Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where on earth is Shubuta?

We did a pretty good show today in Columbus, MS. Nothing amazing, nothing terrible. For every show on the road that captures lightning in a bottle, we have to be prepared for a dozen serviceable shows. But the highlight of the trip today was a stop at McCoy's gas in Shubuta, MS, where we met a high school teacher who had just taught R&J to her students. While standing barefoot with her daughter with her, she told us that her students really didn't understand the language of the play. For instance, she said they couldn't understand Mercutio when he says "you shall find me a grave man." She was excited to hear that we were performing the show as we toured, and she was glad that we were doing it.

Now we're chilling in our Ramada Inn in Mobile, AL, and we have a show here tomorrow morning. Then we're driving down to the French Quarter in New Orleans to celebrate Halloween. I don't have a costume planned out, but I've got a great t-shirt all ready to go, and I'm planning to buy a kick-ass mask in town that I can possibly use in the party scene in the show. But we've got nothing much to do tonight, since most of the local downtown is closed except for the bars, but we might watch a movie.

I'm sure I'll have many more stories from the Big Easy. I need to get a camera of my own...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Long trip to southern Alabama

It was really hard to tear ourselves away from the beach house in Florida this morning, especially after a wonderful breakfast with elements cooked by yours truly. I then saddled into the driver's seat, and I took the van and trailer over 200 miles all the way up through the Florida panhandle, and all the way into southern Alabama before we stopped for dinner, and I had had enough driving. So Frank came in and closed out the day, and now we're sitting in our hotel room in the Days Inn playing Settlers of Catan. But I'll be honest, my mind is only half in the game. I'm writing this entry as other people take their turns and watch the football game (despite my best efforts to both turn the TV off as well as mute it.) I don't understand how my fellow folk can play a game while being constantly distracted by the idiot box. Now, I love the idiot box, don't get me wrong. But if we're playing a game, we should be playing the game. I mean, we're even distracted by commercials.

This was a very mundane day. We cleaned up the house, and then drove across a lot of highway, before coming to rest at a basic pit-stop on our road to our next theatre on Tuesday. Not always a glamourous life, but it's the inbetweens between the fun.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shopping cart disaster

A few entries ago, I spoke about our escapades with a shopping cart. Now I've attached some pictures, including a triumphant pose as the adventurers sally forth, as well as a picture of the gory aftermath. Enjoy!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ain't So Bad After All

Yes, your comments on the previous post did make me realize I have it pretty sweet. We had a good show this morning in the Tampa Theatre, an absolutely beautiful house. A picture of the theatre space is to the right, with both the proscenium art lit up and the ceiling lit to create the night sky. And now we have the weekend off before we go back to performing on Tuesday. We're staying at a cast member's beachhouse in St. Petersburg, FL for the next few days, before we drive out to Alabama on Sunday afternoon. We're looking to go minigolfing tomorrow, followed by a seafood dinner tomorrow night. And as regards the last post, I'm going to come through this tour with flying colors and then when I get home to Philly, I'll start working on that TV and film career.
After take-out dinner tonight, we sat down at watched Baz Lurman's Romeo + Juliet, which I had never seen before. It was amazing to see such a wild and energetic film version of the play we're working on, and their Mercutio was incredible. I now have two other Mercutios in my mind, and it's really exciting to see the choices that those different actors made. I'm not stealing ideas from either of them, but I'm letting their work shade some moments that I've been having trouble with. Frank (Romeo) and I were excited to watch the film, and we kept looking at each other, pointing at the screen, and saying "I miss that line," "I wish we were doing that," or "that makes so much more sense!" It was both frustrating and wonderful to watch the movie, but I'm glad we made it a cast thing.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not always the best job in the world

Somewhat traditionally, theatre actors are very respected but poor. On the flip side, movie actors are less respected, but wealthy. And traditions remain and persist for a very good reason - they are true. Speaking as someone who has worked in theatre for the last eight years now as a professional actor, it's completely true. I've been following movie and TV work very closely lately, and I'm tired of being a poorly paid non-union touring actor. I do love the work, and I love the travel, but I could just as easily be a highly paid movie star who would travel to even more exciting places than Mooresville, NC. I have a friend who just auditioned for the new "Justice League" film, another who was on a CW television show, and many who are in Philly working as extras on the movies that are shot there. And as much as I like playing Mercutio, there has to be more to this life than just children's tours and summer stock....

