Boston 4.0

Our first move of the tour was to Boston. This is the fourth time I’ve been to Boston, third time with a show, and the second time playing the Colonial Theater. I like playing Boston. It feels comfortable. The stagehands are nice. I know where to go to get good food and where the good shopping is. That being said, even in four trips to Boston, I feel like I have barely been out of the five block radius of the theater district. The weather is always cold whenever I’ve been there (it actually was fairly mild this trip – 50’s most days), and for whatever reason, I always end up with very little free time to do any sightseeing.

This stop was for two weeks, but since it was our first move, and the trek from Chicago was so long, we had a Wednesday opening night (rather than Tuesday). Because of this though, the show we were short in the first week was added as a matinee on Thursday, and then we also had a show on the following Monday night to make up for the show we would miss on our last Sunday night as were closing on the matinee (to allow for the long trip to Minneapolis). So basically, two weeks with no day off. Boo to that.

I left Chicago early on Monday morning and drove about twelve hours, stopping overnight in the Finger Lake region of New York. On Tuesday morning I was on the road again by 5am so that I had time to check in to the hotel and park my car before having to be at work at 2pm. I arrived in town around noon and had plenty of time to get Tallulah situated at the Radisson before heading over to the Colonial.

Tallulah, right at home at the Radisson

Things were trucking along at the theater, and with two days for the load-in, it ended up being a pretty leisurely afternoon for me. I unpacked a few things but otherwise the bulk of our stage management load-in took place on Wednesday. It was nice seeing the familiar faces of some of the local crew. “Spamalot” played Boston three times on tour, including being the place where the tour did production and played its first stop – so the locals there have fond memories of the show, and are especially nice to those of us who were involved with it.

Loading in to the Colonial

Inside the Colonial

The opening night started with a bang, literally. Actually it was an alarm. The fire alarm went off right at “places” and the whole building had to be evacuated – audience, actors, crew, everybody. We were shuffled out the stage door and into the alley, and soon enough the audience started pouring out into the alley, too. It was funny at first, but then started to get a little dicey when people started to rush at Constantine, wanting photos and autographs. And our poor girls were out in the cold in underwear (which is their costume for most of the show), so we were trying to scrounge up sweatshirts and jackets for them to put on. We managed to corral the actors into a corner of the Emerson College theater loading dock, and finally some security showed up to keep the audience away from the cast. The fire alarm was reset and we were all allowed back in the building. We started the show about a half an hour late, without any theatrical smoke and haze, which had been the culprits which set the alarm off in the first place. Starting the next day we had a fire guard at all the performances, and they disabled the alarm for the duration of the show.

There was an opening night party at a nearby bar which was small and crowded with people we didn’t know, so after a while everyone ended up at the Intermission Tavern, which is a bar across the street from the Colonial stage door and owned by the house prop man, Mike. Pretty much when you play Boston, the IT becomes your second home. Many nights spent there drinking beer and spending too much money on expensive sweet potato fries. 🙂 Its kind of the “Cheers” for the touring theater community. “Wicked” was in town playing the Opera House, so lots of their crew ended up at IT every night as well.

Joey, at Intermission Tavern

Cassie, at Intermission Tavern

MiG and Josh at Intermission Tavern

Patrick and Josh at Intermission Tavern

Angela, at Intermission Tavern

So as I said before, we had two shows on Thursday to make up for opening a day late, then understudy rehearsal Friday, two shows Saturday, two shows Sunday, notes with Kristin, our director (who was in town for a few days) on Monday, then a show. Tuesday afternoon was the first free time we had.

Sunday was the one day that ended up being kind of fun and exciting because our first understudy went on. Constantine was having some vocal fatigue so Dan performed the role of Drew for both shows. Dan was incredibly prepared as he played Drew throughout most of the rehearsal period, so it was great that he was finally able to perform the role in front of an audience (even more so because he is leaving our show in a few weeks to go and do the new show “Wonderland” on Broadway). He was a wonderful Drew and it really energized the company after the long week.

Dan, getting his wig on in preparation to play "Drew"

My back had been progressively getting worse since the last week in Chicago and after trying in vain for about five days to get a chiropractor appointment in Boston, I was finally able to at least book a sports massage. I could barely walk on Tuesday morning, let alone sit. The massage was really good though (Boston Bodyworks, for anyone interested), and the therapist did some stretches on my leg to get some of my mobility back (I was having terrible sciatica in my right leg and could barely lift it off the floor). I went back to the hotel, took a hot shower, and then took the train out to Coolidge Corner to meet my dear friend, Katherine, who I went to college with.

