Friday, November 30, 2007

Meet me in St. Louis.... Louis...

A lot has happened the last week, so I'm going to try to write about the things that have happened in the order in which they happened. After our show in Nebraska, we faced a ten hour drive so we could get to St. Louis in time for our show the next morning. We were driving until after midnight, and then we got the chance to grab about five or six hours of sleep before we had to get up and drive over to our high school performance. It was a very hard load-in. We had to use an elevator to go up one floor to the stage, and then when we took a look at the lighting options, we realized pretty quickly that the student running the board wasn't going to be able to do what we needed. So as we did the show, the light changes were a little shaky and abrupt, and we've learned an important lesson about how to work with non-professional groups. The frustrating part was that by the time we realized there would be a problem, it was too late to set our own lights up and fix the problem. That was a good thing to learn. I was also a little frustrated because members of the company were questioning my technical decisions about the space after I had made them. I like the idea of discussion and free conversation, but in this case it led to problems down the road. Everyone is always talking about how "they have no experience doing this tech..." or "we're only actors...." or "why should we be doing this...," and yet they don't follow my directions when I have had the experience. Actors...
After the show, we headed off to Jackson, TN, getting lost on our way out of the city, crossing into Illinois, back into Missouri, and then on the right road to Tennessee, passing by the St. Louis arch twice. (I've included a picture.) It was pretty cold when we got to Jackson, and then I won a game of Settlers of Catan that we played passing the time for the night. After the show in Jackson, we'll get to drive to Nashville, TN for the weekend. I'm looking forward to heading back to Nashville, but I think it's going to be strange to be in the city with a different group of people.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Back in the swing of things

Today was our first show after a week off, and it went very smoothly. We were in a beauitful space, with a fantastic dome that had amazing acoustics. We could hear whispers halfway across the room. We had a large crowd of high schoolers who really enjoyed the show, and then we had a nice little trip across the time zone to North Platte, Nebraska. We have a show here tomorrow morning for 40 (!) students, and then a ten hour drive so we can get to St. Louis sometime around 1am so we can do another show the next morning. And if the people in our company prostest over (read: bitch about) six hour drives, I'm really not looking forward to their opinion of a ten hour. For me, it's just a par for the course. There's an element of "ours is not to reason why" about the whole thing, and putting negative energy into the already crowded van is certainly not the way to make the travel a happy one.

Old friends

After a lazy day in Denver, mostly spent napping and catching up on email, I went out for a drink with an old friend from Philly who is now studying out here in Denver at the National Theatre Conservatory. I had done a few shows with Kate when we were both based in Philly, and she actually played my wife three times. She and her boyfriend met me at a bar called "The Cheeky Monk," and we spent a nice hour and half both telling stories of old times as well as catching up what we were doing now. She sounded like she was having fun with her different classes and class projects, and I wish that I could see some of the stuff she was talking about. It was great to see her again after about two years, and nice to see that she was doing well. We have a show in the morning, then lunch, a drive, and we're right back into the swing of things. There is the chance I might be able to see a college friend for breakfast, but we'll have to see how that pans out at is goes. I figure, if we're touring the country, I might as well get to see everyone I know!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another day in Denver

This morning I went out to Highland Square in Denver and had an amazing lunch at a restaurant called Fuego. Between the burrito and the Mexican hot chocolate, the meal was delicious. Then I had some time to browse a bookshop in the area (more Christmas shopping was done), and then I went back to the downtown area to buy a cheap little digital camera. The quality and size of the pictures isn't too good, but it is better than nothing. It's the equivalent of a digital snapshot, but it's the kind of thing that might be able to add a little color to this blog now and then. I've also posted a picture of the Denver capitol building, just to demonstrate the quality of this camera. Tomorrow I have to make some trips to the airport to pick up various members of our company, and then we'll do a line-through and be back on our touring schedule. But this time it's part two...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Things to do in Denver...

