Friday, April 28, 2006

This Tour Is Going Down The Toilet

Hey all. Sorry about not posting yesterday. Not much went on. We did another show for 7,000 kids...old hat now...and then everyone went their own ways.
Today, Thursday, we loaded up the van and drove to Sarasota. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand...that's it.
I kicked it by the pool - watched some TV - and Jackie, Andrew and I are watching a movie as we speak. Riveting, right?
So since there is nothing else to share, I wanted to share with you a TOILET. What did he say? A TOILET! Indeed. Below, check out this PUBLIC bathroom in a town in Oregon somewhere. Reedsport, Oregon to be exact. My friend, Brenda Brown, sent me these pictures and the pics had to be shared.
It's made entirely out of one-way glass. No one can see you in there, but when you are inside, it looks like you're sitting in a clear glass box.
So the question for this Friday becomes:


I'd like to think I could...but no telling if nerves would hit me when it was show time!

Happy weekend.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wonka Delivers MAGIC in Orlando

It's Tuesday night, our day is winding down, and I am sitting here trying to figure out HOW to describe our first show in Orlando this morning. It really was an experience like no other - and we get to do it again tomorrow. WHY, you ask? Come along as I tell you.
Our shows today were set up by Ken and Deanna Kirchman, a couple from Winter Park, FL who are on the board of Florida House. Florida House is located in Washington DC and is the equivalent of an embassy for the state of Florida. Part of their work is the bring the arts to the students of Florida. Through the generosity of the Kirchman's, our show was booked at the TD Waterhouse Center here in Orlando. The Center is where the Orlando Magic play - and seats about 3 BILLION people. (Not really...more like 20,000+) And for the purpose of our show, the created a THEATRE-type setting with a seating capacity of 7,000 students! You read that right - 7,000 3rd graders from the greater Orlando area saw the show today - and the same number will see the show tomorrow, as well. Everything was set up to the specifics of our show, and besides a few little troubles here and there (mic trouble for me and a few troubles rolling around on the Ompa's) the show went off WONDERFULLY! I wish I could write a description of what it feels like to perform for 7,000 students - and even more, to explain what their excitement and cheers sound and feel like! Overwhelmingly amazing might have to do, for now.

Here is a view from the stage, looking out into the audience.

So these aren't the best shots - but I wanted to show you how they just kind of hung drapes to make our BACKSTAGE area.

One more view of the house. This shot is more on an angle. Fun, I know.

This is to show you the parking lot after the show. There were SO many buses...this picture doesn't do it justice, but it's as close to justice as I could get.

Here is the venue...with it's local 'flavor'.

The other SUPER cool part of our day was that the First Lady of Florida, Colomba Bush, was in attendance for our show - and hosted a luncheon for our cast after the performance! It was an amazing opportunity for us all - and it forced us all to get cleaned up in our Sunday best. Mrs. Bush was such a nice woman - and very complimentary of the show and the positive effect that it will have in the lives of the students! The added bonus to the luncheon was the delicious LUNCH that they served us...MAN! I'm not going to describe it - but just was a delight.

Jackie and Jen get a picture with the 2 students who introduced Mrs. Bush at the show.

L: The cast, sans Eric, at the luncheon showing off the table favors. R: Pretty much the same picture EXCEPT - I'm not in it, AND...something about Chris, Jackie and Jen's expression KILLS me.

Travis and Elisa enjoy the treats, as well.

Here is the cast with Mrs. Bush and her daughter, Noel. (I can't figure out the ANGLE on this took it. Strange.)

Our day ended with a dinner, hosted by the Kirchman's at a great restaurant up in Winter Park. The restaurant is called Luma on Park and it was NOT too shabby. The restaurant has a private dining room/wine cellar in the basement - and the Kirchman's kindly booked the space for our cast, a few people from Florida House and the Kirchman's and their assistants. We were treated like royalty! Again, the food was out of this world - the drinkers were treated to the wines and ports and liquors of the restaurant - and every time I asked, the nice waiter man brought me a diet coke with a great wedge of lime. It was great to get to chat with our hosts on a more intimate level - and enjoyed laughing with Paige, Kristen and Sarah!

L: Chris, Andrew and Jill enjoy a picture with Kristen. R: Travis, Elisa and Paige get cozy.

All the girls strike a pose.

A couple of shots of the Cellar room we were in all evening.

This was another one of those days that made me stop and realize how UNIQUE this opportunity is for us. It also makes me realize the scope of what we are bringing to the kids that we perform for. It's so much more than just another play. During our stay in Orlando, roughly 14,000 students will see Willy Wonka - and although you can't measure it, there is no telling WHAT it will inspire even ONE of them to dream, believe, do or become. And wether it's 14,000 kids here or 250 kids in Talequah, Oklahoma...anyway you look at it, it's pretty exciting to think that it's our job...packed with pure imagination...

Enjoy your Wednesday...

Monday Means Back To Work

That's right! Our weekend of fun in the sun game to a screeching halt this morning...with 2 school shows in Clearwater! The venue was great - and the shows went well. Each show had about 2100 students in the audience, and they all seemed to enjoy the show. And NONE of them seemed to notice how EXTREMELY hot and humid it was onstage! But you know - we're in Florida...heading into summer. So what do you expect? We survived, packed up the show and headed Northeast to Orlando.

Eric's mom and dad (in the pink and stripes) came down to Florida to see the show again! And they brought Eric's Aunt and Uncle who live in Sarasota! They were GREAT audience members...and were very excited to talk to each of us about the show. The Thompson's are going for a record 3-Blog-Appearances (Camden in January, Clearwater today and Wilkes-Barre in May)! Best of luck, guys! YOU CAN DO IT!

