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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Back to Philly, and back to New York City!!

I was so overjoyed to get back to Philadelphia, one of my favorite stops from last year. It was a long-ass travel day but we finally arrived in the City of Brotherly Love and checked into our super huge, super plush Rittenhouse apartment. I had found this apartment building a while back, and to rent on our own was way too expensive, but at the last minute the rental company struck up a group rate for our show, and so we are in this amazing apartment for less that what the hotel option cost! I haven’t taken any photos yet, but I will. The best part is the location – we look right down on Rittenhouse Square, which is a small park surrounded by restaurants and shopping, and only a few short blocks from the theater.

On Monday night, Ryan and I revisited our favorite bar in Philly, Monks, for dinner. Monks has tons and tons of beer on tap and in bottles from all over the world for you to choose from. They also have a very eclectic, delicious menu. I had a duck salad. Yum! And of course a side of pommes frites, which are so good at Monks. There was a group of Spam company members already at the bar. Everyone remembered this place and picked it as the first to return to!

On Tuesday I joined Zipcar! How awesome is Zipcar? You reserve a car online and then just go to where it is parked and drive it away – no dealing with showing up at a rental car place and being told they have no cars. It’s awesome. I walked over to the Zipcar office and picked up my membership card, and then promptly reserved a car for the afternoon. We spent the whole afternoon grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and then DROVE the groceries home! That night, we ate at Alma de Cuba, another amazing restaurant that we had promised ourselves we would return to.

Ryan eyeing the sampler plate at Alma de Cuba

Ryan eyeing the sampler plate at Alma de Cuba

On Wednesday, I woke up early and Tallulah and I drove to New York City. Tallulah was due for her yearly vet appointment, and it was great that we were close enough to the city to go to her own vet, Dr. Ramos. We met up with Andrea for breakfast and then set off for the vet. Tallulah did so well – and she has lost two pounds since last year! Yay for the Catkins diet! Dr. Ramos was very pleased with her weight and overall health.

Back in the Heights

Back in the Heights

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Then we drove to Brooklyn and spent a blissful afternoon with Patty, eating lunch and knitting on her roof deck. Tallulah didn’t know what to do with herself, between the bees and the butterflies, and the amazing smells of Patty’s flowers and vegetable garden.
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There was one scary moment when Tallulah decided to check out the space UNDERNEATH the deck, but Patty smartly crafted a kitty toy out of a circular knitting cable and some stitch markers, and we lured her out.

We headed back to Philly that evening, pooped, but happy. Thanks, Patty!

We loaded the show in to the Academy of Music on Thursday. It was nice to see so many familiar faces on the crew – especially the wardrobe staff. Those ladies (and gents) are so nice, especially Pam, who dresses Patrick. It’s great to be working with them again.

On Friday I started the big sort through of my trunk. I am going back to New York next Monday and plan on driving up to my storage unit and leaving a bunch of stuff there.

Saturday we had a visit from our union reps to discuss ratifying the proposed new production contract. This contract governs all Broadway shows and tours. The new proposal is not a good one. I won’t go into all the gory details here, but the per diem rate being offered is horribly behind the times. With rising hotel rates, we are no longer able to pay for our hotels and meals solely out of our per diem. The new contract doesn’t offer any help in that area. There are also some aspects affecting stage managers that have been sorely overlooked. Anyway, to make a long story short, it wasn’t a happy meeting. Although I didn’t speak up at the meeting (there were plenty of other people doing that), I feel I have been very communicative with the union through emails expressing my concerns over the new contract. I feel satisfied that I have spoken up in that way, and that I’m not just sending in a “no” vote and not explaining why. I don’t necessarily think anything can happen now, but maybe three years from now, when the contract is renegotiated again, perhaps some of these concerns will be taken into consideration. One can only hope.

Other than that, life has been all about the Olympics. I’ve been addicted to the swimming and the gymnastics. Michael Phelps is super-human! Go USA!

Hope you all had a great week!

Never Forget.

I spent last night with my beloved family and friends of twenty years, who, let’s face it, are also family to me. This time of year I always take a minute to reflect on how lucky I am to have the best people in my life, and to thank the universe for the opportunities that have been given to me. I am happy to say that I am exactly where I want to be right now, working on a show that I love and marveling every day at new things I never would have seen if I hadn’t been blessed with this tour. I hope you can all take a minute today to reflect as well on all the blessings you have in your lives.

I wrote the following on the one-year anniversary of 9/11, which was my first year in New York. I think its nice to read again and remember the first anniversary and how present the tragedy still was in NY. As every year goes by, things get more and more back to normal. I want to make sure I never take for granted the lessons I learned from September 11th. Even though I’m not in New York City right now, she’s in my thoughts.

“It was kind of an amazing day to be in New York City today. Started off like any other. Woke up to start a new job …Chris came and ate breakfast in my room like usual but at 8:25a when we were packing bags to leave, he looked at my clock and started the countdown to the time when the first plane hit a year ago.

We went to work and the day went on with constant reminders of last year. I had to run errands in the middle of the day for the workshop I’m doing – on the way to the hardware store to get an extension cord for the musical director I almost ran into a statue of a police dog on 6th Avenue that was covered with flowers. In the deli while getting lunch for the director, they were reading the names over the radio. And everywhere you looked there were American flags. But the strangest thing, that made you remember – because it seemed so out of place, was the wind. It was so windy today – and it’s been so hot and still for the past week. Not today.

On the news they said the wind started up right as they started reading the names. They say it was the souls of those who died. I could definitely feel them in the city today.

I was at City Center all day rehearsing and there was a big tribute in the theater there tonight to all the police officers. The bagpipes started playing outside at about 5:30p – we listened to them for the entire last hour of rehearsal.

Then after rehearsal I left the building to find the wind stlll blowing.

Today -and everyday since 9/11/01 has been about living a life of love. If nothing else, I learned that last year. Its a shame that it takes something that huge to remind you to treasure each moment and every person. I sit here with a postcard above my desk that says “Nothing is worth more than this day.” I try to remember that. I am so glad that I am here in New York today, and that I’m doing theater which fills my life with inspiration everyday, and that I have so many amazing people in my life – who fill my life with more love than I could ever have dreamed. I am so thankful. Tanya called me yesterday and said she wanted to spend today with family , so we got together for dinner tonight with Jenn and Nina, two other dear friends – and just appreciated being together, and being together in New York.

Tanya told her actors today at the end of their tech rehearsal that she feels so lucky to be doing theater today when a year ago nobody knew what was going to happen. A year ago everything was closing and uncertain. This fall a dozen shows are opening on Broadway. How fortunate we are to still be able to do what we love after all that’s happened to this city.

Walking to dinner tonight I was struck by how quiet Manhattan was. A lot of people were going to vigils, and I think a lot of people were just reflecting. We talked at dinner about how much Ground Zero has changed – 10 months ago when Tanya first saw it, it was filled with all the wreckage and she saw how much loss there was. When I saw Ground Zero about four months ago, not long before they ended the recovery effort, I was amazed at how much more could have been damaged by those huge buildings falling. A year
ago we were all feeling loss, and this year, at least for me, its about how much I treasure what I have and really trying not to take anything or anyone for granted.

I watched the skyline appear as my train emerged above ground in Queens on the way home tonight. The Empire State Building was lit up red, white and blue. But yeah, there’s definitely something missing.

I’m so glad that I spent last night with old friends – Mikey, Brett, Benton, Jenn, Nina, Zach – and this morning with Chris – and tonight with Tanya, Nina, and Jenn. Friends and family are everything. Without love there’s nothing. And to all of you who weren’t here today in New York with me, you were definitely on my mind, and you are always in my heart. I am so lucky and blessed to have you in my life. Today and everyday.”

