I left New York City last Thursday, head spinning from the events of the previous five days, and headed up to Hartford, CT to begin rehearsals for “A Christmas Carol”. I had gotten a phone call the Saturday night prior as I was getting ready to go to a Halloween party (I was struggling to get some fake eyelashes on and adhesive was everywhere) from Ken Davis, the production stage manager (PSM) of the “Spamalot” national tour, asking me if I wanted to come and join them out on the road as Rachel, the 2nd assistant stage manager (ASM) was leaving. I was so surprised to be hearing from Ken (I had thought it was my mom calling) and was definitely not expecting a job offer, so I was fairly taken aback. Plus there was eyelash glue everywhere! I stammered to him that I was flattered and could he forward me a tour itinerary and I would think it over for a few days and get back to him. Then with head reeling, I put on my vinyl Catwoman costume and went to the Halloween party.
Over the course of the next day or so, I consulted all the sages in my life about Ken’s offer. I had worked as a production assistant on the rehearsals for the “Spamalot” tour last winter, so knew the stage managers and most of the cast, and the show. The itinerary looked fun – the stops were starting to get shorter now as the tour has already been out for a year, but there were still plenty of cities that I wanted to go to and some for two, three, or four weeks. There were only a few minor issues that were keeping me from calling Ken back immediately and shouting “Yes!”.
First of all, my cat, Tallulah. I can’t leave her in New York for a year. It sounds a bit pathetic, but she’s my best friend. She’s the sweetest, most loving thing, and follows me around the house whenever I am home. I can’t leave her. So how do I take her on tour for a year? I consulted a lot of people who had travelled with pets, namely Ruth, who took her cat Stanley on the “Dame Edna” tour and Brian, the 1st ASM on the “Spamalot” tour, who is currently traveling with two dogs. Ruth told me in great detail how she managed with Stanley, which travel bag to get, all that. Brian told me about all the animals currently traveling with “Spamalot” and that it is a very pet-friendly tour, and all the animals pile on the bus with the humans from stop-to-stop. Okay, I thought, Tallulah and I can do it.
Secondly, there were logistical things like subletting my apartment. But Andrea, my roommate, was really great about the whole situation and said we would figure all that out.
Thirdly, I had thought in the back of my head that I might have a chance to go out to Los Angeles after the holidays to do “Wicked”. The PSM on the Broadway company of “Wicked” had been very supportive about that aspiration and I had sort of been looking forward to spending some time on the west coast near my family. I didn’t want to throw that idea away. But, ultimately, it was just an idea, and the interviews hadn’t even happened yet. And it would be stupid to give up an actual great job, for one I hadn’t even interviewed for yet. Right?
And finally, I had just committed to stage manage the annual production of “A Christmas Carol” at Hartford Stage in Connecticut and couldn’t very well bail four days before my scheduled date to start work. I spoke to everyone – Tanya, Michele, my parents. Michele screamed over the computer from Belgium that I had to do it (we do video chats). I had dinner with Tanya and Michael and she pulled out all her tour gear – luggage and other gadgets. Tanya and Michael both went through the itinerary with me and gave me bits of information about every stop. By the time I left their house, I knew I had to take the tour. I agreed I would call Hartford Stage in the morning and try to get out of my contract early.
So that’s what I did. The production manager at Hartford Stage was great and very accomodating, and we agreed that I would rehearse and tech the show and get it through the first two weeks of performances, leaving December 4th. That gave me one week in New York to get everything together before leaving on December 11th to join the tour in Detroit.
Crazy, right? So I called Ken and made it official. Then packed my bags and left for Hartford, CT last Thursday. I managed to buy Tallulah’s new travel bag before I left, so I brought her with me to Connecticut as a trial run to see how she’d do as a traveling kitty. So far, so good.
I’ve been in Hartford a week now, and my head is still reeling as I try to prepare to leave for a year, while rehearsing a very big show 100 miles away from home. But more about that to come…