mattadoresit:

Henry Lytton as the Duke of Plaza-Toro in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers

mattadoresit:

Henry Lytton as the Duke of Plaza-Toro in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers

Midwest Tour Day #14

Dear …

We have just completed our final two Pinafores of this fantastic Midwest tour, and now are at the Comfort Inn, in Van Wert, OH, where they are SO good to have a breakfast room they are letting us use to spend a little bit of time unwinding together — our little closing night after-party.

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We, the beleaguered, befuddled blogging trio of Cousin Hebe, Cousin Ruth and the Captain, have decided to combine our efforts for one final blog posting as we prepare to set sail for home!

 CAPTAIN:

Our final two shows were in Danville, KY and Van Wert, OH. (In Danville, we thought it particularly appropriate that Dan Greenwood went on as Ralph … in DANville.) However, I ask you, WHAT are the odds that our performance in Kentucky would manage to land dead on the ONE night that BOTH KENTUCKY RIVAL BASKETBALL TEAMS are playing in the NCAA Semi-finals!! Now THAT is truly March Madness!! (However, it did provide excellent fodder for my 2nd Act drunken-improv bit with Sir Joe.) But it was MOST gratifying was that we had a remarkably full, VERY lively and appreciative audience, and they ALL stayed for the 2nd Act even though the tip off for the Louisville Vs Kentucky game was at 9:45 – I took that as the ultimate Kentucky compliment that we had really ensnared them with the brilliance of Act I!

 Our final show was in in Van Wert, OH – a venue we played a few years ago with The Pirates of Penzance (I know, because I found the picture on the wall we all signed).

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It was another excellent show, and and Kate Bass (Josephine’s) grandparents came to see it. Talking to them the next morning, they told me the just couldn’t stop smiling they loved it so much. in fact, the whole audience was again wonderful, and we felt like we were going out on a particularly high note (like, Josephine-high-note high) — but it was also a bittersweet end. We are so proud of the work we have done and the show which has become so sharp and polished, happy to think we will get to come home so soon, but yes, Little Buttercup, we’re sad and sorry to leave a show we love so much with a group we have been traveling so closely with. And especially to leave our friends in the orchestra. (Cue music “Kiss today goodbye…”)

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 COUSIN RUTH:

 You know, as I sit here trying to come up with the perfect summation of the last 2 1/2 weeks, it strikes me the interesting push/pull relationship with touring and traveling.

Traveling on a tour bus, with a busy show schedule and a location that changes daily, can be grueling.

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Sir Joe catches a few ZZZs

We make the best of it, we sleep on the bus when we can, we watch movies and joke around, and we drink a lot of coffee before the show. (And usually bourbon after.) It’s not always perfect living (and it’s not always a vacation, either) but it’s a temporary rhythm that we settle into, like any other job, and we do it as professionally as possible. Sure, we get cranky and tired and battle stiff muscles and deal with broken down tour buses and people’s elbows jabbing us if you’re in the aisle seat and yes, it gets annoying.

 However, we are living the life we have sought out for ourselves! We put on costumes, we get onstage in front of enthusiastic audiences, and we take our curtain calls to a standing ovation every time because we put on a darn good show. We grow incredibly close in ways that other professions can’t comprehend, we become a family, we rely on each other and we laugh harder than anyone else does.

And just like anyone else, even though I’m glad to be off that tour bus (especially this time…) I miss everyone like crazy when we are apart. And I can’t WAIT to get out there and do it again.

 COUSIN HEBE:

 Can’t believe we did our last show of the tour! To borrow some lyrics from the musical Baby: “…What a journey, what a ride!..” and it could not have been with a nicer group of people: we so fortunate…and now I’m off to say hi (hear festivities near the lobby)…and re-pack for the journey home.

 COUSIN RUTH:

 What a ride is right! We’ve done 3500 miles, 18 days, 14 hotels, 12 venues, 8 states, 6 buses, 2 sets of tires, 2 times zones, and 1 great show with an amazing company… and I’m ready for the next adventure. (Just let me pull this last load of laundry out of the dryer first!)

 COUSIN HEBE (our own Barbara Walters):

To finish out the tour, I did a final mini-interview, this time with our 3rd, fun bus driver — this Sat. eve, approx. 4:45 p.m.; (he met us in Cape G., MO and came to see the show TWICE!!):

 Vicky: Al, thanks for doing this interview, pre-show boarding tonight. Where are you from?

 Al Smith: Detroit, MI.

 Vicky: That’s great! — and for our popular question (with thanks for joining us later on the gig) - what has been your favorite part of the tour?

 Al Smith: Observing the play. (v. did not prompt this response - so very honored he feels that way).

 Vicky: Wow - great to hear! What did you like best about the show?

 Al Smith: It was different from other shows I’ve seen; it was relaxing and hilarious. I enjoyed the Sir Joseph/Captain scene, the dancing and the costumes.

 Vicky: Everyone will be so glad to hear that; thanks! I’m guessing that you do something else, in addition to driving, yes?!

 Al Smith: I’m a drummer. I play with various groups.

 Vicky: Fantastic! What kind of music?

 Al Smith: Latin, religious and jazz, etc. I’m self-taught.

 Vicky: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not on the road?

 Al Smith: Cooking — and spending time with my 3 year old son, Carlon!

 CAPTAIN:

Thank you Vicky — I suppose it is only fair to admit that, being our final show, this usually proper Captain got a little loose behind the scenes and started trying out this “backstage selfie” thing I had heard so much about. Turns out it is pretty fun (bear in mind, my phone is a Blackberry apparently from 1879, we’re lucky it gets email.)

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The Captain and Josephine, inside the Cabin, waiting for our first entrance.

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The Star-Crossed Lovers – Buttercup and I as she waits to “Hail man-o-war’s men, safeguards of our nation

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Cousin Hebe conducts the Sisters, Cousins and Aunts as they sing “Over the bright blue sea” from offstage

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Gratuitous Bustle Shot … Shall we submit?!

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Really, I have no idea … these things just happen sometimes.

COUSIN HEBE:

Here is my final collection of anonymous quotes as we head for home:

 ”Thank G-d!”

 ”I love New York!”

 ”There’s no place like home!” (we did visit the Judy Garland museum after all…)

 ”Bye, Felicia!”

 ”What the _____?!!”

 ”The roof is leaking!”

 ”Why are my feet sticky?!”

 ”Heigh-diddle-dee-dee - an actor’s life for me!”…

COUSIN RUTH:

Thank you Al, David Wannen, David Auxier, Ben, Annette, Andi, Gail, and every hero behind NYGASP for giving us the opportunities that you do! We appreciate what you’ve created and hope to be part of many more creations in the future. And special thanks to Joseph Rubin for his hard work in organizing this tour blog!

