After Hamburg, we started a long period of one-night stands. The first city was very much like Nienburg in look and feel -- another typical small German city. We arrived in Peine in the early Afternoon, and after checking in, walked over to the pedestrian area of the town to search for lunch. In the center of town was a beautiful church -- I never found out any more about it, and since it was locked, we couldn't go inside. Instead, we settled for lunch at a small cafe right across the main square from the church.
The show that evening was rather uneventful, but before the show the director decided he really wanted me to pencil in a moustache...which he asked me to keep as a part of my make-up plot from that point on. I don't really care for it, but I suppose I can see his point..especially since the age make-up I had been applying was washing out in the colored lights (remember, the light designer lit every scene in either blue, pink or red..no white or general wash anywhere in the show)
After the show, the director gave his notes on the bus, which by this point (a week after we opened) was beginning to have a detrimental effect on company morale. This was his final night however, and after he said goodnight, we all went down to the hotel bar, which was also the town disco, and danced, drank and generally let off steam until 3:00 in the morning.
The next day, it was up to Itzehoe, close to the Danish border. Because of the rain and the cold that day, we never left the hotel, except to do the show...after that we came right back to the hotel, which turned out to be more fun that we had expected, since the hotel had a bowling alley behind the bar that they let us use for free. Bowling here is very different than in the US. The pins are small like Candlestick bowling, but still shaped like regular bowling pins. The lanes however are only about 15 inches wide, and slightly concave and the balls are only slightly larger than softballs. Those of us who chose to bowl ended up playing late into the night and had a great time.
The next show was in Wolfenbüttel, a town almost entirely untouched by the war. Our hotel was about a 15 minute walk outside of the city center, so after checking in most of the cast headed in to play tourist. The Schloß Wolfenbüttel was first built in 1432 and slowly added on to, and was home to the dukes of Braunschweig for nearly 400 years.
|Inside the Schloss, there were still 7 rooms that had been restored to the way they had been in the 17th century (and there were paintings on the walls that had been painted in those rooms at that time -- nice to give us a sense of what they had been). By far the most interesting to us was the small bathroom with the servants bell, wig, and gold plated chamber pot...seems awfully cold in the middle of the night, but I suppose vanity knows no bounds.
Also of interest in the town were the half-timbered houses surrounding the Rathaus, and the Trinity church, a baroque style building that had been part of the gates to the town, later an administrative building, and now is a Protestant church, sitting in the middle of the main road into town. Our group split into many smaller groups to eat, and go back to the hotel to get ready for the show, which was also uneventful. In general our audiences have been very appreciative of the dance numbers, but only rarely speak English well enough to get the jokes, other than the physical comedy (Or Betty Ann's campier moments as the diva star).
After Wolfenbuttel, we went back to Hamburg for another day off and then another show day, but mostly those days of rest this time; I helped Betty Ann buy a digital camera, a few other cast members buy the telephone adapters, and went back to the carnival with a different group to ride the roller coaster (this time with my contacts in). The day of the show, I rose late, did laundry, went to the post office, sent some traveler's checks back to my bank account in the US and had a quiet day to myself. The show was easier this time in the Buddy Holly Theater since the local crew had moved the set out of the way a little more for us, and the audience was a little bigger.
|The next few days went by in a blur...first was Remscheid, a suburb of Dusseldorf, and true to its nickname, we called it Drizzledorf. I stayed in the hotel until showtime, as there was nothing very appealing or quaint looking outside my hotel window, and it was bitterly cold. We piled onto the bus early the next morning (after a quick snowball fight..the first snow of the season) for Russelheim, a suburb of Frankfurt, but there wasn't enough time to go into the city. After a quick lunch at the Denny's of Germany (with the appealing name of WienerWald) I discovered a few children playing in the fountain in the town square - they didn't seem to mind the cold at all.
