Baltimore

I was super excited to get back to Baltimore as it was one of my favorite stops on the “Spamalot” tour, almost four years ago. I left Pittsburgh early in order to get to Baltimore in time for lunch. I checked into the Hotel Monaco and promptly headed over to Lexington Market to get a crabcake from Faidleys, which supposedly has the “best crabcake in Baltimore”. It did not disappoint. Yum, yum, yum.

I walked around for a while – revisiting the graveyard where Edgar Allan Poe is buried and headed down to the Inner Harbor to walk around and take some photos. It was just as I remembered it 🙂 It was also freezing! I ended up back at the hotel after a couple of hours, and when dinner time rolled around I couldn’t persuade myself to go back out into the cold, so I ordered room service.

Poe's grave

By the stadium

Water taxi at the Inner Harbor

At the Inner Harbor

Sunset at the Harbor

Self-portrait at the harbor

On Tuesday morning I headed over to the Hippodrome for load-in. Its a pretty big theater but laid out strangely. The theater is made up of three buildings that have been connected, so the dressing rooms are sort of spread out and maze-like to find. That being said, the backstage was plenty roomy for “Rock of Ages”, and we had a smooth opening night. After the opening night show, most of us headed over to Alewife – a pub across the street with tons of unique beers on tap. Alewife is great because they have a decent menu (mussels, yum!) and serve food late, so pretty much it became the outpost for our company for the week.

On Wednesday night after the show, our band and some of the actors,  known as “The Most Handsome Men in the World”, played a gig at Angel’s Rock Bar, a bar in the Power Plant Live area of the Inner Harbor. As always, it was fun watching the guys play – a few new people joined in onstage and the set list was changed up a bit from their previous gigs. It was a good time.

Sean and Nick

Joey

Jon, Rebecca and Lauralyn

Nick

Maddox

Patrick

MiG

Thursday I had understudy rehearsal, but after the show, I went to Fell’s Point to revisit Bertha’s Mussels, a favorite bar of ours on “Spamalot”. Unfortunately it was too late to order mussels, but it was fun hanging out at the bar and there was a nice jazz trio playing. Sadly the bumper sticker that Tony Pittsley crafted four years ago that said “Eat Your Spam at Bertha’s” was no longer hanging on the bar walls amidst all the other handcrafted bumper stickers.

Inside Bertha's

Bumper stickers at Bertha's

The bar at Bertha's

The next day I walked back over to Fell’s Point to take some photos. Fell’s Point is a really cute part of town – lots of brick rowhouses, and bars and restaurants and boutiques. I was trying to shoot some film with the Yashica camera I got off ebay this summer, but the shutter got jammed after about ten frames. Ah well. Luckily I had my digital camera with me too, so it didn’t stop me 🙂 Later in the afternoon, I ran into a couple of the girls from the show in a coffee shop in the neighborhood.

Brick houses in Fell's Point

Storefronts

Along the dock

Bar tables along the street

Outside a vintage shop

A random broken guitar in a vacant lot

Outside Bertha's Mussels

On the harbor

The weekend brought the usual four shows. Ken, Michael and I stuffed our faces with seafood between shows on Saturday at Phillips Seafood Buffet at the Inner Harbor. I think I successfully met my crab intake quotient for the year 🙂 Load-out on Sunday and then off to Columbus on Monday. I wish we had had more time in Baltimore – a day off there would have been great. Ah well. One more week until Christmas lay-off!

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Cabled Skinny Scarf

The skinny scarf is finally done! I started it in Tampa and for some reason it has taken forever to finally finish! The pattern is “Natty Scarf” from Knit and Tonic – I modified it to make a skinny version. The yarn is 100% alpaca from the Hidden Pines Alpaca Farm (www.hiddenpinesalpacas.com), bought at the New Jersey Sheep and Wool Festival. The label says it’s from an alpaca named Sammy!

Don’t you love my model?

 

J'Adore Baltimore


Of all the cities we have traveled to so far, Baltimore is the first city that I could see myself living in. I just love it. Although I probably would not protest too much about living in Fort Lauderdale either, Baltimore has such a vibrant personality, charming neighborhoods, bars with such character, and a fantastic waterfront – even Fort Lauderdale with its beautiful beaches, doesn’t have quite the charm of this town.

There has been a lot of hanging out in bars since we arrived here. The Radisson, where we are staying, has a pretty cool bar, so most nights we have been there, but there is also a great pub called Maggie Moore’s across from the theater where we have hung out a few times. The presenters here threw us an opening night party at Maggie Moore’s, where we all got complimentary shepherd’s pie as well as free drinks. There is a big Irish population here in Baltimore as far as I can tell with Irish pubs a-plenty, and the approach of St. Patrick’s Day is definitely felt. 

