Sunday, April 28, 2013

4/28/13: Huntington, WV

After a 2 week sit down on a beach - I guess my body was just not ready for a run of one nighters and a 23 hour/2 day travel into a show and another one nighter...

Most of Huntington is a blur - which is funny because I've been there 3 times now (though at a different venue before) and I couldn't tell you a thing about the town.  I do know that the venue we were at (the Keith Albee) was - interesting to be at.  Apparently it used to be on the top rated Vaudeville circuit back in the day but suffered from a flood in the 30s.  They cleared out the water and kept using it as a theatre -but its fallen into such a state of disrepair backstage... Its very sad.

BUT the presenters did throw a very nice mixer for us to meet some of the audience at a local wine bar - which was very very nice.  Everyone I met was incredibly nice and seemed to enjoy the show. 

Next we're back off to the South again - heading to Macon, GA!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

4/25/13-4/27/13: Flint, MI

This is my third time here in Flint - believe it or not.  We played here with Curious George Live! and Thomas and Friends Live! - though both of those were done at the local hockey arena.  Which was a less than desirable venue to say the least.  This time, though, we are playing an actual theatre - AND we get to be here for more than a night!

But backing up - On our way up to Flint, we made a few stops to break up the monotony.  First off, Thursday was spent purely driving.  We stopped off for lunch in Nashville, TN - which was a fun surprise.  I've played Nashville before too - and when we were there we had most of our meals at Jacks' Bar-b-que.  It is literally the BEST bar-b-que I have ever had.  The beef brisket melts like butter - and the ribs are so delish its almost a crime.  So naturally I rounded up a bunch of the cast and we headed over there - and it was every bit as good as I remembered...perhaps even better.  Once we got to driving again - we stopped for the night in Louisville, KY.  We will be back to play there next season some time but for now it was just for the night.  I had a huge headache when we got there - which was a shame, because it turned out that a friend of mine from back in Tampa was in town working on 9 to 5 at a local dinner theater.  If I'd been feeling better I'd have gone to see it - but as it stood, I took a bunch of Excedrin and hunkered down for the night.

Every time I've been to Flint, I seem to stay at the same hotel - the Holiday Inn Express.  In their back yard is a little Chinese buffet place - that has the best Coconut Shrimp that I've ever had - You guys should sell that straight up - I'd buy it.  Check it out if you're in town lol.

On Saturday, a few of us decided to head up to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland - which is billed as the Largest Christmas store in the world (I know because Siri on my new iPhone told me so).  The entire grounds is decorated for Christmas - with lights and statues all over. Once you are inside - Its magical.  Christmas music pumps through all the speakers.  Every kind of ornament you can think of (and several 100 that you can't) is here, along with Nutcrackers, Books, and Snow Villages.  They even had a Halloween Village set out on display - probably because they heard we'd be there lol.  After a few hours we headed back to the theatre to do our 2 show day. 

The audiences here were good but hard to read - at least from the stage.  The theatre was very very deep - so the people were kind of far from where we were - which made it a challenge to tell if they were laughing or just chuckling.  But they seemed to enjoy the show by the way they reacted during the bows - so I'm gonna take that to mean they had a good time.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

4/24/13: Pensacola, FL

Being in Pensacola was alot of fun - since I've only ever been in the Panhandle one or two times in my life - and never here specifically.

The part of town we were in was very cute. Starting with our hotel, the Sole Inn.  It had a very modern feel to it, with some fun furniture and artwork both inside and out.  Though it did have a slightly disturbing fountain featuring a headless mermaid - but that aside, very cute.

The whole downtown area was filled with shops and trendy little restaurants.  I can recommend The Leisure Lounge, where Aaron and I had lunch before the show.  Its a very hippstery little eatery with great atmosphere and really good food (the mushrooms cooked in red wine and garlic are to die for) and the Tin Cow, where a bunch of us went after the show to build our own burgers and partake of their 'Spiked Shakes'.  I had the Pecan Pie flavored one  - but there are a bunch, like Red Velvet Cake or Peanut Butter Cup.

The theatre was very nice - a renovated theatre from the turn of the century.  The folks that work there are incredibly proud of all the renovations and were more than excited to give a couple of us a tour and talk about the history of the place.  I always think its nice to learn a little about the place you're performing in. Our audience here was great once again - you haven't let us down yet FL!

Though, tomorrow we leave the Sunshine State - and the south all together - to head up to Flint, MI.  We have a daunting couple of drives ahead of us to get there and back but our company manager, Deb, has some fun stops planned along the way so all should be well!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

4/23/13: Tallahassee, FL

A short drive later and we find ourselves in the capital city of my state.

