Do you know the way to K.C.MO.? (Part 2)

The chase temporarily ended as I turned and located my seating area. Feeling somewhat defeated, I adjusted the ear buds to my I Touch and pressed the button to drown out the noise around me. The theatre was buzzing with activity. Set technicians worked with the lighting, movement and timing of the stage props. Music from the orchestra pit drifted on the light winds that tried to cool down the 95 degree temperature. A small group of volunteers, dressed in white shirts, beige shorts or slacks and yellow vests, had completed their team meeting and began to disperse throughout the seating areas with towels in hand to wipe down the seats. I watched as one of the young men passed in front of me. I stopped him, and asked what  to become a volunteer. He pointed to a woman wearing a red vest, the team captain. After obtaining the needed information, I headed back to my seat when another volunteer , a woman in her late forties, asked if I would like to participate in a backstage tour of the theatre. I heard the sounds of angels singing  as I smiled at the offer.  She pointed towards the general area for the tour group and I quickly made my way there.

At the top of the landing, a rather rotund female sat at a table and greeted me with a chubby-faced smile. “Here for the tour?” I nodded the affirmative. “Just join the folks behind me. We will start in five minutes.” A group of ten people of various races and ages, were lounging and talking amongst themselves. Soon the guide gathered us and proceeded with information about the building and the production. The history behind the theatre states that a need for a venue to house the celebration of Kansas City’s 100th centennial was in discussion. As other contenders dropped out of the race, Swope Park became the choice. In 1949 construction began. They completed the theatre in 1950 for the anniversary but that did not stop the show, Thrills of a Century, from going forward to a full house in attendance. The revues success gave the city the needed drive to complete the theatre. At one time, thirty-eight other self-producing outdoor theatres in the United States existed. Today, only three remain with Starlight in that listing. “There are 500 costumes total and seventeen wigs for each cast member in the show. When we go back, please do not touch anything.” she concluded.

By the time the tour began, the crowd had doubled. I made sure that I placed myself in the front of the group as we moved forward. This gave me a bird’s-eye view to spot Monsieur. As we were about to cross the stage entrance, a young actor nodded as he passed in front of us balancing a tray of food in one hand and carrying a tote bag in the other. Conversations from technicians, actors and directors filled the air as we walked through. Make-up tables with bright lights outlining the mirrors placed an unusual glow throughout the area. Wigs covered every available table space and counter. The energy was palpable. My eyes scanned over trunks, screens and props as the group made its way through the backstage area. I drifted behind the crowd to search out Monsieur. All I had to go on were a set of unforgettable eyes, a mischievous, sexy smile and a black and red back pack. Just as I began to strike out down a vacant hallway, a soft voice called out. “Oh Miss.” It was the tour guide waving her hand high above her head. “No one is allowed down there. Please, it’s 7:20 and all guests must leave so the actors can prepare for the show.” I offered my apologies and took one more look before exiting the door. The performance? Fantastic. The costumes? Beautiful. Monsieur…? Elusive.

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