Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Significant Others on the Road

I recently received the following question in response to my previous entry, and would like to answer in a new one rather than in "comments" -- because it is a very good question!

It was really interesting to read about your touring situation. I am curious, though..... how many of the people on the tour have significant others who live in different parts? I would imagine that it would be a real challenge to maintain a relationship while on the road.

I would say that at least half the members of the 90-member company have significant others. Of this group, probably about a quarter of them travel together on the road. The rest stay at home, or are on other tours.

In the orchestra, for example, the concertmaster's boyfriend flies out from Cleveland to visit her once a month over an extended weekend, so this happens roughly once in each new city. He is not a musician.

The cellist's boyfriend also plays the cello professionally, a freelancer in the L.A. area, and has come out to visit once in the four months that our new cellist has been with us.

The assistant conductor (who also plays one of the keyboards) had his cellist wife with us for about five years, playing in the orchestra. Their son was born while both were touring. When he reached school-age, the cellist quit the tour in order to provide him with consistent schooling. (So we got the new cello player in August.) Husband and wife take turns flying back and forth to visit each other every month or so.

The second violinist's boyfriend was the Head of our Sound Department for a number of years. But several years ago, he quit the Phantom tour to join the touring production of "Mamma Mia", currently in Las Vegas for an extended run. His schedule is fairly flexible and he often comes to see the violinist whenever we are playing. She also takes time off occasionally to visit him.

The bass player met his future wife while touring. She used to fly out to visit him every month or so. Then they got married, and she joined him on the road. Now they have a four-year-old daughter who they are "home schooling".

The other assistant conductor/keyboard player's wife and three children travel with him about half the time. Otherwise they live in Las Vegas.

One of the woodwind players is dating someone who works in the company's Hair Department.

The Principal horn player is dating a woman who works in the Wardrobe Department.

The percussionist (who's also the show contractor) is now seeing a woman who had gone to college with him many years ago, and they've recently re-connected. She is a high school band director in Mississippi. He flies out to visit her on many of our Mondays off. She has also come out on the road to visit him occasionally.

My partner J. has traveled with me for nearly seven years now. His primary "job" was to take care of our Airstream travel trailer, and provide a home for us. We had a serious accident on July 4th and totalled both the trailer and our tow-vehicle. We rolled one-and-a-half times and are lucky to be alive, emerging from the accident with only minor cuts, bruises and a little whip-lash.

We've been staying in corporate apartments (like everyone else in the company) since then, and have come to HATE it. So we have gotten past our fears and are getting another Airstream trailer and a new tow vehicle in the next couple of months, and will resume our wonderful life in the Spring. J. will have his rewarding job back!

It is indeed challenging to maintain long-distance relationships while on tour. Some do it successfully while others fail. It all depends on the couples.

Early on in our commitment, my partner and I decided that we would NOT have a long-distance relationship. He was able to leave the real estate business he had built up with his mother and join me on the road very soon after we'd met. It has been a wonderful odyssey together ever since!

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