The DL. The 411.
Sit down, relax, grab a drink and get ready to hear all about the spills chills and aches of this past weekend. This will be a long post as I want to put as much as I can remember into as possible. However as I sit here at my desk, I have dozed off once or twice already.
Thursday morning is where we will start. When I got the first of many production schedules, we were to be at the arena for 5:30 AM. I was spared that by a phone call around 7 PM Wednesday night saying, no we get to go in at 9 AM. Well that is a HUGE difference. I kept my alarms set for the normal time as I wanted to pack up my backpack with some things I may or may not need, and as we all know how much I love the public transportation around here, I wanted to get on a bus that would get to the arena at the assigned time. I was out of my house at 7:30 AM, arriving at the arena at 8:00 AM. An hour ahead of the call time. I found a little café across from the Superdome and had the first of many cups of coffee. I made my way to the arena around 8:30 and saw the hustle and the bustle as they were loading in all the lights, sound, and stage. I made my way to the production office where I met some of the PA’s and office staff. I was given a tour of the arena and the rehearsal room. We then sat down with the Stage Manager and the Assistant Stage Manager (ASM). See they brought down their own people to work the show, they knew they would need a few more ASM’s so they hired someone locally who in turn got me the gig. I was the 2nd ASM to the main ASM. At that point they walked us through the show, explaining the set, and how the general flow was going to go. We were then asked to go and mark out the stage in the rehearsal room. Of course the room we were using was smaller than the actual stage, so we scaled down for the purpose of fitting in the room. The purpose of marking out the stage was so when the actresses rehearsed, they had a general feel of where things were. We were in the middle of this when we were asked to come and help sort out the dressing rooms, green room, hair and make up rooms. Basically make sure that there were enough seats in each room. It turned into a small headache, as the saying goes “to many cooks in the kitchen” With that sorted out we finished taping up the rehearsal room. We were waiting for our next marching orders when we were told that we were going to get to go home for the night. It was 5:30 at this point and the reasoning for letting us leave was that we were going to be doing so much more in the upcoming days and they didn’t want us to burn out to fast. Most of the day was “hurry up and wait”, we knew it was about to get crazy. I journeyed off to meet Jessica and the D.C. Krewe at Snug Harbor for a quick bite and then to d.b.a and the Maple Leaf.
Friday morning our call was also for 9 AM. This time I had a ride, as the other 2 ASM’s were showing up on this day and one lives nearby. Again the day started out the same. We gave the two new ASM’s the tour of the arena, gave them the lowdown at what was going to happen. It was more of the hurry up and wait, then the fun started. Turns out that they didn’t have enough talent escorts so we went into a mad dash to track down people we knew who may be available to sit at the hotel and make sure the actresses got in their cars and help them with anything they needed. The one person I did call mentioned she was going to the Quarter, I had forgotten all about FQF for a bit. I was assigned the fun task of going over the Superdome to find some allergy medicine for one the actresses rehearsing in the rehearsal room. We didn’t have medical in the Arena but the Superdome did. Of course the “Super Love” portion of the weekend was happening over there. Every security guard and person with the Dome directed me up the 3rd level to find medical. I get up there and no, it really wasn’t what we needed. I didn’t need the health lounge that was offering free HIV testing, information about pregnancies, free blood pressure test, all the good stuff you would find at a convention. I finally tracked down a medical room and no one was there. As I am waiting for the assigned person to be radioed and told to come up to where we were I get a text message from the arena (my radio wasn’t working over there) that I needed to go section 133 locker room 4. So I head down there to discover that there was no one in that room either, and I knew there wasn’t a locker room on level 1. So back up I went to the 3rd level. Or so I thought. See I had taken the elevator down with a “Super Love” staff member but she was called off to somewhere else. I get back on the elevator and ask for the 3rd level. Yes they have an elevator operator. When the doors opened up it didn’t look right, and I made a comment about it, but the older gentleman working said “no this is right” well it wasn’t, I was up much higher than I had been. Rather than arguing, I found the closest exit and ran down the ramps until I got to the right level. Luckily I was finally able to locate the medical personal just to find out that they didn’t have allergy medicine. So I text back to the arena this news only to find out that they had also sent someone to the drug store. I made my way back down to the Superdome floor where they were just starting the “Super Love” day. Up on stage they had some Native Americans fancy and traditional dancers. I stopped in took in the moment. It was back to the arena for some more “hurry up and wait”. Our next big task was herding in the members of the choir. It was originally to be 200+ choir but ended up being only like 100+. We then joined in the rehearsals of Charmaine Neville, Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill. We mainly just watched the rehearsals, every once in awhile a few of us were called onstage to take down the names of the choir members that would be onstage. We taped the stairs so that they were more visible, and put names on the choir chairs. We were finally released around 10 PM. I made my way to the Maple Leaf and sold merch for Bonerama. My main plans had been to go, set up the merch, maybe stay for the first set then have my housemate or Jessica sell merch for the rest of the night. However I was having too much fun, there were a ton of people that I knew there. The bar was packed and the sound was awesome. I did take off as soon as it was possible when the band was done. I arrived back to my house around 3 AM. I knew that the next day was going to be long.
