Friday, March 29, 2013

"Is This Heaven?" "'s Iowa....."


Hello, everyone and welcome to this week's action packed blog!

I'm kidding.

Now, I certainly don't want to give Iowa or Des Moines a bad rap, but I will preface the rest of this blog by saying that there was not a whole lot of excitement this week. That said, the highlights of the week are pretty extraordinary. And, even if the week was a little "boring" or laid back...we will certainly need it before we head into the hectic week in Memphis.

We left Atlanta bound for the Midwest yet again, and for what was hopefully our lady stint with winter. But, Iowa certainly had some cold in store for us. The days hovered just barely above freezing, and the nights dropped below it.  We even had our last taste of snow (video below). 

Tuesday was a relatively uneventful day, but opening night was pretty amazing.  The audiences in Des Moines were easily in the top 5 of ALL of the cities we have been to thus far.  We had an opening night party across the street at a seafood place called Splash following the performance, and then headed back home in the bitter cold. 

We layed pretty low on Wednesday, and Thursday.  

On Friday morning, I went on a short trek to buy the newly released Les Miserables movie on DVD, and then picked up Ben to make a monumental buy him his first baseball glove.  There was a mall pretty close to us, so I took him to Scheels, a GIGANTIC sporting goods store, where we had a plethora of glove choices.  After we picked one out for him, I decided to get another one for myself....I had always wanted a 1st base mitt, so I got one! (picture above).  A bunch of us headed into work early to rehearse for our upcoming week in Memphis. Austin and Billy wrote some fantastic songs for Cody, and so the majority of the cast was asked to either play or sing back ups for him (pictures above). It proves to be an amazing time and a highlight of our week in Memphis. That night, I was lucky enough to go on as Sam Phillips and experience the amazing audiences for myself.  It went extremely well, and I couldn't have been more pleased with the evening.  I even collected for BC/EFA (more on that later). 

Saturday was pretty slow, but I certainly made up for it on Sunday, having a rehearsal with Corey and James for MY Sun session in between shows, and I even got to go on for BOTH shows as Johnny Cash!!  Again, the audiences were just unreal.  And the response I got while collecting afterward really warmed my heart.  Before our rehearsal, I treated James and Corey to Fong's Pizza; now there's a brilliant idea....chinese food on pizza.  My crab rangoon pizza was pretty amazing, and I'm glad I didn't pass up the opportunity to go.

To top off the amazing audiences we had in Des Moines, they also helped us to raise what I believe was a one week record for us on tour....$28,500....which is pretty amazing.  Again, it's just so amazing to be a part of such an important fundraising effort.  Stay tuned for how much we raise when it's all said and done!

The week, overall, was lowkey.  But, that was probably a good thing considering our insane week coming up in Memphis, where I am writing you from as we speak.  I don't want to spoil a thing, so I will bid you adieu for now.  I hope everyone is having a great early spring!!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind"





Hello, everyone! I hope this week's blog finds you well! After our first foray into warm weather in Texas after a few months, we headed to Atlanta; which, unfortunately, was not HOTlanta. But, it was still a great experience! I will preface this blog by saying that I honestly didn't do a whole lot of sight seeing while in town. Perhaps it was our location in midtown, or perhaps I'm just being lazy.....that does not mean, however, that there are no highlights from our week. I assure you, that is quite the opposite.

We arrived from Texas on Monday night, and were greeted with high winds and heavy rain. Fun. Especially when there wasn't much within walking distance from the hotel. But, I decided to brave the elements and walk to get dinner. Not far from the hotel was Gladys Knight's Famous Fried Chicken and Waffles. Now, this entree is a relatively new addition to my palate. However, it's fantastic. And if you think it sounds strange, or you haven't tried it yet, I highly suggest you do. Now, if you don't like chicken OR are out of luck. But, if you like one or the other, and enjoy salty and sweet at the same time...this is for you. The first place I had it was actually at the HOME of the dish, Roscoe's in Los Angeles. Now, this was quite different; the same extremely long wait to be seated, but Gladys' is much more of a fine dining restaurant. And, unlike Roscoe's, they have a number of different dishes on the menu. But, when the place has a food item in the title....shouldn't you just get that? I did. And it was fantastic. The chicken leg I got was probably the largest, juiciest chicken leg I have ever had. That, and the fluffy waffle made it pretty amazing, and well worth the wait.

On Tuesday, I ventured out a bit around the hotel, and took a trip to one of my favorite places to visit in any city, The Hard Rock Cafe. Since I was young, I have always liked going to them to look at the memorabilia and dine. Now, I mostly just go, look around a bit, and buy a pin. While shopping, I was stopped by a woman who was working in conjunction with the Fox Theatre, where we were to open that night. She had been instrumental in constructing the display in the lobby, featuring items used by the Quartet. She asked if I wouldn't mind taking a picture with her for their Facebook page. I did, (picture above) and she even bought me a free pin! To be fair, I bought 3 others before she even approached me. After a quick bite to eat, I headed off to the theatre....which, by far, was MY highlight of Atlanta....The Fox Theatre. Built in 1929 while the country was in the midst of the Great Depression, it was originally constructed as a meeting place for the large population of Shriners in Atlanta. It is a tribute to a bygone era, and an unreal place to play. Like most theatres of that time, it went through many changes; it was a movie house, then theatre, B movie house, closed down, fell into disrepair, was saved from the wrecking ball, and has now been revived and is truly stunning. It was built to mimic a castle in the mideast, and really looks like something out of Aladdin. It seats about 5,, it's a MASSIVE house. It has a few ballrooms, and some little hidden nooks and crannys (pictures above)....but more on that later. Opening night was a resounding success, and we all headed to the opening night party at Gordon Biersch, where we once again had a beer made in our honor.

