"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Making Into The Woods Our Own

Community theaters get access to shows only after they have run their course on the professional circuit. We are constantly told people would LOVE to see us do Wicked or The Lion King, but we can't, they haven't been released to amateurs yet. This means the shows we produce have already been seen by, or at least become a bit familiar in a second hand way to, theater fans. They enter with expectations, not in the open-to-anything way they might go to see a show that's brand new to the world. This can present a challenge, as we simply can't do some of the things Broadway can, from a technical standpoint for sure, but even from an artistic standpoint. The last two shows Brunswick Little Theatre performed on the big stage at Odell Williamson Auditorium were perfect examples. Everyone has seen Wizard of Oz and they come to the show expecting to see familiar things. Beauty and the Beast is so popular on Broadway and as a touring show, that even those who haven't seen it know what it is "supposed" to look like. We strived to meet these expectations and I think succeeded pretty well, but it was fun this year to get a chance to break out a little bit.

Into The Woods is familiar to theater fanatics, a favorite of many, but less so to the general public. This gave us, and director Jen Iapalucci in particular, an opportunity to put our own stamp on the show. Jen possesses the most unique and wonderful form of creative intelligence I've ever run across in a person. She can imagine the most amazing things then figure out how to make them reality. This is why I call her Walt. She has a blog all about it, you should check it out. Jen took a hold of Into The Woods, an already amazing piece of art, and made it her own with two big additions. First off, she gave the whole show a Steampunk look with the sets and costumes. This turned out really well given the duality and sort-of-real/sort-of-fantasy feel of the whole show. The costumes are spectacular and the set is wowing audiences, so it's clearly worked. The Wilmington newspaper reviewer even liked it despite being "over" the whole Steampunk thing himself. The cast loves the way they look and that helps a show tremendously. Kudos to Jen and the whole set and costume crews.

But Steampunk versions of Broadway shows aren't unique. What really impressed me, and what makes this show really ours, is her addition of an all-ages (but mostly children) ensemble. The Broadway show features nothing of the sort. I never told her so, but I admire Jen's courage in doing this. It's really putting a part of herself on stage for approval. This grew out of Jen's very personal love for children and insistence on making them (including her own) a part of BLT's summer musicals. She was all-in on this, too. The ensemble wasn't
just layered on top of the show, she wove them into it. If it worked, the show worked, but if not, if audiences saw it as a distraction, it could have hurt the whole production. Jen created mini-scenes, little stories within the story, for the kids to act out. She used them to create special effects like the giant and the beanstalk. She used them to create mood and help enhance the characters around them (in one instance, for example, they are flowers that wilt as the Witch approaches). They aren't icing an audience can scape off and still enjoy the cake beneath, the are baked right in there. That was a risk, to be sure, but one Jen is uniquely qualified to take.
Most of the Ensemble in a publicity photo
The Beanstalk
Milky White, the hen that lays golden eggs and stolen giant's harp are all ensemble members

Watching this come together, I knew it worked just as Jen envisioned it. The kids took to their roles with gusto and skill and the adults allowed them right into the show with enthusiasm and understanding. I knew *I* loved it and "got" what was happening, but I wondered how a critic would see it. Would he be one of those who believed local amateur theater should be judged solely on how close to the original they could get? Or would he get it as I did? We got our answer in the Star News' review yesterday:

Iapalucci's decision to cast a chorus of kids bolsters the whole fairy tale angle. Children play the birds who aid Cinderella and they open green umbrellas on a staircase to create Jack's beanstalk. It's a winning idea, even if a couple of the young performers' roles aren't entirely clear. 

He got it. And that was nice. But I find what I like most about Jen's  additions to Into The Woods is that, even as personal and very "her" they are, they make the show BELONG to all of us in the cast and crew. This isn't Broadway's Into The Woods, it's Brunswick Little Theatre's Into The Woods.

And it's EPIC.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Things I ALREADY Love About BLT's Into The Woods

We can start with that poster. Cool, huh?

