Cross-Country Road Trip, Week 2.

Day 8:  St. Paul, MN to Sobieski, WI.

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

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

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

Day 9: Sobieski, WI.

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

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

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Day 10: Sobieski, WI.

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

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

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

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Tallulah on a kitty hike

Day 11: Sobieski, WI.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lauren

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

Carolyn, wearing her in-progress knit hat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On the rooftop in Harlem

Lasts

The past week and a half has been all about lasts for me. Last city. Last load-in. Last sound check. The goodbyes have started, the packing has started, the cards from the creatives are arriving. Its weird. But, I’m also ready for this journey to be over, as I think most everyone is. I will miss a lot of things about my life out here – the people, the job, the travel, the paycheck – but it’s time to move on to something else. This is by far the most performances I have ever done of one show – I think I’m at around 11oo performances now. Before this, the most I had ever done of a show was I think about 200 performances. I would be lying if I told you I would miss “Spamalot” the show – I love it, but after 1100 performances, I am pretty bored. I’m ready to be challenged by something new.

So, the Costa Mesa stop, for me, has been all about tying up loose ends, readying my trunk for shipping, gathering all the items I think I’ll need over the next few weeks before I see my trunk again, including my winter coat and snow boots! I think by the time I get back to New York I will have missed fall entirely this year. I have a feeling I’m going to be going straight from the summery weather of California and Texas, to winter in Wisconsin and Chicago and New York. I am driving back to NYC, taking two weeks, and visiting some friends along the way. As of right now my schedule is: Huntington Beach to Scottsdale, Scottsdale to Las Cruces, Las Cruces to San Antonio, San Antonio to Houston. Two days in Houston visiting Fran and Tanya who will be there with the “Mary Poppins” tour. Then Houston to Wichita, Wichita to St. Paul, St. Paul to Sobieksi – where I’ll stay with Ryan for four days at his house. Then Sobieski to Chicago, where hopefully I’ll catch up with Flickr friends Lauren and Carolyn, and then Chicago to somewhere in Pennsylvania, then PA to New York City. All by November 1st. Whew. Had to go out with a bang, right?

So, back to Costa Mesa. We are playing the Orange County PAC where I saw “Jekyll and Hyde” while I was in college, with my voice teacher at the time, Sandie. It seemed like an enormous theater then, and now it doesn’t seem so big to me, but it is nice and spacious in comparison to other places we have played – a nice theater to end with. I was so happy to complete some of my load-in tasks for the last time, namely directional signs – which can be so tedious in some of the labyrinth-type theaters (Orange County PAC is one of those). I will be happy to take a break from killing a tree every Tuesday in copy paper.

Early on in the day, Ken, Jovon and I found some Spam can costumes in a rehearsal hall, left over from a press event, so we absconded with them, and wore them to sound check, to everyone’s delight. They ended up becoming a novelty item, being passed around through the cast, everyone taking turns wearing them during the sound check.

Ben and Merle sound checking "Song That Goes"

Ben and Merle sound checking "Song That Goes"

Find Your Grail

Find Your Grail

Ben Whiteley conducting the final sound check

Ben Whiteley conducting the final sound check

Wednesday was Ken’s (the PSM, my boss) last day. Ken is starting work on a new musical called “Wonderland”, which is doing experimental runs in Tampa and Houston, with an eye on Broadway. It was so strange saying goodbye to Ken, who has been with “Spamalot” since the very beginning. It even seems now like he’s on vacation, rather than really gone. Jovon organized a party for Ken, after the show, at Mastro’s steakhouse. Almost everyone came out to say goodbye to him. Ken got really choked up making a speech at the party about how proud he is of the family our whole company has always been. Its such a rare thing to have a company – from actors, to crew, to musicians, to management, all genuinely enjoy spending time with each other – both onstage and off. Ken was definitely a leader in guiding the company in that direction, and he should be proud of that. I got teary when he thanked Jovon and I. Its been so nice working on a team and in an office that is happy and full of laughter 95% of the time. It makes such a difference in wanting to go to work, and being happy there. I hope I get more opportunities of working with such great teams in the future.

The rest of the week was spent doing more packing, and more reflecting on what a great experience this has been.

Our official closing notice was posted. Carissa threw a farewell, thank you shot night.

The closing notice

The closing notice

Carissa's shot night

Carissa's shot night

Over the weekend I took some more photos of the show – I wanted to try and get some shots of some of our newer cast members, but also just want to get in all the shooting I can while I have the chance! What will I take pictures of when this is all over? Its been an amazing photographic opportunity – and to have had the freedom to shoot whatever and whenever I want has been great. I’m so thankful to all my coworkers for allowing me!

Nikki Della Penta, one of our newer showgirls

Nikki Della Penta, one of our newer showgirls

Can Can girls

Can Can girls

Bows

Bows

In keeping with tradition of “never a dull moment”, the weekend of shows was no exception. We had a number of people out and then Matthew Greer, who plays Lancelot, injured his leg at the Saturday matinee, so we had to put Tera-Lee on one last time (hopefully!) in a male ensemble track, to cover David Havasi, who understudies Lance. Its always fun when Tera is on as a guy, and her husband was in town, so he was able to come and see her “butch it up”. Sunday night was Cara Cooper’s last show (one of our ensemble girls). Cara has a wedding to go so she unfortunately she has to miss the final week of shows. She has been with the company for almost two years and it was sad to have to say goodbye to her early.

