The second week in Chicago began with a glorious full day off from work. Ryan and I had talked about various options of what we could do with the day – all made a bit difficult by the wintery weather. Ryan wanted to go to the aquarium, but then we looked online and found that a large portion of it was closed for renovations. We had been told that the architecture tours of the city were really great, but since it was winter, the boat tours weren’t running, and the bus tours only ran on Wednesday and Saturdays. So, we decided to go to the Art Institute of Chicago.
First we went to an awesome lunch at The Bongo Room, which specializes in breakfast all day, including really decadent pancake platters. I stuck with an omelette and Ryan had a breakfast burrito. Then we headed up to the art museum.
I have to say, the Art Institute is the perfect size. I tend to get burned out after a few hours in an art museum, and this one required just the right amount of time to get around. My favorite, favorite exhibit was the special photography exhibit in the basement of portraits by Karsh. I was so impressed by his use of light to enhance a certain feature of someone’s face, or to create a mood. I loved it. The portraits seemed so natural and not set up at all. It was also interesting to actually see the faces of so many writers and other notable people, whose names I knew so well, but whose faces I had never seen. Click here for a Google image search of Karsh’s portraits and check them out for yourself.
We spent the better part of the afternoon at the museum, and by the time we left it was getting dark outside. We went back to the hotel for a bit to rest, and then went to a good Mexican restaurant for dinner.
On Tuesday, I woke up early and went and got my hair cut and colored. In the afternoon, I met up with Lauren, a friend I met through Flickr. This was our first time meeting in person, and it was so much fun! We had coffee, then went over to the photography museum at Columbia College, where we saw a cool exhibit of photos by Michael Wolf, and then we hit a yarn store – Loopy Yarns – before I had to head to work. Thanks for a great afternoon, Lauren! It was so fun to meet you!
Tuesday night was Merle Dandridge’s opening night with our company, as the Lady of the Lake. Merle played the Lady in the Broadway company, so she is no stranger to the role. She is a fantastic singer and has great presence, and her first performance went really well. A group of us gathered after the show at a local bar called Kasey’s to celebrate with her.
On Wednesday, we had two shows, so not much time for anything else. Thursday was all about errands. I ran up to Petco and then to Ritz Camera and to Old Navy. So nice to be in a city where there are all kinds of shops and services at your disposal! I realize that I also took a lot of taxi cab rides while we were in Chicago, mostly because I could! So many cities we have to call for a cab and then wait for a half an hour for it to show up. Not Chicago! Like New York, there are cabs everywhere. Later in the afternoon Ryan and I hauled our laundry over the theater to do our washing. Our hotel in Chicago was very nice, but lacking a few essentials – like fridges in the rooms and laundry facilities in the building. Luckily our wardrobe department are very accommodating, and if you can find time around their work schedules, you can usually get in and use the laundry machines at the theater.
On Friday we had yet another put-in rehearsal, this one for Jeff Dumas, who is returning to the role of Patsy (he originated the role on the tour). It’s great to have Jeff back. He’s a loud, boisterous energy that has been seriously lacking as of the late! He’s also fantastic as Patsy. The put-in was easy as pie, and hopefully we won’t have to do another one for quite some time.
That night a small group of us headed uptown to The Lodge, a bar that the company spent quite a lot of time at the last time the tour played Chicago. It is a small, kitschy bar, still decorated for Christmas! It was a fun group, and nice to hang out in another part of town.
On Saturday we had two shows, followed by Shot Night, hosted by Carissa, one of our lovely ensemble girls. She made a summery rum concoction – something to try and take us away from the cold winter momentarily!
Sunday was an unusual luxury – because we had a matinee on Wednesday, we only had one show! The guys were able to start loading out the show after the matinee – at around 4:30p, and were done by midnight – so they actually were able to sleep before starting the load-in into Detroit the next day. Sunday marked Brad Bradley’s last show with us (our current Patsy). As much as I am glad to see Jeff back, I am sad to see Brad go. He is a really, nice sweet guy, and is one of the original Broadway company members. He has been doing Spamalot for four years! I think it was kind of appropriate that he opened Spamalot in Chicago as part of the pre-Broadway run, and then finished his tenure in Chicago as well. Full circle. Still, he’ll be missed.
I was supposed to spend the evening with Tanya and Michael, but Tanya was sick, so instead I grabbed some dinner at the Elephant and Castle, and then went to a movie. I’m trying to catch up on my movies before the Oscars! It was a shame to not get to see Tanya one more time before leaving town, but nice to have a night off nonetheless.
The next morning I jumped into a rental car with David, our associate company manager, and we sped off towards Detroit, where we will be for the next two weeks. Everyone has been dreading Detroit, but as it was my first stop on the tour, I sort of have an affection for it. We are staying in the same hotel in Troy as we did the last time we were in Detroit, which will be a strange deja vu, but I’m looking forward to it.
So long, Chicago! I had a great two weeks visiting you – hopefully next time we see each other, it will be warmer!