Monday, March 30, 2015

The land of beer and cheese again, illness, frozen Lambau Field and Detroit Rock City the 2nd time around

Young Auditorium, Whitewater, WI

The Grand Theatre, Wausau, WI 

The Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, Green Bay, WI

Detroit!  No visit would be complete without a stop at Hitsville, U.S.A.!!

Jimmy and Jake after our tour

A return to the Fisher Theatre in Detroit after having played there the 1st year.  Thankfully, they remembered the R it Detroit for the sign this time.....

The run down yet gorgeous National Theatre, Detroit 

The view of frozen Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

The look on my face as I walk out the stage door and someone asks (while wearing this outfit) if I was in the show.....

One of the best reuben sandwiches I have ever had, The Harbor House in Detroit

A gentleman sitting next to me at the bar drew this picture of me.  Well done, sir

Mr. Morrow looking suave behind the kit at the Fisher

Colte and I with a fan at the stage door in Detroit

My winnings from the Greektown Casino!!!

So, I'm a slacker.  Ok, that's really not entirely true.  Along with the busy weeks we've been having on tour, I have also been battling a couple of illnesses (very unlike me) and trying to get some rest on our two recent layoffs.  So, I apologize that the blog that follows is from a month ago, but nevertheless, I hope it will still entertain you.  Rather than belabor it any more than I have, here goes!

We started the long drive on Monday morning from The Gateway to the West on our way to Whitewater, WI.  If you recall from my last blog (when did I write that?  Like, 5 years ago?), I got some really nice pictures of the Arch in the fog and snow, just as the sun was rising.  The cold continued as we ventured back into the land of beer and cheese and Patrick.  It had been a bit since we had been in that neck of the woods because, if memory serves, the last time we were in Wisconsin was Madison toward the end of tour last year.  Though it was a lengthy drive, we got in with plenty of time to relax before our now not so uncharacteristic Monday night show.  Most people laid low before making the short rental car drive to the venue that evening.  There was a lot of excitement in the air; Patrick, Gabe and Aly all had family at the show that night, and Aly was on as Dyanne for the first time since the matinee in Portland, ME!  Following a great show that night at the Young Auditorium (above), the students at the university there threw us a very nice reception following the performance, and we were glad to mingle with them, our cast's multiple family members and other patrons while chowing on pizza and punch.  Most of us made our way back to the hotel that evening, though a small group comprised mostly of the Thunderstudies headed to Aly's family's home for a bit of a sleepover.  

The next morning, after a few inches of snow fall, we got on the bus at 11 for the short drive to Wausau.  Aly and the group made it back just barely in time, due to the unforeseen snowfall and a group effort of shoveling the entire driveway to give them room to get out.  But they made it!  Thankfully the drive was short, as I was starting to really not feel that well.  Once we arrived in Wausau, I laid pretty low in the warmth of my hotel room.  I decided, however, that I needed to get a bite to eat, so I headed to the strangely named but delightful Egbert and Gerbert's for some soup and a sandwich.  The show that night was in walking distance from our hotel at the Grand Theatre (above); a beautifully restored old venue seemingly made for our show.  David was on as Brother Jay that night, and we had a really amazing show!  I started to feel a bit worse that evening as the show went on, so by the time it was time to head home I was pretty wiped out.  After sitting in the hotel restaurant with a small group for a bit, I headed to bed in hopes of kicking the cold that seemed to be on it's way.  

Lo and behold, sickness found it's way to me and on Wednesday morning as we made the short drive to the frozen tundra of Green Bay, WI, I was feeling like hell warmed over.  Thankfully there was a restaurant in the hotel's lobby, so I was able to get a bite to eat not long after we got in, and then proceeded to rest as much as I could.  Other than the fact that I don't believe in calling out or talking a day off, I really would have to be so deathly ill that it would be completely impossible for me to perform.  Besides all of the above, that night in Green Bay at the Weidner Center (above) marked my 400th performance on tour!  Now, just to be clear, that is 400 overall for me as both Cash and Sam Phillips.  After Krug kept copious notes on numbers and times of performances for the first 3 years, I continued to keep track of things so I would be prepared for certain milestones, a few of which are approaching.  Jimmy was also on that night as Jerry Lee, and though I hadn't been feeling well, the show really did go very well.  Following the show I joined a group at the hotel restaurant for a bit before promptly heading to bed.  

We had a rather lengthy drive from Green Bay to Detroit on Thursday, but thankfully no show that evening.  Once we were settled in a very different area than we had been in 3 years prior (we stayed about 25 minutes away in Dearborn, MI) I desperately wanted to find some comfort food close by so that I could stay out of the cold as much as I could and feel better as quickly as possible.  On suggestion from Chuck and Anna who were there currently, I headed to the Harbor House for a bite with them.  And I was very glad I did.  After a great cup of clam chowder I had one of the best reuben sandwiches (above) I have ever had.  As we were eating, a guy next to us drew a picture of me (above; he failed to capture my profusely running nose) as well as of Chuck and Anna. 
Even though I wasn't feeling the greatest, I still wanted to host a little gathering, suggested by Patrick.  As we were in Detroit for the weekend, and because many of the cast had never been there or seen the film, I hosted a showing of Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.  The movie was made in the early 90's and is a documentary about the Funk Brothers; the instrumentalists responsible for the music on almost every Motown record, and more number one records than any single artist in the history of the record business.  And, as I intended to lead another group to Hitsville, U.S.A. (as I had 3 years prior) on Friday, I thought it might be appropriate for people to get some perspective.  So, quite a few people joined The Name Doppelgängers (Patrick and I; Morrow and Moreau) for the film and merriment.  Sadly, I was still not feeling well, so shortly after the film ended I had to call it a night.  

