Monday, October 16, 2017

Magic Flute

I do love Amazon.

We went to the Lamplighters Gala yesterday.  The gala is always preceded by a silent auction of things members of the company have donated, and other larger items they've been able to coerce people to give.  

One the table of thing that had been given by Lamplighters I saw this book.  Patricia Minger is a woman who performed with the Lamplighters for 3 years in the mid-80s.  I knew her name, I kinda sorta remembered what she looked like.  I didn't bid on the book, but looked at it and saw that it was praised by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.  The plot sounded interesting (flautist on her way up is involved in a terrible acccident that ruins her hand and she must find another way to add meaning to her life). 

It was about 45 minutes before the show was going to start and I was not interested in checking the other auction items because we are looking to divest ourselves of things rather than to add things.  I had my Kindle with me, so I went to shop on amazon and in a matter of minutes, I had purchased Magic Flute and was happily sitting in the lobby reading my new book.  And so far, it's good!  

I saw Pat at the party after the show and told her what I'd done and how much I was enjoying it so far.
As for the Gala, this was the 51st anniversary of this fund-raising show, and we have been  to most of them, including the very first one at the Harding Theater.  In those days there was unlimited champagne after the show and for several years, I went home definitely in my cups.  Now the champagne is still there but there is less of it and we do manage to go home sober (in fact, I drink water, not champagne).

Every year there have been Lamplighters manning the bar at the party and this year it looked like they had hired a professional company to do it.  There were snacks.  Last year there were bowls of snacks at several spots throughout the big room, but last night they were all concentrated in one tiny spot right next to the bar.

Most ridiculous set-up ever.  Several hundred people all wanting drinks and food and all trying to get into this teeny, tiny area.  There was a big box of snack bags in the back so bowls were filled as soon as they were emptied (almost immediately), but if they had been spread out throughout the room, things would have worked MUCH better (especially for people like me who don't drink alcohol, who were feeling overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise and who just wanted to sit somewhere and observe, while eating).  I also caused a problem asking for water instead of champagne.  First they couldn't find any and then they found one big bottle and couldn't get it opened.  In previous years I was able to pick up a bottle of water and take it with me. We needed Paul and Henry!!!

As for the show, it was, of course, very funny.  This year it was based on Saturday Night Live, so the format was more a throwback to the earliest days, when there was no plot line, but individual funny numbers, some funnier than others.  I think people who are fans of Saturday Night Live and Game of Thrones got more out of it than others.

At intermission was my least favorite part of recent shows;  the auction.  After the silent auction has closed in in the lobby, a live auction starts in the theater....the big ticket items.  There is a professional auctioneer who drives in from Davis to run the auction.  He's good, but very irritating.  And he raised over $50,000 for the company in half an hour, so an asset, but I truly hate it.  One of the big ticket items was this fancy framed tribute to the Golden State Warriors (here held by Jonathan Spencer, one of the writers for the Gala):

I'll give the auctioneer credit.  He did his darndest, but finally had to admit that this was a theater audience, not a sports audience and the thing went unsold.  The week trip in a villa in Italy, however, was so popular, he managed to get three different people to spend $5600 (each) for it.

I had to smile at the original lyrics for this show.  Back in 1983 when office manager David Witmer and I convinced Gilbert to do the first of the plot galas, his argument against it was the the chorus would never be able to learn new lyrics to songs that were not from shows they had done during the previous season.  We wrote a plot for Major General Hospital and a few of the songs had new lyrics and the chorus did a beautiful job.

That ushered in the era of plot galas and each year they have become more and more elaborate.  The first was written by Gilbert, David and myself, but then we started adding new people to the committee and by the time Gilbert died, in 1986, there was a viable committee to take over for Gilbert.  That committee has exceeded any expectations Gilbert ever had and the resulting show is worth the $100 ticket price.

When it ended, our friends Diana and Jill agreed with us that it had been too long...but then it always is, but somehow it doesn't matter.

The best part of the evening was the surprise for outgoing managing director, Sarah Vardigans, who is leaving to join the Peace Corps in Senegal.  The tribute to her was a complete surprise.

There was also another complete surprise of a Legacy Award for Chris Focht, who has been with the company for 50 year (we predate him by about 3 years, but we never performed).  I looked at all those people on stage and remembered all of the back stories -- who used to be married to whom, who had had live-in relations with whom, whose children have problems, whose children now perform with the company, who is no longer with us, etc., etc., etc.

It's an expensive evening, but it is always a full mix of emotions thinking back over all the galas I remember from previous years, and makes me so proud of having been a part of this San Francisco tradition for nearly 60 years.

Even if all my cheese doodles fell on the floor.

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