2019 Greater Colorado Tour – Day 2

Coach accompanist Tyler Tucker in Lamar, CO. Photo: Opera Colorado/Cherity Koepke

Day 2: March 6, 2019
Lamar to Pueblo

Happy Wednesday readers. The dogs are barking this morning. That’s not a reference to anyone having issues with their feet—the dogs are actually barking. That’s was our wake up call. Seems another guest at the hotel travels with their canine companions and they weren’t very happy when people they didn’t know invaded their personal space. It’s fine, we have to get up and be ready to go soon enough. Plus, the waffle bar is calling. Well, for Eric and Rebekah who were both very excited about the range of possibilities. Eric did research about the hotels we’re staying in and informed us about the waffle maker on the premises before we left Denver. Some of us choose lighter options and others skip breakfast all together. It’s really a personal decision.

We get our things, pack up the vehicles and head over to Lamar High School where we’ll be performing today. We’re going to be in the auditorium and students from the elementary school will be bussed over to watch the performance. The high school choir and band students will be invited to attend too. On the drive to the school Edward share his fascination with the variety of animal transports that exist here in the U.S. Yesterday he saw a horse trailer and today it was a double decker cattle truck. We arrive at the school, Rebekah gets us checked in and we begin the process of loading in and setting up for Hansel and Gretel. Being our own crew, the load in and load out process is something that this group has done countless times and will do countless more before the season ends. It’s hard work. Nick is our Road Manager and he does a great job keeping everything on schedule. Eric is the Stage Manager and very dedicated to his spike tape and giving call times. Tyler helps pull the piano out of the box it lives in on stage while Kira and Rebekah handle the costumes and Edward and Aaren deal with the props. Everyone chips in where needed and soon, we have a show all set up on stage.

Tour bus Tetris, with the Opera Colorado Artists in Residence. Photo: Opera Colorado/Cherity Koepke

The kids start showing up a full 30 minutes before the show, so we close the curtain to allow us to keep getting ready. I grab everyone’s hotel keys and leave Edward to start the show without me so I can check us out. It takes me almost 45-minutes to accomplish so it’s a good thing I didn’t try to do it earlier. I’m back at the school just a few minutes before the performance ends, so I wait outside and listen to listen to little voice laughing and yelling “bravo.” It will never be something I get tired of hearing. There are eight buses gathered outside, so it’s a large group and they are dancing and singing as they leave the performance.

I rejoin the group and learn that the show went very well. As they get out of costume and reset for the top, I talk with one of the school staff and she’s near tears. She tells me over and over how much this means to them and that most of the students have not only never seen an opera, but they’ve never seen a live performance of any kind before. I try to convey how happy we are to be here too. It really is a privilege to be able to do this and we know it. With the show reset for the second performance we head to lunch. We’re going to Subway as it offers us the most options. My car arrives just fine as I navigated by memory. Tyler’s car arrives later, after they visited the “Subway House.” It’s not another restaurant… It’s just a house, possibly belonging to the Subway family. We’re not sure. Reunited, we dine.

The set for “Hansel and Gretel.” Photo: Opera Colorado/Cherity Koepke

Kira and Aaren are doing their level best to be incognito. They’re still in full makeup and Kira still has her wig cap on. We’re getting looks, but they’re not fazed. It’s all part of the job. The break doesn’t last long. We head back to the school to get ready for the second show. The students arrive even earlier this time, but we’re ready, so it’s fine. We have elementary and some high school students again. I give the pre-curtain talk, introduce Tyler and with a “bravo,” the show starts. Backstage, I work on my laptop and listen to a very quiet audience. They’re laughing at all the right places, so I know they’re paying attention, but they’re not applauding. We find this sometimes—the kids are so interested, they’re almost silent. By the end of the show, they’re cheering though. I start the Q&A and we talk about everything from how the set was made, to how they got so good, to how they stay in character for the whole show. They’re really interested in the props and how those are made too. We tell them goodbye and everyone goes to get out of costume. I notice that the high school choir students are hanging around, so I invite them up on stage to meet everyone and ask us questions. They’re so excited just to meet other people who love what they love. There’s another class that is waiting for their bus to arrive, so Tyler and I field more questions.

Once that wraps up, we start the load out process. Nick and Kira are fastidious packers and the Denali is neat and completely filled to the top by the time we’re done. It’s got the paraphernalia for both sets, so it’s actually amazing that it all fits. We snap some pics to commemorate the occasion and so they can remember how they did it. It’s like a game of Tetris every time. We get back on the road and start our drive to Pueblo. I know it’s supposed to take about 2 hours, but the GPS in the car is telling me the drive is almost 4 hours. I pull over into a hotel parking lot to check the directions. Sure enough, it was trying to take us all the way back to Denver and then south on I-25. Nope. While I am figuring out the right way to take, Rebekah reminds me where we are. This was not a personal growth moment, much as it sounds it would be. I have chosen to pull over in the parking lot of the hotel that we stopped at when we first arrived in Lamar. The one with the cookies. She’s tempted but Rebekah is a woman of discipline, so we get back on the road.

Kira and Pooh.

Edward is watching videos on his phone. Kira is cuddling her Pooh, and still in her stage makeup. Rebekah is reminiscing on how much this part of Colorado reminds her of Texas. We chat and listen to tunes as we drive. Edward is convinced that a grain mill located just off the road is full of tetanus. We make a pit stop, not at the grain mill, to use the facilities (but really it was for more snacks) and continue our drive. Tyler is munching on pink Laffy Taffy and my car smells like beef jerky and Starburst. We arrive in Pueblo and get checked into our hotel. We’re there just long enough to get our things into our rooms and then we head to dinner. Tonight’s restaurant of choice is an ale house on the river walk. It’s really cute. The service is glacially slow, but the food is great. It gives us time to talk and relax for a bit. Nick and Tyler commune over their drinks. Edward and Aaren have an animated conversation about the Boy Scouts. Kira, Rebekah, Eric, and I talk about food—specifically, Kira’s cupcakes. Now, this is not what you think it is readers. “Cupcake” is a code word. Kira has a teensy, tiny issue with arachnids. She can’t even say the common word for them without having a visceral reaction. So, at her request, we call them cupcakes.

Dinner over, we head back to the hotel. We’ve got a very challenging day tomorrow. We’re doing a performance of Hansel and Gretel in the morning in Beulah, and then we load out, drive to a school back in Pueblo and do a performance of Romeo & Juliet before driving back to Denver later this evening. We rarely do performances at two difference schools in one day—it’s just too much with load in and load out. But, while we’re on tour, we try and maximize our time and our impact, so we’ll make it work. I send everyone the plan for the morning and then begin my evening of catching up on work and blogging about the day.

It’s been a good one.

See you tomorrow readers!


Cherity Koepke is Opera Colorado’s Director of Education & Community Programs and the Director of the Artist in Residence Program. To learn more about some of Opera Colorado’s many education and community opportunities, click here. To learn more about this year’s Artists in Residence, click here.

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