Friday, January 21, 2011

Big Sky and Big Mountains

Sitting here on the bus at 1:45 am as we travel through Washington state, I am so aware of these quiet moments alone. Living and traveling on a bus 24 hours/day with 11 other people can just be a little much. While traveling on the bus overnight isn't my favorite thing, it definitely is nice to have some quite time to myself. I am generally the last one in my bunk; as the rest of the team goes to bed I stay out in the front lounge reading, updating the blog, watching tv, and being thankful. Tonight I am having so much fun reflecting on the last few days of tour. It's not an easy life by any means, but the hard work and inconveniences pay off so much with days like these. First we were in Butte, MT, which wasn't the most amazing stop in the world, considering it was rainy and gross out. We had a matinee in a really nice space, though, and then that night we were invited to Jillian's Piano Bar! One of the patrons insisted that we come to the bar to meet some folks and enjoy free food and drinks. When we explained that we may come later in the evening due to transportation, etc. they said, "Oh that's perfect because that will be right when the turkey is roasted!" Music to my ears.
Arriving at Jillian's was a treat. The bar was pretty brightly lit and we found ourselves escorted to a small private room where there were drinks set up including "Dan's Death Punch!" YIKES! The meal was great and we soon saw the pile of Broadway books on the piano. Without much coaxing necessary we found ourselves singing one song after another, taking requests, doing duets, I ended up playing piano some... it was a hoot! Everything from Kevin singing "Don't Rain on my Parade" to an "I Need a Hero" trio to Katie R. doing a Liza medley and the whole gang belting out "Seasons of Love" and "Rainbow Connection." It was a pretty fantastic night. Ha ha! The drive to Canada that night on the bus was a little rough because I wasn't feeling well, but we made pretty good time and customs was easy as well.

Vernon, British Columbia is a great little town. We were staying in a unique Best Western Lodge in town that was surrounded by great mountains and I was really pumped for the challenge of getting to do some fun winter activities! The first day in town was spent making a lot of plans, phone calls, and researching options for our full day off the following day. We did get to enjoy the Talkin Donkey coffee shop across the street and went out that night for Mexican and a movie. (I don't recommend "The Tourist." It's laughable.) The following morning I got up and called Enterprise car rental and Kevin, Tavis, and I headed there to rent a van! We had heard so much about Silver Star Mountain resort that we were determined to get the cast there! Our company manager came along for the ride and boy did we have fun! It all started with Kevin driving us up the mountain (his first time driving in snow, mind you) and getting geared up for a day at the slopes. Tavis is an awesome skier so he took off and enjoyed some really tough, but beautiful slopes for a while as the rest of us enjoyed a little meal and walking around the ADORABLE ski village they created. There were all sorts of shops and restaurants, all brightly painted, giving the resort a real Dr. Suess vibe!

Starting in the afternoon we went snow tubing down some really great hills. The combination of heights, speed, snow, and this group just was too much! We had SO MUCH FUN riding the slopes, being spun on the tubes by the Aussie workers, and going down in pairs, legs interlocked. It was hilarious and amazing. Plus- we were surrounded the entire day by INCREDIBLE views and a full moon like none I've ever seen; it was gigantic! The night continued with a great big meal, including "Prawn Night" ($.35 shrimp) and lots of stories being shared. We couldn't have asked for a better nightcap than getting to meet "Silver Fox", the mascot of the mountain, while we sat around a bonfire and enjoyed hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows. This was just what we needed. (And our rented van worked out just perfectly.)

Unfortunately Katie M. has not been feeling great, so she wasn't able to join us on the slopes and the next day was our show. I spent a lot of my day catching up on emails and reading at the Talkin Donkey before heading to the theatre for a put-in rehearsal with Jess. She went on for Katie M. that night, nailing it! What a pro! It was a great sold-out audience in a nice, new facility, so it was a real treat for all of us! I was so excited to head to Canada for the first time and the trip was everything I could have imagined. Now that I've met our nice neighbors to the North, I'm going to have to make a point of trying to get up there again soon!
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone reading along. It means a lot for me to have you reader out there! Let me know what is happening in your life. I would love to hear how this winter is treating you, if you are planning to travel anytime soon, what made you laugh today... let me know! Miss all of my family and friends so much...


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And another thing...

I want this blog to mostly be an updating and journaling tool for me to remember and cherish the moments that I have been blessed with in my life. I know how unique and incredible my life is and I realized and try desperately to not take advantage of the opportunities I've been given to see, hear, and experience beauty. I have also decided, though, that sometimes the blog needs to be not just for me. I would love to give something to you readers every once in a while! I need to report opportunitiesfor joy. I would love to hear about your experiences with joy in your day as well. What did you see today that made you smile? What did you learn today? What opened your eyes? What made you breathe a deep sigh of relief? Today- I smiled and sighed listening to Andrew Peterson. His album, Counting Stars, is one sigh after another. While it's not really about traveling, his song "World Traveler" speaks to me in such an intimate, calming way. Please read these lyrics:
So hold on tight,
I'm a world traveler Pack yours bags and dig down deep
Let's ride the storms and sail the seas
To the distant pole
I'm a world traveler
Into these uncharted lands
To blaze a trail in the vast expanse
Of the heart and soul
In the grace of the God of peace
Let's wade into the battle
Come on, come on with me
And get up in that saddle
There's a million mysteries
I never will unravel
Come on, let's travel the world.

Listen to the song HERE.
Love to all. Live rejoicing,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome Back!!!

