The Prodigal Jo Jo Returns.

Yup - that's right peeps. Hide your daughters cuz I'm back. (I'm assuming that you're hiding your daughters because I might take them to Saks and convince them to run up their credit card with the new Mac eyeshadow shades... other than that... i think they're safe). Anyway - my last few days in Bermuda were chock a block with more attempts to kick the TMJ in the teeth (gettit???) and various and sundry other things. Still - I managed to keep writing away at the Mickey and Judy show. And, about twenty minutes ago, I'm happy to say that draft two is complete and once the Pack Leader has a gander at it I'm gonna send it to the actors. This thing was actually a HUGE job. It needs trimmed a lot - but it's like 90 pages of script. It's certainly the most ambitious thing we've done dramatically at the theatre so far. It's a full theatrical piece where they have to sustain their characters through the whole evening. Which means I had to write like they talk. So in addition to watching all of their movies together, and THEN picking the songs, and then doing the historical research ABOUT the songs, and then doing all the research ABOUT the two of them and the films production... zzzzzz Yah it was tiring. But after I had all the information down, it coudln't just be presented as fact - it had to be presented as conversation and have jokes and gags and stuff. So it's been a heap load of work.

And it's gonna be pretty cool I think. So get your tickets now, people!

Getting everything from Bermuda that was supposed to go back to Indiana was NOT the easiest packing job. It all had to fit in five cases. The good news was that I had sent almost all of my clothing back to Indiana from NY. I arrived on the island with like a pair of socks, jeans and a tshirt. So there wasn't a lot of MY clothing to pack - but there WAS a whole lot of Tempest crap. (Speaking of which - I'm not gonna do a Tempest recap today - but I am going to later this week because i want to make sure I share all that nuttiness with you and the fabulous pics). Pigs heads and headresses and model boats - and so much of it was fragile. ALLLSO I had to bring all my Tempest research (books books books) and our Christmas presents from my parents back (books books books) which adds to the weight. I had an AWFUL lot of help from my Mom - cuz I think otherwize I would have just burned it all and told Rich it was lost in a Hurricane.

DONNA GETS A BUM (BUBBLE) RAP mom-packing.jpg

By this point my Dad had gone on a business trip to Buenos Aires.

WHAT'S NEW BUENOS AIRES? 1-evita-peron-evita1.jpg Short cigar smoking lawyers apparently.

The trip back home was a little crazy. Because of the tommy tune invitation from Mr. Ford, I wanted to get back in time for the evening of the 27th. So finding the flights was a little tricky. I ended up going Bermuda, Philly, Chicago, Fort Wayne. The flight out of Bermuda was fine (if you ever try and travel anywhere with sixty pieces of luggage get a porter and tip him well!). But the flight was delayed. Not a big deal - I had time before my flight in Philly. So that was about an hour delay. Then when I got to Philly my next flight was delayed an hour. OK. Then another hour. Ok. Then another. Suddenly my luxurious three hour layover in Chicago was dwindling down and I wasn't sure I was gonna make my flight to Fort Wayne. They kept telling me I would - but when we hadn't boarded and my next flight was in an hour I was very dubious.

I would also like to say that the United terminal in Philly is NOT designed well. The people waiting for like 6 different gates all have to go through one little tiny aisle between all these chairs like a mouse maze. And you have to squeeze through about 300 people just to try and get to the little check in desk. I was also slightly annoyed that, during my three hour wait, all of the outlets (for my laptop) were occupied by a gaggle of Hassidic Jews. I was sure that the Torah says SOMETHING about airline outlets being unclean. And it was Friday so I kept thinking about shouting out "ohhh..sunset!!!!" to see if they abandoned their electronic devices. Nope.

