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!

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Back in Hartford

True to my word, I have been laying low since arriving last week in Hartford. It has been so nice to catch up on rest, watch some movies, and stay in. The sightseeing and hanging out in the more recent cities has been a blast, but it is definitely nice to have a break from that.

That being said, the opening night in Hartford was not so smooth. The local stagehands are notoriously difficult to work with and run the theatre 100% by the book. The head carpenter at the Bushnell (the theater where we are playing) is the son of the guy who used to be head of IATSE (the stagehands’ union) and who wrote the pink contract (the contract which our crew works under)… so understandably union rules are strictly enforced here. Which is fine, but sometimes the stringency can just be kind of a pain in the ass. Like, there’s a rule in this local that local crew have to match road crew 1:1, so for instance, since we travel with three hair crew, we have to have three local hair crew. We usually only use one local hair person, so here in Hartford, we have two locals who sit and do nothing for the whole show and get paid for it. And we were made to hire a projectionist, who does nothing, since all of our projections are run through the light board. C’est la vie. That’s how it is here in Hartford.

So aside from the crazy union stuff, the Tuesday night show was just kind of nutty. There is no room on stage right so everyone was tripping over each other and running into scenery over there. Then the campfire prop literally caught on fire and the local pyro guy figured the best way to put out the fire was to STOMP on the prop, breaking it into pieces. We have no back-up campfire and it is costing us $2000 to replace. You would think the PYRO guy would know how to maybe use a fire extinguisher?? Also that night, the Black Knight scene went to hell when one of the arms wouldn’t fall off, and then one of his legs fell off too early. It was just one thing after another until the show ended.

The demolished campfire

The demolished campfire

Luckily things have gotten better – we’ve gotten used to the space limitations and the local crew are actually doing a great job. The rest of the week has been relatively smooth.

We had an opening night party at Hot Tomato’s which is a restaurant near the theater and which had a really delicious Italian buffet. The sweet potato ravioli was amazing. 

The rest of the first week was really low-key. I ordered groceries which were delivered to my apartment, and tried to stay in most nights. I even made it to the gym a couple of times this week!

Brian (who was the original 1st ASM on the tour) came to visit on Sunday. It was great to see him – he hung out backstage during the shows and a big group of us went to dinner at Trumbull Kitchen between shows. After the evening show, about fifteen of us went out for drinks and appetizers at Vaughn’s, which is the bar that I spent a lot of time at with the cast of “A Christmas Carol” when I was in Hartford in November. On Sunday night I ran into Patti there – she was one of my PA’s on “A Christmas Carol”. It was so nice to see her! I’m hoping to catch up with her and my other PA from “A Christmas Carol”, Alex, sometime this week.

On Monday, Brian, Ryan and I had a really suburban day. We went to the mall, ate at Pizzeria Uno, bought groceries at Trader Joe’s, hung out at Starbucks and then watched a movie at my apartment. It was great! It was nice spending time with Brian – I miss him so much! Luckily he is coming to Houston for a week to cover Ken’s vacation, so we will have more mall days to come! 

Today I got a facial and a pedicure at a great spa called Oggi right behind the apartment building I am staying in. Who knew there was such a cool place in downtown Hartford? It was incredibly relaxing and my skin is all soft and smooth! Man, I love a good spa day!

We have rehearsal every day this week so I’m sure this week will be just as uneventful as last week was, but I’m okay with that. And especially with all the rain we’ve been getting (a “nor’easter” they keep saying on the news), it’s nice to just stay inside. 

We’ve been rehearsing Graham, our new swing, at Hartford Stage’s rehearsal studio – it’s so surreal being back in that space with “Spamalot”, when just a few months ago I was there with “A Christmas Carol”. So much has happened in five months! 

Here’s a couple of photos taken in Trumbull Park which is across the street from the apartment building where I am staying:

And here’s a few of the Capitol building, which is right across from the theater:

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Tallulah – Cat, Rock Star

Last night we took a sleeper bus overnight from Philadelphia to Hartford. We left Philly around 2:00am and arrived in Hartford at 6:30am. Tallulah hung out in the bus with us as we watched a movie and drank some beers. She met Elaine’s dog, Taza, who wanted to play. Tallulah wasn’t sure what to make of Taza, who is a long-haired chihuahua – she just sort of sat next to Taza and watched her roll around. After watching the movie, we slept in one of the bunks. Here’s Tallulah in our bed – what a rock star.

Here’s Taza in the lounge part of the bus:

Ryan and Chris at Yum Yum Bankok

Ryan and Chris at Yum Yum Bankok

I spent last Monday and Tuesday in New York with Tanya and Michael. I saw “Spring Awakening”, which I loved, and had drinks with Richard Rauscher afterwards, who is one of the stage managers, and a good friend. I also had dinner with Christopher and Ryan. It was a goodbye dinner, as Chris moves to LA at the end of the month. I will miss him so much – I don’t know what I would have done without him when I first moved to New York – he gave me a place to live, and an instant community of friends. I love him to pieces and can’t imagine what NYC will be like without him.

It was nice to get back to New York for a couple of days – I visited my storage unit and saw Andrea briefly, as well as also having dinner with my dear friend Patty, who is in town rehearsing the second tour of “Jersey Boys”. It was so great catching up with Patty and seeing one of her latest knitting masterpieces – a striped ribbed sweater called “Tubey”.

Goodbye donuts from Naomi

Last week was filled with rehearsals for Julie Barnes, who opens tomorrow night in Naomi’s track, and also for Graham Bowen, who is our new swing/ass’t dance captain. No sightseeing for me! We all went out for sushi on Saturday night to bid Naomi Kakuk goodbye. She is one of our original female ensemble members, and will be sorely missed. In her final performance last night, the two girls who do the “tap cross” with her during “Jew Song”, didn’t enter, so Naomi had a solo tap cross (which was a total surprise to her) – it was a great moment.

So now we are in Hartford. It is so surreal to be back here – and I’m staying in the same apartment building as I did for “A Christmas Carol”. It seems like no time has passed since I was last here – I can’t believe that four months have gone by. I think the next two weeks are going to be a bit of a hibernation for me – after Memphis, Atlanta, Baltimore and Philly, I am ready to not do any sightseeing and just stay in and knit, read and watch movies. I need to catch up on some sleep and relaxation!