Monday, January 28, 2013

A Whole New World

One must be fortified to face the gauntlet of Disney.

Knowing this, I agreed to meet my out-of-town friend for the last time before he motors home.

He was spending the afternoon trolling Carytown, so I suggested Secco for dinner.

What I hadn't expected was how full they would be, but we managed a couple of bar stools smack in the center of the bar.

I chose a La Torre Rosso di  Montelcino, billed as a "baby Brunello" from the secret stash chalkboard list while the visitor went with a Spanish Rioja.

The first thing that caught friend's eye was their newest crostini of egg slices, marinated white anchovies and fresh herbs.

While waiting for that to arrive, he saw the squid ink bucatini with sea urchin carbonara, so he ordered that and it arrived in no time.

He was surprised at how much pig it contained, but I'd had it before and knew.

Parsnip soup was poured over an over-sized rye crouton, apple butter and celery and had a deliciously creamy mouthfeel without the sense that we were eating a bowl of cream and the understated touch of apple butter on the finish was lovely.

The tardy crostini was well worth the wait, a very Italian and rustic combination of eggs and briny little fish that we both gave the thumbs up.

I'd had the lamb sliders with date relish and Cambozola cheese before, but the visitor couldn't help but be impressed with the savory little burgers, mentioning how surprisingly filling they were.

Or maybe it was just the four dishes we'd consumed in short order.

I'd have quite there, but my friend wanted dessert and chose the cream puffs with caramel sauce, four mouth-filling bites drizzled in a dense caramel.

I was pleased that my big city friend had been so impressed with secco, saying how much better the food was than it typically is in a wine bar.

Clearly he hasn't been to the right Richmond wine bars.

Then it was time for him to head back up I-95 (he had my condolences) so that I could move on to something that only happens once.

That's right, I'm talking about the Ghost Light Afterparty one year anniversary party.

Theater types in Disney-inspired costumes singing the corniest songs ever written.

Of course, it's their childhood, so they didn't see it that way.

But as a neighbor said to me in the lobby before things got started, "I hope someone tells us what's what when they sing because I don't know any of these movies."

The costumes, on the other hand. represented a broad swath of Disney movies.

Snow White (1937). The Little Mermaid (1989). The Lion King (1994). Alice in Wonderland (1951).

Even pianist Sandy was Esmerelda (Aladdin 1992).

"Dueling Minnie Mouses!" I heard a guy say.

The first order of business was introducing the three judges. who were presented with slap watches to give them magical judging powers.

"Go out into the wold and judge!" host Matt instructed them.

As befits a Disney extravaganza, the first song was a singalong to "Circle of Life," complete with bongos, tambourine and someone placing a stuffed tiger on the mic stand for the whole room to sing to.

And, believe me, the majority of the room was also singing along to every word.

Afterwards, Matt announced, "For those of you who are here for the first time, that is just what this is about."

As in, sing anything, make mistakes, crack up mid-song, sing into your drink instead of the microphone.

Anything goes, in other words. And no judgments (other than for costumes).

There's usually a raffle at the Afterparty and while showing the prizes, hostess Maggie held up a piece of art and said its name, "Flower Shower" and its year (2006).

"It's vintage, y'all," Matt said about an object not even seven years old. Hysterical.

Lots of newbies sang tonight, a portly sultan sang an Adele song, and one song got sung twice.

Sarah (in Mouseketeer ears) and Matt (in a Mad Hatter teenage girl costume) got up to sing "A Whole New World," with Sarah saying that she'd sung that song by herself in second grade for the school talent show.

She also mentioned that she'd grown up in the trailer park capital of the country, somewhere in Florida and even took a bow for that.

Deservedly so.

Themes are always loose concepts at GLAP, so we also heard "Summer Nights" from "Grease" with the audience enthusiastically contributing the "tell me more, tell me more" refrain.

Maggie admitted to a Juice Newton obsession and gave us "Queen of Hearts," her karaoke favorite.

Mid-show there was a surprise 20 questions for hosts Matt and Maggie on the occasion of the GLAP's first anniversary.

Some of the more fascinating nuggets?

Maggie's first role was as the carrot in "Stone Soup."

Matt's dream role is Hedwig, he admitted, "And if anyone in town wants to hire me for that role, I'll blow you."

Now, that's what the Ghost Light Afterparty is about.

In the middle of the questions (Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck?), a lit birthday cake was brought out and the whole room sang happy birthday to the GLAP.

After learning a few more things in the last of the 20 questions (both would rather be mute than deaf because giving up music would be impossible), it was intermission.

That means two things: dance music and pizza.

Tonight it also meant chocolate birthday cake, so Sunday slid into Monday while everyone got their munch on.

The break always yields great eavesdropping, none better tonight than, "You're a wonderful dancer. And you're beautiful," to a man with a wonderful and beautiful back, at least from where I stood.

The second set began with all the costume contenders onstage and it was a colorful bunch.

Merlin, Ursula, Snow White's evil queen, Cruella deVille. Belle.

And then back to so many songs sung from so movies I'd never seen.

I did recognize when Mouseketeers Matt and Katie got up to sing Walt Disney's favorite Disney song, "Feed the Birds" from "Mary Poppins."

Katie forewarned us that she'd be singing in a fake British accent while Matt played the guitar.

What she failed to mention was that she'd be making asides throughout the song ("tuppence, that's like a penny").

All at once Brittney and Matt walked onstage and they'd switched costumes.

"This is just something we thought needed to happen all night," he said, incandescent in Brittney's sea foam blue gown and flipping the long red curly wig, while she now wore his Mad Hatter guise.

"Thanks for playing with us for one whole year!" Matt said to the audience just before the last song.

Bartender Evan got up on stage in his costume of green cap with red feather and green t-shirt.

"People keep asking me if I'm Peter Pan or Robin Hood," he joked. "Neither! I'm Chase Kniffen!"

It wouldn't be a GLAP if there wasn't some local theater humor.

Evan took over keyboard duties for "Kiss the Girl" from everyone's favorite "The Little Mermaid," while half the room joined him to shake things (balls, tambourines), sing along or dance.

That closed out the show on one solid year of GLAP shenanigans.

Damn, the Ghost Light Afterparty started in 2012 and you know what that means.

That's vintage, y'all.

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