Katherine is currently going to grad school at Tufts for nutrition. She’s an awesome gal – one of my oldest friends, and it was great to catch up with her. We had a yummy lunch at a Jewish diner called Zaftigs and then did a little retail therapy at the Gap before getting on the train and heading back to the theater district (the medical campus at Tufts is actually only a couple of blocks from the Colonial Theater). I wish I had been able to spend more time with Katherine, but with her school schedule, and my work schedule, it just didn’t happen. Next time!

I was finally able to get in to see a chiropractor on Wednesday, by which time, my back was feeling a lot better – thanks to the massage. The chiropractor confirmed that my muscles were completely in spasm all the way up my back and said that I needed to be icing since there was swelling in my lower back. He did an adjustment (and also confirmed that I was not getting the best chiropractic care in NYC, which I had also been told by the sports massage therapist I saw in Toronto…makes me kind of mad that I wasted all that time going to someone who was not giving me adequate treatment). My back was feeling a million times better after the appointment but I had come down with a nasty cold the day before, so I spent the rest of the day in bed resting, and didn’t go out for the next three nights.

I had understudy rehearsal on Thursday, and then on Friday afternoon, my last free time in Boston, I had one more chiropractor appointment, and then I MADE myself get out of the hotel and go and do something – even if only for a couple of hours. I walked around Newbury Street for a while and got some lunch, but by about 4pm the wind had really kicked up and it was starting to rain, so I headed back to the hotel and caught up on “Project Runway”.

Saturday we had two shows, and then Ryan arrived. He flew in just to help me do the long-ass drive to Minneapolis (thank you, Ryan!). We had a couple of beers at the hotel bar and then called it a night. The crazies were out on the town on Saturday night in Boston. Our audience at the show were rowdy and loud and then out on the street afterward there were people everywhere. It was not a night that I wanted to be out. Too many drunks.

I went and got my car on Sunday morning and loaded it up before the show, so that we would be ready to hit the road immediately after the matinee. Our stage management load-out was super quick and so Ryan, Tallulah and I were on the road before 5pm. Woohoo!

It was such a busy two weeks, and with getting sick and my back hurting, I feel like I didn’t really do much of anything. The show is starting to settle down now, though and hopefully get into a regular rhythm of rehearsals, etc. I’m looking forward to getting back into a personal road routine – of exercising and eating better and getting back to taking photos, etc. Right now I still feel like I am still scrambling to catch up on life. Hopefully very soon things will find their groove 🙂

Work, work, work, work.

I had so promised a more interesting blog post about Boston than my last post about Norfolk, and then what did I do all week – work! And work doesn’t make for a very interesting post.

We arrived to a freezing cold Boston. I spent Monday afternoon at Windsor Button picking out buttons for my 28thirty sweater (which I still have not photographed – this getting dark at 4:30p thing is really making things difficult!), and also taking the train to Brookline to pick up a wide angle lens (the Tokina 12-24mm for you camera nerds) which I was renting for the week. After that I stopped by the Colonial to say hi, see how the load-in was going, and to take some photos.

The return to the Colonial was sort of a bittersweet one. On the one hand, it is where the Spamalot tour began. There are many memories in the theater. The stagehands in this town love working on our show. For all those reasons it was great to be back. On the other hand, the show has grown since its first stop at the Colonial – there are so many road boxes and hampers and gondolas now. The theater is small and there is not much storage space. Only one truck fits into the loading alley at a time. Then everything has to go on an elevator to get to stage level. There is no elevator inside the building so costumes have to be carried up the stairs to the dressing rooms. Nice as it was to be back, it was also a giant pain in the ass. Load-in was very, very long and arduous. We ended up having to cut some scenic elements in order to fit everything on stage. It was not an easy load-in.

While I was in the building on Monday I took advantage of my new rental lens and took some photos of the theater and lobby. It is a majestic space, totally over-the-top and beautiful.

The view from the balcony

The view from the balcony

Side boxes

Side boxes

The lobby

The lobby

 On Tuesday I joined the load-in. It wasn’t bad on my end – the building was easy to navigate and despite the lack of storage space in the building, everything fit backstage okay. The only negative point to my day was finding out that there was no room in the building for our trunks. They were sent away on the prop truck, not to be seen again until Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t have minded so much had it not been FREEZING cold, since my winter coat was in my trunk. Bugger! I had a down vest with me, so I ended up going to REI on Wednesday and buying a fleece to go underneath it. The temperatures were hovering in the 20’s and 30’s all week. I was really missing my coat.

