Actually, attending phenomenally-bad musical productions is my family's absolute favorite thing to do together. About 12 years ago, for example, we were required to sit through all two hours and thirty minutes of The Gristmill Pageant in Tooele Utah, which you did pronounce incorrectly unless you live in this state. It was an entirely lip-synced presentation about the founding of Tooele Utah, which is not something about which many people have ever wondered.
The play revolved around a very old grandma (read: a young woman in a grey wig) sitting in a rocking chair at a family reunion, telling all of her grandchildren about how Tooele came to be. The lights would periodically flash to center stage where the ensemble cast would dance and lip-sync the story grandma was telling.
Of note, one of the children performers, a young girl, in a teenage-angsty voice, proclaimed at the beginning of the play, "Grandma, Iiiiiiiii'm bored. When do aaaaall the cute BOYS get here?!"
Also, my family came out of this play with two new favorite songs that are sung to this day with some regularity at family gatherings. One of them involved a dozen plump women singing in high-pitched excessively-vibratoed voices, "WHAT DO WASHER WOMEN REALLY WASH?!?! A WOMAN'S JOB IS TO WASH. HER. MAAAAAAAAAAN!" And then the women chased the men around the stage. FOR TEN MINUTES.
The other song was sung at the finale by the entire cast. The only lines any of us can remember them lip-syncing, as they swayed back-and-forth, arm-in-arm, were "in Tooele there is music. In Tooele it is clean. In Tooele there are people." And then shaking their fingers at the audience "YOU REALLY OUGHT TO FIND OUT WHAT WE MEAN!" The last line was repeated three times before being sung slowly one final time as the cast went into a vibrant hand-jazz ending pose.
Also, I'm being generous when I say the play was lip-synced. The performers didn't even try to mouth the words being spoken or sung. They just dramatically moved their arms and opened and closed their mouths like fish out of water.
(And oh my gosh. I just googled it and found out that someone thought it valuable to upload onto Youtube a very poor-quality 2007 video of part of one song in the production. I don't remember this song, and it may not have been a part of the 2003 version we witnessed, but here it is anyway.)
For many years, the December concert we attended as a family was Michael McLean's The Forgotten Carols, which you most definitely know if you have ever been a Mormon for even a day. This is a musical wherein Michael McLean takes great liberties with Bible stories and sings them from the perspectives of the people who never got to tell their side. Like the innkeeper who really regrets his decision to turn Mary and Joseph away. Or the shepherd who fell asleep and forgot to see the star. Or Mary's friend who babysat Jesus once and remembers that he was "soft and warm."
(I'm not kidding about this. Look it up.)
We generally liked going to this concert because it was relatively well done. But at the end of the musical Michael McLean always performs this song wherein the audience members are required to link arms, sway back-and-forth, and politely sing "we can be together forever someday (in heaven)."
Family relationships have been nearly destroyed over who had to sit on the end next to a stranger at these concerts.
So to avoid the uncomfortable arm-linking experience, this year Bob and Cathie chose some kind of concert put on by an old western country group.
Let me be clear: I have no use for this kind of music in my life. That said, I can appreciate talented performers, even if their talent makes me sad inside.
These performers were unbelievably talented musicians. And, because this was a country music group, the concert covered the following topics:
5. The Republican Party
And not necessarily in that order.
The concert was going on swimmingly when the oldest man in the entire world wearing a belt buckle you could see from space WITHOUT YOUR GLASSES walked onto the stage and began reciting a very long poem about America while a tattered American flag was lowered behind him.
The poem was heartfelt and sweet and it was delivered well.
And as the man finished the last line, something about may America always live in glory something or other, there was an eruption in the 2,000-member audience so loud that it woke up all of your babies. IN BERLIN.
The row of large bearded men in cowboy hats seated directly behind me stood and began screaming, "BOOYA 'MERICA!!!" while simultaneously pumping their fists in the air.
And what was my reaction? What did I do while people cheered for America?
You guys. I ROLLED MY EYES.
And then I suddenly realized that at some point I have become the kind of person who rolls his eyes when people cheer for America!
I MIGHT AS WELL BE A TERRORIST!
And this was confusing because y'all. I love America, too.
AND I DON'T EVEN SAY Y'ALL.
Then it occurred to me that the reason I was annoyed was because I just automatically assumed, due to the place and tone of cheering, that this row behind me was celebrating a version of America quite different than the one I think is awesome. Which, admittedly, might have been unfair. For all I know, these people were cheering for America because this country is so great that it was finally able to murder Glee.
Then Cathie distracted me by asking if I wanted a snack and then opened her purse, which was filled nearly to the top with Trident and lemons.
~It Just Gets Stranger