Keith, Steve and Tony at the Radisson bar

Keith, Steve and Tony at the Radisson bar

Maggie Moore's

Maggie Moore's

Last week I did quite a bit of walking around and exploring. The waterfront here, called the Inner Harbor, is a great shopping area and loaded with restaurants. The Aquarium is also there as well as a number of old boats which you can tour. The big Barnes and Noble (which I mentioned in my first Baltimore post) is also at the Inner Harbor, housed in an old red brick power plant building.

Fell’s Point is to the east of the harbor, and is filled with fun pubs and restaurants. There is also a cute yarn store there called A Good Yarn, where I picked up some yarn for a hat. Fell’s Point is filled with beautiful brick townhouses – and I looked online this morning, and rents are cheap! Only about $1000 for a two bedroom!

A Good Yarn

A Good Yarn

Fell's Point

Fell's Point

Irish bars in Fell's Point

Irish bars in Fell's Point

Fell's Point

Fell's Point

Harbor

Harbor

On Friday, Ryan and I went to check out the Mount Vernon neighborhood. There are tons of historic buildings there as well as the original Washington monument, which we climbed 228 steps to the top.

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Cool old church

Cool old church

View from the top of the monument

View from the top of the monument

The weekend was filled with four shows, which mostly went well. The theater here is really great in many respects. It is a large house, but intimate, so the audience feel very close, which is a good thing after all the mammoth performing arts centers we have been playing. The crowds have not been quite as raucous as the rock star houses we had in Atlanta and Memphis (who knew the south was filled with such Python fans?), but they have definitely been having a good time. The local stagehands here have been a challenge, very forgetful and a bit on cranky side, but luckily, so far, no huge mishaps backstage. Jaki and I butched it up and struck a piece of scenery the other night when the local carpenter was nowhere to be found, but other than that…nothing too tragic.

The clocks changed on Saturday night and with an early show anyway on Sunday, we were waiting to see who would be the one to miss the call. We thought it was strange when one of the actors, who is normally very early, hadn’t arrived at the theater by an hour before the show. Sure enough, shortly before half hour, that actor called in sick. Now, it is really bad form to wait until half hour to call in. If you’re going to do it, you should make sure you call in at least an hour and a half before curtain as that is when all the production departments are in readying for the show. For this actor to call in a half hour before curtain was very discourteous, to say the least. Her understudy had only had a half an hour to get herself ready, as well as the wardrobe crew, who had to run their asses off to change out all her costumes to the understudy’s. All this for what? Because this person woke up too late to spend two hours on make-up? Lame. AND said actor was back for the evening show on Sunday, so it was fairly apparent that there was no sickness involved in calling out. I’ll say no more about that.

Sunday night a group of us went back over to Fell’s Point to go to a bar called Bertha’s, which is known for it’s mussels. They give away bumper stickers that say “Eat Bertha’s Mussels”. Well, we got there, and wouldn’t you know, they were out of mussels! We had a good time anyway, with our crazy bartender Michelle. There were also a couple of old drunk Irish guys down the end of the bar that kept yelling “Ni!” all night once they heard we were from Spamalot. There are bumper stickers all over the walls of the bar that people have created by cutting up the Bertha’s stickers to say something else. Tony made one for us.

Tony making our sticker

Tony making our sticker

Crazy bartender Michelle

Crazy bartender Michelle

We finished the night at the Cat’s Eye Pub, where we listened to some good blues musicians play some tunes.

On Monday I headed to the Aquarium, which was not quite as impressive as the one in Atlanta, but did have dolphins, which I love.

Then I checked out the ‘hood of Federal Hill, which like Fell’s Point, is chock full of beautiful brick townhouses and cute restaurants and businesses.

Monday night was made complete by a delicious dinner at the Rusty Scupper, which is right next to Federal Hill Park. The crab cakes were amazing.

Yesterday I headed back to Fell’s Point for the third time with Ryan to get some sushi and check out the Baltimore Tattoo Museum. It was way cool! The museum is actually part of a tattoo shop and is a small display of the history of tattoo art in America, with bios on some of the prominent artists over the last century and examples of their work. Very cool.

After the museum, we had a bit of time to grab some coffee at the Daily Grind, a coffee house in Fell’s Point, and for me to catch up on a bit of knitting. I am desperately trying to finish the cable skinny scarf I am working on before we leave Baltimore! There are a ton of great yarn stores in Philly and I am looking forward to buying some yarn for some new projects there.

So we have a few more days left in Baltimore and then on to Philadelphia. I am planning on heading back into New York for a day or two at the beginning of April to see friends and catch a couple of shows…will be strange after being away for almost four months! 

At Last, Snow.

We awoke on Wednesday, to finally, finally, our first snow of the tour (this winter). After such mild weather in Detroit and spending all of January in Florida, it was seeming that perhaps we might escape experiencing any real winter weather at all this year. Thank god for Baltimore. As much as cold weather can be a drag, I needed to see at least some snow this year. Here it is:

 

 

Good Morning Baltimore!

Okay at the risk of sounding like a cheesy musical theater geek, I could not resist using that as the title for the first Baltimore entry.