On Monday night it was time for a little fun. Mitchell and Paula hosted the second “Hell Party” (the first being in Dallas in 2007). They went all out decorating their rental house for Halloween, and everyone did an amazing job coming up with costumes. It was a really fun night – a great way to let off some stress and be together one more time before the final week of shows.

Angela Dittmar-Lykins

Angela Dittmar-Lykins

Jason Goldsberry

Jason Goldsberry

Roy Turpin

Roy Turpin

Mitchell Beck

Mitchell Beck

Steven Wenslawski

Steven Wenslawski

The weather this week has turned windy and rainy. Its the perfect weather for staying indoors and watching a movie – or in my case, getting my hair done, (which I did on Tuesday), getting a massage (Monday’s activity) and catching up on blogging. I’m hoping the weather is good enough tomorrow for my final hike with Suzanne. Friday will be all about packing and cleaning the apartment, and then we have the final weekend of shows.

An overcast day at the Huntington Beach

An overcast day at the Huntington Beach

Not much time left now – just trying to savor every moment. And gearing up for life back in New York!

Finally…home to San Francisco

There was a mix-up with the plane flight to San Francisco, and the day before we were set to leave, I found out that Tallulah would not be allowed to fly on the Frontier flight that I was booked on. Some last minute ticket-changing was done, and as luck would have it, Tallulah and I ended up in first class on a United Airlines flight to Oakland! The ticket was surprisingly cheap, and since overweight bags are allowed (without charge) for first class passengers, it actually ended up being less expensive for me to fly first class rather than coach (where I would have had to pay for my overweight bags). I had never flown first class before, and it was a real treat – lots of room, drinks constantly being served, and a yummy lunch!

Mary (one of my best friends from high school) met me at the airport and drove me to my rental apartment in San Francisco. The lower unit in an old Victorian (my boss, Ken, is renting the upper unit), my apartment is spacious, bright and gorgeous. I love it. After getting unpacked, Mary took me to Trader Joe’s to get some groceries, and then we drove over to North Beach where we had dinner at the Stinking Rose and drinks at Specs. It was great seeing Mary – I have missed her so much!

Chianti bottles at the Stinking Rose

Chianti bottles at the Stinking Rose

Mary

Mary

The next day my parents and my brother Simon came by and had lunch with me at Chow. It was lovely to see them. That evening I joined the crew at the Golden Gate Theater for load-in.

The Golden Gate is dear to me in that it is the theater where I saw my first touring Broadway show – “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1989, starring Topol. There is another tour of “Fiddler” out right now, still starring Topol! The Golden Gate is in a nasty part of town – the Tenderloin – which has gotten so much worse than I remember it. Maybe I was just ignorant or oblivious when I lived and worked in San Francisco a few years ago, but I don’t remember ever thinking the Tenderloin was dangerous – just kind of skeevy. Now I think it’s dangerous. There was a drive-by shooting outside the Golden Gate a couple of weeks ago. Apparently when there is no show in residence, the area around the theater is really, really bad. While a show is in performance there is security, a big police presence, and a lot of street light. I guess when the lights go out and the security and police go home, its a different story. There is talk of trying to clean up the area and make a real “theater district” by opening some restaurants nearby – but two of the city’s largest soup kitchens are within blocks of both the Golden Gate Theater and the Orpheum, so I don’t know how realistic that plan is, unfortunately. I remember after I visited New York City the first time, I was amazed at how few homeless people I saw – only a couple of people here and there on the subway. In San Francisco the homeless presence is huge – it always has been, and sadly, it still is.

We spent the next couple of days at the theater continuing the load-in, and doing a little bit of re-tech and rehearsal. For this engagement and for the next one in Los Angeles, the producers have beefed up our lighting and sound package, and restored our full orchestra (you might remember that we downsized the orchestra last year in West Point). So we spent some time looking at light cues, reprogramming, and on Thursday, we did a full dress rehearsal in the afternoon so that the cast could perform the show with the restored orchestration before having to do it in front of an audience. It also gave Linda Lee, our new wardrobe supervisor, a chance to go through the show with the local dressers. It actually proved to be very valuable on all fronts as all departments had a trial run before the first performance. It made our first preview on Friday very low stress as the local crew already had a clue about what they were meant to be doing.

There were some familiar faces at load-in. I had been wondering if any stagehands who I had worked with previously at ACT might be around. Denise, who had worked as assistant sound at the Geary, is now the house sound head at the Golden Gate – it was really nice to see her. The first person I ran into though, was Paul, my friend Regina’s husband (Regina was a stage manager who I assisted at ACT – now she works for the local producing organization), who was standing at the stage door when I arrived on Tuesday night. Paul is on our crew as one of our local spot operators. I also knew one of the riggers on the load-in, Cheyenne, who I had done “High Society” with in 1997 – and who I hadn’t seen since. I cannot believe it’s been twelve years since I worked on that show!

