Sorry for being MIA for a few days – I’ve gotten a few emails from friends and family asking what’s up, why no blog entries or emails from me – well let me tell you, this has been a truly exhausting week and I haven’t had time for much of anything besides work.
We travelled to Philly on Monday – it was only a two hour bus ride from Baltimore. Because I had Tallulah though, I had to sit in the way back of the bus since a couple of cast members are allergic to cats. I tried to get some knitting done but was starting to feel carsick from being lurched around back there, so I had to stop and just look out the window. Luckily my cat was perfect as always and very quiet. Callie’s cat Oscar, on the other hand, howled loudly from the moment she brought him through the lobby of the Radisson until he was settled on the bus and buried underneath her parka. The Radisson doesn’t allow pets, so Elaine and I had been trying to hide ours in the lobby that morning while we waited for the bus – we were afraid all would be discovered when Callie brought Oscar down howling, but luckily no one from the hotel said anything.
I am staying at the Club Quarters in Philly – I was pretty disappointed with my room when I first arrived – not only was it very small, but it also had only a tiny sliver of a window, so it was also very dark. I had specifically requested a bright room, and this is what I ended up with. After speaking with a number of unhelpful people who work there, I finally found a girl who was willing to help me, and after sticking it out in the dark room for a few days, I was able to move into a corner room this past Saturday that has four large windows and is great. I love it, love it, love it. I also went to Urban Outfitters and bought a few new scarves to drape over the furniture and a bright lightweight bedspread to cover up the drab hotel one. The hotel is in a great location – Chestnut between 16th and 17th, right in the heart of all the great shopping. And, it’s only a few blocks from the theater. So now with my lovely bright room, I am very happy.
So Monday was all about laundry and grocery shopping and then Tuesday was spent at the theater all day loading in. Tuesday night we had our “opening night”. All was going fairly smoothly until Act 2 when Jaki, one of our asst. wardrobe supervisors, fell to her knees and started puking into a trash can stage right. She’s been sick for about a week, but had started feeling better – then was hit again hard on Tuesday. She spent the rest of the show basically leaning over a trash can in the wardrobe room. Since Jaki usually teaches the changes to the locals on stage right on opening night, I had to jump in and pinch hit. Todd, who is here to replace Mike (the wardrobe supervisor) for a couple of weeks while Mike is away, is fairly unfamiliar with Jaki’s track, so didn’t really have any more knowledge than I did. I started asking the locals if I could see their cue cards and tried to interpret the cues the best I could to get them through the show. Somehow we made it through without any major mess. Phew. It was exhausting though.
And now poor Jaki has been out the whole week. She finally went to the hospital on Saturday to get some fluids and food in her system. Hopefully she will be feeling better soon. The poor wardrobe department has had a time of it lately. On top of Mike having to take off for a couple of weeks and Jaki being sick, many of the cast caught a nasty flu bug this week and have been out, meaning that we’ve been throwing understudies on who have never performed those parts before. Trying to costume them has been an adventure in itself. Eric Hayden made his debut as Galahad on Friday, and the poor guy has such skinny legs that the Black Knight legs kept falling off of him. Fran and Todd had to work some major magic to make that costume fit his body.
Tuesday night after the show, the presenters in Philly threw us an opening night party at Ted’s Fontana Grill. The food was excellent! The bison burger was my favorite. We were all so tired though, that most of us just grabbed plates of food, and then ate while staring out the window. No one even really had energy to talk.
The theater where we are playing – the Academy of Music – is really beautiful. After playing such an intimate house in Baltimore, though, it has taken some getting used to. It is very tall with many tiers – I think it used to be an opera house. It looks a bit like a coliseum inside. Here are a few pics:
The local crew seem worlds better here than the crew we had last week. They all are pretty on top of their game. We had one small problem of the guys on the fly rail, which is up above stage right, looking down into the girls’ quick change booths during the show, so our traveling crew built a “privacy” curtain for the booths on Wednesday to curtail that problem. One of the local dressers told me that they have the same issue on every show – the guys can never resist peeking at the girls changing. Can we say grade school, anyone?
