Columbus

Sometimes there are weeks on the road where you just don’t do a thing besides the show. You hole up in your hotel room and hibernate. This was one of those weeks. It didn’t help that it was colder than 20 degrees outside most days, with a killer wind to boot. Or that we go on Christmas layoff starting next week, so my mind is on other things – repacking for air travel, shopping for Christmas presents, that sort of thing. I’m also realizing that since I have already been to most of the cities on our tour itinerary and explored the crap out of them the first time around, I have less motivation to get out and do stuff the second (or even third or fourth in some cases) time around. Which is kind of a bummer. I think I need to try and kick that bad habit when I come back to the show after Christmas. I guess I miss the excitement of being in a new city for the first time. We don’t hit a city that I haven’t been to until October 2011. Not sure I’ll even still be on the show then…

I drove to Columbus with Travis, who plays Franz in the show. You might remember him from our hiking adventure in Cincinnati. He was good company – he slept some, chatted with me some, bought me lunch 🙂 The seven hour drive actually went by very quickly, even though we had to drive through some pretty heavy snow in the mountains of West Virginia (yay! another state crossed off the list!). We actually arrived just minutes after the cast did, who had traveled by airplane from Baltimore to Columbus.

Tallulah, pooped after the travel day.

Of course the first thing I had to do after getting settled was go to Tip Top for dinner. Tip Top is my favorite Columbus bar, a real gem  that I found the last time I played the city. You see Columbus is one of those downtowns that really closes up shop after about 5pm and on the weekends, so when I found Tip Top – which not only is a fun little bar, but also has a kickass menu, I was so excited because they are not only open everyday – but they serve food until 2am! They are also the place where I began my love affair with the sweet potato fry. They really get their chipotle dipping sauce right. I ran into a couple of the guys from the show at the bar, but didn’t stay and hang because I wanted to go and check out the theater.

I don’t normally go to the theater on Monday nights because a) I’m not getting paid to be there and b) I generally feel like I’m in the way. The trucks are just getting unloaded and nothing is in place yet. Its pretty much chaos. Add to this load-in that it was 11 degrees out and snowing.  But I had been hearing about The Palace for weeks – about how tiny it was, how we may not have a crossover on stage. Last time I played Columbus, we were at the Ohio, which although is not huge, it accommodated “Spamalot” just fine. The Palace on the other hand, is wee. It was a vaudeville house back in the day, so while the house is enormous (almost 3000 seats), the stage is really shallow.

In the end we were able to squeeze our set onto the stage with the tiniest of crossovers – just enough space for one person to get by upstage of the drummer. I spent much of the day Tuesday mapping out whose backstage crosses were the fastest and thus, who should be given right of way in the crossover. Our vocal booths and quick change booths were in various rooms and loading docks this week, rather than our usual spacious areas. It was fine. We definitely dealt with worse crossover situations on “Spamalot” – but on that show, it was easier to modify entrances and exits. We’re sort of locked down to the way the choreography is on this show, as well as all the quick change locations. Changing someone’s exit or entrance could really screw up wardrobe.

Opening night actually went a lot more smoothly than I anticipated considering the cramped space. There was a party afterward but it was a bus ride away and a cash bar, so I opted to go back to Tip Top, which was a whole lot closer.

Wednesday was seriously the laziest of days. Its so hard to motivate when it is so cold outside. I stayed in all day. And it was really nice.

Thursday I drove up to the North Market for lunch (the North Market is an indoor market with food vendors and other various merchants). I had some Indian food and then, of course, some ice cream from Jeni’s – the best ice cream on the planet! Seriously, the salty caramel will set you free. I walked around the Short North neighborhood for a little while, but it was so cold and I’m trying not to spend money this close to Christmas so I didn’t stay long.

North Market

North Market

Jeni's ice cream

The counter at Jeni's

Jeni's salty caramel!

Friday was another lazy day – well, lazy in the sense that I stayed inside all day, but actually I got a lot of online Christmas shopping accomplished. Between shows on Saturday I drove Mike and Ken over to Short North for dinner at Haiku, where we all had yummy asian noodles. After the show on Saturday, there was a viewing of the second movie made by Josh and Erika, two of our swings, called “Secret Santa’d” – if you are friends with me on Facebook, its posted on my page and you can watch it there.