In between rehearsal and load-in, I did have some time off. On Thursday night I went to one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, La Mediterranee, for some middle eastern food, and on Friday afternoon I walked over to North Beach and spent some time at Cafe Puccini, and then went to Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Shop, where I had one of their amazing breaded eggplant sandwiches. Of course, I was thinking of and missing Michele the whole time. We spent so much time together in that neighborhood back in the day – I really wish she were here now as well! Earlier that day I walked over to 24th Street in Noe Valley to pick up shampoo at the Aveda store, and I happened upon Noe Knit, a yarn store. I went inside and started talking to Susie, the woman who was working there – and it turns out that she knows my friend, Patty, from when Patty worked in SF on “Jersey Boys” and attended the Chicks with Sticks knitting group. Susie is also a member of the 365 group on Flickr. Such a small world!

North Beach

North Beach

Mario's

Mario's

The best damn sandwich on the planet

The best damn sandwich on the planet

We had our first performance of “Spamalot” on Friday night – and it was an amazing audience – in fact all of our preview audiences were fantastic. It was a four show weekend, with lots of creatives in attendance – we had designers there earlier in the week and then Casey, our choreographer, and Todd, our musical supervisor were at the show on Friday. BT, our associate director, and Eric Idle would arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Monday was the day off. Mary and Erika drove into the city and we had lunch together at the Dolores Park Cafe. After sufficiently stuffing ourselves, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to Mill Valley, and into the hills to Muir Woods. It was Memorial Day, so the park was a tad crowded, but we still had a nice walk through the redwoods. I love Muir Woods – so pretty, and so peaceful – even with the crowds. After our hike we drove back to my neighborhood and got in line for some ice cream at the Bi-Rite Creamery. It was a half hour wait, but well worth it. Their homemade ice cream is DE-licious. I had salted caramel and roasted banana. Yum!

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

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Wednesday was our official opening night performance. It went very well, and was followed by a fun party at the Hotel Monaco. It was nice to feel the rush of a big opening again. Eric Idle and John du Prez got up on stage with the cast during the curtain call and joined in the sing-a-long. We were all allowed one guest to the show and party, and so my college friend Katherine was my “plus one”. We had a really nice time at the party, and I’m looking forward to getting together again with Katherine so that we can catch up properly.

Jeff and Alexa at the opening night party

Jeff and Alexa at the opening night party

Chris and Lyn at the party

Chris and Lyn at the party

I took it easy on Thursday and Friday, catching up on things like laundry and grocery shopping, and restoring my computer after I had a new, bigger hard drive installed. I spent some of Thursday afternoon walking around the Mission district, and on Friday I met up with Julie Haber, a stage manager who I worked with at ACT, for lunch. It was so nice seeing Julie and hearing all about her current show which is playing at Berkeley Rep, and catching up on what we’ve been up to the last couple of years. Julie is also a very talented photographer, so it was fun talking nerdy photography stuff with her.

I sit here now, writing this blog, on Saturday night – when I should be at work. However, Ken decided that he was going to call both shows today, so he gave Jovon and I each a show off. What a luxury! I stayed and worked the matinee while Jovon took off, and then I was free after the matinee. I walked over to North Beach and then down to the Wharf, and then back to North Beach for dinner, and then home to watch a movie and blog. Lovely! And shortly I will be off to bed as my parents are coming over early for brunch before they go to see the matinee of “Wicked”.

Cable cars down near the wharf

Cable cars down near the wharf

I can’t even express how happy I am to be “home”. I keep running into people I know and I love. I had drinks with Ruth Saunders on Tuesday night (Ruth used to work at ACT) and ran into some of the Geary stage crew as I was walking to meet her. Andrea, who was the wardrobe supervisor at ACT my first year there, stopped by the Golden Gate stage door on Wednesday to say hi. I saw my friend Regina over at the Shorenstein-Hayes offices (the local presenters) when I was there to pick up the mail. It is just great being back in a place where I have so many amazing friends. And I am looking so forward to seeing all of them in the coming weeks! I am trying to savor every moment – I just hope the time doesn’t go by too fast!

A Busy Week in Wilmington

We flew to Philadelphia from Atlanta (luckily on time and without incident this week), and then took a bus to Wilmington from Philly. I had smartly decided to fly with the cast this week, which meant being able to sleep in a bit. Last week’s 6am flight did me in, and I was in no rush to get to Wilmington. It was a little bittersweet driving out of Philly. Couldn’t we at least stop at get some lunch at Alma de Cuba??? It was a short bus ride out of Pennsylvania and into Delaware, and soon we arrived at our hotel in downtown Wilmington. It was fairly late in the day so I stayed in for the evening and ordered room service.

Jen and her dog, Bella, on the bus to Wilmington

Jen and her dog, Bella, on the bus to Wilmington

Its a good thing that travel day was relatively stress free, because I needed all my patience to deal with load-in on Tuesday. We were playing the DuPont Theater, a very small theater (only 1200 seats) which is part of the DuPont Hotel. The backstage was very tight, and the auxiliary areas – dressing rooms and basement were also very small. It was definitely the tightest overall space we have played to date. Although the stage was smaller in Sioux City, the dressing room areas there were quite spacious. Everything about the Wilmington theater was small. Couple that with the fact that the building had no elevator and everything had to be chain motored or carried to the different levels, and then top it off with all the crazy safety rules enforced by the local crew, and we had quite a tough situation on our hands.