The opening night performance went fine. It was a bit of a challenge to re-train some of the stagehands who had been in production with “Spamalot” as the show has changed so much in two years and a few of them sort of thought they already “knew it all”. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks! But in the end, all was fine and the show went well. As is usual, when in Boston, the “Spamalot” company hangs at the Intermission Tavern, across the street from the stage door. It’s a pub owned by the head prop guy at the Colonial. Tuesday night was no exception – we all gathered there after the show to celebrate Mitchell’s (our hair supervisor) birthday.

Hanging at the Intermission Tavern

Hanging at the Intermission Tavern

On Wednesday, I made the trek to REI with Ryan to buy the fleece. It was too cold otherwise to really leave the hotel. 

On Thursday, I met up for lunch with Kimberly Mark Webb, one of the stage managers who I used to work with at ACT in San Francisco. He is in town doing a show at the Huntington. It was great to see him! We were able to catch up on who was doing what, and all things ACT. It was so nice to spend the afternoon together. I’m looking forward to all our weeks in San Francisco next summer so that I can see all of my old cohorts again and of course, visit ACT again. I loved the years I spent there, and truly am so grateful for all that I learned while working there, much of which was from Kimberly!

On my way back to downtown, I snuck in a few shots with the wide angle. Of course it was dark already.

Reflecting pool

Reflecting pool

Newbury Street

Newbury Street

Thursday night at the show, everyone was on pins and needles, as Mike Nichols was in attendance to see the show, with our associate director, BT, and our general manager, Wendy. Mike hadn’t seen our company perform the show in about a year and a half so we were all interested in what he would think. We had a note session with him following the show, and it was not an easy one. Overall Mike is happy with our company, but he definitely kicked us in the butt for getting lazy and slipping into auto-pilot and relying on tricks and schtick. Some of his notes were downright brutal. “That was bad. Don’t do that.” On the other hand, he is not Mike Nichols for nothing. Many of the notes were absolutely true and some were downright brilliant. It was a very interesting session to be a part of. I’m very glad that I was not on the receiving end of  those notes though. Mike is a very frank and candid and truthful man – and some of the notes were pretty harsh.

On Friday I had to babysit rehearsal for Alexa – one of our newest female ensemble members. Alexa is taking over Jenn Rias’s track at the end of Pittsburgh. She seems like a really sweet girl – and I’m sure will be a nice addition to the company. In other casting news, Richard Chamberlain is joining the tour in the new year as King Arthur, and Jeff Dumas, who was our original Patsy, is returning to that role. It will be great to have him back. Jeff is wonderful onstage, and quite a character in life too – I’ve missed having him around.

The weekend was the four usual shows, followed by load-out. I wish I had more exciting news to share from the week, but things were so busy at work that I didn’t have a chance to do anything fun and exciting in Boston, unfortunately, except for my lunch with Kimberly. Mostly I spent the week trying to stay warm. Maybe one day I will actually visit Boston when it is warm. This was my third trip to the city – and every time I have been there, it has been butt cold.

We arrived in Pittsburgh this afternoon. Snow is expected all week. And so The Long Winter begins.

Arriving Pittsburgh

Arriving Pittsburgh

 Sending love and good mojo to my BFF Michele whose twins may be arriving in the world this week!

I Got Nothin'

I was in Norfolk, VA for a whole week, and didn’t do anything of interest, and for the first time on this tour, I TOOK NO PHOTOS LAST WEEK! Well, except for my daily contribution to the 365 project. I had every intention of taking some photos down at the beach (we stayed in Virginia Beach), but on the one day when I was not in rehearsal (we had a put-in and understudy rehearsal last week), it poured with rain, so there was no picture-taking for me. Ah, well.

So –  I have nothing to share about Norfolk. There was a decent mall downtown and a street with restaurants on it near the theater which were pleasant enough. Other than that, I was at work, or at my room at the Candlewood in Virginia Beach. The audiences were nice and lively, the stagehands were dumb and lively, and I am happy to have moved on to Boston!

So, in lieu of any interesting tidbits about my week, here instead are some photos of a couple of knitting projects that I completed in the last couple of weeks.

First, my Gretel beret – the pattern is by Ysolda Teague. I used one and a half skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino, purchased at Make One in Calgary. I love the hat – It fits perfectly, and the yarn is so soft and warm. 

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The second project I finished while we were in the Berkshires –  the Prairie Tunic, by Veronik Avery. I used 4 skeins of Rowan 4-ply cotton. It’s a very cute summer top, which can also be worn over a long-sleeved shirt in the winter, as I did in my FO shots.

