in love with film

I just got back a roll of black and white film that I shot on my Yashica FX-2 in Seattle, LA and on my cross-country road trip. I’m so in love with some of the shots, I had to share. I may never shoot digital again.

Restaurant, Santa Fe.

Snowy benches, Santa Fe.

Bar, Seattle.

Rest stop, Arizona.

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles.

Wig shop, Seattle.

Snowy trees, Texas.

Seats, Paramount Theater, Seattle.

Rest Stop, New Mexico.

Ferry, Seattle.

I-40, Mojave Desert.

Still life, New Mexico.

Revisiting Film

I’ve gotten so used to shooting digitally that sometimes its nice to go back to good old fashioned film. With film you actually have to think about what you’re doing, making sure your exposure is right, and composing the photo just so. With film you only have one chance to get it right. There’s no erase and do over. I’m still a total beginner when it comes to film, but I’m enjoying the challenge. The following photos are from a roll I just got back, shot in my neighborhood in New York, with a Nikon n80.

Catching Up

Well, its been a whirlwind few weeks with lots of ups and downs, and I can’t believe I’m only writing now! I have to be better about keeping up with my blog.

First off, work. “All About Me” opened, and then it closed. Ah, they can’t all be winners. It was definitely a challenging production period to be a part of – from starting with no script, to putting together a fully formed show in just four short weeks. I don’t really know why the finished product never caught on – it was definitely an enjoyable night in the theater – maybe it just wasn’t marketed well, who knows? At any rate, we did four weeks of previews, and two weeks of regular performances, and then closed on Easter Sunday.

Dame Edna and Michael Feinstein in "All About Me"

Opening night was a lot of fun – my best friend Michele came into town from Belgium for it. I hadn’t seen her since her wedding in 2005, so it was lovely to have her here. She was an ASM for Dame Edna on the Dame’s first Broadway show, so it was a reunion of sorts. Our friend Ruth, who has also worked with Dame Edna, came into town for the weekend, too. It was really nice having lots of old friends around. And of course Ryan also came into town for about ten days to celebrate and hang out with everyone.

Ruth and Michele

Michele, Ruth and I with Barry Humphries (Dame Edna)

Me and Ryan

Now that all is said and done, despite the fact that I would love to be getting a paycheck right now, and there were some great people working on “All About Me”, I am sort of relieved that I don’t have to go into work there anymore. The rehearsal process was very challenging, but the run of the show was not at all, and I think I would have been extremely bored in the long run. There also were a couple of not-so-nice people working on the show, and I’m sort of glad to not have to see them everyday now – I’m not gonna lie! I am very thankful to have gotten the opportunity to work with Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) though. He was nothing but lovely and kept all of us in stitches every day. It was wonderful working with him.

Ah well, I guess you win some, you lose some. That’s the nature of show business. And its kind of funny to have worked on at least one big Broadway flop! (Let’s just hope its my last!)

Me with Dame Edna

As far as work upcoming – nothing so far, but I’ve got some feelers out. I’m really hoping for another tour. Fingers crossed that something works out.

Another reason that I am happy to have some time for myself right now, is that the week the show opened, I noticed that Tallulah hadn’t been eating as much as normal, so I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with FIV – feline AIDS. It turns out that she probably has had it her whole life (her brother died of it, but we assumed he had contracted it from a stray that Andrea had taken in). Cats can live long lives with FIV if they stay healthy. Unfortunately Tallulah’s white blood cell count was dangerously low when I took her in to the vet, and her liver was showing signs of fatty liver disease, because she hadn’t been eating.

To make a long story short, I am now taking her to another vet – a cat specialist (who I am not entirely happy with, I am still searching for a vet who also does holistic practice as well as regular western medicine). Tallulah has been on antibiotics for about a month now, which have brought her fever down to normal and are warding off infection. I have done a bit of my own research and have started Tallulah on a serious vitamin regimen. It seems to be working – she seems much peppier, her coat is shinier – she seems like her same old self, except that she is still not eating much. I am also trying to make sure she gets fresh air and sunshine.

The food thing is rather frustrating. I am feeding her about a can of food a day through a syringe to make sure she gets the nutrients that she needs. The last set of blood tests said that her liver had recovered, so I just want to make sure that it stays that way. She is probably nibbling about a half a can of food herself, and grazing the dry food as well. I have given her every kind of food imaginable – from every brand of cat food, to chicken, tuna, tuna juice, chicken broth, eggs, milk, baby food, you name it. Its very frustrating not knowing what to give her. She takes the food I give her in the syringe just fine – no spitting out or vomiting. And she comes to the kitchen when I am getting her food ready, but then when I put it out, she sniffs it and leaves. I hope eventually we figure it all out.

As far as the vitamins go, I am currently giving her the following twice a day (in food): immune support formula (from Only Natural Pet), bone meal, calcium, echinacea, and brewer’s yeast/garlic. Soon I will be adding a multi-vitamin, vitamin C and probiotic (waiting for those to come in the mail). I am keeping my fingers crossed that the next time we go to the vet, Tallulah’s white cells are up so I can get her off those antibiotics.

If anyone else has an FIV cat and you have suggestions of ways to help keep my cat healthy, I would welcome them! Also, anyone with a cat who is a finicky eater – any suggestions would also be appreciated as to how to get my cat to eat again!

