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I had just left the job that paid me handsomely, where I shared the stage with seasoned pros in shows across the country, founded in Las Vegas. I was told no one ever left “Legends in Concert” and actually made it on their own. I would be back to the comfort and security of a job that, even though it was show business, actually felt like a job. Everyone always returned that tried to go out on their own. But I was determined to forge my own path.
After a year of struggles, unable to convince even a few clients to have me as their “one-man show” corporate entertainment, my amazing wife supported us in a job she didn’t love doing, although she did it so very well.
Then one day my Dad calls. His friend is having his 50th Birthday party, a surprise, thrown by his wife. I was being summoned. A 600 mile drive from my house and I was to do it for free, since this was one of my Dad’s old clients. Reluctantly I packed up my Subaru Outback and set out on the drive from Utah to Montana to perform for a party that would now set me back once again financially.
The party was at a nice Country Club in Missoula, MT. My show seemed to go well, garnering the standing ovation I was already accustomed to, having performed for freebies, charity, and a rare corporate event here and there, and after packing my car, made my way back home.
The next week I received a call. It was Bill Nooney, Jr., the man who’s birthday I had performed for. He was recommending me to an association he belonged to, a petroleum group, and I’d need to figure out how to get back up to Montana because the group had little to no money. Great. Borrowing an airline buddy pass from my father-in-law, I made my way to an even more remote destination in Montana once again. After the standing ovation I packed my bags and returned home, poorer than before.
The next week the phone rang again, however this time it was Lowell Hardy, H.R. Director of Sinclair Oil Company, who had heard of my successful performance at the association event in Montana, saying he needed someone who can wow an audience but keep it G-Rated (my calling card) and needed me in Sun Valley, ID. They had a decent fee AND would put my wife and I up in a nice room. Thrilled, I scheduled it and waited for the date.
The Sun Valley Opera House was abuzz the night of the show. Not only was this for Sinclair Oil’s regional manager’s meeting, one of the largest petroleum companies in the country, but the owner of Sinclair Oil Company was there, a man by the name of Earl Holding, along with his entire family. Known for having built hotels throughout the West, owning Sun Valley and Snowbasin Ski Resorts, and having secured the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic bid for my home state, as well as being a billionaire on the Forbes list, I was honored to even be in his presence, let alone be hired by his company.
Throughout the show I did my best, all the while acknowledging, to the point (dare I say) of brown-nosing, how much I admired Mr. Holding. I finally came to the song “Unforgettable”, which I dedicated to Mr. Holding, and garnered a much deserved standing ovation for him. He seemed pleased.
As the guests sat back down the lady seated next to Mr. Holding jumped out of her seat and shouted, “What about me?!” It was Mrs. Carol Holding. The crowd burst into laughter and leapt to their feet for an even longer ovation, as I turned seven shades of red from the stage with nowhere to hide.
It was this performance, this moment, that my life was transformed, and the possibility of making a living as a corporate entertainer became a reality. Luckily, Mrs. Holding looked past my ignorance and loved me anyway (although she teased and never let me forget that initial lack of acknowledgement) and I was invited to travel with The Holdings from property to property performing for their beloved employees, friends, associates, and family over the next few years for holiday parties.
My wife and I became a part of the Holding family. A glamorous lifestyle on private jets, beautiful hotel rooms, room service, and even having retired Air Force One pilots putting booties on our shoes as we entered the gulf-stream jet once owned by some crazy rich dude from the Middle East. We could leave SLC, UT at 4 PM, be in Wichita, KS or San Diego, CA in time for my show performance that night, and back home in bed by 11 PM. No security, no TSA, and all the snacks and treats you could stuff in your pockets! I had dreamed of this lifestyle, and knew this “corporate market entertainment” was the life for me.
Yet, you’d never know this was a family listed in the Fortune Top 40 in the world. You would never know it by their attitude, which was love and sharing, nor their personalities, which were charitable and caring. While at the same time, The Holdings are true American Royalty, and give way to kindness rather than superior airs, as their authentic generosity was contagious and filled me with a sense of the amount of good that can be done by wealth in the right hands.
Earl and Carol Holding were reared in the generation of the Great Depression in Salt Lake City, Utah, and doggedly and intelligently worked their way up to managing a rest stop station/hotel in the middle of the Wyoming wilderness, a desolate no-mans-land in the upper plains, called Little America. From making guest’s beds, to serving and doing dishes in the restaurant, to raising their own family and children to do the same, this family worked from before dawn to after dusk to make ends meet and eventually build a masterpiece. Investing wisely, working tirelessly, and buying savvy, they went from humble beginnings to creating an empire.
What was amazing to me was that you can’t refer to Earl Holding without talking about his beautiful bride of over 60 years, Carol. My mistake that first time I praised only him from the stage, but what truth it was as to how perfectly united they always were. They insisted my bride, Tami, come along on every trip, every gig, and were disappointed if I brought anyone else. They treated us as family, but in the same breath as guests in a royal experience, unlike any we’ve had before and I fear will never have again.
I performed over 40 times for their events. The Holding Family have seen my show so many times their kids and grandkids can pretty much recite every line, do every impression, and it became a running joke that they knew what surprise was coming next, yet they always graciously laughed along with the unsuspecting audience. In the beginning of my career they were my first real client, they were the reason we survived in an industry that is pretty much impossible to make it: show business while living in Utah.
On Friday, April 19, 2013, I found myself at the Grand America Hotel, speaking to a corporate audience and transitioning into a new phase in my career: Speaking. Luckily I received a standing ovation still, so I know I’m on the right path to inspiring audiences with rich content applicable in life and business, coupled with entertainment that is captivating, and I am again carving my own niche market. Is it coincidence that the very day I was presenting at this crown jewel of American Resorts, that at his home, the builder of that magnificent hotel, Mr. Earl Holding, passed away peacefully, returning to the heavens above and an embrace from God for a job well done. Is it odd to anyone else that the man who literally gave me my first real break in the corporate market, to be my own entrepreneurial self, to be a one-man business, would leave this earth as I performed within the edifice he created?
His funeral this past Saturday was incredible. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang, his lifelong friend, LDS President Thomas S. Monson spoke. His son, Stephen, gave a stirring tribute, as did all of the speakers. Of course, Mrs. Holding made a surprise appearance at the pulpit to thank everyone, in a way that made us all laugh, cry, and feel important. The night before thousands gathered at the Grand America to pay their respects.
The day following the funeral, a beautiful Sunday, my wife and I used our final gift certificate to Sunday Brunch at the Grand America, given to us by the Holdings. Through the years we have never paid for a hotel room, a meal, or anything relating to this world-class hotel, because they have always taken generous care of us. Our older kids were at Tami’s sister’s home, so we brought our little Royal boy, 18 months old. He did well for the first 30 minutes but when he began throwing crab legs at the window we realized it was time for Daddy to take him for a walk outside.
As I held this precious child’s hand, and he balanced on the granite curbing along the meticulous gardens, where Mr. and Mrs. Holding had seen to it that a geranium was placed properly, a juniper pruned just right, and the stone walls of the hotel chosen from the quarries of Vermont, I began to tear up. To realize I have been so blessed by this family. To know they planted these gardens, and take care for those who care for the gardens still, and thousands of other employees nationwide who benefit daily. From a young couple who dreamed big, worked tirelessly, and built greatness everywhere they went, I was shaken to the core at the thought of their generosity toward us. The influence they had on my life alone, let alone all the others that have benefitted as well, makes me bow my head in humility to offer one more prayer on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Holding. My gratitude is beyond comprehension. Carrying my little son’s soft tiny hand, juxtaposed with the powerful structure we enjoyed as a family of granite blocks shining in the Sunday light, all of my memories flooded back.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without Earl Holding. Literally and figuratively.
