In which a petite puppet-master in the reflects on her trio of travelers…and the ease in which they’re moving through their annual pilgrimage. As her thoughts circle, the wind changes directions…as do the fates of her travelers…)
The alarms go off at 7:00 a.m. In three hotel rooms in Cincinnati, the weary travelers groan in fatigued unison, their bodies convinced that the hour is really 4:00 a.m. (“Oh sleep, why dost thou leave me?”) Shaking off the dregs of Pacific Standard Time, they begin their journey. (“Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go”)
Act 1: A Music Conservatory
Flash VonWhineman, Crabby McGrumperson and Moody Bitcher-san arrive at the recital hall (“Art is calling for me”) to find:
- the doors firmly locked
- the lights out
- no table upon which to rest all of the audition-related gak
A helpful employee opens the room and ransoms a table. But then… piano is stuck. Too many bleachers in the black box, not enough room to get by. The helpful, and now more than slightly annoyed employee summons a production team (Anvil Chorus) who proceeds to move the bleachers. All of them. Almost right up Grumpy’s backside.
Finally, piano, table and gak in place, (along with some beautiful lattes provided by a tall blond mezzo) auditions begin. (“The best of all possible worlds”)
Act 2, Scene 1: Business as usual?
Auditions are going swimmingly until just before noon. (“Di piacer mi balza il core”) Suddenly, Flash, Crabby and Moody’s cell phones all ring simultaneously. While Moody’s call is strangely from a rebirthing center in California (hmmmm….), both Grumpy and Crabby’s calls are from the airline. Flight Cancelled. Full Stop. Abandon hope, all ye who hope to fly to Chicago this evening. (“En vain pour éviter”)
Alternate flights are upwards of $2,500…approximately half the lighting budget for our entire season. Our frugal travelers look for other options. Throughout the lunch break:
- A car is rented and cancelled.
- Crabby hurls curses at automated airline operators.
- Grilled cheese sandwiches (courtesy of a frat selling them for a buck in the lobby) are inhaled.
- Hotel reservations are rechecked for non-smoking-ness (cue: foreshadowing)
- And an alternate flight is arranged… kinda.
Act 2, Scene 2: Table Tennis
The travelers are bounced between two airline terminals, in a desperate attempt to get their fannies (and luggage) on a flight. Batted between one airline to another, and after some of the worst customer service in the history of the western world “(Be Kind and Courteous”), they’re finally assigned to a flight (which has not been cancelled, but has been delayed for an hour.)
Our travelers rush through security, only to find that they’ve been marked as foul: every piece of gak is checked, looked at, tested, and painstakingly repacked… as their flight prepares to leave. (Obviously being bounced around by canceled flights is an indicator of untrustworthiness.) Will they make it in time?
Interlude: Dance of the Security Screeners
Flash wins new opera fans! At airports all over, by repeatedly and patiently explaining each piece of electronic gak in her carry-on, she spreads the excitement of opera to TSA agents all over the country, building the opera audience one security gate at a time. The extra-special security check at CVG gives her an optimal chance at winning over another opera convert.
Act 2, Scene 2: Hellride
Ensconced on the plane, the travelers look forward to a safe arrival in Chicago. After a brief 45-minute flight the plane approaches the runway in rain and heavy fog. (“Mitt Gewitter und Sturm”) Oops. There’s another plane on the runway.
Averting disaster, the pilot pulls out of the descent and climbs back into the air. (Arriere!”) Crabby’s seatmate notices her white knuckles, and strikes up a conversation about travel, wedding rings and opera. (Giving Crabby her chance to convert one for the cause!) After circling for another 30 minutes the plane skids to a stop just before it’s hit by another plane. Crabby resolves to go back to church and tithe if she lives to see her hotel room in Chicago.
Moody’s developing head cold, Crabby’s stiff neck, and Flash’s exacerbated periodic sweating building to a crescendo as they deplane at O’Hare. (“Nella testa ho un campanello che fa din din din…)
Act 3: A Storied Chicago Hotel, an Icon of Civility. Or Not.
Beaten down by their travels, Flash, Moody and Crabby finally arrive at their plush downtown Chicago hotel. Hoping for some respite from the beastly day, they check in with the 12-year-old Desk Attendant. She cheerfully informs the downtrodden trio that the hotel has only smoking rooms available. (“La fumée, qui vers les cieux…”)
Flashing back to Act 2 (and remembering the smoking rooms foisted on them in Houston, smelling up their clothes for the entire trip), Crabby dives over the counter to not-so -politely inform the Desk Attendant that a specific request for non-smoking rooms had been confirmed earlier that day. (“Is This All You Can Bring?”) Chaos ensues, until Moody gets another call from the rebirthing center, hands the phone to the desk attendant and says “it’s for you.” (“To This We’ve Come”)
Armed with restaurant vouchers and a promise for smoke-free accommodations in an hour and a half, the trio settles in at the bar for booze and appetizers… copious appetizers. They wait. And wait. (“O vin, dissipe la tristesse”) And write this blog.
Eventually, the hotel gives up its rooms. One by one. The final one falls at 12:20 EST. Seven hours and 5 minutes after climbing into the cab in Cincinnati, 294 miles away.
Next time we’re driving.
A special post, co-authored by Rahree, CameraMan & KPW. Come sing for us and make us happy.