My parents came for a visit last week. It was great to see them – and although they arrived too late to see my show, being unemployed was actually a good thing, because I was able to spend more time with them. We went to the New York Botanical Gardens, Central Park and on the Circle Line cruise. I also brought them up to my neighborhood for brunch at New Leaf Cafe, a walk through Fort Tryon Park and a visit to the Cloisters. We also went down to Hudson River Park and walked underneath the George Washington Bridge. It was a really wonderful few days with them.

Dad

Mom

At the Botanical Gardens

Going under the George Washington Bridge on the Circle Line cruise

As far as crafts go, I’ve been totally focused on baby knits. I made a sweater for my friend Carrie’s baby, a blanket for Fin’s baby Evan, and a sweater for my sister’s soon to be daughter. I’m currently working on a blanket, also for my soon-to-be niece. I think I am going to break out the sewing machine today to work on another Clothkits skirt for me. Its been a while since I’ve used my machine – but springtime calls for sewing!

Blanket for Evan

Sweater for baby niece

I’ve had time to get out and do some photography as of late, as well. I also splurged with some of my tax return money and bought a few new toys – a 35mm lens for my Nikon DSLR and a new digital rangefinder camera – the Olympus e-p2, which I am loving. It is so much fun and takes fantastic photos.

F

Fort Tryon Park

Overlook at Fort Tryon

Me at Fort Tryon Park

The mall in Central Park

Outside St. John the Divine

That’s about all for now – keep your fingers crossed that I get a job soon!

Happy Spring!

Spending time in San Francisco

It has been a busy couple of weeks here in San Francisco. Mostly I have been trying to see people and catch up with old friends. I’ve been trying to layer that in with time for myself, and – oh yeah, work! But its been a challenge! I have definitely been feeling a bit burnt out the last couple of days, but I wouldn’t trade being here for anything.

I had the unfortunate experience of being pick-pocketed last week. I was on Haight Street, and someone snagged my iPhone out of my bag. That was a big drag. Partially because I had just replaced my phone a couple of weeks ago when we returned from Alaska, and partially (well mostly) because it ruined my day off, having to go downtown to AT&T and deal with it. My lousy afternoon was remedied though by dinner at Donna Rose’s house. Donna is a former stage manager who I worked with many times at ACT. I just love her to death. She hosted dinner for myself, Elisa (another stage manager from ACT) and Gregory (an ACT company actor) at her place in Pleasant Hill. It was such a lovely evening – catching up on all the ACT news, and hanging with old friends.

The next day, I attempted to do what I had set out to do the day before (before the whole phone snatching debacle) – go to Golden Gate Park and take some photos – and this time, with a close eye on my iPhone, I had better luck. I walked around for a couple of hours snapping shots. It was really nice out and it was fun to see how the park has changed (the newly remodeled Academy of Sciences looks amazing), and what has remained the same.

DSC_0015

DSC_0045

DSC_0068

We have been on the “Broadway schedule” here in San Francisco, which means two shows on Wednesday, and only one on Sunday. While two on Wednesday kind of feels like a drag while we are doing them, having only one on Sunday is amazing. It really feels like we do get a proper weekend, having Sunday evening free. The week does go by quickly though with the two shows on Wednesday, and last week we also had an understudy rehearsal thrown in on Thursday. To make the most of the week, and so that it didn’t feel like every waking moment was being taken up by work, I made myself get out of the house early on Thursday and headed over to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Originally I planned to go the SFMoma to catch the Georgia O’Keefe/Ansel Adams exhibit which I had seen previously in Santa Fe and just loved. When I arrived though, I realized there was another fantastic photography exhibit there as well – Robert Frank’s “The Americans”. “The Americans” is a collection of photographs that Frank took in the 1950’s as he traveled around the country, observing American life. They are a truly fantastic collection of candids. I’m so happy that I was able to see the exhibit, because it was really inspiring. If you are in the Bay Area, try and see it while it is here!

At the SFMoma

At the SFMoma

Walking by the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Walking by the Contemporary Jewish Museum

After understudy rehearsal, I had my first sewing class! Roy, one of our wardrobe supervisors, agreed to teach me and Suzanne (one of our hair supervisors) how to sew. We are having a blast. First Roy taught us all about the machines and the different things they can do. Then we practiced stitching on scraps of fabric. And then, we each made a pencil case – with a zipper! We are currently working on tote bags, and then we are moving on to garments (I am making a top, and Suzanne is making a sundress). I’m starting to look at sewing machines. Suggestions for a good beginner machine, anyone??

My handmade pencil case!

My handmade pencil case!

After the show that night, I went over to Lyn and Chris’s place (two of the actors from the show) for drinks with Lyn. It was really nice hanging out with her. I love Lyn a lot – she makes me laugh. She is definitely one of the people I have connected with most on the show. We had a really great time. It was funny being back at the Steinhart, too – the apartment building Lyn and Chris are staying in – its where I stayed when I came back to do “A Christmas Carol” at ACT in 2002. It seems like forever ago.

On Friday, I had lunch with Katherine, one of my closest friends from college, and then did some shopping at Britex Fabrics for all my sewing projects.

That night at work I was ecstatic to find that my Duaflex camera had arrived! I ordered the old Duaflex from ebay to use to take “Through the Viewfinder” (TtV) photos. Basically you build a “contraption” around the Duaflex to block the light, and then you use your digital camera to photograph the image on the Duaflex’s viewfinder. You end up with some really cool grainy images. I’m having a blast playing with it.

