Monday, March 26, 2012

Planes, vans and a funky theatre.....

Greetings from Minneapolis!  We just flew into a much chillier temperature here today, from Kansas City.  It was a very eventful, and very interesting week.....

Things started off on a very weird note, as we ATTEMPTED to depart from Dallas en route to KC.  After a bit of a delay, our plane took off from Love Field, and we experienced the WORST turbulence I've ever had the misfortune to be in.  After a strange announcement from the pilot that "one of the engines cut out", we turned around and headed back to Dallas for repairs; our plane and flight's futures uncertain. 

The bumpy ride promted most of the cast to decide that flying was not in their best interest, so they left the plane, and decided to rent a van to drive the 9 hours to KC.  4 actors, the crew, stage and company management all stayed in the airport awaiting news of our NEW flight.  We waited for about an hour, and then were given a new gate, a new plane, and were finally on our way.  While all of this was going on, Rachael was side-swiped by a truck in Florida, and her car sustained $4,700 worth of damage.  She, thankfully, was unhurt.  Not only was I very worried, but that was the icing on the cake of a univerally terrible day for travel. 

On Tuesday the boys did a promo at the 75th Street Brewery, (see the two videos below) where they had just unveiled a beer that was renamed in our honor (see the picture of the tap above), the Million Dollar Brewski.  It was pretty darn good.  The promo went well, and word had come down to us that we were nearly sold out in KC, which is always good news. 

Now for the drama of the theatre.  From the outside, the Kauffman Center is stunning.  The best way I can describe it (again, see the picture above) is that it kinda looks like the Sydney Opera House with a crack down the middle.  It's a brand new complex, and we were the first tour of this size to be in here's where the adventure starts:

We got detailed directions on how to get into the theatre.  Absolutely ridiculous.  Mind you, it was also pouring rain opening night. 

First, we had to park in a large, confusing, poorly thought out parking garage.  Once parked, we needed to take an elevator to the P1 level.  From there, we had to walk through a herd of patrons and ticket takers to an escalator.  This escalator brought us to the main lobby.  From there, it was either hoof it up a few flights of stairs, or take a second elevator to the upper level.  Then, exit the building (what?  really?), walk between the two, or in the "crack" if you will, and go in the stage door.  Ah....but the adventure isn't over yet.....
Once inside the stage door, we had to flash our badge to the security guard and then take the 3rd and final elevator (or stairs) down a level to get to the stage/dressing rooms/green rooms, etc.  After walking down a series of winding hallways, we were greeted by a sign that said "Mazel Tov.  You have found the call board".  How appropriate. 

Now, that's just getting to the the REAL fun starts. 

During sound check, the building was experiencing quite a few power outages and blown breakers.  I would try to explain it all, but honestly, I don't fully understand it myself.  The long and the short of it is, our lights and sound weren't fully operational for the length of the show due to the building's shortcomings, and it "not being ready for a show of our size".  Have fun when La Cage gets there.....
Oh, and there was a problem with the septic system, so the toilets backed up and left the theatre smelling like a sewar for the duration of the show.  Lovely. 

After all of that excitement, we had Thunderstudy rehearsal with a new face on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, Martin had hurt his elbow in Dallas, so Austin had been on for him for a few shows, and they needed to bring in someone to u/s Jerry Lee in Martin's abscence (I'm pleased to report he is doing just dandy, and is back in the show!).  So, James Scheider (who has done the show numerous times in Chicago) joined us for the week in KC.  It was very cool to work with someone completely new, and with a totally different vibe.  He has left us and headed back to NYC.  You never know, he may be back. 

Billy, The Jam and I all woke up at 4 AM on Thursday to fly to St. Louis for a promo at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.  Though we weren't excited to be up so early, we, as always, were stoked to perform and to promote the show.  I had performed at the Fox (gulp) 11 years ago with my first tour of A Christmas Carol for the Nebraska Theatre Caravan.  So, it was great to perform on a stage like that again.  Just an imense, gorgeous, historic theatre.  And, the promo went extremely well!  I think the show will do very well there in 2013. 
Again, we were joined by a couple new faces.  Randy Redd, the current Jerry Lee u/s off-Broadway, stepped in as JLL....and MAN was he fierce.  Matt Aronoff joined us on bass (he played in our promo at the Miami Heat home opener), and our very own David Sonneborn played kit. 
Along with a great promo, we had the pleasure of watching a few members of the upcoming Warhorse tour work with the horse, Joey, onstage.  After having seen the show in NY, it was so amazing to be that close to the "puppet", and watch the detailed manipulation that his "handlers" are able to do.  Breathtaking (see a picture with me and Joey above). 
We stayed a swanky, but kinda strange hotel.  The picture of the random hand above is from that room (also, check out the video below)....and I had to search for a half hour to find that my tv was hidden behind a mirror.....wicked weird, dude. 

We headed back to KC on Friday, and that evening we had a little soiree at the 75th Street Brewery, which was a nice way to welcome yet another new face, Katie Barton.  Katie is joining us this week to cover Alyssa's vacation, and will be joining us permanently later in the tour. 

On Saturday, a bunch of us ventured to Stroud's famous fried chicken restaurant....WOW.  The chicken was great, but let me tell you, the cinnamon rolls that must've had a stick of butter in each of them were to die for. 

Well, that's about it from KC.  This week is our last before our well-deserved two week vacation.  Tomorrow I'll be heading out to the Mall Of America to do a smidge of shopping and watch the boys and m'am do a promo.  So, I'll be back with more news from Minneapolis!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hail, Hail Rock n' Roll. And the Thunderstudies

Greetings from Dallas, TX friends!  We are nearing the end of our 2nd week here in Dallas, and it's been pretty eventful thus far.  Only 2 more cities left before our "spring break", and though the show has been going extremely well, I think everyone is ready for a little break, and some much needed R & R.  But, regardless, we are still rockin', and here are some highlights from our time here in Dallas....

Things started off strong on opening night with a fantastic party at a gastro-pub, the Meddlesome Moth.  The presenters were nice enough to give us "goodie bags" with lots of snacks, magazines, and most importantly for the majority of the cast and crew......ENERGY DRINKS.  The following day, the boys and m'am did a promo at the Dallas House of Blues, gathering more momentum for ticket sales here in D town. 

The theatre is in a HUGE complex.  Closeby are a Vietnam memorial (the angels pictured above), an African-American Museum, a Women's Museum and the Cotton Bowl.  The Jam and I wandered around and took pictures for quite a while that first day; there's a large "exposition" building who's facade and murals represent different countries around the world.  It seems to be entirely empty, which is what was fascinating. 

Austin, the Jam and I ventured to Dealey Plaza and the 6th Floor Museum on Thursday last week.  Though I had been before, it was great to see it again.  Everything surrounding JFK's assassination is pretty dumbfounding, so to be there and take it all in is pretty amazing.  A bunch of us also got our hair cut at a great old school rockabilly barber shop, Rob's Chop Shop.  Other than giving us great haircuts, it was pretty cool to be surrounded by pictures of every character in the show, as well as our music director, Chuck Mead. 

On Monday night, I was asked to attend a private screening of Walk The Line and sign autographs, take pictures, answer questions, and most importantly for me, watch the movie on the big screen.  It was nice to be involved in an event geared specifically toward Johnny Cash, and yet be able to tell a new group of people about MDQ.  Also, it's always great to sign autographs for children; a sweet little girl and her mom had seen the show on Saturday, and came to the event just to get my autograph for her.  That was a very heartwarming moment. 

Now to the Thunderstudy excitement!  Though we always cherish the opportunity to go on, it's never pleasant going on in case of illness or injury.  Alyssa was the first to go on in Dallas, as she was swung in for Kelly.  Then the Jam went on for Lee.  Then I did two shows as Cash.  Then Billy and Austin went on for Cody and Martin.  Phew.  It's been a crazy week.  We're just waiting to see if David has the opportunity to go on, and then this would be the first city that EVERY understudy performed in.  Crazy!!!!

Tonight the cast and I are hosting Crew Appreciation Night at a local Mexican restaurant.  They all work so hard and don't get nearly the recognition they deserve, so this is our way of saying thank you to them for all they do.  We close on a Sunday matinee this week, and it just so happens that the In The Heights tour is in town, so a bunch of us are going to see the show that night!  It's always great to be able to see a show when the opportunity presents itself, in that we very rarely get that chance when we are performing all the time. 