We had a great long break from Thanksgiving-January 11. During that time I probably should have kept up the blog because I was so busy! Here's a quick update from my winter break: I had a fantastic Thanksgiving and then headed down to Florida where Laura and I took advantage of our "Give a day, get a Disney day" tickets and explored Epcot and the Magic Kingdom at the holidays. Then we rented a car and drove down to Miami to catch up with great friends, Betsy and Lance Thomas, who hosted us and took us to amazing meals, their school, and even airboat riding! What a treat! Back in Kentucky, I spent time in NKY setting pieces on the dance and musical theatre troupes at NKU while rehearsing and performing Awaited at Crossroads. This has become a great Christmas tradition to look forward to each year! Christmas was spent at my grandmother's and the annual New Year's Eve EVE party was a blast! Then I headed down to Greenwood, SC to meet my new nephew, beautiful baby Jonah Phillips! He is such an angel and I couldn't be a more proud uncle!

Tour started back up on January 11th and, of course, there were snow storms all over the country to dodge, leaving us sitting in Chicago for 8 hours that day trying to fly to Boise, ID! Ha! It all worked out, though, and we got to Nampa, ID with a new bus and bus driver, but the same great cast and crew ready to go for another leg of tour. Nampa was a nice little place to launch the tour with a great crew that really took care of us, provided quite a few meals, a nice hotel, etc. We did end up eating a lot of Subway and McD's (they were the only things by our hotel), but besides that the cast is really making an effort to eat healthily and make sure we are hitting the gym a lot. Being on the road and moving from one hotel to another to a bus... it's so vital to keep our bodies ready for anything! It was great to just all come together, knowing we had a lot of work to get the show ready. We started on such a positive, all-in kind of note that really made the process that much better. Rehearsals went so well we even had time to have a full swing put-in to get Tavis and Jess prepared for going in at any moment! They have been such troopers, going above and beyond the call of duty on tour to make everything run so well. Over the next 2 days we worked our tails off to have a really wonderful, smooth opening to the 2011 leg of the tour!
Following our opening we got all loaded up onto the bus to travel to Idaho Falls through some of the beautiful mountains of Idaho. It is such a unique landscape here and we all found ourselves shouting, "Look over there!" throughout the ride. We also began our viewing of season 1 of "Friday Night Lights" (one of the best shows ever in my opinion), before arriving at our extended stay Candlewood Suites! Not having spent any time out in this part of the country, I didn't know what to expect, but the people have been so gracious and kind, always going so far to make us feel welcome and comfortable. At the Candlewood Suites, for instance, we were invited to check out DVD's and use the kitchens in the room. Since that opportunity doesn't arrive often, the cast took full advantage by deciding to have a family dinner. The front desk worker even took the girls to the grocery to by all the food we needed while a few of us stayed back and went to the gym! That night was so fun as Tavis, Kevin, and I all prepared a full Mexican spread with homemade guacamole and fajitas and the cast played a long game of Celebrity (a favorite) and watched a late movie. It was so nice to feel like we were right back in this strange thing called tour, especially with some of our best friends all around us. What a joy.
The day of the show turned out to be a really fun time in Idaho Falls. Tavis and I kind of stuck together for the majority of the day. We began by walking over a bridge crossing the frozen Snake River to a local coffee shop called Bella Vita to catch up on some things. Then we found out there was a rock climbing gym right by where we were staying so we decided to venture out and try out climbing. It was such an interesting little hole-in-the-wall place and we were so lucky to find it! We had a blast climbing every wall, but the toughest one in the place. It's always good to make a workout be something challenging, fun, and active. From there we ended up meeting Kevin at the Idaho Brewing Co., a local, small brewery where we shared a tasting tray of beers. We love having "guy time" and just getting out to explore and do our own thing every once in a while. Before the show I also caught up on my Disney movies by watching "Princess and the Frog" (I totally recommend it ). We performed that night at the Colonial Theatre, a vaudeville theatre that had a really unique proscenium and Jess got to go on for the first time, performing for a sick Kim that night. We had a quick put-in rehearsal to get everyone on the same page and feeling good about everything before starting the show and watching her really do some excellent work! We are lucky to have such hard working swings with us! The west is really treating us well!

Hope the sun is shining brightly in your world,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Finishing Up the Leg

Our stop in Schaumberg, IL was very fast, but we took advantage of all the amenities around us. Being near Chicago, Schaumberg had many things we hadn’t gotten to be around for a while. We were right by a HUGE mall, but our main goal was to see the new Harry Potter movie that had just come out. It was a little walk, but along the way we stopped for lunch at Whole Foods! It’s little things like this that get us excited. The movie was great and those of us who went ended up meeting at the large mall to enjoy dinner at Cheesecake Factory before our call for the show. After the show we headed back to the hotel, but had to travel overnight. Since we had stayed in a Doubletree we made sure to take advantage of their famous cookies on our way out! Ha ha!

The next day we were in a St. Louis suburb called Florrisant, MO. We decided to try and get to St. Louis to experience the City Museum, which we had heard so much about! Tavis led the way in figuring out cheap, but feasible transportation there, so we got up early to ride a bus, train, and then walk to the City Museum. Boy was it worth the hassle! This place was insane. It’s basically a whole building of crazy jungle gyms that go from floor to ceiling through sculptures and hollowed-out tree trunks. There are also different exhibits to see and experience like the 10-story spiraling slide and the human-sized hamster wheel! On the roof of the building there are even more slides, a ferris wheel, and a bus hanging over the edge… it’s hard to explain. Ha! Needless to say we quickly became children and crawled around EVERYWHERE, trying to find as many nooks and crannies as we possibly could. SO FUN. Our show that night was good and I was glad to have some family in the audience. Now, being live theatre, of course, there are so many funny stories and things that happen. At this show for instance, we had a costume malfunction when Katie Mitchell’s skirt came undone. We continued through choreography and song after song, trying our best to keep it up until she was able to get offstage and into some safety pins! Ha! It was hilarious. I’ve also, of course, choked on hair in romantic ballads, entered early ALONE onstage, and slipped on wing curtains when trying to be a smooth, sexy sailor…so who am I to talk?! Overall we have been lucky to have a smooth run and look forward to many more great shows on the second leg!