-9/11/07 Thinking of all my loved ones today from Salt Lake City.xxx

Tallulah – Cat, Rock Star

Last night we took a sleeper bus overnight from Philadelphia to Hartford. We left Philly around 2:00am and arrived in Hartford at 6:30am. Tallulah hung out in the bus with us as we watched a movie and drank some beers. She met Elaine’s dog, Taza, who wanted to play. Tallulah wasn’t sure what to make of Taza, who is a long-haired chihuahua – she just sort of sat next to Taza and watched her roll around. After watching the movie, we slept in one of the bunks. Here’s Tallulah in our bed – what a rock star.

Here’s Taza in the lounge part of the bus:

Ryan and Chris at Yum Yum Bankok

Ryan and Chris at Yum Yum Bankok

I spent last Monday and Tuesday in New York with Tanya and Michael. I saw “Spring Awakening”, which I loved, and had drinks with Richard Rauscher afterwards, who is one of the stage managers, and a good friend. I also had dinner with Christopher and Ryan. It was a goodbye dinner, as Chris moves to LA at the end of the month. I will miss him so much – I don’t know what I would have done without him when I first moved to New York – he gave me a place to live, and an instant community of friends. I love him to pieces and can’t imagine what NYC will be like without him.

It was nice to get back to New York for a couple of days – I visited my storage unit and saw Andrea briefly, as well as also having dinner with my dear friend Patty, who is in town rehearsing the second tour of “Jersey Boys”. It was so great catching up with Patty and seeing one of her latest knitting masterpieces – a striped ribbed sweater called “Tubey”.

Goodbye donuts from Naomi

Last week was filled with rehearsals for Julie Barnes, who opens tomorrow night in Naomi’s track, and also for Graham Bowen, who is our new swing/ass’t dance captain. No sightseeing for me! We all went out for sushi on Saturday night to bid Naomi Kakuk goodbye. She is one of our original female ensemble members, and will be sorely missed. In her final performance last night, the two girls who do the “tap cross” with her during “Jew Song”, didn’t enter, so Naomi had a solo tap cross (which was a total surprise to her) – it was a great moment.

So now we are in Hartford. It is so surreal to be back here – and I’m staying in the same apartment building as I did for “A Christmas Carol”. It seems like no time has passed since I was last here – I can’t believe that four months have gone by. I think the next two weeks are going to be a bit of a hibernation for me – after Memphis, Atlanta, Baltimore and Philly, I am ready to not do any sightseeing and just stay in and knit, read and watch movies. I need to catch up on some sleep and relaxation!

Christmas in the Heights

Top 10 reasons why I love Washington Heights during the holidays and why I will miss it so:

#1:

The tree at the church across the street

The tree at the church across the street

#2:

The nativity scene at the church

The nativity scene at the church

#3:

The ghetto-fabulous street decorations

The ghetto-fabulous street decorations

#4:

The Christmas tree lot across the street

The Christmas tree lot across the street

#5:

My favorite! The view from my bedroom window

My favorite! The view from my bedroom window

#6:

My fire escape in the snow

My fire escape in the snow

#7 & #8:

The winter wonderland of Fort Tryon Park

The winter wonderland of Fort Tryon Park

#9:

The way it feels like a small town after a snow

The way it feels like a small town after a snow

#10:

Need I say more?

Need I say more?

Back in NYC

So “A Christmas Carol” finally opened last Friday and with opening night, I also called my last performance! Rachel, my replacement, joined us last Tuesday and starting calling on Saturday, the show after opening. So strange to open a show and leave it two days later!

The party for opening was fun – we all went to a restaurant called Vivo at the Marriott and took advantage of our free drink tickets and then went back to Steve French’s apartment and stayed up way too late drinking cheap beer and wine. Bill’s dog Cooper joined the party for a little while and when he went home to bed, Tallulah came over and hung out. She really is getting quite accustomed to other people now, which is great. Steve French even asked for her phone number, he was so taken with her!

