This weekend I had the incredible opportunity to attend a portion of The young Americans 50th Reunion. I am completely overwhelmed by the scope of all that happened this weekend, and I have started a new job that is taking all of my creative energy so can't reflect and write about it just yet. That being said, my friend, Addam, wrote this beautiful observation and I wanted to share:
What an amazing era to be a part of this organization. While the 60s and 70s had so many incredible opportunities to work with legendary performers and the 80s had a seemingly unending line of divas I think we were afforded the witnessing of what seems to me, perhaps the greatest period of change.
At some point in the early 90's there was no Young Americans. The dream may have lived but for all legal purposes the organization was officially extinct.
Of the seemingly massive group that I had seen in the 80s, only a tiny group of people remained. Those folks that didn't jump ship are (nearly to a person) some of the most resiliant, headstrong, dependable, and admirable people I will ever know. Even at an age we now think of as children. It's hard to say if the group taught them to be these things or if these people were just this way by nature and happened to converge at the right place and time to keep things going.
It occured to me last night there was a magic that happened in the bankruptcy. If the group was to survive it had to change. I don't know if it ever would have on (what I know of) the course it was on.
Much like the Boyne shows are built around the individual people in the cast. The new incarnation of the organization would grow from the stuff these folks are comprised of. Greatly talented as performers, but more importantly as people.
This foundation gave birth to the NMOT. I don't know if the YA's could have done an outreach tour with the folks in 88. I'm not being critical of them, just saying their experience was different.
On paper, none of this should have worked out. An group that had seen glory days in the era of Perry Como should not have been able to survive in the same time frame as "Smells Like Teen Spirit". And it wouldn't have if we had continued relying on convention center shows and Boyne. We may have been able to draw out the death, but I don't believe the group would have made to to 2000 without NMOT. And I personally don't believe Milton and Bill would have had the confidence to send out the first one without knowing the kind of people they had at their disposal.
Once the NMOT started, being a part of the group felt much like entrepreneurship (without that pesky making money part). It was a world where hard work became reward. Our style of teaching grew from nearly nothing into the core principles of how the tours are conducted today. We learned by trial and error like some sort of music education pirate-gypsies. There were times where we had no money, times when we had no place to stay or food to eat but somehow just before the last bit of shit was about to hit the fan some inventive line of thought would solve or at least bandage the issue. These experiences helped shape all of our lives within the group and beyond. Seeing the current activities of the group really brought to mind the value of the folks that stuck around. Who they are as people casts a shadow you can still see in the mission and spirit of the modern organization.
So thanks to you guys. You know who you are
Since the age of sixteen my adventures in musical theater have taken me all over the country. For the next six months I will be coast hopping between New York and LA. Here are my stories.