Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chillin in the City(s)

Our next venue was in Bayside, NY and it was fun because we were performing in the same theatre where we had teched our show only a week earlier. This meant that the space was familiar and we didn’t have to become too acclimated otherwise. We also knew that our producers were coming to see the show there since it was only a train ride right outside of New York City. The bus arrived to the venue and we slept on the bus that morning while they loaded in for our matinee show. We ended up getting driven to the hotel, which was really nice, but the hotel wasn’t ready for us and we only had a little bit of time, so we sat around and ran to get showers to get ready for the show. We were all a little crazy, but that’s what happens on a tour like this! Things go wrong.

The show went pretty well despite a few flubs. In the show we have a single red rose that is used throughout as a connecting image. We see it three distinct times, but it’s very visible throughout. Well- the bloom of the rose fell off twice in the show. Ha ha! We did our best to just go along and play it off, but it was funny. That’s what happens, though. Things are out of our control a lot of the time, but whoever is on stage end up with that “egg on the face” look whether or not it’s their fault.

Regardless, the show was a success and the producers were super happy and very nice about everything. Since we were so close to the city most of us headed in to hang out with friends. I met up with Rachel Perin and Elizabeth Worley, two friends who went to NKU. After catching the end of a church service we all headed to dinner at Jimmy’s BBQ and then saw Tina Diaz, another great friend from NKU. Tina and I got dessert at Max Brenner’s and then I headed back to the hotel for the night.

Our next show wasn’t for a few days so instead of biding our time we headed to Pittsburgh, PA, where we didn’t have a show at all! Instead we hung out and explored a really fun city! Our hotel was near the airport and right next door to a Bob Evans, where I ended up eating 4 times in the two days we were in Pittsburgh. Oops. Anyhow- the night we arrived at our LaQuinta Inn we ate at Bob Evans and hung out in the hotel, playing games and telling all sorts of stories about our lives, our families… enough said. It was a fun night.

The next day was a BLAST! We got up early and took our hotel shuttle to the airport where we were able to grab a bus into downtown Pittsburgh. It was rainy out, but we had a plan. We walked on a pedestrian bridge over the Allegheny River, one of the three rivers that surround the city, to reach the Andy Warhol museum. Warhol was a prolific artist and completely changed pop culture and pop art through print, film, photography, and his own lifestyle. The museum was a fun, multi-sensory experience. One of our favorite exhibits was of Warhol’s “Silver Clouds.” These are basically silver helium-filled balloons. They are just filled enough to float around gently and stay in the room of the exhibit. We had fun playing in there, laying on the floor and pretending to be tripped out beatniks of Warhol’s time! Ha!

Following our trip back in time we walked to Primanti Brothers for lunch. This is a famous restaurant of the city. It’s a sandwich shop that piles on great meats and has slaw and fries on the sandwich as well. It was AWESOME! For a foodie like me, I was in heaven splitting two sandwiches with Tavis, the male swing on tour. After dinner we walked around the city before taking a ride to finish our night up one of the inclines in the city. Pittsburgh uses a few inclines as a main means of transportation for people living on the hills around town. They have been in place for a long time and provide a really cheap, unique way to see gorgeous views of Pittsburgh.

We had such a fun time and finished the night off finding the bus back to the airport. From there, our hotel shuttle was not coming, but the hotel across the street sent a shuttle. Being the great actors that we are, we hopped on and pretended we were staying at the Double Tree! Ha ha! Kevin was even texting Katie Mitchell (who was sitting in the passenger seat) throughout the ride to flirt with the driver so he wouldn’t report us. Ha! We had dessert at Bob Evans that night before heading out the next morning (after a Bob Evans breakfast, of course) to head to Lima, OH! Keep safe on the roads, everyone! You never know when you may be passing by my bus!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Red Bank, NJ

After heading out of Pittsfield we headed to Red Bank, New Jersey, which is fairly close to New York. That meant that Kevin headed into the city to be with his parents, Kim was with her family in Jersey, and we were going to have lots of family and friends coming to the show! First we had a day off, though. The weather was NASTY out, but Tavis and I being the determined explorers that we are, decided to get ourselves to town via a bus. After standing in the rain at the bus stop for 20 minutes we came to terms with the fact that the bus wasn’t coming, went inside and waited out the storm.

That evening the 5 cast members who were around decided to do a family night out so we called a cab that took us to Bertucci’s, an Italian restaurant right by the movie theatre. There we had a great big meal (and we may have had some Sangria) and then walked over to the movie theatre. We saw “Social Network” that night, which was fun. We especially enjoyed seeing the 13 year-olds that were out to the movies, talking, making out, etc. around the theatre. The best part was seeing them all have to wait outside for their parents to pick them up. Brought back some great memories of the Oldham 8. (Cue nostalgic music.)

The next day was BEAUTIFUL so we were able to head into the actual downtown of Red Bank. We walked around the town that had tons of different restaurants and shops, looked for purchases, bought coffee, and enjoyed the waterfront area right in town. There was a pub crawl to raise money for breast cancer awareness going on that was called “Boozin’ for Boobs” and we enjoyed spotting them all over town. Our dinner was at the Dublin House, a nice Irish restaurant with great outdoor seating and great food. That night we performed at the Count Basie Theatre, a 1500 seat theatre that was recently renovated. It is a nice, big space with a gorgeous ceiling. We also laughed because the backstage reminded us of a Broadway theatre, with little dressing rooms on different floors. It was a fun show and our director, Ray Roderick, came in from the city to see us. After the show we got to meet a lot of family and friends of the cast, plus since the town was small we saw some audience members out, including a little girl who wants to be a performer and a former Rockette that gave us advice to keep taking ballet classes! Ha ha! She was a real treat, wearing a diamond button that said “5678” and still rocking those Rockette legs! Ha ha! We enjoyed getting to visit with everyone at the Dublin House again before loading on the bus to travel to Bayside, NY.

