The first view of our hotel in Clearwater set the tone for the week. I should correct that sentence – it was most definitely a motel, not a hotel. The Best Western Grand Hotel and Suites. Yeah, there was nothing grand about it. It was the first (and hopefully only) motel with outside doors that I have ever stayed at on tour. When you don’t even have indoor hallways, you know you are in trouble. And no elevator. It was really ghetto. Mold around the windows, food crumbs on the floor. Just gross. So, to go along with those accommodations, it just became a week of living like white trash. Yep, we embraced our inner trash.

The Bates Motel, aka the Best Western

The theater in Clearwater, thankfully, is big and modern, so the load-in was very easy. It was the first load-in without Ken. He is definitely missed. Its weird without him. We are all  definitely going through a period of adjustment – he was such a big presence. Anyway, to liven things up, the technical director of the building was happy to point out the pond behind the parking lot, where two alligators were sunning on the banks! I’ve seen alligators before down in the Everglades, but never in the parking lot at work!

Alligator at Ruth Eckerd Hall!

In addition to alligators in the parking lot, Casey, who plays Regina, called out sick, so Holly was on for the first time in that role. She did great! We had an opening night party at the theater following the show that was pretty fun and actually had really good food, and then the fun continued at a dive bar near the hotel after that. It was karaoke night, which is often really annoying, but the bar was pretty empty, so it was mainly our group who were getting up on the microphone. It was a really fun time (and Holly’s drunk dad was pretty entertaining too!).

Holly as Regina

Opening night party

Travis, at karaoke.

Sean and Nick at the mic

The next day at work we had another debut in an understudy role – Sean went on as Hertz for the first time. I love Sean to death, but the dude will never look as neat and put together as he did when he went on as Hertz. It was kind of hilarious. He did a great job, especially since he had had very little rehearsal in that role.

Sean as Hertz, with Rashad and Casey

After the show, Tami, our hair supervisor, hosted a white trash party at the hotel. There was a pavilion out the back of our building where we all got together for cheap beer and cheese balls. It was surprisingly cold for Florida, and foggy, so it felt like we were out on the bayou or something – it was actually kind of creepy, would have been a great night for a Halloween party!

White trash party

Joey, in costume at the white trash party.

The next night, a group of us (in going along with the white trash theme of the week) decided to go to the original Hooters (yes, the original Hooters is in Clearwater). But we arrived there after the show to find it closed (lame, Hooters!). So we did the next best thing and drove to O’Boobigans, the Hooters- meets-Irish pub that I went to the last time I played Clearwater with “Spamalot”. It ended up being such a good time! It was empty, so we had the whole place to ourselves, the food was good, pool tables were open – it was great! A bunch of the cast ended up showing up after a while, and soon enough, all of O’Boobigans was overrun with “Rock of Ages” peeps 🙂


Eric playing pool


The next day was rainy and dreary, but since this was the last day I would be in semi-warm weather for a while, I had to go to the beach. Eric and I drove over to Clearwater Beach and had lunch at a place on the water. Probably the last time eating peel and eat shrimp for a while! It was definitely worth the drive, and worth braving the rain.

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater beach

Clearwater beach

On Saturday between shows, I finally did get over to the original Hooters with some of the crew, and it sucked! Generally I like the chicken wings at Hooters, but these were terrible – had no sauce! And the service was awful  – we were there an hour before our food came, and at that point we had to get it to go since we had to get back to work. Shame on you, original Hooters! I never need to go there again.

The crowds who came to see the show in Clearwater were some of the craziest we have had. Michael and I spent most of the week out in the house, taking away cameras and having people thrown out. For some reason, our show attracts a lot of people who don’t normally go to the theater. Mix that with a lot of booze (all of the theaters serve drinks and allow them into the theater) and you end up with really rowdy houses. Clearwater was particularly bad. So much so, that I was starting to get afraid that I would reprimand the wrong person and get hit in the face. Let’s hope that never happens. I have to say, I was pretty happy to see the week there come to an end.

On Sunday, we closed the show, and then I took off as soon as the show came down, driving to Ocala, FL. for the night. I had a 900 mile drive ahead of me to Louisville, KY. so getting a bit of a head start on Sunday night was a big help. Since I now do the packing of the office on Sunday nights during the show, Tallulah came into work with me. She was very well behaved 🙂

So our week in Clearwater actually ended up being pretty fun. But it was time to say goodbye to Florida and head back to colder temps. Off to Kentucky!


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