Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Meet Me At The Varsity

Meet Me at the Varsity
Tuesday, February 27th

Back on track with the food tour! Yesterday I hit another local favorite: The Flying Biscuit. Went with several kids from the cast for a very late breakfast (it was a day off, after all). The Flying Biscuit serves breakfast all day along with sandwiches and more substantial home-made entrees. Their namesake biscuits were tall, fluffy and delicious. (I didn’t realize that biscuits, much like barbecue, are a Southern obsession. At the bookstore we visited after breakfast there was an entire cookbook devoted to “biscuit dives” and their various recipes.) I had the “Southern Scramble”: 3 eggs, cheese, turkey bacon, onions and collard greens. DELICOUS! It came with a biscuit, cranberry apple butter, cheese grits and home-made chicken sausage. (Why not all grits are cheese grits, I’ll never know.) I practically rolled out of the restaurant. Everybody was equally happy with their meal – Piper’s French toast with raspberry sauce being another favorite.

The Flying Biscuit

Thank heaven that the Flying Biscuit was a little walk from the hotel; we all needed a little exercise. On the way home, I stopped off and toured the “Margaret Mitchell House”. In addition to preserving the house in which Ms. Mitchell and her husband had the basement apartment, they have a collection of Gone With the Wind memorabilia. The tour of the house is sort of anti-climatic. The whole first floor is mostly empty save for some photos on the wall depicting her family (she’s related to Doc Holliday of Wild West fame) and the various stages of the house and the neighborhood. Then, you go downstairs to the apartment. It’s a tiny apartment furnished with period (only two pieces belong to Ms. Mitchell) furniture. In the corner of the front room, they’ve recreated the desk where she wrote Gone With the Wind. The tour moves on to a room with some of her correspondence (interesting) and then into a gallery space with photos of Martin Luther King. Then, your tour guide gives you a tour of the gift shop. I wish I were kidding. I've posted some photos below in an effort to save you $13.

The exterior of the house.

The front room of Ms. Mitchell's apartment. Her desk is in the upper-right hand corner.

Today, much of the Spamily went to the Georgia Aquarium. It was amazing. The first gallery that we visited featured an enormous tank with 60,000 fish inside. The stars of that first gallery, however, were the 3 whale sharks. These giant fish are 20 feet long but eat tiny shrimp and plankton. Swimming alongside them were grouper bigger than a person, several kinds of sharks and all manner of smaller fish. The final room in the gallery had a wall of acrylic that was 23’ tall and 60 feet wide. I could have sat in there and watched the animals for hours. The other 4 galleries were also amazing. They showcased all kinds of marine life: penguins, sea lions, sharks, beluga whales, jelly fish and on and on. There were several places where you could touch the animals: sharks, rays, shrimp, horseshoe crabs, star fish and anemones. The whole place was amazing.

One of the Whale Sharks in the "Ocean Voyager" Gallery

We finished up the field trip today with a visit to The Varsity. The Varsity is the world’s largest drive-in restaurant, though we ate inside. Its specialties include such belly bombs as chili dogs, onion rings and fried pies. The specialty of the house is their Frosted Orange drink: tastes just like a creamsicle. Anyone who remembers how long I’ve mourned the loss of McDonald’s fried apple pie will be able to guess how much I appreciated this place! Inside it looks like a 50’s movie. The checkered tile and the stainless steel accents are straight out of Grease. The employees are all wearing paper hats and shouting: “What’ll ya have?” It was delightful. Probably best I hadn’t been there until the second week in town as this could have turned into another Rendezvous Ribs-type situation.

The Varisty


Monday, February 26, 2007

More Memphis Photos

A second album of Memphis photos are now on Snapfish

Some of the highlights follow:

The recording studio at Sun Studios. A lot of music history in a little room.

Me standing in for Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, et al.
(I am the living embodiment of rock 'n roll, after all...)

Amy and Tony suited up in our safety glasses for the Gibson Guitar Factory tour.

