It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, that Adventurers Club has finally closed. I’m sitting here right now, capturing the video from my DV camera from many nights of adventure, listening to the familiar sounds of the Radio Broadcast, and the Balderdash Cup. Remembering at every line just how amazing the current cast was. There wasn’t a one amongst them I didn’t enjoy watching and find hilarious. Natasha and I actually spent the day Sunday quoting lines back and forth as they giggled forth.
The last day of the Adventurers Club was really an amazing experience. Fans camped the club starting at 8AM that morning. Natasha and I got there at 5PM and were 195 or so in line. Just close enough to get us inside, thank goodness. Many, many people didn’t make it in the doors.
While we were waiting, some of the servers and cast showed up and looked absolutely floored by the number of people in line. They took pictures, they chatted, and they pumped up the crowd. This was going to be, as Hathaway would put it, “AWESOME!” I really wanted to ask one of them what it felt like to be the cast of Star Trek.
Before the official opening, the characters came out, and we got he huge surprise that Sutter Bestwick, one of the adventurers who hadn’t been at the club in a while in the flesh, had actually showed up for the final show. It was awesome that the characters came out to get us all ready for a final Kungaloosh!
I admit it, I welled up a bit during the first new member induction. Natasha and I were standing there on the center balcony, wrapped up in the rally as Pamelia and Fletcher led us through the handshake and creed, and I just had a moment, where I felt it all rushing up. It wasn’t sadness or depression, it really was this welling up of all the happy moments, this tidal wave of visions of how many times I’d been through the induction, or been in the Radio Show, or gotten to be a part of the show.
A friend of mine and I have often discussed the idea of books or movies that we like being places we like to be. Those are the books that you go back to, you read over and over again, and you love getting lost and surrounded by the emotional and artistic landscape. That was the Adventurers Club for me — a place I loved to be. Natasha and I would fall into bed after a good night there, pass out, wake up the next morning creatively energized, having spent a night full of phantasmagoric dreams and visions. I remember how many nights I dreamed about giant mansions full of secret passages, and being on safari in strange places full of magic. How can you not love a place that gives you visions?
If it all sounds a little strange, just chalk it up to being a relatively safe form of absinthe.
That night we went to the Balderdash Cup, which proved what a weird, experimental theatrical experience the club was. The show pits Otis T. Wren, Hathaway Browne, and visiting Junior Adventurer Emil Bleehal against each other in a battle of adventurous tales. The story structure is meant to lead the audience down the garden path of voting for Emil, the innocent and underdog, and not to vote for Otis, who was cheating to win. But this night, methinks there was some Internet collusion going on because Otis (played by an actor who is a fan favorite for his amazing ability to chew the scenery in an amazingly funny way) got a standing ovation and won the cup!
This is not supposed to happen, right? Wrong! That was the whole point of the club. You never knew what was going to happen. The audience was involved in almost everything, and that means you never know what’s going to happen because the script is advisory. It’s the critical path through the story, but that’s not what we’re there for anyway. We’re there for the twists and turns. We’re there for the adventure of not knowing what’s going to happen next.
I voted for Emil, I admit it. Not very creative, but Emil performed the entire show in an amazing, amazing duet with Emil Sr., his dad, who was portrayed by one of the actors who opened the club 19 years ago. Both of them are amazingly funny people. But the real trick is, Emil Jr. has this way of digging straight to the emotional core of a scene. Otis runs out with the cup, hooting and hollering, and the crowd sits there in smug satisfaction, and Emil looks at the crowd and says something like, “How could you? I wanted to win it for my pappy!” And I think just a few of those smug people had a big moment of regret, thinking, “I was just fooling around. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone,” as they squirm in their seats.
And he took it to the Hoopla, too. I thought I had it all under control, and he sang this beautiful Jonathan Coulton song, When You Go…
Only a moment ago we had nothing but time
Everything lasted forever and you were all mine
Only a dream I know
Thinking you’d never go
Tearing off pieces of myself
Just for the time it buys me
Fold my heart up small
Or break it into pieces
Find somewhere and keep it there
Take it when you go
And he sings it to the Adventurers Club. To the place. To the place I want to be. To the place, which as he said, was the bookshelves and the masks and the walls. But unsaid was the true thing that it was also the people, the actors, the audience, the crew, the bartenders, the Imagineers that built the place and decorated it, and the writers and directors who imbued it with characters and show. And I loved it.