Sassy Actress, with a Side of Quirk

Life Musings by a Real Drama Queen

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You

Hello!

It’s been a while since I have written and that’s partly due to the fact that I have been getting to know the city! Also my tablet, which I use to write when I have some down time in between auditions, appointments, etc, died so I was without it! What am I supposed to write on!? My decrepit laptop (which I am using now)????

Anywho. I also was busy (wink wink) because my boyfriend visited for a few days last week! It was a glorious 4ish days, the longest time we have seen each other since the winter holidays. Long distance blows, but when I do see the boy? It makes it all worth it! I skipped some auditions during his visit, but thankfully there weren’t too many that caught my eye anyway. So, I took a little time off from running to relax with my dearest. No regrets.

And now, I am back at it again! A lot has happened since I last wrote, some good, some meh. Let’s start with the meh, because it’s meh. I had a bunch of auditions the last 2 weeks since I have written and before my boyfriend visited. I actually was lucky because I had a ton of appointments which streamlines my schedule soooooo much. I had some appointments for a few new plays for some festivals, I had a cruise line appointment, and some musical auditions, including one for a summer stock season. Well, here’s the short of it- No callbacks. Not a ONE! I mean, I am by no means discouraged but that sucks so hard. Like, blurgh. I felt good about the play auditions and even received a personal rejection email, so I am sure that I made a good impression even though they went another direction for the casting. The cruise line audition was good even though the material was a bit odd- I was called in for the “Astral Goddess” for a Interactive Magic show, but overall I felt good about it. Then I had an audition for a summer stock season and it sucked. So no callback wasn’t a surprise. And lastly, I had an audition for a musical being done in the city (unpaid) and I felt REALLY GOOD about my audition. And yet, you guessed it, NOT EVEN A CALLBACK.

So that’s meh, but that is not to say I am upset or frustrated. If anything, all this meh has given me some perspective. I think that I need to stop worrying so much about what the theaters want and just do what I want, what makes me happy. I also realized that I need some funnier songs. Or I need to make some bolder choices with my current songs, because I am gonna be honest…I am pretty damn funny. Also, writing about my mehness here helps me come to peace with the rejection and move on. This morning I had 2 auditions. I auditioned really well at both. I didn’t get called back at those either, but you know what? That’s okay, because I sang songs I wanted to sing and I had some fun while doing it. After those auditions, I rode the A train home pretty happy. Because let’s be real. Waiting around for auditions sucks. Listening to basic bitches talk about kicking their faces and belting up to the Netherlands sucks. Waking up at the crack of ass to sign a list that may or may not be accepted SUCKS. But ya know what? As soon as I go into that studio and sing something I love or do a monologue that I feel really passionate about, it makes it all okay. I felt good after today, even though I didn’t book a damn thing, and that’s how I know that this business is worth it for me. Those 30 seconds singing make it worth all the shit, to put it nicely 🙂

One of my infamous audition selfies ;)

One of my infamous audition selfies 😉

And guess what!? There’s even more GOOD! So, when it comes to side jobs, I have lined up some great gigs. I haven’t started working yet (meh) BUT I will be VERY SOON. I am part of program through SitterCity called Date Night Now, and I have some babysitting lined up through that (tell your friends with families in NYC to book me https://ondemand.sittercity.com/s/dionna-eshleman and then use my referral code dionna-eshleman for $30 off their first sitting!). I also have some other babysitting agencies I am interviewing with in the next month, so that is exciting. Babysitting is by far my favorite way to make money. I like it, I am good at it, and it is almost always FUN. Aside from the sitting, I had orientation for a fantastic catering company, so hopefully soon I will be rolling in the dough! Or at least paying my bills with income rather than savings. All in all, good stuff a brewing.

In other news, I saw some great shows since I have been here! I talked about seeing the Heidi Chronicles in my last post, which was great, but since I have seen 2 musicals! I got some free tix to see Disenchanted which is Off-Broadway at the Westside Theater. I took my sis even though she isn’t always into musicals…I lured her into it by promising pie at The Little Pie Company.

First, let’s talk about the pie, which we got BEFORE the show. Well, I could write a whole blog about the pie, and I don’t even generally LIKE pie. I got the Mississippi Mud Pie which was actually featured on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate”. Side note, if you know me, you know I am a Food Network fanatic…I could watch it all day…and now that I have cable, sometimes I do…Focus Dionna! Mud pie, yes. Well it was DREAMY. And decadent. And worth the 100000 calories it must have been. This pie is for the chocolate lover. Seriously, the crust is a fudging (hehe, get it?) brownie! The filling is a thick custardy mix of 3 different chocolates. It is incredible. They sell their pies by the slice, but at the end of the day they don’t always have slices left, so I had to buy a miniature 5″ miniature pie which was $8. Sounds pricey, but it was well worth it. I didn’t even eat half and I took the rest home and ate it in shifts! My sister got a mixed berry mini pie, which is very out of character for her (she’s an apple girl through and through), but she said it was amaze-balls! Well, she didn’t say amaze-balls, but that’s how I interpreted her response. All in all, a GREAT find right on the west edge of the theater district. I have already been back since then with the boyfriend, who is also a pie person. He had a slice of their signature sour cream apple pie. He inhaled it, but I got a small bite, and for someone who doesn’t like pie, I can honestly say it was the best apple pie I have ever tasted. Sorry mom, the Little Pie Company wins. One more note on the Little Pie Company. I love how unassuming and humble the shop is. It is all about the pie, no frills, unlike SO MANY overpriced bakeries in NYC. So yeah, all the feels for The Little Pie Company. Go check it out on West 43rd St, between 9th and 10th avenue.

So the show! Disenchanted was HILARIOUS! I really thought it was great and so did my sis! There was only one song that I didn’t like and it was super funny. outwardly so. I also liked that it wasn’t necessarily a musical with a book, but rather a variety show where each princess comes out and tells their stories the way they think they should be told. It was kitschy and witty and had the whole audience laughing from start to finish. I also appreciated that it was a 90 minute show- perfect! I highly recommend it for theater people as well as non-theater people- it is a super approachable show. Also, I need to play Cinderella in that show some time. Go see it and you will understand why!

I just realized that I talked for a huge paragraph about pie and only a bit about the musical…well, that’s where I am at. I love food, what can I say! I love theater too but Mississippi Mud Pie? It is easy to be upstaged by pie like that.

I mentioned that I saw another show last week. I went and met up with some friends and saw Something Rotten on BROADWAY! They had this stellar deal for their first few previews- their tagline was “Party like it’s 1595!” and the tix were $15.95! It was great! I had a lovely seat in the mezzanine and lemme say, that show delivered! For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Something Rotten is a new, original musical set in 1595, the year of The Bard, aka Shakespeare! Two brothers are struggling to write a hit play, partly because everyone is going cray cray for Billy Shakes. One of the brothers uses some unconventional means to figure out how to become successful and it becomes a huge mess. So, without giving away any of the juicy deats, this show mashes up a really witty musical with Shakespeare. It is a rip roaring comedy, with more jokes and puns than you can keep track of! It is one of the only shows I have seen that I am DYING to go back and see again. It was just so original, so different from everything else I have seen on Broadway. Nobody belted their face off or did a quintuple pirouette into a cooter slam and you know what- it was STILL AMAZING! I actually think it was better because it didn’t have those elements. This show really relied on some key elements of storytelling instead of showy, sometimes superficial pizzazz that musicals sometimes use to disguise a poor score or book. I am not saying those

Me at Something Rotten. I was crazy excited! Plus I had a big glass of vino so...