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More details about these projects can be found on my ravelry page.

I have a third project nearing completion (just needs buttons) so look for photos of that soon!

In the meantime, I arrived in Boston this morning, and am looking forward to a more eventful week than last week (and subsequently a more interesting blog post next week!).  Enjoy your week, everyone!

At the Colonial Theater in Boston

At the Colonial Theater in Boston

Boston, and then VACATION!

Since I had already been to Boston I didn’t go out of my way to do any sightseeing while we were there. Instead I readied for my trip to Mexico by getting a pedicure at a local spa and shopping for some last minute things, like a Spanish phrase book!

We spent quite a few nights at the Intermission Tavern, a local watering hole owned by one of the local stagehands. On Thursday night, Fran and I joined some of the other girls in the company for “Girls’ Night” at Piper, Amy and Julie’s rental house in Southie. Piper vacationed in Portugal back in November and came back with a number of bottles of port, so the girls hosted an evening of port tasting along with a slide show and presentation by Piper about the different ports we were drinking. She had different cheeses and chocolates to go with each port. It was amazing!

Port Night

Port Night

On Saturday night, Fran hosted shot night – her last (sniff sniff). It was of course, straight up shots of Jack Daniels, her liquor of choice. It was not an easy shot to do, as seen in the pics below!

Piper and Amy

Piper and Amy

Paula

Paula

Lyn

Lyn

Cheers!

Cheers!

After shots, we went over to Beantown Billiards (I think that’s what it was called) for Fran’s going away party. A word about Fran here, and I’ll try not to be too sappy since she reads this blog – she’s been my closest girlfriend on this tour – we started around the same time – and I’m pretty devastated that she’s leaving. She got a really cool new gig on the Avenue Q tour – basically she’s in charge of the puppets, which is perfect for her and her crafting skills. Still, its hard to say goodbye to someone who shares my love of crafting (she makes jewelry), sightseeing, nature, drinks with the boys and irreverent laughs. I will miss her like CRAZY. My life out here will be very different without her. Love you, Fran!

with Jaki and Fran

with Jaki and Fran

Back to her going-away party – it was really fun – most of the company were there and we stuffed ourselves with beers and nachos and sang along with crappy ’80’s music.

Mitchell, Suzanne and Jason

Mitchell, Suzanne and Jason

Matt, Paula and Julie

Matt, Paula and Julie

Piper

Piper

Tony playing pool

Tony playing pool

Jonathan and Fran

So after bidding Fran goodbye on Sunday, I took off on Monday for my week-long vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!

I met up with Katherine, one of my buddies from college, at the airport in Cancun and then we travelled to Playa – about a 45 minute drive south. We stayed at a great hotel called La Tortuga, which is a block away from Fifth Avenue (Quinta), which is a long street filled with restaurants, bars and shops. The beach is a block away from Quinta. 

We had a fantastic week spent shopping, eating at a different restaurant every meal, laying on the beach at a beach club called Mamitas, getting spa treatments (I had a mud wrap, a hot rocks massage and an organic facial), taking the ferry to Cozumel (where we shopped and went to the beach), and visiting Chichen Itza, famous Mayan ruins that are one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. On the way back from Chichen Itza, we stopped at a cenote, a fresh water swimming hole, where I swam with fish swimming all around me!

I LOVED Playa del Carmen. It was the perfect mix of shopping, relaxing at the beach, good restaurants, and activities. I think there is something there for everyone. And it is beautiful. I bought a lot of silver jewelry (my favorite), and enjoyed trying a tiny bit of Spanish with the shop-owners (thank you Lonely Planet phrase book!). The people were so nice – especially the ones working at our hotel. I totally recommend La Tortuga if you ever visit Playa. They have a gorgeous pool and solarium, as well as a nice bar and restaurant. My room was clean and comfortable and I had a gorgeous balcony with a roof-top hot tub! It is a fantastic location – and it is super affordable – here’s their website if anyone is interested –http://www.hotellatortuga.com/index.cfm/Home . 

Sadly, on Saturday we had to travel back to the States. My travel day was not the best – first the scary security at the Cancun airport took my knitting needles (grrr), then my flight from Cancun left an hour late, making me miss my connection in Houston, which was the last flight of the day to Boston. So, I ended up having to spend the night at a hotel in Houston and flew back to Boston the next day. As many of you know, I do not enjoy flying, and the flight to Boston was super bumpy and scary and not fun. When I finally arrived back in Boston at 5pm yesterday it was 29 hours after leaving my hotel in Playa!

