Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Glamorous Life Guangzhou Style

I know the videos aren't working.
I'll see what I can do when I get back from my 2-show day.
In the meantime, enjoy Guangzhou with me!

Well Creataviters, here we go. China.

I can't tell you how many times Beloved and I have started to plan a trip to this country. Every time we have been sidetracked. Visiting China felt so overwhelming. We didn't know where to start. All the questions - what cities do we visit? how long do we stay? do we visit Tibet? do we visit Mongolia? do we do it alone? - would stop us in our tracks. Hence, one of the main reasons I took this Sister Act contract was to get to China. I would have a purpose and an itinerary. I'd see at least some of the country (as will Beloved. He'll be joining me for 2 weeks). I am, at the end of the first week of a 10-week stay. The itinerary is here.

Next to our very Western hotel. More bikes to come.

One week in, here are some initial impressions, along with photos, because I know some of you love photos:

I get a sense of a country as soon as I step out of the airport. There's something in the air. My sense of China? Much better than I anticipated. There's a hustle and bustle here in Guanzhou, but I'm not overwhelmed. I assume that will change when we get to Beijing.

The people move with a purpose, but the notorious Chinese rudeness has not appeared...yet. I was told that due to my Western physical structure and blonde hair, I would draw attention. I see the occasional child look at me, and I saw one man take photos of a group of us, but that's been it. I sense that people are, as we say, living their best lives, and aren't necessarily concerned about others that look different.

One of the scattered photos.
This from our trek at the Baiyun Scenic Area.
Guangzhou is cleaner than I expected. The air is cleaner, as is the ground. I expected thick smog, unkempt public places and disgusting smells. I am surprised by the amount of green. On Tuesday, I trekked with five of my colleagues to the Baiyun Scenic Area. We climbed steps, we walked, we got lost, we sweated, we couldn't get a cab, we finally found a bus home, we had a great time. There are photos scattered throughout this post.

Language and cultural misunderstandings are going to be a part of life. I need to get over it and eat the dumplings, even if it isn't exactly what I thought I was ordering.

Connectivity is currently slightly challenging.  Our hotel has great wifi with a built-in VPN. In most cases, accessing free wifi requires a Chinese phone number (you need a verification code, even at Starbucks), which I don't have yet. While there is internet in the theatre, we are not allowed to use it. I'm not sure why, and to tell you the truth, I kind of like being disconnected. I'm forced to look around me and talk to people, or read a book or knit instead of mindlessly scrolling Facebook.

Speaking of the theatre, wow. Incredible building surrounded by more incredible buildings, a beautiful huge pedestrian plaza with fountains and small green areas (complete with walkways) and access to food. Lots of food - interesting, not interesting (hello McDonald's and Starbucks), and very reasonably priced.

I wanted you to see the beautiful ceiling.

The opera house is behind me.
The weather is currently VERY hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday and today), which would be okay, but the air quality disintegrates quickly. Yesterday and today are both rated as unhealthy by my app, AirVisual. So far I'm okay, with just a bit of burning sensation in my eyes, but some of my colleagues are really struggling. 
This was a good air quality day.

Don't forget the green when the air is nasty.
So much more I have to tell you! Stay tuned.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lessons From The Boss

I found an article in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer that merits passing on. There's some valuable ideas in here; it's definitely worth the click.

Don't let the title (10 Business Tips from Bruce Springsteen) scare you away. These tips are gold for a creator like you.

My two favorites won't surprise anyone who is a regular reader of Creatavita. They are Learning for A Lifetime and Have a Hungry Heart. What are your favorites?

You'll find the article here.

Off to China next week!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Glamorous Life Manila Style Chapter 2

Last Monday, after 5 days of jet-lagged rehearsals, press events and performances, we were released from Queen of Angels convent for THREE entire days. During a run of a show, it is typical to get only one entire day off, but we had 2 performances cancelled here in Manila. While I love performing this show, I was thrilled to have the extra time off to breathe unfiltered air and explore the city.

My colleague, Ashley Masula, found a fantastic tour guide and away six of us went on Monday.  The first observation I have for you - you're not alone. I thought I was the only one dying to get outside. Nope! The first stop was Rizal Park and as each one of us stepped out of the van into the hot, muggy air, most of us took a deep breath and sighed, "ah, fresh air".  I know, I know, your idea of fresh air is not a tropical urban environment. But after 5 days of filtered air systems, authentic air felt great!

One of the many impressive statues in Rizal Park.

Don't forget, we're in a developing country. 

Come on, I'm hungry!

Fort Santiago, from the Spanish colonial period.

Looks trendy now, but as recently as WWII,
this dungeon was used for crimes against humanity.

Lunch was the best - a stop at a seafood center, the type where you pick out your fresh seafood on one side and head to a restaurant on the other side (we went to Seazar's Seafood), tell them how you want it prepared and have a feast. We had grouper, mussels, shrimp, crab, calamari, seaweed (tasted a bit like a pickle to me), spinach, vegetables (we're always trying to find good vegetables) and fresh coconut water. I was too busy eating to take photos of the food. Trust me when I tell you it was fantastic. AND...$16.00 per person.

