The year started with a new car, not a brand new one but a decent sedan offered to us by a friend under the friendliest terms and conditions, so we got it.
I drive down with it and an entertainer to meet up with the officers of this Rotary Club in Quezon City to negotiate a contract for me to direct the opening and closing ceremonies of their district conference (the entertainer brought me into this project). I was supposed to provide my services as director of two production numbers, the doxology (the latest trend is for the invocation to be done in song [Bocelli's The prayer] and dance [a couple of ballet dancers]), 24 dancers, production design, and 15 ballroom dance instructors for the Governor's Ball.
Slacks, Lacoste shirts and shoes, blazers, gelled hair, cigarettes and Scotch, plus me and the entertainer.
She represents me and the lights and sound provider, this entertainer. That's ok, she's put a mark up on every single item that would fall under my budget. Aside from what I was supposed to provide, she was bringing in herself and a brass band. What I didn't know was that that mark up avergaed 50% on every item. Not to mention her 150% mark up on the brass band. An hour into the meeting and it was apparent that the Rotarians thought the budget was too high, plus they weren't really impressed with the lights and sound provider that the entertainer brought with her, as far as they're concerned, they'd rather stick to the lights and sound provider they used the previous year. Sensing that, the etertainer blurts out what she thought would seal the deal - "I won't perform if you don't get my guy." Diva.
Long story short, one more meeting and then they took her out, took her guy out, and chose to keep me. I relay this information to her, plus the fact that they'd only do it if the budget is this much, and under that budget I could only give her 5%. She agrees, or so I thought.
The District Conference happened, with the Rotary's original choice for lights and sound equipment providing technical reinforcement ruining the whole thing with booboos every five minutes (bringing the Rotary Governor to several near heart attacks), and with the entertainer out of the scene but all over town telling the story of how the project was "stolen" from her.
The election campaign fever followed right after the district conference, and I was really craving for some soul food, so to speak. So we decide to do JC-Live - no money, just guts and a great libretto. Perennial benefactors University of Baguio and Rural Bank of Itogon provide some much needed funds to jumpstart the thing. We use some of that money to buy beer for the two VOCAS performances. Nathan dilly-dallies as Herod so we decide to bring in the new kid in town, Ron Luis, to audition for the role. I meet him, he says hello in that rough, Tom Waits voice, and I say, "you're in." He does a blues version of Herod's song.
Ethan's musical direction is at the center of the production, it's a concert afterall. Despite the lack of budget, he thought it was necessary to bring in more musicians adding a keyboard and two blowers to our original band of 5 musicians.
We open in VOCAS with a modestly filled house... the first performance, as expected, seemed more like a dress tech, with hitches here and there, all minor though, thank God. No lights where Judas was supposed to enter, Herod kept disappearing and just as his part was coming next, he decides to go to the bathroom, so he sings the first lines as he was zipping up his fly coming out of the bathroom. Cholo messes up some of his lines, and struggled throughout the Pilate and Christ scene. Yoshi was off by five seconds in that prolonged high note in Gethsemane (but, well, 15 seconds instead of 20 sustaining that high note is already a feat anyway). The second show the next day was a hit, with all the minor hitches ironed out, by the time the overture was played in John Hay on the third day, Open Space rose again. And for the first time, it didn't rain on Good Friday in Baguio. Not in John Hay anyway. And then the usual, "really? you guys aren't from Manila? All these talents are local?" Yeah.
I still have all the lights (those improvised par cannisters fashioned out of G.I. sheets and curtain rods) in the trunk of our car (thirty percent paid and counting). The entertainer cashed her check the day after I left it for her at the front desk of the Manor. A performance art festival is in the offing and will open in a couple of weeks. We're doing our performance art peice designed for the visually impaired.
Some Scotch on the rocks and a day at the beach wouldn't be bad at all. Rain or shine.