Friday, December 21, 2012

A new brother in the City of Brotherly Love

The crew at the Magic Garden

Our first restaurant experience in Philly

The Liberty Bell....duh.....

Cody and Martin during the power outtage

Signed Playbills for BC/EFA

Independence Hall


As Christmas quickly approaches, I hope that everyone is staying warm and spending time with their loved ones.  Last week we were in Philadelphia, one of my favorite cities, and here is a little recap of the events of the week. 
Our flight out of Durham was delayed, so what was supposed to be a relatively quick travel day became a much longer one.  But, once we got into Philly, we were all ready for some food.  Billy and Rosie had spent quite a bit of time in Philly, so they suggested a place nearby our hotel, The Continental.  A kind of upscale dinner focusing on tapas, a group of about 9 of us went.  Wow.  One of the best meals on this leg of the tour by far.  We shared quite a bit of things, but probably the best thing I had was the lobster macaroni and cheese made with orzo pasta, and the French onion soup dumplings.  MMMMMMMMM. 
The next day a group of us went out for a smidge of sight seeing, despite the cold weather.  We walked to the "old city", and along the way, I saw from afar, many of the historical sights I've seen on my prior two trips to Philly.  One of my favorite places I've ever been, Independence Hall, home of the 2nd Continental Congress, and the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.  Now, having been there before, I opted not to go this time.  Philly is an amazing city with so much to I didn't want to go back to places I had already been. 
The cold-weary travelers stopped in for what turned out to be the longest wait for hot food in the history of the universe.....thankfully the food was good, or else they would've had a mutiny of leather-jacket-wearing, pompadour having, not so gentleman or lady-like people on their hands. 
On our way back to the hotel, we did stop at the Liberty Bell.  Though I had been there before, it was nice to stop in and see the finished complex surrounding it; it had been under construction the last time I was there.  And besides, it's the Liberty Bell; if you are in Philly, you kinda HAVE to see it.  And it is synonymous with freedom and it was a welcome visit.  Then it was off to get warm at our hotel and head to opening night.  The Forrest Theatre is one of the older theatres in Philly.  It truly looks like a slice of Broadway in Pennsylvania.  It also has the distinction of bein the only theatre I have ever played that has it's dressing rooms in a seperate, to explain, it's not as though the boys and m'am had to walk outside in the cold to get to stage.  But, there is a tunnel connecting the buildings to lead the actors to stage.  The show, as usual, went off without a hitch, and the Philly crowd really seemed to love it. 
One of the best parts of our week was that we were in such a great part of the city.  Shopping all around us, and TONS of food options.  The shopping was a plus, because I was able to get a few more things for Christmas, AND, to finally bet my BRAND NEW iPad mini replaced.  I was having a lot of problems with it, but the folks at THIS Apple store were nice enough to replace it for me.  Major weight off my mind. 
On Thursday, the Jam and I ventured to the Reading Terminal Market first Philly cheesesteak of the trip.  And....only my first of the day.....  The Market is this great place with tons of vendors...with everything from chocolate, to southern style BBQ, to the first ice cream made in America.  The cheesesteak was exactly what I wanted.  Hot, tasty, and great.  I also got to stop by the Hard Rock while we were there, so that small part of our trip was great.  We then met up with Corey, Billy, Rosie, Rob, and his wife Roisin.  We headed to South Street, one of my favorite places to shop in vinyl stores, and we got to see something that has always stuck with me about Philly; the Magic Garden.  I've passed by it the last two times I've been in Philly, but it was never able to be visited before this trip.  A guy (don't remember his name....oops....) started creating this MASSIVE sculpture in/on his house, and in a vacant lot.  It is comprised of glass, tile mosaic, plates, bicycle wheels....anything you can imagine.  It is truly stunning.  It's so amazing, it's hard to know where to look.  I took a ton of pictures, but they just don't do it justice.  See the one above with the blue glass bottles. 
From there, we headed on down South Street, where I got to visit one of my favorite stores, Crash Bang Boom; kinda like a non commerical Hot Topic.  And, I had my SECOND cheesesteak of the day.....ok, I split it with Jam, but still.  Jim's Steaks on South was quite good, but I think I preferred the one I got at the market.  As we continued on our trek, we headed down to the water, and then to a little place Billy wanted to show us....Delancy Street.  When Billy was in college there, he'd often walk down that street to calm himself and clear his mind.  It is an older, wealthier part of Philly that is filled with brownstones, coblestone streets, and quite a few old relics of America....for instance, one home had a "Don't Tread On Me" flag flying out front, the original symbol of the USA.  We walked close to 5 miles to and from South Street, so it was time to head home and rest a bit before heading to the show that night. 
On Friday, I ventured out on my own for the first time in the last few cities.  I walked quite a bit, and got to take in the sights in Philly I had never been able to see before.  I stopped by the Philadelphia Free Library, the Benjamin Franklin Institute, and the art museum, with the famous steps Rocky ran up, complete with a statue commemorating the movie (see above picture).  On the way back I took in the Rodin memorial, and stopped at Underdogs, a hot dog place close to the hotel.  I had walked about 4 miles before I got back to the theatre for rehearsal.  It's crazy to think that in the first year of tour, we only lost one technician, and one actress...well, not "lost", but they left us.  And, since this leg of the tour started, things have changed every couple of weeks.  In Philly, we welcomed the newest MDQ family member, James Barry.  He will be taking over as Carl Perkins in January, and I have to say, he's a pretty rad guy.  Now, he's a Red Sox fan and a native New Englander so I'm partial....but still.  We had a short music rehearsal with him, and I'm anxious to see just how great he will be; if he has that much of a grasp on the show after just a couple of days, the sky is his limit.  I should also mention, he was a part of the original cast of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson; a little-known show with great music, and an unorthadox manner of story telling.  He is a great addition to our little family. 
On Saturday, we experienced something we have yet to on tour: a power outtage. 
We were at the theatre, and just before half hour, the power in the entire theatre, as well as a few other buildings nearby, went out.  We were told that it would be at least an hour and a half before we'd get power back, so we made the best of it by standing in the emercency-light-lit hallways.  People get bored.....enjoy the videos below......
Along with eveything else above....we were also working on our newest project....our 2nd Christmas song for our battle with Once.  I have a lot of pictures from the audio recording....and the other portion I will not mention yet....suffice to say, it will be MONUMENTAL.  And I will make up for the secrecy with pictures and video at a later date. 
One of the most amazing things about Philly was that our BC/EFA campaign finished....and we raised $52,000!!!!! Pretty amazing for only 3 weeks of collecting.  Not only is it great that the Broadway and tour communities take part in such a worthy cause, but it's a great feeling to know that by presenting a show that people seem to love and asking for donations, we are able to help people who really need it at this time of year.  And to meet people in the audience who are living with AIDS, HIV or cancer and are so touched by our collecting is so heartwarming, and something I will never forget. 
Well, that's about it from Philly.  We are here in our nation's capitol, Washington, DC at the moment, and we are quickly approaching Christmas and New Years.  With all of the business, visits from family, fellow actors in Les Miserables and White Christmas nearby, I probably will wait until the end of our stay here to update you.  So, if I don't write before then, please have great Chrismases and New Years parties, and I'll write soon!

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