Well I was hit with a nasty flu bug on arriving in Providence and spent all day Tuesday loading the show in through a cloud of a 102 degree fever. I spent much of the week resting whenever possible, but an annoying cough still lingers…
We didn’t have much free time in Providence, anyway, even if I had been well and had energy to venture out. The only place I visited besides the theater was the mall, which was up the street from the hotel – it was a pretty nice one, actually! There was some kind of cheerleading competition happening in town, though, so by the weekend it was sort of unbearable to visit the mall because it was overrun with a million girls in short skirts and hair bows.
The Providence PAC was a nice enough theater – the house was very grand and beautiful. The backstage was rather cramped, but manageable. The local crew left something to be desired, though. I don’t know if they were unskilled, or just didn’t care, but either way, we were sick of most of them by the end of the week.
We spent a lot of time in rehearsals this week. Wally Dunn took over the role of Bedevere on Sunday (he plays for a month while our regular Bedevere, Christopher Gurr, plays the King until Gary Beach joins the cast in Miami). Brad Bradley assumes the role of Patsy on Tuesday. So, we spent the week getting the two of them up to speed and also getting some up-to-date press photos. Here are a couple of shots I got during our Wednesday photo call.
On Friday evening we had a going away party for Michael Siberry and Jeff Dumas, who play the King and Patsy. Both actors have been with the tour since it began and have played almost 800 performances in their respective roles. The party was at a restaurant called Downcity Diner, and a number of the creatives came to see the show and attend the party.
The real send-off though, was Shot Night on Saturday night. Julie and Paula, dressed as the King and Patsy, hosted a sort of “Newlywed Game” for Michael and Jeff, where they had to answer questions about each other and the show. If they got the question wrong, they either had to do a shot, eat a piece of spam, or take off an article of clothing. If they got a question right, they got a prize, which was given to them by one of the ensemble girls, who were all dressed in slutty red dresses and heels. It was a really hilarious game, especially since Michael announced right off the bat that he has “dementia” and couldn’t remember anything. There were quite a lot of shots to be had, and I think Michael may have eaten a bit of spam.
Michael and Jeff gave their final performance on Sunday night. There were a few shenanigans, including a remote-controlled fart machine attached to the bottom of the stool they both sit on during “Jew Song” (controlled offstage by our Lady of the Lake, Esther). But mostly there were a lot of heartfelt moments, including a pre-show speech given by Ken, dedicating the performance to Michael and Jeff, the cast watching a tearful Jeff sing through “Bright Side” for the last time, and the principal actors rearranging the order of the bows so that Jeff got the last bow before Michael.
I met both these actors in rehearsal for the show back in January 2006 and have loved working with them both. Jeff was the first actor that I met in the company, hauling his suitcases into the rehearsal hall at 42nd Street Studios, as he had just arrived in New York from his home in Chicago. We bonded immediately as we had mutual acquaintances in “Wicked” (Jeff was in the Chicago company), and I had to play the part of the “Portcullis” (our show curtain) in rehearsal, revealing Jeff as the Mayor of Finland right at the top of the show. Michael, of course, has been our beloved, befuddled leader – its been great doing lots of sightseeing group trips with him – no one has loved seeing the weird and wonderful things around the country more than Michael. I will miss them both!
So after bidding the two of them goodbye, we loaded onto an overnight sleeper bus to Hershey, PA. I am getting so used to the sleeper buses now, and their coffin-esque bunks. I watched one TV show in my bed, and then slept the rest of the seven hour drive. It was great. I woke up in time for a bowl of cereal before arriving at the Days Inn in Hershey.
So tomorrow we are at a new theater with a new King and Patsy.
The tour won’t be the same.