Welcome back, and how fitting we should all be together on 9/11. Our own Joel Hatch, who plays Mayor of Gander Claude Elliott, is reading this blog and as we were getting ready to enter the stage he said he's read my blog. I commented that I had to get on with it--we have so much story to go--and he said (essentially) Too much vanity, not enough story!
I respect Joel on about a thousand levels and he's right. We need more story faster.
We left off with a cliff hanger, which is right where we will pick it up. I said we had a surprise waiting for us when we woke up in the morning, and for it to have a real impact, you should know we were in Gander last October. We'd been told it would be chilly and to bring warmer coats and maybe a hat. I think I found a scarf and tossed it into my bag but I do not think I really took the warnings too seriously--after all--we were in Washington D.C. at the time and enjoying a blistering Indian Summer, so the idea of putting on socks seemed warm enough.
So I was completely unprepared when we woke up to:
That's right. It snowed. Not a lot, but just enough to give me a rush of delight as I waited for the elevator in the motel and snapped this picture to send my kids. I was, naturally, headed to where? Where do I start the day? Have you seen the show? Mayor Elliott tells you...correct. Say it with me. "I starts my day at Tim Hortons."
To give you the lay of the land in Gander, there is one major road, Airport Boulevard, and on it are all major businesses, including our motel and the Tim Hortons. I was extremely excited to get to Tim Hortons (or Timmy's as it if affectionately called) and I snapped this picture before I even walked in:
and then this one when I realized I was not the only member of our group with the idea to starts my day at Tim Hortons:
Note. That is Joel Hatch in the middle, so yes, I am now including him in this vanity. Joel and I not only start our day at Tim Hortons, we also start every show at Tim Hortons when he orders a Pepsi from me, Crystal the Tim Hortons cashier. Apparently this is true, the real Claude (according to my research) does have a Pepsi with a cup of ice and the same breakfast sandwich every day and they have it ready for him #perksofbeingthemayor. By the way, Claude Elliott is stepping down as the mayor of Gander after being the mayor since 1996. I am pretty sure Joel Hatch is a shoe in. #JoelHatchformayorofGander
Tim Hortons in Canada is our Starbucks/Dunkin'Donuts in America. They are everywhere.
Now for a public service announcement:
You guys--GO TO TIM HORTONS AND GET THE HONEY CRULLER. DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT $200, GO IMMEDIATELY AND GET A HONEY CRULLER.
Tim Hortons has some good food, but for this blogger there is nothing better than the crunchy yet goopy, light yet dense sweetness for the honey cruller. I have started a bit of a movement in the Come From Away company. In fact, even Santa brought honey crullers at one point. Santa knows what a good donut tastes like. Don't worry, we'll talk more about Timmy's later.
Back to the story! Once I'd had my body weight in honey crullers and timbits (these are the delicious donut holes, much adored by our writers' daughter, Molly) we head over to the venue for rehearsal for the concert.
A few things about this.
They told us we could walk there, but because of the snow sprinkle and the distance, so we were instead boarded onto a bus. And not just any bus, but a school bus. Yes! Just like in the show! Hold on, I had someone take a picture, let me find it.
We took school buses all weekend and it was too much fun. I love that you can even see our director, Tony Award Winner Chris Ashley (far right) in this picture. We were all there and happy to be on the bus, but let's face it, Chad Kimball needed to be driving if we want to be true to the show.
So we drive over to the arena and this is where I need to really lay it out for you because you are not going to believe it.
We were doing two concerts, both on Saturday, and basically all of Gander and surrounding towns and most of Newfoundland was going to be there. So they needed somewhere big. So if you are thinking big and you are in Canada, what do you think of? Think. Come on. You'll get it.
We were doing the concerts in--yes. The hockey rink. The very same hockey rink they converted to "The world's largest walk in refrigerator" when they needed to keep the perishable food cold for the 7,000 people they hosted over the week of 9/11.
So if they say you are doing a concert in a hockey rink, if you are me and from Ohio, you picture a large arena that does not have any ice in it because they drain it when there is a concert.
Anyone else think that?
Ok, only me.
So yes. We were in a hockey rink and while the ice was covered with protective covering, it was cold, dear readers. Like....sing with your coats and hats on and stamp your feet a lot kind of cold. Fortunately we DO stomp our feet a lot, and besides.
That's what we walked in to (note the coffee cup--there was more Tim Hortons waiting for us when we got there.) I do not know if you can blow that picture up at all, but there were giant projection screens on each side of the stage, and our crew had put together fabulous projections and cameras and lights and the whole sound crew was there. I mean--basically--we were gobsmacked.
The best was Sue Frost, one of our lead producers who basically walked around with a giant open mouth smile the entire day. And I can't leave out Randy Adams who talked and laughed so much that weekend he developed almost complete laryngitis, which did not stop him from talking (croaking) and having the time of his life.
We were slated to rehearse all day in the arena, getting the sound and lights right, as well as our harder than it seemed chair to microphone choreography. I guess I should explain that. We were not doing the full show. We were doing a concert version. That means we had 12 chairs and 12 microphones and one choreographer and one director, and they both have assistants....and, well, we wanted it to look as close to the show as we could without the set, so we kind of...made another show. The actors-at-the-microphone version of the show.
It was hilarious at times. Jenn Colella came up with a way you could strike a pose that looked sort of like standing and sort of like sitting--a not-too-deep squat, if you will, that might get you past the keen eye of Kelly Devine, choreographer to the stars and Tony award nominated for Come From Away....but guess what? She saw it every time. I got one thing wrong so many times, she got mad at me (deservedly) and I had so much Tim Hortons coffee streaming through my blood and was so jacked up that I retorted, "Stop yelling at me!" Which sent her into peals of laughter.
We do laugh a lot. All of us. All the time.
At one point we were on a break and being called back to the stage (read--the far end of the hockey rink where the goal would be) and you'll never guess who was walking around being all official in the back (and by "back" I mean the other end of the rink near the locker rooms).
Here's a hint.
It was a guy.
And he was on duty.
Oh-oh-ooh....cliff hanger! We will get back to this soon!
And a bonus cliff hanger.
Guess where we had dinner that night? It was an official dinner with dignitaries. Where would that happen in Gander?
Thank you for reading!
Crystal from Tim Hortans says HONEY CRULLER.