Sunday, December 3, 2006

News from the Front

For the first time, I write from the lobby of a theatre where we will be performing at 3pm. It's an old converted movie house from the 1930s, so we weren't able to bring up our large standing set piece; we're only using our wheeled wagons and puppets and masks. I never like doing the show this way, as I always feel that it loses something without the grandness of the set piece to serve as a backdrop. But on the other hand, it's the best option when there is literally not enough space to bring the set to life.

On an unrelated note, in addition to the van getting lost on the drive this morning, we pulled into the parking lot near the theatre to learn that only minutes before, the truck had blown one of its tires by making a right hand turn just a little bit too sharply. So we have the extra fun tomorrow morning of taking the truck to get serviced while we perform, hoping the have the pieces in stock to take care of it so we can get back on the road in the afternoon. All told, we're planning to be back in Philadelphia around dinnertime tomorrow, assuming that everything works itself out. We have a few days off, and then on Dec 7th we leave for one show in Maryland, and that concludes the first part of our epic journey.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Return to the Hectic Day

Going to bed at 10pm seems like something reserved for old people and the unattractive, but we have another hard day tomorrow where we have to start at 5:30am. Our load-in is at 6am, and then we have two performances at 10 and 12, followed by a load-out and a much-deserved return to our Comfort Inn where we can enjoy some well-earned sleep. This is a short stop before we get to Binghamton, where we will enjoy some R&R. But I'll write more after the day is over.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The 14 Man Crew Strikes!

In our load-in today in Burlington, VT, we had 14 union stagehands helping us unload and raise our massive set piece. I don't think we beat our best time, but we didn't have to work very hard ourselves. It was only by the skin of my teeth that I managed to constantly stay a step ahead of the crew; whenever they came up to me and asked what was next, I always had an answer for them. It was rough going, and I had to think quickly more than once, but I did it. And as a result, I had a crew member do a lot of the things that I normally do as a part of the load-in. It was refreshing not to build the pumpkin!

Burlington is a great town. There is a main street in the downtown area that has shops, restaurants, and even a limited mall. We spent some time browsing and Christmas shopping while our TD finished his light focus, and I found three different book shops to browse. In the afternoon, some of our company members went and toured the Ben and Jerry's factory, which is based in Burlington. It was to them what Metropolis, IL was to me.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Our Vermont Adventure

Early in the morning, we loaded into the van and hit the road heading toward Burlington, VT. After crossing the state line into New York, and spending a great deal of time heading up to and past Albany, our navigators took us on an alternate route toward Burlington. This "alternate" route used secondary highways and rural state roads to wind through the mountains. So when we arrived in Burlington, an hour behind schedule from when we thought we would, the company was understandable irritable and hungry. After a grabbed a pizza from an Italian restaurant literally around the corner, and I settled down for Simpsons and MythBusters. Tomorrow we'll be loading into another theatre, continuing down the long line of theatre and work situations.

Battling in Gettysburg

We did our show in the Majestic Theatre, Gettysburg, yesterday, and the theatre itself presented some very unique challenges. The stage was a full story lower than the loading dock, so we had to unload our truck into an elevator, bring the elevator down to the stage, and then unload the elevator again to get everything into place. But in the midst of all of this fun, two items (the lighting towers and a large truss piece) did not fit in the elevator, so we can to carry them around the building and bring them in a side door. And then when we had to load out, we drove the truck down a narrow gravel path near a set of train tracks to make it easier to load those pieces in again. We had a good crew, and they were very hardworking. Erica, our costume maven, actually sewed a new hood to replace the one that was lost, but the material that we gave her to use is a little thicker than the rest of the hoods. As a result, we have one grape-colored hood (the Grape Ape) that is much warmer than the others, with limited visibility. But at least it fits.

After the show, we rounded up the gang and wandered down the street to join the historic Ghosts of Gettysburg walking tour. As luck would have it, we got into literally the last tour of the year; they re-open again in March. For the next two hours, we walked around downtown Gettysburg, mostly across the Gettysburg College campus, leaning about the ghosts and legends of the old buildings. A lot of them were about soliders taken to field hospitals during the battle, but there were a few that had nothing to do with the Civil War.

