Tampa Again!

And the Florida adventure continues!

Since the crew had the luxury of a sane evening load-out in Melbourne (with the absence of an evening show on Sunday), and didn’t have to be at the theater in Tampa until 6pm the next day for the load-in, Ryan and I had a leisurely drive on Monday morning across the state. We had rented a vacation house in Tampa – a cute duplex just ten miles or so north of downtown. When we got there, we settled in, went and had some yummy sushi for lunch and did some grocery shopping for the week. It makes such a difference to stay in a house or apartment rather than a hotel. Being able to cook your own food is such a luxury, and with the warm weather, we were also able to grill outside. So, so nice.

Flowers blooming in the backyard

Flowers blooming in the backyard

Ryan took the car into town Monday night for load-in, and Tallulah and I chilled at the house.

The next day I joined the load-in at Tampa PAC. This was the third theater I played with the tour, almost exactly two years ago. It is a HUGE theater – tons and tons of space backstage, everyone gets their own dressing room – the stagehands are decent – I remember some of them from the last time we were there. The load-in was really easy.

At the Tampa PAC

At the Tampa PAC

The best thing about Tuesday, was the reintroduction of Callie Carter to the company. Callie was an original tour cast member and our former dance captain. She left about a year ago to head back to New York, where she joined the Broadway company and eventually became their dance captain. She is with us for a few weeks filling in. I love Callie – she’s funny and down to earth, and has a great energy. It was so nice to see her again.

Callie

Callie

On Wednesday Ryan and I drove over to International Plaza – the fancy mall in town – to do some shopping. Traffic in Florida is a pain so it was a bit stressful getting back to the house in time to make some dinner, but we managed to squeeze it all in – just in time to go to work.

Thursday we had a matinee and evening show, and then afterwards a group of us convened at the Blue Martini for a going away party for Candy and Angelina. Both girls are in our ensemble. Candy joined us in Toronto from the Vegas company, and took over assistant dance captain duties when Tera-Lee left. Angelina has been with the show for almost two and a half years. She recently was hired as a swing in the new Broadway company of “West Side Story”. So – Thursday night, a party was held for the girls. We had a party at the Blue Martini the last time we were in Tampa, to celebrate Pia’s 30th birthday. To be honest, its not really my kind of place – its kind of a meat market, with overpriced drinks. But for Candy and Angelina, I’d pretty much suck it up and go anywhere. It actually ended up not being that bad –  it was nice and warm out, so it turned out to be the perfect evening to sit outside and sip cocktails.

Paula and Angelina at the Blue Martini

Paula and Angelina at the Blue Martini

Sarah Lin and her boyfriend Shane

Sarah Lin and her boyfriend Shane

David smoking a cigar

David smoking a cigar

Nate

Nate

On Friday Ryan and I decided to spend the day totally at the house, grilling on the BBQ and sitting in the sun. It was great. Sometimes you just need those lazy days. I worked on finishing my knitting project, a top called “Rusted Root” and also took advantage of the backyard and the good weather to get some photos of some of my finished knits. I’ll do a follow-up blog post to this with some of the shots. In addition to having a backyard, the rental house also had a lanai – a screened-in porch which Tallulah spent almost all week on. She would be up first thing in the morning waiting by the sliding glass door to be let out. She would sit out there and watch the birds all day.

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On Saturday there was a big arts fair in downtown Tampa. Between shows Ryan and I went and walked around, looking at all the booths. There was some fantastic photography there – I particularly loved the photographs by  Todd Lundeen, who had traveled to Tibet and taken some amazing photos of the people there. A couple of our company members bought prints from him – I think I’m going to order a couple from his website. We had a nice time walking around and eating street fair food. The kettle corn was amazing.

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Back at the theater, the place was completely overrun with kids all weekend. There was a dance competition in the building and they were running through the hallways with mothers in tow during all three of our weekend shows. It got to be a little much by Sunday afternoon.

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Sunday was the final show for Candy and Angelina. It was definitely a bittersweet night – both girls will be missed so much. Candy was a swing, so she wasn’t in the show that night, but she watched from the wings while Ang played her last performance. There were a few pranks pulled – the two best being in “Bright Side”, the four other girls dressed as Ni Knights stayed offstage and Angelina ended up doing a “Ni Knight solo”, and then in the finale, Angelina’s boyfriend Nigel, who is a swing but was not on on Sunday, surprised her by coming out and dancing as her partner in the Wedding number. Very sweet. I wish both girls the best of luck!

Angelina in "Camelot"

Angelina in "Camelot"

The Ni Knight solo

The Ni Knight solo

Candy backstage

Candy backstage

Nigel surprises Angelina in the Wedding

Nigel surprises Angelina in the Wedding

We had Sunday night off as we had a matinee on Thursday, so I was able to spend one more warm evening on the porch at the rental house. We were off bright and early on Monday to Austin. Ryan, unfortunately, got bad news on Sunday that a water pipe had burst at his house and flooded his basement, so he left early Monday to go back to Green Bay to deal with it. He’ll meet us in Austin on Friday.