CAPTAIN:

And finally, before signing off, we have to give three cheers (“I’ll lead the way - Hoorah, Hoorah, Hooray!”) for the final set of NYGASP unsung heroes. Many of us on the tour bus have left behind wonderful, supportive and (thankfully) strong and independent partners, spouses, fiancées, significant others, or otherwise committed (in the good way) individuals. In many cases, they are left to tend to homes, pets, and children on their own. And while a few days’ absence will most certainly make the heart grow fonder, when that absence becomes 2 and a half weeks, it can really take a toll. And so, our last shout out will be for those Mighty Winds Beneath our Wings, keeping a light in the window and the home fires burning, who who we all can’t wait to get home to again!!

   So, let’s lift up our hearts and our voices to:
        Carlos
        David
        Val and Lucy
        Tyler
        Kenji
        Robbie
        Pien
        Jame, Cole, Sam and Olivia
        Lauren, Anwyn and Declan
        Sanita, Isabelle and Audrey
        Joel and Imogene
        John and Sophia
        and Gail.

UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN!!

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Sarah (the Hutch) Hutchinson, aka “Cousin Ruth”
Vicky Devany, aka “Cousin Hebe”
David Auxier, aka “Dance Captain Cocoran”
and Sailor Seph “Guest Blogger” Stanek

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So long everyone!

Midwest Tour Day #13

Madisonville, Kentucky

As you well know, the HMS Pinafore has experienced rough traveling waters in the past few days, wreaking a case of mal de mer upon several denizens aboard our hearty ship; thus our own Captain Corcoran, Cousin Hebe, and Cousin Ruth “seek the seclusion that a cabin grants” tonight by taking a break from blogging themselves.

Thus, an introduction must be made for today’s gallant, sea-faring wordsmith:

Blog-mates, ahoy! My name is Sailor Seph. I come to you as the newest member (along with leading lass Kate Bass) of the NYGASP touring company.

This is my second season as a member of the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players and my first year on the road. On board the H.M.S. Pinafore, I swab the deck, indulge in Buttercup’s succulent peppermint drops, and cantillate pitches far below the bass staff. Pleased to meet ya’!

While we’re on the subject of introductions, I’d like you all to meet our stouthearted new bus driver, Al.

Al is our fifth bus driver thus far on our voyage and will steer us through uncharted waters aboard our sixth (yes, SIXTH) bus vessel. We are glad to have him on board!

I enjoy numbers, and if you do too, let’s indulge together in this next section:

Total miles traveled so far from NYC: 3,834

Total hours on bus: 59 hours, 30 minutes

Total stranded time: 8 hours, 45 minutes

Total time on the road (including stranded hours): 68 hours, 15 minutes

Total words in H.M.S. Pinafore libretto (including NYGASP encores/improvisations): 8,622

Total words spoken/sung on stage so far on tour (approximate): 86,220

Total words left to perform on tour: 17,244

Now that we’re up to speed, let’s continue.

My day started with a visit to the Kirchdoerfer Dairy Farm in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, located conveniently across the highway from our hotel. My roommate, Sailor David Macaluso, and I have several new bovine bosom buddies after our pre-bus excursion.

Our bus ride today included travel through three states (Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky); cow, American bison, chicken, donkey, and horse-drawn buggy sightings; and a momentous passage o’er the Ohio River.

After a short travel day, we arrived in Madisonville, Kentucky, and quickly made our way to the beautiful Glema Mahr Center.

Our dressing rooms were intimate, and since we’ve been spending so much time together on the buses, we were fully prepared to invade personal space!

Despite all of our traveling woes and mishaps, every member of our lively troupe of minstrels pitched in to make our stay in Madisonville, Kentucky, the best experience possible! Here’s dear little Buttercup taking her turn swabbing the deck:

And we gave Madisonville a show to remember. Check out Kate Bass owning the spotlight, the stage, and her effortless high B-flat.

I don’t know about any of you, but I certainly count myself lucky to have the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players in my life. Being a part of this world-class family has renewed my love for the stage in ways that I didn’t think were possible. Let’s all keep an eye out for a dynamite review from Madisonville, like the one we received from St. Louis (check it out here: http://kdhx.org/arts/theater-reviews/h-m-s-pinafore-this-saucy-ships-a-beauty).

Time for Seph Stanek to set sail. I now hand the blog-torch to one of our stalwart regular writers. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy every step of the rest of our journey as much as we will!

-Sailor Seph

Midwest Tour 2014 #12

Good morning, stalwart readership-mates!

My day to blog has happened to land, once again, on a day with “No Show” … However, let us not confuse this with a “Day Off”. When spending 9+ hours on the bus driving from one town to another, it is its own kind of “work” day.

But today has been another extra-challenging bus day. If you’ve been following so far, you know that Bus #1 broke down in Columbia, MO, and after a 6-ish hour wait, we got a temporary bus to take us to Salina, KS and then on to Hays, KS. In Hays, another bus (Bus #3, if you’re keeping count) picked us up, and this morning we left at 9AM on Bus #3.

I am writing this message now from Bus #4, which just picked us up in Topeka after a three hour wait. Like Bus #1, Bus #3 was also having mechanical problems related to acceleration, which (after already having been stranded roadside once on this trip) was too much risk for us to continue and “just hope”.

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Chris-Ian Sanchez, Amy Maude Helfer and Seph Stanek – who knew those Pinafore Semaphores would come in so handy!?

On the bright side, it is good to have the company’s Executive Director on tour with us to take up the reigns and handle things.

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David Wannen has it all under control.

However, bus #4 is only taking us an hour to Kansas City where Bus #5 awaits us.  Will #5 be our final bus? We cannot say. Since this Bus #4 has several leaks (it is raining now, by the way) we will be happy to move on to #5, but what we will be getting on, I won’t hazard a guess given recent luck.

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Waiting “patiently” in Topeka for Bus #4

PS - the wind in Kansas today was outrageous, and that is what we’ve been waiting in!!

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BUT, back to our regularly scheduled story! I started my morning happy, hopeful, and exercising, as many of us try to do regularly, but this is always dependent on what the hotel has to offer in the way of fitness facilities (and how late we’ve stayed up the night before, of course. ;) In some places, there is a fully stocked gym/exercise facility with multiple cardio machines, free weights and more.

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Elisabeth Cernadas gets her cardio on.

Other places have indoor pools and whirlpools. And then some have minimal or no fitness room at all … or as a recent stop showed, a room with 1 working treadmill, 2 broken machines, a broken clock, broken scale and a 20 year old bowflex.

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I believe this things is really more work than workout.

But regardless of what we have to work with, you may trust that we’ll find a way to stay active and ready for duty!

