Philadelphia Redux

It has been really nice coming back to Philadelphia – not only because it is a great city, but because it is so familiar. It has been a really easy couple of weeks, living in the center of the city and near everything, and already knowing where everything is! It has also been nice because it has been a productive couple of weeks. Being that I did a lot of sightseeing the last time we were here, I haven’t felt the need to rush out everyday and see something. Instead I’ve been able to get some housekeeping things done – like reorganizing my trunk and shopping for Ryan’s birthday – without feeling like I should be out seeing the sights. But that’s not to say that I haven’t seen anything.

Last Monday Ryan and I ventured over to the Eastern State Penitentiary, an old prison that I had heard about the last time we were here, but didn’t get a chance to see. It is very close to downtown, and was open until 1971 – I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live in one of the houses across the street from it – creepy!! The prison itself looks like an old fortress. It is very dark and dank, but really fascinating. Al Capone was imprisoned there for a while! We had fun walking around taking arty photos.

The following day we went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is enormous! I was exhausted after four plus hours of wandering around the galleries, but we did see some cool stuff – including a exhibit of jewelry by Calder, who is known for his mobiles. On the way there we snapped some photos at Logan Circle. The last time we were in Philadelphia, it was winter, so none of the city’s fountains were on – since it is summer this time, the fountains are all on, and they look amazing!

On Thursday there was a going-away party for Keith Martin, our automation guy. Keith has been with the show since it opened, and he will be missed. Ryan organized the going-away party as he and Keith have grown pretty close in the last year. Ryan is taking over the automation job now that Keith is gone. The party was a lot of fun, but Ryan got a tad drunk and did not have a very good time of it the next day!!

Spam Fam hanging at Misconduct

Spam Fam hanging at Misconduct

This past Monday, Ryan and I set out for another day in New York. I had a dentist appointment, and I also needed to go to my storage unit to drop off some boxes, but other than that we had a nice day walking around the city, even if there were a few too many tourist out and about. We went to B&H, the giant camera shop in midtown, which was extremely overwhelming! I will have to go back though when I am in town in October and spend some more time looking around. I have never seen so much camera equipment in one place! We had some yummy street meat for lunch at Columbus Circle after a short walk through the park. We also headed downtown so that Ryan could see Ground Zero and take a peek at the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park. For dinner we went to the Village and ate at Tea and Sympathy. Yum! It was a nice way to end the day!

Tea and Sympathy

Tea and Sympathy

Chicken and Leek Pie

Chicken and Leek Pie

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash

Rhubarb crumble with Bird's custard

Rhubarb crumble with Bird's custard

Back in Philly, on Tuesday we ventured down to South Street to see The Magic Garden – a project by the mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. I had walked by the Magic Garden the last time we were in town, but it was really cool to go inside. The mosaic work is amazing! Zagar has been working on it since 1991.

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The going-away parties are now in full swing. Last night was Vera’s party – Vera is our prop head and has also been here since the beginning of the tour. We went bowling at Lucky Strike – it was really fun. Tonight is Gary Beach’s going-away party. This week we are rehearsing our new King Arthur, Jonathan Hadary, who played the role on Broadway. In the next six weeks we are also putting in three new ensemble members and a new Lancelot. Plus our associate conductor, Adam, is leaving. Whew.

So, a few more days here in Philly until we move on to Hartford. Unfortunately our first two shows in Hartford have been cancelled, so the guys are loading out the show in Philly on Tuesday so that everyone can have Labor Day off. I’ll travel with the crew to Hartford on Tuesday afternoon. There are worse things than having two more days in Philly!

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Channeling Laverne and Shirley

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.

Freezing my butt off

Freezing my butt off

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.

Cuz and Piper

Cuz and Piper

Doing a shotski

Doing a shotski

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 – 

Pabst Mansion

Pabst Mansion

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! 

Piper with a bucket of margaritas in Houston

Piper with a bucket of margaritas in Houston

Monday morning, Tallulah and I drove Ryan’s giant truck to Appleton, Wisconsin, where we spend this week. It’s Ryan’s home local, and Friday we will go and spend the day with him at his house.
Tallulah in Ryan's truck

Tallulah in Ryan's truck

Wishing everyone a great week!

