The final leg of the tour has begun. Are you ready?
It was another super frickin early Saturday morning for the cast of Ivy + Bean. I was up at five to be at the airport by 6:45 (insert another image of me with my baggy eyes and grumpy cat face), so we could make our 8:45 flight. We were all there bright and early except for Jake, who accidentally read our itinerary wrong, thought our arrival in Denver was the time of our flight, and frantically cabbed it over to the airport with about fifteen minutes to spare before boarding.
Don’t tell Alfredo. He doesn’t know that. ANYWAY
Alfredo and Dylan started their drive (with our van and our trailer) to Colorado a few days before our flight so we could meet up with them at our hotel in Denver on the same day. Our van and trailer behaved very well, and they arrived about an hour after we did with no incident. We grabbed some lunch, and because of the early morning and the time change, the majority of us took long naps after we ate. I set an alarm for an hour later and then proceeded to snooze it for the next three; I was lucky it didn’t ruin my chances for sleep that night, because I slept like a baby.
The next day, we drove to BEAUTIFUL Beaver Creek, Colorado (only two and a half hours away from Denver) and loaded in to the venue. Ok so before we got on the road, Dylan educated us a bit on how to prepare for the altitudes (drinking a lot of water, chewing gum, taking our time getting acclimated), but he also let us know that we would be driving through some of the best scenery Colorado has to offer.
He was not messing around.
This is a place that exists in America. I know, right??
I felt myself getting a little emotional traveling through gorgeous snow-capped mountains, valleys etched out by rivers flowing through them, watching hawks soar above the tip tops. After every turn, after every tunnel, the world became more and more majestic, almost unreal. I don’t even care how pathetic or stupid that may sound, I have never seen anything so vast and incredible in my entire life.
I urge you, if you can, reader, to go to Beaver Creek. It’s expensive, so don’t stay there, but at least drive through. The planet and your tiny little place on it is on full display.
It’s funny, I can’t help but think that we all must feel like how the tourists in New York feel when they first see the Empire State Building or Central Park or the Statue of Liberty, mouths gaping open, pointing and taking photos of as much of it as they can. Sorry y’all, but the architecture of the Earth is and will always be the best of the best.
The Vilar Center in Beaver Creek, Colorado
Our venue in Beaver Creek, the Vilar Center, was nestled in this beautiful ski town ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN. I am not exaggerating. We were 9,000 feet above sea level. I didn’t really notice since I was doing my thing, drinking all the water and chewing all the gum like Dylan advised. It didn’t hit me until we started unloading the trailer at the venue, when I had to catch my breath from walking the wardrobe road box to the elevator.
I walked maybe fifty feet. Not up or down, just walked straight ahead fifty feet.
By the time everything was inside the venue, we were all feeling a little different. Emily and I got a slight headache and McLean felt dizzy and lightheaded. Unfortunately, our sweet Sydney was under the weather with a nasty bug that wouldn’t leave her alone, so on top of the elevation changes and such, she was already feeling pretty crummy.
The crew at the venue was kind enough to turn on humidifiers in the green room and show us where oxygen tanks were located on the sides of the stage in case we would need them. Uhhhhhh, what? I will need more oxygen than what’s already in this building?
You could say I was worried. It would be an understatement.
All seven of us are already out of breath and running around like crazy people at sea level. How the hell were we going to survive two shows on top of a mountain?!? I was especially concerned for Melissa, my Bean. She barely leaves stage, what if she can’t breathe or needs oxygen or faints or STOP FREAKING OUT LAUREN. We’re going to be fine, right?
The moment of truth (Monday) arrived. We were all pretty dry before the shows even started, so I spent as much time as I could keeping hydrated, moving my body and using my voice to prepare for whatever the heck was gonna happen. My only goal was to remember to breathe; I wasn’t going to get down on myself if my singing didn’t sound as good as it had in the past, or if I didn’t catch my wand (which I didn’t in the last performance of the day- it doesn’t matter I DON’T CARE). I kept saying “stop letting this elevation psych you out, just breathe and connect with your friends.”
