Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jungle Book Tour- The Final Days

1 Tour Manager
5 Actors
2 Months
50 Performances
16,000 Miles
30,000 Students

"That's Hot Dude!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Birthday Lobster

We are in Waterville ME. We had 2 shows this morning in Waterville Opera House. After the second show we surprised Ariel and Andrew by having the entire audience sing "Happy Birthday." Ariel's birthday is today and Andrew's birthday is tomorrow.

Tonite for dinner, because it's a birthday night AND because we are in Maine we went out for lobster. We were the only ones in the restaurant the entire time. It was Anthony's first time for lobster and everyone had a good time with the mess and the bibs.

The Waterville Opera House

Our Birthday Boy and Girl

The Group After the Lobster Massacre

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jungle Book Tour- New Blood


My name is Andrew Heinrich and if you've seen the show, I am the tall guy that plays Shere Khan.

On of the things I love about live theate is that it really keeps you on your toes as an actor. In live theatre, anything can happen and the show really must go on. As an actor you have to be able to qwuickly adapt to everything from crying kids to prop or set issues.

A great deal of work goes into mitigating those issues on the front end of production. Sets and props are built to endure, lines music and blocking are rehearsed and every aspect of the show is highly organized. Everything has its place.

This weekend is an excellent example of how a show reaps the benfits of hard work. Kelly Petlin had a wedding to attend in Alabama and so we had to bring in a replacement for two shows in Glendora CA at the Citrus College PAC.

Abby Hankins is an old friend of Kelly's,a San Antonio native and a fantastic actor, singer and dancer. Happily she also attends school in California and was avaliable to step in. Abby got a script, a DVD of our performance and an audio CD well before we arrived in California. The script had to highlight more than just her lines. Kelly did a great job of outlining all of her complicated blocking, costume changes, exits and enterances and backstage responsibilites. Kelly and Shelley made sure that Abby would have everything she needed to do her job.

When Abby arrived to rehearse she has already memorized her lines, her music and and her blocking. However we still needed rehearse as a group. Sadly, we don't carry a nice portable space in which to practice. Enter the Comfort Inn parking lot.

It must have been odd for the other guests to see people singing and dancing in their parking lot, but that's theatre. I was terribly impressed with Abby's command of the script. It was a lots of fun to run through the show like that. Many laughs were had.

The next day we arrived at Citrus College early and had another parking lot rehearsal. Then it was time to do our thing. Abby had never run the show in costume. She has several quick changes during the show. However, because of Kelly and Shelley's hard work and organization we didn't miss a beat. She made every change and did a great job.

When you mix talented people with excellent organizers and hard work you can tackle anything. And... it definitely keeps you on your toes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jungle Book Tour- Kids Say the Darndest Things!

While on tour we have performed for over 20,000 kids and adults and each audience has had its own personality and quirks. We have performed to inner city NYC high school students, to senior citizen groups, to families and to an entire audience of 1,000 first graders. We have had audiences that laughed out loud throughout the ENTIRE show, we have had audiences that showed their appreciation with only a few claps but raved about the performance in the lobby afterwards and we have had audiences that talked back to the stage on a consistent basis throughout the show.

We probably have to say we like the talkers the best. Mostly because kids say the DARNEST things and possibly because the talkers give us something new to talk about in the car for the next 10 hour drive day.

A few of our favorites-

At the top of the show, Akela asks his wolf brothers to accept Mowgli into the family. He instructs them to show their support by howling. The kids usually will howl their support during this scene. Sometimes we then get howling whenever Mowgli is threatened or whenever the kids want to show that they are behind Mowgli and against Shere Kahn. During one show we even got howling when Mowgli chases off the bad guys at the end of the show.

Towards the end of the show Mowgli is given the fire by the Village Woman and spends some time inspecting it. He touches the fire with his fingers and then with his tongue. At one performance, just as he was putting his tongue to the fire a kid yelled, "It's hot dude!"

This moment often invokes some advice such as "Don't touch it!", "NO" or during one show kids just started yelling "Fire!" in the crowded theatre. (Sorry, I had to go there)

During a scene between Shere Khan and Akela, Shere Khan says that Akela's pack will not protect him forever. We have had a couple kids respond to that line with howling or with supportive yells but during one show a kid yelled "Oh yes we will!"

And just the other day when Mowgli fights off the bad guys and falls into tears we had a young man yell "Be a man!"

These little nuggets of truth and support are just some of the amazing feedback we have been getting on this tour. No matter how long we drive, how exhausted we are, or how much fast food we are eating, seeing the kids faces and excitement can always create the energy needed to perform extra hard just for them. Because even if it is the umpteenth time WE have done the show, it's the first time for them and the children deserve all that we can give.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jungle Book Tour- Brawley CA

We are currently in California. We will have a few shows in the area including shows in La Mirada, Brawley, Lancaster and Glendora. Yesterday we had a show in Brawley CA which is fairly close to the border with Mexico. Most of the population of Brawley CA falls into 3 groups. You have the wealthy farm owners, the poor farm labourers and then the middle class; police, teachers, ect.

We were a little bit nervous since I had not been able to get in touch with the Technical Director. After speaking with the Executive Director I had been able to decipher that we were at the High School and that we were in a gym but that was about it.

We haven't done the show that often without a tech crew, a stage and proper theatrical lighting and this time we were doing the show without all of those things. We had to make a few changes to accommodate the venue.

However the show was good and the kids LOVED it. The actors certainly went the extra mile in terms of physicality and facial expressions.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Jungle Book Tour- KDLM Radio

Today The Jungle Book Tour made it's Radio Debut.

Kelly and Damian were on KDLM in Detroit Lakes, MN. We woke up this morning to be on the 8:30 morning show. The interview went very well and lasted quite a long time. We discussed our show this afternoon at the Historic Holmes Theatre, talked about our costumes, music and props and discussed touring in general.

The interview went very well and I should be getting a digital copy soon which I will post on the blog. In the meantime here are some pictures!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jungle Book Tour- The Pizza Blog

Here is my Pizza blog or as I like to call it my Plog...

It's time for Damian's Jungle Book Pizza Blog! As I travel the U.S. seeing the sights and painting the landscapes of our grand land, I really must say that this is a beautiful country we lve in. Some highlights include: three sold out shows in Houston (equals 6000 screaming kids...and I mean SCREAMING!!) We were Rock Stars to the Sponge Bob set. The Lincoln Memrorial and Viet Nam Memorial in DC, were the most touching moments. Seeing the sunset in New Mexico and now the beginnings of fall colors up in the northern states, I have been inspired me to paint again. As a Native New Yorker who transplanted to TX at the age of ten - I sure do miss the fall!!! But now on to one of the reasons I started this tour and this blog: PIZZA!!! Before we get to New York I wanted to highlight some of the best pizza places I experienced in the best country in the world:

BIRRAPORETTI'S - HOUSTON, TX An Irish/Italian restaurant - YES, it is true! My two favorite things in the world: Irish Drinks and Italian Food!!! The Pizza was fabulous! Two great tastes that go great together!!!

PIZZA PALACE - KNOXVILLE, TN - My vow from the day one of this tour was to never eat at any Fast Food or Chain restaurants! To my joy, Kelly suggested we try a local joint in Tennessee that was recommended by "Diners, Drive-in's & Dives" on the Food Network. It was a Drive-in but it was a PIZZA DRIVE-IN Who needs Sonic, huh?! As we sat there pondering what to do with the 70's era telephone device to communicate with the inner workings of Tennessee's best Pizza... one of the employees - Vanessa (a name did not match her personality or her teeth) walked by and asked if we were a "maaa-jick shoow" or something like that (huh...not quite sure how to write accents down phonetically.) We told her that we are on a National Tour of "The Jungle Book." She flipped! It was her favorite book as a child. Can you say ecstatic!? She wanted to see "Who is Mowgli!?!?" Within a minute ,,,We were rock stars again. She asked us if we wanted to come in and sit down instead of waiting in the van. So we did. They offered us drinks and brought out a large batch of Onion Rings which we devoured (what is it about actors and FREE FOOD!?!) while we waited for our pizza orders. We chatted and met everyone behind the counters and even took some pictures next to Guy Fieri's picture on the wall. maybe we'll be up there too some day.

ZAXBY'S CHICKEN PARM SANDWICH in ARKANSAS - I know it is not a pizza joint but it was too funny... The lunch special: a chicken Parm Sandwich with julian fries & drink for $4.99 - Sounds great, huh? It was a rainey day and it was a much needed relief from all the I-hops, Wendy's & Subway's that America loves to eat so much, My Chicken Parm sandwich consisted of three fried chicken strips on Texas Toast (do they still call it "Texas toast" outside of Texas?!) with some kind of mystery BBQ-flike flavored sauce on it...perhaps there was some "parmesan" in the the mystery sauce...I don't know. Needless to say I did not finish the sandwich.

NEW BERLIN WI- Had the day off. I usually walk to see the town we are in and to catch the "local color" as I like to call it but it was raining I was feeling blah, so I opted to dine in. Taking the advice from the guy at the front desk of the Hotel I ordered Mama Mia's or something like that. It was not too bad. The crust was unappealing if not just plain bland. What made up for it were the toppings...I ordered the bacon cheeseburger pizza and the toppings were great...tasty & plentiful. I don't remember the sauce, so that means there was not enough of it. The bacon was delish, so that almost made up for the sauce & crust... a lot of flavor. It came in a square box as usual but when I opened it, to my surprise, the pizza itself was square also! More pizza for your dollar! It fed me for two days!

SBARRO's in BALTIMORE MD - It was Pizza joint at a food court but the Calzone was big as your face and stuffed full of riccotta, the way I like it! I could only eat half. It made a great breakfast the next day.

BEST OF THE NON-NY PIZZA: SALS PIZZA- in HARTFORD, WI - Best of the trip so far - Across the street where we were staying. When I first walked in I could smell the authenticity..Very NY style.... instantly brought back memories of my brothers & I riding our bikes to Vincent Pizza in NY as kids...MMMM! Thin, but not crispy. She had a European look & accent that made her exotic but I could not place her dialect to Italy for sure. I had a simple slice of cheese. While we were waiting she brought us free Garlic knots that were delicious!

Those are the best so far...thanks for reading my PLOG. My next Plog will be about NEW YORK PIZZA!!!