Wednesday, August 12, 2009
SUMMER THEATRE AND HORSES
I didn't want you to think I wasn't having ANY fun this summer. It's not all been a summer of packing, moving, and rehabbing. Although that's been a big part of it. There has been some fun.
I started off the summer trying to attend every show of our outdoor theatre. Called the Muny, it is located in Forest Park within the STL city limits and where the 1904 World's Fair was held. Lots of history in this park and it is just beautiful and very, very big.
The Muny is unique in that besides the ticketed seats, they offer several thousand "free seats". You just have to get there early, stand in line, and grab your seat when the gates open. This works our quite nicely because if for some reason you can't go on a particular night or the weather turns bad, etc. you just blow off the night, no money lost on a ticket. Getting there early, you have to endure the last hour or so of hot sun beating down on you, but once the sun goes does, it cools off, and the show starts.
I orginally tried to organize my co-workers--the ladies--for the Muny shows but for the most part it was just me and one work friend---let's call her Mizzou Mom.
Our first hurdle was getting to Forest Park with the surrounding highway being closed (construction on it for two years and we're mid year two right now). But we armed ourselves with maps and found our way in and to the theatre. This was a two part process as this park is HUGE, so not only do you have to get TO the park, you have to manage to get to the theatre once INSIDE the park and I think the signage inside the park leaves alot to be desired.
Our first show in early June was 42nd Street---never before seen---thoroughly enjoyed although the temp was in the upper 90's (not including the STL humidity). I commented when I stood for the National Anthem while wearing light colored capris, that I hoped everyone behind me didn't think I had an accident because my clothes were soaked through and through. Mizzou Mom assured me that everyone looked the same, not to worry, and it would be dark soon.
Like I said, this show was very enjoyable. Lots of tap dancing, singing, and a good storyline to boot. Mizzou Mom and I had both came to the show different ways and left different ways but there were lessons learned that we were going to improve on for the next show. She was convinced her way rocked and I agreed to try it the next week. Another lesson learned---don't be afraid to SPEAK UP AND LOUDLY WHEN THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU OPENS AN UMBRELLA FOR SUN PROTECTION and blocks your view all around not to mention pokes you in the head---who brings a GOLF UMBRELLA for two for sun protection in a cramped area.
The following week, we saw Annie. Another never before seen (believe that or not) but for some reason, I know the words to "Tomorrow". This show used alot of extras (children) from the STL area, so the show was packed (and we attended all the shows on weeknights, can't imagine the weekend shows). Lots of family and friends of the extras. Weather was not quite as hot this night. And I did indeed enjoy the show. Annie lessons learned: they need more women's restrooms and Mizzou Mom's route does indeed rock and following her out was a piece of cake---making a left turn at the no left turn sign notwithstanding.
Next up was Meet Me In St. Louis. I think this was my favorite show of the season. Beautiful weather, beautiful night, good show---another very crowded show and an usher told us this was a favorite in STL. Of course it is. Also, being right after the 4th of July, there were fireworks at the end of the show. Since with all the packing and moving we did in July, Papa and I didn't get to see any fireworks display, this satisfied my fireworks viewing for the year. Lessons learned: via usher---the women's restoom on the sides of the theatre are much larger, hence the lines move faster AND Mizzou Mom found out where the programs were kept before the shows---free seat patrons don't receive programs, only the ticketed guests get these. But Mizzou Mom is such a rebel,,,,,first illegal left turns and now pilfering programs for us but why should they discriminate against free seaters and not offer them a program.
Negative lesson learned....DO NOT SEAT IN ROW ONE AGAINST THE FENCING between paid and free seats. Although, the view is much better, there is half the leg room as in the other rows and after we sat down for a few minutes, we started looking around for better options but the place was filling up fast and we couldn't move. We couldn't move pretty much the entire show. I had visions of not being able to use my legs when the show was over and I had to get up and walk. But someway, somehow, I was able to stand up and walk to the car after the show.
So it's mid-summer by this time and this leads me to my other summer fun activity that I've been participating in for some months now (actually several years overall, but the new season starts in April).
Horse Hookey. From April-September there is live horse racing at a nearby racetrack (Fairmount Park in Collinsville, IL) and several of my co-workers love to take off on Tuesday afternoons and spend time at the racetrack for Horse Hookey. We go about once a month.
They look so studious, don't they---these people take this seriously!! That's Tiny Sun there at the table. We, my co-workers and I, bring our "outside" friends along to these work events. The more the merrier is our motto or you can't have enough new friends.
So anyway our next Muny date also fell on a Horse Hookey date and MM and I thought why not. We started the day at work, rambled over to the racetrack by noon for the afternoon, and then Mizzou Mom and I headed to Forest Park for our next evening theatre performance. We met at the Boathouse restaurant, along the side of a lake and had an early dinner while watching others cruise around the lakes in paddleboats. Finally, we thought why not, let's rent a paddleboat for an hour before we head to the Muny show. We had plenty of time.
Because neither one of us are in the best physical shape and I've only paddleboated ONE time and her ZERO, it took alot out of us. Much harder than we had imagined watching others cruise languidly around the lake. First, we noticed that all the children were required to wear lifejackets BUT not the adults. When we inquired about this, the girl "loading" us on the boat, looked at us amused and said "the water's only about 4 ft. deep, if you fall out of the boat, just stand up."
Ok then, feeling much safer, we took off paddling, furiously and got about 100 feet out before our first break had to happen as we were both panting from our exertion. After a short rest, we took off again at a more moderate rate and immediately beached ourselves on a sandbar. Yeah, we needed to work a little more on our steering technique. And sure enough the water was quite shallow because in order to unbeach ourself, I had to drop my foot out of the boat and push us off the sandbar.
But we were learning by great leaps and bounds. We paddled around the various tributaries for about 30 minutes, turned around, and managed to get ourself back to the boat dock right on time without either of us having a heart attack OR falling out of the boat.
Then to the Muny for that night's show. Godspell, my least favorite of this season and that's about all I'll say about that. It might not have been the show. It was a sparse crowd though and we had good weather that evening. But for me, after a full day's activity (with the paddleboating pretty much zapping my last bit of energy), I really was ready for the day to come to an end. So I bugged out at the intermission and headed to my awaiting bed. Chatting later with Mizzou Mom, she agreed that she didn't care for that show as much either and the second half didn't improve much from the first half.
Next, we were scheduled for The Music Man. I was really looking forward to this show but alas, the night of the show, severe thunderstorms pounded the area right about the time we were supposed to be leaving for the park. After consulting with the Weather Station, it looked liked this was to be the situation for most of the evening so we bagged the show. See, utilizing the free seat system paid off for us.
Up next was Camelot and I'll rate this number two after Meet Me in St. Louis or maybe tied for second with 42nd Street. Very enjoyable show, very enjoyable night. We knew where to sit, how to utilize the intermission to the best of our ability, and how to leave the park in a very timely manner against the crowd. Perfect overall.
The last show of the season was Hairspray and neither me nor Mizzou Mom could find a good date to go to this. Both our schedules were crammed full this last week and since the shows only run 7 days, it limits us. So again, kudos for the free seat system!
So see, Grammy has been having a little bit of fun this summer and getting her some culture!!
Cultured Grammy signing off