Balagot Ba-logs

...It's the little things in life...

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West Side Seder

I almost forgot!

Passover has just ended but it did not go unnoticed. The three token Jews, well more like one full and two halves…so two?, wanted to do a seder complete with songs, wine and food. Lucky for us, one of us is a stage manager and in full stage manager style set the whole thing up, assigned who was bringing what (I GOT CHAROSET! HOLLA!) and even printed out her own selections for a haggadah, AND had her own stage manager copy with who was going to read which sections, what cues to call, etc.

So it was fantastic, and very filling.

Then comes part 2. Because of limited spacing, our original seder could not include everyone. I had a few people in mind that have never been to a seder but expressed interest. So with the same haggadah, I attempted to hold my own seder. There was a lot more interest than I though and thankfully NONE of the 8 people had ever been to one so no one would notice if I messed up. Gotta take a moment though to pat myself on the back because it went pretty well! And I do swell up with a little pride when I randomly hear someone around the theater humming “Dayenu” to themselves. :)

Next year in Jerusalem!

Seder - Rituals and dinner to commemorate the Exodus story, involves a plate with symbolic foods to tell the story, prayers, songs, and 4 glasses of wine
Charoset - Apple dish to signify the sweetness of freedom
Haggadah - basically the script for the night
Dayenu - a really fun song about being grateful

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Final Countdown

5 shows
4am luggage call
3 days left of tour
2 many things think about
1 bottle of champagne next to me waiting to be cracked open

But you know, all things must come to an end. It isn’t over yet, so we will wait for the reflective post. Based on how great I have been with keeping this thing updated, you can expect that post in a month. :)

We have spent a majority of this tour in Germany and Munich is definitely where all the stops are being pulled. Although I have yet to drink out of shoe (which I didn’t know was a thing until American friends and my father kept asking if I had done it), we have seen our fair share of beer halls and lederhosen. The traditional wear is actually very formal and comes in many different colors and styles. What we in the states would consider a costume is very common around here and I may or may not have considered buying one. But it was either that or my winter coat in the luggage so it didn’t make the cut.

About 20 minutes away from Munich is Dachau, the first concentration camp built and used by the Nazis before and during WWII. We made the pilgrimage and experienced every emotion you would expect from such a trip. It is not for the faint of heart and it is not something any of us wish to see within our world and ourselves. It was a labor camp and used mostly to hold POWs, local Jewish men, and priests that spoke out against the Nazis. The main thing I took away from it was mostly in the memorial section. Next to the tablets signifying the “Never Again” theme that these memorials wish to project, is an art piece dedicated to the variety of holocaust victims including Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, political opponents, and others. However, gays and gypsies were purposely excluded. This piece was installed in the 60s and back then there were still discriminatory attitudes towards these two groups of people, especially in communist Germany. I hope that this is something we have overcome in 2014 beyond plain acknowledgement but it was hard not to be disturbed by the hypocrisy. If this is what our teachers meant by learning from history, we should probably stop doodling in our notebooks and listen. It also makes me wonder if anyone pays attention to shows with our theme or just like the pretty dancing…

After a trip like that and the part of my subconscious that knows this is also a part of my own personal history, I had to get reacquainted with Germany 2014. The visit to the castle wasn’t bad and the English garden in the center of the city is beautiful It is bigger than New York’s Central Park, has two more biergartens, horseback riding, and river surfing. Exciting place! With ice cream cone stands! Hooray!

We also had the opportunity to put on another West Side Story Band Night. This time hosted by the theater in a BEAUTIFUL venue. I got the nerve to sing another song and once I get internet that doesn’t shut off every five minutes, youtube will never be the same. All the same, I am constantly in awe of my cast mates and their hidden talents. It was nice to have a night to perform whatever we wanted with no pressure and no gang warfare. But when this is all over, I sure am going to miss it.

