The Great Ivy + Bean Tour, Week Three: North Carolina and New York, and All the Bad Luck in the World
February 11, 2015
You’ve probably been on pins and needles just waiting for the resolution to the cliffhanger I left you with, right?
No? Okay. It’s cool.
So, our troubles are over, right? Au contraire, mon frere.
After loading our set and road boxes into the trailer (which we've lovingly named Rhonda), our technical director Dylan noticed that the wires were shorted in our trailer hitch, leaving Rhonda with no power. This means that the lights on the outside of Rhonda were not working, and if we couldn’t fix the problem, we would be driving illegally (it’s the equivalent of driving with a broken taillight). To top it off, it was about 4:15-4:30, and all the places we were calling who may be able to help us were closing in about half an hour.
We found a dealership that could look at the hitch and possibly fix/replace the components that weren’t working properly. The catch: they were located about thirty to forty-five minutes' drive in the opposite direction of the way we needed to go. Without this issue, we were already looking at a five to six-hour drive, but now our travel time was completely up in the air.
Cut to all of us sitting in a waiting area at a Ford dealership for about an hour, when they came back in and told us what had to be replaced. Once again, because let’s face it, this isn’t bad enough just yet, we were met with bad news: they didn’t have the part, but another automotive shop affiliated with them did—another ten or fifteen minutes still in the opposite direction we needed to go.
Cut to all of us sitting in another waiting area at another car shop, wondering how far we were actually going to get today, if we were going to get anywhere at all. We wanted to get as far as we could that night to make the next day more bearable.
Why were we a little concerned, you might ask? Because our next show is in Flushing, New York, about a ten-hour drive away from where we were currently stranded. And we weren’t just driving to New York, we were also loading into the theater that day.
Ok so back to all of us sitting in a waiting area again. About thirty minutes later, a sweet young man came in, said he had replaced the part, and then said he was only going to charge us for the part itself and not the service. Two hours after we noticed the problem, we had only spent sixty dollars and were back on the road.
Thank you, North Carolina! Okwegottagobye.
We were not going to make it to the halfway point that night like we hoped. We drove until 12:30AM, spent an impromptu night in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and left an hour before we had originally planned the next morning.
Some crazy how, we got to the theater in East Elmhurst, New York on time for our load-in that night. We ran into a little snag upon arrival because the theater did not have a ramp allowing us to easily bring our road boxes inside. I watched as the boys in my cast and Dylan lifted my wardrobe road box onto a loading dock (covered in ice, I might add) five feet above where they were standing. Small snag, but we didn’t care, WE SAT IN MULTIPLE CAR SHOPS AND THAT DIDN’T BRING US DOWN DAMNIT!
So after all the men on my tour physically exerted themselves for about half an hour just getting our stuff into the theater, I set up the dressing rooms while the rest of the crew got the set and props sorted out. Again, some crazy how, we finished our load-in on time and made it to the hotel at a reasonable hour.
Since we were close to the city, my boyfriend made the trek out to my hotel to visit for the night. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cast and crew, but I had a wonderful time doing absolutely nothing with Fisher. We watched a little hockey, had a little scotch— it was one of my favorite nights on tour so far.
Thank you for coming out to see me, love.
Feeling rejuvenated and a little sad saying goodbye to Fisher, we hopped in the van and headed to the theater ready to perform. Before we drove off, our technical director Dylan saw that one of the tires on our trailer Rhonda was very low on air. We assumed it was just in a funky pothole overnight or something, so we made a quick pit stop at a gas station and filled it up with air. After our show, which went pretty well despite some microphone issues, we loaded Rhonda once again and started making our way to Rochester. We didn't make it very far until the tire that was flat shred on the highway.
So instead of starting the six-hour drive to Rochester, we (very very slowly) traveled through the city to yet ANOTHER car shop, where they replaced Rhonda's tire and sold us a spare tire— because now, we’re all anticipating the absolute worst because our CAR TROUBLE HAS BEEN SO FRICKIN TERRIBLE.
Is this what we get for liking each other so much? Would we have better luck if we hated one another? I asked the cast, and Sydney said, “I don’t know, I’d much rather we like each other and have bad luck than hate each other and have good luck.” She's right. I'm pretty sure that would be so much worse that our current situation.
So, we’re back on the road, right? Oh, reader, how wrong you are.
That same tire that was just replaced blew less than ten minutes after we left the shop. Turns out it wasn’t the tire at all. It was the axle, no longer connected to Rhonda, which locked up and dragged our new tire on the pavement.
I don’t know a damned thing about cars, or tires, or axles, but from the look on Dylan’s face and his use of the word “catastrophic”, I knew we were dead in the water. We broke Rhonda.
So instead of going to Rochester before the next snowstorm of the century arrived, we watched Rhonda get towed to where we bought her in New Jersey. Despite the relief of knowing I’d be spending the night in my own bed, I was worn of my optimism. Brand new van. Brand new trailer. Seriously, how could this happen?
I broke down a bit. Besides going a little crazy from being stuck inside a van, I was sick of watching good, really really really hard-working people struggle. It just wasn't fair.