- There would be no hotel, no place so beautiful to make memories with family, friends, and now my precious son. Yet this grand building will stand long after all of us are gone!
- I wouldn’t have the career I have. I would have returned to that old job, the safe place, and been trying to figure out how to make it happen for me in a market I so wanted to break into.
- I wouldn’t have performed to over 1 Million people, spoken to over 250,000 youth, and made any kind of difference compared to what I would have done without his help.
- I wouldn’t have dared dream that I could become an Entertainer, a Master of Ceremonies, even a Speaker, and grace the stages of his hotels.
Before I speak blasphemously about a man who literally was a man, as it is clear to see from the colorful talks at his funeral, that he had his faults as anyone would have, but in my life all I experienced was his grace. I only knew him during his paralyzed from a stroke years, the final decade of his life, but I could always make him smile, for which I worked very hard. His piercing blue eyes that let me know he was pleased with the audience reaction.
And today I say one more prayer sent to heaven on his behalf, on his family’s behalf, to pray that all they have received and shared with others on earth, might be made ever greater even in heaven. For the blessings they have afforded my family I can never repay, but in dreaming big, working hard, and becoming my best self, in this way I honor the memory of the man who saved and made my career.
We love you, Mr. Holding.
Jason & Tami Hewlett and Family
Husband & Father * Speaker * Author * Entertainer
I am just returning from another trying attempt at teaching my son how to ride his bike.
This would be spring #3 we have worked on this, as he is now 6 and still can’t make it happen for himself. We have tried balance bikes, daily exercises of balance, training wheels on and off, I even bought one of those connectors to my bike so he can pedal behind me and see what it feels like to ride freely, wind in his hair (under his helmet of course).
But with each year and each attempt it gets worse. In fact, this year as I’d say, “Alright buddy, we’re going to go get that bike movin’ and really have a great time this year on our bikes together!” and he has all but sobbed just thinking about having to face the bike again after the snowy winter.
Today after a nice ride on my connector bike with him pedaling behind me, after a motivational talk about how great he will do, and removing the training wheels to start this year afresh, it wasn’t five pedals and one goofy turn before he had pushed me away from where I had been running beside him, helping him balance, he fell to the ground, now crying and screaming and kicking the bike shouted, “I hate this bike and I hate summer! I can’t do this! I’m not good at sports! I give up!”
Oh my. Where did this come from?
Does he feel I’m pushing sports on him?
Am I forcing him too much to get outside and try to ride the bike?
Am I that Dad who makes his kids do things just because I did them and loved them?
So, I knelt down, looked him in those tear-filled eyes….and I saw myself peering back at me.
I saw the little boy who couldn’t keep up with reading like the other kids in class and how much it hurt to know I was at the “slow” table while others laughed at me.
I saw the little boy who was made fun of for his big mouth and picked on, bullied, and called ugly.
I saw the little boy who only kicked the soccer ball when I was on the sidelines because I was too afraid to go after it during the game, even when my Dad was the coach, as I was off chasing butterflies near the goal keeper.
I looked at my sweet little boy and said, “Buddy, it’s okay. You did good to go that far. And we’ll try to go a little more next time. But I need you to promise me one thing: Please don’t EVER say you Give Up on anything, no matter how hard it is”.
He looked at me and said, “But I’m not good at it”.
I said, “But you’re good at Minecraft, aren’t you? Wasn’t that kind of hard to figure out the first time you played it?”
“Well, you don’t throw down an iPod and kick it if you can’t figure out a game…you just keep on trying, right?”
“You are the best gamer in our family and can figure out any game, right?”
He laughed and said he’d never kick an iPod.
He eventually calmed down and tried the bike again, and soon we made it around the whole block. There were two more tantrums over 30 minutes. I have to remember not to be “Motivational Speaker Guy” too much and just be understanding, sympathetic Dad, too, and we experienced a rough bonding moment together.
Once back home I asked him to promise me he’d never give up on anything, and he shook my hand that he’d always do his best.
And so we went out in the backyard and tried a little baseball and catch. Having played on a Tee-Ball team last year with his brother and sister it was time to get things started again for the spring season. Within 5 minutes the ball had hit him in the face and his lip was bleeding, he was sobbing once again, and I feel like father failure of the year.
After he calms down we try hitting with the bat, and the same result, as it just doesn’t click for him with a Tee or without. Now the bat is thrown, ball stomped on, another “I’m no good at anything” tantrum fit and we’re done.
He doesn’t do this with reading, drawing, playing, or iPod games, so I’m wondering what this is. Maybe this is too much. Let’s go inside and just let him forget this for a little bit, watch a movie so he can cool off and not feel frustrated.
But I had to write about it. I had to analyze what I’m doing as a Dad to garner this type of reaction.
Is it lack of consistency? Maybe.
Is it my tone? Possibly.
Is it my teaching style? Sure.
And then it struck me – something I hadn’t thought of – You can ask your kids to say they’ll never give up, but you also can’t give up on your kids.
As tough as it is to teach someone to ride a bike or catch a baseball when they aren’t naturally inclined to do so (such as his older sister who can do both with ease, and his younger brother who is passing him by with these sports activities, as well), I realized it’s just as important for me to never give up on teaching, being patient, helping, encouraging, and also accepting him for who he is, no matter the outcome.
When we look at how easy it is to just allow a child to sort of fall into mediocrity because something is hard to do, or they’re not naturally inclined to do it, that is a form of surrender for a parent. It’s one thing if the kid doesn’t want to do it and will never enjoy it at all, but it’s another thing if you as a parent feel it’s a good thing for them to experience and learn in order to grow, be a natural functioning member of society and of the family structure, goals, and activities.
For example: We have sort of “forced” piano on the kids. They fought us for the first while because it’s tough to learn an instrument when you’re little. But then one day they could play a song, and they went nuts! Now they LOVE it! I know the same is true for a kid who can finally ride a bike, finally catch and hit a baseball, it doesn’t mean you’re going to play for the Yankees, it just means you can do it well enough to live in this world with the rest of the kids.
But how true is it that we sometimes give up on a co-worker or employee, a friend or family member? Just because we ourselves have tried to help them understand something, and after a while, it’s just not worth the hassle or effort anymore. I’ve seen this with parents and children, husbands and wives, friends, church members, and so on.
I firmly believe we can and should choose those whom we associate with, and those whom we allow to influence our daily lives, but it’s also sobering to think of how many I have given up on over the years just because maybe they didn’t have the same tastes, enjoy the same activities, or see the world as I do. It sounds shallow in many ways, and makes me realize I have some reeling to do. I need to go back and fix a few broken relationships, a few harsh words of judgment I’ve spoken, perhaps I gave up on some people way too early…and I wonder how it not only affected them but also me. There are many forms of giving up, quitting, and it comes in many shapes and sizes.
Perhaps the two most powerful experiences of not giving up came from my Dad’s attempts at teaching me.
