San Francisco Part 3 – Land’s End, the Zoo and the Haight

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Last Days in San Francisco

When Ryan and I got back to the city after the weekend in Tahoe, we realized we had very little time left in San Francisco before it would be time for me to go to Los Angeles, and for Ryan to head home – so we made a game plan to try and fit in as much as we could in the time left.

One thing I really wanted to make sure we did was head over to my old neighborhood in the Richmond district. We took the bus over there one day and walked through the streets of Seacliff, by all the big houses, to the entrance to Baker Beach. From there we had a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge – there was a bit of fog, like always, but we managed to get some decent photos. Then we walked over to Land’s End, and hiked the coastal trail along the cliffs, past the Legion of Honor, ending up at the ruins of the Sutro Baths. It is so pretty over at that end of San Francisco, you hardly know you are in the city.

At Baker Beach

At Baker Beach

At the Sutro Baths

At the Sutro Baths

Our next to last weekend in San Francisco was Pride Weekend. It was pretty crazy in our neighborhood, being so close to Castro Street – we were definitely in the thick of things. We tried to take a cab home on Saturday night after having drinks downtown with Neil, Laura, Chris and Lorin, who had come to see “Spamalot” that night, but the streets were all closed off around the Castro, so we had to walk through crowds and crowds of people (at 1am!) for about five blocks to get home. I had Sunday afternoon off at work. As the parade went directly past the theater, it was literally impossible for patrons to get there, so we had no matinee, but a Sunday evening show instead. To escape the crowds, Ryan and I went over to North Beach for the afternoon to shop at City Lights and get lunch at Mario’s. We sat in Washington Square Park and enjoyed the sunshine.

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Castro Street at 1am on Pride Weekend

Castro Street at 1am on Pride Weekend

On Monday, I rented a car and we drove down to Sunnyvale, where (after lunch at In-and-Out Burger!) I bought a sewing machine! I got the Janome 2010, and so far I love it! Everyone at Eddie’s Quilting Bee (where I bought the machine) was very helpful, and I definitely feel like I got the right machine for me.

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In the afternoon, Ryan and I went to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. I hadn’t been there for years, since I was a little kid, and Ryan really wanted to go. It’s a fun place to see – such a crazy house with doors and stairways leading to nowhere. The woman who owned the house, Sarah Winchester, believed that she had to keep building on the house in order to ward off evil spirits. Its definitely a fun place to check out if you are ever in the area.

After that, we met up with a couple of old friends of mine for dinner. I’ve known Gina and Dawn almost my whole life – they grew up around the corner from me, and we were inseparable when we were younger. It was really nice to see them and to catch up.

Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

With Gina and Dawn

With Gina and Dawn

The next day, back in San Francisco, Ryan and I toured Alcatraz. The first time I went to Alcatraz wasn’t until my twenties, and I couldn’t believe I had never gone before. It is a really interesting tour, and the audio recording that accompanies it is really well done. It was fun to take the ferry there with Ryan and to see the place again with him. We made it back to North Beach in time to have dinner at The Stinking Rose before I had to go downtown for work. Such a nice day!

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Sadly, on Wednesday, it was time for Ryan to begin his long trek back to Wisconsin. He had planned a longer route back, stopping in Denver for a few days around the fourth of July. It was sad to say goodbye to him again, especially after getting back into a routine together, but he is hoping to come out to Los Angeles for a visit in August, so it won’t be too long before we get to see each other again.

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I spent Thursday and Friday tying up loose ends and packing. I had lunch with a couple of friends – Regina on Thursday and Andrea on Friday. We finished up the weekend of shows and then on Monday, I drove down highway 5 to Los Angeles.

We are playing LA for nine weeks, even longer than we were in San Francisco, so I was very, very happy to find that the apartment I had rented was so perfect. It is cute and comfortable, and has a really nice outdoor space, which is enclosed, so Tallulah can spend time outside without me worrying that she will get out. The area is nice, too – I am living in Beachwood Canyon, which is adjacent to the Hollywood Hills and very close to Griffith Park. The commute to work hasn’t been too bad either.

My dear friend Christopher, who I went to college with and who I was roommates with in New York (but who lives here now) met me at the apartment and helped me unpack. We had dinner that night with his boyfriend Sean, and I got to see their cute new house.