One legend tells of a star-crossed young couple who planned to commit suicide by plunging from a bell tower together. When it came time to jump, the girl leapt to her death but the boy changed his mind. Now, men claim to have seen a beautiful white whispy creature on the top of the bell tower, trying to lure a young man to join her forever in the afterlife. The legend of the Blue Boy involves a 12-year old runaway from a local orphanage being hidden by girls at Gettysburg College. When a random room search threatened the boy, the girls hid him on the third story window ledge on a cold December night, promising to bring him in when the inspection was over. The head mistress, however, took all the girls to the first floor office for some additional investigation, and when the girls returned to their room and opened the window, the boy was nowhere to be found. They searched the ground beneath the window, but no trace of him was ever found. Over the next generations, people claim to have seen a young boy outside the window, colored a ghostly blue as if from servere exposure to the cold. One girl even saw a message written on the outside of the window - "Help Me."

The tour itself was okay. Our guide wasn't particularly memorable or exciting, and some of the stories lacked a little bit of punch that would have greatly improved them. But it was a great way to spend the night, bundled against the cold and literally clinging to each other for warmth. After the tour, most everyone hit the hay, but I, Andrew, and Erica (who had joined us from the theatre) went out for a quick hot chocolate and some more conversation. We're about to leave for Burlington VT this morning, and I'm still trying to confirm our hotel reservations for tonight. I think I may have spoken to this theatre already, but I have no notes of it. In any case, it'll be quite a drive to get up there.

Friday, November 24, 2006

On the road again

The turkey leftovers are still sitting in the fridge, but we of the intrepid company have hit the road again and currently reside in Gettysburg, PA, a mere two hours from home. This is relatively close to home for us, and one of the only times that we will be perfoming in our own state. But historic towns do have their advantages, and we're staying in the Historic Gettysburg Hotel. While only a nice Best Western on the inside, the outside is really great architecture. We're staying on the main square of the town, and everything that we could want is in walking distance. I've already found two used bookstores that I need to hit up tomorrow in my down time. It's kinda nice to start off with a slow stint, gradually building into the hectic touring schedule again. But on the other hand, I'd much rather be curled up in my own bed, watching the James Bond movie marathon on Spike TV.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Break

Sure, it's only a couple of days. And, if you were to count the hours, we probably spent more time off the clock in Paducah, but there is no feeling to compare with being in your own house, your own neighborhood, your own bed. I've been cleaning my room and doing laundry, knowing that I'll be leaving again tomorrow night. And this time we're heading to Gettysburg, then Vermont, New Hampshire, and upstate New York. This is the sub-zero leg of our tour, and I have to be sure that I pack enough warm clothing to survive Vermont in mid-December. The worst is coming up, though, when we drive out and perform in Wisconsin in the month of January. I predict that we will see nothing but white as we drive up to the theatre that morning...

But it's been nice to come home. I've played with my cats, who missed me terribly, and I had a chance to get rid of all the clothes/books/DVDs I've collected on the road. It's kinda strange being home for such a small amount of time. It'll be different when we are home the whole month of December. We can get a job, hang out with friends, see family, etc. But these few days don't leave us a whole lot of time to do anything substantial. We only had time to relax. It works out, however, because that's what we needed to do the most.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Back to Back

Yesterday and today were pretty much the same day, just in different cities. We started early at 7am and loaded in the show, getting ready for a 2pm performance. Yesterday, we had another performance at 4pm, then we loaded out and travelled to Clearwater, FL. Today, in Clearwater, we could load out immediately after that show, and then head back to the hotel for a much deserved nap. We went for dinner at Shells, a seafood place along Clearwater Beach that we found completely by accident. And although some of the group wanted to go to the mini golf place just down the street, we headed back to the hotel for a relaxing and lazy night.

Which is just as well, since we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow. We will be hitting the complimentary hot breakfast buffet around 6:45, and then we will hit the road at 7:30. We will be travelling over 500 miles, getting ready to load into our space at 6pm. Following that, we will hit the hotel and be back in the morning for two performances. After we load out, we'll make the best time we can to head back toward Glenside and our home base outside Philly. We are planning to be back in town around 1pm, which will give us plenty of time to go out with our families. It will be a great break, that I will be really happy to have.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Look, up in the sky!