We arrived in town late last night, and today I spent the day wandering around the downtown Denver area. There is a really great outdoor mall and market all up and down 16th Street in Denver, and I was actually smart enough to do a little Christmas shopping while I was down there. Granted, I spotted a few things that I wanted to get for myself as well, but that's what the season is all about, eh? The Ramada where we are staying provides a complimentary shuttle service back and forth from the hotel to the downtown district, and our van driver this morning was very helpful in pointing out places of interest. We're going to spend Monday touring the US Mint and the Coors Brewery, since those tours are free on Mondays. And Brandon made sure to check out places to watch all the football games tomorrow. We're also having the rest of our cast re-join us one by one as we come back from our Thanksgiving break. No more private little trip for us.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Trucker Thanksgiving

After a long drive today, we arrived in Rock Springs, WY and went to find some Thanksgiving dinner. Our first stop was a redneck bar, but their kitchen was closed so there was no food to be found there. So then we went to a truck stop and ordered their Thanksgiving special, which was all the trappings of a traditional meal. The salad bar was a little sub-par, and the turkey was the kind of product that the Spam company would market as a cheap substitute for actual turkey product. That being said, the dinner made me both happy and sad at the same time. Happy for the meal, but sad all the same. I've spent the evening recovering from that meal, and it's turned into a very chill night. We drive to Denver tomorrow, and then we're there until our show on Tuesday morning. I'm excited to stop traveling, and I'm going to try to hook up with a couple friends I have out there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


We spent the day in Boise, ID today, looking around the downtown area for a few hours. We learned a little about the large Basque population in Boise, and saw the historic downtown area where all those buildings stand. I also went to a used bookstore and a great used CD/DVD store where I bought a movie. I had a good cup of coffee and a great sandwich, but one of the standouts was the Idado Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial near the river.

This is a photo of the Anne Frank statue at the memorial, and there are also stone monuments carved with excerpts from her diary, as well as inspirational quotes about freedom and injustice from people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Dr. Seuss. It was a very simple memorial, but a very touching one as well. It looks like a quiet night in for me, although I might crack into some recently arrived baked goods....

On the road.... again?

I got a phone call this morning from another company I've worked with in the past, and they were interested in having me join their ongoing national tour, replacing an actor who is not working out with the rest of the company. It would fit into my schedule very nicely; I come home, have a day off or so, and then start rehearsing right away before I hit the road. The money with this company is fantastic, but I'm not sure if I want to stay on the road as a touring actor. It would give me the chance to work with friends again, but I'm not sure if that's what I want to be doing....

These are the hard choices in the life of an actor. It's always hard to turn down the offer of work, but sometimes the work you're offered isn't always the best thing for you to do. I wish some days that I had a nice steady job, fixed hours, a scale for raises, benefits, and the knowledge that I would have the same job in a year. As much fun as this "professional vagabond" life is, there are days I wish it could be something else. There is no other job I'd rather do, though, and that is what is going to keep me slugging away. But when I find that other job....


Late last night and early this morning, almost all of our company left and it's now just me, Brandon, and Dennis for the next week. We drove from Seattle to Boise, ID today, and it was a beautiful drive. We went through three distinct mountain ranges, and when we stopped for gas during hour number two, it felt as if we were at the top of the world. I've put a picture in this post of the view from our mountain, looking over at the next mountaintop along the way.

We've got many days off now, and we'll spend Thanksgiving on the road in Rock Springs, WY. We've been talking about a truckstop dinner, or perhaps a Chinese buffet a la the family in A Christmas Story. But for the moment, we're chillin in a Super 8 outside of town. No big plans at the moment, just a few well-deserved days off.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Full day in Seattle

After spending the night on the town last night, we went into Seattle early this morning. We really did spend the whole day there, ranging from cafes on the waterfront, a placed called Ye Old Curiosity Shop, and the Seattle monorail. But the clear highlite of the day was the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. The scifi part had a lot of great movie and TV props, including Star Trek uniforms and Captain Kirk's command chair. The coolest Star Trek thing, however, was a 4 four square model of the soundstage from 1966 where Star Trek was filmed. Made by the production designer Matt Jefferies, the model showed the layout of the filming stages and the way the Enterprise sets were laid out. It also showed that the sections of the bridge could be removed to allow better access for the camera crew. It was really neat to see.