We all spent the day running around, working to make the show fit. Our office for the week was a corner of a room in the basement behind some of the hair work boxes. We called the show from a catwalk. Scenery was piled everywhere, and there was no room for all the wardrobe. We were all just on top of each other the whole week. I have to admit, though, once we figured out how to make it work, I sort of liked the space. It reminded me of a Broadway house. Most of those Broadway theaters are ridiculously small backstage and often the dressing rooms and offices are the size of a closet. The DuPont reminded me of that. It was definitely cozy.

To make things even crazier, John O’Hurley, who played the King in the Las Vegas production of “Spamalot”, and who you probably know as the current host of “Family Feud”, joined us to start rehearsals. He is taking over the role of King Arthur in Anchorage. He had a music rehearsal in the lobby with Ben and Michael after the orchestra finished their rehearsal. Also joining us on Tuesday, was Tera-Lee, who was our associate dance captain up until she left in Toronto. She decided to return to us when Candy put in her notice, and we couldn’t be happier. She is such a nice, happy presence in the company. It was so great to see her again.

So the evening approached quickly – we had no onstage crossover, the boys were changing in the basement, it was a crazy night – but we managed to get through the opening performance without anything tragic happening. We were all beyond exhausted though when it was all over, and so everyone convened at the hotel bar afterward for some much needed libations!

No rest for the weary, though – on Wednesday we had two shows. In between, Ryan and I ate at the Washington Street Ale House, a cute pub a few blocks away, which had a nice menu and quite a few beers on tap. We also discovered two good coffee shops nearby – Brew Ha Ha, and Presto (which was also open on the weekend – a rarity in this town).

On Thursday I was up at the crack of dawn to catch the Amtrak into New York City. I had two doctors’ check-ups and a dentist appointment scheduled. I felt slightly bad because Casey Nicholaw, our choreographer, and Todd Ellison, our music supervisor were in town for rehearsal, but I had had these appointments scheduled for ages, and without knowing when I would be back on the east coast, I knew I needed to just get them done. I also had to get up to my storage unit in Inwood to drop a few things off, meet up with Patty at the Lion Brand Studio, go to the bank, and meet up with Richard for dinner. Whew. Somehow though, everything went super smoothly all day long – and I didn’t have to wait at all at any of my appointments, so I also ended up having time to go to Central Park –  and do a little shopping. I stopped by B&H Camera and picked up a telephoto lens to be put to use in Alaska!

Heading to the dentist on 57th Street

Heading to the dentist on 57th Street

Playing with my new telephoto lens in Central Park

Playing with my new telephoto lens in Central Park

Times Square

Times Square

A wall of yarn at the Lion Brand Studio

A wall of yarn at the Lion Brand Studio

I spent the night at the Edison Hotel on 47th. I have eaten at the Edison Cafe a million times and have hung out at the bar, but have never stayed there. It kind of cracked me up – it is a really old hotel – very clean, but old – and very old fashioned. It felt like a classic New York rooming house from the 50’s. I actually really kind of liked it. I slept with my windows wide open so that I could see the city lights and hear the traffic. I miss the city so much.

I was up early again for one more appointment and had a bit of time of walk through Central Park again afterward. I am physically unable to be in New York City without going to Central Park. It is my absolute favorite thing about the city. I ate some fruit and yogurt for breakfast just outside the Delacorte Theater, where I did Shakespeare in the Park for three summers.

Morning in Central Park

Morning in Central Park

And then it was time to head back downtown to Penn Station to catch the train back to Wilmington, where I went straight to the theater for John O’Hurley’s put-in, and then a show following. I was beat by the time the day was over!

The subway platform at 81st and Central Park West

The subway platform at 81st and Central Park West

Then it was on to our two-show Saturday, and a closing matinee on Sunday. As I write this, I am grateful for the Sunday evening off to catch up on blogging and emails and knitting. Thank god for hobbies, because there isn’t anything else to do in Wilmington! It was actually a blessing that the week was so busy because sadly, like so many other downtowns we have come across throughout the country, this one is pretty dead. There are a few good restaurants and things, but on the weekends everyone closes up shop. I walked around a little bit, and there is some nice architecture here – the brick buildings are in the colonial style, and the town feels a lot like Baltimore or Philadelphia. I only wish it had the charm and personality those cities do! Ah well, with all that was packed into the week, I wouldn’t have had time to experience it anyway.

Onward to Cleveland!

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!

Arkansas, Arkansas

Driving into Fayetteville was quite beautiful. I had spent the previous night in Oklahoma City en route from Albuquerque, and so only had a few short hours of driving to finish up on Monday. The roads were icy and so I had to take it slow, but despite the temperatures outside being near the single digits, there was no snow. As I neared Fayetteville, I had to take a two lane highway through a national forest. It was really, really pretty, and I’m sorry that I didn’t have more time during the week to return for some hiking and picture-taking.

