Friday, May 30, 2008

"What the Heck Did I just get myself into??"

A few months ago, I attended a 'Bring-a-friend-day' at Richmond SEAL Team PT. The instructor, John Maguire, a former Navy SEAL, kicked our butts all over the Carillon with more push-ups, sit-ups, crunches and bear crawls than I have ever done in my life. We ran sprints, vaulted up stairs and played tug-of-war in an intense workout regimen of nonstop, high intensity boot-camp-style exercise.

It was HARD. Harder than any physical workout I've ever done, and that includes running 26.2 miles. Trust me when I say that this stuff was difficult.

At one point in the workout, after having forced us to do like thirty push-ups (About NINE of which I probably did correctly), Instructor Maguire barked at us to pair up quickly to do sit-ups. I made eye contact with a guy named James, a middle-aged guy with a hardcore countenance and a Triathlete's physique. Instructor Maguire counted down from 5 to 1. James grabbed me and attempted to interlock our legs into the team sit-up position, but my feet were still splayed out wide. James whispered sternly and sharply "Lock in your LEGS-- LOCK IN YOUR LEGS!!"

Instructor Maguire had finished counting down, and our little James/Scott team wasn't ready. So, as punishment for my sluggishness, Instructor Maguire made the whole class of thirty do-- you guessed it-- More push-ups.

Oops. My bad. I thought "Way to make friends with the class, Mister-'just-visiting'-guy."

After the push-ups, we gave 'Pairing up' another try, and this time, I think James and I were ready by the time John counted down from 5 to 4. I had learned!!

Then, I watched in stunned amazement as James rattled off, I kid you not, 111 sit-ups. I sat there, counting into the triple digits, mouth agape. This guy James was like a machine. Just when it looked like he couldn't go further, he kicked into another gear and attacked those sit-ups with even fiercer determination.

Then James said "Your turn."

I struggled mightily to eek out 35 out-of-breath, poorly formed, punk-ass sit-ups. James helped me with the final few by easing my elbows to my knees with his hands, making my meager total at least a teeny bit more respectable. Thanks, dude.

This guy James is my new hero, I thought.

So then, John says to the group-- "If you've just set a new sit-up personal record, stand up."

So I stood up.

Everybody laughed.

John said "Sit down, you don't have a PR yet."

I thought "like hell I don't!! I just wheezed my ass off for those 'whack 35,' I want some recognition!!"

James stood up. 111 sit-ups. I thought, He had to have started somewhere... Maybe someday I could knock out that many perfect sit-ups...Dude is in killer shape...

So, that's where the seed was planted...

That was back in March, when the temperature was in the mid-40s. I was right at the peak of my marathon training, and the running sections were almost like getting a brief respite from the push-ups, which I have never, ever been any good at. Back in the '80s when I was in elementary school gym class, we had the President's Physical Fitness Test, and I think the seventy-plus year-old President Reagan could do more push-ups than me, even though I probably weighed about sixty-two pounds.

So it was with some mild surprise that I found myself with the phone in my hand this afternoon, in the middle of registering for the SEAL Team PT two-week basic fitness class which starts this Monday, June 2nd at 9:30am. As I hung up the phone, I thought of that grueling mid-March workout. I thought of the high-80s temperatures forecast for the Richmond area next week. My next thought was "What the heck did I just get myself into??"

So, wish me luck as I embark on the two-week adventure of a lifetime. It's time to see if I can access that Extra-Gear that I want to get in touch with-- to push my limits and really impact my half-marathon time in the June 14 XDURO Trail Race.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to practice my HOO-YA!!

For more information about Richmond SEAL TEAM PT, visit their website or call (804)-262-1894

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Promoting the heck outta GUYS AND DOLLS!!

Barksdale Theatre is really promoting the summer show at the Empire in a fast & furious manner, and I'm always glad to help out.

I was recently interviewed on B-103.7 FM to Promote the Barksdale Production of Guys and Dolls as part of the WMXB 'Listener Rewards Program.' You can here the brief interview via streaming audio here.

I'm playing Nathan Detroit, the super-squeezed, conniving crapshooter. It's a role I really love, and I'm having loads of fun in rehearsals. Barksdale Audiences are really lucky, as we've got Rachel Abrams (Adelaide) and Rita Markova (Sarah Brown) back from last year's production of Into the Woods, and LA-Based actor Jody Ashworth playing Sky Masterson. I'm also thrilled to finally be working with the uber-talented Jason Marks for the first time as 'Nicely-Nicely' Johnson.