Me at Something Rotten. I was crazy excited! Plus I had a big glass of vino so…

elements of spectacle are bad, I just feel that sometimes they are used inappropriately in musical theater to cover up holes in the story (or the score, or the lyrics). I love those elements when they are used to enhance or move the story forward, but what I am saying is that this story didn’t really need it because it was so well crafted. They did have one HUGE and hilarious number but what made it spectacular for me was not necessarily the great dancing, but rather the smart lyrics and funny references throughout the song. The dancing enhanced the fantastic craftsmanship of an already hilarious song. So yeah. I loved the show. Sorry I ranted. I just got passionate. That’s a good thing, right? Also if I haven’t convinced you to see it by now, let me leave you with this. Christian Borle plays Shakespeare. And he is a rockstar. Literally.

If I had to critique anything, I thought the ending wrapped too fast and the ending number could’ve been more zany and a bit smarter. But that’s being picky. The show was kinda long, so I understand needing to wrap it quickly, but I felt that how they did it was a little poor. But not poor enough for me not to give it a 5 star review. It mixes my two passions, musical theater and Shakespeare. So good…so GO SEE IT!

I have been writing for a while..so I am gonna wrap this up! I am actually going to write a post about what I have been cooking. Not necessarily recipes, but easy ideas on what to make that is healthy while also being budget-friendly. So if blended veggie soups and quick taco meat makes your heart pitter patter- read my next post!

Also, thank you for reading. This blog is primarily for me, but I do like the idea that I am sharing my thoughts and opinions with people I love and care about. So thank you for reading! Stay in school kids!

xoxo D

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Back to the Grind, Moving to NYC and Auditioning Up a Storm

Hey there world!

So I did not consisently blog during the second half of tour…oh well. I was a busy girl touring around the country. Apparently it wasn’t the best time to start a blog.

But here I am now! A lot has happened since I last wrote something. I finished my tour, moved to NYC, and am getting back into the swing of auditions during the tail end of the season. It’s crazy and wonderful and I am constantly busy and spending money. All in all, it was what I suspected thus far.

So I moved into my apartment on 179th St. and Broadway which is right in the middle of the Washington Heights neighborhood. I really like it so far- I feel safe walking around, I get to practice my spanish, and the A train is express. What’s not to love? I haven’t been able to thoroughly explore the neighborhood but I hope to do so when my lovely boyfriend comes and visits me next week. We have a knack for exploration. My room is actually quite cozy, with a spacious closet and dresser. I pared down my wardrobe because I thought I would be lacking space but now I wish I had brought MORE clothes…and I will very soon! I also really like the kitchen, which is a big thing for me since I cook whenever possible. I’ll be posting some recipes soon! Also, we have cable television…like ACTUAL CABLE. I have never lived in an apartment with cable. It’s a whole new world!

Aside from the apartment, life in NYC is pretty good. I kind of hit the ground running as soon as I got here- I had 2 job interviews and an audition appointment in the first two days of being here. I got one of the jobs (yay survival jobs!) but I haven’t started working yet. The audition appointment was pretty bad…like, a very bad audition. I was surprisingly nervous and I had absolutely no breath control or support when singing. However, I guess I needed to get one really bad audition out of my system…thankfully I wasn’t too disappointed. The artistic director did tell me that I looked like Erin Davie. I don’t see the resemblance myself but the compliment was a nice consolation prize since I obviously DID NOT book that gig!

While I was on tour, I actually sent in a ton of video auditions which was a bit of a pain while on the road, but doable. I didn’t book anything (womp womp) but I learned a lot from those auditions and I got a good feel for how to tape them for the future. I really prefer in-person auditions, even though I despise the waiting and the cattiness of the audition room. Because no matter if I book the gig or not, when I am auditioning live I know that what I am giving is exactly what I am feeling in that moment, good or bad. I find it to be a much more authentic audition. The good thing about video auditions is that you can do as many takes as you want! But for me, that leads to overanalyzing and overthinking. But ya live and ya learn and then you get booked…that’s how the saying goes, right?

I am currently at Ripley Grier Studios in midtown waiting at an EPA, which, for all you non-theater folk, means Equity Principle Call. Equity is the theater union and as a non-member, you tend to sit around a lot and wait to see if there are any open spots. It’s a crappy waiting game but it is sometimes worth it since you could book a union gig- which means you get points towards your card! It isn’t looking good for today’s call…but I’m hanging out because I have nothing better to do today. I actually already had 2 auditions this morning. One for Princess Cruise Lines and another for Disney World Vocalists. The Disney call was actually a union call that was WIDE OPEN. Like, any and all people were being seen. I went in and immediately was put in line to audition and was out in 10 minutes. Both auditions went well though I didn’t get any callbacks in the room. Nonetheless I am happy. At least I felt good about how I presented myself this time! Honestly, I think I was too short for the one call…apparently the ladies are supposed to be 5’5″ and up? Eh, either way, they were good auditions so I can’t complain. I mean, I can but I won’t.   Because that’s just so toxic, am I right or am I right?

SO yeah. That’s my life at the mo. Crazy and spastic. I really need a coffee. And a visit from my boyfriend…but otherwise I am great! Just livin’ the dream and getting used to the city. Send me your tips for acclimating! I feel like I am doing well but I love hearing about little pieces of advice. Best resources for actors, best place for coffee, best place to sit and just use the wifi all day!?

Ciao for now peeps!
xoxo D

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On The Road Again…January!

So despite my fierce commitment to this blog, I have continued to put off yet another post. Why, you might ask? Well, as much as I love sharing my whereabouts, I also have just been trying to enjoy each day for what it is, in the moment. I also have found that, again, touring is freaking exhausting! I will say though, that this go around, I have been feeling much better than I did on leg 1, despite the fact that our drives and traveling are much more extensive this time. My mom got a trial of The Daily Burn, and it has saved my life! Even if I only do a quickie 15 minute workout, I feel better, especially when we are sitting in the car all day. It still isn’t a “daily” burn for me, since sleep oftentimes trumps exercise, but it has definitely improved my mood and my body feels stronger.

As for where we have been….I am going to give a slightly truncated version, because we have been all over. So, our first stop was the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton Wisconsin. What a lovely and inviting venue. The stage was ginormous- It tends to host almost all of the big national tours like Book of Mormon and The Addams Family, as well as Theaterworks and ArtsPower productions. We even got to sign the wall, which was super amazing! It was freezing cold when we arrived and we actually left in a blizzard (I drove the box truck with finesse). Talk about a dramatic start to our tour.

After that we made our way to St.Louis, where we stayed for a week. We had 17 shows in one week. 17!!!!!! Granted, our shows are only about an hour, but if you figure Broadway does 8 shows a week at approxiametly 2 hours a piece, they are doing 16 hours of shows per week. We did 17 hours that week and this chick can’t call in her understudy when she is tired! So yeah. Just for comparison. As for the city of St.Louis, we didn’t really get to experience it much since our hotel was on the outskirts, but some of the highlights included a cool university area with trendy shops and really delicious sushi. We also went to the science museum which was cool despite the fact that science was definitely not one of my favorite school subjects. Also, fyi, in St Louis, all of the public museums are free, so I highly suggest checking them out. Lastly, we capped our trip off with a visit to the famous City Museum which is something I can’t quite explain. What I will say is that it is a child’s dream and will bring out the kid in you almost immediately. This place is an architectural masterpiece that includes hundred of tunnels, caves, and structures that allow you to climb, slide, play, and explore. There are slides hidden throughout the venue and they even have an art room and firepit if you get sick of running around like a maniac. I can’t explain what it was, but I can say, it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had on tour. I did have a few moments of panic since I am slightly claustrophobic, but once I just let loose and took on the adventure, I had an amazing time.