After arriving and settling in at the hotel (a very nice Staybridge Suites), I drove back on that two-lane highway to the airport to return my rental car and to pick up the car rented for me by the company for the week. It’s amazing to me that there is even an airport in those parts, as it seemed so rural and remote, but it is also the main headquarters for Walmart, so there is indeed an airport in Bentonville, about thirty miles from Fayetteville. The nearest gas station I could find to the airport was three miles away, and had one pump. I had to go into the little shop next to it and tell the woman with no teeth who was working there how much gas I had pumped, in order to pay her. After doing the car switcharoo, I drove to a very nice outdoor mall to finish up some Christmas shopping and then back to the hotel in Fayetteville.

Near the airport in Bentonville - it was so, so cold!

Near the airport in Bentonville - it was so, so cold!

Fayetteville itself is a fairly typical suburban town – it has all your usual chain stores, including of course, Walmart. One of the locals told me that in the metro area, which has a population of about 400,000 and encompasses four towns, they have SIXTEEN Walmarts. Holy crap! I had some trouble finding a grocery store that night that wasn’t Walmart and so I had to pick up a few sundry items at Walgreens (which is unrelated to Walmart). Ryan would kill me if I shopped at Walmart – they are fiercely anti-union, which also explains why the theater we were playing, the Walton Center, was also non-union. The stagehands there said there was no way it would ever go union. It’s kind of sad for them, actually.

Fayetteville is also home to the University of Arkansas, so there were a lot of young people about, and there was a very cute strip of restaurants and bars downtown across from the theater, which obviously caters to the students.

The theater itself was really nice. It is fairly new, and after Sioux City, all the space seemed like a luxury. There weren’t many dressing rooms, so all the principals had to share one big room, but other than that, we fit just fine. The locals were really nice, some more on top of their game than others, but opening went swimmingly. Esther, who plays the Lady of the Lake, grew up in Fayetteville, and her family still lives down the street from the theater. Needless to say, she is a kind of a hometown hero, and every performance last week was sold out, largely due to her. She received entrance applause every night.

Outside the theater there is randomly this statue of a knitter!

Outside the theater there is randomly this statue of a knitter!

After the opening night performance, we all gathered at Esther’s parents’ house for a party. It was a nice gathering, and Esther’s homemade fudge was a hit!

The main event for the remainder of the week was Secret Santa! The festivities commenced on Tuesday, and all week people were running around, sneakily delivering gifts, and trying to figure out who had who. My Secret Santa went all out, decorating my spot at work, and leaving me treats every day.

I finished making my final Secret Santa gift, this hat - can you guess who the recipient is?

I finished making my final Secret Santa gift, this hat - can you guess who the recipient is?

It really was a week of preparation for Christmas. I didn’t even really take any photos. I would have liked to have gone to see the little museum in Bill and Hilary Clinton’s old house, which is all about them and their legacy, but with Christmas shopping and an understudy rehearsal on Thursday, there just wasn’t time.

On Friday, I went to Target and bought a bunch of gifts for a family that we (stage management and company management) had adopted in Des Moines for Christmas. Tim Connell headed up the shopping for one family, and then in lieu of giving the company gifts from us this holiday, we managers decided to instead adopt a second family. Shopping for them was loads of fun, and I only wish I could see their faces when they open all the dozens of gifts we bought them on Christmas morning. We spent the whole weekend wrapping gifts and loading them into a trunk for travel to Des Moines.

We closed on Sunday night and Monday I boarded the bus for the very long ride to Des Moines. It was a low-key, but productive week – sometimes those are the best kind!

Merry Christmas to all!

Me, at the town square, checking out all the lights!

Me, at the town square, checking out all the lights!

Poo City, Iowa

I only call it that because there are four things in Sioux City which lead to the unfortunate smell of poo in the air at all times – 2 slaughter houses, a dog food factory and a gelatin factory. Ahhhh. Luckily it has been beyond freezing this week, so the smell has not been as bad as it is in the summer, so the locals say.

I rented a car in Pittsburgh and spent two days driving to Sioux City. We were opening on Wednesday night so it gave me a bit of extra time to get there. The drive was nice – so much less hassle than the airport. I had stocked up my iPhone with some audio books (Chelsea Handler’s “Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea” is hilarious!) and music and podcasts and the time passed quickly as I listened to different things. The weather was a bit sketchy around South Bend, Indiana – some very heavy snow – but once I hit Chicago it all cleared up. I spent Monday night at a really nice Residence Inn in Davenport, Iowa, and set off again (with Tallulah in tow) on Tuesday morning. Tuesday was an easy day of driving – about five hours to Sioux City, and the weather was gorgeous. The sky in the midwest is so pretty – so blue and the clouds are wispy, and the contrast to the yellow flat prairie makes for great photos!

Iowa prairie

Iowa prairie

At a rest stop

At a rest stop

I also enjoyed long phone chats with Tiffany and Tanya while I was driving, both of whom I am going to see next week on our layoff! It was nice spending the time catching up with them.

Once I reached Sioux City and checked into the hotel, I trekked over to Target and picked up some snacks for the hotel room. I was really tired, so I picked up some dinner and spent the night in the room watching TV and chilling out.