Halloween '06 in Chapel Hill

Over the hump

So we're staying in a Hilton Garden Inn, one of the best hotels yet. Jacksonville is a big and sprawling city, and we're a good twenty minutes outside of it. But it's still a great hotel, and some of the company spent some time in the outdoor hot tub tonight after dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Lucky for us we had fridges in our rooms to hold the leftovers. We have two shows tomorrow, and then we hit the road again to head toward South Carolina. We had a great crew helping us today; they were hard workers and really useful. They were very hands-on, looking for ways to help out when they finished another task they were working on. So at this point, it's just a week or so until we're home for Thanksgiving. It's all easy after that. In fact, we are approaching the halfway point of the tour, if we haven't hit it already. I don't keep track of things like that...

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Walking in Memphis

We spent the last three days in Memphis performing at the historic Orpheum Theatre. It was a gorgeous space, and it had gold stars in the pavement outside listing all the stars who have performed there – Bill Cosby, Louis Armstrong, Helen Keller, Harry Houdini. All the greats were there, and we followed in their footsteps across those stage boards. The band Death Cab for Cutie will play the space in late November, and some members of the company are very excited by that.

We also spent Saturday night on Beale Street, the popular street in downtown Memphis with blues clubs, restaurants, bars, etc. We ate at the famous Blues City CafĂ©, home of the best ribs in Memphis, and then got a drink at a bar down the street where we saw an Elvis impersonator. He did some things really well, but there were other elements of the King that he completely missed. Then on Sunday afternoon, three of us went to the Memphis Zoo to see the pandas. They had a fantastic cat country, as well as a “animals of the night” house where we all saw a lot of animals that we had never seen.

After a nice long dinner break, we went out for some mini golf and Laser Tag. It was a really fun night, and I came in second overall for mini golf and third for laser tag. Running around in a dark room, lit with black light, while firing laser blasts at each other was a lot of fun, and dare I say it, a wonderful form of therapy. We’ve been on the road for quite some time now, and we’re about to head into a very long stretch of time in Florida. We’ll be very busy down there, and then we’ll be home in a few weeks for Thanksgiving. It’s going well, but that break will be just what we will need.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Referees, Indiana Jones, and Bumblebees, Oh My!

We’re currently on the road toward Pembroke, NC, coming from the Red Roof Inn just outside of Chapel Hill. We had a really good time at the Halloween celebration in town last night. Six of us dressed up and went, and we saw some amazing costumes on other people there. There was a guy with a perfect Sandtrooper costume from Star Wars, as well as a couple dressed as Adam and Eve. There were a lot of men dressed as Indiana Jones, but only one was running through the crowd being chased by a group of aborigines like the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. A group of young coeds had dressed up as a box of toxic Crayola crayons, and there was a Pac-Man being chased by a group of ghosts. Then there was the normal share of Batmans, cowboys, nurses/doctors, vampires, and the like. Although there were many Supermans who had purchased the bagged costume from Party City, I only saw a few Clark Kents, and I had the best assembled costume out of any of them. There was a trio walking the street as Clark Kent, Superman, and Lois Lane, but I only saw them from across the street.

All in all, it was a really fun time. We headed into town at about 9pm last night, walked up and down the street, grabbed some food for a late dinner, and then continued walking around. One of our company was dressed as Shaggy, so we went looking for a Scooby-Doo, but found nothing. There were several Velmas, but no other member of the mystery machine crew.

We have another load in today in a college theatre, and then the show is at 10am tomorrow morning. We have a day to kill in Pembroke, and then we head off for Memphis, TN. We’ve been warned about the town, but the hotel is very close to the theatre in downtown Memphis, so there will hopefully be some fun stuff to do.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Costume considerations

Sitting just outside a coffee shop in Chapel Hill, NC, we are preparing for a city-wide Halloween celebration tonight. Most of us on the tour have our costumes ready. We've got Shaggy, a vampire, Twiggy, and Clark Kent. I will leave you only one guess as to which costume will be mine. I had given thought to my costume before we left on this leg of the tour, and I knew that I wanted to bring a costume that I could wear as normal street clothes. Knowing I was going to dedicate room in my bag to any books or other products I would pick up in my travels, I did not want to dedicate any room in my bag for a costume.

