is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Who's On First With the Davis Family

Go ahead...color me enthusiastic about AGL's upcoming "Tommy: The Concert."  The presentation of the Who's double album classic work will include music by the Johnson Brothers and other well known local players, so it's a given that the music will be superb. 

(rehearsal photo courtesy of Hilary Brown) 

Once I heard that in addition to everyone's favorite local leading man Tom Phillips, my buddies Tim and Joy Davis are also to perform, I started to get really encouraged about the future of AGL's most recent project and knew it was going to be an event worth following.  Apart from the fact that they have been one of my favorite couples since I first met the two of them at AGL's Smitty Awards years ago, Tim and Joy are both hilarious and sparkling conversationalists, their devotion as parents is unequaled, and to be honest, well, they are just good, fun  people.  Now , years later,  they are parents of two young children, and it's fun to realize that neither of them have changed one bitty-it in that regard, they just need a few more hours in the day to get everything in their busy schedules accomplished. 

So imagine my pleasant surprise when AGL's Acting Artistic Director Eric Seale mentioned to me a few weeks ago that Tim and Joy's son, Logan, was going to be part of the production as well!  Now, any child of the dynamic Davis duo is certain to be talented, and Logan is  both precious and precocious, but the news did cause me to wonder how in the world these two would manage such a balancing act of parenting and performing...and still remain sane. 
Although the sanity part appears yet to be fully realized (they ARE human, after all :), the theatre community is today abuzz with excitement as the Davises are giving everyone reason to sit up and take notice ... much like the lights on a pinball machine. With a good natured view on life and the bond of music and laughter, this family trio has somehow been able to get it done, proving that where there's a will, there's a way.  

Since the cast and crew enter their final week of rehearsals, I was eager to ask Joy for an update. She confirmed that they've indeed had to keep many a ball in the air during the production process and in fact, just yesterday, the time management juggling routine was thrown for a little loop. "We ended up having to take both  of our children to rehearsal - our first with the entire band -  because my brother who came in from Nashville tonight to be their 'Manny' for the week couldn't get here earlier and we couldn't find a sitter on such short notice."

When asked how she became interested in Tommy, she stated, "I heard about the show through Tim. He loves the Who, so I knew he would want to audition. I haven't been on-stage in almost 10 years, unless you count a play reading I did for Tim several years ago or the time we won $100 performing a duet of Meatloaf's Paradise By the Dashboard Lights, and that was before the children came along. I never really thought beyond the audition, for me it was enough just to do that. So I just wanted to audition out of a need to break out of the Mommy role for an afternoon. Sometimes I have to remind myself I'm more than just 'Mommy' ... with a 2- and 5-year old, it's easy to lose yourself in all that need."

She laughs, "Of course then Eric cast me as the Mom role so I'm not really leaving any of that behind during the rehearsal process am I? It's a fun role with some fantastic songs to sing. I get to sing in 1921, Christmas, Tommy Can You hear Me, Smash the Mirror."

Joy loves the music, but admits the best part is singing with her husband (actor/director/self-ascribed prisoner of rock-n-roll, Tim X. Davis). "It's so easy to be on-stage with him, and I think we play off each other well. Plus, the man just knows how to rock, and that is pushes me to let loose and enjoy the time we are having together. It has energized our connection I think, as a couple, to do something creative together ... well, aside from the 'having children' thing...which is I guess as about as creative as you can get!"

"Initially it was just Tim and I in the show. It was Eric's idea to have Logan come on as young Tommy. Honestly, I didn't think he would do it at first. Logan is only 5 and although his father works in theatre, he really doesn't spend that much time around it. He has been to some rehearsals of other productions and been in theatres but most of the theatre world happens WAY past his bedtime. We brought him to a few Tommy rehearsals mainly because we didn't have a sitter some nights, and he would listen to the music and when we would get home he would ask Tim to add certain songs to his 'playlist' that he listens to when he is getting to sleep at night. Logan has always loved music and despite my best efforts to indoctrinate him into classical and jazz as a baby and toddler he was always drawn to rock and roll. Its genetic I think. Nothing makes Tim happier then being able to share the music he loves so much with Logan."