Finally we got to board. The dude told me I'd catch my flight (ummmmm) and then as I'm about to get on they stop me on the jetway and tell us all we have to check our carryons. WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?? This never, ever happened to me before like the past couple years. i'm convinced they must have like ripped out seats and squeezed more people in to each plane or something because nobody ever took away my overhead baggage until recently. And now it happens all the time. Anyhoo... They had overbooked the flight (again? Whyyyyyyyy?) and they had a standby list of 75 people...and it was three hours behind. So I was like - fine. And, I said "I'll get it when I get off the plane, right" (which is how it has always been every time they've checked my carrryon). And they said "no". You'll get it in Fort Wayne. And I was like WHAT??? The problem with my carryon was everything in it was valuable, everything was fragile and nothing was secured because it was my CARRYON.

In my little bag I had my laptop, our video camera AND our new giant projector lens from the Tempest that costs like a bajillion dollars. And I said to the dude I have a half an hour until my next flight leaves from Chicago - I'm NOT going to make that flight and I don't think my luggage is going to - and you're tellling me my carryon that you just stuck a claim ticket on the size of a postage stamp with nothing on it but my SEAT NUMBER is going to make it????

He said yes. There were about 100 people behind that were very antsy. And he was large. (If Po had been with me, we could have taken him). So I grabbed my laptop and hoped for the best.

When we got to Chicago, of course my gate was about the length of the equator away and I had fifteen minutes to catch it. It was something like this: oharemainmapfinal.jpg

So I sped walked. I couldn't run cuz of my back, right... but I zoomed (like Edward in Twilight without being young, thin, sexy and with much less hair). And I zoomed BECAUSE all the display monitors said: FLIGHT ON TIME I get there. And the FREAKIN' thing hadn't arrived yet.

Not a happy jojo. But the good news about that was my luggage made it. My carry on made it. I made it. Everything made it on the plane except my sanity.

Hurrah. Hoosiers hellooooo.

While I was gone the Najuch's certainly weren't resting on their laurels. (like you thought they were gonna rest! Hah.) All of the seats, are INDEED removed from the auditorium. I gotta get a tripod and take a picture though cuz it's dark in there and the flash doesn't do squat in that freakin' giant cavern. But they have all the original seats removed and out of the building - so that's a huge accomplishment.

Rich showed me our new lighting program that he purchased. It's AMAZING. Rather than use our little manual lighting board (that you had to set each light individually for each lighting change) OR spending about 15,000 on a big new lighting board...this thing allows you to program all the cues and sequences in and run it from a laptop. it's soooo coool. And it means you just have to hit one button at a time - instead of sixteen hundred sliders. And it gives a lot more lighting capacity and flexibility.

NOT BORED WITH THE NEW LIGHTING BOARD lighting-boardjpg.jpg

The big transformation is the new box office area. Which is pretty darn near finished. They sheetrocked the walls... painted it a very sexy red (same as the bar)...and did the trim in black. Which looks realllly good. And they found some really nice crown molding at Habitat for Humanity (which is apparently the new Najuch pit-stop of choice). box-officejpg.jpg As well as some really slick looking black track lighting (which I LOVE)... box-office-lightsjpg.jpg And it ties in great with the molding.

The morning after I got back, while I was pounding out a bunch of newspaper ads and working through draft 2 of the show, Janice and Rich started work installing new floating floor (like Pergo).

THE CONCRETE WAS FER SURE 'NO'...ERGO WE GOT PERGO floor-startjpg.jpg

Which Rich and Janice worked on. And worked on. And worked on. And a few hours later I came down and they had made this much progress... floor-startjpg.jpg

Apparently it was harder than it looks. It wasn't until about hour seventeen that they realized that the instructions were not as clear as they could be. It's tongue and groove ok. It says to put the tongue towards the wall. Which they did. And trimmed out all the tricky areas and started trying to snap it together (it kind of like a giant version of the lid on the back of remote where the batteries go). But it wouldn't snap. Or it would snap kind of like those super crappy cheap zip lock bags that you get together at one end and then the other end opens up and then the you get both ends and the middle opens up.

Yah.

Well - It turns out that what Rich and Janice - and indeed myself - interpreted as the TONGUE was what THEY called the GROOVE. Now if you ask me the groove is the 'female' end and the tongue (since your tongue, y'know, sticks OUT) is the sticky out bit. No.

