Orlando

I honestly don’t have much to say about the week in Orlando. A lot of stuff happened at work, big changes. I have a new boss now. But I don’t really feel like I can write much about it here as this is such a public space. Again I am having thoughts of making this blog private, for friends and family only, so that I can really write about what’s going on in my life and not just “I went here and did this. I went there and did that”. But on the other hand, I know that having a password protected blog is kind of a pain in the ass for those who keep up with me through blog readers. I don’t know…thoughts anyone?

Spamalot tag on the wall of the Bob Carr Theater in Orlando

So yeah, Orlando. Orlando the town feels like Texas to me. It doesn’t seem Florida-like at all. There’s no water. There’s no sand. There are some cute neighborhoods, but really, if you are not in town to go to Disney or Universal, there’s not a whole lot more going on. Especially if you are staying next to the theater, like we were – the area really  is a no-man’s land. Which makes me so thankful that I decided to buy a car for this tour. No more being stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to eat but room service.

Our general manager came into town for a few days and so there were a couple of shindigs while she was around. We had a crew drinks night on Tuesday which started out disastrously when we were driven to a loud-ass mexican joint with really bad karaoke. After making a quick escape (which involved traipsing through the kitchen of said restaurant), we ended up at a nearby tiki bar, where we ordered pizzas and ended up having a really good time.

Rashad, at the hotel bar.

Bret, partaking of the free drinks

The next night we had more food and drinks at the hotel bar with the whole company – and then on Friday night, even more drinks, to send Ken off to his new job on “The Lion King”. Its hard for me to really write or even verbalize my feelings about Ken leaving. I’m not sure I even know what they are yet. All I know is that I did this tour to work with him, and with him not here, I’m not sure what I’m doing here anymore. Feeling a little lost, for sure.

Ken's last night with the company

And that’s all really that happened in Orlando. Lots of illness still going around the company, so lots of understudies on. Even though we just had a layoff a couple of weeks ago, I think our upcoming week off (after Louisville) will do everyone good. Clear some heads, hopefully provide some rest. I know I need the week to refocus. I’m driving across the south to Santa Fe and then LA, and then flying up to Seattle. It will be nice to spend the week alone. Away from the show – away from everything. Getting my head together.

Tami, getting Joey ready to go on as "Stacee"

Rehearsing understudies at half hour

Sean, watching rehearsal.

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22 Weeks, 22 Cities

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.

Jeff and Michael's final shot night

Jeff and Michael's final shot night

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.

Waiting to see the 3D movie at Chocolate World

Waiting to see the 3D movie at Chocolate World

NASHVILLE: We visited the Opry, hung at the honky-tonk’s on Broadway, and celebrated Patrick’s birthday. Julie Barnes made her debut as the Lady of the Lake, as both Esther and Lyn were out. Cara Cooper joined us to take over Sabra’s track.
Julie's debut as the Lady of the Lake

Julie's debut as the Lady of the Lake

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.

Adam as Ben at sound check

Adam as Ben at sound check

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!

Crawdaddy!

Crawdaddy!

MIAMI: Gary made his debut as the King, we had an awesome anniversary party for the show at the Raleigh Hotel on Miami Beach. It was a generally happy week spent on the beach – oh, and quite a few people got tattoos. Sadly, we said goodbye to Jeff Klein, our associate company manager, and welcomed his replacement, David.
Original Spam Tour members at the 2-year anniversary party

Original Spam Tour members at the 2-year anniversary party

WEST PALM BEACH: We had a big photo call at work, and spent much of the week around the gorgeous shopping center near the theater. Ryan and I stayed at a very cute pool house, as did other members of the company.
Gary and Esther - one of my shots from the photo call

Gary and Esther - one of my shots from the photo call

CLEARWATER: One word – O’Boobigans! We sent Lee Appleton, our drummer, off in style with a party at an Irish bar/Hooters called O’Boobigans. Crawdaddy returned, and great controversy began when one of his lobster puppets mysteriously disappeared…
Lee, Ryan, Lobster Puppet, Keith and Crawdaddy

