Joined: 26 Mar 2009
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
|Hi to all my 2009 families! What a wonderful wonderful weekend the Tops In Blue families who were able to attend ended up getting to have, in spite of the cancellation of the official sneak preview performance. Thank you so much, Mr. Edwards and all the staff and team! As promised, here's my version of the weekend!
Families started arriving on Friday night, more came on Saturday, and more came on Sunday. Mr. Edwards allowed us all access to the theatre to sit quietly and watch as many rehearsals as we wanted, whatever hours we wanted. We got to put into practice that "lurk and wait" technique I've been talking to the families about. Whenever the team got a break, if they had time left over after they'd gotten water and been to the bathroom and done whatever they had to take care of, then there we were, lurking and waiting on a hug and a chat and an introduction to friends on the team. Those were precious moments we wouldn't have have had if we hadn't been lurking and waiting. I'm telling you, it's the stuff! And I was so proud of all the families; nobody batted an eye or looked the least bit upset when their loved ones just turned and ran away back to work without another hug or a goodbye, because they had to go and they had to go right now. That's just how it works, and y'all already knew that and handled it with smiles on your faces. Way to be BLUE, y'all!!
On Sunday we had a great Family Day! I had a party room reserved for the ones I knew were coming, and then there were some more I found out where there, so we got ourselves all organized and got on over to the restaurant and spent some quality TIB family time together. I think it is so important for Tops In Blue families to get to know one another and support one another through their tour year. I never would have survived 2007 without Buffy Soens. Her crazy husband and my crazy husband hit it off on the tour, so she reached out to me. Having that wife who knew exactly what I was going through that I could talk to just saved me. So I was very glad to see the families talking and starting to form friendships. You can do that here on this board too, even if you never get to meet in person!
After our family dinner, we went back to the Tops In Blue Production Center, where we very fortunate to be given a personal tour by Tom Edwards, Chief of Air Force Entertainment, and the man in charge of Tops In Blue for, I believe, almost 40 years. (Could a Prior correct me if I've got that time frame wrong, or even better, jump in and tell the story of Mr. Edwards!) The Production Center is where your loved ones have been living for the past two months. Sure, they had lodging rooms, and they slept there a few hours, but all the rest of the time they were at that Production Center if they are a vocalist or band member, or also at the Tech Center if they are on the technical crew. The Production Center houses a stage for rehearsal performances, but where primarily the band rehearses. There is a dance floor where the vocalists spend most of their time. There is a room that contains lockers, a washer and dryer, and where the vocalists also work on music. There is an administrative room for the staff and a couple of offices, and break areas where the team can keep food and drinks. But the Production Center is also a museum of Tops In Blue history and their travels throughout the world. There are gifts that the team has received from so many people and places where Tops In Blue has made a profound difference. Mr. Edwards very graciously opened up the PC to the families and gave us a guided tour and told beautiful stories of Tops In Blue history, and then allowed us to ask whatever questions about Tops In Blue we wanted. This was a special opportunity indeed, and I'm so glad the families who were there got such a peek into Tops In Blue's world this weekend and got to meet Mr. Edwards.
Then we got to see "a show"! Although the public sneak preview was canceled, and they still were not able to run a dress rehearsal with costumes, the staff worked it out to do a show for the families at 8:00 p.m. (after warning us that we might not get to see a full run-through till 3:00 or 4:00 a.m.!). And even with no costumes, it was great!! I know there were still bugs that needed to be worked out and that they would still be continuing to work after that performance to be fully ready for Utah, but I was just seeing a great show! They had so much energy and were so full of life! With all their hard work and long hours, they may not have felt like they had any energy before they stepped onto that stage, or when when they walked backstage at the end. But when those lights came up, the team was ON! That's what these two months of non-stop training have been for. The vocals were amazing, the band was rocking, the tech and the set are very cool, and if you are the family of a vocalist, I just can't even begin to prepare you for the dancing! Your loved one is up there doing things you won't BELIEVE they can do! Particularly the guys!
Some of the highlights of the show itself for me were the Nashville set with some great country tunes, (I still can't get Wendell Boone singing "Chicken-Fried" out of my head) and all the New Orleans Dixieland music by the band, featuring an amazing vocal and instrumental Louis Armstrong tribute by Anthoney Williams (calling it an impersonation would only cheapen it and it was too good for that!). I adored the whole "Dreamgirls" set, featuring songs and characters from the movie. Joanell Jackson as Effie White will blow your socks off, and Alison Maldinado, Aisha Smith and Taryn Holyfield as the Dream Girls are phenomenal. And don't forget the guys! Octavious Hill and Demetrius Johnson as Jimmy Early and Curtis Taylor.... WOW. I also loved the medley of "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You", sung by Demetrius Johnson, "The Summer Wind", sung by Johnny Magbanua, and "Feeling Good", sung by Jeff Collins (which had me feeling GREAT!).
When you hear of certain performers singing certain songs, or your team member tells you they have a certain solo, or you see a show for yourself, keep in mind, all that is subject to change. The next time you see a show, the soloist could be different, or an entire song could be gone. People get sick and they have to change things up, either temporarily or permanently. Sometimes the leadership just needs to change something because different things have to happen for different reasons. Sometimes the timing of the show has to be altered. They try to keep everything the same, but as with anything else TIB, things can change for any reason. So if your loved one is doing something you're excited about, and then they're not doing it anymore, then that's just one of our family things, and of course we're going to smile and find something else to get excited about!
One of my favorite moments of the show actually came about because of disappointment. If you're one of my families reading this, then you know we've been talking about how if you get let down or disappointed by one thing, then just find something else to get excited about. I found mine! I was so disappointed about not getting to see the costumes, because that's one of my favorite things. However, if they'd had on grass skirts instead of shorts during the Hawaiian set, when the very talented Herbert Ancog was singing and the beautiful Jennifer Bone was onstage dancing the hula and all the other beautiful female vocalists were dancing the hula in the aisles... I never would have seen it. APPARENTLY... the hula is all in the knees, and the hips just go along for the ride! (Jennifer says yes!!) So while I was standing in the back watching the show, I just started to hula, and I did it! And I did it the next night in front of a mirror in my hotel room, and I did it again when I got home on Wednesday! Something I never thought I could do in a million years... all I because I found something else to be excited about when I could have just been disappointed instead. So don't forget to take that spirit with you into your Tops In Blue year! You don't want to miss something great!
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. -- William Shakespeare