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Three for the Road

A family finds benefits in traveling with a touring production


Many parents wouldn't consider traipsing around the country with a toddler in tow, but Rognlie and Axe felt it was the best alternative. "For a baby, home is where Mommy and Daddy are," says Rognlie. "We had a choice — do we separate our family for year, or do we take our daughter on the road to keep the family together? For us, the choice was clear."

For the Axe family, on the road equates to a different city every two weeks. Rognlie and her daughter traveled from city to city by plane. Axe would drive the family car from one venue to another in order to have Sienna's car seat on hand. Two huge trunks were devoted to Sienna's clothes, toys and furnishings. "At each venue, my husband would put her mats and toys down in his office. That became her play space," Rognlie says.

Albeit a transient existence, there was consistency in Sienna's environment. The family always booked hotel suites with kitchens to make it feel more like a home. One area in each suite was devoted to Sienna's bedding. In each city, it was configured the same way.

The show's cast provided Sienna with a sense of family. "They doted on her," Axe says. "She always interacted with the same people."

Family members who traveled with the cast also were involved in Sienna's development. "Two of the people that looked after Sienna were school teachers," Rognlie says. "She thrived off of that. She had so much one-on-one attention. At 18 months, she was counting, and she knew everybody by name better than I did."

During the tour, Sienna stayed on the same schedule as her mom and dad. The family spent their days at children's museums, aquariums and zoos, anywhere there were children, and their nights at the theater.

"Sienna assimilated well," Axe says. "She is very open now and used to change and meeting different people and being around people."

The precocious, outgoing 2-year-old has inherited her parents' love for the theater. "She always gets excited about coming into the theater," Rognlie says. "She likes to go onstage and look out into the audience."

Now that Sienna is 2, Rognlie and Axe have made a few changes. Sienna and Rognlie have moved back to their New Jersey home — Rognlie is now on Broadway with "Mamma Mia!" Axe is continuing with the touring production. The couple has hired a nanny and Rognlie is busy setting up play dates for Sienna and her friends. Next year she will begin attending a Montessori school.

The cast of the touring production became Sienna's extended family and Rognlie and Axe worried that leaving the show might have an adverse affect on their daughter. "She's fine, but she still talks about all of them," Rognlie says, adding that Sienna has named all her stuffed animals after people in the show.

Even though she's now on Broadway, appearing in eight shows a week, Rognlie devotes her days to Sienna. "I drive her into the city on Sunday with me, and I drop her and our nanny at the Children's Museum or Radio City Music Hall," Rognlie says. "People often say they don't know how I do it. But I take one day at time. I don't think about it, I just do it."

Rognlie and Axe believe that taking their daughter on the road with them was beneficial to each family member. "It wasn't as hard as we had imagined," Rognlie says. "It was nice because we were together as a family unit. That made all the difference in the world. Sienna was able to be with us more than she would have at home."

"Even though we were traveling, we were there with her the whole time," Axe adds. "We spent all day with her. That gave her a sense of security. When we did the show, she knew we would come back so we never had any separation issues with her. America is designed for traveling and living on the road. It's a huge adventure for a child." FS

"Mamma Mia!"

Opens at the Landmark Theater on Feb. 19 and runs through March 2. For tickets call 262-8100.

For information on the show, visit www.mamma-mia.com.

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