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That’s right, the Captain is ALWAYS prepared!!

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The Stalwart Morning Exercisers — me with orchestra member Steve and Amy Helfer

In the pic above, you see Steve, our trombone player for this trip, with Amy Helfer and me, and it occurs to me that I should keep my theme going of “off-stage shout-outs” and focus on the final sets of unsung Pinafore heroes.

Meet our Midwest Tour Orchestra!

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When the NYGASP cast performs in a location that requires significant travel distance from NY (in short, when we fly) we sometimes are specifically contracted to perform with a local symphony or orchestra (such as the recent Pirates bookings where we were with the Colorado Symphony in Denver, and with Opera Columbus accompanied by the Columbus Symphony). But with multi-city tours, we more often work with what is called a “pick up orchestra”. These bands of musicians are usually assembled by a local contractor who is located in the general vicinity of our first show on the tour.

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Connie Markwick, Concertmaster/1st Violin, Orchestra Sub-Contractor and reluctant model

Our “pit monsters” (my term, used affectionately) for this tour hail from the Detroit area, and are as lovely a group of people as they are musicians.

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Bobbie Adams (Violin), Irina Tikhonova (Cello), Denielle Buenger (Violin), Kay DeLuca (Violin), Catherine Nicolia (Violin)

The scores for the show were sent out ahead of time (in this case about 3 weeks) and distributed to the musicians so they have time to look over/practice/learn their music before we arrive.

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Mierca Cure (Viola), Phelan Young (Bassoon) and Mike McGillivray (Violin) look over their scores in this totally candid, not-at-all-staged picture ;)

But aside from that individual review, the only time the orchestra gets together and works with each other (and us) on this 2 and a quarter hour show, is a THREE-hour rehearsal at the first venue, in the pit with us on stage, on the DAY of the performance (whew!). Those hours are the concentrated amount of time that Maestro Bergeret and the orchestra have to become accustomed to each other’s styles and idiosyncrasies, go over the special parts of the score where tempos and dynamics change (sometimes drastically and suddenly), and the musicians learn how to interpret and execute 35+ years of penciled-in markings related to unique musical moments that happen on stage in our production. It is an amazing thing, how quickly everything is absorbed, polished and culled into a well-oiled musical machine. But then, that is why we are called “professionals”, right? :)

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Jeff Markwick (trumpet), Steve Molnar (trombone), Wendell Mullison (French horn), Gillian Markwick (bass)

Personally, I’ve spent a lot of time on the bus sitting near and getting to know Lisa (clarinet), Dennis (flute), Joni (oboe) and Kristen (percussionist). All four have toured with us previously in the Midwest and have become part of the NYGASP family.

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(clockwise from left) Kristen Tait (percussion), Dennis Carter (flute), Lisa Raschiatore (clarinet) and Joni Day (oboe)

As of this point, we’ve all been together a full 2 weeks, through performances and workouts, early morning bus calls and long bus rides, breaks and breakdowns and 2am arrivals. It is no wonder that we are all, ultimately, one big, happy, mildly-dysfunctional family — and whatever happens on tour, the good, the bad and the ugly — we are all in it together!!

(PS - for those still wondering, Bus #5 was actually very nice and we got back on course, arriving in Cape Girardeau shortly after midnight. However, the bad news is, there WILL be a Bus #6 tomorrow … and no more Larry, our favorite bus driver L  Tune in tomorrow for a special GUEST BLOGGER to find out how things go next!!

- David Auxier

Midwest Tour Day #11

Dear All,

We had a fantastic audience tonight,  and were delighted to meet the lovely parents of our Josephine, Kate Bass, aunt and uncle of Laura S’s, and some local school fans, who photographed some of us at Applebee’s! Angie, Kate and I shared a green room / dressing room, so fun camaraderie was had, and later, with the whole cast — once we were dressed — and the 1,100 seat Memorial Union is a gem.  What a joyous eve!

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Laundry Day!

Here are some one-liners from company members pre-travel a.m. bus departure, a (?3/23) few days ago (you will understand the question mark if you read Sarah’s blog yesterday):

Angie S.: “I’m good.”

Louis D: “It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood!”

Amy H: “What day is it?!”

James M: “How many more days?!”  

Matt W: “Happy Birthday, Gail!”

Chris-Ian S: “I need water!”

Alan H: “Five more shows to go!”

David M: “Are we there yet?” (in the parking lot at that point )

Amy H: “This is still fun.”

David A.:  ”Can’t believe I am here again, and still didn’t try the gooey butter cake!”*

* (this will be a clue to the city — for those doing on-line research!)

Here is my interview from Monday morning - in the hotel lobby w/ David Macaluso:

Vicky: Hi David! Since we’ll be waiting for the bus for a while, thanks for doing this now — and Congratulations again on being this year’s Asimov Award winner!  Where are you from originally?

David: Long Island!

Vicky: I’m guessing that you started performing at fairly young age, yes?

David: I did: I was Baby Bear, in a musical version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” in nursery school - so about age 4!

Vicky: Fantastic; sounds similar to my journey and love the casting!  Any other family members in the arts?

David: Yes: my mom was a music education teacher, played trumpet, and taught privately.

Vicky: Do you remember what piece you chose for your first NYGASP audition?

David: Yes: I asked Alan Hill for advice, and sang “Our Great Mikado…” and “Prithee, prithee Maiden”!

Vicky: What are your favorite G&S roles to perform?

David: Ko-Ko (The Mikado) and Grosvenor (Patience).

Vicky: What has been your favorite part of the tour thus far?

David: Seeing the full backdrop being unfurled next to the purple “H.M.S. Devany”….hadn’t seen that in NYC yet…

Vicky: Thanks for the credit / for dubbing that ship….got to see the Act II rope test for the first time in a while which was fun!  I love your double patter shiver in Act I by the way….!  So how are the Asimov preparations coming along?

David: Well; thanks!  Matt Wages, Dan Greenwood and I are creating blocking for “Cox and Box” on the bus!”      

Vicky: Well planned!

Midwest Tour 2014 Day #10

A sick tour bus. 40 musicians and actors. A bright, sunny morning in Springfield, Illinois.

An ordinary travel day gone wrong.

It was supposed to be just another 9 hour bus ride. You know… standard trip from Springfield, Illinois to Salina, Kansas. We were scheduled to leave our hotel at 9:30am this past Monday, 3/24, and arrive in Salina by 7:00pm or so with lunch and dinner breaks.

But our tour bus, unbeknownst to any of us, had plans of its own.

