This all actually happened Thursday, but Thursday's blog had already been reserved by Birthday Mad-Libs, and last night was a late Scott Pilgrim showing, so this got pushed to tonight.
Had the opportunity to perform in the two-person (really three) production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe at Miller Outdoor Theater last Thursday. It's really an outstanding venue and always a fun place to perform. I've performed there twice, run sound for one production, and been on crew/shark detail for one show. There's a part of me that always gets jealous when one of our fully-staged children's theater series shows travels to Miller because it's always a show I'm not involved with, so I have to hope they book our touring group. Fortunately, they did, and the date they chose for this performance was August 19. Unfortunately, August 19 fell within the hottest two weeks of the summer this year. (On the whole, I haven't felt this summer to be particularly terrible; I'd go for a jog around 11 and sometimes walk from one workplace to the other at 2:30 and it was always bearable until these past two weeks hit. Brutal, brutal, brutal)
Driving to the theater, I caught a clip of the weather forecast for the day. Now, in Houston, late-morning is generally one of the worst times of the day. It's as the old saying goes: "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." (The head doesn't get terrible until after 3:00) Naturally, we were going to be performing at 11:00, so I was more interested in the intangibles than the straight temperature. "We've got a high today of 95," the voice on the radio said, and I thought This might not be too horrible after all, "with a heat index of 103-107."
Okay, fine. I'd been mentally prepping for this anyway. If it's gonna be hot, it may as well be hot as h-e-double-hockey-sticks.
That's right, I just linked to a clip from a Disney Channel original starring Matthew Lawrence as a hockey player an Rhea Perlman as Satan.
And no, I won't do it any more.
I'd gone out the night before to pick up some Gatoerade or Powerade or whatever (hence the super-profound "Powerade" post a couple of days ago) because I wanted lots of things like electrolytes running through our systems so we wouldn't pass out during the show. Two actors + all of Narnia = lots of sweat under normal circumstances and copious amounts in August 19 circumstances. So, Powerade it was, because I don't think anywhere in Houston sells Powerthirst (warning: the preceding link includes an oddly placed F-bomb but is otherwise clean). So, off to Kroger, where I learned that I could either buy 4 32-oz bottles of Powerade for $4 or 8 32-oz bottles of Powerade for $4. I had to bust out the calculator (you know, the one on my cell phone!) but I finally decided that 8 was the better deal, so there was plenty of Powerade to go around.
There were separate dressing rooms for men and women, but since there was only one of each gender we shared the men's dressing area as sort of a pre-show hangout/warmup room. (Don't worry, we still changed in our own separate rooms, but an hour before the show is a long time to spend by yourself) This became humorous when Leah was sitting by the makeup mirror closest to the door while I was hanging out with Hatcher (our sound tech) near the back. My direct supervisor from work came by for the show and thought he'd drop in to see how we were doing half an hour before showtime. There's a knock at the door, and Leah's delightfully feminine voice rings out, "Come in!" Come in he did, with a fairly confuzzled look settled firmly upon his brow. He looked down at her with one eyebrow raised and, referring to the sign outside the door, asked simply, "Men?"
It was probably a lot funnier if you were there.
He said a prayer for the three of us, we downed some electrolytes, I positioned a cooler with two more bottles of Powerade directly behind the grand drape for immediate consumption upon completion of the performance, and we went out to do our thing. The show went very well. I could feel the energy-sapping heat, but I never really felt it starting to affect me or slow me down. My mic had some issues, and every time I heard it go out I tried to see if I was doing anything that could have been hurting the signal, but there didn't seem to be any consistency when it happened (other than it was often on a laugh line. Figures.) I have to say that it felt like we were being taken care of. I felt like there was a constant breeze, only while most Houston breezes are just blowing hot grossness from one place to another, this one was at least minorly refreshing. I don't know if there was actually a breeze, or if this was a result from the ceiling fans positioned directly over the audience (I've never really noticed these fans affecting the stage much in my previous trips), or if God was just fanning us lightly with His hand throughout the show. Either way, it was wonderful, and while we were still hot, fatigued, and drenched with perspiration at the end of the show, we did make it, and the crowd loved it.
We came backstage and chugged some more Ade before heading out to the lip of the stage to greet our audience. One group of kids stayed until everyone else had left and then the entire group of twenty or so came forward at once with their questions. I usually enjoy talking to the kids after performances and helping them realize that acting on stage is so similar to using their own imagination in their playtime at home. You can almost see the metaphorical lightbulb come on as they realize that the actors are normal people like they are.
After about fifteen minutes or so, when most of the crowd was gone, the Miller crew raised the huge grand drape, and the cool air powerful air conditioners (which all exist upstage from the drape and therefore didn't reach our performance space at all) rushed out toward us. The kids threw their hands up in the air, and many of them gasped, "Oh, thank you!" melodramatically.
Yeah kid, I though. I'll bet sitting there watching under gigantor fans really takes it out of you.