Good morning readers and happy Tour Day 3! It’s a beautiful day again; we are really lucking out with the weather! We’re all up and getting ready to hit the road. I pulled a really late night but I’m actually feeling pretty good and I’m having a good hair day to boot… and that’s when the other shoe drops. You know, the one I was waiting for yesterday? Yeah, it dropped. Wacked me right on the head.
We’ve got an issue. Every tour has them; it’s to be expected and you just deal with them as they come. This time though, our issue could very well leave us stranded. It’s the Yukon. Joshua went out to start it this morning and it protested in a major way. Joshua is our road manager so he quickly jumped to action and came to my room to tell me what was going on. I’ve learned in this job that I have to remain calm and make quick decisions, so that’s what I did. Joshua goes to get the battery checked out and the rest of us get ready so that we can leave when things are all fixed. Simple enough, right? Wrong. It’s not the battery and we’ll have to take it to the GMC garage. Thankfully, there’s one in Gunnison, so Joshua heads over there. By now, we’re all gathered in the lobby – well the party of 5 is. Joshua gets a free pass this time because he out trying to get the Yukon fixed and Steven? Well we’re not going anywhere at the moment so he’s got time to spare.
Alex begins serving as the phone relay man between Joshua and I because at the same time we are trying to figure out the car issue, I’m on the phone booking a performance for us in Loveland for next Friday. I tell you, there’s never a dull moment! Joshua calls back, Alex passes me the phone and as he does, he utters these two words, “fuel pump.” My stomach drops. I knew something was coming, I felt it yesterday with the whole shoe thing. Fuel pump? Those things are expensive, aren’t they? The garage at the dealership tells Joshua they can’t even look at the Yukon until Friday – well that’s not going to work; we have places to go, people to sing for. Joshua says there’s another garage across the street and he’s going to give it another try. Everyone else hangs around the hotel lobby while we wait. I try to figure out a plan B, in case it comes to that, so we can still get to Lake City.
Joshua calls Alex, Alex hands me the phone. This new garage can look at the Yukon now and give us an idea of what we’re looking at. At least it’s something so I give the OK. More waiting. We’re now at a crossroads. We either need to leave soon for Lake City or we’re going to have to cancel the performance tonight and I am determined not to do that. Joshua calls Alex, Alex hands me the phone. The garage manager is 95% certain it’s the fuel pump. He can replace it and have the car ready for us by tomorrow. Joshua has again been great in this situation and found out that the garage will rent us a vehicle until ours is fixed. (Alex also knew about this option) I get on the phone again and ask the price, biting my lip. To my absolute relief, they can rent us a car big enough to get our sets and other various paraphernalia to Lake City for only $22 a day. Finally, a break! I make some quick decisions again. We’re going to leave the Yukon at the garage and take the rental. We’ll load it with as much as we can carry and head off to Lake City. Sit tight Joshua; we’re on our way to get you.
We leave the hotel and head for Joshua. It’s then that we realize that none of us knows where he actually is. OK – facts people. What do we know? We know he’s in Gunnison. Alex remembers the name of the place. I remember some details from our many phone conversations, so between the two of us; we’re able to navigate Steven to the right spot. We’re a party of 7 again. The group begins to unpack the Yukon and load the rental while I head inside to talk to the manager. I leave several contact numbers, and the manager tells me that he’ll call us by 4:00 to let us know what we’re looking at as far as a repair bill. I have to edit our props and set a bit because we can’t get everything into the rental, even though Steven really tries. It’s fine; we’ll just re-stage the show. I can do that on the fly… As the wise fashion Guru Tim Gunn says, “Make it work!” Rental loaded, bodies pile into the tank and we leave Gunnison and make our way to Lake City.