Our last show was in Palos Hills, again outside Chicago. We had to laugh to ourselves when we got to our last hotel (where we wouldn’t even be staying the night) to find beautiful suites, tons of restaurants within walking distance, etc. We made sure our bags were packed and I even had to leave the show RIGHT AWAY to catch my flight home. It was truly a unique experience and a really good first leg of tour, but I was THRILLED to be home for the holidays. Looking forward to lots of fun activities and visiting with family and friends, I said goodbye to the cast and was on my way!

Caught up…see you soon,


Monday, January 10, 2011

Rain and KENTUCKY!!!

There's not a lot to report on Chippewa Falls, WI, but we arrived in the rain to our hotel where we saw a really cool pool area with a slide and hot tubs and things. We also saw children. Pre-teens to be exact. Hundreds of them. They had taken over our hotel in Chippewa Falls and there was nothing we could do about it. There was some sort of tournament going on in town and this was the place to be. Between the kids everywhere and the rain...most of our time in Chippewa was spent enjoying our hotel rooms and ordering in food. Ha ha! Our shows were...very interesting, to say the least. We arrived to find a stage maybe a quarter of the size necessary for our show. Set pieces were gone, there were no wings, and our dressing rooms were built by our own company manager out of prop walls and refrigerator boxes in the basement of the building. This was clearly going to be an experience. As dance captain it was my responsibility to get the show set and make decisions on how it would run and I must say, we all worked hard together to give two really strong shows with very few moments of panic. Ha ha!
We were all excited to leave WI because that meant we would be heading to Bowling Green, KY where I had family and friends coming and where Katie Mitchell is from! As soon as we arrived the whole 'S Wonderful clan headed to the Mitchell home fAZING home-cooked meal of lasagna and a great bonfire and s'mores! There was also plenty of laughter over music, pool, childhood pictures of Katie, etc. The cast ended the night with a couple mean games of Scattegories and Twister (which I beat out Katie R. in) and a late viewing of "Love Actually". It was such a blessing to get to be in a HOME and have parents for a night!

The next day I made it to a local gym for a workout before meeting the cast for dinner downtown and heading to the theatre. The Capitol Theatre was another old movie house with a cool marquee and it was so fun to have so many people surprise me and come to see the show! I had friends and family from all over, some who I haven't seen in years! What a great night.

After Bowling Green the bus took us to Paducah where we enjoyed the mall for part of the day before me and Tavis trekked to find a gym. I had found one on googlemaps and called to see the cost and we began our walk. Upon arrival to the area where it should have been, though...no gym. I couldn't figure it out. Finally I called them and described my location. "Oh just keep going! You will be here in about 5 minutes. You're just a few miles away!" People never realize we are on foot. I learned to never trust google maps, though. Ha ha! We gave up on that journey, but had a big dinner that night. The cast really likes to have big group meals with each other to spend lots of time talking and laughing over food. Olive Garden was the choice this night and things were no different. I am blessed to have a group of friends and colleagues that I love and trust so much. Excited to see them all soon!

Getting there,

All Over Wisconsin and A Stop in Minnesota

Kenosha, WI was another stop that became a favorite spot along our way. It was a lakeside community sitting right on Lake Michigan. We had a great hotel on the water and could tell the town was really fun. Like a said in previous posts, we were lucky to have super-warm weather so we spent a lot of time outside. Our hotel was teamed up with the Anytime Fitness in town which meant that we had a FULL GYM at our disposal finally! I headed out the first day there to workout along the water with the girls. They had intense leg workouts and we did a short run and abs...it was good. Toward the end of the workout most of the girls headed back while Katie and I continued running further along the waterfront until we started hitting mansions. We are talking legitimate HUGE houses that sat right on the lake. It was awesome to see how people up there were living and some of the cool architecture of the homes as we were able to walk around more and talk. That evening we went to Villa d'Carlo, an Italian restaurant that was HEAVILY decorated for Halloween still. We had a great meal and discovered that this place is in a constant state of decoration, whatever it may be for. It was super fun and we always enjoy each other's company.
The next day in Kenosha I headed back to the gym and then had lunch with the boys at a cafe in town. Finally Tavis and I went for a walk to find Lou's Barbershop, where we were planning on getting straight-razor shaves. This has become one of my favorite ways to just relax and sort of pamper myself in the manliest way possible. Ha ha!!! Lou's was awesome. We sat around with the old men in town who were just chilling out to talk and hear stories, etc. We also enjoyed the Kenosha Natural History Museum where Tavis and I learned all about wooly mammoths and their history in this area. I was so impressed with little Kenosha! When we went back we met up with one of Katie Reid's friends who came to town and then to the theatre where we had a good show. One thing on tour that is always interesting is to see the different theatres around the country. This one, for instance was covered in nice wood panelling and had to small balconies on either side of a thrust stage. There was a pulpit-type platform in the center booth for our stage manager...just kind of bizarre in a great way!
Whitewater, WI was a fairly uneventful place since we were only there for a day. It was nice out, though, and I had a good day with the guys going to the gym, walking all around town and seeing the Victorian houses and enjoying lunch at Jessica's diner. Later in the afternoon me and Tavis took a short run through town to Trippe Lake (yup...that's the actual name) before the show that night on a college campus.
A few of the cast members had been looking forward to Grand Rapids, MN for a while because of one reason: Judy Garland. This was the birthplace of the singer, one of the icons of popular and theatre music and one of the greatest movie stars of our time! Our hotel again had a membership to Anytime Fitness, which we took advantage of, and our first day we headed to Target and to see "Morning Glory" at the movie theatre across the street! Dinner was at the Sawmill Inn Restaurant, which we couldn't possibly pass up when we saw the giant spinning blade made out of neon lights! Ha!
The next day we went to the Judy Garland Museum right next door to our hotel. It was fascinating to walk through Garland's career and see so much footage of performance and so many artifacts. After learning so much more about her, we continued into the home where she was born and walked around some. At the end of the tour in a different part of the museum is the doll museum where we spent approximately 3.8 minutes before turning around. We had a show to do, though. When we were waiting for our transportation, they were running late... surprise. Suddenly a small bus pulls up and we check to make sure he was there for us, which he was. We became slightly concerned when the bus continued its route to pick up another passenger and we learned that this was a city bus. The car company had messed up and ended up having to get the city bus system to stall everything and come pick us up to get to the theatre! Oh my word.