So I grabbed a thick-rimmed pair of glasses, a Superman t-shirt, and a button-down shirt, and I knew I would help piece it together on the road. In Chapel Hill, I bought a new pair of pants and the perfect tie to complete the wardrobe. Another company member volunteered to help me get the perfect Superman S-curl in my hair, and I promise that many pictures will be taken of the event. We're heading back to our hotel in less than an hour so we can shower/nap/dress/prepare for the party, and then we'll be fortunate enough to catch a shuttle service into town. It should be a wild night.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Up, Up, and Away

Just across the border between Kentucky and Illinois, a small town lies almost forgotten by the rest of the country. That town is Metropolis, Illinois, and it is the home of the Super Museum, the only museum in America dedicated solely to the adventures, career, and history of Superman. Now, those of you who know me are fully aware that I am a huge Superman fan, and I’ve heard about this town before in many capacities. But knowing how close I was, I knew that I had to visit this museum.

So Friday morning, some of us piled into the van and headed to Metropolis. After weaving through the gift shop, we headed into the museum. The collection was extraordinary! While primarily pictures, photos, and movie posters, they also had a collection of props and costumes from various versions of Superman. In glass cases on mannequins, they had an original costume from both Christopher Reeve and George Reeves. The George Reeves costume is one of the only complete ones known to still exist. They had the wigs that both Chris Reeve and Marlon Brando wore in Superman: The Movie, and Dean Cain’s first Superman suit from Lois and Clark.

While the museum could have been a little more organized, it was a stunning collection. More explanation of certain items or areas would also have helped; as it was I played tour guide to the people who were with me. I could go through the history of Superman for them, following the actors and artists who have interpreted the character.

The next morning I went back to the museum for the chance to take some more pictures. And then on the way back to the hotel so we could pack up and leave, I stopped by and met Chuck, who was the first man to portray Superman at the week-long street fair Metropolis hosts every summer. He was a lovely, generous, friendly man who talked with me for about fifteen minutes about Superman in general, and his experience in particular. He told me how he got the job, why he did it for a decade, and what it was like to wear the red cape. At the end of our interview, I thanked him for his time, and I asked him to sign a postcard I had picked up at the museum gift shop. I’m almost 26 years old, and one of the highlights of my life is meeting Superman and getting his autograph.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The much-anticipated Paducah

Paducah is fantastic. Our hotel has a very unique feel to it. It looks like it was built in the late sixties, achieved fame in the early seventies, feel out of vogue, and has turned into a ghost town. It was a huge building that was far too large for the amount of people that we saw wandering the halls at any given time. The town was very kind to us; on our first afternoon, we met two local musicians who play in a band, and they took us around and showed us some good restaurants and coffee shops, and they generally gave us the lay of the land.

The Carson Arts Center where we performed was very new and very beautiful. Two balconies adorned in deep red velvet draperies helped it resemble a movie house from the 1940s, and it had one of the largest fly spaces that I’ve ever seen. The crew was very helpful and all around wonderful, and the kids were very enthusiastic about the show. When Cinderella started to make her broom fly in circles, I heard a small voice cry out “How did she DO that?” The crew has also told me about a place 15 minutes away called Metropolis, Illinois, which is home to a giant Superman statue and a museum dedicated to the Man of Steel. I had no idea that we were ever going to be that close to the museum, so I’ll have to make the time to head out there.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Are You Watching Closely?

Another great day in Nashville, even if it was pretty cold. A front came in and dropped the temperature 15 degrees below the average, but we still managed to have a good time. We split up, and we managed to find a great Japanese restaurant near Music Row. More exploring of the city followed, including a trip to the Great War Memorial, the library, and a full-size replica of the Parthenon. But a large part of the afternoon was spent in a shop on Broadway where we all bought a pair of cowboy boots. So now all the Snakes on a Tour have a pair of authentic Nashville western-style boots. Appropriate for barn dances, ho-downs, trips to malls, and everything except black-tie events and load-ins.

