If you are new to Sharon Wheatley’s blog, I write stories in “blogisodes”. To start, go to blogisode one of this story here: http://wp.me/p1zRyr-eg
Happy Friday! In a change of format, a reminder, this blogisode will go through the weekend. Your reading assignment continues as we go through the 10th anniversary of September 11th here at My Own Space. This will count as extra credit towards your midterms.
Today’s blogisode is brought to you by a dark 3-year-old bedroom. I am sitting on Beatrix’s bed and trying to get her to sleep. I am typing by the glow of the computer and listening to Charlotte cry on the phone with Rob–who is out of town tonight doing a show at The McCarter Theater—and she is crying because she can’t find her phone charger. Beatrix will not go to sleep unless I am sitting on her bed “playing on my computer” as she says, and cries if I get up. I have been at this all day (no sitter, no school for Beatrix, no nap for Beatrix, school supply shopping, car wash, dinner, dishes) and I am frustrated, my friends. The clock is ticking for me to get this blog posted and I have two child melt downs happening while trying to avoid one of my own.
Look. It’s not really the kids. If you really want to know what is bothering me, I took one second to flip on CNN to try to watch a bit of the President address to the congress and guess what I saw instead? Mayor Bloomberg giving a press conference
about a “specific, credible but unconfirmed terrorist threat” against New York City or Washington. Unbelievable. I don’t watch TV all day and I manage to see the one thing I’d rather skip. Not that it isn’t important–it is–I just think, hey, let’s be honest, if you live in NYC or Washington D.C., you don’t need anyone to tell you that the bad guys would like to put on their black cowboy hats and commemorate their success with another attack on the anniversary. It just all gives me a stomach ache. You too? Of course it does, It’s upsetting.
But the good news is, there is snoring from the younger child! Excellent. Now I am moving to the living room, where the TV stays on, but on mute. My treat after finishing the blogisode tonight will be another episode of Project Runway, which piled up o my DVR while we were away. It’s a perfect closer for a stressful evening; watching other people get stressed out about hemlines. But don’t you think Heidi looks a little gaunt this year? Rob looked up last night and mumbled, “She looks better pregnant.” and then
went back to researching his Fantasy Football team. Oh! I have the Packers defense and they are playing tonight! I’m turning CNN off and the Packers on. Older child has found her charger, apologized, and is in bed. The time is 10:44, 59 minutes past her bedtime. Re-entry to the school year is rough on the sleep patterns.
Let’s get back to the stress free days 2001, shall we? We left off with Rob and Charlotte watching cartoons in The swanky Georgian Terrace Hotel. My parents are landing in Nairobi, Kenya, ready to start their dream vacation and I am standing backstage of The Fox Theater in Atlanta in full costume, makeup and wig, listening to our Stage Manager Leigh Catlett make the following announcement moments before the show is scheduled to start: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like for you to please exit the building quickly and safely using the nearest exit. This is not a joke, this is not a drill. We have to completely evacuate the building. I repeat, please leave immediately.”
We have to evacuate the building completely? All of us? In our costumes? I’d never had anything happen like this in the history of my theater career, especially so close to curtain time. Of course the first thought was fire. The company moved out pretty quickly, urged on by stage managers and company managers who weren’t talking any details. The audience, on the other hand, took a lot longer. To educate you about the
Fox, I should tell you first of all that it has 5,ooo seats. It might be the largest theater on the normal circuit of theaters the Broadway shows play (anyone feel free to correct me on that, I haven’t been on the road in a while and I forget). It is so large, it actually has a sky projected on the ceiling with 96 stars and clouds that move. You are getting the picture. It’s a pain in the ass to evacuate. And make no mistake, it was sold out (as Phantom always was 10 years ago).
Ugh. The Packers have allowed 27 points so far. My Fantasy team is off to a terrible start. BUT, all children are now asleep (11:09) which is late, but I will still consider it a win.
What happened, as I can best remember (feel free to jump in here if you were there that night), is that we stayed out on a side street while the audience flowed out onto the main drag, Peachtree Street. I don’t think we knew what was happening until we were brought back into the building and we had a small company meeting with Leigh while the audience was ushered back to their seats. Leigh said something along the lines of, “We were evacuated due to a credible bomb threat, which has been proven to be a false
alarm. It is very normal for a venue as large as this to have an occasional bomb threat, and the bomb team has assured us that the dogs have been through the building and there is no bomb. It’s just some crazy person trying to get some attention. The performance will begin as soon as we can restore the audience, so consider this a hold until further notice.”
A bomb threat.
You can imagine that we didn’t just get a glass of water and wait for the show to start. We peppered him with questions, which he answered as best he could and 15 minutes later, the only thing blowing up on stage was the chandelier as the overture played. I remember being VERY tense the whole show–especially during all the pyro technical moments, and I kept having visions of the opera scene in Foul Playwhen they are trying to kill the pope. Do you remember that movie? Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn? I think it played every
Sunday on Channel 19 when I was a kid, in a double header with Private Benjamin and I watched it like it was my job, forever burning the images crime activity during a performance on my impressionable and eager brain.
Towards the end of the show, I was waiting to make an exit from the travelator (that’s a Phantom word describing the big set piece that moves up and down in the back, making bridges for people to run across. It is most memorable in Act two when Raoul jumps off it, heading down to the Phantom’s Lair. It rises up several stories) way up high with a bird’s eye view of the audience thinking, Why are they still here? I mean, I’m here because it’s my job, but man, if I was an audience member I would have demanded my money back and walked! But they were there, full to the top, trusting that everything was fine and the crazy people were harmless.
I left the theater at the end of the show, walked to the hotel and whispered the whole story to Rob as Charlotte slept on the cot next to our giant and lush bed. We fell asleep grateful that Monday was a day off and they would have 48 hours to properly sweep that building.
We spent Monday playing with Charlotte and relaxing, trying to eek out every last moment of family time because they were flying home to New York the next morning, Tuesday, September 11th.
To read the next blogisode of this story, go here: http://wp.me/p1zRyr-gi
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