Bob arrived that evening and pronounced all inhabitants of the building 'morons'. I also would like to add the dumb chinese translator who wrote shitty instructions to that list. Just backin' up the Pack Leader.

But - by that point it was time for Rich and I to head over to the Honeywell Center to see Mr. Tommy Tune. gettin-readyjpg.jpg

I was very very very excited. Not only is he a legendary broadway director but I was hoping he would give the audience some good "working with Barbara Striesand" dish. (he did not). The show was really great. It wasn't like blow your socks off amazing - but it was really good. And THEN right before his last number he happens to mention that he's SEVENTY. And then, suddenly, you realize the show is AMAZZING. I mean the man still dances beautifully and sings sooo well - strong, clear and a great tenor voice still. I was really blown away... So, Tommy, tell the audience that RIGHT WHEN YOU START!!!!

Afterwards we had been invited to Mr. Fords house for dinner and Tommy and his supporting cast (an amazing troupe called the Rhythm Kings) were there. I was really really nervous to talk to him - but Richard made sure we sat down next to him and chatted. RICHARD PLAYS NAME THAT TUNE richard-and-tommyjpg.jpg

And he was just so warm, and kind, and interested in the theatre. The neatest thing for him was that he had been VERY nervous to come to Wabash and perform. He's a musical theater star - very much someone loved by a Broadway-going public. He's not known in middle america. And before the audience we heard a bunch of people saying they had NO IDEA who he was. And to try and give you an idea of how famous he is in theatre circles - it's like Garth Brooks going somewhere and 1,000 people that were in the audience having no idea who he was... He was realllly nervous. But, just like we've found in Huntington, the audiences, when they see talent - are fabulous. And so excited to have the artists come to their part of the world...and so grateful. And he was thrilled. I happen to have worked about five times with a great guy named Noah Racey who just choreographed a show that Mr. Tune was directing - so I had an instant 'degree of separation' as a conversation point. He wished us so much luck with the theatre, and said it was what the world really needed. And he said the nicest thing (which I've never heard before) - when he left he came up to us and said "thank you guys...you've oiled my soul". which I thought was lovely.

So the next morning team Najuch attacked the floor again - it took them all day - but by the end it looked fantastic. I mean really, really nice. It has such a nice impact. RICH IS ON THE LAM-INATE. bo-floorjpg.jpg'

The wacky thing about these floors is that they float. You don't nail 'em or glue 'em or nothin'. That's why it's important to make them snap. Then you surround them by molding and that's it. (They haven't done the molding yet). But it's really sharp, doncha think?

So before long Rich'll be able to drag the desk that he picked up in there, set up his laptop, and have regular box office hours. Which I think people will like. If you're walkin' past stick your head in the window - it's lookin' good. We're going to frame pictures from the shows up there...

In other news - Janice has officially tried her Slanket and seems to like it. Aunt Cheryl however seems to be mocking her because Ellen DeGeneres thinks they are goofy. Ellen - you're WRONG. janice-and-po-slanketjpg.jpg In fact someone was relatively jealous and wanted their OWN Slanket: IM-PO-SITION why-dont-i-have-a-slanketjpg.jpg

They tore down the old YMCA today. A long time ago you blog readers might remember that, when they were looking for someone to give the bilding to, Rich and I were hoping that it might get donated to the Theatre as an annex for events, rehearsals and housing. I suppose it's natural for a confirmed bachelor to gravitate to such an establishment:

village-people.jpg It was still very sad to see such a neat building torn down - but we're all hoping that it the lot gets used for something really nice...like PARKING. Or a Weiner dog farm. IT'S FUN TO TEAR DOWN A YYYYY MMMMM CCCCCC AAAAA ymca-gonejpg.jpg

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By the way - in the process of my research for the Mickey and Judy show I learned this... (seriously) Did you KNOW that the director of Village People movie "Can't Stop the Music" (which my mother rented for me at age NINE...just saying Mom... you brought it on yourself!)...anyway - the director was NANCY WALKER???? From the bounty commercials.

rosie_the_waitress2.jpg

xo jojo.