A Week in the Desert

This past Monday was the final official travel day for the “Spamalot” tour! Because we have a lay-off coming up next week everyone will be coming in to Costa Mesa from different places, so the travel to Tucson was the last time we were all (for the most part) traveling together. It was sort of bittersweet, actually, as much as I hate the air travel and airports and the hassle of travel day. You couldn’t ask for a better-natured group of people to travel with. We always have a lot of fun, even in the most tedious of travel days.

Vanessa Sonon at the airport

Vanessa Sonon at the airport

We arrived in Tucson late in the afternoon on Monday – I picked up my rental car and headed downtown to my rental apartment in the Armory District. It is an old apartment building – built in 1903 when everything in that area was military housing. It is charmingly decorated and bright and cheery. I have been very happy there this week – so much better than staying in a hotel! Tallulah has slowly been getting used to not having her LA patio. She has been very happy lounging in the sun room and has not been crying at the front door (like she did in San Diego).

Tucson living room

Tucson living room

Tucson bedroom

Tucson bedroom

I really didn’t do anything on Monday evening except go to the grocery store. I was so tired after the travel day that I crashed early. Tuesday was load-in. The theater, the Tucson Music Hall, is part of the big convention center, which is conveniently located only a couple of blocks from my apartment. The theater is spacious enough, although the dressing room space is quite cramped. There’s not much theatrical work in Tucson so our local crew has been quite a mixed bag. There were a few melt-downs during the opening night performance, and our two local prop guys still have not learned their cues (as I type this on the day of our closing performance), but otherwise the shows have been smooth and uneventful. This marks Christopher Gurr’s final week as King Arthur (he has been filling in for John O’Hurley who has been on hiatus from us for the past three weeks. He rejoins the show in Costa Mesa) – Christopher has played Bedevere since the tour started and has been covering the King all that time as well. We are extremely lucky to have had such a strong, dependable cover who has stepped in for many a vacationing or ailing King.

We had a little opening night party next door at the Hotel Arizona. The flyer for the party reported that there would be “heavy hors d’oeuvres”, so you can imagine the surprise and delight when we discovered that full-on turkey legs were provided. It was hilarious watching everyone gnaw the meat off the bones – all decorum just went right out the window.

On Wednesday I walked around downtown for a bit and took some photos. I love the Southwestern architecture, especially against the blue, blue desert skies. I followed the Turquoise trail for a while, which runs by many of the landmarks downtown. I saw the St. Augustine Cathedral and the Presidio – then I headed over to 4th Avenue, which is just south of the University of Arizona campus and is filled with funky shops and restaurants. I had lunch at a little cafe, and then went over to the college campus to the Center for Creative Photography, to see a Robert Mapplethorpe portrait exhibit (which was very good).

St. Augustine Cathedral

St. Augustine Cathedral

The Presidio

The Presidio

On Thursday I got up early and drove out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which was kind of a mix between a botanical garden and a zoo. I was pretty awestruck as I drove out of the city into the hills, at the shear number of Saguaro cacti everywhere. They are so alien! And they are just everywhere – hundreds and hundreds of them. I enjoyed walking around the Desert Museum, seeing all the animals and plants, and just taking in the very different and unique environment. After that, I drove south to the San Xavier Reservation and visited the San Xavier del Bac Mission. The mission is such a beautiful, beautiful building – and the whiteness of it against the blue sky made for some very dramatic photographs.

Saguaro cacti at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Saguaro cacti at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Flowers at the Desert Museum

Flowers at the Desert Museum

Saguaros

Saguaros

San Xavier del Bac Mission

San Xavier del Bac Mission

Chapel

Chapel

In the chapel at San Xavier del Bac Misson

In the chapel at San Xavier del Bac Misson

On Friday I picked up Suzanne at 8am and we drove out to Saguaro National Monument for some hiking before it got too hot (Ha! It was still 90 degrees!). We did a five mile round trip hike to Bridal Falls, which were, of course, dried up – but it was still a beautiful hike and we saw some jack rabbits and deer.