A couple of the young actors at the opening night party - Stephanie, Kristin and Emily - cute, right?

A couple of the young actors at the opening night party - Stephanie, Kristin and Emily - cute, right?

And a triumvirate of hot babes - Anna, Renee, and Natty

And a triumvirate of hot babes - Anna, Renee, and Natty

Saturday and Sunday were a blur of getting it together to leave Hartford. Some of the cast members took me out for drinks on Saturday night at the Goodwin Hotel, which was so nice. I’m going to miss everyone so much! It’s hard to believe that I was only in Hartford for four weeks, it seems like so much longer – especially since I feel like I’ve made some friendships there that are going to last past the close of the show, which is rare and wonderful.

A shot taken yesterday as the sleigh kids ONCE AGAIN rehearsed bringing the sleigh onstage in attempt to correct their drunken sleigh-ing which usually appears in performance

A shot taken yesterday as the sleigh kids ONCE AGAIN rehearsed bringing the sleigh onstage in attempt to correct their drunken sleigh-ing which usually appears in performance

And a couple of shots of the super-cute kids in the cast:

Abbi - "Cider Girl"

Abbi - who plays Cider Girl

John - "Turkey Boy"

John - who plays Turkey Boy

And finally a couple of shots of the awesome stage management team:

With Patti - one of the PAs

With Patti - one of the PAs

With Julien (ASM) and Alex (PA)

With Julien (ASM) and Alex (PA)

Now I am back in NYC and up to my ears in packing. It is a little overwhelming since I am the worst packer in the world. And I’m also putting a lot of stuff in storage – I thought it would only be a couple of boxes, but it turns out that I have A LOT of crap. I can’t wait until its all done and packed away.

I haven’t been able to get a whole lot of knitting done lately, but for Patty I have to post at least one picture of my slow progress on Clapotis:

Clapotis

Clapotis

Pretty right? I’ve done a couple of the drop-stitch rows, which are super fun. I think it will look great with a jeans jacket when it is done.

That’s it for now…off to do some more packing.

Happy Turkey Day!

I was able to get back to Manhattan Wednesday night for the Thanksgiving festivities. It had been such a long week at work, but we made it through the first two previews and I was ready to sleep in my own bed for a night or two.

So I loaded Tallulah up after the matinee on Wednesday and we drove in the rain back to New York City. I watched four hours of Grey’s Anatomy that night…a perfect evening. Andrea and I are catching up on all the episodes we’ve missed through the DVDs from Netflix.

Thursday morning I spent catching up on bills and going through the giant pile of mail that had accumulated in the three weeks I had been gone. In the afternoon I did some packing and went to the wine store to load up on booze for the evening. Cabrini Wines, which is our local wine store has expanded and is AMAZING! We are so lucky to have that store in our ‘hood.

Thanksgiving wine

Thanksgiving wine

Thursday evening was spent at Christopher and Sean’s in Inwood – the Annual Orphans’ Thanksgiving. I’ve been eating Thanksgiving dinner with them since I moved to New York four and a half years ago and it is always a great time…and there is always TONS of great food. This year we had about twenty people in attendance. It was really nice seeing Steven and Michael and Tiffany and Jack and and Gina and Ryan and of course, Christopher and Sean…my NYC family!

Christopher and Sean, our adorable Thanksgiving hosts

Christopher and Sean, our adorable Thanksgiving hosts

I missed being with my real family as they were all together back in California, including Nick and Heather – but I did get to talk to them all on the phone, and if I couldn’t be with them, I did at least get to spend the day with my NYC buddies.

The amazing Thanksgiving table

The amazing Thanksgiving table

Today I woke up 2 1/2 hours later than planned, in a panic. But I did make it make to Hartford in time for the matinee and now I start the final stretch before leaving here next Sunday for good. I told the cast today that I was leaving and everyone is very upset with me and happy for me at the same time. Its been great working with such a fantastic cast here in Hartford and I will miss them.