By the time we got to Schwetzingen (half an hour west of Heidelburg), we were all a little pooped out. I had been planning on taking a long nap before the show, but Erwin, our bus driver offered to drive anyone who wanted to go in to town to visit the Schloss, which is well known for its gardens. So, instead I piled onto the bus with about 15 other brave souls (the weather was getting worse by the minute) and we went in...the gardens were indeed pretty - I especially liked the area around the Statue of Apollo (especially the system of caves in the base) and the gates leading to this area. The whole garden reminded us very much of the garden scenes in "Dangerous Liaisons", and we were later told that these gardens were designed by the same team that did Versailles. After about an hour, we were done in by the cold, the wind and the drizzle that kept turning into snow and back...so naturally we found the nearest Mexican restaurant and pretended we were in Cozumel for an hour or so.
The real treat of the Schloss was waiting for us, however. The Rokkoko-Theater had been added to the grounds in 1753, and completely restored after the war. It was a little cramped backstage, but none of us cared at all...the sheer magnificence of the whole place...my pictures cannot begin to do it justice.Every surface had been intricately covered in frescos, moldings, or just plain gold leaf, and it was a dazzling place to be. Just as we were finishing up soundcheck, a local stage hand told our German-speaking stage hands that Mozart had performed here many times, and that a bronze bust of his was in the lobby. This was a welcome bit of added information, although we all felt a little sacrilegious performing "42nd Street" in this house.
Our next and final stop on our whirlwind tour of the week was in Augsburg, in the heart of Bavaria. After a quick visit to what we are by now calling the "American Embassy" (Macdonald's) I was yet again planning on taking a nap to catch up on the sleep I had not yet been getting, but Brad, our Music Director, ran into me in the lobby, and asked if I was interested in going into the center of the City. Ever the willing tourist, I said that I would be, and a few minutes later we were on the bus into town. He wanted to stop at the opera house to visit a friend of his (and indicate his availability after this tour was over), and after that we quickly walked the few blocks to the city center.
|Most of the important buildings had the onion-shaped domes on top - and the Rathaus, has twin domes. Inside the Rathaus, on the second floor is the Goldener Saal (Gold Room) which is the almost the size of a football field...and is covered floor-to-ceiling in intricate gold and marble inlays, moldings, paintings. Another breathtaking room...and it is still used as the main meeting room for the city. We found out in talking to one of the attendants that the entire room had been destroyed near the end of the war (she directed us to a series of old photos in another room that showed the entire building gutted and burned, with only part of the facade still intact. There had been enough foresight, however, to make clay molds of the entire room, and to photograph it extensively. Shortly after the war, the process of rebuilding it had begun -- and only in the last 10 years has it been near enough to completion to allow visitors. After Brad and I left the Rathaus we walked through what at one time had been a catholic monastery, but later became a hiding place of Martin Luther and a protestant church...knowing that all of this history surrounds me on a daily basis is really remarkable...but there was no time to contemplate too deeply, because Brad had spotted a stall selling Glühwien and after asking if I knew what it was (no) he bought a cup and insisted I drink it -- what a treat. Hot, mulled red wine served only in the winter season, and it certainly hit the spot....and kept me warm all the way back to the hotel.
During the show that night, Patrick Clayton, one of my good friends from "Meet Me In St. Louis" found out that his grandmother had died, and our company manager made arrangements for him to fly out first thing in the morning to make the funeral in Baltimore the following day. He offered to let Patrick miss as many shows as he needed, but Patrick insisted on taking the first flight out after the funeral so he wouldn't miss a show. (There are precious few actors like that anymore it seems...those of the "If I'm breathing, I'll do the show" variety)
After the show (for a very enthusiastic group that obviously spoke English very well), we all made it an early night. During the week, we had steadily crept south towards the Austrian border, and the next day was set aside as an entire day to travel back up to Husum, just 15 miles from the Danish border. It ended up taking us about 13 hours, but everyone slept for the first 4, then I typed up most of this letter. After an early dinner, we broke out the Munich beers we had purchased the night before and turned it into a party -- our company manager had pointed out the best of the local Bavarian beers to us the night before and made sure everyone had whatever it was that they needed to get through the long trip.
Next: Husum, Hameln and Worms.