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Six pics I wish I'd taken last Monday

posted by Megan Wygant on Thu, Aug 6, 2009
in At the theatre

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As you might have guessed from reading Andrew's post, last Monday —- July 27 — had been circled in red on the company management calendar for the past two months. If you're just joining us here, last Monday was the day that the American Idiot team — 19 actors, two understudies, and countless designers and design assistants — would arrive in the Bay Area for the first time.

When the marketing department learned we’d be picking about 30 people up from Oakland Airport on Monday, they asked if we’d take photos to share with the blog. We couldn’t do that for a lot of reasons, among them being that our hands were filled with bags and contracts and keys (I'd like to pause for a second to give a shout-out to John Gay, Andrew Susskind, Bok Choy, and Johnny Van Chang for becoming honorary members of company management for the day — accomplishing the airport pickups as easily as we did was definitely a team effort). We also figured that no one wanted their photo taken after flying for six hours. In coach. Especially when you had to be at your first airport at 7am, East Coast time.

Still, I wish I had taken pictures, if only because it was a really neat day. So, here are the captions of six photos I would go back and take, if only I had access to a time machine.

1. Here you can see the group hanging out in the production office around 11:15 in the morning. We were scheduled to leave Berkeley Rep at 11:30, but by 11, everyone was already ready and waiting. Andrew is holding the coffee he brought for everyone, I’m madly answering a few final emails before signing off for the day, and Jamie, the associate company manager, is manning the cell phones (she was the lucky one who got the 4am call from an actor who had forgotten their boarding pass at home...and also the first phone call when one of the people at JFK got caught in the security line and ultimately missed their flight).

2. This is the group of us at the arrivals terminal at Oakland Airport. Oh, wait, we did take this photo (We got to the airport a bit early, and Jamie carries a camera in her bag at all times).

AI Airport

From left to right: Euphrates Dahout, Andrew Susskind, Jamie Caplan, Johnny Van Chang, and John Gay, the Theatre’s patron services manager. I’m kneeling in front. The photo was taken by Bok Choy, another guy from the facilities department. You’ll notice we’re leaning on a luggage cart — just one of many we used that day. Look at how fresh and excited we look!

As soon as the arrivals terminal monitors indicated "our" plane had arrived, we whipped out our signs and stood there, avidly scanning the crowd for a set of complete strangers. That’s when Euphrates turned to Jamie, and asked “so, basically, we’re waiting for a large crowd of really young, really attractive people to charge towards us?”

Jamie’s response? To smile broadly and say, “exactly.”

3. Here’s me meeting several cast members, including Tony Vincent, who will be playing St. Jimmy. The actors have been emailing us for weeks, asking questions about their flights, their accommodations, the rehearsal schedule, local highlights — you name it. So, we’ve gotten to know everyone pretty well via email, even though Monday was the first time we met in person. Tony is without a doubt one of the nicest guys I talked to...but also the one with the most questions (no kidding, we've talked pretty much every day since early July!) Which is why, when I walked up to introduce myself, his face split into a big grin and instead of the handshake I was expecting, I got a huge, wonderfully generous hug. And then everyone else decided to follow suit. Honestly, I was so excited to finally meet everyone, I might have ended up hugging them all anyways. It was good to have the excuse.

4. This is my friend Rey at Trader Joe’s. I may have mentioned this before, but basically, the actors are moving here for at least three months – and the first month of that, except for this first day, is breakneck rehearsal. So, we asked all the cars to stop by a grocery store so that the actors could stock up for the marathon ahead of them. While this was the stop where I planned to catch my breath (and maybe even eat some lunch). Instead, I bumped into Rey — who I haven’t seen since we finished college. After the basic pleasantries, I told him what I’m doing these days, and explained why I was wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s that afternoon. He thought about it for a second, and said “You know, that totally explains why the store suddenly seemed filled with impossibly attractive people.” See? And you thought Euphrates and Jamie were joking!

5. Once we got the majority of the cast settled into their apartments with groceries in fridges and directions to BART in hand, it was nearly 5pm. Johnny, John, Bok Choy, and Andrew headed back to their "real" jobs, while Jamie, Euphrates, and I headed for the airport again. We stopped at Quizno's before meeting the 7pm Jet Blue flight from JFK, which included music director Carmel Dean and drummer Trey Files. I wish I'd grabbed, well, an entire mini-movie of Jamie trying to wave down the actress who had driven up from LA with her car. The woman’s GPS gave out just before she hit the Bay Area, and since traffic was heavy, and we were very much en route to several different locations, we’d been trying to direct her toward our location via cell phone for quite some time before we finally saw her car zoom past. We all finally got connected — with just enough time to hand over her apartment keys and directions, before the 7pm plane touched down. Jamie and Euphrates took Trey to San Francisco before dropping down to SFO to pick up the designer who missed his flight earlier that morning, while I took Carmel to Berkeley, and then returned to the Oakland Airport to pick up another two actors at 10:30pm. After driving them to their apartments, I would arrive back at my own home (and catch some sleep!) shortly after midnight.

6. Here, Carmel and I are driving up I-80 towards Berkeley. You can see the ocean on our left, and the car’s lit with the setting sun. If I’d taken this photo, I would treasure it, not because it’s a particularly good one of either of us, or because we’re doing anything particularly interesting, but rather because it’s a good reminder of a treasured conversation. While the American Idiot cast would start rehearsal in Berkeley the next day, the work they would do here was a continuation of the work they had begun at Vassar College the week before. “How’s it going?” I asked Carmel (pronounced like the candy, not like the beach town). And in this photo, you can see her smiling, because she’s telling me “They are so good.”

“They are so good,” she continues, “that at least once each day, I have to look up from what I’m doing, and admit to myself that it’s going to be hard to find another job after this. I’m having so much fun, and I just know I’m getting spoiled.” And in that moment, covered with the sweat from the day, feeling my own pride that the actors and designers had all arrived safe and sound, I was able to listen as Carmel told me how much she enjoyed her job, and how much she loved this cast, this design team, and this job...and after the day I'd had, filled with hugs and adrenaline, and riding high on the excitement of finally having the American Idiot cast here after months of waiting and planning for their arrival, I found myself smiling along with her, nodding my head, and thinking, “Yes, exactly.”


did you get any interesting looks from people in the air port???:)

suzanne | Sun, Aug 9, 2009

Hi Suzanne --

A few; there was a large group of us holding signs reading "American Idiot" -- not the normal airport greeting signs at all!

Still, no one came up to ask us what it was all about. :-)

Megan | Thu, Aug 13, 2009

Why don't you publish your blog in a book?

Mallorca Villa | Mon, Oct 3, 2011

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