Friday, May 31, 2013

5/29/13-5/30/13: Columbus, GA

Breakfast In Bed
Living on a bus is a trying experience sometimes.  Especially with like 30 other people.  Your 'personal space' is reduced to 2 seats (if you're lucky - and thank goodness I am this time around - usually its just 1 seat) and part of an overhead bin that may or may not be wide/deep enough to fit your carry on luggage.  If its not - then it has to live in the space were your legs should go.  Some people decide to be 'Floor Sleepers' - which means that they lie on the ground (sometimes with blankets, pillows and/or bedding foam) in the leg area with their head up by the window/wall and their legs out in the aisle.  Others decide they are "Seat Sleepers" - which means they take up the 2 seats to lie down with their legs draped into the aisle or on someone else's seat across from them.  This also means that the entire aisle is blocked for practical things like...walking to the bathroom...or exiting the bus - so you are forced to perform acrobatics on a moving bus, stepping on people's seats and personal items just so you can pee or go to lunch.  Kind of crazy - but you get used to it.  You basically have to give up any sense of personal space at all - since on a tour you are traveling 5-8 hours most every or every other day.  Its different...

Anyway - Columbus GA.  Was supposed to meet up with another Curious George friend of mine - Erin Collins, but sadly she was sick and couldn't make it out to the show.  Next time...  The shows went pretty well but our audiences were kind of quiet.  They seemed to enjoy it - and the people I met outside the stage door on the way to the bus were very enthusiastic and incredibly sweet, we just didn't get the feedback during the show.  Which, as a performer is sort of frustrating.  But you move on and hope that their just a quieter audience but that they're still having a good time.  Anyway - off to Knoxville for 2 days now...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

5/28/13: Morganton, NC

Ah - Nice and refreshed and ready to go.  Its interesting how much one little day off can really recharge you in a touring situation.  Its like taking a catnap during an all night study session.

Technically we had 2 full days off - but one was spent traveling from 7Am-8Pm, so I don't count it as either refreshing or a day off (lol).  We left El Paso on Sunday morning and 4 airports and 2 bus rides later were finally in our hotel in Atlanta's Midtown area.  The travel itself wasn't actually bad - save for the mini layover we had after we changed planes the first time.  We were flying via Southwest Air - which is the equivalent to the Megabus of the skies.  We had one flight from El Paso to Dallas - with an actual layover and plane switch.  Then we flew from Dallas to Houston, where we stopped for about 40 minutes to let the Houston passengers off and new Atlanta (and beyond - their planes make 4 or 5 mini stops before reaching their final destination) passengers on before retaking off.  During the mini layover, when we had to remain on the plane, they turned the air off (one guesses to conserve $) - so we sat in the heat for about 40 minutes waiting to go.  But we did finally make it to Atlanta, which is all that really mattered.

Now, I've been to Atlanta several times - with shows, for work in other capacities, and (being from FL) for vacations.  So I wasn't sure of what I wanted to do with my time off, as I've seen a majority of the 'touristy' things before.  Aside from eating out for diners and lunch - I ended up not even leaving the hotel room and just watching movies and surfing the Internet all day - which was fine with me.  It ended up being just what I needed too - a nice relaxing day of nothing.

Today, we drove from Atlanta to Morganton, NC for our one nighter. Nothing really spectacular to report - the audience had a good time, no major craziness with the technical aspects of the show - just an in and out.  The one mentionable aspect of the theatre (which was called the Comma - City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium - lol) was this terrifying Angel/Killer Clown that was 'floating' over the Wig area of the building, sort of watching over us and will now forever haunt my dreams...

Other than that - pretty normal show.  Tomorrow we head back to GA - stopping for lunch in...Atlanta (oh you tour Gods...) on our way to Columbus!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

5/24/13-5/25/13: El Paso, TX

Have you ever been to El Paso?  This makes my second trip here with shows - and its such a city of duality.  One one hand: The locals are extremely friendly (theatre locals and local locals), the food is amazing authentic Mexican cuisine (because its made by Mexicans who live in Mexico), there's a fun atmosphere of art and Latin culture all around and its fairly wallet friendly.  On the other had: Its basically Juarez, Mexico...which happens to be the drug and murder capital OF THE WORLD.  You get the same warnings from every company manager about staying in at night, not crossing the border, travel in groups, etc.

