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BWW Blog: Jesse Swimm of Tuacahn's MARY POPPINS - Windstorms and Farewells

October 7
8:12 AM 2013

There is something very interesting about working in an outdoor venue... the desert a canyon.

When the wind blows, it really, really blows. I'm not talking 5,10, or even 15 miles per hour; I'm talking about gusts of up to 42 miles per hour. It is kind of a surreal experience, especially when the show you are doing that night involves tossing your hat to someone or throwing wadded up pieces of typewriter paper at the audience. It doesn't really work the way you intended it to. Such was the case for us when we had to do our production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie". In Act 2 our girls during "Forget About the Boy", in a show of strength and defiance, triumphantly throw their papers at the audience. Well this time the papers not only flew but also right back at them, much to the delight of the entire male ensemble backstage, which had no problem laughing their collective asses off in true support and camaraderie, lol. I know it may not seem like much but imagine if you will, about 15 wadded up pieces of paper flying wildly around an 80 foot wide stage all this while our girls were desperately trying to complete a tap number in the wind storm, not to mention also trying to keep their skirts from going up over their heads. Luckily that was the worst of our problems unlike the windstorms earlier in the season that managed to blow over our entire set of "Millie". It was quite a spectacle but we have one of the hardest working crews and they managed to get it back up and in working order just minutes before a sold out house.

The wind also managed to make a mess of "Mary Poppins". As anyone knows who has seen "Mary Poppins" she flies...a lot. So it goes without saying that if there is wind she probably can't fly. We have 6 flights in the show. 3 more than we had in New York and the tour. Here Mary flies from the back of the canyon on stage. She flies out into the house over the audience, I fly, even the children fly. It's incredible. However with those 42 mile an hour gust the thought of Mary and the kids doing loop de loops, while hilarious, it isn't the safest thing so sadly as we approached each flight one by one they were cut. Now mind you we have contingency plans but they aren't as spectacular. The one however I was worried about was mine. In New York if a technical problem arose we had a tap solo to do, here it's a little different. So when the time came to fly me it was surprisingly calm. I made my way up and just as the wind was about to gust again at the moment I flip upside down it just stopped. It was kind of eerie. I was extremely thankful for this, as being blown back and forth 40 feet upside down is not something someone who is afraid of heights wants to deal with.

As for the rest of the week besides being consumed by the almighty elements we were all thinking about the departure of one of our dear cast members, Talese Hunt, who recently found out she is going to be on the Radio City Rockette Christmas Tour. It is always a mixed bag of joy and sadness when someone leaves a show. I think people who aren't in our business don't realize how much of a family a show can truly be. Most of the time regional gigs aren't long enough for someone to leave but this one is definitely the exception. I mean the whole idea of leaving your life for months or even years at a time and immersing yourself with a large group of people you have never met before to put on a show would seem ridiculous under normal circumstances. But it's what we love to do. We make our show friends and move on, but sometimes, as it is with this cast, you really bond with everyone and it is the most spectacular experience. It makes it even harder when someone, who is as loved like Talese, leave. You want their departure to be special because this experience has been nothing short of wonderful. So I asked a good friend of mine here in St. George to make this gorgeous Rockette cake and it turned out better than I could have imagined. It was stunning and delicious....pumpkin mousse, we also managed to get four, count 'em four pumpkin pies. I think I might have had a coronary from all the sugar I ingested. Which is why the gym is a necessary evil.

And I managed to actually go this time....

Till we meet again Talese......

Windstorm devastation

The side view

The Rockette Cake

Talese's Final show ("Starlight Express")

Made it to the gym finally, with Eric Badique and Eymard Cabling

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Guest Blogger: Jesse Swimm Jesse, has spent the last 20 years working extensively throughout New York, Nationally, and Internationally. He was Action in Broadway choreographer Joey McKneely's hit international production of "West Side Story". Jesse was also a member of the European tours of "A Chorus Line" and "Grease" for which he was the dance captain and set over 5 companies throughout Europe. Other productions include “High Button Shoes” at the Tony Award winning theatre The Goodspeed Opera House, “Swing”, “Beauty and the Beast”, "Footloose", "Singin' in the Rain", "Jesus Christ Superstar", "Anything Goes", "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown", multiple productions of "A Chorus Line", numerous industrials and a few years at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. Jesse also completed the role of Bobby in a newly revised version of Kander and Ebb’s “The Rink” at The Cape Playhouse starring Leslie Uggams and was in China for the Macau International Music Festival in “Guys and Dolls”. Jesse was the Dance Captain/Swing on the Cameron Mackintosh/Trevor Nunn/Matthew Bourne National Tour of “My Fair Lady” direct from London’s National Theatre in the West End. Most recently Jesse was a part of the 1st National Tour (original cast) and closing Broadway company of Mary Poppins where he understudied and performed the role Bert as well as the US regional premiere of Mary Poppins at the Tuacahn Amphitheater in the role of Bert. Currently Jesse is playing the role of Nachum the Beggar at the Tony Award winning Goodspeed Opera House.

Jesse has also worked with such legendary Broadway director/choreographer/producers as Cameron Mackintosh, Trevor Nunn, Matthew Bourne, David Marquez, Tony Award Winner Andy Blankenbeuhler, Tony Award nominee Lara Teeter, Michael Butler, and Nightmare Creations duo Melissa Williams and Carla Kama who are choreographers for international music sensation Prince. Jesse, a California State University of Fullerton alumnus, is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. He is also the proud dad of a rescue dog, and encourages everyone to open their homes to a four-legged friend.


CenterPoint Legacy Theatre
(Runs 10/3 - 10/29)
Once Upon a Mattress
Cedar Valley Community Theatre
(Runs 5/27 - 6/6)
Heritage Community Theatre
(Runs 8/19 - 9/10)
Rock of Ages in Salt Lake CityRock of Ages
The Ziegfeld Theater
(Runs 6/3 - 6/25)
DJ Productions
(Runs 8/4 - 8/8)