Saturday, December 29, 2007

Washington, D.C. - Tour Weeks 45, 46 and 47

Saturday, December 29th

It's been great to stay put for a while. The first week here in D.C. was mostly taken up with put-in rehearsals for our new Sir Robin, James Beaman. Week two was all about finishing my Christmas shopping. In between, I snuck in a couple of visits home to NYC.

I dashed home late on Sunday night (December 16th) after the show and was happy to sleep in my own bed for the first time since April. Sheila Marie took the day off on Monday and we decorated a Christmas Tree. That evening, we met up with many, many friends for drinks and hugs. I caught up with friends I hadn't seen since my going away party in February! Of course, the whole visit went much too quickly and I was on the train back to D.C. on Tuesday.

I made a similar dash for home on the 23rd. (I would like to make mention of the toll situation between D.C. and New York - $24 in tolls!!! Everybody takes a cut: The NJ Turnpike, George Washington Bridge, Delaware Turnpike, Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and JFK Memorial Highway.) On Christmas Eve, Sheila and I wrapped and packed up gifts before we headed out for a New York Christmas Experience. We walked by the Music Hall, up 5th Avenue, past the windows at Sacks, under the UNICEF star, through the park, past Wolman Rink and finished up under the lighted stars at Columbus Circle. We wished a "Merry Christmas" to some Radio City Stage Managers (Kari, Joe and Erin stopped to say "Hi" on their way out after the last show) before we headed north with Kari. We unwrapped presents, put together toys and generally had a wonderful time up in Hopewell Junction with Kari, Paul, William and Sydney. We spent the night and continued the festivities on Christmas morning. So much fun to have Christmas with kids! Christmas evening, Sheila Marie and I just relaxed with Christmas Dinner at home. Wednesday it was back into a rental car for the trip to D.C. (what mapquest lists as a 4 hour and 10 minute trip, took us more than 7 hours - one of our ensemble women was on I-95 for nearly 9 hours!)

Yesterday, we went to see Sweeney Todd. Run - do not walk - to a movie theatre near you. It is genius. It's not for the faint of heart - the violence is stylized, but very bloody. Genius, I tell you.

Donn and Rhoda arrived yesterday afternoon and will hang out with us through the New Year. The three Westfalls are currently out on the town seeing the sights while I slave away on a two show Saturday. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the sights along with them on Monday afternoon (we have an early show on New Year's Eve) and Tuesday before Sheila has to go back to New York and Donn and Rhoda head back to Florida on the 2nd.

The National Theatre - home to Spamalot in D.C. The National first opened in 1835 (it's caught fire and been rebuilt several times - the current building was completed in 1920) making it the oldest continuously operating theatre in the US. The National is on Pennsylvania Avenue just two blocks from the White House. Every President since Andrew Jackson has seen a show at the National.

The interior of the National. Since the building is a historic landmark, the interior has to be maintained with historic accuracy. It's painted a shade that can best be described as Tiffany Blue that has started to spoil. It's a teeny house, around 1,500 seats, with great acoustics so it has very intimate feel. The actors love it - especially having come from 2,500 seat multipurpose halls like the Wharton Center.

My neighbor's house.

This shot is inspired by Fran's blog. This is the view from my hotel room window. That's the Washington Monument in the distance.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Wednesday, December 5th

I walked into the Wharton Center on Monday afternoon & it all came back. No tour of this theater necessary. The Stage Management office is across the hall from the dressing room Sheila Marie shared during The Taming of the Shrew ten years ago. The call desk sits 5 feet from the fly rail where I worked my first musical (Hello, Dolly!). Crazy to be back.

SM's dressing room.

My Office.

Of course, coming back to my hometown also means that I have a busy calendar. Load-in all day Monday and Tuesday with opening night. I also did 4 radio interviews on Tuesday morning and took a break from focusing the show's lights to meet with someone from the Alumni Association's magazine. Then there was the opening night party at Beggar's Banquet. This afternoon, we started rehearsals with James Beaman (who will take over as our new Sir Robin in two weeks). Thursday is family day - I'm headed home to Dansville for lunch with Mom, Dad and Grandma. Friday I've been invited to speak to students in the Theatre Department. Friday's show also has lots of family and friends in the audience. Saturday: two shows with family dinner between. Sunday: two early shows and load-out. Monday, I'm on a 7 AM flight to Washington, D.C. Not included here, of course, are all the restaurants, bars and stores I want to visit along with the people I hope to meet up with before and after the shows. I'm excited about all of it.

I've eaten at El Azteco twice since I've been back in town. I'm happy to report that the Topopo Salad and the Cheese Dip are a good as I remember. Beggar's is still one of the most charming and inviting restaurants around. In sad East Lansing developments: The Spartan Sports Den is no more. In nostalgic ones: I know almost no one in the Department of Theatre - Frank and Gretel are Professors Emeritus leaving Denice Detmer as my lone remaining link. The grad student who arranged my talk with student Stage Managers offered to give me directions to the Auditorium or meet me at the Wharton and bring me over. It might have been nearly ten years since I took a class there, but I bet that I could find my way to the Aud blindfolded. (I'd also being willing to bet that I could still climb up the fire escape, through the window in the dressing room bathrooms and then up and out onto the roof.)

It's been snowing here - lending campus a Christmassy atmosphere. The lighted decorations are up on all the dorms. They are, so far as I can tell, unchanged from my childhood. I haven't been feeling very Christmassy myself, but being in Michigan and seeing some snow has helped. Sheila Marie and I bought two advent calendars while she was visiting Columbus and we've been opening a window each night on the phone. It sounds cheesy, but it's really fun! Maybe while I'm in DC, I'll decorate and get into the spirit a bit more...

The snowy courtyard outside the Wharton Center.

In any event - I'm enjoying being back in the land of my people & looking forward to the rest of the week!

Even Kitty and Baby are getting in on the act!

I was interviewed by Mike Hughes of the Lansing State Journal a couple of weeks ago. you can check out the story he cobbled together here. (Ignore the misspelling of my name and the factual errors.)