Sunday, February 24, 2008

Travel days wear me out!

Happy Sunday from Coventry, England! A big shout-out to my Fantasticks peeps on a great run. It is closing night over at the Snapple Theatre on 50th and Broadway.

Today Michael and I packed up our lives in Wimbledon and carted it across two trains here to Coventry. Let me tell you, it is highly unfair to take the two Americans who are here for 6 months with no opportunity to go home and swap out clothes, and then make them take public transportation to the train station. Oh. My. God. I thought we might die. At one point, I turned around on one of the London Underground’ famous 4 mile long escalators and saw one of his suitcases tumbling down the escalator steps, while Michael tried to run the reverse way after it. Thankfully, it just kept rolling of the stairs in place, so he was able to catch up to it. Ugh! This part of my world travels will get old very fast. When we get to Houston, I’m going to be SO HAPPY! Touring US style still has it’s dramas, but at least I have someone to load my f’ing luggage onto the bus! Word. Anyway, apart from that, the journey was uneventful. The office booked us a 1st Class train ticket. Fancy! That meant free Coca for me, which I think you all know is the way to my heart. I arrived at my “digs” around 3pm. It’s a lot like being in France I’ve decided. Just staying at random people’s houses. What am I doing? Anyway, thankfully Lucy gets in tomorrow, and then I won’t feel so awkward! I went out for a walk today and found a movie theatre (and an Ikea!), so I saw “Definitely, Maybe.” It was cute I suppose. A nice distraction from being on my own in England’s very own bombing site during WWII. The movie ends with a shot from Brooklyn looking over Manhattan, and it was the first time that I actually teared up thinking., “oh! That’s home!” Interesting. Other than that, I am now a FreeCell world champion. I seriously dare any of you to challenge me. I will totally beat you. So much time without Internet connections in this country has honed my FreeCell skills quite nicely. I’m also reading “The Other Boleyn Girl,” which has been interesting so far. I’m debating whether or not to put in a few episodes of “Arrested Development.” I should probably just go to bed.

I’m also offering 1 shiny British pound for anyone who will hop on a plane and work the horrid kink out of my left shoulder caused by trying to drag my 65 pound suitcase through London’s Euston Station. Ugh. Seriously, by the time you get here, that could be worth like $.45! A great deal I think.

Um, let’s see, what else. For those of you following my sound crew hiring drama, it finally come to a resolution, and I have done my very first hiring! Can I just say that after the hours I spent running 14 million scenarios and breakdowns by schedule and dollars and pounds and whatever, at the end of the day, Rod was like, “well, ok, let’s go with what you suggest, I trust your opinion.” Which, though nice to hear, would have been much NICER to hear 3 weeks ago when I started this project. Never mind though, in the end, I got my way, and that’s the most important part, right? Right.

Alright, time to turn out the lights here in Coventry. Load-in days stress me out so much now because I'm in charge of a lot of random things I don't have to do in the States, and we all know how much I like change...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"But there's no place like London..."

Well, not quite as up-to-date as I was hoping to be, so let's remedy that, shall we? When I last left left you, I was Rat Packing it in Dartford. Not quite the bustling theatrical centre of the UK world, but the people were nice and I suppose it was a good place to get started. It's hard for me to get used to a Saturday load-out, as I've been programed with a Tues-Sun playing schedule and a Monday traveling day, but here, it's all moved up a day, so we play Mon-Sat and travel on Sunday.

Saturday night found me at the venue fighting over the merch statement for hours. Nice to see somethings never change! A simple mathematical error on the venue's behalf was at fault. And being the dorky accountant I tend to be at times, I felt so triumphant for finding it! Of course, it did cause me almost to be locked in the theatre. My office was quite a way down the hallway from the stage, and unbeknownst to me, the load-out had finished and they were locking all the doors, when I ran out in the hallway and was like, "Wait! I'm still here!" Whoops. It was a miracle that I managed to get everything crammed into my computer bag and get out the door without forgetting something! I ran into my head electrician on my way out, and he had two of the crew guys walk me to a cab place so I got home safely. Well done.

