Sunday, December 1, 2013

Beautiful places, wide open spaces...and then there was Fresno.....

Outside our hotel in San Luis Obispo

Buena Vista, indeed

A preview of our new tour photos. Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

Another gorgeous view on our treks through California

The Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, CA

Me and the boys hanging out in my room in Prescott,AZ

Our tag backstage at in San Luis Obispo

The Cohan Centerf at Cal Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, CA

The Saroyan Theatre, Freso, CA

One of the many dilapidated theatres in downtown Fresno

The Fox PAC in Riverside, CA

Outside city hall in Prescott

Angry skies in Precott

The Yavapai Performing Arts Center, Prescott, AZ


Hello everyone!  Our California adventure continues!  Another crazy week here on the left coast, and a week sit down to look forward to next week!  Let's get rolling!


On Monday, we left Modesto and headed straight to the gorgeous little village of San Luis Obispo.  The drive was, yet again, breathtaking, and unfortunately we had very little time to see any of the sights in SLO because we only had the one evening there.  And, I might add, one of only 2 shows I have ever done on a Monday; the first was when we were in Tokyo on tour.  A very nice performing arts center awaited us on the campus of Cal Polytech, and though my car was stopped by campus police (a misunderstanding; they didn't know we had clearance to drive in a restricted area and park next to the theatre.  It was all cleared up.  Phew!)  Following another great show with an audience to match, the cast and I did a short meet and greet following the show with some of the theatre's donors, as well as a group of students.  One of our producer's has a daughter attending Cal Poly, so we were not only able to visit with him and his family, but also talk to some of her classmates.  Following the meet and greet, we headed back to the hotel and quite a few of us headed to get some food at Pappy McGreggor's.  A great little spot with some pretty good food.  Apparently they get a lot of English and Australian tourists there, as it is a popular stop between Northern California and Los Angeles.  I wondered why I was hearing so many Australian accents around me.....


We boarded the bus again the next morning, Tuesday,  and took the trip to Fresno.  We arrived in the mid afternoon and had a show that evening, so my exploration was limited.  I walked toward the theatre and found a Starbuck that was open, and did a little walking around before heading back to the theatre for our first of two shows there.  For a town that looks like it has been hit by a neutron bomb, the audience was pretty awesome that night.  A few of us headed to the casino next to our hotel for food after the show, as it was really one of the only places around to get food, especially late. 


On Wednesday, I did my best to walk around a bit.  I have to say....we've been to some sketchy places.  But Fresno may have to top my list.  We have a little inside joke on tour; anytime we go to a place that isn't the greatest, we say "At least it's not Detroit".  Though there were some things to see in the Motor City, it certainly was a bit scary, and there were some other not so great things to happen there.  But, Fresno has stuck with me as being a pretty awful place, even more so than Detroit.  Homeless everywhere...and not the type that are sleeping on the street, the type that yell at you and accost you for money, help, cigarettes, etc.  And no form of commerce to speak of in the area we were staying in.  The ONLY redeeming quality I could find in that area of Fresno (which was awesome and sad at the same time) were the multitude of theatres in the area that have either been abandoned or turned into churches.  Perfect for pictures, but not much else.  I got dinner at Starbucks (sad, I know) and headed to the theatre.  When I got there, I was greeted by an unpleasant sight; some things had been stolen from my dressing room.  A Jawbone speaker I had bought at the beginning of tour and kept in my makeup kit had been stolen, as well as my show wedding ring.  As we travel the country and stop in so many places, it's sometimes easy to forget that we are sometimes in awful places where people will kill their mother for a dollar.  My things being stolen for their "value" wasn't the issue.  The issue was the idea that I couldn't leave anything in my dressing room unattended, even with a security guard at the door.  It didn't bode well for my show that night, but I put my personal feelings aside and did my best to do the show that I always do.  Despite the shady characters in Fresno and at the theatre, the audience lifted all of our spirits, as did the fact that we were leaving this hell hole the next day.  I went to the casino for some delectable food after the show, and packed my things, eager to leave the armpit of California (I should say, I don't often have a lot of negative things to say about towns/theatres, so this should be an indication that our time in Fresno was really not all pleasant). 