My Duaflex

My Duaflex

The "contraption"

The "contraption"

TtV - Chinatown

TtV - Chinatown

TtV - Subway

TtV - Subway

On Saturday, my voice teacher from high school, Sandie, came to the matinee along with Kathie, the mother of three boys who I used to do theater with in high school. My friend Carrie and her husband Patrick were also at the show, and I gave everyone a tour afterward. I then had lunch with Sandie and Kathie and caught up on what all the kids who I used to do junior theater with were doing. It was so great seeing both of them and I’m looking forward to trying to connect with some of Kathie’s boys when we get to LA (where two of them live).

On Sunday, we had the luxurious one-show day and then I headed over to North Beach to meet up with Fin, Mary, Erika and Tristin for dinner to celebrate Fin’s birthday. I was so excited to finally be in town for a get together, and to not be working, no less! We had a yummy meal at Mona Lisa, and then walked down to the wharf and around Pier 39. It was a double celebration of sorts, as it was not only Fin’s birthday, but she is also expecting her first baby! So exciting.

Mary and Fin

Mary and Fin

I knew that my next couple of Mondays off were going to be busy, so I made it a point to spend this past Monday and Tuesday just doing stuff around the house, like cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping. Ryan was planning on arriving in town on Friday so I wanted to make sure everything was ready for him. I also wanted to spend some time working on some of my projects – like getting my Duaflex contraption made and cutting out the pattern for my tote bag (my homework for sewing class!). It was a very productive couple of days – and it was really nice to just check some things off my list of “to dos”.

On Wednesday, we again had two shows. Thursday I went downtown at noon and met up with Katherine and Monique, my roommate from college, who I hadn’t seen for nine years! Monique was in town for a few days with her daughter Amelia for a mother/daughter trip. It was so great to see her – it was like no time had passed (except that she now has an eight-year-old daughter and two sons!). We had such a nice time catching up. We ate lunch at Lori’s Diner, a 50’s style restaurant on Powell Street. Amelia was a hoot, too – the spitting image of her mom. Sassy and funny and smart. Definitely her mother’s daughter. I really hope it is not another nine years before I see Monique again. I love her so much!

Amelia

Amelia

Me and Monique

Me and Monique

In the afternoon, after splitting off from Monique, Amelia and Katherine, I went over to North Beach to do some scouting for a pub crawl that I am putting together for next week. And then, I went in early to the theater for sewing class #2! We started putting together our tote bags. We didn’t quite finish before our show call, though, so you’ll have to wait until next week for photos of our finished products.

And then on Friday I did a big shopping run in the morning for supplies for the BBQ I am throwing on Sunday for all my Bay Area friends – and in the afternoon, Ryan arrived! He had spent the previous four and a half days riding his motorcycle to San Francisco from Green Bay. I was so, so happy to see him. The next two weeks will be all about adventures with him. I have missed him so!

DSC_0023

Chicago, Week One.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Chicago. I had been here a couple of times before en route from California to New York, or vice versa, but never longer than a couple of hours. My limited experience with the city was pretty much confined to the blocks surrounding the train station, and the restaurant, Italian Village, which for some reason is where I have always eaten while I’ve been stopping through town. I was just happy we were leaving Peoria and heading back to a big city. I was craving good restaurants and good shopping.

We took the bus from Peoria directly after the Sunday matinee and drove three hours to Chicago. It was nighttime by the time we arrived, and after getting settled into our hotel, I only really wanted to get some dinner, and then spend the rest of the night in the hotel, getting rested up for an actual day off the next day.

On Monday, the crew began load-in at the Auditorium Theater, but the rest of the company enjoyed a day free of work and travel! I had a number of items that I needed to pick up, and so I started my long day of shopping. I first went to Ritz Camera and ordered a new Lensbaby – Ken had given me some gift cards for Christmas, and they needed to be spent! Then I headed up Michigan Ave to the Magnificent Mile. Oh how I had missed good shopping! I went to Sephora, Nordstrom, Macy’s, the Apple Store…it was so nice. I picked up all the things I needed and managed to control myself from buying anything frivolous on top of that.

The frozen river

The frozen river

I had a really nice time walking around town – it was freezing cold out, but I was just so happy to be back in a real city that I didn’t care! I recognized Union Station from my many train rides across the country, and the river, which runs close to the train station. It was also so awesome to be in Chicago just in time for Obama’s inauguration. Obviously the city is uber-proud of their former senator, and the banners all along the streets illustrated just that.

dsc_0002

After a long day of shopping, I went out for Indian food for dinner, and ended up talking to Tanya for about an hour on the phone while eating. Tanya is in Chicago, as well, rehearsing “Mary Poppins”, which starts its national tour here. Tanya is one of the stage managers for it.

Our load-in into the Auditorium went pretty well. The loading dock only allowed for one truck at a time, which can be slow-going, but all the stagehands are so good here in Chicago, that they made up for the lost time. My biggest challenge during load-in was all the directional signage. There are so many fire doors in the basement of the theater, its insane. You have to go through seven doors to get from stage left to our office. It took me FOREVER to do signage this week, having to clearly label each door and each route. I was bummed about it, too, because of course Tuesday was the inauguration, and I didn’t want to miss it while I was posting signs. Ken made us all take a break, though, and go back to the hotel to watch the proceedings on TV. He said it was more important than load-in. I think he was right about that.

img_36281

Mr. President

I watched the inauguration in my room at the hotel with Tallulah. It was a very happy, but emotional event to watch. I am just so hopeful for the future now, and so excited about what is to come. I’m so grateful to Ken for making sure that we were able to witness this history!

Tuesday night was Richard’s first performance with the company. He did really well, and the audience loved him. Our general manager was in town, so we all went out for drinks after the show at the hotel bar, and celebrated Richard’s opening, and also the inauguration. All the TVs in the bar were on, so we were able to watch the inaugural balls while celebrating the great day!

