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!