WELCOME TO MY OFFICIAL BLOGSITE.
Wednesday Aug 1, 2018
Back home from a fruitful trip to New York for the Dramatists Guild Conference. My first. It was absolutely wonderful. The highlight for me, of course, was having the great opportunity to be a part of Paula Vogel’s four hour Master class.
What an enormous thrill it was to be in that room. If it were an eight hour class I would have taken it. Any writers out there if you have the chance to be in any of Paula’s classes Take it. It was truly mind blowing.
Towards the end of the class we put into practice what was learned by doing a bake off. She gave us a half an hour to write a play on various themes she came up with. It was at once terrifying and thrilling. The writer geek in me couldn’t wait to get started. To create a world that before she gave us this assignment didn’t exist. It was true bliss.
I came back from the bathroom break, picked up my laptop from the table I was sitting at for her lecture and moved towards the back of the room and began to breathe. Inhale. Exhale.
The energy in the room was electrifying. Everyone internally creating at once. It was magical.
I then began to write.
Before I knew it the half hour was up. I went back to my seat at the table and listened.
Paula said we’d only have time for 3 or 4 playwrights to read their play. Immediately I could feel everyone brace. I breathed.
The first play was read. We applauded. I then raised my hand. Connected with Paula. She smiled. I stood up and read what will now be my fourth writing project. I was encouraged by the class and Paula to make it a full length.
There are no words for the joy I felt in my heart that Pulitzer Prize winning Paula Vogel loved my writing. As she puts it, my voice. I am humbled and moved.
I also had the great opportunity to connect and re-connect with colleagues who I have long admired -Charlayne Woodard, Dael Orlandersmith, Lynn Ahrens; and to see and hear other greats I love, Lynn Nottage, Lydia Diamond, Doug Wright, Christine Toy Johnson, Kristen Childs, Kirsten Anderson Lopez and Bobby Lopez. This was a week I will not soon forget.
At present I have been regularly auditioning for tv actor work, which has been intense but in a very good way. Living in Denver, I put myself on tape when it’s requested. So that’s been fun too. Getting to enjoy the process of creating a character, even if only for an audition, is always great and it’s nice to keep that muscle active.
I’m at a place in my life where whatever is meant will be. Be it my plays finding a home for a production or readings to a hopeful booking of a series regular role to simply living life at its present moment here at home with my husband, our dogs and friends. I am at peace.
Looking forward to being a part of this beautiful Denver theatre arts community.
Sending love and peace to everyone and hoping your day is good.
Thursday July 26, 2018
Today was a WOW day. I was fortunate to take a four hour writer’s boot camp with Paula Vogel today.
She. Is. Extraordinary. My mind was blown. Everything about her brought a smile to my heart. Her passion for the arts, writing and its relevancy today kept me on the edge of my seat.
Being in the room with these writers from all over brought out the geek in me. Which I must admit isn’t hard to do with any art form. But to sit in a room listening and learning from a master of the craft is heaven to me. True bliss.
The Dramatists Live was pretty special as well. I am thoroughly enjoying my first Dramatists Guild conference.
To top off the evening I got to witness dear friends and colleagues be brilliant in Hamilton this evening. I’ve seen it three times now. Each with a different cast. For me, it’s the kind of theatre where you get to have a new experience each time. That’s how brilliant the material is. And all of the exquisite artists interpreting that work of art.
Lin Manuel Miranda. Another extraordinary human being.
So much is going on in our world at present. Much Art is going on to. So happy to be a part of creating Art for today and tomorrow’s past.
Peace and love to us all.
Saturday July 14, 2018
What an honor it was to attend my longtime and dear friend’s Q. Smith and Lawrence Stallings’ (now The Stallings) wedding. They were both glowing. Quiana looked like a beautiful princess in her wedding dress. Lawrence was a dashing groom. All of us there beamed with pride and love for them.
It was great seeing friend’s I hadn’t seen in a long time and making new friends while there.
Their wedding was in Hawaii, which was simply beautiful. I had never been. Although I didn’t find a hike I did get to visit the Byodo-In Temple. Which is a non-demominational Temple. The Buddha shrine was breathtaking. The temple was dedicated in August 1968 to commemorate the 100 year Anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.
My first night I met a beautiful couple at The Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Honolulu. We had such wonderful conversation about the Hawaiian culture, history and the arts.
They wrote a book called, ‘The Vog’, a fictional tale about the mist in Hawaii. I ordered it on Amazon. Looking forward to reading it.