But I made it back in time for Amy Karlein’s last show – she is one of our ensemble girls, and is super cool. She will be missed!

Robert took this photo of Amy - I love it.

Robert took this photo of Amy - I love it.

After the 29 hours of travel, I was not finished. At 10pm last night I got on a bus to Providence, RI. Today I feel a bit flu-y, no doubt my body is protesting the rigor of the last couple of days. I am getting some rest at the hotel today before joining load-in tomorrow. 

Before I sign off, here are a few photos from Mexico. You can find the rest on my Flickr page.

La Tortuga Hotel

La Tortuga Hotel

Mamitas Beach Club

Mamitas Beach Club

Quinta

Quinta

A shop on Quinta

Colorful plates for sale

Colorful plates for sale

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen

Sunset over Playa

Sunset over Playa

Cozumel

Cozumel

A bar on the beach

A bar on the beach

Schenectady

Schenectady was a stop of rest. Nothing too strenuous or taxing about it. The town itself was small and sweet in some ways, and sad in others. Based around General Electric, it is obvious that it’s heyday is past, but there is a revitalization of the downtown that has begun to take place, and therefore enough in a one-week stop to keep me occupied. 

On Monday we arrived early in the morning after riding the sleeper bus all night from Washington. Thanks to Nighttime Theraflu, I slept a record six hours on the bus and so didn’t feel the need to get into bed immediately when we arrived at the Holiday Inn. Instead I walked around, worked on this blog, and had a restful afternoon. In the evening, I went to the movies to see “Juno”, a really sweet, heartwarming film (I recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet).

The theater in Schenectady, Proctor’s, used to be one of the theaters that everyone dreaded going to because the facilities were so small and inadequate. Thanks to a renovation, the old vaudeville house is now more than big enough to house shows like ours, so the load-in went smoothly, as did the opening.

Sound check in Schenectady

Sound check in Schenectady

The town really embraced us from the minute we arrived. The audiences were similar to the rock star crowds we experienced in  Des Moines, and the local crew were so excited to have us and to be able to be a part of our show for the week. Even the local businesses welcomed us. Across from the theater was a small street – Jay Street – that was lined with a few shops and restaurants. There was a cute bookshop, a cool coffee shop named Ambition, and a health food store which also served food, whose owner Lori, welcomed us with a 10% discount on everything she sold, and by staying open late so we could grab dinner there on the way to the theater. Lori and her shop were definitely the high point of the week.

Jay Street

Jay Street

There were other good things too – the Backstage Tavern, right out the back door of the theater was a great little watering hole, and on Friday, I did a walking tour of the Stockade District (just a few blocks from the theater), which was really interesting, and showed off much of Schenectady’s beautiful architecture. When the town first came into being, back in the 1700’s, it was initially surrounded by a wall to protect it from the Indians. There are some houses in town that still exist from that era. It was really cool to see some of America’s history still standing.

An old house in the Stockade district

An old house in the Stockade district

The Hudson River

The Hudson River

And best of all, on Wednesday I stayed in all day and finished ALL my tax prep! I am so excited that this is done, and that I won’t have to waste a day in Florida adding up receipts!

On Saturday night during the peasant scene, towards the end of the show, the smoke effect from the rabbit mound set off the theater’s fire alarm, which in turn promptly dropped the fire curtain, sealing off the stage from the audience. We had to stop the show for ten minutes (thank god Ken was calling and not me!) while the fire department figured out how to reset the system. Our peasant, who was picked from the audience, was a bit spooked as he was onstage when the alarm went off, but after Michael, our King, chatted him up a bit and showed him around backstage, I think he was rather excited to be part of the chaos. 

We closed on a matinee on Sunday (no fire alarm this time!) and we all promptly loaded onto another bus and made the three hour trek to Boston. Good thing, too, because Monday morning I awoke to find the city covered in snow. We were hit with a storm overnight that dumped at least three inches of snow on the ground!

Boston Common

Boston Common

It is strange being back in Boston where the tour began. Although I wasn’t here for the tech process, I did come and visit everyone shortly after opening, and I saw the show here. We are at a different theater, the Opera House, but we are staying at the same hotel, and it is the same time of year as when the show originally opened here. We gathered last night at the Intermission Tavern and drank to the two years that have gone by so quickly!

Today I ran errands mostly in preparation for my trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico this coming Monday. It seems strange to be traveling from 20 degree weather to 80 degrees, but I’m not complaining!

Tonight I went to see the film “Atonement” – it was pretty intense, but stunning and beautifully told. Another movie I recommend!

Wishing everyone a great week!