The living room at my LA rental

The living room at my LA rental

My patio in LA

My patio in LA

Load-in Tuesday was sort of run-of-the-mill at work, overshadowed by the fact that Michael Jackson’s funeral was taking place just down the street at the Staples Center. I wasn’t a huge MJ fan growing up, but there is no denying his cultural impact on my generation. It is a strange thing, his passing. I still haven’t quite grasped it. It’s the end of something big.

Our official “opening” was Wednesday night and we had a big party afterwards on the roof at The Standard Hotel. Christopher and Sean came with me as my dates, and we had a really nice time. There were some celebrities there, which was kind of fun – including our own Richard Chamberlain. It was funny to see the likes of Richard Chamberlain relaxing on a waterbed pod next to the pool! How LA!

So now “Spamalot” is up and running, and I have some time to relax and unwind, which I really needed after the hectic seven weeks in San Francisco. I loved being there and seeing all my family and friends, but I am glad to have some time now to get my head together and to prepare for what happens next, after the tour ends in October. I expect I will be doing some sightseeing here in LA and some catching up with friends, but in more low-key fashion, for sure!

More on LA to come!

San Francisco Days

So the day after Ryan arrived was unfortunately a two-show day. But it gave him a chance to rest up a bit after the long ride across the country. Val, one of my friends from Flickr stopped by the theater before the afternoon show. She was in town for the day, and unfortunately I couldn’t meet up with her for an extended period of time, but I did want to say hi to her in person – and she had the best surprise for me – a care package put together by a whole group of the girls who I have befriended on Flickr through sharing our photos. It was so nice unwrapping their treats and reading their cards. I was so touched by the gesture! And it was great to see Val’s smiling face again.

That night I had a huge group of family and friends at the show – all my siblings, as well as all my close high school friends. I gave my sister Becky, her friend Nicole, my brother Nick and his girlfriend Morgan a backstage tour after the show. It was a lot of fun showing them around – and I think they all really enjoyed the show.

Sunday was the day of my big BBQ! I took the day off work and Ryan and I spent the afternoon preparing food for everyone. We had a really great spread that included chicken feta burgers, kabobs, a peach, avocado and goat cheese salad as well as homemade mango salsa and pints and pints of Bi-rite ice cream! Friends started arriving soon after 4pm. I had invited all of my siblings and their significant others, as well as all my closest high school friends, and a couple of friends from college. It was so nice to have so many of my favorite people all under one roof for the afternoon! Ryan was a champ at the grill, and we sufficiently stuffed everyone full of food and drink. It was a really nice afternoon and evening – and we spent the later evening hours after most everyone else was gone, hanging with Becky, Nick, Dave and Morgan. I was exhausted but happy at the end of the day.

My brother-in-law Dave (my sister Becky is in the background)

My brother-in-law Dave (my sister Becky is in the background)

Fin and Mary

Fin and Mary

Me and my sibs

Me and my sibs

The next day Ryan and I got up early and rented a car and drove down beautiful Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. We started off our day with lunch at Taqueria Santa Cruz (burritos as big as your head!) and then headed over to Seabright Beach. We napped for a while on the sand and then walked around the lighthouse, taking photos. After that, we drove downtown and walked around the shops for a couple of hours, before heading over the hill (Highway 17) to Sunnyvale, to meet up with my family for dinner at Cicero’s Pizza (my very fave!!). After dinner we went back to my parents’ house for dessert and a bit more hanging out before driving back to San Francisco. It was a very full day, but a good one.

The lighthouse at Seabright Beach

The lighthouse at Seabright Beach

at Seabright Beach

at Seabright Beach

On Tuesday, Ryan and I just chilled out at the apartment, the events of the past two busy days had caught up with us and we were tired! In the afternoon, Mary called to say that she and David (another of my closest friends from high school  – and college actually, we both went to UCSD) were headed over to our place. David was only in town for a couple of days (he plays for the symphony in Honolulu) so it was great that I would get an opportunity to see him, even if it was only a short one. They came over and we hung out at the house for a while and then walked over to Bi-Rite to get ice cream cones, which we ate in Dolores Park. It was nice to see David – it sounds like he might be moving back to California in the near future, which would be great – I’m more likely to see him if he’s in California – Hawaii is a little harder to get to!

