Thursday, June 18, 2015

Another week stop in Oklahoma, filled with great crowds and a lot of appreciation

The Blue Dome; not exactly sure what it was used for, but the whole district around it bears it's name

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center

Some new tour swag!

With a fan after our closing show

Hello everyone!  What do ya now?  My blog is long overdue.  Again.  Par for the course.  But, it was a great week with some really nice weather in Tulsa.  So, here are the highlights:

We had a moderately long drive ahead of us on Monday as we made our way from Kansas City back to Oklahoma.  The crew joined us on the trip, and after a few hours (which I slept through as usual), a lunch stop at a mall and some more driving, we landed at our hotel.  Thankfully it was only a few feet from the venue, and also in a really nice area of downtown with plenty of bars and food options around.  After settling in, I opted to eat at the hotel restaurant, as it was raining pretty heavily outside.  I had a really nice meal there, and after hanging with Frace and a few other people I decided to head back to my room early.  I have quite a few movies that I have purchased but have been waiting to stream, and that night I decided it was time to watch American Sniper.  It was well worth the wait, and I was glad to have knocked another movie off my list.  

After a late start on Tuesday, I walked all over the downtown area taking in the sights, and taking a few pictures.  The area I wandered the most was called the Blue Dome District, so named for the blue dome (above) that still stands in the area.  There were some great shops down there, featuring music and wares from lots of local celebrities including J.D. McPherson.  I window shopped for quite a while before heading into a local deli for a great turkey sandwich.  I made my way across town to check out the local minor league ballpark, and even stopped in to check out James E. McNellie's, a bar we would be heading to for a special occasion later in the week.  I went back to my hotel to chill for a bit before heading down to get a coffee in the great coffee shop in the lobby, and then making my way across the hotel's courtyard (see pictures above) to our venue, The Tulsa Performing Arts Center (above).  It was a really nice and modern venue, and we were very much looking forward to being there for the full week.  We all had swanky private dressing rooms, and the crew had a very smooth and quick load in which always puts everyone in a great mood.  Opening night went extremely well, and if the reaction we got from the crowd was any indication of what the week would be like, we were VERY happy to be in Tulsa.  Following the show I opted to go to the hotel bar for some food and a drink with Jake and Colte before turning in for the night.  

I got off to a late start on Wednesday; sleeping in and bumming around my room for quite a while before heading for lunch at the amazing local Mexican restaurant, El Guapo.  I hadn't had a chimichanga in quite a while, and had been hoping to find a place to get a really good one; I was not disappointed.  And, there chips and queso blanco really made the difference.  After a fantastic lunch, I wandered around a bit again before heading back to the hotel to chill for the rest of the day.  Another great show followed that evening, and while there Corey asked me to be a part of a reading for a new script he and Em had been working on.  So, after grabbing a bite at the hotel after the show, Gabe, Frace, Bryan, Jimmy, Em, Corey and Dani headed up to Jeff's amazing suite (complete with grand piano), to help them hear their words out loud.  It was a really great time; a very intelligent and thought out script, mirroring some of the recent racial and police enforcement issues that have been plaguing our country as of late.  Following a great reading, I made my way to bed.  

Thursday morning came very early for me, as I embarked on some early press with Gabe, and through the course of us doing a few interviews, we did easily one of the best radio interviews either of us had ever done.  Once back at the hotel, I climbed in bed and slept for most of the day.  After laying low and trying to chill for much of the day, I made my way to the theatre that night for another great show.  Following that, the cast and crew met at the nearby James E. McNellie's for what I have come to call "Crew Appreciation Night".  I started organizing it on our first tour because of our tireless and amazingly hardworking crew.  Though all of our crews have been great, I can easily say that no crew has deserved the cast's praise more than our current crew.  We had a really great night talking to different groups of people, and the folks at McNellie's were really on top of it; keeping a detailed tab for the crew, and not missing a beat with ordering food and drinks for everyone.  After the festivities, some people headed to the local dive bar Arnie's for a bit afterward.  I was ready to turn in, so I opted to head home before most folks. 

Friday brought some pretty heavy and awful rain, so I barely left my room for the day.  The only time I went out was to get food at the deli, and then returned to my room to stay warm and dry.  The show that night was probably our best yet, with an audience to match.  Later in the evening I headed to Arnie's and assumed I would be there by myself, but was shortly joined by Lou, Briggs and Anthony for the rest of the night.  After a great evening with the boys, it was time to rest and prepare for the double weekend.  

Saturday was a usual busy double day, but both shows went amazingly well.  I was pretty tired after the matinee, so I opted to head to my room and nap for a bit.  After an equally great evening show I was invited to embark on a little adventure that evening.  It was Justin's 25th birthday, and a few people were heading out to a local bowling alley to celebrate with him.  I had already been invited out by a few members of the crew, so I joined them for a quick bite at El Guapo that evening.  Then Rachael, Anthony, Briggs, Mary, Andrew and I headed to the local improv theatre for a shadow cast showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.  For those that have never partaken in this ritual, you sit and watch the movie with a group of people, shouting out audience participation words and phrases while watching a cast of "actors" act out the scenes on screen.  I have to say, I have done it a couple of times, and this cast was particularly awful.  We did have a great time together though, so the night was not a waste.  The movie ended quite late, so it was time to head home afterward and prepare for yet another double.  