So a trip to El Paso is always exciting, fun and a little scary (because of the imminent danger...).  I'm happy to say that we all made it through our 2 day trip alive and kicking (and not by being sold in to a white sex slavery ring...).  The theatre we were at was beautiful - reminiscent of the theatre we played in San Antonio - complete with an outdoor Mexican village setting and an absolutely gorgeous star display on the ceiling of the theatre that made singing The Moon And Me more magical than ever.  There was an indie music festival going on a block away (Neon Desert) - which was pretty cool and added to the electric charge in the air of the town.  And the audiences were great (they loved all of our Spanish language jokes lol) - and incredibly friendly to meet with outside the stage door.  One man even proposed to his (now) fiancĂ© after our performance - apparently they had met doing theatre and so it was the perfect setting to further their relationship.

This time around I actually got to walk around the city a bit - though not a whole lot as it was really hot out there and I was working my way through the tail end of a cold brought on by the mold in Omaha and needed to rest.  It was cool to walk through the shopping district areas and see all the local shops - it actually reminded me of being in certain parts of Queens (lol).  What struck me most about the shops were the way that they marketed their clothing. There was literally a stretch of 2 blocks with hundreds of mannequins all turned booty out to show 'how good your butt will look in these pants'.  Hilarious!  Of course I sampled the food in a couple places - fantastic, as I assumed they would be.

The only downer was that we found out that the weather seals on our tour bus luggage compartment weren't working and a great deal of our combined suitcases were waterlogged and full of wet and musty clothes.  A headache for sure - but between our company manager working out some stuff with the hotel we were at to let us use their industrial washer/driers and the efforts of Cat, our wardrobe head - we got it all squared away.  Now its just a race to re-seal the luggage bays before the next rains come - but I'm sure it will be fine now that the company knows that it is an issue.

Next we have 2 (technically - though one full day is all travel til 8pm) days off in recharge a bit before moving on to Morganton, NC on Tuesday.  Back to Eastern Standard Time!  Happy Memorial Day!  TTYS from NC!

Friday, May 24, 2013

5/23/13: Odessa, TX

Back in TX again.  It seems like only yesterday I was eating by the Riverwalks of San Antonio....oh wait - it practically was almost yesterday lol.  Touring does that to you - all of your days and cities start to blend into one another.

We did take a day off yesterday - which was actually filled mostly with driving from IA to OK - and stayed the night in Oklahoma City.  Its was kind of sad, knowing the tragedy that many OKCers have just gone through with their string of tornadoes.  There were definitely several families (and pets) staying at the hotel we were at after losing their homes.  So sad.  I wish there was something we could have done to help out while we were there - but we were only there for the evening and it had been a long day of travel to get there as it instead I was left to my own selfish musings, which included walking over to the mall next to our hotel to buy an HDMI converter for my Mac (so I can now watch movies/Netflix on the hotel TVs) and to catch an early showing of the new Star Trek movie (which was pretty good - though I don't think its better than the first...)

Next day we drove for a good portion of the day to get to Odessa, TX - where Claire was from in Heros (SAVE THE CHEERLEADER SAVE THE WORLD).  I didn't see any death defying cheerleaders or supervillians though.  Actually I was surprised that anyone was at our show that evening as there didn't seem to be any sign of civilization around the venue and there was a huge thunderstorm a-brewing.  But we were close to sold out I'm told - which is pretty cool.  The venue itself was very nice - almost just over a year old.  And the show went very well.  Tomorrow we head down to the US/Mexican border for our 2 day stop in El Paso.

OH - while I didn't see any superheros in Odessa - I did see a huge mountain of couches piled up outside our hotel.  I guess they were remodeling or something - but I leave you with this:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5/21/13: Sioux City, IA

This is my 2nd trip to Sioux City - though last time I was here was with Curious George Live! and we were playing the local arena.  I remember it mostly because its one of the cities where my 'long lost' family got to see me perform.  I say 'long lost' because when I was 7 our family moved from the St Louis area to Florida.  Most of my family is in Chicago and parts of IA - so I just didn't see them for 20 years or so.  Once I started touring - I met several cousins who were born after we moved and met up with some Aunts and Uncles who I hadn't seen since the early 80s.  This was one of those places.

