Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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Even Wizards Can Get Lonely

The first whiff of what felt like autumn air hit my nostrils tonight, and it reminded me that 18 years ago at this time, I was a couple of weeks into the Wizard of Oz tour. It lasted over 8 months, during which time we performed the show about 250 times in locales ranging New York to Florida to Colorado to California.

It was at about this point in the tour, though, that the enormity of my commitment began to hit me. I’d never been away from home for more than about 2 weeks at that point, and an early slump in attitude was beginning to hit all of us. I mentioned this to Craig G., our pianist. I thought he might have some insight into the touring mind-set, since he’d done the previous year’s tour of Alice in Wonderland with the same theater company.

Craig, it turned out, was way ahead of me. He knew exactly where my head was at. His perspective was this: that when a tour first hits the road, everyone is excited and giddy for a couple of weeks. But then, the reality begins to sink in – that you’re stuck on that bus and bound to go wherever it goes. You’re not going to see any of your friends or family or familiar haunts for a long, long time, and there’s a whole lot of work to be done in the meantime. And at about that time, Craig said, a little depression sets in. But if you could get past that point – get through the slump and accept your situation – that was the point where the tour could really start to be fun.

I’m happy to say I made that transition successfully and came to really love being on the road with that show. Most of our company did the same to varying degrees, with the notable exception of our Wicked Witch of the West. As the weeks turned into months, she became sadder and sadder, and when we passed through Detroit near the year-end holidays, she left the show and was replaced by someone who’d done some touring in the past.

I’ve tried to pass along Craig’s observations to other people I’ve known who were embarking on long tours, and a lot of those folks have reported a similar arc to their feelings about being on the road. I offer this to you, dear reader, in the hope that it might help should you ever find yourself in a similar position.

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