Tuesday was also Merle Dandridge’s first day with us. Merle is our new Lady of the Lake, succeeding Esther, whose last day was Sunday. On Wednesday I had rehearsal with Merle for a few hours, and then had some time to kill before the show, so Ryan and I ventured over to Millenium Park, and took some photos by the infamous Chicago Bean.

Me in the Bean

Me and the Bean

After the show on Wednesday, we had our “official” opening night party at the italian restaurant, Petterino’s. It was a small, nice gathering. Jaki, one of our former wardrobe supervisors, was in town, helping us out for the week, so it was great getting to spend some time with her. I miss her so much – and I never really realize it until she comes to visit, and then I remember how much awesomer my job is when she’s around.

Jaki

Jaki

On Thursday, Ryan and I did some more shopping. Gotta make up for all those weeks in small towns! We went to Barnes and Noble, Old Navy and Macy’s, and then back to Ritz Camera! That night I took advantage of my new wide angle lens to take some shots of the theater. The Auditorium Theater is a really impressive building. Over 4000 seats in the house! There are two balconies very far away from the stage, and very high up. I climbed all the way up to the top to take some snaps. The prop guy told me that the upper balcony is slowly sinking, so they don’t sell the seats anymore. The whole time I was up there, I hung on for dear life. Not only was it very vertigo-inducing, but I was afraid the old, wooden, sinking floor would collapse at any time (talk about an overactive imagination!). I was also terrified of dropping my camera over the balcony. None of those things happened, but I did get some cool photos:

The view from the upper balcony

The view from the upper balcony

 

The view from the stage

The view from the stage

On Friday we had a put-in rehearsal for Merle.  She seems like a really fun girl and is a powerhouse singer, so its great to have her as part of the company – despite the fact that Esther will be sorely missed.

We had two shows on Saturday, followed by Shot Night, hosted by Erik Hayden, where we enjoyed vanilla vodka and ginger ale.

Sunday was Esther’s last day.

Tanya met me for dinner between shows – we ate at Flaco’s Tacos near the hotel, which has AWESOME fish tacos. I was able to hear all about her first week of rehearsals for “Mary Poppins”.

After Esther’s last show that evening, the company gathered at the wine bar, Bin 36, for her going-away party. Esther is an original company member of this tour. She’s been with it for three years now. It’s hard to imagine the tour without her. Her party was a success – Jonathan Hadary showed up (he was vacationing in Chicago last week) and so did Jeff Dumas, our original Patsy, who assumes the role again in Detroit. The wine was tasty, and aside from having to say goodbye to Esther, it was a great night.

Esther as the Lady of the Lake

Esther as the Lady of the Lake

It was a fantastic first week in Chicago. I really like this city – much more than I expected to. The few short hours I had spent here in the past just did not do the city justice. I only wish we had even more time to spend here – and that the weather was warmer! The cold really makes it hard to spend too much time out of doors.

Luckily, there was one more week to be spent in Chicago, including a Monday off – a luxury which we haven’t experienced in a while! But more on that in the next post –

Hope everyone had a great week!

COLD Peoria

It has been unbelievably cold this week. So, so cold. The temperatures this week have been the coldest I have ever experienced. On Thursday when I walked to rehearsal it was -15 outside with a wind chill of -29. Wow. Because of the cold, and because of rehearsals this week, I really didn’t venture much past the path between the hotel and the stage door.

We bussed to Peoria from South Bend, a snowy ride through flat farmlands. We arrived in Peoria in the afternoon, and I was thankful that Jovon still had a rental car from his ride into town that morning with Ken, because I was able to grab a ride to the grocery store with he and Ken and David. I don’t know what I would have done this week without that grocery store run, because downtown Peoria is rather barren when it comes to restaurants and shops, and with the weather being what is was, I didn’t really want to venture too far.

Load-in was pretty easy. The Civic Center is actually quite big. It has strange creepy staircases and a second floor that is abandoned and dark and filled with junk (the stage is on the ground floor and the dressing rooms are on the third floor) – but other than that, it’s just fine. Backstage is plenty big, and our offices and dressing rooms were quite nice. The auditorium is sort of ugly, in a Bavarian beer hall kind of way, but all in all, a decent place to play. The locals were on the strange side, especially the motley crew on the fly rail, but no one was too terrible.

A sea of blue seats at the Civic Center

A sea of blue seats at the Civic Center

The theater was freezing cold on Tuesday, as the doors had been open all day for load-in. The call desk was by the loading dock, where it is drafty, and so it stayed cold all week. We all spent the week calling the show bundled up in our parkas.

Ken taking a cat nap on Tuesday in the office

Ken taking a cat nap on Tuesday in the office

I rented an 85mm lens this week to play with. I still have some gift certificates leftover from Christmas, and before I use them to buy a new lens, I figured I’d rent a couple to try them out first. The 85mm is pretty awesome – I think I may have my decision made already. Here’s a couple of snaps from sound check:

The company meeting

The company meeting

Angelina

Angelina

The King

The King

On Wednesday I left the hotel for only about ten minutes (other than going to work). I wanted to play with my camera lenses outside and take some photos. For the ten minutes I spent outside in the cold without gloves, I spent the next twenty in intense pain as my fingers were just frozen to the bone. The most painful photos I have ever taken!

cold-day

On Thursday and Friday I was in rehearsal with Richard Chamberlain, who opens as the King next week in Chicago. He’s a lovely man, and I think he will be a great addition to the show. I snapped a few more photos during the show on Thursday:

Chris Sutton as Prince Herbert

Chris Sutton as Prince Herbert

Esther Stilwell as the Lady of the Lake

Esther Stilwell as the Lady of the Lake

On Thursday night a bunch of the cast and crew gathered after the show at Big Al’s, a legendary Peoria strip club. I didn’t partake in the festivities, but I hear a good time was had by all.

Friday night was Jonathan Hadary’s going away party at the bar at the Pere Marquette Hotel. It was a nice low-key event, with open bar and food. I’m really going to miss Jonathan. He’s such a pleasant, down-to-earth guy, who thinks nothing of hanging out with the crew at the hotel bar, or can  sit next to Gary, our truck driver, and have a great time chatting with him for a whole evening. Jonathan is also a knitter, which has been my bond with him. I’m really going to miss having him around.

Jonathan at his going-away party

Jonathan at his going-away party

Tim

Tim

Lyn

Lyn

Jen

Jen

Nigel

Nigel

On Saturday, Ben Davis, who plays Galahad, had a personal day, so David Havasi who understudies him, made his debut in the role. He did a great job and I was able to get some shots of him during the evening show:

David as Dennis, with Christopher Gurr as Mrs. Galahad

David as Dennis, with Christopher Gurr as Mrs. Galahad

David as Galahad with Esther Stilwell as the Lady of the Lake

David as Galahad with Esther Stilwell as the Lady of the Lake

With only one show on Sunday, we all packed our belongings onto the bus in the morning before the matinee so as to make a quick escape to Chicago after the show came down. After a few weeks of playing small towns, we were all SO ready to get back to a big city! Being that we were leaving right after the afternoon show, that meant one thing – bring your pet to work day! So, Tallulah enjoyed an afternoon in our office and all the dogs hung out in another room. We’re just a regular circus!

So now, its off to Chicago for two whole weeks! We have two Mondays off there, which is amazing after going for quite a stretch without any days off, and Tanya will be there (she starts rehearsals for “Mary Poppins” this week) – so I’ll get to hang out with her a little bit, too, which will be great! Wishing everyone a lovely week!

Snow, snow and more snow in South Bend

The flat lands of Indiana speed by my window on the bus

On the bus, the flat lands of Indiana speed by my window.

It snowed from the day we arrived until the day we left South Bend. Snow, snow, snow and more snow. We took a bus from Cincinnati on Monday and arrived at the Residence Inn in South Bend in the mid-afternoon. The Residence Inn was the perfect home for the week – Ryan and I shared a two bedroom loft, which was quite spacious and came complete with a fireplace. All I wanted to do all week was hang out in front of that fireplace.

dsc_00161

But, alas, I did have to go in to work. Load-in was great – the guys were done in no time. It was a bit of a squeeze to fit everything in backstage, but everything did JUST fit. The local show crew were not the brightest bunch, and I was doing cues for the prop people up until the day we closed, but after seventy cities now, even the worst crew (and these weren’t the worst) doesn’t really faze me anymore.  The two prop locals were just kind of clueless, and on the lazy side, which just gets on my nerves. I mean, really, do you have to sit down between each cue? And it bugs me when the locals sit on the scenery backstage. I wouldn’t walk into someone’s house that I just met and put my feet up on their couch. And that’s just how it feels sometimes when they lounge all over everything backstage. We also had this creepy guy on the rail, who always wore a shirt or jacket that had a skeleton on it. Even his gloves had skeleton hands on them. Over the weekend, he brought in a set of skull throwing knives and gave them to Keith, our head carpenter, as a gift. He also brought in these metal sleeves that you slide over your forefinger that have a sharp metal “fingernail” on the end of them, and a sharp curved blade that juts out of your knuckle. They looked like some kind of crazy weapon you would find in Chinatown. He gave one to Mike, our pyro guy, and one to our prop guy, Scott. Weird!!

The biggest thing that happened at work this week was that Richard Chamberlain joined us. Richard will be taking over the role of King Arthur in a week’s time in Chicago. He seems like a very nice man, and all reports from rehearsal (I was lucky enough to not have to do any rehearsals this week), say he is going to be great in the role. 

The snowy Spamatruck during load-in

The snowy Spamatruck during load-in

The Morris Center, where we played this past week, is a pretty theater. The front looks like an old vaudeville house, while the backstage is more modern. The house and lobby are really beautiful.

dsc_0015

dsc_0008

From that last shot of the theater’s auditorium, you might be able to tell that my new wide angle lens arrived! I am so excited to play with it some more – unfortunately with the weather being what it was last week, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to get out and about. Hopefully soon! (Although it is still snowing as I type, even though I am no longer in South Bend, but have moved on to Peoria. Ah well.)

Because of the snowfall (we must have gotten over a foot last week), I honestly did not do much with my week. On Thursday I went to Best Buy with Ryan and Terry and then Ryan and I drove over to the Notre Dame campus for a little walkabout. The campus is really pretty and it was quiet, as the students had not yet returned from the Christmas break, but it was about 15 degrees out, and so we could only bear to be outside for a little while. I snapped a few pics, though.

dsc_0035

dsc_0051

dsc_0057

On Thursday night after the show, Jonathan (King Arthur) treated the company to beer and wings at a place around the corner from the theater, as a thank-you and going-away treat. He finishes with us at the end of this week in Peoria. It was really fun, and the wings were awesome! There were tons of different flavored sauces to choose from – it was fun sampling everything. And so nice of Jonathan for treating us all. I will definitely miss him – he’s a knitter, too – we stick together!