I've been happily watching this show come together and largely keeping my mouth shut about it. We open two weeks from last night. Two weeks from this moment, I will be backstage at Odell Williamson Auditorium. I like that idea. So, I'm going to list a few of the other things that make me happy about this show, and particularly Brunswick Little Theatre's production of it.

1. The Writing

James Lupine is credited with "the book" on this show. That's, to my simple understanding of musicals, the words between the songs. I imagine he and Stephen Sondheim worked together hand and glove with the lyrics and spoken word bits. The story is told largely in song, so they had to. It really worked, in ways I truly admire as an aspiring writer.

During the opening number, there's a knock on the door to The Baker's cottage. His Wife asks who it is and The Baker responds in a way that sums up so clearly where this journey is taking us. Into The Woods is largely about normal people's responses to unusual situations. It is a great mix of the fantastic and the mundane, both feeding our imagination and relating to us in ways we can completely identify with ourselves. The Baker and his Wife take it for granted there's a witch next door, but it doesn't mean they completely buy into that part about "magic beans." That just strikes me as funny, they accept she's a witch but are suspicious that the beans she claims are magical really are more than just beans. The whole show and all the characters in it are like that. They are upset by a giant walking around their little world, but accept that giants sometimes do that. Cinderella talks to birds and her dead mother, but is shocked to see a giant beanstalk. It just goes to show that "impossible" is often in the eyes of the beholder.

I'm also in love with the idea that so few characters have names. The story is centered on The Baker and The Baker's Wife. Don't assume the show is sexist for identifying the female lead only as the wife of the male lead, the two Princes and called Cinderella's Prince and Rapunzel's Prince.  We also have The Witch, Granny, Little Red Riding Hood, The Wolf, the Evil Stepmother, and Cinderella's Father. Cinderella and Rapunzel have names, of course, but they are so well-ingrained in our cultural identity that both are essentially meaningless as personal monikers. The only two "real names" in the show are the Evil Stepsisters Florinda and Lucinda, which I'm pretty sure speaks to some greater point, but I haven't figured it out yet. The lack of personal names lends the whole story a general appeal, as if it's about US and not just THEM. I'm sure that was the idea, and this isn't a new or particularly subtle way to go about generalizing one's lessons, but I love it nonetheless.  There really is a bit of all these characters in all of us. We are greedy and cutthroat and kind and generous, we are clever and simple, we are loyal and fickle, we are brave and cowardly. And our children WILL listen, just as we did to our parents and their children will to them someday.

2. Steampunk

Jen decided to give this show a steampunk flair in its costumes and set, and it's looking great. If you aren't familiar with the term, steampunk refers to a sort of style based upon Victorian-age science fiction. It's Jules Verne-esque stuff, full of brass and airships and goggles and proto-industrial tech. Not to brag, but I was steampunk WAY before steampunk was cool. I was drawn as a young'un, totally mesmerized, to the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea attraction in Disney's Tomorrowland. I mean, it was a submarine that looked like a big, metal fish. And you could see all the bolts! I loved blimps and airships. I had a Goodyear Blimp model in my room. I wore goggles and funky hats whenever I could get my hands on them. Back then I was weird. Today, it's a whole subculture and people are going to a lot of expense and trouble to look like I wanted to when I was 8. Jen has designed a whole show to fit my elementary school imagination, and I couldn't be happier to be a part of it.

3. The Costumes

I'll let them speak for themselves.

4. Milky White

Into The Woods features as a sort of character Jack's cow, Milky White. Milky White has been portrayed in different productions using everything from a big prop cow on wheels to an actor in a cow costume. Jen has chosen the middle road, an actor carrying a cow prop.  It's a great idea as it gives the audience a cow but also allows an actor to portray the cow's, well, emotions. The cow goes through a lot. And the actor Jen chose, a teenager named Chase Costen, has totally embraced his bovine side. In rehearsals, I've seen him react with his face and body in logical ways to what the cow is doing and seeing. When they line up to do vocal warm-ups, Chase brings his cow. He gets that they are one piece, not a boy carrying a prop. It's a little thing, but it really tickles me.