The drive is pretty quiet. I know that everyone is feeling a little stressed, so I comment on the beautiful view and the ice lake that we’re passing. Jared looks at the lake and says he doesn’t believe that it’s frozen. We insist but he questions how that can happen all at once like that. I remind myself that Jared needs to take things in at his own pace; after all this is the man who only recently learned that people actually live out here, I go back to the basics. I explain that it’s what happens when water gets cold. Jared’s response, “that’s stupid.” He’ll get there, give him time. With that little diversion, the car livens up a bit and the drive goes quickly. We make it to Lake City, behind schedule, but in one piece.
As we pull up to the theatre, we see that they’ve got us on the marquee. This has become an annual tradition that I look forward to seeing. We meet our contact, the wonderful John Smith, and we quickly set about unloading the new rental. Set up takes far longer than usual because of the space. It’s a fabulous theatre, but it’s tight quarters. We manage to get things in place and I spend the next hour figuring out how to re-stage the show with the limitations we have to work around. The Young Artists are troopers and tackle all the changes I throw at them with a smile. Set up and staging rehearsal complete, we head next door to have lunch. It’s then that I notice there are flyers in every window advertising tonight’s performance. Way to go Lake City! Just as I’m about to look at the lunch menu, the garage in Gunnison calls Joshua, so we dart outside. He puts me on the phone and the manager tells me what the problem is. It’s the fuel pump, not what I was hoping to hear. He also tells me the cost and, though it’s high, it’s not as bad as I was expecting and, quite honestly, we don’t have a choice. It’s either fix it, or remain stranded. The garage manager tells us that he’ll have it fixed by tomorrow, so hopefully we can pick it up on our way to Crested Butte. I hang up and thank Joshua, well done road manager.
We go back inside and everyone is already ordering. I haven’t even looked at the menu so I basically just say the name of something. I have no idea what I ate. I know it involved bread and meat… Everyone does their best to make me laugh, but I’m distracted. It’s just been one of those days. But this group is undeterred and they finally succeed. Jared tickles Cassidy and she responds in an… unexpected fashion (which I had to swear would not end up in this blog). It does the trick though. You know readers; laughter really is the best medicine. Things could have been much worse. The Yukon will get fixed and tour will go on. We finish lunch and then head to our hotel to get settled. We’re staying in a charming local inn and the rooms are all decorated like rustic cabins. It looks out over the mountains that surround Lake City – a beautiful view. I do some work while the Young Artists relax before tonight’s performance. We’ve got a double bill at 7:00, and Arias & Ensembles program followed by The Barber of Seville. Down time doesn’t last long on tour; we’re having dinner with the town’s art council so we grab what we need to take with us and head back to the theatre. I take advantage of a rehearsal space any time I have one, so we work on a few pieces for tonight’s A&E. Cassidy is singing Sexy Lady by Ben Moore and we work out some new material for her to do. I think the audience is going to love it.
Our hosts show us the way to our dinner location and we are welcomed, fed a home cooked meal and regaled with stories from the locals. It’s such a treat to get to know the people we perform for. The time goes by much too quickly and we have to leave to get ready for the show. It’s a flurry of activity backstage. We have a lot to get done before the A&E begins, but we’re also in a room that is full of costumes and props. You can’t put performers in a space like this and expect them to remain focused. Cassidy finds a bling bracelet that she wants to wear for the show. I allow it; I after all, already have magic bracelets. Steven finds a white military jacket. He does a fabulous impression of Pinkerton from Madame Butterfly. It was either that or one of the guys from the Love Boat. It’s also during this time that Mr. Quacksworth meets a friend, Mr. Hawkins. (See if you can figure out what he is…)
I hear my cue and I scamper on deck. I welcome everyone, introduce Steven and tell the audience a bit about our group and Opera Colorado – the A&E portion of tonight’s show is under way. We’ve got a good sized crowd and they clearly love to laugh. While waiting backstage, I too get sucked into the wondrous menagerie of costumes and props. I find a set of pig ears and decide to wear them in honor of Jared’s blue ribbon comment. He comes off stage, sees me – surprise Jared! Morgan takes a picture to capture the moment forever. We reach the finale of the first half and have 15 minutes to re-set the stage and get everyone into costumes.
