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BWW Blog: Patti Murin of Goodspeed's HOLIDAY INN - Marching Along With Time


or "How long have we been up here again?"

The other day, I was deleting pictures from my phone to make room for the Kim Kardashian game the new iPhone update, and I came across a photo from a local event that some of us attended back when we first arrived in Connecticut. My first thought was, "What a cute baby!" (more on that later), and my second thought was, "Wasn't that like seven years ago?" No. No it was not. It was a mere three months ago.

We have been up at the Goodspeed Opera House working on "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn" since August 19th. That spans five months of the year, three different seasons, four different PAs, and about 879 plates of cheese fries at the Gelston House. This may not seem like a terribly long time to some, but when you leave New York City for the extreme country atmosphere that is East Haddam, CT, time slows down to a crawl. I mean, I'm pretty sure it literally slows down. When you're away from the rush and the pressure and the constant nagging feeling that you could and should be doing more for your career, your brain is left with virtually nothing to do. Coupled with the fact that the only things within walking distance are a coffee shop, two restaurants and the liquor store, you're in for a really bizarre four month working vacation.

The first few weeks up here were maddening to most of us. It was like being transported from the middle of Times Square on New Year's Eve to the North Pole in spring when all of the elves are hibernating (they do that, right?). The only thing more unsettling than the silence was when something unidentified would make a noise, like those owl things I had only read about in fairy tales. There were plenty of skunk sightings, as well as deer just chilling out on our front lawns in the morning. There was a snake scare that lasted for a few days until someone realized that it was dead and we were morons. Dude, I wake up every day because a rooster crows outside my window. It was clear: We were in new territory, and we had to adapt as quickly as possible, or our brains would explode.

It's pretty amazing looking back on all that we have done while we've been away. The aforementioned baby picture came from the Haddam Neck Fair back in August, where a large group of us went to eat homemade apple pie without fear of death by poisoning, and to watch a sheep being sheared without a trace of irony. The highlight of the day that we planned our schedule around was -wait for it - THE BABY CONTEST. That's right, there was a sensible "Toddlers and Tiaras" style pageant, except this one capped out at 18 months old. There was a "Chubbiest Baby" award. There was a "Cutest Baby" award. There were judges who agonized over their decisions like they were handing out college scholarships. And there were huffy parents who made snide comments when their babies didn't win the $5 cash prize. But I got an awesome winter hat knit by a sweet older woman for $5 and watched Tally Sessions eat a turkey leg like a Death Row inmate, so I think I won.

We all developed new hobbies and talents, like baking and cooking, and online shopping (but have you TRIED eBates???), and we are basically connoisseurs of the restaurant scene in East Haddam and the neighboring town of Chester. We tried to behave ourselves around the awesome fire pit that was on the lawn, but we are just way too good at having fun and it was very quickly taken away from us. Sorry again, Company Management! And East Haddam at large! People go to the gym every day, or work out on their front porch. Well actually, it's just Tally and Hayley Podschun who do that, and now it's too cold! See what I mean about the seasons??? Alissa Alter offers a Pilates class every so often, though I watched all of our fit ladies head to the rehearsal studio with their mats as I shoved a frozen Three Musketeers bar that I found on the front seat of my car in my mouth. Happiness burns calories too, okay?

Whole entire shows and casts came and went while we've been here. When we arrived, Fiddler on the Roof was playing in the Opera House, and we got to enjoy the company of those truly wonderful people for about a month, playing cornhole on the Village Green and throwing get-to-know-you parties at the Lawton when it was still warm enough to sit outside on the porch at night. Then the company of The Circus in Winter arrived, and while they were only here for a short period of time and our schedules were extremely opposite, we enjoyed a few nights of bonding time with them, as well as an awesome Halloween shindig.

Also when we arrived, there was a major construction project happening on the bridges right outside of our housing development. So we were unceremoniously roused at 7 AM most weekday mornings by a dump truck or a driller thing or that annoying beeping that big vehicles do when they back up. There were times when my house would actually shake from the digging. But we met a lot of very nice construction workers, and now the roads are gorgeous.

Another crazy thing to think back on is the actual rehearsal period in the studio. We were in there for just under four weeks, but there's a point in every rehearsal process where it seems like it will never end, yet you will never have enough time to finish. I was actually sick with bronchitis and a sinus infection for the first month of our time up here, so my first impression on everyone was a hacking cough and multiple doctor visits. That cough that would never end - seems like eons ago now.

Not to mention the fact that the show has changed drastically since that first day. Whole entire scenes were blended together to make the plot skip along faster, songs were moved, and entire dance sequences that took hours to put together were unceremoniously cut. While it's still basically the same show and the same structure, if we were to read the original script now many things would be unrecognizable. And probably like seven hours long.

So we continue to "March Along With Time" up here as it gets colder and our third major wardrobe change occurs. We have three weeks left, and I know we are all determined to make the most of our time up here in the country. Because as much as we love NYC and LA and all of the places we reside year round, we are all incredibly aware of how lucky we have been to take such a massive break from the madness, and just feel like normal people. Kind of.

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PATTI MURIN (Linda Mason) Patti originated the role of Linda Mason in Holiday Inn at the Goodspeed Opera House. Previous Muny appearances include The Little (read more...)