Our evening in Orlando has been pretty low key. The tech staff had to go load in our show across the street for our show tomorrow. We are performing at the TD Waterhouse Arena - which is a SPORTS ARENA that can seat 29,000. Luckily, they are only going to let in about 7,000 to each of our shows. Anything more and they'd probably have a stampede when we drop the golden tickets at the end. Who needs that?
We DID find a delicious cheesecake at dinner tonight. It was a FRIED cheesecake, which we have tried before, but our waitress made it sound so delicious - and so we had to try it. To be true to our search for the best cheesecake in the country. And it was really, REALLY good. On the MASE...I gladly give the cheesecake tonight a low 9. I found the flavors delicious - but it was hard to cut into...and when you're sharing a dessert, that makes things tough.

Here it is, friends. The dessert that made Andrew Frace say, "This may be the best dessert I have ever eaten." Fair enough.

AND - I'm happy to report that I finally got the pics from the weekend posted! Take some time to go back to yesterday's post and take a look. I think you'll enjoy...PLUS...there is a Case Of The Unfortunates at the end. ALWAYS a good time!

Good night friends!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Hurriance WONKA Hits Florida

FIRST OFF - for those of you who came to the fountain to 'drink' on Friday, my apologies. Long story short...Wednesday (in Alabama), I came down with the flu. Things happen - lunches were lost (dinners, too) - we packed up and had to drive to Florida - upon arrival, I WAS EXHAUSTED. So Thursday night, we arrive in Jacksonville at 7pm - and I fell asleep on my bed at 7:30pm. And then I proceeded to sleep for about.....19 hours. Give or take a few bathroom trips and curtain closings. Anyway - so I didn't get around to blogging for the Friday readers. But I'm better...that flu bug is gone...and I have a weekend of FUN IN THE SUN to share with you.

JACKSONVILLE - we really stopped there (in Orange Park) for just a hot second. One show - great venue - nothing too amazing to report. Um...yeah. I'm being really honest when I say that even 2 days later, it's a total and complete blur. Luckily, Jill took some pictures with my camera to share with you all - since I didn't get around to taking any. They are magic - so prepare yourself.

From the Jill Shelly Photo Collection 20o6. Some of her finest work. For sale. Inquire with blog owner.

CLEARWATER - our next stop on our Tour de Florida. We're about 10 miles WEST of Tampa. We arrived Saturday afternoon and had the rest of Saturday and all of today off! And straight from our Doppler radar system...THE WEATHER IS AMAZING! 85 and clear on Saturday - for an afternoon at the pool. And 86 and clear on Sunday - for a few hours with a million of our closest friends at Clearwater Beach (on the Gulf of Mexico) and a few more hours at the hotel pool. We're at a Hampton Inn - the rooms are beautiful - and there is an OLD CHICAGO restaurant within walking distance..which has served us well (some of us really well - for dinner BOTH nights.) We're rejuvinated and ready to roll on from here! Tomorrow we have 2 shows here in Clearwater, and then we head up the road for our shows Tuesday and Wednesday in ORLANDO! "Wonka Cast! You've just performed your show 190 times! What's next?" "WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!" Hope you all had as nice and relaxing and SUN-sational weekend as WE have!

No sooner did we check IN to the hotel in Clearwater than did everyone start showing up at the pool!

Part of our first day at the pool was to help Jackie practice her swimming. L: Jill and Jen cheer Jackie on. R: Eric and Elisa wait at the finish line.

L: Jackie meets Elisa at the finish line while Eric celebratres. R: The whole Pool Gang celebrates with Jackie.

The group basks in their pool victory.

Eric shows off his new Pool-Do.

Everyone unwinds from Day One In The Sun at Old Chicago!

AFTER our pool time and dinner time, we decided to take a trip to the beach...Clearwater walk in the ocean at night. The pictures that follow are from that trip to the water.

L: "What just moved over there? Was that a shark?" Chris said. R: "I'll be in the van!" Eric exclaimed while Jackie, Jen and Andrew looked for said-shark.

L: "It was TOO a shark, Andrew! Just lift me straight up like THIS when it comes closer!" said Jackie. R: "I see it TOO!" Shouted Jill. "I'm going in to wrestle him! I'll be right over there!" shouts Chris.

"I wonder...what is going to be the easiest way to cover Chris's parts in the show tomorrow..." Elisa ponders....

Just kidding! NO SHARK! Here is the cast enjoying the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

This is a collection of SELF-PHOTOS, that I took. Figure THAT one out!

Everyone with someone...

and then some other people with some OTHER people...this time, black and white. (And a couple of times, QUITE LITERALLY.)

A couple of profound shots from the MAB&WC.

Wonka takes the Gulf of Mexico by storm. April 2006.

It really WAS the best city beach. OR atleast the best city beach at 12am.

Elisa and I found a REALLY big turtle on the beach.

Here is Clearwater Beach during the day.

L: Here is the Wonka gang, soaking up some rays. R: This is what I THOUGHT was going to be my Case Of The Unfortunates for the day. MAN was I wrong. Thankfully.

Andrew celebrates his day in the sun!


Here she is. I mean...WOW. Just sleeping right there...while people were running and walking and playing right around her. I mean, definitely unfortunate. Part of me says BRAVE, too. But more of me says UNFORTUNATE.

And here is the whole shot. A good day at the beach, INDEED!