Those delicious Rendezvous ribs!

Sunset over the Mississippi.

Free Day in Atlanta

Free Day in Atlanta
February 26th

Last week, I visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site. Run by the National Park Service, the site includes a visitors’ center (with lots of exhibits on MLK’s life and impact), the home where Dr. King was born and the Ebenezer Baptist Church (where he was baptized, first ordained and headquarters for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference). Next door is the King Center. Established by Coretta Scott King, the center carries on Dr. King’s work and is also the sight of both Martin Luther and Coretta’s tombs.

The whole experience was very moving and inspiring. I started in the visitors’ center which was, appropriately, packed with school groups. The exhibits gave an over-view of the civil rights situation from reconstruction through the end of Dr. King’s life. There was a particular focus on the Atlanta riots of 1906 and on the Jim Crow laws. Throughout, were quotes, video and audio clips of Dr. King. I also toured the Kings’ home. It has been restored to look as it did when Dr. King lived there as a child. The park service has also bought many of the surrounding structures and restored the whole block to give one a sense of what the neighborhood was like. The house is in a neighborhood called “Sweet Auburn” that was a major black community. Over and over through out the tours, the rangers stressed how this community of people shaped Dr. King. The ranger in the home also highlighted how Dr. King’s family also stressed community involvement and leadership. Everyone in Dr. King’s family was college educated and all were leaders (teachers and pastors).

The home where Martin Luther King, Jr. was born (and lived until he was 12).

The most gripping part of the day was the Ebenezer Baptist Church. The congregation is still active, though they have built a new church across the street allowing the Park Service to take over the older building. Both Dr. King’s father and grandfather were pastors of the church and Dr. King joined his father as co-pastor of Ebenezer in 1960. The church was Dr. King’s home base and the center of operations for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. When I arrived, there were tapes of some of Dr. King’s sermons playing. The experience gave me goose-bumps. I could really feel the presence of the man while I was in the church.

The Ebenezer Baptist Church.

I left feeling very inspired by Dr. King’s words about service and justice. The trip home left me unsettled, however. The mile or so between the King Center and the MARTA train station has many boarded up buildings and not much commercial activity. At the train station, I was panhandled a couple of times (Atlanta also seems to have a significant homeless population and panhandlers often approach me on the street). One guy in particular wouldn’t leave me alone. I rode back to the hotel trying to reconcile all the emotions of the day.

- -

I started calling the show this week. I wasn’t feeling very ready (honestly, I probably should have focused more of my energies on it – I was just relaxing into running my deck position), but Ken suggested I just go for it. I called Act I at the Saturday matinee and the whole show that evening. No one died. No one was even injured. My button cues were sort of everywhere and I’m glad that Ken was behind me or Tim the Enchanter might not have made it on stage, but things went better at Sunday night’s show. The crew was very gracious and I’m sure that they were looking out for me. Thanks to everybody.

There’s a Sunday night tradition on Spamalot: Shot Night. After the last show of each week, a company member hosts shot night. They’re responsible for creating and preparing a shot for the whole company. (Last night, the sound department hosted and we had some sort of coffee flavored deliciousness.) The tradition was passed on to us from the New York company of Spamalot and I think it’s great. Everyone in the whole company gets together for a couple of minutes at the end of the week and just says hello and is social. It floats throughout the group, so no one person is always doing the heavy lifting all the time. Nice.

I’m set to resume my eating tour of America. It took most of this week to recover (I almost said “detox”) from the adventures in Memphis. A few of us are headed out for a big breakfast this morning and then I hear there’s some delicious Mexican (and perhaps mid-day-off margaritas) nearby. Still haven’t been to the Varsity and there’s a highly recommended Cuban place just up the street. I had better get busy.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Photo Catch-Up

More photos from Naples and Memphis are on Snapfish
click here to see them
A couple of highlights:
The marquee at the Philharmonic Center in Naples - GENIUS!

OK, this was right behind my condo....

