Friday, July 18, 2014

A Story of a Raccoon at a Musical

Yesterday was a big day for my girlfriend and I as a year ago on July 17th we first met and we went to The Muny, which is an outdoor musical amphitheater here in Saint Louis, to see Les Miserables. To mark one year together we decided to once again go to The Muny and on stage was The Addams Family musical but from where we were sitting there was a lot more drama to the production than anyone had in mind.

The weather was perfect compared to last year (it was over 100 degrees last year) which was a nice change. The Addams Family was a much different production compared to last year's show that we went to and I made note of many, many breakages of the fourth wall by the actor who was playing the lead of Gomez. Some of these were so quick-witted I didn't know if they were scripted or not. However, during the 2nd act, I kept hearing some yelling from the section below and to my left. It was at random bursts and I typically don't understand why people cheer at certain sections of plays, and concerts, but to these bursts of yelling there was no logic. Gomez made reference to this when he said in a line, "Go do it before people start screaming again!"

As time went by the screaming became more frequent and my hyper-vigilance began to kick in. I've written about this before, such as the time I noticed a fire drill in kindergarten was much more and this time, again, I knew there was something to this yelling. But what was it? I was fearing the worst as maybe someone was going around stealing things from people, perhaps harming them, or maybe a person was just scaring people. Whatever it was I didn't know but my imagination was running free.

The screaming was now to a distracting level and Muny staff were now on the scene. Flashlights were being used and it looked like a good, old fashioned man hunt. We were seated almost as far back as you can sit but now at least half of the sections had there eyes on what was going on. While most people looked in confusion I sat there in fear ready to react to whatever calamity was about to occur.

Have I mentioned I'm a worst case scenario thinker? If you haven't gathered that by now let me say that, well, I am and in this instance I was plotting an escape in any and every direction should whatever man, women, or beast that a dozen people were chasing strike.

It was getting to a level that the actors and actresses were performing but no one was watching as the audience sat there in awe of the random screams and random leg kicks. And it was from these leg kicks that I finally calmed, somewhat, as it was now obvious that there was a critter who didn't have a ticket to see the production. And whatever critter it was it was fast! One minute the chasers would be at the top of the section, then the bottom, then back at the top. I didn't let my guard down all the way because whatever it was, should it have rabies, could pose a threat so I remained in a state of no emotion and all attention and senses were directed towards the drama.

There had just been staff with normal shirts on but I knew things were getting serious when men in suits started arriving on the scene speaking in ear pieces. I was wondering if the production was going to be red flagged, ahem, stopped (sorry, racing lingo seeped in) because of the ruckus and, when a song had ended, a voice over the PA announced, "Your attention please. We are going into a delay to deal with an uninvited audience member" to which there was a round of applause as, I guess, no one had ever heard of such a delay before.

The house lights came on and the chase was on! The staff which had been trying to respectfully, and quietly, catch the critter now had full house lights and the green light to chase and catch at will. All the while the actors and actresses were left on stage, but the ad-libbing Gomez played by Rob McClure kept the ad-libbing going and I don't give compliments all that often but his lines were downright hilarious.

A few minutes passed and then there was an enormous cheer which could only mean one thing. The critter, which turned out to be a raccoon, had been nabbed. The assembled staff quickly dispersed and the show resumed which, as luck would have it, there was a line in the script delivered to Gomez in which he was asked, "What can I ever do to repay you?" and the ad-libbing was seamless as he said, "For one, you can remove all the raccoons from here!"

In the end it turned out to be an unique theater going experience and one that everyone was talking about on their way to their cars. For most it was just an experience that they never had seen before, I heard one person say they saw something like this many decades ago, but for myself it was something that started out with an immense amount of fear. Being hyper-vigilant is something I don't have control of. I am always aware of my surroundings and it doesn't take much to spark that part of my brain that shouts, "RED ALERT!" When there is a situation about to arise I'm usually ahead of the curve because I've seen it develop. On the flip side, however, I have also dealt with an infinite amount of crisis situations that never materialized. This is, to be perfectly honest, tiring. Last night, though, The Muny did it right and I have to commend them for stopping a production to deal with a localized pest. I fully could not pay attention to anything but the unknown element that was being chased, but by stopping, turning the lights on, and dealing with the situation was the right thing to do. I know that had to be a hard decision, and one that I'm sure all the people on the production will talk about forever and I can just imagine that conversation now, "Remember that one time, when a raccoon was the star? No, well, let me tell you..."

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