Farewell to the Deep South

Last week was our final week in the deep South. We arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina in the early morning hours on Monday via the sleeper bus. It was a bumpy ride getting to Raleigh, without our regular driver, Cookie. This time we had a guy named Skippy driving the bus (what’s with the funny bus driver names?). It felt like we went off-roading through the mountains to get to Raleigh from Greenville – I don’t know if we did or not, but none of us got much sleep, and I for one fell into bed once we arrived at the Candlewood Suites, and slept for a good couple of hours before rising around lunchtime.

The Candlewood was about six miles from the theater, but across the street was a really great mall (the Crabtree mall) that provided plenty of dining choices (a Cheesecake Factory AND a PF Changs – what more do you need?) and of course some good shopping. Ryan and I did decide to rent a car for part of the week, though, since we were getting a good deal on the hotel – and that way we were able to see a bit more of Raleigh than just a shopping mall.

The theater in Raleigh, the Memorial Auditorium, was a bit of tight squeeze, but as usual everything crammed in somehow. The stagehands were a nice bunch, with funny names like Cheddar and Fruitcup. I think with North Carolina School of the Arts being not so far away, it provides a surplus of fairly good and enthusiastic stagehands, which is always a nice surprise for us, coming into a smallish town like Raleigh with not very high expectations for good personnel.

On Wednesday, Ryan had a work call to mend the forest drop, which had a couple of nasty rips in it, and I had to come in for a couple of hours of rehearsal. After we were both done with our respective calls, we drove around some of the outer  neighborhoods to check out some of the beautiful houses. There is just something so relaxing and pretty about some of the homes in the south – large and sprawling with bright paint and large wrap-around porches. Most of the houses we saw also had enormous yards with beautiful blossoming trees and dripping willows. It almost makes you want to move to there. Almost.

Thursday was another work call for Ryan in the morning to continue work on the forest drop. I took the car and went exploring in the Oakwood Historic neighborhood, taking pictures of some of the old houses (so old that most of them have a plaque outside saying who lived there in the 1700’s). I also stopped at the Oakwood Cemetery and took some photos. It may be a bit morbid, but I love taking photos at old cemeteries. There were only a few areas of the Oakwood cemetery where the headstones were REALLY old, but there was a plot of all headstones of confederate soldiers, which was very cool. I just love the historical-ness of the south. (I just made that word up!)

Old house in Oakwood Historic neighborhood

Old house in Oakwood Historic neighborhood

Old house in Oakwood Historic neighborhood

Old house in Oakwood Historic neighborhood

Gravestones of Confederate soldiers

Gravestones of Confederate soldiers

Self-portrait

Self-portrait

After that I drove over to the Raleigh Farmer’s Market, which has a permanent space not far from the theater. Unfortunately there weren’t many vendors there as it was the middle of the week, but I imagine that on the weekends it is really busy. I also stopped by one yarn store, Great Yarns, which had a nice selection, but I kept myself from buying anything as I am still in the midst of a project and am not sure yet what I want to work on next.

I met up with Ryan for lunch and we drove over to the City Market, which is a couple of red brick buildings that house a few restaurants and shops. We ate at an Irish pub there – we both had boxties, which were delicious. 

To burn off our lunch, we then ventured over to Ulmstead State Park for a hike. It was a beautiful walk – not too hard, only about a two-and-a-half mile loop over easy terrain. We saw two deer along the way, which got close enough to be photographed, and we also walked along the lake, which was very pretty. We also made a pact to walk (or ride bikes) for an hour, three times a week. Let’s see if we keep up with it. 

Ryan at lunch (beard progress is good)

Ryan at lunch (beard progress is good)

Deer at Ulmstead Park

Deer at Ulmstead Park

People fishing at Ulmstead Park

People fishing at Ulmstead Park

That night, although we were tired from the long and full day, we had to stop for a pint at the Flying Saucer. The Flying Saucer is a chain of bars – I think there are about ten locations, mostly in the south. The Flying Saucer in Houston kept us sane as one of the only redeeming qualities of the downtown there, so it was nice to re-visit the chain in Raleigh. The Flying Saucer is known for its selection of hundreds of beers, and also for its delicious cheese plates. The location in Raleigh has a nice outdoor area, kind of like a beer garden, with picnic tables. It was a bit cold out, so we stayed inside at the bar, running into Patrick, Nigel, Angelina, Piper and Adam.

Friday was the put-in rehearsal for Rick Costa, who is taking over Jonathan Brody’s track in the male ensemble this week. After rehearsal, I went for fancy asian food with Ken and Karl – it was kind of like Chinese tapas – at a place called the Duck and Dumpling. It was very good.