Sunday morning, Michael and I (we're Americans, so we travel together) got the train to London. And the two of us and our luggage managed to make it through 3 train/tube stations with all our crap and found a taxi to take us from the Wimbledon Park station to our hotel here in Colliers Wood. As we got out of the cab and began walking to the front of the hotel, we both exclaimed "WHAT!" as we had both seen the tube stop DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET from the hotel. When we asked at the check in which line it was, it was of course the Northern Line which was the first of our three transfers. Ugh! Oh well, live and learn! I unpacked and sorted my 1150 pounds of laundry while watching Smallville (yay!) I didn't unpack in the last two places, but I feel very dishelved when I don't so, as much as I hate packing up on the last night, it makes it worth it to feel a little more at home with my suitcases out of my sight! Around 3:30, I headed into London proper for some sightseeing with Becky (my stage manager for my last 7 weeks of US Rat Packing) I met her at the Embankment tube station, where there was, much to me pleasure, a Starbucks! While I was sitting in there waiting for her, I was thinking, "oh my God! I'm in LONDON!" Very cool! We walked all over the West End and shopping districts. I bought a pair of socks because I'm the most boring person in the world. Also, because the ones I had on kept slipping off my heel, and my lovely Uggs were attacking my left ankle. We crossed the Thames by Royal Albert Hall and the National Theatre for dinner, then headed up the Oxo tower for a drink. It was lame, so then we walked over to a proper pub to enjoy the rest of the night. It was great fun! Very nice to be in some familiar company and see beaucoup de fancy theatre places. I headed home and settled in for the night.

Monday we loaded in at the Wimbledon New Theatre. It was quite uneventful, which was loverly. The show went off without a hitch, and we gathered at the pub across the street to bid farewell to Maria who has been so graciously training me this past 2 weeks. Unlike Dartford, and much to my happiness, this pub doesn't close at 11, but a blissful 12, so I can finish up all my reporting and still make it out to have a drink with the crew and band.

Yesterday was my first day on my own, and I think it went alright. Company management is such a weird little career. You have a certain set of things that must get done, but everyone who does it has their own way of getting there. I always think it's difficult when you get too many cm's together as we tend to be quite an group of bossy, independent people who all think their way is the best! And though I don't really consider my way to be the best, and SURELY know that I have a lot more to learn about implementing policies and such, I like my space to be my own, so once I walked into the office yesterday, I felt much better. Also helping this was the voice of my favorite Scottish wig mistress Morag who was in to help sort out the wigs for the girls I was so happy to see her I almost cried! Morag toured with us for all but 3 weeks in the US and she's really one of the most fantastic people I've met on this show. We chatted and hung out while she dressed all the wigs, and then I went out and finally bought my own UK cell phone. So, now I have 3 phones on me. I'm a total nerd for real now. But this phone is pretty and pink, and if any of you reading this walked into a cell phone store and had to pick out a cell phone for me, I seriously believe you would all chose this one. It's just perfect for me. I suppose I spent way too many pounds on it, but whatever. I did more Houston planning last night getting the visa applications ready for the girls and correcting the new program and getting all my flights to Houston sorted. I think we're finally working with a full crew, which is fantastic! We still have 2.5 weeks, so we're totes ahead of the game. I met up with Mitch (our director) and Jo (our resident director) and the cast, crew, and band at the pub last night. It was fun when everyone was out!! When we head out of London next week, there will probably be more nights like that since everyone won't be rushing to catch a train. Then I headed home, and was blindsided by the worst headache I've had in quite sometime. I tried to sleep, but couldn't, so just worked on box office statements and random Excel spreadsheets. Say what you will, Excel makes me a happier person.

Today, I've been taking full advantage of the internet at the hotel that I sold my soul for. At the theatre I'm using DIAL UP! Do you guys even remember that? Every time I log on, I fully expect to hear Tom Hanks narrating on the wonders of New York in the fall. Anyone, anyone? It's been nice having the high speed, but it's probably about that time to head over to Wimbledon. Much love from London!

Monday, February 11, 2008

They want me to use a modem?!

Oh thank the lord we are back in an English speaking country! We wrapped the show last night, celebrated with a few pints in our chosen pub for the week (located just around the corner from our stage door), then headed back to the hostel for the last time to pack up the suitcases. We met the coach this morning and started on our journey to Berlin Tegel airport. We managed to finally get all 14 of the wardrobe cases checked on-board (a new Rat Pack record we believe!) and hit the friendly skies for the United Kingdom! Upon landing in jolly ol' England, I could almost cry I was so happy to see all signage in words I understood. Maria got Michael and I sorted in our journey which included the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, then a cab to Charring Cross Station, then a train to Dartford. Those places all sound British! Due to someone running around on the tracks, we were stuck at the Heathrow Express Station for about an hour, totally ruining Michael and my plans to see Billy Elliot at night. Bummer. Anyway, once we got to Dartford, we took a cab to our hotels, and then I spent hours and hours both online and watching lots of trashy American television! How much do we love that The Family Guy is on every night here? So much. No worries to any Brits that may be reading along, I also watched Eastenders...