That's about all I feel I can say right now. We build the set next Saturday and I am sure I will be adding that to my list. But I don't want to give too much away. You'll have to come see for yourself. Find out all about it here. You'll not be disappointed

Friday, May 30, 2014

What A Long, Strange Trip It Was

Ok, so the show didn't include any Grateful Dead (for which I am eminently grateful myself) but I couldn't resist. For nine glorious days over the last couple weeks, I got to play roadie to a rock band. How many people get that chance? I had done this last year on a similar show and loved it, so I was really looking forward to this run. I had to cut it back a bit. Last year I spent well over 40 hours the first week at Franklin Square Park, but this year work just wouldn't allow me the same flexibility. It all worked out well, though. I put in a respectable bit of work and the director stepped up and helped set up and break down the show to a much greater extent. Director Mark worked his butt off on this show, I gotta say he IS pretty rock and roll. As it was, I ended up getting to the park between 4 and 5 pm and leaving about 11:30 each night. Let me tell you, the 4:30 am alarm comes early on that schedule. I think I'm still recovering. But oh my Lord, was it ever worth every killer second!!!!

My main role, the one I volunteered for, was light guy. I had my first experience with this last year at the British Invasion park show and have picked up a little extra here and there since then from Frank Blackmon, our resident tech guru and a retired electrical engineer. The light set-up for our park shows is necessarily simple, we have two metal lighting bars we erect and are able to screw some more lights into the frame of the gazebo that serves as our stage. We started with eleven lights, three facing the stage on each light bar, one over the piano, three over the drums and one aimed out towards the audience in the general direction of the port-a-potty.

While Frank and I were sitting on a park bench congratulating ourselves on getting all these lights hooked up in such a way that they came on and off at our command from the light controller (not as easy as one would hope), along comes the show's director with his vision for the lighting of the show printed neatly on two pages of paper. I was kind of tickled that he thought to put thought into the lighting, so I wanted to make things look as much like he wanted as possible. The problem was our lighting isn't so much traditional stage lighting, used to set mood and affect color and such, as it is essentially a series of spotlights that can illuminate certain areas of the stage. They are too close to the performers to blend together or light any more than one or maybe two people at a time. But Frank isn't the kind to be deterred and always likes making anything more complicated (he IS an engineer after all) so he immediately decided we could add more lights, ones with definite color to them. "We need back lighting, anyhow" he announced and we set about finding some smaller lights and hanging six of them, two each red, yellow and blue, in the back left and right corners of the stage. I'm not sure how well they conveyed the moods the director was looking for, but I diligently attempted to light the songs as he directed. Upon hearing they'd be backlit, the costume queen/vocalist Jen turned to her sister, another vocalist, and announced they'd need slips under their hippy dresses. That's why we have costume people, the light guys wouldn't have thought of that. :-)

Here you can see all our lights but the drum and piano lights, they are facing towards the back attached to the gazebo itself. See the little one aimed towards the audience? Supposed to light the way to the port-o-potties. I labeled it "PP" on my light board.

This is my light board and the notes I made myself so I'd know what to turn on and off when. The notes got soaked in a rainstorm and needed repair. The beer just seemed to fit this show perfectly.

So, I tried very hard to light the show as Director Mark hoped while also putting light on the singers and instruments that were involved in a song. I tried to time bringing lights up on background vocalists just before they began to sing, to bring lights down on the vocalist during instrumental breaks and to focus attention where it should be at any given time. I'm pretty happy with the job I did there. But the most fun part of the job was what Frank called the "DJ Light". It was affixed center stage aimed up above the band so it hit half on the gazebo and half into the tree canopy behind and above with funky, multi-colored lights in a variety of patterns. It looked pretty cool, but I figured it should be used sparingly, especially since most of this show's songs weren't of the hard rockin', funky light needing variety. I saved it up in the first set for Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit. It turned out perfect.