Friday night, Ryan and I, along with Justin, Jen, Terry, Cuz and Maggie, went to The Bar – a local watering hole, that is partially owned by one of the carpenters, CJ, who was on our local crew. The bar has amazing chicken wings in about twenty different flavors, and is the place to be if you want to play Cornhole (a game where you team up and basically have to try and land bean bags into a hole cut out of a wooden board that is propped up like a ramp). Jen and I were a team against Ryan and Justin, and although we lost, we held our own and did pretty well for a couple of girls! It was also nice to talk to some of the local stagehands. One of the flymen had baked a delicious chocolate cheesecake, which he shared with us. They were all a really friendly bunch, and seemed genuinely excited about their jobs and upcoming shows. Like I said before, I think there are a lot of schooled stagehands in Raleigh, being close to NCSA, and a lot of them have design backgrounds as well. Its not just another job or a way to make money, a lot of them are doing it because it is also a passion. It was nice to see that.

On Saturday between shows, the company got together for Cajun food at a restaurant called Zydeco at the City Market for Jonathan’s farewell meal. It was a great dinner – I had crawfish etouffee –  and as always, it was fun to dine with everyone. I sat at a table with Ryan, Piper, Ang, Nigel and David Havasi – it was nice getting to talk with David a bit, as he is one of the new cast members, and I don’t know much about him yet.

Jonathan’s final show was Sunday and he wrote a very sweet poem, which he hung on the callboard, recalling his memories of each town we’ve visited by the food that he has eaten in each place. It was very clever, and also more than a bit bittersweet, as he mentioned so many names of past company members who have long since left the show, and who are missed very much.

Unfortunately Jonathan’s final performance was a bit upstaged by some fantastic mal-functioning of the scenery. The automation in track two got stuck as the mountain and grail lift were coming on for “Find Your Grail”. The mountain and grail both stopped stage left and wouldn’t budge. We finished the number with the scenery in that position, and Justin managed to get the pieces off manually in time for the French Taunter scene, but not before injuring his ankle quite badly. Intermission lasted a half hour while the guys fixed the automation, and with the exception of Justin’s injury, Act 2 went off without a hitch. Nate and Berg pitched in on deck while Justin iced his ankle. He ended up coming on our bus – the early bus – instead of doing the load-out, and this morning his ankle was much better.

So all of this sort of trumped any shenanigans planned for Jonathan, unfortunately, but the cast did manage a few onstage jokes, and Ken came onstage during the curtain call reading a newspaper, as Jonathan is never known to be without his beloved New York Times.

We had a long bus ride last night to Dayton, Ohio. I imagine it will be a quiet week as it doesn’t look like there is a whole lot to do here, and then its on to the Wisconsin trio – Milwaukee, Appleton and Madison. 

Enjoy your week!

Southern Charm

Greenville, South Carolina is a great town! Who knew?

We arrived in the wee hours of Monday on the sleeper bus. The hotel I was staying at – the Holiday Inn, was sort of in the middle of nowhere, near the freeway with the only restaurants nearby being a Burger King and a Waffle House. I had made a reservation for a rental car for the week, though, and went to pick it up in the afternoon.

I walked around downtown Greenville near the theater after picking up the car. The downtown is so cute and thriving. Its so strange how some downtowns are so vibrant and some are so dead. I’m not sure what it is exactly that is the key to the success of a downtown – all I know is that Greenville has it figured out. After the dining abyss of Birmingham, Greenville was a culinary mecca. I had thai food for lunch, which I hadn’t had in ages. 

Also downtown is a beautiful park called Falls Park on the Reedy River. The river runs through the downtown, right past the theater – we had a great view from our office. There are also some falls – hence the name Falls Park, which can be viewed from a curved suspension bridge overhead. What a beautiful green space to have amidst all the business downtown.

Falls Park

Falls Park

Falls Park

That night I met up with Ryan, Tony, Justin, Jen, Cuz and Erik for a couple of beers at the hotel bar.

Our load-in at the theater went smoothly, despite having a non-union crew in Greenville. The show also went well that night, and we welcomed yet another new cast member, Rick Costa, who will replace Jonathan Brody at the beginning of next week.

