November 23, 2011

Hens on Ice

It's comeback time for The Cackling Hen! I didn't shave my head or gain 30 pounds during this three-month hiatus, but I did join my first Hens on Ice tour. Being on the road and on the ice full time leaves far less time to write, let alone anything semi-clever, compared to working part time and living in my parents' house. The Hens on Ice world also makes a different kind of blog material. "I spent 12 hours in my skates and three hens fell awkwardly and we all cackled"  doesn't even make a paragraph.

I am now a full-time performer for Hens on Ice. After graduating this spring with a master's degree in journalism and media studies, some of my professors and friends were surprised at first with my job choice. Graduates from our program typically join the Harlem Globetrotters, but I wanted better costumes. Little did I know one of my costumes would look like a giant artichoke with a green, Carmen Miranda head piece. That was not in my contract.

Every Hens on Ice show is created over a month-long rehearsal period. My skates replaced my shoes as daily footwear and my feet cursed are me daily by going numb. The numbers, "5, 6, 7, 8" begin every sentence during rehearsals, even gliding their way in before "good morning." After the crash course of learning all the numbers, steps, choreography and patterns to the counts of 1 through 8, we then practice it all to the show music, and those awkward arm motions finally make some sense. After a few more rehearsals, dress rehearsals and last minute bellyflops into the curtain, the show is as ready as it'll ever be! Bring in the masses of children who scream for the talking cars and an inflatable pig!

The entire show track the first week is a good source of entertainment. Some of the songs are fun and they would cause me to dance my through stripping and changing many times through the day. The ballads were a great way to warm up my lungs in the morning. And the dialogue has nearly endless lines to laugh at, or at least mock, while we are backstage either half naked or in artichoke costumes. Then after a week I realized that the entire 2-hour sound track of our Hens on Ice show had become branded on my brain. The Britney Spears songs that used to pop in my head throughout the day are now replaced by the little mermaid's voice, the soundtrack of Toy Story 3, and even the songs from the Tinkerbell movie, a straight-to-DVD release that no one over 9 has seen willingly. Attempts to have normal conversations are replaced with just responding with lines from the show without even realizing is. Who knew Mrs. Potato Head and I respond the same way in life situations?

Depending on the day, my life on the road is similar to two people. On days off, there are times I feel like Paris Hilton galavanting in worldly places, just without the money, hair extensions or tiny dog. Then there are show days, some of which we have three shows on a day. Lots of the British people would ask if I am here on holiday. Yes, if you consider Groundhog Day a holiday like it is in the Bill Murray movie. Most of us in the cast play the roles of younger, more agile Bill Murrays on ice, but I at least know how to escape our Groundhog Day if I ever get desperate. There are endless ways I could incorporate my own personal choreography or costume into a live show, and Hens of Ice would promptly make it my last. Good morning, February 3 and unemployment! Maybe Bill Murray could fill in for me - I'm sure he likes artichokes.

Most jokes aside, I have a lot more going for me than Bill did in the movie. I am guaranteed at least one non-Groundhog Day per week. I am in a new city and venue every week or two, even if my mind desides to blur them all together. I am younger than Bill Murray and my outfits aren't from the early 90s. I never have to grab a live hog out of the ground on local television. And even during the longest days in an ice arena, there is always something entertaining from the endless clucking from so many different hens...on ice.

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