The first happened after 5 years of him coaching all of my teams – baseball, soccer, basketball. One night after another game where I didn’t touch the basketball, didn’t shoot a shot, didn’t do anything productive, and then after the game asked, “Since i did so good can we go get a Slurpee?” To which he sped home, couldn’t talk to me or look at me, as we whizzed past 7-11, and he dragged me into our indoor swimming pool room where he finally snapped at me. Screaming, red-faced, veins popping from his forehead, throwing the ball against the wall he shouted, “SON! I have tried to help you for 5 years as Coach of all of your sports. I have done everything I can to encourage and be here for you. But you DON’T TRY!! Why do you give up so easily? Why? You are MY SON! I never give up, and I won’t give up on you. I know you love basketball, but you have to be tough! You don’t have to cower when the ball comes at you, you have to grab it!” Now he’s throwing the ball as hard as he can against the wall, then running at it like a wild man, acting like he’s fighting off all comers. “You have to want the ball! You have to give and sacrifice your body for the ball, and give your all for the team, you can’t just wait for the game to be over to get a dang Slurpee!” Now he’s making me do drills, at a frenetic pace, as if I have never cared or loved the sport, which he knew I did, and he’s slamming the ball into the wall and making me box him out for the “rebound”.
My Mom rushed in, asking him to lower his voice, he’s waking the kids and the neighbors, and he couldn’t stop. He was dumbfounded and embarrassed to have a son who was such a wimp. And he was perfectly right. I was the wimp of wimps. I felt sick before every game, I was bailed out by anyone that would listen. I was just scared, and totally a quitting, crying, pathetic wimp of a kid. And my Dad had had it with my attitude, complacency, and lack of commitment to success. My Dad understood that the opposite of Success isn’t failure, it’s mediocrity! And he was not going to raise a mediocre son!
Long story short, I cried myself to sleep that night realizing I had disappointed my Dad to such a degree, but also realizing it was true: I was a wimp and had to become a tougher person and not be so scared to try to succeed.
If you know my story I eventually became an All-State basketball player, even offered a scholarship to a major university (although not to play as much as be the manager of the team because I was good enough for the practice squad, but they wanted me around because I was funny and motivating), but it was basketball that taught me so much about not quitting, about my path in life, and it led me to my real passion – entertaining people.
The next story comes near the beginning of my career as a one-man show performer in 2002, the night I headlined my first show at Johnny B’s Comedy Club in Provo, UT. They took a big chance on me, as I told them I had a great, full show. The crowd paid $7 per ticket to come see me. After 3 opening acts it was my turn. I did a solid 30 minutes. When I was done the crowd was shocked I had done such a short show. They left and most asked for their money back. They had come to see a full night of comedy and barely got 45 minutes. I guess I was supposed to do an hour and didn’t realize it.
Following the show, my Dad, my manager, the club owner, and anyone else who wanted to pipe in came up to me and berated me. I should’ve gone longer. I shouldn’t do this bit, I should change that. They considered canceling the next night, as it was a weekend contract and supposed to be my coming out party to the universe that Jason Hewlett was world-class entertainment! They offered no solutions, just judgment, criticism, and exasperation that I had done such a short show.
So I went home that night. I stayed up all night. I wrote, I prepared, I did the show the next night on no sleep going on 48 hours, and I KILLED. I did over an hour. The crowd went nuts. My Dad couldn’t believe it. My manager was high-fiving the happy faces leaving the show shaking their heads in disbelief at the brilliance they’d just witnessed. The club owner asked me what changed and I said, “You guys all pounced on me, so I pounced back after using all the material I didn’t think was good enough last night, and stayed up all night to write it out”. He said I had an open invitation to return any night, at any time, until the club went out of business….and I was one of the last performers at that venue before they closed their doors for good.
Rarely do people realize what triggers success, but for me this was the turning point in my performing career (just as the previous story was the turning point in my basketball career and ultimately in my life for not quitting). Never again would I have a client come up and ask for their money back, never again would I deliver less than was expected, never again would I just show up and do enough to get by – I would, from that moment on, kill myself in order to kill the crowd. I would put my head down, create the material, and work until I received a standing ovation for every show and clients would run up and say, “We should have paid you double”. That happens now.
What is important about these stories isn’t so much that I succeeded because I didn’t give up, it was more about the fact that others expected greatness from me. They didn’t give up on me, and thus I didn’t give up on myself.
So often I see parents who are exhausted, not sure what went wrong with their kids, and wonder why their offspring gives up so easily. As I don’t have older kids I don’t want to pass judgment, but I know as a child of a Dad who never let me quit that it certainly molded me into the same type of person. I’d like to instill that in my kids. I’d like them to know I believe in them, and they can believe in themselves, too.
“Don’t Ever Give Up”. Apparently Winston Churchill once gave an address and only said those words. If that’s a true story then I believe those words are about as essential to successful living as any words ever spoken.
Don’t ever give up; not on your kids, not on yourself, not on this wonderful Country, not on your spirituality, not on your ideals, dreams, goals, or vision. Never, ever give up!
Am I destined to cry every time I watch my kids do all they’re going to do in life from now on?
Tonight was the 3rd time I saw my kids in their school/community play, “Seussical The Musical”. I missed the other two times because I had my own gigs and, even though those were good gigs, I would have rather seen my kids. I will also miss tomorrow night’s closing night because I’ll be on an overnight trip where I’ll address over 2,000 kids in multiple school assemblies the next few days.
Watching my children in their first ever production was surreal. I watched through blurred vision, barely able to contain my gratitude, not necessarily for their willingness and interest to do something I also enjoy doing (sing and dance, be on stage), but because of their commitment, enjoyment, and passion for it. They didn’t miss one practice, didn’t complain once that it was too tough, that they were tired, didn’t gripe about only having a few small parts here and there. They were a part of a GREAT effort, a team, and it was pure beauty to see their joy. And of course the production was impressive as always, which South Jordan Community Theater is making it’s hallmark that of exceeding expectations for community theater.
A few weeks ago we had our annual Valentine’s Daddy-Daughter Dance with my 7-year old. I walked into the decorated gym at Lifetime Fitness surrounded by other dads and princesses and looked at my little girl, who is now suddenly a bigger-than-she-was-2-years-ago girl and I started to cry. I could barely dance with her, I just held her up and thought, “How much longer will I have the chance to hold this little girl up like this and dance?” And I cried.
My 6-year old son and I went out for a Daddy-Son date to buy Mom a birthday present. As we walked through the parking lot he reached up for my hand and…I started to cry. How much longer will this last? It was as if I prayed time would stand still for one moment, that he would always reach for me, always look for me from the aisles, always let me know he realizes I want to be an intricate part of his life.
Tonight as these two children sang their hearts out in their play, with stretched necks to see Mom & Dad, Nana Marsha, and Aunt Heather and cousins, waving and smiling excitedly to know we were there, I just kept losing it. I’m bursting with pride. I’m crying uncontrollably. Why? Am I dying? Am I having a mid-life crisis at 34?
I think I’m just living in a time of extreme gratitude. A realm of spiritual enlightenment unlike any time I’ve known in my existence. Somehow I’ve been offered this gift to understand fully that this is sacred, each day I’m living, each moment with these children, every second with my family. Perhaps the time is most precious because i see it as so fragile, so fleeting, all so wonderful. I am surrounded by friends, mentors, coaches, speakers, and incredible people who help me understand this type of living through their examples. I don’t feel sadness as a Dad when I cry, I feel God’s grace upon my shoulder saying, “This is how I feel when I see my children. And remember, my son, you are one of them.”
As a child of God, as someone who makes a living bringing smiles, hope, and hopefully inspiration, I feel God’s love surround me at this very time. To be honest, I am in one of the great valleys in my career’s history. As I make the deliberate and uncharted move into the speaking and writing world, a stark change from the world of solely entertainment (which has helped sustain my family and career for over a decade), I feel the eyes of those who question my choices bear down on me as the condescension of Job – from doing so well to a peasant and beggar – yet I feel God’s hand weighing the balance. I am not leaving everything behind, just moving into a new level of the same presentation, only with a sustainable and lasting effect. To entertain and help others feel joy for one hour is a great gift that i feel I have been blessed with, but to also speak and entertain for an hour and change a young life is a lifelong dream slowly becoming a reality, even if the books are bleak.