Well, it wasn’t easy, but both shows went much better than I thought they would. The dry air got to me by the second show, chapping my lips and taking the moisture from my throat sooner than I could put it back. I was hoarse by the time we loaded out, but I wasn’t worried. We had a lot of traveling to do over the next two days with no shows, so I had plenty of time to recuperate. And I can say I performed on top of a mountain with my friends, so I would say the last leg of this tour started off on the right foot. Or mountain.
Heh.. see what I did there?
As I said, we had a lot of traveling to do. After our shows in Beaver Creek, we drove to Salt Lake City, Utah, about six and a half hours away. The road was flanked by more incredible scenery, so we spent most of the drive staring out the windows with big stupid smiles on our faces. The next day we drove to Reno, Nevada, about seven hours away. It was long, but we spent our Reno evening exploring the 24-hour casino on the first floor and watching a few of us lose money.
Wednesday consisted of a three-hour drive to Chico, California and a load-in at our next venue, the Laxson Auditorium on Cal State University's campus. We're super pros at load-ins now, so we were done with all of our responsibilities about forty-five minutes after we arrived.
The Laxson Auditorium in Chico, California
I didn't have to do laundry or recurl my wig, so for the first time in the whole tour, I left the theater and explored the outdoors with my castmates. That's right, Cinderella left the dressing room and had a social life!! I got a coffee, McLean got some ice cream, and we all headed to a park about three minutes away from the venue to swing on some swings and play frisbee. It was beautiful out, sunny and not too warm. So far, California was treating us VERY well.
I'd like to say our two shows the next day occurred without incident, but I'd be lying. For some strange reason, Emily's microphone wasn't working properly, and was popping and going in and out for the majority of the first show. During the second show, the poor girl switched mic elements multiple times, including a full mic-switch with Sydney, all right before she was supposed to go onstage for her solo number. I tried to help her as best as I could while at the same time making sure I was out of her way, but as soon as she switched mics with Syd, she was good to go, and the rest of the show ran smoothly.
Despite Emily's mic troubles, both shows were filled with great audiences. We got to meet a few kids as we were
packing up and loading the van, including a little boy with special needs named Christopher who wanted to come up and meet McLean and Jake, because Bean's parents were his favorite characters in the show. This incredible kid walked right up to the van, hopped up on the footrail and hugged McLean through the front passenger window. We opened the sliding door so he could properly hug Jake and talk to all of us before we had to get on the road. I was pretty emotional saying goodbye to him and his mother. It felt so good knowing that he had such a great day.
We had about an eight to nine-hour drive to Palmdale, California ahead of us. It felt like a lot longer than that, mainly because we were driving in the middle of nowhere. It was very pretty, but there were no towns, no rest stops for miles at a time, just plains and plains and plains. I was ready to be out of that van and in bed by the time we arrived at our hotel. The next day was a full day off, so sleeping in was happening. And it was so good.
And it was also Papa Pennline's birthday.
My dad took a red-eye flight the same night I arrived in Palmdale, so I knew the poor guy was exhausted by the time he got home in Nashville. He worked from home that day, so I coordinated a time to give him a call and wish him a happy birthday in between his conference calls for work. After I ate breakfast, I called my dad via FaceTime, and planned for a few of us in the cast to sing happy birthday to him as a surprise. Emily, Melissa and McLean all hid behind the chair I was sitting in until we started singing "Happy Birthday", when they slowly popped into the frame of my phone's camera.
I watched my dad's eyes light up and start to tear as this big smile spread across his face. He was so surprised, so excited and so happy that he got to see all of us. It was overwhelming for me, too; I miss my family so much all of the time, and seeing my dad so happy, despite how exhausted he was, made my day. All of his positive energy carried me through the rest of my day off, and I spent the evening in Santa Monica celebrating his birthday with most of the crew doing what I know he would approve of: drinking a giant margarita the size of my head.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.
Don't forget to tune in for next week's blog, which will be devoted to the chaos, wonder and no-doubt ridiculous shenanigans of the Ivy + Bean crew in Las Vegas.