Sunday, June 29, 2008

22 One-Weekers: I'M NOT DEAD YET!

Sunday, June 29th

Sunday's two shows in Fort Worth mark the end of our odyssey: 22 one week engagements in a row. The last time several members of the crew had a day off was in Washington, DC - on January 1st. Needless to say, the whole company is looking forward to Tuesday's day off in Vancouver as well as staying put for a whole, glorious month.

In celebration, I've created this one-weekers retrospective:

Week #1 - Providence, RI (January 29 - February 3) Farewell to Jeff & Michael

Week #2 - Hershey, PA (February 5-10) On the corner of Chocolate & Cocoa

Week #3 - Nashville, TN (February 12 - 17) Onstage at the Grand Ole Opry

Week #4 - Jacksonville, FL (February 19 - 24) Gators outside the Candlewood

Week #5 - Fort Meyers, FL (February 26 - March 2) The first spring training game with Matt, Scott and Wally

Week #6 - Miami, FL (March 4 - 9) Gary Beach takes over as King Arthur

Week #7 - West Palm Beach, FL (March 11-16) The Coconut Cottage

Week #8 - Clearwater, FL (March 18 - 23) Lee's going-away party (w/ Crawdaddy) at O'Boobigan's

Week #9 - Orlando, FL (March 25-30) Tigertown with SME, Rhoda and Donn

Week #10 - Birmingham, AL (April 1 -6) Wayne lights Vulcan's torch

Week #11 - Greenville, SC (April 8-13) Brian's going-away shot night turns competitive

Week #12 - Raleigh, NC (April 15-20) Raleigh Memorial Auditorium

Week #13 - Dayton, OH (April 22-27) Tony wins the Battle of the Beards

Week #14 - Milwaukee, WI (April 29 - May 4) JV & SME enjoying the fruits of the Miller Brewing Company

Week #15 - Appleton, WI (May 6-11) Gary enjoys a shot from the ice luge

Week #16 - Madison, WI (May 13-18) JV & Matt take in a Brewers game (and Sausage Race)

Week #17 - Grand Rapids, MI (May 20-25) Karl in a replica of Gerald Ford's Oval Office

Week #18 - Minneapolis, MN (May 27 - June 1) Karl & Mary Tyler Moore - You're Gonna Make it After All!

Week #19 - Oklahoma City, OK (June 3-8) Jamie outside the OKC Civic Center Music Hall

Week #20 - Albuquerque, NM (June 10-15) While the show was in NM, I was in MI...

Week #21 - San Antonio, TX (June 17-22) I survived the attack zebras!

Week #22 - Fort Worth, TX (June 24-29) Atop Pecos Bill

Next stop, Vancouver, BC (July 3-27)!

Along the way, there have been many comings and goings...

Michael Siberry (King Arthur) was replaced by Christopher Gurr and then Gary Beach

Jeff Dumas (Patsy) was replaced by Brad Bradley

Wally Dunn stepped in for Sir Bedevere while Gurr played the King

Sabra Lewis (Ensemble) was replaced by Cara Cooper

Julie Barnes (Ensemble) was replaced by Bree Branker

Brian O'Brien (Ensemble) was replaced by David Havasi

Jonathan Brody (Ensemble) was replaced by Richard Costa

Piper Arpan (Swing) was replaced by Sarah Lin Johnson

Ben Whitely (Maestro) took a leave and was covered by Adama Souza and Greg Brown

Vera Pizzarelli (Props) took a leave and was covered by Terry Thomas

Tony Pittsley (Sound) was replaced by Aric (Zippy) Christensen

Jeff Klein (Company Management) was replaced by David van Zyll de Jong

Ken and I (Stage Management) took vacation and Bret Torbeck covered for us

Patrick Heusinger (Sir Lancelot) took a leave and Brian O'Brien returned to cover

Just this week, Mike Berg (Electrics) prepared for his leave and John Beatty joined us to cover

Suzanne Storey is likewise preparing for a leave, Elaine Jarzabski has returned to cover

Each of the departed left their mark and is missed, just as the new people have all been welcomed into the Spamily.

It's been a busy six months. I can't believe how quickly it has flown by!


Saturday, June 28, 2008

San Antonio, TX

Saturday, June 28th

San Antonio was the perfect place to rejoin the tour. I had a blast there. The hotel was lovely. The theatre was just the sort that I enjoy - a room with lots of history and charm. The city was walkable and there was a great variety of things to see and do.