On my final day there, I was there for five, I made an in the moment decision and did an epic zip line tour at CLIMB Works Keana Farms. My husband and I went once in Tulum and enjoyed it very much, this time was great too.
Found a beach, laid out, read, meditated, got in the water and sat with my breath.
Taking in the continued gratitude.
May your day be a good one. Peace and Love to us All.
Sunday July 8, 2018
Yesterday all of our furniture arrived. :)) After two weeks of living in our new home without the majority of it, we are Finally settled in.
But despite being without, it was at times lovely eating dinner on the steps together or eating out at local restaurants up the street. Watching tv on a makeshift couch made up of pillows and using boxes of books as support.
Taking the moments as they come and grateful for each new day.
Excited to be attending my dear friend’s Q. Smith and Lawrence Stallings wedding this coming week. It is an honor to know them. Their love, compassion and joy they have for life and each other is a beautiful thing.
Been working on a musical project my longtime friend, Caren Tackett (fka Caren Lyn Manuel) wrote called, ‘SLIDE’, a tale of mental illness. It’s quite wonderful. She is such an extraordinary artist. Her music is infectious and moving and she is a brilliant performer and an extraordinary human being. I am honored she has invited me on her journey of art creation. And thrilled we get to work on it here at home in Colorado. Looking forward to seeing what this can be on a theatrical stage. Grateful for the opportunity.
Friday June 29, 2018
Thank you DCPA Education department for having me in to conduct a two day acting intensive Master Class. What an incredible bunch of aspiring artists. No one was there for the “result” they all were invested in the journey.
I was inspired by these young people and the teachers who are enriching their lives with arts in education on a daily. Art saves. Art heals. Art gives hope.
In February I had the honor of being asked to give the key note speech at the Mississippi Thespian Conference in Tulupa, Mississippi. It was life changing. I had such an incredible and inspired time in my two days there.
My dear friend and exceptional educator, Erick Weeks, who invited me down, also asked if I would be open to adjudicating their one act festival as well. I said yes.
As I sat watching these one acts all day with my fellow adjudicators it brought a smile to my heart to be in this diverse room filled with people who were all there in support of the Arts and the great importance of it.
These young people and their teachers put on such brave and thoughtful work. They all applauded each other at the end of each piece. Truly being there for one another. No competition. No us against them. They were a community. In that room we all were a community. It was beautiful.
This post is for all of the educators who work tirelessly in helping today’s young people grow into tomorrow’s future.
I believe there is more good in our world than the other. It may be a bit harder to find but it’s there. May your day be a great one. Have a wonderful weekend. Peace and love to us all.
Wednesday June 20, 2018
Today it became a bit more real. Our furniture arrived from the Pacific Northwest and we’ve begun the process of moving into our new home. The painters finished this morning. My heart was smiling all day.
It’s been a pretty great past few weeks here in Colorado. Outside of daily hikes, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Shambhala Mountain Center. A friend and I hiked this beautiful place and took a visit inside the Supta and sat in meditation with some others.
This past weekend I was fortunate to experience the bliss and joy that is the Hanaman Festival in Boulder with my friend of 19 years, Caren Tackett (formerly Caren Lyn Manuel), it’s pretty wonderful that she and her husband live here in the Denver area too. Looking forward to creating and collaborating on art with her.
Chris and I attended our first Denver Pride parade as well. It was GREAT. We had a blast and what a turn out. It was actually the first time we walked in a Gay pride parade. Felt really good.
Have a wonderful day everyone.
Thursday June 7, 2018
Back home and life is good. Went on another beautiful morning hike with Logan. We get Trevor back from his training camp in two weeks. Looking forward to that. Have a wonderful day everyone.
Monday June 4, 2018
Today was a very special day. What an honor it was to be at the Theatre World Awards to present Hailey Kilgore with her honor. So many things. What a beautiful young woman she is. I couldn’t be more proud and elated at how life is blessing her. It was also great seeing old friends and new. What a special community of people the New York theatre community is. I feel no matter where I live NYCwill always be my first chosen home. But I must say I absolutely LOVE living in Denver. There is a spiritual connection there I can’t describe. From the mountain hikes to the meditations. Every where else will be great to visit for vacation or work. Denver, Colorado is home.
At the ceremony today it was the first time I spoke in public like that and it felt really good. The social anxiety I had for so long was gone. I am beyond grateful.
When you are told you will no longer have the ability to do something you’ve spent your life doing it is truly hard. I can honestly say that last year was the most difficult time of my adult life. I am grateful to everyone who was there for me. I made it through and wake up grateful every day for this new beginning.
