Cincinnati

I’m late writing this entry, so I will do my best to recall all that happened during our two weeks in Cincinnati – not that it was much, we’re talking about Cincinnati here 🙂 I’ve written before about my dislike for pretty much the whole state of Ohio, so I didn’t really have high hopes for our stop in Cincy. It turned out to be a fun couple of weeks though, mostly because there was a lot of medicating with beer after the show every night 🙂

I drove to town from Minneapolis, which was a long-ish drive – 700 miles or so, but so much shorter compared to my previous few drives. It was the first drive I could do in a day, without having to stop overnight somewhere, and so that in and of itself was a relief. I was a bit worried about this impending storm that was on the horizon, but it didn’t end up hitting until Tuesday (thank god) once I was already in Cincinnati. We stayed at the Millennium Hotel downtown, which was a change from the usual housing in Cincy (The Garfield Suites, which although are roomy and have a kitchen, they are also super old and dingy). I was happy at the Millennium, despite the lack of a kitchen (we did get fridges and microwaves though which is usually enough for me), mainly because of the floor to ceiling windows in the room. I try not to be picky about my hotel rooms, but light is a big thing for me. If I am in a dark room that looks at a wall, I will change rooms. I need my sunlight or else I get really depressed. So the windows in this place made me happy. They made Tallulah happy, too. She’s been kind of afraid of windows and window ledges since she got sick last year, but she really enjoyed laying by the windows at the Millennium and watch the birds fly by.

Load-in on Tuesday went really smoothly. The theater in Cincy is huge and new-ish, and the local crew is good, so its rare that you have any issues getting a show in there. As the morning went on the sky grew darker and darker outside and pretty soon we were hearing that the tornado sirens were going off outside. We went into Connie’s room and started watching the TV (yes he gets a flat screen and cable in his room – lucky bastard) and sure enough there was a tornado warning for downtown. I went back to the hotel and moved my car from the open parking lot next door to an indoor lot near the theater. The last thing I want is hailstone damage on my brand new car! One of the swings started calling everyone telling them to get indoors because a tornado was coming. That cracked me up. Anyway, in the end, the tornado did not touch down in the downtown area, but we did get some crazy rain. Luckily we were stuck inside all day anyway!

So opening night went fine. The audiences for the two weeks were much tamer and quieter that any of the other previous cities we have played. I think it partially had to do with the fact that Cincy was the first city where drinks were not being served in the aisles throughout the show. Drinks at our show make for much more raucous fun crowds.

After the show we went across the street to this Irish pub called Nicholson’s for drinks. They were just closing up the kitchen when we all arrived begging for food, and after seeing how much business they could get from us over the next two weeks, they decided to keep their kitchen open late for us for the remainder of our stay. So Nicholson’s became our outpost after the show. Their hummus platter was a hit 🙂 They had a really good pumpkin beer on tap which I enjoyed, and also a bourbon beer which a lot of people were really into.

The above photo is one I took on my phone in Nicholson’s with the Instagram app – anyone else using Instagram?? I love it – I’m francesca74 if you want to follow me. I’m also uploading my Instagram pics to a Tumblr site if you want to check them out – http://alifeontheroad.tumblr.com/.

So I don’t really remember what day I did what while we were in Cincinnati, so I’ll just tell you about what I did in no particular order. This was obviously the first time playing Cincinnati with a car, so I did want to get out of the downtown area to see what else was around. I know there are a lot of cities that I visited on “Spamalot” that I probably gave short shrift to (Cincinnati included) because I only saw a tiny bit of them, so that’s one thing I want to try and avoid on this tour now that I have a car and can give the cities more of a thorough look.

So one day I drove over to Eden Park, which is just two miles or so from downtown. It’s in a neighborhood called Mount Adams, which looked pretty cute as I drove around (although I didn’t really have time to get out and walk around the neighborhood). I did go for a walk around the park, which was quite pretty, if not a bit desolate. I couldn’t believe how few people were out and about. The park is on a hill that overlooks the river and it encompasses the art museum, the conservatory and the Cleveland Playhouse. I had a nice walk – it was good to get away from downtown for a few hours.

Grasses at Eden Park

Autumn leaves at the park

The park overlooks the river. I think that's Kentucky on the other side.