Taking a break with Suzanne at the base of dried up Bridal Falls

Taking a break with Suzanne at the base of dried up Bridal Falls

That afternoon we met up with all the girls on the tour for a goodbye lunch for Jen Mathie, one of our ensemble ladies who is leaving at the end of the week to go to India to study yoga. It was so nice to spend the afternoon with such an amazing group of women – I will miss them all when the tour is over.

Jen's goodbye lunch

Jen's goodbye lunch

On Saturday between shows I drove to the airport and picked up Ryan who flew in to hang out with me for our lay-off next week. We went out to dinner and then Ryan came and joined me after the evening show for Shot Night. He is off today on a rental Harley-Davidson to explore the area. We leave Monday for Sedona, where we are spending two nights, then we meet up with Suzanne on Wednesday at the Grand Canyon for a few days. Then we go to Las Vegas for the weekend. Should be fun! Its my last “vacation” before the tour is over and I have to tighten up on the spending 🙂

It was a great week here in Tucson – I looked at the calendar last week and realized that this is my first “new” city in four months (and my last of the tour) – all the places we have been since Spokane have been familiar to me. It was so nice to get back to a new place and feel the excitement of getting to explore again. It sounds weird, but Tucson reminded me a lot of Anchorage in a way – except of course it is the desert as opposed to tundra. It is a city in the middle of the frontier though, and you don’t have to drive very far to get to the wilderness. I think the heat would kill me if I lived here, but it is definitely beautiful country and I really enjoyed my week here.

So, onto my lay-off adventures, and then my final city of the “Spamalot” tour – Costa Mesa! I can’t believe after three years that it is all ending. I wonder what my next adventure will be?

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Happy Days

I drove up to the Bay Area last week to be there for my brother Nick’s kidney transplant. Nick was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease over ten years ago and his kidney function has been slowly declining since then. My sister, Becky, who is the bravest person I know, offered one of her kidneys to Nick. I will be forever in awe of her selflessness.

The surgeries were on Wednesday and both went so smoothly – the doctors raved about how beautiful Becky’s donated kidney was, and it started working in Nick immediately. Both Becky and Nick were home by the weekend, and although they are still sore and recuperating, their respective kidney functions are doing amazingly well. We couldn’t have asked for a more seamless and smooth transplant. Please remember them in your prayers for their ongoing road to health.

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I got back to LA on Friday night, exhausted, and just in time for a five show weekend 🙂 The only thing I did of note over the weekend, was to go over to the Grand Central Market in downtown LA between shows on Sunday. The market is primarily Mexican food vendors – there is lots of ready-to-eat stuff as well as booths filled with spices and produce. It was fun to walk around and I picked up some goodies for dinner.

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On Sunday night we bid goodbye to Sarah Lin Johnson, one of our swings, who is leaving to join the “Young Frankenstein” tour, and also Rick Holmes, who was playing a limited engagement with our company as “Lancelot”. We had drinks for them the night before at Kendall’s, a nice bar at the Music Center.

On Monday I ran some errands, and then spent the evening at Chris and Sean’s. Chris made up some of his delicious fish tacos and invited a group of friends over to partake. One of the attendees was our friend Mark, who Chris and I both went to college with. I hadn’t seen Mark in years and it was great to catch up with him and to meet his wife Brooke and their new puppy.

On Tuesday Suzanne and I did a hike in the San Gabriel mountains near Altadena. It was a nice easy trail, mostly covered by shady trees. It followed a creek to a waterfall – the water levels were so low though, that there were a lot of annoying bugs in the air. If we go back, we will definitely take bug spray next time! It was a really beautiful hike, though, and a different terrain than most of other other hikes, which have been more desert-like.

On the trail with Suzanne

On the trail with Suzanne

On Thursday night I went out for drinks after the show with Suzanne, Tom and Vicki Perrin, and Tim. We went to the Dresden Room, an old school lounge in Los Feliz. It was a fun night – an early goodbye to Tim, who leaves at the end of next week to start grad school.

