Whether it’s a carryon, a suitcase, a traveling trunk or — as in the case of Mary Poppins which flies into Denver’s Buell Theatre May 1-5 — a carpetbag, it takes a little organizational magic to pack when you are constantly on the road. So we turned to Madeline Trumble, who plays everyone’s favorite nanny to get some helpful, handy tips.
1. How many markets will you travel to during your run as Mary?
Oh my goodness, I think I’ve traveled to about forty different cities, in three different countries. And we still have a few stops left!
2. Do you get to go back home between any of the engagements?
I took a week’s vacation and so I got to go back home a few months ago. But I didn’t get to go home home, because someone’s staying in my apartment while I’m away. BUT I got to go back to New York, where my home and heart is. And next week, we play San Francisco, so I get to return to where I grew up (Berkeley, CA). I can’t wait to see my mom and perform for my community!
3. Assuming that you have to pack once in preparation for several national stops before returning home, how do you start? Do you even bother checking the weather forecast? Take a look at the local Convention & Visitors Bureau site to see what to expect? Pick up a copy of the most recent Farmer’s Almanac?
I had to pack for ten months of tour from the get go. So, I had to pack for all weathers. We pretty much travel every single Monday. We RARELY get any sort of a break. So, I have everything from sandals and summer dresses, to boots and coats. I am a self proclaimed fashionista (I have an enormous collection of vintage clothing) so it was really tough to scale down for the road. We’re allowed two suitcases, a carryon and a trunk, which is about the size of a third suitcase. NOT ENOUGH ROOM! And also- you do a lot of shopping on the road. I’ve probably doubled my wardrobe. I’m constantly sending boxes back home to California to make more room in my suitcases for new clothes!
4. Once you’ve determined what to take — we hope you are planning for layers in Denver — what’s next? Is there “a place for everything and everything in its place”? Are you the organized, straight as a pin folder? The never-wrinkled roller? Or the helter skelter toss-and-go type?
Everyone has their own system. I kind of have one junk suitcase- I keep a lot of odds and ends in there, along with my toiletries. And then I have a big suitcase full of a bag of dresses, two different bags for shirts, bag for skirts, bag for underwear, bag for socks, bag for socks, bag for sunglasses, etc. But everything has it’s place because my suitcases are exactly 49 lbs each!
5. Knowing that, as with most Broadway tours, you pack a larger trunk and then have a carryon, what type of carryon do you recommend? Do you — a la Mary Poppins — have a carpetbag? Maybe a lightweight canvas bag on wheels? Or one of those impenetrable hard cases?
Oh No. I need as much room as possible, so I have a carryon with four wheels! I love those spinner suitcases! It lets me push and pull all three of my bags at once. I also have a great lululemon bag with a hundred pockets to take with me on the plane. It can hold anything.
6. Now every proper nanny out there, and your average Jill too, wants to know what’s in your carryon. What is so important that you can’t trust it in your trunk? Your makeup bag? The latest Cosmo? Your laptop? Or maybe even one of P.L. Traver’s eight books about that “practically perfect in every way” nanny who arrives by umbrella and befriends charming chimney sweeps?
I always have my makeup bag, my wallet, and my diabetes kit (I have Type 1, or Juvenile Diabetes). And I have a cool DSLR camera I don’t trust anywhere else but by my side. I also have a book and a magazine on me at all times. And my iphone. Always my iphone. Though that’s usually in my hand and not in my bag.
7. What’s your trick to making the most of the monotony of airports? Have you ever arrived to the airport unprepared — missing your ID, forgetting a bag, leaving your cell phone in a cab?
Absolutely not! I’ve been touring for about a year. I know what I’m doing! I’ve had pretty good luck!
8. Tell us something funny or unusual that’s happened while out on the road. How did you react? How would Mary react?
I’ve led a pretty boring life out here on the road. I’ve gotten to really see the country and meet its people. That’s been the most exciting part. Meeting people all over the country who love theatre and love Mary Poppins- it’s been really amazing to see so many different kinds of people reacting in the same way to our show.
9. What would Mary’s advice be for the average traveler looking to pack for a trip? A spoonful of sugar may be a bit suspicious in your carryon.
Less is more! Which is definitely ironic coming from the girl with the heaviest luggage, but if I could do it all over again, I would pack a lot less. Think in outfits, not in individual pieces. And- one coat is enough. You don’t need five.
By Dan Sullivan
Such a sweet title. For years I thought that Priestley’s 1938 comedy concerned a moony young couple looking forward to a blissful 50 years together, like the kids in the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” How did that work out?
And what ever happened to Priestley? Once a literary titan, he’s almost forgotten today: an old master whose name still rings a faint bell but whose 60 books tend to be in storage when you hunt for them at the library.
Plays, novels, short stories, biographies, literary criticism, political tracts, journalism, radio talks, TV documentaries—Priestley did them all and did them well. Too well, probably. Critics distrusted his facility.
He also stayed around too long—more than 50 years. When the angry young hero of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (1956) throws down his Sunday Times in disgust, it’s because he refuses to read one more J.B. Priestley disquisition on anything. (As Jack Benny used to say, “eventually they resent you.”)
Beyond that, Priestley’s private life was scandalously ordinary. No sexual romps, no drug rehabs, no sickening failures, no miraculous comebacks. No tell-all biography drama there. Even his name was flat. “J.B. Priestley” (for John Boynton) sounds like a bank president, an attorney, an assistant principal— honest, reliable, humdrum.
Try staunch, forthright, pugnacious. Hear him in the 60s: “One of our poets told a friend of mine in New York that I had a second-rate mind. I have a second-rate mind. But it is my own; nobody has hired it, and what it chiefly desires, even more than applause, is that English people have a good life.”
