Back in the Heartland

Omaha

Somewhere in middle america

Get right to the heart of matters

Its the heart that matters more

I think you’d better turn your ticket in

And leave your money right at the door

                         – Counting Crows

So, Omaha, Nebraska. Sounds like one of those awful stops – but actually, it was quite a nice little town – sort of an undiscovered gem, like Des Moines. Not that I would want to spend a TON of time in Omaha, but a week was nice!

I had the luxury of Monday off while the crew started the load-in. We travelled on Sunday to accommodate the trucks making the long drive from Boise. Its always such a nice treat to have that extra day off before load-in. Ryan and I had dinner at a local microbrewery called Upstream on Sunday night, and then on Monday, while he was working his butt off at the theater, I went and explored downtown Omaha. 

To be quite honest, downtown is a bit on the abandoned side, except for a great little area called the Old Market, which has cobblestone streets and lots of good restaurants and interesting shops. I walked around and checked the area out and hung out for a couple of hours at 13th Street Coffee House. Then I went for a walk down by the Missouri River which was quite pretty.

The Old Market in Omaha

The Old Market in Omaha

Old Market

Old Market

The Orpheum Theater in Omaha is a beautiful old Vaudeville house, like the Orpheum we played in Memphis. Unlike Memphis though, the Orpheum in Omaha was smaller – making it quite a tight fit backstage. Luckily we had some good local stagehands this week, and opening went smoothly. We had a nice opening night reception at one of the local restaurants.

The next day Ryan and I went over to visit the Durham Western History Museum, which is housed in the old Union Pacific Railroad Station. It is a beautiful old art deco building, and the exhibits about the station and also about the history of Omaha, were really interesting. Omaha used to be a really thriving city – it was the crux of the transcontinental railroad, and headquarters to Union Pacific, and also was a major player in the livestock industry. It was a bit sad to see photos of how busy and bustling downtown Omaha used to be – full of department stores – and now it is fairly empty. It’s a city whose prime has come and gone. But it was really interesting to read about its history, and it gave me a real respect for the city.

Inside the station:

On Wednesday night we had a going-away party for Steve Ramondo, our props assistant. As I wrote in my last post, I adore Steve. He’s a total nut job – but that’s a huge part of what I love about him. He always makes me laugh. I also love that he just is who he is. He’s always upbeat and cheerful and he doesn’t let anyone get him down. I admire that so much about him. I am going to miss him and his energy and good humor a lot. I know Ryan will, too. Steve was really great to the both of us, but he was a true friend to Ryan, and I can’t say that about many other folks on the crew, unfortunately –  Steve recognized what a good and hard worker Ryan is, and what a big heart he has. Not many people take the time to do that, or can look past their own egos to do that, but Steve did. We’ll miss him a ton. It’s rare you find coworkers that you can really trust and lean on. His absence already has left a huge hole.

Anyway, his party was lots of fun. We had drinks at the bar at the Magnolia Hotel, where some of us were staying.

Ryan and Steve

Ryan and Steve

Elaine and Steve

Thursday night was Steve’s last official show. He celebrated it by dressing up in one of the “Rio” costumes, and dancing in the wings for the boys onstage. Amy and Angelina danced with him as his “Powder Girls”. It was hilarious…and a little frightening at the same time!

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On Friday, Ryan and I went to the Omaha Zoo! I can’t remember the last time I went to a zoo – I’ve been to a lot of aquariums, but the zoo – it’s probably been at least fifteen years! We had a blast! It was a bit further of a walk than we anticipated getting there, but once we made it, it was great. Since it is winter season, some of the park was closed, but there were also no crowds, so we got to move through everything fairly quickly. There were a couple of really cool environmental exhibits – one was a huge dome that inside was a recreated desert environment, complete of course, with animals. We also went through a jungle environment. Both of those exhibits were really cool. Then we went around to see all of the animals. The Omaha Zoo actually has quite  a collection! We saw gorillas and orangutans and all kinds of cats and elephants and bears, oh my!
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Saturday between shows Ryan and I hit Omaha Prime and had a delicious steak dinner. You can’t visit Omaha without eating a steak! It was yummmmmmy!

Saturday night was shot night, hosted by Jeff Dumas. He made some fruity concoction called “The Swedish Fish”. It was good! The real photo ops of the night though, came when the cast decided to recreate some of the theatre posters on the wall in the green room.

42nd Street:

Riverdance:

Mamma Mia:

Hilarious.

And we needed a little bit of hilarity to end the week. As some or most of you may know, the Local One stagehands in New York went on strike on Saturday, shutting down most of Broadway. Actors Equity is striking in sympathy, as are many of the other theatrical unions. We had a rep from Equity come out to see us this week and to talk to us about the fact that we may also be asked to join the strike. As the weekend was coming to a close, word from various people in New York was that Local One was going to ask the pink contracts (which are the contracts our road crew is on) to strike starting as soon as this Tuesday. If that happens, those of us who are Equity members on the show (all the actors and stage managers) will be asked to strike as well. As will our company managers and our wardrobe and hair crew.

Its a tough situation to be in on the road. While we all sympathize with what Local One is trying to stand up for, having to go on strike while away from home, is a whole different ball game from those partaking in the strike in New York. We don’t have homes to go to at the end of the day. If we have to strike, we will be stuck in hotel rooms that we will have to pay for out of our own pockets. We won’t have access to our personal belongings in our trunks (which will either be at the theater or on a truck). We may be asked to walk out in the middle of a load in. We may have to find our own way to the next city as our company managers, who coordinate our travel, will also be on strike. And we can’t fly to wherever our homes may be because we have to be ready to go back to work at a moment’s notice. So again, although politically I support the stagehands in New York, and understand that getting the pink contracts to strike as well will be a major bargaining chip, personally I think it is so wrong and unfair to get us involved. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

Anyway – today we travelled to Columbus, Ohio. Thanksgiving is next week. I hope it isn’t ruined by the worry of the strike.

In other news – I have added a link to my knitting projects as well as yarn shops I have visited in my travels, on the master blog page. Take a look if you are interested!

Now I have to go and look at plane flights to Mexico! I’ve been approved to take a week off in January, so Katherine (friend from college) and I are going to Playa del Carmen for a girls’ week of spa treatments, beach and relaxation. I can’t wait!

Juliet

Here she is – Juliet in all her glory.

I loved making this sweater – it went really quickly – big needles plus bulky yarn equals a sweater in a week. Yes!

The pattern is super popular right now on the internet – I found it on Ravelry, my fave website of the moment. I’ve admired many Juliets, and couldn’t wait to make my own. You can find the pattern here at Zephyr Style – it’s by Sarah and Rachel.

I used Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky in the colorway Jack’s Plum. I used about 5 skeins on size 10 1/2 needles. 

As for modifications, the pattern is built so that you can make the sweater cropped or longer in length, and also end the garter stitch section above or below the bust. So – I didn’t really make any modifications, just followed the pattern to make the sweater the right style for me.

P.S. My super cool buttons were found at So Much Yarn in Seattle.

I definitely recommend this project – its an easy one for beginners, too!