BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past

"To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past."

There's an old adage that goes something like this, if you really want to know a person...walk a mile in their shoes.

Earlier this week, with Dick Scanlan as our guide, the cast took a road trip to where the stories of Molly Brown began. As our entourage rose to the 10,152 foot elevation, our ears popped and our eyes opened. Sure, most of us had seen mountains and valleys before. But none of us have had our breath taken away, literally, while doing so. Quickly now, close your eyes for a minute or so and imagine what a silver mine looks like. (Pause, go ahead...close them). Did you happen to notice what its surroundings were, and possibly how long it might have taken to get to the mine's entrance? A fairly large percentage of our pop-culture population has a clear image of Scooby, Shaggy and the gang's adventures through a dark forest and winding paths, eventually stumbling upon a hidden entrance. We were all surprised at how prolific these mines were. It would be akin to how quickly one Starbucks coffee shop might pop up across the street from another, that itself may have only recently opened.

After a quick refresh at the local coffee shop City on a Hill (friendly, delicious, non-franchised) and an even quicker debate on whether or not to buy a logo-souvenir (no dear...I didn't), we headed to the Matchless Mine. When I say that we may have overwhelmed them with our large group, I'm not exaggerating. Our tour guide, "KoKo", was an incredibly friendly and knowledgeable young man who in my estimation was up to the task at hand. As he led us into the past, we discovered what a hardscrabble existence these miners lived. They came from almost every corner of the globe. Speaking different languages and having differing belief systems or educational levels didn't matter to these men. The work was grueling, dangerous and sometimes fatal. The only "rule" or governance this brotherhood of miners had, was trust. And much like in theater, trust was the key to their existence and survival. If you could be trusted in the confines of the mine, you were in. Period.

Koko went on to explain that in this mining community, women weren't allowed near the mines. After some grumbling from our crowd, he further explained that the common belief (at least back then) was the miners needed to stay focused on what they were doing. A "gal" was thought of as an easy distraction. And with lives on the line, the risk was too great. This little nugget of information propelled many of us into reflecting upon Molly Brown's push for social change during her life. As this portion of the tour came to a close, we had the suspicion "Koko" had been auditioning to be one the Miner's. Thinking back, he had the right look...but we never heard him sing. Ah, well next time.

We next ventured to the Delaware Hotel to meet a silver-haired spinner of tales. Our new guide, Robert began the second leg by taking us to the Annunciation Catholic Church where "J.J.", James Joseph Brown and Margaret "Molly" Tobin were wed. As we took in the timeless splendor of the church and gathered in its pews, a spontaneous rendering of Willson's "May The Good Lord Bless and Keep You" overtook us. It was peaceful, heartwarming. Afterwards, we clambered into our SUVs whereby Robert then led us further on our adventure. Do you remember when I mentioned earlier that the mines were prolific? That was an understatement. Through winding unpaved roads, we discovered mine upon mine upon mine. Robert had us pause momentarily at a vista that overlooked what had once been called "Stumpville." Looking down into the smallish valley, we all had the sense that long ago this had been a bustling town. Walking the dusty roads put us all in awe of the men and women who lived and worked this existence. Driving further into the valley, we stopped at the remnants of what is believed to have been Molly and J.J.'s first home. Nothing is left there now but the stone footprint of the foundation and a smattering of broken dishware. At one time, Leadville Colorado had been considered the silver capitol of the world.

As we returned to Leadville proper, looking up from the valley we were once again reminded how the repeal of the Sherman Silver Act had decimated this once thriving town. Luckily for J.J. Brown (and Molly as well), his engineering efforts paved the way to one of the largest gold ore strikes of the time period. And thanks to "Koko" and Robert, we now had a sense of who these people were and how to fill their shoes. But before we leave Leadville for Denver, it's time for a trip back to 1879 at the Silver Dollar Saloon. Good food, great conversation and a round of "Belly Up to the Bar Boys" made for an incredible trip. Now it's back to the rehearsal studios with our connection to the past.

high res photos

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past
Overlooking Stumpville outside of LEADVILLE, CO. (Back Row LtoR; Constantine Germanacos, Jesmille Darbouze, Gregg Goodbrod, Omar Lopez-Cepero, Stephanie Martignetti, John Scherer, Keven Quillon, Burke Moses, Rommy Sandhu, Paulo Montalban. Front Row; Donna English, Dick Scanlan, David Dabbon, Kristie Kerwin, Karl Josef Co, Cameron Adams, Alex Finke, Michael Halling, Jason Lee Garrett, Patty Goble) Photo by Keven Quillon

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past
Stumpville as it exists today.

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past
The Company with Robert, our mine guide.

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past
Mine carts at the Matchless Mine and our cast. Photo by Keven Quillon (and Koko, our tour guide.)

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past
Burke Moses examining the model of the original mine.

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past
“Koko" (in blue shirt and ball cap), leads us to the Matchless Mine.

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past
The Matchless Mine, founded 1878.

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past
James Joseph "J.J.� Brown and Margaret “Call Me Molly� Tobin’s wedding certificate at the Annunciation Catholic Church in Leadville.

BWW Blog: Rommy Sandhu of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - To Understand the Present, Learn from the Past
Annunciation Catholic Church, Leadville Colorado

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Guest Blogger: Rommy Sandhu For over 20 years, Rommy Sandhu has worked continuously as a director, choreographer, actor, singer, dancer, and teacher in productions encompassing Broadway, off-Broadway, national tours, regional theatre, television, film, universities, and more. Throughout his career he has worked with many of Broadway’s top directors and

choreographers, including Tony Award winners Susan Stroman, Kathleen Marshall, Graciela Daniele, Matthew Bourne, George C. Wolfe, Richard Eyre, Michael Blakemore, and Trevor Nunn. Mr. Sandhu has directed and/or choreographed numerous productions off-Broadway, at the NY Fringe Festival, for CUNY and Hofstra University, and the opening numbers of the Broadway Cares/EFA 26th Annual Easter Bonnet and 23rd/24th Annual Gypsy of The Year competitions. He has staged multiple productions of

Disney/Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, notably the US Regional premier at Tuacahn Center for the Arts (choreographer) as well as Coeur D’Alene Summer Theater (director/choreographer). More recent work includes staging and choreography for Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve starring Ann Harada (Avenue Q, Cinderella, Smash). He also staged the finale production number of Something Good: A Broadway Salute to Richard Rodgers on His 100th Birthday. Additionally, he served as associate choreographer for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on Broadway, New York City Center Encores’ Bells Are Ringing and Applause, the off-Broadway premier of The Ark at 37 ARTS, the original pre-Broadway workshop of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and regional productions of Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm, and Maury Yeston’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen.

As a performer, Mr. Sandhu has appeared on Broadway in Mary Poppins, A Christmas Carol, Oklahoma! (all as dance captain), Bombay Dreams, Annie Get Your Gun, On The Town, The Life, Sweet Charity in Concert, Children and Art, and in the first national tours of Carousel and Kiss Me, Kate (dance captain). He has also been featured on the hit television series Smash, and in multiple Tony Award and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade telecasts. As an educator, Mr. Sandhu serves as adjunct faculty for NYU’s CAP 21 program and Marymount Manhattan College’s musical theatre department, as well

as being a frequent guest instructor at Broadway Dance Center and Onstage New York.


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