David, Ryan and Mary goofing around in Dolores Park

David, Ryan and Mary goofing around in Dolores Park

Wednesday was my birthday. 35! Crazy. I still can’t believe it. I don’t feel 35. We had two shows, so that didn’t leave much time for fun birthday things, but I did have a cake at work – Bi-Rite ice cream cake! (Are you sensing a theme?). It was delicious. Ryan met me for dinner. We walked over to Sotano Grill on Powell and took advantage of happy hour – I had two mojitas with my enchiladas – yum! After work, I went home and we watched a movie. My mom had given me a couple of DVDs for my birthday – one of them was the documentary “Show Business” about the Broadway season a couple of years ago (when “Wicked”, “Avenue Q”, “Caroline or Change” and “Taboo” were opening). Ryan and I watched the DVD that night – it made me miss New York! I especially remember that season well as I went to the Tony party for “Avenue Q” after their surprise win for Best Musical, and “Caroline or Change” was one of my most favorite productions ever – I saw it five times!

On Thursday, Ryan and I went over to the Haight and walked around for a bit. I left Ryan there when I had to go to work, and he spent two-and-a-half hours in Amoeba Records, coming home with a stack of used CDs. I knew he would love it in there. That night after the show, I hosted a pub crawl in North Beach. I spent so much time there in my early twenties hanging out with Michele (primarily at Tosca Cafe), and love the neighborhood so much, that I really wanted to share it with my coworkers. We went to Vesuvio’s, Tosca, Specs and Tony Nik’s (Savoy Tivoli was also on the list but we got there after last call, so we ended up back at Specs). A lot of people showed up at Vesuvio’s and then after that the crowd began to thin out, but I think everyone enjoyed themselves, and really liked the bars. There were a few people who wouldn’t leave Tosca, which I think is a good thing! It is my favorite bar after all, and I don’t blame them for wanting to stay. Ryan and I finished off the crawl with a slice of pizza before heading back home. It was a very successful night!

Paula at Vesuvio's

Paula at Vesuvio's

The company enjoying Tosca

The company enjoying Tosca

Tosca Cafe

Tosca Cafe

Nate and David

Nate and David at Specs'

On Friday Ryan and I had dinner at House of Nanking in Chinatown – my favorite Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. It has expanded and the digs have gotten nicer since I last dined there, but the wait staff were still mean and curt as always (which is part of the charm!) and the food was as delicious as I remember.

On Saturday I had two shows, and in between Ryan met me for dinner and we picked up a rental car which we used for the next three days for our trip to Tahoe! I took Sunday off work and we got up early and drove to Truckee, where we met up with my family. My dad had rented an amazing house in Tahoe Donner for the weekend, and all of my siblings were there, as well as Dave and Morgan and Nick and Morgan’s two dogs (Tallulah came as well, although she stayed in the bedroom safely away from the two dogs!). We had such a nice weekend, playing ping pong and going in the hot tub, watching old movies from our childhood (“Top Gun” ha!) and exploring the area. On Sunday after we got settled in, my mom and dad took Ryan and I on a drive around the north end of the lake to Incline Village and Sand Harbor (where we used to go as kids). The next day Ryan and I explored downtown Truckee in the morning and then took a long hike near Tahoe City in the afternoon. The hike proved to be more strenuous than we expected – there was still a ton of snow on the ground, so finding the trail wasn’t always easy – but the views from the top were amazing. We had a 360 degree view of Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake. We hiked two and a half miles to a small serene lake called Ellis Lake, and then hiked back – five miles in total, through all kinds of different terrain – snow, rocks, forest…it was really the perfect hike. That night we had a lovely Italian meal in Truckee with my parents (by that time all my siblings had headed back to the Bay Area), and then on Tuesday morning we packed up and headed back into the city as well. It was a lovely family weekend.

Nick and his dog, Val

Nick and his dog, Val

Lake Tahoe (at Sand Harbor)

Lake Tahoe (at Sand Harbor)

Sand Harbor

Sand Harbor

Ryan on our hike

Ryan on our hike

The view of Donner Lake from the top

The view of Donner Lake from the top

Snowy Sierras

Snowy Sierras

Trees at the peak

Trees at the peak

Now its back to work for our final two weeks in San Francisco. There’s so much still to do and so many people still to see. I know I’m not going to get around to all of it, so to all of you who I don’t get to see – apologies! I have been trying my hardest to fit everything in, and unfortunately I’m just not going to get around to all of it, or to seeing everyone. I’ll just have to come back!