Then we went for some dinner and an hour’s worth of games at Dave N Buster’s near the Grand Ole Opry. And since our show is all about magic, we went to catch a late night showing of “The Prestige.” The movie was pretty good; I’m not always the biggest Hugh Jackman fan, but I think he did a good job of giving the movie what the script called for. Christian Bale gave an excellent performance, but he wasn’t really given much to do in the film. And we could see the ending coming; the movie mystery didn’t stay far enough in front of the audience to keep us guessing. Tomorrow we’ll be arriving in Paducah, KY, and we’ll have to go back to being a touring theatre company. I have to admit, I’ve really enjoyed these few days of vacation. I hope we get some days like this again.

Adventures in the Music Capital

We had a wonderful night in Nashville. We started in the Wildhorse Saloon, a famous landmark in Nashville for both barbeque and country music. We had some excellent food with some excellent music, and then we meandered our way down the street to Tootsie’s. It’s another famous bar in the city where many country legends have either played, or they were discovered there. The one name we could come up with was Gretchen Wilson (Redneck Woman, etc.) After a few over-priced drinks and some pretty bad music, we walked back to the van. One of our girls then realized that she had lost one of her earrings. So we went back over our track, and she eventually found it in Tootsie’s. Someone literally kicked it out the door to her feet when she went back inside to look for it. Talk about luck!

But now I’m back in my single hotel room, and we have plans to go crash the continental breakfast at another hotel in the morning. At the very least, we’re going to steal their free wireless internet. Then we get another day in Nashville. Who knows… maybe I’ll get a Stetson hat.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

We're in Nashville

Writing from the sub-par desk at a Motel 6, I don’t even have the internet access to post this. It’s been uploaded at a later date. We drove almost all afternoon just until twilight, passing many delightful accommodations that had spas and free internet, and now we’re faced with the prospect of two nights in this place. But we are a mere breath away from Nashville, and we’re going into the city to check it out later tonight. We also have all day tomorrow to explore, and a trip to the Zoo might just be in order.

We’ve spent the last month traveling through lots of different states, and we’ve notice that each one has its own landscape and topography. Today, for example, we went around rolling hills and drove along steep cliffs, whereas other states has large mountains, and others were long expanses of nothing but flat terrain. We’ve also found lots of different types of hotels (and unfortunately motels,) across the East Coast. We’ve found nice ones, bad ones, and ones that fall right in the middle. This one, for example, is completely functional and would be fine, it they would provide wireless internet. I can’t really understand how a chain hotel could NOT provide that; it seems to have become an industry standard. But now it’s time for dinner, and to figure out what to do tomorrow. We get to be tourists for a day.

Our Most Challenging Show

Yesterday at the Lincoln Theatre, we successfully performed our most challenging show yet. We had a third of our usual stage space, coupled with very little space in the wings. As soon as we made an exit and left the stage, we literally had to climb over props and other set pieces. Add to that a very small crossover, and we have our show. But we came through it with flying colors, due mostly to the fact that we managed to break down one of our set pieces during the show. The large boudior was in the way, so we took it completely apart while others were acting onstage. Go us!

After the show we dined at Macado's, a Virginia chain restaurant that is wonderful. The desserts alone made the meals, and we're looking into finding more of them as we hit the road for the next few days. We have three days of travel before we get to Peducah, so we're having a meeting this morning to discuss what we want to do. We're also going to go over some basic driving stuff, like the duties of the driver and the navigator. We've been doing pretty well at those things, but I want to have an official meeting where we specifically set down the duties of each position. That way there's no confusion in the future.

Last night we played Cranium again with Dwayne, our contact at the Lincoln Theatre. We offered him a spot on our touring company, but he had to turn it down in favor of a finance committee meeting on Monday. Although, he freely admitted that he would certainly have more fun with us.

Friday, October 20, 2006


We are currently in Marion, Virginia, at the Lincoln Theatre. A converted movie house, it is a beautiful theatre, but it is only about 10 feet deep from the proscenium arch. So it's another very small stage, but we think we can make it work without putting up the set. It's a shame not to use so beautiful a theatre, but we would never fit otherwise. This is two spaces in a row where we have had to really adjust our game plan, and I'm looking forward to the next two large, full-size theatres.

After dinner today, we went bowling at the local lanes. The boys bowled their frames, and then sped away to play video games at the arcade. Sometimes, they didn't even stop to see how many pins the knocked down; the ran off, sometimes vaulting chairs or other obstacles in their haste to encourage Ms Pac-Man to eat the ghosts. We have a full day tomorrow (load-in, performance, load-out) but we have had a nice and relaxing evening. So those kinds of days balance themselves out in the long run. For every day we run around, there's a day we get to lounge.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Say What?!