Friday June 1, 2018
If you don’t already know, in 2017 I was told by doctors that I would not be able to sing or speak “normally” again after being diagnosed with having the neurological disorder, Spasmodic Dysphonia. I am overjoyed to share that I have regained the ability to sing and speak with normalcy. Thankful.
I am grateful to my husband Chris, everyone at Come From Away, dear friends, family, my doctors, speech pathologist and people from all over for helping me through.
So many went above and beyond with their loving kindness. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude and thanks.
Although on the outside things appeared fine, I was indeed suffering. And not simply from my diagnosis, I feel that was ultimately a blessing. Through the suffering, ultimately, I learned to live again.
Three years ago. Some days before tech rehearsal for Come From Away, while in Seattle, I learned that my father had stage four kidney cancer. Even though eventually the cancer spread to both lungs, his hip and shoulders, he held on for three years and didn’t want or complain. He became more positive than I ever remember him being.
In three years I watched him learn how to live life new and work to make everyday count for the good. I was witnessing his change as he was witnessing mine.
Like many father and son relationships ours was complicated and strained from years of held in sadness, anger, regret and pain.
On the outside my father actually looked great. So it confused him and all of us. Because the cancer is what was causing his pain.
Unfortunately, he did not go to the doctor’s for routine checkups or visits prior to his diagnosis. He hadn’t been for a routine physical in many years. So he was living with this cancer for some time and didn’t know it.
This past January I was fortunate to spend three great days with him which provided much needed closure for the both of us. A release of held in pain, resentment and anger; now turned into compassion, love and positive exchange. A truce was found. A joy.
Three words that I spent my life waiting to hear from him. “I love you.” Was finally said in those three days. When he was still up and about moving and proving he was okay. Even though we both knew he was near life’s end.
I came back from that three day trip and I had found my breath and consistency in speech again. I haven’t had to undergo treatment for SD since November.
On March 11 I was in Atlanta with Chris and something told to me to book a flight home to Jersey. I went to the airport. The flight happened to have one seat left. I took it. Made it to the hospice where my beautiful step mother was by his side. My father was in a deep sleep but could hear. I read to him from his book of poetry, ‘Sojourn in a Strange Land.’ The poem goes:
“There must be a place for a man to be free
There must be a place for you and for me
There must be a place my God can’t you see that we all must be free, please listen to me.”
The next morning he passed. The next morning I regained my ability to sing. I checked my text then saw that he passed. I sat on the edge of the bed in a combination of grief and faith.
My father passed and now I had the ability to sing and speak clearly again? It was a complicated yet understanding place to be.
In March I flew East to be with my family back home in New Jersey for three days leading up to his funeral. I am grateful for that time spent with them.
I sang at my father’s funeral and put together a presentation of his poetry that was spoken by members of my family. It was pretty extraordinary to be with them and create art through his poetry. He was laid to rest in his uniformed blue with a picture of my niece in his pocket. Resting. Finally at peace.
At his funeral I sang. I knew then I was free. Not because of my renewed voice. But a free from deep within. The misplaced fear and sadness I had longed carried was finally laid to rest.
Although I’ve regained the ability to sing and speak clearly I have been taking this time to settle into our new home here in Denver and enjoying the great outdoors; waking up each day grateful for each breath that is taken.
Thank you for caring. Thank you for being.
May your day be wonderful,
Sunday May 20, 2018
What a wonderful week of living. Four great hikes. Took in a stand up comedy show. It was pretty wonderful to sit and laugh with people. There is something great about the Colorado air and the positive energy here. My thoughts often go to RUMI.
“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
Thursday May 17, 2018
Colorado just keeps impressing me by the moment. The hiking here is monumental. Been getting some great writing and revisions done but more importantly I’ve been getting out and about. It took Trevor a bit to adjust to his new surroundings but in the past day he has took to it. Logan, the one Chris and I thought would be scared, surprisingly has been quite wonderful during this transition. They both have been sweet. I look forward to having Chris back but so very happy for him and all that’s going on. He’s been having great auditions for his upcoming production of Oklahoma! He is doing it with an all Black cast. I can’t wait to be in the audience next to him on Opening Night seeing the beautiful art he will undoubtedly create at Denver Center. I got a chance to see Passing Strange at Aurora Fox Theatre. LOVED it. It put a smile on my face to know there is Sensational local talent here. Took in a comedy show last night at Comedy Works. I had a good time laughing. The comics were great. Took the dogs on their first Colorado hike yesterday, I think the altitude may be a lot for Trevor. So walks around the neighborhood will do for him. Luckily there is a great dog park nearby and many open trails that are local. I am beyond grateful. May your day be a good one. :)
Sunday May 13, 2018
Happy Mother’s day. Thinking on so many beautiful women who have been so wonderful, generous and caring. Not having grown up with my biological mother I was fortunate to be surrounded by great women and to this day still. Thankful for their leadership and support throughout my life. Have a wonderful day everyone.
