Kansas City

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KC Baby

Kansas City itself ended up not being so bad. I did far more in KC than I did in Rochester or Tulsa or some of the other b-list cities we’ve hit so far on the tour. Once my suitcases arrived and I felt more settled, things got much better.

Our hotel, the Hotel Phillips, was really nice. I had a very comfortable bed and a sofa (where I spent quite a few late night hours watching the first season of “Jericho” on my computer). The bar there was nice and it was rumored that Harry Connick was staying there, although I never saw him.

On Wednesday, after recovering from load-in and opening, I rented a car and Ryan and I drove out to the Harley Davidson Factory to do their factory tour. Ryan is big Harley fan, having two bikes of his own, so it was cool to go and see how they are made and to hear a bit about the history and values of the company. We also got to sit on some very cool motorcycles.

Ryan at the Harley Factory

Ryan at the Harley Factory

After the factory tour, we continued the bike theme and drove to a bike shop in Kansas to pick up a bike for me – a bicycle that is, not a motorcycle! Keith, our head carpenter, has been telling me for months that if I wanted a bike they could travel it in one of the trucks, and with Portland, Denver and Seattle coming up, I decided to go for it. I ended up with a green Raleigh bike which is perfect for city riding. It has the most comfortable seat ever. I love it.

My new bike

My new bike

On Thursday I rode my new bike around a bit – I went over to the City Market area of Kansas City, where they hold their Farmer’s Market. There are some shops and restaurants over that way, so I wandered around a bit. Then I biked over to the Arts District and looked at a few boutiques. I spied a yarn shop, which unfortunately was closed – although it probably saved my wallet from some damage. After an hour of exploration, I was so hot (it was over 100 degrees out all week), I went back to the hotel and took a shower. I had planned on biking to a day spa later that afternoon to get a pedicure, but the heat was too much, so instead of biking, I took a cab.

Friday began with the most genius parade ever. Kansas City (for some reason) holds an Elvis Parade every year to commemorate his death. I think this was their 20th Anniversary parade. I went with Fran and Roy and we laughed our asses off. I think pretty much anyone can be in this parade if they throw a black wig and sideburns on. The 65-year-old Elvis’s made me howl. They were giving away all kinds of swag, and having a “Best Elvis” contest, as well as live music, and an Elvis high-wire act (which unfortunately I missed!). And all this was led by the Master of Ceremonies, Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong. Hilarious. Here’s a couple of pics:

After the parade, Ryan and I rode over to another bike shop near the City Market. When I got up that morning, I noticed that my back tire was flat already! At the bike shop, they told me I had a bad valve so I bought a new inner tube and they adjusted a couple of other things for me. I am super happy with the bike that I bought, but if I had known beforehand that this bike shop had been there, I probably would have bought from them, because they were so knowledgeable and helpful. 

Once we had the new inner tube in place, Ryan and I went for a ride down by the river (he travels a bike, too) and then we came back up to the City Market to go to the Steamboat Museum. Tanya had told me this museum was a must-see for KC, but I really didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be the coolest museum!

About 20 years ago, a couple of men began excavation on an old steamboat that had sunk in the Missouri River back in the 1850’s. Over time, the course of the river shifted and eventually the boat ended up buried under farmland owned by this group of men. In doing the dig, they have discovered the largest collection of pre-civil war items that exist in the world today. Because everything was buried in mud with no oxygen, all the items that were found on board are in fairly good condition, with hardly any decay. About 2/3s of the collection is on display at the museum. The other third is still being cleaned up and restored. It is estimated it will take another twenty years before the entire collection has been cleaned up enough to be displayed. 

It was a very cool exhibit, and so neat to see all the items that were being shipped for trade in the 1850’s. Many of the tools look the same as ours today. I loved looking at all the beads, and hat pins and earrings. Here are a couple of snaps:

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It’s a pretty incredible collection – especially all the china that survived, with no breakage. Amazing.

