One week in Hershey, Pennsylvania is more than enough. Don’t get me wrong, the town is cute enough, but with four restaurants and one bar, your options of things to do run out pretty quickly – especially in the dead of winter when the amusement park is closed.
We arrived early Monday morning via sleeper bus – I slept for eight hours on the bus, believe it or not. I had trouble sleeping the first couple of overnight trips that we did on the bus, but not anymore. Plus the bus we have had lately has extra long bunks which are nice and roomy. I have to also give a shout out to our driver, Cookie, who is such a nice guy, and who LOVES Tallulah. Hey that’s funny, we were driven to “Chocolate Town” by a guy named Cookie!
In addition to a lack of restaurants in Hershey, there are also a lack of hotels, so we were housed at the oh-so-glamourous Days Inn (“The award-winning Days Inn Hershey” is how they answer the phone there – what??). You know you are staying in a motel when you have a bottle opener permanently attached to the wall in your bathroom. But, the place was clean enough, so whatever.
I stayed in almost all day on Monday and got a lot of knitting done on my “Tilted Duster”. I finished it just before we left Hershey and it is blocking in my hotel room as we speak, so pictures will follow in an upcoming post. I also watched a couple of movies, did some laundry and ventured out to the small grocery store around the corner from the hotel where, among other things, I bought a loaf of homemade banana bread. Only in a small town can you find actual homemade banana bread, wrapped in tin foil with a handwritten label, sold at the local grocery store. I had dinner Monday night at Fenicci’s, a local italian restaurant, with Ken, Karl, Jovon and Jeff. The owner loves show people, and he treated us to a free meal. He also told us he would be keeping the bar and kitchen open late every night that week so that we would have somewhere to go after the show, which proved to be a great thing since everything else (and by that I mean the other three restaurants in town) closes by the time we get out of work. I think we ended up at Fenicci’s most nights last week.
As for the show, the theater in Hershey is TINY. I’ve played over thirty theaters now with “Spamalot”, and it is by far the smallest we have played. We had to cut two of the reed pallets (two pieces of scenery in the “Lady of the Lake” scene) because they didn’t fit offstage in their normal preset positions. It was definitely a tight squeeze. Luckily though, most of the stagehands were pretty good – especially my prop guy on stage right, so the week wasn’t too bad backstage.
It was the first week with a new King and Patsy. Christopher Gurr, who normally plays Bedevere is playing the King for a month until Gary Beach joins us as our permanent new King Arthur. Brad Bradley is our new Patsy, and Wally Dunn is playing Bedevere for the month. Wally played a few shows in Providence, and Christopher has played the King while Michael has been on vacation, but it was Brad’s debut, and he did a great job. He is a very different Patsy from Jeff, but he has a great energy.
On Wednesday I had another lazy day, but Thursday was our fantastic chocolate adventure. If you don’t know, Hershey, PA is the home to the Hershey Chocolate Factory. Pretty much everything in Hershey is centered around the factory. Everyone works for Hershey. They even own the theater we were playing. The town was set up to be a complete factory town by Mr. Milton Hershey, and it still totally feels that way.
Ryan, Jovon, Karl and I met up with Ken and Jeff at Chocolate World and we had fun wandering around the gift shops and going on the cheesy ride through the “factory” (which is a totally fabricated factory just made for the ride). We ran into Gurr, Gribster, Adam and Brad, and had fun hanging out with them, too. We also went to see a 3D movie about the start of the Hershey corporation, which was silly and fun and akin to “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” at Disneyworld. We had fun screaming and laughing along with the movie. After that, we all attended a “chocolate tasting”. We tasted mostly a lot of dark chocolate, with a couple of milk chocolates thrown in. We learned all about the making of chocolate and the cacao plant and it was really interesting to taste the different chocolates with different cacao percentages. Plus, we were able to take some chocolate home with us, which was a big bonus. After the tasting, Ryan and I went over to the Hershey Museum and learned all about Milton Hershey and how he established his company and built the town.
Friday night Paula’s family (she’s one of the girls in the ensemble, and one of my faves) hosted a party for us at another of the four restaurants in Hershey, DeMarcos. It was a fun time, and nice to hang out with everyone.
We woke up on Saturday to snow, and the weekend got progressively colder and colder. I felt so bad for the crew by the time Sunday night rolled around. It was something like -11 by the time they started the load-out – they were all bundled up (except for Mike Berg, who ALWAYS wears shorts) as they started loading the trucks.
The week finished with Shot Night, hosted by Ben Davis. He made a delicious drink called “Chocolate Milk”, made with milk, chocolate liquor and amaretto – it tasted exactly as its name. Yum!
Yesterday we flew to Nashville, TN. The theater here is ginormous, so load-in has been going very well. We are rehearsing Cara Cooper this week, the wife of our dance captain, Graham – she is taking over for Sabra, who leaves after Jacksonville. Hopefully I will have some free time this week though, to do some sightseeing – I want to see the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand ol’ Opry!
And then after this week…Florida! I can’t wait for sunshine!