Spending time in San Francisco

It has been a busy couple of weeks here in San Francisco. Mostly I have been trying to see people and catch up with old friends. I’ve been trying to layer that in with time for myself, and – oh yeah, work! But its been a challenge! I have definitely been feeling a bit burnt out the last couple of days, but I wouldn’t trade being here for anything.

I had the unfortunate experience of being pick-pocketed last week. I was on Haight Street, and someone snagged my iPhone out of my bag. That was a big drag. Partially because I had just replaced my phone a couple of weeks ago when we returned from Alaska, and partially (well mostly) because it ruined my day off, having to go downtown to AT&T and deal with it. My lousy afternoon was remedied though by dinner at Donna Rose’s house. Donna is a former stage manager who I worked with many times at ACT. I just love her to death. She hosted dinner for myself, Elisa (another stage manager from ACT) and Gregory (an ACT company actor) at her place in Pleasant Hill. It was such a lovely evening – catching up on all the ACT news, and hanging with old friends.

The next day, I attempted to do what I had set out to do the day before (before the whole phone snatching debacle) – go to Golden Gate Park and take some photos – and this time, with a close eye on my iPhone, I had better luck. I walked around for a couple of hours snapping shots. It was really nice out and it was fun to see how the park has changed (the newly remodeled Academy of Sciences looks amazing), and what has remained the same.

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We have been on the “Broadway schedule” here in San Francisco, which means two shows on Wednesday, and only one on Sunday. While two on Wednesday kind of feels like a drag while we are doing them, having only one on Sunday is amazing. It really feels like we do get a proper weekend, having Sunday evening free. The week does go by quickly though with the two shows on Wednesday, and last week we also had an understudy rehearsal thrown in on Thursday. To make the most of the week, and so that it didn’t feel like every waking moment was being taken up by work, I made myself get out of the house early on Thursday and headed over to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Originally I planned to go the SFMoma to catch the Georgia O’Keefe/Ansel Adams exhibit which I had seen previously in Santa Fe and just loved. When I arrived though, I realized there was another fantastic photography exhibit there as well – Robert Frank’s “The Americans”. “The Americans” is a collection of photographs that Frank took in the 1950’s as he traveled around the country, observing American life. They are a truly fantastic collection of candids. I’m so happy that I was able to see the exhibit, because it was really inspiring. If you are in the Bay Area, try and see it while it is here!

At the SFMoma

At the SFMoma

Walking by the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Walking by the Contemporary Jewish Museum

After understudy rehearsal, I had my first sewing class! Roy, one of our wardrobe supervisors, agreed to teach me and Suzanne (one of our hair supervisors) how to sew. We are having a blast. First Roy taught us all about the machines and the different things they can do. Then we practiced stitching on scraps of fabric. And then, we each made a pencil case – with a zipper! We are currently working on tote bags, and then we are moving on to garments (I am making a top, and Suzanne is making a sundress). I’m starting to look at sewing machines. Suggestions for a good beginner machine, anyone??

My handmade pencil case!

My handmade pencil case!

After the show that night, I went over to Lyn and Chris’s place (two of the actors from the show) for drinks with Lyn. It was really nice hanging out with her. I love Lyn a lot – she makes me laugh. She is definitely one of the people I have connected with most on the show. We had a really great time. It was funny being back at the Steinhart, too – the apartment building Lyn and Chris are staying in – its where I stayed when I came back to do “A Christmas Carol” at ACT in 2002. It seems like forever ago.

On Friday, I had lunch with Katherine, one of my closest friends from college, and then did some shopping at Britex Fabrics for all my sewing projects.

That night at work I was ecstatic to find that my Duaflex camera had arrived! I ordered the old Duaflex from ebay to use to take “Through the Viewfinder” (TtV) photos. Basically you build a “contraption” around the Duaflex to block the light, and then you use your digital camera to photograph the image on the Duaflex’s viewfinder. You end up with some really cool grainy images. I’m having a blast playing with it.