We knew our tour bus had been feeling a little… well, off, to say the least, when on Sunday evening we had to stop every 100 feet on our way to the theater to turn the bus off and restart. Our driver, Larry, determined that the transmission was too full of fluid and needed to be drained. Hence, the conclusion was that Larry would bring the bus to the mechanic early Monday morning before our 9 hour drive to take care of the problem. Larry brought the ailing beast out to the mechanic at 6am, only to find out that they weren’t open until 7am. Already it was turning into “one of those days.”

These things take time, and there were inevitable delays, so our 9:30 departure got pushed back to 10:30. Captain Galante was getting anxious about the day stretching out too long, but we made the best of our morning by getting our extra coffee, bathroom breaks and morning walks around the local, er… scenery.
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We finally boarded the bus around 10:30/11:00am and began the day. But the bus was not having it… and made it very clear about an hour into the trip (near Columbia, Missouri) when she began to blow smoke out of her side.

This turned into a quick pullover and emergency disembark. Larry raced to the side of the bus, yelling, “I know this is gonna make your blog!” while he dialed the fire department. We scrambled away from the bus at a safe distance and naturally, took pictures and video… for posterity and of course, the blog.
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David Macaluso and myself


The fire truck came to examine the bus and set up traffic cones along the highway behind the bus. It can now be said that NYGASP quite literally STOPPED TRAFFIC!
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James Mills, Matthew Wages and David Auxier


One incredible surprise was that a local neighbor saw the activity and came down to bring us blankets and offer us a warm garage to stay in while we waited. Good ol’ Middle America hospitality… nothin’ like it!
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At this point, it was around 2:00 in the afternoon.The fire truck tailed us to the nearest exit, which was the Midway Truck Stop. David Wannen and Michael Galante were putting their heads together with Larry, and contacting our tour bus company. It was determined that the bus was not in suitable condition to continue to travel that day. Thankfully Monday was a travel day only (no show) but we DID have hotel reservations in Salina, KS… and a show on Tuesday in Hays, KS! So our original Detroit bus company chartered another bus from the closest bus company they could find (based out of Kansas City, MO) to take us the rest of the distance to Salina, KS. But it would be hours before we would be on the road again.

Unsure of exactly when the new bus would arrive, we set up camp on the current bus with movies and set about making the best of our situation… which is a NYGASP staple on tour. “Ooh, check out the kitschy convenience store!” “Oh, cool… a gas station!” “Neat-O! ‘Larry’s Boots’? Heck YES! I needed new cowboy boots!” And so on, and so forth.
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Our boys at rest, at Midway Truck Stop

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Rebecca O’Sullivan acquiring souvenirs at the Midway Truck Stop

Many beers, beef jerky sticks, souvenirs from the truck stop, two movies, and a surprisingly delicious dinner at the truck stop diner later (with some of the friendliest people we’ve met so far) we got the rallying cry from our captains Galante and Wannen that the new bus was coming. At this point, it was 8:00pm, and we still had about 6 hours to go until we got to Salina. But in spite of frustrating travel circumstances, everyone remained calm, upbeat and humorous!

The temporary bus was fabulous and comfortable. We quickly settled in and got on the road with a movie. We all slept as it got later, and we disembarked at our hotel around 2:30am, quiet and ready for beds. Our original morning bus call for the following day was pushed back so that we could all get a full nights’ rest without interruption. Hurrah, hurrah, HOORAY.

It was a much longer day than expected, and put our power of positive thinking to the test. However, one of the great things about working with NYGASP is the personalities of everyone involved. From the performers, to stage management, to designers… when Al hires us, it’s as much about having a positive attitude and flexible nature as it is the appropriate vocal, dance and theatrical talent. That’s one of the reasons we all get along so well despite hiccups, and why we are like a family.
So this past Monday our family was put to the test. But we came through with a calm and positive outlook. And I’m so thankful to be part of a company that can roll with just about anything thrown our way, and come out laughing on the other side!
On that note: Check back Monday for even more drama on the high seas! (Or, I-470 in Kansas… The continued drama, and those prairie winds, will blow you away…)
Til we meet again,
Sarah / “Cousin Ruth”
Midwest Tour Day #9

ETA Pinafore, or Sailor Shenanigans

Hello again, our virtual groupies! Today, the Pinafore is docked in Springfield, IL — birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, and location of the Lincoln Museum and Lincoln Presidential Library.

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And based on the posters in the theater stairwell, Pinafore played here in 1990 with Central Illinois Light Opera (I wonder if that was the LAST time they had Pinafore here?! Seems impossible!)

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For today’s posting, I thought we would continue our Captain’s VIP backstage tour with a little “Dance-Captain’s View” of what it takes for the cast to get the show up at each venue on the road.

If we are lucky, and all travel goes as planned, cast and orchestra will generally arrive in town in time to get checked in and have an hour or so of “down time” before departure for the theater. This is especially appreciated after a 6 hour bus ride, frequently involving many naps …

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… and often a movie which hopefully entertains the majority (bear in mind, there are over 40 individuals on this bus, each with his/her own tastes and opinions - so pleasing everyone is an exercise in utter futility … something which Capt. Galante has learned well over the years) … I will note, I do think that The Princess Bride (purchased by yours truly at the Grand Rapids Target) was an unqualified success. “Inconceivable!”

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Watching a Judy Garland retrospective that Michael Galante picked up at the Judy Garland museum in Grand Rapids. I mean, who doesn’t like Judy??!!

But upon arriving, after all this sitting and sleeping on a bus, it is surprising just how strong the desire is to LIE DOWN AND TAKE A NAP! Apparently it is quite exhausting sitting all day, and having no energy to stand at this point, and NO desire to SIT any longer, the only remaining option is to lie down. Happily, most of our hotels on this trip have had wonderfully comfortable dreamy beds!

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A captain’s job is hard work!!

Once we arrive at the theater, the cast and instrumentalist spread out and find their respective places for the evening, and now MY job begins. As Dance Captain I am, of course, responsible for teaching, rehearsing and cleaning the choreography and other musical staging. BUT ON TOUR, my more important job is evaluating each stage space and running the spacing rehearsal at each theater.

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With my “Dance Captain Hat” on, surveying the space at the Touhill Center in St. Louis, MO.

Every stage is different, and the various elements of our set (deck platform and poop deck, mast, rope ladder, etc) will land in different locations, from left to right and from front to back. On our first performance in Green Bay, the stage was enormous and the depth so great I was spreading everyone out as much as possible to fill the stage. The following night in St. Cloud, we had barely 6 feet in front of the deck platform and we had to shift a lot of placement farther to the right of the stage. Even when we settle into more standard size stages with relatively equal spacing, we still need to walk through positions, tweak certain lineups, and generally find something that needs clarification.

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Gaily Tripping, from side stage, on a deep stage

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The same moment in Gaily Tripping on a MUCH more shallow stage.

