And…Blackout.

After 1435 performances, the “Spamalot” tour comes to a close today.

For me, it was 1124 performances, 90 cities, 38 states, 3 years, and endless fun.

Thank you, Spamily.

bow 1

costamesasaturday 61

Advertisements

Lasts

The past week and a half has been all about lasts for me. Last city. Last load-in. Last sound check. The goodbyes have started, the packing has started, the cards from the creatives are arriving. Its weird. But, I’m also ready for this journey to be over, as I think most everyone is. I will miss a lot of things about my life out here – the people, the job, the travel, the paycheck – but it’s time to move on to something else. This is by far the most performances I have ever done of one show – I think I’m at around 11oo performances now. Before this, the most I had ever done of a show was I think about 200 performances. I would be lying if I told you I would miss “Spamalot” the show – I love it, but after 1100 performances, I am pretty bored. I’m ready to be challenged by something new.

So, the Costa Mesa stop, for me, has been all about tying up loose ends, readying my trunk for shipping, gathering all the items I think I’ll need over the next few weeks before I see my trunk again, including my winter coat and snow boots! I think by the time I get back to New York I will have missed fall entirely this year. I have a feeling I’m going to be going straight from the summery weather of California and Texas, to winter in Wisconsin and Chicago and New York. I am driving back to NYC, taking two weeks, and visiting some friends along the way. As of right now my schedule is: Huntington Beach to Scottsdale, Scottsdale to Las Cruces, Las Cruces to San Antonio, San Antonio to Houston. Two days in Houston visiting Fran and Tanya who will be there with the “Mary Poppins” tour. Then Houston to Wichita, Wichita to St. Paul, St. Paul to Sobieksi – where I’ll stay with Ryan for four days at his house. Then Sobieski to Chicago, where hopefully I’ll catch up with Flickr friends Lauren and Carolyn, and then Chicago to somewhere in Pennsylvania, then PA to New York City. All by November 1st. Whew. Had to go out with a bang, right?

So, back to Costa Mesa. We are playing the Orange County PAC where I saw “Jekyll and Hyde” while I was in college, with my voice teacher at the time, Sandie. It seemed like an enormous theater then, and now it doesn’t seem so big to me, but it is nice and spacious in comparison to other places we have played – a nice theater to end with. I was so happy to complete some of my load-in tasks for the last time, namely directional signs – which can be so tedious in some of the labyrinth-type theaters (Orange County PAC is one of those). I will be happy to take a break from killing a tree every Tuesday in copy paper.

Early on in the day, Ken, Jovon and I found some Spam can costumes in a rehearsal hall, left over from a press event, so we absconded with them, and wore them to sound check, to everyone’s delight. They ended up becoming a novelty item, being passed around through the cast, everyone taking turns wearing them during the sound check.

Ben and Merle sound checking "Song That Goes"

Ben and Merle sound checking "Song That Goes"

Find Your Grail

Find Your Grail

Ben Whiteley conducting the final sound check

Ben Whiteley conducting the final sound check

Wednesday was Ken’s (the PSM, my boss) last day. Ken is starting work on a new musical called “Wonderland”, which is doing experimental runs in Tampa and Houston, with an eye on Broadway. It was so strange saying goodbye to Ken, who has been with “Spamalot” since the very beginning. It even seems now like he’s on vacation, rather than really gone. Jovon organized a party for Ken, after the show, at Mastro’s steakhouse. Almost everyone came out to say goodbye to him. Ken got really choked up making a speech at the party about how proud he is of the family our whole company has always been. Its such a rare thing to have a company – from actors, to crew, to musicians, to management, all genuinely enjoy spending time with each other – both onstage and off. Ken was definitely a leader in guiding the company in that direction, and he should be proud of that. I got teary when he thanked Jovon and I. Its been so nice working on a team and in an office that is happy and full of laughter 95% of the time. It makes such a difference in wanting to go to work, and being happy there. I hope I get more opportunities of working with such great teams in the future.

The rest of the week was spent doing more packing, and more reflecting on what a great experience this has been.

Our official closing notice was posted. Carissa threw a farewell, thank you shot night.

The closing notice

The closing notice

Carissa's shot night

Carissa's shot night

Over the weekend I took some more photos of the show – I wanted to try and get some shots of some of our newer cast members, but also just want to get in all the shooting I can while I have the chance! What will I take pictures of when this is all over? Its been an amazing photographic opportunity – and to have had the freedom to shoot whatever and whenever I want has been great. I’m so thankful to all my coworkers for allowing me!