My Duaflex

My Duaflex

The "contraption"

The "contraption"

TtV - Chinatown

TtV - Chinatown

TtV - Subway

TtV - Subway

On Saturday, my voice teacher from high school, Sandie, came to the matinee along with Kathie, the mother of three boys who I used to do theater with in high school. My friend Carrie and her husband Patrick were also at the show, and I gave everyone a tour afterward. I then had lunch with Sandie and Kathie and caught up on what all the kids who I used to do junior theater with were doing. It was so great seeing both of them and I’m looking forward to trying to connect with some of Kathie’s boys when we get to LA (where two of them live).

On Sunday, we had the luxurious one-show day and then I headed over to North Beach to meet up with Fin, Mary, Erika and Tristin for dinner to celebrate Fin’s birthday. I was so excited to finally be in town for a get together, and to not be working, no less! We had a yummy meal at Mona Lisa, and then walked down to the wharf and around Pier 39. It was a double celebration of sorts, as it was not only Fin’s birthday, but she is also expecting her first baby! So exciting.

Mary and Fin

Mary and Fin

I knew that my next couple of Mondays off were going to be busy, so I made it a point to spend this past Monday and Tuesday just doing stuff around the house, like cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping. Ryan was planning on arriving in town on Friday so I wanted to make sure everything was ready for him. I also wanted to spend some time working on some of my projects – like getting my Duaflex contraption made and cutting out the pattern for my tote bag (my homework for sewing class!). It was a very productive couple of days – and it was really nice to just check some things off my list of “to dos”.

On Wednesday, we again had two shows. Thursday I went downtown at noon and met up with Katherine and Monique, my roommate from college, who I hadn’t seen for nine years! Monique was in town for a few days with her daughter Amelia for a mother/daughter trip. It was so great to see her – it was like no time had passed (except that she now has an eight-year-old daughter and two sons!). We had such a nice time catching up. We ate lunch at Lori’s Diner, a 50’s style restaurant on Powell Street. Amelia was a hoot, too – the spitting image of her mom. Sassy and funny and smart. Definitely her mother’s daughter. I really hope it is not another nine years before I see Monique again. I love her so much!

Amelia

Amelia

Me and Monique

Me and Monique

In the afternoon, after splitting off from Monique, Amelia and Katherine, I went over to North Beach to do some scouting for a pub crawl that I am putting together for next week. And then, I went in early to the theater for sewing class #2! We started putting together our tote bags. We didn’t quite finish before our show call, though, so you’ll have to wait until next week for photos of our finished products.

And then on Friday I did a big shopping run in the morning for supplies for the BBQ I am throwing on Sunday for all my Bay Area friends – and in the afternoon, Ryan arrived! He had spent the previous four and a half days riding his motorcycle to San Francisco from Green Bay. I was so, so happy to see him. The next two weeks will be all about adventures with him. I have missed him so!

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Finally…home to San Francisco

There was a mix-up with the plane flight to San Francisco, and the day before we were set to leave, I found out that Tallulah would not be allowed to fly on the Frontier flight that I was booked on. Some last minute ticket-changing was done, and as luck would have it, Tallulah and I ended up in first class on a United Airlines flight to Oakland! The ticket was surprisingly cheap, and since overweight bags are allowed (without charge) for first class passengers, it actually ended up being less expensive for me to fly first class rather than coach (where I would have had to pay for my overweight bags). I had never flown first class before, and it was a real treat – lots of room, drinks constantly being served, and a yummy lunch!

Mary (one of my best friends from high school) met me at the airport and drove me to my rental apartment in San Francisco. The lower unit in an old Victorian (my boss, Ken, is renting the upper unit), my apartment is spacious, bright and gorgeous. I love it. After getting unpacked, Mary took me to Trader Joe’s to get some groceries, and then we drove over to North Beach where we had dinner at the Stinking Rose and drinks at Specs. It was great seeing Mary – I have missed her so much!

Chianti bottles at the Stinking Rose

Chianti bottles at the Stinking Rose

Mary

Mary

The next day my parents and my brother Simon came by and had lunch with me at Chow. It was lovely to see them. That evening I joined the crew at the Golden Gate Theater for load-in.

