Tag: stuffed and unstrung
Friday morning, April 19, began relatively early as we were headed to the airport to head back to Los Angeles. It’s always a little bittersweet on the mornings after a tour because after so many days of traveling together, we start splitting up one by one. Brian got himself a rental car to head back to Orlando and go to Animal Kingdom (yeah, he’s a jerk like that), Tyler was staying in Florida to visit family, Greg, our production head, was headed back to New York, Sean Johnson was headed to San Francisco to meet his family and our awesome tour manager Julianna was staying an extra day to make sure the puppets got to where they needed to go. So, early in the morning we had to began to say goodbye. Luckily Patrick, Cameron (our lighting guy), Peggy and Dan were all still traveling together so there was still some remnants of the tour.
I will tell you this, this tour was filled with nothing but laughs. Nothing. There were no arguments, no fights, just laughs. Even during the tough times (the cataract bus, the Austin hotel, tech issues) we were all still always laughing. The perfect example was the emergence of Ed Wynn impersonations during the seven and a half hour bus ride to Hamilton, Montana. There were so many memorable funny moments on the tour. Even on the way home yesterday we had a layover in the Atlanta airport and just sitting waiting for the next plane there were several, laugh out loud, wipe away a tear moments.
Take this for example, on the plane flight back to Los Angeles, Cameron and Patrick sat next to each other and I sat across the aisle from them. Patrick gets a sandwich on the plane and, for no reason, using the paper from the sandwich and the labels that held it together created a partition to keep Cameron off his side of the row. Hilarious. Well, it was to us. Perhaps we’re just punch drunk from all the travel.
Once we landed in Los Angeles, it was a short shuttle ride to the Henson Company Lot. Even THAT ride was filled with laugher. It’s just a great group of people.Soon after we were all off on our separate ways.
This was a really fun tour. I had a simply amazing time. I got to swap into HDPS and I’Ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face, two things I love and always want to do more of. I got to lead the Alien Barbershop all eleven shows. I had so many funny scenes with ALL the members of the cast. Allan and I did a great slide show. Ted and I did a great Narrated Story. Peggy and I had a memorable New Choice scene. Sean and I graduated to recreations together with Face. Tyler and I did uproarious Bunny Talent show bits together and I loved playing his body when he did HDPS. Brian and I did a hilarious spot scene where the suggestion was ‘Deliverance.’ As in the film. I love working with every single one of these performers and would jump at the chance to do it again.
Let’s not forget Patrick, our fearless leader and my improv mentor. He’s incredibly important to me and, still to this day, I learn new things from him. I will forever be grateful to his time and teachings. He’s the best.
Julianna, our tireless tour manager. Den mother. She’s incredible. She gets us to where we need to be and tackles any problem head on. So grateful for all her work. The success of this tour is as much a result of her work as it is our. Perhaps even more.
Greg, our Production Manager, and Cameron our lighting guy. These guys are the best. They’ve seen every show and if they come up to you and say something worked, you can take it to the bank that it did. We’d be nowhere without them. And to ‘Bobo,’ our newbie tech guy. He fit right in with our insanity and we were so glad to have him along.
I love the facts for this tour that Cameron put together…
We travelled through all four time zones.
We played in seven different states.
We played in places where it was snowing, raining and pushing 90 degrees.
We logged over 8,200 miles.
We did eleven shows.
All of this in 16 days.
It could have gone ten more.
Thanks for following a long on this journey. It was fun to bring it all to you. Here’s hoping there’s more in the future and I can continue. For now I’ll just be dropping back to my regular Wednesday Words posts for the time being. Thanks again!
The day started super early in being woken up as the bus pulled into our hotel at Fort Pierce. I was so out of it, I just walked off the bus, grabbed my suitcase, walked past the front desk where all our keys were laid out and walked to my room to go back to sleep.
I woke up,unfortunately around 9:30AM. I couldn’t quite get back to sleep, so I got up and worked out. Thirty minutes on the treadmill. I then went up and wrote yesterday’s blog post.
That, and just moving rather slow, took me right up until it was time to get over to the theatre in Fort Pierce. Tyler and I took the runners car over to the theatre which was the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce. COol because just days before “Weird Al” had been through. Not sure how he and his crew fit on that stage. It’s tiny. We barely fit.
Didn’t get to walk around Fort Pierce much. I wanted to, but those who’d already come over earlier, as there was not much to do around the hotel, had said the town was pretty much closed up. Not much was open. So I just hung out at the theatre until show time.
