The only public stage auditorium in my small town is of pre-war construction and is located at the site of the recently demolished mid-high school. Sometime in the 60's it looks to have been updated for code and safety precautions, but the inadequate climate control and lack of modern conveniences have rendered the once grand auditorium as somewhat of a pariah in the community at large.
A future lottery winning purchase on my part indeed.
Head southwest about 50 miles into OKC proper however, and you'll find a theater showcase worthy of the traveling Broadway productions that successfully make their way to our flyover state.
The OKC Civic Center Music Hall, specifically the Performing Arts Theater is as nice a theater as I've ever had the pleasure of planting my substantial posterior in.
A few nights ago, Wifey and I had secured our grubby mitts on a pair of tickets belonging to some season ticket holders for a wink and a smile. In exchange for our profuse bows and appreciable thanks we were treated to the traveling production of Oprah's The Color Purple.
A kiddie drop off at the in-laws and quickie snarff at a local taco stand found us parking and walking to the theater a comfortable dozen or so minutes before curtain call.
My lovely Wife and I entered the theater and navigated through the entry way accompanied by an enthusiastic population of lobby loiterers, a good portion of which were of African heritage.
Scoring donated seats from long time season ticket holders placed us in the orchestra section, shoulder to shoulder with those fortunate hundred or so folks who have delegated a chunk of their disposable income to supporting the live theater experience.
The house lights dimmed, the string players rosined up their bows, and our journey of discovery into the wonderful lives of Alice Walker's inspirational characters began.
During the intermission I commented to my Wife that the politely enthusiastic reaction to the play of those we were sitting with was in stark contrast to the raucously ebullient response on display from the upper tiers of the theater.
While it hadn't dawned on me earlier, I took advantage of the raised house lights to take a studied look around the section in which we were sitting. The majority of our fellow orchestral pit sitters were Caucasian baby-boomers, one or two generations above where I currently stand in the timeline of life.
For a brief moment I wondered where all the excited faces of color that we saw upon entering the theater had gone to, realizing soon enough that the sections behind and above us were reserved for individual, non-season ticket holding show goers.
While I didn't make a studied survey of races and ages in every seating section, the irony of the coincidental and non-racially motivated segregation of the audience at this particular show, was not lost on me.
I'll leave my critique of the show to the more articulate and salaried reviewers of the world, but both Wifey and I were inspired, enthralled and driven to extremes in emotion and hand holding for the duration of the show.
I was thankful for the comp'd seats and ample leg room afforded us in the orchestra section, but it did sound like the upper tier sections were having a better time.
And the balcony? Well, that was just one big party.