Thursday, December 9, 2010

Yuletide Celebration Part 2: Arrival

Prior to actually getting to Indy, a stop was made to visit a friend in Illinois.  I had checked the forecast and was anticipating 40% chance of rain (but really hoping for none, because nothing ruins a Christmas feeling like rain).  Imagine my surprise at waking up the day of the show (Dec. 4) to 6 inches of SNOW!

Still having to drive the 2 hours into Indianapolis made this a bit of a worry, but that quickly faded after a quick morning trip out and finding the roads were in pretty good shape.  We arrived in good time and I started doing downtown parking lot research.  Google maps is awesome for this, especially street view so you can see exactly where the entrances are.

I picked a parking garage that had a cheap rate according to some site about parking in the city, and figured out how to get there.  We arrived early and found it was even cheaper than on the website!  The ISO has a deal with the lot for $3 parking!  How great is that!  The trick being that all the spots up until about the 4th level are reserved.  I'm pretty sure this is where all the people who work at the Hilbert Circle Theatre park.  I'll guess this includes musicians and others.  There's also this handy little walkway from the garage to a back door of the theatre with music notes etched in the concrete!

It was too early to go in yet plus it was night and Monument Circle was all lit up with the worlds largest Christmas tree, so I took pictures and froze.  But there was snow, and Christmas lights, and horse drawn carriages, and Nutcrackers and Toy Soldiers in place of regular boring concrete posts, so it was worth it!

As one of the guide books said "Stop and take a picture of the Circle, everyone else does", and indeed there were lots of people out taking pictures, and walking around.  I'm not surprised there were several ISO "Best Yuletide Memory" Blog posts about marriage proposals occurring here.  It's pretty impressive.

The doors to the foyer of the theatre were open so we entered to escape the cold and ended up having a wonderful conversation with the security guard.  He's retired, works there part time, and is originally from Nashville, TN.  I wish I had gotten his name, he was so pleasant.  We chatted about the concert and somehow it came up that Samuel Banks who played with the ISO for 5 years is now second bassoonist with the Toronto Symphony, and he remembered him!

The foyer was decorated with huge wreaths and you could see beyond the glass doors into the theatre lobby, but when you actually went in, there was a WOW feeling.

First a massive decorated Christmas tree, and the garlands hanging from the railings, a quartet singing Christmas carols, reindeer and a Christmas tree mingling with the people.  I had fun just watching from the upper level, looking down at all the people taking pictures by the tree, all the little girls in their best dresses.  I noticed two sisters, twirling around as their skirts spun out to make a bell...aww I remember those days.

On the main floor you can actually see right into the theatre.  The walls are solid only half way up, then it's glass.  Great place to work, you can enjoy the show no matter where you are!

We found our seats without a problem.  As part of the castle set though there was a curtain, so no watching the orchestra saunter in, as they tend to do, although you could hear them warming up.  Just a note: that bar does mess with your view if you're on the aisle.  But otherwise great seats.  You could even see the numbers on the stage (I believe there were 14 of them) as markers.

What struck me about the whole thing was everyone was in a good mood.  From those mingling in the lobby to people climbing over others to get to their seats.  No one seemed stressed or upset, and were chatting and waving to people they recognized.  With all the children around I don't recall hearing anyone even wimper, never mind cry.  Amazing atmosphere!  Definitely everyone had a high dose of Christmas spirit.

The programs were another marvel.  No 4 paper pages in the middle of a standard booklet here!  A full glossy, THICK (111 pages in fact) book, over half of which is dedicated to Yuletide, from both memories and photos from past performances, to notes from Jack Everly about his new "White Christmas" creation.

The "White Christmas" themed display in the lobby was from his personal collection and included original posters from the movie,
a signed poster from the Broadway cast of the musical,
Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and Danny Kaye dolls (wonder what happened to Vera-Ellen?),
and the first page of the score, signed by himself and Fred Barton who was also involved in the arranging.  I doubt it lasts very long, but 4 bars in the clarinet part goes to B flat concert with no sharps or flats...I like this :)

With that we've run out of time...the shows about to start!

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