Day 3, Show #3: Lewistown, Montana
Weather: Gray and cold.
Scenery: I slept most of the way.
Mood: Going steady.
Lewistown is always an interesting stop. We peform in the Fergus Highschool auditorium, a pretty nice stage with a good load in and a very wide house. The lights are tricky here and the electrics move slowly, run on electronic power rather than any kind of manual hauling of ropes.
The local Kiwanis is our local crew and they rock. They're good hands, fun to work with but you sometimes have to say things a couple of times before they realize you're talking to them. But they love to be involved and help and they do good work.
We enjoyed the largest house count I've ever seen in Lewistown since I've been touring with the Rep, being as we tend to perform there on Super Bowl Sunday but we managed to hit the middle of the week this time! Fortunate for us and them; Lost in Yonkers is really worth seeing - everyone loves a comedy.
The Kiwanians love to try and beat our old load-out record times, but we've usually done about fifteen shows by the time we hit them, so we didn't have much to go off of although we had a decent time.
Jim kept the bar at the hotel open for us - the Yogo Inn, which has a plaque on the floor near the pool that declares by standing there, you are standing in the center of the state of Montana.
So we had some drinks and some sleep and planned for...
Day 4, Show #4: Bozeman, Montana
Weather: Partly sunny and not nearly as cold as Plains.
Scenery: Gorgeous, can we say more mountains?
Bozeman is an adventure and a challenge all rolled up into a scrappy, dusty little theatre whose time has just about come. They keep on keeping on, though. Joel Jahnke is the man behind Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, but otherwise the Montana State University is more focused on film. I hear they're going to be build a blackbox theatre soon, so bravo.
Bozeman is Bobcat territory, the bitter rivals of U of M Grizzlies. A sign on their Student Union building (which also houses the Strand Theatre) declares: No Smoking, Skateboarding, Grizzlies.
We tried to remain incognito and left our Griz gear packed away. Not much to do about the U of M decales, though.
As for the theatre, we load up through a trap door, hauling up crates on a chain hoist, or hand up other pieces over the little roof/overhang and into the scene shop. A narrow, metal winding staircase leads the way from the lower level up to the shop and stage level and this is always traverse with care.
The house was pretty well sold out and we got a standing ovation... so the oodles more of funkiness that we experienced was, as always, forgiven. At least by me.
I do hope they get their new theatre built soon though.
Day #5, Show #5: Great Falls, Montana
Weather: Cold and windy. Felt practicall balmy by load-out, though!
Scenery: Sweeping plains and rocky foothills and buttes that make you want to dive into an old western novel.
Mood: Sleepy but determined.
Great Falls is a good stop if only because so many of our own are from there. Lots of family and old friends in the house, as well as an uncanny devotion to theatre from the more elderly population.
We park the Budgets just outside the back door of the Civic Center and haul our stuff out, up two ramps going over their entryway staircases, down a short hallway and onstage. The local crew wear their IATSI jackets proudly and for the most part they are good, reliable strong hands. A couple of the younger fellows were obnoxious to our women, though. Nora and Marie grinned and bore their way through some harassment and Martha gave it right back in the truck, but the men didn't take instruction from her too well. The older guys were great though, friendly and more professional.
My very favorite part of Great Falls is sitting in the back of the audience to quietly call the show, and overhearing comments. The ushers in particular crack me up, an army of devoted and quite serious, mostly elderly folks who aren't shy about commenting and laughing loudly during the show. I worked with Larry, the house manager, to make sure things went on time and everyone was sorted out...
He gave me the thumbs up to send out their house speak to thank some sponsors, then just as I was about to tell Katie to send the woman out We all heard a sharp, gnarled voice call out, "Larry! We have a problem!"
Never fear of course. Larry was on task, ushered people, sorted tickets and off we went.
Next up: Back to Missoula!