Cleveland Rocks…not really.

Part of me really does not want to write this blog post because I was so pissed off at Cleveland right off the bat. I sort of want to write that the city doesn’t deserve my time writing about it, but that wouldn’t be fair to some of the positive events that happened this week, so I’ll suck it up and type on.

We bussed to Cleveland on Monday from Wilmington. It was a long eight hour bus ride, but I didn’t mind. I never mind the bus. I can read, and knit and watch movies, and all the stress of dealing with overweight bags, airplanes and getting up at the crack of dawn, all goes out the window. Taking the bus may take the whole day, but it is so much less stressful than flying, that I will take it any day.

Bus ride to Cleveland

Bus ride to Cleveland

On the bus

On the bus

Before we arrived in Cleveland, in fact weeks before, I had been hearing stories from different people about how scary Playhouse Square had gotten. Apparently there was a Greyhound Station behind the complex where the theaters are, and a whole string of muggings had taken place there in the past few months. We were all instructed to not walk alone and to try to avoid walking past the bus station. So that was my first introduction to Cleveland.

Playhouse Square

Playhouse Square

We got in late, so I didn’t even leave the hotel on Monday night. I was staying at the Embassy Suites, which had a small shopping center in the basement, which included a small grocery store, so I did some grocery shopping, and laundry, ordered room service and called it a day. The Embassy Suites is in a building comprised of two towers – one is the hotel, the other is an apartment complex, which worked out great, because as a guest at the hotel I was able to use the massive laundry facilities of the apartment complex (like 25 washers and dryers!) and also the apartment complex’s fitness center, which had a big cardio room, a weight room, and a swimming pool. It was great! The hotel rooms were also very big – two room suites with a bedroom and a living area. The rooms were lacking in furniture though. We had all this space and nothing to occupy it! I joked that I could have held a yoga class in my room.

On Tuesday I went to load-in. The Palace Theater, which we were playing for the week, is very large and grandiose in all the front of house areas – the auditorium and the lobby, but small-ish backstage. Nothing compared to the week before in Wilmington, though. We felt like we really were in a palace compared to the DuPont. It was a crunch to get everything in the building and ready for show time, but as usual everything came together at the last minute.

The Palace Theater

The Palace Theater

In the lobby

In the lobby

Tuesday was also Richard Chamberlain’s 75th birthday. Our general managers, Jeff and Wendy, came in to town to help celebrate. We presented Richard with a cake onstage at the curtain call, and everyone (audience included) sang “Happy Birthday” to him. We continued the celebration afterward at the bar at the Wyndam Hotel.

Celebrating Richard's birthday onstage

Celebrating Richard's birthday onstage

On Wednesday, my hate for Cleveland was ignited. Ryan had a work call, so I had the afternoon to myself. I set off for a walk to see what was around. I swear, I could not walk past any man on the street without being catcalled to. It was so uncomfortable that I finally gave up and went back to the hotel. I was so angry that these men thought it was okay to just yell whatever they wanted at me. I found Cincinnati to be much the same way – that the people on the street there just had no regard or respect for others. My experiences in both Cleveland and Cincinnati with this kind of treatment have quickly put Ohio in my book, as the state I dislike the most.

On Thursday, Ryan and I headed over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ryan had been there before, but it was my first visit to Cleveland, so the Hall of Fame was a must-do. We happened to be in town the week of the 2009 Inductions, which was kind of exciting. There were a lot of musicians in town, and lots of events surrounding the ceremony. The Hall of Fame had displays of all this year’s inductees, as well as a ton of other memorabilia. I loved all the stage costumes from musicians like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and Madonna. Janis Joplin’s car was there, and tons and tons of guitars from every famous musician you can imagine. There was a great Bruce Springsteen exhibit (who I love), with dozens and dozens of his personal notepads with song lyrics written in them, and also lots and lots of his personal scrapbooks. I also loved the exhibit in the main hall of different American cities, and the different music styles that have come out of those cities, and my favorite artifact on display was a note that Madonna wrote to a friend while she was in college, about all her aspirations, and wanting to move to New York and be a dancer. She sounded like every other young aspiring actress or dancer that I have ever known. I loved how familiar that note was.

The Hall of Fame was really great – I wish we actually could have spent some more time there, to try and catch some of the films that they were showing as well. I definitely recommend checking the place out if you ever find yourself in Cleveland.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

On Thursday evening, Steven Wenslawski, one of our ensemble men, asked if I could take some photos of him during the show. Steven has been filling in for about the last six months for Lenny, who has been out on medical leave with a back injury. Lenny comes back to the company in Anchorage, so Cleveland was Steven’s last city. I happily obliged, and caught some fun shots of him during the show:

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Before the show that night, kind of spontaneously, a group of us realized that there was an air shaft within the building that many of our office and dressing room windows looked out onto. If we needed someone from one of the other floors, we could just lean out the window and yell for them! It created a funny moment of everyone leaning out their respective windows yelling for everyone else. I wish I had had my wide angle lens with me to really capture how many people were leaning out the windows, but I did catch a few with my 50mm camera lens. It was a funny moment.

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After the show on Thursday night, Richard treated the company to pizza and cocktails at a nice restaurant called Bricco, across the street from the theater. It was such a nice thing for him to do, and he gave a really heartfelt speech about the company. I think he is really going to miss us!

Suzanne at the party

Suzanne at the party

Ken, with our press rep, Anita.

Ken, with our press rep, Anita.

Tera-Lee and Jen

Tera-Lee and Jen

On Friday night, I had a lovely evening out with Lyn, Paula and Callie. We drove over to the Warehouse District, where Paula was renting an apartment, and went to a really cute wine bar. We all ordered flights of wine (I had a flight of sweet whites – my fave!) and had yummy cheese, bruschetta, and ended the night with a dessert called “the chocolate pizza”, which was to die for! It was so nice going out with these girls – we called it “Old Bags Night”, since it was the girls in their thirties! It seriously was so great though to have some girl time – its hard to come by out here. I hope we get a chance to do it again!

On Saturday and Sunday we had the usual two-show days. I started out Sunday on the wrong foot, as I was once again harassed going into, and then coming out of Starbucks by the same man. The second time he started yelling at me from across the street, I just lost it and starting screaming every name in the book at him. I just cannot get over how rude the men are here. Do they really think girls like being catcalled to?? I was so fired up by the time I got to work. Its too bad the whole thing couldn’t have happened around the corner where all the stagehands were doing a box call on the street (unloading empty boxes off the trucks to ready for load-out) – because I would have had ten big dudes on my side immediately if they had seen that go down.

Sunday night was the last performance for Richard, Steven and Callie. It was sad for all of them, Richard especially. I have a feeling we’ll see Steven back around as a vacation cover, and Callie had already gone through a big drawn-out goodbye a year and a half ago when she first left the show, so it was really Richard’s goodbye that was in the spotlight. He obviously was really torn up to be leaving. He is just the sweetest man with such a good soul. He really endeared himself to the company during his time with us and he will be greatly missed.

Merle Dandridge and Richard Chamberlain

Merle Dandridge and Richard Chamberlain

And with that, another chapter closes. We left the east and head west for our final leg of the tour with a new King. We have a week off, and then Anchorage, Alaska!

(As always, all photos published here are copyrighted. Please do not use without permission.)

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2 thoughts on “Cleveland Rocks…not really.

  1. Oh Francesca, I’m so sorry you had to deal with all that crap in Ohio. People really suck sometimes.

    but dang, girl, you got some amazing pics while you were there! I really love the candids of Steven and the last shot of Merle and Richard – such a great capture. It’s sad that he’s leaving!

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