Wishing you a good morning, post Memorial Day holiday weekend! Nothing of note to report on the Broadway Series front as auditions and casting continues this week for Paramount’s four productions for Season Five. However, remembrance of my own Dad who served in the U.S. Navy seemed more poignant this holiday. James Sr., “Jimmy Corti, The Trenton Buzz Saw,” started as a 15-year-old kid boxing during The Great Depression and later won the 1943 New Jersey State Golden Gloves Championship and was National Runner-Up and Eastern Champion that year. Dad continued his amateur career during World War II fighting on his ship with a perfect 20-0 record, all knock outs. Dad became a regular at New York’s Madison Square Garden fighting his way to a final professional mark of 70-7-2 and was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in ’93. Yesterday I recalled his funeral 11 years ago, how I was doing pretty well keeping it together until that young U.S. Navy corporal played “Taps” echoing through the stone mausoleum. It had a reverb effect through my psyche yesterday with an added resonance remembering yet another Chicago Theatre artistic director, dear friends, tragically killed on Thursday vacationing in Scotland. Another senseless, freakish car accident. A real sucker punch yet again for our community. PJ Paparelli of Chicago’s American Theatre Company was only 40 years old. PJ called me while developing The Original Grease for ATC at the suggestion of my old friend Jim Jacobs who wrote the show. I served as choreographer for that Jeff Award winning Best Musical. At odds with some and admired by many, PJ was driven and daring. We became friends, and I loved him. I regret I was not a better friend to him. So you see, dear reader, I hope you don’t mind that I open up this more personal, heavy-hearted blog to you this morning. I reflect on how we are all soldiers…how we are all fighters boxing our demons. TKO wins for all of us! And how grateful we are to be able to celebrate those who have made a difference fighting the good fight, giving it everything they’ve got. I think about the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in our U.S. Military…isn’t there an old quote…from the New Testament, I think …”greater love than this has no man than to lay down his life for his friends”…and for his country, I’d say too. Well, your ol’ artistic director will leave you with that, brothers and sisters. Can I get an “Amen” in here?
Love and thanks,