Friend of the podcast Kendal Hartse (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Cinderella) gives us a look at a typical week on the road with Cabaret in the second installment of her three-part blog series.
A Week on the Road
I thought it might be fun, as we enter the last few weeks of the Cabaret tour, to do a little look back on what a typical week on tour looks like. Things vary from city to city, but the general structure remains the same. This sort of “schedule non-schedule” is helpful in finding some kind of routine. While the theatres and hotels and walks to and from change, I like that there is enough that stays the same to help get into a groove and not feel too scattered as the weeks go by. The crew has a different schedule than the cast when it comes to travel and loading in/out, but here I'll be focusing on what the cast experiences.
Monday, unless we are in a city for more than a week, is the designated day off/travel day. On a SETA contract, these are one in the same. Depending on the distance, we either bus or take a flight. Monday morning, anywhere between 9am-12pm, the cast gets onto a bus and heads to the airport or to our new destination. Airport days can be a little easier on the body, but bus days tend to be easier on the brain. You don't have to make sure your bag is under 50 pounds, you can carry snacks and extras in as many little bags as you want, and you can play games and watch movies on the bus. I had the pleasure of taking several between city road trips with my cast mate Chris Kotera, who had his car for one leg of tour. This was my favorite way to travel since it gave us the opportunity to pull over and take hikes, or check out local restaurants in the cities we drove through. Monday nights are always a great time to have one really lovely meal in a nice restaurant since the rest of the nights in town we are working.
Tuesday is a great grocery shopping/get yourself oriented in the new city day. Hotels with just a mini fridge make it a little harder to save money by buying groceries and not eating every meal out. Hotels with a mini fridge and a microwave are a step up. Extended stay hotels or Airbnb means FULL KITCHEN. This is a huge plus in feeling like home and also saving $$$ on food. Our call to the theatre on Tuesdays is usually 5:30 for a company meeting in the house to discuss the ins and outs of the new space, and then we do a soundcheck. For Cabaret, this means orchestra as well as vocals, and we play through several numbers on the bandstand so sound can find levels for the theatre we're in for the week. In some cities, there will be an opening night party hosted by the presenter. It's always fun when there's a party and an excuse to dress up a little. Our company cleans up well.
On the road, it's rare to have a Wednesday matinee. There will occasionally be a brush-up rehearsal or an understudy rehearsal on Wednesday. If there's a rehearsal, it's typically at 1pm until about 5pm. Since I understudy both Sally Bowles and Fraulein Kost, my Wednesday morning is usually spent reviewing over breakfast. I like to get to the theatre early to go over choreography in the space or get a few extras minutes practicing the accordion. I like to grab a light dinner in between rehearsal and show call and maybe even squeeze in a quick nap. Some people like the Equity cot, I often choose the floor. The purchase of a cozy fleece onesie makes these naps even better. Wednesday night, people will sometimes go out if there's no rehearsal on Thursday.
Thursday is a lot like Wednesday. It's at the mercy of a rehearsal schedule. If there's nothing scheduled, I like to use the free afternoon to take in a little local culture and check out what makes the city unique. Thursdays can be great tourist days. I had the opportunity to use these free afternoons to go to Niagara Falls in Buffalo, check out the Pike Place Market in Seattle, ride the roller coasters at Busch Gardens in Tampa, explore Faneuil Hall in Boston, visit the St. Louis Zoo, and the Rose Gardens in Portland. Thursday nights after the show, I like to grab a late dinner and a drink since Fridays are almost always free.
The show keeps me very physically active. Different company members take more/less advantage of our gym deals on the road. Since I have a pretty busy track, I don't hit up the gym as often. If I go, it's often on a Friday since we only have one show and plenty of free time during the day. Personally, I'm a fan of the stair master, but if I can, I like to find a reformer Pilates class instead. This kills two birds with one stone; get in a workout, and strengthen and stabilize in a physical therapy way. Fridays are also an ideal day trip day. With an 8pm show, there's plenty of time to rent a car and explore. A few cast mates and I took some Friday trips to Sanibel Island near Naples, Florida, drove to Vermont to get some maple syrup and see a Revolutionary War monument when in Schenectady, went to Mt. St. Helen's when in Portland, and spent the afternoon in Muir Woods while in San Jose. Fridays are also a terrific time to practice some self-care and go to a spa or get a massage. This is hugely important while on the road. Friday night at the theatre, we have Dollar Friday, where we all put our names on a dollar, throw them in a box, and the person with their name on the dollar drawn from the box gets to keep it all!
Saturday means two shows and not much else (except bagels - we get bagels on Saturdays!). I try to get up at least two hours before call time so my body has enough time to wake up for the 2pm matinee. For whatever reason, this is always my hardest show of the week (wherever I am, not just the road). Because of this, I like to eat a good breakfast and take my time walking to the theatre to get my head in the game. Post matinee, there is physical therapy (also on Thursdays, we are lucky to have in-house PT twice a week). In each show, a different body part usually needs attention. For me, Cabaret means neck and shoulders since I play the violin in the show. I often stay near the theatre on Saturdays, grabbing a bite somewhere close, maybe doing a little window shopping, terrifying the residents of any given city with my show makeup that I keep on between shows to save time. It's fun. Double show days are a great time to get in a little extra instrument practice as well. Saturday night usually means a great audience. The high energy of the show can be hard to come down off of, but there's often an early matinee on Sunday, so I like to watch a movie on Saturday nights.
Sunday means the dreaded 1PM matinee in most cities. It might not sound much worse than 2PM, but that extra hour makes a huge difference. My Sunday matinee warm up is always more intense because my body has such a hard time waking up. I've recently incorporated jumping rope before the show, and it really helps get my heart rate going before an early show. The turn around between Sunday shows is usually tighter than Saturdays. I like to grab a bite and then start getting organized for load out. This means packing up my dressing station, putting away makeup, and making sure my trunk is packed. Often, a tour will provide a large trunk to company members that travel on the show trucks. Mine is mostly full of extra shoes and books, things that make my suitcase too heavy for the airlines. The final show on Sunday has a unique energy as things are being packed up once they're not being used. Costume pieces go back into wardrobe, props get packed away, company management packs up the coffee maker and toasters. Once we have packed up our makeup, costumes, and instruments, the girls ensemble likes to open a bottle of champagne and toast to another successful week. Then start all over again.