I arrived in San Antonio Monday evening. As soon as I stepped outside, the heat took my breath away. Every day the temperature went up near or above a hundred degrees. I checked into my hotel - the Saint Anthony. The Saint Anthony opened in 1909 and remains a very charming hotel today. My room was tiny, but I fell in love with it immediately. It featured a big four poster bed that I nearly needed a step stool to climb into and great old finishes all around. Just as I enjoy a theatre with history and charm, I liked my room because it had character.

My little room and great big bed

TVFMHRW San Antonio - forget that, look at the bed instead

I hit the River Walk on Monday night and after I wandered around for a bit, I came across team Wardrobe dining riverside at Boudro's. Boudro's bills itself as a Texas bistro. The menu features seafood from the Gulf, Texas beef and quail, lots of Mexican influences and even some barbecue. We all enjoyed some prickly pear margaritas and a great meal al fresco. Tuesday's load-in lunch with team Spam-a-management and a between shows meal on Sunday with Jeff and Roy were also shared at Boudro's.

Wednesday Angela and her sister (who's a transplanted Texan) took me to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. It's a drive through safari at the edge of Texas Hill Country. The ranch is home to a mix of creatures from all over the world. Bison share pastureland with long horn cattle, giraffes, rhinos, camels, emu and wildebeest. Angela had been to the ranch before and was focused on luring zebras to our car; we snuck in bags of carrots to supplement the kibble the ranch provided. At first, none of the animals were very interested in our carrots or our kibble, but we quickly made friends with a deer. As soon as he tasted the carrots, he wouldn't leave us alone - he even chased our car for a while! A long horn also really got into our carrots and started to frighten us a bit, what with his enormous horns, as he kept coming back for more. All of this was small potatoes, though, in comparison to the attention we got from the zebras. We stopped traffic in the park while the zebras swarmed around us. They were the most friendly / aggressive animals in the park. They wanted the kibble from everyone, but were crazy for the carrots. The more dominant animals would chase away the others and reach their heads right into the car to get at the carrots. It was a riot!

Angela's sister get up close and personal with a zebra

Angela looked like this a lot


On our way back into town, Angela treated us to a Mexican joint that became a favorite of hers while she was in town with The Lion King. Cachito de Mexico was delicious - the first of many delicious Mexican meals I was to enjoy in San Antonio. After lunch, we visited El Mercado, the old market square in downtown San Antonio. It's home to all sorts of vendors, many of whom have Mexican and Mexican-inspired crafts on offer. We wandered for the rest of the afternoon collecting treasures. We wrapped up the afternoon with Mexican pastries and headed home for a siesta.

Between understudy rehearsal on Thursday and that evening's performance Karl, Francesca, Ken and I went out for dinner at Mi Tierra Cafe. Mi Tierra is a local institution in El Mercado. Since it has such an authentic feel and devoted following, I decided to try something new. I ordered a bowl of menudo, the Mexican tripe soup (not the boy band). The broth, hominy and accompanying peppers, onions and cilantro were delicious. The stewed offal: not so much. I'm glad I tried something new, but I won't be ordering menudo again any time soon.


Ken models one of the hats in El Mercado

Friday morning I took a Segway Tour of town. Vera and I signed up for a tour given on the wacky Segway Personal Transporters. There was a brief class before the tour began on how to ride the Segway and then we were off whizzing about town while standing up! It was surprising how intuitive the controls were and how quickly everyone got the hang of the machines. With a top speed of 12 miles per hour, we were able to see a lot in a short amount of time. We followed the River Walk to its end as well as visiting the King William neighborhood (the old German-town), Hemisfair Park (home of the 1968 World's Fair), La Villita (an arts and craft village in one of the oldest parts of town), the Cathedral of San Fernando as well as the Alamo. After our motorized tour, we walked through the Alamo. The building that comes to mind when I think of the Alamo is only a small part of the mission turned fort that was involved in the famous battle. All that remains of the complex of buildings known, in 1836, as the Alamo is the church building and part of the barracks. It's called "the Shrine of Texas Liberty" and there are signs requesting a respectful silence, but much like the monuments in Washington DC, the Alamo is packed with all kinds of tourists and doesn't feel as respectful as its place in history warrants. I'm not a great fan of Texas lore and legend (my New York pride won't let me enjoy Texans' bombast), but the story of the Alamo - 187 men holding off and army of thousands for 11 days before finally being overrun - is amazing.

Vera and I on our Segways outside the Cathedral

Outside the Alamo

After my siesta, Karl, David and I set out to experience "the worst bar-b-q in Texas" at Rudy's. Karl's brother and his family live in San Antonio and had taken Karl out to Rudy's when Karl visited last summer. He filed away Rudy's and promised to take me there. It was barbecue heaven. We had a feast of turkey, brisket, sausage, pork ribs and chopped barbecue (some of everything chopped fine and stewing in sauce). It was all delicious. None of us had room for the peach cobbler, but we couldn't leave it behind: we shared it at intermission!