Tim

Tim

Tom and Vicki

Tom and Vicki

And of course, there has been sewing! We are working on sundresses in class now, but in the meantime I have finished two tops – both Amy Butler patterns.

Lotus Cami

Lotus Cami

Anna Tunic

Anna Tunic

I love them both, although I’m thinking of shortening the second top so that is a little less like a tunic, and more cami-length.

I can’t believe I only have about two months left on the road!  I’ve finished all my housing and car reservations for the rest of the tour, and have almost finished my planning for the one-week lay-off we have in October. My car reservation is made for my cross-country trip back to New York, and I have a sublet reserved in Harlem for the month of November while I look for my own place. Its been an amazing three years, and it is interesting to be doing these long sit-downs at the end of the tour. It is totally easing me back into apartment life, and into life in one place. I am actually really looking forward to finally getting back to the east coast, and getting my own apartment, and seeing my things again. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t tour again, because in actuality, I would love to (and soon!), but I am definitely in need of some re-grouping and re-organizing and some centering. I think getting back to having my own “home” again will be great for that. I’m sure Tallulah will be glad for the rest, too!

But in the meantime, I have four more weeks in LA before I have to pack up the suitcases again, and I am going to enjoy them to the fullest!

Denver Revisited

So after flying from Spokane, I left Ryan at the Denver airport and got in a cab to downtown. Very, very strange and sad to be continuing on without him. Thank goodness it was Denver. We had a truncated week with a Wednesday opening (allowing the trucks to make the long drive from Spokane), and a rehearsal on Thursday, so down time would be limited. And in my down time I had plenty of people to see. Tiffany and Robin, two of my dearest friends from college, live in Denver – as well as Elaine, one of our former hair supervisors on the tour, as well as a couple of other friends. I knew I would at least be occupied throughout the week – and hopefully that would keep me distracted from being too upset about Ryan.

Our flight to Denver was later in the afternoon, so by the time I was checked in to the Residence Inn (a really nice one just a block up from the 16th Street Mall) all I really had time for was some dinner before bed. I walked around a little bit – it was really gorgeous and warm out – finally some summery weather!

On Tuesday I rented a car and did some grocery shopping, and then drove out to Red Rocks Park. Ryan and I had gone there the last time we played Denver and it is such a gorgeous place to go for an easy hike. There is a spectacular amphitheater there – I bet seeing a concert there is amazing. I had thought about going up to Estes Park or something more adventurous on my free Tuesday off, but in the end I just felt like taking it easy and not driving too far. It was lovely to walk around Red Rocks and take in the beautiful surroundings, without having to drive a million miles to get there! It was a very relaxing couple of hours.

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After spending a few hours walking around Red Rocks, I got back in the car and drove over to Cherry Creek Mall. Nothing like a little retail therapy to make me feel better! I bought a dress for our San Francisco opening and I love it!

On Wednesday I joined load-in at the Buell Theater. We played the Buell for three weeks back in 2007 and it is clean, modern, spacious and therefore, a very easy space to load into and play. It was nice to see some of the familiar stagehands – especially Al, the house prop guy, who is quite a character. He is almost 75 and still working – I think he looks like a little garden gnome.

It was a very easy day – we had so much time on our hands after our load-in responsibilities were complete, that we cleaned out our two stage management hampers – we got rid of a ton of stuff – spring cleaning! In the afternoon I was even able to go back to the hotel and relax for a couple of hours before the show.

The big news on Wednesday was that before the show, our general manager, Jeff Wilson, announced to the company that the “Spamalot” tour would be ending on October 18th in Costa Mesa. It really wasn’t a shock to anybody – we had all been hearing rumors for ages – and in fact, its sort of nice knowing when the end will be. We have a great schedule between now and then – all California cities, except for a week in Tucson in September. And the closing isn’t for another five months, so there is plenty of time between now and then to figure out what to do next. What will I do come October? – who knows? Time will tell. It may be nice to actually be home for the holidays!