The Orpheum in Memphis - note the trolley power lines.

The Spamily at Graceland

L to R: Tony, Rick, Francesca, Adam, Callie, Piper, Amy, Jeff, Christopher, Siobhan, Robert, Angelina & JV
Special Thanks to Jeff Klein for scanning the photo!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Atlanta, GA - The "Fabulous Fox Theatre"

Atlanta, GA – The “Fabulous Fox Theatre”
February 21st

The “Fabulous Fox Theatre” was conceived as a meeting place for the Shriners, but before it even opened its doors, the Shriners realized they were in financial trouble and leased the auditorium to the Fox movie outfit. It opened in December 1929 just after the stock market crash that began the Great Depression. After just 125 weeks, in 1932, the Fox Corporation went bankrupt and sold the theatre to a holding company made up of officers from the Shriners; they lost the theatre to the city of Atlanta for non-payment of taxes and the city ran the theatre until 1935. Various people ran the Fox as a movie house with stage shows (similar to Radio City – but w/o the Rockettes) into the 1970’s. The nearly 4,500 seats at the Fox made showing films a dicey proposition, and in 1974 Bell South offered to buy and demolish the theatre as a location for their headquarters. The theater was spared when Atlanta Landmarks bought it and began landmarking and restoring the Fox. Since then, the theatre has been restored and become a major stop on the national touring circuit.

The Fox (like its remaining sister theatres in Detroit and St. Louis) is one of those theatres that you walk in and have to gape at for a while. It’s interior of the theatre is designed to look like an Arabian courtyard. The ceiling is a deep, dark blue with twinkling stars and passing, projected clouds. Over the balcony, a giant “tent canopy” is constructed (both to help the Arabian theme and to funnel sound to those in the upper reaches of the giant theatre). The proscenium appears to be a giant bridge, complete with street lamps along its course (the proscenium is 80 feet wide!). The building also contains an Egyptian themed ballroom, salon with outdoor terrace and a smaller lounge. It’s truly a movie palace.

The Fox also has its own theatre organ. Billed as the largest organ in the world, until Radio City opened, the “Mighty Mo” is spectacular. When the house opens, the gilt organ rises up out of the orchestra pit and the house organ player, complete with silver shoes, plays show tunes until the 15 minute call. Very cool.

The layout of the theatre is VERY strange. Since it was built as a movie house, the stage is exceptionally wide (80’ proscenium), but not very deep (35’ from proscenium to back wall). Our show just fits, depth-wise, but looks tiny, width-wise, in the enormous proscenium. With no spare depth, there is no cross-over for the actors through most of the show. Francesca, Callie (our dance captain), Wardrobe and Hair spent a good portion of the day yesterday moving quick-changes and entrances to limit the number of fast cross-overs for the actors. There is a cross-under the stage, but it is really weird and long. There is one change that the women have to literally run through the basement to make.

We took a break from the load-in to hit a local favorite: Mary Mac’s Tea Room. Just up the street from the theatre, Mary Mac’s is a homey southern-style institution. More southern-style cooking is probably the last thing I need after Memphis! You are seated by a hostess and assigned a waiter, but fill out a strange little card to order, rather than just giving your order to the waiter. I passed up another chicken fried steak in favor of the vegetable plate. The vegetable plate, however, is just a choice of four of the “vegetable” sides (once again, Mac and Cheese is a vegetable). I opted for fried okra, collard greens, squash soufflĂ©’ and butter beans. Probably not the most healthy things on the menu, but tasty. Dinner was nothing special, but I’m happy to say that it was a salad! There seems to be plenty of food variety nearby our hotel. I hope to branch out from the southern specialties a bit in the next week and a half.

I’m also hoping to hit the Margaret Mitchell House, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site and, of course, the World of Coca-Cola while I’m here. Real life will intervene a bit; however, as taxes need to be done and we’re putting in some new company members in the coming weeks. We’re looking for a flight for Sheila Marie for next weekend – I am very excited at the prospect of seeing my beautiful wife!


