The Casual Reporter: Trent, Kave, Wiley, Shawn, and Carlos Perform in Fontainebleau

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Trent, Kave, Wiley, Shawn, and Carlos Perform in Fontainebleau

Kave, Wiley, Shawn, Carlos, and I performed at the Theatre Municipale de Fontainebleau in Fontainebleau, France on December 17, 2009 in a show I put together for the kids who attend my son Zachary's school. We recently moved to the area for the school so, eager to be an "involved parent," I attended a meeting for the association of parents (who organize social events etc for the kids) and volunteered my friends' talents if for some reason they might be useful. At a different school, Kave and Shawn gave a presentation of their impressive native singing and dancing skills, which is what I had in mind when I volunteering them here.

A couple months later the President of the parents' association called to say they had met and decided they wanted to take me up on my offer. I was delighted. When they said our "show" was going to be THE end-of-the-year show for all 400 kids plus several teachers and parent chaperons, I got a bit nervous because, well, THERE WAS NO SHOW! My friends danced and sang, but it wasn't a SHOW, just incredible talent. The parents' association said they only needed to secure a venue. I was thinking a gymnasium or cafeteria or something, but the Mayor of Fontainebleau donated the use of the Theatre Municipale for an afternoon.

Realizing I needed to throw together an actual show of some kind, I arranged to meet the theatre manager to better understand what my options were. I was completely bowled over by the delightful charm of the space. It's literally across the street from the Fontainebleau Castle, Napoleon's old digs. The theatre started construction in 1905, the same year Buffalo Bill toured 120 villages in France, and was inaugurated in 1912, the year he borrowed $20,000 from Harry Tammen in Denver - a loan that would eventually force Cody to sell his show and work for Tammen in the Sells Floto Circus.

The theatre is built in the Louis XIII style and is "one of a rare specimen of Italian theatres and one of the most beautiful in the Paris area" according the the theatre's website. It's like the ones you see in period films, with seats at floor-level and then 3 levels that seem to climbing up the walls of the auditorium. Yet it's very intimate. The audience feels within arms' reach. I absolutely fell in love with it, and realized immediately that I needed to create a great show for such a great venue.

With the help of my wife and friends, I did. Fortunately I had a rare theme for this area: real cowboys and Indians, and some of the most talented people I know helping me: Kave, Shawn, Wiley, and Carlos. And of course my wife Susan. I cut a few video montages to project on the video screen behind us at certain moments and wrote a song for me to sing. Two moms dressed up like Saloon Girls to give out hats from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which were used interactively in the show.

But not all went smoothly. On the night before the show, one of the biggest snowstorms we've had in years hit, which meant my talented friends had to travel at a snail's pace for 1 1/2 hours and when I had a technical problem and had to go back home it took me an hour and a half instead of a half hour. I was still booting my computer when the kids arrived. I had to tell my friend Chris, who had also volunteered to help, to just figure out the Video-rich Powerpoint Presentation himself because I didn't have time to explain it. So it was a close call getting the show going at all, but it turned out brilliantly. The kids were delighted, as were the teachers and parents who attended. And it was fun for me to do something new for a change. I'll post the video montages shortly.

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