The show last night was an odd beast. The audience enjoyed it tremendously. We got a standing ovation, again. So, obviously, the crowd loved it. But right from the top there were audio problems. Problems that weren’t around at all in soundcheck. I just could not hear anyone during any scene. All I could hear was the house speakers echoing back to the stage. None of the rest of the cast was coming through the monitors clearly. This threw me big time. Improvisation is 90% listening to what your scene partners are saying. It just doesn’t work if you’re fighting to hear them. As a result I was off the whole first act.
At intermission I found out I was not alone, everybody was having the same problem. Our tech crew, which is awesome, went to work on it, but we’re using the house sound so sound is always a crapshoot. They tweaked it a bit, but the problems persisted into the second act.
As I said though, the show was good. I just felt off, not connected, disjointed and the harder I worked to reconnect, the worse it seemed I spun out. There were a few spot I thought I did a passable job. I had to improvise a song during the HDPS segment which I did okay at. Peggy and I did a fun scene using the suggestion ‘Graduating from the school of Tourettes’ which ended in a song. I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face went well. Sean and I weren’t spot on, but the scene got laughs from the audience. I’m growing more and more comfortable with it each time.
Alien Barbershop was okay. Not my best. Subject was Stripping and I, stupidly built my rhyme around ‘Strippers’ which was not the suggestion. I realized my error right as we were about to sing and a last minute line change threw everything out of whack.
I like stripping. (Original line was strippers)
Especially south of the border.
Because the strippers there,
Always accept quarters.
After the show we all loaded back up onto the bus for our final drive to St. Petersburg for our last stop on this tour. Here’s hoping we go out with a kick ass final show.
After yesterday’s adventures, the cast and crew seemed ready to refocus and kick a little butt in our show tonight. I woke up after some much needed sleep and then got in touch with Brian Clark, Sean and Tyler and we walked over to a Cracker Barrel that was near the hotel. Cracker Barrel is always an experience.
After a decent breakfast we all returned to the hotel as it was time to pack up our belongings and get headed to the venue. There were several reasons for heading over early. First, is that since Brian was rotating into the show, we wanted to do a little brush up rehearsals. Not that Brian needs it at all, it’s just that there are some technical things that needed to be worked out with Brian now here. Secondly, the show tonight was on the Central Florida College Campus at Ocala and part of the deal was us doing a puppetry improv workshop for any interested students.
The workshop was fun. There were only a few students and they were eager to learn. People love getting the chance to play with puppets and when they are Jim Henson Company puppets, they are super excited. The students worked hard and did a great job. I also feel it was a good experience for me to just go back to the basics when it comes to improv. It’s a good refresher course.
After the workshop we had to return Brian’s rental car which became an adventure in itself. The workshop ended at 4PM and we had rehearsal at 4:30PM. About that time I realized I’d left a show shirt in the closet of the hotel. Then Peggy needed half and half for her coffee. So Brian and I headed out to do all these things AND fill the rental car’s gas tank. We only got two of those things done before we had to turn around and come back for rehearsal.
Rehearsal was fraught with audio issues so we didn’t get nearly the number of things in that we wanted to rehearse. It was then time for dinner and Brian and I headed out again to get the rental car returned. We drove to the sprawling Ocala airport. I say sprawling because the Ocala airport is just one building. One building and a control tower. One building, a control tower and several guys who look to be about 60 or 70 standing around out front with their arms folded. An international airport it is not.
We got the car returned and met our ride back to the venue and it was dinner time. We were running way late but fortunately/unfortunately more audio snafus delayed curtain by several minutes and gave us more time to get ready and set for the show.
The show was great. One of the smaller venues we’ve played on this tour and the crowd was light, especially compared to places like Milwaukee or even Hamilton, but the crowd was great. They loved the show and had great suggestion. The litmus test was the very first scene, New Choice, that Peggy and I did together. Patrick asked the crowd for an activity that the two of us would be doing together and the suggestion was showering.
I immediately thought, “Two people showering together. Hippies trying to conserve water.” So at lights up this is how the scene went…
ME: You know Sharon, showering together is such a great way to conserve water.
PEGGY: You are so right…dad.
HUGE laugh from the audience. We were being wrong and they loved it. Something we were worried about as it seemed the audience was skewing a little older. But again, they were loving it.