My direction is youth. I am to speak to young people, entertain them into listening, a “show and tell” of fun, and then drive a message into their hearts that they can do anything with their God given gifts. That’s the whole of it, and I am taking it to the masses.
And there stand my children. Performing. Loving it. Filling my heart with the knowledge I am headed in the right direction – of inspiring children like these – even if our wallet takes a more than 95% hit compared to the life we’ve known.
Am I brave enough to continue down this path?
Am I willing to go for this dream even as I must cast the waters from the sinking ship around me?
Am I able to weather the storm that I enter, knowing full well I go it alone?
Am I strong enough to stay up, night after night, running this whole business alone – do I have the stamina, determination, and resolve?
I can return to what I’ve known, and I will rely on it for a time until the speaking has taken over, and it will take over, just as the performing once did (as I’ve passed through this valley before), but I am determined to make this work! For my children. For my family. For a legacy of never giving up on a lifelong dream. For an example of the importance of descending one mountain peak in order to ascend an even greater one upon the horizon.
Why do I cry every time I see my children now? Because I hope they can someday understand how much love I have for them, and in turn know the love God has for each of us, if only to know a fraction of it, we must know our Lord is watching and waiting for us to trust in His plan.
Are you clear on His plan for you? Do you have faith to leave behind the security of the worldly things and find out what you were really meant to do on this earth for this short amount of time?
If you’re smoothly sailing through life I think it might be time to rock the boat.
~ jason hewlett
Hello Friends! Wow it’s already MARCH, crazy how quickly time flies when you’re doing something you’re passionate about.
Many have asked, “ARE YOU RETIRED?” The Answer is: NOOOOOO! I am still performing at corporate, association, and private events WORLDWIDE and loving it. I hope you’ll pass my name along to your event planning associates in your workplace or elsewhere (however my engagements are extremely limited to see me at a concert hall or amphitheater near you, perhaps that will change someday though, you never know).
Here is a LINK to my WEBSITE: http://jasonhewlett.com
In the meantime I want you to know that I have added many NEW ACTS TO MY SHOW, so if you haven’t seen me in over a year it may be time to have me return to your event! Additions include:
Of course the favorites of the show remain: The Raptor - Lady Gaga’s “Chicken Dance” - Alvin & the Chipmunks - Journey’s “Broken Arms” - Led Zeppelin - Elton & Billy… Yet plenty of new additions are now making their way into my Las Vegas quality show.
I would love to come and perform at your next corporate event!
Also please know I am also doing events where I get to SPEAK and share my Message of discovering our Signature Moves and personal strengths for work and home, so if you would like to have me ENTERTAIN your audience while instilling a message of INSPIRATION, HUMOR, and all the while giving life-changing principles that incorporate LEADERSHIP, SELF-DISCIPLINE, and SELF-DISCOVERY, I would love to be your Keynote Artist. http://jasonhewlett.com
I hope you know how much I appreciate you and THANK YOU for your generosity in passing my name along. As I have never done actual traditional “marketing” it is based upon your referrals that keep me working, performing, and bringing my wacky brand of joy to the world. Thank you for believing in me and supporting my career, and let me know how I can help you in serving your life’s purpose.
When I was a boy my Dad had a 9” tall wooden statue in his office of Don Quixote, The Man of La Mancha, a dreamer of impossible dreams, who found love and beauty in his sweet Dulcinea.
I remember asking him why he had that statue and he’d break into song,
“To fight the unbeatable foe, to run where the brave dare not go, to right the unrightable wrong, to love pure and chaste from afar…to reach the unreachable star!”
As a young boy I loved that song. I loved the story of Cervantes’ idealistic character who saw the world for what it could be. I too reached for many unreachable stars, but my ultimate and far-fetched goal was to have some woman, of my choosing, even my own Dulcinea, someday say, “I’m married to Don Quixote”.
Problem was I didn’t have too many prospects from the start.
If you’ve heard me speak I now laugh about it, but I talk about the big mouth that engulfed my face to such an extent that the only description I heard of my physical appearance from my youngest days was, “You’re ugly”, as uttered by all girls, on the school bus, on the playground, at Church, and so on.
I related more to The Hunchback of Notre Dame than Tom Cruise in Top Gun.
And so, with the words that so harshly began to create the exterior beliefs of how I must appear to the female gender whom I so longed to love, and be loved by, I began to work on something that could perhaps overpower the Beast created by judgment and opinions of others. Looking back now I can’t believe their rude remarks could shape my opinion of how I appeared, that I couldn’t just sing a song like Christina Aguilera and convince myself, “I am beautiful in every single way, words can’t bring me down…” It just didn’t work that way for me.
So I began making people laugh as a way to cover my tears.
Yes, Smokey Robinson was right, “…ain’t too much sadder than the Tears of a Clown when there’s no one around…” (and people asked me later on why I used to open my show with that song… well there you go)
I really have nothing to be sad about now. Life turned out sweeter than I could have imagined it.
Luckily for me I wasn’t born to look like the Brad Pitt’s of the world, like the many I’ve seen waltzing around at the mall or the club in high fashion, perfect hair and tanned out, getting everything they want, women falling at their feet, empty heads and un-crafted personalities that rely on looks alone. The same goes for women; there are even more out there that fall into this category, and eventually the truth begins to hit them that they should have worked on the inside out rather than just the exterior.
As I worked on ME, becoming the man an incredible woman would want to marry, I had a lot of learning to do. I remember nights out with my buddies where they all picked up the girls, danced, made out, had a great time, while I danced in the corner alone working on my Michael Jackson moves. Yes, I was a freak show, especially when I was dancing in the corner with a sequin glove, but I had a higher purpose! – I was working on ME, not the latest pick-up (and mostly because I wasn’t capable of the skill of pick-up), so I found something better to do: Reflect on what I had to offer the world with what I could do and what I could control, and then DO something about it.
I decided at a very young age that I would go out with every single girl I could in high school and thereafter. I would go on at least one date with every shape, look, disability, or of any ability. I would never turn anyone away, because I knew how it felt. I would have compassion on the girls that never got asked out, I would usually be the first and only guy to ask them out, and I would make them feel like they were the most incredible woman in the world on an awesome fun night with my best attempt at being Don Quixote.
I did this because I was constantly overlooked by the girls I wanted to go out with. I was turned down by so many I asked out.
I remember one girl I really found beautiful. I drew a picture of her, a masterpiece portrait really, and it took me the whole summer (I actually went to a school to specialize in art in order to become an artist for Disney before I discovered I could kind of sing). Drawing a picture of the girl I liked was my idea of romance (me and Napoleon Dynamite) – using my talents to do something for her no one else had done or could do. I spent over 300 hours on this drawing. It turned out incredible. When I handed it to her after school one day she said nothing. Actually, she said “pffffd” with a chuckle and an eye roll. I was devastated. I had been duped. I was going after “the pretty girl” and didn’t bother to get to know the person, which was still immature and hollow – I guess like I was, too (later I found out that her Mother saw it in her bag, screamed, cried, and framed it where it still sits on their family mantle. But the girl never said anything…).
From that moment on I swore I’d only go after the ‘beautiful-from-the-inside’ girls, the ones that shined through and through. What a great decision that was.