The following day, I took a cab to the far reaches of Atlanta to see something I have wanted to see forever...yet another ballpark...Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, I had just missed the opportunity to go into the Braves Museum, but I at least got to walk around and take a ton of pictures (above). I, of course, am I die hard Red Sox fan, but the Braves have always been my favorite National League team. Such great players and history. In fact, though they have changed names and locations quite a bit before the 1960's, they are the longest operating baseball franchise in the country. I got a cab back home after my visit, and waited until the show.

On Thursday I ventured to the Varsity, a local burger joint, for dinner. It's set up very much like a school cafeteria, with the workers at the counter yelling "Whataya Have????!!!!!!" After the show, I went to a bar next to the Fox called the Publik House and caught up with some friends. It's always so much nicer to be in a city where you know people; it makes the road not seem quite so lonely.

Friday was a very lazy day for me. I'm not sure I left my room for more than 5 minutes before work. Oh well. Some days are just like that.
Saturday, in between shows, our company managers hosted a meal at Mary Mac's Tea Room.  It was a way of thanking us for our hard work over the last few months, and for us to sample some of the best southern home cooking that Atlanta has to offer.  We had a nice private room, and we didn't hold back from ordering anything and everything on the menu.  I ordered fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, potato salad, macaroni and cheese and some amazing cornbread.  It really was a nice way to spend the time between with the cast. 
Similarly, on Sunday before our final show, we went on a tour of the Fox, and we able to see a few things that the general public can't, as well as getting some more history about the building.  It truly is stunning. 
I'm also pleased to say that this week we started collecting for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids again, and in just one week at the Fox, we raised a whopping $18,000!!!  It's a pleasure to raise money for such a worthy cause, and an amazing organization.  I can't wait to see how much we raise when it's all said and done!
Well, that's about it from Georgia!  I'm writing you from Des Moines, Iowa, were we have stepped back into frigid temperatures.  But, we are bound to have a great week here after our our opening night.  So, here's to the start of spring, and that we can benefit from warmer temperatures soon.  Take care, everyone! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

"You may go to hell. I, will go to Texas"

Hello, everyone! I hope everyone is doing well! This past week found the Million Dollar Quartet National Tour in Fort Worth, Texas.  Which, let me tell you, was a welcome change from the cold we had been experiencing in the Midwest and Northeast.  We stepped off the plane in Dallas/Fort Worth, and were greeted with 80 degree weather....what a relief.  I spent most of that first evening just chilling at the hotel, but got my dinner across the street at Jake's Burgers...and had the best cheese fries I've ever had.  Mmm mmm mmm. 
On Tuesday, I walked around quite a bit, taking in the area around the hotel and theatre.  I had played the gorgeous Bass Hall (pictures above) before 6 or 7 years ago when I was on tour with Nebraska Theatre Caravan's production of A Christmas Carol; but the area has built up quite a bit.  So, I felt very turned around in a city I thought I had remembered quite well.  That night, the show opened well and without a hitch as usual.  Our opening night party was at PF Chang's, one of my favorite restaurants, and once they closed, a few of us headed to a local favorite, the Flying Saucer.  Which, incidentally, was where our promo was planned for the next day.  So, Wednesday morning came, and the boys, m'am and I walked to the Flying Saucer for a promo on a gorgeous day in downtown Fort Worth.  It was probably the best promo we have ever done, and there were TONS of people out there (videos below).  A local bakery, the Cupcakery, made a signature MDQ cupcake that they were selling in their store, and brought a few of them as well as an MDQ logo cupcake for us to bring back to the rest of the cast (pictured above).  Following a great meal, I walked around that area, Sundance Square, and visited a few local businesses.  The Texas Rangers' Team Store had some shirts that were ridiculously priced, but after a few other stops I decided to get a new western shirt at Leddy's, a mainstay of Fort Worth.  I kept walking, and not far from our hotel I found the Hilton, which happens to be the hotel that JFK spent his final night in before that fateful day in Dallas the following day.  There was a beautiful memorial to him (pictured above) that I spent quite a bit of time at.   
Thursday came and went pretty quickly, but I did have rehearsals for both my session at Sun Records and Cody's.  Memphis is creeping up on us, so we are all trying to make sure we are prepared when the time comes to get the most out of our sessions. 
On Friday, I took a cab down to the historic Fort Worth Stockyards; just a very interesting area, and a glimpse into what Fort Worth looked like in a bygone era (pictures above).  I walked around for quite a while, taking in the sights, taking pictures, and I even got a hot dog at the Love Shack, known more for their burgers, but it made a great snack as I walked around in the drizzling rain. 
Saturday and Sunday came and went with little excitement other than our typical 4 show weekend.  On Monday, we were carted off to the airport to make our way to Atlanta, which is where I am writing you from now. 
So, I hope this week's blog finds you well.  I've been enjoying my time here in not-so-HOT-Lanta thus far, and getting to see some of my friends from the Springer Opera House.  But, more about that next week.  Until then, take care!