I've actually played here before, with Thomas the Tank Engine, a few years ago - but this was the first time I've been with a non-family tour. The one thing I remember about this city (funnily enough) is a really good, cheap college hang out called Bird's Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack - which had some of the best affordable oysters I've ever had.  So I was kinda excited about going there again after the show.

BUT - we found out very last minute that the venue was throwing an after show party for us. So no oysters for me - but I was more than happy to go to this party instead.  I mean they were not kidding around - We're talking carving stations, sushi, open bar with wine and champagne flowing - and an ice sculpture.  I don't think I've even ever seen an ice sculpture in real life lol.  It was incredibly awesome and we all had a great time.  We followed it up by going back to the hotel and watching the latest Drag Race episode (still convinced that Roxxxy Andrews is going down - she seems pure evil on the show and can't be given a crown in my opinion...).

A long drive tomorrow into the Panhandle - Pensacola here we come!

Monday, April 22, 2013

4/22/13: Sarasota, FL

Well, we traded one beach for another - but now we're on my side of the state.  Its nice to be back Gulf-side, if only for a little bit.

We start a string of one nighters on our way up the FL coast and our first stop is here in Sarasota.  Which is about 40 minutes from my hometown of Tampa.  So naturally, when I heard that we were gonna be this close to home, I made sure that everyone I knew in Tampa knew we had a show lol.  I had planned to use the comp tickets that the company provided us to have my family come see the show (My Mom, Dad and sister - and my cousin who happened to be down visiting) and then use the rest of them (we are allotted 12 for this section of the tour) for my friends Tammy and Maria and their 'dates' for the evening and some other friends who could make it.  I submitted my requests about a month ago and our company manager in turn submitted them to the venue and everything seemed fine... About an hour away from reaching Sarasota, our company manager got word that the Van Weazel decided not to approve the complimentary ticket requests.  I freaked out - people were already driving to the area to have dinner and whatnot before the show and they no longer had tickets.  It was a disaster - and it really pissed me off that they decided to wait until then to spring that on us.  Well I frantically started texting people to let them know that they didn't have tickets after all - and our manager figured out a way to have 4 comps set aside for my family at least... Which was a major relief since they could not have afforded the tickets otherwise.  Tammy and Maria ended up having to purchase them at the door - but at least they got to come.  Fiasco - the whole ordeal pretty much soured the excitement that had built up about having everyone come out and see me too - that coupled with the fact that the venue had one of the worst acoustics I've ever heard.  It was near impossible to hear the music and I'm sure I was incredibly off key for most of the show (though my family says I wasn't but they have to say that).  Very disappointing. 

Despite that - the audience we had was actually the best audience we've ever had for the show (and we're almost to 100 performances now).  They got every joke and innuendo and really seemed to be having a fantastic time -which made me feel a little better as the show went on.  And of course it was wonderful to see everyone after the show.

I had originally planned to go home with my family to Tampa and spend the night in my own bed and do some laundry and hang out with everyone, thinking that since the drive from Sarasota to Tallahassee was only 3 1/2 to 4 hours, that we'd probably leave around 10 or so - but since the fates were determined to ruin the day - we were actually scheduled to leave at 6 something in the morning the next day - which would have made it impossible to go back home.  So, I shelled out some $$ so at least my sister and cousin could stay at the same hotel we were at for the evening so we could at least talk for a while - which was nice.  So the day didn't go as horribly as it could have - but it definitely could have been better...on the up side, I have 8 comps still to use between now and June...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

4/7/13-4/21/13: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Well, our two week (and longest US) sit-down has come to an end.  Its very odd, but it almost doesn't feel like we've been on tour at all these past two weeks.  In fact I opened my 2nd suitcase for the first time since we got here today.

Its been very nice.  Sure if it were up to me - I wouldn't have chosen to stay at a fancy hotel on the beach (I find the 'nicer' the hotel is, the less you actually get for your money...and this Westin was no exception. Thank the heavens that the company worked out some deals with them since they were more than willing to charge $32 per day to let us have Internet access in our room, Charged $75 for a (very) mini fridge, Had mandatory valet parking at $28 a day, Set out 2 bottles of water in the room, one with a little sign on it that said complimentary and the one behind it with an identical sign but in tiny tiny print said it was $2 - to trick you into drinking both, overpriced restaurants, that sort of thing) - but a majority of the cast and crew took advantage of the 'vacation' style living.  I'm one of those 'wierd' people that hate the beach and huge crowds of drunk tourists - so I stayed indoors most of the time like a true vampire.  Though I did venture out now and then - to enjoy the view or see a movie...