Nikki Della Penta, one of our newer showgirls

Nikki Della Penta, one of our newer showgirls

Can Can girls

Can Can girls

Bows

Bows

In keeping with tradition of “never a dull moment”, the weekend of shows was no exception. We had a number of people out and then Matthew Greer, who plays Lancelot, injured his leg at the Saturday matinee, so we had to put Tera-Lee on one last time (hopefully!) in a male ensemble track, to cover David Havasi, who understudies Lance. Its always fun when Tera is on as a guy, and her husband was in town, so he was able to come and see her “butch it up”. Sunday night was Cara Cooper’s last show (one of our ensemble girls). Cara has a wedding to go so she unfortunately she has to miss the final week of shows. She has been with the company for almost two years and it was sad to have to say goodbye to her early.

On Monday night it was time for a little fun. Mitchell and Paula hosted the second “Hell Party” (the first being in Dallas in 2007). They went all out decorating their rental house for Halloween, and everyone did an amazing job coming up with costumes. It was a really fun night – a great way to let off some stress and be together one more time before the final week of shows.

Angela Dittmar-Lykins

Angela Dittmar-Lykins

Jason Goldsberry

Jason Goldsberry

Roy Turpin

Roy Turpin

Mitchell Beck

Mitchell Beck

Steven Wenslawski

Steven Wenslawski

The weather this week has turned windy and rainy. Its the perfect weather for staying indoors and watching a movie – or in my case, getting my hair done, (which I did on Tuesday), getting a massage (Monday’s activity) and catching up on blogging. I’m hoping the weather is good enough tomorrow for my final hike with Suzanne. Friday will be all about packing and cleaning the apartment, and then we have the final weekend of shows.

An overcast day at the Huntington Beach

An overcast day at the Huntington Beach

Not much time left now – just trying to savor every moment. And gearing up for life back in New York!

Celebrating the Spam!

I’ve got some catching up to do here of my time with Ryan during his visit in LA, but unfortunately I have to pack, so it will have to wait! We leave LA tomorrow, and it really feels like the end of the tour is near, now. We’ve had a couple of long-time beloved cast members leave in the last couple of weeks and everyone is starting to pack up boxes and send things home. The end is clearly in sight.

I wanted to do something for the company before the show closed, and so I have been working on a book of my tour photos, which I put together on Blurb.com. The finished book “Travels on the Bright Side” turned out beautifully and it is now on sale at the Blurb bookstore. You can go there to check out a preview of the book. I’m so happy to see all the photos in one place – these past three years have been quite a ride!

Click on the book image to the right of this entry to be taken to the Blurb bookstore.

One of our cast members, Nigel, who has been one of our swings for almost as long as I’ve been on the tour, is leaving us after our LA engagement. Nigel is a really funny, talented guy, and he is going to stay in LA and give the business here a shot. To celebrate his time in “Spamalot”, he put together a video called “Spamarap” which he premiered last night at shot night. Check it out – it is HI-larious and really well done (be warned, there are some dirty parts – so not for the faint of heart).

More soon from San Diego!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sewing, Photography, Hanging out, Working.

That’s pretty much what the last few weeks has consisted of. It’s been great.

Santa Monica beach

Santa Monica beach

Suzanne at the Cooper/Bowen pool party

Suzanne at the Cooper/Bowen pool party

Hiking at Verdugo Mountain

Hiking at Verdugo Mountain

Photographing Lyn as the Lady of the Lake

Photographing Lyn as the Lady of the Lake

My latest finished sewing project - the Mendocino Sundress

My latest finished sewing project - the Mendocino Sundress

Ryan comes tomorrow for a week! Can’t wait to see him!

Changes, Changes, Changes.

We spent last week at West Point military academy re-working the show. As you know, our tour has been out for quite a while now, about two-and-a-half years, and our management is looking for ways to not only make the show more cost effective to travel, but also easier to move and load-in. To that end, some modifications were made to our set, requiring us to go back into rehearsal to work out the show with the new elements.

Paula and Tim rehearsing "Finland"

Paula and Tim rehearsing "Finland"

It was a long-ish drive to West Point everyday from our hotel in Fishkill, NY, but I didn’t mind. Fall is in full swing in these parts, and the drive was gorgeous. We had to take a two-lane highway through the mountains to get to the campus, which was also gorgeous. Our rehearsal room had an amazing view of the Hudson River.

The view from the rehearsal studio

The view from the rehearsal studio

At West Point

At West Point

The first two days of the week we spent with the cast in the studio, re-working “Grail” and “Camelot”, the two numbers most affected by the scenic changes, and we used the remaining time to clean-up the rest of the show with Scotty, our dance supervisor, and BT, our associate director. While we were in the studio, Ken, our design team and the crew were in the theater, loading in the new set, and beginning a “dry tech” of the new elements (running the cues without actors).

