BWW Blog: Meet Jesse Swimm of Tuacahn's MARY POPPINS
6 months, 172 days, 4,128 hours...but hey, who's counting
It's October 4th, 2013...where did all the time go?
In a way it feels like I just got here and in other ways it feels like I have been away for years.
I guess I should back track briefly. About 6 months ago I packed up the contents of my apartment in a rental SUV, my dog, and headed west for Ivins, Utah so that I could star as Bert in the regional premiere of "Mary Poppins" at The Tuacahn Amphitheatre in Utah. I have a long history with the show as a cast member of the original National Tour and as a member of the closing Broadway Company so getting to portray Bert the first time regionally was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I didn't know much about the theatre other than I would be doing 3 shows in rep ("Starlight Express" and "Thoroughly Modern Mille"), that is was outside amongst some of the most beautiful scenery that anyone could ever ask for, and oh that I would be doing the infamous Bert walk 40 feet in the air and across 80 feet of stage. Not that I'm afraid of heights or anything like that, I mean why would I put myself through that???
The rehearsal process itself was something I had never experienced. We basically had 6 weeks to put up two shows at once (we put the National Tour together in 7 weeks). It was an incredible process and I have to hand it to the cast and creative staff for pulling it off. Not only did the cast have to learn the entire show of "Mary Poppins" from our wonderful director Scott Anderson and all of the choreography from my good friend Rommy Sandhu (who was also in the original Broadway show and closed it with me) but the cast had to learn how to roller skate on the days we weren't doing "Mary Poppins". Now you would think once we were done with that we could rest and celebrate but if you do recall I did say 3 shows so the minute we opened "Mary Poppins" and "Starlight Express" we went straight into rehearsal for 4 and a half weeks with the talented Jeffry Denman at the helm for "Millie" whilst doing the other two shows at night. To say it was daunting would be an understatement. But I am proud to say we pulled through and I am fortunate enough to work with some of the most talented and gifted performers nightly.
As for my time here in Utah, it has been quite the adventure. I wake up every morning around 10 a.m.; well actually my dog wakes me up so that we can go on her "morning ritual". We take our morning stroll around the quietest neighborhood known to man where everyone knows your name, it's like an episode of "Cheers" except without the booze, I mean we are in Utah after all. It has been quite the odd experience for someone who lives in NYC where most of the time you don't any of your neighbors. But my dog Sara loves it and everyday we get to go and worship the almighty tennis ball at the local Mormon church around the corner (I live in the desert and they have the nicest grass around for miles) for about a half hour till she is completely exhausted and lies there like a sack. I try to make it to the gym every other day; the key word being here is "try". Then I come home have some food watch some bad local TV and rest up before I do one of 3 shows.
I have seen some of the most incredible landscapes to known to man here. Zion National Park is only an hour away and if it weren't for, um, a small shutdown shall we say, I'd be there right now. However we have filled up our time here quite nicely, even without Zion open. We've thrown parties, had birthdays (mmmm cake), gone miniature golfing, seen movies, been in parades, and made some truly incredible friendships. Recently this past weekend we made our pilgrimage to the holy land of Las Vegas for a birthday trifecta of epic proportion. I have to say going to a pool party in Vegas is quite a treat and to top it off tickets to see Zumanity courtesy of my good friend Will Wood, (who is an electrician on the show) was a very nice end to a wonderful weekend. As for the rest of this week it has been quite wonderful now that the weather has cooled down and it isn't over 100 degrees. We hiked through the Kanarraville Falls; saw some movies (Don Jon is a must), and tonight we will head to our local bar (the only one in town) to do a little Karaoke. I could go on but there is still a month to go and I don't want to give it all away so till next time.......
Day 1 at Tuachahn. Yes that thin black strip at the top is where I will tap dancing as Bert in "Mary Poppins", yikes!!!
Sara is very happy with her tennis ball. The more slobber, the better!!!
How I get around town, my 2005 Honda Metro, the cast nicknamed it Yoshi, lol.
Remember I said I was 40 ft in the air upside down..
Press day at "Fresh Living" with John Preator (Jimmy in "Millie"), Laura Taylor (Millie), Delaney Westfall (Pearl in "Starlight Express"), and Steven Goldsmith (Rusty in "Starlight Express")