March 4, 2010

Tour Update: Poplar Bluff, MO and Springfield, IL

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:46 pm

We’re back on the road again, for a couple weeks in the Midwest. We have a new bus driver, Jim, and a new bus which is AWESOME. This bus is everything like the buses of legend we’ve heard about for the last two years. First of all, it has a slide, which means that when it’s parked, one wall of the front lounge moves about two feet out from the bus, doubling the amount of legroom between the couches.

Most of the time we spend on the bus when it’s moving, we’re asleep, and most of the time we’re trying to get work done or relax, we’re parked, so this has a huge impact on our comfort. We also like to all hang out together, and the large couches, combined with the slide, make it much more comfortable for all seven of us to be in the front lounge at once, without somebody getting stuck standing in the doorway. Nick and I will be doing a revised bus tour video soon.

Poplar Bluff, MO

Poplar Bluff (Three Rivers Community College) was our second stop on the tour last year. It was also our first one-nighter. This year felt a little bit different because we’re arriving later in the tour. The first couple venues are always a little bit awkward because we haven’t figured out the best way to install the set, load the truck, and set up the backstage area and dressing rooms. So it was a somewhat different experience to return, knowing exactly how things had to go.

We also got to see a little more of the town because our runner took us out to lunch at a local buffet for some Southern cooking. It was really interesting to actually be a part of the small-town atmosphere. The cool thing about Poplar Bluff is that it’s really the epitome of why we tour. There isn’t really any other professional theatre that comes through there, and the students, staff and audiences were very excited to see us. The show was not only sold out, but they were adding extra seats to accommodate all the people who came to buy tickets. At the end of the show we got our first full standing ovation ever (aside from our invited dress, which really doesn’t count).

Springfield, IL

Springfield is pretty much the opposite of Poplar Bluff — a 2,000-seat IATSE house with all the bells and whistles, in a state capital of over 100,000 people. The theatre where we’re playing, the Sangamon Auditorium, is the house where all the national tours play. In fact, about ten years ago I saw the tour of Chicago there (and ended up randomly selling merchandise at the end of the show when one of the workers got sick). I was very excited to see it on our itinerary, and being here has given me a warm fuzzy feeling that I didn’t quite expect. I mean it’s not like I haven’t stage managed in theatres where I grew up seeing shows, but I guess this one is a little more unexpected, so it feels more special.

We completed our load-in today. The crew was great. I did focus for the first time in a couple weeks, and even with only one or two electricians focusing, and having to share the Genie with carpentry, we got through all the lights very quickly.

We have two shows tomorrow (of course, a 9:45AM student show, and an 8PM evening show). We might be getting more sleep on the bus between shows than we’ll get overnight!