This week marks the end of a very, very long stretch of one-week stops. Twenty-two to be exact, making the last day off – free of travel and work, way back in January when we were in Boston. I went on vacation that week, so my Mexico trip was the last time I had any time off. That was six months ago!
Traveling to a new city every week has had its ups and downs. On the one hand, we were able to explore a variety of cities that we may not ever had had the chance to visit, if not for this tour schedule. We were also able to play at some amazing theaters around the country, and meet some really nice people along the way. We were able to experience a true touring gypsy life – which some accustomed to better than others, but I think in the end, we all feel pretty proud of ourselves, regardless, from having made it through.
On the downside, packing every Sunday got to be a drag – both packing up the show, and packing up our own suitcases. The travel between the shorter jumps was fairly easy – the overnight bus rides were fun and convenient. But in the last few weeks, when the stops have been further apart, all the air travel has been a drag. The schedule has also been unfortunate in that you can never stock up on groceries (well, too many groceries), because you can never finish them all on a one week stop. That is one thing to really look forward to on the longer stops – a stocked fridge – that you might actually finish!
Tallulah has been a sainted kitty throughout all the moves. She only had one spiteful episode (peeing on my suitcase in Nashville), but other than hiding under the bed every travel day – she has been the best-behaved, most adaptive and loving little puss on the planet. She is a rock star.
So to recap – here are some of the highlights of Spam Tour’s “Trail of Tears”:
PROVIDENCE: We said goodbye to Michael and Jeff, our original King and Patsy. The girls sent them off right with a hilarious game show-edition shot night. We also enjoyed the diner truck which parked late night behind our hotel.
HERSHEY: Brad Bradley made his debut as Patsy, with Chris Gurr assuming the role of the King. We had a blast at Chocolate World, and were welcomed with open Italian arms at Fenicci’s.
JACKSONVILLE: Hometown of Patrick and Keith Reese. Was lovely seeing Keith’s smiling face around the show again. Adam Souza assumed the maestro’s baton as Ben began his leave of absence.
Also, Gary Beach joined us, and began rehearsals to take over the role of the King.
FORT MYERS: Where we were re-introduced to “Crawdaddy”, a strange crawfish-loving keyboard player who had first played with us back in Naples. Most of this week was spent doing taxes with Trudy!
MILWAUKEE: Pubs, pubs, and more pubs. That’s how I remember Milwaukee. The art museum building was stunning to see. We said farewell to Piper with another pub crawl, this one in a party bus. Piper and Julie leaving were big blows – it was hard to lose those two girls – I miss them! Milwaukee was also the debut of “Duckie” – Tera-Lee performing a male ensemble track.
MINNEAPOLIS: The crazy weather of being in Tornado Alley continued, with thunderstorms peppering the week. We visited the sculpture garden and played mini golf with Ryan’s friend, Brent. In work-related news, Patrick split his head open causing a frenzy of last-minute replacements on the Saturday. I visited the Mall of America, Brit’s Pub (a couple of times), did quite a bit of bike-riding, and had a lovely Monday night meal with Bret.
22 eventful weeks! I look forward to the next 22, only I am happy to report that we will be spending some quality time in the next few cities with longer sit-downs, just enough time to recoup before another slew of one-weekers begin this winter.
Bring it on!
I had another low-key week last week in Milwaukee, but that’s not to say that the town is not without things to do. In fact, quite the opposite. The town is filled, and I mean filled, with brew pubs and bars and museums and shopping…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We arrived, as usual, by sleeper bus at the crack of dawn, literally – I think it was 6:30 in the morning. We were all staying at the Hyatt downtown, a nice hotel – comfy bed, always important. I slept for a little while after arriving, and then went out in the afternoon for some lunch and a walk around.
I headed over to the lake (Lake Michigan) and walked along it (freezing my butt off, by the way – we had gone from 70 degree temps in Dayton to 40 degrees. Thank god I had the sense to get my down vest out of my trunk) for about two miles until I reached Brady Street, which was lined with all kinds of cute shops and pubs. Unfortunately I was so cold that I didn’t feel like spending time browsing, and so I headed back down Water Street to the hotel.