The boys rehearsing "Bright Side"

The boys rehearsing "Bright Side"

On Thursday we had a fairly short day with the cast. We worked through “Grail” and “Camelot” and “Laker Girls” onstage with the new scenery. Originally many more changes had been planned for the set, but in the end the changes are quite minimal. We cut our downstage automation track, meaning that the scenic pieces that usually ride in that track – the reeds in “Lady of the Lake” and the trees in the second act, are now pushed on and pulled off by stagehands with very sneaky (not so much) push sticks and pull lines. We also modified Mount Olympus, which appears in “Find Your Grail”. We no longer have the grail lift that pops up behind the mountain with the Lady of the Lake on it. Now the mountain enters in the second automation track (further upstage) and Esther climbs up a little step ladder on the back of it to pop up over the mountain. We also now have a drop with a painted Camelot castle, rather than the castle hanger that we used to have. There are other minor changes such as new reeds palettes in “Lady of the Lake”.

Teching "Camelot"

Teching "Camelot"

King Ni chillin' backstage

King Ni chillin' backstage

The other major change, in addition to the scenery, is that our orchestra has been downsized – I’m not remembering what the exact musician count is now, but it is sizably smaller than it was. This required a completely new orchestration, as the missing instruments had to be accounted for somehow – mostly by adding more effects to our keyboards. On Friday we spent all afternoon onstage, singing through the entire show with the band. It actually sounds quite good – some parts, I think, even sound better!

On Friday night we ran through the show with all the new elements. It was really fun figuring out how it was all going to work and reassigning cues. I love that part of tech – figuring out all the puzzle pieces.

On Saturday we did a dress rehearsal in the afternoon and then our one single performance for the week that night. Then load out!

We got the sad news that Broadway company has been given their closing notice. Their last performance will be January 18th. We’ll be the last remaining “Spamalot” company. So many of our former tour cast members are in the Broadway company now – its really sad for them to be looking at unemployment. Its scary how many shows in New York are closing. The economy is really taking its toll.

Back to load-out. Our poor crew were worked to the bone all week. They were in at 8am and at the theater until at least 9pm each night. They were all fried by the time load-out rolled around. But in the end they managed to cram everything into six trucks – that’s two less than before! It will save the company a lot of money to have two fewer trucks, and the more cost effective we are, the longer we can exist. So…yay!

Now we are on a lovely two week lay-off. More on that in the next post!

Toronto

So. Toronto. Well, first of all, I got into the country. Which is good. It was a long drive and I was so tired, I had to pull over for a nap at one point. When I finally got to the border I was called into the immigration office for questioning, but when I opened the door, there were two other members of the “Spamalot” company sitting in there. Turns out they called us all in. After a few questions they let me through.  When I finally drove into Toronto and got to the rental house, I was exhausted. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with the eccentric landlady that greeted me or the fact that the internet wasn’t working, but luckily all that got ironed out within a day or two and I was able to start enjoying Toronto.

The house we are in is a little on the kooky side – its all bright colors and arty furniture and strange paintings, but the light it gets is amazing, and it is so nice having a deck and backyard to look out onto, even if it is a bit too cold to hang out there now. We’ve been spending a good deal of time at the house cooking and watching movies, which has been nice, especially since the one-weekers are about to ramp up again and the days of kitchens and living rooms will soon be a thing of the past.

The theater, the Canon, is downtown right near Dundas Square. It’s an old, kind of dumpy theater, with a very, very small backstage. There is absolutely no onstage crossover – our castle butts all the way up against the back wall, so I spent a good deal of time during load-in marking out how to get from stage right to stage left through the basement and drawing up a list of modifications the actors would have to make in their usual backstage traffic patterns. Despite the tight space, opening went fine – and the run has proceeded without anything unusual to report. The houses have been small. I don’t know if its because “Spamalot” played here already (two years ago, before I joined the tour) or if its a sign of the bad economy. Either way, the small houses have been a bit of a downer.

On our first day off in town, we had a pretty lazy day, but did get out for a bike ride to Queen Street West, which is a shopping district, and home to quite a few yarn stores! I passed two, Romni and Americo, which I made a plan to return to another day when I had a bit more time and a plan in mind as to what I wanted to buy. The following day we ventured out to the Distillery District, which is fairly close to where we are staying in South Riverdale. The Distillery District is where booze was manufactured during the Prohibition to be sold to the U.S. All the factory buildings still exist, but now house galleries and shops and restaurants. It’s a very cool area. They were filming a Mini Cooper commercial while we were there and had a big fly rig constructed to hoist these actors dressed like ninjas into the Minis. It was all very strange!