In case you were wondering, each cast member finds and mentally marks each of their positions in reference to the “Numbers Tape”, which we travel with and secure at the front of the stage. It can be a challenge learning a new number every night for every scene, but it is just part of the job.

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"Am I on 6 or 8 tonight???"

During this half hour, we also generally do some sound check, with Al checking musical moments with the orchestra and singers, and I generally give a few notes related to movement or staging cleanup. It can be an intense 30 minutes with all of the things to get through, Al and I both taking the attention of the cast at various times, and sometimes both of us speaking to different groups or individuals simultaneously. However, the cast are true pros and spend that half hour focused and finely tuned, allowing every minute to be used as efficiently as possible.

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As things generally work out, dinner is after spacing, which is usually provided backstage. This is our social time together before the show, when the general conversation revolves around anything and everything EXCEPT the show we are about to do.

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Our dinners have been exceptionally good on this trip! And our handful of vegan cast members have been happily surprised at the care taken by each location to provide vegan options that have been (I’m told) quite delicious. Kudos presenters!

Our dinner break always officially ends at “half hour” before the show, and the making-up, dressing-up and otherwise transforming into Victorian men and women ensues!  We get a half-hour, 15 minute and 5 minute warning call from our stage manager …

Stage Manager Dave Sigafoose makes the calls

… and then PLACES is called, and everyone gets ready for the curtain to go up! This is when the real backstage shenanigans start!

image"Mr & Mrs Smith?"- Cameron Smith and Angela Christine Smith share a laugh on deck before curtain up.

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Captain Selfie (you may think that is my end-of-show sailor alter-ego on my shoulder, but it is really Boatswain Bill Bobstay, aka David Wannen)

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  This one is a Sephie – Seph Stanek with our Josephine, Kate Bass

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Busted!! Josephine (Kate Bass) catches Ralph and Buttercup in a backstage embrace!!

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"Is intermission over yet?" – Kate Bass, David Auxier (ME), Steven Quint and Vicky Devany await the Entr’acte music for start of Act II

See below this post for a special video,

"The Sons-of-the-Brine Ballet, The Carpenter’s Can-Can or Sailor Shenanigans!!"

And after all of this madness, we have one good lookin’, nicely spaced show!!

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Ain’t that a nicely spaced crew!?!?

Thanks for tuning in again, my excellent crew! Until next time, remember, Work like a Captain, but party like a PIRATE!!

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Special thanks to Amy Maude Helfer and Sarah Caldwell Smith for this bafflingly-perfect gift early on this tour!! Almost as if it were custom-made for me (nope – they actually found this pre-made!!)

- David Auxier, aka Dance Captain Corcoran

The Sons-of-the-Brine Ballet, The Carpenter’s Can-Can or Sailor Shenanigans!!

Dan Greenwood, James Mills, Matt Wages and David Macaluso

Midwest Tour Day #8

Dear All,

"Ahooey there!" to borrow from dear Monsieur Quint….Well here we are in lovely St. Louis. MO…We had a blast at the always wonderful Touhill Center: nice dressing rooms, fun audience,..great dinner (with vegetables, etc. - YEA!) — and we are staying at the Drury Inn & Suites, which has laundry room, exercise room (YEA!), etc. & we had a good, sunny driving day…saw some gorgeous clouds from the bus window….we watched "Pitch Perfect" on the bus, after lunch, and I’m a Rebel Wilson fan, plus had other fun performances and wacky fun!  This spoof probably meant a lot: so many of us began as choral singers…& a cappella is amazing training….:Now: 12:30 a.m. - so in a few minutes, I must go hunting to see if any of our troupe are still up….Last night, had a fun visit with David Wannen’s parents at the hotel after the performance ….Tomorrow we journey forth to Springfield, IL. 

Here is my post-lunch, bus interview — with the wonderful Cameron Smith (one of our fantastic, two R. Rackstraw’s - Dan Greenwood being the other: we are twice blessed)!

Vicky: You’re from the tri-state area, right, Cameron?

Cameron: Yes - Pleasantville, NY.  I now live in northern NJ with my wife and two daughters.

Vicky:  What was your first role with NYGASP?

Cameron: Edwin, the defendant, in Trial by Jury.

Vicky: I remember: you were great in that!  Any other family members in the arts?

Cameron: Yes: my daughter, Isabel (age 11), loves to sing — and Audrey (age 9) is starting drama…. 

Vicky: How did you begin working for NYGASP?

Cameron: Al Bergeret came to see a production of Trial by Jury that I did with Louis Dall’Ava, Lance Olds, et. al. - with LOCOS (Light Opera Company of Salisbury).

Vicky: You did G&S prior to that as well, yes?

Cameron: I covered Nanki-Poo in The Mikado for Lake George Opera — and played the role for Light Opera of NJ, with former NYGASP’ers, Bill and Lauran Corson.

Vicky: What has been your favorite part of the tour thus far?

Cameron: Seeing places that I’ve never seen before…

Vicky: I know that you sing opera as well; what is one of your favorite operatic roles to perform?

Cameron: Alfredo in La Traviata.

Vicky: Thanks, Cameron!  Enjoy the rest of your ride!

Midwest Tour Day #7

Ahoy from the H.M.S. Pinafore… an affiliation of Turner Bus Company from Detroit, Michigan. :)

Many back-to-back travel days can make the bus feel like our home away from home on tour. Our trusty and “galante” bus captain Michael Galante is at the helm of ship, coordinating our daily route, finding lunch and rest stops in unfamiliar areas (not an easy feat on the more obscure country drives), taking meticulous and timely attendance, and providing us with movie entertainment along the way. He does a lot with humor and good grace! Today, we watched episodes of the Carol Burnett show… I had never seen them before and I found them hilarious! Larry, our bus driver, is the veritable first mate, always upbeat, kind and incredibly generous in making our journey comfortable. We are lucky to have such an awesome bus driver since we are riding the bus so much!

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Larry and myself!


This morning, we left the sunny metropolis of Madison, WI armed with Starbucks, bags of cheese, and fond memories of excellent local beer and cheese curds the night prior. What was supposed to be an easy 3-hour drive to Palos Hills, IL (just outside Chicago) turned into an all-day affair due to clogged roads full of construction and unforeseen traffic. Thank goodness for Dinah Shore’s rendition of “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” on the Carol Burnett Show.

Even with the terrible traffic, we were able to get to the hotel before going to the theater to check in and drop off our bags. On the road, the small break we get at the hotel between the bus and the theater is very important… many thanks to Captain Michael and First Mate Larry for making that possible today!