We had some really great audiences here too - which was nice. AND our producers came out (they seem to do that when we're near the beach lol) to see how the show was doing.  I'm happy to say they were pleased with our work and threw us a very nice party out at one of the restaurants on the beach.  My friend, Sandy, who I have known since high school, now lives down this way and got to come see the show - which was very cool since I haven't seen her in such a long time.

My best friend, Tammy, made it down on one of my days off (we had days off!!) and we got to hang out and play a Fiasco and some Bunnies.  It was great to see her and just relax.  Missed seeing her daughter (my Goddaughter), Miss Scarlett, but I'll be back in FL for about a month in September, so I'll get some Godfather time in then.  The Fiasco that we did was a different flavour than the ones I've done before.  I found a Slasher Film inspired one and we (Tammy, Dan/Lurch and I) wove a tail of 2 identical twins who come to work at a summer camp and start finding bodies everywhere.  It actually got pretty creepy, which I love.

Hangout wise, I stayed mostly around the hotel - eating at a tourist trap called LuLu's Bait Shack - which actually had some really good Ahi Tuna Tacos and a place called Casablanca Cafe - which served up a great Lamb Sandwich.  A bunch of us went out to a local gay bar called Bill's Filling Station for Drag Night and Drag Race night (go Jinx Monsoon!) to see what the local scene looked like.  I love watching really good drag queens perform - and we came across some pretty good ones...and a few busted ones - but a good time out was had by all.

This sit down kind of made me think about the opportunity that I'm wasting by not taking advantage of my time between the actual performances on tour.  It lit a fire under me to get organized again and make sure that I'm accomplishing some 'real life' things while I'm out here. AND I decided to bring some others along with me - so I reached back into my Keller Williams roots (the real estate company I used to work/train for) and taught a class between shows on goal setting and time management.  Now there are several of us who have set some end of tour goals for our jobs, finances and personal aspirations and have made a manageable plan to achieve them - and keep each other accountable.  I'm such a structure geek.... But I'm excited to be 'back on track' with my time again.  Good things are bound to come from this!

Now I'm all packed up again and ready to head out to Sarasota in the morning - where....My parents, sister, cousin, Tammy, my friend Maria and several other Tampons will be coming out to see the show.  So excited!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

4/5/13-4/6/13: Springfield, MO

Our one-nighter week is finally over!  We actually got to spend the night in Springfield and perform the next day!  What?! (lol) - all this is just prep for next season, which looks like it might be almost all one-nighters but more on that at a future date..

The town itself was pretty cool - definitely a college town with some great mom and pop/hip foodie places (including an amazing Crepe place). 

Our shows went well for the most part - even though our audiences weren't as full as we are used to, but there was A LOT going on in town this weekend.  Besides us, there was a national boys gymnastics meet (at our hotel), a Color Run, a Bass Pro event and the Circus was in town.  It was cool to be back though - played here almost exactly 2 years ago as well.  They only hitch we had was during our second show - when one of the locals forgot to change all the batteries on the mics - and so we had to stop the show for 'Technical Difficulties' after the first number and change everything out.  That was a first for me lol - but we recovered well enough and according to the Tweets I was reading after the show, it didn't seem to affect people's good time :)

Now, though I didn't participate, I went out to support the few cast members that decided to run in the Springfield Color Run.  It was an event to raise money for local charities - not timed or anything, just for fun.  The track was just under 5K (ended up being 2.9 miles) - and they had 'color' stations along the way for you to stop and get dowsed with different colored bags of corn starch so when you got to the finish line - you were pretty much a living rainbow.  After the race, they got everyone together for a Color Bomb - where all the racers opened their own color packets and all threw them into the air at once.  The event was a lot of fun - even just to watch - and filled with energy.  I highly suggest trying it sometime if they do one in your area.

But for now - I'm very stoked for our 2 week sit-down- which happens to be in Ft. Lauderdale, FL - and will be followed by a performance in Sarasota where my fam will come to the show!! Very excited - more in 2 weeks!

Friday, April 5, 2013

4/4/13: Columbia, MO

Not much to blog about today really...another long drive into a show...

Only today, I wasn't feeling so hot.  Lots of small things that I thought were random individual occurrences are turning out to be foreshadowing of sickness it seems.  I took a Robitussin PM for the bus ride today which zonked me out for the bus ride and another 2 hours after we arrive at the hotel.  But even so, I was feeling iffy though most of the show and visited the facilities continuously throughout.  I made it though and forewent (sadly) Lexie's post show birthday party for bed after the show was over.

