Houston, we have a problem.

The problem is it rains too freakin’ much here! When I heard we were spending two months of the summer in Texas, I was excited – I thought, it will be hot, we can lounge by the pool and drink icy drinks. It will be great. Instead, it has been soupy and muggy here and RAINY EVERYDAY. Hopefully Dallas will prove to be drier, as it is further inland.

Downtown Houston is a strange place. It has a very pretty skyline – that’s probably it’s best selling point. Other than that, it is mostly all office buildings – which means it is busy during the week but DEAD on the weekends. The really weird thing about the downtown area though, is that there is a huge underground labyrinth of tunnels that connect most all the buildings in the area. I guess so people can escape the humidity and rain and stay in the air conditioning. The tunnels are filled with restaurants and businesses, which would be cool, except that they all shut down around 2:30pm on weekdays and are closed down altogether on the weekends. 

I did manage to find a cool bar up on Main Street and Texas, a few blocks from the hotel – called The Flying Saucer. There is actually another location in Memphis, although I didn’t visit it while we were there. The Flying Saucer here in Houston is big and has a fun, young clientele, and has an amazing menu of over a hundred beers. Plus they serve food late, which is always nice after a show. It was definitely a pleasant surprise to find such a good bar downtown. 

Brian (ye olde 1st ASM on this tour) arrived last Friday to cover Ken’s vacation. We, of course, made immediate plans to visit The Cheesecake Factory (Brian’s fave) and decided to rent a car the following week so that we would not be confined to downtown. 

Saturday matinee was the tour’s 500th performance! We received really cool water bottles with the show’s logo as a gift from the producers, and then between shows we had a cookout on the loading dock of the theater. The local stagehands cooked up some sausages and brisket for us and everyone contributed side dishes. It was great fun, even though it RAINED the whole time and people had to grill standing under an umbrella. Luckily the loading dock is covered, so we could all sit out there anyway without getting drenched. 

Rainy day BBQ

Rainy Day BBQ

Tony and Esther

Tony and Esther

Eating and keeping dry on the loading dock

Eating and keeping dry on the loading dock

Jamie and her new puppy, Oscar

Jamie and her new puppy, Oscar

The 3 Amigos - Nate, Berg and Cuz

The 3 Amigos - Nate, Berg and Cuz

On Monday, Brian and I borrowed Karl’s car and went to the Johnson Space Center. We got a bit lost driving there (they don’t like signage here in Houston) but finally we made it. The Space Center is more geared towards kids, but we saw some interesting films about the space program, and saw some of the real spacecrafts that astronauts rode into space (how they managed to stay sane in the tiny Apollo crafts is beyond me). It was fun remembering all the stories that my friend Donna Rose told us about the space program while I was working at A.C.T. She is a huge space program freak and has gone to a couple of launches, and during one run of a show at A.C.T. we had a “space club” between shows, where Donna would show slide shows and tell us all about the history of the space program. At the end of the run she made us all “Honorary Astronaut” certificates. 

The best part about Johnson Space Center is the tram ride, which takes you to old Mission Control (“Houston, we have a problem”), to the Astronaut Training Facility and also to Rocket Park, where some of the old Gemini rockets are on display. As it was POURING with rain, Brian and I did our best to cover up with a couple of $1 rain ponchos, but still got pretty wet. Rocket Park was closed due to lightning in the area, but we did get to see Mission Control and the Training Facility, which were both very interesting.

One of the Apollo spacecrafts

One of the Apollo spacecrafts

Mission Control

Mission Control

Shuttle training facility

Shuttle training facility

Brian, soaked to the bone.

Brian, soaked to the bone.

And me.

And me.

hat night, we ate, of course, at the Cheesecake Factory.

On Tuesday, Brian, Ben (conductor), and I picked up Karl at the airport (he went to San Antonio for the day on Monday) and then Brian and I rented our own car. All they had left was a mini-van, so we have been driving around like two soccer moms all week. We spent all Tuesday afternoon at the giant mall – the Galleria. I think the Galleria may rival the Somerset Collection in Troy, Michigan, as best mall in America, from what I have seen so far on this tour. The Galleria is enormous and has all the best shops and restaurants. Brian, Ben and I all dropped some money on new clothes and shoes. A perfect day!

The next day, Brian and I dragged Shaun Sites, our flyman (who is leaving the tour at the end of Houston. sniff. sniff.), out for more shopping. We hit The Container Store, Old Navy, REI, Petco and grabbed some lunch. It was fun hanging out with Shaun outside of work. He’s such a great guy – its a real bummer that the show is losing him. 

We were hit by another torrential thunderstorm on the way home.

Thursday night, Angelina and Siobhan (two of our ensemble girls) hosted a “mafia” party at their apartment. Everyone convened for pasta and red wine, and some of the cast members dressed up like gangsters. Some of the actors (cough…Robert Petkoff and Jeff Dumas…cough cough) took their gangster roles a bit too seriously! It was lots of fun though, and who knew Angelina and Siobhan were such good cooks???

Gangsters - Robert, Matt, Tony and Jeff

Gangsters - Robert, Matt, Tony and Jeff

Ricky B

Ricky B

Refilling the water gun with vodka

Refilling the water gun with vodka

On Friday Brian and I went to see the movie “Waitress” starring Keri Russell – it was such a sweet movie! I definitely recommend it. Keri is really great in it too – she is getting really good reviews for it (which makes me happy – I did a play with her in New York two years ago, and she is one of the nicest girls I have ever met, let alone worked with).

So Ken comes back on Tuesday. We have somehow managed to hold down the fort without him. I’m glad he finally took a vacation – he needed one after 500 shows! I’ll miss Brian lots when he goes, but its been great fun having him around for the week – and he’s staying in town for an extra day (Monday), so we’ll be able to hang out for a bit longer. Jeff Dumas, Tony Holds and Robert Petkoff are having a pool party at their place, so hopefully it won’t RAIN!!!
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