In my twenty-first year I went on at least one date with over 100 women. I went out with every kind of girl, no matter what they looked like, if I was physically attracted or not, just any girl with a light in her eyes that would say, “Sure, I’ll give you a chance with one date”: College co-eds, Baptists, Methodists, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormons, Catholics, atheists, widows, widows with children, 7-11 employees, Denny’s waitresses, bank managers, nannies from England, plumbers daughters, farmers daughters, even accidentally found out one was my cousin during the date (genealogy is not advised to do on a first date), secretaries, Brazilians, Buddhists, a darling down-syndrome girl, a wheelchair bound survivor, hereditary disease carrying brave-hearts, divorcees, those who had never been kissed, some who had kissed one too many, songwriters, poets, performers, dancers, Yoga instructors…you get the picture.
I went out with all kinds of women, and it was incredible to enjoy the company of so many amazing daughters of God. I learned that all people have divine gifts, hearts of gold, and everyone just wants to be acknowledged as having lived a meaningful existence. I learned more about myself than I can express here.
I used to come home and talk with my Mom for hours about the techniques of making a woman feel important, special, amazing, and all the while keeping myself clean and pure in order to take one special girl to the sacred house of the Lord for marriage.
The story of my courtship with my wife is too long for this already too long blog post, but I can honestly say I fought off windmills that appeared to be dragons and rode my royal steed to her rescue as I convinced the uncatchable fish to be my girl. I set my sights too high. She was an impossible catch. And I see myself as trying to prove every day that I am worthy of her love and it is the greatest journey of my life.
Her name is Tami, the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard, and somehow she loves me. All of me. Warts and all. We have 4 children of our Heavenly Father who has given us the chance to have them in our home. I couldn’t ask for more.
Valentine’s Day was always a day I loved. I used to go to Smith’s Grocery Store and buy long stem roses, then walk through the parking lot handing them out. I’d buy vases of flowers for those I knew probably wouldn’t get them and leave them on their porch and run.
Fortunately I get to bring my wife these little gifts year-round. No “Special Occasion”. Just because I can and I think about it daily.
And she does the same for me, little things that make my day, making food that fills my belly, rubs my shoulders on the pew at church, sticks up for me when I put my foot in my mouth (which I believe it actually fits). I like that she does that stuff, too.
I know for sure there are men reading this right now that are rolling their eyes at how pathetic it sounds, and yet there are more that have done the same for women throughout their lives, for their wives, and even more.
I write to the men that are still the Romantics out there. The men that know Chivalry lives on. The men that want to prove daily that they can conquer the world in honor of the goddess they call their wife, their daughter, their mother, the loves of their lives.
I write for young boys to know that if you allow others to create your own self-perception while you’re young, that it will never go away. I still think of myself physically with the words I so painfully took in from others. Even when my wife says I’m handsome I don’t believe her. But I know that she sees me for who I am and who I’m trying to be, and I really know that I have become a beautiful person inside, or at least I’ve tried really hard to become that. I pray for the young men that want to be seen, noticed, loved. I know there are so many young women out there, too, that long for the same.
To those that are struggling with self-image, depression, wondering if “The One” will ever come along, I write to you this Valentine’s Day and say:
BE THE ONE!
Become the person that is sought after.
Become the person you want to win.
Become the greatest you can be.
Don’t ever give up on the dream of living a utopian existence when all the world around you says it’s bizarre, you’re crazy, you’re not going to make it.
Become the best you can be.
Become a Beautiful Being of Spirit, of Light, of Deity that you already possess within your radiant Soul!
My heart cries out for the MEN of this world that are losing this light every day because they have settled on mediocrity, on no self-improvement or daily disciplines.
Where is the meditation? Communion with God? Journaling and self-reflection, course correction, repentance, physical exertion, mental strength, patriarchal responsibility, and living with God’s redeeming love.
On this great day of LOVE I call out to all the Romantics within the sound of my voice (or the voice in your head as you read this) and know it’s up to you to create the Life you have, want, and live.
Is your wife today saying, “I’m Married to Don Quixote”?
“I’m married to a Man that dreams great dreams, that lives a virtuous life, that gives his all in service, that uses his talents to bless the world, who loves me unconditionally, who worships me, who stays up every night helping me put the kids to bed with a story, scriptures, prayer, and then stays up cleaning the kitchen til it’s spotless. “
How I wish I was there. How I wish my wife said I’m accomplishing this great goal. I don’t know if I ever will, but I know one thing – I’ll never stop trying.
I need to know what else I can do, I need to know from the great men out in the world that are living it, that are GREAT. What do you do that sets you apart from the rest? What do you give as a Man to your Wife that is extraordinary? Inspire me, as so many already do, but tell me how you are The Man of La Mancha for your family. I want to hear from the wives of these men, too, I mean especially! What does it take to be a great husband, man, provider, in your eyes?
Rise up men. I know you’re out there. Let me hear your commitment to becoming the best you can be. Women that read this, let me know you are being loved by an incredible MAN of GOD. I know you’re out there!
We are ONE. We are the creators, we are the dreamers, we are living the Impossible Dream.
Love you all and thank you for always inspiring me.
BEST & WORST of The Year
I’m still amazed by how blessed I am to have a performing & speaking career such as this. What a joy, and thank you to those who continue to bring me in for a shot at making your audiences laugh, think, and even return year after year!
10. Entire Show revamped, re-tracked by Danny Gans’ former show co-writer and best friend, the legendary Raphael Erardy
9. Qualtrics Show with Lokalgrown as backing band
8. Independent Insurance Agents events in New Mexico, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Georgia
7. Max International Master of Ceremonies
5. LifeVantage return as Keynote Speaker (2nd year in a row) in Anaheim, CA
4. An incredible year full of over 25 booked gigs for excellent JHEWLETT EVENTS Artists
3. Denmark (European) and U.S. events for Synergy Worldwide
2. My continued transformation from solely an “Entertainer” to becoming a sought after “Keynote Speaker”, “Master of Ceremonies”, and referral source for satisfied clients with JHEWLETT EVENTS for major events nationwide
1. TIE: NSA-Mountain West Holiday Party (event for my Speaker Peers & Friends) and Shaklee International Convention (w/ Webb AV in front of est. 10,000 attendees at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV)
Most Thoughtful Client – Greg Hawkins, County Auditor, making me a beautiful trophy declaring me “Entertainer of the Year”
Longest Tenured JHEWLETT EVENTS Clients – For the 5th Year straight, both Delta County Fair and JD Machine have used my referrals of JHE Artists, as well as my show, at their events. Thank you for trusting me with your events!
Favorite Speech – Toss up between my 4th year appearance at UBW (Utah Business Week) and Salt Lake Valley Health Department
Favorite School Speech – Silver Crest Elementary in Herriman, UT (this school changed my mind about my ability to speak to elementary school aged kids, and now I prefer this age, Silver Crest was so amazingly fun!) & South Elementary in Cedar City, UT
Repeat Performances for: Good Earth; UBW; LANDesk; Stephen Wade Auto; G&A Partners; CHG Healthcare; Corporate Alliance; Utah County Republican Women; Domino’s Pizza
Keynote Speeches for: G&A Partners; PACRAO; High School Athletic & Activities Associations in Wyoming, Kentucky, and Texas; Iron County Opening Institute for Educators; Utah Rural Schools Association; MASSP & UASSP Secretaries Conference; Utah & Pacific Region School Boards Association; Salt Lake Valley Health Department
Most Fulfilling Gigs: Tyler Smith Fund Raiser; Waterford School Assembly & Performance
Biggest Compliment from One Audience Member: Big Fork, MT Community Valentine’s Show – where I received a standing ovation from an older gentleman on the front row for my original song called “My Wife”
Biggest Challenge from an Event Planner: Booking me as the “After Dinner Show” and then breaking contract prior to the show and putting me in the schedule during dinner (this makes for a choking audience)
First Time Performances (just a few mentioned): Kyani; Visi; Namify; uGenius; AGCVA; Ridley’s; RWAU; Shaklee; UMGMA; Unishippers; Western Energy; JR Simplot; Hoyt; Bountiful Mazda; Sally Beauty; ConAir; American Lung Association
WORST Moments –
1. Losing my bags so often on multiple trips (DELTA stands for: Don’t Expect Luggage To Arrive)
2. Missing gigs due to DELTA’s inability to get me there (DELTA stands for: Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport) which finally resulted in my cancellation of frequent flyer status and joining on with Southwest, an airline I can depend on to get me to the gig #LoveSWA.