We were on call the next day. Once we got the text, we had to be ready to meet within the hour to deal with whatever was happening. We rented a truck (which Dylan quickly named Stupid), and at 1:30 Thursday afternoon, we drove to Wharton, NJ (where Rhonda was towed), unloaded Rhonda, re-loaded everything into Stupid, and started our trek to Rochester.
The closer we got to our destination, the more snow and wind pelted the van. The temperature in Rochester when we arrived was 0, and with the wind chill it felt like -8. I’m pretty sure all of us were ready to just say “Whatever y’all, let’s just cancel the rest of this week and go to Georgia or Florida (which is where we’re going next week) and spend the extra days by the pool or on the beach with drinks that have tiny umbrellas in them and go to Harry Potter World or Epcot Center or ANYWHERE BUT HERE.
Hand prints made in ice. Yep. Ice inside the van. Lots of it.
We arrived at the theater a little after ten that night in Rochester and unloaded the truck in record time: everything was out of the truck and in the theater within fifteen minutes. It's the fastest we've ever moved. We were blessed with a killer technical crew that was extremely helpful and kind-- they waited an extra five hours for us to arrive and helped us get as much done as possible the night before our first of two two-show days.
Fun Panorama of the Nazareth College Theater in Rochester, NY (and our stage manager times three)
Up early and at the theater at 8, we finished teching with lights while I was steaming costumes I had just enough time to stick in the washer and dryer the night before. We were ready for our two-show day.
Once again, things started to get interesting.
I had some bad luck on our first day of shows. Now, when I was in college, I was one of those idiot theatre kids that shut down every time something went wrong. I'd get through it, but as soon as I left the stage, I'd be a total asshole, completely inconsolable and unaware of the learning opportunity I was squandering. Thank sweet baby Jesus that now, six years later, when something goes wrong I just laugh, say "did you see me totally screw that up?!? it was hilarious!!" and move on.
In the first show, besides some line and blocking flubs, I failed to catch my magic wand for the first time in the climax of the story. (During this scene, one character takes my magic wand--because I'm a witch, duh-- and throws it offstage. Later, an actor sneaks offstage, grabs the magic wand, and tosses it to me while I'm onstage so it looks like I'm magic). Jake tossed the wand in my direction and I fumbled it in the air, failed to catch it, and watched it start rolling towards the edge of the stage, all while singing. I'm surprised it hadn't happened before because I'm not great at catching things in general--ask my friends, I usually just make a sound resembling a small dog's bark, close my eyes and hold out my arms-- and yet I was still a little disappointed in myself for ruining my wand-catching streak. No matter, I have dozens of chances to make up for it.
It was during the second show that things got REAL interesting.
So I personally spend maybe five or six minutes offstage in the whole show, and during that time I'm running around resetting props, chugging water and fixing my wig. This means that the theater staff backstage couldn't grab me and tell me that my microphone's batteries were dead before I was back out onstage again, pretending to play with two other actors upstage of Melissa singing about being a nicer person.
Suddenly, McLean arrived and sat with us too. Sydney, Dan and I were like "oh hey what are you doing here?" while smiling and acting like everything was totally normal. McLean looked at me and slid two batteries into my hand. My heart started pounding. Oh shit, I thought to myself, I'm dead.
The next time I leave is for a quick change where I sprint to the opposite side of the stage, slap on black lipstick, my witch robe and witch hat. When the hell was I going to be able to change my mic batteries, which were nestled in a mic-pack under my polka dot dress, green striped shirt, and sports bra?!?!
God love Sydney Matthews, y'all. She whispers, "let's get in a line and pretend to braid hair or something!" Dan sat in the front, Sydney behind Dan, me behind Sydney and McLean behind me, frantically but carefully reaching under my dress and shirt and bra, locating my mic pack, taking the batteries out and putting the new ones in. By the time Melissa was finishing up her song, my microphone had a brand spankin new pair of batteries in it. I was stunned. We pulled it off!
Until we realized that, despite the new batteries, my microphone was turned off.
During the scene change before the big climactic scene, as all of us are sliding set pieces into place in semi-darkness, McLean whispers at me "Leave stage early and turn on your mic!"
In my shock, I did not leave early. I quickly spat out my last line before the epic run-around-quick-change and ran. Even as I was running to the other side of the stage, grabbing at a mic pack on my back and under multiple layers with an impossibly small power switch and praying that I did slide the little knob to the on-position, I did not think it was going to work. I wasn't going to get to my mic, and even if I did, there's no way I was going to add my costume pieces and make my next entrance in time.
And then it happened-- it worked. I successfully turned my mic on, shoved it under my costume, put on my robe and witch hat, smeared black lipstick on my lips while grabbing my wand, and still had about two seconds to spare. One of the backstage crew members had just enough time to say "it's on!" before I was back onstage.
We still had a whole other day of shows in Rochester, which went very well, but that experience, when my cast helped me dodge a bullet in plain view of a full house of kids, that is something I will never forget . It was invigorating, rewarding, and it continues to remind me just how damned lucky I am to be with these people.
Talk about a silver lining.
Tune in for next week's blog, where we reconnect with our long lost trailer, Rhonda.
The Great Ivy + Bean Tour, Week Eleven: Arizona, Colorado, New Beginnings and a Fond Farewell.