After catching our breath at the hotel, we checked into the theater at the Moraine Valley Community College and met Tommy Hensel, managing director of the Fine and Performing Arts Center, who welcomed us with open arms and a delicious dinner. (Pictured below with David Auxier.) Their facilities were gorgeous and we had a packed house!
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Among the audience members was Josephine (“Jo”) Voight, none other than the sister of Al Bergeret himself! We got to spend time with her and her husband during our dinner break, and they were so fun to chat with. (We even learned dear Albert’s childhood nicknames… but I’m afraid that information cannot be divulged for free…)

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Another treat in the audience were the parents of NYGASP soprano Lauren Frankovich! Palos Hills, IL is Lauren’s hometown, so even though Lauren is not traveling on this tour, her parents came out to support us and even provided us with a goodie bag for the bus! We were touched by their kind (and delicious) gesture… mmmm, gourmet pizzelles! (It’s not Chicago deep-dish pizza, but it sure travels easier.)
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Well, time to settle into the most comfortable beds we’ve encountered on tour so far. (Thanks, Springhill Suites by Marriott!) I’m sure we’ll be rested for our journey to St. Louis, Missouri tomorrow morning. “Let’s give three cheers, I’ll lead the way! Hurrah, hurrah, HOORAY!”

Fondly,
Sarah Hutchison

Midwest Tour Day #6

"A (Dressing) Room with a View", or "Behind the Velvet Curtain"

Happy 1st Day of Spring from sunny, balmy Michigan!!

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View from The Captain’s hotel room in Houghton, MI

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Snow drifts halfway up the window, 1st floor of our hotel in Houghton, MI – on first day of Spring 2014

Good Day, loyal followers - our “online roadies”. For today’s posting, having just completed a fantastic performance in the beautiful Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin before a sharp and extremely responsive audience (with whom we also had a delightful and thoughtful talkback after the performance), I thought you might enjoy a little peek at what goes on behind the scenes as we move from theater to theater. As you all know, from curtain up to curtain down, our cast and crew work their Thesbianical tails off to put on the best show we possibly can for our audience. BUT, the work that happens between curtain down in one town and curtain up in the next is an under-appreciated story of blood, sweat and tears all its own! (Sometimes that is a little too literal - yesterday our lighting designer and wardrobe mistress and had a spin-out scare on the icy highway in a rental car with bald tires! (“They were as bald as Al’s head!” according to Annette.) But thank Thespis, everyone was fine. No blood, just some sweat & tears. It’s a dangerous trade sometimes, this business of show!)

So, our company is traveling with a tech crew of 3 individuals (or more like 7 if you count Al, since he usually does the work of about FOUR people!)

Besides Maestro/Foreman Bergeret, we have Lighting Designer Ben Weill, Stage Manager Dave Sigafoose and Prop/Wardrobe Mistress Annette Dieli.

Each morning, Annette, Ben, Dave and Al have to get up bright and early and leave about two hours before the cast and orchestra bus. Since many of our bus calls are 8:30am (or even 7:30am yesterday), you can imagine how early they are getting up and starting on the road.

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Ben Weill and Annette Dieli ready to leave, when I came down to exercise @7am this morning.

They must leave earlier than the rest of us because Dave and Al drive the Ryder truck full of the sets, costumes and props, and Ben and Annette drive a rental car. They all need to arrive well before us, in time to get the set/stage/lights/props ready by the time the rest of us come in for spacing and sound check, and the costumes ready and in place before we start making up and getting dressed. And keep in mind, if any weather or other traffic related issues come up, the whole schedule can be thrown out of whack (not a fun situation when we have a curtain that has to go up on time!)

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The infamous “Ryder Truck” that transports the deck of the HMS Pinafore and everything we wear and use all around the Midwest.

When our gallant crew arrive at each theater, they are met by a local crew - sometimes local workers, volunteers, union crew members (in larger cities), and frequently, college students. We play some beautiful historic old theaters, some of which have been restored to glory through elaborate renovations. But additionally, many of the theaters in which we perform are on college campuses or even, occasionally, high schools. Don’t let that fool you, though! These are frequently some of the most modern, well-equipped facilities. We aren’t necessarily being brought in BY the school, and we aren’t performing primarily for students. Frequently, the local arts council/performance presenters raise the money from the community and various grants, and they use the campus theater to present touring productions like us. In all cases, we are booked as part of their season for the audience in their community and surrounding areas.

RELATED NOTE: At our Grand Rapids performance two days ago, we met couples who lived 65-75 miles away, as well as one family who were driving a full 200 MILE ROUND TRIP just to see our show. If I may QUOTE THEM: "It was worth it!" Nice!

So, upon arrival, our crew and the local crew start loading in everything from the truck. Gondolas and crates and trunks (oh my!). Boxes and containers holding everything that it takes to transform the naked stage into the deck of the HMS Pinafore.

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And slowly, things begin to transform…

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Ben spends this time working with the lighting crew focusing lighting instruments and programming the light board with all of the cues for the show (fyi, there are a total of 75 lighting cues for HMS Pinafore.)

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Lighting tends to be the piece of the puzzle that is SO under-appreciated, the audience has no idea how much it is impacting their enjoyment of the show. Ben brings his formidable technical skills, along with an innate sense of artistry, and every day we see how he takes the structure of our lighting design and adds his own personal touches, constantly tweaking here and there in preparation AND in mid-performance, to further enhance and elevate the effect of the performance for the viewer.

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It is also worth noting that he brings a wonderful positive energy that keeps the experience of working and preparing pleasant and professional, and as such, that makes me look forward to the day we work on Ruddigore together! (The ghost scene is going to be AWESOME!)

Back in the winding corridors of the dressing room area, Annette (aka, Annetti Spaghetti) Dieli toils tirelessly with the local wardrobe crew to unpack, launder, steam/iron, and distribute the hundreds of costume pieces to the proper dressing rooms.

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Her FIRST order of business upon arrival is to survey the available rooms/areas and make assignments as she thinks best regarding where each of the 24 cast members will make up and dress. Generally the theater will have anywhere from one to four small dressing rooms, usually assigned to some of the leading/principal performers, and two large dressing rooms assigned to the rest of the men and women of the cast. But every place is different. Sometimes we all are in two large dressing rooms, sometimes we are all split up amongst half a dozen rooms of varying sizes, and sometimes we are in co-ed makeup rooms with separate changing areas. Annette is frequently challenged to be very creative as she works to make sure there is a proper setup for each member of the cast to have their own station with enough space, light and mirror to successfully get ready for the performance in 30 minutes.