Wednesday, Ryan and I made a plan to go hiking at one of the nearby national parks – Caesar’s Head. First we grabbed breakfast at the Waffle House – quite an experience. It doesn’t matter how charming and progressive and nouveau riche downtown Greenville is, out in the sticks, the real south still exists. And they all eat at the Waffle House. Everyone in there, with the exception of the two of us, was smoking like a fiend all through their meals. It was amazing. And the wait staff in there were out of a movie – at one point I heard one of the waitresses say, “Darlin’, you’re so sweet, you don’t need no maple syrup”. No joke.

We headed off to Caesar’s Head and counted the Waffle Houses along the way – in thirty miles we passed five. The park was amazing. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to pick out a trail and to take some pictures of the valley.

The Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains

We decided on a four mile round trip hike to see the Raven Cliff Falls, the tallest waterfall in South Carolina. It was beautiful.

On the way back to Greenville, we stopped and took some photos of another small waterfall, and then stopped for some ice cream at a gas station. There was a stand next door where you could shop for your produce and knives(?!).

Thursday we did a bike ride through Falls Park to Cleveland Park, which a larger park just beyond downtown. Beautiful. What a nice ride. 

Thursday evening was the big pub crawl organized by Brian O’Brien as his going-away party. Brian had scheduled us to go to five bars around Main Street, on a strict timetable of half an hour at each establishment. It was great fun, and most of the company participated, although the brave, the proud and the few made it to all five bars (yes I was one of them). We started out at an Irish Bar named Connelly’s, where everyone had a bite to eat and a pint. Then we moved on to City Tavern for fruity slushy drinks. Then Blue Ridge Brewing Company for a microbrew. Then it was on to Meatheads for cheap beer and drinking games (beer pong and flip cup). The party wound down at Barley’s, for one more pint.

Ken and Brian slamming Irish car bombs

Ken and Brian slamming Irish car bombs

Brian playing beer pong

Brian playing beer pong

Everyone playing beer pong

Everyone playing beer pong

Brian and a new friend

Brian and a new friend

Friday we had a put-in rehearsal for David Havasi, who takes over Brian’s track starting tomorrow. 

Brian continued the party on Saturday night, hosting shot night. Shot night is usually a fairly quick event, but Brian had gotten snacks, beers, mixed pomegranate margaritas, and set up yet another game of flip cup. 

The company playing Flip Cup

The company playing Flip Cup

Ken joins in

Ken joins in

I am going to miss Greenville. The town was really cute and charming, and the area was so beautiful. We also had the best office we have ever had, with four big windows that looked out onto the Reedy River. We didn’t even mind being stuck in the office for an extra half an hour on Friday night when the heavens opened up and it POURED. Rather than get soaked trying to get home, Ken, Jovon, Karl, David, Ryan, Brian and I cracked  open a bottle of wine and hung out in the office until the rain subsided. It was really nice.

The one trashy part of last week, besides the Waffle House and the Produce and Knives stand (okay, so I guess there were three trashy things about Greenville) was the view from my hotel window:

Come on, it doesn’t get better than that! 

Sunday night we packed up the circus and headed off to Raleigh, North Carolina, where I sit typing this now.

Hope everyone has a great week!

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!

Happy Birthday Spamalot Tour!

The few remaining original company members

The few remaining original company members

Miami was a great week – it was the first week in a while without rehearsals or photo shoots or matinees. That meant three whole afternoons free to spend in the sunshine. 

There was plenty of sunshine to be had, but also some crazy torrential rain storms as well – luckily the storms were sparse enough to allow for ample beach time.

Ryan and I drove in on Monday from Fort Myers and attempted to get into our rental apartment in South Beach before Ryan had to be at load-in. Unfortunately the apartment was still being cleaned so we went to get some lunch and I went back after dropping Ryan off at work and got us all settled in. The apartment was really cute – and in a great location, just five blocks from the beach, near a Wild Oats grocery store, and close to tons of shopping! We spent a very happy week there.

Our cute South Beach apartment

Our cute South Beach apartment

As for the show, the theater in Miami – the Adrienne Arsht – was stupid big. I mean, really stupid big. I don’t know what show could possibly need all the space backstage – we could have fit three Spamalots in there. Needless to say, load-in went quite smoothly with plenty of room for everything and everyone. We had a leisurely load-in lunch in South Beach, followed by a trip to see Ken’s new condo.

All load-in lunches should be like this!

All load-in lunches should be like this!

Gary debuted as the King on Tuesday – he was funny and charming, and will be really great once he gets comfortable in the role. Peter Lawrence, our associate director, and Todd Ellison, the Broadway musical director, were in town to see Gary’s opening night, and were thrilled with his performance. The following day, our review came out in the Miami Herald (a rave), with a photo of Gary accompanying it, taken by me! 

