Monday, August 27, 2007

CirqueCon - Revisit (cont.'d)

Last time, I had recapped the first portion of our 'convention.'  This took us through a very extensive and lengthy theatre visit, backstage tour, Q&A session with Cirque's Richard Dennison and Bob Shuck.

So, we were ending our tour and question session and there we sat. In this very awe-inspiring theatre, having a brief but much more thorough understanding of what it took to run and operate the facilities. We, as well, also had an artistic understanding of the Cirque organization and its desire to put on the very best entertainment show around. With La Nouba being my first experience to the Cirque organization, I may be biased in my impression that so far, of the 10-12 show types I've seen, this is by far the best. (I do qualify that slightly because in meeting with other passionate's, they too seem to gravitate toward their first show as being their favorite.)

It was 2PM and we had a few hours to ourselves. We were in Downtown Disney's West End (which just gave me the thought that they should add a couple of B'way type shows to the Pleasure Island/West End area.) We decided to have a bite to eat at Wolfgang Puck's eatery. ( I highly recommend the restaurant.) Then it was off to do as we pleased until a 6:30 PM dinner to be held as a Cirque group at the House of Blues.

We arrived on time to just be seated to our dining area. Two large tables were formed for the 40+ of us. WE sat to the rear of the establishment where windows overlooked the lake and cove towards Port Orleans. The food was great and it comes recommended as well. The best part of this dinner was the meet and greet. Our personal group had gathered at the rear-most table looking toward everyone else. I always try to situate myself at some portion of a room or table where I can constantly take in the events surrounding the table. This is not only done because of my inner vicarious nature and tendency to interject friends and family into new conversation and meet new people, but also from an ingrained security standpoint as well. (You never loose that observational edge developed so many years before which kept me out of harms way, for the most part, or at least alive. Always watch entrances and exits and have a strategy, without exception.)

We sat beside a very nice bf/gf couple from Texas. They exuded anticipation and excitement. They knew Cirque players inside and out and at times could recite portions of Cirque show tune lyrics and who the cast members were. (Wholly out of my (our) league when it came to a Cirque knowledge set. They were very engaging and friendly to speak with.

Directly across from us sat Dean Gaveanu and his wife/partner Julie. I can not express WOW enough. They make a very exhilarating couple with their love of life and friends overarching each conversation and topic of discussion. Dave is a Sound Engineer. He's contracted by Studio's and networks for series work. He's worked a few reality shows which may not be recognized by most people. Show's like: COPS and The Amazing Race, among others. 'WTF did you just say?' nearly came out of my mouth when Amanda (FAV) asked him what he did for a living. I was immediately cued in to this conversation. Then came the casual drop by Julie that he's be nominated for an Emmy for The Amazing Race - Sound Editing. And, oh by the way, he was nominated again for this year. (My jaw hit the table.) The conversation obviously turned on a dime and surrounded his experiences and travails. Things like, where have you been in this world?...too many to list ('I have 4 passports filled'), what's your favorite country..' Ethiopia. Its the greenest place on earth rivaling Ireland.' Hardest work...'split - for security reasons..COPS, for just flat out hard work, The Amazing Race.' What's travel like? 'Well, we usually get a couple days notice where we're going next, but most of the time its last minute where I have a chance to call Julie at home and say I'm heading here next, or arrived there (while walking through the airport waiting for bags." What surprised you most about doing this job? "The physicality. When I was doing COPS it was real. What you saw on TV is what really happened (save for editing,) but even after editing it came across the way it was presented to us...REAL. The police really were in some very difficult positions at times, and for us the difficulty was always remaining situationally aware..of our surroundings, where the bad guys were, what shot limitations we had, where the best and secure shot was..that type of thing. Apart from the security issues, like with the Amazing Race, its physical. Its always c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, lets go. Its, 'were moving here with this team' and then tracking them and their exploits full tilt non-stop." "Some of the locations around the world are very challenging. Heat, access to food and water, viable medical needs, staying ahead of and with the contestants. Not getting involved in situations where the crew becomes part of the story." "Those are the hard things. When we finally get off the shoot and arrive back home, my internal clock is all whacky from being in..China or Madagascar. Then I just come home, take a really long shower, have some great pizza, and sleep for a week..literally."

Of the Emmy nominating experience. "I'm, we're, not ones for 'that lifestyle.' The Hollywood types, all pomp and circumstance. We're more the casual let things flow and take them in type of people. With the Emmy's though, you are walking down the Red Carpet, with press, TV camera's and news agencies around. You need to officially 'arrive,' walk the carpet in a tuxedo and sit down in a theatre amongst your literal peers for this very ostentatious presentation." "We're not ones to gam on or become celeb watchers, but you do get caught up in it, the atmosphere. Its almost self-perpetuating. I have to admit, I am excited and proud about it and relish being nominated."