The load in/opening night went very smoothly here. The venue is much smaller than I'm used to back home, but it works very well for this show. I'm happy to have my crew/band back. It's nice to have some familiar faces to get me through the crazy start of this tour. When all was said and done, I took my extra heavy suitcase outside, and could not even seen my hand in front of my face for all the crazy British fog. I just prayed I was going in the right direction, and managed to find a cab. Thank goodness.

Wednesday morning found Maria and me on a train to London to meet all the people behind the email addresses at Flying Music, my new direct employer. They have a very nice office in very posh West London (Robbie Williams used to live around the corner!) It was nice having faces to put with the names I email a million times a day. I didn't get to see much of London still, but had a nice sandwich for lunch. We drove back to Dartford from London (which Tony told me would take about 45 minutes), close to 2 hours later, we arrived at the theatre. No harm done though, Chris was ready to go even though we had his suit in the trunk of the car! What's that you say, Chris? YES! Chris Mann, my original Frank Sinatra joined us for the show Wednesday night! It was so nice to see and hear him! (He even asked how you guys were Mom and Emily!) I hope our paths will cross again so I will have more of a chance to catch up with him.

This morning, I slept FOREVER and then came in for the matinee (which I totally thought started at 2, but it was really 2:30. Oh yes, I'm in charge of this show...) So I had some extra time and spent that doing office supply shopping. My favorite company manager pastime. Dartford left much to be desired in that area though, so I'm hoping next week in Wimbledon will prove to be a little better. The shows went off without a hitch, and now here I am! I spent most of the day working on Houston travel and info (wheeeeee!) and fixing things in my US books. You all know I love to overlap jobs! Though I still feel I have so much work to do on them, I am hoping the end is in sight!

Well, the show has come down, so it's time for me to write the show report. How strange is that? This job is much more stage management than it is in the US.

My random British news of the day: Last night, I watched a tv show about a girl who would only eat burnt sausage, mashed potatoes, baked beans, and French fries. WHAT?

Love to you all from lovely Kent.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ist dieses ein Ethernet Kabel?

Well, I keep thinking I'm going to blog daily from here in lovely Berlin, but as my hotel (please read as hostel) charges more for the internet than it does for my room, so I'm only able to get online from the theatre. In any case, I've had quite a few things happen that I thought, "I can write about this!" so here is my attempt to recap my week in Berlin, also known as the on-the-job training I should have gotten a year-and-a-half ago!

I suppose I should begin my recap with our week in Birmingham, which went by in quite a blur. We played a bit of "are we going/aren't we going" for the 2 weeks prior, so getting everyone on plans and things was put on high speed for the entire week leading up. On the Sunday morning before I headed down to AL, my mom called to tell Em and I that our grandmother had passed away. This news, though not entirely unexpected, was still incredibly upsetting, especially as I was facing being out on the road throughout all the services in Green Bay. But thanks to a worldful of support by everyone in on or around my show, I was able to join my family in GB for a quick trip. Being surrounded by that much love and family (and whiskey) is always a wonderful comfort. I'm proud to say Sus and I made it through our readings without too many tears shed!

Needless to say, that sort of knocked me off my company manager game, so I thank my stage manager and wardrobe assistant for helping me through the rest of the week. Before I knew it, I was on a plane bound for Berlin!

I arrived in Berlin on Tuesday afternoon, exhausted, but no worse for the wear. Thankfully, Maria, the CM I am replacing, was there to meet me at the airport and take me to the hotel, where I promptly fell asleep on the couch watching "I Love New York" on MTV Europe. Listen, when your English choices are so limited, you'll watch anything!

I braved the U-Bahn to the theatre later that evening, and when I came up the steps at Ernst-Reuter-Platz, there was a shining beacon of that wonderful American commercialism that everyone loves to hate. Ah yes, a Starbucks, bringing the biggest smile to my face since I had left the US. Here's what I love about Starbucks, I'm pretty sure it's only there to appease the American tourists to Berlin. When you walk in, the entire menu looks the exact same as it does at home. That is to say, it's all in English! Amazing! I tried my very best German to order a venti latte, only to be told halfway through that, "it's okay, we all speak English here!" Oh yes, you are sorely mistaken if you don't think this guy is my new favorite person in all of Europe! The show here is not much different than the show I've grown to love in the US. A few different songs, but for the most part, the same. We don't have a feed here in the CM office, and I was too busy most of the week learning things that would have been REALLY handy back when I first took this job, but whatever.