Friday night, Ryan and I borrowed Jovon’s car and drove out to the “Plaza” – a big shopping area housed in Spanish-style buildings. It was really pretty – I was sorry I didn’t have a chance to walk around there during the day. We then motored over to the Westport area, which is a couple of streets that are cordoned off so that folks can just roam the streets with liquor in hand, and bar hop. We found a nice pub with outdoor seating and had a couple of beers and a cheese plate. The security in that area was a little over the top – there is far less on Beale Street in Memphis, but for all the queuing and showing IDs and wearing wrist bracelets, it was still pretty fun.

Saturday between shows, Jovon and Piper brought in a giant take-out order of Stroud’s Fried Chicken (apparently “the best fried chicken in the world”) for a group of us to share for dinner. The chicken was mighty tasty – I actually don’t really remember the last time I had fried chicken before that, it had been so long. I’m not sure it was the best in the world, but it was damn good, and so were the mashed potatoes and cinnamon rolls that came with it.

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So now we are flying to Portland, OR, which I am so excited about. I’ll see my mom and dad this weekend and get to explore a city that I have always wanted to visit. 

So far the travel day this week is going swimmingly. I hope last week’s events were a one-time fluke – I don’t wish to repeat them anytime soon.

As for Kansas City, you know, there were plenty of things to complain about – it was 100 degrees outside, nothing to eat downtown, the theater was a mess and the stagehands were truly terrible (Oh how I wished I had my deaf prop guy from Des Moines back!), but aside from all that, I found that most people I ran into – like the Starbucks barista and the guys that worked at the sub shop, and the guys at the car rental place, and lets not forget the hotel staff – were all soooooo nice and helpful and friendly. I really liked that part of KC. I also think the city has great potential. There are some really cool buildings and there is some work going on to revitalize downtown. I think they can do it. It was nice having my new bike so that I could ride around and check out some of the different areas of town. I imagine with a car its even better. 

So I’m going to give Kansas City itself a thumbs up in my book. I just hope I don’t have to work at that theater again any time soon, and if I do, I hope that my luggage arrives on time at least!

48 Hours of Spamalot

Monday, August 13, 2007:

7:00am: I leave the Galtier apartments and begin the schlep with all my bags and cat in tow to the Hilton three blocks away where the bus awaits to take us to the airport. I inadvertently lock suitcase #2 and said cat in the apartment building lobby while taking suitcase #1 out to the street (I had left my keys in the apartment, as we were leaving forever). After panicking for thirty seconds, a nice maintenance man enters the building allowing me to rescue the rest of my belongings, and … the cat.

7:00am: I wave goodbye to our associate conductor, Adam Souza, who is driving the 425 miles to Kansas City. I wonder why we are not taking a bus instead of flying.

8:00am: Bus arrives at airport. We all realize it is a big airport, meaning long trek to gate, including subway ride. With cat. Great.

8:15am: All in line at United ticketing. For some reason the group reservations show we are all traveling with cats. There are twelve of us on the flight from Spamalot, mostly wardrobe, stage management and a couple of actors. And twelve cats? We are shuffled around into multiple lines and bitched at for all having overweight baggage.

8:45am: After paying $100 for overweight baggage and $85 for the cat, I follow Jovon into the security line. We go through amazingly quickly and the cat is on excellent behavior, even as she is pulled from her bag and walked through. It is only when I see Esther, our Lady of the Lake, directed to a much longer line, that I realize I have gotten through the security for first class customers without any objections. Must have been the cat.

9:15am: With Starbucks and Egg McMuffin in hand, I wait at the gate for our 10:00am flight.

9:45am: We are told our flight is an hour late because of mechanical reasons at O’Hare.

10:45am: Spamalot actors who are catching the noon flight start trickling by our gate with sympathetic looks on their faces.

11:15am: We finally get on our plane, and are all moved to the front to facilitate running like hell to our 12:10pm connection once we hit Chicago. The woman at the United gate tells us that they will try and hold the connecting flight for us.

11:30am: Pilot tells us that the plane is late not because of mechanical reasons at O’Hare, but because of construction on the Minneapolis runway. They are only letting 28 planes land an hour.