Water tower

Trail back to the parking lot

A self-portrait in the park

We are still rehearsing a lot during the day, trying to get all our understudies up to speed, so there wasn’t much free time during the day for hanging out and sightseeing. After the show every night we would end up at Nicholson’s, and then once Nicholson’s started winding down, we would make our way over to this dive bar Madonna’s, which has become kind of infamous amongst the touring community. One of our friends calls it “the Star Wars bar”, because the clientele are not too different from all those weird creatures that hung out at that bar in the first Star Wars movie. It was kind of a perfect bar for our company, though. Good tunes on the jukebox, a pinball machine, a pool table, nudie photo match computer games at the bar, and a really friendly bartender. What more can you ask for?

Sean and Dan having a laugh at Madonna's

Eric at Madonna's

Joey

Sean, singing along with the jukebox

Ken

Critch doing jello shots

We had quite a few visitors to the show during our time in Cincinnati. Ken grew up there, so we got to see his mom, Barb, a couple of times, and also quite a few students from CCM came to watch and shadow backstage. They were all really sweet kids – we especially loved Francisco, who we ended up running into one night, selling tacos out of a truck in Fountain Square. Ken and I actually went over to a coffee shop near the university one day and spoke to about twenty stage management students about working in the business. It was a little intimidating, but they all asked really good questions and so I think it went okay.  I don’t think I came off like a complete idiot, which is good. 🙂

Our most famous guest of the two weeks was Nick Lachey and his girlfriend (now fiancee) Vanessa Minnillo. Nick is from Cincinnati and apparently sees all the shows that tour through. He and his friends came backstage afterward and enjoyed shot night with us. It was fun having them there for a few minutes, but then we all started to get antsy as we had just started watching a 10 minute movie called “Constantined” made by two of our swings during our stay in Minneapolis and starring most of the company. Finally someone asked Nick and his friends if they wanted to watch the movie with us, and they did, so awkward situation was averted. The movie is hilarious, by the way. It’s not on Youtube, but if you are my friend on Facebook, I’ve posted it on my page and you can watch it there. Josh and Erika are the two talented swings who put it together, and I know they have more movie projects in store for us.

Here's Vanessa and Nick at shot night with Martin Von Colt, who has become our unofficial show mascot. (Martin is a scary baby doll who was a reject for the Drew and Sherrie baby prop)

Erika and Josh, bummed at the interruption of their movie

And then there was Halloween. We had an early 6:30pm show, and then everyone went back to the hotel to get dressed up. We were all planning on hanging out at this bar called FB that was right by the hotel as they had a cool basement space. But when we got there, the place was overrun with frat boys (who were not in Halloween costumes and were looking at all of us as though we were complete fools) and the music was so loud, that we all split immediately. Guess where? Madonna’s, of course. And it ended up being the perfect place for us.

Keith and MiG dressed as Sonny and Cher

Martin von Colt in the beer cooler

Leigh playing nudie photo match with Marty

Joey and Tami

Stephen as Harry Potter

Travis

Joey and Lauralyn

Rashad

Becca, Erika and Joey at the bar

Leigh

Brandon

I decided I wanted to go hiking while we were in town. I knew there had to be some pretty countryside around, and so one day, Travis (he plays Franz in the show) and I drove about 25 miles out of town to the Cincinnati Nature Center in Rowe Woods. It was such a pretty area, with lots of trails. We hiked for a few hours, probably about five or six miles – it was lovely – at one point we saw a couple of deer that were so tame that they approached us. We also saw an “elusive black beast” (as we chose to refer to it) a couple of times. We could not figure out what it was. It was a small black animal – about the size of a black bear cub. Travis ran after it a few times to try and see what it was, but with no luck. So it will forever be the “elusive black beast” to us 🙂 It such a nice afternoon – I really want to make it a point to get out and do some hiking on a regular basis – especially now that my back is feeling so much better.

Travis in the woods

Hiking

On our Monday night off, the Rock of Ages band (Arsenal), played a gig at Motr Pub, with a couple of the actors from the show. They covered a bunch of 80’s rock tunes, by bands like AC/DC, Iggy Pop and Bruce Springsteen – and they were awesome! It was such a fun night, and I think they are going to try and make this a regular thing in each city we go to. I hope so. It totally reminded me of how much I used to love to go and see my friends’ bands play in college. So much fun.

