Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2014 Greater Colorado Tour – Day 2

A great many things are experienced while on tour. Things like how amazing the scenery is. How lucky we are to share this art form with people in Colorado. How strange your hair looks when you put lotion in it instead of conditioner. Yep – read those labels on hotel toiletries people. After an unplanned 2nd shower my morning has begun. Everyone is on their own for breakfast this morning and then we meet up to load the cars and head to the Vilar Performing Arts Center where we have a double bill of Barber of Seville today for students.  This show is always a challenge, but at this altitude it’s going to be especially tough.

After playing luggage Tetris (how is it possible that we have acquired more stuff in one day?!) we make the drive up the mountain to the arts center. Since we put the set up yesterday, we’ve got a bit of a head start. Everyone gets into costume and makeup while I look at lights and Taylor warms up on the piano. We un-tape the things we broke yesterday and make sure the glue has set. We’re good to go. The facility is wonderful and the staff couldn’t be more accommodating. We not only have dressing rooms, we have a fully stocked green room and I even get to be on headset during the show. Most of the time, we’re grateful to have a piano with all 88 keys – this is fantastic! The students have arrived – we have a packed house. I start things off with a quick pre-show talk and Taylor strikes the first notes. Performance #1 is underway.

The kids are very quiet but they’re really attentive. The show goes well. Altitude is definitely taking its toll but they’re plowing through it. It’s a good show – we need to clean up a few things, but after being away from it for about 3 weeks, I’m just happy we did Barber and not some new interpretation of Carmen for the kiddies. After bows I go out to start the Q&A. Louise gets a big reaction when she says that she’s from Manchester England. Ooh, exotic. Our favorite question comes from a dapper lad dressed in suit and tie. He says “How did you learn to do that; to train your voices to do that? It’s fabulous; amazing!” And voilà, a new opera lover has been created.

As everyone is getting out of costume for our break, an unexpected treat is unveiled in the green room. Lunch is being provided for us by the Vilar Center. We now have time to actually sit for a bit and relax; a true luxury while on tour. On the walls of the green room are photos of some of the past performers that have graced the stage of the Vilar Center; including B.B. King, Natalie Cole, Bryn Terfel and Renee Fleming.
We’re all waxing a bit nostalgic. Taylor gets especially emotional thinking about all of the people that have played the very same piano that he is now playing for our shows. (I’ll pause while you find a tissue) After eating a yummy and very appreciated lunch, I give out a few notes for the second show and people begin their personal preparation rituals. This basically consists of getting into costume, makeup and making various hoot, hollers and calls that would sound strange to the layman’s ears. To mine, it’s just business as usual. Brett and Taylor hang back and engage meaningful conversation. I overhear Brett tell Taylor that he is not a fish taco. It is just the first of many times throughout the day that listening proves to be an essential skill and not a hobby.

In the middle of me figuring this out, one of the Vilar staff comes in and asks if he can help us reset the show. Yikes! It seems in the rush to have lunch, we forgot something. We quickly get back in gear and reset for the top of show. Pre-show talk completed, Barber performance #2 is off! This audience is much more responsive. They are laughing. A lot; and in all the right places. This is one of my favorite things to watch as a director. The singers feed off of the energy coming from the audience and the performance goes from good to something really special. They’re playing off of each other too. Their timing is great; the jokes are hitting the mark. By the time we get to bows, the kids are yelling “Bravo” and cheering like mad.

After another Q&A, we begin the task of loading out. In the process, I am asked about what we’re touring next year and we’re invited back. Hooray! Load out complete, we say our sincere thanks to the folks at the Vilar Center  – if you’re reading this – thank you Kim, Aja, Eric and everyone else for making us feel incredibly welcome and taking such good care of us. Now the task begins of loading everything back into the rental Yukon. It’s hard to describe what this is like. Imagine a game of twister, except you’re holding heavy objects and no one is having fun. That’s pretty much it. With precision and teamwork, everything is in and the doors even close. Good job everybody.

