Madison: Tech Week   8 comments

Oh boy. So much to say!!

Moving 200+ people from Myrtle Beach, SC, to Madison, WI, it turns out, can have its glitches. The two BIG buses that were supposed to come and take us to the airport never showed. Some people were a little freaked, but most of us just waited around like the good little cattle we are, and sipped our coffee and played our DS games. (Guess who did which.) Soon enough, plan B went into action – rental car keys were given back out, hotel shuttles were recruited, and crew members from other rehearsing casts – along with their cars – were put to work. We ALL arrived at the airport with time to spare. I had mailed a box of unneeded junk home from Myrtle Beach, but I think my suitcase ate up a lot of my cinnamon rolls, because it had gained 5 pounds when they put it on the scale. I had to offload some of my stuff into Cooper’s bag and I felt a little panicked kneeling there in the airport with Rockettes and dancer boys all around me while I pawed through socks and bras and granola bars and my humongous bag of vitamins to figure out what to move and FAST. But it all worked out, and I stopped sweating and got more coffee, because that’s always good, and we eventually boarded the plane.

On the first flight, the other Ben mom and I were in the VERY BACK ROW, and the two Bens were right across the aisle from us, also in the very back. We had a three-seater row, and the guy next to us was the male singing swing. He covers three different vocal tracks in the show, and back in New York when he’s not working as a performer, he works part-time with Tara Rubin Casting. He was friendly and interesting, but once the flight started all we could hear was this awful, deafening ROAR because it turned out that we were separated from the plane’s engine by just the wall of the plane, which I believe was approximately as thick as a piece of tinfoil. That flight was probably the most miserable part of this whole thing so far.

The second flight totally made up for it. First of all, we were in Row 7, so it was quiet and comfortable. But more importantly, we had the most delightfully flamboyant dancer boy behind us with the best name ever: Calvin Cooper. On this blog, I am kind of staying away from using last names or really names at all, because these are real live people and none of them agreed to be characters in my blog, and I feel a little funny about putting them out there. But I can say with the utmost confidence that Calvin Cooper would NOT mind. He is just the most cheerful and hysterical and OUT THERE creature ever. He had to sit against the window and his two other seatmates were already there, so as he slid past them he kept saying, “Oh! Watch my fanny. Scuse me! Watch my fanny!” And he shakes said fanny pretty much all the time, so you pretty much are always watching it. Once we were on the plane, he just hummed and giggled the whole time, and then I heard him say something about how he’s making 22 all together, and I turned around and he was knitting a green hat. He’s making them for all the Rockettes. I ate breakfast with him today, along with another dancer boy and two dancer girls, and it was delightful and amusing. Oddly enough, Calvin Cooper went to VCU about 5 years ago and was in the dance program, but I think he left just before he would have graduated. Not sure why, but he certainly doesn’t seem bothered by it so I guess I won’t be either.

Since coming to Madison, it’s goodbye abandoned shopping mall, hello ginormous performance space. It is a HUGE arena – the Alliant Energy Center. It seats over 10,000 people. OK, that’s 16 Empire Theatres all smushed up together. Not that you’d want to do that. But just to give you a sense of how many seats that is. Crazy!

Also? I’m pretty sure that if you made a bet as to whether or not Madison Square Garden Entertainment is doing well and you were on the side of the bet that said they WERE doing well, that you would win that bet. I mean, they have EVERYTHING THEY NEED. And all the people they need to maintain everything. There are tutors and caterers and stitchers and wig-maintenance people and Tony the hair guy and Rooster and Betty Jo, the sound guy and the dresser JUST FOR THE KIDS, and an army of production and management people and a kid wrangler and a tour accountant and an athletic trainer and a security guy and a director and a music director and choreographers and builders and designers, and then most of those people also have an assistant version of themselves. It is truly amazing.

And everything is top notch quality but also designed to be packed up and transported. For instance, there are these groovy traveling dressing room sort of things that unfold into rows of little seats with lighted mirrors and storage for the performers. And when the show’s over SNAP they fold up and go right into the truck.

Also one person has the job of putting down these huge long lines of different colored tape at each new arena we go to. You follow the white tape to company management, the blue tape to stage management, the red tape to the dressing rooms, the green tape to the stage and the yellow tape to catering. Yes, I know all that because it’s all written down (somebody else’s job) but I still don’t dare stray from my pack (of moms) because even with the colored tape I don’t really understand where I am.

Let’s talk about catering. The food is SO SO SO GOOD!!!! I mean HEALTHY and good. Tonight, for instance, there was seared tuna with pickled ginger and some other spicy thing on the top, and braised Thai kale, and roasted sweet potatoes. At least, that’s what I put on my plate. There was also some kind of chicken dish and corn and artisan breads (at every meal) and pumpkin pie and an amazing salad bar with greens that are actually GREEN and not just iceberg lettuce. Also there is a whole cereal table (are you listening, Sage?) and there is a cooler stocked full of tall glass bottles of sparkling water and organic juices and organic milk and organic soy milk. AND there is a coffee bar with Torani hazelnut syrup and if you’re really motivated there is a little French press where you can make your own fresh, strong individual cup of coffee. And down the table from the coffee, there is a huge basket of vitamins and minerals, including the gummy kind that are fun to eat. Also it’s in the Rockettes’ contract that catering must always provide a peanut butter table so they can have a quick energy food available if they don’t like the other stuff. I know this good food is because they are feeding all these dancers who really need to make every bite count since they are always in motion, but this particular mom is super insanely grateful that the food is so NUTRITIOUS and good, both for my sake and especially for Cooper’s. These are a lot of long hours, and I’m just glad he’s not being fueled by chicken nuggets and hotdogs. Hm. That was over 300 words about the food. Moving on.

