Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kitten's Carol Adventure

I currently don't have any pictures to post, but they are on my camera and they will be uploaded here once my vida loca calms down a bit--whenever THAT will be.

Anyhoo, tonight was the long-awaited night when I finally got to realize a childhood dream--seeing Carol Burnett live. In person. At the Palace. How cool is it that I live in a state that has a theater called the Palace? But I digress.

I arrived at the Palace Theater around 7:00 PM and parked my car in the adjacent garage. The Palace is a part of a fine arts complex that includes the Waterbury Arts Magnet School. It was my first time in this particular part of Waterbury, and I was a little nervous. However, there were so many patrons around, as well as so much security, that my worries turned out to be unfounded.

The doors to the theater didn't open till about 7:15. I waited in line and tweeted about my impatience for a bit, but then managed to strike up a conversation with two people behind me. It was really nice to meet other hard-core Carol fans--and I was sharing the space with over 1,000 of them tonight!

First of all, let me just say that I may get a subscription to the Palace Theater just for the Palace itself. It is an absolutely gorgeous space. It underwent extensive renovations about ten years ago, and the results are more than worth it. I will post pictures when I get a chance; lots of patrons tonight were taking pictures of the theater itself. Meanwhile, you can read more about it by clicking here, and going to the Palace Theater's official website.

The show officially started around ten after eight. The gorgeous red-and-gold velvet curtain rose, and revealed a video screen, which played a montage of Carol's Tarzan yells from her show. This segued into clips of some of the funniest segments from the questions and answers that opened The Carol Burnett Show every week. Finally, to conclude the video presentation, there was a montage of openings from Carol's show, featuring Carol entering the stage in a different Bob Mackie outfit every week.

And then, at the end of the open...

Timpani roll, please...

Spotlight, stage right...

Enter, Carol Burnett.

She was wearing a sparkly black minidress, black heels, and a warm smile. About half the theater stood up in welcome.

And I had to wipe tears from my eyes. That really surprised me, that reaction. I knew that Carol had always meant a lot to me, I'm still teary just thinking about it.

The stage was very simply decorated with three oriental rugs, and later, a chair, a side table, and a bouquet of white lilies. Carol introduced herself, briefly outlined the evening's agenda, and encouraged any and all questions. And then, just as in her show, she asked to "bump up the lights", and the questions began.

The leadoff question came from a man who had just read Carol's latest book, This Time Together (review coming soon; again, I've got a vida loca lately). He wanted to know why Carol named her Yorkie Bruce, even though Bruce was a girl. Carol explained that she had a very good friend at UCLA, Bruce Campbell, and once promised Bruce that she would name her first child after him. And her first child was a female Yorkie. Hence, Bruce.

The next question came from a fellow who wanted to hear the Tarzan yell. And of course, Carol obliged. :) She talked about how she can only do the yell in controlled circumstances; one time, she went to a department store in New York to buy stockings, and didn't have a credit card to pay. She had her checkbook, but the sales clerk needed identification (!). So, the sales clerk went to talk to her manager, who then told Carol that her check would be approved if she did the Tarzan yell. She did the yell, and all of a sudden, a security guard burst into the room with a gun in hand.

There were lots of other questions asked. One woman drove all the way from Pennsylvania with her mother and sisters to be at the show. She asked Carol to call on her sister, who was terrified to speak. Well, the sister did speak, and asked Carol two things: What she knew for sure, and what was the smartest thing she had ever done. I loved Carol's response: What she knew for sure was that you don't really know anything for sure. As for the smartest thing, she wasn't sure what it was.

One young man announced that he brought his 93-year-old mother with him, and it was her birthday. He asked Carol to sing "Happy Birthday" to her, and both she, and everyone else in the theater, obliged.

One woman stood up and announced that she was named after Carol, and wanted to know if Carol had any advice for her. Carol was flattered, chuckled quite a bit, and just told young Carol to "keep on keeping on."

Carol also had a very funny story to share about Tim Conway. Tim's wife, Mary Ann, was a champion bridge player, and she'd travel across the country to participate in bridge tournaments. One night, she was invited to a party hosted by other bridge players, and Tim accompanied her, albeit reluctantly. The evening went on, and Tim's getting bored, because he knows nothing about bridge. Finally, near the end of the shindig, Tim goes to the bathroom, opens the medicine cabinet, and pulls out a jar of Vaseline and a jar of Q-Tips. He took a glob of Vaseline and dotted it on his face, then took the Q-Tips and stuck them into the Vaseline. He returned to the living room, looked at his wife, and his wife was stunned. There was a long silence, and finally, Tim quipped, "The Q-Tips jar exploded."

Carol stated that Tim and Mary Ann divorced shortly after that.

Now, for those of you who are wondering if Carol is as nice, sweet, and grounded in person as all of those news stories say she is...I'm here to say they are all true. Even though the Palace was a big theater, and there were over 1,000 people there to see her (a sell-out crowd, nearly), it still felt like a very intimate evening. The audience was gushing in their adoration toward Carol, and she was very touched and flattered. She accepted a gift of a lovely, hand-knit scarf from a fan, and chuckled when another told her that this evening was on her bucket list.

One fan asked her if she would follow Betty White's lead and host SNL. Carol flatly said no, and the audience groaned. Carol then smiled and explained that she thought Betty did such a good job, she felt that she couldn't top her. She added that she didn't want to feel like she was copying Betty, either. Carol did mention, though, that she really wanted to be on Glee, and there were screams and hoots from the audience in response to this news. Carol gushed about Jane Lynch, and the music, and said that the "kids were fabulous."

The evening was interspersed with video clips of movie takeoffs from the old Carol Burnett Show, musical duets with guests, and anecdotes about her life in show business, all very warm and moving. She had nothing but kind words to say about her mentor, Garry Moore, when a fan asked her whom she had learned the most from. And then, of course, was a question about Carol's relationship with Lucille Ball. Lucy died on Carol's birthday, and every year, on her birthday, Lucy would send Carol flowers. Carol learned about Lucy's death from the morning news shows on TV, and later that afternoon, Lucy's flowers arrived at her door.

Overall, it was a very wonderful evening, one I will hold close to my heart for a very long time to come. Yes, Carol, I really am glad we had this time together, and the last lyric of your theme song does ring true: it seemed we really just got started, when the time came to say "so long."


Missy B. said...

I grew up watching The Carol Burnette show and loved it! How lucky you are to have seen her in person....I know that you will cherish the memory forever.

Jenners said...

What a wonderful opportunity to get to know your "idol" better. IT sounds like a neat way she does her show ... very intimate (like you said) and personal. I'm so glad you got to go.

septembermom said...

I'm SO GLAD that you had this experience. I know that you loved every minute of it. Go Carol for wearing that black mini dress. She's got style and wit. She would be great on Glee. Sad story about when Lucy died.