We boarded the bus on Thursday, thankful that we were all physically intact, and headed to Riverside, CA.  This was our first day without a show in 9 days, and we had done 11 shows in that span.  We may have had a lengthy drive, but we all looked forward to the evening off.  It rained most of the day, and following our move in, in continued to get worse.  I took a little walk down the street to CVS and Starbucks, but following that, I had no interest in leaving my room.  I ordered a pizza, enjoyed my luxurious (no joke) hotel room, and looked forward to our poker game in the lobby that evening.  It was a small, intimate game, but it went really well.  And I won!  So...there's that....


Friday was pretty cold and rainy, so I didn't venture far.  CVS and Starbucks became a popular stop in this town for me, so that was as far as I went before the show that night.  I headed off to the theatre that night, and we were greeted by a beautiful theatre, a great audience, and the approaching week sitdown in Palm Desert.  After leaving the theatre that night I headed to a nice little spot in downtown called ProVbition, and enjoyed a cocktail on the outdoor patio in the crisp California air.  We had an early on Saturday morning, as we had a very long drive to Prescott, AZ the next day. 


It was a long bus ride on Saturday, but it was pretty pleasant.  It was, however, pretty cold when we arrived in Prescott.  At least, colder than you'd expect from Arizona.  After driving through the mountains for what seemed like an eternity, Prescott rose above the vast wilderness like a beacon.  We settled into our cozy hotel, and thankfully there was a nice little strip mall next door with a grocery store and few food options.  Most of us hunkered down for the night, and I ended up hanging out with Frace for much of the night. 


Sunday brought more cold weather, but I braved it to explore the downtown area a bit, getting some really nice pictures in front of city hall, and did my best to see the area.  I took the long, cold walk to the theatre, but I had no idea what the evening would hold.  Look...I've played a lot of theatres on this tour, and on other tours, and in my regional/dinner theatre career.  But man....there wasn't much that was going right for this theatre.  They had no where near enough dressing rooms to handle us (and we are a REALLY small show compared to most other Equity Broadway tours).  So, there was that.  Then there was the fact that they didn't attempt to have programs for our show....embarrassing, not only on face value, but because one of the presenters claimed to the audience that they were "seeing us before they open the show in Vegas"; perhaps if this was the fall of 2012, he MAY have at least been CLOSE.  But, WOW.  Seriously???!!!  A weird venue and a weird show overall (unfortunately it was also Rob's first turn at Elvis since we opened the show at the Kennedy Center in October) was only made worse by the fact that the theatre's power grid couldn't handle our show, so the last 1/4 of the show was done in almost no light as our amazing crew scrambled backstage figuring out how to fly by the seat of their pants.  They did a hell of job to work with what they were given, and despite the theatre's technical limitations and us doing the show with only spotlights for a while, the audience was very appreciative and pleasant.  We made our way home that evening, and most of the boys stopped by my room for some conversation, cocktails and geeking out on some music.  It made the day a whole lot better. 


We boarded the bus early Monday morning, knowing not only that our amazing crew wouldn't have to work that evening, but that we all had a week in Palm Desert, CA to look forward to.  As we end our week there, I have much more to tell you in next week's blog.  Thank you for continuing to tune in, and I hope you have enjoyed my accounts of the tour thus far.  There is much more to come as we approach our 3 week break for Christmas.  See you next week for news from Palm Desert!

1 comment:

  1. You do realize Fresno is the 5th biggest city in CA right? if you visit some of the other big cities you will find the common problem of homeless in the downtown area. And as you posted this in 2013, Fresno has greatly improved with downtown going through a revitalization. In fact it is considered safer than some of the other big cities in CA--SF, Oakland, Sacramento, LA:
    Unfortunately at the time you visited, downtown was definitely a big meh. For a big city it's downtown is what was heavily lacking, but you will find now that it has greatly improved.
    But even back then it's no detroit. Shame on you. No CA city compares to detroit.