I heard a bit about the theater from Ryan when he got home on Tuesday night. We had all been anticipating this load-in for weeks – because our show does not fit into the Orpheum Sioux City. Our set is 33 feet deep. The stage depth at the Orpheum is 29 feet. When I arrived at the theater on Wednesday morning, I could see what a rough week it was going to be . We had to cut four feet out of our show deck downstage, which meant also losing four feet in the air, so a number of hanging pieces of scenery had to be cut as well. As we lost four feet of deck downstage, we lost the downstage automation track (which isn’t used for automated scenery anymore, but scenery still rides in it manually) – so all the scenery that usually rides in that track had to be cut. The wings were also incredibly tight, making storage difficult. Stage left was not big enough to accommodate our big castle riding off for the “Lady of the Lake” number, so that move had to be cut. Essentially our show in Sioux City is being performed mostly on an empty stage.

The dressing rooms strangely enough are some of the nicest ones we have had in a while though!

Wednesday went slowly up on deck as the crew worked to squeeze the show in. It wasn’t until an hour before sound check that everything that was going to fit was in the building. We spent that hour brainstorming and figuring out what staging would need to be modified. We used our sound check hour more as a spacing rehearsal than a sound check, and ran through numbers that could be problematic. Miraculously, the show went quite smoothly, and the audience, small as it was, loved every second of it – which made all the hassle worthwhile. The audiences have been tiny all week, but everyone seems to love the show.

On Thursday, Ryan and I took advantage of having the rental car (I am keeping it throughout our layoff next week) and went back to Target to do some more shopping. We also hit the Lowe’s for some hardware to hang our bikes in the truck, and then went to Golden Corral for dinner. A regular suburban day! On Friday I spent the morning in Bank of America depositing all the money we raised for Broadway Cares – over $17,000! I had to wait while it was all recounted, which took almost an hour and a half. Ryan and I ran some more errands in the afternoon. We are all gearing up for Christmas, stocking up on gifts for our Secret Santas, and also for a couple of families that we have adopted in Des Moines for the holidays – as well as gifts for our own families and friends. I was happy to be able to accomplish some of that this week – and really, there’s not much sightseeing to be done in Sioux City anyway!  

One creepy thing that happened this week, was that a man shot himself in the parking lot of the downtown arena, right next to where Gary, our lead truck driver’s cab was parked. Gary saw the whole thing. It’s been all over the news this week. I guess it was all over some domestic dispute. Very scary. I’m glad Gary wasn’t hurt.

Counting the Broadway Cares money

Counting the Broadway Cares money

The main drag in Sioux City is Historic Fourth Street – which is where our hotel, the Clarion, is located. Historic Fourth Street sounds more exciting than it is. In reality, there is a movie theater, a few restaurants and a few bars. I wouldn’t want to spend a whole lot of time in Sioux City, but a week has been fine. We ate at a nice Mexican place on Friday, and hung out at one of the local bars one night. It has been a pretty low-key week. Strangely, but wonderfully enough, of all things downtown, there is a nice yarn store across the street from the Orpheum stage door called Susan’s Yarn Garden! I bought a few skeins to make my Secret Santa something.

Now we are winding down the stay here. I am looking very forward to next week – we have a week off before our next stop – so I am driving to Denver to stay the night with Tiffany and her daughter, Ava, on Monday, and then on Tuesday, continuing on to Albuquerque to spend the week with Tanya. It will be so nice to spend the week relaxing with friends! Our next stop after that is Fayetteville, Arkansas, the hometown of Esther, our Lady of the Lake. And after that, Des Moines for Christmas. I can’t believe how fast the time flies!

Toronto

So. Toronto. Well, first of all, I got into the country. Which is good. It was a long drive and I was so tired, I had to pull over for a nap at one point. When I finally got to the border I was called into the immigration office for questioning, but when I opened the door, there were two other members of the “Spamalot” company sitting in there. Turns out they called us all in. After a few questions they let me through.  When I finally drove into Toronto and got to the rental house, I was exhausted. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with the eccentric landlady that greeted me or the fact that the internet wasn’t working, but luckily all that got ironed out within a day or two and I was able to start enjoying Toronto.

The house we are in is a little on the kooky side – its all bright colors and arty furniture and strange paintings, but the light it gets is amazing, and it is so nice having a deck and backyard to look out onto, even if it is a bit too cold to hang out there now. We’ve been spending a good deal of time at the house cooking and watching movies, which has been nice, especially since the one-weekers are about to ramp up again and the days of kitchens and living rooms will soon be a thing of the past.

The theater, the Canon, is downtown right near Dundas Square. It’s an old, kind of dumpy theater, with a very, very small backstage. There is absolutely no onstage crossover – our castle butts all the way up against the back wall, so I spent a good deal of time during load-in marking out how to get from stage right to stage left through the basement and drawing up a list of modifications the actors would have to make in their usual backstage traffic patterns. Despite the tight space, opening went fine – and the run has proceeded without anything unusual to report. The houses have been small. I don’t know if its because “Spamalot” played here already (two years ago, before I joined the tour) or if its a sign of the bad economy. Either way, the small houses have been a bit of a downer.

