More About Work, Blah Blah Blah

And with a heaving sigh of relief, the fortnight of reherasals is over.

Both of us newbies did three shows on Thursday and a full four shows last night. They all went pretty well, and I’m starting to get over the irrational fear that I’m sucking like mad and they’ll fire me immediately. My biggest point of anxiety is something that can’t really be rehearsed — it’s opening the show and/or introducing scenes, because I’m just not really used to talking directly to audience members. I’m told that I hide the anxiety completely, but our stage manager observed that I’m probably overcompensating for the nerves, because I’m coming across a little TOO conversational and easygoing. So, something to work on.

Scott is away this morning for his first day at Disney-MGM Studios; it’s a half-day of park-specific and job-specific orientation before he starts training next week. He’ll get to learn the inner workings of a certain Terror-filled Tower. Which is awesome!

Weary!

Two more days of this crazy rehearsal schedule, then I can finally get some rest. The last two nights we newbies have done two shows each. Tonight we do three, then Friday we’re up to our maximum of four. But when combined with the daytime rehearsal, it means we’ve been putting in 11 or 12 hour workdays this week. It’s great for overtime pay, but not great for feeling fresh and well-rested. I get Saturday off, then I start my regular schedule on Sunday (which means I then get Monday and Tuesday off as my “weekend”).

The shows I’ve been doing are going well; I’m still nervous about some of the differences in the games, and I’m just not used to introducing scenes or getting suggestions. At JCI, we had an MC who dealt with all of that; here, everyone rotates through introducing things. I did my first top-of-show introduction yesterday, and I’m told I appeared calm and friendly (which means I did a great acting job, I guess). It’s something I’ll have to get used to, but it’s an aspect of improvising I’ve never enjoyed.

Scott left in the 7am hour to head out to Disney University to attend the “Traditions” orientation — he already texted me with a picture of his new name tag. He was being considered for a job at Epcot, but they were dragging their feet, so instead he’s been hired over at Disney/MGM Studios. The best part is what ride he’ll be working at: the Tower of Terror! When we’d discuss our age-40 plan of moving down to Disneyland, the ToT was the ride we both talked about working. So cool! I’m not sure what his schedule will be, so hopefully we can get both of our days off to mesh somewhat.

Sundayrific

We were planning on doing some mini-golf today; most likely the Winter Summerland course at WDW, so we could get a little bit of Disney jones dealt with. But then, in yesterday’s mail, a magical item arrived: my “Maingate Pass”. The pass allows me to take up to 3 people into any of the theme parks with me, up to 12 times per year. So we took advantage of that instead, and went to the Magic Kingdom for a few hours.

The lines were longish, since it was a weekend day and the MK had the longest operating hours. It was more crowded than we were used to. We didn’t ride all that much stuff, but it was wonderful just being there. We rode the mountain range. We had lunch at Starlight Ray’s Cosmic Cafe, and listened to the dulcet tones of Sonny Eclipse, the audio-animatronic lounge singer. We also rode the People Mover, as we always do, and got a special surprise — where it passes through Space Mountain, we were all, “This is so weirdly bright!” Turns out that Space Mountain was having issues, so they had all the lights on. So we got to see huge floodlights illuminating a depressing bunch of gray steel on gray supports against a gray background. Awesome cool!

I know I post a lot about how weird and surreal it all is, but it’s just so strange to me that I can leave the house, drive a few minutes to Disney World, walk around the Magic Kingdom, then leave there and go to the grocery store before coming home. Something that used to be an amazing faraway thing is now in my backyard, and I don’t know how long it will take to get used to that.

Week 1 Done! First Show Done!

Wow, what a week that was.

Other-newbie-David and I each did our first real show last night — I ended up in the first show (by pure chance) and David did the second. Everyone did the opening rock n’roll song, I introduced and handled the bell for Shoulda Said (aka Say Again), was one of the three experts in a Panel of Experts scene, and everyone did the closing blues number. It was an incredibly fast 40 minutes.

Everyone else in the cast was so supportive and nice! And the stage manager told me afterward that another manager from some other property came by to see my show — he hadn’t seen one of our shows for a while, so like three of us were unfamiliar to him. He asked my manager, “When are your new people performing?” When told that one of the newbies was in the show he just watched, the guy said, “Really? Which one were they?” So either everyone sucked, or I fit in well.

David’s show went very well too. We then put our street clothes back on and watched two of the later shows, complete with drunker audiences and their dirtier suggestions. Charming! We also got to sit in on notes, which were short and uneventful.

After this luxurious weekend, we have one more week of reherasals left. We’ll mostly recap the choreographed songs, as well as learn the rest of the scenes that get played. Most of them are familiar; it’s just a matter of finding out what they call the games here, or what subtle differences they use. We’ll also be doing live-audience shows all next week, starting with one show each on Monday, and ramping up to three or four by Friday. Then next week, we start our regular schedules.

Weirdest difference so far: in the warmup game “Zoom Schwartz Pafigliano”, the actions of Zoom and Pafigliano are reversed. Which really throws me off.

Work Day 4: Whew!