Jeff treated the company to drinks at the Hotel Curtis after the show. I had a nice time talking to Paula and Matt, although it was a bit weird to be at a “Spamalot” function without Ryan.

On Thursday we had understudy rehearsal, and then following the evening show, John O’Hurley, who plays King Arthur, threw the company a party at Elway’s, a restaurant at the Ritz Carlton hotel. It was a really nice, low-key gathering, with really good food, and an unending supply of wine 🙂 I spent a long time talking with Ben Davis and Carissa, and before I knew it was much later than I had anticipated staying out. Needless to say, I was pretty tired the next morning.

Carissa and Alexa at Elway's

Carissa and Alexa at Elway's

I got up early on Friday to go and get my hair cut and colored. Unfortunately the first salon that I went to (and where I had an appointment), was not a good experience. The stylist seemed very confused and then very antagonistic towards me – so after a few minutes I got up and left. I called my friend Tiffany, who I was meeting later, and she recommended another salon out by the mall – I called them and they had an opening, so I went there and got a great cut and color. Tiffany picked me up there and I had a nice afternoon with her and her two kids – Ava and baby Seamus. We drove out to the zoo and had lunch and walked around for a few hours looking at all the animals with the kids. Seamus is a newborn – only born in February, so he slept the afternoon away, but I had a lot of fun catching up with Ava, who I think is one of the smartest, funniest kids I’ve ever met.

Ava

Ava

I was so exhausted by the time the show was over on Friday night, that I had to call it a night. Piper Arpan, one of our former swings, was in town, and was hosting a party at her fiance’s bar, but I just couldn’t do it. Too many parties in one week! It was a shame, because I really would have liked to have seen Piper, but I also needed to sleep really badly!

I got up early again on Saturday and met up with Tiffany, and our friend Robin, for breakfast. I went to college with Tiffany and Robin and lived with them both in the same dorm our freshman year. Tiffany and I also lived together for a year after college when we both moved back to the Bay Area. I love both these girls so much and I love that we are still friends. It was great catching up with them both.

Robin and Tiffany

Robin and Tiffany

We had two shows on Saturday. In between, I had lunch with Elaine, Jovon and Roy. Elaine was one of our hair supervisors for the first couple of years on the tour, and I just love her so much. She lives in Winter Park, so it was a fairly short trip for her to come down and see us. I really miss having her around, and it was nice to talk to her about everything that had gone on during the previous couple of weeks with Ryan and feel her support. I wish she was still out here on the road with us.

The two-show day was followed by a very festive shot night. Wayne Spellman, our wardrobe supervisor, was leaving to join the “Mamma Mia” tour (which is currently playing Hawaii), so his farewell shot night was a Hawaiian themed extravaganza with leis, palm trees, and lots of embarrassing pictures of Wayne taken over his two-year tenure on the tour (most were from the white trash party that he hosted in Toledo).

Wayne

Wayne

Carissa

Carissa

Darryl

Darryl

Jen and David

Jen and David

After shot night, we all headed over to the bar at the Curtis and had more drinks to celebrate Wayne. I ended up having another late night, chatting with the Suttons and Elaine. It was a fun send-off for Wayne – a couple of the girls and Matthew Greer even wore hula skirts to the bar!

Sarah, David, Alexa and Carissa in Hawaiian wear at the bar

Sarah, David, Alexa and Carissa in Hawaiian wear at the bar

On Sunday, we all wore ties backstage for the evening show in honor of Wayne (who often wears a tie to work). It was sad to say goodbye to him, but we’re all happy for him that he’s going off to such a great gig.

And so after the evening show it was time to pack up and finally head west to San Francisco. I have been waiting so long to finally go back to my hometown with a show – I was beyond excited. Not only was I heading home, but for seven whole weeks! I could not wait to get there!