Getting caught up,

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chateaus and Michigan Expectations

I'll admit that when looking over the itinerary for our tour Muskegon, MI did not stand out as a stop I was particularly excited for. Not that I was upset about it, but I have never heard amazing things about Michigan and Muskegon didn't sound like the most amazing place in the world. Talk about a surprise! My low expectations were turned upside down by this quaint town. We arrived to the town on Lake Muskegon and quickly realized our nice Holiday Inn was right across the street from the Frauenthal Theatre where we would be performing the following day. We got settled in and I took the bus bike for a ride all around the lake, enjoying views of the sun setting and the brisk, but unseasonably warm air. It was so good to be out by the water. We took advantage of the hotel's gym, sauna, and steam room, plus Tavis and I went swimming in the pool. It's always nice to be able to get ourselves feeling rested and back in fighting shape!

That night we had asked around and done some research to find the Waterfront Grille at a neighboring hotel that sat on the lake. We walked in and felt transported! It was so warm, very contemporary and upscale feeling. With a couple drinks we sat down for hours and just bonded again as a cast, enjoying fresh fish and amazing food all night! After dinner we walked around a bit more, marked our territory on Muskegon Lake and almost threw Kevin in as a souvenir! Ha! We ended the night goofing off in the hotel, telling stories, laughing, and dancing...as usual.
The next day we went for brunch to a fantastic restaurant with all made-from-scratch, organic ingredients called Mia and Gracie's. From the over-the-top duck confit peanut butter and jelly sandwich to the desserts and my sausage and egg sandwich...we were over the moon! Who would have imagined that two of our best meals on tour would have been in MUSKEGON, MI!?!? The town happened to have some really cute museums on the history of the town and an art gallery or two that Tavis and I explored...until it started to rain. It was a GREAT TOWN, though, and such a sweet surprise for us. That night's show was really special. It was the 80th Anniversary celebration of the theatre and as a gift to the community, the sponsors of the show paid for EVERY TICKET so that the whole town could come see the show! It was so cool because it was a 1,300-seat house and was JAM PACKED with people who may never have seen a show before! Not to mention it was the most beautiful theatre I may have ever been in. I had an incredible night; one of those experiences where you take a step back and realize where you are and what you are privileged to be doing every night. Wow.

*Notice the size of the GRAND piano in the pic above... the Frauenthal was a MAMMOTH theatre!

We were truly sad to say goodbye to Muskegon, but headed to Bloomington, IL where we stayed in a hotel called "The Chateau." It was a super-kitschy, but fantastically themed spot covered in antiques and turrets and tudor-style moldings... in Illinois. We got workouts and wings in and the day of the show me and Tavis went to find a barber for a much-needed haircut. We found the "Oldtime Barbershop" in some elderly man's living room and made ourselves at home. When asked what we would like we said, "Well we are doing a show and it needs to be something classic that covers everything from the '30s-60s" and the man was thrilled and said, "Well that's about all I know how to do, so that's great!" Ha ha! It was a really beautiful facility to be in, just recently renovated, and it was a great crowd. Our director, Ray Roderick, actually grew up in Bloomington so his parents were there doing a talkback with the crowd to warm them up and then we got to meet them afterward. It was a fun evening, concluded by pizza from Lucca's.
Our next stop was Clinton Township, MI where we ate at Champps the night we arrived. The show there went pretty well, but was somewhat stressful because the taxis were super late picking us up and had no clue where we were going. Transportation is one thing that is always somewhat questionable on tour, it seems. It's always fun to see what characters you meet along the way and in each theatre. Every house has their own way of running things, you know? Well in Clinton Township there is a woman that is just called "Mom" that takes care of all the crew, actors, etc. She is somewhat of an institution in the theatre, reigning over the green room like... like a....well... like a mom!
We were also staying in a Courtyard Marriott (that was quite disappointing) that happened to be in a development adjacent to a Dave & Buster's. Now- if you don't know what D&B's is...think Chuck e Cheese for adults. It has a restaurant, bar, and TONS of arcade games. I happened to have been given a gift card there, but it was broken in 3 pieces in my wallet. When we decided to go, though, I prayed it may work...and it did! I ended up being able to buy everyone games the whole night and played tons of bowling, basketball, racing games, alien killers and guitar hero! We came out with quite the loot of cheap gear to play with on the bus. SOUVIES!!! Ha ha! After D&B's we were so hungry so we wandered to the only restaurant open (after begging McDonalds to let us walk through the drive-through), which was called National Coney Island. It was our first experience there and I tried a new food for me. It was some sort of chicken wrap they referred to as a hani. Nothing special, but interesting none the less! Michigan- you treated us well and I must say...I'm looking forward to returning!