The deal maker turned out to be Seale's pinball machine he had set up in the rehearsal space. "Logan had never played one before, but quickly learned to play and loved it and is quite the little prodigy. It got so Logan would cry and beg to come to rehearsals instead of staying home with the sitter and his sister. So, yeah, we bribed him to be in the show...sad but true. A pinball machine gets you Little Tommy. I was also worried about him being on-stage with a live band. Logan has some auditory processing issues associated with his sensory processing disorder so certain noises, or sounds can overwhelm him sometimes or scare him. He was the child who was terrified and disturbed by vacuum cleaners and drills and children crying. So I am very protective of him in that way and try to prepare him as best I can for that kind of stuff. We put him in earplugs today, but for the first 15 minutes or so of the band playing I could tell it was a little much for him. So I told Eric this might not work. But after he adjusted to it and got up there with the band, he was fine. Actually, he was crazy about it...enthralled with the band....kept wanting to take out the earplugs. Now our problem is getting him OFF stage and keeping him from following Adam Fister around who plays the adult Tommy. Logan loves to follow him around ... even onstage. At a rehearsal a few nights ago, Adam was singing one of the big numbers towards the end of the show and Logan would stand beside him and mimic his was just amazing to watch. It was even more amazing that Adam could concentrate!"

Joy is quick to add, "I really appreciate Adam and how he has let Logan shadow him without complaint. Adam has an amazing voice and stage presence, so perhaps Logan is picking up a thing or two from him."

Along with the adorable Logan, they also have a toddler who sure must be taking it all with the good humor she gets from her parents. "Our two year old daughter, Vivi, actually slept through act one today. She has started singing along with a few songs. However, when i try to practice my songs at home she tells me, 'Mommy, dont sing those songs.' I think she is over the entire thing, she just wants her mommy all to herself again."

Joy confesses the hardest part about working on the show with Tim is figuring out what to do with the children. "We flip flop our work schedules so that someone is always home with them. We don't have family here in Kentucky, so finding people to watch them is hard. Well, maybe I make it hard because I am so overprotective...but that is my job, I guess. A few really good friends came through for us and I can't tell you how much of a relief that is. Then my brother came in from Nashville this week for tech week and performances. We owe him big...but don't tell him I said that."  

[I won't, Joy, but pretty sure he'll find out anyway :-) kjt ]

She emphasizes that having the kids around some at rehearsals has been good for her. "I don't know how Tim feels about that, but for me, it gives me something to focus on when I'm not on-stage and keeps me from getting nervous. "

As proof that AGL is still infused with a closely-knit theatrical sense of family, Joy expressed her gratitude for their support. "I really appreciate Eric and Jim and the actors and crew for going out of their way to help us out - for example, letting Logan play pinball in the breaks, coloring with him, pushing Vivi around in the stroller, and watching out for them when Tim and I were on-stage. It was above and beyond what I ever expected."

As far as working together on-stage as a family, Joy tells me that there are no plans for that in the near future. "This was a special thing. Its nice to know we can make it work and that it can be a fun experience for us all as a family, but its a LOT of work so this is it for awhile. Of course we have created a monster with Logan. I'm afraid now that he has been given that feeling of being up on-stage with the live music and the energy that comes with that - well, its going to be hard to put that one back in the bag. I'm just proud of him for how well he has come in and behaved himself at rehearsals and for trying something new and different and outside of his comfort zone. I don't know which possibility is scarier to me: a child who wants to be an actor or a child that wants to be a rock musician?"

