Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ragtime Robert

After booking our flight to California we were thrilled to read on Facebook that Robert was having a special intimate outdoor concert during our trip. The concert was called "I've Never Done that Before" and featured many pop culture songs he had never before performed, or had played prior to working on the arrangements for his show.

The night before we saw a different kind of magic when we watched Kimberly as a magician's assistant.

In the months leading up to the concert he asked his friends for suggestions of songs by various artists. In most cases he had to create scores that showcased his talents. He played pieces by Elton John, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, John Williams, and others. He shared some of the stories with us that evening. I did not recognize many of the songs, but I could appreciate Robert poured his his heart and soul into each one. 
Robert had many jacket changes. He debuted a couple at this show, including this one and the parrot-like one, made by his friend, Lori. They added to the ambiance of the evening.
We paid a slight upgrade to be able to sit on the stage with Robert. Hence our view, was similar to his. We could watch his hands as he played, similar to when we see him play at Disneyland.

Lori helping Robert into his new jacket.

I wish there had been a program, or that I had scratched notes. It is hard three weeks later to remember the details. While wearing this jacket, Robert played Copacabana in a medley of Barry Manilow tunes. 

Dancing with Jane while the piano played by itself.
Jane and her husband met around Robert's piano.
Act 2 included a John Williams medley, which involved Robert having to create piano scores to fit his style. Through the magic of his new piano, he sang along with himself during a Mary Poppins medley, much to the amusement of his grandchildren, who heard him rehearse in the months leading up to the performance.

John Williams characters

Robert's view

Roses (complete with thorns) from his grandchildren.

During the evening we caught up with friends we have met at Disneyland over the years, mostly around Robert's piano. It made me miss those magical Disneyland evenings. Unfortunately (for a variety of reasons) not everyone could be there that evening. The evening was over much too quickly. I missed them, as I hoped to catch up with them, too. 

With the Maestro
During the show I could not help but think about Chris's senior show. Both one-man shows were a reflection of a man who put his heart and soul into every moment of the performance, while hoping with every ounce of themselves that the audience would appreciate it as much as he did. While I may not be a Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond fan, I am a Ragtime Robert fan and appreciate the passion he brought to the evening, and love that he did it for his fans, as well as for himself. It was a labor of love.

A few days later we sat around the piano at Coke Corner and had a semi-private concert surrounded by hundreds of people having snacks and eating their lunch, oblivious to the talent in front of them. Had it been a Sunday night we would have reconnected with those friends again, but it was a Tuesday afternoon, thus I was able to have a front row seat and count his fingers as he played his familiar Disney-repertoire. There are times I think there must be at least 11 or 12 fingers (could easily be closer to 20), but every time I count or take a picture as proof, there really are only ten. Other than sixty years of practice, and a passion, I have no idea how he does it.

No comments:

Post a Comment