The Road to J-Ville

Yesterday after a wonderful show in Mooresville NC, at which we used a great crew comprising of the local drama club. They had fun working with us, and we got a lot of our work done very quickly. Then we went on a really long drive down to Jacksonville, FL, getting in just before 10pm. Some of the girls then found information about a local bar called Monkey's Uncle Tavern that did kareoke, so we walked around for a bit before finding the bar closed, under construction, and a dude inside working on the drywall. So we went to walk back to the Ramada Inn, and on our way back, we stumbled across a Target shopping cart. This led to races, chicken fights, and general hilarity as we piled three grown men onto a shopping cart. And we didn't even have any alcohol.

Then in the morning, the hotel provided an amazing breakfast buffet that included waffles and scrambled eggs, and we hit the road nice and early for Tampa. Now we're chillin out at the hotel and swimming in the pool, before heading off tonight to see what the nightlife is like. Or maybe not... we're still discussing, so we'll have to wait and see what happens. We have an early call tomorrow morning, and we can spend the afternoon in the city as well, so I'm not sure what I'll do yet. Such hard decisions to make under the warm Florida sun.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stealing something wireless

Since the Ramada Inn is having problems with their wireless internet, I'm across the parking lot in the breakfast nook at a Holiday Inn Express, piggybacking off their wireless signal. Our show went well today for a rowdy crowd in Atlanta, and I had lunch at a fantastic thai and sushi bar across the street from the theatre. Now we're north of Charlotte, with a show tomorrow morning in Mooresville, NC. A friend of mine came down to the hotel to visit me tonight, and I took her to dinner and then we caught up. She's in graduate school in Greensboro, and I haven't seen her in almost a year, so it was a nice chance to see an old friend. But I'm cutting this short, because I want to run back home and try to catch The Colbert Report tonight....

Monday, October 22, 2007

Another openin', another touring show

We opened our show this morning at 10:15, to a very successful audience. The kids really enjoyed the performance, they asked some good questions, and they were with us all the way. Our load-in went very well, and we didn't really have any problems when it came to set up. There are a lot of things that we have now learned how to do better when it comes to future load-ins, and also when it comes to packing up the trailer for the load-outs.

But then, heading back to Jackalope Jack's for lunch, we blew out one of the tires on the trailer. And then we found that there was a stripped lug nut on the trailer, so we had to call AAA to come and save us. We got on the road about an hour and half later than we wanted to, and then we made pretty good time getting ourselves into Atlanta, where we now reside. We're scrounging for dinner (no one wanted to go to The Varsity with me...) and then it's time for Monday night football. We do another show tomorrow morning, and then we drive back to North Carolina, and then down to Florida. We're going to be very well traveled, but only along I-85.

There was also a lot of fun, as an old college friend of mine met us this morning and came to see our show. Then we went to lunch (and had our tire adventure), and some of our company members decided to have some drinks at lunch. Unfortunately, this drinking continued into the van trip, and she was climbing all over other cast members and the bench seats. We kept looking at each other thinking "is this really happening??" And it's only the first day...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

First weekend away

So we’ve hit the road. We left the HoJo at 7am yesterday, driving down to see a buddy of mine in a production of “Romeo and Juliet” at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia. The performance was incredible, and everyone from our cast was very impressed to see the show. They were performing a fuller script, so they had a lot of moments that we long to play, and the interpretation of the show was much different than ours. I was so proud to see the work my buddy Chris was doing. We’ve both wanted to work with this company for a while, so I’m really happy that he is having a good time in Virginia. We’re going to audition for their touring season together next year, and it would be great to do another tour with him.

