The actor factor.

Howdy kids. Quick news flash. Tickets for the Christmas Show are sold out ("wait...there's a Christmas show? And I didn't know?? Crap!!!). HOLD ON. BUT BUT BUT because they were only available online and telephone sales were supposed to start on October 15th, some non-computer folks were waiting for that date. SOOOO - We're putting FIVE MORE days on sale on OCTOBER 15th. Rich thinks they'll all be one in 48 hours... so please mark your calendars and don't blame me :) (Heck - I wish we could do more shows... but really doing a Christmas show starting in October is a little lame). Sooo I forgot to tell you the outcome of the plumbing nightmare. Finally - after consults with Bob over the phone, and Larry and a faith healer... Rich figured out the problem with the plumbing. Apparently the toilet wasn't venting. Which means something to people who know stuff about that stuff :) The toilet needs air to equalize the pressure to flush - and it wasn't able to vent the air to equalize the pressure - so it wasn't getting swooshed down...or whatever. Anyway - after diagnosing the problem, Rich fought with it all day - and I'm very, very proud to report that the pack leader WON. I'm was also very happy at that point to be able to go to the bathroom...but I will confess every time in the next 12 hours I flushed that thing I'd be like " please please please". So - now that we knew people could actually INHABIT the house, we were really racing to get things finished.

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Beds started coming in, the dressers, and bits of furniture and lamps and fans and tables and chairs. We got there at like eight am (after only a smidgen of sleep) - and worked with Margaret and tried to clear away construction trash and junk out of the front lawn etc. until we HAD to leave to pick up Jordan and Katie. Colleen (being picked up by Jean Anne) and Issac (driving) we figured would be the first to arrive - so 2 o clock was pretty much the cut-off for progress.

We were working so tight up to the last minute that Rich and I took off for Indianapolis about forty minutes later than we had intended. But flights are never on time, right. And it takes a half an hour to get your luggage and get off the plane, right? Yeah. No. Katie called us as we were passing Roanoke and we were like...um...we'll be there in like an hour :( So the poor thing had to entertain herself at the airport while we hurtled towards Indy.

And so it began. On the way there we actually saw something rather unusual. A mac truck carrying a mac truck. I just thought it was funny.

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We got Katie (slightly belatedly) at the airport. We had about two hours to kill before Jordan's flight was supposed to arrive so we grabbed lunch. At CHEESECAKE FACTORY (whoo hooooo). We've discussed my obsession with the Cheesecake Factory? Rithc? Cajun Jumbalaya Pasta - ordered it every time I've gone there for like the past 12 years. Ammmaaaaazing. Anyway - so we hit the Cheesecake factory (which was freezing, so katie got to an immediate live demonstration of the Jo Jo "I'm freezing"/Pack Leader "no it's not"/ Jo Jo "yes it is" fun-ness. She should have run back to the airport if she had any sense. After lunch we decided to truly initiate her into our lives, and took her to... Home Depot. Where else. And even though we had promised the actors in their contract that they were never expected to do any construction or non-performance related activities - Katie was still pretty eager:

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Although - come to think of it, she might have just decided after lunch that it was a good idea to be armed.

We also did some very important comparison shopping for stools. Since the actors were going to be spending a lot of time sitting on these things over the next eight weeks, it was worth a test drive. It was a little like Goldilocks...this one's too tall. This one's too short. This one's juusssst right. :)

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It actually turned out that none of the Home Depot stools were the perfect fit. Eventually we ended up getting them at Menards with some nifty Jo Jo modifications (I'll tell you about later).

So after a couple hours it was time for Jordan's flight to arrive. Jordan was in a rather unique situation compared to other three actors who we had auditioned personally in New York. Katie actually had a pretty good sense of who we were because we actually saw her twice. But from the beginning we had a very hard time finding a tenor we were happy with. At the auditions in New York out of 700 people there were very few boys that we thought were versatile and strong enough to pull off what we needed from them this summer. Grrr. So instead of just settling, we didn't give up - and kept sending out breakdowns and casting info and stuff. We started receiving submissions and things from people over the internet (video footage they would film at their agents or from show's they'd been in etc.) It was actually remarkably helpful. Still weren't happy though, and I started asking people I knew that worked in some of best theatre programs in the states to see which students they might recommend. A friend of mine who plays piano at one of the best schools in New York sent me a couple names. I looked at whatever footage we could find of them - and then I contacted Jordan. Who, because he was only going to be a sophomore, hadn't been auditioning for summer jobs. He recorded some songs in various styles in his dorm room one night - emailed them to me - and we thought he was great. By far one of the best voices we'd heard from any of the boys. He took the gig.

Sooooo - little nineteen year old Jordan had never met us. He had been put on the plane by his (somewhat nervous parents) to go off to an unknown, unestablished theatre in the middle of nowhere for eight weeks. He was pretty terrified. We thought about picking him up and saying "oh no - you can leave your luggage here... we don't have worldly posessions at the compound...I mean the theatre. And here's your matching metallic jumpsuit. Kool Aid?

His mother I think also was fairly convinced that he would have no access whatsoever to food. And for the entire hour an a half ride home, he nervously pulled out little lunch-box sized bags of 'fruit snacks' that he would munch on kind of like a chain-smoker - but with gummies. It was pretty darn funny. It was his first professional job - and he didn't know us from Adam... but pretty quickly he relaxed considerably. ;) I tried to remember what I'd have felt like taking a job blindly somewhere I'd never been right after my freshman yer - (I had to think WAAAAY back) and I think I would have peed myself on the first day :)

And so we arrived at Peckerwood.

Issac and Colleen had beaten us there. Isaac, since he was travelling in a car and didn't have to deal with the evil Nazi baggage restrictions the other had (how do you pack for eight weeks WITH formal show clothes in fifty pounds and one bag???), brought along his own tv (for his room), a dvd player and two gaming consoles. And every episode of Lost.

The great thing was that three of the four of them had been reading the blog - so I think they're expectations were LOW. Always a good thing! But honestly - I was thrilled with the house, and so were they. Rich and I (certainly at that point in our careers) never were housed anywhere that clean, that new, that homey. Margaret had done a bang up job putting all the finishes touches in. They were so appreciative - it made me so happy. Cuz of the blog they knew how hard we'd been working, trying to get everything ready for them - and they honestly seemed delighted with it and started making a nest straight away... beginning of course, with an obligitory Walmart Run. Actually they all went to Walmart in Isaac's car... but this is Huntington and, predictably, we ran into them there. From across an aisle we heard someone saying "Jeesh....that pack leader is kind of scary. But that Jo Jo is charming and rather like a small cuddly chincillla".

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We rapidly esablished that the boys were very lucky that Katie loves to cook. Since this was pretty much their larder supply:

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As it turned out the girls were quite fierce in the cooking department and on the fairly rare occasions that the actors DID have to fend for themselves (I think the Eckerts looked at them like fois gras geese...they just attached a feeding tube)... the girls whipped up some pretty yummy stuff. So I'm not all that sure if the ramen was ever consumed. I am farily certain that Jordan made approximately 8,700 boxes of Velveeta macaronni and cheese. Seriously - if you needed this kid to do ANYTHING just promise him Velveeta. It's like cat-nip apparently for tenors.

That night to celebrate our new family's arrival...and to get to know each other better (although I think they already determined the Pack Leader could be scary.... DUH!?) we went for a fun meal at the only eating establishment in Huntington opened after 9pm. Applebees. So, Mrs. Stanley - you didn't need to air lift extra fruit snacks...just yet :)

And so...it began.

xo JoJo