Anyway - THIS time we played the theatre.  And it was a nice change after the interesting Auditorium show the night before.  This show also marked the last of our 10 show/8 day week - so that was nice.  It went well - no major issues - just your typical show.  The one cool thing was that my Dresser (the local crew person assigned to help me with costume changes) ended up being an ex VEE employee.  VEE was the company that put out Curious George - and also does the Sesame Street shows, which is what she'd done.  Kinda cool - oh, also the local Wig guy had toured with Wicked for 3 years.  Also kinda cool.  But thats really it.  Not much happened aside from some travel knitting and a lot sleep.

Now we have a day off (sort of) while we drive from the top of the country to the bottom - next stop: TX!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5/20/13: Fargo, ND

As our one-nighter week starts up again, there less to comment on - since nothing much aside from the show gets to happen in the short time we're in these cities.

And Oh, what a show this was too - lol.  We were at the Fargodome - one of our last, if not last, Arenas this leg of the tour.  Now this place is HUGE.  I mean you could literally set up our stage requirements 14 times within the arena section - and still have room for seating.  Its also made to be a football arena - not so much for Broadway shows.  Besides having to cut some things for space reasons (which is fairly common as every venue is a little different), 2 of our main drops were hung on sideways moving rails (we are used to them flying up not to the left) and 1 was on an automated pulley system that moved so slowly that I literally could have climbed a rope to the ceiling and hoisted it up myself in less time than it took to raise and lower.  But sometimes, thems the breaks and you make it work.  It mad for some interesting scene changes but nothing major as far as the audience was concerned.  Just kept us on our toes - or swept you off them as the curtain came billowing towards you from the left if you forgot that it wasn't flying down from above (lol).

There were 2 pretty cool things that happened in Fargo though - 1)A friend of mine from back in my AMDA days lives there at the moment and was able to come see the show.  I
haven't seen him for...12 years or so.  So that was pretty awesome.  2) Double birthdays! Sam Primack (one of our Pugsleys) and our Merch Manager, Betsy celebrated their coming into the world with some cake and drinks in the hotel lobby.  Speaking of which, people have to stop being born so close together on this tour or I'll never hit my goal weight with all these cakes and things popping up - LOL - Oh well, the trials and tribulations of being on the road...Off to Sioux City next!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

5/13/13-5/19/13: Omaha, NE

I know - at first glance Omaha doesn't sound like it would rank up in fun places to be -- but you'd be wrong.  We had a great week in Omaha - our last week sit down for quite a while actually, so thats a good thing.

I've actually been to Omaha before - well, sort of.  When I was in Curious George Live we played the arena IA just over the way. I actually saw How The Grinch Stole Christmas for the first time at the theatre we are playing now - and thought...hmmm, someday I could play Grandpa Who (lol).  And of course, we stopped over here for a night on our way to Sioux Falls a month or so ago.

The theatre itself is very nice - part of the old Orpheum circuit theaters, which makes it even cooler.  We had an...interesting week show-wise.  Oh, all of the performances went ok - but we had 6 people out/away from the show throughout the week.  Deb, our company manager has been in Asia scouting out all the venues we will be at there...Two people had weddings, One a funeral ( :( ) and two went out for medical issues.  We had our first understudy conductor go on for 3 days - and he did very well.  We also had one of our superstudies go in for Wednesday on the day of shows.

I think the hotel we are staying at has mold issues.  There were 6 or 7 of us who developed throat/lung issues this week - me included.  But the funny thing was that the symptoms only really showed up - or worsened while I was at the hotel.  Two days ago, I woke up with almost no voice - left the hotel for a few hours and felt/sounded much better - went back to the hotel for an hour and all the phlegm came right back and I started losing my voice again....

But Omaha as a town was pretty cool.  A few of the cast made it out to the Zoo - which was supposed to be one of the best - if not the best in the country.  The boys went with their tutor on a field trip and ended up spending 7 hours there - and still felt like the rushed through it.  Wish I could have gone - but am still trying to take it easy for now...  I did make it out to look around the Old Market area of town - which had a bunch of fun shops and restaurants - including some of the best sushi I've had in ages.  Blue Sushi Sake Grill - if you make it into Omaha - its a must.  Get the truffle oil soaked salmon and strawberries....

OH - and the big thing for me this week was...BUYING A MACBOOKPRO.  I finally made the switch to Apple from PC.  Though I did buy a Windows emulator so I can slowly transition my programs and whatnot - that'd be too expensive to try and to all at once.  I am loving it so far - though its going to take a while to get used to it.  There are just so many hidden things on this computer - and secret finger swipes that do special things on the mouse pad...defiantly not as user friendly in the learning how to use it dept.  But I have faith that within another week I'll be a pro lol.

