Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

From Bar Room to Broadway!

Can’t you just feel the pride, the exhilaration, the excitement, the joy that Taylor Hicks is experiencing right now! I know I can, and I wasn’t even there for his Broadway debut in Grease. That doesn’t matter. The fact remains that in less than three short years Taylor Hicks has gone from performing in bars and restaurants to Broadway! Broadway!

Taylor Hicks, by his own admission, spent ten years in the bars and clubs and restaurants of Alabama and Florida. It taught him something, I’m sure. Perhaps taught him that it takes years to find success. Perhaps it taught him that the stage was his home. Perhaps it taught his how to hone his voice and musical skills.

Then Taylor spent some time in Nashville, knocking on the doors there, looking for a break. Instead, he went back home feeling rejected, only to find he might have had a chance if he went back one more time. He did go back, and go back he did! When Taylor Hicks took his first major tour on the road, Nashville was one of his stops. Instead of standing outside and looking into the Ryman Auditorium, that night, he was the star on stage. He was shining bright!

From time to time, Taylor Hicks would peddle his self-produced CDs to musical giants and less than giants, hearing “no” or “not the sound we’re looking for” or other such comments. Those times again had to be teachers and lessons learned, times when continuing may have seemed bleak, but that’s all he could do.

Then came what he saw as a last-ditch effort, one last chance to get his name out there: American Idol. When his plans to audition in Memphis were cancelled due to Hurricane Katrina, Taylor Hicks took advantage of free airline tickets received when he escaped that same storm in New Orleans – he went to Las Vegas. All he wanted was a chance to have his voice heard. And heard it was!

Nine months later, the baby that was conceived at that audition was birthed in a spectacular way. In a record-setting vote and amid the most successful season American Idol had ever had before or since, Taylor Hicks was crowned the Season 5 American Idol. His first single and winning song, “Do I Make You Proud” ended the show. The rise was just beginning!

That summer, the American Idol tour has its most successful tour! Many shows were quick sellouts. Even I had to resort to the secondary market to get seats – seats, not necessarily good seats! Taylor Hicks was doing his thing! You could see the excitement as he performed at each show!

With winning American Idol came that first professional album which earned him platinum status! Almost sellout spring and tours kept Taylor on the road and physically fit. Somewhere during a much needed rest were opportunities to play at various charity events, such as the Children’s Miracle Network, and the Liberty Bowl. And trips to the Philippines and Italy for more musical work and experience sandwiched in between as well as earning the ‘America’s Music Award’ for newcomers at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame!

And in a special announcement that was made several weeks ago on the Today Show, we knew, as fans and supporters, that Taylor Hicks was adding another opportunity: Taylor would be assuming the role of Teen Angel in Grease beginning June 6! Broadway! The Great White Way! Bright Lights, Big City! Broadway! No one, not even me, would have guessed that would have been the special announcement!

Opening night, by all accounts and judging from the press pictures, was a wonderful night! Taylor Hicks was all smiles and actually was ‘shining’ with pride and excitement! Even Taylor had called his Broadway experience ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’! There, in New York City, on the stage of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Taylor Hicks made his Broadway debut coming out of an ice cream cone high above the stage and then lowered to the stage floor where he crooned “Beauty School Dropout’ to Frenchy. Sporting a silver pompadour hairstyle and wearing a black sparkling suit and open front white shirt, Taylor Hicks gave his first major performance on Broadway, getting a chance to play his signature harmonica while dancing with the choreographed moves of the hand-jive and rock’n’roll beat of the music during the curtain call.

I read one person’s account of seeing Taylor Hicks in his Broadway debut – “Hicks' performance was spectacular. We all enjoyed watching him. Quite honestly, his role was what made the play great. If he wasn't in it, the play would have been average.” Now that comment made my heart swell with pride and excitement for Taylor!

While I may not have been at opening night in person, I was certainly there in spirit, cheering him own, with my own versions of ‘bravo’ and applause. From all the media that has been released since Friday night, I was able to see enough promotion to leave me excited about my own upcoming trip to New York City to see Grease and to watch Taylor Hicks once again “WOW!” the audience and hopefully leave them wanting more!

To add to the excitement and awe of the experience of opening night, Taylor Hicks was quickly whisked away from the stage door after being allowed to sign a few autographs and Playbills to his ‘hand printing’ at Planet Hollywood. Again the media was there to capture the moment as Taylor placed his hands in the molding frame and left his prints for all to see. Not just his hand print, but also that of his famous harmonica which I understand was another first for someone to do! Then with a wooding tool, wrote his name above his hand print. What a wonderful moment that had to have been for Taylor! He was positively glowing in the pictures and his smile said everything!

So I ask you again, whether you were there in person or spirit, can’t you just feel the pride, the exhilaration, the excitement, the joy that Taylor Hicks is experiencing right now! I certainly can! I’m as proud of Taylor’s accomplishments as I am of my own child and grandchildren! From bar room to Broadway in less than three years – now that’s quite an accomplishment for a Southern boy from Birmingham, Alabama. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

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Anonymous said...

Mandy..Like you I feel the pride & excitement for Taylor and what he has accomplished in 3 years. He does make us PROUD.
Bravo..yes indeed!!!

Anonymous said...

Am so glad he takes chances because it will only make him a better performer. Love the hair and glittery black suit. I am sure that he will make an impact on the role of Teen Angel .... his predecessor, Mr Buntrock was a Broadway regular and did a great job in the role.... but Taylor's Teen Angel will be uniquely his.

I think I read somewhere that he comes down in a Milkshake rather than an ice cream cone, but until I see the show, I won't know for sure. Can't wait.

Thanks Mandy for whetting my appetite.


Anonymous said...

O man, can we ever feel it! Great blog entry, Mandy!


KarinP said...

Mandy, your very descriptive blog about the road that Taylor has travelled is really quite amazing. Sometimes, those roads can be difficult and gruelling but often they are that way for a reason. Lessons to be learned, experiences to have in order to prepare us for the grand moments! Things may not always happen on the timetable that we expect but I do think that the timetable that is set for us is the best one.

Taylor has experienced many "firsts" during the past three years and he has always done so with amazement and appreciation of the opportunities that have come his way. The pictures of Taylor on opening night speak a thousand words and I can't begin to imagine what he was feeling inside.

For us, his fan base/supporters, there is no doubt that we are very proud of his accomplishments and I am willing to be that he will continue to amaze us as time goes on!

Thanks for the great blog, Mandy!

Anonymous said...

Mandy!! Great blog !! We all are so proud of him! Thank you so much for reminding us of how proud we are of him.


tygrlillie said...

How'd I miss you, Mandy? Anyhow - yes, I am so excited for him - doing the things I've always wanted and doing them so WELL!!!!!! I daresay those who are lucky enough to see him are in for a rare treat. I wish so much I could go, but finances won't allow me to. My heart is there though. Rock on, baby. Enjoy that spotlight!

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