Rella Jr., Richard. “Human Contact.” Backstage 4-10 Mar. 2010: Vol. 51, No. 9

I just came back from another stint on the National Tour of “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding.” We performed at the historic Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, NY.  Originally built as a vaudeville house in 1925, Proctors has seen its stage graced by such legendary performers as comedians Red Skelton, George Burns and Gracie Allen, magicians Harry Blackstone Sr. & Jr., and bandleaders Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Glenn Miller. In recent years, they have hosted entertainers including Tony Bennett, Carol Channing and Robert Goulet. This 2,100 seat theatre is also a major stop for most National Touring companies. In fact, my wife performed here years ago on the National tour of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” I love theater history, so having the opportunity to sing twenty- two songs on these historic and meaningful boards is a truly unique experience.

The best aspect of touring though is the ability that I have to create my daily routine. Like clockwork, I am up by 7AM. I have a relaxing breakfast by myself, answer emails, and check in at home. I’m working out by 10AM and reviewing any notes from the previous day until lunch at 12PM. I’ll get to the theatre by 2PM and immediately get to work stretching and vocalizing. When the sound engineer arrives at 4PM we will work together for the next few hours tightening cues. I’ll get to makeup and wardrobe by 6PM and curtain by 7:30PM. I never allow anything to get in the way of this routine and I know that I definitely reap the rewards for sticking to this schedule.

When I get back to Staten Island however, I am promptly greeted with a dirty diaper. I have a twenty two month old daughter who, thanks to SKYPE, I have at least been able to see for the past few weeks. Before we even leave the train station, my wife gives me a laundry list of tasks and a myriad of problems to solve. Getting back to my “home life” is the most difficult transition for me. When I’m on the road I can truly focus on acting, singing, working out – me. When I’m home, my focus is pulled in all different directions. Don’t get me wrong, I love my home life. This is just part of the challenge as well as the allure of this career. I had a “real job” and I got bored, complacent. I felt myself and my gifts dying a little bit every day until that glorious morning when I decided, much to my mother’s chagrin, to decline my contract at Monmouth University. As frightening as it was to lose that job stability, I was only twenty five years old and I needed to pursue my career as a performer.

The interesting, exciting, and ever changing dichotomy of my touring life versus my home life will energize me for weeks and months to come. I’ll try, often in vain, to stick to a schedule while home. I’ll squeeze in workouts while my daughter naps, vocal lessons between family visits, auditions between background work, acting classes between auditions, and I’ll rejoin the Off-Broadway cast of “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding.” As much as I like being on the road, it’s good to be home.