Monday, February 19, 2007

Goodbye Memphis

Goodbye Memphis
Monday, February 19th

Let me start with some more Memphis photos (thanks to Francesca - these are all stolen from her).

A whole mess of "Spammers" at Rendezvous.

"Spammers" at Sun Studios
Amy, Tony, Callie, JV, Robert, Ryan, Jeff & Francesca

The Spamalot mural backstage at the Orpheum. Props to Vera our artist (and prop person).

Load-in lunch at the Rum Boogie Cafe. (Karl, JV & Ken)

The remainder of our engagement in Memphis was delicious! Special mention goes to the FOTO (Friends of the Orpheum) who made us the family meal between shows on Sunday. It was a home-cooked extravaganza: mac & cheese, greens, scalloped potatoes and on and on... I have no idea how the dancers were able to do our second show.

We moved to Atlanta today. We're playing at the Fox Theatre on Peachtree Street and staying right across the street. I haven't been to the theater yet (8 AM tomorrow), but I understand that it is beautiful. The hotel is also great. We're in the Hotel Indigo; it's a new boutique hotel and really nice. Seems like it'll be a nice place to spend a couple of weeks.

The recommendations have begun to come in for Atlanta. Went to dinner tonight with Sheila's Aunt, Uncle and cousins. We had what the restaurant claimed was the best pizza in Atlanta at Mama Niki's (thin crispy crust - yum). I also understand that I need to try out the cuisine at The Varsity and the cheese cake at Mick's. Any other recommendations are encouraged.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Eating In Memphis

Eating In Memphis
February 17th

I don’t want to leave Memphis. The food is awesome, the entertainment is non-stop and the audiences have been appreciative.

I’ll start with the food. First, I owe a debt of gratitude to Sheila Marie’s co-worker Melissa. She steered me to two of the best southern dining experiences available in Memphis: Rendezvous Charcoal Barbecue and Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken. Vegetarians beware; neither of these two places can serve you a meal. Both of them served slaw and barbecue beans (both as different as those dishes can be) and I’m pretty sure that you could get a salad at Rendezvous – but that’s not the point.

Rendezvous is justly famous for their dry-rubbed pork ribs. They are the tiniest bit sweet; with a wonderful pepperiness and they are slow-cooked to tender perfection. The sauce is served on the side in mild and hot varieties. Little dishes of slaw (mustard based and vinegary) and beans come along with the requisite white dinner rolls (to soak up sauce and scrape up any errant rub) and a sweet tea completes the experience. I’ve been twice and am going back between shows this afternoon. You approach the restaurant from an alley behind the Holliday Inn; just follow the delicious barbecue smoke that makes the hole block smell like heaven. I was literally knawing on the bones.

Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken is on a lonely block of Front Street south of the Orpheum near the Mississippi River. I had to walk in the street around a construction site (all of downtown Memphis seems to be being converted into Condos – though I have no idea who is supposed to live in them) to find it. Again, as you approach there is no mistaking the aroma of the place. We started with fried green tomatoes and fried pickles, both delicious. For the main event, the five of us (3 chorus girls, Sir Galahad and I) got the 16 piece family meal. It came with big styrofoam cups of (surprise!) beans and slaw (this time mayonnaise based and creamy/crisp) and triangles of wonder bread. The chicken was that beautiful golden brown, crisp and the sort of spicy that sneaks up on you. It was moist on the inside, blazing hot from the fryer and not greasy at all. Delicious! There was plenty left over as the pieces were all generous. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was too full to find out what “Chess Pie” is…

(I wish you could read the sign better. It says: "Today's Special: Chicken".)