We are getting ready to head into an interesting week - its all one nighters BUT - we only have five shows...and no matinees...and a day off in OKC and in Atlanta on our way to other should be fun :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

5/6/13-5/12/13: San Antonio, TX

After all that has happened to me lately - I'm incredibly glad that our next week sit down was now and here in San Antonio.

Just to update everyone on my state of health... I'm doing much better.  I wouldn't say that I'm at 100% just yet - but I'm definitely at 95% or so.  I filled my prescription the moment the plane touched down in San Antonio and I got hold of my new Debit card (finally) - and its been slowly regulating things... I started the week at about 80% - still a little dizzy ( that didn't really go away til about Friday) and hard to focus - but I found that I could at least do the show and not push it - which was great, since I had several people coming to see me this week - which by the way I was SO happy to see both Kelly & Erik Gonzalez and Jess Harper and families!!.  I took this week off in the 'exercise' department but figure I'll start up slowly next week - doing about 3 miles on the treadmill 3 days a week - then 5 days - then 5 miles - after Asia, I'll pick up P90X again since I should be doing ok by then...

This week we got to spend time out and about in San Antonio - but since this is my 4th trip here in as many years...I pretty much stayed in and rested.  I took advantage of the time to plan out my trip to Bangkok - and buy flights and hotel rooms and tours and whatnot - the most exciting part is that I am now scheduled to take a half day cooking class from The Blue Elephant restaurant AND a 2 day Buddhist meditation class from the House of Dhamma.  Soooooo excited - I'll also be taking a day trip out to Atthuya and one to the Deathbridge over the River Kuai, the floating markets and the Tiger Temple (where the Tigers live docilely with the Monks and you can pet them or feed them...amazing...)  It will be one interesting trip!  I had thought originally to go to Beijing for part of my time off.  I really wanted to see the Great Wall of China - but its just not going to work out so - I'll have to make sure I go back to Asia again someday...

I did venture out to the movies (twice) - to see Ironman 3 and the new Gatsby movie - loved them both.  I think Luhrman really captured the lol.  I also made it down to the Riverwalk for a bit - always nice to stroll down the Riverwalk whenever you're in SA.  Also made it over to a little Drag restaurant called Luther's on Monday to watch the Drag Race finale - sooo happy to see Jinkx Monsoon win.  She deserved it.
feel of the book with his film - and bugger the critics to don't agree

The theatre we were at was one of the most beautiful ones we've seen yet - It was made to look like a little Mexican village on the inside, complete with stars and clouds floating in the 'sky' over the audiences' seats.  Just breathtaking.  And the audiences here were phenomenal - each show was better than the next.  Loved meeting the people outside the stage door too - had a great time chatting with them all!

All in all: a great week of rest and healing and good theatre....

Monday, May 6, 2013

5/3/13 - 5/5/13: Huntsville, AL

Interesting stop on the tour for me to say the least...

During the second show on our second day of shows (we were here for a 5 show weekend) I had to be pulled from the performance halfway through Act One because I was experiencing severe Vertigo, Tunnel Vision and Lightheadedness.  It was the weirdest thing... As we started the show I felt a little dizzy but it passed right away - but then  midway through the opening number it started to come back.  It became very hard to focus on things - the smoke and lighting in the show were wigging me out.  I was having to focus on my breathing more and more to make sure I stayed conscious - all not good.  After the first number, I went straight to our stage manager and explained what was happening but was told that there wasn't much we could do since the show had started.  I went and rested until the next scene - but during the next scene it got even worse - once the company manager, Deb, got there, we pulled me from the show and my superstudy, Aaron Fried went on as Fester for the rest of the show.

Deb took me over to the ER at Huntington Hospital - where I stayed til about 3AM getting a barrage of (very expensive) tests done all to find out that my blood pressure was high.  I was given a 3 week prescription for Norvasc and went back to the hotel to rest.  Needless to say I took the next day of shows off as well - which was sad, since I missed our 100th performance.  But my roommate, Mark, brought me a cupcake from the celebration.

Sooooo that was a little scary - and something that's never happened before.  Lets hope it doesn't happen again...I think it was brought on by a series of things: 1)The stress over my Chase debit card (which I didn't have in my possession STILL, so Deb had to put the down payment on the company credit card) 2)I'd started P90X this week - and it might have been a little too much for me right now 3)I'd lost 6lbs in 4 days - all of which put me in a more fragile situation than needless to say, I'm taking it a little easy for the next few weeks...

