What Can One Say About Indianapolis? Not Much, So I’ll Let Menudo Take It From Here…

2 Oct

Greetings from Indianapolis, Indiana, where last night I had my very last opening night of Flashdance The Musical. I know I said goodbye to the show back in Kansas City, but I knew there was a chance then that I’d be coming back to the show for a couple of weeks. This time I’m not coming back because I’m permanently moving to the national tour of Evita . I’m really sad to be saying goodbye to these folks and I’m even sadder that Indianapolis is going to my last city – especially after the wonderful two weeks we just spent in Memphis. But…sometimes it’s time to move on. I look forward to joining up with the company of Evita again next week in St. Louis, but my Flashdance family will always be in my heart. At least I’ll have the chance for a proper goodbye this time.

Friday my replacement for Flashdance will arrive in town. I’ll train him this weekend and then on Monday he’ll travel by bus to East Lansing, Michigan and I’ll fly off to Missouri to meet up with the First Lady of Argentina again. Tim has never toured, let alone done merch on the road, so there’ll be a lot to explain to him, but he’ll be fine. Hopefully I’ll have some time to show him the highlights of Indianapolis, assuming I find any of them. So far the town does not impress. Then again, I did just spend two weeks in Memphis, Tennessee, where the people just ooze with Southern charm and hospitality. I can’t believe I’m going to admit it, but I am kind of glad to be away from all the BBQ and baked beans and fried chicken and potato salad and sweet tea. I’m not sure how much more I could have taken! Now, though, I find myself in a town full of chain restaurants, which isn’t much better. Oh, well…there are worse things in life like, you know…a federal government shutdown. But I digress…

The last time I was in Indianapolis was in February 2010 when I was doing the Theatreworks USA national tour of Junie B. Jones. I played 4 characters, including one that had a mustache and one very lovely lunch lady who had impeccable Rockette-esque high kicks. In the course of that one hour show, I had 12 costume changes, which averages out to about one costume change every five minutes, which doesn’t sound bad, but some of the costume changes were 45-second changes. And remember those mustaches I mentioned before? Well, the company gave me six to last me the entire 6 1/2 month run of the show, generally doing 2 shows a day, 6 days a week. I was also given a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of toupee tape with which to tape the mustaches to my upper lip. During our first dress rehearsal, I ripped one of the mustaches in half trying to get it off during a quick change. That should have been an indication of what was to come.

After about three weeks on the road (about 36 performances), I started feeling some pain every time I’d rip a mustache off my lip (I had to do that 5 times a performance). After four weeks (48 performances and 240 mustache removals), I started noticing the blood. Small chunks of skin were being ripped off my upper lip every time I’d peel one of those mustaches off. It hurt. A lot. Per Equity rules, I had to keep wearing the mustaches because they were part of the costume design and I was required by my union (and by my sense of professionalism) to honor the designer’s vision, but once I started noticing blood, I spoke to our stage manager about the issue. She didn’t really have much to say other than reminding me that I was required to wear my costume as it was given to me in rehearsals, so I called my union. Our representative at Actors’ Equity told me to stop wearing the mustaches right away and that she would speak to the costume shop back in New York to see what we could work out as a compromise. When she called me back, she said to stop wearing them altogether. Apparently the costume shop had meant to send me out with toupee tape that was intended to be worn 1-5 hours, but they’d given me a bag full of tape that was meant to last 3-5 days. No wonder I looked like I’d been shaving with a rusty razor! Instead of 3-5 days, I was only wearing the mustaches for 3-5 minutes and, even with sweat, those things did not want to come off. It was the first time I fully understood what a blessing it was to be a part of Actors’ Equity and to have the support and protection that the union provides. It’s often frustrating to be an Equity actor – your employment options are certainly more limited – but it’s worth it when you need help.

Now if they could just help me find a restaurant that stays open past 10:30!

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The fabulous Gladys Gutzman – Queen of Snacks!

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The hateful mustache…

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