And then this morning, we played disc golf in a local park near Chris’s house, and then we all piled back into the van to finish the trip to Charlotte for our first performance tomorrow. Once in Charlotte, we made our way through our weekly line-through and then went out for dinner at Jackalope Jack’s. It’s a sports bar with a shuffleboard table, and we actually stopped there for a few drinks when we were touring with Cinderella a year ago. It was pretty wild to be walking through a town that I actually kinda knew, but to know that it was because I had toured here a year ago. Jack’s had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, and everyone else had a great time there as well. And now we’ve gathered in my hotel room to watch Game 7 of the ALCS, rooting for the Indians. Go Cleaveland!

Our first show is tomorrow morning, and I’m a little nervous about setting it all up in time. It’s been a little hard to get in touch with the technical director at this theatre, and I wanted to just confirm where we were headed tomorrow morning. We know where the college is, we just need to find the theatre. The game is getting tense. The show is tomorrow. Good life…

Friday, October 19, 2007

On the Road again...

At the moment, I've got friday night stand up playing on Comedy Central, stage managing supplies are strewn across one bed, and the suitcase is open on the other bed, mid-packing with t-shirts and pairs of socks hanging over the edges. I've finished just about everything I need to before we start driving tomorrow, and now I'm just trying to make everything organized. Our technical director keeps dropping by my hotel room with new deliveries... keys, glow tape, gaff tape, a white slip for Juliet, etc. As I look to pack up everything, it's sinking in that I'm actually hitting the road again. All these little things add up to make me a little nervous, but also very excited. I know that the comment on the previous post instructed me to have less fun..... but I'm not sure that's possible.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An odd change of pace....

So today was our first day of tech, at which we accomplished almost all of our cue-to-cue, the chance that we have to go slowly through the play and work on each light and sound change so we get it down. But halfway through our tech, the word came down from our artistic director that one of our actors was being let go. This actor also happened to be our stage manager. Within fifteen minutes, the artistic director approached me to take over his cue book and become the company's stage manager. Since it came with both responsibility and a pay raise, I naturally said yes. Also, this show is going well, so I want to ensure that it has a great tech run. Besides, the idea of working with venues and tech directors is very appealing to me, and a position like this plays into my strengths. It would be hard for me to remain quiet and work on the show on the sides, so I'm glad of the chance to get a little more hands-on in the technical aspect.

That being said, having an actor fired with only two days left in the rehearsals is a little bizarre. I can understand both his motives and the motives of the company, but I think it's a testament to the strength of our company that we all took the news with such stride. There weren't any panics or freakouts, we just took a long break in the middle of the day, and then went forth again. Personally, I just spent the last hour looking over his notebook with cues and prompts, and I know I need my sleep for tomorrow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Last chance run

This morning, we ran the show for the last time before we move on to the theatre for our days of tech rehearsals. We also had an audience this morning, as the touring cast of Anne Frank was back for a few days. They really enjoyed the show, and it was nice to have an audience who reacted to our jokes and our show. We've been ready for an audience for a few days now, and it was nice to have it. Then we spent the afternoon working on some little moments, and then they found us shoes and tights. Tomorrow is a day off, and then we have three intense days of tech at the theatre two towns over. And then we hit the road to travel on Saturday. Looking forward to getting on the road.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

You take the good, you take the bad

I must express my joy and thanks to all of you readers who read that last post and either posted here, emailed me, called, texted, or whatever, just to say that you were thinking of me and sending me love. Actors and theatre people are often the most effusive, and I thank you all.
But also I find that when I must be on the road a lot, other aspects of my life must take a backseat to the art. Friends and relationships are often put to the test by distance, from the simple fact that I am constantly moving around the country. It doesn't always have bad consequences, but it's really frustrating when you are away on the road, and you miss opportunities at home. It's the price of the road.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


It always seems to be that I know exactly what to write, and I write with great frequency when things are going really well. There is fun to share and stories to tell. Great photos to post up here are followed by great stories, and everyone likes to read about someone having fun at what they are doing. But on R&J, just as I did on Cinderella before this, when I'm frustrated or tired I tend not to want to sit down at my computer and write about what's going on.