Suzanne, sharing a laugh with Karl

Suzanne, sharing a laugh with Karl

Cheers from Darryl

Cheers from Darryl

Gurr and Matt

Gurr and Matt

Candy and Alexa

Candy and Alexa

Friday was spent indoors watching movies, and then the weekend brought four shows.

The highlight of downtown South Bend, for me, was the Fiddler’s Hearth, a cute Irish pub across the street from the stage door. The food there was delicious! I filled up on bangers and mash over the weekend, which is my favorite thing to eat when it’s cold outside. Aside from Fiddler’s, though, downtown South Bend was pretty dead. There were a few restaurants and the South Bend Chocolate Factory, but I expected more –  seeing that it is a college town. If you drove out a bit from the hotel, there was a mall and grocery stores and all the normal chain stores, but I never saw any “college area”. There wasn’t strip of bars and shops where the college kids hung out. I was really surprised by that. 

On Sunday night, the Broadway company of “Spamalot” closed. There were a lot of friends in that company, a lot of tour alumni. It’s sad that the show (like so many other Broadway shows) fell victim to the economy this year. They’ve had a great run, though. And now we are the lone “Spamalot” company. “And then there was one.”

If you have the opportunity this year, and the means – please go and see a Broadway show (or, if you can’t get to New York, see a tour, or  a local production) – please help keep our livelihood going! And, more importantly, help keep live theater alive. Its scary how many shows have closed in such a short amount of time, how many future shows have cancelled plans due to lack of funding, and how many regional theaters are shutting their doors. Luckily my beloved Shakespeare Santa Cruz was saved at the last minute by an outpouring of donations, but it was looking like it could be the end for them, for a while there. 

Thankfully, for now at least, our tour is one of the lucky ones. We press on – 

And so, as the Sunday night show came down and load-out started, the snow was STILL falling. If I remember anything about South Bend, it will be that. All the snow, snow, snow.

dsc_00511

dsc_00231

See ya South Bend!

See ya South Bend!

No More Subway Sandwiches!

Wow. Birmingham, Alabama – perhaps the most dire downtown yet when it came to food options and all-around life. It’s sort of a shame actually, that we were staying downtown and at the mercy of public transportation and the two restaurants in the immediate vicinity (I never want to eat Subway again), because driving into Birmingham was beautiful. Tallulah and I road tripped it from Orlando in an amazing car rental deal (I think I’ve mentioned it before – $8 a day, y’all!), and in order to get into the city limits of Birmingham, you have to go through a national forest and some amazing rolling hills. It’s quite lovely, and if only downtown was even a fraction as lovely, it would have been a better stay.

But alas, it wasn’t. The hotel, the Sheraton, was one of those massive convention hotels with like 700 rooms, and when I arrived, it was also the start of some metalworkers convention, or something like that, so the hotel was packed. The first room we had overlooked the freeway, had a TV stand with a big chunk of wood missing, and a strange brown stain on the ceiling. That first night, the water main broke outside the hotel, so we were out of water for six hours. SIX HOURS. The consolation was that we were given free donuts and coffee in the morning. THANKS.

I awoke to find a brown liquid on my computer, having dripped through the ceiling during the night (hence the stain up above). We moved rooms during the lunch break to one in the renovated side of the building, which was much nicer and much more comfortable and had nothing dripping from the ceiling. Whew. I just don’t think those giant hotels can keep up with all the rooms and all the guests. It’s too much. Much better to stay at a smaller hotel which can be more attentive to the upkeep.

The theater itself was quite large, a welcome change from some of the smaller venues we have been in lately. Load-in again went smoothly, the only glitch being that the local production manager dropped the ball on getting us a pyro technician and the appropriate permits, so we had to cut all the pyro effects for the week – a first on the tour.

During sound check we were introduced to the “Man-o-vator” – I’m not sure what the real name of it is, but it is basically a lift which takes the guys up to the fly rail. It is the only one of its kind left in the country, and you can see why – there are no safety cables – you basically have to hold on for your life and hope you don’t lose your grip on the way up. Of course all the guys thought it was the coolest thing ever and took turns riding it up to the fly floor. (That is, it was cool until Ken rode it on Sunday and couldn’t get the lift to stop, so he kept going higher and higher, screaming “Make it stop”, until our flyman, Nate, went and rescued him!). 

Here’s a picture of Patrick taking a ride:

One thing that was cool about Birmingham, was their trolley system. You could hop on the trolley outside the hotel for a quarter, and ride it to Five Points, the pseudo “hip” neighborhood (which basically consisted of a Starbucks, a record shop, and an Original Pancake House). Ryan and I did just that on Wednesday. We spent some time browsing the record shop, running into a bunch of the crew guys there, and we also took some photos of the Vulcan, a cast iron statue which stands in a park up on the hill, overlooking Birmingham. We didn’t venture all the way up to the park, but were able to get some photos of the Vulcan just fine from a mile away. We also saw some amazing cherry blossoms. Yay, spring is here!

