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December 30, 2011

How Was Your Day?

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:45 pm

My day has been OK. I didn’t do much, other than fix what I broke while moving my domain away from GoDaddy as part of yesterday’s “Move Your Domain Day.” (If you’d like to know more about why GoDaddy and the proposed SOPA legislation suck, my new registrar, NameCheap.com, has a decent summary.)

Anyway, my day was just OK until a friend and reader texted me this shot of what was transpiring on 42nd Street:

I actually knew nothing about this, which is a wonderful thing, as my life experience has taught me that anything involving that truck and 42nd Street must have royally sucked for whoever was involved, which thankfully was not me.

So I say, godspeed, unfortunate Acting Company employees and hourly laborers! May whatever you were doing have gone quickly and without incurring the wrath of the NYPD and/or studio management. And as this was less than 4 hours ago, at the very least I hope it’s not still going on!

 

December 21, 2011

Truck Excursion Follow-up

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:33 pm

As I blogged, last week I was sent on a 2-day trip to upstate New York on a little truck-packing project for The Acting Company.

I was going to visit Adirondack Studios, where the set for the new tour of Julius Caesar had just been completed, to supervise the loading of the set into the company’s 53-foot trailer, in combination with the road boxes and part of the set for The Comedy of Errors that was already in there.

The staff at Adirondack was really friendly and helpful, and perhaps most notably, fed me incredibly well, from dinner at a local brew pub the night I arrived, to coffee on the way to my 7AM call, to a delicious lunch during our break from loading the truck. Our account manager and his wife were Acting Company alums from the ’70s and ’80s, so I got to hear lots of stories from the early days on the road, and share my tales of how much things have changed (or haven’t changed!) since then.

Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was the train station in nearby Fort George, where I stepped down off the train at night, literally the only person getting off the train, onto a completely empty platform. It was so awesome. I also got to wait a while for the train on the way home. It was a little busier, because there’s a gift shop/coffee shop in the old train station that got a little bit of traffic, but I got this cool shot down the tracks.

I won’t lie, it’s a cell phone photo, but click the image for a wallpaper-sized (1920×1080*) version. I generally hate wallpaper images that aren’t pixel-perfect, but I have to commend the iPhone 4 for failing in a direction that sort of makes it look like a painting rather than a blotch of pixels (especially the trees).

*I generally think 1920×1080 is the devil’s resolution, but the aspect ratio worked much better for this photo.

 

December 13, 2011

The TAC Truck, Year 4

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:10 pm

The other day, I was out at Ikea with my parents, buying a $10 lamp for my desk, which is seriously the most blogworthy thing that’s happened to me in weeks (thus my silence), when I saw I had a voicemail.

Heeding the old adage of theatrefolk, I checked the message because it was a 212 number (the theory being that nobody has a landline, and if you’re receiving a 212 call from an unknown number, it could only possibly be the office of a producer or general manager who’s calling to offer you a job!) As it is a surprising number of times, it was indeed the office of a theatre company, although I was unexpectedly greeted by a voice I knew: it was The Acting Company.

I think I’ve mentioned — maybe — that I’m not doing this year’s tour, but they know I’m in town and available for other stuff. This particular situation has to do with the truck.

The set for Julius Caesar has just been finished at the shop, up in Glens Falls, NY (for the upstate-challenged, that’s “way past Albany”), and as always, it’s big, and may not fit in the truck, and it has to get to New 42nd Street Studios for rehearsal tomorrow afternoon.

So, having a reputation as She Who Makes Things Fit in the Truck, I have been asked to go to Glens Falls to supervise the load out and make it fit in the truck.

The trickiest part of this assignment is not having to devise an optimized truck pack on the fly for a set I’ve never seen. The trick is going to be doing that successfully at 7AM. The company is sending me to the shop at great expense, not because I’m needed to load the truck, but because supposedly there’s something in my brain that will allow the truck to be loaded better. So really the best preparation I can do for this assignment is to sleep and drink coffee.

I requested an early enough train to get to the hotel at a reasonable hour to have dinner and get a good amount of sleep.

I’m on the train now, which is somewhere between a 4- or 5-and-a-half-hour ride, I guess depending on how express the train is. I have six proposed versions of the truck pack drawn up by the production manager, from which to draw ideas. Once the sun set and there was nothing to watch out the window, I sat with them on my tray table and looked them all over again. I’m optimistic that I can do better than what’s on paper, which of course is drawn conservatively.

Thankfully I don’t have to participate in the unloading of the truck (a load-in or -out at New42 is high on my list of things for which there is not enough money in the world), but I want to make it as easy as possible on the other end, and I know that I have an opportunity to test out some ideas, or create new ones, that will give the show crew a head start in finding clever ways of loading the truck for the tour.

