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