Distillery District

Distillery District

On the second Wednesday in town, we had two shows – which we hardly ever do. It was weird and exhausting to have a two-show day in the middle of the week, but it always pays off on Sunday when we are done after the matinee. 

Atop the CN Tower

Atop the CN Tower

On Friday we visited the CN Tower, which is currently the tallest free-standing structure in the world. It was a bit strange looking out and not seeing any special monuments or mountains like you do atop the Space Needle or the Washington monument, but it was very clear out and the views were pretty amazing. It was fun to walk on the glass floor too – it kind of messes with your head a bit to be able to see through to the ground way down below you!

Since we only had one show on Sunday, Cuz, our sound guy, hosted a BBQ at his rental house in East Toronto. The house he is staying in is pretty great – big with a backyard.  Cuz made all kinds of delicious skewers and an entire cooler filled with corn on the cob. So, so good. Jamie Karen (she was one of our ensemble girls when I first joined the tour) and her husband Mark showed up – it was great to see them. Jamie is touring in “Jersey Boys” which is also currently playing Toronto. We had fun hanging out and eating and eating and eating. 

Ben enjoying some corn at Cuz's

Ben enjoying some corn at Cuz's

The following day Ryan and I took our bikes on the ferry to the Toronto islands. We biked all around the islands, which are beautiful and strange, all at the same time. Centre Island has no residents, and houses a small amusement park. This time of year the amusement park is closed, and it was a bit like a ghost town. There was a little farm with animals that was still open though, and we ran into Patrick and his girlfriend Abby there as we tooled around looking at the pigs and goats and geese. On one of the other islands, there is a small community of houses where people live year-round. It looks like kind of an artists community – the houses are all colorfully painted and some look like little gingerbread houses. There are no cars allowed on the islands, so everybody bikes. I think it would be hard to live somewhere where you had to take a boat to even get to the grocery store.

After spending the afternoon biking around, we took the ferry back to mainland Toronto and went over to the Distillery District for dinner. 

My loot

My loot

On Tuesday Ryan and I biked over to the Kensington Market area and checked things out. It is kind of hippie/ethnic area with some cool shops and restaurants. We had some yummy tacos and then stopped by three yarn stores on the west side before heading home. I wasn’t too impressed with Lettuce Knit, which I found to be tiny with not much stock that I hadn’t seen before. Romni Wools was huge and jam-packed. I spent about $150 in there on some malabrigo sock yarn to make a sweater (on very small needles, I know!). The last store I went to was Americo – a beautiful store that makes all their own yarns. All the fiber was very expensive in there so I only bought two skeins, to make a couple of hats.

The rest of the week was pretty lazy – we had a couple of new actors arrive to join the show – Candy and Carissa are joining our female ensemble, taking over for Tera-Lee and Bree, and Matthew takes over the role of Lancelot from Patrick after Toronto. So, when I wasn’t in rehearsal, I just kind of took it easy around the house.

On Thursday night Ryan and I went back to the Distillery District to get some beers and perogies, and when we came out afterwards, we found that Ryan’s bike had been stolen. Someone cut through my lock with bolt cutters and took his bike and left mine! Ryan filled out a police report, but nothing has been found. So, unfortunately it looks like Ryan is going to have to buy a new bike. Oh well. Enough with the thievery already!

Yesterday was our third Monday off here. Patrick, who leaves the show at the end of the week, threw a party on the roof of his building to go out in style! It was an amazing space with an incredible view of the CN Tower. Cuz barbecued and we had a blast drinking beers and hanging out. After the BBQ, I went to my first hockey game with Ryan, Matt and Scott! It was really fun!

Adam and Patrick at the BBQ

Adam and Patrick at the BBQ

Sarah Lin, Paula and Darryl on the roof

Sarah Lin, Paula and Darryl on the roof

Matt and Scott at the hockey game

Matt and Scott at the hockey game

So that’s the recap of Toronto so far. It’s a fun city – a lot like New York, very urban. It doesn’t have the beauty of a city like Vancouver or Seattle or the historical sights of a town like Philadelphia,  but definitely has some interesting neighborhoods and things to do, and lots and lots of good shopping!

The show seems to be going through a bit of flux right now with people leaving, and people wanting to leave. The small houses have been kind of demoralizing, as well as the canceled shows in Hartford. I’m hoping with some new faces around, some new energy will be infused into the company. It’s hard to stay happy and positive when there are a few people around who are so unhappy. Or when the people who are leaving are so happy to be leaving. I just have to remind myself how lucky I am to have a job like this, especially when the economy is so bad. So many Broadway shows are closing or not opening at all, and there are hardly any new tours going out. I try not take anything for granted. But sometimes it’s hard.

Anyway, that’s all for now – more soon as we wrap up the Canada leg and head back to the States!