So many funny scenes, adding Brian to the mix stirs everything up. He brings a completely unpredictable energy to the show. The Hot Dog scene about a bank robbery was great fun our Noir Scene was wacky. I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face went even better, excited to give it a go again tomorrow.
Alien Barbershop was fun. In fact, the whole Puppet Talent Show was fun. The first suggestion was Baton Twirling and Flatulence which became the act Toots & Twirls! Then Peggy and Sean did a great scene as two competing Wilford Brimley impersonators and then the ALien Barbershop suggestions were reproduction and sex. Here’s the rhyme…
I love reproduction and sex.
I think they’re really hot.
The only thing I hate,
Is sleeping in the wet spot.
Yeah, way over the top but the audience loved it.
After the show we welcomed the arrival of our big Sleeper tour bus. A real ‘rock n roll’ style bus with bunks and everything. We had one of these last time we were in Florida and, while most of the cast hated it, I actually liked it. It seemed that this crew that’s currently on the road really embraced it.
It’s a brand new bus and had us riding in style for the three and a half hour trip down to Fort Prince. We made our, now traditional, stop at Wal-Mart to stock the fridge on the bus and then hit the road. The cast and crew stayed in the lounge for an hour or so and laughed and chatted, then one by one people returned to their bunks and the vibe mellowed out. I slipped off to my bunk with about 30 mins left in the ride and enjoyed be rocked in my tiny little bunk by the open road.
I really love being on tour. I love seeing new places, meeting new people and making folks laugh. The ‘End of Tour Blues’ are setting in hard. Only two shows left. I wish it was twenty. Luckily I have the upcoming week in Austin with Leslie Carrara in May. That takes the sting out of things a bit.
We were up early on Tax day because it was a travel day to Florida. I was doubly excited because there had been rumblings that we may have the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World. It was confirmed late yesterday that we would, in fact, be doing just that. So Monday became Travel/Walt Disney World Day! I was beyond excited.
The flight to Orlando from O’Hare was great. Sat next to an great girl from Winnipeg, Canada on the flight, who works for the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Team. We had a great time chatting about hockey, puppetry, Canada, travel and life in general. It made the two hour trip fly by. No pun intended. Well, maybe a little.
Upon landing in Orlando we made our way to Walt Disney World and met at Epcot and thanks to the very gracious connections of Tyler Bunch we all got complimentary Park Hopper tickets. It was about 3PM. We began in Epcot and went on Spaceship Earth, Test Track and Mission Space. Then we broke for lunch at The Land in Epcot.
Then Sean Johnson, Dan Ring and I went over to Magic Kingdom. We rode Haunted Mansion and then went to my favorite, The Country Bear Jamboree. Right in front of the Jamboree were several characters including Big Al, who I’ve never seen in person. I was, because I’m insane, wearing my vintage Big Al shirt, so I went up to get a picture with him. I then wound up being dragged by Big Al into a big dance circle. There is video. When I get to regular internet, I may upload it.
After my dance debut, we watched Country Bears. I am not a fan of the edits. They seem disjointed and Dan, who’d never seen it, commented that it just felt like a bunch of random songs. I AM grateful they didn’t take it out.
I will make this one gripe, across from the Country Bear Jamboree is a merchandise kiosk called Big Al’s, named after Big Al from the Country Bear Jamboree. In that merchandise kiosk there is not one, not one, piece of Country Bear Merchandise. Not one. Yeah.
Anyway, we then went on Little Mermaid and ended at the Carousel of Progress. We then had to head back to Epcot to meet up with the rest of the group. We did and in another stroke of fun luck, Brian Clark had a rental car so Sean Johnson and I stayed with Brian for two more hours at Magic Kingdom while everyone else went on to Ocala, Florida.
We headed back over to Magic Kingdom and we did that park. This week was just a perfect time to be at the parks. There were no lines. In the two hours left in the day, Brian and Sean and I did Space Mountain, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan and then, with five minutes left during park operating hours, we ran across and went on Space Mountain one more time.
Then, as we were walking towards Main Street, the lights on Main Street went out and the Main Street Electrical Parade was just beginning. After the parade we had a great meal on Main Street and then headed off to Ocala.
Today was just a great day. Just a fantastic day. Just a great case of perfect timing and it made this amazing tour the best tour ever. Much thanks to Tyler Bunch for his contacts, Greg Bellon, our production manager and Brian Clark for making this day possible.
An unexpected trip to Disney World in the middle of a fantastic tour.
This day will be in the top 10 of my best days ever.