February 2, 2016

33 Things That Make Touring Performers Very, Very Happy

 travel day in Holiday On Ice - luggage watch

I came across this post from June 2014 on Community on Buzzfeed that someone had shared in the HOI group on Facebook.

Still with me?

It was written by Gabrielle Mirabella, who apparently toured with Mama Mia in 2014.  I'm glad she used the word "performers" in her title, so this skater can glom on to her hard work of making lists.  I bet any of you lucky enough to go "on tour" would agree her list.

It's listed below in blue (minus pictures) and here is the original article on Buzzfeed.  I've added my own comments underneath in red italics.  My experiences go back 20 - 30 years ago, primarily touring Europe, but I'm throwing in a park or dinner show in the US and Japan too.

Guess what?  Some things never change (like #28 MAIL)!

1. Hotel rooms with kitchens  - we found one by surprise in our hotel in Z├╝rich and were stoked!  We immediately made a list of all the "dinners" we were going to have that week.
2. Experiencing famous regional fast-food chains for the first time 
3. When really important people come to see your show 
4. Swing seats on the bus  - I think the Capades skaters may have started this, but I remember seeing skaters try to sleep in the overhead compartments on the bus.  Cramped for sure, but all the length you needed to stretch out.
5. Hotel massage-bar soap 
6. Hotel rooms with a view  - personally, I was always excited for a room with a nice breakfast!
7. Being a tourist - as a newbie to Holiday On Ice touring Europe, this was one of the main reasons for joining.  Hello - Paris for two months!
8. Hanging with the band  - how many skaters out there ever traveled with a band? *crickets* We had a drummer in HOI and in our dinner show in Japan.  As I recall, they didn't hang out with the skaters much, oh well.
9. Having a rental car for the week 
10. Skype sessions with loved ones  - obviously there was not Skype, no internet and long-distance calls were neither easy or cheap, but if you discovered the rare broken phone (both times in France) that felt like winning the lottery.  Free international calls!
11. Family members seeing your show…then taking you out to dinner  - having family travel to Europe or Japan to see you skate meant at least a week or two of free dinners!
12. When a fellow performer gets a new piece of clothing 
13. Avant-garde gas station decor 
14. New flavor additions to the coffee box 
15. Staying long enough in a city to actually use the closet  - see #7 above, we sublet a Parisian apt for two months and lived like locals (well, we tried anyway)
16. Finding a couch to nap on during 2-show days 
17. Hipster coffee shops  - there was one in Dubuque, Iowa that was the best. I think I held up the bus for a couple of minutes.  Worth it though.  Changed my entire opinion of Iowa.
18. Finding someone else on tour just as invested in your favorite TV show as you are  - there was a dancer in Atami, Japan whose mother taped EVERY episode of Days of Our Lives and mailed the videos over each month, she never missed a day's worth in six months
19. Golden Days 
20. Seeing other shows - the nice thing about seeing other shows when you're in a show, is you usually don't have to pay for the ticket, the worst thing is when other skaters come to see you skate - oooooh the pressure!
 21. Adding new states to your list 
22. When someone lets you stop and play with their dogs on the street 
23. Press days 
24. Homemade baked goods 
25. Signing autographs for young performers 
26. Weird gas station cuisine 
27. Playing “haunted” theaters  - I don't think this ever happened in the giant venues we skated in in HOI, but when rehearsing in Vegas, the guy that worked at the rink swore it was haunted - something about the mafia stashing bodies there in the thirties, hmmmm?
28. Mail! - especially before the days of internet and Skype, mail was the ONLY way to hear from family and friends, I was even excited when others got mail
29. Seeing your friend’s name on a wall tag 
30. Playing beautiful venues  - with Nutcracker On Ice, I got to skate in such landmark theaters as the Atlanta Fox Theatre and the Louisville PalaceThey were gorgeous theaters, built in '29 and '28 respectively, and I hope we didn't ruin the stage by putting a sheet of ice down.
31. Spotting your show on a new marquee  - or billboards in the metro will suffice
32. A travel buddy you can rest comfortably with  - in HOI, the better get was having a strong guy (adagio partner?) help you carry your suitcase up the stairs in the train stations (no elevators or escalators yet)
33. Playing a show in your hometown - unfortunately, this never happened for me, but I know others were so excited for this, it meant a huge crowd could come to see you skate
Thanks Gabrielle for your list!
 So, does anyone out there have any they'd like to add?


January 19, 2016

Did you know she can dance?

I knew she starred in "Sweet Charity" but I no idea how well Shirley MacLaine dances.  Check out this video ...

sorry about the subtitles

It's a little long, but the dancing is amazing.  She covers different choreographers such as Bob Fosse, Michael Kidd and others.  But mostly, I can't get over those legs!

Excuse me, Ice Charades, this isn't about skating.

Oh yeah, the reason I posted Ms. MacLaine is I think it's time for a skating version of this.  If you're to skate a new kind of program (and I think the tv audience would like to see something different) one could use skating choreographers or skaters themselves.

An amazing skater, Erik Larson, would entertain us back in the day with his parody of skating styles from Toller Cranston to Richard Dwyer, a.k.a. Mr. Debonair, to Gary Beacom and a few others thrown in.  It was hysterical and I would love to see someone try this again.

How about a Sonja Henie/Dorothy Hamill/Yuna Kim mash-up?  Button/Candeloro/Plushenko?  Or resurrecting some of the most memorable programs and putting them together?  Bolero/Nessum Dorum/Firebird?

Can you think of a mash-up you'd like to see? 

January 5, 2016

Happy 2016!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Do you have any juicy resolutions for 2016?

I've given up on most diet/exercise-themed punishments goals long ago, but this year I resolved to eat more eggs, and with that, less meat.  Since we are the proud owners of six backyard chickens, four of whom are already laying, this shouldn't be too hard.

Writing goals?  Now that's different.  I'm determined to get the sequel to Ice Charades out THIS year.  It's close, it's pretty shined-up, but it's not quite ready yet.  THIS year, I promise.  Some of you, dear readers, have been asking and waiting patiently and some of you have probably forgot.

THIS year, I promise.  It takes place in Atami, Japan in 1989.  Good times.  We still didn't have credit cards or internet yet.  No TV in English, no decent bagels, unless one made a trip into Tokyo.  But we stayed in a Japanese resort town on the Pacific ocean with natural hot springs and lots of time on our hands.

If you want to read more about it, you won't have to wait any longer than 2016.

December 23, 2015

For Judy

Everyone I talk to that's read Ice Charades has told me how much they love Judy.  His character (yes, it is a "he") is the most fun to write.  FYI, Judy is all over the sequel too.

But the real person Judy is modeled after, my dear friend, just lost his sister to cancer.  I'm so sad for my friend, his niece and the whole family.

My thoughts are with you now.

December 8, 2015

Save HOI

For those of you skaters or skating fans who haven't noticed the controversy in the Facebook group "Save HOI" - I'm about to wade in.

The controversy stems from a few posters who feel the latest versions of Holiday On Ice have lost the glamour and spectacle of the past. They point to a kick line of only eleven skaters, in the latest show Believe, and think the show can't be any good.

It's true that the days of 28 chorus girls wearing hats or wigs with gloves and jewelry in every number are gone and not coming back. Too expensive. There's a lot of concern there aren't enough skaters on the ice. Indeed, I called the decision to add dancers to the show "Speed" a bad idea, because I felt the skaters could the dancing if necessary, but be on the ice most of the time. But I didn't realize at the time, that dancers are cheaper, so the idea to add them may have been right for the time.

The reality is HOI, which used to play five divisions, almost year round is down to one division (and the addition of Ice Age for the kids). Up through the 90s, the shows would stay in towns like Paris for four weeks, Rio for six, but now the show run is three or four months in total staying four days in most cities. There are too many other entertainment options competing with ticket sales.

Having seen two of the most recent HOI productions, Speed and Platinum, I can tell you what they don't have in the number of bodies on the ice, they make up for in skating. As in they skated their a$$es off. The lights, props and special effects added a depth and "wow" the older shows couldn't.

So what it comes down to is this is not your grandmother's show anymore. It's a sign of the times of a leaner show that looks like a park show in a big arena. But as one poster on "Save HOI" said "I for one am grateful there are still shows." Me too.

What was most troubling for me looking, around at the venue of the Platinum show, was the majority of grey hair in the audience. That's the part of "Save HOI" I think we need to work on.
Any thoughts out there?

December 1, 2015

It's a sad day for ice skating

... normally, this is the time when everyone thinks of ice skating.  It goes along with December like penguins and candy canes.

But today, December 1, is World AIDS Day and a day to remember all of the skaters we lost.

And there is another skater we just lost.  By now you've heard the news and seen many news reports on the shooting at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where police officer and former Junior National Ice Dance Champion,  Garrett Swasey, was killed.  By every single account, he was a wonderful person.

A very sad day.



November 23, 2015

Life On The Road, Skating With Ice Capades

I saw this in my facebook feed today and thought it was a great thing to post (especially since Ice Charades didn't skate in Ice Capades ... she just thought the name was so cool.)

Here's Tim Estiloz chatting with WBZ's Jordan Rich about life on the road for four years.  That's a long time to stay with one show.

Tim really knows his stuff and he's well spoken ... so have a listen, you won't regret it!

Head Ewok ... that's something to tell the grandkids.