22 Weeks, 22 Cities

This week marks the end of a very, very long stretch of one-week stops. Twenty-two to be exact, making the last day off – free of travel and work, way back in January when we were in Boston. I went on vacation that week, so my Mexico trip was the last time I had any time off. That was six months ago!

Traveling to a new city every week has had its ups and downs. On the one hand, we were able to explore a variety of cities that we may not ever had had the chance to visit, if not for this tour schedule. We were also able to play at some amazing theaters around the country, and meet some really nice people along the way. We were able to experience a true touring gypsy life – which some accustomed to better than others, but I think  in the end, we all feel pretty proud of ourselves, regardless, from having made it through.

On the downside, packing every Sunday got to be a drag – both packing up the show, and packing up our own suitcases. The travel between the shorter jumps was fairly easy – the overnight bus rides were fun and convenient. But in the last few weeks, when the stops have been further apart, all the air travel has been a drag. The schedule has also been unfortunate in that you can never stock up on groceries (well, too many groceries), because you can never finish them all on a one week stop. That is one thing to really look forward to on the longer stops – a stocked fridge – that you might actually finish!

Tallulah has been a sainted kitty throughout all the moves. She only had one spiteful episode (peeing on my suitcase in Nashville), but other than hiding under the bed every travel day – she has been the best-behaved, most adaptive and loving little puss on the planet. She is a rock star.

So to recap – here are some of the highlights of Spam Tour’s “Trail of Tears”:

PROVIDENCE: We said goodbye to Michael and Jeff, our original King and Patsy. The girls sent them off right with a hilarious game show-edition shot night. We also enjoyed the diner truck which parked late night behind our hotel.

Jeff and Michael's final shot night

Jeff and Michael's final shot night

HERSHEY: Brad Bradley made his debut as Patsy, with Chris Gurr assuming the role of the King. We had a blast at Chocolate World, and were welcomed with open Italian arms at Fenicci’s.

Waiting to see the 3D movie at Chocolate World

Waiting to see the 3D movie at Chocolate World

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

Julie's debut as the Lady of the Lake

JACKSONVILLE: Hometown of Patrick and Keith Reese. Was lovely seeing Keith’s smiling face around the show again. Adam Souza assumed the maestro’s baton as Ben began his leave of absence.

Also, Gary Beach joined us, and began rehearsals to take over the role of the King.

Adam as Ben at sound check

Adam as Ben at sound check

FORT MYERS: Where we were re-introduced to “Crawdaddy”, a strange crawfish-loving keyboard player who had first played with us back in Naples. Most of this week was spent doing taxes with Trudy!

Crawdaddy!

Crawdaddy!

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

Original Spam Tour members at the 2-year anniversary party

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

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

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

Lee, Ryan, Lobster Puppet, Keith and Crawdaddy

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

Julie at her going-away party

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

Patrick on the man-o-vator

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

Brian makes a new friend on the pub crawl

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

Taking pictures at an old cemetery in Raleigh

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

Patrick at open mic night at the Hootenanny

MILWAUKEE: Pubs, pubs, and more pubs. That’s how I remember Milwaukee. The art museum building was stunning to see. We said farewell to Piper with another pub crawl, this one in a party bus. Piper and Julie leaving were big blows – it was hard to lose those two girls – I miss them! Milwaukee was also the debut of “Duckie” – Tera-Lee performing a male ensemble track.

Cuz and Piper at her going-away

Cuz and Piper at her going-away

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

Gary taking a shot from the ice luge

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

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

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

Getting drunk with Elaine when I should have been packing

MINNEAPOLIS: The crazy weather of being in Tornado Alley continued, with thunderstorms peppering the week. We visited the sculpture garden and played mini golf with Ryan’s friend, Brent. In work-related news, Patrick split his head open causing a frenzy of last-minute replacements on the Saturday. I visited the Mall of America, Brit’s Pub (a couple of times), did quite a bit of bike-riding, and had a lovely Monday night meal with Bret.

Brent and Ryan playing mini-golf

Brent and Ryan playing mini-golf

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

OKC Memorial

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

With my Ta

With my Bretty

With my Bretty

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

Tera-Lee doing some gender-bending in Rio

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

Packing up trunks for Canada

22 eventful weeks! I look forward to the next 22, only I am happy to report that we will be spending some quality time in the next few cities with longer sit-downs, just enough time to recoup before another slew of one-weekers begin this winter. 

Bring it on!

We're Performin' for the Mormons

Ski lift in Park City

Ski lift in Park City

Salt Lake City is a strange, strange place. 

We arrived here on Monday – I had the world’s most annoying fourteen-year-old girl sitting next to me on the plane. She basically spent most of the flight either lying in my lap taking pictures out the window (which I was sitting next to), or harassing my cat.