On a slightly food related note, we went to Graceland yesterday. Others among us sampled the famous fried peanut butter and banana sandwich that may have been a contributing factor to the King’s health problems. They reported that it was delicious – I’m not a banana fan (except for THE banana – “Hi” Cody) so I passed. Graceland itself however, was spectacular. Seriously, I want to live in the print fabric pleated pool room. The house is surprisingly small, but delightful. The most impressive part of the tour was the trophy building: a very long hallway entirely lined with two and three rows of gold and platinum records. Then, when you get the racquetball court it, too, is filled with gold and platinum records that have all been earned posthumously. The costumes on display were also everything that you hope for. I really want to know what happened in 1969-70 that made Elvis abandon the great tailored looks he had been wearing and decide to wear nothing but various flare-legged bedazzled jumpsuits. The whole place is very reverential and sanitized. For example, the narration just says, “Unfortunately, in 1967 as Elvis’ fame increased, his marriage to Priscilla ended.” A really fun day.

Thursday, we went to Sun Studios. I had no idea what to expect, but was really surprised. Our tour guide was fantastic. He really brought the story of the place to life and even gave us a demo of Johnny Cash’s percussive guitar technique. (Country music in the 50’s was done w/o drums. The Grand Ole’ Opry wouldn’t let a drummer on stage as they saw it as a negative – read: Negro – influence on the music. So, Johnny Cash taped a dollar bill loosely around the neck of his guitar. It makes the sound that, until this week, I thought was a snare drum on Walk the Line.) There’s an “X” on the floor of the studio where Elvis was standing when he recorded his first single for Sun Records. Needless to say, everyone got a picture standing behind a microphone on that “X”.

Of course, you can’t visit Memphis w/o hitting Beale Street. When you come out the Orpheum’s stage door, you’re on the south end of that famous pub crawl. Last night we went to the Rum Boogie CafĂ© and the house band tore the place up. They covered everything from Clapton and Van Morrison to Muddy Waters and even played Green Onions on a real-deal Hammond B-3 Organ. Awesome. I still haven’t used my free pass to BB Kings – good thing I have two more nights!

Also thrown in, I’ve seen the ducks at the Peabody do their parade from elevator to lobby fountain. Very strange. The “Duck Master”, dressed in a snappy red sport coat and gleaming patent leathers, gives you a history of the Peabody duck tradition then goes up to the penthouse to collect the 5 famous residents. By this time, a sizeable crowd has gathered. A Voice Of God announcement welcomes the ducks as the elevator makes it’s was back down, then a Sousa march plays, the elevator doors open, and the ducks waddle along the red carpet, up the stairs and into the fountain. While they quack and splash, you look at all the other humans assembled and wonder why, exactly, this is a grand Memphis tradition. But, you laugh a little and then go on to something else.
I’ll wrap up with the most surreal Memphis moment. I was sitting at Quizno’s eating my salad yesterday (the most vegetables I’ve seen on a Memphis menu) looking out at Court Square. There was a man tearing up bread for the squirrels and pigeons. The squirrels were bounding across the park toward the man, but one rodent headed toward one of the trashcans on the perimeter of the park. It climbed up and into the can, disappearing down inside. Shortly after, a homeless man (there are more homeless and pan-handlers here than NYC – everywhere you go people are asking for money, and they all are “hurricane evacuees”) comes shuffling along looking into the trashcans. He comes up the squirrel’s can and leans over when the squirrel leaps out of the can and attaches itself to the man’s coat sleeve. It thrashes around while the man, obviously surprised, stumbles backward. The squirrel then jumps back into the trash. The man cautiously goes back to the can, kicks it and them moves on to the next trashcan. It was life imitating Spamalot. I would have sworn it was the killer rabbit attacking Sir Bors. Thank John Cleese; the squirrel didn’t bite off the man’s head.


P.S. - I sent my first roll of film off to Snapfish and have a second ready to go. I'll add more photos once they're developed...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Memphis - The Show's Open

The interior of the Orpheum Theatre.

