In the Heights

Haiku #289 - Hurricane Recovery: 3-2 Clave

one two three, one two
this music knows me so well
and carries me home

Today after rehearsal, trudging through New York City's partially-restored subway system with thousands of other hurricane-weary New Yorkers, I flipped through the limited music on my phone for something to drown out the din in and out of my head. I chose In the Heights - a show that's been an important part of my life for over four years, especially last year when I was on tour with it. I haven't really played it or heard it since tour ended in June, and today it was like putting on a really comfortable, comfort-ing hoodie. Just what I needed to put a smile on my face and make it home.

In the Heights is a show about community and family, and I think anyone who worked on it can say they were touched by the sense of family that prevailed in the company. Maybe I chose to listen to it because earlier today, I found out that two (separate) people from the Heights family lost everything in the hurricane. Another member of the original company has set up a donation page here. If you can spare "one dollar, two dollar, one-fifty, one-sixty-nine", or 96000, please visit.

...You know that makes you want to watch the 96000 Tony awards performance ;)

Haiku #234 - Finale

tour comes to a close
you can't live forever in 
a D major chord

The Finale of In the Heights ends on the word "home", sung in a big fat root position D major chord. Early on in the tour, Kurt and I were talking about how it doesn't get much more "home" than a big fat root position major triad, and we have all indeed lived in that chord as much as any hotel room. It's time to move on to other homes and other chords, but this show, and the people involved in it, will always be very special to me. Viva In the Heights

Haiku #229 - New Haven, CT

such great energy
in the audience tonight
ev'ryone was there

We had a lot of In the Heights VIPs in the house last night - Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, Karen Olivo, our producers, a bunch of Lin's family and friends... we had a party afterwards. A particularly great show and a great night. My friend and faithful blog-reader Bear was able to come up from the city to see the show for the first time, and meet some of the people he's read about!

Bear (right) said he felt like he already knew Kurt & Cherie from reading my haiku!

Haiku #212 - Bus Fashion

we are making a 
bus travel fashion statement
the pic says it all
Nicole, left, and Nathaly, right, sporting the In the Heights national tour bus uniform

And yes, in case you were wondering, I was wearing a Heights zippy sweatshirt, capri-length sweats, and hot pink Sperry topsiders... I'm counting the shoes as my bold accessory also, owing to their color.

Haiku #178 - Captain Kirk

today Kat 'n' Kurt
of the starship In the Heights
met William Shatner

During tech rehearsal back in October, Kurt and I took turns at the piano, but often we were both there.  Our director would call out, "Off of Kat 'n' Kurt" to have whichever of us was playing start a number. After about a day of this, he said, "I feel like I'm saying 'Captain Kirk'."  And that is how Captain Kirk became the music department's collective nickname.  

A friend from this tour is currently working William Shatner's one-man autobiographical show, Shatner's World which was in Dallas tonight.  We got to meet Mr. Shatner briefly before we had to go do our respective shows.  He was very gracious, and it was cool to watch him work for a few minutes and wish him happy birthday!  Living proof that one does not have to be a diva to have a long, illustrious career.  

Haiku #147 - Muncie, IN

We couldn't see them
from the deep pit, but we could
hear them laugh and cheer

Ball State University tonight, and the pit was really low, so we couldn't see the audience (nor were they even close enough to peer in at us as if we were zoo animals, as has happened at some recent venues) - but they were a really rambunctious crowd and seemed to like the show a lot.  

On to Kalamazoo in the morning!

Haiku #119 - Usnavi Cake

Usanvi cake with one of our lovely hosts
Lexington Opera House
Look, it's Usnavi
standing on a city cake.
He found his island.

The woman who makes the cakes for the shows that come through Lexington makes each one specially-themed to suit the show - hence Usnavi standing on top of a cityscape for our show.  

Would like to write more about the lovely time we had in Lexington and the yummy meal they served us between shows, but I'm exhausted and we have an early bus call tomorrow.  Hope to see you again soon, Lexington!

Haiku #115 - Corning, NY

Cherie & Alex after our impromptu music store jam
what is that I hear?
the ominous rattle of
an awkward giraffe?

Two shows in Elmira, NY, and in between we have had today free in nearby Corning. This town is so cute - it reminds me of my hometown with its main drag of brick buildings that house small businesses.  While apparently Corning is famous for blown glass and - duh - Corningware, my pals and I had a non-touristy but very restful day of Indian food, an impromptu jam in the local music store (pictured), and getting out nails done.  We found a giraffe shaker in the music store and bought it for Kurt.  The awkward giraffe is an inside joke - thanks for indulging my haiku.  Also bought a regular egg shaker, so now we have two percussion instruments to accompany Cherie's ukelele "Uke-snavi" (named after Usnavi, the lead character in In the Heights).  

One more show in Elmira tonight, then on to Lexington KY for the weekend!

Haiku #113 - Hasta la Vista, Chicago...

State Street - my favorite place to cross the river
Downtown Chicago -
I'd never tire of this view...
Farewell til next time!

5:30 this morning saw me competing with my tourmates for elevator space to get luggage down to the bus, and now we are well on our way to Erie, PA. (And the wifi on the bus is working! It's the little things.)  This week we'll also be bringing Washington Heights to Elmira, NY and Lexington, KY.  I'll be seeing a lot of America the next few days!

I think it's safe to say we all had a great time in Chicago - I know I did.  Hope to be back again before too long!

Haiku #108 - Green Mill

Al sitting in at Green Mill, impressing the hell out of everyone 
a badass bassist
cleverly disguised as a
sweet Jewish princess

Apologies for the delay, folks, but I was out with this one and several others from our show, and I was too sleepy by the time we got back to the hotel to string 17 syllables together.  Our trombone player, Andrew, is a regular player with the Thursday night swing band at Green Mill when he's not out on tour, and he invited us to check it out.  Alex and Giancarlo both sat in with the band, and Kurt and Giancarlo danced with Chloe and Cherie and me. Kurt taught me a move called the slingshot, which we later practiced verrrrry slowly while we waited for the train (prudence of practicing swing dancing on a snowy train platform late at night after even just one drink: questionable).

3 more days and 5 more shows in Chicago!

Haiku #61 - Tallahassee

arena show, then
Southern hospitality
I'll lose weight next week
Andrew maintaining trombone-playing strength with dessert

Played our first show in a big arena - my first ever - at the Leon County Civic Center.  It was quite a trip to be in such a large space, with the band set up in close proximity to both the stage and the audience.  I finally have some control over my mix, since I finally got some sound-isolating headphones.  Trust me, when you have a trombone pointed at the back of your head, you want fancy headphones.  It also means that hopefully what I hear won't change so much from night to night in the different performance spaces.

fried things.
Anyway - so on to the important stuff, food!  They had a party for us after the show, with some of the best food I have eaten in my whole life.  Southern hospitality is no joke - they had alcohol and "heavy hors d'oeuvres", by which they meant wine, champagne, and "food that will make you forget why you want to be thin".  Fried green tomatoes, calamari, and a regional specialty stuffed oyster.  Also more typical carved meats and salads, and an array of desserts that made me want to cry.  The pics don't do it justice but I must go now - I need to slip into a food coma for a few hours before we head to Alabama tomorrow!