David and Karl outside Rudy's

Saturday morning, Roy and I took a boat tour of the River Walk area. The tour was super-cheesy, but really fun. We were loaded onto a pontoon and ferried around the San Antonio River by a guide as full of jokes as he was facts: "There's plenty of native wildlife in the river: ducks, egrets, fish and tourists." The River Walk (or Paseo del Rio) was dreamed up in the 1920's as an alternative to paving over the river. Set one story below the street, the 17,000 feet of original walkway were built by the WPA during the Great Depression. Since then, the River Walk has continued to grow and is the second busiest tourist attraction in Texas (behind the Alamo).

The River Walk from above

With Patrick away on his leave, our swings had a busy week. On Saturday, we ran out of male swings and were facing a cut-down version of the show, but Tera-Lee jumped into one of the boys' tracks! Roy worked some costume magic and fit her into Graham's clothes. They ace bandaged her chest and she went on as the littlest of the men. The whole company had a great time performing with her/him and watching from the wings. Rarely does the whole company sit and watch all the scenes that they're not in, but whenever Tera-Lee was on, everybody was watching. I worked the deck for the first of her two shows and snapped a few pictures:

TL and the boys in Camelot

TL and Nigel in Rio

Too soon, the trucks were waiting on College Street behind the theatre and it was time to pack up the circus. Monday morning the bus was waiting at the curb to take us on to Fort Worth. I could have spent a lot more time in San Antonio, but it was time to press on and bang out the last of the 22 one-weekers.

An album of my photos from San Antonio is here.


Friday, June 27, 2008


Friday, June 27th

Patrick Heusinger, who plays Sir Lancelot, took an unexpected leave of absence last week. He was cast to appear in a role on the CW's Gossip Girl filming back in New York. He'll be gone for the next several weeks. Fortunately, we have two great covers for the role of Sir Lancelot (Nigel and David Havasi both did a great job in their respective turns in San Antonio) and we have been able to convince Brian O'Brien (himself a good Lancelot cover) to return to the tour to help cover.

Since his leaving, we've been keeping an eye on some of the gossip websites for appearances by our own Patches:

Please to enjoy the reader comments...


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Majestic, Indeed

Sunday, June 22nd

Spamalot has called San Antonio's Majestic Theater home this week. The Majestic opened in 1929 as the largest theater in Texas and the first fully air conditioned building in the state. When it opened, the Majestic was the second largest movie house in the country and also hosted vaudeville acts. Like so many grand movie palaces, the Majestic closed in 1974 and was saved from the wrecking ball by its listing on the National Register of Historic places the next year. A not-for-profit foundation took over the management (though the building belongs to the city) and began presenting live acts. In 1989 the theatre was refurbished and in 1996 an adjacent building was purchased and the stage was modernized and enlarged.

The interior of the auditorium is spectacular. Surrounding the 2300 seats is a "Spanish-inspired pirate fantasy village" (thank you, Gurr, for the description). Peacocks perch above the boxes, clouds roll across the ceiling as stars twinkle and vines and plants grow from gardens in the towers and villas that surround the stage. It reminds me of the Fox in Atlanta, but even more so. I can't possibly explain it all, I'll let pictures do that.

House Left

The Proscenium

House Right

Doves take flight above the audience

The grand stair up to the balcony

The grotto in the balcony lounge

The front door - the Majestic is built into a large office building. The arcade covers about half the block and is decorated with painted, pressed tin.

The old movie theatre box office

The support spaces at the Majestic are a little cramped and weird, but it's been such fun to look out and see such a beautiful space.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Saturday, June 21st

OK, so I've been lax lately with updating of the blog. A quick catch-up:
Ken went on vacation. I covered the PSM's chair in Minneapolis and Oklahoma City.

Minneapolis was a blast. I ate at Hell's Kitchen a lot - it's just as wonderful as I remembered it being (I drove over from Saint Paul when we were there - nearly a year ago). In fact, I even bought a Hell's Kitchen t-shirt. Roy and I took a walk along the Mississippi and lucked into a tour of the Upper Saint Anthony Falls lock. It's the tallest lock on the Mississippi at 93 feet and it's also the farthest upstream. Roy and I also wandered around the Guthrie Theatre's new home which sits on the river's bank and contains two theatres, their education arm as well as many of the theatre's technical facilities. I also took a tour of the Federal Reserve's Minneapolis Branch with David. The Minneapolis facility is responsible for sorting, counting and warehousing the 9th district's cash reserves (on average, the Minneapolis branch finds 5 counterfeit bills per day in their incoming cash) as well as processing checks for its member banks. We saw the robots that handle the enormous acrylic boxes of cash as well as the machines where people count the incoming deposits. The machines also scan the bills for wear and tear and destroy worn out money, replacing it with fresh bills.