To summarize. St.Louis was meh, EXCEPT for City Museum. We did a ton of shows. And then we left.
Typical #tourlife

After that, we trekked to Decorah Iowa and stayed in this amazing, historic hotel for one night. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and I had the most delicious Iowa pork chop. There is no picture because it was so good I couldn’t help myself from devouring it. We performed the next day at Luther College and the staff and crew there were so freaking sweet, I couldn’t take it! They gave us free coffee mugs and told us they wanted to “shower us with love”. I mean, I don’t long for religion in my life, but I seriously (i.e. not really) considered converting to go to this school. I am sure they have a grad program in human kindness or something that I could partake in. I mean, they do that so well! Haha, anywho, the venue itself was a bit of a problem as the stage hands were inexperienced and the floor was crazy slippery, but otherwise, we had a lovely time there.

Also, the town of Decorah is so cute. I definitely want to come back to this small town. Madeline and I stopped into the co-op (which if you don’t know, they are my FAVORITE) and found some awesome local snacks. Go visit Decorah. You won’t be disappointed.

Next, we went to Indianopolis, which honestly, I don’t quite remember. We had a crazy long drive from Decorah to Indianopolis with a time change and a 6am load in the next day, so we were all pretty sleep deprived. I just remember the venue was one of the biggest we have played, like 2200 seats or something? Quite nutty.

Then we took a few days and drove all the way to Bend Oregon. That drive. Wow. I have never seen such beautiful mountains in my life! That drive was absolutely delightful. And then when we got to Bend, our hotel was magnificent, with our balconies overlooking the Deschutes river that was right outside our rooms! We even took a mini nature hike and it was great. The town was also very quaint and again everyone was very kind (hopefully this is a reocurring thing this leg?). We had dinner at the Deschutes Brewing Company and I indulged in their very own gluten free beer (made from rice) and an elk burger on their homemade gluten free bun with thyme roasted shallots and gruyere cheese. I also got some amazing pork tacos as an app (which were HUGE). I was incredibly happy, especially since I had so many options. Also, their house brewed beers were $3….THREE FREAKING DOLLARS! Yeah, so Oregon is officially my new favorite.

After that, we went to Modesto California which was interesting. Our stage was fantastic and very large and the shows went very well. Some people went to get In N Out burgers, but a few of us went thrifting instead, and I got these amazing dusty blue cowboy boots and another cool leather jacket. And some wedges…okay, so I love to thrift! Afterwards, we found this super authentic taqueria and I got some of the best carnitas tacos ever. Other than that though, Modesto was kind of meh.

Yesterday we traveled from Modesto to Arizona. It was pretty easy and uneventful except for the fact that Regan and I (who were in the truck) stopped in this awesome little town call Tehachapi and had lunch at this divey 1950s burger joint called Spot Burger. We also got a sweet treat from this german bakery. I got a chocolate dipped macaroon that was so light and fluffy and he got a cinnamon-y bear claw. Very appropriate to our characters! Anyway, that evening, once we made it to Arizona, we went to this place called Redneck’s Southern Pit BBQ and it did not disappoint. I had really good pulled pork and the BEST coleslaw I have had on tour. If you know me, then you know I freaking live for coleslaw. If you didn’t know, now you do. The potato salad was also pretty tasty. And it was cheap. So all in all, a great dinner after a long day of travel.

And now we are on the road! We are on day 2 of travel to Forrest City Arkansas. Today we are going from that little town in Arizona to Albequerque. I can’t believe January is almost over! And yet, it feels like we have been touring forever. It is very weird. Time is spacey on tour. Thanks for reading! I’ll be posting once we settle in Arkansas. We are thinking about visiting Memphis on our day off since it is really close to Forrest City. Any suggestions of what to see/do and most importantly EAT?

xoxo
D

p.s. pictures to come!

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All About that Food…No Trouble!

I took some pics of my food that I mentioned in my last post!

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All the food I managed to cram into my luggage.

I also wanted to show how I managed to bring it and talk about a few “tools” I forgot to mention.

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Kind Bars...All Kinds! Bahaha

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My Secret Weapons!

Okay, so let’s talk about those cool looking pics. I brought ALL the Kind bars in my carry-on because they were the only item I was positive could go through the security checkpoint. By putting them in my carry-on, I lessened the weight of my checked bag which was weighed down with all my other food! I obviously love Kind Bars and I LOVE the savory protein ones. The Jalapeño flavor is stellar.

And the seasonings! So I mentioned my mini sriracha bottle, which I got from my lovely mother for Christmas. You could obviously bring a larger bottle, but this mini one makes it more portable and accessible! You can even put it in your carry-on. The powdery looking thing next to it? It’s actually a pill divider and I filled it with pink Himalayan salt, black pepper, garlic powder, etc. This makes spices portable! My mom found this little trick and now I never travel without it- even if it’s just a day trip!

Also, this is more information about those salmon meals I mentioned.

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I mean, they speak for themselves. I should be an ambassador for this brand. I just love them so much!

And now, the tools of the trade!

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To the left of both pics is my awesome Oster Smoothie blender. This is a cheaper version of a nutra-bullet but it works SPLENDIDLY! You blend and drink your smoothie in the same bottle. It has a blade that can handle oats, whole nuts, and even ice! It is pretty lightweight for a blender and it tucked nicely into a corner of my suitcase.
Below that are these awesome reusable plastic snack bags my mom found from TJ Max. They are easy to clean and allow me to buy full sized snacks, store them in my big suitcase, and portion them for the day in the baggies. They also are very cute and lightweight.

I also have pictured a Tupperware that has different sections and a little steamer hole so I can steam veggies in the microwave. I like to transfer my leftovers into this so I can microwave in this safe dish versus the Styrofoam they usually give out at restaurants. The little compartments also help me keep different dishes separate if I have multiple dishes. The compartments aren’t necessary but I really like them. I really prefer glass Pyrex for storage and microwaving, but for touring, plastic is the obvious choice, as it’s lightweight and easy to clean.

I also brought a spill proof coffee cup because coffee/tea/caffeine is life. That’s all I have to say about that.

If I haven’t bored you enough, let me explain how I tour and organize all this food! Okay, so I leave the majority of my food in my big suitcase, which I generally keep in our tour van. I put one or two days worth of snacks and food into a small tote bag and put it into whichever vehicle I’m in that day. I suggest double bagging your liquid items because they would be a biotch to clean if they opened in your bag!

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Yayyyy! Food!!! Today was our first day off on tour so we went to brunch and just relaxed. We are currently in St.Louis! We might even be going to a blues club tonight?

Next post- Our first venue (Wisconsin) and more on our week in Missouri! Also, I’m going to be doing a quick post on traveling light on the road. I learned from the first leg that less is definitely more on tour. Ha! I rhymed!

Xoxo
D

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Food, Glorious Food!

