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November 17, 2005

What I Did Last Weekend

On Friday, I got to experience something I had won at an auction this spring: a walk-on role in "Sweeney Todd" at the 5th Avenue Theatre in downtown Seattle. This is something they now appear to be doing every year (the policeman who walked on stage during the title song in "Singin' in the Rain" last year was a similar auctioned walk-on). For "Sweeney Todd" I was onstage during the song "The Contest", when Pirelli and Sweeney Todd are battling over who is the best barber in London.

There was very little preparation for it: I had come in a few weeks earlier to be measured and fitted for my costume (turn of the century London lower-class mufti) but the rest was just showing up an hour before curtain on Friday, doing a quick walkthrough of where I would be on stage and how I would enter and leave, and I was declared ready to go, retreating to my personal dressing room (complete with my name on a star) to wait for my cue.

My main co-conspirator in all this was the lovely and talented Bobbi Kotula, one of the ensemble members for the production. She had drawn the task of helping all the walk-ons (they did the same role as a walk-on for every performance). She was the one who gestured for me to come on stage, I stood next to her during the scene, and then she shooed me off. My main task was to direct the audience's attention by alternating looking at Pirelli and Sweeney Todd when the focus was on them. During the "rehearsal" I was asking Bobbi questions about how fast I should come on stage, should I exaggerate my emotions, etc. and her advice was the Yoda-esque "Don't think, be". I was reminded of a local theater that a few years ago did a live version of the movie "Point Break", with the Keanu Reaves part played each night by a different unrehearsed non-actor pulled from the audience. But Bobbi was right; once I got on stage for my bit, it was easiest to simply react to what was happening, without thinking about it too much. When someone gestured at something on stage, I would naturally lean over to look at it because the curiosity my character was supposed to feel was naturally mirrored by my own curiosity.

It was cool being backstage because people were running around in costume and signing along to the show on stage, except it wasn't just some random schmo signing along, it was a trained professional actor/actress, so they sounded pretty good. In the end a great time was had by all and there are even pictures of the event, although only backstage stuff, nothing of my actual moment in the sun. Bobbi, incidentally, is going to be in "Sleeping Beauty" at the Seattle Children's Theater.

On Saturday I flew down to the O.C. to stay with my sister-in-law and her fiance for two nights. The nominal purpose was to visit Legoland (see below), but since we had some time on Saturday we went to Disneyland for the evening. I got to experience the revamped Space Mountain, after waiting through a line claiming to be 105 minutes, even at 10:30 at night (we wound up waiting only about 45 minutes after somebody handed us Fastpasses they weren't going to use). The first time I rode Space Mountain I kept wondering if there was going to be a big drop somewhere, said expectation contributing to my enjoyment of the ride. Once I had ridden it and discovered there was no big drop, the experience was slightly degraded. Well, with the new version, spruced up to be more thrilling (or so I had heard), I had one shot to ride it for the first time and experience the same thrill of the unknown, waiting for the big drop that might be there. And I did enjoy it more (and no I won't spoil it for you by revealing if the big drop really was there).

On Sunday I went down to Legoland for my annual "Master Builder" session that I get from having a lifetime membership (this is the same trip I took last year). I wasn't planning on going except they said this year they would talk about their new plans for a Las Vegas "cluster" (as the Miniland setups are called) and we would get to build a "Las Vegas architectural element". Sounded promising...what would the mysterious architectural element be? It turns out that the plans for a Vegas cluster are still not finalized, all they are sure of is that they will build a replica of the New York New York hotel. Which is funny because NYNY itself consists of smaller versions of real buildings in New York. And Legoland also has a New York cluster in Miniland which consists of smaller versions of real buildings in New York. So a Miniland NYNY hotel would consist of smaller versions of smaller versions of real buildings in New York. Meanwhile the architectural element I got to build was...a small version of the Eiffel Tower in front of Paris Las Vegas, which is of course a smaller version of the real Eiffel Tower (which presumably leads someone to stare at the one in Vegas and say "Only in America" and then have the person next to them say, "No, there's one just like it in France"...but I digress). Legoland also has a full-size miniature (if you know what I mean) Eiffel Tower you can see from the "Coast Cruise" ride.

They were pretty vague on the Las Vegas cluster plans: opening would be in 2007, and the only indication of what they were planning to build was a picture of a computer model that appeared to show it would basically be part of the Strip with what looked like New York New York, Excalibur, Luxor, Aladdin, Paris, a big hotel that might have been MGM Grand or perhaps Wynn, and a couple of the three-spoke jobbies (Mandalay Bar, Bellagio, Mirage, or TI). But of course it was nifty hanging out with the Master Builders and the small Eiffel tower, whatever its ancestry, was fun to build. I asked MB Kristi if the job was boring and she said no, because they got to do many different things (such as take trips to Vegas to study buildings). Then I asked if anybody had proposed marriage as a way to get access to cheap Lego and she said, "No, not yet." A likely story.

On Monday morning I went running through the Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, which was very pretty if somewhat foggy. Then I flew back home. Friday on stage at the 5th, Saturday riding on Space Mountain, Sunday hanging at Legoland...not a bad weekend.

Posted by AdamBa at November 17, 2005 10:50 PM

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In March I am taking the family to Disneyland and Legoland. If you have any suggestions that would be of interest to a 5 year old girl, they would be appreciated.


Posted by: Elliott Simcoe at November 18, 2005 04:55 AM

Well, I could go on at length about both of those, but the main thing I would say is not to short-change Legoland. Disneyland is what it is, but Legoland, for young kids, really has a lot to offer besides Miniland. And it's never very crowded, especially mid-week (although at that time of year it is usually closed Tuesday and Wednesday).

For Disneyland, my main tip would be to get there when it opens and plan your Fastpasses. Buy the "Unofficial Guide" for more details.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at November 18, 2005 09:19 PM