Backstage at Bracebridge Dinner

Bracebridge Webmasters - Pedro Rodelas aka Chef Pierre and me
After attending Bracebridge Dinner with the marketing group last year, I was so impressed that I resolved to volunteer to be in it this year. The Bracebridge organizers are (justifiably) particular about not allowing cameras during the performance, and I wanted to take pictures!

I didn’t end up taking that many pictures after all, but I did get to participate in a wonderful experience, and met some interesting people. I had corresponded a little with Pedro before in terms of updating the websites. He’s the one who put the wonderful videos that inspired me up on their site last year, and so introduced myself to him early on, and managed to nab this quick picture.

(from left to right) Christine, Cindy (half hidden), Tom, Maria, Dave, me, John, George, Sean and Katie
As a member of the serving party, my costume was relatively simple – a belted tunic and tights, with some buckles that went on over my shoes, and a funky floppy hat with a button in it – a far cry from the beautiful dresses that the choir wears, or even the interesting and unique costumes of the Forrest Folk. But I loved being part of this small group. Tom, Maria, Christine, Katie, Cindy, Josh, Ian, and Corey, plus the litter-bearers, Dave (our guide and mentor), Kent, Sean and John. It was funny to watch the boys pull uncomfortably at their tights, or twirl in their tunics like young girls in a brand new dress. Christine taught us some of the moves to Thriller in the lobby as we waited for our cues to go in, and even though I only volunteered for the first 4 performances, I made them promise that if by some miracle Andrea agreed to let us do the Thriller dance down the aisle on Christmas evening, that they would call me up.

As Lani told me at one point, “This is live theater, you never know what is going to happen.” I don’t want to give anything away for people who haven’t been yet, but in a performance like this, where the “stage” encompasses the entire dining hall and all of the people in it, including the audience, the potential for Things To Happen is tremendous, and I thought that the actors and singers were quick on their feet, and managed to absorb even the strangest and most unexpected things into the storyline with grace and style. Lani Spicer took a beautiful series of pictures of the “littlest guest“, a ringtail cat that made it’s way up on to the stage and sometimes stole the show.

The best thing about being in the serving party (other than the people) was that we were allowed to slip into the back of the house during scenes we weren’t involved in, and watch. There are so many things going on that I missed when I attended performance last year, that I was glad to have the chance to take it in again (and again), for example, the looks that the Chef and the Housekeeper exchange, or the reaction of the Squire to the Parson.

Plus, if I haven’t mentioned it before, the music is amazing. I’m not much of an opera fan, but there is something about the power of the human voice and that kind of music that gives me goosebumps. The music buoyed me up even through the long days that started at 8 am with a full day of work before hurrying to the Dinner performance which often lasted past 10pm, and I marched around the office with parts of the refrains running through my head and lending me energy.

Next year I wonder if I can finagle a spot as a hostess. They have the lovely dresses, and get to watch even more of the performance.