You see, no one notices the lights, they shouldn't notice if you are doing a good job, I think. But in this instance, the debut of the DJ Light timed with the opening words of the song got audible gasps and "ooooo's" from the crowd. My father asked me if I paid the folks sitting next to them to "oooooo" on cue, actually, the first night he came to the show. This really made me happy. White Rabbit was Jen's first solo number of the show and she killed it every night. The timing of the song in the set had something to do with the crowd reaction as well, I think. Concerts ebb and flow as they go along and this song marked the end of an ebbing of the energy level and a reminder that this was a rock and roll show. It was one of those Walt and Roy moments, Jen in the spotlight on stage as artist and me under the tech tent helping things along in the background, both combining to create a great moment that actually got real response from a few hundred souls each night. I'd never experienced anything quite like it and it was really, really fun. Here's a link to the YouTube video, it's cool :-)

Aside from the actual running of the lights, my roadie work was much more mundane. I set up and broke down much of the non-music related equipment, ran cords (lots and lots of cords) hither and yon, plugged said cords back in when over-exuberant fans pulled them out causing black-outs and loss of half our sound, and provided tape and staples and velcro as needed. I was sort of stage manager of the operation, though less so than last year. One quasi-stage manager task I sort of adopted for myself was attempting to get the audience sat down after intermission and ready to hear the first song of the second set. It began with Crosby, Stills and Nash's Find The Cost of Freedom, which is beautiful and this band did acapella to wonderful effect. Harmonies were their strong suit. Problem was, without "house lights" to blink, people had a hard time knowing when intermission was over. Mark wanted the song to start quietly on a darkened stage, which was an awesome idea and a great effect, but because it was so dim and mellow to begin with, and it's a really short number, the song was over before anyone really knew they were singing. I tried a variety of methods to find out when the band planned to begin the second set and get the audience's attention, but none worked. The sound person was often just as confused and still out visiting in the crowd while the band was trying to begin. No one knew what was happening and it was sort of a frustration each night until the last. That last Sunday, during church actually, I had an idea that actually worked. Before the band took the stage, but while they were about ready to come out, I used our microphone in the tech tent to announce that BLT was dedicating the next song to those who gave their lives in defense of freedom. It was heartfelt on my part, it fit right in with it being Memorial Day weekend, and it got people's attention. For the last show at least, that beautful song got the attention it deserved :-)

 After three nights of tech rehearsal and six shows, we were all exhausted. My experience ended in an entirely appropriate manner. The band had all left for a cast party and it was just roadies, tech folk and groupies left in the park (Lisa and I, the Awesome Flow Family and Frank). Everything was finally packed away and locked up. We looked at our tech tent. It was old and took a beating during a storm the first weekend of the show. We had decided earlier to retire it, but Frank wanted to take it home to try to combine with another broken tent to make one good one. Did I mention he was an engineer? Anyhow we set upon the poor thing trying to fold it's broken and bent frame into something that would fit in a pick-up truck. For some reason, we all found this hilarious. So there we were, five nerds wrestling with aluminum sticks in a city park at near midnight, laughing our butts off. It may not be the first thing you think of when you think rock and roll, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Into The Woods

Into the woods,
It's time to go,
I hate to leave,
I have to, though.
Into the woods-
It's time, and so
I must begin my journey.

I don't hate to leave, leave this work week behind. I'm kinda really happy to switch gears from rednecks and thugs and malt liquor and trying to spin straw into gold so my company won't sell half my area of responsibility and make my position in the company tenuous. I'm ready to walk into a room full of excitement and talent and hopefulness. I'm ready to work with amazing and talented people, to help a friend, to learn more about this world of theater.

 Into the woods
And through the trees
To where I am
Expected ma'am,
Into the woods
To Grandmother's house

Yeah, I'm expected. "I would expect nothing less" is how it was put when I asked if I could be of assistance at auditions today. It's not granny's house, it's Building F-is-for-Fabulous on the campus of our local community college, but being plum out of grannies, it'll pass. It's an odd space. It's hell to take photos that don't turn an odd sort of yellow there. It's a special needs classrooms in its real life, but today it'll be Audition Central. 

