Surviving on tour? ‘You’ve got to let leftovers go.’

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the address of Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. It is 1551 Trap Road.


Headshot of actor Jay Frisby. (Courtesy of Broadway Booking Office NYC)
May 25, 2012

Jay Frisby has been playing Tom O’Brien on the national tour of “South Pacific” since September. After Kerouacing it up all over the country for nine months along with a 50-member cast and crew, he has learned the ways of communal life on the road. The former Whiffenpoof (that’s a Yale a cappella group, not a Hogwarts house) is as prepared as a Boy Scout. He always has a blanket, just as a hitchhiker traversing the galaxy must always have a towel. He has been corrupting the youth of America (more on that later).

Here, Jay Frisby’s Unofficial Touring Survival Guide:

As Mark Zuckerberg has commanded, privacy is dead on tour. “That’s kind of the first thing to go out the window,” he says. “You end up living with at least one other person, and sometimes [you’re with] three other people.” This cohabitation situation results in “lots of fun smells. . . . It gets a little bit hairy.”

He sometimes must stay in the sort of seedy hotels where people get killed in the movies. “Once, we were at a side motel in Mississippi and heard screams and shouts coming from the room next door.” His advice: “You’ve just got to bolt your door and hope for the best.”

When it comes to bus sustenance, “you’ve got to let leftovers go,” Frisby learned while trying to enjoy Chinese food he had let sit for “at least three hours.” Reactions from fellow intrepid travelers included, but were not limited to, “Did someone vomit on the bus?” Instead, partake in a delicious treat that will never expire: “Peppered beef jerky. That stuff will stay forever.”

Three members of the “South Pacific” cast are children, ages 8 to 11. In the beginning, bus entertainment consisted of Muppet movies and the Pixar canon. But, as one might expect, “we started a slippery slope down to ‘The Princess Bride.’ And the last movie we watched on the bus, two weeks ago, was ‘Mean Girls.’ ” Frisby concedes: “Which is not appropriate for that age group.”

When the tour is over, Frisby is ready to deal with his dirty laundry. After waging war with busted washing machines in roadside laundromats, he’s ready to get squeaky clean. It’s really the little things.

South Pacific

Thursday to June 3.

Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna.

www.wolftrap.org or 703-255-1900.

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