So I have been meaning to do a post on how I eat on tour since it isn’t as easy as it might seem, if you want to eat healthily. I am an avid home cook and call myself a foodie, so it can be difficult to hand over all control to restaurants and fast food joints. I really really enjoy eating out, but even the healthy choices can be ridden with bad oils, excess salt, and all kinds of nasty things. Last leg I felt like crap all the time, so I vowed to be more prepared this time around, so when I can control mmy food choices, I have the resources!

I have categorized this post into three different lists. I have the food I have packed, which is all non-perishable, I have the items I buy when I can visit a grocery store (mostly perishable), and I have what I buy on the road to supplement these items. When we are traveling, we don’t always have the luxury of going to a sit-down restaurant, so all the things on the “supplement” list are all from either fast food joints, gas stations, or the continental breakfast we find at the hotels. It’s a long list, but if you are trying to stay healthy on the road, it’s worth taking a look! Also, just for context, I eat mostly paleo/primal, but I also eat similarly to the Perfect Health Diet. To cut to the chase, I eat minimally processed, whole foods when possible, with limited grains and dairy. I don’t eliminate those completely because it is nearly impossible on the road and I love dairy too much to fully give it up.

Here we go!

What I Brought

Kind Bars- So these are AWESOME. Seriously, they save my life when I am hangry (which is often). I really enjoy them because they are high in protein and fiber and low in sugar. I usually eat the sweet ones with/in place of breakfast when the pickings are slim. I really love the dark chocolate mocha almond flavor and the madagascar vanilla, but I love them all. I also suggest their new savory protein bars. The jalapeno flavor is dynamite and has 10 grams of protein! It also hits all the sweet/spicy/salty notes which is awesome.

Kind re-Nola – Also from the Kind brand, I just tried this stuff today and it is awesome. No grains, gmo ingredients, and gluten? I am so in!

Mini Sriracha Bottle- In my humble opinion, sriracha makes everything taste better. If it isn’t your thing, think about bringing a little container of your favorite seasonings on the road for those bland meals!

Starkist Tuna Packets- If you don’t mind fish, you really need to have these with you. They save my life all the time. I eat them just by themselves, or on top of a salad. They have great flavors like thai chili and lemon pepper. I will say, some of the flavored ones have more ingredients than I would like, but I really can’t live without them. So much protein in one pack!

St. Dalfour Meals- I almost don’t want to tell you about these because they are THAT GOOD. I want to keep them a secret! Okay, so I found these at Big Lots once with my mom and sister and they are AWESOME. They have all different kinds and flavors, but the kind I buy in bulk are the “Wild Salmon and Vegetables”. They are in a little can and come with a fork and a little salt packet. They are made in France and have no preservatives or artificial ingredients. The salmon kind has a generous portion of salmon, potatoes, lima beans (which I usually hate but are great in this) and carrots, in some herbed olive oil. It is so tasty and is often times a full meal for me when we stop at fast food joints. They have some vegetarian flavors as well and can be found on Amazon or Vitacost.com.

PB2- So the first leg, I just toted around a jar of peanut butter, which is also a great thing to do, but I specifically got this one to put into smoothies (I brought a mini smoothie blender this leg) and oatmeal. So far I like it since it is really lightweight and isn’t messy.

Fruit cups- I buy the grapefruit ones in juice, but obviously they come in all different varieties. I like these because at hotel continental breakfasts they usually only have bananas, apples, and oranges, so these are great when I want to switch it up. I also like them because they don’t go bad like fresh fruit but they taste just as good. I also throw them into a smoothie when I am short on fresh fruit. Make sure to buy the kinds in 100% juice with minimal ingredients.

GoGo Squeeze Applesauce- Okay, so these are silly but awesome and super portable! They have nothing but apples and water in them and they are my go to for a quick energy jolt. Plus sometimes they are just easier to eat than a whole apple while on the road.

LaraBars- Similar to Kind Bars, but much easier to eat since I have a lot of jaw tension. They come in all kinds of flavors and have great non-gmo ingredients.

Blue Diamond Mini Non-Perishable Almond Milk- These are great and super portable. I make oatmeal with them, put it into smoothies, or pour it onto some re-nola.

What I Buy at Grocery Stores

So this I am going to explain in a paragraph rather than a list. So when I go to a grocery store, I usually try to buy some perishables that I will know will last a day or two in my hotel fridge or in the van. I try to buy limited quantities since I don’t always have a good place to store them.

The prepared food/salad bars are your friends. Now, with any prepared food options, you have to be smart about your choices because Wegman’s egg salad probably isn’t any better than egg salad at a diner. But if you can get to a good grocery store like a Wegman’s, a Whole Foods, or even a co-op, you are more likely to find better choices or even ingredient lists by the products. Some of my favorite prepared food picks are any type of slaw, like a broccoli slaw that is lightly dressed, roasted veggies, or lightly sauteed green beans. These foods are great because they can be eaten at almost any temperature. I also recommend buying a whole rotisserie chicken. Sounds nutty, but a rotisserie chicken is a great source of protein and it can be used for multiple meals, eaten plain, on greens, or with whatever leftovers you might have. They are usually pretty cheap and now they even have organic ones available at some supermarkets. And if the super market has a salad bar, that is always a good, easy option. I also like to pick up some marinated mozzerella balls and dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) as snacks for the road. I also tend to grab a yogurt or two and some dried fruit like prunes and pineapple for the road.

What I Buy To Supplement

I actually prefer to stop at gas stations and convenience stores versus fast food joints when we are on the road because I find the options are more plentiful and I can get more things for my money. I can usually find some jerky at a gas station. It might not be the best option (sodium, nitrates, etc) but in a pinch, it’s a good source of protein that fills me up. I can usually find string cheese at a gas station which I like to nibble on. Also, if the gas station has hard boiled eggs, grab them! I love hard boiled eggs and most gas stations have some they either get from a nearby restaurant or they sell the ones that are in a little plastic package (which aren’t the best, but are decent). I also will grab a package of baby carrots if available and discard the dip. It isn’t the healthies in the word, but I make it work!

At a fast food place, like Mcdonald’s or Wendy’s I stick to the basics. I will usually get a plain side salad and top it with my own stuff. I always can find options at Panera or Chipotle, but my favorite run of the mill fast food place is Wendy’s. Their chili is free of most allergens and is pretty tasty. I usually get that with a sour cream and chive baked potato and I am set.

Lastly, the free continental hotel breakfasts. These can be surprisingly hard because all of the protein sources are generally pretty nasty (bagged scrambled eggs?) and all the rest of it is sugar and carbs. I will usually try to find a plain oatmeal packet and I will jazz it up with some pb and banana, or if the hard boiled eggs are edible, I will eat some of those. I tend to stay away from the breakfast meats because they are highly processed, but occasionally I will eat them if there isn’t much else.

So yeah. It is hard to eat healthy on the road. And I definitely don’t have it down pat either, but this is how I manage while on the road. So far, so good!

xoxo
D

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Fly Into the Future!!!

Name that musical! It is a little obscure but very fun with some really catchy music. Any takers? Bueller? Bueller???

Vanities. It’s from a show called Vanities. Look it up!

So I am starting this draft while still in flight to Omaha. Can you believe it is barely noon central time and I have already flown to Atlanta and then Omaha? Air travel baffles me like that!

