Lisa and I travelled up to Champaign, IL on Saturday with the "Isle of Dreams" to perform at Smith Hall on the UIUC campus. We left Michael's house at 10am with James and Yvette also in our car. We arrived at the theatre by 3, with the performance starting at 8pm.
The theatre is a gorgeous building, built in 1917 (I think), with wood carving and ornamentation everywhere. Standing at center stage in the empty theatre, I could sing at regular medium voice and clearly hear the reverberation in the room. It was amazing.
As the doors opened at 7:15, we were growing a bit antsy with excitement and anticipation. (After all, this is only the second actual theatre we have been in the past year, the other being at Rolla). We had been looking forward to our return to Champaign, since our last performance was so well received (this trip included hitting the deer on the way back). We knew that there had been several churches in the area promoting the vent and we were ready for whoever might show up.
As the time grew closer, we found ourselves facing a much different reality than what we had hoped or expected. With 10 minutes to curtain, we could only see a handful of people from the side stage area. Naturally, this is confusing to encounter and almost altogether puzzling. We talked about it backstage. [I'd like to take a moment to emphasize that we perform in front of audiences of all shapes and sizes at any miscellaneous venue, expecting God to send whomever He wants to be there. We sing for His Glory, not anyone else's, so the crowd size is merely a physical aspect of our surroundings. However, like all performers, we love to have as many people as possible at every performance.]
Just before taking the stage, we gathered in the wings and prayed for the performance, thanking God for allowing us the priviledge to serve Him and for the people He had brought. And then we stepped out into the theatre as the music began.
As I entered stage right to the front portion of the stage, my eyes caught their first glimpse of what our human audience for the evening would be. For a brief moment, I felt betrayed by the limited number of eyes that watched me. It's a difficult thing to explain to someone who has never taken a stage in front of an audience before. After having put so much time and energy already into this performance alone, practicing for hours to get to this performance, singing for hours to hit the right notes, blocking the scenes to best portray the events - it's easy to feel let down when a crowd is not large or is seemingly unenthused about being there. I quickly regained my focus. After all, I am not singing for fame or fortune but for the Glory of God...
Returning backstage after the opening, I took my place in the side room, accompanied by Tony (who is usually planted in the theatre, but couldn't be for this performance). We immediately talked about how this was going to be a performace that everyone was going to have to push through. With such a small crowd, participation can be expected to be low. Not to mention that it's just harder to give everything you have to a couple dozen patrons in a 500+ seat theatre. I prayed for the group as they began Act I, that they would give God all that He deserved and let the people disappear in front of them.
I entered to sing everybody is God's Child and felt pretty good about how it went. Everybody ws singing their songs and singing them really well. By the time we ended Act I with "The King", there was an excitment off stage to get back on. Vocally, things were going really well.
Act II picked up right where we left off, witht he cast doing a great job bringing life vocally to their characters. As with every performance, there are a few things that I would like to do differently next time, but overall I was pleased with the performance. I think everyone felt pretty good about how things went. We packed up the production and Lisa and I were on the road to our hotel by 11:30(which we had rented because we didn't want to have to drive the 3 hours back that late). We checked in right at midnight and fell asleep fairly quickly.
We slept in and showered, taking our time and checking out at 11. We headed across the street to the Amishland Buffet(Tuscola, IL) which is open on Sundays(Amish?). The food was really good and they had an enormous amount of desserts (pies, cookies, puddings, cakes, brownies, etc). We took our time walking around looking at the Amishland shops(not open on Sundays) with all of their amazing wood furniture. It was a nice relaxing way to start the day.
We made it home in time to go to Lisa's parents house for St. Patrick's Day/Birthday Dinner. After cornbeef and cabbage, we had key-lime pie and Deb opened the presents for her birthday. We then played the card game Golf, which is pretty fun (even though I had a terribly game).
Lisa and I made it home by 10, exhausted yet totally relaxed. It was a good weekend...