Until then...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Halloween and Coming Home!!!

Our Halloween weekend we were heading toward Kentucky for a show in Hopkinsville, but we had to stop along the way. When our company manager planned for a stop in Knoxville we found out that the cast of "Legally Blonde" was going to be performing in Knoxville at the same time! We were so excited because all of us have friends on that tour, including my great friend, Caroline Cuseo. We got in contact with home offices in New York for both of our tours and worked out getting tickets to see their show! We all got dressed up and went to dinner before seeing the show. They seriously knocked it out of the park! What a fun show... we had a blast. To celebrate Halloween weekend after the show, the two casts went out into Knoxville and danced and partied into the wee hours of the night. It was so good to be able to see so many friends and make many new friends. They are a great group of people and are working hard to put on consistent, exciting shows!

Next we finally headed to Kentucky, which was so exciting because it was the first time I would be seeing a lot of friends and family from home. The night we got there we went to see Paranormal Activity 2 (unimpressed) for the scary weekend and just hung around the hotel. The next day I was waiting in Starbucks when Mom and Dad came and picked me up. It was SO GOOD to see them and such a relief to get some time with them to just vent and catch up and be loved on. What a blessing they are to me. The show was in an old movie house that was a really unique space and had some crazy passages and staircases backstage. It was especially fun to see NKU friends Kay, Derek, and Montez. They drove so far and sat in the front row having a BLAST! It made the show so much fun!!! I also got to perform for a lot of extended family members who came down. After the show Kay, Der, and Monty stayed for a bit and we all hung out at Applebees. The cast LOVED them and we had a really fun night and my friends had to drive back SO LATE, but I was super-excited to have them.

After that we began our long drive up to the Great Lakes region, including a stop in Terre Haute, IN, where we had performed a few weeks earlier. We had hibachi one night and hung out in the little mall by our familiar Holiday Inn hotel. Then we headed off to go North!

Hope you are all keeping up!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Supply, NC and Bristol, TN/VA

When our bus pulled up to Supply, NC we knew that we were the closest to the Atlantic Ocean that we would be coming, so we decided as a whole company to head to a seafood restaurant for dinner. Our bus driver, Joe, being AMAZING, decided to drive us to the beach afterward even though it was late into the night. We had fun running around and getting sand between our toes for a few minutes in the pitch black and drizzling rain before heading to the hotel. The next morning we quickly realized that we may be in trouble. Our hotel was sitting on a large road (a by-pass of sorts) all alone. There were no restaurants around, nothing. Our best friend on tour, googlemaps, did show that about 2 miles away there was an area with a couple fast food places and something called "Starz Planet Fun Centre." Score.
It became my goal to trek down the 4-lane highway to this Planet Fun Centre so i gathered most of the cast (Kevin was lame and stayed in the room, Katie M was with friends on the beach) and began our journey. We walked out of the hotel to find a wire fence, but there was a section knocked down that we climbed over. Then we jumped over a ditch and across the 4 lanes of traffic and large median. After a long walk through sweltering heat we passed a swamp and walked up a large exit ramp. From there we continued through high grass and across all sorts of parking lots to find the gleaming Planet Fun Centre. It seriously lived up to its name, too, I must say! We ate she-crab soup, shrimp po-boys and flat bread pizzas at the Starz Grille restaurant that was AWESOME and then we bowled two games and played in the arcade area until it was time to head back to the hotel. (The trek back was just as epic.) Our show that night was really full, which is always good, but we had a little scare beforehand when, in a swing rehearsal, Kim rolled her ankle. She was a real trooper and wrapped her ankle and performed really safely on it. Good stop in Supply.

Next we headed to Bristol, TN/VA. The city sits on the border of the two states so we were confused and fairly concerned when we saw we were performing in one state and staying in another. Ha ha! We had a nice time there, though. While the girls had a spa night (including Kevin), me and Tavis had guys night at Ruby Tuesdays and then the hotel bar with our stage and company managers. The next day was spent in the bowling alley with our bus driver who used to be a competitive bowler. It was really cool to see him in his element and fun to play with someone who actually knows what they're doing! That evening we headed into town where we performed in a really cool old movie house. It's always fun to be able to perform in theatres that are so pretty and have such history to them. The town's main street straddles the state line so we made sure to get plenty of pictures of that before heading back to the bus. Once we got there, however, we had a big surprise when we found the girls had thrown us a party! There were all sorts of snacks and cider and we watched a movie as we made our way down the road.
From there we had a quick stop in Rocky Mount, NC. We actually ended up eating at a Cracker Barrel, exposing a few of the cast members to this southern staple for the FIRST TIME! Can you believe that?! Overall it was a fairly uneventful evening besides all the guys in the company ending up out on the bus hanging out late that night.

Hope all is well,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where in the world are we?!?!

