The show is really starting to settle into a nice groove, and our audiences have been having a ball along with us. What great, responsive crowds Goodspeed attracts! The production also continues to be refined and finessed by our director and choreographer; refinements to the staging, adjustments to the lighting. Since we are officially still in 'previews,' these kinds of tweaks are a natural part of getting it all just right before the press is invited. Those of you who followed my travel blog during my "Spamalot" tour know that I like to do some travelogue-ing along with all the back stage stuff, and share some of my adventures and photos. So...
After the rigors of tech week and the opening weekend of performances, I elected to stay back here in Connecticut for the days off Monday and Tuesday. And what a great decision it turned out to be.
The weather became pleasant and temperate, and the countryside here is in full flower--magnolias, dogwood, the lushness of lilacs, the blaze of forsythia. East Haddam has many beautiful 18th and 19th century homes, lovingly restored and expertly landscaped. A walk in almost any direction around here yields new charms to enjoy. I decided to make a visit to the Devil's Hopyard, a state park just down the road. I took a leisurely hike along a few of the circuitous trails running through the unspoiled woodlands of the park, enjoying the quiet. Had a bag lunch at the foot of the gorgeous Chapman Falls. A visit with the natural world is always so restorative and I needed it.
Tuesday I impulsively jumped in the car and drove to Old Lyme, to visit the Florence Griswold Museum. The galleries themselves were regrettably closed for an installation of a new exhibit, but I was more interested in visiting the Griswold House itself.
This old sea captain's mansion was a boarding house run by Florence Griswold, where American Impressionist artists lived and painted—often directly on the walls and doors of the house. Leading artists of the Lyme Art Colony who stayed at the boarding house were Henry Ward Ranger, Childe Hassam, and Willard Metcalf. The ground floor of the house has been restored and staged to evoke the early 20th century when the house was in its heyday.
The upper floor is a gallery displaying some magnificent works by the various artists who stayed in the house and painted the surrounding landscapes. It was such a pleasure to be able to go right up to a Childe Hassam painting and examine it, and take some photographs. The grounds around the house are beautiful, as is the riverfront in the rear of the complex. William Chadwick's artist studio, a small but charming shack, was placed here and evocatively arranged inside to really feel the way it might have back when the artist worked there. The tableaux of objects made it feel like Chadwick had just stepped out and might return any moment.
That evening, I drove to New Haven to see a play at Yale Repertory Theatre. While I was on tour, I tried often to see theatre in the various cities I played, but our performance schedule always made it difficult. At Goodspeed I have Tuesday off, and can take in a play at a regional theatre. As it happened, it was also restaurant week this week in New Haven, so I had a wonderful pre fixe meal at Zinc, a chic and popular eatery near the theatre. Yale Rep is a stunning state of the art space housed in what was the Calvary Baptist Church. I saw a dark, violent play called "Battle of Black and Dogs," by French playwright Bernard-Marie Koltes, which explores the sublimation of Africans by French profiteers. It is a raw and relentless look at racism, paranoia and inhumanity that was a bit hard to take at times, but beautifully acted. Yale represents the highest level in the training of actors and the Yale Rep is a professional artistic extension of the school's standard. I was delighted to finally see something there and enjoy the charms of New Haven for an evening.
My favorite part of this week was a visit from my Mom.
She drove down from Massachusetts to see me in the show and spend some time with me. My Mom is my biggest fan and was my first acting teacher. She owned a company called The Acting Place, Inc. in my hometown of Beverly, MA when I was a preteen and teenager. It was an incredible education that provided me with a foundation and inspired my passion for theatre. Mom's a great lady and I really enjoyed sharing the fun of "Annie Get Your Gun" with her. Nothing like sharing what you love with those you love.