Well, that's it from Dallas, y'all.  Much more to come as we head to Kansas City on Monday.  The Thunderstudy boys and I will be heading to St. Louis for a promo while we are there, so much more news to come!

Monday, March 5, 2012

"The fog at white and bright...."

Hello, folks, and welcome to my latest blog.  Please take the time to locate and identify the pictures above.  Ha!

It was a nice week in Houston.  Pretty low key, but overall great! 

The boys played a promo at the Hard Rock Cafe on Tuesday, and it really started the week off well.  Besides, it never hurts that whenever we do a promo at a Hard Rock, I get to get a jump on my pin collection....not to worry, I'll show you pictures of the over 50 pins I have thus far. 

We had a very nice opening party at Artista, a swanky restaurant attached to the GORGEOUS theatre.  Delightful finger foods, and a lot of happy donors and board members gushing about the cast, as well as our main man in Houston, Kenny.  More about Kenny in a bit. 

On Thursday, a few of us headed to the Rodeo!  Although we unfortunately didn't get to see any ridin' and ropin', we did get to see some livestock and shop at over 100 vendors' stands.  And most importantly, we sampled the finest fried foods and BBQ that the Rodeo had to offer.  I had the fried Oreos....mmmm.....Oreos....covered in powdered sugar and and caramel sauce.  Billy opted for the dumfounding FRIED KOOL-AID.  I'm not really sure I understand it....which doesn't really matter since it was DELICIOUS.  I guess they took the powdered red Kool-Aid, mixed it with batter, threw it into some oil.  Yumtastic. 
The rest of the gang continued to watch some of the livestock while I shopped and bought some ridiculously expensive and delicious salted almond caramel.  They saw a baby calf being born...and then the afterbirth.  Thankfully, I was buying food and missed that.......

On Friday, The Jam, Billy and I headed to the Museum of Natural History.  There was so much there, we never would've seen the whole thing in an entire day.  Here are the highlights:
First of all, they had a very informative insect display, and a huge greenhouse filled with more butterflies than I ever thought existed.  At the end, they had an insect vending machine.  No, that's not a joke.  Various insects in boxes in a variety of flavors, including BBQ, Cheddar, Sour Cream and Onion, Salt and Vinegar and Sweet and Sour.  The Jam went for it and bought some (gulp) crickets and (double gulp) larvae.  I took pictures.  I'm glad I did. 
They had a big "Civil War exhibit", which at first seemed a little dissapointing because it was a lot of pictures and information, but no artifacts.  We then turned the corner and found one of the largest private collections in the world....private, as in, owned by a married couple.  I forget the term, but every item in their collection can be traced to it's original owner, so everything has a unique and authentic story.  Most impressive in the exhibit however, was the ORIGINAL draft of the 13th Amendment.  A very enthusiastic museum worker talked to us at length about it, and noted that Abraham Lincoln used a full line to sign, and that generally he didn't sign his full name.  In this case, he signed his full name; a clear indicator that he was very proud of this monumental moment in Civil Rights.  As should be everyone in this country. 

On Saturday, Kenny (I mentioned him before.  He works for Broadway Across America, and was the most gracious host we have had yet on tour) took us all out to his restaurant, Kenny and Ziggy's.  First of all, it was like we stepped into a restaurant on 8th Ave in Manhattan.  Except for the fact that it was huge.  But, the walls were covered with Playbills, signed show posters from national tours and original Broadway casts, and caricatures.  Second, the food was INCREDIBLE.  I tried chopped liver for the first time; I have to say, I was surprised.  It was fantastic.  I tried a little stuffed cabbage which was also unreal, and then....the main course.  The best and biggest Reuben I've ever had.  Hot damn.  I wish I had one right now. 

Well, that's about it from Houston.  Again, a great week and a wonderful performing arts center.  Oh, one last thing.  They have a great giftshop there, and I wasted no time spending an obscene amount of money on cast recordings I didn't own yet.  Oh well.  It's tax deductible, and research.  They will come in handy. 

I'm writing this from Dallas, and I am already impressed.  Tomorrow I'll be heading to our promo at the House Of Blues, and then off to opening night.  More news to come from Dallas!  Stay tuned!