Hope you are well! Thanks for keeping up with us!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Strolling Down Highways

Our next stop on tour was in Pittsfield, MA. We rode the bus and arrived at the Comfort Inn around 5:00 pm. Not knowing exactly what was around the hotel (which was somewhat outside of the town), the cast decided to start walking down the road to find food for dinner. It was getting a little dark outside, but we figured we would find something fairly quickly. We quickly passed an overpriced steakhouse and decided to go further, over a hill where we thought there would be more options. This simple walk down the sidewalk turned into a bit of a hike along a highway…without a sidewalk…in the dark. We did find one more restaurant that we couldn’t afford, but they were kind enough to inform us that if we had just gone the opposite way down the road we would have hit plenty of options right away. (Of course!)

Once back on track we found the local “Grub and Grog”…yup that’s the actual name. We decided pub fare was the ticket for the night and the whole gang spread out across a few bar-top tables. Our waitress then came over, very friendly and excited to serve. Upon asking for our drink requests, though, she became frustrated. We suggested bringing out waters for everyone and then we would get other drinks after. She sighed heavily and said, “I mean- I don’t know if you guys have ever been servers before, but that’s just kind of hard. There are a lot of you guys.” Actually, ma’am- almost everyone at these tables has been a server.

The food and drinks were good enough and the waitress was really fine, but the night didn’t end well for her when she realized about a dozen credit cards were being used to pay for the meal. A few tears may have shed before we all got to ATM’s and figured it out a bit easier for her! Ha ha! Our first major dinner together was a bit of a mess.

The next day the crew was loading in the show and the cast went into the downtown area of Pittsfield, which was very cute, but it was rainy out so we headed to a movie and grabbed Mexican before going to the theatre. Our show that night was in the Colonial Theatre, a stunning gilded-age theatre over 100 years old. The place is jaw-dropping. It seats around 700 with two balconies, ornate carvings, painted ceilings, etc. The best part is, though, it is a state-of-the-art facility with brand new dressing rooms and backstage space. It was such an exciting night and we had a blast performing in such a remarkable venue. I only hope I am lucky enough to make it back there or perform anywhere quite like that again in my career.

To finish off the night Kevin and I met up with Tavis and his parents (who had seen the show) at a wine bar while the crew loaded out the show. His parents were so fun and kind and we look forward to seeing them on the road again sometime! That night was our first overnight travel on the bus. We are certainly spoiled with an amazing bus that is full of flat screen tv’s with DirecTV, wireless internet, individual bunks, a kitchenette, plenty of couches and lounge areas. It’s pretty awesome to be traveling in that thing! Not exactly like our family road trips growing up. (Although I must say- the Hampton clan always looked pretty slick pulling up in our maroon raised-roof van. We thought we were living the high life with that original Nintendo system, VCR, headphone jacks, and Berry Hampton at the wheel! Ha ha! My, how times have changed!)

Hope the road is looking open and smooth wherever you are in the world!



Let's Go On Tour!

After successfully completing a thorough blog backpacking Europe (see offexploring.blogspot.com) and on a 6 month cruise ship contract (see tripparoundtheworld.blogspot.com), I thought my blogging days were through. This summer I auditioned and was cast in the first national tour of “’SWonderful”, a new Gershwin musical and thought about starting up another blog. Once I got into rehearsals and saw our itinerary, though, I didn’t know if I was going to have enough time to be doing things that I cared to write about. I wasn’t sure if the experience would be interesting enough to read about.

Now I have been on the road for a month and am realizing what a mistake I made and that I have to catch up! I have already shared some incredible memories and been on numerous adventures that I know you all will want to hear about! Ha ha! So here it is: tripparoundamerica.blogspot.com. I hope you enjoy it and come back to check in and see what kind of antics my cast members and I are having.

We rehearsed for the month of September in New York City before heading out on the road. Traveling in our group is a cast of 7 plus an accompanist, company manager, tour manager, and technical director. That’s 11 total plus our bus driver, Joe. Don’t worry: you will get to meet all of these characters in future posts! We all left New York September 28 and opened our show in Kutztown, PA! We were the opening show for Kutzown University’s presenter program.

The show was so much fun and on a great campus with a crew that was always so willing to help. The facility was a really pretty, old building and we were excited to have a sold out crowd that night! They even had to set up chairs for some extra seating! Our director and choreographer came out for the opening so it was nice to have them there for support and to show us how the show would need to adjust to each and every theatre where we would perform. That night we spent some time all together to celebrate a successful opening night and getting ready to start trekking across the USA!

It was a fun night only to be topped off by a trip to a diner across the street. There was a highway to cross with a barrier so we all raced across, mostly unscathed. I will reveal, however, that Jess was completely as fortunate. Ha ha! Nothing too serious, though. Now we are on our way and living on board our incredible bus! I can’t wait to show you all the bells and whistles on this sucker! Until then…

Buckle up for the ride!