Another two great shows followed on Sunday.  We were all pretty blown away by the folks in Tulsa, and though we had gotten restless with our out of character week sit down, we certainly weren't ready to leave the good people of Tulsa behind.  In between shows I got an amazing pizza (locally grown mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and garlic, and extra virgin olive oil) at STG before heading home to chill in the short break before the evening show.  Following our closing performance there, I headed back to my room to chill for quite a bit.  Later on, Gabe and I headed back to Arnie's for so much needed one on one buddy time.  We were out a bit late, but ended up heading home with more than enough time to get some rest before our travel day the next day.  

It was a great and eventful week in Tulsa, and I was so glad that it worked out for us to show our appreciation for the crew, which was WAY overdue.  It was sad to say goodbye to the amazing audiences there, but thus is our life out here on the road.  I hope you enjoyed this week's installment, and there are many more little bits and pieces of excitement headed your way soon!  Stay tuned for news from our next week of adventures! 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A strange little village in Florida, a day trip to Disney and another stop in KC

Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center, The Villages, FL

The Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, MO 

So glad I got to stop in this amazing baseball museum 

Another new MLB ballpark scratched off the list; and it only took me 3 trips to KC...

This is how we sound check in Florida

A great new meme of Jake!

My amazing digs in Orlando!

Taking Jake on his first trip to the happiest place on earth! 

Hey everyone!  I hope this blog finds you all well!  After a week of nasty weather in OKC and a week off in every corner of the universe, the cast, crew and I were very much looking forward to getting back to tour, and in Florida no less.  So, here's what we were up to this week:

My parents woke up early with me on that Sunday so that they could drive me to the airport to rejoin tour.  I had only had the previous day at home, but it was at least nice to be there for a bit with them and to see my brother.  I had a pretty easy travel day, and after leaving at about 8:45 AM, I was in Orlando in the mid afternoon, ready to meet up with Corey and Briggs to drive to our hotel.  There was a bit of a problem with getting our van, but after a bit of time it was figured out and the boys and I were on our way.  It was nearly 2 hours to the hotel, so we talked quite a bit along the way about our layoffs and also about our plans for our off days in the coming week.  We got to our hotel in the Villages in the late afternoon, and after I grabbed a quick bite and talked to my parents, the three of us went out on some errands.  It was great to be in the warmth and sunshine of Florida, and so I spent much of the early evening wandering around the odd complex that is the Villages, as well as laying low in my room.  Later on, Rachael invited me over for some pizza and laughs with her, Briggs and Mary.  The highlight of the night was when the ladies made me do all of my impressions of cast and crew members....most notably my Briggs with Briggs in the room...gulp.  It was a great little hang, but I was pretty tired from the travel day and thus I decided to make it an early night once we went our separate ways.  

I opted to sleep in a bit on Monday, and used much of the day to relax, while still getting out and about to see my surroundings.  I have to say....I know that the Villages is a very popular retirement destination, but it is definitely not my sorta place.  That said, the area was quite nice, and there were quite a few food options within walking distance.  I got quite a few things done during the day before walking the short distance from the hotel to the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center (above).  As I walked around the complex, I was surprised to find that it was actually a converted church.  A beautifully renovated space though, and we were very much looking forward to 2 shows there.  The crowd was more than enthusiastic that night, and thus we had a great opening night.  Following the show, quite a few people in the cast and crew (as well as the local crew) gathered at the Gator sports bar within feet of our hotel for some wings, drinks and conversation.  After being there for quite a while, I opted to head to bed as I knew I couldn't sleep the day away on Tuesday.  

Colte, Jake and I checked out of our hotel at noon on Tuesday, as we would be heading to Orlando to check into a resort that night after the show.  The three of us ran errands for much of the afternoon around the Villages and grabbed some lunch together before heading back to park at the theatre and kill some time before the show.  Jake and I got word that the Temptations had just moved into our hotel, and so we went by (like middle school girls in search of Justin Bieber) to see if we could run into them and offer them tickets to our show.  No dice.  But, we still had fun wandering around the halls trying to run into them.  After our star struck mishap, we walked around the Villages and grabbed some food before it was time to be at the theatre for the show that night.  Another great show followed, and the three of us jumped in the van and headed for Orlando.  The hour and a half drive seemed to fly by, and once we arrived we were famished, so we stopped in at Steak n' Shake for a bite to eat before heading to our resort hotel.  And man were we taken aback.  Jeffrey had booked the resort for quite a few of us, and we were more than pleased with what we saw when we arrived.  Jake, Colte and I had a massive two bedroom suite to share for the two nights we would be in Orlando, even though we wouldn't be there all that much.  The boys and I stayed up pretty late that night, and then it was off to bed in anticipation of the parks the next day.  

