March 2, 2000
Aalbourg, our first Danish stop is on the very northern end of the peninsula, and we arrived just as the sun was setting. Our hotel and theater were next to each other, outside of the city center, and because of our late arrival, we had no time to get in. The theater itself was brand-new and enormous (as all of the theaters in Denmark proved to be), and the show went off very well. After the show, we went back to our hotel rooms and watched American sit-coms (in English) on the television -- almost everything on TV was in English. Denmark seems to be much more Americanized than other parts of Europe, and everyone speaks perfect English - a welcome treat for our ears (and saving us from having to try to learn Danish in one week - we can now get by in German, but the Danes tend to hate the Germans, and speaking German to them is considered insulting).
In the morning we traveled south again to Esbjerg, a small port city on the north sea. We had already changed money in Germany, and so had a leisurely lunch in a small cafe on the main square looking out over the Rathaus and the Viking statue in middle of the square. For the first time on the tour, I ordered a full-size, juicy American-style hamburger - delicious, and just the right thing for a cold gray day (the weather there was befitting of the town name). The theater itself looked like a set from Star Wars - a huge white igloo-shaped building built on a hill -- we expected to see the storm troopers come down the halls at any minute, but all we did see were the troupes of firemen heading to their posts around the theater before the show. It started snowing heavily during the show, and our hunt for food afterwards was marked by several lobbed snowballs. We were all glad to have our new tour jackets that had just arrived (several months after we ordered them...with only a few weeks of winter left for us). When we did find a pizza place, the slices offered were the largest I have ever seen in my life..the entire pies were about four feet across.
The weather hadn't changed much the next day, so when we arrived in Vejle, we once again quickly walked the pedestrian streets in search of a quick bite before driving the hour to Herning, where our show was that evening. After we got back, however, the Irish pub near the hotel had arranged to give the entire cast free drinks, and we were also given free entry passes to the large disco next door (Crazy Daisy's), so most of the cast had a few pints of Guinness and danced for a few hours to let off steam and admire the locals - true to the stereotype, there are many, many very attractive tall, blonde Danes, and cast members of both sexes were very happy to be out.
The next morning, we drove across the new bridge connecting the mainland to the Island where Copenhagen is located, and just as we were over the water, the sun came out sparkling across the water which stretched sparkling to the horizon in all directions. The sun continued to shine for the duration of our stay in Copenhagen, and most of the rest of the time in Denmark.
When we arrived in Copenhagen and checked into our hotel it was obvious the great degree to which American corporations had established themselves. We stayed at the Radisson, which had a Subway and a 7-11 on the ground floor, which was right across the street from a Burger King and a Pizza Hut. Our theater was an enormous facility located inside the hotel (where we were able to watch more American TV in our dressing rooms).
We arrived early enough to spend a few hours exploring the capitol city, and were very impressed with the physical beauty and the atmosphere of the city -- perhaps one of the most perfect cities I have ever been to. Beautiful palaces, churches and statues seem to lie around every corner, and across the channel from the main part of the city lies the neighborhood of Christianhavn, laid out along canals in an intentional copy of Amsterdam. We started by walking from the bus stop in front of the Town Hall, an imposing red-brick structure, and walked along the Tivoli - a large park and amusement park set right in the center of the city. We walked east towards the river, and the old palace, now used as the government center (the queen of Denmark lives in a newer palace north of here), and were impressed by the building, but more impressed with the casual nature of the security here - we could walk right into the complex with out any kind of security checks - sort of like being able to walk right into the US Capitol building. It was explained to us that Denmark has virtually no crime, and for that reason there is only the need for minimal security here.
We continued our walk, and crossed the bridge to Christianhavn, drawn by the sight of a purple and gold steeple twisting its way up into the sky -- it turned out to be attached to a relatively normal looking church, but the steeple itself is like no other I had ever seen -- looking almost like the tower of Babel. Rather appropriate, considering its location, directly across the street from the Anarchist colony known as "the Free Republic of Christiana".
Christiana used to be a government military facility, but had been abandoned for many years when squatters moved in at the end of the 1960's. When the police tried to evict them, the Danish public supported their rights to stay, and since that time, the area has maintained its autonomy from the rest of Denmark. The streets are dirt, and it resembles more of a third world country than part of modern Denmark, but the buildings are covered with bright murals, and pretty much looks exactly as you would expect a hippie commune to look after 20 years of successful autonomy. Marijuana and hashish are openly sold from stalls along the main street, several bright cafes serving organic food share frontage with night clubs and art galleries. At the entrance to the complex is a copy of the statue of liberty made of the barbed wire that used to surround the complex. All visitors are welcome to Christiana, but are not allowed to take pictures once inside. The city and national government are aware of Christiana, and what goes on behind it's walls, but public support for the community is so strong that the government is unwilling to try to do anything about it.
After wandering around for a few blocks inside Christiana, we decided to walk back across the bridge to the main part of Copenhagen to find food (an organic muffin and Alfalfa sprouts were not what I had in mind). The heart of Copenhagen is along the pedestrian street running from the Rathaus square for almost two miles to one of the many palaces. It was along this street that Rob, BA and I sniffed out the perfect lunch choice for us - Mama Rosa's Mexican Cantina - and filled ourselves before the show. As we were walking back to the bus stop, the sun started to set, sending a gorgeous array of colors to wash over the buildings and canals on the way home. That evening, we met Kim, our new replacement for Mayumi who would be leaving after the final show in Denmark, and she has since become another good friend of mine, and a girlfriend for Betty Ann, who has been without one since this tour began. After the show, one of our largest, with nearly 2000 audience members, we went back up to our rooms where we had a perfect view overlooking the spires of the city lit up at night.