Lee, Ryan, Lobster Puppet, Keith and Crawdaddy

ORLANDO: We said a tearful goodbye to Julie Barnes, whose going-away party was at a fun tiki bar downtown. Some people ventured to Disney – I enjoyed our Extended Stay Deluxe and stayed in most of the week, with the exception of a walk around the cute shopping area of Winter Park. This was Vera’s last week before her leave. On our final Sunday in Orlando, some clean-shaven faces showed up to work to kick off the Beard Contest!
Julie at her going-away party

Julie at her going-away party

BIRMINGHAM: Probably one of the least favorite stops on the tour. Sort of a depressed, run-down city. There was the trolley that took you to Five Points where you could get pancakes at the Original Pancake House, otherwise you were stuck with Subway. I think everyone ODed on Subway that week. Bree Branker made her debut, and David Havasi began rehearsals. We also had a visit from Casey, our choreographer. Probably the highlight of the week, was the man-o-vator at the theater…
Patrick on the man-o-vator

Patrick on the man-o-vator

GREENVILLE: A surprisingly cute town! We all ate our faces off at the myriad restaurants on Main Street, a vast contrast from Birmingham the week before. There was lots of hiking and park-going, and Brian O’Brien’s farewell pub crawl was truly awesome. We also had the best stage management office we’ve ever had – walls lined with windows overlooking the river. Lovely.
Brian makes a new friend on the pub crawl

Brian makes a new friend on the pub crawl

RALEIGH: It was Jonathan Brody’s final week – we had a cajun dinner hosted by Piper to send him off. Not too much doing in Raleigh – some shopping at the mall across from the Candlewood, and some photo-taking of all the old, old houses. There was also an evening of Cornhole at a local bar, which was quite fun. David Havasi made his debut in Brian’s old track. There was a big blow-up among the chorus boys over some ridiculousness that sort of clouded this week.
Taking pictures at an old cemetery in Raleigh

Taking pictures at an old cemetery in Raleigh

DAYTON: Probably second only to Birmingham in general ass-iness. The theater was big and new and nice, and if you ventured over to the Oregon District, there was an area of cuteness, with cool shops and restaurants, but downtown was rather barren. We spent most nights at a bar called J-Alan’s, which Ken dubbed “The Hootennanny”. Terry and Patrick both did open mic performances there. Rick Costa made his debut this week in Jonathan’s old track. Oh, and who could forget Tony’s masterful win in the Beard Contest!
Patrick at open mic night at the "Hootenanny"

Patrick at open mic night at the Hootenanny

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.

Cuz and Piper at her going-away

Cuz and Piper at her going-away

APPLETON: Ryan’s home local! I had fun visiting his house that week. We also hosted a super cool shot night – the ice luge! Even Gary Beach did a shot! I also discovered a great yarn store in Appleton – Iris Fine Yarns. Sarah Lin Johnson took over Piper’s swing track.
Gary taking a shot from the ice luge

Gary taking a shot from the ice luge

MADISON: My love, Madison! One of my top three favorite stops on the tour. That city rocks. We did a lot of bike riding, a lot of eating and drinking (at the Black Dog and Essen Haus), and I did even more yarn shopping. And p.s., the Capitol Farmer’s Market ROCKED! We also had a visit from Jeff Dumas, and Darryl’s family hosted a party for us at their house!
Gurr, Suzanne, Matt and Paula hanging out at Darryl's

Gurr, Suzanne, Matt and Paula hanging out at Darryl's

GRAND RAPIDS: Kind of a letdown after Madison, but it had pockets of cute. I got my hair done at a nice salon. We visited the art museum, and did a little bit of bike riding. But the highlight of the week was having Elaine around to cover Mitchell’s vacation. Yay! And also Bret arriving to cover Ken’s vacation! Scary weather driving to Minneapolis.
Getting drunk with Elaine when I should have been packing

Getting drunk with Elaine when I should have been packing

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.