Sunday I woke up to snow. Quite a lot of it. Which was not good news for our poor crew who not only had to load the show out that night, but who had an early box call that morning. (A box call is when all the empty road cases are unloaded off the trucks in preparation to be filled at the load out). All the boxes were stacked in the alley and soon covered in snow.

Deck carts in the snowy alley

Road cases covered in snow

Local stagehands during the snowy box call

The snow pretty much continued throughout the day, and as I write this now on Tuesday evening, I can tell you that the show did get loaded out – it took a bit longer than usual, but not horribly so. We are currently on a two-week lay-off for Christmas, so unfortunately on Monday, the snow was still falling, and the airport was a mess. A lot of flights were canceled. I know the cast flight to NYC was delayed until evening and that the folks going to Chicago had to actually stay in Columbus an extra night because their flight was canceled. I drove through a lot of snow to North Carolina, but made it safely to Winston-Salem, where I stayed the night with my old friend Ryan Hill. I am currently headed down to Fort Lauderdale, where I’ll park my car at the airport on Thursday and fly to California for the holidays. The show reconvenes in Fort Lauderdale the week after Christmas.

I’m not sure if I’ll blog at all during my two weeks off, so if I don’t, here’s wishing everyone the happiest of holidays!

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Turkey Day, First Snow, and White Trash, y'all!

The strike is over! Yesterday, finally, the League and Local One came to an agreement and so Broadway is back in business. It is such a relief to us, and also obviously to all our friends back in New York who have been out of work for the past couple of weeks, to be able to go back to work before the holidays.

We arrived in Toledo this past Monday in time for the first snow of the season. I caught a nasty cold and so have been a bit behind on my blogging, so let me catch you up on the end of Columbus and how things have been going –

First of all, it was amazing to have Jaki in Columbus all last week. It was such an energy boost for the company, and a happy ending of sorts to what was such a horrible way for her to leave the show this past summer. She looks great and did a fantastic and seamless job covering Wayne’s vacation. We had a crew girls’ breakfast on Wednesday morning to celebrate.

Pic stolen from Fran's blog

Pic stolen from Fran

That afternoon, Ryan organized a small group to visit the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. Michael Siberry, Mike Berg, Ryan and myself had fun looking at all the old bikes. After visiting the museum, we headed over to A.D. Farrow – the oldest Harley dealership in America – and looked at some more cool bikes there!

Thursday was Thanksgiving. Our company managers hosted a really nice dinner at Latitude 41, a new restaurant in downtown Columbus. We started with a cocktail hour in the bar, and then enjoyed a buffet dinner. It was delicious – everyone left stuffed and happy.

Jaki and Fran at cocktails

Jaki and Fran at cocktails

Darryl and Julie - full and happy

Darryl and Julie - full and happy

Ben and Patrick tossing the football after dinner

Ben and Patrick tossing the football after dinner

After dinner, Ryan and I went to the movies. The movie theater was empty! A first for Thanksgiving – I guess no one lives in downtown Columbus. We saw “August Rush” – a sweet, feel-good movie – perfect for Thanksgiving. After the movie, we headed over to our favorite local bar Tip Top for some rum cider.

On Friday we hit the Columbus Art Museum. They have a great Monet exhibit right now, and although the museum was crowded, it was definitely worth seeing.

Columbus Art Museum

Columbus Art Museum

We loaded the show out on Sunday and drove the short trip to Toledo, Ohio. I took one of the overnight crew buses. Tallulah and Taza were able to hang out again like rock stars. Unfortunately I was hit by a cold that night on the bus, so I felt pretty crappy the whole next day in Toledo.

I did get out of the hotel though, to do some shopping. We have rental cars here, so I drove to the mall and picked up some things that I have been needing. I had heard all kinds of horrible things about Toledo before we got here, but the houses seem pretty enough, and there’s all kinds of shopping, so for a week I’m happy enough here. As I was heading to Applebees for dinner (there are only chain restaurants here!), snow started to fall and continued to do so for the rest of the evening. The first snow of the season!

