So this is how it all went down… It’s May 18th. Summer hasn’t officially started yet and it’s the middle of the work day. A message arrives in my Facebook inbox from Jen. “So my dreams of wanting to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been answered. Guess what’s happening in Cleveland this December?” Only one thing comes to mind in this instance. Gutenberg? Sure. But more importantly? PARTY BUS. We were almost definitely going to go because, come on. But Cleveland, not far enough to warrant air travel was enough away that we would need some extra people. People who could split up driving time and pump us up on our way to rock n' roll. In other words, a PARTY BUS. I respond to Jen with my suggestion. She doesn't think it's great. I think she's crazy. You know what ISN'T crazy? A party bus. Cut to December 12th, 7 months later. It's 8:30 on a Saturday morning. Jen and I are driving a rented Ford Focus with nothing but luggage and Entenmann's donuts in the back seat. As I had learned earlier, no one thinks driving 16 hours to and from Cleveland in a party bus is something worth their time. Idiots. But screw 'em -- Jen and I were going to to Cleveland! I had been at my office Christmas party til 2am the night before and smacked into a wall at 6:45 the next morning because I couldn't walk straight, but that was irrelevant. Gutenberg was out in the universe and like Johann to the bible, we had to go to the Dobama Theatre.
At 8am we picked up the rental car from the White Plains airport ($70 for two days - thank you Budget Rent a Car!), packed the backseat with luggage (because we couldn't open the trunk) and at 8:30 we were on the road to Cleveland. Woo Hoo!!! CLEVELAND!!!!!!! PARTY!!!
Jen took care of all the driving after that. I crashed mentally at about 8:35.
The drive from New York to Cleveland, according to the GPS was 8 hours,15 minutes, the average length of of a regular work day. With the exception of a stop at Snappy's Gas Station, we went straight through to the destination and arrived in Cleveland at 5pm. Plenty of time to check in, sit outside a moving vehicle, and head over to Cleveland Heights for Gutenberg. Score!
Then we tried to park. The week before we had found an amazing deal to stay at the Renaissance Hotel for $65 (Thank you, Priceline.com! We would gladly be your spokes peeps)! We unfortunately did not account for the $23 fee it would cost to keep a car there. Spending over $200 to get to Cleveland for a Gutenberg performance - that was fine. The extra $23 bucks? Oh hell's no. Luckily there was a parking lot across the street that charged $12 a night and was more accommodating to our cheapness. Who cares if it was 14 degrees and we had to stand outside for 10 minutes trying to figure out how to electronically pay by machine. We were saving 11 dollars! Only, it turned out to be $5. $6 to park before checking into the hotel. Then $12 to stay overnight after the show. Worth it? Of COURSE. But it was pretty damn cold. To the swanky $23 parking lot we would go! Here's a lesson for you though, kids. More expensive is not necessarily better. Squeezing a car through a tiny garage, not being able to talk to a parking attendant, getting stuck in a dead end and having to back out 10 feet with other cars behind you is probably not considered good service. But was it nice to walk out and go straight to the hotel like aristocrats? Sure. And what a hotel it was. Being a down home girl from the Bronx like myself, I am unaccustomed to the fancy lifestyle of business professionals making pit stops in Cleveland. I'm more a motels on the strip of Lake George or the Red Roof Inn, kind of person. Those places totally fit my needs. But this hotel... this hotel had a
And a TV hidden in a cabinet.
And a PHONE by the TOILET.
And this view.
I express my amazement to the friendly concierge Michael during check-in (while also expressing disappointment in their parking garage). He seems unfazed.
"So what brings you to the area?"
Great! An opportunity to do some promotion! "Gutenberg! The Musical!" I say proudly.
He stares at me for a few seconds. "Excuse me. What?"