He kept on writing until his death at 89 in 1984, a latter-day Shaw, full of energy and opinions. A central one was that “ordinary” people knew more than the experts hired to sell them something. He loathed the Cold War, the “central vacuum” of modern politics, the greasy hustle of public relations.
What Priestley cherished was private relations, as remembered from his Yorkshire boyhood before World War I. When We Are Married looks back on that world—and not in anger.
The title—originally Wedding Group—throws you off. No moony young lovers here. Rather, three 40-plus couples who’ve been married forever. Tonight is their silver wedding anniversary (it was a joint ceremony), so let’s have a toast.
The toastmaster is a bit fuzzy on the history of marriage (“It goes back… right back to… well, it goes back”), but he’s dead certain about its utility as an institution, because what would you women do without marriage? What would us men do?
This brings a hearty laugh, not that anyone’s trying to be risqué (the year is 1912), but these folks have known each other for years, it’s a small town and the bubbly is flowing.
Jollity reigns until our six friends discover, thanks to I won’t say what, that they aren’t the respectable married folks they thought they were. They’re not married at all. Some problem years ago with the marriage license.
This isn’t funny—except to watch. The outcome can’t be revealed, but we are dealing with Priestley the entertainer here, not Priestley the scold, and he brings his tale to a smooth, safe landing. But not before certain characters have learned either to speak up for themselves or to leave off nagging. Priestley’s message (after three marriages of his own): Count your blessings.
This isn’t Strindberg, but it’s as practical a view of marriage as that provided by our better sitcoms (The Middle and Modern Family, especially) and it leaves a more pleasant aftertaste than other fables I could mention, such as We’re Not Married, a mid-50s take on Priestley’s theme (though not credited to him) from 20th Century Fox.
This was an omnibus comedy starring the newly-minted Marilyn Monroe and a clutch of old reliables such as Fred Allen, Ginger Rogers and Eve Arden. Again, a handful of married couples find themselves liberated from their vows by a legal glitch, with various outcomes, which, by the 1950s, included divorce. Though nominally sophisticated, the story provides a rather grim survey of postwar togetherness, sometimes as a mask for actual dislike. Can these marriages be saved? For what?
Where We’re Not Married presents marriage as a somewhat lonely business, When We Are Married sets it in the heart of a community. This gives it a topicality it’s never had before. You can’t see it in an election year without being reminded of our gay marriage debate.
What is marriage? What’s it for? Who’s it for? Just the questions facing our toastmaster. Suddenly, a harmless little “farcical comedy” becomes a conversation-starter. Priestley couldn’t have foreseen this, but he would have approved. Get them talking!
As a dramatist, he also knew the value of an uptight, rule-bound community as a background for a farce-comedy. The first rule in farce is that the characters have to care, and the folks in When We Are Married care desperately about their respectability. Not that they’ll be tarred and feathered if they’re outed—this is Yorkshire, not the Wild West—but people are going to talk and, worse, they’re going to laugh.
All this makes for prime comedy. The husbands haven’t a clue as to how to get out of this mess and the wives are furious about having been dragged into it. As if by a law of nature, the men must now sneak off to their club to lick their wounds, while the women repair to the parlor to elaborate their accusations.
Good strategy Priestley seems to be saying. Stick with your tribe. For all his forward thinking, he had nothing against tribes, clubs, veterans’ posts and sewing circles, and he mourned their loss in the awful “central vacuum.”
That was the real enemy.
“More and more I distrust that bigness before which a man feels helpless and baffled,” he stated. “Once past a sensible size, things get out of hand, acquiring an alien, sinister life of their own.
“If a city is miraculously efficient but is also filled with people who are worrying themselves sick or becoming uglyminded and cruel or turning into dim robots, it is a flop. If the people in a neighboring country are comparatively poor, but contrive to live zestfully, laugh and love, still enjoy poetry and music and talk, then that country has succeeded.”
It’s good to have Priestley out of storage.
Dan Sullivan directs the O’Neill Theater Center’s National Critics Institute and teaches journalism at the University of Minnesota. He has reviewed theatre and music for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Minneapolis Tribune. This article appeared in Applause magazine.
The musical The Addams Family is inspired by the creations of the legendary American cartoonist Charles Addams, who lived from 1912 until 1988. In 1933, when he was just 21, his work was published in The New Yorker, and over the course of nearly six decades, he became one of the magazine’s most cherished contributors.
Bizarre, macabre and weird are all words that have been used to describe Charles Addams’ cartoons. Yet adjectives such as charming, enchanting and tender can just as accurately be employed to depict the same body of work, as well as the man himself. His unique style and wonderfully crafted cartoons enabled his work to transcend such dichotomies for his millions of fans worldwide.
Charles Addams is most widely known for his characters that came to be called The Addams Family, a group that evolved into multiple television shows, motion pictures and now this Broadway musical. Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma and Lurch existed in various forms and aspects of Addams’ cartoons dating back to the 1930s but were not actually named by him until the early 1960s, when the television series was created. Surprisingly, The Addams Family characters appear in only a small number of the artist’s several thousand works. The majority of his cartoons are occupied by hundreds of other characters, but there is little doubt that those that come to life on this stage are his most beloved creations.
Over 15 books of his drawings have been published around the world, including the new collection, The Addams Family: An Evilution, the first complete history of The Addams Family, including more than 200 cartoons, many never previously published. The collection also includes Addams’ own incisive character descriptions (originally penned for the benefit of the television show producers) that remind us where these oddly lovable characters came from and, in doing so, offer a lasting tribute to one of America’s greatest humorists.