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Leaps and Bounds: A First Night Adventure

Ringing in a new year means many things for many people. Some usher it in with re-inspired hopes and resolutions for the betterment of their lives. Others welcome in the new year with a bottle of brandy and attack dogs foaming at the mouth, threatening its life if it dare come any closer. I am happy to announce that the clowns ushered in the new year doing what they love- making audiences laugh so hard that they piddle their pants in delight.

Invited to perform “Mom?” and at the Baggy Pants Cabaret (hosted by the infamous Chris Bange) at a First Night Festival by our friends and fringe mentors, Grant Knutson and Heather Wilson, the clowns strapped the box to the top of their little clown car and headed to Tacoma, Washington. Unfortunately, google maps does not have a feature that estimates arrival times factoring in the wind-resistance of having an orange-covered-box-apparatus atop your car. Many hours later, we made it to our tech rehearsals where we were incredibly thankful for our FIRST BOX ROADIE EVER. Yan Collazo was a rockstar amidst the chaos. He was our runner when we forgot things in the car (so many trips for him); a box builder when we lost Jeff to the sound technician; a cheerleader when we were feeling down and overwhelmed (gimme a b- B! gimme an o- O! gimme an x- X! BOX! BOX! BOX! BOX! BOX!); and our photographer (priceless moments captured). We have officially named him (or at least I have), Sir Yan Callazo, Master of All Box Roadies and Favorite of the Clowns.

After all that mayhem of moving everything into the beautiful Theatre on the Square space- which by the way, has a capacity of 302 attendees, which even if we filled only half of it, it would be the biggest audience “Mom?” has ever seen- we went to rehearse our cabaret pieces in the hotel. We were put up at the gorgeous Hotel Murano- to give you an idea of the unexpected grandeur we stepped into, every floor of the hotel was dedicated to a different glass artist. HOW COOL? I definitely thought we were going to get kicked out at any minute for not being cool enough to be in there. AND the best part? We got to stay in this swanky place for FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! Thank you Heather and Grant!

Now, to touch on the cabaret pieces- we began before the holidays with some pretty crazy ideas; refined them through the holidays; and perfected them on the car ride up. The first piece we came up with was an umbrella routine with crazy characters doing an odd array of dance moves to even odder music. It ended up going over alright, but it wasn’t as much of a hit as our second cabaret piece. So, a bit of background for the next piece… during the production of Alice in Wonderland, that we did with Tears of Joy Theatre and Teatro Calamari in November, we did everything we possibly could to try and convince our director and cast member, Tim Guigni, to make the Chesire Cat a butt puppet. If you haven’t seen the proposed video, go do it right now- Anyways, long story short, the idea was ix-nay-ed. So we decided to try it out cabaret style! I made the butt puppet Penelope and she did a whole routine to the song “Let it Go” from Frozen. And BOY, did that elicit a response. I bet it was the funniest piece of the whole night- or at least a close second behind “Mom?” teehee! Behind. Butt puppet.

So at the hotel, we worked furiously on the cabaret pieces to get them audience ready when we looked at the clock and realized we had to be at the theatre in 30 minutes to set for the show. PANIC! AHHHHH! RED LIGHT! RED LIGHT! TORNADO SIRENS! Chaos ensued as we slapped on makeup, threw on costumes, did up hairs, and raced to the theatre, pushing through the now packed streets. Kids goggling and pointing at the clowns stumbling by, vendor carts being overturned, chickens flying everywhere- okay, maybe it wasn’t quite like that. Though it was one of the few times where I wished I had Laura’s long legs. I could hardly keep up with her! Suffice it to say, we made it to the theatre on time and we started our show not even 15 minutes later. Close. Call.

A note about performances- sometimes as a performer or an ensemble you hit all the steps in just the right way and everything goes just the way you want it to. It’s perfect. It’s sublime. Audiences rave and give standing ovations. Other times everything slips through your fingers like sand and you are left on stage with nothing but your character to protect you and get you through it, scrambling to pick up the slippery pieces of your show and string them together like popcorn during the holidays. And sometimes everything goes to awry, that even your box breaks.

I would love to say that our First Night performance at Tacoma was the former. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), our performance was the latter. HOWEVER! There was an estimated 240 people and they literally COULD NOT STOP LAUGHING. At practically everything we did. I would even put money on a couple kids and adults piddling their pants in delight. We definitely put the FUN in FUNERAL that night.

And now we are onto the next thing. Extending the show another 10 minutes. Yes, that’s right. Another 10 whole minutes of pants-peeing-belly-laughing delight. It will be premiering at Fertile Ground at the end of the month. Keep checking in for more details!

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