The Golden Gate is dear to me in that it is the theater where I saw my first touring Broadway show – “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1989, starring Topol. There is another tour of “Fiddler” out right now, still starring Topol! The Golden Gate is in a nasty part of town – the Tenderloin – which has gotten so much worse than I remember it. Maybe I was just ignorant or oblivious when I lived and worked in San Francisco a few years ago, but I don’t remember ever thinking the Tenderloin was dangerous – just kind of skeevy. Now I think it’s dangerous. There was a drive-by shooting outside the Golden Gate a couple of weeks ago. Apparently when there is no show in residence, the area around the theater is really, really bad. While a show is in performance there is security, a big police presence, and a lot of street light. I guess when the lights go out and the security and police go home, its a different story. There is talk of trying to clean up the area and make a real “theater district” by opening some restaurants nearby – but two of the city’s largest soup kitchens are within blocks of both the Golden Gate Theater and the Orpheum, so I don’t know how realistic that plan is, unfortunately. I remember after I visited New York City the first time, I was amazed at how few homeless people I saw – only a couple of people here and there on the subway. In San Francisco the homeless presence is huge – it always has been, and sadly, it still is.

We spent the next couple of days at the theater continuing the load-in, and doing a little bit of re-tech and rehearsal. For this engagement and for the next one in Los Angeles, the producers have beefed up our lighting and sound package, and restored our full orchestra (you might remember that we downsized the orchestra last year in West Point). So we spent some time looking at light cues, reprogramming, and on Thursday, we did a full dress rehearsal in the afternoon so that the cast could perform the show with the restored orchestration before having to do it in front of an audience. It also gave Linda Lee, our new wardrobe supervisor, a chance to go through the show with the local dressers. It actually proved to be very valuable on all fronts as all departments had a trial run before the first performance. It made our first preview on Friday very low stress as the local crew already had a clue about what they were meant to be doing.

There were some familiar faces at load-in. I had been wondering if any stagehands who I had worked with previously at ACT might be around. Denise, who had worked as assistant sound at the Geary, is now the house sound head at the Golden Gate – it was really nice to see her. The first person I ran into though, was Paul, my friend Regina’s husband (Regina was a stage manager who I assisted at ACT – now she works for the local producing organization), who was standing at the stage door when I arrived on Tuesday night. Paul is on our crew as one of our local spot operators. I also knew one of the riggers on the load-in, Cheyenne, who I had done “High Society” with in 1997 – and who I hadn’t seen since. I cannot believe it’s been twelve years since I worked on that show!

In between rehearsal and load-in, I did have some time off. On Thursday night I went to one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, La Mediterranee, for some middle eastern food, and on Friday afternoon I walked over to North Beach and spent some time at Cafe Puccini, and then went to Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Shop, where I had one of their amazing breaded eggplant sandwiches. Of course, I was thinking of and missing Michele the whole time. We spent so much time together in that neighborhood back in the day – I really wish she were here now as well! Earlier that day I walked over to 24th Street in Noe Valley to pick up shampoo at the Aveda store, and I happened upon Noe Knit, a yarn store. I went inside and started talking to Susie, the woman who was working there – and it turns out that she knows my friend, Patty, from when Patty worked in SF on “Jersey Boys” and attended the Chicks with Sticks knitting group. Susie is also a member of the 365 group on Flickr. Such a small world!

North Beach

North Beach

Mario's

Mario's

The best damn sandwich on the planet

The best damn sandwich on the planet

We had our first performance of “Spamalot” on Friday night – and it was an amazing audience – in fact all of our preview audiences were fantastic. It was a four show weekend, with lots of creatives in attendance – we had designers there earlier in the week and then Casey, our choreographer, and Todd, our musical supervisor were at the show on Friday. BT, our associate director, and Eric Idle would arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Monday was the day off. Mary and Erika drove into the city and we had lunch together at the Dolores Park Cafe. After sufficiently stuffing ourselves, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to Mill Valley, and into the hills to Muir Woods. It was Memorial Day, so the park was a tad crowded, but we still had a nice walk through the redwoods. I love Muir Woods – so pretty, and so peaceful – even with the crowds. After our hike we drove back to my neighborhood and got in line for some ice cream at the Bi-Rite Creamery. It was a half hour wait, but well worth it. Their homemade ice cream is DE-licious. I had salted caramel and roasted banana. Yum!

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

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Wednesday was our official opening night performance. It went very well, and was followed by a fun party at the Hotel Monaco. It was nice to feel the rush of a big opening again. Eric Idle and John du Prez got up on stage with the cast during the curtain call and joined in the sing-a-long. We were all allowed one guest to the show and party, and so my college friend Katherine was my “plus one”. We had a really nice time at the party, and I’m looking forward to getting together again with Katherine so that we can catch up properly.

Jeff and Alexa at the opening night party

Jeff and Alexa at the opening night party

Chris and Lyn at the party

Chris and Lyn at the party

I took it easy on Thursday and Friday, catching up on things like laundry and grocery shopping, and restoring my computer after I had a new, bigger hard drive installed. I spent some of Thursday afternoon walking around the Mission district, and on Friday I met up with Julie Haber, a stage manager who I worked with at ACT, for lunch. It was so nice seeing Julie and hearing all about her current show which is playing at Berkeley Rep, and catching up on what we’ve been up to the last couple of years. Julie is also a very talented photographer, so it was fun talking nerdy photography stuff with her.

I sit here now, writing this blog, on Saturday night – when I should be at work. However, Ken decided that he was going to call both shows today, so he gave Jovon and I each a show off. What a luxury! I stayed and worked the matinee while Jovon took off, and then I was free after the matinee. I walked over to North Beach and then down to the Wharf, and then back to North Beach for dinner, and then home to watch a movie and blog. Lovely! And shortly I will be off to bed as my parents are coming over early for brunch before they go to see the matinee of “Wicked”.

Cable cars down near the wharf

Cable cars down near the wharf

I can’t even express how happy I am to be “home”. I keep running into people I know and I love. I had drinks with Ruth Saunders on Tuesday night (Ruth used to work at ACT) and ran into some of the Geary stage crew as I was walking to meet her. Andrea, who was the wardrobe supervisor at ACT my first year there, stopped by the Golden Gate stage door on Wednesday to say hi. I saw my friend Regina over at the Shorenstein-Hayes offices (the local presenters) when I was there to pick up the mail. It is just great being back in a place where I have so many amazing friends. And I am looking so forward to seeing all of them in the coming weeks! I am trying to savor every moment – I just hope the time doesn’t go by too fast!

Goin' Back to Cali

The first week in Vancouver whizzed by. After celebrating Canada Day, Ryan had to go back to work to begin the load-in. I had one more glorious day off. I took the bus over to Kitsilano, a beach neighborhood west of us. I did some shopping, sat in a coffee shop for a while, and walked down by the beach. It was a nice ending to our few days off.

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On Thursday I was back at work. The Centre Theater is plenty big for us and although the local crew are non-union, they are pretty good, so the load-in and opening went smoothly. We aren’t sold very well here in Vancouver, unfortunately, due in part to a mistake on the Broadway Across Canada website, which claimed we are sold out. Not so. The enthusiasm of the audiences have made up for their small size, though.

Friday was spent packing and organizing, because after only two days back at work, Ryan and I were heading out to California for the weekend to celebrate Jen and Mike’s wedding, having been allowed a couple of personal days from work. We dropped Tallulah off at her gay uncles’ apartment (Ken and Jeff) on Friday afternoon. They took very good care of her all weekend while we were away.

So on Saturday we headed back to my hometown of Sunnyvale, California, where we first met up with my family for lunch at the best pizza place in the whole entire world, Ciceros. Ryan agrees that it is really good pizza!

After that we went back to our hotel to get ready for the wedding. Jen (well, we call her Fin – a shortening of her last name, Finney) is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met when I was fifteen, when we were all taking catechism classes to prepare for confirmation. Out of those classes developed a youth group, and I am still very close with all of my friends from that time. So Fin met Mike a couple of years ago, and while we were in Salt Lake City, she called to tell me they had gotten engaged. I’m so happy I was able to make it back to California for the wedding!

Ryan and I met up with Bryan (another of my good friends from youth group) and his lovely girlfriend, Erica, at the Saratoga Country Club for the wedding. The ceremony was short and sweet and touching – both Mike and Fin got a bit choked up…and I did too! It’s very overwhelming to see one of your best childhood friends get married! It was a beautiful setting, in a gazebo overlooking the valley.

The reception was held at a hall at the Country Club, and I had a blast at our table, catching up with Mary and Erika, who were both bridesmaids, Tristin and her husband Ross, and Bryan and Erica. We ate, we danced, we laughed. It was great fun. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and had more drinks at the hotel bar!

