…and apparently no small photos for this blog post, either. However, I don’t have time to fiddle with it any more so it will just have to stay huge. ‘Sorry! Or maybe I should just post every photo from now on in this size. Hmm….
Anyway, now that I am safely home, I will tell you that I spent the past week in Anaheim, California, participating in the American Library Association’s (ALA’s) annual conference. Since this is a theatre blog rather than a My Daily Life blog, I will not tell you about the bomb threat at LAX airport (but they caught the guy), or the many authors I got to meet, or the satisfying progress that my committee made, or what I learned about current issues in librarianship, or even my knee injury.
I will tell you that I now have an increased appreciation for…I guess I will call them “roving actors.”
One morning in the middle of the conference, I went early to the hotel where my committee was meeting. I hoped to find a restaurant there that offered a hot breakfast. I was tired of breakfasting on crumpled Luna bars from my suitcase.
I caught sight of a yummy-looking breakfast buffet. When I went to tell the hostess, “One for breakfast, please,” she asked for my first and last names, which surprised me. Then she led me to a small stage area where Minnie Mouse and a photographer were waiting, which surprised me even more.
After my photo session with Minnie, the hostess led me to a table. Two costumed characters that I had never heard of before came over to wave “hi.” They turned out to be Lilo and Stitch.
A little while later, Pluto the dog invited me to join him and the other children for a congo line, but by that time I had a plate of Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes and a made-to-order omelet, so I declined.
But I loved watching these actors in their elaborate costumes interact soundlessly but effectively with the children in the restaurant. They had a knack for being NOT scary. Daisy Duck even squatted down in her over-sized yellow pumps so that she would be the same height as a small boy who was not at all sure what to think of her. Stitch, in all his alien blueness, loomed over a baby in a carriage and made him laugh rather than cry.
Because they never said a word, I have no idea of the age or sex of the actors inside the costumes. I have no idea what they thought of a single, middle-aged woman in her librarian skirt having breakfast with all of those families in their matching we-are-on-vacation shorts and mouse ears. I think if I had wanted to interact with the characters more, the actors would have been as gracious with me as they were with the children asking for their autographs.
(Speaking of autographs, I wonder how the actors write while wearing those big gloves?)
On our final night in Anaheim, my friend/colleague Connie and I went to Disneyland itself. I am usually not a big fan of things Disney, but we had bought these tickets to support the ALA’s scholarship fund. We had both been to Disney World in Orlando, and I had been to Tokyo Disneyland, but it felt like crossing off something on a life list to be visiting the original Disneyland. We prided ourselves on not spending money on any souvenirs except our tickets.
Well, I spent 25 cents to have my fortune told by “Esmeralda,” the old-fashioned mannequin machine in the Penny Arcade. But that’s all.
We went on several rides, and although I enjoyed all of the special effects in Disneyland, what I loved most were the live actors who worked hard to make our experience even more enjoyable.
For example, while we were standing in line to take a Jungle Cruise, a live Indiana Jones suddenly appeared on a balcony across the street. He fought a live Bad Guy using everything at his disposal, including a potted plant. It was very exciting.
The captain of our Jungle Cruise delivered a whole script’s worth of groan-worthy puns in a wonderfully precise and deadpan manner as we moved through the animatronics displays. He must have to say that stuff a million times every day, but it felt to us as if he were saying it for the first time.
The butler at the Haunted Mansion was deliciously gloomy. I saw him getting his photo taken later with a family that wanted him to make the two-fingered peace sign with them. He obliged, while staying in character. He wore no special makeup, but he reminded me of Lurch.
Four guys in bright, striped shirts (each man wore a different color) sang barbershop harmonies on Main Street while tap dancing and keeping up a cheesy but endearing patter with the crowds strolling by.
At the end of the evening, Connie and I scored a park bench from which to view the nightly fireworks display. It was quite a show: lots of flashing lights and music and light stencils on the sides of mountains and actual fire shooting up in columns and green laser beams of light shooting over the heads of the crowds as well as the fireworks in the sky.
But the best part was when a live Tinkerbell flew out over Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
“How do they do that?” Connie wondered. I told her what I had learned about flight direction and flight choreography from seeing Beef’n’Boards’ recent production of “Peter Pan” here in Indy.
The actor in Disneyland was hooked to an invisible wire thousands of feet above the ground. She dodged fireworks and was probably blinded by the huge spotlights as she danced through the air. I loved her daring and graceful live performance more than all of the other dazzling elements of the show put together.
Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com