The dress rehearsal performances for the Tattoo took place on Thursday evening. The first performance was for some military personnel – cadets, I think. The second was a chance for the press to be on the field taking pictures of the performances; it was also a public ticketed performance (even the dress rehearsal show was sold out, as is every performance of the Tattoo).
The second performance of the evening is when it really hit that “This is it! Here we go for the first time of many over the next several weeks. It’s show time!!”
The portcullis doors opened at the radio cue to the soldier manning the post (yes, this really IS a military tattoo – all the folks at the all the performance entrances and exits, all the people doing logistical stuff for the show, etc. are all active military) and we were given the command to march. We start with 16 silent paces before the snare drums come in for another 16 paces, then the bass drums come in for the final 16 paces of drum intro. The fifes come up and we begin to play “The White Cockade” just as we reach the end of the castle drawbridge. We find the center line marked in blue/gray on the asphalt and head down it until the end of the tune when we start our marching maneuvers and are into the next tunes. When we came over the drawbridge, I expected to see some people with cameras, but I don’t think ANY of us expected to see a huge swarm of photographers and cameramen – and right in our faces for the entire performance. If there was ever a test of our ability to focus and concentrate, this was it. It was surreal! Even at the biggest parades or Harborfest events in Boston or the Boston Pops performances, we have never had this many press in our faces for so long. For the most part they did very well at avoiding us and watching for us to change directions, start or stop marching, etc. There were a couple, though, that were a little slow in moving out of the way!! One of our fifers actually got a camera lens with his knee, another had to tap a photographer on the shoulder to get him to move out of the way. They truly were like a swarm of bees while we were performing, swirling around even if you move away, they follow. But even that distraction wasn’t’ enough to hide the crowd reaction from us. They cheered in all the appropriate places, and generally seemed to really like us and our show. We were all really pleased with how we performed and I think we made a really good impression on everyone.
MCV rocked for both performances. We really do rise to the occasion with our music and marching when our feet are to the fire! We had some friends in the audience as well. Bill Rose and his wife, reenacting friends from back home; Brian and Sylvia fro England (Brian was our bus driver for several of our European adventures); as well as other friends and family that have met up with us over here. Bill Rose gave us two thumbs up as he walked by our bus as we waited to be driven back to our university flats after the second performance.
Tonight, Friday, is the official opening night of the Tattoo. Let’s hope we can do just as well tonight!!