It's absolutely true that I have been neglecting this blog. So...time for a serious update.
Most importantly, I am working on my 3rd Broadway show! This past summer, I was cast in the Broadway transfer of War Horse. War Horse is a new play transferring here from London. It began at The National Theatre in 2007, and later transferred to the West End where it is still running. There are 35 cast members involved in our Lincoln Center production. It is an honor and a dream come true to be working for Lincoln Center. War Horse will be going into my favorite New York City theatre, The Vivian Beaumont, this spring! Previews start March 15th and we open April 14th. More on all of this in a minute...here's a trailer of the West End production!
Tonight you may have caught me in a surprise appearance on Gossip Girl. I returned as Jonathan for an episode to stir up the Upper East Side drama. Gossip Girl is on Mondays at 9pm on the CW. Here's a promo clip!
Now...I have also been working away at my EP! Rest assured, we are trying to release this EP this spring! It should be a very busy April and May for me between War Horse opening and the EP release! I did 13 hours in the studio a couple weeks ago, and I'm heading back in this week to do more work. We'll begin mixing next week. Once mixing is complete, we'll master it all and work on getting it out into your hands and onto your ipods! Once I have clips to share, I will. I'm very excited to get started on the packaging and will be putting together a lot of different promotional pages as soon as I can. It's quite the process, but things will come together! Self producing is extremely satisfying...if not completely overwhelming :). Everything sounds amazing. I am blown away by the musicians I continue to work with. My co-writer, Will Van Dyke, is my rock and inspiration through all of this. He is immensely talented. If you haven't seen it, this is a live performance of my original song, "If Morning Can't Wait."
Private Romeo (previously known as "McKinley") will be hitting the festival circuit in the spring as well. I am told a website and trailer are very, very close by...so look out for those. In the meantime, support the film by liking it on facebook!
Speaking of Private Romeo, my co-star from the film, Seth Numrich, will be playing the leading role of Albert in War Horse. We were both cast in War Horse back in July. At the time we were still working on Private Romeo together. It's really incredible to be working with him again. He is a phenomenal actor and a wonderful guy.
So a bit more on War Horse...Here's how Lincoln Center bills the show. "At the outbreak of World War One, Joey, young Albert's beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. Joey is soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man's land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a mission to find his horse and bring him home."
I play Albert's cousin, Billy. Billy is a rather nasty and misguided young boy. He is shipped off to the Western Front against his will where he is broken by the horrors of World War One. Along with playing Billy every night, I am also understudying the role of Albert.
When we started rehearsals a couple weeks ago, I truly had no idea what I was in for. I had seen footage from the show and read the reviews, but I didn't understand how magical this production really is. It is perhaps the warmest and most supportive group of people I have worked with. Our cast is massive, but everyone understands that the show will only work if we are completely in tune with one another. This isn't the kind of experience an actor can take lightly. The physical work that is required from all of us every night is unlike anything anyone has ever seen on a Broadway stage. The show is part spectacle...but the spectacle comes from actors working together to create living, breathing creatures. The relationships between the actors and the puppets must be as honest as possible in order for the show to come to life. The result of this honesty, along with the sheer beauty of these puppets (created by the Handspring Puppet Company), is a magical piece of theatre. That's really the only way I can describe it. I have gasped more than a few times in rehearsals.
The process has been anything but a "transfer." We are creating something from the ground up with our company. Our Directors, Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot, are adamant about focusing on the process. It's been an incredible journey so far. We are working with all of original creative team members from the UK production. I will keep you all posted on what happens next. In the mean time...check out the website...and get your tickets!!!
Last week I had the pleasure of recording in Nashville. It was one of the best days of my life. Will Van Dyke (my BRILLIANT writing partner) and I packed our backpacks and jumped on a plane last Friday morning. We headed down to the music capital of the country! We were off the plane at 9:45 and in the studio working by 10:15!
I had no idea what to expect going into the studio. It's very scary to present your music, concept, and sound to people that you've never even met. Will kept reassuring me that it was going to be fantastic. 'Fantastic' was a complete understatement.
The musicians that I worked with are some of the best in the business. The list included Pete Abbott on drums, Chris Donahue on bass, Gary Burnette and Pat Buchanan on guitars, and Tony Harrell on keys. Our incredible engineer, Dan Rudin, put this astounding group together for the day. We hope to keep Dan closely involved in the project as we continue. The man is brilliant and was so good to us that day.
The main focus for the day was to lay down (and essentially, create) the four original tracks we wrote for the EP. We wanted the sound to be authentic and we wanted to work with musicians who would be excited about creating these tracks with us.
We briefly talked about our first song and the guys all threw out a couple ideas on how they would approach it. I agreed that it all sounded like we were on the right track and everyone headed to their "battle stations." Although we weren't planning on using any of the vocals from the session, I still had mic set up to sing with the band and to lay down "scratch" vocals.