We make a quick pit stop for essentials (which means snacks) and gas (which means fuel; petrol) and we head out towards our next stop – Salida.
We’re taking US 24 towards Leadville. The tunes selected for our trip – Disney. Traveling with singers on a road trip is a special experience. Singing in the car is not a spectator sport – all must participate. We all strap on our tiaras and do our very best princess, but alas, Jared wins again with his rendition of Part of Your World. Taylor is inspirational with his rendition of The Circle of Life, complete with his own unique native lyrics. As we begin the climb up the mountain pass, the scenery becomes breathtaking. Today we have blue sky with snow-capped peaks. Well done Colorado.
Taylor claps in the car, not to show his appreciation for the beauty around us, but to trigger an avalanche. He’s invested, I’ll say that. We stop to snap a few pictures and then continue on our way. We approach a bridge and Taylor chooses this moment to ponder aloud what would happen if my health took a sudden turn for the worse and we careened off of said bridge. Colleen responds by threatening to impale Taylor with a kitchen utensil (she’s a teensy bit scared of bridges). We make it across safely and soon arrive in Leadville where we all take note of the historical Tabor Opera House.

Just outside of Leadville, I see a sign that says “Weed Free Hay.” Brett remarks, “Well, you have to be careful of those high horses. “Get off your high horse.” Ah, our Brett. He loves a good pun. After passing through Buena Vista and Nathrop, we finally arrive in Salida. We pile out of the cars and I get us checked into our rooms. This is done by carefully navigating a conversation with the hotel owner who, even after explaining our tour many times, believes we are rock singers who play guitars. He also believes that Jared and I are married and that the “song about the baby” is the best opera song. O mio babbino… yes, it touches everyone who hears it. Room keys in hand, we drop off our belongings and then pack back into the cars to heard into historic downtown Salida to walk around for a bit and eat dinner.

Small towns don’t have the same hours of operation as Denver does and most of the stores are closed. We do manage to find a few that are open, but what really catches our eye is a very… unique art display involving a car dressed up like a pig that digests rubbish. And when I say “digests” I mean the entire chain reaction is there on full display – start to finish. Soul sucking, never get the image out of my memory, display. Jared comforts me and leads me away from the horror. From this we head over to the local Five and Dime which turns out to be an absolute treasure trove. From nostalgic candy to knives that defend you from Zombie attacks, this is a store that has something for everyone. Hats… they have hats. Taylor channels his inner Harley dude and then becomes fatherly support for Brett as he embraces his inner Davy Crocket.
Jared fully realizes his inner pink-cowgirl-princess before terrorizing the innocent with a pop gun (which Louise says makes the most satisfying sound ever).
Jackalopes do exist as proven by the 9-foot tall stuffed specimen on display and Colleen proves that she is indeed one of the most gullible people in the world. Not only does the clerk get her with the old rattlesnake egg gag, but also the exploring pen. We take an extra minute to get suggestions on a good breakfast spot and head out to dinner. On the way we take a quick selfie (although, is it a selfie if everyone is in it?)

Dinner is great and as we converse, many other things are said and misheard. Ben stays to finish his libation, supervised by Louise and the rest of us head to the car. As we meander  Taylor sees a dog, which he says is a Chow. Jared says it’s not a Chow, it’s a Chow-Chow. Taylor says “yum,” to which I remark “eew.” I mean I knew Taylor was a dog lover, but wow. It’s OK, apparently there is some kind of condiment called chow-chow that people enjoy. This conversation takes a sudden turn as Brett moves us back into the world of opera and Madama Butterfly’s Cho-Cho San becomes… you guessed it, Chow-Chow San. Jared loses it and will now struggle to sing that opera without this mental reference. We head back to the hotel as the sun sets and, grabbing some snacks out of the car, we head up to our rooms. As I sit down to write the blog, I’m treated to the sight of Louise, lounging on her bed, eating handfuls of mini peanut butter cups even as she remarks “I hope these don’t belong to someone else.” Well, unless the chocolate on your pillow has now become a chocolate buffet of sorts, me thinks they do indeed belong to another.

Some of the group retires for the evening while others decide to play a game. It’s gotten really chilly and I’m ready to turn in. As much fun as we’ve had, this is still a lot of work. I realized something today. For every person we’ve met on tour so far, at least one of us has talked to them and told them who we are and what we’re doing. Sometimes they ask, sometimes they don’t. We’re an outgoing group. It’s true though - tour really is a way we connect with communities all across Colorado.

With that thought, it’s time to call it a night readers.

“Till tomorrow,


1 comment:

Deana said...

Cherity, I look forward to your tour notes every year! We're excited to see you all at the end of the month!