Our call for Saturday was for 7:45 AM. My ride picked me up at 6:30. We were able to load up on iced coffee and be there with bells on. This was it. Everything we needed to know about the performance that night was to come at us in a flying manner. We spent the morning getting the chairs for the actresses ready (all the ladies sat around the stage which was in the round) taping their names on the chairs making sure we had enough. Honestly this day becomes a bit of blur. I was on my way back to the production office from running an errand of some sort when I ran into some of my fellow ASMs. They were discussing out to remove the black draping from what was to be Oprah’s dressing room. Why? Oprah was not coming. That is right. The lady who was the biggest draw to the entire event (for most people the event in itself should have been a draw but that is for another time) there was a monologue written especially for her. The official story is she was sick. This wasn’t the case, but it’s not my place to say in a public forum why she didn’t show up. Let me just say that the little respect that I had for her is no longer there. Let me a quick moment to explain something.. All the actresses were there because they wanted to be there. They wanted to take part in this amazing event. To raise awareness on the V-Day organization. They flew themselves out, they paid for their own hotel, they did not get paid to do this. They were committed to being there and supporting Eve and her journey to help women. Anyway. So we are taking down the draping and cleaning out the dressing room so we can put someone else in there. The producer of the whole thing wanders by and asks what we are doing. Turns out he didn’t know that Oprah had pulled out and here we the ASMs were the ones to break it to him. It turned into a controlled mass chaos for a bit, then it was time for the cue to cue rehearsal with the entire cast. In this mad cue to cue rehearsal I kept getting pulled to go over to hair and makeup and see how they were doing, then walk the actresses who were done with their part over there. So in a sense I didn’t do my jobs during the cue to cue. The only things I did do were the mic set ups for the choir, but as soon as I was done it was back to the hair and make up rooms and escorting. The house was to open at 6:30; we finished the cue to cue at 6:00. We had time to shovel food in our mouths, go over our duties one more time really fast, make sure there was water available for the actresses and the next thing you know, we were at ten minutes. The arena wasn’t sold out however there were a lot of people there. There was no backstage area for the ASMs to hang out in waiting for our next cue so we had to find spots in the aisles. I was a bit luckier as I was next to the choir band and was in a way able to blend in with them. One of the other ASMs (our local lead) spotted Dylan McDermott walking through the audience. Hot damn that man is beautiful! We given a 5 minute warning so I got an usher to shoo the women scrambling for pictures and autographs from Dylan. And then the show started. Our first cue was to pull the silk fabric off the stage in which Eve was lying underneath. Then we were off and running. My main job was to make sure that when the actresses in my section were almost up to let them know, to tell them when it was time to go up on the stage and help them up the stairs. There were a few mic placements done, helping change out a microphone that didn’t want to work and trying to make the show move smoothly which it did. The only part I was nervous about was really out of my control. See sitting with the actresses were some activists from all over the world. Some of them didn’t speak English. This was some of the ladies first trip out of the US, some out of their countries. They were going to be given flowers as they walked across the stage. As their name flashed up on the screen. We never rehearsed this. In the end we go the activists up all at once and then just had them walk up on stage. I am pretty sure it wasn’t on cue. As fast as it started? It was over. The energy in the hallway leading to the greenroom was exploding as the actresses cheered each other on. It was a fantastic moment. I found myself standing next to Val Kilmer as it happened. We ended our evening sometime after 1 AM.
Now for the “gossip” of the show. The nicest actress? Didi Conn. Ya know. Frenchy from Grease. She just wanted to chat the whole time with us. I wanted her in my section, but alas she was not. The one with the most attitude and most diva like? Jennifer Hudson. Jane Fonda was eating in catering with the crew and production people, hanging out with us. The lady can rock out a pink jump suit like NO one else’s business. Kerry Washington has a very infectious laugh. Rosario Dawson was so excited and happy to be there she was practically bouncing off the walls. Faith Hill is really as sweet as everyone says she is. Jennifer Beales and Christina Lahti are smoking hot. Doris Roberts is fantastic. They were just all so nice. Really, truly and honestly. Since we were working there was to be no autographs or pictures which in the end was just fine with me. There was a documentary being filmed so hopefully we will be able to get our hands on that as well. The only person I really was hoping to have a conversation with was Eve herself. That didn’t happen, as she is a very busy lady. She did say hi and good bye. Overall this experience was a pretty fantastic one. Yes things didn’t go smoothly as planned, yes there were rough moments. But I wouldn’t change it for the world! If you do want to see some pictures, Getty Images
has some up. Scroll part way down and then go to town. It is about 2 pages worth!!