Saturday May 12, 2018
Took myself on my first morning hike here in Colorado. I drove to Boulder and hiked up the mountain trails at Gregory Canyon Trail to Realization Point. What an extraordinary hike it was as the rain gently fell. I will always love my Oregon hikes but there is something about the air and grounded openness here in Colorado that brought such a huge smile to my heart with each step I took along the path. There is a groundedness here in Colorado that feels really good. Looking forward to exploring more hikes and bringing Chris and our dogs along. Welcome home indeed. Have a wonderful day everyone.
Friday May 11, 2018
It’s always great running into friends and colleagues. The even greater joy is that it happened here in Denver. Had a wonderful catch up with Trent Armand Kendall and Charl Brown, who was sensational as Captain Walker in ‘Tommy’ currently playing at the Denver Center. The production was thought provoking, entertaining and the music was incredible. Andy Mientus is quite brilliant as Tommy. Congratulations to ALL.
I’m looking forward to seeing Trent in Passing Strange at the Aurora Fox Theatre tomorrow.
Thursday May 10, 2018
We have officially moved to Denver. I drove from Vancouver, WA to Denver, CO on a three day road trip with our dogs. I absolutely loved the mountains along the way and the beautiful landscape. Logan and Trevor are getting used to their new home. Trevor is more nervous than Logan since the only home he’s known is our Vancouver home. Logan is a rescue so we guess she’s seen it all. Tomorrow I hope to get out and find some places to hike with them. Hope your day has been a good one.
Tuesday May 1, 2018
Congratulations HAILEY KILGORE on your 2018 Tony Award Nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Leading role!!! Wow. There is no greater thrill than seeing someone you love and adore be recognized for all of their hard earned work.
Hailey Kilgore, words cannot begin. What a gift she is to the arts and to so many. If you can see her as Ti Moune in the Broadway revival of Once on this Island please do.
The entire show is extraordinary and everyone in it. Congratulations to MICHAEL ARDEN, the show’s director, on his Tony Award nomination! Transporting this tale to present day Haiti and helping to guide Hailey along the way. I am beaming with joy.
And a huge Congratulations to my dear friend JOSHUA HENRY on his Tony Award Nomination for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical for his work as Billy Bigelow in the Broadway revival of Carousel. Joshua is another person who is like family and one of the most genuinely kind and brilliant souls around.
Both he and Hailey have made theatre history. Joshua is the first African American to play the role of Billy Bigelow on a Broadway stage and at 19, Hailey is now the youngest African American to be nominated in her category.
Today is a really good day.
It’s beautiful when great things happen to great people. So much LOVE.
Monday April 30, 2018
The night before the Tony Award Nominations! Another very special year. I send love and light to all of tomorrow’s nominees.
Finished my revision of brothers. a Tall Tale. Excited about it. The reading really helped for both plays. Now back to packing. We move in a week!
Saturday April 28, 2018
Yesterday’s readings of brothers. a Tall Tale and One Big Happy, two new plays of mine, went very well. It was an honor to have worked with such a beautiful group of artists. I am thankful to everyone who came out to show their loving support. It meant a great deal.
Now. Looking forward to re-writes and my husband Chris and I moving to Denver to begin a new life chapter together.
I would be remiss if I didn’t catch you up on a few things that have been going on in my life since being home.
If you don’t already know, in 2017 I was told I would not be able to sing again after being diagnosed with having the neurological disorder, Spasmodic Dysphonia.
I am grateful to Chris, everyone at Come From Away, other friends, family and people from all over for helping me through. So many went above and beyond with their loving kindness. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude and thanks.
Although on the outside things appeared fine, I was indeed suffering and depression later set in but through the suffering, ultimately, I learned to live again.
Three years ago. Some days before tech rehearsal, while in Seattle, my father learned he had stage four kidney cancer. Even though eventually the cancer spread to both lungs, his hip and shoulders, he held on for three years and didn’t want or complain.
I watched him learn how to live life new and work to make everyday count for the good. I was witnessing his change. Like many father and son relationships ours was complicated and strained from years of held in sadness, anger and pain.
On the outside my father actually looked great. So it confused him and all of us. Because the cancer inside is what was causing his pain.