(When I told the history of my flight experiences to a DELTA representative at the airport he said, “Well, you should probably stop flying DELTA in order to not jinx our airline anymore”. OK, I will
Worst Moment of the Year – Missed connection in Detroit by 2 minutes at 9 PM, resulting in needing to drive all night (6 hours) in the dark, in the unfamiliar territory of Michigan, in order to get to my gig by 7 AM. Delta then denied covering my missed flight, rental car one-way trip, and lost bag. Wow.
As you can see, DELTA had a big impact on the Worst moments of my year, but luckily there were only traveling challenges as opposed to on stage worst moments during the year. As Dan Fogelberg said, “The audience was heavenly, but the traveling was hell…” I’m grateful this is all that really went wrong.
All in all, 2012 was the best year of my career. What a blessing to get to do something so odd, so fun, so silly for a living.
My only regret of the year is how confused everyone seems by my mention of the word “retirement” from my resume. I am still available for hire for Corporate and Private Events, and hope you’ll still consider me for your conventions, conferences, and parties. But I am NO LONGER performing at venues where you can purchase a Ticket to come and see me in your area (such as local theaters where my name shines bright on the marquee). No more Public Events with my name on it. But who knows, maybe I’ll show up as a Surprise Guest at an event you’re attending.
My Goal continues to be the same: To move from solely a Performer and Entertainer into the Speaking world, which allows me to share a message of hope, inspiration & humor, while still adding in some of my favorite impressions and music to create an over-the-top speaking experience. I hope you’ll take the time to consider me as a Speaker at your events as well, for those clients that have I am asked to return over and over again.
Special Thanks to:
Jared Hewlett – After 8 years of working, traveling, laughing, and hanging out together on a daily basis we decided to part ways in our work relationship for Jared to live his dreams. No one has been a greater support, a bigger fan of mine, or bent over backwards more often than Jared. He was truly the hardest working, most fun, and incredible partner to this point of my career. The laughs we shared following gigs on the drives and flights home are missed, and he continues to be the one I have to test material on to make sure if it’s performance ready. I love my little brother Jared and wish him well in his goals and pursuit of happiness. Thanks man.
December 15, 2012
Only in death can you feel such pain.
I’ve felt it when my Grandparents passed.
Most recently when my sweet cousin, Kyle Redford, died in an accident in his twenty first year.
But when it’s perfect strangers, such as 9/11, it’s a different kind of pain, but still just as painful thinking of what the families that remain are experiencing.
Yet 24 hours ago was different even still.
A coward entered the safe and secured Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, at 9:30 AM on Friday, December 14, 2012 and deliberately murdered 27 people.
Teachers and faculty; those that have sacrificed their lives to the instruction and inspiration of our nation’s future, were first. This alone is beyond comprehension, that someone could do something so horrific to these service devoted educators who are parents, wives, daughters and sisters, wonderful adults that love children and give their all to them, is without words. I grieve for those that lost loved ones yesterday.
And then, somehow, it got worse.
He ends up killing 20 children all 6-7 years of age.
This stops my heart.
This makes it hard to breathe in any fashion.
As I type this I have a beautiful photo on my screensaver:
A 7-year old 1st Grader.
A 5-year old Kindergartner.
A 4-year old Pre-Schooler.
A 14 month old infant.
These are my most precious babies.
I don’t care the age, they will always be my little babies, even if they are fortunate enough to grow old, and I do as well, they will always be my babies.
My mind goes numb trying to wrap around what has just happened to these innocent children of Sandy Hook. The sorrow of their parents….the confusion of their siblings….
As I drove and listened to the news, updates coming over the wire, I was crestfallen. I was driving 300 miles from my home while my children were back where I had just left, and my having no control over the situation to go back and get them, ensure their safety, I shuddered and cried as I listened to the reports.
I thought of the parents who were probably like us that morning: rushed to get the kids out the door, barely taking the time to love them in the effort to just start the day, and now….gone. I pray those parents don’t feel regrets for the last moments, words, or any potential forgotten hugs, kisses, and displays of appreciation. How can you know what will befall your loved ones as you go about your every day? I can only pray these families are comforted, can feel God’s spirit wrap around and embrace them, and can have any kind of peace in the coming hours, days, weeks, years…
In the past few years I have spoken in over 100 assemblies at schools all over Utah, and Elementary are my favorite. They are the toughest to keep the kid’s attention, but they are incredible. The teachers are unbelievable. I finally understand why Mister Rogers did what he did, and I seek out opportunities to be with kids as their Speaker, it is such an honor.
And perhaps that is why this continues to berate my mind and leave me paralyzed in thought as to what I can do to make a difference. In honor of the fallen!
I am also a performer and this is my busiest time of the year, performing for Christmas parties nationwide. Last night I had to stand on a stage in Southern Utah, after crying all day listening to this tragic news, and perform my show of comedy, music, joy and fun for a group of people that had also grieved all day.
Yes, I’m a performer, but I’m a Husband and Dad first. Having to do my show for this audience last night was literally insane for me. I couldn’t think of my family, my children, the fallen victims, their families, or I couldn’t get through my show. I had a job to do, I was there to make these people HAPPY, so I put on a happy face, and I just did it.
The crowd laughed. We had a nice time.
The laughs masked the pain.
But then I brought up during the show that it had been a tragic day, the pain I’d felt and knew they’d felt.
“My friends, I hope you have been able to allow your mind to go to a place of joy and laughter for the past hour, even in the shadows of what is one of the darkest days in our Country’s history. The loss of life, the sadness, as a father for me today is unbearable.
But I hope you still believe there is good in this world, that we can make a difference for right, we can love each other all the brighter. I believe, even with the pain, that we live in a wonderful world. I hope this song expresses the hope we can cling to in the voice of Louie Armstrong….”
“I see friends shaking hands saying
How do you do?
They’re really saying, I Love You.
I hear babies cry….
I watch them grow….
They’ll learn much more….
Than I’ll ever know.
And I think to myself
What a Wonderful World.
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
I lost it.
I forgot what the words said until I was singing them.
Oh my heavens, those words!
As a man who loves deeply, who cares passionately, who grieves excruciatingly again today, I can say this is incomprehensible to wrap my brain around what has transpired. I’m not sure it will subside. I am trying to not allow it to drive me crazy. I’m contemplating forming a local militia of fathers in my neighborhood, we get our guns and go stand guard at the schools in our area, since there aren’t enough cops to do the job.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” – Wayne LaPierre
I mean what can we do???!!!!????
Tonight, I did another show, this time in Central Montana. 36 hours removed from the incident, I brought it up again within the show. I felt it was a downer, yes, but these grieving families in Newtown must feel our prayers, our hope, our love that is renewed for our own families in the moment of their horrific challenges.
I realized tonight once again that all I can do today is wear a smile even if I feel like throwing up and sobbing in my bed and hiding my children from the world.
All I can do is bring joy to each person I encounter and hope I made a positive impact on that person. With how this world is becoming, what is it becoming??? I cringe to think our time is more limited than it’s ever been, and that time of our children is only going to be more trivial, more precious, more sacred because of the crazies all around us. Not to live in fear but to live life fully!
