Friday, February 17, 2012

4 months

It's been over 4 months since my last blog and sooooo much has happened since.  Here are the highlights:  a.) we actually started the touring element of In the Heights (whoah baby!) and b.) I started planning mine and JP's wedding...while on aforementioned tour....from my bus seat...far away from Boston...with spotty wifi...but with the aid of bridal mags from all over this great nation of ours...and with the assistance of Mr. JP himself and our bad-ass wedding planner Rachael). 

I am typing this from my hotel room in Toronto.  We are just wrapping up a 2 week run at the Toronto Center for the Arts and it has been an interesting run.  I should preface by saying that I was so looking forward to our stay in Toronto because a.) I have never been here b.) it's a big city (the First National went to most major cities so we don't have too many big ones on our schedule) and c.) we were going to be here for 2 weeks (that is like 2 months in bus and truck tour time!)

Toronto is a lovely city and I can't wait to come back and visit when I am not working!  I opted to not put an international plan on my cell phone during this time because when I have done that in the past I still end up with a $500+ phone bill.  So I have been phoneless the entire time we have been here and have gotten to see how much of an iPhone addict I truly am.  Literally going through phone withdrawals and currently counting down the minutes until we cross back into US territory and I can once again text with abandon, dial up whoever I want and spend endless amounts of time perusing facebook and bridal blogs.  (stop judging me!)  I digress, back to Toronto.  Apparently, the Canadian Actors Equity Association is less than thrilled that we are here.  That coupled with our lead being out with an injury, one of our male dancers being injured and our male swing leaving the tour for personal reasons has made Toronto a whirlwind.  In a nutshell, the men have been working like crazy...covering Usnavi or Sonny or Jose or....throw in a Man 3 (Domingo) split has been nuts.  I jokingly said to management that I would be ready to go on for Man 3 and could totally be Dominga or even Piraguera (instead of Piraguero)...alright maybe I wasn't joking.  I think I will go learn some music now...."Piragua, piragua so sweet and nice piragua...."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Paciencia y Fe

As I posted in my last blog, I am now covering the role of Abuela Claudia for Tech week, Previews and the first week of shows so I am actually onstage and wearing the muumuu and orthopedic shoes.  YES!!!!  So grateful, humbled and a teeny bit overwhelmed by all of this.  Living the dream!

Last Friday, we arrived to the theatre for the first time and when I walked into the house and saw the set I got a little choked up.  It is stunning and suddenly everything became so real....again.  We got to walk around the stage....getting to know our new hood and becoming familiar with the set.  When they pulled down the 2nd Bodega grate with Abuela Claudia's painting on it and the words Paciencia y Fe, I almost lost it....and then I promptly went out and bought some bronzer because she is WAY tanner than me.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

sweet Carolin(a)

I just woke up, it's Friday September 30th and I am in Clemson, South Carolina and I have so much to report!!  Let me back track a few days.  On Tuesday, we did our first run through for an audience.  This included many members of the 1st National tour cast that had been invited.  It was a great run through and the previous company members were so supportive.  On Wednesday night, our audience included many members of the Broadway company and Lin, Alex and Andy.  Everyone was, again, so supportive.  Here is a photo of some of the Broadway company and us: 
Also, I got to meet Blanca Camacho who covered the same tracks that I am covering in the Broadway company. 

Later that night, I got a call from our director informing me that I was going to be covering Abuela Claudia for the run through the following day and while we were in Clemson for Tech and Previews and likely for the first couple stops on the tour until the replacement was ready.  Whoah!  I know that jumping in to cover is part of my job but I did not expect it to happen so soon.  Luckily, Abuela was the role I was most off book for so I was able to spend that night reviewing lines with JP and get some sleep.  Did I mention that I am's just a cold/cough (I think) but I have not been able to sleep through the night.  At any rate, the following morning we had a put-in rehearsal for me.  Then, at 11am we opened the doors for the invited guests and boom, showtime!  Talk about an adrenaline rush.  Wow!  The cast and audience were so incredibly supportive.  They were patient with me and helped make sure I was in the right place at the right time.  It was a good run.  We bid farewell to Ripley-Grier studios, Amanda (our awesome PA) and Magic our fierce and wonderful Associate Choreographer.

