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


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.


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.

March 10, 2011

Gonna Miss Touring

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:39 am

With the tour almost over, this morning I’m reminded of one of the things I’m going to miss most.

We just checked into a hotel this morning. We always arrive early in the morning after driving overnight, so early check-in makes our whole day. At this particular hotel we knew the manager, so when the rooms of the correct size weren’t ready for check-in, we got upgraded to suites because they were vacant. Regardless of the upgrade, this has been true of plenty of the hotels we’ve stayed at this year, many of which have been suites.

My bedroom is the size of my living room back home.
My bed is only slightly smaller than my bedROOM back home.
And my living room is the size of my entire first apartment.

It doesn’t help much when we rarely stay more than one night, and can’t really settle in. But still, it’s nice.

The one thing I will say is that at $89 a night, this particular hotel would be much more expensive to live in on a monthly basis than my apartment. So there’s that. I remember being on tour in 1999 and spending a week in a 1-bedroom suite with full kicthen that was huge and cost the same as my studio apartment. That was depressing.

The other thing about staying in such nicely furnished places is that I’m more inspired about ways I can make my apartment feel more like home. I’m out of town so much, and so often unemployed when I’m home, that I never really bothered to furnish it beyond the basics of bed, desk/chair and shelves. It really is more welcoming to come into a hotel room that’s nicely set up. So I’ve been observing things that make hotel rooms feel cozy and useful to me, in the hopes that I can inexpensively improve my own dwelling when I get back.

March 5, 2011

The Calling Couch

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:52 pm

I have several dreams in life. I’d like to be a Broadway PSM. I’d like to have an apartment with laundry machines in the unit. I’d like Hal Prince to see me call Phantom. Other than that, my dream was to call a show while sitting (or ideally, lying) on a couch. Preferably multiple times, but just once would be good.

Picture it: Phoenix, 2009

Our story begins in Phoenix, Arizona, in the spring of 2009. We were playing the Herberger, and I was assigned the orchestra-level booth to call from. At the time, it looked like this:

The couch was inspiring, but as you can see it’s way too low to see out the window. More than anything, I was frustrated and perplexed. All it needed was to be put on a 4×8 platform about 3ft high and it would be the most amazing thing ever. Why had it not been done? This haunted me for years.

This fall, we went back to the Herberger, where sadly, no further work had been done on the couch. In fact the sound console was on that table, blocking the view even more, and making the booth feel a little cramped.

Enter Fairfield, CT

A few weeks ago, we played a day in Fairfield, CT (just outside Bridgeport). Often when I scout my calling position I judge the booth based on how it looks from the stage at first. Does it look like there’s a crapload of stairs? Will I have to fight my way through the audience? Does it look nice and spacious inside? Is there a calling position backstage? Most importantly, is there a camera? If not, I generally won’t call from backstage unless there is literally no front-of-house position.

On this particular day it was a nice venue, and they probably had a backstage calling position, but I was predisposed to want to call from the house because our big bosses, Margot and Ian, were coming up from New York to see the show, so I wanted to be seeing the show as they were seeing it.

I spied a spot booth at center, which I always love for two reasons:
1. it’s generally unused, because our show doesn’t have followspots
2. the low window affords a nice view, and sometimes even a sill which can serve as a footrest.

So I declared that I preferred to call from the spot booth. It was many hours before I ever went up there. When I finally did, I was astounded to find…

It was not so much a calling couch as a couch for the spot ops to recline on when not doing cues. The couch was against the back wall of the booth, where it didn’t afford a full view of the stage, but dragging it a few feet toward the window provided a perfect view. I took a nearby wooden step as a footrest, and set myself up with a music stand off to the side. With my computer sitting on the couch next to me, I had a perfect setup.

During the first act, my board op, Alex, who was sitting in the adjacent lighting booth, was very much amused by my love of the calling couch. At one point I commented that the only improvement I would make if I was sitting down for a long run would be an end table with a bowl of snacks on it. Of course when I came back from intermission there was an end table (he couldn’t find any snacks), and a pillow so that I could sit up more comfortably (the couch had a very far-leaning back which made it hard to relax and see the stage). It might have been the greatest three hours of my career.

Here’s a very rough picture of my view:

February 15, 2011


I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 3:38 pm

My job is sometimes hard.

I have a lot of responsibility, to make everyone happy, even when some people’s desires are in direct opposition to each other.

Sometimes I’m more-or-less asked to do the impossible, without the things I normally need to do my job.

I do a lot of physical labor in unpleasant weather conditions.

I don’t always get enough sleep.

I don’t always have access to a shower or a bathroom when I wake up.

Sometimes I just don’t get a day off for a while.

But when I do find myself in a place with a shower and a bathroom and a few hours before I have to go back to work, sometimes it has a private deck that looks out on this:

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