Brent and Ryan playing mini-golf

Brent and Ryan playing mini-golf

OKLAHOMA CITY: Hmmm…sort of along the lines of Dayton. Not horrible, but not much going on. Crazy windy but hot weather. The Memorial was quite a sight to see, and made the week worth it. We also stayed at a nice hotel downtown called The Colcord, and enjoyed drinks a couple of times at a cool brewpub called Tapwerks. 
OKC Memorial

OKC Memorial

ALBUQUERQUE: Ken was back from vacation, and it was Jovon’s turn for a week off. I was in bliss all week with my buddies Michael and Tanya and Bret all back in my life. I had a great visit to Santa Fe with Tanya, and Albuquerque’s highlights included the breakfast burritos at Frontier, Satellite Coffee and the weather! Gorgeous! Hot and dry. Sadly we said goodbye to our A2, Tony.
With my Ta

With my Ta

With my Bretty

With my Bretty

SAN ANTONIO: Hot and sweaty is how I will remember San Antonio. The Riverwalk was fun – highlights included meals at the Iron Cactus and Boudros. Mi Tierra at the Marketplace was also good, although if I never see menudo again it will be too soon. I had my birthday here, and was treated to a yummy chocolate mousse cake from Ken! I also treated myself to some new camera equipment! Oh, and then there was the Alamo. Eh. Patrick bailed on us this week to go and do “Gossip Girl” for eight weeks, so we scrambled a bit (another couple of gender-bending performances by Tera-Lee), but we had it figured out by….
Tera-Lee doing some gender-bending in Rio

Tera-Lee doing some gender-bending in Rio

FORT WORTH: Where Brian O’Brien re-joined us to help fill in the gap left by Patrick. Kevin Burrows was also around this week to help cover some of other boys’ vacations. Everyone was antsy getting ready for Canada. There was a quick trip to the Stockyards, but otherwise it was all about getting phones, and credit cards and money in order. Vancouver here we come!
Packing up trunks for Canada

Packing up trunks for Canada

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!

Goodbye to Florida

So as for the blog, I’m going to continue writing and publishing it without a password for now, and see how it goes. I hate to exclude anyone, and would like to keep it open and available. For me, I will try to be as truthful and candid as I can be about my experiences, within reason, and will attempt to give personal journaling another try, so that I have a completely candid account of this experience. It will be a good exercise for me to do some more writing – and if I feel like I have written anything that I want to share with anyone, I can always email it out.

Moving on.

So, we come to the end of our six weeks in Florida. Orlando ended up being a sort of restful stop. I didn’t try to go to any amusement parks – I went to Disneyworld last year when we were in Tampa, and I feel like I’ve had my fill for a while.

Load-in went smoothly – it’s taking less and less time for the guys to get the show in, which is great because it means more rest for them. They were able to cut out on Monday before 9:30pm and on Tuesday they were done by lunchtime and had the afternoon to rest before the show that evening.

We had our load-in lunch at a restaurant called City Fish near Lake Eola, which is the area where Ken was staying. I had a delicious lobster roll and dreamt about it all week until I returned yesterday with Ryan and had another!

On Wednesday I splurged and went to the Aveda salon to get my hair colored and cut. I’ve only had my hair professionally colored once and that was in 1997 – it had gotten so bleached from the sun, and from coloring it myself, that it needed some help. Cara, my stylist, did lowlights and used my current color as highlights. It looks great – I’m really happy with it, and she gave me the magic formula so that I can go to any Aveda salon and have it replicated.

Thursday was another easy-going day – I walked around the cute shopping area of Winter Park, and got a pedicure.

Friday was Julie Barnes’ going away party. Julie is one of my faves in the cast. She’s English, first of all, and just has a great sense of humor and is so down-to-earth. I’ll really miss having her around. Her party was at a tiki bar in downtown Orlando, which was a bit overrun with crazy spring breakers, but we staked out an area on the outdoor patio and pretty much had it for ourselves. It was a really fun night with too many fruity drinks, and shots courtesy of Tony Pittsley.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Tim

Tim

Tony with a tray of shots

Tony with a tray of shots

Adam and Julie

Adam and Julie

Julie and Jenn

Julie and Jenn

Nigel and Angelina

Nigel and Angelina

Saturday was a day of recovery for most of the company, stumbling through two shows. 

Sunday was a big day at Spamalot, for we began THE BATTLE OF THE BEARDS! Terry Thomas, our interim prop guy (Vera leaves this week for a two month leave of absence), has quite a substantial beard – I wish I had a photo to share, but I don’t. His facial hair inspired Ken to start a competition between all the guys on the crew, to see who could grow the most facial hair in a month. Everyone had to come in clean shaven on Sunday and the growing begins on Monday. I have never seen Ryan without a beard, and this is what greeted me on Sunday morning at work:

Pretty funny, right?? 

Especially when this is what I am used to:

Let the battle begin!

Sunday was also Julie’s last day – there were usual shenanigans during the show including rubber chickens instead of bread loaves, a solo tap cross, a fart machine, and a few others. Julie got stickers printed for everyone to put on our trunks that say “Julie bailed on us in Orlando” – very cute. We will miss her so! Why do all the good people have to leave???

And now on to Birmingham, Alabama. I’m ready for a change of pace from Florida. If nothing else, I am ready to leave all the traffic behind! It’s worse than LA here! Tallulah and I are road tripping it to Alabama. It’s a nine hour drive, but I got an amazing car rental rate ($8 a day – no joke!) and I’d rather drive than deal with flying and airports. I’m kind of looking forward to nine hours of music and podcasts. Speaking of music and podcasts – I discovered a very cool new musician this week through one of the podcasts I listen to – her name is Cassandra Kubinski and she is a New York City-based singer. If you like Regina Spektor, singer/songwriter-type of music, check her out – I am loving her CD, Hold the Sun. Here’s her website if you want to check her out – http://www.ckubinski.com/ You can find her albums on iTunes.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Thoughts on Blogging

I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. I think it’s partially because we’ve been so busy at work, with rehearsals and a photo call, so there hasn’t been much to write about.

I’ve also been feeling a little down. Really missing my girlfriends. Not just the ones in New York and California and Albuquerque, but the ones who have left the tour. I’m feeling a bit like the lone girl in a sea of men! Which isn’t bad, I actually really enjoy working with guys, but sometimes it’s nice to have some girl time. At least Elaine comes to sub in Minneapolis, which isn’t too far off.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my blog this week and whether or not I should continue to keep it totally public. My friend Fran, who also has a blog about touring, was misquoted last week on a show biz website by some stranger who had been reading her blog – subsequently she has decided to discontinue her site, as it has clearly gotten into the wrong hands, and has gotten away from being what she had intended it to be – a newsletter of sorts for friends. 

After I found out about that, I started thinking about this blog. I certainly don’t have as many readers as Fran, but it is a little weird not knowing who exactly is reading this. I started this blog primarily as a diary for myself – back in the age of film cameras, I used to scrapbook everything. Now with everything being digital, I thought a blog would be a good way to document everything. And with it being online, it would be easy to share photos with family and friends, and they could keep up with me and my whereabouts. As more and more people have found out about the site, it has become increasingly harder to be really candid about life and work on the road. So “Travels with Tallulah” has become more of an event diary, with not as much opinion or commentary, which is fine. But I wonder when I look back at it years from now, will I wish I had been able to keep a more detailed account of what actually happened? Sure I could keep a private diary, but its hard enough to keep up with doing a blog post every week, let alone journalling as well.

So I’m thinking about making the site password protected, and allowing access only to those who I originally intended to share it with – close family and friends. I don’t like to exclude people, but I’m not sure it’s serving the purpose I intended it to anymore. I’m still not totally sold on the idea yet, mostly because of my crafting content – I like for other knitters to be able to access my projects, but I may have to sacrifice that. What happened with Fran’s blog really made me think. And it would be really nice to be able to just freely write whatever I am thinking and feeling, without having to worry about ramifications.

What do you think? Comments? Opinions? Let me know.

So – as for the travel diary part of the blog – like I said, not much doin’ the past two weeks. We did have a photo call in West Palm Beach, and I got some really good shots from backstage.

We also said goodbye to another of the original company members – our drummer, Lee. Lee is a really cool, mellow guy, and one kick-ass drummer. He will definitely be missed. We did him right by sending him off with a party at a bar called O’Boobigans, a mix between Hooters and an Irish pub, in Clearwater, Florida. 

This week in Orlando winds up our six-week Florida trek. It’s been nice to be in shorts and t-shirts in February and March, and fantastic to be near the ocean again, but I’m ready for a change of scenery.

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter!  xxx