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Annette is also responsible for all of the props of the show, assuring they have been unpacked and set in their proper place on each side of the stage for the cast to find. With the sheer number of individual pieces and minutia related to BOTH of her TWO jobs, it is not surprising that a T-shirt or a hat will be put at the wrong station, or two sailor costumes will get their name tags switched after steaming, and it is not uncommon to hear shouts of "SPAGHETTIIII!!" through the backstage corridors as cast members discover they are missing a piece or need something repaired. We give that woman a TON of grief — but happily, that spunky redhead dish of pasta can serve it right back at us.  Good natured ribbing is at the heart of any family, and if NYGASP is not one big, close-knit (semi-dysfunctional ;) family, then I don’t know WHAT to call it!

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And sometimes, when there happens to be a piano around, Annette sits down and plays the Where’s My Costume Blues.

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There is one more “member of the crew” of the under-appreciated variety on this trip, who Cousin Hebe actually called out briefly in her last post. Keeping the cast and orchestra on time, making bus calls, finding lunch stops (no small task on some of these long travel days through uncharted waters), checking into hotels, confirming arrivals and meals, and generally keeping this unruly group in line falls to Michael Galante (aka, Bus Captain of the Pinafore).

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This picture caught Michael mid-call to the Madison Best Western to prepare them for our arrival, confirm that our rooms would be ready, and make sure they could have our keys ready for distribution.

All of this unseen work by these unglorified individuals is the what makes it possible for us to go out there and put on the show you see every time. Without them, there is no Pinafore, no Victorian England, no Sun and Moon (and without Michael, no cast or musicians there in the first place).

Two and a half hours later, after the show is over (Pinafore is the shortest of the Big 3 touring shows – if this were Mikado, it would be 3 hours), while Michael gets the cast and orchestra back to the hotel, Al, Dave, and the stage crew break down the set, Ben shuts down all of the lights, and Annette and her crew gather and pack up costumes and props, gather laundry, do the prop dishes, and everything goes back into the truck to start the whole process over again the next morning! They are the last to get back to the hotel at night (usually close to midnight) and the first to leave in the morning.

And so this blog post is dedicated to them — the REAL crew of the Pinafore!

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Who’s in charge here, anyway?  Annette, Ben, Dave and Al in their most natural pose ;)

Tune in tomorrow for more from Cousin Ruth as we set sail for Palos Hills, IL.

  — David Auxier, Dance Captain Corcoran

Midwest Tour 2014 Day #5

Dear Readers,

Thanks again for following our journey!  I write to you at 12:13 a.m., a few feet away from the fireplace!! & lobby, at the lovely Country Inn & Suites in Houghton, MI.  We had a substantial ride today (yet got lucky with the snow - perhaps only ?16 minutes delay, per my lovely bus partner, Mike, violinist); we watched “Princess Bride” in the afternoon on the bus, which was fun.  I want to give a shout out to our amazing Bus Captain, Michael Galante, by the way….We played Rozsa Center in Houghton: a lovely venue with a lot of purple — (so you know that Hebe and I loved that)  — the theater seats 1,067, from what the crew kindly told me, and national tours also play there; this evening  we were delighted to receive a standing ovation.  The snow is beautiful outside, and skiing is sounding very fun at the moment…(don’t worry - I’m not going anywhere - except for the bus in the morning - smile).  Everyone is in good spirits - I hear Albert, and some of the troupe, entering the lobby as I type…..people are winding down (I think…? smile….) and I am about to do the same..seriously.  Hug to all of you in NYC and around the country!  You are all in our thoughts! 

Yours,

Vicky D.

Here is my brief, post-performance interview, with the lovely Monique Pelletier:

Vicky: You are from a fun part of the country - right, Monique?

Monique: Yes: I was raised in Alaska, and am originally from Fort Yukon, a village of 600 people, 8 miles above the Arctic Circle; my family moved to Fairbanks, Alaska when I was in the 5th grade.

Vicky: That’s fantastic!  Did you perform there?

Monique: Yes, I started with musical theater in junior high school, playing Elizabeth in “Paint Your Wagon” — and my first G&S role was Tessa in “The Gondoliers” with Fairbanks Light Opera Theatre.

Vicky: Do you have other family members in the arts?  I’m guessing “yes”!….

Monique: My brother is a professional trombonist, living in Hong Kong, and his wife is a violist, with the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

Vicky: Wow! What is your favorite G&S operetta?

Monique: “The Yeomen of the Guard”.

Vicky: Great choice (and one of mine)  — do you remember what you sang for your first NYGASP audition by chance?

Monique: I do - it was “Were I Thy Bride”!

Vicky: What has been your favorite part of the tour so far?

Monique: Seeing different parts of the country, enjoying the show, the snow, and our colleagues!

Vicky: I agree:  What is one of your favorite parts of working with NYGASP?

Monique: The camaraderie: some of my closest friends are from the company, and we truly are a family.

Vicky: Also agreed; thanks, Monique!

Midwest Tour 2014 Day #4

Hello again, lovely readers! Cousin Ruth reporting for duty after Cousin Hebe and Captain Corcoran’s recounting of the last several days. We have had a bit of time off in between shows, but don’t worry… we’ve been making the most of it!

Monday afternoon we left St. Cloud and arrived in Grand Rapids, MN. Since it was St. Patrick’s Day (and we had the evening off) a group of us hit the local Ground Round in our best greenery, to ring in the holiday with a pint and some grub. After dinner our tour bus driver, Larry, was gracious enough to take some of us over to the local bowling alley, Thunder Lanes! (I honestly can’t remember the last time I went bowling…) We assembled into teams and took over 4 lanes for several hours, and it was so much fun. Turns out NYGASP may have a bowling league in its future… there are some VERY talented bowlers in our group! One of our top players is none other than Yum Yum/Mabel herself, Sarah Caldwell Smith! She was closely followed by Pitti Sing/Phoebe, Amy Maude Helfer. Who knew we had such talent in the ranks?! STRRRRRIKE!

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Bowlers Laura Sudduth, Lance Olds, and Chris-Ian Sanchez

After turning in our rental shoes…  we were upgraded the next day to RUBY SLIPPERS! Our hotel was conveniently located across the street from the birthplace of Judy Garland, which is now a commemorative museum and children’s discovery center. They were actually closed for renovation the day we were in town, but they graciously opened their doors just for us for one hour of musical theater heaven.

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We were given a tour of the museum, saw memorabilia from The Wizard of Oz (including a replica pair of ruby slippers and Judy’s screen test dress) and got to walk around the house she was born in and lived until the family moved to California. Did you know that Judy (at the time, “Baby” Frances Gumm) began performing at age TWO?? At age 13, she signed with MGM and at age 16, she starred in The Wizard of Oz! What a career… and, we got to stand on the very stairs where she and her two older sisters rehearsed their routines for their family!