It rained most of the day Wednesday, so apart from some grocery shopping, we didn’t really venture out. On Thursday Ryan and I got our bikes out and rode up the coast a ways – Miami Beach is really gorgeous, with clear blue water and soft light sand. It was a beautiful ride. We stopped by a tattoo shop on the way back to the apartment and Ryan made an appointment for the following day with E. Ray, who has tattooed Ken, Scott Gibson (our prop guy) and Mike Berg (our pyro guy).

Friday was beach day. Ryan and I picked up sandwiches from a great shop called The Sandwichery and headed to the water. I spent all afternoon lounging in the sand and going for a dip in the ocean. Ryan left mid-afternoon to go to his tattoo appointment, but Mike Berg’s session ended up running late, so Ryan had to reschedule for this week.

Mike's new tattoo

Mike's new tattoo

Scott's new tattoo

Scott's new tattoo

Friday night was the 2nd Anniversary party for the show. Our company managers threw us a party at the Oasis at the Raleigh Hotel in South Beach. The setting was gorgeous – outside near the beach and the hotel pool. We had a barbeque buffet and lots of free booze. Everyone dressed up in their best – it was a great night.

Angelina and Piper

Angelina and Piper

Mitchell, Jenn and Jason

Mitchell, Jenn and Jason

Tera-Lee, Lyn, and Graham

Tera-Lee, Lyn, and Graham

On Saturday, Jenn Rias, one of our newest ensemble members, hosted shot night. It was a yummy, but strong, chocolate-coconut concoction. Afterwards, Ryan and I went out for a drink with Alex, a friend of Ryan’s from Green Bay, who now lives and works in Miami.

Jenn pouring shots

Jenn pouring shots

On Sunday we loaded out and said goodbye to Jeff Klein, our associate company manager, and one of the few remaining original company members. Jeff is heading off to company manage the “Avenue Q” tour, which Fran joined. He will be missed!

Jeff Klein

Jeff Klein

Miami is a bit of a strange town – the parts of it that I saw outside of South Beach (which wasn’t all that much) seem pretty run-down and sketchy. South Beach itself is a mix of glamourous hotels and restaurants, and laid-back beach living. It’s not somewhere I would want to live, but it was nice to visit for the week. I loved the close proximity of everything, and the ability to ride my bike or walk to wherever I needed to go. And of course, it was fantastic to be near the ocean.

This week we are playing West Palm Beach, just a short hour’s drive from Miami – our Florida adventure continues!

Providence – Goodbye to the King and Patsy

Well I was hit with a nasty flu bug on arriving in Providence and spent all day Tuesday loading the show in through a cloud of a 102 degree fever. I spent much of the week resting whenever possible, but an annoying cough still lingers…

We didn’t have much free time in Providence, anyway, even if I had been well and had energy to venture out. The only place I visited besides the theater was the mall, which was up the street from the hotel – it was a pretty nice one, actually! There was some kind of cheerleading competition happening in town, though, so by the weekend it was sort of unbearable to visit the mall because it was overrun with a million girls in short skirts and hair bows.

The Providence PAC was a nice enough theater – the house was very grand and beautiful. The backstage was rather cramped, but manageable. The local crew left something to be desired, though. I don’t know if they were unskilled, or just didn’t care, but either way, we were sick of most of them by the end of the week.

We spent a lot of time in rehearsals this week. Wally Dunn took over the role of Bedevere on Sunday (he plays for a month while our regular Bedevere, Christopher Gurr, plays the King until Gary Beach joins the cast in Miami). Brad Bradley assumes the role of Patsy on Tuesday. So, we spent the week getting the two of them up to speed and also getting some up-to-date press photos. Here are a couple of shots I got during our Wednesday photo call.

The end of Camelot

The end of Camelot

The King's Wings

The King's Wings

The Minstrels and Robin

The Minstrels and Robin

Galahad and Lady of the Lake

Galahad and Lady of the Lake

On Friday evening we had a going away party for Michael Siberry and Jeff Dumas, who play the King and Patsy. Both actors have been with the tour since it began and have played almost 800 performances in their respective roles. The party was at a restaurant called Downcity Diner, and a number of the creatives came to see the show and attend the party.

