CLEARWATER, Fla - We knew we were going to be talking to the lead in the now-winding-up-its-National-Tour-right-here-in-Clearwater-production of West Side Story ... but...
"A lot of stuff back here that we can look through," said John, thinking out loud as we figured that our wait might as well be fruitful... and the chance to wander around backstage was too much to
"Meeeemeeeememeeeeeeemeeeeee," was the sound coming through the door of the dressing room before Mr. Thomas emerged. "Yeah, I'm ready."
While John and I waited for Addison Coe to join us, we fully investigated the Ruth Eckerd Hall halls and passages.
"Wonder what else we can find here?" I asked, heading through a door clearly marked as off limits (oops), while John headed off to the wig room.
"Here's Bill Logan's hair," he said, pointing to a shorter styled lump of locks on a shelf... "and tomorrow I think I'm going a little bold, I'm gonna go with this (pulling out a curly-fright wig) not many people can pull this off."
"Well," I countered, "actually it's pretty easily pulled off."
And with that... we started our conversation with the man who plays Tony in this production, and how he pulled that off.
"How did you get started in all of this?" asked John.
"Well," said Coe, measuring his words carefully, but clearly relishing the happenstance, "I didn't make the soccer team my senior year of High School and my choir teacher -- who I saw a coupla weeks ago in Chicago -- said, 'you should try singing and I was like OK."
And while some in this cast have toiled for YEARS going from audition to audition before finally landing the role of a lifetime, Addison got the word he'd be Tony... after his FIRST New York tryout.
"At first, I didn't know if I was up to the task and I had so many supportive people in this cast teach me things and learn new things," he said. "Now its been nine months and 254 shows and I finally feel
like I got a groove and... it's nice."
The final two performances of this tour of West Side Story are today at 2 pm and 7 pm at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.