This past January I was fortunate to spend three great days with him which provided much needed closure. A release of held in pain, resentment and anger now turned into compassion and positive exchange. A joy was found.
I came back from that trip and I had found my breath and consistency in speech again. I haven’t had to undergo treatment for SD since November.
I am also grateful to have been able to be at his side in his final moments, along with my step mother, who was with him until he took his last breath. We were able to get my brother on the phone so he could say a few words to him before he passed.
Before I left for my hotel that evening, before he transitioned, while he was in a deep sleep, I read to him from his book of poetry, ‘Sojourn in a Strange Land.’ The poem goes:
My father passed and now I had the ability to sing again? It was a complicated yet understanding place to be.
A month ago I flew East to be with my family back home in New Jersey for three days leading up to his funeral. I am grateful for that time spent with them.
I sang at my father’s funeral and put together a presentation of his poetry that was spoken by members of my family. It was pretty extraordinary to be with them and create art through my father’s poetry. He was laid to rest in his uniformed blue with a picture of my niece in his pocket. Resting. Finally at peace.
At his funeral I sang. I knew then I was free. Not because of my renewed voice. But a free from deep within.
Although my speaking and singing voice is back I am taking this time to use my other voices to create art through my writings and other artistic ventures for all things good.
On Friday April 27, 2018 at the Ellyn Bye Studio Theatre @Portland Center Stage in Portland, Oregon, Free public readings of my latest two plays, brothers. a Tall Tale and One Big Happy. a conversation will take place.
brothers. a Tall Tale is a play about a family coming of age in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and present day. Told through the eyes of a black drag queen named Pearl.
Reading begins at 12:30pm
Running time: 90 mins.
One Big Happy is a serio-comedy about a diverse group of longtime friends as they love and grow through life’s downs, ups and in-betweens. A play in three acts.
Reading begins at 2:30pm
Running time: 2 hrs 15 mins
There will be a 10 minute intermission between Acts 2 & 3
If you are in the Portland area come on through!
His TV and Film credits can be found by visiting www.imdb.com
Most recently, Rodney originated the role of Bob and Others in the life changing Broadway musical, Come From Away, playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on W. 45th St.
His final Broadway performance was on Wednesday June 15th 2017 due to being diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia.
Since Come From Away Rodney has spent his time back home in the Pacific Northwest healing.
He can be heard on the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Come From Away.
Written and Composed by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Directed by Tony Award Winner Christopher Ashley with Musical Staging by Tony Nominee Kelly Devine.
Rodney received a 2017 Helen Hayes Award Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical for his work as Bob and Others in Come From Away at The Ford's Theatre in DC.
He also received a 2015 Gypsy Rose Lee Award Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical for his work as Bob and Others in Come From Away at Seattle Repertory Theatre.
Rodney originated the role of Clarence Norris in the Off-Broadway, Minneapolis and the subsequent Broadway run of Kander & Ebb's The Scottsboro Boys.
He received a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical for his work as Haywood Patterson in The Scottsboro Boys at The Philadelphia Theatre Company. Directed & Choreographed by Susan Stroman as well.
Rodney was in the Original (Paul & Others) and Closing (Benjamin Coffin III) casts of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning Landmark musical hit RENT. Directed by Michael Greif. Choreographed by Marlies Yearby.
His performance as Benjamin Coffin III can be seen on the RENT: Live on Broadway DVD.
In 2000 Hicks co-starred as Peter in the Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar. Directed by Gayle Edwards. Choreography by Anthony Van Laast.
Rodney received an Audelco Award Nomination for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical for his role as Philly in the Off-Broadway musical, From My Hometown by Lee Summers. Directed by Kevin Ramsey and Choreographed by Leslie Dockery. The Grammercy Theatre. NYC.
He has a host of regional credits including work at Portland Center Stage where he played Curly in the first All Black production of Rogers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! directed by Chris Coleman and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Katori Hall's The Mountaintop directed by Rose Riordan, Edmund in King Lear at The Denver Theatre Center directed by Kent Thompson and leading roles in plays and musicals at Seattle Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, The Geva Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, among others.
Rodney's work as a playwright include his trilogy of hope and survival plays, NC-17., brothers. a Tall Tale and One Big Happy. a conversation.
His play NC-17. is a 2018 semi-finalist for the Eugene O'Neill Playwriting Conference. The play also received a 2016 Honorable mention by the American Playwriting Foundation Relentless Award.
Rodney is married to Chris Coleman, Artistic Director of Denver Theatre Center, and they have two dogs.
Rodney is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild, SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity Association.