Dean and his wife are truly nice people. Not pretentious, loud, or assuming. Just two very nice down to earth people who enjoy Cirque shows. They found their first show a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. In our discussions they expressed interest in coming to Long Island to visit the wineries and take in what Long Island has to offer these days. Dean is originally from Jamaica, NY (my old stomping grounds) and comes back every now and then because family is in the area, but has never really traveled east. I offered he and Julie my business card and asked that if they do come into town we'd take them to dinner, cook a meal for them or meet up for a drink. We do so dearly hope they call. (As an aside to this, FAV was enthralled. She heard sound engineer and theatre and she lit up like a rocket. She was smiles from ear to ear, at times bouncing in her seat. She couldn't wait to call home to tell Mom "hey, wanna know who I had dinner with tonight?" She later related that when she did get to tell Mom who she was dining with Mom's response was 'WHAT???!!!"

Dinner finished with a very nice speech from Rich and Ricky about how well things were going and that we were typically a very vocal bunch when watching the show.

The Show

Our group had 1st and third row seats in section 103. Others from the group were up in the 204 section as well. To say we hooted and hollered is an understatement. Our viewing of the show was an experience. It was certainly not one of entitlement (which I was a bit internally concerned about, but which was never, ever, expressed or even assumed. I had feared that some of the CirqueCon members might feel their participation in this event would entitle them to special treatment or offerings. I might have been caught up in the NY Theatre scene when local celeb's get involved and expect to be treated this way or that.) To my comfort though, nothing even approaching the heir of this went on. The group was kind and attentive. Excited would a be a great word. Being with the group added a lot to the show. Your bar of excitement and appreciation for the show and production certainly raised exponentially. By happenstance, your senses became aware of each and every motion made by the cast and crew. You understood what they were going through and the technical challenges efforted to put this show on. The atmosphere was electric.

It began with the two clowns. Our group exploded with applause and cheers. Immediately you could see a perspective change by the characters and cast. Having made their way finally to the stage, the prop boxes dropped off the hand cart and fell into the audience including the first row of passionate's. A box was picked up by one of our members and passed down the row. It went back and forth with Michele Deshamps adapting to where the box was and the audiences (unusual) input. Off the clowns went to continue their act and leave behind the curtain. The next acts followed, also to high applause and cheers from our passionate's.

This applause was noticed, I can say. As new cast members arrived on stage and came near the audience, then recognize that audience members were very exuberant, you could see expressions change. In a couple cases I even noticed a look of determination sweep across their face. It appeared before my very eyes that word was spreading backstage that this was an unusual crowd tonight. Very accepting and enthused, appreciative and expectant. As successive cast members and acts came out you really felt that the show was determined and on mark. (in the show we'd seen earlier in the week, the cast was typically fantastic, but things were a bit slower. The performances wonderful while at the same time calculating. Tonight it really felt that all stops were out.

The Power Rings was intriguing. Each and every sway, gyration, and movement was choreographed to the smallest extent and on time. Right down to the cast members foot shuffle into the rubber retaining straps, in sync and spot on.

The two cyclists - sped with ferocity across the stage coming ever closer to the edge of the stage before stopping on mark and displaying their typical balance and technical prowess. Then it came time for the 'leap of faith,' as I call it, where Les Cons play a part and grab an audience member to lay down beside one of their own and have the cyclist jump across them. They go and grab one of our Texas friends and use him on stage (while muttering niceties to his girlfriend in his seat.) Truly an amazing sight to behold.

On and on this went, act after act. The cast members heavily makeup' d faces could not seem to drown out their personal surprise and recognition of meeting a waterfall of audience excitement. In the end, the cast came out for a very unusual third curtain call, some with what I perceived to be expressions of astonishment at what reaction they were getting from the audience. Hoots, hollers, whistles, cheers. It was exhausting almost.

Post Show

We remained on our feet for a long time. The house lights had come up and the audience was moving through the exits. We stayed at our seats with the rest of the group from 204 making their way down to us. Then one cast member showed his face and the group exploded with applause. A huge smile on his face as he walked toward the seats and began shaking hands. Then another and another and finally Richard Dennison showed up and walked up on stage introducing cast members to the passionate's. Small gatherings here and there started to develop -

 - when Richard asked that we gather toward the back of the stage near the boulder set for our group picture.

We all gathered together while Richard graciously had a bigger camera with him and took five (5) shots of the group in various poses.  Above is the pic I like best of the five.


....more later. 

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