The way is clear,
The light is good,
I have no fear,
Nor no one should.
The woods are just trees,
The trees are just wood.
I sort of hate to ask it,
But do you have a basket?

This is my third stage managing job, and yes, I finally feel like the way is clear and I really have no fear. I'm not saying I can tell where this journey will take me or exactly what I'll wind up doing, but I know what the job is in the general sense and I know I can do it well. The unknowns are the fun part. I've got a new basket (bag o' tricks) courtesy of my parents at Christmas and it's full of the tools of the trade - duct tape, medicine, staple gun, duct tape, flashlights, safety pins, scissors, duct tape, Velcro, pens, paper, duct tape, screw drivers, hammer, pliers and duct tape. 

Into the woods
And down the dell,
The path is straight,
I know it well.
Into the woods,
And who can tell
What's waiting on the journey?

The path will be anything but straight. Jen declared this show "EPIC" months ago and I think she'll wind up being exactly right. I would imagine any production of a musical is an adventure, but community theater is especially so. Volunteers are different critters from paid actors. More fun, more interesting and more impressive in my opinion, but different and twistier. Rehearsing in a classroom for a show to be staged in a real big theatre is a challenge. We get one week to rehearse and work out technical issues in our performance venue. Twisty. But I've seen Jen and Michael Stringer (our musical director) do it before and they will do it again. 

The truth is, no one can tell what's waiting on the journey. But today we take a big step toward finding out WHO will be going on this journey with us. Break a leg, friends. I look forward to being your go-to guy when the path gets twisty.


So, Jen chose to use the song from which I took these lyrics as the movement part of the auditions. Proving once again that great minds think alike :-) I'm so excited, there are so many positives surrounding this venture. 

And I already had to use my Bag o' Tricks :-)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Refuting The Top 14 Reasons Not To Go To Disney, Part 8

So I'm happily looking at my Facebook newsfeed the other day and one of those "Sponsored" things is up there. It's from a site called Viral Travel (which sounds like a bad idea on the face of it) and is entitled 13 Reasons Not To Go To Disney. Of course I bite. Sue me. So its about what I expect, the same things we Disney fans expect from you non-Disney fans-- crowds, expense, capitalism, yadda yadda yadda. The thing is, many of these criticisms are true to a large extent, but avoidable. I hate to see people get spoiled on the Disney I love because they go about the whole experience unprepared logistically or mentally for the realities of the place. I figured just for kicks to take the 13 reasons one by one (or two by two) and try to explain why they don't keep ME from the Magic. This part four, part one is here, two here, three here, four here, five here, six here, and seven here.

3. The souvenir shops are designed to make you take out a second mortgage.

See that cute little Mickey knickknack, the one that would look just perfect on your mantle next to your Tinker Bell spoon collection? That’ll be $80. Any decent shirts or other clothing items are about the same price, just because they have a mouse embroidered on them.

There are also all kinds of clever key chains, phone cases, handbags, hats, wallets, cheap plastic toys, stuffed animals, dress-up items, snow globes, license plate frames, and pretty much every other type of souvenir you can imagine, plus some you wish you never knew existed.

Getting caught up in the pin collecting and trading looks affordable at first, but those little pins start to add up to a small fortune in a hurry, especially when you find that ultra rare pin that portrays Winnie the Pooh making Captain Jack Sparrow walk the plank. Disney makes it tempting to just buy and buy stuff you don’t need.

As a guest in one of the park’s hotels, you can have the merchandise you buy sent to your room, free of charge, which encourages you to spend even more. If you don’t watch it, you’ll blow through your savings in no time and will leave the park penniless.

I'm thinking this writer is at least in part simply anti-capitalist. I imagine in that posting-about-the-evils-of-corporations-using-your-MacBook kinda way. A Hipster anti-capitalist. Gag me.

