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» Sunday, June 15, 2008"After the Ball is Over..."
We just arrived back at the hotel from the show. The entire night was super fun.
We headed for the theatre and the parking garage about four thirty, but were still a bit late for dinner because we forgot the tickets. We hurried back as fast as we could considering the lights were badly timed (you'd get through a green to find a red, which would turn green just as the next light turned red, ad infinitum, and then found the road blocked complete further on). But we met Rodney just as we arrived in the garage, and walked to the restaurant together. We were meeting Cindy and Jen (who flew in all the way from Seattle) that we knew, and also at the table were a couple, Maurice and Diane, from Chicago. I'm not sure how they all got together, but we had a great time talking about Remember WENN, television that we watched, what we did for a living, etc. The restaurant's name was "Famous Bistro" and the food was indeed as delicious as advertised. I looked with regret at Maurice's penne pasta in marinara sauce; after this afternoon I didn't dare have anything that rich. I had the chicken marsala instead, and was surprised at how moist they had managed to make the chicken breasts.
Finally it was getting close to show time, so we decamped and headed for the theatre. Our particular performance was held at the Jody Berry Theatre within the complex, which has a larger theatre for plays, function space, classrooms, and even a bookstore. I didn't realize until after I'd bought the tickets was that this was going to be presented as a radio play; at least half the plays presented were done as radio plays, so in the end it was like attending an ARTC performance. So we took our seats and waited and...the magic began.
We had been told the story was a combination between "Armchair Detective" and "The Ghost of WENN," and indeed, CJ's name was in the cast list, but the latter plot did not appear. We understand Rupert was writing the show right until the deadline. Instead, we are shown Betty's arrival at WENN with some additional lines and changed situations (for instance, Eugenia has a speaking part and Celia is already at the station), and some situations tossed in from other episodes, including Betty "saving" Hilary by singing "I Gotta Sing." Then the story segues into the "Armchair Detective" portion of the story.
The end was very bittersweet. Jeff speaks about an odd-looking invention with a screen the size of a postage stamp arriving at the station ten years after he began working at WENN. You watched a blurry figure of a man read the news. Then each of the characters starts talking about how different everything became once television entered the scene. How once they could play different parts, younger or older, but on television Hilary ended up playing Beaver's grandmother and Mackie goes from playing all the loves of Mavis Baxter to having to settle for being the clown on a kids' birthday show. How we lost being able to create fantastic images in our head, volcanos, palaces, etc. and had to settle for what we saw on the screen. Very bittersweet, working in the ensemble ending from "Christmas in the Airwaves" which includes the "that's what radio does to strangers, it makes family of us all" line. Then "Betty" concludes the story by singing "Remember WENN."
Yeah, I blubbered through the entire finale.
Oh, also very interesting, Victor Comstock was played by Gary Sandy. Yes, Gary Sandy from WKRP in Cincinnati. He didn't play Victor with quite as much passion as John Bedford Lloyd. The young woman who played Betty, Amy Walker, was excellent. She didn't quite have Amanda Naughton's voice, but she was a good singer and sincere, the perfect picture of a country girl from Elkhart, Indiana, who won a writing contest. Major points went to the gentleman who played Mr. Foley (the program's in the car and I can't remember his name; physically he kind of resembled David Tennant), who, like Tom Beckett, endlessly provided wordless counterpoint to the actors performing nearby. One scene, which was adapted from "Close Quarters," had him fall asleep under the table; the whole sequence was fun just to watch him.
We wandered out of the theatre, said goodnight to Cindy, and talked a little more to Maurice and Diane before they wandered on. Then James, Rodney, and Jen and I went out along the Riverwalk where they were going to be showing a sneak preview of the new Journey to the Center of the Earth which stars a local boy, Josh Hutcherson, the one who played Jess in the new version of Bridge to Terabithia. He was present at the Mystery Festival and was met by a complement of shrieking girls.
The bridge that crosses the Ohio River is right next to the theatre complex, so it was stretched in the background behind the makeshift movie screen they had set up, dotted with lights against the dark sky. It was very pretty.
We all needed to get back to our respective hotels as we all need to head home tomorrow, but we couldn't quite give up being together for a while yet, so we stood talking outside, and then since we were thirsty, went back inside and sat chatting near the water fountain for some time longer. We talked about the old days on chat, of Joanne and the infamous Nadine, about Dana, and Rupert's music, and...oh, so many things.
And then Rodney started the Carol Burnett closing song and we all joined in as we headed for the parking lot and said good-bye.
"I'm so glad we had this time together,
Just to share a laugh or sing a song.
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say so long."
And then it was back to mundanity, filling up on gas at a very lonely IGA gas station and placing our purchases at the back of the car in prep for tomorrow, and finally returning to the hotel...to log onto chat and talk to Rodney again. LOL.
Like Kermit the Frog, we'd like to come back here someday. :-)