So. Toronto. Well, first of all, I got into the country. Which is good. It was a long drive and I was so tired, I had to pull over for a nap at one point. When I finally got to the border I was called into the immigration office for questioning, but when I opened the door, there were two other members of the “Spamalot” company sitting in there. Turns out they called us all in. After a few questions they let me through. When I finally drove into Toronto and got to the rental house, I was exhausted. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with the eccentric landlady that greeted me or the fact that the internet wasn’t working, but luckily all that got ironed out within a day or two and I was able to start enjoying Toronto.
The house we are in is a little on the kooky side – its all bright colors and arty furniture and strange paintings, but the light it gets is amazing, and it is so nice having a deck and backyard to look out onto, even if it is a bit too cold to hang out there now. We’ve been spending a good deal of time at the house cooking and watching movies, which has been nice, especially since the one-weekers are about to ramp up again and the days of kitchens and living rooms will soon be a thing of the past.
The theater, the Canon, is downtown right near Dundas Square. It’s an old, kind of dumpy theater, with a very, very small backstage. There is absolutely no onstage crossover – our castle butts all the way up against the back wall, so I spent a good deal of time during load-in marking out how to get from stage right to stage left through the basement and drawing up a list of modifications the actors would have to make in their usual backstage traffic patterns. Despite the tight space, opening went fine – and the run has proceeded without anything unusual to report. The houses have been small. I don’t know if its because “Spamalot” played here already (two years ago, before I joined the tour) or if its a sign of the bad economy. Either way, the small houses have been a bit of a downer.
On our first day off in town, we had a pretty lazy day, but did get out for a bike ride to Queen Street West, which is a shopping district, and home to quite a few yarn stores! I passed two, Romni and Americo, which I made a plan to return to another day when I had a bit more time and a plan in mind as to what I wanted to buy. The following day we ventured out to the Distillery District, which is fairly close to where we are staying in South Riverdale. The Distillery District is where booze was manufactured during the Prohibition to be sold to the U.S. All the factory buildings still exist, but now house galleries and shops and restaurants. It’s a very cool area. They were filming a Mini Cooper commercial while we were there and had a big fly rig constructed to hoist these actors dressed like ninjas into the Minis. It was all very strange!
On the second Wednesday in town, we had two shows – which we hardly ever do. It was weird and exhausting to have a two-show day in the middle of the week, but it always pays off on Sunday when we are done after the matinee.
On Friday we visited the CN Tower, which is currently the tallest free-standing structure in the world. It was a bit strange looking out and not seeing any special monuments or mountains like you do atop the Space Needle or the Washington monument, but it was very clear out and the views were pretty amazing. It was fun to walk on the glass floor too – it kind of messes with your head a bit to be able to see through to the ground way down below you!
Since we only had one show on Sunday, Cuz, our sound guy, hosted a BBQ at his rental house in East Toronto. The house he is staying in is pretty great – big with a backyard. Cuz made all kinds of delicious skewers and an entire cooler filled with corn on the cob. So, so good. Jamie Karen (she was one of our ensemble girls when I first joined the tour) and her husband Mark showed up – it was great to see them. Jamie is touring in “Jersey Boys” which is also currently playing Toronto. We had fun hanging out and eating and eating and eating.
The following day Ryan and I took our bikes on the ferry to the Toronto islands. We biked all around the islands, which are beautiful and strange, all at the same time. Centre Island has no residents, and houses a small amusement park. This time of year the amusement park is closed, and it was a bit like a ghost town. There was a little farm with animals that was still open though, and we ran into Patrick and his girlfriend Abby there as we tooled around looking at the pigs and goats and geese. On one of the other islands, there is a small community of houses where people live year-round. It looks like kind of an artists community – the houses are all colorfully painted and some look like little gingerbread houses. There are no cars allowed on the islands, so everybody bikes. I think it would be hard to live somewhere where you had to take a boat to even get to the grocery store.
After spending the afternoon biking around, we took the ferry back to mainland Toronto and went over to the Distillery District for dinner.
On Tuesday Ryan and I biked over to the Kensington Market area and checked things out. It is kind of hippie/ethnic area with some cool shops and restaurants. We had some yummy tacos and then stopped by three yarn stores on the west side before heading home. I wasn’t too impressed with Lettuce Knit, which I found to be tiny with not much stock that I hadn’t seen before. Romni Wools was huge and jam-packed. I spent about $150 in there on some malabrigo sock yarn to make a sweater (on very small needles, I know!). The last store I went to was Americo – a beautiful store that makes all their own yarns. All the fiber was very expensive in there so I only bought two skeins, to make a couple of hats.
The rest of the week was pretty lazy – we had a couple of new actors arrive to join the show – Candy and Carissa are joining our female ensemble, taking over for Tera-Lee and Bree, and Matthew takes over the role of Lancelot from Patrick after Toronto. So, when I wasn’t in rehearsal, I just kind of took it easy around the house.
On Thursday night Ryan and I went back to the Distillery District to get some beers and perogies, and when we came out afterwards, we found that Ryan’s bike had been stolen. Someone cut through my lock with bolt cutters and took his bike and left mine! Ryan filled out a police report, but nothing has been found. So, unfortunately it looks like Ryan is going to have to buy a new bike. Oh well. Enough with the thievery already!
Yesterday was our third Monday off here. Patrick, who leaves the show at the end of the week, threw a party on the roof of his building to go out in style! It was an amazing space with an incredible view of the CN Tower. Cuz barbecued and we had a blast drinking beers and hanging out. After the BBQ, I went to my first hockey game with Ryan, Matt and Scott! It was really fun!
So that’s the recap of Toronto so far. It’s a fun city – a lot like New York, very urban. It doesn’t have the beauty of a city like Vancouver or Seattle or the historical sights of a town like Philadelphia, but definitely has some interesting neighborhoods and things to do, and lots and lots of good shopping!
The show seems to be going through a bit of flux right now with people leaving, and people wanting to leave. The small houses have been kind of demoralizing, as well as the canceled shows in Hartford. I’m hoping with some new faces around, some new energy will be infused into the company. It’s hard to stay happy and positive when there are a few people around who are so unhappy. Or when the people who are leaving are so happy to be leaving. I just have to remind myself how lucky I am to have a job like this, especially when the economy is so bad. So many Broadway shows are closing or not opening at all, and there are hardly any new tours going out. I try not take anything for granted. But sometimes it’s hard.
Anyway, that’s all for now – more soon as we wrap up the Canada leg and head back to the States!