We got to LaGuardia and our flight was delayed 3 hours.  Not to worry, I purchased 3 new bridal magazines and it took me almost 3 hours to look at all of them.  Once we got to Charlotte, we hopped on the bus for the 2.5 hour drive from there to Clemson, SC and went straight to bed.  Soooo tired!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Half-naked in Brooklyn eating pizza from a Jewish deli

The title of this blog is what I was doing just moments before typing.  No, I am not joking.  About 2 bites into my slice of cheese, I turned to JP and said this is hilarious, here we are "half-naked in Brooklyn eating pizza from a Jewish deli".  Then I insisted this must be the title of my next blog.  He then proceeded to create a whole franchise: Blog, Book, Movie (he speculated that the movie title would of course be shortened by the producers to just "Half-naked in Brooklyn" because that exudes something far sexier than what was actually going on...2 starving people, sweating their butts off and fighting over air from the fan we had set up directly in front of us on high speed.)   I really shouldn't complain, look at what my neighbors are wearing:

Anyway, back to In the Heights updates.  Rehearsals are going well.  This week I even got my own understudy music rehearsal with Kurt and got to fill in for Camila on a scene while she was at a fitting!!  This cast is crazy good, ya'll.  I spend most of my time at rehearsal watching the ladies I understudy and frantically writing down all their blocking, cues, props etc. and usually singing along with them under my breath or saying their lines along with them into my hand.  They are all so gracious and kind and never make me feel weird for staring at them all day or asking them to repeat something that I may have missed. 

Last Sunday we headed to Tainted Blue Recording studio after rehearsal to do some recordings.  Apparently, this is the same recording studio that Tupac was shot at in 1994.  CRAZY!!!  Here is a photo of the view from the studio's terrace

This past Thursday, Abuela and her understudies (me and the gal playing Daniela) went to Charles LaPointe Wig Design to get fitted for our wigs and learn how to do age make-up.  I am pretty sure I saw them creating wigs for Wicked and the Addams family while I was there (at least those are the ones I could easily identify).  After I got fitted for my wig, Dave taught me how to do age make-up and here is the finished product.

Only 4 more rehearsal and then we head to South Carolina for Tech!! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams are Made long as you travel light

I have lived 3 places in my life in/around Los Angeles, CA, College Station, TX and in/around the Clear Lake area of Houston, TX.  New York City could not be more different than either of these places.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't my first rodeo in NYC (I've been here to visit several times) but living here is quite different from visiting because it includes things like groceries and laundry and walking many, many, many (did I say many) blocks (for me usually in the wrong direction to start) and people, oh so many people.

Let's start at the beginning...I arrived to New York on an Amtrak from Boston (JP and I went to Boston to do some wedding recon before I left for the tour).  When I left Boston, it was pouring rain so I checked the NYC weather and it was supposed to rainy there too.  So, I took most of my summer clothes out of my suitcase (bad idea!) and even went and bought a rain coat (good idea!).

The train ride was awesome.  I love trains and this one had wifi so I was even happier.  After lugging my ginormous suitcase through Penn Station and up the stairs to street level, I discovered the most beautiful day....clear skies and 77 degrees.  No rain here! I quickly ditched my rain coat, started sweating and proceeded to hit the streets to meet Michelle to pick up keys to the Brooklyn apartment I am subletting.  After just a few blocks of lugging the suitcase and sweating profusely, I wanted to give up and jump in a cab with air conditioning but I remembered how expensive my upcoming wedding is going to be and opted to tough it out.  I met Michelle, got the keys and she pointed in the direction of the D train I needed to take to Brooklyn.  As I approached the subway entrance with my huge suitcase I thought to myself "Oh, going down the stairs is going to be so much easier than coming up".  Both options are bad!  Getting a suitcase upstairs is hard for obvious reasons and getting it down is hard because once the thing gets going it can get away from you and have you careening down head first.  Luckily, this did not happen to me but there were a few close calls.  Once I got downstairs, I bought a Metro Card -- 1 month unlimited for around $100 (which I lost 2 days later and had to replace [I opted to replace it with a 1 week unlimited this time.  If I lose this one it won't hurt as much]).  And proceeded to head to my new home in Brooklyn...