Other than that it was an uneventful travel day and I arrived in Park City, UT, where Ryan and I are renting a ski condo, at around 3:00pm. I love Park City. I am so glad that we decided to brave the 45-minute commute over the mountains to get to work, because Park City is beautiful. A ski town surrounded by mountains, it has definitely grown over the past ten years with being host to the Olympics and also the Sundance Film Festival. However, for me, who is used to living amidst the craziness of New York City, Park City seems very small-town in comparison, even though they do have an outlet mall and a Walmart.

Our cute Park City condo

Our cute Park City condo

Our cute Park City condo

Our cute Park City condo

The main drag in Park City is the appropriately named Main Street. It is lined with clothing boutiques, restaurants and bars and also the town ski lift. It’s pretty sleepy this time of year as we are right in between summer and ski season, but I still had a good time trolling the shops for stickers for my trunk and perhaps a new leather purse.

Main Street. Park City, UT

Main Street. Park City, UT

Main Street. Park City, UT.

Main Street. Park City, UT.

The load-in in Salt Lake City was a bit hairy. The first truck didn’t arrive from Portland until after 3:00pm on Monday and our advance truck, which is usually the first to arrive, got a flat tire and didn’t arrive until late Monday afternoon. The first truck to be unloaded ended up being the props truck, and the first item loaded into the building was not truss or deck or scenery, but Piper’s (one of our swings) personal trunk!

Despite the late start though, the show went up on time on Tuesday. The audiences here are strange. They are very quiet when any gay references are made and very vocal to any God references. It’s hard to tell whether they like us or not. Many of the audiences are very quiet, but then still give us a standing ovation. 

As I said above, Salt Lake City is a strange place. The streets here are enormous – like 6 lanes wide, and mostly run one-way. I was told it was to allow room for wagons in the olden days, but then I was also told yesterday that it is so that there is room for everyone to line the streets when Christ returns. Whatever the reason, the streets are enormous, and so in order to keep pedestrians safe, the city has flags on street corners that you have to hold when you cross so that you don’t get hit by a car. No joke. It’s actually quite amusing. Here’s some photos:

On Wednesday, Ryan and I stayed in Park City and walked around Main Street, and on Thursday we went for a long bike ride along an old railroad site, called “The Rail Trail”. The countryside was beautiful.

On Friday I had understudy rehearsal, but between rehearsal and the show that night, Ken, Karl and I went to the Greek Festival at the Greek Orthodox church down the street from the theater. It was really kitschy and fun, And the food was good!

Today I took a peek at Temple Square, which is near the theater. I was a bit scared that I was going to be solicited by the Mormons, so I didn’t actually go onto the grounds, but I did peek through the iron fence. The temple and grounds are very pretty and not nearly as flashy as I thought they would be. I was going to school in San Diego when the Mormon temple opened there – the one in San Diego is crazy, spaceship-looking  with white and gold spires that are lit up at night. You can see it from miles around. The one here in Salt Lake is very traditional, not at all like the one in San Diego.

In other show-related news, this week is the last week that Keith Reese, our head carpenter will be with us. He is leaving the tour to go home to Jacksonville to work with the symphony there. I will miss Keith a lot – he’s a great guy – he has always been so nice and generous to me. I’ll miss his smiling face! His replacement, Justin, seems like a really nice guy, though, and I’m sure the transition will be seamless, and I think it also might inject some new energy into the crew, which can only be a good thing with the crazy schedule coming up.

Mike Berg, Justin Klynsma, Keith Reese and Steve Ramondo

Mike Berg, Justin Klynsma, Keith Reese and Steve Ramondo

And finally, happy birthday to Vera, our head prop mistress. We had a girls’ night birthday party for her last night at Benihana’s. Here’s a photo of Vera and some of our beloved Spamasluts:

On Monday I head to Sunnyvale, CA to visit with the fam and see my friends. Pics of that trip next week!

48 Hours of Spamalot

Monday, August 13, 2007:

7:00am: I leave the Galtier apartments and begin the schlep with all my bags and cat in tow to the Hilton three blocks away where the bus awaits to take us to the airport. I inadvertently lock suitcase #2 and said cat in the apartment building lobby while taking suitcase #1 out to the street (I had left my keys in the apartment, as we were leaving forever). After panicking for thirty seconds, a nice maintenance man enters the building allowing me to rescue the rest of my belongings, and … the cat.

7:00am: I wave goodbye to our associate conductor, Adam Souza, who is driving the 425 miles to Kansas City. I wonder why we are not taking a bus instead of flying.

8:00am: Bus arrives at airport. We all realize it is a big airport, meaning long trek to gate, including subway ride. With cat. Great.

