Blog moving to a new virtual home!

Just a quick note to say that I’ve decided to wrap things up here at “Just Traveling Through”. I contemplated starting a new space when I finished touring, but with Lila’s birth, it just got lost in the shuffle. I’ve finally found some time to create a new site that integrates my photography in a better way. My blog will be hosted as part of my new website – www.francescarussell.com. I hope you join me over there! The link to my blog on the new site is http://www.francescarussell.com/blog/. Update your bookmarks! Thank you for being a reader and hope to see you at the new site!

Change

Lots of changes are on the horizon. First of all, my big news is that I am going back on the road again! I was hired to be the first assistant stage manager on the national tour of “Rock of Ages”. Ken, my PSM from “Spamalot” is going to be PSM and the director of the show is Kristin Hanggi, who directed the production of “Bare” that I worked on off-Broadway in 2004. We go into rehearsals in New York in August, tech in New Haven, and then open in Chicago in September. I am really excited, and even more so, because I have decided to drive this tour – which means I am buying a car next month. Yikes! It will be so great to see the country again and get a chance to catch up with friends and family in the towns we play.

My sister’s baby is due any minute now, and I am so excited to meet my niece! We have a week off at Christmastime and I am hoping to fly back to Sunnyvale then to see my family and meet Baby Parker for the first time. We are also playing San Francisco for five weeks in the spring, so I will get even more time with my family then.

Tallulah seems to be hanging in there. Its been a rough few months. I wrote about her FIV status in the last post, and its been a struggle keeping her healthy. Her white cells are just so low, and she doesn’t have an appetite. We are on our third vet now, Dr. Elliott, and luckily, we both really love her. Dr. Elliott practices holistic medicine as well as traditional medicine, so we have been able to try a lot more treatments – from cold laser therapy to chiropractic, to homeopathy. Unfortunately about three weeks ago, Tallulah really took a turn for the worse, and Dr. Elliott told me it was getting near the end. I was preparing to lose my baby within that week. We stopped all treatments, including vitamins and antibiotics, and I gave Tallulah just food, and some anti-nausea medicine. Miraculously, she got better. She still has days when she doesn’t want to eat, but her appetite has greatly improved, and her blood test last week showed that her white cell production has gone up. Dr. Elliott seems to think Tallulah will be okay to hit the road again in the fall – we’ll probably just have to find vets around the country where I can take her in and get a vitamin B shot every now and then. I am hoping that she hangs in there and that I have a lot more time with her!

So, faced with the fact that Tallulah won’t be with me forever, and with this new tour coming up, it really feels like a good time to close the doors on “Travels with Tallulah”. I want to keep blogging, and maybe integrate my photography some more, but I really feel like its time for a change. Time for a new space with a new name. The start of a new chapter. A more all-encompassing blog, my corner of the internet to post what I please. So, after today, I will be blogging here at https://justtravelingthru.wordpress.com/ – my new blog. “Travels with Tallulah” will still be there to look back on, and I have also imported all the old blog posts over here to the new blog, so please update your feeds and links! I am hoping to get back to a more regular blogging schedule — I have really missed it. And I am looking forward to sharing my “Rock of Ages” adventures with you.

One last piece of news – I am currently working on “Everyday Rapture” – a wonderful Broadway show at the American Airlines Theater. We are running for four more weeks, so if you can, please come out and see the show – its a really worthwhile piece of theater.

Hope you are all enjoying the early summer!

Cross-Country Road Trip, Week 2.

Day 8:  St. Paul, MN to Sobieski, WI.

It was an easy drive on Monday to Sobieski, where Ryan lives. Of course, I HAD to stop on the way in Wassau, WI. for a soft-serve cone from Briq’s. I discovered this place a couple of years ago driving to Ryan’s, and I just love their soft serve. It is the perfect balance between creamy and icy. Yum!

I arrived at Ryan’s early in the afternoon and we hung out around the house for the afternoon. All the improvements that Ryan has made on the place since he came home in April are fantastic. The house is looking really great, and he had just gotten a bunch of new furniture the week before, which really made the house feel like a home. Unfortunately it was dark and kind of dreary weather all week, which made the house interior really dark, so I didn’t really get any good pictures of the inside.

That night, we had dinner in downtown Green Bay at a restaurant called Cafe Espresso, which is one of Ryan’s favorites. I had to laugh because it seemed like everywhere we went over the next couple of days, starting with Cafe Espresso, Ryan knew someone. I asked him,  “do you know everyone in Green Bay?” Hilarious.

Day 9: Sobieski, WI.