The theater is an old Masonic Temple building – its pretty ugly and charmless, but we have plenty of space and the crew is good. The load-in went really well and we opened smoothly on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, Ryan and I did some more shopping (readying for a party on Thursday – more about that in a minute), and after the show a large group of us, mostly crew, enjoyed drinks and food at a bar near the theater called Trotter’s Tavern. It was nice hanging out with everyone – as it always is when everyone can put aside their differences and enjoy a beer or two together.

Most of the cast are staying at the Red Roof Inn here in Toledo. I couldn’t do it – Ryan and I opted to stay at the Hilton. But to celebrate Toledo and staying at a world class motel, Elaine and Wayne (aka Bud and Virginia Hole) decided to host a “White Trash Party” at the Red Roof this past Thursday evening.

Let me tell you, it was the event of the season! We have been seeing postings about costume competitions and cooking competitions and puppy pageants for weeks, so everyone really took the preparation seriously. With Walmart, Kmart, Savers, Meijers, Target and Goodwill all within a mile radius from the hotels, not to mention a hunting store – there were plenty of places to shop for food and outfits. 

Here are some highlights for you to enjoy:

Nana Jovon

Nana Jovon

Fran and Cuz

Fran and Cuz

Mitchell

Mitchell

Vera

Vera

Mabel and Tony

Mabel and Tony

Lyn and Suzanne

Lyn and Suzanne

Wayne (aka Bud) and Roy

Wayne (aka Bud) and Roy

Angelina and Nigel

Angelina and Nigel

Tim and Angelina

Tim and Angelina

Ryan

Ryan

Brian, Scott and Jeff

Brian, Scott and Jeff

What a great party! Thanks for hosting, Bud and Virginia!

We have a few days left here, then its off to East Lansing, Michigan for a week, then Washington DC for four weeks at the holidays – I can’t wait!

O-H-I-O

We arrived in Columbus, Ohio last Monday and loaded the show in without incident. Our possible involvement in the strike had been hanging over our heads, but luckily no news came through from New York, so we all kept on working.

At first glance, Columbus seemed like a very dead town – downtown everything shuts down at 5pm and on the weekends, so finding somewhere to get dinner proves challenging. As the week went on I did manage to find some cool areas of town, though.

The theater here – the Ohio – is beautiful. It is an old movie house and like the Fox in Atlanta, and other old movie houses, it’s interior is grand and elaborate. It is also a gigantic house – the balcony seems to stretch back for miles. I haven’t had a chance to snap any photos of the inside of the theater yet, but will make a point to do so before I leave. The backstage is a bit cramped, but the show squeezed in and has been running smoothly.

When I got into town on Monday, I went for a long walk to see what was around. By the time I discovered German Village, just south of downtown, it was getting dark, so I didn’t have much of a chance to explore. I did, however, discover a super cool bookstore called The Book Loft, which has 32 rooms of books! I spent quite a while in there, as you can imagine, and came away with a couple of treasures. If you ever find yourself in Columbus, be sure to check this place out!

We opened on Tuesday, and afterwards the presenters thew us a party at Mitchell’s Steakhouse. It was one of the only opening night parties that was just for us, and not overrun with patrons, so we were able to eat and hang out calmly, without having to fight to get to the food tables. It was very nice and mellow, and the food was great.

On Wednesday, Ryan and I headed uptown to eat lunch at the North Market. The North Market is sort of like a mini version of the Reading Terminal Market in Philly. It is filled with vendors selling food and other goods. We ate some lunch and then had some amazing ice cream from Jeni’s – a local Columbus ice cream shop. They have all kinds of crazy, eclectic flavors at Jeni’s – I had a scoop of the Butternut Squash with Pecans and a scoop of the Butterscotch with Cocoa Nibs. Ryan had Pistachio Honey and Five Spice Pumpkin. Yum!

After lunch, we continued uptown to the Short North neighborhood, which spans from downtown to Ohio State. It is filled with boutiques and restaurants and record shops, and we had a great time walking around and browsing in all the shops.

