Tony Award winner and Nine Lives star Michael Cerveris was at Piety Street Recording in late June putting the finishing touches on his solo recording debut. The Michael Cerveris project features Shamarr Allen on trumpet, Dave Anderson on bass, producer/engineer Mark Bingham on acoustic and electric guitar, Eric Bolivar on drums and Cerveris on vocals and acoustic guitar. Special guests include Mia Borders, Dave Capello, Jack and Sam Craft, Helen Gillet, Alex McMurray, Anders Osborne and Paul Sanchez. The album was recorded at Piety as well as Seaside Lounge in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and three other New York and Louisiana locations.
After finishing his last session at Piety Street, Cerveris missed his first performace in eight years June 25 when his flight from New Orleans never made it to New York, preventing him from playing his character, Juan Peron, in the Broadway revival of Evita. Cerveris broke an iron-man string of working through productions of Sweeney Todd, LoveMusik, Cymbeline, In the Next Room, Hedda Gabbler, King Lear and Road Show. He’d been recording vocals for his solo album and had a flight booked back to New York but the plane never made it.
“I guess there was a big rainstorm in New York yesterday morning, and that shut down airports at various points,” Cerveris told Playbill.com. “It was a combination of that, and I guess Delta Airlines is not the most reliable one. I know there was a Jet Blue flight that took off right before we left that I couldn’t seem to get on…We took off two-and-a-half hours late…I still would have made it at that point, and then somewhere around Virginia, I started feeling the plane doing that circling thing.
“I still thought, ‘Okay, well, there’s still plenty of time to get there. It’s going to be fine.’ It was a flight that had wireless service on it, so I got on my iPad, and they have a flight tracker, so I was able to dial up our flight and just watch on the little map. Our plane just kept making circles over Virginia. And, eventually I started thinking, ‘God, I wonder how long we’re going to be doing this, and I wonder how much fuel they have!’ And, sure enough, they came on the system and said, ‘We’re going to have to divert to DC because we can’t get into LaGuardia now. They’ve shut it down again, and we don’t have enough fuel to stay up here.’ So then we had to land at Dulles-Washington.”
Cerveris then e-mailed his stage manager to tell understudy Bradley Dean to get ready. Four other cast members were also out that night.
“We finally took off again at around nine o’clock, I think, from D.C.,” Cerveris says, “so I had the very surreal feeling of watching the clock go past eight o’clock and thinking, ‘Wow. The show is going on without me.'”
Cerveris is instilled with a show-must-go-own mentality, so missing the performance was a blow to him.
“I do everything I possibly can to perform,” he says. “Obviously, people get sick, but I manage to always fight through it and sing through colds. I’ve had bronchitis, I’ve had stomach flus… This show alone, I tore my adductor muscle in three places, and my leg swelled up to six inches larger than it was supposed to be. And, I broke my hand at the Actors Fund charity softball game at Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago, but I’ve found ways to go through the performance anyway. With the support of stage management and the cast, I just always go on if I can. So it’s really kind of painful to not be able to be there. Everybody is very supportive, and my understudy, Bradley Dean, I’m sure was terrific.
“I guess it matters so much to me because I feel like it’s such an honor and real privilege to have any chance to perform, so I feel a deep responsibility to the show and my colleagues and the audience—because you never know what people have sacrificed and paid to be there. That and I guess I believe that it’s just important to show up for life.”