On our first day off in town, we had a pretty lazy day, but did get out for a bike ride to Queen Street West, which is a shopping district, and home to quite a few yarn stores! I passed two, Romni and Americo, which I made a plan to return to another day when I had a bit more time and a plan in mind as to what I wanted to buy. The following day we ventured out to the Distillery District, which is fairly close to where we are staying in South Riverdale. The Distillery District is where booze was manufactured during the Prohibition to be sold to the U.S. All the factory buildings still exist, but now house galleries and shops and restaurants. It’s a very cool area. They were filming a Mini Cooper commercial while we were there and had a big fly rig constructed to hoist these actors dressed like ninjas into the Minis. It was all very strange!

Distillery District

Distillery District

On the second Wednesday in town, we had two shows – which we hardly ever do. It was weird and exhausting to have a two-show day in the middle of the week, but it always pays off on Sunday when we are done after the matinee. 

Atop the CN Tower

Atop the CN Tower

On Friday we visited the CN Tower, which is currently the tallest free-standing structure in the world. It was a bit strange looking out and not seeing any special monuments or mountains like you do atop the Space Needle or the Washington monument, but it was very clear out and the views were pretty amazing. It was fun to walk on the glass floor too – it kind of messes with your head a bit to be able to see through to the ground way down below you!

Since we only had one show on Sunday, Cuz, our sound guy, hosted a BBQ at his rental house in East Toronto. The house he is staying in is pretty great – big with a backyard.  Cuz made all kinds of delicious skewers and an entire cooler filled with corn on the cob. So, so good. Jamie Karen (she was one of our ensemble girls when I first joined the tour) and her husband Mark showed up – it was great to see them. Jamie is touring in “Jersey Boys” which is also currently playing Toronto. We had fun hanging out and eating and eating and eating. 

Ben enjoying some corn at Cuz's

Ben enjoying some corn at Cuz's

The following day Ryan and I took our bikes on the ferry to the Toronto islands. We biked all around the islands, which are beautiful and strange, all at the same time. Centre Island has no residents, and houses a small amusement park. This time of year the amusement park is closed, and it was a bit like a ghost town. There was a little farm with animals that was still open though, and we ran into Patrick and his girlfriend Abby there as we tooled around looking at the pigs and goats and geese. On one of the other islands, there is a small community of houses where people live year-round. It looks like kind of an artists community – the houses are all colorfully painted and some look like little gingerbread houses. There are no cars allowed on the islands, so everybody bikes. I think it would be hard to live somewhere where you had to take a boat to even get to the grocery store.

After spending the afternoon biking around, we took the ferry back to mainland Toronto and went over to the Distillery District for dinner. 

My loot

My loot

On Tuesday Ryan and I biked over to the Kensington Market area and checked things out. It is kind of hippie/ethnic area with some cool shops and restaurants. We had some yummy tacos and then stopped by three yarn stores on the west side before heading home. I wasn’t too impressed with Lettuce Knit, which I found to be tiny with not much stock that I hadn’t seen before. Romni Wools was huge and jam-packed. I spent about $150 in there on some malabrigo sock yarn to make a sweater (on very small needles, I know!). The last store I went to was Americo – a beautiful store that makes all their own yarns. All the fiber was very expensive in there so I only bought two skeins, to make a couple of hats.

The rest of the week was pretty lazy – we had a couple of new actors arrive to join the show – Candy and Carissa are joining our female ensemble, taking over for Tera-Lee and Bree, and Matthew takes over the role of Lancelot from Patrick after Toronto. So, when I wasn’t in rehearsal, I just kind of took it easy around the house.

On Thursday night Ryan and I went back to the Distillery District to get some beers and perogies, and when we came out afterwards, we found that Ryan’s bike had been stolen. Someone cut through my lock with bolt cutters and took his bike and left mine! Ryan filled out a police report, but nothing has been found. So, unfortunately it looks like Ryan is going to have to buy a new bike. Oh well. Enough with the thievery already!

Yesterday was our third Monday off here. Patrick, who leaves the show at the end of the week, threw a party on the roof of his building to go out in style! It was an amazing space with an incredible view of the CN Tower. Cuz barbecued and we had a blast drinking beers and hanging out. After the BBQ, I went to my first hockey game with Ryan, Matt and Scott! It was really fun!

Adam and Patrick at the BBQ

Adam and Patrick at the BBQ

Sarah Lin, Paula and Darryl on the roof

Sarah Lin, Paula and Darryl on the roof

Matt and Scott at the hockey game

Matt and Scott at the hockey game

So that’s the recap of Toronto so far. It’s a fun city – a lot like New York, very urban. It doesn’t have the beauty of a city like Vancouver or Seattle or the historical sights of a town like Philadelphia,  but definitely has some interesting neighborhoods and things to do, and lots and lots of good shopping!

The show seems to be going through a bit of flux right now with people leaving, and people wanting to leave. The small houses have been kind of demoralizing, as well as the canceled shows in Hartford. I’m hoping with some new faces around, some new energy will be infused into the company. It’s hard to stay happy and positive when there are a few people around who are so unhappy. Or when the people who are leaving are so happy to be leaving. I just have to remind myself how lucky I am to have a job like this, especially when the economy is so bad. So many Broadway shows are closing or not opening at all, and there are hardly any new tours going out. I try not take anything for granted. But sometimes it’s hard.