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Spokane

I spent all day last Monday on a bus from Eugene to Spokane. We left around 9:00am and didn’t arrive until close to 8pm. It was a LOOONG day. Besides the long distance between the cities, we also got stuck behind an accident involving two semi-trucks which put traffic in a stand still for about an hour, and then we were detoured off the freeway to get around the accident. At least the drive was pretty. We drove along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon for miles and miles – gorgeous. By the time I got in and settled (and had to change rooms once due to a party in the room next to our first room), all I had time to do was eat some dinner before bed.

Suzanne on the bus

Suzanne on the bus

Load-in was fine. The theater was nice and big with lots of room everywhere (well, the dressing rooms were a little cramped, but they were okay) so things went smoothly. The biggest highlight of the day was watching an old building across the street get knocked down. It happened bit by bit throughout the day, and everyone was fascinated by it.

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The opening performance was fine. Can you tell how apathetic I am toward the whole week? It was just totally clouded over for me by the fact that it was Ryan’s last city. Who would have ever thought he would be leaving the tour in Spokane of all places?

Wednesday was all about taking care of business for Ryan – getting a box for his bike and making phone calls. We had lunch at a good sushi place near the theater but otherwise did nothing of note that day. It was Jen Mathie’s birthday (one of our chorus girls), so we went out for drinks after the show that night with some of the cast and crew.

On Thursday we had lunch (well, a late breakfast really) at Frank’s Diner, a really cute restaurant in an old train car. The food was really good, and the setting was just so cool. I loved it!

Frank's Diner

Frank's Diner

Ryan at Frank's

Ryan at Frank's

We spent the afternoon walking around Riverfront Park. Downtown Spokane is really nice. There is a big shopping mall with a movie theater and all the regular mall shops, there are plenty of restaurants and bars, and the park along the river is really pretty. It was the site of the 1974 World’s Fair, and there are still remnants of it – like the big clock tower that stands in the middle of the park. The Spokane Falls are part of the park and at this time of year, they are really high and full. The amount of water rushing through was rather frightening to be honest!

Spokane Falls

Spokane Falls

The Pavilion

The Pavilion

Ryan in the big "Radio Flyer" playground

Ryan in the big "Radio Flyer" playground

After the show that night a large group of people went to play Laser Tag, which I hear was a good time. Ryan and I opted out – we went to Shenanigans, a bar behind our hotel for drinks instead.

On Friday we walked over to Dick’s Burgers, a Spokane institution. Their motto is “Burgers by the Bagful”. The restaurant has been around since the ’50’s (it’s more of a drive through) and their prices reflect that – burgers are only 97 cents! The food was good and bad for you (as most good food is!) – it was fun (not really) being screamed at by seagulls as we sat outside at a picnic table and ate our burgers.

Dick's Burgers

Dick's Burgers

After lunch we went back to Riverfront Park and rode on the Skyride over the Falls. It was a little disconcerting to be over all that water, but a great vantage point to take photos.

The Skyride over the Falls

The Skyride over the Falls

After the show on Friday we had drinks at Shenanigans again. Ryan’s road box, trunk and bike shipped out that day. We both kept hoping someone would tell us that his leaving was all a big joke, but when his stuff shipped out, that sort of made it very real.

Saturday we had a nice brunch at a place called Madeleine’s downtown and then had our normal two-show day. Sunday was much the same. And then Ryan’s last load-out. After he got back to the hotel, we stayed up pretty much all night talking – so the morning bus ride to the airport came all too soon.

I said goodbye to Ryan in Denver. He flew with us there and then connected through to Minneapolis and then home to Green Bay. I can’t even express how weird it is to be continuing on this tour without him. I never wanted to get involved with anyone when I started this tour, but now I can’t imagine it without him. I feel empty.

It’s only been a day but I miss him already.

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Eugene

I don’t really know how to even start writing about last week, because it sucked royally. Nothing against Eugene, but the events that happened while we were there have changed my experience on this tour forever. And that’s a damn shame, because up until now it was one of the best experiences of my life, and although I am so grateful and blessed to have seen all the places I have seen over the last two years and the opportunity I have been given in this job, now I am heartbroken. And I won’t ever forget that, or likely forgive. And I hate that that has clouded over all the good that there has been. Because there has been a lot of good.

