Abu Dhabi

As much as we enjoyed Doha, we definitely felt it was enough time to move on.  Everyone we met was telling us how much more we would enjoy Abu Dhabi and Dubai and there was so much to do there, almost down playing Doha.  Doha is building at a rapid pace in the hopes, I think, of becoming the next Dubai, but they are yet to have the visitors. They’re way more religious and you need to be respectful of the way you dress, but we didn’t feel this to be restrictive at all.

We were not to leave without experiencing the Souq Waqif.  It was like an Epcot version of the Grand Bizarre without the congestion. Kind of a theme park like market and we thought it was just so beautiful. We bought some pearl bracelets for Olivia and Eliana and a bracelet to keep the evil eye away for me.

We took a flight to Dubai and then a bus to Abu Dhabi.  The reason for traveling this way was that our flight back to NY would be from Dubai. We arrived at 9pm on Sunday evening really hungry.  The kids hadn’t eaten since breakfast apart from a couple of muffins at the airport, so we asked the front desk where we could eat.  Once again we were confronted with the problem that we couldn’t eat in the restaurant cause it was closed to kids at 9pm.  The front desk staff explained that our only option was room service.  I was so frustrated.  Anyone who stays in hotels knows it’s not cheap to order room service and although I don’t mind having to order when we need it, the thought that after 9pm every night the kids are going to have to order from the room was ridiculous.  We were all tired and cranky and this was just not what I wanted to hear.  This is when the tour family happens to really step in and be a family.  I have grown to have a few individuals on the tour who I really enjoy being around, who are good and sincere with my girls and also seem to be quite in tune if I’m feeling a little off (which honestly I try not to let happen).  We came down to the lobby after putting our bags in the room and seeing that I was upset, one of the cast members asked why. I explained that we were hungry and were not allowed to eat in the hotel since it was after 9pm and we really didn’t need to be stuck in the hotel room after traveling.  He said they were going to the mall, to the Cheesecake Factory, so we should join them.  He saved my day.  There were about twenty of us that evening.  It was amazing how that just completely changed my mood.   I know it seems like such a small thing, but after the kids going through this in Doha and knowing that I would be arriving home after shows with hungry kids, at that moment seemed awful. The hotel staff had neglected to tell me that there were plenty of food options without having to order room service. The malls have restaurants open late and even in the plaza where our hotel was there were plenty of other dining options. It turned out just fine. Kids in the Middle East stay up extremely late. Unlike American kids where we’re used to having them down by 8:30-9pm.  You’ll see kids in malls at 11pm on school days. Even our evening shows in the Middle East didn’t start till 9:30pm.

Our hotel was on Yas Island where the theater, Ferrari World, Water Park and the amazing Mall, Yas Mall, were situated.   We woke up earlier than usual to make sure we got a full day of enjoyment on our day off. We made it to Ferrari world at the opening. They had a great deal, buy one, get two free, absolutely perfect for us. Ferrari World is known for having the fastest roller coaster in the world.  We didn’t take that ride, not only cause the girls were too small, but there’s no way I would’ve. I used to love roller coasters, but something about my body chemistry certainly changed after having kids.  It was so nice to have a theme park without the lines.  We were able to go on every ride we wanted, see the shows and still be out in four hours.  We got lunch at the mall and went back to the hotel to spend the afternoon in the pool.

Tuesday was our only other day off.  The girls loved the desert safari so much in Doha, we decided that since we would probably not be in a desert anytime soon, we would take the safari again. This safari had a lot of added bonuses.  A BBQ, belly dancers, sand sledding and henna tatoos.  I must say, it’s never as good to do the same thing twice, however the food and entertainment were certainly better on this safari. Our safari in Doha had better weather, I loved over looking Saudi Arabia (there was something quite movie like about it) and we were in the company of our tour friends.  Unfortunately, this time, Olivia got one of her headaches during the dune bashing. As anyone reading this blog knows, they don’t end well. She was throwing up, or half asleep from the time we got to the camp till we got back to the hotel.  I really wish there was something I could do to make this better, but I’m guessing she inherited these migraines from my mother and my brother is also suffering from them.