But I am going to try to make an effort to change that with this blog as of now. We're working on the show, running it every day and then working scenes with the rest of the day. Today we took a field trip to see the other touring cast perform at their tech rehearsal before heading out on the road soon. It was to see the stage, so we would know how much space we have and what the stage size is. But we haven't ever received measurements for our set, so spacing rehearsals are beyond useless. We don't know how much room we have, or how much room we want, so there is no way to just look at the stage and figure out how much space we need. I've also been waiting over a week to receive knee pads for the show, and we haven't had any costume/shoe converstations since our fitting on day three. I know there are boxes of shoes around, or so the rumor goes, but that should not be something I am responsible for on my own. I'm not picking through the box; I'm waiting for the appropriate time when the costumer will bring the box out and hand me things.

I've been learning over the years since I worked at Hedgerow Theatre, and I am developing a strong sense of understanding what is not my job. I have no problems being a team player, but I am not going to accept any duties that are not assigned to me. This company is testing my limits of being a self-sufficient professional actor. I understand that certain things are required of a touring troupe, but I should not have to do things that are not part of my job description.

And if I sound frustrated, you're right.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What an actor might do on a day off

Yesterday was our day off from Romeo and Juliet, and most of the cast headed back to their homes in New York City for the day. But there were some of us left up here, and we went over to visit a cast member who lives in the local area. She lives with her parents on a horse farm, and we got to meet all the animals and ride a horse named Beatrice. Then we went to the vegetarian/vegan restaurant run by her family called "Duck's Soup," which was delicious. Then we came back to the hotel, played some card games, talked about Shakespeare, and then I spent most of the evening watching TV and reading "Harry Potter and the Deathly Harrows." I borrowed it from another company member, and I finished it this morning before rehearsal. We're now looking forward to a solid week of working scenes and running the show, before we go into tech rehearsals next week.

This is always one of my least favorite weeks. I really don't like running the show for that solid week beforehand. I like working on scenes, and I like exploring moments, but I really don't enjoy just barging through full runs of the show every day. It's a little frustrating as it goes on and on, but I recognize it as a beneficial thing to the production and to other actors. Just like some actors need quiet before they work on a scene, my energy feeds in different ways off of my co-workers.


Yes, I'm a little too lazy to have written about Queen Mab the day after we blocked it. But a description is sure to follow.

On Monday afternoon, we did our "clink," which is basically a stumble-through of the entire show as we have it up to that point. I wasn't quite sure how it was going to go, but I know that all of my bits went exceptionally well. I had a few moments where I was reaching for lines, and a few moments that I knew weren't as specific as they need to be, but they are the kind of things I could feel immediately as they were happening. We were released early, and we'll be getting notes at our next rehearsal on Wednesday. We have a week left or so in which we can refine our show and smooth out all the rough spots, and this is always some of my favorite bits of rehearsal. Working with the other actors is always fun, especially when the actors in question are very talented and can bring lots of things to the rehearsals. We worked on a Romeo/Mercutio greeting the other day, and Frank (Romeo) kept adjusting the energy he entered with, which constantly changed the way that Mercutio greeted him. That kind of work is the most interesting to me.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What felt like a real day

This picture is from "Big Love," and it mirrors a picture earlier. I had posted our nice and warm wedding photo, now this is the one where we are trying to kill each other. As your eyes work over the picture, I love that two couples are a little goofy, or just misunderstand each other. Only one pair legitimately wants to murder each other. I miss her...
Back to RnJ, we spent the day blocking early bits of the show. We had our costume fittings (I look like a red-garbed version of Robin Hood), and then we worked basically all the way through the big party scene where Romeo meets Juliet. Granted, we did have to skip the big Queen Mab scene, but it is on the schedule for tomorrow. I was a little nervous a few days ago about this speech, but now I'm really looking forward to doing it tomorrow. I have to remember to bring the reckless creativity to rehearsal, just as I did on Big Love. I need to make sure I learn that lesson and remember it for tomorrow.