I had my obligatory Five Guys bunless little bacon burger in the Atlanta airport, which was nice. Nothing like starting your day with a burger! But it was delicious and pretty much paleo, so that’s pretty cool. My flights have gone pretty smoothly. The Avoca/Scranton airport was a MESS this morning, which is so strange for that tiny airport. Apparently a bunch of TSA agents weren’t ready for the holidays to end and didn’t show up to work. With that being said, I made my flight just fine and, of course, we were delayed on the tarmac for quite some time, so there was no need to rush in the first place!

When we landed in Atlanta, my terminal was right by the Five Guys but I was thinking “Oh, there will be something I want to eat closer to my gate, so I’ll just find that first,”. Well, I decided to huff it from concourse C to B, without taking the tram, to get some steps in and what not. Well, never have I ever wanted a pedometer so much! I must have walked two miles in that airport!  Regardless, I got my Five Guys and I am one happy girl.

Just an update- I am not finishing this post from the tour van! We are on our way to Appleton Wisconsin!

But to finish up about yesterday, my second flight from Atlanta to Omaha was fabulous. The plane was full EXCEPT for the one seat next to me. Score! I got in a nice little cat nap, I read some of my book (Olive Kitteridge for those who are interested) and even started this post mid flight! It was great. And then, voila! I was suddenly in Omaha, thrown into the crazy cold. I stopped at one of my favorite diners in Omaha, Harold’s Koffee House, for a quick bowl of chili* and some of their famous donuts before picking up another cast member from the airport. And then, the rest of the night was mostly a blur. I hadn’t slept the night before my flight really, and then I had to wake up at 4am to get to my 6:30am flight, so I was crazy tired. I went to bed at like 7:30 Central Time, which is still really early, and slept until this morning!

And here we are again! We loaded up the truck and are off!

Just an fyi, I will be writing a post on what I packed for tour and what I consider essential snacks for touring! So stop by and read my stuff!

Unless I’m boring the hell out of you. And to that I say, get lost!

xoxo
D

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It’s The Start Of Something New! Leg TWO!!!

Do you hate me for using a HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL song as my post title? I hate me a little…it just fits so perfectly.

HEY! Hey you!!!! So it has been a while since I’ve blogged about the tour…I kind of left you, internet friends (my mom and Calvin), in the lurch at the tail end of my first leg of tour. I’m not going to make any excuses, I am just going to be honest. Touring is super tiring and writing was the thing I wanted to do least on my time off. That being said, I hope to chronicle my touring adventures a bit better the second time around.

I also kind of want to play around with talking less about the actual tour and talking more about how to keep happy and healthy while touring. That may bore some people, but honestly, that’s what I struggled with the most during the first leg. The travel schedule can be brutal, and when you add performances with early load ins, it can be hard to stay on top of things like exercise and proper nutrition. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE TOURING, especially with this company, but it is challenging to keep yourself in tip top shape when you are in a different place every other day. So, this time around, I am making me a priority!

The thing I found most difficult was finding the energy to exercise while traveling. When you have a long 8 hour drive, the last thing you want to do when you get out of the van is exercise. Travel sucks the energy right out of you and when your call time in the morning is early, exercise can feel nearly impossible. Despite all of this, however, I am going to try my best to do some sort of workout at least five days a week, and I’ll keep you posted on how that fits into my crazy schedule. While we were on hiatus during the holidays, I got back into a routine and worked out about four times a week. Call me old-fashioned, but I really like working out to dvds, especially since I like classes, but can’t always afford them. Some of my favorites are Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, and the old Sharon Mann dvds from the early 2000s- Don’t count her out! She was way ahead of the curve when it comes to strength training!

As for nutrition, I am still trying to figure out what works best for me. I know I feel best when I cut out most grains/carbs/sugars but it is a big challenge keeping that up while on the road. However, this time I came prepared! My mom bought me this awesome portable smoothie blender for Christmas, so I will definitely try that out, especially in the mornings when the pickings at the continental breakfast are slim. Also, does anyone have any suggestion for green superfood powders? I am trying to find one that will help me get my greens while on the road. Leave a comment if you have one you like! I also have a tupperware container with me this time around that can steam things, so hopefully that will help me make some healthier food choices. Speaking of, another goal I have for this leg is to dine LESS at restaurants…which is probably the most difficult challenge of all since we go out to dinner every night. Towards the end of the first leg, I found that buying food at local grocery stores was just as delicious and usually healthier and cheaper than at the restaurants. I like picking up a few random things like a sweet potato, rotisserie chicken, and some pre-made salad mix and eating a dinner like that, a la carte. I hope to do that a few times a week to save some money and calories. I am going to be experimenting with hotel cooking, since most places have microwaves and refridgerators in the rooms too. It’s going to be one hell of an adventure!

And don’t worry, I am still going to post about tour stuff. I gotta keep my friends updated. I actually fly out to Omaha tomorrow (NUTTY!) and we hit the road on Tuesday, en route to Wisconsin, our first stop on Leg Two! I’ll let you know how it all goes after being off for a month from the show.

Oh! I almost forgot! We have a new stage manager this leg! Our first SM, David, got offered to be the Stage Manager for the National Tour of Memphis, so he won’t be with us for this leg of the tour (sad face). BUT we have the resident stage manager at The Rose, Angel, coming out on tour with us (yeahhhhh woman powerrrrr) so I know we will be in good hands. Well, that’s all I got for now…let’s hope I keep this resolution going!

xoxo
Garland…I mean Dionna
😛

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Summer Lovin’ Having a Blast! Florida!!!

The sun is shining and it is always a beautiful day here in sunny Florida! Last post, we were opening the show at the Peace Center in South Carolina! For me, that seems like ages ago. We have been uber busy, traveling to and performing in Florida, so let me get you up to speed!

Greenville, South Carolina was spectacular, and our shows went off without a hitch! After performing shows 3,4,5 and 6 at the Peace Center, we packed up and headed to Savannah for a quick layover during our haul to Florida. Nothing super exciting happened in Savannah, BUT I did have some amazing braised kale with my meal at a little hole in the wall restaurant called Hideaway Cafe or Breezeway Cafe? Something like that…anyway, I got the bass special which was delicious in its own right, with a lemon beurreblanc and roasted parsnips, but the REAL star was the braised kale. Lemme take you back a minute…I have never gotten on the kale train. Ever. Despite being a self-proclaimed health nut, I have never ever been a fan of kale. Every time I had eaten it, I felt like I was chewing on cardboard that tasted something like grass. Needless to say, kale was not my green of choice. However at this sailaway cafe or whatever, they changed my mind about kale- indefinitely! This kale I could have eaten every day of my life. It was braised with plenty of bacon and onions and finished off with some vinegar. It was crazy good. Now you are saying, hmmm Dionna…it seems you only liked the kale because of the copious quantities of bacon, hmmm???? And I will tell you that the bacon did elevate the kale (I mean, bacon is bliss, come on!) BUT I would have loved it even if the bacon hadn’t been there. The braising changed my feelings about kale and I cannot WAIT to try it out for myself in the kitchen.

So yeah. That was Savannah, for me at least. All about that kale, ’bout that kale…I digress.

