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Bay Area Ballfest - April 7-9, 2000


Part One

Scene 1
  Thursday Morning, April 6, 2000:


Daybreak, sunshine, a flurry of excitement, shower, dress, head for the Bremerton-Seattle ferry - and our Ballfest trip had begun!  M got me and my luggage, camera, Ballfest Photo albums, computer, etc.,  settled aboard the ferry and in a few minutes I was on my way!  An hour later I arrived in Seattle where Rachel met me.  We hailed a cab, headed for the King Street Train Station, and after what seemed forever, we boarded our sleeping car, got our things stowed away and headed for the Pacific Parlor car, some coffee, fruit and cheese Danish!

The trip is a beautiful one, the meals good and plentiful, wine and cheese tasting was fun, the crew attentive, and the accommodations - although tiny - are really pretty comfortable.

We were both pretty tired from our previous week's activities, so our first day passed rather quickly, and found us someplace between Klamath Falls, Oregon and Dunsmuir, California by bedtime.  Rachel enjoyed the evening movie in the lower level theatre, and I chose to go to bed early, and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow I think.  (It proved to have been a wise decision, as things turned out!)  The last thing I remember is hearing something from "Martin Guerre" which was reminiscent of last month's Los Angeles Ballfest trip!

Scene 2 Friday, April 7:

Morning arrived pretty quickly, Rachel says she didn't sleep a wink, but I sure did!  After a nice hot shower, we managed to dress quickly, put away a lovely huge breakfast, and wait a bit impatiently while they changed the train engine and added a second one, about a block from our destination in Oakland!

There we were met by "Michael on a Yellow Balloon" which was pulling along our hostess and friend, Gail Rieger :-)

Shouts of recognition, some Olympic hugging practice, loading the car with luggage, and off to pick up Rachel's rental car!  but NOT QUITE!!!

After braving the SF traffic, hills and one-way streets, we arrived at the Thrifty Car Rental agency, or near it anyway, dropped off Rachel, and took a short "trip around the block" a time or two, and seeing no sign of Rachel or the car, we began to suspect that there might be a problem about to find it's way to us.  The problem turned out to be that the agency, the very one Rachel works for, would not honor her debit card, and so most of the rest of the day was spent trying to locate another agency that would do so.

Off to Gail's house in Tracy, California, intros all around, a quick hello to Gail's ever-patient husband John, and son Chris, a bit of lunch, more discussions of what to do and how to do it, and then we remembered....

Ballfest members are not only clever, patient and adaptable but quick to help out in times of need, so solutions soon were found! :-)  A quick phone call, and we managed to rout Joan from her garden...and rescue was on it's way.

Joan quickly arrived at Gail's and off we three went to the Thrifty car agency near the San Francisco Airport where Rachel was able to finally get a car.  However ~ by then it was already 5 PM and M's plane was due in at 7:57; Gail, Allison and I were due at the theatre at 8 and we were told the trip back to Tracy would take us 3 hrs now that it was rush hour!  We thought the man was kidding

However, shortly after we left the agency, total freeway gridlock set in, we lost Rachel, who was swallowed up by traffic somewhere up ahead, (with all the maps,) and a cel phone with an almost dead battery.  We gave chase, tried calling her cel phone and realized our phone was just about as dead as hers.  Murphy's law had struck in full force by then, and we again had to rapidly shift our plans! 

We managed a brief contact with Rachel, picked a nearby meeting place, grabbed a "nutritious snack" of candy bars, cookies, chips and soda and shifted cars, plans and directions - again.  Versatility, imagination and "quick change" all took on new meaning....

We got Joan headed in the direction of Modesto, and Rachel and I set off for San Francisco to scout out the location of the Orpheum Theatre and then on to Fisherman's wharf for a quick bite of "real food" which in this case was clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. 

Rachel left me shivering in front of the theatre dressed as I had been since early morning, (the lovely warm sunny day had somehow changed to dark, chilly night, while we weren't looking) and feeling very much like an unkempt street person.  Rachel then headed for the airport to pick up my handsome and debonair better half!  Gail and Ali would soon be arriving at the Bart station virtually under my feet, and although I knew Lillian would be joining us, I had no idea when or from which direction, and after asking a couple of strangers if they might possibly be Lillian, I gave up and decided we needed directions to the stage door for after the show.  I found a very helpful  concessionaire from the show who gave me that info and promised to tell Matt Shepherd, William Paul Michals and DB Bonds (but NOT Douglas) that we were there.

Soon Gail, Ali and Lillian arrived and we grabbed playbills and binoculars and  headed for our balcony seats and the start of this show we had all come to see!  I probably spent about half the first act looking around to see if Rachel and Merrill had arrived - which they hadn't - and the rest of the time, being awestruck by the show, the cast, and just being there with long-time Ballfest & Mailing list pals - Gail and Lillian - and finally meeting my Les Miz buddy, Gail's 10 year-old daughter Allison.

Scene 3: Later
The show was hilarious, Douglas was his usual wonderful and brilliant self; William Paul Michals, who portrays the villain, Chauvelin, was magnificent, and the rest of the cast was superb.  It was an exciting, flawless performance, and even better once Merrill and Rachel arrived safely and in time for Act Two.


Again, as in Seattle, there was a total and complete standing ovation, with cheers, whistles, bravos and a very delighted cast when that final curtain descended!

Scene 4:  The Orpheum Stage door after the show!
A larger group than we had expected converged on the stage door, where a small fabric ribbon-like "barricade" had been placed.  Cast members soon began trickling out, and it was nice that Matt Farver remembered my name and thanked us for coming.  D B Bonds folks had arrived in town and surprised him at the performance, but he did stop to speak with us briefly, before going on with his mom and dad.  Matt Shepherd was the next of our cast pals to join us for autographs and pictures and to thank us for coming.  Then William Paul Michals came out of the stage door to bravos, cheers and a crowd that were all anxious to have a few minutes with him.  He had managed to make a few thousand more fans that night, something that didn't surprise us at all!

Scene 5: Wrap-up
After lots of hugs, photos and plans to meet again tomorrow night, M and I headed for Rachel's car, without seeing Douglas, as we did NOT want him to have any possible idea that we were in town.  With a quick mind like Douglas has, it would have made surprising him impossible!  As it was, we had spent the last four months planning and scheming without even a tiny leak, and had no intention of spoiling that now...

I leave it to Lillian, Rachel or Gail  to describe the Douglas part of the stage door scene and will continue with Act Two of our "Ballfesting with Douglas" weekend later!  I know it's a darn good thing that Merrill was there so that I wasn't the least bit tempted to see Douglas...well okay, maybe a little bit tempted ;-)

Love and hugs from one very happy Ballfest attendee...
Jackie :-)


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