The last musical I ever did before I moved away from Texas 25 years ago was Annie. I played Bert Healy and had a great time doing it before heading to NYC to test my fate with other roles. And now, here it is back on Broadway again this year. People have great memories from seeing musicals. They make you ‘feel’ something when you witness them. The same is true to the actors performing in them. And boy do actors have stories to share from those productions.
Actor and author Arthur Wooten has shared just such stories in his latest novel DIZZY: A FICTIONAL MEMOIR. I've blogged about Arthur before, but there is something so different and special about this book – I had to blog again.
Arthur has created a world in his latest work that is set smack-dab in the middle of the Broadway community. And he has plenty ‘stories’ to share. He was a child actor, went off to major in theater and communications as he continued performing and then moved to NYC where his work in regional theater really took off. In the novel, Arthur has created a leading actress on Broadway named Angie Styles and she shares flashbacks to summer stock jobs and regional work: many of those stories taken directly from the author’s own life. (And yes: Annie is even discussed in his book.) The author has told me that performing was always just a part of who he was. From directing the neighborhood kids in shows to the huge productions he did later in life: he couldn't get away from it.
|Arthur on Cape Cod|
So it makes sense for him to cover this aspect of his life in a novel. And yet, he chose to do something really unique by wrapping it up in a fictionalized account so that his character is well known and loved by many as a huge Broadway star. The man knows from which he speaks because his main character is diagnosed with the same disorder that Arthur deals with daily.
I've never heard of this disorder until meeting Arthur. We spent some time together in Cape Cod this last summer and I saw 1st hand how it affects him. It’s called bilateral vestibulopathy with oscillopsia. In 2005, a virus went to his brain that destroyed the working of both of his inner ears. So he has no sense of balance. He always feels as if he is bouncing on a trampoline. The oscillopsia is the brain unable to decipher if he is upright or upside down. So he’s in a constant state of unrest. (Strangely enough, we found he did best in the water when we were away and he spent so much time relaxing in the bay off of Cape Cod.)
The book is inspiring when one realizes the author is sharing something that affects many and yet is not often discussed. It is also entertaining for those that love a great theater story. (Just look at how many people are watching SMASH and GLEE on TV.)
Pick up a copy of the book and see for yourself HERE.
Learn more about vestibular.
Learn about Arthur.