We had two shows this morning, and both of them went very well. We had audiences full of very small children for both shows, and we could really hear them laugh and gasp throughout the show. But the adventure in the first show was the music... The sound guy had patched his CD player into his board in such a way that we weren't hearing all of the music and narration. In fact, we weren't hearing any of the narration. Now, this would be important once you realize that a good deal of the show relies on the puppets appearing as if they are saying the dialogue. But without dialogue, we had to be very creative and come up with different ways to express what the lines would have been. As the stepsisters, we had to be very specific when taunting Cinderella, and I rubbed my stomach to express hunger at one point. It was a fun challenge, something to keep the show more interesting after three weeks on the road.

The sound was returned to normal, and the second show went smoothly. And we loaded out in an hour and a half, which is our new record. Apparently, other crews want to know our record speed, because it's a matter of honor for them to beat it. The faster that they want to work is completely okay with me.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Acting on a Postage Stamp

I know I haven’t been blogging for quite some time, but it’s only because we have been constantly on the road. Lots of driving, lots of load-ins, many performances, etc. At the moment, we are in a hotel room in Summersville, West Virginia, with two school performances in the schedule. Tomorrow we hit the road and we start traveling down toward Virginia again (we were down there a few weeks ago.) After that, it’s off to Peducah, Kentucky. We’ve been fortunate enough to have very nice hotel rooms, ever since we had to spend two nights in a smoking room. But for a few nights when we were in Pawley’s Island, SC, we had our own beach house. Yup, a beach house. One block from a semi-private beach, we could go out there any time of day, and we had the time in our schedules to do a lot of swimming in the ocean. Last night in WV, we played a serious round of horseshoes, and it’s been nice to be able to relax with the company members.

We are performing in a high school that is seriously too small for our entire set. We couldn’t even put up part of our set, and we had to reduce it so it’s just the puppets and the set pieces. And the theatre after this one should be even smaller, so we’re going to get really good at acting in very small spaces. In Peducah, we’ll have more space than we will know what to do with, but for the moment it’s going to be semi-tight quarters.

I promise that I will try to keep a better record of our travels on the road, and I might also be able to catch up on some things that have already happened.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

A very full day

Our schedule today ran something like this... Keep in mind we are now in the Central Time Zone.


5:00am - Call to be at the van to head to the theatre
5:20am - Arrived at theatre, began load-in of our set
6:00am - The excellent union crew arrives to work practically nonstop until....
7:15am - The proscenium is raised into place.
9:30am - Half-hour call before performance, the actors get dressed in costume
10:00am - Performance #1 for school groups
11:30am - Lunch at a charming Japanese restaurant in Champaign, IL
1:00pm - The technical director returns to the theatre to focus lights; Actors go to their hotel
5:20pm - Call at the van to head to the theatre
6:30pm - Half-hour call before performance
7:00pm - Performance #2 for the public at large
8:10pm - The actors meet and greet a family that won raffle tickets to meet us
8:20pm - Actors and crew begin loading out
8;55pm - The proscenium is lowered to the ground.
10:50pm - Load out is complete, actors return to the hotel
11:15pm - Some actors head out to find dinner, having not eaten a meal since lunch
1:05am - (on Thursday) I sit typing this up before going to bed.

So, what were you doing today?

Monday, October 2, 2006

Mentally spent, physically drained

Wow. Wow. We hit the road at 9am this morning, and drive straight to Adrian, MI getting into town around 1:30. Our load-in started at 2pm, and we wandered out of the building around 9pm, mostly delirious. Now, granted, our load-in went smoother than the one we did in Greenville, Ohio, but we still have to trim time off the endeavour. We're learning how to bring ths stuff in from the truck, and then learning how to arrange it onstage in the most efficient way. But now we're beat, lodged securely in a Days Inn, and get to grab a good 7 hours of shuteye before another long day tomorrow. We all love theatre, so this is the chance that we get to prove it.