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A Dream is A Wish Your Heart Makes

We are well into our time here in Munich and tour life continues to be surprising, and challenging, and a whole lot of other stuff, but never boring.

My phone was stolen at the movie theater, womp womp. Bottom line is it was mostly my camera and all adventures will rely on being catalogued through my oh so pseudo-sophisticated speak…text…words?

I have been back in the show for about a two weeks now and it feels fan-freakin-tastic. Weight lifted, return to semi-normalcy, not feeling useless anymore type of fantastic. I don’t have enough bone to do the iconic Jet number “Cool” yet (why does every jump land on the right foot?!) but I can dance in the gym scene and do basically everything else…in life. Many times I wonder if I had not been hurt and had been performing this whole time, if I would be tired of the show, the routine, and the people. Probably not but I also tell myself that if my foot wasn’t hurting, something else probably would be. There is still something about West Side Story that is so beautiful and now that I have seen it from many different angles, I can’t help but love it even more.

Enough about me, let’s talk about Germany.

Being in the Bavaria region, we are surrounded by a few castles and palaces that were the home(s) of King Ludwig II. From what I gather on tours and the all knowing internet, he was a bit of a controversial leader. He was a likable person but spent most of his time and the country’s money on extravagant things and Richard Wagner. One of those being a huge castle in the middle of gorgeous mountains. The castle itself is a little underwhelming but there are a lot of factors that go into it.

It was built in the 19th century as his take on medieval castles. The rooms are large and covered in gilded paintings justifying his divine right to rule. The throne room being the most elegant with natural light, angels, past kings, and a large painting of Jesus over…a cardboard cutout of a throne.

Hard truth is the people were getting rather upset with their King. His castle took about 17 years to construct and the furniture in his room alone took 14 years for the best craftsmen to carve. It was still incomplete but he lived in it for 172 days before he was mysteriously murdered. His nickname has shifted during his life time from the Swan King (whole castle is full of swan pictures) to the Mad King. There is also a rumor that he and Wagner had a “thing” which might have made some people angry, on top of the neglect for his country.

In this particular case it is fine that I don’t have a camera because we all already know what the outside looks like. This is the castle that inspired the castles for Disney’s Cinderella AND Sleeping Beauty. They’re both the same castle taken from different angles. WHAT?! I KNOW!! We were freaking out. I was freaking out. Because really even with all this controversy, it is a gorgeous view, from a distance. Do I smell a metaphor?

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The Beginning of the End

We have been in Munich for a week and a half and already I have been punished for not updating often. Namely, my iPhone was stolen along with the picture proof that I am indeed in Munich.

Opening Night went off without a hitch. I was at first pretty bummed that I would not be able to perform our last opening of tour with the rest of the cast. Then I bought a fabulous bottle of wine made of Italian raisins to open when I DO come back and got over myself. This was my fourth time seeing the show since being out…well actually, ever seeing it (disabled list perk). Regardless, it was the cleanest, most lively show I had seen so far and every time I watch them I am so proud.

We also were the main event for the Deutsches Theater’s reopening after renovation. “West Side Story” also opened the theater when it was new back in 1961. Being a part of the audience put into perspective how big of a deal this really was. Most of the time backstage, it can feel like another day at the office. A very cool and exciting office but a known routine nonetheless. Now that I have A) been out B) watched it from the audience and C) sat in the pit (amazing experience), I feel like I have tried out every ring of this circus. That night, people were dressed up, there were cameras, a red carpet, champagne, German celebrities, the whole glamorous experience. A reporter even came up to me with a camera in my face and asked me something in German to which I muddled out that I speak English. She then asked me if I am a dancer and if I know West Side Story. One of my biggest regrets of this tour so far is that I did not play along with some elaborate story about how this is my favorite show and I am studying abroad yadda yadda yadda. Instead I told the truth instead and said I was part of the cast. Camera turned off, she moved on. Virtues are boring.

Pictures from the Opening Night performance and party: