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Chicago Week 1

I decided to return to the train on Monday, and use Tuesday to sort of repack.
Jameson is graciously letting me stay at the condo for the first week of shows.
I'm super grateful because we've got some early splits on the weekdays. The commute may not be any shorter, but at least there'll be a real bed, shower, and fridge waiting for me at the end of the day. Thank you Jameson!

So on Monday I took the metro to Union Station. Jameson came with me to make sure I didn't get lost or stuck in any turnstiles (you wouldn't BELIEVE how often I get stuck in turnstiles.) At the station we saw lots of decorations left over from the recent Ringling PR event.

I got back to the train and cleaned up my room, then took the bike to get a few groceries.
I <3 my bike. It gets easier to ride every time I take it out.

Opening day went well. We've got some big enthusiastic crowds here in Chicago. The Friday morning show was especially nice, because one of the school groups was so enthusiastic they danced all the way through the second half! It was super cute :)
During the split, guess what I got to do!!!

I got to see the Chicago Symphony under Tilson Thomas playing Mahler's 9th Symphony!!

Brett and I booked it over to the concert hall between shows. Our morning show ended at 12:50, and theirs started at 1:30. We made it with only minutes to spare!
I love classical music, especially anything featuring the low brass ;)
I'd been looking forward to this concert for several weeks.
It was my first time hearing a world-class symphony live!
And it was definitely worth it. They were PRISTINE. Mahler's 9th ends quietly, unlike most of his other large works. It takes a lot of control, a lot of subtlety, to play such exposed and delicate music.
The CSO pulled it off flawlessly.

There were loud brassy parts as well (it's Mahler after all) and we were sitting directly across from the trombones, so we got to enjoy the power and energy full blast. It was just as interesting to watch as it was to listen. You could see the concentration, the control, and everyone breathing together to make the piece flow seamlessly between instruments. Wicked awesome. When the concert was over, I was wishing for more!!
Here's a link to a review of Thursday's premiere.

We stopped at a nearby pizza place for late lunch/early dinner, then got back to the arena in time for our 400th performance of Built to Amaze. Wow...where did the time go!!!
It feels like we were just in Brooklyn doing our 200th...

Audiences over the weekend were awesome. The arena was packed pretty much every show, and Sunday night's show was a sell out. It's a great feeling when your show can fill a 20,000 seat arena :)

After the Sunday shows, we held the annual Red Unit No Talent Talent Show!
This is an event where circus folk can show off their skills that you wouldn't see them using in the show. Kids also have the opportunity to perform. The band stuck around to play a number for Chantelle (production), who did a pretty racy dance number...if you know Chantelle you know that ain't her! Pics will be posted next week, if I can find some :)

Brett, Brett (new trainmaster), Tim (sax), Melissa (production), Alan (sound crew), the new paymaster (name?), and I performed some trombone Christmas carols about halfway through the evening. It went pretty well! It's amazing how many people here can play brass instruments/trombone. Maybe I should keep a list of subs ;)
Members of the band also stuck around to play backup for some vocal acts. Everyone did a great job!
In addition to musical numbers, there were aerialists, dance sequences, and other shows of skill (i.e. hula hoops, ballet, etc).

Nixon (concessions) shows off his jazz clarinet skills.

Olesya (acrobats' daughter) showed off her aerial skills. She was great!!

(photo courtesy Olesya, pictured at left)

The No Talent Talent Show is also an awards ceremony. Awards are given out for Best Department, Hardest Working Teamster, Biggest Flirt, Space Cadet, and many more categories! Colleen got the Golden Spatula for serving the best food at Pie Car, and Bernadette got the Golden Shovel for scooping the most elephant poop :) The Emelins got Best Act (or was it Hardest Working Performer? Maybe both!) and although the band was nominated for Best Department, that honor went to Wardrobe and they absolutely deserve it.
Great job everyone!!

There's also the Nablo of the Year award. This award goes to the biggest Nablo, i.e. the person who did the most foolhardy thing all year. This year I was surprised to find that Olesya (the young woman pictured above) got this award!! Why? For tipping golf carts at winter quarters!!! For SHAME ;D

(photo courtesy Olesya)

After the ceremony was through,
I returned to the train to rest up for the second week of Chicago performances.
There are only two weeks of shows left. AMAZING!

Also this week:

A review of Built to Amaze in the Chicago Tribune (the band gets a mention, yay!) CLICK HERE

Juliette Feld came out to visit us this week!

(photo courtesy Juliette Feld)

Advertisements for our show can be seen throughout Chicago.

(photo courtesy bacaling)

(photo courtesy theotherlinda)

In this video, Blue Unit elephant handlers describe what it's like to work with the elephants.

Both Blue and Gold units are rehearsing their new shows in winter quarters in Florida.
Photos courtesy Nicole and Juliette Feld.

An update on the Marvel Live tour...here come the villains!! CLICK HERE

Another benefit of our newly revised contract: bottled water!
This is especially wonderful in arenas that don't have water fountains. Like this one.

Sunset at the train.