How do you feel today?
Lessons learned from Sandy Hook for me:
Charlie Chaplin said it best with his song “Smile”
“Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky you’ll get by
If you smile through your pain and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying.
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile-
If you just smile.”
I believe the world is good.
I believe we all have a job to do, and to go out there and do as much good as we can every day.
The more good we do the more it will outweigh the bad that creeps in from everywhere else.
And I hope you’ll resolve to do something with a smile today. Make someone’s day.
So today I did just that – beyond just my “job” of making a room full of strangers smile & laugh – I literally reached out where I could make an immediate difference to the “one”.
I was at Subway, ordering a sandwich in small-town America. The high school aged boy in line ahead of me went to pay for his sandwich and his debit card declined twice. He moved out of the way so I could pay for my sandwich. I asked him if he had any other money, and he was trying to text a friend to come help him out. I said, “Let me buy your lunch”.
I don’t know him. It cost me $6 to do this. I’m a complete stranger and I did a good turn today. Will that kid ever forget that? Who knows, but I know the kids working there won’t.
I only share this as an example of what I’m committing to do to make America just a little better today, tomorrow, and forever. Bring a Smile, however I can, whether on stage or in every day moments, it doesn’t matter where, it just matters now.
What are you going to do today to make a difference wherever you are? Wherever you go? Please commit to do something for someone to make it a Wonderful World and bring a Smile to the weary hearted.
Please read each of these sacred names below, not as a list, but one at a time. Stop after each. Listen to their voices, listen to your heart. Offer up a prayer, and commit to live life better in their honor.
God Bless the Families of Newtown, Connecticut
~ jason hewlett
The Angels of Sandy Hook Elementary School -
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Aveille Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6
Rachel Davino, 29
Dawn Hochsprung, 47 (principal)
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Lauren Russeau, 30 (substitute teacher)
Mary Sherlach, 56 (counselor)
Victoria Soto, 27 (teacher)
Yes it has been an incredible 2012 of corporate shows worldwide. I have enjoyed performing in Las Vegas, Florida, Sun Valley, Oregon, Texas, Detroit, Kentucky, Salt Lake City, and everywhere in between and even, ready for this? Copenhagen, Denmark! Life is so fun!
It is that time of year to provide you with my referrals of the BEST of the BEST Performers and Entertainment in the industry, offered for your corporate holiday events and to bring a smile as only the JHEWLETT EVENTS artists can (G-Rated, Las Vegas quality). As the turn-out was so great last year for the Holiday Showcase we have decided to do another SHOWCASE for our awesome clients. We have a limited number of seats so we need your RSVP ASAP!
On Thursday, October 11 you will enjoy a full evening, so arrive at 6 PM to see what Entirely Eventful has created as our partner, including theme, decorations, catering, everything that makes an event pop and see what they can do for you. At 7 the show will begin with JHE’s top booked act the past 5 years, fan favorite, Shawn Rapier, and his audience interactive comedy show. Followed by Lokalgrown, Utah’s top booked band for fairs in 2012, and see how they have expanded into a show that is a blockbuster. To top off the evening we have a very special guest, yes Headliner Jeff Civillico from Las Vegas’ Imperial Palace will close out the show with his over-the-top hilarious variety performance and leave you crying with laughter.
Please invite a guest or two, remember seats are limited to event planners only, or those on planning committees for Holiday parties in Utah, and this event is FREE. We respectfully request your RSVP only if you fit in this category, as fans and the public will not be admitted without representing a company for this event. Discounts for booking performers night-of will also apply, so please come ready to make decisions for your company party!
See you there and thank you for your continued support and for trusting JHE with your event’s success!
RSVP: email@example.com or 1-877-501-SHOW (7469)
Review by: Jason Hewlett
I have just returned from what usually is a disaster of a musical when done at this level. Anyone taking on Les Mis is usually Les Insane in community theatre. Let me say I am blown away by what I saw tonight in Daybreak, South Jordan, UT, and I believe Claude-Michel Schonberg would be proud of this production and interpretation of his Tony Award-winning score.
The set was very well done, with excellent painting, craftsmanship, draping, sound, lighting, and costumes so meticulously made. The orchestra, led by Art Moore, did a very good job with a challenging score, carried by Bion (drums) and Kim (keyboard) Wimmer, the music turned out exceptionally well.
From the start it was youth at it’s finest. It is rare to see community theatre pull off Hugo’s masterpiece set to music, but then to see young people carrying the entire show, I’m not even sure if anyone in the cast is older than high school, and this knocks me out.
Logan Bingham’s presence as the lead character, Jean Valjean, captured the essence of this beautiful musical: forgiveness, love, sacrifice. As if he aged before our very eyes this is a young man that not only acts convincingly but has a booming, incredible voice. Still in high school, this is a young actor and talent to watch!
As if it couldn’t get better it does, once Curtis Nelson takes the stage as Javert and crushes the part with acting chops, commitment to the role, and a voice that would make Broadway critics believe Utah is really where it’s at. He makes you hate him and then feel sorry for him, as only a truly fine actor can, and owns the stage. Curtis takes it to the top and is certainly a star in the making, we will keep track of his bright future, as he has the option with his style, charisma, charm, handsome looks, and voice to go any direction: Hollywood, Broadway, sky’s the limit here.
Enter Fantine, with the now hard to top “I Dreamed A Dream” following Susan Boyle’s display on Britain’s Got Talent that has taken the song from a nice melody in a long musical to the true underdog anthem for the lowly of physical beauty, and now the song has a new owner while being sung by a gorgeous young lady, Amberlee Merrill. The maturity and depth of this voice was moving. An actress of the finest kind; where did these kids come from?
The powerful vocals and acting of Eponine (Sarah Keuhl), to the soaring voice of Enjolras (Spencer Sharp), the bizarre yet hilarious interpretation of Thenardier (Michael Butler), to the handsome and velvet voice of Marius (Max Wimmer), to the soothing voice and chemistry to her beau of Cosette (Megan Williams), this was a musical production I will not soon forget. And yes, they would make any age performing these roles proud.
Then the “little people” on stage steal their respective parts of the show; Gavroche played by the energetic, perfectly accented, and lovable Geoff Beckstrand, to young Cosette as a singing “Castle on a Cloud” by Maggie Scott, who’s diction within the song gave it true feeling and passion. Combined with the many powerful numbers by the full orchestra and each member of the cast, this musical not only lives up to it’s billing but will thrive “One Day More” with positive, inspiring productions like these being created nationwide.
I especially applaud the direction and vision of Toni Butler, a blessed gift to Utah theatre, who has taken a non-existent community theatre program in South Jordan, UT and passionately willed a movement of excellence and culture into this area. Having attended the productions since the beginning a few years ago I am floored by what I saw tonight.
Usually, due to my travel schedule and the amount of shows I attend (and perform) it is rare for me to take the time to get a review finished within a week of seeing it, sometimes two weeks. But here I sit, tonight, one hour after getting home, to let you know about it. And since there are a few dates left I hope you have a chance to see something so spectacular in community theatre as this before every ticket is gone. It’s a Do Not Miss experience. Congratulations SJCT, you’ve truly outdone yourselves.
Runs through June 2012
15, 16, 18, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26
BUY TICKETS at web site below
Gordie Brown – World’s Greatest Impressionist
Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Review by: Jason Hewlett
It has been nearly 2 years since I last had the chance to see the Greatest Impressionist in the World. And, even though that is a big title to shoulder, Gordie Brown stands even taller with the acknowledgement that he is just that indeed.
