Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2014 Greater Colorado Tour – day 8

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood readers! Another song that I have stuck in my head as I wake up this morning. I grew up on Mr. Rodgers and he’s stayed with me over the years. It is a beautiful day and we’ve got the morning to get ready without having to rush.
We’ll drive to Fairplay after breakfast for a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the high school. My cabin mates are looking well-rested. Taylor is up, eats breakfast and is out the door to the hot springs as soon as they open. He’s got a massage appointment and is really looking forward to it. Brett, Jared and I decide to enjoy the cabin and not make the trek down.
It’s actually the best thing we could have done. None of us are feeling great today. Jared’s massage wrecked him and his shoulder is a little more aggravated. Brett is exhausted and we both have headaches. It’s funny – we’ve been so busy lately that I think once our bodies had even a tiny opportunity to rest, they revolted.

The gents tell me audition stories and I have more than my share to throw into the ring. I make us breakfast and teach Brett the wonder of cooking eggs in bacon grease. He’ll never be the same. Taylor returns as we finish breakfast and then Ben, Louise and Colleen arrive from their stay at the lodge. Seems everyone slept pretty well which is good and not always the case when you’re constantly moving around from place to place on tour. Ben makes the second round of breakfast for the ladies and some of us read a folder full of notes from students we’ve performed for. This is one of my favorite things to do – reading what the kids actually thought when they saw an opera. Most of them are positive, many are glowing and some are just downright funny. One says “Thank you. You were epic. So Boss!!!” That’s good, right? There’s one that really catches my attention though (and Louise and Colleen). It reads, “I enjoyed the Barber of Seville. I never saw an opera and this will not be my last. I never had that experience ever in my life. Thank you for that.” I think it’s safe to say we reached that one.

Breakfast dishes done, we load into the cars and begin the drive to Fairplay. Brett plays a few of the tracks from the new Jason Robert Brown musical based on The Bridges of Madison County. I’m intrigued and will have to check it out. We go from that to some other favorites before landing on Disney music again. It will always be a favorite. Other than one wrong turn, we make it to the school without incident. Ben makes the hike into the office and then we drive around to where we can enter to set up. This is a bit confusing as both the middle school and the high school share a campus – plus, as we discover, there is also a preschool. Taylor asks if we’re performing Romeo and Juliet for preschoolers. Now THAT would be something. But no, I don’t think tragic Shakespeare is right for tiny tots. Still unable to find the right door, Louise gets out of the car and proceeds to run, with the grace of a gazelle prancing across the Serengeti, to each door. She is unsuccessful, but very pretty to watch. Taylor now takes on the task and finds his way in through a door around the corner.

Vehicles now parked in the right spot, we load in… again. As we’re loading in, we’re told that we each have to go to the office to sign in, which we do and they take our drivers licenses as some kind of insurance. Load-in is tough and Jared, Brett and I are feeling worse for the wear when it’s over. My headache is turning into a full blown vertigo migraine and Brett is also feeling dizzy.  We’re still at pretty high altitude and I think it’s part of the problem. Colleen, Louise and Ben are right there to take on extra duties and as they say, the show must go on (and that’s not just a saying) so we just keep going. The students begin to arrive and our host from the Breckenridge Music Festival begins her announcements. I know within seconds that we’re in trouble. The students are loud and not from being enthusiastic, they’re just loud. Rambunctious. Rowdy. It’s going to be up to me to get things under control and set behavior expectations. Calling on my arsenal of teacher skills, I go out to talk to the audience. I’ve got things pretty well in hand in about 1-minute. I do some extra talking with this group because I realize that we’ve got some middle school students in the audience and this is not an easy show to watch. It’s very emotional and there’s some tough subject matter. I still think we’re going to have some inappropriate behavior, but that’s part of why we’re here too. Students today aren’t being regularly exposed to the arts; no one is teaching them how they are supposed to behave, so it’s up to us, as an arts organization, to take that on.

The Young Artists are doing their best to make the show engaging and powerful and we are getting responses from the students. The fight scene is tense and I’m on edge watching from the wings as Jared does the move that will stress his shoulder. With Ben’s support, they get though it OK. Brett and Ben’s fight gets some audible gasps from the students, so I know they’re following the story. It’s at this point in the show where the inappropriate really starts to become a problem. During Colleen’s poison aria, the students are talking loudly and calling out comments. As Brett sings his final aria and goes into his dialogue, there’s a moment when I almost go out and stop the show. The comments from the audience have become almost more than I am willing to allow. The teachers are in the room, but not acting on anything they’re hearing as far as I can tell. I decide to just get through it. There’s a portion of the audience who is still listening; is still with us. We owe it to those kids to show them the whole story. I play charades with Ben and Louise backstage and tell them not to wait for the silence after the death scene but just go out as soon as I tell them. The show ends and even the final applause for bows has a level of inappropriateness.