Both of Tim and Joy feel as if performing this show at Busters just feels right and it appeals to the musical purist in Joy, who believes that since it is a concert staging, the emphasis is really on the music. "And it should be -- you know, Tommy on Broadway was one thing, and Tommy the movie was another thing, a freaky, 70s delicious mess of a thing and a concert staging is just a different way to tell the story , I think it lets the music really speak for itself. I've gained a new appreciation for The Who and just how good a band they really were. They wrote some incredible music and the Johnson Brothers are going to take that and just blow it out in that space. I can't wait. The only down side to this is that after the show is done, Logan is still going to be playing those songs ALL the time. His current favorite is Go to the Mirror and Smash the Mirror. Unfortunately now he keeps asking me if HE can smash our mirrors at home."

Tim X. explains, "I LOVE the venue, mainly because it reminds me of some of the rooms I played music in back in college. Being up there with a big, loud band is like falling off a log for me. I think the audience will really enjoy it to, as it combines the best elements of a rock concert with a theatrical experience. As a director, I've always tried to put a little of the 'rock and roll' experience into my shows, so when Eric described this to me, I was like 'where do I sign?'"

Davis thinks it's very important that people know that "AGL IS alive and well, and that the show will go on (*so to speak). Eric has some great plans for the future, and as long as there is an AGL, I'll be there to support them any way I can."

He details his role and advises, "I play the father (Captain Walker) and I sing 1921, Christmas, Tommy Can You Hear Me, and parts of other songs (like Go to the Mirror)."

Given the opportunity to inform me about his son's musical tastes, Tim beams, "Logan loves ALL types of music. He can switch from traditional five year old, kiddie stuff to jazz, to country (TRADITIONAL country only, thank you!) ... but he really loves the rock and roll. I suppose that's my doing, but he sorta has his own mind about it. For instance, we were just randomly listening to the radio one day and the song BAD COMPANY (by Bad Co.) came on. Now I'm not even all that big of a fan of Bad Company, much less that song, and I was about to change the station. He wouldn't let me, and he said he wanted me to include that song on the next mix cd I made him. So I had to go home and download it, and it's still one of his favorites. You never know what he'll gravitate to. Lately, he loves Bad Motor Scooter by Montrose (with an 18 year old Sammy Hagar on vocals) and of course the Tommy songs have now entered the mix. He knows the words to almost ALL the tunes (and Vivi is singing them now too! As musical as Logan is, I think she may even be more so before it's all said and done.)"

He confesses that balancing all of this at rehearsal hasn't been easy. "We've not only had Logan there, but on occasion Vivi too (baby sitters crapping out, and the like) so it's been challenging. But I think it's good for Joy and me to do things like this. For the last five years, we've REALLY been caught up in the parent wheel, and sometimes we don't realize that we CAN still do the things we enjoy, and that it is possible to share that with the kids too. I ain't gonna's hard. But being a parent is hard. It's 24/7, 365 days a year (if you do it right, that is) and it's really easy to get lost in that. But opportunities like this remind us that we're not JUST parents, but we're people too."

Tim is also quick to credit Seale for his dedication and patience on this project. "BIG kudos to Eric on this front for not pitching a fit when we had to bring the kids. Just the opposite, in fact. He welcomed it, and did whatever we needed to accommodate the whole thing. There's many a director who wouldn't go there, but Eric has been great...and he's become one of my boy's favorite people too!"

This "singers' concert," produced in collaboration with the Johnson Brothers Band, Lexington's one and only "rock n' roll repertory orchestra," promises to be a one-of-a-kind theatrical extravaganza. See The Who's iconic double album brought to the stage by a talented cast of Lexington stage veterans at Buster's Billiards and Backroom 
June 3 & 4 (18+) at 8 p.m., & 
June 6th (all ages) at 2 p.m.

"Come on the amazing journey, and learn all you should know!"

$20 for Adults
$18 for Seniors (65+)
$15 for Students (with valid student ID)


Sponsored in part by: 
Buster's Billiards & Backroom, 
Post Time Video, and 
Signs Now

Bring out YOUR inner pinball wizard  - 
go to Actors Guild of Lexington for more show information and to purchase tickets!


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