Downtown Milwaukee is cool – its sort of a mix of new buildings, like the art museum, and old Gothic germanic-looking buildings. I had kind of a picture of it in my head from “Laverne and Shirley”, and expected it to be big-city, Manhattan-like, but it’s not quite as busy and urban as that, and guess that’s what I get for believing everything I see on TV is real.
I got a call from Ryan around 6:00pm saying that they were laying off for the day because the truck with all the deck in it had not arrived, halting what work the carpenters could do. It turns out the driver got confused and thought he was supposed to show up with the truck on Tuesday morning rather than Monday, so he took a side trip the opposite direction into Ohio. Oops.
That meant, though, that Ryan had a Monday night off for the first time in forever. So we went for dinner at the Water Street Brewery, which had some delicious microbrews.
The load-in picked up on Tuesday, as usual, and the guys still managed to cut out early in the afternoon. It’s amazing how much faster they’ve managed to get the load-in – I suppose doing it every week now for 14 weeks in a row will do that. It has made the one-weekers so much more bearable for the crew, though, now that load-in has gotten so much faster.
The theater, the Marcus Center, was spacious and we had another successful opening. We had a party following at the City Grille. Ryan and I had fun hanging with Suzanne and Gurr, and then chatting with Piper, who was leaving the company at the end of the week.
Ryan left the next morning for Sobieski, the town where he lives, for a week’s vacation. I headed over to the art museum at noon to see the building’s “wings” open up, which happens three times a day. It’s a stunning visual to see.
Pretty cool, huh?
I also walked around the museum a bit – they had a photo exhibit on which was pretty good. The lobby was also architecturally quite fantastic, so I took some snaps in there as well.
After the museum I walked over to the Public Market to grab some lunch. It is a cute little market, not as grand as the Eastern Market in Philly or even the Public Market in Columbus, but there were some good-looking stands with yummy things behind the counters.
On the way home I walked through the Historic Third Ward, which is actually a lot like Soho in New York, on a much smaller scale. There were a lot of cute boutiques and shops, housed in old warehouse-y buildings.
Since Ryan was away and since we went out almost every night last week in Dayton, I decided I would take the week to rest and recoup, and so I didn’t do all the barhopping that I could have last week.
I did go out on Thursday night, after a day of understudy rehearsal and a show, for Piper’s going-away shindig. It was also a celebratory evening for Tim, Bree and Jen Mathie, who all had birthdays this past week. Piper arranged a party bus which took everyone around to three bars. I opted to just go to the first bar, the German Beer Hall, which was a lot of fun, but very crowded. It was fun watching everyone do “shotskis” – basically a ski with a line of shot glasses attached to it – meaning that everyone who partakes, has to drink at the exact same time.
Friday’s weather was yucky – heavy rains and wind, so I decided to have a lazy day inside. Which was great. I caught up on emails and things, watched Tom Cruise on “Oprah” and entertained Tallulah.
I got up on Saturday morning and walked over to Marquette University and just beyond, to see the Pabst Mansion. I didn’t have time to go inside, but the outside of the building was enough of a sight to see. It was old and creepy –
Sunday turned out to be quite an eventful day as we had our first ever cut-track show in almost 900 performances! Both Darryl and Rick were out on personal days, and then Patrick (Lancelot) called out sick. We only have two male swings, and one of them (Nigel) is also the only cover we have right now for Lancelot. So Graham, our dance captain and the other swing, and Tera-Lee, our assistant dance captain and female swing, had to figure out how to cover Darryl and Rick’s tracks between them. Which basically meant, Tera-Lee dressing up as a boy and performing in three numbers – “Finland”, “Camelot” and “Bright Side”. In the other numbers, we cut a track and Graham covered whoever’s track was most important.
Here’s some pics of Tera-Lee as a boy (she’s the one in yellow):
Sunday night was Piper’s last show. She had quite a going-away week, with her party on Thursday, Friday was her “super-swing-out show” in which she played a different girl’s track in each number, and then Saturday night she hosted shot night and played us a slide show she had put together about her time on the tour. Everyone was in tears by the end. Piper will definitely be missed. She was the tour’s residence cruise director and party planner. We bonded over knitting and crochet – this last Christmas she crocheted sixty hats for everyone in the cast and crew. She has a great heart and spirit and I will miss her Tuesday load-in hugs!