Our last morning before we started tech and there was one more place we wanted to visit.  The Sheikh Zayed Mosque.  This absolutely stunning mosque was built recently in 2008.  It’s a short trip and you can’t visit Abu Dhabi without adding this to the places you should see. I was dressed in what I would consider conservative clothing, but they still required I change into their robes.  It was so hot in the mid day heat.  It made me feel quite awful for the women who wear these clothes all day.  We didn’t stay long at all.  Just enough to view and take pictures. The girls were turning quite red from the heat too.

The rest of our time in Abu Dhabi was dedicated to the show.  This was our first arena and with that comes new challenges for the cast and crew (but mainly the crew).  Our dressing room was outside in a trailer.  This was so exciting for the girls. I really liked this set up. It made homeschooling very focused.  I had really started to notice a change in Eliana’s homeschooling. She’s seemed to let go of fighting me and wants to do the best she can. Her reading is coming along leaps and bounds and math has been focused on money, which she is very interested in, so we have introduced real world money into her daily math problems. I give her my wallet and she pays the bill, working out which notes she needs. She tells me what she needs in change and what she will leave as a tip  She’s got a really good handle on this. We have a lot of work to do on composition, but she’s enjoying reading more and she’s never had a problem spelling.

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The show was well received in Abu Dhabi with a good turn out. I felt it was more like a concert than a theatrical performance with the screens on either side of the stage. Audiences are so different in the Middle East. Where we’re used to everyone sitting still, people will be eating, coming in late and kids are wandering around.  Olivia is so focused as a performer, she doesn’t notice anything out front. She still asks me every time she comes off stage how her performance was.

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Eliana has taken to every aspect of being part of the theatrical life. She’s helped the sound engineers break down a speaker and microphone and watched the makeup artist transform   characters. She loves make up so much and comes up with her own creation by the end of most days. I can’t say I’m thrilled to see her plastered in make up, but she loves it, and this is the life we’re living right now.

There were three double show days in Abu Dhabi before we left for Dubai which was less than a two hour bus ride.

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Qatar Desert Safari

We have two days off while we’re in Doha. Time to see what Qatar has to offer. Our first trip was to the desert, dune bashing.  There were a large group from the cast and crew going. Some, like us, taking the afternoon trip, while the others were staying overnight.

We were picked up in SUV’s. Five or six passengers per vehicle. The drive to the desert took about an hour.  The tour package stated that we would be able to take photos with the camels. When we got there we found that we could ride them for an extra 20 QR.  Of course we jumped on that.  Olivia and Eliana went first, so that allowed me to take some video.  They both said it was absolutely amazing! Next, my turn. I must admit, I was quite scared. I thought I was going to fall off when the camel stood up and it takes a little while to get used to the very bumpy ride. I can’t even imagine having to travel across the desert this way, but people did it. Coming down was even scarier than getting up. It was such an amazing experience. I had wanted to ride a camel when I was in Egypt, but hadn’t (not sure why).

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Following our camel ride was the dune bashing. This was way better than a roller coaster. Fun, thrilling, scary, exciting, wow! The girls were giggling and screaming in the back. Clare almost lost it, she was so scared and I thought I was going to throw up the entire ride.  Every time we got to a huge dip the driver would ask if we were ready, to which the girls squealed YES! YES! FASTER!

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We stopped for a break over looking Saudi Arabia.  The view was breathtaking. The cast and crew were jumping down the large dune in front of us.  Olivia joined in the fun and Eliana decided that the only way she was going down was sliding, very slowly.  My stomach was not in it’s right place, so I just watched and recovered.  We stayed there for maybe twenty minutes before getting back into the SUV for more dune bashing.

We stopped for a second time at a camp site owned by the tour company.  It wasn’t the same site the others were staying at though.  As soon as the girls saw the camp they were begging me to stay. Had I known what this camp site was like, I would’ve absolutely booked the overnight.  It brings a whole new meaning to “glamping”.  It had queen beds, tv, ensuite bathrooms and a full service restaurant.

Some of the cast and crew played a little soccer with Olivia and Eliana. We relaxed a little and it was time to go back to the hotel.

Olivia and Eliana have said this was the best day of their lives. It’s certainly up there as one of mine. We may take a desert safari again next week in Abu Dhabi instead of the water park. I figure, we have water parks in NJ, but we don’t have a desert and camel rides.

Doha, Here We Come!

A month layoff back home in NJ and we were more than ready to hit the road again. This time we we’re heading to the Middle East. First stop, Doha, Qatar.

