Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Sweetest Place On Earth, Beardos, and old friends

Hello, and greetings from Hershey, PA!  It was a pretty great week despite the snow, cutting winds and bitter cold.  Here are some of the highlights!
When last we left our heroes, we were making our way from Schenectady, NY where I had just rejoined the tour after my week in Arizona.  We arrived in Hershey late Monday afternoon, and looked forward to all the day held on opening day. 
I woke up pretty early on Tuesday morning to drive Austin to the theatre to tune the pianos, and then to Harrisburg to pick Vince up from the train station after he took a couple of days in NYC.  And, Cody rejoined us in Hersehy after a month traveling around doing that whole....ya know....Elvis thing. I dropped them off at the theatre for a rehearsal (I did quite a bit of running around that day) and then went home to chill a bit before opening night. Having worked at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in Lancaster for quite a while, I knew the Lancaster County area quite well, AND I had quite a few friends coming to our opening show. Unfortunately, I had explained to them that it was near impossible for me to go on on opening night in any city, unless it was an absolute emergency. So, I went to the theatre for our orientation as usual, and after taking my pictures of the lobby and house (what a gorgeous theatre! Pictured above), I went to my dressing room to find something to do for the evening. No sooner had soundcheck started, did I get a phone call from one of the stage managers asking me to come to the stage.....I was being called on to be Johnny Cash. Now, I've done the show on relatively short notice before, but only twice when I was already at the theatre. The first was when I went on opening night in Minneapolis as Sam Phillips. So, I went through sound check, keeping an eye on the time, knowing that I needed to get to Susan and get into my wig as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I was trying to let all of my friends know that I was on, and to breath as much as I could.
Opening night went extremely well, and I couldn't have been happier to be able to perform for my friends. It had been 2 years since I had seen any of them, and it was a great way to catch up. After the show, we headed to a local bar, Finnici's, to have a bite to eat and enjoy a coctail and some nice conversation. The next day, I read the review.....I was shocked, humbled, and quite pleased. I won't bore you with what it said, but you can find it on my website,
Because I had spent so much time in the area, I offered to bring a group to Amish country. So, Wednesday morning, Corey, Ben, Billy, Rosie and I headed off on a little road trip. We stopped first in Lancaster to see my friends who had seen the show the night before, and they welcomed us with open arms; giving us a tour, and making my cast mates feel as though they had worked there for years. After that stop, we headed to a few of my favorite places in Intercourse (see Ben with the welcome sign above) and Bird-In-Hand. The first stop was the Mt. Hope Winery. All of their wine is made locally, AND they had renovated the space to add a brewery! After sipping a bit, and trying their new beers, we headed to the Kitchen Kettle Village, one of my favorite stops. There they have a fudge shop (which, was closed unfortunately. I missed seeing my dear friend Deb who works there), a smoke house (with the best sweet bologna and cheeses I've ever had), various little shops, and the queen of them all....the Jam and Relish Kitchen. There, you can sample everything they have to offer; jam, relish, pickles, hot sauce, cookies, pie....EVERYTHING. It's one of my favorite places, and was a hit with my pals. I couldn't leave empty handed, so to compliment my bologna and cheeses, I picked up some honey mustard, pickled beets, cookies, and a new addition....BACON FLAVORED PICKLES....MMMM....PICKLES.....MMMM.....BACON.
After a quick trip to the Olde Candle Barn, we made our way to a place I had never been: the Shady Maple Smorgasbord.  Now, I had heard a lot about this place, and that it was supposed to be the best buffet around (pictured above).  However, I didn't know it was HUGE.  It could've easily seated 2,000 people at once.  Options upon options; hot buffet, salad bar, made to order, desserts....just unreal.  It was a major hit with my people, and we left there stuffed.  I should point out, that as we drove around, Ben would point out every Amish person we saw....and jokingly referred to the bearded Amish men as BEARDOS.....I don't know why, but I found it so damn funny, and it was one of the highlights of the trip for me. 
On Thursday, Billy, Rosie, Jam and I braved the wind and the cold to head to one of my favorite places, Hershey's Chocolate World.  With a cute little tour, a 3D movie, a chocolate tasting and the biggest selection of Hershey's related products you have ever seen, it is a great time.  And a trip there is not complete without getting a shake, or on this cold day, a hot chocolate. 
There was a lot of hibernation going on among the cast, but I did head out on Friday to take one more trip to Lancaster to say goodbye to everyone.  I planned on stopping by a few places downtown, but a few of them had permanently closed, and it was way too cold out there. So, I headed back to Hershey and warmed up inside before heading to the theatre that night. 
Saturday was the eve of Jam's birthday, and so we headed out to a local bar for some food.  I had some amazing crab and havarti dip.  I think he had a pretty great time, and it was awesome to be able to show him some love on his special day...or the eve of it, anyway. 
Sunday marked our last day in Hershey, the Superbowl, and also the 56th anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper.  Having to be at the theatre, I got the idea that the Thunderstudies should order some pizza and have our own little party while we watched on Austin's giant computer screen.  That really was a lot of fun.  When not watching the game I paid tribute to the Day The Music Died by listening to all three artists' songs.  Overall, it was a great way to end the week. 
I am writing you for Columbus, OH where we have just finished our week.  The trip here was long, cold and snowy, but we were thankful to be here in one piece.   It has been a big, eventful week for MDQ, but I will save that for my next blog!  I hope everyone is staying warm, and not wearing themselves out shoveling that snow!  Please take care, and I'll be back with more in a couple of days! 

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