8:15am: All in line at United ticketing. For some reason the group reservations show we are all traveling with cats. There are twelve of us on the flight from Spamalot, mostly wardrobe, stage management and a couple of actors. And twelve cats? We are shuffled around into multiple lines and bitched at for all having overweight baggage.

8:45am: After paying $100 for overweight baggage and $85 for the cat, I follow Jovon into the security line. We go through amazingly quickly and the cat is on excellent behavior, even as she is pulled from her bag and walked through. It is only when I see Esther, our Lady of the Lake, directed to a much longer line, that I realize I have gotten through the security for first class customers without any objections. Must have been the cat.

9:15am: With Starbucks and Egg McMuffin in hand, I wait at the gate for our 10:00am flight.

9:45am: We are told our flight is an hour late because of mechanical reasons at O’Hare.

10:45am: Spamalot actors who are catching the noon flight start trickling by our gate with sympathetic looks on their faces.

11:15am: We finally get on our plane, and are all moved to the front to facilitate running like hell to our 12:10pm connection once we hit Chicago. The woman at the United gate tells us that they will try and hold the connecting flight for us.

11:30am: Pilot tells us that the plane is late not because of mechanical reasons at O’Hare, but because of construction on the Minneapolis runway. They are only letting 28 planes land an hour.

11:45am: 30,000 feet. Stewardess cannot retrieve our connecting flight info as it is a United Express flight. She is not helpful.

12:30pm: Reach Chicago O’Hare. Connecting flight gone.

1:00pm: Find gate of next flight to Kansas City, due to leave 3:30pm. Are told we are all wait-listed on the flight but that the flight is sold out so it doesn’t look good that all twelve of us will make it on. Woman at that United gate doesn’t seem very interested in helping us find alternative flights (even though it is United’s fault we missed the connection). She suggests the 6am flight the next day. Fran, Roy and Wayne have to be at load-in tonight at 6pm. Make a plan to meet back at that gate at 2:30pm. 

Also 1:00pm: Original scheduled time of arrival in Kansas City had flight not gotten delayed.

Also 1:00pm: Crew starts loading in scenery at theater in KC. The only way to get scenery to the stage is up three floors in a freight elevator.

1:30pm: I think about taking Tallulah outside to pee and realize that without a ticket for a flight, I cannot leave the gate area.

2:00pm: Adam Souza arrives at the hotel in Kansas City after a leisurely 6 1/2 hour drive and a stop for lunch.

2:30pm: Meet back at gate. Find out that company management has booked the musicians on a 7pm flight, wardrobe on the cast flight at 3pm on American Airlines, Esther on a 4pm flight. Am told that the rest of us will attempt standby on the 3:30pm flight. I decide that if I do not get on the 3:30pm flight I am renting a car and driving to Kansas City.

3:00pm: Fran, Roy and Wayne take off for KC on the cast flight.

3:30pm: Successfully get onto the flight to KC with Suzanne, Jovon and Ben!

4:00pm: Jeff, Esther, Lynn and the musicians all make it onto the 4pm flight to KC. Lynn will not make it to the KC Chiefs/Toronto Blue Jays game that night, where she was supposed to sing the national anthem.

4:45pm: Fran, Roy and Wayne arrive at KC airport with no bags in sight. They cab to the hotel to check in.

5:00pm: I arrive in KC. Go to look for baggage.

5:15pm: Meet up with Karl (our company manager) who has just arrived with the rest of the cast, who are outside on a bus. Attempt again to look for luggage.

5:45pm: Recover some of the luggage from our group.. Realize my bags are not among them. Fill out lost baggage paperwork.

5:50pm: Suzanne asks the nice people at United for a toiletry bag since her suitcase has not arrived. They assure her that our bags will be at the hotel at 9:00pm that night so she need not worry (and will not need a toiletry bag).

5:50pm: Take bus to Hotel Phillips in Kansas City.

6:00pm: Fran and Roy go to load-in. The washing machines (which are in our rider) are not at the theater. Fran takes all the show laundry to a local laundromat to wash.

also 6:00pm: Wayne (our wardrobe supervisor) is taken to the hospital with an infection.

also 6:00pm: Ken goes back to the hotel. His air conditioning does not work. It is 103 degrees outside.

also 6:00pm: I make it to CVS just before they close and buy a litter box, litter, and a can of food for Tallulah.

6:15pm: Tallulah looks at me as if to say “If you think I am going to eat this crappy CVS food, you are out of your mind”. She ignores the food. I cut a “to go” coffee cup down and fill it with water to make her a water bowl.

7:00pm: I go to dinner, hoping the bags will arrive soon.

also 7:00pm: Jeff, Lynn, Esther and musicians arrive at the hotel.