In the music side of the building, there was so much information about Seattle and rock and roll it was crazy. Lots of musicians got their start up here, including Quincy Jones and Ray Charles. They also had about six different recordings of "Louie Louie," and an entire exhibit about the Battle of the Bands between two different versions of the song, one by the Kingsmen and one by Paul Revere and the Raiders. The Kingsmen ultimately won the battle, but apparently for a while the competition was fierce. Then the upstairs section had a room where you could play instruments, mix demos, sing along, etc. I didn't get a whole lot of time to look in that room, but Molly, Tim, and I did get the chance to do their "On Stage" program, in which we pretend to be a rock band and sing a song. We chose Twist and Shout by the Beatles, and then we rocked it out. We had a great time, and we bought the poster they were selling of our appearance. It was a lot of fun.

Then we went for a seafood dinner on the waterfront, and then played a few arcade games before heading back to the hotel. These last two days have been the best days on tour yet. Yes, I spent a lot of money over these last two days, but I finally feel as if I've been seeing some of the country! We're not racing through or running pass cool sights, but now we've actually had the chance to explore a bit. Made me feel ready to get back on the road and do our show tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 16, 2007

So I've been a little delinquent

recently while updating this blog, but it's only because I've been having so much fun and been so busy. We've spent the last few days traveling the entire length of California, from San Diego all the way to Oregon. We haven't had internet in a few hotels, so my updating has suffered because of it. But I will do my best to write some entries this weekend, including getting towed in San Diego, seeing my college friend the next day, and driving through some beautiful county over the last two days. Tonight, we're staying in the same town as the cast of National Theatre's Don Quixote, and we are planning to go meet up with them later. We also have a little park and a lake outside of our hotel, so it promises to be a nice morning from my little balcony. And the weather is getting colder, which I love.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Non-Equity Deputy

So I found a website online called Non-Equity Deputy, a link for which is now posted to the right of my blog. It's a website that allows non-union actors to post facts and information about companies they have worked for. It allows actors to post about bad experiences as well as good ones, and it's a great page. I highly recommend it to all us non-union actors.

Also, as an entirely shameless plug for a friend, I've also attached a new blog, written by NYC based actor Susan Atwood, blogging as a part of They have several actors who write about the career, but since I know Susan, she's the one that gets the free press. Maybe she'll link me....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Thing

[Sunday, November 11, 2007. 12:30pm]

I’m writing this as I sit in the second bench in our van, driving on I-10 toward Mesa, Arizona. We have the day off tomorrow, and then we have a show in Phoenix on Tuesday before we saddle up again and head off to California. For the past 600 miles, we’ve been driving through some amazing country. Mountains and rocks rise out of nowhere and then disappear, and at other times you can look to the horizon and see nothing to disturb the plains. It truly is a pretty wild west out here, but the scenery is incredible. This morning, we stopped at a rest stop in Arizona, which advertised itself as the home of The Thing (the mystery of the desert.) We paid our dollar to get into the museum, and it proved to be a private collection of various historical oddities. There were some amazing old cars to start off, including a 1939 Rolls Royce that is rumored to have been used by Adolf Hitler. We then moved into the wine press, telegraph machine, scales, dating from the 18th century, Chinese artifacts from even earlier, and what the signs claimed is the only example of a “Matchlock,” a type of rifle that seemed to be mounted for use on a fort. Then there was The Thing itself, what appeared to be a mummified Native American, placed inside a wooden coffin with a child. The trading post also had souvenirs and such, but we passed on them and got back into the van to continue our travels.

As we pulled out of the lot, we were discussing whether or not everything we had seen was real. It was a strange collection to be located in desolate Arizona and not in a museum somewhere, but we started talking about “collectors” who buy and find pieces like that and put them on display. Ultimately, I think we decided that all of the artifacts we saw were real and authentic, but the truth on them could have been stretched a little. I don’t doubt that we saw a real fringe-topped carriage from the 1860s, but I question whether or not it was the one used in Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration parade as the sign claimed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The end of a busy week

After a so-so show in Houston this morning, we drove a few hours to get to San Antonio TX for a little break in the evening. Just outside the city, we stopped at a truck stop called Buc-ee's, for which we had seen the signs for the hundred miles leading up to it. It was a fantastic stop, and the company picked up coffee, candy, t-shirts, jerky, free steak, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, and postcards. From there we headed to San Antonio, although we were just too late to actually get into the Alamo, we did get to see it, touch it, and a picture of it is posted here.