We headed back to North Carolina and the college town of Culowhee. The day we arrived I decided to get out and enjoy the perfect autumn weather and vibrant colors in the mountains. I went for a walk/run up the hill where we are were and met Tavis on the way back down. I happened to wander off up a driveway where I ran into multiple large, mean, athletic-looking dogs that started growling. When I turned to calmly walk back in the other direction I realized that I was about to be chased. I couldn't believe when I realized that I was literally running as fast as I possibly could down a hill and jumping over a car to avoid these rabid dogs! Ha ha! Seriously- I thought I was for sure going to be bitten, but I avoided it. We enjoyed the hotel pool for a bit and went to the theatre. It was a great space at Western Carolina University, where my friends Amanda Kouri and Tyler McKenzie attend school for theatre. We were the opening show for their season so there was a huge party beforehand and the soldout crowd was very excited for the show. Talk about a great audience; we had a BLAST! Afterward we went out with friends from WCU to O'Malleys where we laughed and ate tons of wings into the night.

From there we headed to West Virginia's capitol city, Charleston. It was a pretty good stop, I guess, but there were definitely a few frustrating moments. Okay- overall...Charleston was frustrating. When we arrived the cast decided to go out for dinner and as we were walking around the mall I decided to stop and ask someone working behind the counter, "Excuse me- do you know of a good, local restaurant within walking distance?" I proceeded to get directions to Outback Steakhouse. "Do you know of anywhere LOCALLY OWNED, though?" I inquired further and her response was, "Well no, but Outback has these great cheese fries." After a few seconds of description I cut her off, "I have been to Outback!", and walked away extremely frustrated and unsuccessful.

We ate at Outback.

The next day we had a matinee in a HUGE theatre. It was gigantic and at one time held all the big tours, but at this point it seems this facility is not used much and doesn't have near the resources it should have for tours. Our piano hadn't been tuned so we were all running a bit late when sound check rolled around. Now- on any given show day we do a soundcheck around an hour before the show. It usually consists of our sound guy and the cast going through each performer and singing before doing a group number and then calling it a day and the cast proceeds to the dressing rooms to continue getting prepared for the show. On this day we head down to the stage and begin our soundcheck. Girls are in curlers, tights and little shorts, no makeup, I am in a tank, hair isn't done. We are a mess. Suddenly the back doors open and people begin filing into the theatre, taking seats all the way at the front of the audience. They aren't ushers....

Puzzled by the situation, we all look around to find our stage manager, but our pianist and sound guy continue going. We start to become embarrassed; these people are just sitting there watching our whole sound check. This is not right! Our stage manager finally shows up and heads to the back of the theatre to shut doors and talk to the house manager. He isn't there soon enough, though. What happens next is the most insane thing I've ever experienced as an actor. The audience begins to shout to us. "TOO LOUD!!!"

You've got to be kidding me.

We are singing our little hearts out while the sound is all being adjusted. It's at a certain volume for soundcheck only, but that doesn't seem to matter to these patrons. "TURN IT DOWN!!!" "IT'S TOO LOUD!!!" What are we supposed to do? There are these poor girls already mortified to have audience members out there. I am getting furious. We don't know what to do. Finally the check is over and I head up to my dressing room where. I take off my shoes and begin to get ready when I realize: there is SAND on the floor. Not just a few grains of sand... lots and lots of sand is covering the dressing room floor. Its all in my shoes and socks. I'm just so confused at this point. I can't even be bothered to get a crew member to help, so I find a broom and dustpan and get the place cleaned up. We do the show for some of Katie Mitchell's friends and it did go fine. I just couldn't get over that! We finished off our time in Charleston walking around town to find nothing open since it was a Sunday, so we headed out and got ice cream at Maggie Moo's. (This was also an interesting experience since I had a huge hair in my ice cream. I ended up getting my money back.)

I was glad to head out of West Virginia by the end of our time there! Ha ha!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sweet Carolin(a)

One fun thing about tour is never knowing what to expect. We have no clue what we are getting ourselves into 99% of the time as we pull up to our hotel in who-knows-where, USA. When we arrived in Newberry, SC none of us expected the charming Hampton Inn sitting across from the historic Newberry Opera House where we would be performing 4 shows in 2 days. The buildings sat along a quaint square surrounded by cute little buildings and brick sidewalks. Just a great little setup and a quiet, lazy town. The stage we performed on was TINY, so we had to make some adjustments, but it was a really unique and beautiful space to be in for those shows. Our first day there, though, we had no performances so the 3 boys decided to head out (on a Sunday afternoon) and see what we could find around town. Of course.... it was deserted. Not a shop open in sight, nor a restaurant alive. After asking our adorable front desk lady, we were sent to the Blue Moon Sports Bar, a "private club" in town that would be open. We ended up heading over and finding a nice local tavern where we sat around and had wings and, more importantly, met Nici.
Nici was the owner of Blue Moon and we started asking her questions about town. She was hilarious, telling us her story of settling down in Newberry and she went down the line of every single restaurant and bar in town warning us of steep prices, great chefs, and even a place where we should make sure to check our receipts! Ha ha! She sure didn't hold back and we loved every second of it. That night we decided as a cast we would order Chinese. After calling around, though, we found NO ONE that would deliver. Lamenting to the front desk worker, she insisted that we should call and make an order and that she could take us to pick it up! I couldn't believe how sweet she was, but she said it was not a problem at all. Once it was time to pick up our food I cam down and she directed me to Miss Betty, a friend who would drive the other girl's car with us to the restaurant. We hopped in and within 30 seconds I realized that Miss Betty didn't know how to drive a stick shift and we had stalled the car... twice. I volunteered to drive. I couldn't believe that I was finding myself driving Miss Betty in a stranger's car through Newberry, SC to find food! We had a good time, though, as she gave me the grand tour!