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

The Vulcan

The Vulcan

Mike and Ryan at the Record Shop

Mike and Ryan at the Record Shop

Thursday morning before rehearsal, I walked around downtown a bit. I was struck by the sadness of Birmingham. They have a really rough history, with some really brutal events having happened there during the fight for civil rights. You walk around and see plaques in various locations around the city that tell you about different groups of people who were killed or attacked while trying to fight for equality. The Civil Rights Institute is downtown, and I didn’t have time to visit it, but I did walk through Ingraham Park, which is across the street, and which has many tributes in it to various people involved in the fight for civil rights in one way or another. There was a nice statue of Martin Luther King, but then some disturbing statues of some kids being attacked by police dogs, and then some others being shot with machine guns. Across the street from the park is the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where four little black girls were killed in 1963 when the church was bombed in protest of the integration of Birmingham schools.
The statue of Dr. King

The statue of Dr. King

16th Street Baptist Church

16th Street Baptist Church

On Friday, I went with Ryan and Cuz to the Barber Motor Sports Museum. The museum is a privately-owned collection of over 1100 motorcycles and race cars. I don’t know anything about motorcycles or race cars, but I could certainly appreciate the beauty of some of the vehicles there, especially the vintage Harleys and Indians. Ryan and Cuz didn’t know what to do with themselves. They were like kids in a candy store. The building itself was really amazing, too – five floors, with floor to ceiling windows on all four sides, which allowed for some great natural light to illuminate all the vehicles. The museum is out in the woods, twenty miles outside of Birmingham, and is also on the grounds with a world class racetrack. There were some pretty terrific rain and thunder showers while we were in the museum, which we had a prime view of through all those windows.

Here’s a few pictures of some of the amazing vintage bikes:

Tony lent me some of his camera lenses to play with this week. Now I want to buy a 50mm! So much fun to play with. I took some shots of my favorite model:

(No-post processing, no flash – can you believe it??)

The weekend was busy at work as Casey Nicolaw, our choreographer, came for a visit. Casey is a great guy and very insightful and gave some really good notes to all of our new cast members. It was a nice boost in morale for everyone to see him, and to hear how pleased he is with the show.

Now, as I said, the food options in downtown Birmingham were pretty dire, but we did manage to find a few gems interspersed with all those Subway sandwiches. There was of course a visit, actually two visits, to the Original Pancake House – I had Swedish pancakes the first trip, which are like crepes, and then banana pancakes the second trip. Yum. Ryan and I also took advantage of the rental car we had the day we visited the Barber Museum, and went to dinner at a restaurant called The Fish Market, which was near the loft district. You pick an entree of one of dozens of fish choices and then two sides – we ran into Esther and Nate there – and we all marveled over all the goodnesses that we had on our plates.

Backtracking a little, we also had a nice opening night party at a bar at the Tutweiler Hotel, which is an old historical hotel downtown. It was a small event just for us, and the bar was very cute and hip, with yummy finger foods and totally open bar. We closed the place down and it was one of the more fun parties that I can remember as far as opening nights go.

Sunday we packed up shop and got on sleeper buses to Greenville, South Carolina. 

Suzanne in her bunk

Suzanne in her bunk

Mitchell and Jason in their bunks

Mitchell and Jason being goofballs

It is very charming here in Greenville, with a vibrant downtown. I’m staying a bit out of downtown, but the hotel is so much cheaper than the downtown option that I was able to rent a car for most of the week and it still works out to be less expensive than if I had stayed at the Hyatt downtown. There are a lot of great hiking areas around here so I’m hoping to get out and see a bit of nature this week. I walked around downtown a bit earlier and took a few photos at Falls Park, a beautiful park right near the theater that has a small, pretty waterfall. It looks like there are some good bike trails, and everything looks so green.  Spring is definitely here!

 

This Week in Dallas

On Monday a large portion of the company drove two hours east to a BBQ at Suzanne Storey’s (one of our hair supervisors) brand-new house in East Texas. Suzanne’s first house tragically burned down in an electrical fire in December, shortly before I joined the tour in Detroit. She has been working ever since on rebuilding her dream house on the property. The structure of the house is now up and so Suzanne threw a fourth of July celebration on her twenty-five acres of land to share with all of us the progress that has been made. It was really neat to drive through all these small Texan towns to reach Suzanne’s (which is out in the country – and in a dry county! You have to drive 30 miles to buy beer!) and so fun to hang out on her land all day. The house is beautiful and all her land is really amazing – she has a giant field filled with wildflowers and a pond  where you can go fishing. She had some yummy BBQ catered in and we lazed around all day playing horseshoes, listening to country music and at the end of the day, watching a little (but impressive!) fireworks show put on by Cuz (our sound head) and Mike (our pyro guy). It was an all-around great day. And p.s., I am super jealous of Suzanne after seeing her amazing property!

The exterior of Suzanne's house

The exterior of Suzanne's house

Looking at the house from the backyard

Looking at the house from the backyard

The field behind the house

The field behind the house

Everyone hanging on the porch

Everyone hanging on the porch

Sitting on the porch

Sitting on the porch

Cuz and Mark playing horseshoes

Cuz and Mark playing horseshoes

Suzanne at her front door

Suzanne at her front door

Tree burnt in the fire

Tree burnt in the fire

Another shot of the field

Another shot of the field

The pond

The pond

Cuz and Mike set off fireworks

Cuz and Mike set off fireworks

On Tuesday I wanted to try out my new camera some more so I went over to the Dallas Arboretum with Ryan. It has been raining so much that the gardens are really lush and green right now. Here’s a few pics:

After the Arboretum we headed over to the Nasher Sculpture Museum and Garden and also to the Crow Collection. We saw some very cool pieces of art. I was very impressed with the actual physical building of the Nasher – it was so bright and clean and simple.