I did find it quite amazing though for without the theatre part of this job, it quite bleak. I basically had quite limited interaction with the show itself until Saturday afternoon when I shadowed the SM just to get a take on things. Immediately, even with this silly show, I perked up and felt a million times better. I was able to stop feeling homesick and jet-lagged and isolated and was able to look from the wings and think, "I can't believe I'm standing backstage in a theatre in BERLIN working in theatre!" And as I've said before a million times, if that thought can't sustain you through the worst parts of this job, it's quite likely you're in the wrong career.

In any case, Friday I did venture out to Potsdamer Platz to see how it had changed since my last visit there 8 years ago. The most welcoming part of coming off the U-Bahn stop was a pair of familiar eyes:

Oh my Blue Man! I walked around a bit taking in a little of the Berlin Film Festival (sadly, no George Clooney) and bought a book to read. Then headed over to the theatre. Good times.
So now, it's time to pack up the show and end the European tour here. I officially take over as CM tomorrow when we arrive in the UK. Good times. Here's hoping my tv has more than CNN, or I might lose my mind. I will say this for the CNN International Edition. The other night, around 2:30am (stupid never-ending jet lag), the announcer person was like, “Up next on CNN, The Daily Show World Edition.” I said to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if it really WAS The Daily Show and not some lame CNN world wrap-up?!” And the next thing I heard on my tv was the blissful sound of Jon Stewart speaking directly to me. It really WAS The Daily Show – World Edition! Oh Jon Stewart, you make my life so much better!
More reports from Jolly Old England soon!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Last year in review pt. 2

Ah yes, where did I leave off? I believe it was the end of my 1st tour, so that would land us in June. Though it brought the end of the Rat Pack, it brought the beginning of my working with Sweeney Todd and The Fantasticks, which were both crazy, but fun. I felt fancy being involved with both. I mean, I kid about The Fantasticks a lot, but it really is a sweet show, and the people there were fun to work with. It was just amazing to be anywhere near involved with Sweeney Todd. Yes, booking travel and writing checks isn't the most glamorous part of the business, but I still got to see a final run through sitting two seats away from Stephen Sondheim. FANCY.

So, let's just assume I spent a majority of my hours at the office this past summer and leave it at that.

On to the FUN stuff! My sister moved to NYC in July, which meant new fancy apartment! I finally accepted that life off the island of Manhattan wouldn't be so bad and made the big leap over the East River into Astoria. No longer squished in my wonderful but teeny Upper East Side apartment, our new apartment in Astoria has 2 real bedrooms, CLOSETS, laundry in the basement, and a back porch that we'll eventually be able to use. Brilliant. Emily furnished all the important things like furniture, plates, towels, shower curtains, silverware, napkin rings, etc. and I bought new tv. That sounds about right, doesn't it? At first my mom was worries that with Em supplying all the homey things, I might not feel like I was at home. That is, until she came to visit for Christmas and saw the shiny toast, the fancy microwave, my beloved HDTV, and TiVo. Then was was quick to recant that thought, stating it was very evident that I indeed had made myself at home in the ways that are important to me! Pics of the new place are's been a process while Emily arranges all our furniture, but it sure makes my world a wonderful place when I come back from tour. Maybe I'll have Em take some pics of how it looks now, just so my Aunt Tori isn't reading this worried that it still looks barren. To this I say, no worries, Tori, I live with Emily now!

August saw the first of two fantastic family weddings. My cousin David was married to Meredith at a lovely ceremony in Green Bay. Complete with fantastic band and a firework display, and mini hamburgers when we left the reception! We all love Meredith! It was so nice saying goodbye knowing that we would all be together again in a short month! It should also be noted that very shortly after this wedding, my cousin Kristin welcomed baby #4 to the Cafferty clan. Here's a pic of baby Bridget. Seriously, she's even cuter than this!

In September, we reconvened in beautiful Door County, WI to celebrate the marriage of David's brother, Richard to Jamie. We are all so happy to welcome another fantastic girl to the mix! Richard and Jamie's wedding was complete with a Packers groom's cake and wonderful outside dance floor. Not to mention all the great shopping we were able to do! Fantastic!

