Currently, I am in Toronto, Ontario, which is where DCL's rehearsal facility is. It is such a thrill to be here after months of planning and wondering what this would be like. In just one week, I've gone from flying to Canada and meeting total strangers to making great friends and performing a full run of our show.
My journey started last Monday, March 7, in the wee small hours of the morning. My husband woke up with me at 3:30 am to take me to LAX for my 7:30 am departure. While we've done the long distance thing before, it's been a while since we've had to, and lurching towards the airline terminal took me right back to our airport drop-offs in college. As excited as I was to head to Toronto, saying goodbye was definitely the hardest part, especially since we weren't sure if and how often he'd be able to visit. We just booked him a trip to Toronto for a few days in April, so I'm looking forward to showing him around my new city.
The flight itself was smooth and easy. Being the tall person that I am, I did not regret spending a bit extra on the exit row. Danny, the drummer for the Wish, happened to be on the same flight as me. We met virtually via Zoom the week before, so he recognized me after we got through customs. I was glad to meet someone right away as it made navigating the airport and finding a car to our apartments a little less intimidating. DCL provides housing for all of the entertainment cast members while we are rehearsing in Toronto. I'm on the 11th floor of my building in a beautiful apartment. Most of the cast members have roommates, but being the only woman out of five musicians, I ended up with my own space. After dropping off my things, I walked around the corner to get a sandwich and some snacks - and, being from Los Angeles and Miami, I marveled at the cold weather. I ended up being pretty hungry again as I was headed to sleep since my body was still on Pacific Time, so I ordered Wendy's on DoorDash. You can order poutine as a side at Wendy's here, but I have yet to have the real deal. That's on my list for this week!
On Tuesday, I kept to myself most of the day. The musicians had a health and safety meeting on Zoom, then I unpacked a little more, got to work on some of my online Disney employee training, and ordered some groceries on InstaCart. Then on Wednesday the magic started - our first day of rehearsal. I walked to the rehearsal facility for the first time and met the rest of the musicians - bassist Alonso, guitarist Dave (a local player from Toronto temporarily subbing in), and another pianist, Michael. We were given a tour of the facility, which is amazing and incredibly detailed. The whole facility has pops of bright color throughout, and the instrumental music playing in the halls instantly boosts your mood. Each of the studios has a letter that is also associated with a Disney character, such as Studio "C" for Cinderella. One of my favorite details was the music rooms near the front desk named after famous Disney composers Alan Menken and The Sherman Brothers. Of course, Mickey appears often in different parts of the building. I was giddy as I sat in the Sherman music room to warm up. I couldn't believe I was actually there! In the afternoon, we had our first music rehearsal with our music director, Clay. We got to listen through the music for our show and play together for the first time. These musicians are incredible players and I feel lucky to make music with them! We had a great vibe together right away and had quality conversations while we weren't rehearsing.
The rest of my week consisted of lots of rehearsing, getting to know the other musicians better (including regular coffee runs after lunch), cooking for myself, more online classes, unpacking and settling in, exploring the streets near my apartment, editing TikToks, and enjoying the snow! Saturday was the first day putting our show together with the rest of the cast of singers, actors and dancers. All of the people here are friendly and welcoming, and top-notch professionals to boot. There were a few times while we were rehearsing that I felt more like myself than I have in a while.
Saturday night we went to a bar (remember doing that?) and Sunday night we went out for some delicious ramen which was perfect for the cold weather. We kicked off week 2 of rehearsal yesterday with a full run of our show for the creative team and an audience of cast members from the other productions. The energy in the room was electric. I can't wait to perform it for the guests on board!