Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Visiting Boston

(Note: The Reagle Players Promotional Photos are by Herb Philpott)

This was my second trip to Boston with Jan in as many years. But this trip was prompted by Eric's appearance onstage in "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat" in the title role. Like last time, we stayed at the Charlesmark Hotel, a hip little place on Boylston, centrally located near Copley Park and the shops and restaurants of Newbury Street. We rented an automobile so we could drive out to Waltham for the show two nights in a row. There was no parking at the hotel, so we had to park in public parking, which we got at a "special" discount from the hotel for $20 a day - with no in and out privileges. So each time we got the car out we had to pay another $20. Not good planning on my part.

Finding Waltham was an adventure. We decided to eat dinner there, so we would have time in case we got lost. I'd found a restaurant online called La Campania and we sure did hit the jackpot. It was tastefully furnished like a country Italian villa in warm Tuscan colors. There was an enchanting private outdoor dining area, but we opted to sit inside. Jan had "salt encrusted whole bronzino" which is a type of sea bass. I had the seared fois gras and beef carpaccio appetisers. Our drink of choice was prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine. Everything, including the impeccable service by our waiter Tim, was perfect. He made sure we were able to make it to the theater in plenty of time for the performance.

We had front row center seats, not surprising, since I called for tickets the minute they opened the box office on the first day of availability! It was great to see Eric perform again. When he appears he commands the stage and you can't take your eyes off of him. He was in fine voice and his expertise elevated the whole show to a different level. During the second act, the Pharaoh (who is doing an Elvis impersonation) makes a production of presenting his white, perspiration soaked scarf to a female in the front row. Apparently, I was the lucky one that night. I could see Eric grinning on the stage like a Cheshire cat while I endured the comments, such as "Darlin', are you lonesome tonight?" I purposed at that moment to strangle him with the scarf later!

After the performance, Eric and Ayla were signing autographs and selling CDs. Jan and I enjoyed standing on the sidelines watching the proceedings. Finally, he was free to come over and say hello. I hadn't seen him since January, but we connected like we'd just seen each other yesterday. We chatted and made plans to have dinner together the next afternoon at La Campania.

Sleeping that night was a challenge. Not only were we both excited about our wonderful evening, our room was on a busy street. Jan needs the window open and all night long a construction site reverberated with hammering and sawing. The raucous yelling of inebriated youth and the honking of traffic contributed to the layers of noise. I had my Ipod on my ears most of the night, and listened nonstop to everything of Eric's I could get my hands on. In the morning we parted ways: me to the gym and Jan shopping. We met for an outdoor lunch at La Voile, a French restaurant on Newbury Street. White wine this time, with a sublime duck salad. So far we were batting 1000. We went back to the hotel to rest up for dinner and the theater.

We met Eric at 5:00 and were seated at a lovely private table on the outdoor terrace. We couldn't believe we were privileged to have this Adonis all to ourselves. Conversation flowed effortlessly and I never did ask him all of the questions I had been preparing for weeks. He was such a gentleman. He had made the reservations and when he had to get back to the theater he excused himself discreetly from the table to settle the tab. Again we were impressed with the food and service at this restaurant. Prosecco seemed the right choice for a balmy summer afternoon. Jan and I both had the seared scallops with cauliflower puree, Eric opted for the soft shell crab and portobello mushroom salad in a parmesan shell, and he ordered prosciutto wrapped mozzarella as an appetiser to share. It seems we even share the same taste in food. Every dish was impeccably prepared and presented and we appreciated the unobtrusive service of the waitstaff.

I think I enjoyed the performance even better the second time around. I was even able to relax and take my eyes off of Eric once in awhile. I noticed that the costumes were very well done. Some of them, (at least the coat of many colors, Eric told me) were worn by Donny Osmond in the touring company of Joseph. I liked that the kids were all dressed in different colors and were arranged on stage and in their seats so as to resemble a rainbow. The show was very similar to the movie. I liked the number "Ahead of His Time" which was done like a Frankie Avalon "Beach Blanket Bingo" scene, with a white lei around Eric's neck. The audience sprang to its feet at the end of the show and again there were long lines waiting for Eric and Ayla's autographs. It was a mob scene in the lobby and Eric had a harder time extricating himself from people who wanted a piece of him. He was trying to walk out with us, but alas it was not to be. We made our farewells and Jan and I left him with the rest of his fans. He was leaving for the airport early in the morning.

Early Sunday morning I decided to return the rental car to the airport, since we wouldn't be needing it anymore. Jan was beat, so I am proud to say I navigated my way back, found fuel and dropped the car. I even managed to find the subway and rode back to the hotel for a mere $2. Sunday and Monday were pretty much shopping and eating days. We shopped at the Gap, Anthropologie, Marshalls and Lord and Taylor. I remembered Legal Seafood from the last year and we had lunch there. Oysters and lobster for me, chopped salad and softshell crab for Jan. Martini's this time! That evening I treated Jan to a birthday dinner near the hotel at a restaurant called Papa Razzi. Jan had twin filets and I had veal saltimbocca. In lieu of birthday cake, we shared sliced strawberries with whipped cream. Our lunch on Monday before heading back to the airport was at Sonsie, another perfect find on Newbury Street. The only hitch in our trip was a plane delay at the airport, but it was only a hour and a half late departing and we arrived home at midnight.

This was the perfect weekend. We didn't feel the need to rush around and sightsee. Jan and I both respected each other's expectations and we felt free to do whatever we each wanted. Meeting with Eric was the highlight of our weekend, our month and year. We are blessed!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Kunze Summer

As all of my friends are oh-so-aware, following the career of and maintaining a fansite about stage actor and singer Eric Kunze has become my new hobby. My enthusiasm has not waned since we first saw him in "Whistle Down the Wind" in January. I had a couple of short but wonderful visits with him after the shows (yes, I saw the show three times!) His summer schedule will bring him to four different venues across the U.S. He will be starring in Miss Saigon, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Evita. I will be fortunate enough to travel to Boston, St. Louis and Sacramento in June, July and August to see him perform in these three shows, which just happen to be some of my favorite musicals.

I'm excited that I will have a chance to spend some time with him in Boston, since we have been keeping in touch. Can't wait!
To see more of Eric, go to the fansite I created for him: www.erickunze.com

Sunday, June 08, 2008

My New Blog: The Bike Twins

I've started a new blog for my distant cousins based in Graz, Austria. They are extreme bicyclists/mountain climbers who are well known in bike circles for their marathon non-stop riding/climbing of some of the highest peaks in the world. Their most recent conquest was Damavand the highest mountain in Iran (18605 ft), where they ascended to the summit from the Caspian Sea by bike and on foot non-stop in 16 hours, 20 minutes. I met with them on my recent trip to Austria and at that time we were discussing my translating their very detailed website from German into English. It proved to be very time consuming, so instead I decided I could keep everyone updated by starting my own blog about them in English. If you wish to read more on their own site in German a link is provided on the blog.