JV atop the lock at Saint Anthony Falls

Roy and Arthur Miller outside the Guthrie

Minneapolis went by much too quickly and I was on the first of what turned out to be several 6 AM flights through Dallas Fort Worth. I arrived in Oklahoma City with time to check-in to my hotel (the Extended Stay in OKC was ASS - they tried to pass of a "freshly cleaned" smoking room as a non-smoking room; no matter how much carpet deodorizer one sprinkles, a smoking room still smells like a smoking room) before heading to load-in. The load-in got off to a late start due to the long distance between Minneapolis and OKC. Despite starting out behind and a less than stellar load-in crew, the load-in gained ground all day. Tuesday's load-in got us caught back up and the show crew turned out to be pretty good. On Thursday, I got some bad news: our dog, Andy, had been sick for some time - our vet diagnosed him with some kind of growing mass inside his head. By the middle of the week in OKC it was clear that he would have to be put down. Friday morning I was back at Will Rogers World Airport for a 6 AM flight to DFW and then on to New York. I was glad to be home and have a chance to see the Andy Man before he had to be put down and I am forever grateful to Sheila Marie, Shey and our team of dog support people for taking such good care of him. I am also grateful that everyone on team Spamalot was so understanding about my absence and covered for me. Saturday I was back at the airport returning to OKC in time for the evening show. I saw very little of OKC, but did squeeze in a trip to another roadfood restaurant: Classen Grill. Classen Grill was recommended for their outstanding breakfast and they did not disappoint. I had a plate of biscuits and sausage gravy smothered in cheese - I didn't need to eat again until well after showtime.

The first, of what turned out to be many, sunrises over airports - this one is MSP (en route to OKC)

Shey sent me this photo of Andy near the end of May.

This is litterally the only photo I took in OKC: TVFMHRW

Monday morning I was, once again, at Will Rogers World Airport for my last 6 AM flight to DFW. This one ended up in Detroit in the arms of my beautiful wife. We were visiting Michigan to attend my brother's wedding as well as to visit some friends and family. Sheila Marie flew ahead to MI on Saturday and spent the weekend with her family in Edwardsburg before collecting me in Detroit. We spent Monday night with Katja, Jeff & Ella Thomakos in Hazel Park. Katja took us out for some amazing Polish food and we spent the rest of the evening catching up.

JV and Ella

Katja and Jeff - the Thomaki

Tuesday was spent with some more college friends: Paul, Jenny, Stephanie and Andy. They took us to some of their favorite Southwestern Michigan haunts for food and drink. We made a quick stop at the Henry Ford Museum and even hit Greektown before retiring for a night cap at Steph and Andy's home.

Steph, Andy, Jenny, Paul and JV at Icescapes

Steph and Paul enjoy our Saganaki - "Opa!"

Sheila Marie and I headed north on Wednesday. We attended the ceremonial laying of our personalized brick in MSU's anniversary garden - the brick is placed just about where I stood for our wedding! We also ran some errands in preparation for Casey and Sarah's wedding before we met up with Angela and Dave on the roof at El Azteco for some dinner and pitchers of margaritas.

SME, our brick & JV

SME, Angela & Dave atop El Azteco

The next several days were devoted to the Bublitz and Shuck nuptuals. The rehearsal (and attendant dinner) were on Thursday with the wedding on Friday. Saturday, Mom and Dad hosted a brunch for the newly minted couple. The wedding was lovely. The weather turned rainy in the hours before the ceremony, so we all moved inside for the wedding, but the photographer was still able to get some great outdoor photos with Round Lake in the background. The reception was a lot of fun and a great chance to see so many people I rarely get catch up with.

SME and Sarah at the rehearsal dinner

You may kiss the bride - Casey and Sarah

My whole family: SME, JV, Sarah, Casey, Carol & Monte

By Sunday, we were all exhausted and happy to spend a quiet Fathers' Day at home. Of course, Sheila had to be on her way back to Edwardsburg in the afternoon to prepare for her return trip to New York. A whole week with my wife was wonderful, but it only left me wanting more. I'm glad that we have another week together coming up so quickly in Vancouver. Dad took me to the airport late Monday morning and I was, once again, bound for DFW and then back to Spamaland in San Antonio.

There you have it, the cliff notes edition of the last month...