What the truck might look like, and what the people unloading it might look like if they weren’t illegally parked in Times Square.

I’m excited to see the truck again, and to get a peek at the new set, even if I probably won’t have any idea of what it looks like when it’s broken down for travel.

 

July 5, 2011

The Curtain Burger

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:36 pm

This Fourth of July, I perfected the official hamburger of the Comedy of Errors tour: the Curtain Burger.

How it got its name, and what makes it so awesome requires a bit of explanation.

#1: The Rosenberger

Exhibit A, my ASM, Meaghan Rosenberger. During the course of the rehearsal process for Comedy, the company, led by Ian, our director, turned Meaghan’s name into dozens of different variations. There was Rosengardner, Rosengaga, well the list goes on and on. A lot were only used one time in very specific instances. But one of Meaghan’s primary responsibilities in the process was keeping track of the positions and movements of the large silk curtains that made up the bulk of the set. Because of this, when asking a question in rehearsal, Ian would often address her as Rosencurtain, and occasionally, as Curtainberger, if he was calling upon her expertise in matters of curtains, or well, pretty much any time.

#2: The Curtains

This is the best picture I have that explains the curtains. This was taken in the rehearsal studio, so it doesn’t show the whole set, but it indicates pretty clearly that we had three sets of curtains, one behind the other, with red downstage, white midstage, and yellow upstage. When fully on, the curtains could stretch all the way across the stage. There was also a green wall with brown molding all the way upstage, but for the most part, the curtains defined the look of the show.

Here’s a performance shot:

#3: Drinking at Sea Change

The final component to this creation was that once the show was up and running, we spent a good deal of nights after performances at the restaurant at the Guthrie, Sea Change. I believe it was here that the Curtain Burger was invented. My best guess would be that someone, probably Ian, saw Meaghan walk into the restaurant and said, “Hey, Curtainberger!” and somebody else got the idea that a Curtain Burger sounded really tasty. But what was it? Of course, it would have rows of ketchup, mayo and mustard on it! To that I added the idea of lettuce, and an outer ring of bacon to be the back wall. You could also make the argument for pico de gallo underneath the bun, which would bear some resemblance to our elaborately-painted floor (the design of which was determined to be “penis flowers”).

And thus was born the Curtain Burger

My Curtain Burger is the classic variation — just the three condiments and some lettuce to suggest the back wall. It’s actually pretty tasty. Since I’ve been back from touring, I’ve taken over holiday barbecue duties from my dad, and have had several occasions to work on my Curtain Burger. I highly recommend it!

 

July 1, 2011

Safety

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:33 pm


This is a photo that’s been kicking around waiting to be blogged for, oh… two or three months.

On tour one of our almost-daily tasks is marking the set for safety in every new venue. Responsibility for this varies, sometimes the electricians do it themselves when they run cable. Unless you’ve got an electrician who’s a closet stage manager, or has severe OCD, usually it requires a little bit of a touch-up to ensure that even the most blind, uncoordinated unattentive actor won’t do a faceplant over some backstage obstacle in the dark. When you tech a show you have a little time for the cast to learn what not to run into, but on tour we get only a few minutes to give them a tour and then they’re on their own during the show. Usually the walk-around is done with worklights on, so they will never know what backstage looks like under show conditions until the show starts. Thus, everything that they could possibly bump into or trip over needs to be clearly marked to show up under run light. Sometimes this creates a comical situation.

This is our upstage-right corner of the Comedy of Errors deck, looking from upstage towards stage right. As you can sort of see, it’s tucked fairly close to a corner of the theatre wall, meaning the only path from upstage to stage right is directly over the corner of the deck, which is also where all the cables for lighting behind the set are running. I don’t remember who did the tape job on this, it was probably a group effort over time. This was our New York run, so we had a little more time to make it nice. I know I was not involved, except when it was done to be told, “I think you need to check the UR safety taping, and if it’s OK, then you need to take a picture and blog about it.”

I agreed it was definitely blog-worthy. And I, for one, never heard a complaint about anyone having trouble navigating that corner. So good job to everyone involved.

 

May 18, 2011

Most Awesome Photo of the Tour

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:56 am


Now that the tour is over, I’d like to declare this the most awesome photo. It came from the last week of the tour — we were in Ft. Pierce, FL. The theatre was in a cute little downtown area by the marina, with lots of shops and restaurants. There was one shop in particular we loved: it sold beer and candy! But not just any beer and candy, lots of microbrews, and candies that you don’t usually find in most stores.

