March 17, 2010

Travel Days: Iowa –> Florida

I call this: On the Road Again,tech,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:38 pm


After our 4AM load in and 3PM performance in Ottumwa, IA, we began loading out at breakneck speed.

On their way out, the cast posed for a picture before heading back to their hotel, anxious to begin their three-day trek to Florida.

The local crew was very ambitious and believed from the start they could break our record of two hours and 15 minutes. Here Nick and Jason enjoy the downtime the truck crew gets while waiting for the walls to be disassembled.


They did indeed break the record, by about two minutes! We then piled into the bus, on our way to the sunshine. But first we stopped at a local restaurant for dinner, where we ran into some members of the cast and production staff. We said our goodbyes, and then hit the road for real.

MONDAY: 10:00AM-ish

We awoke in Nashville, where our driver, Jim, lives. Jim parked the bus in the parking lot of a mall, for us to spend the day while he spent some time at home and slept. In addition to the bus, however, he also left us one of his own cars (!!) in case we wanted to get around town! Devon was pretty much the only one who used it, I think, to go to his favorite pancake restaurant. The rest of us were too lethargic to go anywhere but the mall.


Jim came back to the bus at our scheduled departure time, and brought with him a present to lend us: a Wii(!!). Now a Wii on a bus is not always a great idea, but this bus does have a slide, which makes it possible for two people to swing their arms around in the front lounge without breaking anything. We also learned sadly that our very awesome bus is not coming back on the next leg — somebody else wants it. We think it might be Jay-Z. Whatever. Doesn’t he know who we are??? We are hoping that Jim will be able to come back, though. Tour buses are like children: we don’t really care which one we get as long as it’s healthy.

With Jim back on board, we headed south!


When we didn’t stop for dinner for a while, and I got tired of the satellite cutting out while we were trying to watch a documentary on the Unabomber, I went to bed. I was awoken by Devon, asking if I wanted the best hotdogs in the world. I didn’t really want hotdogs, but I wanted something, so I got up.

When I got to the front lounge and peered out the window, I saw a surprisingly familiar sight: we were right in the heart of Atlanta, on Peachtree Street. I said, “wait, I know this corner!” and sure enough we passed by the stage door side of the Fox Theater, and I thought to myself, “this is the way to that burger place!” I soon realized that was our destination: The Varsity. I had never heard of their hotdogs, but I had been taken there at the promise of the best burgers in the world, when I was at the Fox for two weeks doing merchandise on the Scarlet Pimpernel tour back in 1999. Unfortunately, Varsity had closed five minutes early, and would not serve us. So we continued driving, watching South Park, and eventually stopped for fuel at a truck stop with a McDonald’s. Not so exciting. Then we went to bed for real.

TUESDAY: 10:00AM-ish

We awoke in the parking lot of our soon-to-be hotel in West Palm Beach. We were not officially supposed to arrive until Wednesday, so we just got a crew room for the first day. After a day-and-a-half without a shower, that was our primary concern, and we rushed through our turns in the shower until our scheduled 1:30 tour of the venue, which is right down the street.


The five of us who are involved in the onstage and backstage layout of the show (me, Nick, Bobby, Devon and Olivia) walked to the theatre, where we were met by two of the technical staff, to have a conversation we thought would be about how screwed we are.

The theatre is a black box with a raised stage. Even without the raised stage, it would be barely big enough to fit the set, and with the platforms, it is not actually as big as our marley floor (which we were assured would always be the minimum size of every venue on the tour). We’ve been talking about this on the bus, in hotels and restaurants all over the country for at least a month, so there have been many plans devised, and questions going back and forth to the venue staff about possible solutions.

We laid out Olivia’s tape measure to see how wide the set would be, and began brainstorming. We were told where additional platforms could be added to the stage, and where stairs could be located. As we talked over it, we got more reassured that there weren’t any major obstacles to the staging. The big thing was that we really didn’t think our platform, Fred, would be able to fit anywhere, even if he had to be lifted to stage level. Bobby and Olivia had planned to use Wednesday to go to Home Depot and buy supplies to build a mini-Fred. Thankfully, we realized we didn’t have to do that.

Somebody pointed to the slightly extra amount of width stage left and said, “it’s too bad that space isn’t over stage right, we could put Fred there.”

Massive lightbulb went off. “We can put Fred stage left. We’ve never had to do it, but it’s one of the possible plans for dealing with a Fred problem. It just means more light gets cast on the crew.” We’re also going to work with Devon to see if anything can be done so the crew isn’t walking straight through the light from the floor par. But even so, the fact that our real Fred can live on stage is better than any of the other possibilities, so we left after our short tour feeling much better about our load-in on Thursday.

Here’s a view of the house:


Back on the bus we began hooking up the Wii. After a couple quick games of bowling, Nick, Olivia and I went to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch, where we sat outside and drank pina coladas. The entire rest of the tour was worth it for that one hour. It felt like a paid vacation.


We ate way too much, and stumbled our way to Barnes & Noble, and then back to the bus, where Bobby and Matt were furiously battling each other on the Wii.

Here Nick and Olivia look on while Matt and Bobby race.


Me: asleep on the bus. Bobby texts me to let me know we can check into the hotel. I had asked him the night before if we had early check-in, and he said the front desk would have to let us know in the morning.

I was anxious to spread out into my own room, to take a shower, and to get away from any planned St. Patrick’s Day festivities, so I got up right away and gathered my stuff as quietly as possible, and headed to the hotel.

I was also anxious because I got confirmation that my new flashlight would be delivered today. For more about that, read my flashlight post.


I was getting my laundry ready when I happened to check Twitter and read that Nick was also doing his laundry. So we met up for lunch at the restaurant in the hotel, while waiting for our laundry.


After doing laundry, I have torn apart my suitcase, made piles of things, and have been making copious lists for what I’m going to bring home with me on vacation, so that I can lighten my load for the final leg. As I did on the last leg, I’m only taking my backpack and Acting Company tote bag home with me, so I have to think carefully about what will fit in those bags and can be taken on a plane. Getting my suitcase emptier is especially important because at the end of the tour I also need to be carrying all my personal possessions that normally live in the work box.

The rest of my night is free, who knows what I’ll do. I’d be happy to hang out and do some little projects, maybe read a little. 8:00AM load in tomorrow, with a 7:30 show. This one is going to require a lot of energy and clear thinking!

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment