Stairway to Paradise.

BLOGGIES... here I am. Out of hibernation. Alive. Kicking. No apologies - because by this point you just don't believe me... but we've been reallllllly busy. Which is good. Lots of news and lots of progress so let's get to it. Since last we spoke Rich and I have been back to New York to cast the summer season. We braved the insanity of the Strawhat Auditions again - in which 700 performers audition over a three day period. It's craziness for the actors and for the people watching them. Rich has the toughest job - he watches every candidate (each one gets 45 seconds of a song to make an impact) and then sends me the one's he thinks might suit our needs. And then they come up and see me and I make them sing like 800 different songs in 800 different styles ('that was a beautiful aria...and now do you have any Snoop Dog?'). The best part was that both days we had some company! We like to have someone else in the room with us so it's not quite so intimidating - and it's more fun for everyone concerned. So one day Mr. David Shane (Mickey Rooney) came to be our Randy Jackson. David is great, and just got engaged - which is super exciting. Mr. Jordan Stanley dropped by for a while too (our baby is growing up, people!) And then on day two Colleen from our first summer stopped by and served as Paula Abdul. Colleen looks FANTASTIC and we are talking about her coming back for Christmas, which would a treat for everybody.

BUT this summer guess who is coming back for a second round of craziness. CARL!!!! Yup - Mr. Incredible voice himself is coming back. I guess he figured after surviving Johnny Cash he can handle Freddy Mercury. I'm so excited that Carl's comin' - he's just the greatest person to work with, and with him and Nathan (last year's stage manager) back on the force, it's going to be a wonderful summer. To round out the happy band we have an incredible new musical director (who played keyboard in the Vegas production of Phantom), and some super duper new performers. One of them goes to school with Jordan... and is named Jordan. And is super tall. so that's going to be bizarre. But he's a wonderfully talented young guy - 19 - and this is his first job and we are lucky to grab him. We found two incredible girls at the auditions. If you click HERE you can watch one of them, Elizabeth. She's pretty fierce.

So we are all cast and now I have to finalize the song choices. The Seventies show is proving realllllly hard to narrow down, but we're gettin' there. While we were there I went and saw Hair on Broadway which was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had in a theatre. And i'm not the kind of person that gets excited about seeing Hair. I only went because I'd heard such great reviews... and i'm soooo lucky I did. The cast was insanely committed and emotionally charged. They were in the audience touching you and interacting with you and climbing on the seats the whole time and at the end they got like 200 people from the audience up onstage to dance with them. While we were there we also did our annual photocopy trek to the Lincoln Center Library to source as much of the sheet music for the summer as we can find. It takes hours - but Rich is pretty great at tracking down the stuff in a maze of music. Yes, even "Disco Duck". It's a gift.

Ok - so let's get on to all the crazy construction progress that's been goin' on. Despite the winter (which has not been nearly as wicked as last year), Rich and Janice have been makin' great progress over at the house. And even though teaching has me wrapped up a WHOLE LOT (we'll talk about that), I managed to help a wittle itsy bit too. Insulation is starting to go up, and a lot of wiring is done. The greatest accomplishment (which I think Rich considers his greatest life accomplishment to date) is the fabulous staircase that they've built and to give us access to the giganti-normous attic which is gonna become our office. Rich hadn't ever built stairs before - and he did a fantastic job. Well - he had one minor, and by minor I mean not minor set back. The poor guy built all the treads he needed but the wood was warped and he mistakenly thought that he'd be able to nudge them in allignment. Nope. So after two days of chopping he had to start all over again.

THE FIRST PLANK STANK. cutting-stairs.jpg

But this time HURRAH...and they started to go in. BETTER OFF TREAD better-off-tread.jpg

Now calculating the exact length of run to cut the hole in the ceiling was I think one of the nail-bitingist bits. But it worked (how could you ever doubt the Pack Leader???).

TWO TREADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE. FOUR TREADS ARE BETTER THAN TWO. four-treads-r-better-than-one.jpg

And before ya knew it, Janice and I were drafted into screwing down the steps.

Now the official terms for the bits that you stand on are the 'rise' and the 'tread'. But Janice developed a highly technical system of referring to the 'top' and 'bottom' which made everything as clear as having a conversation with James Cameron in Navii. Except Janice isn't blue. Speaking of blue, did you know they are making a Smurfs movie? Really? With Neil Patrick Harris? I have to say I'm concerned. Anyhoo...

I GET A RISE OUT OF JANICE jo-jo-on-stairs.jpg Rich was so happy with this stairs he just kept walking up and down them saying "I built stairs. (pause) I built stairs (pause) Look, I built stairs." :) Awwwwwww. If I could put stairs up on the refrigerator to show how proud I was, I would probably do that.

FAN-ATTIC attic.jpg

Now - while all that is going on Rich and Debbie and Ann (and me sometimes too :) ) are meeting every week and working on the progress of the Opera House building for the Arts Initiative. plannin-a-sock-hop.jpg

By the way, did I ever show you the Logo for the building that I designed??? studio-logo-built-real-with-art-init.jpg

Now, I don't think I've had a chance to tell you the nifty news, but the last fundraiser for the Initiative (the Wine Tasting) raised enough money for the new roof which the building has to have. And that's gonna happen starting the 11th of April. So get ready for action shots of Debbie Dyer repelling off the side of the building. I'm quite excited. So the latest fundraiser for the building is gonna be a 50's and 60's Sock Hop that's going to be a hoot. We're having competitions for the kookiest socks (sock hop...gettit?), hula hooping, biggest bubble gum bubble.

sock-hop-poster-11×17.jpg

The sock hop is gonna have a live band, called The Remants playing period hits. There will be root beer floats, AND a hot dog happy hour. During the meeting Debbie was very insistent that we have 'hot moist buns' for the hot dogs. And so, I feel all advertising for the event should heavily emphasize "Debbie Dyer's Hot Moist Buns". And after all those Zoomba classes at the 'Y', I'm sure they are Debbie, I'm sure they are. :) The Sock Hop is gonna be at the Pal Club which has recently gotten a brand new coat of paint and is the perfect venue for an olde fashioned High School Gym Dance... pal-club-dance.jpg

We are also debating about 8 zillion ways to decorate with balloons. The woman who supervises the PAL club was very insistent that the decorations need to be HUGE. She kept emphasizing HUGEEEE to work in the space. So I'm trying to find a brontosaurus on ebay. If ya wanna come (and OF COURSE YOU DO), visit www.huntingtonartsinitiative.org I will be wearing a letterman's jacket for the first time in my life ("What Jo Jo? You weren't on a Varsity Team? You were not the High School Quarterback? This shocks me!") so you won't want to miss that. Of course I wanted to wear a poodle skirt, but Rich felt this was unwise. Po however, might appear in this little number... DOXIE ROUND THE CLOCK doxie-poodle-skirt.jpg

OKKK this is actually a super long blog Rich thinks we should split in TWO. So the other one will go up soon and it covers lots 'of rippin and tearing and building and stuff! xo JOJO.