I got off the D at Fort Hamilton and walked at least 3 blocks in the wrong direction.  Then once I got to where the apartment was supposed to be, I walked past it several times because there is scaffolding out front and I couldn't see the number.
Here it is, home sweet home for the next few weeks:

Once I got inside the apartment building, the real fun began.  Carrying the aforementioned ginormous suitcase up 4 flights of stairs.  I was exhausted before I even began and I had to stop for a breather at each landing.  Once I finally got to the top of the stairs, I was huffing and puffing and was so excited to get inside and get off my feet and have a drink of water.  One small problem, I could not for the life of me figure out how to unlock this door.  I tried and tried and it wouldn't unlock.  I think it took my about 15 minutes to figure it out how to unlock but finally I got inside and the apartment is quite roomy and very cute.

The Neighborhood - From what I can tell, the apartment I am staying in is located between the Sunset Park and Borough Park neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

Here is what wikipedia has to say about these neighborhoods:

Sunset Park: Since the 1980s, Brooklyn Chinatown, located along 8th Avenue from 42nd to 68th Street (my apartment is on 49th between 8th and 9th), has attracted many Chinese immigrants. Eighth Avenue is lined with Chinese businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants, Buddhist temples, video stores, bakeries, and community organizations, and even Hong Kong Supermarket.  Like the traditional Chinatown in Manhattan, Brooklyn's Chinatown was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants. In recent years, however, to the discontent of many of the Cantonese, an influx of Fuzhou immigrants has been supplanting the Cantonese at a significantly faster rate than in Manhattan's Chinatown. The Cantonese presence is definitively giving way to an emerging Fuzhou community, though many Cantonese still come from other parts of Brooklyn and elsewhere.

Sunset Park also had a wave of immigration from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico as well as other Latin American countries. By 1990, Hispanics comprised 50% of Sunset Park's population, rehabilitating property values and developing a thriving community. There is an abundance of Hispanic restaurants and businesses along 5th Avenue.
People from Gujarat, India, have also been settling in and around Sunset Park since 1974. They are mostly Christian and go to three of the area's churches, at 45th Street and 7th Avenue, 56th Street and 4th Avenue, and 52nd Street and 8th Avenue. These churches have a mainly Indian congregation and festive parties in the church halls.

Borough Park: is home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities outside of Israel, with one of the largest concentrations of Jews in the United States and Orthodox traditions, rivaling many insular communities. Since the average number of children in Hasidic and Hareidi families is 6.72, Borough Park is experiencing sharp growth. It is an economically diverse area, with rich, working class and poor people living side-by-side and going to the same schools and synagogues.

The thing I am realizing about living here is that it kind of simplifies your life for you because you can only take or buy what you can carry.  Literally.  I went to buy groceries, loaded up my basket and had to quickly unload because I physically couldn't carry every thing that I had selected (especially not with those 4 flights of stairs looming over my head).  When the dirty clothes started to pile up, I made sure to go to the laundry mat as soon as the laundry bag was full because I knew I couldn't carry it by myself if I didn't.  And another thing about laundry, I just had mine done: washed, dried and folded for $13.50 (for a weeks worth of clothes, linens, blankets and towels).  SO WORTH IT!!  And to the man who helped me carry it up the 4 flights of stairs, thank you, THANK YOU, a million times THANK YOU!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

¡No pare, sigue, sigue!

Wepa!  I am starting this blog so that my friends & family can keep up with my journey on the 2nd National Tour of In the Heights!!  (click the link for tour dates and ticket info)

I love this show and am so honored to be a part of it!  For those of you who don't know already, I was cast as a swing and understudy for Daniela, Camila & Abuela Claudia; I learned this week that I am covering 1 ensemble track + my 3 leads for a total of 4 roles.  (I better make this blog post short and get back to learning my lines/music).

The first week of rehearsals have been amazing!  Michael Balderrama is our resident director and Alex Lacamoire and Andy Blankenbuehler have both been at rehearsals supervising music and choreography with Antuan "Magic" & Morgan assisting.  Also, Lin tweeted about us saying that "we sound awesome".  So cool!

Everyone in the cast is amazing...such a talented group of people! And I have to say, I am in total awe of our dancers.  They are so fierce!!

Here is a picture of the model for our set (borrowed from Robert's FB--Thank you, Robert!):

Feeling so grateful and blessed.  Now, back to learning lines and music.

xo Nicole