I was expecting the worse from this long haul flight, but we broke it up a little by stopping in London.  Some airlines have food the girls like, British Airways is not one of them and I knew that before we got on the plane. It was my birthday, so we had a good birthday meal at the airport.  We took a night flight, which worked out really well. They both slept the entire flight. The next connecting flight was to Doha, with a stop in Bahrain, but we wouldn’t disembark the aircraft. We didn’t have very long to get to the next flight.  It all went very smoothly. Olivia slept another couple of hours and Eliana watched movies.  I didn’t hear any complaints at all.  They really are very easy to travel with. We arrived in Doha at 10:30pm.

There was quite a large line at immigration, but it moved quite quickly. Especially since you pay for your visa when you arrive.  We were out of the airport by 11:30pm and in a taxi to the hotel.

Our first thoughts of Doha was that it is really pretty.  As you’re driving you see illuminated posts which change colors from Green through yellow, orange, pink and blue.  When we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by the staff with a warm cookie. The porter took our bags up while we were still checking in and then escorted us up.  He was so friendly and asked us to please call him if we needed anything,  The hotel is absolutely beautiful. The girls were so impressed with our bathroom, which has both a big bath tub and a separate shower.  They’ve only seen that on TV before.  It was midnight and although the girls were not too sleepy  we went to sleep so we could be turned around by the morning.

It worked!!! Completely refreshed and ready for a swim, but first food.  We went downstairs to the restaurant.  Food at the hotel is really expensive, especially after getting used to the prices in Istanbul. Between lunch and dinner we spent $170 and that was for two kids meals at lunch and two main entrees at dinner. I’m so glad that on show days dinner is provided at the theater, otherwise we would be spending a small fortune on food alone.

We enjoyed a swim and gradually cast members appeared at the pool. We were all so happy to see everyone. Olivia and Eliana were having a great time playing sharks with some of the cast members and I enjoyed chatting poolside with others.  The pool is on the roof. They close it really early at 5pm.  The girls are not allowed up there after that since it turns into a club. However, it seems way too early to end our day.

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The following day was our first day at the QNCC. It was tech/dress rehearsal. The theater is huge and really beautiful. The chairs are large and luxurious with fold out tables.  The crew had been loading in for a couple of days, so they were ready to start running a couple of songs and sound check when we arrived. I love the excitement of opening in a new venue.

We have our own dressing room and this time Eliana has her name outside too! She was so excited, jumping up and down with joy. Our container of books was placed in our room ready for us to start homeschooling again. (ok, she wasn’t so happy about that part).

Yesterday was opening night.  We were not being picked up from the hotel till 4pm, so we had the day to relax.  I decided to book a massage, my late birthday present to myself. It was exactly what I needed to get rid of any final kinks from flying.  There was a thunderstorm which was forecast to last the entire day, so we headed for the gym .  We had only been on the treadmills for about five minutes when a lady who worked there came over and said we would need to leave. I was so upset.  The girls had not been allowed in the spa area. They were not allowed on the rooftop after 6pm and now the gym too. Was there nothing they’re allowed to do at the hotel? OK, it looks wonderful, but they’re going to be miserable pretty quickly if they can only be in the room, especially with the long hours in the dressing room at the theater. Also, we’re touring, so they’re not getting any of the usual gym classes. They need to have exercise.  I went to speak to management. They could tell I was really upset.  They immediately apologized and gave us access to the gym. Of course, I wouldn’t have been nearly as upset if the sun was out and we could use the pool and to be fair, it’s unusual that the sun isn’t out here.

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We left for the theater at 4pm.  When we arrived we had dinner and got some school work done.  Then it was showtime! It was a full house. 2300 seats filled. As the first song started we heard the audience applaud. Oh, that feels so good. Olivia’s face was gleaming. The show was wonderful and well received. There’s nothing like screams at the curtain call.

The QNCC will be our home away from the hotel till our last show here on March 19th.

The Sights of Istanbul

One of the most wonderful parts of touring is the time we have to see the sights.  Not all tours spend so much time in each city, but being an international tour means that we’re not on a bus traveling to the next city every couple of days . We really get time to see the sights.

Getting around Istanbul can be both easy and frustrating depending on the method you choose.  The metro system is good and easy to use, but doesn’t cover Istanbul particularly well without changing lines between the Metro and the Tram.