I go out and get things back under control (kids know who they can push and who they can’t). I introduce Taylor and then bring the Young Artists back out for a Q&A. They’ve been through the ringer today. Performers can hear and feel everything their audience does or doesn’t do, so it’s been tough on them. They gave a good performance though and didn’t quit. Surprisingly, we get some thoughtful questions from the students. I take as many as I think we can handle and then end the program. As people begin to get out of costume, when we’re all feeling rather low, a young lady comes backstage. She talks to Louise and apologizes for her classmates’ behavior. Louise handles it with grace and professionalism and tells her that we hope she enjoyed the performance. She says that she loved it; she loves Shakespeare and we made it come alive for her. For the second time today I think – at least we reached one… and one is enough.

Colleen goes to spring us, I mean claim our licenses, while load out happens. The school has had an art show and there is student work up all over the hallways. Some of the pieces are truly outstanding; a couple I’d take home if they were for sale. It’s nice to see that art is represented in some form at the school. Load out done, we take a breather outside and eat some snacks. Everyone is running on empty. Jared’s going to have to drive back because I’m still spinning. We stop at the famous South Park sign and strike some glamour shots and then a few of us grab something to take back to Nathrop for dinner.

Once we reach the lodge/cabin, we all head our own ways. I’ve got an appointment for a facial at the spa and Brett, Louise and Ben will be having a massage later (separately). Jared, Brett and I eat a very quick meal and then head down to the hot springs and spa.
Brett and I check in at the spa and Jared hits the hot tub. Ben, Louise, Colleen and Taylor are eating in the restaurant in the lodge and will join us later. I follow Brett into the locker room, but before I get too far Jared calls out to me. It seems I was about to enter the forbidden zone – the men’s locker room. I give a coy smile and make a quick U-turn and head into the locker room that’s of the more appropriate variety for me. Over the next hour, I am treated to a heavenly experience. I’ve never had a facial like this in my life. I don’t pamper myself very often and this was truly pampering. As I get up to leave, my body has become so relaxed that I’ve lost the ability to fully control my limbs. Now I know what Jared was feeling when he emerged from his massage yesterday.  I make my way, as best I can, out to the sitting area where I see Jared grinning at me. I flop into a chair and mumble incoherent answers to his questions. I have become a marshmallow… and it’s wonderful.

While we wait for the others, Jared and I hit the juice bar where a small miracle occurs. Jared gets me to try tomato juice. Now I have very strong feelings about tomatoes. I believe that, in their raw state, they are larva and not finished forming. This was a huge step for me. Jared and I take our juices outside and sit by the fire.  While we sit there, we reminisce about the last 2 years. Colleen and Taylor join us looking like very relaxed bathing beauties. Colleen tells us am amusing story about a time where she and a friend were digging for bait and her friend got a puncture wound from a garden tool. She tells it better… While we sit and chat, a zombie approaches. Wearing a robe and fresh from his massage, Brett staggers toward us. He looks fabulous. Rumpled, hair all askew and completely relaxed. Ben joins us shortly thereafter, also having enjoyed his massage and then Louise enters, and she’s almost floating. Well done spa – we needed this.

We sit enjoying the pools and outdoor fire until the stars come out. It’s peaceful. It’s bliss. It’s shattered. Someone new enters our party. This someone introduces himself and tells us how much he loves fire. He loves to burn things too – calls himself a bit of a pyro, but not the dangerous kind. By this time, I’m hiding my face in Jared’s shoulder to hide the fact that I’m laughing and he does his best to keep me from saying something inappropriate. Colleen and Taylor are courteous and Brett is still in a daze and looking at the stars. Mr. Pyro tells us he’ll be back soon, so we leave before that happens. Colleen and Louise go for a steam, Taylor heads back to the cabin, Ben takes one last dip in the pool and Jared and Ben say farewell to the sauna. I take a few minutes alone to read and keep a wary eye out for any overly-large flames outside.

Everyone turns in for the evening. Back at ye ole cabin, Taylor reads while Brett, Jared and I spend another evening sitting outside stargazing. The two of them are in rare form tonight and take turns making each other laugh until they are crying. Brett does an impression of an unexpected animated substance who turns into diamonds that has Jared almost falling out of his chair. The subject matter changes to breakfast plans and they make up an impromptu patter song about the morning meal worthy of Gilbert & Sullivan. Yep - Time for bed!

The cabin quiets quickly – it’s been a long day with its share of challenges. I blog about them before turning in. While it would be easy for me to say every performance we do is loved by every audience we perform for, that’s just not the case. Sometimes we have days like today. It’s part of what we do and even though it can be really frustrating, we try and focus on the positive moments and work together to get through the rest. I think again about how important it is that we’re out there, telling people about opera; showing them what it’s all about. We’ll keep at it and reach one person at a time.

Until tomorrow - goodnight readers,


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