11:45am: 30,000 feet. Stewardess cannot retrieve our connecting flight info as it is a United Express flight. She is not helpful.

12:30pm: Reach Chicago O’Hare. Connecting flight gone.

1:00pm: Find gate of next flight to Kansas City, due to leave 3:30pm. Are told we are all wait-listed on the flight but that the flight is sold out so it doesn’t look good that all twelve of us will make it on. Woman at that United gate doesn’t seem very interested in helping us find alternative flights (even though it is United’s fault we missed the connection). She suggests the 6am flight the next day. Fran, Roy and Wayne have to be at load-in tonight at 6pm. Make a plan to meet back at that gate at 2:30pm. 

Also 1:00pm: Original scheduled time of arrival in Kansas City had flight not gotten delayed.

Also 1:00pm: Crew starts loading in scenery at theater in KC. The only way to get scenery to the stage is up three floors in a freight elevator.

1:30pm: I think about taking Tallulah outside to pee and realize that without a ticket for a flight, I cannot leave the gate area.

2:00pm: Adam Souza arrives at the hotel in Kansas City after a leisurely 6 1/2 hour drive and a stop for lunch.

2:30pm: Meet back at gate. Find out that company management has booked the musicians on a 7pm flight, wardrobe on the cast flight at 3pm on American Airlines, Esther on a 4pm flight. Am told that the rest of us will attempt standby on the 3:30pm flight. I decide that if I do not get on the 3:30pm flight I am renting a car and driving to Kansas City.

3:00pm: Fran, Roy and Wayne take off for KC on the cast flight.

3:30pm: Successfully get onto the flight to KC with Suzanne, Jovon and Ben!

4:00pm: Jeff, Esther, Lynn and the musicians all make it onto the 4pm flight to KC. Lynn will not make it to the KC Chiefs/Toronto Blue Jays game that night, where she was supposed to sing the national anthem.

4:45pm: Fran, Roy and Wayne arrive at KC airport with no bags in sight. They cab to the hotel to check in.

5:00pm: I arrive in KC. Go to look for baggage.

5:15pm: Meet up with Karl (our company manager) who has just arrived with the rest of the cast, who are outside on a bus. Attempt again to look for luggage.

5:45pm: Recover some of the luggage from our group.. Realize my bags are not among them. Fill out lost baggage paperwork.

5:50pm: Suzanne asks the nice people at United for a toiletry bag since her suitcase has not arrived. They assure her that our bags will be at the hotel at 9:00pm that night so she need not worry (and will not need a toiletry bag).

5:50pm: Take bus to Hotel Phillips in Kansas City.

6:00pm: Fran and Roy go to load-in. The washing machines (which are in our rider) are not at the theater. Fran takes all the show laundry to a local laundromat to wash.

also 6:00pm: Wayne (our wardrobe supervisor) is taken to the hospital with an infection.

also 6:00pm: Ken goes back to the hotel. His air conditioning does not work. It is 103 degrees outside.

also 6:00pm: I make it to CVS just before they close and buy a litter box, litter, and a can of food for Tallulah.

6:15pm: Tallulah looks at me as if to say “If you think I am going to eat this crappy CVS food, you are out of your mind”. She ignores the food. I cut a “to go” coffee cup down and fill it with water to make her a water bowl.

7:00pm: I go to dinner, hoping the bags will arrive soon.

also 7:00pm: Jeff, Lynn, Esther and musicians arrive at the hotel.

8:00pm: I try contacting our company managers to see if my baggage arrived with the 4pm flight. I find out no information.

10:00pm: Ken mops the floors of all the dressing rooms at the theater as they are filthy and there is no production manager for the theater who would otherwise be mopping the floors or instructing someone else to do so.

10:00pm: Baggage still has not arrived. I call United and find out that our lost baggage reports were never filed. I file another report and am told my bags are still in Chicago. I am told to call back in two hours for updated status report. I call Fran at the laundromat and tell her she had better call United and file another report.

11:30pm: I fall asleep.