The next day I wandered around town and headed to the theatre where I was pleased to find Miss Betty working on our crew! We had a good show and in between the local ladies in town made us dinner. Such a treat! We also celebrated Katie Mitchell's birthday with a cookie cake and silly string! That night's show was interesting as I tossed a prop across the stage and hit my leading lady in the middle of a dance number! Woops! LIVE THEATRE!!! The next day I ended up having lunch at a great little pizza place before getting to the theatre where we did two more shows. While getting ready for the show in our dressing room Kevin and I heard quite an uproar as the girls got into a HUGE fight in the room next door. All of a sudden Jess stormed out and slammed the door and we jumped into clothes and over next door to see what in the world had happened! The girls just broke into laughter at us. They had staged the whole thing and died laughing seeing us run in so eager to see what could have happened. Ha ha! In between shows we had a FANTASTIC meal recommended to us by Nici at Delamater's a spot right next door to the Opera House where a young chef has really made his mark! Our tummies were sooooo happy for that last show where my sister, Taylor, and her husband, Jay got to come! It was so good to see her and her growing baby bump. We ended our time in Newberry at the Blue Moon celebrating with Katie and then at Pour Richards, a pub where we met the chef from Delamater's! What a treat to get to talk with such a talented guy, Brandon, and his theatre-loving girlfriend, Chris. Overall, such a great stop in Newberry and a great place to have a couple days to explore and get to know town.
On our way to Valdosta, GA our bus got pulled over for speeding, but charmer Joe was able to talk us right out of a ticket. Ha! Once at our hotel I was able to catch up on laundry and we hung out by the outdoor pool since it was SO WARM. I even ended up jumping in with my clothes on at one point! Ha ha! We stayed in the Super 8, but ate at the next door Holiday Inn and then hung out on the bus that night. To get geared up for Halloween we enjoyed a bus viewing of the classic "Hocus Pocus" followed by some fun games. As a cast we love getting to know each other more and more. We played a game of truths and celebrity and laughed. A lot.
The following day we moved next door to the Holiday Inn (because of a flea problem at the Super 8) and while there Tavis led us in an outdoor workout that kicked our butts. We headed to the theatre, which was turquoise. Everything was turquoise. It was amazing. This huge place... all turquoise. The show was good and fun because we had Shirley and Gene in the house one last time, plus a friend of Katie M's. Valdosta treated us well, but it was time to head out.

Getting along our way....

Heading to the Carolinas

After a few days off we made our way to Aiken, SC. We pulled up to our hotel which was a Quality Inn and me and Tavis headed to our room. Upon arriving and jumping on the beds for a few minutes (a regular ritual) I headed into the bathroom to find the mother-load. A mecca of sorts.


Not just any old jacuzzi, though. This thing was HUGE and had mirrors along the back wall! ha ha! I obviously was thrilled with this discovery and after testing the jets out I decided we would have to show the rest of the cast that evening. As mentioned in the previous blog, Katie Reid's grandparents, Shirley and Gene, were following along with us for a few days so that night we went to a little Mexican restaurant across the street for dinner. There was outdoor seating and we took a big table and were having a fun night, laughing, enjoying tacos, Dos Equis, margaritas, enchiladas and lots of stories. I quickly became annoyed, though, when a couple across the room started glaring. The large woman who was eating kept rolling her eyes and then began obviously talking about us. At one point she said to her date, exaggerating and loudly, "If only I could hear you!!..." I sort of flipped. I asked her if there was a problem and she said there was. We went back and forth for a minute until I stopped to not embarrass myself or my table, but I couldn't believe it! We were outdoors and having fun! She was so unhappy about it I didn't understand. It's all ok, though, because when everything settled down adorable Shirley backed me up saying, "I am glad you said something. Besides, it didnt' look like they were having a very intimate meal the way she was scarfing down her food!" Ha ha! Made my night.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel where I told everyone I had a surprise for them in my room. Everyone came over for a viewing of the jacuzzi tub and then ran off to get bathing suits. At one point we got 5 people in that tub just to say we did it! Ha ha! I must say it wasn't the most relaxing or comfortable thing in the world, but it was hilarious. Our show went well in Aiken and the theatre threw us a really nice reception where we got to mingle with some of the patrons after the show. Events like that are so nice because it really affirms the work we are doing day in and day out and lets us know that people care.

Next venue: Asheville, NC. I had been to Asheville and when I worked at Flat Rock Playhouse I got to know that part of the country pretty well and so I was looking very forward to this stop. We arrived around 3:00 am at our hotel which was a BEAUTIFUL high-end place with amazing rooms. Plus- we had individual rooms and an overnight there so we were PUMPED! When I woke up in the morning I headed out to walk around town with Katie Reid and after going in some shops we decided to head into Posano, a cute organic brunch spot where Kevin met up with us. Having two shows that day, we headed to the theatre which was really nice. Between shows a great Southern spot called Mayfels was our dinner and then... back to the theatre!
After a couple great shows we decided it was time for some fun so we went right down the block to a spot I knew of called Barley's and once everyone got out of the theatre we walked around to find some music and dancing. It was a BLAST, especially since we were in such a great town that was so full of life. From run-ins with upset drag queens to dancing the night away and marking our territory on the streets of Asheville, it was a successful night. After it all we went back to our beautiful hotel and hung out in my room for a while longer. I am glad to be on the road with so many people that I love and who are ready to have fun!