Moving on, we drove all the way to our first stop in Florida, Pembroke Pines, which was just outside of where our venue was in Aventura. Despite a little rain, we all enjoyed a day off. A few of us decided to do a gator tour of the Everglades which were just a few miles from where we were staying. That was AWESOME.
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I am seriously scared of most reptiles, specifically gators, but I was stunned at how beautiful and magnificent they were in the everglades! Learning about them in the wild made me a little less scared, but let’s be honest, I won’t be getting near any alligators any time soon! We also saw some awesome birds on the tour and had a fantastic air boat ride all over the glades. After the boat ride, we also got a fun live show from Chris, one of the Gator Boys from the Animal Planet show. He was pretty fearless (and corn fed) as he got very intimate with one big gator. Overall, the trip to the Everglades was well worth it.
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The next day, we drove to our next venue which was the Aventura Cultural Arts Center. We had two shows that day, plus a load in and load out, so we all prepped for a long long day. When we arrived, we were stunned at how freaking beautiful it was!
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The center is right on the water, which we later found out is called Dumbfoundling Bay (interesting eh?). We usually have full houses at most of our venues because they book schools to see us, but at the Aventura Center we were doing public shows, so they weren’t as packed as we are used to seeing. That being said, we still had a lot of fun. I will say that I was kind of turned off by the rudeness we got from the PARENTS in the audience! Many of them were texting, talking, moving around the theater. One lady even started to take a PHONE CALL in the middle of the show. People just don’t know how to conduct themselves in the theater. Teach your kids how to be polite in the theater, I beg of you. Also, I realize this is silly to say on here since most of you that are reading this are generally theater-goers without children or with children that are grown. Oh well, I felt it had to be said.

After our short, but lovely stint on Dumbfoundling Bay, we drove to West Palm Beach and loaded our set into the Kravitz Center’s Black Box space.
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Kravitz Center!

Now this theater was lovely, even if we were using the smaller of their spaces. Their mainstage is huge.

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The Mainstage. Humungous!

Like ginormous huge. Like 3,000 people huge. Cray Crayyyy. Our space was not as big but it still held like 300 kids I think (I never got the count here). This was our longest stint in one place on the tour, a total of 10 shows in 5 days. We were in West Palm Beach for a total of 6 days and almost every day after the shows, we would head to City Place which is a great walkable area with shops and restaurants, or to the beach, or to Delray Beach, which is another downtown area a few minutes away.
I really enjoyed all of the sun, sand, and surf. You don’t realize how much you love the ocean until you return. Or at least that was my experience.
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Every day in West Palm Beach we had a full audience and the stuff they would say during the performance would make you laugh out loud. There were the awws and gasps when the baby Julius doll appears on stage, followed by a quick but fierce debate about if the baby was real or a doll. We had the little girl down front who cheered my character Garland on after Lily ruined the group presentation. The reactions we get during the show are so varied and hilarious. I find myself having to work REALLY hard to stay in the scene when a kid is being particularly funny. Also, one day this past week, I went on stage after my quick change into the Grammy costume with my wig on sideways. Madeline (Lilly in the show) told me I looked like a mouse unicorn. There was no way to fix it once on stage, so I just made it part of Grammy’s kooky personality. Oh the joys of live theater!

After our longest run in one place EVER we packed up on Halloween after two shows and said goodbye to one of the best crews we have encountered to date. We made our way down to Coral Springs FL about 45 minutes away and settled into our hotel. Halloween for the LPPP tour was kinda funky. Our friend and castmate Tim left to catch a flight, since he was going to a wedding in NJ on our day off, so we were already not at 100% so to speak. The remaining six of us decided to try to find dinner at a cool place and then head to downtown Ft. Lauderdale to see if we could find some fun festivities. Four out of six of us dressed up and I went as I Dream of Jeannie. David, our SM, was a sriracha bottle, Madeline was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Regan was a Greaser. We went to this Polynesian restaurant that was supposed to have Halloween events and had an interesting time. The bar, where we were first sat, was awesome, with live music and lots of people dressed up. The people there were mostly older, but we still thought it had potential to be fun. Then we saw the drink menu. Most drinks were between $10-20…ridiculous if you are an actor living off per diem! We promptly refused drinks and when we asked if we could order dinner, they informed us that we had to move to the formal dining room to do so. We were whisked away to a small, intimate room that was tackily decorated and overly formal. We were again prompted to order drinks, which we didn’t, and then finally got the dinner menu. The cheapest entree on there was $16.75…and honestly, they weren’t that great. Everyone ate their meal but honestly, my food, the hunan chicken was chinese takeout quality. Definitely not worth almost $20, plus it made me sick later. Bleh.

After our interesting stint at the Polynesian restaurant, we tried downtown Ft Lauderdale which also turned out to be a bust. The area we went to was mostly rich older people or young business yuppies. A good two thirds of the people were not in costume and the bars were either too crowded or had more overpriced beverages. So Halloween was a bit of a bust. BUT my costume was fantastic and now I have something to wear for next year’s Halloween, so all is not lost.

Saturday of this week, we had a day off and we all kind of went our separate ways. Regan and I enjoyed a lovely brunch at this place called Foxy Browns. I had a bellini and we shared banana bread grilled cheese, which was filled with nutella flavored ricotta. Yummo! I also had the short rib benedict which made my heart go pitter patter. If there is a short rib benedict on a menu, get it. Just do it. After brunch, I had a leisurely day reading and catching up on some shows. A few people went to Miami for the day but I stayed back and relaxed. At night, a bunch of us went to the Wicks Theater in Boca Raton and saw their production of Swing. Regan had a few friends in it since he has worked there previously, so we got some last minute tickets. Though the show has virtually no story line, the vignettes off singing and dancing were a great fun way to spend a night off. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, especially the spectacular band that was playing on stage. Delightful. After that, we went to the flashback diner for some grub. All of the entrees are named after old hollywood stars which made the experience all the more enjoyable. I got the Dick Clark Reuben and it hit the spot! The diner was the perfect cap to our day.

We loaded in the set yesterday afternoon and the venue is huge. It seats just over 1400 people. Amazing! Photos to come. And today we have 2 shows, load out, and then a drive to Savannah! Our next stop is Ogdensberg NY, which I hear is on the Canadian border. Woohoo! So we have a long drive ahead of us. And I will probably post something silly while on the road.

Anyway, sorry this is so long and kind of boring. Lots happened this last week and a half and since I was so busy, I had no time to write! But definitely look forward to more frequent posts…hopefully! Happy November! Hope this isn’t lame. I love you internet friends. All two of you. Hi mom! Okay, I’m off to the Coral Springs Cultural Center. Later Florida!

xoxo
D

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Another Openin’, Another Show! Virginia, South Carolina and Everything in Between

Well, hello there! I have been mighty busy performing and touring that I haven’t really gotten to update you about all of the wonderful festivities that have happened over the course of less than a week! Touring time goes super fast. It always feels like you are just arriving in one city and in an instance, you are hauling out and onto the next venue. And yet, it seems like we have been on the road for months and it has actually only been a week! It’s crazy and lovely and weird, but that’s where I am at right now.

On Friday, we opened at our first venue which was the Paramount in Charlottesville, Virginia. We had a crazy early morning that day since we had to prep for the show that morning, so we had to fit a lot of stuff into a very little time frame. I definitely prefer when we can set up the day before the shows, because it can feel really rushed, but you do whatcha gotta do! We had two shows back to back in the morning and we were sold out! Our first audience was 998 kids and teachers, and the second show had 1,014. Definitely the biggest audience I have ever played to. The space was beautiful, but the stage was a little small for our large set so we had to rework some bits in the show, but we made it work.The audiences really brought the show to a new level. The kids were so infectious, laughing and dancing the whole show. How could you not have fun when you have 1,00 kids out of their seats, dancing right along with you? It was an absolute treat and a great start to our tour.

