Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Tent : Life in the Round

As I sat watching The Tent : Life in the Round, a documentary about the Warwick Musical Theater aka "The Tent", a lot of names came to mind. Tom Jones, Pat Boone, Debbie Boone, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Connie Stevens, Rita Rudner, Jesus Christ Superstar, Louie Anderson, Kaleidoscope Theater, George Burns, Tony Bennett. All shows I saw at The Tent, I wish this list were longer. The Warwick Musical Theater was a gem in RI that brought big talent to a small state. The nickname "The Tent" comes from the fact that the original theater was a circus tent, that was put up and taken down every year. The permanent structure was the old AT&T pavilion from the World's Fair. It closed in 1999, and a Lowe's sits on that piece of real estate today. The film is a wonderful collection of memories from past employees, patrons, family and performers. The love for Buster and Barbara Bonoff oozes from this film.

Memories that ran through my head as I watched (close to tears most of the time):

Being freaked out by the pharisees of Jesus Christ Superstar as they entered from the back of the theater. I was on the aisle and 14. The looming, hooded figures thrilled and spooked me.

Being impressed by a guy who went to the box office when it opened the season and bought up tickets to half a dozen shows. Yeah, I married him

Being 8 months pregnant, sitting in those god-awful chairs, and savoring every moment of George Burns' act.

Taking my four year old daughter to the Kaleidoscope Theater children's series. What a wonderful exposure to live theater

Having my date wrap an arm around me during a Tony Bennett performance, a very romantic night (did not marry that one).

Watching the lovely Rita Rudner unknowingly step into the poop that was a banking crisis in RI. She handled it well, but poor thing had no idea why folks laughed at the wrong spots in her jokes.

Watching Joan Rivers give floor plants to folks she picked on during her act.

Rolling down the windows if you drove by the tent on the night of a performance. You could hear the music from the street.

Marveling at the autographed photos of celebrities when you had dinner at the Golden Lantern.

This film is a wonderful archive of a Rhode Island institution that was well used and well loved.

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