November 27, 2006
Behind the scenes look at a powerful performance!
While visiting Rockford, Illinois over Thanksgiving, I was invited to attend the Rockford Dance Company's production of the Nutcracker Suite at the Coronado Theater. Little did I know what a treat was in store. Not only was the performance fantastic, and the theater was unlike anything I've experienced, but I got to meet a longtime favorite blogger -- M. Simon of Power and Control -- who lives in Rockford and whose very talented daughter Camille Simon had two roles in the production.
The theater took my breath away, and it has to be seen to be believed. They just don't make 'em like that any more, and my photos (taken at night, with difficulty) don't do the place justice. This was an extravagantly, decadently opulent theater when it was built, and unlike it's counterparts in many larger cities (long since demolished) the Coronado has been restored to perfection. It provides real evidence of another American era -- a whimsically esthetic time of cultural revival. Whether it took the form of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Neo Babylonian or Egyptian revival, such frivolous and lovable decadence just couldn't quite survive the serious times that followed in which modern America "grew up." Now that we are mature, Americans look back with wonder and awe at days largely gone and forgotten.
Wikipedia accurately describes the Coronado's design as "breathtaking":
The elaborate auditorium of the theater is designed according to the atmospheric style which was popular in movie houses built in the 1920's. This style simulates an outdoor theater-going experience. The Coronado's auditorium walls are decorated with the facades of gilded Spanish-style buildings, and the ceiling looks like a deep blue sky filled with twinkling stars and floating clouds. The auditorium is full of gilded detail. Green stained-glass lamps with fluted bulbs adorn the walls. Japanese dragons and glowing lanterns cover the organ screens on either side of the stage. The seats are covered with plush red velvet.A few of my photos follow.
Here's the outside at night:
Immediately after you enter, the lobby ceiling looks like this:
Some random interior details give a general idea of the opulence of the place:
(I preserved the anonymity of the patrons on the staircase, as they weren't engaged in a public demonstration or anything, and I have no way of knowing whether they would want their faces appearing in a blog.)
The performance was fantastic. The dancers couldn't have been more talented and professional, and my only criticism does not involve them, but only the apparent shortage of male ballet dancers -- which I'm told is a problem in many cities. (Back in the days of Shakespearean theater, men used to play women, so the new role reversal is ironic.)
Unfortunately, I was not allowed to photograph the performance, so readers won't be able to appreciate the costumes, scenery, or performers.
However, there was no rule against photographing the power behind the scenes, or a guy who in fairness should be considered the man behind the controls -- M. Simon of Power and Control. I already mentioned that his daughter Camille was in the performance, but what I only found out later is that the theater still has the original control levers, with which he is obviously familiar.
As it turned out, I was allowed to pose at the controls with Mr. Power and Control himself!
(Talk about leverage!)
A great weekend. I only wish there'd been more time.
posted by Eric on 11.27.06 at 09:57 AM
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