We make it, but barely and I go out to start the second half of the show. The audience is already laughing as I describe my inspiration for the set which is a good sign. The Barber of Seville begins with Joshua’s aria and he gets a big round of applause. Things go smoothly until we get to the scene change. Morgan trips on the stairs (she fell on the ice earlier today while we were unloading the rental. She’s fine, thank goodness) and someone else runs into a wall. It all works out and we keep going. By the time the first big ensemble piece arrives, I can tell the Young Artists are tired. We’re at over 8,000 feet in elevation here and it’s definitely taking a toll. The next finale is even harder and I get genuinely concerned when they all come back stage, looking like they just stepped out of a sauna after running a marathon. This opera stuff… it’s hard work. The end of the show arrives and then bows – the audience is cheering. They loved it.
I go out to start the Q&A and we get more enthusiastic cheering when the audience finds out from John what we had happen earlier in the day. They tell us how grateful they are that we came. Then what starts out as a pretty traditional Q&A turns into something none of us expected. We start getting amazingly thoughtful and introspective questions. We go way over the scheduled time, but that’s fine by us – we’ve got a really interested group of people here. The group consensus for a favorite? Hands down it’s the last question of the night. It comes from a little boy, probably 9 or 10 years old. His question – “You guys travel a lot and perform. Do you miss your families?” Our entire party of 7 utters a unison sigh. Yes, we do. This isn’t an easy career path, but it’s something we all love to do. We sometimes go for long stretches without seeing our families and that’s hard. People in the performing arts become something of a family unit because of this. It’s corny, but it’s true. With that, we end the Q&A and offer our heartfelt thanks to the community of Lake City for a wonderful evening. We spend the next 20 minutes greeting people one on one and answering more questions. I have a woman come up to me and tell me that this was the finest production of The Barber of Seville she has ever seen. She suggests that we put it on the big stage. What a compliment!
We’re exhausted by this point, but we’re not done yet – we still have to tear everything down and load the rental. We also have to sign the wall. Some theatres have traditions where they have each touring group sign their names on a wall, sort of like a scrap book. We make sure to leave our mark too. As we’re all working to load out, we run into another problem for the day. Jared can’t find his cell phone. We look everywhere and it doesn’t turn up. Steven calls Jared’s phone and someone answers in Spanish. Jared thinks Steven is messing with him, because Steven, although mild mannered and proper on the surface, can mess with the best. (Didn’t know that about him, now did you?) But, no, Steven is in earnest. Now we’re all afraid that someone has either taken it or it’s been left in a place where people speak Spanish. Great, that narrows it down. Dan, our wonderful lighting tech, who we call Dan the Man, jumps into actions and takes Jared to search for his phone at our earlier dinner location. The rest of us continue to load out and play with a cat that is outside. Hey, we’re concerned... but the cat is really cute. As Cassidy does a final check, viola (remember that’s wah-lah, a French way to say ta-da) she finds Jared’s phone. Another crisis averted.
We’re done packing the rental and Dan brings out two huge bottles of wine for us. Totally unexpected, but after today, well gratefully accept that. We thank everyone again, say goodbye to Dan and the cat, and pile into the tank. When we arrive at our hotel, we all take a minute to look at the stars. Amazing what you can see without the city glare. I set the plan for tomorrow morning, tell everyone goodnight and then head to my room. I’ve still got work to do and a blog to write after all. The girls take the wine, deciding to drink it under the stars. That’s lasts about 1 minute. It’s cold out! The gents retire to their rooms too. It’s time to call it a night.
Whew - it has been a day! I never knew that other shoe could have such far reaching effects. You know what made it all OK in the end? Seeing that this - what we do - matters to people. So many people today say the arts don’t matter and unfortunately we’re seeing an impact. Well, I disagree and I think everyone who was here tonight would agree. Did that make sense? What I’m trying to say is the arts matter. Opera matters. Do you agree? If you do, let us know. We need your support. Let’s make an impact of our own!
It’s tomorrow again, time to call it a night.