Still feeling sick as a dog, I braved the weather to take Patrick, Jake and Jimmy with me on my adventure.  Before heading to Hitsville, I took the boys to one of my favorite places to get an authentic Coney dog, LaFayette Coneys.  Next door is their rival, American Coney; now, three years ago I tried both and came to the conclusion that LaFayette was better.  So, the boys trusted my judgement and the lack of seats as an indicator that we were in the right place.  After a quick bite and a frigid walk to and from the car, I drove the boys to Hitsville (above).  It really is an amazing experience to go there.  The tour guides are always so fun and enthusiastic, and the music history that pours from the walls is more than palpable.  After a lengthy and informative tour and a few pictures (above), I brought the boys back to our hotel where I promptly laid down for a nap prior to opening night.  I felt quite a bit better, but not 100% by the time we got in the car to head to the Fisher that night.  It was great to be back at such a beautiful old theatre that, like the Fox in St. Louis, had treated us so well for the 2 weeks we had been there in our 1st year of tour.  Opening night rocked, as usual, and we were invited to an intimate opening night party at a nearby Italian restaurant following the show.  Though feeling better, with the double on Saturday I didn't want to push it, so Jake and I headed back to the hotel early.  

Saturday found me feeling quite a bit better, but still quite tired.  The matinee went very well, but I was really dragging in between.  After a quick rehearsal for our impending benefit in Alaska, I attempted to rest for a bit before we had company notes given by Ethan and Scott who had arrived the night before.  Following notes we worked a few things musically on stage before heading up to get ready for the show that night.  I was tired, but I pushed through and ended up having a really great show.  But after we got home, it was time for bed.  

Sunday was a day we had been looking forward to for a very long time; our last show before layoff.  Not only did we only have one show, but it was a matinee which meant that both the cast and crew would be done with work very early in the day.  After one of the better shows of the week, as well as the last minute addition of Skye on as Elvis, we all headed back to the hotel, and some of us our several ways.  I went to a Greek restaurant called Pegasus in Greektown with Gabe, Corey, Jimmy, Justin, Dani and Rachael for a really nice dinner that evening.  Knowing I didn't have all that early a morning and because I was feeling better, I was hoping to hang out a bit that night.  I had planned to drive to the MGM Grand Casino and join Bradley and David, but when I messaged them, they were within walking distance at the Greektown Casino.  Jimmy came along and after saying hi to Brad I was on a mission to find the game I wanted, and to win some money.  Strangely, both of those things happened.  After playing a Wheel Of Fortune game for a while and going up about $120, the game I had waited for finally became free; a slot machine based on the 60's Batman TV series.  It was glorious.  And as I sat in amazement, and as Jimmy looked on, my $20 initial investment quickly turned into $200.  Then $300.  Then $400.  Then $550.  It was then that I FINALLY told myself that I would only try and get another bonus until I got to $500.  And if I didn't, I would walk away.  And finally, I cashed out just under $500.  Not bad for a couple of hours at a casino, eh?

The next morning (and some that evening) the cast and crew went our several ways for our first week break since tour started.  Now, you may be thinking that we hadn't been out on tour all that long without a "break".  Well, dear readers, keep this in mind: In the first two years of tour, we played 55 cities total.  That's 55 cities in the better part of 19 months.  Last year, we played 75 cities from September-July, with quite a few weeks off.  This year, we played 34 cities in 8 weeks; was time for a break.  I hopped on the plane in Detroit and headed home to Maine for just a little stay.  I took the train to NYC the next day to stay in my dear friends AMAZING apartment on W. 29th St. between 9th and 10th.  Through my 5 days there I caught up with friends new and old, caught up with Billy, The Jam, Corey, Dan Mills and even Randy Redd, all MDQ alums from Broadway, off-Broadway and Tour.  Along the way I saw Jersey Boys (below) for the first time, caught one of the first post-opening performances of On The 20th Century complete with a talkback with the cast, and saw Billy and The Band perform twice.  I wouldn't say it was the most restful, but I certainly had a great time and it was certainly great to have some time off.  I departed NYC for Maine, and was greeted at the station by my parents.  I opted to check into a hotel in Portland, a short walk from the Jetport, because my flight to Anchorage the following day was at 6 AM.  And, I am VERY glad I did.  

So, there are the highlights from two of the last few weeks on the road.  Coming up VERY soon (I swear, this time) will be highlights of our first week long stay of the tour in Anchorage, and my post Anchorage layoff adventures.  That's it for now, but thank you for tuning in!  I promise to not let so much time pass in the future!!!!

Just before previews for our Mr. Phillips' (Eric Schaeffer) new Broadway show, Gigi!

Can't believe it took me so long to see it!

The Ghostbusters firehouse in TriBeCa

On The 20th Century in the heart of Times Square