I put my headphones on in my booth and listened to the band play around a bit. Within minutes, Dan gave the go-ahead for the first take. I can't even begin to describe how exciting those next four minutes were for me. It was as if everything that had been brewing inside my head, instantaneously came to life. I'll admit I shed a few tears privately. I'm not sure if everyone in that studio knew how much that first take meant to me. I was stunned by the talent that I was surrounded by. I have never felt so blessed. This project has been a long time coming for me. From the fan support on Kickstarter, to hearing the music truly come together, the entire process has been very emotional.
The rest of the day went swimmingly. I am so excited to share this music with all of you. What was so fascinating about my day in that studio was how many directions we went in that I didn't even expect to go in. It's soul...it's pop...it's Otis...it's Hendrix...it's even a little country. It's not always what I expected, but it's everything that I wanted. After a full day, Will and I headed out for a quick bite with Dan, and then to our hotel for the night. The fact that we accomplished all of that in one day is mind-boggling.
We'll be tracking strings, horns, vocals, and two more songs here in New York very shortly. I need to get all of the tracking done by January because I'll be completely swamped with rehearsals then, so we are moving swiftly! I can't promise any date at this point, but I want to get this EP out to everyone by the spring. Mixing and Mastering can take time.
I have attached a short teaser clip for all of you. It isn't much, because none of it is ready to be heard yet...It's unmixed, and there is still so much more to be done! However, since most of you are helping to PRODUCE this EP, I wanted to give you all a glimpse into the process so far. The first clip is from the a cappella demo that I did on my iphone...these clips usually gets sent to Will at 2 am attached to an excited email. The second clip is from our first time playing through the song after Will (brilliant!) and I have put it down on piano. The third clip is from inside the recording studio...the band's first take.
This year has been such a roller coaster for me. I went through quite a journey in both my personal and professional life. Looking back on it all, I feel so blessed. I couldn't be more thankful for all of it.
One of the things that I am most thankful for, is the overwhelming amount of support I received on Kickstarter. It's a very odd and difficult thing to put yourself out there, ask for funding, and campaign non-stop for a month. In the end we managed to raise $21,000. This is an incredible number. I never could have imagined anything like it. Rest assured, every cent of it (and more) will go towards production.
What was so special about the entire experience was how kind and generous everyone was. This will be an album created by the fans, for the fans. That's kind of the coolest thing in the world to me. We're having a blast with the music so far and head down to Nashville in a week to record 4 original tracks. We will do the rest in good 'ole New York City.
I have a lot on my plate right now. What's frustrating (and what has prevented a blog post) is that I can't really talk about any of it yet. I want to announce it all!
I have been doing some TV, a lot of VoiceOver work, and readings. I have been completely swamped. It feels great!
January should be a big month for me. I'll at least be able to start talking about everything.
'McKinley' is near completion and it looks incredible. Alan Brown has done a wonderful job with the film. I saw a rough cut of the film recently and I was stunned by the performances from my cast mates. I was truly moved by the film. I can't wait for people to see this movie. I'm sure it will start the festival circuit early next year.
I have had a lot of really wonderful people come into my life this year. It's been a big year of growth for me as I start to head in a very different direction than I've gone in so far. I know this blog post is short, but there is much more to come. I will keep you all updated on my experiences in Nashville, and on all of the news I have when I can announce it.
I've been running around like a mad man today and now that I finally have the chance to sit down and write my blog entry about this, I almost don't need to!
This morning at about 11:00 am, I launched my very own Kickstarter campaign to raise money for an EP that I want to create this Fall. I have been considering using the site since this spring. The recent successes that my friends Everette Bradley, Brian Lowdermilk, and Kait Kerrigan found with Kickstarter really inspired me to make it happen for myself.
It's going INCREDIBLY well. It's been a matter of hours and I'm currently at $4,750. My goal is to raise $8,500 dollars in 30 days.
Please know that I am so grateful for all of the support. Big or small, every contribution means SO much to me. I cannot express that enough. This was our best option for funding the EP and I'm actually really happy we're going about it this way. To know that all of you will be involved with the creation of this EP makes it all so much more special. I'm beyond thrilled.
Here is what the Kickstarter page says about the project:
"I have always wanted to record an EP and the time is finally right!
We are calling this EP exactly what it stands for, "Extended Play." I have written a slew of original songs and have numerous covers that I am dying to record and release. Since making an album costs A LOT of money, I'm in need of a little help to put this all together.
Inspired by my musical heroes, the EP will be an irresistible mix of Soul and Pop. I'm working with some of the best writers, mixers, arrangers, and musicians in New York City to make this all come together perfectly. The goal is $8,500, which may sound crazy, but every cent of the money that is pledged here will go towards making these tracks receive the production and care that they deserve.
People always ask me if I'm ever going to make an album. The answer is finally YES! I cannot wait to get these songs out of my head, off the page, and into your iPods. If we reach our goal, we will start production immediately and make that happen!"