We took the Metro to Taksim Square where we could take the Nostalgic Tram down the length of Taksim Street.  You buy a card at a machine to go on the tram.  I couldn’t work it out, since it didn’t seem to translate to English.  I kept trying to put money in, but it wouldn’t accept it.  Well, as in one of my previous posts, I mentioned how nice the people are here.  A lady who was also buying a card tried to help, but she couldn’t speak English either.  She phoned her brother, who spoke perfect English and he guided me through the process. We took the tram to the bottom of the street. There are a lot of cool stores, restaurants and bars on Taksim.  I also noticed a Shake Shack, which I figured may come in handy when the kids need a break from Turkish food.  Once at the end of Taksim we took a taxi to the Blue Mosque area. One of the cast members had told us about a restaurant there with rugs and cushions to sit on with excellent authentic Turkish food. It was fantastic! We ordered a mixed shish platter. I paid the bill and gave an extra 100 TL to get change for tip.  The owner of the restaurant came back and told me my 100 TL was a fake. He asked if I knew where I got it.  I did.  On the taxi ride there I had tried to pay with 100 TL bill  The taxi driver gave it back to me and asked me for smaller change.  He must’ve swapped out the note.  I was so annoyed. This was the beginning of my troubles with the taxi drivers in Istanbul.

My family, Richard and Jason, flew in from London for the weekend to see the show and spend some time with us.  It was so good to have family here. Especially since I don’t get to see them so often when we’re back in NYC. We’ll probably see them more this year than usual as they plan to come to a couple of our destinations.  They were able to see the show twice  The Saturday matinee and the Sunday evening performances.  I took them for a tour backstage.  Richard is a musical theater composer, so he loved getting the full tour, as did Jason.  I don’t think you can understand how huge these productions are unless you see it.

Monday we had a day off for sight seeing.  Clare joined us too. First we went to the Basilica Cistern.  This was one of my favorite sights. It’s an ancient cistern that lies beneath the city and houses two Medusa heads.  It has such a cool vibe down there, between the sound and the lighting. Of course, my DJ self couldn’t help thinking what a cool place this would be for a party. We dressed up in traditional Ottoman clothing and had photos taken.  I usually don’t buy into anything being sold to tourists, but these photos were really good. We bought four framed prints, two hanging pieces of wall art and a CD of the photos for 150 TL (about $50).

After the Cistern we went to visit the Grand Bazaar.  It was a little too much chaos for me and definitely for Olivia. None of us were good at haggling and for the sake of a few dollars I really couldn’t be bothered with it.  By this time Olivia just wanted to eat.   We bought a couple of souvenirs and made our way out.  We walked through the streets of the old town trying to decide where to get lunch.  The streets were packed with people.  We ate lunch at a small Turkish restaurant.  It was so cheap, about $6 each and a huge amount of food.  We went back through the streets of the old town to find the oldest Turkish Delight store in the city. It was a long walk. I’m surprised I didn’t hear the kids complaining.  Usually a couple of blocks walk in NYC and I would be hearing “are we nearly there?” or “I can’t walk anymore”.  After the store we jumped into a taxi to go back to the hotel.

The hotel was hosting a party for the cast and crew.  We stayed at the party for an hour, but the kids were exhausted and wanted to go to the room.  I had arranged for one of the cast members, Christina, to babysit, so I could have an evening out with Richard and Jason. I hadn’t been away from the kids since we got here, so it would be nice to have a couple of hours out with adult conversation. The girls had been asking if Christina could babysit too. They love being with her. I’m not sure if they were more excited about Christina babysitting, or I was about going out.  We went to a restaurant called 360.  If you’re in Istanbul and looking for an upscale restaurant with a view, I highly recommend this one.  We had a delicious meal overlooking the city.  360 turns into a club later. None of us had the energy to stay out though. Yep, I’m getting that old.

Richard and Jason left the next morning, We were sad to see them go, but we’ll to see them again in a few months.

It was a show day, but we had a few hours to see another sight.  We took the metro to Taksim Square. This time we walked down the length of Taksim Street.  We were heading to the Galata Tower.  It looked like Rapunzel’s tower from the outside. As we stood in line I just prayed that we didn’t have to climb stairs to the top, or more so, make our way down winding stairs. I always feel like I’m going to fall. I was very relieved to find there was an elevator. The views from the top were beautiful, looking out over the Bosphorus and the entire city.