There went my attempts as a spokesperson. But that aside, Michael was a good man, and when he heard of our 8-hour journey from the Bronx, he gave us free drink vouchers for the lobby bar and wished us well. Thank you, Michael! I thoroughly enjoyed my Pepsi with free refills and Jen definitely enjoyed whatever booze she dumped in her liver. After that, we were back on the road, on the way to the Dobama Theatre. For those of you who are sad they did not accompany us on the party bus, let me tell you what you missed: the GPS system forgetting where we were, getting lost in the downtown area, passing the Ronald McDonald House (Kate Gosselin didn't stay at that one - I checked), and finding out that Ohio pretty much has a theater on every corner. Who cares though because the only theater that matters for this trip? The Dobama Theater, which will be described in further detail on the Cleveland page but I WILL say here that it's amazing. Take the most courteous, most dedicated workers in any profession and put them in a room, and that's what this theater is like. We arrived in the lobby at 7pm and when we gave our names at the box office, we were immediately recognized by the woman at the window. "You're the Gutenberg! girls!" Yup, those are our names now. We'll take it.
Before the show, a reception was held for subscribers where we
met quite possibly the nicest people in all of Ohio. "You're the Gutenberg! Girls!" we heard more than once, and we conversed with everyone about where we had been and what we had seen. We also spoke to the incredibly talented director, Marc Moritz, the best managing director ever, Dianne Boduszek, and superstar Dane Castle. At 7:15, the scenic designer, Michael Roesch gave a presentation on how he designed the Gutenberg set, which at all other theaters is a blank set with a table and hats, but at Dobama is an elaborate work of genius constructed over a swimming pool. Needless to say, impressive. Gutenberg! then began, but not before an announcement was made that we were sitting in the audience and would be participating in a talk-back with the creative team, right after the show. WHAT?? Let me say again that I am a simple girl from the Bronx, who doesn't do fancy hotels and doesn't have strangers care about where she is or what she has to say at any time. Ever. Obviously, I had never been to Ohio before. Word. The show turned out to be as incredible as the theater itself, thankfully. And luckily, only 4 audience members stayed for the talk-back, which prevented stage fright from making me throw up in my mouth. (One question was if I had aspirations to perform the show myself. Ha. Oh, Ohioans. ). It was a fascinating experience, and for once, the evening didn't involve Jen and I dissecting the show from start to finish by ourselves like the losers we are. No, this involved people who actually knew what they were talking about. Impressive. Also, learning that theaters get a bootleg copy of the London production to study off of was quite an interesting piece of information. (where is this copy, Anthony and Scott and why do we not have one?). After the talk-back, the conversation continued at a fine Cleveland bar establishment with Dianne, Marc, and the awesome Chris Richards (aka Doug,) and I came to the conclusion that when discussing anything Gutenberg-related, I am 1) loud and 2) insane. Good times.
Then it turned midnight and it was back to the Renaissance! Now, as I have endorsed this fine establishment verbally, I can see how my actions may not be the greatest advertisement when I walk down the lobby holding a cot, two pillows and a queen-sized comforter. For that, I am sorry. While I am sure your beds are full of comfort and luxury, my cot is sturdy and sanitized for my protection. Plus, I am an amazing friend. I want everyone who comes along for the Gutenberg ride to have their own full-size bed and not the small uncomfortable twin they would get if I were to lose my mind and need hotel sleeping quarters. Do you hear that potential party busers? Still no? Okay. The next day, wake up time was 8am and we checked out an hour later to fulfill Jen's dream of seeing the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. No pictures were allowed in the museum, so instead, please enjoy one of the Cleveland Browns stadium:
There were no extensive Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, or Jay-Z memorabilia, so this part of the trip was pretty pointless to me. I did enjoy, however, the letter from Charles Manson asking for a subscription to Rolling Stone and the inter-office memo to Stone staff employees threatening to cut off men's scrotums and attach ones to females. Not the kind of stuff I usually see at my own job. Probably time to start interviewing.
We left the museum around 12, spent a severely long time trying to find a McDonalds and were on our way back to New York by 12:30. As Jen drove the entire 8 hours to Cleveland, it was now my turn to drive all the way back. Out of respect for your time, I won't go into details about that entire experience, or express anything in written form about my driving skills. I will just say this:
We made it back alive.
Thanks for the mem'ries, Cleveland!