Memphis – The Show’s Open
February 14th

As everyone knew it would, Spamalot opened in Memphis last night. The audience was wildly enthusiastic – the French Taunter got a huge welcome when he popped his head out of the castle. The show was a little bit bumpy, but I’m happy to say that most of the bumps had very little to do with me! I’m sure that if I was more familiar with all aspects of running the show, I could have helped smooth things out more, but there were no epic disasters. We even incorporated two new elements to the show last night: a new Camelot Castle and “Mud Castle”. Both pieces are lighter and easier to assemble – great for when you need to load-in and load-out overnight. Once again I’m amazed at the crew – 24 hours after the truck doors opened, we were in front of an audience. This is a crazy way to make a living.

With no rehearsals this week, I can get down to the serious issue of eating my way across the country. Naples wasn’t too inspiring on the cuisine front. The big meal there was Brian’s going-away fondue. Memphis has already been better. When we arrived on Monday, we went to a Creole restaurant on Beale Street: gumbo and crawfish etoufe’, delicious. Yesterday for lunch was a southern spectacular: chicken fired steak, turnip greens, bourbon carrots with mac and cheese (listed on the menu as a vegetable!). Today’s mission is barbecue. Can hardly come to Memphis and not have some. One of Sheila’s co-workers is a Memphis native and she recommended a fried chicken place not too far from the Orpheum.

There are also group trips to Graceland and Sun Studios planned for the week. Memphis also has a small trolley network. With my enjoyment of all things on rails, I’ll have to take a ride – plus it’s only $1! The Memphis presenters are also throwing two parties for us while we’re here in Memphis. Saturday is a party at a restaurant with theatre VIPs, but Sunday the members of the theatre’s guild are making us a home-cooked meal between shows. Everyone’s very excited – the Sunday meal is apparently legendary. Throw in the free pass the presenters gave to everyone for BB King’s on Beale Street, and this might make-up for all the TV watching I did in Naples.

One of the Main Street Trolleys (they're all different and authentic antique...)


Monday, February 12, 2007

The Move

Francesca & Brian

The Spamatruck

The Move
February 12th

Brian left the show on Sunday afternoon. Between shows the SMs and Company Mangers took him out for a farewell dinner (fondue at the Melting Pot – always entertaining dining). After the show on Saturday, the company all came out to wish him well and have some drinks. It’s not easy to step in for someone who was (and is) so well liked.

The show ran pretty smoothly all weekend and I ran the deck solo. Following the show on Sunday night, the crew went right to work on load-out (about an 8 hour proposition). Ken, Francesca and I packed up the office, cleaned out the dressing rooms and went back to the condo for a few hours of sleep. We were on the road to the airport at 6 AM this morning (well rested with our four or five hours of sleep, which was four or five more than the crew had). We returned our cars in Fort Meyers and flew to Memphis (via Charlotte). The SMs, musicians and crew all arrived at our hotels around 1 PM and the crew all retired for a few hours of sleep. Their call to start the load-in at the Orpheum in Memphis will be 10 PM tonight. Francesca and I will join them at 8 AM tomorrow (just after their breakfast break). They’ll keep going right on through show time Tuesday night (a 24 hour call). Most of the cast arrived later this afternoon; they’re due at the theatre at 5:30 for sound check and a 7:30 show.

Ken, Francesca and I walked around the downtown of Memphis a bit this afternoon. We’re staying right on Main Street about 6 blocks from the theatre. There are a couple of trolley lines that run these old fashioned trolleys – very quaint looking. Main Street itself is a different story. It looks like it once was really the main street, now it’s mostly empty store fronts. There’s a big mall attached to the Peabody Hotel, it seems like there’s where most of the retail has gone. (We dropped in on the Peabody’s ducks; they were asleep in their fountain.) Beale Street, while not hopping at 2:30 in the afternoon, certainly looked like it might be more fun than Naples, Florida!

I’m anxious to get through tomorrow. An exhausted road crew and a whole new local crew will be a challenge. I’m also looking forward to seeing the show laid out in a more spacious venue. I’m confident that I know the basics of the show, but nervous about getting my first “first night” under my belt.