It was lovely to spend two weeks in Florida after the weeks and weeks of cold and snow that we experienced earlier this winter. We are not out of the cold just yet – we still have Wilmington, Cleveland and Anchorage ahead, but it definitely feels like we are out of the thick of winter. Before we know it, we’ll be on the beach in Los Angeles!

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To Florida – Lucky me!

I have been lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Florida for the past three winters, thanks to the “Spamalot” tour. When you live in a cold climate, there is nothing like visiting some place warm to rejuvenate your soul. For reals. I am always happy with the cold and the snow through the holidays because it is pretty and cozy and season-appropriate. Come February though, and I’m ready for winter to move on. And since winter has a mind of its own, fleeing it is the next best thing.

So this year, our warm winter stint began in Melbourne, Florida. Where? I know, I had never heard of it either until it showed up on our itinerary. Turns out it is a town on the “Space Coast” – in other words, just down the road from Cape Canaveral. We just missed a space shuttle launch by a matter of days, in fact. Originally there was supposed to be a launch while we were in town, but it was postponed. Bummer! I did see the launch pad though, from afar, while I was on Cocoa Beach. I originally had planned on getting over to Kennedy Space Center for a tour during our stay, but then the sunshine lured me away and I decided I didn’t want to spend a whole day inside. I would rather be by the beach. So that’s pretty much what I did with my week. Spent it at the beach.

It basically took all day to get to Melbourne. We flew through Atlanta and after having to wait for a while for a rental car once we got into town, there was basically only enough time to go to the grocery store before dinner. Load-in the next day was really easy – the theater was big and everything fit – so I had some time in the afternoon to myself before coming back for the show. It was beautiful outside, so I decided to drive over to the beach. We were staying at a Candlewood right next to the causeway, and so it literally was only about a ten minute drive to get to the water.

The closest beach to us was Satellite Beach, and  Patrick Air Force Base, which also has a stretch of beaches. I didn’t realize at the time that I was on the Air Force Base, so I ended up going to one of their beaches unknowingly. It was gorgeous – empty and clean. I only spent about a half an hour there – all the time I had on Tuesday, but it was still the best part of my day.

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On Wednesday we had two shows, so no time for anything fun. Ryan and I had some good sushi between shows, but otherwise, it was work, work, work.

On Thursday I ran some errands in the morning, then drove out to Satellite Beach in the afternoon while Ryan went to play frisbee golf with Erik. Tallulah had been antsy all morning, so instead of leaving her at the hotel, I brought her with me. You might remember seeing photos of Tallulah on the beach in Fort Lauderdale two years ago. She had a repeat experience! People always ask me “aren’t you afraid she’s going to run away?”, but honestly, she’s been in so many different environments now, that she is more curious about new places than she is scared. She is a very careful, tentative cat, and so she tends to kind of creep around new environments rather than taking off. Plus she knows she has it good. Why would she want to run? On the first night in Melbourne, she accidentally got out into the hall at the hotel. I heard her meowing a few minutes later. When I opened the door, she hadn’t taken off running down the hall or anything, she was sitting outside the door, waiting to get back in. She knew I was on the other side of the door and she wanted to be with me. That’s my girl!

So that’s how she was on the beach, too. She didn’t stray far from me. I had my eye on her the whole time – there were dogs on the beach, too, and I didn’t want her to get too close to them. She enjoyed watching the birds. I took some photos and then after a little while it started to lightly rain, so we headed back to the hotel. Tallulah’s beach day!

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On Friday Ryan and I drove up the A1A to Cocoa Beach. We took a long walk down the beach to the pier and back. We could see the shuttle launch pad from there. After our walk, we stopped by the ginormous Ron Jon Surf Shop before heading back to the hotel. I bought a bag and Ryan bought a ukelele!

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On Saturday we had two shows, but the hotel was close enough that we could run back in between and get some grilling in. Ryan made some salmon and we also grilled some asparagus. So yum!

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With the addition of the matinee on Wednesday, we only had one show on Sunday – such a luxury. We were done with the matinee by 4:30p and I had the rest of the evening off while the load-out started. I did a bit of shopping and then hung out and knit in my room, listened to podcasts and caught up on my TV shows. Bliss! Oh, and I packed. 🙂

On Monday morning, Ryan and I drove the two and a half hours to Tampa where we have rental condo a few miles north of downtown. I’m looking forward to one more week of sunny Florida with lots of backyard grilling. And then we are off to Texas for one more warm winter week before heading north again. Lucky me.