Sunday, February 20, 2011

Second Round

I left Dallas and flew to Miami. John flew in from NYC and we met at the airport. The truck rental is five minutes from the Miami airport. We booked our ten footer to continue the journey.
It was an hour drive to Key Largo by way of the Garmin. Rarely did the mechanical voice nag us for going the wrong way even when we stopped for a quick bite to eat.
We arrived at the Ocean Reef Club in the rental truck which stuck out like a Mensa candidate at a Sarah Palin rally.
ORC is a private community/city of condos, apartments and high end shops surrounding a Yacht club and golf course. The mode of transportation is golf carts and electric GEM vehicles. Some of the carts are customized to look like everything from a Corvette to a Hummer. At one point I thought we could have been diving on a large scale version of Disneyland's Autopia ride. There was even a golf cart that is customized to look like a 50's hot rod complete with pin striping and decal flames on the side.
Rather than taking us to the hotel registration, the Garmin lead us to the Ocean Reef Cultural Center, the very place we will be performing tomorrow night. Being Sunday it was closed but John and I got out to look around. It is an institutional looking building containing a library, museum, dining room and performance space. We looked through a curtain drawn window and saw a basic banquet room with a lecture stage, no wings, no curtain and residential can type track lighting pointed to the stage. Our smiles turned to mush. We began to wonder how we would get the show mounted on what was basically a riser. Neither of us panicked but later admitted that we were only holding it together for the other persons sake.
We checked into the hotel which is several blocks away, by golf cart, dumped our stuff and found the producer on site had given us a golf cart to use during our stay. I was hoping for one that looked like a miniature BMW, but it is just a standard cart.
We jumped into the cart and began to explore. Now that we were not in a truck we could blend in with greater ease. It is a huge property that looks more like a community designed by a theme park artist than urban planner. They even have their own hospital, and private airport with some very large private planes on the tarmac. We found the only restaurant that has a relaxed dress code and allows jeans at their own private fishing village wharf. Everything seemed to be a dream except the performance space.
After finding all the other restaurants where residents were entering with coat and tie, we stumbled upon the Cultural Center again. This time we noticed a lady with a name tag walking around. We thought that she might be able to open the door to the banquet hall and let us see the space.
Like Alice following the white rabbit we tracked her from a far to a door that seemed to be open. It was, and the lights to the Vestibule were on. We continued down the rabbit hole and were suddenly in the banquet room. There was no mistake, it is a lecture stage like might be in a high school cafeteria. Another lady with a name tag was at the reception desk seating people for an evening meal. Our wardrobe caught her attention at once and she quickly cut us off. "May I help you?" .... read "May I help you find the exit quickly?" she said.
"Well, we just wanted to see the room because I am doing a show here tomorrow night,"
She immediately softened and lit up, "You are Jay Johnson..... Oh my god we are so excited to have you here... I am a huge SOAP fan and we are really looking to the show. How is Bob?
"I'll show you around the stage.." she said, and led us toward the back of the dinning room. I thought I detected a tear in John's eye as he looked toward the baron sterile riser. There was really nothing to see that we could not see from where we were.
We walked toward our fate but she suddenly took a left turn through a hallway filled with enlargements of playbills hung on the walls. I even recognized some of the faces on the covers. She opens a door and we are in a theatre. A raked audience with comfortable seats that could accommodate a crowd of 400. Real theatrical lights were hung, there was more wing space than the Eisemann. There were several dressing rooms. It was a real theatre. John lit up and said, "This will work." Again like Alice in Wonderland I suddenly felt ten feet tall.
Now there is a lot of work to do tomorrow and John will be kept on suicide watch for awhile. Our show is more complicated than the Neil Sadaka concert that was here two nights ago, but at least we have a space that can work. Both John and I come from poor theatre and we can turn a sows ear into at least a cotton purse. Now at least we have a chance to make it work.
I will rest much easier tonight and even feel good enough to write a blog. More Later.
As you were,


Roomie said...

Mandy says that I should have read the end first and then go back to the had us frightened as though we were with you guys....a riser stage....certainly not in THAT affluent community....sounds almost as nice as the Woodlands Aud in the V....your show needs to come here....the real theatre, that is....hope John has a crew to assist and we are glad that you are there and hope you slept well....looking forward to more notes as you go....lots of love to you, John and the boys.....

Phil Nichols said...

Have a great tour Jay! Your show is AWESOME.