Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Ville-The Final Curtain: Homecoming

There's an old Motown song, covered almost simultaneously by Issac Hayes and The Jackson Five, enititled "Never Can Say Goodbye". It's a tune that kept running through the soundtrack of my mind when I visited Pollardville for the very last time. Maybe it's a good thing I don't own an Ipod. I probably would have loaded it up with a plethora of send-off tunes, including "Auld Land Syne", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Nearer My God to Thee".
Even though I knew this was to be The Grand Finale for this beloved institution, I actually tried to put that thought on the backburner, rationalizing that this was more of a reunion than a wake, as others had called it. Chalk it up to an atypical case of denial, one of my specialities. Want fries with that?
Even though I packed lightly for the trip, I brought a lot of emotional baggage with me. I can honestly say that my ulterior motive for this Cherney Journey was to find some answers to at least some of these questions that have been nagging me since before I moved to Oregon. I was hoping that the finality of the situation I was about to deal with at Pollardville was going to help me confront whatever it was that's eating at my ass all this time. Primarlily, the big issue tended to be "Whatever happened to me?" I've felt a big gap in my life, a void that desperately needed filling and returning to my roots would be the best starting point for this voyage to the bottom of the me.
Of course I really wanted to see the Ville one last time. I had been looking forward to seeing the Palace Showboat reopened and perform on that stage one last time. Tickets for the reunion had sold out and there were going be people there that I have not seen forever and a day and that in itself was going to be a cure for my on-going blues.
Me, Scott Duns, DW Landingham and Cory Troxclair
I traveled to California with my old friend and fellow Pollardvidian R.J. "Bob" Gossett, also an Oregon transplant. When we landed in Sacramento, he couldn't resist repeating his mantra "Everything's so flat here!", in reference to the landscape with which we were both so familiar. Oregon spoils you for other places if you return to places like central California, the heart of farmland. Of course the scenery going to be blander than where we live now. If we headed somewhere more majestic than the San Joaquin Valley like, say, the coast, which I personally prefer to Oregon's, that Bob couldn't complain. As it was, we were headed to that spot between Lodi and Stockton, so he had no argument from me. Flatter than day old Mountain Dew.
However, once on Highway 99, the big chicken in the sky beckoned to us and as I pulled my rental car into the Pollardville parking lot, nothing seemed so flat any longer. As soon as I stepped onto what I unashamedly call hallowed ground, well, as Paul McCartney once said, all my troubles seemed so far away. I might as well been skinny dipping in the waters at Lourdes. I was so elated to see that the Palace Showboat was all gusssied up for the occasion. I halfway expected to see a broken down old sea tramp, but instead feasted my eyes upon a true lady of the lake. It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint and some streamers will do. The old gal hadn't looked this good in years.
A flood of memories washed over me when I stepped inside the theater, damn near knocking me off-balance in the undertow. But then, riding the next wave were a host of all-too familiar faces, special guest stars from my past-my friends, my comrades , my fellow Palace Showboat Players. These were people with which I spent a lifetime in one form or another-on stage, off stage, performing, partying, loving and living-and sometimes, all at the same time.
They had gathered together for a final dress rehearsal for the big show planned for the following day. The theme for this extravaganza was "Remembering the Best, Forgiving the Rest", a metaphor for the reunion itself. This was to be a conglomeration of specalty acts from Palace Showboat Players combined with tributes and salutes to the grand past of that glorious stage. First up was a short melodrama, written by yours truly, entitled "Murphy's Melodrama" that was featured in one of my vaudeville shows called It's Showtine, Folks. Actually, it was a parody sketch of a melo production gone awry (Murphy's Law, hence the title). In this go-around, it was directed by the one and only D.W. Landingham with a cast that read like an all-star lineup. What an honor it was to be the creator of the last melodrama on that stage.
Since I too was on the call board, I had to participate in the rehearsal as well. I could have moaned and groaned about being on the road all day, but what was I going to do? I couldn't complain about jet lag after an hour and fifteeen minute flight from Oregon. It wasn't as if I just flew in from the East Coast. So suck it up, boyo and join the fun. This is show biz, remember?
Yes I did. I remembered everything. It all came back to me, so I went I hit the stage later that night, it was just like I never left at all. I began to feel something that I hadn't in years. I felt like myself again.
Oh yeah. I remember you.
Welcome back.

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