27 February, 2011

Portrait of a Friend: Lance Horne

Lance Horne and I have known one another since I was in high school-- and our friendship and artistic affinity in recent years has been informed, shaped, and made all the more poignant by, coming from the same artistic roots.

In my Junior year at Interlochen I was fortunate enough to be cast in two leading roles (Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker and Lucy in Snoopy The Musical [opposite Michael Arden's Charlie Brown]). So when the final production of Merrily We Roll Along "rolled along" I was certain I would be building the sets in the production shop, but I was thrilled to be cast in the chorus (as well as the viiiiital character of 'Dory' whose famous line "and what a great pool!" flat out rocked my world then, and to this day provides an ever-delightful non sequitur...)

There was something about this production. It had a magical glow around it. We had a flurry of guest artists during the rehearsal process-- Anthony Rapp, Adam Pelty, and Lance Horne-- all of whom felt so connected to the work we all shared that they all returned to see the full production.

So picture it: there I was: sixteen years old and up to my eyeballs in the talented movers and shakers of the future (this cast included the likes of Ben Walker and Michael Arden). I was in the chorus, decked out in full 80s sunglasses, fur coat, and holding an empty champagne glass.

Now the truth was, many of my fellow chorusters were not exactly having a wonderful time. They were bored, overly talented teenagers feeling under-appreciated in their final weeks of school, wishing that they were in the front and not the back. There were grumblings, complaints and other mutterings of young people learning and growing...

One particular day we were staging "That Frank" and the grumblings were especially vociferous. The scene is tremendously intricate and complicated-- an opening scene set at a Hollywood pool party featuring the full cast. Lots of movement. Complex Sondheim music. People were losing focus and feeling frustrated, and the "why-oh-why-am-I-in-the-chorus-and-not-playing-a-lead" grumblings began with full force.

And something happened. I ripped off my sunglasses as my back straightened with a crashing realization-- I had spent the entire school year in the front. Leading companies, starring in beautiful shows. And here I was holding a champagne glass in the back... and I loved it. I loved every second of it. I adored being a part of this magical production. Learning, developing, contributing. "I love this," I thought, "I am different. I want different things from this experience. I love this and I don't need to be in the front to love it as much as I love it right this second." And I was rocked to my core--because I knew in this moment that I was going to do this for the rest of my life.
It was life altering.
A moment I talk about all the time, in fact. 

And you know who was there, watching rehearsal from the back of the theatre? Lance Horne.

Rehearsal ended, and exhausted, we all moved to our bags and began to pack up and head to dinner.

     "Hey!" Lance called out to me from the back, moving down the stairs of the beautiful Harvey Theatre-- "You. Al, right?"
     "Yes," I replied. I was so shy with guest artists that year I hadn't even asked Lance a question in his Q&A, let alone performed for him. I couldn't believe he even knew my name.
     "You..." he smiled, pointing at me and nodding. "You. You are the real thing. You are going to do this, do you know that?"
I starred at him in disbelief, perfectly serious and still.
     "Yes..." I whispered. "Yes."
     "Good," he brushed the curls out of his eyes as his smile broadened. "See you tomorrow."

Lance Horne and I have been friends ever since.

We have met up and performed together all over the world. We have made lines in the sand together, laughed, wept, gone on one crazy ass road trip, made declarations to the universe whilst holding Neal's Yard coconuts to the sky! We have held one another accountable for our creative and personal integrity. That is an artistic colleague. That is a true friend. That is the real thing.

There is nothing like seeing your best friends succeed, but nothing can match the experience of beholding that success when you also know that their music, message, their art is on a truly stirring, if not outright magnificent level. To sing Lance's music is far more than singing some of the best songs currently being written, it is to be a part of both the traditional emergence of a trained and finely crafted artisan building upon the illuminations from the past, as well as being present in the center of the visionary ground-breaking making way for new forms.

I could not have been more moved or thrilled to sing on his first album First Things Last (and to take the photograph for the album cover), as well as perform with him alongside the very best of Broadway (Alan Cumming, Cheyenne Jackson, Lea Delaria, Rebecca Luker, Lauren Kennedy and Daphne Rubin Vega) and the West End (Paul Spicer, Julie Atherton, Hannah Waddingham, Meow Meow, Oliver Tompsett, Emma Williams and Graham Norton) at both Lincoln Center as well as at The Garrick Theatre in London.

So, to say that "Anyone Whose Ever Been in Love" is beautiful, penetrative, and deeply personal to hear and to perform is true.  But to sing it, and to have been asked to by my long time beloved friend Lance himself? That is an honor I could begin to utter.


  1. wow...what an ispirational story...thanks for sharing. All the best with everything you do. Sounds like you do it well!


    Thanks for visiting me the other day. xo

  2. Thank you Koralee! I love your blog, constant inspiration. Hello from the Big Apple.




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