The Paramount! So many seats!

The Paramount! So many seats!

The town (city?) of Charlottesville was fantastic. Their is a pedestrian mall outside where you can browse and shop at local boutiques or eat at the amazing restaurants. The vibe was so friendly and chill and it had tons of southern charm, with cobblestone streets and outdoor seating. We went to a local chocolate shop and ate at a bistro called Fig, which was in the college area.

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Charlottesville Pedastrian Mall

The theater provided us with Spudnuts for breakfast, a local treat. Don’t know what a spudnut is? Well, I’m glad you asked! Spudnut was created by two brothers from Salt Lake City, after they traveled to Germany and ate a fluffy, potato flour donut. They came back to the states and eventually created their own recipe for a potato donut, or a spudnut. Shortly after, they created a franchise and sold their donuts nationwide. They were particularly popular in the 1960s. The franchise doesn’t exist anymore, but there are still independent shops around the country, including Charlottesville VA (they are on the Spudnut wiki page!). The original donut flour mix is no longer sold, so the companies have to recreate the spudnut on their own. Now, if you now me, you know I am a donut fanatic, always in search of great fried pillows of dough that we disguise as breakfast. So how does the Spudnut rank? Top 5 donuts I have eaten, hands down. They make two kinds of donuts, a cake like one, and a fluffy potato flour one. Go with the potato flour ones. So freaking good! I could have eaten a dozen. They are so simple, yet so fresh and delicious. Definitely a food highlight on my trip.

We left from Charlottesville right after the show and started our trek to our next venue, in South Carolina. The drive was so pretty! We stopped for the night in Greensboro, North Carolina and had another incredible culinary experience. World, I have some confessions. One, I have never had proper fried chicken. Two, I have never had chicken and waffles. There I have said it! But on Saturday, in Greensboro NC, all of that changed, forever. We went to Dame’s Chicken and Waffles for dinner and I died and went to soul food heaven. The menu was so varied and had super creative names for the chicken and waffle pairings. I got the Quilted Buttercup, which was two mini sweet potato waffles and a fried chicken cutlet with maple walnut schmear.

The Quilted Buttercup. Worth every last calorie.

The Quilted Buttercup. Worth every last calorie.

Not familiar with schmear? It’s Dames’ version of a flavored butter. And it is a necessary evil. Flavorful, mouthwatering, and ridiculously delicious. If you haven’t waded into the chicken and waffles pool yet, I highly suggest you dip your toes in with Dame’s Chicken and Waffles if you are in North Carolina. Seriously. You won’t be disappointed.

So that was Greensboro. It was grand, even if only for a night. We also went to this great coffee shop called Tate’s on UNC Greensboro’s campus, which was lauded by one of the cast members. It was awesome, with local art, hand crafted drinks, and live jazz that particular day. A small highlight for sure before finishing our drive to South Carolina. Saturday was also my dearest friend Madeline’s birthday. She plays Lilly on the tour and turned 23 this weekend! We took her out for dinner when we made it to Greenville SC, and, like a boss, she ordered prime rib. Actually, it was funny because that night, all three of us girls got prime rib from that restaurant and it was fantastic. Again, another great food moment on tour. The next day, we loaded in and set up the stage and then we had the rest of the day to relax and explore. We found this awesome coffee shop called Moe Joe’s which had this great local roasted coffee called “Highlander Grogg” that I fell in love with. It is nutty, with sweet hints of butterscotch. The baristas there were super nice and friendly, as most people are that we have met in the South. The town too is gorgeous, on a river, with cobblestone streets and exposed brick everywhere. Falls Park is a must see.

Reedy River Falls

Reedy River Falls

It is a huge park with a suspension bridge overlooking Reedy River Falls. wpid-img_20141018_182149884.jpgSeriously beautiful nature, accompanied by picturesque fountains and sculptures everywhere. I really like it down here! I might have told my mom (multiple times) to think about retiring down here some day, so I can continue to visit the area…come on mom! Speaking of moms, one of our cast member’s mom and sister were in town, so the rest of us joined them for dinner later that day. It was really nice and they were absolutely lovely.

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View of the Peace Center

Today we opened at our venue, the Peace Center. We are in their smaller space, the Gunter theater. Despite the fact that the space is smaller, the facilities are top notch and the stage is ginormous. There is a ton of wing space (backstage space for those of you who are unfamiliar with theater terms) and the dressing rooms are almost too big for our tiny cast. It is a pleasure to work in their space. The crowds today were pretty good, not 100% sold out, but fairly full houses nonetheless. The kids, as usual, really enjoyed it, though the first audience was a bit timid and second audience seemed a bit antsy. That’s kids for you! Regardless, we had great shows and are excited to finish it off tomorrow with two more.

View from the Gunter Stage

View from the Gunter Stage

Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about Buddy. Oh Buddy. After our shows today, we went to a burger joint downtown called Grill Marks, which had delicious big burgers, shakes, fries, and the like. The food was great and I could talk for another hundred words about all the food we ate, but I won’t because there was something even more delicious than juicy burgers on the menu at Grill Marks, and his name was Buddy. Buddy was our server, and boy, was he a grass-fed* hunk of man. Now, I am a happily taken by a lovely man myself, but my guy knows that I can appreciate a good-looking man. I mean, looking is okay, as long as I don’t touch, right??? Anyway, back to Buddy. Everyone at our table was swooning over him at our table. I swear, Madeline and I got slack jawed every time he asked us if we needed something. He was tall, dirty blonde, toned arms, which were covered in tats (zomg tasteful sleeves though), with a voice that was smooth and sultry. Buddy, if you are reading this, we want you to know that your hotness was appreciated. Grass-fed* men for life!

Okay, well, now that I am done embarrassing myself with the Buddy rant, I am going to go and take a cold shower. Thanks for reading about my tour life. I realize this post is better organized because I am writing it on a computer rather than my tablet. I’ll try my best to write them on hotel computers whenever possible. After tomorrow’s shows, we are off to Florida with a quick pit stop in Savannah Georgia. If you have any questions about my tour life, or want a specific topic discussed or explored, or if you want Buddy’s number, just leave a comment and I would be happy to answer it! Happy Monday Y’all!

* Back in Omaha, I began called certain men “corn fed”. “Corn fed” is just a term I coined for that All-American, Midwestern, hunky guy. A variation of corn fed is grass-fed, which is for the more alternative guy, who still has certain clean cut features of a corn fed man, like being toned and masculine, but he has an edge. Their is also another variation, for the hipster “too cool for school” man or the oddball, which is free range. Those men are either straight up hipsters, or are really quirky and original. They also tend to be lankier and leaner than the corn fed, or even the grass fed man. Just a little reference point for you.*

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Ease on Down, Ease on Down the Road!

Hello there!!!

Hope you have had a fantastic week. I have so much to catch y’all up on. Currently, we are driving from Illinois all the way to West Virginia and I am typing this up in our van. I am surprised and happy to say that I have yet to regurgitate my breakfast. Let’s keep this theme going, shall we?