The real send-off though, was Shot Night on Saturday night. Julie and Paula, dressed as the King and Patsy, hosted a sort of “Newlywed Game” for Michael and Jeff, where they had to answer questions about each other and the show. If they got the question wrong, they either had to do a shot, eat a piece of spam, or take off an article of clothing. If they got a question right, they got a prize, which was given to them by one of the ensemble girls, who were all dressed in slutty red dresses and heels. It was a really hilarious game, especially since Michael announced right off the bat that he has “dementia” and couldn’t remember anything. There were quite a lot of shots to be had, and I think Michael may have eaten a bit of spam.

Julie and Paula as King and Patsy

Julie and Paula as King and Patsy

Jeff and Michael playing the game

Jeff and Michael playing the game

Julie offering spam

Julie offering spam

The Spamasluts

The Spamasluts

Michael and Jeff gave their final performance on Sunday night. There were a few shenanigans, including a remote-controlled fart machine attached to the bottom of the stool they both sit on during “Jew Song” (controlled offstage by our Lady of the Lake, Esther). But mostly there were a lot of heartfelt moments, including a pre-show speech given by Ken, dedicating the performance to Michael and Jeff, the cast watching a tearful Jeff sing through “Bright Side” for the last time, and the principal actors rearranging the order of the bows so that Jeff got the last bow before Michael. 

I met both these actors in rehearsal for the show back in January 2006 and have loved working with them both. Jeff was the first actor that I met in the company, hauling his suitcases into the rehearsal hall at 42nd Street Studios, as he had just arrived in New York from his home in Chicago. We bonded immediately as we had mutual acquaintances in “Wicked” (Jeff was in the Chicago company), and I had to play the part of the “Portcullis” (our show curtain) in rehearsal, revealing Jeff as the Mayor of Finland right at the top of the show. Michael, of course, has been our beloved, befuddled leader – its been great doing lots of sightseeing group trips with him – no one has loved seeing the weird and wonderful things around the country more than Michael. I will miss them both!

So after bidding the two of them goodbye, we loaded onto an overnight sleeper bus to Hershey, PA. I am getting so used to the sleeper buses now, and their coffin-esque bunks. I watched one TV show in my bed, and then slept the rest of the seven hour drive. It was great. I woke up in time for a bowl of cereal before arriving at the Days Inn in Hershey.

So tomorrow we are at a new theater with a new King and Patsy. 

The tour won’t be the same.

Boston, and then VACATION!

Since I had already been to Boston I didn’t go out of my way to do any sightseeing while we were there. Instead I readied for my trip to Mexico by getting a pedicure at a local spa and shopping for some last minute things, like a Spanish phrase book!

We spent quite a few nights at the Intermission Tavern, a local watering hole owned by one of the local stagehands. On Thursday night, Fran and I joined some of the other girls in the company for “Girls’ Night” at Piper, Amy and Julie’s rental house in Southie. Piper vacationed in Portugal back in November and came back with a number of bottles of port, so the girls hosted an evening of port tasting along with a slide show and presentation by Piper about the different ports we were drinking. She had different cheeses and chocolates to go with each port. It was amazing!

Port Night

Port Night

On Saturday night, Fran hosted shot night – her last (sniff sniff). It was of course, straight up shots of Jack Daniels, her liquor of choice. It was not an easy shot to do, as seen in the pics below!

Piper and Amy

Piper and Amy

Paula

Paula

Lyn

Lyn

Cheers!

Cheers!

After shots, we went over to Beantown Billiards (I think that’s what it was called) for Fran’s going away party. A word about Fran here, and I’ll try not to be too sappy since she reads this blog – she’s been my closest girlfriend on this tour – we started around the same time – and I’m pretty devastated that she’s leaving. She got a really cool new gig on the Avenue Q tour – basically she’s in charge of the puppets, which is perfect for her and her crafting skills. Still, its hard to say goodbye to someone who shares my love of crafting (she makes jewelry), sightseeing, nature, drinks with the boys and irreverent laughs. I will miss her like CRAZY. My life out here will be very different without her. Love you, Fran!

with Jaki and Fran

with Jaki and Fran

Back to her going-away party – it was really fun – most of the company were there and we stuffed ourselves with beers and nachos and sang along with crappy ’80’s music.

Mitchell, Suzanne and Jason

Mitchell, Suzanne and Jason

Matt, Paula and Julie

Matt, Paula and Julie

Piper

Piper

Tony playing pool

Tony playing pool

Jonathan and Fran

So after bidding Fran goodbye on Sunday, I took off on Monday for my week-long vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!