We're performing in the Historic Croswell Opera House in Adrian, which has a long and rich tradition to it. It's the oldest theatre in Michigan, and people like Sousa and Edwin Booth have trod the very same stage that we will in the morning in "Cinderella." We're a part of a great legacy in this building. We've been fortunate to have two gorgeous spaces to perform, and we know we're going to many similar places. It's a great way to tour the country, and I'm looking forward to those days when we can find more local color.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Driving into Ohio

So, we spent 14 hours on the road yesterday, finally reaching Ohio at 11:15 at night. We found our rooms, crashed, and then played a few rounds of Texas Hold-Em, in which I lost almost all of my little pieces of yellow paper. We're actors, we can't play for real money. At this point, we're looking forward to loading our set into the theatre this afternoon. The task itself is a little daunting, but we have enough time to sort things through and really work on this little project of ours. So we can learn how to do it right.

But... some highlites of the trip on the road include... Those in the van watching the truck as it maneuvered through narrow gaps and around other vehicles. The much-larger trucks that dwarfed ours by comparison, the big rigs looking down on their annoying kid brother who always follows them around the neighborhood. - "Hi... I'm Enchantment! Anyone wanna see a magic trick?" We also sampled the fine dining delights of "Steak N Shake" for dinner, while we tried to ward off the effects of the Starbucks everywhere. If we want anything other than gas station coffee that was brewed sometime in the last week, Starbucks is now our only option.

But it goes well so far. Lots of driving, and today lots of work. And then tomorrow we finally get to perform, and then load out. But on the plus side, we're staying at a kick-ass beach house when we get to South Carolina.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A giant game of Tetris


Packing the truck. Let's put it this way: Our contracts say that we should be able to do it in 1.5-2 hours. If that is the case, then we will have to find a much faster way to do it. If we can shave, oh... 10 hours off the time it took last Friday, then I think we'll be in business. Yup, that's right. We were packing our truck until 1:30AM last Friday (technically Saturday.) Now, granted that much of that time was spent in actually learning what to do; on the road we'll already know it and be able to take much less time.

Which is a good thing, because there are days when we won't have that much time between performances, much less only for our load-out. I sat with Shannon from the theatre today, and we went over our touring schedule day-by-day and line-by-line. There is an amazing amount of work that we are going to have to do in a very short period of time. But now that we have everything set down on paper, it should seem to be much more managable. They even gave me a company cell phone for all of my business calling. I've talked to a few contacts at our venues, and all of them have been very friendly so far. It's going to be a very fun tour; if only for the week that we are going to spend in Peducah, KY. Yup. We will spend 4 nights there, so I hope that we can find something to do. Or I hope we bring enough board games and DVDs.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Another week down

We have arrived at the last day of rehearsal. We spent the week working on making everything clear in the process. We would go over the same sequence again and again, looking for ways in which every moment can be clear. We look at the scenes we did almost a month ago, and then we can find a better way to tell our story. Our director talks about finding the dramatic tension of every moment of the play - what are the two opposing forces at work in any given moment? With that in mind, we looked for the best way to tell the story. Would it be best for Cinderella to look at her father at this moment? Or is the story better told by having the father shift the focus toward Cinderella? Or do both of them need to shift toward the stepmother? Looking at these factors, we maneuvered our way through the play.

Tomorrow morning is our first official performance. We did a preview for friends and benefactors a few nights ago, but Friday morning we will be performing for a group of school children. Almost half of our shows on the road will be of that type, at school auditoriums or for bus tours that have taken a field trip to see us.

After our show tomorrow, we're going to learn how to take down our set and then pack it into the truck. It's an art form in and of itself, learning how all of those very large (and heavy) pieces of wood and metal can fit into our truck. It's going to be like playing with a set of very large and very heavy Legos. Or rather like one of those IQ puzzles that you can play with in stores in the mall, where you have to figure out how to get the red truck out of the city block, without removing any other pieces. Our preview performance and then load-out will end our rehearsal time. We'll have just under a week off, and then we will hit the road toward Ohio for our first touring performance.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Last and First

Yesterday was my last day in my temp summer position with Pella windows. I was responsible for scheduling the deliveries. Yes, I was the guy who called people up to say "Hi, we are going to be delivering your door tomorrow, please make sure you are home at 12:45 to receive it!" It was basically two tasks that you needed to understand, and then there were a thousand different variations on those two principle ideas. Like calculus. The office was a great place to spend the day, from Clausen the fish down to Moose the fish, and everyone else in our own little cubicled world. The boss was also considerate enough to allow me the time off for that first rehearsal week, so hopefully they can come check out any shows we have in Philly. One co-worker was more-than-appropriately delighted over the Julia Child corn maze. She must have a thing for bringing people together...

