Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The TR Tour - Looking Ahead to 2012

Not yet halfway done, it has already been a tremendous summer. My nephew’s wedding in Northern California finally bid me to follow up on opportunities nearby. After great June gigs in Sacramento and Stockton, I return to the West in August for a three performance run from Reno, back to Stockton and on to Muir Woods National Monument. Before then, I’ll drive from the St. Lawrence River of upstate New York, to the lake country of Western New Jersey, through the country of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana and on to salute the Kiwanians of Illinois and Iowa as they gather along the mighty Mississippi River. I’ll be happy for some long days meandering amongst the cornfields and streams of the Midwest.

Travel is such a part of what I do, that I get a bit stir crazy when not travelling. My father, who has travelled and performed for more than forty years, says, “They pay us to drive.” I like driving, and seeing this country along the way. Since the first TR road trip in the fall of 2007, through the 50 state TR Tour in 2008 and up through now, a great deal of the adventure has been along America’s roadways. With the continued success of the TR venture, more and more, the calendar and logistics require me to fly and hopscotch this great land. If time allowed, I would rather continue to travel by car and more by train. Surely, it will continue to be a mix.

Sometimes, when I’m on the road and performing, the pace can get to be quite “Rooseveltian.” It’s nothing out of the ordinary to perform a dozen times across a half dozen communities in the span of three or four days. This fall, the Oregon Historical Society plans a five day TR barnstorm of the state. It’s easier to stay in character when the show schedule reads like a campaign train itinerary.

So, while the schedule for 2011 continues to unfold, the 2012 schedule is already building and the first dates for 2013 are being circled. I do hope that I will be able to embrace all of the requests and opportunities that might be presented, but the business requires me to book ‘em as they come and go where the customers call.

Still, there are places where my TR should be, where the best possible Theodore Roosevelt interpretation should come to life for modern audiences, and I am determined to make those performances happen in 2012 and 2013.

The year 2012 is the centennial of TR’s campaign for the presidency in 1912. He ran first as a Republican, announcing that he was “stripped to the waste and healthy as a bull moose,” adding that “my hat is in the ring.” Of course, TR bolted from the GOP when he and his supporters determined that the nomination of Taft was tainted by dishonest and corrupt methods. The Progressive Party took on its nickname from his early statement, and the Bull Moose campaign enlivened the country. During the campaign, TR survived an assassination attempt and carried the assassin’s bullet in his chest the rest of his days. The press will undoubtedly use TR as a foil for the 2012 presidential elections. His was the most successful third party candidacy in our history and President Obama and his Republican opponent will surely contest who is more fit to wear the TR mantle. Bully. I say bring it on.

We have some big plans for 2012. Firstly, it will be our 25th wedding anniversary in the summer of 2012. Accordingly, it’s high time that TR Joe and Jenny went to Europe to celebrate TR’s many European connections. More on that later.

With a team of good people, I’ll be assisting to host the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Theodore Roosevelt Association in Chicago, Illinois, on October 25-28, 2012. We’ll headquarter at the Union League Club and celebrate all things TR and Chicago, including both the 1912 Republican and Progressive party Conventions held there. Visit www.chicagobullmoose.org for all the latest there.

Before the European adventure of the summer, between that and the late autumn celebration of TR, and on into the winter days that stand between election and inaugural, I hope to be in places that hum in resonance with the legacy of TR: New York City, Albany and the Adirondacks in New York; Portsmouth, Hampton Roads and Jacksonville and their naval bases; Yellowstone, Yosemite and North Dakota’s Badlands; the hunting grounds in Colorado and Texas where TR’s legend lives. These and so many more places beckon.

Now more than ever, I know that the American people benefit from hearing the words of and relearning the life story of TR. I know that the many months ahead will give me the opportunity to do so in all the right places, the places that need his message of strenuous living, good citizenship and perseverance. On this last day at the River, with Jenny and Sam cheering me on, I’m committed to redoubling my efforts. America deserves a spot on TR, and I’m just the man to deliver. Bully!

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