On Tuesday we went for a walk at Baird’s Creek – a wooded park in Green Bay that has skiing hills, a frisbee golf course, bike paths and hiking trails. It was so pretty there – it had rained, so everything was wet and lush. It was so nice to see all the beautiful fall leaves.

Before we left the house, we made an Irish stew and put in the slow cooker, so when we got home that night, we had a delicious dinner waiting for us. Yum!

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Day 10: Sobieski, WI.

On Wednesday I took Tallulah for a “kitty hike” around Ryan’s property. He has about six acres of land around his house, so there is quite a bit to explore. Tallulah did so well! I had her on harness and leash, and she actually walked and responded to the leash tugs and led the way! We were out for about a half an hour.

In the afternoon Ryan and I went to a couple of yarn stores! I bought some yarn for a sweater in one of them. We also did some shopping at Kohl’s, where I bought a slow cooker on sale. I really don’t like to cook at all, but I think the slow cooker might be a good way for me to go – throw everything in in the morning and then you come home to dinner! We’ll see how it goes.

That night we got together with a group of Ryan’s friends – Neil and Tara, Kris and Steph, Dan and Rick. We had drinks and dinner at a local bar – it was two-for-one perch plates, and they were super good! It was really fun meeting all of Ryan’s friends – they all seem like really nice people.

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Tallulah on a kitty hike

Day 11: Sobieski, WI.

On Thursday, we met up for lunch with Ryan’s dad and sister, Renee, and her two kids. We went to a yummy Mexican place and had a nice time catching up.

After that Ryan and I did a little shopping – I went and looked at some furniture and we went back to Kohl’s to pick up some more things for Ryan’s house.

That night we had dinner at Jake’s Pizza, Ryan’s favorite pizza place. It wasn’t as good as Cicero’s – but it was definitely a close second – really yummy crust. I was glad that we had leftovers so I could enjoy it for lunch the next day as well!

We went home and watched a movie and lit a fire. We actually had fires every night in the fireplace – so nice!

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The view from Ryan's living room - he lives in the country!

Day 12: Sobieski, WI. to Chicago, IL.

It was with great reluctance that Tallulah and I left Ryan’s house on Friday. I had such a nice few days there in his cozy house. Hopefully I’ll get back there soon.

I drove on to Chicago, which took longer than it should have, thanks to traffic. I checked into the Hotel Indigo in the afternoon, and met up with my friend Kevin, who used to be in “Spamalot”, for coffee. Kevin is currently in “Jersey Boys” in Chicago. It was so nice to see him and catch up. We’ve kept in touch through email, but I hadn’t seen him in person in about two years. We had a nice visit before Kevin had to leave for his show, and I went to meet up with friends for dinner.

Carolyn and Lauren are both friends that I got to know through Flickr, an online photography website. I met up with Lauren the last time I was in Chicago, but this was my first time meeting Carolyn. We met at Carolyn’s apartment in Belmont and made pizza and sat around and knit. It was so fun! Lauren and Carolyn’s friend Sara also came over and we just had the best time chatting and knitting and drinking beer. I’m so glad I was able to get together with those girls while I was in town.

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Lauren

Carolyn, looking hilarious with her in-progress knit hat on her head

Carolyn, wearing her in-progress knit hat

Day 13: Chicago, IL. to West Middlesex, PA.

Nothing much to report for Saturday. I got up and drove to Pennsylvania. I saw cornfields. I had dinner at Red Lobster. I went to bed. The end.

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Day 14: West Middlesex, PA. to New York, NY.

I could not get to New York fast enough on Sunday! By then I was completely sick of driving. It was actually a beautiful drive through all of Pennsylvania, through the Poconos, but I just wanted to get there! My leg and foot were falling asleep by the afternoon. Finally, finally, I reached the George Washington Bridge! And of course, traffic ground to halt. I discovered that Sunday was NYC marathon, so lots of streets were closed off, making for traffic jams around the island. It took a while to figure out how to get to my sublet with all the street closures, but I finally did – and then had to carry all my stuff up four flights of steps. Argh! A rude awakening back to New York City living!

Seriously though, it was great driving across the bridge and into the city. I always get such a rush when I see the Manhattan skyline. It is such an awesome, awesome place to live. I’m really happy to be back.

My apartment in Harlem is great – cute and charming and comfortable, with a fantastic roof deck with a “West Side Story”-esque view of all the surrounding rooftops. I love it. I am here for a month, and then hopefully I’ll be moving in to my own place!