Jon, our bass player, at Motr Pub

MiG, singing at Motr Pub

Nick

Lauralyn, "dancing in the dark"

Joey, singing "Lust for Life"

So it ended up being a really fun two weeks actually. I know a lot of people in the cast were down on Cincinnati for being so dead, but I feel like we made our own fun this trip. Madonna’s and Nicholson’s were a blast. And it was nice to get out of town for that afternoon with Travis and see some nature. Yeah, so Cincy didn’t suck so much for me this time 🙂

Just one more thing. I know most people that read this are my friends and family, so just wanted you all to know that Ryan and I decided to finally part ways. Its been a fun three years that we’ve spent together, but unfortunately the past two have been more apart than together, and the long distance thing just wasn’t working for us anymore. It was time to just move on with our lives and find happiness elsewhere. I am fine and totally at peace with everything and I want nothing but the best for Ryan. It’s all good.

So, next up for “Rock of Ages” is Detroit. There are some changes coming down the pike which I’m pretty sad about but I’ll have to wait to tell you about what’s going on until its all public knowledge. One thing is for sure – life is never a bore out here 🙂

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New Year's in Cinci

I left Des Moines EARLY on Monday morning (I was up at 3:30am – yuck!) and flew to Cincinnati where we were playing the Aronoff Center for the week. After lunch at First Watch, I made multiple attempts to leave the hotel and get out and explore on Monday afternoon, but I was so tired from being up so early that I resigned myself to an afternoon/evening on the couch with my cat and some movies.

Load-in went extremely well – the crew finished up in record time. The Aronoff Center is a fairly new building, so there was plenty of space for everything, and the great local crew really made life easy for us. The opening was smooth and the audience loved the show.

On Wednesday, Ryan and I ventured out to Findlay Market, a public market about ten blocks north of our hotel. There weren’t many vendors there as it was late in the day, but we picked up some fish to cook later in the week, and then stopped by the grocery store to gather some other items to go with the fish. The neighborhood north of the hotel gets a little dicey, lots of broken windows and abandoned buildings. It was a shame because the architecture in the area was really amazing. I was too afraid to really even pull out my camera, though – I didn’t want to draw attention. Even the grocery store had a police officer sitting outside, manning the parking lot. It makes me sad to see this sort of thing in so many of the cities we have visited on tour.

Wednesday night was New Year’s Eve. We had a show, but afterwards gathered at Below Zero Lounge for a party thrown by the company. It was a great space and loads of fun. Best expressed in the following photos, I think, rather than words:

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New Year’s day was LA-ZY! Ryan and I stayed in our pajamas until we had to go to work. I spent all day editing the photos from the night before and uploading them to Flickr and Facebook. The internet connection at our hotel was ASS so it took way longer than it should have (thank god the internet seems better this week in South Bend). Ryan watched a hockey game on TV.

On Friday we motivated, and went to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, down by the Ohio River. I am so dumb when it comes to geography, so I had no idea that the Ohio River was the divider between North and South, and that slaves that made it over the river were in free territory. Being right over the other side of the river, Cincinnati played a big part in the Underground Railroad. It was such a great afternoon, reading stories and looking at pictures and learning all about that time in history. I definitely recommend a trip if you find yourself in Cincinnati.

Quilt art on the wall at the museum

Quilt art on the wall at the museum

The Ohio River

The Ohio River

On Saturday, we had two shows, and in between, Ryan and I went for dinner at Bootsy’s – a restaurant owned by Bootsy Collins, across the street from the Aronoff Center. It was swankier than we expected, but downstairs there was a display of Bootsy paraphernalia and all along the stairway up to the restaurant, was cover after cover of Rolling Stone magazine. It was very cool – and the food (we had tapas, they also have a sushi bar) was delicious!

Rolling Stone covers at Bootsy's

Rolling Stone covers at Bootsy's

On Sunday Ken bought the company pizzas between shows. Cincinnati is his hometown, so he wanted to share a signature Cincinnati treat with us. The pizza was from his favorite in-town pizza place. Last week I also sampled Skyline Chili (eh – not amazing) and Graeter’s ice cream (Yum, yum, yum!!! The black raspberry with chocolate chips IS amazing). Before we dove into the pizza, though, the entire company gathered onstage for a company photo, which I had to take! Talk about nerve-wracking! The lighting was not great onstage so we couldn’t have anyone stand on top of the castle or they would have been in the dark. As it was, the folks in the back were not all that visible. Oh well, I don’t think the photos turned out too badly considering I had about three minutes to set up. We took one shot with the “Support Your Troops” sign, for Nate (our flyman) to send to his brother in Iraq, which I thought was a really sweet idea.

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And with that, we closed in Cincinnati and were off to the next stop – South Bend, Indiana. This week we start rehearsals with our new King Arthur, Richard Chamberlain. I can’t believe we only have two weeks left with Jonathan Hadary -I’ll miss him – a fellow knitter!