We did not eat this gorgeous lobster.
We DID have fun with Arthur.

Some of the choices.
Decisions, decisions.

Fresh coconuts!!!

We also visited a Jeepney "factory" and the world's only bamboo organ.

Super-styling Jeepney.

No video allowed during the organ performance.
Let's just say a few beats were dropped in Amazing Grace.
Still, a very mellow sound.

I am so lucky to have wonderful colleagues and traveling companions.
One of the perks of being over 40 is the many people you meet in life. This perk worked out beautifully for me Monday evening, as I was taken out on the town by a friend of a friend, Arnel Banas. Arnel and our mutual friend, Andre Acosta, (who lives 5 minutes from me in the States), had plotted and planned to make sure I would enjoy a marvelous Filipino dinner. Which I did.

Andre insisted that I have a mango shake.

Just SOME of the food. See the beautiful setting?
This restaurant, as you can see, sits out in Manila Bay.

One must eat dessert in Manila. Or two.
Cafe Adriatico, again insisted upon by Andre.
Good choice!

To wrap up this post, just a few more photos.

Filipinos love to take photos.
This display is set up outside of MOA - Mall of Asia!

Halo-halo, another delicious dessert.
Think parfait with flan, sweet gel pieces, syrup and ice cream.

Um...yeah, I had another mango shake or two.

The biggest rice basket I've ever seen in my life!

I'm leaving Manila this evening. I have been touched by the graciousness and ease of the Filipino people. While this country, like so many countries, has serious problems, the people are its finest asset.

Salamat Manila!

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Glamorous Life Manila Style

 I know you think I have a glamorous life.

I know you think I spend my days lounging, then being carted off in a limousine to my private dressing room before I am greeted with cheers from a grateful audience.

You would be wrong.

We arrived in Manila at 5:00 am last Wednesday, after 32 hours of travel, which included a delayed flight, which prompted a missed flight, which meant 6 hours hanging out in the Dubai airport. I bet at least one of you (I'm talking to you, Anonymous) is wondering why we didn't escape the airport and head into Dubai. We didn't because 8 hours is the recommended amount of time needed to get into the city and back through security. I did take advantage of the free showers with no towels. That was interesting. Drip drying in Dubai.

But I digress. Back to the 5:00 am arrival in Manila. By 5:00 pm we were in the theatre. For the next 5 days, my life consisted of the hotel, the bus and the theatre. Here are some photos:

OKAY, THE HOTEL PHOTO SHOULD GO HERE, BUT I FORGOT TO TAKE ONE AND I REALLY WANT TO GET THIS POSTED. We're staying at the Diamond Hotel and it is actually as nice as the website photos. The spa/gym area is particularly fantastic, as is the breakfast bar. Oh, and the male staff members put their hands on their hearts when they say hello.

The bus. It's a bus. That is all.
Sightseeing, tour style. Captured this from the bus one day.
Notice the Krispy Kreme banner.
The Theatre at the Solaire.
As in Singapore, this theatre is in a casino/mall complex.
Welcome to Asia!
Finally, we're on the posters in the lobby!
It took me 4 days to get up here.
Of course I took the obligatory photo with my self.

Here's something else you might find interesting. While I do have a dressing room, it isn't private, as you can see here:
Taylor, with Megan and others in the background.
No, she isn't always this cheery, but she is ALWAYS easy to be around.

Even more interesting, we don't use the dressing room to put on our costumes. We do that backstage, in a place affectionately referred to as Gondola Row ( those big trunks are called gondolas).

Did I mention that our dressing room is in the basement, far away from the stage? It was the same in Singapore, except the dressing room was on the second floor. At least it's clean, and, I am getting my steps.

My costumes are in there.

This is actually where I dress, as does the rest of the ensemble.

Aha. The private dressing room.

Okay, that's enough for this post. Next up - days off in Manila.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

So Where IS Heidi?

There she is, in the top row, second nun from the end on the right side.

I have heard from so many of you, asking for the dates and locations of my current project, the Asian Sister Act tour. First of all, thanks for your support!  Secondly, it has taken me a while to get this information because there are many pieces to this puzzle - American production company, Asian production company, a different promoter in each country, travel, rehearsals, performances Here, at last, is as much information as I have:

Guangzhou July 25 - August 6
Shenzhen August 9 - 13
Beijing August 18 - September 3
Shanghai September 7 - 17
Hangzhou September 20 - 24
Xiamen - September 28 - October 1

Tokyo October 25 - November 12

Seoul November 24 - January 21, 2018

I love meeting people, so feel free to pass these dates on to friends and family living in these cities, so they can get tickets and we can meet up.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Parallel Career Possibilities

Looking for that ideal parallel career?

Take a look at this recent article from the Washington Post.