On Thursday I had understudy rehearsal, but on Friday I went back to Short North to try and find a top to wear for Thanksgiving (the company is having dinner at a local restaurant). I rode my bike all the way up to Ohio State and then made my way down High Street through Short North. I ran into Elaine and Roy along the way, walking Taza the chihuahua. I found a super cute blouse in a shop called “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. 

After my shopping was complete, I rode through the park behind the North Market. As much as I love the west coast in the summer and warm months, nothing beats being east for fall and winter. The trees in the park were amazing.

The weekend brought the usual four shows. Ryan and I were happy to discover a very cool bar called Tip Top two blocks from the hotel. Not only do they have a great beer menu, but they also have a great food menu (the sweet potato fries are awesome!). And they are open late and on the weekends! So we spent a couple of evenings there, happy to have found a cool spot nearby to hang out.

On Saturday night we had drinks and pizza at the hotel bar with Suzanne, Tony, Michael, Graham, Darryl, Ben, and his wife, Annie. It was a really nice time. Piper came down shortly after midnight to tell us that Nigel (one of our swings) had just woken up Mitchell (our hair supervisor) and sang happy birthday to him…in the nude. Hilarious.

The next day, being Mitchell’s birthday proper, we celebrated with Taco Bell between acts of the first show. Usually we stick to the traditional cake, but Mitch wanted Taco Bell, so the local sound guy went out and got a whole mess of cheese quesadillas and caramel apple empanadas, which we all devoured at intermission (p.s. the empanadas were awesome! next time you make a run for the border, be sure to try one!).

After the show, the birthday celebration continued at Claddagh’s, an Irish pub in the Brewery District, just south of downtown. The bar was a bit understaffed, but they did a great job in keeping the food and drinks coming. It was a really charming pub, and I was extremely happy with my bangers and mash. Mitchell was once again wearing his kilt, and once again flashing all those who cared (didn’t we go through this last New Year’s?).

Yesterday, Monday, was unfortunately not a day off, as we have Thursday off for Thanksgiving. Ryan and I went for a bike ride in the afternoon, though, stopping at an amazing deli – Katzinger’s – in German Village, for lunch. After fortifying ourselves, we went back to The Book Loft to get out of the rain that had started falling. We spent an hour browsing through all the rooms and then when it seemed dry enough outside, we continued biking through German Village and Schiller Park. It is such a charming neighborhood with cobblestone sidewalks and brick houses.

Schiller Park

Schiller Park

Schiller Park

Biking through German Village

On the way back downtown, we stopped at Deaf Park, which is a plot of land next to the old School for the Deaf, that has an amazing topiary garden modeled after the painting “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte” by Seurat.

The building that housed the Deaf School (it closed in the 1950’s) was pretty cool, too – and also a bit scary-looking.

As we were leaving, it was getting dark, and the park started to look a bit creepy, as well.
On the way back to the hotel I snapped a few photos of the Capitol building all dressed up for Christmas.
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As for the strike update, sadly talks broke down again in New York on Sunday, so the strike goes on. We are getting more anxious about it reaching us – the latest rumor is that it may happen this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t.

We are however, going to start collecting or Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS this weekend – in an attempt to help in a place where the effects of the strike are being sorely felt. In New York, this is the time of year when all the shows collect for BC/EFA for six weeks, culminating with the Gypsy of Year competition. Because of the strike, BC/EFA is losing approximately $350,000 in donations a week that they would normally be collecting during this period. If you are looking for an end-of-the-year charitable donation to make – please check out Broadway Cares – they help the theatrical community in so many ways with health care and other support. You can make a donation online here.

In knitting news, I finished the Peek-a-boo Cloche this week for Fran. She loved it! The pattern is from the book Lace Style. It was hard, but I think it turned out great! Here’s me modeling it before I gifted it:

Last, but definitely not least…Jaki is back! You probably remember Jaki from her terrible accident in Dallas, where she fell and broke both of her legs. Well, the wee Scot is all better and back with us as a sub while Wayne (our wardrobe supervisor) is vacation. It is SO great to see her, and especially good to see her standing on her own two legs again. We missed you, Jak!

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!