Our first week back was in Nashville, TN. Since it was so close to home I was able to have my car, which was such a treat. I felt like I could really get around and see friends, eat at great restaurants, etc., even with some pretty nasty weather. The week was spent drinking vats of sweet tea, fried green tomatoes, cheese grits, and biscuits. Haha! I made sure to take a group out to the Grand Ole Opry where we did a backstage tour and had fun exploring. More than anything, though, just going aroudn the grounds of the resort was so interesting. That hotel is CRAZY! Around every turn even I was blown away, having been there before, to see ANOTHER giant atrium, indoor waterfall or giant tree!
We also spent some time at a trendy area with some great restaurants in East Nashville. I LOVED Noshville, Fido, and a Frech cafe place. Broadway is always fun downtown, too. I had a really fun night meeting up with my elementary school friend, Ashley Herod. We literally hadn't seen each other since 6th grade, but had so much fun catching up in a honky tonk and she was so generous to come see the show with her family. Then Katie Reid and I were SO excited because our 'S Wonderful friend, Katie Mitchell came to see us, also! We had a great night going to a couple honky tonks and dancing with her. Seeing any of the cast from that show is just special. We can catch up right where we left off like it's only been hours since we've last talked. The highlight of my tie in Nashville had to have been my family coming to visit! Berry, Donna, GG and Grandaddy, Debbie, and Paul all trekked down to see the show. It was an incredibly special time. We ate a Puckett's Grocery and stayed up late after the show chatting. In the morning before they left we had a great brunch at Fido. I am so grateful that they could come down and see the show. Donna and Berry always know how to bring me back to earth, encourage me, lift me up, settle me down, humble me... whatever it takes. I always just feel a little more like me when I have them around.
The last week I was on tour was a week in Chicago! I haven't spent a ton of time there, but it was great fun getting to explore and we played a beautiful theatre. Other shows were playign in town at the same time so I got to meet friends of friends in American Idiot and Million Dollar Quartet. I was really excited to meet a fellow Stephen Foster alum, Colte Julian, who is in MDQ and hooked me up with tickets to see the show! Those guys were insane! They are ridiculously talented, playing instruments, singing, and looking just like their iconic counterparts they are playing. What an awesome show. I also enjoyed seeing the Bean in Millenium Park, having good food, Chicago pizza at Giordano's with Katie Reid, and drinks on top of the Hancock Tower. As a finale to my time on tour a big group of the cast went out after my last show to get ice cream sundaes at Ghiardelli and then to party and celebrate the wonderful time I've had on tour. There were some ups and downs along the way, but I will say one thing: I would have NEVER gotten through this tour without losing my mind if it wasn't for my friends (who became family) on tour. If I wasn't able to vent and laugh with all of them I would have become so bitter and jaded.
On South Pacific I learned so much. Mostly about the kind of person I want to be in theatre. I learned that I want to be a teacher, an encourager, and a positive force. Too often I think the art of play is lost and theatre becomes work. I learned more about respecting people and treating people how you want to be treated. I learned that even in a business of actors and artists and all types of people, honesty is the best policy. Most of all, I learned that there is no point in doing theatre if you aren't able to have joy doing it. There are so many people in love with the arts and music and dance and storytelling that there shouldn't be room for those who are are jaded and tired of it all. Smile, people! It's not rocket science! It's theatre! Have fun! Live rejoicing!