On our next full day off we visited the Prince’s Island.  This is an absolute must if you’re visiting Istanbul with children.  We were so lucky, it was a beautiful sunny day.  Ok, so here I go again ranting about the taxi’s. Firstly, the hotel called a taxi to take us to the ferry terminal.  As we were driving I thought we were going too far. Looking at the map, it seemed pretty close.  I mentioned this to Clare, but we just thought since the hotel called the car, the driver must know where we’re going.  He ended up dropping us at the Grand Bazaar, which is nowhere near the ferry. Now we only had 20 minutes to get a taxi back to the ferry, I was in a panic. I didn’t want to miss the ferry cause the next one was two and a half hours later and we would miss most of the daylight on the island.  We got in a taxi and explained the situation, The driver understood English which is not common for taxi drivers. He said he would have to drive us the long way round cause of the traffic would be bad, but he thought he could get us there in time.  It was like being on a car chase.  We were all giggling with excitement and a little fear. Flying down the highway and driving along a tram line behind a tram. We did make it to the ferry with a couple of minutes to spare.  It was 47 TL, double the fair to the Grand Bazaar and not far from our hotel, but I didn’t care as long as we made the ferry.  Clare and the girls rushed out of the taxi to get tickets for the ferry and I paid the fare.  I gave the taxi driver 100 TL. He swapped it for a 20 and said that’s all I gave him.  I knew exactly what I had in my wallet, which wasn’t a lot at this point.  I only had another 20 and some loose change, so I gave him what I had, with no time to argue and ran out of the taxi to get the ferry. I’ve since found out this is quite common with the turkish taxi drivers.

After all that drama, the ferry schedule wasn’t even the same as the one I had. The ferry wasn’t till 2pm. Thankfully, Clare is not at all like me when it comes to stressing out.  She completely calmed me down and I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

The Prince’s Islands are an hour by ferry from the city.  The ferry ride was lovely and relaxing apart from the toilet. It was the most disgusting toilet I’ve ever seen and I’ve traveled a lot.  It’s literally a hole in the floor. I would post a picture, but I don’t want to put you through that.  The sight and smell left me nauseous for a good thirty minutes.  We arrived on Prince’s Island and immediately looked for somewhere to eat.  Clare, Eliana and I could’ve just about eaten anywhere, but Olivia refused to go into every restaurant on the strip. It was too crowded. the tables were close together and she felt she needed space.  I was really irritated with her fussing, but Olivia not eating is a recipe for disaster.  We found a really lovely restaurant on the water and I was thankful she had fussed cause we wouldn’t have made the effort to find it otherwise.

There are no cars on the island, so you travel by horse and carriage.  We took a 45 minute ride around the island. It was so beautiful and relaxing. The perfect escape from the city.  I don’t think I realized how much we needed that break till we were there.

 

We took an early evening ferry back to the city.  We really didn’t want to take another taxi ride so we decided to take the metro instead.  While we were on the metro an argument broke out.  A woman was screaming at an old lady.  Everyone on the train was watching. Unlike NYC where every would try not to watch. We had no idea what they were arguing about, but a young lady next to us translated the gist of the argument.  As we got off the train we continued chatting with her. It turned out she had spent last summer in NJ and stayed with family who live very close to us. I’m always amazed by how small this world is! Clare exchanged cards and invited her to see the show, which she did a few days later.

In each city the production hire a Young Shrek  It’s competition by the presenters.  We had become friends with Lal, one of the girls chosen to play the role.  We arranged to spend the day with her and visit the Topkapi Palace.  It was so interesting to visit the palace and see how the Sultan lived with his family and Harem of women. Lal’s mom, Irem, was able to give us so much insight into the history. We spent a few hours there, including lunch at the palace restaurant.  We still hadn’t seen the Blue Mosque or the Hagia Sofia apart from the outside, but the kids had definitely had enough history for one day,  We went for a walk to see them from the outside again and to grab some photos.

The girls wanted to play Laser Tag at the local mall.  The malls in Istanbul are amazing! They have full on play centers, unlike anything I’ve seen in the US or the UK.  This one had Laser tag, a roller coaster, bumper cars and arcade games. It sure beats the little toddler rides they have scattered through the malls here.  The girls had a great time playing and I was so glad they made a new friend and I had too.

