Sunday, June 04, 2006

Cabrides, Crawfish and Cockroaches

I just spent last week in New Orleans opening WINE LOVERS. What a whirlwind and what an experience! From Crawfish to Moofalatahs to Seafood Gumbo, I was wined and dined (delicious food!) and definitely enlightened by this southern charmed mini paradise. I encourage all you bloggers to maybe take a moment and read on, as I can promise this to be a doozy of a blog.

After flying into New Orleans, we were greeted by a most delightful cabbie to our hotel, Paul. He talked about the personal effects of hurricane Katrina to his family and friends the entire ride, and I hungrily ate up each word. This man needed to tell his tale, and I needed to experience maybe just a bit of what he did through his storytelling. As we drove along the highway, you could see the leftover residual line on the highway cement walls from where the water line reached. Unbelievable.

The biggest thing I noticed was the overall sense of lackadaisical "lets just have a party" demeanor. A sort of drunk, country, college-frat boy vibe a fun French Bistro flavor in the air. In the French Quarters and downtown at least the sheer amount of parties and drunk people was crazy. Along with doing the show, we went to a number of wine events, scrumptious dinners and festivities, and I think I downed more Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Bicyclette Merlot than I ever have my entire life. And lets not forget Po' Boy sandwiches.

The only thing I want to say about the show was that it was the most challenging and frustrating memorization process I've had since doing WILL ROGERS FOLLIES years ago. But I think I delivered, which for the most part, I am pleased with. It was great to maybe introduce some people there to a premiere work and we all put a lot of hard work into it. My overall impression of discontentment with musical theatre still lingers though, and I really need to buckle down and examine my choices. But I digress...

Other Louisiana highlights...

As I was sitting in the dressing room, a HUGE cockroach (Louisiana water bug?) Casually climbed up and over my water bottle. I squealed like a 10 year old girl. Unbeknownst to me, Mr Coockaracha is a common mammal in New Orleans. Go figure.

Oh the characters we met. From the southern bar owners, the bums (or the "undesirables" as there are called there) to the majestic horses clamoring down the Boulevard with carriage and tourists in tow. And of course we cant forget: Miss Lisa..(see photo insert) a friend of our producer, she was beyond delightful...a blonde southern robust woman, with an infectious laugh, Delta Burke bravoondo and an open, physically affectionate demeanor ( she gave me a head massage at the bar!) She took us on a tour of Arnauds, the restaurant we had an amazing meal at, which weaved stories of the queen of the New Orleans festival, the extravagant gowns, the celebrities that have visited. A side note: My family has always known that I have a bizarre sort of clairvoyance for haunted areas and ghosts, and New Orleans was rampant with them. Almost every building we went into. I got the spooky heeby jeebies. (and cue on loud girl scream!)

And now to the most important leg of our visit: Our very delightful composer and music director arranged for our original cabbie Paul to give us a mini tour of Hurricane Katrinas devastation on our way to the airport. Although the water is gone, the effects remain. I felt such a perspective as we drove down each road with hundreds and hundreds of abandoned homes, a complete ghost town. Few inhabitants in ranshacked homes, and empty beautiful new homes as well, marked with government X's to indicate the dates the armed forces investigated them, lawns unmowed for a year and the faint yellow line on the front of each house indicating how far the water level came up. It was a beautiful day, sunny and bright.. no indication of the devastation this area had experienced less than one year ago. When we actually came upon the levee, the homes that were right in the path were completely destroyed, some cut in half, others just flood damaged beyond repair.

This is my life--it seems to put me exactly where I need at the right time to gain perspective. I'm typing this on the plane back to New York City. Am I ready to be back? Was I ready to experience New Orleans.---it was a profound trip as most trips are. I keep thinking of a phrase at the hotel written on the guest services book...""Travel should take you places"....words to live by. Thank you New Orleans.

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