The return to the lower 48 from Alaska was great. Ryan and I chose to stay the night in Seattle instead of journeying on to Eugene right away. We had a great afternoon and evening, revisiting some of the places that we had loved when we played Seattle a year and a half ago. We had lunch at Serious Pie, which has some of the best-tasting, most innovative pizzas I have ever eaten. We shared a yummy clam pizza with lemon-thyme sauce. So, so good. That afternoon we walked around the Pike Place Market and bought some pasta to take with us to Oregon. We drove over to the Apple Store so that I could get a new iPhone (my old one was crushed in Alaska). It was nice to have to drive to the Apple Store, because it meant driving past the University of Washington campus, which I had never seen before. What a gorgeous place to go to school! That night we revisited Six Arms, a McMenamins bar that we had spent a lot of time at during our previous three week stay in town. I’m happy to report that there is still a Killer Rabbit sticker in the kitchen at Six Arms!

In the morning we got up and drove to Belltown, our old ‘hood, to meet Bret for brunch at the Boat Street Cafe. We had a delicious meal there and it was so nice to see Bret again before heading out of town.

with Bret at the Boat Street Cafe

with Bret at the Boat Street Cafe

We began driving south on Sunday afternoon, stopping when we got to Portland. We drove immediately over to Powell’s Books, where we spent well over an hour browsing through the shelves and shelves of books. It is literally impossible to get in and out of Powell’s in under an hour, and also equally as impossible to walk out empty-handed. Ryan and I both made some purchases!

Powell's Books

Powell's Books

After Powell’s, we realized it was getting a bit late, so instead of doing any more walking around, we drove over to Sushiville on 23rd, our favorite sushi boat restaurant anywhere. We totally pigged out. Sushiville has the best variety of sushi and they have desserts! And the prices are so reasonable, you can really eat a good meal for under 20 bucks. After we were sufficiently stuffed, we got back in the car and continued the drive down to Eugene. I wish we could have stayed in Portland longer – I love that town so much. We arrived in Eugene pretty late, but just in time to run across the street from the hotel to North Bank, another McMenamins bar, to buy some beer and a bottle of wine to take back to our room. Score!

Tallulah amidst the luggage in the car

Tallulah amidst the luggage in the car

The hotel in Eugene, the Residence Inn, was super, super nice! We often stay at Residence Inns, but this one had just recently been renovated, and so the decor was very modern and colorful and chic. We had splurged on a two-bedroom to have more space, and it was basically a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. Really, really nice. I like to write about the hotels here to have a record, in case I ever tour again. I’ll be able to look back and remember where the nice places were to stay!

On Monday, we had all day before Ryan had to be at work for load-in. We went to Trader Joe’s and stocked up on groceries for the week, and drove around downtown to get the lay of the land. Eugene is a college town, housing the University of Oregon, and is full of bars, restaurants and cute shops. College towns are the best. After Ryan went to work, I went for a long walk along the river, which was right across the street from the hotel. There is a trail that runs for miles and miles along the riverbank, and I had a great time taking photos and watching people fish in the river and walk the trail. I *might* even have taken a self-portrait to kick off my 2nd year of 365 days 🙂

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Year 2, Day 1 of 365

Year 2, Day 1 of 365

Tuesday was when everything went wrong. Load-in was fine. The theater was a bit on the small side, but everything fit. The show that evening was fine. All status quo.

After the show, Ryan was told his contract with the show was being terminated.

Now I can’t talk about what happened, or what went down, or how messed up the whole situation is, because this is a public blog and anyone can read it. All I can say is that I am heartbroken, Ryan is blindsided and devastated, and that my experience out here will never be the same. Ryan is my best friend. We have both been working our asses off on this show for two and a half years. Its terribly disappointing and hurtful to have it end this way for him.