It was our final morning off and the only place we hadn’t gone to which was on my list of “must sees” was the Spice Market.  It was pouring rain. The spice market was inside, so that didn’t matter.  It was so much nicer than the Grand Bazaar.  I picked up a few spices, tea, more turkish delight and Olivia and Eliana got little bottles of oil perfume.  The smells were so good and it was filled with vibrant colors.  A perfect end to our trip. We went back to the hotel to get ready for the final weekend of shows.

I feel so lucky that we were able to spend the month in Istanbul.  We learned so much about the city and the culture. We made new friends, ate wonderful food and really had the time to soak it all in without feeling rushed. With the exception of the taxi drivers (which is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed for Istanbul tourism), we had a fantastic time in this beautiful city.  I’m sad to leave Istanbul, but if this is what our tour is going to be like, I really look forward to our future destinations.

Life at the Theater: Zorlu Center

We’ve finished our second week of shows and I’m getting the gist of how our daily routine will be on tour. The weekday shows have a call time for the cast of 7:30pm.  We go in a little earlier to homeschool.  It gives us plenty of time for sightseeing during the day.  I would try to get some done at the hotel, but the concentration in the room is not there and there isn’t the space to work.  I’m surprised by how little time homeschooling (when they get down to it) takes.

I’m regretting the curriculum I chose and I’m modifying it to suit the girls needs. Math I’m sticking to for both girls. It’s common core and exactly what they’ll need to know when they re-enter the school system. The reading comprehension for Olivia, I find a little basic. I’m not going to go too crazy about that. She has enough to do, but I have asked her to take a little more time on her personal reading. For Olivia’s composition, I’m not going to follow the course. It asks to create web planners and write about things like, what’s your favorite food? or what do you like to do? Instead, I’m having her write about the tour, places we see, history, language and food in each country. I was going to forget the history book completely. It’s covers each era in a page and a half.  We’re covering history in way more depth on this tour, but she likes the book. It takes her about 30 minutes a couple of times a week, so she wants to keep it up.  Science, we’re following, but honestly, I didn’t like science the first time around and it hasn’t changed.

For Eliana’s reading and comprehension I’m sticking with the curriculum.  She only made it into her grade by a few days. She’s the youngest in the class and definitely needing more help. We’ve already had our fair share of outbursts from her getting frustrated.  Composition was proving to be a real problem.  She would be asked to write a story and given a list of subjects.  She just couldn’t even start. She just kept crying that she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t think of anything to write. I just threw my hands up and said “forget writing about these subjects, just write about anything you want to”  Again, she said she couldn’t think of anything. I suggested other subjects and tried to start her off, but then she got annoyed and said that it was my story.  We both got really frustrated and I just wanted to pull my hair out.  I told Clare about this.  The next day Clare came into our room and told Eliana her walls in her office were too bare,  She needed some artwork and stories for her wall.  Eliana sat down and instantly wrote a story with a drawing to accompany it.  Creative and neat! Why didn’t I think of that? Now she has been given the task of writing stories for the other walls. She’s kept this up daily and we’re all enjoying her stories.  Olivia loves writing fiction, so she’s started writing a story about each character in Shrek before they were evicted from Duloc.

The dressing room has become a very multi functional room.  It’s now been transformed into an airport. Boxes have been arranged as aircraft and members of cast and crew have been coming to take flight to the girls new land called “The Land of Doey”.   It’s hysterical to see full grown adults squeezed into little boxes taking the ever so fast ride ;).  I love this about theater people. They can continue to play as children so easily. In fact, it’s hard to tell who was enjoying the ride more.  There are refreshments served and in flight entertainment.

Backstage also has it’s fair share of fun.  Olivia plays clapping games with crew just before she goes on stage. Eliana loves being backstage and knows the entire show, she likes to sing the opening quietly into my ear.  She’s also likes to bring the wig backstage for Olivia’s quick change and to return the wireless mic at the end of the show.  By far my favorite part of being backstage are the moments Olivia and the Assistant Stage Manager, Shelby, have together.  After Olivia has her quick change back to Young Fiona for bows, I leave her stage right and head over to stage left where she’ll come off.  I watch them both dancing together for the final song. It’s so entertaining.  They look like they’re absolutely loving it!

I do love watching Olivia from the sidelines. At nine years old it’s wonderful to see how professional she has become.  She always asks me how her performance was. She’s so consistent, she really doesn’t need to worry, but it’s good that she does… I guess.

MiniaTurk

 

A wonderful opening weekend.  The show is absolutely amazing!  Now we have a much needed day off! It’s been 9 days since we had a day off and we’ve been in the theater for eleven hour days. I was thinking maybe we would just lay in bed watching movies, but they’ve had a lot of sitting around watching Netflix while in the dressing room. They need air. We all had a great sleep. In bed at 11:30pm and slept through till 11:30am.

We decided to take a trip to MiniaTurk.  It’s a park with 122 model structures of sights around Istanbul and the rest of Turkey.  The girls were expecting them to be a lot smaller than they were. As soon as they saw the park they were so excited.  There was a maze which they loved finding their way out of and a playground too.  Olivia was so interested in the history of the buildings.  There was certainly more than they could absorb, but it really was a good place to see before seeing some of these buildings in actual scale.  They also had a simulated helicopter ride which we went on.  It was in two segments.  The first being Istanbul and the second Turkey.  We were the only people in there. Not at all like the Empire State Sky Ride, or Disney, where we would’ve lined up for hours. As we passed different buildings on the ride the girls would say “we just saw that” with excitement. We took a taxi back to the hotel.

Both girls wanted Chinese. I asked the front desk if there was one close.  There was one only a few doors away.  We had a good meal there and it was super cheap, not that Chinese is expensive anywhere.  We had a nice evening in watching The Witches and an early night to sleep.

Opening Night

Finally, after an exhausting tech, it’s opening night.  Last night we finished tech at 11pm.  We were told we would be getting the bus back to the theater at 10:30am.  Olivia almost burst into tears.  She was so tired and she really doesn’t do well with not enough sleep.  I know some kids who are fine with little sleep and I think that goes for most of the kids in this industry, but it’s definitely not the case with Olivia and one of the only things that makes me thinks she’s not well suited for the life of the child actress.  Also, for the past two days she’s just not eating properly. She’s lost her appetite, but get’s hungry when it’s impossible for me to get her anything other than junk (muffins, cookies), so by the time she can eat a proper meal again, she’s not hungry.

I woke Olivia up at 9:30am for breakfast and to get ready for the bus.  As I had thought, there really was no need for us to be there.  She wasn’t needed till final dress rehearsal at 3pm.  I really wish I had played the mommy card and said she needed to sleep to be at her best for opening night.  Olivia wouldn’t eat lunch, but halfway through dress rehearsal said she was hungry and needed a snack, but didn’t want a meal. I got her a chocolate muffin.  By the time the dress rehearsal ended she just couldn’t stay awake and had a headache. Eliana and I left her in the dressing room to take a nap. She didn’t want any medicine for her headache.  When I came back an hour later I knew we had a problem.  Olivia had zero energy, looked miserable and I could tell her head really hurt. I made her take some advil, but I knew this ends up with only a couple of outcomes.  She either needs to sleep for an extended period, or she’s going to throw up.  I spoke with Clare, but Olivia told her she will make it on stage no matter what.  We were one song before Olivia was due to go on stage (Duloc) and she suddenly threw up. It was like a horror movie and covered nearly the entire bathroom.  I’ve never seen anything like that. It was all over her dress and her tights.  Eliana ran for help, but somehow managed to stay backstage chatting. I realized she wasn’t coming back, so I called Lindsay (Fiona) from the dressing room next to us.  I really didn’t want to bother her.  A minute later we had wardrobe in the dressing room and the tour manager.  I cleaned Olivia up as best I could and off she went to the stage.  The thing about Olivia when she gets like that, is that as soon as she’s thrown up, she’s completely back to normal.  She managed to perform beautifully, despite the major wardrobe malfunction.  As soon as she came off stage wardrobe took the dress away to clean.  It appeared again after half time, perfect…Magic!  The rest of the show went just fine for Olivia. She played Grumpy, and took her bow.

There was an opening night party.  Olivia and of course Eliana, didn’t want to miss that.  I said they could go for a little while, but they needed to get back to the hotel to sleep.  The girls wore beautiful dresses and felt like princesses when they walked into the lounge vibe party.  It was a beautiful event.  Not at all for kids.  Eliana commented “this is not a kids party” I don’t know what she was expecting.  We stayed for about thirty minutes and went back to the hotel to bed. Not at all the opening I would’ve liked for Olivia, but it all worked out in the end.