The New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players recently (March 1 through 16, 2013) did a tour of the south. We flew to Atlanta, picked up our lovely and very agreeable 17-piece tour orchestra, got into our reasonably comfortable bus, and were off! We did time in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. We kept a daily journal of some of our adventures, and here are my entries, slightly revised for your pleasure.
March 3, 2013
Saturday night we gave our first performance of this tour. “The Mikado, presented by Burger King” as the marquee read. At the River Center for the Performing Arts, Columbus, Georgia. In the afternoon there was a 3-hour rehearsal with our tour orchestra - 17 friendly and easy-going people from the Atlanta area. The rehearsal was mostly for the orchestra’s benefit, with some time taken to rearrange people on the unusually large stage. The hall was quite a spacious one, in which case coordination between the singers and instruments takes a bit of experimentation. And Al always has a few new surprise ends of phrases he wants to ritard, requiring extra beating from him and refocused attention from us.
The rehearsal went fine – it was only music, no dialogue – the orchestra caught on beautifully and the cast felt secure with its spacing.We had a jolly good dinner, provided by the presenters. The cast was deservedly confident, having performed “Mikado” at City Center for a week in January, plus a brush-up rehearsal on Monday.
River Center in Columbus, GA, and Al, scratching
I should mention here that I haven’t played Ko-Ko since the spring of 2011. Since then, on tour, I have undertaken the awesome responsibility of the role of Coolie #2. Matt Wages is Coolie #1. We move the bench, carry stuff, bow a lot. Coolie business — you know what I mean. So I applied an unconvincing layer of makeup, tied myself into the confusing costume, and put on the damn flip-flops, which I hate. My toes do not naturally clench.
I became very nervous during the overture. Nerves never bother me, so it was upsetting. I ran for help to Lance Olds, who is next to me in the opening number. With the patience of the dad he is he led me through the movements for “Gentlemen of Japan” and “Behold the Lord High Executioner.” Matt reminded me of some coolie details. Dave Auxier showed me where to stand AGAIN.
All was primed for success. And so it was. The orchestra was clear and sensitive and really on their toes. This was the first “Mikado” for most of them. The principals and [SPOILER ALERT!] MOST OF the chorus were amazing as always. And the audience was ready and willing to laugh. Unanimous standing ovation!
WELL. It was the definitive absolute worst and most incompetent performance of anything I have ever done, anywhere, on any stage at any stage of my life! An unparalleled achievement! Was there a mistake I could make? A fan I could open late? A wrong foot for me to start dancing on? Was there a bow I could forget? For god’s sake, bowing should be the least you can expect from a coolie!
For the first number I got by just making minor, depressing, dress rehearsal-type stupid blunders. Thereafter, my performance PLUMMETED. I forgot that the coolies exit after “Wand’ring Minstrel.” I was left standing next to Alan Hill – a nobleman, which is an outrageous coolie faux-pas. Alan made heartless grimaces at me the entire time I was stuck there, eyeing me with the disdainful revulsion any gentleman of Japan would feel towards a pathetic, cringing coolie. Fortunately I was too stunned and mortified to do anything but stand and be a coolie, and didn’t do anything desperate, like look at The Face in the Pit.
The entire act one finale was a nightmare blur of confusion for me - like I had never even heard the piece before. I inexplicably entered with a group of people rather than go out before them and get the bench out of their way. Angie hissed “Steve! The bench!” And it was downhill after that! The act ended with me in the front row of women (rather than the back row of men), again accommodated by Angie, who by this point I had begged to tell me to do everything. I was the first person offstage when Katisha finally chased us off. I fell to my knees, collapsed, and remained in a fetal position for a while. A pretty picture! Much merriment from my generous and supportive castmates.
Act 2 was much better. There just wasn’t that much havoc I could wreak.
THE AUDIENCE COULDN’T TELL! What the hell do they care about some old coolie? There’s Pooh-Bah and the List Song and the world’s cutest Yum-Yum up there! They leapt to their feet and cheered!
I was an atrocity. A blight. I brought the plague to Titipu. None of the miserable souls who survived the terrifying ordeal will ever perform “Mikado” again with the same freedom and innocence. The stage, costumes, and sets are all stained with the sulfurous taint of my abominableness.
On the other hand, Sunday afternoon’s performance at the Grand Opera House in Macon, Georgia was great. I was a total coolie. And on Monday I am the Major-General. PHEW!
Wednesday, March 6
"What time's the bus?" "Which show's tonight?" "When's continental breakfast?" Repeat.
Today (Wednesday) we made the negligible journey from Greenwood to Greenville: Home of the famous Bob
Jones University, "a biblically faithful, liberal arts university focused on
educating the whole person to reflect and serve Jesus." We will be performing the sinful MIKADO there the next 3 nights. The rest of today and most of Thursday is our own, and many of us have elected to have the bus drop us off in downtown Greenville, miles from our lovely, secluded motel, 12 rooms, 12 vacancies, to spend the evening as we please. I saw the Blue Ridge Brewing Co. on the way into town, and am there now quaffing nectar and typing with my thumbs. Let others sip their wine and eat their tapas.
Blue Ridge Brewing Co.
For this blog entry I offer you backstage hijinks.
Here are just a couple I've managed to capture. Not
easy when so many hilarious, inspired people are
around you, just waiting for a spur of the moment. Tuesday night was our second pirates, in a stadium-
seating sort of theater so audience and performers
can all see each other just fine. They loved the
'yelling goat' Major-General encore bit. 11 million
Facebook views yet certain people in charge, listening
to all that laughter, still don't know or care to ask
what it's all about! No video coverage of it yet, but
here is some dressing room humor with me and Dan
Emily Wright, Caitlin Burke, and Sarah Hutchison
unzipping in the Men's/Women's dressing room. Note the photographer reflection in lower right.
And finally. I only put this last because earlier you may not have felt
any motivation to continue, and nothing here is funnier. I present to
you the only known footage of JAMES MILLS in "DANCING PANTS"!!!
*******************************************************************By now you have probably figured out there were three of us blogging,
so my deadline was every third day. We had a HELL of a success at
Bob Jones with three nights of "Mikado"! They loved it! Comedy, especially
with a fat suit and rolling around on the floor, slays Christians!
They love it!
Tour Day #9
March 9, 2013
Chris-Ian's blog entry of March 8 describes a remarkable incident
with our costume person Annette Deli. There is an all-too-brief video
of her at the piano which provides but scant testimony to her excellence.
We were in the hotel lounge and the bassist and trombonist had their
instruments out. “Who plays piano?” someone says. “Oh! Uh - well -
I do, a little. I can play some blues. I’m a little rusty.” Rusty. Annette
has honey-blonde hair. So she sits at the keyboard, plays a an arpeggio,
and starts bangin’ out blues! And jamming! We were all floored! I hope
somebody has more video coverage of her surprise performance. You
can see the video, which I was unable to transport, and read Erika's
and Chris-Ian's blogs as well, at NYGASP's Tumblr site.
Hardly anyone actually sleeps well on a bus tour, but bad sleep usually
produces interesting dreams. I was amazed to learn that four of the
NYGASP men, within three days, each had a dream featuring ANGELA
SMITH! Matthew Wages (Coolie #1) was first. His dream was slightly
inspired by actual events. For two nights he and James Mills offered
their room for after-performance gathering, and Angie was there. In his
dream the party was still going on, it was late, and Matt asked people to
leave. Dream Angie was nonplussed, claimed that she had been kicked
out, and thereafter refused to talk to Matt. “Agressively ignored me”
was how he put it.
Michael Galante dreamt he was at a NYGASP wedding of two people who, in
reality, already have established relationships, and Angie was there.
Dave Auxier’s dream was set in his old, cramped college apartment, now
grown huge. He was searching everywhere for a basket he knew he had
and which Angie needed to do Buttercup.
I dreamt I was looking for a really big room in which to hold some unspecified
event. I went straight to the A.C. Smith Corporate Headquarters building
in midtown. ”Hi, I’m here to see Angie.”
“Ms. Smith is in conference right now but I know she’ll want to see you,
Mr. Quint.” I took the elevator to Angie’s meeting floor where she was at
the head of a table of a bunch of guys in suits. “Steve! It’s so great to see
you! You guys carry on and send a text about what happens. So,
Steeeeeeeve, do you want some brunch? We have lox, gluten-free bagels,
and birthday cake. Moisturizers? It’s really expensive stuff, someone left all
I told here I was looking for a big room.
“Oh, I’ve got exactly what you need! I’ll give you a great price for it.
Come on, I’ll show it to you myself.”
She showed me the room, we agreed on a deal, and hugged. She went
back upstairs to continue earning billions and I left with my bag of
What does it all mean? Hopefully these descriptions will inspire all humanity
to dream about Angie, leading to world peace.
Saturday night was the final of three excellent "MIKADO"s at Bob Jones
University. Man, do those people like to laugh! It was a pleasure. I dropped
a fan once, was late for an entrance, and did three goat screams. Saturday
was also the birthday of Elisabeth Cernadas and Chris-Ian Sanchez!
done on this tour.
Now we are on the bus hurtling back to Atlanta for our final Mikado. After
which it's down to Florida, where Coolie #2 will become a Major-General,
a matron will be Ruth, and a little lady from scholastic trammels free will
be Kate. I have typed enough, am as nauseous as I care to be, and will
bid you angelic dreams.
- Stephen Quint*******************************************************************Tour Day #12
March 12, 2013
We are into the Florida part of our tour. The Sunshine State! Retirees,
‘gators, and really questionable tap water. Last night was “Pirates” at the
Times-Union Center’s opulent Moran Theater, in a somewhat seedy section
every day and willingly hanging out and enjoying each other’s company
offstage. Jim the bus driver comes to every performance, sits in the front
row, and leads the standing ovations.
Laura Sudduth is experiencing her first NYGASP tour, having debuted in
the “Mikado” chorus this winter at City Center. She is the youngest member
of the company and has never done a show tour of any kind. She’s had an
interesting time observing people adapting into their “tour modes” and feels,
like I do, that you can get off the bus or come down to the hotel lobby, go
off with whatever company members you happen to be near, and have a
perfectly jolly good time.
Many types of parties are hadClick here to watch Video!
Below is phone video of the encore from the Major-General song Tuesday night. It features a goat yell, which continues to amuse though I am sure its days are numbered. Recorded by the ever-popular dream girl Angela Smith, who, as Ruth, has a 45-minute break while the girls and I are onstage.
**************************************************************************Tour Day #15
March 15, 2013
This entry will be remarkable in its brevity. Prepare yourself for the soul of wit.We are at the end of the tour and this is the point at which things really
startrunningtogether. It's lucky that our final "Mikado" was on Sunday, omitting
one possible source of confusion with which we are in no condition to deal.
Hotels, bus rides, restaurants, putting on makeup, taking off makeup - an actor's life for me!
Some theaters have video monitors
Our Atlanta orchestra is very invested in these performances, from knowingThe orchestra will be onstage with us tonight for "Pirates," our final
us and living with us and sharing the Al Experience. They enjoy playing
the shows but are obviously too busy to watch us or hear what we're saying.
Some of the players, the ones sitting closest to the stage, can't see us at all.
So their understanding of what's going on is a little confused. Travis Cottle, the trombonist, had particularly warped conceptions about The
Mikado. He thought that Nanki-Poo was some kind of mailman, because
he was looking for someone and had a happy dispatch. He couldn't tell that
Pooh-Bah, Pish-Tush and Ko-Ko were three different characters, and thought
their different voices were just part of Louie's shtick! From what he was able to glean, amidst all the noise, Travis didn't realize that Katisha actually appeared at the end of Act One - he thought someone was just singing about her. When she reappeared in the second act he thought it was the Mikado's daughter-in-law Yvette, but figured out after a couple of performances that Katisha and Yvette were one and the same.
performance of the tour. So hopefully any lingering confusion about pilots
and orphans will get cleared up.In closing, I present you with some photos to take up space. First, my
dressing room at the King Center, Melbourne Florida. A full-length mirror
and a rug! Sounds logical, doesn't it?
A body-stockinged maniac "attracting business" at a
stolen goods boutique
Barnabas Collins and Sach! Together at the Parker Playhouse, Ft.
Lauderdale! An Arsenic and Old Lace tour with Dody Goodman and
Edie Adams in the 80's!!!
The entire Company, final performance!
DAS IST ALLES (That's all, folks)