Wednesday, which is usually the first opportunity for rest and for exploring the new city, was a two-show day. No rest for us!
Thursday we had a full company brush-up rehearsal. Saturday was a big day – Mike Nichols, Eric Idle, Casey Nicolaw (our choreographer), as well as a number of our producers and general managers, were coming to see both shows, so Thursday was spent going over music notes with Ben (our musical director/conductor) and dance notes with Callie (our dance captain), in preparation for all the bigwigs seeing the show.
Then Thursday night after the show, we had a party for our first anniversary. It’s hard to believe the show opened a year ago already! The party was at a restaurant on Walnut Street. We all got dressed up (it was so nice to see the crew in ties and dresses!) and went for food and drinks, and pretty soon after that the dancing started. Along with our regulars, Paula and Darryl, who can always get the party started, we discovered that our new swing, Nigel, is quite the dancer as well! Also, Robbie, one of our swings, put on quite a show, and Pia was also in fine form. She and Robbie were hilarious together as she must be at least six inches taller than him, and with heels on, even taller than that. My camera was taking some funky pictures in the low light, but here are a few:
It was definitely a fun night and well-needed after a busy few days.
Friday was my first opportunity to see anything of Philadelphia, and of course, it rained ALL DAY! I did go out for a long walk, and got soaked, but it was nice to be out exploring, nonetheless. I walked all the way down Walnut Street to where all the historic buildings are, including the Liberty Bell (which is inside, so I haven’t seen it yet), and then cut down to South Street, which is a lot like Haight Street, or St. Mark’s, and I walked along there back to the area where I am staying. I also hit two yarn stores along the way – Loop and Rosie’s Yarn Cellar. Both were fantastic. I bought some yarn in Rosie’s for two projects I have planned, and I want to go back to Loop. I was a little overwhelmed by their stock, and need to go back with a list.
Here are a few pictures from my walk:
Saturday was the day we had all been gearing up for. We set up a waiting room for Mike, Eric, et al. with the small evian water bottles that Mike likes (and which are not easy to find, by the way!). They all arrived around 1:00pm. I tried to just stay out of the way. The matinee was surprisingly smooth after the chaos of the week. We had a note session following the matinee which lasted until about 5:45pm, at which time I had to haul ass over to my hotel to move into my new and improved room. Mike and Eric seemed very pleased with the show and gave very few notes. Casey had more notes, mostly about being more specific in the dance numbers and not letting them get generic.
The evening show technically was not as smooth as the matinee. Patrick, who plays Lancelot, forgot to properly clip his flying harness before entering as Tim the Enchanter, so we had to fly him in and clip him, thus delaying his entrance a few beats. We had notes again after the evening show and Mike said “Does everyone know Tim was late entering?”. Um, yes. Patrick admitted to forgetting to clip the harness. All in all though, Mike and Casey were overjoyed with the evening show and the way everyone had implemented the notes from the afternoon. Esther, who is our Lady of the Lake standby, and who is taking over for Pia when she leaves, was on for the Lady that night, so it was great for the creative team to see her and for her to be able to get notes from them. The funniest note that came out of the whole day, though, was in regards to the Carmen Miranda fruit hat that Chris Sutton wears as Herbert in the number “His Name is Lancelot”. The hat is supposed to have a banana strategically placed to make a joke at the button of the number when Herbert slides between Lance’s legs. Mike said that the hat was all wrong, there needed to be work done on it, that “it was all leaves and not enough dick!”. Hilarious.
So we finally left the theater close to midnight on Saturday, relieved that the day was over. Sunday, fortunately, was only one show. We bid goodbye to Kevin Burrows, one of our original swings, who is leaving the tour. Most people headed to New York for the day off, where there is a Spamalot tour reunion planned for tonight with all the former cast members. I decided to stay in Philly and rest and try and see a bit of the city. I am planning to go back to NYC next Monday and Tuesday though to catch up with friends.
So that was the crazy week. I’m glad it’s over and I’m sorry for being out of touch! Happy first week of Spring!