I have seen Gordie in Reno, Las Vegas numerous times, watched all of his videos, and my wife enjoyed his opening act for Celine Dion when her tour came to Utah a few years ago.
The man is a freak of nature. In a good way. Really.
He never fails to impress with the hilarious Classic parodies I have come to love of his - “Joe Cocker had to pull in all the right places just to hit those notes” as he goes into the final nipple squeeze; “We all know Willie Nelson really sang this version at first: To All The Weeds I’ve Smoked Before…”, to Julio Iglesias loving himself dee best, to Tom Jones “It’s Not Unusual to Walk Like this When You’re Done”. Truly Gordie’s mind is one second Weird Al, the next Robin Williams, the next – who knows what comes next?
The Show begins in a comfy, classy, old Vegas feel theatre-style seating room, backed by an impressive band, and great lighting cues (much improved over the years), with the sound feeling extra mixed, EQ’d, and reverbed. Gordie enters the stage as a Headliner that has seen many different venues, audiences, and situations, and takes total control of the room, winning us all over with a medley of musical hit after hit, impression after impression, nailing each voice.
He looks so much like Tom Cruise it isn’t fair. His hair is perfect, build svelte, and ability to mimic incredible. I have no idea how old he is at this point, I assume he must be in his late 40’s by now with the length of his career, but he looks amazing and the women are captivated, men wishing they were that funny. Although I still wish he’d dress differently (he was in a dark blue button up shirt that had sweat stains in the armpit and elbow by mid-show) the jeans seem to be his thing. I wouldn’t wish on him a Liberace or Wayne Newton look, or the standard black on black on black, perhaps just something a bit dressier yet still cool, which he can certainly do in any outfit.
As he tears through hilarious voices, bits, routines, all of a sudden you realize you are lost within the manic delivery of a man ever-evolving. Not only is he a caricature artist from years past who still draws and has an impressive book for sale, and not only did he add about 40 minutes worth of material I hadn’t seen him do before, Gordie can barely keep the show from getting lost in his own layering before the audience is laughing at how confused they are. I have seen his show go from polished bits (Reno), to a Danny Gans/Rich Little version of consistency (Golden Nugget first year), to completely all over the place and barely a flow at all (Venetian), and now, as seasoned as he is back at Downtown’s Golden Nugget, Gordie has combined them all into something few entertainers can do: Entice you into his world and give you a slim chance to hang on for the ride.
I prefer more consistency, more polish, more show flow that makes sense for a Las Vegas Headliner. It was perhaps funniest to watch the confused band wonder what they should do during a 10 minute tangential routine where Gordie is falling off the stage and wandering into the front row as a blind Ray Charles/Stevie Wonder… who then morphed into Britney Spears with a butterfly tattoo on her back becoming a fat old future grandma with grandchildren feeding crackers to her now ‘eagle’ tattoo…then Mike Tyson showed up with Evander Holyfield’s ears in both hands, and wait – John Wayne and Deepak Chopra just arrived!? I’ll be honest, it was very Greenwich Village, almost as if he stumbled into the theatre from his practice next door at the Fremont Street Experience, and now was trying out all kinds of bizarre comedy on a high paying audience. You could feel the tension in the air as the audience wanted more music, more flow, even as sophomoric and racy and odd as his musical parodies are known to be, the audience was confused and wanting to go back.
However, it was still entertaining. People are laughing. It just made little sense. And perhaps that is the true Genius of Gordie Brown. Whereas a lesser performer would have dropped the ball, made no sense, come out of it like Jimmy Fallon on SNL in years past ruining the skit by busting up with laughter, you have to hand it to Gordie; he commits to the bit, digs a hole, and eventually finds his way out to applause and laughter. It is so rare to see this. The best person I can think of that does this is Robin Williams, and he seems to be Gordie’s mentor.
Perhaps the genesis of the show was simply his interaction with the drunken spaghetti strapped blondes walking in and out of the theatre looking for the restroom. His consistent commentary of voices from George Bush, to Bill Clinton, even the world’s worst Barack Obama impression, made for great fodder as each audience member entered the low shooting spotlight to allow him to poke fun. He threw the hammer down when a white gangly 20-something in a jumpsuit with a sideways baseball cap returned to his seat and all of a sudden became the audience’s Eminem. The band quickly realized where Gordie was headed, went into “Lose Yourself” and Brown’s impression of the rapper was over-the-top, along with a parody written in the moment for this punk taking his seat. Unbelievable. It was like watching Wayne Brady on “Who’s Line Is It Anyway” creating a song on the spot, but every word and rhyme even better, a crescendo to screaming laughter by the impressed audience.
Unfortunately Gordie only picked up the guitar once for his Neil Young bit. I still think it’s an inappropriate piece, since Neil actually has real health issues, but Gordie still goes there. What’s sad is that he’s not playing the guitar more in his show. I even would like to hear him sing a little in his own voice as Gordie is an impressive singer-songwriter and not everyone knows about it. He could easily bring it to a serious place for 5 minutes, talk about his life, play an original GB tune, and then get back to the comedy, but I don’t believe he’ll ever go there unfortunately for the audience. He is an amazing guitarist and left out one of his signature routines of various artists ordering at a restaurant that is something he’s done for years. But you have to hand it to him, he doesn’t rest on his laurels and perform the same “Classics” over and over, such as other entertainers on the Strip, and is ever-evolving.
I missed a few routines that he failed to include this time, especially Michael Jackson, Usher, Vanilla Ice, and Bob Dylan. Although he still does Elvis he didn’t do some of my favorite parts, such as “this is a low budget show, here’s a toilet paper scarf…” to completely ruining a great Alanis Morrisette bit that included her stabbing her boyfriend, now is a parody that could barely be heard over the band and was only partially funny about her mood swings. But the new impressions of David Bowie, Andrea Bocelli, even Sammy Davis singing Phantom of The Opera were very out there and good.
My favorite addition, however, was actually a subtraction from an old routine that not only he once did but everyone, including myself, does. Taking a page out of the old Mighty Mouse routine by Andy Kaufman book of “less is more – give them silence for bigger laughs”, Gordie now does “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole and his daughter Natalie… without Natalie. I still get goose bumps thinking about it, this was so quintessential Gordie Brown. In one impression he personified exactly what he is about: a great Nat impression (that everyone on the strip does), and throwing you off without Natalie singing and just standing there looking bored. This knocked me out and confirmed this man will continue to evolve, work, push the limits, and never become a stale headlining act in the city that has embraced his crazy genius style.
Near the end of the show Gordie made a special introduction of the legendary Steve Rossi, promoted his mentor Rich Little’s show, and then made mention of me in the audience, which I have written about in another Blog Post, as it was the most unexpected gesture of a true gentleman on stage I’ve ever experienced and floored me. I respect and love this guy, he has been a mentor from a far for years for me, and I gained a whole new perspective of who he is.
In conclusion, if you are going to Las Vegas for a show of musical impressions, go see Terry Fator, who is amazing because his voice is great and he’s doing impressions with his mouth closed. If you want to see good old comedy or stand-up, go see Carrot Top or Rita Rudner. If you want to see spoken and hilarious impressions, turn to Frank Caliendo. But if you want to experience the most talented, creative, forward thinking, able comedian, impressionist, singer, musician with all skills combined in all the land, Gordie Brown is the ticket. He is far and away the World’s Greatest Impressionist, no one even holds a candle to him. But bring a seat belt and compass because you’ll have quite the ride on your hands and may not know how to return to a normal state of mind by show’s end.
Performer Talent: A++
Ticket Purchase Price Value: A
Las Vegas Headliner Show Entertainment Grade: B+
Not Recommended for Ages Under 18.