From the Nasher:

From the Crow Collection:

On Wednesday I spent a little bit of time taking some more photos at the Greenwood Cemetery, which is very near where we are staying in Dallas. I had driven by it last week on the way back to the hotel from doing laundry and thought it looked so pretty – lots of really interesting headstones and pretty trees and flowers. Here’s a few snaps:

Finally, we played whirly-ball this week! It was really fun! Whirly-ball is played with two teams in bumper cars. Everyone has a scoop and you have to pass the ball to your teammates and try to score a point by hitting a target on one end of the court. Cuz organized the outing, and the building looked really sketchy when we showed up – first of all it was hard to find because it was completely dark and the sign was off. We tentatively ventured inside to find what looked much like a bowling alley – cheap beers for sale at a concessions stand, and tables in a viewing area. There were two whirly-ball courts. We had one reserved from 11:30pm-1:30am. About twenty of us played – we switched off playing ten at a time. It was a blast.

Piper

Piper

Adam

Adam

Callie

Callie

Kevin

Kevin

A bunch of us went and visited Jaki again yesterday. She is doing so much better. The rehab center is so much nicer than the hospital, and she seems in really good spirits. She was joking around and entertaining us all just like she always does. It was great to see the progress she is making. She will probably be in Dallas for another three weeks before she can fly back home to Connecticut. I’ll miss her being on the tour a lot. She’s such a caring and funny person. 

This weekend we bid goodbye to Rick Bertone, one of keyboard players. Rick and I have known each other for a few years as he worked with Firsthand Theatre Project on our cabaret show, Journeys, in 2003, and also on the Trailer Park musical two years ago. I’ll miss you, Ricky!

Monday we head to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Already there has been a hotel snafu. The place where the majority of the company was booked to stay has changed management and the person who booked all our reservations doesn’t work there any more and she erased her hard drive before she left with all our booking information. On top of that, the restaurant and pool are closed for renovation, and the new management sent an email to our company managers yesterday saying that the water pressure in the hotel was currently very bad. So we had a company meeting at intermission yesterday and we were given the opportunity to change hotels – however the new options weren’t great – one is a Best Western by the airport. Another is a Doubletree downtown, but only double rooms are available for shares. I think I am going to stay at a Candlewood, which should be okay, but its sort of expensive and 13 miles from the theater. I looked online though, and there is a mall within walking distance (with a Cheesecake Factory!), so that kind of made my decision for me!

Sorry for the long post! Hope everyone had a great July 4th.

Arriving Dallas

Ferris wheel at the Fairgrounds

Ferris wheel at the Fairgrounds

Last weekend was my birthday – and it was such a nice birthday! I was expecting it to be very low-key and uneventful, being that Houston was sort of that way anyway, and that my birthday fell on load-out, but instead it ended up being a whole birthday weekend with multiple dinners and a fun drink night on Saturday – and lots of people called and remembered me, which made me feel so good. Thank you! 

I also received some Amazon gift certificates from a few very generous people and have ordered a brand new digital SLR camera – the Nikon D80 – I am so excited to get it and start learning how to use it!

We left Houston on Monday and drove to Dallas. Tallulah and I rode with Ken in his rental car, allowing us to skip the crowded bus ride with the cast. We stopped at a very Texan gas station complete with flag painted on the roof, horses in a trailer and deer corn for sale – whatever that is!

  

Dallas already seems far superior to Houston. First of all, we are staying at the Hotel Indigo, which I love! We stayed at an Indigo in Atlanta as well – the rooms are beautiful – small, but decorated in very calming colors with big, comfy beds. I actually stripped the bed the other day to try and figure out what kind of bed it is so I can buy one when I get back to New York (its a Simmons Beautyrest with pillowtop – model Felicity). Plus, Tallulah is very happy with the big windowsills, where she sits for hours and watches the pigeons on the roof across the way. Some pigeons landed on the actual outdoor windowsill of my room the other day and I thought Tallulah was going to try and pounce through the window at them!

The city of Dallas seems far more happening than Houston. There are more restaurants downtown, as well as the first Neiman Marcus! You can also walk to Deep Ellum from our hotel, which is the “hip” neighborhood, full of bars and tattoo shops and restaurants. I also walked over to “The West End”, which is the west end of downtown and has many historic brick buildings that house newer restaurants. Apparently the grassy knoll and 6th Floor Museum are in the West End – I haven’t visited them yet but intend to next week (maybe after I get my new camera!). 

The theater, The Music Hall at Fair Park, is located on the Fairgrounds, where the Texas State Fair is held annually. Unfortunately the fair isn’t running at the moment (or maybe fortunately as I can’t imagine how bad traffic would be if it was). The theater is pretty old – it sort of looks and smells like an old Broadway house backstage – or a YMCA – musty-smelling and worn. There is plenty of room backstage, though, so the load-in and first night went smoothly.

On Thursday night we had a bit of a tragedy – we were coming back to the hotel after the show and saw paramedics outside the building. Turns out that one of our company members. who had been out that night sick, fell out of her sixth floor hotel room, landing on the roof of the second floor. She is going to be okay, just a lot of broken bones, but everyone is understandably shaken and worried about her. We are all sending her good thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

This weekend we have four shows and then are off on Monday. I haven’t decided yet how I want to spend the day – maybe going to the yarn store that Jovon got me a gift certificate to for my birthday! We also got a coupon to the Dallas Arboretum at our opening night party, so maybe I will go and check that out, although that may be another place that would be great to go to once I get my new camera. 

I’ve started thinking about taking a vacation, probably in December. I’m thinking along the lines of warm weather, beach, spa…maybe Mexico. The show will be in Washington D.C. then, so I will be flying from there. Anybody have any good suggestions for vacation destinations?