We flew in yesterday morning – it was probably the crappiest travel day so far. The airport in Atlanta was beyond crowded and so we spent an hour in line for boarding passes and then security. Then, waiting to go through security, all these airline personnel kept cutting in line – I have my doubts that they really had planes to get to, they were more likely just abusing their VIP status. Security was also very harried and loud, so Tallulah was understandably freaked. Luckily she didn’t poop on me like she did in the hotel in Atlanta when Steve delivered and dropped my trunk, literally scaring the crap out of her.

THEN, when we finally reached the gate, thinking we had some time to grab a coffee, they starting boarding the plane – 45 minutes before the scheduled departure. What?

The flight was fine, but as I had caught a cold a few days before in Atlanta, I spent the whole flight wiping my nose. Luckily the sinus pain wasn’t so bad despite the altitude – I only had a bit of discomfort as we landed.

We got to the hotel (the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore) around noon and dropped off our bags as we were unable to get into our rooms until 3:00pm. I went with Suzanne, Pam (hair sub), Fran and Jovon to get lunch at Mo’s – I had a delicious crab cake! Tallulah was covert in her bag under the table – my “video camera” bag.

We got back to the hotel around 1:30pm and most of the others were able to get into their rooms at that time. Of course, my room was still not ready, so I camped out in the lobby. Jaki came by at one point and felt my head and said I was burning up. By that point, I was basically feeling like ass. I was so congested and just wanted to get into my room. Finally around 3:00pm I got the key to my room and went up, only to find that the room had only one tiny window that looked directly into the office building next door. Now I’m not too picky about my room, but direct sunlight is a huge must for me. I cannot deal with dark rooms. So, I went back downstairs and the front desk said they could switch my room, but I would have to wait another 30-45 minutes. FINALLY, around 4:00pm I was able to get into my new and improved room, which is a corner room and LOVELY. It is smaller than the first room and only has a full-sized bed rather than a king, but it has two windows and looks out at the city. I love it.

I forced myself to leave for a bit to go to the grocery store as I also lucked out and got a small fridge and microwave in my room. The grocery store, Superfresh, is great! Very new and clean, and good produce!

Then I took a quick walk down to the Inner Harbor to go to the Barnes and Noble. I wanted to see if they had two knitting books in stock that I have been eyeing. The Inner Harbor is really nice – it’s basically a bunch of restaurants and shops down by the waterfront. The Baltimore Aquarium is also there.

I took a couple of snaps:

 

  

Barnes and Noble had the two books I was looking for! “Fitted Knits” and “Lace Style”. I bought them both as they have such beautiful patterns in them, and because I really need two more knitting books to cart around with me!!

When I got back to the hotel, Jaki stopped by with a care package for me – she brought me chicken soup, some tylenol PM, tea, Theraflu, Shower Soothers and a bottle of whiskey! Isn’t that the nicest thing? I love the crew girls on this tour – they are the bomb. 

Here are the girls at breakfast back in Atlanta:

Me, Fran, Penny, Elaine, Jaki and Suzanne

Me, Fran, Penny, Elaine, Jaki and Suzanne

I ate the chicken soup for dinner, took some tylenol PM and made a hot toddy with tea and whiskey, and was OUT by 9:30pm.

This morning I felt like a new person!

The load-in has been going so well today. The theater here in Baltimore is intimate yet there is adequate space backstage, so no crossover woes here. I haven’t taken any pics of the house yet, but here’s a couple of the front of the building:

 

In fact, we had so much downtime today, that Kitty and Baby were dressed and ready for Baltimore in no time.

Do you recognize them? They’re Divine and John Waters! I know Kitty has more hair than John Waters, but there’s only so much you can do with sharpies and paper!

Finally, on Sunday in Atlanta, we bid adieu to Justin Patterson, one of our original ensemble members – he will be sorely missed – he really is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. The Spamasluts put on quite a show for his farewell. First Callie rode topless inside the rabbit during the French Taunter scene – unbeknownst to the audience, of course. Then the girls danced topless, except for two coconuts each, in the wings for “Rio”. Justin put on quite a show himself, dancing “Laker Girls” in the wings in just his dance belt. Hilarious. After the show we had shot night and the girls put on another show – dancing as “The Corn Ho’s” to “Jimmy Crack Corn”. They smeared creamed corn all over Justin. Don’t ask.

 

Then we all went to the Georgian for drinks and the girls got Justin to sing a couple of songs at the piano. There was a bit of drama with hotel management in order to get use of piano…but what’s a Spamalot party without a little drama?

Well, it’s supposed to snow here in Baltimore tomorrow. If it does, it will be the first snow I have seen this winter! Luckily, I will be snug in the rehearsal studio here, rehearsing our new swing, Nigel Columbus, who takes over for Kevin Burrows when he leaves the tour in Philly.

I’m looking forward to the next two weeks – already in just a day I’m getting a really good vibe from Baltimore – it seems like the right mix of a city – near water, with good shops, some history, some good Irish pubs and lots of charm. What more could you ask for?