I want to write more, but I can’t. I thought about not writing about it at all, but how could I not? How could Ryan just disappear from this journey without anyone having questions? And this IS the story of my journey, and this happening is a big part of that story. I’m just so sad to be losing him. And I find the prospect of having to start using the pronoun “I” instead of “We” incredibly hard.

So needless to say, not much sleep was had on Tuesday, and Wednesday was all about trying to clean up the mess. We did get out finally for a walk along the river late in the day, and I’m glad we did. It was beautiful out and it was nice to clear out heads.

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On Thursday I had rehearsal all day, and then after the show we went out for drinks at the North Bank. It was nice spending time with some of our friends from the show. If nothing else, this experience has really made it crystal clear who our friends are out here, and who really are not friends at all.

On Friday Ryan and I drove over to Hendricks Park, a big green space just east of campus. We spent a couple of hours walking the trails there and wandering around the Rhododendron garden. Eugene is so, so green and lush. This was an amazing time of year to be there.

At Hendricks Park

At Hendricks Park

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On Saturday morning we got up early enough to make it downtown for the Saturday Market, which is a farmer’s market/craft fair in downtown Eugene each weekend. It was dreary and rainy outside, which was a bit of a drag, but we still managed to make it through all the craft booths before work, despite having to take cover from the rain here and there. Ryan bought me a bracelet made out of spoon handles, and also a wind chime made out of old pieces of silverware – I love them both!

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Spoon Bracelet

Spoon Bracelet

We had two shows on Saturday and two on Sunday. After the show on Sunday, I drove over to Prince Puckler’s, an ice cream shop that my friend Fin had recommended to me (she went to school at U of O) – I had a scoop of the mandarin chocolate and a scoop of the banana brownie – delicious!!

And with that, load-out  began. I was on a bus all day the next day to Spokane, Washington, where Ryan will have his last week with the tour.

I have a feeling I may be a bit sad for a while, peeps. Sorry for being such a Debbie Downer. It’s weird to think about the months ahead without my best friend with me. I’m just thankful that the cities coming up – Denver, San Francisco, LA and San Diego are filled with so many family members and dear friends from my “real life” – –  I need to escape the bubble for a while.

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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.)

Tampa Again!

And the Florida adventure continues!

Since the crew had the luxury of a sane evening load-out in Melbourne (with the absence of an evening show on Sunday), and didn’t have to be at the theater in Tampa until 6pm the next day for the load-in, Ryan and I had a leisurely drive on Monday morning across the state. We had rented a vacation house in Tampa – a cute duplex just ten miles or so north of downtown. When we got there, we settled in, went and had some yummy sushi for lunch and did some grocery shopping for the week. It makes such a difference to stay in a house or apartment rather than a hotel. Being able to cook your own food is such a luxury, and with the warm weather, we were also able to grill outside. So, so nice.

Flowers blooming in the backyard

Flowers blooming in the backyard

Ryan took the car into town Monday night for load-in, and Tallulah and I chilled at the house.

The next day I joined the load-in at Tampa PAC. This was the third theater I played with the tour, almost exactly two years ago. It is a HUGE theater – tons and tons of space backstage, everyone gets their own dressing room – the stagehands are decent – I remember some of them from the last time we were there. The load-in was really easy.

At the Tampa PAC

At the Tampa PAC

The best thing about Tuesday, was the reintroduction of Callie Carter to the company. Callie was an original tour cast member and our former dance captain. She left about a year ago to head back to New York, where she joined the Broadway company and eventually became their dance captain. She is with us for a few weeks filling in. I love Callie – she’s funny and down to earth, and has a great energy. It was so nice to see her again.

Callie

Callie

On Wednesday Ryan and I drove over to International Plaza – the fancy mall in town – to do some shopping. Traffic in Florida is a pain so it was a bit stressful getting back to the house in time to make some dinner, but we managed to squeeze it all in – just in time to go to work.

