Over the last couple of years, I've had a great time playing "Sherlock" in Symphonica Productions' show Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Maestro. It's written by Enrico Lopez-Yañez, and audiences love it. I performed the show with Enrico conducting earlier this year with the Detroit Symphony, with Conner Gray Covington and the Utah Symphony, and just today with Christopher James Lees and the Charlotte Symphony. Good times!
Saturday, November 11, 2023
Thursday, August 4, 2022
2017 was probably the most action-packed year of my life, professionally speaking.
On the animation front, I:
• adapted, directed, and animated three book-to-film adaptations for Scholastic/Weston Woods: “Mother Bruce”, “Leo: A Ghost Story”, and “Du Iz Tak?”. For this latter film, I actually got to meet the book's author/illustrator Carson Ellis, which was a rare treat.
• conceived, designed, and animated the new motion graphics for NPT’s “Arts Break” segments.
• flew to Vegas to help my friend Brian Maffitt give an innovative keynote speech utilizing Adobe’s new Character Animator software.
• created animated scenic projections for the shows at The Little Engine Playhouse in Dollywood, directed by Brian Hull. This also involved creating (and narrating) opening video segments about Dolly’s Imagination Library program.
On the performing front, I:
• played Leontes in “The Winter’s Tale” for Nashville Shakespeare Festival, as well as Lepidus and the Soothsayer in their “Antony and Cleopatra”.
• played nine different roles in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” at Nashville Children’s Theatre.
• was the standby for all three actors in “The Final Days of Wolfe Tone” at TPAC (and also sang a brief offstage solo).
• learned and recorded two great “Disney Villain” roles for Music Theatre International's official reference recordings: Claude Frollo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and Joseph Pulitzer in “Newsies”.
• participated in readings/workshops for four other shows.
Friday, July 29, 2022
Theatre continued to play an important part in my life in 2016. I appeared in the Studio Tenn production of Evita which was staged in Jackson Hall at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, enabling me to achieve the trifecta of appearing on all three TPAC stages. I also appeared in Smoke: A Ballad of the Night Riders again this year, this time in the dual roles of the Storyteller and Dr. Amoss. A much better fit for me, really.
Nashville Public Library held the Nashville International Puppet Festival, and I was involved in two presentations there. Utilizing original puppets created by Tom Tichenor, I performed a 10-minute scene from the musical Carnival along with Rosemary Fossee. I also created animated projections for Brian Hull's epic puppet production of Kaytek the Wizard. Both were very well received, as was the entire wonderful festival.
I recorded the "cast album" for Junie B. Jones: The Musical, singing the roles of Lenny and Chenille.
My Weston Woods film Grace for President premiered this year.
We had a 25th anniversary reunion for the Beauty and the Beast stage show at Disney World, so the whole Fott family went down for a November vacation.
And, here's a weird thing: I was randomly mentioned in the "Five Hoda Kotbs" episode of The Last Man on Earth. I'm actually glad I wasn't watching at the time, because I'm sure I would have been convinced I was hallucinating! Of course, Danny Bonaduce has appeared on The Today Show, so the IMDb link from Bonaduce to Katie Couric is actually much shorter....but I'm happy to be a link in that chain!
I suppose any sort of record one is making about one's life is inevitably touched more and more by death. Until finally, of course...the record itself just stops. But hey, till then...let's take a look at 2015.
There was a lovely memorial service for Josie Helming in Memphis. At the 2001 MSU Theatre Dept. reunion, which also marked Josie's retirement, Clif Gordon had set up a video camera so people could record their thoughts about the department and Josie. For this memorial service, I took that 14-year-old footage and edited together a tribute that was screened at the service. (It's here, for any interested parties.)
And a month after this memorial for Josie, my college friend Emily Woodward Macy died. So sad. Such a beautiful person.
Wanda Wilson, proprietress of the legendary P&H Café in Memphis passed away too. And one of our cats, spelled variably "Keypot" or "Kipat", also died.
