Set off today for another fun PuppetUp run. This time is especially fun because the show will be playing in San Francisco. Growing up in the Bay Area, it’s always great to get to play there. It’s also fun because the first time I played a full run of Puppet Up shows was in San Francisco in 2011, so it extra special.
Funny story from that first San Francisco run, I had only done a few Puppet Up shows here and there before that and hosted two of them. I was excited because Brian Henson and Bill Barretta were both doing the run as well. First rehearsal, in the theatre, and Brian and Bill are going to rehearse the opening of the show using their Bobby & Sampson characters. Brian says, “Leslie (Carrara-Rudolph), you right hand me and….Grant, you right hand Bill.” Wow. Pressure is on from the start.
So, Bill and I are getting Bobby on and as I slide my hand into the sleeve I jokingly say to Bill, “So what kind of voice do you want your hand to have?”
Without missing a beat, Bill looks off stage and yells, “Where’s the champagne glass that Bobby always holds?”
It was funny. Anyway, back to this trip. The Puppet Up crew arrived at Burbank Airport at 8am for our 9:55am flight. As we checked in we were informed that our plane was delayed due to weather. So we hung out in the airport and watched the clock. Finally, around noon, we were on the plane and off to San Francisco.
Once in San Francisco, we were in the van off to the theatre and to slip into our rehearsal which we were a little late for thanks to the flight delay. As I’ve said before, we have a great crew and they are total pros so we were soon up and running.
We rehearsed pretty much up to house open and then it was time to don our puppet blacks for the show and what a show it was.
We went into this one a little frazzled for several reasons but pulled out a really fun show. The audience tonight was amazing. They were better than amazing, they were incredibly amazing. So much fun. Great suggestions, I mean, Narcaleptic Juggling?! What better suggestions is there than that?
Got to do I’ve Grown Accustomed to your Face and the Alien Barbershop. The topic of the barbershop was Jesus. I decided to tread lightly and not insult anyone:
I don’t insult Jesus
As a general rule.
Even though I’m and atheist,
I went to catholic school.
Got a big laugh from the crowd. Some really funny scenes tonight. The Narcoleptic Juggling was a personal fave. And, of course, it was a treat being on stage with Brian Henson.
After the show, and some socializing in the lobby, we went to a big cast and crew dinner that was a bunch of fun. After we made our way to our accomodations for the weekend.
I have good feelings for this portion of the run. And tomorrow, as one of the added benefits of doing shows here, I get to go visit with my family. Can’t wait.
Here we go! Puppet Up!
Today we got to see the theatre for the first time and let me say, it is a really great space and, in my opinion, a really great venue for us. We’ve played in a lot of fantastic venues but sometimes big giant 1500-2000 seaters are just a little too big for us. The Panasonic Theatre holds about 600 and I think it’s just the right size.
And let me throw out a huge thanks to Mirvish Productions that own the theatre have done amazing work promoting the show. There’s uge banners that take up the entire windows of the front of the theatre. Inside the lobby (I’ll try to get pictures tomorrow) there are more posters and videos screens playing promos. It’s almost as if the Miskreant Puppets had taken over the entire theatre. Pretty cool.
It was a drizzly day here in Toronto, but we were inside for most of it, so that’s fine. Today was a big rehearsal day. As I may have mentioned, there is a new finale in the show and it is sort of tech heavy so we wanted to get it up and running as quickly as possible.
One cool aspect of the finale is that two new puppets were built for it and I’m super grateful, and honored, that I was asked to puppeteer one of them. I even jokingly gave them names and they’ve seemed to stick. I won’t say anymore because it’d spoil them, but it’s pretty cool. I will again say that I’m eager to see what folks think of this finale. It is a feat of tech and puppetry and as someone said the first time they saw it, “That’s the darnedest thing I’ve ever seen.” Let’s hope Toronto thinks the same.
Besides finessing the finale time was spent on the ‘set’ pieces of the show. These are the non-improvised segments. So we ran through the opening, closing, Windy, Java and I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face. I’m feeling confident with playing the Big Java now. There’s some tricky puppetry but I’m using it to push my skills further and I really think I’m getting it. It’s to the point now where I’m getting to the point I can sort of put my own ‘take’ on it. Though, I’ll say my take is trying to emulate Bill Baretta’s take on it. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Bill perform it in San Francisco. It was like seeing it for the first time.
After rehearsal, I walked around Toronto a little with Colleen, then retired to the room for a bit. Then Brian Clark, Ted, Dan and I struck out for food. Lots of interesting to eat here in Toronto, though it reminds me of just about any downtown metropolitan areas.
We wound up at a place called Urban Food that had a Asian flare to it. I was going to get a salad, but decided to go outside my comfort zone and get crispy chow mien with chicken. It was okay, but nothing I’d write home about. Dan said it wasn’t the best he’d ever had, so maybe not a good benchmark for me to judge it by. Next time I’ll get a salad.
Tomorrow we have an early call and out first show. I can’t wait. This show really is the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’m ready to do it again. Having never done a drug, I’m thinking this is what addiction is like. Nervously waiting for that next ‘fix.’ It comes tomorrow!