I did not take this picture, but it still looks like that. The rest of the trip was a little stressful, as most of us had something to drink at dinner, and so the trek through the wildnerness of Texas was peppered with drunken actors, pee breaks, and long patches of stress where there was nothing to be seen. Tempers were running high as we got into our hotel, and now I'm playing online as I wait for my laundry to finish. (I had no more socks.) I'm suddenly getting sleepy, but I wanted to get it out of the way tonight instead of dealing with it in the morning.

We have another eight hour drive tomorrow, so I'll also probably spend some of the laundry wait composing a playlist for the few hours I'll do. It's important to have goals and such.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Frustrations about civilty

It was a very long day today. We had a show this morning at 10:15, which went very well. We only had a crowd of 40 or so, but they had read the show, so they were a very good crowd. The problems started after the show, because we had blown a tire on our trip to the school this morning. This makes the second flat tire, coming after the one we had on Day #1 in Charlottle. So we had to spend almost two hours at a local Walmart while they changed our tires and gave us a new spare. One of the girls in our company had left her bank card in the previous town, so we needed to then find a Bank of America in Oklahoma City. This shouldn't have been too hard, but the GPS device we had led us astray, until it finally took the fourth (fourth!) try to find an actual branch of the bank. That took us until about 4:30, and then it was a three and a half hour drive to Dallas, Texas, where we have a show in the morning.

This was a very long day, and tensions were starting to run high. I was seated very firmly in the second bench in the van, headphones in my ears, ipod playing away, determined to either sleep, ignore, or detach myself from everything that was happening around me. As the stage manager, I have a lot of responsibility from 7am until 1pm, and then after that I want to just sit there and disengage. Some of our company are very "touchy," and it's making me cranky. We had a big discussion about saying "please" and "thank you" before we left, but I'll confess that I can't think of any stage managers who routinely throw those words into things like "Quiet in the house" or "10 minutes!" I've done this kind of thing before, I've stage managed before, and I know the tone of professionalism. So it irritates me when people want to treat this as anything other than what it is - a job. And a job that I know how to do well.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Can't Go Back to Arkansas...

We had a great show in the morning, performing in a beautiful Masonic temple. We had a good show and a hesitant talkback, and then we had lunch in the historic downtown area in Fort Smith, AR. We had fantastic burgers at a place called The Hamburger Barn, and then Tim and I bought buffalo nickels at a rare coin shop on the main street. We got a great deal on them, too, as Tim had been in the shop for about ten minutes before I arrived, and then we talked a lot about the different kinds of paper money he had. Add that to a free bag of popcorn that I got at a local shop, and we were having a pretty good day.

I was asleep almost as soon as I got into the van, and we drove right across the state line into Oklahoma. As soon as we got to our first rest stop, I looked out at the horizon to see nothing rising from the plains. As we're moving farther west, the areas are starting to look less and less like rural Pennsylvania and more and more like Arizona. I travelled the east coast last year, and I am really looking forward to seeing the west and the west coast this year. And yes, yes, I will try to post some pictures up here. Anyone want to buy me a camera?