8:00pm: I try contacting our company managers to see if my baggage arrived with the 4pm flight. I find out no information.

10:00pm: Ken mops the floors of all the dressing rooms at the theater as they are filthy and there is no production manager for the theater who would otherwise be mopping the floors or instructing someone else to do so.

10:00pm: Baggage still has not arrived. I call United and find out that our lost baggage reports were never filed. I file another report and am told my bags are still in Chicago. I am told to call back in two hours for updated status report. I call Fran at the laundromat and tell her she had better call United and file another report.

11:30pm: I fall asleep.

12:00 midnight: Fran goes back to hotel. Her toilet explodes and floods her room. She has to change rooms.

 

Tuesday, August 14, 2007:

4:00am: I wake up and check my bag status online. They are lost. United has no idea where they are. I call United. They think my bags may be on a 6am flight to Kansas City.

I lie awake until 6am.

6:00am: I check my bag status online again. My bags are still lost.

7:00am: I go to CVS and buy some deoderant and make-up. Tallulah still hasn’t eaten. She has now not had food since Sunday.

8:00am: Jovon and I arrive at the theater and immediately go to our trunks to find other shoes and cat food (me) and another shirt (Jovon). We find our office, which is located in a closet on stage level.

8:30am: I run home to feed Tallulah. She finally eats.

8:30am: All of the water at the Radisson hotel has been turned off due to the toilet explosion in Fran’s room.

9:00am: Company management arrives at the theater. They start calling our travel agent to figure out where our baggage is.

also 9:00am: I check bag status online again. Still lost.

also 9:00am: A large water leak is discovered in the hallway at the theater.

10:00am: Roy and Fran arrive at the theater. Wayne, their supervisor, is out sick, heavily medicated to help remedy his infection.

11:00am: Suzanne calls United and is told her bag was put on a flight that morning to KC along with eight other bags.

12:00 noon: Jeff goes to the airport to pick up Fran, Roy and Wayne’s suitcases. United will not transport them to the hotel as they flew on an American flight to KC (even though it was United’s fault they didn’t make their connecting flight in Chicago).

also 12:00 noon: A group of suitcases arrive at the Hotel Phillips.

1:30pm: I go to the hotel and retrieve my bags! I change my clothes!

2:00pm: Matt Allen, one of our chorus boys, calls out sick due to a recurring staph infection. 

3:30pm: Patrick Heusinger, our Lancelot, calls and says he has missed his connecting flight in Chicago. He will get on a 4:45pm flight arriving KC at 6:15pm. He will not make sound check.

4:00pm: Our drummer and the local bass player argue in the pit over space.

4:30pm: Patrick calls to tell us he is on a plane on its way to KC.

4:30pm: Ken and Jovon go back to the hotel to take a shower.

5:15pm: I head to Starbucks to get some food. I run into Ken and Jovon. Patrick has just called. He is still on the runway in Chicago.

5:30pm: Back at the theater. Patrick still has not taken off.

5:55pm: Jonathan Brody, the Lancelot understudy (who has never performed the role, and who thinks he is playing Bedevere that night), enters the theater. Ken tells Jonathan he is playing Lancelot tonight. Because of other various vacations/sicknesses, we now have understudies on for the King, Bedevere, Lancelot, and three ensemble male tracks. I call Wardrobe and Jovon calls Hair. They are not happy.

6:00pm: We start sound check and mini put-in for Jonathan.

7:15pm: Wardrobe begins wrestling with the Knight of Ni stilts to adjust them for Jonathan, who is two inches shorter than Patrick. They have success.

7:40pm: Patrick arrives at the theater. We tell him to stay out of the way.

8:00pm: The mayor of KC makes a curtain speech. His name is Mayor Funkhouser.

8:05pm: Show starts.

8:40pm: The mountain hangar and the rabbit mound get entwined stage left and start swinging around like mad. They knock a fluorescent light off the fly rail.

8:42pm: Andrew Fitch, one of the swings, rolls his ankle. There are no more men available to go on. He has to continue. I get him an ice pack.

8:45pm: Eric Hayden, also in the male ensemble, rolls his ankle. I get him ice.

8:57pm: The ensemble girls want masking on the roof of their quick change booth. They say the guys on the fly rail can see inside.

9:00pm: Intermission. Our prop head gets into a screaming match with the local sound guy out on the loading dock.

9:15pm: Act Two starts.

10:20pm: Show finally ends. Jonathan is great as Lancelot. Wardrobe are champs.

10:30pm: Company management opens a tab at the hotel bar. We all drink heavily.

1:30am: Finally, bed.

Kitty and Baby

Kitty and Baby