And – I’m actually going back to work next week! Only for a week though, which is good, because I really do need to focus on looking for a place to live. When my friend Phyllis emailed me (she and I did “BARE” in 2004) and asked if I wanted to do a reading with her of a new musical, directed by Kristin Hanggi (who directed “BARE” and also was nominated for a Tony for “Rock of Ages”), I couldn’t say no – I had such a  great time working with the two of them on “BARE” – and it will be a nice way to get back in to the swing of things in New York. I’m looking forward to it.

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So, there probably won’t be many “travels” with Tallulah any time soon, but I’m sure there will be stories, so I think I am going to continue this blog to keep at least my parents apprised of what I’m doing (does anyone else read this???). I thought about changing the name of the blog, but I like how “Travels with Tallulah” rolls off the tongue, and plus everyone knows it as that name, so its probably easier to keep it. And… I kind of think leaving it as “Travels with Tallulah” is kind of like positive thinking – hoping and willing that there will be more travels in the future!

But for now, I am more than content to unpack my suitcases for a while and put them away! New York City, I’ve missed you!

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On the rooftop in Harlem

Travels with Tallulah – New and Improved!

Welcome to the new and improved blog! As much as I enjoyed working with iweb when I first started this website, over time issues began coming up that in the end pushed me to move to a different blogging software – WordPress. Hopefully the pages and photos will load much faster and more easily for you here. With iweb only those viewing with Safari were getting the right formatting, here you should all be viewing the same layout. Also my comments on iweb stopped working after a while, hopefully here you should be able to comment without issue. I’d love to hear from you! It should also be easier to subscribe here, and to add me to your Bloglines accounts.

Best of all, for me, is that formatting and publishing is so much quicker with WordPress, so hopefully this will encourage me to post more often!

I have become more and more involved with Flickr over the last year, and WordPress has a great interface with Flickr. Instead of having to load my photos twice – to Flickr, and iweb, now everything can be found on my Flickr page. You can click through to Flickr under the “Photography” link in the side bar. All my photos are in collections and sets, so if you are looking for the Spamalot Tour, click on that collection, and then on the set you want to view. My sets for that collection are split up by city.

As always, if you want to use any of my photos, please ask permission, and also attribute photo credit when posting. Thank you!

Hope you enjoy the new blog – and please, please comment to let me know what improvements I should make.

xxF

p.s. I know I owe you an entry on Toronto – look for that soon!

Goodbye to Florida

So as for the blog, I’m going to continue writing and publishing it without a password for now, and see how it goes. I hate to exclude anyone, and would like to keep it open and available. For me, I will try to be as truthful and candid as I can be about my experiences, within reason, and will attempt to give personal journaling another try, so that I have a completely candid account of this experience. It will be a good exercise for me to do some more writing – and if I feel like I have written anything that I want to share with anyone, I can always email it out.

Moving on.

So, we come to the end of our six weeks in Florida. Orlando ended up being a sort of restful stop. I didn’t try to go to any amusement parks – I went to Disneyworld last year when we were in Tampa, and I feel like I’ve had my fill for a while.

Load-in went smoothly – it’s taking less and less time for the guys to get the show in, which is great because it means more rest for them. They were able to cut out on Monday before 9:30pm and on Tuesday they were done by lunchtime and had the afternoon to rest before the show that evening.

We had our load-in lunch at a restaurant called City Fish near Lake Eola, which is the area where Ken was staying. I had a delicious lobster roll and dreamt about it all week until I returned yesterday with Ryan and had another!

On Wednesday I splurged and went to the Aveda salon to get my hair colored and cut. I’ve only had my hair professionally colored once and that was in 1997 – it had gotten so bleached from the sun, and from coloring it myself, that it needed some help. Cara, my stylist, did lowlights and used my current color as highlights. It looks great – I’m really happy with it, and she gave me the magic formula so that I can go to any Aveda salon and have it replicated.

Thursday was another easy-going day – I walked around the cute shopping area of Winter Park, and got a pedicure.

Friday was Julie Barnes’ going away party. Julie is one of my faves in the cast. She’s English, first of all, and just has a great sense of humor and is so down-to-earth. I’ll really miss having her around. Her party was at a tiki bar in downtown Orlando, which was a bit overrun with crazy spring breakers, but we staked out an area on the outdoor patio and pretty much had it for ourselves. It was a really fun night with too many fruity drinks, and shots courtesy of Tony Pittsley.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Tim

Tim

Tony with a tray of shots

Tony with a tray of shots

Adam and Julie

Adam and Julie

Julie and Jenn

Julie and Jenn

Nigel and Angelina

Nigel and Angelina

Saturday was a day of recovery for most of the company, stumbling through two shows. 

