Hi from somewhere in between Oklahoma and Fort Smith, Arkansas! We’ve been ping-ponging all around the south/ mid-west/ southern Midwest for the past week that I am forgetting where I woke up, where I am headed, what day it is etc. But, what the last week has lacked in sleep, sanity and rest stops with edible food, the weather we’ve experienced has made up for it. On February 1st, I walked outside of our hotel in (Texas?) Texas, with a short sleeved shirt, no coat, a big smile on my face, and most definitely no boots. Our week of weather heaven started last Tuesday in Niceville, Florida and has been going strong since. (Addendum: I wrote this before we arrived in Kansas the next day, where it is 29 degrees. NO!)
For those of you wondering (dad), yes, there were many things that made Niceville nice. First, it is the home of super-fan Steve Owen, who saw the show and provided a gigantic basket of snacks for the cast. I scouted out a few from the heap that tasted like my childhood, and oh yes, I did have another nutter butter peanut butter sandwich cookie. Thank you, Steve!
Grounding moments were the theme of our 18- hour stay in Florida. A most memorable moment occurred at half hour of our performance. When Ishma'el saw me doing barre beside the cage as usual, he approached me and said, “Darling, you know there is a studio down the hallway with barres and mirrors and a sound system?” He escorted me there. Upon entering the studio, seeing the barres, the open space and mirrors, I immediately started crying. I always feel a sense of solace wash over me when I walk into a studio, but this was different. Life on the road has been so exciting and challenging that I don’t think I realized how long it had been since I was in a setting that felt like home. The rush of emotion was both fascinating and centering. How lucky I feel to have a passion/career so connected to my soul that I can call a studio home. I continued my teary-eyed barre to the sweet sounds of Solange through the speakers, and then went back at intermission for adagio, an across the floor and some allegro. I regretted that decision during the middle of Act 2, but it felt necessary in the moment. Since then, a few of our subsequent venues have been equipped with studios. I got some of my fellow Pips to join me at the barre in Kansas. 💖
My adventurous roomie, Emilia, usually takes the first ten minutes of arriving at a destination to explore the hotel, locate the fitness center and the surrounding areas. She spotted a nature walk right next to our hotel that I ended up jogging the next morning. It was so peaceful to wake up to the wildlife, and the sunlight on my skin soothed me to my core. Needless to say, I waited until the last possible second to get on the bus that morning.
One Night Only
We are currently in the midst of a 9 day streak of one-nighters. On these days, our heroic crew travels overnight and gets there anywhere between 5AM-7AM to start load-in and we arrive at 5:30PM for a 7:30PM show after traveling through the morning and afternoon. At each venue, we make spacing adjustments and have sound check. The amount of space we have on and backstage each night varies considerably, requiring us to do some math while we are performing and to be alert backstage at all times. Sometimes the acros are told when we get to the venue that certain aerial elements are cut from the show that night due to less rigging availability/safety. There are alternate plans for everything and we are getting savvier with adjusting to new spaces by the day.
Strata-gems and Stra-Denny’s
One of the great students in Lexington asked me about eating on the road. At the time, we hadn’t experienced as many consecutive one-nighters in a row and options weren’t as limited. It’s gotten much harder in the past week, as we are driving about 5-7 hours a day. My fellow health nuts and I have had some difficulty finding food that we feel good about eating at our rest stops, but we are getting creative as we go along our way. Instead of fast food, a few of us have started using our time at rest stops to forage grocery stores/walmart markets for picnic items. A few of our staples include dole salad kits (which we eat right out of the bag), avocados (they are less than $1 in the Midwest), pita bread, coconut water, grapes, Lara and Luna bars and Hormel No Bean Chili. We also like to stock up on our new favorite dinner item: Birdseye Steamfresh Protein Veggie Packs. Word of this delectable and affordable product has spread like wildfire and a few of us are now returning straight to our hotel microwaves after the show to steam our packs. (Of course, I was kidding about the Hormel.)
Reading has always had a Denny’s. Actually, I think the poor guy closed and is now a Hibachi bar. Anyway, I don’t think I’d ever been to a dear Den, but in the past week, I've been there twice for their Fit Fare Veggie Skillet. After our two-show, travel day + put-in rehearsal for the evening performance understudies/swings, my green-eating gal pal Cassie and I were HANGRY. I begrudgingly marched straight to the Denny’s next door (the only restaurant open), plopped myself in a booth and alerted Cass. Little did we know, a feast of sizzling egg whites, spinach, roasted potatoes and veggies awaited us. Our hearts soared and we smiled; swallowing the fare we sprinkled with pepper and tears of joy. A few who followed suit made fun of the pure happiness the meal brought us. We didn’t care. Heaven is a place on earth, and its name is Denny. Since then we've continued Pip-nicking at rest stops around the Midwest--scouting for our staples and the inimitable skillet.
Up Next: A very Kansas Super Bowl Sunday and a WHOLE WEEK in one place: Oklahoma City, OK!
News: Our "sizzle reel" has been published! Check it Out!
TTFN, must rest up before this evening's battle!