I had two Weston Woods films released: I'm Brave! and Scaredy Squirrel at Night, both the third installments of what you might call "trilogies" I've made.
And just for kicks, I released my 100 days of hair and beard growth video.
I went to the National Puppetry Festival in Storrs, CT, which was a wonderful experience. Along the way there and back, I visited old friends and colleagues Lester Malizia, Eddie Powers, and I finally got to meet the staff of Weston Woods Studios in person! Brian Hull and I also made side trips to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and two locations in Pittsburgh where puppets and set pieces from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood were displayed. A lovely, fun trip.
There was more performing for me this year too. I played the leading role of Owen Hartley in Smoke: A Ballad of the Night Riders, a musical written by David Alford that is presented semi-annually in Adams TN. I also got to record the voice of King Triton for Music Theatre International's official reference recording of Disney's The Little Mermaid. Excerpts can be heard here.
I have to look at 2014 as my return to acting. The last show I had done was 1776 with Tennessee Rep in 2005. I had auditioned for a few things in the next couple of years without getting in them, but there was a good six-year period where I didn't audition at all. In 2013 the Rep announced they were doing Chicago, a show I found resistible to be a part of. But they got the rights taken away from them due to a conflicting national tour, and announced they were switching to Company instead.
I'd been a Sondheim fan for most of my life, but had never actually been in one of his shows. In Company, I knew I wasn't a "Bobby", but figured there were five other roles I was more-or-less right for. It was time to decide if theatre was "something I did" anymore, or if I was done with it forever. I auditioned. I got cast. And it was a great experience.
As it turns out, Company was the last Tennessee Repertory Theatre show, because the company changed its name for the 2014-15 season. And I also got cast in the first Nashville Repertory Theatre show, which was another Sondheim, Sweeney Todd.
But why stop there? I also was a SAG-AFTRA day player for the ABC show Nashville, where I played the leader of an AA meeting.
My career as an animator kept on moving along too. I had a great trip out west for the San Francisco International Film Festival, where I Want My Hat Back was screened, and also squeezed in a trip to Pixar! That film also screened in the New York International Children's Film Festival this year. And I also began work on I'm Brave!, recording the voice of Jonathan Banks.
The end of 2014 saw two deaths of important people in my life. Jack Dabdoub died, whom I had understudied for a few summers down in Galveston. He was a lovely, supportive person who had an amazing career. Sadder still was the death of Josie Helming, the main acting teacher of my college years at Memphis State. Josie also gave me my first professional acting job in The Red Balloon Players in Memphis.
On 7/21/13, I started a series of daily posts wherein I counted down to my 50th birthday, looking at each year in my life. An exercise in navel-gazing to be sure, but it's actually proved useful since then, when I've wanted to remember when exactly something happened. So I thought I would continue that effort, bringing things up to the present.
On my birthday that year, I wrote about the first 2/3 of 2013, so here's what happened in the remaining third:
The now-defunct Nashville Arts Magazine published a nice article about me.
I attended a 50th birthday celebration for my dear friend Terry Fluker in Memphis.
We made a trip to Las Vegas to visit my brother and his wife; while there, we saw the Cirque du Soleil show Love, and Penn and Teller.
I Want My Hat Back won second place for best animated short in the children's jury of the Chicago International Children's Film Festival!
And there were two Nashville Public Library-related events: The library hosted a free screening of my animated films in October, and in December I got to puppeteer the Grandfather for Wishing Chair Productions' lovely A Child's Calendar.
Thursday, July 28, 2022
In 2017 I tuned in to the "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" marathon that streamed on twitch.tv. I was particularly waiting for a scene I'd remembered all my life. (I was four when it aired.) Here's that scene, from the first season, episode 109. I can certainly see why it made such a big impression on me. The respect that is given to Daniel's emotions; there are no words spoken for such a long time. The beautiful, honest performances by Betty Aberlin and Fred Rogers. Amazing that so much time could be devoted to such a small and yet huge moment on children's television.