The venue itself was another college - we have one more stop on our college tour after this.  And apparently the stage was a lot smaller than the crew anticipated - because after lunch we got word that this would also be a Set Understudy show like we had done a few days ago.  Only at this one - there was no room for the Costumes to live in the building, so all of our costume changes were don't outside among college students walking around campus.  Oh the glamorous life, right? LOL.  I actually liked that though - it was sooooo much cooler outside than onstage, so it gave me a way to cool down between scenes.  The dressers were telling us that most shows through this venue have this setup due to lack of space in the building (which is a lecture hall).  They said that when Beauty and the Beast came through last Halloween, some of the Wolf Puppeteers and the Beast would hide behind the bushes in the off time and scare people in the streets - LOL.

Our lunch stop today was pretty notable too - we had a mini hiatus on Main Street in St. Charles - which is a very fun, old-timey area with lots of nic-nac shops and mom and pop restaurants.  My mom's best friend lives in St. Charles, so when I was little we were there a lot.  It was kinda cool to walk around and see the area - all I really remember from it when I was little was that the streets were made of brick.

One more small drive to Springfield though - and we are at our last stop of One Nighters before our 2 week sit down in FL!  Just keep swimming....

Thursday, April 4, 2013

4/3/13: Champaign, IL

I was really excited to this show - its the first (and probably one of the only) shows that we'll be doing in an Arena. 

I come from an Arena show background - Curious George and Thomas and Friends were both 90% arena performances.  They are different from shows in a theatre in a number of ways.  The sound is often harder to deal with as a performer (if you've ever been in an arena for a sporting event...), they are so much more open, there's half an arena's worth of 'backstage' and generally they are cooler than most theatres temperature wise. 

We were booked to play the Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois - which is one of the nicer
arenas because the sound issues actually aren't all that bad.  It was also kind of cool because...I've played that arena before - almost 2 years ago to the day, with Thomas and Friends.  And it was doubly cool because my parents used to live in the Champaign/Urbana area after they were first married.  And it was triply cool - because the arena is shaped like a giant UFO.  Made for a fun evening - even though we had a fairly long (7 hour) travel day into the show...which we will be repeating tomorrow for our show in Columbia, MO.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

4/2/13: Athens, OH

The saving grace of this city was the mere fact that it was only 2 hours away from our last city - which meant a Noon bus call and plenty of time before the show after we arrived at the hotel.

We were playing a theatre on campus at Ohio University - a MUCH smaller theatre than we are used to playing.  So much smaller that a good portion of our set pieces couldn't be used - including our Front Curtain and Balcony/Front Door unit.  So basically, it was another understudy show - except it was a Set Understudy.  Like I've said before, these are always (chaotic) but a lot of fun because you truly don't know what is going to happen during the show.  Nothing fuels the adrenaline like curtains coming down on you that didn't expect or all the lights going out while your dancing -- or there being a giant open space where there was supposed to be a door.  Not that the show wasn't great - I think it was actually one of my best shows because of all the oddities.  And of course the audience was none the wiser and had a fantastic time.  That's whats amazing about touring shows - what seems like chaos backstage just seems like what is supposed to happen out in the audience.

And to boot - after the show, we got to watch the most recent Ru Paul's Drag Race.  Not a bad day...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

3/31/13-4/1/13: Portsmouth, OH

OK - so we are on our one-nighter stint but it took 2 days to get from SD to OH.  We spent a night in Peoria, IL on the way and stopped in Cedar Rapids, IA for lunch one day - which were both big memory cities for me.  My first big tour was Curious George Live! - which teched for a week and half in Cedar Rapids (which is a city that smells entirely like strawberry breakfast cereal because there is a Quaker Oats factory in the downtown area).  During CGL, we played Peoria - which is a city that houses a true to life scale model of the solar system that branches out through several cities and counties - that we followed the last time I was there.  So that was cool.

Portsmouth starts our week of One-Nighters - and is a fairly small town.  We performed at the Visual Arts building of the Shawnee University - and the highlight for me was after the show.  They had us leave the venue through the lobby where a bunch of families were waiting to meet us.  Many of them were children that work with local community theatre - which performs on the stage where we played.  You could tell how excited the kids were to meet us - which really made my day.  I grew up in community theatre and think it is a great way to develop young talent and wet their appetite for live theatre and performing.  One of the families had promotional Fester fans from the original Broadway show - which they had me sign - and then...GAVE ME ONE OF THEM.  (Thank you to the Mom who offered me the fan btw - its one of the most amazing tokens I'll take home from this tour!!!).  I was so excited to receive it.  Its events like this that really make all the hard work pay off and make me not mind the crazy travel we've had lately.  Bravo Portsmouth!