See you on the road,

Monday, January 3, 2011

Days off in Nashvegas and Hotlanta!

After our time in Terre Haute we were all pretty excited because we had 4 days off! Our company manager decided to have us stop in Nashville for a couple days and then Atlanta for a day before heading to our next destination in South Carolina! When we arrived in Nashville I immediately called my high school friend, Erin Manning. I rarely get to see Erin, but she is SUPER TALENTED (check her out on itunes) and one of the funniest people I know. Erin went to school at Belmont in Nashville and has lived there now for about 5 years. After taking the hotel shuttle downtown and walking around a bit me, Tavis, and Kim all were picked up by Erin for dinner! We got a nice little tour around town before stopping for dinner at Jackson's, a really fun and unique place. We continued our guided tour before returning to the hotel that night.
The next day was our big day out in Nashville! We started off with a walking tour around downtown led by our very own Tavis Doucette. He had a guide that took us to all sorts of historic sites, government buildings, famous honky tonks, etc. We had lunch at a "meat and three", a traditional cafeteria-style restaurant where you choose one meat and 3 sides and then decided to get out of the rain by making a trek out of town to..... THE GRAND OLE OPRY!!! We piled ourselves into one cab for the ride and took a tour that showed us all over backstage, in the dressing rooms, and onto the famous circle stage. It was fascinating to also hear about the recent flooding and renovations done to the building, but a major highlight was watching our cast member, Katie Reid, step up and sing the National Anthem front and center for all the tourists to hear! It was a really cool moment and we had a lot of fun.

Heading back downtown for the night, we had some GREAT BBQ for dinner and then went to the Flying Saucer. My friend met us at this world-famous bar that has a wall of over 200 draught beers. It also just happened to be trivia night and with our great and diverse group, we won 3rd place!!! From there we knew we had to get out to a honky tonk even though it was only a Tuesday night. We went to Tootsie's where there was a great band playing and we staked out our spot right at the front of the stage. Within two songs our lovely ladies were pulled up on stage to dance with the singer and we continued dancing the night away before heading out of town in the morning!

On our way to Atlanta we picked up Katie Mitchell, who had spent time with her family nearby in Bowling Green, KY. On the bus we had a harvest party where Dad's pot roast and cornbread and watched "When Harry Met Sally." Once in Atlanta we had the great pleasure of meeting Katie Reid's grandparents, Shirley and Gene, who came to visit and be our groupies for a few days, following us along the road to see the show. We had the perfect quintessential Southern meal at Mary Mac's Tea Room (highly recommended) where they had everything from corn muffins and cinnamon rolls as pre-dinner rolls, to fried okra, pot likker, grits, andfried green tomatoes! I was obviously in heaven. I have quickly earned the nickname on tour of "Two-Tummy-Tripp", so any big meal that we have becomes a joke when I order way more than everyone else. Ha ha! That night we met up with some of Katie Mitchell's friends in town for a bit before calling it a night.

Love ya all!

Clyde, OH/ Terre Haute, IN

When we arrived in Clyde, OH we had one mission: get to Sandusky, OH and Cedarpoint amusement park. If you haven't heard of Cedarpoint, you should know that it is the roller coaster capitol of the world and sort of a mecca for roller coaster enthusiasts. Quite a few of us on tour REALLY wanted to get there and play in the park, especially since it was around Halloween and they had all sorts of haunted houses and things happening as well! We were able to get there thanks to our GREAT bus driver who was ready for fun and our company manager who okayed this whole endeavor. What a fun night! I have never been on rides like some of these coasters. If you want some crazy rides...make your way up to Sandusky!
The next day was interesting because we had our show in Clyde. It happened to be at Clyde High School... It was a really nice facility for a high school, but just not what we were ready to face. Our management team had to deal with one obstacle after another starting with a challenging space, losing power in the building, not being able to find working lights... it was interesting to say the least. I had to laugh when, for the blackout at the end of Act I our ASM ran around the stage to flip the work lights off onstage that had been providing a lot of light for us since there weren't many good working stage lights. ha ha! All in all, though, it was a good come-together sort of moment for our whole company and we made it work. Clyde turned out to be a really fun stop and we thoroughly enjoyed staying at the Red Roof Inn across the street from a GREAT farmer's market where we stocked up on some small pumpkins for the bus, homemade cookies, popcorn balls, and fall treats to get us in the Halloween spirit!
I was really excited for our next stop, Terre Haute, because it was the first place on tour that my parents were going to be able to come to see the show! Being amazing as they are, they ended up bringing me all sorts of goodies like clothes I had forgotten to bring, a roast for the bus, coffee cake... all Hampton signature dishes! Ha ha! We performed in a really nice space and the show was good for Donna and Berry. The dressing rooms were sort of interesting at this theatre, though, because it was just one big room with a curtain across the middle. Needless to say, we had lots of fun shouting to one another before the show. Afterward I went out to dinner with my parents and said goodbye before heading back to the hotel. The cast went out for dinner so I went along to hang out. We happened to have a really sweet waitress in high school who loved performing. She was so sweet and got a great big tip from us after we overheard other customers being HORRIBLE to her. Seriously, people- servers are really doing their best to make you happy. Don't be mean! That night we enjoyed the Holiday Inn's hot tub where we met some flee market shoppers who had made big purchases that they were truly PUMPED about: lots of t-shirts, tie-dye, etc. I was thoroughly impressed... yup...

Moving on down the road,