I started this blog two years ago to have a place to post clips of my writing and broadcasts. About a year ago, I redesigned it in anticipation of a rapid influx of new work to post online, since, at the time, I was on the cusp of graduation.
Well, this post is the first new one in quite some time. Happily, it’s a follow-up from my last post, entitled “Happy ‘real job’ to you!”. With only a week and a half left of my first year on tour, here are some highlights from the cities I visited this season.
– Mexico: We spent 5 weeks in Mexico City and 3 weeks in Monterrey, Mexico. I learned the show in Spanish and practiced my character’s movements with the faster Spanish dialogue (which I learned to change once I started performing in English). And I tell ya, at first, it was not glamorous. Blisters upon blisters buried my feet during the often 12-hour rehearsal days learning the show. I often caught what we called “Mexican stomach” due to dehydration and substandard food safety regulations and I lost 15 pounds. I had to choose between extreme thirst or illness from sometimes tainted water. I also developed injuries due to stress on my joints and unprepared muscles, particularly on my right knee. And on top of that, the elevation of Mexico City made breathing difficult, while the extreme heat of Monterrey in July made me feel faint on more than one occasion.
Not speaking Spanish surprisingly didn’t hold me back when it came to buying groceries or traveling via taxis, as most people seemed to understand what I was trying to say between my Spanish dictionary, a smile, and “por favor.” However, asking new castmates to walk me from point A to point B for safety was a good excuse to get to know them as well, and with my new friends I saw cool sites such as the Teotihuacan pyramids in Mexico City and the Garcia Caves in Monterrey.
– Oklahoma State Fairs: After a brief break back home, we played 2 Oklahoma State Fairs: one in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa. The locals were friendly and some of the fair activities were fun, but let’s just say this: I’ve done it once. No need to do it again. Between the bus drop-off and the entrance we walked through dozens of goats bleating at us in cages. The smell of manure permeated every room at both buildings. Desperate cries from sheep being sheared drowned the make-up rooms. And we had a habit of shaking out our skates to avoid crickets. (I made the mistake of not doing that once and learned my lesson faster than one of those little guys could hop into our make-up spots.)
As for the fair food? Imagine everything possible deep-fried and/or on a stick. Some, like the cookie dough on a stick, was delicious, but foods like the “deep fried bacon cheddar mashed potatoes on a stick” — yes, that was sold — made me gag just from looking at it. And I’m sorry, but I’m not trying the “gator on a stick” I saw in Tulsa. I’m good friends with Louis the alligator from The Princess and the Frog on our show. I just can’t do it.
On the upside, my father happened to be in Oklahoma on a business trip at the time. He got to see me in the opening night of the U.S. tour, for which I’m grateful.
– Portland: My favorite city by far has been Portland, Oregon from early November. I didn’t know too much about the city before coming here, but boy was I impressed. In indulged in the indie/hipster culture in the city through the music in coffee shops, antique stores, and even the stylization of downtown. A highlight was the screamo/anarchist shop Voodoo Doughnuts, which had bizarre interpretations for what the standards of a donut should have (although, I have to say, they weren’t the tastiest). I had the chance to see the famous OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. I spent every afternoon jogging or walking around the green spaces inserted into the downtown area, admiring the scenery as well as realizing it was the first time I had seen beards on men in about a half a year. I vow to go back someday.
The other great part of my Portland experience was a visit from my older sister, Jenny. She happened to be in Seattle when I was there and she got to see my in my show, as well. Although we did play near Seattle, the timing happened to work out the best when she was in Portland.
– Vancouver: After Portland, Vancouver was my favorite city on tour for two reasons: it was our only Canadian stop and it’s the only city where I successfully contacted a team to play quidditch. As you might recall, before I came to tour I was a major quidditch enthusiast and I’ve been in withdrawal. Though I contacted other cities’ teams on tour, the University of British Columbia was the only one that scheduled a special practice for me to come scrimmage for a while. My quidditch arm isn’t what it used to be, but I was grinning ear to ear and happy to find a chance to relate to people who reminded me of my friends from Ottawa. Covered in mud and thoroughly sore, I ended the practice with some new friends and I anticipate seeing them within the quidditch circles in the future.
As for the city itself, it’s a treat. Golden Age Collectibles is a comic book shop I found with some nifty and original merchandise. The Chinatown was a thriving, complex region that I felt I couldn’t explore enough. And again, I fit right in with the youthful, media-driven culture.
– California: A good chunk of our tour this year was spent in southern U.S. regions, and I only visited a handful of cities where I needed a coat. Most of the California cities, I admit, were less than interesting; Stockton, Fresno, and Ontario had no special attractions. However, I appreciated the nice weather around the holidays, and watching fireworks on Long Beach was a memorable way to ring in the New Year. My favorite stop was probably Los Angeles, but it wasn’t as amazing as I assumed it would be. I guess for some reason, I thought it’d be a sunnier version of New York City. Instead, the interesting sites like Hollywood were much smaller and more spread apart by the dingier, less exciting parts. I did, however, get to fulfill two fantasies. Celebrating the Batman universe is one of my top hobbies, so luckily for me, a convention featuring EVERY BATMOBILE for the movies and the early TV show was across the street from the Staples Center, where we played our show. This convention also had props, costumes, and miniature set models from the Nolan trilogy on display. Secondly, I traveled to Batfan Mecca and hiked an hour to the artificial cave where Adam West and Burt Ward filmed the exit from their Batcave. I may have missed International Free Comic Book Day this year due to Disney shows at the same time, but no one can doubt my dedication to Batman after L.A.
Other California cities included Anaheim (my biggest disappointment this tour, since I was dying to see Disneyland and my plans fell through last minute), San Diego (gorgeous bay area), Sacramento, Oakland, and San Jose (a surprisingly scenic downtown area).
– And the rest: As I said, this post only features highlights from this tour. Cities that just missed this list were Miami, Las Vegas, and my ski trip in Denver. I was fortunate enough to see my mother in Auburn Hills, Michigan for my birthday and both my mother and my other sister, Melissa (who grew up skating with me), in Lexington, Kentucky. I’m so lucky to have my whole family see this show in my first year on tour and I can’t wait until I can perform for a tour that will play in my hometown.
So what’s next? I’m excited to announce that I have signed a contract for the 2013-2014 Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream tour of Europe. Be on the lookout for more blog posts, more pictures, and more anecdotes next year!