Martiiiiiiiiin!

Here I am with my new buddy and costar Martin Lawrence! He couldn't be more wonderful and generous both on screen and off. Getting to work with him and Kelsey Grammer for the last few months has been like taking a graduate course in sitcom theory from two of the greatest comedy stars of all time. Be sure to watch THE PARTNERSHIP on FX this summer!

Dazzle the District

 Last night the largest outdoor chandelier in the world (Guinness just verified!) was switched on in my hometown of Cleveland. It's suspended 44 feet above the same theater district where I saw my first musical (Les Miz:) and stepped on a professional stage for the first time.

A whopping 20,000 Clevelanders showed up last night to welcome the new addition to our town. Many outsiders don't realize just how fantastic the theater scene is in Cleveland. We may be known as the most loyal, if not most tortured, sports fans in the country but I think of Cleveland as a great cultural center. We have tons of theaters including Cleveland Playhouse where Paul Newman started, Great Lakes Theater Festival where Tom Hanks started, and Beck Center for the Arts where I started! 

I adore Cleveland for many reasons, but it's huge theater community changed my life and gave me a place where I fit in. I love that it continues to grow and thrive. Congrats Cleveland!

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Drama Desk Nom?!

I always tell the story of the morning I called my mom to tell her I had been nominated for Tony. She responded with “Are you sure? How do you know?” This morning, I’m the one who needs the proof. I am so thrilled to be nominated for a Drama Desk but I’m mostly just surprised. I had such a wonderful time performing in Nobody Loves You at Second Stage and I'm honored that the nominating committee recognized my performance.

However, the wonderful creative team really deserves all the recognition, because they basically handed me three awesome roles and "The Twitter Song" gift wrapped in a box on my first day.

They are Itamar Moses (book and lyrics), Gaby Alter (music and lyrics), Michelle Tattenbaum (director), Vadim Feichtner (music director), and Mandy Moore (choreographer).

Also, each of my kick-ass cast mates deserves this way more than I do.  They are so talented and funny.  I ADORE them.

Heath Calvert, Roe Hartrampf, Bryan Fenkart, Allen Read, Autumn Hurlbert, Leslie Kritzer, Aleque Reid, Lauren Molina, and Haven Burton.

Also, a shout out to the extremely talented Alex Brightman who originated these roles at the Old Globe in 2012 and made them what they are!

Thanks to Second Stage for being my home for all of last year and letting me play on that great stage!

As Evan would say… “#thanksDDAs #soexcited #canigetarealityshowoutofthis"

This was the look on my face this morning.

This was the look on my face this morning.

Singing Wildcats

Yesterday I got to see my high school's choir perform at the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. The St. Ignatius Wildcat choir came all the way from Cleveland on their spring break to fill the cathedral with beautiful music, led by choir director Jason Falkofsky. I was in the choir when I was at Ignatius but I don't remember there ever being that many great voices. They were fantastic! Congrats guys! Go Wildcats!

The St. Ignatius High School Choir and Rory

The St. Ignatius High School Choir and Rory

4.5 MILLION!

That is the record breaking total raised for BCEFA over the last month by Broadway, off-Broadway, and touring companies!  Yesterday we celebrated everyone's hard work by putting on Easter Bonnet 2014. I had the honor of being in the opening number with some of the most fantastic dancers on Broadway!  

Here are some pics with my costars from the event and the big movie stars who handed out the awards including Idina Menzel, Fran Drescher, Bryan Cranston, and Denzel Washington. Most of my pics of them are their backside because I took them while my new buddy Sophia (Original Matilda) and I were perched behind them on our huge top hat bonnet!

 

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Sophia and Rory

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Me and the devil himself...Michael Reidel!  He was hilarious in the opening (he even sang!) and was incredibly nice. He's also just a great sport!

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My view of Denzel, Fran, Bryan, and Idina! 

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The opening number cast!

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The Grand total! Notice Sophia and I taking a selfie in the back! 

Thank you to everyone who contributed money, time, talent and effort to #BCEFABONNETS this year! Being a part of the Broadway community is a great honor and it's events like these that remind me of that most. 

6 Years with Gerold

6 years ago today, April 22nd, 2008, I was at a performance of Hairspray on Broadway with my buddy Jenny Kanelos. It was my day off from Happy Days the Musical at the Goodspeed Opera House so I was in NYC for 36 hours. My fellow cast member, Zach Frank had told me the day before that he wanted me to meet someone. So after my viewing of Hairspray with Aaron Tveit as "Link" (so good) I headed over to Blockheads at the Worldwide Plaza to meet Zach and... someone.  

Jenny and I found Zach at a table on the outdoor plaza.  The place was packed because it was one of the first warm days and NYC was celebrating the end of another long winter. I was very preoccupied with CNN on my phone when I got there because it also happened to be the Pennsylvania Primary and for a political junkie like me, the Clinton/Obama primaries were a dream. 

About ten minutes after arriving Zach's friend showed up. The first thing I noticed about him was his mile high hair.  The highest hair I'd ever seen. His name was Gerold with an "o".  I already knew a bit about him because I had stalked Zach's Myspace account (It was 2008!) for any details. He had just come back from Paris where he lived for several months taking care of his cousin's four children.  We all sat, talked, and ate guacamole.

At one point I got an alert on my phone that Hillary had won the PA Primary.  I announced to the table, "Clinton won." Gerold's eyes lit up and he said, "Clinton won?!" I thought, "Maybe he's a political junkie like me?!" Then he said, "Clinton Attache won a show choir competition tonight?! I didn't even know they were competing. Of course they won though, they are the top high school show choir in the nation!"  Then I said... "What's show choir?" ...and he let out a loud gasp.

That moment pretty much sums up the next 6 years.  Gerold and I are opposites in a lot of ways, but that has turned into our best asset because it just forced us both to grow.  I know a lot more about Mariah Carey and show choir than I ever thought possible.  However, in the ways that really count we are identical. We both love our family and friends more than anything else in the world. Gerold inspires me everyday to be a better son, cousin, and friend. 

As I sat at that table at Blockheads and listened to Gerold tell stories about his cousins in Paris that he had just taken care of I could tell that he adored kids.  He wanted a family as much as I do. I kind of fell in love with him right then and there and I had to ask him on another date.  I'm glad I did, because later this year we are getting married.

Thank you Gerold for putting up with me and for loving me. These past 6 years have been the best of my life.  I can't wait to marry you!!!!

This was a picture I took of Gerold when he came to visit me at Goodspeed Opera House about six weeks after we  started dating.  He is going to KILL me for posting this because his hair isn't "coiffed", but I love this picture.

This was a picture I took of Gerold when he came to visit me at Goodspeed Opera House about six weeks after we  started dating.  He is going to KILL me for posting this because his hair isn't "coiffed", but I love this picture.

Spring Run

Today I had my first run of the year in Central Park! I guess my speed can't really qualify what I do as running. It's more of a brisk dilly dally. What ever you call it, just the fact that I'm in the park makes it my favorite thing to do in the city... Besides seeing Broadway shows of course.

Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain

I've been in New York for over seven years. I can walk through Times Square without looking up once but I still can't enter Central Park without being in total awe every time.

Sheep's Meadow

Sheep's Meadow


I love the fact that even though it's flooded with tourists real New Yorkers still show up in droves.  You know it has to be great if jaded New Yorkers still come. Saying "jaded New Yorker" just now makes me think of the best/worst broadway show commercial ever...



Easter Bonnet 2014!

I am so excited for BCEFA's Easter Bonnet 2014 because I have the honor of being a part of the opening number with some of the most talented dancers on Broadway! We have been working hard all week and I think you are going to love it! Don't miss it!! Head to the Minskoff Theater this Monday April 21st at 4:30pm and Tuesday April 22nd at 2pm!

Thanks to everyone who donated money, time and talent to #BCEFAbonnets, hundreds of thousands of people across the country are getting lifesaving medications, nutritious meals, counseling, emergency financial assistance and more!

Here I am rehearsing with the opening number cast of BCEFA's Easter Bonnet 2014! Our director/choreographer Al Blackstone has included a few props!!!

Here I am rehearsing with the opening number cast of BCEFA's Easter Bonnet 2014! Our director/choreographer Al Blackstone has included a few props!!!

Front Row Seat to History

This week I had the privilege of being at the Supreme Court for the oral arguments to overturn Prop 8 and DOMA. We arrived on the steps of the court around 8am Tuesday morning and listened to speeches from passionate supporters of equality including Rev. Eugene Robinson and Raven's linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. It was without a doubt one of the most inspiring and historic experiences of my life.  On the second day, we waited in the rotation line and got into the actual courtroom to see the nine justices grilling the lawyers on both sides. For a political junkie like myself, it was a dream come true.  If you haven't been to DC and witnessed oral arguments in the Supreme Court, I suggest you make a trip.  While you may not understand every word they say, (I have to admit I only knew what they were talking about 50% of the time!) it gave me a real understanding of the power of the court.  

Another powerful moment, in an entirely different way, was seeing the opposition march to the Supreme Court where we were rallying.  They carried signs saying "1 man 1 woman" and ranged from amped up folks speaking in tongues to young girls looking like they didn't know why they were there.  I found myself staring at them transfixed.  It is so rare to find yourself in the presence of those who are actively trying to make sure you can't get married.  It was breathtaking in the worst way. I imagine its how one would feel if at their wedding when the officiant said, "Speak now or forever hold your peace" a parade of folks showed up with signs and chanted how you don't deserve happiness. It would be like a punch to the gut! Multiple punches. However the equality side was classy and let them scream and shout… then go home. We outnumbered them by far and they didn’t even show up on the second day.  In hindsight, their parade was more of a funeral procession then a march. I hope they find something better to put their energy into because theirs is now a lost cause. Equality won.

Spending two days on the steps of the Supreme Court was also a real full circle moment for Broadway Impact.  For the past three years we have worked with the American Foundation for Equal Rights to bring the story of the Prop 8 trial to theaters all across America and even the world.  As of today nearly 400 productions have been done in all 50 states and 7 countries.  Together we have brought the constitutional case for equality to places that have never heard it. Watching the plaintiffs and legal team emerge from the court was truly beautiful.  So much time and effort has been put into making that moment possible and I feel so privileged to have been given a front row seat to AFER’s groundbreaking case.

Here is a wonderfully made video by Matt Baume of AFER that shows the highlights of the two days. 

Is it June yet?!!!?!?!? 

Hillary!

OK. So HRC is on board now too.  We knew this was coming but it still feels good now that its here, right?! Looks like a requirement for being a 2016 presidential candidate for Democratic Party means being on the right side of history.

Why today is a BFD

This morning was kind of amazing.  For one, my mother is in town from Cleveland and we have been getting a bunch of time together without me having to run off and do a tap number eight times during her visit. It’s been really chill getting to sit back and have dinner with her. At night!  What a concept?!

The other reason is because as we were getting ready for breakfast with the news on in the background, we heard Ohio Senator Rob Portman announce that his son came out to him two years ago and that it has persuaded him to shift his view on marriage equality. After a solid record of anti-gay votes, he was now for marriage equality.

My mother had the only response an Ohio mother of a gay son could possible have.

“Holy shit.”

We were in such shock we had to rewind the DVR and make sure we heard it right.

My mother is a progressive and phone banked many times for the reelection of Senator Sherrod Brown this past election. We both disagree with Mr. Portman’s views on a majority of the issues, except for one (as of this morning).   Hearing those words come out of his mouth was astounding. Not because of what it meant about Portman, but because of the change it represented for Ohio.

I still remember my mother calling me the morning after election day 2004 in tears.  Not because George W. Bush had been re-elected for another term (well, maybe a little bit) but because Ohio had passed a constitutional ban on same-sex couples getting married.  It was devastating to her.  Almost like a personal rejection of her son.  She kept apologizing to me, as if it was her responsibility to reach every household in Ohio and tell them that her son was a good person. If they just got to know him they would see that he should have the same rights.  It was heartbreaking to hear this. Suddenly I felt like the parent and tried to console her by promising that things will change and that we have to keep fighting.

That’s why watching a republican from Ohio support marriage while sitting next to my mother was so meaningful and thrilling.  Who would have thought that in less than nine years, our Ohio would have 2 senators (yes both!) supporting marriage quality?!?! 

Some don’t want to celebrate this news. I understand the reservations about Portman receiving any accolades.  He shouldn’t.  This didn’t happen because of political courage. Politicians move with the polls and rarely act with courage.  I say lets celebrate the polls!  Celebrate those who have been moving those polls steadily in our favor for decades.  Through its relentless activism, the LGBT movement created a friendly enough environment for a republican to support marriage equality.  Not to mention a world where a senator’s son could even broach the subject of his homosexuality with his father.

That leads me to the other person who deserves accolades for today. Will Portman came out to his parents at 19.  We all know it is rarely easy. However, I think Will gets some bonus points for coming out to the dad with the anti-gay voting record who is considered presidential material by a party with anti gay rhetoric all over its platform.  Maybe his coming out was a little harder than some… just saying.

More importantly Will’s example shows that Harvey Milk was right when he said,

“Gay brothers and sisters,... You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth!” 

Those words are especially true when your father’s voting booth is located in the United States Senate chamber.  Will has proved once again that the greatest asset the LGBT community has is that we are in everyone’s family. We just need to make sure they know it.

As for those questioning if this is a big deal… that shocks me.  He is the first sitting senator to simultaneously support marriage equality while belonging to the party of Senator Jesse Helms. Yeah. That’s what you call a BFD.

It’s not amazing because one man changed his mind, but because of the years of hard work and activism that made it possible. It’s also a step closer to the promise I made to my mother 9 years ago. Change will come to Ohio.  To me… that is a BFD.