I was shocked to discover that they sold candy cigarettes — I figured they had been banned sometime in the early ’90s. When I was a kid I loved candy cigarettes, mostly because of the sugary taste, and a little bit because I thought it made me look cool. So of course I had to buy a couple packs.

We got back to the venue and headed to the bus to show those who had remained behind how cool the store had been. I showed Meaghan my purchase, and she wanted one as well. So we each took a cigarette, and headed out of the bus, to stand in front of the truck “smoking,” as that seemed like the appropriate thing to do. We got some strange reactions initially, from our colleagues who know very well that neither of us smoke. But we decided that we needed a picture to document how “cool” we looked smoking out by the truck.

It’s definitely my favorite “Team Stage Management” picture of the tour, mostly because it’s completely at odds with who we really are.

NOTE: Candy cigarettes are cool. Real cigarettes are not.

 

April 11, 2011

The New York Run

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:19 pm

The tour is almost over. Actually the tour is over, except for the people who don’t live in New York. We finish our contract with a few weeks at home, performing our one-hour Romeo and Juliet at Baruch College, and The Comedy of Errors in its New York premiere at Pace University.

Last night was our official New York opening (we had one preview), which culminated in a wonderful party at South Street Seaport. It was lots of fun to have a formal party, at home where we could dress up in our fancy-clothes that we would never bother bringing on the road.

So far we’ve been performing at Pace for two days, and it’s been anything but uneventful.

Load-in was on Friday for a Saturday night show. We had a 5-hour rehearsal scheduled to check tech elements and spacing, and any other brush-ups we needed. One of our actors (one of the leads, actually) had been sick a week earlier and suddenly had no voice. We began our rehearsal not knowing if it might have to be converted to a put-in. Thankfully he was well enough to perform and the show ran perfectly, with great energy. It was actually one of the most feel-good performances I’ve had in my career.

The next morning, before our two-show day, I got the phone call I had feared the night before: our sick actor couldn’t go on. Emergency put-in! Stage management phone tree! Everything went really well, everyone was totally supportive, and while we delayed the curtain time by 6 minutes (which was well under what we assumed it would have to be), we ended up holding 12 minutes for the house anyway!

By evening our sick actor was rested enough to go on (and it was, after all, opening night), so the show went on as usual, again with great energy. Every show we’ve done so far has been totally adrenaline-fueled. I think it will probably (hopefully!) settle down this week, but there is something very fun about everyone having to spring into action to make the show go on.

Today is my last day off, and then we have seven shows this week. I just booked two jobs today — a reading next week, and a day of subbing for the ASM on a show in rehearsal tomorrow. Nothing that will pay the rent, but it’s only Monday, and I still have one more week of full-time employment. This is probably a good sign that my crazy plan to find work in town isn’t so bad, and I haven’t even been looking for a job yet. Honestly I expect to be unemployed and blow through all my savings in a few months. If I can do that while working with big-name musical theatre people, I will consider it a success. Finding work weeks hasn’t been my problem in recent years, it’s that I’m too far away from the people I want to keep and make connections with. I’m also looking forward to doing the types of jobs that I haven’t done in a few years, i.e. every other type of show besides summer stock and tours of Shakespeare.

When not at the theatre, I’ve just been enjoying being home. I think at some point I might continue my project from May of 2006, to furnish my apartment. But that goes back to the thing about blowing through my savings in a couple months. I think that should wait until I have a job, or at least have some massive windfall of subbing. But just adjusting to not treating my apartment like a hotel room has been fun.

 

March 25, 2011

Drinks of Tour

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:25 pm

If I have a reputation for anything in this business it’s my love of fruity beverages. I drank so many appletinis on my first tour that at the end of the run the producer (who was not even on tour with us, mind you) got me a big bottle of Absolut and a big bottle of Apple Pucker as a closing gift.

This year I’ve had many photo-worthy drinks, and we the crew have collectively decided that I need an entire post dedicated to pretty drinks I’ve had around the country.

So…

We began the spring tour in Minneapolis, where we finally went to the Japanese place near the Guthrie, which is called Wasabi. There, my martini was on fire, which is probably a good way to stay warm in Minneapolis in January.

Then we left Minneapolis, on a rare daytime drive to Brainerd, MN. Along the way we found a steakhouse at a truck stop, that was actually very good. I don’t remember exactly what this was called, but it tasted like cough syrup, and yet was still tasty.

Our next stop was Poplar Bluff, MO, where we went to an establishment known throughout the Acting Company (even among the office staff) as “the Mexican place next to the hotel,” where we had GIANT margaritas. While I’m a martini drinker, this is known as “The Margarita Tour” for reasons that are rather complicated to explain, and still wouldn’t make any sense — but especially when eating Mexican, one is expected to have a margarita. Jackee and I had the large, everyone else got the medium. The large was, well, large.