I met up with Katherine, one of my buddies from college, at the airport in Cancun and then we travelled to Playa – about a 45 minute drive south. We stayed at a great hotel called La Tortuga, which is a block away from Fifth Avenue (Quinta), which is a long street filled with restaurants, bars and shops. The beach is a block away from Quinta. 

We had a fantastic week spent shopping, eating at a different restaurant every meal, laying on the beach at a beach club called Mamitas, getting spa treatments (I had a mud wrap, a hot rocks massage and an organic facial), taking the ferry to Cozumel (where we shopped and went to the beach), and visiting Chichen Itza, famous Mayan ruins that are one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. On the way back from Chichen Itza, we stopped at a cenote, a fresh water swimming hole, where I swam with fish swimming all around me!

I LOVED Playa del Carmen. It was the perfect mix of shopping, relaxing at the beach, good restaurants, and activities. I think there is something there for everyone. And it is beautiful. I bought a lot of silver jewelry (my favorite), and enjoyed trying a tiny bit of Spanish with the shop-owners (thank you Lonely Planet phrase book!). The people were so nice – especially the ones working at our hotel. I totally recommend La Tortuga if you ever visit Playa. They have a gorgeous pool and solarium, as well as a nice bar and restaurant. My room was clean and comfortable and I had a gorgeous balcony with a roof-top hot tub! It is a fantastic location – and it is super affordable – here’s their website if anyone is interested –http://www.hotellatortuga.com/index.cfm/Home 

Sadly, on Saturday we had to travel back to the States. My travel day was not the best – first the scary security at the Cancun airport took my knitting needles (grrr), then my flight from Cancun left an hour late, making me miss my connection in Houston, which was the last flight of the day to Boston. So, I ended up having to spend the night at a hotel in Houston and flew back to Boston the next day. As many of you know, I do not enjoy flying, and the flight to Boston was super bumpy and scary and not fun. When I finally arrived back in Boston at 5pm yesterday it was 29 hours after leaving my hotel in Playa!

But I made it back in time for Amy Karlein’s last show – she is one of our ensemble girls, and is super cool. She will be missed!

Robert took this photo of Amy - I love it.

Robert took this photo of Amy - I love it.

After the 29 hours of travel, I was not finished. At 10pm last night I got on a bus to Providence, RI. Today I feel a bit flu-y, no doubt my body is protesting the rigor of the last couple of days. I am getting some rest at the hotel today before joining load-in tomorrow. 

Before I sign off, here are a few photos from Mexico. You can find the rest on my Flickr page.

La Tortuga Hotel

La Tortuga Hotel

Mamitas Beach Club

Mamitas Beach Club

Quinta

Quinta

A shop on Quinta

Colorful plates for sale

Colorful plates for sale

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen

Sunset over Playa

Sunset over Playa

Cozumel

Cozumel

A bar on the beach

A bar on the beach

Sights from Washington DC, Week One.

It is so nice to be back in a big city, and one that I have never visited before. There is so much to see, and so much history all around us. The National Theater was a squeeze to get into, but we did, and the show opened last Tuesday. 

I am staying in a great apartment in Dupont Circle, blocks from the subway, and close to tons of restaurants and shops. It feels like being back in New York.

In the first week here, I managed to see much of the National Mall and its monuments, I attended a holiday party at Karl’s, I had drinks with Fran and others on the crew before Fran left for her vacation, I finished my Christmas shopping, I said goodbye to Robert Petkoff, our Robin, who had his final show on Sunday, and I toured the White House, which was both spectacular and understated at the same time, with all it’s decorations for Christmas.

Instead of boring you with a play-by-play of the week, here are some photos of the highlights:

The White House

The White House

The National Theater

The National Theater

The National Christmas Tree

The National Christmas Tree

The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial

The National Mall

The National Mall

The Korean War Memorial

The Korean War Memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

The U.S. Capitol building

The U.S. Capitol building

The U.S. Capitol building

The U.S. Capitol building

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

Union Station

Union Station

Union Station

Union Station

‘Bye Robert!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Back to Where It All Began

I was on a plane today that landed at the Detroit airport en route to Washington, DC from Lansing, Michigan. It occurred to me as we touched down that one year ago today I was also landing at the Detroit airport, heading off to start the tour at the Fisher Theater in downtown Detroit. One year. Wow. It has flown by so quickly. It was very appropriate to be back in Detroit today, even if it was only for twenty minutes to change planes. I said a silent thank you to the heavens for blessing me with such a fantastic job. I still love it one year later.

So, this past week we played East Lansing, Michigan. We were at the Wharton Center, which is on campus at Michigan State University, Jovon’s alma mater. It was really nice for him to be back there, and for us to experience MSU with him. He had a lot going on this week between catching up with friends and family, to press interviews, to speaking with the theater department on campus. I can tell he had a great time though, and it was neat hearing about his college experiences at MSU and fun to get a little campus tour from him. Go Green! Go White!

We stayed at the Towne Place Suites, near campus, which was a comfortable little place – more like small apartments than a hotel. The weather was snowy and cold, which made it difficult to want to get out much. Much better to stay at the cozy hotel and catch up on TV shows and email and stay warm!

On the work front, the theater  on campus was large and easily accommodated the show. We had a successful opening night with a party afterwards at a restaurant called Beggars Banquet. The food was delicious! 

Fran, me, Elaine and Suzanne - the coolest crew chicks ever

Fran, me, Elaine and Suzanne - the coolest crew chicks ever

The following evening was Elaine’s last show with us. Elaine has been the assistant hair supervisor since the tour started, and she is one kick-ass chick. A down-home Texas girl, who now calls Winter Park home, she will be sorely missed, along with her delicious guacamole and her sidekick, Taza the Chihuahua – Tallulah’s bus buddy. We had going-away drinks for her at the Harrison Roadhouse, where we sent her off the right way, filled with lots of cosmopolitans! I’ll miss you tons, Elaine!

The next day we came into work and Elaine had left a dozen pies for us all with the following note:

The rest of the week went by so quickly. Like I said, I mostly hibernated, but Ryan and I did get some shopping done, and I did get out and take some pictures of the campus, which looked so pretty under a blanket of snow.

.

There have been lots of comings and goings within the company as of late, and more are upcoming. Robert Petkoff, who plays Robin leaves at the end of this first week in DC. He will be replaced by James Beaman, who we began rehearsing this past week in East Lansing. We also bid goodbye to Lisa, our stage management sub, as Ken returns from Australia this week. It was great having Lisa around for the six weeks – we’ll be seeing her again in Boston when she comes in to cover my vacation (yay!). It will be so nice to have Daddy Ken back, though – I’ve missed his loud laugh backstage and all his great youtube finds!

Mostly though, this last week my mind has been in California rather than Michigan. As I said in my last post, my brother Nick is sick and has been in the hospital in LA. It has been hard not being there to help or even just to lend emotional support. I have been thinking of him everyday though, and also thinking of my parents who are there with him. Thankfully, today I got a call from my dad who told me that Nick has been released from the hospital and is at home resting. My parents are staying in LA with him for another week and then they are hoping he is well enough to travel to the Bay Area with them, where he can recuperate and gain back some strength over the holidays. I am so happy and relieved by this news and have to say thank you to everyone who has been praying for him and sending the good mojo. Nick’s definitely not out of the woods – ultimately he will need a kidney transplant to become really better and healthy – but it is good to know that he is feeling better and able to be home again. I love you Nick – thinking of you all the time.  

So today we arrived in the nation’s capital. I’ve never been to Washington, DC and I am so excited to be spending a month here. Our rental apartment in Dupont Circle is really cute and in a great location. I walked by the White House today on the way to the theater! Pretty cool, although smaller than I imagined. I have a huge list of things I want to do here, plus the holidays are coming up and I have two trips planned to New York City – I’m sure the month will fly by. 

Finally, in knitting news, I finally knit my Mirasol Sulka yarn into a hat. I tried twice to make Gretel (a cabled beret pattern by Ysolda Teague), but the yarn just wasn’t having it – it is really too thick to use for cables, so instead I made the Raisin Beret, which I found the pattern for on Ravelry. I think the final result is very cute!

I used probably about 150 yards of yarn, knit up on size 10 needles. Modifications: I only cast on 72 stitches and worked the pattern from that – I did the pattern repeat twice, rather than three times, and skipped the yarn-over part of the decrease section, as I couldn’t get them to line up correctly. I just went directly to SSKs and K2togs. And I am pleased with the end product! 

After completing this hat, I knit up a lil something for my sis for Christmas, and now have cast on for the Tilted Duster from last fall’s Interweave. I am almost out of yarn in my trunk – I will have to do some shopping here in DC 🙂

Well that’s all for now – happy Spam-iversary to me!