12:00 midnight: Fran goes back to hotel. Her toilet explodes and floods her room. She has to change rooms.

 

Tuesday, August 14, 2007:

4:00am: I wake up and check my bag status online. They are lost. United has no idea where they are. I call United. They think my bags may be on a 6am flight to Kansas City.

I lie awake until 6am.

6:00am: I check my bag status online again. My bags are still lost.

7:00am: I go to CVS and buy some deoderant and make-up. Tallulah still hasn’t eaten. She has now not had food since Sunday.

8:00am: Jovon and I arrive at the theater and immediately go to our trunks to find other shoes and cat food (me) and another shirt (Jovon). We find our office, which is located in a closet on stage level.

8:30am: I run home to feed Tallulah. She finally eats.

8:30am: All of the water at the Radisson hotel has been turned off due to the toilet explosion in Fran’s room.

9:00am: Company management arrives at the theater. They start calling our travel agent to figure out where our baggage is.

also 9:00am: I check bag status online again. Still lost.

also 9:00am: A large water leak is discovered in the hallway at the theater.

10:00am: Roy and Fran arrive at the theater. Wayne, their supervisor, is out sick, heavily medicated to help remedy his infection.

11:00am: Suzanne calls United and is told her bag was put on a flight that morning to KC along with eight other bags.

12:00 noon: Jeff goes to the airport to pick up Fran, Roy and Wayne’s suitcases. United will not transport them to the hotel as they flew on an American flight to KC (even though it was United’s fault they didn’t make their connecting flight in Chicago).

also 12:00 noon: A group of suitcases arrive at the Hotel Phillips.

1:30pm: I go to the hotel and retrieve my bags! I change my clothes!

2:00pm: Matt Allen, one of our chorus boys, calls out sick due to a recurring staph infection. 

3:30pm: Patrick Heusinger, our Lancelot, calls and says he has missed his connecting flight in Chicago. He will get on a 4:45pm flight arriving KC at 6:15pm. He will not make sound check.

4:00pm: Our drummer and the local bass player argue in the pit over space.

4:30pm: Patrick calls to tell us he is on a plane on its way to KC.

4:30pm: Ken and Jovon go back to the hotel to take a shower.

5:15pm: I head to Starbucks to get some food. I run into Ken and Jovon. Patrick has just called. He is still on the runway in Chicago.

5:30pm: Back at the theater. Patrick still has not taken off.

5:55pm: Jonathan Brody, the Lancelot understudy (who has never performed the role, and who thinks he is playing Bedevere that night), enters the theater. Ken tells Jonathan he is playing Lancelot tonight. Because of other various vacations/sicknesses, we now have understudies on for the King, Bedevere, Lancelot, and three ensemble male tracks. I call Wardrobe and Jovon calls Hair. They are not happy.

6:00pm: We start sound check and mini put-in for Jonathan.

7:15pm: Wardrobe begins wrestling with the Knight of Ni stilts to adjust them for Jonathan, who is two inches shorter than Patrick. They have success.

7:40pm: Patrick arrives at the theater. We tell him to stay out of the way.

8:00pm: The mayor of KC makes a curtain speech. His name is Mayor Funkhouser.

8:05pm: Show starts.

8:40pm: The mountain hangar and the rabbit mound get entwined stage left and start swinging around like mad. They knock a fluorescent light off the fly rail.

8:42pm: Andrew Fitch, one of the swings, rolls his ankle. There are no more men available to go on. He has to continue. I get him an ice pack.

8:45pm: Eric Hayden, also in the male ensemble, rolls his ankle. I get him ice.

8:57pm: The ensemble girls want masking on the roof of their quick change booth. They say the guys on the fly rail can see inside.

9:00pm: Intermission. Our prop head gets into a screaming match with the local sound guy out on the loading dock.

9:15pm: Act Two starts.

10:20pm: Show finally ends. Jonathan is great as Lancelot. Wardrobe are champs.

10:30pm: Company management opens a tab at the hotel bar. We all drink heavily.

1:30am: Finally, bed.

Kitty and Baby

Kitty and Baby