Best. Job. Ever.

It was technically our third day of rehearsal tonight, and after finishing most of our tablework on the script, it was time for the boys to go off with Jacob and learn our fights. The morning was a basic course in Stage Swordfighting 101, in which we learned the basics about form, sword position, attacks and parries. And then after lunch, we spent a lot of time blocking the moves for the swordfight between Mercutio and Tybalt. That took most of the afternoon, and I was sweating and working, but it was all so much fun it wasn't right. We'll be drilling it every day as we keep rehearsing the play, so when we open the show it will be up to the correct speed. There was a little bit of scenework done after I rejoined the rest of the cast, and then it was time to all head over to another hotel room to watch the Indians play the Yankees. And then as soon as that was done, five of the guys saddled up and went out to see "3:10 to Yuma" at our local movie theatre. Now we're watching the other baseball game. Best. Job. Ever.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

First day on RnJ

Although I had to get up around 6am this morning to make the train up to Milford CT, once I got here the time has totally been worth it. I was very nervous to come up here and start work, knowing that it would include all the stress of both working away from home as well as the stress of touring. But everyone in our company is a lot of fun, and everyone seems like they could be fun once we get on the road. The show is very well cast, and everyone seems to be appropriate for their roles. They bring different energies to different types of roles, and it promises to be fun.

Now, I'm also living in a hotel room with two other guys, and because we have a cot in our room, our floor space is kind of limited. But I just got back from the pool, and now we're in a hotel room watching the Cubs play the Diamondbacks. Not a bad start to this work.

Quote of the Day: "Golden Girls is a classy version of Sex in the City"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

All packed up, somewhere to go

Well, the suitcase is packed, the computer is charging to go into the backpack, and all the bills have been paid online. I'm taking a train tonight to NYC, and then I'm crashing with a friend so I can catch the 7:30 train up to Milford CT for our first day of rehearsal. So it works out really well that I still have to learn my lines for the show. I'll have a lot of train time to look them over. There really is nothing like procrastination....

Monday, October 1, 2007

Photo Call

So these are the pictures from the show. First up, we see the brides and their grooms. Next, an action shot of the three boys performing our physical segment, with the white scarf as a feminine symbol and the stick representing masculinity. And third, a photo of me in mid-expression talking to Michelle, my bride. More shall follow.

The End of an Era

And so marks the final days of "Big Love," closed out by two fantastic performances on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday night was sold out, and the audience included some friends of mine as well as my parents. Laughs started early and flowed freely, and the night was once again capped off by closing down the local bar at 2am. The performance went really well, and the audience was enthusiastic in their applause for us. Also, based on the conversations at the bar the night before, I grabbed a huge (and excessive) amount of cake to smash over Michelle's head. The crowd loved it, everyone went wild, and we made the decision to go with the smaller handfulls again. A friend from Pella windows made it up to see the show, and he really enjoyed it. Hopefully, he might even post a comment about the show, seeing as how it would be nice to have an outside observer weigh in on what the show was like to see. Then we closed on Sunday afternoon with a smaller yet responsive crowd, for whom we gave a very solid performance. Before the curtain rose, Tim told us to leave everything onstage, so there was nothing left over. And sitting in the restaurant after the show, utterly drained and feeling quite tired, I realized that I had done just that.

It was quite hard to leave the area for the last time, as well. I know I'll keep in touch with the people from this, whether to share music or have them read this very blog. And hopefully I'll see them again, whether I visit the campus or they take a field trip to come see me in Romeo and Juliet. And I may even be back at Cedar Crest for another show later in the year. Whatever happens, it was a great cast to work with, and I had a lot of fun on this production. I'm excited to be moving on to the next thing, yes, but this one was so much fun and so artistically fulfilling that it will be a hard one to beat.

And, I promise more pictures, posted up here before I get too deeply involved in R&J.