P.S. – I have the film camera out here, so I’ll have to catch up on photos as they come in later… But I've added some that Francesca has taken...

Friday, February 9, 2007

Naples, FL - Part 2

Naples, FL – Part 2
Friday, February 9th

Seriously, Naples contains the oldest population of people I can imagine. It’s not just our audience, but the whole town. Every other car on the road is a Lincoln. Today, I was stuck behind a woman driving (and I’m not making this up) 15 MPH on a 6 lane, 55 MPH roadway. She was trying to merge across 3 lanes of traffic so she could turn LEFT into Wal*Mart. Genius.

Aside from the traffic – this seems like a lovely town. 5th Avenue, the “Main Street”, is full of up-scale shops for “ladies of a certain age”. As I was walking along this afternoon, I was unable to find a place to buy a postcard amongst all the designer stores, art galleries and realtors. The street is lined with very nice restaurants and giant palm trees. It looks like a set for The Golden Girls. At the foot of all the avenues is the Gulf of Mexico. The beach stretches as far as you can see is both directions. They have one great long pier that sticks out into the Gulf. It seems to be inhabited by nut brown fisherman, their grandkids and creepy pelicans angling for the fisherman’s catch. As soon as anyone pulls anything out of the water, the pelicans waddle over, snapping their creepy big bills and making sort of low honking sounds. Very alarming.

In any event, things are humming along for me with Spamalot. I shadowed Brian backstage on Wednesday, and attempted the SL track last night (with plenty of help from Brian and the crew). I’m happy to say that my portion of the show went well (there were some unrelated hiccups). Tonight we’ll reduce the number of SMs on the deck down to one (from two) so Ken can get out front to note the show. So, I’ll be learning to run the whole deck tonight – an adventure. It’s still freaking me out a little that I’ll be teaching this to a new crew in 4 days, but everyone else on the tour knows how this stuff goes and they’ll have my back.

Headed into the 5 show weekend (1 Friday, 2 each on Saturday and Sunday) so I’ll have lots of opportunities to get this nailed down & then we’re off to Memphis!


Thursday, February 8, 2007

Day One - February 6th

Day one.

Spamalot's 8 trucks arrived here at the Philharmonic Center in Naples, Florida and began the load-in on Monday. I flew to Fort Meyers and drove down while Ken (the PSM) and the crew got started at the theatre.

By the time I arrived this morning at eight, most of the trucks had been pulled and the scenery was going up, quick change booths were laid out and the orchestra was setting up for their rehearsal. Ken introduced me to Brian and Francesca (the other two SMs) and we got to work setting up the backstage environs. We put of signs directing the company around the backstage, met with the House Manager, checked the stage’s spike marks, ordered playbill stuffers, and generally began inhabiting the theatre. The cast arrived at 6 PM. Ken gave them a brief orientation, introduced me, and then they did a quick sound check (the orchestra checked while we were in our orientation). After the cast and orchestra sang a couple of numbers, they met their dressers and talked down some quick changes. 7:30: ½ hour and then, two hours after they walked in the door for the first time, the cast was onstage for the performance.

I spent my first show in the audience, enjoying the show. I sat at the back of the auditorium with our local presenter, Karl (our Company Manager) and the swings. The show is light-hearted and a little bit ridiculous – a lot of fun. The audience tonight was the oldest audience I’ve ever sat amongst (Gateway matinees included). The man in “lucky” seat D101 could hardly get up and into the aisle – there was no way they were going to drag him up the stairs to the stage – the cast just had to come to him! It was strange to watch this audience’s reaction to Spamalot – I don’t think they knew what they were in for. But, by the end, they were on their feet for King Arthur’s bow.

Tomorrow I’ll star learning the deck in earnest. I have only the six remaining shows here in Naples to master my deck position before I’m teaching it to a new crew in Memphis next week. But for tonight, I’m still marveling that 20 hours after the first truck door was opened, we were performing a Broadway show for 1,400 people. These folks are really pros.