Anyway, that’s all for now – more soon as we wrap up the Canada leg and head back to the States!

What a Week.

Last Saturday in Philadelphia, while at dinner with Roy and Jaki, my purse was stolen. We were in an Irish pub and it was a little crazy in there as the Phillies game was on, so I didn’t think anything of it when the lady sitting behind me bumped my chair. When I turned around to grab my purse a couple of minutes later to pay the bill, and realized it was gone, I knew immediately that she had taken it.

Jaki ran down the street and tried to stop the woman who was jumping into a cab. The stagehands outside the theater said they had seen her hand something off to a guy who had taken off down Broad Street. We called the cops, filed a report, walked around looking in trash cans for a while, but in the end I gave up and went back to the theater to start the long process of canceling EVERYTHING. The biggest problem was not the credit cards, or the money, or even the fact that my cell phone and i-pod had been snatched, but that my passport and green card  were in my purse. And we were leaving for Canada in one week.

This last week has been completely engulfed in dealing with the Great Stolen Purse Caper of ’08.

The first two shows of the following week, which we were playing in Hartford, were canceled due to lack of ticket sales, so to save on labor costs over Labor Day, the load-out in Philly was postponed until Tuesday. Ryan’s birthday was Tuesday, so we took advantage of the Monday off to celebrate his day, and also to do some purse reconnaissance. We went to the police station, where I got a copy of the police report, I bought a new phone (an i-phone!), and I went to Kinkos to get some new passport photos taken. That night was all about Ryan’s birthday. After a long bike ride up the Schuykill River, we had a lovely dinner at Alma de Cuba.

Consolation Prize

Consolation Prize

The next day I was on a 6:52am train to New York to be at the DMV when it opened to get a new driver’s license. Complicating the fact that I now had no ID to get across the border to Canada, I also had been planning on driving, so I needed to get a temporary license in a hurry. The DMV was surprisingly painless and I was in and out in fifteen minutes, which just doesn’t happen, especially in New York. After that I went to Citibank to close all my accounts and re-open new ones (my checkbook was also in my purse). I was on a noon train back to Philly, checked out of my apartment by 3:00pm and on a tour bus to Hartford with the crew by 5pm. We arrived in Hartford that night around 10pm. I was pooped.

On Wednesday I had an appointment at the immigration office in Hartford. I knew it was a long shot as everything has to be processed in your place of residence, but New York’s immigration office doesn’t take appointments, and I needed to figure out what to do. Now, I have had some terrible experiences in immigration offices (seeing a man thrown to the floor by security for defending his wife who was being berated for having nail clippers in her purse was one of the worst sights I have ever seen). Luckily, I was helped by an angel of an immigration officer in Hartford, who took pity on me as I broke down in tears at her window. She sent me back to the hotel to e-file my form for a new green card and pay for it online, and then I came back to her with a receipt and a copy of my work contract and she gave me a temporary green card good for six months! When my file is processed, I will eventually be summoned to New York and will have to go no matter where I am, but for the time being, I should be okay to get into Canada and  hopefully back. I am so thankful and grateful to that woman officer for being a superior, kind, human being!!

That afternoon I rehearsed a new ensemble guy, Lenny, along with our dance captains, at Hartford Stage’s rehearsal studio. Michael Wilson and Jeremy Cohen, the artistic director and associate artistic director, stopped in to see me. It was so, so nice to see them and made me feel so good that they still want me to come back at work with them sometime. I would love to! And it made me feel so appreciated and so “worth” something, if that makes sense. It’s nice to be reminded of your worth every once in a while. It really made for a great day, seeing the two of them.

On Thursday we finished loading in the show and opened with our new King Arthur, Jonathan Hadary. Jonathan is a very different king from Michael Siberry and Gary, but I like him! It’s nice having a new energy in the show. The crew in Hartford is much the same as the last time we were there. They are super strict when it comes to the “rules” and can be very loud backstage, but they are generally a good group of stagehands, and it was a smooth opening. It helped having the two same prop guys as the last time we were in town.

On Friday I did some more purse reconnaissance. My birth certificate arrived. A credit card arrived! Phew, I have the necessary items now to rent a car.

On Saturday, the storm Hanna hit. It was torrential rain and really gusty winds. Ryan and I got soaked walking back to the Hilton after the show. This morning, Sunday, we arrived back at the theater for the matinee, to find the place totally without power. A transformer had blown up during the storm, leaving even the generator useless. So, both shows were canceled. We took the actors in groups with flashlights to clean up their dressing rooms and pack their trunks. We packed up our office in the dark. Another generator was sent over to provide enough power for the guys to load out the show. I spent the afternoon back at the hotel doing laundry and then had dinner with Ken and Karl. We stopped by the theater again after dinner and the crew were doing great getting everything packed up in semi-darkness.

Show canceled

Show canceled

It has been the most surreal week.

So wish me luck as I set off for Toronto tomorrow. Hopefully I can get across the border without too much hassle. Fingers crossed.

And once I am there I am going straight to Roots to buy another purse. Take that, purse-nappers!