Friday, May 3, 2013

5/2/13: Montgomery, AL

Well guess what....I get to the hotel in Montgomery...and no card has arrived for me....

Had a tiring call to Chase that resulted in me sending this letter:


I have been a very loyal Chase customer for years now - which is why it sickens me to have been treated in the manor I was just treated by your company. Not that I have any misconceptions that you will actually read this or care about my situation as I am just a lowly personal banking customer and not a big business who uses your services. But I have decided to send this anyway, just in case there is someone at your company who believes in customer services - which I am not convinced of...

I am a traveling actor working on an International touring Broadway show - which means that I pretty much live out of my suitcase and have all my financial dealings on-line - and that my only source of accessing my funds is my Chase Debit Card. It also means that I am in a new location every day or every other day - which makes receiving time sensitive items in the mail an issue. 

I was recently (and thankfully) notified by the Fraud Dept that there were possible fraudulent charges on my account - after talking with "Richard", he assured me that the charges would be reversed and a new card would be sent to me in 7-10 days. I explained to him my situation and he offered to overnight the new card the next day to the hotel I would be arriving at. Well, I arrived today to find that nothing had arrived at the hotel. So I called the Fraud Department again to find a tracking number for the card and to see what could be done since I will only be at this address for one day. "Jessica" informed me that the card had not been sent out yet and said she would instead overnight it to where I would be tomorrow. After taking the new address and putting me on hold for 5-10 minutes, she came back to tell me that I would instead receive the card on Monday/possibly Tuesday. Obviously this was a problem since I should be holding the card in my hand at this moment - and I would not be at the address that she just sent the new card to on Monday or Tuesday. She then told me that it was policy to overnight cards - contradicting what she had told me minutes before. I asked to speak to a supervisor to see if there was a way of solving my problem. She quickly got "Bianca" on the line - who was incredibly rude to me and just kept repeating the same 4 words over and over "That's not our policy" - completely not listening to what I was saying and finally put me on hold as I was talking to her mid-word. I sat on hold a good 10-15 minutes - I am sure she was hoping I would just hang up. Finally "Guillermo" came on the line. He was just as rude at first and after arguing for several minutes about how it was 'impossible' to get me a card before Tuesday - which is absolutely not the case - since if there were a Chase near my location, he told me I could walk in and be handed one - I gave up and gave them the address where I would be on Tuesday.

By the time I receive the card - if it is sent out correctly this time - my funds will have been held hostage by your institution for a week - causing all of my electronic payments for my rent and other time sensitive payments to not go through - not to mention I have no access to my funds to pay for food or hotels while I am on the road. I simply don't know what I am going to do - thanks to your 'customer service'. I have been lied to repeatedly (in the same conversation), been treated rudely, and brushed off with no attempts made to correct a situation that your company created by not sending out the card as I was assured they would do. Is there anything that you can do to help? 

I will let you know that after this, I am most assuredly going to be looking for another financial intuition when I return home. One that treats its customers with respect and offers results instead of shouting at them on the phone in their time of need.

Unhappily yours,

Shaun Rice

I can't tell you how mad I am - even thought it happened yesterday, I'm still shaking with anger and disbelief and their refusal to help me.  All they had to do was overnight me the card - which they've done for people in the past...unbelievable.  Now on top of everything else, I've got to find a new bank..

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

4/29/13-5/1/13: Macon, GA

Well - nothing ruins your day like finding out that someone has copied your debit card and started making online purchases with you savings.  Why is it that people feel the need to steal from others?  This is the 3rd time something like this has happened to me - I mean what are the odds?

I found out this information as I was about to leave for the the show - so of course, all I could think of was that during my performance - since there wasn't time to call Chase until after the show...the guy I talked to, however, told me that they'd be taking off all the extra charges and then overnighting me a new card to Montgomery so it will be there on Thursday when we get to the hotel - but til then, I'm living off packaged oatmeal...tho before this happened, Aaron and Galloway and I found a REALLY good Chinese/Southern Comfort restaurant (weird I know...) that had the best chicken ever!

Show-wise, the Grand Opera House was fun to play, if not exceeding small and overly hot - which was funny because it was literally 2 below in the audience section.  The audiences were very responsive though - which makes up for all that.  Have been so consumed with this bank stuff to think about much of anything else tho...