Kendal Hartse, currently playing Texas on the national tour of Cabaret, joins us for the first of a three-part series of blog posts about life on the road:
"Hello from the road! Kendal Hartse here, coming to you from Seattle, WA! I'm currently playing Texas and understudying Sally Bowles and Fr. Kost in the Roundabout Theatre production of Cabaret on tour. I've been with the show since January and am loving life on the road."
"My only previous tour experience was the non-union bus and truck tour of CATS in 2007, and I have to say I've never appreciated Actors' Equity more in my life than when I compare the two experiences. After doing split weeks and one-night engagements with CATS, where we would sometimes bus directly to the theatre and dance for 2.5 hours after sitting for 6... this contract is a welcome change. I am so grateful for the union protections we have when it comes to travel and the length of a stay in any given city - and so is my body!"
"Touring in any show is not without it's challenges. When you're performing a show on Broadway, you have the bonus of going to sleep and waking up in your own bed, in your own apartment, on your own schedule. You're home. On the road, you have travel call every Monday morning (every other, if you're lucky), you're in a new bed, a new hotel, and at a new theatre every week. There's no decorating a permanent spot in the dressing room when you have to pack it all up and load out on Sunday nights. Even though union tours can't travel and perform on the same day, traveling is still hard on the body. I've learned to stretch before/after getting on a bus or a plane and make sure to get physical therapy and massage often to work out the travel day kinks. While on the road, there's also the added bonus of acclimating to new weather and new allergens each week (indoors and out). One thing that I've been loving when in a dusty room or a hotel with allergens is running an essential oil diffuser. I can purify the air, do my sinuses a favor, and make my room smell delicious (ask my cast mates, my hotel room always smells divine). Little things like that help your health and also help you feel at home and comfortable when you're always somewhere new. A favorite pillow, blanket, candle, picture - these little touches make a big difference and can make your room feel a little more homey and a little less lonely. Capturing the sense of “home” on the road can be a challenge."
"I feel very lucky that the cast of Cabaret is full of wonderful people who feel like family. When you're in NYC, you really only have to see your cast at work. On the road, you work and live with the same people. This can be stressful, even when you all love and respect each other. Learning when to take time to be alone, to have your own space, is a lifesaver. Then you can show up at the theatre (or the bar!) refreshed and ready to be part of the team again. One of the great joys of this contract has been the friendships I'm making. Cabaret is full of people with a unique skill set (We sing! We dance! We act! We play a million instruments!) and having that in common bonded us all very quickly. I've rarely felt as supported by a company as I do with this cast, due to the vulnerability of doing such highly specialized and challenging work. We all recognize how difficult our job is and are doubly encouraging of one another. I've had to step so far out of my comfort zone during this contract (hello, learning the play the accordion in front of people), but have never felt as though anyone around me is giving me anything less than unconditional love and support. These close friendships make the road more like home."