In the morning, we returned to Vejle, but were staying in a different hotel, outside of town. The rooms were clean and large, and I took the opportunity to rest up after several early mornings and late nights. Next on our schedule was Randers, a small port city, also on a fjord leading into the Baltic. Our hotel was very "old-world" with a rich history and rich architecture to match. Magnificent art deco etched glass serves as the vaulted skylight over the central staircase, and in the main dining hall are several sketches by Gaugain from his previous stays.The old bearded gentleman tending the front desk told us how Randers used to be a horse-trading town, and had tales of Hans Christian Anderson complaining because the rider's boots were too loud on the stairs. In more recent memory, the Victor Borge family are frequent patrons of the hotel, and there are several photos of the man playing the piano in the lobby.
The weather had turned dismal again, so Betty Ann and I struck out for the indoor rainforest zoo, housed in a giant greenhouse-type structure. The snow was blowing hard outside, but inside it was about 86° and humid - a welcome change. We checked our coats and sweaters at the door and walked in to a tropical paradise. There are two main domes there, one with an eight foot waterfall into a pool of alligators, surrounded with lush greenery (and populated with countless numbers of free-flying flying foxes (fruit bats??), and the other a monkey jungle with many free-flying parrots and other tropical birds. There is also an open snake room, several underground caverns where day and night are reversed, so the nocturnal animals are awake during the day, and a piranha tank. The layout was wonderful, and it was a perfect way to spend a few hours before getting on the bus to do the show. BA and I did run into Lydia there as well, but surprisingly, no one else in the cast chose to come visit. After the show that night, I again made it an early night, because in the morning Brad, Rob and I were travelling back to Copenhagen for our day off. Because the hotels in Denmark are twice as expensive as those in Germany, the producers had the entire cast shipped back across the border - a 4 hour journey each way, when the next show was in a city only 40 miles from Randers. Peter Humer and Patrick Bodd also returned to Copenhagen, although we never saw them until we were on the train heading back the next day.
After arriving in Copenhagen, we checked into our hotel (a small pension on the edge of the city center) and did a more leisurely version of our tour of a few days earlier, including lunch again at Mama Rosa's. We also chose to stop at the Erotic Museum which was mildly interesting -- there was a special on the sex life of Marilyn Monroe (which chose to focus on her status as a sex symbol and her cultural effect rather than on the details of her actual life - a good decision as far as we were concerned). We spent the evening bar-hopping and stopping in little cafes around the city center for food - the cafe life in Copenhagen is much more a staple of the nightlife than are the discos that dominate so many other cities, and the change was welcome.
Århus, our last stop in Denmark, was in many ways the nicest The weather cooperated, the city attractive, the locals friendly, and we stayed for three days (no bus!!), including Friday and Saturday nights. Our hotel and theater complex were both brand new and right next to each other and our rooms were gorgeous. We checked in shortly after the rest of the cast had arrived back from Flensburg, Germany (and I know we slept a lot later), and had a light dinner just before our call to the show. Our audiences in Denmark had been somewhat reserved, but here they were loud, appreciative and fully booked. After the show the first night was relatively calm, and I retired to my room again early to catch up on sleep not had in Copenhagen. Time entirely to myself is a rare commodity on this tour, and I spent as long as possible the next day away from anyone else involved in 42nd STREET. I found a little cafe on the canal and had lunch, and strolled by myself along the streets until our rehearsal call at three o'clock.
After nearly four months, our stage manager finally decided it was time to hold an understudy rehearsal to see if the understudies (several of them replacements for cast members whom had left) were ready. Some of the newer and younger cast members whined about having to come in earlier in the day and insisted that they wouldn't attend, to which Rob replied, "It's not usually the actor's choice whether or not to attend rehearsal." At the rehearsal itself, all of the understudies for the leads were ready and participated fully, but several of the understudies for the supporting roles still didn't know their lines after 4 months, and made a joke of the entire process. Oh well -- at this point, very little would surprise me about this cast.
After the show that night, Johnne (our main wardrobe person), Brad, Rob and I decided to find a dance club, especially since it was Friday Night. There was only one in the town, and apparently we had arrived a little late; there had been a masquerade party earlier in the evening with an open bar until 11...so by the time we arrived many in the crowd were extremely drunk...a little too drunk for us to ever catch up with, or to even want to try. As we had noticed before in Vejle, the youth of Denmark like to get extremely drunk and assume that everyone else is as drunk as they are...which is usually true. About an hour after we arrived, however, the atmosphere improved when those too drunk to stand all left, and a slightly more sober and greatly more fun crowd arrived, many also in costume, all very friendly and eager to talk to New Yorkers (in a sort of partially drunken, very happy sort of way). I stayed until about 3 in the morning, dancing, drinking, and generally having a good time.
The following day I did much of the same, although this time I had lunch with Betty Ann and Rob at another little cafe on the canal. The sun had come out, so I brought my camera and enjoyed taking pictures of the city, including a quick photo of a dog very patiently waiting for his owner to come out of Pizza Hut...but who stood with his paws up against the glass for the entire time to make sure he could see his master the entire time. That night we went back to the disco (which conveniently had a cafe attached to the front for a little post-show snack), but didn't stay as late because of the early morning bus call to leave Denmark behind and drive back into Germany. We all greatly enjoyed spending time in Demnark, and were somewhat sad to return to Germany again.
Next: Contractual Disputes, Skiing in the Alps, Carnival in Munich, and a day trip to Dachau.