Sunday was a big day at Spamalot, for we began THE BATTLE OF THE BEARDS! Terry Thomas, our interim prop guy (Vera leaves this week for a two month leave of absence), has quite a substantial beard – I wish I had a photo to share, but I don’t. His facial hair inspired Ken to start a competition between all the guys on the crew, to see who could grow the most facial hair in a month. Everyone had to come in clean shaven on Sunday and the growing begins on Monday. I have never seen Ryan without a beard, and this is what greeted me on Sunday morning at work:

Pretty funny, right?? 

Especially when this is what I am used to:

Let the battle begin!

Sunday was also Julie’s last day – there were usual shenanigans during the show including rubber chickens instead of bread loaves, a solo tap cross, a fart machine, and a few others. Julie got stickers printed for everyone to put on our trunks that say “Julie bailed on us in Orlando” – very cute. We will miss her so! Why do all the good people have to leave???

And now on to Birmingham, Alabama. I’m ready for a change of pace from Florida. If nothing else, I am ready to leave all the traffic behind! It’s worse than LA here! Tallulah and I are road tripping it to Alabama. It’s a nine hour drive, but I got an amazing car rental rate ($8 a day – no joke!) and I’d rather drive than deal with flying and airports. I’m kind of looking forward to nine hours of music and podcasts. Speaking of music and podcasts – I discovered a very cool new musician this week through one of the podcasts I listen to – her name is Cassandra Kubinski and she is a New York City-based singer. If you like Regina Spektor, singer/songwriter-type of music, check her out – I am loving her CD, Hold the Sun. Here’s her website if you want to check her out – http://www.ckubinski.com/ You can find her albums on iTunes.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Thoughts on Blogging

I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. I think it’s partially because we’ve been so busy at work, with rehearsals and a photo call, so there hasn’t been much to write about.

I’ve also been feeling a little down. Really missing my girlfriends. Not just the ones in New York and California and Albuquerque, but the ones who have left the tour. I’m feeling a bit like the lone girl in a sea of men! Which isn’t bad, I actually really enjoy working with guys, but sometimes it’s nice to have some girl time. At least Elaine comes to sub in Minneapolis, which isn’t too far off.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my blog this week and whether or not I should continue to keep it totally public. My friend Fran, who also has a blog about touring, was misquoted last week on a show biz website by some stranger who had been reading her blog – subsequently she has decided to discontinue her site, as it has clearly gotten into the wrong hands, and has gotten away from being what she had intended it to be – a newsletter of sorts for friends. 

After I found out about that, I started thinking about this blog. I certainly don’t have as many readers as Fran, but it is a little weird not knowing who exactly is reading this. I started this blog primarily as a diary for myself – back in the age of film cameras, I used to scrapbook everything. Now with everything being digital, I thought a blog would be a good way to document everything. And with it being online, it would be easy to share photos with family and friends, and they could keep up with me and my whereabouts. As more and more people have found out about the site, it has become increasingly harder to be really candid about life and work on the road. So “Travels with Tallulah” has become more of an event diary, with not as much opinion or commentary, which is fine. But I wonder when I look back at it years from now, will I wish I had been able to keep a more detailed account of what actually happened? Sure I could keep a private diary, but its hard enough to keep up with doing a blog post every week, let alone journalling as well.

So I’m thinking about making the site password protected, and allowing access only to those who I originally intended to share it with – close family and friends. I don’t like to exclude people, but I’m not sure it’s serving the purpose I intended it to anymore. I’m still not totally sold on the idea yet, mostly because of my crafting content – I like for other knitters to be able to access my projects, but I may have to sacrifice that. What happened with Fran’s blog really made me think. And it would be really nice to be able to just freely write whatever I am thinking and feeling, without having to worry about ramifications.

What do you think? Comments? Opinions? Let me know.

So – as for the travel diary part of the blog – like I said, not much doin’ the past two weeks. We did have a photo call in West Palm Beach, and I got some really good shots from backstage.

We also said goodbye to another of the original company members – our drummer, Lee. Lee is a really cool, mellow guy, and one kick-ass drummer. He will definitely be missed. We did him right by sending him off with a party at a bar called O’Boobigans, a mix between Hooters and an Irish pub, in Clearwater, Florida. 

This week in Orlando winds up our six-week Florida trek. It’s been nice to be in shorts and t-shirts in February and March, and fantastic to be near the ocean again, but I’m ready for a change of scenery.

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter!  xxx

Freedom of Speech

Just a few frustrated words. I started this blog as a way to share photos and stories with a few close family and friends while I was away on tour. I don’t know who is reading it now or how the address got out – but if you don’t like what I write about or the pictures I post, then stop visiting the blog. ‘Nuff said. I’m tired of being asked to censor myself.

F