Mr. and Mrs. Draeger

Mr. and Mrs. Draeger

Erika, Mary, Fin and Mike

Erika, Mary, Fin and Mike

M, Mary, Fin, Erika and Tristan

M, Mary, Fin, Erika and Tristan

Bry and Erica

Bry and Erica

On Sunday, we woke up early-ish and met up with Fin and Mike and their families, and some of our friends for brunch. Then Mary, Ryan and I headed off to San Francisco for the day. Ryan and I got a great deal on a convertible at the rental car place – perfect for sightseeing around northern California!

We had plans to meet up with Laura and Neil at their place in Oakland later in the afternoon, so a stop in San Francisco seemed like the best way to spend the earlier part of the day, especially since Ryan had never been there! We first drove along the coastline in the Sunset district, stopping for a minute in the Richmond district to see my old apartment building, and Mary’s (how I miss living there!), and then set out across the Golden Gate Bridge to the vista point on the other side. Unfortunately, there was typical San Francisco fog, so the bridge and city were hard to see, but Ryan got the idea. We then went back across and into the city, and drove down windy Lombard Street. Then we went over to North Beach, my favorite neighborhood, and walked around a bit and got some gelato.

Foggy Golden Gate

Foggy Golden Gate

The view from Lombard Street

The view from Lombard Street

Mary in Washington Square Park

Mary in Washington Square Park

Ryan in the convertible

Ryan in the convertible

Me outside Vesuvio in North Beach

Me outside Vesuvio in North Beach

After a few hours in San Francisco, we drove over the Bay Bridge to Oakland for a BBQ at Neil and Laura’s. It was the first time meeting their beautiful son, Quincy. What a cute kid! It was a great surprise to see that Laura is pregnant again and expecting their second son in three months time! We also were able to catch up with another old friend, Chris, and his wife Lorin. And then Jason surprised us, showing up for some good eats and good company as well!
Laura, Neil and Quincy

Laura, Neil and Quincy

With Mary, Chris, Jason, Lorin and Neil

With Mary, Chris, Jason, Lorin and Neil

Baby Q

Baby Q

After stuffing our faces, we got back in the convertible and headed back to Sunnyvale, to one of my favorite bars, the Duke of Edinburgh, to meet up with David, who was in town for a hot second before flying to Austria to play with the opera for two months (he’s a bass player). Erika, Bryan and Erica also joined us for a couple of pints. It was great to see David – and to hear about his exciting opportunity in Austria! I can’t wait to see the pictures he takes!
David and Mary at the Duke

David and Mary at the Duke

After drinks, we had to say goodbye to all of my friends. I love them so much! Until next time!

On Monday, we had to get our priorities straight. Ryan needed to have his first In-N-Out Burger experience. It did not disappoint.

Then we got in the convertible and drove over the hill to Santa Cruz, which is probably my favorite place on earth. I spent two blissful summers there working at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and many days lounging on the beach. It is just such a cool town, with such beautiful surroundings. We drove through the UC Santa Cruz campus first, and I showed Ryan the redwood glen where I did two shows with SSC. We saw some carpenters working on building the current set.

After that we drove along the coastline to the lighthouse and visited the Surfer Museum. We watched the surfers outside for a while. Then we drove over to Natural Bridges Beach and chilled out for a bit before heading downtown to check out the shops. It was a great afternoon. 

Pigeon Cove

Pigeon Cove

Catching a wave

Catching a wave

Ryan at Natural Bridges

Ryan at Natural Bridges

Me at Natural Bridges

Me at Natural Bridges

That night we had another BBQ at my parents’ house in Sunnyvale. We had some delicious burgers, and it was nice to catch up with all my sibs and play with the dogs. I love you guys!
Drinking beers with the fam

Drinking beers with the fam

Simon and Jack

Simon and Jack

Nick

Nick

The next day we had to go back to Vancouver. After a torturous day at the airport (our plane was inexplicably 3 and a half hours late leaving), we made it back to Canada in time for the evening show. Tallulah was very happy to see us when we picked her up afterwards.

So that’s the story of our lovely mini-break to California! It was an amazing weekend filled with friends and family and lots of love and laughter. I can’t wait for the next time!