Be sure to read my recent post on the Barksdale Theatre Blog for some fun rehearsal-related ruminations!!

Guys and Dolls opens June 13th and closes August 17th. Call 804-282-2620 for tickets and information!! Don't miss out!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Catching My Breath... With a few links.

The last few months for me have been a non-stop roller-coaster of rehearsals, auditions, performances and writing deadlines. I just finished the run of The FIREHOUSE THEATRE CABARET, a fast-paced, fun variety show at the Firehouse Theatre Project, which I had the privilege to both Direct AND appear in. You can read the recent STYLE review here.

Now, at the same time I was Directing and acting in The FTP CABARET, I was also Directing and Acting in a touring show for Theatre IV-- which I also wrote-- titled THE AIR WE SHARE. The show focused on alternative transportation, conservation, and environmental stewardship. Co-Produced by GRTC and Ridefinders (The local transit company), THE AIR WE SHARE was a rousing success. The show visited about 80 area schools and equipped students and their families with different tools to conserve energy and reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels.

The run of THE AIR WE SHARE was parallel to the run of the FTP CABARET, so on most weekdays I would get up at 6am, do two THE AIR WE SHARE shows, come home, take a nap, eat, then go to the Firehouse Theatre for an evening performance of the FTP CABARET. It was exhausting work, and I'm still kind of 'Zapped' from it all. To top it all off, my pal Eddie Garcia was in from LA filming a Movie, and he crashed on our couch for a month while Jennie studied feverishly to pass her Personal Training Certification Exam (She passed, by the way, and now she's kicking my BUTT!!) Throw in the two dogs and two cats in our small apartment, and the last few months have been eerily similar to the scene in that Marx Brothers Movie where twenty people fill a small Stateroom on a steamship. Pure Chaos.

Yet, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm really proud of the work I've been a part of recently. One of the most exciting parts about my new relationship with GRTC just arrived in my mailbox. See, out of the touring show experience arose the opportunity to write a comic book based on the TEAM RIDEFINDERS characters which GRTC has been pushing as part of their 'Clean Air Hero' campaign. I wrote the script for the comic book and lucked out when Pat Godfrey, owner/operator of Velocity Comics agreed to do the art work. I just received a copy of the book, and it looks great!!

My next writing project will be the book and lyrics for Theatre IV's tour THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF with Julie Fulcher penning the music. I'm excited to be collaborating with Julie again-- we worked together on the 2003 premiere of THE JUNGLE BOOK, a musical which Theatre IV toured around the country and Barksdale put on it's Mainstage. Julie always has fantastic ideas, and her spirit and humor make her a joy to work with.

This week I also started rehearsals for GUYS AND DOLLS at Barksdale Theatre. I'm playing Nathan Detroit, a role I had a lot of fun with eight years ago at Swift Creek Mill Theatre in Colonial Heights. I'm really enjoying the cast camaraderie, and Director Patti D'Beck's energy is a renewable resource. Girlfriend could power a small town. She's awesome, and she brings some serious Broadway credits to Barksdale.

Meanwhile, Director James Ricks has been going full steam ahead with preparations for our production of RICHARD III at Henley Street Theatre. The casting is complete, and I will say that now that this thing is going to happen, I'm starting to feel that trepidation that one must feel before one jumps out of an airplane. It is going to be hard work, this one, but I'm really looking forward to us pulling off something special, provocative, and unique.

On the athletic front, Jennie and I will be running the Richmond XTERRA on June 14th at Brown's Island. Jennie will be doing the XTERRA 10k (6.2 Miles) and I'll be doing the XDURO 21k (13.1 Miles). They are both Trail Races, with a high degree of challenging obstacles in the summer heat. I'm still looking towards the NORTH FACE ENDURANCE CHALLENGE 50-Miler in the fall, and the XDURO will be my first trail race since the Sixth Grade. Color me excited!!

Well, that's it for now-- I should be blogging with a little more regularity on things like sports, movies, music and life pretty soon. I'll have more stuff coming more often, so stay tuned!!


Scott Wichmann