Beeck Meets World
World, meet Michael Kraig Beeck from Sheboygan, Wisconsin! You can find/stalk him on Instagram @michaelplaysbass.
Michael is a professional musician who has traveled to 14 countries with his beloved Bass. Michael has toured internationally with Shrek: The Musical and Sister Act: The Musical. He is fresh off the second national tour of Finding Neverland and resting up for his next adventure with the second national tour of A Bronx Tale. Michael was kind enough to give me tips about being on an international tour. Enjoy! *Find more tips about prepping for tour life in this blog post!
Getting The Gig
Michael's story about getting started with touring is a true classic theatrical experience. Apply for a job on playbill.com, then, "next thing I knew, I was on a plane headed to Istanbul, Turkey, for tech rehearsals." Thanks, NETworks Presentations.
Favorite Part of Touring: Free Time and Hotel Breakfasts
As a musicians, Michael says he typically does not get called in for additional show related work. "I had A LOT of free time. I certainly pride myself in seeing as much as I can, of course taking my time at places of interest I enjoy more than others, and finding off the beaten path speakeasies and dives" "Prior to getting to the next country, I would do my research (Lonely Planet, Anthony Bourdain), and scope out local places to eat, where to drink, and what to see. I definitely was a tourist every second I had outside of the show." "Also, Let’s talk about these breakfasts that are included with international hotel stays. The United States really needs to up their game on this one. Even at the worst international hotel I stayed in, the Ibis hotel in Dubai, the break food options were fresher, healthier, of significantly better quality than the best hotel I’ve stayed in the US."
Language Was Not An Issue
Michael is proficient in one language: English. However, he would always take time to learn a few key phrases in each language of the country he would travel to...which as a reminder was 14 countries. My brain hurts just thinking about that. Here are those phrases:
1. Counting 1 to 10 2. How to say his favorite foods 3. How to say foods which he is allergic 4. Ask for help (and ask if they could respond in English)
5. Directional words: Right/Left, upstairs/downstairs etc. Really helpful for Bathroom directions!
Lost In Cultural Translation?
What about the shows themselves translating to different cultures? Both international shows Michael worked on had super screen subtitles for those that didn’t speak English. "It was our presenters and translators responsibility to then try different jokes that would make sense to the audience that would get the point across of what was happening on stage. For the most part, this worked out quite well. And when it didn’t, well, onto to the next line."
Packing For World Domination: Pack Light
Michael elaborates: "Easier said than done, I know. But do it. You’ll thank yourself later when you leave the spice market with various kgs of spices, or that souvenir/gift shop with that special paperweight for a friend or loved one. And well, you will certainly come back with more clothes than what you left with. "
VPN - What/Why?
A VPN is a Virtual Private network which allows you to keep your data private. "It's an application used to disguise your phones’ current location, with a different state/country that gives you more 'freedom' or access to the world. For example, traveling in mainland China, it’s best to have a VPN as the People’s Republic of China bans many medias to its people."
A favorite app of his is Lonely Planet. "Most of the cities I have traveled to on tour have been 'popular' or the capitals. This app came in great use of what I “must see”, access to various tickets/tours, and of course, where I needed to shop. *Personally, I can recommend Atlas Obscura for smaller towns. You can access the resources on the website linked above and here, or download the Field Trip app!
Here's a sassy quote from Michael about a laundry experience in Abu Dhabi: "But you say, Michael, I can afford to get my laundry serviced once a week or every other week. It’s still a headache to find someone to do your laundry outside of the hotel. In Abu Dhabi for example, I dropped off my laundry, just like the rest of the company, at a drop off near our hotel. Two days later, I had my laundry, every piece. But attached to each tag with a staple identifying which pieces were mine, and if there was no tag, black permanent marker…."
Safety Tip As with any travel safety tip, Michael encourages commonsense. If traveling alone, inform someone where you are planning on going. Keep eyes and ears open and "don't cause a scene or commotion." That's right, keep that level of Extra to a minimum volume for a little while.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments! Happy touring.