Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Me and My Three Best Friends

Besides sheer talent and a wicked sense of humor, a funny through line that seems to string together some of my favorite up-and-composers over the past couple of years seems to be none other than Nick Blaemire, the composer of Broadway's Glory Days and a fantastic actor in his own right. In fact, I joke that the young New York theatre scene could easily be linked through "The Six Degrees of Nick Blaemire," since he always seems to have a hand in my own theater-going experiences.

Aside from his own writing, I was first captivated by his performance as Chris in Joe Iconis' The Black Suits at The Public's SPF. Ignoring my sheer love of Iconis's music and his merry band of faithful singers/actors, it was Blaemire's gut-wrenching portrayal of a Long Island garage band leader that really got my attention, bringing gravity to what could have easily been a comically crude coming-of-age story. Much of the show's transcendence is due to Joe Iconis and Robert Maddock's quick-paced (despite 3+ hour run time) book and Iconis' hilariously poignant songs. But I can't possibly think of that musical without thinking of this song and that moment of being in that theater, transfixed by the immediacy of what was going on in front of me.



I just remember thinking to myself:


Shit.
This is good stuff.


And since then, he seems to pop up in a ton of projects that I absolutely adore. From performing in Kerrigan and Lowdermilk's The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown, to singing pretty songs in Ryan Scott Oliver's Rated RSO, to singing the hell out of more Iconis tunes in Things to Ruin, to appearing yet again at SPF in The Departure Lounge and singing a couple of songs in that year's Composure Exposure event.

And as though that's not enough, at the tender age of 23, he had a musical up on Broadway—albeit its opening night was also its closing performance—still a feat that has contributed to my determination to have some kind of successful creative project by 23 (well, him and Lady Gaga anyway).

Despite the fact that he's played a character in at least a couple of "Bro Musicals" over the past couple years, Glory Days remains its own animal, a heartfelt send-up to "generation apathy" and the inevitable disillusionment of growing up and apart from childhood friends. The music is modern with lyrics that roll off the tongue in a frenetic but relentlessly tuneful way. And even the most clich├ęd of male sentiments finds its own sophistication as the show tells the story of four high school buddies who reunite a year after graduation to find that their relationships aren't the same as their glorified memories of what they used to be.

This song is brilliant in its startlingly observant view of the world (written, as James Gardiner, the book writer of Glory Days, mentioned at the cast recording release concert, within the span of a few hours):



And this song never ceases to amaze me in way the music weaves through space and time:



There's something about both his songs and performances that is so admirably in the moment and self-aware. There's a sense that his characters are always aware of their flaws and fears, and they push them aside so that they can continue living, pushing through the moments of introspection with a little bit of wordplay and mustered confidence. I can only see even more success in Blaemire's future, and his current project Finding Robert Hutchens already looks incredibly promising. No matter what is on the horizon for him, on stage or off, I will be excited to be a part of it… and with my luck, I'll probably be in the audience whether or not I know he's involved beforehand.



…And did I mention his voice is like buttah?

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