How do you know him?”  He asked. 

“From the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus,” I said.  “Hence why we are always singing all the time.” 

“Ah… that explains it all!”  he said with a smile.

Eventually he left for a bathroom break, so I used the opportunity to pull Ricardo aside and ask “Hey… what is his name again? The one that’s singing with us right now…”

“Oh you mean ‘him’*?”

“Yes.. that’s him.  I couldn’t remember his name.”

“Oh he’s such a sweetheart, Rick,” Ricardo said.  Then he added with a sly smile, “And you should know, you are very much his type.”

“Really….” I said. 

“Really.”  Ricardo replied.

“Well I’ll be damned,” I said to myself.  “I wonder if this was a setup or something.”  But I didn’t care.  If he was interested, I know I was interested too.  The guy is completely my type as well.  Dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, a little shorter than me, athletic build, but not ‘perfect’, great smile, great personality, great laugh… and he’s interested in ME!? 

So when he came back and reached out for a big hug… I knew I needed to see this guy again.

The rest of the night we sang along with a bunch of songs and just flirted with each other some more.  There wasn’t much “getting to know you” to be done… but when it came time to leave, he said “I’d love to sing some more songs with you sometime.” 

I said with a slight smirk, “I would too– but how on earth would we contact each other to do that?”

He pulled out his Blackberry.  “Well, what’s your number?”

I gave it to him, and he called my cell phone.  And then he gave me his full name, and I gave him mine.

As he left, we hugged again and I said “Call me.” 

He said, “I will.”

So that’s the end of my weekend.  Just when you least expect it… a possibility opens up. 

I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

* No name yet.  Not until I know something more “for sure.”  Sorry. 🙂

PadCast #12: The Show Must Go On

10 Commandments: Brothers10 Commandments: Grrrrr

PadCast #12_ The Show Must Go On

In all acutality, the show is OVER. But what an amazing show it was!! I’m not talking about my podcast– I’m talking about The Ten Commandments: The Musical. What a great show it turned out to be — and so much fun!

But all good things must come to an end, unfortunately. Except I’m kinda hoping this show has another life very soon. It was THAT good. Just ask Spencer and Mark… they saw it and sent some lovely kudos my way. Thanks, guys, for heeding my command. 😉

On today’s show I talk about the Chorus show as well as a few other things going on… and about how I nearly quit the podcasting world altogether. I’ve changed my mind since then– but I still have a lot of things to sort out where this show is concerned. I want to take it in a new direction. Not all about me… but about a lot of things. I just don’t know where to start.

I guess in that respect, “The Show Must Go On” refers to this show as well.

Have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them.

No music in this show… just me and my blabbermouth. 🙂

Have a great week!