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We were so impressed by the kindness and enthusiasm of the staff, and we gave the gift shop quite a bit of business. (They are now completely sold out of Judy Garland magnets.) To top it all off, two of the museum staff members came to our performance that night! (And two more G&S fans are born…)

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Myself and fellow blogger David Auxier, with The Wicked Witch of the… Midwest?

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Alan Hill, David Auxier, James Mills and myself


Our performance in Grand Rapids went beautifully. Excellent performances all around! It felt so wonderful to have a couple of relaxing nights, again, in one city. This is often a rarity on tour, and this coming week has us playing in a different city every night, which means we are traveling by bus during the day. Good thing we took advantage of the time off near the beginning of the trip!

Stay tuned for Cousin Hebe’s account of our next stop on the H.M.S Pinafore: Houghton, Michigan!

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The ladies of NYGASP backstage… showing their best side

- Sarah Hutchison

Midwest Tour 2014 Day # 3 Part 2

So, fast forward to the next morning and NYGASP HAS A DAY OFF IN ST. CLOUD!

It is normal in our week long+ tours for a day off to happen midway through the tour, but how perfect it was to happen so early in our tour in the town where we had family! Angie’s parents, Rev. Geary and Rev. Carol, run a non-denominational ministry in St. Cloud called Place of Hope, with a focused outreach for the struggling and homeless.

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Revs. Geary & Carol Smith

The Pastors Smith put together an entire day’s schedule of possible activity and transportation around town.

For some of us, the day started attending the church service at Place of Hope, where we got a special peek at Angie singing and playing tambourine, and even singing a special duet with her mother (who has an excellent voice, by the way, now we know where she gets it!)

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Madeleine (Angie’s niece), Angela Christine Smith, me, Rebecca O’Sullivan and Katherine (violinist)

And yes, of course, Pastor Carol insisted that the group of us get up and sing something G&S for the congregation. Turns out, Hail Poetry even sounds good with only three parts! :)

After service, MANY more cast and orchestra members were picked up by the church bus and brought to the church for a free chili meal. The Smith’s ministry provides 3 free meals per day, 365 days per year to individuals and families in need — over 7,000 meals per month! And if the meal we had was any indication, it is GOOD food they are providing!

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That is Rev. Carol in her Pirates t-shirt

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Rebecca O’Sullivan, Amy Helfer, David Macaluso, Dan Greenwood, Sarah Caldwell Smith and ME

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Chris-Ian Sanchez, Seph Stanek, Louie Dall’Ava, David Wannen, Matt Wages and James Mills

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Ben Weill, Cameron Smith, Alan Hill and Michael Galante

After lunch, with our bellies full, we were treated to a short tour of their facilities, which includes emergency shelter, as well as short- and long-term apartments for individuals and families, plus a housing facility dedicated specifically to veteran’s in need. The good work done by this family is impressive indeed!

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The tunnel connecting the church building to the veteran’s housing building

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We then loaded into the bus and were driven to the part we ALL were looking forward to … The Place of Hope Thrift Store!! I believe I am right in saying that there is not one here who does not LOVE hunting for thrift shop treasure anywhere we go!! (NOT ONE!)

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Grosvenor, anyone?

The rest of the afternoon, the church bus shuttled our folks between the thrift store, the hotel, and Crossroads Mall — had to get our midwest necessity-shopping done! (Seriously, I spent WAY too much money!) But WHAT A BLESSING it was to have this shuttle service provided by Angie’s folks.

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Our fearless maestro, Albert Bergeret

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But that’s not all we do on our days off!  Some just rested (there’s nothing like a good day vegging out in front of hotel cable), while others exercised - whether in the hotel Fitness Room, the indoor pool, youtube yoga, OR if you are Cameron Smith and David Wannen, putting on SHORTS and jogging outside alongside the frozen Mississippi River. 

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For dinner, aside from the hotel’s Green Mill restaurant, groups went for Thai food at Sawatdee.

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James Mills and Matt Wages

And Mexican Village!

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David Macaluso, Chris-Ian Sanchez, Seph Stanek and Laura Sudduth.  (Those disembodied hands are me and wardrobe/prop-mistress Annette Dieli)

And the night was capped off with some folks at the hotel playing what was described as an epic game of Balderdash

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?Epic? Ben, Louis, Lance Olds, Amy Helfer and Sarah Smith

… while others went to the local dance club and brought the Pinafore Semaphore choreography to a whole new level! (For those wondering, that is a letter P … with attitude.)

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Chris-Ian Couture, Matthew Aviance, James LaPerla, Laura LaBeija, Seph Extravaganza and ALAN from the House of HILL!!

(The choreographer in me is starting to see a whole new Catlike Tread encore — I need to talk to Ben about lighting design possibilities ;)

So that, in a very big nutshell, was our day off in St. Cloud — from Sunday Morning Worship to Saturday Night Fever (or “Semaphore Night Fever”?)

And now, off to Grand Rapids!!

- David Auxier, aka Dance Captain Corcoran

Midwest Tour 2014 Day #3 Part 1

Hello Dear Readers - our Honorary Tour Colleagues - our Virtual Roommates! Today’s blog post comes to you from the Captain’s Quarters.

When Cousin Hebe left off yesterday, we had just finished our St. Cloud Pinafore performance to a packed and incredibly responsive and enthusiastic crowd of Minnesotans at the Paramount Theater.

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(James Mills & Matt Wages)

As Vicky mentioned, this is Buttercup’s home town (Angela Christine Smith), and she is something of a local celebrity returning home (see http://www.saukherald.com/articles/2014/03/14/sauk-centre-grad-performing-paramount-theatre-Saturday .

We decided to give Angie the final bow in the show for this performance, and when she came out on stage at the end of curtain call, the audience members, who were already applauding wildly, literally LEAPT to their feet en masse with a mighty roar. It was a very exciting and moving moment for us all.

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(Buttercup herself)

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Angie with her family and fans

There was a short meet & greet afterward, and the story I must share with you was that of this little man named Duane.

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Me and Duane

Duane’s first comment to his mother when Buttercup entered the stage was “why is Pastor Carol on stage in a wig”? (Angie and her mother do look a lot alike). Eventually he started to understand and when Buttercup was mentioned on stage he told his mom “that’s Angie they’re talking about!” When Act II began, he asked his mom “Did they open up the theater to show the moon??” (Kudos lighting designer Ben Weill.)

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Me, Kate Bass and Steve Quint rehearsing the Bell Trio

She said he was getting more and more excited during the show, dancing around in his seat, and at one point when the whole cast was singing in full voice he shook and asked his mom “Did you feel that?!!” Yes Duane, I know what you mean, I feel it too, every time :)

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO, “A Day Off in St. Cloud!”

- David Auxier, aka Dance Captain Corcoran