I woke up quite early on Wednesday morning, ready and raring to go to the Disney parks, and to take Jake for the first time!  I know most people think I'm crazy, but I always do all 4 Disney parks in one day; it's just the way I have found I like to do it.  It means a lot of walking, and about a 13 hour day, but it also means you get to see so much more of everything.  So, with Jake in tow, we headed all over the place, taking in as much Disney as we could (see multiple pictures above), starting with Animal Kingdom, then Epcot, followed by Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and then back to the Magic Kingdom to finish the evening.  I was really impressed that Jake kept up with my furious pace, and I really think he enjoyed the whole day.  I had built up my favorite ride, the Tower of Terror, to him because of his love of the Twilight Zone, and I was pleased when he adopted it as his favorite ride as well.  Thankfully we got to ride it a couple of times before the night was over.  After a long day out and about, we headed back to our hotel shortly before midnight to greet Colte, talk about the day, and eventually pass out in anticipation of the travel day to follow.  

We again checked out at noon from our Orlando hotel, knowing that we had a bit of time to kill before heading to Tampa to fly with the cast and crew to Kansas City.  The three of us decided to head to Downtown Disney to walk around for a while and to get some lunch before the drive.  We ended up heading to Wolfgang Puck's for lunch, and then we went our separate ways to wander a bit. I couldn't believe how much the area had changed in the few short years since I had been down there. After some window shopping and such, the boys and I made our way from Orlando to the Tampa airport, dropping off the rental car and meeting up with everyone in the cast and crew to make our direct flight in the early evening to Kansas City.  Once in, we made the short drive to the Hotel Phillips, one I had been to before, though not when we played KC in Year 1.  Once settled, I was ready to rest for the night.  

As seemed to be the usual for me, I had started not feeling well yet again.  I had early press by myself that morning, and felt progressively worse as time went on.  After getting back to the hotel in the late morning after a few radio and tv interviews, I decided to head to urgent care to get myself checked out.  I was in and out pretty quickly, and was just told I had a bit of a virus.  With some medicine in tow, I headed back to my hotel to sleep the day away.  I was feeling a bit better that evening as the boys and I made our way to the Starlight Theatre (above) on the outskirts of Kansas City.  It is a pretty massive complex, and we were astonished at just how many seats the place had; something like 12,000 I think.  And they do shows rain or shine....this comes in a bit later.  So, after a sound check in front of quite a few audience members and meeting Jake's good friend Cliff, we made our way on stage for opening night.  The crowd was quite large considering the venue, and were extremely responsive to us.  We thought it might be hard to hear them with nothing to reverberate their applause, but they were with us the whole time.  Following the show they threw us a lovely opening night party in a courtyard adjacent to the theatre.  It was really only the cast and a few crew members, but we all had a great time enjoying some wonderful food and conversations.  I wasn't feeling the greatest, so Jake and I opted to head home early and get some rest before the onslaught of weekend shows.  

I got to sleep in on Saturday and was feeling quite a bit better.  I made my way to Latte Land close by for some coffee before heading to Joe's BBQ with Rachael, Anthony and Mary.  I had no idea what to expect, but they swore it was some of the best BBQ around.  After waiting for quite a while to make it into the gas station surroundings, we opted to order our food to go, which made the wait much quicker.  We took our food back to the hotel and chopped while talking a bit of shop on the hotel's mezzanine level.  We were all pretty tired after eating so much, so I adjourned to my room to nap before the night's show.  The show that night was pretty rough; the crowd was a bit smaller due to the pouring rain, and I think they were all focused on how soaked they were getting during our show.  They clearly enjoyed it, but were a bit preoccupied.  I can't imagine sitting in the pouring rain for 2 hours for a show.  Regardless, the show came own and we made our way back to the hotel in the rain, and I went to bed early yet again after getting some pizza.  

Sunday was much the same; a dreary and rainy day.  But, I took the opportunity to head to the nearby Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (above) to take the tour, and then out to Kauffman Stadium (also above), home of the Kansas City Royals.  I had a great day just walking around and taking pictures before heading back to the hotel for a little rest before our final show that night.  The show also marked our official goodbye to Bradley, who would be leaving us that evening to head to Branson, MO to start rehearsals as Carl Perkins in their upcoming production of MDQ.  After a tearful "Happy Trails" (below) we went onstage for yet another rainy performance.  Thankfully it was a bit less rainy than the night before, and the show went much better.  After that, I headed home to chill for a while, and then ended up meeting some of the crew at a local bar, The Quaff for a bit before turning into a pumpkin that evening.  

Well, there you have our eventful week!  Up next is our fantastic week sit down in Tulsa, so make sure to stay tuned for that in just a few days!  I hope this finds you all happy and healthy!