Just as planned, I moved up to NYC at the beginning of the year. Laura had found a gorgeous apartment in Park Slope, and we moved in together. I started to figure out the audition scene.
And it wasn't too long before I got cast in a pretty exciting show. A production of Forbidden Broadway was opening in Philadelphia, and I was cast in it by director John Freedson and show creator Gerard Alessandrini. I had always loved Forbidden Broadway, so it was exciting to be a part of an official production! Unfortunately, the show had a very short run. The location probably could have been better, and just as audiences were starting to pick up, the producer closed us down. Maybe it was some sort of tax writeoff thing.
From another audition, I got asked to sing in a chorus of a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. It was "Give My Regards to Broadway", and the stars participating were breathtaking: Carol Channing, Richard Kiley, Diahann Carroll, Ben Vereen, Patti LuPone, Elaine Stritch, Judy Kaye, David Carroll, Rebecca Luker, Ron Richardson, George Dvorsky, George Abbott, Gene Barry, Laurie Beechman, Theodore Bikel, Betty Buckley, Marge Champion, John Cullum, Tyne Daly, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Phyllis Newman, Jerry Herman, Geoffrey Holder, Sally Ann Howes, Carol Lawrence, Dorothy Loudon, Andrea McArdle, Jerry Orbach, Harold Prince, Chita Rivera, Jule Styne. Wow. I can't believe I did that. Were all those people really in it? Some of them I remember vividly, others, not at all. Anyway, it was a great evening!
In the fall Laura and I both participated in a reading of a new musical called Columbus!. I had been involved in a recording of it in Houston, and it came to New York with the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.
I turned 28.
Then I saw an ad in Backstage that Disney was auditioning for a male and female singer for a stage adaptation of their upcoming film Beauty and the Beast at Disney World. They were looking for Belle (young, beautiful), so that was clearly "Beauty", and for Gaston (tall, powerful), so he was clearly "Beast". I went to the audition, and got a callback. It was only at the callback that I realized that Gaston wasn't the Beast at all! But the callback went well, and I got cast. It was a whirlwind experience getting ready to go down, as time was short. But I managed to have enough time to fly down to Tennessee, pick up my car, and head on down to Orlando.
This was a lot of fun. The show opened on November 22, the same day as the movie. I loved being an actual part of the world of Disney, and as Gaston I was a walking, singing cartoon. Hmmm...I guess you could say he was the first animated character I brought to life? Okay, maybe that's a stretch...
But, that's how the year ended: Disney World. Laura came down to visit. I spent at least one of my two days off every week in one of the Disney parks. Before I left there, I had done literally everything there was to do at Disney World, every ride, every attraction, everything. It was, in a way, heaven.