The show's coming down now, and so I will post this now and leave my Rat Pack Tour adventures for another post!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

First, an Overview pt. 1

Well, since I've gone ahead and gone through all the trouble of setting up a new blog, I feel I should give all you new readers (that is, those of you who aren't my mom) a little look into my 2007 before I begin this crazy journey.
A month-by-month recap should do the trick:

Places traveled: Chicago, IL; Green Bay, WI; DePere, WI; Racine, WI
2007 started off with an unbeatable deal on the newly routed NY/Chicago leg on Jet Blue, so I attempted to visit every relative I was able to. This included-1 grandmother, 2 aunts, 3 uncles, 8 cousins, 6 cousins-in law, and 9 second cousins. Not too bad for a 4 day trip. This also included my first lighthouse-free visit to downtown Chicago. Those of you not familiar with my father should know that EVERY time we were promised a trip to downtown Chicago and the Navy Pier, we would ultimately end up in Evanston, IL at the Grosse Point Lighthouse. SO not the same as Navy Pier. It was a busy, but wonderful trip. Should you be so curious, more pictures are posted here.


Places traveled: Nashville, TN; Minneapolis, MN

My Rat Packers reconvened for the second half of their first US Tour in lovely Nashville, TN. No one turned away from entry into the US, bars and live music on every corner, SONIC? All was right in the world of the Pack. The entire week we were in Nashville, the Minneapolis area was suffering through negative blizzard conditions. I wasn't too sure how my Brits would handle it, but in a unusual twist of fate, the sun came out just in time for our arrival bringing the temperature up to a balmy 16. With an aptly named "Brit's Pub" practically connected to our hotel, I knew we'd found a kindred spirit in Minneapolis. This city gave me a chance to escape as it is the hometown of my cousin Mark, who the day after I arrived, proposed to his adorable girlfriend Katherine! I had a great time spending the week celebrating with them and my aunt and uncle also joined us for a long weekend. Definitely two of the better weeks I had spent on tour. Look, more pics.


Places traveled: New Haven, CT; Newark, NJ

Yeah, not my favorite places on tour. It was hard explaining to my Brits that Newark really just has the airport, and that's all. I have random pics from New Haven here. I neglected to take any pictures of Newark, save for the one on the billboard en route to the theatre that said "Stop the Killings." Ridic. I of course feel the need to post that picture as my sole memory of Newark...


Places traveled: Grand Rapids, MI; Hershey, PA

These two week sort of went by in a blur. We were met with a late season blizzard in Grand Rapids. Some of my company decided to take a road trip out to Grand Haven, MI to check out Lake Michigan, which was very impressive to them. It was fun to see the other side of the "Lake Michigan Circle Tour" that I always see signs for when driving around Wisconsin. As always, photos here.
From lovely Michigan, we headed off to Hershey/Harrisburg, PA. For those of you who have never ventured out to the land of chocolate, the rumors are true. It smells like someone is making brownies every second of the day. Not to mention that our presenters at the Hershey Theatre greeted us with a gigantic bowl of all things chocolate when we arrived. Let's all be thankful for the fact that the company management office was on the 5th floor of the theatre and the elevator was so old and creepy, I ended up walking up most of the time. We took a side trip to Amish country (conveniently located next door to Target!) I was unimpressed. Or rather, I was horrified at the thought of life sans TiVo. And of course, no trip in April would have been complete without my making a Dad-like run to the Harrisburg Post Office to mail my taxes at 11:45pm on April 16th. Even the extra day couldn't give me enough time to finish before then. Insane. Pics here...

Place traveled: Cleveland, OH

The last stop on the Rat Pack 07-07 tour was Cleveland, OH. Our only 2 week stop of the trip, and was that a wonderful thing in and of itself! The company was able to do all sorts of fancy things camping, Cedar Point, and Indians game. And lots of shopping. Theatres (and therefore our hotels) are most often located in downtown areas, and can be rather hit of miss on the fun factor. Thankfully, Cleveland had just about everything we needed, so it was lovely. We had great crowds as well, which was very nice. All in all, it was a great way to wrap the tour up until the fall. Of course I have more photos!
So, there you have it, the second half of my first adventure as a touring company manager. More to come in my next installment. Please leave comments as I am posting this from Berlin and am tres homesick already.