A word about the margarita. Some people think that it’s the margarita tour because there’s a margarita in Comedy of Errors. This is not the case. There’s a margarita in Comedy because it was the company joke.

A few stops later, we were in Clinton Township, MI. It had been a long load-in day, so we searched out a place to have a nice dinner. Bart managed to get us a reservation at P.F. Chang’s, where I had this concoction, known as a “bomb pop martini.” I don’t remember what was in it, but how can you turn it down with a name like that? It was awesome.

The best sushi place we’ve hit so far this year was one I picked in Fairfield, CT, called Wild Rice. I don’t remember what this was called, it was a blueberry something-or-other, and it was delicious and messed me up. I could have stayed there forever eating sushi and blueberry martinis.

Time passed, the schedule got busy, we weren’t around a lot of nice restaurants, we drank a lot of beer on the bus, and finally we arrived in Fairfax, VA, where we stayed at the Fair Oaks Mall. On the day we arrived we had lunch at Champps, where I was reminded of their ridiculous Rockstar Martini, which I discovered last year. The main thing you need to know about it is that it has a rim of Pop Rocks. It’s a very interesting sensation! I didn’t even feel like having a drink that day, but I had one because it clearly needed to be included in this post!

After our next stop, Hampton, VA, we spent a few hours parked in the parking lot of the hotel the cast was staying at, right next door to a Hooters. I had a key lime pie martini, which, when done right, is actually my favorite martini. It was OK, but I’ve had much better.

Then we moved on to Maryville, TN, where we spent a couple days off. At a brewery near our hotel they had an orange dreamsicle martini, which sounded like something worth trying, if it could be done right. Unfortunately it wasn’t. I can see such a thing being really delicious, but however they made it was not the way I would have chosen. For one thing there was too much vodka, and it tasted more like alcohol than a creamsicle, which is all wrong. I later overheard the waitress advising the table next to us that it wasn’t very good. Thanks, lady!

We ended the tour with a few stops in Florida. In Ft. Pierce we ate at a tiki bar on St. Patrick’s Day, where I had this amazing concoction. I don’t remember what it was called or what was in it, but it was delicious, and I had two, which messed me up!

The night before the tour ended, I had an appletini at the hotel bar, but sadly didn’t think to take a picture of it.

 

March 18, 2011

Holiday Inn Express Runs Out of Internets

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:00 am

I bitch about hotels a lot. Almost always, the subject of my bitching is their terrible internet. Occasionally it’s just plain broken, usually it’s slow, sometimes it blocks important ports.

The other night, I returned home from a show to the Holiday Inn Express in Ft. Pierce, FL, and saw this:

I tried to refresh a couple times just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, and then decided that I was exhausted and wasn’t going to deal with it. Some of my other cohorts also reported the shortage of internets.

I. have. never.

 

March 17, 2011

The Thing About Touring

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 3:23 pm


Yesterday I had a revelation. We had a show at the Sunrise Theatre in Ft. Pierce, FL, with a great crew and a really fast load-in, leaving us with several hours to kill along the Florida coast before our 5:30 show call.

I had lunch at a seaside restaurant (literally ON the water), and then went back to the theatre for a short time before the crew was released until show call. Then I took a leisurely walk by myself up and down the marina area, until being invited to dinner at the same seaside restaurant. Then on the way back we visited a cool store that sold lots of different microbrews (I’m not much of a beer drinker, but we have several beer snobs on the bus, so I’m learning by osmosis).

Over the course of this day, which despite being a 16-hour work day, still felt suspiciously like a vacation (and I’d like to point out, that is not normal), I realized what it is about touring.

Sometimes we get to spend our days in places where it would otherwise be expensive to live or hang out, and we get to do it as part of our job, with paid travel and subsidized housing and food costs. Yesterday I could have been sitting on a beach in Florida where it was 80 degrees, or I could have been working in New York where it was 40 and raining, fighting to get up and down the subway stairs. Now the flip side of that is that when it was 30 below in Brainerd, MN, I was wishing I was in New York where it was 20 degrees and sunny. But the other thing about touring, especially with as many one-nighters as we do, is that you’re never in the same place too long to get really sick of it. Don’t like something about the venue or the hotel today? Tomorrow you get a whole new set of living and working conditions.

I think that’s really what I find so fun about touring: it’s annoying at times, but it’s constantly changing, and every once in a while you end up someplace really cool. Maybe it’s because I never travel for fun, but I feel like I get to experience things that I couldn’t afford to do the way most people do — while on vacation — but I can have the same experiences while being paid to be there.

 

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