Yes, Walt Disney World exists to make money for the shareholders of the Disney corporation. If that bothers you, stay home. Or move to North Korea. Good bye.

For those of you who are left, yes, the massive collection of STUFF available for purchase in Disney's shops is astonishing. If you are any sort of Disney fan at all, you'll see lots you simply MUST have. Step back. You don't need it. Disney isn't evil for making these things available, they are catering to the desires of their guests, but you need to be smart. And strong :-)

There are a few ways to help yourself, and your family, resist the temptation to buy every pin, every t-shirt and every knick-knack you see. Planning. See, broken record. Decide before you leave on a budget for souvenirs and stick to it as best you can. One way to help, especially with children, is to buy Disney gift cards and use them exclusively for souvenirs and impulse buys. When the card is empty, you're done. Simple.

But DO budget for impulse buys. There are things for sale in the Disney parks that you simply won't find anywhere else. It's part of the fun of a Disney trip to find a few of these treasures and carry them home like the conquering hero. Splurge a little, but plan the splurge.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Refuting The Top 14 Reasons Not To Go To Disney, Part 7

So I'm happily looking at my Facebook newsfeed the other day and one of those "Sponsored" things is up there. It's from a site called Viral Travel (which sounds like a bad idea on the face of it) and is entitled 13 Reasons Not To Go To Disney. Of course I bite. Sue me. So its about what I expect, the same things we Disney fans expect from you non-Disney fans-- crowds, expense, capitalism, yadda yadda yadda. The thing is, many of these criticisms are true to a large extent, but avoidable. I hate to see people get spoiled on the Disney I love because they go about the whole experience unprepared logistically or mentally for the realities of the place. I figured just for kicks to take the 13 reasons one by one (or two by two) and try to explain why they don't keep ME from the Magic. This part four, part one is here, two here, three here, four here, five here, and six here.

4. The Nightly Parades Shut Everything Down

 Every night, the Disney crew puts on a very special parade complete with floats, music and lots of dancing. There are other parades that are held in different areas during the day, but they are relatively small and fairly easy to get around.

Just try to get to the other side of the park for that one last ride during the nightly parades, and you will be shocked at how much of the park instantly becomes essentially inaccessible. Even better, the nightly parades are the same thing over and over. Everyone stands and watches the first one they see, but by the second night you start to realize it is just the same boring thing as before.

The parade route is patrolled by the most overzealous Disney employees ever, and they do their best job to mimic the behaviors of a rabid junkyard dog as they tell everyone they cannot walk through a pathway well before the parade has even started.

Because of these lovely employees, if you don’t get to the area of the park where you want to stay until the parade is over, you will be stuck where you are until the ridiculous nightly procession finally ends.

Uh, no. No they don't.  You may have to walk around the lines or go the long way round rather than through the hub in front of the Cinderella Castle, but the nightly parade, nor the multiple daytime parades, shuts nothing down. If you see a Disney cast member acting like "a rabid junkyard dog" at ANY time, let me know. Yes, they try to keep you from being run down by Elliot, but they are ridiculously nice about it.
Elliot. Don't fling yourself in front of him.

We love watching the parades, but the writer is correct in that they are pretty much the same each time. This isn't a bad thing at all, though, as the parade draws such a crowd that parade time is a great time to visit the attractions. Getting around can be tricky, but the parade times and routes are well advertised. You are best to avoid Main Street at Electrical parade time, for example. But you CAN do as Lisa and I did once and ride Splash Mountain a few times until the parade is going by while you are on the ride and you get to watch the Electrical Parade from the top of the big drop.

I want to see THIS parade. Lots of times.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Refuting The 13 (now apparently 14) Reasons Not To Go To Disney, Part 6

So I'm happily looking at my Facebook newsfeed the other day and one of those "Sponsored" things is up there. It's from a site called Viral Travel (which sounds like a bad idea on the face of it) and is entitled 13 Reasons Not To Go To Disney. Of course I bite. Sue me. So its about what I expect, the same things we Disney fans expect from you non-Disney fans-- crowds, expense, capitalism, yadda yadda yadda. The thing is, many of these criticisms are true to a large extent, but avoidable. I hate to see people get spoiled on the Disney I love because they go about the whole experience unprepared logistically or mentally for the realities of the place. I figured just for kicks to take the 13 reasons one by one (or two by two) and try to explain why they don't keep ME from the Magic. This part four, part one is here, two here, three here, four here and five here.

5. The Mouse Ears And Other Hats Are Embarrassing

Even though it’s a tradition, the little mouse ears sold at the park are embarrassing, not only to wear but to also see others wearing. If you have not been to a Disney resort in a while, you will be amazed at how many different kinds of mouse ears are available to buy.

There are pirate mouse ears, ears that are themed for weddings, glow-in-the-dark ears, light-up ears, and even Jack Skellington mouse ears. Pretty much any tacky design you can think of that has anything to do with Disney has been used to make a special set of mouse ears.

Even worse, people wear the ears in the park like they are a badge of honor, just like that story about the emperor’s snazzy new clothes everyone obviously could see. Of course, if you don’t want to wear a set of ridiculous mouse ears, you can put on a Goofy or Peter Pan hat like you’re a hyperactive five year-old instead of a respectable adult.

The worst part is if you are unfortunate to have your picture taken while wearing the mouse ears, that picture might make its way onto social media for all of your friends to ridicule.

This one is personal. I like hats. I like funny hats, odd hats, unusual hats. I am a very responsible adult, I dare say possibly more responsible than a guy writing for a fly-by-night travel blog for a living. Just perhaps. I wear funny hats at Disney. I don't wear Mouse Ears because they tend to fall off my head, but I have a plaid Santa hat with mouse ears on it. I have a ridiculous safari hat. One of the things I was looking forward to on our last trip was buying a safari hat with mouse ears on it, but I was unable to find one. I was sad.

Safari Hat, sadly no Ears

If you are embarrassed at seeing other adults in funny hats, you need to forgo your Disney vacation and spend that money on therapy. Really, you'll thank me later.

As for being embarrassed to wear a silly hat in the parks yourself, that's a little  bit of a different matter. We are socialized to be safe, socially, to fit in and not do anything to stand out. We are taught to be Team Players in the best sense and drones in the collective in the worst. Certainly we need to conform to basic norms for society to function and for groups within that society to efficiently do what they need to do. Wearing Mickey Ears to your job might be a bad idea. But Disney isn't work, it's a fantasy land, a play world, a stage for showing off parts of yourself that wouldn't be easy or safe to display in the real world. That's what all those people in the Mickey Ears get that this writer misses. They (we) are having FUN, we are being silly in a place where silliness is celebrated.If that offends you, I feel really sorry for you.
Mouse Ears Santa Hat

But I'm a firm believer in carrying that freedom to be silly sometimes outside the parks. Disney has turned it into a marketing campaign with their whole Show Your Disney Side thing, but I have been a proponent of sometimes not running with the crowd for years. I wear my Mickey Ears Santa hat around a lot, to parties, parades, even work. I have a Goofy shirt that is just plain goofy. I'll dress up in odd cloths with the smallest of excuses. It's liberating, really, to simply not care what people say about you on social media or anywhere else. It's not your friends making fun, anyone who is isn't a friend and why should his or her opinion matter? Worried your boss might see? Ever stop to think that your boss may be your boss and not a drone him or herself because maybe he or she isn't an in-the-box thinker? Successful people break molds, they go outside the normal. Live a little. If it starts with a Mickey Ear hat on vacation, all the better. You might just bring some of that silliness home with you and find out that often silliness is simply another word for creativity and imagination. And those are the things that open doors.

I wore this get-up to a birthday party for our friends' son. It was Renaissance themed, so why not? The mom and dad were also dressed up and also my lovely wife.  I got the stink-eye the whole time from the Cool Kids, but really, who cares?  Life's just too short :-)