Tonight is one of those rare nights where I can honestly say that I’ve done something unrepeatable.
No, I did not join Cirque du Soleil. But I was, in theory, a temporary cast member at tonight’s performance of Quidam. What started as a continuation of Bobby and my tradition of attending Cirque shows quickly turned into a 10+ minute (at least!) impromptu performance.
Needless to say, I was blushing.
Here’s the story:
The first half of the show was as amazing as always. There was a great opener – a guy doing tricks on a large wheel – and several subsequent talents, which you can check out by previewing the show here. There was also a hilarious clown right before intermission who called a girl from the audience on stage and attempted to woo her in his imaginary car. The ironic part about this is that Bobby and I both thought the girl was an actress. She was just too good, and her cues were just too perfect.
She sat one row ahead of us – we were lucky enough to be on the floor – and I thought she’d likely sneak out during intermission. But when we came back after the break, we noticed she was still there with her boyfriend and chatting animatedly. I told Bobby that perhaps it wasn’t an act after all, and she just went along with the clown extremely well.
Fast forward to the second half of the performance. We’ve seen some true talent, from rope tricks to contortionists and everything in between. Suddenly, the clown is back with a fake old fashioned video camera and a door frame. He mimes to the audience that he needs four people to help him shoot a film.
The first person, he mimes, needs to be a woman (insert hourglass figure gesture here). The spotlight pans around the arena and, wouldn’t you know it, comes to rest on ME. I turn around, hoping it’s someone else, but there is no one there. Resigning myself to get over my natural stage fright, I get up and start walking toward the stairs. It’s cold in the arena, so I still have my coat on.
The clown gestures for me to take it off immediately. The crowd laughs in appreciation.
I approach the stage again, now coat-less, and the clown wraps a boa around my neck. In a whisper that only I can hear, he says, “Beautiful.” It doesn’t sound like much, but I found it comforting. Then he gestures for the audience to applause. Gratefully, they do (I need all the encouragement I can get).
Next the clown finds a young man to join me, a third gentleman who is slightly older than us, and finally, a fourth man that he refers to as needing to be on the “rounder” side (insert rude stomach gesture here). The audience is cracking up when he points to a man in the front row. At first, the man’s wife thinks the clown is talking about her.
“You’ve got to be kidding!” she screams, thinking he has just insulted her. When the clown clarifies that he means her husband, she says, “Oh, him? Well then yes, of course!” She proceeds to push him out of his chair, and he begrudgingly takes the stage.
I am mortified for him. The four of us together must have looked like deer in headlights.
The clown does nothing with the first man – who I assume is going to be interacting with me in some way – and gives the second man a bowler hat and flowers, leading him toward the door frame. He gives the fourth, full-figured man a beret and a clapperboard, instructing him to be the one responsible for marking each scene.
Here’s where the fun begins.
The first man – who we’ll call Charlie – and I are told we are to warm up by doing some rather lewd dance moves that include shaking our butts and, in my case, another set of assets that are a bit higher up. I follow Charlie’s lead and know I look ridiculous.
Next, Charlie and I are told that we are lovers. The clown asks Charlie to sweep me off my feet and onto the stage “floor,” where he must proceed to shower me with kisses. The audience is cracking up at this point, and my head is in my hands. For his part, Charlie is breathing heavy and obviously incredibly nervous – as in, just as nervous as I was. He starts to laugh uncomfortably. The clown must sense his hesitation because he decides that he ought to demonstrate, and in the next minute I am on the stage “floor” being showered with real kisses from the clown.
Did I mention this event was once in a lifetime?
Meanwhile, the second man – who we’ll call Frank – is supposed to knock on the door frame with his flowers, only to walk in on us doing our thing and become so upset that he pulls out a toy “real” gun and shoots Charlie dead. As Charlie dies, I am to become distraught and prance across the stage in agony, ultimately kneeling beside Charlie’s body and drinking poison from a vial. My last move before I die is, supposedly, to flash the crowd.
Let me say that again. Flash the crowd.
At this point I’m thinking, “How did I get up here?!” and I can hear Charlie next to me saying, “I can’t believe we’ve been up here this long.” But the clown will have no one chickening out. He gestures to the third man, who we’ll call Jack, to use his clapperboard and initiate “take one.”
He does. No one moves.
The clown is behind the fake camera at this point, urging Charlie to take his cue. Charlie is laughing uncomfortably, unsure what to do. The audience is giggling, but still he is scared stiff. So am I.
Which is why I have no idea how I ended up saying, “Screw it,” and lying down on the floor myself.
The crowd appreciated my forwardness and thankfully, Charlie also gained a confidence boost. Before long we were both tangled up on the floor. He didn’t go so far as to kiss me, which I believe was for the best. I’m sure both Bobby and Charlie’s girlfriend were very intrigued by the scene before them. (Bobby said he couldn’t stop laughing.)
The clown signaled for Frank to take his cue. I couldn’t tell what was happening from the floor, but Bobby later told me that Frank neglected to knock and proceeded to walk straight through the door frame – a big “no no” for the miming clown, who couldn’t believe he had walked straight through an imaginary “real” door. And so we were forced to start over with “take two.”
And “take three.”
And “take four.”
Charlie said again, “I can’t believe we’ve been up here this long!” You and me both. But by now, I was laughing and having fun. My nerves were gone and I was running on pure adrenaline. The audience seemed to be enjoying themselves, so I figured we may as well give them a show.
We ended up on the ground one last time. Frank successfully knocked on the door, walked in with flowers and looked painfully shocked at the scene before him. He drew out his gun and shot Charlie, who to his credit did a phenomenal job of playing out his fake death.
The clown turned the fake camera on me for my final moment. I clutched my face in horror and, with a twirl across the stage that surprised everyone – and no one more so than me – ended up at Charlie’s side with the imaginary vial of poison. With a final look at the clown, I downed the vial and, turning toward the audience, gave my best mock flash. It wouldn’t earn me any beads in New Orleans, but I’d take appreciative laughs over plastic necklaces any day.
When I was finally dead, the clown pulled me to my feet and whispered, “Let’s bow, shall we?” The five of us had our final shining moment on stage, and then it was over. We were the second to last act in the show, which I still find unbelievable!
It was truly an unforgettable night. I hope you enjoyed my story – I wanted to make sure I wrote down every detail. Although I sadly don’t have a picture or video to show for it, it will definitely be one of those life moments I will look back on and think, “That was pretty damn cool.”
Speaking of fun moments, I was incredibly pleased with today’s #FebPhotoADay: sun! It has been rather cloudy in Chicago lately, but apparently the sun decided it wanted to participate in this month’s photo challenge because it made an appearance near lunchtime, blue sky and all!
Bright day leads to bright night. I wonder what tomorrow will hold? Can’t wait to find out.
What’s one of your favorite “once in a lifetime” experiences?
The craziness of this evening certainly makes my list!