This is also the first post written in a Panera Bread from my new wireless laptop. My old computer was literally from the previous century, so I decided that an upgrade was in order before hitting the road. This way, updates to the blog and last-minute checks for directions can be done on the road as we go. As much planning ahead as I intend to do, it's going to be nice to have the flexibility once we hit the road. We can also crowd around the widescreen display to watch whatever movies we may bring, as well. The laptop will also serve me well after I return from the tour, too. My former computer was literally too old to load correctly.

Our second week begins tomorrow morning, and we'll all get together to see how much we remember about our show. After we assemble that monster of a set again.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

End of Rehearsal Week One

It has been one long week for us with Cinderella. We blocked out the entire show by Sunday afternoon, and then had a couple full runs that were not without their own share of problems. On Monday, our director came in to watch the run, and then we started the process of breaking the show apart again to look at it moment by moment. He stressed that at every second of the show, we need to know exactly what the tension is and exactly where the focus should be. So our next week of rehearsals in late September will be taking the show beat by beat so we can tighten the focus and the tension in every scene.

We have also all realized just how much work this tour will be, since Monday was our first experience taking down the set we’ll be using. It’s a heavy thing, and it’s going to take some practice to get to the point where we know exactly what needs to happen technically. As company manager, it’s my goal to get the group to the point where we can raise and strike the set almost by ourselves, and we all have specific jobs and know exactly what needs to be done. Some of our performances are going to have very quick load-ins, so we need to get this process down to a science. Even though we’re not rehearsing for the next three weeks, I’m going to spend it planning out some of our trip and handling any logistical things that might come up.

And when we’re in western Massachusetts, we are going to try to take a detour to a cornfield maze in the shape of Julia Child. Some members of the company are far too excited about this plan… check it out at

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The first half (or so)

After two full days of rehearsals, we are just about halfway through blocking the show. Which means we've had all the fun of learning choreography based off a videotape of a previous production of this show. We also have former cast members helping us and teaching us the ropes, and their assistance has been invaluable. They can point out little tricks they learned using these puppets and props for almost a month, and they can clarify sections that seem to be fuzzy or washed out on the tape. The first day went very smoothly, learning how the Stepsisters can torture Cinderella. But on the second day after the Fairy Godmother appears, our group slowed down just a bit; the movement became much more complicated.

We've also been working hard with our puppets. The stepsister puppet is strapped to our shoulders, and one hand manipulates her head while the other hand is one of her hands. I've had to work on getting all of my sister to move independently. For instance, she should always look where she is going, so the head needs to point in a different direction than the body. Shifting the focus of the head always seems to be the hardest part, because I'm so focused on the rest of the body that I sometimes forget I have to move the head as well.

Also, for a minute or so at the end of the day, my other sister thought that she had lost her puppet. How someone can lose a five foot red puppet was beyond all of us, but we had a tense minute or two while we hunted for her. Turns out she was hiding underneath my puppet. I think she just didn't want to rehearse anymore.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Welcome to Enchanting Journeys, the online blogspot that will (attempt) to chronicle the lives and travels of a group of actors working for Enchantment Theatre Company, as we tour the East Coast with a production of Cinderella. Enchantment Theatre is a company based near Philadelphia, PA, and the majority of their work is done with magic, masks, and puppets. Cinderella is no exception. We have masks for the Prince and Cinderella, and the stepmother and stepsisters are full-body puppets that the actors wear in front of them. Our show also has hand puppets, magic tricks, a very large set pieces, and lots of other fun stuff.

But now for the introduction... My name is Nick, and I play one of the stepsisters in this production. I am also the company manager for this tour, which means that it is my responsibility to make sure we have our driving directions, housing accomodations, and all business that may come up as we travel around this winter. I will also try to update this site as much as I can while we're on the road, so I hope you will check back for more information to see what we're up to.

Break a leg, and wish us well.