Our newest TCOTS staff member, Anne Barnett, took the Rock of Ages Toronto bus trip from April 18-20 and wanted to share her adventures here with all of you kickass folks!
Rock of Ages Bus - Toronto
By: Anne Reeves aka Anne Barnett – “Sound Goddess”
By: Anne Reeves aka Anne Barnett – “Sound Goddess”
The 14 chosen ones met at the BAT around 830 am. I was running late, nothing going right, phone got stolen, but made it in time. We actually took off late. The amazing bus furnished by Mirvish arrived shortly after. We were all in awe! We got to experience being true rock stars riding on our tour bus to our next big show. Smooth sailing out of NYC. We went through the Lincoln Tunnel, NJ, PA an up through NY State.
At the BAT, Mark Seeley approached me with a package that had my name on it. Tristan of Mirvish had sent me a camcorder to video tape the whole trip. We had a blast acting out scenes and singing along to the cast album. Right at the good part of “Don't Stop Believin'” the battery died. There was no power cord or charger in the box. I had a mini DV Cam and Wanda had a flip so we took tons of pics and what video we could, with what we had. I was honored they came to me about being the videographer.
On the way up we passed an Arby's, but no one was prepared so we didn't get our cameras out on time. We were all on alert for the next one. Sure enough, further along on the trip, “ARBY'S!!” I shouted, and the bus driver, Howard, pulled off the exit immediately, which made us believe he was eavesdropping on everything we were talking about.
The Toronto skyline looks very gothem-esque, grey and industrial. We arrived in Toronto at the Sheraton. The 10 hour bus ride seemed so short because we just laughed, sang and told stories the entire time. By the time we arrived we realized we were going to have a lifelong bond that no one can break.
They canceled my reservation, and then tried to upgrade us without telling us, but everything got straightened out. Our room had an amazing view of the CN tower, the second tallest completed freestanding structure on land. We also could look down and see a running track on the roof of a building and people swimming in a pool; it wasn't warm. We walked around town, which was beautiful at night; very clean streets and fresh air. We ate at East-Side Mario's, went into the lobby of the CN Tower (Amanda & Cheryl went up), and found our beloved Royal Alexandria Theatre.
The RAT (not to be confused with the BAT) was all lit up and sparkly in anticipation of her big event the next night. Even though it was dark, we snapped pictures, danced, sang and Daryl & Gavin demonstrated Dennis and Lonny's infamous lift from “Can't stop this feeling”. It was the end to an amazing day one!
In the morning, everyone kind of teamed up and went separate ways. It was hard to organize the full team due to no one wanted to use cells because of high rates, etc. Wanda and Gavin went to Casa Loma, Jenn, Daryl & Sarah went to the CN Tower for a day view and Christina & Michele checked out the shops and University of Toronto Campus. I hooked up with Cheryl & Amanda and we went window shopping, got drunk at the Steam Whistle Brewery and walked down the very Melrose-esque Queen Street. We came across a store on Queen Street called Bang On, walked in, and low and behold a mannequin with a t-shirt on that says “Beaver Hunter”! I’m serious! Totally random! Well, of course I just had to buy it for our favorite Primo (Jeremy Woodard) back in NYC. Most of us enjoyed meals throughout the day, at the food court in our fabulous Sheraton.
Back at the hotel we all got ready for the final invited dress rehearsal of ROA Toronto. Everyone looked amazing! Our chariot awaits. We go down to meet Howard, our amazing bus driver/tour guide and he greets us with his normal, sincere, “Hi guys”!
We arrived at the RAT (Royal Alexandria Theatre) like true “Rockstars” with cameras rolling and flashes going off. We broke into an amazing version of “Don’t Stop Believin’. The crowd acted like they had never seen such a spectacle.
We “stepped off the bus out into the city streets”, and were given our tickets and invites to the after party. To everyone’s surprise Mirvish really did hook us up (as Lonny stated), front row baby! Before, during and after the show we got interviewed by CityTV & Mirvish. It was a surreal, unexplainable experience.
Inside we found our amazing front row seats. Managed to get a couple quick pics & video of the stage b4 we were told to put the cameras away. Yeah, I know better, but the stage was too fabulous for words! It was pretty much the same with a few exceptions.
Stage right they had the pay phone, but it wasn’t on the same wall as NYC. Sherrie swung and fell off stage instead of swinging into the phone. In the back of the stage they had the screen which they showed way more videos and pics then the NYC production. David Coverdale was animated; hysterical. The stuff for obstructed/far view seats was shown on the screen as well. Under the screen was a balcony. Lonnie played his sax on the balcony. That was my favorite part of the stage. Under the balcony was the Arsenal stage and the drummer was behind a glass wall instead of a cage. Stage left was pretty much the same. The RAT stage was huge and less intimate the BAT stage and the theatre was longer from the back of the house to the stage.
Funniest moment, for me, was probably when Sherrie came out pregnant. Elicia’s baby bump was twice as big as Emily’s from the NYC production. And she was stuffed with “Primo money”, which started falling out from the bottom of her shirt during “Don’t Stop Believin’”. I joked that Primo got her pregnant instead of Drew, since he “shits money”. It was an ongoing joke the rest of the trip. I guess you can say her water broke. It was hysterical! They kept in character very well. I would have lost it.
Another great moment is when we were expecting Stacee to drunk stumble down the left aisle during ”Every Rose” and he didn’t come. When we all looked back so did the audience; bunch of followers. Stacee eventually turned up on the stairs, not sure where he came from. It was a long aisle to come down.
They added a few Canadian touches such as the Molson Canadian sign on the stage left wall. Yvan (Drew) added, “by way of Montreal” after Sherrie said, “Michigan”, during “Don’t Stop Believin’”. The video montage during “Can’t fight this feeling were Canadian images and they were at a Maple Leafs game at the end. The part where they are hanging with Sammy, CC & Deborah, changed to Sammy Hagar, CC DeVille, Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, and Gordon Lightfoot (Dennis: "You listen to Gordon Lightfoot?" Lonnie: "Sometimes."). And of course the renovation on another North American City became Toronto.
After the show we were invited to the after-show party. The whole cast and crew were there, and an open bar. We were told to be back on the bus at 1130, but were having too much fun to leave. Needless to say Howard left without some of us. But our hotel was within walking distance, so no worries. We were all concerned we wouldn’t recognize anyone in the cast without the makeup but with some assistance was able to meet almost everyone; we missed out on some of the understudies. During the show Drew hits Lonnie with a programme. No one in the audience received a programme. We asked Carl if we could have them and he left and came back with 14 of them. We were the only 14 people to get the programme at the final invited dress of ROA-Toronto.
After the show we walked back to our hotel and hung out in Daryl’s room for a couple hours. It was hard to go to sleep because no one wanted it to end.
We were hoping this day would not come. So sad that this most amazing trip of our lives was over. We got up around 7 and met for breakfast in the food court at 8. We thought we were supposed to meet the bus at 9, but were mistaken, it was actually 10. We joked that Howard probably left us again.
After loading up, we headed home. On the way home we actually pass right by Niagara falls, so we asked Howard if he could stop and he agreed. If you’ve never been there, it’s not something you can’t put into words. The whole experience of Niagara Falls was very surreal to me. I actually got very emotional. Oh and before we arrived at the falls, Howard pointed out the smallest church in the world as we passed by in Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario. It was so cute. And they actually have weddings there.
After a slight delay at the border crossing we were back in the US with memories that will last our lifetimes. Side note… when entering Canada, at the border crossing, you best know your bridges (inside joke).
The 10 hours home was a little less exciting. Most of us slept. It was an exhausting 3 days.
Finally familiar sights! As we were driving down RT 3, past the Meadowlands, with the Empire State Building in sight we noticed it was almost 930pm. We were excited at the possibility of our beloved NYC cast being able to see us and the bus as we arrived. Well, they had technical issues that caused an hour and fifteen minute intermission, so they missed our arrival. I was happy to hear they decided to finish the show. That’s why we love them. Some of us waited till the show finally ended. Most of the NYC cast came out to welcome us back and we got a couple group shots, my favorite being the one of us with Lauren, Derek and Mitch. They said they missed us and were happy to have us back.
We were happy to be back. It was the end to a perfect trip.
So that’s how our story wraps up, but in the case of the 14 strangers turned friends, the dreams we came in with were the dreams we left with and they ROCK!
Thanks Mirvish & ROA Toronto!!
Thank you to Anne's fellow ROA Toronto trippers Daryl, Sarah and Jenn for their photo coverage...and as a final treat...the video Anne shot for Mirvish (the Canadian producers of ROA)!