Tonight was incredible, simply incredible. I was back at the Metropolitan Room playing Character Man with Jim Brochu. The show tonight was a “double feature” with Steve Schalchlin performing at 7, and Jim at 9. I had to miss Steve’s last performance because of rehearsal for Master Class, so it was great to finally see his show. And what a show it was!
I first became familiar with Steve around 2000, when I was working as a pharmacy technician at CVS. One of our regular customers worked at the record store, Sounds Fine, a few doors down on the Ithaca Commons. As soon as he saw me in the Showtunes and Soundtracks section, we became fast friends. One of the first albums he recommended to me was The Last Session. And I was hooked! I kept finding opportunities to perform Save Me A Seat for every benefit possible. Fourteen years later, Steve, Jim, and I are great friends, and I cherish every second of it.
In Steve’s show, the biggest surprise came when he was sharing his story, familiar to most of the audience, about his being on his death bed, literally, when he found out he won a lottery to try a new prescription. Sure that this would just be another failed round of poking, prodding, and pill swallowing, he reluctantly agreed, expecting nothing. Then he gained a pound. And then another. Then he was taken off the feeding tubes and was actually eating. He kept up with his blog, though the word had yet to be invented, and eventually he received a comment on one of his posts. The man who wrote the comment expressed his joy in Steve’s remarkable recovery, absolutely elated because, well, he created Crixivan and not only saved Steve’s life, but countless others! I started to tear up as he was sharing his remarkable journey.
And then he introduced the very man who wrote that comment, and invented the drug that saved thousands, Dr. Bruce Dorsey. There weren’t enough cocktail napkins in the building to dry my tears, not to mention those of every single person in the audience. I don’t think I have ever cried so much at a live performance. Applause erupted and a standing ovation ensued, to which Steve remarked, “it’s not every day a chemist gets a standing ovation!”
The show concluded with Jim and Steve singing a delicious ballad they wrote entitled “How Do You Fall Back In Love.” More tears, more joy, not enough napkins. As Steve put it, the concert was an unbelievable celebration of life.
After a brief break, I went to the piano and started playing the bell tones to signal the start of Jim’s show. And if you’ve never been at a cabaret where the audience spontaneously joins in four-part harmony during “Trouble” from The Music Man, you are missing out. It also happened at 54 Below when we performed there, which you can see here (and if you see me at the piano, I can’t stop laughing because the audience participation was one of those beautiful “only in New York” moments).
At the end of Jim’s show, as the audience was paying there checks, Tony winner Cady Huffman complimented my playing, which instantly put that stupid grin on my face, making people wonder if all the lights are on upstairs. And then I went to say goodnight to Danny Whitman, who was having a conversation with a couple whose faces I couldn’t see. I sat down next to Danny, and then he said “Kevin, have you met Len Cariou and his wife Heather?” WOAH! I heard he was going to be there, but now Sweeney Todd and I were sitting across from each other and he said “You were the music man, right? You played great!”
Two Tony winners, two compliments, and now I’ll be up until two in the morning, too excited to sleep!