And in case anyone is wondering, in Oklahoma, the wind does in fact come sweeping down the plains.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I'd rather be lucky than good

We got to the theatre this morning, and I was literally holding my breath. We walked around the building for a minute, before the loading door opened and Frank (the TD) came outside. We set off and running, not missing a minute of load-in time. So it all worked out, despite my best efforts. We had a little trouble with our sound equipment today, and our tech guys figured out that we have some bad cables in the board. But we did very well, forced to perform the show without any sound cues. Then we had a short drive, and then Tim, Brandon and I hit some golf balls at a driving range that is next to our hotel. We might play a game tonight or watch a movie, we still haven't figured out the social plans. But whatever we do, I know I still have a Sherlock Holmes computer game...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A little Saturday night fun

Last night, we were unlucky to discover we are currently in a dry county that sells no alcohol. But we were lucky to find a bowling alley a block down from our hotel. We bowled three games, and then since we gained an hour of sleep last night due to daylight savings, we stayed up for another two hours playing Settlers of Catan. The game is a lot of fun, but when it's played by a bunch of football-loving, testosterone-driven men, it's just asking for trouble to play this game at 2am. Now we have the day off in Conway, AR before we perform tomorrow at the local university, and I'm spending the day trying not worry about my mix-up. Actually, I've arranged my luggage, made some phone calls, gone through some laundry, shopped at Target, and now I'm surfing on Amazon. We'll start working hard with the rest of my team tomorrow, so I like having some time to myself.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dropping a ball

I have yet to work my mind around the fact that these theatres and schools at which we perform are only open during the weekdays. This is not really a problem, except for the fact that I have not been able to get in touch with anyone at our venue for Monday. I should have gotten in touch with them at the beginning of the week, so I've completely screwed up and dropped the ball on this one. But the boss said that another show performed here a few days ago, so we may have lucked out on this one. And I make it a policy never to make the same mistakes twice, so I'm sure this won't happen again.

But until then, I'm a little nervous. It's not about the technical aspect of the show - I know that will go well. I just hope there is someone there to open the doors for us at 8am on Monday. I've left messages on every number I can find, and I even emailed the tech directors based on the online technical packet for the theatre. I think we'll be okay, but I know that I am very easy and flexible when it comes to hitches in plans. And while I think that makes me a great manager because I'm not easily fazed by changes of plans, it also makes me an inconsistent manager because I don't relay that information to the people on my crew. I like flying by the seat of my pants, because it always works out for me. Maybe that's something to adjust about my managing style...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Just like a real show

Our theatre this morning was fantastic. The space and building weren't as extravagant as the Tampa Theatre, but this space was all about function and flexibility. We had a great lighting rig, a great sound system, tons of space backstage, and curtains that we could arrange around our set. We worked pretty well with the professional crew provided, and we all had a great morning where we felt like we were doing a "real show." I am all about the educational value of theatre, and I love performing these kinds of show for school children. But working in a space like this theatre today really makes me feel like a real actor. We also got to spend a second night in the same hotel, which is making us feel like we've almost settled for a bit. We found a free lunch at the grand opening of a cellphone company, and then we've had the day off. And to top it all off, we got paid today! Could the day get any better?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rabbit rabbit

So yea, while in New Orleans we stayed at the Hotel Monteleone last night (, which was only a few drunken steps away from Bourbon Street and all the parties that came with Halloween. We put on passable costumes, dressed for the night, and then went out to seek our fortune. Some folk got drunk pretty quickly, and then we spent the night going from club to club, dancing, listening to music, drinking some more, and wandering up and down the street admiring the costumes. The best were a couple dressed as contestants from Double Dare, someone dressed as Sauron, and at least half a dozen Indiana Joneses.

We also heard some great cover bands, two of our boys danced in a cage together, two of our girls danced in the same cage together, one of our boys made very good friends with several girls in a bar called "Boondock Saint," we went to a place called The Gumbo Shop (Yum!), I did some Christmas shopping, and then my roomie and I sat up into the night drinking cheap whiskey and wearing the deluxe bathrobes from our five star hotel. All in all, it was a wonderful night. Some pictures might be coming, but I had no camera with me, so I have to rely on the pictures and the kindness of others.

Then, after this wonderful night last night, we got into our van at 6:30 am for an hour drive across the lake to perform two, count them TWO, shows in Covington, LA. I think we were all a little scared about having a double day so soon after a late night, but we pulled through very well. Then we drove another four hours to reach Alexandria, LA, where we are spending two nights in a row. How luxurious... From here, we mosey on up to Conway, Arkansas, and then we head out into Texas. I'm really glad we have a weekend coming up, I'll tell you that much.