Yesterday we rented bikes in the morning and rode part of the way around Monona Lake. It was beautiful and sunny, and just a little brisk, which was perfect for bicycling. At the end of the ride we decided to extend the bike rental to a week instead of just a day, and we were going to go out again today (we wanna do the whole lake next time) but instead the tutors suggested we use some of our tutoring hours to go on a field trip, so we went to the Madison Zoo. It was a great trip, and I gotta say, I am loving Madison. Who knew? Wisconsin! I’m such an east coast girl, I seriously needed something like this tour to get me OUT OF RICHMOND and into points west. It’s a really beautiful city. The people are interesting and laid back and welcoming, and I’m impressed that there is recycling EVERYWHERE and also bike paths everywhere. You can practically go anywhere in the whole city on a bike. We considered cycling to the zoo, but Cooper wanted to ride with the other kids, so we all went together in the hotel shuttle. The woman in charge of the primate exhibit was very severe and intense and kind of kept scolding everybody for moving or looking threatening or jumping around and imitating the chimps. But the more she talked, the more it turned out that she was actually an amazing champion for these animals, understood SO MCUH about them and loved them. The behavior that people were trying to evoke so they could take photos actually meant the chimps were feeling really threatened. Also one of them kept trying to get the woman’s attention by signing something to her, but she said that chimp needed to be ignored because it was like a little kid trying to get the mom’s attention when Mom’s on the phone, and that if you reward that behavior it just gets worse. I’ve been to so many zoos in so many cities, but that was the most I have ever learned about chimps and I think that exhibit manager had the most love and understanding of her animals that I’ve ever witnessed. It was awesome. I wish I understood MY chimp that well. Ahem.

The Claras had to stay back because their moms are a little worried that they are getting behind in their studies, so one tutor stayed with them and the other came with us. Our tutors are a young, handsome guy named Jason, who specializes in math, science and flirting with Rockettes, and an older (not old, but older than Jason) woman named Bernadette, who has been around the block a few times and is the perfect combination of old-school no-nonsense teacher and aging hippie. I adore them both.

Also it’s nearly 2 am and I gotta go to sleep now. How will I ever keep up with Calvin Cooper otherwise?



Posted November 4, 2010 by itsjustastage in Uncategorized

8 responses to “Madison: Tech Week

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. HOLLY – thanks so much for this wonderful blog. I feel like I am there with you! We were in Madison a few times when Steve was there and it is a wonderful, quirky, interesting place. Can’t wait to see photos. I love you and give Coop a huge hug from me too.

  2. Holly,
    You don’t know me, but I’ve followed Dave’s blog for a while now and I have enjoyed reading about Cooper’s exploits. So I thought it was really cool that you and Cooper are taking us all on this journey with you. It is very interesting to hear about what goes into a traveling show – especially one with children. I can’t begin to imagine the logistics of something that huge – somewhere there was a tour manager freaking out about the lack of buses in MB!
    So thanks for bringing us along! Can’t wait to read the next installment from you or Cooper!
    Break a leg!

  3. I love all the details and especially appreciated the exhaustive run-down of the food. (um, don’t they call that “Craft Services” in showbiz?) Keep it comin’! Miss you!

  4. Great blog. Great details. And you’re both great writers. Sometimes I have to check to see if the post is Holly’s or Cooper’s. We had one of our best vacations traveling around Wisconsin to incredible outsider art sites. There’s a town right near Madison that has large carved wooden trolls up and down a main street. Name of town? I don’t recall. When is the first actual performance?

  5. I love the comments, everyone! Still enjoying Madison. Took the Bens to a rock-climbing gym this morning before rehearsal and completely wore them out, which was GREAT!
    First performance is Wendesday the 10th. Cooper does the 4 PM show, and the other cast does the 7 PM. There is an IDR Tuesday night if anyone wants to come in for it!
    Jess – it’s only called Craft Services in the tv/film industry, I believe, though I’ve often heard actors refer to it lovingly as simply “Crafty.” In theater, it’s typically called “You’ll have a 15-minute break, so bring something to eat.” 🙂

  6. -I LOVE Rooster!!!!!!!
    -is Vinny still the security guard?? I love him too!
    -the tour accountant the first two years was named Jim.. the first year his assistant’s name was Christina (that’s me!) obviously neither of us are there this year, haha.
    -you’re lucky they made a white line to company management.. when I was there, blue led to company management AND stage management.. and I think the business office as well (where I was).. and sometimes we were all on different sides of a giant arena! talk about confusing!!! I don’t blame you for staying with the other moms.. I used to avoid leaving the office by myself at all costs because for some reason I almost ALWAYS got lost!!! just wait til they move you from arena to arena.. you finally think you know where you’re going, and then you’ll realize you’re not in the arena you first thought and you’re actually in the completely wrong place!!! it gets very interesting! (lucky for you, you always get to show up at the building with a lot of people.. sometimes I would have to walk to the arena the first day in a new city by myself (also an adventure) and then once I got there I’d have to figure out how to get in, and THEN where to go.. needless to say, I got lost, A LOT. hahaha!

  7. Holly—this is an amazing account! Keep on taking notes, you may have a project here! Janet just gave me your blog address, and I am so glad to have it and be with you on this fascinating journey. You are the perfect person to be on this trip with Cooper & it sounds like you are having a blast.

    Cooper–break a leg tomorrow! We’ll be thinking about you! & most importantly, have fun!



  8. Hey guys! Catching up on your incredible journey… Love hearing all about Madison of course since I spent 4 wonderful years there….reading about your travels is helping put the idea of the remote possibility of going on tour with the little one into perspective….what an incredible life experience. I will stay tuned….break a leg Cooper!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: