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Posts tagged ‘Aurora Arts Theatre’

Settling Down Now……

WHEW! That was a wild ride!

For those that don’t know, I have NEVER been involved in theatre….other than being a huge fan……so this has been quite an experience so far! I am not a stranger to performing though….having been in bands and singing at church over the years…..but I am really “kicking it up a notch” by scoring the part of Jeanette Burmeister in The Full Monty.

I have to give a huge shout out to the wonderful, incredible Aurora Arts Theatre for welcoming me and my family with such open arms! Last summer my husband tripped over this new community theatre at the corner of Everhart and Holly. He walked in one day to see about booking it to have a concert for his flute quartet Absoflutely! and it changed our lives FOREVER!

Paul became a member of the House Band playing in “Cabaret”, “The Rocky Horror Show” and “Footloose”.  My mother was in town at the time and I loaded up Rachel and both Grandmas and we went to see Paul play in Cabaret. The show was incredible……and I was HOOKED!

Paul would come home after rehearsal and performances telling us what fun he was having….I teased him about his Russian girlfriend he was shuttling back and forth to rehearsals……I heard all about the Band Lounge and the incredible cast and I kept thinking to myself….


So I came with him one weekend and they put me to work! I took tickets, I worked the bathroom line, sold popcorn and beer and wine! I got to see Cabaret a few more times….just enough….leave her wanting more! And boy did the Aurora deliver! Next was “The Rocky Horror Show” and it was pretty much over for me…..

As a teen I went to see Rocky Horror at a midnight cinema in downtown Cincinnati…..one of my fondest memories being there with my best friends who I loved dearly and doing this completely CRAZY thing! Have you seen the show? Talk about a culture SHOCK! Here I was…sheltered little suburban girl….surrounded by dudes in DRAG! It was amazing!

I KNEW that was going to be one of the craziest things this town had ever seen so I became a “Professional Volunteer”. I wasn’t going to miss a minute of that nutty show and I was there every weekend…..then something strange happened…..the show has “shout outs” see…..audience participation is one of the BEST parts of the Rocky experience. The audience plays against the characters on stage…of course the goal is to do your best to get the actors to “break character” ……. and that’s where I really became “vested” in this experience…..

Being there every week I inadvertently became part of the show……people were telling me how hilarious some of my shout outs where and that was pretty much all I needed…..I became a woman on a mission……most of the shout outs are classics that have traveled with the show over the course of the last 30 or so years……you always yell ASSHOLE when they say “Brad” and you always yell SLUT when they say “Janet”……. that’s tradition……but there are a few places where you can throw in some new material and God…we were KILLING THEM! I would search the internet, try material on Paul, worked with several other crew members to get just the right line……all the while dressing up in crazy, slutty outfits……it was one of the most fun times of my LIFE!

I can’t even begin to express the love and affection we feel for the entire Chapa family. They are the heart and soul of this place……you come in and you feel at home….and it isn’t the decor…it’s because this building is filled with love.

“Footloose” was next and I was desperate to audition……but things got a little sideways at home and just felt I needed to spend time with my family. I have no regrets at all………that show…….*sigh*……..it was rough. Plagued with issues like multiple directors, stage managers, choreographers…….it just seemed like it was having difficulty “coming together” you know? But the cast was young, some inexperienced and it was a little shaky there for a while…..but by opening night it was pretty well pulled together and really had a very successful run…sold out almost every weekend!……despite a horribly designed set, awkward and clunky transitions…..we saw a round of double or triple laryngitis……lighting snafoos…..pieces of the set falling mid act (great save Bryan Davis!)…..and a character had to be replaced in the middle of the run for personal reasons…..our wonderful technical director lost his father……my husband was diagnosed with cancer……it was like this show was CURSED……

……and it ended with the tragic loss of our beloved leader Mr. Ed Chapa…….the man who started this theatre only the year before….named in honor of his mother Aurora……his life cut short at the young age of 55 by a brain aneurism…..

Of course the last show, scheduled for the next day, was canceled……..it was one of the most tragic things I had ever witnessed and the pain we all experienced is a thousand blog posts worth……

But we preservered….just the way Eddie would have wanted……and oh, he would be so PROUD of the current show “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”. Eddie’s hands were all over this production and it is brilliant. The director is young and fresh, the actors are some of Corpus Christi’s BRIGHTEST stars and they deliver an incredible trip down the road of love, dating, marriage and children every weekend! the show only called for piano so Paul and I have been going every weekend to work the concession stand together.

Can I tell you what a blessing this has been to us? To go see these wonderful performers, be surrounded by people who love and care about us, and to laugh our asses off every weekend while we are dealing with his cancer diagnosis? I don’t even have the words……seriously….I get all choked up thinking about how much my husband loves this place and how much fun he has talking to patrons, getting a million hugs, talking music and watching this show week after week…..

……..things like this support our soul…….

So is it any wonder I HAD to audition for Full Monty? I mean, the show is LOADED with parts for women my age…..so of course Paul and I started researching……he ordered a copy of the script and we began searching the music online…..and that  just gets us going even more……then we got the soundtrack and it was all over from there…..I was falling in love with this show! But the timing…..I just wasn’t sure…..I mean, Paul’s surgery and treatment isn’t going to be a walk in the park……but we discussed it and prayed about it and just felt there probably wasn’t a more PERFECT time to do this…..

Talk about a fun distraction for us during one of the most stressful times of our LIFE! Can you imagine what his hospital stay is going to be like??!! We are going to be showing up with scripts and lines and music and scores and the sassy Jeanette Burmeister, out of retirement Broadway accompanist to the boys of The Full Monty! Oh good Lord….someone better call UTSA and warn them……

You know, the Lord provides in so many ways…..you just have to look for the blessings you have in your life….


It’s Going To Be a Sad Day…..

 It’s a sad day here in our home today…..we are going to the funeral service of our very good friend Ed Chapa today. Ed was the owner and Executive Director of the Aurora Arts Theatre. As many know, Paul walked into that little theatre last summer and changed all our lives! He went in to see about renting it for an Absoflutely! concert and ended up in the “house band” for the show Cabaret.

Needless to say, Paul LOVED it! This was really his first regular gig since becoming a “full-time musician” at the beginning of 2010 and he really felt at home there. Of course, we all went to see him and were AMAZED at this wonderful little community theatre and this incredible man with this booming voice and big bear paw hands! Ed Chapa was so happy to meet us and went on and on about how great Paul is……that’s MY kind of guy! lol!

So Cabaret ended and the next show was Rocky Horror. Growing up in Cincinnati I had been to the downtown midnight showing of Rocky back when I was….uhhhh….YOUNG….anyway….it’s iconic and so much fun! Paul, of course, signed up with the bad again and I became the “Professional Volunteer” selling popcorn, drinks and such……Then I ended up the “Shout Out Queen” sitting in the audience every show and doing “shout outs” at the cast…..there was dressing up in crazy costumes, yelling out obscene things in a sold out theatre, fantastic music and lots of Time Warping…..it was the BEST……

By this time we were full-fledged adopted children of the Chapas…..I learned the recipe for Chapa Corn (the best popcorn you will ever eat!) and I would sit in “Chapa Row” in the back, reserved for the staff…..and Paul and Ed developed a friendship …… a good one…..and for those that know my husband….REALLY know my husband….that is rare. He has lots of friends and a few select “buddies” and Eddie was one of them…..

Paul would just pop into the theatre on a weekday afternoon and sit and “shoot the shit” with Eddie…..theatre, music, life….no topic was off limits…..and Eddie confided in Paul as well….sharing his frustrations of opening a brand new venture….(the theatre celebrated their 1 year anniversary last month). They were friends……and we are crushed…..

The next show was Footloose and I gave serious consideration to auditioning (note: I have NEVER considered auditioning for a play in my LIFE!) but the timing wasn’t right…..kid drama kept me at home…..and I feel it was God’s hand saying “not yet…”…because I swear that show as cursed the moment it started….

It was just a rough show…..went thru 3 directors and the last one walked out the day before opening night….went thru one or two choreographers….2 stage managers…..everyone hated the set design and the cast was very inexperienced…..one of the cast members had to be replaced 1/2 way thru the run…..drinking problem apparently…..sickness and laryngitis ran thru the cast like wildfire……it was just HARD…..it was like it was being FORCED into being……and it ended in the most tragic way…..

Last Friday night we all went to the show….the kids helped with crowd control….I was working the concession booth and of course, Paul was in the band……last Friday night show, we all had Saturday off then we would come close the show on Sunday with the matinee……I spent the evening huddled in the office with Ed’s wife Mary and his sister-in-law Norma, telling them our tale of misdiagnosed gall stones and biopsies and possible cancer…..Mary shared some of the trials and tribulations of Ed’s recent knee replacement surgery (done 2 weeks before). Little did we know when we said goodbye and handed out all our hugs what was in store for the next 24 hours……

Eddie was sitting at his computer around 3:30 Saturday when he had a ….. we don’t even know….heart attack? aneurism? does it matter? His sweet Mary was there by his side as he was rushed to the hospital but their efforts were futile……Eddie was gone…..

Sudden……tragic…..and a great loss to our family as well as the community as a whole…….we are just crushed…..

We sure could use you right about now Ed! And I know he was very concerned about Paul’s health…….but I know there is an advocate in heaven right now pulling for Paul and that brings me some comfort…….

Please say a small prayer for us today as we weep and say goodbye to our dear friend…..

“Live theatre Baby! Live theatre……..” — Eddie Chapa

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