So, when I last left you, we were gearing up for a week of tech. We actually teched in a different venue since the Rose was being used for Cat in the Hat. We went to the Jewish Community Center about 30 minutes from our house to tech. The stage was actually tinier than what we will normally encounter on the road, but for all intensive purposes, it worked for tech just fine. This tech was by far the easiest tech I have ever done. EVER! It was so easy, in part, because our team is so focused, but mostly the credit should go to our stage manager David, as well as our
lighting/sound designer Kyle. They did a paper tech before us (the actors) even got into the space, so when we were added to the mix, we just had to tweak a few moments with the technical elements. The show itself is also simplistic, in the sense that all of the moving periaktoi are moved by the actors, and it is just an easy turn.  There is nothing flying in which also makes tech nice and easy.

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Garland and Lilly Cheesing!

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Garland's Chair, obvs

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I would say the most difficult part of tech was adding in the costumes since all of the characters, besides Lilly, make quick costume changes at some point or another. The actors playing Garland (me), Mother, and Father, have the majority of changes which are often only seconds. The actor playing the Mother actually has 11 total quick changes. I myself, only have 4, however my one quick change from Garland to Grammy is crazy tight, mostly because I have to do a pretty heavy set change and then have to put on a dress, blazer, glasses, AND change wigs. The wig change is by far the hardest part of the whole thing because nobody is on stage left during my change so I often have no idea if my wig is on correctly. Also, have you ever tried putting glasses on when you have a wig cap and wig on. Easier said than done. Despite all of this craziness, we all only needed one dress rehearsal to figure out and solidify all our changes. So, in turn tech was super duper easy and successful!

This past Friday, we had our first audience which consisted of fifty pre-schoolers. It was great to have an audience and I think they really enjoyed it. At first, they were really quiet which made me think “Oh no! They are bored,”. But what I realized as the show went on is that they were being quiet because they were REALLY listening. I mean, they were totally on board. That age group, when they are trying to listen or follow a story, they get nice and quiet. At one point, my friend Madeline, who plays Lilly, took the “Uncooperative Chair” to give herself a punishment, a little boy in the audience gasped loudly as if saying “OH NO!”. He really understood the seriousness of that chair. It’s moments like this that make our job incredible. At one point, when my character Garland had to kiss Lilly’s baby brother Julius, I made a disgusted face and some little one in the audience went “yuck!”. The audience really gave us some perspective and helped us realize which jokes will land with the kids and which ones will land with the adults that come to see the show.

On Saturday, we had our last dress rehearsal and then packed the truck so it would be ready to go on Tuesday morning. We had the rest of the night off, so went to an attraction called Haunted Hollows for a little spooky rendezvous. It was a huge piece of land that had different Halloween themed houses on it. There was the main house, which was three stories of “terror”. Let me preface this by saying I am a scaredy cat that loves to be scared. I get a huge rush of fear and adrenline that makes me feel both terrified and also excited. It’s the same reason I love and also am terrified of things like cliff jumping. I am an adrenline junky that is crazy scared half the time. But that just makes me feel that much more exhilarated when I’m done.

Tangent complete. Back to Haunted Hollows. So, the main house was supposed to be 3 stories of crazy scariness and whatnot, but it was a bit disappointing, and that’s coming from a lady that gets spooked if someone approaches me from behind to fast. I scare easily and that haunted house wasn’t that scary. There was a few moments when my friend Regan (who plays the Father track) grabbed onto me for safett and in turn, I clung to Saladin (who plays Chester) because I too was spooked! But generally, it wasn’t very scary. I like to be really scared. So I was a bit upset. There was one farm house that was full of hay where I got super scared. It was pitch dark and a guy with a chain saw surprised me by jumping on the bale in front of me, revving the saw. I jumped and almost went into the fetal position. My friends found my mini heart attack hilarious, and I’ll admit, my reaction was pretty wonderful. The only thing that sucked is that after the guy spooked me, he was no longer scary. The element of surprise was what was scary, and that guy was the only surprise in the farm house. It would have been eons better had there been another guy waiting at the door. But there wasn’t. Perhaps they were short staffed? Also, the characters that walked around the park were few and far between. The ones who were there didn`t interact with people which is boring and again, not scary. The only ones that really were fantastic were Bubbles and Peaches the clowns. They killed it. They had chain saws and were crazy scary looking. Plus, I watch American Horror Story: Freak Show, so I already was more terrified of clowns than usual. They were scary. The rest of Haunted Hollows? Not so much.

Sunday and Monday we had days off, but the weather was dismal at best. We all spent good chunks of the day relaxing in front of the TV, with a book, or packing up for our journey. By Tuesday morning, we all were packed and off to tour through the country! Five people loaded up into the van with our luggage, while David (the SM) and I hopped into our beauty of a box truck for the first travel day. Our truck is 13.6 feet tall, 26 feet long, and weighs about 8 tons when it’s all packed with our set, costumes, props, and equipment. It’s a beast and I love it. We had approxiametely eight hours of driving which we split between the two of us, with David taking the first 4 hours from Nebraska, through Iowa and the beginning of Missouri. I finished off the drive through the majority of Missouri and Illinois. I had to drive through some inclement weather, but David said I did a great job. I was one proud lady. Nailed it!

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Gearing up to drive the truck with a coffee!

The truck is actually really fun to drive. I enjoyed being away from the group for a bit, to chill out and jam out to music. David may or may not have taken a few snapchats of me jamming to some great tunes like Shake it Off and Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca. We also drove through St. Louis so I saw the arch from afar and we went over a really cool bridge. The majority of the driving however, was farmland. Lots and lots of farmland.

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We, as in the truck, made it to the hotel before the van which is practically unheard of, but the van ran into some problems with Lila, the GPS. I think she is quite sadistic, but in the truck we just use mapquest printouts or our phones, so I don’t have to deal with her much. Anyway, they went on an unneccessary detour, so we got there and settled in about an hour before the van. Then comes the best part of the day- dinner. There is this barbeque place called Bandana’s literally across the parking lot from the hotel we stayed at, so we went there since we were all STARVING. Let me begin with saying that I love barbeque. LOVE LOVE LOVE! This place has many awards for their ribs, so I decided to go with that platter which came with 2 sides and really delicious garlic bread. I had cole slaw and potato salad as my sides, which were great, but the ribs were the star. They also make 5 different homemade sauces, which were all delicious. I liked the sweet tang of the Kansas City sauce so I used that on top of my ribs. But the ribs didn’t actually need sauce. They were incredible on their own, with great flavor, but the sauce just made them that much better. The cole slaw was really good, sweet and kind of watery (I can’t think of a better way to describe it), which is how I like it. The potato salad was different from what I am used to, but it was still good. It was really sweet, probably from relish, and very soft. I liked that it wasn’t goopy or crazy heavy on the mayo and I also liked that they used red potatos. It also was incredibly well priced for the portions and yes, I did indeed eat all of the ribs. They were just so good!

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And now, we are currently driving from Illinois to West Virginia! I don’t have to drive today which I am thankful for since I can relax a bit and just enjoy the ride. We are currently in Bird’s Eye, Indiana and we just passed the town of Santa Claus about twenty minutes ago and yes, it is an actual place. With attractions like Christmas Lake. Google Maps that shiz! We will be driving through Kentucky and West Virginia later in the day so woohoo! Also, we are currently back on eastern time! Yay! Alright, that’s all for now. I will post my review(s) of Gone Girl this afternoon since I have discovered that typing in the car doesn’t make me sick- yay! Thanks for reading!

xoxo
D

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