This week has been both really short and really long. Strange how that works. I can’t believe it’s Thursday already, and yet it feels like I’ve been in rehearsals for a fortnight. Today we went over the last couple of musical styles (including Doo Ron Ron, which is done here with musical accompaniment) and did some actual scenework. Most of the scene-games that are played are similar if not the same as games I already know; the names are just different.

Tomorrow is the big day — David and I will each perform in one show. We still have to flip a coin or rock-paper-scissors to see who gets first show and who gets second show; I kind of want to go first to get it done in a ripping-off-the-bandage kind of way, but I think David feels the same way. We’re also both going to put in a little overtime and stay for all 5 shows, so we can sit in on notes (happens after show 3 at around 11pm) and get a feel for the later, drunker audiences.

My costumes came back from the tailor, and all of the pants are now too short. So they’re going back to be lengthened by another inch. Why don’t they make women’s pants in a variety of lengths, like men’s? Why can’t we have lengths by inches? Curse you, fashion industry! Why you gots to be that way?

Tomorrow morning I plan on going out to the DMV to get Florida plates for my car — the title arrived in the mail a couple of days ago. I’ll also take the scooter title to get local plates for that little guy.

Scott hasn’t heard back about a position yet — he has a call in to his casting guy, so hopefully we’ll hear something tomorrow. He’s already been fingerprinted and had his background checked, so he’s ready to be hired; they just need to find the right job to put him in.

Work Day 2: Costumes!

We had a 12-hour day today. First we met Larry the costume designer out at the mall at 10am; then we spent the next 3-1/2 hours buying costumes for me and David. Larry was friendly and cool, like every other person I’ve dealt with here. I’m still waiting to meet the jerks, although maybe they’ve been weeded out already.

Anyhoo, I ended up with 4 pair of pants, 5 shirts, some camis, and a pair of shoes. We didn’t spend all of our budget, so we’ll probably go out again in a couple of months for short-sleeved stuff. All of my pants are going to be tailored for length, as well as one pair being taken in a little at the waist. Larry had us get bright colored shirts so we’ll pop against the muted background of the stage. Nifty.

Then after lunch we headed back to the theater. We tackled another couple of choreographed songs and did some recap on the songs we’d learned yesterday. Rhyming is easy — remembering when to start clapping and when to move where is the hard part. But we’ll get it. We’re both expected to do one show this coming Friday, so at least we can pick which song structures we’re most comfortable with for each of our shows.

The stage manager, Bill, got us both set up with usernames and passwords on the Disney intranet (supposedly we get our @disney.com email addresses tomorrow). As with yesterday, we watched two shows, then headed out a little after 10pm. But on the plus side, that means 4 hours of overtime. Whoo-ha!

In Florida

In Florida, traffic signs and signals are regarded more as guidelines than as rules. You can expect anywhere from one to six cars to go through a light after it’s turned red, and nobody ever honks their horn at any of these scofflaws.

In Florida, the roads all have much higher speed limits than you’d expect. It seems like the entire roadway system is made up of wide parkways, where you can drive 55 from stoplight to stoplight. But there are also toll roads, which cost a few quarters to use, but are much smoother and have lighter traffic than the interstate.

In Florida, motorcyclists aren’t required to carry insurance (only two states allow this insurancelessness: Florida and Washington). But they also allow motorcyclists to ride without helmets. However, if you choose to ride without a helmet, apparently you’re required to carry $10,000 of some sort of special medical insurance, in case you get hit and bash your head open. My guess is that there are a lot more motorcycle deaths here than usual, since the insurance-free, helmet-free cycle probably appeals to inexperienced young drivers who don’t want to spend a lot to get around.

In Florida, everybody is eerily nice. And it’s not the phony rude politeness of Seattle — it’s genuine niceness. Most people seem to have come here from somewhere else, so it’s not natives of the area who are especially kind. Maybe it’s something in the air, or the sufficient levels of vitamin D that everyone gets. All I know is that when I’m down here, and especially when I’m on Disney property, I myself get a lot nicer and more helpful and cheerful. Weird.

In Florida, people move faster than you’d expect. In Hawaii, you live in “island time” — a more mellow and relaxed pace. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. From speeding cars to speaking just a little bit too fast, the pace here seems quick. We’ve been pegged as being “from the north” by one local already, because we’re “mellow”.

In Florida, freaky news stories happen twice a week. This week’s diaper-wearing killer astronaut and sudden bimbo death may be hard to top in the future, but I’m sure Florida will give it her all.

Sunday & Schedule

It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Last year at this time, we were in Florida on vacation. We stayed in our hotel room that evening and watched the Seahawks play. Little did we know where we would be a year later!

I got an email from my new Stage Manager with a few details about week after next, when we start rehearsals. I’ll be starting most days around 2:30pm, and rehearsing and/or watching shows until 10pm. On one of my rehearsal days I get to go out “costume shopping” with a costume designer (as this show involves wearing basically “business casual”). Friday of the first week I’ll do one show, then the following week I will (based on my comfort level) ramp up one show per night until I do four shows the second Friday. My weekends are preliminarily scheduled to be Monday and Tuesday.

According to online tracking, our possessions are currently sitting in Atlanta, Georgia … ready for dispatch to the Orlando distribution center. We expected the cube Tuesday or Wednesday, but we may well get it tomorrow. Crazy!