Thursday we had a matinee and evening show, and then afterwards a group of us convened at the Blue Martini for a going away party for Candy and Angelina. Both girls are in our ensemble. Candy joined us in Toronto from the Vegas company, and took over assistant dance captain duties when Tera-Lee left. Angelina has been with the show for almost two and a half years. She recently was hired as a swing in the new Broadway company of “West Side Story”. So – Thursday night, a party was held for the girls. We had a party at the Blue Martini the last time we were in Tampa, to celebrate Pia’s 30th birthday. To be honest, its not really my kind of place – its kind of a meat market, with overpriced drinks. But for Candy and Angelina, I’d pretty much suck it up and go anywhere. It actually ended up not being that bad –  it was nice and warm out, so it turned out to be the perfect evening to sit outside and sip cocktails.

Paula and Angelina at the Blue Martini

Paula and Angelina at the Blue Martini

Sarah Lin and her boyfriend Shane

Sarah Lin and her boyfriend Shane

David smoking a cigar

David smoking a cigar

Nate

Nate

On Friday Ryan and I decided to spend the day totally at the house, grilling on the BBQ and sitting in the sun. It was great. Sometimes you just need those lazy days. I worked on finishing my knitting project, a top called “Rusted Root” and also took advantage of the backyard and the good weather to get some photos of some of my finished knits. I’ll do a follow-up blog post to this with some of the shots. In addition to having a backyard, the rental house also had a lanai – a screened-in porch which Tallulah spent almost all week on. She would be up first thing in the morning waiting by the sliding glass door to be let out. She would sit out there and watch the birds all day.

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On Saturday there was a big arts fair in downtown Tampa. Between shows Ryan and I went and walked around, looking at all the booths. There was some fantastic photography there – I particularly loved the photographs by  Todd Lundeen, who had traveled to Tibet and taken some amazing photos of the people there. A couple of our company members bought prints from him – I think I’m going to order a couple from his website. We had a nice time walking around and eating street fair food. The kettle corn was amazing.

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Back at the theater, the place was completely overrun with kids all weekend. There was a dance competition in the building and they were running through the hallways with mothers in tow during all three of our weekend shows. It got to be a little much by Sunday afternoon.

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Sunday was the final show for Candy and Angelina. It was definitely a bittersweet night – both girls will be missed so much. Candy was a swing, so she wasn’t in the show that night, but she watched from the wings while Ang played her last performance. There were a few pranks pulled – the two best being in “Bright Side”, the four other girls dressed as Ni Knights stayed offstage and Angelina ended up doing a “Ni Knight solo”, and then in the finale, Angelina’s boyfriend Nigel, who is a swing but was not on on Sunday, surprised her by coming out and dancing as her partner in the Wedding number. Very sweet. I wish both girls the best of luck!

Angelina in "Camelot"

Angelina in "Camelot"

The Ni Knight solo

The Ni Knight solo

Candy backstage

Candy backstage

Nigel surprises Angelina in the Wedding

Nigel surprises Angelina in the Wedding

We had Sunday night off as we had a matinee on Thursday, so I was able to spend one more warm evening on the porch at the rental house. We were off bright and early on Monday to Austin. Ryan, unfortunately, got bad news on Sunday that a water pipe had burst at his house and flooded his basement, so he left early Monday to go back to Green Bay to deal with it. He’ll meet us in Austin on Friday.

It was lovely to spend two weeks in Florida after the weeks and weeks of cold and snow that we experienced earlier this winter. We are not out of the cold just yet – we still have Wilmington, Cleveland and Anchorage ahead, but it definitely feels like we are out of the thick of winter. Before we know it, we’ll be on the beach in Los Angeles!

Chicago, Week Two.

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.

Outside the Art Institute

Outside the Art Institute

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!

Hanging out with Lauren

Hanging out with Lauren

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.

Scott at Kasey's

Scott at Kasey's

Terry

Terry

Jeff and Candy

Jeff and Candy

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.

At the Lodge

At the Lodge

Cara

Cara

Graham and Lyn

Graham and Lyn

Paula

Paula

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!

Carissa, the hostess

Carissa, the hostess

Candy

Candy

Angelina

Angelina

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!